About Us

Chris and Dennis are traveling around the country seeing the sights and occasionally volunteering at select locations. We avoid the interstate as much as we can and tend to stop for squirrels and shiny objects.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Vagaries and Varieties of America


BerkyAnd our tourism continues. For you grammarians out there, yes, I know I shouldn't start a sentence with “and” but hey, this is a blog which is somewhat like a blob only it has pictures and in my case on a very rare basis, a semblance of intelligent discourse.



FamilyOur last entry left us on the road to Regent North Dakota, the southern starting point of the 32 mile long, self proclaimed Enchanted Highway. According to Wikipedia this backroad is the home for a collection of the worlds largest scrap metal sculptures. DeerNo, not because there are a lot of sculptures, but because each one is huge! Scattered along the highway about every 4 to 6 miles these creations are quirky Americana at its best done by a guy who had never welded before nor was considered an artist when he began.


TeddyRThere is no theme other than the underlying one of American Gothic and 60 years ago these would have been right at home on Route 66 except for one glaring fact – no commercialization. Other than an advertisement printed on an 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of paper posted on the information kiosk and a donations box, there is nothing but the sculptures, information about how they came about and an acknowledgement of the folks that helped make each site happen.

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Another feature of each site was the size of the turn-out/parking lot. When in traveling mode we are about 56 feet in total length with a turning radius of a small country and the inability of backing up. No problem here. Each attraction was graded pretty smooth and there was tons of room to get in and turn around when we were ready to leave. It is so frustrating to see an attraction, gas station or other pleasant stop only to have to pass it by because we didn't fit.

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From Regent we headed for the beach. Beach North Dakota that is. Instead of a nice visit to this border town, we ran smack dab into a Montana grassland wind storm that smacked us around like an MMA fight. At one point a side gust grabbed our slide awnings, billowing them out like a parasail. Note to self: motorhomes are really not made for parachute braking.


After pulling over to check for actual damage and a change of pants we very cautiously continued south and ran face first into Wyoming's version of a grassland wind storm that, combined with some rough roads guaranteed we’ll be visiting the dentist for loose fillings.


You know how a rainbow always makes you feel refreshed after a storm? Well, after the windstorm there wasn't a rainbow in the sky but there was an RV park on the ground. Fort Bridger RV Park in Fort Bridger was our “rainbow”. An all grass park/campground far enough from the interstate you didn't hear traffic and in the country enough to hear the cows and horses. We met a really neat couple of ladies from Virginia who were touring the western states – just friends we've had all along but hadn't met yet. We talked for hours and when we retired for the night, did so to a concert crickets. (There Annette, I said you would make it into the blog.)


Berky2I had promised Chris' sister that we would return before summer ended so they could spend some more time together than just the reunion so we headed back Riverside RV just south of Preston Idaho. While the park is tiny in comparison to most we visit; a spacious grass site with a 50 amp hookup and a view to die for is well worth the $20 a night. Look up serene in the dictionary, their picture should be there. Only downside is their spring water is at very low pressure so you have to fill up your tank and rely on the onboard pump for use.


j_summer_dressNext stop – Joseph, Oregon. Why? Absolutely no reason whatsoever. We were on the road, had no destination, and pretty much had all month to get there. We wouldn't have known about this little gem if it were not for another camp host who mentioned it. j_cougarLocated east of La Grande Oregon on the shores of Wallowa Lake and named after Chief Joseph, this small town of around 1,000 people was founded on timber but when the market crashed, the only thing holding it together was agriculture and even that wasn't doing too good a job. Then, a little over 30 years ago, three bronze foundries opened up in the area giving the town a real boost. j_chief_squawAlong came some artists as and you can see their work on nearly every street corner.


Yep, tourist candy.


j_chiefWallowa Lake is the other attraction and with it comes a very popular state park. Chris and I took a drive through and were really impressed. Pretty easy to do when we had to stop every 100 feet or so for meandering deer, bunny rabbits and squirrels. We've applied for a hosting position for next year and we'll keep you updated.


j_cowboyReluctantly we left Joseph and continued our way back to the Wenatchee area to pick up mail, do some light maintenance on the motorhome and get prepped for our 2 months of hosting in Coos Bay before heading south. I wish I could say it was a wonderful drive with amazing scenery and wildlife but it was not the case with the number and size of the wildfires cloaking the country in smoke. The news has been covering hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Jose and in doing seem to have overlooked the fact Montana, Washington, and Oregon have been the victims of some huge fires this year. Yes, I should also mention the Los Angeles area but they at least got some news coverage. Anyway, enough venting.


Crescent_BarWhat we did was to detour ever so slightly and stayed low, along the Columbia River at a place called Crescent Bar, outside of Quincy. We were still within 40 minutes of Wenatchee but since we were out of the valley we avoided a good portion of the smoke. Besides, not much could beat the view even with a bit of haze in the air.


I've used the past week's downtime to finally wire the Jeep's lights so we can do away with the magnetic ones we’ve had for the past 3 years. Took me a couple of trips to the city for parts, some scraped up knuckles, and a stiff back but I got 'er done. Mr. Keppner, would you like to visit the hot tub? Oh yes!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Oh Good Grief, We've Become Tourists!


Since our last blog entry another 1000 miles have gone by. We spent almost a week with family at our annual family reunion and while the venue changed and the kids have grown, the familial comradery and hijinks remain. I mentioned the location had changed – for the better as we left the dry, dusty Twin Lakes of Preston Idaho behind and set up at the beautiful Hyrum Lake State Park outside of Hyrum Utah.

Good food, good conversation and the peaceful surroundings (except for the kids, their assignment was to run around screaming alot!) contributed to our sense of homecoming and renewal. I've always found myself torn between the allure of the open road and the sedentary security of family. I say torn but to be honest, love of the open road wins out for now and well into the foreseeable future, hitch itch will continue to direct our movements.

Back in July I posted we had purchased the Tire Patrol system from RV i Brake to monitor the pressure and temperature of all 10 of our tires. Due to one thing or another - mostly modifications to the sensors and program improvements, our equipment had not been operating at 100% and when the company was notified the owner, Dan Decker, offered to replace everything and start from scratch. We countered his offer by saying we would travel to Castle Rock Colorado so he could investigate the problems directly.

Two days travel and about two hours of shop time later we had a fully operational system. Seems there was the perfect storm kind of variables going on which prevented us from having a straight out of the box success and really confounded the owner and technicians. Yep, we are “special”.

So here we were, sitting just outside of Denver with its big city traffic snarls and road construction EVERYWHERE. We wouldn't have minded snagging a spot at a local RV park but there was not a single campground within 50 miles that had an opening and could accommodate our size. Yep, in the RV'ing world, size matters. 

That's how we ended up in a Walmart parking lot outside of Evergreen Colorado scrutinizing the paper atlas, googling every possibility, and calling far too many campgrounds to mention. I'm pretty sure it was after our second trip into the store that we found a spot just a little over four hours away in Grand Junction. 
We had never been there but had heard plenty of positive comments about the place from the times we had hosted at Flaming Gorge. Added bonus, we would be taking the pass over to Vail to get there. As a lover of mountain passes, curvy roads and the breathtaking scenery, this was a no brainer.

Three things stand out about Grand Junction:

1. Junction West RV Park is a gravel parking lot that has very spacious sites, wide roads, very little dust, and it is very quiet at night despite being a short ways from the interstate and a truck stop. We can highly recommend it as a good stopping over place.
2. Grand Junction and the surrounding area has some young but pretty good wineries. Perhaps in a few years they'll also have the restaurants or eateries that we were looking for.
3. Old town Grand Junction and the newer shopping areas on the outskirts are night and day. The newer stores offer the fast, in your face marketing we are now accustomed to while old town turns the clock back to a time where a leisurely walk past store fronts and the occasional visit within are expected and welcomed by the vendors.

So, two days of downtime allowed me to fix our dining chairs (cheap construction), shop for a new couch (just shop), and generally do the little maintenance jobs we all have at one time or another. It also allowed us time to decide on where to go.

I need to set the stage for this next part. In 1991 during one of our cross country transfers we had the opportunity to visit Mount Rushmore. With us was our trusty Canon AE-1 35mm camera. For the last 26 years Chris and I have referred to the photos we took as some of the absolute best with crystal clear focus, perfect exposure and superb filter choice. I would post up some of the photos as shining examples but for one thing - there had been no film in the camera.

That brings us back to Grand Junction, just two travel days away from redemption. Instead of roaming aimlessly with few cares of where we ended up we switched to full on tourist mode with a planned, detailed itinerary with every hour accounted for. To anyone who knows us I'm sure we looked like lunatics on crack. Especially when we put on our knee high white socks, slipped on our sandals, buttoned up our aloha shirts, and hung our cameras around our necks.

Did we finally get pictures? You bet we did! Things have changed in the quarter century since our last visit. Cameras in our phones and no film needed, just to name a couple.

We've spent a full week at the Heartland RV Park and Cabins located in Hermosa. Not a bad park at all with level gravel sites with patches of grass in between. I will warn you though, the park is next to the highway and there is considerable road noise. Of course the highway makes it really easy to get to all the sights and parks in the area.


We're on the road again, this time to Regent North Dakota the beginning of the Enchanted Highway.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Boo Boo's Happen – Hanging out in the Pacific Northwest

threeforksLiving in a motorhome and traveling around may sound like life is all cherries and bon bons but I'll have you know, more often than not, its just “real life” - with all the bumps, bruises, hiccups and hundreds of assorted unplanned events. Yep, life happens.
If I mention them at all, I usually just gloss over these “happenings” as they tend to be uninteresting. Okay, to be truthful they are in all likelihood the direct result my own inherent stupidity which, if I remarked on each one, would take up volumes.
booboo1booboo3Case in point. In the last entry I mentioned returning to Wenatchee for some final punch-list items. What I did not mention was the argument I had with a small, hidden tree stump that snagged the front corner of our home. Obviously the tree stump won resulting in some cosmetic fiberglass damage. Fortunately, Larry at Interstate Autobody and Truck in Cashmere Washington once again came to our rescue (yes indeed, this was not our first visit to his shop). His superb workmanship and ultra-fast service is second to none.


I don't believe I mentioned killing my cell phone while we were at Alta Lake and I'm going to gloss over it still. I'm sure everyone knows that dangling your phone by the charge cord really isn't good for the phone or the cord. All I can say is thank heaven for extended warranties.
Are there more examples? You bet there are! We have these really cushy floor mats in the kitchen. They make doing chores like standing and washing dishes more comfortable. They also act as outstanding dart boards for dropped knives. Which reminds me of just how thankful I am for shoes.
Time to change subjects.
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Of all places, the most deer seen were in my sister's back yard.
IMG_20170726_183634103_HDR[1]We've traveled a little over 2000 miles since the last entry. 
We've crossed the continental divide twice, going from sea level up to 7200ft.
 No matter what  form it has come in, we remain in awe of the majesty and beauty of our country.

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The 9/11 memorial in Cashmere, WA.  Stunning!
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Little Bighorn Battlefield
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fishing

This last picture pretty much sums up my luck this past month. Fortunately, it IS called fishing for a reason.