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Winter-Spring Traveling, 2014-2015

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Back at Timber Valley Escappee Park, our homeMonday, March 30, 2015: We arrived at Timber Valley SKP Park last night. Now we must work to learn to live in our fifth wheel again after six months on the road. Everything is as we left it and our fifth wheel feels like a "mansion" with all the space we have. There are lots of new weeds from the winter rains but it won't take long to get rid of them. We plan to clear out the Alumascape and give it a good cleaning. The animals feel right at home again.
The Crooked River Gorge and highway 97Saturday, March 28, 2015: Today is our last day in Redmond with Gwen's daughter. We drive north on highway 97 and discover the Crooked River Gorge. The pioneers must have been surprised, driving their horses on flat ground as far as you can see when suddenly they came to a 300 foot cliff falling straight down to the Crooked River. This is the same river passing through the Red Rock State Park. We are standing on the old bridge (1926) while photographing the new bridge on highway 97. Central Oregon is full of surprises. One of the surprises is that this area is the seventh fastest growing (according to the newspaper) area in the United States. We have friends who just purchased a house in this area. They report houses sell in less than a week. Click the photo to see what Gwen sees.

Riding in a single surrey

Wednesday, March 26, 2015: On this day, REI in Bend is giving a seminar on backpacking the Sisters Wilderness. We had planned to spend some time in the afternoon before the seminar with Lesa but she had to cancel so Gwen and I found a bicycle rental next to the Deschutes River. We rented a "single surrey" to ride before the seminar. We rode the bicycle path on both sides of the Deschutes River for an hour. The weather was perfect and exceptionally warm for March. We liked it enough to plan for Lesa and Courtney to join us next time in a four person surrey. Click the photo for another view.

Exploring the Redmond Caves Wednesday, March 25, 2015: This afternoon (after I did the laundry), I took Lesa, Gwen and Courtney to explore the Redmond Caves. Theses are managed by the BLM and are actually lava tubes near the Redmond Airport. I happen to spot the entrance when I was driving home from the laundramat. This time I remembered to bring a flashlight so it was Lesa and I who were the only two of the four of us who were brave enough to enter the caves. It looked like someone has a party in the caves. I'm sure the native Americans used these caves for one reason or another. We also used this time to look for a Geocache and found only one of the two we looked for. Click to see a larger view

My favorite location in Redmond

Tuesday, March 24, 2015: When traveling, I like to find a comfortable coffee shop to visit. Not the drive-up kind where the "coffee jockey" leans out the window and screams at you for your order because the shop music is so loud (Dutch Bros). I like the kind where you walk in, quietly place an order then find a comfortable couch or over-stuffed chair to relax, read a newspaper or Facebook on your phone, and drink my coffee. I also like a shop which has "specials" because it helps me to make a choice with all the coffee specialty drinks and they are usually cheaper by a few cents. I also like "free WIFI" in the shop too, although there is increasingly a risk to login to "public networks". Today, I took Gwen to the Coho Coffee Company in Redmond. It's a perfect coffee shop for me which meets all my expectations for my kind of coffee shop. This one also serves a small selection of food and bakery items. While I had the latte special, Gwen had a cup of Chicken Noodle soup. Oh! The little flower design in my latte foam is just an extra touch by classy shops which I like too. Click the photo for another view of the shop.

Descutes River in Tumalo State ParkMonday, March 23, 2015: This was a weather questionable day so I took myself to a nearby state park using my new state park pass. I learned Tumalo has a seasonal campground, currently closed. It also has a large picnic area where I parked to hike one of the park trails. The Descutes River passes through the park and the trail I hiked is parallel to the river for about two miles. I hiked to a point the trail seemed to disappear into the large igneous boulders. Oregon is in as nearly bad drought as California but today the river was flowing well with the recent rains. More rain is threatened tonight. Click the photo for another view.
Dry Canyon Trail, Behind: Old Town RedmondThursday: March 19, 2015: Gwen and "the girls" decided to go with me to BiMart variety store. I chose to walk the four miles back to the house from BiMart. I ended up walking through Old Towne Redmond (click the photo for a view). Then, off to the west, I noticed the houses ended at the top of a cliff which dropped into "Dry Canyon". I found a stairway leading into the canyon and began walking in the direction of the house. The city has paved a bicycle/walking path in the canyon and it appeared to be well used. I only hiked about 1.5 miles of the canyon and it went on in both directions so I'm anxious to hike the non-paved trails in the canyon.
In the Butler Driveway RV ParkWednesday, March 18, 2015: We are now in Redmond, Oregon about 20 miles north of Bend on highway 97. This is Lesa's (Gwen's daughter) new home town after returning from Germany with her military husband. Their new driveway is just barely long enough to fit our Alumascape. Fortunately, this is a quiet neighborhood so we slept well after our wet trip from Klamath Falls. The sun is out today but the temperature won't reach 60. Gwen is spending every second with her daughter and granddaughter.

Klamath County Fairground
Monday, March 16, 2015: Raining all day in Klamath Falls. We arrived yesterday afternoon at the Klamath County Fairgrounds, avoiding the KOA campground. We DO NOT like KOA. They are overpriced and the one in this town is next to busy streets and the railroad tracks. We are paying only $10 per night here and get all the electricity we can use but no water or sewer. We have plenty of space, one of the usual advantages of camping at a county park, and don't have to worry about putting Morgan on a leash everytime we take her outside. It's also dark and quiet in this location.

We celebrate pi day!

 

Saturday, March 14, 2015: This is Pi Day which happens only once in a century. It comes from pi = 3/14/15 = 3.1415 then at 9:26 this morning add: 3.141592653

Remember Pi(D) = circumfrance of a circle

and

Pi x radius squared = area of a circle

So I bought these T-shirts for Ben, Joe, Scott and myself but they did not arrive in time for all of us to be together for the photo. Ben and Joe will get theirs later.

What a great photo of Lucy taken by her mother.

 

Friday, March 13, 2015: This day my two sons, Ben and Joe, along with Ben's kids came to my daughter's house for cedar baked Salmon. What a meal it was, really good. Just before we arrived, my daughter, Mindy, took this photo of Lucy which should win the "best baby photo" contest. She enjoyed the visit with Chloe and Noah by watching them run and play games. Lucy is still learning to play so it will be several more months before she is playing with them.

Grandpa with Chloe and Noah on the play equipment

 

 

Thursday, March 12, 2015: This was a play afternoon with Chloe and Noah after a day at school for the kids. After getting the kids, we went for a hike around the park near their home then off to the playground for time on the play equipment. Click the photo to enlarge. Grandpa's time with the kids is running short. We plan to leave Reno on Sunday.

Hiking the Steamboat Ditch Trail on the hills above Reno.

 

 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015: My son Ben and I had lunch together today then he had to go back to work. I chose to hike part of the Steamboat Ditch Trail he told me about. It's a trail with follows an irrigation ditch around the upper hills of Reno so there are great views of the city and many of the "upper crust" residences. I was able to do five miles before going with Ben to pick of the grandkids from school. The photos show an example of the trail and the views I saw today. Click the photo to see a panorama.


Mindy, Scott and Lucy on a hike
We were treated with a freight train across the Truckee River
Tuesday, March 10, 2015: Last week I was invited to tag along on a four mile hike with Mindy, Scott and Lucy next to the Truckee River. Lucy rode in her baby buggy, she was carried in a pouch both front and back, she was carried, and she did a lot of walking (but not in a straight line) along the trail. She investigated the natural items along both sides of the path, all NEW to her. Most she picked up and handed to her dad or mom. For lunch, Scott and Mindy and fixed special sandwiches for all of us. We saw lots of bicycles and runners with dogs. The path follows the Truckee River. Just on the other side of the river are the train tracks which ascend Donner Summit in a few miles. We were treated with a freight train on its way to Reno. As we were returning to Reno, we caught up with the Amtrak California Zephyr. Click the photos for another view.
Chloe and Dad on the bouce slide, Noah climbing
Noah on the swingiing rope, Behind: at the top of a bounce slide
Monday: March 9, 2015: The final report from Saturday is showing the "Bounce and Shout", Reno location where Chloe and Noah spent two hours running from one bounce house or slide to another. There was also a swinging rope, several trampolines and the whole room is padded. The kids never stopped running. Click the photos for more views.
Noah spotting a horse Sunday, March 8, 2015: Part of my day with Noah and Chloe was at a park built in the 1990's. Because the park was built 25 years ago, the slide is taller than any built today. Does that bother either of the two kids? Nope! They both climbed to the top to spot the horses in the next field. They both spot what they are looking for but then they scoot down the slide ... slowly at first ... then the scooting stopped and the speedy sliding began. The sliding happened over and over until Dad called "time" and then the kids used their scooters to get back to the car. There is lots of concrete sidewalks at this park for kids on scooters and small bikes plus trikes. Click on the photos for larger views. Chloe likes climbing the slide for the view of the horses
Chloe beginning with a craft kit No trouble with scissors
The finished products, custom designed "cake", chef hat and apron
Saturday, March 7, 2015: While Noah was taking a nap today, Chloe and I worked on a craft kit. Gwen and I gave the kids a "craft of the month club" subscription for Christmas and this was one of the crafts. I was well impressed with the quality of the crafts. A parent (or grandparent) could get as involved with the child in developing this craft and teaching skills as time allows. There were three projects in the kit. The first was to decorate a chef hat with special crayon provided which worked well on the Tyvek type material used to make the size-adjustable chef hat. The second project was to decorate an apron made of the same Tyvek material. Once the child has the chef hat and apron completed they are ready to "bake" and decorate a cake. The cake is pie shaped foam, the icing is colored clay in a squeeze tube so the icing comes out in a pencil line for decorating. A pop cycle stick is provided to spread the first icing layer. Cardboard strawberries, blueberries and candles are the finishing touch. We worked together on these projects for about two hours then we cleaned up after ourselves. Noah has the same projects to complete and now his big sister can show him how to do it. Click each photo for another view.

Lucy and Mom are shopping for clothes

Friday, March 6, 2015: While I'm helping Scott with the roofing project, Gwen and Mindy take Lucy shopping for clothes. There is a really nice children's clothing story in Reno where Mindy takes Lucy's clothes she has out grown for a cash reward. The store puts those clothes into their inventory and they are sold to another customer. So Lucy gets new outfits all the time a greatly reduced prices. When she outgrows those clothes, Mom returns them for a cash reward. That's how Lucy stays in really cute outfits at affordable prices. Click the photo to see Mom in the background picking out some summer outfits for Lucy. I think Lucy is more interested in something red.

Scott was a roofer in a previous life so he knows what he is doing when replacing his own roof.Thursday, March 5, 2015: My daughter's husband, Scott, worked his way through college as a roofer. So when is comes to replacing his own roof, he knows what he is doing. I volunteered to help in the process. He is really doing ALL the skilled work, I'm the "gopher". I make sure the shingles are ready, he places them and uses his new pneumatic nail gun to affix them to the roof. I run for the nails when the gun uses the last one. I run for the black roofing caulk when it's needed around a flashing. We aren't removing the old shingles, just putting the new roof over the top. Scott is a fast worker so I must work hard to keep up with him. I'm more tired this evening than I was after the nine mile hike two days ago. We did get a lot done today and I believe we can finish the roofing project tomorrow. Scott and Mindy get some high winds at their house during a storm so Scott opted for a shingle rated at a 120 mph wind. The most interesting thing we did today was to put shingles under the satellite TV dish on the roof. I was going to remove it and try to get it back close to the previous location. Scott showed me how to remove bolts and slip a shingle under the base with other bolts still in place. If we do it right, the dish won't have to be re-pointed. Once all shingles were under the base and the dish secure, Mindy tested the TV reception, it was still perfect. Advil tonight, more work tomorrow! Click the photo for another view.

Mindy teaching me how to use a Vitamix blender

 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015: Gwen and I have been discussing the Vitamix blender since I saw one demonstrated in Arizona. The claim is that it replaces many kitchen appliances but I see it only as a blender. As it turns out, my daughter Mindy owns a Vitamix and used it today to make a smoothie from spinach, banana, apple, kale and protein powder. Wow, it was good. I think I'd have to figure out many more uses before I could justify a Vitamix. Maybe I'll go back to Costco and watch the demonstration some more.

Gold Ranch RV Park

Monday, March 2, 2015: This is Gold Ranch RV Park in Verdi with a storm threatening. I-80 is on the east border but we always park well away from the freeway. The casino is easy walking distance for a good breakfast, the other meals are only fair. I'm standing on a mountain overlooking the park. It has some good views and a few trails. You can watch storms coming from the west. Driving time to Reno is only ten minutes. Click the photo to enlarge.

Donner Summit on the road to RenoMarch 1, 2015: Today was a moving day from Lodi to Verdi, Nevada, about 2.5 to 3 hours when you aren't towing a trailer and the traffic is light. You must drive Interstate 80 over Donner Summit to reach Verdi which is 10 miles west of Reno. The photo was taken near the summit at the Soda Springs exit. I lived in this area for 13 years in a previous life. The Soda Springs exit takes the Nordic skier to the Royal Gorge Nordic Ski Center, a premier ski area in the Sierras. I loved Nordic Skating (on skis) in that previous life and visited Royal Gorge several times. There was never a day I didn't like in those thirteen years.

This is Joseph and Mary, my father's parentsSaturday, February 28, 2015: This last day in Lodi visiting my Mother was spent driving around looking at real estate on the market. We are wanting to get the idea of the market price of some property she owns. This included some "open houses" just for the fun of it.

One benefit of visiting Mom are the photographs I find in the house. This is a photo of my father's parents, Joseph and Mary, probably taken before 1920, they both look very young. I knew both as a child but both died before I turned ten. They owned a small farm in Vancouver, Washington where my dad grew up.

My sister played a "Billy Joel" concert for me. Friday, February 27, 2015: When Gwen and I first arrived in Lodi we learned my sister Dorana liked to entertain with her piano playing talent. I immediately asked if she knew any "Billy Joel" tunes. She said she would learn some "if she had the music". So I quickly checked Amazon Prime and learned I could get 20 "Billy Joel" tunes for only $12 delivered in two days. So I ordered. It was a Friday so I was expecting two day delivery to arrive on Wednesday (shipping on Monday, arriving on Wednesday). Instead, Amazon shipped on Friday and the US Postal Service delivered the music on Sunday. I didn't even know the USPS had Sunday delivery. Maybe only in Lodi, California. So I marked a few of my favorite tunes and Dorana took the music home to practice. It was today when she returned with the music for a Billy Joel concert presented to her favorite brother. Dorana knows I am also a fan of Beethoven so she added some short pieces composed by Beethoven to her concert. This was great fun ... having a private, personal concert.

As the story goes, when Dorana was a young girl she hated piano practice so called her older brother (me) and her older sister to get our help to tell Mom and Dad she did not have to learn to play the piano. Instead, we both told her to stick with it and supported Mom and Dad. Now ... she can play Billy Joel anytime her brother asks for a concert. Click the photo for a larger view to see which tune she is playing now.

Great Grandma and Great granddaughter Lucy

 

Thursday, February 26, 2015: We got a planned visit today from my daughter Mindy, her husband Scott and their daughter Lucy. Lucy is only one year old but she has just learned to walk so for the time she was visiting, she walked Great Grandma's house in circles and from one end to the other. This was all to Great Grandma's delight and Lucy had fun too. This was also the day Grandma got her hearing aids so she was able to hear most of Lucy's sounds and the conversations of Mindy and Scott too. Gwen did a marvelous job with lunch. Click the photo for another view.

I was very grateful to Mindy and Scott for driving from Reno to visit. I remember how difficult it can be traveling with a baby but Lucy was a perfect visitor.

Jim is repairing the roof

Wednesday, February 25, 2015: The roof needs repair after the sun-room was removed. Jim was the contractor who removed the sun-room, now he is back to make those repairs. This project is only to seal the roof from weather, birds and rodents.

Gwen photographing a foggy Pardee ReservoirSaturday, February 21, 2015: I wanted Gwen to see where I have been hiking near Pardee Reservoir but unfortunately, the fog did not lift today so the view was obscured. We did get to see several trailheads for the MCCT and looked around for potential camping locations. I lived near Pardee Reservoir when I was a freshman and sophomore in high school so the lake has been here at least that long. Click the photo to see the Pardee dam.

The sun room must be discarded

Thursday, February 19, 2015: The sunroom roof has failed so the sunroom must be removed. The sunroom was added on 20 or 30 years ago so my parents have gotten their money from the room. The room came apart in sections. I was able to sell the window sections but the roof had to be discarded. Click the photo to see the last section coming down. Click here to see what's left of the roof. It's on the way to the dump. Mom loves all the light coming into the house but she doesn't like the heat from direct sunlight. We are thinking roll-up shades will solve that problem.

Chloe found great grandpa's bench in the Lodi Nature Area
Gwen and Chloe enjoying Grandpa's bench.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015: Another weekend activity, a hike in the Lodi Nature Area with Chloe where we found great grandpa's bench. My sister Dorana, made sure a bench was placed in the nature area since Dad was a docent for the Lodi Lake Nature area. Chloe enjoyed the search and a 1.8 mile hike then wanted MORE.
Brushing the horse before the ride Let's walk Spreckles, that would be fun.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015: One of our weekend activities is horseback riding. Chloe has an unexplained (at least from my point of view) interest in horses so Dad Ben has taken her horseback riding more than once. When he asked me to find some horses to ride near Lodi, I first thought he was kidding so I told him to bring the stick horse I bought her for Christmas and we'd ride around grandma's house. It took some doing but he finally convinced me he was serious. I found a wonderful location in a nearby town with Speckles to ride. Julie train's people how to take care of their horses as well as how to ride them correctly. So this was more than riding a horse, it was an introduction of horse care and the beginning of a horse "relationship". Click the photos for additional views. Time to ride Spreckles
A first sleep-over with a grandchild Monday, February 16, 2015: The grandkids came to visit great grandma so we began playing the moment they arrived and it didn't stop for two days. Something very special happened for me during their visit. My granddaughter, Chloe, slept two nights in our trailer while her brother Noah and her father Ben slept inside great grandma's house. This was the first time one of my grandchildren has chosen to sleep in our trailer. We had no place to sleep except the floor but that was good enough for Chloe, she slept well. Noah is wearing a "Thomas" (the train engine) sweatshirt, his favorite PBS cartoon show. See those lime green clogs? They lightup when he walks. Click the photos for additionals views. Playing games with Noah
Mom getting tested for hearing aidsFriday, February 13, 2015: Mom is listening intently to instructions from the audiologist's instructions at Costco. She is to push the button when she hears a tone. After all the tests, it was determined that her hearing is 50 db low. The way I understand it, normal hearing is a zero but a sound must be 50 db before Mom will hear it. We also learned her right ear is slightly better than her left. The audiologist is confident the new hearing aids he will provide her will correct her hearing loss. I'm expecting they will be really high tech. They even have a remote control. We'll know if Mom likes them in ten days.

Lodi Nature Area

Thursday, February 12, 2015: Time for a five mile hike where part of the hike took me through the Lodi Nature Area. This is a popular location and always seems to have hikers but you must zigzag to get a mile out of the hike. If you click the photo you will see the Mokelumne River which is the northern border of the nature area. Very little water in the river because water resources is trying to keep as much as possible in the reservoirs to the east. Compare this landscape to what I hiked in Arizona and to the Mokelumne River before the reservoirs on my hike last weekend. I specifically hiked the nature area looking for a "back-door way into the area" but did not find it. There are many home backed to the nature area but these all have a private entrance to the area but no public entrance.

The patio room must be removed

Wednesday, February 11, 2015: Do you want some window panels? My parents had this enclosed patio installed many years ago. The roof has finally failed to the point ... the enclosure must be removed. The roof will be trashed but the window panels are looking for a new home. I've listed them in "freecycle.org" and hopefully someone will come get them. If not, I'll look for a Habitat for Humanity Restore and learn if THEY would like these windows.

Get well from Great grandson Danny

Tuesday, February 10, 2015: Mom had a doctor appointment today which went well. She had lots of energy so we did a few errands after the appointment too. She has a whole basket full of "get-well" cards but I'm sure the note from her five year old great grandchild is her favorite.

The Physical Therapist and Mom walking down the street

Monday, February 9, 2015: Today was Mom's scheduled visit by the physical therapist. Mom and I made sure to do her assigned exercises before Katherine arrived so we could report that Mom had completed the exercises twice since the last visit. Mom's blood pressure is down, that's a good thing. So Katherine took Mom outside into the sunny day and down the street. I would have taken Mom for a walk around the driveway but never down the street. Now I know better of how to give Mom a challenge. So this was a good day for Mom, she's improving quickly. Click the photo for another view.

Lodi Community Concert Association Concert

Sunday, February 8, 2015: This was a day for church in the morning then a Lodi Community Concert Association concert in the afternoon. Today the feature artist was Rob Verdi with a show title SAXsational. Mr. Verdi was accompanied by the Lodi Community Band. The SAXsational show featured Mr. Verdi playing popular and classic tunes on his collection of historical saxophones. It is by far the best concert I've attended of the concert association. The history of the saxophone was very interesting with historical and rare instruments shown and played. I recognized many of the tunes, maybe one of the reasons I enjoyed the concert so much. Mr. Verdi also had a pleasant manner with the audience and with the band which also added to the excitement of the concert. The audience gave a standing ovation which I've not see at the association concerts before and that earned us an encore. Click the photo for a photo of the program cover.

My sister shopping during First Friday in downtown Lodi

 

Friday, February 6, 2015: My sister, Dorana, has joined my on this Friday to walk the streets of downtown Lodi for their "First Friday Art Walk". Many of the stores usually participating in this event are closed this evening due to the weather. We are still able to visit four retail store participating. We "opened and closed" the event because we found so many nice people to talk with. We took all their time in conversation about their art and other events in Lodi. Few others were walking the art event so the artists had the time to talk. I found something special for Gwen, but don't tell her. It was enjoyable spending the time with Dorana. Folks thought we were married but we had to set them straight.

The physical therapist helps Mom

Thursday, February 5, 2015: Today was a busy day for Mom. It began with a breakfast of potatoes, onions, bell peppers and eggs plus coffee. Shortly after breakfast, Katherine arrived to introduce herself. She is a physical therapist and has arrived to teach Mom the proper way to use a walker, get in and out of a chair plus four pages of exercises to bring her strength back. Mom listened well and followed all of Katherine's instruction. I expect it will not take Mom long to regain her strength when she follows Katherine's plan. After lunch, we had a visit from the home health nurse. No doubt this is all the medicare protocol to keep Mom out of the hospital and in her own home as long as possible. When exiting the hospital, the exit nurse arranged for a home health nurse, physical therapist and occupational therapist. With all this help, she will improve quickly.

Lodi, CAMonday, February 2, 2015: We have arrived at our destination, my mother's house in Lodi, California. We have made a quick trip to Lodi because Mom has not been feeling well so we'll help around the house until she feels better. Mom has a large enough driveway we can park our trailer. However, we are only a few feet from four lanes of traffic so we'll be wearing ear plugs each night to sleep. Thank goodness, we are only 1 mile from a train crossing so we get to hear a train every twenty minutes. We drove Hwy 99 to get to Lodi. It's a busy, four lane road in rough condition so really rattles your bones and everything in the trailer too. The weather is clear and warm.

Tehachapi, CASunday, February 1, 2015: This was a short driving day, 88 miles to Tehachapi, California, just east of Bakersfield. Our normal boondock site was blocked by roadwork so off to a quiet location, a small RV park next to a glider school. You can see the sailplanes in the distance. Click the photo to see them up close. My college roommate was a sailplane pilot so I've flown in these planes many years ago. Next time, I'll make sure I have the time to take a lesson. The fee here was only $16 if we did not connect to their electric or water towers. We are now far enough from the freeway and trains to have a quiet night. This is Super Bowl day so I quickly set up the satellite dish and we saw every moment of the Patriot - Seahawk game using our solar power.

Barstow, CASaturday, January 31, 2015: This was a travel day covering a longer distance than we normally cover. We drove from Casa Grande, Arizona where it was raining to sunny Barstow, California, 450 miles. We have visited Barstow before so knew of a restaurant, Idle Spurs, which had an area set aside for free overnight RV parking. After driving through a whole lot of desert, we arrived at Idle Spurs for dinner and overnight parking. It also happens that Barstow is where trains are redirected and cars are regrouped into new trains. That makes for lots of night noises, it's good we like trains.


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Friday, January 30, 2015: Our friends Janet and Ralph are visiting a few days. Janet is a quilter and so is Gwen so we had to go to one of the largest quilt shows I've ever seen. This one is located at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix so we braved the Super bowl traffic (yes, the fans are in town) to go to the quilt show. The exhibitors filled two large buildings and a third building was used for classes. The ladies visited all the booths but fortunately made purchases from only one or two. I'm looking forward to the finished project Gwen brought home. Click the photo for a view of the one of the isles of exhibitors.
Flight tracking APP on Gwen's phone Wednesday, January 28, 2015: Gwen's daughter, Lesa, has been in Germany for three years with her military husband. They are flying back to the USA. Today, we watched Lesa's 12 hour flight from Germany to San Francisco on a flight tracking APP. The APP not only showed the location of the plane in route but also gave altitude, speed, time left in the flight and arrival/departure gates. I wanted to see the flight on a globe so I could prove to myself, the plane was flying in a straight line, not an arc as shown on the map. We found and visited the Casa Grande Public Library, used their globe to follow the flight path. Indeed, it was a straight line over Greenland, north of Hudson Bay in the Arctic Circle, through Saskatchewan, then crossing Washington, Oregon and California from north to south. The APP made us feel like we were "with her" in the flight and knew exactly when she arrived and San Francisco to transfer to her next flight. The initial flight path was adjusted slightly as we watched, probably to avoid some storm cells in northern Canada. Following the flight on the globe in Casa Grande Public Library
Big Two Toyota, Chandler, AZTuesday, January 27, 2015: We've reached 25,000 miles on the Prius, our last free service from Toyota. We know we will be traveling soon with no time for service before our free service expires. I chose the Big Two Toyota dealer in Chandler, Arizona from Yelp reviews. When I arrived at the dealer, I was offered a free haircut, manicure or pedicure and a sandwich ("if I was hungry") while I wait. The waiting area was the most comfortable of the five dealership service areas we have visited. The 25,000 mile service is tire rotation and checks on a check-off list so I got the car back in about an hour. I had a discussion with the service manager on the cost of the 30,000 mile service since it won't be free. I was told the service would cost $200 but I could buy extended "Toyota Care" to 45,000 miles for $300. That would give me the next four services. When I got home, I checked the 30,000 through 45,000 mile service list. At 30,000 the tires are rotated, oil changed and the cabin air filter is cleaned. I don't believe that's worth $200. So I checked YouTube to learn how to change/clean the cabin air filter. It was a 2.5 minute video after which, I pulled out the cabin filter and found it was not cleaned with the 25,000 mile service. I cleaned and refitted it. I'll change the filter when I get back to Oregon. The oil change at 30,000 miles can be done by my favorite oil service station in Oregon. The tire rotation is normally a free service at my favorite tire company in Oregon. Since Toyota Care only changes the oil every 10,000 miles, the extended service contract is not worth even close to $300 even with a free haircut each time. Still, for those who want the most comfortable service location to relax for an hour, I'd choose Big Two and pay the fee. Click the photo to see the service entrance.

Hiking from Casa Grande back to the RV park
Thursday, January 22, 2015: I've made a date with my two friends, Steve and Jack to hike to the top of Picacho Peak tomorrow but I learned Jack was hiking 10 miles today so I decided I needed to put in some miles too. Gwen wanted to do some grocery shopping so I had her drop me off in Casa Grande so I could hike back. Only 1/4 of the hike is road walking, the rest is through the desert. The total hike was nearly 8 miles. You can check the hike report here. I'm just hoping to keep up with Steve and Jack tomorrow. When you visit the hike report, try clicking the "3D" on the top left of the map. That will give you a "fly-over" effect of the entire hike.
Visiting Old Towne Scottsdale, The performance center

Wednesday: January 21, 2015: Gwen had a reason to go the Chandler today so we extended the trip to Scottsdale Old Towne. At the entrance to Old Towne is the Performing Arts Center we visited and learned of the many events happening in the winter.

Next, we walked into Old Towne commercial district. The majority of the stores sell jewelry and Mexican theme blankets, clothing, wall decorations, yard ornaments and art.

Finally, on the way out of Old Towne, we came across a group just beginning a tour using Segway. This is what we did when visiting San Antonio, Texas, so we know how excited everyone is to use the Segway. Click the photos for additional views.

Old Towne shopping, Behind: A group touring on a Segway

Morgan says, "I've had enough, I want a break!"

Monday, January 19, 2015:

Memo to Dale and Gwen from Morgan:

Today you took me on ANOTHER hike on an Arizona mountain trail covered with rocks. I didn't dare step off the trail because every bush sticks me with thorns but the rocks hurt my paws so there is no winning for ME. When you took me for hikes in Oregon, I could drop into creeks or lakes every mile and cool off. THERE IS NO WATER HERE! Even though you carry water for me and dump it on my head if I don't drink, it's just NOT the same. If I was my sister Amika in California, I'd only be walking on a sidewalk and at the end of a short walk, I'd have a lake to jump into. And if in the house, I'd just stand next to the door and bark then the door would magically open for me so I can lay on the cool grass IN THE SHADE (there is NO shade or grass in Arizona). So, here is the deal: If you take me on any MORE hikes in Arizona, I'm going to go live with my sister (even though she is a pest and steals my toys). Click the photo to see what I mean about how awful it is in Arizona. This is your LAST warning! Oh! and I'm taking Annie (the cat) with me! She doesn't like Arizona either ... she told me! I will miss you.

Love Morgan

Recharge a TeslaSaturday, January 17, 2015: Gwen and I traveled to Apache Junction today just to see something we haven't seen before. I was hoping to visit some of the RV parks because Apache Junction is much closer to the parts of Arizona we have been visiting while staying in Casa Grande. But, after entering the area, we were attracted to some "open houses" and began taking tours and learning how Arizonans live in the desert. We never had time to visit an RV park but figured we could call to learn about prices and features. While exploring I came across this Tesla charging station for the Tesla electric car. There is a bank of six with none plugged in. Apparently there are a few in the area. Tesla is building a huge plant outside of Reno, Nevada which will add employment to the area. Click the photo to see the recharging area.

I was surprised with our "open house" tour, first, by the affordable price in a really nice 55+ community. Second, by how comfortable the house appeared next to the desert mountain and how the inside of the house brought in the outside. Third, the whole neighborhood was quiet to the point of looking abandoned. No cars parked on the street or in driveways, apparently they all use their garage.

We finished the day by visiting a special restaurant backup up to the Superstition Mountains.


Lots of solar at Walmart distribution center
Monday, January 12, 2015: I decided to get in a hike while waiting for the National Championship College football game to begin between Oregon and Ohio. I hiked past a huge Walmart distribution center. I believe the building to the right is ALL or MOSTLY refrigerated. That must require a lot of energy ... look at the size of this solar generating array. It looks like they have equal square feet of solar panels with distribution center. That's why I took the photo, this is the state with lots of sun and I'm impressed with the size of this solar generating facility. Click the photo to enlarge.

We visit Matt's Big Breakfast in Phoenix

Wednesday, January 7, 2015: A couple of weeks ago we were watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Cooking channel. One of the cafes they featured was located in downtown Phoenix. We said to each other at the time, "we've got to go there before we leave the Phoenix area". Well, today was that day. The restaurant we visited is 67 miles from our location in Casa Grande but we had more than one reason to go that far so we chose to go early and learn why Guy Fieri liked Matt's Big Breakfast so much. I was expecting to have to wait for breakfast but we were lucky and got seated immediately at the only table available. Guy thought the Belgium waffles were special so that's what I ordered, Gwen ordered the day's special, a ham and jalapeno egg scramble. We weren't disappointed. The food and atmosphere were just as Guy Fieri described. Within minutes of our arrival, a waiting list began to form. By the time we left there were a dozen people waiting. I asked the waitress if the restaurant was this busy before it was featured by Guy Fieri and she told me it was always busy. "We had a loyal following from the very beginning." explained the waitress. Click the photo for another view.


University of Phoenix Stadium, Fiesta Bowl

Boise State wins, Behind: reward ceremony

 

 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014: Gwen's son, Dave is visiting from Boise, Idaho and with his clever management, gets tickets to the Fiesta Bowl played in the University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona. This is our first bowl game and a very SPECIAL bowl game this year because the University of Phoenix Stadium is the location of the 2015 Superbowl in a month. Boise State has qualified to play the Fiesta Bowl for the third year in a row. Their opponent is Arizona, a Pac12 team. It seemed that 3/4 of the stadium was filled with Boise State fans as were everyone in my group. However, I'm for Pac12 so hoping Arizona can pull it off, after all, they are on home turf. Boise surprised Arizona with three touchdowns in the first quarter before Arizona figured out how to play the game. The excitement, sounds and sights are the only reason to attend a bowl game in person, otherwise, you can see the play far better on TV. What an experience to be here in person. Arizona brought the score back to within a one score game with only minute left in play. They had a chance to tie the game but failed to connect on fourth down which gave Boise their third Fiesta Bowl win. The Boise fans came a long way to see this game and were the underdogs ranked at #20 compared to the Arizona ranking of #10. All the fans stayed for the award ceremony. Click the photos for another view.

The Imitation GameFriday, December 26, 2014: We had multiple reasons to visit Gilbert, Arizona today. Now we know what many people do on the day after Christmas, they go to a movie. The theaters were packed with several new movies beginning yesterday. I had heard part of an interview on public radio concerning "The Imitation Game" so wanted to see the movie. It's not showing everywhere but we found it in the Gilbert theater. We were told as we got our tickets, "The theater is 74% full, is that OK?" That was a surprise with so many new movies beginning this week. Walking into the theater, it was obviously MORE than 74% full, we ended up on row two 2. Once the movie began, it didn't matter because we were both captivated by the movie from the first moment. This movie is about people. It shows the very best of who we are as humans and very worst (no violence). If you are a CBS "Big Bang Theory" (BBT) fan, this movie is the BBT for adults, the best I can do in trying to describe the movie in one sentence. It is a lesson in normal and superior intelligence and how both cope with each other. I enjoyed the movie most for the superb acting, suspense and learning about a man who saved millions during World War II. I would call this the best movie due to superb acting, and timing of the story I have ever seen.

Rover's Roost Christmas Potluck

Thursday, December 25, 2014: Christmas Day, a day to see "The Christmas Story" for about the fifth time ... it never gets old, at least for people my age. After seeing the movie, it was time for the Christmas potluck which included a nice "fire" on the clubhouse TV. The park provided the turkey and ham while everyone else provided the rest of the meal, all good. We enjoyed the time with friends and the good food. Click the photo for a view of the clubhouse.

1222

 

Monday, December 22, 2014: Santa came to visit here at RoVer's Roost SKP park during our Christmas party. Santa's visit was just part of the excitement. I don't usually like the "game playing" at parties but this time the games we played we a lot of fun with a lot of people participating. We were instructed to bring a $2 gift and a $5 - 10 gift, so two gifts per person. Santa gave out the more expensive gifts but we exchanged the $2 gifts in a game. While in a circle (and this was a LARGE circle) we passed the $2 gifts to the right or left following the words while a story is read to us. A fun way to get a $2 gift. We also played bingo with the names of those attending. Of course, the party included lots of figure food, enough so people left stuffed. Click the photo for a view of the room.


The weather for Christmas week
Saturday, December 20, 2014: The weather here is just boring! I guess this weather pattern is the reason we are in Arizona in December. Lots of football today both college and NFL.
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
What's left of the 4 story, anchient Casa Grande
We learn of the significance of the holes in the wall to match the sun and moon to mark time
Friday, December 19, 2014: A 45 minute drive from our park is the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. This area is to preserve the ancient ruins of the Hohokum people who lived in this area until 1400. The Spanish (1694) named the largest of the buildings "Casa Grande" (great house) and thought of it as a palace. This compound is one of many compounds in the area and the only one protected by the national monument. The national monument was the first (1892) archeological reserve. Unfortunately, two centuries of curiosity seekers and treasure hunters destroyed much of the area. Still, there is much to see here and we can imagine the activities which must have happened here. The visitor's center helps with several displays. The amazing part is not only the building architecture but the system of agricultural canals built to redirect the Gila River to grow crows. This was done with stick and stone tools by hand. The local indians consider the Hohokum to be their ancestors and still perform ceremonies to honor these ancient ones today. Click the photos for additional views. Gwen and I have seen other ruins in Arizona and New Mexico and all seem to have ended about 1400. Something was happening in the southwest at that time.

Cell Tower 2.25 miles from our park, desert hiking

Thursday, December 18, 2014: We stayed home today to catch up on a few things around the trailer and the park. I chose to make a quick hike to a cell tower located 2.25 miles across the desert from the park. I used the tower as a goal point because it can easily be seen across the desert from the park and I knew it was next to a road leading into town. That means I can continue my walk into town, about 6 miles away, or hike back from town when on a shopping trip with Gwen. When you click the photo you'll see what the desert looks like around here. It's much different from what I'm use to in other areas of Arizona. Virtually no rocks in this desert, just dirt and sand. That made for easy, quick hiking to the cell tower and back today.

Chandler Costco trying a experimental system
Costco self check-out, Behind: One REI in the Phoenix area
Dutch Bros (a Grants Pass, Oregon company) is in Arizona
Wednesday, December 17, 2014: This day was trying to accomplish many things in one day in a location where I could easily attend a Meetup concerning winter backpacking. We chose the Chandler Costco because it is closest to Casa Grande. It is also the Costco where we had our prescriptions transferred. We learned this Costco is a test location for a new payment system. We used hand held scanners to scan our own items as we set them in our basket. There is also a self checkout, something new. The idea is to come to a checkout station, leave everything in the basket, hand the scanner to a cashier who totals the purchase. The purchase is paid and away you go with your basket, very quick. After Costco, we went to REI. For me, I wanted to look at trail guide books for the area but purchased nothing. Gwen was looking for nothing but found a cute dress. Lastly, we found a Dutch Bros coffee kiosk. Dutch Bros began in Grants Pass, Oregon, our hometown and has grown to many other states including Arizona. Behind the Dutch Bros photo is a sports car, an older woman drove up in the sports car, got out and walked to the Dutch Bros window for her favorite drink. It's not just a young drink even though the "coffee jockeys" are always young and blasting rock and roll. At the end of the day, I attended an informative backpack meeting describing cold weather camping methods. Click all the photos for more views.
RoVer's Roost SKP RV Park, Behind: our space #77Monday, December 15, 2014: We have come to Casa Grande to do something different. We usually end up in the Yuma area during December/January but Casa Grande is in the Phoenix area. The weather is similar although the storms these last few days have made it cooler than we expected but still warmer and drier than Oregon. This park is one of our Escapee parks with lot sizes about half that of Sutherlin. We are staying a month and the monthly rate is low $265 which is only $100 more than we paid for a parking space with no hookups in Bullhead City. We have full hookups in Casa Grande. One of the first things I did was to search for hiking clubs and found many with hikes scheduled during our stay here. Gwen has already located the quilt shops and noticed the day the quilting group meets here at the park. We've also found a few Sutherlin residents already here. Click the photo to see our location on lot 77.

Waiting for KC, Behind: KC and the Sundshine Band are on stage
Saturday, December 13, 2014: This was a travel day to Casa Grande. The photos are from last night's concert with KC and the Sunshine Band. It was a sold-out crowd of "gray haired fans". KC admitted to being "64" then made a number of age related jokes before he began the concert. There were plenty of fans with enough energy to wave their hands, jump out of their seats and "shake their booty". Gwen was one of those!

Our group ready for a boat ride, Behind: walking during a desert sunset

Monday, December 8, 2014: This day was to have been a boat ride on Lake Mojave in a rented ski boat but the boat rental company would not rent to us because the wind was too high. So we watched the carp in the harbor for a while before making an Italian lunch date.

After Italian for lunch, Gwen wanted to add some "steps" to her exercise so I joined her. While walking the campground roads we got a great desert sunset over the campground. You can see the reflection of Lake Mojave under the sunset. Click the photo for a view of the sunset.

Sunday brunch with friends, Behind: Top of the mountains looking toward the north, campground to the left of the photo
fresh water tanks for Katherine Landing, Behind: Katherine Landing from the mountains to the south
Sunday, December 7, 2014: We started the day with a nice buffet breakfast at Harrah's with friends. I did my best to be careful with what I ate but I knew I was still going to eat more than usual so I chose to hike home over Davis Dam. This is about an 8 mile hike beginning with the sidewalks of Laughlin from Harrah's then changing to the river trail at the north end of Laughlin. The river trail is paved for humans but gravel for horses. I hiked the gravel trail. After crossing Davis Dam, I walked the washes until I reached the mountains I've been exploring for easy routes. I still have not discovered any easy routes but using the maps I've made on my phone of the area, I didn't get lost and ended up at the water tanks with a gravel road leading to the campground. I've been trying a Samsung phone APP called S-Health, this is what the report looks like. Click the photos above for views taken during the hike. Note: these are NOT the beautiful, green, Oregon mountains.
Watching two football games at the same timeSaturday, December 6, 2014: Our boat ride is delayed again due to the weather. Instead, I go for another hike and watch all the championship playoff games. Fortunately, DISH network allows two games to be shown at once using a split screen. Here I was watching Georgia Tech/Florida State and Ohio State/Wisconsin.

Gwen interested in some of the Arts and Crafts, Behind: Library and bookstore, Mojave Community College

Wednesday, December 3, 2014: Gwen and I read of an Arts and Crafts show at the Mojave Community College, here in Bullhead City, Arizona. The show was small, indoors with lots of jewelry, knitted items and a few displays of pottery. While we were there, the courtyard in front of the library and bookstore was being prepared for Santa to arrive this evening. Click the photo for the courtyard and library entrance.

$200 worth of dieselTuesday, December 2, 2014: The day begin in overcast and a forecast of 10% chance of rain. By the end of the day, it was raining, so now we know what is mean by 10% in Arizona.

First, I walked to the resort store to ask questions about renting a ski boat on Thursday. I have three friends which will join us on Thursday for two hours of site seeing on Lake Mojave. I had questions and got answers.

Next, we haven't dumped our black water holding tank since leaving Verdi, that's 17 days ago. I believe we could have gone another ten days but Gwen was getting nervous. I hooked up, didn't have to take down the solar panels and towed the 200 yards to the dump station. I emptied all tanks then connected the water filters to try to get better tasting Arizona water into our freshwater holding tank.

After returning and setting up in our campsite, I drove to Smith's market where we had a 10¢ per gallon credit. I was able to get 35 gallons at $3.29 per gallon, the best price we have paid in a long time. Next, I drove down the street and paid $3.35 per gallon for another 25 gallons. All tanks are full and ready for travel.

Now I had a grocery list on my COZI list APP and was able to find most of the items in Smith's but left other's for Gwen. That was easy to do using COZI. I just checked off the items I purchased so when Gwen looked on her COZI list she would see I already purchased those items.

It was overcast all day so no sun. Our batteries were not totally deleted but I didn't want to take the chance so this evening was the first evening we have relied on our (quiet) Yamaha generator for power.

Gwen on the rail of the USS Riverside, Behind: USS Riverside at dock Releasing the dock line, Behind: On the observation deck of the USS Riverside Riverside Casino from the Colorado River, Behind: The Davis Dam

Desert Palms Casino from the Colorado, Behind: The Harrah's Colorado River Beach

 

Monday, December 1, 2014: We have been wanting to try the USS Riverside tour since arriving. Today was a calm, warm day so we took the 10:30 cruise on the Colorado River. The tour leaves from the Riverside Casino dock and lasts 1.5 hours taking a slow, narrated tour of the Colorado River area, Bullhead City, Arizona and Laughlin, Nevada history. Like Las Vegas, Laughlin was a desert dream. In this case, it was the dream of one man, Don Laughlin. He purchased an eight room motel then slowly built and expanding into the Riverside Resort and casino that we saw today. He still lives in a penthouse on top of the Riverside tower. Click the photos for additional views.

Gone Girl, the movie

 

Sunday, November 30, 2014: Rather than watch pro-football all day, we drove to JC Penney for something special Gwen wanted. Then, at the recommendation of friends, we went to the movie, "Gone Girl". It's a long movie, nearly 2.5 hours but we were on the edge of our seats most of the time. This movie has lots of twists and turns and an ending that leaves you either angry, disbelieving or both. If you like good mystery stories, this movie is for you.

Slow sales. Really fast sales.
Something for the grandkids

Black Friday rush at Home Depot

 

Friday, November 28, 2014: On "Black Friday" I could not resist going to ONE store, Home Depot. They do a great job with bringing in lots of "stocking stuffers" plus other incentives but I'm only interested in the "stuffers". It was plenty busy but I still found items with little customer interest like the Gerber multi-tool in the upper left photo. I also found items which were nearly sold out like the 10" table saw blades, center photo. I also found some surprises like the 1" x 6" x 5' "Kids Growth Chart". This looks like a fun project for the grandkids. I had to pass through the isles several times to make sure I saw everything and to do some crowd watching. I was impressed with this Bullhead City Home Depot. The management had triple the number of employees on duty and everyone of them greeted me with a smile plus holiday wishes. It was as if they enjoyed their job which made me glad I was shopping there. They seemed sincere, unlike the young lady who greeted me a Carl's Jr. Her "Welcome to Carl's Jr.", was as if she had been working there for 12 hours straight and my greeting was the thousandth time she said it. So yes, Christmas came early for me. I bought myself a six pack of pliers, a six pack of odd size screwdrivers, some Milwaukee reciprocating saw blades (that saw is in Oregon), an HDMI cable to connect my computer to the TV (since I forgot one in Oregon) and the growth chart boards. I was tempted with the 10" saw blades but I don't trust cheap saw blades (that saw is in Oregon, too). I enjoyed shopping but had equal enjoyment in talking with the customers and Home Depot staff.


Riverwalk bridge across four lanes of traffic.
Thursday, November 27, 2014: Thanksgiving! I knew our Thanksgiving meal with friends would be later in the day, so no time to work off the meal. I decided I would hike to the meal from the campground. Basically, I would reverse the hike I did yesterday but hike further into Laughlin toward our meal site at Harrah's Casino. My total hike was nearly 8 miles. I crossed the pedestrian bridge which seems "over-the-top" to me but everything in a "casino" town is over-done. Click the photo for a closer view of the bridge. Harrah's has the reputation of the best buffet. We were in line for an hour before we began to eat and the line behind us was just twice as long. I could not have asked for better food or selection.

A Guy Fieri restaurant is coming to Harrah's, Bahind: The Harrah's pool, only $10 to use it.
Harrah's south beach on the Colorado, Behind: the north beach

No bulb trail light?, Behind: Behind: The trailhead for the River Walk Recreation TrailWednesday, November 26, 2014: First .... a trip into Bullhead City to return items to WalMart then on to Target because we thought Target treated their employees better but learned Target is as bad or worse than WalMart ... go figure. We just have no place to shop ... and be socially responsible at the same time. Next ... to the Post Office ... more packages for the grandkids.

Off to Harrah's for a special birthday gift for Gwen, more than one gift for Gwen. We spotted the pool (only $10 to non-guests) and the north plus south beaches on the Colorado River. While at Harrah's we noticed the giant poster of Guy Fieri. It was advertising an new restaurant coming to Harrah's .... soon. So while there, Gwen "invested" another $5 and came away with MORE than $5. That's never my luck.

Now the fun really begins. I decided to hike from Laughlin back to the campground over Davis Dam. You can see the trailhead at the walking bridge by clicking the lamp photo. I have my hat on backward because the wind was trying to rip it off my head and down the river. I had to take a photo of the lamp post, notice no bulb. It was apparent to me, the bulb was inside the metal housing, the light was reflected off the reflector shield over the lamp. I can see that this would reduce the possibility of vandalism, no bulb to break, there are plenty of rocks in the desert to throw at a bulb. I turned out, the hike was 6.5 miles from the trailhead to our campsite. I may have to do it more than once.


Our campground from a nearby trail

Tuesday, November 25, 2014: I went for a hike today into the desert mountains nearby. I was hoping to find a hidden trail of some sort but ended up going cross country for half of the hike. It's not my favorite thing to do, I prefer a nice trail where I can get my heart rate higher. Cross country hiking can turn into (what I call) a "thrash!" This time I was using a map APP on my phone to make hiking direction decisions. It really didn't help except that I knew where I was on the map, it was still a tough hike going nowhere. The above photo was taking on a trail above our campground, click the photo to see a blue arrow on the right showing our location. Note, no other solar panels in the campground. That means these campers don't know how to camp without a generator. Remember, this is only $5 per night.

A few days ago we met a couple on the way out of the park. They had found a small group of wild desert burros. I was wondering what they found to eat in the desert. Today I found many of the desert bushes missing the new growth spikes at the end of the branches. The two photos at the right came from the same bush. One half shows the spikes at the end of the branches while the other half, the spikes are missing. Of course many of the bushes showed missing spikes or partially missing. My assumption ... the burros find these tasty.

Apparently my hike had enough climbing to give my muscles a workout, my legs felt the hike at the end of the day.

Here is something else I found today. Historic photos taken during the great depression and the first few years of World War II. Preserved at the Library of Congress, organized by county within the USA.

 

Winter look to desert brush
Same bush without the stems

Visiting Harah's Laughlin, Behind: the Outlet Mall

Monday, November 24, 2014: Our day started with a visit to WalMart for a few items we couldn't think of another store that would have them (otherwise, we don't shop WalMart). Then a stop to get propane before going to the post office to mail gifts to grandchildren.

Next came the fun part of the day. We have decided to have Thanksgiving dinner at Harrah's but we haven't been there yet to check it out. Gwen is walking into the entrance in the photo. We started with the "Total Rewards" card because we know the cards will get us a $2 discount on Thanksgiving dinner. They also came with a challenge to get 25 points on the card for a free buffet. We each "invested" $10. I lost my $10 pretty quickly, but Gwen cashed out at $13.72.

Our last adventure was to visit the Outlet Mall for the first time in Laughlin. Click the photo to see my success at finding some grandchildren items. The mall has lots of covered parking which I'm sure is important for 120 degree summer days. I also noticed huge fans in the parking garage to keep stale, hot air moving in a covered garage. After the mall visit, we still had perishable grocery items to buy before going home.

We still had time to see the Ravens defeat the Saints in Monday Night Football.

Char and Wayne at a Seattle Seahawks game

Sunday, November 23, 2014: Our friends Wayne and Char have gone to Seattle to see a Seattle Seahawks game live. While there, they sent out some photos using Facebook. Fortunately for them, the Seahawks won the game easily. Click this photo, where ARE you Wayne and Char? We spent the afternoon watching the game and looking for their sign.


Hike across Davis dam,  Behind: power generating at Davis Dam
Saturday, November 22, 2014: Gwen and I did some hiking today across Davis Dam and the Colorado River then on toward the trailhead in Laughlin, Nevada. This was mostly on pavement with a hiking/biking trail built by the city of Laughlin to the dam. We did nearly 4 miles in beautiful weather, t-shirt and shorts. As we were hiking along the Colorado River toward Laughlin, the USS Riverside tour boat passed with a narrated 1.5 hour tour. We may take the tour for only $10 before leaving the area. Click the photo for a view of the dam face.
Waiting for the show to start, Behind: ticket
Merle Hagard character, Behind: drummer
Dolly Pardon and Willie Nelson

Gwen gets a gift from Willie Nelson

 

Friday, November 21, 2014: This is the day we met our friends for our first casino show. This is a group of four entertainers who impersonate "super stars". We ordered our tickets early enough to get on row one, next to the stage. The four superstars are Tim McGraw, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. It was a fun performance but loud in row ONE. Willie took a liking to Gwen so she got his bandana signed "Love Willie". It was a fun time at the Riverside Casino. Click the above photos for additional views.

Contractor generator, enough noise to be heard throughout the campgroundThursday, November 20, 2014: At least once each year I get the chance to rant on campers with contractor generators. Last night we had a camper take the space next to us then run the contractor generator much of the evening. They are cheap generators intended to power construction equipment. They run at full RPM no matter the load with virtually no muffling. So this generator drowned out any other noises in the campground. We have a few campers in popup tents nearby so they were probably affected the most. A quality generator will cost twice the price but gives cleaner power, runs at an RPM to provide only what's needed and less than 25% of the noise. A quality generator is also considerate of other campers. Click the photo to see the whole rig.

This day began with repairing the front blind in the trailer. I not only repaired it but added "Frost King" window film which will stop any cold air and condensation coming from that window. Once that was complete Gwen and I drove to Laughlin, Nevada (only about 3 miles from our camping location) to meet with Timber Valley friends, Bud and Anita. We talked for a bit then walked to the Riverside Casino for a late lunch in their buffet. The buffet room is on the Colorado River so it was a great view but the food quality was something we will not return for. It was good to visit with Bud and Anita and we made plans to see a show together tomorrow.

Small laundry room at Katherine Landing

Wednesday, November 19, 2014: This is an odd photo, one of the small laundry room at Katherine Landing. That's how my day ended, with me in the laundry room. I spent most of the day driving from RV parts stores to hardware stores to Auto parts stores looking for a gas piston to replace the broken one which lifts our bed. I finally gave up and went home to fix my lunch. After a late lunch, I searched the Internet for the right piston without success so I called the first RV parts place I visited and had them order the part for me. That's when ... I did the laundry.


Space 8 in the Katherine's Landing BLM campground, Behind: The price of Arizona propane
Monday, November 17, 2014: We like space 8 in the Katherine's Landing BLM campground near Bullhead City, Arizona. It is twice the size of the other campsites and the trailer sits perfectly to capture the sun in the southern sky on our solar panels. There is also water across the street, close enough so we won't have to move the trailer to get fresh water. We will use the dump station when we leave the park. We also have pretty good Internet by using our phones as a "hotspot". The campground has paved roads with the sites partially paved. A concrete picnic table is provided. The winter camping fee is only $5 per night with a 30 day limit. We used our first day here to get propane (click the photo), groceries and check out nearby Laughlin, Nevada.

The face in Alabama Hills, Behind: Our movie guide book
Gunga Din location
A Gy Caballero location The Tall T location
How the West was Won location Saturday, November 15, 2014: While at the Lone Pine Film Museum we purchased a "self guided tour book" showing ten movie locations in the Alabama Hills (there have more than 400 movies filmed in the hills). We combined some geocaching in the hills will locating ALL TEN of the locations described in the guide. I actually heard of only two of the ten movies but our plan is to watch all ten when we return to Sutherlin next spring. Since we are Amazon Prime members, I'll bet we can watch all ten for free by streaming on the Internet. Gwen purchased a Randolph Scott western at the museum and we enjoyed not only the movie theme but seeing the location setting where we are camped. Click the photos to see the pages of the guide book which helped us find the movie locations. Hell Bent for Leather location
Lone Pine Film History Museum
Gene Autry and me, Behind: working stage for film
Roy Roger and me, Behind: Another stage
Friday, November 14, 2014: One of the tourist attractions in Lone Pine is the Film Museum with memorabilia of the hundreds of movies which have been filmed in the Alabama Hills (where we are camped). Hundreds of westerns have been filmed among the rocks especially in the 1920s through the 1950s. I'm sure I saw most of the Gene Autry and Roy Rogers movies when I was a kid. The museum had props, costumes, wagons, guns and scripts plus lots of photographs and videos on a loop. It was a fun way to spend the afternoon. Click the photos for more views.
Looking into the Lone Pine Valley from the Whitney Portal Road

The "Arch" hiking trail

 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014: Our first day camped in the Alabama Hills. I made a run to the post office to mail letters and to mail the extra set of Pressure Pro sensors I bought at the Timber Valley Yard Sale. My sensors are still working but showing signs of weakness. The batteries are estimated to last 5 years and mine have lasted 6 years. Pressure Pro will give a 30% discount on replacement sensors if the used sensors are returned. They are STILL expensive at $35 each but this system has saved me three times already so I'm thinking the system is worth the expense. After the trip to town, I picked up Gwen and drove her to the Whitney Portal. This is a steep climb from our 4,500 foot campsite to the portal at 8,300 feet. I saw about twenty cars parked at the trailhead so decided to do some hiking myself, tomorrow. I picked up a wilderness permit and learned that only six permits had been issued for today and three for tomorrow. The ranger suggested many hikers must not have picked up a permit. The hike to the summit, round trip, is 22 miles. I won't be hiking that far but I will hike for some Sierra scenery. On the return trip from the portal, Gwen, Morgan and I hiked the "Arch" trail where we saw two arches. I later learned that the main arch (click the photo at right) was used on the cover of a California Scenic Roads magazine. This area reminds both of us of the Joshua Tree National Park. Click the above photo for a wider view.


Lunch stop at Mono Lake, eastern California on highway 395
Parked in the Alabama Hills at the base of Mt. Whitney
Tuesday, November 11, 2014: This was a travel day from Verdi, Nevada to the Alabama Hills which are about 3 miles west of downtown Lone Pine, California. On the trip south on Highway 395 (one of the most scenic highways in California) we made a lunch stop at Mono Lake near Lee Vining California. This area has quite a history of fighting the water districts in southern California from stealing all the natural water from the area which would destroy the eastern Sierra environment. Lee Vining is a small town and one of the few places to stop for refreshment or lodging. We continued the trip south past Bishop to Lone Pine. Make a right at the only stop light in town then drive 3 miles to the Alabama Hills for free boondock camping in one of the most scenic areas of California. We are at the base of Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the United States other than Alaska. We are camped at 4,500 feet and Mt. Whitney rises 10,000 feet above us to more than 14,000 feet. Many Hollywood movies, especially westerns, have been filmed in the Alabama Hills. What looks like the tallest mountain directly over the trailer is Lone Pine Peak, Mt. Whitney is the peak behind the trailer. Click the photos for additional views.

One of the first to see Intersteller

Monday, November 10, 2014: My two sons and I wanted to be the first to see Interstellar, the new science fiction movie. So we chose an early morning movie time at the newest theater in Sparks, Nevada. The seats were ordered from an APP with seat assignments. I originally wanted to see the IMAX version of the movie but was convinced to the "regular" showing to get better, bigger and more comfortable cushion chairs. It turned out, the chairs were really recliners with electric control buttons. Another first for me in a movie theater. The movie has lots of popular stars but I believe the special effects were the best part of the show. It is three hours long so don't drink much before taking your seat.


Great Grandma has a birthday
Cousins playing games at the birthday party
Sunday, November 9, 2014: Great Grandma's birthday party brought all the great grandkids to Reno. What a busy day this was. The kids played together with games and especially on the trampoline in the backyard. Meanwhile, great grandmother had the chance to visit with everyone all in one location.

The kids at soccer practice

Saturday, November 8, 2014: I've never seen 3 to 5 year olds practice soccer. These kids spent 30 minutes practicing soccer skills and learning to obey coach instructions. They all seemed to have fun doing it. The kids had fun telling me about their experience then we played "Go Fish" when we got home.

Scott and I figuring out the rollers on the sliding door

Friday, November 7, 2014: Scott and I are partially successful in repairing the sliding glass door. It was very difficult to move with a broken wheel assembly on one side. The wheel assembly was replaced but the door was still difficult to move. We believe the warp in the frame and the damage done to the frame from the broken assembly has made the door unrepairable. We learned the door must be replaced at some future time. Perhaps French doors next time.

Click the photos for additional views. When you click the door frame on the right you'll see the artificial grass in the back yard. Fall debris must be vacuumed from the surface.

Sliding door removed, Behind: vacuuming the artificial grass

The best reason to visit Reno

Thursday, November 6, 2014: Lucy is a great reason to visit Reno. She is my granddaughter and nearly 9 months old. She is growing a personality, loves music and has really strong legs. She also loves her vegetables especially when Mom blends them in the Vita-Master with Almond milk and pumpkin seeds then pours the delicious mixture into a "sippy cup". This is the Dutch-made tow truck I brought to Lucy. I found this truck at a toy store in Bozeman and offered to purchase it if given a 10% discount. The owner refused so I ordered it for 15% less (including shipping) from Amazon Prime (two day shipping). The merchant chose to keep it on her shelf rather than turn it into cash for 90% of the asking price. My daughter Mindy and I assembled it and Lucy began trucking around. Mindy made the pants Lucy is wearing.

After the afternoon visit, I bought wrapping paper for the gifts I'm bringing to all the grand kids.

Click the photo for another Lucy view.

A visit to Whole Foods in Reno

 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014: I spent the day with my daughter, Mindy and granddaughter, Lucy. We first went to Lucy's music class. How does a baby do music class. We had clapping, singing, dancing and simple instruments. The class meets once each week for thirty minutes. I can see how much the class benefits not only the babies but the moms too. After music class, we went to Mindy's favorite market and our's too, Whole Foods. Where else would you find "Sugar Cane"? We also went to Trader Joe's, another specialty market. After this much running around, it's time for Lucy's nap. I won't admit to a nap.


Camped at Gold Ranch Casino and RV Park in Verdi, Nevada
Tuesday, November 4, 2014: We have arrived in Reno after another travel day from Winnemucca and parked at our favorite area RV park, the Gold Ranch RV Park in Verdi, Nevada. Verdi is west of Reno about 8 miles and at the base of the mountains. It is close to the freeway with the train tracks on the other side of the freeway, however, during the cold weather months, our windows are closed so the traffic noise is not a bother. There is plenty of area for hiking and for the animals to roam.
Lots of open spaces in eastern Oregon, Behind: The Steen Mountain Range in the distance Monday, November 3, 2014: This was a travel day from Boise, Idaho to Winnemucca, Nevada. That's about 250 miles. We got a late start but gained an hour when we passed back into Pacific time. This was a beautiful drive on a two lane road through areas of huge wide open spaces with equally huge ranches. Many of the ranch buildings could be seen in the distance, usually in a valley or against a mountain. The only town of any size along this route was Jordan Valley, Oregon with a population of 230. I learned the K-12 school in Jordan Valley had an enrollment of 80. We arrived in late afternoon and took a short tour of the town. Fuel prices are better in Nevada than Idaho. One of the many remote ranches, Behind: camped in the Winner's Casino Parking lot, Winnemucca

Our leather balcony seats with meal service at the movie theater
Gwen's meal tray, Behind: the leather seats on the theater floor
Sunday, November 2, 2014: Maybe we are just from the "backwoods of Oregon" but we had to visit the Village Cinema today to experience reserved seating with meal service at the movie theater. Our movie choice was "The Judge" with Robert Duvall and Robert Downey Jr. It was a long movie with lots of dialog but, of course, superb acting. Gwen is reading the menu then ordered a French dip will I got Pasta Alfredo. The seating was in the balcony which was age limited to 21+ so no kids and only 23 seats around us. The seats are wide, leather and comfortable. I believe movie theaters will need to do something special like this, otherwise, it's more comfortable to stay home and watch on a large HD TV. The price was no more than a regular theater seat. Click the photos for additional views.
Lunch with Dave and friends Saturday, November 1, 2014: We didn't go shopping again but we did meet Dave (Gwen's son) and friends for lunch just before it began to rain. When you click the Yard House photo you'll find an umbrella bag dispenser. I've never seen one before. Apparently the Yard House does not want umbrellas dripping on their restaurant floor. After lunch we DID visit one of Gwen's favorite quilting stores where she found a new project. We had to hurry to back to Dave's house before the kickoff of the Oregon/Stanford game played in Eugene. Stanford has beaten Oregon the last two years to a river of tears from Oregon fans. This year it was different, Oregon finally took control over Stanford and there was never a threat. Click the Mariotta photo for some game statistics. Oregon finally beats Stanford

Computerized fountain at the Villiage in Meridian
Friday, October 31, 2014 ... Halloween, the day Gwen and I joined Gwen's son at "The Village", an upscale mall in Meridian Idaho. The fountain performs "choreography" once each hour to a different tune. There is also a concierge located in the lounge just outside the restrooms. That wasn't the only difference with the malls we have in Oregon. This mall had the feeling of a quaint village, with many specialty stores. But like many malls in Oregon, half the stores were empty. They also have an upscale movie theater with reserved seating only. I have already reserved seats for Sunday afternoon in the balcony where there are tables and food.
Sierra Trading Post Thursday, October 30, 2014: While Gwen went her own way in the Prius, I refueled the Dodge tow vehicle then took myself to Sierra Trading Post. I was really tempted by a 20 degree down sleeping bag on sale but decided I might not need it until I get back to Oregon next spring and I didn't want to spend Idaho state sales tax. I hope I can get something as good next spring for the same price. Next, to Flynn's Saddle Shop. I'm still looking for the right outfit for my 5 year old granddaughter who loves horses and wants clothes with horses on them. I found just what I was looking for in Pocatello but didn't know the proper size. Now that I know the size, I can't find the right outfit. Looking at cowgirl shirts for a 5 year old

San Francisco Giants win the World SeriesWednesday, October 29, 2014: The Baseball world, game 7 was the big news of the day. The San Francisco Giants win the last game, 3:2 on Kansas City home turf. Madison Baumgarner was the winning pitcher and the hero of the game. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Royals get the tying run onto third base through a series of clumsy play by the Giants but the next batter is put out with a fly to third baseman, Sandoval.

During the day, our biggest thrill is a trip to Whole Foods. Click the photo for an nice view of Boise Whole Foods.

Parked in Boise, Behind: lots of wide open space in central IdahoTuesday, October 28, 2014: We have visited Boise many times before and always stayed in an RV park located in Meridian, a town only ten miles west of Boise. Unfortunately that park has become a KOA park. We don't normally stay at a KOA because they are always overpriced. This one also squeezes the units into a small space so little room for privacy. We chose the Boise Riverside Park for the larger spaces, the nature trail next to the Boise River and the better price. They have an excellent laundry room and we have lots of laundry to take care-of. Click the photo for a view of central Idaho. There is lots of empty space in central Idaho.

Off to church with Gwen

Sunday, October 26, 2014: Off to church with Gwen. Then, we visit an almost abandoned mall, even less traffic and more boring stores than our mall in Roseburg. This was another cold windy day so we huddled in our warm trailer watching football and the world series baseball.


ISU Swap meet
Checking out grandkid snow suits, Behind: ISU Bookstore
Saturday, October 25, 2014: I try to visit the college campus when traveling from state to state. I learned the Idaho State University was having a Ski Swap in the student union. Years ago, I did a lot of skiing both alpine and Nordic but I've not had the opportunity since moving to Oregon in 1990. I've always enjoyed a good ski swap so took the chance to visit the ISU Student Union and bookstore. If I wanted ski equipment, this would be a good way to get it. The prices are usually very good although I was disappointed in many of the prices here. I was actually hoping for equipment other than ski equipment, like backpacks, sleeping bags and other camping gear. There was a small selection but nothing I was interested in. I also wanted to see what they might have for my grand kids but again, prices were not that good. I finally gave up on the ski swap and walked to the bookstore hoping for an ISU decal to put onto our trailer or really good sales like I found at the Itawamba Community College in Fulton, MS. As it turned out, no good sales and the decal was $6 plus tax so I passed on the decal. Still, it was fun walking through the student union and imagining what it must be like when filled with students. We had thought of going to a Bengals football game but they are playing in Colorado this weekend. Click the photos for additional views.
My grandparents in 1957Friday, October 24, 2014: Our first day in Pocatello and we spent it shopping for groceries then resting at the fairgrounds. That gives me a chance to share a photo, given to me by my cousin Curg when he responded to some ancestry information shared by Ralph, of my grandparents in 1957. This is of their new thirty foot Airstream trailer when they began their "full time RV lifestyle". They joined the Wally Byam Caravan Club (#750) and toured the US, Canada and Mexico with the club. So what are some of the differences in RV travel in 1957 and today? It's hard to imagine towing a thirty foot Airstream with a Ford station wagon. Airstreams are known to be lightweight but the Ford looks overloaded to me. I know my grandfather had an equalizing hitch but much different from the one I use. I know he had trailer brakes but they may have been manually applied. He also had a 30 gallon water tank located on the floor behind the front seats. A tube led from this tank to a sprayer in front of the radiator. When the engine began to overheat, my grandfather would flip a switch to spray water onto the radiator. This resulted in cooling the engine. Think about the price of gas in 1957! I also remember they would stay in a "trailer park", there were no "RV parks". The fee was $3 per night for full hookups. Speaking of full hookups ... this Airstream (although state of the art) had NO holding tanks. My grandfather would set a 5 gallon bucket under the sewer pipe to collect both gray and black water. My grandmother kept a 5 gallon, insulated, lidded bucket in the kitchen and would dip water from the bucket when needed. I'm unsure of their water heater, since they had no freshwater holding tank, they would have hot water only when connected to a water source so I suspect it was electric only. My grandfather would brag about "taking a birdie" instead of a bath when not connected to a water source. When not connected to power, they had ONE butane wall lamp in the living area. When we travel, we are often looking for the "blue roads" to get a slower and more authentic travel experience. In 1957, there were no interstate highways. BTW ... we finally got to an Idaho Interstate north of Idaho Falls. We were amazed at the 80 MPH speed limit for cars and 70 MPH for trucks. No wonder the truckers get so frustrated in the three west coast states (including Oregon). Notice, no air conditioning, I believe the heat was a wall propane unit. The propane stove and oven was just like ours. The refrigerator was an ice box unless plugged into power. For entertainment, you can see the radio antennae above the front window, TV was eventually a black and white portable TV with a "rabbit ear" antennae. For us, even when boondocked, we want to be as much like "home" as possible. We can make our black water holding tank last a month with careful management. We have enough freshwater to last a week or more. Solar recharges batteries which provide power for lights, satellite radio and TV, plus Internet. Propane cools the refrigerator, provides cabin heat, hot water and cooks the food. I'll bet their thirty foot Airstream weighed LESS than our twenty-eight foot Alumascape. I know their Airstream was built very well and I believe our Alumascape is also quality construction. With nearly sixty years between our traveling experiences, we have many more comfort and convenience benefits but both units provide(d) a comfortable place to eat, sleep and read a newspaper (or Internet). Click the photo for a slight enlargement.

Camped at the Bannock County Fairground, Pocatello, Idaho
Thursday, October 23, 2014: This was a travel day from our boondock location near Moran, Wyoming over 10% grade on both sides, Teton Pass into Idaho. I actually had to brake going down hill which I normally don't have to do with my Banks exhaust brake. Gwen was searching RV parks in the area and came up with the Bannock County Fairground in Pocatello, Idaho. What a great choice. We love fairgrounds. This one has 100 RV sites with only three travelers using the park. We have power and water plus a dump station, the cost, $25. That's a little high for a fairground but what a great location. We like fairgrounds because they usually have lots of space for Morgan, usually quiet, cheaper than a regular RV park and usually lots of space around our unit. We are so lucky. Click the photo for a view from the other side.

Grand Teton National Park, October 20 - 23
Grand Teton National Park, Behind: Teton Range from the Jackson Lake Marina Our boondock location overlooking the Buffalo Forks River and the Teton Range
Grand Teton, Behind: local horseman Pioneer fencing, Behind: Teton Range identification Grand Teton and Middle Teton over the Snake River, Behind: Teton Range at sunset
Our boondock location near Moran, Wyoming above the Buffalo Forks River with the Teton Range in the distance.
I'm using my "rally" sign but no one has asked about it, Behind: Old town JacksonAfter leaving Yellowstone National Park at the south entrance we immediately entered the Grand Teton National Park but did not get a view for about 20 miles. Our first view was at the marina on Jackson Lake. The Teton Range reminds me of the Steens in southeast Oregon and the Wallows in northeast Oregon, the range just pops up from the surrounding area as a geological surprise. We followed a recommendation from our friend Ralph and the Escapees, "Days End" directory to a boondock location (free) overlooking Buffalo Forks River and the Teton Range in the distance. We are only 5 miles from the south entrance (below Yellowstone), 18 miles from the main visitor center and 33 miles from Jackson. The RV parks in the area charge $65/day so driving the distance in our Prius does not seem so bad. The maximum speed limit is 55 mph or 45 mph (depending upon the number of "big game" in the area). Because of the slow speeds we are measuring 60 mpg on the Prius so driving 30 miles is not so bad. The Teton Range changes moods with a storm on Tuesday but clearing Tuesday night. I staked my "rally" sign hoping other Escapee members would join us or someone might ask about the Escapee RV Club. The solar panels are faced directly into the southern sun so we easily got a full charge each day even with the storm. The sun appeared the afternoon of the storm bringing the batteries back to full charge. I took one day to hike into the Teton Range. What a pleasure. Click the photos for another view.
Slow, Bison in the road!, Behind: The mood changes in the Teton Range

 

Yellowstone National Park, October 13-19, 2014
Yellowstone sign, Behind: Midway Geyser field The Midway walkway, Behind: Gwen reading about high temperature microbes
Midway Geyser pools, Behind: one of the many high temperature pools Old Faithful because the eruption is predictable to within 20 minutes Geyser on the Firehole River, Behind: Old Fathful Inn (closed for the season)
Bison coming our way through the Firehole River, Behind: Yellowstone meadow Geothermal activity Mud volcano
Traffic stopped to view a grizzly, Behind: grizzly at a distance, need Richard or Lane's camera to get THIS photo. The Gibbon (on the left) and Firehole (on the right) Rivers converge to create the Madison River (bottom right). Hiking the Upper Geyser Basin, Behind: View from a distance
One of the many steam geysers, Behind: Boardwalk through the geyser field Gwen at the Morning Glory Pool Enough snow on the pass for creativity, Behind: Grotto Geyser
Grand Geyser, largest predictable geyser in the park erupts every 6 - 8 hours. Morgan is teased by a Raven, Behind: Star Pool The Old Faithful Inn is closed for the season but Gwen pounds on the door anyway
Old Faithful crowd Snow Lodge Grill (only restraunt open for lunch), Behind: Upper Geyser Basin map
Yellowstone Lake shooting into the sun
Yellowstone National Park is one of the premier parks. It's a huge park where most is sitting on a volcano which last erupted 625,000 years ago. It's the activity of the lava which heats water to make the hundreds of geysers, hot springs, and pools. All campgrounds in the park are closed except for the Madison Campground (next to the Madison River) and it closes on Sunday, October 19. We will stay until the last day of that campground. All buildings in the park are closed except the Old Faithful Education Center and the Snow Lodge, also located in the Old Faithful area. Old Faithful is named because the eruption is predictable within a 20 minute window. We were also lucky enough to see the Grand Geyser erupt. The Grand Geyser is the tallest predictable geyser in the US. It erupts every 6 - 8 hours so we had a two hour window to see it. We did our best to see wildlife. We saw bison, a wolf, a grizzly, an elk, swans, and Canadian geese. Click all the photos for additional views. My favorite part of Yellowstone is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. I was able to hike both the north and south rims.

Madison  Buffalo Jump

 

Monday, October 13, 2014: We went to a major native American historical location. Before horses the indians depended upon clever manipulation of buffalo herds to get enough materials and food for the whole year. They would trick a large buffalo herd into running off a cliff to their death or injury. This supplied the tribe with enough food, furs, tools and oils to last a year. Click the photo to see where this happened. Once the horse arrived, the indians switched to hunting from the horse. The point is, the buffalo was essential for the indians survival. Here's another view of what the indians saw in this part of Montana.


The reason for Lewis and Clark, Behind: How the Missouri got it's name
Mom at the Madison and Jefferson Rivers confluence, Behind: The Madison on the left, the Jefferson joining from the top right Sunday, October 12, 2014: We are in search of the headwaters of the Missouri River just as Lewis and Clark were in 1805. We learned that the Missouri begins when three rivers come together here in Montana. Lewis names the three rivers the Madison, Jefferson and the Gallatin in honor of the three people who sent him on the exploration. These three rivers come together in these photos to form the Missouri River. Click each photo to see another view. In the photo behind my mother the Madison flows from the left, the Jefferson joins the Madison in the top center and the two rivers flow out of the photo to the right. Lewis and Clark were here, Behind: The headwaters of the Missouri after the three rivers, Madison, Jefferson and Gallatin join together
Montana State University "M", Ralph's back deck and view, Bozeman in the distance Saturday, October 11, 2014: Our day began with breakfast at Ralph's house, a distant cousin, with my mother, sister Dorana, cousin Carol and her husband Larry, cousin Volney, cousin Joe plus Alex, Ralph's son. Click the Montana State University "M" to see my sister on the deck with a view of Bozeman in the distant right. We spent the rest of the day with Mom, Larry, Carol, and Joe. We passed through Three Forks, Montana where the Sacajawea Hotel is located, a historic Montana hotel. Click the hotel photo for a view of Carol, Joe, Mom and myself. The relationship is complicated for me. Carol is Joe's daughter. Joe is Mayla's son. Mayla is Bryana's sister. Bryana is my mother's mother. So Carol might be a second cousin so, is Joe a second uncle or great uncle or cousin? Volney is Jessie's son, Jessie is Bryana's sister. Ralph is Volney's son, Alex is Ralph's son. Somehow, we are all related. Sacajawea Hotel in Three Forks, Montana, Behind: All cousins
My mother with her two cousins, behind: visiting over a mealFriday, October 10, 2014: My mother enjoys her two favorite cousins. After driving into "big sky country" we joined my mother and sister for a visit with family. Most of this day was a time to talk about memories and past events. The afternoon was with my mother and sister at the Museum of the Rockies where we enjoyed art, natural and native American history. My sister chose to purchase a "dual" membership where she made ME the second half of the dual. I was able to use my new membership for a discount in the gift shop (grandkid gifts). I'll also be able to bring Gwen into the museum before leaving Bozeman. The museum does not allow photography inside but click the photos for additional views of the outside.
My sister just before she becomes a member of the Museum of the Rockies, Behind: My mother and sister

 LoLo Pass, Behind: Sign ... Lewis and Clark

Thursday, October 9, 2014: We had a lot of driving to do (at least for us), about 300 miles. We continued to follow Lewis and Clark which took us over the LoLo Pass which is the border between Idaho and Montana. We have been here once before but in the summer months when it was much busier. Stopping at the LoLo Pass visitor center I noticed a freshly killed bear on the front of a hunter's vehicle. Apparently it is bear season in Idaho or Montana or both. Here is a photo but don't view if you don't want to see what a freshly killed bear looks like. Our goal this trip is to drive to Bozeman, Montana where we will meet my mother for a family reunion of her cousins. I'm told I was in Bozeman many years ago but I don't remember so this will all be new to me. I'm beginning to learn what is meant by "big sky country". Click this photo for a history lesson about Lewis and Clark at LoLo Pass.

Hiking along the Lochsa River following the Lewis and Clark route, Idaho Wednesday, October 8, 2014: This night was camping in the Gateway Campground next to the Lochsa River, Idaho. This is on the scenic route over the LoLo Pass to Missoula, Montana. We hiked a short trail along the Lochsa River imagining this same trail used by Lewis and Clark in 1806 as they return east. The camper next to us left some art work for the next camper. I preserved his artwork in the right photo. We are surrounded by trees so were hoping for an hour (at least) of sun in the afternoon when it would shine between a small gap in the trees. As it turned out, clouds blocked the sun during that small window. Oh-well, we won't get any solar power today. Click the photos for additional views. Art work left by the previous camper, Behind: The Lochsa River, Idaho

Our camp location with Wayne and Char, Behind: night view of Clarkston Washington and Lewiston, Idaho
Tuesday, October 7, 2014: We are visiting Wayne and Char in Clarkston, Washington. They bought property and have built a house (on the left). It's not quite finished so they still live in their fifth wheel. They have plenty of room for us to park next to their barn. The house below the barn came with the property. Wayne and Char remodeled it, then sold it. They have big plans for the rest of the property as well. We spent two nights with them seeing the two cities (Clarkston and Lewiston). The Clearwater river meets the Snake River between these two cities. I always measure the remoteness of a location by learning the distance the location is to the nearest Costco. As it happens, there is a very nice Costco in Clarkston. Click the photo to see a night time view of the two cities. When you see the lights you can imagine where the bridges and rivers are. We were to get a late morning start today driving east toward Missoula, Montana but for the first time in our traveling history, Annie-the-cat did not stay close to the trailer and did not return until mid-afternoon so we weren't on the road until 2:50 pm. It was my fault since we usually lock her up on a travel day but since she usually stays close, I chose to let her wander this morning. My mistake which won't happen again.
Traveling October 3 through October 6, 2014 in remote area's of eastern Oregon
First camp at Trail Bridge campground, Behind: Gwen finds a log bridge across the Smith River Ukiah Oregon post office, Behind: only cafe in town, the Thicket. Eastern Oregon, either wide open country or narrow canyons

Alpowa pass where Lewis and Clark passed in 1806We had lots of errands to do in Eugene on Friday as we drove through so did not leave Eugene until 2 pm. That put us near Santiam Pass when it was time to stop and camp. We chose Trail Bridge campground because it we cheap ($5) and on a lake. What we didn't notice was the highway across the lake so traffic noise traveled across the lake to the campground. Still, we were so tired, we slept well. I found a trailhead to the Mckensie River Trail and made a mental note to hike it some day.

Day two had us driving through Sisters, Prineville, Mitchell and Mt. Vernon, Oregon to the Ukiah/Dale State Park which is two miles from Ukiah. I was surprised to learn it was only $6 for the night. I had spent the night in Ukiah with a bicycle tour many years ago so enjoyed remembering that cycling experience. We had Sunday breakfast in the Thicket Cafe, the only cafe in Ukiah. Driving in eastern Oregon is usually on two lane roads in wide-open country or into narrow canyons.

Monday we continued our driving to Clarkston, Washington (southeast Washington). To get there, we made the Alpowa Summit which was marked historically as a location Lewis and Clark passed in May, 1806 heading east on their return to St. Louis, Missouri. Clarkston is on the Washington/Idaho border with the Snake River separating the two states. Across the river is Lewiston, Idaho. From the names of these two cities you will understand how significant Lewis and Clark history is in this area. We are in Clarkston to visit with our friends Wayne and Char. Click all these photos for additional views.


Draining the hotwater tank on the fifth wheel staying in SutherlinThursday, October 2, 2014: One last trip to Roseburg on errands before completing the "to-do" list. The Cameo fifth wheel gets closed up today but first, all water lines must be blown out. I connect a Schrader valve adapter to the fresh water inlet then use my air compressor to blow air into the water lines. Gwen opens all the water faucets, one at a time to be sure all water is blown out of each line. Next, I remove the anode rod from the hot water heater and release the pressure release valve allowing all the water in the heater to escape quickly. Now I pull the low-point release valve to be sure all water is drained. Finally, I'm checking the washing machine to be sure no water is trapped. I know there is still water in the "U" traps but there are still warm days ahead which will evaporate that water (tomorrow, for example, will be in the mid-80s). Now I move to all the exterior water lines to make sure all water is drained, Randy, the park manager, will turn the water off at the below ground valve tomorrow.

Next item on the list, turn off the propane. Slides are rolled in then the batteries are disconnected. Everything is locked up and the power turned off.

Now I go to the office and give Barb, our office manager, money to cover the power we have used since the last reading of the meter. Gwen gives Jan a key to our mail box and money to forward mail when needed.

I take down the weather station and prepare it for travel. Last, I remove the coax leading from the satellite dish to the Cameo and reconnect to the Alumascape. I had moved the DISH Network receiver from the Cameo tot he Alumascape earlier in the day. I made sure it was working because the Oregon Ducks are Playing Arizona tonight.

We are pulling out early tomorrow morning.

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