A state capitol visit and reconnecting with friends – Olympia, WA

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We were hoping to see some sunshine when we got back to the good ol’ USA on Sept 15th (my, that was a long time ago!), but it seemed like we had brought the same foggy dreary days that we experienced in Victoria, BC back with us.  I know, I know, there’s a lot of that in the Pacific Northwest 😉

Having emptied our refrigerator of all fruits and vegetables for the border crossing, our first order of business was grocery shopping and then we hibernated in Sequim as a storm passed through.  We were quickly overwhelmed by cabin fever and headed out for a 6-mile hike at Slab Camp Trail #838.  It was lined with a variety of mushrooms that seemed to love the wet weather:

From Sequim our southward migration continued to Olympia, the capital of Washington.  As you may guess we took time for a guided tour of the state capitol building.  We learned that it’s unique in that it was intentionally formed as multiple buildings on a “capitol campus”; it faces Capitol Lake, Puget Sound, and the distant Olympic Mountains.  It was intended to be seen from afar as a single large structure supporting the dome of the Legislative Building at its center:

The Legislative Building and Justice Building as seen from Capitol Lake

The state is named after the first president of the United States, and no doubt he would be pleased that the state seal featuring him is found not only on the rotunda floor but throughout the building as decorations on railings, doorknobs, furniture, and curtains.  It lacked the historical artifacts and striking works of art we’ve seen in other capitol buildings, and our tour guide advised that a simplistic, sparse atmosphere is exactly what was intended.

The rotunda holds four statuesque fire pots in its corners that replicate ancient Roman signal lights, with the state seal and a bust of George Washington overlooking it

All the original lighting designs inside and out were created by Tiffany, including an ornate 5-ton bronze centerpiece chandelier made by artists in New York and shipped via railroad.

Looking up

After the tour we followed paths around Capitol Lake while viewing the colorful urban setting of downtown Olympia and its wooded hillsides surrounding the capitol building.  We ended our walk at Percival Landing.

View of Capitol Lake as seen from the hilltop campus

Can you spot the tourist?

That evening we were invited to dinner at Ed and Sharon’s beautiful home.  We first met them by chance at Tybee Island, GA last fall and at that time they invited us to visit them should we happen to be in Olympia.  Here we were a year later, happy to see them and enjoy a wonderful meal…

…and the view from their home!

The Capitol Building at the south end of Budd Inlet

I was flabbergasted upon seeing Mt Rainier from their backyard!

We had a delightful happy hour and dinner while getting to know them better.  This is what makes the RV lifestyle so awesome, meeting people on the road and forging friendships along the way.  We had a wonderful time, thank you Ed and Sharon!

Sharon, Steve and Ed

We also connected with my old friends Erwin and Estrella.  Erwin is a friend from college, and Estrella and I were co-workers at a bank in the Philippines.  What’s really heartwarming is that Erwin asked me in advance what Filipino food did I crave that he could cook and bring with them on their visit.  I haven’t seen this guy since my college days, and now he’s bringing us food – not one, but two potfuls of deliciousness!  He’s a great cook, and our tummies were very happy that night.

It was so good to see them again and spend several hours reminiscing about good old days back in the Philippines. “Daghang Salamat, magkita na pud ta puhon.”

All that good food prompted us to search for a trail to burn off some calories.  Tumwater Falls Park was a few miles from our site at American Heritage Campround.  We followed a scenic loop trail along the Deschutes River and three cascading waterfalls, with interpretive signs featuring images that illustrate the history of the area.  The Olympia Brewing Company was built at the lower falls in 1906, and they claimed to brew the best beer on the west coast.  The waterfall we saw during our hike was displayed on their cans for decades:

Tumwater Falls

Olympia Beer – there’s the waterfall!

The final stretching of our legs on this stop was at Millersylvania State Park, nestled in broad stands of old-growth cedar and fir trees.  The Miller family gave the 842-acre property to the state in 1921,  stipulating that it must forever be used as a park.

Buildings such as this one were constructed in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, almost entirely by hand

Old-growth fir trees were plentiful

Millersylvania means “wooded glade”

And with that we continued on to Oregon!

 

Next up:  Yet another state capitol visit and new friends



 

A Small Town With a Western Flair – Winthrop, WA

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Our destination in north-central Washington was the little town of Winthrop, located in the northern portion of Methow Valley along North Cascades Highway 20.  It’s surrounded by incredible vistas, ranch lands and soaring mountains.  Our one-week stay was at Pine Near RV Park, only a stone’s throw from downtown Winthrop.  Once we got hooked up it was time for a walk there to check it out:

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A whirlwind week!

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After our week at the Columbia Gorge, it  was time to take care of some “business” stuff.  This allowed us to be in three states and two countries in just a week – South Dakota, Oregon, Washington and back to BC, Canada!

When we embarked on our full-time RV lifestyle, we had the opportunity to choose any state to call “home.”   Of course, we cannot escape the realities of paying taxes and other financial matters.  In our research we found that South Dakota is an RV-friendly state where vehicle registration and taxes are not sky-high like California where we resided previously.  So, after dropping Betsy off at Dave and LJ’s RV Interior Design in Woodland, WA to have the modifications installed that we measured with them in May (new recliners and a mini-office for the blogmaster), we caught a flight out of Portland to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This was for the sole purpose of getting our SD driver’s licenses and finalizing our residency there.  Our CA licenses would have expired in February, but we sure as heck didn’t want to go to SD in the middle of winter.  By 8:00am the next morning we had our new licenses, and after a late breakfast we were able to catch early flights back to Portland and made it before sunset.  Mission accomplished!

Sioux Falls Airport

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Portland, OR

Portland,OR with Mt Hood as the backdrop

We picked Betsy up the next day, thrilled with our new recliners and beautiful woodwork installed by LJ.  We drove to a nearby RV park (Columbia River Front RV Park) and went to bed early so we could get up at 3:30am for our drive to Seattle.  You see, we were bummed that we had not had a chance to visit Victoria, BC on our trip through Vancouver in June, so Steve threw together a 2-day trip up there via the fast-ferry out of Seattle.  We will talk about our trip there in a future blog, but suffice to say it is a beautiful city and we had a great time there and enjoyed fantastic weather!

Dave and LJ's RV Interior Design

Dave and LJs in Woodland, WA

Dave and LJ's RV Interior Design

BEFORE

Dave and LJ's RV Interior Design

AFTER

So that was the Lowe’s jet-set week.  Next we move on to Harrisburg, OR for a repair of the RV’s pneumatic system and then to Grants Pass for a check of the suspension upgrades to make sure everything is OK after our rough drive over the Canadian and Alaskan roads.