I'm SO glad I looked underneath!

As I was getting ready to leave Les Schwab with the trailer wheel bearings freshly greased and repacked, I happened to notice something black hanging below the bumper.

It was the trailer battery! The bottom of the battery box had broken out and the battery was in the process of working its way towards the pavement.

I pulled the battery out and safely toddled back home.

I think this happened because I've been running a group 24 battery in the group 27 box - since the battery is a little smaller, it's entire weight is on the plastic bottom of the box - not reaching all the way to the metal 'shelves' that support the battery box. Guess I could get a welder to add a metal strip under the battery box to help support the battery.

So, one chore done and one more added to the list - not much progress today - but at least I didn't lose the battery (which is brand new).

Pause for the winter

Temps have dropped, the rain clouds have moved in . . . time for major trailer cleanup.

Every few years, I totally empty out the Escape and do a major cleanup.  Since I had the 'chipmunk episode' that sent dog kibble into every nook-and-cranny, and a major 'water all over the inside' episode, I figured this was a good year to do a deep clean.

Amazing how much stuff one can accumulate in such a small trailer!

I was amazed at how long it took to empty the trailer and huge piles of gear are everywhere.  I will be accessing the value of stuff with the intent of serious decluttering when I repack the trailer in a couple of weeks!  Meanwhile, the Escape has been mostly scrubbed clean (still need to clean the mini-blinds).

Next comes some maintenance

I have over 12,000 miles on the trailer now - time to get the wheel bearings repacked and a professional check of the frame, hitch, etc.  I've winterized and refilled the propane tanks.

The cats have taken up permanent residence on my lap

I'm spending more time at the house, organizing files for taxes, and gettting ready for the holidays.  The cats are thrilled, follow me everywhere and head for my lap anytime I'm still for more than a few seconds.

Camping Expenses over time

One rainy day recently I went back over my calendar and my Quicken Financial reports to see what I could see about my camping over the last few years.  Mostly what I discovered was that I don't keep very detailed records!  But, now that I will hopefully be doing longer trips and more dispersed camping, I will keep more detailed records.  Comparing the first 5 years to the last 2 years (post retirement), here's what I discovered:
  • I've doubled the number of trips per year (from 5 to 10)  and doubled the number of nights camping.
  • While money spent on campground fees went up, they didn't go up as much as expected because of a sharp increase in dry camping in Forest Service Parks rather than more expensive full-service State Parks.  Hopefully, next year the cost will go down even more as I practice dispersed camping.
  • I've invested fairly heavily in upgrades to accomodate long trips and boondocking: dual propane tanks, solar panels, catalytic heater, etc.  I have a few more things on my wish list but will probably wait until I've got a couple years of boondocking under my belt and have a better idea of what my real needs are (thinking back to all the gear I just unpacked from the Escape realizing how rarely I used some of it!).
  • The other really noticable trend was how often I've gone back to familiar campgrounds - I think I'm in a rut!!  Hopefully, when I can take longer trips, I can get a little further out of my own backyard!

Survived the severe weather warning!

The wind wasn't as bad as predicted

Sunday afternoon through Monday am, the coast was under a severe weather warning.  Camping this weekend at Cape Disappointment State Park, Ilwaco WA, we were expecting the wind to be bad; after all the campground is on the headland of Long Beach Peninsula.  But, I only felt a couple of gusts rocking the trailer - or was that just Molly shifting around on her bed - anyway, it wasn't bad at all.

It did rain quite a bit on Sunday, but that was offset by the temp being warmer (50F/10C) than the  previous couple days .

Wild, wet, and windy - another great weekend in the Pacific NW!
I know Molly doesn't look happy in this picture - but, it's really less the weather than her fear-and-loathing of flash cameras.  This picture was taken at about 5:30 in the afternoon - already dark enough to trigger the flash!

Camping on Long Beach Peninsula, WA during a severe weather warning!


How bad could it be?  Camping season isn't over in the Pac NW!:

Hooked up Friday morning for the drive to Long Beach Peninsula, WA.  As long as Molly is in the back of the Pilot, she knows she’s included in the adventure and will wait patiently.  I’m traveling with a couple of friends who have 24’ Motorhomes – so even if it’s really wet, I’ll have company and bigger spaces.
She wouldn't think of jumping over the net - would she?

Feeling quite impressed with myself . . .

As I drive across the 4.2 mile Astoria bridge, I can’t quite believe that I walked the bridge just a few weeks ago (great-columbia-crossing-10k) – it is one freaking long bridge! 

4.2 miles - and I felt every step!

I arrived at Cape Disappointment State Park in early afternoon, which paradoxically, didn’t disappoint.

The park is extensive with lots of beach access, lighthouses, wetlands, and over 200 campsites – even this late in the year, the open loops were full(Some loops are closed because the stormy winter high tides can flood them).  This campground is arranged very differently than Oregon State campgrounds – yurts are mixed in with the regular sites in a series of cul-de-sacs rather than separate yurt villages and the big loops that one finds in Oregon.  However, cell phone coverage is non-existent (I get 1 bar by the campground entrance but that’s it) – so this blog will probably have to wait until Monday to get posted!
The beach is bounded by headlands to the North with a pretty 1880’s lighthouse and to the South by the jetty.  Approaches to the beach all require navigation of lots of driftwood logs and riprap (near the jetty). This makes the beach a perfect place for Molly to run a bit off-leash – she can go up and down the beach and I don’t have to worry about her trying to cross the driftwood barrier (greyhounds never do anything difficult).  She had a good little run and everyone was duly impressed by the length of her stride in the sand (Bear, the Keeshound, took about 8 steps to her one running stride).

Doesn't she look happy? Greyhounds love to sprint!
Dinner was a big pot of chili, followed by a cutthroat game of Mexican Train Dominoes.  A very fine afternoon at the beach!

Sunset came early - but sure was pretty!


A beautiful day with no rain – my friends and I took full advantage of this break in the weather. 

A trip to the North Headlands Lighthouse was followed by a drive to the jetty and a long walk on the beach. 

1880's North Head Lighthouse - used 130gallons of oil every month for the light!!

Forget about drugs, TRASH kills!

On our beach walk, Paula pulled out a bag and started to beachcomb – which pretty much translated to picking up trash – soon, Sue and I followed.   Just about the time we had filled our dog poo bags, Paula found an intact 30 gallon garbage bag – so we used that to empty our little bags and continued down the beach.  Plastic bottles and caps, plastic shotgun shells, plastic bags, Styrofoam, bits of rope, etc.  We were hoping for some Japanese Tsunami debris but didn’t find anything but good old American trash.  Plastic bags and rope are especially dangerous for wildlife.  Not on our watch my fine feathered and finned friends, not on our watch!

Longest beach in the world

After lunch, we drove into Long Beach(advertised as the world’s longest beach – 25 miles!) to walk the .5 mile long boardwalk along the beach.  Long Beach is home to an annual week long kite festival – a huge event with thousands of kites in the air at any given time.

For me, no visit to Long Beach can be complete without visiting the Kite Museum – I’m kind of a kite geek (my friends were very patient).  In addition to quite an extensive collection of bird kites and world kites (Asian, Indian, Pakistani, Indonesian), there are exhibits showing the use of kites in the military, for naval rescues, powering ships (like big ocean-going vessels! Use of big, high-flying kites can reduce power usage up to 35%!!), other novel alternative-energy-generating applications, flying (kite-driven light aircraft pre-date the earliest airplanes with engines), and sports (kite boarding is big in the Columbia Gorge).
On the way back along the beach, we watched a large flock of sanderlings feeding at water’s edge.  As the surf came in, they would dash away from the water – all peeping wildly, only to turn and follow the waves as they receded back.  It was hilarious to watch!

peep. . . peep . . . peep . . .peep. . . peep . . . peep . . .peep. . . peep . . . peep . . .peep. . . peep . . . peep . . .
Dinner was a crock-pot roast with vegetables (yum! Especially tasty after being out in the 45 degree weather all day), followed by more dominoes.

Sunday:  Severe Weather Advisory upgraded to a ‘Warning’

We woke up this morning to a steady rain.  The severe weather advisory we heard about yesterday has been upgraded to a ‘warning’ for this afternoon through early Monday morning – expecting 40mph winds with gusts to 60mph or more.  Strong enough that high-profile vehicles (like trailers and RV’s) are warned not to cross the Astoria bridge.  This may affect plans for the journey homeward – I had wanted to drive back across the bridge and then take the picturesque Hwy 30 back to Portland.  But, if the wind hasn’t dissipated by the time we leave, we may follow Hwy 4 along the Washington coast back to I-5 – the winds won’t be so bad that far inland – although there could be trees down along that road.
In any case, I’ll probably lose my dry ‘porch’ and have to roll up my awning this afternoon.  The awning is so nice in the rain for providing dry space to put on/take off wet coats and boots without dragging a whole lot of wet stuff into the trailer. 
Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the tap of rain on my roof, the drip of rain off the awning, the gurgle of a little rivulet running along the back of my campsite, and the distant foghorn from the lighthouse – all while I’m toasty and dry inside listening to Pink Martini on my iPod.  The rain makes everything very green (and, in the case of all the moss, fuzzy).
Right before I rolled up the awning; no more vestibule for wet dog jackets.  She still has her x-pen though.

Still getting the hang of this blogging business

I drove into Long Beach to top off the gas tank on the Pilot and check on the weather forecast.  But, I neglected to bring my laptop or my cell phone extender - so I haven’t been able to test either the new cell phone antenna and range amplifier or try out the phone as a mobile hotspot from which to post blog entries – oh well.

Testing new cell phone signal extender!

No/little coverage here on the Long Beach Peninsula - so I'm testing my new Wilson Sleek signal booster. it successfully boosted 1 3G bar to 4 bars!! YAY!!
Its boosting 1G bar up too - but of course, you can't get data out of nothing  :-(
So, tales of this trip will have to wait until I get home.