The original plan, after leaving Curt and Kara’s house in Warrenton, was to drive to the other side of Astoria to visit our cruising friends, Jasmine, Shannon and Solice. But, we spent the majority of the day, Tuesday, running around from store to store looking for things it turned out we didn’t really need. We also took a little time to wander the streets of downtown Astoria. What with one thing and another, it was getting well into the afternoon before we were finally ready to head to Jasmine’s. At that point we decided to just take a “lay” day instead. You probably already know this, but in the boatyard, a “lay” day is a one on which you don’t do any work. Not that visiting our friends is work but we needed some term to differentiate the visiting days from the days when it was just us, at least during this early, full of visiting, part of our trip. “Lay” day was the first thing that popped into our heads.
So, we trundled on over to Fort Stevens State Park for the rest of Tuesday. Fort Stevens is one of the prettiest and best-maintained parks we’ve ever seen. And for Oregon State Parks, that’s saying something as they’re pretty much all gorgeous and well-maintained. It had been raining off and on for a couple of hours and was still raining lightly when we arrived and set up camp. Since this was a dry campsite, setting up camp consisted of parking, starting the fridge up on propane, and cracking a beer. Tough life, this RVing.
We arrived too late in the day to take full advantage of the trails but, since the rain had lifted and the sun came out, we did decide to take a little four mile round trip walk out to the (gun) batteries at the mouth of the Columbia River. By the time we got there, the gates were closed so we couldn’t explore the historic area but it was just as well as we needed to get back before dark. Naturally, I forgot my camera on the walk but, other than some frogs on the trail, there wasn’t that much to record anyway. Except for one thing. On our way to the historic area, we passed a tiny little meadow less than 1/4 mile from the trailhead. As we passed, I told Lulu “That place looks like it should have elk in it.”. Of course, there weren’t any elk but it just looked like the right kind of place, although pretty small and close to the trail. On our way back, as we rounded a bend, there it was. The same meadow with a fully-antlered bull elk standing guard over three cows. He stood, less than 150′ away, and watched us pass.
Wednesday we got up, had a leisurely breakfast and broke camp, hitting the road for Jasmine and Shannon’s place. They don’t have an actual address since there’s no actual permanent structure on the property. Instead, they direct visitors to a particular milepost on Highway 30. Trouble was, we couldn’t remember for sure which milepost, and, since we’d only ever been there once before, finding the place might prove difficult, especially since we wanted our visit to be a surprise, at Jasmine’s request. So, calling them for directions was out. While at Curt’s we had an internet connection so I Google Earthed the area and found what might or might not be the place. I entered the coordinates into Dora and hoped for the best. At least it would give us a mental picture of where we were. Turned out it was unnecessary as we both recognized the driveway as soon as we passed it.
We drove down the driveway but saw no signs of life. Decided we’d park near their bus-home and then walk down to the river to see if they were working on the boat.
Sure enough, that’s where we found them. Awhile ago they bought a diesel powered houseboat like you’d see on Shasta Reservoir. They have been working on it ever since, turning it into a river home. It’s far from complete but I can already tell it’s going to be mighty cool once it’s done. They were surprised and happy to see us and were, fortunately, at a spot in their labors where a break was not out of the question. We all walked up to the bus where Jasmine made us lunch of steak and bean tacos and a salad. Solice demonstrated her rope swing for Lulu, who, naturally, had to give it a try.
Later, she showed us her ducks.
Wednesday was Solice’s JuJitsu class. It was also “family day” at the class which means that everyone gets out on the mats. Lulu pinkie-swore with Solice that she’d go with them. I, being made of smarter stuff, opted to stay behind and make some pepper sauce. When we were at Fred Meyer’s earlier we had spied some beautiful red jalapeños that were screaming out to be made into sauce. Since I figured (rightly) they’d have little or no heat, I also grabbed a dozen or so habaneros to liven things up a little. So, while Lulu was at JuJitsu getting her butt kicked by 6-year-olds, I was making pressure cooker hot sauce. The color combination of the red jalapeños and the orange habaneros made for a pretty sauce.
It’s not nearly as hot as it seems like it should have been but it does have a bite and it tastes good as well.
If you want to make hot sauce, it could not be easier: Chop up enough peppers to cover the bottom of your pressure cooker. Add enough vinegar to just cover the peppers. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring up to pressure and hold it there for one minute. Remove from heat and allow to depressurize naturally. Using a hand blender, blend everything together. Pour through a wire sieve into bottles or jars. That’s it.
Everyone arrived back at the place a couple hours after they left. Lulu made dinner (Salsa Shrimp*). Jasmine made a salad and we all ate al fresco. After the sun went down, things started to cool off and we all retired to the bus where a wood-stove was keeping it nice and toasty. We had dessert (blackberry crisp from blackberries that Jasmine and Solice had picked earlier), discussed the state of the world and, finally, as eyelids started to droop, said goodnight and headed back to Flipper.
Thursday morning, after saying our good-byes, we headed over the Astoria-Megler bridge to Washington. But not without a side trip back to Warrenton so Lulu could get the flannel shirt she’d seen at a thrift shop but hadn’t bought at the time. Finally over the bridge and we were in Washington. Yay! Now I can pump my own gas, at least until we get to Mexico.
Our destination for the night was Schafer State Park, a place I knew only from the map. We traveled on sweet little two-lane roads, many with a posted top speed of 45 MPH. The sun was shining, it was warm and all was good with the world (except, maybe, for the middle east where things are never good). Schafer SP turned out to be a tiny little park. They had fewer than 40 sites, I believe. A few were full hook-ups but, since we had a fully charged battery, a half-full water tank, and an empty holding tank, and, since they also had a dump station and water spigots available, we opted to save the $11 and camp in a dry spot.
Now, here comes a complaint about Washington State Parks: I have no problem paying for a place to stay the night. The rates generally seem out of line to me but that’s apparently what it costs to operate. However, when one is already paying from $24 to $35 a night to park, it seems totally out of line to me to charge extra for a hot water shower. In the Oregon State Parks we’ve visited, the camping prices are about the same as Washington but the showers are “free”. That is, they’re included in the price of admission. The going rate in Washington seems to be 25¢ for 3 minutes. No allowance is made for the first 30-45 seconds that you have to wait for the water to get hot, either. It’s not going to break us but it’s just kind of a slap in the face. What’s next, turnstiles with coin slots at the trailheads?
Griping aside, Schafer was a pretty little park.
Friday morning, after filling the water tank and emptying the holding tank, we hit the road for Scenic Beach State Park in Seabeck. Most of the drive was pretty until we reached Belfair and Bremerton. Then it was mostly town driving until we turned off to Seabeck. Not much to say about this park. It’s pretty, well-maintained, and they charge for showers. The sites we’ve seen look to be primarily geared for tent campers. This makes them a little more private than RV sites generally are. But there’s this huge flat are for pitching a tent that we have no use for. Almost makes me wish we had a tent. OK, no it doesn’t.
Once we finally get moving today, we’ll be heading to Bainbridge Island to visit our friends Nita and Mike who we originally were introduced to at Catalina Island when we were both on our way to Mexico for the first time.
Here’s the”packing on the miles” part. Keep in mind that these are the miles we traveled between stops, not necessarily the actual miles between these locations. Each of these also represents a day’s drive.
Warrenton to Fort Stevens State Park: 29 miles
Fort Stevens to Jasmine and Shannon’s: 19 miles
Jasmine and Shannon’s to Schafer State Park: 106 miles
Schafer State Park to Scenic Beach State Park: 74 miles
Total since leaving Silverton: 519 miles
Let’s see, we left Silverton on 8/26. Yesterday was 9/5. That’s 10 days so our average speed is 51.9 miles per day. Yeah, that seems about right.
1 stick butter
1 cup fresh salsa
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 pound medium-to-small raw shrimp, peeled
Put everything together in a casserole and place in a 375 degree oven. Cook until bubbling and shrimp are pink. Serve with lots of crusty bread for dipping. How easy is that?