Sunday, August 13, 2017

Back at the Oregon homestead

Well, our vacation has ended and, despite the good time had by man and beast, I think we are all happy to be back home in Port Orford.

The 975 mile drive from Island Park, Idaho to our little coastal village took only a few days that were mostly without incident.  Our first night on the return trip took us to Twin Falls in Idaho and back into lower elevation heat.  The skyline during the entire return to Oregon, and almost to the coast, was blown out by dense smoke from mostly distant wildfires.  The miles and miles of usually beautiful scenery were covered by a dense brown haze that dissipated only at the crest of the Oregon Coast Range east of Brookings.

Our second day on the road took us along one of my least favorite roads in the US, the eastern end of Highway 20 from Ontario to Burns in Oregon.  The roadway is in decent shape but consists of a constant twisting and turning along a river valley.  In the past we have hauled our fifth wheel trailer behind allowing us  the use of a tag along bathroom.  Let us just say that I was very uncomfortable after well over 140 miles of roadway with no facilities and after multiple morning cups of coffee.  I will readily admit that I killed some sparse roadside plant life during this portion of our travels.

We were greeted in Burns with a temperature of 102 and spent the night in a motel that might not have been infected by bed bugs.  At least I didn't see any.  The place was somewhat run down and the two Beagles were bothered by some aroma that I couldn't detect.....maybe a dead body in the room at some time in the past??  I sure hope not!

The peek-a-boo latch on the door was torn off, obviously by someone kicking in the door and the handle and lock combination was in bad shape.  A couple of bikers in the next room elevated the discomfort level, although wifey and Beagle girls slept through the loud bangs and bumps that lasted most of the night.  I didn't sleep quite as well.........

The third day of travel took us along the arrow straight portion of Highway 20 to Bend, where we turned south on Highway 97 and then west just north of Crater Lake.  We arrived in Central Point (near Medford) during mid afternoon to a balmy 106 degrees.  At this point we really missed the cool weather around Yellowstone and eastern Idaho.

During our overnight stop in Twin Falls, Idaho, I ordered and set up for Saturday pick up a 55" 4K Ultra High Definition TV at the Medford, Oregon Best Buy store.  While Juanita finished packing and preparing the girls for our last day on the road, I drove over to the store and made the pick up at the 10 AM opening time.  I secured the big heavy box just to the rear of the truck cab and returned to the motel to collect my passengers for the 175 mile drive to Port Orford.

We arrived at our little RV home late in the afternoon and happily inhaled the fresh clean Pacific air with a 63 degree temperature showing on my weather station.  Better!!!  I unpacked all of our luggage and we rested a little before a friend of mine arrived to help me take the big 97# boxed TV out of the back of the truck.

Our sixteen days of travel and 3500 miles of roadway had left all of us unscathed by insult or injury....that is, until I tried to shift the big box around in the back of the truck, without help and wearing my sandals.  I realized my bonehead move the instant the box suddenly lurched over the big toe on my left foot, crushing the digit and lifting about 2/3 of the nail from the flesh.  Will I ever learn??  Uh, probably not....................

Anyhow, a week has passed and we have returned to our daily routine.  Juanita is quilting, my friend and I managed to get the TV into the trailer and in place, and I have already scheduled my first of the season salmon fishing trip on the nearby Coquille River.  As for my tender toe, it is slowly healing but I think the toenail will fall off in time.  Oh well, it won't be the first time.

As for the TV, it is fantastic.  NASCAR races never looked so good........................................

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Out of the cooler and into the frying pan

We have had such a fine time in the high country around Yellowstone (the cooler) that it was difficult to drive back into the flatlands of Idaho (the frying pan) today.  We are facing 100+ degree temperatures for the drive back to Port Orford.  Ugh!

On Sunday we took a drive to one of our favorite Montana destinations, the little town of Ennis.  While driving along the Madison River, I stopped at a rest area and unleashed my flying machine to record some video of that beautiful area.  Unfortunately the sky conditions were not great because of smoke from distant wildfires.  I directed the camera for mostly ground shots, which minimized the bright washed out skies.  I also stopped just outside Ennis to complete the video record of the day drive.

Try to use the HD setting if you have the bandwidth

We picked up a little picnic lunch at a local Ennis eatery and found some shade under a tree to enjoy the nice meal.  Our original plan to continue on to Virginia City was set aside so we could drive back along the Madison River and over the old 1959 landslide at Earthquake Lake.  A thunderstorm interrupted any additional attempts to record aerial video, so I took a couple of still shots with my iPhone.

We returned to Yellowstone NP Monday morning to make a loop trip through the Hayden Valley where I was certain that we would find some of the park wildlife.  We weren't disappointed with the outcome and spotted large groups of bison and several young bull elk.  We also encountered the classic Yellowstone animal jams and marveled at the tourist idiocy on display.  One woman, in and out of the passenger seat of a pickup truck in front of us, seemed to have a death wish and was a good candidate for the Darwin Award.

Because the NPS and FAA have banned hobby flying for video purposes inside the park, I used a handheld stabilizer with my iPhone camera to record a little video of our excursion.

We returned to our little cabin in Island Park during mid afternoon so we could avoid the worst of the traffic in the park and rested up from the nice day drive.  Just at the end of a quiet meal we heard a knock on the door of the cabin and, fighting off two out of control hounds, opened up to find a long time (do I dare say old here?) travel friend standing with a big Cheshire Cat grin on his face.  I noted on Facebook that I seldom get got, but I did.  I knew our friends Mike and Sandy Mills were in some part of Montana, but had no idea that they would attempt to put a gotcha on me and pay a visit.  We later joined them at their rolling home at the nearby Valley View RV Park for some fun conversation and treats.  We enjoyed the brief visit and have promised to return the favor when they least expect it.  Payback!

Tuesday was our last day in the area and we decided to keep our travels fairly local after Juanita did some laundry.  After that task was completed we took a drive into Montana along a dusty dirt road and filmed the excursion with my quadcopter camera.  We stopped for a picnic lunch at Hidden Lake (well named) and I recorded a few more aerial clips at the beautiful location.

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, we left Island Park this morning for the 275 mile drive to Twin Falls, Idaho.  The cool motel room was very welcome!  We drove to a nearby burrito joint for a take out dinner after a little rest and a couple of much needed showers.  The nachos and burritos were excellent.

Tomorrow we return to Pacific Daylight Time and will overnight in Burns, Oregon.  We have enjoyed previous trips along this route, but smoky skies promise to diminish the interesting views.  Oh well.

I expect to post again before our return to Port Orford on Saturday...............

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Seven miles for mediocre morning coffee!

Although we really love our little cabin in Island Park, ID, the daily seven mile round trip to pick up two cups of mediocre morning coffee is a bit much.  It was a brisk 42 degrees this morning for my drive to and from Robin's Roost for the purpose of purchasing the life saving liquid.  The early morning light on surrounding ranch land is spectacular and shows promise for another awesome day.

We made the 20 mile drive into West Yellowstone Thursday to purchase a few things needed for the balance of our trip and returned to Island Park to rest a little from the fast paced travel from the SF Bay Area.  It was a beautiful day that ended with the second evening in a row of fantastic mountain thunder storms.  Fairly large hail fell for about 15 minutes and added a crashing roar on the metal roofed cabin in addition to the almost constant thunder.

Friday was laundry day and Juanita was able to take care of everything at the nearby Valley View RV Park and laundromat.  We again spent the afternoon hours lounging on the deck of our little cabin before driving a few miles down the highway to see old friends Steve and Karen.  They are the owners of Beagles Callie and Maddie, who are both related to our two girls.  Maddie is a half sister to Abbey and Luna and Callie is a second cousin, if there is such a thing in the canine world.

In the photo above, our four Beagle scrum is quietly posing with Juanita and Karen.  From left to right....Luna, Abbey, Maddie and Callie.  While we had a good conversation and dinner with our good friends Karen and Steve, Luna kept a good eye on the mountain neighborhood and kept us safe from wild critters.

It was time today for our first drive into Yellowstone NP and I almost dreaded the heavy traffic and horrible animal jams.  Well, my fears were not realized.  The traffic was fairly light and there were no animal jams whatsoever.  The lack of critter sightings causing massive traffic jams was easily explained by the almost total lack of wildlife within sight of park roadways.  We saw only three bison, only one of which was located on or near the highway through the park.  A few geese grazed on river banks...that was it!

Nez Perce Creek is a beautiful Yellowstone waterway.

Luna kept an eye out for invading wild geese.

The light overall traffic in the park today was a little harder to explain.  In past years a Saturday at the end of July would be a nightmare experience.  Not so today, and I have no clue as to why.  We stopped by the Old Faithful Lodge to pick up a few supplies, missing the geyser eruption by minutes. We have seen it many times before.  We stopped off at a couple of our favorite pull outs near hot springs and small geysers and ate lunch at Gibbon Meadows.

We have made dozens of trips into Yellowstone over the years, but have seldom seen a more spectacular day in regards to moderate temperatures, light winds and lack of the usual human swarm.  We had a fine day!

Our plans for tomorrow include a drive over to Ennis, Montana and maybe to the old west town of Virginia City.  We'll see how the day develops.  If weather conditions permit, I would like to do a little aerial photography with my portable quadcopter.

We'll check in with y'all again soon..............................

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

We survived!

We outlasted the swarms of humanity, terrible traffic, dingy skies and hot summer temperatures in California and escaped to Nevada yesterday and Utah today.  Whew!

Juanita had a fair amount of quality time with her family members that were assembled from various locations to celebrate the life of her Mother who passed in July of last year.  My dear wife doesn't do well on boats, but was able to join her family members on her brother's sailboat to spread Mom's ashes in San Francisco Bay as she had requested.

While Juanita was taking care of family business, I kept the Beagle girls happy with walks and a couple of rides away from the motel.  The girls actually do very well in a motel environment, which requires that every noise from the adjoining rooms or hallway needn't push the bark or howl button.  That's not an easy thing for Beagles.

We left the Bay Area early yesterday morning just at the end of the commute and didn't have much trouble during our eastward trek to Winnemucca, NV.  It was fairly warm east of the Sierra's with the temperature falling just short of the century mark.  Early evening thundershowers cooled everything off quite nicely.

A shorter 377 mile drive today brought us to Layton, UT, which is located just south of Ogden.  Highway traffic was fairly light and the temperatures had dropped into the upper 70's to lower 80's....very comfortable for a day drive through NE Nevada and into Utah.

We pulled over at a rest area at the spectacular Bonneville Salt Flats to dewater both dogs and humans and to take advantage of the windless afternoon to take several aerial photos of the salt plain.  I took the DJI Mavic Pro quadcopter up to an altitude of 300 feet and took about six photos in different directions to capture the beautiful scene.

A bronze plaque located along side I-80 in Nevada provided the humor of the day.  I would think that the group that put this event memorial together would have at least done some editorial review before having it cast.  Apparently not.  Read the last sentence of the story and note the dedication date.

June 7, 6008...Really?

We are fed, the girls have been walked and we are relaxing after a very nice day on the road.  Tomorrow we are off to Island Park, ID and look forward to a week of travel in Yellowstone and surrounding area.  

We'll check back in with y'all again soon.................................

Friday, July 21, 2017

Veni, Vidi, Vici---I came, I saw, I conquered

Well, not so much.  I came to California, I saw the place, but I can only say at this point that I merely survived the experience.

We left Port Orford, OR at 6 AM yesterday morning and, after a series of rest stops to water and walk the dogs and to dewater and walk the humans, we arrived in Dublin, CA at 6 PM.  Ugh!  I had intended to let Juanita drive some of the way to break up her ride along boredom and to give me some rest from behind the wheel.  Being the macho man that I am, I drove the entire way.  Ugh again.

A "dronie" taken at our first rest stop in Oregon...

At the Sandy Creek covered bridge

Few surprises arose during the drive, except for the substantial remaining snow fields on Mt Shasta in CA and the almost full appearance of Lake Shasta.  The usual assortment of moronic drivers pushed us from the rear (no, I am not a poke-along geezer) and dived in front with death defying moves.  I kept my verbiage civil...not...and didn't make any threatening gestures during these encounters despite the urge to do so.

Just as luck, and timing, would have it, we arrived in the northern part of the SF Bay Area right at rush hour giving validity to our decision to leave the place over eleven years ago.  I can't even comprehend how I put up with this day in and day out insanity for years.  Oh, the humanity!!

After making all the right turns at the right time (memory served me well), we arrived at the LaQuinta Inn in Dublin to rest up a little and feed the pups and ourselves.  Juanita left me with the furry critters to see her daughter for a short time before we all crashed for the night.

Since all family members are still employed and had to work today, Juanita and I decided to visit with our old (or I should say former?) neighbors in Castro Valley.  We spent about four hours with these good friends and found the old neighborhood relatively unchanged except for cosmetics on some homes and degradation of others. 

Unfortunately, during our old neighborhood visit, our little Beagle girl Luna rolled in something very odiferous...I don't even want to know what it was.  As a result, Juanita decided to take the two furry critters over to her daughter's house this evening in order to cleanse the foul creature.  

"Dronie"with our friends Tom and Vicki

I have seen more humanity in just an hour here than I see in Port Orford in a year and would like to say that I can survive the next two days of our California visit with no problem.  I put the chances of that at fifty fifty, but who knows.  By the time of our departure Monday morning, I might be able to proclaim with certainty....Veni, Vidi, Vici.  Or not.

We'll see you down the road...........................

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Port Orford Slim and wifey take a "vacation"

So, I have been missing from the blog scene for a good while now.  I'm not even sure why that has happened, other than the fact that I haven't been especially inspired to write.  I always have something to say about our activities...or lack thereof...and various interesting events, both personal and observed.  A few recent events, however, move me to bring all of our remaining blog friends up to date.

In the no news is good news category, my dear wife Juanita is holding at full remission after the six month long chemo series and subsequent bi-monthly maintenance treatments.  She is healthy, happy and probably much wiser than I.

Both of us began much needed diets in early February with terrific results.  I have lost well over 50# and Juanita nearly 40, allowing me to take the name "Port Orford Slim" in the blog title.

Port Orford Slim

In the other big news department, the owners of Port Orford RV Village took us out of the loop, so to speak, and put us into one of the side permanent spaces in the park.  We purchased the 8' x 8' shed owned by the previous tenant of the space, so Juanita finally has local storage for all of her quilting supplies and I have a shop with an 8' long bench, room for all of my tools and hobby stuff and a Generac 3.6 Kw emergency generator.  A guy couldn't ask for more.  Nor could wifey!

Being placed into a permanent space in the park implies somewhat more than I am willing to concede at this point in life.  I think J is happy to make this spot our home, while I am clinging to the truck keys with some uncertainty about the situation.  As each day passes, however, I am becoming more settled and can most certainly see advantages of making this our home off the road.  We are facing decision time early next year when we will either return to Texas to renew our drivers licenses or become Oregon residents.  Decisions....decisions......

I'm starting to get comfortable here!

Since I last wrote, I have purchased two new drones.  A larger DJI Phantom 4 Pro quadcopter is supplemented with a much smaller and portable DJI Mavic Pro.  Both are very capable photo and video platforms that have already been put to good use.

As to the subject of the title, we are going on a two week long "vacation" beginning Thursday morning.  Yes, we still take vacations, but a vacation for us retired folks is more a departure from daily routine than anything else.  Since the fifth wheel trailer had to be put into this space with a very large shoehorn, we are taking the truck only on the journey that starts with four days with family in the SF Bay Area.  

We will then turn the trusty Chevy east and make a rapid run through Nevada, Utah and Idaho to Yellowstone NP.  A nice small cabin located outside the park in Island Park, ID will provide a roof over our heads while we visit Yellowstone and other favorite places in the area like Ennis and Virginia City in Montana.  

I plan to put the portable drone to good use during this trip and will post some of the results in this blog and on Facebook.  Due to others who have abused the privilege, the FAA and National Park Service prohibit the use of drones in national parks, so ground based photos and videos will have to suffice.

So, as Arnold would say, "Hasta la vista baby".

Friday, June 24, 2016

Hey, I Think I Will Make A Blog Entry

Realizing full well that most, if not all, of our readers have moved on to greener blog pastures, I will post a mega overdue entry anyway.  Our daily, weekly or even monthly activities offer little that would interest many of our friends, family or loyal readers, so I have entered the ultra stealth mode, only to make ourselves visible when there are enough developments to report.

This sunset at our current location in Winchester Bay, Oregon represents one of the notable developments.

One hundred and eighty degrees away from this spectacular scene, a full moonrise was also creating a stunning visual.

The Winchester Bay Marina RV Resort has been a favorite destination of ours for many years now....even before we began full time RV living over ten years ago.  We left Port Orford late last week for a two week "vacation" that includes visits with friends that we met here last year, fresh pies from Kitty's and the Sugar Shack, an afternoon at the annual Reedsport Chainsaw Carving Contest and other local activities and events.  I also brought along my new fat tire bicycle and take daily rides to work off all the pie.  I know, good luck with that!

To get a little "old" news out of the way, Juanita had her last chemotherapy session in early April and was happy with the very positive outcome of 100% remission at this point.  She will need bi-monthly non-chemo maintenance infusions for the next two years and found the first of these treatments completely side effect free. 

 I can't tell you how proud I am of the fortitude that wifey showed during the long six months of treatments.  She kept a positive outlook and big smile on her face despite the endless fatigue and other bothersome side effects.  She's a rock!!

With all of this behind her, Juanita has resumed work on a series of quilts, most of which are still works in progress.  She is looking forward to entering a couple of her quilts in the upcoming show for the 4th of July celebration in Port Orford.

I have continued my routine that I started in October of last year and still do most of the cooking, laundry and shopping.  I really enjoy baking with sourdough and usually make enough to share with friends around the RV park.  Other than that, I keep the cameras in action, both on the ground and in the air with my quadcopter.  Most of my recent aerial work has resulted in still photographs but I have plans for more videos in the near future.

Recent photos:

Cape Blanco State Park in fog

Bandon, Oregon offshore rocks

Port Orford from 400'

Another sunset in Winchester Bay

Offshore rocks south of Gold Beach

Abbey and Luna nose jamming in Port Orford

Garrison Lake in Port Orford

Using my Nikon D-7000, I also made a short video of some spring waterfalls along the Elk River near Port Orford.

After returning to Port Orford later this week, we plan to stay through the summer with a trip to Montana possible before fall sets in.  Since Juanita will have a regular schedule of medical treatments, we will spend another winter in Port Orford with short trips possible when we feel the need.  We don't have any plans to hang up our keys at this point and still have no problems hauling the rolling home here and there on a whim.

Because "grumblings" is part of my blog title, I will leave you with one.  It is a mystery to me how, from over 325 million residents in the US, we could have possibly ended up with two of the most despicable individuals that I could ever imagine as final candidates for President.  Maybe my geezer status is fogging my mind, but I just can't get my head around this.

So much for grumbling...all is well in the Pacific Northwest and I hope to get back to you again soon.  No promises!!