USA here we come!!!!

Trip Start Mar 06, 2013
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Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hey all,
Here's our week in review :)

Wednesday 29.05.13:
It had rained all night so this morning we debated about whether to travel on or to stay camped up here for the day out of the rain. In the end we decided to just keep going so we didn't even leave Gordon Bay till around 10.30am. We drove through Lake Cowichan on our way & had a look there, not too much to see... We had also planned on stopping in at Chemainus again to stroll around and properly check out all of the murals and take some photos. Buuuut the rain had not let up when we arrived and we didn't feel like walking around in it, so we gave it a miss and kept driving which was a shame. We got to Nanaimo around lunchtime and went straight to Long Lake Automotive to book Toby in for a full service and tune up tomorrow. We've put almost 3000kms on him since we've had him and with our big trip to the States coming up we wanted to make sure everything is in tip top condition before we leave. After that we had lunch at a mall and used their wifi to find somewhere to stay tonight - yep we're still just winging it!! We decided on Jingle Pot RV Park & Campgrounds and when we arrived our host John was super friendly and helpful. He was so excited to meet Aussies and wanted to know where we'd been and what we'd seen etc... Between our Aussie & his Asian accents something clearly got lost in translation because he then ripped out a (well used) photo album and showed us all the places we'd just been and plotted them out on a map for us so we knew how to get there. He was so nice and enthusiastic about it all we didn't have the heart to interrupt him and say again that we'd already been to most of the places. He was so lovely! It just didn't stop raining at all today - tomorrow's meant to be better so I hope for once that the weatherman is actually right!!!!

Thursday 30.05.13:
Toby didn't have to be at the mechanics till 11am so we had a cruisy morning and didn't leave Jingle Pot till just before then. As we were dropping Toby off the guy we were dealing with on the front counter was finishing his shift and offered us a ride to the shops. He was really nice and chatty both times we'd dealt with him, plus it saved us a taxi fare which was great - it was so nice of him. So then we spent the day basically roaming around the Woodgrove Shopping Centre - thankfully it's a decent size or it could've been a looong day! We also stopped by the cinema too and saw Hangover Part 3 - great movie by the way, really funny! I wasn't really impressed with Part 2 so I'm glad we saw Part 3 as it was much funnier!!! Toby was all done by 4.30pm and the mechanic was super impressed with his condition - he said to us that when he first checked him over he was surprised to see that Toby was 25 years old. Everything was in pretty good working order - he replaced 2 belts that had been squealing and adjusted the idle for us so it should be all good now! After yet another of rain we were both over it and had decided to stay at the Travelodge again tonight. When you're driving around and are in & out of your car getting wet in the rain and then getting back in your car it's not so bad, you can deal. But when it's also your home and you're camping in the wet day after day, everything gets damp/muddy no matter how hard you try to keep it clean. Plus you get that damp smell throughout and frankly it just sucks, so today we said bugger it we'll spring for a hotel room and get out of the wet for a night :)

Friday 31.05.13:
What a day!!! We left the Travelodge nice & early to be on the 6.20am ferry back to the mainland (the first one for the day) so we were back in Vancouver around 8am. First stop was to go and check our mail, then we were off to an Autoplan/ICBC broker to renew Toby's registration & insurance (which is due to run out halfway through our US trip). The renewal itself was a piece of cake but then the broker (Jane) noticed our address on file was a PO Box. Apparently that is a no-no, they need to know your residential address (where the vehicle lives when its not being driven) to determine what 'zone' you come under to work out your premium pricing etc - however the last broker had happily changed our address over without saying a word about any of this. Jane said if we are listed as residing in the wrong zone if something were to happen & this was discovered when making a claim our insurance would actually be void... Surprise! So we explained that we're living out of the motorhome and have no fixed address - she was really nice, she got our situation totally and couldn't do more to help us. In the end she rang the underwriters to ask for clarification that what she'd set up for us was all correct and to get authorisation that we could have that address listed and our insurance would all be ok. So a simple job turned into a tense hour or so but in the end she was able to get approval and now it's all good! Phew. Next job on the list was to change our drivers licence address - normally you can do that online, but ours are the fancy new type of licence and so any changes to details have to be made in person at a branch, of course lol. So off we go to ICBC - again for the simple task of changing our address and no, it's not so simple again. Same deal, because we don't have a residential address they can't change it over. So again we explain that we're travelling and don't have a residential address because our home is the motorhome. "Oh that's ok most people just put down a friends' address" the lady (Jamie) tells us. Well we just moved over here and don't know anybody, so what do we do? So she went off and consulted with another colleague who thought that in our case it would be ok to have the PO Box address. We also gave her our insurance papers to prove that the ICBC insurance section had accepted the PO Box as our address - usually this would help to convince them but it turned out that it opened up another can of worms... She decided that she better ring head office in Victoria to double check, but she said she was pretty sure that it would be fine. Well after getting off the phone from them she tells us that no they won't accept a PO Box address even in our circumstance, plus they've just told her that what our broker did was wrong and she's got to call the insurance department now to fix it. So she rang through to the underwriters to check and they eventually came back and said the insurance was ok but they still wouldn't accept the PO box for our licence address. Jamie was really sympathetic to our situation and couldn't believe head office had still said no. In the end she went to see her manager who overrode head office and authorised the use of our PO Box address on our licence. So our address is finally changed but what a saga!!!!! In the end it was midday before we finally hit the road to the US, so much for our cruisy morning and early start on the road lol. Last time we went to the border we remembered that we had to cross a toll bridge. Now being tight haha we decided to avoid the toll this time, so we took a detour which sounds ideal but actually took us way longer and we ended up going over a different toll bridge anyway - good one google maps! :) This time we headed to the Pacific Highway Border Crossing (the one all the trucks use) at Blaine, Washington and when we arrived there was only a 40min wait but it didn't seem to take that long. We rolled up to the booth expecting to just sail through like last time but found out that our 90 day entry visa waiver expires in a few days. Since we're planning on being in the US for about 2 months we had to park Toby and head inside to apply for a new one. Surprise! I'm beginning to think its just not our day today! :) It was a bit of a wait inside but once it was our turn it was very painless - same procedure as at LAX really - they take your photo & fingerprints, ask you a heap of questions then you pay the bill and get a new stamp in your passport. Then because we'd declared that we had food with us (like a whole pantry full) we had to wait inside while they went out and searched Toby. Last time we came through I got paranoid and threw out all of our fresh food, then we got to the gate and sailed right through without them even checking - what a waste. So this time I thought "Well I'm not doing that again" and I kept everything. So I have my mental list of foods that we have and when the guy asks I tell him everything. But then he says "You know if I find anything you haven't told me about its a criminal offence right?" and goes out to begin his search. Of course I declared everything but then sitting there waiting you start to doubt yourself & have those thoughts you know "Oh did we still have bananas left or did we finish them all?" "Oh crap we have eggs, did I tell him about the eggs?" "He asked if we had any liquor and I said no, I forgot all about the half bottle of wine"....... Lol. He was only about 10mins searching through Tobes and when he came back he had confiscated my apples because they were from New Zealand, but since I'd declared them we were all good to go. See kids, always declare everything, if in doubt declare it - you ain't going to catch me on border security hehe!!! So after being in there for about an hour we were allowed into the States and finally back on the road. It was a pretty boring drive - straight down the I-5 Highway till we got to Mount Vernon where we had to take a detour from the bridge collapse last week. Was it on the news back home? It's pretty scary coz we drove over it last time we were here and pretty much all the bridges on the I-5 are the same so they say it could happen to any of them. The detour bypasses the highway and takes you along back roads of Mount Vernon past peoples' houses and traffic is constant - bumper to bumper & just crawling along in both directions. I feel so sorry for the people living along there having to deal with all that until the bridge is rebuilt - which is meant to be by the end of Fall. Thankfully the rest of the trip was pretty uneventful (yay) and we arrived at Tulalip Casino around 3pm. I don't think we've ever been so glad to get to our destination haha!! We booked in here for 2 nights (free accommodation, why not) and had a relaxing afternoon and early night! :)

Saturday 01.06.13:
I admit I woke up this morning feeling a bit sad and homesick. Today's my sister's baby shower, a happy and special day that I wish I could be there to help celebrate. It's been hard being on the other side of the world not being able to really share in her pregnancy but today it really hit home. I in no way regret what we're doing because we're living our dream, but days like today sure are the flipside - it's the moments that you miss out on.... I hope you had the most fantastic day Shell :) xxxxx
We had a sleep in this morning - I think after yesterday we both needed it ha. After brekky we walked up to the Seattle Premium Outlet shops which are also in the Tulalip Reservation so it's not far to walk from here. The sun is sort of shining today, but at least there's no rain!!!! :) We did a few laps of the shops (couldn't find anything we had to have) and grabbed some yummy hotdogs for lunch. Afterwards we found a spot near Starbucks to use their wifi and spent the afternoon planning stopovers on our way to LA - yes we're on our way already and don't even have a plan! After a few hours of sitting enough was enough so we headed back home and came across something called "The Stick Games" out the back of the casino. I'm not going to try and describe it, I'll let Wikipedia do that:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handgame
We had dinner at the casino buffet - it's soooo good, they literally have a bit of anything, but I'm such a lightweight when it comes to all you can eat buffet - I can only ever do one plate so its a bit of a waste of money ha. After dinner we had a walk through the casino, we really didn't see much of it last time, it's a lot bigger than we realised. There was an event called the "Elders Pow Wow" happening in one of the function rooms. I'm not too sure what it was all about but everyone was dressed in traditional gear and there was lots of singing and dancing. Back on the gaming floor Benny had a bit of a flutter in the pokies - kept our $2 going for a good 10mins or so, but no win in the end so off to bed we went.

Sunday 02.06.13:
So this Stick Games thing - turns out that it's a tournament that goes ALL night. I swear they were still clapping, drumming, singing, shouting etc at 4am so you can imagine the great sleep we had last night. As we drove out I was so tempted to drive past all their tents & RV's where they were now peacefully sleeping and lean on the horn haha. On the positive side it's a sunny day, we have coffee and we were on the road to Fort Stevens State Park in Oregon (about 350km away) by 8am. We stopped in at Target at Everett to grab a GPS since we can't use our phone - our canadian number will use roaming to access google maps now that we're in the US and that's waaay too expensive for us unemployed folk. We continued down the I-5 freeway - traffic was a bit hectic near Seattle but otherwise not too bad - until turning off onto the 101 near Olympia. There was way less traffic once we got off the I-5. We pulled over for some lunch at a rest stop in South Bend around midday then kept on trucking. The road was pretty good and it was a scenic drive from there. Just before we arrived in Astoria we had to cross the longest bridge I've ever seen. I just googled it now and apparently it's 6.6km long - the Astoria-Megler Bridge it's called. It was a gorgeous amazing looking bridge, but I really dislike travelling over long bridges, there's just something freaky about driving long distances over water, I just don't like it. To make matters worse they were doing repairs to the bridge and in one spot only had one lane open so we had to stop halfway for a while. Ugh, thank goodness I was driving to keep me distracted!!! It's pretty cool though, you actually cross from Washington state into Oregon part way across the bridge. We had a little drive around Astoria to find a grocery store and it seems like a really pretty little town. I would've liked to explore it a bit more, but we're booked into an RV park in LA from Friday so we've decided to just drive, drive, drive and then hang out at the beach for a week once we get there, instead of stretching the trip out a bit more! After stopping in at Safeway to grab some groceries we headed out to Fort Stevens State Park and checked in for the night. The park is really fantastic, I mean we thought BC Parks were great, this one is beautiful. It's a big campground with 500 sites as well as some cabins & yurts. They have bitumen roads, free hot showers & it's full hookup for only $27 a night. The sites aren't quite as private as some of the BC Parks we've stayed in but they're really well maintained in a way that looks natural - its just really pretty. They have a heap of bike trails around the park so we unhooked the bikes and went for an explore. First stop was the beach. And it was a sandy beach! Ahh it's been so long since I've felt sand between my toes, love it! An English sailing ship ran aground there in 1906 and the Peter Iredale wreck is still on the beach today although there's not too much of it left. From there we followed the trails up to the Fort Stevens Military Reservation which is a historic military site with a museum and remnants of a military fort that guarded the mouth of Columbia River from Civil War through to World War II. There was heaps of stuff to see there - abandoned gun batteries and commanders stations, it was pretty cool and very interesting to walk through thinking of the people who had passed through there before us. On our ride back we saw a mama and baby deer off to the side of the trails - he was soo cute, looked just like Bambi :) I guess time got away from us because we ended up being gone for over 2 hours and doing a 6 mile (almost 10km) trip. After an awesome shower (a free shower is always a great shower) and some dinner it was off to bed for us.

Monday 03.06.13:
Happy birthday Andria :) xxx
Today we're off to Sunset Bay State Park which is near Coos Bay (still in Oregon) and roughly a 370km trip from here. We were on the road by 7.45am and stopped in nearby Seaside for a look - its a really cool, beachy little town. I think we'd both like to come back here again to explore properly. The drive down the coast today was beautiful and really scenic, so we stopped in at quite a few viewpoints for a look. We stopped in Tillamook for coffee then we were back on the road again. It hugged the coast in most places so could be windy and hilly and of course slower than the freeway but it was so much more beautiful. It really was a great drive. We had lunch at Seal Rock which was sunny and had a beautiful beach view, but a really cold wind. After lunch we were pretty much driving on top of cliffs for a while which was a bit freaky, but had gorgeous views - it reminded us a lot of the Great Ocean Road actually. In some parts there was no guard rail, that gave me the creeps! At one point a deer ran out in front of us but Benny was alert on wildlife watch while I drove, so it was only a near miss - all good. It was very windy for most of the afternoon though, Tobes was being blown around a lot and being on cliff roads, I was a bit white knuckled for a while. But thankfully we arrived without drama at Sunset Bay State Park around 3pm. We were going to get the bikes off and go for a look around but frankly we were just buggered. So we put the kettle on, relaxed and had an early night.

Tuesday 04.06.13
Happy birthday Carla :) xxx
Today we're off to California!! We left Sunset Bay around 7.20am and hit the road - we're roughly headed for Humbolt Redwood State Park (400 odd kms away) but we have a few options and we'll see how we go. Tomorrow we have a 520km day scheduled to if we can get further today then that's less we have to travel tomorrow. We travelled down the coast road again and it's still a gorgeous, great trip - the scenery is amazing. We crossed from Oregon into California just past a town called Brookings on Highway 101. We stopped for coffee in Crescent City and fuel in Trinidad, then our lunch stop was at the California Welcome Centre in Arcata where we also stocked up on info brochures & quickly checked email using their free wifi. The scenery didn't really change much until midway down the North Californian coast. Coming through Washington and even Oregon it was all very similar and you could've thought that you were still in Canada. Just inside Humbolt Redwood State Park we detoured off Highway 101 to take the scenic route appropriately called the "Avenue of the Giants" - it's a 30 odd mile road that winds through a forest of huge old redwood trees. Amazing. Breathtaking. Beautiful. Words can't describe it... It's hard to fathom that trees can even be that huge! I'm so glad we took the detour! :) It's been sunny all day but now we're starting to finally hit some warmth as well. I stripped off my cardi and Benny's lost his flanny, it's so nice not to feel cold. The campground we were aiming to get to was midway along the Ave and we reached it around 3pm. We were both keen to keep going south and also keen to see the rest of the Ave so on we went. There are a couple of "Drive Thru Trees" in the area so we stopped in at one near Leggett. Basically they've carved a tunnel in the tree (coz it's that huge) and you can drive your car through it. Not Toby though haha. Obviously we knew he wasn't even close to fitting through but wanted to get a photo all the same. So Ben drives right up to the 'tunnel' and I jumped out to take some photos. There was an American lady standing there and comes over to me really concerned "Oh he ain't gunna try come through there is he?". Me: "Oh nah we just wanted a photo". Her: "Oh good coz I think he ain't gunna fit". Really???? Haha thanks lady! It was so funny! After a few photos and a look around it was nearing 5pm so we headed to nearby Standish-Hickey State Park for the night. The park was very natural, not as "maintained" as BC and Oregon Parks but its still nice. There are coin showers and no hookups but it's only $25 a night so it's all good. It was so much warmer here, I think we've finally cracked the heat. Usually we would have the door shut and possibly the window as well by about 6pm as it would be too cold. Tonight we had everything open till we went to bed, plus I didn't have to sleep in my trackies tonight! Loving it :) Oh and it ended up that we did about 490km today so that's cut down tomorrows' trip by a bit...

Hope everyone's well at home. Much love to you all :)
Xxxxxx
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Mumsie on

I finally finished reading this entry :) I started reading it when we were together in Las Vegas and I stopped and had a little cry when I got to Saturday :( I have only just plucked up the courage to continue. We miss you guys so much that it hurts, but at the same time, we are so happy and proud that you are "living your dream". Times like these, makes you realise how precious time spent together, really is. I love you both xxx

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