Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Western States of USA

Click on my Juke Box. This is a real long one, seeing as we were traveling for one full month and over 4,000 miles (6437km). I will program in more hyper-links and pics daily as I think of more.

Seems like each trip beginning has it's own low point. As we were driving the Motor Home out of the back yard, the auto-retracting 'Kwikee' steps caught on the wall. They had not retracted as they always have. An inspection revealed the little safety switch magnet fastened to the entry door had fallen off.

Holiday Rambler Quality Control 'forgot' to fasten it with screws. Only a small piece of cheap white mounting tape was holding it and the critical switch in place. Now faced with the bent linkage and an unusable set of steps, we worked on the mess. Our son visiting from the Midwest, helped me remove it and beat it back to some semblance of function. The hundreds of dollars to repair it correctly will have to wait.

Now that we are back at home port, I did take Sarah Palin's advice and checked eBay. Found a complete new assembly on eBay at Jakes RV Surplus
  • Fairmont Minnesota. His approval rating is 100%, Buy it now Total cost including shipping $232 US. I just got off the phone with Matt, great guy and steps will deliver early next week. Side note; the steps arrived just as Matt said they would. Jakes RV Salvage 100% rateing is true. Isn't this a great country? I love Sarah Palin and would like to go fishing in Alaska with her and her family. Hope we have not heard the last from her but would not blame her one bit, after how a lot of people treated her and her family here in the lower 48.

    Leaving for our trip and taking the two youngest grand daughters along as far as Colorado, was then again possible. We had stayed at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
  • park one night with four of the young Lady's. The younger one read the youngest one a bedtime story to calm her for sleep away from her parents. The hundreds of hot air balloons were exciting to watch on the first morning's mass ascension. We all met and ate breakfast burritos on the field.

    We left on I-25 North, Sunday Oct 5th and arrived in Colorado Springs
  • at nightfall during heavy rain. Transferring the girls to their parents new car as they continued and drove through the night on to Cheyenne Wyoming
  • my co-pilot/navigator wife and I settled in for the night at a Walmart
  • parking lot. I do not relish driving any large coach in rain and poor nightime visibility.

    A note to the motorcyclist that passed me that dark rainy night in Colorado Springs in heavy traffic and then dove in front of the coach on that rain soaked highway, hitting his brakes to wave at someone in the car next to me. You were totally oblivious to your surroundings and have absolutely no idea how close you came to being ground into blood soaked raw meat under that 26,000 lb vehicle on I-25 that evening. The Lord must love you dearly.

    The next morning we drove on North of Cheyenne Wyoming, meeting the family for our goodbye's. They, heading back to the Midwest on Interstate 80, as we headed in the opposite direction on toward the Western coast of the USA. Refilling the fuel tank at the Flying J
  • truck stop (flying Hook as my long time traveling friend 'Chuck', calls it) As we drove over the hwy 80 mountain pass, the weather changed behind us, snow closing the highway pass for the night. We spent the night in windy and cold Laramie Wyoming
  • at an RV park near a family restaurant where we enjoyed our evening meal.

    The newly mounted Michelin tires were loosing air and needed refilling daily. It eventually corrected itself somewhat as they are now seating in to the rims. I suspect a less than stellar installation was the culprit on two of them in particular, Purcell will be notified when I ask them about the missing wheel nut cover. Other than the installation issue, the new Michelins performed flawlessly as advertised.

    Leaving Laramie and progressing through the western mountains, climbing and descending repeatedly along this interstate truck route, while the 'always present' Wyoming Westerly headwind held our speed and fuel economy low, was still rich in desolate scenery along this relatively lightly traveled Northern highway.
    Little, Kemmerer
  • Wyoming is the home of the original JC Penney store. It is restored to it's original condition and open for business. 50 Million year old Fossil Fish are nearby at Fossil Butte

  • Another Walmart stop for a late night rest and we were again on our way. The little oasis of Green River Wyoming
  • has a railroad buff's overhead walkway vantage point. The switch yard left the outdoor speakers on the last time we stopped and listened to the trains getting their orders. This is also where anti-peddling, The Green River Ordinance
  • came to be.

  • Twin Falls
  • and Boise Idaho
  • are familiar small cities. After entering Oregon's Eastern border on interstate Hwy 84, and continuing to Baker City
  • we parked for the night on a side street near the little museum and city park. Baker City is the point where state Hwy 86 takes any one interested, to Hell's Canyon National Recreation Area
  • where wild powerboat rides on the Snake River are the main attraction.

    Years ago on a spur of the moment trip in a vintage little MG-B we had restored, we also visited the little village of Half Way Oregon
  • the homestead of my navigators ancestors. (she loves genealogy as a hobby) Interesting that both of us had ancestors that helped settle Oregon many long years ago. They must have been tough to survive adversity, hope the genes are still that strong in our descendants.
    La grande
  • then the famous Pendleton Oregon
  • were passed through. Pendleton is world famous for it's woolen products and also for the Pendleton Roundup. Arguably a world famous Rodeo, unmatched by most.

    Past Hermiston Oregon
  • we finally saw the mighty Columbia River
  • ahead of us. Along this route, the Lewis and Clark Trail
  • becomes intertwined with the modern highway system along the Columbia River. This major Western waterway is critical to transportation of agricultural products to feed the world, as well as the return of equipment and supplies to maintain the commerce from upstream producers. Cruising along the Oregon side of this very large river was quite a relaxing drive. Many big hydro-electric dams are seen with their 'Locks' and 'fish ladders' to assist the salmon on their up and down stream migrations. Visitor tours of the dams are available and very informative, with below the water, viewing windows to watch, count and identify the fish swimming past in the fast current.

    The Dalles Oregon
  • is an interesting little historic city and port, as well as, well known Portland Oregon
  • (Portland Cement) where we crossed the river on Hwy 205 and 5, into Washington State. At mile marker 39 we turned West toward the Washington coast on state road 432. I like that road because of the chance to periodically re-inspect a classic aluminum, experimental Turbine powered Hydrofoil built by a venture of Boeing and Gruman in the 1960's. ........pic........'Plainview'
  • sadly now lies slowly sinking into the mud, five miles East of the Astoria-Megler Bridge
  • Not far from the point where Lewis and Clark spent a miserable five days trapped because they did not have beautifully engineered Indian canoes
  • like these. They eventually stole one to continue their exploration. Legend is that the Clipper Ships
  • were designed after the hull configuration of these canoes.

    Ilwaco Harbor
  • Washington has been one of our favorite little 'Fish and Chips' stops. On the Internet camera (when working) you can see the boats in the harbor just as we see them while dining. The dozens of tame 'wild ducks' are now gone. A dog that came into port on a Tuna fishing boat, killed most of them. The remaining few are now relocated to a safer little Bed and Breakfast just outside of the port.

    Cape Disappointment State Park
  • campground is our destination. We pay for four nights stay within 50 yards (45m) of the oceans waves, so as to have time for our beach walks, wave watching, hiking and little side trips to the nearby lighthouses, including Ft Canby, the fully restored Civil War guardian of the north mouth of the Columbia River and the little villages along the coastline of Long Beach Peninsula
  • A trip one day to historic Oysterville brings us back to our secluded campsite in the trees with a dozen live Oysters to place on the little Road Trip Coleman grill that night. When they start to steam and open slightly, they are done. Yum... Crawling into bed afterwards, reading a Patrick O'Brian novel (Master and Comander) and being lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves hushed roar, is like heaven to us.
    On one trip up the Peninsula, Ocean Park Wa. Jacks Country Store
  • very large and with every imaginable item you would ever see, looked like fun. Allow some time for the supermarket of all country stores. Walmart would be jealous. I bought a watchband and liked it. Called the number on their website and Mallory is sending me another. This site Funbeach.com
  • is the one Mallory directed me to also. What nice people we have in the USA, greatest nation in the world. Cranberries are the big crop during the harvest season they are just wrapping up, per Mallory. They even have a Cranberry Festival in Ilwaco. Several little side drives including the one across Astoria-Meglar bridge as we left the area, were in order.

    The 4.5 mi (7.24km) long Astoria-Meglar Bridge over the mouth of the Columbia river is also on the Internet camera system. The Astoria Oregon Maritime-Coast Guard Museum
  • is my magnet and holds my attention for hours. My wife just fails to see what could keep my interest for so long. She just does not understand the lure of history. Intensely tough, powerful crews and boats of 44 and 47 foot lengths, that go out into raging seas
  • during the peak of wild storms, to rescue those in distress.

    Many Coast Guard men have lost their lives, overpowered by the wild sea, and the details of each violent encounter are in that Museum. The mouth of the Columbia River is called "The Graveyard of the Pacific" due it's violent 'Bar' during tidal changes, multiplied many times over during storms. It is the training area for the worlds Coast Guardsmen.
    A retired, restored, Historic 44 Footer
  • is on a dramatic display along with it's own story.

    Astoria Harbor is also the last known location of the (now privately owned) Coast Guard Hydo-foil Highpoint
  • also an experimental Hydro-foil from the 1960's when Plainview was born.

    Battery Russell of Fort Stevens
  • is one of the many leftover coastal defence gun platforms guarding the mouth of the Columbia river during the civil war and through WWII. I hiked to it and explored its dark concrete catacombs. A Japanese sub fired on it about 20 times in 1944 but it never answered the random shots with it's huge pop-up swivel cannons for some various explained reasoning.
    The sailing ship bow and stern beams of the Peter Iredale
  • is accessable by 4 wheel drive on the sand at low tide. Watch the tides, we were amazed at how fast the waves covered our Jeeps wheel tracks on the way back out after our trip to the south Jetty. If you drive back out and around the Jetty there is a parking lot and observation deck. Note the old rail trestle built over 100 years ago as the mammoth lava basalt rocks from the Idaho border, were barged and railed hundreds of miles to build the Jetty systems along the coastline. Fantastic engineering started in the late 1800's and not completed until 30 years later. Amazing project for it's time, even today.

    Lewis and Clark history is everywhere along this coastline where they first viewed the Pacific Ocean. "Oh the Joy" as is recorded saying. Brighton Harbor is good for at least two nights. Live crabs, prepared for us to take to our little house on wheels is a favorite. The Dungeness Crab
  • is a little more difficult to eat but wonderful nonetheless.

    Little, family owned, Brighton Harbor is a destination for many and spaces are sometimes difficult to reserve. The attraction is of course the crab fishing. The dock is always busy. The crab follow the several feet rise and fall of the tidal currents and fill the traps eagerly. Only the larger males with the narrower breast plate center pattern, are kept, while the females are tossed back to replenish the future generations. Oregon coastal camping RV parks

  • Side trips in the Jeep, to little Seaside
  • and Cannon Beach
  • are always fun. Cannon Beach is named for the 1898 finding of the Cannon and part of the deck planking from The USS Shark
  • a Navy Cutter which sank nearby in 1846. Cannon Beach is also the location of Mister Fultano's Pizza
  • (also in Astoria)The Italian Special is the best Pizza I have ever enjoyed in my life. It is loaded with various spicy meats and the taste is to never be forgotten. Mr Fultanos is on a little side street in the center of the village. A three wheeled electric car is parked out front with Mr Fultano's name on it in big letters. Do not pass the chance to enjoy that wonderful Pizza of a lifetime. Wish I could have bought a dozen, froze them and brought them home for the future delight of myself and others.

    Manzanita Oregon
  • as viewed from the high altitude mountainside cliffs of highway 101, is a sight burned into our memory. The State of Oregon has built pullouts and parking areas all along this scenic Highway for tourists to stop and look over the ragged, tortured coast line. Terrible Tillie, the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse
  • on an offshore rock, is visible in the mist at most times.

    Huge Sea Stacks of ancient, black basaltic lava flow shoreline, are visible being ravaged by the waves. Each of which takes a turn at destroying the huge rocks a pebble at a time during the storms of the winter. The volcanoes that produced some of this lava are located in Idaho, hundreds of miles to the East. What a violent past this earth has experienced and it was all left and preserved by our Creator for us to enjoy.

    Tillamook Oregon
  • is famous for cheese and dairy products. Tillamook Cheese Factory
  • is open to the public with a monster parking lot for even the largest of rigs and big crowds. The tours are self guided and watching the process is fascinating. the automated line is still monitored my dozens of employees as the milk is turned to curd, then cheese blocks of 40 lbs, sliced by wires into small blocks that are packaged as they progress down the line.

    The factory store is filled with products and even freshly prepared sandwiches and ice cream. Do not pass this display of capitalism in action, manufacturing quantity of product, on the economy of scale, for the world to enjoy. It started as a dairy farmers Co-Op in the 1950's and has grown into this beautiful facility.

    Depoe Bay
  • is an attraction for tourists because of the village as well as the waves splashing over the cars as they pass over the harbor entrance which has no Jetty protection. We watched a few years ago as 30 foot fishing boat was picked up by a huge wave and tossed through the entrance. Smallest is the word for this harbor.

    Working our way toward Newport
  • We park near this spot on the marina looking up at this beautiful bridge designed by Master Engineer Conde McCullough
  • and Yaquina Bay near these Two Lighthouses
  • where we spend several nights at the Harbor Port RV Park, we pass through Lincoln. A back trip or two is in order for the Jeep over the next several days. I enjoy walking the harbors at night and the sound of Sea Lions barking are always present along this coastline.

    The historic center of old Newport Harbor is fun to walk, visit the Sea lions and shops while stopping and eating clam Chowder at Mo's or wherever you desire. Clam Chowder is wonderful all along this coast with very few exceptions. We usually buy a few Marine themed items for my wife's little antique mall cubicle. New Mexico is not a place to see much of this stuff.

    The trip along the coastline on Hwy 101 is always a scenic drive not to be missed if anyone wants to see firsthand the work of nature in action. One stop was tourist popular, Gold Beach where the Mary D Hume
  • lies at rest after a 97 year working career. She lies within sight of the bridge we crossed on entering Gold Beach, named for the placer claims years ago.

    Our destination is Brookings Harbor
  • where we stay for the last week of our trip. Umpqua Lighthouse
  • is rated as one of the worlds most beautiful Fresnel lenses of red and white light as it rotates sending it's light 20 miles out to sea. It was designed to float on a pool of liquid mercury. The weight of over 6,000 lbs (2,721kg) on some 'first order' lenses, was able to be turned with one finger by the clockwork drive which had to be wound periodicaly by the lighthouse keeper. Insanity was fairly common in Keepers because of Mercury vapor poisoning.

    The new system is a 'chariot wheel' bearing system. A Japanese sub crew assembled a seaplane in 1944 and bombed the Redwood forest nearby. the pilot returned 20 years later to apologise and leave his Samurai Sword. We stay on the harbor seawall for 7 nights, just below the hill, in the Harbor complex and within 50 feet of the ocean shoreline. During winter storms this area is uninhabitable and the waves crash over the seawall we normally park on. The US coast Guard Station on this harbor has an historic retired 44 Footer
  • being privately restored and on display. I watched as these dedicated 'Coasties' as they are called, went out daily and each evening aboard their two 47 foot (14.3m) new model Motor Life Boat (MLB)
  • for training in rescue oerations off 'the bar'. One MLB is in the boathouse and one at dock, near their powered inflatables.

    My nightly walks are always productive. I noticed a questionable character entering a boat at the dock one night. Apparently the harbor security office likes people that notice questionable characters. Maybe I will return some trip and work 'dock security' at night? The offer sounded good. I was invited aboard 'The Torrey Pines", a 35 foot fiberglass double ended Sailboat with a deck-stepped mast and an auxiliary Yanmar diesel engine. A new GPS mount and swing away radar screen, to protect it from weather. A small diesel fueled heating system made in Finland keeps the quarters warm and cozy.

    Torrey Pines was built in 1980 as a Fantasia 35
  • in Taiwan, shipped to the US, Apparently sailed down the Ohio River, docked in Florida, then trucked to Portland Oregon where Bob and Sharon bought it. Bob and Sharon worked on a sailing vessel in 1972 where they sailed to Tahiti, Figi, Pitcairn Island and New Zealand.

    Bob and Sharon had the sailing fever after that. Bob worked in a shipyard in San Diego restoring other peoples boats for many years, only to see them sail away as he started another restoration. Torrey Pines is being totally restored by Bob and Sharon. She is the Varnish Queen restoring the Teak woodwork while Bob Does all of the plumbing, mechanical and electrical.

    The Entire ocean going craft is projected to be finished within the next two years. A trip to Alaska is on the radar for the Torrey Pines. Great sailing Bob and Sharon. Thank you for inviting this Lubber aboard.

    I hiked out to Chetco Point
  • a future Sea stack still attached to the mainland. The waves pound it mercilessly and the massive thunderclap of them crashing into the canyons, shakes the rock beneath your feet. I can only imagine standing on it during the winter storms which are far more violent than one can visualise.

    After many side trips in the Jeep along this coastline, we packed up and left our Pacific Ocean port at the mouth of the Chetco River and headed inland to California. The Hwy has to circle around the mountains to get back to I-5. We go through California entry checkpoints twice and must peel our oranges and give the peels to the state inspectors lab to analyise. On our way again, we pass through a portion of the Redwood Forest.

    There are still quite a few of the, once prolific, (2,000,000 acres before 1850) Redwood Forests
  • along this Northern California coast, including Oregon. Thank the tenacity of the Redwood Society in 1920 for preserving the remaining forests (only 5%) for our enjoyment. Redwoods love lots and lots of soft rain, fog and mist to grow for the many hundreds to thousands of years of possible life. If the matriarch is stressed in any way (cut down), her siblings grow from the base roots to encircle her stump in protection, almost as a shrine to her passing. Most Redwoods are root sprouted in this manner, thus most are DNA related in any one grove.

    Don't miss the chance to see them up close (not too close, it compresses their dirt and they suffer from that). Several years ago, groups of 'Tree Huggers' endlessly worshipped, tramped and hugged around one of the tallest and caused it to stress and lose 10 feet (3m) from its top. Arguably The tallest trees on earth, I say arguably because there were supposedly a few Eucalyptus trees in Indonesia and Australia that were once 'questionably' reported to approach 492 feet (149m) but it was never documented. The Giant Redwoods are amazing in comparison to a normal tree, which they easily dwarf (known 1998 record) at up to 369 feet (112m) tall
  • We camped near the entrance headquarters and great little museum in the middle of the fantastic Redwood Forest, one night last trip..silence, few bugs due to their high concentration of Tannin, few birds because of few bugs.

    Redwoods are taller than the Sequoias which are larger in diameter and have more massive trunks, therefore more total volume. Both require periodic forest fires along the forest floor to remove scrub growth and more importantly, heat the seeds for sprouting new growth (Sequoias). These periodic smaller fires also prevent the accumulation of underbrush that fuels devastating crown fires which destroy the forest for hundreds of years. Before learning better, man thought he had to put out every fire. Nature use's periodic fire as a maintenance tool.

    There is a John Muir
  • section of the Redwood Forest, and also the grove of Giants that has the largest diameter Sequoia Redwood, The General Sherman
  • a really, really wide tree at 36 feet diameter (11m) and 2,700 to 3,000 years of age. John Muir was also the founder of the Sierra Club. They did wonderful things for years but as all mega-operations grow, they also require checks and balances to prevent heavy handed power interfering in neccesary life

    State Hwy 199 takes us back up into Oregon and the city of Grants Pass where we regain access to I-5 and Medford Oregon. A night at the Costco in town after filling the fuel tank was not bad. The next morning, anticipating a different route, we drove the entire rig to Crater Lake National Park
  • (the only National Park in Oregon). Not a good choice, discovered after growling up the mountain in low gear and growling back down. The view of this deep blue lake is fantastic from the top rim which made up for the error in judgement. Came close to doing the 33 mile loop around the lake, then driving on to Klamath Falls, but changed our mind.

    After a meatball sandwich at the rim hotel and gift shop, watching the tame little Gray Jays, Whiskey Jacks or Camp Robber Jays
  • eat from peoples hands and looking at the deepest, and blueist, Freshwater lake in the USA, We returned the same route and stayed one night at the new, pretty Walmart just out of town on the Crater Lake Hwy. Of course we shopped for supplies there as well.

    Family owned Pennington Farms
  • is just outside Medford. Lots of homemade goodies including preserves and bread. The freezer was filled with bread and our cabinets were filled with Jams. They are online at Penningtonfarms.net and will ship Great homemade stuff. The I-5 Interstate highway is beautiful as Mount Shasta
  • is seen on the horizon. It is really big in comparison to the surrounding mountains.

    Shastas reservoir system is nearly depleted this late in the season as it is used for agriculture and domestic water from snow melt. A lesson in agricultural engineering, after passing through Stockton California, is first apparent by the hundreds of miles of canals, controlled for flow rate to the maximum level. As the Sacramento river valley is passing by us, the crops are stretching to the horizon in laser strait orderly rows, all irrigated by a controlled bubbler system for each tree.

    The older less productive orchards are systematically ripped out along with their more wasteful irrigation systems, to be replaced by new baby trees. The cotton planted between the rows will provide a cash crop while the baby trees slowly mature to production of fruit. This many hundreds of miles of agriculture is truly the worlds shopping cart. Agribusiness is the product here. Any world leader that tries to mess with this massive, finely balanced and engineered system will cause a famine never seen in history. Take note Mr Obama and your cohorts in our now changing government.

    Catching Hwy 58 after leaving amazing productive agribusiness supporting Bakersfield, heading out across the Mojave desert and it's increase in altitude is a long slow grind. Not nearly as many planes are stored at the Mojave airbase as when we last traveled by here. Wonder where they all went. Recycled? Sold for use by other nations? Returned to flight status? Probably some of each possibility? Edwards AFB has been the home of many strange and new flying craft including the world renown SR-71 Blackbird. I posted a story of one such flight on http://blogengeezer.wordpress.com/
  • Also check out the comment below the last story. It has music and pics to go along with one story.

    Barstow was our nights stay on the edge of the desert. Quiet and serene with temperature approaching 100 on the day we crossed the area. Needles California passed through, then entering Arizona for the last leg home. 24/7 incredibly Busy with travelers, Truckers and trains hauling freight, Flagstaff Arizona and a night stay in the parking lot of the Cracker Barrel
  • Restaurant on Lucky Lane, where we ate supper and also breakfast, then it was the final miles into Albuquerque New Mexico and home where we unpacked the perishables, clothing, and gifts after refilling with fuel and dumping the waste tanks at the Giant station. Fuel at $2.29 a gal (3.78 L) is so cheap it's obcene. Yep.. bad times 'the media' says.

    The next day was draining and blowing out the water lines for the winter, pouring in RV antifreeze to protect the drain traps from winter freeze, drilling out a 'seized' plug of sacrificial magnesium metal from the hot water tank, washing and servicing the rig including an oil change and lube, (getting a little harder crawling around under the rig each year). Then we drove it into the back yard to be covered and stored with the B&D 'Smart Charger' protecting the batteries through the winter. (Another Walmart gem of a tool).

    We always are saddened by the storage of our traveling 'cabin' after we have visited this great nations sights and people. Our nation has been blessed beyond belief. So much incredible scenery, so many natural resources and engineering required to maintain access through our fantastic interstate Highway system. The new interchanges and repaving projects are every place we travel. Contrary to the popular opinion of the mainstream media, this country has definitely not been in the turmoil advertised, obviously for political gain.

    The new Indian Casinos are an indication, disposable income is prolific. The parking lots are filled all over the western states with gamblers trying their luck, doggie Bakeries selling their specialty snacks for dogs Dutch Brothers Coffee
  • kiosks taking the place of closed Starbucks and every other sign of prosperity to be seen. Just get out and travel, look around and wake up. The Greatest Nation the world has ever known, One Nation Under God, is still alive and vibrant..

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