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.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Volcanoes, Accidents and selling a house – Oh My!

We headed further inland via Willamette Highway, otherwise known as Oregon 58 and after the short trip of about 3 hours, arrived at the Bend-Sunriver Thousand Trails RV resort and campground. Such a beautiful drive, following almost the entire length of Lookout Point Lake, continuing along the winding road east over the mountains. The scent of pine was constantly present and traffic was non-existent, making for a refreshing, stress reducing transit.
So stress reducing Chris and I were having deep conversations regarding pulled fingers, cut cheese, fishing without bait and of course solving all of the world's problems. The first two we decided were not for mixed company, the next is just silly and we're still waiting for word from the U.N.

Arriving at our destination the park was packed! Here it was, a Thursday and there was a line of RV's checking in, something we had never encountered before. When I asked the front desk, I was informed this was father's day weekend so they had an influx of folks from the greater Bend area taking the weekend off. Father's day?!? Where had the month gone? Fortunately we were able to score a nice secluded site with plenty of shade, little dust and close enough to the park store to make it a short walk for the obligatory ice cream drumstick (critical camping supplies!).

Last year we toured the Crater Lake area which is about an hour south of where we were staying. This year we decided to go for the seemingly less visited yet just as magnificent Newberry National Volcanic Monument which fortunate for us was celebrating their 25th anniversary and offering free admission to all of the sights in the over 50,000 acre area. The place is so large we only got to see a few select spots but oh so spectacular!

First up was the 50 story (500ft) Lava Butte. I've included the USFS picture along with some of ours to get a better perspective. Suffice it to say, pictures ARE worth a thousand words. Granted this was not where near as recent as Mount St. Helens but the devastation is readily visible. By the time we got to the visitor center it was already getting a bit warm outside so we opted to take the shuttle bus to the top. Using a phrase like viewpoint is similar to saying SS Minnow is like the QE2.

With the long days of summer upon us we had a good bit of time left to us so we headed over to the Newberry Caldera which is sort off like Crater Lake as it is a volcano whose crater filled with water forming a lake. The differences are the sides collapsed so the two lakes that formed are easy to get at and host a number of campgrounds. The lakes have also been stocked with fish and word has it there are some big ones lurking about. Time and funds prevented us from conducting a population survey but next time...

Overlooking the sunken crater is Pauline Peak, probably one of the remainders of the original crater rim and with its nearly 8000ft elevation, provides an outstanding view of the whole complex. Definitely worth the stop if you are in the area though the drive in is an unpaved, narrow, winding road with some serious drop-offs. I am still bearing the impressions of Chris' grip on my leg.

After four days we we reluctantly decamped and headed home. We have some appointments to be at, some more house prep for sale and on July 1st I will be RiverCom for the last time in an “official" capacity. Unfortunately we'll have to stay in the East Wenatchee area for the next few weeks to rectify some minor damage to our motorhome and Jeep which were caused by an unknown driver while we were parked at one of our stops along the way. All cosmetic and but a few days to fix but really? Surely the other driver had to have noticed.

Such is life. Its still grand.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Bridges of Lane County

We're closing out week 2 of our visit to the service center and hopefully will be on the road this morning. Stopping here has been one of the best decisions we could have made with the level sites including power and water and an extremely competent, highly trained staff to help and take care of our new home. They have corrected all of the problems we noticed and even more so, some that they knew could be potential problems down the road. To top it off, they were just plain fun to work with.

This has not been all just sitting around waiting for the coach to be worked on either. We had one period of down time last weekend when parts were enroute and the staff was off. In our case it was a trip back to the coast to enjoy the cooler sea breezes and of course the awesome fresh seafood.

To break up the walks on the beach and tours of the town we decided to head a short ways inland to explore some of Oregon's 80 year old covered bridges. Just getting to them was an adventure; driving through narrow country lanes shrouded in trees, passing small farms and cottages that were surely dating back to the late 1800's. The weather in Oregon encourages fast vegetation growth and before you know it can cover a stationary object in green.

The vegetation attracts wildlife like this velvet covered little buck who owned the road. In Lane county where we're staying there are 20 covered bridges and we were fortunate to be able to visit 3 in less than 20 miles.

Our first was Deadwood Creek which was built on a bit of a curving road so the roadbed is slanted for traffic safety. Quite an accomplishment considering the whole thing is wood. Beams of old growth timber squared to 14 inches by 14 inches and running the full length of the bridge, well over 60 feet worth. Looking carefully you can see the squaring cuts that were all done by hand. Simply amazing.

The second bridge was the Nelson Mountain or Lake Creek bridge built in 1928. The beams were just a little smaller 12” by 12” and 79 feet long. Mortise and tenon joints that were still solid and tight speak highly of the skills of the folks who built this bridge.

11 miles on some old logging roads took us over Nelson Mountain to the third bridge, the last of our tour and unfortunately the saddest. Located at the turn-off to Whittaker Creek park is the Wild Cat bridge crossing Wildcat creek.

This was the oldest we visited having been built in 1925 and the construction was of the same quality and grand scale as the other two. The sad part however was since this bridge is close to a popular “partying park” it has provided some inconsiderate idiots a canvas to display their ignorance of exactly what they are defacing.

As I mentioned, we will probably be on the road later today to Bend, Oregon to visit the Thousand Trails Sunriver campgound. This is a little ways north of Crater Lake which we visited last year so this year we'll explore the places we missed and perhaps brave the south rim of the crater.

Or we'll sleep. The agenda is open.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Warranty Work

Here we sit, day 2 has been completed at Allied Recreation Group's Coburg facility. This is the west coast outlet for factory work on a bunch of different RV makes and models, one of which is Fleetwood and hence  our presence. Nothing serious to fix, just a handful of things that need correcting before our one year warranty has run out. With a lot of luck we could be out of here and into some cooler weather by the end of the week (fingers crossed).,

Because we're just sitting, marking time, we have discovered a few neat things about the Eugene Oregon area that we didn't know such as:

The town of Coburg is a National Historic District and has buildings dating back to the mid 1800's. This quaint little town of about 1100 people has the old style traditional grass field type park including the central gazebo or bandstand. Images of the old movies and Mayberry leap to mind. The old buildings have been kept in use albeit re-purposed. One of the best is Nana's Cafe or Coburg Pizza. Probably one of the best pizza restaurants we've been in - and that means even the pizzerias of Boston and New York. I would have taken pictures but the subject matter disappeared way too fast.

I'm a fan of engineering and totally off the subject but what the heck. A really neat old train trestle:

Coming in from the coast as we did, we passed numerous farms and produce stands and were fortunate to snag Willamette cherries, apricots and the oh so sweet nectarines.

Oh, and a picture of the local llama population.
Probably the most important part of our trip down here is the friendliness of the people and  the professionalism of the ARG (yep, I just had to go there with the pirate talk).

Hmmm, perhaps the fudge from Cabela's has something to do with it. Or the micro brews, or both...

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Tourists and Crashes

Coming to you live from Florence Oregon.

Okay, not so much live. We've been touring and playing so there have been some delays in getting this posted up. Today is actually going to be a traveling day as we head off east to Coburg to see the motor home doctor and get a check up. Nothing wrong, just some minor tweeks and fixes before the 1 year warranty is out. Our goal is to have this rig in A-1 working condition before tackling the rockies and our hosting gig at altitude. In the meantime, we enjoy the old forest growth and a quiet, private parking spot at the South Jetty RV park. (Good grief, I'm sounding like a travelogue!)

Not all fun and games though. Yesterday was a total wake-up call when on our way to Coos Bay to check out a potential camp host job this fall, we observed the aftermath of what happens when a class A motorhome gets slightly off the road and into a soft shoulder. The victim, a beige Sunova whose driver made a valiant and ultimately successful stop without any obvious injuries and the rig still upright, straddling a ditch. The motorhome didn't fair as well having suffered a broken front spindle (axle?, whatever, the tire shouldn't point 90 degrees out) on the driver's side and some serious fiberglass damage all along the driver's side basement. No idea of the passenger side as it was flush into the hillside. What's the phrase; “There but for the grace of God go I”?

No idea what caused the accident but once in the soft, sandy shoulder there's not much else to do other than ride it out as best you can. You know the phrase, all seats and tray tables to remain in the upright and locked position until the vehicle comes to a complete stop.

Old Florence is a bit like Newport but without the heavy fisheries processing. The boat harbor is much smaller, and less commercial with a good mixing of sail and motor boats. The main street is filled with small shops tailored for the tourist and take up the older buildings making the three block walk a feast for the eyes as well as for the being with some nice restaurants thrown into the mix.
Since we're on the tail end of that rainy storm the breeze was more like a darn good wind whipping down the street combating the warm sun; encouraging stops at the fresh roaster coffee shops and unfortunately, avoidance of the decadent double bitter chocolate ice cream cones. (I did manage to get one before we left and oh my, imagine a double chocolate truffle fudge with bitter chocolate chips.)

We ended up in Florence for two reasons.
First was to try a place we haven't been to before and second is its proximity to what could be our November/December camp hosting gig near Coos Bay. I took a panorama shot of Sunset Bay which is just outside the main gate to the park. With the fog rolling in from the sea this place was simply mystical and I'm sure my lousy photography can not do it justice. If they'll let us, this will be where we roast a turkey this coming fall.

As I mentioned, today is a traveling day. We've offered to make a logistics run for a fellow RV'er whom we've followed since 2012. Nothing heard yet but it would sure be a treat to actually meed RV Sue and her canine crew.

Friday, June 5, 2015


We're back to being connected! Oh the primitive conditions we have had to live under for the past few days – you know, no snacks in the cupboards, regular home food instead of eating out and, dare I say it, NO CELL SERVICE!! That's right, no cell service which also meant no wifi. Such a hard life we had to endure especially considering we also had to cope with 3 solid days of rain, mist, drizzle and fog. To emphasize the problem,we had to actually plug in a DVD to watch a movie! Imagine our neighbors who had all that to deal with and no slide outs!

Isn't it odd how quickly we've become accustomed to having instant connectivity to bring us instant entertainment of the sort requiring no thought and very little participation. The first day we were a little antsy and found ourselves reaching for the remote or constantly checking the phones for even a glimmer of service. One point we did have some excitement when Chris' phone beeped leading us to believe we had service once again. No such luck, it was a reminder alarm so she could email her brother and wish him a happy birthday. Yea, right, IF we had cell service.

On the second day we resigned ourselves to the lack of service and believe it or not, read our books (no, mine did not have just pictures but thanks for asking). With rain drumming on the roof, some soft music playing in the background our day became one of quiet reflection and calm companionship. If you believe that I would sure like to ride on that good ship lollipop! I believe being trapped inside an 8ft by 30ft box with any other human could be considered grounds for justifiable homicide.

Fortunately, the third day of having no service was also a traveling day where we got to visit the grand city of Aurora Oregon. Okay, just a truck stop with a SpeedCo in Aurora but hey, the place did have wifi so we were able to call off the search parties, confirm our delivery options for this month's lottery check and answer all those queries from the U.N. on world peace. In other words, the world hadn't come to an end, clocks still turned and the bill collectors were still able to find us; just another day. Oh, and we did manage to get the oil changed.

Looking back the Thousand Trails Pacific City RV resort was just what the doctor ordered. We didn't worry about taking our phones with us and really it was more just touring the area and enjoying the sights.
Hay Stack Rock

We are now just outside of Florence Oregon where there is wifi, cell service and yep, even some sunshine. Tomorrow we're off to Coos Bay to check out a potential camp hosting gig for November/December. Its good to be connected!

Monday, June 1, 2015


I can't believe four days have slipped by since our last posting. I think we have a good alibi as we've managed to explore the area around the RV park, visited Mount St. Helens and conducted several unscientific fish population surveys. My UV absorption shielding tests proved to be very satisfactory with only minor 'pinking' noted. See, lots to do. Chris says I was just being lazy sitting in a chair by the pond, fishing pole in hand. She completely missed the survey and tests I was conducting.

Probably the biggest thing for us was the visit to Mount St. Helens. Hard to believe the volcano erupted 35 years ago. The Silver Lake Visitor Center was only about 40 minutes from the RV park and is located about 5 miles from I-5. My opinion is this visitor center is tailored for the tourist who, for one reason or another doesn't desire or cannot make the additional 100 mile round trip out to the Johnston Ridge Observatory. The facilities are top notch with ample parking including RV's, though its a tight fit for longer rigs.

Inside the center offers exhibits on the eruption of 1980, walk through dioramas, model volcanoes, a movie and of course, the obligatory gift shop. Outside there is a wetland boardwalk trail and on the day we visited we could see the volcano in the distance through a light smokey haze. Since most of the inside stuff was fee based
($5 each) we opted to pass and head on up the road. The volunteers at the kiosk were outstanding; pointing out some of the good way points and which stops we definitely would enjoy. There are a couple of hosting gigs in the area and we will be investigating them for future opportunities.

Our next stop was the Forest Learning Center, some 30 miles up the road. Unlike the other centers this facility is run by Weyerhaeuser and concentrates more on the timber and how the company remained productive despite a little setback such as a mountain blowing the top off itself. Some really good displays, some short movies and of course, another gift shop. The center is free to the public – well almost free, there is a bit of propaganda. What was telling point of this center however was the view. Located high atop a bluff overlooking the north fork of the Toutle river there are meadows and flat lands below; ideal grazing land for the countless elk that have returned to the area.

Some 50 miles from the first visitor center is the Johnston Ridge Observatory where visitors can view the lava dome, the glacier that is growing and get educated on how the landscape was so drastically changed. You will need a Monument Pass or a Recreation Pass to see it all and they can be purchased on site. When we arrived there were four school buses of students just unloading; adding to the surprisingly large crowd of people already there. Since it was noon and we had no desire to battle the crowds or listen to that many students at one time, we opted to head back down the road about a ¼ of a mile to a viewpoint we spotted on the way up.
Here we had unobstructed views of the mountain, the valleys and surrounding areas while sharing it with only three other couples. We picnicked, took pictures and swapped stories of where we were when St. Helens blew.

One thing struck me while writing this entry and Chris agrees so I'm pretty sure we didn't imagine it. No matter where we were, from the first visitor center to the last, everyone there seemed to speak in lowered, hushed voices. Even the students seemed less boisterous, more disciplined.

35 years ago, Mount St. Helens had something to say and I guess we're still listening, even for the whispers.