Friday, July 31, 2009

Cascade Peaks RV and Golf Resort

This has been one of those “stay and home” days.  We wanted a day off before a big hiking day tomorrow.  We had a few chores to do.  Gene did his first of the month chores--checked the house batteries, drained the fuel separator on the truck, and banking stuff.  He also spent some time cleaning the pine sap off the roof.  We love the shade of the trees during these hot days, but pine sap is everywhere.  I did a load of laundry, took a short nap, and read my book.  We went to the local market this afternoon for bread, cat litter, and napkins.  Somehow, ice cream got in our basket.

The heat has made for a challenging week for cooking.  The AC has struggled to keep this small space, which heats up like your car sitting in the sun, cool.  We are happy if the inside temperature is close to 80.  Since we only have 30 amp electricity at this campground, we can’t use the microwave/convection oven while the AC is running.  To run the propane oven or the burners for very long just compounds an already too warm for comfort situation.  Eating out is not much of an option since the closest restaurant is about 25 miles away.  We did stop one day at a Subway on our way home from hiking.  We had fish one night; it cooks quickly.  Today, I prepared pasta salad while it is still cool.  I’ll add some leftover grilled chicken and that will be just fine for our dinner tomorrow.  Tonight we are having leftovers which should heat in just a few minutes in the microwave.  Surely, if I turn the AC off for 10 minutes we won’t melt.

Now for a very few words about this campground.  Cascade Peaks is a Coast-to-Coast membership campground.  I don’t know all the details about Coast-to-Coast, and, if they are like other campground clubs like 1000 Trails, there are many different levels or degrees of membership.  Anyway, this is a Coast-to-Coast park with lots available for either sale or least with a membership.  Now if I were spending a few thousand dollars for a membership in a campground, I would expect a few things in return.  One thing I would want is full hook-ups.  The coast-to-coast lots here have water and electric only.

The sign out front advertises over 700 sites.  I’d say that is probably true.  This place is huge.  There are about 150 full hook-ups.  Gene called to make our reservation and specifically asked for a pull-thru.  He was assured that would be available.  When we got here, we found that there are no pull-thru sites.  Instead, the sites are back to back.  If there was no one in the opposite site, that essentially made it a pull-thru.  As it turned out, there were plenty of sites available, so we chose the one we wanted.  That’s right, the sites were not assigned.  Just pick one.  That was kind of nice because we were able to pick one with plenty of shade.

The campground is old, but under new ownership.  Well, the owner seems to have disappeared.  That may account for the large “FOR SALE” sign out front.  The laundry is small, only 4 washers and 6 dryers for 700 sites.  No adequate.  The bath house is old, needing new tile, sinks, and showers.  It could use a wet mop and hot soapy water, too.  There are two pools and a club house.  The club house is old, run down and dirty.

There is a golf course.  We’ve been here almost a week and haven’t seen anyone out there yet.  Of course, we’ve been on the mountain much of that time.

The full hook-up section where we are is completely adequate.  All the interior roads are gravel as are the sites.  But since it is an older campground, there are large trees and the sites are spacious with mowed grass.  They don’t water, though, so it’s not green grass.

We would stay here again if visiting in the area. However, I would never consider buying a lot here.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Naches Peak Loop Trail

At Chinook Pass, the 3-mile Naches Peak Loop Trail is an easy walk with fantastic views of Mount Rainier.  We took this trail, like everyone else we saw today, in the clockwise direction.  The first half of the loop was along the Pacific Crest Trail (yes, this is the same trail we have hiked off and on since Lake Tahoe), then as the PCT split off to the left (southbound) the Naches Peak Trail turned back toward the parking lot to complete the loop.  It was along the second half of the loop, the Naches Peak section, that the mountain came into view and remained with us until we were back at the car.  We finished the loop by skirting along the bank of Tipsoo Lake at Chinook Pass.

The entire 3 miles of this trail was just breathtaking.  The photos don’t compare with the real thing, but they are certainly better than any words I can use to describe the awesome beauty of this place.

We drove back down the mountain to the Grove of the Patriarchs where we found a picnic table in the shade for our lunch.  We wanted to see the big trees, of course, so we did the short 1-mile nature walk through this old growth forest.

Grove of the Patriarchs

Plenty hot and ready for an ice-cold glass of tea, we jumped in the truck, turned the AC up as high as it would go, and headed for home.  Hopefully, this will be the last day for these record high temperatures and we will get back to something more closely resembling normal.
Small unnamed lake

We do not yet have a plan for tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Skyline Trail at Mount Rainier

Monday afternoon, after we had hiked along the Skyline Trail up to the Muir Snowfield, I rattled on so much about Mount Rainier that I failed to mention much about the this, the most popular trail in the park or other aspects of our hike.

First, let me just mention our adventure trying to get to the trailhead.  Essentially, there are only three roads which give access to the interior of the park.  One of these main roads is closed right now because of a landslide.  It’s too bad because of the two roads leading to Paradise Lodge, it was the most convenient from our campground.  That road closure necessitated our driving around which took 2 hours.  The distance was not all that great, only 60 miles, but the road was so bad we could only do about 25-30 mph much of the time.  The road inside the park was not much better.  At least I didn’t think it could get much worse until the afternoon return trip.  During the time we were on the trail, road crews had managed to scrape off most of the road surface.  They are, at least, trying to make improvements.  I guess this means there will be road construction every time we want to use this road for the remainder of our stay.

Now, for our hike description.  Skyline Trail is a 5.5 mile loop beginning between the visitor center and Paradise Lodge, climbing about a 1000 feet to intersect with Pebble Creek Trail, then sweeping back down the mountain to close the loop.  There are several trail junctions along the route.  So many, in fact, that you can hardly tell which one is Skyline on the map.  Because this trail is so popular, it is paved for about a mile on the lower, or Paradise Lodge, section.

If you are hiking for the views, this trail has them.  We took the left side of the loop for our ascent and were never out of view of Mount Rainier.  After we passed the Pebble Creek trail and started our descent, we would occasionally get a ridge between us and the view of the mountain, but not often.  The farther down we went, however, the   better the views got.  Almost the entire trail is above tree line, so there were the huge vista where you could see for miles and miles if you didn’t want to be continually looking at Mount Rainier.

If you are hiking for the wildflowers, this is heaven.  I have never seen wildflowers in such abundance or in such variety over such a large area.  We have often seen trout lily covering a hillside and spring beauty so thick it looked like snow, but here, for the entire length of our hike (about 8 miles) we were never in an area that was not covered in flowers.  Well, unless it was covered in snow.

If you are hiking for creeks, streams, or waterfalls, there were plenty of those, also.  Of course, the snow was melting which produced lots of run off, some of which was in the trail.  At one point, the trail was completely covered with about 3 inches of swiftly running water.  There were numerous waterfalls, especially on the second half of our hike.  I was too tired by then to take pictures.  Some of these falls seemed large enough to be flowing year round; others were probably only visible during snowmelt.

I won’t repost the photos from Monday, but I will put up a couple to identify the flowers.

We stayed home today for a little rest and relaxation.  Tomorrow we are planning another trip up to Chinook Pass.  We hope to stop at the Grove of the Patriarchs to see the big trees and to do the 3 mile hike around Tipsoo lake.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mount St Helens

Today was a road trip 125 miles down to Mount St Helens.  As the crow flies, the distance is only about 60 miles, but there aren’t many roads in the crow lanes, so we had to drive around.

Mount St Helens last erupted on May 18, 1980 and many of us remember seeing coverage on our local news stations.  It is now a National Volcanic Monument within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.  This was a very hot and hazy day in Washington, but we still were able to get a bird’s eye view from the Johnston Observatory which sits directly across from the north side of the volcano.

Valley of the mud slide

In March of 1980 the volcano began to rumble.  The situation grew progressively worse until on Sunday, May 18th, triggered by an earthquake directly underneath, the north flank fell away resulting in the largest mudslide in recorded history.  Shortly afterwards, an eruptive blast blew 1300 feet off the top.  In the end, 230 square miles of forest had been flattened, the river valley was flooded to a depth of 150 feet with mountain debris, and 57 souls lost their lives.
Reforested by "the tree people"
Today, the area is recovering.  Thanks to Weyerhaeuser, who owned 96,000 of forest in the blast zone, the tree people were out within a couple of years replanting Douglas Fir and Noble Fir which were the dominant forest before the eruption. These trees will eventually be harvested, of course, but their efforts went a long way to getting the devastated landscape on the road to recovery.

We actually spent more hours on the road today than we spent at the volcano.  Tomorrow we will probably stick close to home.  After big milage days four days in a row, we need a rest day.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mount Rainier

This mountain is the highest peak in Washington, rising to 14,410 feet.  It is the 4th highest peak in the nation after Alaska’s Mt. McKinley, California’s Mt. Whitney, and Colorado’s Mt. Elbert.  It ranks along with Alaska, Montana, Oregon, and Wyoming in degree of difficulty to climb--all being class 4 technical climbs.

Our intent for today was to check out the Muir Snowfield.  This broad expanse of snow must be traversed to reach Muir Camp.  Typically, climbers leave Paradise Lodge on the Skyline Trail and hike 4 miles and almost 5000 feet to spend the night at Muir Camp.  The next morning (well, it is usually somewhere around 1 AM) they are up and on their way to the top--another 3 miles and 4500 feet across the glacier.  After their ascent, they come all the way down making it a very long day.

Muir Camp is accessible to the hearty hiker, so they say.  Skyline Trail to Pebble Creek is usually dirt in August (peek climbing season), although we crossed some snow today.  The snowfield is not so steep that you need crampons, so they say.  When we got to Pebble Creek, we perched ourselves on a rock and watched as several climbers made they way onto the snowfield.  Most slipped and we made a mental note of that.

Once upon a time, in a life far, far away, I wanted to climb this mountain.  People die on this mountain and I wouldn’t climb without a guide service.  Rainier Mountaineering came very highly recommended so a very good friend and I made reservations to climb with them.  They will not take anyone without mountaineering training so we also signed  up for mountaineering school.  My guardian angel was no doubt watching over me, because I just happened upon a photograph in a book somewhere of climbers high on the mountain.  It scared the beegeebies out of me.  I cancelled.  My friend subsequently took 3 mountaineering courses and was still unable to get up the mountain.  However, since that time, I have thought I would climb as far as Muir Camp.  That could be my summit.
There were hundreds of climbers on the trail

Gene at Peeble Creek
Today, we went to look at the snowfield.  We definitely noticed that most people slipped and we also noticed how long 2 miles looked from our vantage point and how high it went.  Information gathered, we backtracked on Pebble Creek Trail to Skyline and continued on around the loop.  On this portion of the Skyline Trail we had to cross many large areas of snow--enough to convince me that I didn’t need to be on Muir Snowfield.  I’ve always said I’ll go as high as I feel comfortable and on Mt Rainier, my summit was Pebble Creek.
Climbers getting ready for the snowfield.

I ain't going up there.
On our return, one of those snow areas had the trail marker buried and we missed our turn off to Paradise Lodge.  We probably went (downhill, of course) three quarters of a mile before we crossed another patch of snow.  There were hundreds of people on Skyline Trail and this patch of snow had not been crossed today.  That was our clue that we had missed our turn.  Adding that 1.5 mile to the already 6.5 miles, made two very tired puppies and a very long day.  Did I mention that one of the main roads to Paradise is closed resulting in a 2 hour drive around from our campground.

We have planned to hike again tomorrow, but that will depend on whether we can move well enough to get out of bed.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Last Day in Oregon

Today marks our last full day in the great state of Oregon.  Although we have concentrated our exploring to the western portion, we feel like we have broadened our appreciation and understanding of the state since our arrival here on June 20th.  We have visited two of the four National Park units (Fort Clatsop and Crater Lake), toured the capitol building, and hiked on the highest peak.  We have spent some time in the states largest city and driven all but about 80 miles of its coastline, what many would say is its most remarkable feature.  Certainly, there is more of Oregon out there that we haven’t seen than what we have, but that only means we’ll have to come back some day.

Gene and I have a habit at the end of the day of asking each other “what was your favorite part of today”.  We got started doing this in 2003 when we did our first long distance hike on the Appalachian Trail.  It is a simple question, but it requires us to reflect on our day and focus on the positive parts rather than the negative.  We have continued that practice and always, without exception, our favorite moments are those we share with friends.  We have been blessed during the past 5 weeks of having the opportunity of visiting with 2 different full-timing couples and meeting and making friends with several others.

Since we are practically in Washington already (if the trees weren’t so tall in the campground, we could see it from here), we have only a short distance to travel tomorrow to put us in the vicinity of Mt Rainier.  We don’t plan a crack of dawn departure.  However, Washington has been in our scopes for 3 years and we are anxious to get there.  I doubt we linger here long tomorrow.

We are going to a campground that does not have cable TV and does not have WiFi.  If you don’t hear from me tomorrow, it will be because they also don’t have a Verizon signal for my air card.

So long Oregon, it’s been great.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Moments in our Lives

From time to time the moon phases, the planets align, or molecules collide--something happens that causes an ordinarily routine and mundane life to unravel.  One such moment occurred in our household late yesterday afternoon.

Earlier in the day we had spent a couple hours at Borders Books.  In the interest of good citizenry, I switched my phone to vibrate.  When we got home from the bookstore, I put the phone on the kitchen counter and never gave it another thought.

As I was preparing dinner, I noticed an odd sound coming from the air conditioner.  I looked up, but couldn’t see anything that seemed out of place.  Since cold air was spewing forth and the strange noise had stopped, I went on about my business and promptly forgot the incident.

After dinner, Gene and I were watching the end of a news program and that odd noise again interrupted our thoughts.  This time he heard it and I explained about it’s previous occurrence and offered the opinion that apparently there was something wrong with the air conditioner.  He checked out the air conditioner much in the same manner as I had.  Still, cold air was spewing out, nothing seemed to be out of place, and the noise had stopped.

Occasionally, thoughts just flow from my mind.  That doesn’t happen so often any more.  It’s like a domino effect triggered by a single thought.  The air conditioner incidents led to thoughts of our service appointment scheduled for this morning which led to the idea that I really should check to be sure the sofa bed worked.  We have one of those new sofa beds which unfolds from the back of the sofa rather than from the inside.  It has an attached inflatable air mattress which already has the pump connected and plugged in.  All you have to do is flip the switch.  We needed it to work since my folks are coming for a visit next month.  We would not have another time as convenient as this to have it fixed if it didn’t work.  These thoughts led to the realization that this would also be the last large town with a Wal-Mart and Target so convenient for sheets, if the ones I used on the old sofa didn’t fit this one.

We unfolded the sofa bed and flipped the switch.  It worked great and it is far more comfortable that the old one.  I went up to the bedroom to get a sheet for testing.  As I walked past the kitchen counter, the phone buzzed.

The call was from our good friends, Tony and Diana, who are making their way to Washington and we are anxiously awaiting the time when we can spend a few days together.  Tony was on the other end of the line, but he quickly switched to speaker phone to include Diana in the conversation.  I wanted to do the same for Gene.  When I looked down at the screen I noticed I had missed 2 calls.  I pressed the little speaker symbol, but the screen just toggled between “listen” and “later”.  I was flustered, but I had to get back to the conversation.  I had already missed too many words to participate intelligently.  It suddenly occurred to my feeble brain that I didn’t have an air conditioner problem at all, it was the phone making that odd noise.  That resolved, I desperately tried to get back to the situation at hand.  I didn’t want our friends to think I didn’t want to include Gene in the conversation so I tried again to turn on the speaker--again with the same results--no luck with the speaker, more words of the conversation lost and another crazy response to a comment not fully understood.  I would be best served by just passing the phone to Gene, I decided.  That way they would at least know he was alive and well and that we were still together.  This move worked pretty well and hopefully, Tony and Diana haven’t wondered too much about my mental stability.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Portland Fairview RV Park

This has been another day quite like yesterday.  Gene and I each found a chore or two to do, some internet surfing to do, and a whole lot of relaxing to do.  Two outings occupied a portion of the day.  This morning we sought out the local Target store to purchase another  decorative “over the door” hook to match the one we have in the bathroom.  Now we have a better place to hang our hats.  This afternoon, we spent a couple hours over coffee and books at the local Borders Bookstore.  This is one of our favorite things to do, but one that is often neglected in favor of hiking or sightseeing.

I realized last evening that I have failed to comment on this campground and we have been here almost 2 weeks.  Portland Fairview RV Park is located just off I-84 on the East side of Portland in the suburb of Fairview.  Being on the city bus and light rail line, it affords easy access to the city without the hassle of driving into a strange city and parking headaches.  Besides our plans to visit the city, we also wanted to hike some at  Mt. Hood.  Being on the east side of town gave us quick access to the mountain without having to drive across town.

P-F RV Park is very well maintained and is a delightful place.  It is really a very large park with nearly 400 sites, but it is built on 3 levels and thus doesn’t feel like so large a park.  We are parked on the third, or lowest, tier which is generally reserved for long-term guests of a month of longer.  The manager put us here to be near our friends who are workampers here.  Each tier has a couple of restrooms and a laundry facility.  Laundry is relatively close to everyone, but they also provide parking at the laundry for those who don’t want to walk from their site.  The clubhouse and pool (with water aerobics each morning) is on the upper tier and we have a hot tub on our level.  Between the second and third level is a beautiful shaded picnic area and the building housing the exercise equipment.  Behind this rustic building is a small stream which empties into a small pond, home of the resident ducks.

All interior roads are paved and all sites are paved with a paved extension for cars or trucks.  Each site is separated from the next site by a patch of grass which is watered and mowed regularly.  All sites have picnic tables.  Cable TV is available, but we are so close to a large metro area that we have gotten better reception over the air.  Free WiFi is adequate.  The only down side is the train, but we have gotten use to it.  That first night when we thought it might come right in the window was shocking.

Tomorrow--Camping World--8 AM.  I can almost predict it will be an all day adventure.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Kicked Back and Relaxed

With a weather forecast for broiling, we decided last night that today might be a fantastic day to stick close to home (and the air conditioner) with nothing in particular on the agenda.  As is so often the case with our weather forecasts, they got it all wrong again.  However, our day at home was all that more pleasant with moderate temperatures.

We really didn’t have anything special to do today.  As far as I can tell, I got only one chore done, besides making the bed and getting dressed.  I defrosted the freezer.  Although it is my least favorite chore, it really isn’t so bad if the frost build up doesn’t get out of hand. I try to defrost once a month.  It takes about 20 minutes with a few helpful shots with the hair dryer.

While the Peanut slept this morning, I played with my computer some.  When I got the Apple, I also purchased an external hard drive for backup purposes, but also for photo storage.  I fiddled with that until I discovered how to retrieve just one photo instead of all the photos which had been backed up.  I also played around with “Keynote”, Apple’s equivalent to Power Point, a presentation software.

I’m not sure what Gene did this morning.  I did notice he still had his pajamas on about 10 AM.  He went to the grocery to pick up cokes and bread.  He came back with cokes and cereal.

The temperature was still in the 70s right after lunch so we both sat outside for a little while.  Peanut joined us until he got bored with just sitting.  He’ll get old like me one of these days and will enjoy just sitting.  As the temperature rose and the sweat popped out, I ran off to take a shower.

We actually have no plans for tomorrow, so it may be another day like today.  We do need to prepare to haul the Everest down the street to Camping World for the leak repair.  Since the leak is behind the wall in the basement storage area, we will need to move enough stuff out of the basement for the mechanic to have access to the plumbing.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Just north of Portland, across the Columbia River in Washington is the town of Vancouver.  In the very early 1800s, there was sort of a friendly dispute between Great Britain and the United States as to who should control this portion of the continent they called “Oregon Country”.  Eventually, they agreed to share access until they could make a final decision.  In 1825 Britain tried to stake a claim to the area by setting up the Hudson’s Bay Company headquarters at what they called Fort Vancouver.  Fur trade was their business, especially beaver fur, and under the direction of John McLoughlin, Fort Vancouver became the fur trade capital of the Pacific northwest.
Bastion, no shot was ever fired in anger

Chief Factor's residence

As the trade business grew, so did the “fort”.  This center of commerce in the wilderness was quite attractive to folks back east and thus started the steady stream of wagons over what would become known as the Oregon Trail.  The influx of Americans to the area pretty much forced a decision as to who would have control and in 1846 the US border was set at the 49th parallel.  Although Fort Vancouver was now in American hands, the Hudson’s Bay Company continued to trade with Native Americans and the newly arriving settlers.
Indian Trade Store

The counting house

Of course,  there is a limited amount of furs to be had when so many were trapping.  The availability of furs declined and so did business.  By the 1860s, the Hudson’s Bay Company closed up shop.  The fort fell into disrepair and eventually burned.
McLaughlin insisted on gardens

Today, under the direction of the National Park Service, the fort is being excavated and restored.  The ranger-led tour we joined was very informative and, being with a ranger, we were able to see the archeologists hard at work cataloging relics from the Fort’s hey day.
Gen Marshall's house

After the US took control of the area, it established an Army base just outside the Fort.  Across the street from the Fort is Officer’s Row.  These upscale homes were sold to the city and several are leased to various businesses and some for private residences.  Three of these homes are open to the public.  The US Grant House is now a restaurant.  We were able to tour the George C. Marshall House.  General Marshall lived in this 9,000 square foot house until he was called away for WWII.

We tried to get our touring done before the heat got too bad, but were unsuccessful.  We had originally planned to hike again tomorrow, but, with the heat, may stay inside instead.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Gillette Lake

We got in a really good leg stretcher today.  The Pacific Crest Trail passes near here.  We decided to hike north along the PCT beginning on the Washington side of the Columbia River.  We drove east on I-84 about 30 miles to the Cascade Locks.  We crossed into Washington on the Bridge of the Gods to find our trailhead just to the left of the bridge.

This was a moderate hike starting out by heading west and following the road for about 3/4 mile before turning north and heading deeper into the forest.  We rolled gently along the side of the mountain for 3.5 miles, finally reaching the beautiful little Gillette Lake.

We had brought our sandwiches and had our lunch on the bank of the lake, but we could have caught our lunch if we’d brought fishing equipment.  Instead, we were entertained by the jumping fish who were catching their lunch of bugs just above the surface of the water.
Mountain above Gillette
Our quiet reverie was interrupted by a family group of 9 who came down to swim in the lake.  Who would have thought grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, aunt, uncle, and 3 children would have hiked 5 miles for a quick dip in the lake?  Why weren’t they at the hotel pool?  Actually, it was good to see a complete family on an outing together.  It is increasingly rare these days.  We took turns following each other back to where they turned down another trail to their car.  A little noisy, but a delight never the less.

Home now and having had showers, we are now planning a relaxing evening in air conditioned comfort.  It is hot today (in the low 90s) with a forecast of steadily warmer days until we reach 100 degrees by the weekend.

We have a short trip to Vancouver, Washington planned for tomorrow.  We’ll have to go early to try to beat the heat.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Journey's End for Lewis and Clark

After 4,000 miles Lewis, Clark, and the Corps of Discovery reached the Pacific Ocean.  Our journey today took us to Fort Clatsop.  This was the site where Lewis and Clark and their party wintered in 1805 before the arduous journey back across the continent.
Landing spot on the Lewis and Clark River
After touring the small museum and the replica of Fort Clatsop, we continued north along US 101 crossing the Columbia River on the Astoria Bridge.  Lewis and Clark, et al, actually landed on the north shore of the Columbia in what is now Washington.  There are several Lewis and Clark points of interest in the vicinity, but since our time was limited we went to Cape Disappointment and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

This was a very nice interactive museum outlining the entire journey with an emphasis on the Columbia River segment.  We could have spent considerably more time there, but with the long drive back to Portland, we had to tear ourselves away.
Cape Disappointment lighthouse

North Head light

View from North Head Light

Tomorrow we are going to hike.  We need to give our legs a stretch after the 5 hours in the truck today.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hot Showers

This has turned out to be an absolutely wonderful day.  By the time we went to bed last night, we had a rough idea of how we wanted to rearrange our trip to best utilize our time in Washington.  Gene was able to make a list of the campgrounds, their phone numbers and what changes in our reservations he wanted to make.  Since none of those campground offices opened before 9 AM, we sipped coffee and had a leisurely breakfast.  This is not a bad way to start any day.

After breakfast, I took the time to catch up on various blogs I regularly read and on emails.  I also made a batch of cookies.   Gene was busy with his campground list.  His first order of business was to extend our stay here and cancel the reservations where we had planned to go tonight.

Our original plan called for a 3 night stay near Mount St. Helen’s then on to Mt. Rainier for a 9 night stay.  Following Rainier, we were going to return to the coast to see the Lewis and Clark stuff near Astoria, Oregon.  Then it was on to Forks for a few days to visit the Hoh Rain Forest, then start our month stay near Port Angeles.  Last night during the course of our long discussion with maps, guide books, my National Park Passport book, and High Points book in hand, we decided our priorities for Washington were Mt. Rainier, Hoh Rain Forest, and Olympic National  Park.  With that in mind, we decided to cancel all our reservations except Mt Rainier and Port Angeles.  Our latest plan (and of course our plans can and do change) is to visit Astoria and the Lewis and Clark stuff this week.  It is a little over a hundred miles over there, but it is still doable as a day trip.  While at Mt. Rainier (which we will extend to a 2-week stay) we will visit Mount St. Helen’s.   We’ll stay longer at Mt. Rainier than originally planned and eliminate our stay at Forks.  We can make a few day trips to the Hoh Rain Forest from Port Angeles instead.  We are happy with this new itinerary.  Gene was able to make all the necessary changes with the exception of Mt. Rainier.  That campground did not answer their phone and have not as yet returned our call.  Gene sent them an email requesting a change in our reservation, but, again, we have not had a response.  If that works out, then this plan is a go.

Our temperatures have moderated somewhat, and today was much cooler than the past few with afternoon temps in the 80s rather than the 90s.  With a slight breeze, it was very comfortable sitting outside.  Neighbors, Joyce and Mac, came over for a short time.  I thoroughly enjoyed just sitting out enjoying the sunshine, the fresh air, and visiting with friends.  We first met Mac and Joyce in Nashville a little over 3 years ago.  They were parked next to us at the Yogi Campground where they were starting their workamping position for the season.  We quickly became friends and have followed their travels over these past years, always looking for an opportunity for our paths to cross again.

Since we think our leak is from the drain pipe from the shower, we used the campground showers this afternoon.  Oh my.  First let me say the showers were spotless and there were plenty of showers for the number of campsites.  One of the things I missed most when moving into our RV were the loooong, hooooot showers.  At first, I always went to the “big shower house” in the campground.  As time passed, I slowly got in the habit of showering in our RV.  As Gene was fond of saying, “I paid a lot of money for my own bathroom and I’m gonna use it”.  Finally, the convenience of having my own bathroom with all my stuff and not having to wear flip flops to bathe, I gave up my habit of loooong, hooooot showers.  It has been about 3 years since I’ve had a shower like that. There was lots of water pressure and unending hot water.  By the end of the week, I may have slipped back into my old sinful ways.

Tomorrow, we are planning our trip to Astoria to visit the Lewis and Clark stuff.  It will be a long day with at least 4 hours on the road.  My post may be very late.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Best Laid Plans....

Yesterday and today have been days of relaxation interspersed with chores.  We have been hiking and sightseeing almost nonstop since we arrived in Portland after a pretty busy schedule at Salem.  We were in need of getting the heavy cleaning done, as well as a real grocery run.  With this daily activity routine for so many days in a row, we were also in need of some down time.  So we have actually enjoyed the past two days sticking around home.

We had taken showers this afternoon and were settling in for a relaxing evening.  Earlier in the day we had invited our neighbors over for a glass of wine and were looking forward to a visit with friends.  For some reason, Gene went outside and happened to notice water on the concrete below our rig.  On further investigation he noticed a leak.  A leak anywhere, whether in a traditional house or in an RV, is a significant problem.

Given the location of the wet spot on the concrete, we felt it was coming from the shower.  We had both just had showers, so that made sense.  We needed to know for sure where the water was coming from, so Gene took everything out of the basement and took the wall panel off to gain access to the plumbing.  Sure enough one connection along the drain pipe from the shower was wet and had dripped down to the flooring below.  The wet spot on the wood was small and did not look like it had been wet for an extended amount of time.  That was all good news.

However, a leak has to be repaired, so we set about task of determining what would be our best course of action.  As it turns out, there is an Everest dealer just down the street from our campground here.  They would be able to do this warranty work plus the other few minor warranty issues we have noticed since moving into the Everest.  After our friends left, Gene called the dealership and was able to make an appointment for next Friday.  Tomorrow he will contact the campgrounds we would have been going to this week and rearrange our plan.

Emergencies happen and we understand that.  No matter where you are in life, you have to make adjustments for unexpected events.  Still, we are quite dismayed and somewhat disappointed.  Gene, especially, worked many hours toiling over the maps and making phone calls to the campgrounds to arrange our stays for the time we would be in Washington.  Now he will have to call and cancel some and try to schedule different dates for others.

We can rearrange our plan and by doing some day trips from here, still get to see most of what we had originally planned.  All is not lost and it is certainly better to have found the leak earlier rather than later.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mt Hood

Mt. Hood is the highest point in the state of Oregon.  This glaciated dormant volcano rises 11,239 feet above sea level.  As a high point, it is on my life list.

Now, I’m not into ropes, crampons, or ice axes.  If I can’t see dirt, I don’t want to go there.  If my hands and arms have to support most of my weight, I don’t want to go there.  I also like to have an established marked trail.  There are no trails to the summit of this mountain.  Since Mt. Hood is rated a class 4 technical climb, the top was never on my list of things to do.  To mark this mountain off my high points list, I planned to go as high as I felt comfortable.  At least, I can say I’ve been there--I saw the mountain.
Summit Parking lot, summit is 4 miles away

Gene had researched possibilities for our “climb” and came up with Cooper Spur Trail on the east side of the mountain.  Although Cooper Spur does not go to the summit, it is the highest established and maintained trail on the mountain.  Plus this is the second most popular climbing route to the summit.  That all sounded good to us.  Gene printed the directions to the trailhead, trail description and maps off and we started out just before 8 AM for the 60 mile drive.

Our driving directions indicated we should continue on US 35 to Cooper Spur Road.  After several miles we came to an intersection with a road sign “to Cooper Spur Road”.  We were confused so decided to continue on to the Forest Service Office just a quarter mile down US 35.  We learned from the ranger, to our shock and dismay, that the forest service road we were to take after Cooper Spur Road was closed.  The only way to get to our trailhead was to walk an extra 9 miles.  That was not an option.

Cooper Spur Trail being eliminated, our only other choice was to go around to the south side of the mountain to Timberline Lodge.  This is the ski area and the trailhead for the most popular route to the summit.  The only problem with that is that the snow comes all the way down to the lodge.  This may be the only ski lift in the country that is open year round.  Besides that, the only established trail in the lodge area is the Pacific Crest Trail and its high point on the mountain is the lodge.  Oh well, no other choice, so that is where we headed.
As high as I got on the first try

When we got to Timberline Lodge parking lot, we were surprised to see that the snow had melted in areas as far up the mountain as perhaps a 1000 or 1500 feet.  And in the dirt, we could see several paths going up.  These were paths made by skiers and snowboarders who were not using the lift.  We hoisted our packs and chose a path that looked pretty good.  After a half mile or so it went under the snow.  We could see other paths that looked heavily used so we went back down and took the Pacific Crest Trail to connect with one of these other paths.  We got lucky this time and were able to climb for about a mile.  We were pretty high on the mountain, almost as high as the ski lift and almost to the glacier.
This is my summit

Speaking of the ski lift.  Yes, we could have ridden on the lift higher than we were able to climb.  However, since I wasn’t going to the summit, riding the lift seemed somehow like cheating.  If I wasn’t going to the top, the least I could do was hike as far as I went.  Most climbers don’t use the lift anyway; they either hike or hire a sno-cat to take them to the top of the lift.  They reduce their chances of getting off the mountain safely, if they way until morning to ride the lift.  The climbers are on the mountain far before day light.
Timberline Lodge, Mt Jefferson in the background

While at Timberline we toured the lodge.  It was built in the late 1930 and is fairly rustic--what you would expect of an early ski lodge.

We were pretty pooped after the 60 mile drive back home, but excited to have experienced another one of those “life list” things.

Powell Books and Voodoo

Portland is a large metropolitan area with a population of about 2 million.  It is the largest of the Oregon cities.  Located on the Washington border and only about 75 miles from the Pacific coast, it is in close proximity to the Cascade Range, Mt. Rainier, Columbia River, and the sweet goodness of one of the leading fruit producing states in the nation.

Maple cream 

Being  a large city, it offers amenities many smaller towns don’t have--art museums, a symphony, and the availability of most goods and services.  In other words--Portland’s got it all.
Triple chocolate penetration, cocoa puffs on top

One thing we really enjoy are bookstores.  Powell’s Books, located in downtown, and taking up the entire block between 10th and 11th, is the largest used bookstore in the world.  Like the city of Portland, this 3-story megastore has it all.  With so many books, organization was a challenge.  The store is divided into colored rooms--gold room houses mysteries, red room is devoted to travel, pearl room has arts and photography.  Certainly the avid reader and book lover could live here.  I would consider taking up residence, but my budget wouldn’t tolerate it.  We have a favorite used bookstore at home where we can pick up most any title for $3-5.  I often find something at goodwill for $1.  So I was a little dismayed to find prices of $6-10.  My $20 bill wasn’t going to go very far.  I did come away with 3 mysteries to read, but it was a very hard decision not to buy that photography book instead.  Gene spent his whole wad on one new Rick Steves travel book.
Powell's Books

We had read in a travel guide about Voodoo Doughnuts.  It could be argued that we like doughnuts better than books, so how could we resist with a name like that and within walking distance of the bookstore.

We were quite surprised to round the corner and find a line on the street to get into this dive.  We took our place in line and waited.  The wait was fairly entertaining.  Several in line, like us, had not been there before.  The regulars were asked about their favorite flavors, the newbies were making pictures and the mentally challenged gentlemen sitting on the bench in front of the store seemed to be reciting the names of the galaxies.  When we finally got inside, it was tiny.  Not much bigger than my little RV kitchen.  There were no tables--to go only.  Many newbies were surprised by the “cash only” sign.  Lucky for them, there was an ATM right there in the corner.  How convenient.  We stumbled with our order, but finally managed to get a variety--triple chocolate penetration, blueberry cake, maple cream-filled, butter fingering, raised chocolate glazed.  Outside, we found a bench in Pioneer Square and chowed down.  They were good, but not any better than a hot Krispy Kreme.

I seem to be a day behind in my posts.  We went to Mt. Hood today.  Tomorrow is going to be chore day, so maybe I can get that story posted early.  I’m certainly too tired to do it tonight