It’s July of 2020, and we have FINALLY restarted our blog !!! We are determined to finish documenting our incredible trip from last year. We are back home in NC and luckily made it back before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. So, let’s start where we left off last, leaving the beautiful Oregon coast and heading into the equally beautiful Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. We hope these last few posts help us all dream of future travel.
Our destination was an RV site at the Jefferson County fairgrounds where we met up with other Habitat for Humanity RV Caravaners (Jim, Joanne, & Sandy). Bonnie had seen online that a scheduled home build in Port Townsend, WA was short on volunteers and they were asking for help. We were headed in that direction so we decided to stop in and join the build for a week. Jim and Joanne are a retired couple who live in Yuma, AZ and had previously volunteered for several other HFH builds. Sandy was a single, retired lady who traveled all across the country building homes for Habitat for Humanity. She literally had participated in hundreds of HFH home builds over the past several years which was truly an amazing feat. Everyone was very friendly and Jim offered to cook us all dinner on the evening of our arrival. Jim had purchased a huge bag of sweet vidalia onions that he loved to turn into homemade onion rings. Needless to say, the fried chicken and onion rings he and Joanne served were delicious along with tasty side dishes we had brought to the table. They made us immediately feel like family.
Bonnie and I always enjoy working with other volunteers on HFH home build projects because we meet great people, get a chance to give back, and learn about residential construction in the process. This particular house was already framed out but the exterior (OSB) walls had to be insulated with foam board and then sealed with Tyvek house wrap. We met with the on-site Construction Supervisor, Ken Smith, who was this huge man that we affectionately called “The Beast” (you will see why we gave him that nickname further down in this post). He was a super nice guy who definitely knew the home building craft with over 36 years of experience under his tool belt.
Ken handed out work assignments and our RV caravan volunteer team got the job of tacking up foam insulation board. We spent the first few days climbing on ladders and scaffolds while nailing foam insulation board to all of the exterior walls. Sandy decided she really didn’t want to nail up insulation board so she worked independently on other projects that Ken agreed she could tackle on her own. Sandy definitely had a ton of construction experience on many HFH home builds but she clearly liked working by herself rather than working as a member of the team. Jim and Joanne were very friendly and sociable and liked to keep things light so Bonnie and I really enjoyed working with them. Fortunately, the temperature in Port Townsend was fairly pleasant during most workdays so weather wasn’t much of a problem. We continued nailing up foam insulation board each day until Ken told us we were needed to help out on another nearby HFH project.
The next day, we arrived at a small development of HFH homes that was built using an attractive cottage style architecture. All of the homes were quite modest but they were very nicely built and landscaped. Bonnie and I have noticed that each Habitat for Humanity chapter across the country has its own philosophy on building affordable housing. Some chapters buy a large plot of land and develop an entire community of homes while others buy individual lots and integrate each house into an existing neighborhood. I am sure there are many factors that must be considered when each HFH chapter puts together its development plan such as available and affordable land, city zoning, local building codes, and neighborhood covenants.
Ken told us we were needed to dig out around existing fence posts so they could be properly back-filled with concrete. Apparently, this important step was skipped when the fence was initially installed and now some fence posts were starting to tilt and lean. Our crew spent all day digging out post holes, bracing posts, mixing concrete, and then pouring concrete into existing fence post holes. I did a lot of digging when I was a teenager because my father owned a commercial construction company and I needed to earn money towards the purchase of my first car. I didn’t particularly like digging back then and I still didn’t like it much at my age now !!! It was hard labor at its finest but we all worked well together and got the exhausting repair job done.
Ken “The Beast” told us we weren’t yet finished because another line of post holes was needed for a new section of fence. I didn’t see any post hole diggers so I figured we would have to come back the next day with proper tools but “The Beast” had already dug out all of the required post holes and set new fence posts into place by himself !!! We were all amazed at how much work Ken was able to accomplish in such a relatively short period of time. Our work crew continued to mix concrete and pour it into the newly dug holes while Ken ensured the fence line was setup correctly. Fortunately, Ken said we did such a great job at fixing the fence that we would return to the original house build project instead of digging more post holes tomorrow – HOORAY !!! Now, you know why we called Ken “THE BEAST”….
The next day, Bonnie, Jim and I were assigned the job of wrapping the entire house with sheets of Tyvek. Sandy decided that she wanted to work on other more challenging projects which I guess was her right with so many builds on her resume. We were back to climbing ladders and scaffolds while tacking and taping Tyvek wrap onto the foam insulation board we had previously nailed into place. Bonnie, Jim, and I succeeded with wrapping the entire house before our week of volunteer time was up. Here are a few photos of our HFH volunteer crew (can you guess which one is “The Beast”)….
Port Townsend was once a thriving seaport town on Puget Sound but its economy declined during the depression when planned railroad extensions were not built between the town and Tacoma. Several old Victorian style homes built prior to the depression survived and many of them have been restored. Today, Port Townsend is mainly a tourist and retirement community which Bonnie and I explored while in the area. We took a small boat harbor tour, visited a lavender farm, and hung out at nearby Finn River Orchard & Cider Garden. Finn River was an amazing place that offered a fantastic, outdoor family venue paired with delicious food choices and awesome ciders from local apple orchards. Here are some pics from our visit to the Port Townsend area…
Next, we traveled east to Salt Creek Recreation Area where we camped with a view of the Strait of Juan De Fuca. The Strait of Juan De Fuca is a body of water about 96 miles long that is the Salish Sea’s outlet to the Pacific Ocean. It is also the international boundary between Canada and the United States which runs down the center of the Strait’s waterway. Bonnie found a great location for us to camp while we explored Olympic National Park and visited nearby Port Angeles. This recreation area provided us easy access to hike and walk along the beautiful rugged coastline right from our campsite. Below are a group of pictures that were all taken within the Salt Creek Recreation Area…
We hiked the HOH rain-forest within the Olympic Nat’l Park and looked up at enormous redwood trees covered in moss that were hundreds of years old. The HOH forest seemed surreal and you half expected fairies or vampires to pop out of the woods at every turn. The forest is just down the road from Forks, WA, which was the setting for the Twilight series. On another visit into Olympic NP we paddled through the incredibly deep blue waters of Crescent Lake in a canoe and enjoyed an evening cocktail at the historic Crescent Lake Lodge. Check out these photos of Crescent Lake and its lodge…A place we will need to revisit! There are also more photos from Olympic National Park…
Bonnie and I loved this beautiful area and frequently enjoyed short hikes into the unique woodlands. I wanted to see some killer whales in the wild so we signed up for a whale watching tour out of Port Angeles. We did see some seals, dolphins, and migrating humpback whales during the cruise but no killer whales were to be found. Here are some great pics of Port Angeles and our whale watching trip…
Our next stop was going to be Gig Harbor, WA where my cousin, Darci Bauer, lives and then on to Seattle for a visit with Bonnie’s cousin, Jasmine.
Yay, you’re back!
That ferry is the Kalakala. It was run down and they ended up scrapping it. I saw it tied up before it was scrapped, very cool looking.
Howdy, Jasmine !!! That ferry sure looked a lot like an Airstream travel trailer and must have been an incredible vessel in its day. I wish someone with a lot of money would have bought it and restored it to its former glory. We love and miss you… ;0)
Great Photos. Welcome back
Thanks for the welcome back. Glad you enjoyed the photos !!!
Amazing country and beautiful pictures. Thank goodness Covid 19 was not around then. Glad your journey has been safe. Love you both.
Love it as always. Good write up and great pictures.Thanks. Love, Dad.
Thanks for your love and support, Dady-O. Enjoy the pics with more to come in the future… ;0)
Yeah, we were very fortunate to have stopped traveling before COVID hit. Glad you enjoyed the pics, brother. Love ya
So exciting what a wonderful way to pay it forward . You guys are awesome.
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Thanks for following along with us, Kenny. Bonnie and I hope you are doing well.
So fabulous to pick up again in your adventures. Enjoyable writing and photos!!