Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Happy Birthday John

Today, May 31st, is John's birthday.  But, we celebrated on Sunday so family could join us.  We went to John's parents (Bill & Joyce's) place in Yelm.  They share acerage with John's sister and her husband, Laura and Rick.  John's daughter Echo and grandsons Lane and Luke partied with us too!
View of Rick & Laurie's barn from Bill & Joyce's backyard.
We had a nice time.  They cooked ribs for John, accompanied by salads -- macaroni, cole slaw and jello ... yummm!  John picked a "snickers" cake with ice cream for dessert.  I ate way too much. 

Uncle Rick taking Echo, Lane and Luke to see the horses and cows.
Today, John and I top off his birthday by going to the Carnation Farmer's Market, then to a Chinese restaurant that serves one of his favorites, honey walnut chicken.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Farmer John

Every spring John gets his farmer on!  In addition to the laying hens, he's planted a couple of gardens. 
Who Ya Lookin' At?!  (A few of John's girls in front of their house.)
One garden is planted with corn, pumpkins, and zucchini squash.
John's gardens are starting to pop!
The other garden has cucumbers, peas, parsnips, broccoli, radishes, carrots ...
Swinging Kid Decorations put up ... almost time to hook up the hammock.
The birch trees have leafed out ... as the cedar carved animals look on ...

4 Roads, 3 Passes and 1 Bavarian Village

John and I drove to Leavenworth, WA today.  It's a little town that has transformed itself into a Bavarian Village nestled beneath the mountain peaks of Wenatchee National Forest.  We walked around, window shopped, had bratwurst for lunch and treated ourselves to the best European-style chocolates ever.

View of downtown Leavenworth from its Town Square
To get to Leavenworth, we first traveled SR-203, then Hwy-2 over Stevens Pass.  The mountains that tower over the town of Index are spectacular.  Coming home from Leavenworth we made a complete loop by taking Hwy-97 over Blewett Pass, then I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass.  We hit all kinds of weather -- rain, snow and sunshine!  The spring colors, roadside waterfalls, and rushing rivers made perfect driving companions.
The smell of gingerbread was delicious ... we couldn't resist!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What a Glorious Day for a Drive!

Our weather has been very wet and gloomy in Western Washington State this spring.  So, I'm especially happy that the sun decided to make an appearance for today's planned visit to the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, the 31st anniversary of the eruption.  To get to the Johnston Ridge Observatory, we drove the Spirit Lake Memorial Hwy.  The vistas from both the national forest and within the monument were spectacular.   St. Helens was out in all her glory.  You couldn't ask for a more perfect day.

Mount St. Helens, 5 miles away from the Johnston Ridge Observatory.  On May 31, 1980 --
first the explosion blasted this area, then the worlds largest avalanche covered the valley floor,
finally everything was buried beneath hundreds of feet of ash.  Awesomely sobering.
Thirty-one years later, plant, insect and animal life are returning.

Once at Johnston Ridge, we marveled at the mountain, took in several Ranger talks, explored some exhibits and watched a well-done documentary on the eruption.

Spirit Lake in the distance, to the left of Mount St. Helens. 
The lake doubled in size after the May 1980 eruption.
Three hundred forty miles and 9 hours later we're back home, tired and happy.  On our return trip, we took the Jackson Highway north, which runs roughly parallel to I-5 from Toledo to Chehalis.  What a nice treat.  I love driving the back roads and this diversion added some extra time to appreciate the lovely scenery, farms, old homes and older cars & trucks along the way.

John in front of the Johnston Ridge Observatory,
Mount St. Helens National Monument (5/18/11).
Now, where should we go next?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Our New Little Trailer

We sold our teardrop trailer for funds to get a Class B RV so that John could go camping with me.  He needed aminities that the teardrop couldn't offer ... someplace to stand up and be inside when the weather gets rainy. 

We searched and searched for Class B Vans, B+ RVs, and even some shorter Class C's ... but, we couldn't find anything that we liked that was also in our budget.  Frustrating. 

So, John suggested that we consider one of those little fiberglass egg trailers -- Scamps, Casitas, Burros, Bolers, etc.  And, within a few days, we found one within our budget that was in good enough condition to camp in right away (except for needing new tires).  Within its 13', it contains a catalytic heater, port-a-potty, 2-burner stove, sink, a dinette/bed, bench seat/bed, closet and several overhead storage bins.  What more could a guy want?  :-)

At 850 pounds (dry), it's light enough to tow with the Solara, only 100 pounds heavier than the teardrop.   Compared to a Class B Van or RV, it's a better choice for us.  We are avoiding another engine to maintain, as well as the higher insurance rates.

The brand of our trailer is an ECO.  They were made for a few years in the early 70's.  Ours is a '74.   ECO purchased their molds from the Canadian Boler Company.  Although I plan to be ecologically sensitive when using it, ECO actually is an acronym for the three men who owned the Aurora, NE company -- Eugene, Cal and Owen.

Even though it's in good enough condition to camp in now, we want to fix it up.  So, that's my project, starting with the interior.  Right now, I'm still in exploration mode ... figuring out what works and what doesn't -- fresh water, gray water, 12v, running lights, propane, etc.  Once we're sure everything is working and it's been outfitted with bedding and cooking utincils, we'll be ready for some fun.

We're Going Camping!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Today at the Farmer's Market

Yummy Stuff from George's Bakery

Wood Fired Pizza ... new this year

Locally Grown Tulip Boquets

Musicians Entertain

Chalk Artist Inspects his work in progress

Lots more farm/artisan vendors -- breads, honey, veggies, plants, wine, coffee    
One of our favorites is the small Carnation Farmer's Market.  It runs from May through September.  Today John took me to Chinese dinner for a belated Mother's Day gift.  But before that, we went to the Farmer's Market to say hi to friends and buy a chunk of local artisan cheese (aged 4-year sharp cheddar ... yum).  John also got me a bouquet of tulips from one of the local growers.  What a nice guy.