Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Best Made Plans

Portland, Oregon

If you recall from my last post I was going to have Jason and the family over for some BBQ chicken and Grandpa time and then head south through California and maybe over to New Mexico and on to Texas. Well....most of that didn't happen.  I did get to have a few lunches with the boys and their family.  They are a busy bunch. 

Jason had some car trouble my last day in Portland and couldn't make it to visit me with the Grandkids before I left. I had to leave the next morning so I cooked all the chicken for myself and I headed east thinking I would go south from Bend after a few weeks.  That didn't happen either but I did eat a lot of chicken for a few days and I did eventually make it to New Mexico, where I am writing this post.  Right now I am staying in a nice state park called Bottomless Lake just outside of Roswell, New Mexico.  I was headed east to Texas for my winter stay-over when I decided to pull off for a few days and re-group.  I will back up to the beginning, around the first week of October, when I left the Portland, Oregon area.

Here are a few family pictures we were able to get during our few times together.  I really do love these folks, my family, and wish we could be more of a family someday.  Until then....I will take the moments I can get when I can get them.  Life really is but a moment we will never have again, as these pictures show, and I hate that so many moments can be lost before we realize what has happened.

Me, Shawn and Kaitlen when I dropped in on them for Kaitlen's sixth birthday.

Jason, Shawn, Kaitlen and Anna at our lunch out together.

Josh (at his house before he moved out....sad issue)
Back to Prineville, Oregon

I planned to go over to the Bend area and meet up with my friends, Jeff and Letty, to see their new home and then head south on Hwy. 97 through eastern California.   I had some time to kill so I went back to my friends (Don and Margie) house in Prineville where I had been helping with their bathroom and kitchen remodel to see the progress, which was real nice.  

Their new kitchen and laundry room.  The cabinets are made from old barnwood.  Very cool!

I stayed there for about four days and helped with a few small things and decided I didn't want to go through California or stay another week in the area so I headed east from there.  It was a nice drive through eastern Oregon and Idaho and my plan at that time was to turn off near Idaho Falls and head up through Yellowstone National Park and on east through Cody, Wyoming and over to Mt. Rushmore.  

Plans change, especially when I am making them.  I got to Twin Falls and checked the long range weather north of me, which looked a little unstable and cold, and decided to head on south to Hurricane, Utah and visit my brother a few days and then head east to southeastern Utah, Moab to be specific.  I did spend a week in Hurricane and Mac helped me with a few things I wanted to get done to the BBT (big brown trailer).     

The BFT (big Ford truck) Had Some Problems

I have certainly had my issues with the truck this summer.  You may recall the Turbo hose blowing off many times until I finally went on line and found a forum of folks that had the same problem.....but they also had a solution.  I fixed it just like they said and haven't had an issue with that since.  I also had to replace the alternator, which was a pain.  I also had issues with my glowplug control module and check engine light but also fixed that issue.  

Now I am getting ready to leave the rv park in Hurricane and Mac and Susan came by to say good bye and my rv neighbors, Glen and Jan and new Canadian friends, Alex and Gloria, came over to say good bye. They were all headed to Yuma, Arizona and wanted me to join them.  They all couldn't understand why I want to go to Texas.  Sometimes I wonder myself but I think it all comes down to the fact I am not a couple anymore and that is a game changer.  Anyway, I get all hooked up and got hugs and then try to start the truck, which started perfectly about 10 minutes earlier, and the batteries were dead!  I had plenty of help, and opinions of what the issue was, and we cleaned and charged etc. and it finally started up.  I figured we resolved that issue since the batteries were holding a charge now so I said my good byes again and headed for Moab.  

Mac tried to tell me to stay on I-15 and cut across on I-70 which are major highways in case of a problem but I didn't listen.  (He will love hearing me admit that!) I headed off south and east and took the small back roads over toward Moab. I stopped for the night in the middle of Utah, a long way from nowhere, off a small road with no cell service, but the price was right at Otter Creek Reservoir.  It was so dark that night I couldn't see anything but stars but that was fine with me.  It was a nice night for sleep after a long week of fixing stuff and a frustrating morning and a long day's drive. 

The next morning I crank the truck up and it is dead in the water!  What to do!?  Whatever it takes cause I am on my own this time, as I have been most of the time the last few years.  When Pati was my co-pilot I never took these kind of chances.  I repeated the previous day's stuff and cranked up my generator and put on the charger and pulled wires and cleaned and re-set them and eventually it started.  I know what the problem was then and before....the control plug module.  The wiring was not seated in and was not making good contact so the plugs would not fire off and it was draining the battery.  That's a guess but I have not had a problem since and that was a week and about 700 miles ago.

Arches National Park & Canyonlands National Park

After all of that "bad stuff" I finally got to my first destination on my trip south, Moab, Utah.  It has been over 12 years since Pati and I visited Moab and it has grown seriously and it is expensive since it has a captive audience. This place has numerous national and state parks and is world famous for off road riding and bike riding and hiking and the natural beauty that is not found anywhere else.  It is a special place for sure as my pictures will show.  I could not get into any of the national rv parks or BLM parks as they were full so I pulled into a rv park and stayed for three nights, mainly because the price was over $45 a night!  

My first day Dexter and I went to Arches National Park and took in everything from the truck windows  I decided to take a hike to an arch called Delicate Arch, about a three mile round trip hike while Dex patiently waited for me in the truck.  The info was right and it was a strenuous hike and up and up and up.....which I don't do well.  I made it but I need to learn to stay within my limits in the future.  Was it worth it?  Not so sure but it was pretty neat.  Once I got started I couldn't turn back, especially when I saw some of the folks coming back down the trail!

Does he look a little upset because he has to stay in the truck?

You can draw your own conclusions on the name of the rock to your left!

I worked very hard to get this picture!  Delicate Arch.

The final trail to Delicate Arch.....a little scary!

The trail, as best you can see, leading up to Delicate Arch....started way down there!

More proof that I busted my rear to get that first picture.

Balancing Rock

Courthouse Rock

The second day we went into Canyonland National Park.  I took some short hikes to see things but mostly we rode through the park and saw it. I did come to one area called Upheaval Dome that had me curious and the hike to see it was only a little over a mile.  Again....almost straight up!  I made that one too and here are some pictures at the end of the trail....pretty neat.  I think it was a meteor that struck earth but there are other opinions.

The trail leads up and up!

The end of the trail.

Pretty big crater.

This and the following pictures are of Canyonland National Park from pull-offs.

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

When I left Moab I headed for Cortez, Colorado and Mesa Verde National Park, home of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from A.D. 550 to 1300.  I was able to stay inside the park and had some real nice rv neighbors.  There are over 5000 known archaeological sites and 600 cliff dwellings in this park.  It has to be one of the most amazing places in the United States and a significant chapter in the story of prehistoric America.  

About AD 1200 the Ancestral Pueblo people began building their villages beneath the overhanging cliffs.  Construction was of sandstone bricks the size of a loaf of bread with dirt and water mortar.  Living rooms averaged about six by eight feet.  The largest village in Mesa Verde, the Spruce Tree House, had 130 rooms and 8 kivas, where some 60 - 90 people lived at any given time.  A kiva is a round chamber, usually underground, likely used for combined religious, social, and utilitarian purposes.  Entry was by a ladder in the center of the roof and every village had one or more.

I came here late in the season and some of the largest dwellings were closed for the winter.  Those that were open required climbing various wooden ladders to enter them so I passed on that and let my telephoto lens do the walking.  Trails that go up are hard enough....ladders are a no-no for this old guy.

Is this not neat or what!  I caught this picture of a Red Tail Hawk looking for prey!

I read that the Ancients domesticated turkeys and used their feathers for clothing.  This old guy was very friendly and must be very used to having people around...maybe for food.  There was about eight of them but he (she) was not at all afraid of me.

Well....that is enough for this posting.  I visited a few more Native American sites on the way to my present location.  It has been an interesting drive and, although it would have been even better shared with someone, this is my way of sharing for now.  From here I will have to look for new places in Texas and maybe the southern states to share with whoever reads this blog.  I will be in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area for awhile but I want to head further east this time....maybe that will happen.

Until later, Happy Trails and keep the porch light on.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Oregon Summer Comes to an End

As I write this, Autumn begins in two more days.  I love this time of the year more than any other.  I must say I am glad summer is almost behind me.  Hot weather depresses me and makes me want to do as little as possible.  The good thing about October is the Indian Summer it brings to the Pacific Northwest…..warm days and cool or cold nights.  Great for getting out and about and great sleeping weather.  I will always look forward to my second best season, Spring and all the beautiful wildflowers.

I have been pretty busy the past three months.  I have spent a number of weeks helping my friends, Don and Margie, remodel their bathroom and kitchen.  It actually was way more work than I wanted to do but they needed the help and I am always in favor of helping my friends.

Other than that, I spent some family time with my sons and the grandkids and Pati’s brother and sister.  I was also able to spend some quality time with my best friends, Jeff and Letty and Yanni and Josie.  I am so fortunate to have great friends in my life.

A Difficult Decision

I made a major decision while here in Oregon.  I decided to lay Pati to rest at Willamette National Cemetery. It has been over two years since her death and I have been greedily keeping her with me while traveling around the country.  I finally realized I needed to let go and let her rest in peace in a beautiful place with that will also be shared as my final resting place. 

Willamette National Cemetery is beautiful with green manicured grass and tall fir trees.  It is located in a suburb of Portland called Happy Valley and on top of Mount Scott overlooking the city.  Being a National Cemetery it is very well cared for and I am honored to know we can both be there together forever. When I pass on my ashes will be placed with Pati's and a new headstone will be made to include my name etc. and I have requested the quote to read "Together Again Forever".

I visited the cemetery on Memorial Day to pay my respects to the veterans and was awe struck to see hundreds of thousands of small American Flags on every grave and lining the streets.  It made me very proud to be an American and especially proud to have served my country in uniform for twenty six years knowing this is one of the many ways I am paid back for that service.  Leaving her behind was a very hard thing for me to do but I feel good about my decision.  I will always be back each year to spend time with her.  Someday I hope to have a small home again in Central Oregon so I will be close.

Pati is located just below the group of trees to the left of center.  The dry looking area is being replanted with sod as is the bare looking area where Pati is.
They are still putting sod around the headstones.  This was taken Oct 1st when I visited her.  It would have been her 68th birthday.  I always bought her red roses for her birthday and I always will as long as I live.
One of many lighthouses along the Oregon Coast
Oregon Coast Time

I have tried to spend lots of time on the coast of Oregon this summer because it has been so warm inland.  The coast is usually in the upper 60’s to 70’s in the summer and sometimes even cooler.   The worse thing about the coast is the crowds.  It seems the whole world is here and trying to find a place to stay is very difficult.

Lots of noisy Sea Lions

Roosevelt Elk at a wildlife viewing area just off the coast

Dungeness Crab Feast



I was staying at Lighthouse State Park near Winchester Bay when my RV neighbor across the lane came over and introduced himself.  He was a retired Coastee also so we chatted a bit and he asked me if I wanted some crab.  He and a friend just came back from crabbing and had a very good day.  Of course I said yes but I didn't expect him to boil them too!  What a nice treat that was!

Casinos and New Friends

I had some truck problems as I was driving along the coast road, which is hilly and curvy and not the best place to have a problem.  My turbo hose kept blowing off the metal manifold for some reason and my battery light and check engine light both stayed on.  Well.....after some stressful mechanical work along the side of the road, I limped into Lincoln City and stopped at the Chinook Winds Casino where I met these two guys, Lance and Ralph.  Ralph is a talker and told me his friends call his Ralph the Mouth!  Both nice guys.

Lance made that strange bike.

I mention these guys because it was my lucky day to have met them.  Lance is a backyard mechanic and he took over and helped me fix my problems.  I had to replace the alternator and we re-set the turbo hose and sprayed some penetrating oil on all contacts etc plus he even helped me repair a problem with my steps and my floor.  Lots of good came during that week in the parking lot.....which is free.

Ralph is a disabled Vietnam vet and gave me a lot of information about disability claims and Vietnam where we both were during the Agent Orange problem.  He is a character for sure!

I enjoyed both of their company and actually spent a few more days with Ralph and his wife at another casino called Spirit Mountain, where I boon docked for over two weeks.  I am not a big gambler and I don’t care for smoke filled places with lots of people but the price is right……free!  Most of the casinos will let you stay in their parking lots for free is you are using the casino.  Actually, I haven’t lost a dine yet and have been up and down but I am still ahead at this point by about fifty dollars.

I especially like the Spirit Mountain casino located in Grand Rhond, about fifty miles inland from the coast.  It is not as windy or cold and the RV parking lot is well lit, level and patrolled by security all the time, plus it has a dump station and fresh water station.  I have to watch myself because the food is excellent and fairly priced.  Every Tuesday and Friday I get a coupon for $3 off any food item so that’s when I treat myself.

I am getting some good use out of my smaller generator since there is no power or water hook-ups.  I wish I could cost justify putting on solar panels but it is not in the budget just yet.  If I decide to stay out here after next summer, I will probably have some installed.  Just enough to let me watch some tv for a few hours without having the generator going.  Speaking of tv, I just treated myself to the full season of Breaking Bad on DVD.  I never watched that show because I don’t have direct tv or cable.  After it won all the awards I decided to buy them for when I don’t have a tv signal….like right now.  It sure is a great show.

Other Tidbits

I got a great report from my doctor during my annual physical.  All is good and better than last year, other than I still need to lose a few pounds...ok fine....about 25 pounds!  I have always worried about having another heart attack but he showed me that my numbers are well within the limits and my risk of having another heart attack is only eight out of a hundred.  Pretty good odds, at least in that category, since I see the positive side as there is a 92% chance I won't have a heart attack!  Makes me happy.

Where to from here...............

Tomorrow is October 3rd and I have to vacate my beautiful spot at Champoegue State Park.  I am not sure where to go but I think I will spend two more weeks in Central Oregon, Bend area, and then head south from there towards California and the east side of the Sierra Nevadas.   I may even go back through Death Valley and over to Las Vegas.   I had planned on Texas via Montana etc but the weather is too unpredictable this year to go north and east.  So, I will go south and east and maybe hang out in New Mexico awhile.....I like New Mexico.

Getting ready for some BBQ salmon steak the other day.....the rain stopped and it is bright and sunny today!

This evening my son Jason and his wife Anna and my two little grandkids, Kaiten and Shawn are coming over for some Grandpa time and grilled chicken so I need to get this place cleaned up........so the kids can mess it up again!

Happy Trails to everyone...............see you down the road.