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.

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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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