WWII Fighter Pilot at Iwo Jima

WWII Fighter Pilot at Iwo Jima.

They simply don’t make ’em like this any more.

Take five minutes to watch this video interview — and listen carefully to what he says and how he says it.

I promise you, you won’t regret a second of it.

Ask yourself,
how many of the few surviving WWII veterans kept themselves and their uniform in such good condition for over 70 years and can still proudly wear it?
Notice his superb delivery, no teleprompter,

no script — just a 91-year-old fighter pilot
representing the greatest generation at home and abroad

who won WWII.

He has some surprises and a great take on the philosophy of life.


Capt. Jerry Yellin, from Fairfield, Iowa, flew the final combat mission in World War II. World War II veterans visit Iwo Jima for the 70th anniversary Mar. 21 in commemoration of the end of World War II.



P-51 impressed Canadian boy

This 1967 true story is of an experience by a young 12 year old lad in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. It is about the vivid memory of a privately rebuilt P-51 from WWII, and its famous owner/pilot.

In the morning sun, I could not believe my eyes. There, in our little airport, sat a majestic P-51.
They said it had flown in during the night from some U.S. Airport, on its
way to an air show. The pilot had been tired, so he just happened to
choose Kingston for his stop over.  It was to take to the air very
soon.  I marveled at the size of the plane, dwarfing the Pipers and
Canuck’s tied down by her. It was much larger than in the movies. She
glistened in the sun like a bulwark of security from days gone by.

The pilot arrived by cab, paid the driver, and then stepped into the pilot’s
lounge.  He was an older man; his wavy hair was gray and tossed. It
looked like it might have been combed, say, around the turn of the
century.  His flight jacket was checked, creased and worn – it
smelled old and genuine. Old Glory was prominently sewn to its
shoulders.  He projected a quiet air of proficiency and pride devoid
of arrogance.  He filed a quick flight plan to Montreal (“Expo-67 Air
Show”) then walked across the tarmac.

After taking several minutes to perform his walk-around check, the tall, lanky man returned to
the flight lounge to ask if  anyone would be available to stand by
with fire extinguishers while he “flashed the old bird up, just to be
safe.”  Though only 12 at the time I was allowed to stand by with an
extinguisher after brief instruction on its use — “If you see a fire,
point, then pull this lever!”, he said.  (I later became a
firefighter, but that’s another story.) 

The air around the exhaust
manifolds shimmered like a mirror  from fuel fumes as the huge prop
started to rotate.  One manifold, then another, and yet another
barked — I stepped back with the others.  In moments the Packard
-built Merlin engine came to life with a thunderous roar. Blue flames
knifed from her manifolds with an arrogant snarl.  I looked at the
others’ faces; there was no concern.  I lowered the bell of my
extinguisher.  One of the guys signaled to walk back to the lounge.
We did.

Several minutes later we could hear the pilot doing his pre-flight run-up. He’d taxied to
the end of runway 19, out of sight. All went quiet for several seconds. We
ran to the second story deck to see if we could catch a glimpse of the
P-51 as she started down the runway. We could not.  There we stood,
eyes fixed to a spot half way down 19. Then a roar ripped across the
field, much louder than before. Like a furious hell spawn set loose —
something mighty this way was coming. “Listen to that thing!” said the

In seconds the Mustang burst into our line of sight. It’s tail was already off the runway
and it was moving faster than anything I’d ever seen by that point on
19.  Two-thirds the way down 19 the Mustang was airborne with her
gear going up. The prop tips were supersonic.  We clasped our ears as
the Mustang climbed hellishly fast into the circuit to be eaten up by the
dog-day haze. We stood for a few moments, in stunned silence, trying to
digest what we’d just seen.

The radio controller rushed by me to the radio. “Kingston tower calling Mustang?”  He looked back to us as he waited for an acknowledgment. The radio crackled, “Go ahead, Kingston.”
“Roger, Mustang. Kingston tower would like to advise the circuit is clear
for a low level pass.”  I stood in shock because the controller had
just, more or less, asked the pilot to return for an impromptu air
show!  The controller looked at us. “Well, What?”  He asked. “I
can’t let that guy go without asking. I couldn’t forgive myself!”

The radio crackled once again,
“Kingston, do I have permission for a low level pass, east to west, across
the field?” “Roger, Mustang, the circuit is clear for an east to west
pass.” “Roger, Kingston, I’m coming out of 3,000 feet, stand by.”

We rushed back onto the second-story deck, eyes fixed toward the eastern haze. The sound
was subtle at first, a high-pitched whine, a muffled screech, a distant
scream. Moments later the P-51 burst through the haze. Her airframe
straining against positive G’s and gravity. Her wing tips spilling
contrails of condensed air, prop-tips again supersonic.

The burnished bird
blasted across the eastern margin of the field shredding and tearing the
air. At about 500 mph and 150 yards from where we stood she passed with
the old American pilot saluting. Imagine. A salute! I felt like laughing;
I felt like crying; she glistened; she screamed; the building shook; my
heart pounded.  Then the old pilot pulled her up and rolled, and
rolled, and rolled out of sight into the broken clouds and indelible into
my memory.

I’ve never wanted to be an American more than on that day!  It was a time when many nations
in the world looked to America as their big brother.  A steady and
even-handed beacon of security who navigated difficult political water
with grace and style; not unlike the old American pilot who’d just flown
into my memory.  He was proud, not arrogant, humble, not a braggart,
old and honest, projecting an aura of America at its best.

That America will return one day! I know it will!  Until that time, I’ll just send off this
story. Call it a loving reciprocal salute to a Country, and especially to
that old American pilot:  the late-JIMMY STEWART (1908-1997),  Actor, real WWII
Hero  (Commander of a US Army Air Force Bomber Wing stationed in
England), and later 1959, awarded USAF Reserves Brigadier General, (B-36, Peacemaker under SAC, B-47, and B-52) who wove a wonderfully
fantastic memory for a young Canadian boy that’s lasted a lifetime.

Holiday Rambler southestern USA Oct 2015

With full preparation and thorough testing of all systems after summer storage in back yard, we are now to the stage of countdown hours leaving home after loading Thunder Pig for another trip across the USA. With various clothing to cover ‘climate change’ as we travel, our happy motor coach left Albuquerque New Mexico on the first day of October 2015. 

Filled with high expectations for an enjoyable vacation tour returning toward the southeastern USA. Fall is usually met with excitement for the opposite direction, the coastal northwest. This year, with numerous fires clouding the air along the way, we returned to the Southeast.

Georgia is again in the plan with Chattanooga Tennessee as base for our first explorations. I-40 to Amarillo, 300 miles east of Albuquerque New Mexico, at an easy 70 miles per hour, and our usual ‘driving on the top half’, 1/2 tank of fuel, + 1/2 qt of Marvel Mystery Oil, added at Amarillo Sam’s Club. Thunder Pig is often able to travel over 600 miles on one 75 gal tank of fuel with Honda in tow at 70 mph.. if conditions are right.

Amarillo has a Cracker Barrel Restaurant similar to others that allow overnight ‘camp’ for RVs. A nice long space with grass and Oak trees outside our door, provides the quiet evening ambiance with a couple of other RVs in back of the restaurant. Evening meals are light, to ensure an easy sleep. Mine was Cracker Barrel ‘Beans and Greens’ with a a few hot cups of decaff coffee.

Morning stroll out of our door and into the Cracker Barrel, thanking them for being our host, we enjoyed a real breakfast of Sunrise Sampler and various additional items to cover our table. Lots of coffee to keep things washing down. We love Cracker Barrel.

Back onto the I-40 east out of Amarillo Texas at 70 mph in light traffic, moves us another 300 miles eastward in speedy fashion with no stops. Another fuel top off, of 1/2 tank and Marvel Mystery Oil settles us for another night at Walmart ‘camp’ Oklahoma and Oklahoma City Valero before rolling again. I enjoy an evening patrol of Walmart real estate before crawling into bed to watch local TV and sit at the laptop to check emails. Walmart, as does Sam’s Club, has WIFI that is often easy to use while in lot ‘camp’ overnight. 


10-2-2015 spent the night in Eufala State Park Oklahoma. Very nice state park with utilities for $24. Oct 3rd left at 11:30 am. Top off fuel Russelville Arkansas Walmart $1.95 gal and covernight ‘camp’.

Oct 4th, rural area near Russelville, checked out a navigator family cemetery from the 19th century.. Story told by a resident of many long years, is that the family patriarch built his own above ground crypt and died during the final stage, falling to the ground dead. They buried him in it, but the top fell in soon after, requiring a bit of rebuilding. Took a few pictures of the old family crypt as well as several other family grave plots in their own cemetery from the 1800’s..

Oct 5th stopped in the ‘Pyramid’ Bass Pro Shop, after crossing the bridge into Memphis Tennessee. The huge pyramid, formerly a grandiose city owned structure on the river front, was still in the process of being re-purposed by Bass last trip. Finished now, it is a site to see. The interior, with a Cypress swamp decor, has a glass elevator that soars to the peak. Rooms are available for guests overnight.

Leaving the Bass Pyramid, we stopped to view a helicopter overturned in the street, still attached to it’s transport trailer. The driver was on his phone, visibly shaken from his experience. Visited a warehouse of Victorian salvage items for restoration materials. Heading back to coach, we noted a stainless steel fifth wheel tanker from the sugar plant, laying nose down in the bushes on the street, due to the tractor latch coming undone. Interesting day in Memphis. Costco fuel at $1.89. Walmart Oakland Tennessee hwy 64 overnight.

Oct 6th left Oakland Tennessee for Chattanooga.

One fact navigator noted by traveling and watching nightly ‘news’, ‘Every’ US city has the exact same problems with society’s deviants, ‘career repeat offenders’ spoiling the peace and tranquility for the law abiding majority. Psychotic behavior seems to be tolerated and subsidized until it results in the death of a government official. The arresting officers. 

Then, true to the political agenda, the crime is politically blamed on the tool [gun] used.. Don’t think your town is bad, just because of ‘perpetual repeat offenders’ causing the overwhelming majority of problems. Every US town has it’s share. The entire USA legal system, with the USA’s obsession with chemically enhanced, perpetually subsidized dependency, is obviously at fault.

‘Camping’ in Walmart lots are frequent along our trips, with only small stops for food, often delis along the major highways, routes that we seldom travel. ‘Motor on’ is the logic when on these large interstates from point A to B.. 

We approach the heavy traffic of the cities of the busy southeastern states [including all large cities] with clenched grip of the steering wheel, the transmission out of overdrive, in lower gear with higher engine revs at max horsepower @ 3,200 RPM to facilitate rapid [for Thunder Pig] maneuvering. Now the games begin. Jockeying for position as we search for the desired exits and lane changes while on approach to a busy commercial city.

Winding up with big highway trucks and speeding cars, through low mountain passes, tunnels, up grades, down grades, around rivers, over bridges, taking sweeping overpasses in lane changes at the orders from navigator with her GPS. She is the controller of Thunder Pig, just as the bombardier controls the bombing run of a WWII B-29. I only adjust the steering maneuvers, the gear choices, speeds, braking and power to meet her instantaneous commands.

We bypass ‘Lookout Mountain’ enveloped in clouds high above Chattanooga, the Tramway and the several other tourist points noted on big signs along the highway. They are most likely fun for many people. Tunnels are approached with attention to the clearances posted. We have driven through a few very interesting battlefield historic sites of the south, during past trips. There are countless detailed. Chattanooga was pivotal during the conflict. The ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’ hotel is fun to visit, with overnights in the classic Pullman cars available as well as restaurants. Talented Dorothy Dandrige comes to mind whenever I think of that memorable song.

After a 5 day week ‘camp’ at the Holliday RV Park east of Chattanooga and prowling around the Chattanooga area with a brief foray into Ringold Georgia for Navigators antique interests.

Oct 11th Sunday morning top off with low priced fuel Costco $1.79. Robbins Georgia Walmart very quiet night camp in lot. After breakfast Oct 12th, we rolled south, continuing through Georgia toward Florida.  Noted Fuel @ $1.99 as approaching Florida. Tonight, after a short bit of intense traffic, we are in a tree covered Sam’s Club overnight in Tallassee Florida. Fuel @ $2.11.

Plan is to prowl a few thrift stores in Florida. Old folks, which Fla has countless retirees, apparently die and donate all of their worldly goods to charity.

The Floridians in the prosperous past, have left very nice ‘stuff’, as no one in their own families desires  it. One person’s trash is another person’s treasures. Great ‘pickens’ were previously found at charity thrifts in Florida. Lots of computers, so many, that several big charity stores in prosperous cities have large computer centers. Vehicles are donated in large numbers. So many vehicles, that they have Goodwill car lots.

Quality wall pictures are numerous for some reason only the donors know. Maybe the younger people today have far different tastes in art work?

One additional note from the tour. Traffic Interstate 75 through Atlanta was atrocious, with 14 lanes of traffic, all competing at high speed for position, exits and on ramps.

One very close trip ending call, as a suicidal? confused car driver stopped in the middle,, unsure, possibly checking their GPS or handheld device, of which way to go at a big high speed Y.

All southbound lanes of traffic at 70 mph downhill and in a blind curve, became all red brake lights, swerving and lane changing within seconds. We fortunately had a brief clearing on the right lane to ‘sidewinder snake swerve’ the long rig around the inevitable mass collision. I swore loudly. Of course prayer each morning, was the savior of the moment.

Navigator immediately found an alternate older highway that we drove peacefully from then on. County and state highways at 55 mph, with no shear terror involved, are easier on the nervous system. Tallahassee, at least where we travel, is not quite as bad as Atlanta. Sam’s Club is very quiet for a night back in the trees.

Still more than a few impaired drivers with their ever present handhelds……. for them to stare at…. while texting. After breaking ‘camp’ at Sam’s, We motored west along the coast. Crossed causeway bridge and topped in at St George Island for fish [rectangles] and chips and a night at the mosquito capitol state park. Butterflies were migrating.
Beautiful beach, but RV sites were in trees with swarms of mosquitoes.

Oct 14th evening after more coastal travel, stopped for the night at Topsail Hill, an expensive State Park. Not as bad as the other state park with the wildly swarming mosquitoes, overflow parking, miles from the office.  Oct 15, Morning we drove west along the coastal highway for miles, before realizing hours had passed and we had only gone 40 miles.

Stoplights every mile or two were the problem. Coastal areas are being developed to such extent, that it is getting more difficult to enjoy views of the ocean. Modern high density population, high rise buildings are steadily filling in the open spaces, replacing the quaint little shoreline bungalows of the romantic past. Navigator wisely had turned us inland and away from the stop and go traffic loaded coast.

After pleasant driving at 70 mph speeds on a real highway, away from the popular coastal towns near large military installations, we camped in Walmart Hattiesburg Alabama, where we left Oct 16th. 

After leaving the heavily populated coastal areas and venturing into Mississippi, Oct 16th we camped for two nights in a place that has treated us well in the past, very pleasant, reasonably priced Ross-Barnet Timberlake State Park, on the big flood control reservoir of the Pearl River near Jackson Mississippi.

Weather is beautiful ……and few to no ‘biting’ mosquitoes. Hit a few nearby thrift and consignment stores today. Perfect ambiance for relaxing in this popular RV park with the big water channel 40 yards behind the coach. Could have parked facing the water, but wifi was good this way.

Last time we were camped here, the water was very high, a big, triple deck party boat, colorfully lighted with music and party goers, cruised past. Big trees and a carpet of grass, pine needles and cones with falling leaves stretch between the sites. Turtles bask on shore… until you approach for pictures. Lots of squirrels. Lots of big Canadian geese flying and roaming. Spring has the dozens of baby geese following the adults all over the park.

Big nice park with many yearly, monthly, weekly rentals. Boat launch, swimming pool and basketball court, tennis courts, guest facilities for laundry. The lake front best sites are always filled. Many sites look like they are more permanent with patios and colorful lights set up for leisure living. Lots of pontoon deck boats parked in the shore lot. A large marina is across the lake.

One big fifth wheel RV was for sale including the reserved site. Lady in office says when residents die, the most desirable sites change owners fast. There is a list. No mention of their state of health :>) A drought and low reservoir is in effect this time. Last trips were very high water, with flooding of low areas on into Pearl Miss.

Oct 18th Sunday left Timberlake @ 12 noon, to Kroger for fuel and lunch deli. The historic Natchez Trace passes by on the other side of the reservoir. We will soon resume our roam westward, the mellow driving Trace on into Natchez, after we leave here. Read about ‘The Barber of Natchez’ if you think all slave owners were ‘racists’.

Historic Natchez Trace is scenic, laid back, over, 400 miles long to Nashville Tennessee. It began as a migratory game trail used by native Americans, then river drift boat operators plied it’s path to return upriver… before steam boats rendered it obsolete. 

The path of mystery, opportunistic ‘ner do wells’ and disappearance for many, it was viewed as a bit dangerous by travelers. Even those that used it’s many Inns for comfortable overnight ambiance, were not ensured survival. Mrs Grinder and her husband, Inn operators, were involved in many mysteries of the years around 1809. Meriwether Lewis of the famed Lewis and Clark expedition found out.

The Natchez Trace has been restored for modern travel at 50 mph, no stops for the entire length. Many tourist attractions, old mansions, Indian burial mounds and visitor centers with historical information. There are cutoffs to towns all along the highway through the trees and farmland. Many exits allowing you to get off and back on whenever you desire.

Oct 18th Night spent at Walmart Winnfield Louisiana, heading for Nacogdoches Texas fuel at $1.97, before night at Crockett Texas Walmart. Left Crockett at 10:20 Am Oct 20th.. Madison Texas, propane was $3.00 a gal. Highest paid.

Finally got the cab AC to blow air. No idea why, it just started after a bump, on it’s own, with low fan speeds. Cautiously keeping it there. Found the resistor block ocated on the outside evaporator box under the hood. Resistor block only operates the lower speeds of the blower. Still need to find the hidden relay and fuse for the blower, in event total failure occurs again.

Most of the time has been spent over these last days, where no wifi exists overnight. As usual we spent some time in Walmart parking lots overnight, vague areas with little scenic wonder. Louisiana, known for historic political corruption, is not prosperous, with many little towns barely surviving. Few to no grocery stores, several with bare necessities and dimly lit. Louisiana is a nightmare of rough pavement, and for those of GPS faith, with paved highways suddenly becoming miles of rutted, narrow dirt logging roads through forests of tall pines.

Exciting for the coach and tow rig to navigate….. with no way to turn around. Met future Lavender growers along the desolate road and viewed their large unfinished barn while being told the many commercial uses for Lavender. Road less traveled. Nice people at Lavenderlouisiana.com future website, they informed us to have faith, keep going forward on this rutted track, paved highway 6 was ahead..

Oct 20th Lockhart Texas was our goal, to drive tow vehicle and visit grand daughter in college in nearby Austin Texas. Nice visit, lunch at Tino’s, a Greek fast food restaurant. The owner of all ten Greek restaurants, including Zorba’s, stopped at our table for a quick visit.

Grand daughter was then dropped off at her dorm [50 to 70 thousand students] and we left her to prepare for her next trip to see her cousin.

We stopped in at the TSA confiscation warehouse, with it’s thousands of confiscated pocket items for sale. Thousands of pocket items of great security threat. They sell them at higher prices…. after the confiscation.

First times we visited, there were only a few employees, the items were very cheap and sold by the bagful. Now the employees are numerous [‘sweepers’ were busily sweeping floors in the warehouse where groups of ‘inspectors’ studied the pallets of whatevers] and the items now are priced much higher…… to compensate for the amount of employees necessary to shuffle around and research the ‘booty’?. The  large numbers of govt fire extinguishers is always puzzling. Great deals for us, but still curious as to why fully charged stainless steel fire extinguishers are sold by the pallets, rather than tested and refilled .

I think the future may note the passing of this once lucrative government ‘business’, by notation that it was more expensive to operate than when it originally started. More employees costs more in labor, therefore everything connected costs more. Fact of govt ‘business’. Lots of govt vehicles for sale here also attract buyers.

Lockhart State Park, south of Austin, was our quiet home for a couple of nights [complete with plump Armadillos that kept navigator’s camera busy] while visiting Austin and friends in San Marcos. 

Our friends drove us around the large flooded area in Wimberly. An area canyon with stream that rose rapidly. Resulting in a flash flood that swept away navigator’s friend [and his family] from church as kids. The area was visible devastation on a large magnitude. 40 and 50 foot wall of water took away homes high on pilings above a canyon. Massive trees uprooted and trash high in branches. A dog was reportedly found safely high in a tree after the flash flood.

Pleasant visits in the area with friends. Enjoyed a great lunch in a small popular Wimberly cafe, which topped off the day. Pleasant time before leaving Lockhart State Park and heading on to San Antonio Texas for another two evenings stopover. A retreat while a predicted storm passed. Oct 23 left Lockhart State Park Texas and into San Antonio during heavy rainfall. Driving tensions increase, searching for highway signs as the traffic becomes hidden in the heavy rainfall.

 Lots of rain caused the KOA RV park to cautiously turn us away, as the lower area was located in the flood plain. We were directed up onto higher ground…. and a less desirable RV park. We drove the Honda back to Sea Island restaurant for our fish and chips. A few charity thrift stores, where not much of value is discarded in these leaner years of less prosperity. Rained all night and all day Saturday from the storm of the century over the Pacific, meeting moisture from the Gulf.

Leaving San Antonio on Sunday Oct 25th, for the last legs of our journey back home. Costco fuel @ $1.93.

Left the wet San Antonio area this morning and drove on to Brownwood, a college town in west Texas. The storm of heavy rain predicted was wet and soggy, but not as heavy as the professional ‘climatologists’ of the news stations predicted. A nice rain that eased the drought of west Texas … somewhat. Sun was shining as we neared Early and Brownwood. Walmart ‘camp’ for the night, after top off 1/2 tank of Walmart fuel at $1.79 gal.

Wifi is good, as is TV. Of course the wifi times out after a bit, requiring another sign-in. Last time we passed this way, a Texas State Park was our night camp. Stopped in Lometta at a familiar junk shop…’Cowgirls’, to seek treasures for nav’s mall space. Found a few little items of value. One unique item was sadly broken. We noted the cast iron piece broken before we bought it. A small cast iron oil fired water heater from the turn of the century… 1900…. was rare.

Thousands of Grackles are massing tonight in the trees around our coach. Reminds one of Hitchcock’s, ‘The Birds’. Texas has more birds than any other state due to the flyways of migration adding to the resident bird population. Llano River RV State Park along I-10 has several bird blinds to sit and observe the migrants as they gather to feed at the protected stations provided. Painted Buntings [look like colorful plastic toys] are rare, but seen in flocks like chickens during migrations through Texas. Cheerful Cardinals are plentiful during migrations.

San Saba, navigator’s ancestral roots on grand mother’s side, is still of interest as we drive through on this route. Brownwood has a charity thrift shop or two that we investigated, no ‘finds’. No treasures.

Brownwood Texas Walmart ‘camp’, to La Mesa Texas, was a couple of hundred miles. Roscoe Texas, in passing through, is a vast, horizon to horizon wind turbine farm, with close to a thousand [more]? of the white beasts in every direction, sitting idle or turning slowly in the breeze, with oil pump jacks sucking crude, while cattle graze and cotton fields yield their prize.

Anyone not recognizing Texas as a ‘Productive’ center of the US economy, just isn’t seeing the big picture. One of the newest cotton balers, in addition to the long square ‘loaf’ machines seen by the dozens, is a new device that rolls and processes a cotton wad the size of a big truck and seals it in shrink wrap for delivery. These new machines costs about $700,000 dollars… each.

The Permian Basin is also the US oil field mecca that has proven itself worthy of US strategic resources over many long years of US history. The Chinese have now wisely decided to unload another Billion or so, US paper, fiat printed Obama dollars, and as they are quietly doing with the US housing market and mining reserves of the USA and coastline commercial interests, initially buying up one big section at bargain prices, while oil is cheap.

Of course they will re-develop the oil field, using the latest technology. What happens to the US natural oil reserve, is anyone’s guess,…. after the new owners, the Chinese govt industrialists, get it out of the ground. I would imagine they will in the future, if they feel it in their heart, possibly sell a portion of it back to us, at a sizable profit of course.

What is occurring to the USA of today is called ‘Selling the Farm’. Mandatory when the borrowed money (approaching $20 Trillion) has been lavishly wasted on ‘feel good’ extravagance….. for ‘Progressive’ election results. Doesn’t that just make you feel all warm and fuzzy to know that so much ‘good’ is being accomplished?


Oct 26th Driving through Abilene Texas, we stopped for some Tex-Mex food at a nice looking restaurant with Mexican music playing. What a dreadful mistake. Chile con carne on a corn tortilla with cheese, were referred to as Enchiladas? Fajitas, an especially tasty fire grilled New Mexico dish, were a basic chicken salad bowl with pineapple chunks. Can’t wait to get back to New Mexico for some ‘real’ Mexican food with the unique Indian influence.

Recalled seeing in past travels, a La Mesa Texas city park that welcomed RV’s overnight. Found it the evening of Oct 26th, with directions from a friendly man and wife. Electrical and water overnight…. free. Quiet ….and dark. Big trees, grass and birds, hawks, squirrels etc. Only two other RVs as neighbors. Pulled out at 9 AM Texas time Oct 27th and drove on through several small west Texas villages to Tatum New Mexico, where navigator has always wanted a few hand made iron silhouettes.

She finally got her desire. Juan Carbahal, the iron working artist, threw in a few extras for her little collection. We drove on to the pleasant retirement spot of Roswell New Mexico [the race horse home ranches, an irrigated mecca of NM], Sam’s Club gas at $1.96, pizza slice and salad, before heading the last 200 miles to Albuquerque. A 300 mile day and home by 6 PM October 27 2015. Lots of headwind encountered today, so not much in the fuel mileage desirable.

The entire trip was excellent in spite of a few minor attention getters. We always find a few little treasures to pack the tow car…. and every nook and cranny of Thunder Pig. Now the real chore, to unload tomorrow. Eventually take the coach to dealer for Norcold refrigerator problem under warranty to fix a device they added…. for safety. My old bugaboo returns with the sacrificial zinc anode solidly corroded into the water heater after a month of travels. Drilling it out, to drain tank for winter, is the only recourse, with risk of damage to the tank..

Plan is to refill the fuel tank for storage with a heavy dose of Marvel Mystery Oil to make the fuel system easier to withstand the long sleep of idleness well deserved. Drain tanks, purge water lines. Change the oil and grease the suspension, U joints and steering. Back the coach into the back yard and complete the prep for winter. With 90,000 miles soon to appear on our coach of 12 years vintage use, we must carefully maintain the vitals if we are to continue these ventures in this unit that has served us so well.

Next trip will be….. after paying off credit cards, then saving and scrimping together enough money for another tour in the future,. After the winter months have passed and we are ready for another adventure. All is in the life plan…if we remain healthy and alert, taking nourishment as directed. LOL


Enjoy traveling the greatest nation ever known. The United States of America. One Nation Under God.

Holiday Rambler RV USA trip 2015

  • After leaving ABQ NM in the spring of 2015, following the usual preparations including oil change and lubrication of the rig, (still crawling around underneath, this time with a new, black, Harbor Freight pneumatic grease gun:>), 
  • we are presently substantially over one thousand miles from home, camped in the outlying suburbs of Chattanooga Tennessee. Holiday Traveler RV park near the Georgia state line.
  • The last week was spent traveling along amongst the thousands of other interstate trucks. Even taking a few Old RT 66 highways off the beaten path and staying at Walmarts overnight ‘camps’ for the most part. We basically ‘kept them doggies rollin’, only pausing to sleep or check out a fast food stop.
  •  Branson Missouri was a great stopover, camped at Table Rock State Reservoir RV Park along the river. A complete Branson visit with two fantastic shows on afternoons enticed us to stay two nights in this tourist mecca that really takes much longer to see in it’s entirety.
  • Visiting copilot’s long lost cuzzin in Missouri and her Blue Grass violin playin’ husband, was a fine way to restore memories.
  • Watched a crime program that featured her kin from San Saba Texas. The extended family youngsters (nephew and grandson) snuffed out 84 year old Bonnie Harkey in 2012, to get her money.
  • All that they got was life in prison. Bonnie Harkey’s once prosperous ranch land and almond orchards adjacent to Tommy Lee Jones ranch, is now in the hands of real estate agents ……and lawyers..
  • While in this area of Georgia, not far from fun to explore Chattanooga, a brief trip to Copilot’s favorite chicken farm, a business that desperately became an importer of antique reproductions after their chickens all died, always results in a few treasures for her little mall space.
  • We now have to figure out how to duct tape two large tin chickens to the top of the car…. or coach…. for the trip home….. They are about five feet by five feet dissembled. Nothing to do with the chicken farm, just very big, beautifully colorful tin chickens. :>)
  • Lots of other small stuff, much of it cast iron that costs way too much to ship across country… or from China. We often tend to overload the coach on these trips.
  •  This is a section of tornado alley, where the tornadoes skipped over us as we hunkered down in valleys on previous trips. Maybe the iron stuff will hold us down?. Of course there are those problematic big tin chickens on the roof….
  •  Leaving Chattanooga on Sunday morning for other adventures along the return route, most likely fascinating Tannehill Iron Works State Park near Birmingham Alabama.
  • After spending a few nights and days exploring that part of the country near Talladega Raceway, we mosy along a section of the Natchez Parkway Trail back toward Texas on our way back to New Mexico. Not sure about internet connectivity as we roam.
  •  Cooler than in past years, we need heat every morning. A problem with the hot water heater being clogged ….by something…, was resolved by a quick reverse blast from the air compressor we carry for various incidents along the byways. We can once again take showers… yea!
  • Toodles ….until the next opportunity… Those big chickens !!….. Two of them…. One ended up under the bed, the other, Gorilla Taped to the top of the towed car.

  • While near Jackson Miss in the Barnett Reservoir RV park where we enjoy camping, we noted the big outdoor grills next to the RVs. Apparently the weekend Bar BQs are attended by lots of family and friends.Casual weekenders that use the RVs as lake houses, occupy much of the very popular large park. Lots of boats to take advantage of the large lake formed behind the dam holding back the Pearl River from flooding Pearl Miss. Fishing and recreation are very popular there. Checking out the nearby charity thrift stores and consignment shops for resalable items did not prove quite as lucrative as previous years when prosperity was flourishing.
  • Further along the way, we did pick up a number of the biggest pine cones we have ever seen, at a small National Park in Louisiana where we parked overnight. LobLolly Pines drop lots of big cones here. Interesting is the large number of very big, rust colored daddy long legs spiders hiding in them.Copilot described the little camping park near Pollock Louisiana, as ‘Pine cones and Spiders’ in her log book. We were the only overnight guests in the little Stuart Lake’s National park. The office rangers were excited to see that we were staying overnight. They seem bored this time of year before the busy summer crowds enjoy the little lake and it’s attractions. The little lake is periodically restocked with fish before fishing derbys and group festivities.
  • Quiet night in camp, even a distant rail way train occasionally passing in the night.
    We drove on in morning, often paused, visited a few little places we like along this highway route, before turning for Houston and San Antonio.

Returning back toward ABQ NM while watching weather patterns that suggest storms in the future, is our steady goal.
Note: The future that eventually brought record flooding to Texas and taking the lives of acquaintances in Wimberly Texas. 

We often stay in a big Texas State Park named Brazos Bend, near Houston. Arriving late on Friday evening with no reservations, we took the only remaining facility spot… in ‘overflow’ lot, #18 with water… and electric to run the AC.

The attractions include Alligators… among many other interesting things to explore. Families were biking and hiking this park to the max on this weekend. Bikes in limited numbers are free to use for the day. ‘Giant’ brands, with large tires are really good bikes. To be free for the use of park visitors, is very nice indeed. Texas likes it’s tourists and park aficionados.

 After taking advantage of the wheelchair compatible paved walkways, we were watching a small Coot (duck) from the dock, when a gator slid out from under the water Hyacinth mass floating on top of the water near the fishing dock. The small coot voiced it’s alarm to it’s partner and scrambled further back up onto the flowering plants covering a large part of the lake, as the always hungry gator turned closer.

Bigger Gators eat other smaller gators, thus keeping the numbers constant in this park. The big gator often shown on the internet and described from many places, is actually from this Texas State park. One park employee described smaller gators that try to leave the park. They apparently understand the rules and try to escape….. to extend their lives.

One trip previously, a very large gator was eating a smaller gator. The process takes several days.
A man among the several professional photographers gathered on the shore during that previous trip, was from Paris France and had flown in only for the event using his sophisticated live streaming ‘on line’ action. His telescopic camera was huge, white and looked like a National Geographic piece of equipment. We got to look through the lens… up close and personal as the big gator gradually swallowed his slightly smaller… meal.

Watching the gator under our dock on this day in the park, was a family with a little girl. She was really fascinated by the gator that kept swimming under our dock, as her father and mother held her hand… tightly.  Copilot got several pics as the gator posed within feet close by.

This was the same lake where the gator grabbed the big fish from the man’s line last trip. Copilot got several pics of that event, as another gator chased the one with the fish.

Always something happening at the large Brazos Bend State Park near Houston. Problem was we took the wrong route, made for trucks and passed fitfully through Houston’s business industrial port area during rush hour.

Bridges over the river, barges and ships were loading below. Not especially fun with the rig towing the Honda and following GPS instructions from copilot with lane changes among drivers racing to get home fast, mixed with countless big trucks anxious to get on to their destinations.

We learn by these mistakes. When we finally no longer drive this route due to age of our bodies, we will know the best way to do it :>)

Austin Texas on route was very rainy after bit of camping at Lockhart State Park near San Marcos, enjoying the company of friends at the Saltgrass in San Marcos. Austin is always great to explore for a couple of days in spite of the horrendous traffic on narrower than they should be, highways.

We enjoy checking out the Austin City warehouse for a few items they sell from TSA confiscations. Feasting at one of Tino’s Greek cafes. Prowling the charity thrift stores for ‘antiques’ and salable discards. :>)

After driving in heavy rain out of Austin, we eventually made it to the KOA  of S.A. Very marginal wifi and crowded spaces due to a filled RV park. So far we have been fortunate in finding a space for the night at state parks along this route of I-10 that we periodically take. Good thing as the northern route across Texas has storms this time.

A small, well made spinning wheel caught our eye in a San Antonio Goodwill on our day browsing the city. Not especially old, being in excellent working condition it was still quite an unusual find and copilot will sell it in her small space at the Antique mall.

Rain is not yet falling in the amounts anticipated over the next weeks, allowing a bit of hiking to end the day before nightfall on this Mother’s Day. All three sons called their Mom today, giving her a great smile during and after each call. :>)

The lack of internet access is a good reason to not give boring details of each part of our travels. Seems that the parks and other points that once had wifi are letting them degrade away, as most folks have smart phones. Wifi is becoming obsolete already as the times change.

This section of KOA where camped on this trip, is near the older area where the trailer park types stay year around. We have a big truck parked in front of our site and several older trailers with permanent looking sites, as for monthly rentals.

The charity thrift stores are slim pickens these days. When an economy is weak, people do not donate at the level they did when prosperity allowed them to discard high quality items and buy new on a whim. Everything, like bicycles, are rusty or very heavily used. A stark contrast to the previous trips where we often found desirable, lightly used discarded items to purchase…. and resell.

I liked the sign on the back of a high end motor coach. “Homeless and Unemployed” :>)

Fuel is rising in price and seems to be at $2.49 a gallon except for a few Pilot stations lower in price at $2.35.We stay for two more days before rolling westward after a few more stops visiting along the Texas trail.

We renewed the Texas State Park pass, so we will be returning this coming year. Temps are in the high 80s and high humidity is normal. Stops later included the small but interesting Tallavera Pottery vendors along the route between San Antonio and New Mexico.

One rooftop AC unit on the RV coach is problematic and needs adjustment of the fan squirrel cage to get it away from the housing. Always some little thing to keep me occupied while rolling along the traveling routes. Mother’s Day will be celebrated at Sea Island seafood restaurant not far away. Rain is most definitely on it’s way, according to weather reports.

Note: Fortunately we escaped the area just in time. Rain was a real threat to Texas and Oklahoma as record amounts of it fell, flooding many areas after years of drought. Alb NM, our home port is around 37 degrees these days, so we actually left warmer climate in Texas.

After topping off the fuel tank at ABQ NM Costco, adding a quart of Marvel Mystery Oil to the fuel, as have since early days of motoring, we returned the last leg to home port. After unloading the rig, the following day was spent greasing all of the 13 fittings on the chassis, replacing the oil filter and changing the oil… 7 quarts. At over 85,000 miles (3,800 this trip) the old rig is long in the tooth but with steady preventative maintenance, still running like a thoroughbred. The new 100  watt solar panel and MPPT regulator performed like a silent mini generator when we were camped, boondocking away from shore power.

Enjoy traveling, touring, camping, hiking a marvelously blessed nation, ‘The United States of America, One Nation Under God’..

Reskinning Solar Heat Collectors

 Replacing the fiberglass skins on 2 Solar Age heat collectors yourself, can save $1,000 in labor.

The two big aluminum boxes, oriented at 45 deg and facing south (we are in the northern hemisphere, southwestern US state of New Mexico), that are collecting winter sun heat on our roof and blowing 100 degree heat into our home a major part of every sunny day, are about 11′ long X 4′ wide and 6″ deep. They are lined with this type Owens Corning insulation.

After removing the top frame edges from the outer skin of 60 mil fiberglass, the top ‘skin’ can be peeled off in one sheet, exposing the 1″ aluminum square tube spacer frame and the inner sheet ‘skin’ of whatever material was used originally.
Cutting, slicing away of the sealing silicone, is required on both skins, taking care not to destroy any of the insulation. Dremel tool with reciprocating blade worked fast with minimal damage to insulation.
Remove the 1″ thick inner spacer, square tube aluminum frame work (possibly held in place with ‘pop rivets’), then the center divider section top bar, that makes the air travel  across the whole, insulated heated area in a U pattern.
Note the order of dissasembly and reverse the process to restore, sealing each of the layers of Sunlight sheeting. I used several applications of 3M mylar metallic tape to repair the aged insulation, reseal the spacer frame and for sealing each edge of both skins during reassembly, rather than 100% silicone caulk, as originally used.
Aluminum tape, to withstand accidental super heat conditions, would have been preferable to the metallic Mylar. Only the top skin required 100% silicone caulk to prevent water intrusion. Silicone, applied after final top frame sections were screwed into place.
The inner heat collector, a sheet of corrugated or dimpled aluminum, is usually toasted and has lost it’s flat black qualities while powdering. BBQ grill paint, (1 spray can) sprayed on evenly, after cleaning off the powder residue, withstands the internal high temperatures periodically occurring, whenever circulating fan is not running on sun days.
The collector chamber wafer snap disc switch (close 110 deg- open 90 deg) had failed, causing sustained overheat burning the wire connectors. Wafer snap disc switches are available on the internet for about $15.
Be sure to seal the collector’s external electrical box containing the snap disc switch connections. I used aluminum tape over each seam. The vacuum from the circulating fan will pull in cold outside air, causing a repetitive ‘start stop’ cycle of the snap switch. Circulation Fan (in ‘Active’ systems) failures can be avoided or prolonged by lubricating the fan bearings periodically.

 In operation, the cooler air flows into the system’s vacuum from the baseboard of our hall (and den), up through the wall space and into the attic duct specific for the collector.
Following a vacuum drawn (active systems) convection in a U route through the collector box, the heated air then feeds into a soft, large diameter, insulated flexible HVAC tube duct. It goes out through the roof insulated flange, into the lower side of the big insulated aluminum box.

After circulating across the aluminum collector plate (directed by a sealed wall center section), it exits through another flange, down into more soft insulated duct into the attic, where a squirrel cage blower (insulated) feeds the 100 deg heated air through  insulated flex duct, through the ceiling vent.

They were installed about 40 years ago by ‘Solar Age’. The original aluminum boxes were spaced internally with wood. The internal wood on the originals, burned into charcoal when the sun was shining without the fan running. Solar Age replaced the wood containing units, with all aluminum units (thousands of them), then folded and closed the factory.
To prolong the units life, I use big white plasticized fabric covers during summer months when the extra heat is no longer required.

This is the units first re ‘skinning’. I used 40 mil (inner) and 60 mil (outer) Sunlight fiberglass on both layers to resist heat and last longer. Internet sources for Sunlight fiberglass with one side UV coated, saved local fees for ordering and handling.
Rapidly cutting the fiberglass sheets to size required a diamond blade  from Harbor Freight, or similar cutoff disc mounted in a handheld grinder. My cuts for two layers on both units, totaled 60 linear feet. Hand held ‘snips’ were fatiguing, slow and impractical. I clamped the old sheets over the new sheets and supported both above the level cutting surface, to have a cut guide edge.
I tried the Dremel reciprocating tool saw and wore out the saw blade within the first 12″ of painfully slow progress. Wear a face shield or/and goggles and be sure to wear a well fitted breathing mask. The fine powder created by the power cutting,  is intensely invasive.

Two layers of fiberglass ‘skin’, 1″ apart (spacer frame), keep the cooler top (Outer) skin from contacting the heated inner skin section above the aluminum heat collecting plate. Result, an R factor sufficient to maintain the 100 degree heat flow most all of  the day.

When positioning the sheets during assembly, carefully align, adjust ‘All’ the edges before final taping and sealing. Remember to seal any diversion walls within the collector boxes, with whatever method you decide (I used 100% Silicone). Remember, the interior chamber gets very Hot.

These basically energy efficient units can be constructed of wood, or other suitable and convenient materials, ‘Only’ if the intense heat buildup is automatically dumped and vented by thermostat controls during times not required…. or they are covered. Otherwise the sun’s collected radiation super heats the units internally, which causes a dangerous burn of the components.

Enjoy the project. Passing on the mistakes, helps the next adventuresome technician. From “The United States of America, One Nation Under God”

ALBuquerque NM Balloon Festival 2014

The skies have been filled every morning for the past week. This world (attended and flown by international balloonists) entertainment event occurs over the 5,000′ altitude city every fall as the morning temperatures drop, making it easier for the heated balloons to lift into the sky.

The Albuquerque ‘Box’, a wind anomaly caused by the mountainous background to the river valley, is unique to ABQ NM and allows the balloons to rise and fall in semi-synchronous rhythm, thus maintaining a  relative position near the large, specially maintained grassy field, as the numbers of balloons in the air increase in count. It is quite a performance, not easily forgotten. A 360 degree panorama, yet hemispherical in dimension, live action opera of sorts.

This morning was especially interesting, due to the wispy cloud layers that played peek-a-boo with the balloons, as they rose and descended through the clouds. Numerous many are intricately designed ‘Special Shapes’, representing familiar characters from around the world.

The Rio Grande (Grand River) was the scene of countless ‘Splash and Dash’ balloonists trying their luck at wet touches, before pouring the flame into the envelopes for ascension.

Our family and their extended families in ABQ, including several from out of state (not us) left their homes and hotels at 4am to be part of this days (Sat) mass ascension observers.

Joining the 100,000 balloon aficionados on the field, wandering into and among the crayon colorful fray of engine powered fans and flames inflation and liftoff, creates a lifetime memory. The one million attendees mark for the week long event, becomes a closer reality every year.

550 balloons, lifting in waves of 100 each, is the registration limit imposed these years. In the past, a thousand have filled the skies and floated as a cloud of out of control brilliantly colored, hissing locusts over the city.        Pics of ABQ NM balloon adventures :>)

RV Holiday Rambler to Pacific Northwest


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 .