RV Holiday Rambler to Pacific Northwest

Preparation:

With over 70,000 miles on the now vintage 2004 Holiday Rambler motor coach, it has grown ‘long in the tooth’. Repairing and re-enforcing the two battery isolation switches, after one separated under internal spring pressure, was only one matter of which to attend. The puzzling loss of battery voltage at the switch, led to the cost saving method of drilling and installing 4-40 nuts and extended bolts, rather than the four screws into the grey plastic base section. These battery isolation switches cost between $50 and $100 each, so time and ingenuity is preferable in our situation.

Upon entry into the stored coach, I discovered that one motorized sun visor had dropped loose on one end. A piece of nylon strapping found all over lumber stores, fixed the problem. Due to the linear engineering nature of strapping tape, the holes must be melted and enlarged for the screws that hold the strap loops up to the structure above the dashboard. These visors are heavy and motor powered. I took the added precaution of re-enforcing both ends of both visors, using the strap tape.

The water reservoir had been filled previous to warm weather storage… just in case. Now the reservoir must be treated with bleach. I add one cup for the 60 gallons. we never drink the water from the taps. It is only for washing and bathing, so the mild temporary Chlorine odor from the initial water supply does not bother us. A pressure test follows with a test of the water heating systems. We have both AC and Propane. Testing of the furnace powered by Propane as well as the refrigeration unit for food and the two roof AC’s, ensures a comfortable trip.

The coach, house battery bank of  four, six volt golf cart batteries now six years old, require periodic addition of distilled water, as they are left on a  large ‘float’ maintenance charger, designed to fluctuate the storage voltage for longevity. We do not use the Xantrax converter/inverter as a power for battery storage unit. Not only is it hard on the batteries, it degrades the expensive Xantrax unit that provides power to the coach for battery charging and inverting for AC to watch TV.

The chassis battery (starts the motor and provides engine electrical, driving lights, etc) has it’s own dedicated charger to ‘float’ the maintenance voltage. Both charger/maintainers were a worthwhile investment, as the batteries are lasting well. This time the addition of a half gallon of distilled water was required. A round mirror fitted with a support wire enables me to view the water level in each cell as I add the water from a large squeeze bottle and tubing. A device that I fabricated.

Tires are another concern. Most tire failures are due to low air pressure. Causes are numerous and often traced to the extensions installed to make it easier to access the Schraeder valve. One such incident was from a service facility not tightening the extension onto the valve. At first I suspected a puncture. Further investigation and re-tightening the extensions, repaired the air loss problem. Do Not trust service facilities, they are humans and make errors.

We carry our own small Craftsman oil type piston compressor, capable of 110 # of air, with 50′ of hose and two separate gauges to verify inflation. 110# is the requirement for these 22.5″ tires. Air compressors were commonly available at all service and fuel facilities… no longer. While traveling and stopped for brief periods and before rolling each day, I take a minute to ‘whack’ the dual tires with an aluminum bat to check for the ‘ring’ of fully inflated tires. duals are deceiving, one can temporarily support the load while the other disintegrates from the heat of under inflation, thus destroying the other. After storage from last spring trip, all Michlen tires were near 110# and little additional air pressure was required.

Noted the gradual leakage from a holding tank knife valve had accumulated in clear section above secondary knife valve that we added as redundancy. City water pressure applied, to test faucets. Added one cup of Clorox to fresh water tank of 60 gallons and ran more fresh water in to mix. We only use supply for washing and flushing, we don’t drink water from holding tank, use only bottled water from Dollar Tree $1 a gallon and refill our sturdy personal bottles. When on city water and separate filter faucet is clear, we sometimes use that water for consumption in cooking or drinking….. if good tasting.

Tested the propane water heater system and the refrigerator on propane. Started and ran for 20 minutes, the generator and the chassis engine. tested the Xantrax inverter to 120 volts. Before stored, a qt of difficult to find, Marvel Mystery Oil was added to 75 gal fuel tank on last fill before driving 6 miles, so everything started up easily. Fuel pumps last longer if fuel has a bit of lube. Upper cylinder and fuel injectors also respond well, if slightly lubed. I add a qt to a full tank of fuel often, while on the highway.

Wet basement has a remote holding systems monitor that was not functioning. Removed the little panel and discovered a loose, red 12 volt wire from test switch, due to wrong connector. Repaired the connector with proper sized spade and all LED’s lit up.

Left Albuquerque New Mexico at 2:20pm on way to Farmington NM, our first night camp in the Sam’s Club parking lot. Fuel price increased overnight by .05 to $3.45 per gallon. Quiet night and leave Farmington west through Shiprock NM and turn North toward Cortez Colorado. Fascinating driving along and looking at the beautiful desert the Navajos call home. Colorado gives way to irrigation from McPhee reservoir and the fields planted with crops, including corn and hay, are doing excellent.

Utah begins with it’s modest rock formations and builds in crescendo past Monticello, as the uplifts of ‘Range and Basin’ become ever more apparent. Moab Utah. This small adventure tourism town that specializes in 4×4 rentals and tours, begins the real exposure of drastic and rapid ‘Climate Change’ over the millennia. Dozens of vertical multi-colored layer cakes of strata, forms a great background to the scenic horizons. The vertical uplifts of earth’s layers and deep slot canyons are a wonder to behold for everyone that see’s this magnificent geology.

Moab is just the beginning. National Monument of formations is a side trip not to be missed. Golden Age Pass is available at the entrance for those that qualify. The paved highway tour is well worth any amount and time. The earth torturing Range and Basin effect is described, with a view of the separated rift feature easily seen from the top of the first cliff overlook, thousands of feet higher than the valley canyon.

Following northward, the scenery just keeps inspiring. Green River Utah State Park is our destination for overnight camp. Do not confuse with the Green River National Park. Although across the river and bearing the same name, it is hundreds of driving miles in distance. Tourists learn the hard way.

Green River itself is known for growing watermelons. I assembled my bike and rode to the nearby store for a melon and a six pack of beer. Heavy distraction on a bike..

After dumping the holding tanks, we headed North toward Salt Lake City. No loaded freight trains were plodding up the Price Canyon when we passed through on this trip. Economies are often judged by freight movement. The historic little town of Helper is named for it’s extra locomotives and crews that assist the long heavy ‘consists’ of freight cars over and down from Soldier Summit.

On approach to Salt Lake City, a difference is noted. The area is growing. From the first vestiges of the dynamic valley to the last developments, we logged 100 miles. Spanish Fork was not a specially busy town three years ago. Now, as the unhindered economic snake of progress and building links the valley together, it hosts Costco and it’s nicer fuel prices.

We failed to count the numerous Costco’s along this corridor of powerful economic development continually grows. We stay periodically at the Willard Bay RV park next to the marina. The water level is about 18 feet lower than three years ago. Smaller boats can still launch. Entrance fee, just to look around, is ten dollars. The docks are laying flat on dirt. Last trip large boats were at the docks.

This is the fresh water for irrigating the valley. It is divided from the Great Salt Lake by a causeway about 20 miles long. Wiper, a laboratory fish, of crossbred Bass is sterile, but really fights on the sports line. Many other fish are stocked, even thriving during this drought when snowfall has not produced the run-off of years past.

Smith and Edwards is a great store nearby that offers vast browsing for whatever one might need. Leaving after our ‘spree’ for the big country of Idaho Falls. It’s Snake River ‘falls’ are interesting, photogenic and have a story about the services to cross the river during the gold rush days,extending into the Copper rush that built the infrastructure of electrical power lines and copper wiring for the USA.

The days of prosperity due to mining are waning across many areas today. Blame restrictions, regulations and govt ‘control’ for the environmentalists planned demise. The city park is busy with farmers markets on Saturdays. We parked overnight at the Sam’s Club after fueling for $3.50 a gallon and nearby propane fill to last our trip.

46 years ago Navigator and I were married, so we celebrated with a shared delicious house sirloin steak at Applebees. We walked around Sam’s looking at jewelry as if buying Nav a gift, before leaving their parking lot RV ‘camp’.

Butte Montana:
Our next days target, is another western state route of desolation that unnerves many tourists. The lack of trucks is noted. Steep hills and low gears are common. Butte was the site of the deep mines of Copper ore. Clark is notable as one of the ‘Copper Kings’. Anaconda Copper survives to this day, primarily in other countries more favorable to mining. His only daughter, Hugette Clark died recently, leaving a few mansions that were seldom occupied. She lived back east in seclusion and secrecy.

Walmart ‘camp’ is across the street from the cemetery where famous ‘Evel Knevel’ is buried. Last trip, I paid my respects, as a former motor cycle rider naturally would.

Missoula Montana:
Our next goal for the day’s driving. Costco fuel and lunch of polish dog and pizza, were the target. After fill of fuel and drive for evening camp at little known treasure, ‘Sloway’ National Campground, for $5 Golden Age, with no hook-ups. Nice little campground and quiet except for an occasional Union Pacific freight hauling 100 car ‘consists’ including periodic Boeing airliner fuselages along the Clark Fork River. Rode the bike around the quiet little camp as I visited with a few campers. Steel boxes placed separate for food storage keep the tenter’s food away from their tents….. Bears…

Each night’s temperature is ten degrees lower as we drive north. Last night at Butte was 35 degrees. Fall is approaching.
9-7-14:

passing freight of 111 ‘well’ cars moving containers west (empty?) noted at 3pm while in Sloway campground. Another passed at 4:15 pm with 96 cars loaded hopper cars with three engines pull, one pusher. Another loud freight at midnight.

White packets of pheromone chemistry, MCH organic, to fool the Beatles infesting the pine trees. 41 degrees morning as Missoula is lower than Butte Montana. Costco was very crowded and fule $3.53. Cheaper than three years ago.

9-18-14 left Sloway National Park Camping:
Westward on I-90 over Lookout Summit, after leaving the Clark Fork River Valley of Montana. Roadside point of interest informed of the 1910 forest fire that consumed over 3,000,000 acres of forest. 3 Million acres is a big fire. 30 years worth of USA’s annual CO2, all produced in one big blaze.

EDWARD PULASKI:
Famous firefighter who’s name is to this day, on numerous pieces of equipment, even city streets, saved his forest firefighters (85 others perished) by leading them into a mine shaft until the conflagration had subsided. We stopped at Kellogg Idaho for lunch just off highway. Also, as Navigator had noted 3 years ago, they have city provided RV holding tank dump station with fresh water fill. Leave donation to keep it operating. Very nice.

9-8-14 Kellogg to CoerD’lene Idaho:
Pleasant drive with increasing traffic on approach to this tourism destination. The beautiful lake in the mountains attracts people from around the world. We passed through on our way toward Spokane Washington, where we intend to turn north toward Wenatche, near the Columbia River Valley that produces the nation’s fruit.

The vast fields of wheat seen from horizon to horizon on last trip, were already harvested on this trip, later in the year. No great fields of waving grain, just tilled soil ready for the winter crop. We then turned south on Hwy 17 for overnight in Sun Lake State Park. Shock at price of $42 on dirt and gravel with hook-up under trees. The lake is not far and popular with swimming visitors and camps of recreational groups. Rode the bike around the area to ascertain it’s main reason for visitors… the lake, provided by the Columbia River water.

A Deer family were puzzled by me on a bike. Not noticing the Deer until I was within their group, they allowed me to ride in among them before wandering away.

9-9-14 Moses Lake destination south:
After change in plans considering the $55 ferry transport to Whidbey Island and the ensuing traffic around the cities, the drive along the river lakes was different and interesting. Foam along the shore of the lake was apparently natural. Moses Lake Washington was at one time a plan for a spaceport that never occurred. Nice long runway and lots of infrastructure in anticipation, now provides for a lot of agriculture. This entire area of the northwest is dependent on the magnificent Columbia River for its’ irrigation and prosperity.

Kennewick fuel at Costco:
$3.64 on the Washington side of the Columbia. The Dallles is on the south side along our new route plan. Rail freight is prolific along the Columbia River, both sides have several long trains with seven engines pulling and more pulling, in view at all times. Natural Geology is magnificent along the river. We never fail to be amazed by the view. Volcanic lava formed the entire Pacific West Coast. The remains of the ancient violence are fertile and breathtaking.

Memaloose State Park:
A nice camping park along the river, was noted by Nav from former trips. Trees and more trees is the Washington state, as approach to the Pacific is made. Bike ride around the hilly park, was exercise before bed. $28 and far more pleasant than Sun Lake RV park.

Memaloose was an Indian name referring to the nearby burial site of the dead on an island now in the river after damming. The Columbia River valley is sustainable economically, only because of damming. There are those extremely vocal and political people that want the dams, all dams removed from the USA. They apparently care not, in actuality hold contempt for the prosperity and sustenance of US civilization.

Portland Oregon 9-10-14:
Our goal after Memaloose camp.
Navigator noted a truck bypass. Do Not take the truck route. You will get a long extended tour of Portland’s port and transportain facility. It is huge and traffic of trucks keep you busy avoiding them. Portland is just that, a large port for international shipping. Always thriving, it is a city to avoid in a large motor coach. We were warned about camping in Walmart. Two security guards that warned us, are required to protect the store after closing … early. Highway 30 west of Portland is nice, a pleasant drive, even with occasional log trucks, but do not do the truck routes.

Astoria Oregon:
To cross over the wonderful Astoria-Meglar Bridge, is a real adventure always enjoyed. The wide Columbia River flows under the 5 mile long bridge, with it’s elevated section for big ships to pass beneath.

Chinook and Ilwaco Washington:
We enjoy the river drive through Chinook and Iwaco on entrance to Cape Disappointment State Park. $54 for two nights only, was the availability for this well designed and popular RV and camping park on the shore of the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

“O the Joy” were the Lewis and Clark party words documented on seeing the vast “Ocian’ from the first lookout point. 8 am waing inline was our only way to obtain a n extension with a site move. We took another two nights so that we could tour the Washington Long Beach Peninsula. Always interesting to visit the little settlements along the highway north. The building boom has even caused the houses to be more densely constructed.

One structure on the shoreline, a curiosity that really attracted Navigator and her camera, caused us to drive the beach sand in our Honda-Jeep. The ‘water tower’ of legal description, more resembles a lighthouse. Owned by a wealthy Salt Lake businessman, it is a piece of his shoreline empire that encloses the national park end of the peninsula ???

‘Jack’s Country Store’ is more a large trading post. Every conceivable item is sold at Jacks. If a resident, no need to ever go to a city for supplies. Jacks has everything.

Our ocean front site is only a few steps from the black sand beach. The ‘Wagon Wheel’ repeated design allows many people to camp near the shoreline and listen to the waves roar. The roar of the ocean lulls us to sleep.

Navigator noted only 10.5 VDC on our house batteries. Usually they read 12.8 VDC while no load. I dragged out the meters and read each 6 volt battery separately under load and determined that two were indeed lower than 6 volts. By reconfiguring the cables and using the stronger two batteries in series, I was able to restore over 12 VDC temporarily.

A trip to Astoria/Warrenton Oregon for four Golf Cart battery replacements at $320 with no tax, followed the local Seaside battery shop’s price of $200 more than Costco. Would have been charitable to support local Washington Peninsula business, but we left that to the wealthy philanthropists camping on the peninsula. Big guy at Costco lifted out the old set and installed the new set of four Interstate batteries into place. I did the cable connections to my cabling drawing.

After the restoration of voltage, Navigator and I ate lunch in Costco $3.51. No sales Tax in Oregon, so the necessities are somewhat cheaper. While in Warrenton Oregon, Goodwill Charity nearby had a few small ‘treasures’. Ft Stevens State Park, our next camp, is first come first serve. We drove back to Cape Disappointment to our campsite.

Nav and I trekked the nearby path of pod #2, to the black sand beach for a last view of the ocean and the lighthouse of North Head. Just a few years ago she could walk the beach and enjoyed it dearly. No longer able. The Chinese lifeboat that we monitored for many years, as storms relocated it each winter, is reduced to random shreds of orange fiberglass rubble and the little rusted lump of diesel engine is sitting upright in the sand near the pathway. Time changes everything. Rode the bike around the extensive popular campsites before nightfall.

9-12-14:
Lined up at office for our next site in the front grassy park with no hook-ups. Still quiet and nice on grass. Pavement continues up the hill to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and the US Coast Guard Station, as well as the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. We were able to obtain the wifi code from ‘Serious Pizza store, across the way, near the entrance. Nice owner with wife works hard to run the little store they refurbished and make great pizzas. Years ago he had the little shack near the lecture site of Waikiki Beach, near the entrance curve to the camping pods. The storm ravaged little beach was named after a ship’s sailing crew member from Hawaii, years ago.

Battery voltage dropping again. Nav alerted me to low readings on little Walmart digital meter that we keep plugged into lighter socket while dry camping. I had failed to fully tighten the nuts on the cables. After minor adjustment, the voltage held high throughout the entire trip.

Drove into Ilwaco for excellent Codfish and chips, lunch at ‘Ole Bobs’ on the harbor. Saturday, so the little harbor-side trade booths were set up. Lots of crafts, art and other trinkets are interesting. ‘Harbor Lights’ motel and cafe is for sale now, as is seen more and more as we travel. A formerly thriving business is now closing it’s extensive nautical gift shop as well. Signs of the ‘change’ the voters brought upon themselves?
Returned to Cape Disappointment for one last night before moving south across the Columbia River.

9-14-14:
Broke camp and dumped our tanks. Nav watched as a class C rental unit, driven by an impatient young man, filled the fresh water tank of his unit,…. using the sewer brown tank cleanout hose at the dump station… Yuk. She mentioned that she would not like to be the next renter of that unit. Oh well, with age comes wisdom…sometimes.

Drove our rig one last time south across the beautiful Astoria-Meglar bridge to Astoria. It is under continual restoration, so a slight delay. Ft Stevens near Warrenton opens early, so we wanted to get site of preference. They are all very nice sites, on circular loop paved roads embraced by big trees. Ft Stevens itself is fascinating to explore. A bit of  driving and walking tours around the various and extensive, historical concrete structures, that at times guarded the Columbia River on both sides and river front from attack, proves very educational each visit. The Pacific Northwest was well guarded, even attacked a couple of times. Highly technical, the revolutionary for their time, ‘hiding’ cannons were controlled by triangulation co-ordinates.

Two nights in coastal forest for $54 with basic electrical hook-ups, was very pleasant in comparison to several other random places we have visited over the years. Summer season has Ranger Talks on weekends. ‘Graveyard of the Pacific’ describes the hundreds of shipwrecks around the mouth of the Columbia River. Coast Guards from around the world come to the Columbia River to train at the violent current area of the offshore ‘Bar’, where the out flowing, river meets incoming tide during the winter storms.

Warrenton Oregon was ‘Cod and fries’ along with a bit of treasure hunting in charity thrift shops. Returned to coach, rode the bike around the entire park and an evening of logging our trip and reading before a quiet night.

9-15-14:
Breakfast, with electric heater to take the night chill off the interior, after which we explored the South Jetty. Still in awe of the Jetties of the Columbia River. These massive rock structures were constructed during the 1800’s, using railroad cars to haul the 30 ton ‘Armor stones’ out over the ocean, to be dumped in place, preventing the ocean from changing the channel current while enabling the river to flush the deep water passages for maritime navigation by huge freighters.  Rebuilt many years ago, they are scheduled for future restoration. The Armor stones originally came from Idaho by barge before being loaded aboard specially constructed, dumping rail cars pulled by steam locomotives, as the trestles and rails were continually being extended far out into the ocean. Men of steel, with nerves to match?

Peter Iredale:
The wreck’s prow is still visible, extending up from the sandy beach. An Iron hulled sailing ship, it ran aground 100 years ago. Storms this last winter exposed temporarily, the keel. The iron plates were savaged from the hull many long years ago. Climbed the observation deck while Navigator waited, taking pictures from the Honda-Jeep.

Drove out to the river side beach and watched a large ocean freighter leave Young’s Bay for the river mouth. Noted Driver’s License had expired and drove to Astoria to find out if we could contact New Mexico DMV for extension? Not possible. Easier to acquire an Oregon DL than NM from out of state. I just drove very carefully, not desiring police attention after that.

Thrift store treasures hunted, then return to Ft Stevens and chilly coach, requiring the electric heater again.

9-16-14: through 9-19:
Left Ft Stevens State Park and drove the intersting coastal 101 south to Brighton Harbor. We like the ambiance of the little privately owned fishing and crabbing harbor. Kelly and his wife run it now. His mom owns the next fishing harbor south, so they have the experience requred to manage the busy little marina, provide crabs and gear to fish for whatever is in season. Kelly boiled a large Dungeness Crab ($23) for Nav and I to eat for supper in the coach. Only one night stay, after a bit of exploring back up the coast in the Honda, and we left around noon.

Tillamook River RV Park:
Base for two nights as we explore the capes, Tillamook and points further back north. Noted that prices are rising as rapidly inflation affected Obama Dollars do not go very far. Even thrift stores are feeling the rising costs as their expenses are rising faster than their sales. Last time we stayed in this little park, a big Blue Heron electrocuted itself on the power transformer. It sounded like an explosion and knocked out power for the afternoon. Eagles have nested and raised their young in the trees nearby. Nehalem recycle center ‘Re-Store’ has organized and raised prices. Interesting, but no longer attractive for our needs.

9-19-14 leave Tillamook River RV camp:
Newport Harbor Marina:
70 miles south on 101 is always beautiful to drive. Each curve presents a panorama of ocean. Found my old ‘Popeye’ the sailor man, Keith and I discussed the marina as if we had never changed over the years. He is aging as I am. His Samoan wife is still working for the marina, as is Keith. They live aboard their sailing boat, as they have since arrival, sailing from the Philippines many years ago when we first met..

We discussed the numerous boats that are being neglected during these economically weak times. ‘Silent Running’, a beautiful sailing cruiser that was meticulously maintained three years ago, is now falling into the status of neglect. Walking the docks for many years, I recognize many of the same boats at dock. Not a good economy time for recreational sailing.

Commercial and sport fishing are doing extremely well. The effect of the China Industrial Revolution is feeding nutrients to the Arctic Ocean and the source of molecular life. Those cells in turn feed the chain of marine life upward. Fishing is great. I observed a man wheeling a load of sleek Tuna to the cleaning table, then for sale to the restaurant business. He had returned from the 35 mile horizon, where the big fish lurk. Environmentalists refer to the airborne iron compounds released from China, as ‘pollution’ and desire it being ‘controlled’, their only response to everything they do not fully comprehend.

Sea Lions are still barking across the harbor. They survive and multiply, protected by law on the harbor jetty and the docks. One grabbed a little girl from dock, as her dad unloaded their sport fishing boat. After taken down, the Sea Lion released her to survive. The harbor front shops are interesting and Mo’s is still thriving with waiting lines for their Clam Chowder and fish dinners.

9-20 to 922:
Trip back north to Lincoln in the Honda Tow, where we prowl around a few favorite places and have Fish lunch. Another trip back along the river to the logging town of Toledo Oregon, named by the son of a businessman. The sun missed Toledo Ohio.

Following the Yaquina River upstream nine miles from Newport to Toledo, a small (population 3,600) deep water port town of historic note as a lumber logging mecca in the days before the world’s ‘do gooder’ tree lovers. Toledo was at one time, lasting almost a hundred years, thriving and logs were floating 24-7 in hundreds of ‘rafts’ downriver from the surrounding mountains of the Cascades, to the rail terminals and barges.

Feeding the lumber demand of a building nation, was Toledo’s role, ‘back in the day’ ending in the 1960’s. The Yaquina River is still structured with the vertical pilings that tied off the log rafts awaiting transport and the countless docks and piers serving the needs of the accompanying Toledo boat building industry. A profitable business that also thrived from the spruce production. Fishing, the west coast’s bread and butter, drove the boat demands.

WWI aircraft were also built from spruce processed in Toledo Oregon. ‘Spruce Goose’ as well? Toledo hosts a ‘Wooden Boat’ gathering each year.

Toledo was one of many great little business opportunity cities that were scattered across the USA. All that is near dead now, except for a processing mill that seems to generate sawdust slurry for particle board, more than logs for lumber. The little ‘Art’ colony now depends on tourists to buy ‘stuff’ for it’s existence.

The mountains surrounding Toledo are now becoming overgrown with timber, getting prepared for massive forest fires. ‘Save the Trees’ is in reality setting them up for total destruction and waste, while adding mega tons of CO2 to the atmosphere. Sometimes universities and their misguided special interest groups, create the problems they then fight by passing counterproductive laws, while they wring  their hands attempting to solve the problems they create?

Navigator discovered a few unique items in one little museum like shop, the home to a nice cat with blue eyes. The shop owner, retired Marine was happy to sell his first items in the last three days. One item was a little old paddle with wooden chickens that pecked the seeds when the paddle was gently swung in a circle. Is that different or not ? :>)

Toledo is near the beginning of the longest highway across America, ending near Boston. Highway 20 is the western end of that historic road from east to west. Two lanes of mostly blacktop, it winds over 300 miles through the Cascade Mountains and crosses the Oregon desert into Idaho.

We are checking this desolate route, little used but scenic over the mountains, as an alternative route bypassing smoky (logging prohibited) and therefore burning, northern California. Being a narrow, twisty two lane, hwy 20 is not motor coach friendly. Neither is coastal highway 101, but that is our chosen scenic route along the pacific coast of Oregon.

Today we ate burgers for lunch, passing up the fish and chips temporarily. :>) Tomorrow we plan to head south for further adventures, leaving our beloved historic ‘Conde McCullough’ master engineered bridge of Newport and checking out the beautiful Pacific coast of Oregon.

9-22-14 Salmon Harbor, Winchester Bay:
The drive south was fine and filled with photo opportunities. Re-Fuel at Florence, the beginning of the north end of the National Coastal Sand Dunes (really Big dunes with forests growing all over them) that extend visibly along the highway for over 20 miles. As the dunes grow, by wind that increasingly blows sand inland, the pine trees and other species take root and climb ever higher. Small fresh water lakes and lagoons are spread throughout the dunes inland.

This area encourages ATV and motorcycles rather than descriminate against the riders. Winchester Bay has rentals for those that do not bring their own ‘Off Highway Vehicles’. No telling if the environmentalists will force legislation to end this sport, thereby eliminating the livelihood of the numerous campgrounds and motels, restaurants and little stores catering to the excited tourists that arrive from all over the nation. Fishing attracts even more goal oriented visitors.

The beautiful Umpqua lighthouse, inland from the ocean, with it’s majestic original Fresnel lens, still operates. Restored for the benefit of tourism. A small gift shop is located in the museum, a former light keeper residence. Modern navigation has little need for such historic methods of navigation. Some absolute fool shot at the historic lens and damaged it years ago.

I watched as the ‘Pearl J’ offloaded it’s fish from it’s hold packed in ice. The lift operator places the container where the forklift places it on the scale. The operator then collects the data onto his smart device for recording. Only a small note pad backs up the reading. A boat from ‘Deadliest Catch’, Grizzly, a deep water fishing boat, is also docked here when not in Alaska. With the fishing so good along the Pacific Coast, the big boats can earn even more profit out of Winchester Bay.

Rates, $30 for two nights, for overnight on the parking lot with no facilities, are double what they were three years ago. Another sign of the decreasing value of Obama dollars. $10 to dump and a limit of only 20 customers per day, set the stage for our departure early.
A ‘Wolf Creek’ brand camper in front of us, has a hybrid Wolf for a pet.

9-23-14:
Drove north back to Reedsport for treasure hunting in small shops and a delicious take-out Blackberry pie from the bakery in the old part of town near the river, while partaking of their wifi.

Returned to Winchester Bay:
Brought a ‘Fish and Chips’ from the floating Cafe ‘Ungar’s Bay’ owned by Cassie, who now also operates the Blue Heron tavern in Coos Bay.

Talking to a sailing aficionado at the dock late in the afternoon, was a very interesting four hour marathon of exchange between our cultures, history and political differences of opinion. He has ridden a bicycle from British Columbia to Saskatchewan. A liberal Canadian pensioner, employed by govt all of his life, we had our differences. He has sailed to Mexico and Hawaii and returned to British Columbia, his home port as a ‘live aboard’. This cruise is to San Francisco and across the Pacific Ocean on the ‘trade winds’ documented by Murray’ after the WWII years.

One hundred years of sailing knowledge accumulated from hundreds of sea going ocean captains, Murray compiled the first sailing charts necessary for the success of every sailing vessel today.

Kevin brought out his charts, showed me the intricacies of the winds and ocean currents during our discussions. Described in detail his 40 foot fiberglass double ender vessel with it’s yanmar auxiliary diesel engine, built in indonesia, purchased in an estate sale in British Columbia where it harbors near Victoria. The full height cabin ceiling is inlaid strips of fine teak, as is the fit and finish of the cabinetry.

Kevin designed and installed a heat transfer system to bring the propane heated air inside the cabin, lower to the floor where the chill settles. It is his compact, efficient home afloat. Rare is the privilege to meet an intelligent person like Kevin, rarer still to be invited aboard. Weather is about as expected this time of year on the Oregon coast. 59 degrees and cloudy days, cooled and rained all night.

The boats that are neglected in this wet harbor, show it fast with green growing ‘fur’ over all of the decks and lines. Birds and their excrement add to the accumulation of neglect, creating questionably, a work of art? Kevin noted his own active vessel accumulating a bit of ‘furry’ growth on it’s surfaces as he awaits in harbor, the favorable north winds to drive his 40′ sailing craft further south, then turn west to Hawaii and then, Kevin mentioned as if a common natural occurrence, circumnavigate the world..

The woman owner of the ‘Staten Yacht’ a Pirate ship facsimile, is living aboard temporarily and restoring it for sale after her husband passed away. The mast had to be cut away to save the structure after rot. Deck house must be replaced and numerous items need attention.

Navigator and I drove back to Reedsport in the tow, 3 miles back north. A crippled tourist town dependent on tourism and fishing,  several of the formerly prosperous, small tourist malls (small buildings with several vendors) were now closed. A couple remain that we recognized from past trips.

Now we are headed to Coo’s Bay and plan to camp in the casino lot free for two nights before deciding what direction to proceed. Home is one option, due to my expired driver’s license not renewable on line, crossing into regulatory obsessed California, especially with our two little travelers (turtle and bird) is now extremely risky.

9-24-14 Coos Bay Oregon:
It took a short amount of time to drive the rig the scenic 25 or so miles south from Winchester Bay, to the harbor town of Coos Bay. The first item of interest is another impressive coastal Oregon bridge. A large bow tie shaped green array of steel girders set in place among concrete ramp structures many years ago, it does form a high clearance for shipping, a majestic scene over the harbor entrance.

The harbor itself is an abstract horseshoe of large proportion, that wraps around and forms the front street of the city facing inland away from the ocean. At one time the city was right on the harbor docks, but a massive fire removed the city location, to a few blocks away from the harbor waterfront and brought about the new city, wisely built of bricks rather than volatile wooden frame.

The main reason for the city’s early existence, was the harbor and connected waterways to enable trade goods from San Francisco to arrive by way of ship. Coal and timber were Coos Bay products. The overland routes from the interior of Oregon were long and twisty mountain trails for wagons and horses.

Timber was and still is the main ingredient in the city’s economics. The individual mills at one time numbered in the hundreds of small enterprises. The railroads were of course drawn like a magnet and further changed Coos Bay’s economy into a politically powerful economic demographic.

With the acquisitions by the politically powerful Timber Barons, two main mills today survived the uncertainties of economic times and gradually acquired the small units. Simpson family was one noted in history. One beautiful estate overlooking the wave ravaged entrance to the stormy harbor, was burned to the ground during misfortunes of the once powerful Simpson family. A ship wreck on the rocks below the high bluff, provided the lumber to rebuild the large home, site to several lavish parties for the elite. The creative and expansive garden structure survives today as an Oregon state park, open to visitors…. for a fee.

Today we drove out past the early port town of Charleston, where we had fish and chips at a small family owned facility near their small popular harbor, to the Simpson Point. An artist’s dream, where the river bar meets the tides in a jumble of large volcanic rocks littered with seals, seal lions and every other related sea going mammal. Did you know that the ‘Elephant’ Sea Lion (with it’s big floppy nose) can dive to over 4,000 feet deep? It weighs up to 5,000 pounds… wet.

The average Sea Lion can weigh up to only 2,000 pounds. A virtual lightweight in comparison. The diminutive common Seal is a furry toy. They all congregate at one time or another on these inhospitable rocks lashed with ferocious wave action. We watched a few surfers brave the rocky vertical shoreline to impress themselves with their skill at surviving the surf, which today was running high, before it crashed onto subsurface, ancient volcanic flow rocks. Craft punishing waves approaching 19 feet, were reported on the ‘bar’, that often violent section where outgoing river meets incoming ocean tidal cycles.

Navigator and I tour this area each time we pass through, over the several years of our travels. Today we find relatively few treasures in the charity thrift shops everywhere we stop, a vast difference from even several years ago, when more wealth resulted in more quality discards.

The overall prosperity from the logging of the surrounding tree covered mountains where rain falls in abundance, is still evident, but ever more advanced mechanization removes the human element from the equation. Demands for ever rising wages, made from the vocal and politically motivated, have the end result in ever more machines to replace costly  humans.

The surviving big mills are still churning huge numbers of logs into timbers, but machines do the work formerly requiring large teams of manpower. We watch endless trucks with logs go into the large wood facilities, as others leave stacked with precision cut lumber for industrial demand elsewhere.

The Japanese ships that are fully automated, loading logs from their own Oregon mountainsides, bought many long years ago for the express purpose of growing timber, still rule the harbor in volume exported.

The highly technical, automated ships process the Japanese owned logs, cut on their own bought and payed for mountain forests of Oregon, as a floating mill. The cargo then moves out of port while the onboard mills continue operating 24-7. Destined to various demanding cities, including LA and SFO. The milled lumber is to spec, demanded by Home Depo and any other quantity buyers.

The Oregonians rage among themselves politically, at the audacity of Japan to be so creative and deprive Oregonians of the jobs and timber, Oregonians self righteously demand as….. theirs.

The boardwalk has on display tied to the docks, several very large ocean tugs used in maneuvering the big ships in the deep ‘turning basin’ of Coos Bay. Several other smaller ships of historic nature, not as bulky, but still interesting, are on display as well. All orderly arrayed in the general area near the city center, easily accessed by tourists.

Our formerly free overnight campsite in the large and open gravel parking lot of the Old Mill Casino, on the former site of a large dockside lumber mill, now charges $15 a night for the parking lot dry camp. Up until a year or so ago, it was free, as the overnight guests used the Casino facilities and played it’s games of chance.

Apparently the ‘new economy’ with it’s free services for the rapidly expanding numbers of underprivileged, does not cover the amenities once offered free. A common scene now that the reality of Obama dollars dropping value requires a lot more wealth redistribution…. to buy everything of value.

We will leave the Oregon coast tomorrow, heading inland for a couple of reasons including state of California border restrictions involving Nav’s little bird. Reluctant also to enter California and it’s smoky fire engulfed landscape from ‘Saving’ too many trees, leaving the forest to burn, we are contemplating foregoing our beloved Brookings Harbor in Oregon’s southern banana belt. Perhaps another time in the future?

9-25-14 Coos Bay to Medford Oregon:
About 200 miles in 4 hours. Beautiful two lane highway with improvements in progress. Green trees, bushes, grass is closest to the coast. Less fungi inland, along with more tree variations. Meeting oncoming Log trucks every few minutes indicates a strong local economy.

One estate sale near Mertyl Oregon, with home in the forest overlooking a small river, resulted in a few little treasures and nice conversation with elderly lady. Nav wanted to buy the little house in the forest :>) Continue on to Medford Oregon. Prosperity obvious where logging and ranching is active. Lots of contented cows and green pastures.

Carl’s Jr burgers 2 for $5 with country music, first heard since Montana week of trip. Walmart at north end of Medford on Crater Lake highway is best for parking lot ‘camp’. Newer store, Eagle Point further out than the busy city store. Drove back into city center for thrift store hunt and treasures.

9-26-14 leave Medford Oregon.
Costco fuel was $3.49 per gallon fill, then take highway 140 east toward NM. Beautiful drive over the Cascade Mountains passes near a mile high. Lots of lower gear… up and back down.

Klamath:
is 4,000′ altitude and cold in winter.  Medford lower and milder winter. Where Medford with it’s lumber mills and manufacturing appears prosperous, Klamath Falls appears distressed. Homeless in abundance on day we were passing through, defines Klamath, as does vacant store fronts. Rail terminals should provide some resources? The city center is attractive with inlaid bricks crosswalks and restored brick store fronts, cafes. Nice city park shows that they are trying.

Wendy’s lunch and leave for Lakeview 90 miles away on highway 140 now a narrow two lane, with ongoing construction straightening out the curves through the mountain passes. Farmland that requires irrigation to grow crops. Easily becomes desert without water from mountain snow. Fields of hay, beef cattle and many horses dot the landscape.

Lakeview County Fair was open for camping easing doubts of Navigator. $5 for the night in parking lot with no facilities. Quiet ‘camp’ and a local gun show was setting up for Saturday. I walked through and enjoyed the pre-show in the little display hall, before returning to coach for the night.

9-27-14 Saturday leave Lakeview Oregon:
Windy night in the fairground. Nice to get rolling again after breakfast. Forests covered the eastern slope of the mountain as we growled and twisted our way to elevation of 6,000′.

Desolation valley after the forest. One particular climb of a long ‘shelf’,  growled the coach to about 3,000′ + above the valley floor, with no real hard edge on the narrow two lane highway. Long way to roll if a mistake was made. I assume a few have rolled their way to the bottom?

Met about 24 vehicles and one 18 wheeler on the entire trip east out of Lakeview Oregon. The climbs revealed a wide spread valley with high mesas that resembled the moon. Only irrigation saves it from desert. Nav drove onward toward busy hwy 95, where we turn south to Winimucca Nevada and Interstate 80. Hank Snow “I been everywhere man” comes to mind when we hear Winimucca.

Casinos and fuel at $3.45 Flying J. Cod specials at Long John Silver’s before truckin’ away to Elko Nevada. Prosperity more apparent in Nevada, where they mine the earth quietly out of sight of the environmentalists and gamble their paychecks.

Elko Nevada is Walmart camp, leave 9-28-14:
On the hill just off the highway, Walmart is easy to find. We love Walmart. Camping is cheap and supplies are just a walk away. I usually spend time wandering the aisles and gathering a few items like Marvel Mystery Oil, the machinery saving oil added to fuel, that is rarely found in eco-obsessed states like California.

After breakfast we roll down the exit hill and across more moonscape toward Wendover Utah. As we top out on approach to the Great Salt Lake Desert, we are greeted with a vast expanse of … water. First time we have seen the flat salt soaking wet. 100 miles of shallow soaked wet salt with periodic tracks leading off the highway where drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel. This is one long flat, straight highway. I can imagine the repairs to fix the salt encrusted mechanicals after a fast ride into the salt slop followed by a quick stop. Big rigs temporarily leave their front end fiberglass behind as markers.

The same storm that soaked Phoenix, soaked the Great Salt Lake Desert, leaving it a dirty beige, rather than the pristine white normally observed. Salt tolerant weeds thrive when it rains. No intricately flying rocketry was seen this trip. Dugway proving ground puts on a show periodically, that can easily be watched from the highway across the salt desert.

Approaching Salt Lake City, Morton Salt is busily harvesting ‘product’. Dealing with salt. Eat the stuff, it’s prolific here. Kennicott is busy with it’s huge complexes of whatevers, producing more of what it sells. Looks like it is on break today, as we drive past the large infrastructures and around the mountain toward the Salt Lake itself.

Our goal is Spanish Fork where we fueled on trip to the west. This time Nv took us on a shortcut.  Today fuel was cheaper at $3.21. Spanish Fork, which has developed rapidly over the last years, is at the southern end of the 100 mile corridor that relates and intertwines economically to Salt Lake City.

The Salt Lake itself is only a small remaining percentage of the large basin that was formerly a vast inland sea. We ate Costco Polish Dog and Pizza before continuing on to Green River Utah State Park, where we camped on way northwest four weeks ago.

The vast expanses of earth’s resultant plate tectonics causing geologic uplifts, are really brilliantly lighted as the sun sets. The layer cake of strata from eons of ‘Climate Change’ are outstanding. Range and Basin western states geology is photogenic today.

South to 7,000′ Soldier Summit pass, into Price Canyon, following the railroads down to lower elevation, rewarded us with a few trains today. Our campsite was tight in between trees. Rain and hail followed our registration. I had to put the bike away fast and watch the storm from inside the coach.

Navigator extracted the coach from the greedy trees as I monitored from outside. Dumped the tanks and headed toward New Mexico by way of Moab and Monticello, Southwestern Colorado’s irrigated farmland, through simpler landscape to Shiprock NM and turn east back to Farmington NM for the night camp in Sam’s Club.

Fuel was $3.45 at Farmington Sam’s, due to four corners fuel price controls, historically by one family. Nav found ABQ fuel ‘Gas Buddy’ at $2.94, so we only added enough to make it to ABQ. Sam’s ABQ fill, a quart of  Marvel Mystery Oil added and home to park in driveway for 2 days of unloading. While engine was still warm, I crawled beneath the coach to grease the 13 fittings, drain the oil and change the filter. Fill with new oil and refill the batteries with distilled water. Even new, they took 16 ounces for each of the four batteries totaling 1/2 gallon.

Unloading treasures and supplies took two days. Chores, mowing the tall grass in the back yard and restoring other necessities, takes a bit of unwind time after an extended trip. The horizons seen, memories to store, are worth every penny spent. What an amazing country, The United States of America, One Nation Under God. God Bless .

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