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Published: October 1st 2016
We were informed by email on the morning of our departure via the High Speed Clipper from Victoria to Seattle that the normal vessel had mechanical problems and would be replaced by another which unfortunately could not carry as many passengers. An incentive of full fare refund plus a $50.00 spending voucher did not however appeal as our departure would have been delayed until 7pm that night. As we sat in the departure lounge after passing through US Border patrol, they were still appealing for 6 passengers to take up their very generous offer. But we pressed on regardless and were glad we did so as it would have been a long day indeed had we rearranged our travel schedule.
2 huge diesel jet engines powered our vessel across the open waters from Vancouver Island in a north easterly direction back to the mainland and Seattle. Our first glimpses of that fair city were from the water on a brilliant sunny and warm day. And it lived up to the skyline that I had from time to time glimpsed in documentaries and news broadcasts. But stunning as that was, just to the north east sat the even more stunning and
dramatic outline of the volcano Mt Rainier which looms over the city of Seattle in a most impressive way.
After checking into our Travelodge Motel, we were a hungry pack and decided to head downtown to the famous Pike Street Markets in search of some food. It was a foot march of some kilometers through fairly empty and quiet streets lined with towering glass and mirror clad high rise buildings. It was Sunday after all we supposed. But then we arrived at Pike Street and understood that this was where everyone hung out on a Sunday afternoon. It reminded me of the Granville Island Markets in Vancouver, but had its own distinct Seattle flavor. By the time we got there we faced a dilemma ... should we eat a late lunch or an early dinner?? It was 3.30pm after all. The Three Girls Bakery solved that problem for us. I had forgotten what an American "sandwich" is like, and for the rest of my family it was an unexpected avalanche of food. We were served by beautiful people who were fascinated by our accents and unfamiliarity with everything they sold, and they entertained us and enticed us to try
more and more. When Greg said he thought he could sit there and keep eating until they closed, they laughed and said they did not think they were that fond of him!
Eventually we wandered off ... by that time everything was closing up and the crowds were heavy around fish and produce stalls in the hope of closing bargains. You would have thought we would not be hungry again that evening, but two growing children who eat like horses had their father trotting out in search of Vietnamese fare within a couple of hours.
The next morning we were transported by a very nice Uber vehicle for about 30 minutes to the rental place where our magnificent RV awaited. Excitement was running high as we all eagerly craned our necks for the first sight of our home for the next 5 weeks. But it was not to be a quick procedure ... the check-in check-out process took quite sometime. We took advantage of the 2 shelves of "free" items garnered from previous tenants of returned vehicles while we reeled in horror at the fee of $70 per person for a linen kit for each of us for
the duration of our trip and decided that a trip to the local "thrift" store would probably take care of all that for a much lesser price tag.
Finally in our magnificent machine and on the road we headed to Goodwill where we kitted ourselves out with linen and bedding for a total of $78.00 for all of us. Then on to Walmart for more pillows and food. EVENTUALLY we emerged with we hoped sufficient food and supplies for at least 48 hours. It was a HOT afternoon, we were all absolutely tired, and feeling the heat. And so it was that Greg and Em discovered that the air conditioning in the cab of our magnificent machine was not working ... just blowing HOT air. By that time it was too late to go back to let the chaps at the rental store take a look, so we opted for a close by RV park for our first night on board. It was a KOA ... equivalent to a Big 4 park ... with all those facilities you would expect of a Big 4 and a price tag to match. The kids were stoked and Oliver and I amused
ourselves playing walk and carry Chess with pieces almost as big as him. He wopped me ... I was so tired by this time I could hardly walk, never mind play chess.
Next morning we headed back expecting the chaps to quickly flick a switch and make the air con work and be on our way to Boeing. But such was not to be the case. They couldn't make it work, decided it had to go back to the factory and said they would have to swap us to another magnificent machine. Long story short ... it was not until 4pm that afternoon that we drove off in our current RV in the direction of Boeing (right across the other side of Seattle). We stayed the night in a nearby RV park again, and at 9.30 next morning duly arrived at Boeing ready for our tour. Left to my own devices I might not have bothered with Boeing ... but being a seasoned mother of three sons, I willingly agreed that it would be great, and it was. The size was overwhelming. Sheds tall enough to hold up to 12 jumbo jets at a time on just one assembly
line ... one shed covered 40 hectares and contained many assembly lines. No photos or cameras were allowed on the tour so we had to make do with a photo of us all that is superimposed on an official boeing photo of the factory floor. You will all have to check out Greg's next blog to see that as I don't have it yet.
I guess my visit to this place was also rather special in that my eldest son Paul, when he worked for Qantas as an aeronautical engineer, used to make frequent trips to this Boeing plant in Seattle. It was somewhat emotional knowing that I was looking down on a part of his history.
The delay with the motorhome set us back about 24 hours, but finally now with the Boeing tour over, we headed back across the city of Seattle (again at peak rush hour time it seemed ...but by this time Greg and Em had worked out that the Express Freeway lane was available for vehicles carrying 3 or more passengers and we qualified) and finally broke free of the metropolitan sprawl and escaped into the forests and foothills of Mt Rainier. You
could hear us all sigh with pleasure as the road narrowed, the corners increased, the climb steepened and the forests loomed around us. We camped that night in a State park at the edge of Lake Alder ... we think a source of water for generating hydro power. Amy and Oliver were quick to gather kindling and get our campfire going, and after some nourishing minestrone soup, we gorged ourselves on Smores ... an american campfire treat of marshmellows, graham crackers and melted chocolate. Oops ... what happened to Granny's sugar free diet?
Yesterday we headed south again ... eventually crossing the state border between Washington and Oregon by way of a huge bridge spanning the Columbia River, and made our way out to the coast at Astoria where this river empties into the sea. At this point the Columbia River is spanned by a bridge 6 miles wide .... like everything in this country, its enormous. A short drive further south and we arrived at a place called Cannon Beach, where one of the Oregon's most photographed and famous landmarks resides ... a set of rocks known as the the Haystack. Sunset walks on the beach were most rewarding
Sue Coleman art works
I love this woman's art work. Will be buying some to bring home.
as you will see from my photos, not to mention lots of fun. We have spent today being still ... Amy and Oliver spent the morning in "school", while I did a load or two of washing for us all. Back to the beach this afternoon for kite flying and walking, photo taking etc. Eventually the wind and cold sent me back to the RV while the family continued to brave the elements ... the weather has changed again. Someone told us a day or so ago that snow is forecast for Oregon sometime later this week ????? Seems they might be right.
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