Saturday, June 30, 2012


We’ve been at the Columbia River RV Park in Portland, Oregon, one week as of today.  The park is convenient (a quick drive to the MAX, Portland’s light-rail system), has a decent WIFI connection, and a laundry room with lots of machines.  The downside is that we’re near the airport.  The flight corridor takes planes over the Columbia River instead of neighborhoods -- that's supposed to help keep noise down in neighborhoods.   But like I said, we’re at the Columbia River RV Park, so the planes fly right by and make a heck of a lot of noise.  So much noise that our dog has a couple of times wedged himself between the driver’s seat and the gas/brake pedal. (He's OK and has returned to his favorite sleeping spot:  on top of our dirty laundry.)
But when we stay at a private RV park, we don’t spend much time exploring the RV park other than the laundry room.  We explore the city, and Portland is a great place to explore.
So far we've hiked in parks and the Portland arboretum (175 acres, 700 kinds of trees and shrubs), had lunch at brew pubs (I seem to be on a hummus plate kick; I've had it at all three pubs we've visited), walked all over the city (did six miles yesterday), and got to see family again. 

Son Paul and Bev in front of Paul’s northeast Portland apartment.

Paul and Jim. 

After lunch at a park with Season and her boys,
grandson Owen showed off his muscles.
Nearly six-month-old Connor.

We also dropped in on John and Debbie's son, Dane,
while he was at his job at downtown Portland's Hotel

Bev at the waterfront park along the Willamette River, 
which runs north through the middle of Portland and 
separates the east and west sides of the city.
We went to Portland's Navy Reserve Center to check out 
getting new military IDs.  Jim was here when Mt. St. 
Helen's errupted in 1980 and watched the smoke 
and steam from the second floor balcony of this 
Jim and Cooper walking through Lauelhurst Park 
on Portland’s east side.  Another of John and Deb’s 
sons, Matt, is getting married  nearby in August.
And of course, it rained here, too:  a view out our 
windshield while driving around.

I also heard a new (to me) weather phrase:
sun breaks.  Here's one as seen out the
window of our RV.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Graveyard of the Pacific

Of the many museums we've visited in our RV adventure, this may be the first time Jim suggested one:  the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, OR. The displays about how the violent combination of waves, current, storms, fog, wind and sand bar make navigating the entrance to the Columbia River so dangerous were especially well done.  Since 1792, over 2,000 ships and 700 lives have been lost at the Columbia River bar, also called the "Graveyard of the Pacific." 

And no photos of this next topic (somehow I feel like posting a photo would violate some sort of national security interest).  But as I sit here, I can see the Rilea National Guard performing a drill.  A crew on one side runs up to a helicopter (on the ground with its blade whirling) with a stretcher and then runs back.  Then a crew on the other side does the same thing.   Over and over.  In the rain.
Jim in front of a museum display about the US Coast Guard.  Their duties on the Columbia River include  search and rescue, as well as port and coastal security.

A pilot boat taking a bar pilot to a ship.  Bar pilots are specially trained to steer ships around the dangerous Columbia River bar. 
Also seen at the Columbia River Maritime Museum:  The lightship Columbia.  A lightship is a floating lighthouse used where it's impossible to build a light house.  From 1951 to 1979, Columbia was anchored six miles from where the the mouth of the Columbia meets the Pacific.  It was the forth and final lightship that helped guide ships around the dangerous Columbia bar.  It was replaced by the automated light buoy seen at the left, which was in turn replaced by a more sophisticated version.   A 17-person crew manned the Columbia. 

At nearby Ft. Stevens State Park we saw wreckage from one 
of the ships that crashed near the Columbia River bar:  
the Peter Iredale, a four-masted ship that ran ashore in 
1906.  The English ship was sailing from Mexico to 
Portland.  Its 27-person crew all made it safely to shore. 
Jim and Cooper at the Ft. Steven's portion of the Columbia River, just south of where the river meets the ocean. 
Looked pretty quiet the day we were there.

The Russell Battery at Ft. Stevens, OR, just south of Astoria.  Ft. Stevens is the site of the only attack on continental US soil during World War II;  a Japanese submarine shelled the nearby coast on June 21, 1942 with 17 shells.  The US did not fire back, the submarine left, and no one was hurt. David Lindstrom, a historic interpreter dressed in a WWII uniform, was at the battery and we got a chance to speak with him.  

After leaving the Maritime Museum, we drove into Washington state across the Astoria-Megler Bridge, which is just over four miles long.  I double checked the bridge length on an Oregon Department of Transportation website because, although the bridge is very long, I couldn't believe it was that big. (It's over twice as long as the Golden Gate Bridge.)   The Astoria bridge was the final link in a Canada to Mexico highway.
Jim always says that you see lots of Washington State license plates at Oregon beaches because the Washington shore is mostly rocks.  Here Bev stands at the "beach" at a southern Washington county park.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Major Tom to Range Control

We’re at Camp Rilea, an Oregon National Guard installation in Warrenton, OR at the north west corner of the state.  It has only ten RV spots but we didn’t have any trouble reserving one.  Then we arrived and told the gate guard we had reservations at the RV Camp and he looked surprised.  At that point we’re thinking maybe this wasn’t going to be such a great place.  Besides that, I haven’t seen anyone from the National Guard up close since spring of my freshman year at Ohio State in 1970.
Despite all that, this is a great place.  And in retrospect, the gate guard was putting us on: when two people pull up in a motor home, the only other response to our obvious statement besides looking surprised was probably “duh.”
We knew we could walk to the beach at Camp Rilea, but the ocean-front section of the camp is (honestly) close to the National Guard artillery range and you have to get permission from "Range Control" to  take the road to the beach.  No one was home at Range Control, but the gate guard said if no one is at Range Control, that means no ones shooting and gave us directions to the beach.  So past the artillery range and to the beach we went.  The next day we did it all again, this time with the proper paperwork.  It’s beautiful.

Our campsite is next to a big grassy area, and also has a large grass hill right behind it...
... And if I move my camera to the left, you can see that
actually the RV park is just a parking lot.  But the big rig
right next to us pulled out this morning, and only five of
the ten spots are taken.  Plus, Camp Rilea is pretty -- all
the buildings are white with red tin roofs and there is lots
of manicured grass.  The entire camp is very well
Another view at Camp Rilea.  Jim was in the National
Guard for about a year before he transferred to the Navy
Reserves, and spent a weekend here in the late 1970s.
This is the sign we pass -- with permission, of course -- to 
get to the ocean.
Then comes the target practice area...  
Then comes the beach.   Here are Jim, Cooper and a message you may not be able to see unless you double click.
Bev found two perfect sand dollars at the nearby Fort Stevens State Park beach, and another one at Camp Rilea Beach.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Salem, OR (well, a Salem pub)

Yesterday started out as a need-to-get-some-chores-done day.  We did laundry, cleaned the rig, did some shopping.  And because we were scheduled to leave our campground in Woodburn, OR, today and had no other campgrounds lined up, Jim did some research and I made some phone calls.  Result: this morning we are on our way to a military base campground near Astoria, in northwest Oregon.  (The website says if the firing range is not active, you can drive out on the beach from the campground. We'll be careful!)
But back to yesterday.  After our chores, we drove about 15 miles south to Salem, where Jim was born.   Jim lived there until he was about 5 years old, and spent another summer in Salem right before his family moved to Yakima when he was about 8.  JIm's parents met in Salem, and Jim remembers lots of visits to aunts and uncles on both sides of his family  when he was growing up.
Before and after our Salem car tour, we made a mandatory (for us anyway) Oregon stop:  We went to a McMenamins.  McMenamins buys historic Oregon properties (plus a few in Washington) and turns them into pubs/lodges. The one in Salem is called “Boon’s Treasury” and in a previous life was a general store owned by Oregon’s first state treasurer, John Boon, who also conducted his state treasury duties from the building in the 1860s.

One of our favorite McMenamins is the Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, OR.  A former Masonic and Eastern Star home, the building features original photos plus artwork based on the people who lived there, and each room is named after former residents. (Mom: I wish I could take you there -- you would like it.)  To read more about McMenamins, click here.
The front of Boon’s Treasury.  It was later owned by a childhood friend of Herbert Hoover, and Hoover played on the roof of the building as a child. With the repeal of prohibition in 1933, it became a tavern and has been once ever since.
Jim in front of the Boon’s Treasury, one of 65 McMenamins.  Another great one is Edgefield, just east of Portland.  Edgefield is a 74-acre former poorfarm near the Columbia River Gorge. It now has a golf course and spa -- probably not part of the original poor farm.  We visited  it with Ashley and Shad on our way back to SLC after Season and Lee were married. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Portland area with the fam

You know you’re not in Utah anymore when the local brew pub includes a children’s play area.  And that’s exactly what we found when we got to Tigard, Oregon this past weekend.   
We picked Tigard not for the brew pub, but because that’s where our daughter, Season, SIL Lee and grandchildren Owen and Connor live.  It’s also not far from northeast Portland, the home of our son, Paul.  We also stayed a little further south at a private RV park in Woodburn, because the really convenient and pretty Tigard RV park was already booked some of the days we needed.  
Anyway -- Saturday evening was spent with Season and Lee and the kids.  Sunday we had breakfast with Paul, took a long walk in his neighborhood, and then celebrated Fathers' Day with a dinner made by Season and Lee.  It was very nice to see the Oregon contingent of our family.  Love you guys!
Grandson Owen riding his dinosaur.  Owen will be 3 in July. 
Five-month-old grandson Connor holding the favorite 
part of his play center.
Are these two guys cute or what?  Connor and Grandpa. 
Are these two guys cute and silly or what?  Owen and 
Lee grilling the Fathers' Day rib eye steaks, which
were great.
Season making a Gorgonzola sauce to go with the steaks. 
Also great.
Season, Lee and their boys.
I got so caught up in talking with Paul that we didn't
get the mandatory Mom-hugging-her-son photo.
But I did hug him.  And here's a photo he sent me a few
months ago.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mary Hill State Park and Museum

We have another primo camping spot right on the water: At Mary Hill State Park near Goldendale, WA, on the Columbia River.  
The first place we visited was nearby Mary Hill Museum, built by Samuel Hill, an attorney, Quaker, visionary, promoter of roads, and president of the Seattle Gas and Electric Company.  Born in North Carolina in 1857 and Harvard educated, Hill’s dream was to build a Quaker farming community along the Columbia River. His plan included a hilltop mansion home; however, Hill never finished the house, nor did his utopian society materialize.   
Hill was convinced by a friend -- avant garde dancer Loie Fuller -- to turn his unfinished home into an art museum.  Fuller (we saw a film of her dancing/swirling in voluminous fabric) helped Hill obtain an impressive collection, including 80 Rodins.  The museum also contains paintings, photographs and furniture belonging to another of Hill’s friends,  Queen Marie of Romania, a granddaughter of Britain's Queen Victoria.  And much more.
Hill died in 1931 before the museum was opened but another friend, sugar magnate Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, continued his dream.  The museum was opened to the public on Sam Hill’s birthday on May 13, 1940.   For more about Sam Hill, and this lovely and eclectic museum, click here. 
Jim hooking up the water to our rig at our great 
campsite on the Columbia River Gorge.  It got very 
windy that night and the river had white caps.

If you walk to the water at our campsite, this is 
the view:  The bridge to Oregon with 
Mt. Hood at the right.

The Mary Hill Museum-- named after builder 
Samuel Hill’s daughter -- was originally intended 
as a home for Hill and his family.  But Hill's wife, a 
Minneapolis native, did not like the west and moved 
back to Minnesota with their two children after only 
six months.

Jim and the Queen of Romania, who donated many 
of her own belonging to the Mary Hill Museum.  
She also dedicated the museum in 1926; 
the ceremony was attended by over 2000 people.

The Rodin Room of the Mary Hill Museum, 
with Jim near the back.
One of the sculptures on the museum grounds.  
As you walk past it, the image changes.
Jim looking at “Stonehenge,” another Sam Hill creation
just a few miles from the Mary Hill Museum.  Hill built 
it to memorialized local people killed in World War I 
(at the time it was thought England's Stonehenge was 
place where human sacrifices were made).  
Fallen soldiers' names are engraved on plaques 
placed on the large stones.  Hill’s grave is also nearby.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Jim’s hometown: Yakima, Washington

Jim’s family moved a lot when he was a kid -- he figures he lived in least six different towns in four states (Oregon, Washington, North Dakota, California) by the time he was eight.  They traveled because of his dad's job as a heavy construction carpenter on hydro electric dams.
When Jim started the third grade, he thinks his mom “encouraged” his dad to stay in one place so the kids could have a little stability in school, and Jim lived with his family in Yakima, Washington, until he graduated from high school.  
Of course, Yakima was a must-do on our trip through the Pacific Northwest. Besides driving all over the city of about 80,000 people (Jim said about 40,000 lived there when he did), we were treated to a barbecue at the home of Pat and Cindy, Jim's friends from high school.  Pat and Cindy also took us out to dinner -- where we were joined by Kennewick friends Buddy and Nancy -- and took us hiking and on a car tour.  Thanks so much, Pat and Cindy!
The last night we were in Yakima, we also went to dinner with Jim’s high school friend and college roommate, Rich, and Rich's wife, Barbara.  

The house where Jim lived with his family from the 
time Jim was 14 until he graduated from high school.
Some of the older buildings in Yakima have gorgeous 
architectural details.  Here Jim stands in front of 
the entrance to his junior high school.  It was 
originally built in 1928; when it was rebuilt in 1996, 
this entrance was moved and rebuilt brick by brick.
A closer view of the architectural detail on Jim's 
junior high school (Franklin Junior High).
High school friends Jim and Pat.
Jim with Pat and Cindy, who started dating in high 
school and have been together ever since (as a matter 
of fact, Buddy and Nancy who we met up with Sunday, 
have been together since high school, too.) Jim and Pat 
met in junior high school and both graduated from 
Yakima’s Davis High.   Pat recently retired from a career 
with a manufacturing company and Cindy was a
dental assistant.  They spent the evening telling funny 
stories my writing can’t do justice to -- but suffice it to 
say they had a lot of fun in high school. And we're all 
glad that guy who dove into shallow water and was 
bleeding from his head survived.
Jim, Pat and Cindy on a hike in Yakima's Cowiche 
Pat, Cindy, Bev, Nancy, Buddy and Jim (plus some 
remains from dinner) at Miner’s Restaurant in 
Yakima.  The hamburgers were (seriously) the size 
of dinner plates.
Jim and Rich were high school friends and then 
college roommates during freshman year at the 
University of  Washington  before Jim went in the 
Navy.  Rich and his wife, Barbara, have lived all 
over the country but are back in Yakima.
We visited the Yakima Valley Museum, probably the 
best local museum we've seen -- and we've seen a lot 
of them.  It has historical exhibits on the Yakima 
Valley natural history, pioneer life, early city life, 
and the roots and development of the Valley’s fruit 
industry, a reconstruction of the Washington D.C. 
office of former Yakima resident (and graduate of 
Jim's high school) Supreme Court Justice William 
O. Douglas, and a changing special exhibitions. 
One of the special exhibits is seen above:  Head Over 
Heels Over Heels, seen above.  It was part of the 
collection of a Yakima resident David Childs, who 
was fascinated by high heels, worked at Nordstrom's 
shoe store in Yakima, and collected hundreds of high 
heels for over 40 years.  In addition to selecting the 
shoes for display, Mr. Childs wrote the copy for 
interesting signs telling about his love of shoes plus 
details about the styles and how they changed.
When we were leaving the Yakima Valley 
Museum, we saw a man trying to round up  some 
bees.  If you double click on the photo you can 
better see that he was right in the middle of the