Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A little something for everyone

Winchester Bay is a tiny town, mostly servicing the harbor and the small commercial fishing fleet. But it's also an access point to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. So it draws non-sailors too. As a result, there are several camping options clustered closely together.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm staying in one of the dry camping areas in Salmon Harbor Marina (see the red X). You can stay all along the jetty and in the two perpendicular areas. It's good if you're there for the boats and/or prefer camping on pavement.

If you want to be able to pitch a tent, be next to trees, build big fires and have plenty of room for your ATVs and dune buggies, then there are the two parts of Windy Cove Campground.

And if you want full hookups for your RV and don't want to mix with the riffraff, there's Winchester Bay RV Resort on the other jetty.

These are just the three options that are side by side. There are others nearby. Take your pick.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Hurray for e-books!

Obviously, I can connect to the Net right now. I usually can. It's my main source of information, entertainment and time wasting. But what do I do when I'm too far out in the boonies to get online? I read.

Some of my recent reading

I've done a lot of reading this month. I've read until my eyes couldn't focus anymore. I've read myself to sleep.

That's curious, considering how much I hated reading when I was a kid. I thought it was such an inefficient way to communicate, and that the stuff they wanted me to read didn't seem worth the effort.

As I headed out on the road, a friend let me copy a hard drive full of e-books onto my computer. Hundreds of books. Even so, I've purchased more e-books. And more e-books.

My teachers would be so proud—though they might not be thrilled with the types of books I'm reading. Not too much "literature." Not much from before the 20th century. I have a crapload of classics. I'll get to them someday. In the meantime, I have some non-fiction and some pulpy stuff calling my name. Yes, Elmore, I'm on my way!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A little fog for atmosphere

Okay, Brian

Sittin' on the dock of the bay

Actually, it's a glorified parking lot by the docks in Salmon Harbor Marina, at Winchester Bay, Oregon, where the Umpqua River empties into the Pacific.

This is a new camping experience for me. Well, the parking lot thing isn't new, but the location and scenery is. I'm not a sailor, but boats on water are nice to look at.

Services include water, trash, bathrooms and showers. It's a short walk to the commercial district.

It was overcast this morning but cleared off by 2:00. Then the fog started rolling in at about 8:00. That's the coast for ya.

I've paid for four nights. I might stay longer. I'll need to see whether it gets too crowded as the July 4th weekend approaches.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Exactly where I left it

One of the advantages of living in 60 square feet is that there aren't many places something could be. The trick, though, is remembering which place.

It happened again today. I had bought a nine-month supply of my medications the last time I was in Mexico. And I put it... somewhere.

There was a moment after not finding the pills where I thought they would be, and after not finding them other places I thought they could be, when I wondered if I'd used them all up. Would I need to make a mad dash to Mexico to get more? That would suck.

I finally found the neat row of pill bottles in the back of cupboard, behind some canned food. Because that location made so much sense at the time.

Maybe I need to make a treasure map of where I store things.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

This is why I went to the coast

Unless you live in the Northeast, you know how hellishly hot it has been or is about to be. The Pacific Coast, along with some areas of the Sierras and Rockies are the only places in the West not like ovens. And, as this article explains, it's not going to get better very soon.

My former plans are on hold. I'm going to hang out by the ocean for a while. A couple of weeks, maybe. Or more. Come join me.

From one side to the other

By the time I picked up my mail yesterday, it was a bit late to start my trek to the coast. So I went as far as La Grande, where I got a hotel room, had a great, hot, long shower, found a laundromat and a do-it-yourself car wash. It's best to start a journey with as many things clean as possible. Then I was out the door and on the road early this morning.

The Interstate wasn't the most scenic or soul satisfying route, but it was the most efficient. Google Maps and GPS wanted me to take I-5 all the way to Eugene before cutting to the coast. But I wanted to check if the news I'd received about the Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City was accurate.

It was. They've stopped allowing RV camping in their parking lot. Rats. It was such a handy—and free—place, a short walk to the beach or to Safeway. But I guess some people were abusing the casino's hospitality by camping there for months at a time. Thanks, jerks, for spoiling things for the rest of us.

So, I'm at the Three Rivers Casino in Florence instead. No ocean view, no grocery within a short walk, but it will do for now. I researched some other casinos and campgrounds along the southern half of the Oregon Coast. I'll check them out and report back.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Retreat! Retreat!

Oh crap. A triple-digit heat wave is about to descend upon the region. Everywhere along my intended route to Jackson, Wyoming, will be super hot. Upper nineties and hundreds. Even higher elevations will be excessively warm. The closest place that won't be broiling is the Pacific Coast. So...

That's one of the good things about this mobile lifestyle. We can flee bad weather.

As I wrote the previous sentence, a buck deer strolled past the Rolling Steel Tent. Six feet away. In a parking lot in downtown Joseph. I don't think that will happen at a casino in Lincoln City, Oregon. But tradeoffs must be made.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Meanwhile, back in Redmond...

The first coat of paint is on. Lou said the former green color stood out too much and that tan will be more stealthy. The trim will be a different shade. I vote for a white roof, though.

Out of the woods

If I had months of patience, I could get some excellent photos of the Joseph, Oregon, area. Others already have. It's a very pretty place. Mountains, valley, streams, lakes, nice little town (though I haven't found a laundromat). I'm surprised I hadn't heard of the place before. I guess I don't hang in the right circles.

Anyway, it's good to have a change of scenery. Here are some quick shots I took this morning.

Local humor

Chet inspects the flux capacitor

Um, okay

We're not in the city anymore, Dorothy

Local flora

Monday, June 22, 2015

Have I had enough forest yet?

It was just about this time last year that I suffered a forest overload while in northwestern Montana. Now, after a little more than a week in the woods, I'm starting to get that feeling again. I think I must need more sunlight and a wider view.

Plum Valley

Upper Rush Creek



And so on

Last year I fled the forest for the Oregon Coast, where it was cool and wet. I think I have Oregon covered for this year.

So, rather than moseying through northern Idaho, I think (today, anyway) that I'll take an express route to Jackson, Wyoming. Camp on a brushy hill with a view of the Tetons. Maybe meet some other nomads who settle in there for the summer. Or should I wait until autumn when the aspens turn golden?

At any rate, I have three days to figure it out. I need to hang around the general Joseph, Oregon, area until my forwarded mail arrives. Because, you know, I really want my credit card bill.

The things one learns

I was getting groceries in Joseph Oregon when I saw the sign above. I had never heard of apriums and, because of the way the sign was situated, I couldn't tell which ones were atriums.

Google led me to an article, though, about not only apriums but also pluots.

The friendly farmer, Tony Inzana, introduced me to pluots and apriums, complex hybrids of plum and apricot, or, in science-speak, interspecifics. Inzana held out a rosy specimen, rubbing the smooth, purple-black skin of a flavorosa pluot lovingly between his thumb and forefinger. Because a pluot is mostly plum, it looks more like a plum than an apricot. However, its insides are soft and grainy, unlike the firm flesh of a plum. I took one bite, and its floral and candy-sweet flavor exploded in my mouth, and juice dripped all over my fingers. 
The aprium, on the other hand, has skin covered with scant fuzz and tastes like a sweeter apricot with a hint of plum.

So, I guess the ones on the bottom are apriums. But what are the ones above? And where are the tangelos?

Saturday, June 20, 2015


I've seen a lot of dead critters on and by the road over the past two years of wandering around the West. Mostly rodents, with the occasional dog, coyote or deer. But this morning there was a huge smear of blood on the pavement leading to a steer in the ditch.

Oh my.

That couldn't have been good for whatever and whomever hit it.

As I was wondering how one carts away a half ton of beef, I rounded the next curve and saw a rancher coming with a front end loader. Ah. It would still be quite a chore.

Don't panic, I'm back

I've been at Brownlee Campground, a few miles from the Snake River and Hells Canyon, on the Idaho side. No cell signal. I didn't start out for this campground. I just saw the sign and figured I'd check it out. A nice place, not very big, among tall pines, next to a creek.

I was jonesing for Internet, so I drove to Halfway, Oregon. It's a nice little farm town. Along the way I saw there were various wide pull-outs along the Snake River/Brownlee Reservoir where camping is allowed. Or at least tolerated. They seemed to be occupied by anglers. I might stay at one of them.

The Brownlee Reservoir section of the Snake River, south of Hells Canyon Recreation Area

The larger plan, which is always subject to revision, and which has been revised several times already, is to head toward Joseph, Oregon and the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Who knows what I might find along the way. Who knows whether I'll change my mind. In the meantime, I'll probably be incommunicado.

Eagle Cap Wilderness

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Self-inflicted anxiety

I pulled into Burns, Oregon, with two things on my agenda: gas and groceries.

Oh, look, a Safeway.

By the time I got groceries and other supplies, I'd forgotten about gas—until I was about thirty miles east of Burns and I happened to notice I had only a quarter tank. But my gauge needle moves faster the less fuel I have. When it says I have a quarter tank I could have anywhere between eight gallons and maybe less than four. Who knows? But Juntura, where I was going to camp, was about 20 miles ahead. I could get gas there.

No, I couldn't. Ummmmm, okay. What now?

I checked Gas Buddy. It said the closest gas was 55 miles away. I doubted I could make it that far, especially if there were any uphill grades along the way. I checked Google Maps. They were no better, either.

I went to the campground. An afternoon and night of worrying about it might produce an answer. After all, the folks around here get their gas somewhere.

Maybe I'd need to beg gas from strangers. What an awful thought for an introvert.

There's a cafe in Juntura, so I drove/coasted there from the campground this morning. I asked the hostess, "Where do folks around here get gas?"

"They try to arrive with a full tank."

Smart ass.

"Whether you came from the east or west, you passed a station about 30 miles back." Oh great, a lecture. And I didn't remember seeing a station after leaving Burns.

"Well, I'm headed east."

"In that case, there's gas in Harper, right by the highway." I figured I had more than the two gallons necessary to get there. At least I should.

As I drove, I watched the gas gauge as much as the road. The road east was mostly downhill or flat, so that was encouraging.

The needle hadn't moved much by the time I reached Harper. But where was the promised gas station? I was expecting, you know, a big petroleum company sign and the usual trappings.

No. I almost drove past it. A single pump in front of what looked like a house. I slammed on the breaks and had to make a three-point U-turn in order to get the pump on the correct side of the Rolling Steel Tent.

You can't pump your own gas in Oregon (or New Jersey) so I waited for the pump jockey, who was an amiable white-haired guy curious about my solar setup and what I use it for.

So, all gassed up and anxiety-free, I headed off for a quick jump into Idaho, where I'd catch I-84 north, back into Oregon. The plan now is to turn east at Baker in order to get to Hells Canyon, which is inconveniently located on the way to nowhere. I'll be sure to gas up again first.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Meanwhile, back in Redmond...

Lou added some corbels to the roof overhang

The roof addition has been covered in fiberglass

Lest you think all of Oregon is mountains and forests

Lake Albert, Oregon

BLM campground at Chicahominy Reservoir

That's nice

Plum Valley is another small, free, semi-neglected Forest Service campground. Three of the seven sites were occupied by people who seemed to have settled in for the long haul. I'm guessing rangers don't come around often to enforce the 14-day limit. There was a nice, large, flat site in a corner away from the others, however. The neighbors were quite and well behaved. Excellent.

More excellent was the way latitude, longitude, altitude, the pattern of high and low pressure systems, the tree canopy and the tilt of Earth's axis combined to produce perfect weather. Low to upper 70s during the day, with a mild, fresh, conifer-scented breeze. Cool enough at night for comfortable sleeping without being too cold.

Everyone needs a babbling brook to lull them to sleep—at any time if day

But I left that paradise this morning. No cell service. Itchy feet. Gotta see what's up the road. It's a sickness.

Now I'm making a brief stop in Lakeview, Oregon, to post this. The lake that they can view in Lakeview is Goose Lake, which straddles the state line. But Goose Lake is dry. So now they just view grass and alkali flats. But Lakeview's other claim to fame is as Oregon's Tallest City, at 4,208 feet. I guess they call it the tallest to avoid the jokes that would come from calling it the highest city.

So, onward, northward. But first some breakfast.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Ain't nobody here but us chickens

Upper Rush Creek is a somewhat neglected Forest Service campground north of Adin, California. The water has been turned off and garbage collection has been suspended. At least there was still a bit of toilet paper in the outhouse (which some insects and mice had made home). But it was free.

It’s sort of a chicken-egg situation, I suppose. Forest Service resources probably go toward maintaining campgrounds that get more use, and campgrounds that aren’t a maintenance priority become less appealing and less used.

That means I had the place completely to myself. Just me and nature. And my thoughts.

Um, yeah. My thoughts. That’s where the trouble starts.

See, when I’m totally alone I start to creep myself out imagining what bad things might happen. What if one of the big trees fell on the Rolling Steel Tent while I slept? Are there cougars around here? What’s that noise? What if some drunk and/or criminally-minded locals come around to mess with me? What is that noise?

It doesn’t help when I step outside to pee and it’s bottom-of-the-mine-shaft-with-a-sack-over-your-head dark. Absolutely no light except some stars peeking through the treetops. I can’t see anything, like, for instance, a cougar ready to leap on me and rip my throat out.

So, even though I knew I was being mostly irrational, I packed up and drove a couple of miles down to Lower Rush Creek campground. There were other people there. Even though I would never talk to them, it was comforting to have them around. And to have other potential victims for the cougar.

It's a bit of a paradox for introverts like me. I'm fine being alone, just not too alone.

Hello?... Hello?...

Saturday, June 13, 2015

All the young dudes

Yesterday a group of guys set up in the next campsite over. They came to party. Lots of WOO-HOOOOing and loud music into the wee hours. The camp host did nothing to quiet them down. Maybe he was listening to his beloved Swedish death metal with headphones and couldn't hear the dudes.

Besides, it had gotten uncomfortably warm at Pit River. And the flies were starting to annoy me. Time to move on.

So I headed toward Lassen Peak. The higher altitude means a nice temperature drop. And getting out of the valley allows for more constant breezes.

Someone else's photo of Lassen Peak

There are several campgrounds along highway 89, between Burney and Lassen Volcanic National Park. However, a past forest fire through the area meant some of them are closed and others are not very inviting unless you like a view of burned trees.

Cave Campground (which gets its name from a lava tube cave on the other side of the highway) was open and appealing, even though it's right on the highway. I found a site away from the generator people, with a lava outcropping that blocked some of the road noise. The temperature was perfect and only the occasional fly buzzed through the Rolling Steel Tent. And though the campground was rather full, it was quiet.

Hat Creek runs along the back of the campground. Anglers were pulling out trout. I'd rather leave them in peace.

The down side of Cave Campground is weak cell service. So I drove to Burney this morning to post this and to get a few supplies. Then it's back to being incommunicado for another day or two.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Short report from a no-cell zone

I spent the night (and probably a couple more) at a Forest Service campground on the Pit River, between Burney and Alturas, California. Even though there are only eight campsites, I had my choice of several because it's midweek. The campground is $8/night, which I get for half price with my Interagency seniors card.

Since the campground is down in a canyon in a sparsely populated region, the cell signal is too weak for data. I drove up to a scenic overlook a couple of miles away to get myself some nice 4G LTE.

Being down in a canyon in a sparsely populated region also means it's a good spot for star photography. I just wish the Milky Way would get high in the sky before 2 o'clock.

There's a camp host here. Most hosts are your typical friendly, mellow, senior citizen types (except those that are cranky from dealing with bad campers). The one here is different. He's my age, but he's into ballads by '80s hair bands as well as Swedish death metal.  Mostly the latter. I know this because he had his music cranked up from about 6 o'clock to 9 last night.WOOOO!

By the time I cross the state line back into Oregon, I'll have been in each corner of California. And I will have covered a lot of ground between. As the Beach Boys sang, I get around.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Decidedly undecided

The large pieces of Lou's trailer renovation are in place and now it's mostly a long list of one-man jobs. That, and the heat and allergies and itchy feet meant it was a good time to move on. But in which direction?

"I'm going to get a shower, some groceries and gas, then head to the highway and see whether the urge hits me to turn left or right," I said as I prepared to leave Redmond.

I turned right. Southward. I thought I would make my way to the mountains of San Diego County. It seemed delightfully contrary. Head south to escape the heat? Yup. It's in the 70s around Julian. Without freezing nights.

But by the time I got to Redding, I started thinking of how few camping options there were between here and there—options that didn't require reservations or that wouldn't be crowded and expensive. And once I'd been in far southern California for a while, where to, then, that didn't put me in more summer heat or require a long schlep?

I rethought things.

I turned east.

So, here I am at the moment, in a rest stop along highway 299. The new "plan" involves heading out the northeast corner of California, into Oregon (again), east to Idaho and Montana, south to Wyoming and Colorado. No hurry. Take six weeks or more.

At least I think so.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Hand me a clamp

I guess you can tell how serious someone is about building things by counting the clamps. I own only two, so...

Lou is gluing boards to the port and starboard (Lou was a boat builder in a previous life) edges of the roof to reinforce the plywood and to make things look better.

Pollen, sawdust, cow farts?

I don't know what the prime sinus irritant is here in Redmond (I had to pause to sneeze while writing this sentence) but I've been sneezing my brains out since I got here. And I don't have brains to spare. My eyes have been watery, too. I'm down to my last tissue. Sigh.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

As the dog said, "Roof roof."

We got an early start this morning prepping to install the roof sheathing. Sanding, aligning, triple measuring, test fitting, pre-drilling, gluing, nailing... And bending, of course. We wanted to get this stage of the job done before it got too hot today. We did.

Insulation and inner ceiling yet to go

There are several more steps, like attaching the edge strips, caulking the joints and covering with fiberglass. But it looks like a room now.