Northwest Journey Fall 1998

Hi all,
I have added a few names to my distribution list of these trip reports.  If for any reason you would just as soon not receive them, just drop me an email note, and I will remove you from the list.  I will not be insulted (much)!

Friday September 18

We woke up to dense fog this morning, but continued to finish preparing for our departure anyway.  By 8:00 the fog was pretty well gone and the motorhome was loaded.  We were on the road, Nissan in tow, by 9:00.

This trip is really combining three different trips into one:  First we are driving to Atascadero to visit our son, his wife, and our two granddaughters.  

After spending the weekend there, we are dropping back down to Cachuma Lake, just out of Santa Barbara, to join our church camping group, The Ramblin' Recs.  The group is staying at Cachuma until Wednesday, when we all move to Vandenberg AFB to the Famcamp there.  On Thursday, we are scheduled for a bus tour of the base.  As of now, there is a launch scheduled for Friday at 1:00 AM!  We understand it is quite an experience to witness one of these (even in the middle of the night)! 

We will be leaving Vandenberg a couple of days early, on Friday, and head up toward Oregon.  We are scheduled to meet Keith and Virg Scholl in Chiloquin, Oregon on Saturday evening.  This is just north of Klammath Falls.  From here, the four of us will explore the great North West for 4 or 5 weeks.

Our drive up here to Atascadero was smooth and un-eventful - just the way I like them!  

I should fill you in on the aftermath of our last major trip, where we had so many problems toward the end, all stemming from a grossly incompetent mechanic at Cummins in San Diego.  The service manager at Cummins was very apologetic and assumed full responsibility for the problems.  He bent over backwards to try to please me and put his "best" mechanics on the job.  He redid all the jobs that were poorly done the first time.  This included replacing the head again, having the fuel injector pump rebuilt and re-calibrated, relining the parking brake, and replacing the differential seal, which he said had been installed backwards!  This explains why the new yoke Rip Griffins installed interfered with the seal and caused all the problems in Albuquerque.  The mechanic there, when he replaced the seal, merely put the new one back in the same way he took out the old one, plus he removed the slinger from the new yoke that caused the interference.  Cummins replaced the seal yet again, putting it in the correct way this time.

The engine now starts better than it ever has!  It always starts in about a second or two, hot, cold, or in between.  That is a BIG improvement!  

A biggie from Cummins was that they (after much effort) were able to extend my factory warranty from 5 years, 100,000 miles to 7 years, 150,000 miles.  This means I have full engine warranty coverage until Sept. 1, 2000 instead of having it expire 3 weeks ago!

The one problem I have noticed that I still have is that the differential still is oily.  I checked the oil level when we got here to Atascadero, and it is about a quart low.  It was full at home!  The seal is definitely leaking.  One thing I did notice is that now that the seal is installed right side out, there is another sealing lip sticking out from the seal that would seal against the slinger cup if there were still one on the yoke.  It may be simply that the single seal is not designed to totally seal the oil by itself.

I have made an appointment with a shop in San Luis Obispo for first thing Monday morning to have it checked and hopefully, once and for all fixed correctly and completely!  I will also call Cummins!

Saturday, Sunday Sept 19, 20

We spent a relaxing weekend enjoying our grand kids and their parents.  We helped Doug, Carolyn's brother, celebrate his upcoming birthday Saturday evening, and enjoyed seeing his wife, son, and daughter along with Doug and Carolyn's parents.

Tomorrow morning I have to call the gear shop and get an exact time to arrive.  We then plan to continue from there to Cachuma Lake.  The fellow at the shop said "he thought" they had all the needed parts in stock.  Let's hope he was right!

I am going to send this message tonight, as it is probably the last place we will have a plug in telephone connection this trip.

Monday, September 21

I called the gear shop in San Luis Obispo and arranged to come in around 9:30.  When we got there, we found the shop was in the back of a narrow parking lot between two rows of industrial suites.  At the very rear, near the gear shop was, was parked a very large rental truck being loaded from an adjacent shop.  We parked along one side of the driveway and waited, and waited, and waited.  The owner of the shop said he didn't realize the truck would be there, but that we would have to wait.

Finally I asked the lady in charge of the men loading the truck about her schedule.  She runs a traveling road show for clothing and said when this truck was full, there was another one ready to pull right in.  When I explained my problem, she immediately went into a couple of the nearby shops and had people move their cars.  I then could back in next to the truck and they could start work on my rig.

They pulled the drive shaft, differential yoke, and the seal.  The owner checked the bearings, the preload, and the condition of all the parts and gave them a clean bill of health.  He replaced the seal, using sealant around it and put it all back together.  He could not see a clear reason for the leak, but suspects that it was around the edge of the seal where it is pressed into the housing, not the actual sealing lip.

We were back on the road by about 12:30 for a total charge of $82.60.  It could have been a lot worse!

We ran to a local supermarket and picked up a couple of items we needed for the pot luck dinners at the church camp out.  We then continued on to Cachuma Lake.

Our camping area here is really pretty.  There are large areas of grass with concrete parking pads.  Our group has all but one of the sites along one side of our road.  Behind them there is a couple hundred foot wide stretch of lawn between them and the road.  Our group tables are set up there for pot luck dinners, etc.  There are now three of us across the street.  

Tuesday, Sept 22

Many of the group went into Solvang this morning.  As we had just been there a few months ago when we were camped at Lopez Lake, we decided to stay at camp and do a few chores.

I crawled under the rear of the motorhome and wiped down the differential to make sure I could see any new oil that might leak.  At this point it looked clean and dry around the seal.  So far, so good!

Shortly before leaving home, I adjusted the angles of my front leveling jacks.  At Dave and Carolyn's my right front jack did not swing down correctly.  I discovered that the adjusting screw I changed stuck out farther than before, and snagged the hydraulic line.  Today I adjusted the position of that line so it will not hang up in the future.

I have my GPS unit mounted on the dashboard with a power cable that plugs into a cigarette lighter plug.  Periodically, while driving the plug vibrates loose and loses the 12 volt power.  Before leaving home, I made up a short cable and brought it along.  This morning, I drilled a small hole in a hidden corner next to a panel on the dash, and ran the cable through it.  I then connected it to 12 volt wiring under the dash.  This should eliminate the loss of power, and is a lot neater!

This afternoon, I spent a little time working on a small consulting job I hope to complete during this trip.

Tomorrow the group leaves Cachuma Lake and heads for Vandenberg.

Wednesday, Sept 23

We had a leisurely morning and lunch.  We took a drive around the campgrounds and lake.  I stopped at a pay phone and called Cummins.  They said to send them a copy of my differential repair bill and they will send me a check to cover it.

At about 1:00 we rolled out and headed for Vandenberg.  It was only about 40 miles and we made it fairly quickly.  I think we spent more time registering at the main gate, and then again at the Famcamp office than we did driving!

We are parked in what is basically a parking lot with hookups.  It is interesting that all the sites are wired with 50 amp service, but not 30 amp.  The office loans out adapters to plug in a 30 amp cord to the 50 amp receptacles.

We were disappointed to hear that the scheduled launch had been scrubbed.  It is now scheduled for sometime next week.  Oh well, at least we didn't have to get up at 1:00 to see it.  We slept the night through!

Thursday, Sept 24

In about an hour we will leave for our tour of the facility.  We were notified that the four hour tour has been reduced to a two hour tour.  They have eliminated a slide show that they had been told was boring, and they no longer automatically take you to a $5.00 lunch, but we can still go on our own.

Later . . .
We just returned from our tour.  Shortly before 10:00, a shiny Air Force blue school type bus arrived.  The steps into it were at least 12 inches high!  I had a hard time getting in.  The tour guide came over to see us and apologized that they could not accommodate us, but described what we would be doing and gave us a copy of her tour guide notes and map, so we could follow along as we followed the bus.

As it turned out, the primary feature of the tour was a stop at the Vandenberg museum, which has been functional for only a short while.  On our way there, we passed a couple of gantry complexes and numerous widely separated buildings.  Their airfield is the longest in the United States, although it only hosts 5 resident Huey choppers, and no fixed wing aircraft.  It was lengthened for landing the Space Shuttle.

Our host at the museum was marvelous.  He is responsible for setting up the museum and has a lot of experience in the space technologies.  He also was a very picturesque speaker, with lots of anecdotes.

After giving us an overview of the space development at Vandenberg he took us to a room with a number of rocket engines and  other hardware.  He gave us the primary rule for rocketry, one that has held true for hundreds of years and is still true today:  "Put the pointy end up, light the bottom."

In describing one of the rocket engines on display, he said "All you need to make a rocket is a couple of pumps, a shower head, and a trash can."  He then went on to describe these parts in great detail.  The pumps rotate at over 3000 rps - that's revolutions per second- not per minute!  (180,000 rpm if you don't want to do the math).  They have the capacity to empty a swimming pool in about 20 seconds!

The "shower head" is a chamber where the fuel from one pump meets the oxidizer from the other pump.  The "trash barrel" is where the fuel burns vigorously and expands outward to create the thrust.  Over 120,000 pounds worth for the small engine he was demonstrating.  Another engine on display produced over 300,000 pounds thrust, and the Saturn engines (none at Vandenberg) produce over 1.2 million pounds each (times 5 engines for the Saturn).

When asked how the engine is started, he showed a small chamber near the pumps.  This holds an explosive charge.  When detonated, it produces enough pressure and volume to spin up a turbine which drives the pumps.  This causes the initial combustion.  Now a small amount of the thrust flow of gas is fed back to keep the turbine running.  With the exception of all kinds of controls and monitoring equipment, that's all there is to it.

After lunch we all got into vehicles and headed for a location on the beach where in 1923, 7 destroyers ran aground, killing 23 men.  All the ships were lost and today there is only a small remnant of the bow of one of them on the beach.  There is a monument to the lost men on the cliff above the beach.

We drove by a number of launch sites on our way back.  There is a lot here!

Tomorrow we are going to try to get away by around 7:00 and head north.  We plan to make it past Sacramento tomorrow.

Friday, Sept 25

We started up this morning at 6:59 AM.  We were away all hooked up by 7:15.  We had a pleasant drive of about 380 miles today, and arrived at Dunnigan by around 4:00.  This is about 30 miles north of Sacramento.  We have another 300 miles to Chiloquin tomorrow.

The park here is very pleasant with mature trees between every pair of sites.  They have a 9 hole golf course and a lot of golfing campers.  This is an Enjoy America park and with our membership we got it for 1/2 price at $10.50.  A very nice park for that price!

This park is listed as "modem friendly", so hopefully I can connect in a few minutes and get this message sent.  I am at the mercy of the campgrounds for plugging into their phone lines, as I very foolishly forgot my acoustic coupler!  I was NOT a happy camper when I discovered that!  Next I work on some permanent lists for packing for a trip!

Saturday, Sept 26

We were away by 6:50 this morning.  We never unhooked the car, so there was no hooking up to do.  As it turned out, we only had about 280 miles to Chiloquin, OR, and after a pleasant drive with only a little wind and rain, we pulled into the Wagon Wheel park in Chiloquin at a little before 1:00.  This is where we agreed to meet the Scholls.

We were given the site right next to Keith and Virg's motorhome.  They were not in camp.  A little while after arriving, a 5th wheel pulled in next to us.  In talking to the people and mentioning that we had just arrived ourselves, they asked if we had any problems getting past the fire.  I said there was no fire as we came through.  Just out of Klammath, a whole hillside was now on fire and they were limiting the traffic through on the road.

Some time after 4:00 Keith and Virg arrived.  After our greetings they asked if we had been delayed by the fire.  When they headed back, the road was closed just in front of them and they were told it would be at least 3 hours before opening it.  They turned around and took a road that went around the Upper Klamath Lake - at least an extra hour's drive!

The campground here is really pretty.  It is a large expanse of grass on the edge of the Williamson River.  The river is about 100 feet wide here, and apparently quite shallow, at least in places.  There has been a fly fisherman wading out in the river since we got here.  He seems to be any where from ankle deep to about knee deep.  There is a dirt launch  ramp right in front of us where the fishermen launch their small boats.

Keith has told me to be sure and look at a marine engine the owner has in front of his  garage.  It is a reversing diesel!  I didn't know there was such a thing.

Sunday, Sept 27

While yesterday was quite overcast, today dawned bright and sunny.  there are a couple of small clouds over the mountains in the distance it is otherwise totally clear.

Today we will drive our cars up to Crater Lake.  

Later . . .
We had a very enjoyable day at Crater Lake.  The water is almost an unbelievable shade of deep blue.  The water is claimed to be about the most transparent body of water there is.  There are numerous scientific experiments carried out by divers and scientists because of the very clear water.

We drove the Rim Drive which is about 30 miles long and totally encircles the lake.  The views of the lake from the many turnouts are magnificent!  There is still some snow on the shores of the lake in one area.  Often, the Rim Drive is closed by now due to snow storms, but fortunately not this year.

We were back in camp by around 4:00 and had a relaxing afternoon watching the end of a couple of football games, including the defeat of the Chargers.

Keith and Virg are due over here any moment now for a planning session for the next phases of our trip.

Tomorrow we plan to dump, buy propane, and head for LaPine tomorrow.  This will be a short drive of only about 85 miles.

Monday, Sept 28

Out sites here are water and electricity only and I last dumped at Chachuma Lake.  I decided to drive over in front of the office where they have a dump station, and also to buy propane.  I did both and then drove back to our site to hook up the Nissan.  Keith went over to the dump station just as I was leaving the propane area.  After a while he came and got his pickup truck which he is towing, and a few minutes later we left for LaPine.

It was only about 85 miles to LaPine, but there was a 32 mile construction zone.  We encountered 2 flag men about 10 miles apart.  We waited about 15 minutes at the first one and about 5 at the second.

The campground here is a pretty little thing.  There are only about 25 spaces, mostly filled with long timers.  It is not a "shanty town" by any means though, with all the sites clean and neat.  

We are pushing the end of the season in this area.  Crater Lake was just waiting for the first snowfall, which usually occurs before now.  The Rim Drive which we took is one of the first causalities, with the stores and visitor center close behind.  This campground closes for the season in about 2 weeks, on Oct. 15.

We decided to go into Bend, about 30 miles north of here to do some shopping.  We figured on stopping at the Lava Lands Visitor Center on our way to prepare us for tomorrow's exploration.  When we pulled in, there was a sign "Closed Mondays and Tuesdays".  That takes care of the two days we will be here!  We went on to Costco in Bend and checked out for the unbelievable sum of under $13!

Tuesday, Sept 29

It was 27 degrees here last night.  That surprised me as it was still in the high 50's when we went to bed last night.

We drove a loop of about 120 miles south west of Bend today.  We started by driving to where a pair of lakes joined by a narrow stream.  Salmon are spawning in this area.  We didn't see the prime area, but it was very interesting.  Later, talking to Keith, I found out where they went and were able to see the salmon.

We visited about 5 or 6 lakes and a number of campgrounds.  There are many lakes in this area, and they are all beautiful.  Pine trees come right to the shore all around the lake.

After completing most of the loop, we reached the road to the Lava Cast Forest.  This is an area where molten lava from Newberry Volcano about 6000 years ago flowed through a forest at just the right temperature to solidify around some of the larger trees, preserving the exact shape of the trunk surface for eternity.  To reach this site, there is a 9 mile long dirt road.  This road has to be the absolutely worst road I have ever driven.  It has a major case of "washboard road".  There were areas where it didn't matter whether I drove at 20 mph or 5, it was still bone jarring.  We did, however make it to the site just fine.  There is a 3/4 mile paved path through the area.  We covered about half of it.  The path was in better shape by far than the access road, and we had no problems with Betty's wheel chair.

Next we headed to a couple of lakes, Paulina Lake, and East Lake.  Near them is Paulina Peak.  We drove up the road around and around the peak until we were on the top.  From here, you could see for many, many miles in all directions.  Almost directly below us was Paulina Lake, and a little farther in the distance was East Lake - a magnificent view!

About 7 hours after we left camp, we returned.  A most enjoyable day!

Tomorrow we head to Dufur, OR. (I always want to call it Dufus).  It is about 130 mile drive. 

Wednesday, Sept 30

We had an enjoyable drive here to Dufur this morning.  The road got quite interesting for about a half hour.  Approaching Maupin we started getting curves with signs slowing you to 40 mph, then signs for 30 mph, and then 20 mph.  They were serious too!  The curves and the up and down got sharper and sharper, and steeper and steeper.  We just slowly ground our way down, across the river, and back up again.  Shortly we were back to the normal up and down, more or less straight grades.

The town of Dufur is a small town with about 7 streets east and west and about 15 north and south.  There is one gas station, one restaurant and a neat farm and home supply store.  This store has about the best selection of nuts and bolts I have seen!

We will be exploring the Columbia River Gorge from this campground for the next few days.

This afternoon we drove into The Dalles, the closest city on the Columbia River.  We explored both the business and the residential areas of the city and ended up at Cousins restaurant for dinner.  It was very good!

Back at camp I climbed up on the roof and removed my local TV antenna.  I added this since our "Grand Adventure" to the Southeast to replace the poorly working circle antenna that came on the motorhome.  This antenna is the popular Weingard "bat-wing" antenna that work just great.  During travel it folds flat against the roof.  The problem I have had is that our roof is crowned and when the antenna is flat, the roof slopes down away from the built in bumpers.  Bottom line is that it rattles while driving.  While in The Dalles I stopped at Radio Shack and bought some rubber equipment feet.  I have now added two of these, spaced with a couple of washers to the existing feet of the antenna head.  Hopefully the antenna will rest securely on the roof now and not rattle anymore!

Thursday, October 1

Wow! October already!

Today we are going to head to the Mt. Hood and Hood River Valley areas.

I am now in Hood River (town) at a Postal Annex.  For $2 they will let me connect and send and receive my email.  That is how you will be receiving this.

Today we drove a route which included climbing part way up Mt. Hood.  On our way, we stopped in the town of Hood River and sent and received my email at the local Postal Annex.  

As we headed toward Mt. Hood, we looked up Rasmussen Farms, which were written up in one of our travel books.  They had about 14 varieties of apples, a number of types of pears, and several other fruits.  Of course they also had the jams and jellies and a number of related items.  In one of their green houses they had set up a display of movie themes, done with pumpkin headed figures.  It was very well done and quite entertaining.  We bought 2 varieties of apples, one type of pears, and some apple cider.  The lady who waited on us was very pleasant and strongly suggested we visit the Timberline Lodge, part way up Mt. Hood.

Continuing on toward the mountain, we drove through beautiful forest areas with solid walls of pine trees on both sides of the road.  As we approached the junction of the road that leads up the mountain, we passed two people at the edge of the road videotaping the scenery - it was the Scholls!  We stopped and chatted for a few minutes, comparing notes for the day's travels.  We then continued up to the lodge.

We did not know what to expect.  The lodge is a large building with a lot of stone and wood construction on the outside.  I went up the massive front steps to see where the handicap entrance was.  I was told it was around the end of the building next to the loading dock.  We went around there and entered among the laundry carts, up an elevator, down a narrow hall and into the lobby.

Once inside, it looked like we were in a castle!  There was a lot of stone construction and massive wooden beams.  As we explored, we learned more about it.  The lodge was built in 1937 as a WPA project, and is now run by the U.S. Forestry Service.

Downstairs in the lobby, there are several small rooms set up as museums.  There is a high class gift shop with $76 teapots, $33 bowls, and similar other products.  In the center is a huge circular stone chimney with 4 fireplaces around it.  The andirons are made of about 1 inch by 3 inch wrought iron which ends in a spiral about a foot in diameter.  The balance of this floor appeared to be primarily offices and the hotel check-in desk, etc.

The second floor is a large room with a couple of dining rooms around it.  The center is a continuation of the same stone chimney and another 4 fireplaces.  The front exits to a large flag lined stone balcony which overlooks the front entrance steps.  The door to the balcony looks again like that of a castle!  It is solid wood, 4 inches thick with massive wrought iron hardware.  It is about 5 feet wide by about 9 feet high.  The door knocker is massive iron, and must weigh about 20 pounds!

The opposite side has a large 9 pane window framing the snow and glacier covered peak of Mt. Hood.  It is gorgeous!  This floor also had a number of guest rooms.

The 3rd floor was largely a balcony surrounding the floor below, centered around the chimney, which extends well above to the roof.  The main thing here is a bar and seating around the circle.  There are also guest rooms here.  The next (and top) floor is strictly guest rooms.  We did not go up there.

I am certainly happy that the lady at Rasmussen's urged us to see the lodge.  It was really interesting!

As we left, we drove around the massive empty parking lot.  I am sure it is not at all empty during the major skiing season.  (There is skiing on the upper mountain year round!)  From the parking lot we could see three chair lifts.  One came up from below to the lodge level.  The next went well up the mountain to a couple of buildings.  From there, the third went even further up.  The lodge is at 6000 feet, the peak of the mountain is at 11,000 plus.

They are expecting snow on the mountain tonight.  The snow level is predicted for 4000 feet.  Back at our campground, we noted at least 30 seconds of rain on our roof, but we are on the "dry" side of the Cascades, with not a lot more annual rain than we get at home.

Keith and Virg invited us to a barbecue tonight.  We had barbecued hamburgers, beans, and a couple of deserts.  It was great!  With the increase of the cloudiness and wind, we ate in our motorhome, but that did not detract from the taste or the camaraderie!

Friday, Oct 2

Today we went to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Wasco County Historical Museum.  These are co-located in a facility which just opened a little over a year ago.  It has a number of very well done exhibits, a theater which shows several half hour "movies" about the history of the area, and a gift shop, cafe, etc.  

As we arrived we were given a schedule of the performances for the day.  The first item listed was a film starting at 12:00 noon.  It was then 11:58 so we headed right there.  It was a film about the early river barge operators, basically two, who fought the rapids and had very difficult and treacherous times.  They were fierce competitors, but in current day interviews each said that they inwardly admired the other and wondered what they could have accomplished had they worked together.

We then went into one of the major exhibits which was filled with both actual artifacts from the developing of the area and with video displays running short topical films.  They used a large number of LCD TV projectors.  The quality is now so good, I think we will be seeing these offered for use in our homes before too long.  They have a bright picture of just about any size you want, and are not much larger than a slide projector.

Before finishing this series of rooms it was time for the 1:00 film on wild flowers of the area.  It was interesting and had a lot of beautiful flowers, but I think it was far to "artsy" in its presentation.

Next we went to a talk by a local lady on "Sam Barlow and the Barlow Road".  This was a pioneer road built by Sam Barlow from The Dalles to Oregon City.  Prior to the mid 1840's, settlers traveling the Oregon Trail had to load their wagons on barges at The Dalles, and float them down the Columbia, over all the rapids.  Barlow Road was operated as a toll road by the local government and allowed a means for people to continue west with much less risk and struggle.  The presenter and her husband have been riding horses for years and have explored the road, portions of which still exist in the form they were over 150 years ago.

Now it was time for the 2:00 film Paradise Road.  This described the vision Sam Hill had about creating a road over the Cascades.  It was a massive project with a lot of political and financial problems and much opposition.  Finally it all came together and Sam headed up a team to build a "first class" highway along the gorge, winding across the mountains.  It was a work of art!  They had the finest highway engineer of the day heading up the design and built beautiful bridges, stone and concrete guard rails and even blasted windows into one of the tunnels.  Unfortunately, that tunnel was destroyed to make way for the current freeway, I-84.  Bits and pieces of the original road now exist as highway 30.

Whew!  We finally finished all the scheduled presentations and could now finish the displays.  First we decided to have lunch in their lunchroom.  Betty had clam chowder that was loaded as heavily with clams, potatoes, and celery as any we have ever had.  Betty says it was almost a clam chowder stew!  The girl said they had some corn muffins in the back, so she brought her one.  It was delicious!

After lunch, we finished the displays we had started earlier.  The Wasco County Historical Museum was a major display area in the center.  Like the other areas, the displays were bright, active, and interesting.  They also had a number of video presentations.  These add so much to our understanding of the area!

We then poked around the gift shop for a little while and finally left over 5 hours after arriving.  It was a most interesting day!

On the way home, we stopped at K-mart where I bought a couple pairs of jeans.  We then stopped at a do-it-yourself car wash and I washed the Nissan.  I was fairly successful at removing most of the grease spots from when the differential seal was leaking.  I know rain is forecast, but it will survive better clean!

Saturday, Oct 3

Today we are centering on the Bonneville Dam.  This is about 50 miles west of The Dalles.  On the way we drove as much of highway 30 as we could.  There is a stretch of about 10 miles which follows the original route of Paradise Highway, and even has some of the original guard rails and enclosed observation platforms.  It took us up to a small plateau with a marvelous overlook of the Columbia in both directions.  This is the area with the original architectural features still in place.

As we arrived at the dam we saw a sign for the navigational lock and went in.  There was a "ship" consisting of a tug and 5 wheat barges in the lock.  We parked and hurried through the rain to a small sheltered area overlooking the lock.  The level was dropping by a number of feet a minute.  Finally bells rang and gates dropped across the road.  Shortly the road started rotating out of the way of the canal.  Then the lock doors started to open.  When fully open, the tug started its engines, the crew untied the barges from restraints that rise and fall with the water.  The vessel then chugged out of the lock toward the west.  They then closed the lock gates and rotated the road back into position.  When the gates finally lifted the cars that had been waiting drove across toward the Visitor Center.  About the fourth car across was the Scholls!  We waved from the glass enclosed observation room, but for some reason they did not wave back.

The lock we saw was just finished in 1993 and allows up to the combination we saw go through: 5 barges and a tug.  The original 1938 lock was 10 feet narrower and about 20% shorter and required the dismantling of many of the barge setups to run a portion of the vessels through at a time, then requiring the reassembly of the rigs after passage.

Next we headed for the Visitor Center ourselves.  First we headed down four floors to the fish observation windows and the fish counting station.  These are windows into one of the fish ladder steps where you can see each fish as it passes.  They have people who watch the fish go by and enter the type and size of each one into a computer.  This is how the data on fish populations and migrating habits is generated.

The balance of the facility had displays and videos describing the continuing design of the dam, the operation of the various facilities, and the management of the fish.  Fish management is a very major portion of the current effort.  One of the videos we watched showed the Army Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg, MS running tests on a scale model of the Bonneville Dam.  Using this model they can test flow routes for fish discharged below the dam in various positions.  They want to keep the downstream flow of the young fish in high velocity flow areas of the river.  When the flow is too close to the shore, or in other low velocity portions, the loss to predator fish is extremely high.  By keeping them at high velocity, the predators cannot "hang around" to catch them.

A couple of trips ago, we visited this facility in Mississippi and saw similar models of Niagara Falls.

On our way home tonight, we stopped for a while at Wal Mart in Hood River and picked up a couple of things.  We then headed back to The Dalles and crossed the bridge into Washington.  The Dalles Dam is just upstream of the bridge and we could see the lock on the Washington side of the river.  We drove over to explore.  It was about 6:00 by now, so everything was closed and the gates locked, but there was a road leading to a launch ramp which ran just outside a chain link fence along the lock.  There was a boat about 60 or 80 feet long approaching the lock.  We watched it as it entered, tied down, and started dropping out of sight.  About 15 minutes later, the exit gates opened and the boat headed right out.  Another interesting lock experience.

Tomorrow we head along the gorge through Portland, and north into Washington to Castle Rock.

Sunday, Oct 4

We left camp this morning about 9:30 and had a smooth, easy drive to Castle Rock, WA.  We are at the entrance to all the Mt. St. Helens attractions.  They charge for everything here, even the visitor centers, of which there are several.  We are going to head out shortly and check out the closest one.  One 3 day pass is supposed to cover all the places we are interested in.  If you hunt, hike, and play in the snow, it takes 5 separate passes!  The seem proud that for $91 you can buy annual passes for all the things.

When we checked into the Mt. St. Helens RV Park, I asked about hooking up for my email, and the manager said "an 800 number? Sure!" so I am finishing this up and going over to send and receive while he still remembers!

After sending the last installment we headed over to the closest of the Mt. St. Helens visitor centers.  We were pleasantly surprised upon entering to be given two 3 day passes in exchange for showing Betty's Golden Access card.  It turns out that starting this year, they are recognizing the Golden Access and Golden Eagle cards.

The movie we were going to watch early on was non-operational.  A storm and power outage yesterday apparently damaged the projector.  The other visitor centers have similar but different movies.  We'll catch them instead.  We did watch a well done slide show of the events leading up to and subsequent to the eruption.  It was certainly a disastrous event in this area!

We attended a presentation by a young lady ranger around a small topographical map.  She gave a very interesting account of the events of May 18, 1980.  She showed us where various people who were observing the mountain were.  Some survived, some did not.  She showed how the various stages of the eruptions made major changes to the surrounding areas.  Spirit Lake was reported as destroyed by one of the local newspapers, but in reality it was raised about 200 feet and made both shallower and larger.  One of the nearby ridges, now Johnston Ridge, was scoured by the debris from the blast down to bedrock.  Many other changes were caused by the ash, debris, and the forces of the initial blast and the avalanches of mud and ash slurry.  Millions of tons of glacier ice was melted and added to the major flooding.

There were numerous displays and many photographs.  Tomorrow we will try the other visitor centers and hopeful get a view of the volcano itself.

Monday, Oct 5

We headed up the road to the mountain.  We first stopped at a Weyerhaeuser visitor center.  They had a nice set of displays and provided an interesting overview of the actions they took after the eruption to salvage lumber from the devastated areas and to re-plant new trees.  The areas outside the monument are all pretty well covered with dense trees 20 or 30 feet high.  This is all new growth since 1980.

We stopped at a number of viewpoints along the way and took numerous pictures of the mountain.  The closer we got, the more we became aligned with the north side, which is where she blew.  

The stop we most looked forward to was the Johnston Ridge Visitor's Center.  This is just 5 miles from the mountain, in direct alignment with the blowout.  The ridge is named for a government geologist, David Johnston, who was observing the volcano from the ridge when it erupted.  He was killed instantly when the blast wave reached the ridge.  One of the movies we viewed contained the last transmission from him describing the initial stages of the eruption.

The movie here was spectacular.  Using a combination of the actual photographs of the eruption and computer simulation, they show the avalanche, the largest in recorded history in the world.  Then follows the pyroclastic flow, which is the actual blast effect.  Hot gasses carrying debris ranging from fine sand up through rocks a couple of feet in diameter, traveled at over 300 miles per hour at temperatures of over 600 degrees F.  This snapped trees for miles and carried the closer ones with the flow.

Following the blast, came the "mud" flow.  Billions of tons of glacial ice were melted by the eruption, mixed with the very fine ash, and flowed for miles.  This is what carried about 200 houses with it, destroyed 11 bridges, and generally changed the contour of the surrounding landscape.  The consistency of the mud has been described as being about like freshly mixed mortar.  One of the examples the rangers site for its quantity is if it were concrete instead of mud, it could pave a 4 lane highway from Mt. St. Helens to New York City!

After leaving Johnston Ridge, we stopped at the Coldwater Visitor Center.  We saw a somewhat different slant here from some very high tech displays, all very informative.  We also visited their cafe.  This is the only center selling food.

Heading back to camp, we found ourselves 4 cars behind the Scholls as we were released from a flag man's stop 20 miles this side of the mountain.

Tuesday, Oct 6

We slept in somewhat this morning and got ready for our trek northward.  At around 10:00 we left and headed toward Rochester, WA.  This was a major move of about 40 miles!  It just didn't make sense to go farther, as the Scholls are going to visit a cousin nearby, and Betty and I can explore from here as easily as from elsewhere.

The park we are in is the first we have found that has telephone service available to overnight customers.  This is at no additional cost at that!  As we were driving here, I thought of something:  the telephone I carry in the motorhome dials using pulse dialing, not tone!  This means I cannot use it with my telephone calling card.  Hopeing to find more of these parks in the future, we went into Olympia and found a Circuit City.  Here we picked up a Sony telephone for about $18.  It is really nice!  Now using my splitter and both phones, Betty and I can talk at the same time.  Not too bad for a motorhome on the road!  The really nice thing about the connection is that I can connect to the net effortlessly!  You will receive this report tonight, and should receive the next one before we leave Thursday morning.

The rest of our activities today consisted of picking up a couple of needed supplies at Radio Shack, Napa, and a nice grocery store here in Rochester.  I completed a minor project:  I have had several times when my electric steps would go down when I open the door, even though I didn't want them to.  As they are designed, when the ignition is on, the steps raise by closing the door, and lower by opening it.  The manual on / off switch only works with the ignition off.  I now have a switch that tells the steps that the door is always closed, therefore the steps will not lower, not matter the manual switch position or the ignition.  A big improvement.

Tomorrow we are going to explore Mt. Rainier.

Wednesday, Oct 7

Today is the day the Scholls are visiting Keith's cousin.  She lives just  a few miles from here.

We decided to tour Mt. Rainier.  We plotted out a couple of possible itineraries depending on the conditions we would find.

The routes we took were all two lane roads after our initial 20 mile jog south on I-5.  The roads were really pretty, passing through several small towns, farm land, and forest.

Once we entered the National Forest, the scenery became truly lush.  Pine and fur trees, along with a number of deciduous trees lined both sides of the road for miles.  In a number of areas numerous trees are turning color.  Many of them are vivid red, bright yellow, and all the more subdued colors.  These trees are spotted among the solid green background of the evergreens.

We first stopped at the lodge at Longmire.  This is a small lodge/hotel, a general store and a couple of other historical buildings.  We shopped at the store, buying a couple of souvenirs.  Then we walked along a path between buildings.  

After passing the lodge, we came upon a small gas station, now a transportation exhibit.  It has two glass topped pumps.  You first hand pump the gas into the top chamber, then let it flow through the gas hose into your gas tank.  This gas station was operational until 1994!  It was just made into a museum this year.

There was also a small museum which had displays of the history of the area and the local wildlife.

Next we drove up to the Paradise visitor's center.  Along the way, we stopped a number of turnouts for magnificent views of the mountain.  Mt. Rainier has more glaciers than any other single peak in the contiguous states.  There are 34 square miles of glacier consisting of 25 named glaciers and 50 un-named.

We saw a video of the history of the mountain, and numerous displays of the area and the mountain.  The facilities around this volcano are much older and "lower tech" than the ones at Mt. St. Helens.  I suppose this comes not having the area totally destroyed within the last couple of decades!  In spite of any lagging of facilities, the view of the mountain, especially from up close, is truly spectacular!

Tomorrow we head north for Anacortes, on Puget Sound.

This is a pretty short volume, as I will be losing my "in-house" phone service in the morning.  It has really been nice.  In addition to the Internet access, it allowed us to easily make a number of phone calls to check out account balances and current billing info, as well as to allow both of us to talk to our family.  I hope other parks will hurry to add this service!

Thursday, Oct 8

We awoke to fog, low clouds, and rain (as had been predicted).  After looking at the conditions for a while, we all decided to stay put for another day and mostly relax, so we did.

I got a lot of work done on my consulting job and Betty got a lot of trip planning done.

In the afternoon, Keith and I ran over to Costco in Tumwater and picked up several things.

We were ready for a restful day!

Friday, Oct 9

Today had showers predicted, as the front had passed.  Although the day started out about the same as yesterday, conditions got better quickly.  We headed out for Anacortes and had a comfortable drive with only light showers.

Our campground here is an Anacortes city park, Washington Park.  It is a large area of very dense pine and fir trees with well separated sites.  The only problem we found is the trees are so dense that there is absolutely no way to set up the satellite antennas.  We are having to make do with half a dozen "local" channels.  About half are Canadian, and about half are reasonably watchable.

We found a nice restaurant on one of the harbors and all went out to dinner tonight.  We each had one of their several salmon dishes.  It was really good.  

Saturday, Oct 10

Today was our day to ride the ferry to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.  Our campground is only about 3 miles from the ferry landing, so it was an easy drive.  We got there about 8:45 for a 10:10 sailing.  They suggested getting there at least a hour ahead and we beat that somewhat.  

As we paid our toll, I told them about Betty and her wheelchair.  He said that he didn't think our boat had an elevator, and that we would have to stay on the car deck.  We were very disappointed!  When we stopped at the next booth, the one where they tell you which lane to get in, he said there was indeed an elevator, and placed a bright pink slip under our wiper blade.  As we loaded, each attendant directed us until we ended up as the front car in the very side car aisle.  Right behind us was the elevator!

The ride was about 1 1/2 hours with a stop at Lopez Island.  Upon reaching Friday Harbor, we found the loop road around the island and took it.  Next we returned to Friday Harbor and explored it, now that all the ferry traffic had dissipated.  It was interesting to see the ferry come and go a couple of times.

We lined up for the 4:00 ferry home.  We were the last car on! (Almost.)  After we were parked, they backed 4 more cars in.  These would exit at Lopez Island.  Again we were right next to the elevator.  We were on the same boat we came over on, but it was turned around, putting the elevator in the rear.

We had a beautiful trip home.  The sky was nearly overcast as we left home, broken by the time we sailed, and scattered for the trip home.

We are going to do some local sight seeing in the morning, then will decide whether to stay the day, or head south.

Sunday, Oct 11

We got up this morning and headed out to Deception Pass.  This is a narrow passage where the tidal waters from a large portion of the Sound has to pass.  During the changing of the tides, a fast current flows through the pass, causing swirling water and back flows just past it.  This can make for some interesting times for people piloting boats through it.

There is an excellent viewpoint pull off just before the bridge.  We watched a small boat approach the pass, turn around, hold his position for a moment then slowly head into the current and through.  He obviously was playing with the currents, as once through, he hit it and rapidly pulled away.

We then drove over the bridge and parked.  I walked back and viewed the water from each side of the bridge.

Heading back, we located the road up to Erie Mountain, a small peak within the city of Anacortes.  The road goes to the top where there are a couple of observation platforms out past the trees.  The view is spectacular.  From the first there was a great view of Mt. Baker, with a  view of several other snow covered peaks to the south. We could see a number of the 100+ islands that are in the Sound. The second viewpoint showed the city portion of Anacortes, Washington Park, where we were camped, and many more islands.

We broke camp and headed south.  We ended up in Puyallup, WA.  The weather forecast is for significant rain and gale force winds up near where we were.  If the weather acts as forecast, we will skip going back up to Port Angeles, which is not far from Anacortes, only on the west side of the southern sound.  It looks like a lot of rain for the next week.

Tonight in our motorhome, we heard a distant "BANG" followed by popping sounds.  Fireworks?  I went out and looked and behind us, slightly to our left was a fireworks display.  I have no idea what the occasion was, but Betty and I were able to watch about a 10 minute display out our window.  An unexpected surprise!

It hasn't started raining yet, but all the forecasts and radar shots confirm that it is on the way.

Monday, Oct 12

Happy Columbus Day!  Thirty years ago today we moved into our house!

We woke up this morning to a steady rainfall.  It was not heavy, but it was steady.  Last night's campground was not only the most expensive of the trip, but was also the least desirable.  The lady in the office was not rude, but was not very friendly.  The sites were strictly back-in on gravel, with very close spacing between the rigs.  Most of the tenents were long term.

We hooked up the cars and pulled out before 10:00 heading for Long Beach, WA, about 150 miles away.  We will head down the coast from here, skipping the planned trip up the coast to Port Angeles.

It was rainy the whole way here, but it was not a bad drive.  The rain was light with periods of almost none.

Long Beach is located on a 20 mile long spur at the southern most point of the Washington coast.  They claim the longest beach in the world, therefore the name.  We are camped about 3 blocks from the ocean.  The campground here is quite nice.  It is all grass with trees around the edges, and the people in the office are as nice as can be.  We have identified several attractions in the area to see tomorrow.  

The rain has slacked off a lot this afternoon.  It is supposed to rain tonight, then transition to a period of showers.

Tuesday, Oct 13

Our campground is "modem friendly", and I went over to the office this morning and sent the last volume, covering a number of days.

We headed out a short while later to explore the area.  We poked around the beach and boardwalk, stopped at the post office to mail a couple of things, looked around at a kite shop's wares, and headed south.

Near Ilwaco, WA we found Fort Canby State Park.  We wanted to see the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center there.  First we checked out the campgrounds and drove out to the North Jetty.  This is at the north edge of the Columbia River where it joins the Pacific.  From here we could see the Cape Disappointment light house and what turned out to be the Interpretive Center.

The beach at the base of the jetty was just covered with driftwood.  Normally I think of driftwood as branch sized pieces of wood, usually no larger than a couple of feet.  This contained full size logs!  There were pieces ranging from fairly small branches, stumps, long logs, long twisted pieces.  It was amazing.

We didn't know if we would be able to visit the Interpretive Center, as the write up indicated an uphill trail of a couple hundred yards.  This could be a problem with the wheelchair.  As we approached we saw a turn off for the disabled.  We drove up a very narrow road and parked just outside the center.  Of course just as I got the wheelchair out and started to get Betty out, it started to pour!  I threw the chair back in the car and jumped in myself.  After about 5 to 10 minutes the rain slowed down and we went in.

The first thing we did was to attend the slide show.  This chronicled the journey Lewis and Clark took from the Missouri River to the west coast where the Columbia River exits.  I now know much more about them than I ever remembered from my school days!

There were numerous artifacts from the expedition including journal entries, tools, and personal effects.  It was very interesting and educational.  After seeing the downstairs exhibits we went up a ramp back up to the main floor.  As we came up there was a large picture window giving us a 180 degree view of the ocean.  It was spectacular!

The center is built at the location of the fort.  The concrete gun emplacements can still be seen.

Next we took a drive up the length of the peninsula, a little over 20 miles.  There are several small towns such as Oysterville, where there were huge piles of oyster shells next to several of the buildings.

We concluded the day at a seafood restaurant back in Long Beach.  Betty had scallops and I had prawns.  We each ordered the "light" portions which give you about 2/3 the quantity of the full meal.  Shortly after we were served, the waitress came with 5 more scallops, saying the chef cooked too many, and we could have them if we wanted.  They were delicious, as were my prawns.  A very good meal!  We both thoroughly enjoyed it!

Wednesday, Oct 14

We awoke to isolated showers this morning.  We had decided to stop at a couple of places during our drive to Tillamook.  The first was to be Fort Columbia.  The information in the AAA book showed it closed for the season on Sept. 30.  A local visitor center lady assured us it was truly open.  When we drove in the narrow driveway, we were greeted by a sign saying it was closed.  There was a small turn-around circle just ahead.  We felt we could make it around in it.  As Keith made the loop it became painfully obvious that he was not going to make it!

With his wheels turned to the stop, his front axle was going to come around outside a sharp curb on the side of the road.  We unhooked his Nissan truck, backed the motorhome and made it around then re-hooked the car.  Next it was my turn.  I cut my turn a little earlier than Keith, and only one of my wheels did not clear the curb.  I was able to drive it over the curb OK.  So much for that stop!

Our next stop was far more successful!  We went to Fort Clatsop National Memorial, near Astoria OR.  This is where Lewis and Clark settled for the winter after completing their trek westward.  The parking lot had several empty RV / bus parking spaces.

As we entered the visitor center, the ranger suggested we attend the movie which was just starting.  Then she suggested we skip the slide show which was scheduled, and go outside instead.  There were two buses worth of school kids there, probably 4th or 5th graders, and there was to be a flintlock rifle demonstration for them.  We were invited also.

The movie was another account of the Lewis and Clark expedition.  It obviously restated much of what we learned yesterday, but also brought out a number of differently slanted views.  

Next we went out back where there is a fully recreated fort, duplicating as well as possible, the original L & C fort.  There was a deerskin clothed man inside giving a talk to as many of the school children as would fit in the room.

Shortly later, in an area behind the fort, the story teller came out carrying a rifle.  He gave a brief description of the operation of the gun, then invited a number of the kids to help him demonstrate the operation.

He had several stand in a line as the stock, 8 or 10 more forming two lines in front as the barrel.  He then recruited two as the flint and lock, one as the main powder, one as the packing, one as the bullet, one as the priming powder, and one as the trigger.  He walked the powder, packing, and bullet into the barrel.  He put the priming powder next to the flint and lock.  He then had one of the teachers "pull" the trigger.  The flint and the lock then "high 5'ed" setting off the priming powder who went "bang!".  This set off the main powder (also "bang!"), driving the packing and the bullet out the barrel.  

It was a very effective demonstration, not only of the operation of  flintlock rifle, but also of the value of teamwork!

Now that everyone knew what to expect, he proceeded with the demonstration of the actual flintlock rifle.  The ranger described what he was doing as he went through each step.  When he finally had completed the loading process (using a paper spit wad for a bullet), he held it to his shoulder, aimed out toward the woods, and fired.  It worked the first time!

We then went back in and viewed the displays.  The contents of this visitor center and yesterday's interpretive center were very similar.  Lewis and Clark first reached the Pacific in Washington.  After a few days, they crossed the Columbia to the Oregon site, as it was felt that there would be more elk and other food there.

We now feel we are almost ready to be certified as Lewis and Clark experts!

We then headed down the coast toward Tillamook.  We took a look at one park, which was mostly mobile homes, and decided to go to our other choice about 4 miles further.  This is a nice park with very wet grass, and a lot of closely parked RV's.  As seems the be standard in this part of the country, they have cable TV.  Almost all our last 10 or so campgrounds have had cable, except for the city park.

After settling in, we headed out and toured the Tillamook Cheese Factory.  This was very interesting.  They have a self guided tour that takes you to the second floor.  Large windows let you look down to the factory operations on both sides.  TV monitors at several locations describe the manufacturing operations in detail.  The first side consisted mostly of huge tanks and closed machines.  The only moving operation on that side was a line where 40 pound blocks of cheese were placed in plastic bags, and run through vacuum sealing machines.

The other side was laced with conveyors, rotary "step and process" machines and lots of operators.  On the near side, 40 pound blocks of cheese came down a conveyor to a cutting station.  The blocks were pressed through cutting wires at making 8 5 pound loaves, with small slabs left over from around the edges.

The 5 pound loaves then travel along another conveyor across a weighing station.  A short length of conveyor then shifts sideways if needed to place the loaves in one of three rows on the next conveyor.  If it stays in the center, it is in tolerance.  If it moves toward us, an operator lays a thin strip of cheese on top of the loaf.  If it is on the far side, and operator uses a hand cutter and trims a piece off one end of the loaf.

From here, the cheese fills all 3 rows and passes through a machine that wraps it.  From here the wrapped loaves climb up a curved conveyor, across the final weighing station, and on through the far wall of the room.

There is a similar series of conveyors on the far side of the room, processing 2 pound loaves.  The main difference is a rotary processing station which does something in the wrapping process.  The loaves come out of each station as 2 loaves on a conveyor.  A rotary arm with a pusher plate on each end hits the loaves and push them off that conveyor on to one running at right angles.  I am not sure what that whole section does, but it sure is impressive!

We then went downstairs again and sampled some of their cheese, and we each bought an ice cream.  They make that too!

Tomorrow we head to Newport, OR, a drive of about 65 or 70 miles.  Even though we are driving down US 101 along the coast, through all the beach cities, these are nice easy drives!

This campground is also "modem friendly".  Wow!  That's 2 in a row!  I plan to run over to the office in the morning before we leave and send this.  This Sunday we will be visiting some friends from many years ago, and I should be able to send the next batch from there.  I may make it through this trip without going over a week between connections yet!

Thursday, Oct 15

We woke up today to several showers before we got up.  Looking out, it was foggy.  By the time we actually got up, the fog had lifted and we had no more showers.

I went over to the office (a fairly long walk) to send my email and found it did not open until 9:00.  I did a couple of the other chores that needed doing and went back at a little after 9:00.  I received one message about problems with the church computers that I needed to answer, so I wrote my reply and went back to the office and sent it.

Finally after adding some water, we pulled out, hooked up the Nissan, and got back on the road.  Today we came as far as Newport, OR, well under a hundred miles.  We pulled into the park we had picked from the Trailer Life campground directory and found the office was closed.  There was a note that they would be back around 2:00, and another that there were no available sites until they returned!  They didn't want our business, so they didn't get it!  I noted later this afternoon as we drove by, that the park was still nearly empty!

We ended up at Beverly Beach State Park.  It is a heavily wooded park, even though it is just a short distance from the coastline.  

I had my first two mechanical failures today, and neither one of them was the Cummins mechanic's fault!  This morning, our furnace refused to light.  The fan came on, but nothing else .  I figured it could be the sail switch, which switches when it feels the wind from the blower.  I opened the furnace, had Betty turn on the furnace, and as soon as the blower started, the sail switch actuated, but the furnace did not light.  I pushed the connectors a little, and it immediately lit. It has been working fine since.  Apparently I had a dirty contact on the switch.

As we pulled into this park and finished registering, I opened the door to get back in and our power steps lowered part way and just swung a couple of times.  As I opened and closed the door, the motor actuated, but the steps didn't move.  I looked under and found a bent clevis pin hanging from a bent bracket, and the block on a bar from the motor just hanging there.  I managed to jam it together enough to hold the steps up while we got to our space.  Once there, it took about 15 minutes to straighten the bracket and the clevis pin.  I put it back together and made a cotter pin from some wire Keith had.  It works like new now.

I cleaned up and we drove into town.  Newport is one of the larges coastal towns we have gone through so far.  We stopped at Yaquina (ya-qwin-a) Head Outstanding Natural Area.  As I pulled in and noticed the entrance fee schedule I asked if being registered in another state park got us in there.  He replied that they were federal.  It was run by the Bureau of Land Management, and Betty's Golden Access card worked just fine.

There is a lighthouse, a discovery center, and wheelchair accessible tide pools here.  We went to the discovery center and saw two videos on the lighthouse and the area.  There were numerous displays around and, of course the gift shop.  When we asked about getting to the tide pools with Betty's wheelchair, the lady said it would take a moment.  Shortly the BLM ranger who had been in both the videos came out and said he would take us.  We followed him down a road to where people were walking down a long road to the tide pools.  He opened a lift gate and told us to drive down.

The tide pools are in an abandoned quarry to which the BLM has added concrete paths, and arranged things so there is a large area that floods at high tide, and is isolated during low.  They are doing nothing to populate the area.  They want to see how long it takes, and how well it will populate naturally.  Already there is much life.

Next we drove to the lighthouse.  It is the tallest of the 9 Oregon coast lighthouses.  This and four others are still in operation.  The remaining four are still in existence as historical artifacts and tourist attractions.  The lighthouse was open until 4:00 and it was approaching quarter till.  I left Betty in the car and walked over.  There are 4 huge steps to enter, 104 to get to the landing just under the lamp, and several more to get to the top.  I was allowed to climb to just under the lamp, then when others were through, I was allowed to climb up about 6 or 7 additional steps which put my head into the top lamp area.  I could see the two 1000 watt bulbs.  One is active and the other is a spare.  If anything happens to the first bulb, a turret rotates the other bulb into position and operation continues.  The active bulb is at the exact center of the 9 foot high cylindrical fresnel lens.  This focuses the light to mostly exit horizontally instead of exiting at all up and down angles.  This allows the light to be seen for about 19 miles at sea.

Each lighthouse has an individual code.  This one lights for two seconds, is off for two seconds, is on for two seconds again, and is off for 14 seconds.

After descending the stairs, the hostess said there had been a couple of grey whales around most of the day.  I went outside and saw a couple.

On our way home we stopped at a Fred Meyers.  This is a huge store containing a supermarket, building supply, hardware, clothing, etc.  We found everything we remembered to look for.

Tomorrow we head down to the Coos Bay area.

Friday, Oct 16

We headed for Coos Bay and had a leisurely drive along the coast.  There were several turn outs we pulled into to view the fabulous coastline.  The Oregon coast is lined with offshore rocks and crags.  Much of the drop off is quite shallow, creating breakers that are several rows deep, sometimes extending out hundreds of feet.

We stopped at a nearly new park with nice paved parking sites, 50 amp electric, cable TV, etc.

We explored town and stopped at a myrtlewood factory.  They make a variety of lathe turned bowls, plates, and dishes, along with really unique tables and clocks made of irregular slabs across the trunk, including the bark.  Some of the table tops have epoxy filled "tide pools" embedded into the top surface.  The entire surface is then finished with a very high gloss finish. 

They include a factory tour which starts with a video.  Myrtlewood is a very heavy, wet wood.  I does not float.  After the initial turning operations which leave the item somewhat oversize, the wood is dried.  The electrically heated drying sheds take the moisture level from about 60% to around 6%.  Now the items are finish turned, sanded, finished, and polished.  The result is beautiful!

Another product they make is a golf putter.  They use myrtlewood for the body of the putter, rout a cavity into it where they glue a lead slug.  They then laminate a thin piece of an exotic, imported wood (I forget the type), shape the head, attach it to a shank, and finish it all.  They are very good looking, and apparently quite effective.  They are also quite expensive!  As a matter of fact, all their products are quite expensive.

After the video, we got to tour the factory itself.  Unfortunately, they only work in the factory Monday through Thursday, and this was Friday.  We did get to see all the wood working machinery.  It all fit in a much smaller space than the video made it look!

Later in the evening, the four of us went out to a local seafood restaurant and had a delicious meal.

Saturday, Oct 17

We actually got away from camp before our target of 9:30 and headed toward Brookings, OR.  It is located at the mouth of the Rogue River, just inside the Oregon border above California. Our park here is another new one.  We just fit in the length of the pad, between a road in front and one in back.  We can see the ocean, about 1/4 mile away, from our site!

We took a drive around the town and got some great views of both the ocean and of the river.  When we returned to the park, we did a couple loads of laundry and watched part of game 1 of the series as the Padres went from a 5-2 lead in the 6th, to losing by 6-9.

Tomorrow we head to Cave Junction, OR near Grants Pass to visit Virgil and Joanne Lemley.  Keith and I worked with Virgil at Kearfott many years ago.

Sunday, Oct 18

We had an interesting drive to Cave Junction.  There has been more wind today than we have had for a while, but not to the point that it was a problem.  The roads we took were quite curvy and went up and down a lot.  It was certainly not a high speed route, but it was gorgeous!

We arrived at Virgil and Joanne Lemley's at about 12:45, having had lunch.  We spent the afternoon getting caught up on the happenings of the last 20 years, or so.

They have an absolutely beautiful home, with about a 20 foot wide stream running right behind their home, with a large lawn area where there is a volleyball court set up, and our motorhomes are parked.  There is a lower level along the entire rear of their home which is at river access level, one area of which is a lawn, and another in a natural setting.  In addition there are a number of outbuildings.  Virgil has done a lot of stone work.  The lawn area goes right to the river bank, which is edged with a stone wall, including a set of entrance steps.  They have a large area of property in addition to that right around their home.  They are located on the access road for the Oregon Caves, but it is not heavily traveled (at least not today).
We had a great dinner of fillet mignon steaks grilled on the barbeque.  These were huge!  I think mine would have comfortably fed us all!  They were also cooked just right, very tender, and delicious!  We also had corn on the cob, barbequed in foil, along with wild rice, garlic bread, and coleslaw.  It was an excellent meal!

Tomorrow we will investigate more of the area and see more of their property.

Monday, Oct 19

We had a great night's sleep listening to the rushing of the stream flying over the shallow dam right behind us.

We spent the day mostly chatting and doing further catch up for the last 25 years or so.

Tonight Keith took all of us out to the local Mexican restaurant in Cave Junction.  This was as a celebration of Virg's (Virgilee's, not Virgil's) birthday in a couple of days.  The food was excellent.

Tuesday, Oct 20

We got up and started packing up for our next move.  We felt like we never wanted to leave.  Their home and land is just beautiful, and they are so warm and friendly!  They have 10 acres by themselves, and another 77 acres owned jointly with their son, Kirk, who currently lives in Italy.  Last night Virgil and Joanne loaned us a tape of January 1, 2, and 3, 1997.  The river was raging over its banks and was taking out trees and carrying anything in its path downstream.  The river overflowed the far bank and spread way out as the river roared past their place.  This prevented it from doing more damage than it did on their side.  As it was, it flowed over the river edge front wall and the lawn behind it.  It took hundreds of cubic yards of dirt from the lawn area, leaving the wall standing alone.  Virgil said it took about 3 months to clean the area up, including a lot of help from bulldozers and other heavy equipment.  It was the worst flood they have experienced during the 21 years they have lived there.

We said our sorrowful goodbye and headed toward Grant's Pass.  It was only about a 1 1/2 hour drive.  We stopped at the Valley of the Rogue state campground.  This is yet another beautiful campground located right on the Rogue River.  It is dense with trees, but there is a variety of types, and there is enough separation that we can get some daylight in.  Also, we were able to spot our satellite dishes to beam over the trees across the street.

After lunch, Keith and Virg took us to the property they used to own.  It is located near Sunny Valley along Graves Creek.  It was really interesting to see the land I have been hearing so much about over the years.  A nearby area that had burned about 20 years ago is now completely re-wooded.

Upon getting close, we went across a wooden, covered bridge.  It has been recently refurbished and repainted.  Keith said that previously, no one knew about the bridge, but that now it has obviously been found!

Also there is a brand new "Discovery Center and Museum" right at the bridge which highlights the history and artifacts from the area.   The fellow at the museum chatted with Keith for a while about his experiences and recollections of the area from years back.

He also stated that the state periodically tries to tear down the covered bridge and put in a "modern" one.  Each time, there is strong local support for keeping the covered one even though it is a single lane bridge.

Returning to camp, we stopped in Grant's Pass and picked up some groceries.

Tonight, Keith and Virg came over to see part of the video I have been shooting on this trip.  After about 40 minutes, we quit, and will see the other half tomorrow (our last night together!).

Tomorrow we will stop at one of several towns in Northern California depending on our feelings.  We will be driving 250 to 300 miles.  This is a lot more than the 60 or 80 miles a day we have gotten used to!

Wednesday, Oct 21

Happy Birthday Virgilee!

This was a driving day.  We headed south on I-5 and as the day progressed, decided that we could readily make it to Dunnigan, at total of about 285 miles.

We had stayed at one of the two Dunnigan parks on our way north, now we are at the other one.  Both are nice camps.  This one has a grassy area between each two campsites.  There are a number of mature trees.  The Scholls and we share a lawn that separates us by about 30 feet.

A short time after getting settled in, the Scholls came over to see the balance of our videotape.  Keith promised to bring his with him when he comes to our place in about a month to stay while taking his flight instructor renewal course.

Thursday, Oct 22

We broke camp this morning and headed south again.  The Scholls were going to Morgan Hill, and we headed to Coalinga.  Obviously today is the day we parted company!  

We pulled into a rest stop a few miles north of the split near Los Banos.  We said our goodbye's and continued on separately.

We pulled into the only RV park here and selected a site.

I had promised Betty I would take her to Harris Ranch for dinner, so we headed out around 4:00.  The restaurant was very nice (and very pricey!).  We ended up splitting an order of Prime Rib, ate as much as we could, and still brought some home with us.  It was VERY GOOD!

We then explored the town of Coalinga and headed back to camp.  On the way into town we passed a county correctional facility.  On the way out of town we passed the Pleasant Valley State Prison.  I wonder what the people of Coalinga do that requires these two facilities within a few miles of town.

Tomorrow we stop by Dave and Carolyn's in Atascadero for the weekend.  Monday we will be home.

Friday, Oct 23

We slept in this morning, as we only had about 60 miles to get to the kids'.  Yesterday we inquired about buying propane and were told we could get it at 9:00 this morning.  We drove over to get it at about 9:30 and were told "Oh, he's sick.  He should be in around 12:00".  So much for propane!

We stopped for fuel as we left I-5 for SR-41 and got better than 10 mpg for the 6th tank in a row!  This is an all time record for us.  We are delighted!

We will be spending the weekend here with our grand daughters and their parents and will then drive home on Monday.

Thanks so much for sharing this trip with us and for all the email messages we received from you while we have been on the road.

Till next time,
Betty and Dick