Archive for August, 2011

Crossing into Washington

Astoria Bridge

Rounding the corner and pulling on.

The last time I was in Washington was with Alan before we moved to Portland for the summer. Our stay was brief, it must have been in the late ’70s.

I certainly don’t remember the AstoriaMegler Bridge…perhaps I crossed it as a child, if so that really doesn’t count.

I’m slowly becoming seasoned at driving my rig. . .crossing this bridge will be remembered as the day I discovered my driver’s wings over the water.

It was sorta teetering. The wind was up, the RV in front lending me confidence.

Astoria Bridge

Can you imagine crossing the Columbia in a dugout canoe!

I enjoyed the town of Astoria…lots of places to eat, a bit Colonial and I’d just come from the Lewis and Clark State Park that Bob had recommended (thank you Bob!) I’d watched a film about the strange “cloth men” and how they struggled with the environment; mapping and cataloging as they spent the long winter waiting for spring. And I heard a well told story of how Lewis was shot in the buttock by their nearsighted and one-eyed French guide. Later on my trip I will visit the North Dakota Badlands and possibly Roosevelt National Park completing their journey in reverse.

Astoria Bridge

Can't hold your breath on this one.

Astoria, OR

Astoria, on the way to the bridge.

I’m close to Canada here in Northern Washington (Oak Harbor) my Verizon Droid Incredible wants to roam in Canada. This is compounded by the poor connection here in North Whidbey R.V. Park  and my enterprising on the computer and phone. I’m using the camp’s Internet which randomly fails every few minutes for no reason I can understand….so in all this confusion I’ve learned that one needs to turn data roaming off to avoid charges, but it’s unclear if voice roaming results in charges. I tried calling Verizon but the connection failed!

I’m thinking this will only be a problem where the Verizon signal is weak, as it is here, but of course, I’m now wondering.

Another phone issue is that I cannot connect my Droid to my laptop. I was able to download and successfully install the HTC driver and sync program; however when the Droid is USBed to the lappy nothing happens. Yep, that’s right…nothing. Tried USB debugging, nothing. No sign of life or recognition. If one of my readers has a clue–let me know!!!  I have lots of nice photos on the cell if I can get them transferred to my laptop. Oh, I suspect I could send each one to my e-mail, but for now I’ve had to turn off data roaming re the previous problem.  I still have photos to upload however from my old Sony DCC=F828 now 8 years old!

Too exhausted to post LOL

So much beauty, so much driving…. and problems, serious problems with RV mechanics on the road. Need a sewer hose fix and quick, a second one..the first one robbed me. Can’t drain my tanks…  RV mechanic also swiped my great easy slide-on fitting….  oh what a mess!!!

Have been struggling way too long to put these into a sideshow….am giving up on that and just posting them….  will divide them into several posts… This is the first but will come out as the last LOL …..  okay it’s almost midnight,  have still been struggling and struggling and struggling…  again I have to say wordpress really makes it difficult to work with photos….. and I was already exhausted but will try tomorrow (perhaps) to post the rest or perhaps find a different site and link it to WP for the photos….  really wanted the slideshow but can’t seem to get it to work. Can you tell I’m frustrated!!!!!

Arrived at 10 am on Thursday and was able to land a spot... only 3 were left!

All plugged in

Friendly neighbors helped with the water problem!

I arrived here early, 10 a.m. to get a camping spot. Sea Ranch Resort, Cannon Beach.They had cute little bunnies all over, horse stable, tents, cabins, stores, RV parking all crammed into a small spot….  and more tents just below from another facility. Crowded but I had a nice spot. Space #3.

The beach was wide with the wind blowing off the fog… clean, refreshing and lovely. . .

After I shot these the sun came out


The above and the following were shot from Ecola State Beach… another narrow forest road…once you get there you wonder how everyone else got there, especially the really big guys!


Lessons Learned

A few lessons in no particular order:

1:  Lost the bulk of my fresh food today including my delicious Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella, a loaf of mulitgrain sourdough, most of my fruit and several perishable drinks. An expensive error which will leave me hungry. It was too hot and too damp in the van for the boxed food, and I’d forgotten to turn the refrig back to 12 volts. Even though it seemed not too hot today, it was too hot. Must be cautious in eating what’s left in friggy….  Add to buy list, refrigerator alarm.  I saw something like that in an RV supply catalog.

2:  The laptop will only run on the Wagan Smart AC inverter if the laptop has a full charge, if even slightly low it will not run without fluttering.

3:  Just because it’s a State Park, doesn’t mean it’s not directly adjacent to a busy Fwy or Hwy….  that’s where I am now, listening to the dying traffic at 9 p.m., dry camping.

4. Smoke from neighbor’s fires will be pulled inside from the air vent…don’t use if you want to breathe no matter how hot and stuffy it seems.

5. There are some really nice people on the road and in the campgrounds–met one last night in Cannon Beach, Roxanne and her companion Ralph from Seattle who helped me with the water system on the LT. The pressure regulator was defective, they figured this out and kindly provided one they didn’t need for me to keep!!!  Also home-grown veges and  berry pie!  Roxanne asked me and the dogs out for a walk…I was very happy for her company

6. AAA maps are too vague. Really need more detail, same with the Moon RV camping book for the Pacific Northwest, nowhere near enough detail. Probably not worth the price…I find I don’t use it. Their state book would be good but then you need one for each state.

7. It’s really hard to take photos out the windshield with a big camera that you have to twist to raise the lens to more or less point it in the intended direction (i.e. not the dashboard or the floor) but it’s equally difficult (i.e. impossible) to find a place to pull over when you see a gorgeous sight and want to keep an image of it. …  I know, if only the dogs could drive!

8. If you are gripping the steering wheel really hard when it’s windy or you’re on a two lane narrow suspension bridge far above the water or when you know you have to at least try to keep up with traffic on a windy mountain or curvy cliff road with no shoulders, no one need know that this is the reason for firm muscles developing in your arms.

9.  A van camper is not necessarily an RV, but then again it is. This applies to parking:  sometimes you need not park in the designated RV parking areas, sometimes you do. You have to figure it out on a case by case basis.

10. The enzyme digester for the toilet smells far more obnoxious than the toilet and it’s very hard to get rid of….just as  most air fresheners simply provide a headache and queasy stomach in exchange for whatever previous obnoxious smell was troubling. Am working on a solution with windows wide open and fan at full blast. It’s okay I like cold air.

11. Guests will always arrive when your motorhome is at its worst…this probably can’t be avoided but does provide incentive to clean it after the guests have left just in case they return….  What’s that about first impressions?

12. A Lagotto is only cute when she’s not rolling in something disgusting and then leaping into your motorhome.

13. A restaurant advertising, The Best of Reward, for a food item, may be joking….  this applies to chocolate truffles, fish and chips, pizzas…tourist/travelers are easy victims because they don’t return….no solution to this one yet except to write scathing reviews to potentially save another hungry wanderer.

14. Traveling is a good way to lose weight. <sigh> I was really looking forward to a melted vegan cheese sandwich in olive oil tonight..

I’m beginning to back track a little. Two days ago I crossed the Portland bridge heading vaguely for Vancouver over the Columbia River into Washington. I was coming in zigzag from the Oregon Garden Resort in Silverton. It was hot in Washington and at my first stop they wouldn’t let my dogs enter the building which wasn’t the welcome I’d wanted so I hit the wheel hard west back to Oregon.

Olympia "looking like a statue" in the dog section of the Oregon Garden

To start at the beginning, three nights ago I landed at the Garden Resort, I was on my was to see the town of Silverton, piqued by their transgender mayor, having departed from the Linn County Park outside of Leabanon….I’d arrived in Leabanon in a funk finding Corvallis lacked decent “RV camping” facilities. I was tired and wanted a quiet night’s sleep. Honestly I love Corvallis, but this was my third visit to the city and memories that I didn’t need haunted me all around the city. The trip to Leabanon was an unknown; it was hot and I had no idea what would turn up. That night at Leabanon I didn’t feel joy sitting by the river, didn’t feel peace in seeing the Milky Way for the first time in a very very long time,  didn’t feel delight that Olympia had her first almost swim; I felt discouraged. I’d definitely recommend the park for a family vacation with kids but bring a broom to sweep away the cigarette butts.In the morning at the dog park I met another solo traveler and his dog–he’d been on the road alone a long time and shared waysides, income opportunities and local knowledge that comes through experience and camaraderie. We’d both admitted to talking to our dogs more than to our own kind.

The dogs picked their bed, I got the other one!

After leaving Lebanon I found the Garden. I considered returning to Coravalis but it was time to move on so when I stumbled onto the bright colors and deep greens of the large acreage of cultivation I could not convince myself to stay. I had to find a place to live, not dally in indulgent splendor. My mood did not put a shine on Silverton….the local park was full of difficult people who wanted to keep their dogs away from mine, there were too many children playing and no one smiling. And it was hot. I had to find a place for the night so I pulled out my map and stuck a pin at a town that I can’t find on my map now–it was near a river. The drive was gorgeous but I was busy battling myself…go back, I said, I want to stay at a hotel tonight.  I want to see the garden, I said. I want to take a bath and wash my hair and lay on a big clean bed. I didn’t listen to this chatter and would not have turned back except for Jolyon’s call. Go back at once, he said and I did. I loved the place. They were offering a special for $119 (regular weekday rate was $140.) A beautiful room, a full dinner, a bottle of wine, unlimited entry to the garden and a buffet breakfast. WOW… it was wonderful, comfortable and the dogs were welcomed in the garden and to sit with me at dinner.

The next morning instead of Corvallis and instead of the river or the mountains (it was still hot) I decided to head to the coast and check out Pacific City, which had been mentioned to me as  by a couple I’d met in Florance who had a home there for sale. My funk was just getting started with more diatribe going on in my head… one moment heading west and then wham I’m heading east, and north…  I wound up doing circles, then found myself in Oregon City–it was nice, I could live there if I wanted to be near Portland–I mean I spent all of 7 minutes there before heading in the Vancouver direction.

The dogs traveling

We sat outside watching the boats in the harbor and had dinner

I was delighted to see (and feel) the familiar coastal cool. The road west on highway 30 leads to Astoria. I wanted to stay there but not in one of those cement parking lots the state calls RV camps. I trod on to the State Park, full. The clerk handed me a list, when I asked, she said, oh these were all full as of 8 a.m. this morning. When I asked for my best bet for a place to stay, she said, “what do you mean.” in a not too friendly voice, as if I was asking if I could stay at her place. With a heavy heart I was regretting my rash decision about returning to Oregon. Then an omen occurred in the shape of a little sign..RV’s in Lot A pay here, it said, or the approximate.   I wound up dry camping for $28 at the marina in Warrenton. No services but friendly family groups out fishing. Now I’m here in Cannon Beach, one last day before heading over the Astoria – Megler Bridge


Dogs visiting the Oregon Garden

Another shot of the Oregon Garden: We had the place to ourseves!

Sunday… I’m not much of a public camp ground person although tonight I’m reclining on my bed with the tailgate open, view of watered meadow circled by my “power and water” section of South Beach State Park, Newport Oregon; Bruce Goldfish’s Lullaby Waltz playing from my computer on the iHome speakers; powered by 30 Amps,writing on my laptop. Kids are playing, motors are at work, blowing up airbeds, bicycle tires, Motorhomes, 5th Wheels and Trailers are backing into place, dogs barking, diner being prepared here and there. So far no direct neighbors but the Park is full so they will come. There is the taint of smoke but it’s light and one camper has a fire that smells sweet. A neighbor showed up a VW campervan with an industrious couple–nice. Again, I asked for a calm private site and was so rewarded.

Stopped at the Newport Marine Science Center and learned about Hypoxia… dead zones in the ocean…my earth system sciences climate studies professor at UCSB had controversial ideas in the late ‘90s. He claimed that methane hydrates, methane overturning in the ocean… rising to the surface caused climate catastrophe, also he explained to us how the increase of fresh water into the salinity of the sea by global warming, melting polar, melting glacier, increasing rain. . .  flooding, hotter . . .more evapotransformation… more draught, desertification, unstable weather patterns, unpredictable weather, more extreme weather (hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, unstable shifting plates, the core and mantle wobbling the planet, lifeforms in chaos…) ( Okay can’t explain the theory and science of the planet in a few sentences–sorry)…. It’s a system and it’s acting in accordance with natural principles of physics but we don’t yet comprehend it. We stab at understanding and point and blame each other, the other country, politics, business, greed, overdevelopment, superstition, the oracle of the unknown, want and need but we don’t understand…like these campers don’t understand that they are not “treading lightly,” they are not in harmony but never mind–they are here outdoors moving their bodies and teaching their children; and that is good. Hey will somebody make me dinner!!! I was going to go into town to pick up a vegan pizza but if luck holds, peace here will keep me from having to navigate in the dark. ……  This Hypoxia (and I’m only guessing) tells me that balance of microchemicals is preventing the oxygen from developing….  I didn’t read the entire exhibit—it’s under study in the university. I wish I was there. I want to know, I want to discover the answers. I would be so happy in my cluttered office, with my brain firing spit and a bunch of students and maybe a grant to peel off another flake of our ignorance. Oh my gentle sea, what is going on? Will you tell us (so we can do something about it) or will you show us (so we will not be able to do more than cry)?

I want to hold the sea in my hands and kiss it and make it feel better

White creature in the woods

Thursday night I camped in the Redwoods, stayed in the pop-up section of the Emerald Forest  in Trinidad. – I asked for a quiet spot and was so rewarded. Dark and quiet in the redwoods, I’d stopped earlier in a redwood grotto slipping in and out of the Redwood HWY scenic bypass  …Mason was unable to explain why a tree should be sooooo big! Tried walking the main road with the dogs, but that didn’t work…too much traffic and little to no shoulder. The world of cars leaves little room for wanta be pedestrians. Instead I braved the tiny one lane rutted  dirt road in the LT to check out the seascapes …what could be the worse that could happen? It was nervy but after all, in my car I wouldn’t have hesitated. Saw all the sights, the party crowd at Moonstone Beach, the sandy beach where the dogs had a romp, the rocky cliffs, the harbor, the replica of the lighthouse (I’m not sure what happened to the real one.) I was fairly tired and feeling challenged by being alone. The campground was nice and quiet.

Mason at Moonstone Beach

These beaches are great if I could just keep my feet dry!!!

Saturday August 20th I landed at a KOA in Waldport Oregon.

As I wrote: (and it explains a bit what happened to me on Fri night LOL:

It’s very expensive (the KOA)…$60 for one night. It’s supposed to come with Internet, which it has but it doesn’t work, the cable TV hook up doesn’t work either. I picked up the last spot available, a rather late decision as I’d intended to head to Corvallis until I discovered that it was 100 degs  (I would like to check, but no Internet – no TV–this took hours of technical mumble jumble and well, I’ll not call them lies, so instead say the night staff, while very friendly and kind are technically challenged– to discover) as I plan to head that way in the morning. At the moment I have my blackout  blockers and my curtains up, doors and windows closed and my inside air conditioner with the filer blowing; my neighbors , a young family in a cabin a few feet from my spot, are huddled around a billowing fume of heavy smoke – normally if I saw something like that I’d think about calling an emergency fire truck!  LOL I want to hand them a boy/girl scout manual and basic camping guide….what it must be doing to their lungs! The camp is crowded and there are spotlights as if these campers are afraid of the night. The smoke is making my head and throat ache Maybe they’re hoping to disable their little one’s vocal cords? I walked to the beach and came back with one very clean Terrier and one horrifically dirty Water Dog. The Water Dog had to be shampooed and walked until dry; so much for free time. Had chocolate ice cream with sprinkles for dinner–there was an ice cream social.

I saw the perfect camp an hour or so before I arrived in Waldport. The RVs were perched like gunmen on the cliff overlooking the sea—quiet, serene, secluded. I should be there but it wasn’t late enough to stop driving for the day.

It’s been day of romping and showing off my dogs. Florence, Oregon turned out to be my favorite city so far. Hated Coos Bay and everything else I saw yesterday…..yesterday btw was a real trial. I was exhausted and discouraged with the general Oregon scene… almost considered turning back to California–the wind was fighting me, the curves taunting me, I was the slowest vehicle on the road and was having trouble staying on it! So the next day finding Florence with its bustling farmers market, vendors, cafes, shops and really really friendly people was a balm I badly needed. A couple invited me to sit at their table and chat; the dogs got free French Fries, I was starving.

Lots of people talked to me, I handed out copious helpful hints and how to have your dog not pull you down the street. One woman showed me how her hands were raw from holding the leash….oh my.

Fri night is not a good time to expect to find a place to park an RV for the night, especially if that Fri falls close to Labor Day and back to school. Everyone who hasn’t already done so is required to take their kids on a summer outing and camping, RV camping, is wildly popular on the coast of Oregon. You don’t want to hear how desperate I was Fri night…. campgrounds full, lots of suspicious RV parking lots looking like derelict homeless encampments, in fact, the State Ranger took pity on me and told me where the homeless encampment was, she said, since I had the dogs (oh, yes…they would kiss any attacker to shame!) I could try it; otherwise she suggested Walmart or the Casino. I checked out the homeless encampment and bypassed it…for some reason I thought the Casino would be rough so headed to Walmart, there were a dozen RVs scattered around the edges of the parking lot trying not to look suspicious under the copious postings….NO OVERNIGHT RV PARKING….  I asked the Walmart manager, oh, she said, you’re welcome to park in our lot as long as you like, its okay with us but the CITY, the city has an ordinance against such things and if you leave your RV it might be towed or you might be woken early in the morning and ticketed.I spent 2 lonely hours worrying about all this, moving the van around and walking the dogs so I check on what the other RVs were doing. As soon as it turned dark I gave up, not dark really with the blazing lights…the Walmart was huge, the parking lot massive. I couldn’t take it, in the dark I scurried….  at long last I decided to check out the Casino (this was in North Bend near Coos Bay) Oh MY GOSH, I found all the RVers!!!!!!! They all knew, I was the only one in the dark. The place was jammed, like a Las Vegas for RVs. The spots with power and water were completely filled but the gravel dry camping lot was open. The place was secure, calm and quiet which was amazing given how many RVs were occupying the site…and it was free! Once settled, I popped a movie on the DVD player then had a peaceful nights sleep.

It’s morning at the KOA in Waldport and I’m doing laundry and scrubbing the walls inside the LT to remove the smoke taint. The park assistant checked the TV cable, yep–problem is with the site and now, even in the office there is no Internet. No posting till ????? later. At least they had pancakes.

The post I wrote seems to be missing LOL… errant computers, so this is off the fly.

The long windy road led down from the highway–I thought it’d probably led me to a dead-end with a few abandoned vehicles, you know, the kind on blocks with their boarded windows broken and flat tires, birds and rodents busy burrowing into the upholstery ( a friend of mine, who lives in the Santa Barbara foothills, has problems with rodents, mice, making their home and sometimes dying in his car and he uses his car all the time.)

What I discovered after descending into the canyon was a place called Ridgewood Ranch, I passed the Christ’s Church of the Golden Rule and to my surprise found a mobile home park–was this the right place?

I was quite weary as I gingerly drove about, there were a few RVs in the lower lot but no one around, I drove back up the hill trying to decide if I should just park below and take my chances—this being my first “experience” actually sleeping in my LT. A friendly fellow was leaning on this porch watching, so I asked him, he seemed used to this. Oh, it’s $30 a night just pick a space down there and you can put the money in the drop box over in the office, ahh….  The managers show up around 9 am, don’t bother with the pool but there’s lots of hot water in the shower.

They must have thought I was nuts circling around and around, it was a small lot, I actually moved 3 times…one had too many stickers, another was next to a noisy power box…. finally I was home for the night. I plugged in for the first time, easy. I left the water and septic for another day and the TV cable didn’t work anyway and yes, the shower was excellent.

If I’d had my wits that day I would have toured the ranch but I was close to the home of the great Seabiscuit.

RV Campground

Good Sam near Ridgewood Ranch: quiet and peaceful

As I wrote it then: More Catching Up Tomorrow!

What an amazing day today was, although I can’t post tonight as my location is out of range, not even cell here. I’m somewhere near Willits and as previously when I found myself in Willits I feel contentment. Didn’t start out the day content, was short of sleep. I managed to block the blazing light (at the hotel) from the area where there should have been a door seal with the coverlet jammed into the door, t was just right, a towel took care of the bottom; you see the room was satisfactory and the bed comfortable, it was my brother’s woes and the on-going personal drama of being me and the people close to me that shorted me on sleep…worry….how to solve the unsolvable, how to try with your last ounce of courage to reach…oh wait that’s Man of La Mancha. (one of my readers will appreciate that.)

San Francisco

Shot through the windshield : The City

After a disheartening breakfast I headed into thick traffic. Moving at 17 mph (btw I wrote a master’s thesis on alternative transportation and 17 mph, according to my research, is what our fwys are headed for…and we will find it acceptable, as I did on my way to San Francisco.) I called a friend who lives in San Jose, his machine was full and not taking any messages…sorry!!! San Fran was the same as I’d seen it last, full of cars with morning grays. I’d forgotten, or never noticed, how narrow the lanes are. What was nice from the LT, was the view. I could see over the tops of the cars for a beautiful horizon. I was relishing my perspective as a bus joined me, then a truck, then three trucks and another bus bonded to my trail though the City. (That’s right, no more view but I could see the eyes of the truck drivers.) The fwy had morphed, I could not remember if 101 had always become nothing more than a normal twisty streets like this or not.

Olympia respects the wildlife nesting area

I’d promised the dogs a walk and finding Chrissy Fields and the Shoreline Park near the Golden Gate Bridge. we took off brushing shoulders with the residents, most of whom had their dogs off leash even on the designated nesting habitat protection areas. I didn’t seen any nests but I thought it bad dog stewardship.

The sun poked holes in the gray. My friend Sue, who was also traveling, returned my call. I was going to get to see her! We’d met at Santa Barbara City College working in the multimedia lab then she had to return to her home in Scotland. I’ve missed her and was so delighted to successfully park the beast and find her and her and her companion in the crowd at Pier 39. We tried to catch up on the last 8 years.

After lunch and promises for me to visit them in Scotland, it was back to finding the Golden Gate Bridge.

There’s a sign indicating that the right most lane is wide for trucks and RVs…WOW! Beware, the wind funnels at the curve pushing large vehicles sharply in the direction of the turn.  Scraped the rim on the rear tire, thankfully nothing worse. The lane didn’t seem particularly wide.

With no specific plan other than north by north west I drove. And drove.  And drove. While I was doing this I spotted the sign for Real Goods store and demos in Hopland. It was 5 pm and they were open until 6.  Lots of interesting things and exhibits but expensive. Too expensive. I was subdued, what would Dale say if he knew? Solar and hydro, organic clothes and “green” gizmos for the well-healed. I miss Dale so intensely that I expect others, even stranger to notice how much I wish he was here. I wear a flag that says, Dale, where the hell are you!

I quickly bored of poking around and none of them noticed my flag so I asked a few of them if they had known Dale. One woman told me, yes, she had met him, had taken an art class with him—he’d seemed sweet, she said. I dismissed her, Dale, sweet? Okay. Whatever. The fellow dispensing the technical advice asked me who Dale was and why I was asking. So much for history, for a sense of place and time. All of a sudden I could barely talk, couldn’t say Dale’s last name, couldn’t say wind turbines, or Greenfield Ranch back in the 1970s, couldn’t talk about how it all started with Dale’s companions, I tried, they didn’t know Dale so I left. Before I left I asked about camping. I screwed up the directions, wound up in what looked like a homeless encampment, backed my van into a rock…almost stayed but for the smokers and the campfires, and the overly friendly toothless smiles…tried to find the other place, (the right place) got lost several times until there was no turning back so I drove and drove further… like the frog who churned the milk into butter I kept going, then I saw the sign for this place and wearily took a chance down a long winding road.

The dogs resting

Are we there yet?