April 2011

April 2011
Boondocking at my brother's in Reno, April 2011

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Oh My Oregon

What do you think of when you think of Oregon?  Rain?  Yes we have plenty of that.  Towering forests of pine and fir trees?  You’ll for sure find them here.  Majestic snow-capped mountains, frigid wild rivers?  Rainbow trout, salmon, lakes?  Perhaps you think of the awe-inspiring cliffs and lighthouses along the Oregon coast.  All of that is here, but there is so much more.

I am well acquainted with all of those wonders of nature that are associated with western Oregon and the Willamette Valley.  I am also somewhat well acquainted with the high deserts of central Oregon.  But the vast plains and rolling hills and vistas that seem to go on forever caught me somewhat by surprise.  The trip from Pendleton to Mt. Vernon on Hwy. 395 showcased the beauty of Eastern Oregon as I had never before experienced it.


We bid a glad farewell to Pendleton and its cow pokes at exit 209 and headed south.
exit 209

Not too far south of Pendleton, we saw a scene that was to be repeated many times on this drive.  Vast open areas, rolling hills, varying shades of green as the growing season begins, and cattle….many,many head of cattle.
cattle
This particular stretch of Hwy. 395 was new to both of us so it was a joy just to see something we have never seen before.  The road itself was in great shape.  It’s not something I would want to tackle in a motor home in bad weather, but we had a perfect travel day.  The clouds thinned out some as we traveled south but maintained just enough cover to keep the drive cool and comfortable.  Gentle, and sometimes not so gentle, curves kept the drive interesting.
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Mile after mile of sparsely treed rolling hills stretched before us.

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Traffic was light and we encountered  very few other vehicles.  We couldn’t seem to shake this tail-gaiter however, and it rode our bumper all the way to Clyde Holliday State Park.  The nerve!!

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We traveled in and out of the Malheur National Forest several times.  Part of the drive was along the John Day River.  Lots of “S” curves on this stretch but well engineered and not a problem for motor home travel.  This part reminded me of traveling along the Walker River in another portion of Hwy. 395.  Wildfire is always a danger in the hotter summer months and you can see where a fire traveled over this hill at some time in the past.

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A roadside waterfall provided another interesting view along the route.
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Lots of evidence of hard times along the highway.
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As we gained elevation, the views of valleys and mountain peaks seemed to stretch forever.  Here and there a homestead dotted the hillside.
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Along with the hills and valleys, were flat topped mesas that looked like they could have been in Utah or Arizona.

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A simple machine made by man, cannot begin to capture the beauty of this landscape.  The views and differing topographies encountered on this portion of Hwy. 395 are (to borrow an overused word) just awesome.  The wide open spaces, the unending vistas, the open land are impossible to capture except by the human eye.  One must see it to truly feel what this land is all about.
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There is more to this journey and certainly more to this highway, but this post grows long.  Someday I am going to travel the entire length of Hwy 395 and write a book about it.  I love this highway.  Join me if you can.
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Still to come are a few small towns along the way and our campsite at Clyde Holliday State Park.  Here’s a teaser…

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Clyde Holliday State Park

Absolutely gorgeous.  No internet.  Typing on my Kindle ((3G).  More later.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Guess Where We Are?

Did I hear someone say Pendleton, Oregon?   Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!!! 

Yup we are still in Pendleton but that is not altogether a bad thing.  We did get the Fit back and we drove it into town and everything seems to be working just fine.  They were late getting it back as the tire pressure monitor came on when the fella was about halfway here.  He turned around and went back to the dealer.  Turns out it was only a reset issue but it made it past 11a.m. by the time he got here.  They had called to let us know of the delay and when we added that into the bad weather equation, the sum total of our thinking said…just stay put another day and don’t try and force things.

Overall I am happy with the service at Gilbert Honda and would not hesitate to recommend them.  I am not as happy with the insurance adjuster but I suppose we all have our horror stories and our triumphs with insurance companies.  They are all pretty much alike but I will check rates when we get home and compare.  Since this was all handled by a call center anyway, I really don’t see a reason to pay more to have a local agent.  We’ll see on that one.  Our total bill was a bit over $1600.  A big chunk but less than $7000+ at least.  Amazing how your perspective can make $1600 seem like a bargain!!

Plus we had another little issue!  The awning wouldn’t retract all the way.  Russ took it down in a hurry yesterday when the wind came up and got it in closed position but it wouldn’t lock.  He worked and worked with it today and no luck.  We had decided to just secure it with Velcro straps but unrolled it for one last inspection.  There in the way of the center closure was the support arm, not fully collapsed into its smallest extension.  It was too near the center and was blocking the closure.  Push that little bugger back where it belonged and the awning operated perfectly…but with our luck, I still insisted on the Velcro straps!!  Can anyone say “operator error?”

So before we put Pendleton behind us, here are just a few more pictures of the area.

on April 17 This picture was taken the day after we arrived.  Notice the tree.

on april 26 This picture was taken today.  Notice the difference in the tree!!  We’ve been here HOW long??

P1040981 We saw this amazing play structure at a local park.  This thing was HUGE.  What kid would not want to climb all over this?  Heck, I might want to climb all over it.

P1040892A different park.  For a small town, Pendleton has more parks and green spaces than you would imagine.

P1140694  This is what Pendleton is famous for.  World class rodeo is held here every fall.  I hear it’s a pretty big deal.

P1040858Local wildlife.

And that, my friends, is that.  I certainly hope this is my last post on Pendleton.  Unless we wake up to gale force winds, hail the size of golf balls, and 10 flat tires, we’ll be moving along tomorrow. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It’s Not Oklahoma But the Wind is Sure Sweeping Down the Plain


We said goodbye to Kim and Don this morning under partly cloudy skies and no breeze to speak of.  We had such a nice time with them and we sincerely hope we see them again sometime.  They are headed back to their lot on beautiful Lake Shuswap in BC.  Safe travels to you Don and Kim.  We had the privilege to visit a different part of Shuswap Lake in 2009, and I can tell you it is a beautiful area.
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Poppy is doing well and had her chill pill last night and then the thunder never came.  But she got a good night’s rest and so did we.  I admit we spoil her but she is Princess Poppy however.  We got her a new dish for this trip and it is deeper than what she is used to.  While she will eat her kibble out of it, she really does not like sticking her muzzle into a deep dish of canned dog food.  We have come up with a solution.

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She will very delicately eat her breakfast off the fork as long as we will feed it to her.  Put the food down and she walks away.  It’s just too hard to pick it up from the bottom of the dish.  I know, if she gets hungry enough she will eat but with her diabetes, we try and keep her on a regular schedule and she needs to eat when it is time to eat.  We don’t mind and she is such a lady about the whole process, that we kind of enjoy feeding her.  At night she gets kibble and meat and she eats it just fine on her own.   Isn’t she just a little Princess?

GUESS WHAT??  The Fit is fit and ready to go!  They called late this afternoon and they also said they were going to deliver it to us here in the park tomorrow morning and pick up the rental car!  How cool is that?  Can hardly wait to see what the total will be.  State Farm has been less that a good neighbor and we will be exploring our options when we get home.

So we ran into town after dinner to get a few things at Wal-Mart so we will be ready to roll early tomorrow.  I had both hands on the wheel for sure as there was a bit of turbulence on the highway.   By the time we headed home, it was really blowing and it was definitely a two-hands-on-the-wheel type of drive.  As we turned into the park we noticed that is was at least half full and there were many more rigs parked in the boon-docking area.  Our speculation as to why so many folks were here tonight was answered when Russ tried to get out of the car and could hardly get the door open.  When he did get it open, it blew shut before he could get a foot out!  It is quite a blow out there.  I am so glad we are surrounded by grass instead of sand!
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This shows the sustained winds – the gusts are much worse.  This is worse than we had in Desert Hot Springs.  We’re sitting here in the coach and the way it is swaying, you would swear you were riding the rails.  You’d love it Sam!!  I made a video but the internet is SO SLOW tonight I don’t think I’d be able to upload so you’ll just have to trust me on this – it’s windy!!  Poppy had her pill so she is chilling and not all agitated.  Weather report calls for calming by morning so hopefully we will get out of here and continue our Travels in Therapy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

If Ya Gotta Be Stranded, This is NOT a Bad Place to Be!!

Yup, we are STILL in Pendleton.  We are STILL waiting for the Fit to be fixed.  We are STILL getting the run around between the dealer and the insurance…but not to worry, it will all work out in the end I am sure.

We have had a great visit with Kim and Don and they are getting ready to pull out first thing in the morning to continue their journey home.  The guys sat outside some today and had a good chin-wag but Kim was busy getting ready for the border crossing and I woke up with a migraine from our night in the looney bin last night, so kinda laid low.

Monday we went out to breakfast with Kim and Don to our favorite little breakfast spot in Pendleton, the Main Street Diner.  Highly recommend this place if you are ever in Pendleton.

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Hey, where’s breakfast?  This is just an empty tray!


P1040978  Breakfast must have been good cuz those are some real empty plates.  Thanks Kim and Don for breakfast.

Later that evening, we combined resources and shared a great meal at our place.  I made beef stew in the crockpot, Kim and I both contributed to the salad, and Kim brought onion rolls, plus strawberry shortcake for dessert.  YUM!  No one went away hungry.
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The last two evenings, before the thunder showers start, we have sat out in the grass and watched deer, quail, and pheasant in the fields beyond the RV Park.  The pheasants are quite vocal and get rather upset when the thunder and lightning start.  But, if ya gotta be stranded, you couldn’t ask for a better view.

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Those innocent looking clouds go from gentle to nasty in 6.53 seconds…
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Oh yeah, storm’s coming now.

Our night in the looney bin last night was directly related to these clouds.  Poppy was doing okay, hunkered down on the bathroom floor – there’s only room for her and no more.  Russ sat down on the floor right outside the door to keep her company.  The wind was blowing pretty good and the coach had a little sway going on.  Then the BIG ONE hit.  It sounded like it was right on top of us and it seemed to go on forever.  Russ started yelling…”Poppy get off that toilet.”  AS IF she could understand him.  He’s on the floor in the doorway, I can’t get past him to get to Poppy.  He’s yelling at her, she’s making all kinds of scrabbling noises and when I am finally able to get Russ off the floor and out of the way, I find Poppy with one leg caught in the bathroom trash can (next to the toilet) while she is frantically trying to climb into the toilet or onto it and out the window I guess.  Her eyes are wild and bugging with sheer panic but I can’t help but see the humor in her pose.  I am able to grab her and pull her out of the trash can and off the toilet, all the while trying to calm her down and soothe her panic.  There is NO ROOM for two of us in that tiny bathroom but we manage to make it out finally.  Poppy is shaking and panting and all I can do is soothe her and do my best to calm her down.  Today we called the vet for anti-anxiety meds for her.  I hate to do that but if you could have seen her panic, you would understand.  The weather called for more thunder storms tonight and even the pharmacist was saying there would be more thunder.  So I gave her a pill, she is calm and relaxed and guess what – all is quiet on the eastern front (where the storms come from).  Oh well!  Maybe we will get some sleep tonight.


Here are a few pictures from around Pendleton.

P1040986 Main Street

P1040984 NOT typical!!
P1040993From downtown to a residential area.  It’s steeper than it looks here – there is another part to the steps that doesn’t show in this view.  WHEW!

P1140700Etched glass at the Dairy Queen!
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P1140703 Another camper’s dog.

P1040996Wild Horse Entrance

Sunday, April 22, 2012

You Light Up My Life

Just a short post tonight…very busy day.  Grocery shopping this morning, then laundry this afternoon.

Kim and Don arrived from Mountain Home, Idaho this afternoon and we had a great visit.  The weather was perfect and we sat in the “backyard” under cloudless blue skies and heard wonderful stories of their winter travels.  We learned a lot about the LTVA at Imperial Dam and the military base there.  Funny how the Canadians know more about that area than we do.  Thanks Kim and Don for sharing your adventures with us.

Then tonight, the sky really lit up. First with a gorgeous sunset which I failed to photograph and then with huge bolts of lightning.  The thunder rolled and Poppy ran for the bathroom.   At home she would be in the bathtub, but in the motor home she doesn’t know where to hide.  I made the mistake of letting her go outside and she almost took off.  She didn’t go far but she wanted to run and hide from the storm.  Russ is now keeping her company as she hides in our tiny bathroom with the fan on and the door almost closed.  Small spaces make her feel safer. 

Here’s a couple of the lightning strikes we witnessed…hard things to capture but we got a couple of shots between us.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Guess What We Did Today???

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!  Well except for some necessary cooking and dishwashing.

Russ got up early and snapped a couple of pictures as the sun was waking up.
sunrise1

sunrise

  And then we just enjoyed a perfect day.  No rain, blue skies, gentle breeze, and temps in the mid 70s.  Now that’s my kind of day and we haven’t seen one like this in quite a while.  Wonderful!!

blue sky

poppy 
Russ

killdeer
Nope, he isn’t the newest member of the family – just a visitor!  The one below was rather shy and wouldn’t come out and pose for his portrait.

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But the most important thing about this date did not happen today…it happened 45 years ago.  That is the day my wonderful daughter was born.  We named her Merry Dawn, which means joyous new beginning – because that is exactly what she was.  I probably don’t tell her often enough how much she means to me.  So Merry, if you read this, Happy Birthday and I love you very much.

merry collage

Friday, April 20, 2012

Going to the Frogs

Milton-Freewater is a small town in northeastern Oregon, about 25 miles east of Pendleton.  To say there is not much going on there is an understatement.  They do harvest a lot of sweet peas but that’s about it.

Oh, for over 30 years they have had the annual Muddy Frogwater Festival, which is somewhat of a local fair.

Several years ago, the town fathers decide they needed something to draw visitors to Milton-Freewater.  They hired a consultant and after much deliberation, the decision was made to go with FROGS…yes, frogs!  Even though, other than tree frogs, the amphibians are not indigenous to Milton-Freewater, the theme seemed to tie in with the annual festival.

So Frogs it was!  Many merchants and homeowners jumped on board and put up frogs…all over town…frogs, everywhere.  Not the cute little croaking ones but big, fat plaster ones!!  There is one that’s a builder, one for an orthopedic clinic, a baker, a library patron…the list goes on.  And while the frogs are interesting and quirky, it doesn’t seem like they have done a lot to make Milton-Freewater a tourist destination.

We enjoyed our froggy tour and I hope you will enjoy this video I put together to highlight a few of the frogs we saw.  There are more…believe me, there are more.  You can run, but you can’t hide!

Click on photo to see video.  For some reason I am having trouble with embedding video from the laptop.  It’s a short video but I think you will enjoy it.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Another New Car and a Great Breakfast

With all the hoopla of the last few days, I didn’t get the chance to post a couple of photos of our last day in Cascade Locks and our trip from Cascade Locks to Pendleton.

P1040705Our last excursion in Hood River was to the Columbia River Gorge Interpretive Center, just across the Bridge of the Gods on the Washington side in Stevenson.  It is a small museum and we were a little disappointed.  Overall, I would give it a 5 out of 10. 
The most interesting display was the Fish Wheel.  These wheels were in use on the Columbia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  These wheels were very efficient at taking fish from the river and scooped up literally tons of fish that were processed at local canneries.

There is a beautiful view of the river from here.

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The last I saw of Russ was when he was getting this capture.  Luckily I was able to retrieve his camera.

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When we left Cascade Locks, the clouds were hanging low over the mountains giving them a misty appearance.

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The road ahead was filled with gorgeous scenery.

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A drive by shot of a roadside pond shows a small portion of the beauty along the Columbia Gorge.
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There are lots of these groves of trees along Highway I-84.  They are Pacific Albus, which is just a made up name for poplar trees.  They were originally grown to be used as pulp but as pulp prices dropped and paper mills closed, the tress were left to grow large enough for cut stock.  Although poplar is a light wood and not very strong, it can be used for things like pictures frames, trim boards, and even in making pallets.

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Pendleton is rodeo country and you can tell they like their horses as you get near town.
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Poppy was tired by the time we arrived at the Wild Horse Casino.
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Today we went to Walla Walla to trade rental cars.  This was the first car the dealership rented to us…the same color as Paulette’s new car!!  Nice enough car but a pretty low end model.  The weather was warm yesterday despite the rain and this car had no A/C.  I had Russ call and see if they had something else – I know, I’m high maintenance. 
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The dealer graciously allowed us to trade for this little beauty.  All the bells and whistles and good A/C.  It’s  Nissan Altima – first Nissan I have ever driven!   I’m a happy camper.
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But first, We visited downtown Pendleton for breakfast.  I read about a place in old town called the Main Street Diner.  This building is only 17’ wide and originally housed a cigar and soda shop during the prohibition years.  It’s now done up in a a 50s theme and was a pleasant experience.  Service was great and so was the food.  Prices were reasonable with my bacon and eggs only $6.95.  I would recommend this place for a good meal and a fun atmosphere.
The sidewalks in this part of town are made to look like a boardwalk (but not a very good replica!)
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While in another block, the sidewalks are in worse shape but they have a plausible excuse.  The sign says “caution, historic sidewalk”!!

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After breakfast and a quick walk around the city park, we headed out for Milton-Freewater to see all their famous frogs…but that will have to wait until tomorrow.

The End!
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