And the road goes on forever...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Happy Camper

The above photo just about sums up the way I feel about Washington and especially the capital city of Olympia. Happy Camper indeed: a stellar setting smack dab on the water, liberal leaning tendencies, good healthcare, great shopping, superb markets including the farmer’s market, and boats, boats, boats!

The farmer’s market beckoned again early this morning, enticing in its color, smell and allure. While Marc sat reading in the car, I took my earth-friendly cloth shopping bags hanging off each arm and filled them both. Smoked cheeses and buffalo summer sausage at an affordable price, red swiss chard in a bunch so large it takes up half a shelf in my RV refrigerator, fresh spinach and of course, the dazzling fresh fruit (new crop apples and nectarines ) from Yakima Valley. Cha-ching; add another notch to Olympia’s charisma: I have never, ever seen such fresh and gorgeous vegetables in my lifetime. “Honey, if we live on the boat, we can walk here.” (it operates from April to December).

Swanstown Marina is owned and operated by the Port of Olympia, thus city owned and handsomely maintained. They provide permanent moorage for 656 vessels, including up to 70 allowed liveaboards. Unfortunately, there is a long waiting list for this privilege; perhaps two years or so. It is only a long block from the farmer’s market and on the opposite side of the peninsula from where we visited the boat broker a week ago. We much prefer it. By hook and crook we manage to gain entrance to the secured dock areas so we can wander making note of the boats for sale and talking to quite a few of the residents. Our pass also allows us to check out the laundry and shower rooms. The marina is extremely well done, even offering oil recycling for residents free of charge. After wandering the docks we sit at land’s end and watch the sail boaters playing on Budd Inlet, watch a heron in front of us fishing, and watch the quiet waterfront homes which gaze out at all this. Yup, Olympia is one classy place. I could settle here. Where are those jobs we need?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Poking Around

Not much has been happening with us to blog about since we’ve been buried in resumes and job applications, spending hours at the WIFI station daily perusing employment ads and sites. Really nothing yet has broken and mid-September saw us pass a one year anniversary without a job. To say things are tedious is to put it mildly.

We are enjoying the area, although we haven’t ventured far due to monetary constraints. Everything here costs money it seems and although there is just a ton of neat and interesting things beckoning us, we are keeping a very close watch on the wallet. An admittance into a museum for instance, will buy a tank of fuel for the Saturn.

Today we did get out to enjoy the marvelous and still warm and sunny weather this area has experienced since we’ve arrived, to help Rachael haul some boxes of wedding magazines down to her employer’s wedding event at the Tacoma Convention Center (in her husband’s truck). There will be a big event all weekend so we got a sneak preview of the setup. Downtown Tacoma is actually much smaller than I envisioned and quite hilly, much as some of San Francisco. The feel, minus the very tall high rises, is so similar, as one looks out over the Pacific bay, islands and peninsulas which just unfold mere blocks away. We drove through the area known as Ruston (waterfront) and noted, mouth-watering, all the gorgeous and likely expensive waterside dining establishments. Moms were out pushing strollers; people were walking a ton of dogs and we wondered how all these people came to be here on a weekday? By the way, if one were looking for a unique place to stay, we noted the Tacoma Silver Cloud Inn sitting stunning surrounded on three sides by water with what looked like a water view from every single room. Not too shabby.

From there it was a short hop into Defiance Park, which features very thick old growth forests where even the Madrone trees tower a hundred feet tall. We bypassed the zoo and made a short stop at the living museum replica of Fort Nisqually, of which the original built by Hudson Bay Company is actually located in DuPont in the middle of Rachael’s subdivision! (Or at least a bare minimum of footprint left of the original.) The view of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and watching boaters cavorting on the water was sublime. On the way out we passed an outdoor logging museum with interesting old steam equipment.

Out of downtown, back onto I-5, we headed south and east towards Enumclaw to check out a potential short term construction remodel job. The territory changes out in this area, gaining elevation and leaving the thick fir forests behind for a mix of deciduous, fir and pine. Enumclaw appeared to be an old (small) town, but very well kept and sleepy. It has been very interesting to note in this area not only the physical characteristics changing, but also the tone of the cities and towns. Paper maps are deceiving; distances all seem much more far flung than we think so it is nearly dinner time by the time we arrive home. Tomorrow being Saturday, perhaps it is time for a redo of the Olympia Farmer’s Market!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Beautiful Life in Washington

With a salt sea breeze wafting by our dockside vantage, we watch the big Bayliner gliding out of the harbor up the channel. The woman minds the ropes as she coils them up on foredeck while her husband ducks inside and takes interior stairways to the fly bridge where he looks for all the world like a king who has just ascended his throne. But I guess that’s probably what one would feel piloting a quarter million dollar yacht. This is a beautiful area in a very urbane, yet small, vibrant city. Every corner is clustered with coffeehouses, small boutique cafes and unique businesses. Flowers and outside tables and chairs grace outdoor spaces and fresh fish and oyster bars and markets beckon.

We’ve just finished browsing the Saturday farmers market in Percival’s Landing, a rejuvenated downtown area only three blocks from the state capital building, filled with condos and warehouse style lofts. We find masses of gorgeous flowers in stalls and the best looking vegetables I have seen since 2006 in Wisconsin. Oh good…the new crop of Washington apples is out and available in bulk!

We’re at the yacht harbor today actually setting foot into a boat brokerage office, still dreamin’ our dreams. Well in actuality, Marc is probably humoring me but he’s a good sport. We tour a few trailerable boats up to 27 feet that appear to need a lot of work. We step aboard an older Tollycraft 30 footer from the ‘70’s, still in need of work but at least offering a smidgen more of the space we figure we would need. Marc gets really intrigued by the screen door; a novelty we’ve not seen aboard a boat before! From the Tolly we sneak aboard a 40 foot Bayliner and indeed find the kind of space we are looking for! From the aft deck I note the harbor view and peacefulness that is part and parcel of such a lifestyle. Hum—this is looking

Once finished at the yacht brokerage, we leave and decide to approach closer to the capital for some photos. Just a few blocks away is a very inviting grocery store advertising fresh Coho Salmon at $2.99/lb, head off. Yeh, gotta pull in here! Inside the place is just brimming with everything quintessentially Pacific Northwest right down to the end cap on the aisle and the smell of fresh coffee from the front kiosk drifting enticingly over the entire store. The vegetables look like a Whole Foods Marketplace and the fresh baked sourdough like it just came in moments ago from San Francisco. We get two whole salmon (fresh in today) and muse that this wonderful store is walking distance from the marina. Hum. Liveaboard status might have just leapt up another notch!

The Capital looks beautiful and enduring above Capital Lake and a special Iraq memorial commemoration is going on. The entire grassy lawn is filled with coreplast gravestones inscribed in marker with every fallen soldier, journalist, and death in Iraq. It says a lot about this city; located so near to Ft. Lewis, now sending the bulk of the force fighting in Afghanistan off to war. Support for the military is huge in this area.

We leave not having had enough. This is a walking town; an interesting town, and I’m sure we’ve only just scratched the surface on this one marvelous nearly fall day.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How Cool is Blogging? Read on to See!

I’ve often heard from strangers out of the blue when something I’ve done on our website peaks someone’s interest. It happens particularly regarding the photo story videos I have done in the past that I post on our main webpage.

I’m sitting in Ft. Lewis, WA fretting continuously about finding a job when unexpectedly a strange email address gets delivered to my inbox with the title “yacht envy blog”. Faithful readers may recall an entry from May 12th about me wistfully watching two of the most beautiful yachts I had ever encountered in Charleston motor on out the harbor and head north. I was wondering if they could perhaps even be on their way to Alaska. Well, today I may have found out the answer to that question. To AF from Victoria, BC please know that you thrilled me to no end by writing! Thank you for this gift.

Hello Claudia,
You don't know me but I was directed to your blog when I too searched out the yacht Kodiak and it's smaller counterpart "Gaelforce".
I too was mesmerized by these two yachts two days ago when I saw them anchored together in Poet's Cove on South Pender Island, B.C. I just thought I'd drop you a line and tell you. They were together and I too, am envious of privilege and also wondered as they powered out of the harbour Monday where they may have been headed next.
Perhaps a lottery win one day will allow either one of us to vye for anchoring space with them! LOL
Enjoyed your words on the yachts Kodiak and Gaelforce :o)

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Time seems to go faster in big cities and I now think I know the reason. I can say this because in a mere blink of the eye, the entire weekend has just about passed!

Saturday we joined Rachael for Military Appreciation Day at the relatively new Cabela’s store in Lacey. For those of you who have never experienced a personal visit to one of their stores, you’ve really missed out. Always their stores have a) many fine specimens of stuffed animals on display; b) a huge gun section, one room of which is the gun library featuring old and rare findings, and c)an aquarium of warm and cold water game fish. After wandering and a delicious lunch of game meat in their cafĂ© (elk sandwich, venison brat) we grew weary of fighting heavy, heavy crowds so headed south on I-5 to the Capital Forest.

This is one of the few places available in the area to do any target shooting and Rachael wanted some practice. The Capital Forest is a very nice setting south of Olympia with campgrounds, ATV and hiking trails. Marc was thrilled to find so much brass for reloading just lying around for the picking-up.

Sunday I joined Rachael in a work foray to the Tacoma Dome for a wedding faire event. Since we got out so early in the morning we just missed the heavy returning north bound traffic, already starting to form going into Seattle by noon. Marc worked on finally clearing our freezer of all those delicious blackberries we picked previously and is on a jam-making extravaganza this afternoon!

Oh yeah, back to the reason: half of one’s time is spent in traffic! For twenty years we’ve missed this dubious thrill. Is this going to be worth it?