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Showing posts from November, 2013

Nov 22 - The Gorge and Mt. Hood

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November 22 was a Friday. Coincidentally, it was also a Friday 50 years ago, the day John Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas Texas. For me, that date will rank right up there with the 9/11/01 WTC attack as a permanent memory. Even though I was only 12 I can remember much about that day... the weather, the somber mood of most people, the nearly constant TV coverage, and the way most people were glued to their sets all weekend long... trying to understand... trying to make sense of it all.

Our day started out along the Sandy River in Troutdale Oregon where we hooked up with a portion of the old historic Columbia River Highway. Now set aside as a tourist and scenic route, this was the first real road through the Gorge. Built between 1913 and 1922, it was, and is, a significant feat of engineering and must be driven to gain a real appreciation of the accomplishment. There are only a few sections of the old road that are preserved; much of the original was sacrificed to the second Columbi…

November 13 - Boardman Oregon to Portland

Being along the Columbia during cold months often means you'll wake to fog. Thick fog. The kind that'll make you wonder where you are... 'cause there are no visible references. Your memory is all you've got to go on. It can feel like a dream if you let your imagination run free.

They said it'd start clearing about 10am, so we lingered until we convinced ourselves that it may indeed be improving... and we were back on I-84 by a few minutes after 10am. About 20 miles later it clearly was starting to clear. Another 20 miles, just as we dropped down into the Columbia River Gorge, just as we wanted visibility to savor one of the great drives in the USA, the fog was gone. The rest of the way to Portland was clear and sunny... and "gorge"ous. Aided by low sun and long shadows we were entertained with scenic eye-candy until we reached Portland. The road through the Gorge, even though it's an Interstate Highway, is curvier than a swimsuit model and almost as d…

November 12 - Mountain Home Idaho to Boardman Oregon

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With a short 300 miles planned for today as well as a westerly time zone crossing we fooled around this morning and did not get an early start. We did however get the circus on the road some time after 9am. After loading up a tank of fuel it was back on I-84 westbound, through Boise, across the Snake River (again) and into the high desert of eastern Oregon. More and more it was beginning to feel good... familiar... like a welcoming home territory... a place I know like the back of my hand, yet, perhaps, really don't know at all. That's right, this is Oregon. And right over there, across the big River Columbia, that's Washington. This is the land we called home for about 8 years in the 80s and 90s... the place we raised our kids, explored, beaches and mountains and high desert. We visited places like Crater Lake, I climbed to the top of Mounts Hood and Helens, let the kids run free at the coast, taught them to ski on the mountains, poked our noses in here and there. But if…

November 10 - Little America Wyoming to Mountain Home Idaho

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Got down to 25f degrees last night which means the furnace got a workout, as did the batteries that power it. But we managed and got a good nights sleep. The early setting sun this time of year has me thinking about bed (and sleep) at ridiculously early hours... especially when we're in boondocking mode. I can fight the urge for a while but eventually surrender when bed becomes the warmest and most comfortable spot in the house. As a result I'm sleeping, sometimes, by 8 or 8:30. Of course, that means I'll be awake early... turning up the heat... making coffee. But when our goal is to "get there", that's not all bad either. For the most part, we've been able to manage.

The other two times we've been through this way we left I-80 and took US-30, the old Oregon Trail route, up passed Kemmerer, Montpelier, and Soda Springs... and then up to Pocatello before catching the Snake River for the trip downhill to Portland. For something different today we sta…

November 9 - Sidney Nebraska to Little America Wyoming

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Decided to take a break from the string of 400 mile drives today so we stopped after 395 miles. Considering our before 8am start we were done by a little after 3pm. We're parked at Little America Wyoming, one of the smallest and busiest towns for it's size I know. We've been here a few times before and always park in the same area in front of the restaurant and store, but away from the hustle and bustle of the place. There's no RV park or campground... no sir... no madam... every time we stop for the night at Little America we blacktop boondock... just find a spot, park, and hop in bed.

We're a little early for bed, although tired enough from the day. The common thread of the last three days has been the relentless headwinds and this big old flat-sided bushouse doesn't exactly cut through the wind like an F-16. Really, quite the opposite. It's literally like pushing a billboard down the road sideways. Driving is a two hand, two strong arms, and two sharp …

November 8 - Shelby Iowa to Sidney Nebraska

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Another 400+ mile day is in the books... our second in as many days.  It might be a good idea to explain our urgency... the rush to get from the Midwest to the Northwest in just a few days.

That explanation boils down to this:  it's mid-November, Winter is closing in, the entire route is between 41 and 45 degrees north latitude, and there are a couple mountain ranges that will have to be dealt with... and an elevation of about 9000 feet. We're trying to hit a window of relatively calm weather along our 2200 mile route before all hell breaks loose... as it certainly can (and will) any day now. So our motto is "git while the gittin's good". Those who linger will certainly pay the price.

All that said, we got another early start as the sun rose over Shelby this morning. Strong southerly winds were brisk and buffeted the bushouse as we passed through Omaha and around Lincoln... enough wind to make driving tough but not enough for us to give up and throw out the anch…

November 7 - Beaver Dam to Shelby Iowa

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Hey, we're on the road again.  After almost 6 months it feels good to be moving, that's for sure.

Yesterday we moved the bushouse off the RV pad at the farm and onto a temporary one-night "stand" nearby. The truck camper took the bushouse's place on the pad... and went into "cold storage". It'll sit there... unused, winterized, loaded and ready to go... until we return and retrieve it about a month from now. (more on that later).  Considering the 24f degree temps last night, the bushouse easily rumbled to life at first light this morning, raring to go. If I didn't know otherwise I'd say it was as anxious as us to hit the road. The only unforeseen issue was a frozen tv batwing antenna which cold-welded itself to it's base... no turning... no dropping... and us not going until stowed.. The steady rain of the previous few days and the hard-freezing temps combined to make life a little interesting... especially if you're the one who had…