Wednesday, 30 November 2011

American Turkey Day

First thing to be thankful for was the weather, a splendid sunny day warm enough for folks to wear shorts and sunbathe on the beach. With the holiday, everyone was out driving California's famous highway one, strolling the beaches, building sand castles or exercising their dogs beside the surf. Drove beneath gorgeous "tunnels" of trees along the highway and through a few barely breathing small towns with quaint false-front, cowboy-town buildings. Some had great ornate wooden gingerbread between faded and peeling painted walls. Ragged palm trees, hydrangea bushes, roses and lilies bloomed aggressively beside moulding picket fences.

Stopped at many lookouts to gaze over the cliffs at the huge surf carving the sand on the beaches below. Lines of pelicans followed the surf and sea lions barked as they basked on rocks just offshore. Thankful for being here in Cali-forn-eye-aye and able to enjoy the many treasures of the shoreline.
And thankful for the feast. Managed to cook up a turkey breast, taters and greens followed by pumpkin tarts for dessert. Rain crept in again after dark and soaked everything once again. Heading south tomorrow.



Monday, 28 November 2011

Under the Weather

Our last Oregon morning was T-shirt weather, very warm and sunny. Driving south we enjoyed breathtaking coastal views and rain forests bathed in sunlight. An hour later we broke into California's grey-green mountains dotted with scruff bush and clumps of tall cream-tufted grasses. Twisted Cypress were back lit creating dramatic silhouettes. We passed areas where snow had fallen that morning but luckily melted from the highway surfaces. The dry, warm skies were replaced with haze and cooler temperatures by afternoon.

We set up CC facing a sheltered bay of the Pacific in Crescent City. We settled in our lawn chairs at the beach's edge. Comfort demanded a few layers of sweaters and scarves but allowed us a long repose  to watch the clammers, digging and slowly filling their pails, myriad seabirds floating on the surf or gliding above it and Sunday-afternoon families strolling on the beach or fishing from the pier. A lighthouse flashed a warning light out to sea at thirty second intervals. We could hear the lonely tone of a bell calling out to ships with a long "Me" as in "Do, Re, Me" every ten seconds. The temperature dropped and the wind picked up as the sun descended. The sunset was Class A with oranges, pinks and purples laying down magenta streaks across the turquoise water.

By bedtime the wind was howling around us. The tops of the slides were blowing with such ferocity during the night that we felt like we were inside a circus tent rather than a solid-sided motor home. The skies opened and rain smacked down all night. I half expected to awake in Oz! With news that the edge of a major storm in Oregon was heading south towards us, we decided to drive inland.

Trekked along scary winding roads, again with little or no guardrails. The Redwood Highway was impressive even under overcast skies. The larger trees, eighty to one hundred feet tall were so thick around that their huge trunks met the edge of the highway. They were marked with reflectors for night drivers. Our large vehicle could pass oncoming vehicles with only a few inches between, Not exactly a relaxing drive! Passed a number of roadside carving and bad-art shops all featuring giant Bigfoot figures, Native-style faces, bears and tacky cartoon characters often with wonky proportions and eyes that weren't quite right. We stayed two nights under the mighty trees of Redwoods River RV Park. More rain and cold.

Headed back to the coast on a long and winding road through fog and rain.
Hunkered down in a cosy site at Pomo Rv in Fort Bragg.  Living in an RV means living close to and under whatever weather conditions get thrown your way. At least we always have the option of driving on whether we will find better weather or not!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Positive Vibes in Oregon

Checked out of La Quinta Hotel, picked up CC and headed to Springfield Oregon. We knew the minute we arrived at AM Solar that our luck had changed. We met the owners Debra and Greg and assistant Roger who welcomed us like family to their establishment. We were booked in for the next morning to have solar panels installed on CC's roof. Debra is one of those women who have a concentrated dose of the mothering gene. She took us under her wing, gave us a local map and marked stores and restaurants of interest for us. Debra showed us to their waiting room, a comfortable space with couch, table, water and coffee,Internet and huge library filled with RV magazines and books on travel, nature, food and art of the area. We camped comfortably that night in the AM Solar parking lot.

Chris had done a massive amount of research on solar panels over the past two years and all articles and blogs pointed to the professionalism and assistance at the AM Solar company of Springfield OR. The technicians that installed the panels were second to none. The installation was flawless as wires and cables had to be routed from the panels on the roof through 2 control panels inside and sent to the basement area to hook up to the batteries and other controllers mounted there. No wires were showing anywhere inside the coach.  Most of the work was completed in a day but we needed a couple of minor things done in the morning as well as a "walk through" on the ins and outs of the panels. We spent another quiet night in the driveway after spotting a nutria outside. They are creatures that dwell near water and look like a cross between a beaver and a muskrat. Creepy! They've been known to bite and scratch at dogs. Watch out Dixie.

Friday November 18, Chris took CC back to the now infamous RV Corral. Dixie and I stayed in the AM Solar waiting room with the ice packs and dog grooming tools that Debra had provided and my computer.
The microwave that had been installed on Monday was removed and reinstalled with the fan blowing properly out of the RV rather than in to the kitchen. Next, the correct jacks were installed! Hooray! Finally a propane pro named Reif installed a propane line inside CC to hook up a propane heater and outside CC to hook up the Bar-B-Que. A very satisfying day all round! Stayed one last night at AM Solar.

Saturday, November 19, we left Springfield and headed west towards the coast through fall colours, gorgeous river country, fog rising off the coastal mountains and hilly pastures with grazing cattle. Soon we entered dune country with rolling sand dunes covered in scraggy, low foliage and gorgeous grasses. Stopped near the Florence dunes on the coast and Chris and Dixie hiked over the dunes to be treated to a view of crashing Pacific waves pounding on a huge sand beach.  Stupendous breathtaking views from the ocean side highway as we drove south. Huge volcanic rocks sat offshore being smashed by giant green waves and whipping up a massive surf. Checked in to The Honeybear Campground for the night only one hour north of California!

Friday, 18 November 2011

"Bust" in Oregon

Heading south from Washington we passed a number of small farms. The parcels of land are about 1/10 of our typical farms. You'd only be able to house a few of your Holstein 'babes' here Grant & Lynne. The fields of sheep, cattle and horses provided a dose of Ontario comfort. Reminded of the Turnbull farm, we passed many decorative-tree farms festooned in fall colours; rows of salmon, orange, yellow, red and burgundy. Monty Python would have no shortage of "shrubbery" here! Another huge crop in the area is Christmas trees. We passed acres of them, many being cut, bundled and loaded onto trucks being readied for delivery. That season is lurking on the horizon.
Happy Birthday to Al!

Bad news comes in threes?!?  Monday November 14, CC was dropped off at The RV Corral in Eugene Oregon to have some major work done.  Our microwave/convection oven has been working intermittently and often not at all. RV Corral removed the old one and replaced it with a new one.
Hello Eugene and hey Vida, there is a small town near by called Vida!

ONE The next repair was to replace the front jacks. For two months now, these have been sticking in the down position and Chris has to muscle them up with crowbar every time we leave camp. There are four jacks on CC that lower when we set up camp to provide support and levelling for the RV. Chris had made approximately 12 phone calls confirming the order of the jacks which had to be sent from Tiffin and regarding RV Corral's ability to install them. HOWEVER when the jacks were unpacked on Monday, they turned out to be THE WRONG ONES!?!

TWO The major job that Chris had scheduled was a 2-3 day replacement of the "cracked rails" on CC's roof. Chris had also reserved a hotel to stay in for the duration of the repair job. HOWEVER, The RV Corral called to inform us that THEY DID NOT HAVE ENOUGH GLUE TO ADHERE THE RAILS!?!and it would take a week at least to order more adhesive.

THREE While we were waiting for CC, we hiked up "Spencer Butte Mountain". The day was overcast but the yellow leaves above our heads and the piles of them on the pathway glowed creating an ethereal golden light in the woods. The spruce and hemlock were covered in moss and as a mist formed behind them. The trees loomed in mysterious silhouettes as we neared the mountain top. Suddenly, slipping on a wet rock, Caron cascaded down the Cascade Mountain. Everything checked out except my right foot which pained and made me nauseous when I tried to walk on it. I took some time to feel better and when we descended, Chris became my crutch, helping me down the path physically and emotionally. X-rays confirmed that I had broken my foot and I am now wearing a fashionable walking cast and mastering the use of crutches. All will be well hopefully, in six weeks.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Oregon or Bust

Finally made it to Oregon
We are in Salem OR now at Silver Spur (yeeehaw) RV Resort. Heres our trip from Parksville on Vancouver island.

View Larger Map
We are sticking to the coast until we get farther south because there is cold and snow on the other side of the cascades.
We are headed for Eugene to once again get some stuff fixed on the rig including having the front jacks replaced and major roof repairs. They are also going to replace the Convection Oven and some other minor fixes. All under warranty.
Did I mention this before?
We stayed in a park near Astoria Oregon, this week where the locals were moving in for the weekend clam diggin, partys. Razor clams are the thing here and they are big with lots of meat and very tasty. There was something happening called a clam tide where the tide is super low and lots of seabed is exposed. The clammers drive out there and find the semi-burried clams with some special equipment and dig em up. Parties ensue.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Fate or Coincidence?

October 9
Chris and I were walking Dixie beside the long line of parked vehicles while we waited to board the ferry at Horseshoe Bay. If you have a dog, you will know that dog owners create small talk with each other to take the attention away from the often embarrassing greeting methods of their pooches. We performed this ritual with a couple who appeared to be about our age and were travelling in an motor home similar to ours. Dixie was not as enamored with their two black and white spaniels as I was. We quickly moved on to more enlightening topics and they informed us that by driving the RV and car onto the ferry separately, that we could save tons of money! We also learned that they had been staying at Eagle Vista, in Squamish, the same RV Park we'd been in.  Janice and Al gave us some valuable information about camping sites and travel routes in California where they live. Very nice folks! Waved goodbye after docking in Langdale and
drove off in different directions.

Later...that same day
Chris and I were walking Dixie beside a shorter line of parked vehicles at Earle's Cove while we waited to board a smaller ferry to Saltery Bay. We were going through the same dog meets dog; owner greets owner thing when a familiar vehicle parked and two black and white spaniels get out with their owners. They recognized CC right away and came over for a chat. Al and Janice were already set up back in Langdale and were just driving around to get a feel for the area. Off they went and we boarded the ferry.

October 11
Chris, Dixie and I board the S.S.Chilliwack to Comox, Vancouver Island. The morning was chilly and overcast so we decided to have our coffee and share a sandwich inside. All the tables were full and we were about to give up at sitting when a spot cleared for us. As we gathered our belongings to head up on deck, a couple sat down at the table beside us.  Yes, it was Janice and Al!  We had a short chat and they told us that they were meeting friends at the the next port and would be travelling with them for awhile. Interesting!

Later....that same day
Chris and I had booked a campsite at Bate's Beach RV park so we drove directly there. Refer to blog entry
"Fresh and Local is Best". Directly behind us in the entrance to the park were two RVs; Al and Janice in one and their friends Linda and George in the other. They camped just down from us and we got to know them better and exchanged email addresses. We began emailing regularly with updates of our travels and campsites.

October 19
CC and company set up at Bella Pacifica Campground near Tofino.

October 23
Two familiar RVs set up camp at Bella Pacifica Campground at Tofino. Latre, caught up with Janice and Al on the beach watching the sunset over the bay. We crossed paths again the next day as we pulled out of the popular "Taco Bus" parking lot as they pulled in!  Waved goodbye again two days later as they headed off to places unknown.

October 29
Chris was driving north, back to Parksville after completing errands in Nanaimo. (No, he did not buy any Nanaimo bars when he was there.)  He saw both Southwind Motorhomes driving south. Guess who?!
Turns out they had been staying at an RV park, a short ten minute walk north of us in Parksville.

November 1
Chris and Dixie were in the RV and I was in the car waiting to board the ferry at Victoria to sail to Port Angeles in Washington. Chris called me on the walkie talkie to say "Guess who's here?!" Al and Janice and their friends were strolling about Victoria and once again, Janice recognized CC and shouted down to Chris.
We could not believe it! It was really fun being waved at from the ferry deck as we headed out into Juan de Fuca Strait. It was at that point that we realized that we needed to document the many times our paths had crossed.

November 8
Chris and I received an email from Al in which he mentioned some campsites that he and Janice often stayed at for their anniversary, July 18. Yup, you guessed it, Chris and I were also married on July 18! Crazy!?!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Port Townsend Cleanse

Woke up Friday morning in Port Townsend with full blown stomach flu and fever. Chris did some town and beach walks with Dixie. Saturday, he took Dixie to Fort Worden and hiked more trails. I emerged in the late afternoon and we both took a stroll through town, checking out the artsy stores and a few galleries. Sunday morning Chris was blessed with most of my flu symptoms thus it was my turn to check out the sights with Dixie. Although Port Townsend is a great town to visit, we spent the majority of our time travelling back and forth from bed to "the little room" as my Mom called it. Tomorrow we both hope to be back on the road and back on solid food!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

My Scottish Heritage does not like this!

Had to toss a few meat items and veggies into the trash in preparation for our voyage to America. We did try to eat it all, really!  Mailed off a couple of boxes of stuff for storage. Thanks Wendy and Kim. We wanted to get it done while we were still in Canada. It's amazing what you can live without!  Madly rolled the bulk of our canuck coins to be changed to US funds and bulked up our wallets with some greenbacks.

Drove south to Victoria and parked for ferry boarding two hours before sailing time. Beautiful sunny afternoon where we could enjoy the pleasure boats and tour planes going to and fro in the harbour. The border folk came around to each of us and we were cleared for entry. We had no problems or inspections nor did we have to throw out any open dog food.  Had a warm meal in CC waiting for the ferry arrival.  Just before we were about to board, our friends showed up by chance and waved us goodbye. We waved farewell from the deck like royalty setting out on The Queen Mary.  Great journey across the Juan de Fuca Strait viewing sealions, dolphin, transport ships, a coastal "Pilot" patrol boat, a destroyer and the snowy peak of Mount Baker. 

Disembarking and customs in Port Angeles went smoothly and we headed directly to our campsite at the
Elwha Dam campsite. Hiked down to the dam in the morning to see a partially complete dam-destruction project. The former electric dam is being converted back to its natural state and the locals trust that the salmon will soon be back. We agreed that it was a damn good idea.

Next stop, Washington Olympic National Park. The helpful park guide told us to head up to the pass soon as a storm was blowing in.  She also warned us that it would likely be cold up there. We headed up a switchback road often covered with loose stones and gravel that had tumbled down the hill.  The views of the valley were spectacular as we peered down upon the Strait and the dwarfed town below.  The thrill factor was heightened with the lack of barriers and guard rails along the cliff  edges!  Seventeen miles up
at 5,242 feet above the sea, we parked for our hike. When we stepped out of the car, all three of us were practically turned inside out. Dixie loved it, Chris and I, not so much. We learned that the average wind speed up there is about 75mph., perhaps why they call it "Hurricane Ridge". The freezing air was exhilarating and made the amazing view of the snow capped mountain ridge all the more impressive. We sought shelter under the stunted sub-alpine fir trees. Talk about survival instincts; those trees exhibit years of struggle and glory in their windswept stances. We hiked up higher where our view was even more magnificent and where we could see Mount Baker so clearly, we felt we could reach out and touch it.  Hiking over frozen ground, being careful not to slip on the snow and ice was an experience we'd not had for awhile. When we descended to the warmth of the car we were treated to seeing the black clouds descend over the ridge and pour down blowing snow. We headed immediately to the nearest bowls of warm soup we could find!  How does clam chowder in a freshly baked brown bread-bowl sound? Sorry Liz!

Thursday November 3, drove southwest to the shipbuilding, boat repair, harbour town of Port Townsend.
Settled at the Point Hudson Marina and RV Park with a view of Port Townsend Bay and Admirality Inlet.
Ed and Kim were here in the spring with friends sailing on a catamaran. They had told us about this quaint town known for its Victorian homes and arts community. Dani would love the shops, restaurants and galleries here. Spent our first afternoon basking in the afternoon sun watching the flow of kayaks, sailboats, cargo ships, local ferry and seabirds.