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Oregon Coast
Monday, June 11, 2012: We returned from the Oregon coast last evening. We rented a car again thinking it would save us money and be more comfortable to do so but this time, it may NOT be cheaper. This should have been the ideal weekend plan to save money renting a car, I'll explain why later in the story why this may not be the case. The photo above is of Heceta Head where the Heceta Lighthouse is located but it is shrouded and virtually invisable due to repairs to the Lighthouse. Click the photo for another view.

Cape Meares, Oregon Coast


One of our first stops was at the Cape Meares Lighthouse near Tillamook, Oregon. This lighthouse was in operation until the 60's when it was replaced by an automatic beacon. It is an example of the multi-layered lens which when rotating had alternating red and white light. We were looking out over the Pacific Ocean on a stormy night imagining how important this lighthouse was to ships as much as 100 years ago or more. It was raining while we were exploring, we were wishing we could have turned on the lighthouse. It would also had been nice if we could have visited the gift shop, just next door to the lighthouse but it closed at 4 pm. Click the photo for another view. This first night was spent at the "Western Royal Motel" which was $66 plus $10 for Morgan plus tax, making it $83. The Ashley motel down the street wanted $150 and the Sheriton wanted $135. Gwen thought the room was dirty, I thought it was noisy, too close to Highway 101.

Sand castle competition

Sandcastle engineering


Tuesday, June 12, 2012: Our goal for the weekend was to visit the sandcastle competion in Canon Beach, Oregon. Gwen and Morgan were the first to arrive. This is an annual event but our first time to visit. We were surprised when we arrived in Canon Beach to be directed to drive onto the beach for parking near the competition. The Canon Beach police and community volunteers had the parking and event well under control. The beach was crowded with parked cars and then crowded with sandcastle spectators. We were relatively early and tried to leave (I'll explain later) about an hour before the judging so we did not see the finished projects but only the project in progress. Rain was threatening early but slowly cleared which, I'm sure, was a relief to the builders. The contest was dividing into experience and age groups so there was a whole section of the beach set aside for children to build castles. This was obviously a fun day for the builders but a bit chilly as you can tell from the way spectators are bundled up. It was a busy day for the restaurants in Canon Beach. We had lunch at Mo's, an Oregon Coast chain restaurant and one with a good clam chowder reputation. We both enjoyed the chowder and so did many others. Mo's did a very good job handling the large crowd. We enjoyed our time on the beach watching the crowds and contestants. Click any of the photos for another view.

As it turned out, the parking crew directed us onto some soft sand so we were stuck waiting for the person parked behind us to leave so we could back onto a solid base. After waiting an hour, so local crew of volunteers showed up to push us into an area of the sand where our rented car could hold its own weight.

Beach panorama
Oregon Coast Steam Train Farmer Market in downtown Yachats
Wednesday, June 13, 2012: On Sunday we began the trip back to Sutherlin. Ahead, I spotted a live steam train engine pulling several cars full of tourists. Actually, as I stood in front of the engine waiting for it to begin pulling down the track, the engine built up steam, rang the bell, blew the horn and began backing. As it turned out, it backed for 30 minutes to where the tour began (no turn around for the engine). I drove ahead and took a photo of the caboose arriving at the starting point FIRST. Click the engine to see the caboose arriving. Next, we visited the Yachats Farmer's Market and found no vegetables, it's too early, but did find crafts people and a photographer who used a flying camera to take aerial photos of anything people would pay him for. Click the farmer's market to see the flying camera. It's always great for me to visit the Oregon coast, there are lots of memories for me on the coast. I've ridden the coast, bicycle touring three times so there were many times I passed a camping location, a special restaurant or retail store I visited during my previous trips and the experience of seeing them again brought back all the good memories.

Unleaded is more expensive than diesel

Thursday, June 14, 2012: I've come to the part of the story where our plan to save money by renting a car may not work this time. It worked before. This time, I got talked into the extra insurance policy which doubled the car rental fee. The agent explained that our insurance would pay for damage repairs less our deductible (which I already knew) but he went on to explain that our insurance would NOT pay for loss of income to the agency while the car could not be rented. So without the extra insurance, we would essentially have to pay to rent the car until it was repaired. Of course, any driving is always a gamble and one always hopes to NOT have an accident but that's why they call them accidents. We will have to consider the risk more carefully when we rent next time. Another factor we had not expected, the price of fuel fell and in most cases, diesel was less expensive than unleaded, unusual! I did find a fuel location where the price of unleaded was the same as diesel, $3.99 per gallon. So the car rental fee including fuel for three days amounted to $182.21. The price of diesel alone for the round trip to Canon Beach and return would have been $135. So the savings for this trip was not as clear as the savings in previous trips. Another interesting part of this story, when we returned the car on Sunday night and approached the key-dropbox, I noticed the lock to the box on the ground and the box door open exposing all the returned keys inside. Anyone would have their pick of any car in the lot from about a dozen keys. There was no "emergency phone number" posted on the door so I called the "800" Enterprise number. The person answering the phone seemed confused but said she would take care of it. I immediately heard the phone ringing inside the empty office building. I decided NOT to leave the lot until I called "911" and reported what I had found. Within a few minutes a young Roseburg policeman arrived. I learned from him that the Enterprise manager had been called and was about 15 minutes from arriving. The police officer said he would wait so Gwen and I left after a long day of driving.

Preparing for a giant garage sale
Friday, June 15, 2012: Tomorrow is a whole park garage sale. The residents set up on the huge lawn at the entrance to the park and pay $5 per space so the park gets a little bit of profit too. Many residents have set up today and plan to stay with their stuff overnight. The sale opens early, 7am so we plan to get down their early to find all the treasures. Click the photo for another view.
The anuual yard sale at Timber Valley SKP RV Park
Saturday, June 16, 2012: We got up early today for the annual Timber Valley yard sale which stretched from one end of the lawn to the other. The sale began at 7am and we got to the sale about 7:10am. These folks do have a lot of stuff to sell and much I might have purchased if we had our lot (for example, extra stabilizer jacks, woodworking power equipment and other hand tools). As it turned out, Gwen purchased several books on CD and a measuring cup while I purchased a water filter. The best treasure we bought was a new shower head for $3. We both had a sweet roll then came home to wait for the Charter cable installer. We were offered a Charter receiver for free and since we are nearing membership in this park and expect to be here again this year and next year, we chose to get it. It will only work in this park but will be a nice benefit when we visit. The garage sale today was very much like the Park Sierra auction except this was open to the public and sales by individual residents rather than a single auctioneer. The auction at Park Sierra benefited the park, NOT the residents (except that the auction proceeds are used to finance entertainment events for the park). The garage sale at Timber Valley benefited mostly the residents with only small exhibit fees and "Jack & Jill" sales going to the park. The sale was well attended in the morning hours which is when I expect most of the buyers arrived since it was a warm day. Click the photo to enlarge.

Father's Day card from Chloe and Noah


Sunday, June 17, 2012: Today is Father's Day so I spent my time riding my bike in the morning but home in time to write, "David Letterman's Top Ten Reasons to Park at Timber Valley" for a friend here at the park who wants to do more marketing of the park. Gwen says "it's not funny enough", so I will have to discuss the idea with my friend to learn what he likes. Then it was time for root beer floats at the clubhouse. Click the photo to see the group who, like me, could not pass up the attraction to a root beer float. The photo is of a card I received from Chloe and Noah, my grandchildren. My daughter also sent me a gift card for, my favorite place to shop. Gwen fixed some great fish for dinner. Now she's off to play games at the clubhouse and I'm working on the Web page while watching the weather channel. I think we are going to watch the science fiction show, "Falling Skies", together, later tonight.

Costco price sign


Monday, June 18, 2012: This day was a "down" day but part of the day I ended up in Costco and today I learned something I have not known before. I've been a member of Costco nearly from the beginning of Costco history. Costco likes to create a "treasure hunt" experience for members. They do that by selling items Costco buyers find which are exceptional value or somewhat unique. But these treasures are available only while the supply lasts. If you are a Costco member, you know what I'm talking about. If you see a "treasure" today, you better buy it today because tomorrow it will be gone. Well, today I overheard a Costco employ explaining how to know if an item is here today and will not be restocked when the supply is gone. In the photo, the price tag shows the Costco order number, description and price. In the top right of the tag is a large asterisk. The asterisk marks items which will be gone when the supply is gone. The next time you're in Costco, look for the asterisk, another way to find the treasures.

The horse races at the Chapter 9 rally
Tuesday, June 19, 2012: Today was the first day of the Escapee Chapter 9 rally happening right here at Timber Valley SKP Park. Registration with coffee and rolls began at 10am. About 60 - 80 participants showed up. Then we played our first game, name tag bingo. Each participant gathered names onto a bingo card then a caller pulled names from a hat until someone yelled "bingo". Foot long hot dogs for lunch then came the horse races. Yes, Gwen got to be one of the horses. On the table to the left you see Jurdice throwing three dice while Fred called the race. There are six horses, one through six on the dice. When your number was thrown, your horse got to advance a space on the floor. Everyone got to bet on the horses, 10¢ per bet. The betting turned the game into lots of fun, just like real horse racing. You can click the photo for another view. After a short rest, it was time for social hour and potluck snacks. The last event of the day was the card game, Po-Ke-No, played with pennies. This is what RV folks do when retired and together to enjoy each other, food and games and lots of talking.

Bocci Ball at Timber Valley

Wednesday, June 20, 2012: The Chapter 9 rally continues today but before joining the fun, I grabbed the zero-turn mower and mowed the huge lawn above our unit again for the third time since arriving. After lunch, Gwen and I joined the rally at the Bocci Ball court where we learned to play the game. Click the photo for a wider view, especially of the golf cart spectators. As it turned out, Gwen is the better player and her team won. We barely finished the Bocci Ball game in time for a quick dinner then off to Bingo. Gwen always attends but this is my first time. I won two games at $4 prize per game which put us ahead by $4. Then we purchased 6 cards each for black-out which cost a total of $6. And... would you believe it, Gwen won black-out for a $30 prize. So tonight we are ahead when playing bingo. I'm still not convinced enough to play Bingo each week.

Preparing baked potatoes for the Chapter 9 potluck

Thursday, June 21, 2012: Chapter 9 provided lunch (sandwiches) and dinner (baked potatoes). Of course this rally, like most of the Escapee rallies has lots of food. The baked potatoes were huge and lots of stuff to put on top of the potato; chili, cheese, chives, sour cream, butter and bacon bits. The rally attendees brought desserts to share so we had lots of choices for sweet stuff after finishing the potatoes. So we over-ate as usual and then drove to Roseburg to pick up Gwen's new glasses. Click the photo to see a panorama of the room full of hungry members and a table in the middle with lots of desserts.

Watching the Long, Long Trailer together in the clubhouse

Friday, June 22, 2012: Today was raining so we did what old folks do on a rainy afternoon, we watched a movie together in the clubhouse. Gwen and I picked the "loge" seats then watched "The Long, Long Trailer" with Desi and Lucy, made in 1953. It was pretty funny, especially for RVers to be watching this movie about neophytes learning to pull and live in a trailer. It's hard to imagine a 1953 Mercury convertable pulling a 40 foot trailer but Nicky continued to say it weighed only 3 tons (6,000 lbs) so perhaps that's possible. Our fifth wheel weighs closer to 8 tons and is only 36 feet long so apparently trailers were much lighter in those days. Of course, after Tacy (Lucy) fills the trailer with rocks and preserves, it was much heavier. It was a fun way to spend the afternoon. I tried to get some comments and cheering going from the viewers but they didn't catch on and Gwen kept telling ME to "be quiet". These folks need to learn how to enjoy a movie together!

Preparing an electric car for street travel

Saturday, June 23, 2012: There are lots of golf carts at all the Escapee parks and Timber Valley is no different. The carts are used to travel around the park to attend clubhouse functions, haul propane tanks to refill location, and drive to the laundry room. A few of the residents want to do more with their electric vehicles so they purchased a GEM electric vehicle which is legal on city streets up to 35 MPH. My next door neighbor "JW" owns one of those and recently got the license from the DMV. Now he and Carole, his wife, can use the electric vehicle to drive anywhere roads lead at 35 MPH or less. At Timber Valley that means groceries, post office, hardware store, restaurants and the library are all available by electric vehicle. They are about $4,000 more than a golf cart. I like the idea of an electric vehicle but this one has limitations and the cost is considerably more than a golf cart. I'm not sure a person could drive it into town enough to justify the extra cost.

Lunch with friends, Rich and Alice

Sunday, June 24, 2012: Today was special because our friends Rich and Alice came to visit and see the area. Rich and Alice are from Grants Pass but they like to visit this area for the antique stores. We chose to have lunch at Tolly's Restaurant in Oakland, a location they know well and one of our favorites too. After lunch, we walked through Oakland visiting the many antique stores. Alice found exactly what she was looking for, a gift for her mother. The whole city of Oakland is an "antique" so it's appropriate that it have many antique stores. We enjoyed shopping together, Alice is a particularly good shopper.

Gwen with Jane, a Timber Valley original

Tuesday, June 26, 2012: Today was a special day for us. We drove to Roseburg with long-time, original Timber Valley resident, Jane who has a choice lot overlooking the entire park. The idea for Timber Valley came to Escapees, Chapter 9 back in 1987. Enough interest was generated and registrations began including Jane and her husband. By 1988, the land for the park had been purchased and construction began with much of the work done by the first lot holders of the park. It was great to hear the stories of park development and the news of the current residents. Jane was anxious to show us one of her favorite restaurants in Roseburg then we visited the Dollar Store looking for a special tea cup then on to Costco to buy some dog food for Morgan. Jane's favorite drink is a powdered mocha mix from Costco so she was grateful to visit Costco. We shared a bag of asparagus then Gwen and Jane ended the day with a card game in the clubhouse.

Friends visiting from Alabama

Wednesday, June 27, 2012: I have been writing our travel reports and this Website since 2005 and over the years we've gathered loyal readers. Bob and Lynn have been loyal readers for quite a long while and we hear from them every once in a while. They have just retired from their jobs in Alabama and have decided to take a four month trip across the USA to visit family and friends. We've been tracking them since they began and invited them to stop by Sutherlin to meet us in person. We met at our favorite breakfast locations, The White Horse Coffee Shop then brought them to the park to see what RV living looks like. After our short visit, they were off again to visit the Oregon coast. They aren't new to Oregon but just returning after living in Alabama for a few years. We wish them safe travels.

Calapooia Country Church

Sunday, July 1, 2012: This is the Calapooia Country Church located to the west of Sutherlin and right around the corner from the Rochester Covered bridge. It was built in 1906 by the Southern Episcopal Methodists then sold to Free Methodists in 1932. In 1970 the church was sold to a private party and has been slowly restored to its 1906 condition with only a few changes. One room was used as an antique shop until 2007 but since then the church is used only for weddings. I found the church while on a nice 27 mile bike ride. This is a rural road I found near Calapooia Creek and just around the corner from the Rochester Covered bridge. When I began the ride today, it was solid overcast but slowly began clearing to the partly cloudy sky you see in the photo. Click the photo for a larger view.

First Monday potluck

Monday, July 2, 2012: The day began with Stage 2 of Tour de France then a ride of my own. It's the fresh air, the speed under my own power, the great scenery, the sweat pouring into my eyes, achieving the summit (maybe a little faster than the day before), talking to the cows and sheep as I pass ... that's only a few of the reasons for riding. Maybe I get smarter (or younger) too. The afternoon ended with the first Monday potluck at the clubhouse. Good food.

Decorating the THINK

Wednesday, July 4, 2012: A very busy day. We got up early to help decorate Jerdis and Joan's Ford Think (spelled with an upside down "i"). They are an all electric vehicle made only one year, 2002. General Motors makes the GEM and continues to make them today. At 10am, the golf carts line up for a parade through the park. The leader of the parade must have thought we were in a race because he drove too fast and in a straight line. I got to drive the THINK because Jerdis has an arm in a cast and Joan was kind enough to let me drive. I swirved back and forth on the road honking the horn. A few carts in front of us thought ahead and had candy to throw at spectators. We hadn't thought of that (but we will next year) so I stopped along the parade route and picked up candy off the road so we'd have something to give out when the time came. After the parade came Bocce Ball. Gwen's softball pitching experience make her a "ringer" for whatever team she was on. Everyone wanted her on their team. Then came lots of food. It was a bring-your-own-meet potluck with everyone bringing something else to share. Lots of really good salads, baked beans, pasta and desserts. Click any of the photos for additional views.

Lining up for the golf cart parade Bocci Ball
Diamond Lake Resort Lodge
We enjoyed a buffet breakfast Bummer! Another blowout on Ralph's trailer
A store which must be visited.Sunday, July 8, 2012: This is our first travel day in more than two months. We left Sutherlin early to arrive in two hours at the Diamond Lake Resort Restaurant for breakfast (top photo). You can see the beauty of the area and from our breakfast table. Click any of the photos for additional views. We were on the road again by 10:30am expecting to spend the night in John Day but in less than 100 miles, the King's trailer blew a tire. This is his third blow-out in less than 300 miles. Neither of us have any idea of what is happening with the tires. These are from "Discount Tire Company" also "America's Tire Company" and Ralph has the extended warranty on the tires. We needed to replace the tire in Bend so got permission to camp overnight in the Lowe's parking lot which joins the American's Tire lot. We were fortunate to find a nice private area at the south end of the lot. Except for the midnight, motorized parking lot sweeping, it was a quiet location. Of course, Bend has a large Trader Joe's, a favorite shopping location for both Janet and Ralph so we visited the store. I picked up some "Trader Jose" beer, a Mexican beer with the Trader Joe label so a bit cheaper and just as good as the brand name Mexican beer.
Our campsite in Lowes parking lot for the night

Driving into Eastern Oregon

Monday, July 9, 2012: The tire problem was corrected to Ralph's satisfaction early this morning so we were on the road again early. Eastern Oregon is dry and hot during the summer months except for the few thunderstorms passing through. We were fortunate to be cooled by the thunderheads but no rain. The roads are almost always two lane and sometime serpentine through tiny canyons created by the few rivers and creeks in the area. We were still thinking of camping at the Grant County Fairground in John Day but arrived at noon so decided on lunch instead then driving on looking for something cooler since it was approaching 100 degrees. Our next destination was Sumpter, Oregon hoping to see the Sumpter Dredge tomorrow. We knew we had to climb several mountain passes through the National Forest so hoped for free dispersed (boon-dock) camping off one of the forest service roads. We found exactly what we were looking for near the top of the pass only ten miles from Sumpter. Again, the thunderheads helped to cool us down but no rain. Our campsite is below with us sitting in the shade of a cooling stand of Douglas Fir trees. Click any of the photos for additional views. As evening approached we began to hear forest "night sounds". One of those sounds came from a herd of cattle nearby (photo under the campsite photo). The other sounds were of coyotes and a trumpeting elk nearby. Otherwise, this was a perfectly quiet location. Morgan and Annie approved because they had the freedom of the forest, which they both prefer.

Camping in the National Forest above Sumpter Oregon

The Sumpter Dredge State Park

Tuesday, July 10, 2012: The ladies decided to rest at camp while Ralph and I went exploring in nearby Sumpter. The Sumpter Dredge is one of the Oregon State Parks. This dredge plowed eight miles of gravel in the Powder River drainage near the town of Sumpter. The dredge was in operation from the early 1900's to 1954. It was so costly to run the dredge it could hardly break even with the amount of gold dredged with the cost of dredging. When it finally stopped in 1954 the dredging company was $100,000 in debt.

Each of these buckets weighs more than 2 tonsThe dredging created a huge mess along the Powder River drainage area for eight miles. The 2 ton buckets would dig ahead of the floating dredge machinery dumping the pilings inside where gold and fine sand was separated from the diggings. The "waste" was sent behind the dredge on a 96 foot conveyor belt and dumped making large piles of gravel and rock. These piles are still present and can be seen all over the area. Ralph and I took a short nature hike to view what was left-over after the dredge extracted the gold it was after. The dredge actually created it's own pond by digging ahead and dumping behind. The pond then followed where ever the dredge took it. Over the life of this dredge, it extracted one cubic yard of gold. This particular dredge (the third one built) was in operation from 1935 to 1954. No doubt there are those who would agree that destroying eight miles of Power River Drainage was justified because people had jobs for those 19 years with a bonus of one cubic yard of gold. That's a lot of gold crowns and shiny bracelets. What's left is this state historic park, eight miles of piled rocks/gravel plus lots of steel artifacts (dredge parts and supplies) spread over the eight miles. Meanwhile, the town of Sumpter is empty except for the few businesses selling items to tourists. Ralph and I noticed that virtually every business and home in Sumpter is for-sale. Click the photo for a panorama of the dredge.
Happy Gwen and Morgan on the raod again Chipseal between Halfway and Oxbow, Oregon ... 30 minute wait
Camping at Copperfield Park in Oxbow, OregonWednesday, July 11, 2012: This was a travel day from our relatively cool campsite in the national forest above Sumpter to Oxbow, Oregon, the entrance to Hell's Canyon. You'd we would have learned our lesson about visiting Hell's Canyon in July from our last visit here in 2009. We had breakfast in Baker City at the Sumpter Junction restaurant where a model steam train circles all the tables in the restaurant. I remember that from three years ago so their unique idea and expense of the train must work to bring in repeat customers. Click Gwen's photo to see the train. It is normally a bit more than an hour to drive from Baker City to Oxbow but today was chip seal day and Betty stopped us for 30 minutes in the 100 degree heat. We finally reach our destination hoping for a space at the Copperfield Park to get power to run the air conditioning. It's only 30 amp service but enough to run the A/C. My friend Ralph questioned why I was disappointed in only 30 amp service when we would really like 50 amp service. I explained there is MUCH more difference than 20 amps in the two services. Our 50 amp coach plugs into 220 volt/50 amps. That means we have two separate circuits of 50 amps each running our coach. Enough to run the A/C, hot water heater, refrigerator, microwave (and heat in the winter months). When plugging into 30 amps, we get ONE 30 amp circuit which must be shared between our two circuits so only 15 amps per circuit rather than 50 amps per circuit. If we want to run the microwave, the A/C must be turned off and we don't even try to put the hot water heater on electric. Still, it's nice to have the inside of the coach at 75 degrees when it's 100 degrees outside. Morgan and Annie are under the shade tree next to our coach. We arrived about 1 pm so spent the afternoon finding ways to stay cool and planning our activities for the next few days. This is a busy but quiet campground. We were surprised with how quiet it is since there are several large youth groups here. Click the photo for a panorama of our campsite.

Ralph taking a Hells Canyon photo
Hells Canyon Dam, 23 miles from Oxbow, Oregon Rafters getting ready to launch into Hells Canyon on the Snake River
Friday, July 13, 2012: We crossed the Snake River this morning from Oregon into Idaho to drive 23 miles to the Hells Canyon Dam. It is a big adventure just to drive the Hells Canyon Dam road, narrow, and often very close to the edge of the descent into the Hells Canyon Reservoir. It can also be very hot this time of year making the trip uncomfortable (to step outside the vehicle to explore). We made one stop enroute to allow Ralph to take a photo of the canyon and show off his APP on the iPhone which corrects for haze. Click his photo to view what photo he is taking. About 20 minutes later we arrived at the Hells Canyon Visitor Center to view a short video of the history and wildlife in the area. Hells Canyon Dam is the last dam on the Snake River before it plunges through the canyon and join the Columbia on the way to the Pacific Ocean. The Hells Canyon Adventures jet boats leave from this location and so do rafters looking for a wild ride through the canyon. Click the dam photo for a panorama of the dam and click the rafters for a panorama of the boat launch area and visitor center. I've also created a short video to give you an idea of this launch area, visitor center and the Snake River canyon.

Ralph and Gwen at the Hells Canyon Overlook

Saturday, July 14, 2012: We drove two vehicles from Oxbow to Joseph, Oregon because we couldn't leave Morgan for such a long time. We communicated by CB radio the whole trip so still got to talk about what we were seeing. To get to Joseph on Forest Service Road 39 is only 62 miles but it is on a narrow mountain road with many switch backs so will take two hours or more depending upon the number of times we stop for photographs. Our only stop was at the Hells Canyon Overlook peering down into the canyon where our trailers are parked. It is hazy due to huge brush fires in south east Oregon. Click the photo for a panorama. Our next stop, after reaching the valley beyond the mountains, was at Wallowa Lake, a beautiful lake at the base of the Eagle Cap Mountain Wilderness area. Ralph is photographing one of the many bronze statues in downtown Joseph. Joseph, Oregon is an arts and crafts town and one of the unique crafts is a bronze foundry where many bronze works of art are created. Click either of these photos for additional views.

Wallowa Lake Ralph is photographing one of the many bronze sculptures in Joseph
Lunch at the Embers Brewery 1923 Model T on exhibit in Enterprise
We were all hungry so we ate at one of our favorite Joseph restaurants, the Embers Brewery. We began our meal outside while watching a thunderstorm approach. As we began to feel rain drops, we gathered our food dishes and grabbed a table inside. Just six miles away is Enterprise Oregon where the Bowlby Bash Street Fair was happening today. It occurs once a year and is a small arts and crafts fair and fun time for residents. Click our lunch photo for a view of the street fair. One of the exhibits were antique cars. I was most impressed with this 1923 Ford Model T. Click the photo to see the gear at the right front wheel which connects to the odometer. I'm sure this was the "tech-no-gadget" of the day since no horse and buggy came with an odometer. With Ralph leading the way back over the mountains, the trip was much faster (one hour twenty minutes).

Parked at the Meridian KOA

Sunday, July 15, 2012: Today was moving day from Hells Canyon to Meridian, Idaho where Gwen's son and grand kids live. We never stay at a KOA but this Meridian Park has sold out to KOA and this park is close to Gwen's grandchildren. You can see how the park crams us all together ... it's like a used RV lot. Our truck is parked only a few inches from the HitchHiker sewer hose and we must be careful not to run over it. The park does give us 50 AMPs of power but the overnight price is about twice what we normally pay. Still, it could be worse, it could be 106 outside rather than the 90 we saw when driving into town. Gwen has already made one visit to the grand kids and we will see them again tomorrow. There is a small amount of lawn in the rear of the trailer for Morgan.

Visiting quilt shops

Monday, July 16, 2012: While visiting eastern Oregon, we learned of a quilt shop promotion called the Sage Brush Shop Hop where ten quilt shops were offering treats and prizes just for visiting the shops. Gwen was able to visit the shop in Joseph, Enterprise, Halfway, two in Baker City and Ontario; so she visited six of the ten. Each gave a pattern for a square to a quilt plus the fabric to make that square. They also gave prizes of quilting accessories plus cookies and bottled water. Gwen really enjoyed visiting these shops and most had great inventory and finished quilts as examples of what quilt makers could do. I thought this was a great promotion idea and all the shops seemed to be exceptionally busy with customers visiting from all over Oregon and Idaho. Click the photo for another view.

Gwen Boise family

Tuesday, July 17, 2012: Today was our first hot day and we invited Gwen's Idaho family (her son and grandchildren) to our trailer for dinner. The inside of the trailer was not much cooler than outside so we sat on the picnic table in the shade for dinner. The next step was for the kids to go swimming in the park pool then a little bit of live blue grass happening in the park clubhouse. Next ... we took off to a cool location, a frozen yogurt shop. It was a fun time with family.

A hot time at Wilderness Gateway campground, Idaho

Thursday, July 19, 2012: After driving all day from Meridian, Idaho we stopped to camp between McCall, Idaho and Lolo, Montana at a national forest campground called Wilderness Gateway Campground on the Lochsa River. The good part about the campground was that is was cheap (only $4 with a senior access pass), had water, paved roads and sites and relatively nice campsites. The disappointment was the high temperatures, nearly 100 and did not cool down quickly at night. Also, this is a popular campground so, busy, noisy with many spots reserved making them unavailable to us. The drive to this location was incredible scenery, usually next to a river with steep mountains on both sides and lots of conifers around. White Bird pass was a tough pull but the truck did find and the new PacBrake did great descending the other side. Click the photo for a sample of the views.

Huson Montana at John and Ivy's house

Friday, July 20, 2012: We traveled to the top of Lolo Pass today on the Idaho, Montana border. This is where Lewis and Clark crossed the Bitterroot Mountains so there is lots of history and a visitor center at the top. We drove through Lolo, Montana and on into Missoula, Montana for lunch, fuel and a few supplies at Walmart. Then we drove 19 miles north to Huson, Montana where Ralph and Janet have friends, John and Ivie with a huge range and lots of places for two RVs to camp. They will allow us to camp at their beautiful ranch for an extended time while we explore this part of Montana. Click the photo to see our camping location from John and Ivy's porch. Morgan has already found their pond and loves the wide open spaces to run while Annie likes the opportunity to hunt for squirrels

shopping at the Missoula Farmer's Market
Honda powered ATM machine Ralph can't resist the temptation
Huckleberries are in seasonSaturday, July 21, 2012: Our first full day in Montana took us to the Missoula Farmer's Market. This time we actually found produce, the previous farmers markets we visited were to early in the season to offer produce. What a wonderful, youthful town Missoula seems to be. The University of Montana is located here so there were lots of college age students and bike lanes everywhere in the city. I had to photograph the ATM machine powered by a Honda 2000 generator, the same style we use for our trailer. Ralph could not resist the fresh baked european style pastry. When you click the photo, you'll see that Gwen was also shopping the pastry but was able to resist. Bags of huckleberries were at several booths all at the same price, $50 for 5 pounds. Click any of the photos for additional views.

Ralph and I get to ride with John in his 1957 Chevy
Click to see the panorama of this Montana ranchSunday, July 22, 2012: John is a classic car collector and one of his vehicles is this 1957 Chevy. Of course we ended up today with a strawberry-rhubarb pie but no ice cream so John took Ralph and I for a ride in the Chevy for some ice cream. It felt a lot like the cars my dad use to buy in the fifties. We were able to get ONE radio station and had to roll down the windows for air conditioning. There is no sound like the chevy V8 from the '57 exhaust pipes. Click the '57 photo for a view of the tiny Huson, Montana post office. This is a fabulous place for us to camp. Look at the incredible setting to the right then click the photo for a panorama view. Don't miss the beef to the left of the panorama.
John teaching us how to fly fish Ralph shows off the fish he caught
Monday, July 23, 2012: John and Ivie have an irrigation pond in their back yard, one which is stocked with trout so John agreed to teach us how to fly fish. John made a few casts and soon had a fish on the hook. Click his photo to see the results. After a few more lessons, Ralph took the pole and made a few casts and soon had a fish on the hook too. Unfortunately, my fishing attempts did not result in a catch. Both fish shown above were placed back into the pond. I attempted fly fishing 30 years ago and only caught frustration. This session reminded me of that experience. I'll leave the fishing to Ralph and John.
The Stage station Restaurant
Ralph and I at the trailhead on a suspension bridge over Rock Creek Flyfishing on Rock Creek
Downtown Philipsburg, Montana
Tuesday, July 24, 2012: Today was a special day for John, Ralph and I. We did the "man thing" taking John and Ivie's jeep into the Montana wilderness beginning with breakfast at the "famous" Stage Station Restaurant about 30 miles south of Missoula on Rock Creek. John had promised a very special breakfast and it was very special. The building is 150 years old and a historic stage station on the stage line to Missoula. I had corned beef hash with eggs for breakfast and so did Ralph. John had biscuits and gravy. Everything about the breakfast and service was special. John continued the wilderness Jeep tour up Rock Creek where we saw many fly fishermen and good campsites (for smaller trailers). We tested a suspension bridge then drove on looking for more wildlife. Ralph spotted a small buck but no moose, grizzlies or mountain goats which frequent the area. We ended up in Philipsburg, an old mining town converted to a tourist and ski town in the winter. The shops lining the streets were filled with quality gift items and souvenirs. Still, the three of us resisted everything except fresh squeezed lemonade. It took a bit more than an hour to return home. We made sure the Jeep was shinny clean by stopping at a car wash in Missoula because we knew the girls would not want dust on "their Jeep" if they use it tomorrow. Click the photos for additional views. The photo behind the Philipsburg photo is of Ralph sitting in line to use the public restroom at the Philipsburg' park.

Vintage Airstream

Wednesday, July 25, 2012: We visited a vintage, restored Airstream which was set up in period accessories. This was the only trailer at a vintage car show. There were many really well restored autos but I was attracted to the Airstream. Click the photo to see the arrangement of the period accessories. My grandparents toured for many years in a 30 foot Airstream about the same year as this unit. They crossed the USA every year for at least ten years. These trailers had no holding tanks nor 12 volt lighting. Yet, you can see that they can be made comfortable. Click here for a panorama view of the interior.

Eating at a drive up diner in a vintage Ford

Thursday, July 26, 2012: We spent this day doing some errands in Missoula, mainly to pick up paint to refinish the stairs on the trailer. Yesterday John welded a crack in the stair metal and we replaced one of the cross pieces with a heavier gauge. I thought I had paint on hand but as it turned out, I didn't. J C Penney was also promoting a special free USA Olympic t-shirt with any purchase so we made some small purchases to get those t-shirts. We also visited Costco for a small purchase.

The photographs are of a few of the cars I saw at the car show last weekend. I especially liked the 1959 Corvette because it was the same body style I rode in as a paperboy in 1958. My manager purchased a new 1958 Corvette and gave me a ride. It was my first ride in a car that forced passengers into the seat on acceleration. Click both photos for additional views.

1959 Corvette
John, Ralph, Gwen, Ivie and I attend an Osprey Baseball Game Lighting followed by a rainbow at the game
Sixth Inning at the game
Friday, July 27, 2012: This was free hat night at the Missoula Osprey Minor league baseball game. Five of us decided to visit the game, John, Ralph, Gwen, Ivie and myself. We arrived early to be sure to get a free hat (only the first 750 people get a hat), then have a baseball dinner ... hot dog, pretzel, pop corn, ice cream. The opposing team was from Great Falls but the Osprey did not seem to have any trouble scoring against them and stopping them from scoring. When we left at the end of the sixth inning in the middle of a thunder shower the score was ten to nothing in our favor. Be sure to click the photos for additional views. The Osprey continued the game after the shower and won 10 - 1. We took outselves to the Big Dipper for ice cream after the game. You can just barely make out an "M" on the side of the mountain to the right of the photo. You'd think it was for "Missoula" but nope, it's for the University of Montana located under the "M". The Big Dipper is a favorite hangout for the students on a warm summer evening.

Ralph's birthday party on the Clark Fork River

Saturday, July 28, 2012: Today was the final day for visiting with John and Ivie. It was also a day to pack up and get ready to move tomorrow. The special thing about today was that it was Ralph's birthday so we drove to a special dinner on the Clark Fork river in the little town of Aberton, ten miles to the northwest. Aberton is a tiny town but with a great restaurant and a good example of ... "If you build it, they will come". The restaurant was crowded and even had live music besides good food. You can see the Clark Fork River out the window. Just across the river is a busy railroad track, we saw three trains in the time it took us to eat dinner. John, Ralph and I sat on the left side of the table while Janet, Gwen and Ivie sat on the other side. After dinner we walked a bridge across the Clark Fork, you can see Ivie and Gwen peering off the bridge behind the dinner photo, just click the photo. We finished the day with Ivie's great upside-down pineapple cake.

At the "All American Museum"

Sunday, July 29, 2012: Today was travel day. We moved from Huson, Montana to Swan Lake, Montana (further north). On the way, we stopped at the All American Museum in Polson, Montana. It's basically a collection of vintage items arranged by topic (military, diner, laundry, kitchen, tractors, timber, cars, boats, school house, etc.) There was a total of 5 acres and 40 buildings to exam. Of course, the first item which caught our eye was this old motor home. It was apparently built in the 1950s and was probably the best technology of the day. It took us more than an hour to wander through the museum yard and buildings. Ralph was most impressed with all the vintage items. You've got to figure that 50 years from now, folks will be touring a museum of the high technology items we use today and marvel at how crude, slow and inconvenient they are. Click both photos for additional views.

40 buildings in the museum

Swan Lake Montana campground

Monday, July 30, 2012: After traveling all day yesterday, we arrived at our Montana destination near Bigfork, Montana. This is Swan Lake Campground, a National Forest Service campground so we get half off the price with our Senior Pass. It is a beautiful and busy campground but no power, sewer and the water is from a common faucet so a camper must fill the fresh water tank upon arriving or transport the water to the campsite in some fashion. It is warm, 90 degrees, plus or minus a few degrees. The flies and mosquitos have found us here but so far, not too bad. Swan Lake is a large enough lake to enjoy with a nice power boat.

Greg creates handmade cedar strip conoes and other personal boats

Tuesday, July 31, 2012: Ralph and I visited Morley Canoes, only a quarter mile from our campsite in Swan Lake campground. Greg builds strip canoes, row boats, rowing shells, kayaks and paddle boards. He has a very small show room with only a few boats for sale. Nearly all the boats he builds are ordered by customers from photographs of the many boats he has built in the past. The boats are hand built from strips of cedar the covered with fiberglass and resin. From the time a customer places and order, it is one year to delivery. Each boat is custom built to the customer specifications. They are beautiful boats. To me, to gorgeous to actually use but Greg seems to take offense with that statement. He wants his boats to be used. He takes orders all summer and builds them during the winter months. The two surfboard looking items behind Greg are paddle boards. The user stands and paddles while balancing on the boards. This is becoming a very popular sport.

Entering Whitefish Montana with the Whitefish Ski Resort in the distance

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: We had errands to do today in Kalispell. When those were completed Gwen and I took ourselves on a short adventure 15 miles north of Kalispell into Whitefish. It turns out to be a resort town with high food prices and most store catering to the resort crowd (restaurants, coffee shops, souvenir shops, and sporting goods for both winter and summer sports). I lived on the north shore of Lake Tahoe for thirteen years so I've seen and skied some world class ski areas. The Whitefish resort and ski mountain look to be as big as any I've seen. With the "Empire Builder" Amtrak coming through Whitefish each day I can imagine ski tourists arriving by train in the winter months for a ski vacation from both eastern and western locations. The main part of town is compact, easy to walk from restaurant to frozen yogurt shop and pick up a spare T-shirt at one of the apparel shops. Click the photo for another view of downtown Whitefish.

John and Ralph admire a Morley Canoe
Friday, August 3, 2012: John and Ivie have joined us only for the afternoon to visit before they continue further north to Eureka, Montana for a Quilt show and sale. While visiting, John's interest was to visit the Morley Canoe shop to admire the artwork of the canoe builder. It also gave me a chance to talk with Steve, the maker of paddleboards as well as the other paddle craft. When we met Greg, he told me to talk with Steve about the paddleboard. My daughter is most interested in paddleboarding so I asked many questions and learned about the board Steve is currently completing. This board is made for a 5' 3" woman weighing 115 lbs, very close to my daughter's size. The board is made with western red cedar, covered with fiberglass, hollow and weighs about 28 lbs. It costs $1900. The stand-up paddle is specially made to precise length and bent at the paddle end to increase the efficiency of the paddler. Click the photos for additional views. Steve explains the building of a paddleboard A stand-up paddle
Bigfork Art Faire
Bigfork Cove of Flathead LakeSaturday, August 4, 2012: About 15 miles from our campsite is the town of Bigfork, Montana. Today was the annual Art Faire at Bigfork and one of the best quality shows I've seen. It was well attended, we arrived early, around 10 am. I saw $2,600 guitars handmade in Montana (click the photo above), lots of picture art (paintings, photography, framed wall craft), lots of jewelry, pottery, woodcraft, crafts of all kinds, handmade paddleboards, plus food vendors. The show was downtown Bigfork which benefited the downtown merchants as well. I was able to visit a bike shop where I saw a high-end road bike with disc brakes, the first road bike I've seen with disc brakes ... it's about time. At the end of the main street in Bigfork is the Bigfork cove off of Flathead lake, the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. Click the cove photo for a panorama view.

Bonner County Fairground, Sandpoint ID, space 14

Monday, August 6, 2012: After a long day of traveling from Swan Lake, Montana, we drove to the Priest River National Forest Service campgrounds only to learn they were full and taking names onto a waitlist. We decided to return to Sandpoint, Idaho to the Bonner County Fairgrounds where we knew space was available. Gwen has a special friend to visit in Idaho tomorrow about 40 miles to the south and I am anxious to visit the historic district of Sandpoint. In a different lifetime when I was a private pilot I flew to Sandpoint several times with a friend who owned property nearby. He would pay for the fuel and I enjoyed the flying time. My plane was based in Truckee, California. I owned a nice Turbocharged Piper with retractable landing gear so the flying time from Truckee to Sandpoint was only 4 hours. However, I never really got to visit the town so finally I get my chance. Of course we feel right at home here at the fairground. Trains run nearby so we get to hear the whistle as if it's only a few yards away. Morgan has lots of running room at the fairground.

Lake Coeur d' Alene Gwen with her friend Penny
Tuesday, August 7, 2012: Today we stayed in Sandpoint while Ralph and Janet moved on to Priest River Campground. We will rejoin them tomorrow. Gwen has a friend she wanted to visit in Hayden, only 40 miles to the south. We haven't seen Penny for three years. While visiting Penney and Morrie, they took us for a drive through the town of Coeur d' Alene, Idaho and to the edge of Coeur d' Alene lake, a beautiful Idaho lake. This is a beautiful area of Idaho and seems very popular compared to what I saw 25 years ago. It was a very warm day, in the high 90s so the beach was full of residents trying to keep cool. Click the photos for additional views.

Priest Lake, Idaho

Wednesday, August 8, 2012: We have moved to Priest Lake, Idaho, about 50 miles northwest of Sandpoint. This is a fine, National Forest Service campground with paved roads and spaces but no hookups so fairly cheap with a Senior Access pass, only $8 per night. The lake is beautiful and warm, click the photo to see Gwen with Morgan in the lake. Our plan is to float in the lake tomorrow while the weather is still hot. The surprise is how well developed the area is, even though remote, there is a nice village of stores including a huge hardware store. The biggest surprise is 4G Verizon service ... I don't even have that in Sutherlin. The mountain road access is also very easy, no steep grades and a wide, two lane road. We were lucky to have Ralph and Janet already in the park because they saved us a perfect space. Next year, they plan to make these spaces reservable, but this year, first come, first served. Here, we don't get the sound of trains, automobiles and planes as we did in the Bonner County Fairground. There is the sound of power boat engines during the day and crackling campfires in the evening.

Lunch at Cavenaugh's

Thursday, August 9, 2012: After a morning walk with Morgan we decided to take a drive to the east side of Priest Lake. We stopped at the lake information center kiosk and happened to meet the "brochure lady" refilling the slots with lake brochures. I asked for a lunchtime recommendation on the east side of the lake and she told us of Cavenaugh's. This turned out to be a resort with dining right on the lake so we could not pass up the opportunity. We took our time at lunch to enjoy the bay at the same time. Click the photo to see another view. After lunch we continued down the east side to Indian Creek State Park where we toured the very cramped and crowded campground plus checked out the store for gifts and Ralph got strawberry cheese cake ice cream. I guess we will try sitting in the lake tomorrow.

Ranny, a rustic furniture artist

Saturday, August 11, 2012: Today we visited the Autumn's Loft art gallery and rustic furniture shop for an artist's demonstration day. This is a relatively new shop in the Priest Lake area with some very fine rustic furniture and other arts and crafts. Ralph and I were most interested in the rustic furniture. We met Ranny, the furniture builder and he showed us some of the tools he uses to manufacture the furniture from logs and branches. Ranny has his own forest, own saw mill and planer so is able to build the furniture from custom made boards and planks made especially for the furniture piece he is building. Some items are simple signs with carved letters done by his wife Gay (click the photo to see Gay). Other pieces are benches, stools, tables, hat stands, coffee tables, dining room tables and chairs, bed frames and picture frames. The whole family is involved in one way or another since Autumn is Gay's mother and Ranny/Gay have children working in the business also. We must have admired their work for more than an hour, then moved on to other quality items in their store. photographs, jewelry, paintings, lamps, and metal sculptures. Ralph and I took photographs of several items thinking ahead to our time in Park Sierra where we will have access to a complete woodworking shop. We continued to call these items our "Park Sierra projects".

Sunday, August 12, 2012: This is Charlie and Doris who are the camphosts for the Outlet Bay Campground which is a National Forest Campground. We were also camphosts at six National Forest Campgrounds back in 2010. In our case, the National Forest had subcontracted with California Land Management (CLM) to manage the campgrounds, so we worked for and got paychecks from CLM, not the National Forest. The National Forest has subcontract with American Land and Leisure (AL&L)to manage the Outlet Bay Campground so Charlie and Doris must answer to and get paid by AL&L. I told them of our experience with CLM and asked how they were doing. I learned that AL&L only paid each of them 15 hours per week to manage this huge campground. They had found it impossible to do all the work in that short time and felt they worked for free muchOur hosts at Outlet Bay Campground, Charlie and Doris of the week. I made sure they knew of Workamper News. It not only helps both employers find help and workampers find jobs it has a rating system where workampers can rate the employers they work for. I already knew that AL&L had a terrible reputation for taking advantage of their employees and not paying them for the amount of time it takes to keep the campgrounds clean. The reports I read and what Charlie and Doris repeated was that their manager tells them NOT to work so hard and stop putting in so many hours. But I know from my experience and from watching other campground hosts, if you stop working when your paid hours are exhausted, the trash cans fill, restrooms get dirty, campsites are not clean making the hours you DO work that much more difficult because the load is now heavier. Campers are not happy because the campground is not kept clean. Also, campers are always asking questions whether your sign says "Off Duty" or not. CLM has an honest policy of paying for reasonable amount of hours to get the job done. Both Gwen and I were happy with the support given to us by CLM so I told Charlie and Doris NOT to work for AL&L again, instead contact CLM. Of course it always depends upon the manager you work for so I gave them the contact information for Wayne and Char, the managers we worked for, are very fine people and give their hosts lots of support. If you are considering workamping, you need to pay attention to what others have learned and reported in Workamper News.

Our campsite with Ron and Jay in Republic, Washington

Monday, August 13, 2012: This was a travel day from Priest Lake, Idaho to Republic, Washington. Ralph and Janet have a cousin who owns lots of acres in this countryside and have allowed us to camp near their log home. Ron and Ja (pronounced Jay) have lived here for 7 years and add more lawn each year. Currently Ron says the lawn mowing is no problem, it only takes 3 hours to mow the lawns (every three days). Ja fixed a wonderful speghetti dinner and we actually had a campfire which seems strange after a 97 degree day but it cooled off fast. This location is only 20 miles from Canada but according to Ron, the winter months "are not that bad". We finished the evening by practicing Horse Shoes, Ron's favorite game.

I have new tires on my trailer, two from Les Schwab purchased in the Pacific Northwest and two purchased in Roseville, California (these two were replacement tires for a previous blow out, as noted below, for tires purchased in Arizona because there is no Les Schwab in Arizona) at Discount Tires (also known as America's Tires). My friends Ralph and Terry also purchased Discount tires and have had several tire failures (Ralph has had three tire failures from his Discount Tire purchases). So on this trip, one of my new (one year old) Discount tires blew but did no damage to the trailer. This was the Discount tire given to me as a replacement from last years Discount tire blowout. You can click the photo above to see Ralph helping with the tire replacement. This time I chose to buy two new Les Schwab tires to replace these Discount tires. Obviously, I can't recommend buying from Discount or America's tire stores.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012: Republic, Washington is the county seat for Ferry County. There are 900 residents in Republic and 7,000 residents in the entire county. There is no traffic signal in the entire county and no four lanes roads. Ron and Ja are going to Spokane this week for shopping and other errands. It is 3 hours driving time one way to Spokane, the nearest Costco. The nearest Walmart is 50 miles over a steep pass. I mention all this because I find it very interesting walking downtown Republic. We have visited many towns this size in the last two years. Virtually all these small towns have a business district about this size but nearly all have 50% or more commercial buildings empty and many open businesses look depressed. Republic is different. I found only two small commercial buildings Downtown Republic, Washingtonempty with most of the open businesses with well stocked inventory. Additionally, the stores had a large variety of inventory, for example, the clothing store I visited also stocked sewing supplies, fabric, yarn, shoes and jewelry. I attribute the health of the business community to several factors. One of the main contributors is the absence of a Walmart store. If you combine all these tiny shops in Republic, they would make up the inventory and variety in one Walmart store. I appreciate shopping these small stores. In most cases, the clerk who wants to help me is also the owner of the shop. They know the merchandise and are interested in serving my need. I enjoy talking with them and they seem to enjoy their "job". I don't usually find that to be the case when talking with a Walmart employee who is anxious for his minimum wage shift to end. Wage isn't everything, I'll bet most of these store owners don't make minimum wage. Additionally, you can walk this town and imagine the stores and inventory were very much the same in 1930. Click the photo for a panorama.

Meeting at the Republic Brewery

Wednesday, August 15, 2012: This was a busy day. I began by visiting Les Schwab Tire (LS) company because it was LS in Grants Pass who installed new brakes onto my trailer and I'm not exactly satisfied they are working properly. I wanted to check with the manager here concerning the recommendation given to me in Grants Pass. This manager disagreed with the recommendation and prefers to check the brakes himself. That will happen tomorrow. Later, Gwen got a haircut at a special location introduced by Ja while I went to the library for Internet access. I was at the library for 2 hours where Gwen met me after the haircut. We walked up the main street together to the Republic Brewery where we met Janet, Ron, Ja and Ralph for refreshment before moving on to the only Mexican restaurant in town. It was a fun time with friends. You can click the photo to enlarge.

Thursday, August 16, 2012: I love small towns. The Les Schwab Tire Store in Republic has two bays, probably the smallest store. I had an appointment at 1pm today with Tim, the store manager, to adjust the brakes on the trailer. Les Schwab in Grants Pass had replaced the brakes in February and we've been parked most of the time since that brake job until Tim from Les Schwab is about to check the brakes.this most recent trip. I did not feel like the trailer brakes were working properly. The driver's side rims would get very hot while the passenger side rims were only warm. I arrived at Les Schwab at 12:45 pm and I was the only customer so I got everyone's attention. I explained what I saw and "the boys" began to work on a repair. It wasn't long before Tim came to check the work and began making adjustments himself. The passenger side brakes needed a lot of adjustment and one wire changed. As it turned out, Tim needed a part from the local NAPA store and sent one of the boys after it. Tim was on a dolly under the trailer so I scooted under the trailer to watch what was happening (before you call OSHA concerning a customer being under a jacked up trailer, the wheels were on the ground at this time). Since Tim was waiting for the part we began to talk and I heard Tim's life story from high school to his manager position in Republic. I began thinking, "this would never happen at a typical Les Schwab", first, they are too busy to talk, second, the manager doesn't do the work, and third, it takesthe atmosphere of a small town for a tire store manager to feel comfortable enough to share personal information. Of course, I've always been easy to get along with and interested in mechanical work plus, how many 65 year old men would you find climbing under a fifth wheel to talk with the guy who is making repairs to brakes? We probably talked for 30 minutes all while laying under the trailer. I love Les Schwab and I love small towns. If you click the photo you will see a close up of the Discount Tire Store tire which blew on Monday. I was keeping the tires hoping to get a refund but decided I did not want to transport these tires for another three weeks while trying to find a Discount Tire Store. After reading the warranty, it's doubtful I'll get any money returned. I took photos planning to share those with Discount Tire. You can see the tread depth in this photo showing new tires with the blowout coming from the center of the tread. When you check the RV forums, about 50% of the discussion is always on "what tires to buy". There is never a good answer because all tires come from China but Les Schwab tires are my choice and I never would have purchased Discount Tires except I was in Arizona at the time where Les Schwab does not have a presence.

Results of July 20 windstorm in this area

Friday, August 17, 2012: On July 20 a "hurricane force wind" blew down thousands of trees in northeastern Washington. We went for a drive today and saw many of the downed trees ourselves. Many were simply uprooted while others were topped. The weathermen claim it was only a "hurricane force wind" but what we saw looked a lot like the tornado distruction we saw last year in Mississippi. Ron and Ja think they lost more than 400 trees on their property, many were right around the house. Everyone in the area had to carry a chainsaw because all roads were blocked with downed trees. The power was disrupted for six days while crews repairs the downed powerlines. We saw posters in most windows applied by rescue teams to indicate that a house, farm or business had been checked as was OK.

Ja cooking with a Dutch Oven Saturday, August 18, 2012: The morning was special because Ja fixed the breakfast in her Dutch Oven. I saw a short demonstration of Dutch Oven cooking at Park Sierra last spring but this was my first time to see it from start to finish. This was an egg, potato and sausage, cheese, onions and cooked to perfection. We could all hardly wait to get started. Ja also fixed biscuits and we had lots of homemade jelly. Gwen fixed fresh fruit which made the breakfast perfect. We ate outside before the day got too warm. I finished reading a John Grisham book then we all took off for a mountain lake resort for their prime rib special. If you click Ja's photo, you'll see a photo of Ron on his John Deer mower. Gwen serving from the Dutch Oven

Sunday, August 18, 2012: We toured the Grand Coulee Dam, only 1.5 hours from our camping location. This is the largest dam in north America built in 1933 to 1941 providing thousands of jobs during the depression. It was originally designed andColumbia River behind the Grand Coulee Dam built to provide irrigation water to nearly one million acres in northeast Washington by taping the water in the Columbia River. When World War II began power was needed and generators were added to the dam. Now it generates a major source of power for the Pacific northwest. We took the dam tour but much was to go wrong during out tour. First, for the last few days, a 8,000 acre wildfire was happening along the northeast shore of the Columbia so it was smoky with poor visibility. Second, after our tour bus arrived at the dam and we unloaded into the dam entrance, a fire alarm was sounded in the control building below us and the elevators were turned off so we could not enter the dam. All we could do was stand on top of the entrance and listen to our tour guide talk about the dam. The security was all around. We had to pass through a metal detector to take the tour and a guard with an M16 rifle accompanied us where ever we went. We were told that security was increase after the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11 attacks. Click any of the photos for additional views.

The Grand Coulee Dam face
Our tour group outside and on top of the dam Our guard escort
A slide rule similar to the one I used in high school and collegeWhile touring the displays I had to photograph the slide rule. It is virtually identical to the slide rule I used through high school and college. Apparently this one was used to make calculations when building the dam. I remember a slide rule being accurate only to three places so I hope someone later checked the figures using a calculator. Behind the slide rule photo is a photo of the gallons of water poured over the dam by a princess from each state.

Bonapart Resort Restaurant
A rustic resortMonday, August 20, 2012: We take an hour drive to the Bonapart Lake Resort for a special dinner. I referred to the resort as "rustic" and got strange looks from Ron and Ja. I learned that it is much better now than what it use to be before the new owners bought the resort. They are working slowly at fixing it up. I also learned that it is open year around. Summer months are for camping, fishing, hiking while winter months are for snowmobiles and crosscountry skiers. They have a few very rustic cabins to rent and a comfortable restaurant inside the resort. This night was primerib night which was very good. Click the photo to see the dollar wall. Click the photo above for a panorama of the lake.

Riding the range on an ATV

Monday, August 21, 2012: Finally I get the chance to ride the range on Ron's ATV. There is more than 200 acres here to ride and some steep climbing for the best views. It has been many years since I've been on an ATV so I needed some refresher lessons. I was glad it was an ATV and not a horse. The last time I was on a horse, I couldn't walk for three days. Click the photo for a panorama of the view as the top of the mountain. The ranch house is out of site to the left of the panorama. The other houses are rental properties belonging to Ron and Ja.

Paul touring the USA on a bicycle

While doing the laundry today, I met Paul who has been cycle touring the USA for five years. It has occurred to me that Paul is doing the same thing we are doing but only carries 300 lbs (weight of the bike, trailer, all gear and food) rather than the 24,000 lbs we carry (weight of the truck, trailer, all gear and food). It takes him a little longer to get around the US but he doesn't have to worry about the cost of diesel. I also got the impression that he was retired and could just afford this form of living and no more. That's also just like us, we can just afford this form of living and no more. I was able to talk with Paul about his travels and learned his favorite states plus states which treated him poorly. For example, he had several items stolen when visiting Florida. He no longer carries a cell phone because friends would call him wanting to talk and to learn where he was. He would talk over his monthly limit costing money he did not have to spend. He is currently on his way to Texas after touring the Washington state. The trailer he is towing is a BOB trailer. When I cycle toured, I also pulled a BOB trailer and found it to be very sturdy. Paul has experienced broken spokes on the rear wheel of his bike and blames the weight of the BOB. He recently switched to steel rims hoping that will stop the problems. I did not experience those problems. He left the laundry for the library around the corner looking for Internet access, where I have also spent time getting Internet access.

The old west town of Winthrop, Washington
Wednesday, August 22, 2012: Today was a travel day from Republic, Washington to Newhalem, Washington, the heart of the North Cascades National Park. We experienced some of the steepest climbs and descents of any of the travels we have done so far. Had I not installed the PacBrake last spring, I'm sure we would have lost control on the descents or burnt up the brakes. As it turned out, the PacBrake worked perfectly and I hardly had to use the foot brake except on very sharp corners. We had lunch in a wild west town of Winthrope, Washington. It is good to see the local business people pull together for a common theme which works well to draw the tourists. The shops were neat, clean and had quality merchandise. We spent our money on lunch and home made ice cream. We arrived at our campsite in the North Cascades National Park, Newhalem campground about 5 pm and had to work at parking in tight quarters. The mosquitoes are bothersome so I hope they don't ruin a nice stay. Click these two photos for additional views.
Climbing the North Cascade road toward Washington Pass

Newhalem Creek campground in the North Cascades National Park

Thursday, August 23, 2012: Morgan is posing at our campsite in the Newhalem Creek Campground in the Cascades National Park. The canopy is so heavy there is no chance for solar charging and no chance for TV satellite reception. Since we switched to Verizon Internet, we were surprised to get good Internet and cell reception off some cell tower somewhere nearby. This is a "double" space so it cost us $9 per day with our senior access pass. A single site rents for $6 per day with the pass. There are no hookups of any kind and the water is located at the dump station near the entrance. The roads and sites are paved and the tables are new. Currently, the campground is only 25% occupied but all sites are reserved for this weekend so it will be busy. Today we had the need to visit the nearest pharmacy which we learned was in the tiny town of Concrete, Washington, 32 miles from our campsite. Click the photo to see a view of the Skaget River as it flows through our

Concrete, Washington abandoned school building campground. I had to laugh about visiting Concrete, because 42 years ago in May of 1970 I was a young graduate student at UC Davis about to get both my elementary and secondary teaching certificates. But I didn't want to stay in California so I scheduled ten interviews with Washington school districts who answered my request for an interview. The Concrete, Washington school district was one of those. This is the building I entered for the interview. None of those ten Interviews lasted very long and I heard nothing from any of them after returning to Davis. Since I had job offers in California, I had to accept what was offered and ended up in Antioch, California for six years teaching fifth grade before resigning then developing my own business. The town of Concrete has done little in 42 years. One can only wonder what life might have been like had one of those ten school districts offered me a job. I learned in Antioch that I disliked teaching at that level. I was very happy with my own business but when the hobby market changed and I had to leave my business, I was fortunate to get a job teaching at the college level which I liked very much. Click the photo to see a view of "uptown" Concrete.
Introduction to the North Cascades Expedition Tour Gorge Powerhouse generators
North Cascade National Park creek The Gorge below Diablo Dam
Diablo Dam
North Cascade InstituteFriday, August 24, 2012: We attended the North Cascades Expedition Tour today which began at 10am, continued to 3:30pm and included lunch. The tour was led by Kate of the National Park Service and Sean of the North Cascades Institute in their van. We were able to see the Gorge Powerhouse generating power from the Gorge Dam, one of three dams on the Skaget River. The powerhouse was built in 1920. The Diablo dam is the next higher dam with the Ross dam above that. After the powerhouse tour, we drove to our lunch location on a boardwalk nature trail. Click each of these photos to see another view. From lunch we drove to the Diablo Dam where we drove over the dam then hiked back to discuss what we saw. The bright blue water comes from glacier water of the many melting glaciers in the park. Our last stop was at the North Cascade Institute for a description of their programs and facilities. The tour was only $20 for seniors including the lunch and worth it. Now we know of neat places to hike in the park.
Hiking the Diablo Lake Knob trail Diablo Lake in the North Cascades National Park
Saturday, August 25, 2012: Ralph and I hiked the Diablo Lake Knob trail to an overlook of the lake and dam. The trail was described as "easy" but with the elevation increase, Ralph disagreed with the rating. There were lots of switch-backs (click my hiking photo to see Ralph on switch-backs). Yes, Diablo lake really IS that color. The radiant blue comes from glacier water melting and flowing into the lake. Click the lake photo to see another view of the lake and the North Cascade Highway to the left of the lake. After our hike, we treated ourselves to lunch at the North Cascades Institute we visited yesterday. They were serving a group lunch to a large tour group so I asked if we could pay for lunch and join them. I was told lunch would be $5. It was by far the best $5 lunch either of us has ever had.

Ladder Creek Falls

Sunday, August 26, 2012: Our day began by hiking to the North Cascade Institute for a lunch treat for all four of us. We had learned of the $5 lunch yesterday and wanted to share the treasure with Gwen and Janet. We were not disappointed, After the lunch treat, Gwen and I hiked to Ladder Creek Falls behind the Gorge Powerhouse. This falls is lighted in different colors at night for the entertainment of tourists. This was a tradition begun by J.D. Ross, the engineer of the dam project in 1920. After the falls hike, Gwen and I hiked the rest of the way back to our campsite through the Trail of Cedars, an interpretive trail with many information plaques along the way. Click the photo to see more of the Ladder Creek Falls.

Ross Dam Ross Lake and Dam from Ross Lake Resort
Monday, August 27, 2012: Ralph and I hiked to Ross Lake Dam and to Ross Lake Resort. This was the longest hike since we arrived, about 7 miles round trip with some steep climbing. Ross Dam creates a huge 23 mile long lake which extends into Canada. The lake is very difficult to reach with no roads to the lake except a small road from Canada to the northern tip of the lake. The only real access is to hike to the lake. The resort access is just as difficult with no roads to the resort. It is possible to hike to the opposite side of the lake from the Cascade Highway (about a mile hike) then call the resort for an inexpensive water taxi. The resort offers boat rentals, lodging but no food. The entire resort is floating on the lake. It would be a unique experience to overnight here.

Janet and Ralph sail away while we missed the boat

Tuesday, August 28, 2012: What a day! We got up early not knowing how long it would take us to travel from the North Cascade National Park to Coupville where the ferry leaves for Port Townsend. We had 1:15 sailing reservations for the ferry and wanted to be sure we were on time. We were on the road before 8am. As it turned out, we had no traffic problems and arrived in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island by 10am. That's only 17 miles from the ferry terminal. We stopped for brunch then went for a walk in downtown, historic Oak Harbor. We still arrived at the terminal by 12:30 so Ralph and Janet got waved onto the 12:30 ferry but we did NOT so had to wave good bye to our traveling partners as they sailed away. Click all photos for additional views.

On the Kennewick sailing to Port TownsendWe were waved onto the 1:15 ferry so were only slightly behind them. We were also first in line which made me think we would be first off the boat, but the other two lanes of traffic were waved off before our lane got to leave. It is a short, 30 minute float time to Port Townsend which gave us just enough time to walk the boat and take a few photos. Another nice surprise was the price of the ferry ride, $66 instead of the $85 we were expecting. That may sound like a lot but saved us at least that much in fuel and about 4 hours in driving time. On exiting the ferry in Port Townsend, we headed straight to the Evergreen, Coho Escapee RV Park only 8 miles south.
Evergreen Coho Park in Chimacum, Washington
Wednesday, August 29, 2012: We are at the end of the street in Evergreen Coho Escapee Park in Chimacum, Washington. It's our first time at the only Escapee park in Washington. Today was an overcast down day where I setup our DirecTV dish for (probably) the last time and watched much of the US Open Tennis match currently happening in New York. Gwen went to the clubhouse this evening for bingo while I tried to find anything to watch on TV after six weeks without TV. I learned I haven't missed anything, there's nothing on.
Wooden mechanical switch plate cover Double switch plate wooden mechanical cover
Thursday, August 30, 2012: This was a fun day. It began with Janet and Gwen doing the laundry using the park machines. Next, we used a 20% discount offer to visit a local restaurant to celebrate Ralph and Janet's win last night in bingo. As it turned out, neither Gwen nor I remembered our wallets so Janet had to bail us out at the restaurant until we got back to our trailers. That also meant that neither Gwen nor I had our driver's license so I let Ralph drive our truck. After turning to the trailer, Gwen and I decided to drive into Port Townsend for a stroll down the tourist shops. I spotted some very interesting light switch, wooden, mechanical, cover plates. I photographed them thinking my brother-in-law, Ed, might like to make them with his new scroll saw. That's when the batteries in my camera went dead so those were my only photos today. You can click each photo to see additional plate covers. The photo on the right is for a double switch plate.

Our siteseeing is interupted with a Chevy problem
The Seven Cedars Casino
The Chevy loaner car We make it to a couple of visitor centers
Friday, August 31, 2012: Our day began early with the idea of siteseeing to Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park. We spotted the Seven Cedars Casino where we stopped for five minutes to run in and get decks of playing cards for free. We like playing Hand and Foot so need additional card decks. When Ralph accelerated out of the parking lot back to highway 101 we heard a loud "bag" just like the sound of a blown tire but it was obviously something from Ralph's engine. As it turned out, it was a turbo hose which blew off it's fitting. AAA saved us after about an hour by taking us to the nearest Chevy dealer in Port Angeles, Washington. After several hours we learned they would not have the repair part until next Wednesday so they loaned Ralph a car for us to continue our site seeing. By 3:30 pm we finally were walking into a couple of information centers. This reminded Gwen and I of our truck troubles back in 2009 when we were without our truck for two weeks. Click the photos for additional views.
Pete shows Ralph and I how to fly an RC plane View from Port Townsend with Whidbey Island ferry in the distance
Port Townsend from the pier
Saturday, September 1, 2012: The girls stayed home today so Ralph and I began the day by going with Pete to his day with the radio controlled aircraft group. Pete is here for the summer season and is very much into RC aircraft. The rest of the day was spent in Port Townsend visiting the tourist stores looking for woodworking project ideas and just watching the tourists. After the downtown tourist shops we visited the farmer's market. It was a relaxing and enjoyable day for just the two of us doing what guys do as tourists. Click the photos for additional views. I'm mostly interested in woodworking ideas as gifts for my grandchildren and for Christmas gifts such as clocks, lamps, birdhouses, and small furniture items. Ralph is mostly interested in items to make for his son's new mountain cabin and for his return to his home in Medford next spring.

Gwen is researching the type of Lavender she likes

Sunday, September 2, 2012: After Ralph, Janet, Gwen and I visited the farmer's market in Chimacum, Gwen and I drove to Sequim (pronounced Sqwim) for cheap fuel and to visit one of the many Lavender Farms in the area. Gwen was hoping to find some deals on plants because she would like to plant Lavender in pots around our new leaseholder's lot in Timber Valley. There are several varieties of Lavender to choose from so Gwen gets onto her phone to research the variety which might be best back in Oregon. We will be returning on Tuesday and Gwen is excited about getting started. While at the Lavender farm I noticed this very successful bird feeder. It was almost always full of birds on every crossbar. Click the photo to see what I'm talking about. While in Sequim, we also visited Costco but bought nothing except hot dogs. It was a beautiful clear day ... I don't understand why the folks from Washington complain about all the "gray days". (I'm joking ... I know winter can go for months with no sun in this area.)

Labor Day barbeque at Evergreen Coho SKP park

Monday, September 3, 2012: This was a relaxing Labor Day, walking Morgan, reading a book, doing laundry then having barbequed hamburgers in the clubhouse with the Evergreen members. This was also the day we were to pack for moving back to Sutherlin tomorrow but we have a coolant leak in the truck and have decided to get it repaired before traveling the 350 miles back to Timber Valley Park. The delay is a disappointment but I couldn't come up with a good reason to take the chance of something serious happening during our return trip.

Loaded on the Ferry to downtown Seattle Gwen enjoying the cruze to Seattle
Tuesday, September 4, 2012: Both our trucks are in the shop. Ralph needs a new turbo hose and I need a new water pump. We made the best of our day with both trucks disabled. Ralph and Janet have a tiny Chevy Aveo loaned to them by the Chevy dealer so we took it on a trip to downtown Seattle for lunch and to visit the Pike Street Public Market. Click any of the photos for additional views.
What a beautiful day for a quick trip to downtown Seattle
The view from our open window at the Acres of Clams restaurant On the Seattle waterfront
Gwen chooses Lavender pasta for dinner The Public Market on Pike Street

Lined up for the return ferryLook at this gorgeous day. The weather was perfect. We are all from rural Oregon so going to the city is a big deal for us. Crowds of people at the Pike Street Market.

Once we arrived in downtown Seattle we headed straight to lunch at Ivars Acres of Clams restaurant. As it turned out, we got the best seat in the place with an open window onto the bay overlooking the Seattle Fire Department boat and the ferry terminal. The price of lunch was actually affordable and very good food too.

After lunch we hiked the three blocks to the Pike Street Public Market where the crowds were buying fish, farm produce, flowers and souvenirs. We bought Lavender pasta and a wonderful bunch of flowers for only $5.

We made the 3 pm return ferry before the commute traffic began so it was a quick trip to downtown Seattle and very pleasant.

While returning, I got a call from my mechanic and learned it would cost only $400 to replace my water pump. I was expecting more since it seemed pretty complicated to me. Still, after the expense of the trailer tire blow-out, another big hit like this makes me wonder if we can really afford to travel. Additionally, it cost $4.33 per gallon for diesel the last time I filled up. We will have to stay put a few months to recover from the expenses of our current travels.

So the new plan is to travel back to Oregon on Thursday assuming the water pump is replaced tomorrow.

The view of the Seattle skyline from the top of the ferry
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