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Wednesday, September 29, 2010


It is time to share some details about our new (1987 NEW) Motor Home.

Driving back to Bellingham to manufacture and replenish my blood supply, I was 'CELL'N' with my l'il Sister Millie, who lives in KNOXVILLE, Tennessee.

Hold on, Sis...Gotta hang up...just saw a road sign for RV AMERICA...says they have the largest indoor RV display in the Country.

We hung up...I took the exit at pretty high speed, hung a right and pulled into the RV AMERICA lot on I-25 North in LOVELAND, Colorado.

"May I help you?

Typical Senior response..."Yes...the Men's Room, right back."

Whew...thanks...I'm Bruce...etc...walking...etc...and I need a small Motor Home to help me walk to Key West.

Yeah, sure...Kevin...would you help this ...Gentlemen ( didn't impress that guy, shoved down a tier, I think).

Kevin listened

Yes, Bruce, I have just the Motor Home you are looking for...gets up from his desk and leads me out into the lot...Motor Homes of every size, make, and design...never saw so many choices.

Here we are . These Motor Homes are all priced in your $$ range...2 - $3,000.

I must say, Kevin hit the nail on the head...before us sat 4 or 5 really nice looking Type 3 Motor Homes...all used, but in beautiful condition.

I was looking for one a bit smaller...kinda like that one...pointing at the Toyota DOLPHIN parked at the head of the row.

Well, yes, the Dolphin is VERY much in demand. This Motor Home is higher, however than you are looking is $5,000.00. My Manager has already turned down offers for less than $5,000.

Disappointed, we return to Kevin's office. All sales offices are beautifully appointed - most with a couple hundred photographs of Motor Homes with grinning couples standing in front - new happy owners I figured.

Kevin and I take our conversation to other things...eventually I give him a SAM & ME card...he pulls up "SENIORS WALKING"...and for 5 minutes forgets I'm there.

Say, Bruce, - he finally remembers me - ...let me go chat with the right back...

OK, The Owner says for your walking effort, he will reduce the price to $4,000.

We chat for another half hour.

Kevin is chatting away about something important - to him- ...I casually take my AmEx card out, slide it across his table...

Take my Credit Card...Run it through for (final price is not for public knowledge)$____.__ and it's a deal.

Off goes Kevin, my card in hand. He is gone for at least 15 minutes.
Kevin returns, hands me back my AmEx Card, casually sliding official looking papers across his table to me...

You just STOLE that Motor Home...(True, it was made out for considerably less than the asking $5,000.00).

I signed the papers & slid them back over to him..

Oh, by the way, I won't return for at least 30 'bout you store my new Motor Home and SAM's trailer til I get back.

Bruce...we Can't do that...

OK... I reach for the papers I just signed...

Kevin picks up the documents...OK, ever need a job.....

30 days later, I sit in my Mobile Home parked in a cozy "Sam's" RV resort, writing this evening's Blog.

Oh, by the way...MH has a name...offered by (no name) one of Suzanne's Students In Detention, Bellingham...a group of teenagers held in detention ( ...I have no idea. why...) who, as a group, have been "followers" of my Blogs since I wrote the first one many month's before I took the first step from under The Peace Arch.

"SPIA" for (in the student's own words...SENIORS PERFORMING INCREDIBLE ACTS...

I think SPIA is a good name...a tribute not to me, but to "SENIORS". Thankyou.

Some Specs:

1987 Toyota 4-cylinder Automatic; Dual rear wheels; Front Disc & Shoe on Drum rears.
The Box "Home" is 21 feet. It has Propane Hot Water Heater for Shower, Kitchen & Bathroom.
Refrigerator is LARGE, AC 120 and / or Propane. Stove is 4-Burner & LARGE Oven with Propane. Queen Bed is Over-The-Cab. Settee opens for sleeping two, and couch opens for sleeping one (i.e., sleeps 5).

It sports storage galore. All woodwork is beautifully finished...AND EVERYTHING FITS. All windows have sliding panels backed by screens. Three ceiling vents open with screens. An Air Conditioner is included. All windows have Venition Blinds and or curtains.

Everywhere one looks there is a highly efficient overhead or sidewall light.

Stereo Speakers are mounted over the settee & couch.

The Outside of the Toyota and "Home" is like nearly new...not a scratch or dent to be found. In fact, the Outside is ALMOST as sheik as the Inside...Almost, but not quite. The inside is pristine..finished and polished in every detail. AC and DC outlets abound, Light floods every corner. Cushions could have been manufactured last week, not in 1987.

Today, Toyota, Ft. Collins, Colorado, went through the motor and transmission...found a itty bitty oil leak on the front crankshaft could use a tune-up (when I get some $$ )...(set me back $42.00).

Then took it to T & T Tires, Loveland, Colorado, checked and rotated all tires (tread is Good To Go), and all brakes have over 50% of the pads remaining with the Discs & Drums in Good Condition (set me back $20.00).

In short, We have a gem on our hands.

Hope I'm worth it.

Hope Jodi enjoys it. We will find out tomorrow. Jodi arrives from Phoenix at Noon sharp.

Sunday, September 26, 2010




WINTHROP, WASHINGTON (On The North Cascade Highway - US 20)










BLAIR & MAXINE STEVENS (74 Years Together)

Yesterday morning, drove out of Bellingham at 6:30 am. Crossed the Cascade Mountains on US 20 (same road as in Yellowstone Park). Picked up US 97 a bit beyond the "old west" town of WINTHROP, Washington, and drove South on the West shore of the Mighty Columbia River.

When I was a kid it was mighty. Today, it is a series of gentle flowing lakes behind a number of Dams.

Turned onto "Alternate US 97" the final 6 miles to Chelan and its magnificent deep Blue Crystal Clear Lake Chelan. The Family reunion was held in the Log -Cabin - Episcopal Church on the main drag, 1/2 block from Lake Chelan and The Chelan River which flows OUT of the Southeast corner of lake.

Over 50 "Relatives" arrived from all over the USA and Canada, representing over a half dozen families of connected "blood relatives" and five generations. Many brought their own "Family Tree", which were all compiled for later printing & distribution. Others brought photos of absent relatives and ones who long ago passed away. Documents, newspaper clippings, etc were in great number...all spread out on big tables or hanging from the walls.

Everyone wore a name tag giving the Family (clan) or Families to make it easier to track down if he/she were direct blood related or by-marriage related.

Turned out nearly everyone was some degree of Cousin to nearly everyone else.

We ALL started from two families...the TUTTLE and the PASLEY...when two TUTTLE Brothers married two PASLEY Sisters. Subsequent marriages added more family names. So, my lineage is:


The Brockmans hailed from NorthWest Germany; the Tuttles hailed from England and the Maynards hailed from Norway...all three families good VIKING Stock.

Upon arriving, I was interested in two things:

THE WAGON TRAINS OVER THE OREGON TRAIL: (most of which I just walked)

The Oregon Trail information is available & is being forwarded to me by Jim PASLEY.

THE LADY OF THE LAKE: A few at the reunion actually sailed / worked on one or more of the MANY ships built and operated by the Tuttle family as Tourist Boats on Lake Chelan...even before The Grand Coulee Dam project of the mid & late 1930s.

From non-family sources, I learned that the Tuttles bid for and were awarded a contract to build and operate a FERRY BOAT and BARGES to support the building of Grand Coulee Dam.

Because of their many years of Tour Boat operations on Lake Chelan, the Tuttles felt the new Lake Roosevelt forming rising behind Grand Coulee Dam would offer a new Tourist Business opportunity. So, they built two or three MORE new boats - built in a Seattle Shipyard below The AURORA BRIDGE (carries US 99 which runs from Canada into South America) at the junction of the Ship Canal and Lake Union,

President FDR Roosevelt (Lake Roosevelt is named for FDR), visited Grand Coulee upon its 1939 completion. FDR sailed on a Tuttle boat during that visit, which the Tuttles followed up with a massive PR Media project to promote tourism (on their new boats, The VAGABOND, The MISS COULEE and the SPOKANE) on the new LAKE ROOSEVELT.

World War II ended those efforts. One of the new Tuttle boats. MISS COULEE, was trucked to Lake Chelan, where she joined the Tuttle's already many-years successful tourism company.

MISS COULEE was re-named: LADY OF THE LAKE. The Pilot House of The Lady is today on display about 100 feet above the Chelan River where it flows out of Lake Chelan.

While standing on a dock on Lake Chelan, 4 attractive young women asked me to take their picture...I did, on my camera...No, No, No...on our camera,, I did that also. ...'Where you from? "...from...and...and..and BALLARD."

Oh, Uncle, Babe (Frank) lives in Ballard...he is up at the family reunion at that Church...I point

Really, what is his name?

Last name is Brockman...

Gee, I went to High School with a Phil Brockman...he is a teacher now, I think...

Well, Phil is my First Cousin.

You're kidding...

Nope...tell you about I put your picture from my camera in my Blog so Phil can see you

You have a Blog ?...

(We can skip over THAT conversation)

Arriving back at the Church, I tell Uncle Babe who I just met..."...hold on"...

Babe's wife, Els.. - oops - Elanore, dials up her cell & hands me the phone...Phil says, "Hi, met Sharon...your kidding.."...

and so the reunion went.

The Church kicked us out at 4:00 pm. Everyone had things to do and places to go...

I decided I would continue on my drive to Denver. I drove Alternate US 97 to WENATCHEE...the Apple Kingdom - and continued South ON US 97 to I-90 / I-82. I was waiting for a phone call from Ed Price in Adrain, Oregon, where I planned to stay Sunday night. As his call did not come (he was on a private trip until late Sunday (tomorrow) I decided to try to mend a torn relationship with my Sister-In-Law, Pat Maynard, who lives in SUNNYSIDE, Washington..

I dialed my cell 411...Verizon Information...only one "P" Maynard listed...let's try it...Ring Ring Ring..."Hello..."

Hi, Pat, this is your Brother...

I don't have a Brother...

Yes, Pat, this is Bruce, your Brother...

SILENCE....Oh My GOD...Bruce...where are you..what did you...

VERIZON line went dead.

I was driving over the barren hills North of YAKIMA, went into a deep stone cut & lost the signal.Five minutes later, got Pat back, loaded her address into my GPS...

I'll be there i 45 minutes .

I introduced Pat to my Brother, Jay, in 1951. They married. Jay died a number of years ago from Leukemia complications. For reasons I will not discuss, I had not seen Pat since Jay's death...until last evening.

We had an emotional reunion...she treated me to Din Din at KFC (my first time ever in any KFC). I stayed the night...Pat and I talked and talked... This morning, Pat treated me to the Sunday Morning VFW Breakfast...Pat's Sister, Bev and Hubby joined us.
Hugs to / from both Sisters...and I drove to Boise, where I am holed up - AGAIN - at the Airport Motel 6...super clean / new rooms @ $39.00. I stay here often as I drive back & forth on my walk.

After the last 36 hours, I am an emotional wreck...trying to recover lost time...lost family...

Good Night...I'm Pooped

Friday, September 24, 2010


It is Friday evening, September 24, 2010. I have been in Bellingham for nearly one month recovering from significant blood loss during the recent walk over the Rockies and Great Plains. I now feel GREAT.

Tomorrow morning I leave home at 6:00 am. My initial destination is CHELAN, Washington. Chelan is on the East slopes of the Cascade Mountains, sitting on a long deep lake, Lake Chelan. Nearby is the Columbia River with Grand Coulee Dam upstream a few miles. Chelan is also in the great fruit growing region of Washington State.

At 9:00 am, begins the Reunion. After Sunday Morning Breakfast, I will drive South on US 97 to I-84 and then to I-82. I plan to overnight Sunday in Adrian, Oregon (near Boise, Idaho) with Ed & Lee, then on Monday to Rawlings, Wyoming. On Tuesday, I plan to arrive in Loveland, Colorado at RV AMERICA where awaits my 1987 Toyota "Dolphin" Motor Home.

Wednesday morning, I have an appointment with Toyota, Ft. Collins, Colorado to go over the engine and drive train, including lubrication, filters, hoses, clamps, exhaust integrity, lights, etc. Wednesday afternoon, T&T Tires of Loveland gets the MH (hey, we need a, please) to check the suspension, tires and brakes.

Thursday, Jodi arrives at noon at the Denver Airport, having flown (with her bicycle) from PHOENIX, Arizona. She will hitch a ride with rodeo friends to RV AMERICA to join me. We will drive the Van and SAM's Trailer to her friends ranch for safe keeping for a month or three.

On Friday, Jodi and I are on our way in our Motor Home to the wee lake on our old friend US 287, 20 miles North of Lamar, Colorado. From there, I resume my walk to Key West.

Jodi plans to drive on to Lamar, take her bike down off the MH and ride back up US 287 to find me. Together, we will walk/ride to Lamar...not to spill the beans, but Jodi will soon(among MANY other exciting things) manage a ladies-only bike trek coast to coast.

I am extremely eager to finally meet Jodi. We have spoken a time or two on the cell, have e-mailed a number of times, and seem to have a "fit" in many areas. We shall see.

I have a thumbnail of Jodi. I am duly impressed...not fair...I am VERY impressed with this lady of many and varied accomplishments and ongoing activities...taking time out from her full and demanding life to accompany, drive, and watch over me to Key West and back to Denver.

Got a sneaking feeling good things are about to happen.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


The Van sits on the Taxi-way.

A long line of projects - getting shorter by the moment - await their turn.

Take-Off is set for 6 am, Saturday, September 25, 2010.

Nearly 4 weeks since I drove out of Lamar, Colorado, with the ER Surgeon take another step towards Key West and we will be picking you up from the side of the road...

Bellingham medical confirmed my problem was nutritional...i.e., I must start eating. Crossing the Oregon High Desert, Idaho, the Rocky Mountains, and the much of the Colorado Great Plains, I walked for 8 weeks, taking One (1) day of rest in Rawlings, Colorado.

Covering 30 - 40 miles a day in 100 F. temperatures at 5,000 - 8,000 foot elevations, one does not find a lot of "watering holes".

My mind was set on pushing my body to the limit...intentionally teasing myself into extreme find the "breaking" point for this 75 year old apparition.

I found it.

Problem was, I sweated and tinkled so much in the extraordinary conditions...all without finding / consuming food to replace the lost nutrients, I punished my body to the point that it simply had nothing more to go on...kinda like running out of gas and oil.

Like an abused motor, my body nearly seized up. It forced me into the Emergency Room in Lamar, Colorado, where I received the ultimatum...stop walking, start eating, or we pick you up off the side of the road.

So, one month later, here I sit at this computer. I have gained 10 pounds back (lost 40 pounds walking from the Peace Arch to Lamar), and my body is nursed - somewhat - back to health.

A number of major changes occurred in this month of healing.

I shut down my Company - after 30 years -. I can now devote my entire attention on my walk to Key West.

I have obtained a very nice motor home - sits in Denver awaiting me - providing cooking and sleeping accommodations. No more deprivations there.

Jodi will join me in Denver. Jodi will drive the MH to Key West, accompany me on her bicycle for much of my walk, and together we will build my health back to peak performance. No more "double walking".

With Jodi's permission, I plan to share some exciting and fascinating information about this extraordinary lady.

Saturday, I will drive the Van from Bellingham to CHELAN, Washington. Chelan is the site of much of my childhood days. This is the family of my Mother, Leona (Brockman)(Tuttle) Maynard. Leona (Mother) passed away 6 years ago during bypass surgery. She willed herself to stay alive until my Son Ronald and I arrived at the University of Washington Hospital, SEATTLE, where we shared her final hour.

In Chelan, I will, as a member of the extensive clan of the families Stevens, Tuttle, Brockman, Pasley, Rubin, Blair, Garlock (and more), attend a family reunion. We will honor Blair and Maxine Stevens as they celebrate their 74th Wedding Anniversary.

These families have lived the Oregon Trail, the Apple Industry of Washington State, the building of Grand Coulee Dam, and the "Lady Of The Lake" tourist boat on Lake Chelan. There are some fascinating folks in this bunch. Hopefully, this Blog will share some of them and their adventures.

On Sunday, I will drive to Adrain, Oregon, where I hope to visit with Ed and his Son, Lee for the night. On Monday, plan to drive to Rawlings, Wyoming, where Ed's wife, Betty lives and works all Winter as Librarian of the Rawlings School District. On Tuesday, I plan to drive to Denver, where my Motor Home awaits. (Help: MH needs a name...any suggestions).

I will spend the remainder of Tuesday and all day Wednesday, preparing the MH for the walk to Key West.

On Thursday, September 30, Jodi flies into Denver from PHOENIX, Arizona, to join me.

We plan to leave the Van, SAM, and SAM's Trailer in Denver. No, SAM will NOT complete the walk with me. She has served me well over very difficult terrain and deserves a rest. We have NOT, however seen the last of SAM. For the record, SAM is in excellent condition and could easily complete the walk to Key West.

On Friday, October 01, or Saturday, October 02, Jodi and I will drive in the Motor Home to the Game Reserve Lake 20 miles North of Lamar on Highway 287, the exact spot I walked to before Lamar ER events took me off the road. From there I / we will begin the completion of my walk from the Peace Arch to Key West.

Last evening, I attended a meeting of Squalicum Yacht Club. I was told by one sailing friend that they were amazed that I made it to EVERETT, Washington, 60 miles from Bellingham. Another said he considered my walk a success when I reached Mount Hood, Oregon. Guess there remain those who doubt I will ever see Key West. Perhaps I will not see Key West, but be certain... what lies BEHIND me has been a fantastic experience.. Us Seniors should be proud of what we can do when we set our mind to it.

Now, lets get out onto the road and silence the remaining doubting Thomas's.

Got a feeling, we ain't seen nothing yet.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


The End Of An Era arrived yesterday, Monday, September 20, 2010.

It was 30 years ago that Christiane and I created and together ran our Wholesale Packaging Company, SPECTRUM ASCONA, INC.

Christiane left our Company on May 05, 1995, suffering with Breast Cancer. In my heart, our Company shifted into a "holding" mode that day. I remember, the flowers bloomed beside the Office Door as she walked out for the last time.

Christiane died January 12, 2001. As I walk across America, I silently repeat...."this step is for you" Christiane..."this step is for you"...; I walk into my future...a future she was not allowed to have.

Yesterday, I formally stopped accepting new orders.

This morning, the holding mode is lifted. Our journey with our Company is now complete.

When SPECTRUM ASCONA, INC. was born, everyone in America (and Canada) took sweets home in a white paper bag tied with a red string. What Christiane and I did changed all that.

It was 1980. My employer, Krupp International, Inc (daughter company of Krupp, Germany) was in it's final decline. I was let go, being denied unemployment, etc. For many months, we ate rice and sometimes meat, wondering what to do. The time was a time of Recession. I sent out over 100 resume's...not receiving a single response - and I was well known in the industry.

Christiane's Cousin, Francis Grimm, owned a tiny box and bag manufacturing company in France. In the recent 3 years, Francis had sent us 4 or 5 samples of his work, asking if there was not a market in the USA. I could hold all our samples in one hand.

One day in January, we took those samples out of the drawer, looking at who would pay for such a package just to take a Truffle home?

We develooped a list from the Manhattan, New York City yellow pages of 30 Companies we thought might use such a package. One after the other, we telephoned, telling them we "imported" elegant "designer" packaging, and would they like to see our samples. We got 30 "Yes" responses.

We visited each selected Company. Response was:

How much do they cost? Our Reply: "We don't know"
How many do I have to buy? Our Reply: "We don't know"
How quickly can I have an order delivered? Our Reply: "We don't know"

We telephoned Francis, told him we had his potential customers, and repeated the questions we received.

Francis said there was to be a Confection Exposition in Paris on February 7, and we should be there. He would sponser us and introduce us to his colleagues and friends.

Christiane and I had NO $$...we were barely eating. I asked my Mother what she thought we should reply, she bought two round-trip tickets, New York - Paris. We arrived in Paris, Francis waiting for us at the gate. He drove us to his Factory and put us up in a hotel.

On February 07, 1980, Christiane and I walked into the International Confection Exposition in Paris. In hand (pocket), we had our business cards for our Non-Existant Company - her idea -.

We left Paris with agreements from seven major packaging manufacturers from Holland, France, and Switzerland in hand, together with a suitecase full of samples, product and price lists.

We took the train - 2nd Class - to Christiane's home in ASCONA, Switzerland, where I sweated for one week, compiling our own "Catalog" of products, complete with samples, prices, and availability. Working with Krupp, I was well acquainted with importation procedures and costs, so I was able to make quite accurate calculations of delivered costs to our New York area Customers.

We returned to our home in White Plains, 30 miles North of Manhattan. We retained a lawyer who created our Company. We made appointments with our "Customers". A number of them wanted immediate action, so we invited them to our home, set up a meeting room in our basement.

Our first order was for $800.00.

Over the next 30 days, we received a few additional small orders. We were informed that we had something the confection industry needed and we should attend the Retail Confectioners International Exposition in Pittsburgh.

We telephoned Francis. He arrived two days before the Exposition. We drove in our Oldsmobile Station Wagon to Pittsburgh, only to find that we had not registered as Exhibitors. There was not a single space available in the Exhibit Hall of the Hotel overlooking Three Rivers Stadium.

Approaching Hotel Management, they allowed us to set up our "table" in the lobby outside the Exhibit Hall. (I still use that table EVERY DAY in my office).

The Exposition ran Friday 12 - 3, Saturday, 12 - 5, and Sunday 12 - 3.

Within 1/2 hour of the Exposition opening, attendees, crowded around our "Exhibit", became frustrated at not being able to push their way into our "booth"; without asking, two more tables were brought from the Hotel; set up in a circle; "Customers" moved samples from our display to the new tables, and proceded to place orders. Christiane manned the main display. Francis and I each took one of the new tables.

We drove home Sunday afternoon.

Francis and I put the orders into some kind of order.

When we dropped Francis off to board his plane back to Paris, he took with him, $48,000.00 in orders...all from the Exposition.


Today, 30 years later, the final order has been taken. The flowers by the Office Door sit naked, huddled in the rain whipped into a frenzy by the stiff wind. I sit in my office, looking at the computers, the printers, the phones, the FAX, and remaining 3 file cabinets - which not long ago numbered 14 - and simply cannot hold back the tears.

What a ride it has been. We served thousands of candy makers. Our Designer packaging can be found on nearly every retail shelf in the USA and Canada. As I pass through our local Supermarkets and those I visit on my walk, I let my fingers slide over the elegant displays of truffles - in OUR packages - lining the shelves...; silently, I whisper...this step is for you, Christiane...this step is for you.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Yeah, when I was a kid, I did fly a bunch. Always dreamed of being a pilot. Was destructed when Dad asked me - in all seriousness - where I intended to pile it. Later on, I did in fact fly...and was quite good at it. Had tons of fun chasing coyotes through the sage brush and hopping over barb wire fences in the desert East of PASCO, Washington. Oh, fun fun.

Herb, my instructor and owner of the KENNEWICK airport / planes I flew, offered in 1947, to get me my pilots license for $300.00. I did not have that kind of money, so missed out. Flew for years on a student license, but never finished to fulfill my dream. Later on, flew a couple sail planes and once a twin Piper 240, making a 3-point landing in the rain and fog. Creepy on final as the Space Needle Restaurant was about level with the cockpit as we descended into Boeing Field.

But, I digress.

Yesterday, the Medical Field finally figured out how to complete my blood tests begun exactly one week ago - which they screwed up. Doctor says my body is manufacturing new red blood cells. Blood test confirmed that at count of 10.8, my red blood cells were indeed (still very low) recovering simply by eating a proper diet. Doctor says continued recovery can be achieved while walking - provided I eat properly.

So, next week, I return to the road. Perhaps I will do one more blood count test before taking off. At least, I was correct in that I self-induced the loss of red blood cells by abusing my body; i.e., leaching out needed elements by drinking excessive water in the 100 F. temperatures and NOT eating properly to replace the expelled nutrients.

I have always serviced my cars, boats, and home on a regular routine. I find it unbelievable that I allowed my body to go without service during those eight weeks of forced walks through deserts and over the Rocky Mountains. But facts are facts. I'm fortunate I turned myself in to ER when I got too fatigued to continue. Being recovered from the side of the road is NOT a desirable end to my walk...but, that is where I nearly ended up.

Returning to Denver next week, I will get my 1987 Dolphin Motor Home serviced, and resume my walk from the spot I stopped 20 miles North of Lamar, Colorado on US 287. Jodi will join me in Denver. She will see me all the way to Key West, insuring I do all the right things to stay healthy and safe. How fortunate can I get...looking forward to you, Jodi.

Before reaching Denver, I plan to attend a family reunion in CHELAN, Washington. Am excited about this opportunity, as most of the relatives are folks I either met as a very young fellow, or have never met at all. They are from my Mother's side, primarily the Tuttle family plus 5 or 6 new family names; many have been prominent in the Apple Industry of Washington State, active in building the Grand Coulee Dam (which I remember visiting when scaffolding was still hanging from it), and providing the original "Lady Of The Lake", a tourist cruise boat on Lake Chelan. Some, I understand, came West over the Oregon Trail (much of which I just walked). Doubt if they are still alive, but their stories may be.

I plan to leave my Van in Denver while completing my walk. Will return to Denver with the Mobile Home...then decide what to do with all the vehicles. Have a good idea, but it is premature to discuss at the moment. One thing is for certain...this Ole' Man is eager to get on with it...and hopefully take you along with SAM AND ME.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


















SUNSET OVER LOPEZ ISLAND (L), SHAW iSLAND (R) & SAN JUAN ISLAND (Distant) from East Sound looking West

SUNSET OVER SAN JUAN ISLAND - Looking West from Upright Channel

SAN JUAN CHANNEL - Looking West North-West

JAMES ISLAND - looking South from Bellingham Channel - Olympic Mountains in Background - Giving "Cone Of Protection" -

SAN JUAN ISLANDS -Looking East - Mt. Baker in Background 120 miles away

SAN JUAN ISLAND - (British Camp: Upper Left / Am. Camp: Lower Right)

Today, I travelled by car and Washington State Ferry into the San Juan Islands, ending up in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island at the home of dear friends Les and Lynn. I am now back in Bellingham, full of new excitement.

It has been a VERY long day, so, will wait till morning to write about this magnificent Island Group...highly contested by Canada and the USA with a VERY interesting and surprising outcome orchestrated from the other side of the World.

The San Juan Islands number something like 172. I often wonder where that number came from. There are about 15 or so major land masses. Some rise majestically into the often blue sky; some lie quite close to the water - often covered over completely at high tide. Then too, there are plenty of reefs and big rocks hiding just beneath the waters rushing overhead at sometimes 3 - 4 knots of speed.

Where to start ! The islands were formed at the end of the last ice age some 10,000 years ago. Many of the islands have cliffs full of fossils- mostly marine, but sometimes a surprise pokes through the sandstone. The waters are very deep, clear and cold. 300 - 600 feet depths separate many of the islands. The tides create twice-a-day rivers of salt water flowing in from the Straits of Juan DeFuca and the Pacific Ocean some 75 or so miles to the West.

The Pacific Ocean water generally flows into The Salish Sea (the local Indian name for the great inland sea we call Puget Sound) at the bottom. As it spreads into Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands and Canada's inland sea to the North, it wells up from the depths, bringing to the surface, nutrients to feed an unending cycle of sea creatures topped by the magical Orca Whale (Killer Whale) - remember KEIKO - the Whale, NOT my Fiance' from Kokura, Japan).

One thing for certain, one does NOT want to accidentally fall into these waters. Temperature is about 53 F. year round...cold enough to render one hypothermic in five minutes or so, and perhaps survival (without proper protective clothing) about 15 minutes. In addition, the fast moving water passing over reefs and around Islands create turbulent undertows which will take any floating object (like a person) under the water and far away quite quickly. Not a good thing to do...fall into The Salish Sea.

And yet, this must be one of the last unspoiled playgrounds for animals and persons alike.

The Islands can be reached by boat, airplane (land and seaplanes have scheduled flights), or kayak - yes kayak. Many kayakers think nothing of paddling the swift cold Salish Sea waters for many miles just to reach a favorite secluded beach, or bob in the sometimes quite rough waters to catch a glimpse of one of the Orca Pods, or perhaps a colony of seals basking in the sun on a low-slung reef.

Primarily, though, the easiest way to reach the San Juan Islands is via Washington State Ferry. The ferries depart from ANACORTES, Washington on Fidalgo Island (considered to already be in the San Juan Island Group), or from SYDNEY, Vancouver Island, Canada. One pays only for one way...the return to Anacordes is free. Vehicle and Driver from Anacortes to FRIDAY HARBOR and return is about $50.00. Seniors (65 +) can "walk" on for $6.00 or so round trip.

In the Summer months, special walk-on ferries serve the Islands from Bellingham, Seattle, and Victoria, B.C., Canada.

Once a mecca for Salmon, recent years have seen a significant decline in the fishery. Surprisingly, however, the Summer of 2010 is one of record proportions, with some rivers full of Salmon returning from the Open Pacific Ocean after spending 3 - 5 years "growing up" out there. I have not heard a consensus of why so many Salmon are returning to the Salish Sea after so many years of declining numbers. But it seems to be so and is worth investigating.

North American Indians have lived in and around the San Juan Islands for thousands of years.
Many Indian Communities thrive along the Salish Sea today. Special treaties made 150 years ago between the local tribes and the White Man are honored and respected. Lummi Indians, the local Bellingham tribe, have their community adjacent to and in reality, a part of Bellingham. The Lummi are active part in the local economy and play a significant role in local fisheries.
And, Lummi's are only one of the many local tribes.

The San Juan Islands were discovered from the Sea by the Spanish in the 1700's. Most Island names have Spanish origin. Years later, the British explored the Pacific Northwest waters...primarily Captain Vancouver, whose name is prominently affixed to many landmarks - i.e., Vancouver Island, Vancouver, B.C., Vancouver, Washington, etc.

Contemporary with the Spanish and British, the Russians were VERY active along the West Coast of North America. Russia had trading posts from Alaska in the Arctic to the shores of San Francisco Bay, California (see the "Russian River" near San Francisco - I used to swim in the Russian River). Indeed, the United States "purchased" Alaska from Russia.

All this leads me to one specific event which resulted in the San Juan Islands becoming part of the United States of America...not through fighting or acquisition, but rather through one of history's most successful third-party negotiations. It began when an "American" potato farmer on San Juan Island shot and killed a Hudson Bay (English) Pig back in June of 1859.

Hudson Bay Company was firmly entrenched in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1800's. When American settlers came West (see Oregon Trail), many settled in the Island Group tucked away in the cold waters of the Salish Sea. History tells us that an American set up his homestead smack in the middle of Hudson Bay Company activities, and proceeded to plant potatoes. A resident English Pig helped himself to the newly planted potatoes, resulting in ignored complaints from the American, who took matters into his own hands and shot the intruding Pig.

The Governor at Vancouver, B.C., Canada promptly sent a force of English troops to San Juan Island to protect its outnumbered citizens (Actually, Americans - USA folks - outnumbered Brits on Vancouver Island also). President Buchanan countered by sending an American force to San Juan Island to counter the British troops. (Historic note: The first USA Commander on San Juan Island during the "Pig War" was General Pickett, of Civil War Fame. General Pickett's home still stands in Bellingham) .

Another "historic" figure emerged from the early days of "American Camp". One 2nd Lt. Roberts a recent West Point Graduate in Engineering, was assigned to American Camp. His duty included designing and building the defences of the Camp. His "redoubt", included 5 great 32 pound canon off the ship USS MASSACHUSETTES. None of the great guns fired a shot in anger. Historically, however, Lt. Roberts went on and into history as the author of ROBERTS RULES OF ORDER, still used by Parlamantarians for conduct of formal proceedings the world over.

The "Pig War" story is well written in many books - history and otherwise -. Crux of the matter is that the two military groups agreed to disagree and for the next 13 years, lived in some degree of luxury and cooperation. The Americans created "American Camp" on the South End of San Juan Island. The Brits created "British Camp" on Garrison Bay near the North End of San Juan Island. Life was good for both more dead pigs...but boring. As I have it, the most contact between American and British Camp was to have alternate-week hosting of the Dances held until it all came to an end in 1872.

The Pig War confrontation was put on hold while America conducted its Civil War and Canada was busy with some internal problems elsewhere.

The entire matter was referred to third-party negotiation, with the arbiter being non other than the leader of Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm I. The Kaiser established the international boundary to run through Haro Straits from The Straits of Juan DeFuca to Vancouver, B.C. This boundary put Vancouver Island and adjacent "Gulf Islands" firmly in the hands of the British (Canada), and the San Juan Islands firmly in the hands of the United States.

Monuments on San Juan Island pay tribute to Kaiser's decision. Noteworthy is the comment that the monument is one of the few - if not the only - dedicated to a peaceful settlement and not dedicated to a waring settlement as most other monuments throughout the USA do. (Stop and read the "Historic" monuments found along USA highways...revealing how we came to be the nation we are today).

I refer only to San Juan Island in today's Blog. That is because, I had no time to visit and photograph any of the other many and equally interesting places of the San Juan Islands.

Next weekend, our Yacht Club, Squalicum Yacht Club, of which I was Commodore in 1995, holds it annual "clean up" of Sucia Island. Sucia Island is a gift from the private citizen boaters of the Salish Sea. It was purchased by the Yacht Clubs - all of them - and handed over to the State of Washington as a marine sanctuary / park to be maintained and used for the benefit of all boaters. Our Yacht Club, Squalicum Yacht Club, has a tradition going back to the 1930's, of hosting "clean up" of one or more of the various San Juan Islands.

Next weekend, is Fossil Bay (millions of fossils on the beaches), Sucia Island. I plan to hitch a ride with one of my many boating friends, and do my part in the two-day "clean up". Of course, the work parties will hopefully be the subject of another blog - complete with pics. It is said in some Yachting circles that Squalicum Yacht Club events produce some of the best cuisine to be found in the Islands of the Salish Sea.

If anyone is in the area, please let me know if you would like to join us on Sucia. You will work your tail off, and remember it for the rest of your life. I am certain I can arrange an extra bunk or two aboard one Yacht or another. Bring working shoes, gloves, and rain is, after all the Pacific Northwest.

Monday, September 13, 2010


















SQUALICUM HARBOR - BELLINGHAM (My 38' Yacht "Journey" was docked here)



Still no word from my Dr. regarding new blood tests. Very very unsatisfactory.

In the meantime, I have made a tour of my town, Bellingham, complete with pics, which may be of some interest.

Bellingham sits on Bellingham Bay in the North East corner of Puget Sound, about 100 miles North of Seattle and 45 miles South of Vancouver, B.C., Canada. The USA/CANADA border is 20 miles North of Bellingham at the town of Blaine.

Bellingham began as a lumbering and Salmon processing center in the mid - late 1800's. At one time, the largest Salmon processing factory in the world was in Bellingham. When I arrived in 1987, I could not navigate my yacht at night through Bellingham Bay because of the unending strings of Gill Nets set to catch the millions of Salmon entering the Skagit River, the Nooksak River, local streams and the Fraser River in Canada. Today, Gill Nets are nearly nonexistent and the Salmon are rare to these waters (all this in only 23 years).

Bellingham is a People Town. There are walking paths criss-crossing all of Bellingham. You can walk anywhere on a well maintained path to any part of Bellingham. A number of organized walking groups use the paths daily. Training for my walk, I used many of the pathways. A particular interesting one is along the 3 - mile Bellingham waterfront. Much of this path is over the waters of Bellingham Bay. In season, it is allowed to take Dungeness Crab from the walkway.

Bellingham is a consolidation of three early towns. Fairhaven, to the South of downtown Bellingham, is a true artist colony with period buildings from the 1800's still used today. New construction in Fairhaven has maintained the architecture of old Fairhaven. It is a favorite destination for locals.

Bellingham is the terminus for the Alaskan Ferry. Year-round ocean-going ferry service is available from the new Fairhaven Ferry Terminal, which is also the AmTrack terminal.

In Bellingham's front yard sit the San Juan Islands, a group of 172 islands of unspoiled beauty. A boater can often sail or cruise in a single day to the most distant island where one may find their favorite bay filled with Bald Eagles, Dungeness Crab, and not another boat in sight.

As the result, Bellingham's Harbor is a very busy place. It is home for many commercial fishing boats for crab, halibut, salmon, shrimp, and a number of other seafood species which can be found in and around the San Juan Islands...or as far away as Alaska. Sitting next to the commercial fleet are hundreds of yachts from 16 foot to 116 foot. The waterfront marinas are maintained in immaculate condition. Parks surround the marinas...a continuation of the many walking paths.

Bellingham is also home to Western Washington University. Beautifully sited in the saddle of two hills South of town, WWU affords a wide range of studies. In days past, many teachers received their degree at WWU. Today, one can study a number of high-tech subjects equal to any in the USA.

In 1987, the population of Bellingham was roughly 30,000. Today, it is more than double that number. Communities are thriving in all directions. Favorite is Lake Whatcom, a fresh-water lake over 300 feet deep providing clean clear water for the growing population. Another favorite is Lake Padden and the magnificent Lake Padden Golf Course adjoining the Park-like setting. Trails abound, as do sports fields, a dog-run field, and lake swimming with life guards in attendance.

Bellingham is perfectly sited to receive far less inclement weather than either Seattle or Vancouver, B.C.. Bellingham is in the "cone of protection" formed by the Olympic Mountains along the Pacific Ocean to the SouthWest. The ocean weather systems bump up against the Olympic Mountains, creating a true Rain Forest on the Ocean side. Even some of the San Juan Islands have Cactus growing due to the protection of the Olympic Mountains.

Then, too, there is Mt. Baker, an active volcano just 80 miles East of Bellingham, The ski resort at Mt. Baker often has the earliest opening date of the entire USA, and has been known to have the highest snow pack (in the world??)

Skiing continues into May when the annual Ski-to-Sea Race is held, welcoming hundreds of teams from around the world; Competitors must ski UP-HILL, then back DOWN-Hill, where a medallion is handed to the next team mate who RUNS DOWN THE MOUNTAIN, where a Road-Racing Bicycle takes over, handing over to canoes on the Nooksak River, then to mountain bikers for the run into the Marina. The final leg is in Bellingham Bay, with competitors paddling kayaks up to 7 miles per hour across the sometimes wickedly rough waters. The finish line is at the waterfront park in Fairhaven next to the Alaskan Ferry Terminal.

There is so much more to Bellingham. Hope this taste helps explain why so many World War II veterans returned to the Pacific Northwest to retire. I have been to the far corners of the USA and the World. One is hard pressed to find a spot to compare to Bellingham.