$7.10

Unbelievably, that is our average cost PER DAY for “lodging” for the month of November 2016. Since starting on the road as “full-timers” on July 1st of this year, as each month passes, we have done a bit of fine tuning pertaining to our monthly expenditures. But November camping expenses were over the top in terms of money saved. So, how did we do it?

Well, we certainly didn’t start the month very well. The first three days and nights were at a full hook-up RV park at a daily rate of $34.00. Not good if you’re trying to pinch pennies. But then, we grabbed two nights in two different approved Wal-Mart parking lots. I say “approved” because not all Wal-Marts will allow overnight parking. Usually, it is not Wal-Mart that will not allow you to overnight there, it’s the city or town in which the Wal-Mart is located. Fortunately, we have an Allstays app that pertains exclusively to Wal-Marts throughout the U.S. It indicates which ones allow overnighting and which ones don’t, along with user feedback.

Anyway, beyond staying at a couple of Wal-Marts, we then stayed in a BLM Campground for 7 days at a cost of $6.00 per day with our federal Senior Pass. Then, expecting to only stay 1 day, we checked into an RV park. But, instead of paying the winter rate of $30 per day for full hook-ups and free wifi, we agreed to help the park managers rake Fall leaves. In exchange for helping out, we were allowed to stay for free. We stayed 7 days. And then for the final 10 days of November, we are camped at another BLM campground at a cost of $7.50 per day.

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Travel Days-Flaming Gorge to Moab

Sunday was moving day. For several reasons, we were actually surprised at how reluctant we were to leave. If it hadn’t been for the altitude and the fact that winter really is setting in at Flaming Gorge, we probably would have stayed indefinitely. But as they say, we have other fish to fry down south. We’re still hoping to spend some quality time in Moab and southern Utah before pushing on to southern Arizona for the winter. But interestingly, even though we were needing to leave Flaming Gorge because of weather, in looking  at the forecast for Moab, it would appear the weather there was not much better. No snow, but rain and thunderstorms. Hhmmm…

Travel Day 2

Yesterday, we traveled from Flaming Gorge over a 8400 ft. pass and south down into Vernal.  On the northern outskirts of Vernal, we had previously noticed  Don Pedro’s Mexican Restaurant.  This time, we stopped there for lunch.  It was wonderful.  Great interior decor.  Great food.don-pedros

Before leaving Vernal, and knowing it would be sometime before having access to another Wal-Mart, we stopped there for some supplies before continuing on to Roosevelt and then to Duchesne.  Because we got a late start from Flaming Gorge, it was getting a bit late as we passed through Duchesne.  So, we decided to grab a pull-out boondocking spot that we found just south of town.  Little did we know that our “spot” was adjacent to a small box canyon that serves as the local shooting range.  For about an hour and a half we had a pickup truck drive in and the entire family spilled out with an armada of weapons, including hand guns, big game rifles and at least automatic weapon.  They took turns shooting each weapon until it got too dark to see.  I guess we were lucky they did not have night vision lenses.

So after a restful evening and nights sleep, once the shooters were gone, we were up and having our morning coffee.  For whatever reason, since it’s not typical of me, I happened to look at our route for the day as we headed towards Moab.  It was then that I noticed that in our first 29 miles, we were going to have to climb over a pass of 9,114 feet.  Now, in the old pre-retirement days, I probably would have pushed on after dark, knowing that Price, Utah was just another hours drive “up” the road, not even taking notice of this 9,100 foot pass that the map indicated was “closed in winter”.  Map?  We don’t need no stinking map. As it was, the pass was covered in snow.  But fortunately,  none on the road.  We took it easy up and over AFTER unhitching the jeep.  Except for heavy rain, and thunder and lightning close to Moab, we arrived at Goose Island campground along the Colorado river by mid-afternoon.  We settled into site #3 and wondered at the sheer beauty of this area.

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Even though it was raining when we arrived (see the water staining on the canyon walls?), and continued through the night, we woke up to a sunny sky and an unexpected surprise…waterfalls that weren’t there before the rain.canyon-waterfall

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Gambling on the Weather in Northern Utah

We’re nearing the end of our two weeks at Flaming Gorge, and we decided to stay put to let a storm pass through the area. At 6500 feet elevation, we knew it might snow but we’re gambling that whatever we get will be gone within a day once the weather clears. Our “gamble” is based on local knowledge.

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Nevertheless, we went from this…

 

 

 

To this…………………………………………………      in a matter of hours during the night. The forecast is for the storm to pass late this evening. Then, with clearing skies, it will get colder. Our hope is that the coming sunny sky will melt everything, including any ice on the road south which will be at a much lower elevation.

In the meantime, the slides are out with all of the window shades up. The furnace is on, and with a warm cup of hot chocolate, all is well with our world. We are truly blessed.

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Flaming Gorge, Utah

One of the great things about being on the road full-time is that you have no agenda. You can go where you want, when you want. With this in mind, we set our sights on somewhere we had never been. Although our near-term destination is Moab, Utah and the National Parks of southern Utah, there was one stop we wanted to make along the way…Flaming Gorge. This National Recreation Area is actually in two states, Wyoming and Utah, due to the fact that Flaming Gorge Reservoir is 90 miles long running north from Wyoming, south to Utah. We decided to see the Utah portion, described as the most scenic. Not having been here before, we did not know what to expect. Suffice it to say that we are now in our tenth day here and we are awe struck by the beauty of this area. And that’s saying something since we are here between Fall and Winter, probably the least colorful time of the year. But the weather has been spectacular. Clear blue skies every day with typical Fall temperatures…about 63 degrees during the day. Forest covered mountains as a back drop. Sometimes, words are not enough, So Here are a few pictures…

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Imagine the Grand Canyon filled with water. Maybe not as big, or as deep as the Grand Canyon, but spectacular nonetheless. Your looking at 1700 feet straight down.

 

 

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Just another view, but of a different canyon. This is Red Canyon. We were camped at Canyon Rim Campground for 6 days. This was our view. Boondocking at its finest.

 

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Big horn sheep came into camp for a visit. There were a total of 16 of these magnificent animals, seven of which were rams. They ultimately decided to rest for awhile and all layed down within 50 feet of us for about 2 hours. Unbelievable. Click to enlarge.

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After awhile, some of the rams wandered off for a meeting, leaving two rams to keep an eye on the females.

 

 

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Our plan after six days of boondocking was to move down the road about 5 miles to Flaming Gorge Resort which includes Pine Forest RV Park. We were going to stay only one day to dump our tanks, fill up with water, gas up and fill our propane tank, all of which we did. But we hit it off with the camp hosts who offered that if we might help them rake leaves, we could stay as long as we like for free. With full hook-ups, wifi and a strong cellular signal, our decision was easy.

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This was the view we had as we sat in our chairs outside our coach having our morning coffee. This RV park really IS a park-like setting, with 45 sites and some of the best facilities we have experienced. Deer camp out here everyday. And the price is right. 🙂

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We just had to take this photo of a shed outside the Red Canyon Lodge which was down the road from our boondocking spot at Canyon Rim Campground.

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The vistas in the high country above Flaming Gorge are just spectacular. Originally thinking we were a bit late in the year to be here, we felt truly blessed to see the beauty here, knowing that it gets even better at other times of the year.

 

This tree is not at Flaming Gorge. It actually was against a wall in the McDonald’s parking lot in Vernal, Utah, about 35 miles south of Flaming Gorge. We made a quick trip to Vernal one day to re-supply at the local Walmart. Since we were late in capturing fall color in the high country above Flaming Gorge, I couldn’t resist grabbing this “color” at McDonalds.

 

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Moab or Bust

Another late post due to not being in an area with Internet access. We’ve been boondocking lately and loving it, even though our postings have been delayed.

After six weeks, we finally gave up on the rain in  the Pacific Northwest. We enjoyed our time on Whidbey Island and the San Juans area. And we had a good time in Oregon, particularly Winchester Bay and Newport on the Coast. But, except for a few sunny days here and there, it was incessant rain. We made it as far as Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River, but it was a drive-thru as we headed east to Longview, Washington and then down Interstate 5 to the Columbia River Gorge (I84) and eastward.

About 10 days ago, we pulled out of Baker City, Oregon after three wonderful days there at Mt. View RV Park. This photo shows the office and store reflective of the Oregon Trail. baker-city_mt-view-rv-parkThe other out buildings, including the indoor spa as well as the laundry, showers and bathrooms were decorated with Oregon pioneer facades as well.

This is a beautiful area of eastern Oregon known for at least two things. One is the fact that the Oregon Trail passed through this valley, a portion of which is still visible adjacent to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center which is built high above on Flagstaff Hill just to the east of town.baker-city

The other thing that Baker City is known for is gold. In 1861, gold was discovered about 8 miles southwest of town. Some pioneers traveling the Oregon Trail to Oregon City, “the promised land”, near what is now Portland, found themselves retracing their steps back to the Baker City area due to the lure of gold. As a result, many residents of Baker City and Baker County are descendants of the Oregon Trail pioneers.

Prior to arriving in Baker City, we made an overnight Walmart stop in Pendleton, Oregon. Pendleton is the site of the Pendleton Roundup, one of America’s oldest Rodeos. What makes the “Roundup” unique is that from its very  beginning, it brought American cowboys and bronco busters together with local native American tribal members in a form of competition and celebration.

pendleton-woolen-mills_20161101_104250While in Pendleton, we visited the Pendleton Woolen Mills, taking the tour. Pendleton Woolen Mills has existed since the 1800s, and although they have moved their famous wool shirt manufacturing overseas, their beautiful blankets are still made in Pendleton.

 

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Even though this building was built in 1909, after the original factory burned down, Pendleton Woolen Mills has existed for about 120 years

 

 

pendleton-woolen-mills_interiorOne cannot appreciate the patterns and colors used in the production of Pendleton products without actually seeing them in person. During our tour the Pendleton tour guide emphasized how proud Pendleton was of it close relationship over many decades with Native Americans and the company’s inspiration from native patterns.

 

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Actually seeing the different machines used to produce a single blanket, you cannot help but think how far we have come since the days of weaving wool on looms by hand. Even looms, in their day, were considered to be a marvel. Although this particular machine will produce an actual blanket in a day, the entire process from sheep to finished good takes about 3 months.

 

After leaving Pendleton, we continued on our journey that will eventually take us to Moab, Utah. We stayed on Interstate 84 heading south and east. As is typical of a lot of our modern roadways that have literally become paved versions of historic and significant trails, at least parts of I84 generally follow the Oregon Trail. After leaving Baker City, Oregon, we were essentially back tracking where the early pioneers had come from.

The three-island-crossingInterstate crossed places like Burnt River and Three Island Crossing, significant elements of the trail. The latter is significant because after attempting crossings elsewhere along the Snake River with disasterous results, a place was eventually found where the river was somewhat tamed due to three islands located in the otherwise wide channel. This made for a much easier crossing in shallower and slower moving water. Today, Three Island Crossing is a state park.

We spent two nights “camping” in Walmart parking lots; one in Mountain Home, Idaho, and another in Ogden, Utah. We don’t always get the best sleep at Walmarts, but they are free and are good for re-supply missions.

From Ogden, we headed east over and through a couple of mountain ranges, and then climbing up onto the vast plateau that includes on its western edge, Evanston, Wyoming, We finally jumped off the interstate at Ft. Bridger, ft-bridgerwhich has been restored and is now a Wyoming State Park. Ft. Bridger was an important crossing point of the Oregon Trail, the Morman Trail, the California Trail and the famed Pony Express.ft-bridger-ii

 

 

 

 

 

Heading south from Ft. Bridger on Highway 43 is a challenge for a 36 foot motorhome pulling a 4,000 lb. Jeep. Our destination for the day was Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. Not having been there previously, we really did not know what to expect, but we soon found out that to see the “gorge”, one has to climb…and climb…and climb. Had we done a little research beforehand, we would have known to unhook the Jeep and drive the two vehicles separately. But we didn’t. We’re still learning.

We also didn’t know what to expect regarding campgrounds. We HAD researched knowing that we would be at Flaming Gorge’s southern end and had identified two possibilities for camping there. One was Lucerne Valley Marina down on the water just outside of Manila, Utah. The other, more desirable location was up on top of Flaming Gorge at Canyon Rim Campground.

Even though we were traveling late in the year, we were not sure whether there would be space in this small campground, AND it was getting very late in the day, violating one of our rules about trying to stop early in the day when traveling. And even though Flaming Gorge itself is open year-round, not all the campgrounds remain open. We passed a couple as we entered the “park”, and they were closed.

We need not have worried. With about 30 minutes of daylight remaining, we pulled into Canyon Rim Campground and found that we were the only ones there…and it was open. Having the pick of any of the sites, we chose #16 because it was located next to a clearing in the forest with wide open views of the distant ridge line. Within a short walking distance from our site, we could walk to the rim in several spots overlooking a significant portion of Flaming Gorge. Imagine a slightly smaller version of the Grand Canyon except this one is somewhat filled with water as a result of the damming of the Green River. That is Flaming Gorge. And even though there is a lake, it is still several thousand feet below the rim. Pretty spectacular. And we had it all to ourselves with perfect clear blue sky weather. Our next post will focus on our time spent in the area of Flaming Gorge.

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Newport Oregon and Wall Art

We had three primary reasons for stopping for awhile in Newport, Oregon after leaving Winchester Bay. First, our fairly new friends Mike and Denise were camp hosting at South Beach State Park there. Second, Newport has been featured on a reality television show recently, depicting the lives of crab fisherman there. And third, somewhat related to the television show, the “bar” at the opening of the jetty leading into Newport Harbor is considered treacherous most of the time, and quite deadly at other times. We had to see it for ourselves.

We spent three days at South Beach State Park, parked right next to our friends. deniseIn between hosting duties, we were able to get together for dinners, deserts and just chats. They have been on the road for four years and have been a good resource for us since we first met them this past July at Jojoba Hills Escapees Park in Southern California. Doesn’t she look cute?

Newport is the commercial crabbing capital of the Oregon Coast. At the time of our visit, the fleet was mostly in port providing an opportunity to see many boats at the same time “up close and personal”.

 

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One boat in particular, the Wanda J, has been featured in Deadliest Catch-Dungeoness Cove, the reality TV show we previously mentioned. Imagine our surprise to actually see it tied up to the dock. We’re nothing but a couple of groupies.

The “bar” outside Newport Harbor, although still dangerous looking this time of year, was referred to by locals as fairly mild. As  it turns out, the commercial crabbing season, December/January, is generally during the worst time of the year of ingress and egress of the Newport Jetty.

During our time in Newport, we spent time down in the historical Bay Front District, an area of shops, seafood restuarants and, to our surprise…wall art.

Here is a sampling of some art that we found. wall-art-2 wall-art-3 wall-art-4 wall-art-5 wall-art-6 wall-art-9 wall-art-7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ultimately, we had to head north, leaving Newport in our rear camera. But not before getting two more ‘Oregon Coast” photos…

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Heading to Newport

Eventually, we had to put Winchester Bay in our rearview mirror (camera) and continue heading north, but not before a few parting photos…

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This one is of a carved bench in the RV park that overlooks the marina. Somebody went to a lot of artful work for which we are appreciative…

 

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Bogie wanted to say goodbye to a friend he made.

 

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And, as we were hooking up the toad (tow’d), we looked out on the river and there were Mary, Jerry and Larry in their boat starting yet another day of crabbing.

 

Next stop, Newport, Oregon. We would be staying at South Beach State Park. Our friends, Denise and Mike are camp hosting there. Along the way, we took a few photos.

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Here’s one of the coast on the way between Winchester Bay and Newport…

 

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and another view that includes some chick that keeps following us…

 

 

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And, although this photo was shot in the rain and is not very good, it is of Heceta Lighthouse. Click to enlarge.

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Winchester Bay, Oregon

When we had decided that our initial full-time travels would include touring the Oregon Coast, we knew we would spend some time at Winchester Bay. Several blogs that we have been following made mention of the location, and in particular, the Winchester Bay RV Resort. This park is located entirely on a peninsula that juts out to the point (no pun intended) where the Umpqua River meets the Pacific Ocean just  inside the treacherous Windy Cove jetty. And on its east side, the park also overlooks the Winchester Bay Marina. This is where our site was located, site #8, overlooking the marina. Here’s our view out the windshield…windshield-view_20161021_150520

Winchester Bay is adjacent to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area which stretches along the Oregon Coast to the south for about 25 miles all the way to Coos Bay. The dunes are an amazing sight to see, more like mountains of forest-covered sand in many places than what one would expect as a “dune”. dunes_20161021_173836Equally amazing, are the motor coaches and mega buck trailers that show up filled with “toys” to run the dunes. We saw more than one coach, trailer, all terrain vehicles set-up that easily exceeded 1 million dollars. Obviously, members of the “He who dies with the most toys wins” club.

But, as beautiful as the dunes are, we came to Winchester Bay to learn about crabbing. And the first thing we learned was that this area is a favorite for those that want to catch delectable and sought after Dungeness Crab. The second thing we learned is that catching crab is not particularly difficult…with a little patience and the right equipment. And, you don’t even need a boat.

We met Larry and Jerry, two close friends who, along with there wives Jan and Mary have been coming to Winchester Bay for years from Virginia City, Nevada. They became our crabbing mentors. new-best-friends_20161025_080429They explained that you don’t need a nearly 100 lb. commercial type crab pot to go crabbing. There are several inexpensive types of alternative traps and snares for the occasional crabber. Maybe one of the more popular traps is the “book” type, which comes in different sizes. Basically, it is baited and lowered using a fishing rod and reel. When it is on the bottom, it lays flat like an open book. When it is raised, it closes like a closed book. The crab, or crabs, become the bookmarks. 🙂

This place is also great for bicycling, whether in the RV Resort, or over to the village, marina and coast guard station, down the road to the Umpqua Lighthouse, or to the beach. With a couple of good weather days while here, we finally got to ride our bikes.umpqua-lighthouse_20161022_124920

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We spent three days here and, except for the rain, we loved it. Having spent the last six weeks in the Pacific Northwest, with rain a lot of the time, we are ready for sunny weather. And although you expect rain here, even the locals are telling us this has been unusual. Nevertheless, we must be gluttons for punishment since we will be heading further NORTH from here before finally turning toward the east.

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Sutherlin, Oregon – Playing in the Rain

This gallery contains 7 photos.

I’m still finishing up a post regarding our last two weeks on Whidbey Island up near the San Juan Islands in Washington. In an area so scenic, it is easy to take lots of photos, and we certainly did. So … Continue reading

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Our First Two Weeks in the San Juans and Whidbey Island

The San Juan Islands of Washington is one of our favorite areas, and has been since we first visited here on motorcycles back in 1984. We have been here again since then in our previous motorhome, but both trips were while on vacation, and while still working. This time, as retired full-time RVers, we have parked ourselves for a month at North Whidbey RV Park. Although there are other camping options in the area, we chose this park because of its central location to things we want to see and do, AND they have a good monthly rate starting in September. It is almost literally at the south end of the Deception Pass Bridge and State Park, a beautiful area. After boondocks for the past several days which included two truck stops, a Walmart parking lot, and an Indian Casino, we were ready for getting off the road for awhile and the amenities that a RV park offers. And, being parked for a month in a place we love seems priceless.first-sunset_whidbey_20160914_193037_lls

 

Our first sunset————————–>

Our first several days here were a combination of relaxing, exploring the area and doing a little work around the “house”. Four towns in particular are in fairly close proximity to our campground. In no particular order, they are Anacortes, Oak Harbor, Coupeville and La Conner. When we have visited the area in the past, the town of Anacortes was our launching point for taking a ferry to the San Juan Islands and Canada’s Vancouver Island. Now that we are “locals”, we decided that we will actually spend some time getting to know the town.

One of our “must visit” destinations is the town of La Conner. Although we took a quick drive there the one day, it was late and, other than dinner, most of the shops were closed by the time we finished eating. So, we planned to go back during the day.

And speaking of dinner, we may have found the best mexican restaurant we have ever eaten at. It is called COA. Interestingly, coa is a tool uniquely designed to harvest the Agave plant for the production of tequila. The family that operates this restaurant comes from the particular region in Mexico that is well-known for producing the very best tequilas. The recipes used in the restaurant are derived from this same region.coa-burrito_20160916_175403

Believe it or not, this photo is a roasted pork filled burrito, one of the restaurant’s specialties. Muy delicio!

 

One of the things we love doing when visiting areas that are new to us, is to simply drive back roads without any destination in mind. Whidbey Island and the surrounding area is perfect for such explorations with forests, endless country lanes, farms, and coastal access. One evening before dark, we stumbled onto Ala Spit. A “spit” is a bar land form found off of coasts. Kind of like a finger or peninsula that juts out into the water. As is the case with Ala Spit, currents will often deposit debris on these spits, particularly during stormy weather. whidbey_ala-spit_tree-trunk_20160919_180729It is not unusual to see thousands of pieces of driftwood on a spit, including entire tree trunks complete with roots.

This picture is of the root system, what’s left of it, of an entire tree. At first, we thought the rocks were “grabbed” by the roots as the tree grew. But on close inspection, it is evident that these rocks were decoratively placed. Click to enlarge.

After having been on Whidbey Island now for about two weeks, we have discover a few things. First and foremost is that there is SO much to see here. The island is about 50 miles long and varies in width from, say, less than a mile to maybe 5 miles. At almost every turn of the endless number of roads, views are ever-changing.

Mt. Baker is a prominent feature here. As you travel throughout the area, it always seems to be watching over you. anacortes-bay_mt-baker_20160928_140945This photo of the Anacortes bay and large ship docks was taken on a clear day, a rarity in this neck of the woods.

On another of our day trips, we drove further south on Whidbey Island, beyond Oak Harbor, to the town of Coupeville. We enjoyed the seaport atmosphere of Coupeville’s old town. Not as many shops and historic buildings as other towns, but nice for strolling. coupeville-shop_20160921_140442

 

This photo is of one of the typical shops backing up to the bay and landing.

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The area around North Whidbey includes the Swinomish Indian Tribe and Reservation. In fact, when first arriving in this area, prior to settling in for a month at North Whidbey RV Park, we spent a couple of nights at the Swinomish Casino RV Park just southeast of Anacortes. The actual Reservation and “Community”is across the river from La Conner.

 

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This is a view of downtown La Conner taken from the Rainbow Bridge. La Conner is fast becoming one of our favorite day trip destinations.

 

 

 

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Everything is SO green in this area that ANY signs of autumn jump out at you. We caught these trees on fire in the residential and farming area of La Conner.

 

 

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At the south end of downtown La Conner is the “famous” Rainbow Bridge, which is named for its design resembling a rainbow.

 

 

 

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One of the things we really enjoy about La Conner are the shops. Lots of eclectic things that you might not typically run across. And some of the funky items in some shops actually spill out into courtyards and alleys, as if to say “see me”.

 

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Fishing and food from the sea is king in the Puget Sound area of Washington. This art object was one of several along the boardwalk in La Conner. The message seems clear.

 

 

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Ah, the buildings. We love historic downtowns and buildings, which are abundant here. All of the towns in this area have existed for a longtime and it is nice to see the pride exhibited in the preservation of their respective buildings. This particular one is in La Conner.

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Just imagine a perfect weather day, temperature around 70 degrees. And you are strolling along the docks in La Conner with a latte or hot cocoa in hand. Priceless.

 

 

So, that’s about it for now. It’s now almost October. We have another two weeks here. Among other things, we’re hoping to go whale watching out of Anacortes and also, we want to take the ferry from the south end of Whidbey Island over to Port Townsend. Stay tuned for my next post.

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