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Month Ninety-Eight was a month of work and mostly local travel in Washington State. But there were two life-changing things that happened this month – read on to find out more!
I started the month with two days left working the Above and Beyond Music Festival before escaping to Seattle for a couple of days to enjoy the cooler weather.
Then it was back to the Gorge to work boygenius, a quiet one for us as we didn’t have many bookings. I like a couple of their songs so I went in for the show and it was a great one. We also rescued a stray kitten that had been cowering under the Box Office during this show. Yep, I am now a cat mum – finally!
I had to rush to the airport on the last day of work to catch an evening flight to Denver where I was heading for a few days to do what I thought was my biometrics appointment for my citizenship but turned out to be my citizenship interview (more on that in the highlights).
I ended up taking a flight early the next morning instead because they had overbooked the flight, nailed my interview, hung out with my bro-in-law and sis-in-law and the kitties, and then flew back to Seattle.
The last show in our five-show-in-a-row run was Watershed. Typically it is a problematic show with aggressive drunks constantly trying to break into the Oasis and extreme heat, but we were only half full this year and it wasn’t that hot so all in all it went well.
I had eight days off after that and I definitely needed it. Toby and I took our new kitty up to Winthrop near North Cascades for four nights and although the highway through the park was closed because of a fire, we still managed to do a couple of excellent hikes, explored the town, ate out at local restaurants, and went to the small, local cinema, twice.
I had planned to continue through the park to do more hiking and then head to Seattle, but as the road was closed I took the highway further south and spent a night in Leavenworth instead, and then two nights back in Seattle, a city that I always love spending time in.
I picked up one of our workers from the airport then headed back to the Gorge to work our longest show of the season – Bass Canyon – for six days.
Unfortunately, it was very smoky for much of the show but at least it was cool. Our guests were some of the best this season too so it was a fun one to work.
On the last day of the month, I drove from the Gorge to drop our worker Eddy off in Seattle, and then I drove up to Anacortes to take the ferry to Lopez Island for a few days.
Now onto the stats!
Countries Visited: USA
- Washington: George, Snoqualmie, Seattle, Winthrop, Leavenworth, North Bend, Index, Lopez Island
- Colorado: Aurora, Centennial
National and State Parks, Monuments, and UNESCO Sites: North Cascades National Park
Islands Visited: Blackbird Island in Leavenworth, Lopez Island in Washington.
Days on the Road: 15 days.
Best Meals: Crispy garlic shrimp with sticky rice from Kin Len Thai in Seattle; Pho Ga from The Monkey Bridge in Seattle; Vegetarian Meditteranean platter from The Athenian in Aurora; Olive and pineapple pizza from East 20 Pizza in Winthrop; Strawberry and rhubarb scone from Jupiter in Winthrop; Margherita pizza from Serious Pie in Seattle.
Worst Meals: Nothing comes to mind.
Best Craft Beer: Key Lime Gose from Reubens Brews in Seattle, Dominga Paloma sour from New Belgium Brewing Company, Briar Heart Boysenberry and Raspberry sour from Urban Family in Seattle.
- Discovery Park North Beach and West Point Lighthouse loop in Seattle, WA 3.3 miles
- Alki Point Lighthouse to Seattle Skyline View in Seattle 4.4 miles
- Easy Pass Trail in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest near Winthrop, WA 7.7 miles
- Blue Lake Trail in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest near Winthrop, WA 5.5 miles
- Heybrook Lookout Trail near Index, WA 2.2 miles
Watching: Ted Lasso Season Three, Yellowjackets Season One and Two, Oppenheimer, Barbie, Dexter: New Blood.
Reading: Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver.
New Posts: I wrote one new post this month, a guide to the best off-the-beaten-path places to add to your Colombia Itinerary. It definitely made me want to go back!
Two Weekends in my Favorite U.S. City – Seattle
I was lucky enough to spend two wonderful weekends in Seattle this month, which is always a pleasure.
Highlights of my two visits included meeting up with friends for drinks, exploring two new to me neighborhoods – Queen Anne and Magnolia, seeing two sunsets at Golden Gardens beach, seal spotting at the Ballard Locks and Fish Ladder, walking in Discovery Park and at Alki Beach, eating incredible food and drinking local craft beer in Ballard and Fremont, visiting MoPop for the first time, and revisiting Pike Place Market for the tenth or more time.
Love you Seattle!
Earning $1500 For Changing My Flight
I booked an evening flight to Denver to fly back to do what I thought was my biometrics appointment (ha!) and wasn’t looking forward to flying at night. I hate flying and flying at night freaks me out the most.
When we were waiting to board there was an announcement that they needed five volunteers to catch the next flight in the morning instead and we would each be compensated with $1500.
I didn’t have my appointment for another two days so I jumped at the chance. The volunteers also got put up for a night in a nearby hotel and we got meal vouchers.
It wasn’t perfect – we had to be up at 4 am to catch the flight the next morning after getting to the hotel at 11 pm, and the $1500 came in six Visa Debit cards of $250 each that we had to spend ages activating, but it was definitely worth it!
I’m a U.S. Citizen!
One of the life-changing events that happened this month was that I became a U.S. Citizen! The crazy part is that I thought I was still at least a year away from this and that I was just going back to Denver to get my biometrics taken.
When I properly looked at the paperwork at 9.30 pm the night before my 9.30 am appointment the next day, I realized that I was actually sitting my citizenship exam! I hadn’t even looked at the study materials for this so I spent two hours studying and got 100% on the test the next day.
They also held my citizenship ceremony after my interview and test so the whole process from applying to becoming a citizen only took three months which is absolutely crazy – everything online says 9 months to 2 years!
I don’t think it has fully set in yet that my long road to citizenship is over and now I just need to get my passport and register to vote. Exciting times!
We Got a Kitten!
Another life-changing event this month – we got a kitten! If you know me in person or through this website, you know I am obsessed with cats. It was the one thing that I wanted that I didn’t think I could have with this nomadic lifestyle that we lead.
Well, getting our little baby Joni, named after Joni Mitchell (shout out to my bestie Kurt for this gem of a name), wasn’t planned. She was a scared little stray living under the Box Office here at the Gorge and the original plan was that we would look after her but she would be an Oasis cat, living at the Gorge year round. But then we met her and everything changed.
It was like she was meant to be our cat and she warmed to us immediately. She is such a good and easy little kitty, instantly knowing how to use a litter box, moving between RVs and the site office seamlessly, and she is cautious but good with strangers too. She is already shaping up to be an excellent travel kitty and we are working on leash training her.
Having her will change how and where we travel in the off-season and will delay a move back to New Zealand but she is worth it and we love her so much.
Getting the Hang of RV Life Again in Winthrop
Having a cat now equals more travel within the U.S. where we can take her with us which means that Brownie the RV will get a lot more use during winters now.
We haven’t used it much in the last couple of years and a few things weren’t working, like the toilet. We took it up to Winthrop for four nights to see how the cat would do and Toby did some work on it. Joni loved it and we are planning to spend around three months on the road this winter traveling down to Florida with her.
Hiking in the Cascade Mountains
The main reason to visit Winthrop was to do some hiking and we did two great hikes while we were there despite the National Park road shutting down due to fire.
Easy Pass Trail was stunning with excellent views, so many wild huckleberries, wildflowers, and lots of wildlife spotting including a marmot, pikas, chipmunks, and ground squirrels. I loved returning to Blue Lake again too after first visiting last fall. I even went for a quick and freezing dip in the gorgeous lake.
It felt good to be properly in the mountains again!
An Afternoon at the Beach in Leavenworth
I spent an afternoon and evening in Leavenworth on the way through to Seattle and it was so hot. Luckily there are numerous beaches along the Wenatchee River and I spent half a day at one of them, reading my book and swimming in the cool, clear waters.
It’s not often I get beach days in summer because I have been living in the desert so it was wonderful.
Meeting a New Friend in Seattle
I’m usually quite happy to park up in a safe neighborhood in Seattle and sleep in my van but on my last visit it was so hot and I really wanted to shower so I decided to look for a cheap place to stay for a night. Well, that doesn’t exist in Seattle so I gave up.
I spent a couple of hours in Ballard at one of my favorite breweries and had dinner at a pizza place I had been wanting to try then I decided on a whim to head to my favorite sunset spot, Golden Gardens Beach. I ended up chatting to a local lady when I was paddling in the water and she invited me to stay in her spare room.
Talk about the universe providing! I had my own room and bathroom and hours of interesting conversation with my host, who turned out to be a Professor of Neuroscience and a very interesting person. I hope to see her again during a future visit to Seattle.
Crazy Traffic in Washington
I had to drive to Seattle on two different Sundays this month and the weekend traffic was terrible. I also got stuck on a steep hill in downtown Seattle when I was picking up one of our workers for around twenty minutes because of road works and that was a nightmare too. Heavy traffic definitely stresses me out!
Long Wait to Do My Citizenship Ceremony
Although I was called in to do my citizenship interview and test really quickly, just as I was finishing, the whole computer system went down so I had to wait for a couple of hours in the waiting room to see if it would come back up again and if I could do my ceremony that day.
Luckily it did eventually start working again and I was able to do the ceremony to officially make me a U.S. citizen!
Road Closed Through North Cascades National Park
During our four days in Winthrop, we had been planning to do some hiking and sightseeing in North Cascades National Park but we found out once we got there that the road was closed due to a fire.
We were able to do some hiking on the park borders and didn’t have any smoke but my plan to drive through the park and do some hiking on the other side was ruined and I had to drive around the long way through Leavenworth to get to Seattle instead.
It was really smoky the last time I tried to visit North Cascades National Park in September last year so hopefully third time is a charm and I can do some hiking there next year instead.
It was smoky for a day in Winthrop and at the Gorge this month due to wildfires in North Cascades National Park. It was especially bad during Bass Canyon at the Gorge and I could taste the smoke. Not nice.
Not Being Able To Go Back To Canada This Year
It has been mostly great getting my citizenship earlier than expected but one bummer is that I can’t do the Canada trip I had planned to do at the beginning of next month. If I was flying I could have applied for a passport through the urgent passport service but I had been planning to drive.
It’s likely we’ll be back at the Gorge again next year so I will definitely head back to Canada again then, at least once. I really want to explore more of the islands, see more of the Canadian Rockies, and return to Vancouver Island. And of course spend some time in my favorite city, Vancouver.
A lot of these costs are my half with Toby paying the other half. I also don’t include international flights in my recaps.
This was an expensive month because of my flight to Denver, expensive gas, donations, purchasing new boots and sunglasses, and splurging on food and drink. It should be less next month.
My five nights of paid accommodation for the month consisted of four nights at an RV park in Winthrop, and one night at a camping ground on Lopez Island.
My 26 nights of unpaid accommodation for the month consisted of 18 nights in staff accommodation onsite at the Gorge Amphitheatre, three nights free camping in my van in Seattle, one night at a hotel comped by the airline at Sea-Tac Airport, two nights with family in Aurora, one-night free camping in the van in Leavenworth, and one night in the guest room of a new friend in Seattle.
Food and Drink $916
- Dr Marten boots $184
- Gas $274
- Ubers/Lyfts $68
- Parking $33
- Return flight from Seattle to Denver $387
- Return Ferry from Anacortes to Lopez Island $55
- Barbie Movie at Barnyard Cinema in Winthrop $16
- Oppenheimer Movie at Barnyard Cinema in Winthrop $16
- Museum of Pop Culture entrance $33.50
- U.S. Phone plan $35
- Spotify $10.50
- Hulu $8.50
- Toiletries $51
- 2 x pairs sunglasses $146
- Cat stuff $62.50
- Camping showers $6
- Laundry $3
- Maui Donation $100
Website Costs $12
- Monthly payment for Keysearch $12
Van/RV Costs $40
- RV and van insurance for the month $40
What’s in Store for Next Month
The first week of the month I will be on the road visiting Lopez Island and then either Mount Baker or Mount Rainier to do some hiking, depending on the fires. Or I might just go back to Seattle – I can’t keep away from that city.
Then it’s back to the Gorge to prep for and work one of our biggest shows of the year – Dave Matthews. This is always a busy one!
I have two days off after this and I’ll either stay onsite at the Gorge or I may return to Seattle if I can get an urgent passport service appointment there.
We have the last two shows of the year after this and they are back to back with no break in between – The Lumineers and Eric Church – and then that’s it for the Gorge for the season! Toby has to stay on for a week or so to wrap things up but I will be heading back to Denver to drop the van off.
If I can’t get a passport appointment in Seattle I’ll have to get one in Denver so I may have to hustle back over only a couple of days, but if I have more time I want to visit friends in Salt Lake City and Crested Butte.
I have a flight booked to London so fingers crossed I won’t have an issue getting an appointment to get my passport! If all goes well I will be spending the last three days of the month in London, the first time back in my former home for six years.
To read additional Monthly Recaps, you can find them here