Monday, June 08, 2015

Holiday Rambler RV USA trip 2015

Holiday Rambler RV USA trip 2015

  • After leaving ABQ NM in the spring of 2015, following the usual preparations including oil change and lubrication of the rig, (still crawling around underneath, this time with a new, black, Harbor Freight pneumatic grease gun:>), 
  • we are presently, substantially over one thousand miles from home, camped in the outlying suburbs of Chattanooga Tennessee. Holiday Traveler RV park near the Georgia state line.

  • The last week was spent traveling along amongst the thousands of other interstate trucks. Even taking a few Old RT 66 highways off the beaten path and staying at Walmarts overnight ‘camps’ for the most part. We basically ‘kept them doggies rollin’, only pausing to sleep or check out a fast food stop.

  •  Branson Missouri was a great stopover, camped at Table Rock State Reservoir RV Park along the river. A complete Branson visit with two fantastic shows on afternoons enticed us to stay two nights in this tourist mecca that really takes much longer to see in it’s entirety.

  • Visiting copilot’s long lost cuzzin in Missouri and her Blue Grass violin playin’ husband, was a fine way to restore memories. 
  • Watched a crime program that featured her kin from San Saba Texas. The extended family youngsters (nephew and grandson) snuffed out 84 year old Bonnie Harkey in 2012, to get her money.

  • All that they got was life in prison. Bonnie Harkey’s once prosperous ranch land and almond orchards adjacent to Tommy Lee Jones ranch, is now in the hands of real estate agents ……and lawyers..

  • While in this area of Georgia, not far from fun to explore Chattanooga, a brief trip to Copilot’s favorite chicken farm, a business that desperately became an importer of antique reproductions after their chickens all died, always results in a few treasures for her little mall space.

  • We now have to figure out how to duct tape two large tin chickens to the top of the car…. or coach…. for the trip home….. They are about five feet by five feet dissembled. Nothing to do with the chicken farm, just very big, beautifully colorful tin chickens. :>)
  • Lots of other small stuff, much of it cast iron that costs way too much to ship across country… or from China. We often tend to overload the coach on these trips.

  •  This is a section of tornado alley, where the tornadoes skipped over us as we hunkered down in valleys on previous trips. Maybe the iron stuff will hold us down?. Of course there are those problematic big tin chickens on the roof….

  •  Leaving Chattanooga on Sunday morning for other adventures along the return route, most likely fascinating Tannehill Iron Works State Park near Birmingham Alabama. After spending a few nights and days exploring that part of the country near Talladega Raceway, we mosy along a section of the Natchez Parkway Trail back toward Texas on our way back to New Mexico. Not sure about internet connectivity as we roam.

  •  Cooler than in past years, we need heat every morning. A problem with the hot water heater being clogged ….by something…, was resolved by a quick reverse blast directly into the tank, from the air compressor we carry for various incidents along the byways. We can once again take showers… yea!

  • Toodles ….until the next opportunity… Those big chickens !!….. Two of them…. One ended up under the bed, the other, Gorilla Taped to the top of the towed car.

  • While near Jackson Miss in the Barnett Reservoir RV park where we enjoy camping, we noted the big outdoor grills next to the RVs. Apparently the weekend Bar BQs are attended by lots of family and friends. Casual weekenders that use the RVs as lake houses, occupy much of the very popular large park.

    Lots of boats to take advantage of the large lake formed behind the dam holding back the Pearl River from flooding Pearl Miss. Fishing and recreation are very popular there. Checking out the nearby charity thrift stores and consignment shops for resalable items did not prove quite as lucrative as previous years when prosperity was flourishing.

  • Further along the way, we did pick up a number of the biggest pine cones we have ever seen, at a small National Park in Louisiana where we parked overnight. LobLolly Pines drop lots of big cones here. 
  • Interesting is the large number of very big, rust colored daddy long legs spiders hiding in them. Copilot described the little camping park near Pollock Louisiana, as ‘Pine cones and Spiders’ in her log book. We were the only overnight guests in the little Stuart Lake’s National park.

    The office rangers were excited to see that we were staying overnight. They seem bored this time of year before the busy summer crowds enjoy the little lake and it’s attractions. The little lake is periodically restocked with fish before fishing derbys and group festivities.

  • Quiet night in camp, even a distant rail way train occasionally passing in the night.
    We drove on in the morning, often paused, visited a few little places we like along this highway route, before turning for Houston and San Antonio.
Steadily returning back toward ABQ NM, while watching weather patterns that suggest storms in the future is our mission.
Note: The future that eventually brought record flooding to Texas and taking the lives of acquaintances in Wimberly Texas. 

We often stay in a big Texas State Park named Brazos Bend, near Houston. Arriving late on Friday evening with no reservations, we took the only remaining facility spot… in ‘overflow’ lot, #18 with water… and electric to run the AC.

The attractions include Alligators… among many other interesting things to explore. Families were biking and hiking this park to the max on this weekend. Bikes in limited numbers are free to use for the day. ‘Giant’ brands, with large tires are really good bikes. To be free for the use of park visitors, is very nice indeed. Texas likes it’s tourists and park aficionados.

 After taking advantage of the wheelchair compatible paved walkways, we were watching a small Coot (duck) from the dock, when a gator slid out from under the water Hyacinth mass floating on top of the water near the fishing dock. The small coot voiced it’s alarm to it’s partner and scrambled further back up onto the flowering plants covering a large part of the lake, as the always hungry gator turned closer.

Bigger Gators eat other smaller gators, thus keeping the numbers constant in this park. The big gator often shown on the internet and described from many places, is actually from this Texas State park. One park employee described smaller gators that try to leave the park. They apparently understand the rules and try to escape….. to extend their lives.

One trip previously, a very large gator was eating a smaller gator. The process takes several days.
A man among the several professional photographers gathered on the shore during that previous trip, was from Paris France and had flown in only for the event using his sophisticated live streaming ‘on line’ action.

 His telescopic camera was huge, white and looked like a National Geographic piece of equipment. We got to look through the lens… up close and personal as the big gator gradually swallowed his slightly smaller… meal.

Watching the gator under our dock on this day in the park, was a family with a little girl. She was really fascinated by the gator that kept swimming under our dock, as her father and mother held her hand… tightly.  

Copilot got several pics as the gator posed within feet close by.
This was the same lake where the gator grabbed the big fish from the man’s line last trip. Copilot got several pics of that event, as another gator chased the one with the fish.

Always something happening at the large Brazos Bend State Park near Houston. Problem was we took the wrong route, made for trucks and passed fitfully through Houston’s business industrial port area during rush hour. 

Bridges over the river, barges and ships were loading below. Not especially carefree fun with the rig towing the Honda and following GPS instructions from copilot with lane changes among drivers racing to get home fast, mixed with countless big trucks anxious to get on to their destinations.

We learn by these mistakes. When we finally no longer drive this route due to age of our bodies, we will know the best way to do it :>)

Austin Texas on route was very rainy after bit of camping at Lockhart near San Marcos, company of friends at the Saltgrass in San Marcos. Austin is always great to explore for a couple of days in spite of the horrendous traffic on narrower than they should be, highways.

We enjoy checking out the Austin City warehouse for a few items they sell from TSA confiscations. Feasting at one of Tino’s Greek cafes. Prowling the charity thrift stores for ‘antiques’ and salable discards. :>)

After driving in heavy rain, we eventually made it to the KOA  of S.A. Very marginal wifi and crowded spaces due to a filled RV park. So far we have been fortunate in finding a space for the night at state parks along this route of I-10 that we periodically take. 

Good thing as the northern route across Texas has storms this time.
A small, well made spinning wheel caught our eye in a San Antonio Goodwill on our day browsing the city. Not especially old, being in excellent working condition it was still quite an unusual find and copilot will sell it in her small space at the Antique mall.

Rain is not yet falling in the amounts anticipated over the next weeks, allowing a bit of hiking to end the day before nightfall on this Mother’s Day. All three sons called their Mom today, giving her a great smile during and after each call. :>)

The lack of internet access is a good reason to not give boring details of each part of our travels. Seems that the parks and other points that once had wifi are letting them degrade away, as most folks have smart phones. Wifi is becoming obsolete already as the times change.

This section of KOA where camped on this trip, is near the older area where the trailer park types stay year around. We have a big truck parked in front of our site and several older trailers with permanent looking sites, as for monthly rentals.

The charity thrift stores are slim pickens these days. When an economy is weak, people do not donate at the level they did when prosperity allowed them to discard high quality items and buy new on a whim. Everything, like bicycles, are rusty or very heavily used. A stark contrast to the previous trips where we often found desirable, lightly used discarded items to purchase…. and resell.

I liked the sign on the back of a high end motor coach. “Homeless and Unemployed” :>)

Fuel is rising in price and seems to be at $2.49 a gallon except for a few Pilot stations lower in price at $2.35.We stay for two more days before rolling westward after a few more stops visiting along the Texas trail.

We renewed the Texas State Park pass, so we will be returning this coming year. Temps are in the high 80s and high humidity is normal. Stops later included the small but interesting Tallavera Pottery vendors along the route between San Antonio and New Mexico.

One rooftop AC unit on the RV coach is problematic and needs adjustment of the fan squirrel cage to get it away from the housing. Always some little thing to keep me occupied while rolling along the traveling routes. Mother’s Day will be celebrated at Sea Island seafood restaurant not far away. Rain is most definitely on it’s way, according to weather reports.

Note: Fortunately we escaped the area just in time. Rain was a real threat to Texas and Oklahoma as record amounts of it fell, flooding many areas after years of drought. Alb NM, our home port is around 37 degrees these days, so we actually left warmer climate in Texas.

After topping off the fuel tank at ABQ NM Costco, adding a quart of Marvel Mystery Oil to the fuel, as have since early days of motoring, we returned the last leg to home port. After unloading the rig, the following day was spent greasing all of the 13 fittings under the chassis, replacing the oil filter and changing the oil… 7 quarts. 

At over 85,000 miles (3,800 this trip) the old rig is long in the tooth, but with steady preventative maintenance, still running like a thoroughbred. The new 100  watt solar panel and MPPT regulator performed like a silent mini generator when we were camped, boondocking away from shore power.

Enjoy traveling, touring, camping, hiking a marvelously blessed nation, ‘The United States of America, One Nation Under God’..

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Texas Hill Country by RV

10-14-14 prep Holiday Rambler for departure:
Oil and filter, I changed immediately after last trip. Grease fittings are juicy, water tank is filled, fuel filled, Marvel Mystery Oil added for 500+ miles, refrigerator is on 120 VAC shore power for pre-cool before LP system maintains while on highway. We finish load up tomorrow, for one last brief trip this year. Texas, with over 100 state parks, one of our favorite states.

Wed 10-15-14:
Final loading done, head out of ABQ 2:30pm after brief stop at Costco for minor provisions. We buy food locally as we travel, periodically dine in/carry out, sharing meals cuts cost and keeps calories down during travels. Our home is left in minimal idle mode, with caring neighbors and family to oversee. The addition of security cameras, cloud storage enabled, allows us to monitor while traveling.

This motor home lifestyle was primarily necessitated by Navigator's mobility, linked to physical sensitivities which accelerate muscle/nerve degrading over time. Travels in the past caused problems, due to hotel/motel cleaning products, odors, smokers, and steps, distance to navigate while on any daily incursions, to say nothing of periodic rest stops chemical vapors while on the highways. 

With her numerous books to read, her view of the scenery from her comfortable reclining chair, her easy access to restroom as need arises, TV programs to watch, the ability to prepare food and eat in our own dining area whenever we desire, are all satisfying.

 The fact that we can wander unhindered by limitations imposed by travel and timed reservations, all make motor coach travel to see 'Our' USA from the comfort of our own mobile environment, a blessing. When parked, she enjoys reading and observing the natural world, including park wildlife around her 'home' on wheels.

 I can leave her alone (with small bird companion) in her comfortable ambiance, while I am free to hike the trails and be assured of her safety and well being. We, as countless travelers historically, travel armed at all times against aggressive motivations. 

This chosen lifestyle, which is admittedly not for most, far outweighs the costs and associated labor involved. Navigator's expertise in financial management, assures that the bills are paid. As long as our health allows us to function safely, visit places we enjoy, as well as new adventures, this style, which is far cheaper than a care home, works best for us and apparently many others.

I-40 (Rt 66) East through Tjeras Canyon, Edgewood and Moriarty to Cline's Corners, intersection (NM 285 under reconstruction) where a turn south heads to little Encino, now a veritable ghost town. Vaughn to the east, not much better economically, with 487 residents, 86% Hispanic, where we turn south across the high prairie toward Roswell NM, home of N.M. Military Academy. 

Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway is building an extensive 9.3 mile, new parallel rail line through this area, to alleviate the single line bottleneck. Only 25 miles of single line remain on the BNSF transcon rail from LA to Chicago. A 70 million dollar project, to be completed in 2015. On our periodic trips, we often note several long trains waiting for the lines to clear along this section.

Wind is off our starboard stern, so fuel reserves are a go, for a 600 mile voyage if required. Roswell begins to 'green up' 8 miles north, where irrigation from the aquifer enables hay production for the horse farms ('Mine That Bird' was Roswell's Kentucky Derby fame) A 200 mile day and a 'camp' in the Sam's Club parking lot near Walmart, is welcome after this busy day. 

10-16 Thursday:
Pecan trees in their well manicured farms, line the highway as we head for the high limestone caprock uplift on the eastern horizon. The slow climb up out of the green irrigation, onto the high arid land to Tatum, where steel silhouettes seem to keep the local shops busy. Texas border, at one house Bronco, is only a line across the pavement.

On approach to Plains Texas and more steel silhouettes, the cotton business, Beef and the oil pump jacks are busy. Prosperity of working the natural resources, keeps Plains Texas growing enough to add a substantial piece of new construction to the local High School. 'Dairy Queens' are the favorite gathering places across all of rural Texas and Plains is no exception. Near the High School gives it an additional advantage.

The same formula for steady employment, keeps being visible through Brownfield where we make a jog in the highway toward La Mesa then turn toward Big Spring. Cotton, Cotton and more Cotton. Short cotton and of course Tall cotton. 

All are labor intensive cash crops, requiring expensive equipment, keeping dealers, gins and their personnel busy. Most farms are in process of prepping for a great harvest, which will be evident on our return. Irrigation is the key element, along with cooperation from the weather. Crop dusters are often visible flying, climbing out in big figure eights and coming in low over these large fields.

On approach to Big Spring Texas, cotton diminishes into the mesquite and cactus that describes west Texas. Stopping for lunch, 'carry out' from one of the many food establishments, marks our brief rest stop in Big Spring. 

We have been caught by fierce wind storms and spent major time hunkered down in the Walmart lot, with numerous highway trucks as company on occasion. Amarillo to the north, also has been our periodic refuge from seasonal winds.

South of town, on the high  mesas, the large, beautiful white wind turbines by the hundreds, Panther Creek Wind Farm, spin lazily on the horizon. With the fact that it takes five turbines to produce enough energy to create one wind turbine, (efficiency 20%) they  are going to be turning for years. The countries that build and export them to the USA are very happy with the arrrangement.

It would take one turbine many years, far exceeding it's life expectancy, just to replenish the energy consumed in it's production. The 'law of diminishing returns' fails to impress those well meaning people that have been convinced that they actually 'produce' energy. The contrary is true, but folks are being made wealthy and feel proud in the process. Reportedly, 135,000 homes are now powered by this array of over 300 turbines, one of the ten largest in the USA.

San Angelo is on the schedule for the end of this 300 mile+ travel day. Take Knickerbocker a few miles west, to the 'radar golf ball' of the airport. Turn north on Fisherman rd and follow the pavement to the park entrance. Lots of Deer. Once through the entrance past the gate house, turn left, rather than to the Spring Creek RV Marina.

 The city system manages this beautiful park, off Lake Nasworthy. Before the problematic threat of bankrupting legalities shut it down, this family oriented park even offered boat rentals from the marina near the little store.

 It is our target 'camp' for the evening. Deer and wild Turkeys, along with Squirrels antics, keep Nav's camera busy. 'Black' and 'Turkey' vultures circle the last thermals of the afternoon, in a group of over 100, as they head for their evening roost.

Across the channel from where we always park, Horses, Llamas, a Donkey, Sheep, goats (they climb trees) and for some period a beautiful White Peacock entertained us during past years.

Sam's Club refuel for $3.84, was .60 higher than ABQ. Apparently they have not gotten the word that fuel is falling in price. 62 gallons to cover over 520 miles, two days in our rig, was not all that bad...considering.

A few local charity thrift stores to browse, then begin our drive south toward I-10, 'Junction' of 'Birder's delight at the state park on the migratory flyway, as we passed through this trip. Texas has so many birds passing through on their way from South America to the northern part of the continent, it garners attention for the shear Numbers. 

I-10 at Junction, near South Llano River State Park, where we sometimes camp to enjoy the migratory birds. Turn east toward San Antonio and begin several climbs over the fascinating broken terrain that encompasses several altitude checks, reminiscent of the western Range and Basin states of last trip. 

Building rail systems such as was accomplished by Jay Gould, across these limestone uplifts and deep canyons, took the engineers of the 19th century, some indulgence. Modern highways are great, in comparison to the earlier paths that were basically only paved trails in early times of the automobile. We bypassed Fredricksburg Texas this trip. Having spent several days/nights, over the past years, prowling this charming Germanic themed town, we opted out this time.

Kerville Texas:
Wendy's chicken and brief tour around town, reveals a great little city to camp for the night. Shriener City Park, was formerly a CCC constructed state park. We made a turn by GPS which led us on a circuitous route, before finding our camp across the river from the hospital and treesy site for the evening. Squirrels are the camp routine, due to the Pecan trees that form a canopy over our roof. Dropped Pecans were a steady rhythm of the busy Squirrels. 

I climbed onto the roof with a broom before leaving, to check if the slide outs would come back in without Pecans jamming the roller mechanism. An evening bike ride along the river and talk with campers, passed some time before darkness and a welcome bed. Nightfall brought relief from nearby traffic sounds. Pecans fell as a light rain kept the trees dropping their fall crop as we slept. 

Morning departure from Kerville, along with a local charity thrift store where treasures were found, set us up for travel on to San Antonio. Great highways across Texas. The only problem was on approach to San Antonio. ...
 Afternoon 1.5 hour slow-mo traffic jam, where only five miles was affected, as highway crews attempt to modernize an overpass.  Directing fast, heavy interstate, combined with local traffic, one at a time to the exit, stop and re-enter ramp, did not go well. Heavily traveled I-10 no less, on western approach to SA, definetly was a problem.

Thousands of SUVs, pickups, cars and 18 wheelers, countless were going off-road in desperation, spinning tires throwing dirt, down through the bar ditches to get around the mismanaged, unplanned mess.

10-18 San Antonio evening:
Arrival to our favorite Alamo KOA, just off I-10, with lots of upgrades in past years. WIFI slow due to a full park, but works enough to record our travels, contact family and friends. 

Travelers (def not the oldies like us) do their business inventory and watch live action interactive horror vids from the comfort of their RV's. The practice sucks bandwidth, so other people can not look at emails, without long delays.. 

This older established RV park has been undergoing many improvements, new paving, new swimming pool, being noticeable. As nomadic travelers, we drop in without reservation. The very helpful, extremely friendly office staff, always find a site to our liking. Fresh Pizza made to order, is offered as an added convenience and welcome attraction.

We go 'out and about' tomorrow. Fish and Chips at 'Sea Island', within the outlet malls between SA and Austin. We love Fish and Chips. Not common in NM. :>)

 My tall young attractive friend Ashley, in the Alamo KOA office, informed me of the fate of the Egyptian Geese we recalled from our last spring trip. She is always very informative, especially while preparing aromatic fresh, Hunt Bros pizzas to order. Tempted to partake of the excellent looking pizza before the office closed, I had to pass on the, late in the evening offer, as it probably would have kept me awake.

According to Ashley, the exotic geese were adopted out, on Craig's List, due to some finicky residents not enjoying their company. Ashley told of working around secluded cabin four, when one of the larger resident ducks (Muscovy) took surprise notice of her intruding on it's chosen habitat.

The little family of Egyptian Geese, who normally mate for life, was also broken by a larger male goose that drove off the smaller male that had fathered the babies. Ashley said it then was also mean to the babies. A story of life? 

We decided it was 'Drama of the Geese'. Ashley informed that they were all escapees, along with other exotic wildlife from the nearby Red Berry (a colorful Texas legislator, gambler, murderer) estate, after the city took control. Apparently the Famous Mansion and it's private lake were no longer paradise under govt management. The geese were only seeking a better life and found temporary utopia in the secluded KOA pond.

Highways are All under construction (Anyone want to be an Engineer?), widening with sweeping multi-tiered modern overpasses, as San Antonio grows north, east and west in seemingly erratic wide circles. The long corridor between AUSTIN Texas and SAN ANTONIO is almost all filled in now and expanding in width, as each Texas intercity connected highway property is becoming more populated.

A long, ever widening span of business growth (No state income tax in Texas) that is causing a building boom like none other in the nation.
Twelve years ago there were all cows and ranch land along these highways.

 San Antonio Texas 10-19
Had our fish and chips (with Oysters and Shrimp), did some shoe shopping at Forum Mall DSW. Both of us found some new shoes... sale priced. Do you have DSW? Great deals on shoes. Style is everything in the designer world, latest styles cause last years, seasons to be sold cheap.
New shopping centers and outlets are all in suburbs of San Antonio, Austin.
'Tex' our NetJet pilot Friend that lives in HOU, said that Austin has high taxes. New businesses locate outside the city, which suits the control libs fine. They don't like development, unless it suits their 'boutique' lifestyle, doesn't interfere with their personal ambiance.

San Antonio welcomes new development, but their city taxes are still higher than surrounding communities. Expansion continues. New highways deal with it.

Weather is great. Temps in 80's. Humidity not too high. Mild breeze. Somewhat of a drought cycle is in effect. The floods of 1998 devastated large sections and following floods have had their effect, placing this KOA in an official flood plain. Noting the high bridges (rail and traffic) over the creek, shows the high water possibilities.

Wild Ducks that we enjoy and photograph in this campground, are not as plentiful as former times. The creek is low and their KOA pond (flood basin) behind the office, is getting pitiful during this cyclical drought period. Salado (Salad) Creek, along side the, over four mile 'Greenway' trail, is flowing, but slowly. The site of two battles with Mexico 'after' Texas was declared a Republic, it is kept flowing by recycled city water.

Rode my bike each afternoon, exploring in both directions, the nicely maintained, over 4 mile long city trail, that runs through the KOA RV Park. Alligator Gar, huge fish which have been seen in this Salado Creek, lay low under deep mud during dry spells, must be really low. They can grow to over eight feet long and weigh over 300 pounds. They also can live to over 95 years.

Caught only turtles last time I fished the stream on a previous trip. They are long necked soft shell water turtles with flippers more than feet. Not the hard shell desert tortoise that we have in our yard, these can stretch back and bite your hand. 

Tomorrow is in another direction to hunt additional charity thrift stores for unique items. Leaving on Tuesday. Not completely sure which direction, just a pair of drifters until reserve funds run low, then dash for home :>)

10-21-14 Tuesday:
Leave San Antonio and continue en route to Lockhart Texas.

 20 miles south of Austin, our secret Lockhart State Park for two nights, was built by the CCC, to keep unemployed young males busy, providing them with a paycheck to send home, training them for a trade and to follow orders in a nice military fashion, which came in handy for WWII. A perfectly timed event, that finally broke the govt mandated 'Chicken in every pot' (but nothing else) Great Depression of the 1930's.  

Many of the original stone and concrete installations are still in use today at the numerous CCC and Corps of Engineers facilities across the USA. Dams along this stream, form small ponds behind them, to allow stocking of Perch and Catfish. Free fishing without a license is offered at all Texas State Parks. If staying for several days a year, it pays to buy the annual Texas state park pass that waves vehicle entrance fees as well as offers several free camping nights. This family/group friendly facility also has a big swimming pool in season.

The golf course of 9 holes has it's first tee set for a hundred yard shot downhill through a 30 yard wide opening in trees lining the little stream. Many countless hundreds of balls yearly, shot by the brave and confidant, fall short, hook or slice and are lost in the trees and stream ponds. Periodic spring flooding piles them up behind the dams, to be scooped out with the mud by backhoes... by the thousands.
Cleaned balls, collected by staff on the course, are sold $1 for three at the office.

 I hike out the course after it has quieted down for the evening. Deer family  herds enjoy browsing the nice meadow fairways after the golfers leave for the day. Our camp site is on the edge of the course which brags of having the 'highest altitude hole' in Texas. Squirrels feeding on acorns from different types of Oak trees, 'Live Oak' and those that have the Oak Leaf of tradition, have differing sizes of acorns and leaves of varying shape. 
'Live' Oak , an Evergreen that stays alive during winter, can also look stone cold dead, during consecutive drought years and then come back vibrant alive, after a bit of rainfall. All hours, random pops of acorns falling on our roof, lets us know we are camping beneath an oak tree. Last night a roaming skunk was startled by Nav as she slammed the coach door for the night. We were treated to the 'surprise' spray for a portion of the evening. :>)

On our way into Austin Texas,

 we drove along side the controversial, but beautiful International Tollway, built on officially 'condemned' land, to last 100 years, by a Spanish consortium of changing international interests. Part of NAFTA, it runs from the Mexican border to Canada when completed. Many duty free 'ports' are designed into the very wide and high speed (85mph), Internationally owned tollway, cutting America in half after it is complete.
We prowled our favorites in Austin, such as the TSA resale store inside the Austin City, State warehouse, housing the Railway Commission. As usual they had the various confiscated 'weapons' such as pictures of toy guns and toy soldiers with ''guns', belts and accessories including clothing depicting weaponry. Old 'Cowboy 'stuff' with pics of guns? Fugedaboutit, they are instantly confiscated.. We found nice airline booster seats for the grand kids. Apparently people leave them after one flight.

The seats we have been using are pink, naturally detested by the grandsons, in spite of mandatory PC training of total diversity acceptance in the elementary schools. 

In the warehouse section with loads of other govt discards, a sleek modern power stapler loaded with the wrong stapes by the affirmative action bureaucracy, then discarded by the affirmative action bureaucracy when it jammed, was purchased single digit cheap, though the intricately engineered repetitive labor saver cost the tax Payers days pay.

Industrial grade fire extinguishers from govt buildings are routinely discarded by the thousands as their 6 yr 'time in service' date is reached. Though in beautiful condition and checked monthly on contract recorded visits, they are discarded en-masse by the pallet load. We bought two for $10. Govt contracts are lucrative indeed.

 We always enjoy the TSA items, they always give us moments to wonder why the item, innocent in formerly sane times, was deemed 'dangerous' to the people of today. What in the world has happened to our country? One day the govt will catch on and destroy all confiscated items as dangerous evidence, as the public awareness and curiosity increases.

 Left Lockhart State Park,

 for transit through Austin Texas and fuel at Sam's Club for $2.61. After maneuvering the rig around miles of wrong turns due to Sam's old location permanently programmed into the 'new' Garmin GPS (we are rebels, we don't own 'smart' handhelds), Navigator eventually found the newest location off of Slaughter Lane by asking a passerby. Not that we care, but Slaughter Lane? Really? Must have a story.

Two Sam's hotdogs with sauerkraut and sodas, at $3 made up for the wasted fuel. More driving, with miles rolling on the unmanned, intensely camera recorded tollway. A modern state of the art transportation system that fails to charge out of state motorists, due to the complexity of computer programs able to account for every one of the thousands of different license plates across the USA, being unavailable... at the present. An intricately programmed US International license plate in 'your' future? We relished the nice International highway miles to reach Burnett Texas and on to our favorite Texas State Park campground.

 Ink's Lake State Park.
 Nav called ahead as we were driving, and arranged one night loosely confirmed, firmed on arrival. Pedaled the bike around some of the park (it's big and covered with intertwining miles of trails) and visited the little store where canoes, kayaks and colorfully decorated pedal boats are rented. Ducks and Canadian Geese are in abundance on our lakeside site this evening. Nav sometimes enjoys casting out a line and sitting on the coach steps to watch her bobber.

Many Canadian's (Geese and people) enjoy weather in Texas year around. From what Canadians have informed me, the total costs of heating/maintaining a home in winter wonderland Canada are saved and pay for their mild sunny winters in coastal Texas. 

Coots (black ducks more like water chickens with white beaks) were in migration on one past trip. Ever present vultures (Blacks as well as Turkey vultures) circle everywhere over Texas. 

 Tomorrow I must go to the office before 8 am and be first in line to get on a list for the 9 am drawing (I must be there) for another site. Cancellations of reservations (common due to the practice of  online 'booking'?) are the only way to sporadically get a weekend site at this popular campground on the waters of a beautiful fishing reservoir.

Ink's Lake is on a chain of lakes behind dams constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers to control flooding across Texas. In this case, many small towns and San Antonio, which historically flooded away before (hated by environmentalists) dams. Often we are forced to stay at somewhat nearby, Black Rock Park. Colorado River Authority (Buchanon Dam, during high water years generates hydro-electricity, also hated by environmentalists) controls Black Rock RV camp on Lake Buchanon above Ink's Lake. 

One fellow Ink's Lake shore camper, lives on the drought depleted, mostly dry shoreline of the Buchanon reservoir. Tax of $800? per frontage foot, does not care that the water during drought is hundreds of yards away. 

One upscale home that sold during high water years for over $1.5 million, is now listed for a small fraction of that figure. It has over 800 feet of what was once 'shoreline'.

Black Rock is a nice RV park and tent/cabin campground on a tree covered hill, but not as beautiful as tree covered, Deer friendly Ink's Lake and it's regulated water level. Buchanon is the main feeder dam and it's lake levels are volatile and erratic to say the least. I have hiked nearly all of the way across the dry bottom of Buchanon Reservoir in drought times. Belatedly begun in 1931, by mass electrification, energy industrialist Samuel Insull, it is intertwined in my family history.

Ink's Lake 10-24:
Today Ink's Lake State Park renewed our RV site stay for the next two nights. Took about 1/2 hr. Strange that the sites they said were All reserved, magically open after no occupiers show. Dog in the manger? Remember us being taught that rule as little kids?

Drove into Burnett today and browsed antique shops. What is plentiful in Texas,  is more rare in NM. We found a few interesting items such as antique tools.
A starter pistol, rarely seen today in the 'gun free' environment of competitive events. Deer antlers 'drops' that are often found by hunters in singles rather than matched sets suitable for display. My intent is to cut them into 'scales', handles for knives.
Nav also found a big, precision wood boring auger used during the 1800's. Not common in NM, where most everything involved crudely fabricated tools, due to the transportation costs involved during those times.

Lunch Cod shared at a little local 'Crazy Gals' cafe was lunch. A burger later, shared at our campsite. Chris Landing at Ink's Lake State Park makes good burgers at the campground commons. He apparently also does the big telescope 'Star Parties' when the night sky cooperates.

Ink's Lake State Park 10-25:

Camp Kids :>)
Fun watching the kids around these campgrounds. As the evening approaches, fewer of them are playing ball, chasing around the campsite, fishing, swimming, riding pedal boats and riding bikes around the extensive park. They enjoy the attentive time with parents. While camping away from life's routine, attention is not diverted by the official business and rules of daily life.

Mothers and dads join into the games of whatevers, playing as the goalies or cheering bystanders. It mattered not that the moms and dads were not fully active, though some were. What did matter is the kids finally had their parent's full focus.

One little girl about 6 years old, was in a rental canoe as her parents brought it to their campsite shore. They pulled it into the reeds, leaving it unattended and walking up slope to their tents, while they attended to other camp chores of their large gathering.

The little girl came back alone to the canoe and wading alongside, began carefully arranging it out a distance away from the reeds. The water is shallow in this little inlet where we are camped, so she was able to wade around while dragging the large craft behind her.

I watched as she tried several times to climb aboard. Each time the canoe floated out away from her while she had one foot still in the water. Finally her dad noticed what she was trying to accomplish, paddle the large canoe out to open water by herself. He trotted down and brought the canoe back to shore, as the little girl told him she was just innocently gathering a few things from inside the canoe.

Nav noted that memories were being constructed inside the little kids lifetime storage, as they were camping away from home, in far different, exciting surroundings, with much more freedom to seek out adventure. 

Ducks in this small lake inlet outside our coach door, have discovered that I toss bits of tortilla on occasion. The little brown females come up to me and take bites from my hand held tortilla. Colorful males (Mallards) are a bit more twitchy and stand back quacking for a bite.

Cautious Canadian Geese stand way back and wait for tossed bits the ducks miss. Noted that ducks can tell the difference between young boys and girls. They stay way back from the young boys. They know full well what danger lurks in the minds and actions of young males. 

Kids are everywhere today. Laughing and having fun around the water. The weekends at this popular park are really crowded. Tent groups are large encampments of their own, with one end of the long park packed like a continuous village through the trees. Smokey fires insure that we seal up and run the air conditioning and ionizers to keep the air breathable for Nav and her sensitive respiratory system.

 Afternoon, I rode my bike to the pier, where many kids and their parents were trying to fish for the mysterious creatures lurking below the surface. One young man with a little boy, a darkly tanned man in his later 20's, that appeared as though he had been stationed in the middle east recently, asked what I was trying for. 

I replied honestly, 'I don't know'. He smiled, nodded and said 'Fish' in agreement.  After casting the $2 lure hundreds of times out from the pier, my line invisible in the dark, eventually became ensnared in the treble hook, unable to clear in the darkness. My casting for whatever was ended. One saving grace, I was able to retrieve my shiny new $2 lure.

 As the dark of night enveloped the campground, the fishing pier became silent. I was alone with the bugs flitting around the timer controlled lights.
The lights and small campfires around the park kept up the camp ambiance for hours, as the campers enjoyed their night under the stars.

We were in bed listening to the surrounding sounds of the laughing children in their camps. Quieter and quieter the sounds diminished and lights began going out, as the campers tucked into their sleeping bags for the night. Finally silence and darkness, belying the fact that this fascinating place was occupied by thousands of people, a virtual city among the trees.
Ink's Lake 10-26 Sunday morning:  

There are quite a few folks leaving camp for church.
We pack up Sunday 10-26:
 Head for San Angelo (fuel for $2.65). We will only stop at Roswell NM for the last night camp at Sam's Club, not fuel this trip at their higher prices (Nav checked 'Gas Buddy'). ABQ NM is $2.65, at 520 miles, we will make it.

We have been getting close to 600 miles each tank this trip. Nice weather, no major wind. Wireless is good at this site with Nav's new antenna she ordered from ebay before we left home. Plugs into her laptop and boosts the reception/transmission.... a lot.

After leaving our favorite campsites at Ink's Lake, we drove across vast miles of Texas ranch land, where exotic game animals are frequently preserved, raised and bred, onward toward San Angelo Texas, where we refuel for the trip home. Cotton is visible all along the highway until the New Mexico state line, where it forgets how to grow. Great year for Cotton. Great year for Oil, Great year for crops (hay and Milo this year, this area) and herds of beef. All in all,  great years for Texas and it's ever expanding development. 

We 'camp' in the large San Angelo city park. After hours.... and Sunday, leaves no attendant at the gate. No one other than a flock of wild Turkeys that had Nav and her camera busy (they disappear into the mesquite like illusory magicians), and no one else camping in the park. No one except us. Two men were packing up to leave their weekend tent site near our favorite site alongside the Spring Creek channel. Now it is all ours.

We always enjoy this quiet site, as it has several forms of wildlife that like this remote area near the back gate. This time, as mentioned earlier, the magnificent Caracara (Mexican Eagle) 

was swooping into a tall tree across the channel. Nav took pics, but too far away to identify. We set up a spotting telescope and at least got to watch the big black and white bird for a while. 

Lockhart State Park Texas, we also see the opportunistic big birds on occasion. Besides seeking fish discards along the gulf, where we often watch them, the resourceful Caracara walks around pastures and catches mice and grasshoppers, along with it's fare of whatever else is convenient to eat.

The other side of this Lake Nasworthy channel is private property and has always had unique animals and birds. One time a rare white Peacock with the huge tail fan spread. Another time, a donkey and horses with Llamas add to the intrigue. Always ducks and geese. This time a lonesome black Coot paddled around until dark. The Coot was there in the morning as well. The first time we camped here, feral hogs were roaming the area. No more hogs, but Squirrels, Turkeys and Deer are still plentiful.

Always the big Vultures of both types, 'Black and Turkey' circle on thermals, sometimes by the hundreds. They are expanding their range across the USA. One can smell anything dead for many miles, the other can see everything for miles. The bigger Caracara takes advantage of both birds abilities and circles with them, riding the thermals until the Vultures locate something tasty. The Caracara then swoops in and takes over, not allowing the Vultures to eat until the Caracara is finished.

Silent evenings are common in this large city park. Stopped in nearby Goodwill upon leaving and found a basically beautiful, but dirty, neglected Schwinn bicycle... with flat tires. After cleanup, tuneup and adjusting shift mechanism, Slime and air in the tires, it, like the last Schwinn sold before we left on our trip, should sell to a happy rider on Craig's List.

Left ever expanding San Angelo, after fuel fill for $2.65 per gal Sam's Club. Drove northwest in direction of Roswell NM for the long leg of our journey home. Over 300 miles on this day, with some wind against us. Cotton, Cotton, Cotton is growing and now being harvested, all of the way on both sides of the road, interspersed with pumping jacks slurping out crude for the Texas gulf refineries.

Pipelines underground carry a great portion of the oil from the countless thousands of jacks to the refineries. Relatively few trucks or tank RR cars are involved across the high production areas. Drilling, maintenance servicing is in progress everywhere, due to the new methods of extraction giving new life to the old oil basins. RV parks filled with late model rigs are home to the shift crews, the hard working, well paid rig hands that frequently move from location to location with their busy companies.

Beef graze, and hay fields fill in the spaces where mesquite and cactus has been cleared. New businesses and accompanying home developments are spreading everywhere. Gotta love Texas, nothing wasted, everything works, including the innovative people. No state income taxes work marvels for development. Texans learned long ago that being 'taxed into prosperity' is a proven loosing game fallacy.

Nav wanted a Cotton plant or two, but the trucks were everywhere with people that could take issue with me pulling up a cotton plant :>) It is illegal to pick flowers along side the highways in Texas, the Bluebonnet State where the state flower grows in abundance at a certain time of year.

With Big Spring Texas and the huge white wind turbines that add/subtract (they can't 'start' themselves without electrical power after wind stops, so they motor idle during light winds) energy to/from the grid. Nav complains about the horizon to horizon turbines blocking the view as she takes pictures. Being a tech guy all of my life, I still admire the technology and the gutsy skill required to install and keep them operating.

Not withstanding that it takes the energy production of Five turbines to supply enough energy to manufacture One wind turbine every twenty years, they are pretty interesting. Some politically connected people are earning big bucks off of these 'imported' (USA, with it's prohibitive wage and environmentally restrictive plans, does not even manufacture them) marvels that drastically increase the costs of energy.

Roswell in our 200 mile day sights, Texas and it's cotton soon gave way to NM and it's open range land. Nav said 'Look' and pointed out a big animal. It had long black horns, large and dark, with white. She had seen a 'Trophy' Antlope. The world record Trophy antelope was recently taken in New Mexico.

 Ibex (Long curved horns) and Oryx (Long straight horns) are now breeding (since 1970's), becoming relatively more common in the southern part of NM, due to their introduction from Africa. The big wild animals, the offspring of those introduced into the USA, roam ever more northward as conditions support them and poachers do not shoot them. Hunting permits in N.M. control the numbers of animals, as they have few natural predators.

 Roswell sits in the lower elevation southern portion of the state, where the porous limestone aquifer perpetually fed from Canada, supplies the water for irrigation. Horses are business in Roswell. Derby contenders and winners (Mine that Bird) seem to periodically originate from this area. Hay is the big business near mild climate, retiree friendly Roswell NM. Descending from the eastern high mesa caprock, down the long slope to town, is always pleasant and scenic.

As the Sam's Club 'camp' approached, we noted few campers this evening. I hiked over to Walmart to purchase a roasted chicken for supper. After the fine dining in our coach, I hiked  back again to Walmart, to walk off the days driving. Bedding down is noisey at first, but Sam's quiets down after closing time. Fuel was high this time, so we passed. ABQ has the best price.... if we can make it.

Leaving Roswell Tuesday 10-27 :

This moisture laden year promotes green grass across the range land. Lots of cattle, but no antelope visible (except for wife's 'Trophy') for some reason. Usually we see Antelope by the hundreds.

Vaughn, 100 miles north of Roswell, a one time vibrant, crew change RR station from the steam train days of limited travel options, into the days of caboose and unionized heavily crewed trains, is gradually decaying, it's old restaurants, stores, a long gone car dealership with service facilities and motels closing, due to modern efficient BNSF freight management and faster travel, with passenger trains a bygone era. 

Vaughn, population now 437, where I often stayed overnight while traveling on my former job circuit, eventually (after this short term prosperity) will be literally gone from the maps, except for the intersect highways and a small dot depicting motel, diner and a truck stop fuel station.

 A Chief of Police that was barely over 21 and had been a felon that could not legally possess a fire arm nor a badge, garnered attention last year. His white police cruiser now sits near the highway, locked behind a fence at the city yards, a forlorn reminder of the 'pellet gun' carrying 'Chief' of past 'news' fame. Maybe he now is the Mayor?

In contrast, as mentioned near the start of our trip, the BNSF railroad section at a cost of $70 million, is building more track, lots of it. Apparently the container traffic from the west coast gets bottle necked on five sections totaling 25 miles, including these plains near Vaughn. Crews are laying new roadbed and track for 9.3 miles alongside the BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe) that hauls containers 24-7 from China, to a 'buyer hungry' nation of the east coast and middle USA.

Empty containers are easy to haul back westward, the return with fewer engines. The east bound trains (consists) can have multiple engines pulling and even more 'pushing' the heavy loads of hundreds of  'well cars' that containers sit in, and are double stacked. With long curves and few grades, the trains are very long day and night. Today there was one train sidelined, idling near Vaughn while waiting for a clear line, loaded with approximately 400 containers.

Often we see five or more long trains in transit at one time across this vast, horizon to horizon range land. That can equate to thousands of containers passing within a two hour period. That is only one BNSF line across the southern USA. 

Count the other lines over a 24 hour period and you can estimate the volume of goods being sold around the clock to buyers in the USA. With empty containers returning to China, it bodes not well for the future generation who must somehow pay the overseas debt. Oil exports, food and grain are the debt 'paying' exception. Pray that they continue, unhindered by self serving politics. 

Little Encino is another intersection, a lost village from the past. Most is gone now, with little remaining of the former service and tourist stop along the desolate highway when vehicles were less reliable and slower. Remnants of the decayed motels, restaurants and service stations are gradually dissolving into the earth.

From Roswell over 170 miles to the south, we approach busy I-40 (Rt 66) at touristy 'Clines Corners', where a new NM 285 intersection overpass is being constructed. Highway Engineers are in demand across the USA everywhere we travel. Know anyone looking for a great future?
The familiar silhouette of the Sandia Mountains frames the western horizon. A long, down grade of  I-40 toward Moriarty, Edgewood, then up over Sedillo Hill and downgrade through the Tjeras Canyon, we race alongside the highway trucks to ABQ. Our destination to fill the tank last time this season, with $2.65 fuel at Costco.

Over 500 miles from San Angelo Texas and still had several gallons in the tank. Good mileage for a loaded coach :>)

Home driveway, after an additional 7 miles and unload our treasures and necessities. Drain all water plumbing for the long months of winter storage. Tomorrow will finish with a blowing out of the water lines with compressed air, winterize with automotive ethylene glycol anti-freeze in traps and over the drain valves, to protect against sticking, freezing and oxidation.

Change oil and filter in preparation for our next season, just to be sure of a fresh start after this 1,800+ mile jaunt. It takes about two days driving, just to leave the state of NM ...... and get to somewhere else. Then it takes another two days just to get back home. :>)

'Albuquerque Brake and Alignment', Pete had an opening for appointment to rotate tires, remove the broken 'Steer Safe' assy and balance the front wheels. They aligned the front end steering last year and the coach has driven beautifully ever since. Now it is ready for the spring travels.

Marvel Mystery oil will keep the fuel in the tank in condition for easy start in the spring. Generator, change oil and filter should be done as well. Gen shares the Marvel Mystery Oil from the fuel tank mixture. 

Work is cut out for my grease gun and creeper :>)  Wash and wax (Nano Wax by Eagle One) on the front lawn as the days roll by, then maneuver the coach into back yard for the winter.... under protective cover this time, as we become winter frugal mini consumers and save funds for our 2015 trips.

Enjoy a vibrant life, travel with Freedom as a US Citizen in the greatest nation ever known, The United States of America. One Nation Under God.

DO NOT Ever let Anyone 'CHANGE' it! Vote like Your Life depends on does.




Friday, October 03, 2014

RV Holiday Rambler to Pacific Northwest September 2nd 2014

With over 70,000 miles on the now vintage 2004 Holiday Rambler motor coach, it has grown 'long in the tooth'. Repairing and re-enforcing the two battery isolation switches, after one separated under internal spring pressure, was only one matter of which to attend after storage from last trip through the southern states.

The puzzling loss of battery voltage at the switch, led to the cost saving method of drilling and installing 4-40 nuts and extended bolts, rather than the four screws into the grey plastic base section. These battery isolation switches cost between $50 and $100 each, so time and ingenuity is preferable in our situation.

Upon entry into the stored coach, I discovered that during storage, one motorized sun visor had dropped loose on one end. A piece of nylon strapping found all over lumber stores, fixed the problem. Due to the linear engineering nature of strapping tape, the holes must be melted and enlarged for the screws that hold the strap loops up to the structure above the dashboard. These visors are long, heavy motor powered devises. I took the added precaution of re-enforcing both ends of both visors, using the strap tape.

The 60 gallon fresh water tank had been filled previous to warm weather storage... just in case. Now the reservoir must be treated with Chlorine bleach. I add one cup for the 60 gallons. we never drink the water from the taps. It is only for washing and bathing, so the mild temporary Chlorine odor from the initial water supply does not bother us. A pressure test follows with a test of the water heating systems. We have both AC and Propane heat. Testing of the furnace powered by Propane, as well as the refrigeration unit for food and the two roof AC's, ensures a comfortable trip.

The coach, house battery bank of  four, six volt golf cart batteries now six years old, require periodic addition of distilled water, as they are left on a  large 'float' maintenance charger, designed to fluctuate the storage voltage for longevity. We do not use the Xantrax converter/inverter as a power for battery storage unit. Not only is it hard on the batteries, it degrades the expensive Xantrax unit that provides power to the coach for battery charging and inverting for AC to watch TV.

The chassis battery (starts the motor and provides engine electrical, driving lights, etc) has it's own dedicated charger I added to 'float' the maintenance voltage. Both charger/maintainers were a worthwhile investment, as the batteries are lasting well. This time the addition of a half gallon of distilled water was required for the four batteries. A round mirror fitted with a support wire, enables me to view the water level in each cell as I add the water from a large squeeze bottle and tubing. A device that I fabricated.

Tires are another concern. Most tire failures are due to low air pressure overheating the tires. Causes are numerous and often traced to the extensions installed to make it easier to access the Schraeder valve. One such incident was from a service facility not tightening the extension onto the valve. At first I suspected a puncture. Further investigation and re-tightening the extensions, repaired the air loss problem. Do Not trust service facilities completely, they are humans and make errors.

We carry our own small Craftsman oil type piston compressor, capable of 110 # of air, with 50' of hose and two separate gauges to verify inflation. 110# is the requirement for these 22.5" tires. Air compressors were commonly available at all service and fuel facilities... no longer. While traveling and stopped for brief periods and before rolling each day, I take a minute to 'whack' the dual tires with an aluminum bat to check for the 'ring' of fully inflated tires. duals are deceiving, one can temporarily support the load while the other disintegrates from the heat of under inflation, thus destroying the other. After storage from last spring trip, all Michlen tires were near 110# and little additional air pressure was required.

Noted the gradual leakage from a holding tank knife valve had accumulated in clear section above secondary knife valve that we added as redundancy. The small amount of leakage ceases as we travel and systematically use the valves. City water pressure applied, to test faucets and toilet valve.

Added one cup of Clorox to fresh water tank of 60 gallons and ran more fresh water in to mix. We only use supply for washing and flushing, we don't drink water from holding tank, use only bottled water from Dollar Tree $1 a gallon and refill our sturdy personal bottles. When on city water and separate filter faucet is clear, we sometimes use that water for consumption in cooking or drinking..... if good tasting.

Tested the propane water heater system and the refrigerator on propane. Started and ran for 20 minutes, the generator and the chassis engine. tested the Xantrax inverter to 120 volts. Before stored, a qt of difficult to find due to environmentalists, Marvel Mystery Oil was added to 75 gal fuel tank on last fill before driving 6 miles as generator was operated, so everything started up easily. Fuel pumps last longer if fuel has a bit of lube. Upper cylinder and fuel injectors also respond well, if slightly lubed. I add a qt of Mystery Oil to a full tank of fuel when refueling.

Wet basement has a remote holding systems monitor that was not functioning. Removed the little panel and discovered a loose, red 12 volt wire from test switch, due to wrong connector. Repaired the connector with proper sized spade and all LED's lit up.

On our way to Pacific Northwest:
Left Albuquerque New Mexico at 2:20pm on way to Farmington NM, our first night camp in the Sam's Club parking lot. Fuel price increased overnight by .05 to $3.45 per gallon. Quiet night and leave Farmington west through Shiprock NM and turn North toward Cortez Colorado. Fascinating driving along and looking at the beautiful desert the Navajos call home. Colorado gives way to irrigation from McPhee reservoir and the fields planted with crops, including corn and hay, are doing excellent.

Utah begins in the southeast from the Four Corners, where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico state lines converge with it's modest rock formations and builds in crescendo past Monticello, as the uplifts of 'Range and Basin' become ever more apparent. Moab Utah. This small adventure tourism town that specializes in 4x4 rentals and tours, begins the real exposure of drastic and rapid 'Climate Change' over the millennia. Dozens of vertical multi-colored layer cakes of strata, forms a great background to the scenic horizons. The vertical uplifts of earth's layers and deep slot canyons are a wonder to behold for everyone that see's this magnificent geology.

Moab is just the beginning. Arches National Park is a side trip not to be missed. Golden Age Pass is available at the entrance for those that qualify. The paved highway tour is well worth any amount and time. The earth torturing Range and Basin effect is described, with a view of the separated rift feature easily seen from the top of the first cliff overlook, thousands of feet higher than the valley canyon.

Following northward, the scenery just keeps inspiring. Green River Utah State Park is our destination for overnight camp. Do not confuse with the Green River Campground Dinosaur monument National Park. Although on the other side of the river and bearing a similar name and looking fascinating, it is hundreds of driving miles in distance. Tourists, especially those meeting family, learn the hard way.

Green River itself is always brown from the continual erosion of sediment from the sandstone upstream, is known for irrigation growing local watermelons around Green River the town. I assembled my bike and rode to the nearby store for a melon and a six pack of beer. Heavy distraction on a bike..

9-4-14 leave Green River Utah:
After breakfast and refill fresh water, dumping the holding tanks, we headed North toward Salt Lake City. No loaded freight trains were plodding up the Price Canyon when we passed through on this trip. Economies are often judged by freight movement. The historic little town of Helper is named for it's extra locomotives and crews that assist the long heavy 'consists' of freight cars over and down from Soldier Summit.

On approach to Salt Lake City, a difference is noted. The area is growing, 2nd fastest in the nation. One of the prime drivers is the Tech Demand. Utah is leading the nation's rate of growth, 7 times the average. From the first southernmost vestiges of the dynamic valley, to the current last northern developments, we logged easily over 100 miles. Spanish Fork was not an especially busy town three years ago. Now, as the unhindered economic snake of progress and building links the valley together, it hosts yet another Costco...... and it's better fuel prices.

We failed to count the numerous Costco's along this 120 mile and growing, corridor of powerful economic development, as it continually extends, now over a million population with 17% added since 2000. We stay periodically at the Willard Bay RV park next to the south marina. The water level enclosed within the earthen dam is about 18 feet lower than three years ago. Smaller boats can still launch. Entrance fee, just to look around, is ten dollars if caught by an enthused camp host or ranger. The docks and launch ramp are presently laying flat on dirt. Last trip, large boats were at the docks.

Willard Bay is the fresh water for irrigating the valley. It is divided from the Great Salt Lake by a causeway about 20 miles long. Wiper, a delicious laboratory fish of 2 crossbred Bass, is sterile, really fights on the sports line. Several other species of fish are stocked, even thriving during this drought cycle, when cyclic mountain snowfall has not produced the run-off of years past.

Smith and Edwards is a great store nearby. One that offers vast omni browsing for whatever one might need, specializing in, but not limited to sporting goods for the adventuresome outdoors oriented. Leaving after our 'spree' of browsing and purchasing a few items from this always interesting mega store, that includes surplus equipment and a large hardware dept, we motor on north.

Idaho Falls Idaho:
 It's Snake River 'falls' are interesting, photogenic and have a story about the historic services to cross the river during the gold rush days,extending into the Copper rush that built the infrastructure of electrical power lines and copper wiring for the USA.

The days of prosperity due to mining, are waning across many areas today. Blame restrictions, regulations and govt 'control' for the environmentalists planned demise of scarring the earth practices. Environmentalists seemingly forget the amazing nation, the USA built by the practices they today despise. The city park is busy with farmers markets on Saturdays. We parked overnight at the Sam's Club, after fueling for $3.50 a gallon and nearby propane fill, to last our trip.

46 years ago Navigator and I were married, so we celebrated our anniversary with a shared delicious house sirloin steak at Applebee's. We walked around Sam's, looking at jewelry as if we were buying Nav a well deserved  anniversary gift, before leaving their parking lot RV 'camp'.

Butte Montana:
Our next days target, is another western state route of desolation that unnerves many tourists. The lack of trucks is noted on this trip. Steep hills and low gears are common. Butte was the site of the deep mines of Copper ore, later the open pits, so despised by environmentalists. They seemingly have no understanding of developing a nation through the industrial age and it's needs, which includes electrical energy transmitted and controlled through 'Copper'.

Clark, a name seen often through this area, is notable as one of the 'Copper Kings' who gained immense political power, even became a US Senator for one term. Anaconda Copper survives to this day within other international companies, primarily in other countries more favorable to mining. Clark's only surviving (one died of meningitis) daughter, Hugette Clark died at 104 in 2011, leaving a few mansions that were seldom occupied, though meticulously maintained. She lived out her later years back east, in seclusion and secrecy, while her legal 'handlers' prospered from her father's wealth. The 'Clark' name is on regional rivers and many landmarks today.

Walmart 'camp' is across the street from the cemetery where famous motorcycle daredevil showman 'Evel Knevel' is buried. Last trip, I paid my respects, as a former motor cycle rider naturally would.

Missoula Montana:
Our next goal for the day's driving. Costco fuel and lunch of polish dog and pizza, were the target. After fill of fuel and drive for evening camp.

 'Sloway' National Campground, for $5 with no hook-ups. Nice little campground and quiet, except for an occasional Union Pacific freight, hauling 100 car 'consists' including periodic Boeing airliner fuselages along the Clark Fork River. Rode the bike around the quiet little camp, as I visited with a few campers. Steel boxes placed separate for food storage, keep the tent camper's food away from their tents. ....Bears...

Each night's temperature is ten degrees lower, as we drive further north. Last night at Butte was 35 degrees. Fall is approaching the northern states.
9-7-14 passing freight of 111 'well' cars moving containers west (empty?) noted at 3pm while in Sloway campground. Another passed at 4:15 pm with 96 cars loaded hopper cars with three engines pull, one pusher. Another freight at midnight.

White packets of pheromone chemistry, MCH organic, to fool the Beatles infesting the pine trees. Most trees had at least one packet, tacked about 6' high. 41 degrees morning as Missoula is lower than Butte Montana. Costco was very crowded and fuel $3.53. Cheaper than three years ago.

9-18-14 left Sloway National Park Campground:
Westward on I-90 over Lookout Summit, after leaving the Clark Fork River Valley of Montana. Roadside point of interest, informed of the 1910 forest fire that consumed over 3,000,000 acres of forest. 3 Million acres is a big fire. 30 years worth of USA's annual vehicular CO2, all produced in one big blaze.

Kellogg Fire 1910
Famous firefighter, saved his firefighters (85 others perished) by leading them into a mine shaft until the conflagration had subsided. After a beautiful scenic drive through this forested mountain area, we stopped at Kellogg Idaho for lunch just off highway. Also, as Navigator had noted 3 years ago, they have city provided RV holding tank dump station, with fresh water fill. Leave donation to keep it operating. Very nice.

9-8-14 Kellogg to Coeur d'Alene Idaho:
Pleasant drive with increasing traffic on approach to this tourism destination. The beautiful lake in the mountains attracts people from around the world. We passed through on our way toward Spokane Washington, where we turned north toward  Wenatche Washington, near the Columbia River Valley irrigation that produces a major portion of the nation's fruit.

The vast fields of wheat seen from horizon to horizon on last trip, irrigated by the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River, were already harvested on this trip, weeks later in the year. No great fields of waving grain, they had already been harvested. Only horizon to horizon tilled soil ready for the winter crops. We then changed our plan.

Detouring away from the eventual pass through the Wenatchee Valley Columbia Riverside forests of Apple and other fruits, turned south on Hwy 17 for overnight in Sun Lake Washington State Park. Surprised at price of $42 on dirt and gravel, albeit with hook-ups under trees. The lake is close and popular with swimming visitors and camps of recreational groups. Rode the bike around the area to ascertain it's main reason for visitors... the lake.... provided by the Columbia River water.

A Deer family were puzzled by me on a bike. Casually looking around, not noticing the Deer, until I was within their group, they allowed me to ride in among them before wandering away. Handlebars appear as antlers?

9-9-14 Moses Lake Washington, destination south:
After change in plans considering the $55 ferry transport to Whidbey Island and the ensuing traffic around the cities, in contrast the drive along the river lakes fed by the Columbia River, was different and interesting. Foam along the shore of the lake was apparently natural. Moses Lake Washington, with one of the largest air facilities in the USA initiated by WWII bomber training, even currently used by Boeing for tests, was at one time included in a plan for a spaceport that never occurred. Long runway, over 13,000' and lots of infrastructure in anticipation. Prolific irrigation from Grand Coulee Dam, now provides for a lot of agriculture. This entire area of the northwest, formerly arid desert, is dependent on the magnificent Columbia River and it's several great dams for irrigation and prosperity.

Kennewick Washington... fuel at Costco:
$3.64 on the Washington side of the Columbia. The Dalles is on the south side, along our new route plan. Rail freight is prolific along the Columbia River, both sides have several long trains with seven engines pulling and more pushing, several in view at a time. Natural Geology is magnificent along the river. We never fail to be amazed by the views ever changing as we travel the big river. Volcanic lava formed the entire Pacific West Coast. The remains of the ancient violence are fertile and breathtaking.

Memaloose State Park:
A nice camping park along the river, was noted by Nav from former trips. Trees and more trees is the Western Oregon state, as approach to the Pacific is made. Memaloose begins the tree concept in the Columbia River valley. Tourist friendly 'Ranger Talks' describing the Columbia River Gorge and history, are seasonal. Bike ride around the hilly park was exercise before bed. $28 and far more pleasant than previous night's camp in $42 Sun Lake RV park in Washington State, other side of the Columbia River.

Memaloose was an Indian name referring to the nearby burial site of the dead, on an island now in the river after damming. The Columbia River valley is sustainable economically, only because of damming. There are those extremely vocal and political people that want the dams, all dams removed from the USA. They apparently care not, in actuality hold contempt for the prosperity and sustenance of US civilization.

Portland Oregon 9-10-14:
Check out Multnomah Falls:
Our goal after Memaloose camp.
Navigator noted a truck bypass. Do Not take the truck route. You will get a long extended tour of Portland's port and transportation facility. It is huge and traffic of trucks keep you busy avoiding them. Portland is just that, a large port for international shipping. Always thriving, it is a city to avoid in a large motor coach. We were warned about camping in Walmart. Two security guards that warned us, are required to protect the store after closing ... early. Highway 30 west of Portland is nice, a pleasant drive, even with occasional log trucks, but do not do the truck routes.

Astoria Oregon:
To cross over the wonderful Astoria-Meglar Bridge, is a real adventure always enjoyed, especially when lashed by storms. The wide Columbia River flows under the 6.5 mile long (including end approaches) bridge, with it's elevated section for big ships to pass beneath in the 44' to 55' deep channel. Three US Coastguard ships are stationed here.

Do not miss the Maritime Museum in Astoria. It is constantly growing with excellent world class exhibits, including historic boats from the US Coastguard, a Pilot transport boat over 90' long, Lighthouse ship and others.

Chinook and Ilwaco Washington:
We enjoy the river drive through Chinook and Ilwaco. The narrow twisty road on entrance to Cape Disappointment State Park. is fascinating with brief glimpses of the water through the trees. $54 for two nights only, was the availability for this well designed, multi spoke wheel concept, popular RV and camping park on the shore of the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

Winter storms change the shoreline from year to year, with large logs tossed randomly among the dunes and trees. Ft Canby with it's restored facilities including a rifled, swivel disappearing cannon from 1904 accessible today, is the fort's name after change in the first part of the 1900's. The RV campground itself was changed back to Cape Disappointment, a term from the first failed attempt at exploration by ship.

"O the Joy" were the Lewis and Clark party words documented on presumably seeing the vast "Ocian' from the first view of open water of the estuary, still 20 miles from the real lookout point above Cape Disappointment within the current State Park.

8 am waiting in line, was our only way to obtain an extension with a site move. We took another two nights so that we could tour the Washington Long Beach Peninsula. Always interesting to visit the little settlements along the highway north. Fireworks displays are said to be immense during the 4th of July on the long beach. The recent building boom has even caused the newer houses to be more densely constructed within their various enclaves. Several newer enclaves are wisely positioned inland and on elevated parcels of land above the shoreline... Tsunamis..

One structure on the northern peninsula shoreline, a curiosity that really attracted Navigator and her camera, caused us to drive the firm beach sand, (28 miles long, 2nd longest in the world), in our Honda-Jeep. The 'water tower' of legal description, more suspiciously resembles a lighthouse. Owned by a wealthy Salt Lake businessman, it is a piece of his shoreline empire that encloses the national park end of the peninsula ???

'Jack's Country Store' is more like a large frontier trading post. Every conceivable item is sold at Jacks. If a local resident, no need to ever go to a city for supplies. Jacks has everything. They quickly fill orders from online query's or phone calls.

Our ocean front site, back in the camping RV park, is only a few steps from the black sand beach. The 'Wagon Wheel' repeated design allows many people to camp near the shoreline and listen to the waves roar. The roar of the ocean always lulls us to sleep. Totally fascinating for us as desert dwellers, we were spell bound on the first visit. In spite of our several trips, this beach never looses it's allure.

Navigator noted only 10.5 VDC on our house batteries. Usually they read 12.8 VDC while no load. I dragged out the meters and read each 6 volt battery separately under load and determined that two paralleled batteries were indeed lower than 6 volts due to parasitic drag by one to the other. By reconfiguring the cables and using the stronger two batteries in series, I was able to restore over 12 VDC temporarily.

A trip to Astoria/Warrenton Oregon for four Golf Cart battery replacements at $320 with no tax, followed the local Seaside battery shop's price of $200 more than Costco. Would have been charitable to support local Washington Peninsula business, but we left that to the wealthy philanthropists camping on the peninsula. Big guy at Costco lifted out the old set and installed the new set of four Interstate batteries into place. I did the cable connections to my cabling drawing. The old set was six years old, cost $200 when Sam's Club  ABQ installed them. Note the inflation? Self controlling Maintenance charger during storage and periodic addition of distilled water, kept the longevity longer than average.

After the restoration of voltage, Navigator and I ate lunch in Costco $3.51. No sales Tax in Oregon, so the necessities are somewhat cheaper. While in Warrenton Oregon, Goodwill Charity nearby had a few small 'treasures'. Ft Stevens State Park, our next camp, is first come first serve. We drove back to Cape Disappointment to our campsite.

Nav and I trekked the nearby path of pod #2, to the black sand beach for a last view of the ocean and the lighthouse of North Head. Just a few years ago she could walk the beach and enjoyed it dearly. No longer able. The Chinese lifeboat that we monitored for many years as storms relocated it each winter, is reduced to random shreds of orange fiberglass rubble and the little rusted lump of diesel engine is presently sitting upright in the sand near the pod #2 pathway. Time changes everything. Rode the bike around the extensive popular campsites before nightfall.

Lined up, first in line early at office for our next site in the front grassy park with no hook-ups. Still quiet and nice on grass. Paved entrance road continues up the hill to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and the US Coast Guard Station, as well as the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. We were able to obtain the wifi code from 'Serious Pizza store, across the way, near the entrance. Nice owner with wife works hard to run the little store they refurbished and make great pizzas. Years ago he had the little shack near the lecture site of Waikiki Beach, near the entrance curve to the camping pods. The storm ravaged little beach was named after a ship's sailing crew member from Hawaii, years ago.

Battery voltage dropping again. Nav alerted me to low readings on little Walmart digital meter that we keep plugged into lighter socket while dry camping. I had failed to fully tighten the nuts on the cables. After minor adjustment, the voltage held high throughout the entire trip.

Drove into nearby harbor village of Ilwaco for excellent fish and chips, lunch at 'Ole Bobs' on the harbor. Fishing has been excellent this year, allowing creativity in selection. We had fish and chips (fries). Saturday, so the little harbor-side trade booths were set up. Lots of crafts, art, specialty foods and other trinkets are interesting. 'Harbor Lights' motel and cafe is for sale now, as is seen more and more as we travel. A formerly thriving business is now closing it's extensive nautical gift shop as well. Signs of the 'change' the voters brought upon themselves?
Returned to Cape Disappointment for one last quiet night before moving south across the Columbia River. The only disappointment is that our ocean side time is limited.

Broke camp and dumped our tanks at the RV dump site back in the park. Nav watched as a class C rental unit, driven by an impatient young man, filled the fresh water tank of his unit,.... using the sewerage brown tank flush out hose at the dump station... Yuk. She mentioned that she would not like to be the next renter of that unit. Oh well, with age comes wisdom...sometimes.

Drove our rig one last time south across the beautiful Astoria-Meglar bridge to Astoria. It is under continual restoration, so a slight delay. Ft Stevens near Warrenton opens early, so we wanted to get a site of preference, or at least close. They are all nice sites, albeit smaller and tighter than Cape Disappointment State Park back on the north shore. Still nicely positioned on circular loop paved roads embraced by big trees. Ft Stevens itself is fascinating to explore in All of it's many emplacements.

Several  driving and walking tours around the various and extensive, historical concrete structures, that at times over the years, guarded the Columbia River on both sides including river front, from attack until 1947 when they were decommissioned, proves very educational each visit. The Pacific Northwest was well guarded, even lightly attacked a couple of times during WWII.

Highly technical, the revolutionary for their time, massive swiveling articulated 'hiding' rifled cannons, were controlled by DC electric motors (thick, high amperage cables still hang from the ceilings in concrete cannon chambers) and triangulation co-ordinates, electrically transmitted by written character recognition technology, similar to the president's electronic pen today. This is all especially remarkable, seeing as it was in use over 100 years ago, installed in years following the Civil War of the USA. War drives technology is fact.

Now begins our trip south on hwy 101 along  The OregonCoast:
Ft Stevens, Warrenton Oregon 9-14-14:
Two nights in coastal forest a distance from the beach, for $54 with basic electrical hook-ups, was very pleasant in spite of being more densely configured, in comparison to several other random places we have visited over the years. Summer season has scheduled Ranger Talks, especially on weekends. 'Graveyard of the Pacific' describes the hundreds of shipwrecks around the mouth of the Columbia River. Thousands if including the surrounding area. Coast Guards from around the world come to the Columbia River to train at the periodically, violent currents area of the offshore 'Bar', where the out flowing, river meets incoming tide during the winter storms.

Warrenton Oregon was 'Abacore Tuna and fries' in a tavern not far from the park entrance, along with a bit of treasure hunting in charity thrift shops. Returned to coach, rode the bike around the entire park and an evening of logging our trip and reading before a quiet night.

Breakfast, with electric heater to take the night chill off the coach interior, after which we explored the South Jetty. Still in awe of the Jetties of the Columbia River. These massive rock structures were constructed during the 1800's, using railroad cars to haul the 30 ton 'Armor stones' out over the ocean, to be dumped in place, preventing the ocean from changing the channel current while enabling the river to flush the deep water passages for maritime navigation by huge freighters.

 Rebuilt many years ago, leaving the trestles in place visible today across 'Trestle Bay', they are scheduled for future restoration as planned with funding set aside in 2005. The 40 ton volcanic basalt Armor Stones originally came from Idaho by barge, before being loaded aboard specially constructed, dumping rail cars pulled and pushed by small steam locomotives, as the trestles and rails were continually extended miles out into the ocean. Men of steel, with nerves to match? Even rescuing shipwreck victims..

Peter Iredale:
The 1906 shipwreck's prow is still visible, extending up from the sandy beach. An Iron hulled sailing ship, it ran aground over 100 years ago. Storms this last winter exposed the long buried keel temporarily. The iron plates were savaged from the hull many long years ago. The bowsprit was cut away for safety. The rudder is exhibited in the Astoria maritime museum. Climbed the observation deck while Navigator waited, taking pictures from the Honda-Jeep.
Drove out to the riverside beach and watched a large ocean freighter leave Young's Bay for the river mouth.

Noted Driver's License had expired and drove to Astoria to find out if we could contact New Mexico DMV for extension? Not possible. Easier to acquire an Oregon DL for 9 years, than NM 1 year from out of state. I just drove very carefully rest of trip, not desiring police attention.

Thrift store treasures such as old fishing reels hunted, then return to Ft Stevens and chilly coach, requiring the electric heater again.

9-16-14: through 9-19:
 Left Ft Stevens State Park and drove the interesting coastal 101 south, bypassing Seaside, Cannon Beach and other tourist busy towns. The highway elevated often on volcanic rock bluffs far above the beach, has turnouts to view the ocean. Manzinita is one of the beautiful beach areas seen from the 101 highway.
Kelly's Brighton Marina, along the tourism oriented historic railway leading from Garibaldi Oregon (tall historic smokestack from old mill) to Wheeler. (Note the Oregon coastal map on this 'Wheeler' website).

We love the ambiance of this little privately owned fishing and crabbing harbor. Kelly and his wife run it now. His mom owns the next fishing harbor south, so they have the experience required to manage the busy little marina, provide crabs, boats and gear for fishing for whatever is in season (closed during winter). Kelly boiled a large Dungeness Crab ($23) for Nav and I to share for supper in the coach. I hiked the railway and picked about 5 pounds of wild blackberries as the sun set. Only one night stay, after a bit of exploring back up the coast in the Honda as far as quaint little Wheeler Oregon where we have found treasures in the past, we left Kelly's reluctantly the next day.

Tillamook River RV Park:
Base for two nights as we explore the capes, Tillamook and points further back north. Noted that prices are rising as rapidly inflation affected Obama Dollars (Carter economics) do not go very far. Even thrift stores are feeling the rising costs, as their expenses are rising faster than their sales, they are being forced to re-invent themselves into boutiques, how this will play out financially is anyone's guess..

Last time we stayed in this little park with dikes holding the tidal river back, a big Blue Heron electrocuted itself on the power transformer. It sounded like an explosion and knocked out power for the afternoon. Eagles have nested and raised their young in the trees nearby. Nehalem recycle center 'Re-Store' has organized and raised prices. Interesting discards, but no longer attractive for our needs. 'Terrible Tilly' the name acquired by the notorious Tillamook Lighthouse, attests to the violent storms that periodically play with the volcanic lava Oregon Coast.

9-19-14 leave Tillamook River RV camp:
Proceed south on 101, past Oceanside, Netarts, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, working toward
Newport Harbor Marina:
70 miles south on 101 is always beautiful to drive. Each curve presents a panorama of coastal ocean scenery all of the way south to the great coastal sand dunes. The artistic Newport bridge is always a fascination to see after an absence. Found my old 'Popeye' the sailor man. Keith and I discussed the marina as if we had never changed subjects over the years. He is aging as I am. His Samoan wife is still working for the marina, as is Keith. They live aboard their comfortable sailing boat, as they have since arrival, sailing from the Philippines many years ago when we first met. Keith also owns a beautifully restored lifeboat that is moored next to his sailing cruiser.

We discussed the numerous boats that are being neglected during these economically weak times. 'Silent Running', a beautiful sailing cruiser that was meticulously maintained three years ago, is now falling into the status of neglect. Walking the docks for many years, I recognize many of the same boats at dock. Not a good economy time for recreational sailing.

Commercial and sport fishing are doing extremely well. The effect of the China Industrial Revolution is feeding nutrients to the Arctic Ocean and the source of molecular life. Those cells in turn feed the chain of marine life upward. Fishing is great. I observed a man wheeling a load of sleek Tuna to the cleaning table, then for sale to the restaurant business. He had returned from the 35 mile horizon, where the big fish lurk. Environmentalists refer to the airborne iron compounds released from China, as 'pollution' and desire it being 'controlled', their only response to everything they do not fully comprehend.

Sea Lions are still barking across the harbor. They survive and multiply, protected by law on the harbor jetty and the docks. One grabbed a little girl from dock, as her dad unloaded their sport fishing boat. After taken down, the Sea Lion released her to survive. The harbor front shops are interesting and Mo's is still thriving with waiting lines for their Clam Chowder and fish dinners.

9-20 to 922:
Trip back north to Lincoln City in the Honda Tow, where we prowl around a few favorite places and have Fish lunch. Another trip back upstream along the navigable river to the logging town of Toledo Oregon, named by the son of an early businessman. The sun missed Toledo Ohio. Structures of pilings from long ago, all along the river, harks back to the days of Yaquina River steamboats.

 Following the Yaquina River upstream nine miles from Newport to Toledo, a small (population 3,600) relatively deep navigable water port town of historic note as a lumber logging mecca in the days before the world's 'do gooder' tree lovers. Toledo was at one time, lasting almost a hundred years, thriving and logs were floating 24-7 in hundreds of 'rafts' downriver from the surrounding mountains of the Cascades, to the rail terminals and barges.

Feeding the lumber demand of a building nation, was Toledo's role, 'back in the day' ending in the 1960's. The Yaquina River is still structured with the vertical pilings that tied off the log rafts awaiting transport and the countless docks and piers serving the needs of the accompanying Toledo boat building industry. A profitable business that also thrived from the spruce production. Fishing, the west coast's bread and butter, drove the boat demands.

 WWI aircraft were also built from spruce processed in Toledo Oregon. 'Spruce Goose' as well? Toledo hosts a 'Wooden Boat' gathering each year. The excellent little museum featuring equipment dating back to early logging, has multitudes of pictures of life in Toledo from the early days.

Toledo was one of many great little business opportunity cities that were scattered across the USA. All that is near dead now, except for a processing mill that seems to generate sawdust slurry for particle board, more than logs for lumber. The little tourism oriented 'Art' colony now depends on tourists to buy 'stuff' for it's existence. A town that is reminiscent of a 1950's town, is pleasant to experience.

The mountains surrounding Toledo are now becoming overgrown with timber, getting prepared for massive forest fires whenever drought cycles? 'Save the Trees' is in reality setting them up for total destruction and waste, while adding mega tons of CO2 to the atmosphere. Sometimes universities and their misguided special interest groups, create the problems they then fight by passing counterproductive laws, while they wring  their hands attempting to solve the problems they create?

Navigator discovered a few unique items in one little museum like shop, the home to a nice cat with blue eyes. The shop owner, retired Marine was happy to sell his first items in the last three days. One item was a little old paddle with wooden chickens that pecked the seeds when the paddle was gently swung in a circle. Is that different or not ? :>)

Toledo is near the beginning of the longest highway across America, a multi-state linked system ending near Boston. Highway 20 is the western end of that historic road from east to west. Two lanes of mostly blacktop, it winds over 300 miles through the Cascade Mountains and crosses the Oregon desert into Idaho.

We are checking this desolate route, little used but scenic over the mountains, as an alternative route bypassing smoky (logging prohibited) and therefore burning, northern California. Being a narrow, twisty two lane, hwy 20 is not motor coach friendly. Neither is coastal highway 101 in some areas, but that is our chosen scenic route along the pacific coast of Oregon.

Today we ate burgers for lunch, passing up the fish and chips temporarily. :>) Tomorrow we plan to head south for further adventures, leaving our beloved historic 'Conde McCullough' master engineered bridge of Newport and checking out the beautiful Pacific coast of Oregon.

9-22-14 Salmon Harbor, Winchester Bay:
The drive south was Oregon coastline fine and filled with photo opportunities. Re-Fuel at Florence Oregon, the beginning of the north end of the Oregon National Sand Dunes Recreation area (really Big dunes with forests growing all over them) that extend visibly along the highway for over 20 miles. As the dunes grow, by wind that increasingly blows sand inland, the pine trees and other species take root and climb ever higher, some over 500'. Small fresh water lakes and lagoons are spread throughout the dunes inland.

This area encourages ATV and motorcycles, rather than discriminate against the riders. Winchester Bay facilities nearby offers rentals for those that do not bring their own 'Off Highway Vehicles'. No telling if the environmentalists will force legislation to end this sport, thereby eliminating the livelihood of the numerous campgrounds and motels, restaurants and little stores catering to the excited tourists that arrive from all over the nation. Fishing attracts even more goal oriented visitors.

The beautiful Umpqua lighthouse, inland from the ocean, with it's majestic Fresnel lens, still operates. Restored for the benefit of tourism, now managed by Douglas County, it is a short distance from the harbor. A small supportive gift shop is located in the museum, a former US Coast Guard residence. Modern navigation has little need for such historic methods. Since 2012, the US Coast Guard no longer maintains the restored Historic Umpqua River lighthouse and facilities. Some absolute fool in a drug induced or drunken stupor, shot at the historic First Order Fresnel lens and damaged it several years ago.

I watched as the 'Pearl J' offloaded it's fish from it's hold packed in ice. The lift operator places the container where the forklift places it on the scale. The operator then collects the data onto his smart device for recording. Only a small note pad backs up the reading. A boat from 'Deadliest Catch', Grizzly, a deep water fishing boat, is also docked here when not in Alaska. Did not see 'Ocian' this trip. With the fishing so good along the Pacific Coast, the big boats can earn easier profit out of Winchester Bay?

Rates, $30 for two nights, for overnight on the huge parking lot with no facilities, are double what they were three years ago. Another sign of the decreasing value of Obama dollars. $10 to dump and a limit of only 20 customers per day, set the stage for our departure early.
A 'Wolf Creek' brand camper in front of us, has a hybrid Wolf for a pet.

Drove north back to Reedsport for treasure hunting in small shops and a delicious take-out Blackberry pie from the bakery in the old part of town near the river, while partaking of their wifi.

Returned to Winchester Bay:
 Brought a 'Fish and Chips' from the floating Cafe 'Ungar's Bay Fish and Chips' owned by Cassie, who now also operates the Blue Heron tavern in Coos Bay.We took the excellent dinner to the coach for our evening meal. The ducks still are hanging out near the little floating cafe.

Talking to a true sailing aficionado at the dock late in the afternoon, was a very interesting four hour marathon of exchange between our cultures, history and political differences of opinion. He has ridden a bicycle from British Columbia to Saskatchewan in the past. A liberal Canadian pensioner, employed by govt all of his life, we had our differences. He has sailed to Mexico and Hawaii and returned to British Columbia, his home port as a 'live aboard'. This cruise is to San Francisco and across the Pacific Ocean on the 'trade winds' documented by Murray' after the WWII years.

One hundred years of sailing knowledge accumulated from hundreds of sea going ocean captains, Murray compiled the first sailing charts necessary for the success of every sailing vessel today.

Kevin brought out his charts, showed me the intricacies of the winds and ocean currents during our discussions. Described in detail his 40 foot fiberglass double ender vessel with it's Yanmar auxiliary diesel engine. Built in Indonesia, purchased in an estate sale in British Columbia where it harbors near Victoria. The full height cabin ceiling is inlaid strips of fine teak, as is the fit and finish of the cabinetry.

Kevin designed and installed a heat transfer system to bring the propane heated air inside the cabin, lower to the floor where the chill settles. It is his compact, efficient home afloat. Rare is the privilege to meet an intelligent person like Kevin, rarer still to be invited aboard. Weather is about as expected this time of year on the Oregon coast. 59 degrees and cloudy days, cooled and rained all night.

The boats that are neglected in this wet harbor, show it fast with green growing 'fur' over all of the decks and lines. Birds and their excrement add to the accumulation of neglect, creating questionably, a work of art? Kevin noted his own active vessel accumulating a bit of 'furry' growth on it's surfaces as he awaits in harbor, the favorable north winds to drive his 40' sailing craft further south, then turn west to Hawaii and then, Kevin mentioned as if a common natural occurrence, circumnavigate the world.. 

The woman owner of the 'Staten Yacht' a Pirate ship facsimile, is living aboard temporarily and restoring it for sale after her husband passed away. The mast had to be cut away to save the structure after rot. Deck house must be replaced and numerous items need attention.Hull is fiberglass and has just been restored in dry dock. It is for sale as an interesting boat ...suitable for a movie?

Navigator and I drove back to Reedsport in the tow, 3 miles back north. A crippled tourist town dependent on tourism and fishing,  several of the formerly prosperous, small tourist malls (small buildings with several vendors) were now closed. A couple businesses remain that we recognized from past trips.A few eating establishments such as McDonald's.

Now we are headed to Coo's Bay and plan to camp in the casino lot free for two nights before deciding what direction to proceed. Home is one option, due to my expired driver's license not renewable on line, crossing into regulatory obsessed California, especially with our two little travelers (turtle and bird) is now extremely risky. Cassie now also operates 'The Blue Heron' in Coos Bay. Unger's Bay Fish and Chips has been her specialty for many years. It still is a fine dining on the water, floating cafe, so I am sure the Blue Heron, with it's German menu, is excellent as well..

9-24-14 Coos Bay Oregon:
It took a short amount of time to drive the rig the scenic 25 or so miles south from Winchester Bay, to the harbor town of Coos Bay. The first item of interest is another impressive coastal Oregon bridge. A large bow tie shaped green array of steel girders set in place among concrete ramp structures many years ago, it does form a high clearance for shipping, a majestic scene over the harbor entrance of North Bend.

The harbor itself is an abstract horseshoe of large proportion, that wraps around and forms the front street of the city facing inland away from the ocean. At one time the city was right on the harbor docks, but a massive fire removed the city location, to a few blocks away from the harbor waterfront and brought about the new city, wisely built of bricks rather than volatile wooden frame structures.

The main reason for the city's early existence, was the harbor and connected waterways to enable trade goods from San Francisco to arrive by way of ship. Coal and timber were Coos Bay products. The overland routes from the interior of Oregon were long and twisty mountain trails for wagons and horses.

Timber was and still is the main ingredient in the city's economics. The individual mills at one time numbered in the hundreds of small enterprises. The railroads were of course drawn like a magnet and further changed Coos Bay's economy into a politically powerful economic demographic.

With the acquisitions by the politically powerful Timber Barons, two main mills today survived the uncertainties of economic times and gradually acquired the small units. Simpson family was one noted in history. One beautiful estate overlooking the wave ravaged entrance to the stormy harbor, was burned to the ground during misfortunes of the once powerful Simpson family. A ship wreck on the rocks below the high bluff, provided the lumber to rebuild the large home, site to several lavish parties for the elite. The creative and expansive garden structure survives today as an Oregon state park, open to visitors.... for a fee.

Today we drove out past the early port town of Charleston, where we had fish and chips at a small family owned facility near their small popular harbor, to the Simpson Point. An artist's dream, where the river bar meets the tides in a jumble of large volcanic rocks littered with seals, seal lions and every other related sea going mammal. Did you know that the 'Elephant' Sea Lion (with it's big floppy nose) can dive to over 4,000 feet deep? It weighs up to 5,000 pounds... wet.

The average Sea Lion can weigh up to only 2,000 pounds. A virtual lightweight in comparison. The diminutive common Seal is a furry toy. They all congregate at one time or another on these inhospitable rocks lashed with ferocious wave action. We watched a few surfers brave the rocky vertical shoreline to impress themselves with their skill at surviving the surf, which today was running high, before it crashed onto subsurface, ancient volcanic flow rocks. Craft punishing waves approaching 19 feet, were reported on the 'bar', that often violent section where outgoing river meets incoming ocean tidal cycles.

Navigator and I tour this area each time we pass through, over the several years of our travels. Today we find relatively few treasures in the charity thrift shops everywhere we stop, a vast difference from even several years ago, when more wealth resulted in more quality discards.

The overall prosperity from the logging of the surrounding tree covered mountains where rain falls in abundance, is still evident, but ever more advanced mechanization removes the human element from the equation. Demands for ever rising wages, made from the vocal and politically motivated, have the end result in ever more machines to replace costly  humans.

The surviving big mills are still churning huge numbers of logs into timbers, but machines do the work formerly requiring large teams of manpower. We watch endless trucks with logs go into the large wood facilities, as others leave stacked with precision cut lumber for industrial demand elsewhere.

The Japanese ships that are fully automated, loading logs from their own Oregon mountainsides, bought many long years ago for the express purpose of growing timber, still rule the harbor in volume exported.

The highly technical, automated ships process the Japanese owned logs, cut on their own bought and payed for mountain forests of Oregon, as a floating mill. The cargo then moves out of port while the onboard mills continue operating 24-7. Destined to various demanding cities, including LA and SFO. The milled lumber is to spec, demanded by Home Depo and any other quantity buyers.

 The Oregonians rage among themselves politically, at the audacity of Japan to be so creative and deprive Oregonians of the jobs and timber, Oregonians self righteously demand as..... theirs.

The boardwalk has on display tied to the docks, several very large ocean tugs used in maneuvering the big ships in the deep 'turning basin' of Coos Bay. Several other smaller ships of historic nature, not as bulky, but still interesting, are on display as well. All orderly arrayed in the general area near the city center, easily accessed by tourists.

Our formerly free overnight campsite in the large and open gravel parking lot of the Old Mill Casino, on the former site of a large dockside lumber mill, now charges $15 a night for the parking lot dry camp. Up until a year or so ago, it was free, as the overnight guests used the Casino facilities and played it's games of chance.

Apparently the 'new economy' with it's free services for the rapidly expanding numbers of underprivileged, no longer covers the amenities once offered free to the taxPayers. A common scene, now that the reality of Obama dollars dropping value requires a lot more wealth redistribution.... to buy everything of value.

We will leave the Oregon coast tomorrow, heading inland for a couple of reasons, including state of California border restrictions involving Nav's little bird. Reluctant also to enter California and it's smoky fire engulfed landscape from 'Saving' too many trees, leaving the forest to burn, we are contemplating foregoing our beloved Brookings Harbor in Oregon's southern banana belt. Perhaps another time in the future?

9-25-14 Coos Bay to Medford Oregon:
About 200 miles in 4 hours. Beautiful two lane highway with improvements in progress. Green trees, bushes, grass is closest to the coast. Less fungi inland, along with more tree variations. Meeting oncoming Log trucks every few minutes indicates a strong local economy.

One estate sale near Mertyl Oregon, with home in the forest overlooking a small river, resulted in a few little treasures and nice conversation with elderly lady. Nav wanted to buy the little house in the forest :>) Continue on to Medford Oregon. Prosperity obvious where logging and ranching is active. Lots of contented cows and green pastures.

Carl's Jr burgers 2 for $5 with country music, first heard since Montana week of trip. Walmart at north end of Medford on Crater Lake highway is best for parking lot 'camp'. Newer store, Eagle Point further out than the busy city store. Drove back into city center for thrift store hunt and treasures.

9-26-14 leave Medford Oregon.
Costco fuel was $3.49 per gallon fill, then take highway 140 east toward NM. Beautiful drive over the Cascade Mountains passes near a mile high. Lots of lower gear... up and back down.

 is 4,000' altitude and cold in winter.  Medford lower and milder winter. Where Medford with it's lumber mills and manufacturing appears prosperous, Klamath Falls appears distressed. Homeless in abundance on day we were passing through, defines Klamath, as does vacant store fronts. Rail terminals should provide some resources? The city center is attractive with inlaid bricks crosswalks and restored brick store fronts, cafes. Nice city park shows that they are trying.

Wendy's lunch and leave for Lakeview 90 miles away on highway 140 now a narrow two lane, with ongoing construction straightening out the curves through the mountain passes. Farmland that requires irrigation to grow crops. Easily becomes desert without water from mountain snow. Fields of hay, beef cattle and many horses dot the landscape.

Lakeview County Fair was open for camping, easing doubts of Navigator for finding a suitable evening site.. $5 for the night in parking lot with no facilities. Quiet 'camp' and a local gun show was setting up for Saturday. I walked through and enjoyed the pre-show in the little display hall, before returning to coach for the night.

9-27-14 Saturday leave Lakeview Oregon:
Windy night in the fairground. Nice to get rolling again after breakfast. Forests covered the eastern slope of the mountain as we growled and twisted our way to elevation of 6,000'.

Desolation valley after the forest. One particular climb of a long 'shelf',  growled the coach to about 3,000' + above the valley floor, with no real hard edge on the narrow two lane highway. Long way to roll if a mistake was made. I assume a few have rolled their way to the bottom?

Met about 24 vehicles and one 18 wheeler on the entire trip east out of Lakeview Oregon. The climbs revealed a wide spread valley with high mesas that resembled the moon. Only irrigation saves it from desert. Nav drove onward toward busy hwy 95, where we turn south to Winimucca Nevada and Interstate 80. Hank Snow "I been everywhere man" comes to mind when we hear Winimucca.

Casinos and fuel at $3.45 Flying J. Cod specials at Long John Silver's before truckin' away to Elko Nevada. Prosperity more apparent in Nevada, where they mine the earth quietly out of sight of the environmentalists and gamble their paychecks.

Elko Nevada is Walmart camp, leave 9-28-14:
On the hill just off the highway, Walmart is easy to find. We love Walmart. Camping is cheap and supplies are just a walk away. I usually spend time wandering the aisles and gathering a few items like Marvel Mystery Oil, the machinery saving oil added to fuel, that is rarely found in eco-obsessed states like California.

After breakfast we roll down the exit hill and across more moonscape toward Wendover Utah. As we top out on approach to the Great Salt Lake Desert, we are greeted with a vast expanse of ... water. First time we have seen the flat salt soaking wet. 100 miles of shallow soaked wet salt with periodic tracks leading off the highway where drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel. This is one long flat, straight highway. I can imagine the repairs to fix the salt encrusted mechanicals after a fast ride into the salt slop followed by a quick stop. Big rigs temporarily leave their front end fiberglass behind as markers.

The same storm that soaked Phoenix, soaked the Great Salt Lake Desert, leaving it a dirty beige, rather than the pristine white normally observed. Salt tolerant weeds thrive when it rains. No intricately flying rocketry was seen this trip. Dugway proving ground puts on a show periodically, that can easily be watched from the highway across the salt desert.

Approaching Salt Lake City, Morton Salt is busily harvesting 'product'. Dealing with salt. Eat the stuff, it's prolific here. Kennicott is busy with it's huge complexes of whatevers, producing more of what it sells. Looks like it is on break today, as we drive past the large infrastructures and around the mountain toward the Salt Lake itself.

Our goal is Spanish Fork where we fueled on trip to the west. This time Nv took us on a shortcut.  Today fuel was cheaper at $3.21. Spanish Fork, which has developed rapidly over the last years, is at the southern end of the 100 mile corridor that relates and intertwines economically to Salt Lake City.

The Salt Lake itself is only a small remaining percentage of the large basin that was formerly a vast inland sea. We ate Costco Polish Dog and Pizza before continuing on to Green River Utah State Park, where we camped on way northwest four weeks ago.

The vast expanses of earth's resultant plate tectonics causing geologic uplifts, are really brilliantly lighted as the sun sets. The layer cake of strata from eons of 'Climate Change' are outstanding. Range and Basin western states geology is photogenic today.

South to 7,000' Soldier Summit pass, into Price Canyon, following the railroads down to lower elevation, rewarded us with a few trains today. Our campsite was tight in between trees. Rain and hail followed our registration. I had to put the bike away fast and watch the storm from inside the coach.

Navigator extracted the coach from the greedy trees as I monitored from outside. Dumped the tanks and headed toward New Mexico by way of Moab and Monticello, Southwestern Colorado's irrigated farmland, through simpler landscape to Shiprock NM and turn east back to Farmington NM for the night camp in Sam's Club.

Fuel was $3.45 at Farmington Sam's, due to four corners fuel price controls, historically by one family. Nav found ABQ fuel 'Gas Buddy' at $2.94, so we only added enough to make it to ABQ. Sam's ABQ fill, a quart of  Marvel Mystery Oil added and home to park in driveway for 2 days of unloading. While engine was still warm, I crawled beneath the coach to grease the 13 fittings, drain the oil and change the filter. Fill with new oil and refill the batteries with distilled water. Even new, they took 16 ounces for each of the four batteries totaling 1/2 gallon.

Unloading treasures and supplies took two days. Chores, mowing the tall grass in the back yard and restoring other necessities, takes a bit of unwind time after an extended trip. The horizons seen, memories to store, are worth every penny spent. What an amazing country, The United States of America, One Nation Under God. God Bless .