Friday, August 31, 2012

Not the sounds of silence

I can hear waterfalls here at our camping spot at Emigrant Springs State Park in the Umatilla National Forest in northeast Oregon.  Actually, I’m not hearing waterfalls.  I’m hearing traffic.  Loud traffic.  Because except for a frontage road, Emigrant Springs State Park is immediately adjacent to I-84, the big freeway that crosses Oregon from its southeast corner up toward and into Portland.  But pretending makes it a little better.

On the other hand, the park is near an original section of the Old Oregon Trail where  pioneers camped and replenished water supplies from springs.  Later this part of the trail became I-84.  So if you are going to put a park in the original location, I-84 is going to be right there with you.

Other than the sound of the semis (on the plus side, I have yet to hear the rapid “brp, brp, brp, brp brp” sound of compression brakes) this is a great campground.  It’s pretty, well-cared for, has big conifers and roomy campsites.
Since we’ve arrived, we’ve been hiking and taking it easy.  Today we also took a trip into La Grande, a town of about 13,000 people and the largest city nearby (and that got its name from an early French settler who used the term to describe the area's scenery). We had lunch and did a little exploring.  Tomorrow we’re heading southeast for a campground on the Snake River near the Idaho/Oregon border.
One of 7 cabins for rent at Emigrant Springs.  These are the nicest rental cabins I’ve seen at a state park.
When I say this park is near I-84, I mean it.  Above is a photo taken from one of the campsites that includes a complimentary freeway view.  Luckily for us, our campsite is as far from the traffic as the RV spots get.
Jim and a happy-to-be-in-the-shade Cooper next to a monument placed at Emigrant Springs by Ezra Meeker, who traveled the Oregon Trail in 1852.  Between 1906 and 1908, Meeker hitched a team of oxen and placed monuments commemorating the Oregon trail from The Dalles, Oregon to Omaha, Nebraska.  In 1910, Meeker took a second wagon trip to retrace the path and find lost portions; in 1912 he traveled the path in a 12-cylinder “Pathfinder” auto as part of his effort to lobby Congress for a national highway along the trail; and in 1925 he flew above the route in a bi-plane.  Meeker died in 1928 at the age of 97 when he was planning yet another trip -- this time in a car given to him by Henry Ford.

Bev near an Oregon Trail monument at our campground dedicated by President Warren G. Harding on July 3, 1923.  (Side note:  Harding is one of  8 presidents who called Ohio home.)
Our site at Emigrant Springs State Park.  The park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Tonight we went to an interpretive program about the local area given by a state park ranger.  While she was talking, some wild turkeys strolled by twice.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

In Kennewick with Cathy

Today we’re at Emigrant Springs State Park in Meacham, OR.  But before I get into Emigrant Springs, I still have one catch-up post:  Our three-day return visit with Jim’s sister, Cathy, who lives in Kennewick, WA.   

The first night we were there, Cathy came out to the rig and brought dinner, including a chocolate pudding cake like their Mom used to make.  Jim loved it and wants me to make one (Cathy gave us the recipe) ... so I'm going to make a stab at it after I figure out the altitude adjustments I'll need to make for Salt Lake’s 4500-foot elevation. On second thought, I'm traveling in a motor home -- I'll make it all winter long when we're in Tucson!

Our second day we went with Cathy to the CREHST Museum -- the Columbia River Exhibition of History, Science, and Technology in Richland, WA. The main part of the museum explores the history of the Manhattan Project, which produced the atomic bomb used in World War II.

Richland is part of southern Washington’s Tri-Cities area (the other two-thirds are Kennewick, where Cathy lives, and Pasco).  During World War II, Richland was the bedroom community for nearby Hanford, which was purchased by the Army and used as the site where uranium was transmuted into plutonium.  The plutonium for the second bomb the US dropped on Japan -- called “Fatman” and dropped on Nagasaki August 9, 1945 -- came from Hanford. 

At it’s height, 51,000 people lived in Richland and the vast majority were working on the Manhattan project or had jobs that supporting those who were.  Today about 48,000 live there and the economy centers on high tech (including still on-going nuclear clean up efforts at now-closed Hanford) and agriculture, including wine and potatoes.  

On our third Kennewick day, Cathy again had us over for dinner (our only contribution was ranch potato salad Jim found and loves from a local grocery store called Yokes.  Jim loves that stuff) and we visited with her and grand daughter, Chloe, who was being watched by Grandma -- and whose first day of kindergarten is tomorrow.
Jim and Cathy with our tour guide, Mr. Lane, who lived in Richland as a small child during the Manhattan Project years.  Behind them is a test bomb; Mr. Lane said they are still found around Richland.  While many cities were involved in the development and production of the atomic bomb, the main ones were the Hanford site in Richand, WA; Los Alamos, New Mexico; and Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Jim picking up wooden blocks with an arm like the one used to move contaminated materials at Hanford.  Cathy looks skeptical. 
We had lunch with Cathy at Richland’s “Atomic Ale Brewpub.”  One of the other diners had a dog tied near our outside table; Cathy asked the owner if she could give it some of her sandwich.  The owner showed us how his dog would keep a treat on its nose until told “OK.” 
While visiting Cathy we camped at Hood Park, an Army Corps of Engineer campground right on the Snake River.  Both Hood Park and the Hanford Project were planned by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pin Ball Wizards

I call this Pacific Northwest adventure the “pin ball trip” because we’ve gone up and down and over and across both Oregon and Washington all summer long.  After Grand Coulee, we drove north again to Rainbow Beach Resort, 50 miles due east as the crow flies from Lake Chelan and where we were last month.  This visit we spent time with Jim’s high school friends Pat and Cindy and Buddy and Nancy.  Rainbow Beach is on the Colville Indian Reservation, on the shores of Washington’s Twin Lakes near tiny Inchelium, WA.  The resort has homes, rental cabins, a grocery store, gasoline, boat launch -- everything you need for a vacation, including about 10 RV spots. Buddy and Nancy  have been coming here for over 30 years; Pat and Cindy for about 10.  Both have vacation homes at Rainbow Beach and we can see why.  It’s a beautiful place. And it was a great time.
If you if you accidentally leave your camera at Pat and Cindy’s, you’ll end up with a photo like this and wonder when you took it ... only to realize that you didn't.
Another photo courtesy of Pat and Cindy: their dog Eddie.
  And their dog, Ozzie.
About a month ago a sudden storm sent trees crashing and several homes were demolished.   Here the gang checks out one of the homes that was hit. Luckily no one was hurt and neither Buddy nor Pat’s homes was damaged. 
We took turns hosting dinner.  Here we have a great flank steak at Buddy and Nancy’s.   From left to right:  Nancy, Jim, Buddy, Pat and Cindy.
Jim and Buddy at Lake Ellen, where we took a car trip.
After a car trip, we had pizza in Kettle Falls, WA.  There’s a great bakery in Kettle Falls, too. Here the guys discuss something important.  
Pat took the ladies for a ride around the Twin Lakes in his fishing boat.  Earlier that day the guys went fishing and Jim caught (and released) an 18-inch trout.
Where’s Waldo.  Or in this case, find the American Eagle in this photo.  Both the guys and the gals saw it during boat trips with Pat. 
Our camping space at Rainbow Bridge Resort.
When we left Rainbow Bridge Resort, we took a ferry across Lake Roosevelt from Inchelium to Gifford,WA. It was the first time we'd had the rig on a ferry.   
After the ferry ride, Buddy and Nancy lead us part of the way toward Kennewick, WA -- our next stop and where Buddy and Nancy live. In this photo their car goes by Lake Roosevelt.
After we left Buddy and Nancy, our brake system indicated our tow car battery was losing power.  We stopped in Connell, WA, to check and sure enough, the battery was dead.  We called AAA and they jumped the battery.  The next day we got a new battery at the Honda dealer in Kennewick.  Here Jim waits for AAA at a good parking spot in Connell.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

From Yakima to Grand Coulee, WA

From Yakima, WA, we started north on Yakima Canyon Road (Route 821), which used to be the only way to get from Yakima to Seattle. We saw pretty cliffs on one side and the Yakima River on the other. We also saw a lot of good farm land; in fact, Grant County, WA, claims to be the largest potato-producing county in the country. 

We stayed two nights at Steamboat Rock State Park just a dozen miles south of Grand Coulee Dam.  The first night we went through the dam visitor’s center and saw a laser light show where colorful images created by lasers move back and forth on  a “screen” created by the spillway's water. When we first got to the dam, only a few small streams of water were visible on the spillway. About ten minutes before the show started, wide streams started coming down until the entire spillway surface was covered. You could hear the water being released before you could actually see it.

The 35-minute light show told the story of the Columbia as narrated by the Columbia River itself.   Apparently the Columbia River is a guy, likes Neil Diamond (the show ended with Diamond's “Coming to America"), regrets flooding 12 towns and ending salmon fishing as a way of life for nearby Indian tribes, and is proud of the jobs created plus the fact that the Grand Coulee helps irrigate 600,000 acres of rich farmland. As today’s special effects go, the laser show was tame. But it’s still amazing to see a light show on a huge screen of water and hear/see the story of Grand Coulee Dam from the viewpoint of the Bureau of Reclamation.

Dam facts:

Grand Coulee Dam is the largest hydropower producer in the US.

It was constructed from 1931 to 1941and officially began operating in 1942.

The dam played a critical role in providing power for US efforts in World War II.

It generates enough electricity to supply 2.3 million households with electricity each year and provides power to 11 western states (including Utah).

The amount of concrete it took to build the dam could build a 12-foot wide sidewalk around the equator.

The dam was originally proposed for irrigation and flood control.  Today, however, one of its most important jobs is the production of hydroelectricity.

A statue of Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake near the Visitor's
Center and the namesake lake created when Grand Coulee
Dam backed up the Columbia River.  Lake Roosevelt
stretches 151 miles from the dam to Canada.

My camera did very poor justice to the Grand Coulee
Dam light show, which runs every night from the
end of May through the end of September. 
Steamboat Rock, a basalt formation rising 800 feet
above Banks Lake, dominates the view at Steamboat
Rock State Park.  This photo was taken from near our 
camping spot.  We tried to take a hike to the top, but 
when you had to use your hands and your feet it became 
too hard for Bev (bad hands) and Cooper (no hands).
The view from Steamboat Rock toward the campground
and Banks Lake.
These deer watched us -- and then followed us a bit -- as
we hiked away from Steamboat Rock.

Our rig and tow car at Washington's Steamboat Rock State Park.  Our campsite was on a small rise looking down on other parts of the camp ground and Banks  Lake, a second reservoir created by Grand Coulee Dam.

Monday, August 27, 2012

More to come later

I haven't posted for a week because we've been cell-phone less and Internet less.  First we spent two days at a state park near Washington's Grand Coulee Dam.  Then we spent four days at Rainbow Beach Resort near the tiny town of Inchelium, WA, with four of Jim's high school friends.  So we definitely were not fun less. Details to come as soon as we catch our breath.
From left to right:  Buddy, Nancy, Bev, Jim, Cindy and Pat in front of a lunch spot near Rainbow Beach.  Buddy and Nancy live in Kennewick, WA; Cindy and Pat live in Yakima.  All of them went to Yakima's Davis High School with Jim. Well, Cindy went to Eisenhower High, but but there was much discussion of the guys she dated from Davis.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Yakima, Washington

We’re in Yakima, Washington, and spending time with the hospitable Pat and Cindy, Jim’s friends from high school (Pat and Jim graduated from Davis High School in Yakima; Cindy graduated from Yakima’s Eisenhower High.)

Yesterday they took us to see minor league baseball; we saw the Yakima Bears (the farm team for the Arizona Diamondbacks) play the Spokane Indians (the farm team for the Texas Rangers).  The Bears got drubbed, but it was fun.

Today we went with Pat and Cindy to the Yakima Farmers Market and had a great brunch at Yakima's Powerhouse Grill.
Cindy, Bev, Pat and Jim at the Yakima County Stadium, home of the Yakima Bears.  Unfortunately, the team will move to Hillsboro, Oregon, beginning next season. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

From LaPine to Deschutes to Toppenish

We’ve been on the move the last few days.  We left LaPine, OR, Wednesday and drove north to Deschutes State Park near where the Deschutes River meets the Columbia in northern Oregon.  Really pretty park; we had a camping spot on the shore of the Deschutes River -- the same river we camped near at LaPine State Park.  After one night  at Deschutes, we again went north to the Yakama Nation RV Park in Toppenish, just east of Yakima, WA, and on the Yakama Indian Reservation.  Today we’ll move to Sportsman State Park in Yakima.  Later this week we're going to Twin Lakes on the Coleville Indian Reservation in northeastern Washington where Jim’s high school friends Pat and Cindy and Buddy and Nancy have cabins.
This lynx lives at the High Desert Museum in Bend, which we visited our last day at LaPine State Park.  My favorite exhibit at the museum explored how Native Americans maintain their culture. As for the poor lynx, he was found defanged, declawed and nearly starving in the wilderness by a northern California hiker.  He may have been someone’s pet who was let go.  I’m hoping no one is that cruel and instead the lynx somehow just got away. 
We’d read that there were several major wild fires in Oregon, and saw this smoke plume on our way to northern Oregon's Deschutes State Park.  It  turned out to be a field fire, however. When we got closer it looked reasonably under control.
Jim connects power and water to the rig at the shady Deschutes State Park near Wasco, Oregon.
A common sight along the Columbia River on the eastern part of the Oregon/Washington border.
Teepees on the Yakama Nation RV Park in Toppenish, WA, on the Yakama Indian Reservation. According to a nearby sign, the 14 teepees represent the 14 tribes and bands of Indians occupying lands in Washington Territory that signed a June 9, 1855 treaty with the USA. Per the 'net, the treaty created the reservation and forced the Yakama to relinquish other lands.  The Yakama were hunter/gatherers known for salmon trading.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Possible TMI in this post

I color my hair.  That’s no surprise to anyone who knows me, since about every four weeks a different color covers my head. 
While I can apply hair color in our rig's small bathroom, I can’t rinse it off without making a mess.  So I check out RV park restrooms for one where I can easily clean the shower stall afterwards.  At a recent Nice 'n Easy time, a state park's showers -- with ceramic walls, ceramic floors and toilet-stall-like doors -- were perfect.

I really don’t want anyone to see me with goop in my hair.  So I applied the hair color, waited the requisite time, then literally ran to the restroom.  A separate handicapped restroom was blocked off for cleaning; oh no, were the regular showers closed, too?  Nope, I was in luck, and ducked into the closest empty stall.  Victory!  One of the other showers was being used, but I’d made it in without a face-to-face encounter.

I rinsed out the color, and was enjoying the warm water when I had a thought: OMG.  Am I in the men’s shower?  I came in the building on the side closer to where our rig was parked, and isn’t that where the men’s shower is?  OMG-OMG!!   Except for lime green shower flip flops, I’m totally naked in the men’s room.

My shower-room partner finally left (question: do all guys brush their teeth while showering?) but before I could get dressed, someone else came in.  At that point, I’m thinking maybe I’m mistaken and I’m really in the women’s room.  Then I hear a voice:  “Grandpa, Mommy says I should wear shoes when I take a shower.”  OMG.  It’s a kid.  With his Grandfather. (And a crazy mother who never lets him take his shoes off.)  I’m going to get caught and arrested as a sex offender.  My image, wet and disheveled (but at least without gray roots) will be on the internet when you type in my home ZIP Code and the words “offender search.”  

Grandpa and Grandson discuss who will take a shower first.  I’m hoping no matter who goes when, both will soon be behind a closed shower door.  My large gray hoodie will be good for the getaway.  My pants, not so good:  orange pajama bottoms embellished with pink bunny rabbits.  Plus, there are those lime green flip flops.

I quickly dry off, hear water start up next door, throw on my clothes, tuck my hair under the hoodie and run. @#$%!.  I forgot my cosmetic bag with my Venus shaver and a few other obviously female-type items.  It’s a quick run back, a quick grab of the bag, and I’m out.

Jim said this post is too long with unnecessary details.  He suggested I just write “I went in the men’s room by mistake and got naked.  The end.”  He also said from now to take my phone with me when I go to the shower.  So I can call for an escort out of the building? 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bend, Oregon and back at the LaPine State Park

We did errands in Bend, OR, and found out that somewhere in Portland or Newport, our rear driver’s side tire on our tow car picked up a 1 1/2 inch screw which caused a slow leak.  So we went to Les Schwab and in about 45 minutes and just over $12 were on our way to lunch at Bend's 10 Barrel Brewery (Jim texted SLC friend John for recommendations -- thanks John, it was good).  Then we drove around Bend (It reminds me of a bigger Park City without close by mountains), went to the grocery store, and looked for an air compressor so we can fill our tires at our leisure instead of at a gas station (the salesman at Home Depot told us about a Ryobi compressor where we get a weed whacker with the battery, but we just don't have the room nor the need for a weed whacker at the moment.)

Jim wants to get kayaks before we make another trip to the Pacific Northwest, so we  stopped at a kayak shop.  We also walked at Riverbend City Park on the Deschutes that is Bend’s version of the beach --it's very busy because it's very nice.
Jim and Cooper in front of part of the biggest Ponderosa 
pine ever recorded -- 191 feet high and 326 inches in 
circumference -- at Oregon’s LaPine State Park where 
we are staying.  Half of the crown was lost due to 
weather, so another tree is now taller, but it’s still 
biggest around in circumference. It was a seedling 
when Christopher Columbus discovered what he thought 
was the New World. 

A cool sculpture incorporating kayaks at Riverbend Park 
in Bend, Oregon.  You can see Jim to the left taking a 
photo from the other side.
The beach at Riverbend Park includes swimmers, 
floaters and dogs. 
Today we took a hike through the Ponderosa forests 
at LaPine State Park.  Later we met our next door 
neighbor who is retired Navy Reserves and fought 
fires for the BLM, so he and Jim had a lot in common.  
Then we saw what looked, to us, like a hugely tall 
class A rig, so we talked to the owners. The rig was 
13 feet high (big but not oversized in the class A 
world); it also looked brand new but was 20 years old.  
Both sets of campers have been to many more places 
than Jim and I, so we got good ideas. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

LaPine, Oregon

We left foggy, cool, breezy Newport, OR yesterday afternoon, drove 200 miles east and south, and arrived at LaPine State park just south of Bend, Oregon.  It was in the mid 90s when we got here about 3:30 p.m.-- quite a shocker after being chilly.

Then this morning about 6 a.m. our heater kicked on.  When I got up to shut it off, the temperature gauge inside the rig read 53 degrees.  Welcome back to the high desert.

LaPine is a big park in a flat, heavily forested part of the state.  When Jim worked for the Oregon Department of Forestry, he fought fires northeast of LaPine (near Sisters, Oregon) and said fire fighting is a little easier here because the flatness and lack of under forest (heavy shrubs and bushes) provides good visibility.   

LaPine State Park is on the Upper Deschutes River, a major tributary to the Columbia that drains most of the eastern side of the Oregon Cascades. There are also volcanic parks nearby, so there’s a lot to see.  However, today is going to be an errand day because one of our tow car tires seems to have a slow leak. So we’ll (carefully) make the 27 mile trip to Bend, get that taken care of, and explore Bend.
The Upper Deschutes River, about a quarter mile from our camp site.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Oregon Coast Aquarium

Daughter Season, SIL Lee and kids Owen and Connor drove to Newport today from their home in Tigard, OR.  We met up at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, just a short walk from our RV park.  

You can view sea life from above ground and through underwater windows. We saw exhibits about the shoreline, sea lions, sea otters, crabs, seals, jellyfish and more.

Afterwards we had lunch at Mo’s, walked around Newport, came back to our RV for a bit, and then the kids had to get going as three-year-old Owen -- who was still being a very cordial little guy -- would soon be in need of a nap.
Owen and a swirl of fish.
Lee, Season and Owen at an exhibit where you can gently touch sea stars (we used to call them star fish) and sea anemones. 
Connor does the Usain Bolt lightening pose.
Looking for seals.
Both the boys seemed interested in Grandpa's beard.
Lee and Owen as seen through the jellyfish exhibit.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Arrgkt, arrgkt, arrgkt

Yesterday we drove the rig for the first time in nine days; we are now in Newport, Oregon -- right on the ocean and pretty much due west of Corvallis, where Jim went to college at Oregon State University. At our former RV park we heard the roar of planes from nearby PDX.  In Newport, we hear a faint and charming “Arrgkt, Arrgkt, Arrght” -- which is how I spell what a sea lion says. We have not yet seen the sea lions, but they are obviously near by.

When we got the the Port of Newport RV Park, the owner told us fresh tuna was being sold on nearby boats and that people were crabbing on the pier, as in catching crabs not just standing around complaining.  As we were exploring, I told Jim I knew this wasn't cool to say, but every time we walked by a fish cleaning station I about threw up from the smell.  Jim said I wouldn’t have been bothered if it smelled like cow manure.  He’s right -- but come on.  Cow manure versus rotting fish guts?  I can see (and definitely can smell) the difference, and cow manure wins the good smell award every time.  But since Newport is a real fishing village, you are going to smell some fish.

Within very close walking distance to the RV park is the “world headquarters” of Rogue Brewery, so I took a photo of Jim with his camera so Jim could text it to our friend John, which is what they do every time either one of them gets near a good beer.  We also had dinner at Rogue.  Jim had salmon; I had a hamburger -- which come to think of it, may have been a continuation of our earlier discussion regarding smells. 

Today we walked around Newport and had lunch at Mo’s, where the clam chowder is said to be famous and the restaurant front is a garage door -- a customer once accidentally crashed through the front of the store; owner Mo told the customer she'd replace the damage with a garage door so the customer could just drive in any time she wanted.  We also went to nearby Nye Beach.

The Yaquina Bay Bridge on Highway 101 as seen from the 
Port of Newport RV park.  Yaquina Bay is a small bay 
on the Pacific Ocean and partially in Newport, OR.
A closer view of the Yaquina Bay Bridge with Jim, Cooper and a passerby to the right.
On the left are boats on the Yaquina Bay, in the background 
is the RV park, and to the right is the Rogue Brewery -- plus 
the restaurant where we had lunch.
Jim at the brewery.
This was taken in downtown Newport.  The town's two largest industries are  tourism and commercial fishing, and Newport is the self proclaimed "Dungeness Crab Capital of the World."
Another shot of boats and piers in Newport, with the Yaquina Bay Bridge in the background.
Commercial crab pots.  Crab season starts about now and runs until about February.
Jim and Cooper walk toward Nye beach, a few miles north 
of the RV park where we are staying.  It's  named after 
a man who claimed 160 nearby acres in 1866.