A Cold Day for Shopping

Monday September 30th 2019

The temperature was in the high forties inside this morning. Once the sun started to hit windows and the little electric heater had time to work the inside temperature rose quickly into the comfortable range. Outside the temperature never got above the mid fifties. Monday overnight into Tuesday the temperature is forecast to get down into the high twenties in this area. The temperature trend turns warmer from Tuesday forward.

The occasional storm cloud made the day feel cold.

Probably because this is the last day of September, several of the long term residents of the park packed and departed today. Last Thursday when I arrived the park was full at night. With the weekenders and many of the long term residents gone the park feels almost empty. Some of the long term residents that are staying have started to get ready for winter. Tonight’s forecasted low in the twenties probably pushed their time line a little. During my late afternoon walk, I saw one guy putting skirting around the outside of his trailer and a couple of others adding heat tape to their water hoses. For this little single night cold event, all I’ve done is turn off the outside water and disconnected the hose. If I were staying in this area for the winter I’d be doing all of the things the long term residents are doing too.

A better picture of the California Zephyr as it passed over the railroad bridge today,

I made an attempt at shoe shopping today. The shopping area I went to was a real maze of roads and buildings. As near as I can tell the store buildings were in two concentric circles separated by roads and parking lots. I found one of the stores I was looking for, but not the other despite driving in circles. I’m still being too picky looking for a pair of New Balance walking shoes like I’m wearing out now. Before to long I’m going to have to settle for a different brand. They will probably be better anyway.

Lots of pine cones falling out of the pines in today’s wind.

An Indoor Sunday

Sunday September 29th 2019

It was 46 degrees inside my RV home when I got up this morning. The reported overnight low outside was a little warmer than the forecast at 34 degrees. I spent a warm night in bed after adding an extra blank before I turned in. The high temperature for the day was 48 degrees. It’s hard to believe it was in the low 90s when I arrived in the Reno area on Thursday. The expected highs this time of year are in the mid seventies. A return to those temperatures is forecast for the second half of this week.

Snow high on the mountains to the north.

I spent most of the day inside watching NFL football games and the NASCAR race on TV. The local game in this area was the Oakland Raiders vs Indianapolis Colts. My eyes were focused on the scores crawling across the bottom of the screen more than on the game action. I was interested in the Patriots vs Bills score. The NASCAR race from Charlotte was different. This is the second year the race has been held on a modified course called a “Roval”. They added road course elements to the banked oval.

One of the trees on this campground road is already bright yellow. Other trees in the campground have also started to turn. There were storm clouds overhead all day.

After the race I bundled up and went outside for a walk to get some exercise. Walking around the park I noticed some of the trees are turning yellow. I think the last couple of cold nights have accelerated the change. With a couple more cold nights in the forecast, there may be some real fall color in the area before I move on next week.

The campground has many openings tonight. I hope all the California people that left this morning had success getting home. Donner Pass on Interstate 80 was closed for awhile last night for a weather related accident. There was also a chain requirement at times late yesterday and overnight. The Sacramento area is a little over one hundred miles west on Interstate 80, so I’m assuming that’s where many of the Californians that left today are headed.

California Zephyr crossing the Truckee River.

While I was on my walk a train went by the campground. I’m used to trains passing campgrounds, but they usually make a lot more noise. These tracks are not as close to the campground as some, but more significantly they are down at the level of the Truckee River about 300 feet below the campground. The train got my attention because it wasn’t your everyday freight. It was Amtrak’s California Zephyr headed east. The passengers on board will arrive in Chicago in about forty eight hours if they go the distance.

It’s Getting Cold

Saturday September 28th 2019

I tend to write about the weather too much, but I need to vent about winter in September. The temperature went down all day from the starting point in the fifties. Around noon clouds started to appear over the mountains to the west. A little over an hour later it was raining hard. Three hours later the sun was back out and the temperature was in the thirties. It has showered off and on since. One of the showers sounded more like sleet.

Bad weather coming over the mountains to the west.

When I took a walk before darkness, I saw snow on the foothills to the north. There was a clear line between the brown ground and the think layer of snow. Checking a detailed forecast online indicated snow is possible down to 4500 feet in elevation in this area. Checking my altitude brought the added insight that I’m above 4800 feet. I guess I may see snow before this early winter weather episode ends on Monday. The temperature is only supposed to get down to around thirty in this area during the period around dawn. That shouldn’t be enough to freeze water lines inside the RV basement.

After two or three hours of rain, a light covering of snow is visible higher up in the nearby foothills.

The cold weather and a little bit of snow aren’t a big problem when your prepared. The problem is I’m only half prepared. My current campsite only has 30amp electric service. I can not run multiple electric heat sources at that amperage. Running the propane furnace is the alternative, but I haven’t filled the tank recently. I only have a quarter of a tank. All this means I have to conserve. I’ll use one electric heater and turn it off when I need to run other big draws like the microwave. The gas furnace will only get used early in the morning or when I need to make a quick change in the temperature. Leaving my site to get more propane is a last resort.

Stuffed animals indigenous to the local area at Cabelas.

Before the weather deteriorated this afternoon, I spent some time shopping in the nearby Cabelas sporting goods store. This store provided the full Cabelas experience. Large areas of the store were filled with stuffed wild animals and aquariums filled with native fish. Viewing the museum like exhibits breaks up the shopping experience. I didn’t find anything that I wanted to buy today, but I may be back before I leave the area. I want to check out a couple of other places first.

African animals at the local Cabelas.

Settling in for a 2 Week Stay

Friday September 27th 2019

After two straight days of travel it was nice to take it easy today. The weather was a little more seasonable than Thursday’s ninety degree high temperature. The temperature peaked in the mid seventies under a bright sunny sky. The only down side to the day was a very strong wind. I’m glad I wasn’t driving the RV today.

View to the north with the shadows from the clouds on the hill side.

After a leisurely breakfast with a rare second cup of coffee, I finished some of the set up tasks I didn’t do yesterday. The bicycle and rack are off the car making it ready for touring and I stowed all of the car towing equipment. Working outside was complicated. There are a lot of bees around. They were buzzing all around me and even landing on me. Buzzing bees are distracting, but landing one can be painful. The next step after landing could be stinging, but I survived. As the wind got stronger the bees went for cover.

Truckee River below the campground

There was a fair amount of turnover in the campground today. I thought most of the people arriving yesterday were here for the weekend, but many of them left this morning. The park has more than a normal number of motorcycles in residence. A little research on the internet turned up the fact that the twenty fifth annual occurrence of a large regional motorcycle is running from Wednesday through Sunday. The bikers are spread out from Reno down to Carson City and Lake Tahoe with events and rides in all the major areas.

View to the east as the sun sets to the west.

As the sun set this afternoon the temperature dropped quickly. Tomorrow is forecast to have a high temperature around fifty with a chance of rain in this area. Sunday is currently forecast to be even cooler with a chance of snow in the high passes. The next three day’s weather will be similar to what this area gets in November.

Sunset over the hill to the west.

A Travel Day Full of Annoyances

Thursday September 26th 2019

Today was filled with small annoyances. The first one was sleeping until almost 8:30. It didn’t work well with my plan for an early start. Since it was only an overnight stop I didn’t have a lot of prep work to complete. I pulled out of my site at 9:30.

That’s when the second annoyance came along. I had an unusual amount of difficulty getting the car hooked up for towing. One of the two bar arms didn’t lock into place when I pulled forward. I had to stop and unhitch the car and try again after repositioning the car. On the second attempt the other tow bar arm didn’t lock into place. My third attempt was on the other side of the campground on more even ground. That one worked. I’ve never had to try three times before. It may be time for a new tow bar. This one has over 35,000 miles on it.

The next annoyance was at the agricultural inspection entering California. This is the third time I’ve crossed into California with the Motorhome. It is the first time they asked about plants. My Christmas Cactus, that has been riding with me for four years, got a cursory inspection by a young guy that probably wouldn’t know an invasive bug if it crawled on him. It was only a couple of minute delay, but an annoyance none the less.

A few miles down the road my plan to put gas in the RV changed. The station I’d scoped out on Google Maps was not as easy to get into as I’d hoped and the cost of gas in California was over four dollars a gallon. I had more gas in the tank than I’d thought when I made the plan, so I continued on to Nevada for gas. As it turns out, I reached my destination west of Reno with a quarter tank of gas without stopping. I’ll buy gas when I leave in two weeks. This will be a bigger annoyance if gas prices climb significantly during that time.

The last big annoyance was the temperature. It was just below fifty when I got up this morning. I started my travel day in long pants and a sweatshirt. As I traveled the temperature kept climbing. Since I didn’t stop for gas and I didn’t see any open rest areas, I never had a chance to take the sweatshirt off. The temperature kept climbing. By the time I reached Reno it was 91 degrees outside. Inside wasn’t much better. When I pushed the button to turn on the coach AC it didn’t start. Somewhere along the cool Oregon coast I turned off the fan. Once I got to my destination and had time to study the switches, it only took a few seconds to fix.

Site G155 at the Reno KOA

I’m at the Reno KOA in Verdi Nevada for the next two weeks. I stayed here in May of 2017. The atmosphere of the campground has changed. This time it has more full time residents. Many of the trailers don’t even have license tags. When the school bus pulled up in front of the campground at least a dozen young kids got off. It is still and OK parking lot style park.

Today’s hot weather in the Reno area may be the last hurrah of summer. A cold front is coming in from the northwest that has the weekend forecast in this area calling for rain with highs in the forties. Snow is in the forecast for the nearby mountains.

Travel to Goose Lake State Recreation Area

Wednesday September 25th 2019

I hoped to get an early start this morning, but it didn’t happen. Since I refuse to set an alarm, I slept an hour later than I’d intended. I got up at 8AM and was on the road a little after ten.

My first order of business was to fill the RV’s gas tank. It right around a quarter tank when I arrived last week, because I couldn’t buy gas at the station I chose. Today I had two stations with good access that I already scouted. I filled the tank with over 60 gallons at $2.94 per gallon. There were other stations down the road a few miles, but they weren’t as easy to get into and most were more expensive. Once I turned south east off of US97 on Oregon 31, I didn’t see anymore opportunities for fuel. Tomorrow will have similar long gaps between stations, so I’ll probably fill the tank early in California. It’s better to spend the extra in California than risk running out before I get to Nevada. Although, I can probably make it on fumes.

Traffic was light to non existent as I navigated the narrow one lane in each direction roads. Most of the roads were OK, but there were stretches that were very bumpy and bouncy. I hate it when the bumps want to send you to the left when the road is turning to the right. I had one interesting climb. The caution sign said “Shoulder Steep Drop”. That was a bit of an understatement. Three feet from where the pavement stopped, there was a 300 foot high cliff with no guard rail. I had to keep two hands tightly gripping the steering wheel for about 3 miles while I wound my way up the side of the cliff.

The terrain went from National Forests filled with pine trees to high desert. Some of the desert was irrigated for farming, but most of it seemed to be used for cattle ranching. I don’t think that the highway was passing through open range, but I did pass a group of three or four cattle grazing on the side of the road without any fence keeping them out of the road. I slowed down for a few miles so I didn’t come around a corner to find a huge hunk of beef in the road.

Site 5 at the first come first serve Goose Lake State Recreation Area.

My stop for the night is at the Goose Lake State Recreation area just on the Oregon side of the state line with California. This is a small, older state campground. It only has twenty amp electrical service, but on the plus side, it has a herd of mule deer that share the park with the campers. One crossed in front of me as I arrived shortly after 2PM. I went looking for the rest of the deer just before dusk. I spotted a few, but they were on the other side of a large field. Maybe they’ll be nearer in the morning.

Heavily cropped picture of the deer at the Goose Lake State Recreation Area.

I’m about half way to my destination in the Reno Nevada area. I have another 220 miles to travel tomorrow. A departure between ten and eleven should get me through Reno traffic before the heavy afternoon rush.

More Pictures than Words.

Tuesday September 24th 2019

I got a slow start this morning. The sun had already warmed the interior of the RV to seventy. Outside it took until afternoon to reach the days high temperature in the low seventies.

I’ll miss watching my neighbors graze in the back field.
I’m still not certain this is a real owl. It didn’t move while I stood watching it.

I spent the day at home working on various chores and getting ready to travel tomorrow. I’ve completed most of the outside travel prep tasks so I can get an earlier start than normal. My next two week long stop is in the Reno Nevada area. It is about 450 miles from here. I plan to stop one night along the way, but I haven’t made any reservations. I have a plan A and a plan B for stopping tomorrow night. I can always come up with plan C if necessary, even if it is driving all the way to Reno. Check back tomorrow night to see what happens.

Nice pink and red sunset tonight.
Mt Jefferson with the sun setting on the far side of the Cascades.

Crossing the Crooked River

Monday September 23rd 2019

After a wet and rain day on Sunday, today was a dry day with filtered sunlight all day. The only thing blocking the sun was a layer of thin wispy clouds high in the sky. The temperature made it to a little above seventy.

I explored the area south of my RV home toward Bend Oregon today. My first stop was at the Peter Skene Ogden State Park. This park is basically a wayside park on the side of US 97 which is the main north south route on the east side of the Cascades. The park is located were the highway crosses the Crooked River three hundred feet below the road’s surface.

New modern highway 97 bridge over the Crooked River.
1929 bridge across the Crooked river with the active modern bridge behind.

In this location there are three bridges across a narrow canyon with the river below. The first is a railroad bridge built in 1910 to support a short line railroad from the Columbia River to Bend Oregon. The second bridge was the built in 1926 to carry the traffic on US 97 across the river. It is currently used as a walking path. The third bridge is the current highway bridge across the canyon which opened in 2000.

1909 railroad bridge across the Crooked river. Two snow capped mountains in the Cascades range peek over the bridge deck.
A railroad service truck cross the railroad bridge riding the rails.

Each bridge is an impressive structure, but the real beauty is the canyon. The steep brown and black walls are three feet high. The river below is a flowing narrow green ribbon. Looking to the west above the railroad bridge the snow capped peaks of the Cascade mountains keep watch over the area.

The canyon and river turn to the north just west of the railroad bridge with more mountain peaks in the Cascade range visible in the distance.

After visiting the park, I continued my drive south to Bend. I’ll be repeating the trip on Wednesday when I leave the area. On the way back I stopped at the Walmart in Redmond to stock up on groceries. This is a big newer Walmart that has a wide selection of merchandise, but they needed to do a better job keeping the grocery shelves stocked. My other gripe is the high number of self service checkouts vs. staffed checkouts. There were only two checkouts with a human to assist with checking out.

A Little Rain and Lots of Football on TV

Sunday September 22nd 2019

The last full day of summer was cool and rainy in central Oregon. The cool and wet trend in this area has prepared me for fall, but looking at the big picture it’s hard to believe summer is over. I only experienced the real heat of summer in late June and July. I spent August on the coast where the ocean doesn’t allow the temperature to get above the seventies very often. Overall it was a summer of enjoyable weather.

Horses grazing in the field behind the campground.

I’m still trying to get used to watching football on TV while enjoying a late breakfast. This morning the Ravens vs. Chiefs game got a hold on my attention. By half time it was raining outside giving me an excuse to stay in and watch the TV. Light rain showers passed through the area from late morning until darkness. It wasn’t a good day to be driving around trying to see the area sights.

Fields across the street from the campground were recently harvested.

The campground staff didn’t seem to be impacted by the rain. Today was grass moving day. They started as soon as the weekend visitors departed. When the rain got heavy, they would stop for a few minutes. As the sun was going down I saw them putting the mover back into the garage. The staff at this campground seems to keep busy with maintenance tasks. My guess is Sunday was mowing day so rain or shine they mowed. At least they didn’t have to run the sprinklers to water the grass today.

Rain shower arriving over the campground while it is still bright and dry off to the west.

The next few days are forecast to be sunny and a little warmer. Seventy degree temperatures are a little below the norm for this time of year, but better than the low sixties with rain. I’ve got two more days to see some more of this area.

The Cove Palisades State Park

Saturday September 21st 2019

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky all day. After more than a week of questionable weather, it was a welcome change. Even with full sunshine the temperature only got to the seventy mark. The seasonal norm for this area is quite a bit higher.

Taking advantage of the good weather, I made a trip to the Cove Palisades State Park on the Crooked River. I found the park on the map a few miles west of my current campsite. Finding the park was an interesting trip through open farm land. The signage wasn’t great but I found the park after going straight west for a few miles, turning north for a few more miles followed by a turn back west for a mile or so then a turn north and finally west again. The land was flat and the route went between farms by planted fields and a few empty ones too.

I started my visit by stopping at two overlooks on the rim of the deep canyon with the dam held water of the Crooked river. The black volcanic basalt palisade walls and green water made for high contrast. There were several forms of recreational boats in the water below. I saw little kayaks near the shore, fishing boats on the far side, and house boats in the marina below one of the overlooks.

Mount Jefferson can be seen to the west from the overlook.

My next stop was at the river level. The road down was advertised as a 7 percent grade. It clung to the canyon wall with a couple of switchbacks. It wouldn’t be fun in the motorhome, but there are two campgrounds in the park. One is on the way down and the other is at a lower altitude in the park. I didn’t get an opportunity to go deeper into the park. A truck with a boat trailer was broken down in the road or perhaps was in an accident. Either way traffic was backed up getting by the incident. Since I’d have to wait in line to go by and again to return, I turned around and returned to my RV home to watch college football games.

Sun setting beyond the Cascades and Mt Jefferson.