Visiting Elk

Tuesday September 10th 2019

It was a sunny day today with a high temperature in the high sixties. I was surprised by how nice a day it turned out. The TV weather forecasts for most of Oregon come from TV stations based in the central valley. The stations in this area are all translators from the Portland area. The central valley area got heavy rain today, so that is what the TV stations focused on. I suspect that people local to this area can pick out the few sentences of the forecasts that apply to the coastal area, but I seemed to have missed them.

Blossom of the day.

I spent the day at home doing a few cleaning and maintenance chores. For exercise I took a couple of walks through the campground. It is really showing that we are in the slower fall season. During the middle of the day the campground is closer to empty than full. A good number of travelers arrive in the evening, but most seem to leave in the morning.

There were many empty sites this afternoon.

On the first walk through the campground I met some visitors. A group of four elk were slowly walking through the park taking a nibble from a bush here and there. People didn’t seem to concern them at all. One young bull continued to eat from the bushes as he approached me. He got within twenty feet of my location before he changed direction a little. I was taking pictures, not doing anything threatening, so he just went about his business. His three female friends seemed equally at ease with people. I’m not sure of elk social order, but one of the females was a little bigger and may have been the mother of one or more of the others. They spent more than an hour in the campground before they left in the general direction they came from.

Groceries and Touring

Monday September 9th 2019

More than an inch of rain fell in this area last night. Judging by the noise of rain drops hitting my roof, all of it fell on my RV. Between midnight and four in the morning a steady roar echoed off the walls inside my RV home. It made getting to sleep very difficult. By day break the rain had moved inland. It was a cloudy day with high temperatures near seventy.

Today’s Rose Blossom

This morning I finally made it to Walmart for groceries. My cabinets and refrigerator weren’t empty, but I was getting down on supplies. Every trip to Walmart is an interesting mix of the familiar and the odd. On today’s visit the strange thing was the absence of cashiers. Only one checkout with a human cashier was open. They really wanted you to use the self service checkouts. If I have more than a few items, I’ll wait for a real checkout every time. Maybe if they paid me to use the self service checkouts I would. Self service checkout at this Walmart was very popular, I only had to wait behind two other customers in the “full” service line.

After delivering the groceries to my RV home, I got in a little touring of the area. I spent a little time exploring Seaside Oregon. It’s a beach community with a very large and wide beach and the requisite shops near the beach. The walkway along the beach is called the Promenade. It’s paved so they can’t call it a boardwalk. In the middle of the town Broadway street makes a turn around at the beach. This location has a monument that declares it as the end of the Lewis and Clark trail. They don’t seem to care about the historical evidence that shows Lewis and Clark never got to this area. They spent the winter ten miles north near the mouth of the Columbia River.

Astoria – Megler bridge across the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington in the haze.

Rainy Day Watching TV

Sunday September 8th 2019

The forecast rain arrived last night and has hung around all day. There were two brief periods that it paused and brighten up enough that I could see a few shadows, but they didn’t last long. The first occurred in the middle of the morning and the second just before sunset. It has been mostly a gentle rain in this area. Inland, toward Portland, they have been having heavy rain, thunderstorms and even a couple of tornado warnings.

The rain out the front window of my RV home.

The morning letup in the rain was just in time to allow all the weekend campers to pack and depart. I watched a steady stream of RVs pass by my site on their way out of the campground. A few RVs arrived to take their place this afternoon, but I doubt the campground is anywhere near full. The rain has kept me from walking around to checkout the turnover in the park.

Yesterday I planned to get some grocery shopping accomplished today. The rain and a football game changed my mind. I was comfortable in my warm RV watching the first football game of the day when the rain picked up after the morning lull. Getting wet and driving in the rain just wasn’t that appealing. Instead I watched parts of two football games and the NASCAR race from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Patriots vs. Steelers game was the only sporting event I watched from start to finish today. My New England roots were well satisfied, but I was surprised how one sided the score turned out.

Things haven’t been all relaxing and entertaining today. The power went out once, necessitating a check of the outside connection and the campground cable TV reception deteriorated to the point it became useless. The power came right back on so that was a minor annoyance. The cable TV will take more checking. I think my cable from the campgrounds connection to the RV is impacted by the wet weather. Until I can check it out more carefully, I’m watching the over the air stations from my regular TV antenna. I’m receiving all four of the major networks and PBS. My satellite antenna is blocked by the trees.

Cloudy Day Watching TV

Saturday September 7th 2019

It was another cloudy day with high temperatures in the sixties. There was one brief period late in the afternoon that looked like it was going to brighten up, but it decided to swing the other way and drop a few sprinkles of rain. More rain is forecast overnight and the next four days have similar damp forecasts.

Hydrangeas are a very popular planting at the RV Resort. They are all around the park.

When I turned on the TV this morning I found a college football game getting underway. It drew me in and grabbed my attention for most of the day. My plans to make a run to the stores for food and a few other things went on the back burner. With the exception of a couple of walks around the campground during the time between games and few minutes tending the gas grill while I cooked my dinner, I was pretty much glued to the TV.

Blossom of the day

Tomorrow is a pro football day. Hopefully, I will be able to ignore the games long enough to get out and buy a few groceries and see some more of the area. I’m not really addicted to watching football, but the combination of the gloomy weather and the start of the new seasons makes it easy to be a couch potato. The only game I want to see tomorrow is the Patriots vs. Steelers game at 5:30pm.

Exploring on a Cloudy Day

Friday September 6th 2019

This area is moving into a fall weather pattern for the next few days. It is forecast to be cloudy, rainy and cool for most of the next week. At the end of next week warm weather is expected to return. Inland areas got heavy thunderstorms yesterday, but all we got here is rain overnight. This morning was cloudy and cool, but dry. It never warmed up beyond the high sixties today.

Blossom of the day

Since it is going to be cloudy and gloomy during most of my stay here, I am going to have to overcome my tendency to hibernate during the dull weather and get out and see the area. As a start, I did a little orientation drive today. I drove north a couple of miles to the Columbia River then down through the town of Warrenton. I now know were the primary shopping district is located for tomorrows provisioning run.

Low clouds across the mouth of the Columbia River

Fort Stevens State park is right across the street from the my KOA based home. I wasn’t able to get a site at the State Park for more than a couple of nights so I chose the fancier RV resort. The state park provides access to the beach and a number of historical coastal defense installations. This state park has a day use fee, so I need a plan to visit the park. My normal approach would be to wonder into the park, spend a few minutes to an hour checking things out than come back again another day. When there is a fee to park, I prefer to make each visit count. Ten dollars for a couple of hours is a better deal than ten bucks for a half an hour four times. It’s not the cost so much as the need to use cash to pay that really bugs me. Having cash while traveling out of your base area takes more planning. I’ll probably visit the park on Monday or Tuesday depending on which day has better weather.

There were many fishing boats in the Columbia River with lots of birds watching closely.

This RV resort has been filling up for the weekend. It’s big enough that I don’t think it will be full on this first weekend after Labor Day, but it will be close. One of the reasons I’m in a back in site was because of availability on the weekend. There are many larger pull through sites that I would have preferred, but only the premium patio sites were available for the weekend when I booked my site. As it is the RV Resort offers more amenities to go along with its high price than I use or need. This park is truly able to live up to the resort moniker. It has both an indoor and outdoor pool, all kinds of yard games from corn hole to ladder ball, as well as evening movies on the weekend and free pancakes in the morning.

Travel Day to the Astoria Oregon Area

Thursday September 5th 2019

Today was far from an easy travel day. It was one of the worst I’ve had in a while. I only had a little over one hundred and sixty miles to travel, but it included Portland Oregon traffic and crossing the coastal mountain range.

The issues started before I even got out of the campground. For the second time in the last 3 travel days, the tow bar didn’t lock into place correctly between the RV and the towed car. I had to disconnect it and reset it before it locked into tow position correctly. With the added few minutes it was about 10:30 before I was on the road.

Traffic was very heavy on Interstate 5. I had to drive about sixty miles on the interstate to the southern outskirts of Portland before I turned west toward the coast. In the Portland area I picked up all of the lunch time traffic, before the second nasty event of the day happened. I was traveling on a limited access highway with heavy traffic behind a big truck and a car. The next thing I knew the truck and car in front of me were stopping quickly. I had to step on the brakes hard and aim for the break down lane. It really didn’t look like I’d be able to stop, but I did. The inside of the RV behind me was well shaken. I found stuff all over the place when I arrived. I don’t know what caused the need to stop hard. What was happening in front of the truck wasn’t visible, but two things were clear. The other lanes to the left weren’t stopped and a few hundred feet down the road I passed a cop with a truck pulled over. That was enough excitement for the day, but more issues were to follow.

Not long after the panic stop, I passed a message board with a sign that said a mountain pass was closed to trucks ahead. I had no idea if the pass was on my route or how to find a different route. It turned out to be on another road that crossed the route I was on. My tension level was already high from the panic stop and just got higher until I knew the pass was not in my path.

I still had about 1500 feet to climb over the mountains. Unfortunately, I was behind another RV that had a much different hill climbing profile. If I get a fast start up the hill, I can usually keep my speed up as the transmission downshifts. The RV in front started the hills slowly and seemed to speed up toward the top. This caused me to loose momentum and bog down before I could get passed the other guy in the passing lane. I was stuck behind the other RV for the entire way across the mountains getting bogged down on every climb.

Site 144 at the Astoria/Warrenton/Seaside KOA in Hammond Oregon.

The last trial of the day was after I checked into the new RV park. My site was on a minor hill with a narrow back-in approach. Disconnecting the towed car so I could back in was difficult. I had to use a punch and hammer to get one of the pins out, but that isn’t that unusual when there is pressure on the connection from a hill or turn. The real problem was backing into the site with my rear view camera acting up. It would only displace a picture for a few seconds before it went dark. I had to get out of the RV and check my position several times before a neighbor took pity on me and helped direct me into the site.

I have a week to recover from today’s journey, before my next travel day. Hopefully it will be a calmer experience. I have to get through the Portland area again.

Starting My Fall Travels

Wednesday September 4th 2019

Today started cool and dark. The first half of the day was all about the clouds and the second half all about the sun. It was like a switch was thrown at noon and the clouds disappeared and the sun took over. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky all afternoon. The temperature made it to the low eighties by sunset.

The gloomy morning had an impact on my day. Another shopping day was in my thoughts, but I kept waiting for the sun. I stretched my morning coffee and caught up on various internet based reading. By the time the sun arrived I was deep into researching ideas for next summers travels. The thought of shopping, which is never high on my scale of “want to do”, went away. When I finally put down my tablet, it was time for a late lunch followed by a walk along the campgrounds nature trail.

Calapooia River along the campground’s nature trail.

Tomorrow is the start of my fall travels. I have a series of stops planned that eventually end in Las Vegas for the winter. The first stop is in the northwest corner of Oregon where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. I’ll be there for a week. Working my way back to the east from there I’ll stop in the Columbia River Gorge again. I hope to see the salmon running at one of the Fish Hatcheries during the week I’ll be staying in Cascade Locks.

The next stop will be on the eastern side of the Cascade mountains in the Redmond Oregon area for almost a week. From there I will work my way down to the Reno NV area for two weeks. I’ll need to stop for a night along the way to Reno to break up the travel distance. In the Reno area I hope to see some of the transition to fall in the Lake Tahoe area during the first half of October. The second half of October will be further south in Nevada. I will be staying in the Pahrump NV area for two weeks after another one night stop somewhere along the way. Death Valley National Park is just to the west of Pahrump in California. The final stop on my fall travels will be in Las Vegas at the end of October. I’ll be there until the end of February.

I completed some of the travel preparation tasks this evening. In the morning I’ll finish the job and get on the road for the 160 plus miles of travel.

Summer Travel Season is Over

Tuesday September 3rd 2019

It was cool overnight and slow to warm up this morning. The temperature finally peaked in the low eighties in the late afternoon after bright sunshine all day.

It is clear that the summer travel season is over for many people. This campground less than half full last night and is even emptier tonight. When I was here in early July and when I arrived last week the campground was full or close to full every night. The few people that came in tonight were all from out of the area. Other than the long term residents, there are very few site occupied by people with Oregon license tags. Kids in Oregon are either back in school already or return this week.

Labor day always causes a change in travel and vacation schedules, but for some reason I didn’t think it was going to happen this year. Some of my surprise results from not being prepared for the arrival of the unofficial end of summer. August went by very quickly. The other thing is the surprising number of Oregonians that have RVs. I don’t know what the official statistics are, but it sure seems like more people from Oregon and Washington spend time in RVs than I see in other states. My difficulty getting reservations on weekends is one result of the high number of campers.

Blossom of the day

I spent most of the day relaxing around my RV home. Getting the laundry done was part of today’s plan, but it didn’t happen. I’m not particularly impressed with the laundry here. Probably the biggest problem the distance from my RV home to the laundry. I’d really have to drive or something clean would likely end up on the dirty ground. Hopefully, my next stop at the end of the week will have a more convenient laundry facility.

Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum

Monday September 2nd 2019

The holiday weekend came to an end today. There were mass departures from the campground this morning. It is only about half full tonight. To me it was just another Monday not the end of summer or a special holiday.

I drove north about fifty miles through farm land, orchards and vineyards to McMinnville Oregon today. The objective was the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. The museum has a large collection of aircraft and space artifacts. Perhaps its most famous aircraft is Howard Hughes plywood behemoth the “Spruce Goose”. Developed during World War II and the years following as a flying boat, it only made one short little test flight. It was intended as a super transport plane that could use the worlds oceans as its runways. With the war over and aircraft range increasing the flying boat was never put into production.

The Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum has four main buildings. A building dedicated to aviation, one dedicated to space, a theater and a separate water park building with an airliner on the roof. Additional aircraft are parked on the grounds around the buildings, but there aren’t any paths or roads to get close to them. The Aviation building is dominated by the huge “Spruce Goose”. Other aircraft and replicas are scattered around the perimeter of the building and under the big plane’s wings. The space building is about half full of space exhibits with most of the remaining space used for other aircraft. They had hoped to have one of the retired Space Shuttles in the area currently used for aircraft, but the Evergreen museum was not one of the selected sites.

Most of the aircraft museums I visit on my travels are hosted by military bases. This is a private organization. It has more replica aircraft and non military aircraft on display than I’m used to seeing. The overall flow of both the aviation and space museums is chronological which I like, but cramming all the aircraft in around the big Hughes H-4 makes it very hard to see some of the exhibits. It is clear that lovers of all things aviation are behind the curation of the museum. There are many standalone engine, prop, turbo fan blades and other significant elements of the aircraft on display complete with extensive discussion of there properties.

I’m glad I visited the museum, but other than the “Spruce Goose” I didn’t see anything that stood out. Someone that hasn’t been to all the other museums I’ve visited would be more impressed with the museums extensive collection. I’ve seen versions of the military aircraft before and I didn’t get a sense of any specific importance of some of the civilian aircraft on display.

The space museum was very well done, but similar to the Aviation museum, I’ve see most of the exhibits before. For example, the mockup of a Titan II missile and control room was great, but I visited an actual Titan II missile silo at the Titan II museum south of Tuscon Arizona. My biggest take away from the space museum is I’m getting old. A trio of twenty somethings were studying a mock-up of a space walk from a Gemini Space capsule. I overheard one young lady proclaim that “they did that back in the seventies before we were born”. It really happened in the mid sixties and I watched the space walk on TV. It probably happened before their parents were born.

A Little Shopping not Buying

Sunday September 1st 2019

It is hard to believe that today is September 1st. The cool weather on the Oregon coast confused my ability to use the weather to tell the season. It seemed more like spring weather along the coast. Now that I’m back inland for a few days, the low eighties heat feels oppressive. I’ll probably just get used to it before I return to the coast at the end of the week.

This afternoon I drove back south thirty miles or so to shop at the Cabelas in Springfield. I need new shoes. Both my walking shoes and my hiking shoes need to be replaced. The tread on my hiking shoes is close to gone and my toes have found their way through the top leather on my walking shoes.

The Springfield Cabelas turned out to be a smaller store in a shopping mall. It seemed to have most of the usual merchandise, but not as much display space. The big wildlife dioramas typical of a Cabelas were smaller and isolated on a mezzanine level. There were also fewer display examples of products like chairs, grills and tents. Even so, it was still a busy place this afternoon. Navigating around people in the shoe department was especially difficult. I almost had a collision with one guy who was hopping on one foot attempting to try on a shoe.

I found a possible replacement for my hiking shoes, but the store size became an issue. They didn’t have my shoe size. I didn’t see a good replacement for my walking shoes, which has a higher priority. There is an outlet mall about the same distance to the north along interstate 5. I’ll stop there in the next few days.

In July this field across from the campground was green and freshly cut.

The drive through the Willamette Valley was interesting. The fields and pastures are mostly brown. When I was in this area at the beginning of July things were much greener. The grain crop or hay had just been harvested. Those fields are now very brown with no sign of a productive crop. The fields that have freshly turned soil also have a few little dust devils above the dry dirt.

Blossom of the day