July - Summer in Portland OR

Staying in a full-service RV Resort

Well, I don't have the views or the privacy one has when in the desert or the mountains, but it's convenient and kind of nice to have all the services and utilities.  I spent the month visiting family and friends, normal household chores and engaging in recreation one finds in Portland in the summer.

My site - in the shade most of the day makes it quite pleasant!

Summer Street Fairs!

While house-sitting for a friend, I was out walking and happened upon one of the many street fairs that dot neighborhoods in the summer.   Lots of good food, good merch and, surprisingly, I even met someone I knew!!

Concerts and Movies in the Park

There is a whole calendar of movies and live concerts that take place all over Portland in different parks all summer.  There's always some food or you bring your own picnic.  Sit on a blanket, enjoy summer!

Portland and nearby areas have more parks and multi-use areas than almost any other metropolitan area in the country!

I used to bicycle from my house in Portland to Camas Wa, and then bike around the lake and then home (45 miles).  But, I had never stopped across the road from LaCamas Lake to explore Round Lake. There are lots of trails and beautiful (if hilly) walks.

Just a few highlights from a relaxed and fun month.  The Pacific Northwest is incomparably beautiful in the summer!!  Even so, my thoughts are starting to turn to travel planning for when I hit the road after Labor Day . . . . 

A day or two drive from my birthplace - feels a lot like home!

Back on the road again in June!  First stop: Osoyoos, BC

I left Portland OR, in late May heading to the Nk'Mip Resort in Osoyoos, British Columbia for the the annual Escape Trailers Owner Appreciation Rally.  As usual, this was a great event - lots of time to socialize with friends (old and new), see examples of all the new trailers and how each owner has customized their trailer (I always come away with a few new ideas!).  The park was crowded and I got set up just about a foot too far away from the power bush! And it was hot enough, even in my shady spot down by the lake that I wanted that hookup!  Luckily, a couple near me in an Escape 5th Wheel had a spare 30amp extension to loan me.

That's me at the end of the path down the hill

I was in Southern California in March during  the biggest wildflower bloom in 20 years - and was just in time for the wildflowers and cactus blooming in the micro-climate around Osoyoos, BC. in late May.

Next Stop: Chilliwack, BC for some upgrades

I have a portable solar panel that I wanted to be able to use to augment my built-in panel.  So, I had Escape add a Zamp solar port on the side of the rig.  Now, if I need a little extra juice on a cloudy day, I can just plug in the extra panel - easy-peazy!

Also, had some work done on the water pump.  I discovered last October that, while using a city water hookup (even with a water pressure regulator), that water could backflow into the fresh water tank and eventually overflow!  

Finally, I had been them install a weight distribution hitch.  I had been totally against adding a big clunky extra step to my trailering experience - but after being weighed at an Escapee's Smart Weigh, I realized that towing with my SUV was going to require a WDH for safety.  I don't enjoy the extra 'stuff' but the setup does tow better.

An exceptional opportunity!

I had originally planned on spending early June camping with a friend in Glacier National Park, Montana.  But, she proposed I join her for a couple of weeks camping near Merritt BC.  I could participate in a 2 day Traditional Medicines class, camp on Reserve Land, and basically immerse my self in native culture!  WOW - sign me up!!

 The 2 day medicines class consisted of foraging for dozens of plants in the morning - with Dr Jeanne Paul explaining identification, uses, times of the year to harvest and a wealth of other information.  In the afternoon, we would process the plants to make tinctures.  After about a month, there was another 2 day class to transform the tinctures into salves, sprays and other medicines.  Clearly, this stuff works - Dr. Jeanne is in her mid-80's and going-strong.  This was truly a unique experience and I'm so glad I got to participate.

Our instructor, Dr. Jeanne Paul

My friends, Suzanne and, her Mom, Amelia

Suzanne and Amelia, with the tinctures we made

Our Camping Spot

Suz and Amelia have been camping here since Suz was a little girl.  I can barely relate to having that kind of sense-of-place.

3 of the 5 little dogs we were camping with!

Little dogs - big Eagles!

Almost every day we watched these eagles camped out on the far side of the river.  I even saw one catch a good sized fish and carry it off!  We were very watchful of the little dogs - even placing their x-pen under a big pine tree so that the eagles wouldn't have a clear flight path to the dogs

In the evenings, campfires and crafts

Suz was better with the ax than I was - and we had some epic campfires!  Good thing too - the evenings were cool. 

 Amelia brought lots of great food:  home-canned moose stew, apples, cherries, raspberry and fireweed jelly, fresh kokonee and bannock!  We ate really well.  I'm afraid my biggest contribution was Southern grits (I couldn't believe that no one there had ever tasted grits!)

On one of our food gathering days (more about this in a minute), we gathered pine needles for pine needle baskets. Amelia taught me the basics of pine needle basketry - she teaches classes!

Traditional food gathering

We went out a couple times to gather traditional foods.  We gathered Suwette (wild celery) for seasoning, and several things for tea.  We were looking for Lightening Mushrooms - but it was too late in the season - no matter, a walk in the Mountains with Amelia is like a walk in a super-market.

Me and Amelia with a big bag of tea!

The lupines were in bloom all over the hills - who cares if we found mushrooms - it was a great walk!

Cloudy, but the rain held off and isn't it a beautiful view!

Bags of Tea and Wild Celery Seasoning to take with me

Next time I'll have to stay longer!  There's huckleberry gathering later in the fall . . . 

Up the Coast to Portland–and Home

Almost 5 months since I’ve updated this blog!

Well, I guess that’s what happens when I get home – cold, rainy, and many boring chores!  But also, family and friends.  Hard to even know how to get started again – I guess a quick summary of the mostly sedentary, cold and rainy period that ended my travels (late May) until I had a month of fun in Canada in June.

A brief summary

After leaving the smog of Southern California, the trip home became very familiar and nostalgic.  Oh, and it started to rain, and rain and rain (basically, every day for 2 months).

I traded smog for rain at one of my favorite parks -  Patricks Point State Park – a beautiful park near the redwoods and right on the beach.  I remember the first time I camped here with a friend, years ago, we were confronted by two very tiny, very fierce kittens protecting some scrap of food left by the previous campers.  We immediately named them Agate and Redwood.  They disappeared into the forest and we learned that they were just two of a very healthy feral population of cats in the park.  I didn’t see them or any of their progeny on this visit.

The view from the overlook near my site - there is a path down to the beach from here

Rain dripping from the awning, puddles, lush green everywhere!

Next stop was Bandon Oregon, where I stayed at Bullards Beach State Park.  Bandon is a very cute oceanside town right next to the State Park, and the Bandon Dunes Golf Complex (home to two of the top courses in the USA and a very impressive golfing destination).  This trip I was most drawn to the sculptures dotting downtown.  Constructed entirely of garbage found on the beach, it’s a beautiful protest and comment on ecology and our throw-away culture.

When I got home to Portland, I checked into the Pheasant Ridge RV Resort, near Wilsonville OR.  It’s right on I-5, convenient to family, some of my friends and shopping.  A nice enough RV park, at least my site didn’t flood in the almost continuous rain!  What followed was mostly chores, chores, and visiting with family and friends (that part has been fun).

California Sea Lions lining the docks in Newport Oregon

These guys are really NOISY!!

Northern Oregon Gathering - Beverly Beach State Park, OR - Late April

I took a weekend off from family and business chores to camp with friends for the semi-annual NOG.  Octopus trees were created when the old growth was harvested and left tall stumps.  Young trees sprouted up from the rotting stumps, driving their roots down 4-5 feet until they disappeared into the ground.  As the old stumps decayed, the ‘octopus’ tree was left.  Still raining!

Rain = green = more rain

Octopus tree!

The Pacific - in a brief break from the rain

A week off from the rain for a family reunion in North Carolina – early May

What can I say?  Outer barrier TopSail Island in NC, a bunch of family that I haven’t seen in years, sun, WARM ocean (not at all like the icy Pacific), a cousin steeped in super Southern recipes, great sea food.  And – no rain!  In addition to all that, giant turtles were coming ashore to breed and we visited a turtle hospital.

Turtle hospital

This guy is several hundred pounds of cuteness

apparently a family favorite - I've never heard of it - but Yummy!

Back to Portland for more rain – mid-May

Oh, go for a couple hour hike in the driving rain? Sure!  Nothing like a good soaking rain to show me that my rain gear needs replacing.  Sure enough, a couple days after my wet walk through Steigerwald wildlife refuge (near Washougal  Washington), I ventured into REI and emerged with the latest technology rain jacket and considerably less cash.

Steigerwald consists of a lake, wetlands, and a lovely path along a slough that adjoins the Columbia River.

hmmm  . . .  I'm thinking that this is a Nutria  - or maybe just a 'varmint'

Almost caught up on the blog!

My annual trek to the Escape Trailer Industries Owner Appreciation rally and then camping with friends in BC took up most of June – see the next post!

My first full hook-up site in over 4 months!

11 Mar, 2017; Bakersfield CA

Fay Wray is giving no quarter today!

She starts meowing as soon as she gets into the car - and continues to alternate napping with howling every 15-20 minutes for the entire 2.5 hours that it takes to drive to my next stop, Desert Palms RV Park in Bakersfield, Ca.  It's only about 130 miles - but FW is apparently on strike.

I thought I would stay 2 days to give her a rest - but after cresting a hill and being horrified at the valley full of thick smog - I'll be moving on asap!  

All the light brown and then the dark, dark color is SMOG.  

I could hardly believe how thick a layer of smog lay over the hills and valley!  Visibility on the highway was reduced!!  Whole mountains were blocked out and it was hard sometimes to see nearby hills.  After about 30 minutes, my eyes started to sting.

When checking into the RV Park, the clerk said that this is not a temporary temperature inversion - it's this way year round.  I remember this from my last drive through Southern California but assumed that it was just a winter phenomenon like I used to experience in Denver.   YUCK!  I'm trying not to breathe very much. . . . 

The lovely sound of the microwave turning on!

The RV Park has cable TV, full hook-ups, a laundromat, swimming pool and hot tubs.  So, I can turn on the AC this afternoon, do my laundry, take a LONG hot shower using their facilities and take a swim while I'm waiting for the clothes to dry.  Such luxury!!  And then, I can watch cable TV!

There is requisite train tracks next to the RV Park.  In fact, about 30 yards from my trailer.  So far, a train has been by about every hour!!

I was hoping to drive out of all this smog Sunday . . . .

The drive today was horrific!!  My eyes sting, my throat is raw, and visibility can't be more than 1/2 mile!!  All of Congress and especially Scott Pruitt, the new head of the EPA, should be forced to spend time here!!  This smog reminds of the photos from China before the Olympics - truly awful.

While I was willing to drive until dark, FW gave it up after about 150 miles.  So, tonight I'm in the Lakes Golf and RV Resort in Chowchilla CA.  Tiny little space (but full services), and a free round of golf thrown in - that might be an attractive idea if I was willing to breathe any more of this smog than absolutely necessary.

So. Cal. - "If you're going thru Hell, Keep on Moving . . . "

11 Mar, 2017;  Barstow, CA Peggy Sue's 50's Diner

"You may get through before the Devil even knows you're there"

Since this post will mostly be a rant, I'll include some photos from alongside the road - this area is near old Highway 66 and there are remnants of 50's style roadside attractions.

I couldn't help humming this CW song as I turned North towards home - I decided to go the direct route which takes me the length of California on either I5 or Hwy 99.  Now, I've done this before (once) and swore never, ever, ever to do it again.  But, apparently, after 4 years, memory had faded and I needed a reminder.

Dinosaurs outside; animated Dinos inside

First, there's the traffic - very heavy and quite intimidating after over 4 months of secondary roads, gravel roads and very few people.  Then, there's the speed limit - everyone else can go 70-75 mph (and drive much faster than that); but trailers of all kinds are limited to 55 mph.  Which means that I'm a slow-moving irritant amidst all this heavy traffic.

You can climb stairs up to a balcony on the other side of this guy.

Then there's the cat.  FW can tolerate about 2 hours of driving.  Then she starts to meow, first quietly, then loudly.  Even though I stop every 90 min to 2 hrs and give her a 30 minute break in the trailer, she doesn't reset.  Back in the car, she takes up complaining again.  Then comes the guttural "I'm getting ready to barf" meow, and then the barfing starts.

It would be great right about then to be able to pull off at a rest area and clean up the cat, her crate, and all the barf.  But, that brings me to the third really bad thing about So.Cal. - all the rest areas are closed!!!  I haven't seen a single one that's been open.

His expressions captures the day pretty well!

Finally, I get to my first travel stop - Peggy Sue's 1950's Diner

Peggy Sue's Diner is a Harvest Host partner.  Which means that I can stay in their large gravel parking lot overnight for free.  Apparently, this is not a big deal as I can see that long-haul truckers have been doing this for years. 

The diner is full of 1950's Hollywood memorabilia and signed photos from movie stars.  There is an attached gift shop with more Route 66, Hollywood stuff, and an old-fashioned ice cream, shake and soda bar.

Out back is a picnic area - that's where I had my ice cream and watched the sunning turtles.

See the pirate hovering over the dinosaur - strange combination!

back in civilization where people torture the cactus

These were the big guys; when I looked closely along the pond edges, I saw baby turtles about the size of a deck of cards.

Going to the bathroom at Peggy Sue's will give you a start!  I so wanted to grab a guy and have him tell me if there was something similar in the men's room!

I almost turned around and checked the sign on the door!

So, the day ends on a good note

Tummy full of very yummy home-made diner food and ice cream, I watch OTA TV for a couple of hours before going to bed.  FW has settled down and stopped glaring at me.

I may even spring for diner breakfast before heading back to the highway wars.