Thursday, September 29, 2011

Western States tour 31 July 2011 beginning

We are home now, but this is the story of the well over 4,000 mile trip posted in sections dated below.

Finish prepping Jeep, changing oil for tow behind Motor home, I also prepped 'Whistling Thunder Pig' by changing oil (synthetic Super Tech from Walmart) NAPA Gold extra capacity filter, Lubing all 13 articulated suspension grease fittings incl 5 on driveshaft joints, removing original very heavy main CRT TV with son's assistance, for later replacement with LCD. Cleaning, spraying DuPont teflon silicone on landing gear before retraction (saves the seals) and bringing all six 22.5 tires to 110 psi.

Water tank filled. Woodal's camping catalog and 'Next Exit' book (works on Interstates). Loaded Weapons checked and secured (not to be victims like RV'ers Gary and Linda Hass from Oklahoma)
  • Refrigerator turned on 'shore' electric mode for pre-cool to freezer and cold storage. Load minimal food supplies (continual re-stock and dine out on trip). Include clothing for extended stay with Oregon coastal weather cooling in plans. Made first night reservation Alpen Rose RV Durango Colorado
  • Stayed in the past and had good experiences on different occasions with grandchildren. Plan: head out, meandering west then north by way of Yellowstone National Park
  • then toward the west coast during the following days.

    Realizing my drivers license was going to expire during the trip, I went to motor vehicle dept (Oh Joy) well ahead of time for renewal. After pulling the tab from the machine at the entrance, to get a sequence number of 069 I patiently sat in the large crowd staring forward.

    I then started reading my National Geographic magazine as the numbers were called and flashed over each window of the 'on duty' clerks. After 30 minutes the 069 was called and a window flashed my number. I approached as another man beat me there. The clerk started taking care of his request. I patiently stood behind him. Finally the clerk looked at me irritated, and said "what do you need"?

    I showed her the number stub and pointed at her flashed number 069 above the cage. she became irritated and said "This man has an appointment"... Knowing that the system in New Mexico now gives 'Illegals' a drivers license 'by appointment', I realized that I was just a victim of yet another marching govt bureaucracy following an insane law.

    She said that I should go sit down and wait until called by someone else because 'this man' would be busy with the clerk for An Hour. I sat down and waited as more numbers were called. Numbers higher than mine.

    Getting really annoyed now, I approached another window, was asked what I desired, re-told the story and was told to "sit down Wait my turn, sorry about the line 'bump". After another hour I was finally taken care of, and told the new license was to be 'mailed' (another reactionary law to try and prevent the 'illegals' from living out of state. Ways around that as well). Like the govt regulating your life? Hang on it's about to get rougher.

    Now what? We are gone for a duration, traveling out of state and my license will expire. Oh well as they say "The Checks in the mail". After note: Homesitter called, it after we left. He forwarded it to little Ilwaco Washington for pick up on my arrival. Same way the illegals get theirs out of state. Ironic that the NM DL is now printed and laminated in Washington State due to NM State printers lack of reliable security. Identity fraud using official NM DL materials..

    31 July:
    Left ABQ at 2 pm, drive across the NW quadrant of NM, crossing into southern Colorado. Colorado still sprays their irrigation water high into the air from the rolling irrigation field systems, exposing a great portion of it to rapid evaporation. They still have not learned to conserve in 'Green' Colorado.. Arrived Alpen Rose Durango RV park by 6pm. Hook up to site services and settle in with an excellent chicken deli meal picked up earlier from Durango City Market.

    Decided to stay one more night at busy Alpen Rose RV park so we could spend a day in Durango. Our #xx space was reserved for an incoming coach after 1 pm, so we were moved to #xx for next night. Departure check out is 11:00 pm but a coach was still parked there? They had checked out, but asked the desk if a 12 o clock departure was ok?..... They wanted to go into Durango.

    Desk told them yes... but 'No Later'. We sat in our coach waiting and waiting and waiting, finally co-pilot fixed our lunch in the coach. About 1:30 they leisurely came back from town all happy with 'Their' day, .......2 1/2 hours After Checkout. Inconsiderate to selfishly take other people's time for granted, while enjoying their own.

    Campground security chewed them out while I pulled our coach right up behind them. They were running around like wild chickens, while trying to hook up their trailer, disconnect the water, electric and cable, plus drain their holding tanks.

    I was sorta hoping they would screw up and do a mistake with the sewer drain hose like Robin Williams in the movie RV, but that would have made a mess that I would have to deal with. I shoulda leaned on the air horns to give them incentive as the guy worked frantically :>)

    We Finally got to go into town ourselves about 2:00pm to look around and pick up some 'stuff'.
    We head out tomorrow... Before 11am Checkout :>)

    02 August:
    Growling up over the pass towards Cortez Colorado in first and second gear is joyous :<(... Across the mountains past little Hesperous and it's tiny ski area, through Mancos, past famous Mesa Verde and into Cortez It is a pleasant and scenic drive with green mountainous vistas.

    Cortez City Market with it's Deli is a treat, as well as fuel costs discounted (Kroger affiliate). Left for the north through Moab Utah with it's sculptured and tortured beautiful wild Canyonlands National Park. Price Utah with one quiet night in the Walmart lot and a few supplies, then morning departure.

    03 August:
    on north through little 'Helper' (helper engines for railroad), climb through the photogenic state hwy 6 canyon following the railroad up over Soldier summit, on to Provo Utah Sams Club refuel at $3.38 per gallon.

    Traveling north through Salt Lake City shows what an industrious powerhouse this area is. A corridor stretching from Provo to Ogden is intense with construction. Amazing what the balanced 'Minimal' restrictions, regulations and taxes can accomplish..... if done in moderation.

    As we drove north past Ogden in 88 degree temperature, the huge and diverse 'Smith and Edwards' surplus and outer's store lured us off the I-15 to browse and pick up a few items. Willard Bay RV and boat ramp rec area nearby was nice and quiet for a $25 night with full 50 amp service (AC runs well), water and dump site. Interesting to walk over and watch the boats launch and retrieve. Some folks do not understand the backing procedure. Hilarious to watch the signals and furious hand waving.

  • are the lab created hybrid fish sought after. A cross of Wide Mouth and Striper Bass makes for good fight and great eating from this freshwater reservoir. The 14 mile horseshoe shaped causeway keeps seperate, the fresh from the salt water. The channel comes out of Ogden to feed the fresh water supply from the snowy mountains and keep it isolated for the city and surrounding areas. What a great engineering project. A team of engineers were drilling core samples for estimates on earthquake resistance of the causeway.

    August 4th:
    Leaving north over the Idaho state line shows the start of 'Big Sky' (Montana slogan)country with farm and ranch land spread openly to the low rolling hills and valleys. Idaho Falls is a Sams Club refuel at $3.60 and a simple night in the parking lot. Wifi at nearby Hastings allowed catching up on email and news of the world, as stock market plummeted on signing of the debt bill allowing for unimaginable escalating debt of the USA. Estimates are for a future debt of $25 trillion within the next 20 years.

    Jay Leno (joked?) that president 'Justin Bieber' will handle it then. Breakfast and lunch at McDonald's and we drive on to Yellowstone West Entrance for a few days camping.

    05 August Enter Yellowstone National Park:

    West Yellowstone Entrance gate board with campsites available, showed 'Full'. U turn back to Henry's Lake west of town for 2 nights, elec only at $42.50 total. Water not working due to main line repair. 'Bill' cut the line while trenching. Ken working in trench, Annabelle laying in dirt in her Ranger uniform eventually got all working again. Mosquitos supervised the operation. The Snake River Valley was formed by a glacier during the last Ice Age leaving 1,500 acre feet Henry's Lake in it's melt. Dam construction later increased it's size to 86,000 acre feet. Fishing was it's first profitable industry. Snowmobile invented there.

    Sunday 8-7 re-enter Yellowstone once again. Fishing Bridge (no fishing from bridge) Campground had one reservation open for 'hard sided' campers only. Birds are their theme but no birds seen. Evening hike revealed that many dozens of Fishing Bridge camp sites are closed off for installation of power lines. Silent and peaceful camp, no external clawing at the hard sides. :>)

    Monday 8-8 On drive toward north entrance watch for Gibbons Falls. It comes up quick and the parking lot gets filled early. No Bears were ever seen on any of the three trips we have made to magnificent Yellowstone Park. Even Fishing Bridge RV park, with it's Bear resistant 'hard side' camper restriction was uneventful as far as animals were concerned.

    Scattered distant Bison, one rolling in dirt attracted a traffic jam, and one rare Elk's butt were our only animal sightings along the highway. Magnificent scenery is always special in spite of no visible critters. Countless Geysers are the main tourist attractions throughout the park. Steaming 'Roaring Mountain' hints at nature's immense power lurking below the surface. Tour Busses are packed into many areas.

    One international bus with raised top, even had individual bunks for it's passengers. More visitors in one year today, than the entire first 60 years of the Park's existence. During the mid to late 2000's, infrastructure was improved at the national parks including the lodge facility using federal revenue sharing matched with commercial enterprise funding (Dirk Kempthorne, secretary of the Interior knew many industrialists). Nice food service cafe now.

    1988 fires did a world of good for the park by ridding it of the historically unsustainable fuel load, created by dousing every little fire immediately. The historic meadows known by the Indians and first reported by the trappers, are now available to the animals for grazing once again. The National Park service under pressure from 'environmentalists' is busily creating another fuel load. Many roadside areas are getting thick again with view hindering highly flammable Trees. Too much 'Hugging'?

    Yellowstone Lake is the largest 'Mountain' lake in the USA. The lively Yellowstone River tumbles alongside the north exit road down to Mammoth. Do not ever miss the visitor parking areas at any of the noted viewing spots. 'Terrace' area is many huge stair steps of heavily mineral laden water in big steps down the mountainside.

    Leaving Yellowstone by way of Mammoth north entrance is a test of coach engine braking on the narrow pavement steep downgrade. Cell Phone is again available to reconnect with society. Gardiner is further down the mountain north entrance from Mammoth.

    Butte Montana with it's huge deposits of copper, created the Copper Kings
  • such as William Clark (reclusive daughter 'Hugette' died recently). Anaconda won out in the endless battles for supremacy in the mining of Copper. Robert Craig 'Evel' Knievel, 1938 to 2007, is buried here in his home town.

    trekked on to, now college town, Missoula Montana (once logging and railroads) I-90 along the Clark River Fork. Northern Pacific, Burlington and even 'The Milwaukee Road' (electric) made their mark through the hills. Some old Milwaukee Road tracks are still visible alongside the highway.

    Missoula has a Costco for fuel topoff of 34 gallons at $3.63 and a well deserved lunch at Cracker Barrel. River looked so inviting that a 2 nights stay at 'Sloway' National Park was enjoyed. Railroad passed by on opposite side of river. Boeing is receiving many interesting fuselages by rail. River is popular for raft and canoing.

    8-12 Leaving Sloway:
    We passed through the beautiful mountainous terrain to Kellog. The historic 1910 Fire that burned over 3 million acres with smoke causing disruptions even to north Atlantic shipping as far as London England. Still visible scars on the mountainsides. Gold mining was also the reason for the existence of several towns along this route. The big black plastic lined Cyanide pits are now working the tailings. Nice litle RV 'dump station' located just off the highway in Kellogg.

    CoerD'lene Idaho with it's trademark lake is always breath taking as approached from the southeast. We continued on to Spokane along the newly created business corridor between the cities. A nice quiet night spent in the Costco lot after our top off of fuel ($3.64 gal).

    8-13 left Spokane:
    on hwy 2, (tricky to find this hwy) across the irrigated farm land. This was educational. How they grow irragated crops in this arrid desert is amazing. All of the way to 'Coulee' and the dams (Grand Coulee) of the Columbia River is wheat land. This horizon to horizon rolling and highly productive land is beautiful. The hungry world depends on this productivity being protected. Never 'overly tax' the profit motivated producers with political vote pandering or food production will be degraded to it's previous sustenance farming, leaving population controlling mass starvations in it's wake, simalar to the pre-industrial age..

    The highway previously elevated due to the high plains, quickly turned downward into tortured ravines as it descends into the immensely prosperous Wenatchee Valley of Washington with a carpet of fruit trees spread out before us, we were amazed at this, yet another fertile part of our nation. Buying cherries the size of ping pong balls, was a pleasure at one of the numerous fruit stands along the chain of Columbia River reservoirs. Fishing is always visible on the rivers and reservoirs.

    13 August:
    8-13 Starting the climb out of the Wenatchee valley up through the Olympic mountain range is grueling on the rig. Tumwater Campground, pleasant and helpful host had one last 'pullthrough' site at $8.50 (w Golden Age pass). Quiet night among dozens of excited campers with a bit of smoke from their little campfires, was endurable after all of the down and uphill miles driven in low gears.

    14 August:
    Morning left Tumwater National campground on continued climb up through the beautiful Cascades mountain range, past dozens of waterfalls, over Stevens Pass and down 7% grade for another 7 miles while stopping for scenic photo shots of cascading waterfalls, proved enjoyable.

    Everitt Washington Costco fuel at $3.59 saved no money due to intense City traffic congestion. Advise to fuel at outlying stations for pennies more, to save time and money.

    Whidbey Island is our goal with it's unique isolated island setting.
    Mulkiteo Ferry landing was down more hills. $55 for the trip across the Puget Sound to Whidbey Island. Nice ride on large ferry to Clinton landing followed by departure on highway toward the City of Oak Harbor 'Staysail RV Park'. $20 a night w full hookups was a great deal for two pleasant evenings stay.

    15 August Oak Harbor:
    depart for a 20 mile side trip north over Scenic Deception Pass bridge. It was the site of a film shoot for VW commercial as we waited in traffic. Fidelgo Island in the Jeep to Anacortes was enjoyable for the chance to see the ship yards and the downtown area. Anacortes ferry terminal was extremely busy in the past.... before the need for passports to return into USA from visiting Canada's British Columbia. Include the obnoxiously indebted US dollar's decline against the more conservative Canadian Dollar.. Ahh the past, so enjoyable it ...was. Interesting sea faring dependent Anacortes has a nice RV park south of town on the tidewater flats. Anacortes is also accessable from a highway rather than the way we 'ferried'.

    8-16 Jeep round trip visit to touristy, expensive Coupeville, Freeland and Langley before return to our park site.

    8-17 left in coach for the Port Townsend Ferry. Boarded first in line for agreat view of the voyage while sitting in our seats. A 30 minute trip across the sound to the quaint little town of Port Townsend was fine entertainment. A night at the Harbor RV park at $35 was our chance at the last available site. We were not going to stay overnight here, but the little town was too attractive to pass up. Temperatures for this trip ended pleasantly at lows in the mid 40's at night, 70 during the days, compared to highs of near 90 during a few earlier days of the trip.

    The shipyards are busy with repairs and rejuvination of the commercial fishing boats. Port Townsend boatyard allows the owner to supply his own restoration crew rather than forcing the owner to use the boatyard's crews on 'their' terms.

    This 'Freedom' makes it the busiest and most sought boatyard on the coast for it's size. The 300 ton lifting rig was impressive. Pleasure craft with numerous 'for sale' signs, were mostly stored in dry dock at Anacortes. Economy not as well as reported? Or winter approaching?

    Our harbor camp site has a great view of the sound with it's numerous sail boats, ferries and container ships passing in front of our coach. I parked the coach in the opposite direction for the view, to the concern of some regulation obsessed neighbors. They asked "Can you do that"? :>)

    Port townsend harbor RV park is quite interesting, especially if you get a nice site that looks out to the water. Interest in wooden boats is a major attraction here. Pygmy Wooden strip Kayaks are just one of the beautiful little craft created here. Sailing lessons are often observed as the little 'Rubber Ducky' Zodaic coaches the novice sailing regattas perfecting their skills.

    Next night was spent at Fall's View National Park. $5 per night w Golden Age Pass. Seal Rock was nicer at $9 per night, but filled. Oysters and clamming, fishing in general are the attractions around the Hood Canal.

    Fall's View hiking trail was 1.5 miles entailing switchbacks and a vertical drop of 440 feet. It was hot and humid in the 'jungle' along the trail. The Falls are nice trickles from the mountainside this time of year. Probably wild in the spring snowmelt. Big River rocks with their rapids are more like big whitewater kayak fun this time of year. We stayed two nights to allow the busy family weekend to pass before we continued our trip west to the coast.

    Scenic highway 101 is always a treat as we approached Shelton Washington. Restock of supplies at Walmart and Fred Meyer store. Goodwill yielded a few treasures :>) Greys Beach State Park, near where many concrete bunkers remain from historic coastal defence was full, lighthouse was pretty but ranger sent us to nearby Twin Harbors State Park with it's 300 spaces in the trees. Full hook-up sites were crowded together and not as nice as the lesser dry camping we chose, a private little park in itself.

    Side trip in Jeep back 20 miles to Aberdeen Washington where the rail road and marine supplies for the seasonal fishing industry keep the town intact. Westport's theme is commercial fishing and the Ferry Port near 'the strip' of quick restaurants and gift shops. Maritime museum has skeleton of a whale as it's marker. Pacific Ocean beach is a few hundred yards from our site. After our time of absence, we Love to hear the roar of the waves again.

    8-23 leave Twin Harbors:
    Enter CAPE DISSAPOINTMENT...named so, after Capt Meares was dissapointed to find it Not the mouth of the Columbia River. Still in all, it is wonderful. He only missed by a mile:>) Lewis and Clark left lots of notes about this area. After being trapped at 'Dismal Niche' on the Columbia River for many days, It was their first sighting of the Pacific Ocean. "O the Joy"..

    This amenity loaded state park is always filled now. Reservations are a neccessity unless you can aquire a cancellation early in the morning. The large circular paved and tree shaded pods nearest to the ocean are in demand up to a year in advance. Sometimes you can be lucky early in the morning..... if someone has died :>)

    We take whatever is available while we travel an open agenda and make no reservations. This few nights camp was near the office in an open park near the little store. We drove to the nearby ocean on days we desired to walk through the access paths to the shoreline beaches. The two Lighthouses are beautiful at night. The trails to the lighthouses are open for hiking. North Head light is open for visitors not far from the interesting Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

    The Cape Dissapointment lighthouse overlooking the north jetty, is maintained by the nearby coast guard station but hiking is still open to look out to sea from it's high vantage point. Hiking is a major attraction as the numerous trails are well marked. Bicycles are everywhere kids care to ride.

    The late 1800's Jetty construction with it's intricately engineered ancient rail trestles still visible, is intriquiging to explore and visualize taking place over the ten years of intense labor and expense after the USA emerged from the Civil War. A new land mass is forming on the sides of the jetties as the massive basalt rock (from Idaho) structures collect sand driven northward by the ocean's winter currents. Seals and Sea Lions rest here during migration.

    The new little brick oven pizza stand near the popular 'Waikiki Beach' (near special events amphitheater) is also a vendor supplied wifi hot spot. Enjoy the good food, but prepare to wait. This big state park is now busy most of the time. Co-pilot suspects that more folks are now RV'ing while exploring the USA instead of world travel.

    The waves are 'lively' during the stormy winter months. Fort Canby is not far, and quite a fascinating historical restoration complete with cannons and museum. We drive the Long Beach Peninsula to visit the lttle towns like 'Long Beach'. Little Ilwaco and it's harbor is another great little treasure. Picked up my mailed general delivery NM driver's licence in Ilwaco post office :>)

    Ambiance of the Peninsula is rural and layed back except for tourist season when the traffic is heavy. Cranberry Festival as well as many other special events are celebrated seasonally. Public Access to the 'Long Beach' on the Pacific Ocean is available all along the stretch of miles north along this Washington state peninsula. 'Jack's is our favorite general store with is 'back to the past' nostalgia atmosphere. Historic little Oysterville is wonderful, especially if you like Oysters to grill in the shell for super.

    8-28: Left Cape Dissapointment State Park Washington:
    To cross the fascinating Astoria-Meglar Bridge into Oregon. It is quite the experience to cross the unpredictable ocean on a bridge. The mouth of the Columbia River is five miles wide at this point, so you are virtually crossing the ocean. Fishing season is in full swing now in last days, so the boats are in abundance.

    Grumman's experimental 'Plainview' turbine fast boat is at eternal rest five miles east of the bridge on the Washington side, if you are interested in a bit of history laying in the mud.

    The south end of the over five mile long bridge, climbs a high grade to allow international shipping to pass below to Portland and beyond on their way up-river. Astoria has the wonderful Coast Guard Maritime Museum that will take easily a day to see. The restored Pilot boat is on display in the parking lot in case you miss the entrance. The Columbia Lightship and other vessels are tied at dock on display and tour. Great Fish and Chips are served at the fishing boat in the park across the street. Check out the interesting 'drive on' docks.

    8-28 arrive Ft Stevens:
    Astoria is our daily return site from the Ft Stevens State Park just west and south of Astoria. The Astoria Tower is to be seen if you like looking at the Columbia River layout from altitude. One dollar gets you a year's parking and a tad more lets you climb up inside the tower. Do not miss all of the 'Lewis and Clark' exhibits along this Columbia River including Tort Clatsop near Astoria. Their incredible story is told at many stops along the north western route of their historic 'Voyage of Discovery'.

    Fort Stevens is a really nice and very big Oregon State Park with many treesy campsites. We always find one, but maybe have to move a bit if reserved. Nice rangers/hosts and very accomodating.... even when the sign outside says 'Full', they usually find something.

    Seasonal evening Ranger Talks are a fine way to learn about the area. I liked "The Graveyard of the Pacific" talks about the shipwrecks. The Peter Iredale, an iron hulled sailing ship is the resident 'shipwreck' not far from the campsites. It is gradually diminishing after it's questionable demise about a hundred years ago.

    4x4 Driving on the beach is most times allowed if the sand is stable. Don't try the loose dry sand uless you have mega tires and high clearance. We drive the moist shoreline to see the sea birds and watch the people play along the ocean's waves. We love the ceaseless roar of the waves.

    A real treat is getting a campsite at any coastal park near enough to listen the Roar all night. The columbia River south jetty has an observation tower to watch the waves in action. Winter storms will deffinetly wet your body. Surf boarders and para foil surfers were in competition on one day. Great atheletes with stamina.

    Definetly tour the historic fort with it's deep concrete bunkers and numerous massive cannon emplacements. The tours are a 'must do' with historic explanations of it's importance and cutting edge technology. It was fired upon by a Japanese Sub during WWII.

    8-31 left Ft Stevens:
    Oregon Coastal drives are always fun, even with a big coach. Cannon Beach is a tourist destination with it's boutique shops and eating establishments. Our destination is Kelly's Brighton Marina, a small crabbing and fishing RV park right on the tidal bay.

    Looking out the window to see the dozens of seagulls come in at sunset for their familar roosting on the log breakwater, is a quiet pleasure. Kelly will fix you up with a few crabs, boiling them as well, or let you catch your own for a nice Dungeness Crab dinner. Rent his boats and equipment for a better chance at some seafood. Wild blackberries are all along the abandoned RR tracks. I picked over 5 lbs within a mile before sunset. Good on my breakfast :>)

    02 September:
    Left Kelly's on scenic drive over the high mountain coastal road. Manzanita is far below the pullouts. Do not miss any of the Pullouts or you will miss some unforgettable scenery of post card subjects. San Dune Pub is a good Fish and Chips joint in Manzanita. Para foils pull little sand buggys to entertain watchers. Kites and the beaches are always in happy union.

    Our next Cape Meares State Park was full, so we were advised to check out a list provided by the ranger. Little Tillamook River Park looked the best for us. The tidewater affected Trask and Tillamook river define it's embanked perimeter. Met an AF officer and his wife, he is of the Royal Danish AF 722 sqn Rescue M-504. I now have a small decal of his Merlin Helo with a smiling face. He was leaving to return to duty after his tour of the west coast of the USA. Flying over the north sea must be quite challenging to say the least. We often meet fellow RV'ers of fascinating backgrounds during our tours.

    The first day while having lunch in the coach, we heard a loud explosian and the power went out. A Great Blue Heron landed on the top ground wire and touched it's wing to one of the 12,500 volt phase wires.

    The entire Cape Meares peninsula was out of power, the big bird exploded. His expresson looked surprised (I got a few feathers ;>). The power company reset the breaker within the next hour. Cows are everywhere around Tillamook, including the fields near the RV park, due to the Cheese factory, it's only industry remaining other than some logging operations. Oregon 'pollution' regulations are difficult to abide by, so farming is a challenge. Diapers soon on the cows? :>)

    Traveling and camping the popular scenic 101 coast on holidays is tough without reservations. little Tillamook River RV Park was great for our style of side trips to see Tillamook each day. Tillamook Cheese Factory is a great tour. Love their yogurt and ice cream. They make good sandwiches as well. The Historic Air Museum in the classic dirigible hanger is a 'don't miss'. The old hanger (largest wooden structure) may be torn down some day, so see it before it's gone.

    Tillamook HS team is 'The Cheese Makers'... don't laugh or they will make 'cheese' of your favorite team :>) The scenic 'Three Capes' drive will occupy a couple of trips. Part of the road is gone now so prepare for detours. See the Cape Meares Light house. It is a short hike and takes tours during the day.

    Oregon Cycle Club is riding the coastline 101 this week so bicyclists are in abundance, thousands of them to watch for on each mile of the coast highway, ending their ride in southern Oregon at Port Orford. International and domestic bicycle riders are always on this highway as are motorcycles.

    06 Sep left Tillamook River RV Park:

    Coastal highway 101 to Newport Oregon:
    Over it's beautiful Gothic Bridge engineered by Conde McCullough, notorious Oregon highway engineer. It took only 200 men about 2 years to build, and it still is georgeous. $3.83 fuel Jeep. Newport Marina RV park is so nice with a laundry facility and fine evening view of the lighted bridge, we stayed for several nights.
    Keith the local 'Popeye' is still on patrol, living with his wife on a classic sailing boat while working for the marina.

    NOAA has recently built it's Pacific Coast headquarters near the marina. The big popular Aquarium is nearby, as well as the old seaport with it's busy fishing fleet. Lots of things to visit around historic Newport including lighthouses, so take your time and don't rush away. Travel upriver for more interesting villages from the past. Logging is Oregon's heritage, so be sure and observe where it all took place.

    In the past, Newport Cafe was our fav, this time friendly Monica's teen aged daughter waited on us with facial orifice piercings and tats. Monica's husband no longer does the cooking. We now Really enjoy the little Crab restaurant on the south end of the Newport Bridge, not far from the marina park.

    Sept 11 left Newport:
    Florence Oregon is our fuel topoff at Fred Meyers (Kroger affiliate) for $3.64 with card. Florence is the start of the miles of huge sand dunes lining the ocean and growing big forests in their sand mountains.

    Arrived at Winchester Bay 4:30 pm, choosing to stay on the marina paved lot dry camp for $12 a night, rather than the full hookup sites. Nightly patrol of the docks showed the familiar commercial fishing boats still intact. Many dozens of 'crabbers' were coming and going through the boat launch area. Two men at the cleaning table had their limit within an hour or so. Due to the river entrance angle, no Tsunami damage here. Grizzly was in port with a couple of other commercial fishing boats, Ocian was at sea.

    The Lighthouse (Many on the Oregon coast) is still beautiful with it's massive red and clear Fresnel lens (valued at over $7 million dollars today) still rotating in spite of budget cuts to US Coast Guard threatening to bring it to a halt. The little museum at the lighthouse is still open. The exquisite and huge sand dunes around this area are the main attraction, filling the RV parks with dune buggy/motorcycle/ATV enthusiasts.

    Cassie's Unger's Bay floating restaurant is still the attraction at her private 'T' Dock off the marina parking lot near the office. Wonderful fish and chips along with her resident wild duck familys quietly quacking for a handout. Fun to watch them swim around the restaurant. Met Cassie (still very pretty) and told her how much we love her food and unique little cafe. Thank you Cassie for a bright spot in our evenings.

    13 September left Winchester Bay;
    Arrive Coo's Bay Oregon at 'The Mill' Casino:
    More scenery as we drive along the always favorite Oregon Coastal highway. Another great bridge to cross the Coo's River. Nightly registration is No charge at dry camping lot.

    We chose it over the well appointed grassy RV sites here, due to our unpredictable needs. An evening in the casino left us a few dollars poorer in exchange for the few nights stay. Cape Asago is beautiful and the historic Louis Simpson story about his life and house site is interesting to research at the view center near the gardens gift shop. Special events are often held at this park.

    The scenery of this rugged coast is a painters viewpoint seen often in art galleries. Ships with their own loaders, are patiently waiting for 'their' logs at the docks not far from the downtown river walk docks. Japan requires them for their Tsunami rebuilding effort. Many are 'milled' into boards in much more economical China.

    Some of 'Japan's logs 'milled' in China, are supposedly finding their way back to the US to be sold in stores for profit necessary to fund their rebuilding effort. Leftist Liberal (no shortage of that in economically depressed Oregon as well as the Pacific coast) Political anger is apparent.

    Japan owns the logs as they now also own 'their' US forests (we, needing cash, sold them), so we have no business telling them what they they can or cannot do with 'Their' logs. Especially in the name of 'creating' US jobs for political gain. When the spend crazy US govt is forced to 'Sell the Farm' to pay it's bills, the hay goes along with the deal..

    Sept 14 left Coo's Bay:
    Brooking's Harbor is our 7 day paradise overlooking the Pacific Ocean sea wall at the port marina RV park.
    Age is becoming apparent at the tight 30 amp parking sites. The crushed rocks sand logged and are no longer able to coax the water under the surface, so mud is often unavoidable.

    Michaelle, using her skills on re-arranging RV park reservations was able to find us a site (someone died :>)for a couple of nights and then move us to another for the duration of the week. The last night is free. Michaelle came from Klamoth Falls in 2004 to seek her fortune managing the RV park office.

    Ray, the resident 'live aboard' is still active. He told of the damage from the Japanese Tsunami flooding and draining the harbor five times, destroying the classic wooden three masted Sea Whelp. When they tried to lift it with the hoisting straps, it exploded into it's base components. Oh well it lived for over a hundred years. The 5/8" bolts were rusted to 1/4" so restoration was almost impossible on this 90 footer.

    Several docks and boats were destroyed, as visible on You Tube. Josia (fishing boat) was finished in repairs and undergoing her sea trials when the captain left the controls for a minute. She ran aground in the jettys and was destroyed during removal causing great financial loss for her owners. Another old wooden boat, she now lies in pieces at the boat salvage yard.

    'Pineapple' the displaced Hawiian is still fabricating crab nets. The public fishing pier is still busy with happy customers casting his traps and retrieving crabs. A family affair, the pier is busy in each season. The nearby US Coast Guard Station is still busy taking to sea, in training for the winter storms.

    Brookings is comprised of many angled streets hiding it's treasures. The rock outcropping (the Point) from the treatment station is still shaking from each big wave. Exciting to hike to it's high vantage point and feel the shudders under your feet. Fred Meyers is our supply depot. Anything needed is available in Brookings so it is usually busy at all times of day.

    21 September left Brooking's on 101 coastal highway:
    After tank dump and water refill, we left to fill the propane at the top of the hill station before leaving for our escape south on 101 across the California state line.

    Driving south to cross the California state line and the always present 'Border Patrol' of California. Nice stop...this time, no 'Boarding search' like last year. Only question was about fruit. Crescent City was a lunch destination at Jack in the Box. Great food by the way. Crescent City Harbor was the scene of wave damage (You Tube) from the Tsunami.

    One time we chose to take the 101 California coastal route. Traffic is horrendous in California. We were forced to pull over every few minutes to allow passing. The drive through the scenic Redwood Forest on 99 is much better and a treat like Yellowstone, but shorter in duration.

    The oncoming log trucks are always intimidating, especially on one narrow blind curve. We met no trucks on the curve.... this time. The loop back into Oregon is the only southern route to get back to Interstate 5, which is our planned return highway through northern Cal. Medford Ore is similar in weather ambiance to Albuquerque NM.

    The working economy is better in Medford than the coastal cities, which are more tourist fluctuated. The western states are suffering from unemployment officially under reported. Many groups of homeless and unemployed were encountered on this trip. Logging is still the main but limited source of jobs. Japan needs the lumber from 'Their' owned US forests to rebuild. Coos Bay docks have export flagged freighters waiting for loads of 'Their' logs from the trucks.

    Left Medford after a night at Walmart. While there, we met a homeless family that at least has one member still proudly employed as a tow truck driver. They are staying in the Walmart lot, living in campers until inevitably being forced to move on. A couple and mother-in-law, along with three young girls. We helped them with a few girls small gifts and McDonald's gift cards to ease their weak financial drudgery.

    September 22 Left Medford Walmart:
    Highway I-5 is always interesting to travel with Mt Shasta's peek-a-boo a main attraction. The snow cap is less than last year and Lake Shasta is down again. Last year was record near filled and hard to beat.

    September 22 Corps of Engineers Black Butte Reservoir:
    is still nice and seldom has crowds during the after summer months. Drier year, so no preponderance of Deer and of course no magnificent resident Cougar like in years past. Acorns are fewer, so not as many red headed 'Acorn Woodpecker' flocks to watch flit about. Blubirds are still mirror sitters on the coach. After a wise Yuba City Sam's Club top-fill $3.76 gal for fuel tank, we Left for our climb over Donner Pass. The climb to the 7,000 foot summit is slow in first and second gear with fuel consumption obvious on the guage. Yuba City Cal fill was still not enough to comfortably make the Provo/Orem Utah Costco.

    We spent the night just east of the scenic pass at the Spaulding Reservoir Campground. Never imagined that the entrance road was so narrow and winding down a steep grade to the surprising site of the 'closed' camp entrance. Sending copilot further down hill in the now disconnected Jeep for re-con, we then drove down the steep one lane with it's drop off edges through the close trees and parked on the lot near the boat launch ramp for $22.

    Nice lake used for Hydro-electric power, but not really an entrance road for a large motorhome to access. I slept fitfully thinking how best to manage the escape in the morning. The Co-pilot drove the Jeep using it to block the one lane road at the top. The CB radios came in useful to tell me when to start the mad run up the hill with the coach. First gear barely was geared low enough even at 4,000 rpm of the engine. Swinging that long 24,000 lb mass of coach through the trees was daunting, even after a trial run in the Jeep earlier.

    Donner Pass Highway to I-80 is under new construction, so Donner Pass was not the nightmare of last year. Fact of heavy rigs, First and second gear upgrade are repeated on the downhill runs as well. Nevada State line is casino littered naturally.

    Reno Nevada was another top-fill of fuel, just to be sure of Orem Utah fuel stop. Motorcycle events were the reason for thousands of motorcycles on the great circle to Reno. An 'undressed' Elk with large rack, was our only sighting of note. On an ATV in the back of a pick up truck, it was bound for a ride across the I-80. Sure it will taste good after the miles of highway?

    To cross into Nevada is interesting due to the beginning of flat dry lakes at 4,000 ft altitude. Lake Bonneville was large in it's historic day. The 4,000 foot dry lake beds are repeated all across this interesting terrain to Salt Lake City Utah. Elko Nevada was our Walmart stop overnight on the hill overlooking the little town. The sight of large oil drips covering the parking lots, indicate very high mileage older vehicles in abundance. The hint of a very depressed economy.

    The crossing has sometimes been interesting with 'Dugway' rocket firings easily observable from the highway. Wendover was McDonald's lunch. The trucks that haul the overly large equipment for govt testing, are seen on this route. Utah has the Great Salt Lake basin which covers a hundred miles in front of us. Flat and straight, the highway has many warnings of 'Drowsiness' puntuated by examples of it's effects...large tracks leading off the highway into the salt beds.

    Salt Lake City is prosperous to no end. Every manufacturer is doing well and many are expanding. A boom is always taking place somewhere in Utah. Their politics are definetly more conducive to Free Enterprise than restrictive states like Oregon with it's high un-employment. A corridor of prosperity south through Provo to Orem, is lined with no less than three Costco stores to satisfy the consumers appetites. Mining and other activities distateful to the Eco Terrorists, are obviously carrying on as needed in Utah. Orem Costco is our fill at $3.50, the lowest on the trip so far.

    South of Salt Lake City begins the drop into the valley through 'Helper'. Named for it's Helper engines used to get trains over the Soldier Summit. The night drive was nasty in headlight blindness due to bugs covering the windshield and a washer failure on the wipers. Following is little 'Price' Utah with it's Walmart lot for the night. The oil spots are visible in Price as well. Not the boom town of Salt Lake City.

    Leaving Price, heading for Moab Utah is the beginning of the Canyonlands National Recreation Area. No loss of impressive scenery on this drive. Keep the camera at the ready for the large outcropopings of rocks, they are always fascinating to record. Moab is a tourist destination with Jeeps an all sorts of offroad recreation to tour or drive in rentals. The motels and campgrounds area always filled in this wild and Free area of the western USA.

    As we leave south eastern Utah and enter western Colorado, the irrigation system favors a wasteful 'spray high into the air' method of randomly wetting the crops. Apparently they have not gotten the word to conserve water? Cortez Colorado near famous Mesa Verde is our last link to New Mexico.

    Sunshine has been following us for over a week now, after leaving Brooking's Harbor Oregon. New Mexico is always sunny and Shiprock is visible on the southern horizon. Farmington Sam's Club is our fuel stop at $3.40 a gallon followed by a quiet night's stay on their grassy side before leaving to ABQ.

    The Conoco Station in town has a sewer dump site for those interested. The 200 miles to ABQ is nice and relaxing on a good highway. The difference was most noticeable in comparison to the Colorado highway leading south out of Cortez, our worst section of highway on the entire trip. 55 mph was way to fast for that undulating and broken stretch of Colorado pavement.

    As we drove into the ABQ Sam's Club for our last fill at $3.05 per gallon, home was in the air. Too bad we didn't risk the run on the last few gallons, not filling at Farmington.

    Picture descriptions will soon periodically be added day by day to follow as we moved across the western states and down the northwest Pacific Ocean coast.

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