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 tour. We both thought the design and quality of these units is impressive. They're tough, 4 season units that have a great reputation among users. I can see why.

After the plant visit, we drove south a bit to Union, OR., and had lunch at the historic Union Hotel, followed by a trek a bit further south to the National Oregon Trail Interpretive Center just outside Baker, OR. This is, arguably, the premier Oregon Trail museum in the nation. We spent the balance of the day there soaking up the exhibits, reading, learning, and hiking around the grounds. The historic trail passed right through the land surrounding the center and the wagon ruts can still be seen and walked in.

The car (aka: the toad) is finally getting a few miles on the road under it's own power. I commented to Dar the other day that we've had it for almost two months, it's come all the way from Wisconsin to Oregon, and we've only put two tanks of fuel in it since it was new. Now that's mileage. Today I put in the third tank and reset the MPG computer. We put on about 130 miles today, some in town but most highway, up and down mountain grades, and the car reported it got 41 MPG -- better than I'd hoped.

Tomorrow, Saturday, we're driving the Hells Canyon Loop -- a full day of exploring and seeing things we've never seen before. Dar says she'll make sure to take a bunch of photos.



Slightly Better than Most