Vermont Part 3

Current Location: Oregon Coast Sunset Bay State Park
It is still dark out, but after slipping into the cozy MoHo bed at 7 pm last night, I can’t sleep another minute.  Outside temps are a mild 61 degrees, but I have a feeling it is cloudy and the wind is blowing in gusts and bursts.  Here at Sunset Bay we have no internet and no phone, something I expected, but a fact that still takes a bit of adjustment.  I can’t check the weather other than sticking my nose outside to get a sense of what the coming day might be like.
Jeanne and Alans house site (7 of 34)I also have no idea when this post will actually get up to the internet, but thought it might be a good idea to at least write it before I have another big backlog of Oregon Coast camping to write about. While I was traipsing about the east coast, Mo was home, and she was definitely ready for a MoHo trip.  This time of year, the coast seems to be the place where we are drawn, with no expectations of anything but windy, possibly rainy weather.  Rain in Rocky Point is cold and can get snowy in November.  Rain on the coast doesn’t often include snow, and has the added benefit of wild surf. 
Time to slip back to my week in Vermont before I completely forget the details.  Thank goodness for photos.
Around Dorset 2 (12 of 21)Wednesday in Vermont was to be simple, with a beautiful morning walk up the hills above Dorset to the orchard and then some explorations around the area.  Several guests were scheduled to arrive this evening, and Jeanne and Alan were attending to pre-wedding tasks.  In addition, they have another big project that needed a bit of attention, and Jeanne wanted me to see the site where the two of them are building their own home.
Jeanne and Alans house site (18 of 34)When we were up in the airplane on Monday, they pointed the location out to me, high on the hills overlooking the valley below.  The house on Alan’s property was first built on in the early 1700’s, when it was a tavern.  The two of them wanted so much to keep the building somewhat intact, but it was an impossible task with mold and other issues to contend with.
Jeanne and Alans house site (1 of 34)Instead, Jeanne’s task for the day was to flag the items they wanted to save from demolition.  I loved seeing the old house, the old barn, and especially the hand forged square nails and hand hewn beams.  The new house will be a timber frame, and they are going to incorporate the beams and some of the existing stones into the design.
Jeanne and Alans house site (10 of 34)Can you imagine living in these Vermont mountains with a view like this?  I was told the house will have a walk-out lower level that will be guest quarters, and I do hope I can get back again to visit and see the place when it is completed.
Jeanne and Alans house site (25 of 34)In addition to the gorgeous view, the house has its very own swimming pond.  I have never seen a pond quite like this one, absolutely crystal clear.  With a diving board. 
Jeanne and Alans house site (21 of 34)Jeanne and Alan are excited about having their own home that is truly “theirs”, not one that was “hers” or “his”.  Alan laughed with me about the old adage that building a house can break up a marriage, saying that the two of them are having a great time making the decisions and choices together and enjoying every minute of the process.
Jeanne and Alans house site (29 of 34)With two people who love the natural world, I know that the home will be a treasure of local wood and stone, and that it will be filled with art from all over the world from their joint and separate travels.  Exciting!
Camp Kinni Kinnec (4 of 30)I took some time that afternoon to explore on my own a bit, driving north to Lake St. Catherine to see if I could find the old Kinne Kinnic Camp on the northern shores of the lake. In the early 60’s, when Mo was teaching in China Lake, she decided to apply for a summer coaching job in Vermont. 
Camp Kinni Kinnec (17 of 30)The camp was one of those tony places where wealthy folks send their kids while they travel in Europe.  Mo had quite the summer teaching smartie-pants rich girls how to play tennis.  As a born west coast, rather adventurous and outdoorsy young woman, I can only imagine what a culture shock that whole experience might have been.  The telling part is that she only did it once.
Camp Kinni Kinnec (14 of 30)The original camp is no longer there, but an internet search turned up alumni including Joan Rivers among others.  I found an original sign at the entrance to what is now a private housing development, and even with the photos, Mo couldn’t remember for sure which ones were part of her camp.
The major acreage of the original camp is now Lake Catherine State Park.  With the season over and the park closed, I parked outside the gates and spent a couple of hours wandering the grounds and taking photos.  I had the entire place to myself, without another soul around.
Camp Kinni Kinnec (6 of 30)It is a beautiful park, with some very nice RV campsites, (no hookups), an easy place to launch kayaks, and trails for bike riding.  I took photos of the best campsites, and of the original buildings, hoping that Mo might recognize some of them.  The buildings were obviously much older than the state park, and I could only assume that they were from the original Camp Kinne Kinnic.
Camp Kinni Kinnec (26 of 30)Jeanne had warned me repeatedly about the typical fall outbreak of ticks in this part of Vermont, so I was careful to stay out of the brush.  Still, I did walk through some tall grass, and sure enough I looked down  and saw a creepy crawling on my pants leg.  I checked carefully for ticks that night, but not carefully enough.
Camp Kinni Kinnec (28 of 30)The next  morning, while taking my shower I was surprised to find a mole on my side that hadn’t been there the day before.  Ack!  I would imagine that little bugger was on my clothes and when I went to bed he found his way to my warm body.  Ick.  I called Jeanne and she said I needed to get to the emergency immediately to get it removed and that there was a high incidence of lyme disease in the area.  Ack again. 
Vermont back roads (29 of 29)Walking up to the house to see what I could do and where I could go, I was greeted by comments, “Russell can probably help you”.  Are you kidding me?  was my first response.  Russell had arrived the previous evening, a very attractive worldly guy with a great sense of humor, a new house in Greece, and a big box of baklava that he carried for 18 hours on the plane to share with all of us.  I had completely forgotten that Russell was also an ER doctor.  It didn’t take him long to get the tick out from a rather sensitive area, and he assured me that lyme disease was probably not a problem since the tick hadn’t been embedded for even 12 hours.  whew.  No antibiotics were needed, and the dreaded rash and bullseye ring never appeared.
The next few days before the wedding were filled with people arriving, including Eve, from my very own town of Klamath Falls.  Eve is an attorney in town and was one of Jeanne’s great running friends.  My other housemates, Tei an Cecil, who live in the previously mentioned village of Waitsfield, also arrived.
Wedding-026I had heard of Tei for years, knowing that she and Jeanne had been friends even before birth, as their mothers were friends when they were pregnant with each of them. Tei was even more delightful than I imagined, a tiny, athletic woman with huge talent and kindness. 
As the wedding drew closer, we especially enjoyed the special meet and greet evening at Alan’s house, where once again his master chef style came into play, and we had a Mexican feast worthy of royalty. Drinking, fun and laughter ensued as we all listened and told stories about Jeanne and Alan and their adventures.
Vermont back roads (3 of 29)The next day, Jeanne wanted to show Eve and I more of the beautiful countryside.  Even in the rain and clouds the colors were gorgeous, and seeing two more historic covered bridges not far from Dorset was wonderful. 
Vermont back roads (20 of 29)I also took some time to visit the nearby town of Manchester with another guest.  Ellen had arrived from Key West and was staying at the Dorset Inn.  We spent a beautiful rainy morning exploring the lovely New England town with great shops, a gorgeous gallery, and a fabulous yarn shop, Yarns for Your Soul.  The only thing that kept me from buying skeins and skeins of hand dyed wool yarn was the thought that I would have to pay all those sales taxes and then try to fit it in my luggage.  I did buy enough to make a couple of cute ski hats however, yummy stuff.
Vermont back roads (16 of 29)Ellen and I had lunch at the local independent bookstore, Northshire Bookstore, a wonderful place with real books, real food, and great cappuccino.  Ellen is another treasure.  She and Jeanne met by chance on some world trip where they were assigned as roommates, and have traveled together since that time to many exotic world locations.  I have heard Ellen stories for years as well, and was so happy that I finally got to meet her in person.
It is from this point, however, that the photos of my visit deteriorate completely.  I fell asleep the previous night with my camera on the bed.  I had been looking at the photos I had taken, and somehow didn’t put the camera away properly.  Sure enough, in the middle of the night, I heard a thump.
UhOh.  It wasn’t a long drop, and the hardwood floors weren’t that hard, but it was enough that the camera no longer worked.  I had no time to find a repair place, so the rest of the week my photos came from the iPhone.  I know that everyone seems to think iPhone photos are fine, but they don’t do that great in low light situations indoors at night, or in a church, or at a wedding.
Lucky for me, once I returned home and took the camera to the shop, the only problem was that the mirror was stuck.  I had tried dropping and lifting the mirror, but evidently hadn’t tried enough.  The camera person had the camera working in minutes.  Whew!
Next:  I know I keep saying it, but this time really:  Wedding Rehearsal, Rehearsal Dinner, Wedding, and Reception!

Vermont in October Part 2

Current Location: Rocky Point, Oregon: 40 degrees F and partly cloudy at midday

Somehow Jeanne and Alan were calm and collected as the wedding day drew closer.  Everything was well planned and on schedule, and with a few more days before guests and relatives were to arrive, Jeanne had no qualms about leaving town for a couple of days to take me on a driving tour.  Alan joked that Jeanne had given him a 26 page list of “things to do when Sue gets here”.  With smiles and hugs of encouragement, he sent us off to play at “the lake”, and to explore some of the hidden gems of Vermont that Jeanne wanted to share with me.

Jeannes Vermont (43 of 67) There is nothing quite as delightful as having your very own personal tour guide with an intimate knowledge of the countryside.  Jeanne drove and I simply sat back with no agenda except for oohing and aahing as we passed through the countryside.  Our first goal was Alan’s family place “The Lake Lodge” on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain, where we planned to spend the night. 

to Lake Champlain (18 of 122) Our route took us a couple of hours north toward the southern end of the lake where Jeanne decided that I should see the famous Lake Champlain bridge.  What a beauty!  The visitor center was open, and with this being a holiday (Columbus Day), even on this cloudy, somewhat blustery day, it was rather crowded.  The original bridge had to be rebuilt in 2010, and the new bridge echoes the shape of the old bridge beautifully. 

to Lake Champlain (17 of 122) This area is thick with historical significance, with many forts and sites of pre Revolutionary War events.  Across the bridge, on the New York side, we found the ruins of the French Fort St Frederic, built in 1734.  There wasn’t much left to see, with the ruins buried by time and by the coming of the British, who occupied Crown Point in 1759 and began constructing one of the largest forts they would ever build in North America. 

to Lake Champlain (23 of 122) Here the wooden and earth fortified walls were still somewhat visible, with the ruins of the stone barracks and officer’s quarters still standing.  Even though she lived nearby, Jeanne had never explored this area and we thoroughly enjoyed wandering around the walls and ruins without benefit of the little tour guide to describe what we were seeing.  Neither one of us felt like paying the fee to go into the museum to buy the guide.  We had other goals in mind for the day.

to Lake Champlain (32 of 122)to Lake Champlain (26 of 122)to Lake Champlain (27 of 122) After leaving the forts, we didn’t dally much along the way, hoping to arrive and check out the water conditions on Lake Champlain.  Big on my list was a kayak on this gorgeous lake, but once we arrived at the house, the winds were up a bit.  Lake Champlain is big and can be surprisingly dangerous.  We knew that our chances of still water were probably better the next morning rather than late in the afternoon, so we opted to wait for some time on the water.

to Lake Champlain (114 of 122) The house is wonderful, built some time in the 20’s, with lots of sprawling enclosed porches, cozy chairs for reading and watching the water, and plenty of bedrooms.  I opted for the “maid’s quarters”, a sweet room just off the kitchen entry, chosen especially for the cushy down comforter and perfect mattress. 

to Lake Champlain (71 of 122) Alan was glad to send us off, but of course was a bit jealous of our chance for time on the lake.  He and Jeanne come here often to swim, read, kayak, boat, and fish.  Over the last couple of years I have received countless photos from Jeanne of the lake from this vantage point, and it was wonderful to finally see it in person.

to Lake Champlain (60 of 122) We didn’t linger long, however, deciding that a country drive to the little village of Vergennes was in order. On the way, we inhaled the lovely fragrance of fields spread with manure, a common occurrence this time of year in rural Vermont.  I didn’t find it unpleasant, though, somehow it fit perfectly with the beautiful farms in the valley of Lake Champlain.

to Lake Champlain (56 of 122) Jeanne took me to a favorite little haunt at a nearby state park, Button Bay, where we paid the $6.00 entry fee to drive into the park.  It was the last day of the season, and we had the place almost entirely to ourselves.  Just a short hike led to the rocky point jutting into Lake Champlain where we hunted for the fossils that Alan had previously found.  We had no luck finding fossils, but the wild wind and waves on the lake and the dark clouds were incredibly dramatic and gorgeous.

to Lake Champlain (59 of 122) There is RV and tent camping at this pretty state park, although I would imagine it could get a bit crowded during warm summer days. There were no hookups, but a dump station and nice showers are available. 

We then meandered through the countryside to the nearby village of Vergennes, where Jeanne hoped to get some pastries at her favorite spot “Vergennes French Laundry”.  Seems as though the place is only open a few days a week, and Monday wasn’t one of them.  Instead, we opted for outside dining at the trendy little Three Squares Cafe.

to Lake Champlain (62 of 122)Specials for the day included a butternut squash and pumpkin ravioli, in a sage cream sauce with roasted veggies.  Oh My Yum!!  I must say Vermont food is some of the best I have ever experienced.

Back to the lake house, we settled in for the evening with cognac and books in the big comfy chairs overlooking the lake.  It was so nice to have quality quiet time in such a beautiful place with a good friend.IMG_1156

The next morning dawned a bit cloudy, but the winds were gentle, and by 7am we had the kayaks on the lake.  With just a bit of chill to the air, we paddled across the bay toward Otter Creek (actually it looks more like a river) and paddled upstream against the gently current.  Jeanne told a great story about a time when the revolutionaries were in the bay and the British thought they had them cornered.  Benedict Arnold, the commander at the time, dug a trench through the natural levee to Otter Creek, and his army escaped.  We kayaked to a spot where remnants of the trench are still visible.

to Lake Champlain (79 of 122) It was a beautiful day on the water, and we stayed out three hours or so before returning to the lodge and packing up for the trip home.

to Lake Champlain (85 of 122)to Lake Champlain (90 of 122) Jeanne still had much to share with me however, and her route back to Dorset meandered over the mountains to the Appalachian Gap overlook and down into the little village of Waitsfield.  Even though Jeanne was technically raised in New Jersey, the house in the mountains above Waitsfield was her preferred childhood home.

Jeannes Vermont (11 of 67) Here the family would come during the summers and on winter weekends to ski.  Jeanne’s father took her skiing in a backpack when she was merely three months old, so she comes by her love of skiing naturally. Just up the road from the family home is the small local ski hill that Jeanne talked of so often, Mad River Glen. Once again, I delighted in seeing all the places I had heard about for so many years in person.

Jeannes Vermont (28 of 67) The Mad River flows through Waitsfield, and the covered bridge across the river was another treat.   Jeannes Vermont (52 of 67) We meandered around the town, visiting a few little shops where Jeanne found a perfect little dress for her rehearsal dinner.  Isn’t is amazing to have a friend that slips a size 6 over her head so effortlessly?!  While we shopped, Jeanne regaled me with some kayaking stories of her time on the rapids of the Mad River.  Jeannes Vermont (56 of 67)

Jeannes Vermont (59 of 67) Later she found the gravestones that were being hugged by trees in an old historic cemetery just outside of town.  Sherry, I thought of you with these stones, instead of you hugging the trees, the trees are doing the hugging!

Jeannes Vermont (1 of 67) The rest of the return trip to Dorset was through the back roads, along beautiful rivers, and down some dramatic canyons, where Jeanne again pointed out the names of the surrounding mountains where she hiked and skied. By the time we rolled into Dorset, it was late afternoon, and more wedding guests were beginning to arrive.

Jeannes Vermont (22 of 67) As Alan said, when I arrived, he felt as though it was “really happening, the wedding was really happening”!  But with the arrival of Alan’s best friends from around the world, Jeanne’s other friends from Oregon, and Tei and Cecil it was time to focus on the real reason I had come to Vermont.  The wedding celebrations were about to begin!

Next:  I do a little exploring on my own and then its time for a Wedding!

Vermont in October

Current Location:  Rocky Point, Oregon Clear and Cold at 32 degrees F this morning

I had a year to get excited about my trip to Vermont.  My friend Jeanne was getting married, and I knew I had to be there one way or another.  The trip was wonderful in so many ways, and yet losing our sweet dog Abby, just a few days after my return, made it impossible for me to write about the beautiful days and the beautiful wedding until now.

Around Dorset (28 of 35)Mother Myrick in the morning sunrise above Dorset, Vermont

Some time has passed since Abby left us.  We buried her not far from where our also recently deceased cat Jeremy lies, both small rock headstones visible from the kitchen window.  The initial grief and sadness has eased a bit.  The huge empty space that a beloved pet leaves behind is no less empty, but feels a bit less shocking.  The house is very quiet.  I did finally clean the dog spit off the sliding glass door, and just recently Mo put Abby’s toys away somewhere, I am not sure where.

137-Christmas_036 I think October is a beautiful month just about anywhere in this wide country.  However the classic New England fall was on my bucket list.  Mo and I have talked often of attempting to get back there in the MoHo, to fill in those last few states we have yet to experience in our rig.  However the timing for such a journey can be daunting at best.  It is always a juggle between catching the height of color and still not getting caught in the snows that follow.  If we had attempted it this year, we would have no doubt been caught in the early snowstorms that are hitting the South at this very moment.

driving to Dorset (4 of 18)The Connecticut River Greenway along my route from Boston to Dorset

Instead, I flew to Vermont on my own, while Mo spent the time caring for Abby and keeping the home fires burning, shutting down the sprinklers for winter, raking the rapidly falling pine needles and beginning the fall burning. I think I got the better end of the deal, except for Abby of course.

IMG_4470First sight of fall color at the hotel in Marlborough, Massachusetts

With Jeanne’s wedding scheduled for a Saturday, I planned my trip to give me several days of Vermont time before the wedding and before the major influx of guests.  When Jeanne lived in Klamath, and we worked together, she often shared stories of her life in Vermont.  We were both excited that I would be there in time for Jeanne to show me her beloved home state.  I was also happy for the time to spend with Jeanne and Alan and to get a taste of Jeanne’s new life.

driving to Dorset (9 of 18)The Vermont Visitor Center as I enter the state for the first time

Flying from Medford, I flew to Portland and then got a nonstop cross country flight directly to Boston.  Mo and I had been to Boston a few years ago, but it was on a cruise ship.  This would be my first visit to Vermont, and I rented a car with the thought that I would drive the 200 miles or so directly to Dorset.  I obviously wasn’t thinking clearly when I planned this, and realized that I needed to stay somewhere close to Boston rather than attempting to drive unknown back country roads in the dark of night.

driving to Dorset (17 of 18) Finding a hotel in Boston was a bit daunting, with the cheapest rooms beginning at $329 per night!  Not in my budget, for sure.  I could sleep in the car if I had to pay that much for a few hours sleep.  Instead, I drove an hour or so north toward Marlborough, and found a basic decent room for a mere $149.  The bed was OK, but the room wasn’t much more than your average Super 8 out west that goes for 49 bucks.  Still, when I woke the next morning to brilliant skies and gorgeous color in the trees, I was so glad that I waited.

It took me nearly four hours to get to Dorset because I just couldn’t resist stopping a bit for photos along the way.  It was my first time in Vermont, and the timing was very nearly perfect.  The visitor center at the Vermont state line was state of the art, beautiful, and I began to get a feel for the rural nature of the landscape, and the focus on dairy farming, agriculture, and forestry that is the hallmark of this lovely place.

driving to Dorset (12 of 18)On the winding highway along the West River I came upon the beautiful West Dummerston Covered Bridge,  remembering that Vermont has more than 100 covered bridges, and that there are more covered bridges per square mile in Vermont than any state in the country.  Of course, after our springtime covered bridge tour of Oregon, I couldn’t miss taking a photo of this lovely bridge.  I learned later that it is the second longest covered bridge in the state, but at the time I was taking the photos, I only remembered some of what I had previously learned about trusses and joists and supports.  I loved the open window on one side of the bridge especially.Around Dorset 2 (2 of 21)Alan’s home on the hill above Dorset.

I really had to make some tracks because the weather was cooperating perfectly for Alan’s offer to take me up in his airplane that afternoon.  It was a gorgeous, completely cloudless sunny day, and the rest of the week was forecasted to be rainy and dreary.  No time to waste.  If I was to see Vermont from the air, I would need to do it on this beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Around Dorset 2 (4 of 21)I arrived at Alan’s place by noon, and after greetings and settling in to his brother’s home down the path, Jeanne and I walked to town to the local farmer’s market to get some veggies for supper. 

Around Dorset 2 (9 of 21) Alan was brining a beautiful “happy chicken”, and only fresh grown organic veggies would be worthy of the meal.    Dorset is a beautiful small burgh with lovely historic homes and inns, winding country roads, a town green, and lovely historic churches, one of which would be the location of the wedding the following weekend.

Around Dorset 2 (1 of 21)My home for the week, just down the path from the main house.

My home for the week belonged to Alan’s brother, at the moment traveling around the world on a sailboat, and later the three bedrooms would be filled with other wedding guests.  It is a dramatic timber frame home, with great views of Mother Myrick towering over Dorset. 

airplane over Dorset (5 of 37) Within a short time, the three of us piled into Alan’s new truck for the drive north to Rutland airport. Needless to say, I was excited.  Flying in a small plane is thrilling to me, and as a map maker, seeing the landscape below up close is magical.  Alan is a forester, and his understanding of the patterns of the vegetation, his explanation of the various timber communities, and the history of the logging industry in Vermont added tremendously to the flight.

airplane over Dorset (13 of 37)airplane over Dorset (31 of 37)airplane over Dorset (18 of 37) airplane over Dorset (23 of 37)airplane over Dorset (36 of 37) Alan was excited about the flight as well, exclaiming over and over how incredibly lucky we were with the clear skies and the beautiful color playing out over the mountains.  Alan and Jeanne pointed out the local mountains, and told some sweet stories about their first hike together on Haystack as they flew past the dramatic glaciated peak. It was a perfect introduction for  my week in Vermont.

Around Dorset (1 of 35)Around Dorset (8 of 35) After our flight, Alan drove some of the back country roads around Dorset, searching for color on the hillsides.  I learned that Vermont was almost completely denuded of forest when it was first settled in the 1700’s, with more than 80 percent of the state being cleared for agriculture.  In the ensuing years, the trees have once again taken over the landscape and there is now only about 25 percent of the state cleared for agriculture. 

Around Dorset (21 of 35) I knew I wanted to see New England stone walls, but what I didn’t know was that many of those old walls are found in the forests, marking what were once open fields.  Now taken over by the forest again, the old stone walls are crumbling and tucked away in the shadowy undergrowth.  Around Dorset (9 of 35)

After that breathtaking afternoon, we returned home to Alan’s place to partake of one of the most amazing roast chicken dinners I ever experienced.  Alan is a fabulous cook, and his favorite resource is Cook’s Illustrated, also a favorite of mine.  I have never ever ever in my entire life had such a succulent chicken, set off with Jeanne’s homemade cranberry sauce and fresh beets from the market.  The gravy (another favorite food group of mine) was beyond incredible.  Thus began a week of some rather fabulous meals, both home cooked and at inns and restaurants throughout Vermont.Around Dorset (25 of 35)

Next:  Lake Champlain, Mad River Glenn, and more of “Jeanne’s Vermont”

9-27-2014 A Day on Lopez Island

Current Location: Rocky Point Oregon Clear and 37 F at 8AM

boat launch at MacKay Bay I was so excited when I went to sleep after our beautiful evening sunset, knowing that the skies were clearing and we had a sunny day ahead for our trip to Lopez Island.  What I forgot about being around all that water, was the clear skies often bring fog.  We woke early Saturday morning to thick fog blanketing our campground with all views completely obscured.

Lopez Island (1 of 51) Ah well, it should lift eventually, right?  The weather people were predicting a gorgeous sunny day in the San Juan Islands.  Hoping for as much time as possible on the island, we left camp around 7 and arrived at the ferry terminal in Anacortes before 8.  What I didn’t understand properly was how to interpret the ferry schedules, and after we paid $44 for our round trip fare, the cashier told us to get in line in lane 1 for the first ferry to Lopez that would leave at 10:30 AM.  Hmmm.

Lopez Island (3 of 51) I knew we were supposed to be in line an hour early, but two and an half hours wasn’t exactly on our agenda.  Especially in the fog.  There was a small coffee shop near the lines that advertised fresh hot coffee, but when I reached the cashier, they were out of coffee.  Just down the road, however, in the terminal building was another coffee shop and I didn’t mind the wait in line.  Not much difference between waiting in the car or in the terminal.  I picked up a couple of coffees and gathered a big stack of brochures for the islands.  It was the smartest move of the day, since there is very little phone service on Lopez, and my most useful find was an excellent fold out map of Lopez Island.  Our day would have been much more difficult without that map.

Lopez Island tour The fog refused to lift or lighten, and by the time we were actually on the ferry traveling west, the skies and the views were still completely obscured.  The fog was so dense that they had a person spotting at the front of the ferry to give notice to the bridge of any hidden obstacles.Lopez Island (5 of 51)

Arriving at the tiny ferry terminal at the northern end of the island, I was impressed with the number of bikers in their northwest gear that lined up to get off on Lopez.  With a more level landscape than the other major islands, Lopez is very popular with bicyclists.  Driving up that first hill off the ferry and as we continued south along the two lane roads toward “town”, it did not look level to me!  I was glad to be in a car.

Lopez Island (7 of 51) In the fog shrouded landscape, a visit to Holly B’s Bakery  was a perfect way to begin our tour of the island.  Kayaking in the chilly fog wasn’t big on the agenda.  Holly B’s was busy on this Saturday morning, and I must say that the cinnamon roll I purchased was perfect.  Dense and not too sweet filled with nutty goodness, it was my favorite kind of pastry.  Next to the bakery is the local bookstore, with both new and used books.  A “real” bookstore, and we spent some time perusing the shelves and enjoying the ambiance of the place with lots of other folks who were visiting Lopez on this foggy Saturday morning.

Lopez Island (6 of 51) I knew there was a Saturday Farmer’s Market but it ended in mid September.  A nice surprise was finding two small booths filled with fresh produce from the local farmers.  I bought some heirloom tomatoes, one called “the mortgage lifter” because the variety paid off someone’s mortgage.  Yum!  I also bought some kind of giant purple carrot that we sliced for carrot chips and some greens, some fingerling potatoes, and a couple of ears of tiny corn.  I should have taken out the camera a bit more, but the fog was dampening my photo spirits and I didn’t bother.

Lopez Island (38 of 51)Best part of the farmer booths was the young man running one of them who told me, “Just head south!.  The southern end of the island is in full sunshine right now.  I had to leave it to drive into the fog to come to market”.  Yayay!  It was already after noon, and in Lopez Village the fog was thick.

Following our trusty little map, we traveled south over the narrow and picturesque roads right into the sunlight shining across the beautiful pastoral landscape.  The forests are dark, but where the land has been cleared the light is gorgeous and the farms are lovely.

Lopez Island (9 of 51) Our destination was Mackaye Harbor, suggested by Laurel, who volunteered on Lopez for a couple of months, as a good place to kayak.  The skies were clear and the sun was gorgeous as we arrived at the boat launch, and the winds were almost non existent across the bay.  Perfect.  As warned, however, that water was cold!  I have heard since forever that kayaking in the San Juan’s requires good skills and either a wet or dry suit because of the cold water.  We had neither, but with the sunshine and light winds it seemed perfectly fine.

Lopez Island (13 of 51) For a long time it was perfectly fine.  The water was clear and the rocky shoreline on the north side of the bay provided interest.  Our plan was to head north along the shoreline, hopefully rounding the point toward Davis Bay.  The closer we got to the narrows, however, the rougher the water became and the swells although not bad,  I had no idea how bad they could get.  After all, it was Puget Sound, it was cold, the wind was coming up, and we had no wetsuits.  I have to say I got a bit wussy, and suggested to Mo that maybe we should head across the bay toward the southern shoreline rather than going farther out into the straits between Lopez and San Juan.

Lopez Island (27 of 51) Even though our time on the water wasn’t as long as expected, it was good that we turned around, because by the time we got back to the launch, the winds were rising considerably and I could see little fog fingers coming across the hills toward the south. Our kayaks are wonderful on lakes, even in the wind they track well, and we have managed mild currents in rivers and high waves on windy lakes.  Still, something about these waters gave me an inner chill and I didn’t want to push my luck.  Especially with Abby in Mo’s boat and that cold water. 

Lopez Island (30 of 51) Laugh if you will, but kayaking dark clear rivers in Florida with alligators on the shoreline didn’t create the bit of apprehension that I felt in the cold water of the San Juan’s.  I know I would like to go back again, maybe when the weather is a bit more predictable, if it ever is, and explore the many other bays and shorelines of the islands.  I might like to actually pay for a guided tour in a sea kayak with someone who understands how these waters work and then it wouldn’t be such an unknown.  Still, I am so glad that we managed to at least get on the water and that the fog cleared up enough in the afternoon for us to do it.

Lopez Island (31 of 51) The timing was all good, and we loaded up the boats and followed a different route back north to the ferry landing.  The ferry was scheduled to leave at 5 and we were in line by 4.  However, because of the fog, the ferry was delayed and we didn’t board until 5:30.  So again, our lovely tiny bit of afternoon on Lopez was bracketed by several hours of ferry time. 

The ferry  trip back to Anacortes, however, was clear and beautiful, with no fog to mar the view.  I again went outside to try for some photos, but that cold wind drove me back indoors.  I wasn’t dressed in fleece and windbreakers the way locals know how to dress.  We arrived home at Cliffside RV Park on Whidbey Island just at dark.

Lopez Island (45 of 51)Our day on Lopez was wonderful in spite of the fog and the delays, and I am so glad that we managed the trip.  I re-read Nina’s post about visiting the San Juan’s again recently, and can only say that she is so right about her suggestions.  It is incredibly spendy to travel on the ferries with a motorhome, and there are delays and weather to consider.  We will go back for sure, possibly to Orcas, possibly to San Juan, and will pay the big bucks to get the MoHo to a spendy campground on one of those islands and actually stay for a few days. 

Lopez Island (41 of 51)The islands are beautiful, the water is everywhere, I would love to have more time to go slowly and see more.  I am not sure when the weather would be best, I think that part may be a crapshoot, with summer fog a possibility and winter cold rains a complete deterrent. 

Lopez Island (48 of 51)We planned our exit from Puget Sound perfectly, leaving Whidbey Island early on Sunday morning and traveling the dreaded route north to Mt Vernon and I-5, skipping the ferries.  We passed right through downtown Seattle around 8 am, without any traffic to speak of, and were in Portland in mid afternoon as the traffic started picking up.  In the future, when we go back to the islands, our choice might be to stay at Fort Lewis on a Saturday night and drive north to Whidbey Island via I-5 early on a Sunday morning.  It could work, and then our only big ferry expenses would be getting the rig onto the islands.

Deschutes River (1 of 14) Spending the night in Beavercreek near Portland with Mo’s brother Dan and wife Chere was delightful.  Hookups on the driveway and a great Mexican dinner topped off our visit.  On Monday morning we decided that rather than taking boring I-5 and Highway 58 back home, the longer route over Mt Hood on Highway 26 would be beautiful.  Sunny skies and a nice rest stop along the Deschutes River mid morning gave Abby a chance to test the waters and us a chance to warm up a bit. 

Deschutes River (8 of 14) No big trips for the MoHo are on the agenda in the next few weeks, but I am heading east to Vermont in a couple of days for Jeanne’s wedding.  It will be my first time in Vermont, and from what I hear the leaves are waiting for me to get there before they fall.  Mo will be holding down the fort here in Rocky Point this time while I go off adventuring on my own. 

Lopez Island (25 of 51) Abby is still with us, still eating and doing OK for now.  She does sleep a lot, and now she pants loudly and snores even more loudly.  The vet said that is a common side effect of the prednisone.  But she is still here, she still is smiling, and still enjoying pets and hugs and Mo and I are appreciating the time we have with her beyond what the vet predicted.