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.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Confessions of a Park Host

Our time at Sunset Bay State Park and our first gig as the Park Host is sadly concluding at the end of this week. A few months ago I posted about the time paradox thing where time seems to be a super sonic jet or a ruptured duck and November has been breaking the sound barrier daily.
Sunrise at Sunset Bay State Park
The one constant here is just how enjoyable our stay has been. I asked Chris if she had any regrets or any negatives about the job and she responded with a resounding No!. On reflection she did admit she regretted the job was only one month long and the negatives were parting company with our new friends. To be truthful, I have the same feelings. Here are our reasons:

  1. None of the work was onerous nor difficult. Let's face it, you volunteer for the job to sell firewood, clean fire rings and answer campers' questions. In return the state gives you a premium site to park in with all utilities, more than adequate time off and the bonus: lots of gas powered toys er, tools, to play, er, work with. The capper is they give you a vest and hat to wear AND a neat (read that fast!) golf cart to drive around in. The kid in me is still giggling and I can't wait to go back to work each day.
  1. Our co-workers: Mike and Carol and Mike and Terri (yea, it was a bit confusing at times). Both couples have way more experience than we did. I'm not quite sure they realize just how much information and wisdom they passed along to us newbees nor how much we really appreciated what gems they were.
  2. Stephanie, our pet ranger (just kidding, she was our boss and the volunteer coordinator for the park). Made the job fun and funny. She and the other rangers trusted us to do our jobs and while they had a lot on their own plates, they were always there to ensure we had what we needed.

Notice how I haven't mentioned the scenery or the stuff to do? There was plenty of it but it is really the people you meet and work with who make the difference. The walks on the beach were just icing on the cake.

Seems I'm forgetting something – Oh yea, our wonderfully entertaining campers! If you look back on our previous blog posts I believe I've mentioned some of the shows we've seen when campers show up at a park and when they leave. As the hosts we had front row seats and I believe the only time the show slowed down was between midnight and 7am.

Did you know, if a soccer ball is kicked into a neighboring campfire it will send up sparks that twinkle in the dusk light? Even more so when the ball blows up. I'm not quite sure the screams were all in delight of the sparkly exhibition.

Throwing crab shells into your campfire is perhaps not a really good idea – especially when you have a window open in your rig – and the smoke is blowing in that direction. Another not so good idea is to dump water on the fire to stop the smoke blowing in. Did you know steam from a dampened fire behaves just like the smoke did and burnt crustacean shells really do smell worse when combined with steam?

Did you know firewood tends to not burn well if left out in the rain. Sorry, no refunds for faulty firewood.

Leaving your chips, cookies, snacks or for that matter any food out on a table or leaving your cooler top unfastened is really an open invitation for the campground raccoons. No, the park host is not responsible for lost food items or disturbed camp sites and no, we can not prosecute or arrest a raccoon. (To the one visitor from back east: No, we REALLY do not simply let the critters out of cages for the campers' benefit. They REALLY are wild and run free).

This final week was also Thanksgiving. Chris and I want to voice our thanks for just being able to do this thing called RV'ing. A special thanks for my sister and brother-in-law who drove 10 hours to spend Thanksgiving day with us and who got to share a bit of the entertainment.

Safe travels; we'll see you at our next stop: Cape Blanco.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Weather thoughts

Week two completed and oddly enough we're still having fun. You would think with the almost continuous rain and wind we would be a bit tired of it but the exact opposite is true. The rain comes in countless different styles and volumes and this variety is constantly keeping us on our toes with decisions such as wind breaker or not, slicker or lighter, boots or tennis shoes. Last Saturday it was a combination of all with some sunshine thrown in – sort of like one of those one person shows with all the costume changes.

Personally, I'm partial to the raining so hard it either gives you a concussion or bounces up from the ground and drenches you from the feet up. Chris likes the light misting type capable of soaking you to the point of drowning without you being aware of it. (She's partial to it because I'm the one who usually is getting soaked.)

For a change, the last storm brought hail or it was just frozen rain, not quite sure other than it stuck around a fraction longer than normal rainfall and the sound on the motorhome roof was distinctly louder (imagine head in a metal bucket with gravel pouring over).

Folks in Oregon do have an interesting sense of humor,(directly attributable to the weather I'm sure) at least the ones in the communities near us. We took a trip to Bandon the other day and came across street signs you just know were created tongue-in-cheek; names such as Lois Lane, Rocky Road and its cross street Winding. I just had to take a photo of this one:

Almost schmucked a deer yesterday. Little spike buck that decided walking in the roadway when the sun was out, the pavement wet and the glare horrendous was a good idea. Agent 86 said it best: “I missed it by that much!” Sorry, no pictures as I was a bit busy trying to stay on the road and keep my under pants clean.

Next week will be a trial by fire for us as we entertain my sister and brother-in-law for Thanksgiving. It will be the first time we've crammed 4 people into the motorhome for any length of time and also the first time we've attempted to cook a full, multi-course dinner with our limited facilities. We're looking forward to the cooking challenge and also getting back together for a visit.

Good news arrived this past week as we have been offered and have accepted a position at Cape Blanco for the month of December. This high on a bluff lighthouse and beautiful campground has been one of our goals and we were very fortunate to snag it. We'll be about 30 minutes from Gold Beach to the south and Bandon to the north. Here's a quick peek of the area:

No wonder there is a lighthouse overlooking this coastline.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A week in the life...

I can't believe a week has gone by so quickly. There must be some sort of quantum forces at work to protect us from good times overload.

The job of park host is to keep the campground clean and neat, assist campers and keep the rangers informed of anything unusual or potential safety hazards. We do not clean restrooms but do ensure they are well stocked. What this boils down to is a lot of gabbing with the campers interspersed with really easy meandering from site to site in a golf cart. So far we've only had one issue with a very confused woman (220 on a roller coaster for our dispatch friends) who fortunately we were able to reach out to some of her family and get her the help she needed. We can only imagine what the summer season would be like – I'm guessing hectic at best. I think we'll stick with the winter season. We may be hard pressed to meet our obligated 20 hours a week but that just leaves us with extra time for beach combing, trail walking and simply sight seeing.

Our first week has been a mixture of on and off again rain mixed with beautiful sunny periods which allow us to snag photos where the lighting is simply stunning. I thought it pretty appropriate to use the Cape Arago lighthouse to demonstrate.

Sunset Bay, while mostly devoted to the beach area does have some great hiking trails in the hills above and when you have a good amount of rain, a dark and mysterious forest and little glades thrown in along the walking paths you never know what or who you may encounter. A good example is this doe and yearling fawn black tail that walked out of the underbrush and began grazing.

We heard there might be an opening down at the Cape Blanco state park for the month of December. We'll be taking a drive today to check out the area and will probably apply. Christmas high on the bluffs of Oregon's western most point seems like the place to be. Just imagine the sunsets!

RV tip.

This one comes from a local RV dealer: When parked in a salt air environment for an extended period of time, treat your leveler jacks as soon as you drop them to assist in dispersing any moisture during your stay. Then, before you leave, treat them again before raising. They recommended a silicon spray such as WD-40 makes.
Reminder: Veteran's Day. Appreciate them.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Sitting on the dock of the bay, watching the tide roll away...

Mr. Redding must have been a full timer. We had a week of downtime in Newport and found ourselves doing just about the same thing – only indoors. Temperatures have been in the mid to upper 50's and with the damp sea breeze it puts a bit of chill in the air.

Of course the chill has not slowed the bombing runs made by squadrons of seagulls nor has it prevented the local seals from their non stop barking. And having mentioned seals, there are two other aspects of seals I had thought I had left behind after serving on a buoy tender; fishy burps and seal poop. No words can adequately describe these odors so thick you can cut with a knife or so strong it peels paint. I'm pretty sure if you could actually find a container strong enough to hold the odor you would be required to have some sort of special hazardous material license - or become a global super power.

Okay, enough with the poop humor. (Unless it involves a black tank – that humor goes on FOREVER)

After spending the week in Newport we headed southbound on the 101 bucking a nasty headwind to arrive in Coos Bay the afternoon of the 31st. Yep, we are trick-or-treating whether they like it or not.

All treats, no getting around it. We've got an asphalt pad with full hookups and a large yard with a very nice fire ring. Tall hedges around the perimeter of the site give us a bit of privacy – something I understand hosts prefer. I'll have to give it more time to see if its true.

Once we got set up we got to meet our coordinator and park ranger, Stephanie who gave us a brief but thorough orientation. Not sure how it happened but like our previous gig at Flaming Gorge we have timed it where Stephanie is off the first two days we work and we are working solo as the couple we are replacing headed out on our first day. No worries, we've now completed two days as Park Hosts and the roughest part was not being familiar enough with the area to assist our guests. While this is our first foray into camp hosting, Chris and I have already agreed this is something we can get used to real quick.

The Oregon coast in the fall and winter mean rain. It usually means wind as well but so far we've not had enough to even get a kite off the ground (knock on soggy wood). This are indisputable facts but what isn't mentioned is between storms when the sun does break through, you have some of the clearest air, bluest skies and beautiful scenery.
I don't have many photos of the area yet but over the next month I hope to show you more of this wonderful area.

What we have so far is the campground doe who hangs out at the interpretive center. She is pretty skittish when it comes to a camera pointed her direction. I manged this shot after sneaking around a tree with my phone held low. Quite funny as she will allow you to approach fairly close, talk to her, point at her with a finger and make a good amount of noise without any bother but as soon as you raise something that looks like a camera, she takes off.

We are off today so we'll head in to the towns of Charleston, Coos Bay and North Bend for shopping and to see just how much has changed since I was stationed here back in the late 70's. Funny though, everyone still dresses the same – rain slickers and flanel.