The New and Improved Road House

Despite having all the time in the world to write during this weird pandemic I seem to be writing less. Call it writers block or perhaps feeling like I’ve got nothing interesting to write about, either or both maybe? While I was puzzling about what to write about the other day, it dawned on me that I promised to fill you in on the new Road House… yep, over a year ago… August 5th, 2019 to be exact…. okay, well over a year ago.

So the upside to this very tardy post is we have had plenty of time to travel in the new Road House and collect our thoughts on what we love about this coach and what we actually miss about the other coach.

Tada…here she is!!!

The new Road House is a 2013 43 ft Entegra DEQ, Class A Diesel Pusher with a 450HP Cummins engine and 4 slide outs. Similar to the original Road House but 5 ft longer, 10 years newer and a bigger engine – 120 hp more. She is definitely a plus size gal!

Woo-Hoo a king size bed!!!!

Like the Monaco, the Entegra coach is also a class A diesel pusher. What’s a Class A you might wonder or a diesel pusher… well, constructed on either a commercial truck chassis, a specially designed motor vehicle chassis, or a commercial bus chassis, a Class A motorhome resembles a bus in design and has a flat or vertical front end and large windows.

The Entegra is built on a Spartan Chassis which is considered to be the top of the line in big-ass RV’s. According to the Spartan website “Everything Rides on the Ride Chassis”. Guess that is considered catchy marketing in the truck world! They also claim that “At the bottom of it all is the Spartan chassis, American-made from the finest materials and engineered to give your luxury RV a safe, smooth, and reliable ride. Spartan makes steering, traversing changing terrain, and parking as easy and welcoming as a friendly campground”. So, I can tell you for sure, that’s not a false claim. The first time we test drove an Entegra, with this fancy pants chassis, Wally was grinning ear to ear. Quiet, smooth and it handled no differently than our car. Well, maybe you do need to plan on braking a bit sooner when your ride is 46K lbs! Plus, this coach has a passive tag axle which the Monaco did not. The tag axle is basically a third axle having single wheels at each side that resides behind the dual wheeled drive axle. It gives more stability in the ride and helps the big-ass coach to turn easier in tight conditions. Again, this made Wally grin from ear to ear.

A diesel pusher motorhome is typically a Class A that is powered by a diesel engine mounted in the rear of the RV. Why is all that important?? Because this style of coach is made to last with a high end truck chassis and motor. The Entegra weighs in at 46,600 lbs which is 16,600 lbs heavier than the Monaco and the diesel pusher Cummins engine has high torque for climbing hills and pulling our tow vehicle. This also means a quiet ride as the engine is in the back. All a matter of preference but we opted for this model in both coach’s and went for a older model Entegra with low mileage to get all the amenities we wanted but not have huge depreciation the minute we left the lot.

In 1989, the addition of slideouts dramatically changed the RV industry because they allow a wider living area, provided that the vehicle remains completely stationary during their extension outwards. Nope, its bad form to drive down the road with your slides out. The Monaco had 2 slides on the drivers side and the Entegra has four slides, two on each side. One could argue that it is two more motorized things to go wrong but the trade off is more interior living space. LOL, we probably got an additional 160 square in the new coach.

As an avid cook, I love the spacious kitchen and additional pantry space.

A full size, residential refrigerator is also nice!!!

Like the Monaco, the Entegra is a used, older coach with low miles. We are not typically buy new people. Sure we have splurged and bought new car’s on occasion before we retired but large luxury coaches are expensive – $500K to $950K plus expensive. Not only are they expensive but honestly, everyone we know who has bought new has ended up in the shop more than we ever have… getting things fixed under warranty. Yikes, hope I didn’t just jinx us!!! Great having a warranty but not so great having major things go wrong. If you are a weekend warrior or only use your coach occasionally maybe this isn’t such an issue. Since our coach is our home 8 months out of the year, this is not ideal and we don’t want to be frequent flyers at the repair facility. Not only do you have the warranty honeymoon period with a new coach but you also have serious depreciation the minute you drive a new coach off the lot. Sadly, most anything that is motorized never appreciates. So for us, buying an older, low mileage coach meant we were able to get most all the bells and whistles without the massive price tag of a new coach – aka, we could afford it and not drain the retirement savings account!

We are the second owners of new Road House (kept the same name) and found her sitting on a consignment lot in Poulsbo Washington. Her previously owner, who purchased her new had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and she had a big scrape down the passenger side. Could be why he wasn’t driving her anymore – very sad. The coach only had 14K miles and most of the appliances still had the original stickers on them. Honestly, the entire deal was a complete pain in the arse and took over 4 months to finalize (not fans of Poulsbo RV). The upside was that we had time, negotiated the price down and got the unsightly scape fixed. We did have a complete independent engine, chassis, interior and exterior inspections done. We also bought an extended warranty that has comprehensive coverage on all of the above so we felt very confident all was well when we finally rolled out of the dealership from hell.

We have enjoyed this mobile lifestyle so much, that we decided an upgrade was in order. The Monaco was a great coach – no regrets. I actually felt bad for selling it… I know, coaches are inanimate objects so that sound irrational but she got us where we wanted to go with very little problems. There wasn’t one thing wrong with her… so why did we want an even bigger big-ass coach??

Creature comforts… that really is the bottom line! The Entegra feels like a home inside… albeit a small studio apartment. The kitchen is bigger, there is a king sized bed, we have an L shaped couch that we can both stretch out on. We also have a dishwasher and stackable washer/dyer as opposed to the all in washer/dryer unit we installed on the Monaco. I love the residential sized refrigerator with an icemaker. The downside of that unit is that it vents into the coach. In cooler weather that’s actually nice but in a warmer climate, well not so much. I also hate the freezer layout but it does have more capacity than the Monaco. Hey, this fishing family needs freezer storage for all the crab we catch!!! The list goes on and on…

A complete list of all the bells and whistles

We love the on demand hot water system, the porcelain tile floors with a heating option, the fireplace, the outdoor TV and stereo system and all the newer technology . Honestly, we love just about everything about the coach.

Adding splashes of color around our brown abode!

There are a few things however that we liked better on the Monaco. The Entegra has frameless windows which asthechically look great but they allow much less air in as only a small portion of the window actually opens upward. The Monaco had the older style framed windows which slid open and allowed way more air flow in the coach.

The lighter exterior color on the Monaco, the ability to get more air inside and the three interior Maxx Power Fans meant we rarely had to turn on the AC when the weather heats up. Not sure why the Entegra only has one fan??? The kitchen fan over the cooktop does vent outside but it isn’t nearly as powerful as the Maxx Fan so we are going to have another one installed. The Monaco was a bit brighter inside…more windows and lighter interior colors. There is a lot of brown in the Entegra but fortunately I like brown!!! There are models with lighter colored interiors but with pets I was worried that light upholstery would show all the dog slobber and pet hair.

The other options we love are the full access pull out drawers in the basement. Like the Monaco, the storage under the Entegra coach is great. We have plenty of room for big things like our Traegar BBQ, The Uni Pizza Oven and the portable refrigerator/freezer.

When we bought the Entegra, the prior owner left a treasure trove of “stuff” in the lower storage areas. Honestly, how many chairs does a dude need? Sadly, there were so many duplicates of things I wonder if the treasure trove was a result of his Alzheimer’s. I also found a huge black garbage bag in the rear clothes closet full of spices and food from 2003 – Eww, Gross. I am here to tell you that decade old mayo isn’t a pretty sight. Not sure why the consignment lot didn’t toss that entire bag? Otherwise the coach was so clean… the convention oven and stove top had never been used. Boy, I sure put an end to that quick!

All this stuff was inside the lower storage compartments.

Wally likes driving the Entegra way more… it rides and drives like a luxury car, quiet and smooth. With the additional horse power the Entegra cruises effortlessly up and down steep mountain passes and really doesn’t burn much more fuel than the Monaco did. At 9+ MPG and an 88 gallon fuel tank, we have a decent fuel range too.

Overall we are thrilled with our upgraded home on wheels. While Covid has slowed down our travels a bit, 2021 and 2022 are going to be big travel years for us. This spring our plans are taking us through Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. If the Canadian/US border opens, we plan to be in Alaska for 2 months and then on to the Beach House for 3 months. The fall will see the Road House rolling south and east with a 2 month stay in Texas on the inter-coastal water way, then on to Alabama and Louisiana. Most of the winter will be spent in Florida, then in the spring we hope to cruise to the Carolinas, Tennessee and Kentucky before heading back to Anacortes Washington for the summer. Fingers crossed!!

Farewell 2020… You Won’t Be Missed!!!

We are close to saying farewell to the year 2020, a year in which many people will not look back on fondly. It’s been called a shit show by many and rightfully so. Many people suffer great losses, many people lost their jobs, many people’s relationships suffered, many people lost their homes, many people suffered great physical illness, many people lost a loved one… heartache abounded. I feel fortunate that all I really lost was my mind at times! I feel incredible grateful to be in this place in my journey when the pandemic hit. My heart goes out to everyone out there who have suffered big losses in 2020.

Our mobile lifestyle has actually been very conducive to saying healthy, staying sane and sheltering in place. My biggest frustration has been the unknown… well, that and so many people who haven’t taken this pandemic seriously. People who don’t have the decency to wear a mask, people who refuse to be unconvinced by simply being careful for the sake of others. For us and our lifestyle, the unknown, trip planning, knowing where and when to travel have been a constant consideration. Because we travel in our home on wheels or our home on the water we have been able to be very careful and hopefully not cause any duress to others. That said, we have had to have plan A and Plan B most of 2020. My magic 8 ball wasn’t very helpful either. Questions about COVID and travel planning were usually met with either a non-commital or negative answer – GO FIGURE!!!

● It is certain.
● It is decidedly so.
● Without a doubt.
● Yes – definitely.
● You may rely on it.
● As I see it, yes.
● Most likely.
● Outlook good.
● Yes.
● Signs point to yes.
● Reply hazy, try again.
● Ask again later.
● Better not tell you now.
● Cannot predict now.
● Concentrate and ask again.
● Don’t count on it.
● My reply is no.
● My sources say no.
● Outlook not so good.
● Very doubtful.
A standard Magic 8 Ball is capable of 10 affirmative answers (●), 5 non-committal answers (●), and 5 negative answers

We definitely didn’t travel as much in 2020 despite being in our rolling home. We spent the first four months of 2020 hunkered down in Palm Springs, three weeks in Bend Oregon, four months on the boat in the San Juan Islands, five weeks in Arizona and here we are back Palm Springs under another stay at home order. That said, I still feeling really grateful to be healthy and mostly sane.

We returned to our lot at the Outdoor Resort Palm Springs in late November after a difficult time in Arizona getting my mother moved into a memory care community. Somehow the timing actually worked out, we found a great community for her and I can breathe a huge sigh of relief knowing she is safe and actually thriving there.

Not long after our return to California, the Governor issued another stay at home order. Again, our lifestyle in Palm Springs is conducive to doing this and staying sane. We have sunshine almost everyday, warm temps and literally an adult playground that sits on 137 beautifully landscaped acres with 27 holes of executive golf, 13 Pickleball courts, 10 Tennis courts, 10 hot tubs and 8 swimming pools. It’s easy to socially distance here, sitting out in the evening by our firepit with a glass of wine with another couple feels safe.

I know it sounds dreamy but like most of you I am ready for the 2020 shit show to come to a conclusion. I asked the magic 8 ball if 2021 was going to be a better year for the world and I was told that “signs point to yes”…hmm, do you think a scientist had any input on this answer???

Fingers crossed and in the meantime, I am going to try and reflect on the struggles that are real out there in the world, be grateful for each healthy day and for all of the wonderful people in my life.

Happy New Year…Wishing you all the best and two doses of vaccine in 2021!!!

Grounds Hogs Day…

We are back in Palm Springs California and nine days later we are back in full blown COVID lockdown. California’s Governor Newsom imposed this stay at home order based on hospital capacity. Regions in CA where ICU beds drop below 15% triggers the stay at home order. It’s different than the last lock down where it was at the decision of the county health officials. My heart goes out to all the healthcare workers who have been at battle with this tricky disease since last winter.

Controversial…why, yes it it. Not only is our country divided politically but somehow this pandemic has become political as well. I find it hard to believe that many US citizens still think this virus is a hoax. My uncle recently died of Covid complications, my husbands nephew is still battling with COVID after affects and his entire family has had COVID. I have to have a COVID test to visit my mother and that may be terminated soon as the virus is spiking again in Arizona…so yes, we are being careful. Nope, not getting on a plane…yep, I have friends and family I would like to see but really people…what about we all just stay home until we get a vaccine. What, that’s inconvenient… well so is dying, or causing someone else to die. We’ll see how the next 3 weeks go in California. In the mean time, I am back to online grocery shopping either by Instacart or curbside pick up, no restaurant dining, limited socializing and travel. Oh yeah… and wearing a mask. Nope, I am not scared… just trying to be considerate.

Rant over…climbing off my soapbox now!!!

We spent the first week in Palm Springs getting our furniture out of storage, setting up our lot and catching up with friends. The record heat in Palm Springs this summer took a toll on some of our landscaping but happily it all mostly survived. Before the shut down, I made a couple of trips to the garden store for a few new plants and some veggie starts. Last season I successfully grew herbs so I decided to try my luck on tomatoes, lettuce and more herbs this season.

We also hung three new photos on metal in the coach. I used National Photo Lab to have the photos transferred to metal. The 11×14 prints turned out great and really brighten up the living area in the coach.

The weather outlook here in the desert looks great for the next few weeks…mostly in the mid seventies during the day so we plan to spend a lot of time outside, playing pickle ball, walking, biking and a few local hikes.

Sedona Arizona Again!!!

The last time I wrote about Sedona was two years ago and I still think it is just as magical. The annual southern migration led us there again and it’s a darn good thing we made the reservation at Rancho Sedona RV Park two years in advance because it was booked solid the entire three weeks we were there.

After our 5 day pedal to the metal road trip from Portland Oregon, it was good to put the jacks down and stay a while. It was also really spend time with our fellow full time RV friends Joe and Sharon. It was a different time, as they lost their beautiful boxer boy Cooper last year so our boxer boy Bentley tried hard to fill the empty void. He was so excited to see them and was not shy about barging right into their coach anytime!! Cooper was a sweet boy who sure did like to hike too. Bentley is not that into it, so the last time we met up with Joe, Sharon and Cooper, Bentley loaned Cooper is hiking booties…. we sure miss that sweet boy.

On our last stay we did a lot of touring around the area … there is so much to see and do in Sedona. This stay we spent more time locally, hiking almost everyday and just living like a local! Of course we had to hit some of our favorite restaurants that had patio seating.

Like our last stay, I got to spend my birthday in the land of red rocks. Wally and I had a delicious brunch on the zen patio at the Casa Sedona Inn. Bloody Mary’s, fresh corn muffins and huevos rancheros followed by locally roasted coffee had this gal almost purring!!! Not only is the dining 5 Star at the inn, Casa Sedona was voted # 6 in the US – most romantic places.

After our leisurely brunch, we headed out to do some birding and take a long walk at the Sedona Wetlands Preserve. The preserve is actually 27 acres in a effluent management area located south of the Sedona Wastewater Treatment Facility.  I know, sounds gross at first but honestly you would have no idea as you were walking around the numerous reed lined ponds.

The ponds range from very shallow to approximately 4 feet deep to accommodate a wide range of habitat. We saw loads of scat around the ponds so I know there are more than birds hanging out there. Wetland and upland plants are located within shallow water areas and above the water line to provide habitat, attract wildlife, and control erosion. Several islands are constructed within the ponds to provide safe habitat and breeding areas for birds and other wildlife.

According to the website “In addition to effluent management goals, the wetlands also provide habitat for numerous wetland species and serve as a public park with educational and recreational opportunities including bird watching and pedestrian trail walking”. Well, they might want to actually put up some signage on 89A because if you don’t know it’s there you will drive right on by.

We did not go at the optimum birding time but still saw plenty of feathery friends and a few turtles too! Guess they don’t care about effluent management!!! Our sightings included Cedar Waxwing, Phainapepala, Scrub Jay, Barn Swallow, White Striped Sparrow, American Tree Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, American Coots, Northern Flicker, and loads of Mallards.

We also took a scenic drive along the Red Rock Loop Road and stopped to gawk at the stunning vistas along the way. Sedona is undeniably one of the most beautiful locations in the state of Arizona. The towering red sandstone rock formations that surround the town are especially stunning during the golden hours around sunset.

The Birthday fun continued, after our birding adventure we joined Joe and Sharon for happy hour with their daughter and son-in-law who were visiting from Texas. RVing is great for social distancing… we sat outside with the warm afternoon sun on our backs and a cocktail in hand!

It was a great day and I truly appreciate all my friends, near and far who reached out to wish me a Happy Birthday!

Our next two weeks flew by, hiking … more friends visiting and general relaxing in this beautiful zen country. Sedona is just one photo opportunity after another.

Sedona’s population today is around 10,000 but that number is insignificant when compared to the three million tourists that flock to the area each year. Suffice to say, because of the large amount of tourism, Sedona is off our list of possible places to live long term but we will still enjoy visiting again.

The Start of the Southern Migration

It’s time…the weather is changing…fall will quickly turn into winter in the PNW and so we begin our southern migration. Eventually we will end up in Palm Springs California at the Outdoor Resort where we own a lot. But the trip in between will be filled with visiting family and friends.

We left Anacortes with heavy fog bidding us farewell. Our destination, Portland Oregon where we planned to spend 5 nights at Pheasant Ridge RV Park in Wilsonville. Those five days were spent catching up with our long time Portland friends and family. We were well fed…really well fed!!! That’s one common thread with all our friends…they are all amazing cooks, one actually being a Cordon Blue trained chef and they all like good food and wine. We managed to get in a few good walks to try and counter balance all the eating.

Goodbye fog…

Hello Oregon!!!

Our next five days would be back to back driving – something we normally don’t like to do but we were on a mission to get to Sedona where we would be staying for three weeks. Now, that’s civilized!!! We were super excited to be meeting up with fellow RV full timer friends Sharon and Joe there. The route we chose to Sedona would be remote state roads or highways through eastern Oregon and Nevada allowing us to avoid major interstates as long as possible. Interstates in generally suck… One would think they would be the cats meow, well paved and well traveled. Not always and the well traveled part is sometimes no fun in a big ass coach. Back roads can be a risk too but with all the internet rver info, I can totally figure out which roads to avoid. That said, I am here to tell you google maps is not always your friend in an RV. Fastest route, well that’s great except when it sends you down switchbacks with a 15% grade. Nope, don’t trust it and ALWAYS double check the route it recommends.

Leaving Portland, we headed over Mt. Hood on Hwy 26 and it was raining so no great views of the beautiful mountain. This road is great for big rigs, even with the big pass to climb. Thanks to our auxiliary braking system and cruise control, Wally’s driving stress is minimal. Hee-Hee, easy for me to say from my comfy reclining passenger seat. Hey, my job is to plan our route, navigate, look for sightseeing opportunities and good restaurants. I honestly tell myself that me driving would most likely be more stressful for Wally than him driving. That’s my story and I am sticking to it!!!

Love my reclining navigators seat!!!

Our a first night was spent near Burns Oregon…got in late, didn’t even unhitch the car or level the coach as we planned an early departure the next morning. I try to keep our drive days under 300 miles and this leg of our drive was the longest at 305 miles.

The second day was a beautiful drive with little to no traffic to Winnemuca Nevada where we stayed at the New Frontier RV Park. This RV park was in a great location and had large, level pull through sites – perfect for our one night stay. Again, we didn’t unhitch the car or level the coach.  As it turned out, a friend I know from Palm Springs was also on the way to Winnemucca and was also staying at the same RV place. Small world right? Sue is an amazing photographer and I have been enjoying her Facebook posts over the summer. Of course, we had to meet for happy hour!! 

On the road again early the next morning, our third stop was in Ely Nevada where we stayed at the Ely KOA. Again convenient and very okay for one night. Good thing we wanted to unhitch the car that night because the pull through site was just long enough for the coach but would have never worked with the car attached.

I was desperate for some exercise by then and had found a state park nearby to explore, so after a late lunch, off we went to the Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park. I was intrigued by the charcoal ovens and wanted to take a look.

The 700-acre state park is a designated historic area and protects beehive-shaped charcoal ovens constructed in the latter half of the 19th century. Bonus points for having some flat hiking trails, a stream and cows to keep us company! Only saw one other couple there while we were exploring.

Our fourth day, again started early and was our last day on the awesome Nevada State Roads. The remote back roads gave way to the interstate near Las Vegas where we found ourselves back in traffic. EWWW DAVID!!!  Our destination for the night was Boulder City, where we stayed at the Lake Mead RV Village. I popped for a lake view site and it was worth the few extra dollars. This was the only stop along the way that I actually wished we had a few more days to explore. 

Lake Mead is huge but we only saw a small amount of it on this quick stopover.

Hoover Dam was closed to tourism but we had a great time at Hemenway Park in Boulder City. It was a Trip Advisor recommendation and boasted Big Horn Sheep that made frequent appearances. I was skeptical as we pulled in as it was in a fairly developed area but was quickly delighted to see a big herd of smelly sheep grazing happily on the luscious green park grass. Seriously, these sheep are no dummies…the area just outside the Park looked dry and barren. Not only were there sheep but sheep with a view. SCORE!!!

We also took a drive to the tiny historical downtown Boulder City where we enjoyed all the old neon signs and found an awesome brewpub with outdoor patio seating. The Road House tour guide had also scoped out a highly rated BBQ joint where we got take out and enjoyed a simple meal back at the RV Village overlooking the lake. Overall, the highlight so far of our pedal to the metal road trip.

The next morning we were up early again (okay don’t go getting all impressed… 7 am isn’t that early to some folks). For what ever reason, Sucia Kitty went on strike and hid under the couch. Apparently she doesn’t appreciate moving everyday either or getting up early!!! I had to use a broom to get her out… (not appreciated either) but managed to get her in her travel crate without much fuss. She is a bit of a timid kitty, so we always put her in a spacious travel crate with a litter pan when we are on the road. She is usually quite content to be in there and often just puts herself in it on mornings when she knows we are traveling. 

Our last leg of the trip was honestly the most stressful, kitty under the couch, a weird (am I going to Heaven) tunnel just out of the Lake Mead area, heavy traffic with road construction in Las Vegas, CRAPPY roads on I17 in AZ and more crappy traffic and road construction in Sedona. The final fun part was navigating five roundabouts in Sedona with the last one pushing us into some super tight areas where I almost had to get out and move the road construction signs. Traffic was backed up and we crawled along on 89a but finally made it to Rancho Sedona where we would put down the jacks, level up the coach and unhitch the car for three weeks – YAY!!!

Am I seeing the light????

Off to a weird, winding start just outside Lake Mead!!

We were all worn slick (a favorite Oklahoma saying I learned from my friend Joe) when we arrived at the Rancho Sedona RV Park but after lunch we rallied and later had a wonderful dinner and evening, sitting outside under the stars catching up with Joe and Sharon. Seems the Sedona vortex can heal even the most stressful drive days!!! 

Yep, worn slick!!!

Our Social Distancing Summer

Who would have thunk that there would be a pandemic when we planned for our nomadic lifestyle. The buzz words “social distancing” had never been uttered, the concept of staying 6 feet away from other people and wearing a mask – utterly silly. Fast forward to the hell year known as 2020…never imagined our nomadic lifestyle would actually become the envy of people who found themselves locked in there homes, afraid to travel or venture out of their safe bubble. Ironically, RV’s and boats have sold at record pace this year as many people sought a way to stay safe while getting out and seeing the US. It’s not like the rest of the world is welcoming US travelers …okay, and with good reason. But I won’t digress into a political rant at this point!!!

We easily transition onto the boat from the coach, continuing our newly learned social distancing skills and honestly had a great summer in the San Juan Islands. This year we used our marina in Anacortes as base camp so no big provisioning like prior years. Anacortes felt super safe…all summer events (no stupid Sturgis like events were allowed to happen) were cancelled so tourism was much lower than normal. People in Anacortes were diligent about wearing masks and we frequented several restaurants that had outdoor dining. 

Our first outing of the season was buddy boating with our friends Kristen and John. We had great weather and had fun showing them some of our favorite anchorages and marinas in the San Juans.

Our big boat project this year was the flybridge remodel, which I must say turned out great. All new seating, a second helm chair, new carpet and vinyl covers for all the storage areas. The biggest chore was getting the old, heavy wood based furniture off the flybridge. This was made way easier by hiring two young, energetic dudes to assist Wally who mainly just had to oversee them. Anymore, we write checks for anything that will require us to go to the chiropractor more than once!

Of course there were the unexpected repairs …it’s a boat! Luckily, none of them cost a boat unit this time, just a bit of frustration and sweat equity. Yep, that is one of our macerator toilets in the picture below …on the dock … getting a huge clog removed. This may be way too much information but never flush a macerator toilet when your water pump is turned off – oops poops!!! We also had a window break mysteriously in the galley but luckily we were not underway.

Staying in the San Juans (not by choice) meant we could host more guests and spend more time with local boating friends. Not sure if it is our age or ??? but our friends have been uber careful as well and we all felt comfortable spending time together.  

Oysters and clams at the Wescott Bay Shell Fish Farm.
Big crab feed with friends Darryl and Randy from Manzanita Oregon.

Out on the water we had several floating happy hours with friends. Sometimes rafted to the back of our boat and some days rafted to other friends boats – how’s that for proper distancing! The San Juans are full of great places to hike and with the kayaks we could get plenty of exercise. Despite the exercise,  I am pretty sure I still may have consumed more calories at happy hour than I expended on shore. 

Wally tried paddle boarding for the first time…we may need to add a new toy to the
Beach House!

June was a bit gloomy but in July the weather turned 100% San Juan Summer. We had a great time boating with a group of friends from Anacortes and crabbing with long-time boating friends from Portland. I added some serious amounts of sea glass to my collection from Sucia and Patos Islands. I also added a new favorite cocktail to the rotation – (thanks Ted and Marsha).

Kraken rum and ginger beer… ridiculously delicious.

We had a staycation with our friends Steve and Donna who came up from Portland in August. The gale force winds kept us in port for most of their stay but we had a great time anyway. Before the windstorm descended, we got in a day cruise around Lummi Island and lunched on the hook at Eagle Harbor. A big drama unfolded as we all took a walk, in the wind, from our marina over to the point by the port marina, Cap Sante. What we saw, were huge waves tossing boats like corks in Fildalgo Bay and two boats washed up on the breakwater rocks.

We were all mesmerized so we stopped back later in the day to see how the rescues were going. That was when we met the owner of the partially submerged powerboat…His boat was a total loss and was signed over to a salvage company who eventually got it off the rocks outside the break water entrance of Cap Sante Marina. He was devastated as he loved that boat and had worked so hard to buy it. Luckily, the sailboat (which ironically, was his father-in-laws boat) was rescued. I think the keel saved it from sinking as it got lodged into the breakwater rock wall, keeping it mostly upright.

The calm after the storm…

Stuart island has been a long time favorite and this year we spent several days with friends Howard and Susan who own a home on the island. The Beach House was tied up to their mooring buoy in the bay which is just below their house. The views are stunning from both their deck and from the water. We enjoyed dinner al fresco on their deck one evening and had a huge crab feed on the boat one night – no surprise right!! But the real treat was the “mule” tour of their end of the island. We piled into the mule – aka an ATV and Howard motored us all around on the rustic roads. Stuart Island is only assessable by private boat or small airplane so it was great fun to actually see the island from land. There are no stores, no electricity (homes have solar and/or generator power) and all water is via a private well.

Our last big hurrah was a week long buddy boat cruise in the smoke/fog/smog with friends Caety and Frank from Wyoming. Our mutual friend Jane was onboard the Beach House and it happened to be her birthday trip – can you say Jell-O shots!!!. Caety and Frank brought loads of food from their ranch and garden so boy, did we eat well. It was a bit of a surreal week as smoke from the Washington and Oregon wildfires blew into the islands. The combination of marine fog and smoke had us running the boats on radar when were were cruising from island to island. It did not stop us from crabbing and the guys dropped some lines for salmon too. The girls did a day trip in our boston whaler to Roche Harbor where we toured the sculpture garden.

The pets had a pretty darn good summer too. Crab is Sucia’s favorite food and she was always the first one at the table for a crab feed. She’s gotten to be such a PIA that we have had to lock her in our stateroom during dinner when we have friends onboard and are serving crab. Bad kitty….

Yep, she’s waiting…

Our 4 months in Anacortes flew by, in late September we had the Beach House hauled out for maintenance and we moved onto the Road House. Our last two weeks in Anacortes were spend closing up the boat for the winter, getting the coach ready to roll, doing routine doctors visits and yes, some happy hours and dinners with friends. We also got in a bit of local crabbing too before we pulled the boston whaler out for the winter. 

Despite COVID, summer 2020 was pretty darn enjoyable!!! Sedona, here we come…

Okay, a few more of my favorite pictures…

Pop Goes the Window…

On a boat there are always planned projects like our recent flybridge remodel. Unfortunately, there seems to always be some sort of unplanned project too. Sometimes, they are major… like our recent galley window replacement.

The weird thing about this unplanned project was how the window actually broke. I mean all we were doing was drinking wine and playing cards with friends in the salon…its not like it was some wild party with dancing on the counter tops. Yep, that ship has sailed!!!

Then pop…a really loud pop… it sounded a bit like a shot was fired. I got off the counter, oops I mean I got up from the salon table and took a look around. Just in time to see the galley window cracking and see some glass on the countertop. Did a bird hit the window…nope. Well, what the hell???

It was sickly fascinating to watch the glass crack into this mosaic.

Not long before the big pop, I was in the galley prepping salmon for dinner and making a lemon, garlic yogurt sauce. So glad the glass didn’t end up all over my beautiful moroccan spiced salmon fillets.

All we can figure is that holes around the the slider latch got stressed and just gave way. Not wanting to slow down the raging party, Wally knocked all the fractured safety glass out, found some plastic, duct tape and patched the gaping whole that was the window up for the night.

The area where there is no glass is where the slider latch holes used to be.

The good news is that we were at our dock in Anacortes and not out on the water somewhere or underway. The other good news is that we actually had a spare window and frame(s) in our storage unit. I know, who the heck has a spare window and frame for the one window that mysterious blows out??? Well, thanks to the prior owner of the boat, we have all kinds of one off spare for the Beach House.

We had a local glass guy with boat experience come by with hopes it would be a simple glass replacement. Nope, of course not, it’s a boat. After taking look at the project, Mark from Quality Glass counseled Wally to replace the entire window and frame with the spare which was in great shape. He unfortunately couldn’t get to it for over a week so Mr. Handy Pants got out his tools and got to work.

Getting the screws out of the frame and taking the trim pieces off was a snap. But then the frustrating fun began, lots of tapping and pounding with a rubber mallet and putty knife ensued. Seems boat window frames are really well bonded in. The sound of the frame coming out of the fiberglass was a bit terrifying. According to Mr. Handy Pants, he was terrified periodically thru out the whole removal.

No spices were harmed during this unplanned project.

Several trips to the hardware store to get a new tool and then to West Marine to get some anti-bonding spray. Seriously, who know anti-bond spray was actually a thing. Guess Wally did and this miracle spray loosened up all the remaining bond That was left on the fiberglass so he could scrape the area clean.

At this point, I was really glad I married a handy guy and really glad I wasn’t expected to help. I chose to stay out of the way and just chime in occasionally with words of encouragement. I also learned about another magic product called Sikaflex. When Wally told me he need more Sikaflex, I got the giggles thinking maybe it was a wonder drug like the ones you hear about on TV. I had images of a couple sitting in bathtubs, holding hands as the sun goes down.

Turns out, I was way off base…Sikaflex is a fast cure adhesive/sealant – LOL!!!

Open air window …not a great concept for a boat!

Not sure if if would have been a 2 1/2 day project for Mark, but is sure was for Wally. Of course Marks bill would have been at least a boat unit (Boat stands for break out another thousand) and Mr. Handy Pants works for good food and wine, all of which I was happy to supply.

I disappeared for most of the afternoon today and came back to a swanky new window frame complete with glass in both sides. Being the good assistant that I am, wine was poured and the unplanned project completion was celebrated!

YAY… solid glass and a functional latch.

Green Bean, Potato and Egg Salad with Goat Cheese Dressing was served with a huge mound of fresh, Steamed Crab, Garlicky Focaccia Bread and a bottle of 2018 Domaine Gerbeaux Macon Villages Chardonnay.

Buddy Boating….

Wally and I have cruised solo to some very isolated areas. We have enjoyed every minute of exploring these new areas and the peaceful, quiet anchorages. #our38ftliferocks, #our38ftlife

Beach House anchored near Greenway Sound in the Broughton Islands.

We also really enjoy cruising with friends and “buddy boating”. Our first cruise of the summer was with friends, Kristen and John who chartered a 36 foot motor yacht out of Anacortes. They had never operated a boat that large so we were totally up for the challenge of helping John learn how to handle a big boat and showing them the San Juan Islands.

The Scaparre

To charter a boat with out a licensed captain means that you need to have experience in a similar boat, understand the rules of the road, navigation and how to operate a big, heavy floating object with no brakes! Yep, there is a test and basically you have to be able to get the boat out of the slip, out of the marina and back in again, then dock the boat back in the slip. Ideally you don’t hit anything…yep, that will get you a big F. Sounds pretty straight forward right??? Well, toss in winds and currents and things can get hinky really fast.

John did great on his two training cruises with us on the Beach House. Wally ran him thru the paces, did some docking at a nearby marina with big open slips and took him to the marina that the charter boat was moored at. Once there he practiced maneuvering in and out of their breakwater.

Anacortes Marina…the breakwater exit (Gar left corner) is a tricky 90 degree turn. Remember, no brakes, wind and current…HINKY!!!

Ready, set, go…Saturday was D Day! I was a nervous wreck, hoping the wind didn’t pick up, hoping our training sessions were enough, hoping everything went well during the check out cruise. Like proud parents, we knew he would do just fine (but I was still a nervous wreck) and of course he aced his check out test. Now it was a mad rush for them to load the boat and get out on the water. We had plans to meet them outside our marina which is on the other side of Anacortes.

It was so exciting to get their text that they were underway and to see them out on the Guemes Channel headed our way. The sky was dark and a bit foreboding but that certainly didn’t dampen our enthusiasm to hit the marine highway.

Part of the fun of buddy boating is sharing meals and trip planning. Kristen and I planned menus and divided dinners, then shopped together to provision both boats. Since we live aboard all summer, our floating pantry is usually pretty well stocked which makes buddy boating easier too. Forgot something? Good chances are one of your buddy boats will have it.

I had put together a loose itinerary which included some of our favorite anchorages and a marina stop.

Our cruise route around the islands…

Weather and wind sometime dictate where we go and on this trip we mostly had ideal weather. We did make a few adjustments…especially when I found out our favorite seafood farm wasn’t open until Tuesday. I know, tough life right!!! But hey, fresh oysters, mussels and clams were part of the menu plan.

Our first night was spent anchored in Hunter Bay which is on the south end of Lopez Island. The Beach House was the anchored boat with Scaparre rafted to us. Rafting is essentially when one boat ties off the other. Typically, the heaviest boat anchors and in our case that was true plus we have years of experience anchoring. Anchoring can be tricky and is definitely a learned skill.

We had a relaxing evening In Hunter Bay after a stressful but exciting day. There was definitely some wine consumed and an easy dinner of pulled pork tacos, black beans and slaw on the Beach House was enjoyed by by all.

After a slow, relaxed morning we pulled anchor Sunday and cruised about 2.5 hours to Stuart Island where we found a great anchorage in Reid Harbor. Stuart Island Marine State Park is one of our favorites, with two great harbors for boaters, docks, mooring buoys and hiking. The rest of this 2.8 sq mi island which is only assessable by private boat or private plane is home to two communities of full and part-time residents, a state park, a one-room schoolhouse, and two airstrips. At the northern end is a beautifully restored light house which is 6.2 mile hike from the marine park.

The highlight of our two night stay there was watching a pair of Osprey’s fledge their chick. Those parents weren’t messing around either….despite juniors squawking and numerous attempts to get back in the nest, they had him flying like a champ by the end of the day.

Not only did we see ospreys, there were numerous eagle sightings, otters, kingfishers and we even saw a seal thermoregulating right near us for hours.

Beach House and Scaparre on the floating dock in Reid Harbor.

Our second day in Reid Harbor, we left the Beach House tied to a floating dock and took the Scaparre for a day cruise around Stuart Island. We anchored the boat in Prevost Harbor and had lunch, then continued the cruise around the island. It seemed fitting to have John cruise through John’s passage!

On Tuesday it was time to move on to Garrison Bay which is just a short 35 minute cruise from Reid Harbor

Garrison Bay has loads of history, some great hiking trails and the Wescott Bay Shellfish Company is just around the corner. Not only did we enjoy a great oyster happy hour there, freshly harvested mussels, clams and more oysters came back to the Beach House.

Seafood Paella anyone???

Our big excitement while we were anchored in Garrison Bay was seeing two Orca whales swim into the mouth of the bay. Hell yes, we stopped our happy hour on the flybridge of the Scarparre, jumped in our dingy and flew out there to check it out. We got close enough to see them surface a few times and head out through narrow Mosquito Pass. Orca sightings are very common on the southern side of San Juan Island but we have never seen Orcas come into Garrison Bay…what a thrill!!!

After two beautiful days in Garrison Bay it was time for a “city” fix! Roche Harbor Marina is the premier marina in the San Juan Islands and no cruise is complete without a stop-over there. Normally, Roche would be bustling with summer travelers but with Covid-19, the resort and marina were unusually quiet.

During our two day visit the resort and marina were operating at 50% occupancy as part of Washington’s phase 2 reopening plan. Even at that, we found plenty to keep us busy plus we had a birthday to celebrate.

We toured the sculpture garden, took a hike out to the creepy but historical mausoleum, had lunch at the outdoor cafe, checked out the historical Haro Hotel and its beautiful gardens, had a fun BD Happy Hour on the outdoor deck at the restaurant.

Happy Birthday Wally!!! John grilled some beautiful ribeye steaks which were served with a chimichurri sauce, baked potato and grilled asparagus. Kristen made the BD Boy a meyer lemon pie for dessert.

After two days in the big city we were ready to get back to the quiet outer islands. Sucia Island was our final destination and we found a unique way to raft/tie up there. The forecast was calling for a bit of wind that would blow into the bay so instead of anchoring we decided to use the mooring cans.

Tied on the mooring cans stern to stern so we could step back and forth between the boats.

So far Captain John had conquered rafting on an anchored boat (with and without wind), tying to a floating dock, docking the boat in a busy marina, navigating Mosquito Pass, anchoring the boat for a picnic lunch and now tying to the mooring cans.

We spent our last two days at the Sucia Island State Marine Park. This 814-acre marine park with 77,700 feet of shoreline, abundant camping and moorage is a boaters dream. The main island and several smaller islands comprise the “Sucia group.” There are no services on this island and no ferry service but loads of camping areas, hiking trails and hidden coves to explore. Despite only being assessable via private boat Sucia is always busy during the summer.

We like Sucia Island so much we named our cat after our favorite play ground.
Sucia at Sucia Island June 2017.

From Sucia Island we cruised back to Anacortes. John and Kristen got to experience a “lumpy” crossing on the top side of Rosario Strait, the wind and tides were causing the lumpiness (2-3 ft standing waves) from the eastern tip of Orcas Island to Sinclair Island. That toughens up all new boaters for sure!!!

We had a fabulous 10 days with our Buddy Boat Scaparre and the crew, John, Kristen and Duchess. Looking forward to our next adventure!!!

Time Flies…

Oopsie doodle…how time flies and how lazy have my fingers been, no post, no updates, nothing… Sorry …time just got away from me but all is well here in Anacortes Washington where we spend our summers.

We spent our first week in the coach at Pioneer Trails RV Resort moving onto the Beach House. The boat is mostly equipped with kitchen equipment, bedding and household items but there always seems to be plenty to move. Cleaning out the RV fridge, freezer and pantry is always a chore. We don’t leave much clothing onboard the boat – despite the heaters and dehumidifier we have running in our absence, boat funk smell seems to permeate fabrics – EWWW David!!! I always pack all of our freshly laundered bedding in big plastic, air tight storage bags when we are gone. So, while it is a bit of a chore getting the Beach House “opened” up for the season, I am not complaining!!!

Love these blue crates for moving days!!

Then, with a day onboard we took a short 2 day shake down cruise, trying to remember how to operate the boat and all its complex systems after almost 8 months on land. The poor pets didn’t even have a chance to get settled in before the engines were fired up and off we went – tough love baby!!!

Sucia is cautiously checking out the reflections on the water. Don’t worry, we always keep the door closed when we aren’t onboard!

Bentie found his favorite place by the heater vent!!!

Good news is, we kinda sorta remembered how to run the boat, nothing serious was broken or not working. And that my friends is very good news!! We had a short cruise to James Island where we met friends who were already tied up to the state park dock there. The current at that dock is wicked and getting on the dock when it is pushing you off isn’t always smooth or pretty. Luckily we had plenty of help and despite our lack of grace, our friends still let us raft on them!!!

She’s looking good!!!
Rafted at James Island State Park with our sister boat Chardonnay.

We enjoyed our brief reintroduction to the water and then headed back to our marina to get ready for our next adventure – Buddy Boating!!! Stay tuned for that update.

The view from our slip in the marina is actually Mt. Baker and the Cascade Mountains.

Back at the marina, Wally had a project list to get cracking on cause it’s a boat. Boat stands for “Break Out Another Thousand” which honestly is true and not always that funny!!! In this case, it was more time than money. Our diesel heater needed to be serviced and Wally wanted to reroute a vent to our cockpit. YAY – heat on the back porch!!

We do get some amazing sunsets right from our slip in the marina. This is a completely untouched photo.

Our other big project for the season is a flybridge remodel. Stay tuned for more on that too!!! What is a flybridge you may be wondering???  It is an open deck on a cabin cruiser located above the bridge on the cabin roof and usually having a duplicate set of navigating equipment. In our case, the flybridge is covered with a bimini and isenglass/canvas. While we do have controls inside the cabin of the boat, we always drive Beach House from the flybridge. Why?? Because she has a long bow and visibility is much better from the flybridge. 360 degree view to be exact…you would be surprised how often we have to dodge floating logs and debris in the water when we are cruising.

Yep, its does rain when we are out on the boat. This photo was taken from the flybridge looking out over the bow of the boat. This why our flybridge is completely enclosed!

It’s great to be back in our sleepy little Anacortes. More sleepy than usually this year thanks to COVID. Anacortes is the hub for people who want to see the San Juans Islands. Ferry are operating and things are starting to reopen but people for the most part, are being cautious. The city has also been very cautious and cancelled all the big summer events that usually drawn thousand of people to this sleepy island. Of course, there are always the Aholes, that refuse to wear a mask or openly declare it‘s all bullshit. Don’t even get me started on that topic!!!

My latest mask… thanks Kristen. Perhaps my next mask should read – “Be considerate you AHOLE”!!!