Friday, June 29, 2018

In Portland with Friends


We left Ainsworth State Park and headed to our favorite Elks Lodge in Sherwood. It is located close to our friends and is easily accessed off highway 99. On a clear day, there is a beautiful view of Mt. Baker. And for $16 per night for water, electric and a Thursday pump-out, what's not to love? We stayed two nights, then made our way to Eugene/Coburg for some Scoopy love. After that, we returned for a week to spend some time with our friends.

Mount Baker as seen from the Sherwood Elks Lodge.

The Eugene/Coburg area is our favorite place to get work done on Scoopy. Home to Cummins Northwest and Carrier RV Service, among others, it's a great stopover for annual service and repairs. We joked on our way to Carrier that it was time to visit with friends Bill and Diane, who were sitting in the lot when we arrived there in 2016. This time, on our second day there, who comes rolling in? Bill and Diane. I guess we're all on the same maintenance schedule! It was good to spend some time with them and catch up!

Carrier RV in Eugene. Bill and Diane’s rig is to the right!

Last December I wrote about getting some upgrades done to Scoopy at a facility in Mansfield, Texas. In the end it didn't work out at all as their quotes were about three times higher than expected. Truthfully, they had zero interest in working with us, I think because it wasn't an insurance claim. If we'd been t-boned on the way into their facility, no doubt we would have been welcomed with open arms. So we planned to get some things done in Eugene instead. But, getting renovations done while still living in Scoopy is difficult at best, and after our Mansfield experience we just kind of lost interest. While in Texas, we did upgrade our kitchen and bath faucets and we purchased some gorgeous glass tiles to install in those two areas. The tiles are still sitting in our closet. :)

At Carrier we had Scoopy's slides adjusted, a new tailpipe put on (that was my birthday present this year, along with my ceramic Chicken. I was so excited!) and a few odds and ends done. We moved on to RV Glass Solutions, across town in Coburg. You may recall that upon exiting Canada following our trip to Alaska, a little red Corvette rounded a corner at high speed and threw a rock into our passenger side windshield which left us with a web-like dent about the size of a half dollar. We've been traveling with it ever since, and still wouldn't have bothered to fix it if not for the fact that we had a brand new front window gasket we wanted installed. They said even a slightly damaged window would not survive being removed and reinstalled, so it had to be replaced. RV Glass Solutions is the most professional outfit we've dealt with and they did a great job on both the gasket installation and the new window. Now we’re traveling crack-free!

We had to sit for at least 24 hours after the gasket and windshield were installed. This was a gentle reminder.

While in Eugene, we had a delicious brunch at the Lion & Owl. Highly recommended!

We would have to wait on a part to complete repairs to our automatic levelers and return the following week to Carrier. So we also made an appointment to service our generator at Cummins, as it was time.

With all that done, it was back to Portland to hang with our friends. Steven and Glenn were eager to go out and make a movie of some sort (creepy/scary) while Kris and I hit up the Farmers Market and get creative in the kitchen (happy/tasty). See the difference? Kris and I went to the Farmers Market in Beaverton where I discovered two of my new favorite things. Golden Elixir Brown Butter Ghee and Wild Roots Marionberry Infused Vodka. Both of them are out of this world! I only bought one of each, but on the day we headed north into Washington, Steven and I made a quick trip back to Beaverton so I could stock up!

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Shopping and shooting. We were both happy!

Among our group are vegans, vegetarians and paleo-leaning folks, and we enjoy the challenge of meeting everyone's preferences. I am the latter, but I'm happy to try foods I don’t typically eat, mainly because Kris is such a great cook. I draw the line at soy, however, but other than that, I'm pretty flexible. It's a lot of fun to come up with yummy food everyone can enjoy, and we do pretty well. One night, I prepared Shakshuka. It's a vegetarian dish, made vegan by adding tofu instead of eggs.We made both kinds, and it was delicious! We also had everyone over to our place for a cookout. We sat around our little campfire in a can (which I just love!) and enjoyed each other's company. It's good to be with friends.

Shakshuka, simply yummy.

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Out with Kris and Glenn and the boys look positively spooky by our campfire in a can.

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Our friend Chris took us for a spin in his spiffy Tesla. Those things are zippy! Look at that gigantic display!

Now, it's time to move north to see our kiddos. We haven't been in Seattle for two years and we decided this time we'd do a few touristy things!

UP NEXT:  Touristy Things in Seattle

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Repositioning: Idaho to Oregon


While we were at Craters of the Moon, we took the opportunity to take a quick trip to Sun Valley. Cindy and I had also visited here on our epic trip from Alaska to Texas in 1981. The night before, we had been traveling a long, lonely Idaho highway way past dark and it was overrun with jackrabbits. How we managed to miss them, I'll never know.

I was in my usual "lemming" mode - i.e., drive 'til you reach your destination or fall off a cliff, whichever comes first" - and Cindy desperately wanted to sleep. So we pulled over, set our ice chest on the side of the road and slept in the car. We had a tent but this was not the place to pitch it.

We rolled into Sun Valley feeling pretty gnarly and we'd stopped at a laundromat. A guy who was there offered his apartment to us so we could take a shower. I know, creepy, right? Still, we were desperate, and he wasn't planning on returning home while we were there, so we took him up on his offer. Since there were two of us and only one of him, we figured we could take him if he showed up. He never did, and we returned his key, freshly showered.

All in all, I've had some lovely experiences on lonely Idaho roads. :)

Leaving Craters of the Moon, we had a rather uneventful trip to Twin Falls. Since we've been there a couple of times already, we stayed a bit out of town at the Fairgrounds in Filer. We had some shopping and a few chores to do, so that all worked out well.

At the Fairgrounds, just the two of us and a little guest.

Our only issue was a mouse. On the four occasions we've had a mouse on board, three of them have happened in Idaho! What's up with that? (The fourth was in Canada at a campsite in the primordial forest.) It didn't take long to discard of the intruder and after three days, we were on our merry way to the Elks Lodge in Caldwell for a two-night stay.

By the Elks Lodge in Caldwell.

In Boise, we met up with friends Dustin and Laci, who have a sweet year-long house-sitting gig. We originally met them in 2016 at Sage Creek Campground in Badlands National Park in South Dakota. That was a fabulous campground where each morning we found ourselves literally surrounded by a herd of bison! All I had to do to get a photo of them was raise up onto my elbow and raise the screen on the window by my bed. It was incredible!

Dustin and Laci were tent camping back then and stayed a few days. We had just returned from Alaska and had a freezer full of fish, so we whipped up some halibut to share. Each day, the campground would empty out but just after dark it was full again. We ended up having a bunch of college kids next to us, and that's where I got the idea that if we needed to run our generator and disturb the peace, the least we could do is offer to charge our neighbors’ cell phones and computers! It's funny how they didn't seem to mind the noise and we sure felt a lot better about having to run the beast to keep our fridge going!

In Boise with Dustin and Laci.

We enjoyed a fun dinner out with lots of conversation, it was great to see Dustin and Laci again!

We had a gorgeous travel day to our next destination, Joseph, OR. Oh, how happy we were to be back in Oregon! This was a return trip for us and we had fond memories of our last stay at the cute little Five Peaks RV Park just off the main drag in downtown Joseph. When we were here in 2015 we 'rode the rails" on a funky looking bike made to travel on decommissioned railroad tracks.

Our adorable little campground in Joseph.

We wanted to repeat that experience, as well as a few others. Unfortunately, we had arrived about a month earlier than last time. Most things were still closed for the season including many of the wonderfully scenic roads leading into the foothills of the beautiful Willowa mountains. Well, never mind. Here we were right in town, just a stroll away from the wonderful Arrowhead Chocolates store. Mexican Hot Chocolate. Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. What's not to love? We had a very relaxing stay in Joseph. But, just to make sure you don't miss out on seeing Steven's take on this beautiful area, here's a photography post he did following our previous stay.

Hot treats at Arrowhead Chocolates!

Deer friends are a common sight around town.

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We always enjoy the beautiful sculptures in Joseph.

Chief Joseph.

Willowa Lake, just minutes from our campground.

Who doesn’t like a big red barn?

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We had some laughs in one of the gift stores. Very wise words to live by, lol!

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More entertaining signs. Who knew there was such a thing as slow chickens?

After a week-long stay we headed to Ainsworth State Park just a couple of miles from the beautiful Multnomah Falls, one of the most photographed sites in Oregon, and therefore nearly always crowded.

What we hadn't realized is just how close last year's massive fire in the Columbia Gorge area had come to the state park and that the backroads in the area were still closed. Crews were still working on clearing burned out trees off the roads and trails. The Eagle Creek fire, as it is named, was caused by a teen setting off fireworks. He was recently fined $36 million dollars. That'll learn him, right?

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Despite much of the area being closed, we enjoyed smoking and relaxing at Ainsworth State Park.

Multnomah Falls.

In order to access our campground we had to show our reservation slip to a guard and he then would remove the barrier and let us in. While we were there we did manage a visit to the falls at the end of the day when there were relatively few people. Other than that, we mostly stayed at our site, sitting out enjoying some wine and smoking a brisket. I had to get that in the fridge because we were off to Portland to visit our vegan friends. LOL, just kidding. We eat really well when we're with the vegans!

Update on my Undies Painted Rock: My friend Jodee informed me that any painted rocks found in a national park will be disposed of, as it is considered to be vandalism. Who knew? I am utterly heartbroken. You have no idea the angst I went through just to make the decision to re-hide it, and now this. Deb of trekkingwiththebs was actually in Crater of the Moons NP yesterday and she went to our actual site to see if she could find the cute rock. No joy. RIP little Undies Rock, wherever you are. Sorry I cut your journey short. :(

NEXT UP:  Scoopy Love & Portland Friends

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Repositioning: Utah to Idaho


Having given up on a longer stay in Bryce National Park due to weather, we decided to start heading north and put some miles behind us.

As you know, we stay at quite a few Elks Lodges as we travel. We're big fans because often we are able to stay in a safe, secure and inexpensive place in areas that might otherwise bust the budget. Lodges near water or with extraordinary views, in and near larger cities seem to be doing well but, in a state like Utah with a sparse population, many struggle to stay open and some of them don't succeed. I just read today that the lodge in Moab closed.

We travel with a very outdated set of Lodge books, from 2009. The trouble with that is when we are on the move to reposition and plan a series of one night stops, sometimes we find that the lodge no longer exists. This is what happened when we left Page and arrived in Richfield, south of Provo. We tried calling but there was no answer.

Then we drove past the weed-infested building with a barely hanging on sign flapping in the wind and a faded For Sale sign. So off we went for an overnight at the local Walmart Supercenter instead.

The next day, we stayed at yet another Walmart near Ogden, UT, this time so that we could meet in person a long-time Facebook friend. Joann and her husband Mel were fulltimers for many years before Mel's illness forced them off the road. They were part of a big gang of folks that headed to Alaska in 2008 and we followed a couple of blogs of folks they met up with. I think that's how we became friends on Facebook. Sadly, Mel passed away last year. Joann is just now looking at future travels for herself, although not in an RV. It was so nice to finally meet her in person, and thanks again for the hats, Joann!

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Not too shabby of a view at the Walmart in Ogden.         Joann poses for the obligatory Chouter's selfie.

At our next repositioning stop we planned to stay put for three days. There is only so many one-nighters we can do before we start to get cranky. Our travel day was partly spent on a lonely Idaho road. It was a grey, miserable day, making us feel like we were alone in the world. Then it started to snow.

The last time I drove through this area was in 1981. My BFF Cindy and I were moving from Alaska to Texas and we decided to make our way down south in Cindy's un-air conditioned car, Hazel. I think it was a Pontiac Astre. She was a rough ride and drove like a tank but after more than 6,000 miles, she got us to our destination safe and sound! I'll give Hazel that much. :)

Hazel, the Incredible.  On the back window we had written Texas or Bust! (Thanks for the photo, Cindy!)

We visited a ton of places along the way, but as we made our way to Yellowstone, we passed through this desolate area of Idaho where the earth looked as though it had all been tilled, but in a massive way. We could not figure out what kind of earth-mover had churned up all this land, and for what purpose? We didn't know it at the time, but we were looking out at Craters of the Moon National Monument.

It was fun to be coming back, although the usually black lava fields and cinder cones were now covered in a beautiful layer of white snow. It was amazing! The snow only lasted a day but we toured around and saw the area, basically white one day and black the next. Very unique!

Early on our first morning at Craters of the Moon

At the exact same place a few hours later and all the snow was gone!




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Craters of the Moon National Monument feels like being on a different planet (except for this cute deer).

The vivid colors we saw on a day trip to nearby Sun Valley stood in stark contrast to our campsite.

Quick story, then I'll wrap this up. Are you familiar with the whole Painted Rock phenomenon that is happening across the country? People paint rocks and then place them out in public places in hopes that they will be found and reported on the group’s Facebook page. Each participating town has their own separate page. Well a few weeks back, while we were in Temecula, I found one. It was a grey rock with a pair of boy's underwear painted on it, in bright red. On the back of the rock was a message to report the finding, then I could keep it, or re-hide it. I immediately became attached to the rock and really didn't want to re-hide it. But when we got to Craters of the Moon, the red paint really popped next to the black cinder. So, after a couple of days of indecisiveness, I let go of my rock and hid it in the campground. To this day, no one has reported finding it, which makes me really regret leaving it behind. I miss my undies rock! :)

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Our underwear-wearing rock up for adoption once more.

Next up: Hello Oregon!