Bye Bye Camano Island, Hello Seattle!

  • Solar power working: CHECK
  • Propane controller replaced:  CHECK
  • New lock pin for hitch:  CHECK
  • Ready to rock’n’roll!!!

* Starting off with one of those extra stories that if you don’t like to read a lot of detail, you can just skip.

(*Extra Story #1)

SO many RV challenges during that week in Camano Island that at one point I considered throwin’ in the towel.  Well, not really giving up on the RV life but I really did consider selling the trailer and buying a conversion van instead so I wouldn’t have those hitching challenges.  But I’ve learned a lot since then and am feeling more and more comfortable with the process. And even though all the challenges seemed to hit at once, nothing overshadowed the beauty of Camano Island and am very grateful to have experienced a beautiful eight days there!

So now, back to the real world . . . About that RV Park:

As I mentioned, I ran my batteries down very low because my solar wasn’t able to get enough sun when I was parked under heavy tree cover.

Googled RV Parks near Seattle and found one that looked very good:  Lakeside RV.  Now I think you all know how I feel about staying at RV parks but I desperately needed to hook up to electricity and the park looked so nice on the web site, including “Free WIFI!”  Well . . . I made my rez, drove down there from Camano Island and entered the asphalt jungle—row after row after row of HUGE RV’s, parked right next to each other, sardine-like. I think this is  a permanent home for most of the RV’s because they were set up with chairs and little tables and bbq’s and such. HOWEVER, I lucked out again with good site karma and was put in a site right next to the lake (“put in a site” greatly simplifies it — After several attempts to back in, the park employee finally agreed to do it and backed it in — not a great job at all, so I felt a bit better about that).

And yes, there actually WAS a lake.

And if I looked out one window, with the view of the lake, I could almost pretend I was in nature.


This was the “nature” view out of the Emergency window in the rear of the Escape.  The thing at the bottom right of the pix is where I was plugged into the electricity.

Turns out there was NO wifi, which is something I had read about on RV blogs as something that occurs more often than not.  Couldn’t even get the name of the site to come up on my phone.  BUT . . . I charged my batteries (and myself), got two loads of clothes washed, took advantage of “free” showers for a long, hot shower and shampoo and it was all worth it.

And then headed down to Seattle . . .

(*Extra Story #2)

Before I go any further, would like to be totally open and honest on this blog.  So, here goes:  One thing I had forgotten when this adventure was born with Johnny and me visiting an RV show in Cleveland September, 2014 . . . and forgot in the following months as I chose the Escape as my RV of choice, forgot as I made all the multitude of choices on my Build Sheet (solar, electric jack and dozens more), but remembered as I drove from Cleveland across the U.S. to Seattle: I DON’T LIKE TO DRIVE!  Don’t get me wrong, I love riding IN a car, but that’s because I’m a passenger and can look out the window and see all the great sights.  I wanted to be able to take in all the beautiful landscape as I crossed through Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington, to appreciate the extraordinary view upon entering Peachland, B.C., to breathe in the gloriousness of the tall evergreens on the way to Camano.  Hey, I even like looking at corn!  But as cool as this Tahoe is (thank you Johnny!), it’s a truck and the steering is very loose (not like the tightness of Honda Civic that I was used to) which means if I dare take more than a nanosecond peek at a mountainside, that simple movement moves the Tahoe (well, ok, maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s not as bad with others) but add on to that pulling a trailer, on a two-lane country road and taking longer than very brief glances at the scenery consistently caused the Tahoe (and therefore the Escape) to sway and more than once my heart went into overdrive as I tried to correct and had that brief loss of control.  So .. . what does all this mean?  It means (1) I’m going to be patient, get to where my next stop is where I can unhitch and then either drive to see the area or walk in a walkable radius (2) Although I had planned on my next trip for the winter of 2016-17 to be taking Route 66 west, I am thinking now I might find an area I love in the warmer climes, head there directly from Cleveland and make that my home base for the winter and then explore the state/states with the Tahoe. There is plenty of room in the back for a sleeping bag!  But who knows, by the time this first journey around the country ends, I may feel like an old pro and be gazing and head-swiveling my way around the country!

Ohhhhh, Seattle . . . sixteen and a half years since I left you.  Nice to be back, particularly to connect with really good friends.  You met Suzy and Judy in the last post and once I arrived in West Seattle, was able to see Relaena, Kim and Linda.

Kim and I met when we both went through the first year of  Scientific Illustration certification program at University of Washington about 20 years ago,. Kim designed my logo for Tangle With Zen.  Met Relaena at the dog park, also about 20 years ago. Relaena did the entire Tangle With Zen website.  Last winter, Relaena and Linda came down to Puebla, Mexico when I was there for 6 weeks to study Spanish and I met Linda for the first time.   Three awesome women!


L-R: Ellen, Relaena, Kim, Linda

Re-creation of a photo from several years ago:


Relaena had received permission from a neighbor for me to park on the side of his home.  It was the most perfect spot, on a one-way side street and tucked in behind a fence and a concrete barrier.


I felt completely safe and was about a 45 second walk to Relaena and Dave’s.

The very first day I arrived and parked in my spot, received the following email:


We are looking at your Escape from our living room window, in West Seattle. We are in the old yellow two story house across the street from the rear of your trailer. What a coincidence – we also ordered an Escape and will pick it up January 18! We would love to meet you and talk about your adventures before you leave town if that works for you. Come over for a cup of coffee anytime.

Bill and Peggy”

Is that an amazing coincidence, or WHAT!?!  I did go over to visit Bill and Peggy and then they, their daughter, Erin, and grandson, Sai, came to see my Escape.  Throughout the week, they offered their shower, their refrigerator, even their washer and dryer!  So kind!

Other neighbors stopped by to say hi as well.  Met a great guy, Paul (below), who lives down the street.  He even took time to me the afternoon before I left to help me hitch up and taught me a couple great tips.  I then walked back to his place to see his beautiful shop, Moose Fart Forge—he’s been taking classes in knife-making and is already creating some very cool pieces.   


I got to wear the Moose Fart Forge hat–Paul even gave me a patch which I will be attaching to just the right hat when I find it.                                                  IMG_1066

Finally had the opportunity to meet Ron!  Ron (below) did all the work on the website for ellendarbyworkshopsonline and also for this blog.  We had communicated by email and phone for a few years and it was great to get to see the face behind the talent. And wow, is this guy talented!


Spent many a joyful hour parked in Relaena and Dave’s living room along with her two greyhounds, Holly and Emma.  Darn, darn, darn, cannot believe I forgot to take picture of the girls!!!

Cancel that!!!  Hot off the presses (“borrowed” from Relaena”)

 bow and girls

Not only are Relaena and Dave awesome hosts but they got me totally up-to-speed on my iphone 6S, and Dave performed preventative maintenance on my MacBookPro.

I am such a lucky woman!

Sunday, Kim and Linda came by and the four of us spent a full day and evening of comfort food, drink and doing lots of art.  I wanted the day to never end.


L-R: Kim, Relaena, Dave (Relaena’s husband), Linda

When I got back to the trailer that night, found a ticket attached to the Escape.  There is a grumpy guy in the neighborhood and others think he may have been the one who reported me.  In Seattle, you cannot have a trailer parked on a city street if it’s not attached to a tow vehicle.  I had unhitched the Tahoe so I could tool around Seattle.  Fortunately, it was only a warning — no fine — but I had 72 hours to get hitched up or I would be fined and towed.  The next morning I awoke to a VERY noisy vehicle next to me with VERY loud machinery running.  OH NO—they’re going to tow me.  I flew out of bed, flew open the door and there right next to me was . . . the garbage truck.  Such a relief.  I had visions of them towing me down the streets of Seattle with me hanging out the door of the trailer, yelling, “Stop—I’m IN HERE!!!!!!”

(*Extra Story #3)

When Patty gave me those two trailer-pulling lessons with her boat and then her horse trailer in Cleveland a few months ago, I realized that if I lined up the thig-a-ma-jig on the windshield wiper with the yellow line on the right side of my driving lane (or the edge of any road), my trailer would be pretty much exactly in the middle of the lane.  Great discovery and extremely helpful since I have a hard time judging distance with this big Tahoe (aka “The Beast”) compared to my tiny Civic.  Well, that worked great and I had total confidence in always being in the middle of my lane and not side swiping another vehicle UNTIL . . . . . the rains came. The windshield wipers were constantly moving back and forth, my thig-a-ma-jig was of no help at all, of course, and I had no way to judge where I was.  What then?  All I could do was try to judge best I could and hope my astigmatism didn’t kick into overdrive.

Headed now towards Corte Madera, CA to spend time with Godo and his wife, Janice and visit other friends in the San Francisco area.  Godo is an old friend who I originally met at the Zen monastery in 1988 where I lived for four years until 1992 when I moved to Seattle.  I will also be parking there through the end of the month so that the trailer will be in a safe place when I fly to Cleveland for Thanksgiving. 

So far have been driving south on I-5.  Why,  you may ask, do I not take the breathtaking Route 101?  Well, years ago I drove from south to north on 101 and breathtaking it was!  But there is no way EVER that I will drive 101 from north to south and be on the side of the road that has a sheer drop to the ocean.  Recall my extreme fear of heights? Not a chance of that happening! 

Will be exploring other routes tonight when I return home to my little Escape.  Tonight am parked in the Cabelas parking lot in Tualitin, Oregon — lovin’ those free parking spots!

Loving this Escape more every day.  I have never slept as well as I do in my little cocoon and am finding the small size to be just fine.  On the next blog, will post some photos of the inside of the Escape and where I keep my “office” and my “art studio.”   :-)

16 thoughts on “Bye Bye Camano Island, Hello Seattle!

  1. Corrina Leavitt

    Yay, the bay! We should set up a time to see each other! I actually work really close to Corte Madera…bring clients to the DMV there sometimes :). I’m off on the weekends!
    Also, infinite understanding on you not wanting to take 101. It is GORGEOUS indeed, but those winding steep roads … scary for me even in a tiny car.
    Continuously ADORING your blog <3

    1. Ellen Darby Post author

      Absolutely Corri!!! I should get there in about 3-4 days. Would SO love to see you!!! And thanks for your kind words. :)

  2. Lucy

    We are finally home safe and sound and getting to read your blog! LMAO at much of your challenges… but in a good way… Love your writing! Sounds like you have learned a lot in the less than a month that you have your beautiful trailer! So proud of you for all you are doing!
    Some day we will camp with you… I can feel it!
    Keep calm and carry on!
    Love ya!
    Lucy & Charlie

    1. Ellen Darby Post author

      Yeah, I can laugh at them after the fact, even during the fact for some of them — they’re happening so often I have to laugh! Or cry. :)
      I know we will camp together some day!!! Hopefully I’ll know what I’m doing by that time!
      Keep me posted on your next adventure — in the meantime, enjoy your home . . . and the long, hot showers!

      1. Lucy

        I hope that you are out of the fierce weather and are where it is warm!
        We’ve woken to low 20s the past few days…. I want the warmth we had in Florida!! Hopefully we will make it out to Arizona at some point his winter. Time will tell….. In the mean time be safe and have lots of fun!!!!

        1. Ellen Darby Post author

          Thanks, Luce! Weather here is (Corte Madera) perfect, high 60’s – I can get used to that!!!
          Sure hope to see you in Arizona!!!

  3. mike damore

    I hope Barb and I see you in Quartzsite, Arizona. is there anything we can bring out with us that you might need. like the blog a lot, need more pictures. If you get a chance go on youtube and look up gone with the wynn “boondocking with solar-wild and free camping in an rv

    1. Ellen Darby Post author

      Mike! I was just thinking of you guys. Just adopted a one-year-old pit this afternoon!!! When are you guys going to be in Quartzite? I’m having a hard time finding parks that allow pits but just found one in Quartzite. May be there sooner than later. I follow gone with the wynne’s. They’re awesome!!! Not much that I need — but thanks!!! Hugs to you and Barb — look forward to seeing you!!!


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