Wednesday, August 15, 2018


DSC00012                                                 Downtown Portland, OR from Waterfront Park

After leaving Silverton we headed to Columbia River RV park in Portland, a 50 mile white-knuckle drive for Jim with all the traffic on 205 northbound. Why can’t people learn to merge without having to slam on brakes? And this was late morning. We can only imagine what it’s like during rush-hour commute times but this article gives you a good idea.

We spent two weeks at Columbia River in 2016 so I didn’t even take a photo of our site, but we actually got a decent spot in the back row. It would have been very quiet were it not for the constant planes flying overhead from the airport being so close to the RV park. Still it’s a very convenient place to stay if you want to take the MAX train into town, which we did twice last week, once for Jim to visit the ophthalmologist and the next day to the downtown farmers market.

Union Station, where we got off the train.


Some of you may know that Jim has Fuch’s corneal dystrophy, a hereditary eye disease that can only be treated with a corneal transplant when it progresses to the point where it impacts vision. He also has a severe dry eye problem which can affect the vision. Due to some problems with irritation and blurred vision about a month ago we decided to go to Portland so he could see the corneal specialist he went to in 2016. Fortunately the corneal dystrophy has not progressed over the past two years and the doctor said he would not recommend surgery at this time. He thought the problem was caused by a new type of artificial tears that Jim was trying, since he stopped using them a couple weeks ago and his symptoms improved. At least it gave us peace of mind that surgery was not imminent.

Ira Keller fountain with the Portland Plaza high-rise condos behind. You can buy a unit here for $450-$800,000 or rent one for around $2,500/month.


After his late afternoon appointment in the Nob Hill district, we stopped for a happy hour beer at Pints Brewing Co. in the Old Town district since it was close to where we had to catch the train, and it was one we didn’t try the last time. It was good although not great, but the people watching was entertaining since there was a large homeless camp right across the street.

We were impressed with the Saturday Portland farmers market our last time here so we took the train again the next morning to the lovely campus of Portland State University and the bustling market. It rained while we were wandering around but we had our rain jackets just in case, and it didn’t last too long. Between a loaf of bread and various fruits and veggies, our backpacks were bursting on the way home.

We took a round-about way back to the train to walk along the waterfront and the Saturday Market, the largest continuously operating open-air arts and crafts market in the country. It fills many blocks and is mind boggling that anyone buys all the junk that’s for sale there.


From along the Willamette River waterfront.



You can take a scenic cruise on the Portland Spirit.


Or pedal on the Brewbarge. Seems a bit pricey at $35-$40 per person and you have to bring your own beer, but we like the solar panels on the roof.


On Sunday morning we left Portland, driving 200 miles to Poulsbo, WA, taking back roads the last 100 miles to get away from the I-5 traffic, which was heavy but not horrible. We’ve avoided Seattle when previously in the vicinity, but this time decided to take the ferry from Bainbridge Island, which is why we stayed in Poulsbo at Eagle Tree RV Park, just eight miles from the ferry terminal. The RV park is one of the strangest we’ve encountered, with pull-through sites so tight we marveled at how people get their big rigs in and out. We were put in a back-in site on the perimeter which had much more space but was very unlevel. We ended up having to pull in to get reasonably level, which was fine since we used their very nice restrooms and didn’t need to connect to water or the dump.

Our site was well spaced from the neighbors but the pull-through spaces barely had room to walk between their slides.



We decided to visit Seattle since friends Jim and Allison, who are at an RV park in Issaquah, volunteered to be our tour guides and show us around. The ferry ride was pleasant but between the morning fog and haze from fires our view going over was not so good.

We were surprised at the size and comfort of the passenger area. No ticket is needed to board at Bainbridge but you have to buy one to get on in Seattle for the trip back. $8 for me, $4 for Jim being over 65.



Very hazy Seattle skyline.


It started looking clearer as we approached the dock.


We found Jim and Allison soon after we disembarked, and began our walking tour through Pioneer Square.

The Pioneer Building, completed in 1892 and at 94’ was the tallest building in Seattle until 1904. It once housed offices for a number of mining companies.



The Pioneer Square Pergola was constructed in 1809 as a stop for the Resler and James Street Cable Car Company. It’s been damaged by multiple truck accidents over the years but has been rebuilt or repaired since it’s a National Historic Landmark.

It’s a very elaborate structure.



Merchant’s Cafe, Seattle’s oldest restaurant, built in 1890.


Seattle, WA, Eagle Tree RV Park, Poulsbo

From there we headed down to the waterfront on our way to the Olympic Sculpture Garden, owned and operated by the Seattle Art Museum in downtown Seattle’s largest green space. Here are some of the pieces we saw. It’s all supersized art.

Seattle, WA, Eagle Tree RV Park, Poulsbo1




BNSF, who Jim worked for many years ago when it was just the Burlington Northern, has a main line that runs right by the sculpture garden. The turquoise globe is the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle’s first newspaper. The print edition was stopped in 2009 but it still continues as an online newspaper. The globe was designated as a Seattle Landmark in 2012 and donated to the Museum of History and Industry, with plans to refurbish and relocate it, although this has yet to be done.


On our way to the garden.




Allison and the two Jims ogling the boats.


The Edgewater Hotel was built in 1962 as a temporary building for the World’s Fair. In 1964 the Beatles stayed there while on tour, the only place in Seattle that would house them for fear of damage from mobs of crazy fans. There are famous photos of them fishing out the windows of their room, a practice no longer allowed. For a couple grand a night you can stay in the renovated suite they supposedly slept in. More modest rooms start at over $400/night.


Next up was a short walk around Pike Place Public Market. We couldn’t tolerate it very long due to the hoards of people. They were not throwing fish when we walked by, but I really didn’t want to see flying fish anyway.


A dizzying shot of the crowds. How anyone gets near the vendors to actually buy anything is a mystery.


We were able to get close to this fruit and I took a photo so I could remember to look up dragon fruit, lychee and rambutan. I would love to taste all three but wasn’t willing to pay $7 a pound for something we might not like.


This is the original Starbucks at 1st and Pike with the original two-tailed mermaid logo.


This is the line to get in, which went all the way down the block. Amazing. It was like the Voodoo Donut line in Portland. We passed at least a dozen other Starbucks while walking around town where you could get the same coffee with no waiting.


Jim, Jim and Allison.


Jim, me and Jim.


We ended up eating lunch at Jim and Allison’s favorite hot dog stand, Dog In The Park, where we had a vegan tofu Italian dog with grilled onions and cabbage. It was really good. Not sure we could find our way back there but I think it was near Nordstrum’s flagship store. Allison took us through the cosmetic department to have a look at the employees. I wasn’t going to take a picture and I won’t tell you what we saw, but if you’re ever in that neighborhood it’s worth a quick walk-through to check it out.


Interesting architecture of the public library.



We loved this billboard we saw on the way back to the ferry terminal.


We walked almost eight miles and it was so nice having our very own guides so we didn’t have to worry about getting lost. It was a long but fun day. Allison kept telling us we had to have a cup of coffee since we were in Seattle, so we got one on the ferry going back. It felt good to sit back and relax with our beverage while the ferry took us back to the car. Adios, Seattle.


We are now in quiet Chimacum and done with cities for awhile. We will have to decide soon whether to scrap our plans for Jasper and Banff next month due to all the fires and smoke in the northwest and British Columbia. But if we do that, then where do we go? This full-time RVing is getting much more challenging as time goes on.


  1. Oh to be a young feller of 65 again. Yep I am having trouble deciding on a next place to go after 11 years on the road. But I also have no interest in totally settling in a single place.

    1. We feel the same. It's hard to think about settling down permanently anywhere.

  2. Great tours:) We were in Portland last year on the Lewis and Clark caravan but did not see much with all the rain we had. Did get a great tour of Seattle from a friend who lived there. The line at the Starbucks was way to long for me to get in:)

    1. Seattle was nice but we like Portland better and can see the attraction for living downtown in one of those nice high-rises.
      I marvel at people who wait in lines for things like coffee or donuts.

  3. Great blog that touches a few old memories. Way back we had a high school formal that the Edgewater, surprised it's still there! I do not go back the those old spots often so 'thanks for the memories'. We hope to do Jasper/Banff next year - hope the fires are contained by then and there's still a reason to visit. Looking forward to your next destination.

  4. We had to change our Canadian Rockies plan one year due to forest fires and smoke everywhere, including Canada. We made it to Montana, then bailed and headed to the Pacific where onshore breezes kept the smoke at bay. Hazy here lately so l've substituted swimming more and hiking less...doing 4 to 5 miles a week. Man-Boobs less saggy now :).
    Good Luck, guys. Can't believe you've been full time for, what? 10 years or more???

    1. We aren't giving up on Canada yet but it isn't looking good.
      Yes, full-timing almost 10 years now. We still can't believe it's been so long.

  5. Don't be in a hurry to to cancel plans due to smoke. Under the proper conditions. the smoke mught be blown out overnight.

    1. British Columbia is on fire and the smoke is blowing right over the Canadian Rockies but we will keep watching and see what happens before we decide.

  6. Read your big the time.We have a lot here in the SKP park.We will come by and say hi.We are Sam and Carolyn

    1. Great! We're at site #8. Look forward to meeting you.

  7. No offense Rodger, but if you look @ inciweb this time the smoke is going to be around till snow-time..
    They moved the P-I Globe from the building up on Broad st some years back, where would they put it now?
    I was born in Seattle and it is now horrible, I can only stand it for 3 days, then I'm out'a there..
    Only two murders last night..No kidding...

    1. I'm afraid you're right about the smoke hanging around a good while.

      I can understand why three days in Seattle are plenty for you. Too many people, too much traffic.

  8. The Herb Store in Albuq recommended Triphala for dry eyes. It's helped ease the pain in mine. Cheap too. You make a tea with it and use it to soak your eye(s).

  9. Thanks for the tour of Seattle! We avoid the waterfront because of the crowds but now I'll make sure we get down to the sculpture garden on our next visit. :-)

    1. You would enjoy the Sculpture Garden. That part of the waterfront was very quiet compared to down by the market.

  10. Cities are exciting and interesting to visit, but they get old fast!

    I was wondering if you were headed to Northern Cascades National Park...perhaps that's an alternative? I remember you really liked it...

    1. We like visiting cities but can't tolerate them for too long.
      Sadly it's smoky in the North Cascades, too. It's hard to escape it this summer.

  11. Super glad to hear that Jim's eye problem has not accelerated - always such a worry. We had similar good news yesterday in Tucson.

    Downtowns - Portland and Seattle - I'm glad you went there so we don't have to! ;-> We always took a wide berth around both cities with plans to go there - SOMEday! Your lovely pictures have obviated that need.

    Do they still have the floating homes communities in Portland?

    Virtual hugs,


    1. Glad you got some good medical news. Hope that means you can do some traveling again.

      Yes, there are still floating home communities in Portland, in fact there is one not far from Columbia River RV park.

  12. We really enjoyed our time in Seattle. We stayed in a nice fairly wooded park that wasn't too far from the city. We were there in mid June so the crowds weren't bad at all. Our daughter came for a visit so we frequented Pike Place Market several times. We love the fish market with the flying fish. There is a teaching video that is shown at many inservices with the employees throwing the fish. The dungeness crabs and halibut were amazing. Being Starbucks snobs wasn't enough to get us to stand in the line at the original store. We went up the street a block. The original Starbucks gives you a cup with the first logo which I believe is the draw. Nice to have friends as a guide. Parking is major $$$$!

    I have dry eyes, as well, since spending so much time out west in the dry air. Amazingly, I didn't hardly have any problems back east. The same things happened with my sinuses. I do believe my nose and eyes prefer the humidity. But it's not happening!! I'll suffer through:)

    I sure hope you are able to get Jasper and Banff. It's a trip that will jump to the top of your list as a favorite. I am glad we found that place we wanted to settle. I was getting wry of planning trips. It is nice to have some time to relax and not worry about where to next. But we are back to planning since we will be back on the road for Sept/Oct.

    Hope our paths cross soon! Fingers crossed you get to Canada!

    1. Jim didn't have dry eye problems when we lived in Florida but just not sure we could tolerate living in that humidity again.

      Being such a big fan, I wondered if you would have waited in line to get in the original Starbucks.

      I do hope the smoke eases up and we can get to Jasper and Banff in September but we aren't getting our hopes up.

  13. Glad to hear the good news about Jim's eyes. We really enjoy city adventures mixed in with our outdoor adventures, in moderation. Thanks for the tip on the RV Park in Poulsbo. Taking the ferry into the city sounds perfect! (We've done the same in San Francisco and New Orleans, and loved it.)
    So sorry that you won't be able to go to the Canadian Rockies this year—we were considering the same trip, or Glacier, but both are out because of the fires and smoke. So we're staying on Lopez through mid-September, and then heading down the coast. I fear that fire/smoke season in the west is something we're all going to have to adjust to. We still have a home in Ashland, and the smoke hasn't let up since mid-July. I'm glad we're not there, but it's horrible for our friends who are. :-((

    1. Taking the ferry is the way to go but our friends are able to take a bus from Issaquah right to downtown Seattle. Parking is hard to find and very expensive but it doesn't seem to deter people from driving around town.
      You're lucky to be able to stay on Lopez since the alternatives are not looking good. It's hard to find anyplace to escape the smoke in the summers anymore.

  14. Thanks for sharing your Seattle tour. We are headed there for the first time in a few weeks to meet up with a visiting family member and I often struggle with how to best explore cities. You post inspired me to make a few notes: bypass the flying fish and don't miss the sculpture garden. Good luck avoiding the smoke. We thought staying near the coast would keep us out of the worst of it, but even way out here on Olympic Peninsula, things have gotten bad the last few days.

    1. We just can't believe how hazy it is here in Chimacum/Port Townsend. Hope it eases up a bit over the next few days. When we were here in 2014 we lucked out with beautiful weather.
      Seattle is an interesting city and there are lots of things to do other than just walking around like we did, but it was fun for our first time there. I'm sure you will have a good time!

  15. So glad to hear that Jim is not looking at surgery anytime soon. We love taking ferries and did so quite often this past trip of ours. Keeping our fingers crossed that you will still be able to get to Canada, although looking at the weather, it really doesn't look promising, does it?

    1. No, sadly I don't think visiting the Canadian Rockies is in our near future.

  16. I'm sure glad to have visited both the Portland and Seattle markets decades ago. And I thought they were crowded then. Tried Dragon fruit recently and was disappointed, rather tasteless and didn't care for the texture. Had Lychee in South Africa and they were delicious. Never even heard of Rambuton. Cities are OK, briefly. This smoke is limiting travel almost anywhere. Think I'll stay in Yarnell where we are, knock on wood, currently smoke free. Glad to hear Jim's eyes are holding.

    1. If I ever see lychee for sale again I'll give it a try.
      You are lucky to be where you are and out of the smoke. It's very hazy on the Olympic Peninsula but we don't smell smoke (yet).

  17. As much as we love the beauty of nature, I'm really enjoying visiting some of the beautiful cities we have in this country. Thanks for sharing these! Both Portland and Seattle were so crowded when we were there we didn't get to enjoy it as much. Bummed to see the smoke is back again.

    1. The crowds do detract from trying to enjoy a city, but not having to drive in and park makes it a much better experience.