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Wandering Eastern Oregon in an RV page 3

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Some of the wildlife in Leslie Gulch
Monday, July 13, 2009: I figured I get the photo of the highlight of our day on this page first. While hiking in Leslie Gulch, you must always keep a lookout for rattlesnakes. This one was well off the trail but Morgan found him and I photographed him. Note that at least half his body is ready to launch an attack. We let him be after he posed for the photo and continued our hike. You can click any of the photos on this page to enlarge. If you see a magnifing glass with a (+) in the center for your pointer, then click again to get the maximum size photo. The reason to visit Leslie Gulch in far eastern Oregon is to see the incredible geologic formations. When you enlarge the photos, you will agree that it's like walking through a frozen lava flow but weathered by the eastern Oregon climate. Hiking up Juniper Gulch
Incredible geologic formations Juniper Gulch hike
A broader view of the gulch
Obvious water erosion On the trail
The road through Leslie Gulch

The photo above is of the road through Leslie Gulch. When you enlarge the photo you can see our truck parked next to the road.

We still took the time to do some Geocaching. Gwen has found one located half way up one of the steep slopes in the gulch. She has her GPS in her left hand.

Time for Geocaching
Auh Shucks, a flat tire Tuesday, July 14, 2009: Well, Mom, you are right, it's much safer to stay on the pavement. But I already knew that so this is what I learned from my flat tire experience still ten miles from pavement as we were returning from Leslie Gulch. 1) I learned that, of the millions of rocks we've driven over these last three weeks, one of them was sharp enough to puncture a trailer tire. 2) My Pressure Pro tire pressure monitoring system works. When the tire pressure in my left rear trailer tire hit 65 PSI my monitor began sounding an alarm. I knew it wasn't a false alarm because the 65
PSI I saw when I first looked up was decreasing rapidly. That meant no damage to the trailer even if the tire was not repairable. 3) All my preparation for a situation like this worked. My funky Sear/Roebuck floor jack worked because I built a 4 foot extension handle of pipe. I carried the right socket handle and socket to fit the lug nuts. 4) I learned that the nut to lower the spare tire is located behind everything stored in the rear hatch. And, the arm and crank to turn the nut are located behind everything in the front hatch because "we will never need them". 5) I learned that I should check the tire pressure in the spare if I don't want to hand pump it up to 80 PSI where it belongs, this spare had 65 PSI. 6) I was intending on replacing the trailer tires in the fall, 2010 but my current tires have only 1.5 mm of usable tread left. The spare was brand new and has 6.5 mm of This is how you crank down the spare tire
Mounting the spare usable tread 7) Les Schwab gives the same great service in Meridian, Idaho as in Grants Pass, Oregon. I considered buying four new tires however, Idaho has a SALES TAX, I'll wait and replace the other three tires in Oregon with NO sales tax. I guess I've put a lot more miles on this trailer than I thought I had. We've owned it for 2-1/2 years. 8)I haven't lost my tire changing skills. With Gwen's help, we changed the flat tire and were rolling down the gravel again in 35 minutes. That includes all the time it took to unload both the back hatch to get to the nut to release the spare tire and the front hatch to get to the arm and crank to turn the nut to release the spare tire. 9) It could have been worse, it could have been 110 degrees on the freeway with traffic passing within a few feet at 70 MPH. As it was, only one vehicle passed us on this gravel road at 5 MPH. It was 80 degrees.

We made it back to pavement, State Route 95, which actually passes through Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, and Idaho. The first Idaho town we reached was Marsing. We noticed a car wash with an "RV Bay" and pulled in quickly, no line. It was time to wash off all that Gerber red dust plus the Steens, Birch Creek Ranch and Leslie Gulch gray dust. After $7.50 worth of quarters you had to look pretty hard to see that we had spent so many miles on gravel. Both Gwen and I were pretty wet but, hey, this turned out to be a 97 degree day so we dried quickly.

Will our flat tire experience stop us from traveling the gravel roads? Nope, not if there is a Gerber, Steens, Birch Creek Ranch, or Leslie Gulch adventure at the other end.

Washing off the eastern Oregon dust

Is this boondocking?
Wednesday, July 15, 2009: Does this look like boondocking to you? We are parked in the Boise Meridian RV Resort, advertised as "Southwestern Idaho's Finest RV Resort". With our Escapee's discount the nightly fee is only $28.42 so a fair price. If you've been following this Webpage long, you know this is NOT our favorite way to "camp". You can see we are crammed between other RVs and parked on gravel. But, their 50 amps of power is rock-solid at 120 volts. We can actually run the air conditioning (which we need badly at 97 degrees outside) and the vacuum at-the-same-time. It's the same experience the Oregon Trail pioneers must have had when they arrived in Oregon and water came from a pump rather than a creek. Also they served a great breakfast this morning for only $4. We haven't had a chance to try their hot tub or swimming pool yet. I have a long to-do list of small repairs (like replacing the large inverter) and cleaning before we leave (note: no more cow poop on the front of the trailer). Gwen did six loads of laundry this morning. Also we are within a half mile of a Winco grocery store (with Home Depot next door). This is a busy place with lots of RVs coming and going. You wouldn't know there was a recession here. Last night, we went to sleep listening to the sound of a hundred RV air conditioners surrounding us. A different sound from what we heard in the eastern Oregon Wilderness.
Ron's Burger evening at the Boise/Meridian RV Resort Thursday, July 16, 2009: We are still in Meridian, Idaho at the Boise Meridian RV Resort and visiting Gwen's son and grandkids. Tonight was "Homemade Hamburger's by Ron" at the resort for $6/person. The burger's, salad, chili, drinks and desert were excellent. Good job Ron (the manager of the resort). The photo was taken with Dave's (Gwen's son) iPhone since I forgot my camera. Jake (Gwen's grandson) took the photo. Good job, Jake.
Saturday, July 18, 2009: We have arrived at one of the three reservoirs in Hells Canyon on the border between Oregon and Idaho. The Idaho Power Company maintains all three dams for generating power. We were here several years ago with our first travel trailer and stayed in the Copperfield RV park (also maintained by Idaho Power). At that time it was $10/night for water, power, table, fire pit Oxbow Dam, Oregon
Copperfield RV Park and rest rooms. Now it has increased to $16/night. We chose to stay here this night while we look for a free parking space. We have been using the "Days End" directory provided by the Escapees RV Club which describes a great deal of free parking in the area. We were not successful in finding some place cooler but he 30 amps of power will run our air conditioning.

Two miles north of Copperfield RV Park

Sunday, July 19, 2009: We are parked within 15 feet of the west shore (Oregon) of Hells One lane tunnel to our new campsiteCanyon Reservoir. When you click the photo to enlarge, you will see Gwen in the shade of the tree to the left using her computer. Morgan is on the shore watching for jumping fish and Annie is sitting in the lounging chair. It IS warm, mid-90s but the shade is perfect and Morgan is always wet after chasing the jumping fish. Gwen and I also took a cooling dip in the reservoir. This is a private alcove provided free by Idaho Power. Our camping limit is 14 days.

To get to our new campsite, we had to travel through a one lane tunnel. There was plenty of room but it still made me nervous. Click the photo to enlarge.

Morgan watches for jumping fish Gwen reads or works on her computer
Monday, July 20, 2009: Morgan spends all day in/out of the water. She is especially facinated with the jumping fish. There are many of them and they aren't small. Gwen is usually reading or working on her computer. She is able to login to our network even outside the trailer. Annie is on the step, she's slowly getting use to the new area and also facinated with the water (but not a swimmer). I got the bicycles down today but decided it was too hot to ride, so my first ride will be tomorrow morning. You can click the photo on the right to enlarge.
Homestead School house Tuesday, July 21, 2009: On my first bike ride in the Hells Canyon area I went looking for Homestead. It's listed on signs and on the map as on our road, about 2 miles further down the canyon. This old school house was all I could find. It's a two room school house with no name on the outside but I'd guess it was the Homestead school at one time. Electricity was added as an "after-thought" (conduit is tacked to the walls and ceiling to run the power). It looks to be heated with two wood stoves, one for each room. Click to enlarge.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009: "Houston, We've got a problem". Yesterday, our Cummins Diesel stalled and the check-engine light came on. Today, we drove back to Halfway, Oregon to "The Shop" and asked Dale (the mechanic) to check it. "It's the lifter pump", he said. It drove just fine to "The Shop" driveway, then stalled again. This time it wouldn't restart. We need a tow
Front end lifted Dale couldn't fix it because the truck is still under warranty. We called AAA and Superior Towing from Baker City, Oregon towed us 53 miles to Powder River Motors (the Dodge dealer) in Baker City. We were hoping they'd have the part and could get us on the road quickly. As it turned out, the part is on backorder from Chrysler and won't likely be delivered until August 4. Yikes! It went from bad to worse, there were no rental cars in Baker City. The service manager, Josh, went out of his way to find us some transportation.
He found a rental car in Ontario, Oregon and sent one of his men to pick it up. It would be available the next morning. He then had someone drive us to a reasonable rate Bridge Street Inn in downtown Baker City. What a nice city this is. Everyone we met was very good to us including the motel desk clerk, Toni, who suggested Barley Brown's Brew Pub for dinner. They had outdoor seating so we could take Morgan. We had outstanding service and food. The motel was close enough to downtown, we were able to walk down Main Street. This is such a nice town, it would be worth spending several days here. We plan to return with our Escapees group in mid-August to tour the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. Dinner in Baker City
Breakfast at Baker Bistro

Thursday, July 23, 2009: What a nice morning. The motel had HBO and since we have no TV back at the trailer, we watched a couple of movies. We found the Baker Bistro with outdoor seating and a very good breakfast wrap which Gwen and I shared. Baker City seems to have their share of little coffee shops and eating location in the downtown area.

Josh came through with a nice little Chevy Cobalt. We were informed there would be "no charge" when we picked it up. That was a relief. The repair is under warranty but the car rental would have been substantial for the two weeks we will have to wait for the part. The Cobalt

has crank windows (I didn't know they still made crank windows). We also couldn't find the door lock switch until we realized there wasn't one, you must push and pull the door locks manually. We had to laugh about all that. We were grateful for the car and to be back on the road to our trailer parked 70 miles away Chevy Cobalt loaner
in Hells Canyon. I had brought my bike with the truck not knowing if we would make the distance to Halfway from Hells Canyon and there is no cell phone coverage in that area. Now I had to remove both wheels and seat post to fit the bike into the truck of the Cobalt. No problem. Once we returned to the trailer, Morgan has spent the entire afternoon in the lake.
Josh, service advisor at Rowder River Motors, returns our truck in working order Wednesday, August 5, 2009: Josh is the Service Advisor for Powder River Motors in Baker City. The missing fuel pump finally arrived and the truck is running fine again. Josh went out of his way to help us. There were no cars to loan or rent in Baker City so Josh sent a service man to Ontario, 60 miles away to retrieve a car for us at no charge. We kept the car for two weeks while waiting for the part to arrive. Once the warranty repair was complete, Josh had his service man wash the inside and outside of the truck. If you have to break down somewhere, hope that it is someplace like Baker City with great customer service.
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