The Four Day Drive Back to Colorado Springs

July 25th, 2018
Driving Interstate 84 From Portland to Baker City, OR

This was about 290 miles to the A-Frame RV Park. Pretty small park. We didn’t call ahead until on the road so the only pull through we could get was a water and electric site, halfway into the parking lot facing the propane tank. It was a long drive. We filled up at a large Travel America truck stop, next to a Love’s, just leaving Portland so we didn’t need a fuel stop. We must have stopped for lunch somewhere but I do not recall it. What I do recall was our only encounter with an officer of the law in four years of full-timing, other than border crossing folks. Everybody has to talk to them so they don’t count.

After I-84 turns away from the Columbia River, it heads east and slightly south toward Pendleton, OR. It might have been a good idea, on that 90° day, to stop at the Burger King or Denny’s, or Wal-Mart and watch the people, something long enough to let the engine cool off a while. Perhaps the Wildhorse Resort and Casino in Mission, a few miles further east, if that floats your boat, would have been interesting. But we plowed ahead and started climbing, and climbing, thinking we peaked, and kept climbing, until the engine temperature hit the red mark which causes an immediate upshift in gears and slowdown. Luckily, one of many pullouts was available at the same time so we pulled over and turned off the engine.

A few minutes later a very cool, black Dodge Charger pulled in behind us. I couldn’t see inside his tinted window to see if this was somebody with a gun or a tourist stopping for the view. Turned out to be a dude with a gun approaching us. A very dapper state patrol officer met me as I opened our door and politely asked if we were having trouble, wondering if we had overheated. Upon answering in the affirmative, “Yes. Hit the red zone, just cooling off for a while”, I asked how his day was going. “Trying to keep cool”. As he walked away I asked him to keep an eye on me. Then that very sleek looking Charger kicked up dust and took off. Love that car. I know cops drive a lot of Chargers but this one was completely stealthy. So watch it going up Deadman’s Pass.

It was about seven miles or so to the top of Deadman’s Pass. It was steeper going down, another bump near La Grande, and then a fairly straight run to Baker City. But let’s go back to I-84 on the Columbia River.

A lot of these are pretty similar. The supreme editor prohibits picture taking while driving but I figured a way to snap my eyelids and connect my brain to the camera. I took about thirty million shots. Here’s a few more.

Must be a windy area ahead.

Just driving.

It was lovely the whole river ride.

There’s that Airstream again.

I think we’re getting to the end of the river view here.

Maybe this one’s out of sequence. Do you care?

And that’s it. Southeast on the straight, open road.

After the nasty climb up Deadman’s Pass, we spent the night in A-Frame RV Park in Baker City. The park name is obviously from the office building. It was good enough for an overnight stay.

July 26th
Baker City, OR to Picabo, ID

On the road again. Another 264 miles to a gem of an RV park. We are taking a bit of a side trip to check out Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho. I first heard about this place when researching our big trip west in 1998 and it led me to watch the ridiculous Ted Danson movie, ‘Pontiac Moon’. The plot went something like this: his wife, Mary Steenburger, hadn’t left her house in seven years after losing an unborn child in a car accident. It’s the summer of 1969 and Ted decides he has to take his son on a trip to this park, which was called something else in the movie, and arrive the day of the moon landing. They are driving from a small town in California and Ted comes up with a route that will put just the right mileage on his 1949 Pontiac Superchief when it arrives at the park, to equal the distance to the moon. It gets complicated – Mary follows them, Ted has an accident, and the whole movie has long since gone off the rails. But I like road trip movies. I like road trips. No kidding.

Anyway, the choices for staying in an RV park near Craters of the Moon were slim. There is an RV park in the National Monument, but it has no hookups and we wanted electric, at a minimum. The other two that showed up in our searches were in Bellevue, at least ten miles out of our way north (and ten back), and in Arco, about twenty miles east, past the park. But then Google kept showing me Picabo Angler when I searched for RV parks in the area. I looked it up in RV Park Reviews and it was real, with good reviews, Andrea called up along the way and reserved a spot. It is thirty-two miles west of the park on US 20. Perfect.

Another long ride.

But pretty easy.

I think it was on cruise control for a hundred miles.

I liked that farming pattern.

We finally arrived at check-in for the park, Picabo Angler convenience store and gas station, across the main road from the park. There must be some big fishing nearby – could the name of the place be a clue? Half the store was devoted to serious fishing equipment with big signs touting their guide service. The guy ahead of me on line was booking a trip.

Once registered for the RV park, we crossed the road and entered, passing a big sign for Picabo Angler and Silver Creek RV Park. Why don’t they add the RV park to their Google listing? Each site is a beautiful pull-thru with full hookups, just one row of about a dozen sites. Ours was a hundred twenty feet long. All sites have nicely manicured grass and face a large sheep and llama farm.

That’s us. The Cruise America RV on the right was carrying a family from Denmark across the US West. Very nice family. We spoke with them for a while.

Lovely RV park.

Baaaaaaaah. White llama in the back.

And the black llama.

Baaaaaah again.

A hidden gem of a park.

That’s us again.

The Park is right on the road to Craters of the Moon coming from the west. Beautiful setting and convenient. Highly recommended.

July 27th

It’s thirty-two miles to Craters of the Moon. The plan is to get there by 11AM, park in the visitor center lot, detach the jeep, and check out the campground and the park to see if it’s worth staying overnight and exploring more deep into the day. I could tell by zooming in on Google maps that the parking lot had room for the 42′ Odyssey. I only use satellite mode. You gotta love Google maps if you’re an RVer. I use it all the time to see if we can fit in Wal-Mart lots and non-truckstop gas stations, and look for possible large pullouts for rest stops in the middle of nowhere.

The parking lot did have RV spaces but not many. In fact, we got the last one. First we went into the gift shop, one at a time as we brought Luna out to walk around. When Andrea went in, I sat down on a bench in the shade and tried to listen in on a ranger talk about twenty yards away. He was mostly out of my hearing range but I heard a few words about the origin of the park. At the end of his talk, this guy, in the green shirt,

raised his hand, loud enough so I could hear him speak, interjected that what was just presented is just a theory. He went on…Several scientists with PHD’s have formulated another theory that the world is only ~~~so many years old – I didn’t get the number but that’s when I started losing him. I got to wondering if he was armed. People that retarded – and, yes, shoot me for using that term – need to just shut up. Yeah, first amendment and all that but do not poison the minds of young children with total bullshit. When he was done proving to the group what an asshole he is, the ranger proceeded, “For the other 99 percent of us, let’s now take a look at some of the million year old samples in the exhibit.” Right on, young man.

The picture of the idiot, who kind of looks like Peyton Manning (sorry big boy), is out in the parking lot after he accosted a seminar attendee whom he thought might believe his lunacy. The guy kept trying to walk away while six-thousand-year-old-earth-theory-man keeps spouting off about several scientists with PHD’s can’t be ignored. But he can. The other guy walked away as shit-for-brains kept talking to himself. Should I ask a ranger to check him for weapons? As much as I loathe the stupidity of imbeciles like him, I also have concerns that they have gun rights and cults have been known to arm themselves.

What is wrong with these people? They make me lose my sense of acceptance. To each his own? When they are teaching impressionable children that science is wrong? Should we have truth police? Maybe all our national parks and monuments that protect eons old patches of earth which provide insight into the evolution (may I use that word?) of our planet, should have additional plaques and informational boards that state outright that any theory that places the age of the earth under four and a half billion years is false and we should speak up loudly to dispute absurd claims to the extreme contrary. And then provide the argument with evidence from the local environment of the park.

That guy both creeped me out and pissed me off. Count to ten…

Andrea came out of the gift shop – empty-handed? No. What are the chances of that? She got me a t-shirt! Yay! We detached the Jeep and took the seven mile loop drive. The entire park is just a moonscape of dried up black lava. It is not the result of a volcano, rather just a bubbling up of the stuff when the local plates were shifting and pushed the molten mess out of a few cracks in the surface.

First we drove through the campground and found it to be totally unwelcoming on a warm day, all sites sitting on the same black lava. Hot, hot, hot. No thanks. Knowing we were not going to stay, we knew we now had to expedite the tour.

The first loop stop included a short “hike”. It was actually a quarter mile walk due to closure of most of the trail. There were a few interesting lava formations.

Like this monkey headed lump.

Planet of the apes dude, no? Otherwise, eh.

Next, a large hill that all the tourists except me climbed to get a good view of the park, I guess.

That’s Andrea in the middle, red top, below the pink and green couple. The woman in green looked to be about ninety. She was draped head to toe in that thing. Looked like she was used to these kinds of hills.

We skipped a couple of other stops on the drive. One was the cave section but I was told by a ranger that they involve quite a bit of scrambling (that’s a term used in hiking for climbing over rocks, usually on hands and knees). Not in the cards with the way my stenosis has been acting up, or getting worse. It was all kind of like what it’s going to look like after Dumbo gets in a war with somebody:

Life after death?

The last stop had short paths to two cinder cones.

The first one didn’t look like anything from the approach, but as you turned the corner:

There was a big, deep hole in the ground. Way down below was either a sheet of ice or salt or some white mineral. General agreement between me and the foreign tourists was ice.

The path that curved up and around, rather steeply at the top, led to a cone not all that interesting. The best I could come up with was the somewhat colorful inner wall.

And that was Craters of the Moon. Oh, we encountered some wildlife. On the first walk, a raptor circled above, waiting for one of us to keel over, or perhaps pluck a small child:

When we returned to the parking lot, a monster on the windshield threatened to pincer us to death:

On the road again. We drove through Arco, ID, whose welcome to Arco sign also includes the boast, “First Atomic Lighted City”. We wondered if the three-headed pan handler had also been so energized. About 20 miles east of Arco, the source of all that atomic energy can be found. We passed Idaho National Laboratory (INL) where everything you wanted to know about nuclear energy is known. Though you can’t miss the complex to our left – well, you can because I didn’t aim the camera that way – they seem to be playing it very cool in terms of road signs.

The real reason I took the pictures on this road were for the Twin Peaks. You can think of the old TV series, or the breastaurant chain.

A few miles down the road we arced off US 26 to US 20. Had we stayed on 26, it would have led us to ATOMIC CITY! But we continued to the booming metropolis of Idaho Falls, home of many of the nuclear scientists working up the road. Next time someone says they are from Idaho Falls, give them some space if they have a glowing personality. And, there’s a good chance you’re talking to somebody much smarter than you.

About thirty miles east of the big city, the Snake River meets up with US 20 at the Clark Hill Rest Area. On hindsight, I wish we had stopped there. I immediately saw large nests and bald eagles on telephone poles. No looking through binoculars to identify them. These were the real thing – three on one pole! I started slowing down each time I spotted an abnormality on a pole in the distance. Lots of nests, more eagles. A bit further down the road I slowed enough to stare an owl down. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture.

We finally arrived at Palisades RV Park, another we had called while on the road and another where we got the last site. Not exactly a site. It was in the “overflow” area. It was ok for overnight and though the lady was overly nice and accommodating, she still charged us full price, $45. For that, despite her being so nice, I’d recommend staying at one of the other RV parks. I don’t get mad (well, sometimes), I get even.

The RV park’s location is a short walk to the Snake River. That’s one positive for the place. I couldn’t wait.

We got to the river just as the evening mosquito hatch was in full swing. We were breathing them in as we nearly ran back to the campsite. Perhaps the location is not the most ideal. No eagles to be seen either. We hid inside the rest of the night. Mosquitos suck!

Jul 28th

Happy Birthday to me. For this birthday, same as the year I graduated high school, and for those who are guessing, MLK and RFK were killed that year, I treated myself to a somewhat scenic route and a night at The Longhorn Ranch Lodge and RV Park, right on the Wind River. Did you see the movie? The setting, though in winter, would have been fairly close to the Longhorn, but on, perhaps, the Shoshone or Wind River Reservation. However, like a lot of westerns, it wasn’t shot there. Rather, it was filmed mostly in Park City, Utah. The snow is real though. (We haven’t seen it yet. I looked it up. We’ll wait for it on HBO.)

Anyway, the route I selected to get us home in two stops from Palisades RV Park has us going a bit further on US 20 until it intersects with US 89. We take 89 to US 191, but instead of going south on 191 toward the ever-popular Rock Springs, WY on I-80, a shorter route, we head north toward Moran, passing through Jackson and Grand Teton National Park. At Moran, head southeast on US 26 again to Dubois. One night in Dubois, one in Rawlins, and then high tail it back to Colorado Heights in Monument. You ever wonder where that expression, “high tail it” comes from? Well, if you know, good for you. For others, look it up, keep wondering, or remain oblivious.

This is a relatively short drive of 144 miles. But, it is packed with scenery. Right out of the gate – yeah, a horse racing expression – we have to stop at Palisades Dam.

Sorry. That’s all I got. You can see the dam beyond. But the main reason we stopped was because we had a FaceTime call coming in from Bree and Patrick and the cutest grandkids on the planet. Reception was so-so, cutting the call short. Osprey swooped around from the cliffs to our left. More Bald Eagles nested on telephone poles. Worth a stop, call or not.

We drove on and as we approached Alpine, ID, paralleling the bulging Snake River beyond the dam, we saw RV’s hangin’ near the shore.

Alpine, Idaho. Who ever heard of that? If you go back to a post about The Fountain of Youth RV Park on the Salton Sea in California, you’ll recall that I thought it was THE depository for witness protection folks. Having travelled through 98% of the states (sorry, North Dakota, still no reason to visit though you are probably number one on the list), the Secret Service can drop Rick Gates off just about anywhere and he can get lost in the system immediately. Now, if I had a choice, after I release the Pee-Pee tapes, I’d start a new life in San Diego. It’s all about climate.

But, we’re now turning left on US 89 to Jackson, and still following the Snake River. Gorgeous.

I think this is the same picture, zoomed in.

We had lunch there, one of our few, truly beautiful lunch stops. Come on, I know you’ve got lunch stop envy. We listened to rafting groups go by as we had PBJs.

A few miles south of Jackson, a major highway renovation project on US 89 provided me with my first birthday present. The road is in terrible shape. The speed limit drops to 45 but it should be about 20. The vibration on that shitty road was so bad, I got present number 1 – the compressor for the front end air conditioner/heater stopped working. WTF? Did a wire get jolted off? I don’t know. It’s on my to-do list.

Navigating Jackson is fun, at 42′. Streets are tight, but they get out of your way. What a tourist shit-show! If you’re going to visit the Tetons and you hate crowds, avoid Jackson. Book a year in advance and stay in the park or anyplace away from Jackson. But that’s just me. I want the money in my pocket to stay there.

Leaving Jackson, we head north and immediately upon leaving town are drawn to the Tetons to our left, but this plane coming in for a landing is quite the distraction.

The sky was hazy, perhaps caused by western wildfires. The zoomed-in shots were just not worth showing. How about this one from a distance?

If you haven’t been, the Tetons and Yellowstone should be on your bucket list. Book one or two of the lodges at least a year in advance. You can fly into Jackson but look into Bozeman also. Yellowstone is huge, like bigger than Rhode Island, so don’t expect to see it all in three days. If you’ve got some adventure in your bones, and more days, rent an RV in Denver and take the route up 26 to Moran.

Speaking of, at Moran, we head southeast on US 26. Some of that drive is mind blowing. The mountains to the northeast are spectacular. When the road finally straightened out and the speed limit allowed us to get moving, I received birthday gift number two, WHAM! A rock smacked the windshield, passenger side and up pretty high. Scared the shit out of both of us and created a spider crack about two inches in diameter. Calming down, we proceeded to the Longhorn RV park.

Nice place. Spacious sites, some back-in sites right on the Wind River. Negative – some family reunion was going on so there was no peace.

Before calling it a day, Andrea came in and asked why water was flowing out of our outside electric compartment. DOH!

Birthday present number three:

That L-joint is part of the moving rack of wires and plumbing from the bedroom to the rear bathroom. One of the brackets in the immovable section broke and the L-joint started moving too much. That olive-green thing is a bowl. I didn’t uncover all this until we got back. In the meantime, the solution was to turn the water off and open a couple of faucets to relieve the pressure. Turn the internal pump on when necessary – “ok, I need to flush now.” Only one more night to go.

July 29th

Dubois to Western Hills Campground, Rawlins, WY

This is a 198 mile drive. The scenery is what you might think of in a western movie but perhaps a bit more rolling hills. In my mind it is quite beautiful. Sorry, I failed to take a picture. About 40 miles down the road on US 26, you have to bear right onto US 287 toward Lander. It was another 70 miles or so to our rest stop, named Sweetwater Station. Have you seen ‘Once Upon a Time In The West’? One of my favorite movies of all time, set in Kansas as the railroads moved west, filmed in Spain and Monument Valley, starring Henry Fonda as the villain, Charles Bronson, the vengeful hero, Jason Robards, the likeable bandit, and Claudia Cardinale as the love interest. The first scene (Google “Once Upon a Time In The West Opening Scene”) lasts about fifteen minutes and includes two old time western actors, Jack Elam and Woody Strode (first African American professional football player, turned actor), and one of the great exchanges in a western. Elam, Strode, and another toothless bad guy, with their three horses, approach Bronson who just got off a train.

Bronson: “And Frank?” (Referring to Fonda)

Elam: “Frank sent us.”

Bronson: “Which one’s my horse?”

Elam: “Well…looks like we’re… (turns around and smiles at his buddies)..looks like we’re shy one horse.”

Bronson: (shakes his head) “You brought two too many.”

The bad guys get a look of terror in their faces and then all hell breaks loose. Watch it on you-tube. Oh, the movie’s all about the future train stop, Sweetwater.

Rawlins is a truck-stop/oil refinery town along I-80. The campground is a little bit west of the US 287 intersection but it is great for an overnighter. The lady running the place is really nice. The RV park is nothing more than a gravel parking lot with a variety of hookup combinations, mostly pull throughs. All we needed was electric but got a full because of our length (with the jeep).

July 30th

Last leg, 279 miles. This is a long one for us. Avoiding the construction mess in Cheyenne, we take US 267 south at Laramie. That takes us through Fort Collins, a tight drive through the college town, and eventually to I-25 south. At 200 miles, outside Longmont, we rest and I finally get what I’ve been craving for days – two McDonald’s cheeseburgers (no mustard, please – New Yorkers don’t put mustard on hamburgers – and I prefer to pull the pickles out and eat them separately. Shoot me.)

On the road again. Just have to negotiate Denver traffic. One moment of indecision – the RV GPS, loaded with our weight, width and height, wants to route me around the city on 225. The warning message is 11′ bridge! What? I’ve driven this a hundred times. Keep following the other trucks. A mile or so before we get to the football stadium, signs indicate that trucks should stay in the middle lanes. Oh yeah! A couple of overpasses by the stadium are arced and very low at the far left and right. Been awhile. No problem.

Finally. Back at Colorado Heights Camping and RV Resort. Our second favorite site, C29, is available. However, the owner jacked up electric rates to $8 a day. This would be a nice park if it wasn’t right on Monument Hill near the top, elevation 7,343′. Northbound traffic is flooring it. Trucks roar. Southbound, trucks use engine braking which is also very loud. The noise is incessant. Some say they get used to it. White noise. At night, when you go out and look at the stars, it’s always there. This past weekend (Aug 11-12-13) was the peak of the Perseids. We went out the first two nights. Saw at least 10, a couple of real long ones, accompanied by the drone of never ending traffic. That’s no way to look at the stars.

Anyway, that’s it for travels this summer. We’re here to see the kids as much as possible. And get some repairs done on Odyssey. By the way, I replaced the L-joint but had to buy a $45 crimping tool for the job. I hate plumbing problems.

Have a good rest of the summer. If we take any good day trips, I’ll be in touch. Otherwise, looks like Gold Canyon, AZ will be the next destination in October.

If anyone has a question about any of the places we’ve visited, or you’d like to discuss politics, religion, or the meaning of life, email me at bjcarlin71@gmail.com.

One more thing – Dr Ford, the shot was not effective.

Advertisements

Portland and the Columbia River Gorge: 7/22-7/25/18

This is it! The last sightseeing stop on the great west coast odyssey. Did you ever get to the end of a 10 day vacation where you’re out doing something everyday and think you need to take a break from vacationing? Try 122 days, about 4,000 miles driving a behemoth, and another 5,000 touristing. What? OK, I checked. More like 7,000 on the Jeep and, no, the odometer is disengaged when towing, all driving.

We’re now in Portland Fairview RV Park. The RV park is one of those Thousand Trails “Collection” parks with a $20 surcharge. The location is pretty good on the east side of Portland, just a few miles from the scenic byway through the Columbia River Gorge. Nice park, well maintained. Sites in the upper section, which is where they apparently put the transients like us, are not very big. We fit, just barely. All concrete pads with a separate pad for your toad – that would be towed (vehicle). Mowed, green grass between sites, each with its own small street lamp with your site number on it. The lower area – it is pretty steep going down to the trash dump, just as nice, seems to have more of the long-term campers. It is one of the best parks we’ve stayed at during the journey. We didn’t spend much time there. We’re tourists!

Monday morning and we were out on a waterfall tour along the river, following the Historic Columbia River Highway. First stop, Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint. Really? An overlook that needs six words? Come on, man, or women! This is looking east.

You see that house on the cliff to the right? That’s the next stop, Crown Point State Scenic Corridor. What? Only five words? Well, it had better views. In truth, those long names are what you find on Google maps. They are a little shorter in reality. This view is looking back to the west (the east view wasn’t much different than the first pic if you crop out the cliff).

Luna was just loving yet another tourist ride:

NOT!

How about a little history about the making of the gorge?

Millions of years in the making. Any lunes out there doubt that? More on that in the next post.

Then it was on to Latourell Falls, and Multnomah Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls, and this falls and that falls:

Actually, those are shots from Latourell Falls, the skinny waterfall, and the others from the bridge across Multnomah Falls. Here’s one more from Latourell.

Some people just like to get wet.

This is from Bridal Veil Falls. I thought it was cool enough for its own place here.

Unfortunately, the Historic Columbia River Highway is undergoing major restoration from Bridal Veil Falls east to its termination in Dodson. We missed a couple of falls. To get to Multnomah Falls, the big one, you have to get on the interstate going west for one exit and turn around eastbound.

So, onto Multnomah Falls. It is right on Interstate 84. It has its own exit! And restaurant, and gift shop, and parking lot big enough for busses! Arrgh! Another billion people! The shots in the collage are from a bridge across the lower part, so you’re not seeing it all. If you must see it, you’ll understand why I wanted to leave this photo out, even though it shows its enormous beauty. Wonder if I could clean it up using one of those apps to remove photobombers.

Don’t you just want to be Alec Guinness in ‘Bridge Over The River Kwai’ and hit the plunger (he fell on it, last breath, “What have I done”) on the detonator and blow those waving fuckers off? (Where does this rage come from?)

There are at least three falls you can see from I-84. Pretty cool but kind of a road hazard as well. Then we went out to the fish hatchery at Bonneville Dam. Kind of cool and they allow dogs. But, by this time, the falls had exhausted my phone’s battery. I also discovered that the two port USB car charger was only working in one port. Not only that, though my phone indicated it was working, in fact it was draining my battery with Andrea’s plugged in the other port. When you can look at the percentage remaining go down with it plugged in, you know something’s wrong. Switching ports proved the theory. Science at work. (I just got a notification from Amazon that the 40 watt, dual 3.0 port sucker was delivered). That problem has bugged me for months. But I tangenticize…

Anyway, the fish were cool to look at. It would have been cooler to drop in a line in the pond of giant rainbow trout. They also have a large, below pool level window where you can see Herman the Sturgeon, a ten foot monster. Great place for kids and dogs. And Big Foot:

Funny, as I was sitting outside the gift shop with Luna, this very attractive, young woman and her daughter sat down across from us. She kept looking over and I thought, “I still have it!”. Andrea came out of the shop with a bag full of kids booty and then the woman approached. She said, “May I take your husband for a night?” Wait! I’m told that’s not what she said. Oh hell, I can dream. She said her mother has a dog that looks just like Luna and could she take a few pictures? I suppose if she approached me alone, I would have thought that to be a great pickup line. You hear that, you young singles? If you don’t have a pet as part of your repertoire, your mother or grandmother might, and might want a picture of one like hers. But be prepared to buy one for her if the line works!

The next day we attempted to find a stream to go rockhounding. We ended up near Mt Hood.

We found a stream under a bridge:

Luna and I had the shit scared out of us every time a car passed overhead. Andrea had fun,

but didn’t find much of anything.

On the drive out, we had to stop to take a look at this and wonder what it was doing there, right in the middle of the deep forest, with no one around:

So I looked it up. Columbia Helicopters started out as one guy, Wes Lematta, in 1957, and one helicopter doing odd jobs. The fleet grew and in 1971, they were the first in “heli-logging”. Now they have dozens of copters here and in New Zealand. They advertise themselves as leaders in heavy lifting but do all kinds of things. The one you see above, N191CH, a Boeing 107-II, has been in the movies. Have you seen ‘King Kong Lives’? Yes, the helicopter hauling away Kong was the one above. Kind of fun to find out stuff like that when you dig. Some of their others have also starred in ‘Runaway Train’, ‘Under Siege’, ‘Demolition Man’, ‘The Lost World: Jurassic Park’, and ‘X2: X-Men United’. So how about that?

While I’m out on that tangent, let’s branch off again. You ever wonder what those numbers on the side of flying machines mean? Like N191CH? They are the radio call numbers/letters. And did you ever notice that the numbers on all US airlines, that is, all aircraft registered in the US, start with N? It was agreed upon in 1919 in an international meeting of aviation folks that the US would use N for aviation radio call signs. We also were awarded the arbitrary W and K for radio/broadcast stations. Why N? The Navy had adopted it as a standard on ships in 1909, so why not aircraft? At international airports you might see plane numbers starting with C-Canada, G-Great Britain, F-France, Germany – sorry, you lost the first war so you can go with D for Deutschland, or those late to the show, J2-Djibouti. The rest of the numbers are up to the airlines, or private plane manufacturers. Southwest has some numbers to honor people, mostly employees. One for a non-employee is N289CT, for Charles Taylor, mechanic for the Wright Brothers. And N191CH? Well, don’t know about the 191 but, CH is clearly for Columbia Helicopters.

Did we have fun out there? If you have interest in such aviation information, these links are interesting:

https://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/aircraft_certification/aircraft_registry/aircraft_nnumber_history/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_aircraft_registration_prefixes

https://crankyflier.com/2014/10/16/everything-youve-ever-wanted-to-know-about-us-airline-tail-numbers-part-1/

Remember when you used to get stoned and go out on those tangents, and one story would lead to another and then…what was I talking about? Oh, you still do. Come on back.

We’re back leaving Mt Hood. As we left the forest road and got back on US 22 west to Portland, I was reminded of the good old days:

I preferred EZ-Wider (after blowing my monthly GI-bill educational check on a big brick), or perhaps an Esmeralda (remember the dragon on the package?) for a party (sometimes of two). But Zig-Zag would do in a moment of personal introspection with headphones on, examining passages from ‘I and Thou’ or ‘Us and Them’, or perhaps contemplating eternity, the weird scenes inside the goldmine of your mind, the shredding of ego – or was it the shredding of my eardrums during ‘Dazed and Confused’?

Returning to the present, and Portland, the great west coast odyssey comes to an end.

We saw a bunch of mountains along the way:

And met some new friends:

Now we have about twelve hundred miles to go to get back to Colorado to see the kids.

Some notes from above ground and pics from the road to follow.

Puyallup, WA: 7/15-7/18/18; Randle,WA: 7/18-7/22/18

pew-AL-up, but I prefer Pile-up. We saw a nasty one on interstate 5 right next to Camp Murray, some military thingie. At least five cars involved, one crushed, and then four screaming ambulances, but only an hour wait for us. We were about a mile behind when it happened. How the fuck does that happen? Beautiful weather, traffic moving along just fine, then BOOM! Gotta be some asshole fucking around on their phone. Or just idiots who shouldn’t be allowed to drive. Pay attention douche-bags! You’re doing 70! It’s just so sad that good driving innocents get caught up in stuff like this. Just back off jack-off! Tailgaters are a pet peeve of mine. Wish I had a small canon that would automatically pop out from the trunk when some jerk crawls up my ass – and fires at the shithead! Get those fuckers off the road!

Sorry. I drive a lot and see all kinds of dumb stuff from up at the trucker’s level. When somebody gets killed on the road on any kind of day, unless it’s a tailgater who fulfills his Darwin Sanction, it pisses me off. Could you tell? (Counting to a thousand and waiting for the editorial staff to get on my ass for using Joe Pesci character language.)

In Puyallup, we stayed at the Washington State Fairgrounds RV Park. Very nice park, as are most fairground RV parks. They’re usually cheap, have full hookups, and generally close to whatever it is you came for. I don’t know if that makes sense but where else can you stay within 35 miles of the Pike Market Place in Seattle for $30 bucks?

And eat good chowder

It was ok

But not worth standing in line for twenty minutes. If you want the best chowder in America (as per the panel of judges on our extensive editorial staff), go to Florence, Oregon and head into the Old Town area to the large public parking lot. On the first dock you’ll see a small shack. Go there. Skip all the expensive restaurants.

Andrea saw the lobster roll on the menu and loved it. Wait, it was Dungenous Crabs.

The big thing in the marketplace is to watch guys throwing fish. And people posing with squid. WTF? After the first ten seconds among twenty billion tourists, I could give a shit about guys throwing fish. Guys throwing up might have been more entertaining. Besides all the fish stores, there were three hundred produce shops, two hundred and fifty niche gift shops, and a few hundred more places to throw your money at. And twenty billion tourists. I just loved it.

The second day in Pile-Up we went to a bead store near Tacoma with the largest collection of beads in the world. I didn’t go in. When she came out, Andrea told me they had a whole entertainment area for the men-folk who don’t find beads all that interesting. They had pole dancers who only wore beads. Cool huh? If only.

The horrendous traffic accident occurred on the ride back. It was pretty awful.

And then we were off to Randle, Washington, a handful of gas stations/convenience stores and the Cascade Peaks RV Park on US 12. The rustic, in the woods, section of the park looked…, well, just great for tent campers. We were directed to the part alongside the highway, for big rigs, and it was fine. A bit weird in that each electric box was centered for the four sites around it and only one of which was 50 amp, the other three 30 amp. We chose a site with no others sharing the box but the 50 amp outlet didn’t work. Overall, it was kind of a dumpy place but good enough for two nights and a great location. US 12 runs east/west (did you know that east/west routes are even numbered and north/south odd, mostly?), south of Mt Rainer’s Paradise entrance and north of the Windy Ridge viewpoint to Mt St Helens.

On Thursday, July 19th, we went to Paradise.

It was clear around the mountain for a short while. Check out all the snow and ice. (At 14,410′, it is almost the exact same height as Pike’s Peak. We just got back to Colorado and Pike’s Peak is bare. You can’t tell from the picture perfect weather we had throughout the northwest, but wow, they sure get their share of precip. Sorry, I’m way behind on these posts.)

If you are on just about any elevated level in the southern Seattle area, Ranier towers above everything, provided it isn’t shrouded with clouds.

The whole drive in was very scenic.

But, again, too many tourists at the visitor center, and major overlooks. We WERE very impressed with all the bicyclists. Kudos to all you crazy people.

On Friday we were off to the volcano. Actually, the northwest is littered with volcanos. They’re all going to blow again one of these days.

The drive to the Windy Ridge overlook,

the closest you can get driving to Mt St Helens, is on forest roads and sometimes, as with life, the journey is the thing.

That little piece of road just seemed worthy of a stop. As we started rising in elevation, we thought, at first, we could see Ranier from one of the overlooks.

Wrong. Mt Adams. From that vantage point, three big peaks are visible, on a clear day. We had yet another perfect day. Mt Hood is the pointy one far in the distance though it doesn’t photograph well from that distance. Zoom in on the info-board below.

And the third volcano from that overlook, Mt St Helens:

The next overlook gave us a peak at Spirit Lake, and a shoreline of logs.

Next, a better look.

Some facts?

Windy Ridge really doesn’t give you as good a look at the big, bad volcano than the earlier viewpoint.

However, the ridge was aptly named and the flowers were blooming.

It was so windy up there that they set up a few huge panels of plexiglass in front of a small amphitheater where, one might assume, rangers present the story of the volcano. One might have doubts about current presentations when you see the condition of the plexiglass.

Without the plexiglass:

The good thing about driving back on the same road you came in on, as opposed to loop drives, is that the scenery looks different from the opposite direction.

First, the devastation was clearer but so was the emergence of new life.

Remember, the blast occurred twenty-eight years ago. Some trees are pretty healthy now.

One last look at Spirit Lake, Harry R Truman’s grave.

And some views we missed going in:

One more:

A bit less awesome than Ranier but way fewer tourists. For you RVers with big rigs, the Cascade Peaks RV Park is a perfect mid point to see both attractions. Just don’t expect much of your rv park experience. You’ll be out touristing most of the time anyway. On the way back from Paradise at Ranier, stop at Cruiser’s Pizza in Packwood and be nice to the counter lady. She kept a smile on in a madhouse on a Friday evening. The pizza was just ok but, hell, it ain’t New York.

See y’all in Portland.

Grandy Creek RV Park, Concrete WA – Part 1 – 7/12-7/15/18

North Cascades National Park has been high on my bucket list since well before the Morgan and Jack road show. Prior to 1997 though, I don’t believe I’d even known the park existed. Do they teach kids today the whereabouts of our National Parks and Monuments other than the Grand Canyon or that tricky one, Yellowstone? I didn’t know much about them until I was 47, so either they didn’t teach that piece of geography in the sixties or those memory cells were deemed to be re-usable along the way. Our Social Studies class, or was it Geography?, in NY, must have offered more than General Grant’s Tomb, a national something (Historical Site), and the Statue of Liberty, a National Monument. For a long time I wondered how any other national monuments, other than the Washington Monument, which I learned later was actually a National Memorial Park, and the Statue of Liberty, could be called a National Monument when they didn’t have a standing, man-made structure, you know, like a big gravestone or or a giant green statue holding a torch. Such was the interest of a kid from Brooklyn.

So what makes Yellowstone tricky, geographically speaking? You know, like where is it? OK, here’s a clue in a question. What do Yellowstone National Park, the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Dinosaur Natonal Monument, and Smoky Mountain National Park have in common? (Other than that they are administered by the National Park Service.) Mull on that, or cheat and Google them. I’ll bet most of you east coast folks didn’t even know there was a Dinosaur National Anything.

In 1997, specifically Labor Day weekend in Albany, NY, a switched turned on in my head and I began research into and planning of The Big Trip. The following June we flew out to Las Vegas and embarked on a 2,200 mile trek, a circular route from the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon through southern Utah, western Colorado, and back through all five national parks in Utah, over sixteen days. As part of the preparation, I bought one of those National Parks books. I was rather awestruck at the photos of North Cascades National Park, one I had never heard of. I put a bold checkmark on those memory cells.

When we started talking about this west coast adventure, North Cascades had to be in the conversation. Rarely does the anticipation match up with the reality, and I had been hyping this place for twenty years, but, it is as advertised, stunning. It is the least visited of all our National Parks, mainly for logistical reasons. One road, US 20, runs through the park. It is 133 miles from the Seattle-Tacoma airport to the visitor center in Marblemount. It’s another 43, jaw dropping miles with a few spectacular overlooks, to the Washington Pass Overlook, and another 32 miles to civilization, the small town of Winthrop where you can stay. You could drive another 180 miles east to Spokane, or drive back to Seattle and see the park going west. It’s kind of big for a one day trip. So people skip it. Don’t, if you come to Seattle.

We stayed in Grandy Creek RV Park, a weird kind of place – half Thousand Trails and half KOA, in Concrete, WA. Actually, it was about eight miles west of the actual town, and its 2,500′ airstrip. More on that later. Nice park, most sites are treed so satellite dishes only work in a few. We had a spacious back-in with full hookups, but just 30 amp electric, which limits your electrical usage at times and, we’ve found, doesn’t provide enough oomph to our clothes dryer. Other than the choose-your-own-site policy, which I detest, no complaints about the park. Well, the KOA side had some function extend beyond the quiet hour on Saturday night, and they were loud, but I’m ok with people having fun.

By the way fuck Trump and …..(editor’s redaction).

Onto the National Park. Before we even entered the park, we stopped at a roadside park in Rockport alongside the Skagit River. An interpretative board included information on Bald Eagles in the area. Sorry, they only come around in the winter, but when they do, it’s by the hundreds. In fact, Concrete celebrates their return every weekend in January providing volunteers at multiple sites along the river who help with spotting and enjoying the spectacle. The eagles come for the adult salmon population that runs upstream in the fall, actually, their carcasses, when they run out of gas. I would love to come back some January. Anyway, the surprise for us was the view to the east, into the park:

After stopping at the visitor center in Marblemount, where – can I say this without the PC bullshit? – a cute Park Ranger pointed out the most scenic points on the drive and when I asked if it was worth driving to the Washington Pass, she asked if I was asking to be convinced and that was an easy yes. She asked if I liked looking at jagged mountain peaks and I said, sign me up. But first, the waterfall at the power plant at Marblemount:

Not bad for a trail carved out by the power plant.

With the right angle of the sun, its own rainbow:

Give them some credit. They even installed colored lighting on the trail and the waterfall along with music for the night time visitors.

And then off to the mountains, and through them.

Ok, let’s just bag the commentary (other than any keyboard entry to put the photos in sequence – otherwise, WordPress randomly fucks with them.

A few dams along the way created lakes.

It just kept getting prettier.

Roadside waterfalls were plentiful.

And large:

Actually, that’s underneath a bridge, the remains of a skinny waterfall, leading to the Skagit River.

Another overlook:

Now to the north:

And now deeper into the park:

Walking out to the middle of that road to the left:

It was like that for miles. “Look at that!”, every minute or so,

as the road turned.

At this stop we neared the Pacific Crest Trail.

Finally, we made it to the Washington Pass Overlook.
Ready?

No photoshopping. The low sun in the sky created those colors.

Some big views, depending on what part of the mostly railed trail of the overlook path you were on.

Here’s one I touched up a little, showing the railing.

It was a place you could hang out and marvel at this stuff for hours.

I would love to take that drive again in, perhaps, May, or the earliest US 20 opens – it closes for the winter, to see more snow capped peaks. As it was, we had perfect weather, a rarity in this part of the country. It has been like this, if not a bit hot, for weeks. Karma, baby.

I can’t add any more photos to this email to Carlinrv.com because of size issues, even after using a size-reducing app to cut them down over 50%. So, day two of our stay in Concrete provided a nice surprise. More good Karma.

Oh, back to the question, what do Yellowstone National Park, the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Dinosaur Natonal Monument, and Smoky Mountain National Park have in common? They each have borders over multiple states. Yellowstone, most of which is in Wyoming but also overlaps Idaho and Montana. Glen Canyon, which includes Lake Powell, spreads over Utah and Arizona. By the way, if you ever go there, do not miss, and I cannot stress this in the highest of bucket list terms, the short hike to Antelope Canyon near Page, AZ. Dinosaur National Monument is mostly in Colorado but the big quarry is in Utah. Lastly, Smoky Mountain National Park is in North Carolina and Tennessee.

Grandy Creek RV Park, Concrete WA – Part 2 – 7/12-7/15/18

We had no clue that we’d be in Concrete on the day of their Annual Vintage Aircraft Fly-In, nor that they even had an airport. With about a hundred hours as a private pilot (before buying a house and thus the funds to continue the hobby), airplane events hold a special interest for me.

Andrea too. She took lessons up to the point where the instructor told her he was getting out and she could continue her touch-and-goes on her own. She asked, “You mean you think I can land this by myself?”. Yes. “That’s all I wanted to hear. We’re done.” And her flight training was over. She just wanted to make sure that if I keeled over at the controls after a turkey sandwich with bad mayonnaise that she could land it. We have a lot of good flying stories.

So here we are in Concrete, Washington with loads of like-minded people. At least when it comes to flying. <Editor’s redaction> And that’s all I have to say about that! This is about flying small planes.

That sleek one on the left is a beauty. The other one ain’t bad either. Nice setting too.

Words to keep WordPress from randomly throwing them out on the screen.

Too lazy to edit the files on the website.

Fun, huh.

Just too cool hanging out on the runway.

With other flyers.

Makes me want to get back up there.

There’s life after RVing. Maybe in one of these.

Where else, except for hundreds of little airports across the country, can you walk across the runway and see this:

If you live anywhere near one like this, look for notices about fly-ins or air shows. You’ll love it.

Good night.

Beachwood Resort, Birch Bay, WA – 7/6-7/12/18

Their sign says Five-Star! Five-Star what? Another very old RV park with the only upgrades being a handful of 50Amp sites buried so deep in trees you need a Thai Seal team to find them. Again, find your own site. No reserved sites. That’s a ridiculous way to operate. You end up with truck campers and those stubby little bubbles about the same size as Haystacks Calhoun filling up the huge sites and monsters like us in sites only Twiggy could comfortably fit in. A totally outdated concept. After those dozen or so large sites, most of the other full hookup sites are face-to-face, that is, one RV pulls in from the east side, one from the west so you share your “camping area”. That’s great if your neighbor is family, or you’re both swapping couples. The sites are so close, you both can’t put out your awnings but if you have slides and into that swapping thing…., oh, nevermind (editor redaction).

One more note for you RVers, sewer hookup is in the far rear so don’t pull in any further than getting your rear end out of the road. Sites are ridiculously narrow for large RV’s. Another bad Coast To Coast park. Hey Mr. Profit, your parks suck.

On the bright side, we had enough distance between ourselves and the towering trees to the south to see the DTV satellites. This far north, just a few miles from the 49th parallel, the dish needs to “see” 31° over the southeast horizon. That was about the only positive about the park, and location near the border.

New subject. Hey, we’re still exploring the West Coast and on the very bright side, have made it to our northernmost RV destination, Birch Bay, Washington.

Cute little tourist town with one road along the bay and lots of parking so you can get out and take pictures – and find pretty rocks on the beach. There were several restaurants on the strip and decided this was the town to go out to dinner for some crab. Andrea wanted Crab Louie and The Beach had it. We got to the restaurant at about 6 on a Saturday night. Turns out a band had been playing since 3pm. We sat down outside on the front deck but could still hear the band well enough to catch the end of a kickass version of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Are you kidding me? Then they banged out Led Zeppelin’s ‘Rock and Roll’. We had to get a little closer. We moved our table around the corner so we could at least see the band.

No, I don’t see them in this shot either. Then they did two stinkers and said goodnight. “Local bands are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” Sage words from the 20th century’s greatest philosopher.

Hello! Can we please have dinner? Karaoke is about to begin. Their computer went down and everybody’s orders got screwed up. The people who sat down next to us a half hour after we got there had dinner and when their check was lost, were told, “It’s about $35.” Our dinner finally arrived and Andrea had trouble finding the crab in her Louie. They were out of the local porter beer so I settled for a red, which was very good, to go with my chef’s salad. You can’t screw that up. All in all, it was worth it. The band had its moments, if they’d only stick with the heavy stuff.

Then the sun set.

Take a look to the left of the tip of the bay. Beyond lies a piece of land hanging in a peninsula off Canada. Stop now, if you’re not driving, and Google “Point Roberts”. If you haven’t read the Wikipedia page yet, briefly, after the War of 1812, it took some time to finally settle the northern boundary of the 49th parallel between the US and Canada. But that left a little piece of a peninsula in British Columbia hanging under that dividing line. Point Roberts is part of the state of Washington with its northern boundary being Canada and the rest of it hanging out in The Straits of Juan deFuca. They have their own border crossing and all the bullshit that goes with it.

Speaking of border security guys, —no, the editorial staff says don’t. How about: “Dear Canadian Border Patrol, please put a sign above the booth of an officer in training.” All the other lines progressed at a rate of about eight cars to our one. It was frustrating.

So, despite first impressions at the border, we proceeded to our northernmost driving destination on this entire journey, Burnaby Mountain Park, at Simon Fraser University, latitude 49.2792. Anyway, the location is northeast of Vancouver, BC. It was stunning. Besides the views,

and the views,

and the views,

the main attraction was this:

Can you read that?

If not, Google it.

Next. We went back to Birch Bay the next day and found more colorful rocks. It was too far to Vancouver to drive there on consecutive days. But, The Day After – did you see that made-for-TV movie about when they finally pushed the button? Maybe you should watch it after Dumbo’s latest performance – we went back through the city to Stanley Park. We had heard so many good things about Vancouver being so beautiful that we had to check it out. For a city, I guess. We were underwhelmed. Maybe the hype was too much. But let’s not focus on the traffic and the inner city looking like every inner city.

Stanley Park is beautiful, surrounded by water with a seawall path all around and dog friendly. We parked near a big marina,

a Navy and Marine training base,

and some hokey, made-for-the-park totem poles:

I cropped out all the tourist heads. Perhaps they belonged. These things seem to mock the tourists.

It is a very active port. Here we see a ship coming in to pick up that load of hair dye for the US Oragutan-In-Chief.

Lots of stuff going on.

And lots of seaplanes.

We did see some wildlife. Some ducks. Wait, Canadian Geese. How about that!

And then back to that hoity-toity marina – that building with pink tinted glass was cool.

But you can keep your big cities.

This ends the northbound journey that started on Interstate 5 in San Diego, about 2,200 miles ago in March. But the trip ain’t over yet. Bucket list number 3, yep, that high, is still to come.

And then, July 16, 2018, we hear the Traitor-In-Chief say he’d rather take the word of the former head of the KGB then the work of all our own security forces.

My reaction was, inexplicably, in a foreign tongue, “§¥Ωθฯ₩”. I think that’s Russian (those horizontal lines indicate the phrase is filled with anger) for “You fucking idiots.” Come on, hold up your hands, Trumpty-Dumbsters. You fucked up.

Thunderbird and Lake Ki Resorts 6/30-7/6/18

Thunderbird! I loved the early sixties commercials for the Ford Thunderbird. It was the late fifties answer to the Chevrolet Corvette but, in the early sixties, it either couldn’t or wouldn’t compete with the Chevy sports car and at some point added a rear seat. When Ford introduced the Mustang, it was a death sentence for the Thunderbird. You car buffs can fill in the holes – or flat out correct me. That’s how I remember it.

You know, that’s how a lot of history, before people wrote down what happened, was recorded: by some asshole’s memory. Always makes me wonder about anything we call history before they started writing it down. Did you ever discuss an old event with a family member or friend and find you have completely different versions of something that you both experienced? What’s true? What’s bullshit?

And we’re supposed to believe a story about a blue-eyed white guy in the middle east, with no weight training, pushing aside a massive boulder, a few days AFTER he was crucified, that sealed his cave-grave, and meeting his old drinking buddies for brunch.

This blog thing has been so straight and focused about RVing lately. Boring. We need some life in it, or, maybe a piece on bullshit. Listen to the attached audio. Can you imagine Uncle George going after the idiot-in-chief? Where are you when we need you, George? Can you come back too?
(I emailed everyone on the blog list because I have little confidence that WordPress accepts audio files)

Well, we moved to this park with the thunderous name because it’s one of our free, network parks and close enough for day trips into Seattle. Getting here required a decision – 1 if by land, 2 if by sea. Lots of history in today’s blurb.

Option 1 had us looping south and east off the Olympic Peninsula, staying on land over a small bridge or two as we then turned to the north up I-5 and then northeast of central Seattle. Option 2 saved us about 70 miles going straight across the city using the Kingston to Edmunds ferry. The savings in diesel fuel was not nearly as much as the cost of driving a 42′ motorhome and towed Jeep onto a boat. The travel time was about the same. But, WTF! Sometimes it’s about the experience.

We drove up to the ferry entrance about 15 minutes prior to the next departure. The nice lady at the toll booth charged us for the 50-feet-and-under length (they charge by increments of 10 feet) and included our senior discount. Whoo-hoo! I had measured us the night before and, with the towing apparatus, came up with about 55′. Saved about $20 off my estimate! That’s like winning the lottery. Almost. Maybe a scratch-off. The crew on the boat squeezed us in against a wall and off we sailed across the Puget Sound.

For the hour ride, a lot of people got out of their cars to go up on the deck where the wind chill was about 40°, others went for the $10 Starbucks. Most locked their cars and when the first wave bumped the boat, 10 alarm systems went off. They ran the gamut from horns to buzzers to sirens. Nine duffuses (pretty sure that’s the PC plural for dumb shit) ran back to their cars. The big Suburban at the front of our row blared for twenty minutes, through four more waves and more dumb asses running around spilling their lattes until the crew called number one dumb shit over the PA system, “Hey, dumb shit Suburban owner – get out here and shut your car up.” Something like that.

Almost there.

The Suburban dude went back for another Swiss Almond White Chocolate Orange Maple Syrup Organic Kale Espresso and they had to call for him again to get back in his car as we pulled into the dock. He still wasn’t there when the gate opened.

We were the last row to exit because of that dickhead. Sometimes it’s all about the experience.

Then we drove through the city and over to Monroe, WA and this pretty little park by the river. We were very underwhelmed, at first. Another Thousand Trails camp in the woods, with a find-your-own-site policy, and so treed that a satellite dish is useless in most sites. Our first site was one of those. It was on the south side of the campground, the main area. Across the road are two satellite camping areas right alongside the Skykomish River. No trees, except a row of very tall firs lining the roadway. Getting a satellite signal was only possible in the first three sites from the entrance where the dish could find a signal out the vertical hole in the driveway. Alas, in site 92, seventh in from the entrance, no signal. I tried our two broadcast TV antennas. Nothing, not even PBS!

Well, TV in the summer is rather lame anyway. T-Mobile internet wasn’t bad. After a further examination of the park, we decided it is a rather nice park for what it is – a place to camp. Most of these “free” parks in both our networks are similar. They are not designed for full timers. We expect to be able to use all our utilities and satellite dish. The two full hookup sites that were available upon arrival were buried in the trees. They were horribly uneven as well. The sunny sites on the river have no sewer. No sewer, no satellite, no TV at all. The last couple of nights we rented movies. They were pretty decent. But, we didn’t come to Seattle to watch TV.

We came to see the damn Space Needle.

Hey look! A bird picture too. A sea gull. Oh boy. So how much does it cost to go up?

What? That’s with a senior discount? Uh-uh.

So we strolled around that mall area. It was really nice. Cool stuff all around for all ages.

Lots of color, and a little fish-eye warping.

We also passed on the Chihuly exhibit. We’ve seen his stuff in the Scottsdale Desert Botanical Gardens and, of course, throughout The Bellagio on the Vegas strip. It’s been at least five years, maybe more, since we’ve been there, but it had, by far, the nicest, most luxurious sports book on the strip. You could bet $2 a race at any track in America (or any sporting event) and at your semi-private booth with its own TV, tuned to any track (or game) of your choice, in a big, comfy leather chair, be served a Grey Goose martini about every twenty minutes – for a buck tip.

Uh-oh, I’m getting the urge, it’s Saratoga season. For all you who were there eight years ago, thank you for coming. Is that place not fabulous? If you liked that, put Del Mar on your bucket list. For those who have no clue what I’m talking about, eight and a half years ago, when we lived in Colorado, Andrea asked me what I wanted to do for my 60th birthday. I said, “Go to Saratoga”. My birthday is at the end of July, right after the start of the Saratoga (NY) horse racing meet. What started as just us, evolved into a party of about fifty. We rented a tent at the track and had a great weather day. I think a good time was had by all. But, I digress.

We took a break from strolling the Seattle mall with the big needle and checked out all the food vendors. Easy choice. The corn on the cob on a stick was dipped in a giant vat of hot butter and the salt shaker was one of those movie theater popcorn jobs. Well, the corn’s kind of healthy, right? After that we found the big fountain.

And if you move around it, you can get the big needle in the shot. Sounds a little like a spinal epidural – speaking of, hey doc, see you in August.

So we got the big tourist attraction out of the way and only spent a few bucks on the corn and parking. With our ability to read English, understand signs, and navigate a payment kiosk, we parked on the street, directly across from the park. We watched car after car pass up the open spots on the street and turn into the two, expensive garage lots. Sheep!

I think we did something else in Seattle but it was not worth a picture or a picture in one of my memory cells. OK, we mapped genes in DNA. When are we going to map memory cells in our thick skulls? When they do that, and can tap in to every one of them and pull out a video, well, it would be pretty cool, no? Just sayin’. Imagine a recall button on the latest miniature computer device where you could plug in a date and time and start replaying what actually was experienced by your eyes, or by a witness to an historical event and not by the recollection of a dozen winos a couple of thousand years ago claiming their water turned to wine and a dead guy joined them for brunch. This is still the dark ages where the bullshit is flying higher than ever. Map those memory cells and we can rid the world of liars and con artists, like the idiot-in-chief. You know, it might be that democracy has peaked and the people have elected a goon like themselves. How about this quote, written 98 years ago:

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.~H.L. Mencken, The Evening Sun, July 26, 1920”.

He was a journalist and a critic of just about everything. He was also a racist so I don’t admire the man, but he had his moments.

With nothing more on Seattle, we filled in a couple of days of bad planning with a stop at:

Lake Ki RV Resort; July 4th to the 6th

It actually worked out well. We were closer to the Boeing Factory Tour in Everett, WA. This was one of those stops every pilot looks forward to. And then I read it was $23 a senior. Well, we had been going very cheap so I sprung for it. Don’t waste your money. Go up on the big needle. They load 45 people on a bus, say an average of $24 a head, with a few freebies, and it’s a $1,000 a busload. Bus after bus – ca-ching, ca-ching, ca-ching. And, no phones or cameras allowed. Why not? Nobody was working. Half the bays that were supposed to have planes didn’t as the tour guide kept saying, “Imagine if a plane were here”. Well, fuck! We paid for and were expecting a plane to be here and somebody doing something! Not worth five bucks! Just say no! Don’t go.

Of course, the tour ends with them dropping you off in the gift shop. More rip-off crap. The only t-shirts I considered, without the Boeing logo, had WWII planes on them but I can’t, in good conscience, anymore – and once upon a time it wouldn’t have crossed my mind – promote a weapon of death and destruction, even though its purpose was to rid the world of a fascist dictator. On second thought, perhaps that message would be appropriate today, in our country. Here’s fucking Boeing:

The 4th of July at Lake Ki was noisy. We were right on a big lake with lots of private homes on it with residents with deep pockets for fireworks, big ones. Luna was freaked out for about eight hours. The RV smelled like gunpowder. It wasn’t as cool as Bayville with all their bonfires, but the pyrotechnics in the sky were fairly impressive. I guess. With the backdrop of pine trees and years of living in a high-fire-danger area, the whole thing seemed incongruous. Celebrating the disgraces of the present administration was not something I cared to participate in this year. Andrea posted some nice photos. I was looking for pine trees and explosions. Every Coloradan should wince.

I believe I committed the cardinal rule, had I been in a bar – do not discuss politics and religion. Good thing this isn’t a fucking bar.

And if you’re tuning in from the website and not on the email list, the audio file, George Carlin’s take on religion, didn’t make it. Sorry.

Onto the northernmost stop on our itinerary, Birch Bay. Perhaps I’ll shed some anger crossing the border.

Port Angeles Vicinity, Olympic NP; 6/27-6/30/18

Shadow Mountain RV Park and General Store is directly on US 101, the main highway circling the Olympic Peninsula. The drive from Forks was about 45 miles, mostly through forest, but as the road turns to the east it starts to get considerably more hilly and the curves mellow. Then boom! You thought I was going to say mountainous, right? Wrong. A sign for signalman – can we please assume that the “man” in that word means human and dispense with the question of gender? Fact is, the signalman was, by all visual clues, a woman. Then a big SLOW DOWN digital panel. We were going downhill so that part is important for 34,000 pounds.

We are, by no means, among the heaviest vehicles on this highway. The logging trucks, sometimes with double trailers, own these roads and probably account for the good shape they are in. National forest, yes; commercially logged, yes again. We passed an area on Sunday where cut trees were waiting for shipping in row upon row of stacks, just 100 yards from the highway. We’ve also passed areas of growing smaller trees in perfectly even rows which indicates, to me, that the area was once logged and trees replanted. But, I digress. It just appears that logging has been done in a reasonable manner up here. They have so many trees!

The slow down sign helped because the road got very curvy and kept descending. We need to heed those orange road warnings about curves, squiggles and especially the ones that suggest 35mph around the curve. If we try to make the curve faster, things tend to shift – though we’ve really tightened up the ship before moving these past few months. Again, going off topic.

After numerous caution signs, one curve of the road after another, as the road straightened out, we passed the first roadworker with a SLOW sign. This was the first curvatious blonde I can recall on a road crew, though I think there were a couple on Roger Water’s crew during the building of The Wall on his tour about 7 or 8 years ago. About a half mile down the descending straightaway was another worker holding the dreaded STOP sign. Another half mile ahead was a glimpse of the western edge of Crescent Lake.

And yes, those are weird socks hanging out the driver’s window in front of us.

In truth, we had read about this construction and been warned about possible half hour delays. US 101 pretty much clings to the edge of the lake for its 7 or 8 mile length. It’s up and down, curve left 25mph, curve right 30mph, the entire way around. And that’s where they are repaving. They had truck after truck with road materials, asphalt and tar trucks, and a bunch of steamrollers. A guide truck took the conga line through. And, hey, when I said “Boom”, it had become, unbeknownst to us, mountainous. It became obvious a day or two later when we drove back from Port Angeles. Pretty.

The first mile or so is absolutely gorgeous but we had no chance to pause for a picture and though that usually doesn’t stop me, the constant turning of the road required my full attention (except for many peeks). More than halfway through we had to stop again and this is all I could get:

The campground is just past the eastern edge of the lake and just across 101 from Lake Sutherland. We had a good view of it last night from the east side of the campground – we are up at the top of a tiered layout, but were walking Luna and didn’t bring our cameras. Today, Thursday, it’s drizzling, so far putting a damper on our hiking plans, but, we only have another day here so let’s go.

Marymere Falls

With our legs somewhat recovered from the steep hike up from Second Beach, we went in search of a popular waterfall. Reversing our heading on US 101 back to the west, we ran into the flaglady just 450 yards from the turn to the Storm King Ranger Station and trailhead to Marymere Falls. The delay was short and soon we were parked and on the trail. It’s listed in AllTrails as “easy”, .7 miles to the falls. Perfect. I can do that.

What a gorgeous trail.

More of that rainforest look but they get less rain here than over on the west coast.

A little creepy, huh? Like Big Foot is going to come out from behind it.

They have some big ones, too.

It was an easy trail for six tenths of a mile. Right after we crossed this bridge,

the stairs appeared and the designer of the trail revealed his evil side.

At least there was a reward at the top.

That’s not a stick at the top but a long log with a barely noticeable undulation. One of these days it’s going.

Certainly nothing like Yellowstone Falls but a lot better than some other duds.

The return hike was almost exactly like the hike in, surprise, surprise, except at the very end, these guys were back at the trailhead. Black-tailed deer. Oh boy, we saw wildlife!

Hurricane Ridge

Next on the tourist list, the Hurricane Ridge drive. I’m expecting a small version of the road through Rocky Mountain National Park. Maybe we should take that route on our return to Monument.

From 101, it’s about 17 miles uphill, fairly gradual. As we gained some altitude, fog – no, clouds, started to shroud the way. Then a few overlook viewpoint pullouts showed up on the other side of the road, all with zero visibility. This might be a waste of time.

We finally got to the top, where the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is located, and, as suspected, it was overlook galore with loads of people milling around looking for a view. It was mostly cloudy but we could see pieces of some mountains. A sign indicated a picnic area was a mile further ahead. It was a bit of a descent, which we thought might put us back in the clouds. Only one other car was in that parking area and they were leaving. We walked down to the picnic area.

A bit further and we were singing, “The hills are alive with the sound…”

Maybe not. We never saw the tops of most of them.

But it was pretty nice.

We went back to the visitor center and managed to find something to buy for …me – ‘Raptors – A Child’s Guide To Killer Birds’, something nice like that. And then went out to the overlook behind the building. A mommy deer and two fawns were just down the hill.

One of the Bambi’s was feeding in this shot.
Three family members were standing guard nearby.

How do I know they were family members? Sometimes you just know, or make it up.

I’ll bet it looks great on a clear day.

Maybe next time.

Friday, June 30

The muscles around my hips are screaming, “Don’t do that again anytime soon”. We’re headed to Port Townsend to find out why our friends, Ellen and Ray, also fulltimers, like the town so much that they are considering settling there. But first, a stop at Purple Haze Lavendar Farm.

Lavendar is peaking now. (Yes, that was on purpose. Come on, a little ha-ha.)

You can pick as much as you want.

Kind of a theme here.

And perhaps another theme. Andrea bought some chocolate, and a ‘flashback’ t-shirt.

The owner of this place definitely tripped in the 60’s.

And, I got a bird picture, the state bird of Washington, the American Goldfinch.

Off to Port Townsend where you can catch a ferry to Canada.

We went to Fort Worden State Park, which was kind of cool, an old seafront fort, but they wanted a $10 Day Fee and we got there at 5PM. What, no discount? How about a senior blue light special?

The views there were similar to the one from ‘Quench’, the dog-friendly restaurant at which we had dinner. The ferry pic was from my seat outside. It was warm enough to sit outside in a t-shirt. We had brought Luna’s dinner so everybody was happy. Andrea had clams with a twist – chorizo. She liked it. I had an El Jefe, a Cuban sandwich. Both delicious. This was pretty good too.

On the way back we stopped for a picture of an interesting shop in Discovery Bay.

Did I mention the infatuation they have with Big Foot? The general store, part of this campground, is loaded with Big Foot merchandise. Besides the toys, soap, condoms, and masks, they had kiddie-sized t-shirts that we just couldn’t buy. You know, the Big Foot image and the words, “I Believe”. Sorry, not good enough. Get me one that says, “I Know!”

Anyway, Movin’ on. See you at Thunderbird RV Resort in Monroe, just east of Seattle. Inland, finally.

Forks, Washington 6/24-6/27/18

We saw plenty of the coast in California and Oregon. How different can it be in Washington? So we skipped the lower part with all the Coast to Coast and Thousand Trails parks with no sewers and their bad reviews – I trust RVParkreviews.com because I post reviews there. Like every other review site, you have to take what some say with a grain of salt – please tell me what that expression means! A grain of salt? Salt is great! Never doubt it. Especially on french fries, onion rings, chicken soup, eggs, and on my tongue after burning it on a potent jalapeno. That works, you know – treating fire-mouth with salt. No joke. If you overdose on jalapenos or habeneros or any other stupid pepper that causes pain rather than joy – why do we eat these things to begin with? – just cover those taste buds in your mouth with salt. They will close up and you can now enjoy that Modello. Hmm. That was a tangent with tentacles. But I’m too pissed off about Washington to lose the point. It’s friggin pouring!

And it appears we have a forking problem with our levelers. We arrived in River View RV Park in Mora, WA (at a crossroads, Mora Rd and 110 with a gas station/restaurant, and that’s about it), but with a postal address in Forks, eight miles up the road (on US 101), at about 5pm and pulled into our unlevel site a few minutes later. The RV engine needs to run to operate the electric levelers so we have to leave the engine on to do so, annoying neighbors (though we full timers understand). Once leveled, I can turn the engine off and then we connect electric, water and sewer. Then, we let the slides out. The driver’s side slide is huge – it starts behind the driver’s seat and goes back through the bedroom, just short of the rear bathroom.

And that’s when the shit hit the fan – if driving five stressful hours on twisting, winding roads, with an extraordinary amount of inciteful commentary from the peanut gallery isn’t enough, now the forking levelers are not keeping us level with the slide out. We’re sitting pretty at first and then we start sinking to the left and rear. The goddamn rear left leveler isn’t holding. The front left one might be f’ing up too. Do I sound mad? As we’re leveling, the rain started. At one point, some intense thunder rumbled, and the rain intensified. After several attempts, I was hoping the levelers were just sinking into the gravel and mud. I decided the prudent thing to do was to put out our heavy duty rubber plates and some two by four wood pieces.

Not happening. The left side levelers are not holding us up. I got soaked in a raincoat and gave up. Tomorrow, if the rain ever stops I’m going to disconnect our utilities and move the RV in the site until it is nearly level on its tires. It’s Washington’s fault. I hate this forking state! Now we need to get the levelers fixed. Ca-ching! I hate this state. It’s the rain’s fault. They can take their mother-forking rain forests and shove them up Seattle’s place where the sun don’t shine. Oh, that is Seattle. Who needs this shit? Check back with me when the f’ing rain stops.

Ok, so it f’ing stopped at 9:20pm with this:

Is this normal?

No, I’m still pissed off, Monday, the 25th. We disconnected all the utilities, pulled in the slides and maneuvered around to get the left side up a little on tires. The site still slopes left. After several attempts, the last couple in rain again – I hate Washington – we’re somewhat level but the left rear still sinks a few inches. Andrea put a piece of a two by four under the frame near the lift and the RV sunk into it. It’s helping. We’re stuck with a little tilt and a broken leveler. Unless it becomes a bigger problem, we’ll fix it back in COS. We will be taking careful approaches to campsites in the future, sizing them up for flatness before we pull in. With all the old, woodsy Thousand Trails parks on the itineray, I don’t see a lot of level concrete slabs along the way.

In the meantime, if Washington can keep producing rainbows like that sucker, we’ll forgive some of the rain.

We left for Ruby Beach, within the sprawling Olympic National Park. I’m not sure we’ll ever surpass that rainbow shot, but perhaps someday we’ll be able to capture snapshots that our brains experienced at any split second in our lives and then I’ll include those audial-visual mixtures from yesteryear and even those “I Know!” moments, the ones over the rainbow, but we’ll just trudge on now with stuff like this. As we approached the coast, the sky cleared. Ruby Beach from the parking area:

Why do they all have to be so far below?

Pretty steep path for this one. Going up will be fun.

You don’t see this on many east coast beaches.

All right. Washington state got some points.

We’ll stay.

Of course, the waves are always coming in.

I don’t know what that lighthouse looking thing is out there on the Rock – looks a little like Alcatraz.

The odd thing was that there were no birds of any kind on the beach.

Cool beach.

Andrea walked about a mile down the beach to find a bathroom, successfully, though the police report says she was behind some driftwood, and was worn out from her ordeal (she’s sprawled out in the center on a rock that she says conformed to her back perfectly, with Luna at her side keeping guard):

All in all, Washington redeemed itself. Nice beach.

The sun was dropping

And we still had a rain forest to visit. One last look:

The Hoh Rainforest, within the major chunk of contiguous land comprising Olympic National Park, was on the way back. The twelve mile detour (for our drive back to camp) to the closed Visitor Center was worth it.

It was pretty green.

Lots of ferns and moss and big spruce trees.

We’ve been in a lot of forest land but nothing this wet. In Colorado, you worry about all the dried up underbrush. Here, where rainfall is about an inch, every third day, the underbrush is very green. Fire danger low. The trees are draped in moss. The trees might be different but it kind of reminds me of Louisiana. Just a little.

Though the National Park brochure is full of pictures of wildlife, we saw just one duck. It’s kind of a long drive for a bunch of trees. But, it was a pretty drive. And, Lester Holt just did a piece on the quietest place on Earth – this is it! No wonder. You can’t even hug the trees here. They’re covered in moss. Let’s get out of here. It’s creepy.

Speaking of creepy. This area’s got a thing about ‘Twilight’, the vampire show. I have no idea what it’s all about. They also love Big Foot. I’ve never seen so many wooden sculptures, some 10′ high, of a big, hairy, ugly dude.

Tuesday, off to Second Beach. This is also within the careening national park boundaries. When you mix in a couple of Indian (must I say native American?) reservations there ain’t a whole lot left for living. It’s one giant forest – the northwest part of the Olympic Peninsula. Quietest place on the planet. Boy, we’ve been in some isolated places but this has got to get the Olympic gold ring for witness protection hideaways. Maybe not. Sammy The Bull might not blend in here.

Anyway, yet another fantastically beautiful beach. And another bitch to descend to. It put the replacement hip and all accompanying living material attached to it to the test. What test? Ten years ago this would have been nothing.

But we do have to pause to appreciate it.

Check out that glowing fern, growing way up, with part of a leaf lit up by the sun. A big fern plant thirty feet up growing out of a tree! Weird tree, too.

The flat part of the hike is beautiful.

The ancient, weird trees are quite spectacular.

According to the National Park literature, the hike to the beach is mostly flat. Whoever wrote that must be Trump’s speechwriter. Totally full of shit! The trek through the forest is beautiful and after a bit of a climb, you descend to the beach – steeply. And it kept going down. Damn, this is going to really suck going up. And, here we are.

I didn’t mention the mass of driftwood – not just a few pieces of walking sticks, but logs, big fucking logs that seem thrown together, as you walk out of the forest, to thwart your attempt to reach the beach. There’s no easy way around them. I didn’t take a picture of them but for short people, they were kind of dangerous. At least for us with compromised undercarriages. Maybe that was why a rescue helicopter passed by a couple of times. But it was very cool.

Very cool, strong breeze off the water. Those giant logs provided shelter when we needed to warm up. As usual, I get mesmerized by the action of the waves against the rocks.

And you gotta have one of these sequence collages:

We walked about a half mile to the left to see if we could find the entrance to the path for Third Beach parking – yeah, whoever made up the names of these beaches must have been some kind of math genius, I guess. Got a little different perspective.

I screwed up the planning for this part of the trip. We could have used a week here, and skipped Seaview. I’d have liked to go up to Neah Bay but everything is very far apart and I didn’t give us enough time for everything.

Tomorrow, on to Shadow Mountain RV Park, to the west of Port Angeles. The eastern, mountainous part of the park is over there.

From the quietest place on the planet, later.

Seaside, Oregon – 6/17 – 6/24/18

Thousand Trails park, Seaside, OR, is fine. Finally, a Thousand Trails park that I like. This place is big. Some notes for RVers: The southern section, where you register, is, according to the ‘ranger’, less family oriented, mainly because all the activities – indoor pool, courts, games – are in the northern part. The south only provides 30 amp while the north has mostly 50/30. Both sides appear to provide plenty of open sites for dish connection, and plenty of shaded sites as well. Most sewers are to the rear – pull in deep, and some provide the challenge of gravity, uphill. Most sites appear to be fairly level but you will need a little (leveling). Water tested at 23 ppm, the best we’ve ever tested and the softness stick did not change color. With this being our last stop in Oregon, and having tested water in all but a handful of states, and with the caveat that Washingon state could fare better and steal the prize, I award the first annual Best RV Park Water State (©2018) to Oregon. Congratulations.

No Wal-Mart, Walgreens or Home Depot/Lowes, but it has a Safeway and a Rite-aid, an Ace Hardware, and three pot stores for its approximately sixty-five hundred residents. Oddly, it is home to the Seaside Outlet Mall, with all the names you’ve come to hate, or love, depending on your self control with regard to spending at Carter’s and Oshkosk B’Gosh. The mall is less than a mile up the road, at the corner of 101 and 12th Ave, where you turn for the park. I think that we’ve picked up every agate on the northern Oregon coast, so Andrea went up there today, a gloomy one, and our last here.

Something we’ve noticed in Oregon – seems like an anti-Starbucks thing. Every town appears to have at least one, independent, drive-up coffee booth in the mode of Dutch Bros. Starbucks are not everywhere. They also have taco stands like that and last night Andrea picked up made-as-you-wait fish and chips in such a drive-up called The Grizzly Tuna. The menu is Small or Large. That’s it. Best tuna fish and chips she ever had. I had a bite and concur. I had this for dinner:

A product of Michigan, one that the craftsman of the state should be proud of. I believe this one enters the ring at 11%! Top that! By the way, after breaking my last Chimay beer goblet in Bodega Bay, I started a new collection of glasses. The first is a black mug with, no, not the Dark Side of The Moon cover, Crater Lake stuff on it. I prefer not to advertise company logos, other than Pink Floyd, and that’s more touting an artist, but sports teams and National Parks are ok also. I have one remaining white NY Mets tee and the back of it lists over a dozen sponsors of Mets Tee Shirt Day, 1999, or whenever I got it. When they are free, exceptions can be made about the advertising. Anyway, the next two were purchased in Florence, the olde town section. I picked up a sturdy, clear glass mug with an eagle etched into both sides, for $6 at a vendor booth by the bay. Then we went into a bar that advertised the biggest selection of beer on the coast. Ok, they have 15 tap selections, clearly described on two giant TV’s on either side of the bar, and a bunch more in bottles. However, out of 15, they only had one Stout, no porter either. The rest were either IPAs, or some variation of, Pale Ales, similarly bitter panther piss, or lager. What’s with this infatuation with hoppy beer? Anyway, I told Andrea I liked the glass I was using, same as in the picture, above, and she immediately tried to slip one into her bag. She probably could have, but those days are past. I had about a half dozen Tabard Ale House mugs in the day. I bought the one above for $4. The glass is a bit thin so I don’t have great hope for a long life with it but I like the feel in my hand. It does advertise New Belgian brewing, but it is subtle. I will fill that glass with the darkest, maltiest, most potent beverages I can in its lifetime. Maybe I’ll name it Tiny Tim. But, I digress.

Now, Seaside is officially just north of the range in which agates are generally found. But, we went back to Short Sand Beach which, I believe, is in Oswald West State Park. And no, I don’t know if Ozzie had the last name of the guy playing the original Batman or there’s an East Park. This beach has a couple of stream runoff points, locations that seem to have a higher concentration of agates among the stones. You know, like 1 in 100,000, rather than 1 in 500,000 on the beachfront.

The hike from the upper parking lot on the west side of the road is about a half mile but it may be the most beautiful hike we’ve been on this entire trip, albeit, most have been short and steep to beaches.

This stream was one that widened when it reached the beach.

My favorite part, as usual,

Is watching the surf crash against rocks

And just watching them roll in with the occasional rays of sunshine turning them green as they rise.

Surfers were working the waves:

Surfer dude rode that wave from the point it broke, way out there.

The agate haul
was so small
it left a pall
over all.
© The Pulitzer In Poetry 2018
Two days later we went to another beach on another gloomy day.

The beach was nice enough.

But it was cold.

I couldn’t just sit on a log so I put my eyes to the ground and started looking. Our family was trained by the Exhaulted Master of Beachcombing, our father, so looking for tiny things in the sand is like riding a bike. Truth is, my eyes seem to be on full scan anytime they are not on this damn phone. As in the words of Diane Warren, one of the most influential songwriters of the day, and Stephen Tyler, “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”. Within a few minutes, this thing appeared in front of me:

It’s just a piece of quartz but that purple section on top is most likely amethyst. At least, that’s what we’re going with no matter what you say. Andrea celebrated our most prized rock.

That was Wednesday (6/20) on Cape Arch beach.

On Friday, we went up to the tip of Oregon on the coast, to Fort Stevens State Park. Google maps indicated a Wildlife Viewing Area. I read somewhere that Bald Eagles are known to hang out on the wood pilings alongside the jetty nearby. Once in parking lot D (enD of the road), we walked straight out to the beach, intending to walk around the cape to the wildlife viewing “stand”. Oh, boy, some like minded people.

The tide was almost all the way low so it was a long walk out to the water. Having forgotten my cane – I do that when I first get up, feel good, start walking and two minutes later, uh-oh, where’s my cane? – Andrea found a nice piece of driftwood that was strong and worked perfectly. We had the beach almost to ourselves.

The land across the way is Washington.

We strolled around to the right as the mouth of the Columbia River turns inland. I split my eye scans between the ground, which had no rocks of interest, and the skies. I had brought the good, Nikon binoculars and stopped occasionally to look over at the jetty.

There he was. Right in the middle of the jetty, the unmistakable white head moving! I saw my first Bald Eagle. He was still there for Andrea to see but by the time I took that picture, he was either gone or the camera just can’t pick up that detail.

We finally got to the impressive concrete bunker they call a Wildlife Viewing Stand. I suppose ammophila fans favor the view but the rest of us don’t have a prayer of seeing anything but beachgrass.

Having now seen a Bald Eagle, we drove a couple of miles down the road to the beach where you can see the remains of an old shipwreck at low tide.

Captain H. Lawrence of the four masted steel ship, the Peter Iredale, ran into a strong squall as he attempted to turn into the Columbia River in October, 1906. The winds ran the ship aground and recovery efforts were not successful. So they left it.

The beach looked like nice enough to the left. And then we noticed the cars:

Hey, let’s go there.

We found the little road that gets you beach access and then stopped just as the pavement runs into sand. Wish I had a picture of that – tire tracks a couple of feet deep. Oh well. Put it in super low four wheel drive and go, don’t stop.

That was fun, swerving back and forth. The low tide provided plenty of hard sand to drive on. Here’s my artsy picture of the shipwreck through the window, and a stout on the console.

There were more shells on the beach than rocks.

Here we have examples of shells: 1-colored fan; 2-volcano; and 3-mountain. I’m told those are not technical terms but perhaps they should be. ©©© Ok, now they are.

Luna loves the beach and went nuts running around – so much so that she slept until 11:30 today, went out for her morning walk and has slept since (now 3:15pm).

And that’s it for Oregon. One of these years we’ll have to go inland a bit more. I think we’ll be driving along the Columbia River east on the Oregon side when we start heading back to Colorado in late July. The blue and purple pinheads in that middle, brown section (where I purposefully kept the OR and WA maps separated because the scale on the Washington map is larger), is where I intend us to stay on the Columbia River, at Cascade Locks and The Dalles. The other pinheads are booked stopping points, in no particular order.

Tomorrow’s ride, to Forks, WA, is going to be a long one for us, 218 miles. Hope we don’t miss any Bald Eagles.

Andrea came back from the outlet mall with the obligatory grandchildren clothing, and gifts for me! Happy Birthday to me, a month early:

A new Chimay glass! Is that not a work of art? The Founders Brewing Porter is another Michigan product. Kudos to the state that brought you Flint water. Now, Young’s Double Chocolate is from Bedford, England, the city that gave us the name of the principal of Winthrop Avenue Grammar School, when we were all there, as well as the main street in Bellmore. Is my memory of this shit not world class? And why the fuck does my error correction keep changing ‘of’ to ‘if’? It just did it again! Maybe they should spread the keyboard apart between the I and O.

Finally, Andrea got Wrennie a present, but she thinks it’s so cool she’s going to wear it until we get back to Colorado. Oh fuck!