Our Travel Blog

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Driving Miss Donna - what does this mean? Whenever I want to go somewhere, if Don is home he will usually drive. He always says he is driving miss Donna! This blog is for our travels, usually with our truck and fifth wheel trailer, but sometimes in our Journey. Don retired October 2011 so hopefully the travelling part will increase! When we are not vacationing check in for updates about our life at home and our wonderful family:)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Fort Stevens State Park and South

Depending on your needs and wants, this might be one of the best stops on the Oregon Coast.  Nestled beside several good sized communities, close to every service you may need, but still a walk on the ocean whenever you wish. It seems we can’t stay away form this Astoria area. I had a few work deadlines to meet and 2 Co-op meetings so for cell and data service this seemed like a great choice.  The service in the campground was below par, as in nope, can’t call out today, but as soon as reaching the of the park things improved. I’m a master of vehicle conference calls!

One thing we have noted is that this is a very windy part of the coast at this time of year.  And although the sites in the campground are nice, if they didn’t have services the solar wouldn’t cut it. It is very dismal actually.  It took us years of visits to come to that conclusion! Not that depending on circumstances and timing we won’t be back, but perhaps time to find anew favorite in this area.

Seasoned RV’ers know that you should never leave yourself hanging for campsites on weekends.  It is unusually warm along the coast this year, and with fires inland, camping was busy. We went online to secure a site down the road for the next stop, but that didn’t appear to be happening.  So one day we just went for a drive to discover. County parks can be great, but if you haven’t been to one sometimes it’s just better to see it first.

Our next area to visit was Tillamook. A helpful state park attendant told us about Barview Jetty Park on Tillamook Bay, and what a great find.  We stayed on the jetty in full sunshine and just steps form the water.  On one side was the daily trek of fishing boats and on the other yet again an amazing beach to explore and discover, so we did just that!  The solar outperformed itself on this stop.

Always looking for destinations for day trips and places to explore found us popping in to Portland for a day. Such a beautiful thriving city to visit!  As well we visited the Tillamook market, and wandered south along the coastal towns. Although we would be going that way after this stop, it is never as interesting pulling the trailer.

We do have a strong attachment to Mo’s Seafood and Chowder, and it is hard for us not to stop whenever we know one is around, so that was included in this visit.  After stopping in Cannon Beach one day, we discovered a Mo’s had opened in Astoria in our 2 year absence!  There are a few more down the road so we look forward to that.

We also visited a local brewery and enjoyed their chowder and beer, but I must say Mo's is still the best.  But the brewery was cool.

And that sums up our stop in the Astoria area. I wish my mind could record all the sunsets, ocean waves and every beautiful piece of scenery we encounter.
We heading farther south for one more stop before we turn around, so see you in a few days!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Hello Pacific!

After leaving the Stecyk cabin on Sunday, our destination was Kamloops.  There is a convenient Costco we often overnight in, with a casino adjacent that has a few restaurants and a coffee shop.
The trip was great to Kamloops, but immediately following a turn on the highway a tire blew.  We had just turned and were resuming speed and BOOM!!  I always wondered what a tire sounded like when it blew up as compared to going flat.  Do yourself a favor and don’t wonder.  LOL  So the trek to Costco became more time consuming, as we had to change the tire then make our way back.  Then began the trick to finding a used tire (hopefully).  Add to that it was a holiday the next day and we were skeptical.  I started googling and phoning everything that came up, to no avail.  Then we started driving to see if they had signage about the holiday.  Here’s a thought – if you have a website post your hours, if you have a Facebook page post your hours, and just maybe if you have a door post your holiday hours!!  Oh and perhaps on your voice mail???? So as often happens in this world, in looking for one place we found another.  They had been open that Sunday so we fingers crossed that in the morning when I called they would be there and maybe have a tire.
We spent the evening over beer and wings in the casino, then an hour or so of reading. The next morning Andre’s Tire Shop did answer the phone. What a fortunate find this was – although they didn’t have a matching used tire, they sold exactly the type of tire Don prefers, and the prices after BC taxes were the same as at home.  So with 4 shiny new Hankooks we were on our way again.
Our original destination on this day was Southbeach Campground on the Washington coast, part of Olympia National Forest.  With the tire incident we knew we wouldn’t get that far, but we did get to another lovely Costco parking lot in Olympia, the city. It was the perfect stop with three grocery stores around and a Starbucks!  I’m a simple girl, Starbucks can make me very happy.Also there were a few choices for dinner, and so beer and burgers it was! And Wi-Fi, which is just a bonus as you RV’ers know. So with dinner out of the way, groceries loaded and a Starbucks in hand, it was an OK day.

The next morning it didn’t take long to head west through Aberdeen and north to Queets.  Although it was a bit of backtracking, Southbeach is worth it. Although Southbeach campground is meant to be overflow for the Kaloloch National Forest Service Campground, we think of it the other way around.  Southbeach has almost a random pattern of sites, each with fire pits and tables, and almost everyone is either ocean front or ocean view.  It is a 2 or 3 minute walk to the beach form everywhere.  Kaloloch is an older development, and hence small treed sites of which we fit few.

It didn’t take long to set up the rig and get to the beach.  Where our spring trip find us in search of hiking and climbing trails, our fall trip, if on the ocean, is in search of beaches to walk and sunsets to enjoy.  It’s a slow quiet pace which is always good for the soul.

While here our day trips consisted of visiting Aberdeen (Starbucks and Wi-Fi), visiting Forks and all the Twilight movie propaganda, and a drive south to Ocean Shores. Highway 109 along the coast from Taholah to Ocean Shores passes through many communities, all of which have their own charm and attractions. But Ocean Shores surprised us.  It is much larger than expected and although the last census I could find claims just over 5,000 residents, it seems 4 times that size. I will be curious to see their next count, as there are numerous new developments, many multi family or apartments. I think this is a place to come back to on a different travel schedule.

We spent 5 nights at Southbeach before heading to another favorite destination, Astoria OR, and another favorite beach to walk on.  The ocean is calling so I will talk to you later!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Summertime with the Smiths

I always find as August approaches we start thinking about our September trip.  Is anyone else like that?  But it feels like you are wishing other days away.  This summer since we don’t “travel” afar, like the coast or south, etc., I wanted to focus on spending time with the kids.  Mason will be in preschool when everything starts up again, and it gets harder to fit ourselves into their days.
So in addition to being with the Cameron family in Idaho, and all the lake trips we’ve already had together, here is our August.

It all started with Heidi staying with us for the remaining 2 weeks of her family’s vacation in the States.  That’s a long time for a pet to stay at a kennel and/or travel in an RV but be confined through the day when everyone is out exploring.  Both our grand dogs are excellent guests, and having Heidi over I knew would initiate a bit more walking than usual.  We are pretty sure she made up some pee breaks just for the walk.  LOL

Connor and Mason had a sleep over one Saturday and as always they are beyond entertaining with watching them play and just their everyday interactions!  Lucy didn’t stay with them, but Heidi kept the floor clean.

When the Camerons came home we returned Heidi and took dinner in, excited to hear the kids descriptions of their adventures.  There were lots of stories.

I went with Lindsay and the boys to the Whitecourt Rotary Park.  What an amazing place!  They have this river that you float down in tubes and we had the perfect day for it.  We joined our friends Sharon and her daughter Stephanie and kids.  Sharon and I have been friends since we moved to Stony Plain 20 years ago, and our daughters grew up friends and are now mom friends.  It’s always great when we get together.  I don't have the photos of that day, Lindsay does.

A couple of days after that Don and I went fishing with Todd and Sharon.  Our lake of choice this summer has been Lac St Anne.  Jeremy found a great boat launch which is about 2 km from their cabin near Darwell.  It is an easy launch to access, the water levels were perfect for in and out, and lots of boat trailer parking.  Of course it’s also nice that it is minutes from Lindsay and Jeremy’s.  Anyway, we met the Marshalls out there and had a great fishing day.  We caught several Walleye but none were the size our tags allowed.

On August 13 we headed to Buffalo Lake to camp with Ken and Brenda.  For a few summers we have been getting together for a few days of camping.  They offered to come out to Alberta this time.  We found a great campground and if we’d had the grandchildren it was a perfect location.  We were right on the shore of the lake with an amazing view.  Of course we didn’t need the playground, we took the more adult approach of a few beers, a few shopping trips and lots of quiet visits.

Lindsay suggested visiting Reynolds Museum in Wetaskiwin so one day we loaded the boys and snacks and off we went.  What a great place to take boys to!  Anything that flies or has wheel was here.  The day went by too fast.  Definitely should be a stop if you are ever by, as the amount of pictures show!

That same week all of Tracy’s kids were in camp so I helped out a bit by picking the girls up at their camps.  Reese was in a City of St Albert day camp at Servus Place and Em attended the U of A Ringette camp. Maybe because of my years running summer day camps with the Town of Stony Plain, I an pretty picky about the structure and what I observe in camps, and both of these were excellent.  And the girls loved them, which of course matters most:)

We really needed one more lake day/boat day and were hoping the weather would co-operate.  Turns out it did.  Grandpa and the kids all enjoyed a few spins on the wakeboard (yes Grandpa does donuts), and many rides on the tube.  Then we headed to Lindsay’s cabin and tucked the boat away.

The next day Tracy and I took the kids to the Ukrainian Village, another wonderful venue in our region that I had never visited.  They have a lot of potential there, but we were visiting on off season so some attractions weren’t available.  But overall it too is a great place to visit.  The grounds are beautiful, and the feel for the pioneer’s life is awesome, as the hosts are all in costume and period.  The school was neat for the kids to see, as the principal was in attendance, and asked Blake and I some difficult math questions!

The last day of the month found the Cameron kids having a sleepover, as Tracy had her first day of work on September 1.  We were headed to the Stecyk cabin as a start to our September vacation, so the kids came with us and Tracy and Cal came out to pick them up and have dinner.  We stayed for 2 nights, rode quads and relaxed.  The weather didn’t cooperate for the boat, but we enjoyed our peaceful time there.

On Sunday we headed out on our coastal vacation.  We love the west coast, specifically southern Washington and all of Oregon, so that is where we are headed this time.
I’m not sure how energetic this vacation will be so don’t get too excited about upcoming posts, they may be as slow as I am hoping to be.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

No We Didn't Leave Blogger

I feel this need to write all the time about exciting adventures from places we've been and new places.  Coming home I wonder who wants to read about our daily lives.  I love my home life and my away life but would anyone else?  So I pull back from blogging, then I try to binge write.  LOL
Does any other blogger feel this way?
So to "catch up" I am going to share May, June and now July (ugh) in pictures, with very little commentary.

The blanks can be filled with work, because yes we do that too, and doing things with the grandkids, watching them at activities, babysitting sometimes and getting in hugs whenever!

May 5 - Blake's 10th birthday!  This little man introduced us to the best gift in life - being grandparents.  We joined the Cameron family at a school fundraiser for the evening, and on Sunday for a family BBQ.  We also made an appearance at his birthday party the following Saturday!

May 6 - Emerson performed at the annual Veeteretz Year End Recital with her Ukrainian Dance group.

May 18 - The annual May Long camping trip at Cross Lake.  Fabulous as always.

May 27 - Lindsay's Birthday.  Love her to the moon and back

May 27 - Trip to North Battleford for my mom's memorial service.  we actually ended up staying 2 nights and visiting with cousins and aunts that I don't make enough effort to stay connected with.

May 31 - Happy 37th Anniversary Don

June 4 - Fantastic fishing day

June 10 - Sleepover with Connor and Mason

June 13 - 18- Amazing fishing trip to Meadow Lake Provincial Park

June 21 - Rees's piano recital

June 24 - Cameron kids sleepover

June 27 - Attended Connor's year end celebrations at school

July 2 - Fabulous lake day with the Camerons

July 4 - 6 - I went on a girl's trip!!

July 7 - 10 - Camerons are at our house while their mom and dad have a getaway, and Cal competed in the Sinister 7

July 16 - 21 - We went to Coeur d"alene with the Camerons and discovered Silverwood

And so ends July

Friday, April 28, 2017

Salt Lake City

Well it is never hard for me to decide what city I like to spend the last part of vacation in.  I’m not sure what first attracted me to Salt Lake City, Don will probably tell you the shopping.  We’ve gotten so that this is a last stop on our way home in the spring.  Typically have stayed at Provo Lake State Park, on the far south side.  This year we decided for the purpose of our mad dash out the morning of departure that we would try a place on the far north end.  Every time we drive the I15 and see the signs for Willard Bay State Park we are curious, so this time we made a stop.  There are 2 areas to camp in, the South Marina and the North.  Although we stayed at the North, we would recommend the South.  They both have full services (North $30 and South $25 per night), but the biggest difference is the proximity to the highway.  The South Marina Campground is quite a distance out, and far quieter and secluded.  However we didn't explore the South until we were set up, and after boondocking for so long, the noise was going to be noise no matter where we settled!
We spent our time here trying to mentally transition into the trip home, and the weather cooperated by being downright ugly.  The fireplace went non stop to ward off not just the cool temperatures but also the damp form rain and SNOW!
We did make a tourist drive to Antelope Island State Park.  It honestly didn't seem like a place we would camp in but the scenery was lovely.  We did spot an antelope wandering but predominantly the wildlife were buffalo.

Well this blog ends our vacation.  We are ready to head home at least for awhile.  I don't think our summer is going to be as busy as last year, but never say never right?
I will try to keep you updated, but you know I am not too great at that.
Thanks for coming along with us again.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Jeep Week is Over!

And that means it was time to move to Moab.  We really are creatures of habit, as once we find a spot to camp at we like, it is hard to change.  We stayed at Ken’s Lake which is a BLM site.  I won’t say there isn’t any boondocking near Moab, but none that fit our needs.  Some were too adventurous of a drive considering our habit of not being able to sit still, some were already packed full, and some were just not us.
Ken’s Lake is on the south side of Moab and only about 5 minutes from town.  A perfect location for exploring Arches National Park and surrounding areas, as well as evening wifi entertainment at McDonalds and a few stops at the Moab Brewery.
I guess I just summarized our stay here, but let me tell you about the hikes…
On a drive along the Colorado River one day we happened upon a road that said Fisher Towers, and a campground sign.  That was enough intrigue to lead us down the road.  While the campground was not for us, the road too bad and the sites too small, the trail called us.   It was absolutely phenomenal!  There is nothing like seeing these rocks and towers, and although I’m sure there are thousands of hikers who have viewed them, nothing is visible form the roads.  Wandering through the gentle red rocks, trailing around tower formations, climbing up crevice ladders, and ending at the perfect picnic site is beyond words.
The mightiest tower, the Titan, is a midway point.  This is a popular spot for climbers, and we observed some hearty souls that reached the summit and posed for photos.  On our way back to the trailhead Don spotted a couple whom he had taken some photos of.  He called out to them to show the photos and between their broken English and our total lack of German, we exchanged emails, and later sent the photos to them.  They were so grateful and excited, as they explained never did they expect to have a couples photo taken while climbing!
Although marked as moderate, this trail was pretty challenging for us, especially me.  Don may admit he is not the most comfortable with heights, but I am not the most comfortable with heights, climbing, walking on ledges and edges and sweating!  LOL  So it feels especially good to challenge ourselves and finish the hike.

Our last hike of this holiday was the Negro Bill Trail northeast of Moab.  This is a popular trail in the heat, as it winds along a creek bed and has fabulous tree coverage for shade.  It is rated moderate but is an easy moderate.  The gift at the end is the Moring Glory Natural Bridge.   The bridge has a 75 foot span, and provides a cool covered area to rest, or have lunch.  Natural bridges are so awe inspiring and this one a bit ore than orhers.  Hopefully the photos help you “get” that!

The rest of our time in Moab was spent driving exploring and laundry.  Yup that still needs to be done.
We are moving north to Salt Lake City today, and I will try to catch up before we leave for home.