Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Four new tires

After a night at Memaloose State Park on Oregon’s Columbia Gorge, we spent nearly a week with daughter Season and SIL Lee who live in Stayton, Oregon, southeast of Salem. Three nights we parked on their lovely property, which includes a creek and a forest. Then we camped 30 miles east at Detroit Lake State Recreation Area.

We did a lot over those six days. But first we took care of some business, as we had an “incident” driving to Stayton. We were on Oregon 99E near Oregon City when the road narrowed and our tires brushed the curb. The passenger side of the rig even briefly went up on the curb -- which was more like a very rough sidewalk. We don’t think the tow car went up on the curb, but its passenger-side tires rubbed the jagged stones/cement.  

We stopped to check for damage. Our tires looked scraped but OK, so we planned to find a tire store the next morning. By the time we wanted to leave for the tire store, our rear passenger side tire was flat.  

After a visit from AAA, we took both the tow car and our rig to Les Schwab Tires where we bought four new tires for our all-wheel-drive tow car and replaced one of our rig tires with a spare. 

All seems to be well.  More on the rest of our stay with Season and Lee later. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Memaloose State Park, Mosier, Oregon

After we left Yakima we spent a night at Memaloose State Park in the Columbia River Gorge. It's tucked between the Columbia River and I-84 and next to a rest stop. No real hiking, no river access, not much to do except walk the dogs. But it had lots of trees, pretty views of the Columbia River, and was good place to spend the night (which is all we wanted) if freeway noise doesn't bother you. 

We didn’t have reservations, so I called to check availability and left a message. We never heard back. But we’ve never had a problem at a state park on a Monday in the off season, so we made Memaloose our Plan A. When we arrived, a sign on the closed camp office said there were no full hookup (water/electric/sewer) sites, but lots of tent sites. By "tent" site, they just mean there's no electric or sewer. We wanted full hookups. And Jim didn't believe the sign. So we scoped out the campground, found a couple unreserved full hookup sites (despite the sign) and nabbed one.

The park was full of chubby ground squirrels and Maddie went crazy trying to get to them on our walks. Once inside, she stood on guard intently staring out a window until Jim finally pulled the shade.
Our campsite looks bucolic ... until you realize the white streak to the upper left of our rig is a semi tractor/trailer whizzing by on I-84. The tent (no electric or sewer) sites were big enough for RVs.  Many of them were close to the river and had the best views. 

I read that spiders often build a new web every night -- and this one was on our bathroom window in the morning.
We give this view from the dump site a second place award for "best view from a dump site."  First place goes to one we saw several years ago at the Olympic Peninsula. That one had a view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. 
The campground at dusk. Memaloose is named for a nearby island in the Columbia River  where Chinook Indians placed bones of their deceased on open pyres.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

She said she broke her wing

We spent four days in Yakima, Washington, and camped at Sportsman State Park close to Yakima's downtown. Like I said in our last post, part of the trip was to attend Jim's 50th high school reunion.  We also wanted to spend time with Jim's high school friends, Pat and Cindy. And we did.  But not as much time as we'd hoped because Cindy broke her arm just days before we arrived when she tripped on her flip flop sandal while taking a walk. Ouch.

Despite Cindy's badly broken arm and upcoming surgery to repair it, she and Pat hosted us at their place twice. What a super trooper Cindy is.  

Mend fast, Cindy. And thanks to you and Pat for your hospitality. 
A photo of Cindy, Jim and Pat taken on a previous trip to Yakima and to Bale Breaker Brewing Company.  We had plans to go to Bale Breaker again. But instead there was an arm breaker. We'll make it there another time.

I have no idea if these are edible or poisonous mushrooms  -- but if you know they are edible and you like mushrooms you should head on over to Sportsman State Park in Yakima.  The fungi are huge (the size of my outstretched hand) and all over the place.
Jim walking the dogs on Yakima's Greenway, which includes a trail along the Yakima and Naches Rivers.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Yakima and AC Davis High School 50th reunion

After Kennewick we drove 85 miles northwest to Yakima, Washington. Jim graduated from AC Davis High School in Yakima, and we attended his 50th high school reunion. 

I remember going to my high school alumni meeting the year I graduated from high school and seeing the handful of folks celebrating their 50th graduation anniversary. I also remember wondering how they could even walk at that age. 

Well -- here we are. We’re not only walking but feeling pretty good, as were the 100 plus people at Jim's reunion dinner. 

The reunion committee planned a weekend of events including a golf game, happy hour, tour of the newer high school (the old AC Davis High was torn down in the late 1970s), and a dinner at the local Red Lion. We just went to the dinner.  Both the food and the people were great. I didn’t know a soul and had a nice time.  And Jim -- whose idea of a major social activity is taking a hike with his dog and meeting someone on the trail -- was a social butterfly. 

We heard about long marriages, some shorter marriages, family, travel, kids and grand kids, people working as teachers, nurses (and many other jobs); military service, sports activities, health problems, and happy lives with some sad in there, too.

Reunion attendees got into groups according to elementary school for photos. Above are those who went to McKinley Elementary School.  That's Jim in the front second from left. Jim is talking to Patty, a neighbor who lived across the street. Patty's Mom is 99 and still lives in the same house. The woman in teal green Evelyn, Jim's next door neighbor back then.  Evelyn's father was the principal of McKinley grade school.  
Jim's name tag.  His legal name is Lance but no one who knows him calls him that, nor would most of his fellow graduates have remembered his legal name. So we made an edit.  Jim graduated with about 400 kids.  Former Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas was also an AC Davis graduate. From a previous class, of course.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Kennewick, Washington

Kennewick is on the banks of the Columbia River in southern Washington and just southeast of the confluence of the Columbia and Yakima Rivers.  We spent three days in Kennewick and did more than just get our RV plumbing problems resolved.  

We were treated to lunch by Jim’s high school friends Buddy and Nancy (Thank you so much!) who both worked in local schools before retiring. And we spent time with Jim’s sister Cathy. First we watched Cathy’s granddaughter, Grace, play fast pitch softball. Grace got a solid hit and made a great play at shortstop. (Cathy also has three other grandkids:  James, Chloe, and Emily, the kids of Cathy's daughter Megan and SIL James). We also visited with Cathy at her home and had dinner with her at an excellent restaurant in nearby Richland called Lulus.

The dogs were with us when we went to Grace’s softball game. Cathy brought her four-month-old lab puppy and we thought our dogs might like to play with him. But our dogs barked and jumped and misbehaved with Cathy’s sweet and friendly pup, Jake. We later took our two dogs to a Kennewick off leash park at Badger Mountain Community Park, where they were friendly and appropriate with all dogs and all people. Thank goodness.

One thing we did not have with us most of the time was a camera.  So no new photos this time, but below are two photos taken on a previous trip.

Cathy and Jim.  The sibs share a January 20th birthday.
Nancy, Buddy, and Jim.  Buddy and Jim graduated in the same class from AC Davis high School in Yakima.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Plumbing problems

About the time we got to Baker City, Oregon, we felt like the Beverly Hillbillies before they got to Beverly Hills.  Or maybe we felt like a family we once met who were traveling from Maine to California. They were in a small camper with two kids, a couple of dogs, a flock of chickens in a cage on top of their tow car -- and a broken water pump.

Because we had plumbing problems.

Our toilet wouldn’t flush, our hot water heater leaked, and even though the leaky hot water heater created hot water no hot water flowed from any faucet. Jim cleaned the spigot screens which helped the cold water flow, but still no hot water. I scrubbed the toilet flush holes with vinegar, which helped a little. 

After research and sympathetic comments from fellow RVers, we decided there must be hard water build up in the pipes. So while in Kennewick, Oregon, we heated five gallons of white vinegar and twenty gallons of water on our stove, poured it in the fresh water tank, and ran the fresh water through the faucets and toilet. 

That fixed the toilet problem and hot water heater leak. But hot water still didn't flow from our spigots. 

RV park staff in Kennewick recommended we call Paul the Trusty Wrench RV Doctor, a mobile RV service. Paul pulled out a drawer at the bottom of our closet, reached in, and voila. Running hot water.

Our motor home has what's called a water heater bypass. When a motor home is prepared to be idle in colder climates -- like ours was when we stored it in Utah last winter -- a bypass valve is opened. When our rig was de-winterized, the bypass should have been closed. The RV place that winterized and de-winterized our rig -- Motor Sportsland RV Sales/Service in Murray, Utah -- didn’t close a valve. Most folks who know RVs and read this will say "We could have diagnosed that!" but we never thought to check. Motor Sportsland also didn’t reattach an anode rod that heats our rig’s water via electricity. But that’s a whole ‘nother story. 

Anyway, Paul the RV Doctor knows RVs and he closed the water heater bypass valve. And now we feel like the Beverly Hillbillies admiring a fully functional cement pond. 
Jim and the Trusty Wrench RV Doctor looking for the water heater bypass, which was inside our rig at the back of a closet drawer.
And, a pic of 16-month-old Maddie looking for a squirrel.  She's a one-ear-up and one-ear-down girl.

Friday, September 16, 2016

A slow trek north

We’ve been on the road one week and two days, driving short distances and making short stops. This trip is a test to see if our two new dogs -- 18-month-old Arlo and 16-month-old Maddie -- can handle RV travel. Or maybe it’s to see if Jim and I can handle RV travel with two young dogs.

We left our home in Salt Lake City early afternoon September 7. We'd totally unpacked he RV when we got home last fall; it seemed like it took us forever to get repacked and moving. Once we got going, we drove just two hours to Snowville, Utah. The campground greeters were two goats who followed me into the office. Not just to the office, but into the office. The campground has a big grassy field, a half mile walking trail, and lots of wild critter holes, so with all that and the goats it was a hit with the dogs. So far so good.

Thursday we drove 165 miles to Three Island State Park in Glenns Ferry Idaho.  Lovely state park with lots of kayaking opportunities we did not take advantage of, plus a short trail to a winery that we did take advantage of. Only thing better would have been a second walking path to a brew pub. We had dinner and a flight of wine at the Crossings Winery and walked, walked, walked the dogs. Glenns Ferry was a major stop on the Oregon trail. One of the most treacherous river crossings was at the Snake River near what is now the town of Glenns Ferry.

Day three we drove 200 miles to the Mountain View RV Park in Baker City. We’ve stayed there before and it’s clean, pretty, and well-run. Again, we walked the dogs (a great path along the tiny Powder River took us into town), explored downtown Baker City on foot (again with the dogs), and left the dogs in the car one evening while we had dinner at Barley Brown’s Brew Pub. The restaurant was very busy and we had to wait, but we give the food, service, and beer two thumbs up.  

After two days in Baker City, we spent one night at the Pilot RV Park in Stanfield Oregon, northwest of Pendleton. It’s part of a Pilot Travel Plaza but the place was immaculate and the grass between the sites was lush.  Amazing for an RV park in the high desert.  And yes, we were close to dozens of idling semis, but the noise faded into a low buzz by the time we went to bed.  And I had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season at a very nearby McDonalds.

After a night at the Pilot, we made a 45-mile hop to Kennewick, Washington, and stayed at the Columbia Sun RV Park, a huge (145 sites on 25 acres), well-maintained place. It has two laundry rooms, private bathroom/showers, a work out room, and a big gift shop. It's pricey -- $50 a night -- but we paid half price for two of those nights with our Passport America membership, a discount camping club. 

The dogs have been reasonably well behaved inside the motor home, but it was at Columbia Sun where Maddie bolted from the rig with Arlo in pursuit; they made a quarter mile dash to a field where Maddie had previously noticed birds. Jim followed, I brought up the rear with the leashes, and it seemed like most of the rest of the RV park residents watched and/or helped. 
The Earp and James Campground in Snowville, Utah, just miles from the Utah/Idaho border.  That's our rig in the middle.

Jim wrangling the dogs in Baker City, Idaho.  I'm taken way fewer photos this trip because it's hard to focus and hang on to a leashed dog at the same time.  There's got to be a solution.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Traveling again!

Until last Wednesday, the RV was in storage and we were living in our Salt Lake City home. As I write, however, we are in Kennewick, Washington. It’s been a long time since we last posted. I’ll break down what we did while home under a few headings.

Family:  Daughter Ash, SIL Shad and kids Mia and Marshall lived in our house for 4 1/2 years while we were on the road, and we lived together whenever we stopped in Salt Lake.  At Christmastime they moved to a great home they continue to remodel in nearby Cottonwood Heights. Sharing a house worked out well, but everyone was ready to get back into homes of their own. Daughter Season, SIL Lee, and grandsons Owen and Connor live near Salem, Oregon, and spent Thanksgiving with us. Son Paul is living in San Luis Obispo with his girlfriend Kat. I got to twice visit my Mom in Ohio; during one of the visits both my brothers and their spouses were there, too.

House:  Once Ash and fam moved out, we started remodeling. Some of the work, in all honesty, should have been done before we hit the road. We got a new fence (the old one built in the mid 1960s was no longer keeping anything in or out), new kitchen counters and backsplash (“amethyst” colored formica circa 1992 had done its duty), windows, paint, electrical, yard work, three dead trees removed, you name it. Other than a laundry and a bathroom remodel, there will be no more home-related decisions until a-date-to-be-determined-much-much later. 

Dogs:  Jim’s beloved healer mix, Cooper, who was with us on all our RV adventures, died in February. Cooper was the reason we came back home to Salt Lake last October because he was too sick to travel. Jim took amazing care of his cantankerous best buddy of 16 years. 

Prior to Cooper’s passing we’d talked about getting “an emergency back up dog,” as Jim called it. I found her in November. She’s Maddie, a small (for us anyway - 40 pounds) brindle Shepherd mix. We were told she is a Dutch Shepherd and Maddie does look like photos we’ve seen of short-haired Dutch Shepherds. When we got Maddie’s vaccination records, however, the paperwork listed Maddie and several other dogs. “Dutch Shepherd” was written next to Maddie’s name. Next to another dog’s name was written “Wynona Judd.”  So were not putting a lot of faith in the original breed determination techniques. 

When Cooper died, Jim wanted to donate Coop’s unused food and meds to the dog rescue organization where we got Maddie; they suggested we bring the items to an upcoming adoption event. We walked into the adoption event with Cooper's meds and came out with Arlo, a doggie with hound head and what looks like Cooper’s body. Maddie and Arlo get along well, but Arlo is a handful who always has his nose in your face or closest body cavity.

Etcetera: Lots more happened in the year we were off the road. Right now, the dogs need attention and we have an appointment with a mobile RV repair service-- apparently, as one camping neighbor told us "motor homes don't like being left alone."  Nothing we can't work around, but we need to get it fixed.  More about that later.   
Arlo to the left and Maddie on guard at the right in our camping spot in Kennewick, Washington.
Dead tree walking.  While we were home, we had two dead trees removed from our back yard via 1)a guy slicing it about six feet above the ground and 2) a crane hauling it away in the air.   Here goes tree number one.