Our Travel Blog

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Driving Miss Donna - what does this mean? Whenever I want to go somewhere, if Don is home he will usually drive. He always says he is driving miss Donna! This blog is for our travels, usually with our truck and fifth wheel trailer, but sometimes in our other wheels. When we are not vacationing check in for updates, although less frequent, about our life at home and our wonderful family:)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Hot Tubs and Home!

Well once a decision is made to go home, no regrets can be made and you need to enjoy the time left on the road.

While we gone all the grandkids started school, skating, ringette, hockey and swimming. The first day of school photos were wonderful to see and we printed them and added to our photo collection on the trailer window!

We decided to stay at the Redstreak Campground in Radium, instead of the private RV park in the valley. No real reason, we just didn't need services or laundry. We had purchased a book of hot tub passes a year ago, and were able to use them up this visit.

Other than that we relaxed one day, and another took a trip north to see the town of Golden. Somehow Golden was another town our travels had missed. We have a friend who's son lives there now and we were curious. A drive through town, a stop at Timmie's, and we were back to our camper.

I love this drive out of the park. So majestic.

We had one sad event in our family while we were gone. The Cameron family dog, Heidi, passed away suddenly. We had just enjoyed 2 weeks with Heidi this summer, and she leaves a hole in everyone hearts. Farewell sweet puppy!

As I always say when we are returning home from the road, don't expect too many posts for a while. But enjoy your fall and we will update October when it's over. Thanks for coming with us.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Here We Are Again!

Settled in at Farragut State Park. We come here so often that I know the ladies at the desk. "You're from Alberta aren't you?"

Such lovely service and park!

We idled our time away for two nights here, doing lots of nothing. This is always our last US stop so we visit our favorite stores and make sure we have all the unique Costco items we don't want to miss until we return. And of course ensure we have the maximum amount of alcohol stocked up!

I spent my mornings at Ralph's coffee shop in Bayview. I'm so glad he is still open. I did have to succumb to the laundry mat one day, but with a beautiful view and a hot cappuccino even that wasn't a strain!

The last days of our trip will be spent in Radium, visiting the hot springs, so we will see you there!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Washington Visit

We decided our next stop would be the Lewis and Clark Trail State Park near Dayton WA. Sometimes I like to keep Don on his toes and this was one of those days. I researched this park, and was excited to find full services.  State parks are so much more affordable than our Alberta parks that full services aren't even a luxury. I tried to access reservations to at least see what the availability was, but the site was not working for me.

Looking forward to dumping, filling and plugging in (it was cold now), we were puzzled as we drove around the small campground and could find no serviced sites. Now readers familiar with state parks may not be as surprised as I was to find there are at least 6 state parks with that name!  UGH So no services in this one. Thankfully we are very conservative with our plumbing and water, and there was no concern over un-serviced sites.  We found a comfy place to slide into and settled in.

Our time here was spent on a drive to Kennewick and walking the small town of Dayton. I don't often post about restaurants unless it's Mo's Seafood and Chowder.  And you just have to post about Mo's!!  But we stopped at what looked like a little informal diner in Dayton called Manila Bay Café. This was so much more than a café! Locally owned and operated by a friendly family, the food was AMAZING and the atmosphere astounding. It was like a real date night. LOL So you have to suffer through a photo.  Of my beer.  haha

We did a day drive to Kennewick after resolving that we would buy a Little Buddy heater.  These are common amongst our RV friends, and especially boondockers. We are spending more and more time boondocking, and although we like the warmer days, we also appreciate the cool nights.  But that means cold mornings, and the furnace uses about 6.5 amps per hour (yes Don has that figured out). So using another heat source is the best way to conserve batteries!

Anyway, we visited several stores looking for a price close to what we saw online.  Walmart was the winner at $69.99. Some stores were as high as $129.99 for the same product! The first morning we used it I was in heaven. LOL I am so easy to please!

We also took a full circle drive east from our campsite to Kennewick, then north and east. We found Palouse State Park and wanted to see what the camping there was like.

We were about halfway to Palouse Falls when I had a life changing experience. As we were driving along highway 261 a sign appeared for Starbuck!! I take that as a sign in many ways. The coffee of my dreams had a town named after it?! Of course as it turns out this little town, population 129, was named after some railroad guy, and there was no Starbucks.

The state park was a bit odd. We never did see any camping as advertised, but we did discover Palouse Falls and have a chance to walk a bit and capture some photos! The stunning views made up for any disappointing drives we had recently taken.

So that about sums up our stay in the Dayton area! Next stop is an old favorite we've already been to this year...

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Clyde Holliday Sate Park

Well sadly we knew it was time to start heading back.  But rather than expedite the trip like we sometimes do when heading south, we try to plan some great stops as we head north and home. So although we were leaving the ocean shores, we were heading to yet another of our favorite state parks, Clyde Holliday.

We knew there were fires in the area from the reports and news we had read and watched, but the drive from the coast here gave us a fist hand view. Fire camps were still set up, although not many personnel were still on site, and many roads were still blocked. There was also a lot of snow as we reached higher peaks, and I'm sure that was welcomed in the time of fires. It is always a bit sad to drive through the aftermath of fires and this was no different.

Clyde Holliday is nestled in central Oregon, along highway 26 and the John Day River, and a close drive to the John Day Fossil Beds, which for some reason we had never visited. Hence this was our destination.

This is a small state park, only 31 sites, with power.  As the weather starts to turn colder and try to condition us for Canada, we really enjoy our services!

We don't usually put in long days unless we're changing territory such as this time.  So after a 7 hour day we just hooked up and began the evening ritual of Yahtzee and a drink:)

The next day it was out to the fossil beds. We were pretty stoked about this visit. We packed plenty of water and a fantastic lunch, knowing that the hiking would be fabulous and the weather perfect. Well as sometimes happens with tourist areas and publications, this one was a bit of a downer.  The scenery was amazing, but as far as our dream of spending the day hiking, no luck.  The highlight is a visitor centre operated by the National Park Service. The Thomas Condon Paleontology Center is a 11,000 square foot building with a ton of viewing opportunities, but the Fossil beds themselves were areas that you could not hike to.

We did manage some photos this time though!

We spent the extra time visiting the town of John Day and a Wi-Fi café, catching up on the blog, other people's blogs and Facebook in general.
Although the tourist stop wasn't scintillating, we never really get tired of the lifestyle in general, so no stop is ever a waste!

We are going to move closer to home again soon, and the weather forcast is not that wonderful, but no snow, so that's a good thing!

Carl Washburn State Park

Although we love finding new places when you are travelling there is also a wonderful sense of enjoyment when you find old favorites that draw you back time and again.  This is true of the entire Oregon coast for us. The Florence area is one that we can visit time and again.

We stayed at Carl Washburne State Park, and as always it didn't disappoint us. The five miles of beach is a few minute walk from the camper, and once there you can easily view the Heceta Head Lighthouse. When the need strikes you to shop, or eat at Mo's, or wander bookstores, Florence is just a few miles south. It has a great waterfront(ish) street to discover, nice shops and a bookstore.

We really vegged out here, and that is quite obvious because you will not find any new photos on file. LOL But we truly enjoyed our time, filling it with walking the beaches and doing what we do best "Driving Miss Donna".

Here are two photos from the State Park site. And yes it's as beautiful as it looks.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Astoria Tower

How is it we have never visited this landmark in Astoria Oregon before?  What an amazing view it offers of the entire area.

The tower was built in 1926. You can see it from just about anywhere in the Astoria area, and we just assumed it was commemorative for some reason.  It turns out it was built to recognize the Astor family's contributions to the community, but was funded in part by the Great Northern Railway.  It is 125 feet high and 164 steps to the top.  Once you reach the top there is an observation deck that circles the tower and as I said the views are amazing.  This is already one of our favorite places along the ocean and the Columbia River, and this little day trip seals the deal!



This little excursion was awesome, and we will visit it again when we are back, which is usually an annual thing.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Fort Stevens State Park and South

Depending on your needs and wants, this might be one of the best stops on the Oregon Coast.  Nestled beside several good sized communities, close to every service you may need, but still a walk on the ocean whenever you wish. It seems we can’t stay away form this Astoria area. I had a few work deadlines to meet and 2 Co-op meetings so for cell and data service this seemed like a great choice.  The service in the campground was below par, as in nope, can’t call out today, but as soon as reaching the edge of the park things improved. I’m a master of vehicle conference calls!

One thing we have noted is that this is a very windy part of the coast at this time of year.  And although the sites in the campground are nice, if they didn’t have services the solar wouldn’t cut it. It is very dismal actually.  It took us years of visits to come to that conclusion! Not that depending on circumstances and timing we won’t be back, but perhaps time to find a new favorite in this area.

Seasoned RV’ers know that you should never leave yourself hanging for campsites on weekends.  It is unusually warm along the coast this year, and with fires inland, camping was busy. We went online to secure a site down the road for the next stop, but that didn’t appear to be happening.  So one day we just went for a drive to discover. County parks can be great, but if you haven’t been to one sometimes it’s just better to see it first.

Our next area to visit was Tillamook. A helpful state park attendant told us about Barview Jetty Park on Tillamook Bay, and what a great find.  We stayed on the jetty in full sunshine and just steps from the water.  On one side was the daily trek of fishing boats and on the other yet again an amazing beach to explore and discover, so we did just that!  The solar outperformed itself on this stop.

Always looking for destinations for day trips and places to explore found us popping in to Portland for a day. Such a beautiful thriving city to visit!  As well we visited the Tillamook market, and wandered south along the coastal towns. Although we would be going that way after this stop, it is never as interesting pulling the trailer.

We do have a strong attachment to Mo’s Seafood and Chowder, and it is hard for us not to stop whenever we know one is around, so that was included in this visit.  After stopping in Cannon Beach one day, we discovered a Mo’s had opened in Astoria in our 2 year absence!  There are a few more down the road so we look forward to that.

We also visited a local brewery and enjoyed their chowder and beer, but I must say Mo's is still the best.  But the brewery was cool.

And that sums up our stop in the Astoria area. I wish my mind could record all the sunsets, ocean waves and every beautiful piece of scenery we encounter.
We are heading farther south for one more stop before we turn around, so see you in a few days!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Hello Pacific!

After leaving the Stecyk cabin on Sunday, our destination was Kamloops.  There is a convenient Costco we often overnight in, with a casino adjacent that has a few restaurants and a coffee shop.
The trip was great to Kamloops, but immediately following a turn on the highway a tire blew.  We had just turned and were resuming speed and BOOM!!  I always wondered what a tire sounded like when it blew up as compared to going flat.  Do yourself a favor and don’t wonder.  LOL  So the trek to Costco became more time consuming, as we had to change the tire then make our way back.  Then began the trick to finding a used tire (hopefully).  Add to that it was a holiday the next day and we were skeptical.  I started googling and phoning everything that came up, to no avail.  Then we started driving to see if they had signage about the holiday.  Here’s a thought – if you have a website post your hours, if you have a Facebook page post your hours, and just maybe if you have a door post your holiday hours!!  Oh and perhaps on your voice mail???? So as often happens in this world, in looking for one place we found another.  They had been open that Sunday so we fingers crossed that in the morning when I called they would be there and maybe have a tire.

We spent the evening over beer and wings in the casino, then an hour or so of reading. The next morning Andre’s Tire Shop did answer the phone. What a fortunate find this was – although they didn’t have a matching used tire, they sold exactly the type of tire Don prefers, and the prices after BC taxes were the same as at home.  So with 4 shiny new Hankooks we were on our way again.
Our original destination on this day was Southbeach Campground on the Washington coast, part of Olympia National Forest.  With the tire incident we knew we wouldn’t get that far, but we did get to another lovely Costco parking lot in Olympia, the city. It was the perfect stop with three grocery stores around and a Starbucks!  I’m a simple girl, Starbucks can make me very happy. Also there were a few choices for dinner, and so beer and burgers it was! And Wi-Fi, which is just a bonus as you RV’ers know. So with dinner out of the way, groceries loaded and a Starbucks in hand, it was an OK day.

The next morning it didn’t take long to head west through Aberdeen and north to Queets.  Although it was a bit of backtracking, Southbeach is worth it. Although Southbeach campground is meant to be overflow for the Kaloloch National Forest Service Campground, we think of it the other way around.  Southbeach has almost a random pattern of sites, each with fire pits and tables, and almost everyone is either ocean front or ocean view.  It is a 2 or 3 minute walk to the beach from everywhere.  Kaloloch is an older development, and hence small treed sites of which we fit few.

It didn’t take long to set up the rig and get to the beach.  Where our spring trip finds us in search of hiking and climbing trails, our fall trip, if on the ocean, is in search of beaches to walk and sunsets to enjoy.  It’s a slow quiet pace which is always good for the soul.

While here our day trips consisted of visiting Aberdeen (Starbucks and Wi-Fi), visiting Forks and all the Twilight movie propaganda, and a drive south to Ocean Shores. Highway 109 along the coast from Taholah to Ocean Shores passes through many communities, all of which have their own charm and attractions. But Ocean Shores surprised us.  It is much larger than expected and although the last census I could find claims just over 5,000 residents, it seems 4 times that size. I will be curious to see their next count, as there are numerous new developments, many multi family or apartments. I think this is a place to come back to on a different travel schedule.

We spent 5 nights at Southbeach before heading to another favorite destination, Astoria OR, and another favorite beach to walk on.  The ocean is calling so I will talk to you later!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Summertime with the Smiths

I always find as August approaches we start thinking about our September trip.  Is anyone else like that?  But it feels like you are wishing other days away.  This summer since we don’t “travel” afar, like the coast or south, etc., I wanted to focus on spending time with the kids.  Mason will be in preschool when everything starts up again, and it gets harder to fit ourselves into their days.
So in addition to being with the Cameron family in Idaho, and all the lake trips we’ve already had together, here is our August.

It all started with Heidi staying with us for the remaining 2 weeks of her family’s vacation in the States.  That’s a long time for a pet to stay at a kennel and/or travel in an RV but be confined through the day when everyone is out exploring.  Both our grand dogs are excellent guests, and having Heidi over I knew would initiate a bit more walking than usual.  We are pretty sure she made up some pee breaks just for the walk.  LOL

Connor and Mason had a sleep over one Saturday and as always they are beyond entertaining with watching them play and just their everyday interactions!  Lucy didn’t stay with them, but Heidi kept the floor clean.

When the Camerons came home we returned Heidi and took dinner in, excited to hear the kids descriptions of their adventures.  There were lots of stories.

I went with Lindsay and the boys to the Whitecourt Rotary Park.  What an amazing place!  They have this river that you float down in tubes and we had the perfect day for it.  We joined our friends Sharon and her daughter Stephanie and kids.  Sharon and I have been friends since we moved to Stony Plain 20 years ago, and our daughters grew up friends and are now mom friends.  It’s always great when we get together.  I don't have the photos of that day, Lindsay does.

A couple of days after that Don and I went fishing with Todd and Sharon.  Our lake of choice this summer has been Lac St Anne.  Jeremy found a great boat launch which is about 2 km from their cabin near Darwell.  It is an easy launch to access, the water levels were perfect for in and out, and lots of boat trailer parking.  Of course it’s also nice that it is minutes from Lindsay and Jeremy’s.  Anyway, we met the Marshalls out there and had a great fishing day.  We caught several Walleye but none were the size our tags allowed.

On August 13 we headed to Buffalo Lake to camp with Ken and Brenda.  For a few summers we have been getting together for a few days of camping.  They offered to come out to Alberta this time.  We found a great campground and if we’d had the grandchildren it was a perfect location.  We were right on the shore of the lake with an amazing view.  Of course we didn’t need the playground, we took the more adult approach of a few beers, a few shopping trips and lots of quiet visits.

Lindsay suggested visiting Reynolds Museum in Wetaskiwin so one day we loaded the boys and snacks and off we went.  What a great place to take boys to!  Anything that flies or has wheel was here.  The day went by too fast.  Definitely should be a stop if you are ever by, as the amount of pictures show!

That same week all of Tracy’s kids were in camp so I helped out a bit by picking the girls up at their camps.  Reese was in a City of St Albert day camp at Servus Place and Em attended the U of A Ringette camp. Maybe because of my years running summer day camps with the Town of Stony Plain, I an pretty picky about the structure and what I observe in camps, and both of these were excellent.  And the girls loved them, which of course matters most:)

We really needed one more lake day/boat day and were hoping the weather would co-operate.  Turns out it did.  Grandpa and the kids all enjoyed a few spins on the wakeboard (yes Grandpa does donuts), and many rides on the tube.  Then we headed to Lindsay’s cabin and tucked the boat away.

The next day Tracy and I took the kids to the Ukrainian Village, another wonderful venue in our region that I had never visited.  They have a lot of potential there, but we were visiting on off season so some attractions weren’t available.  But overall it too is a great place to visit.  The grounds are beautiful, and the feel for the pioneer’s life is awesome, as the hosts are all in costume and period.  The school was neat for the kids to see, as the principal was in attendance, and asked Blake and I some difficult math questions!

The last day of the month found the Cameron kids having a sleepover, as Tracy had her first day of work on September 1.  We were headed to the Stecyk cabin as a start to our September vacation, so the kids came with us and Tracy and Cal came out to pick them up and have dinner.  We stayed for 2 nights, rode quads and relaxed.  The weather didn’t cooperate for the boat, but we enjoyed our peaceful time there.


On Sunday we headed out on our coastal vacation.  We love the west coast, specifically southern Washington and all of Oregon, so that is where we are headed this time.
I’m not sure how energetic this vacation will be so don’t get too excited about upcoming posts, they may be as slow as I am hoping to be.