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, December 31, 2015

Goodbye Cape Blanco

2015 is in the can and so too is our stay at Cape Blanco state park. We'll head south from here, not sure what route but we do want to be in the Quartsite Arizona area around the 2nd week of January.

Why Quartsite? Because a wise man told us we had to visit the big tent at least once now that we're full timers. An added bonus would be to get our Blue Ox tow bar serviced while we're down there. That's my story, I won't mention Quartsite lies pretty much in and on the way to Yuma which is where we hope to meet up with family.

I know I haven't written too much about Cape Blanco but there are good reasons, one of which is very few pictures. As I mentioned the weather has been extraordinarily damp this year so to protect our camera from the salt air, rain and all the other silly things a klutz like me can accidentally dump our new camera in we didn't take it on our sojourns. No camera on our walks means no pictures, no pictures means no ideas or things to write about. If it wasn't for the cell phone there would not have been any pictures at all.

So good reader, I present our final week of pictures, doings and things that went bump in night, few that they are:

High winds, hail and heavy rain brought down trees and sadly enough at our previous campground,  one of the camp host couples, Mike and Carol Welsh, had their beautiful Safari motorhome and Equinox toad struck by a split tree. Apparently Sunset Bay had been hit pretty hard - word has it they closed the park after evacuating everyone due to flooding and other weather related problems.

At Cape Blanco we didn't have that sort of damage but the work crews were kept busy cleaning up after the storms. That orange in the upper far right is Chris; we were the flaggers for the job.

Even our local porcupine did his best to help out.

Surprisingly even with weather less than amiable the campground still had a smattering of campers and cabin guests throughout the week. We knew if we saw a bundled up indistinct form shaped sort of like a human being, wandering seemingly aimlessly in the rain and fog, it was probably one of our campers and not Sasquatch. Proved more true when occasionally we could make out a muffled “hello” as they walked past. (Think zombie apocalypse bundled up for winter)

Just when it seemed we would never be dry again...
The Hughes House, a local historical landmark.

Hello sunshine!

The road down to the beach. The first picture in this blog entry shows where the road ends,

The horse camp entrance.
And some more horse camp area.

One of the areas we rehabbed, transplanting ground cover
that will fill in over the spring/summer.

Our position here was a new thing for the park and we've hopefully left a legacy of the usefulness of volunteers in positions other than as camp or cabin hosts. Our jobs varied from day to day – usually determined by weather or weather related events and each day we returned home with a feeling of accomplishing something good. Greg, our very own park ranger was a wealth of information about the area both historically and current events and he was a pleasure to work with and for – so long as I didn't try to keep up with him.

So, its off to the south we go. We heard though the forums of a possible opening down in Texas so who knows, perhaps a February gulf coast gig after a January in Arizona.

Hmmm, looking at the map we will have to go through the Napa valley – perhaps a stop or two will be in order.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Weather or not...

I'm pretty sure the gale that rolled over us late last week is related to that winter storm that struck the Rockies dumping all sorts of snow all over. Winds around the park were steady at 40 to 45 and there were some really stiff gusts roaring in like freight trains.

When it is stormy, our entertainment consists of a drive out to the lighthouse viewing area, parking and seeing if the winds will shift the car. We pretty much rocked to the full extent of the suspension and easily broke the 10mph speed limit letting the wind push us - uphill no less!

Surf watching is way better than anything on TV and the number of local visitors we have each day proves it true.

With the winds came several bouts of hail, frozen rain intermixed with the buckets deluge. We're very fortunate that we sit about 260ft above the ocean so the water does have somewhere to drain though despite the slopes, with the amounts we've received it builds up some respectable ponds and lakes in the campground.

Of course with wind and rain comes the downed trees that invariably fall across roads. Strange how it is across the roads, never alongside or even away from (must be a quantum thing like buttered bread always falling face down). As maintenance hosts one of our primary functions is to assist the park ranger in clearing access as soon as possible so the locals can get out here to let the wind rock their suspensions and be mesmerized by the waves. Wet, soggy, cold work that is usually topped off with a mug of hot spiced cider or cocoa to make it all worthwhile. We have an antique wood burning heater in the shop and on the cold, blustery days we use it to toast buns. Hmmm, come to think of it, the stove could probably toast bread too.

Not all of our chores consist of outside work. Chris and I have spent many hours simply straightening up the work shop and cleaning the work areas. This gives us ample time to chat about stuff, solve the world's problems and simply enjoy each others company. The nerf guns help – just a little bit.

With the passing of the most recent storm we now have some clear skies at night and with it temperatures are dropping. Hopefully we'll not see the freezing we saw at Sunset Bay but hey, this is Cape Blanco so just about anything can and will happen.

As I mentioned, we assist the park ranger in all sorts of tasks around the park and this week we will be working in the new lighthouse visitor center building up a photo wall and creating a few exhibits. 

So far we've got a solid start on the historical photo wall and some educational panels. If we stick to our schedule, the lighthouse visitor center will have a fresh, new look to it for the holiday opening in just three days!

We were asked in one of the forums we visit, "Why on earth would you choose Oregon in the winter, it rains all the time?" Not all the time, just most of the time but when you start getting tired of the gray skies and continuous rain, along comes a sunny day making it all worth while.

It is Thursday as I write this, our day off, and another storm has rolled in with rivers of rain and wind gusts seemingly just short of being able to blow the motherhome over. All the deer and rabbits have taken shelter and I do believe we'll do the same and ride it out with a movie marathon. You folks to the northeast of us are probably due for more weather heading your way in a couple of days; be safe.

Here's a little bit of trivia for you. Cape Blanco is the western most point in the contiguous United States. The lighthouse was built in 1870.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Adversity or Opportunity

: a difficult situation or condition : misfortune or tragedy

Yep, that about sums it up. Just before Thanksgiving Day we took the motorhome to a local dealer to top off the propane tank and as we were getting ready to leave, I got a “check engine” light on the dashboard. No other information, just that silly icon and the words. I wasn't too worried, the rig was purring nicely and nothing seemed amiss so we returned to the campground for the holiday.

The following Saturday we managed to get the rig into a local diesel shop to find out what the problem actually was and from the code determined it was a DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) heater line problem. Once again, since the rig was running smoothly with no problems and our cold spell had passed with no threats of freezing in the forecast we proceeded to Cape Blanco. Mistake, should have stayed in Coos Bay.

50 miles later, on the way in from the highway to the campground, the rig began losing power and wouldn't go faster than 50 mph. Even I got the hint there was something wrong, terribly wrong and I needed to park it quick. There are no real turn arounds before the campground so the safest, most secure place to park was actually in our assigned space (we also had cell service at the site – amazing!)

A call to Freightliner with a walk thru over the phone with a mechanic to check diagnostics (didn't know it had that feature) confirmed a DEF problem. There were additional errors which told them there was no way the rig was going to make it to a service facility; it was going to need to be towed.

Sure, no problem, simply send a tow truck, hookup and head on down the road. Nope, not going to happen. The tow truck was close to 45ft long and like all campgrounds, space was tight. We decided I would drive to the highway (5 miles) and we would hookup there. Oh, and the closest facility was a mere 190 miles away in Coburg, Oregon.

So, Wednesday morning we disconnected, started up, and then LIMPED on out to the highway at a screaming 5 mph. It was almost an hour before we met the tow truck and another 2 hours to be on our way with Chris and I following in our Jeep.

Now, why such a long story? You know the old saw about lemons and lemonade? Well, adversity is like that. Yes, we had to make a long trip following behind our home as it was being towed. BUT, without this little episode we probably would not have seen so many elk alongside the road.

Nor would we have managed to get over Cabelas for their wonderful in-store fudge.
The a boot scraper was a nice bonus as well.

The folks at Pacific Truck Centers were super friendly and completed the repairs (a silly loose wire in a connector) Thursday evening so we were all set for a Friday return and what a fantastic return it was! We got up in blustery rain and stayed in blustery rain until we hit Reedsport. There, the wind calmed down a bit and the sun came out; just in time for a breakfast stop at Leona's. An old 60/70's style diner and if you haven't had the country potatoes there, you really haven't had them.

An hour later we were back "home" near the beach in sunshine and a wonderful breeze.

So, a stressful few days filled with adversity. Or, was it simply a small glitch allowing for a very nice opportunity. I prefer to think the latter.

Kudos to Pacific Truck Center in Coburg. They understood very well they were working on our home, not just an RV. Also two thumbs up to Big John Towing out of Eugene. They drove the nearly four hours to meet us, then another four to get us to Coburg. A long fourteen hour day when you include the hookup and disconnect. John and Mike remained cheerful, professional and most important; patient.