Another Great Day at the Balloon Fiesta

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So other than getting up at 5am again, it was a pretty amazing day at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF). Thursday morning, the wind cooperated so it was a near perfect balloon morning. All the morning events got off with out a hitch and there were so many balloons in the air it was hard to know where to look.

 

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Listening to the morning pilot’s briefing I learned why Albuquerque is the perfect place to host a balloon fiesta. So why Albuquerque you many ask?

 

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Well, turns out the wind currents and air temperature are key to the successful flying of hot air balloons, and Albuquerque has the perfect combination of these elements.

 

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The “Albuquerque Box” is a set of predictable wind patterns that make navigating a balloon fairly simple in ideal conditions. At lower elevations in the Rio Grande Valley, where the city sits, the winds are southerly. At higher elevations, the winds are northerly. So balloon pilots can launch their craft from Balloon Fiesta Park, drift down the Valley, catch another wind current and drift back north and land near the place they started. That doesn’t happen everyday but it did today and we saw many of the balloons come back and land in the Fiesta Park…heck, some were right near our coaches.

 

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The city’s cool morning temperatures also make it easier to fly a balloon; the balloons rise faster in cool air. According to the National Weather Service, Albuquerque’s wind pattern and temperatures are balloon-perfect in October. Yep, it was cool on Thursday morning but hats, gloves and a down coat did the trick.

 

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My favorite event on Thursday morning was the Special Shape Rodeo…seriously, everyone around us was grinning like a kid as we were all surrounded by 92 huge balloons shaped like Yoda, Van Gogh, Darth Vader, Simba, The Lion King, pirates, dogs, cats zebras, a giant boot, penguins and so many more crazy looking creations.

 

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After spending the morning on the field, I was ready for a cup of tea and a bite of something. We headed back to the coach where I was able to watch most of the Competition Balloon Flying right out our giant front window in the warm comfort of the coach. Somehow, we were lucky to be parked in the front row looking right over the fiesta balloon field.

 

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I took this photo right from the inside of the coach looking out our front window

 

 

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Thursday was the first day that there were events going in both the morning and evening. We were excited about the evening Special Shapes Glowdeo but unfortunately, the wind kept that event from happening. Dang wind was just to gusty to make inflating the large, special shaped balloons doable. The major sponsor for this two week extravaganza is Canon and their team of ace balloon pilots tried their best to get the Canon Balloon inflated but in the end it was a no go.

 

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The fireworks did however go off as planned and were right over the balloon field. All we had to do was step outside the coach to our outdoor seating area to watch the amazing 25 minute fireworks show right over head. All in all a great day with so many ways to be awed and amazed.

 

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Frankly, this is why you want to come to the fiesta for 4-5 days…Mother nature works on her own schedule. We will get up early again on Friday to be on the field for another full day of balloon fiesta events and hopefully Mother Nature will cooperate.

 

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WOW, WOW AND MORE WOW…

 

I can’t even begin to describe the awe and wonder that seems to happen to people when they attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Dawn Patrol. So many smiling faces so early in the morning! Pinch me…I am one of those people!!!

 

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Our alarm awoke us at 5 am, which by my standards is just an indecent hour to be awake. That said, today I was eager to get up and get going. We were down on the balloon field before 6 am trying to figure out what the heck was going to happen. The program for the day gives an hourly breakout of events but having never been to AIBF we didn’t know what to expect.

 

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We wandered around the massive balloon field and ended up at the pilots briefing. We found out the morning event was a go – yay!!! Weather, especially the wind dictates a go-no- go event. We learned that wind over 15 mph usually means that the balloons won’t fly – it is just to dangerous. The Sunday prior it was 25-30 MPH all day so all the balloon events were cancelled which would be a big bummer if it was the only day you could have attended.

 

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The Dawn Patrol got started a bit late, but by 6:30 am balloons were inflating and by 7 am they were taking flight. WOW…WOW…WOW…it is so cool to stand right by the balloons while they are inflating and launching. Seeing the fully inflated balloons floating through the sky, burners firing in the dark is just magical.

 

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After the Dawn Patrol was in the air and it was daylight, hundreds more balloons got ready to inflate and launch. There are “zebras” on the field which are actually people dressed in an black and white striped shirts that coordinate each balloons launch so that they don’t all crash into each other.

 

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So many shapes and sizes

 

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I now have proof that pigs can fly!!

 

Rather than explain what each event is about in this and upcoming posts, I will provide you with links in each post to follow so you can read the details if you are interested (just click on the highlighted text to follow a link). Hence to say, I hope the pictures will awe and inspired you to put the International Balloon Fiesta on your bucket list.

 

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The balloons look amazing at every angle!

 

 

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A Beautiful Bounty and a Great Big Burger!!!

Since we left Kennewick Washington the Road House has rolled through Oregon, Idaho and into Utah. The landscape is dotted with fall foliage and we are now cruising in Utah red rock country.

We love 300 mile days and try not to push ourselves much harder than that. Although, we have made exceptions and put the petal to the metal more than once to get to some fabulous wineries!

The last two overnight stops have been too easy, just off the highway RV parks.  We spent one night in rural Caldwell Idaho at the Country Corners RV Park. I had planned a simple dinner of Picante Black Bean Soup with a Spicy Hatch Green Chili Slaw and Corn Bread so we could relax once we arrived (check out the Epicurious page for the recipe) I also knew there was really nothing around that area to do!

 

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The shady picnic area would be a great place to hang out on a hot summer day.

 

The owners at Country Corners RV Park are super nice and invited us to take a walk to the garden and help ourselves. That was an invite I immediately took up after we got all settled in our site.

 

 

 

The grounds around the RV park have started to show off their fall colors. The garden itself is still producing a bounty of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, melons and pumpkins. The corn had all been harvested but we left with our pockets and bag full…what a bounty. The overnight site only cost $37 and I think the veggies alone were worth that much.

 

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There were sooooo many ripe tomatoes that I could have picked for hours.

 

The following morning we rolled through the rest of mostly flat Idaho farm land that I84 travels along. I will say the area around Twin Falls is just stunning, especially when the Snake River Canyon comes into view. We had an unexpected layover last year in Twin Falls and really enjoyed touring around the area despite our RV woes.

 

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There is a lot to see and to in the Exploring the Snake River Caynon area.

 

Our stopover on Friday night was in Brigham City Utah at the Golden Spike RV Park. This small, family owner park is another place we have stayed before and also has easy access on and off the interstate.

On the counter when I checked in was a big basket of TOMATOES!!! Sandy told me to take as many as I wanted…turns out they have a small but productive tomato garden. Couldn’t refuse a few of her gorgeous heirlooms – SCORE bounty number two!!

 

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I already ate the beauty on the left. It was perfectly ripe…so good with some salt and a drizzle of olive oil.

 

After getting settled in site 3 and taking Bentley out for some exercise, I had high hopes of visiting the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge where we could get some exercise. The short 1.5 mile walking trail meanders through the wetland habitat just outside the visitors center.  Alas, we arrived to late, the visitor center was closed and the gates all locked. We considered driving the 12-mile Auto Tour Loop that is open everyday from sunrise to sunset but we were both starving so off to Brigham City we went.

The downtown historical area is very quaint and very walkable so we got in a few steps that way. This is Utah, so that means that every town has a very picturesque Mormon Tabernacle.

Brigham City is no exception and for such a small town we were surprised that they had two. The older tabernacle was built in 1865 and is set on a beautiful square at the edge of the historical district.

 

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Just across the street is the newer Brigham City Utah Temple which was completed in 2012. The evening light made for some beautiful photography.

 

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Love the warm glow shining through the stain glass.

 

By now, we were really jonesing to visit the Peach City Diner. This cool, old diner has been around since 1937, thanks to Bill Harris who had a dream of owning an original malt shop and branding his family recipes. We love funky, old diners and by the crowd that was here last night it seems there are lots of other folks who also can’t resist the lure of handmade ice cream, a big fresh burger and sweet potato fries!!

 

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I think the doggie was headed in to order the Big Joe Bacon Cheeseburger too!!

 

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The food was great and the milkshakes were huge so they are now in the Road House freezer, waiting to make a reappearance…maybe tonight!

 

 

 

 

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Of course I had the peach milkshake.

 

Curious about the name Peach City and thanks to Google, I learned that there is a stretch of U.S. 89 from Brigham City to Willard that has become known as “Fruit Way” because of the many seasonal produce stands that line the road. Baskets full of peaches in several varieties stock their tables right now, along with pears, onions, squash, peppers and even ruby-red popcorn kernels. Shoot, wish I had know that earlier so we could have stopped at one of the local fruit stands.

Turns out this area of Utah has a bounty of things to offer so if you are ever traveling Highway 15 be sure to add Brigham City to your list of places to slow down and explore.

 

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Those Damned Frogs…

Our first day back on the road went smoothly…an easy 254 mile drive from Anacortes Washington to Kennewick Washington. We pulled into the Columbia Sun RV Resort around 3:30 pm, got set up in a nice big pull through site, ran some errands then headed out for dinner at J. Bookwalter Winery.

 

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The sites are huge with plenty of space between RV’s.

 

Our only bit of excitement was the Frog Balls incident…Our large front slide pulls in over the pantry and somehow in transit a door popped open and some Frog Balls escaped. Luckily I noticed that the slide wasn’t retracting quite right and stopped before it pulled the pantry door completely off the hinges and jammed up the slide forever.

 

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A window with a view…

 

Damned Frog Balls…I really don’t even like them and have been carrying them around for over a year, meaning to foist them off on someone at a happy hour. Hmm, I am for sure getting rid of them of them at a Balloon Fiesta happy hour!!!

Okay, so they are not real frog balls…they are pickled brussel sprouts which sound okay in theory but they are kinda mushy and sour – yuck.

Anyway, the damn jar fell out of the partially open cabinet door and wedged perfectly in the narrow area between the slide wall and the cabinet.  Wally, being Mr Smartie, figured out that if he took off the undamaged pantry door he could reach in and get the nasty frog balls. Disaster averted, slide went out and Mr. Smartie fixed the door…wife of smartie was chastised for using storage bins that were too big and put pressure on the door – damned frogs balls anyway!!!

 

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The view through the window down to the source of the problem.

 

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Stupid Frog Balls…I guess I should be grateful that the jar didn’t break and spill its nasty sour juice everywhere.

 

On the upside, The Columbia Sun RV Resort is a beautiful park, 145 big sites on 25 nicely landscaped acres with a long list of amenities such as a heated swimming pool, hot tub, exercise room, off leash dog parks, frisbee golf, pickle ball courts, laundry facilities and a store. Plenty of room for big rigs too.

 

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Not only is the park spotless and well maintained, the staff is very friendly and provide you with a personal escort to your site. Nice touch!

 

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While we were just passing through the area, there are plenty of reasons to make this area a destination visit and stay for a week…or more. Wineries…lots and lots of great wineries, 10 golf courses, fishing on the Columbia River and miles of paved trails for biking or walking. Had we not had a series of medical appointments and boat repairs to coordinate, we would have left at least two weeks earlier and spent more time meandering through this beautiful area.

Since we had limited time to explore, we headed over to J.Bookwalter Winery for dinner at their Fiction Restaurant. Happy Hour is the dealsky here but thanks to the Frogs Balls (which I dislike even more now) we didn’t make happy hour and got to pay full price for dinner and wine….wahhhh!

The food was good and we went casual… splitting a harvest salad, Wally had the house made fennel sausage pizza and I had the waygu beef tacos. We opted for a 6 oz pour of Syrah and Malbec which were very tasty but at $14 each I would say J.Bookwater thinks quite highly of their wines!

 

 

With so much to do in this area we left wishing we had a few more days to relax and explore. Note to self, always stay longer in any wine country area and DON’T buy any pickled vegetables with snappy names!!!

 

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The Road House is Rolling….

Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” is blasting in the coach as we are rolling down the highway. The next five days will be drive days…Kennewick WA, Boise ID, Brigham City, UT, Moab UT and Gallup NM are our planned overnight stops. Monday the 8th we will roll into the Balloon Festival Grounds in Albuquerque NM where we plan to meet up with friends at The Monaco International RV Group site. Bucket list event…can’t wait!
Today we were a bit slow getting out of Anacortes, taking our time to double-check everything on the coach and the car since it has been about 4 months since we (okay, Wally) has been behind the wheel. After fueling and weighing the coach at a local weigh station, we finally got on I5 around 10 am.

 

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We had a great stay at Fildalgo Bay RV Resort …great view out our front window of Padilla Bay and Mt. Baker.

 

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We had one last crab feed before leaving Anacortes. Thanks Ted and Marsha for the fresh steamed and oh, so delicious crabbies.

The left side rear side of the coach is heavier than the right side by almost 1,000 lbs so we will have to do a bit of repacking in Kennewick. Hmm, could it be that pesky wine again??? Having the weight distributed evenly makes the coach handle better and also prevents overload wear and tear on the tires.
It is nice day to be driving across Western Washington and it feels great to be “On the Road Again! Good Bye for now Anacortes…see you next spring!

 

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Headed over Snoqualmie Pass…yep, there is a bit of snow on that peak.

 

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Bolting to Portland…

After almost two years of being retired it has finally sunk in that I can actually do what I want when I want…well, within reason, right?

Last week, I was thinking about a girlfriend in Portland as I knew her birthday was on the horizon and wondered what she was doing. We have spent many of her birthdays with a group of her gal pals, doing fun road trips, hiking in the back country of Yellowstone, whale watching in the San Juan Islands, the list goes on and on.

 

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We started texting back and forth and she told me her upcoming plans, I shot a text back asking the B*&ch why she didn’t invite me too??? Well, she thought I was still out on the boat…Well, I am not and I am coming to Portland for your birthday, so there! Fine, she texted back…get your ass down here.

 

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Misty was glad to see me when I arrived in Portland!!!

 

Here is when the bolt of lightning struck me again… I can do that!!! We aren’t planning to leave Anacortes until September 26th so I should still have lots of time to play and then get the Road House ready to roll – YAY!!!

Since we only have one automobile, I decided it would not be cool to strand Wally in Anacortes and just drive to Portland. I could rent a car but the idea of driving was not very appealing so that left several options, plane, train or bus. No matter what mode of transportation I chose, it would mean some commute to get there from Anacortes. I am really partial to Amtrak but from Anacortes, it was going to be a real pain once I got to Seattle. All the direct trains were already booked so I would have to take a bus to another train station. No direct flights from nearby Bellingham and I would have to take a shuttle from Anacortes to Seattle to get a direct flight. After some research, I decided that taking the BoltBus from Bellingham would be the easiest and least expensive way to get to Portland plus I know lots of Portland Peeps who love the BoltBus so I decided to go for it.

 

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What is BoltBus you might wonder…
According to Wikipedia, BoltBus is a premium brand of service that was launched in 2008 offering safe, non-stop, premium level bus transportation with fares as low as $1 between New York, NY and Washington, DC, Philadelphia, PA, Cherry Hill, NJ and Boston, MA. In 2012, Boltbus expanded its operations to the West Coast with service between Portland, OR, Seattle, WA Bellingham, WA and Vancouver, BC. Turns out, BoltBus is exclusively owned and operated by Greyhound Lines, which surprised me as I have always thought of GreyHound in a not so positive light.

Turns out is was quite relaxing to Bolt: get on, plug in the devices, surf (the bus has wifi), read, just zen out or eavesdrop on other people (which of course I would never do). We did stop in Seattle briefly to let passengers on or off but otherwise it was a direct 6 hour cruise…not bad for $28.50 each way! Just a word of warning, don’t sit in the back of the bus near the restroom…not sure why I thought that was a good idea on the way to Portland.

 

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Lake Union from the window of the bus.

 

Once I got into Portland, it was nonstop fun! Sushi at Yoko’s, a visit to the Lake Oswego Farmers Market, wine tasting in the Columbia River Gorge, BBQ’s at friends, lunch dates, shopping, girl gab, dinner dates, walks along the Willamette River.

 

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The produce at the Lake Oswego Farmers Market was absolutely beautiful.

 

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The wine tasting experience at Analemma is top notch. The area around Mosier Oregon is just gorgeous too.

 

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Love the modern architecture at Cor Cellars. We opted to sit on the other side of the building in adirondack chairs looking right out at Mt Hood.

 

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The whole area around Lyle, Washington is so picturesque and the wines being produced at Cor Cellars are definitely cellar worthy.

 

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Loved the all female wine making team at AniChi…its funky, fun and delicious. The views across the gorge are drop dead gorgeous. 

 

 

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Drinks and food are great here…most dishes are cooked in the huge wood fired oven.

 

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This is one of the oldest still-standing firehouses in Portland, having been built in 1905.  It operated as Station 29 until the 1950s, and was used in a variety of ways until becoming a restaurant in 2008.

 

My five days went way too fast, there were so many friends I didn’t have time to see and soon I was Bolting back to Anacortes replete with a glow that only time with good friends can induce.

Hanging at the Dock

Well, here we are back in Anacortes Washington after a grand summer adventure. We sure did enjoy ourselves despite our rough start. Over 125 hours spent motoring, over 800 gallons of fuel burned, 4 major straits crossed, dozens of rapids traversed and so many beautiful sunsets logged! EPIC…well, yes it really was.

In case you were wondering, we did not run out of food or beverages. The pets had plenty of chow and the freezers still have enough in them for another four week cruise. I may have over packed the galley but we sure did eat well, especially with the addition of all the fresh seafood  that we harvested.

Who knew having such an epic summer would be so exhausting. We came back a bit weary and it has been great to simply just hang out in the marina, catch up with friends, walk the local trails with no fear of bears, get fresh veggies at the local farmers market and walk 5 blocks to a plethora of great restaurants where they do the dishes too!!!

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So what’s next??? Well, we are trying to sort out what needs to be fixed on the boat as a result of the water in the engine room. The only thing that really quit working during our cruise was the water maker and luckily we didn’t have any issues getting fresh, potable water up north. Since we took on water, the starboard transmission has gotten much louder than the port when it is engaged and will need repaired. Most of the other things that will need repairing or replacement are all part of mitigating potential future issues.

Thankfully, none of these issues prevented us from continuing our cruise up north but the long-term effects of salt water on moving parts isn’t rosy.  The good news is that thanks to our awesome local experts and great insurance coverage, the Beach House will be as good as new by the next cruising season.

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Fixing the anchor windlass with superior cat supervision.

The Road House sat pretty over the summer… all covered up, hooked to electricity with vent fans running and batteries being charged. The engine started and ran great as did the generator when Wally did his first inspection.

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All uncovered and read to roll.

After engine oil and fuel filter changes at the local Caterpillar Engine dealer, the Road House is now at the Freightliner in Burlington getting her chassis lubricated and the brakes inspected.

So, we will close down the summer home and open up the winter home! Then it’s time to hit the road. We seem to be drawn back to New Mexico again this fall… I am starting to wonder if we are destined to live there some day. Actually, the draw this fall is the Albuquerque Balloon Festival which has been on my bucket list for some time. From there we will head to Sedona AZ to meet fellow RV friends and celebrate birthdays with some other friends.

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Balloons as far as the eyes can see… so EXCITED to be attending!!!

Eventually, we will roll into the Outdoor Resort Palm Springs where we will spend the winter. We stayed there for part of last winter and loved this community of RVer’s and the resort so much that we bought a lot there.

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The Road House will be sitting right here!!!
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Looking forward to enjoying our morning coffee in the sun.

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Our winter back yard.

But for the next few weeks, its projects on the boat and rv, washing all the boat bedding, cleaning carpets, getting medical check-ups for us and the pets all done. Nope, in case you were wondering, it’s not all fun and games for us. What’s that saying “ you gotta pay to play”.

The Lure of Crabbing

We are back in Anacortes after our summer adventures up north in the Broughton Islands and Desolation Sound. While we are starting to look forward to our fall and winter adventures on the Road House, who can resist the lure of crabbing, the balmy weather and clear blue skies. The San Juan Islands were beckoning…come play, come crab…so what were we to do??

Well, we just gave in, loaded up the crab bait, some fresh produce and off we went to one of our favorite anchorages and crabbing spots.

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WOOHOO, the anchor is set!

 

Getting the anchor set is a team effort… we don our geeky headsets, I drive the boat to the perfect anchorage spot, Wally runs the windlass anchoring device on the bow of the boat, we chatter back and forth  on our geeky headsets about the depth (don’t forget he can hear everything you didn’t mean to say out loud) and how much anchor chain we want to lay down, I back the boat down on the anchor chain, Wally tells me to back down again, we both feel the anchor grab hold, the boat snaps back, sometimes I back down again and then we REALLY feel the anchor grab and the boat snap back.

 

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Is it time to get the crab pots put down???

After that maneuver, we feel good about the world and our place in it. Engines are turned off, Sucia gets let out of her travel bag, Bentley gets a trip to the pee mat on the back of the boat and then…only then, we can get geared up for CRABBING!!!!

 

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This is what we are always hoping to have happen…beautiful mounds of steamed crab, waiting to be eaten fresh out of the steamer with a cold Corona!!!

 

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Sucia loves crab…she has been known to sit right behind you, grab your hand with her paw and drag the crab you just started to eat right over to her! I love crab too, so I can’t really blame her!!!

 

As predators and scavengers, Dungeness crabs feed upon a broad range of prey including small mollusks, crustaceans, clams, and fishes. We often use fish heads or carcasses for crab bait if we have them from previous fishing expeditions. Even though crabs are bottom feeders, best I can tell, they love chicken too. Who’da thunk…its not like they have a Chik Fil A down there to just swim through.

 

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Lately, we have been digging clams to supplement the crab bait bag. The bigger the better when it comes to clams for bait and it is actually fun to go dig them up in nearby muddy bays.

 

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Clams like mud so we go out on a low tide in areas we know are mud, look for water geysers or holes , the dig like crazy!

 

Once all the traps are baited, we like to put our crab traps out in deep water…about 70 feet as this seems to yield the mother lode, like in the photo below! But often times the traps are also productive in shallower areas around 35 feet. Once the traps are down, we mark the location on the GPS and then the hard part comes….Waiting!!! We usually wait at least four hours before we run out in the whaler again and check the traps. Sometimes you have to sip a glass of wine or a cold beer while you patiently wait.

 

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Bentley loves crabbing too…the best part for him is getting to ride on the bow of the whaler out to pull the traps. When the traps come into the boat, he is fascinated by the crabbies but seems to know that they are best left to his man to sort out.

 

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Holy Momma Zita, that’s a shite tons of crabs in that trap!!!

 

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It’s huge…That is definitely a keeper!!!

 

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You can only keep the males and they have to be 6 1/4 inches from point to point. Yes, another big boy that was invited to the dinner party.

 

Sorting and measuring the crabs is actually a bit crazy… believe it or not they are not very friendly nor are they happy to be pulled away from the feast in the bait bag. Sometimes, they actually get really pissed and take a run at you with their claws raised. The trick is to pick them up from the back… not the front side where they can easily bloody up your fingers with those huge claws.  As you can see from the pictures below, the gender can be identified quite easily by turning them over and looking at the underside of the shell.

 

 

Back at the boat, we set up the crab cooking station, then Wally gets busy cleaning and cooking the boys. For those you who might be squeamish, I will spare you the details of how the crabs are humanely dispatched but I will tell you that we don’t boil them whole and alive like the ones you see in the grocery store sitting nicely on a bed of ice. Why you may ask? Well, number one…how uncool to throw the dudes in a pot of boiling water alive, bad karma for sure. Number two…boiling them whole literally cooks the crab meat in water, reduces the flavor and makes for a wet soggy mess later when you want to eat the crabbies.

 

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Someone is having too much fun!!!

 

We prefer to steam our humane dispatched crabs for about 20 minutes, let them cool slightly and boy oh boy, let the feasting begin!!! There is nothing more delicious than warm, freshly steamed crabs!

 

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Bentley loves crabbies too and isn’t shy about begging a bite!

 

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I often use some of the picked crab remains to make broth for paella, soups or pasta.

 

MMMM, seafood paella for dinner and the view isn’t bad either!!! I know you will find this hard to believe but I have a whole rotation of recipes that feature crab. White wine is quite often going to accompany a meal involving crab …shocking too right!!!

 

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I love making paella. It is so versatile and the ingredients can change based on what’s in the refrigerator. This seafood paella paired beautifully with a french red wine from the Languedoc region.

 

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Breakfast crab with a poached egg!

 

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Nope, not tired of crab yet!!!

 

After a hard day of crabbing, we are often treated to an amazing sunset. Sigh, now do you see why the lure of crabbing is so hard to resist???

 

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Cruising in Delightful Desolation Sound

While the name, Desolation Sound may sound less than idyllic, this truly is a beautiful part of the Canadian coastline. This deep water sound is at the northern end of the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia, Canada. Flanked by Cortes Island and West Redonda Island, it has spectacular fjords, mountains and wildlife which make it a popular boating and sea kayaking destination.

 

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Desolation Sound was inhabited by tribes of the Mainland Comox prior to the arrival of Europeans. In the summer of 1792, two expeditions led by Captains George Vancouver, Dionisio Alcalá Galiano and Cayetano Valdés y Flores arrived and cooperated in mapping the sound. Vancouver named it Desolation Sound, cryptically claiming that “there was not a single prospect that was pleasing to the eye”.

 

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Personally, I couldn’t disagree more with Captain Vancouver…but who knows, maybe he was out of grogg, had scurvy or was feeling particularly grumpy when he decided on that name. I do believe that the area would have been quite desolate and wild with some crazy areas of currents, whirlpools and rapids that would have made early explorers have sphincter palpitations.

This video is just a small tidal rapid near Dent Island Lodge. Luckily, we did not have to traverse it so it was just fun to watch from shore.

 

 

 

Thankfully, the Government of British Columbia created the Desolation Sound Provincial Marine Park in 1973, to help protect this spectacular area from over development. The marine Park area comprises over 32 sq miles and over 37 miles of shoreline. Its many beautiful inlets, islets, coves and bays attract recreational boaters like us each summer. This amazing beauty coupled with the warm summer weather brings hundred boats here to share the numerous small anchorages.

 

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We managed to find a few more secluded anchorages like this beautiful spot near Grace Harbor.

After spending a month further north in the Broughton Islands, the Desolation Sound area was really busy and crowded in comparison. It felt a bit like driving into Seattle! It was also so much warmer, shorts and bathing suits made an extended appearance, YAY! Seems we motored down about the time the summer heat wave hit the entire west coast. I recorded a 93 degree day inside the boat. Truly, the temperature difference was like going from North America to South America.

 

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That said, we had a great two weeks there exploring some new anchorages, meeting up with fellow boating friends from Anacortes and hosting friends onboard the Beach House for a week. Fishing, exploring, relaxing, hiking, cooking amazing meals, drinking wine, kayaking and stargazing filled our days and nights. We even happened into a great floating concert in beautiful Prideaux Haven.

 

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Hundreds of folks rafted together in their dinghy’s to enjoy the concert. The band and entertainers were awesome.

 

 

 

 

Our friends Dave and Tanya joined us for a week and arrived via float plane at Dent Island Lodge. It was so exciting to see the plane touch down on the water as we sat waiting for them in the marina.  They had a great flight from Seattle, low over the water with amazing visibility all the way up the coastline.  What a beautiful setting to touch down and on a private island none the less!

 

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We enjoyed a fabulous meal and exploring the hiking trails the next day. It would have been way to easy to have stayed a few more days but we had places to go, fish to catch and things to see.

 

 

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Hmmm, not sure what went wrong on this cruise but it wasn’t likely  the skippers best day on the water.

 

Fishing and shrimping are a great way to fill the coffers with fresh seafood. If you look closely at Wally’s fish (on the right) in the picture below, it has a turquoise hue. Most lingcod are light beige or whitish gray with pinkish bellies. However, about 20 percent of lingcod have florescent green or blue flesh.  No one seems to know precisely what causes this but biologists believe the strange green or blue hues indicate that the lingcod have consumed a diet rich in chlorophyll, eating more plant matter—green algae through small crustaceans—than the rest. Regardless of its initial coloring, all lingcod meat turns bright white when cooked and is a dense, mild fish. We ate them both and honestly I can’t tell you that they tasted any different.

 

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Those are some happy boys!! Well, not the fish so much.

 

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Seriously, that is really the color of the fish meat. No photo color enhancement!!

 

The great thing about Desolation Sound is that there are actually plenty of places to get off the boat and enjoy having someone else cook and do the dishes. As much as I love cooking, sometimes shore leave keeps the whole crew happy!

 

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Lunch on the deck at bustling Refuge Cove. Bloody Mary anyone?

 

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Speaking of shore leave, many of the anchorages in Desolation Sound have great hikes. Fresh water lakes are plentiful with the high mountains and winter snowpack so swimming in the cool, fresh water is a great way to cool off on a hot day. 

 

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Bentley didn’t go full in swimming but he definitely likes wading! He’s always a happy boy when we get out the harness and leash – shore leave…why yes, I will go exploring too!!

 

 

 

There were no shortage of amazing sunsets and one night we were all treated to a dark sky dripping with stars. No light pollution, no wildfire haze and no moon makes for spectacular stargazing. The perfect place to take it all in… stretched out on the bow of the boat with a glass of wine in hand. So quiet and peaceful…

 

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We saw plenty of wildlife on our two weeks in Desolation Sound. Eagles, Orca Whales, Humpback Whales, Osprey, Herons, Cormorants, Kingfishers, Seals, and Porpoise just to name a few.

 

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Isn’t this couple just adorable…I am pretty sure the babe on the right is the girlie! She looks so feminine!!!

 

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This baby seal found the perfect place to sun itself and didn’t seem to mind that we were this close. Little dude was actually suckling on the side of this giant boat…so cute!!!

 

We really did get up close and personal with the humpbacks in the videos below one night when we went out to check our prawn pot. Check out the link above to read about that exciting evening!

 

 

 

 

It has taken me awhile to sort through all the pictures from this short two week part of our cruise north. I gotta admit that I was a bit tuckered out by the time we pulled into our slip at Anchor Cove Marina in Anacortes. We have had such a great season on the boat exploring the Canadian Coastline and once we catch our breath, I think we will head out for a few four days trips in the San Juan Island! This gal’s not that tuckered out or ready to put the Beach House away for the winter!!!

 

 

 

I love how the wake of our boston whaler made a wake that was shaped like a whale tail!! Wonder if that’s why they are called whalers???

Outposts in the Wild Broughtons

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While we love gunk holing and being anchored out in a quiet bay with no one around, sometimes this gal needs a “city” fix. On the boat that usually means we need to do laundry, get fuel or food but in the case of the Broughton’s the main attraction of the marinas was the social aspect. 

Most of the marina’s in the Broughton’s are really outposts, some are super funky and rustic, others are more sophisticated. Rustic means just that, the docks are usually old wood floats, there is unlikely any type of store, no fuel, no laundry. Some times they have water and power if they have good generators.

 

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Rustic, wild Kwatsi Bay.

 

Sophisticated means there are a full range of services such as fuel, water, power, groceries, laundry, wood fired hot tub, wifi and cell service and maybe updated concrete docks. Don’t get me wrong…they are still funky but with flair!!

 

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These outposts are where the boaters gather to catch up on chores, pick up friends who fly in on float planes (yes, you have that option too if you want to come hang with us for a while on the boat), and socialize with other boaters.

Most outposts have some sort of organized Happy Hour which is usually potluck and the marina provides the place to gather. Some even have a small restaurant or set meals several times a week. The other thing that sets the tone at the outposts are the owners and the special touches they do to give their outpost its own special vibe.

 

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Golf anyone???

 

Kwatsi Bay is definitely rustic…the setting is stunning and all the waterfalls in this area make is very special. Set deep in the bay with 2,000 ft mountains surrounding it, Max and Anca are a delightful couple who have built this place from scratch. Sadly, we hear they are putting it up for sale…so if you are hankering to have your very own outpost, this may be your chance.

 

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Remote Kwatsi Bay

 

The water system at Kwatsi was installed with human man power efforts by Max which meant laying hundreds of feet of pipes up the mountain to the year-around waterfall. The water is piped down to the marina and purified. There is no power at the docks but the small building and the main house are set up in a generator and solar, all done in an effort to be sensitive to the environment.

 

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We enjoyed a intimate Happy Hour gathering on the docks and no rain!

 

Pierre’s at Echo Bay is another outpost that is owned by a very enterprising couple, Pierre and Tove. Read the link and you will see what I mean by enterprising! They have been living and working in the Broughton’s for almost 40 years and this outpost definitely has their vibe. The pig roast and prime rib dinner events that they hold each week are incredibly popular and well attended. We made our reservations in advance just to make sure we could attend the Canada Day Celebration as well.

 

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Thats Pierre getting ready to carve the pig.

 

This outpost also has some hiking trails that will take you over to another small bay where you can see Billy Proctors Museum and visit the gift shop. Billy is a coastal legend who tells the best stories based on his life living in the Broughtons. 

We had a chance to meet Billy and chat with him about the fish farms …yes, he has strong options about those!!! A friend had loaned me one of his books “Full Moon, Flood Tide” which was great to read while we were cruising in Billy back yard. A natural, storyteller, Billy’s book points the way to hidden waterfalls, abandon Native villages, old logging camps and the added bonus for boaters is the descriptions of which bays have the best protection from the winds.  He recounts spellbinding and often hilarious tales of the big hearted, hard-bitten and just plain weird folks who have lived in this part of his world.

 

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Chatting with Billy, what an amazing man!

 

Sullivan Bay was one of our favorite outposts in the northwest west part of the Broughtons. This more sophisticated outpost is owned by a group of people who have floating homes there…okay, they really just summer homes…and the marina is top notch with full services. The Manager Deb and her crew were amazing.

 

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We met friends from Anacortes there, Deane and Arlene who have been our Broughton’s mentors. Long time cruisers who know their way around the PNW from south of Seattle to beyond the Broughton’s – Thanks guys for letting us tag along on part of your trip!

 

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It was great to have someone else cook and we all enjoyed the prime rib dinner at the restaurant and the great Happy Hour gatherings at Sullivan Bay. There is something special about the boating comraderery up here. We have met so many wonderful people who will hopefully be boating friends for life!!

 

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The winner of the golf challenge at Sullivan Bay gets to wear this great jacket and get a free night of moorage – WTG Wally!!!

 

Besides catching up on laundry, email and all the boating gossip we did a lot of exploring from these outposts, some fishing, crabbing and prawning too. It is great to be tied up to a dock for a few days and go out in the whaler exploring with Bentley. 

 

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Delicious fresh spot prawns…yummy!!!

 

Lagoon Cove Marina was a great stop over on our way back down to Johnstone Strait. Not only do they have a fresh prawn feed at Happy Hour but there are hiking trails and fun outdoor games on the lawn above the docks. 

 

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Getting set up for the prawn feed at Happy Hour.

 

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The burn barrel is kinda of a big, damn deal as most of these remote outposts have no garbage service.

 

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At Lagoon Cove the grounds were quite beautiful. It was great to be able to get off the boat and go for a hike…even with a bear in the fruit tree.

 

Our final stop in the Broughtons was at the Port Harvey Marina which is owned by George and Gale Cambridge. This is a great stop for boaters who are just coming out of Johnstone Strait or getting ready to make the transit.

 

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Sadly, we heard that George passed in his sleep just a week after we were there. I suppose one could feel some comfort knowing he passed in the place he loved, doing what he loved but out hearts go out to Gail.  George will be sorely missed by the boating community. Calm Seas George!!!