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Showing posts from September, 2009

A Clip Job

Image
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Vancouver, WA

Normally things like haircuts don't make it into the journal.

Normally.

But the haircut I got yesterday, Wednesday, isn't normal. No, it's far from normal, at least for me. So I felt the need to document the whole hair affair in this journal entry.

For the past year or two, really since we began our fulltime wandering lifestyle, I've been toying with the idea of a really short haircut. It would certainly be easy to take care of... well, almost no care at all... a thing valued by explorers and those seeking a simpler lifestyle. No combs or brushes needed.

On the downside: what if my head is shaped like a pear or all lumpy or flat in some places? I'd have to go into hybernation for a few weeks and let it grow out. What if my ears stick out further than I already think they do? What if my white scalp burns in the sun? What if people laugh, babies cry, and small children run and hide at the sight of me? Hmmm? Despite the unknowns …

Autumnal Equinox Outing

Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Vancouver, WA

Yesterday was the autumnal equinox -- the first day of fall. Since we had the day free we decided to head South and knock two explorations off our list... a hike through Silver Falls State Park and a visit to the Oregon State Capitol.

Situated along Silver Creek and it's tributaries in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains about 20 miles Southeast of Salem, Silver Falls State Park is 9,000 acres of a natural environment bursting with recreational opportunities for almost anyone. A four mile paved bike path, many more miles of mountain bike trails and horse trails, hiking, camping, picnicking, and a lodge and conference center are all available. Inside the park are areas of old-growth forest with some of the largest Douglas Fir and Western Hemlock you'll ever see. We've tried in the past, but haven't yet found a way through words or photography to really capture the essence of these giants... you've just got to find them and…

Paradise

Monday, September 14, 2009
Vancouver, WA

After just three days at the RV Park in Vancouver we joined a small Vancouver-family group for a camping weekend in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Unsure if we'd be able to get the too-big bus-house into a NF campground, I took a solo tour of the proposed camps on Wednesday the 9th to evaluate the situation. I drove a loop from (all in Washington) Vancouver to Woodland to Cougar to Carson (via Wind River Road) and back to Vancouver. I stopped at three NFGCs and eliminated two. The survivor, by default, happened to be one of Gage & Andrea's favorites, so plans were made to head on up the next day, Thursday.

Grandson Ryan joined Dar and me in the bus-house for the 65 mile drive to Paradise Creek CG. From Vancouver we took US-14 east to Carson. This is not an easy road to drive as it carries you deeper into the Columbia River Gorge... the road is often just a narrow flat-ish path carved from near-vertical cliffs in a number of place…

Home Again

Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Vancouver, WA

Being with Family and especially Grandkids has a way of re-orienting priorities which is exactly what's happened since arriving in Vancouver, WA. this past Monday, Labor Day. Thus I once again have a bit of catch-up to do with my journal.

After our long Hells Canyon day on Saturday, we kept our heads low on Sunday. Sleeping in until a much later than normal hour, the rest of the day was spent on reading, writing, processing photos, and preparing for the drive to the Portland/Vancouver area the next day. We had an eye-opening stay in La Grande... tucked between mountains, nice people, small town, comfortable. As we explore the USA we're finding more places like this. Make note of another one.

Motivated by an early phone call from Grandson Ryan on Monday morning, we had the bus-house rolling before 9am. Even though I'd done the drive down I-84 many times years ago when we lived in Vancouver and I was traveling on business, I had for…

The Wallowa Mtns. & Hells Canyon

Saturday, September 5, 2009
La Grande, OR.

Quick... what's the deepest gorge, or canyon, in North America? No, it's not the Columbia River Gorge... or Santa Elaina Canyon in Texas. And it's not even the famous Grand Canyon according to the good people in Oregon and Idaho. No Sir.

The deepest gorge is Hells Canyon at almost 8,000 feet deep. Hells Canyon was formed by the Snake River, the river that starts in Yellowstone National Park, forms part of the border between Idaho and Oregon, and eventually flows into the Columbia at Pasco, WA. We've been roughly following the Snake, as did the emigrants on the Oregon Trail, since Pocatello.

This morning, knowing it was going to be a long day of exploration, we got started a bit after 8am. Our intention was to drive the "Hells Canyon Scenic Byway", a more than 200 mile route that starts here in La Grande, follows OR-82 north and east around the base of the Wallowa Mountains through the towns of Wallowa, Enterprise, and Jo…

Tour, Trail, and Toad

Friday, September 4, 2009
La Grande, OR

Up early... coffee... get ready for a day of exploring. The first order of business was to familiarize ourselves with La Grande. Since a little more coffee was in order, we found a Starbucks (inside a Safeway Store) and treated ourselves. After a short drive around town we headed out to the Northwood Manufacturing plant near the airport where we had an 11am tour lined up.

Northwood makes high quality campers that we may downsize to whenever we decide the time is right to establish a home base again. We both are perfectly happy with the bus-house and certainly aren't planning to stop fulltiming anytime soon. But we can see a day, well into the future, when we'll have a fixed home base again. At that point we still see ourselves exploring the USA, but in trips of a month or two or three and with a smaller rig that allows easier access to smaller, more remote, campgrounds.

The tour lasted an hour and we were the only ones on the camper plant to…

Into Oregon

Thursday, September 3, 2009
La Grande, OR.

We're camped in La Grande, OR. tonight, under the biggest full moon I've seen in a while. The drive from Caldwell was just under 150 miles -- an easy day for us considering the mileage of the past few days. To recap, a week ago we were lolli-gagging at Fort Robinson in Western Nebraska. In that week, we're driven 1,043 miles in 5 legs. As Dar likes to say, "We've been bookin' it!"

Well, we're here at Eagles Hot Lake RV Park just south of La Grande. With the last big weekend of the summer upon us, we're going to hide out here until the smoke clears. Most fulltimers dread, to some extent, those big three day weekends of the summer -- campgrounds can be full to overflowing, kids and dogs running uncontrolled, every campsite seems to have a big smoky campfire. Don't get me wrong... these people deserve every moment of their long weekend in the woods. They probably work their butts off 50 weeks a year and the…

On The Oregon Trail

Wednesday, September 2, 2009
On the Oregon Trail between Pocatello and Twin Falls, ID

Dar's driving this morning and that gives me a chance to get the journal up to date. It's another bright morning with light winds. Morning driving when heading west is the best because the sun is on your back and the scenery ahead of you is lit up and bright.

We left Little America on Tuesday morning about 9am. I got a good nights sleep despite some idiot with a Dodge diesel pickup who insisted on idling the louder-than-stock machine all night long for who knows what reason. I'm sure he knew everything about diesels and had somehow rationalized in his pea-sized brain that wasting fuel for 8 hours was the right thing to do.

Little America is right on I-80, but just a couple miles west we turned north on US-30, which we stayed on much of the day. Near Sage the road makes an abrupt curve from west to north at the point where we picked up the path of the Oregon Trail. The Trail continues north an…