Sunday, July 30, 2017

Hoods

The drive on I-84 is one of our favorites. Moving east the Columbia River was on the left side of the road and we could see Washington on the other side of the river. There are many dams and locks along the river that provide a lot of hydro-electric power for nearby communities and the state of Oregon. This is an interesting area. There are divided highways on both sides of the river and train tracks on each side of the river. Throw in the boats on the river and that adds up to a lot of vehicular traffic.

Between Portland and Hood River (the town) there were evergreen trees on both sides of the highway. Occasionally, we could see the Columbia River through the trees on the left. Straight ahead we could see Mount Hood. It is a pointy mountain and is the highest peak visible in that area. Much snow still covered the mountain and it was like a beacon drawing us in that direction.

Through the windshield picture of Mount Hood, moving east on I0-84
 The town of Hood River is named after the Hood River that flows into the Columbia at that location. They have a port on the Columbia River and a small marina with berths for about twenty boats. The Columbia is about ¼ mile wide at this point and near that width for about 50 miles.

We drove through Hood River and were both getting hungry, so I planned to stop in Rufus and park near the John Day Dam, where we have boondocked many nights at the Corps of Engineers Park. Just east of The Dalles, I saw a sign that said, “REST AREA 2 MILES.” That sounded like a better deal. We could stop along the highway and not get off asphalt paved areas. We both preferred that option over Rufus where we would be parked off the highway and in rocky terrain.

View of the Columbia River from a rest stop east of The Dalles
Kathi made us sandwiches for lunch and I took a few pictures, until a big truck pulled in next to us blocking our view of the river. There were forty of fifty people in the rest area and about fifteen cars and vans, ten big rigs, a few motorhomes and a few trailers. We had a fun peaceful lunch, watched other rest area guests and walked around the motorhome to keep our blood flowing after sitting for several hours and knowing we still had several hours to drive.

Another Columbia River View
 The huge evergreen trees we had alongside the road earlier were replaced with mountains and cliffs that were solid rock in some areas and straw colored dead grasses in other areas. There were some smaller trees, but not many tall spruce or pine trees.

Truck on the right is next to us at the rest stop. Divided highway traffic closer to the river.
We drove through The Dalles, then through Rufus with one spectacular view after another. Somewhere around Boardman the river turned to the north and the highway drifted to the south, making the river further north of the highway and ahead we saw mountains with a spray of windmills.

We began seeing irrigated fields with grass and some crops alongside the highway. We saw orchards of walnuts and hazel nuts and vineyards that started on level ground and continued up the hillsides. There were a lot of corn fields and the density of the stalks indicated the corn was for cattle feed and not human consumption. The greenery was great and always a sight we appreciate. 


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Leaving Lincoln City

Kathi and I arrived at Lincoln City, OR July 6, 2017 and departed on July 26th. We spent our entire stay at the Chinook Winds Casino parking lot, rent free. We were boondocking and using our bank of six batteries for electricity. We had to run our generator a few hours in the morning and evening to recharge the batteries. When boondocking we used our water and electricity sparingly. After the first 12 days there, we had to go to a local RV park and empty our tanks and re-fill our fresh water tank for a $10 fee.

Right side of the Chinook Winds Casino taken from the employee parking area.
 After we were there in Lincoln City for a few days, my sister Carol and her husband Lloyd Jackson arrived and parked near us. We had a great time visiting with them and eating a few meals together at local restaurants or the casino buffet. Carol and Kathi also enjoyed a few casino hours together playing video poker machines. Kathi and I spent some time in the casino, but I limited my playing time, because I tend to be too free with her gambling allowance.

One of the places I like to eat fried codfish and curly fries.
 Our friends, Debbie and Butch Schultz live in Oregon and have a view of the Columbia River from their front door. They drove their car to Lincoln City for a few vacation days and last Saturday night they dropped by to visit. They also have an Alfa, so we have a place to start a conversation as we share stories about our lives and travel adventures. It was great seeing them again and we had a lively, enjoyable conversation. We hope to visit them at their home on our next trip through.

An expanse of trees in a forest are north of Lincoln City
 The last few days we were there, I was having to run our generator more often than usual and I think we have at least one bad battery in our battery bank. Our plan was to leave Lincoln City the end of this week anyway, but the battery problem made leaving a few days earlier seemed like a good idea.

We said goodbye to Carol and Lloyd as they were leaving for a drive to Tillamook, OR. Then, we drove to the Neotsu Post Office and got our mail from general delivery. We hooked our Jeep to Alfa and hit the road toward the Pioneer RV Park in Hermiston, OR.

We drove north on US 101, the Pacific Coast Highway, then turned east on OR 18, the Salmon River Highway. Going was slow on OR 18 because of the curves and switchbacks through the mountains. We left OR 18 as it entered McMinnville and continued east on OR 99W, the SW Pacific Highway. Travel was slow as we drove through the communities of McMinnville, Dayton, Dundee, Newberg and Tigard. Many red lights and stop and go traffic. We finally got to I-5 in Portland and drove north until we got to I-84.


Next Post: Hoods describes our trip along the Columbia River.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Lincoln City Experiences

One of the reasons we bought our motorhome was to avoid summer in Texas. We loved the weather in spring, winter and fall, but July and August were not that much fun. The first few years we traveled our oldest son lived in San Francisco and our youngest son was in the Marine Corp stationed at Twentynine Palms, CA. We made a lot of trips up and down the California coast visiting our sons.

Twentynine Palms is about 150 miles east of Los Angeles and over 500 miles SSE of San Francisco. We made the trip from the Houston area to California at least once per year for several years and up and down the state of California a couple of times each year. When our youngest got out of the Marines he moved back to Texas and around that time our oldest also returned to Texas. Kathi and I had enough of California with the high prices and we agreed we had no reason to return there.

A view along US101 --The Pacific Coast Highway.
My sister and brother-in-law had been RVing longer than we had and they spent a lot of summertime boondocking in Oregon. In August of 2007, Kathi and I decided to join them on the Oregon Coast. They were boondocking in the Chinook Winds Casino parking lot in Lincoln city. We had never boondocked and were a little leery of trying that, so we moved into the Chinook Bend RV Park in the southern part of Lincoln City. We drove our Jeep to visit my sister at the casino.

A deer eating leaves off a tree at Chinook Bend RV Park
We returned to Lincoln city in 2008 and took the plunge boondocking at the Chinook Winds Casino parking lot. It was 60-65 degrees most of July and August and the wind blew off the ocean constantly. We had fun. The parking lot was not level and our front wheels were about a foot off the ground, but the windows were open and we had a blast.

In summer 2009, we returned to the Oregon Coast, but started our visit further south in the Coos Bay/North Bend Area. We boondocked at the Mill Casino in North Bend. North Bend is just to the north of Coos Bay and the bay itself borders three sides of North Bend. We usually refer to Coos Bay when we stayed at the Mill Casino. That summer we drifted along the coast north to the Three Rivers Casino in Florence and further north to the Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City. After a little time there, we ventured north to Tillamook, then into Washington. We visited Raymond, Rochester, Marysville and Chehalis in Washington. It was cooler in Oregon.

Picture through our windshield of RV's boondocking in the casino parking lot. The Mill Casino is in the background to the right.

One of our neighbors at Coos Bay.
In Summer of 2010 and 2011, we returned to the Oregon Coast and visited Coos Bay, Florence and Lincoln City. In the summertime from 2012 to 2014, we decided to go straight to Lincoln city, since we did not enjoy the casinos further south.

We spent most of 2015 and 2016 in Texas and Finally got back to Lincoln City July 6, 2017. We plan to stay until July 27th, then they will begin moving people out of the Chinook Winds Casino parking lot for re-striping. They are expecting a huge crowd to arrive in August to view the solar eclipse. We will definitely not be here. It has been fun boondocking here, but I think we will begin a slow drift back to Texas next week. It does not matter where we are, Kathi and I have fun together and enjoy each other. 

2017 picture of my view out the windshield at the Pacific Ocean behind the Chinook Winds Casino.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Deschutes National Forest

A few years ago, Kathi and I left Lincoln city on the Oregon coast with plans to spend the night at Walmart in Bend, OR. We had been boondocking for a while and I neglected to get diesel when we crossed I-5 moving east. We got into the Deschutes National Forest and the evergreen trees were fantastic. The winding roads through the mountains were a hoot and I was doing fine until I looked at the fuel gauge and it was on empty. Kathi never likes the winding roads, so she was already apprehensive and then I mentioned our fuel issue. We both realized no one in their right mind would put a truck stop in the middle of this national forest. The rest of the way up the mountain, around the bends and through the forest the air was filled with tension inside our motorhome.

Beautiful, snowy mountain views in the distance

We finally arrived at Bend, got some diesel, then found the Walmart store. We got parked and set up and opened our shades. Right outside our window was a sign that said, “NO RV Parking.” I showed the sign to Kathi and we both shook our heads. The tension still had not abated. Now it was worse. Before bringing our slide back in, Kathi found us a home further east and we left Bend, OR thinking we did not want to go that way again.

Great scenery


People forget.

July 5, 2017, we were leaving Burns, OR for our return to Lincoln City on the Oregon coast, again. I told Kathi we would be okay going through Bend, OR this time, because we filled up with diesel when we left Winnemucca, NV and had plenty of fuel to get us through the forest.

We left Burns early moving west on US 20 and got through Bend and Sisters in the middle of the day. Sisters, OR is a nice old tourist town on the eastern edge of the Deschutes National forest. Just west of Sisters traffic was blocked and not moving either direction. We pulled off on the side of the road and Kathi made us sandwiches for lunch. While we were eating the traffic cleared and we realized that the traffic delay was due to only one lane being open somewhere ahead. The lanes of traffic were alternating going past a construction area. We were fine, in no hurry and it was a beautiful day to be in the forest.

More forest views

We finally got past the construction area and entered the Deschutes National Forest. The forest was beautiful. We spent some time climbing, mountains, so going was slow, but that gave us more time to admire the trees. We past a sign that said, “6% DOWNGRADE NEXT 11 MILES.” No problem, I have gone downhill successfully many times before, so I was confident. We started down with my engine brake on and me keeping a manageable downhill speed. Then, we started getting curves around the mountains and bumps in the road. Obviously, the repair crews did not understand level, because each bump was at a patch in the road. Somewhere along that downhill run and a big bump in the road, one of the arms on my tow bar lost a connector. I spent a few downhill miles moving slower and assuring our Jeep did not pass us, especially into oncoming traffic. When I finally found a turnout, we discovered that keeping the Jeep behind us caused some bumper damage to the Jeep. Fortunately, I had a spare for the missing part and we were soon back on the road. I had to promise Kathi that was our last trip through Bend, OR and the Deschutes National Forest. I promise.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Continuing Northwest

We left the New Frontier RV Park in Winnemucca, NV early Friday morning, June 30, 2017. We had to drive to the pilot truck stop on the other end of town for diesel, then took US 95 north heading toward Burns, OR. The greenery on the side of the road was mostly shrubs and small grass and the terrain was rolling hills. US 95 is a two-lane road in excellent condition. There was minimal traffic and it made for pleasant driving. The land in this area is part of the Paiute-Shoshone Reservation of Ft. McDermitt, NV. Although the fort is in Nevada the reservation continues into Oregon.

Through the windshield picture on US 95

As we crossed into Oregon, the shrubbery went away and all the green we saw was just wild grasses, with no trees anywhere. After about 30 miles some scrub brush was added to the wild grass along the roadside. We saw several small herds of horses and a few cattle in the open range area. When we got to the intersection of US 95 and US 78, we took 78 northwest toward Burns, OR still moving toward the coast. Alongside US 78 we started adding trees to the mix of green growth. About 50 miles southeast of Burns, we started seeing irrigation and plush green grass, mostly for hay. I only remember one farm with crops, other than grass, but I could not identify the crop. We saw more and more farms that the hay was cut and ready for baling as we moved northeast.


Mountains get higher as we move north in Oregon
We got to the Burns RV Park in late afternoon and got a space under a tree that blocked our satellite reception for our TV. We also had a problem with our awning over our larger slideout. A gust of wind caught it when we were driving and did some damage to it, causing it not to extend or rewind properly when we moved the slideout out or in. I spent some time on a ladder and eventually resorted to a small hacksaw to cut away a rod attached to a gear on the roller that was causing us much trouble. The fabric is still torn, but I have it in workable condition, although it needs to be sewn before returning inland.

Am igloo like structure in Burns, OR

We did not want to travel on the Fourth of July weekend, so we ended up spending five nights in Burns. We ate one meal at the Apple Peddler restaurant and the rest of the time we ate at home. Burns is a tired old town and not much to see or do there. The biggest stores in town are farm and feed supply stores.

Thursday, July 5th, we moved further west on US 20. We got lost for a little while in Bend, OR, as there is no US 20 bypass. You have to wander through town and I got lost. Making a U-turn is most difficult driving an RV and pulling a Jeep, so when we found US 97 we got on it and found where it crossed US 20 to put us back on track.

We moved into the Life Northwest RV and Lodging in Harrisburg, OR. This is a nice RV park with paved spaces on the banks of the Willamette River. The property was purchased by the Life Bible Church a few years ago. We spent one night in Harrisburg and were ready to make it to the coast the next morning.

Next post: The Deschutes National Forest and arrival at Lincoln City.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Westward Ho!

We said goodbye to all our friends at Charlie’s Service Center after they resolved the last item on our list of issues. We got away a little before two o’clock the afternoon of Monday, June 26, 2017. Our motorhome looked great and our maintenance issues were behind us and we were ready for the road again.

We took I-15 south toward Salt Lake City, eased on to I-215 south, then I-80 west toward Wendover, UT and West Wendover, NV. The ride along the Salt Lake is always peaceful, because there is not much out that way. We saw a lot of salt, some salt processing plants, many salt marshes, some brown scrub brush and mountains in the distance on both sides of the highway. The greenery was sparse up close, but there was some green on the mountains.

Salt extraction near the Great Salt Lake

Piles of salt for processing

We stopped for two nights at the Wendover KOA. The first spot they gave us only had 30-amp service and we kept throwing the breaker. We finally called for a different spot and they moved us to one of the six 50-amp spaces they have in the park. They advertise that they have a lot of RV spaces available and that is true, but many of them have only 30-amp service with no water or sewer. They have about 30 full hook-up 30-amp spaces, and like I said only six full service 50-amp spaces. If you get there late in the afternoon in the summertime, those six sites are always booked.

We had a great time Tuesday at the Rainbow Casino. We left there about 9:00 pm with a little more money than we started with. It was a fun-filled day and we were exhausted when we got back into our RV.


Casino fun


We slept late Wednesday morning and got on the road again. The scenery was a little different west of Wendover. There was a little more green shrubbery and the mountains were nearer the highway. When we passed through Wells, NV we saw some yellow wildflowers for about thirty miles, then they disappeared again. The rest of the trip was browns and greens and few other colors. We started seeing more snow on mountains, but not snow caps. Only streaks of snow that will probably be gone in a few more summer weeks.

We stopped along the way at a Pilot Truck Center that had a Subway sandwich shop. Kathi went in and got sandwiches for us and we ate lunch in the Pilot parking lot. The food was tasty, but the buns were a bit stale. We needed the break and were ready to go when we finished eating. We arrived at the New Frontier RV about four in the afternoon and got electricity hooked up and spent the evening inside. Temperature was in the 90’s when we arrived and the low overnight was 47 degrees.

We went to bed early Wednesday night and awoke early Thursday and visited the Parker Model T Casino for a few hours, had a barbecue sandwich lunch at The Pig and returned home to rest and watch news in the afternoon.

The Pig
Friday morning, we continued our quest to the coast. We were both glad to be moving again. Kathi, as usual, was a great traveling companion. Fun, fun, fun.