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Aug 12 - Oct 11 - Longbranch WA

Our time in Birch Bay came to an end, so on Sunday Aug 12 we hooked up and left Birch Bay (16) and headed south on I-5, skirting Seattle, and then ducking across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to Longbranch WA (17). Judy's sister Jan and her husband Denny have their retirement home on the water in Longbranch, and we'd agreed to watch their house and cat for the month of September while they got away on their sailboat. We came a week earlier than necessary because we had to make a quick trip to Rapid City SD to get our driver's licenses renewed - once every 5 years, we have to go back sometime before Judy's birthday to get a new lease on driving.

As it's about 1250 miles one way from Longbranch to Rapid City, we chose to drive the car (getting 30+ mpg) rather than the RV (getting 7.4 mpg) or flying (mega-bucks). We took two days to get there, a day to do our business, and two days to get back. The day to do our business was largely a day of rest - it actually took us under 90 minutes to renew our licenses and get library cards. That included driving around time. There are a lot of DMVs that could learn a thing or three from South Dakota about processing a license renewal.

We didn't spend much time touristing along the way. We did stop to take some pictures of those magnificent wild horse sculptures overlooking the Columbia River near Vantage WA. Overnighting in Billings MT, we encountered "Pork Chop Johns", a mediocre restaurant with an interesting name. No pork chops, just a pork cutlet on a bun, burger style. But with a name like that, who could resist? While in Rapid City, we indulged in two of our favorite restaurants not (yet) available in the northwest - Culvers Butterburgers and Frozen Custard and the Texas Roadhouse. With apologies to Red Robin - Yummm!

In the week before they left on their month afloat, we joined Jan & Denny at a fundraising BBQ for the local historical society. The BBQ was held at the farm of a local couple who collect things. Fred collects mostly vehicles with wheels - cars, tractors, construction equipment, the occasional motorcycle - while Wanda collects pretty much everything else - old jukeboxes, old kitchen apparatus, china. You get the idea. Other than touring the collections - Fred has a couple dozen cars in a wonderful car barn, while many of Wanda's things are upstairs over the barn - the highlight of the evening were the informal appearances of a few octogenarians who chatted about life in the area "back then". Three of the ladies were cheerleaders in the 40's at the Vaughn WA high school, and delighted us with a cheer. Much good food and fun.

We went for a couple of boat rides as Denny shook out some repairs to the boat, and helped them get loaded up. And then we settled in for a peaceful month with nothing to do. NOT! Al had several RV related projects to work on, including rebuilding one of the dinette sections which had lost structural integrity. After searching high and low for the missing integrity, we opted for a rebuild. And we hosted relatives - seemed like a different group every week. But mostly, we got to know and love Max.

Max is a 15 pound formerly male cat, about 2 1/2 years old, and he allowed us into his domain for a time. Max sleeps in the bed with whomever else is using it, and has his own spot which he defends well (we can show you the scars). He likes to be outside except when he likes to be inside. He thinks 4:30am is the perfect time to go outside, and announces the time loudly and with persistence. He loves to be groomed, and thrives on attention. Given his size, coloring and other attributes, we think Max is one of the "forest cats" in whole or part - probably Siberian Forest Cat, possibly Norwegian Forest Cat, probably not a Maine Coon Cat (too small). He is a very vocal cat, and we had many extended conversations, although with the language barrier, we have no idea what we were chatting about. In short, Max is a great cat, as cats go, but we slept much better without the feline alarm once Jan & Denny got back.

Judy's brother John came to visit for a few days, followed by her cousin Dave and Linda. Then cousin Sara and Jerry arrived, and finally our kids Ira and Anna. We trust that a good time was had by all, although the night they went home, Ira & Anna had a kitchen fire that fortunately was confined to just their kitchen. Smoke and water damage, however, permeated the house, and they probably won't get back in until around (or after) the holidays.

Jan & Denny were due back around the first of October, but weather got in the way, so they decided to have the boat hauled out in Port Townsend for the periodic hull scraping and painting that goes with salt water sailing. We drove up and picked them up. And before we pulled up stakes and moved on, we managed a visit to the new Lemay America's Car Museum in Tacoma, billed as one of the largest automotive museums in the country. There are over 350 cars on display, and it's a most enjoyable visit. We happened to be there the same day as a concert next door at the Tacoma Dome by the androgynous Justin Bieber. Traffic leaving the museum was a tad congested, as the streets were filled with prepubescent young ladies and their ostensibly postpubescent mothers.

WIth 59 nights parked in the Prichard Driveway, we completed our longest stationary period since beginning our nomadic life in 2007. But on Oct 11, we hooked up and moved on, first destination the 1000 Trails park at Seaside OR. But that's for our next report.

There are about 95 pictures in our slide show this time. Check them out here.

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