We finally left Chimacum on Monday January 31. We were bound for the 8AM ferry from Port Townsend to Coupeville on Whidbey Island. For all you “southerners”, that meant we had to hookup and pull out before 7AM, which is about 30 minutes before dawn. So we spent some time on Sunday packing and stowing, which left us only a few things to do in the dark.
It had been 2 months since we dragged old Wertle behind the truck, so we took some extra time to double check our preparations. We were rewarded with a totally uneventful drive of 12 miles to the ferry landing, where we were surprised with a fare increase! If you walk onto the ferry, it’s about $5 for a one way trip. If you drive a car under 20’ long, it’s about $17. But when you weigh 17,000 lbs and are 55’ long from bumper to bumper, it’s gonna run to about $58. On a brighter note, we did get a front row seat in the center bay of the ferry.
We were easily the biggest vehicle on the Port Townsend ferry, which has been referred to as a “toy boat” by a few of our neighbors in Chimacum.
To catch the second ferry of the day, the one that would take us to Orcas Island, we needed to drive up Whidbey Island to Anacortes. The drive was quite beautiful. Whidbey’s biggest employer is the Naval Air Station located there, which functions as a large storage lot for warplanes from aircraft carriers returning to Bremerton for refit between tours. All of the whoopla from a returning carrier, the buzzing swarm of planes as well as the majestic scene of a huge ship steaming up the Strait of Juan de Fuca and into the Admiralty Inlet, is quite a sight. I had more than a few thoughts about income taxes, but also felt the gratitude of being protected by the largest navy on the planet.
We arrived to Anacortes in great time and were again first in line for the center bay on the ferry. But this time we got aced out for the front row seat by a couple of large vehicles that needed to depart at Shaw Island, the stop between Anacortes and Orcas. And for this we got our second financial shock of the day. The fare to Orcas is a round trip (they don’t collect a fare on the eastbound leg), but it still set us back $218! That sounds like a lot until we figure we are staying at my brother Jim’s, and the rent is free!
The free rent thing wore off pretty quick once we finally arrived at Jim’s and got the rig backed into the spot he had “cleared off” for us. It was actually a pretty level spot in front of the large shop he has on his property. This is the first time I’ve ever had to carve out my own camping spot, and then wire up the utilities to plug in. Luckily, the shop has a fairly new 200 amp electrical panel fairly close by and a choice of 2 water outlets also close by. Unluckily, we didn’t have the necessary hardware or expertise to wire up a breaker into the panel and then wire up an outlet that our shore power umbilical would plug into. So I did a quick visual, we trotted off to the Crow Valley Lumber Yard and bought a breaker, a receptacle, a metal wall-mounted box for it, and 10’ of wiring that I thought should be sufficient for the current load. Then we waited. For what? Well, brother Jim had advised us that “Pete” would be coming around to help out, and that he had done most of the wiring on Jim’s house construction a few summers earlier. Jim is out of town this week, and nobody around seems to know Pete’s phone number, and this IS an island community running on “island time”, so we waited. But not too long, because Don showed up, and although we don’t know him he does know more than a little about wiring. With his help we got the panel open, got the breaker installed, got the receptacle wired up and the umbilical plugged in, and then flipped the switch to see what would happen.
Sparks! Lots of sparks! It turns out we had a couple of wires crossed and hooked up wrong for the input and ended up sending 220 volts to some of our 110 volt appliances.
We eventually figured it all out but ended up frying one of our electric heaters, our clock radio, the battery charger for our Shark cordless vacuum, the microwave, our external speakers for the laptops, and our electric blanket. Arrgh! Especially since it was all of 28 F last night and we didn’t have any electric to heat with. We survived, and today we placed a rather large order with Amazon for replacement stuff. I now know much more than I ever wanted to know about electrical stuff for RV. I may have to put this in an article on our RV site http://campersmotorhomesonline.com.
Needless to say, we love returning to Orcas. We will be here for about 3 weeks, staying until just past President’s Weekend. From there we know we will head south, but we’re not too sure where our stops will be and for how long we’ll stay at each. This is the luxury of the road, and we’ll be bringing you much more of it in the next few days!