Memories of the Olympic Peninsula

Cape Flattery

The best way for Deborah to take a picture while traveling down the road in BAM is to stand in the entry stairwell, brace her legs against the dash, and lean forward toward the massive curved windshield. Last week, we recounted Tim’s precarious situation north of the border. This week, it is memories of Deborah’s precarious photographic situation, while we visited Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, that brought back more laughs. 

The Olympic Peninsula

The summer of 2017, our first in BAM, brought many great and inspiring adventures. There were also laughable missteps and mechanical failures. I’m hardly mechanical—and BAM is completely mechanical. If it weren’t for eager-to-help fellow RVers, we might have given up on the risk blossoming adventure early on.

It was during a 13-day stay on Washington’s beautiful Olympic Peninsula that BAM’s electric entry steps failed. Our helpful Motorcoach neighbors unhooked the motor so I could manually slide it in and out. Our return trip to Seattle started with me sliding under BAM to secure the steps shut. I then hoisted myself up the three feet to BAM’s internal steps and off we went.

Crescent Lake, Olympic National Park                                                             Photo Credit: Tim Bateman

Discovery Bay

Five miles down the road, at Discovery Bay, there was a quaint, rural Americana general store that we had passed several times. The store has unique signage, and Deborah wanted a photo. As she occasionally does when we approach a possible photo op, she unhooked her seatbelt and stood upright in the stairwell. Maintaining her balance with her thighs braced against the dash, she leaned forward for the best possible view through BAM’s massive windshield.

US Highway 101 is a narrow roadway as it descends down a long hill approaching Discovery Bay. I was using the engine brakes to slow down. The speed limit was about to drop to 35 mph for the curve around Discovery Bay. There was also a Washington State trooper, car lights flashing, parked on the edge of the road. His business done, he was standing in front of his car looking straight at us. There was a long line of cars coming the other way.

Sunset on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.                                                                                                       Photo Credit:  Tim Bateman

I surmised that I had no option but to give him some room. I turned on my blinkers and eased the eight-and-a-half-foot width of BAM over the center line. This pushed the oncoming to traffic to the right of their already-narrow lane. Due to his lack of movement, and his direct stare, I wondered what he was thinking. From the serious look on his face, I felt he was possibly petrified by my move.

It’s All About Me

When I drive BAM, I have four rearview mirrors focused for me and a rear camera monitor. Deborah has no view of anything happening behind us. I watched as the trooper jumped into his car. He never even turned off his lights as he pulled in behind me. My first hope was that he was going to pass me for another problem further ahead. Trying to assist him, I moved to the right into the old gravel lot in front of the Discovery Bay Store. As I slowed, he slowed. Not knowing what was happening behind us, Deborah, still standing in the stairwell, bright and visible through windshield, said, “You don’t need to stop; I can get the photo as you drive by.”

The Office at Potlatch

I replied, “This isn’t about you. That state trooper is stopping me.”

“What state trooper?” she asked.

“The one we just passed,” I replied. “Didn’t you see him?”

“No,” she said. “I was looking at the camera monitor, ready to take the picture.”

As the trooper approached, Deborah opened the passenger-side door to BAM and was instantly greeted with the Olympic Peninsula trooper’s command, “Stay in your vehicle.” Well, that certainly wasn’t a problem. The stairs were duct-taped shut, and at ride height, the final step out of the coach was now approaching 3.5 feet. There was a natural barrier. He wasn’t coming in, and we weren’t coming out.

Port Ludlow                                                                                                                                                  Photo Credit:  Tim Bateman

I Have a Few Questions for You

“I’m officer John Smith,” he stated as he looked up at us. “Do you know why I stopped you?” I thought about explaining my driving decision but decided a simple “no” was a better answer. He then stated the crime: “You didn’t have your seatbelt fastened.”

Ruby Beach.                                                                                                                                                Photo Credit:  Tim Bateman

Instinctively, I reached to my chest and felt my seat belt. Deborah, now setting on the edge of the passenger seat after opening the door, became as polite as a princess. He next asked if we knew the motorhome seat belt laws in Arizona. At that point, we were stumped.

This Isn’t About You

“I’ll need a drivers license and the vehicle registration,” he commanded. I unbuckled my seat belt and retrieved the registration from the filing drawer. I handed it to him together with my drivers license. He immediately handed me back my license and said, “This isn’t about you!” while holding out his hand waiting for Deborah’s license.

As we sat awaiting his return, I was perhaps selfishly a little gleeful as I figured I was off the hook. No Saturday driving school for me. Besides, we had a great angle to get our photo of the store—now through the open door rather than a drive-by through the windshield.

Discovery Bay General Store.                                                                                                             Photo Credit: Deborah Bateman


Port Townsend

Eventually, Trooper Smith reappeared at the door and uttered the seven magical words: “I’m going to give you a warning.” Then came the lecture. “I looked up the Arizona law.” he stated. “It is ok for passengers, over a certain age, to move around in a coach in Arizona. But this is Washington, and here, everybody has to be in a chair, with a seatbelt, when the vehicle is moving.”

Relieved with the outcome, Deborah became her engaging self. I, on the other hand, was thinking, “we are out of this; just shut up and let’s get out of here!” But no, in her high, squeaky, most innocent voice, she told him, “I had to go to the bathroom really bad, and you must have seen me as I was just getting back.” I interrupted this illogical argument by thanking the officer and assuring him that, in the future, in Washington State, we would always buckle up.

Lesson Learned

Deborah hadn’t seen the trooper, staring directly at her, while she was framed in the front window. There she was, inches from the windshield with the camera pointed and her eyes on the monitor. And I thought he was staring at me. Well, I learned: it’s not always about me! 

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