By entering the USA on 2nd Oct 2016 at Peace Arche, Blaine, I entered the state of Washington – not to confuse with the city Washington, D.C. (District of Columbia). I had not filled my car in Vancouver, Canada, because I remembered that the fuel is cheaper in the USA. Anyway I did not make a good deal. Actually I filled my car at the first gas station behind the border, that means, that the fuel here was more expensive than later on. Anyway I needed a restroom. It was a sunny and really warm day – a “t-shirt-day”.
I hade planned to stay a night in Seattle for taking a look at the city. Too far away, before the town, there was a very good rest area (Silver Lake Safety Rest Area), where I could have stayed over night. By the long distance I decided to drive into town. I used my GPS, but it was hard to follow. There are up to six files in one direction and it is difficult to change file, when you are not used to which change you have to do soon. They won’t let you into the right file, especially not, when you have to cross more than one. However I found a tourist information centre and followed the instructions of the assistant. I had asked her for the more unusual sightseeing places, but I found out – too late – that she had marked the very usual ones, e.g. the Space Needle – the Seattle landmark and tourist attraction. She did neither tell me, where to park nor did she recommend a P&R-car park, though I have got the impression, there is not such a system in Seattle. Downtown, where the tower is situated, there are lots of “one way”-streets and I could neither come really close to the tower nor find a car park close to it, most of the car parks are private – for companies or government departments. After three or four turns in the closer and more far away area I gave up. I thought, it might be like my former host Cindy told me: Seattle is not trip worthy.
For more photos of the Silver Lake Rest Area click here!
I had hoped, that I will find a couch in Seattle and by that a guide for the city and a place for my car, but nobody of the five hosts, I had asked (one after one), could help me resp. they did not answer. Though I decided to leave the chaos of this city. I found a place to stay close to the airport. It was one of the recommendations from the site: freecampsites.net. The recommended place was a very little park. It did not have a loo, so little it was. There was a car park, but not allowed to use during the evening and night and only for two hours during the day. One had to park on the street. The most of the places were already occupied by locals and a RV resp. truck with rv-trailer in very bad conditions. It was dark and quite late, though I parked on the street. The area had the name Georgetown and the community tried to upgrade it, but there were old store buildings, not in use anymore, which made it uncomfortable. Anyway there were occupied buildings of mostly restaurants of the upper class. There were a Chinese supermarket in the area, too, but that was already closed. I decided to eat at an Italian restaurant, bar and pizzeria. It was very nice furnished for a pizzeria and the pizza was really Italian – like I had eaten one in Rome, but it was also very expensive. The pizza itself was huge and had a price of $17. I also ordered a Tiramisu for $8. I drank only water and it was filled constantly. The waitress was kind, even she hurried me by asking if all was OK, if I wished something more etc. I left $30 for the meal, the dessert, the taxes and as a thank you, because I had charged my tablet up to 50%. Furthermore there restroom was very clean, which I appreciated. Back to my car I could not sleep a lot that night. The airplanes were the less bothering, but lots of trains and trucks were passing close to the place. If you have read my blog from Canada, you may remember the train in Saskatchewan I wrote about. These in the USA are of the same type and as noisy as them. – Later I wrote a comment on freecampsites.net, where I explained the situation of this “campsite” and wrote, that I could not recommend it. My comment was added to the text about this place.
For more photos of Georgetown click here!
3rd Oct I was up early, what means between 6am and 7am. I was going by car and with the help of my GPS to a supermarket, called Walmart, because I know, there is always also a McDonald’s, which means cheap, but good coffee. I paid $1 for the coffee and $0.10 in tax. I also used the restroom at this place and bought yogurt and other groceries at Walmart. I still did not find, that the prices in the US are lower than in Canada. I think it is almost more expensive in the States. While the exchange rate for 1 Euro is ~1.5 CAD, I only get ~1.1 USD for the same amount. I have been told of my Canadian host in Provost, that the prices in the States would be lower. I also had checked online the prices for a bed in a dorm and found one for $40 and one for $35 – at different places, which is much more expensive as I ever have paid.
It was a cloudy day and it started raining in the afternoon and continued the rest of the day. By lack of sunshine it was colder – exactly like it works in Sweden. I was looking for hwy 101, which goes along the West Coast or close to it. I found it with the help of my GPS, but unfortunately my battery got discharged afterwards. I had tried to charge it with the car adapters, but neither of them was working, though I had to find a place, where I can charge my tablet. I had lunch at McDonald’s and could charge the tablet somewhat – enough to find hwy 101. On this highway I later on saw a sign for a campground on hwy 101 in the Olympic National Forest. I followed that sign driving throughout a great nature. The road became a gravel road after a while, with deep holes. Therefore I did not really know, if I still was driving in the right direction. Another car was following me. He did it for a long while and I locked my doors, because I felt uncomfortable about it. After some km:s he drove another way, but later on, he was on the same campsite as me. This site was really far away from the hwy 101, though I arrived as late as 7pm and it was already dark. Only 6 lots were open. The others were closed for the winter. Anyway there were enough, eventually I could choose a site. There were a sign with instructions. Campers should put $14 in an envelope and depose that in a box, but I did not have cash enough and could not do it. I stayed anyway and I actually had only two meals this day (breakfast on the Walmart car park and the late lunch). It was still raining and cold, when I arrived at the campsite and it never stopped during the night.
For more photos of the hereOlympic National Forest click !
4th Oct I slept until 6:30am. I had slept all the night through, which is very unusual for me. It was still raining , though I only got dressed and used the loo, before I drove out of the forest. When I finally left the forest, it stopped raining, but it was still very cloudy. Later on I found a rest area with a washroom in the Dosewallips State Park.
For more photos of the Dosewallips State Park click here!
In Quilcene I bought a coffee at a gas station and it smelled already coffee, when I opened their door – just wonderful. I also took out cash at an ATM and was as usual charged a fee of $3. I’m not happy in the fees, but I don’t like to have a lot of cash, though I usually only take out $100 at a time and pay as often as possible by card.
I continued soon again and it did not take a long time before I found a reason to take another rest. It was the name of a creek I found funny: “Jimmy – comelately creek”. I also became aware totem piles. I found out, that those were a decoration of a casino, run by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. These Natives also have art and craft shops and more. The name of the place, were I was now, is Blyn – a village with around 100 souls, most of them of White origin. I was walking and looking around, because Natives still fascinate me. In a General Store I bought some souvenirs and I also bought one in a crafts shop. In addition to that, I read about the history of the Native tribe on the signs close to their meeting building.
For more photos of Jamestown click here!
My next stop was a little town called Sequim. I visited the tourist information and drove via the Dungerness Valley to the Dungerness recreation area. There was a Wildlife Centre asking for an entrance fee of $3 for a family of max. 5 people. Unfortunately it was the same fee for a single person. I do not like to pay for a whole family, when entering alone. If the entrance would have been by donation, I probably would have given $5, but because the rules, they did not get anything of me. I went back to my car instead and drove further.
For more photos of Sequim click here!
My next destination was Port Angeles. Actually it was the name, which got me interested in the town. I took a couple of photographs from some pretty buildings and the seaside / the harbour as well as I hade my lunch at DQ (Dairy Queen). Unfortunately it was not possible for me to make a good photo of neither the Court House nor the City Hall, which both are built in Victorian style.
For more photos of Port Angeles click here!
While driving further I tried to drive as close as possible to the seaside and also found one and another view-point, but it was cloudy and very windy – off and on it was raining, too, though I was soon back in the car again.
I passed the city of Forks. Even that name sounded interesting to me, but it was hard to find the visitor information. When I finally found it, I could not stop there. At the place a timber museum was situated, too. It looked interesting from the outside, but I continued on hwy 101 until dark at 7pm. Luckily I found a turnout, where I could park during the night. I listened to the music of my mp3-player for a couple of hours and hid me then in my sleeping bag.
5th Oct I awoke after a good sleep. The traffic had not bothered me, even it was more busy as I expected. At that time it was not raining anymore, but it started soon again. I was driving through a forest area, found a trading post, which announced showers and even a laundry, but it was closed. Disappointed did I continue, passing a closed grocery store. After a while I finally found an open gas station, where I bought a coffee and bread as well as a road map of Washington. I asked for the restroom, of course. It was outside and only a loo. I did not use it, because it was so dirty, totally disgusting! There was also a car coming without lights and without plate.
I was interested in to go to the place “Ocean Beaches”, but there were no sign about, how many miles away it is, though I continued via Hoquiam and Aberdeen to Westport. In Hoquiam I found a washroom and in Aberdeen I visited the tourist information, but it was Westport, where I spent more time. – A winery had a photo of a lighthouse. I found a library in this little town with very friendly and service minded people. They offered me to use my tablet in their meeting room, where I was undisturbed and also could charge my tablet. I also visited the port and tried to visit one of their State parks, but there was a fee to pay and the payment was only valid in the state of Washington. If I would have paid the fees in every state I came to visit, it would have been very expensive. Though I saved my money for the Yosemite and the Grand Canyon National Park. Furthermore I had brunch in Westport – I was very hungry at that time!
For more photos of Westport click here!
Raymond welcomed me with road works, which made it hard for me to visit the old Post Office – still in use. The city is proud of the building, because it is still in the settlers stile. The post boxes inside are wooden. All around the town as well as at the entrance to it, there are iron statues about the history of the town. I would have liked to make lots of photos of them, but buy the road work, I only could take one.
For another photo of Raymond click here!
Another stop I made in Chehalis, where I bought a hot chocolate, which I really needed. I was downtown. The area also must have had better days. The amazing thing was the library – with an entrance like for a palace, even the rest of the town did not seem to be very healthy. I bought a little Christmas gift for my grandchild Vincent in this town, surprised by the choice of toys one of the shops had, which even sold books and clothing.
For more photos of Chehalis click here!
I had planned to follow hwy 12, which I also did after a while, but it was hard to find – especially in the right direction. First I came to Centralia, bordering Chehalis. I knew, that I should not come there, though I turned around and just drove in the other direction. It was the only choice to do. After half an hour or even more I reached the junction with the hwy 12. Happily I used that untill dark, when I found a recreation area at Benin Lake Road.
6th Oct became a wonderful day even the weather was cloudy, but dry. I had taken a good choice, when I stayed there. The washroom was clean. I had my breakfast at one of the tables, but was longing for my daily coffee. Not so very far away I entered a place called Packwood. The little town was not special, but the coffee shop called “The Mountain Goat”. It was nicely decorated and they offered a lot of things of other crafts men like clocks, bags, you name it. This coffee shop seemed to be the meeting point for the people, living in the town.
For more photos of Packwood click here!
After I had enjoyed the coffee and a bacon cheese muffin, I was going further, but stopped at a scenic view-point. From this point I could see “The Palisades”, even it was very cloudy and drizzling.
For more photos of the Palisades click here!
After a while I came to the Mt. Rainier view-point. It had stopped raining and blue clouds were visible. However the top of Mt. Rainier was still covered with clouds. I had better luck at the White Pass ski area and took some more photos there.
For more photos of the White Pass Area click here!
Later on I stopped at another view-point in the Wenatchee National Forest, the Clear Creek Falls Overlook. That was not enough. Nature here around was so amazing. I did not remember it from school. The most I remember from geography was, that we had to learn names (of countries and their capitals) and the mineral resources as well as industries, farming and so on. We had only a few pictures in our bookes, but diagrams. The Tieton River, which the highway is following, is surrounded of mountains of different shapes. Every mountain peak is unique and very beautiful. The view changes dramatically from time to time. Unfortunately it was often not easy to find a place to stop and impossible to take photographs of the most beautiful scenery. Furthermore does a camera not see as much as me at the same time. It has narrow borders. Actually the views were distracting me while driving. I had to tell myself to keep my eyes on the road.
For more photos of the Wenatchee National Forest Area click here!
Close to the town of Naches the mountains became hills and the dramatic disappeared, but even the hills have their beauty – especially the rolling ones. The visitor information in Naches was closed for the season, the library for the day. Fortunately the café and restaurant “Sticky Fingers” was open. The interior was decorated with pots and pans. The waiter had no hurry, she changed table clothes etc. before serving me. I ordered pancakes with maple syrup. The pancakes were huge, thick and fluffy and nearly too much for me.
It was not far from Naches to Yakima and my first helpx host in the USA. I used the GPS to find the home of Avel and Tanya. Anyway the last 500m gave me a headache. When the voice of the GPS told me “you reached your destination” it was not true. I had to find out, where to drive, because there was another junction. I took the right decision and arrived a few minutes later at “The Dragons Lair”.
For more photos of “The Dragons Lair” click here!
The dogs were barking, however they wagged their tails. Though I parked my car on the yard and knocked the door. Nobody opened. I was looking in the garden, but could not find anyone there either. After a while Tanya’s son arrived, tired after his work – he starts very early in the morning. He let me in and was then looking for his Papi. Maybe I should name here, that the family is Jewish – but secularised. By the way Tanya is a fulltime teacher, Avel is officially disabled, but he does not see it that way. He is mentally very strong.
I was very welcomed of Avel. I mentioned, that my GPS told me at the wrong house, that I had reached me destination and he answered, that the numbering had been different a time ago. He told me to relax meanwhile we were waiting for Tanya. Avel himself did use his computer. When she came home, she prepared dinner and I gave her a hand. We cooked potato mash and chicken wings. A mixed salad was also served. During the meal we talked about eating chicken wings with fork and knife. At the end of the meal, tea was served. The evening was spent in front of the TV, but I checked the photos I had taken the last week. My host was early to bed, because they had to awake early next morning, but I was allowed to sleep as long as usual.
7th Oct I awoke around 7:30. When I checked my emails, I had got an answer from Studieförbundet Vuxenskolan (a kind of College) and they were interested in one session – Australia or New Zealand. I chose New Zealand, because I think it is a good country to start with and has been my first destination. After breakfast I started to clean the kitchen and was working with it between 8:30 to 14:15 with two breaks (one for 15 min and one for 30 min).
I have got a review of Cindy from Campbell River on helpx. It was a really great one. Around 4pm I drove with Avel to Tanya’s dance class in Yakima. She teaches children of different ages, nearly all Mexican, to dance. She told me, that it is a low-cost project and that they are happy, they could afford the special skirts for the kids.
She also told me, that she has in her class only Mexican pupils, but one, who comes from Iraq as well as the Mexicans come, go back and come again… The Iraqi girl is a bad learner, because the trauma she has. After the dance class finished, Avel and me followed Tanya and her daughter, who also is a teacher, to a pub called Warehouse, where we met other teachers for the weekly Friday afternoon gathering. No many – and all male – teachers were awaiting us. Tanya ordered Nachos for us and a coke for me, which never came. Though I bought my own, but got the money back, when Tanya had talked to the waitress.
On the way home, Tanya’s daughter followed in my car and Avel came home with Tanya. I asked her daughter (she has a very complicated name, is married to a Mexican guy and livs next door to Tanya and Avel). Therefore I know, she is a “stand by”-teacher. She covers sick teachers and for the moment she got a class for two month, because the ordinary teacher has got a baby. She asked about my children and was very easy to talk with.
Home at Avel’s and Tanya’s I cooked Swedish meatballs (2/3 minced beef, 1/3 minced pork), macaroni and carrots (graded). The whole family did like them and they were happy, that there is no sugar in the Swedish meatballs, because Avel is diabetic. After dinner I had a nice talk with Tanya before I was working with my blog, meanwhile she and Avel where watching TV. They enjoy movies I do not enjoy – with a lot of violence.
8th Oct I slept until 8am, but worked until 4:30 pm, even one could not really see all the cleaning I had done. During the afternoon I polished their Hanukkahs (the brass lighters they use, when they celebrate Hanukkah). Seamy was very surprised about it, but my opinion is, that items one honours his god with, should be cared about – whatever the god is called. For all the hours I have done that day, I was not allowed to cook. Tanya did it instead. We had beef, potato gratin and vegetables. I made company with Tanya meanwhile she was cooking and asked her, why they have two gas stoves. She answered, that they are for different kinds of gas. The one they use is for propane and the 500 liters propane tank is outside the kitchen (under one of the windows). Tanya also dried Jalapeños directly over an open flame on the stove, but the flame was so small, I did not see it. When I reached for a spoon, my fleece jacket took fire. I had not seen it, when Tanya screamed: “You are on fire!” She stopped it with her bare hands, but the jacket was not looking nice anymore. Though Tanya offered me a sweat jacket another helper had left behind. I wore it until I left some days later.
During the dinner I have been told, that there are six days only of work for a week and I should take the following day off. The rest of the evening was like the evenings before. I also told them, that I do not like movies with lots of violence and fighting. I was not offered to choose a movie, though I updated my blog.
9th Oct I was to the kitchen at 8am for a glass of water to take my medicine. Tanya was already cleaning the kitchen floor as well as the living room floor. Before breakfast I was on the Internet, looking for things to do in Yakima. There was not so much to choose from – most things just did not happen this day. The breakfast was as usual provided of my host: Yoghurt, cereals, coffee, toast. During breakfast I asked Tanya, if she could recommend me something to see and she named Toppenish for the murals as well as a walk along the river from Moxee back to her home. I decided to drive first to Toppenish and make the walk afterwards if I still have time enough before it gets dark. It was already around 11am when I finally got dressed and left the home.
I found the city of Toppenish very easily. Part of the way was scenic. Despite most of the cities it was easy to find parking space there and it was for free, too. Unfortunately it started drizzling soon, but I could take photographs of nearly all of the murals. They are all painted by locals. I visited even a Dollar Tree store, because it was close to Halloween and I was looking for a cheap thing for my car. I found window pictures in plastic, easily to fasten and take off again. The price was $1. On the way out off town I nearly passed the Yakama Nation Cultural Center, but stopped by. The museum as well as the shop were really interesting. I bought an 8-pack of postcards.
From the Cultural Centre I took another way back to the Dragons Lair. My next stop was in Zillah, were I took a photograph of the Teapot Dome Service Station. It is not in use anymore and has a very interesting history.
It was not dark at this time, therefore I decided to drive to Yakima to see the historic downtown. Even I have been in Yakima before, I have not had the opportunity to take a look around. Now I walked the historic streets, took some photos and filled my car. Actually the area is very small. – Back at my host’s it was TV-time again, but I also have been asked, what I have done and seen.
10th Oct was a sunny, but chilly day. I was cleaning more of the kitchen for four hours before lunch. Afterwards a new helper arrived. Her name is Chris and she is from the States. After finishing her studies, she started travelling, because she does not like the politics of the US. She has been in Europe and hopes she can go back to France for more studies or work. She is vegan, she told me, that she has allergies and is much better since she became vegan.
I baked a Swedish soft cake in the afternoon, called “mockarutor” (mocha squares). I apologised to Chris, that I made it with butter. I did not find margarine. I also told her, that there are eggs in it. Though it is not suitable for vegans. When Tanya was home, she told me, that Avel cannot eat of the cake, because I used sugar. When we were talking about, that I could bake a cake, Tanya was very positive to it and she had told me, that it will be fine for all the eggs, they have. She did not tell me, that I should make the cake with sweetener for Avel’s diabetes. Tanya told me, that she will save the cake for her mother in laws birthday.
I cooked “pytt i panna” (pot in the pan) with onion, sausage and eggs for dinner, but unfortunately the potatoes stuck in the non-stick pan. I took off a portion for Chris before I added the sausage. We had canned beets till – the closest we could come to the pickled beets we usually eat with this meal in Sweden. After dinner I put the icing and the Cocos rasp as topping on the cake. Then I went up to the room, where I sleep and updated my blog. After a while Chris and Seamy came up, asking me if that cake is for the grandma. I told them, that I only baked it and do not know, whom will have it, but there is only this one cake. Soon Tanya came up with a cup of warm, new pressed apple juice. A little later she came up again with a mocha square, she had eaten of and asked me, if I used Cocos flour instead of wheat flour, which I had not. She told me, that Chris was eating of the cake, because she thought, I had used Cocos flour. I understood, that Chris has celiac disease, but was surprised, that she had taken a square of the cake, even I had told her, it is not vegan. By the way, Tanya did not ask me, if I want a square, too.
11th Oct I awoke at 2:40am of my phone. I did not answer, anyway my sleep was interrupted and afterwards not good anymore. I awoke off and on. At 7:30 I took my medicine, but was so tired, though I did not get up at that time. Around 8am I ate breakfast and took a shower then. Therefore I was working from 9am to 2pm, with two short rests. Around 3pm I drove to Walmart in Yakima and bought a birthday cake and more. An hour later I was back at the Dragons Lair and continued cleaning for half an hour, before I was up to the bedroom again, updated my blog and wrote an email to a helpx host in San Diego, I earlier had been in touch with.
This day we have got a late dinner, which was pizza. I offered the cake as a dessert. When I was asked for the reason, I told them “because it is a year ago, I had the surgery” – we had talked about it some evenings before. I did not tell them, that it was my birthday. Later on I updated my helpx account as well as my couchsurfing and my BeWelcome account.
12th Oct it was freezing during the night, so did I. At 8am it was still only +1°C and the cars window screens were frozen. I checked the weather for Oregon. It was even colder there. Though I also checked the weather for the Grand Canyon and Nevada. Fortunately it was better for the Grand Canyon and in Nevada it was +30°C. I cleaned more cupboards this day and ate of the cake for lunch, because I did not find the rest of the pizza and Chris had taken care of the lasagna, for it could be unhealthy.
I used the afternoon to drive to the mountain, Tanya had told about several times and Avel told me, it is Mt. Rainier and the Chinook pass. It is really beautiful. One way I drove over the White pass again and back over the Chinook pass. The weather was not optimal, but the view much better, than the day I came to Yakima. I was close to enter Mt. Rainier National Park, but it looked closed and I turned around. Though I did not see the Paradise, which I have been told afterwards, is amazing. Back at the Dragons Lair, Tanya asked to see my photos. She also warmed me a convenient chicken pie from the freezer, because there was nothing left of the beans, they had eaten. Before going to bed all of us had a discussion about tea – drugs – marijuana – morphine. I gave a business card each to Tanya and Chris, as they asked for the address of my blog. Tanya took good-bye with a big hug. She will already be at work, when I will leave the upcoming day.
13th October it was raining and the day I left my host outside Yakima. I started as late as 10:15am and drove hwys 97 and 84. My first stop was in Goldendale, where I filled fuel, ate lunch on a car park and took a sightseeing trip throughout the city. The only impressive building I saw, was the museum.
For more photos of Goldendale click here!