Our Maiden Voyage

Aug 15 – 24, 2016

This past year has delivered some of the changes that Carol and I have been dreaming of for a long time.

Carol retired in March of 2015 and I followed suit earlier this year. We also put our house on the market in May with the idea that we’d travel and search for the next place for our retired lives. After 8 weeks and no acceptable offers, we decided to rent it and we had a signed lease within a week. Now both the cottage and house are leased until July of 2017 so we are homeless, sort of.

One of our dreams was to buy an Airstream and tour the US and Canadian National Parks and that’s exactly what we are doing. Our Airstream is a 2017 Flying Cloud 25 and I’m pulling it with my 10 yr old Cayenne. You should see the faces of the old timers in their dually pick-ups when I pull in with my German SUV ūüôā

It’s been a while, like decades, since I’ve been camping (maybe never for Carol?) but we were surprised how quickly we have enjoyed our new life style. Here’s Carol & TiVo and our new home. Carol calls this ‘glamping’. It’s hard to complain when you wake up to a clean bathroom and a hot cup of coffee. Did I mention that we’re going to do this for the next 11 months?

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Aug 16, 2016

We picked up our travel trailer in Eugene, OR and towed it to a local RV park for a shakedown drive. Nothing special, just a place where we can go through the motions and practice hitching and unhitching.

Fitting everything that we’d like to take along in the Airstream has been a real challenge but we’re finally there – at least for now (Carol already is thinking about remodeling). Yes, those are the TV clickers in the silverware drawer and no, we don’t actually get TV reception since we’re in rural areas. And yes, there’s a Dish satellite in our future ūüôā

Aug 17, 2016

Oregon in general is very green, beautiful, full of recreation activities (John: expect some activity dropping) and with low density. Parking was never an issue (image that!) and the roads were incredible maintained.

Sisters, OR is a great small town similar to a CA gold rush town with beautiful pine trees and a bunch of brew pubs (this is Oregon after all).¬†On our drive from Eugene, we crossed the Cascades and the mountains are beautiful. Here’s a shot of the namesake three sisters taken from the side of the road.

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An old barn on the route between Sisters and Bend. Sort of what my femur felt like a few years ago LOL

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Aug 18-20

We’ve wanted to visit Bend for a long time¬†and were happy to finally arrive. ¬†We booked a site at the posh Crown Villa RV Park and we were not disappointed: parking on pavers, full cable TV, land yachts as sophisticated as the lunar lander and hosts as sweet as they come. Boy, we were set up for future disappointments.

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Bend was really awesome once we got over the shock of seeing so many slackers smoking cigarettes on the downtown corners. ¬†And smoking itself wasn’t disappointing, it was what they were smoking. ¬†Had it been the good stuff, then I’d have a smile for them. ¬†Oh well…

Next we toured some neighborhoods to see what a buck buys and we were pretty happy about what we saw. ¬†We also stopped at Aubrey Glen Golf Club on the west side and the area was really beautiful. ¬†Too bad I didn’t have time to play…

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Aug 21, 2016

After Bend, we drove down to Crater Lake for a couple of days ¬≠ which was spectacular! We have only seen it from the air but up close it’s amazing. Deepest lake in the US and words can’t describe how blue the water is.

Crater Lake Pano

The weather has been really hot during the days (thankfully we have great A/C in the rig) so last Sunday night, we opened a BR window and turned on the ceiling fan. When I got up Mon morning, my weather station showed 39F outside and 41 inside. A bit cold but relief from the daytime heat. So the next night, we left the window open but turned off the fan. Not sure what we were thinking as we were at 6,000 ft near Crater Lake. In the morning, it was 31F out but still 41F in. Yes Carol loves her comforter and TiVo isn’t half bad as a foot warmer ūüôā

Aug 23-24, 2016

Traveling four hours west we reached¬†Bullard’s Beach where we escaped the heat and welcomed the coastal fog. Daytime temps were 60’s ¬≠- 70’s with nights in the 50’s. Perfect! Bullard’s Beach is a beautiful campground and we set up camp and then headed into Bandon, just ten minutes south.

Bandon¬†is the quaint little town which has since become famous for the Bandon Dunes golf resort that’s just five min north of our campgrounds. ¬†We went into town for an adult beverage and some calamari but it wasn’t up to the Vasco standard. ¬†And boy, do we miss the crowd at Vasco.

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Then back to Bullard’s and down to the beach by the lighthouse. Got driftwood?

Driftwood

You know how people like to show pics of their kids? We don’t have any but I didn’t want to disappoint. Here’s TiVo, our 5 yr old oversized Yorkie.

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On the next day, we went up to Coos Bay for lunch and ended up in a German restaurant. ¬†Not sure how that happened…

Then back to Bandon to shoot the Haystacks but still too much fog. ¬†But TiVo had fun ūüôā

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Beverly Beach

Aug 25, 2016

From Bullard’s Beach, we drove north to Beverly Beach and camped at the state park. ¬†What’s great about¬†this site is that it’s a short walk to an awesome beach. ¬†Don’t believe me? ¬†I had to walk a good 50 yds to get this pic without anyone in it. ¬†Pretty sweet, eh?

Beverly Beach

When I was heading down to the beach, Carol’s last comment was “Don’t let TiVo get dirty”. ¬†Of course the first thing he did was roll in the sand and I wasn’t about to stop him. So no sex for me tonight.

TiVo Sand Washing

This was an old established camping park and here’s our site.

Beverly Beach Campsite

Adjacent to us where these kissing trees. ¬†We found it romantic ūüôā

Kissing Trees?

Crossing the Columbia River

Aug 26, 2016

Our next stop was the KOA at Bay Center / Walapa Bay, about four hours north.  I considered crossing the Columbia River into Washington to be a milestone and boy was it a doozy.

We had crossed a few bridges in Oregon that shared the same traits:  constructed of steel, green and very narrow.  So it was no surprise to see the same architecture on our approach to the Columbia River bridge.  But this one was big.  Very Big.

As I approached the incline,¬†I started to feel a little, well, anxiety. ¬†The lanes were narrow with virtually no shoulder and we were way above the water. ¬†Next thing I know I’ve got sweaty palms and my heart is beating just a bit faster. ¬†I’m thinking “Carol, grab the wheel” but didn’t say anything since she was actually in the back seat with TiVo. ¬†I just held on until we were safely down the back side. ¬†Whew!

Here’s the bad boy on the approach.

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After setting up camp, I walked down to the beach to find some of the locals clamming as the tide was rolling in. ¬†It’s a rich field and and most came away with some nice sized buckets. ¬†This beach was special, calm winds, calm water and lots of clams.

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Since the fog had rolled out and the air clarity perfect, I went back down at sunset to look for the elusive green flash. ¬†This occurs just after sunset because the atmosphere can cause the light from the sun to separate into different colors. ¬†I’ve seen plenty of pictures of it but never experienced it. ¬†And tonight was no different ūüė¶ ¬†Still beautiful…

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Olympic National Park

Aug 27-28, 2016

After nothing but blue skies in Oregon, we encountered our first inclement weather on the way up to Olympic NP.  Surprise, right?  I had planned to drive around the peninsula on the west side but Carol was having none of it since the eastern route was shorter.  Apparently I greatly underestimate how long our drives will be Рso the eastern route it was.

We arrived late afternoon, set up camp, then headed into Port Angeles for something to eat and an adult beverage. ¬†Port Angels has a popular ferry service that links Victoria on Vancouver Island. ¬†When the skies cleared in the afternoon, you could just make out. ¬†Left side, use your imagination ūüôā

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Have you ever been into a Walmart Supercenter? ¬†I hadn’t but wow what an eye opener. ¬†From reading the Airstream blogs, it was clear that Walmarts are popular with the RV and I can see why. ¬†They have everything. ¬†And I mean everything. ¬†Here’s Carol holding some lithium grease that we’ll use to kill the squeak in our sway control hitch.

Carol Walmart

Next day plan was to drive into the park and do a little hiking, but dogs aren’t allowed on the trails so hiking would be limited to parking lot pictures. ¬†We chose an access road (Deer Park) since it’s close to our camp and headed out.

One thing everyone should know is that Carol doesn’t like my driving because she thinks it’s too fast and dangerous. ¬†The reality is that if she drove as I did, it would be dangerous.

So anytime we are in a situation where my driving will get her stressed out, I give her the keys. ¬†The road up to the viewpoint is 9 miles of blacktop and another 9 miles of gravel. Carol took the upper half at a good 6-9 miles an hour. ¬†Now I’m dying hoping no one’s going to catch us from behind and honk like crazy. ¬†Luckily, that didn’t happen and it took every inch of my patience to sit tight while she tackled the road. ¬†And no, she isn’t a fan of FIA World Rally Championship racing, doesn’t even know it exists.

The weather was far from clear but here’s what it looks like from the lookout.

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Riding shotgun on the way down, I thought I play with my camera to see if I could make it look like Carol was zooming down the hill. ¬†Surprisingly, that’s exactly what it looks like. ¬†but trust me, Carol never went over 12 mph LOL.

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Then back to our KOA for some R & R.

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TiVo almost got me in trouble.  He usually stays close by but for some reason, he ran into the adjacent private property that looks like something out of a Stephen King novel.  There was dilapidated toys and equipment everywhere and believe me, I was looking over my shoulder when I retrieved him as I was sure that I was going to see a shotgun aimed my way.

Last night, the weather cleared and we had our first clear view of the Mountains in Olympic NP. ¬†Now it’s off on our two day drive to Glacier NP.

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When your day is done and you got to run, Spokane

Aug 29, 2016

Carol and I left Olympic NP this morning and shed a tear for the west coast. Love it. Especially Oregon with its open spaces, beautiful mountains and trees and above all, cool climate. And lack of congestion. I think I’m in love.

We mapped out our route to Glacier NP and picked Spokane as the layover. Out of Olympic, Google had us going down and around Tacoma. I was excited as I’ve seen the video of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsing but have never been there. But my navi in my 11 yr old Porsche routed us through Seattle. Umm, this is interesting. Why the discrepancy?

Carol doesn’t let me read my iPhone or iPad while driving so I’m cruising along relying on her to navigate. Then I say to Carol “Where are we?”. “You just missed the turn”. “What? Porsche says I’m on track”. So on we went and then we saw the signs “Approaching Kingston – Edmonds Ferry”. Oopsie and now I know why Google is king.

Carol wants to turn back but I’m thinking this could be fun. We pulled up and the ticket taker looked at my rig and said $93. I overheard the guy in the adjoining booth say “he has an Airstream, he can afford it”! Our rig is right at 40′ which is a cutoff. My guy says I’ll let you slip, $75. Thanks and I’m just glad to be on board. So off we went. Here’s the queue as we wait to board (it got longer as we were early).

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In route, I was looking for some nice shots. This was all I got ūüė¶

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We crossed the Cascades on the way to Spokane and passed an entrepreneur. A very interesting entrepreneur. Goes by the name of Lil Red Roni. Love Entrepreneurs.

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Carol was impressed and couldn’t resist another shot.

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After a long and fun day, we pulled into the Spokane KOA, parked our rig and I opened the door. Uh oh. We had stopped for lunch a few hours earlier and I grabbed a diet coke from the refrigerator. I knew instantly that I hadn’t clicked the door closed. Food everywhere. Carol’s going to kill me and no place to hide. Gulp. I think it best that I start doing dishes or cooking or something…

Off to Glacier tomorrow ūüôā

The Stinky Slinky

Aug 30, 2016

Modern RV’s have three tanks: ¬†fresh water, grey water and black water. ¬†I don’t think I need to explain the latter.

When RV parks advertise full hook-ups, they mean water, electricity and sewer. ¬†The first two are easy but the sewer not so much. ¬†Standard practice is to buy a 20′¬†compressable¬†hose that resembles a slinky. ¬† It stores¬†in a dedicated tube under the trailer and is handled with disposal gloves. ¬† Same for¬†Arnold and girly man.

For the past two weeks, my hose has been au naturel¬† i.e., without support. ¬†The trailer hook-up is about 18″ above the ground and the sewer hookup varies from 0 to 12″. ¬†This means you have a droop and that’s something¬†you don’t want to dry out. ¬†So Carol and I hit Camping World this morning in Spokane. ¬†Bought a bridge. ¬†No droop ¬†ūüôā

The business end of our Airstream.

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Why Travel Trailers Rock

Aug 30, 2016

Carol and I drove I-90 today across Idaho (hello Coeur d’Alene) and entered Montana. ¬†The route took us along the Clark Fork River. ¬†Beautiful. ¬†So beautiful that I’m in trouble again. ¬†We were cruising along when Carol said to¬†pull over NOW – so she could use the facilities. ¬†And then I saw this awesome pull out and hit the brakes.

TiVo and I jumped out and had a great time just to give a girl some privacy. ¬†Steep walls along the road so Montana DOT added concrete barriers to keep the rocks from rolling into the road. ¬†TiVo jumps up on the barrier thinking it has a top but it’s only 4″ wide. ¬†Over the side he goes flapping his arms like a bird. ¬†Turns out the back side drop was a bit more than the front. ¬†Never seen him do that before but all is well.

But that’s not why I’m in trouble. ¬†After we arrived at West Glacier, I opened the door to the Airstream to find the dinette table had crashed. ¬†Turns out that my cooler, where I have our red wine, slid down that aisle when I hit the brakes and took out the support leg. ¬†Busted the darn thing. ¬†Oopsie.

Here’s the shot. ¬†Not sure it’s worth a dinette leg¬†but trust me, this is a beautiful place.

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Glamping in West Glacier

Aug 31, 2016

We arrived at our West Glacier KOA and boy is it nice ūüôā ¬† Lot’s of trees, shrubs and freshly mowed grass. ¬†A poured concrete for outside living makes for a happy wife. ¬†Why? ¬†Because Carol is a clean freak and when we have gravel, or heaven forbid mud & dirt, I can’t help but carry it in and then no happy wife. ¬†As the saying goes, happy wife, happy life.

Note to self: the Airstream is supposed to be next to the concrete pad so that you don’t step in the gravel when ¬†you come out. ¬†I’m still learning ūüė¶

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Here’s another view of this awesome KOA (and the air is starting to clear):

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Speaking of glamping, I noticed a Dish satellite antenna attached to the laundry room. ¬†No way, I’m thinking, but sure enough, there’s a TV in the laundry room with a full list of channels. ¬†We haven’t missed TV very much except for the evening national news. ¬†I know millennials don’t¬†get this but I like. ¬†And I just might spend 30 minutes of happy hour this evening in the laundry room.

Reminds Me of Patagonia

Today is a layover day so we headed up into the mountains to explore Glacier NP. ¬†Since Carol’s anxiety kicks in when I drive on tight, twisty roads, I passed the keys to her and rode shotgun.

Going-to-the-Sun Road is one of the world’s most spectacular highways (quoting from the map) and they were’t kidding. ¬†It’s 50 mi long and bisects Glacier as it hugs the cliffs below the Continental Divide on the traverse to Logan Pass. ¬† Vehicles over 21′ long or 8′ wide need not apply.

We took about 3 hrs for the out & back ride up to the 6,646 ft pass and it was worth every minute. ¬†Too bad there were wild fires in parts of ID and MT that all but destroyed the air clarity and the cloudy sky didn’t help. ¬†Nonetheless, the mountains are incredible and minded me of Patagonia due to the steep vertical side. ¬†We are coming back next summer ūüôā

West Glacier turnoff:

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Smoke obscured mountains:

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A peak just below Logan Pass:

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Trikes

Aug 31, 2016

I was into motorcycles back in the 70’s. ¬†Big time. ¬†Had my Kawasaki KZ650 for eight years. ¬†Hopped it up with a big bore kit and hot cams. ¬†Sold it in ’85 when I finished grad school. ¬†For an amount that was good for exactly one car payment on my brand spanking new ’85 Corvette. ¬†Still kicking myself.

A big part of the motorcycle¬†world has passed me by as I had no idea that Harley Davidson and Honda were into three wheelers. ¬†They look great for touring and¬†pulling trailers. ¬†We’ve seen lots of them and here’s a good example. ¬†Looks like a lot of fun.

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