Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bailey Goes To A Farm

Today is September 15, 2011 Day 110 of the Grand Adventure 2.0

The nose of the bus is finally tilted toward home. Like a horse headed toward the barn, our speed keeps creeping up on us unlike when we started out on Adventure 2.0.   Like last year, I am not going to ever be able to write about all the marvelous places we saw without this blog becoming a travel book. For instance, last March while in Florida, our friend, Robert Noell, flew us to Cedar Key in his plane. 
Never mentioned it. 

He also flew us to Key West where, as it turned out, it was Spring Break. There were so many bikini babes flicking sand off their hynnies that I'm sure Robert and Fred were lightheaded when it came time to fly home. I was glad to have two pilots in the front seat in case one of them was overcome by the fragrance of bare skinned youth inhaled earlier.


I begged incessantly until Fred finally took me to an aquarium.  I love watching fish much more than catching fish!

While there, we went on a boat ride where we were surrounded by several dolphin families. They were so engaging...quite a sight but I never wrote about it.

Further begging finally yielded a bus puppy named Bailey. That's why I called this story:


Our destination was a former 500 acre cherry farm located on Washington Island just off the tip of Wisconsin's Door Pennisula. It is owned by George and Susan Ulm who quit raising cherries and apples and now run it as a unique bed and breakfast.  We stayed in the "Apple House" which could sleep 8 - 10 people, had 2 bathrooms a full kitchen and loads of space to sprawl.  The shelves were stocked with books, games and magazines and the TV's came with every premium cable channel available. 

The Apple House was situated about 50 yards from the edge of Lake Michigan, and we were encouraged to take a stroll down to the shore.  There was a building just above the lake that they called a fishing shack. To me, it looked more like a screened in spa patio with lounge chairs and a game table with an ethereal view of the woods and the lake.

It was a great place to visit, but I haven't told you why we left our bus in a beautiful RV park in Ellison Bay and rode the ferry to the island and drove to Greengate Farm. 

George Ulm owns, perhaps, the largest ham radio collection in North America. Fred wanted to see his collection, operate a few of the radios and publish a story about the experience. 

George is a prolific recounteur of the highest order. Listening to him reminded Fred and I of the stories told by Forrest Gump in the movie of the same name.   He told tales of a plane crash that resulted in his parent's first meeting; driving the President of Mexico around in his car; a time when he enjoyed diplomatic priviledges; a platonic weekend spent with Jaqueline Bouvier in her college years; his arranged (1st) marriage and encounters with an eclectic array of celebrities. He never stopped talking and we never got tired of listening. 

In addition, Fred ate a "lawyer fish" for lunch  which was a first.  While enjoying a beer in a local bar that evening, we met a real, honest to God, fighter pilot.  He was on a hurricane evacuation mission out of Norfolk, Virginia. He had to fly his jet out of the path of Hurricane Irene into the milder weather of the midwest so he decided to visit his parents on the Island. His dad was retired military so the three guys had a wonderful time talking airplanes and war strategy. I watched Greenbay on the low def bar TV with the non pilots.   

While driving around the next day we were waved into a restaraunt by the owner who was raking leaves outside her place. We had noticed a crowd there the night before enjoying the live music but had already enjoyed the fighter pilot and Bailey had to pee so we passed it up.  Well, the lunch crowd was thin.....we were it.  There was a guitar hanging on the wall so Fred played for the staff and Charlie the dog while they cooked for us.  The decor was homespun antique chic, the food, satisfying and the entertainment was excellent. I went home with the guitar player......again.

His article is about the ham radio aspect of the visit and in addition to being on his own website,, it has been picked up for publication in the national ham radio magazine.

from the road:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Coeur d'Alene by way of Blanchard

Way back on July 6th, we decided to go to Coeur d'Alene and chose an RV park in nearby Blanchard. By choosing StoneRidge Motor Coach Village, we lucked into another unplanned adventure.

 We drove into our assigned spot which was next to a lovely golf course with a fish pond and a view of the 18 hole golf course. Most people own their site here and return every summer to meet up with old friends and play golf and hang out at the clubhouse, where they pop popcorn and watch movies on the big screen TV.  The pool and spa area is really nice and the pro shop is attached to a restaurant. Some build extravagant patios with kitchens, fire pits, bars and entertainment centers next to their coaches. 

And some form a band.  
We met Jim who was on his way to jam with his friends at a nearby home on the lake.  When I mentioned that Fred played guitar he kindly invited us to his friend's house to "join the basement band."  Of course he didn't think we would show up, but heck, we are parked in a place where we know no one and we miss all our friends back home, so, yea, we show up, guitar and booze in hand.  We got introduced to all the people there that had been placing bets as to whether we would show up or not, mixed up a bunch of drinks and headed down to the basement to play music.  I was Fred's groupie and a few other friends were there to play the role of supportive audience and the band played on and we had a ball.

So, Jim's wife, Patty is now my new best friend and wants me to have a good time in their community.  The big plan is for Patty, Jim, Fred and I to play golf the next day.  I carefully and repeatedly explain that I have just started playing golf and my skills are inadequate to play well with others as yet. (Chris Noell told me that in Florida last March and I have yet to improve.)  Sweet Patty and Jim tell me not to worry, that they don't care and I can just do what I can and pick up my ball anytime I am slowing the group down and just have a great time.  OK, I agree.     Skip to the next day at tee time.......

Four more players have joined us and it is now the men playing together and we four women playing together.  Remember, this is a golf community where people take this stuff seriously and are really, really good at this frustratingly hard game.  So, I am pretty sure that no one told Linda and Mary that I stunk at golf and that I knew NOTHING about how to walk on the green properly and other, oh so important rules of decorum. Mary decides to teach me how to play instead of ignoring me and letting me take a few swings and then picking up my ball and tucking my tail between my legs and sculking to the cart, mute and miserable. So, my fun, carefree day of golf becomes a string of humiliating attempts at competence and repeated failures.  Wheeeeeeeeeee

Our Basement Band hosts, drummer, golf instructor and guitar player
We were invited to the Park potluck party that evening.  By the time we arrived, everyone I met, knew who I was and how I played. Hmmmm I wonder how that got around so quick?  I guess if you are going to do something, you should do it in such a way that everyone is aware of your attempt. Mission accomplished!  Later we went back to Mary's house (she was also a fabulous, self-taught drummer) to jam again and she advised me to go take some golf lessons.  Gee I was going to do that before I got wisked away on a bus tour of the United States and wound up with a new set of clubs and no lessons. Never the less, I think we met some new friends that will be glad to see us again as long as they don't have to play golf with me!

 The next day we did drive to Coeur d'Alene and it was fabulous.  Lots of folks enjoying all kinds of water sports.  We walked the streets, had lunch and wish we had left enough time to rent a boat of some kind to enjoy the water there. The town was quaint and we enjoyed walking the boardwalk.

Remember my feature of Lessons learned?  I learned some recently:
1)  Never sit on the little shelf in the shower to shave your legs....
2)  Never play golf with folks who think the score at the end of the game is more important than fun   found with friends along the way.
3)  Make new friends, but keep the is silver and the other gold..I miss my gold friends.

Click here for the pictures...

from the road:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Little Taste Of Victoria, British Columbia

July 2, Day 35  was Victoria, BC day.  Since we are extremely bad at rising early, we made it to the ferry docks at the crack of noon for the 12:30 ferry.  Our camp host had advised us that going by foot was the best way because taking a car was not only expensive but a hassle as well. The ferry ride was about 90 minutes and some of the water in the Juan de Fuca Strait were pretty choppy with the ship listing at times by 15 degrees or more.  Fred measured it in degrees, I measured by the quantity of  puke in the women's bathroom left for my viewing pleasure. Ick!

The ship, the M/V Coho, was built in Seattle in 1959 and has been making this crossing for its entire life.  I'm surprised it even needs a captain at this point.  It was an unusual ferry in that cars entered from the rear and exited out the right side on the outbound trip, and reversing that on the Victoria to Port Angeles leg of the trip.  Despite the tight turn inside the boat, we saw several large trucks and semi-trailers as well as a big RV make the trip.  We don't know if the Zed could make it but there were several large busses on the island and some of them must have come on this ferry.

Victoria was beautiful and the weather was picture perfect.  Sunny, t-shirt weather that was at most about 72 degrees. We walked the town for a few hours, stopping for a meal at a Scottish pub that was one of the most ornate and handsomely decorated that we've ever seen, and we've been to Scotland! The food was great but as usual, Fred ate fast, gulped his locally produced beer and then ran around snapping pics of the pub while I continued to chew....on camera.

The town had a European feel, right down to the crappy dollar exchange rates.  The Canadian dollar is worth more than the Uncle Sam and their goods are quite expensive in comparison.  A cigar that costs $7.00US at home was $27.00CDN there.  I had a lively conversation with a young man who worked at the tobacconist about taxes, health care and the cost of education.  Quite enlightening. He thought goods that cost four times as much in his country as in mine were worth it because he got to go to college for almost no investment on his part. We didn't buy anything except a meal that day so no one will get very far in school on our inflated $35.00 lunch.

The Fairmont Empress hotel was stately and elegant with beautiful grounds.  In one area there were stacks of bee hive boxes right out in the open.  Lots and lots of bees.  I guess that is why all the flowers looked so happy.  There were many street vendors and eclectic  entertainers along the waterfront that were amusing. The town plumb tuckered us out so we were ready to board the ship at 7:30 for the ride home.  The ship was late, and we waited... it arrived back in Port Angeles, late, and we waited...then we still had to wait another half hour to get through US Customs. We had already gone through customs when we boarded back in Victoria, where we waited... but I guess extreme caution is merited in these dangerous times.  We were the very last ones in the line so we were two very sleepy old tourists by the time we got back to the trailerhood at 11:00 pm     Click here for more pictures...

from the road:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Too Cool! The Olympic Peninsula

July 1 - July 4
Day 34 - 37 of the grand adventure 
Part II 

4237 miles as of Sunday 8/7/11
4 fills  650 gallons of fuel

So, like I said, they booted us out of our spot at the Fort so we took off for Port Angeles, Washington.

Our new campground was next to the Elwha River Dam.  The river is being restored to its original condition so we were lucky to see the dam before it was demolished.  It closed to the public the day we left.  Big controversy in the neighborhood about salmon and Indians and fishing.   That is why we included pictures of it with the rest of the places we saw.

This area offers up so many things to see that we found it hard to choose from among them. We settled on Hurricane Ridge, Cape Flattery and Victoria, British Columbia. Hurricane Ridge, part of Olympic National Park, had a great visitor center situated high in the mountains that offered 360 degree panoramic views that were simply breath taking.   The weather was picture perfect with few clouds and the snow capped mountains against the blue sky were a photographer's dream. This was the spot where we snapped our now famous "how's the weather" photo.We ended the day with a bonfire in our "front yard" where Fred caught up on his work for the day.

Cape Flattery was recommended to us by our campground owner so we hit the road to the north-western most point in Washington and the lower 48 states. It was a couple hours of winding roads with some occasional great scenery. We were glad to be in the jeep and not the bus. Near the end of the road was the Indian reservation of the Makah and at the very tip was Cape Flattery Park. After a 1/2 mile walk down about 300 feet in the dark rain forest we broke out into a breathtaking view of the Pacific with high cliffs, birds, and lots of sea life.

The view wasn't the only thing that took our breath away.  We had to stop several (many) times on the hike back up the hill and were passed along the way by a pregnant woman with a two year old in tow.  Such is old age and obesity.

We took a different route home that led us past Crescent Lake, a lovely reserve in Olympic National Park.  The porch at the Lodge was billed as the best place to relax near the water so we did.  click here for pictures...

from the road:

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Fabulous Fort Flagler, its not just for ham radio afficianados anymore

Soon I will have to start sending pictures only. If I continue to write in any amount of detail, about the places we have been over the last 30 days, this will become a book. Tedious for the writer, drudgery for the reader. I'll try and be brief. 

After the big ham radio field day, we remained at Fort Flagler but moved to an area of the campground next to the water where our internet worked. Fred toiled away every day but during breaks, we played in the tide pools, watched close up while an otter caught and ate his lunch and took movies of the resident eagle doing eagle things. 

They booted us out of there on July 1st. The arrival of the big 4th of July weekend brought with it lot of folks who thought ahead and reserved their spot for the party. Included with those incoming folks was the campground host. Turns out we were enjoying HIS spot. It was a primo site and we were sorry to vacate. The hundred plus year old Army fort was interesting and fun to explore. Nearby Port Townsend with its historic buildings, antique shops, art galleries and restaurants was a pleasant change of pace. The place was teeming with wildlife and we had to dodge fawns playing keep away from their mom's in the roadway every day. We are really glad the Mike and Key Club invited us to join them for Field Day 2011. 

from the road:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Robin ferries to the San Juans & Port Townsend

I am desperately behind on reporting back about our adventures.  It was about five weeks ago that Fred and I walked onto a ferry, sailed into Friday Harbor, and walked off onto San Juan Island.

 After a few hours, some antique shopping (bought a cool clock) a fish lunch and some ice cream, we climbed back on the ferry.  Fred wanted to see all the islands that the ferry serviced so we carefully charted (we thought) our trip to make sure we saw Shaw, Lopez and Orcas Islands, catching the last ferry back to Anacortes.  There is an ironic story about how a quick trip to a few small islands and perhaps a missed connection (or two)  would end up taking all day. And by all day, I mean a midnight arrival back at the trailerhood.  We'll tell you all about it some day when it is more funny and less contentious.

We had a wonderful time  exploring the islands and spending time  in the town of Anacortes.  The two rainy days gave us a reason to stay in and get some work done.  Soon it was time to move on to Port Townsend for my first ham radio field day.  This time we drove the bus and the jeep onto a ferry and crossed the water...
That is not a picture of the ferry you see above this paragraph.  Cool sail boat though eh? Fred has decided that we are going to learn to sail.  More about that in a different dispatch.
Click here for pics of the Islands...

Fred wrote a whole article for about field day at Fort Flagler.  I'll attach a link to it for those of you who are wondering just what field day entails.  Warning is full of technical stuff and lots of pictures of antennas.  Click here for Fred's article and pics...

The place I absolutely loved was Chetzemoka Park.  We tried hard to capture the essence of this place pictorally.  Click here for the album...
Don't forget to double click on the pictures so they will get big.

Today, day 68, we left Birch Bay to drive inland toward the "heat island of America." We planned to see Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, Mount Rushmore and the Badlands this year but did not plan on the extreme temps. We waited it out for weeks in Washington until we ran out of patience and headed out.  I am writing this from Wenatchee River County Park in Monitor, WA.  We didn't know this place existed until Fred spotted it from the road and hit the brakes. It is booked for the weekend so we were lucky to snag a spot for tonight.  A cold river rushes past the park which is dotted with trees, is grassy, peaceful and beautiful...all for $24.00. We already have new friends. Highly recommended.  As I write to you, Fred is in full panic mode on the computer trying to solve a serious problem on the QRZ website.  The fun never stops.

from the road:

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Our day at the radio museum by Fred Lloyd

Default QRZ visits the American Museum of Radio and Electricity

Earlier this week we were treated to a tour of the American Museum of Radio and Electricity, a must-see landmark in the city of Bellingham, Washington. The AMRE is located in the central downtown district of the city and despite it's rather plain looking exterior, inside is one of the most interesting and engaging museums of its kind anywhere.

We were met by the museum's founder, John Jenkins, who graciously took time out of his busy day to give us a detailed private tour of the entire collection, including a fascinating behind-the-scenes look of the facility. John realized the dream of his life when, after retiring from his career in high-tech in 2001, began to build a museum consisting of items from a couple of private collections including his own that he started at age 13. John purchased a couple of run-down storefront buildings in his hometown of Bellingham and began a quest that has helped to revitalize a part of the downtown while become a key attraction for the city.

The museum includes more than 11 distinct period exhibits that commence with the very discovery of electricity itself, recreating the initial experiments of Ben Franklin, Ohm, Volta, Hertz, Tesla, and others. Here, you'll find Leyden Jars, static electricity experiments, some of the first batteries ever made, the first electromagnet, the earliest electric motors, and other devices that were truly genius for their time. Sometimes, you just have to stop and wonder how these great pioneers, some more than 400 years ago, had the insight and inspiration to make the discoveries they did.

As I looked at some of the experiments, such as Hertz's wave measurement device, I was humbled by the discoveries that were made using little more than a spark gap and a few pieces of wire and glass insulators. Here before me was a device that could be built from Home Depot plumbing parts that was responsible for the discovery of waves, wavelengths, and SWR, back before the concept of radio as we know it was even thought possible. Looking at his work, which took place in the middle of the 1800's, it is hard to imagine how far electromagnetic technology has since advanced. In less than 100 years after his death, we have satellites, microprocessors, cell phones, the Internet, and a whole world of technology that can be directly traced back to this early work.

The AMRE's exhibits take the visitor step by step into each successive generation of technology and soon we find ourselves in the crystal radio era, followed by the first light bulbs and vacuum tubes. Samuel Morse is also featured here and the real story behind the Morse Code is somewhat different that what one might expect. For example, did you know that Morse's first machine didn't use a telegraph key? Or that its operators, tired of having to work with a tempermental paper inscribing machine found it easier just to 'copy' the machines clicks and decode the messages in their heads and write them down? This story and many others are presented in wonderful detail for visitors to explore and the examples shown are presented either with vintage hardware or painstakingly accurate modern reproductions.

The overall collection is quite large with a catalog of many thousands of items to look at. Some pieces are truly one-of-a-kind and can't be seen anywhere else on the planet. Some of the radio gear is rivaled only by the Smithsonian and is truly priceless. The vacuum tube collection, for example, contains some of the rarest examples anywhere, and in some cases, the first prototypes that were ever produced.

The age of radio is presented with a collection of home receivers that is more comprehensive than any I've ever seen. Right along side are amateur radio sets, which as we all know share a common history with the earliest days of wireless communications. The collection includes numerous spark gap transmitters, early single tube designs, and a collection of more contemporary amateur radio gear from the 40's through the present. Their crown jewel is an Icom IC-7800 which is hooked up and available for visiting amateurs to operate on request. They also have a complete Collins S-Line station, and a Hallicrafters station, all setup and ready to go. The only thing missing are operators and I, for one, regret not having the time to sit down and spend some quality on-air time while I was there.

The above bears repeating: If you are a licensed amateur and would enjoy operating a brand new ICOM IC-7800 station then you definitely should go down to the AMRE and take the microphone (or key). The facility is staffed with a great many knowledgeable volunteers who are eager to spend time with you and your family.

Another thing that bears pointing out is that most of the items in the collection aren't behind glass or set back behind rope lines. A large number of the exhibits are hands-on and many of the rare collectables can be gently touched without setting off any alarms. You will feel completely at home here, as a member of the fraternity of radio and electronics world, as will your whole family. The admission is just $5 for adults, which is in incredible value considering its a place where you can literally spend hours wandering through the expansive collection.

In addition to the photos posted here, we've prepared a collection of more pictures here...

On your next visit to the pacific northwest, be sure and make Bellingham one of your destinations. It's a must-do, bucket list destination for any radio enthusiast.

The American Museum of Radio and Electricty is located at:

1312 Bay Street
Bellingham, WA 98225
Phone: 360.738.3886
Last edited by AA7BQ; Today at 10:03 PM.