We spent our fourth day boondocking in the same spot. No need to move, no reason to leave. We had read that the township allowed 72 hours of parking in that area and we were going to take full advantage of it. We spent the first half hour driving through town looking for place to throw out our trash. Sounds stupid right? That's because it is stupid. You'd never even consider that type of problem unless you've LIVED on the road. I swung into a gas station to fill up Shirley and eyeballed the trash can. Nope, bag is too big to fit in that hole. So there I stand minding my own business when another car pulls up. This dude in dreadlocks gets out of his car, grabs a full size trash bag, and SHOVES it into the container while chuckling a little bit to himself. I can only imagine it was from the weed he just smoked since that's all I could smell. He leaves and I'm looking at that trash can a little bit different. Yeah... it happened. Then we left.
Time to kill the rest of the afternoon. Off to the beach. It was just another day of wasting time and enjoying the small things in life.
That was it. That was the whole day. Tomorrow we say goodbye to our home and search for a new one. This was a hard spot to leave.
I'm a jack of all trades and master of none. Let me run you through a quick gamma of what I've done for work between the ages of 19-31 (shit I'm getting old)
Shirley's air filter is supposed to be red. Look up... not red. It's packed full of sand and gravel dust becasue I beat the snot out of this thing. The cold air intake on the jeep is the only non-stock part on the old girl. The whole reason I put it there was so I could clean it and re-use it on our journey.
I spent the next two hours going over our battle weary jeep making sure it checked out ok. It got a full chassis and suspension grease job in the process. The ball joints are a little sloppy... but good enough. It's also been having a problem with 0 oil pressure at start up after it's hot. No oil means metal on metal. That's how stuff goes boom in an engine. Turns out the oil pressure sending unit just needed to be pulled off and cleaned out. All is well. Yay.
Next on the list is the RV horn. I went to push it yesterday and got nothing. Huh? I pulled out an electric meter and went to work. The fuses checked out good and I could hear the solenoid ticking for the power supply. I popped open the front cowl and checked the leads. Nice clean 12 volt power was there. I ohmed out the air solenoid and it had a high resistance number. Guess I'll pull that off. You don't have to be a mechanical engineer to see that a swollen and cracked plastic thing isn't good. We'll have to get one ordered and re-installed. In the meantime I finally wired in the power mirror controls (the one that broke 2 months ago in Montana) and put my tools away. Enough of fix it McGyver for the day. We need to take poochy out for a stroll.
We capped off the night with a movie. Prior to our departure I went a little nuts at best buy on black Friday and bought a bunch of stuff we didn't need. One of those things was a projector that hooks up to damn near any USB cable. We strolled down the rows of vans and started inviting the neighbors over for a movie. (Did I mention tons of people sleep in cars and vans when they travel?) I'm kicking myself now for not taking a picture of it. It's 55° and there is a slight breeze. Us and our new found van friends were dressed up in jackets, hats, scarves, and blankets. Everybody showed up with their beverage of choice and we leaned back to watch the 1987 hit " The Untouchables" on the side of the RV. Life could be worse.
The day started out normal enough. Katie went to scoop the kitty litter from the side bay of Roo and her little monster Tibbs snuck out. He of course then dashed through a fence just out of arms reach. I grabbed a little folding latter from the storage bay and set it down next to the fence so I could jump it. What's this? A folded up $5 bill? Sweet. First time on the trip I've gotten lucky at the casino. I snatched fuzzball from the field and off we went towards our next stop.
An hour into the trip and I'm starting to stress out. You see, there was a sign when we first turned onto highway that said "Trucks and trailers longer than 30ft from kingpin to rear axle not advised". For those of you who aren't truck drivers it means this; not motorhome friendly. I'm able to find a spot to pull over and chill out for a second. There I meet a donkey.
The steam donkey above was built in 1903 and used up until the 30's. It's basically a portable power station for pulling logs off the mountain. Fire up the boiler and attach a belt to the piston driven wheel for whatever you want it to run. Some poor bastard was in charge of keeping the boiler full of steam without letting it turn into a shrapnel bomb. Back into roo and another hour down the road and we hit the coast again. It finally has cooled off and we can start looking for a place to call home for the night.
The dense fog off the ocean is hiding the town from view. Among other things Fort Bragg is home to Glass Beach. After years of dumping trash into the ocean the ocean had enough. It took all those busted bottles and turned them into smooth sea glass. Decades of tumbling and turning results in these spectacular little pebbles that cover the shoreline.
White, green, and brown are the typical colors of old glass.
Glass Beach is part of a state park. With that comes rules. You are not supposed to remove any of the glass from the beach. No more glass = no more tourists. Unfortunately nobody was paying attention to the rules, and nobody was there to enforce it. We saw half a dozen people out picking glass and filling their pockets. On one point of the beach there were three adults filling plastic bags with whatever they could find. Glass Beach currently averages about 1,200 tourist a day. Do the math on people taking some home and this is will quickly change their sign to "_____ Beach".
Now it's time to look for home. Katie pops open google maps and starts scrolling up and down the highway looking for places to park. This is where technology really pays off. We can see a spot in satellite view, then go to street view to read the signs. That search yielded a gravel pull off 10 miles up the road that apparently allows us to park overnight.
Yeah, this will do just fine.
It has happened again. It's hot outside and we need to pick our next location. In the California valley the temps have been rising to over 90° during the day. This requires us to either pony up the dough for an RV park or run the generator to stay cool during the hottest part of the day. Sure we could tough it out, but us and our animals would be miserable in a 94° RV that lasts for 8 hours. So the decision was made to pack up and roll out. Back across the mountains in order to take advantage of that cool coastal air.
The hour drive south through the valley was laden with orchards of varying fruits. Here you can see almond trees gracing the curbside. They span as far as the eye can see. Turning west towards the mountains changed the scenery once more. Olives were being grown and harvested throughout the region.
Now it starts to get interesting. It's hot. The sun was blistering at 92° and it was time for Roo to tackle the mountains. We've learned from our mistake in North Dakota about pushing the old girl too hard in the heat. The temp gauge starts to climb as we hit the first few grades. Nope. Not this time. Shirley gets unhooked and we take off for the hills again minus a 4,000 lb anchor.
You''ll notice the gauges don't have numbers on them. That's by design as Freightliner doesn't want people to freak from big numbers. Basically it goes like this: Usually at just over 1/4, 1/2 is OK, 3/4 means pull over or you will be paying a $1500 repair bill for a cracked exhaust manifold. After 30 tense miles of climbs and descents I call it quits. The heat hasn't backed off and it's already 3 o'clock. There is still 80 miles to cover to get to the ocean. We pull off at a Casino and call it a day. This will be boondocking night #1.
An unknown wilderness. Jagged rocks prod up through the soil from the earths core with little regard to the humans who wish to traverse it. At 8,000 ft in elevation the Bumpass Hell trail is not something to be toyed with. Altitude sickness can set in for those not acclimated rendering victims fraught with headaches, nausea, and sleeplessness. This is the elevation when symptoms start to appear and things only get worse from there.
Bumpass Hell trail takes you merely 3/4 of a mile from the road to introduce you to the roiling sulfuric mud on the volcano's crust. The name of the trail; lent from the man who first traversed it with hopes of commercialization. He perilously walked over the weak surface in search of a site to mine when his leg fell through the crust. Below him was a boiling pit of mud infused with acidic sulfur gas at a staggering temperature of 230°. His leg was severely burned, and eaten partially away by the acid. He survived with the amputation of his leg.
Steam wafting from "Big Boiler" has been recorded at a world record of 322°.
Bubbling pools of mud remind visitors today that the earth remains a powerful force. An active volcano lies in this range.... waiting to open up once more.
A drop in elevation on the way out yields one more surprise being held by the sleeping beast. Cold Boiling Lake is merely another 3/4 of a mile from the road. Here the water is normal temperature. However the bubbles of sulfur permeating their way to the surface gives way to the illusion of a pot on the boil. What will be next? When will nature decide to restructure the surface of the earth once more?
A day of monotony. All we did was pick up home and move it down the road. We spent an hour packing up at Whiskeytown and dumped the tanks. We cruised down the road to Redding CA and stopped at best buy to look at some laptops. I'm currently writing this blog on an HP with windows 10 and absolutely hate it. It's such a pain in the ass to pull pictures from my phone and get them on here. Unbeknownst to me this only came with a trial version of word, so I don't even have a typing program. Not even a notepad. That translates to me only being able to update this when it's hooked up to WIFI and I upload to the server distributing the site. I found a kid at best buy and told him I just wanted something simple to blog with. The dingbat couldn't answer my simple questions, referring to his iphone and google to look them up as I was standing there. Thanks Jerome, I can do that myself. He did try to up-sell me to a $1,600 Macbook because of how awesome they are. Did you not listen to me? I just wanted something super simple that can upload pictures and type a blog. That's it. I'll research it myself.
We dropped another 60 miles south and ended up at the Red Bluff Recreation area. This state park allows dry camping for $16 a night. The only hitch is that you have to reserve it online, which incurs another $10 transaction fee. So instead of paying $42 bucks to sleep with no hookups in a park we opted for an RV park in town. $72 dollars later and we spent two days with full hookups. That allowed us to go see some volcanoes. Sweet. I'll add those next in day 89.
Roused from our slumber in the parking lot at Whiskeytown recreation area we packed up for the days adventure. Down the road lay Shasta dam. This is the second largest dam in the US. Now I know what you're thinking, Hoover is #1. Well that would make you stupid. I'm stupid... I thought so too. It turns out that dam size is figured out by concrete volume. Look at the picture above and wrap your little bird brain around this. The dam is 602 feet tall and is 3,460 feet long, with a maximum thickness of 543 feet; altogether the dam contains 6,270,000 cubic yards of concrete. Built bewtween 1937 and 1945 this bad boy had people working around the clock to lay concrete to build it. Luckily for us this place offers free tours. That's awesome... because we are cheap.
The tour was exactly what we had hoped. They took us inside the dam to display the giant hydro electric generators that were spinning with a harmonious noise. Apparently still pictures are fine... but recording videos is a no-no. If you listen close to the end of the movie you'll hear the lady ask me to turn it off.
I love this stuff. The engineering and hard work that went into making these dreams reality is riveting. There are two, yes two, 125 ton cranes built into the walls. These generators were meant to run forever and they put the parts in place to make sure that happened.
The concrete here is still curing. They project that it will be fully hardened by 2045. After that the lifespan clock starts to tick. With this amazing tour out of the way it was time for us to move on. Back towards Redding we went and there was one more stop before getting back to the RV. Sometimes you see stuff you don't expect while you drive. Like a truck packed full of wood with no straps.
So back to our trip. There is a cantilever sundial bridge leaning over the Sacramento river that begs to be seen.
The sundial bridge was cool. However the price tag was not. Wait for it... 23.5 million dollars. There's a lot more things the city could have done with that money. I'd suggest get all the homeless bums off the streets.
With the day wrapped up we finally headed home. It was late in the afternoon and we still needed to get Eli out for a stretch. We found a quick 5 mile trail and took the old boy for a walk.
The walk turned out to be more than I bargained for. Katie got it in her head that she should dig the seeds out of a pine cone and grow some trees. This is my life. This is what I deal with.
Day 86 was the type of thing that I have been looking forward to for a very long time. I had picked a point on our local map of Whiskeytown and convinced Katie it would be a good idea to drive there. Little did she know that meant driving the Jeep up to an elevation of 6,200 ft via a 4wd only access route. A twisted hard packed dirt road covered in either loose sand or stones. It's the type of road that you wouldn't want to traverse if you have never played around on some backroads. For those of you out there who ever slung their car sideways through the gravel 4 way stops, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. The pictures and videos don't do the hill justice. It was a legitimately steep climb that I would of have been nervous of doing in a full size truck.
The climb to the top yielded a fantastic view of the valley. California's most fertile land producing food for all of america lays between the mountain ranges.
The declining 6 miles back to gravel roads took an hour. Shirley clawed her way down in 4wd with the tranny set in first. The brakes still needed to be used quite a bit in order to prevent us from careening off the mountainside. Following the road trip we decided to cap it off with a kayak ride through around the shore line of the lake.
Not a bad way to wind up the anxiety of the afternoon. Water is a calming body that always relaxes down your soul when th need calls for it.
Let's go full fledged PG-13 today. I'll keep it short of R, but it's gonna be close. Today we rolled out of Bear River casino and headed east through the cavernous hills of Northern California. Up and down, up and down. That was the mantra of the day. Roo was working her ass off pulling all 15 tons up an 8% grade for 4 miles at a time. The little 5.9 cummins that could pulled us up in third gear. The tach stayed right at 2,500 rpm and we were rolling full boost at 40 mph. The hills were pushing us and our convoy to the max. Semi drivers were getting pissed at us holding up the line through 299 westbound. I gratuitously flipped them the bird as their horns blared during brief periods of passing lanes.
The miles clicked by until we came to a standstill. Traffic relented to show us a wildfire that had just ravished the area. Burnt cars and cabins abound revealed the devastating forces of nature that humans are constantly in battle with. Remember this my friends, nature is the all powerful force that controls all. Recent demonstrations of hurricanes and earthquakes have showed this relevant to other parts of the world. Take heed... we may be next.
After five hours of white knuckle driving we ended up at Whiskey Town Recreation area just outside of Redding CA. This giant park was gracious enough to let us park in the boat launch parking area for a mere $23 a night. What a steal. I love paying to park in a parking lot with no amenities. The upside however is a chance for us to bust out the kayaks and finally use them in the continental states once again. We haven't had them off Shirley since we came back from Alaska. In the meantime I secured a gold panning permit for $1 and headed into the hills in search of gold.
Nothing, nada, bupkiss, skunked, slyed, empty-handed, ok that's all I got. Maybe tomorrow. In the meantime I'll remain happy I got to drive Shirley up and down the washboard gravel roads.
Here's a typical morning getting ready for the road. Where are we? Where do we want to go? What's the weather like when we get there? Today's decision was a big one. It was either follow the coast line all the way down to San Fransisco and miss the Lassen Volcanic National Park or head back east across the mountains. We opted for the latter. The next couple of weeks will be spent in the forests rather than on the coast. Before making that turn though we dropped south to Loleta, CA. Bear River casino gave us a free place to park. That meant Shirley could be unhooked and we dropped further south to tour the Avenue of the Giants.
The towering redwoods were 12ft across, 250ft high, and cresting 2,000 years old. It was an awe inspiring thing to see in person. Our drive down the avenue graced us with another surprise. Gravel sandbars off the highway open to vehicle use. A chance to drive in loose river gravel you say? Absolutely.
The video doesn't fully show the awesomeness of what is happening here. Our faithful TOAD (RV towed vehicle) is more than just a jeep to us. She's 19 years old and has 147k miles on the clock. We are 2,300 miles from home and at least 30 miles to the closest town. A breakdown here would be a nightmare. No friends, no tools, no tow strap. These are the things that run through my mind as it wades through 6 inches of loose gravel.
With the trip completed we end up back home for the night. What will we do tomorrow? Guess we'll see...
It was the last day for our old folks to be with us and we wanted to go out with a bang. We unhooked Shirley and followed them north towards Eugene for an hour or so. On the way we went past the Mystic forest. Here stands Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox.
We capped the day off at the beach in Tolowa State Park. After two hours of watching the waves crash we parted ways and said our goodbyes. They went north, and we went south. It'll be another few months until I get to hang out with my dad again.
Shortly after our departure we spotted a giant billboard that was falling apart. Billboard? Probably an old drive-in movie screen. We should check it out.
This would be an awesome place for an RV park... or a campground.
After the hour drive back to home we still had time to kill in the afternoon. Just south of us lay Fern Canyon. This was the sight for some of the scenes from Jurassic Park. Hell yes. The ten mile road in was a wet slippery clay that was squeezed by the redwoods. The views didn't disappoint and we traversed through the canyon peering up at it's 50 ft fern covered walls.
The rain came in and we had to get off the beach earlier than we wanted too. However it absolutely had it's upsides.
So here we sit. Down the end of a hard packed dirt road covered in ferns that came straight out of Jurassic Park. It's raining and getting dark. The puddles are filling up with water and some are up to a foot deep, and as wide as the road. I'm giddy like a child with a new toy. I make Katie wait in the rain for 20 minutes before we start our escape. Finally... we get to drive down the dinosaur road and bash through water in the Jeep for 10 miles. This is going to be awesome.
My my how time flies when there are guests in the house. Planning for two becomes taking care of four. Suddenly Katie and I find ourselves orchestrating the movements of 4 people to delve through two states and multiple sites to see over the course of 4 days.
As I mentioned in a previous post my dad and his bride (step-mom) flew out to Eugene Oregon this week to meet up with us. From there it was up to us to shuffle them through the state on a whirlwind tour that would end up in the Redwoods. Day 80 was spent deep cleaning the RV to rid Roo of 3 months of cat hair stuck in crevices. I detailed the outside and worked on going through all the fluids on both tow rig and tow jeep to make sure we were ready to go on our next leg of the journey. The two old fogeys showed up late in the day and we were already settled at an RV park in Creswell Oregon. The next day was us pointing the choo choo train southeast on the way to Crater Lake National Park. We arrived around noon and found that the temperature had plummeted due to the elevation. Thick fog and ice started to encompass us. Unfortunately that meant that we couldn't see more than a 100 feet, and crater lake will remain a mystery until our return later in life. So now what? The plan was to stay outside the park and hike for a few hours then grab a night's sleep outside it's canyon walls. Weather be damned we took off southwest towards our final destination of the Redwoods.
n the way we passed lava fields and natural caverns. The old man was riding shotgun in the RV and spotted the river flowing through an old lava tube on the side of the road. I hustled my feet over the brake pedal in order to slow the 15 ton rig down in time to see it. Wet roads and loose gravel was enough for the front wheels to lock up just as we were about to stop. PHEW! That was close.
Lava tubes behind us we still needed to find a place to sleep for the night. The caravan of RV and chase car got lost in the backroads north of Medford. Things were straightened out and we headed to Wal-Mart. The old trusty stand by of places to park when you are in need. Unfortunately we pulled in and this one was already packed. A half a dozen shitty looking RV's were in the back lot and homeless people were camped out under the bushes. Time to go. We'll find something else. Thirty minutes down the road we happened upon a state park and ponied up the $33 for a place to stay for the night.
Morning broke and we were in driving distance of our final resting place. Through the canyons we went and this time Katie was back riding co-pilot with me. We stumbled through the town of Kerbysville and past a gift store called It's A Burl. Looks cool. We should check it out.
Around noon we rolled into the Riverside RV park and got the rig set up for the next two days. With the afternoon free it was finally time to do some exploring. Just a few miles down the road lay a trail with giants. Towering redwoods in an old growth forest in Northern California is what we came for.
Although busy and moving quick we still made time to see what we came to see. That's the whole point of this anyways. Stop and see the sights, absorb the culture, and fill our lives with memories of our travels.
Looking for a place to walk the dog is always on our mind. Eli needs a little space to run off the leash in order to stay in shape. In the small town of Creswell there are no parks outside the city limits. Everything within walking distance was crowded and full of noise. A quick check of the map showed a cemetary on the outskirts. We drove to it and leashed up the black boy for a trot. Breezing through the cemetary yielded some old headstones with beautiful carvings and architecture. This place was old and not well cared for. The grass was long and dead. The headstones were unkempt and covered in moss.
Broken headstones were encased in concrete. This was the oldest one that we saw that day.
We were respectful and treated the place as such. Towards the back of the land of the dead was the open space reserved for new arrivals. Eli was unhooked and off he went. Turkeys flew over the fence and the deer sprinted in all directions. A few minutes and it was out of his system. Time to go home and clean. Then we cleaned, and cleaned, and cleaned.
Have you ever hand polished aluminum rims in a mall parking lot? I'm a trend setter. It has to start somewhere and it might as well be with me. Now Roo has a polished look that brings this house on wheels up a notch. I had all this time because Katie and I had a... well... how can I say... we were pissed at each other. Look it happens. You try spending 24/7 with someone in a 40ft box and not have a problem. Life moves on and so did we. After the rim polishing we talked it over and headed out for a ride down the Willamette River trail.
I'm not a big fan of the West coast culture so far. I love the scenery. I love the climate. I could pass on the liberal atmosphere of the cities. With a conservative mindset I view things from a different perspective than the local folk. Then there are the suprises that show up. An unexpected garden of roses planted by the city to make people smile. This is the liberal side of the spectrum I adore.
The Owen Rose Gardens are a sweet smell of relief in a world where people concentrate on careers, kids, and life in general. That old saying, "stop and smell the roses", has never been put to such a practical uses. Absolutely splendid.
Oregon showed us what we needed that day. A sight of relief to ease the tension between us. Now we just hoped that the night be as nice as the afternoon.
I'm tired. I didn't sleep well the other night. Friday night at the mall parking lot was not a good idea in hindsight. Apparently their is a train station across the river and it is obligatory to honk their horns for an hour straight in the middle of the night. I'm not talking a quick honk and then a 10 minute wait. Oh no, I'm talking every 30 seconds a train has to let the town know that it traveled 50 ft.. FOR AN HOUR.
This morning we needed to start our preparations for the days coming up. My old man and step-mom will be here Sunday afternoon to spend some time with us. They bought the plane tickets and we'll supply the place to sleep for four days. Katie went off to do the supply shopping and I volunteered to take the dog for a walk. While she was gone Eli and I hammered out 4.3 miles along the river trail through Eugene. This beautiful walk/bike trail flanks the Willamette River. Our hour long walk took us past houses and homeless. Look, I've learned my lesson about talking poorly in regards to our people on the streets. Regardless of that the fact remains every 5 minutes of my walk today their was a homeless person along the path. The west coast has a problem and it needs to be addressed. Between the people I spotted some nice graffiti.
The rest of the day was quite uneventful. It was time to saddle up the old motor home and roll 15 miles south to our next RV park. It's been 5 days since we had hookups and the vitals are showing it. Full waste tanks, low on water, and batteries nearly dead. After our setup we started to clean. This was probably the most thorough cleaning we have done to date on the old girl during our trip.
Time to continue our tour south. The weather is dropping to a chill and the leaves are just starting to turn here in Oregon. We depart from our plane parking lot without a plan on where we are going. I set the GPS for a park in Salem. Something that is always on my mind is where will this big beast fit without having to back it up for an escape. The park is crowded and the drive in and out were a real pain in the ass. Low slung trees scraped along the top and sides of ROO. A quick walk with the dog so he can do his business is all the time we stick around for. Off to see the capitol building. Why? Because it's free, that's why. The building is all drab gray marble with little to look at on the outside. The front is adorned with some sculpture work to break up the monotony of it all.
Stepping inside changes the feel even more. Pink marble has been used throughout the facility and is complemented by salmon colored walls and fixtures. It's not particularly pleasant to look at. The walls are quite sparse which only add to the odd feeling of this place. A door closes in the background. The echo fills the halls for a few moments. At least this place sounds official.
There wasn't much else worth looking at in Salem for us. Back into the wheeled house to head further south. Another hour clicks by until we hit the outskirts of Eugene. We detour into the local camping world to dump our tanks and check out some RV's. After dodging the salesmen we scoped out the lot and poked our heads into a few rigs just out of curiosity. It's weird this time around. The last time we did this was to find our home for a year. Now we look at other designs and say "yeah that would work, or no this is terrible". With window shopping complete we return to our RV in the parking lot. This big girl feels different than the rest. It feels like home.
On the road again for the last stop of the day. This time the GPS takes us to a huge piece of asphalt. The River Valley Center mall allows RV's to park in the lot for 48 hours. It is a well run operation with some good rules.
The day had nearly faded away and we needed some time apart. Katie went into the mall to watch the new-old horror flick IT. I hate horror movies. Yeah, I said it. This 31 year old man doesn't like scary movies. So I didn't go. My time was much better spent outside in the parking lot. I grabbed a rag and a bottle of spray detailer and went to work wiping down the RV. After that I busted out the metal polish and started on something I've wanted to do for a long time. Polish the wheels on this beast.
To the average person this is dumb. I'm not average. I'm a car guy. A complete gear head who spends his free time working on the RV and I had finally caught up on the maintenance repairs. Now it's time to make it look as good as it runs.
Those massive 22.5 inch semi wheels are not easy to polish by hand. It took me 20 minutes just to do the first one. The other front should be easy to finish. The back ones... those are going to suck.
Well all these broken RV amenities are starting to add up quickly. The leaking grey tank is a big deal to me. Technically it's sewage. What the grey tank really holds is our sink water and shower drippings. A quick look around shows me that this won't be an easy thing to get too. The broken piece is sandwiched between layers of RV and is not something that will just come out for a repair. We pulled into the back of a Lowe's parking lot and I got to work trying to keep this as low key as possible.
This black panel needs to come out of the water hook up bay in order to access the grey tank. Trouble is they had it in there before completing the outside of the RV. Some stuff is going to get bent.
So there it is. A fitting cracked right in half on the tank. The only way to fix it properly would be to tear out the bathroom sink, cut a hole in the floor, and work on it from the top. Either that or the tank would need to be removed. So it's time for mcgyver to show up and patch this baby back together. I cleaned the fitting and pulled the tank down to open the crack up to about 1/8 of an inch. Then ABS plastic cement was put on all the way around. I had already cut a support pipe to go under that corner for the re-assembly process. This pipe was wedged under the tank to hold it up and prevent the crack from seperating in the future.
Ok. Next on the list is the hydraulic jacks. The pump assembly was lowered and I pulled the top plate off the electric motor. The windings were full of rust and sand. Out came the air hose and a quick blast to get the crap out.
We'll see how long it lasts before the motor gives up completely. So far so good.
Repairs complete it was time to head back to the aviation museum for another shot at entry. Arriving at 4pm is less than ideal as the museum closes at 5pm. Turns out the tickets are reduced from $27 a piece all the way down to $5. Sweet.
The Spruce Goose. A 320ft wide plane with 8 Rolls Royce engines making 3,000 hp a piece. It was made out entirely out of wood and remains to be the largest aircraft ever built. It's only flight was in 1947 just to prove that it could lift off. Amazing.
Parking outside the museum for another night we capped off the day's work with a bike ride through planes and helicopters staged outside. Not a bad way to wrap it all up.
So on day 74 I talked shit about Portland and it's people. On day 75 Karma decided to teach me a lesson. Let's start from the beginning and watch the story unfold through the days events. Now keep in mind that these things aren't life changing and don't tell that an elaborate story. It's more of an example about how being a jerk can come back to haunt you.
We get up a little light from Aurora Acres RV park and prep to hit the road. The plan for the day is... oh crap. We didn't make one. Well we had to be out by noon. I started to pack up and notice the grey tank is leaking water. No time to investigate now. I had the GPS set for south and we put on a hundred miles or so. During the packing routine that morning I had found a place to park on www.freecampsites.net. There's an aviation museum that let's people park overnight for fee. Roo swung off the interstate in McMinnvile , WA to stop for Wal-Mart supplies. Shopping completed we strolled over to ROO and i unlocked the door. Then it hit me. "That's strange." as I contemplated to myself. "Not locked. Guess I'll check the bottom lock" As I fumbled through my key chain consisting of three keys, it hits me. "OH SHIT. I don't have a key for that lock". We spent the next hour in the parking lot with our shopping cart waiting for a locksmith. It's 87° outside and my beautiful wife was not amused. In my head i hear karma laughing her ass off. "You deserved that you jerk" she snickers at me. Yep, I sure did.
Arriving at the museum late cost us the chance to see it. It was on my list of things to do. Inside resides amazing pieces of aviation history. There is a A-10 warthog, the SR-71 blackbird, V2 rockets, and the spruce goose. THE FRICKING SPRUCE GOOSE IS HERE. Now it has to wait until tomorrow. Getting the RV set up takes me through the usual motions. Except this time the hydraulic jacks won't go down. Great. Just great. Guess I had to deal with that for opening my mouth.
Dear homeless people: I'd like to apologize for the inconsiderate things I said about you on the internet. I was a jerk that was in a bad mood who failed to control his emotions. To you I owe my deepest apology and wish to say out loud to the world; I'm sorry.
So I'm gonna preface this post with a warning. So far I've made an attempt to keep this PG-13 for the most part. Today however we go rated R. If you are easily offended please skip this post because there will be f-bombs and graphic comparisons for the day. Portland and other RV related events have brought out the worst in me.
Son of a bitchin-mother-fuckin cocksucker downtown Portland is a dirty place. It's cool and all with it's "eclectic" setup but there are homeless people everywhere. Homeless people are gross, dirty, pieces of shit who make a choice to live on the streets instead of get help. Go ahead and tell me they are just people who fell down a broken road. I'll ignore you and embrace the fact that people that are homeless can get help if they really wanted it. I will say that during our walk today nobody bothered us. No-one asked for money, nobody was crazy to the point of worry.
In the middle of this water fountain you will see a man. We watched this homeless guy walk off a bench and straight into the center of the fountain for a bath. People were pulling their children out of the water and within moments only the homeless man was left in the center. It's sad and depressing that this is the way humanity has evolved. Then homeless Joe walks out and people slowly come back with their kids. You know he feels that pain. You know he notices what's going on. But then what does he do? Probably pan-handles for money to buy some meth. He made a decision. That's his problem.
We stroll up the park and look down at the Columbia river. This busy causeway is full of barge traffic and the jet skis were a surprise. This industrial river is also used for recreations. Weird combo.
A sharp turn left and we head back into downtown Portland. I wanted to go visit Voodoo Donut. This place is famous for it's crazy donuts and it's a must see stop for tourist. I got the dirt donut and Katie scrounged down the Portland Cream .
So we're sitting outside this place and there is some dirty black homeless guy strumming the banjo. Let's call him Leo. Next to him is a tweaked out white girl playing the violin. Her name will be Laura. Halfway into our donuts we notice a homeless Bob in a wheelchair show up with a sign asking for money. Then cowboy Tom comes over and starts hugging these guys talking about how he's seen them and never said hi. Seriously, literally, this is in a 30 second time frame. Want to top that off? Crazy fucking Jeff shows up with a shopping cart and starts some shit with wheelchair Bob. We are sitting down trying to chill out and Jeff loses his shit. He starts screaming at wheelchair Bob, " STOP EYEBALL FUCKING ME!" They start yelling at each other and then Jesus shows up to help Bob. Wheelchair Bob springs up from his seat and walks up to screaming Jeff. The banter goes back and forth for a minute and wheelchair bob decides to leave.
We finish our donuts and I roll up a dollar into my hand. I walk over to Leo and give him a buck. I respect this guy. He's trying to do something. He's making an effort to survive. I give him a dollar and say "Thanks for the tunes bro". He slowly peers back at me, as if in a trance, and says "Thanks a lot man. I appreciate it". We walk on.
Traffic is backed up and it's a two hour drive home. That doesn't sound like a big deal, but it's only 21 miles to the RV park. Fuck it. Time for a beer.
Throughout the whole day I'm thinking of other things that have been pissing me the fuck off. Our gray tank is leaking at the shower connection and the jacks still aren't working the way they should be. Fuck my life. I gotta work on this piece of monkey shit in a parking lot tomorrow without being kicked out. FUCK.
This is how my day started out. Typically working on an RV at a RV park is frowned upon. So I started a stealth repair in the luggage bay. A little JB weld goes a long way when it comes to fixing stuff. The pin that came out of the door latch yesterday was hammered back into it's hole with a little helping hand from this epoxy to keep it in place.
We've been doing laundry since we parked yesterday. Our little washer/dryer takes about 2 hours for a full cycle and only holds about 1/2 of a load when compared to a large front loader. The only thing sitting in the way was an 18 lb cat (that's not a typo).
Morning chores aside it was time for today's adventure. Out in the wilderness lies Ape cave. This old lava tube made from a basalt flow 2,000 years ago is open to the public to explore. At 2.5 miles long and a balmy 42°, we tiptoed our way into the unknown.
Walking through the tube was a wondrous trip that was also a little reminiscent. Ten years ago I came out to Washington state with my old man and we walked this same path today. My old man isn't perfect, but I will say he has always taken us out to do cool shit. Now I'm doing these things with the love of my life and couldn't be happier about our decision to leave it all and live it up.
The hike was long and the rock formations were unforgiving. Huge boulder piles blocked half of the tube and required us to traverse over them in order to forge forward. The expansiveness is hard to capture on camera. Some points of the tube were 40 feet tall and 50 feet wide. Another part was so small that I crawled on my hand and knees to get to a dead end. Tube accomplished we pointed shirley towards the next attraction down the road. Lava canyon lay ahead and had a surprise for us.
A suspension bridge straddled the canyon walls and was about 150 feet from the deck. It was built to mimic a rope bridge and it did that very well. The entire bridge moved and swayed as you walked. It was one of those things that you think is no big deal until you are in the middle of the bridge looking through the treads.
Tomorrow we bomb down to Portland in search of culture. I guess we'll see what turns up.
Katie was cranking together breakfast this morning and her tablet holder broke. No big deal. Stuff happens. We were making coffee and I check the battery level. Empty already?
What you see above is a picture of our electricity life-force. The two batteries above are for the engine only. The four below are our house batteries. These provide the electricity we need while being on the road away from it all. Before we get started let me answer one question for the keen observer. Yes, those are ratchet straps. Yes they are holding the batteries in place. When I upgraded from 12 volt batteries to true 6 volt deep cycle batteries. I bought the biggest ones I could find and hence the battery tie downs were too short. We rushed to get on the road so ratchet straps will do.
Anyways, we have been starting to have an issue with our batteries only lasting 3 days. They should last 4-5 if we take it easy. The water levels had dropped and they needed to be refilled. So the tops were cleaned and distilled water added. Then back on the road,or not. Katie brought me a door handle for one of the luggage bays which had came off. The metal pin had worn itself loose and came out of it's mount. Awesome.
Door be damned we headed to our RV park for the night in the little town of Cougar WA. The RV was parked and set up started. I hooked up the sewer and pulled the handle for the grey water tank to drain. It broke. Then I went inside to level the RV. The jacks wouldn't go down. When I hit the rear down button all we heard was an extremely loud grinding noise coming from the back of the RV. Something with the pump system went haywire. This is a bigger deal than it sounds like. Without the RV level the fridge doesn't work. So I did what any man would do. I hit it with a hammer. With the pump system fixed the jacks were dropped and we left town for St Helens.
We were heading towards St. Helens today to see the north face from the Windy Ridge viewpoint. This would provide us with a better view of the tree blow down that occured in 1980. After 2 and a half hours of driving we arrived at Summit Lake.
We left the mountain and started the 2 hour drive back home. Halfway there the Check engine light for the jeep came on. It still runs ok, but yellow lights on the dash are never good. Arriving home we just wanted to eat dinner, sit down, and watch some TV. The Wifi doesn't work on the TV to stream shows. Forget it.
Day 70 & 71
Day 70 did not have a lot going on. I think I only took two pictures all day with this being one of them. We were hanging out at a parking lot by Wal-Mart when Katie decided it was time to do some stretches. This is what I have to deal with on the road. My wife stretching over the dash in the middle of a parking lot just because.
Our trip for the day ended up with a new experience. Before heading out on our adventure I signed up with an internet forum for RV boondockers. We tried that out for the first time on day 70 and ended up at Kevin & Julie's house. They were gracious hosts and welcomed us onto their personal property with open arms. It's people like this that restore my faith in humanity. Upon our arrival we were greeted with water, sewer, electric and full fledged use of the garden hose. The RV got a badly needed bath and I couldn't be happier. These folks even went so far as to give us some fresh picked blackberries and sweet corn from their garden. All of this from complete strangers who just wanted to help in any way they could.
The rest of the night was spent in the confines of the RV with the gracious use of their WIFI and some much needed catching up on the news. We picked up some local variety brew and gave it a shot. Not great, but not bad.
Fast forward to day 71 and we took off for Mt. St. Helens and the Johnston observatory. The views were stunning as we barraged through the thicket of pines and mud slides.
The observatory was a quick visit and we spent more time driving through the hillside then doing anything else that day. This side of St. Helens does't yield the true visual impact of the cataclysmic blast from 1980. It was late in the day and we still needed to find a place to park the rig for some shut eye. A quick search yielded a casino about 40 miles down the road. We have had good luck with casinos thus far. Ilani gaming resort gave us a big place to park and the Earth, Wind, Fire cover band entertainment was no cover charge. The band was actually a let down. They sounded good sure, but it wasn't the 70's cover style we were hoping for. It was a bluesy take on funky town which took away fromthe novelty of the songs.
Day 72 is already in the works. Today we head back to the northeast in search of the Mt. St. Helens blow down forest. Breakfast just arrived at the table.... I gotta go.
Out and on the road once again. This is the mantra we follow in our life of travel and mystery. Pointing south we roll out of the campground and head down the coast of Washington state. A thick fog encompasses the area and objects disappear into the distance behind us. The goal for the day is to make it 70 miles to Aberdeen WA for a overnight stay at the trusty Wal-Mart. More often than not our intent is to find a free place to stay that has some interest but we always plan a back up. Fruitless google searches and scouring of our parking apps yield nothing but this lonesome stop on our travel path. Our eyes peeled, the thick Olympic Forests encompass the roads. So dense they are as one cannot see more than a few feet threw it's greenery.
We hit Ocean City on the way down and saw a sign pointing towards the beach. With the rig pulled over we set out on a quick walk about. What's this? You can drive your car on the beach? Shirley was unhooked and off we went. Barreling through loose ocean sand for 4 miles.
This led us to the North Jetty. A rocky outpost built to break waves for the harbor. Even on this calm day the waves were still rolling in.
With play time over and ocean shores seen it was time to find home for the night.
Showing up to Aberdeen around 1700 we found the Wal-Mart to be packed solid. The town was rundown and there were homeless people sleeping under the railroad bridge right next to the parking lot. Time to move on. Another 20 miles down the road lay the Elma rest area. That'll do for the night.
Morning lazily rolls in and I get up for my 8 o'clock coffee. It's cold out. Thermometer says 62° outside. That's not including the ocean breeze that's blowing through the windows and covering the floor in a cool damp blanket. The morning is spent hypothesizing ideas on what to do with life. We've got X number of dollars put away and the realization is starting to set in that we may be wasting a great opportunity. Our conversations on the road have changed from "what are we gonna do next" to "when should we stop and buy a house". Sure this is a fun lifestyle. However, what could we do with X dollars in the bank right now to set up our future? Tons of stuff. So there in lies the question of content. Do we live the dream and travel all year, or do we cut it short 6 months and return back to reality? I vote the latter. With the money we have and the building skills we possess there is a very real opportunity to flip another house and make some more money. Perhaps even to the point where that becomes our lives. Buy, fix, flip, travel. Repeat.
These scenarios are going through my head like a game of PONG along our walk to the tree cave. Just 4.25 miles up the ocean was this random natural wonder of Washington.
Mission accomplished means it's time to turn around. Another 4.25 miles back the opposite direction towards home. The cold mist hasn't faded and the tide is rolling in. Temperatures remain at 65° on the shore even though it's noon.
Eli has been doing pretty good. He hammered out the 8 1/2 mile walk with us like a champ. We're hoping his mutt bloodline holds his body together better than most purebreds. At 7 years old most labs and German Shepherds start seeing hip problems. Not our homeboy. Just another walk for him.
We got back to the RV around 1400 and Katie made lunch. I on the other hand decided it was time for a bit of day drinking. Now, before you pass judgement on me let me make something clear. I don't care what you think. That being said a glass of whiskey on ice sounds delicious right now. Maybe even a nap.....
Holy smokes it's 10am. That's the feeling I had this morning as I gazed around the RV. Our three night stay is up at the park and we've gotta roll out by noon. Everything has been set out for the weekend and needs to be put back away. Imagine everything in your house that isn't glued down or bungee corded to the walls for a minute. Now every one of those things needs to be put away into its place before heading out or you find cat food two weeks later and wonder; how did that get there? Next is to disconnect water, power, sewer, and cable. Then pull the slide in, release the jacks, check all the drawers, check for cats, hook up the jeep and point the 70ft rig in a direction that doesn't kill anyone. Phew... out by 1130. Today we head down the road with absolutely no idea where we are going to sleep. Thirty seven miles later and we land here at the south beach campground. What is it? Let's go check it out.
It's pretty simple. Find a spot without a camper and park your junk. It's $7.50 a night a for no hookups. It's just a place to park.
I looked over at Katie when we rolled in. " You wanna stay here?" "How about two nights" was her reply.
Only an hour after we set out for the day and we already found home. It's never this easy. The temperatures are warming up and it's close to 90° two miles inland. Get to the beach and that number drops 10-15°. This means we won't be hot tonight. Nice.
To cap things off we went for a quick 4 mile walk down the beach with the dog. The ocean greeted us with gray whales swimming along the coast. Those big guys were just a little to hard to get with my phone camera. So here's a crab.