Home Sweet Home

23/08/2010

Thank you to everyone for following the blog over the last six months and particularly for the many comments of support and encouragement.  We all loved seeing the comments arriving into our email and 3 or 4 days without Internet made it all the better becuase there was always a stack of them.  For those who didn’t leave a comment – the WordPress site gave daily traffic stats so we still knew you (or possibly some complete strangers) were reading. 

Home now and back to reality. Last border crossing was easy. I asked if I could put the SPOT tracking device on in the plane – the Aer Lingus cabin staff were no impresssed.

I’ve turned it on (SPOT) one last time to mark home.

Good Luck until next time

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Getting on a plane today – 16th August

16/08/2010

Last day of the trip and last post.  We’ve been in New York for 3 nights meeting up with friends (Helen, Steven & kids) who are over here on holiday.  We catch the 9:50 flight home tonight.  Very mixed feelings for Susan and I.  Neither of us want it to end but we are looking forward to meeting everyone back home after our 6 month holiday.  It’s a different matter for Jane and Emma.  They’ve been counting the days – although I haven’t heard much counting in Seattle or New York.

Okay so one last border crossing.  I hope the Irish immigration don’t look for a bung 🙂

All of us (minus Susan the Camera Lady) in Chinatown

Our Carnivores

Celebrating their birthdays …..Again

Seattle 12th August

12/08/2010

Almost finished in Seattle.  Any longer and the Newman Taylors would probably have had the Federales on us I suspect.  A week of partying was as much as I could handle.  Brill time.  Last night tonight – We’re going to see Blondie and the B52’s playing in a local winery.  Should be great crac. 

I sold the van and dropped it off to the Canadian border today. The new owners are delighted and I did fess up where we’d taken it.

Boating in Seattle (kind of Irish style)

Captain Taylor taking us through the storm.  This was enjoyable.  Honest.

Amy (the one in front) told us the only rule in this house was to have fun

Mary and i practicing the “Time Warp” dance

Girls on the ball in downtown Seattle

Seattle – 5th August…

09/08/2010

FYI – Arrived in Seattle last Thursday and encamped with the Newman-Taylors.  All having a ball.  We’ve re-celebrated Susan’s Birthday at Mary’s insistence (she likes parties).  Went playing with guns at the local firing range with Ian eile and managed to hit the target most of the time.  Good fun.  I’m going for a spin on a Hardly Davidson today and looking forward to it.  I hope I can remember how to ride a bike after 6 months.

Looks like I might have sold the van to a Canadian couple.  They drove down to see it yesterday evening went for a quick test drive and gave me a deposit.  Happy days.

Stuff since Portland 2nd August

03/08/2010

Here’s the route we’ve taken since leaving Portland.

 

Straight over to Mount Rainier via Mt St Helen’s.  Tried to freak Jane out by telling we were going to camp in the Mt St Helen’s crater.  She wasn’t biting.

We’ve had no internet since Portland.  Possibly the longest we’ve done without Wifi.  So much for WA state being the IT Capital of the US.

The roads around Mt Rainier would have been great for biking but they were a bit of a chore in the van.  Great views though and still plenty of snow on the top – probably why they’re called Glaciers.  Did one decent hike in the park to what we were told was a great view point.  Note to self – Avoid hikes to “View Points” They’re always uphill.  This one was 3-4kms at a constant 10-15% gradient and the view was crap.  Good exercise though – which I badly need (either that or Lipo).

Decided to head to somewhere east of Olympic NP for a few days.  We were assuming it should be a bit warmer there than in the park (370cm of rain per year).  Camped up alongside the Hood Canal (actually a very long inlet).  Most of the other campers were out collecting Oysters on the beach – there were loads of them (Oysters and campers).  We got excited about the prospect until it clicked that none of the four of us really liked them.  So why get wet?

We’ve now moved on and into the Olympic NP.  It’s meant to be the only Temperate Rain Forest in the world.  It looks the same as every other forest we’ve been to in the Northwest. 

I realised we had a Qrt of Tequila and Gin that we need to get through in the next couple of days Yahey!  G&Ts for herself and mine’s a tall Margarita.  Although I’m sure Ian & Mary will help if we don’t get through them 🙂

Snow on big mountain.  I didn’t take the van to the top of this one.

Downed tree in the Olympic NP campground.  Firewood perhaps?

Emma attacks a slightly smaler log

Evidence we are still travelling together

Coming close to the end

27/07/2010

32,000kms, 2,300 gallons of petrol (est), 180 days, 84 campgrounds (we counted than last night) and 6 Oil changes we’re coming close to the end.  We’re now in Portland and about 300 miles south of our final destination in Seattle. 

Over the last couple of weeks things have changed.  We’ve started to run supplies down and I’m praying the van makes it with no expensive repairs. 

I’ve also started to think how I’ll get rid of it when we get to Seattle.  How much is it worth? (as much as someone is willing to pay!).  This blog is probably not the right place to advertise it as you all know what we’ve put it through.  Also – I wonder how many are still reading now that the chances of us getting shot or kidnapped have greatly diminished.

Susan and I have grown quite attached to the van and would like to be able to bring it home but it does 8mpg, is wider than an Articulated Lorry and would need to be driven to a port on the East coast to be shipped.  It’s not going to happen. 

Now where’s that map of Asia?

Tillamook, Oregon 24th-25th

27/07/2010

Susan decided we should hang around near Tillamook for a few days.  Plenty to do.  There’s an Air Museum a historic Cheese making factory and it’s the quilting capital of the Northwest.  Cool!  Let’s start with the museum. 

They did have a few planes but after visiting the PIMA museum in Tuscan it was a bit of a letdown.  On the upside most of them looked like they were still used (lots of oil leaking from them and covered in dirt) and they were housed in a 7 acre hangar which used to be a Blimp base.  The hanger was constructed during WW2 from wood and was impressive.   

The lady in the campsite told us the Tillamook Cheese factory was really neat and the most visited tourist attraction in Oregon with more than a million visitors every year!  So off we went.  She appeared to be right about the visitors.  There were queues to get in and once we were in we discovered why.  The cheese factory also makes Ice Cream and they give it away free to visitors.  The queues were hundreds of metres long and full of people who should not be eating any more Ice Cream.  And the historic factory?  You could watch large blocks of Cheddar getting wrapped in plastic by a modern stainless steel machine and see an underpaid worker pack it into larger cardboard boxes.  We didn’t wait for the Ice Cream –   The Quilting museum and shops were waiting…..

I can’t really comment on the Quilting stuff.  I stayed in the van and stuck rusty needles through my eyeballs.  The preferred option.

Inside the Hanger

Even the sheds are quilted!

Honeyman, Oregon 21st-23rd

26/07/2010

We stopped off for three nights at the Oregon Dunes State Park.  The landscape look like what I thought the Sahara would be – Mile after mile of perfect dunes.  Only difference was the thousands of people on Quads, Dune Buggies and Sand Boards (more on that from Jane in a minute).  Parts of it looked like a scene from Mad Max.  I just had to have a go and rented a 250 Quad just for an hour.  I fell off about 5-6 times, rolled it once (they told me it wouldn’t) and got buried so often I lost count.  One hour left me in the same exhausted condition as a day at Mondello.  Great fun.  Next time I’ll bring a passenger to do the digging out though.

One thing that’s changed is the weather.  It’s COLD and very windy on the coast.  Fleeces, long trousers and boots nearly all the time.

We left Honeyman State Park on Friday intending to pull into another campsite further up the coast.  Every single one was full until Susan managed to make a booking over the phone about 60 mile further north than we intended.  Got to the campsite only to find that they had no record of the booking and they were full.  It was probably just as well.  It was a pigsty and the guy running it looked like Onslow from “Keeping Up Appearances”.

 We finally found one near Tillamook.  It was fine.

Jane Says……………

Dad says I have to write blog. So does Mum.

I hate writing blog. Bleh. For me writing blog is like being pleasant or eating healthily is for Emma. If everyone who knows Emma could please take a moment to consider that.

 We went sand boarding the other day. I was reasonably good at it but Emma wouldn’t even try, because she fell out of the bed onto her bum that morning. Stupid child. As you may have seen, Mum gave it a go. It was great to watch (that wasn’t a compliment, sorry mum.) Dad had a turn too and was a bit more successful than mum (that isn’t saying much)

The Blobby in the middle is me. No pictures from out on the Dunes.  The camera wouldn’t have survived

Something bad is about to happen

How it should be done

Interlude…

21/07/2010

Jane says…… Emma had a small fit (the medical kind) this morning because, guess what? She wanted a pancake. Honestly, there are people out there who are starving and would willingly eat a turnip (ugh.), and Emma is here requesting a pancake. How could she be so selfish? Well, actually it was because we didn’t have any flour, but Emma wanted a pancake anyway. She didn’t want to get out of bed, but at 11 o’clock Dad dragged her out (literally) and plonked her on the floor. I think that must have hurt because Emma started howling, but then again, she did that about the pancake too.

I’ve noticed that almost everything I write is about Emma, but it’s understandable; we don’t have a TV. So I watch the Emma show. It’s quite loud and mostly plays reruns but it’s the only thing on. Yesterday Emma observed that the woman next door was “medicating”. She was actually meditating but I might let her off that one because both things are pretty weird. I can’t let her off the next one though. Dad told her that if she didn’t drink her milk she would get osteoporosis and be paralysed at the age of thirty. Then she turned around to Mum and asked what osteospertosis was.

Susan says:

I pointed out to Jane that when doing creative writing in school she may need to expand on her subject matter.  Her answer was “Why”?

La Verna County Park, Fairfield, Oregon – 20th July

21/07/2010

It doesn’t always pay to take the scenic route. We found this to our cost as we headed for the Oregon coast on Monday. According to the map the road had several recreation areas (parks) en route.  Our plan was to choose one of these for the night.  However, it turned out that the whole forest area was a recreational area, and for 35 miles of narrow, winding roads we met three vehicles. No houses, no campsites. When, eventually we found a campground it was a nice location beside a river but that other occupants looked like they lived there a long time, had lots of dogs and babies running around in nothing but disposable nappies.  They looked at us like we were “real strange”. 

No photos – we weren’t sure if the natives would take the camera.