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.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A Visit to Oregon Garden and the State Capitol


Silverton’s nickname is “Oregon’s Garden City,” so we had to visit Oregon Garden, an 80-acre botanical garden that features over 20 specialty gardens and 5 miles of walking paths. Jim debated on whether or not to join me since there is a $10 admission fee, but decided to tag along and was glad he did.


The current exhibit, Art in the Garden, showcases several local artists whose work is scattered about. There were some interesting pieces.






We spent two and a half hours wandering the trails, taking photos, and just enjoying the peacefulness. On Monday morning there were few others there.



Silverton, OR6





The conifer garden was really fascinating, with some one-of-a-kind evergreens collected from around the world.




On Tuesday morning we went to Salem to take a tour of the State Capitol building, after breakfast at Panera and some shopping at Lowe’s and REI. The legislature is not in session so it was easy to get around town and find parking.


Seems like every capitol we visit has scaffolding on top of it. This one is a bit unusual since the rotunda is topped by a 22’ sculpture of the “Oregon Pioneer”, aka the Gold Man.


This is one of those laid back Capitols where you can just walk in without even having to pass through security.

Interior ceiling of the dome above the rotunda.


Bronze Oregon State Seal on the floor.


House and Senate chambers.

Silverton, OR7

We arrived just in time for a guided Tower Tour, where we got to climb 121 spiral steps to the observation deck atop the Capitol and learn about the Oregon Pioneer statue. It’s a bronze sculpture with gold leaf finish representing the spirit of Oregon's early settlers. For anyone who’s interested, here is more information than you ever wanted to know.

Since part of the observation deck was roped off for construction we couldn’t get a front view of the man.


Here are the hazy views we had, thanks to all of the western fires.



This is the campus of Willamette University, founded in 1842 and the oldest university west of the Mississippi. The tour guide pointed out the tall trees on the right and said if you look up from the middle of them you will see a star.


Naturally we had to walk around campus after the tour and see if she was right. Here is the star from below the five giant sequoias, each about 150’ tall.


After our campus walk we continued on to the historic downtown where we found the typical shops and restaurants, and this mural on the rear wall of the Elsinore Theater paying tribute to Charlie Chaplin, Theda Bara, Marlene Dietrich, and W.C. Fields. We recognized the men but had to look up who the women were.


Although our decision to spend a week in Silverton was last minute planning, or lack thereof, it turned out to be a good choice and the time passed quickly with all there is to do in the area. I forgot to mention one more thing we missed because we were too cheap to pay the admission. Adjacent to Oregon Garden is The Gordon House, Oregon’s only Frank Lloyd Wright designed house. We just couldn’t justify $20 each for the tour, but it gets great reviews on Trip Advisor and I’m sure it would be an interesting tour for Frank Lloyd Wright fans.