Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Traveling in a motor home is similar to those tour guided trips, in some respects. If its Tuesday, I must be in Monroe?
Confusion reigns, did we find that book store in Seaside? Or was it Ilwaco?
Today is fly home to California for a week.

Looking back over the past five weeks, we passed through different communities, each with its own particular quirk, or theme, or commerce, political bent, or historical reason for being. Local notables remain unknown to outsiders. Like d'Auberville, (yesterday's blog) the man who washed up in Ilwaco, Wa. after crossing the Pacific. They remain unsung except in their own small communities. Such a man was Ranald MacDonald, the son of a Hudson's Bay Company official and Princess Sunday, daughter of a Chinook Indian Chief. Ranald believed there was a connection between American Indians and the Japanese. In 1884, at age 24, alone in a small boat, he deliberately defied a 200 year old imperial edict, which barred foreigners from Japanese soil and threatened intruding Christians with fierce reprisals. He deliberately scuttled his boat within sight of villagers on Rishiri island and presented himself as a castaway.
Jailed, then freed, he taught English to 14 Japanese interpreters and learned enough Japanese to compile a glossary. He broke the "wall of fire" into Japan that later resulted in opening of trade. There is a renewed interest in this exceptional man and the Clatsop County, WA Historical Society is researching his life.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


"We say that with time, the worst memories become good memories. Nothing, not even time, will change my memories. They will always be horrible.

I'll never forget the capsizing, especially the one when the boat took a full backward somersault. Scared to death, I was thrown against the bulkhead screaming like the animal within me. I thought my final hour had come.

I'll never forget the struggle for my life, the strength I exhausted in a few minutes. The taste of sea water in my lungs. The specter of death and I lived all of this alone, alone, alone.

I have chosen the ocean as my field of confrontation, my field of battle, because the ocean is reality at its toughest, its most demanding. As my weapons against this awesome power, I have human values, intelligence, experience, and the stubborn will to win.

When life is only a fight for survival, glory and fortune are ridiculous motivations. All the gold in the world and the praise of others are worthless when I ask myself, will I get out of here alive?

I challenged the Pacific, but I didn't win. She let me cross."

Gerald d'Auberville

This page from his book describes the horrors of his crossing the pacific in a sailboat. He did the Atlantic and came out a winner. His book is available at the Ilwaco History Museum because he washed up in Ilwaco, underweight, aged and unsteady, but successful. His own story redefines "successful".

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Jim is a full time RVer and it tickled me when I got to meet his friend, Shawn Newman. As an attorney, he is living the stress filled life that made Jim turn away from business as usual, retire early, and hit the road full time in an RV. Many people envy that lifestyle. But, if Shawn had retired we wouldn't have learned about all the good ethnic restaurants in town. We ate at Capitol Cho, a Korean restaurant with great food, and we spent a wonderful hour catching up with the news, and the food, and the brews in Olympia. Shawn does a lot of pro bono work, has tried cases in State Supreme Court, and is mentioned in Ann Rule's true crime book, End Of The Dream. He once represented Scott Scurlock, the guy who lived in a treehouse and made his living robbing gas stations. www.newmanlaw.us

We visited his friends, Sandy and Ted Wallden, who fed us a sumptious homemade lunch of spinach torta, fruit salad and banana bread. Their RV lifestyle is called snowbirding. They typically spend cold months in Yuma, AZ, park in the same place every year, and thus have a whole community of friends in two places. Then they return home to Bremerton and park their rig. Jim met them on the road.
Whereas, Larry and Jan Seberg don't even own an RV. They have a Thousand Trails Park membership and rent an RV owned by the park. They have their choice of about 40 different places to stay just on the west coast, but typically move to Palm Springs every year for 3 or more months and return to Olympia. We had a deli lunch at the Red Wing Casino, belonging to the Nisqually tribe, of which Larry is an elder.
The RV life is new to me. Right now it is like one long vacation, but there is another style of RV life possibile. That is where the full time RVer, Jim, has a groupie, me, who follows along in a van seeing every nook and cranny of this U.S. and regrouping with the "mother ship" along life's RVing highway.

Friday, June 26, 2009


The city of Olympia got its start at the bottom of Puget Sound at Percival Landing which is where the action was in the old days. The steamboats would come down the sound and everyone would hear the whistle and make for the docks. The ships brought goods, mail, transportation and excitement. Of course, commerce was only part of the excitement. The State Capitol building sits on the hill just up from the waterfront and politics brought its own kind of excitement, as it still does.
The area around the waterfront is now a city park with a boardwalk surrounding the marina with life size sculptures and flower boxes as you stroll. It ends at a look out tower. In Washington, you'll notice the boats in the marina have their own enclosed garages.
The area has plenty of good restaurants and small shops.

Earlier in the day we visited the public access studio, TCTV, Olympia's Public Access Station. Jim's old friend, Debbie Vinsel, is Executive Director of TCTV. Jim at one time hosted a program called Real Estate Round Table for Public Television with a run of 90 programs.

We visited his friend and former hair dresser, Keri Kauffman.

Nostalgia for Jim runs high here. Every field, every new building, every missing tree comes under his radar as we move about the city. We are staying with his long time neighbors, salt of the earth people, Ted and Judy Price. Ted cooks a mean hamburger.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Dale Chihuly produces huge blown glass pieces of incredible beauty. His website points out that he took blown glass out of the confines of the small, precious object and into the realm of large-scale sculpture and environmental art. I don't know much about art history but I do know that his work is displayed all over the world and makes my heart palpitate.
I saw his stained glass window in the Sea-Tac Airport years ago when my son lived in Tacoma. He took me to see the stained glass bridge and I was hooked on Chihuly. It is impossible to be unaffected by its beauty and diversity of glass.
The whole historic downtown area of Tacoma is worth a visit. Great boutique businesses line the area across from the restored public buildings long the marina. The hill above town has many victorians and a couple of antebellum type mansions. The old cobblestone streets are still visable in places. For a slide show of Chihuly glass click on the link:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Jim and I have moved from Long Beach, to Sea View to Ocean Shores. We are now parked in Lacey, WA. in a beautiful, quiet spot with old friends of his, Ted & Judy Price. Puget sound is close by and our meanderings will change. Looking back, below is a lovely shot of Long Beach. Above is a pattern in the sand produced by the tortuous undertows and cross currents at Seaview. The patterns were many and different. For a slide show of them click on:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


We were encouraged by a waiter in Long Beach to be sure and try a local specialty, razor clams in a buttermilk type of sauce. We had our mouths watering for fish and chips that included salmon, halibut, cod and pollock so we declined. Maybe later.
Later came and everywhere we asked, after that, the razor clams were deep fried. "Try the Crab Pot, or 42nd St."... etc. We found them fresh at the Crab Pot's attached deli. The cook there told me how to cook them, but instead of heading home we stopped at a place called The Depot Restaurant in the small town of Seaview.
People were parked outside waiting for the place to open, (in 15 minutes.) We walked up to the door, checked the menu and the pony tailed owner came and explained to us, "this is build your own burger night, we open at 5:00 p.m." Hmm! The restaurant is in a 120 year old Train Station with a covered heated deck out back. They advertise casual fine dining.
We were intrigued and waited.. People gathered until a mob was outside the door impatient for it to open and they talked about build your own hamburger. Rolled eyes, licked lips and "wonderful!"
Precisely at 5:00, the doors opened, all the tables and all but three seats at the bar were reserved and the phone was ringing for reservations while we stood. We hastily talked Michael into giving us two of the seats at the bar ahead of anyone on the phone since we had waited out front. He did.
Everyone gets a small menu of choices to fill out: With your grilled beef, or grilled portobello, or grilled buffalo, you have a choice of 14 different items you can have on your burger with a choice of sweet potato or regular fries with it. Avocado, fried egg, pineapple, bacon, sauteed mushrooms, jalapeno peppers were offered along with the usual lettuce and stuff. Its a giant burner. Good beer and wine choices, and a wonderful clam chowder made with steamers, chopped razor clams, in a creamy broth with garlic, potato and leek was exquisite.
Burger night is one of several specialty nights the Depot advertises during the winter, only. Summer is devoted to his regular menu only, which, doesn't include a hamburger. (This was the last night for build your own burger.)
This is fine dining with great prices. The Mediterranean Lamb with shitake mushrooms, & curried couscous, (29), Organic Prime filet mignon, (28) hormone free rib eye platter, (33). Small plates around $10 with crab cakes, wild boar, fried Risoto balls with smoked Mozzarella some of the offerings. And, a delightful desert menu.
Hey, gotta hit this place every time we drive the coast. 1208 38th & L Place, Seaview, WA.

Monday, June 22, 2009


We moved the motor home to Ocean City, WA. despite the six day forecast for rain. Instead we've had lovely days on the beach with sunshine and blue skies. Father's Day, we repaired to the nearby Quinault Loop part of the marvelous Olympic National Park comprised of 3,500 miles of rivers and streams, pounding waves on tortured beaches, stately spruce, hemlock, red cedar, sitka spruce, giant maples and douglas fir. Did I say giant maples? This area of temperate rain forest is called the Valley of the Rain Forest Giants. The world's largest living specimens of Sitka Spruce, Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock, Yellow Cedar, and the largest tree in the world, (other than the California redwoods), is a Western Red Cedar at 63.5 feet in circumference and 174 feet tall. It isn't stately. Its a knobby old man with bumps and tears and broken parts, with life clinging to it. Its entire insides are open and I stood in awe of this massive tree and took a photo up into its broken interior that could still offer one such as me shelter if I needed it.
Nearby giants are diminished by this masterful tree, but they, too, comprise this impressive and diverse wilderness with its complex mosaic of trees and under story.
Heraclitus once said: "You cannot step twice into the same river." Well, you can't visit this living and breathing masterpiece without a sense of respect and awe.
I'm thankful for this treasure. I became conscious of World Heritage Sites while traveling in Europe and appreciated the premise that some places are so special, so beautiful and irreplaceable, they are world treasures and must be protected for the whole world to see and appreciate. Consequently, all countries who comprise this identity chip in to help keep these places in good shape. Think Taj Mahal, The Louvre, Sistine Chapel. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the Olympic National Park in the State of Washington is globally recognized as an International Biosphere Reserve AND a World Heritage Site. Right in my back yard and I didn't even know about it.
For more pictures of this place click on the link: http://picasaweb.google.com/1579penn/OlympicNationalPark#

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Californians go to the beach to sun, swim and play. In Washington, few people swim. Beaches are for driving out, building a fire, roasting something tasty, picnicking, camping, riding horseback, dune buggies, motorcycles or kites. The kids bring shovels, buckets and molds for sand castles; Fishing poles dot the surf rather than swimmers. And kites, kites everywhere of every size. We must have seen 90-100 kites on a mile of beach at Ocean Shores. The dude in the picture harnessed to the kite shown. He can slide along just above the sand with the wind. He has a sophisticated steering aparatus. Dang, it looked like fun.
After visiting the Kite Museum last week in Long Beach with 1.700 kites, it reminded me that the International Kite Festival is held there each year. http://www.kitefestival.com

Put August 17-23 on your calendar for that event.
Beach towns also have schlocky store fronts with souveniers and good junk. And, always a kite store.

blog post photo
blog post photo

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Cranberries are in much demand as their health benefits have become known. A cranberry research station associated with the University of Washington helped make cranberry production big business here. Their little museum on Long Beach has a delightfully tasty gift shop along with the story of cranberry farming.

Most fascinating to me was how easily they grow. Shovels full of fibrous roots and stems are strewn around a field and machine disked into the ground. Vioila! Cranberry plants come up like weeds. Of course, they like a certain type of soil. I had seen pictures of cranberry harvesters waist deep in water corralling the floating cranberries to a dock where they were vacuumed up for processing. No longer the case. The bogs are not nearly so wet, nor floating necessary, thanks to the research station. They now machine harvest them much like any crop. Cranberry picking with scoops was a backbreaking job for the pickers. That is also a thing of the past. The plants are quite pretty and colorful. Sensitive to both heat and cold, they react to wide weather fluctuations. For us, they are no longer simply a Christmas treat.Cranberry Museum

For several photos click the link: http://picasaweb.google.com/1579penn/CranberryMuseum#

Friday, June 19, 2009


Traveling is likely to reveal unusual museums and I've been to a bead museum in Prescott, AZ, A Knife Museum and a Bait Museum both not far from Branson, MO, a Funeral Museum in Dallas, TX and a Sewing Machine Museum...well, I forget where. All were memorable and interesting, but when I suggested going to see a Kite Museum in Long Beach, Jim was a bit reluctant. I remembered reading the book, Keys To The Kingdom, and the protagonist asserting that "....the Chinese are a venerable and ancient culture and they fly kites..." this in answer to a priest colleague who thought a grown man was silly to go out and fly a kite.
None of this convinced Jim, but he attended anyway. At the bottom of this blog is a link to see 22 more colorful kites.
The history of kites was nothing short of amazing. No one knows who first tied sticks and cloth together and made them fly, but an Englishman by the name of George Pocock patented the first kite powered carriages. He would join carriage races and consistently win over horse drawn vehicles. His yacht was powered by a kite as well.
Kites have been used as crop sprayers, mail carriers, airplane brakes, bombers, radio messengers, aerial photographers and photo spies.
They have played an important role in wars over the years. Admiral Yum Yi of Korea, while fighting a war with Japan, developed a battlefield signal system on ground and sea that signaled his troops what tact to use. It was very specific, denoting weather information, to move west, or south or a particular hour of the night.
The United States used target kites, thousands of them, to train naval gunners to shoot enemy planes because the kites could easily replicate the motions of a dive bomber.
During WWII the U.S. floated huge kites above ships using 2000 foot long wires invisable to enemy pilots. The wires cut into plane wings causing enough damage to cripple them if they attempted to strafe our ammunition and supply ships.
An aerial kite with a camera attached was used to photograph the 1906 earthquake damage right after the devastation. And, it photographed the slow rebuilding of the city. Kite photos have revealed the lines of ancient building foundations, earthquake fault lines, and wagon train wheel tracks.
Today kites are used for para sailing, boogie boards, and some golf carts. A kite can pull a three wheeled cart faster than Pocock's carriage and lift a human into the air like a glider.
Click the link for a photo slide show of some of the kites at the Long Beach Kite Museum.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Sydney Stevens, tour writer, describes historic Oysterville so: Oysterville was a rip-roarin' town in those days. There were those who lived in "sin" and those who lived to be "saved" - about an even division. When the church was dedicated, the hard drinkers abandoned the saloons, marched in a body to the church, put their gold pieces in the collection plate, and returned to what they considered more stimulating than praying-drinking.

The Long Beach Peninsula is long and narrow, (about 28 miles long and 2 miles wide.) It has a Pacific Ocean side and a Willapa Bay (freshwater) side with Cape Disappointment at its Southern tip. Oysterville is now quiet and picturesque with old historic buildings, the oldest working Post Office, and graveyard. The Postmistress was helpfully kind to me, and gave me a cache of Oysterville for my stamp collection. The whole town site is now on the National Historic Registry and thus preserved for all of us. The oysters, once depleted are now farmed with dredges, cranes and huge oyster baskets. We bought them fresh along with steamer clams to take back to the motor home for dinner. The Methodist Church opened in 1897,

A pass by the cemetery and you realize people are unique, live or dead, and that the dead still speak to those who visit.

Most people come here to play, with many vacation homes and permanent campsites along the Pacific side. Long Beach reminds me of other Beach Towns before they got too sophisticated. Fast food joints, bumper cars, a carousel. Fun in the sand, throwing frisbies for your dog, horse back riding, buggy rides. Along with your paper bowl of street chowder, the smells of cotton candy, salt water taffy and popcorn fill the air. A signature tacky joint called Marsh's Free Museum lure you in with a million thrills like Alligator Man, the two headed calf, 5cent machine hucksters and cheap souveniers- Oh, kid heaven.

Heaven for us was the oysters. We were told they'd open in 3 minutes on a barbeque. Not!! Lying cook books claim they will open on a hot barbeque within 6 minutes. After 15 minutes Jim hammared the first 6 apart. The next batch went into the steamer and they didn't read the lying cook book either. They came out much better with a screw driver after the six minutes was up. With sour dough bread, the juice from the steamer clams, nicely laced with white wine, garlic, lemon juice, onion powder, tobasco and worcheshire sauce. Hey, delicious and what the heck. We laughed the whole time at our efforts, wondering if our neighbors were also laughing at our ignorance.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Cape Disappointment was named by a Captain Meares, who was stuck trying to get into the Columbia River and failed. He, like so many, had to turn back. But, today, how can you resist a place with such a name? And, nearby Waikiki Beach?
The Cape Lighthouse is the oldest operating lighthouse on the Pacific Coast. It stands a short 1.2 miles from the Fort Canby Battery, the way the crow flies. Several trails through the woods and ravine make the walk 2.4 miles. The grounds here are a nature preserve since the land has never been developed or grazed. Thick and rough and beautiful.
The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center sits atop old Fort Canby. It is beautifully done and provides gorgeous views of the area. One can see the man made north and south jetties designed to keep the northwesterly waves from clashing with the out flowing currents from the Columbia. The Columbia still brings silt down and creates changing bars making it a treacherous crossing. Even so it is a much tamer river than in Lewis' and Clark's time. Dams, irrigation, and the jetties have reduced it to a tame shadow of its former wicked self. Buoys line the jetties, red to the north, green to the south to help keep sailors alert as they approach. The weather was intermittently breezy and warm as we climbed up to the Center. Views of the area show the jetties, and how well the three forts, Canby, Stevens and Columbia, covered the river entrance with cannon. Canby was well equipped with each succeeding technological advance, including the notorious cannon, Big Betsy. When it was fired the first time, the sound broke pieces of the Fresnel lens at the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.

A couple little remembered human interest tidbits I picked up at the center was that Sacagawea wanted to go see the ocean. Clark and Lewis were planning to leave her behind with her baby. She insisted that she wanted to see the dead whale the Indians had reported seeing on the beach. After much persistence on her part, they let her go with them.
When she was pregnant, she also told them that if you rattle a snake's tale, it will bring on your baby. She did just that, and 10 minutes later, her son was born. The men were respectful of her "wisdom". The interpretive center is very kid friendly and encourages activity relating to the great expedition.
With such nice weather, we walked the jetty, met a fisherman, watched the gulls, cormorants and swimmers on Bensons Beach. Then we drove to Waikiki Beach and photographed the many patterns in the driftwood. The name comes from a tragic incident. When Astor's Schooner, Tonquin, tried to cross the bar, it was foundering dangerously and Captain Gray sent two rescue boats. Both capsized and 2 men drowned. One sailor was from the Sandwich Islands and they decided to name the beach Waikiki to honor him.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Today, we waited for cloud cover to burn off and headed for North Head Lighthouse built on a point north of the mouth of the river. Congress authorized the light house because Ship's Captains could not detect the light from Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, located closer to the Columbia River's mouth. The smaller lighthouse sometimes gets winds at 169 MPH and waves pound the cliffs, besetting it with a wrathful beauty.

The whole coastal area is a mixture of private land and Lewis and Clark National Park. Signs along the way point to where they spotted a dead whale, killed a vulture, where they were caught in an awful storm at Dismal Nitch. Wet and rotting and hungry but incapable of navigating the horrible waters to the opposite side of the Columbia they held out for six days barely able to cling to the driftwood and rocks. The point of their ordeal is marked as well as other important places.

Maps for the well groomed walking and biking trails are everywhere. Treat yourself to spectacular views, then remember the company hacking its way through the heavy growth of brush, ferns, and unfriendly grasping blackberry vines. Or glance over at Chinook Creek and imagine no road, no cars, just the Indians pulling in with their canoes full of salmon.

We pulled into the little fishing town of Ilwaco, WA. To visit the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum. It tells the story of Long Beach from the far reaches of the peninsula at Oysterville, a town that survived totally on its oyster harvest, (until they depleted them) to Ilwaco. One little town between Oysterville and Ilwaco had a population of 35 that swelled to 3,000 during oyster season. The "Clam Shell Railroad" was so named because steamers could only reach the wharf after the tide was in mid-flood. Departures were successively later over a months time, forcing their schedule to abide by the tides. (We'll visit the peninsula later in the week.)

We stopped at Fort Columbia, with the most intact fort buildings of the three Columbia River Forts. Interesting interpretive center, five miles of forested hiking trails that wind all through the beautiful woods and the old battery. Built in 1869, it was the most important outpost in the Northwest. Like a small city with the Ord Battery, housing, store, recreation center and its own boats, the fort was used up until WWII.