There’s been very few times when Rich and I didn’t take a dog, cat (or three) when we went camping in our motorhome. When we lived in Oregon, my sheltie Gigi or rat terrier Cyrano would come along, usually to the Oregon coast or along the Columbia Gorge.
In 2002, we drove the motorhome from Sherwood, OR to Round Rock, TX with six cats – Micheko, Mongojerrie, Goldakevtch, Calamity Jane, Ariel Anne, and Pu’Yi – snuggled in nooks and crannies in-between house plants, luggage, and last minute stuff that didn’t make it into the moving van. Once in Texas, the motorhome sat abandoned in our driveway, used only a handful of times because the air conditioner only worked in the cab. The rest of the motor home would have become uncomfortably warm in the Texas heat.
After buying a house in Mount Vernon, WA, we drove the motorhome back to the Pacific Northwest, parking it in the driveway, where it patiently awaited our return. Sure enough, once we left Texas we started camping again, usually with the three Musketeers: tabby Jujube, calico Zephyra, and Siamese Pu’Yi.
The motorhome also came in handy when we visiting people in Oregon because we could park it on the street, and spend the night in our home-on-wheels.
In 2013, the weekend our Coupeville house closed, we drove the motorhome to Whidbey Island. We figured we could cook in the motorhome or sit at table for meals since there was no furniture in the house. The first night, we set up an inflatable bed in the master bedroom; however, we forgot the air pump. Undeterred, we grabbed the pads from the bed over the motorhome cab, and slept on them instead of the inflatable bed.
A few weeks later, when we leased the house, I decided to clean the area over the cab before putting back the cushions. It was surprisingly dirty and moldy, and when I climb on top, it shattered! The wooden platform over the cab was full of dry rot. After taking part the front of the motorhome, including the outer fiberglass, Rich discovered when the motorhome was built, twenty or so years earlier, they neglected to remove the plastic tape on one side of the weather stripping so there was never a tight seal. For years, water had been dripping into the motorhome, jeopardizing the integrity of the bed over the cab.
With more pressing obligation, Rich put plastic over the front of the motorhome until he had time to deal with the issue. Happily, a few months ago, Rich started rebuilding the front of the motorhome. Over the course of the project, he used a variety of materials, including wood, fiberglass, metal, and sealants; purchased a used high-end band saw (for $200) over Craig’s List to craft rounded wooden pieces for the front of the motorhome, and employed tremendous ingenuity to make the motorhome as good as new.
The crowning moment was last Sunday, pulling out of the driveway for the much anticipated Jujube Camping Extravaganza with Jujube, Zephyra, and Lila.
We left on a Sunday morning, and headed an hour north to Birch Bay State Park. The town of Birch Bay is located, less than 10 miles from the Canadian border on the idyllic Semiahmoo Bay, which is surrounded by quaint cottages, small hotels and condos, camp/RV parks, and a couple of retail shops. It’s a fabulous place to unwind for a few days, wandering along the beach, and watch the sunset. It doesn’t look much different than this vintage postcard.
After arriving, we set up camp, then hopped on our bikes, and road south along the water. A quick lunch later, we went north, riding to one of the most northwest corners of the United States, the Semiahmoo Spit. We expected it to be very rural, but were surprised to find several large up-scale gated communities surrounding plush golf courses, along with many affluent neighborhoods on the water or tucked into forested areas. At the top of the spit is the snazzy Semiahmoo Resort, with the cheapest rooms, starting at around $180 per night.
Having ridden for several hours, and shed layers of clothes, we stopped at a mini-mart for ice cream bars before heading back to our motorhome. As the sun started to set, we biked to the beach, and reflected on a wonderful day of biking, sightseeing, and once again, enjoying our motorhome.
The next day, we got up early and biked to Peach Arch Park, which is on the boundary between Blaine, WA and Douglas, British Columbia, Canada. It was built by philanthropist Samuel Hill in 1921 to commemorate a century of peace between the United States and Canada. Hill also built Maryhill on the Columbia River Gorge, which is now a wonderful, eclectic museum, and a favorite place to visit when I lived in Oregon.
After taking some pictures at the park, we zipped through Canadian customs. They have a special area for bicyclists and pedestrians. We then biked a few miles, arriving in White Rock, around 10 a.m. A few years ago, when we took the train to Vancouver, B.C., we passed by White Rock, and vowed to return by car to visit. Little did we know it’s an easy bike ride (11 miles) from Birch Bay.
We wandered around White Rock for quite a few hours, then hearing a train in the distance, waited for its arrival. The train track is on a raised boardwalk in front of the town. You can stand within a few feet of a passing train and experience its power. Rich and I both shot video with our smart phones.
Hungry, we had to choose where to eat. With dozens of street-side restaurants, Rich referred to his smart phone for ratings, and opted for Moby Dick, which has accolades from far and near, and primarily serves fish and chips. We secured a table outside, and eagerly polished off a bowl of clam chowder, three pieces of fish, and a huge plate of seasoned fries.
After walking off our meal, we got on our bikes, and headed back to the United States. To say U.S. Customs and Immigration is a confusing mess would be an understatement. First, it wasn’t well marked where bicyclists are supposed to go. We spent ten minutes or so waiting among the cars to get close enough to the inspection booths to spot a sign, directing us to go around the corner of large building. Once in front of the building, we had no idea what to do, until Rich spotted a customs officer and asked him where we should go.
“Inside the building,” was his response.
We hastily parked our bikes and went inside, and were then perplexed as to which of the three long lines we were supposed to stand in. After ten minutes of waiting, another customs officer, spotting our bike helmet said we were in the wrong line.
Fifteen or twenty minutes more of waiting – since only one of the 18 terminals were manned by an officer – we approached the counter. We were asked a couple of questions, our petite backpacks were searched (containing not much more than our identification, and some snacks), and we were given a yellow slip to “hand to the officer stationed off the parking lot.” Once outside, we discovered Rich left the slip on the counter. Happily, he was able to retrieve it with no further delays.
With slip-in-hand, we biked through the lot, handed it to the officer, and we were finally back in the United States, an hour after approaching the border!
Our ride back was uneventfully, except when we passed a quiet bay, I rode recklessly, watching the dozen or so blue heron perched on their own rocks or swooping overhead in search of a tasty morsel below. I love blue heron!
We slept soundly that evening, and woke refreshed. After a leisurely breakfast, we pulled up camp, drove around Blaine, WA, and were back to Mount Vernon before noon.
We and the cats had a great time. They enjoyed the extra attention, looking out the motorhome windows at black squirrels, and snuggling with us at night. We can’t wait for our next motorhome adventure (or cat camping extravaganza)