Sunday, June 13, 2010

Summer, 2010 - The PNW and The SW

The odometer reads 36,149, which was reset in Kentwood, LA

We left home today - Sunday June 13th. About a week or so too late to avoid the stifling humidity. We have six weeks to get to our first scheduled destination in Oregon. I expect we will get to Glacier NP around the end of June, so that leaves us a full month to goof off.

Today we drove 200 miles and got to Wall Doxey SP near Holly Springs, MS. We will try to do about 200 miles a day until we find a less humid climate. $13 W&E

Monday – We continued up the Mississippi. Rain clouds threatened after lunch. KoKo and Pelli are clean and we really do not want to trash them driving in the rain - yet. Dorothy discovered the Davidsonville Historic SP near the defunct town of Blackrock and we called it a day. It’s a decent enough place with a four star bath house. $15 W&E.

Tuesday – We got away early under blue skies knowing that a storm was approaching Springfield, MO to our west. We were doing fine keeping ahead of the storm cell until Glenda routed us on MO95. That slowed us down, but we lost more time when the one lane bridge on county road H was out. The storm caught us. We drove slowly for a few miles until we found a pull out. The rain quit. We had lunch and a short nap and by then the road was dry so went a few miles north to Lebanon, MO and Bennett Springs SP. This is a large campground, over 300 sites broken into five loops.

This is the place where all the trout fisher people in MO go. On a Tuesday afternoon, the Niangua River was populated with lots of people attired in the latest fly casting fashions. That there is a hatchery here that releases fish every night of the year might have something to do with it’s popularity. Cost $19 E only.

Wednesday – We found Nine Eagles SP in Iowa. Frankly, we could have found some place else. But, it was 2PM and we were ready to park for the day.

We are four days out and about three more days from being anywhere we consider will really start this trip. Put another way, it’s about $600 in gasoline to get to a jumping off point. Thankfully, gas prices have been low so far this trip. $2.44 has been the standard price the last few days.

The temperature was in the low 90’s today and was not muggy. AC is still appreciated.

Ever since we left Memphis, we have been in farm country. Corn is one of the few crops we can recognize from the road. They should put signs in the fields so city folks could learn what grows where. I like farm country, I like to see my food being grown, even if I am clueless about it. I wonder if we will eat an ear of corn from one of the corn fields we pass?

Thursday – I had never noticed that Iowa is bordered on the east by the Mississippi and on the west by the Missouri. Today’s mission was to cross the Missouri without going through Omaha or paying a toll. It turned out that we used the same road as we did through here two years ago.

After a long day, we landed at the Double Nickel RV at exit 360 on I80. Yes, we used both I35 and I80 today. It’s a decent Passport America place with a fine swimming pool and wifi for $15. Did two small loads of laundry because it would be necessary in a few days and it’s cheap here.

A storm passed to the south of us just before dusk. It left some strange looking clouds.

03 - clouds

The dreaded weekend starts tomorrow. We are not real sure where we want to go from here. The most appealing travel directions have few options for us to park, especially since the the weather is forecast to stay warm. We are seeking low 50’s for good sleeping.

Gas is $2.59 in Nebraska. Unlike rural Alabama the price is the same rural or urban.

Friday – We drove 176 miles and landed at the Nebraska National Forest on Nebraska 2. There is one other camper here. It’s an OK place as a stop over. We have an asphalt site with electricity for $5.50. Drawback, the RR is nearby and coal trains go by with some frequency. We saw a dozen trains on the way up - half of them were loaded, but parked. With the ac on, we can not hear the trains. Perhaps because the tracks are in such good condition, no clicky-clack. Just the sound of the air horn. Wifi too. Life is good.

The reason for coming this way is that it is the direct route to our PNW destination. Plus, I had read about the scenic sandhills of Nebraska. We have seen them, no big deal. Beauty is in the eye…….

Into The Badlands (and on to Big Sky)

Saturday, June 19 – We traveled on a Saturday! That may be a first. Where did we get to? Chadron, NE. Where did we park? Eagles Rest RV, a private park. The only game in town. Heavy rain washed out the roads in the National Forest and the local state park is having it’s 89th anniversary. And so it goes. We knew we were playing with fire traveling on a weekend.

The drive north through the sand hills on NE27 was semi-scenic. I think we saw three other vehicles on the 70 mile road. Cows, bison, hills, lakes and all sorts of birds.

We got groceries at the Hy-Vee in Grand Island - one of the best markets in the US. Their signature meats are labeled Amana. Oh my goodness, they all looked good. We chose prime rib. It was divine.

Sunday – We drove 90 minutes north to Wind Cave NP. We day-tripped here in 2006 and did one of the cave tours. This time we thought we would see what the campground was all about.

As we came through Hot Springs we both thought it looked familiar to us. Sure enough we finally recalled we came here for lunch in 2006.

The park entrance is just north of Hot Springs and as you enter the park the landscape changes. Absolutely delightful. The best for this trip so far. They are the same hills as outside of the park, but they look totally different without man made structures all over them.

This area is covered with bison, pronghorn, prairie dog, coyote and the elusive elk.

The campground is typical for national parks. The sites are set up for tent camping. All are sloped up or down or left or right. They were a few that would accommodate us. We picked #61 – the handicap site in the far north loop. I got out all of the levelers and jacked up the front so we are almost level. Hydraulic jacks would be nice to have for use in national parks. Our site is long enough for KoKo and Pelli and has a concrete pad for the table. Flush toilets are the only amenity. $6.

Monday – Photo tour day. We drove two gravel roads in the park that are not used very much. We saw one other car. To us, the scenery was the best in the area - green hills rolling in every direction. There were enough clouds to add some drama by adding shadows. Lots of bison, pronghorn and prairie dog along the way.

04 - South Dakota 04

Dorothy wanted to drive the “Pigtail Road” again. It’s actually called Iron Mountain Road. It winds through the Black Hills and ends up near Mt. Rushmore. Along the way, are several narrow tunnels some of which frame the presidents. The pigtails are bridges that drop you down a shallow canyon by doing a 360. They were built in the 1930’s by a local. They handle tour buses daily. Over 60 years without repairs.

04 - South Dakota 13

04 - South Dakota 12

Reading a friends Blog made our heads spin. They have driven so many miles so quickly. We drove 200 or so miles every day for seven days to get here and that was too much for us. We are about half-way in our “out mileage”. It was a little over 24 hours to here. It’s about the same distance from here to Cascades Park Washington. That illustrates how wide Montana is.

While I am wandering around, the shape of this trip is much like the first one we did in 2006. Out to the PNW, south to California and east to Utah. The limiting factor of such trips is that you can not get to Glacier until about July. That leaves August for Washington and September and October for Lone Pine and Zion. We would like to trade in January and February for two more months of spring or fall.

We are in the extreme west of the central time zone. That means it’s not completely dark at 10pm and dawn is breaking at 5am. Oh well, we have plenty of amps from the solar array. 

Tuesday – We drove north about 90 minutes to a Forest Service park called Roudaix. It’s only 20 miles south of Deadwood which Dorothy wanted to see. I managed to avoid it on our 2006 trip, but decided to go with it this time. After lunch we drove into town and cruised gawking at the cheesy tourists lining the streets. Every building houses slots. And there are a lot of buildings. Dorothy was repulsed and did not want to park and walk. Lucky me!

We went up into the residential area on the hillside, which consists of two streets each a lane wide. We found the library and took our laptops inside for a an hour or so of super high speed web surfing. Dorothy learned that the characters on the HBO series Deadwood were all real.

We continued to explore the hillside. At end of a street, it went to gravel and was signed Mt. Roosevelt. Of course we took it. The road wound up the mountain to overlook Deadwood. All Forest Service land. We noted one fine dispersed campsite, but had no use for it.

In the evening we had a storm, but it cleared out before morning. A high pressure system is to our west so we will have good, but warm weather for the next several days.

A lot of things in SD are named Custer. Even a fool can become an icon. That which is not named Custer is named Lewis and Clark.

Wednesday – A longer driving day – over four hours of wheel turning, but it took us six with the stops we made. After driving through glorious green hills that stretch to the horizon, we made it to the South Unit of the T. Roosevelt NP. The terrain is similar to the Badlands in SD or The Painted Desert in AZ. But greener.

It was almost 90 when we arrived so we laid low until dusk. Dorothy foot swelled in the heat, but she is pain free.

While having dinner, Dorothy looked out the window and saw a horse, then another horse and then a third horse just nibbling the grass. They are feral horses. I took a couple of pictures and then resumed eating.  After a few minutes, one horse just walked up to the rig and looked in. Obviously they understand English, because when Dorothy said, “No” they walked off.

05 - TR 01 Feral Horses Roam the Campground

We were lazing outside after dinner when two bison strolled in grazing on the grass. These are big, healthy, handsome creatures. Amazing to watch bison nibbling grass next to a tent – the tenters weren’t home.

05 - TR 03 This old boy was flat out handsome. All of his winter coat was gone.

We had a fantastic dinner of Frank’s spaghetti – thank you for your wonderful recipe.

Thursday – We got away at 7:30 and drove the 38-mile scenic loop in the park. We took two short hikes to admire the scenery. The morning temperature was perfect with a light breeze. Whatever the yellow flowers are that are blooming give the air a delightful aroma.

05 - TR 07

The Very Muddy Little Missouri River

Dorothy fixed meat and refried beans – yummy. After our nap, we drove into Medora to “see the sights”. The little town looked good when we passed through yesterday. It was a bust. Dorothy saved the day with juicy hamburgers.

The odometer reads 38,374. 15 days and 2,226 miles out. 148 miles a day.

Friday – We drove 77 miles north to the North Unit the T. Roosevelt NP. The hills are a higher here than in the South Unit, but otherwise it’s the same. The Little Missouri runs through both parks and accounts for all or some of the erosion. Having seen both, I would bypass the South and just go here. Plus the campground is well tended.

 05 - TRN 04

    Cannonball at T. Roosevelt North                    

We are taking this way to Glacier to be able to drive on US2. Everyone knows about and has likely driven on US1, US101 and the former US66. But, how many know about much less have driven US2 which is a coast-to-coast road from Maine to Washington?

I-94’s road surface is smooth. Likely due to sparse traffic. At overlooks, we could see both lanes vacant for brief periods. We could take I-94 to Glacier, but we would miss US2 and besides it is a little longer that way.

Anywho, it remains very warm, so we will bypass paddling the yaks here and press on as fast as we can to Glacier - 12 hours to the west.

Saturday – Into Montana. We wanted to get away early and make some miles toward cooler temps in the mountains of western Montana. There was a light shower before dawn. When we woke up at 5:30 the skies were blue all around. In an hour, this changed to gray and light rain. We waited until the rain stopped and then another half hour for the roads to dry. With little traffic, the roads were not dry and we were not gone two minutes before a big rig sprayed us. Oh well, we made it two weeks without getting the vehicles trashed.

We stopped at the Wal*Mart in Williston, probably our last one for a few weeks. It took 25 minutes to check out. Dorothy was ready to throw a hissy fit. Fortunately while she nearing melt down I was waiting patiently in KoKo. After a gas stop, propane stop, lunch stop, we made it to Fort Peck where we found a space with electricity in a pleasant enough COE park. $8. People are sitting outside as it’s in the low 80’s. What a change.

Our first day on US2 was not all that great. The road surface could have been better. In this part of the country, there are two seasons, Winter and Road Repair. They don’t worry about tearing up the whole road bed and everyone drives on gravel until they pave it again. And they don’t mess around with nanny state orange traffic cones.

Dorothy and I have both finished The Help. A great read. It’s seldom we we like the same  book.

Sunday – A long day for us, but the road was excellent. We made it to Tiber Reservoir south of Chester. If we had known it would be six miles of gravel we might have picked another place, but we were already 12 miles south of US2, so we continued. The dust covered the cement like paste we picked up yesterday in the rain. The campground was delightful and free. We are posed for a short jump to Glacier to arrive early and snag a good campsite.

Monday – We arrive at our first real destination - Glacier NP - 2,940 miles from home. [Odometer reads 39080]. We are at the Two Medicine campground. We have a million dollar view of the lake and the mountains. We plan to stay through the holiday. The weather is perfect.

Approaching the park from the east about 50 miles out you see the whole mountain range which runs north-south.

We saw a post from another Lazy Daze owner that they would be at Glacier, so I replied and told them where we would be. They came back that they only stayed in private campgrounds. I am glad! There are too many people here anyway. Why have an RV if you are going to only stay in private campgrounds with a view of other RVs? It would be more convenient to fly and drive and a heck of a lot less expensive. I think concrete campers are loosing out, but I am all for them staying out of the best places.

Glacier NP

Wednesday June 30th - It’s the last day of June. The days are getting shorter. That fact is impossible for us to verify as we can not stay up late enough to see a star. At 10:30, it’s at least another hour until the first magnitude stars appear. I wanted to see the alignment of three planets this month, but unless we take some Nodoz that will not happen.

We got here Monday and will stay at this campground until after the 4th. We have not done much but look at the mountains in our front yard. #87 is a premium camp site, confirmed by one of the Rangers who stopped by. We asked him if any of the other campgrounds on the east side had views like this. He said “No, you have the premium campsite in the park. There is no place else that has this kind of view”.

06 Glacier 07 The view from our campsite

We tried out Dorothy’s new feet yesterday for what was billed as easy stroll. Well it sure was for Ranger Lynn who lead the forced march to Astor Falls. We were behind in the first 200 yards and never caught up. I was huffing and puffing from the start. Dorothy did better in that department. Anywho, it was a decent trail offering different  views of the mountains in this area and the falls had lots of water. Most of the group went another half-mile up a steep grade for a view of the valley. There was no way we could do it.

The good news is Dorothy’s feet. With the exception of a blister she picked up, she did fine on the hike and post-hike. No pain. This is due to the acupuncture treatment she had just before we left. Go ahead and laugh. She has been pain free since the first treatment and has had some relief from the numbness in the other foot. I noticed her gait was much improved on the hike yesterday.

I wish acupuncture could help with my shortness of breath? I have gone downhill fast in the last year. Our elevation is only 5,500 feet so that’s not it.

We went for a ranger talk last night, which we always try to do if one is available.  Ranger Lynn talked about moose and it was quite interesting.  Our neighbors, Tim & Nancy from SC, went also. When we got back, neighbors told us that there had been a moose grazing in Tim & Nancy’s campsite and licking their windows.  You just can’t always have it all.

Ranger Lynn said she works ten hours a day and there are only three rangers for this campground. I wish I  knew how many rangers were here in the ‘80’s or ‘90’s.  Has the recession taken a hit on national parks?

Thursday – The night had been chilly, down to 41 and the sky was mostly clear. I figured that meant it would be a clear day. So we decided to do the Going to the Sun Road. Big mistake. It got cloudier as the day went on. No pictures. A waste of gasoline that is being sold locally for $3.19. That’s 40 cents more than in the rest of Montana.

06 Glacier 09 06 Glacier 13

                Beargrass                           Sunset Point on St. Mary’s Lake        

100% of the biz around the park is tourists. After a century, I would expect it to be rather sophisticated. However, many of the signs are hand drawn, the shops are seedy and the prices are through the roof. Dorothy was hungry for something on our way home today, so we pulled into a roadside place to see if they had anything that would interest her. She quit looking when she saw a hamburger was $12.95. Everything of interest to us is inside the park. Thank goodness our larder is full.

Miss Bullwinkle was back in the campground. This time the ranger determined she was getting too comfortable with humans and he shot her with a beanbag, rubber round and fired a M80. Miss Bullwinkle just turned around and looked at him. When she was good and ready she walked a few feet into the brush.

We checked the weather and learned that rain/clouds are forecast to some degree for the next few days.

Friday -  We woke up to light rain, dense clouds and 44 degrees. It made us thankful we were in our cozy home, rather than in a tent. I got out the cat heater to keep the rig toasty warm. The clouds made our mountains disappear/reappear as if we were in the twilight zone. By 10 there were small patches of blue sky and enough sunlight to charge our batteries.  By 4 it was a gorgeous day; still some clouds and wind, but a stunning afternoon.

We drove KoKo a mile out of the park where we can get a cell signal and surfed the internet.

Saturday – We stocked up on Fava beans before we left home. A middle eastern deli had both Egyptian and Lebanese style. Dorothy made foul again this morning. [pronounced fool, it’s beans topped with crushed garlic, lemon juice and jalapeƱo peppers and then olive oil served on pita bread. Along with tomatoes, green onions, radishes, etc.]

After observing the sky for the last few days, I see what is happening, but I don’t pretend to understand it. The Continental Divide runs through the park. The prevailing winds are from the west. The campground is about one mile east of the mountains in a U with the bottom of the U pointing west towards the mountains. Much of the time, the clouds coming over the mountains are dark gray. As they pass over the campground, leaving the mountains, they break up and turn white. For the last three days there has been a gray overcast to the west and a brilliant blue sky with white clouds to the east. Can you explain this to me Ted?

I checked to see how far it is to North Cascades NP in Washington and was shocked to see it’s 12 hours distant. That will put over 40 hours from home. This is a big country. The last time we did this drive we must have been running on adrenalin as we don’t recall the long driving days.

06 Glacier 15

Running Eagle Falls

Running Eagle was a female warrior. She had her vision at this falls and led her tribe in many raids. Visions were rare for females as I don’t think the men allowed them.

Sunday – The weather the last four/five days have not been all that good and it appears tomorrow will be more gray clouds and mist. See the gray sky in the picture above. We hibernated here because we always stay in place on holidays. Maybe a bad call this time. We could hike just for exercise, but the with temps in 50’s and the katabatic winds puffing to 20, it would not be all that comfortable. In short, we are bored.

Monday – We got more sun than clouds today, so we were able to do a short hike.

Tuesday – On the road, all the way to Kalispell, 90 miles west of Glacier. Kalispell has a population of 125,000 and seems a vibrant and prosperous city. It has all the big box stores. So we took advantage of being able to shop at Costco, Lowe’s, Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, Pita Pit, Wal*Mart and an RV dealership. We did not intend to overnight there, but when it took two hours to get a prescription filled, we opted to “camp” at Wal*Mart with 15 other rigs.

Wednesday – We went another 90 miles west to Libby, MT. We passed several gorgeous “finger” lakes along US2. USFS CG’s dot the highway. We opted to stay on Lake Koocanusa. It’s OK, but with a 90 mile long lake that extends into Canada you would think the campsites would be on the lake. Wrong. It’s quiet and it’s $5. We will venture a little further west in the morning.

Into Washington

Thursday July 9 – We made home in a delightful USFS CG at the confluence of the Yaak and Kootenai rivers near the Montana/Idaho border. The Yaak is not so much, but the latter is one fine river. Before the river was dammed, before the railroad was built, it carried flat-bottomed ore carriers from BC to Jennings, MT. The river flows north. It’s outlet must be Hudson’s Bay.

The terrain here reminds me a lot of Oregon, especially the roads there that wind along the several rivers that empty into the Pacific. This looks like the Rouge to me.

P1110384 The Kootenai River

Since it is in the upper 80’s I decided we would take a scenic ride in Pelli to the town of Yaak and be cool in the car. Names like Yaak draw me like a moth to a flame. It’s a curse. The drive was OK. The town was nothing. Not wanting to return the same way, I took a road through the forest. Again, kinda of scenic, but a slow road, 25 to 40mph.  By the time we got near the end, it was our dinner time, so we went even farther – back to Libby – the town we left in the morning. So we drove the whole distance we had driven in the morning over again, plus the 40 miles north and back. The trip took four hours compared to the two hours we took in KoKo in the morning.

Oh well, we had a great Western Omelet in Libby and got to smell the firs and cedars.

Friday – Decision time - continue on to Cascades or head to Oregon? If the Cascades, which route? Fast or slow and maybe scenic? In the end, I choose to stay the course and we went WA20. We found a Passport America in Kettle Falls, WA so we could have ac. It’s 92 today. Do the washing. Maybe paddle the yaks on the Columbia? The RV park is mostly a dump, but it’s only $12.

The left coast states have the highest gasoline prices in the country. Many Washington counties prices have been north of $3 all year. When we entered the state we saw $3.05, after less than 100 miles it’s $3.19. It will stay that way until we hit I5 on the other side of the state. Interestingly, prices in Montana were the same rural or urban.

Saturday – For the first time this trip we got the yaks in the water. No current, no wind, just perfect. We paddled for two hours on the Columbia River and got to watch a regatta. They had 2-3 knots at times, but mostly the river was glass. No gunslingers in the fleet. The newest boat was a San Juan 21. I think they quit making them in late 80’s.

Sunday -  We made it to North Cascades NP, one of the principal destinations of this trip. The odometer reads 39,833. Excepting Alaska, this is the farthest park from our home.

We stopped in Colonial CG because we wanted to paddle the boats on the lake and we did. The CG is OK, typical NPS, overgrown like Mayan Ruins and the sites require some imaginative leveling.

In eastern Montana, we saw hills rolling to the horizon and few trees until we we got to the west side of the state where trees dominate. The forests continue to the crest at Sherman Grade in Washington at 5,500 feet. When you descend into the Okanogan Valley at 900 feet you are in a desert until you reach the shadows of the Cascade Mountains where firs abound.

North Cascades NP contains some of the America’s most beautiful mountain scenery – high jagged peaks and countless cascading waterfalls. You can see some of this from the single road that runs through the park. The rest can only be accessed by trail. Much of the park is composed of several wilderness tracks, bound together with a NRA and surrounded by National Forest. In short, you need to be really fit to explore the place.

I learned about Cascade NP when I saw this picture in 2004 before we retired. Look at the color of the water, the granite, the ragged mountain spires and the fiord like lake. Small wonder that I put the park on my bucket list.

09 Cascades 00  

How I learned about Cascades NP                   

If the Himalayan Mountains are 10’s, then I would rate these as 8’s - as good as the Sierra Nevada. The base is about 550 feet and the peaks go nearly straight up to 7-8 thousand feet. The scenery is superb.

Monday – Yesterday we had partial sun. It turned cooler overnight as predicted and we lost the sun. It’s bad enough being under a forest canopy that allows little light to reach the solar panels. Yesterday we were getting 5amps- adequate.Today, we are getting less than 1amp. We had to run the genet for an hour to recharge the batteries.

Our activity for the day consisted of going to the Visitor Center and driving out of the park to get a cell signal.

The only road through here is not patrolled by the Park Service or the Highway Patrol. The Sherriff patrols the western section as far as the houses go. The rest is go as fast as you can on a road that has very few straight stretches. I was pushed every time we were on the road, even when I was 5 to 10 over the limit. The locals will pass you on a double yellow line without hesitation. The vehicles of choice are tiny green cars with three bikes on top and pickup trucks. Both driven with abandon.

Tuesday – A repeat of Monday, 100% overcast with a drizzle every so often. The flora loves it. In between drizzles, we did a short walk along the Skagit River.

We moved 12 miles west to the Newhalem CG. This is the best NPS CG we can recall. Newly paved roads and modern restrooms. The grounds are nicely trimmed and there are short trails in every direction.

Wednesday – Great weather, plenty of sun with a very light wind. We went back to all of the overlooks and took more pictures. We finished the day with a short hike.

So two good days here and two not so good. We have seen about all we can, since we are not up to double-digit mile hikes, with significant elevation gains. This is place for those in good physical condition.

Thursday – Out of the mountains, to the sea shore. We left North Cascades and drove down the Skagit River to Burlington, WA and stocked the larder at Fred Myers and filled the tank with $2.71 gasoline. The only campground on Whidbey Island with a space was Ft. Casey, which is about half-way down the island. No hookups, but we have a good view of the sound, sunshine, 40 TV channels, and all the bars on the the cell phone.

On the Pacific

Friday – Whidey Island - After the morning marine layer burned off our view was great.  I have no idea what composes a marine layer, but that’s what the talking heads on the local weather call it. We took a tour of the lighthouse, had lunch and then had a nice surprise when some LDers that live in Coupeville popped by to say hi.

I had been over Deception Pass twice before in my life, both times the driver did not care to stop. We drove up and I stopped. It’s scenic for sure. But, it’s more scary than scenic to us standing on the bridge with beau coup traffic a foot away from you. The water pours through the pass at 10 knots. We saw one large boat that did not have enough power to get out.

We checked out Deception Pass SP. Frankly we are glad we are at Ft. Casey. No view there as all sites are in the forest. All sites are reserved, but there is a campground across the road Quarry Pond that is first come for $28 with W&E. It’s also more open than Deception Pass across the street. 

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 The Color of the Water in Deception Pass

We have seen a LOT of really old RVs in Washington. Many in sad shape, mold growing, parts missing. I would not think of buying a rig from the PNW that had been stored outside due to the near constant exposure to moisture. Yesterday, we saw a trailer with a Porta Potty strapped to the back. Is that a bath and half?

Saturday – DENSE morning FOG today. We took the ferry to Port Townsend and walked around like tourists. Many of the shops are rather unique. I liked the used book store. They had three shelves of books on Polar Destinations. That might be all of the books on the subject in the western US.

Sunday - DENSE morning FOG that lasted until 2PM when the sky turned to brilliant blue. We lazed around. I took the yak out for awhile. I should have tested the current first. I got to the point real quick.

Paddling against the current on the way back gave me some real exercise.

10 Whidbey 11

Our spot at Ft. Casey

Monday – The fog was not so dense. We got away a little after 9. I decided to drive back up Whidbey, rather than taking the ferry. The ferry would cost about the same as the gasoline to drive. Besides we did not have reservations or know the ferry schedule. Two hours later we were as far south as we had been when we left.

After a stop at Costco, we headed for the forest. I thought we would make it to Mt. Rainer, but it was still ahead of us at 3:00, so we stopped at a USFS CG, The Dalles. Surprising us, way out here in logging country we have a good cell signal.

Tuesday – No cell signal, No TV, not even XM, but the mountains are great. It’s like a mini Alaska. Approaching and entering the park we could only see Rainier from time-to-time. There are two scenic roads in the park. We decided to take the one to Sunrise today. As we climbed, the Cascade Mountains came into view snaggled, ragged and fin topped. Just like we like them. The range is so deep here that it seemed like we were in the Rockies. You can see mountains behind mountains.

Rainier is a new mountain, only 500,000 years old. It’s rounded, an active volcano, in sharp contrast to the older Cascade Mountains surrounding it.

We did a mile or so hike at the top, which is at 6,500. It got me huffing and puffing.

We did not expect much here. A very pleasant surprise. It helps that the weather is delightful. Perhaps the first time on this trip we could sit outside and be comfortable day or night.

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  Mt. Rainier  

11 Rainier 21

   Christine Falls

In 2006, they had 17 inches of rain in 36 hours. Debris slides from the near vertical mountains took out roads and widened rivers. This river goes for miles looking like this. An education in quick erosion.

Camping info: There are three campgrounds: Cougar Rock, Ohanapecosh and White River. The first two are reservation CG’s. You would have little chance of getting a site in any CG on without reservations on weekends. Ohanapecosh has full forest canopy. Avoid it if you want to use solar panels. The other two have some open sites that allow sun to reach the ground. Ohanapecosh is the lowest of the three at 1,700 feet. The others are a thousand plus higher. [O hana pe kosh]

Cougar Rock is on the west side of the park. It’s location is ideal for visiting Paradise. White Rock is the closest to Sunrise. Ohanapecosh is kinda in the middle 30 miles to Sunrise, a little more to Paradise.

Wednesday – We took the road to Paradise today. It takes you close to Rainier’s south side. This is where the BIG VC is located. It’s also where all the fat cheesy tourists hang out. If you must go to the VC, go before 10am. This road also has several waterfalls. Some can be seen from the road, others can be accessed by trail.

The road to Paradise reminds us of Tioga Pass or the Road to the Sun.

There is NOTHING to see, but more trees, west of the Longmire Museum.

Thursday – I have been flipping a coin again and again trying to decide which way to leave Rainier - south through the forest to the Columbia, west to I5 or east to Yakima. I finally choose the latter and within a hour we had driven a fine road through the forest. A more scenic one than in the park. Perhaps because they trim the trees on the ROW. Anywho, there are FS CG’s every mile or so on WA12.

After crossing the summit, we went down into the desert. We just re-crossed the same divide we did a few weeks ago just before we got to North Cascades at Sherman Grade in Washington. It’s 85 in the Yakima Wal*Mart parking lot. The city is billed as the Palm Springs of Washington. Every other business is in the fruit industry. Dorothy said there were so many fruit picking Mexicans in Wal*Mart she thought she was in Guadala-mart.

For all of our married life Dorothy has not liked Don’t Take My Kodachrome Away. I asked her why the other day. She said it made no sense to her. After a few more questions, I found she thought the word was Cornpone, not Kodachrome.

Friday – We drove the short distance to the Columbia River. My memory of the gorge area is that it was green. Not so the eastern end. Hoodsport is the dividing line between dry & brown and the beginning of wet & green.

I remember Columbia River Gorge as being scenic. There are lots of pictures on the web that are quite scenic to me. Sometimes the picture is better than reality and vice versa.

We played tourist looking for something interesting. We parked Koko at the Dalles Dam Visitors Center and took Pelli west to Hood River. Half of the drive was along old US 30 on the Oregon side of the river. The road had lots of bikers dressed like Lance. Fortunately we did not hit any of them. The road is fine for cars or bikes, not both. The better part of the excursion was the overlook at Rowena Crest.

South bound on US 197, the terraced crop fields make interesting geometric designs.  Across the river on the Washington side, they have the same climate and terrain, but no large scale farming. We had great views of all the taller Cascade Mountains on the way south. We don’t recall such good viewing weather on this route before.

We landed at a fine PA CG near Redmond. Last night we paid $26 for hookups at a state park. Tonight, it’s $12.50 for hookups, plus we have TV and a view.

Since the title of this Blog is On The Pacific and we left salt water last Monday, this seems a good time to publish the Blog and start a new chapter. We will be near La Pine, Oregon the next week or so.

Volcano Country

Sunday July 25 – We drove deep into volcano country today. We are overnighting across the street from the Cowboy Dinner Tree, where there is No Credit Cards - No Electricity - No Kidding. You have a choice of either a whole chicken or a mostly whole cow in a restaurant 50 miles from anywhere. However, you need reservations. If our systems survive the feast of red meat we will drive back north tomorrow and join some friends at the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. We call it Paulina Lake for short. We visited both places in 2006. Thanks Carolyn!

13 Silver Lake 03

Our accommodations at the Cowboy Dinner Tree. Note the convenient convenience.

13 Silver Lake 04

The Cook at the Wood Stove

13 Silver Lake 05

The Entrance

13 Silver Lake 07

The Meal at Half Time

13 Silver Lake 08

The Sunset that Evening

Monday – We survived dinner and have enough for 3 more meals. On the drive back to La Pine, I wanted to see a Delorme geologic feature we had missed here on our last visit – Hole in the Ground. We call gorges, canyons, etc. holes in the ground and naturally wanted to see one so aptly named. It’s rather large created by high pressure steam which blew out the crater. We drove four miles down a rutted road to find the hole was less than impressive. And so it goes.

In La Pine we picked up our mail and presents from Amazon, Dorothy got a hair cut and a prescription. We then drove up the mountain to join the Lazy Daze group.

The day was slightly scarred by an afternoon thunderstorm and the active mosquitoes. We were here in 2006 and do not recall any bugs. They say a wet Spring is responsible.

We are parked on the lake, we have the yaks off the roof of Pelli and we look forward to a fun week.

Tuesday – Thursday – We had a fine time, talking and eating. We really like the NW Lazy Daze folks. The girls, that’s Jeanne, Mary Ann, Deborah and Dorothy went to the High Desert Museum in Mary Ann’s convertible with the top down. Obviously there were lots of giggles and Jeanne and I worked on teaching them how to be Southern belles. They have changing themes in one area of the facility and we wanted to see the Saloon and Bordello exhibit. Very interesting, but certainly not a job that I would want to have. Too many women died violent deaths too young. But on the other hand, some of them married well and lived long and normal lives. We missed the raptor program which we had enjoyed so much before, but had to get back to campground in order to have another delicious meal and fellowship. We have made lifelong friends with this group.

Friday – We managed to snag a site in another CG at Paulina. As you know we don’t like to fight for a place on the weekends and Paulina is about as good as it gets for us. The mosquitoes are almost non-existent here, a mere half-mile from the group CG.

Bill and Carolyn wanted to spend another night, so we had a pleasant paddle with Carolyn in the afternoon and got caught up with each during cocktails.

14 Paulina 07

Dorothy and Carolyn on Paulina Lake

Saturday – Other than chatting with Bill & Carolyn some more, taking a short hike, we lazed the day away. A light breeze keep us from paddling. We figure it will be perfect again tomorrow. This is one of our favorite places. A summer home here would be ideal.

Sunday – Woke up at 7:30. Had breakie at 9:30. Did a short hike at The Big Obsidian Flow at 11:00. Lunch at 1, and you know what comes next. The lake is flat so maybe we will paddle the yaks later in the day? Life is not difficult here. And J&G, there are no mosquitoes at Little Crater CG.

Tomorrow will go down the hill to La Pine and see if the little jiggle in KoKo’s steering is a worn tire or what. Both vehicles need an oil change. Carolyn told us about some lakes near Bend that she likes to paddle on, so we will re-stock the larder and try for a campsite on one of the lakes. We plan to spend the rest of the week there. We are exactly where we want to be. No need to roll the wheels far.

Still in Volcano Country

Monday – We moved 50 miles, but it took us six hours of stopping and shopping. We are on the west side of the Cascades, still near Bend, at Elk Lake. We are treating it like it is our lake home.

15 Elk 03 Our Place On Elk Lake - $7 a Day - South Sister Mountain in the Background

Tuesday – Paddled Hosmer Lake, on the recommendation of Carolyn. Thanks! Good thing we got in the water early. Over 30 kayaks passed us coming back to the ramp. We signed up to stay here through Saturday. And we will if the forest fire near Sisters does not smoke us out. We have been in this area three times during fire season and each time there has been a fire. It’s VERY dry. Otherwise the weather is perfect.

15 Ducks 04 Some of Many Duckies on Hosmer Lake

Wednesday – Errand day. We got the oil changed in Pelli. Next up is KoKo. Bend is a busy town of 80,000 young people. We don’t think many of them work, as they are riding bikes, floating on the river, or drinking latte.

Thursday – A glorious day of not doing much at our lake home. Watched a swim team of some two dozen young girls swim the length of the lake, which is about a mile. Five did the return trip. We watched several sail boats mill about - in particular a chap single-handing a C15. He had not a clue. The last time we were here a C15 was sailed miserably. Same owner?

Friday – Another errand day. Back to Bend to get the oil changed in KoKo and pick up a few groceries. On the way in hundreds of roof-top kayaks passed us headed to some lake.

We did laundry, emptied tanks and took on water at Lava Lake. We then drove a bit father south and met a fellow Lazy Daze owner Ken for a a rib dinner at Cultus Lake.

We were tired puppies when we got back to Elk Lake.

Saturday – A day dedicated to doing nothing much. Coffee by the lake, reading by the lake and napping. The weather remains perfect. The locals say this area has harsh winters, but August is delightful.

 15 Elk 02 Life Is Difficult Here

Sunday – We moved a little north of Sisters to Allen Springs CG on the Metolios River; which is babbling behind KoKo as I type.

Coming through Sisters we stopped for gas and watched dozens of Big Rigs, Class A’s and buses, enroute to the FMCA rally. We had been hearing of this rally for weeks. We are glad we will not have to deal with the congestion.

We met Bruce and Sharon, veteran kayakers, who told us what we needed to know to paddle the Metolios and stay out of trouble. They travel the west paddling all the great rivers.

Monday – We hiked to the fish hatchery to see the eagles have breakfast. This happens promptly at 8. It does not last long as the eagles are adapt at swooping in, picking up a fish and departing to a nearby tree to dine.

I did it! After years of carrying the yaks around, I finally got to paddle a free flowing river for a little distance. Dorothy was not up to it. [She has not been feeling real perky since Friday. New Drug?] So I did it alone. I went 3.5 miles in 30 easy minutes! From our campsite on Allen Springs to Lower Bridge. Just little riffles all the way. I did not even need the spray skirt.

16 Metolios 12 The Metolios River

I am TOTALLY relaxed. i.e. complete bum state. Life is good in Oregon in August.

We are going to move an hour or so west in the morning to the other side of the Cascades. The east side gets 12 inches of rain a year. The west side gets 112 inches.

Tuesday – We tried to get in Silver Falls SP wo reservations. Big mistake. We wound up at a Passport America park in Silverton. Up side, wifi, $1 washer/dryers and cable. We will hook up the vac and remove some of volcanic dust we have accumulated.

Still in Oregon

Tuesday August 10 – Saturday the 14

We are in hiatus. There is a heat wave coming here. Horrors!

We have perched at an RV park in Silverton. It’s near the capital of Salem. Everything here is named silver something as it’s close to the state park named Silver Falls. We drove through that park the other day, but we were not impressed with the falls. Too late in the year for much water as they are not sourced from high mountains.

We have TV, both OTA and cable, so I can get back into shape with the remote. We are getting KoKo a little cleaner. The wind blown dirt sure builds up.

We have noticed that the ads on the XM Fox News station are mostly about skipping out on credit card debt, shorting the IRS, walking away from mortgages and doing the bookkeeping for truckers. I am not at all comfortable being a part of the audience.

We took in the state capitol. It’s their third one. Nothing that stands out. It’s like they knew they needed one and make it look decent.

Sunday – Temps in the interior will be in the 90’suntil Thursday, so we decided to escape to the coast. We found a site at Tillicum Beach, which is a few miles south of Waldport. We will stay here until the heat subsides and then go back to the Cascades.

It’s a cloudy 70 degrees here day or night.

Briefly On the Oregon Coast

Sunday August 15 – Wednesday August 18

It’s normal, especially in August, for there to be fog on the coast. Here is how our campsite looked in 2008 in September.

Here’s another 2008 picture from the area just north of here called Seal Rocks.

No pictures this year as we only had sun for one afternoon. And so it goes. The temperature stayed between 67 and 70 day and night. And the sound of the surf was always present.

Now Off the Coast

Thursday August 19 – Saturday August 21

The heat wave is over. We are parked on Foster Reservoir with another hundred rigs for the weekend. Sunday, we can get back into the Cascade Mountains. Kids should be in school all year or vacation should be in the Winter when we are not traveling.

Betty and George, friends, fellow LD owners and Baja travelers, who had just completed their Lewis and Clark tour found us and we had a most enjoyable afternoon and evening catching up.

Sunday August 22 – Monday August 23

We drove 40 minutes up into the Cascades and found home at Coldwater Cove CG. Our friends, Betty and Terry, who have just returned from Alaska joined us and we learned all about their travels.  We use to spend almost every weekend with them when we were all sailing, so it is great to be with them when we can.

19 Falls 17

We woke up Monday morning to 43 degrees, the coldest we have encountered in a month. Tuesday, the low was 50, about normal.

B&T took the five mile hike around Clear Lake which we learned is the headwater for the McKenzie River. The lake is spring fed and cold and very clear.

We all took in the Sahalie and Koosah Falls on the McKenzie. This was our third viewing, but always worth it.

I wanted to paddle the river, but the water was a little low in the section I could handle and there were trees over the river before a take out point. They don’t remove trees, as they say the trees improve fish habitat.

19 Falls 02

Sahalie Falls

19 Falls 03

The McKenzie River Between The Falls 

19 Falls 10

Koosah Falls

We took a short paddle on Clear Lake and saw a nearby forest fire.

19 Falls 18Dorothy on Clear Lake 

The flora around the lake looked to be turning fall colors, especially through our sunglasses.

19 Falls 20 Another Forest Fire

The locals just yawn about fires. So we decided to join them. It was mostly out the next morning.

Tuesday August 24

Another long drive. 40 minutes downhill to Mona CG on the Blue reservoir, which is green, not blue. We think our campsite was a “host” site at one time because we have water and there is an electrical outlet. Pelli got a much needed bath. The only problem we have is so many trees that we have an impossible time getting sun to the solar panels.

We have been in this area of central Oregon for a month. We love it. The weather is mostly delightful. That’s a good enough reason for us being here. 

A lot of others must like it also, as the campgrounds are usually full.

Tomorrow we will move a half hour south toward Oakridge. Slowly making our way to the California border. We would stay here a month longer, but we have commitments in southern California next month.

Still in the Cascades

Wednesday August 25

We drove about 60 miles south. It took us almost 4 hours. Glenda routed us through Springfield and then back west. 40-odd miles west and then another 40-odd back east. I wanted to take the Forest Service road that was the base of the triangle and only 60 some miles. The road, FS19, the Auderheide Scenic Byway, is indeed scenic, at least the northern 30 miles of it. However, the max speed for me driving the RV was 35, mostly 20mph. No regrets, we got to see old growth forests and only two other vehicles.

We saw a pull off and stopped for lunch. As we slowed we both said we had been here before. And we had. In 2006 we drove the southern section of the road on a day trip and stopped here for lunch - the entrance to a wilderness area for two pair of spotted owls.

We finally made it to our chosen home, the Black Canyon CG on the north fork of the Willamette River. [Not to be confused with the Middle Fork of the North Fork of the Willamette River] The river babbles and we sleep good here.

Thursday – We went to the local town of Oakridge to pick up our drugs that were mailed to the post office. Mine were there. Dorothy’s were not. Long story and a long phone call. Pray that Caremark does not handle your drugs.

We took KoKo into town to allow sun to get to the solar panels. She has not seen sun all week under the forest canopy. We had been running the genset to stay above critical. After the long phone call, lunch and grocery shopping her batteries were at 100%.

I found a threaded faucet in the CG, so we can take on water here and dump the gray tanks. That means LONG showers. Yippee!

We napped and read the rest of the day.

Friday – I sometimes look at the front page of the Birmingham News when we are away to get an idea of what is going on. I seldom find anything of interest to me. I do notice that each day there is something about football on the front page, usually above the banter. Here are the top search terms used to locate articles today.

Alabama Alabama football Auburn Auburn football basketball Chizik Crimson Tide football Gene Chizik high school Kodi Burns  Melick  recruiting Scarbinsky SEC sports Taylor Tuberville UAB – nothing but sports!

The state is totally consumed with sports. Sad to me.

What we did today. Slept until 8:15. Left on our activity at 10:30. Stopped by the fish hatchery. And glad we did. They have a Golden Pheasant – one beautiful bird. I wish I looked half as good. I could not get the brilliant green on his back. The rascal was moving around.

20 Pheasant 04Stunning Bird 

We checked out the hot springs along OR136 and decided to pass. We continued east to Salt Creek Falls at 282 feet, the second highest in Oregon.

20 Salt Creek Falls 01

Salt Creek Falls 

I got one picture before the sun ducked behind clouds.

Saturday – It was 100% overcast and cool until mid-afternoon. By that time we were not in the mood to do anything. So running the Willamette River and finding the hot springs out in the woods will have to wait until next time.

The Willamette has numerous feeder rivers that drain the snow melt from the Cascades.

Sunday – We moved maybe 40 miles south, but our motion was in a reverse C so we drove 111 miles. We have been within 100 miles of our original location when we got to Oregon a month ago. Numerous moves, but little distance.

Today we are on yet another lake, Diamond Lake. It’s a big one and there are two other large lakes within 10 miles of here. We moved from 1,000 to 5,000 feet, so the trees are different. Mostly Lodgepoles here. Our campsite has sunshine. We were fully charged shortly after arriving here.

With the holiday approaching we are trying to figure out where we will hole up. After Labor Day, the game changes, the kids are in school and we will have much more freedom on where to go.

Monday – Rain today, so we will do laundry. It’s been awhile and the bag is really heavy.

Tuesday – The sky was deep blue as soon as it was full daylight. And only 45 degrees. The DW finally got out of her cocoon and we got away at 10. Sleeping until 7:30 has become the norm.

Destination Crater Lake less than 20 miles away. Good thing as we only had gas for 100 miles. We stopped by the local gas station who wanted $3.83. Having paid $3.09 a few days back, we passed.

We spent a few hours marveling at Crater Lake and then drove back to US97 where gas was only $3.23. Of course, I did have to go in the restaurant and entice the owner/cook to dispense some gasoline.

21 Crater Lake 03

21 Crater Lake 05 Crater Lake 

21 Crater Lake 06 Unknown Mountain on the North Road into Crater Lake

All of the Cascades are the result of recent volcanic activity. The area around Crater Lake has lots of pyramid shaped mountains

Wednesday – The DW has really gotten into noticing the status on the coach battery display and the amps coming in from the solar array. She gets depressed when the sun is not on the panels and/or the discharge percentage is less than 90%. This has been common the last few weeks. Parked under a canopy of trees, not much light reaches the forest floor. We moved locations to be in the sun and it became overcast or rainy. We have used the genset several hours in the last few weeks. And so it goes.

The DW (me) has been really depressed in the shade, but is now a very happy camper.  Besides sun on the solar panels, there is sun coming in the windows.  Even had the lower the back shade to keep out the sun so we could take a nap.  Love this campground – sites are large, the lake is behind us and we put the kayaks by the water so we can jump in them any time we want.  We sat outside and had cocktails and then sat outside after dinner.

Last night the forecast was for a clear today. There was not a cloud shown on the regional radar weather. We woke up to 100% overcast with a mist falling. It cleared after lunch and it’s been bright sun most of the afternoon. The batteries are fully charged and the DW is happy.

We moved to the Lemolo CG on Lemolo Lake. This was our original destination, but we had to pass by Diamond Lake and we took advantage of fresh water and a dump, amenities we do not have here. This is a much more scenic location and we have a large waterfront site with plenty of sun.

21 Lemolo Lake 02 Lemolo Lake

There are lots of fish hatcheries in Oregon.  Yesterday, they put 1,500 large rainbow trout in the lake.  Yesterday afternoon the truck come in again so we walked to the boat ramp. They released 4,000 smaller ones, about one pounders. A few did not survive the release, so a woman and her granddaughter were scooping them into a net – that’s my way to fish, except we didn’t have a net.  And besides, we have never cleaned fish, so would probably mangle the job.

We are in a holding pattern. We will hang in this area for a few days longer than we might, due to the holiday and the need to get tires before we go any distance. I ordered tires from the Roseburg Costco and hope to have them put on next Tuesday. We lost alignment only a few hundred miles back, but the front tires are trashed. Oh well, they are almost four years old and showing some small cracks. I hope to hold off putting tires on the rear until after we get home.

Thursday – Still lazy. Slept until 8, surfed the web until 9, then had breakie. I was able to shave with the light coming in the windows. 75 at 9 today. What a change.

Any exercise today gets me huffing and puffing. We are fairly low in elevation, only 4,600 feet. We took our blood pressure. We are both around 95/70, but our pulse is about 95. Almost dead. Taking it easy today.

Last Days in Oregon

Friday, September 3Waterfall Day! We visited four falls within 15 miles of our campsite. All good ones.

 21 Waterfalls 02 Clear Creek

Clear Creek Falls

21 Waterfalls 04 Whitehorse Whitehorse Falls

21 Waterfalls 07 WatsonWatson Falls – 282 feet

21 Waterfalls 11 ToketeeToketee Falls 

There are another two dozen falls in the area.

We needed a few groceries and drove toward Roseburg looking for a grocery. The general store in Glide did not do it for us, so we drove all the way into town for a Safeway. It was 2pm and we were starving, so before Safeway, we got a so-so pizza at the first place we saw.

After Safeway, we located the brand new Costco where we will get new tires Tuesday. After two weeks, it was almost nice to be back in a big box store. We did not get back until 5, 170 miles round trip.

Saturday – We hot tubbed today. This was the first hot springs we have seen in a National Forest with some signage on how to get there. There are seven pools carved out of travertine that overlook the Umpqua River about 200 feet below. It was very refreshing.

Sunday – We set out to find Lemolo Falls. I mis-read the instructions and the map and wound up miles away. We returned and re-read the instructions and found the correct road a 1/4 mile from the turn-off to campground.

The trail to the falls was advertised as 1/4 mile. However, the last of the road to the trailhead had been closed, so that added a 1/2 mile. Big deal you say. It was all downhill. We walked the former road that was well rutted and had baseball size rocks on it. When we got to the 1/4 mile trail, it went down steeper. We continued on. A couple on the way back up, saw Dorothy walking and suggested we not go all the way. He said he hikes the PCT and this was a tough trail. He was sweating a lot. We went a hundred yards more and saw the trail going pretty much straight down into a narrow canyon. We got a glimpse of the falls through the tree foliage. So no picture, but we got some exercise.

Filled up the water tank and had a long hot shower.

Monday – The dreaded holiday arrived about midnight, with rednecks a few campsites away cranking up the amps on their guitars. It’s a shame that could not play a tune. The camp host here hides in his trailer. DW would have called the sheriff, but we did not know what county were are in.

We put the yaks in for a final turn around the lake, had lunch, a nap, packed up and drove 138 toward Roseberg. This road reminds me of US199 to Crescent City. 199 is downhill all the way along the Smith River. 138 is likewise downhill along the Umpqua.

Dorothy picked Susan Creek Falls CG to to be closer to Costco in Roseburg in the morning. It’s a jewel. A BLM property all fluffed and buffed on the Umpqua. With tiled showers!  It’s the second cg I have given the highest rating of five stars.

22 Susan CreekSusan Creek Campground 

Had cocktails with Linda and Mike from Paso Robels.

Tuesday – Shopping Day. We went to Roseburg at 8:45 and did not get back until 6. Got tires for KoKo, groceries, Lowe’s, Wal*Mart, laundry, Indian lunch and drugs. Rain started about 2:00 and came and went the rest of the day.

Wednesday – Rain in the morning. After lunch we hiked to Fall Creek Falls. The trail was different from any other we have done in this area. Very scenic.  Had cocktails with Linda and Mike.

21 Waterfalls 14 Fall Creek Falls

Along the trail to Fall Creek Falls

21 Waterfalls 18 Fall Creek Falls Fall Creek Falls

We can not get the front aligned until Friday and then not at the place we wanted to use. So we are still in a holding pattern here.

Light rain returned in the late evening.

Thursday, September 10 – It’s wet outside! We had a long hot shower and revised our plans. We will do a few more errands here and drive south to be at the door at 8am Friday for our front end alignment. I would have never guessed you need a week’s led time for tires and alignment.

The California Leg

Friday, September 10 – KoKo’s front end is aligned and we are in northern California. We stopped at a Forest Service CG called Fowler along the McCloud River. Mt. Shasta towers over us at 14,000 feet.

23-Mt-Shasta_thumb4Mt Shasta Looms 

There are three medium height water falls close to the campground. The CG just south of Fowler, Cattle Camp, we judge to be a little better, but we came to this one first. There is another Lazy Daze here and another one at Cattle Camp.



21-Waterfalls-21-McCloud-River_thumbThree Waterfalls on the McCloud River 

Saturday – A first for us, our wheels have been moving every day, even over the weekend. We are breaking the 800 miles to SoCal into manageable chunks of short days. About 120 miles yesterday, ditto today and we will repeat it tomorrow.

I am guessing we are at the half-way point in total mileage for this trip. The odometer reads 42,168. But we have only been 1,200 miles in the last six weeks.  We think sitting still is essential to a journey. You must stop and sit quietly for a time and think about where you have been and where you are going and …. why.

Tonight we are at the Susanville Wal*Mart. We planned to be on a remote BLM site, but after sampling the washboard road, we decided to keep our front end aligned and park here. And we have TV. After no TV for over a month, we have had reception for 2 of the last 3 nights.

Sunday – After a grueling two hour drive, we are at the Carson City Wal*Mart. We wanted to meet a Lazy Daze cyber chum that lives near here and we did. We could have driven over the mountain to a delightful BLM CG, but we decided to stay here and do some shopping and watch 20 channels of TV. We did not go to the store right away and when we got ready, the power was off for all of south Carson City. And so it goes.

Note for the next time in this area. There are three Basque restaurants in Minden/Garderville.

Monday – Another hard day’s drive - 110 miles in 2.5 hours. We landed at Oh Ridge CG at June Lake. Our third time here.

Tuesday – Another arduous day. About 110 miles downhill - 7,800 feet to 4,000 feet. You lose 2,000 feet on the Sherman Grade. We are at our place in the Alabama Hills. It is really hazy. There are forest fires north and south of here on the west side of the Sierra Nevada.

This was our sixth day of whittling at the miles from southern Oregon to southern California. We saw gas near  Bridgeport for $4.14. We filled up at the reservation station in Bishop for $2.73. Local knowledge saved us $25.

Wednesday – The smoke from the fires has visibility down to less than 10 miles. Whitney is barely visible at 6 miles.

The weather is perfect in the mornings and evenings. 60 degrees and 10% humidity.

24-Alabama-Hills-08_thumb2Our View of the Sierra Nevada 

24-Alabama-Hills-09_thumb2Parked in the Alabama Hills 

We met Greg and Debra and knew right away we wanted to spend more time with them. They are from Minnesota on a fly and drive trip. Left Las Vegas this morning, came through Death Valley, to the Alabama Hills and will spend tonight in Sequoia. They stayed so long with us, they will not get to bed until rather late.

There is a Ladies Only Laze Daze gathering close by. Dorothy was going, but decided not to at the last minute. I wonder why there is such an event.

Thursday – The fires are out or the wind changed. It was clear this morning. We enjoyed sitting on our veranda having coffee and looking at the rocks and the mountains.

We left at 11:00 and headed for Los Angeles. We arrived at the Chino Wal*Mart about 4:00 after stopping and napping along US66.

Friday – We got to Lazy Daze by 8:30. Vince resolved our silly little problem with two drawers in less than 5 minutes. We picked up our supplies for the cab over makeover and checked into the East Side RV park. This is a HUGE park run by the county. A place where they can take their RV for a time without having to really go anywhere. $45 a night. We would not be here, but for my poor planning. But, we have chores to do and we can do them easily from here.

Saturday – Project Day - I removed the mattress from the cab over bed, wrapped it in 6mil plastic and made a sandwich with it between two sheets of 1/2 plywood and put it on the roof rack. Elapsed time 4 hours. I also washed Pelli. Dorothy did laundry and twisted her ankle.

Sunday – Lazy Day – Watched CBS Sunday Morning, took a swim, had lunch, napped, drove to west LA on the 210. Parked in Larry’s driveway.

Monday – Larry began work on the cabinet for the cab over. It will have to be disassembled to get it in the rig and then re-assembled. Most of the  rough work was completed today. I mostly watched.

Tuesday – Larry got the drawers in in the morning. I worked on getting the brake lights working again after I screwed up.

Wednesday -

Last Days in California

The IBM laptop died and with it our Blog on what we did from Medford, OR to LA. We can recover it from the hard drive, just not right now. This Blog entry begins after we had been in LA for a few days.

Tuesday, September 21 - It’s my birthday! Oh well, you only turn 65 once.

Work continues on the over-the-cab cabinet. Don fixed Frank’s spaghetti yesterday and we served it to Larry and Renee for dinner.

Wednesday - Today the cabinet is finished and it is just great. It looks like it came from the factory. It will take a little time to figure out exactly how we will use it, although I have claimed one cabinet and put all of the electrical appliances in it. I don’t think I could be more pleased. We went to dinner at a local Italian restaurant today with the Wade’s and the lasagna was excellent.

Thursday - We said goodbye to Larry and are now in Tehachapi, CA at the Indian HIlls Ranch RV Park for the September Lazy Daze Caravan. There are 70 LD’s here - we’ve never been around so many before. They say this is a small gathering, usually 100+. The club is 54 years old and a lot of these people have been together for over 40 years. We spent time with Don & Rosemary Webb whom we met at the LDNW gathering. They showed the movie, Blind Side, with Sandra Bullock, and it was wonderful and fun and feel-good. We can see why she won best actress,

Friday - We drove around Tehachapi sightseeing and returned to the rig for a nap and lunch. It’s our first nap since Saturday! I went to a women’s meeting and Don went to a tech meeting. Tonight is a “bring a dish” dinner and the movie, Old Dogs.

The Caravan Club runs like a swiss watch. When they show a movie, they have a 5x8 screen and an HD projector with sound system.

The weather has been perfect the last week or so. Cool at night and temperate during the day. That is going to change. We had planned to leave here for Zion. However, a week long heat wave is arriving, which will put temps here and at Zion in the high 90’s. We need to gain elevation and will hole up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains until the weather changes.

Saturday - Everyone, else, is playing Washer Toss. They finished after lunch and half the group went back to LA. At 3:00, they had the annual meeting and we were introduced as new members. The meeting concluded with the ever popular Pot of Gold lottery. Then the owners of the park brought tubs of Baskin Robins ice cream and apples.

Sunday - We are almost the last to leave the Caravan - only four rigs were left. Some left at 5:30 on their way to Albuquerque to the Balloon Feast. We started the journey to the Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park. A little west of Tehachapi is the Caliente Bodfish Road. It’s a narrow winding mountain road. We took it. We did not know how narrow or winding or long it would be. It climbs from 500 feet to over 4,000. Everyone waves to you. We found a campground, Limestone CG, which is operated by National Forest. If it had been warmer, Lake Isabella has lots of $0 camping. Stine Cove on the west side looked the best. Camp 9 is has a dump.

Monday - We continued on the twisty mountain road and got to the Sequoia National Forest. The mix of flora is different than anything we have seen - Christmas trees of all sizes. We saw our first Sequoia trees in the 100 Tree Grove. The Redwood trees grow very tall, skyscrapers. Sequoias don’t get as tall, but are very wide, like houses. If several are together, then they grow together and make a very big tree. We are camped at a private park in Porterville where the elevation is only 400‘ and it’s a hot 100 degrees.

Tuesday - Driving north through the San Joaquin valley, which is primarily agriculture and economically depressed. It looks about two notches above Mexico. We saw orange trees, lime trees which are shorter and bushier than the orange trees, olive trees which we have never seen before and are kind of like willows, and corn and cotton. The fire that we encountered two weeks ago in the eastern Sierra Nevada is still burning and the smoke is throughout the valley. We are camped at the Azalea CG in Kings Canyon National Park. Only a trace of smoke here.

Wednesday - We drove 40 miles on the jaw dropping Kings Canyon Road. Even better than Tioga Pass. A bit of smoke partially obscured the wonders of the granite walls of rock rising up thousands of feet from the valley floor. Actually the floor is a moraine as it was carved by glaciers. We hope to return here when there is not a fire.

In addition to the usual admonitions to not feed the bears, this park has new, to us, advice. Don’t try to take anything away from the bears.

It’s German Month. Cruise America’s are out like fireflies with German’s and other foreign tourists. We think a $10,000 tourist fee should apply. They dress funny, are impolite and take up space.

Thursday - Tree Day. We drove the General Grant Road as far south as the Giant Grove and hiked the two mile Congress Trail through the giants. These trees are magnificent! The Senate and the House groves were good, but the President’s Tree is truly a sight to behold. A lot of the trees are named. After looking at the President’s Trees, if I had lots of money, I would pick the most magnificent unnamed tree and name it The George W. Bush Tree. But guess that’s not a very good idea, because then someone would want to name a tree after some president I don’t care about. Therefore, I guess I should just name if after me!

Once again today, it was smoky, but where it had not been yesterday. At the museum we found out that the fire was the work of an arsonists. How sad!

Friday - Driving day. We left Kings Canyon and arrived at Barstow 5 1/2 hours later. - halfway across the Mojave. We are once again staying in a private campground because it is hot - 103 when we arrived. We love dry camping, but sometimes, you just have to have a/c. We do have cable, so will watch Tom Selleck tonight.

Saturday - Another driving day - 5 hours. We couldn’t decide where we wanted to stop, but knew that we could not get a place at Zion on the weekend. So we decided to stop at the Casa Blanca Casino in Mesquite, NV. The CG is a paved lot, but better than Wal*Mart. We have full hookups and cable TV for $19.95. Great bathroom/shower. We went to Wal*Mart for grocery shopping, then we went to the casino for dinner. They had a prime rib buffet for $14.50. They had crab legs, shrimp, filet mignon, prime rib, fried chicken, and lots of other meats. Fresh strawberries, cantaloupe, water melon and a lot of other salads. Then there was also vegetables and desserts. And it was good.

After dinner, I needed to spend a couple of dollars in the slot machine. I had $5 that I was willing to lose - yes, I am a big time gambler. After I was down about $3, I won $13.25. After much debate, I decided to continue, figuring I could handle losing it all, maybe. I got down to $2.75 and was regretting my decision and then I won $22.25! I stopped - it paid our camping fees!

Sunday, October 3 - We made it to Zion. It is as busy as an anthill. Watchman is booked for the month. With Dorothy’s blue placard, we managed to snare an ADA site, one of the few spaces available. Two light showers this afternoon cooled southern Utah off. More rain and cooler temps are expected tomorrow and for the next few days.



In the last Blog post, we had just arrived at Zion NP

Monday, October 4 - It rained a little overnight. There was sun and almost clear skies in the morning. We slept too late to make a Ranger walk and talk so decided to try to get a few pictures while the sun lasted. We drove east on the park road, stopping frequently for construction – Pelosi bucks being spent on road repairs. It will not last as long as the CCC projects, but at least some of it is going for the public interest. We almost got to Checkerboard Mesa when the rain came. It took a lot longer to return as the tour buses were now out in force. I did get a few keeper pictures. Even in the rain this place is the best. 


After lunch and nap, we drove an hour to St. George to replace the dead computer. It rained all the way back and then off and on all evening.

Tuesday -  Rain or overcast all day. We tried a short hike, but returned when the rain started. Nothing like hiking in wet jeans.  Rain is forecast through Thursday.

I am spending time setting the new laptop up the way I like it. Dorothy is puttering in the galley with her new Cansolidator we got at Costco. A handy storage device.

Wednesday – Only a little rain in the am. The sky changed from gray to blue and back every 10 to 15 minutes. We went into Springdale and did laundry and after lunch did a short Ranger walk and talk at Weeping Rock. There was enough sun to get the batteries to 100% for the first time this week.

Thursday – Heavy overcast. Always hopeful, we went to the end of the canyon and did the River Walk. It was good exercise, but without sun, it was not photogenic. As we got back to the CG, the overcast cleared and within 30 minutes the sky was 100% blue. A glorious afternoon. And so it goes. Now the weekend starts with lots of people in the CG.  Also I am getting old and crotchety – I am sick and tired of foreigners who try to run me over on our walks.  So now I just stare them in the face and do not budge, after all, who would run down a old cripple lady!

Human's must be starved for animal contact. They coo over, feed, and photograph squirrels and ground squirrels.


The Entrance to the famous Narrows





Friday – We both slept until 7:45. We drove to the East Entrance making frequent stops for pictures and short hikes. I took an hour long hike trying to get the perfect Checkerboard Mesa shot. I failed. But I did get a few decent pictures. Once you come out of the tunnel you are in Escalante Country. Beautiful rock formations, but the high walled canyons are all on the west side of the tunnel.

Zion is great, but the best parts are for those who can climb the cliffs. We can’t and so we prefer the more accessible Escalante Country.




Really Tame Big Horns by the Roadside

Saturday –  Our last day in Zion. Did a little marketing in Springdale for essentials in the morning and took a short, but exhausting hike in the afternoon. Four years ago, we did the Hidden Canyon hike. Today, we did Emerald Pool and Kayenta – 1.8 miles total. Only a 150 foot elevation gain, but some of it you gain, lose and regain. We rested several times, but it still got the best of us.

Sunday – It’s less than two hours from Zion to Lone Rock, which is just north of Page, AZ on Lake Powell. We “discovered” this area in 1994 on our first trip west. Page is a new town, started in 1957 to house the Glen Canyon Dam workers. Jerry Ford lived and golfed here in the 90’s. It has enough shopping, but it has a lot of open areas so it does not feel like a city.

Lone Rock is better then we recalled it. We are parked on the shore with the red and white cliffs around us. Sunsets are great and the Milky Way is out before our bedtime. We both knew we were “home” when we headed down to the lake. It’s as good as camping on the beach in Baja, but this is fresh water.

We spent out first afternoon here sitting in our chairs in the water.


Life is Difficult Here


The View

Monday – We drove back toward Kanab and went south eight miles on House Rock Road and hiked Wire Pass Canyon, a reasonably long slot and one of the narrowest. Dorothy loved it. Of course, she is paying for it tonight. Somehow, she got back up a five-foot pour off. No injuries other than some rips in her shirt.


Walking in on Wire Pass


Dorothy Happy in Her Slot

This trailhead is also used to access the famous Wave. We have not tried for a permit as we don’t think we can make the hike. We should have gone when I first learned about in the 80’s. Now access is highly restricted and so are we.

We don’t think we like anyplace as much as we do southern Utah. On the drive back up House Rock Road, there were close to a dozen colors in the rocks. Red, of course, gold, grey, pale green, buttercup, vermillion.

Tuesday – We paddled the yaks on Lake Powell for two hours, had lunch, napped and back into Page to get some meat. The meat counter was bare Sunday night. Since our bandwidth is almost gone for the month, we spent some time surfing at the fine local library and looking up local information. We stopped at both the Glen Canyon and BLM VC’s looking for a recommended reference on how to get to a recommended place to photograph the lake.  By the time we got back to the CG, cocktails and dinner were more appealing than a sunset drive on a back road. So we decided to extend our stay here.


We spent an hour or so perched on this rock island

We built our semi-annual campfire and neighbor Bob Vasta joined us for some  enjoyable evening conversation. 

Wednesday – We started to do a hike, then got lazy and whiled away the morning talking with our neighbor Diana.

We got away at 4 for our golden hour photo session at Alstrom Point. Since I drive slowly on back roads, 3 would have been a better time, as we arrived about 30 minutes too late to get the best pictures. Oh well, it an excuse to make the 20 mile drive again. The initial road used to access Alstrom Point is Smokey Mountian Road which goes all the way north to Utah 12 at Escalante. We did part of the northern end of the road last year. Maybe sometime we will drive the whole thing? Kelly Grade sounds interesting, climbs 1,500 feet and is not for the faint of heart.


The View From Alstrom Point on Lake Powell

Bob and Diana had the campfire going when we got back at 8.

Starting Home

Friday, October 15 – Our trip is coming to an end. In two weeks we will be home. I always dread the end of trips. Perhaps the worst aspect of it is the long boring drive across Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Today we paddled up the Colorado River about two miles and drifted back to Lee’s Ferry. The current was only about one-knot, so it was an easy paddle. The cliffs are high, but not scenic. They are mostly one color, vermillion. How sand gets 1,000 feet above river is a mystery to me. Perhaps done by the ancient river?


Dorothy on the Colorado

After watching and listening to the slackers packing the rafts to go down the river, there is no way we would want to be with them for a day much less a week or two.

Saturday – A LONG driving day for us – six hours, five of it crossing the Hopi Reservation where you see unfinished houses, often needing repairs and just hovels. We saw one hand lettered sign in a driveway, Hay, Sheep, Tire Repair. We did not see another RV on AZ 264, which is a rough road in many sections, that goes up and down countless mesas. The GPS said it was an hour longer to go the elbow route through Flagstaff.

Anywho, we crossed Arizona and landed in New Mexico at Bluewater SP. Jim and Gayle and Debbie are also here. The elevation is 7,350 feet and it’s time for cocktails.

Sunday – We watched TV all morning and did a hike with Gayle, Debbie and Jim in the afternoon.

Monday – We visited El Malpais. Close to Malpas, ay?


Sandstone cliffs at El Malpais


La Ventaya Arch at El Malpais

 The rest of this Blog is about driving home. Not really worth reading.

Tuesday – After a long goodbye, we drove to Albuquerque.

Wednesday – Mike and Lisa did the annual systems check. We had an enjoyable dinner with them at Sadie’s. Rain tonight and tomorrow. Drive in the rain or wait a day?

Thursday – The sky brightened around 9, so we decided to run east. Almost at the Texas line we were catching up with the front. So we stopped in San Jon for a nap at the town’s free overnight parking. It had not cleared much in 30 minutes, so we watched TV for another 30 minutes until the horizon brightened. We will overnight at the Welcome Center in Amarillo.  That will make it a 250 mile day.

We don't want to catch up with front ahead of us or let the one behind catch up with us. So we are hoping the front behind us does move too fast.

We almost made to Amarillo rain free. The front paused over Amarillo and we drove the last 23 miles in light rain.

Friday – We drove southeast on the fine roadway of US287 to Wichita Falls and parked at the Wal*Mart on Greenbrier. It was overcast all day, but no rain.

Saturday – We were awakened at 6:30 by a truck, followed moments later by the sky opening up and dumping first water and then frozen water on us.

We started out in moderate rain, and then it got worse until we got east of the front. We stopped for lunch and a nap and the front caught up with us. Another two hours east we broke into sunlight.

We landed at Atlanta SP near Texarkana, Texas. The TV stations are having a great time explaining the severe weather in the area. So far, nothing here.

They call this area ArkLaTex because of the close proximity of the three states. Don’t you feel enlightened with this knowledge?

Sunday – The forecast is for more storms. But the sun is out and the humidity is ONLY 80%. Such a change from the 10% we are accustomed to. Welcome back to the south.

Storms or not, we decided to stay here and rest from the long driving days. We can be home in two long jumps from here anywho.

Monday – Greenville, MS Welcome Center

Tuesday – Home

Ending odometer: 45,726. 9,577 miles on this trip. 13,996 for the year.

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