The Far Back, The Near Back and The Present

The Far Back:

fullsizeoutput_4942  In eastern Washington we crossed the Columbia River and visited Gingko Petrified Forest State Park.    Preserved within the Gingko Lava flow, there are Elm, Walnut, Spruce, Gingko, Douglas Fir and Maple formations of petrified wood.  

fullsizeoutput_493cWe were too early in the season for the Visitor Center but we did enjoy the petrified wood and displays nearby.


P1010543The Vantage Petroglyphs were moved to this site near the Visitor’s Center.   Their original location is under water in the nearby Wanapum Reservoir.

fullsizeoutput_493aThe petrified wood was exposed through Ice Age flooding, erosion and human activity.   The Wanapum and other local Native Americans used it for arrowheads and other tools.


Two miles away, a trail winds its way by dozens of protected petrified wood specimens.


A view through the protective screening.

The Near Back:


Chief Yellow Wolf said, “We have always been here.  Nature placed us in this land of ours.”    

The native people who roamed seasonally for centuries on the high plateaus that became  Idaho, Montana, Washington and Oregon called themselves the Nimiipuu.  We know them as the Nez Perce.

fullsizeoutput_494bOriginally friendly with white visitors, the Nez Perce worked with the federal government.  In 1855 a treaty established the reservation covering much of their native lands.   Unfortunately, white men weren’t satisfied to respect treatied lands and some 18,000 encroached on Nez Perce lands.

fullsizeoutput_494dA second treaty (in 1863) reduced Nez Peace lands to one tenth of the 1855 allotment.    Resentment, skirmishes and atrocities disillusioned a segment of the Nez Perce and war erupted in 1877.   These Nez Perce, led by chiefs Joseph, Looking Glass and Toohoolhoolzote, won the war’s first battle in June 1877 at White Bird.    They led their people on an 1100 mile odyssey trying to avoid troops commanded by General Oliver Howard.  The war’s last battle, in October 1877, was at Bear Paw in Montana.  The Nez Perce who fought the government were sent to reservations throughout the west.

P1010587Areas where the Nez Perce lived, fled and battled are now part of the Nez Perce National Historical Park.  There are 38 sites in four states.  An auto tour totals more than 1000 miles.  You can’t live and travel in this part of the country without happening upon Nez Perce  battlefield and historical sites.  


We’ve seen Chief Joseph’s Grave near Wallowa Lake in Joseph, Oregon.


We’ve seen the Heart of the Monster near Kamiah, Idaho and heard the native creation story.


And we’ve driven by the White Bird Battlefield numerous times as we’ve gone up and down White Bird Hill on Highway 95 in central Idaho.

fullsizeoutput_4956The Visitor’s Center for the Nez Perce Historical Park is near Lewiston, Idaho. It is on the site of the former Lapwai Mission established in 1836, long before treaties and war.

Henry_H._SpaldingHenry Spalding and his wife Eliza came to establish the first school and church in Idaho.   They traveled west with fellow Presbyterian missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman.  It might have been an interesting trip because Henry had proposed to Narcissa first.

The foundation of the Spalding home and remains of their fireplace are visible.  The Spaldings left the Lapwai Mission for the Willamette Valley after the Whitmans were massacred in 1848.   (The Whitman mission site sits near present day Walla Walla, Washington.)

fullsizeoutput_494fHenry Spalding returned to the Lapwai Mission later in life and served as a teacher.   In his last years, he was cared for by the Nez Perce and buried on site.  Eliza’s remains were brought from the Willamette Valley in Oregon and placed with her husband.

fullsizeoutput_4955There are other interesting buildings on the Lapwai mission site.   This Indian Agency House, built in 1862, is just yards from the former Spalding home site.

This was the Indian Agent’s Residence.  Agent John Monteith served for 8 years, including the difficult year of 1877.

fullsizeoutput_4957The nearby Spalding Presbyterian Church began services in 1876, well after the time of Reverand and Eliza Spalding.   The Spalding influence on the Nez Perce was great.   This building is still used for Sunday services.

To explore the area, we stayed at McKay’s Bend RV Park east of Lewiston on Highway 12.   The campground land is owned by the Nez Perce and jointly managed by the BLM and Idaho Fish and Game department.  We had been told about the park numerous times.  We came on a Sunday afternoon since there are only 14 sites (full hook-up) and no reservations.  (There was also only 1X internet service so we were glad it was a short stay.)

We met camp-host Norm,  age 84, the man who successfully balances three master agencies.  He and his wife began hosting at McKay’s Bend full time in 2003.  She passed away in 2010 and he stayed on.  He enjoys having a purpose and keeps the park looking beautiful all by himself.


There are lots of bunnies!

There are lots of cows on them thar’ hills –  and we heard coyotes.

And there is a wading pond for Elko – otherwise known as the Clearwater River.


Elko helped Randy rest up before he goes back to “work”.

The Present:

P1010684We have arrived at site 197 in Ridgeview Campground at Lake Cascade State Park in Cascade, Idaho.  This will be our home until July 9th.  Randy will serve as maintenance host on the east side of the lake.  I’m not sure if I’ll be his gopher or find something else to do – or maybe nothing at all 🙂  

July 9th, we will move to the west side of the lake to camp-host at West Mountain campground until the end of the camping season.   If you are in the area, please get in touch!


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Projects Big and Small

The Small Project:


We bought this tray on our Mazatlan honeymoon in 1980.  Thirty-four years later it made the move with us into the trailer.  We are still using the tray but my taste in tile has changed.   I planned to look for replacement tiles the next time we were in Mexico.

fullsizeoutput_482fI was surprised to find Mexican tile on Vancouver Island and delighted to find a design I liked well enough to purchase.   

Randy removed the tiles but unavoidably destroyed the bottom in the process.  That necessitated a delay until we got somewhere with tools!

fullsizeoutput_48c2We went to my cousin Lisa’s house!   Her husband Chris has all the appropriate tools and the project was completed with help from him and everyone else.


Randy decided I should finish up the project.  I used hot glue to place the tiles so if I decide to change designs again they will come off more easily.


Workers and supervisors of the small project:  My mom Beverly, Lisa, me, Chris, Kylee and Aunt Bonnie.


I’m very happy with my new old tray!

We didn’t actually go to Lisa’s house to fix my tray – it just worked out that way.   My mom was visiting them to go to Kylee’s softball game and we made a change to our schedule to be there too.

We had a nice time watching Kylee’s games!   They finished the league in first place.

We always enjoy staying with my cousins and aunt.  They have the best RV park in their backyard, the food is always great, and we play a lot of cards!


We should have taken a picture when my mom was still there!

The Big Project

We also had the opportunity to take our second Hanford Tour.  My family has extensive history with Hanford and we took the B Reactor tour a couple years ago.  Learn about the history of Hanford and the development of plutonium for the Manhattan Project in our blog  Familiar and Family Ground .


This second tour was about the ongoing clean up of the 640 square mile Hanford site.  Security was tight and they don’t allow cell phones or cameras.  Chris has worked in clean up operations and was able to help me out with some visuals.

During 50+  years of plutonium production 100,000 tons of fuel from reactors, 450 billion gallons of liquids and soil waste, and 56 million gallons of radioactive waste were disposed of.   


Some was dumped into vast holes and buried.


Some were put in drums and then into vertical pipes and buried.


The tops of those vertical pipes are visible in this photo as clean up begins.


Laborers in hazmat suits meet the challenges of whatever waste is encountered.   Radiation levels are monitored for every worker.



Truck drivers like Chris move the waste to a new engineered land fill, reducing the chance of leakage into the nearby Columbia River or ground water.


Site 618-10, the area where Chris worked, is massive!


Clean up in this section is done!

The shift to clean up mode on the Hanford site began in 1989.  It is regulated by the Tri-Party Agreement between the Department of Energy, The Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Washington’s Department of Ecology.  

A primary focus is dealing with 177 steel tanks containing hazardous waste.    Every tank contains a unique “witches brew” that may be liquid, sludge, or salt-cake in form.

One hundred and forty nine of the tanks are single wall construction and 67 have already leaked a combined 1 million gallons of hazardous waste into the ground. All are long past their 20 year life expectancy.  The current urgency is to take waste from the single wall tanks and put them into the larger, safer double wall tanks.   There are 28 double wall tanks and one of those is already compromised.  The other 27 are at or near the end of their 40 year life expectancy.

The longterm solution is to move the waste from single wall tanks to double wall tanks and then through a vitrification process.  This process adds silica and heats the waste to to produce a stable, radioactive glass.  The glass would then be stored permanently in stainless steel containers.

The lower level radioactive glass would be stored at Hanford indefinitely.   The high level radioactive glass would be moved to Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository (or substitute facility) if it is ever built.   


Continuing with big projects, the Hanford Vitrification Plant is currently the largest construction project in the United States. It employs 2800 people.   The Vit Plant is scheduled to begin processing low level waste in 2022 and high level waste in 2029.

Yearly budgets from Congress are an annual fight.  Each year a greater percentage of the monies are needed just to maintain the status quo.   Without budget increases, clean up schedules will slip.

Hanford clean up is more than just a big project – it is a massive project.  It is America’s largest superfund site – largest in dollars and largest in area – a site larger than Los Angeles.  

Hanford has a complex legacy.  Many believe the technologies and plutonium developed shortened WWII and saved lives.   The radioactive byproducts of plutonium development were not the focus, winning WWII and the Cold War were.  

With the focus shifted to cleaning up the vast Hanford landscape, new technologies are developed to meet each new challenge .   Although goals of restoration, protecting the Columbia River, and returning as much land as possible to local tribes are lofty, we saw good things happening on our tour.  


Thank you for your work Chris!


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Elko’s Blog:  There’s No Whining In Washington

One of my mom’s favorite movie lines is “There’s no crying in baseball” from A League of Their Own.  Lately she’s been saying “There’s no whining in Washington.”     My dad has been unhappy with the weather since we left Arizona in March and keeps saying he’s a “sunny, warm weather kind of guy”….and keeps saying it….and keeps saying it.  


This is what we’ve been living with.


I try not to take sides between my people but I have to agree with my dad.  We haven’t had nearly as much sit out in the sun time as we both like – almost none except for a few days on The Island.  (That was a nice backyard!)  

To distract my dad from his whining, mom gave him an engineering problem.  A cupboard above the desk had started sliding out when we travel from place to place.  She worried that it could fall out completely and damage the desk.  Dad agreed and set about finding a solution.

fullsizeoutput_488eFirst he got out all of his stuff and looked through it for inspiration.   It reminded my mom of that scene in Apollo 13 when the engineers dumped everything the astronauts had available to them on the table to figure out how to fix the filter problem.


“We’ve got to find a way to make this fit into the hole for this using nothing but that.”

Here is the video clip if you want to see it.

He had a couple of false starts but my dad figured out a workable solution with just the stuff he had in the trailer.    I supervised his work and my mom was impressed as always.



Several people we’ve met on the road have told my mom about Wenatchee Confluence State Park.  It has been on her big, long list of places to go and things to do so she had us stop there.  

fullsizeoutput_4896I gotta say – some people know what they are talking about!   There is grass everywhere!   We don’t see grass all that often so it is special when we do.  Mom and dad like that the campground feels so clean – all grass and blacktop- and the sites are spread out so we have lots of room.   

I like that the weather is great and my people are outside and I can lay on that beautiful green grass lots of the day.  There is no (more) whining in Washington! 

My mom knows a lot about state park reservations in the west, all of them except California.  (She also knows that  Nevada doesn’t allow any reservations – grrrr, boo, hiss!)   Mom doesn’t like that Washington charges different amounts for categories of campsites.  Not only are there basic sites without services but there are three categories of full service sites meaning they all have water, electric and sewer.  Full economy sites are  $30 per night, basic for $35 and popular for $40.   She says Washington’s campsite prices are higher than surrounding states.  With a reservation fee, an extra out of state reservation fee, and a rate of $35  – our real charge was $43 per night.

We didn’t need to use them but if we did, you had to pay extra for showers and dumping.  But for these two nights at Wenatchee Confluence State Park with all the grass – and to stop the whining – she thought it was worth every penny. 

Mostly we spent a lot of time outside enjoying the grass and the sunshine, but one day I took a nap in the trailer while my people got out the bicycles.

They rode the eleven mile Apple Capital Loop Trail which crosses the Columbia River twice.   One bridge was a regular highway bridge but the second one was interesting.

It was the first highway bridge over the Columbia River south of Canada.  Foot and wagon traffic crossed for toll and it also allowed irrigation water to cross the Columbia to the east side.   In modern day that doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense but maybe it did in 1908.

fullsizeoutput_48b3They saw the Cascadian Fruit Shippers building, the largest apple cold storage in the world, with a capacity of 1000 (train?) cars.

They stopped at a public market,  had some gelato, and bought some frozen local peaches.  They passed peach orchards on the ride and had peaches on their minds.


My mom got to smell her favorite flowers – lilacs!



fullsizeoutput_48bbThey saw some interesting critters on their ride.    But none of them are more interesting than me.


fullsizeoutput_48a3We all liked Wenatchee and Wenatchee Confluence State Park.  We liked that the snow on the mountains was far away.


Sometimes boys just have to be in the dirt. 

If you enjoyed my blog, remember I wrote two others before this one.

Guest blogger: Elko  from  September, 2015 (this one has really good sunrise pictures) and   Elko’s Blog 2    from January 2017.

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Past and Present

We returned to the states to Kayak Point County Park north of Everett.  It is a nice wooded campground and our site had a view of Port Susan through the trees.  Unfortunately the trail was quite muddy from persistent rains and we never ventured down to the water.


Carl, Ruth, Ranger Lisa, Serene and Randy – May 2015


We were pleased to spend a couple days with our very first camp-hosting partners Ruth and Carl.   They were experienced camp-hosts when we were newbies.   We had an enjoyable month together at Cove Palisades State Park and have kept in touch since.  We were glad to have a chance to visit with them in Stanwood, Washington.

fullsizeoutput_487aElko had his first ever elevator ride in their complex and didn’t like it at all.  A slippery floor that moves – no thanks!  Ruth suggested we take him down the carpeted stairs instead and he was much happier.


This is the lovely courtyard in the middle of their condominium complex.

fullsizeoutput_486fThey took us to Cama Beach State Park where they volunteered last summer.  Although the land has Native American and logging histories, the park vibe is of its past as a 1930s Puget Sound Fishing Resort. 

fullsizeoutput_4864At Cama Beach waterfront cabins and boats were available for rent.  Guests could fish and crab along the marine rail or swim along the beach.  The resort was gifted to Washington State Parks so you can still do all those things!  

fullsizeoutput_4865Ruth volunteered as an interpretive host at Cama Beach and knew they had a mammoth tusk and molar.

P1010367These artifacts were from Columbian Mammoths and are considered to be 40,000 years old.  They were deposited in the area during a glacial retreat 12,000 years ago.


The tusk and molar were found after the hillside collapsed in this area of the park.

fullsizeoutput_486cNote the differences in size and region comparing Columbian and Wooly Mammoths.


fullsizeoutput_487cWe attended service with Carl and Ruth at Camano Lutheran Church.  This congregation began in 1890 and the building was dedicated in 1906.  The sanctuary was beautifully decorated with quilts and kits ready to donate through Lutheran World Relief.   Since 2007 this congregation has donated more than 4000 quilts, 2000 Baby Care Kits, 8000 Personal Care Kits and 4000 Backpack School Kits.  They are Blessed to be a Blessing.

We said goodbye to Carl and Ruth and traveled to Lake Easton on the eastern slope of the Cascades.  Our purpose was to visit nearby Roslyn, Washington – known to us as Cicely, Alaska.  We became fans of the 1990 – 1995 television series Northern Exposure two decades past its run.   The town of Roslyn is where outdoor scenes were filmed.


Main street Roslyn (or Cicely) without the snow and wandering moose.


This mural was visible in the opening credits of Northern Exposure and is still here.


We saw Dr. Joel Fleischman’s  office, now Cicely’s Gift shop. This was the only direct reference we saw to the town’s Northern Exposure history.


The Brick Tavern was an important place in fictitious Cicely, Alaska.   In real life The Brick is Washington State’s longest operating saloon, established in 1889.  We would have gone there on that basis alone!


The inside of The Brick looks nothing like it was made to look in the show but we got over it.  The saloon’s bar was shipped from London around Cape Horn to Portland, Oregon.   The tables and benches were from Sear’s and Roebuck.  All are more than 100 years old.  The Brick was busy and served good food.  We enjoyed our evening.

In reading about Roslyn, we were surprised to learn that their streets served as set for another series Randy and I watch,  The Man In the High Castle.  It is an Amazon Original production of what life in the US would have been like if Japan and Germany had won WWII.  Japan controls the west, Germany the east and the Rocky Mountains are the neutral zone between the two.    Our waitress told us how producers blocked off streets and made the buildings look old.   It took just a few days.  When Season Three is released we’ll have to look for Roslyn in the streets of the neutral zone.

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Children of a Common Mother Playing on an Island

P1020624During winters in Arizona we have become friends with a few Canadian couples.  We are Children of a Common Mother as indicated by the inscription on the Peace Arch at the border near Blaine, Washington.

We met Catie, Gordon, Dave and Linda the first time we stayed in Yuma and have seen them several times since.  Catie and Gordon have a permanent home on Vancouver Island and Dave and Linda are spending the spring and summer seasons on the island this year.   It seemed to be a good time to visit them in Canada.

fullsizeoutput_4818Randy, Elko and I approached the border with our documents, passports for us and an immunization record for Elko.  We experienced polite but robust questioning about any potential firearms.

fullsizeoutput_481fWe drove past Vancouver to the terminal to board a BC Ferry to Vancouver Island.   We were hoping for a top deck placement because then we would have the option of staying in the truck with Elko.  If we were on a lower deck Randy and I would have to go to the passenger area and Elko would have to stay in the truck alone for the two hour ride.

fullsizeoutput_481bI had made a reservation and we were told having that helped our cause for the top deck placement.  We were lucky to be far enough forward to have a good view.  We listened to the Mariners’ game on the radio and had an enjoyable ferry ride across the Straight of Georgia to Nanaimo.  (The straight was named for King George III in 1792.)


Our $70 ride went from Vancouver to Nanaimo.

Arriving on Vancouver Island we were surprised to see regular mainland businesses including RV and Peterbilt dealerships.  There are even three Costcos!  We had totally underestimated this island!  

Vancouver Island is the largest island off the Pacific coast of North America.  The population is near 800,000 with about half of that in Victoria.   In land mass, Vancouver Island is nearly identical to Maryland and larger than eight other US states.   No wonder it didn’t feel like an island!

We made our way to Catie and Gordon’s very nice guesthouse.   Not just for friends, they also rent their Cozy Guest Cottage in Qualicum Bay through airbnb.


They had a delicious dinner ready for us using their reclette grill.   We have fond memories of using a reclette at the Mona Lisa Fondue Restaurant near Boise.

fullsizeoutput_4821The next day they took us to Cathedral Grove,  an old growth forest with trees that are 800 years old.  We and the dogs enjoyed the walk.




The water is so clear!


Later in the day Dave and Linda joined us for a barbecue.  They brought Nanaimo Bars for dessert.  These bars originated in Nanaimo, the city where we came onto the island.  They are a Canadian dessert staple – like apple pie or chocolate chip cookies are in the US.

fullsizeoutput_4833One day, Randy, Elko and I did some exploring on our own, driving two hours across the middle island wilderness to the Pacific side.   

fullsizeoutput_483bWe traveled to the Pacific Rim National Park and stopped at the Amphitrite Lighthouse.  

fullsizeoutput_4841We learned about whistle buoys which help guide ships into the harbor, especially in times of fog.  The whistle sound grows louder when pressure is increased with rougher wave action.



We saw some beautiful ocean views.



We stopped at Long Beach and watched a few surfers try to get past the breakers.

 On our final day on the island, Randy went golfing with Dave and Gordon.   Elko and I went to spend the day with Linda at Salmon Point RV Resort, where she and Dave are staying in their RV.   It is a lovely resort with a marina and restaurant. 


At Salmon Point there are views of the Cascade Mountain range.


The golfers wandered home and we had an enjoyable evening with Dave and Linda.

Preparing to depart the island, we knew what to do!  We arrived at the ferry dock two hours early in hope of getting a prime spot on the upper deck. It worked!


With an enjoyable two hour ride ahead of us, Randy improved our view by cleaning the windshield.

fullsizeoutput_4851We don’t plan to go to Yuma this year so we aren’t sure when we will see our friends again.  Yet in the RVer way, we are confident that we will!  Thanks for a great visit Catie, Gordon, Dave and Linda!

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We had a student from Paris stay with us many years ago and her father called Seattle  “SEA-uh-tle.”  Randy and I have referred to it as SEA-uh-tle ever since.  Seattle is a great place to visit but a hard place to have an RV.  Last time we stayed in an awful KOA and picked up a mouse.

fullsizeoutput_47ccThis time we stayed at Issaquah Village RV park.  It is a nice enough place – nothing special, but pricey at a discounted rate of $55 per night.  But it is Seattle – and, so far, no mouse!

fullsizeoutput_47dbThe downside is the close proximity to I-90.  It is literally 100 yards away and the traffic noise is non-stop.   If you live here it probably becomes white noise.

fullsizeoutput_47d0We had a Handy Randy project right away. Our water heater wasn’t heating well on electric mode.  The T-Stat and connector had melted and needed to be replaced.  It is a common fail and Randy already had a spare from the last time.


He took the opportunity to play with a new toy – his Borescope camera.  


He drained the water heater, manipulated the camera inside and looked around.  He found nothing else amiss.   Randy thinks he could use his camera to do his own cystoscopies and send the video to his urologist in Boise.  Engineers….

fullsizeoutput_47d5We were very pleased to reconnect with friends Phil and Shirley.  They lived in Boise many years ago and it was very nice to sit with them and catch up.  It was very comfortable,  like the intervening years never happened.  Thanks Phil and Shirley!


We always catch a Mariner’s game if we are in Seattle during baseball season.


We had a nice sunny afternoon game and NO ONE SAT IN THE SEATS IN FRONT OF US!

fullsizeoutput_47dcWe enjoyed lunch at the field, having normal ball park fare – even peanuts later.  Safeco field was recently voted the stadium with the best food in all of baseball and they have an extensive variety.

You can even get chili-lime grasshoppers!  We weren’t tempted, even when a man sitting near us bought some and offered them around.


The Mariner’s ended up losing the game to Houston but we did see a triple play!  That is a rare event!


We went to the Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour north of Seattle in Everett.


The entry has flags for the countries that have purchased planes from Boeing.

fullsizeoutput_47f6There are a variety of displays and simulators.  The 787 Dreamliner is the only Boeing plane with a number and name designation.


Pretend away in a 727 cockpit!


Plane purchasers choose and install interior seating.  I’d like to see a reclining seat like this on a long flight someday!


There were displays of Rolls Royce and General Electric engines.  The purchaser chooses which engines they want on their plane. 

fullsizeoutput_4802We saw one of only four Boeing Dream Lifters.   This huge cargo plane gathers parts from all over the world to assemble the 787 Dreamliner in Everett or North Charleston, South Carolina.

fullsizeoutput_4800We stored our cameras and cell phones in provided lockers and loaded onto the bus to access the factory.  The Everett Boeing Factory is the largest building,  by volume, in the world.  It is over 114 feet tall and covers 98.3 acres. All of Disneyland would fit inside and still have 12 acres for a parking garage!


P1010174The outside mural is the largest digital graphic in the world. Both the building and mural are recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records.


Brochure photo 

We were able to see 747,  767,  777 and 787 planes on assembly lines.  Unfortunately, we were at the factory during shift change and didn’t see any work being done.  This plant employs 30,000 people and few, if any, robots.


Brochure photo

fullsizeoutput_47faAlthough we missed seeing active assembly at the factory, we did see inside one of the painting bays – supposedly a rare event.  (This picture is from a viewing area once we got  the camera back.)  A brand new FedEx plane was getting painted in a building specific for that purpose.  It takes five days to paint a plane, adding 1000 pounds of weight in the process.

The completed plane has two test flights by Boeing pilots, each lasting 2-4 hours in length.   When Boeing is satisfied, the purchaser is invited to come to Everett to complete their test flights. Once everyone is happy with the plane’s performance, Boeing gives the purchaser 1/3 of a tank of fuel and a send-off party in thanks for the $200-400 million purchase.   

Randy asked about the Boeing numbering systems for their planes.  He was told that the company began with the lower numbers but as production evolved the engineering department decided to categorize products by design type.  These were done in 100 unit intervals:

200, 300 and 400 series were propeller aircraft

500 series were turbine engine aircraft

600 are rocket and missile products  and

700 are jet transport aircraft

In the 700 series, the second number is the model sequence, 727 before 737 etc.   Newer doesn’t mean bigger as 747 models are still the largest.  The last seven was suggested by the marketing department to sound good and be easy to remember.


Brochure photo

There was a lot of interesting information on the tour.  Some of it, such as production times,  was only given in generalities due to industrial security.   In addition to not being able to take pictures, we also couldn’t take notes  You may not be missing all the cool facts and figures from the Boeing Factory Tour but I was very frustrated with not being able to bring them to you!

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Family and Chocolate

We knew from years of experience that spring weather in Boise can be highly variable.   We survived a Sunday morning snow in mid March.

While Randy stayed in Boise to finish his treatments, I went to Vancouver to spend time with my mom and brother.  We prepared for Glenn’s Day, a day of remembrance for my dad who passed away in November.  See  When Real Life Happens.   Randy and Elko joined us in time for Glenn’s Day.

Mom did the majority of the work beforehand, but I helped her with displays and slideshows about my dad’s family, military career, and travels.

We had family members come from six states to remember my dad.  He is well loved.


The weather barely cooperated but we did have a brief time at the cemetery.  My dad’s headstone will be placed soon.  My mom’s information will eventually be on the back.

My dad’s ashes are at Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery.   It is a historic military cemetery but smaller and more intimate than the Willamette National Cemetery in Portland.   Currently, Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery is available only to retired Army veterans and spouses.

The earliest grave stones we found reflected deaths from the 1850s.  There are very few  from 2000 – 2017.  The majority were for those who had served in the Civil War, Indian Wars, Spanish American War, WWI and WWII.

There are four Medal of Honor recipients at Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery  (Indian Wars, Spanish American War, and Civil War) and over 200 Unknowns.  Mom plans to do research on the Unknowns as part of her volunteer work at the Clark County Historical Museum.

While I stayed in Vancouver with Elko, Randy flew to Texas.   He joined his brother and sister-in-law from Arizona in visiting their Aunt Lahoma.  Lahoma is 95 years young and they spent an enjoyable few days visiting with her, cousin Roy and his wife Janice.


Randy and his Aunt Lahoma.


Roy, Janice, Tim and Yvette at the cemetery surrounded by Texas Bluebonnets.

A few months ago we were contacted by a family member we didn’t know we had who lives in Maine.  Araminta had been researching her grandfather’s past and discovered us through Facebook and the blog.   The grandfather she never knew was Randy’s uncle.  Unfortunately, families sometimes have disconnect events and this one happened long ago.   Randy and his brother hadn’t known about extended family in Maine.   We found enough corroboration to believe Araminta was on the right track and it has been delightful to help her learn about the Matthews family in Oklahoma, Texas and Arizona.  

As Aunt Lahoma is the only surviving member of the generation that included Araminta’s grandfather and Randy’s father, there were lots of questions and answers texted back and forth.  They found old pictures showing Araminta’s father and aunts as children.  Araminta and Randy included me in the text conversation and it was fun to watch each new discovery and confirmation.

You may remember that our summer 2016 venture towards Maine was cut short as we returned to care for our grandson. (See Grandparents to the Rescue)   The good part of that is when we venture that way again, we’ll get to meet Araminta and her family.

We have had good and meaningful family experiences during the last month and I am grateful.   Yet….I could feel the call of a museum or tour.   Afterall,  it is a big part of what I do in retirement.

We went for a tour at Creo in Portland.  They are Chocolate Makers,  meaning they work  from “bean to bar” – cacao bean to chocolate bar.  Chocolatiers take someone else’s chocolate and use it to make their chocolate products.


Eighty percent of cacao pods grow on the tree trunks, only 20 percent in the canopy.   Cacao is only grown within 20 degrees of the equator.  The only US state within that range is Hawaii.  The largest segment of high end cacao is grown in central and south America.   Most cacao, and that  used in mass production, is grown in west Africa.


We learned that Creo is a family business.  This is mother and son during their search for a cacao source in central America.  They direct trade with a farmer in Equador, getting a shipment once a year from the winter harvest.  There is also a smaller summer harvest.  The farmer grows the cacao, picks it, takes the cacao beans from the pod and puts them through a fermenting process .  He dries and bags the cacao beans.  The beans are sent on a container ship to Seattle or Tacoma.


Once the beans are in residence in Portland they must be stored in a climate controlled room before roasting.  The beans are cracked into nibs of cacao.


Husband, father, and chocolate maker Tim uses his own palate preferences to formulate their dark, milk and white chocolates.  They then produce a variety of truffles, bars and powders.

Then it was time for us to make our own chocolate bars using 73% dark chocolate!


I used toasted coconut and dried apricot for a fruity bar.

Randy also used fruit – dried raspberries and blueberries – and added toasted coconut.  Our tour mates made a lot of creative bars!


While we took turns packaging our bars, Randy and Tim talked more detail about the chocolate making process.

P1010080This was our final haul.  We have two of their’s and two of ours.  Our favorite during sampling was the Coffee and Cream bar.   The Strawberry and Hibiscus bar was also delicious.  We’ll see how Randy and Serene’s handcrafted chocolate bars taste when we try them sometime soon!

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