Pre-Honeymoon Honeymooning on the Olympic Peninsula

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John and I were married on July 3rd this summer. It was 90 degrees. It was a beautiful ceremony, an amazing weekend full of family and friends, and it was great to be married right after the Supreme Court decision.

Prior to that, we sold my old house, moved into our dilapidated new home, designed, permitted for the remodel and moved out of the home, lived in our Airstream for 6.5 months on the property, did our business in a honey bucket, moved back into the house, had Thanksgiving, moved back out of the house, painted the interior, moved back in the house, finished it, remodeled the basement, and finished all the landscaping. Then I had a heart “incident” and then triple bypass surgery as John worked full time, while we planned and had a wedding for 100 guests. We have to thank John’s sister Fran for help through the roughest weeks.

We really needed a vacation, but I couldn’t do long flights yet. So we planned our pre-honeymoon honeymoon for the Oregon Coast and Olympic Peninsula in Margaret so we could bring Buster and enjoy some cooler weather. It was awesome.

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Our first two nights were at Nehalem State Park just south of Manzanita, which is a quaint little town south of Canon Beach and much less crowded. The beach was stunning, though the wind picks up mightily from 10am to dusk and then dies down again. The park was clean, well kept and the campsites quite nice though our drought has made everything look crispy. The campsite was very full so I recommend making reservations early.

Walking on the beach was sublime and we were shown the town by our friend, Sarah, whose family has owned a beach cottage there for years.

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The next day we drove down the coast leaving Margaret behind at the park and discovered the little seaside towns and coves along the coast. We had fresh crab at a little spot just off the highway. There are a few spots to do this, but we found this one not far from camp. Down past Arch Cape, Rockaway Beach, Bay City Garibaldi and then Tillamook we went to explore.

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The Oregon coast is, in a word, stunning. We stayed a couple of nights and then decamped for the Olympic Peninsula passing through Astoria on our way. I always love going over the bridge between Astoria and Washington. It’s an amazing sight.

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Our next spot was near Lake Quinalt Lodge at an RV camp right on the lake. It could not have been better although we were lucky as the camp was not nearly as crowded as we thought it would be.

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There, we met a few great folks, and we were able to wake up and walk Buster down to the lake and have our coffee while he played.

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We had an amazing and romantic dinner at Lake Quinalt Lodge. The food was terrific including a Brie appetizer that was delicious. The lodge is as rustic as they come and takes you back to the early logging days. You could see from the old photographs how many trees they felled around the lake and how they’ve re-populated the lakeside with them.

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The Lake Quinalt area does boast the largest Fir and Sitka Spruce trees and we took a hike along the trail where you could really see the old growth and then where trees were sheared during the hurricane force winds of 10 years ago.

The next day we drove down along 101 to explore our next planned camping spot at South Beach and took one look at the overcrowded campsite full of box RVs and ATV’s and dirt bikes and every other loud toy and decided to stay those nights back at Lake Quinalt and just hang out. We felt we’d discovered paradise on accident and didn’t want to break the spell.

To Beach 3 we went and explored the tide pools and rocks. Low tide revealed thousands and thousands of sea anemones, mussels and eaten razor clams.

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After the beach trek, I was pretty much toast; worn out from traveling, hiking and such, my body just stopped and my heart was telling me to slow down so John and I just drove out to the Hoh Rainforest and I rested in the car while he took control. We lunched at Kalaloch Lodge, which was surprisingly good! It is another one of the classic old lodges that was built with a 180 degree view of the Pacific Ocean. The trees are windswept, and the cabins sit on the edge of the cliffs overlooking a small cove.

It was beautiful as we drove up into the Rainforest and strolled along the Hall of Mosses. Since rain had not fallen for weeks and weeks, the mosses were not as brilliantly green as usual, but you could see how, during a typically wet year, how emerald colored it could be. We went slow through the trees and the trail was mostly flat so I navigated it pretty well given how tired I was. I am looking forward to being on the other side of this healing process.

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Returning, we met Malcolm and his dog, Sheena, who stayed with us for a night. Malcolm taught us Cribbage and Buster wore himself out running around with a much younger woman/dog.

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We then ventured up into the Quinalt canyon to Grave’s Campground and stumbled upon Barry, the camp host. Man, he could talk! A crusty old fellow who was suspicious of me since I was eyeing his sewer line from his trailer and wondering where it was going off to and I was asking him about it. He then said he had PTSD from the Vietnam War so I kept quiet. It was a really interesting interaction.

We also were impressed with the backing skills of a fellow streamer who had the best spot in the entire campground along the Quinalt River. It was simply amazing how he shoehorned the vintage Airstream in. The woods were beautiful as the sun was setting and light raked through the trees.

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The next day it rained, Malcolm left, and John and I were content to hang in camp and relax and read as we’d planned to leave the following morning for the Macah Indian Reservation and Cape Flattery.

The drive up to Cape Flattery and our campsite was beautiful as we followed along the coast much of the way. Stopping in Forks, we encountered the oddest, but coolest grocery/hunting/outdoor wear/fishing and general goods store you could ever hope to see. Awesome sandwiches, too!

We almost took the Twilight Tour, but John held me back. We are on Team Jacob, but a friend of mine is still Team Edward. Almost bought the t-shirt, but resisted that, too.

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On through Neah Bay and up to find our RV camp with some of the best views of the ocean one can see. It’s on the Macah Indian Reservation and is first come, first serve. You need a $10 permit to be in the reservation with an RV. We were the last ones to pull in and lucked out and got a spot for a full hook-up. In the picture, you can see the camp from the rocks. The clouds were coming in, rays of light shone through followed by the sliver of a sunset at the point. It was truly spectacular to see.

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The walk down to Cape Flattery was mostly on a boardwalk built for rainy days. The views out to the ocean, the craggy cliffs and swirling tides made for a terrific checkmark off John’s bucket list.

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On a side note, we picked up some smoked salmon in Neah Bay at a tiny little shack off the main road. There’s a sign that just says Fish so we followed it. Inside sat about five people while one guy manned the cash register. We were offered a taste and it was delicious, the Salmon jerky not so much. But we bought some and brought it home. We also tasted some salmon that had been traditionally cooked over an open pit on skewers that some women were selling for a fundraiser. It was some of the best salmon I’ve ever tasted.

The next day we drove down 112, which is one of the windiest and hardest to navigate roads pulling an Airstream. But the views are spectacular and you follow along the Strait of Juan de Fuca all the way to Port Angeles. There are some tasty RV camps along the way that we want to return to, but we had reservations at the Elwha River RV Park.

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When we arrived, we were amazed at how nice the park was. Full hook-ups, somewhat narrow, but level pull throughs, very clean laundry facilities and a location that can’t be beat. The staff was also pleasant and easy to talk to. We were to stay for 3 nights to explore all around the area, but had to leave after the 2nd night because we were put close to the septic tanks and the smell from them was extremely bad and overpowering – so much so that both of us couldn’t sleep the second night. We asked after the smell and were told they didn’t have the proper filters, and they’d only owned the park 5 months. If it were me, I’d be fixing that right away because we just simply couldn’t stay there any longer and won’t go back unless we are assured it’s fixed.

But as we arrived, our friend Merideth texted us and let us know she was arriving with 5 pounds of clams from Taylor Shellfish so John and I went to a great market nearby (Haggens) and bought chorizo, onions, tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. We steamed the clams up and they were delicious.

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Meredith joined us the next day for a trip to Lake Crescent and to see the lodge on the way to Sol Duc Hot Springs where we soaked a bit. The lodge and lake were beautiful, but the hot springs were a bit of a disappointment. I don’t know if I was just tired that day, or there were too many people or that the pools weren’t what I was expecting, but it’s not a place I’d return to. I’d opt for a more natural surrounding or a place where there are less people. The lodge, however, was rustic, the surroundings lovely and the view across the lake quiet and peaceful. The water is clear and cold and reflects the surrounding trees and sky perfectly.

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We ended the day by heading up to the top of the Elwha River where they blasted the dam away to restore the river to salmon and reverse the damage done at the beginning of the 20th century. It was amazing to see how the river has cut through the valley even though we’ve had two low water years. The falls down through the shoot are spectacular and it was a very moving moment for me to see what can be done for the good of our ecosystem rather than greedily destroy things.

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The next morning we went to where the Elwha River meets the ocean and was astonished at how decades of silt had created a huge beach, and how the river had carved its way through it. We spent a fair amount of time there and Buster had a great time swimming down the current and to the ebb.

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Then on up to Hurricane Ridge, a place that John really wanted to see. I’d been there when wildflowers blanketed the ground, but this time the dry grasses were a perfect complement to dissecting lines of green and blue. We spent awhile just looking out across the horizon at the line of mountains, the threatening sky dissipating and the sun rising in the sky. It was the perfect ending to an incredible 11 day journey seeing our beautiful state. Now that fires are destroying the landscape and people’s lives in Eastern Washington, this trip brought into focus how lucky we are to live in such natural beauty. We know that the land will repair itself and were lucky enough to see that rivers can be reborn, too.

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Landscape changes every day – sometimes in an instant and much of it over eons. Our trip was but a snapshot – a blip on the radar of time and we were lucky to share it together with Buster and some new and old friends. This trip served as the start of our marriage and was so indicative of the easy way we are with each other given all we’ve been through during the past two years.

Many people have asked me how marriage has changed me. It’s very simple really. I feel settled for the first time in my life, which has not been an easy one. But I know John will be there at the end of the day, I know he’s there when he’s clear across country, or making children’s lives meaningful through music. I am settled, finally, 54 years into a life that could have ended just a few months ago. I consider myself one very lucky (and happy) husband. And if we leave our lives as two halves of a whole, on a beach sustaining the lives of other beings, well that will be fine with me.

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Onward….

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Traveler’s Rest, Florida

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Just outside Dade City, Florida is a place where Airstreams and their owners thrived and co-mingled. Developed by Jake Busch, a member of the Tampa Bay Unit of the Wally Byam Caravan Club, Traveler’s Rest was initially funded by Airstream enthusiasts who invested $500 a share and raised over $80,000 to help secure a site. Jake Busch scoured Florida for a beautiful location that could fulfill the dream he had of providing an Airstream Park for wintering travelers.

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He found it near Dade City, adjacent to the small towns of St. Joe and San Antonio; the are know as the “Florida Alps.” In 1972, the property was secured, volunteers helped clear brush, install drainage and water, and prepare sites for silver bullets to nestle in together for warmer winters. Wells for drinking water were drilled and a sewage treatment plant was planned and eventually built.

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Unfortunately, a corrupt contractor took advantage of the park builders and nearly bankrupted them right off the bat. Jake Busch stepped in and pulled the plug on him, but not before he and others paid him off. By 1973 part of the park was finished along with Busch Hall, which houses everything from church services, arts and craft fairs and, of course, the traditional Airstreamer’s pot-luck.

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As is the custom of ‘streamers, much of the work done was facilitated by volunteerism, and several things available today, like the front office, pool, snack area, and Busch Hall floor were the result of loans given for the cause. There was much trust and fellowship as they built out the cabanas, maintained the grounds and enhanced the park. By the end of the ‘70’s most all of the Village lots were sold as well as about 100 mobile home lots were occupied. Traveler’s rest was now a wonderful destination spot for ‘streamers and winter “snowbirds” that wanted a community.

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The golden years from the mid-70’s through the 80’s began. Tennis courts were built, Mirror Lake was created and a new golf course added. They were all enormous projects that today form the beauty that makes Traveler’s Rest unique. In 1986 the TR Times was begun by a retired newspaper editor and continues to this day.

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Can you imagine lines of silver trailers gleaming in the Florida sun? If you go to some of the larger Alumaevent rallies around the country, you might get the idea. But Utopia for Airstreams couldn’t last. Unfortunately, Airstream began developing a line of motor coaches that were strictly outlawed at Traveler’s Rest due to a clause prohibiting motor homes of any sort so that sight lines wouldn’t be ruined.

Additionally, Jake Busch was disheartened following a particularly nasty town hall meeting in his own hall. His dream sullied, Jake Busch passed away in 1993.

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Several “founders” stepped down including the park manager. Airstream sales began to decline and fewer trailers came to Traveler’s Rest as the elder ‘streamers declined. Discontent bread defections and many people simply left. Maintenance and park repair fell as money and interest dwindled and Traveler’s Rest was on the verge of collapse until the bylaws were changed admitting RV’s with other brands were allowed to stay. A renaissance of Traveler’s Roost was underway.

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As we walked around the park, we were greeted by a friendly wave from everyone. And I mean everyone. The sense of community was palpable, and while Airstreams still dot the landscape with newer and older models existing side by side sometimes, the other RV’s fit in well with the landscape in the various sections.

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We particularly liked the area of Cabana’s that were placed next to the Airstream offering what is known as a “Florida room” for residents to enjoy. Airstreams were next to mobile homes, or rested under canopies of Spanish moss covered oak trees.

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The gardens are well maintained by friendly Garden Club volunteers we met. The hall was bustling with church services, the golf links were busy and several people were out for walks with their dogs. They even have an off-leash area. Mirror Lake is now a bucolic view from the wood-planked walks and trails; wildlife teems along its shores.

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John and I now know a place to bring “Margaret” that will be close to his mom’s and provide us with a community of ‘streamers and RVer’s alike, but also that promise of a hookup for electricity and sewage for our longer stays. We are looking forward to our first trip across country!

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Roman, Josephine (John’s Mom) and John

Note: Much of the information on the park in the above article was taken from their history PDF available on their website here: http://www.travelersrestresort.com

Five Weeks Down – Fireworks Edition

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While a short week, this was an eventful one in which we saw the raising of the top floor so we could see how the master bedroom, our offices and the bathroom will take shape.

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Monday, the rest of the main floor exterior walls were finished, and the beginning of work on the upstairs. John returned home to a lot of changes and was amazed at the work that had been done in the week he’d been gone. It was fun to see the excitement he had for the house.

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Our framers, Ivan and Leo, worked in the blazing sun on Tuesday, our hottest day yet here in Seattle, and built two walls that were raised first thing Wednesday morning. It’s interesting to see how they are melding the very old frame with the new, and making the house very strong to withstand a new roof that is being built.

Working with the contractor proved stressful this week, particularly for John. As project management goes, there has been very little of it to be seen given we are on the property almost all the time. Luckily, Ivan, the lead framer, is very detailed, asks questions of us, and works diligently to make sure that things are done right.

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We spent a lot of time looking at cabinets and picking out countertops only to read incredibly negative reviews of the cabinet companies we’ve visited so far. It’s kind of a bummer. So we’re back at square one on that front.

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We also found some tile we like and are excited that our neighbor, Steve Branca, has agreed to do it. He’s a master craftsman and was my direct neighbor for 10 years.

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For me, I’m totally clueless about some things and was happy for John’s return to figure out the leak we had in the Airstream within five minutes. We also rolled out the awning so the Airstream would stay cooler for Buster when we were out scouting cabinets and such. It’s worked beautifully and has added a lot of shade to our camp/home site.

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Today, the Fourth, we woke to have coffee on the Sky Deck with Buster. We’ve set up some makeshift barriers so that we felt better about Buster’s curiosity. We also spent a few hours cleaning the house’s floors with the shop vac to mitigate the dust and debris. We were disheartened to hear from our neighbor just down the hill that the company she hired for their remodel cleaned up every single day after work. That’s not the case here.

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I’m constantly amazed at how many people tell us that doing a remodel greatly tests a relationship. John and I have been at this for nearly a year now and are stronger for it, even much closer. We work through our choices and disagreements easily and with care, oftentimes coming to quick agreements on almost everything. So we wonder every time we hear this statement if maybe other people’s relationships need a little nourishment from a remodel.

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We are both very excited to be seeing our home take shape. Happy 4th of July everyone!

Airstreaming Receives a Terrific Review

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“With no wasted space yet plenty of emotion, the simplicity of Schabarum’s writing is a marvel. Compact sentences brim with an appreciation for character and the lonely expanse of suburban life. The constantly shifting characters become inextricably linked in different ways, until they ultimately separate, finding freedom in loss and letting go.” – Kirkus Reviews

BOOK REVIEW

In Schabarum’s (The Narrows, Miles Deep, 2011, etc.) novel, a mother and daughter are at odds following the loss of their husband and father, and a couple seeks escape after their baby is stillborn. Outside of Kansas City in the late 1960s, the bonds between 16-year-old Linda and her mother, Clare, are wearing thin in the wake of her father’s death. While Clare worked to support the family, her blind father bestowed upon Linda his love of jazz. The loss of her husband creates an even greater financial strain for Clare, and she’s forced to find work for Linda. Linda leaves school to help Martha and Jack, an expectant couple in their late 30s. She’s thrust into their day-to-day routine, helping with chores and housework while Martha is on bed rest. When Jack is away on business, Linda and Clare rush to Martha just in time to help deliver her stillborn baby. Linda’s presence becomes a calming force for Martha and Jack as they rebuild themselves and their relationship after the loss of their child. Jack buys an Airstream trailer and makes plans with Martha to leave their life behind and go “streaming.” Jack loves it: “From a service manager’s point of view [Jack] had an appreciation for how everything was put together: no wasted space, easy to maintain, easy to fix. He marveled at its simplicity.” Meanwhile, Linda and Clare, still ravaged by loss, are both tempted by the freedom of a life apart from one another. With no wasted space yet plenty of emotion, the simplicity of Schabarum’s writing is a marvel. Compact sentences brim with an appreciation for character and the lonely expanse of suburban life. The constantly shifting characters become inextricably linked in different ways, until they ultimately separate, finding freedom in loss and letting go.

A somber exploration of the confines of suburban life and the secrets that can sustain or suffocate.

 

Champoeg State Park, Oregon

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This past weekend, we had a great trip to Champoeg, Oregon and saw lots of folks we’ve met at other rallies and made new friends. The rally was for the Oregon Unit’s annual meeting and there were 64 Airstreams and over 100 people who were there.

Pictured above is an amazing vintage trailer that won the People’s Choice Award at Modernism week last year in Palm Springs. It belongs to Doug and Mona Heath, who is past President of the WBBCI Oregon Unit and works with Airstreams 2 Go.

IMG_5157 IMG_5158Champoeg is a terrific state park and particularly beautiful in the fall.

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We picked up pumpkins and walked to the historic Butteville Country Store where they made amazing cherry pies.

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There is a bikeway that runs along the entire Willamette Valley that is stunning right now.

We look forward to many more rallies with this group, and more adventures ahead.

 

Dave Matthews Band at The Gorge

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For the past ten years I’ve wanted to go see Dave Matthews at The Gorge Amphitheater just east of the mountains along the Columbia River. I seriously don’t know why it took so long, but it was an absolute treat to see the venue for the first time and experience an amazing show. Along with the music, the staging was incredible.

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I was introduced to Dave Matthew’s music after I picked up Under the Table and Dreaming on my way out of Vancouver on the bubble train to Jasper, Canada. I played it over and over again in a fever dream of sickness as I traveled. I fell in love with songs like Satellite, Proudest Monkey, #41, Bartender and Crash Into Me.  I wrote two poems that to this day remain among my favorites: Train to Jasper and My Country.

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My nephew had previously turned me on to Lord Huron and we really enjoyed The Head and the Heart, who clearly enjoyed playing to an enormous crowd. I was struck by the clarity and quality of sound for such a huge venue. DMB’s music absolutely demands a system where you can pick out and hear each instrument. It was extraordinary.

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We glamped again at Wanapum State Park, which is a very well cared for state park and has extraordinary views across the river and a desert landscape that is diametrically different only a couple of hours away from Seattle. The park was filled with DMB fans and began to empty around 5pm prior to the show. It’s a nice place to stay if you’re too old for the camping at The Gorge, which is a festival-like atmosphere where the party doesn’t stop for three full days. It was nice to come back and enjoy some quiet after the show with wine and treats Karen bought at a farm stand on her way.

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Sitting and lounging on the grass with John, I was struck by the beauty of the landscape, the sunset, and the many different strains of marijuana smoke wafting up from the crowd, whose good-natured rowdiness and fun-loving entrepreneurship was evidenced in showers of glo-sticks.

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Our dear friend, Karen, joined and danced with us through the smokey haze amid our contact high and we just had an amazing day with 20,000 other music loving souls.

Rally #2: Area 33

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I cannot overstate the beauty of this location. Hard by Mt. Adams, the view is spectacular. But, one of the best things about finally getting our Airstream has been meeting the people. Hands down. It’s such a diverse, friendly and deeply interesting bunch with stories and music to share that it sort of takes one’s breath away.

While Airstreams are definitely the main source of conversation, there are doctors, retired National Park Service, teachers, musicians, engineers, repo-men, non-profit workers, etc. all held together by the common thread of loving their Airstreams both new and vintage. This rally saw more vintage models than last and it was great fun to tour them and see what they’ve done. I was impressed by the creativity and ingenuity – and the attention to keeping much of the units as close to vintage as possible.

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Nestled under the trees were 19 Airstreams beautifully restored or taken care of by their owners. I was impressed that, for some, they’d brought just one from their collection of Airstreams at home. I found that amazing.

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Rob and Diane’s vintage was blessed with a rainbow on the last day of good weather. Rob let us borrow his solar panel, which we hooked up for an afternoon to restore some much needed power to the batteries. I think we’ve decided to go solar for the time being as it’s quiet and green.

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We took the scenic Hwy. 14 to the site, which was beautiful, but where I got my first real scare driving through a narrow tunnel with two oncoming semi-trucks. But the Columbia River was quite beautiful, and John loves the lore of the Lewis and Clark Trail so we stopped for lunch in Stevenson.

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When we came upon the camp, here was the view we had. Stunning. Snow-capped Mt. Adams and a wide field where the light and clouds were constantly changing.

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Carmella and Ruth’s Airstream had the best view. A rare lenticular cloud formed over Mt. Adams on Saturday night, which I was able to get in a time-lapse with the help of Rob and Diane’s vintage Airstream. Click on the photo below to see the movie here:

AIRMTADAMS

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Rhonda Coleman’s Design Within Reach Bambi was fantastic to see. Christopher Deam (watch his TED Talk here) designed 25 coaches initially, which started a renaissance of design in the Airstream line, modernizing them for a new set of owners. Ultimately, only 60 were built and all were sold quickly and have become collector’s items. It was so good to see Rhonda who writes extensively about Airstreams for Airstream Life and Airstream.com.

All three nights we were treated to wonderful music from glampers with guitars, mandolins and a cello. It was quite funny, moving and wonderful to listen to music by a roaring fire. I took portraits of several of our members as well, and had a great time doing so. Here are some of the portraits.

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John, who loves to mountain bike, broke in our bike rack for the first time and took Buster on a long run up the side of Mt. Adams. He told me he made it to the snow line, but I didn’t quite believe it.

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Our camp hosts, Janet and Gary, did a wonderful job putting it all together, cooking, playing music, and being such gracious and lovely people with a killer, newly restored Airstream.

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We really do believe that we have found our pot of gold under the rainbow in our Airstream and are endlessly thankful to my Grandmother, Airstream of Spokane and the many people who’ve we’ve met so far online and in person.

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So to the great people and our little village of Airstreams under the beautiful Washington sky, we say thank you and we’ll see you next year.

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THE GOOD: The people, the location, the views, solar power, our bike rack, not running out of water or power, the potluck dinners and breakfasts, the sky, Hwy. 14, Buster’s new friends – Olga, Roadie, Wally, and Ziggy, Our new friends. One dog-tired Buster, sharing my novel, AIRSTREAMING, with many of the Glampers, The camaraderie of ‘streamers, the music! Oh, and the breakfast at Bette’s in Hood River that finished the trip.

THE BAD: The tunnel scare, realizing the 4 Runner was simply not up to the task of pulling Margaret.

THE UGLY: The traffic coming home on I-5, which is not so ugly given that the bridge at Mt. Vernon collapsed (thankfully no one was seriously hurt) and ruined many other people’s Memorial Day weekend, which saddened me.