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 > Trip Report: Across country delivering Sleepy's camper

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sabconsulting

High Wycombe, UK

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Posted: 08/12/17 03:05pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Day 19 – Wednesday : Ocean City to Dungeness (345 km)

Now at the coast we turn north to follow highway 109 along the shore around Olympic National Park.

Yet another warning sign:

[image]

If a Tsunami and a volcanic eruption happen at the same time which sign do I follow?

Time to pull in for a cup of tea. This is the closest the camper got to the sea. I’ve driven on sand in deserts, but they don’t have tides or salt water, so I avoid driving on beaches – this is about as close as I ever get.

[image]

We head inland to join US-101 and stop briefly at Lake Quinault where we fill with diesel; US-101 then heads back to the coast.

[image]

We are a bit disappointed because we see very few places you can pull in at the coast and most of the road, although next to the sea when viewed from the map, is actually in the forest so has little view. We do find one spot with a good car park and wander down a winding path through ferns to explore the beach. It is a very nice spot, and bleached tree trunks litter the beach.

[image]

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After Lake Pleasant we turn left off US-101 to get back out to the coast.

We still suffer the same problem, trying to find somewhere we can get down to the beach. After a couple of false leads (turning down roads that don’t give access to the sea) we spot a sign and detour to Crescent bay for lunch. It looks great, but at the bottom of the road is a private RV park that wants a fair amount of cash – it doesn’t really do people just stopping for lunch and I’m not paying a full night’s camping fee just for a 30 minutes lunch stop. As we return up the hill I spot a public car park and we pull in. We can’t get the camper level, so we daren’t stop for long. We grab some stuff and head down the steps to the beach.

[image]

There are posts showing the boundary on the beach with the adjoining private RV park lest you accidentally trespass on their land.

We turn the corner and through careful timing amongst the waves manage to jump to a rock that gives us access to steps leading up to the cliffs above. To our surprise we find a nice, but busy, campground set amongst the trees. We walk along the cliffs at the edge of the campground hoping they will take us back to the camper – I always prefer circular walks to returning the way we came, especially since it will mean braving the waves again to get down onto the beach. Usually when hiking, cycling or kayaking I carry a waterproof Garmin GPS. I can download detailed maps for free. However, in planning this trip I didn’t expect to get right out to the coast here, so when selecting map tiles I omitted this part of Washington. So we are navigating by guess work (the vehicle GPS I use in the truck covers the whole of the US, Canada and Mexico, but isn’t much good for walking, and wouldn’t cope well with salt water).

To our surprise we come across a war-time gun emplacement built into the hill – with the trees now mature around it you wouldn’t have a clue it was here.

[image]

[image]

We find a trail that leads in roughly the right direction, and are soon heading back onto US-101 through Port Angeles.

We are in serious danger of running out of rugged coastline and ending up in the suburbs of Tacoma. But driving along US-101 we spot a sign pointing to the left labelled Dungeness National Wildlife Reserve, and it has a camping symbol. We decided to give it a try even though the name is less than promising.

OK you might be thinking, what is wrong with that name? If you are from England you will understand. Dungeness is a triangle of flat, low-lying land jutting out into the English Channel consisting of marshland and gravel. It is of interest if you are keen on wading birds and nuclear generating stations, although the little village next to the nuclear plant has a sort of quaint charm about it.

Following the road we find a campground amongst trees on the edge of the cliffs. Having used one Washington campground we are now more familiar with the process. I take a photo of the sign board showing which sites were first-come first-serve so we can refer to it when looking for one we fit into. We soon find a decent site and returned to pay.

[image]

Once set-up it is time for a walk to explore the area, starting at the campground entrance where the sign indicated things to see and where cars had parked at the top of the cliff, indicating that there is at least a view point. A path from there takes us around the edge of the campground and on to an entrance to a separate park, staffed by volunteers, probably because it was a fee-pay park and most people probably wouldn’t bother unless someone was there to prompt them. I flash my America the Beautiful card which he notes details of. I suspect they want details so they can go back to the NPS and say “look, we had xxx people who didn’t pay because they had your card – give us some money please”.

A short walk of through the woods brings us to this view – Wow:

[image]

Dungeness is the longest sand spit in the US. It is 5 miles from one end to the lighthouse at the other, not that we have time to walk that far.

[image]

Its spine is littered with the detritus of trees that have fallen from cliffs further south and been washed out to sea. These aren’t just little bits of driftwood, but forest giants that seem to have gone there to die. It is like some strange graveyard for extreme whales or dinosaurs.

[image]

We take a final opportunity to cook outside.

[image]

* This post was edited 08/14/17 03:07am by sabconsulting *


'07 Ford Ranger XLT Supercab diesel + '91 Shadow Cruiser - Sky Cruiser 1
'98 Jeep TJ 4.0
'15 Ford Fiesta ST
'09 Fiat Panda 1.2


sabconsulting

High Wycombe, UK

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Posted: 08/12/17 03:06pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Day 20 – Thursday : Dungeness to Tacoma (179 km)

This is to be our last day camping in nature, so I get up and take an 06:15 walk.

Everything is stillness on the spit; alone except for a few deer.

[image]

Are those marine mammals I can see? Bobbing in the waves, black and slick? After much staring it becomes evident that these were not sea lions or whales, but tree trunks. Soaked with sea water and barely buoyant they wallow awash in the surf, with only parts of them periodically exposed, black from their time submerged, occasionally rearing up or rolling over as the current interplays with the timber’s centre of gravity.

We spend some time to tidy up the camper. To get everything in the cab means mixing things in boxes – filling in any space available with anything that will fit, rather than the luxury of packing different types of things in different boxes for easy identification at time of unpacking. We also discard some clothes that had seen better days – space in our own luggage will be at a premium because we had the Jeep soft top to transport home.

We hadn’t done much advanced research about things to see in the Tacoma area, as we weren’t expecting to have time by the coast. But a quick look at the map shows the Naval Undersea Engineering Station at Keyport has a museum, and I knew Sally is fascinated by submarines.

[image]

The museum is free and has a number of famous deep-sea submersibles and lots of information about undersea exploration.

[image]

We ask the museum staff for lunch recommendations – Poulsbo they reply, and it is only a few minutes away.

[image]

As we entered the town Sally spots the Velkommen sign – “That’s not the German spelling” she points out, “more like Scandinavian”. As we enter the old part of town this impression intensifies. It’s pretty European houses definitely have a Scandinavian feel about them. The scale of the roads are also European, which isn’t quite compatible with the size of our vehicle, especially when it comes to finding a parking space. People in compact cars are hunting around for suitable parking, so we stand no chance. In the end we drive to the edge of the old town and park in a blocked off road below a set of condominiums, a good 20 minute walk to the restaurants at the centre. But the walk is worth it and gives us more time to see the town.

[image]

We locate a suitable restaurant where we can sit outside in the warmth. I’m not sure what Sally orders – I have a picture of it, but still can’t tell. I have fish-and-chips, since we are at the “sea-side”.
We don’t want to rush off so ask about deserts. They have cake or cake; so I order the cheesecake and Sally orders the chocolate cake. “You might not want to order both” the waitress warns. The arrival of Sally’s cake proves her right.

[image]

We return to the truck – me in mild pain having helped Sally rather too enthusiastically with her cake. It turns out the town was built by Norwegians. Everything seems Norwegian. We stop by a general store and everything on sale is northern European. If they couldn’t find it from Norway they brought in the equivalent from Denmark or Germany. They have a very impressive wall of imported ales from all over northern Europe. They all look good. If I lived there I would just start at the top left and work my way along.

[image]

We take another route back to the camper – through what is clearly an HOA housing suburb. It is extremely pretty and well kept; but I can feel the curtains twitching as we walk through, slightly sweaty and heavily sun-tanned in our now quite creased clothing. “Gerald, look, who are these people? What do you think they want? Have you locked the gate to the yard?”. Just as well we didn’t attempt to park the truck camper there.

We drive over the Tacoma Narrows bridge – it is much more stable than the original – and the GPS guides us to PJ’s house with ease. PJ is out being payed to play with boats (actually taking some customers on a dinner cruise), so Marcie meets us and we back up into PJ’s regular parking spot on the front yard and plug into his electricity.

Marcie generously offers us the use of their washing machine for our laundry and shower for our weary bodies. This was a real luxury. I don’t mean to imply we have gone without showers, but showering in an RV isn’t quite the same, and campground showers, although functional, aren’t really places you want to spend much time.

I am glad we have already packed a lot of Chet’s belongings. We now don’t have much left to pack. The Jeep soft top fits nicely into my big yellow holdall with plenty of space around it to pack other items, so the box it came in is pressed into service to pack more of Chet’s stuff.

[image]

We leave Chet a few bits we had bought that we couldn’t take back, like the can of bear spray, a comforter and a cheap thermos flask. You never know when these might come in useful boondocking, just don’t mix up the first and last items when feeling thirsty. We leave the cheap camping chairs we had bought with Marcie in the hope that she could donate them, e.g. to a church charity.

This will be our last night in the camper.

* This post was last edited 08/14/17 11:23pm by sabconsulting *   View edit history

sabconsulting

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Day 21 – Friday : Tacoma to SEATAC

PJ is due home late at night. I hear the Cummins turn up, but stay in my bed.

[image]

The morning allows us to catch up with PJ. We get a tour around his camper to see some of the modifications performed when it was rebuilt. Putting in an advanced remote-control extractor fan, using marine hatches and a nice new counter top. The quality of the refurbishment work South End RV have done on the camper is evident.

[image]

Rather than have breakfast at the house PJ suggested we come with him for his regular Friday morning breakfast with his friends at a local diner. Well, we certainly weren’t turning down that offer.

They are a great bunch of guys and talk ranges from UFOs to, strangely enough, Sea Monkeys.

[image]

After a lovely extended breakfast it is time to take the camper on its last journey before being reborn anew. PJ wisely suggests we top up with diesel to avoid condensation forming in the tank – a side-effect of PJ’s many years of knowledge of the problems associated with boats that sit unused for months on end.

Then on to South End RV at Lakewood, following PJ. I back the camper into their workshop and bid it farewell. PJ will have the fun job of dropping by intermittently to see how they are getting on stripping it down.

[image]

[image]

There is already a camper in there undergoing work:

[image]

It feels strange sitting in PJ’s car – like we are missing something – oh yes, a camper.

Marcie has gone out on an appointment, so PJ generously drives us to the Crowne Plaza at SEATAC. Traffic is getting heavy and I know he will have a pretty unpleasant return trip after dropping us off. We had a great time with PJ and Marcie, but as with this trip, all good things come to an end.
However, we have the luxury of a night in a spacious hotel room, and the lesser luxury of a fattening meal at Denny’s next door. Plus we have most of tomorrow before getting on our plane home.

[image]

* This post was last edited 08/14/17 03:19am by sabconsulting *   View edit history

sabconsulting

High Wycombe, UK

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Day 22 – Saturday : Tacoma to London

I chose this hotel for two reasons. The big one being that it was free – I could pay with all the Intercontinental Hotel Group points I build up in my business travels. The second was its location – right next door to the SEATAC station of the light rail system which leads straight into Seattle.
Hence first thing in the morning we check out and leave our bags at the hotel to take the train into Seattle. Strangely the train stops at the stadium and we all have to change to a bus, which then drives through the same light-rail tunnel the train would have taken.

[image]

Seattle is hot. We buy timed tickets for the space needle and while we wait walked around the area and visit the Melinda and Bill Gates institute to fill some time.

[image]

[image]

[image]

[image]

After our tour up the tower we descend to the waterfront to find somewhere to eat. It is predictably very touristy though and we don’t really feel like participating. We ascend towards the centre of town again and find a bar selling food. It is popular, but it sort of feels like a more genuine place used by locals rather than just tourists.

[image]

It is hot, so we don’t spent too much time wandering around – we see some of the market, before getting back on the light rail to the hotel.

[image]

After a quick ice cream and drink in the hotel reception we use their courtesy bus to take the last short trip across the road to the SEATAC international terminal. I am relieved when on check-in the bag with the soft top and other stuff isn’t much over weight. I’d booked economy seats, but I’m allowed to check-in at the business class counter and I think they are used to turning a blind eye to overweight baggage which you cannot usually get away with in economy.

[image]

I manage some sleep on the flight, despite being cramped into an economy seat in the back. Sally is kept awake by a screaming child again, though thankfully this time no diaper changing is involved.

* This post was edited 08/14/17 03:20am by sabconsulting *

sabconsulting

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Conclusion (August 2017)

This had been a great trip. We both loved the scenery and the time spent with friends.
It was a lot of driving; around 4500 miles in total; but it had cost less in diesel than the same trip in Europe because the diesel is so much cheaper in the US that it makes up for the fact you are using a lot of it.

A huge thank-you must go to Chet and Janet for trusting us their beloved camper for 3 weeks. I know we were helping them by delivering it, but it still takes a lot of trust to hand your keys to someone from another country who has never driven your vehicle before.

Thanks as well to D and Jane for allowing us to stay on their drive and entertaining us with wonderful food.

Many thanks to Bryan Appleby for treating us to a camping spot next to him, ferrying us around in his Ford Ranger and listening to our chatter.

And thanks to Brian and LaDawn Towell for dragging themselves all the way from Golden for the weekend for some kayaking.

And finally thanks to PJ and Marcie for letting us camp on their yard, use their shower and laundry room and ferrying us between locations in and around Tacoma. And of course many thanks on behalf of Chet for dropping in to South End RV regularly to keep an eye on Chet’s camper rebuild.

Steve.

cewillis

Tucson, az, usa

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Posted: 08/12/17 04:44pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

What a great trip and report, Steve. Probably the longest and one of the best travel logs I've ever seen.
Also, an outstanding example of a win for all parties.
Quote:

I don’t know, but somehow her excitement at this opportunity doesn’t seem to come across in this photo.

Also, pretty funny.

btw, what year is Chet's Duramax? I don't think my 2006 is all that noisy -- especially when inside.

* This post was edited 08/12/17 04:57pm by cewillis *


Cal


dakonthemountain

Crestline, California

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Posted: 08/12/17 05:34pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wonderful trip, even with the flat, etc.! You are very kind to do this for Chet and Janet and I'm sure they appreciate it! Safe travels back!

Cheers!
Dak


2007 Lance 1055 and Calvin, the 1996 creampuff Chev Silverado 3500 extended cab dually
Escapee member #224325-Since 1992


sleepy

Oak Ridge,Tennessee

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Posted: 08/12/17 06:31pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Janet and I have taken about 2 1/2 hours looking at the pictures and reading about 20% of the words. This is a wonderful trip report.

This is the first time that we have known much more than the start here in Tennessee and the ending at Southend RV Repair in Lakewood Washington.

We were never concerned that Steve and Sally would get our camper there. We all know that Steve is a can do guy from his many trip reports and projects.

When we decided to have our camper totally rebuilt I chose Steve... and I can't think of another person that we would ask or let do it... it took a year to put it to gether.

Thank you Steve and Sally, we'll take a little more time before you use it again to train you on the modifications and emphasize which cabinate the blankets are in.

I will post more comments about this book sized report after I read it totally and make some notes.

Chet, and Janet

Capt PJ Walsh is posting "Chet's 1161 Rebuild" on the Lance Owner Association's website.


2003 Lance 1161,/slideout/AGM batteries/255W Solar/propane generator/Sat dish/2 Fantastic Fans/AC/winter pkg
AirFoil, Trimetric, LED lights, Platcat vent heat

2003GMC K3500 LT/Crewcab/duramax diesel/allison/dually/4x4/OnStar/front reciever mounted spare

rexlion

Broken Arrow OK

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Posted: 08/12/17 09:07pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

sabconsulting wrote:

Day 6 – Thursday : Badlands to Crazy Horse (200 km)

Now, I'm looking at the last photo for 'Day 6', the trail use sign. Where on this sign do you see that the trail may be used for hair washing? [emoticon]


Mike G.
--currently in between trailers--
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven... (Ecclesiastes 3)


Oldtymeflyr

Arapahoe Hills, CO

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Posted: 08/12/17 09:24pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wow!! I am going to go through and break down the roads and locations.

BTW, Chet's diesel is an LB7 about 12 years old. GM has had at least 3 series diesels since then and now they are pretty quiet. Also, these engines are putting out a lot of torque.

Again, a great report.

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