Friday, September 25, 2009

Washington, Oregon Coast Motorhome Camping part 3

Early in line at gate of Cape Disappointment State Park
  • on the North shore of the Columbia River
  • I paid for three nights, with one mandatory site move after first night. This is one of the finest state parks in the USA, and with it's extremely high, ocean side popularity, will soon require all reservations.

    With the always changing Ocean and it's fascinating weather patterns, only a couple of minutes walk away, I hiked past the buried remains of a whale, to the massive lava rock wall at the north end of the beach. North Head Lighthouse
  • is just at the top of that wall. The direct and dangerous climb to it entails a lot of skill. The much safer official hiking trail (2 miles 3.2km) is on the main entrance road by the Lewis and Clark marker. Battery 247, mentioned below is also nearby.

    Evening sunset was a group affair on the beach.
    Many camping visitors set up chairs as the sun started to go down onto a peaceful Pacific Ocean.

    The beach hike to the North Jetty along the Benson beach is always rewarding. The Jetties were built using a uniquely engineered rail and barge system, over a 30 year period starting in the late 1800's. They reduced the mouth of the Columbia River, from five miles to two miles. This effectively helped to flush out the channel for deep water, international shipping entry.

    The access railway trestles are still visible leading to the South Jetty
  • with it's hundreds of yards of violent winter storm damage easily visible in the mouth of the river. Efforts are always made to rebuild the jetty system, most recent being in 2006, using a Manitowoc crane to lift the 10 to 20 ton broken stone pieces, barged south from Washington. This is a very important shipping channel, and needs to be maintained no matter what the economic condition of the nation.

    The tidal and wave currents flushing in and out of the Columbia river, create a highly dangerous 'Bar' with winter storm waves easily in the 20 to 30 feet magnitude regularity. This area is referred to as in the Graveyard of the Pacific
  • Coast Guards
  • from around the world come here to train in the winter storms, Survive and you get a passing grade. 50 foot rogue waves were often reported in the winter storms of past years.
    Highly qualified, experienced River Bar Pilots have been lost during the dangerous transfers from ship to Pilot Boat.

    The thousands of acres of sand accumulated North of the North jetty, have built a forested eco-system of it's own, Pelicans love it. The big yellow fiberglass Asian lifeboat I have noticed over past years, has again moved during a winter storm. It is now near the entrance to the first campsite beach access path. One more violent winter storm and it could well be in the heavily forested cove among the massive logs below North Head Lighthouse (open to tour)

  • Also Oregon Lighthouses
  • are another main reason for our choices in campgrounds. I enjoy hiking to them and seeing the view out to sea they have enjoyed for over a hundred years.

    Hiking the area and climbing to Cape Disappointment Lighthouse
  • past the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and Dead Man's Cove. This climbing hike past the world recognised U.S. Coast Guard Station in Baker Bay
  • used up some more shoe tread and added leg muscle. The Jeep trip to Oysterville
  • North end of the Long Beach Peninsula, got us a dozen large oysters for $6 dollars. Layed them carefully on the grill with their 'lids' up. High flame until steam and opening appears. Yum with fresh salad. Too big and too many, ate only half and saved the rest for another meal. They were huge.

    Stopped in at always fascinating, Jack's Country Store
  • They have the most unique items from long ago. Did not even know such things were still manufactured. Be sure to stop in at the little villages and Long Beach access points along the route back. The beaches often have Sea Lions and Seals resting. Whales dead and many other interesting arrivals overnight. This Sea lion looked pretty dead to us. We pulled one car from it's sandy bed using our Jeep. The other car was way too deep and the tide was coming in fast, so the local 'Beach Patrol' yanked them out.

    Busy little Dunes Cafe across the street from Jack's, had great fish and chips. Cranberries are also grown and harvested nearby. Check the harvest dates, interesting to watch the bog flooding for harvest. Campground Racoons are an everynight visitor that open coolers with ease, removing only what they enjoy. Nightly walks around the camp sites, will be accompanied by Racoons.

    Another great hike climb to Battery 247, with it's concrete gun mounts and underground bunker still intact, used up a few more flashlight minutes and miles. Historic Fort Canby
  • is nearby and many large gun batteries are still easily accessed and toured.

    Breaking camp early the next morning, 09-22 Tuesday, we began our Oregon tour along Scenic Highway 101
  • Our Oregon Coastal highway, brought us to cross the Columbia River, on the beautiful Astoria-Meglar Bridge
  • 4.2 miles including high span (for tall ships) The Oregon Port of Astoria is below the bridge, to the East. Astoria is the oldest City west of the Mississippi. Fuel topping at Costco and Fred Meyers Stores are just across the hwy 101 smaller river bridge with it's 'lift' span.

    Fort Stevens State Park
  • with it's big trees, is our 2 night area stay. Hiking the park and it's many sections of campsites and Yurts, revealed the most extensive re-cycling facility at any park we have stayed. An auto-compactor and every type of waste container are within a parking area close by. Again Racoons accompanied me on my nightly hikes.

    I drove back to Astoria and visited The excellent Columbia River Maritime Museum
  • library and gift shop. This is the most interesting Nationally accredited Museum of Coast Guard history and shipping, I have ever visited. The 'Bow Picker' across the street has fish and chips. Sit outside below the trailered boat for a quick lunch.

    Driving the beach south of the South Jetty
  • is an interesting pastime. The entrance is at the Fort Stevens RV Camping Park. The famous shipwreck, Peter Iredale
  • is still slightly visible. Most was salvaged after it's demise, leaving the prow sticking out of the sand to rust into obscurity. The beach sand has been unstable this trip. We pulled out one car with our Jeep on Long Beach, so did not venture onto the looser, unstable sand of the Peter Ireland wreck.

    Fort Stevens truck tour, and it's underground tour of Battery Mishler
  • easily used up the rest of my afternoon (co-pilot is not interested in military or naval history). The underground tour guide is an historian. It's massive Guns never fired during conflict, the story told is of Abraham Lincoln originally commissioning the building of this intricate concrete bunkered fort during the Civil War. Interesting enough it is near re-constructed Fort Clatsop
  • built by Lewis and Clark (another interesting tour).

    Ft Stevens had state of the art firing co-ordinating communications Tele-autograph
  • Unique360 degree 10 inch (tested once, officially killing one, reportedly killed 6 men from the muzzle blast) along with 6 inch, rifled swivel cannons with a 30 second reload, DC powered
  • electrical conveyers and lifts, and concentrated firepower unequaled until the 2nd World War, during and after which it was up-dated and used as a major bunkered Pacific Headquarters deep underground.

    The Fort Stevens tour is an experience not easily forgotten. The original reason for this formidable defense system, was to protect the Columbia River Port of Astoria from...The British (check out 'The Pig War'). They depended on the South for their cotton and were very upset with the Union North about interrupting their cotton industry. Years later Ft Stevens was used for WWII Coastal defense. It was fired upon 17 times by one surfaced Japanese Submarine but never returned fire.

    Locked up with all furnishings intact, it was eventually left as a deep underground, preserved time capsule into the past. Eventually the area's Pot smoking Hippies moved in and burned it out, destroying it's fascinating history. That same group is now filling our legislatures and every level of U.S. government with it's mentality of destruction. As history changes the world, soon they will be all gone and replaced with the far different mentality of our young returning troops. Our nation and the world, will welcome the refreshing change in intelligence.

    The next move for the coach and it's tow, is along Oregon Coastal highway 101 South toward the little crabbing ambiance of Brighton Harbor, one of our next base of operations during our beautiful scenic Oregon Coastal tour.
  • Thursday, September 24, 2009

    Western States USA Motorhome Camping part 2

    This and many other ancient pieces of fascinating geologic history are a common sight as you drive across Utah and the dry western states. Reminds me of 'Roadrunner and Coyote'. I'm sure their counterparts love this terrain.
    Left early from the Farmington Sam's Club lot, and traveled through the four corners area. New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona all meet nearby. Shiprock's ancient volcanic core is visible majestically to the South of the quadrant. Cortez Colorado and on to Utah. Great weather this time of year. Not too hot or cold. Some highway construction budgeted for last year, was still being done while weather is nice. The oasis of Green River Utah, where we camped in the state park overnight last trip, is a sleepy little town famous for it's Water melons now. Don't forget John Wesley Powell started his Colorado River exploration from near here. The museum is in the village not far from the highway.

    We drove on Through tourist packed Moab to Price Utah this time, Nice Walmart lot. We arrived late, bought some provisions and left early the next morning. Arches National Monument near Moab as well as Canyon Lands is always packed with tourists. Next year they will only accept reservations for the National campground. BLM sites are off road and available if unoccupied. Jeep tours and rentals are always in demand. This BLM area is adjacent to the Huge Canyon lands National Monument. These area motels are packed out every trip we make through the beautiful scenic desolation of Utah. World travelers seek out this area.

    The next morning, early on our way to always prosperous Idaho. Jerome had another nice Walmart for an evening stay. More desolation mixed with scenic horizons. Baker City Oregon was a lunch stop at a little sandwich shop. Baker City is along the route to Pine Valley, which is on the way to Half Way Oregon, the gateway to Hells Canyon, another world famous tour. Cheyene Frontier Days, Calgary Stampede and Pendelton Round Up, are the premier Cowboy gatherings in the Western USA and Canada. Pendelton Round Up was fully underway and the Walmart was so packed that lot attendants waved us away. The Indian reservation fuel was advertised lower in cost. We topped off before heading on to Hermiston Oregon. Nice Walmart for the night with more provisions. Left early for trip across ranges to the Snake River.

    We had followed the Snake River (Lewis and Clark) North down to the Columbia River. Now this highway is even more interesting. The produce from Idaho is trucked to the ports along the Columbia river. Frozen french fries are in the mix due to Idaho's fame as a potato grower. The exchange of goods destined to other parts of the world, in the international trade system that works so well (if not meddled with by Washington DC) is amazing. The walls of rock and valleys along the Columbia are each unique with ranches and villages all along the thousand or so miles. This is the second largest river in the U.S. so it can occupy lots of time. The Highway is excellent as it meanders along the shoreline on the South side, Oregon. Washington State is on The North side.

    We had planned on parking overnight in a Portland Walmart. NO was the armed security guards recommendation. Bad area of the city, not safe overnight. Store closes at 10pm but guards stay all night. Our fun trip across the desolation of the West, is being brought back to the sad reality of large cities and their inherent problems.

    This decision caused us to cross the old green bridge over The Columbia River, in rush hour traffic toward Vancouver Washington. Due to the long day and fatigue, tension between myself and my intent navigator, was at unusual extreme stress levels. This Old overworked bridge has been in the replacement planning stages for many years at countless millions of dollars in 'studies' each year. Planning and 'studies' are lucrative and not as risky as actually 'Building a Bridge'. The legalistics and environmental studies have brought it's replacement cost to over 4 billion dollars and climbing (always cost overruns). As usual the lawyers are the winners here... Always at the expense of the very deep pockets of the tax payers of course.

    Driving along the North shore of the Columbia, on the Washington State side, now the arrival long after dark near our planned campground, was reality. I did not even get to stop and check on the Plainview
  • semi-submerged, resting in the mud about five miles East of the Meglar-Astoria bridge on the Washington side. 'Highpoint' was last seen on the Astoria side of the Columbia River. I have visited 'Plainview' on every other trip. We arrived after dark in great little Ilwaco Harbor
  • Spent some tense moments with the coach and tow on the narrow little streets, finding a large unpaved lot near the shipyard and harbor front shops. We remembered this remote possibility from last trips. Very, very exhausted, we parked in their big lot illegally while the rain fell and let it lull us to sleep. Early morning, before being sent away by 'the authorities', we left for the Cape Disappointment Campground nearby.
  • Sunday, September 13, 2009

    Western States, USA Motor Home Camping

    Will up-date this Western States, trip report, as wireless is available. Verizon tether, laptop/cellphone may also be used at times. Time to sally forth once again. Check on this Nation and see first hand if it is still worth saving :>)

    Said goodbyes to family and friends. Mowed lawns, Left friend to house sit :>)
    Preps.. Oil changes on Holiday Rambler coach
  • and tow Jeep. Jeep tires 42psi for low rolling resistance. 75 gallon MH Fuel tank is always kept topped off, as well as LP tank in case of emergency. Fuel mix, 1 qt Marvel Mystery Oil for fuel pump lube. Fill 60 gal coach water tank, 1 cup chlorine bleach (bottled water for drinking), Pressure test water system, test 120VAC electric/propane hot water system. Test and pre-chill refrigerator/freezer on both shore power 120VAC, and propane. 120VAC house outlet GFCI problem, until the generator test cleared it? Fill four 6VDC coach batteries with distilled water, Disconnect 2 computerized battery maintainers on coach batts and chassis batt.

    On-board compressor, fill 6, 22.5 Michelin tires, to 115psi, (5psi over for safety margin). Installed behind grill, 2 high power driving lights for open highways common in Western States. 2 small bright Pilot LED lights are also now connected to the system, to hyper illuminate reflective highway signs and markers. New Truck and RV map (loaded with extra info, campsites and local attractions) AAA, $20, last one in pieces after 7 years. Check and store Self Defense, survival systems :>)

  • Co-pilot Navigator wife, checked Nuvi Garmin 260 GPS, checked online weather Northwest. Cooler this time of year, each year since 1998. Adjust clothing load to cooler conditions (Global Cooling). Packed 3 cargo shorts/pants (like pockets for hiking). Packed all hiking and fishing gear. Food will only be the basics to cover early needs. The first stop is Four Corners, Farmington NM 200 miles, where one of the nations largest Walmarts is fully stocked with all food. Top off fuel tank, Shop there while parking overnight in their Sam's Club lot by the grassy little park :>)