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 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!

The Port Of Garibaldi, Oregon

So you thought Neskowin was nowhere! It is. This place is actually kind of cool. It’s all about crabbing.

And other fishing.

And the fucking loud saw mill.

But when you’re sittin’ on the dock of the bay,

it’s pretty. That’s Tillamook Bay.

We had a hole in our reservations that we couldn’t get resolved with our freebie clubs, mostly because we had little or no connectivity for weeks, so we found Port of Garibaldi RV Park, on the far northern point of the bay. The nice lady making the reservation even warned us about the noise from the saw mill. That’s the main reason I didn’t book at Old Saw Mill RV Park, a block away, though I mistakenly pulled up to their office at first. That one and The Harborview Inn and RV Park, across the street, which was booked, were both further away from the damn saw mill. In truth, you get used to it – and you don’t hang around during working hours. It’s not as loud as our “home” park off I-25 in Monument.

I’d give it a 7.5. Easy, full hookups (back-in only), excellent water, as has been the case in every park in Oregon, no trees to interfere with satellite reception, and walking distance to everything – it is a tiny town. On the negative side, the mill noise, attractiveness (lack of), and no security, though I didn’t see any “characters” anywhere around the marina area. The Harborview park looked nicer but don’t avoid this stop if the “Port of” RV park is your only option.

We started to like the little community. We only tried one offering of clam chowder, and it couldn’t hold a candle to that shack in the Port of Siuslaw (Sy-(emphasis on)yoos-law), in the old towne (why must they add an “e”? – translation:tourist trap) of Florence. Yeah, park in the public parking lot at the northeast corner of the old town and go out on that first dock. The little shack there makes the best clam chowder in Oregon. Can’t say that we tried that many but have tried a few more since.

Anyway, maybe when a restaurant decorates itself like this,

you might reconsider going in. Their chowder was blah. By the way, that award they got was for the best fish and chips in Garibaldi.

Besides the marina, saw mill, three RV parks, and a general store, they have an annoying tourist choo-choo train, replete with an open flatbed car for those with ice in their veins, that runs up the coast for a few towns. I didn’t try to get up close for you train lovers, sorry.

If the noise of the mill doesn’t drive you to drink, the toot-toot of the tourist train will.

As stated previously, we sort of filled in these three days, but it gave us the chance to scour more of the coast for the elusive agate of the year.

Not here.

Nor here.

But at Garibaldi Portside Bistro, I discovered this beer:

Three days in a place doesn’t really give you time to get much of a feel for it. And shame on us, we didn’t eat any crabs. So that was Garibaldi.

One last scenic shot near Rockaway Beach:


Here’s our status so far. Including San Diego, all the way at the bottom, 18 stops and over 2,000 miles (no pin in Garibaldi yet). The Washington and Oregon maps are deliberately separated as they are printed in different scales.


Next stop, just up the road in Seaside, OR, for a week.

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet – the signs! Everywhere! You’re either Entering Tsunami Hazard Zone or Leaving Tsunami Hazard Zone! You then might find yourself in a Tsunami Safe Zone or on a Tsunami Evacuation Route. I’ll tell you this, they sell a lot of Xanax on the coast. Those signs get ingrained in your nervous synapses. Bring it on. We all know the big one is coming. So have a big one!

And don’t worry about it. (Damn, I love Imperial Stouts. It’s like having dinner and desert at somewhere between 9 and 11%, you get my drift?)

Editor’s note: Apologies to all of you who are going to die when the big one hits.

Neskowin, Oregon. 6/7 – 6/14/18

You ever heard of this place? You have to slow down to 50mph on US 101, mainly to make the turn where the state beach, a hotel, and a few blocks of homes plus a tiny community up on the adjacent mountain/hill total a population of 134. Jeez, how many towns are there in lower Manhattan of homeless people of 134? This little, nauseatingly quaint, summer community gets a listing on a map? Is that how the world works outside of NY? In the sixties I grew up on Long Island in a suburb of New York City, a section of one gigantic, seemingly never-ending expanse of a megatown. Bellmore had its own post office and was listed in the 1960 census as having something like 40,000 residents. But, North Bellmore was bigger and often was printed on Gulf, Mobil, and Sunoco state road maps (remember them?) when little Bellmore was ignored.

In Oregon, 134 gets you on the map. If ever there was a case for the “God doesn’t care” argument, this is it! About fairness, that is. Or, perhaps this is proof of Einstein’s theory of relativity: “Neskowin is to Oregon as Bellmore is to NY. There, I just aced my SAT.” I mean, this is Oregon. Can’t get much further from NY. Am I digging myself into a hole? The truth is, the tiny beachfront collection of homes was charming. Any wise-ass criticism out of my mouth is driven by jealousy. If Oregon was a little warmer – I guess patience is needed (you know, global warming), perhaps real estate investment in the northern climes would be wise – I’d love to be a resident here.

We are about 115 miles north of Florence and more identifiably, about eleven miles north of Lincoln City (a lot smaller than Bellmore, or Breezy Point), but it does have a Safeway and a Walgreens. You need a larger reference city? Portland is 100 miles to the east-northeast.

Upon checking in to Neskowin Creek RV Resort (they have an indoor, heated pool so, ok, resort), a Coast To Coast freebie, I stopped at the tourist pamphlet rack. Among a few of interest, I had to grab this one:

I suppose Colorado has a similar one. I haven’t looked in Colorado racks in a long time. In Oregon, it seems like every little town with more than 134 residents has a pot store.

We arrived on Thursday, the 7th, and after a week in the woods, the wide open field WITH a sewer connection was welcome. The sign at the entrance, “Rabbits Can Eat Your Car Wiring”, was weird. We heard later that someone tried to sue them for that. Rabbits were everywhere in every color, shape, and size. Black, white, black and white, grey, brown, orange – big, small, even medium! With so many rabbits – had to be several dozen – or was it several dozen million? – the rabbit shit covered 197% of the park. Something like that. Anyway, Luna just wanted to chase them, when she wasn’t outnumbered, which she was most of the time, and eat their shit.

The RV park was a few huge hills (for you Long Islanders, they were mountains) and a mile from the ocean. So, we relaxed after the twisting, winding, up and down drive up 101. Sounds familiar, right? Been like that since Bodega Bay. No wonder we sleep ten hours some nights. I tried to sit out under the stars that night but clouds moved in as I settled in the lounger. Just as I came inside, the rain started.

It didn’t stop until Saturday morning. We drove south to Siletz Bay where we had heard from other RVers, online, that they actually found agates there. Andrea did the hunting. Luna and I cuddled up behind a log to hide from the brutal wind. My black t-shirt could not absorb enough sun to keep me warm. Across the inlet, the seals didn’t seem to mind, sunning themselves in the sand.

The agate haul was underwhelming, as usual.

On Sunday we decided to take a break from beaches and visit Tillamook. First stop, though, was a small “farm stand” whose ads offered asparagus soup. Alas, no soup. Typical roadside tourist trap disguised as a homey farm stand.

Next was the blatant tourist trap, the Tillamook Air Museum, in an old blimp hangar:

But, as we got to the parking lot, to the left,

I could see in the hangar – and see nothing. Then I read the pamphlet I had picked up when I secured the Oregon Cannabis Guide and Map. Though the museum billed itself as featuring World War II aircraft, the pamphlet listed just three WWII planes that weren’t trainers or transports of the eighteen on display. Even with the senior discount, I wasn’t springing for the $8.50.

So off we went to the Tillamook Cheese Visitor Center, a makeshift barn. Their new, impressive looking visitor center opens on the the 18th. The place was packed. We got six samples of cheese and bought an ice cream cone – rasberry vanilla with white chocolate chunks. Deelish! And then went to see if the Cape Mears Lighthouse was anything.

It’s an old, retired lighthouse:

You can get up close and take a tour, when the ranger is home.

The deck around it had some nice views.

That was to the south. Note the little beach to the farthest left. I’ll get to that.

To the north side is a cliff wall that looks like it has a lot of bird shit on it.

And it does, but the cliff is also home to the source of all that shit, a million murres, also known as white breasted Auks, some of which are Puffins. The resolution at that distance won’t let you zoom in well enough to get a good look at one. Here’s a little known fact: when the baby murres are ready to leave their nests on the cliff, they have two options, dive or fly. Which option do you think they choose? Right. “Now some they do and some they don’t. And some you just can’t tell. And some they will and some they won’t. With some it’s just as well.” Supertramp was one of those groups I mostly missed when I turned off the radio with the rise of disco. It took the BMG CD club, when I was replacing my vinyl in the ’90’s, to get me to really appreciate them. But, I digress.

Those birdies were a little more visible on these two rocks.

Beautiful place. A few days later we went back to that little beach to meet the in-laws, coincidentally in Portland helping their daughter move from Brooklyn!

My interest was in the surf patterns against the rock walls on the left side of the beach. When enough water gathered up against the wall, it would form a wave going out to sea. When a decent size wave coming in hit one of the outgoing, it was a show:

The explosions spread left to right.

When the sun peeked out the water was very green:

Neskowin Creek RV Resort. Again, excellent water, pure as filtered water and soft. After the one day of intense rain, it was nice enough. Most sites are out in the open – the outside rows back up to trees. The rabbits are everywhere, as are their droppings. Where are the Bald Eagles when you need them? I still haven’t seen one. No big birds in a week. Anyway, let’s give the resort an 8.

We had a hole in our reservations and managed to find a weekend site in Garibaldi. Next…

Florence, Oregon – 5/31 – 6/7/18

First, a little RV talk. This is a public site and has a few followers beyond the 92 on the mailing list. Some may be interested in RV talk, some – travel tips, and others, like most of us, in search of the holy grail – behold I say to you, Metahedonism (© 1974)!

We arrived at the South Jetty RV Resort (resort? Come on) on May 31, Andrea’s birthday. South Jetty is also a national recreation area that encompasses the RV park and the surrounding few square miles. The park is privately owned by Thousand Trails and there are other homes and commercial establishments within the national park boundaries. I don’t know how that works. Maybe they lease the land, like Breezy Point, for you familiar with our old, family summer bungalow. I still can’t recall how we all slept in that tiny house.

Anyway, we’re not impressed with Thousand Trails parks so far. We’ve stayed in four. The first was 15 miles east of Santa Barbara over a mountain pass. It’s one of several of their parks that uses the find-your-own-campsite method. We got stuck in a fairly remote spot that turned out to be ok – a thousand points for all the hummingbirds. If that’s a feature, then including the pain-in-the-ass-drive to get there earns two-thousand points off, I’ll give the park a 6.66. The extra 6 is for you weirdos who believe in that bird-turd. (I know, I should have said shit, but I’ve got bats in the attic – and memories of turkey poop from that place.) The water, as in most California parks, was not drinkable and very hard. It tested over 500ppm, ‘well water, check with local authorities’, and ‘firm afro’ on the hardness scale.

The second one was in Santa Cruz, where I got into a shouting match with a manager about my slideout hanging over the edge of their white line which indicates site boundaries. Now, if you know me, I have a rather high boiling point, and I tend to cover the pot then, but explode it will, if so pushed (normal Irish reaction). When I asked her, at a rather increased volume, to walk around the park with me and count all the RV’s whose slides hung out over the white lines, her tone became more reasonable and peace was negotiated. You shouldn’t have to do that. Two-billion points off. First RV park to do that in the new, Worst of RV Parks Hall of Fame ©. (I got to use that little copyright symbol again. Cool.) I just invented it – the Worst Hall of Fame, All Rights Reserved, says me. Shouldn’t that be enough? Do we need lawyers? Just post on the internet that you have a good idea, personally notarize it – using one of these do-hickeys (©, wonder if anybody owns rights to that word), and now Apple or Google can’t steal your idea without a deal! I think I should notarize that idea, as well as the self-notarize thing. Yeah! And I’m gonna sue your ass if you copy any of this. ©©©! But I digress. Santa Cruz was close to the boardwalk, a dingy looking, run-down version of Atlantic City – no thanks, and a very nice, small state redwoods forest – points for that. But bottom line, Thousand Trails should not allow any rig with slideouts on both sides – they just won’t fit – into this place. And since they do, they need a manager who isn’t as hot-headed as me. Overall, they get a 1.11 rating (6.66÷6). Water was bad there as well, apparently creating the witch-bitch syndrome when consumed.

Third TT park was Pacifica, the one in a parking lot on a cliff south of San Francisco. Sites were extremely narrow there but at least we fit, though you could open your window and grab the neighbor’s dinner. This one was all about location. I originally thought it should be rated in the 9’s, but I’m still cleaning rust off the bikes and vehicles from the daily, salty mist there. Location (nine miles from downtown SF), location (view of the ocean out the front window), and location (the pool and hot tub was right behind us so we could hear every gossip word), with a little rust caveat and tiny tight-site deduction – wait, another ding for charging $20 a night when most TT parks are free. Give ’em an 8.66. Again, water testing around 500 ppm and not only does your hair stand out stiff as a bundle of knitting needles, it turns white from all the salt. At least it adds some flavor onto whatever food it falls.

Now, South Jetty. All the sites that are large enough to fit us – not many to start with – AND have sewer, are taken. Another first-come-first-served system. We found one of the few 50 amp and water sites that was long enough and had a south-view hole in the trees big enough to get Direct TV through. That said, we only saw an hour of sunlight a day, if it was out in the morning. So buried in the trees were we that cell service was non-existent. The staff was so-so – some rude, some ambivalent, nobody really nice and helpful. Location? Very close to the National Recreation Area of the same name. That’s good. The bad, same closeness – it attracts dune buggies and other annoyingly loud vehicles all weekend long until dusk – past nine o’clock in early June. The water, however, is the same quality we had at Crater Lake and the Overnighter Park, excellent – tests as borderline filtered-bottled water and soft enough to run a fine tooth comb through pubic hair. Oregon has great water. No wonder their beer is so good.

Now that’s a beer. Coors is panther piss compared to this.

The good news about Florence and South Jetty is that we’re on the coast again. Crater Lake should be on the list of Greatest Natural Wonders of the World but it is, in the end, just a big hole in the ground filled with water. The ocean is seemingly forever.

Our first full day here, we drove up along US 101, The Oregon Coast Highway (US 1 terminated in Leggett, CA), to the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center where we picked up literature about the area. The nearby tide pools caught our interest though the tide was nearly high and that made Thor’s Well and The Sprouting Horn ‘the’ attractions today.

The tide pools were constantly being slammed by incoming breakers. This particular spilt in the rocks is named Devil’s Churn and made for some great water explosions when large breakers poured into the confined space.

Wham! I love that.

Does anyone see a face in that log? I see King Kong with a pompador tilting his head to his right, possibly cradling an old black, wired phone on his shoulder. I hadn’t seen that before. Just thought it was a nice tree stump with waves crashing behind it.

But the real action was out at Thor’s Well. At the end of the rocks that you could wander out to, at high tide, there’s a hole about fifteen feet in diameter. When the waves retreat, the hole empties.

The calm before the big one.

I couldn’t get too close with my legs being rather unsteady. Then the waves came in, filling it up.

Sometimes with a lot of flair:

Before you take your chances out on the rocks, big signs warn against rogue waves, extraordinarily large ones among a set of waves – “Never Turn Your Back On The Sea!”

Here’s a Darwin Awards candidate having just been soaked by one such large wave and whose cell phone was a victim to her quest for the coolest picture. The little wave-ninjanette, circled for you who are lacking the imagigene, is warning her to get the fuck off her rock. (She was pummeled again and lost her phone. The rest of the crowd got the picture. The ninjanette is our little secret.)

Turning our attention to the left, to the southern side of a creek depositing mountain runoff into the ocean, we find the ‘Sprouting Horn’. This is another vertical hole in a rock, but up a bit higher and much more narrow. It sits above a cavern that is fairly empty at low tide but fills up with water at high tide. During the ebb and flow of waves coming in at high tide, there are times when the force of the waves is so swift and powerful that the air is compressed and whooshes out the top like a steam engine. You could look at this thing all day.


All day.

And as the tide went out, it was just the waves crashing, as we waited for a small whoosh:

Very cool place. Highly recommended.

We move south on 101, back towards Florence. At an overlook, I noticed movement on the rock below. Seals.

Then Andrea thought she heard dogs barking. Off to the right was a mom seal and her pups, along with a few others tucked into an alcove. Look closely just above the log:

Nice view looking south:

Next stop, Bob’s Creek, where Andrea was in search of the holy Agate:

Off to the the left is a long rock upon which a billion seagulls were sunning themselves. Andrea moved towards them and was lucky they didn’t poop on her:

Ok, I got my bird picture of the day and then went back in the car with Luna, who says “Hi!”

Further down the road, another great overlook:

Another beach:

And finally, yet another agate beach. Luna and I sat on a log. I tried catching a shot of an interesting bird. It is perched on a pole in the distance. Damned if I can find it now.

Sometimes you have to entertain yourself. This stick looked like a head of something.

Maybe a serpent!

That was just day one.

Luna posed for the cover of Shi-Tzu Monthly before we left:

The rest of the week, we did more of the same. Then one day it all ended.

As we looked out at the ferocious waves, a distant sight caught our eyes.

At first we thought it was just clouds.

Andrea pointed but Luna knew and went leaping in the air:

Then we both knew!

On queue, the tide was sucked out:

The tsunami hit a few seconds later and we were killed. The after-life was dreamy:

It was all misty and peaceful.

And then Charlton Heston strolled out of the mist with the head of a gorilla in his hand:

Wait – the staff just informed me that all is well. What a relief! That’s Andrea walking back from seeing the real dead animal on the beach, a whale. She had a washed up wreath in her hand. Nice wreath. She ended up leaving it on the “Do Not Disturb The Dead Whale” sign.

On the way back, having recovered from a tsunami and the after-life, we stopped at the overlook with the lighthouse in view. The wild surf and more distinguished sky improved that shot. Check out the undulations as far as you can see.

This last one looks south toward Florence and the endless beaches.

On Thursday, the 7th, we headed up the coast to Neskowin.

Diamond and Crater Lakes, Oregon

We have fairly high expectations for the National Park. We don’t know much about Diamond Lake except that it isn’t shaped like any gem I can afford. It is sort of oval, almost rectangular. Look it up on Google maps.

Diamond Lake RV Park is a private campground in the midst of the enormous Umpqua National Forest. They operate under a special permit from the shrinking National Forest Service. The campground sits a couple of hundred yards from Diamond Lake, and it is the closest RV park to Crater Lake that can handle an RV the size of Odyssey, and it has full hookups.

Driving from the Klamath River to Diamond Lake is about 212 miles, just outside our window of 200 miles that we set as an arbitrary maximum miles to drive in a day. If the route was all interstate I would have done it in a day. In fact, our original plans had us staying four nights on the Klamath but after so many recent segments on twisting, winding roads, which wear you out physically and mentally, and which take twice as long, I called a week before to cancel the fourth night. Finding Grants Pass in Oregon to be right in the center of the route, I located the most perfect sounding RV Park to stay at the 105 mile point, the Rogue Valley Overnighter RV Park.

This Memorial Day weekend the town hosted some boaters’ extravaganza. Coming into town we stopped at a regular gas station next to the fairgrounds, where the out of town boaty people gathered. We found an outside pump with easy exit and, had Marty, the attendant, put in two rounds of $75 worth, their maximum. Oregon still has guys out there in uniforms pumping gas? What is this, New Jersey? For all I know Marty was just dressed the part and was reading off my credit card information to partner, Spin, and I’m about to be bilked. Such are our thoughts these days. Well, maybe mine. Too many stories in the news about that stuff.

Anyway, I was told it is a $500 fine to pump your own gas. That’s a lot of jobs they don’t have in 48 other states. These guys are busy, but I have to keep reminding myself it’s a holiday weekend – totally meaningless to retirees, unless you don’t have reservations. And, even with gas stations paying these pump attendants, gas is much cheaper than in California. What is California doing with all that gas tax money?

The Overnighter park was 107 miles from Diamond Lake. Most of the drive was on smaller state roads after a small section on I-5. We expected a twisty, windy (long i) drive but a long section of it followed the Rogue River into Oregon where it was quite beautiful. Welcome to Oregon, as pretty as expected.

Anyway, arriving on Memorial Day, May 28, in Diamond Lake, when most campers have already headed home, we pretty much have the park to ourselves. The plan is to see Crater Lake on Tuesday. Before we left civilization, we got very good weather reports for the three days here. As mentioned in the previous posts from Ft Bragg to now, we have had intermittent connectivity and absolutely nothing in this RV park. Nice campground though.

After settling in, we took Luna down to the lake. Oddly, right across the road from the campground and right on the lake is a pizza parlor. Nothing else there. It is the only commercial establishment around the lake except for a run down old “resort” at the top of the lake, also run with special permission from the National Forest Service. We passed on the pizza and walked down to the lake.

That’s Mt Bailey.

Notice the scooped out section on the left, with all the snow on it? Remind you of Mt St Helens? Yes, it’s what’s left after the volcano blew it’s top. Though dormant for thousands of years, it is still considered active.

In the evening, I tried to get a few shots of the sunset through the trees. While reviewing the photos, I was about to delete a couple that appeared, at first, to have some odd, yellow glare off to the left.

I was going to proceed with a story about receiving messages from either a fourth dimensional civilization or the aliens, once again, contacting me. There were actually five pictures with a yellow glare. I can make a case for subliminal images in each, but I’ll save those for the book. Check out the first one. Zoom in on your own. Make your own conclusions. I know what I see.

Check him out:

I hope these zoomed in blowups are clear enough on the website. Incredible, right?

Further evidence is available upon written request. (Remember, the NSA is monitoring contact with ET.)

When the sun finally dropped in the west, you knew it was going to be a great setting for stargazing, but a full moon rising put an end to thoughts of hanging out in a lounge chair, looking up. Kind of a spooky sky, especially after that mind-blowing sunset.

Say, do you remember Jack Horkheimer, the Star Hustler? He had a five minute TV show, years ago. I recall watching it in the late 70’s, when cable TV was growing up. I started watching Star Trek reruns – I rarely watched it when it aired originally – from a PBS station in Allentown, PA. At about 5:30 every afternoon they would switch to a Miami, Florida station and the segment, ‘Jack Horkheimer: Star Hustler’. He was a very animated, extremely enthusiastic, astronomy dude, a bit of a nut-job – and I mean that in a very positive way – who would provide illustrated information about the current week’s celestial events. He ended each show with old science fiction music, and reminded us to “Keep looking up!”
I urge you, on any clear night, to do the same.

Did I digress. On to Crater Lake. How did this pristine, deep blue lake come to be? A zillion years ago, Mt Mazama blew up and subsequently, after a gajillion more years, filled up with rainwater. That’s it. Actual times may vary. No rivers flow into the crater, it’s all rainwater. Very little flows out either.

You might wonder then, why doesn’t it overflow from rain? Or, you might not. Evaporation! Rain and evaporation balance each other out. Scientists have determined that in the last few thousand years (maybe it was a few hundred years, I threw out that pamphlet), the level of the lake has only varied about sixteen feet. Sounds like a lot? Maybe to you Lake Powell boaters, but we’re talking about the deepest lake in the world, at 1,943 feet!

You wanted to see pictures of the lake? Well, it was pretty hard coming up with a “best of” when most of them were stunning. We came in from the north entrance which hadn’t officially opened yet, even after Memorial Day. The only around-the-lake-scenic-drive option was to the west and only from about 10 o’clock to 7, if you look at the lake like a clock. The east side was still snow packed. The crater is on an 8,000′ mountain and to view from the top you are pretty damn high. Check out the plowing done at this point, one of the highest:

But you didn’t come all the way out here in the middle of nowhere to look at snow. Let’s get on with a tour of the around-the-lake-drive-but-just-a-small-part-of-it. First stop was breathtaking. You had to walk up a bit of a hill to get to the really good viewpoint.

Let’s get a little closer to the edge.


It was also another Forest Gump moment. Look at the clouds in the photo above and the distant wall of the crater and the mirror reflection on the water.

Forest was telling his dying Jenny about his running days, “There was always a million sparkles on the water… like that mountain lake. It was so clear, Jenny, it looked like there were two skies one on top of the other. And then in the desert, when the sun comes up, I couldn’t tell where heaven stopped and the earth began. It’s so beautiful.” I get a little choked up at that point every time – I really love how nature puts it all in perspective, and when I look at scenes like this, I get the same feeling:

Like looking at an ink blotch on a folded piece of paper.


We stopped at nearly every opportunity for a different perspective.

That’s Wizard’s Island:

We were drawn to the very green pools of water, which are just shallows. Wizard’s Island is itself a volcano. Yep, a volcano within a volcano. Looks like an arrowhead from this angle.

Or maybe a bird of prey:

We were very lucky to have such a beautiful day. I know, this one’s very similar to an earlier shot, but hey, you can’t love something too much.

I don’t think we have been so impressed with a National Park since our last Grand Canyon trip and we are pretty jaded. Put this one on your bucket list. The closest city of any size looks like it is Eugene but long distance travellers would most likely have to fly into Portland. Oh, just make a week out of it. Start in SF, take the Pacific Coast Highway up to Crescent City in a couple of days, being sure to stop at Tiffany’s Treasure Trove in Eureka – oops, I was just reminded, that the Tiffany thing (from a now-deleted Gus Grissom Mercury capsule story that could, in no way, get by the editor-in-chief – but gloves off in the book) was just a figment of my imagination (you ever use figment in a sentence where it wasn’t followed by “of my imagination”? I can imagine Stymie, of the Little Rascals (you pc-indoctrinated young’uns missed that series) saying, “I ate a fig mint for my breath”, right?). But, I digress. Then turn northeast to Crater Lake. They have a lodge. It is mainly a summer destination so plan accordingly.

One excellent adventure! That night, another clear one where the lack of cloud cover let any heat, at our 5,360′ altitude, escape up into the stars. It was 30° in the morning. Where are we, Monument? Those poor tent campers.

The next day, the sun warmed things up considerably, so we decided to try the bike path around the lake. I think I read somewhere that the Army Corp of Engineers trained in this area and originally built the trail. It has since been paved, about 95% of it, the rest gravel. I also thought I had read that the trail was about six miles around. No big deal on a bike, for us, as long as it’s flat.

Starting out at about the 4 o’clock point, if you think of north as 12, we headed south on the trail to the bottom of the lake. It meandered in and out from the shoreline. One of the feeder streams:

As we swung around to the west side, we crossed the road around the lake and went deeper into the forest. And then up. So much for it being flat. My old mountain bike has twenty-one gears and I got to about 14 going up some of those hills. Since I put high-rise handlebars on it, I’ve lost the ability to change the front three gears – the bolt securing the left shifter/(front)brake broke when I tried taking it off the old handlebars. The mechanism now sits loosely, and uselessly, on the new handlebars, so no front brakes either. The right shifter/rear brake is halfway down the tall handlebars, making it a reach to shift and brake. I bought a new, left gear/brake contraption and longer cables so that both shifters/brakes are near my hands, but I haven’t gotten to that project yet. I wish I had on this ride. On the downhill, I started going too fast on the bumpy, curving trail to take my right hand off the handle grip to reach down for the brake. Mr. Toad’s wild ride! Andrea, on her three-speed cruiser with a pedal-activated rear brake, maintained a reasonable speed and wondered who I was racing. Truthfully, I scared the shit out of myself, though it was a good thrill. Gotta get those brakes moved up where my fingertips can reach them. You ever wonder how you got this far, relatively untouched (you are excused from that thought, brother), with all those reckless moments in the rear view mirror?

But, I digress. As we came back down to lake level, we crossed the road again and the trail took us alongside the lake. From the western side of the lake, Mt Thielson became visible. This mountain is very Matterhornish:

And wanted it’s picture taken.


We cycled around to the top, north end, of the lake where we ran into the first hill I haven’t been able to climb completely since that sixty mile ride in NYC when the route took us up the Palisades. Remember that, John? That whoosh through the Lincoln Tunnel? The start at the Twin Towers? The upper deck on the ferry ride back from Staten Island on the five-borough tour with those 24oz beers? Good times.

Anyway, this old body is way out of shape and a couple of steep hills on the north end put us both on our feet, just before the tops. Disappointing. Oh well. Keep at it, old guy. More mountains from this viewpoint.

We believe, according to an informational board with neat graphics, that the little white mountain top in the far distant right part of the photo is Crater Lake, the late Mount Mazama.

The Diamond Lake Resort and Marina resides on the northwest corner of the lake. It looks like it was built in the fifties and has not been maintained very well. People were staying there but from the looks of it, mostly boaters. We had stopped there the evening before, after the Crater Lake show, so no need to stop this time. And, the steep hills had us wanting the ride to be over.

Just south of the resort, now on the east side again, we passed the National Recreation Area’s public boat ramp and noticed a “Sheriff” pickup truck next to a truck-camper (one of those little RV looking things sitting on the back of a pickup) and two uniformed officers of the law sitting in camping chairs, drinking what looked like beer. It was probably, though sometimes first instincts are correct, soda – or pop, as much of the country is prone to call it. We didn’t think much of it as we continued on the trail by the lake and headed south toward our campground. No more than a hundred yards beyond the boat ramp, we both hear a pop and then a loud hiss that continued as I slowed down, realizing my back tire blew. Shit!

Though we had no internet, the GPS in Google maps still worked on a small scale and indicated we had a bit over a mile to go. It was already five o’clock, Luna’s dinner time – we left her back in the RV, and I was beat, so Andrea rode her bike back the last mile to get the Jeep to pick me up. It still had the bike rack on it. She would meet me back at the boat ramp.

I walked back to the ramp and looked for a bench to sit down but found a large rock that would do. I was just about fifty feet from the sheriffs and was looking directly at them and the camper, and, the body lying on the ground between them! At first I thought they might be watching over someone sleeping off a big drunk until the wind blew the now-visible tarp off the dead guy and they put it back on him, covering his face. Oh my.

I haven’t seen many dead people outside of funeral homes and I really didn’t want to appear, nor was I, too curious about this one. I got a friggin’ flat! I walked the bike up to the entrance to the parking lot where I could sit on a slightly softer log. And watch this guy fly around:

(You can tell it’s a turkey vulture by the v-shaped wings when he glides. Most other big bird wings are straight out.) Wonder if he was looking for a meal.

Andrea arrived about forty minutes later, just after the suit-and-tied coroner had made it official and they were all loading the zipped up body bag onto the back of the sheriffs’ pickup. I wonder if that guy was in a better place. At least he didn’t end up as big bird’s dinner.
We watched Andy and Barney drive ole’ Willard away to the morgue.

Andrea found out the next morning that the trail around the lake is eleven miles. Oh, that’s why our butts are so sore. We packed up and headed for the coast.

(Apologies for being a couple of weeks behind.)

How ’bout a beer?

Klamath River, Northern CA

Nice. We’re in Texas, where we’re having a great, albeit strenuous, time with grandchildren. But we missed this year’s Enjoying your new stories. I’m not quite understanding the itinerary. I saw Beeeeeaaauutifuul pics from Crater Lake. Did you love it so much you’re going back?In any car, Enjoy!

Carol Chock

"This may be only a dream of mine, but I think it can be made real." ~ Ella Baker

On Thu, Jun 7, 2018, 7:40 PM Brian <bjcarlin71> wrote:

Easy drive up 101 on Thursday, May 24. We had to make a stop about forty minutes into the drive – The Loleta Cheese Factory, in, no surprise, Loleta. We both love cheese. I had checked Google maps ahead of time to see if the Odyssey and attached Jeep would have a place to park – and then be able to get out. The satellite view showed a large area right across the street in this tiny town, and big enough side streets to get back to the highway. I love Google maps. Our Odyssey is actually in the Google satellite view of our "home" park, Colorado Heights Camping Resort, in Monument, CO.

Back to Loleta. It looked like the cheese operation and a school were the only things going on in town. A long ago abandoned factory building across the street from the cheese place was a real eyesore but provided ample parking. Well, they weren’t making cheese that day but a greeter, whom we assumed was the owner, cheerily welcomed us and introduced us to the cheese store and grilled cheese bar. We sampled several cheeses, bought a couple, and then had a delicious grilled ham and sharp cheddar.

They also had a large garden full of flowers and an area big enough for a wedding, for one in Loreta. Speaking of flowers, the ride up 101 was sprinkled with rhododendron bushes all blooming, some mature ones maybe fifty feet long and twenty feet high. That was the highlight of the day.

It was cool and overcast on arrival on the Klamath River and then it started raining overnight and it rained until 7pm on Friday. It was our first do-nothing day in quite awhile. My back needed a day off.

I was really looking forward to the Klamath River RV Park and the location doesn’t disappoint, but it was dreary.

We we about a mile downstream of the 101 bridge.

The clouds kept settling lower. It started to look like Kong’s Island:

It started to clear up Saturday morning:

This is supposed to be a big habitat for Bald Eagles. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen, or identified one in the wild. We’ve got tonight, sorry, who needs tomorrow?

Ok, got the tune in your head? Ear worm?

So now I got a bird thing in my head.
When we moved back to COS from Texas in 2012, the rental house was across from a field where red-tailed hawks prowled. Here’s one, dated 7/25/12:

I sat out on our deck and loved to watch them patrol overhead. Here’s five of them headed over I-25 toward the Air Force Academy (that’s Pike’s Peak in the middle):

That little blurry dot, lower right, was something on the camera lens.

We had a bird feeder and attracted various locals out of the scrub oak:

Still looking for some eagles here.

Moving on – there was an event in Eureka, sixty miles south, that sounded a siren call:

The literature provided absolutely no information about what the race entailed except that they started six miles up the road and that the teams had to go down a huge sand dune with much of the race on sand. We think. Andrea had seen a few photos of previous years’ contestants and had come to understand that unusual transportation machines were part of the deal.

We arrived a bit early (the plan was to be there at the finish line) so we could put a little gas in the Jeep first. Right next to the gas station was Joe’s Smoke Shop.

A lot of the town looked like that. Could you expect less from a town promoting the Kinetic Grand Championship? A short distance away was a small, really beat-up looking storefront, Tiffany’s Treasure Trove, with some cool, psychedelic patterns in stained glass covering the front which was, at best, 12 feet across, including the door. I tried to get a picture but there were at least a half dozen homeless dudes in various forms of awareness, or perhaps stupor, covering most of the frontage. It wouldn’t have been proper to post their pictures…..unless they were famous. I was rather curious about that store.

We got to Halverson Park early enough to plant our lounge chairs near the finish line and were entertained by several local Kinetic enthusiasts. Colorful attire seemed to be the thing:
Every so often, a local radio station provided updates, most of it live reports from Dead Man’s Hill, the big sand dune where half the participants crashed. Not sure if the station pronounces their call letters as "K" "Hum" or an alternate method, you know, the happy way:

Finally, the first team, TriloBike Diner, crossed the finish line:

OK. Genuinely odd. That thing made it down a huge sand dune without crashing?

Ten minutes later, the next team, Super Moi’, took second place.

A crashed team was towed by, outside the park.

Then, without fanfare or any announcement, the number three finisher crossed the line:

You starting to see a pattern here? A bunch of bicycles with some serious gearing mods. It was getting a little late in the afternoon and after the next finisher was announced, crossing the (highway) 230 bridge, we left.

From pictures we saw later, the really whacked-out contestants had no hope of finishing first. Next time we’ll plan to spend the late afternoon there.

We needed a few groceries and wanted to get back before sunset. The day turned out to be beautiful and I still had hope of seeing a Bald Eagle.

Eureka! Very trippy town, except for some old dude in the parking lot of the Safeway who was blasting his radio. Andrea went in for a few things and this guy pulls in next to me with his windows open cranking out The Lord’s Prayer? WTF? Don’t you know the words by now? I blasted Def Leppard back and he closed his window. Lots of off-the-tracks types here.

Back at the ranch, the sun is already behind the mountains around us but it’s still pretty nice.

Before leaving in the morning, our last in California, I got one more shot of the morning mist, with the horseshoe pits not cropped out.

However, no Bald Eagles. How about a belk? What else do you call a bear with horns?

If you like your adult beverage a bit on the malty side, how could you not fall for this description?21

But no eagles.

Onto Oregon and Diamond Lake RV Park, just north of Crater Lake National Park.

Myers Flat and Humboldt Redwoods State Park

So, off we go north on Highway 1 from Ft Bragg to Myers Flat. Remarkably, the drive up the first thirty-five miles of Hwy 1 was exactly like the thirty-five miles we drove yesterday. Odyssey took it like a champ. Andrea encouraged me to honk the horn on every blind turn. After some not-so-close calls with an organized group of bicyclists, perhaps fifty or so, I employed the horn for about twenty miles. Auto manufacturers need to offer an “always-on” option for horns. Wouldn’t that be great? Maybe have an additional option to have it automatically go on when you pull up to a red light and the guy in the car next to you is blasting his bass speakers so much that it vibrates a sensor to trigger the horn. Anybody out there have any experience with patent law? I need to protect my intellectual properties.

I think Andrea took video of some of the ride. She may have posted it. Along with video around the tight turns and an occasional glimpse of the ocean, the accompanying music just happened to be one of my favorite “driving” pieces – the scorching guitar of David Gilmour on ‘Echoes’ from his ‘Live In Gdansk’ CD. Nothing turns on my driving switch more than a strong beat and big guitar riffs. That particular version takes me away. Now, I’m having fun. And when it’s fun, the stress sort of gets dissolved in the shredding of that 1984 Fender Stratocaster. Just another beautiful ride.

It was so nothing that I got up and went to the bathroom at one point. True. The editorial staff is dedicated to safety on the roads and wants to point out that we were stopped at a road repaving project where we could obviously see that we would be stopped for several minutes. Can’t wait for the driverless option for RVs. OK, maybe putting a 42′ monster on the tight turns of Route 1 north of Ft Bragg was a bit of a gamble, but where else can a sixty-seven year old get a good adrenaline rush without pulling a muscle? Blackjack table? The track? Yolanda Vega? (NY joke)

Even after Hwy 1 merged into 101, there were still plenty of twists and 25 mph turns through the redwoods but it eventually straightened out to mile long curves up and down the mountains. Myers Flat is an exit on 101 with a coffee shop, a souvenir shop, an $8 a car drive-thru-a-tree operation, a handful of homes, and an entrance onto The Avenue Of The Giants, a 30 mile scenic drive, paralleling 101, among the very impressive redwoods.

Oh, there’s an RV park, Giant Redwoods RV Park, where we stayed. The park sits along the banks of The Eel River, pretty much a small stream at that point. No sewer hookup but we were only there three days. Nice park, well maintained and a good location for going into the state park.

The trees are pretty awesome. First, check out a couple of them:

Some over 1,000 years old.

I found out there were girl trees, too. When this one was 600 years old she posed nude for Redwoodboy. Still not shy at 953:

Some are 10 stories tall.

Now check out this time graph. The rings represent years/ages of life. It puts our short time here on earth in perspective:

We were in search of finding some of the biggest trees, but first, we drove the southern part of The Avenue Of The Giants from Myers Flat. About ten miles into the drive we came upon Miranda, a little town, if you can call it that, which was having something of a town fair. The first thing that caught our attention was the Car Show, if ten shiny old cars counts as a car show.

There was also a candy store and shop that had a couple of outfits for a one year old that were too cute to leave on the rack. The side of that building provided local artists a canvas. Don’t just casually browse this one. There’s some hanky-panky going on:

Then it was back out to the work at hand, finding the really big trees.

A pamphlet we picked up indicated an easy hike just north of Myers Flat, about four miles west of 101. The hike would lead us to three big ones. At 3.9 miles we saw a small trail marker. Aha! Seemed like very little notice and barely enough room for two cars to park, but off we go on a crappy trail alongside the road with no big trees in sight. We turned around after a few minutes. Back in the car. Not sure whether that was where we were supposed to be, we drove another half mile down the road where we encountered this sign:


It had a large parking area and lots of informational displays about the redwoods. One piece of information they neglected to provide was how to cross the river to get to the trail with the big trees. There was a giant redwood tree that had fallen over, uprooted next to the parking lot, spanning the stream and with quite a few convenient notches at the base to allow agile people to climb up and cross over on the twelve foot wide tree. These things are pretty amazing at the base. That’s the bottom of a toppled giant.

You get my drift?

My friggin back, hip, legs just can’t do some of the things they used to. So we took off our shoes and tamed the roaring rapids – uh, wait, the chief editor says that I’m exaggerating, it was an ankle high stream – and proceeded on what we thought was the .6 mile loop trail to see the three whopping trees. Unbeknownst to us, the trail we were on was on the other side of the giant felled tree over the stream and it led us away from the loop trail. We kept walking away from civilization and a half mile later as we were ascending a hill we sensed the error of our ways. It was still pretty cool. Find Andrea in the photo:

I like those fallen ones.

You can see more of the whole tree when they fall.

We finally got back on the loop trail but had had enough by then. The large tree-bridge across the stream was easier to climb up on the trail side so we did, crossing the tiny stream on a giant redwood. Andrea named this photo ‘Bump On A Log’:

Then we drove back on the scenic route, The Avenue Of The Giants. You still have to get out of the car once in a while and touch them. It’s just awesome.

The road gets narrow at times but it’s too pretty to zoom through anyway.

Look at the car in between those suckers:

Great drive – look closely at the itsy-bitsy car below:

It was worth a stop, Myers Flat, that is. If you’re on your way on the 101 in northern California, don’t miss the state park. The visitor center is off the Weott exit. I’m going with five star entertainment value. Way better than expected.

Next stop, Klamath River RV Park. Bald Eagles reside there. I need to see one.