Moving on – to Spokane, WA (HOME)

6/30/16 (Thursday) in Spokane, WA (HOME)

We had a lovely time visiting our Panhandle Gems friends at the continental breakfast. After goodbyes and hugs we were on our way by 8:30. Great roads, Hwy 14E was a smooth 2 lane, then I-84E at The Dalles bridge. Then we took Hwy 730 until it became US 395, a great 4 lane road. This was a great way to avoid the hills of I-84E beyond the Hwy 730 intersection, besides avoided the confusing roads in the Tri Cities. Great infrequent traffic!!! Thanks to Karen for this suggestion!

Columbia Gorge Views

What looked like a smooth, quiet trip had a couple fun serendipity moments. As we stopped at a turn out on Hwy 730, who happened to pass by us? Loretta/Ken (from Panhandle Gems)! We had fun exchanging texts a while after that. They wondered if we were okay because we’d left earlier, so I explained that we’d had 3 potty stops (that’s what that last stop was for) and had fueled by then. About the time they pulled into the Country Mercantile (we’d caught up to them), we got a text from our son Justin. He and his family were headed for Pacific City (TT) and were about 20 miles N of the Hatton Coulee Rest area when we were about 20 miles S of it! We’d planned to stop there for lunch. Justin replied that they were stopping there and we’d probably meet. Not only did we meet and have lunch together, we got to see a momma bird an her babies (Meadowlark). So marvelous!

 

Thus we spent more time at lunch than we’d planned, but boy was it worth it!!

Traffic got heavier as we neared Spokane, but we made it in fine shape by 3:30. SO glad to be home.

Not sure when I’ll post another blog. We’ll be here very busy with appointments for our bodies, the car and Miss Journey, as well as spending time with grandchildren, children on top of the yard and house catch up chores.

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Fruit Loop Trail, Cascade Locks Ale Pub Horseradish and Cherries

6/29/16 (Wednesday) in White Salmon, WA (Bridge RV Park)

The Fruit Loop Trail covers about 35 miles in total, but we just went to a few of the businesses. Since there were about 20 of us we car pooled (also because of the toll bridge at Hood River, needed to get over to the Oregon side of the Columbia River). We all went to the first places in a caravan. Our first was what I considered the best, the Gorge White House. It’s an historical place but they weren’t giving tours today, so we soaked in the gorgeous views, flowers and fruits.

Gorge White House

Next up was Smiley’s. This was a small fruit stand, so we moved on rather soon to the Sawtooth Tavern, where we had lunch. Great food on a shaded patio with picnic tables, perfect for our large group. Plus their food was excellent, served quickly too considering there was only one waiter and one cook! It seems like a hole-in-the wall place, but that would be where first impressions are wrong.

After lunch we started to go separate ways. Our car (including Kathy/Jim) went for photo shots, first to the Lavender Farm.

Lavender Farm

Then to the Alpaca Farm.

We ran into a lot of our group at the Apple Valley Country Store

Apple Valley Country Store

loop 10

Back at the campground we had a great time watching mom/dad eagle encourage their two young ones to fly. One managed to hover at one point (Loretta, whose rig is right across from their tree, saw it).

eagle

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Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler, Kiteboarding and Sailboarding

6/28/16 (Tuesday) in White Salmon, WA (Bridge RV Park)

There sure are a lot of fun things to see and do here. We all really enjoyed our ride on the historic Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler. I think my photos say it all.

stern 4

Indian Platform for fishing.  They  have the rights to the land near the river.

stern 5

At the left is the bridge where the captain pilots the boat.  The bridge on the right “Bridge of the Gods” is at Cascade Locks, OR

stern 9

It was a very windy day!  This is Gloria, our intrepid host of the Panhandle Gems rally.

stern 10

Indians gill fishing.

stern 11

Sailboarding

stern 13

Kiteboarding

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WAAAM, the History Museum of Hood River County and the Columbia Gorge Hotel

6/27/16 (Monday) in White Salmon, WA (Bridge RV Park)

After a scrumptious breakfast provided by our rally hosts, we visited some nearby sites. Note: these are across the Columbia, on the Oregon side. There is a toll bridge here ($1 each way) that is not only VERY narrow, but the surface seems to be of metal chain work, rough to steer on. NOT for RV’s.

John (and all the guys and some gals) enjoyed the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum so I’ll provide his high points here. Can you find the Harley Davidson? How about the car with a special place for golf clubs? The little red car was a 1932 Detroit Electric car.

 

waaam 6

I and a few of the gals (Gloria, Charlene and Sharon) went to the Historical Museum, It was a sweet, well presented museum, although small. Both museums had sections devoted to Luhr Jensen who created a new style of lure (the name is a coincidence) that became famous. I didn’t realize this area was a favorite for apple orchards. They even sprayed poisons then (early 1900’s) for the worms.

 

When we left to meet the rest of our group at the Columbia Gorge Hotel (an historical landmark), we got chatting and drove past our exit! There aren’t a lot of exits on this river road freeway, so were concerned, postulating that we might end up at Cascade Locks or Portland before we could turn around. Lo and behold we found one eventually and arrived at the Hotel only a few minutes after our scheduled time. The place is gorgeous and fancy. We found the food excellent but the service was more like in the olden days; we had plenty of time to visit! Below are my highlights from their lovely grounds.

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Moving on – to White Salmon, WA for Panhandle Gem Rally

6/26/16 (Sunday) in White Salmon, WA (Bridge RV Park)

We were excited to get to a FHU campground! Just before we left, we saw a “trike” flying above us (no time for a photo), then later I saw a sweet baby pigeon. I’ve never seen one before and he let me take his picture.

pigeon

Since several rigs had left, space was left for John to drive Miss Journey into a good position for getting onto the road. We even had space to hook up the car here. After saying our goodbyes we left just after 8. On the road again! We took I-5N to I-250E to I-84E.  The top photo is of Mt. Hood.  The two below it are of the Columbia River/Gorge.

 

 

We went past exit 44 (Cascade Locks) because of warnings from other Panhandle Gems (5, low clearance tunnels), on to exit 87 (near the Dalles). Just as John had promised, the 1 tunnel with “low clearance” of 12’6” on the right shoulder and 3’3” on the left was good as long as he hovered near the center line (there was VERY little shoulder).

Check in time was 1pm, but we got there at 11:30, so we unhooked and they let us sit in a dry camp spot while the people in “our” site struggled with their truck battery. Gloria/Nolan were already here to welcome us, keeping us cool and giving us company. Our site was available before 1, so we got settled into our site then.

Soon others arrived. John was able to help Ken when his truck got stuck in Park. They’d just installed the Invisibrake system, so he was pretty sure it was a similar situation to ours-a blown fuse. Yup! Once Ken found his fuse and a replacement all was fine. Meanwhile I enjoyed visiting with Loretta. We all gathered for dinner at Charlene/Allen’s rig. This is a great campground with FHU (50 amps), clear skies for TV reception plus free cable and wifi. I can’t remember any campground bathrooms as neat as these! It reminds me of Camp Blanco and has a similar rating on RV Park Reviews. Also great grassy sites, with scattered trees, so a wonderful place to gather and visit. It is a small, tight park (Ken scraped his steps in the dirt trying to make a corner), again, similar to Camp Blanco. Lovely, though, with a view of Mt Hood.

We’ll be very busy with sites to see and meals to enjoy with our Panhandle Gems Local Chapter of FMCA, so I’m not sure when I’ll have a moment to share them….

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Moving on – to Albany, OR

6/20/16 (Monday) in Albany, OR (Albany Fairgrounds for FMCA Rally)

This past week we had a great time meeting members of the Lewis and Clark local FMCA chapter. To belong you must be a member of FMCA and Thousand Trails. This is a really great, fun group of people. We joined them back in the winter of 2012 but this was our first chance to participate in a rally. Lots of good food/meals, games, and wonderful conversation. My favorite time was when we gathered around the campfire for 3 hours. I even got to teach a watercolor class. I’ll be meeting with my student while we’re at the big FMCA rally in Albany, to try to continue the classes. We just didn’t have much time this week.

So that’s where we’re headed now, the Albany FMCA Rally. These rallies gather several thousand RV’s (motorhomes in FMCA), providing a great many seminars/classes and vendors of all things RV.

albany fair

You also can check out rigs to buy and participate in fun social games/contests, even a Lady’s Tea. We’ve concentrated on the classes in most of our prior rallies but this time we’re branching out into the Volunteer arena. We’ll both help distribute coffee and pastries early in the morning for 3 days, as part of the Panhandle Gems local chapter. John will be helping with transportation driving a golf cart. I think he’s going to feel more like he’s having fun on the playground than working. I’ll be welcoming people with packets for a couple of the days. Plus teaching some watercolor painting I hope.

We left around 10:15, going north on Hwy 101 then east on Hwy 20. That’s a twisty road, but there’s no other real choice. So I spent the time John was driving that road writing this blog and other computer exercises. It kept my mind and eyes off those curves. We were both happier. It was in pretty deep green forest, so I did look up to enjoy that periodically. There were a couple intersections near Corvallis (Hwy 34 and I-5), when I paid more attention.

I’ve had such fun I’ve forgotten to get photos. Plus when we’re concentrating on social times I’m not sure people want their images plastered on a blog for the world to see. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Once we arrived we contacted Les Schwab so we’ll be driving the coach to their shop at 8 for it’s new shoes.

McClinton Auto Body Shop

6/21-26 (Tuesday-Sunday) in Albany, OR (Albany Fairgrounds for FMCA Rally)

Well, let’s just say we were in a hurry getting out by 8 and I was flummoxed with needing to use propane for my toast and egg, so things didn’t start well and they quickly deteriorated. I burnt my toast then the smoke alarm went off (we’re really close to lots of neighbors). After recovering from my breakfast struggles I rushed through my departure procedures (remember John didn’t have any power, water or sewer jobs). John moved the car for me (I was to follow) and said I’d see him around the corner. I thought that meant I was to follow him. Our car was pointed in the other direction from John and I was pointed to what appeared to be blocked off by sawhorse barriers, so I began backing up, to go into out slot and turn around. Unfortunately I was so focused on getting to our spot, I didn’t check my rear view mirror. Loud thunk/crash! That’s right, I hit another car that was parked a ways behind me. One of our Lewis and Clark friends. I was so distraught, thinking I needed to let them know who did it. Tried writing a note, then they appeared. I said I was SO sorry, that we were on our way to Les Schwab and would be right back to settle things.

car 1

John/Trish car damaged

ron car 1

Ron/Betty’s car damaged

 

Meanwhile John had driven on around that corner I was attempting to reach, to another corner that was just in front of me (outside the barriers and weren’t actually blocking my way). He was asking on the radio why was I out of the car. I explained. Then we went on to Les Schwab. We arrived, John left the rig in their hands and John proceeded to drive back to the fairgrounds.

Little did we know what I had begun inside Miss Journey. Since I’d forgotten to latch the freezer door to our French door residential refrigerator, it had slammed out during John’s trip. He thought he’d heard something, but had forgotten it by the time he’d arrived at Les Schwab. He also never heard the door alarm ringing. 3.5 hours later we returned to pick up the rig (he noticed the freezer at this point and closed it, latching it), John was driving Miss Journey as I drove the car. Upon arrival we set down the jacks (I stay outside then so they don’t get confusing signals regarding the weight inside). Then I went in to get the slides to come in. Hmm, I noticed water all over the fridge door and on the floor and the freezer drawer seemed warped. Had a hard time concentrating on my pushing-slide-buttons job. When we finished the basic arrival chores, I told John what I’d found with the refrigerator. Then he admitted what had happened. We looked inside. Most things were melting, but not melted, so we shut it, crossed our fingers and got the generator running. The refrigerator was warm too. So it seemed we were behind the curve for 2-3 days trying to keep our voltage up, running the generator for 4-5 hours a day. When the fridge seemed to be back to normal, we checked the freezer. Piles of frost were on the side that seemed to sit out from the wall of the fridge. Later I figured out that on that side the seal was about 1/4” from the edge. No wonder we had all that frost. A few days later I thought to put a rolled towel in that space, like you would at a door to stop cold air from coming in, although this was placed vertically. Because the generator seemed to be working extra hard to get our voltage up, we weren’t sure if the problem was the freezer draw or our batteries.

Towards the end of the rally we had Les Schwab put a load test to our batteries. The technician said our batteries were in great shape, with a good two years in their future. He explained that RV batteries are made to be able to drop very low (like to 9 volts) periodically. It won’t hurt them, though it does stress them, sort of ages them. He said they’re like cell phone batteries in that they will form a memory of where your keep them. Thus, if you keep charging your cell phone throughout the day (or keep your RV batteries at 12.2 to 13 volts with your generator or power pedestal) then it likes to stay up in that range. That’s it’s comfort zone. When you withhold that constant charging, letting the voltage drop, it drops faster than it would in the cell phone (or RV batteries) that didn’t get all that constant coddling. On the other hand if you frequently let your RV batteries drop to a low voltage you’re stressing it more often and aging it faster. In conclusion, even though RV batteries are made to drop low, they will live longer if you keep those deep drops to a minimum. Thus we also bought solar panel (200 watts) to help keep our batteries coddled. John will be installing it when we’re in Spokane. It feels like a cushion to me, like having savings in the bank as a financial cushion.

Now the freezer and batteries were just one part of our story. The other is my accident. During our stay here (Miller insurance seminar) we learned that the insurance companies now have access to much more about us than they used to, due to the Internet. Most will report any claims (even if you just call saying you hit something/or got hit) to CLUE, where all insurance companies have access, on top of all your personal credit information, plus where you live, travel, own… They’ve also gotten more strict about their definitions, like when you collide into, say, a pothole or a tree, it’s comprehensive damage. The bottom line is, call your insurance agent when something happens. Anything you tell them won’t get reported. They can see whether reporting your claim to the insurance company will lead to higher costs in premium raises than the cost of the accident for you at the time. Our last accident, when John collided with trees, created 3 years of premium hikes that amounted to the cost of our accident. So this time we decided to pay for the repairs ourselves after contacting a nearby (.5 miles) shop that was highly reviewed on Google: McClinton Auto Body Shop. We concur. Not only did they do a beautiful job on both cars, they finished them in 2 days! They were very professional, very efficient, friendly. We got our estimates in just a few minutes, with a printout. Our car was repaired for it’s estimated price, the other was under! I can’t say enough good things about this shop. Plus we could walk there, across the Linn Timber Park, to pick it up.

trish car 2

John/Trish car repaired

ron car 2

Ron/Betty’s car repaired

In sum, our stay here included heavy expenses: new RV tires ($4,000), new solar panel ($1,000) and repairs for 2 cars ($1,700). The good news is all of this was with NO TAXES! Thanks, Oregon. To think we thought we’d hardly spend anything! Plus we were extremely busy with volunteering (John worked on the trams 11 hrs total, I worked trams for 4 hours, we both worked giving out coffee/pastries for 4.5 hours and I worked Will Call for 3 hours). I also spent about 5 hours teaching watercolor painting to Becky. I had fun doing Zumba Gold 3 times. Then throw in a few dinners, entertainment, “Fast Track” games as well as checking out new RV’s and RV vendors, a couple classes (solar panels and insurance).

Meanwhile, back at the RV, we noticed a bad smell. Hmm, seems there is a leak at our sewer connection. That’s going to have to wait until we get to Bridge RV where John hopes to clean that area well in the hopes that will solve that issue.

Just the same, we had a great time, even with our issues!!!

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Moving on – to South Beach, OR

6/12/16 (Sunday) in South Beach, OR (Whaler’s Rest-TT)

We’re leaving earlier than planned in order to travel on a dry day, not the predicted very rainy Tuesday ahead. Life is never dull. All our pull in slides and jacks procedures went just fine. John started the generator (time for it’s “exercise”) and I’d started the heat pumps (they need a “load” to work well).

Then as we were just on our way, I felt a drop of water on my head! What the heck? It couldn’t be the slide, that sure isn’t over my head. I looked up. Hmm drops of water on the heat vent above my head. More developed and dropped as time went by. All I could figure was that we’d had humidity built in Miss Journey Friday, with lots of rain as I was washing and drying clothes inside. Must have accumulated from that. Or possibly the water was inside the vent and then worked it’s way out as we jiggled down the road.

Lovely trip with more tight curves than I’d rather have, but I was treated to another rig in front that slow my “Mario Andretti” husband down. There were straighter sections as well. Wonderful ocean views. We stopped at Space Age Fuel in Lincoln City. They are quite spacious for us big rigs and had the best price in our path. Their driveway on the south side was dicey but John handled it like very well. We arrived around 12:30. As John got the car unhooked, I ran up to our favorite site #95. Dang, already taken. I found another nearby, so got back to the car and we drove to it. Unfortunately the trees blocked a satellite TV signal so John wanted another, #66. Dang, that one couldn’t get the TV signal either. Well, we decided to stay anyway, hoping that a better site with everything we want will open up.

It was such a beautiful sunny day I thought we should go down to the ocean, but I got tired and sleepy and ended up taking a 2 hour nap. Oops, supper time already! We did manage a walk around the campground to cap off our night.

6/13/16 UPDATE:

The next morning I saw a Wilson’s warbler (sparrow size, yellow, with gray wings and black top of his head) hanging out (actually landing on our windowsills several times) at our lovely wooded site. Even saw him eat a little yellow worm on a bush. Maybe this site isn’t so bad.  Well, a couple hours later we scooted over to another site that had promise of TV reception.  Lo and behold, we got 2 of the 3 satellite channels (good enough for us) and that sweet Wilson’s warbler came to visit us again.  He must see himself in our windows.  So I’m happy and so is John.

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