In Search of Cooler Weather (and yes, Sasquatch too)

July 6 – After leaving Fossil (did we mention it was hot?), we drove to Pendleton where we planned to stay in the casino’s RV park.  There was a pow-wow going on with people camped all around the casino, the RV park was too hot, and the sites were in the sun.  Holiday Inn was looking better and better, but we did stay at the casino long enough to partake of the buffet and make our insignificant slot-machine donation.   Oddly, one of the movies playing at the casino theater was “Harold and Maude”.  A real oldie and one of Maggie’s favorites.

Pendelton

Pendelton

Pendelton

Pendelton

The next morning we drove downtown to check out Pendleton Woolen Mills which had cool stuff but was a bit too pricey – $25 for a pair of socks seemed exorbitant so we stopped at a downtown bakery for giant cinnamon rolls.  After filling up with pastries, gas, and ice, we hit the road for La Grande, driving through some scenic and hilly territory.  The PNW has such fascinating geology!

Betty Boop

Betty Boop

Pendeleton Mill Store

Pendeleton Mill Store

At the advice of friends, we detoured off I-84 before La Grande and found a camp site in the tall pines at Birdtracks Springs.  We then drove on into La Grande and had a nice lunch with our friend Gary and his girlfriend, Crystal.  Gary had been our roommate and friend in Santa Fe a few years ago and it was great to see  him and catch up.  After lunch, we were treated to iced coffees and headed to the air-conditioned library to do some blogging.  We decided to stop at Safeway on our way back to the camp site, and when we pulled in, our friend Karl was just pulling out.  It was one of those Syncro-nicity things (No, it’s not misspelled).   So Karl and the dogs, Kenzie and Dillon, came to camp with us.  Gary came out later in the evening and we had dinner and a campfire.  It had been hot all day but things cooled off nicely by bedtime and it was good sleeping-in-the-bus weather.

Birdtrack Springs

Birdtrack Springs

Karl & Larry

Karl & Larry

Gary & Maggie

Gary & Maggie

Karl and the pups left after breakfast the next morning, after which we went for a walk along the Grand Ronde River.  It was a very warm, sunny day and the river was shallow and cold.  We had another great visit with Gary later in the day and he gifted Maggie with a Didgeridoo that he had made from an agave stalk.  Gary is a creative individual whose talents fall into many diverse categories.

Grand Ronde

Grand Ronde

Didgeridoo

Didgeridoo

Because of the heat, we got up at 0630 and were on the road by 0730, breaking camp in record time.  We headed back up the Columbia River Gorge, taking Historic Highway 30 when it was available.  At one point it wound up a steep, curvy road until we came to an overlook with great views of the gorge.  We stopped at The Dalles for lunch at a downtown bakery/cafe, Petite Provence – highly recommended.  It got cooler as we made our way further west and Highway 30 passed some waterfalls.  There were lots of people out and about, and a few splashing in the waterfall pools.

Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge

Horsetail Falls

Horsetail Falls

We again opted for a hotel, this time in Troutdale, so that we could shower and do laundry before camping the next several days.  We headed up the I-5 into Washington the next morning, stopping in Kelso to get some supplies.  An odd bus was in the parking lot, and left as we started taking pictures.

Pink Bus

Pink Bus

We found a camp site at Seaquest State Park in preparation for visiting Mount St. Helens the next day.  We drove the short distance to Toutle for an ice cream, then went to the State Park’s visitors center to watch a video and look at the exhibits.  We both still vividly remembered the 1980 eruption.

Seaquest State Park

Seaquest State Park

Seaquest state Park Campground

Seaquest State Park Campground

Next morning we drove up the highway to see the volcano.  On the way, we found ourselves driving along the Toutle River, which is a milky grayish-beige in color, a result of its still cutting down through volcanic ash as it makes its way downstream 34 years after the eruption.  We stopped for Bigfoot at the “Buried A-frame” which had an exhibit of photos showing some of the damage that had occurred after the eruption.

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Big Foot

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Toutle River

We stopped often for photographs as the scenery was surreal and the power of nature showed itself at every turn.  We stopped at Coldwater Lake to make sandwiches and struck up a conversation with a photographer, Craig Markham, who showed us some examples of his excellent work.  We drove on up to Johnston Ridge Observatory and watched another great video about the recovery of the ecosystem since 1980.

Mt Saint Helens

Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens

On the road to and from the observatory, we passed several stands of trees that made us dizzy when we looked at them.  This photo is not out of focus – that’s just the way the trees appear.

Fuzzy Fir ???

Fuzzy Fir ???

On the way back to camp, we stopped at 19-Mile Restaurant, perched above the Toutle River, for a sandwich and some cobbler.  Back at camp, we discovered that a couple we had been talking with at one of the scenic overlooks was camped directly across from us.  We shared a campfire and conversation before heading to the showers and then off to bed.

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19-Mile Restaurant

We got away early the next morning to resume our drive up the coast.  We stopped in Longview for second coffee, then drove west along the Columbia River, stopping along the way to watch a large ship pass – the Freedom Ace, from Panama.  When we googled her, she turned out to be a vehicle carrier.  We continued on to Cathlamet where we took the bridge to Puget Island, then the ferry across to Westport.  Mag was driving when we got off the ferry, but found it difficult to continue while Lar kept repeating the word “Pie” several times.  A U-turn brought us to the restaurant with the big “PIE” sign, where Lar had Marionberry and Mag had coconut.

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Freedom Ace, from Panama.

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Westport Ferry

Instead of going directly to the coast and then south, since we would be coming back up that way later in the week, we went back east a bit and took a circuitous route through slow, twisty roads until we got down to Garibaldi.  It took us 8 hours to drive approximately 150 miles.  Oh yeah – the speed limit was 50 mph but there was a sharp curve every 1/4 to 1/2 mile, making the 50 mph signs a bit of a bad joke.  We stopped on the way to check out Nehalem campground but it was full and the surrounding area consisted of steep gravel logging roads which were undesirable for camping. Along these backroads through logging country, we reflected on how logging operations appear to have changed very little over time.  The ugliness of clear cut hillsides, with piles of detritus, left us sad.

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Logging in the 1800’s

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Logging in the 2000’s

We drove on to Garibaldi on the coast, where we looked forward to cool temps and nice beaches

Garibaldi

Garibaldi

 

For more photos of this part of the trip, click the link below;

Photo Gallery Link: Click Here

Happy trails … Maggie & Larry

From Cheese to Bluegrass With a Breakdown in Between

We stopped to visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory, the dairy industry’s answer to Disneyland.  The parking lot was jammed and there was a line of people into the building.  We were a bit disappointed at the tour since no cheese was being made during our visit.  There were just a few loaves of cheese coming down the assembly line to be packaged.  There were two redeeming factors, however.  The first was the VW minibus replicas that they use in their advertising.  They are kinda cool and Maggie had to pose for the obligatory picture in the bus.  It was hard to capture just the right pose since she kept saying “Hurry up, for God’s sake!” while Larry worked to get the optimal camera setting.  The second redeeming factor was the ice cream.  It was good.  It was so good that we passed up the cheese samples.

Maggie in the Short bus

Maggie in the Short bus

Then it was on to Sherwood to visit Bev, whom we had not seen since Buses by the Bridge 2012.  It was great to spend time with someone we admire so much and who has taught us and continues to teach us about life and traveling in a Westy.  With Bev driving her scooter, and ourselves struggling to keep up on foot, we visited her favorite neighborhood pub for dinner and good conversation.   Larry allowed as how Bev needed a sticker on the back of her scooter – one that reflected a shared regard for what it represents.  We think the sticker should give her an edge the next time she has a race with Loren.

Bev Scooting

Bev Scooting

Imagine

Imagine

The next day, July 1, promised to be a hot one, so after breakfast and coffee with Bev, we did our laundry and grocery shopping, said our goodbyes, and got on the road in the afternoon.  Because Maggie was not feeling well, we headed to a hotel east of Portland.   The heat was oppressive, it was Portland’s hottest day of the year at 99 degrees.  Traffic inched along and we noticed the idle on the bus was getting a bit high.  On the freeway, at 4:30 in the afternoon, traffic slowed to a crawl and at times stopped altogether.  The idle increased, and kept increasing until it sounded as if the engine would come apart.  We had to resort to shutting it down every time traffic stopped, and restarting when traffic moved.  Maggie had been driving, so Larry took a turn at trying to get things working as we crept into downtown Portland on I-5 at rush hour.  Supplications to the Vanagon gods notwithstanding, things went from bad to worse.  Larry punched the accelerator a few times too many, hoping to reset the idle, and the accelerator cable separated.  We coasted to the side of the freeway.  As Maggie checked the GPS for the nearest exit, Larry rigged up a string to the throttle assembly to MacGyver us off the freeway.

After limping off the freeway, we coasted to a stop across from the Crowne Plaza hotel.  As luck would have it, Larry was eligible for an employee discount which put us into a nice hotel at a very good price.  After turning the hotel AC on high and consulting the Roadhaus.com VW Repair Shops database  (now there’s a handy list to have!), we found a highly recommended shop, Precision Motor Car, was only a mile down the street.  Lar put a note out to local friends and the WetWesties list and we soon had all kinds of support and suggestions.  Did we mention that Vanagon people rock?

The next morning Lar again used the string method to get the bus down to the shop, thereby saving precious AAA tows which hopefully won’t be needed during the remainder of our travels.  Our friend Bob Peak showed up at the shop when Lar got there and, since he was friends with the owner, did all he could to “grease the wheels” and get our bus back on the road.  It seems the owner, Darryl, was familiar with Roadhaus and had received business from the favorable reviews on the list.  We will not bore you with details – part was ordered, came next day, and Roadhaus got a new accelerator cable which may or may not turn out to be the problem.  More on that as we test drive her over the next few weeks.

The silver lining in all this is that, while repairs were in progress, Bob took Lar to visit his VW stable, then took us both to breakfast at a really great neighborhood cafe.  He then drove us around some Portland neighborhoods and up to Mount Tabor for a good up and down walk.  After resting at the hotel in the afternoon, Bob came back and took us to a Thai restaurant for dinner.  It was nice to get out of the hotel and to see a bit of Portland and catch up with our friend Bob.

Bob Peak & collection

Bob Peak & collection

Portland from Mt Tabor Park

Portland from Mt Tabor Park

Bob's fortune Cookie

Bob’s fortune Cookie

The next morning we were picked up by friends Dick and Wendy Adams and taken to lunch at a Venezuelan restaurant in their neighborhood.  After catching up with them, it was time to check in on the bus repairs.  The part had come in but had not been installed yet, but was promised to be done in an hour, so Dick took us back to the hotel to rest up and wait.  Bob came by later to give Lar a ride to the shop to pick up the bus.  We then drove the bus back over to Dick and Wendy’s for dinner.  Again – Vanagon people are special.  We met Bob when he came to Utah for our Buses in Ruins campout and we met the Adams on our trip to Baja last year.  They were all very gracious and generous in looking out for us in our time of need.

Dick & Wendy

Dick & Wendy

Lar had caught Mag’s cold by this time so we both took DayQuil before going to bed – the theory being that we wanted to get up early and didn’t want to be groggy, so we didn’t take NyQuil.  The result was that neither of us slept but got up at 5:00 anyway to get on the road to Fossil.  We headed east out of Portland on I-84, the Columbia River Gorge highway.  It was a beautiful and cool morning with a quite scenic drive to soothe our sick souls.

Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

After stopping for gas at The Dalles, we turned south and took the winding roads to Fossil through dry grasslands and wheat fields.  We made it to Fossil before noon and found our way to the fairgrounds where other bus friends were already camped.  Karl, Loren, Gary & Evie, Suzy & Jerry, Lynda, Bob, John & Gail, Vanessa & Steve, and others.  There may have been 16 or 17 buses in all.  It was pretty warm already but thankfully Gary & Evie had set up some nice canopy shade where we gathered with camp chairs to visit and snack.  We walked the few blocks to the store and to check out the small town.

on the road to Fossil

on the road to Fossil

Fossil Blue Grass Festival Camp

Fossil Blue Grass Festival Camp

That evening we walked to the courthouse which was the staging area for the Wheeler County Bluegrass Festival.  We listened to some of the bluegrass, but came back to the bus early to get some sleep – this time with NyQuil!

Blue Grass on the grass

Blue Grass on the grass

Bluegrass Band

Bluegrass Band

We had the “All you can eat” breakfast with Gary and Evie the next morning, and got coffee from the little espresso trailer near the campground.  It was hot.  Or as Loren would say, “It was hot.  Did we mention the heat?  Well it was hot, mighty hot.”  Or words to that effect.  We lazed under the awnings, took a shower, and tried to nap.  But it was hot.  On the positive side, the nights got cool, we stayed up and enjoyed visiting, and then sleep came easily.  It was pleasant to drift off to sleep with the sounds of banjoes and guitars being picked from different directions within the campground.

The next morning we were up early hoping to beat the heat as we headed out of Fossil.  We said our reluctant goodbyes and set off.  We stopped by the high school where Maggie wanted to seek out some fossils on the hillside.  It was already too warm, and Maggie was still very weak and not feeling well, so we left the fossils intact and headed north toward Pendleton.  A strange shadow crossed our path as we headed over the high desert.  Could it be?

He continues to elude us ...

He continues to elude us …

 

For more photos of this part of the trip, click the link below;

Photo Gallery Link: Click Here

Happy trails … Maggie & Larry

The Oregon Coast or, as the WetWesties say,  “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head”

Coming into Oregon from California, it continued to rain.  This is not a complaint.  We could have been back in Oklahoma experiencing a steam-bath climate.   We stopped at Krissey Visitor Center just inside the Oregon border and picked up tourist info, including the “Mile-by-Mile” pamphlet that was very helpful in picking out places we wanted to see.  We stopped for the night at Harris Beach State Park where it continued to rain all night and into the next day.  We popped the top and remained dry, feeling a bit sorry for the tent-campers who were out by their picnic table with umbrellas trying to make dinner.

Harris Beach State Park

Harris Beach State Park

Next morning, still raining, we took showers, made coffee and packed up.  After a 2nd coffee at Starbucks, where Larry modeled his rainwear to the chagrin of Maggie, we began driving up the coast, stopping often to walk on the beaches and take pictures.  The rain let up a bit but it remained misty and foggy all morning, creating some ideal conditions for photos of the spectacular coastline.  We drove north from Brookings through Gold Beach, Bandon, and on to Bullard’s Beach State Park to camp.  The weather cleared a bit and temps were in the 50s, perfect for sleeping.

Rain Couture

Rain Couture

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

When we announced our location, we were bombarded with insistent requests from WetWestie friends that we backtrack for breakfast  at the Greasy Spoon south of Bandon.  And so it was.  Our traditional breakfasts of eggs, biscuits, hash browns and corned beef hash were accompanied by various conversations of the local variety:  weather, crops, neighbors and other topics, all expressed in a relaxed drawl.  We stopped on our way back through Bandon to walk around.

Greasy Spoon

Greasy Spoon

Old Town Bandon

Old Town Bandon

We headed on north in and out of the rain, again stopping for the occasional beach hike and photo.  We nearly got stuck in the sand at Oregon Dunes, but Lar and Roadhaus managed to free us.  We eventually camped at Tillicum Beach, parked right next to the sea, as the rain continued.  Again, we sat comfortably in the bus while nearby campers struggled to put up tents.  We almost felt guilty as we sipped our freshly made coffee and nibbled on a cookie.

Oregon Dunes

Tillicum Beach Campground

Tillicum Beach Campground

Tillicum Beach

Tillicum Beach

We got a call from Bev recommending a visit to Cape Perpetua.  So the next morning we backtracked a short distance to the Cape and hiked to the tide pools.  The raincoats have had a good workout this trip.

 

Cape Perpetua

Cape Perpetua

Cape Perpetua

Cape Perpetua

Cape Perpetua Tide Pools

Cape Perpetua Tide Pools

We then drove on to Newport and visited the aquarium there, afterwards walking around the harbor area and stopping for lunch.  Maggie finally let Larry have some seafood, which gave her points toward an ice cream cone.  As we continued north, we had some periods of sun!  We got to Cape Lookout State Park late in the afternoon and saw that the campground was full.  Maggie insisted on questioning the ranger about alternative camp sites and was informed that, in fact, there was one site left.  We’ll take it!

 

Jellies

Jellies

Newport Harbor

Newport Harbor

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Cape Lookout State Park Campground

After setting up camp, we walked along the beach for awhile, spotting a possible Sasquatch print in the sand.  We’ve been on this guy’s trail and here was further evidence of his existence.  Now we need to have a word with y’all who have been giving us grief about the difference between Bigfoot and Sasquatch.  Technically, Sasquatch is supposed to be the Indian name of the Canadian cousin to Bigfoot who resides further south.  Now really!  Do you think these guys stop at customs to have their passports checked?  Not.  They are one and the same.  Now they do have some distant cousins, such as the Yeti, Yowie, Meh-Teh, Raksha, Kikomba, etc.  But we are talking about Bigfoot aka Sasquatch.  The hunt continues…

Big Foot

Big Foot

It was at Cape Lookout that Maggie developed a sore throat, a harbinger of a tenacious virus that eventually struck both of us.  We decided to stay another night at Cape Lookout as we were enjoying the sunshine and cool nights.  The next day we took quite a long hike on the beach as the tide came in.  Back in camp, we spotted 3 or 4 other Westys.  We finally got to have a campfire, sans rain, and went to bed for a peaceful night’s sleep – Maggie’s accompanied by NyQuil.

Cape Lookout Beach

Cape Lookout Beach

Cape Lookout Beach

Cape Lookout Beach

A late start the next morning, June 30, sent us up to Cape Meares lighthouse where we took a walk and some photos.  The road beyond Cape Meares was closed and so we backtracked to the little beach town of Oceanside where we had a delicious breakfast and good coffee.  This concluded our trip up the Oregon Coast, at least for now, and we headed inland on our way to visit Bev Beam, Matron Saint of Vanagons and WetWestie emeritus.

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Cape Meares Lighthouse

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Oceanside Beach

 

For more photos of this part of the trip, click the link below;

Photo Gallery Link: Click Here

Happy trails … Maggie & Larry

 

Adventures in La Pine or Vanagon People Just Rock

We coasted into La Pine, took care of a few errands, and made our way to the home of Gary and Evie Marrs, aka Planet Mars.  We had rehearsed our “don’t want to be a bother” routine and wanted to let them know we didn’t need to be fussed over or entertained.  Well, Plan B was that Evie was already cooking up a scrumptious meal in our honor, Gary had ordered our parts, and they graciously provided us with their fifth-wheel as a guest room.  We took a tour of the large, well-appointed shop where they keep their Westy collection and then we all sat down to a delicious meal of roast, scalloped potatoes, corn on the cob, and salad.

Gary's Stable

Gary & Evie’s Stable

This is where we digress momentarily to mention the awesomeness of Vanagon people.  Although this is a generalization, it is a pretty darn accurate one.  It has been our experience that Vanagon folk are generous, good-natured, and always willing to provide advice, assistance, a driveway to park in, or just good conversation.  Sometimes they even talk about something other than Vanagons.  We have each been fortunate enough to belong to this community for over 10 years.  We will return to this theme again in future posts.

Gary informed us that the CV axle had come in and it could be dealt with the next day.  Our friend Karl was also on his way to La Pine from Maryland and would help with the repairs.  Meanwhile, next morning, other Vanagon folk came by to visit – Ellen, John, and Vern.  We borrowed a car from the Marrs and drove into Bend to do a little shopping and look around.  We then stopped at the High Desert Museum and Lava Lands.  From there we met Gary and Evie back in Bend for dinner at El Rodeo Mexican Restaurant.

Karl's monster

Karl’s monster

Sue & Vern's Buses

Sue & Vern’s Buses

A lunch meal was planned the next day for whoever decided to show up.  Karl arrived with his two dogs, Vern came back, and Sue also showed up.  After stuffing ourselves, the guys set to the repairs.  When the new CV was opened, Karl immediately noted that it was the wrong one – despite having the correct part number on it.  The old CV was taken apart and it was discovered that when it had been replaced two years ago, it had been assembled backward, and was practically devoid of grease.  Larry and Karl took it apart, packed it with grease, reassembled and reinstalled it.  The other CVs were generously greased for good measure.  The subsequent test drive was successful and thus we were free to continue on our journey – but decided to stay one more day.

Karl & Larry

Karl & Larry

Worn CV bearings

Worn CV bearings

The master teaches

The master teaches

The Crew

The Crew

Evie and Maggie drove up to the casino north of Madras the next morning for a little R&R and stopped along the way to take a few pictures.  The guys took one of the buses and toured around the area outside of La Pine, looking at camping areas and scenery.  Then we started packing up to head to Jedediah Smith Redwood Park near Crescent City, California.

Crooked River Bridge

Crooked River Bridge

La Pine Area

La Pine Area

Sheep Bridge Campground

Sheep Bridge Campground

We left LaPine and the generosity of our friends on 6/24 and stopped several times to take photos along the route – Rogue River Gorge was a particularly beautiful spot.  We grabbed groceries and gas in Grants Pass before stopping at Oregon Caves National Monument for milkshakes.  Yes, that’s right, we drove a 20-mile winding road up a mountain just for milkshakes at The Chateau as we got there just before closing!  The Chateau was built in 1934, right into the side of the mountain.  Never let it be said that we let a few miles get between us and a good ice cream snack.

Rogue River Gorge

Rogue River Gorge

Milk Shake

Milk Shake

Chateau

Chateau

We made our way to Jedediah Smith State Park only to discover that the campground was full – on a Tuesday evening.  We settled for a State Park nearby that was marginal but doable.  We camped next to some redwoods and awoke to a misty/rainy morning.  After coffee and cereal, we headed to Howland Hill Road which is a long, narrow dirt road that winds through redwood forest lush with ferns, moss, and all kinds of vegetation.  We stopped to hike a loop trail at Stout Grove where we were dwarfed by redwoods up to 2,000 years old.  We encountered a banana slug, mascot of UC Santa Cruz.  Apparently they eat anything in their paths except redwood.  Lar noted that the brown-spotted ones are “slightly overripe”.

Little Maggie

Little Maggie

Woa

Woa

Banana Slug

Banana Slug

We drove out of the park in the rain, stopped at a coffee hut for some (bad) coffee, and headed north towards the Oregon coast.  We were satisfied with our travels so far, the condition of the van, and the great friends/family we had spent time with along the way.

 

For more photos of this part of the trip, click the link below;

Photo Gallery Link: Click Here

Happy trails … Maggie & Larry