Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hamilton Mountain Trail and More Water Pump Woes

After we got done working yesterday, we tackled the adjustment screw on the water pump. Jim had to undo the screws holding the pump in place, and managed to get to the adjustment screw. Only a quarter turn clockwise and  now the water pressure is great with no varying pressure like we were having. Only problem was that one of the fittings started leaking after we messed with the pump. After many attempts to tighten it, we still had some minor dripping. Found a water leak detector at True Value in Washouga, WA, a  20+ mile drive. Now we have a small bowl under the fitting and the leak detector under the bed. It does appear as of this afternoon that everything is dry, and the pump is now working properly. Maybe the problem is resolved!

Wanted to ride bikes today but it was extremely windy, so we went back to Beacon Rock State Park and hiked up the Hamilton Mountain Trail about a mile and a half to Rodney Falls and the Pool of Winds. It was the typical Columbia Gorge trail, uphill all the way to the falls, very green and lush, with some nice views of Bonneville Dam and the river. How surprising to find such an interesting pool and waterfalls, unlike any we’ve seen around here. This is the lower part of the trail which continues on another 2.6 miles to the summit of Hamilton Mt. 


We were up on the trail which dead ends at the Pool of Winds, which wasn’t even visible until we climbed up on some rocks and leaned over a railing.


From there you had a great view of the falls and pool. What was so unusual is there is a tree which fell into the water and is leaning against the side of the rocks under the falls. It almost looked like it was growing out of the rocks at the top. As with most of our pictures, you had to be there to really appreciate it.



Checked under the bed when we got back tonight and we are nice and dry, so tomorrow we’re taking a drive to Mt. Hood and taking a day off from RV maintenance. (we hope!)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

“Another Dam Run”

Yesterday the rangers brought the fire truck out to Ft. Cascades so we could have some water to finish cleaning the gazebo and signs before the  big 5K fun run/walk this morning.

P8280053 Here is Jim scrubbing the eaves. For those of you who know how much Jim used to like doing home maintenance and yard work, you would be surprised to know he is actually enjoying the work we’ve been doing here at Bonneville Dam.


“Another Dam Run” is put on by Anna, one of the dam employees who is an avid runner. This year the proceeds went to the Stevenson, WA  High School track team. Logistically, this is a big deal for the dam and security, but everything went off without a hitch. It was drizzling early this morning, which was a concern for people running over the metal bridge and grates on the spillway, but it dried out by run time at 10.  I was stationed at the beginning of the metal bridge before Powerhouse 1, with my “slow” sign.


Luckily everyone made it across with no accidents.

P8290057 Jim got to ride the big yellow school bus to transport gear to the end at Ft. Cascades, then bring people back to their cars at the Fish Hatchery when the run finished.

It was a nice morning, and we were happy to be doing something easy after all the physical work we’ve done the past few days. Our arms got a good workout this week!

So far, no leaks with the new water pump, but it is not working quite as well as the other was before it started leaking. We are going to try the adjustment screw to see if we can tweak it a bit, but that involves holding up the mattress to access the pump and we haven’t had the energy. We’re hoping for  a few quiet days off to do some biking and sightseeing.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Water Pump Saga

I don’t think I mentioned that Jim replaced the water pump in the rig a couple weeks ago. Our original Shurflo Extreme Smart Sensor 5.7 had been acting up off and on for months. These pumps have a history of failing, and many people on the Lazy Daze forum have replaced them numerous times. Supposedly Shurflow finally fixed the problem in the spring of 2008. We bought a replacement last year before we left Pensacola, anticipating a problem in the future. Our old pump was working but occasionally while taking a shower, the water pressure would vary, then turn hot or cold when the pressure came back. It might do this multiple times, or not at all in the course of both of us taking showers. It wasn’t pleasant, so Jim decided to replace the old pump with the new one, which was manufactured in February of ‘08, hoping this would be a good one. We were very excited that the installation wasn’t too bad, and the new pump worked like a charm. Very quiet, steady pressure, no temperature fluctuations. That is until last night! I took a shower and had no problem. Jim got in 5 minutes later and I soon heard a few choice words coming from the shower. The pump was doing the same thing the other one did, and wouldn’t stop. I finally had to go outside and hook up the water hose directly to bypass the pump so Jim could rinse the soap off. Unfortunately the water pressure here is very low, so he still wasn’t a very happy camper.

After work today, he decided to try and make an adjustment to the new pump, which our friend Don did to his and seemed to help. When we raised the mattress to access the pump, there was water under the bed. The new pump had been leaking! Since we exchanged the first defective one for another last week at Camping World, we just went ahead and put the newest one in tonight. So far, we’ve both showered and all is well. We’re keeping our fingers crossed, since this pump was manufactured in July ‘09. But we will be diligently checking for leaks for awhile.

And to add to our fun this evening, I checked the gauges and realized our black tank was 94% full and the gray tank read 100%! Usually there is still room for more, so we didn’t think much about it and continued washing our hands, etc. I noticed a funny smell from the bathroom, and Jim opened the shower door. Gray water was about an inch deep in the stall. The clothes hamper was in there, but it was sitting on top of a throw rug I keep in a plastic bag, so at least the clothes weren’t wet. The rug was soaked, though. Just more clean-up!

We are now sitting down with a beer and glass of wine to unwind. We may have to have more than one after today! Work was good, though, did some more trail work and picked up a little trash. Have some other things on the agenda for the next 2 days. Here’s a picture I took today from one of the trails. This is the back of the dam and powerhouse 2.P8270054 Our neighbors across the street left this morning and we inherited one of their tomato plants. Don’t have much of a green thumb, so I hope I can keep it alive. There are 4 green tomatoes on it so maybe there is hope.


Monday, August 24, 2009

More Work and Play

Saturday we did more trail maintenance and trash pick-up. So far a few of the more interesting things we’ve found are dirty diapers, a couple pair of men’s underwear, lots of candy wrappers, beer cans and bottles, tampon applicators, a used condom and lots of cigarette butts. There are no trash cans so people are supposed to “pack it in, pack it out”, but that doesn’t always happen!

The weather was beautiful as was the scenery in some of the areas we were working, and Jim had to take a few pictures.



Yesterday was a bit cool, so we lazed around in the morning , then took a ride to Starvation Creek, about 12 miles to the east. There are hiking trails and a waterfall, which was beautiful.


We walked a mile to Viento State Park to check out the campgrounds for some friends, but it is sandwiched between the interstate and the railroad tracks. Not a very relaxing setting, even though the park was pretty. The campground was very full, though. It is a popular place for kite boarding , but we only saw a couple even though it was quite windy.

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This morning Jim had a follow up eye appointment after his laser. After talking more with the doctor, he decided not to have his other cataract removed right now.

We then went into downtown Portland and visited at least 5 bike shops, including Performance. Didn’t buy anything except chain lube, but we love looking at bikes, and we were looking at the possibility of getting a different bike rack for the car.

Found a great place for lunch, Laughing Planet Cafe, that has lots of vegetarian options.

Tonight we rode our bikes into North Bonneville, on the Washington side of the river. For a small community, they have done a great job putting bike trails all over the town. We rode 14 miles and could have gone farther but the sun was beginning to go down. We both love our new bikes. They are exactly what we were looking for.

Just a couple nice shots Jim took the other morning from our “backyard”. Haven’t tired of the views yet!

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Eyes, Bikes and Blackberries

It’s been another busy week. Went to Portland Wednesday for Jim to have his YAG laser capsulotomy on his right eye. This is a very common procedure that needs to be done in some cases after cataract surgery. The posterior capsule of the lens that’s left in place after the cataract is removed becomes cloudy, and they just do a few zaps with a laser to make a clear opening. No big deal, he is doing fine and his vision is better. Now he has to decide if he wants the cataract removed in the left eye while we are here. Big decision since it is borderline at this point.

Jim’s bike fork came in Wednesday afternoon, so he attempted to finish putting his bike together. Unfortunately the dealer we got them from didn’t include a manual for the headset, so not knowing exactly which model it was, he tried putting the pieces together but could never get the headset tight. After several calls to the dealer, who mistakenly told Jim a certain piece was just an extra one, he was still unable to get it right. Yesterday morning he got a call from the guy at 8am to tell him he was sorry, but that part did need to go on. It took only 5 minutes to get it right after all the pieces and parts were put on correctly. Needless to say, Jim was a bit frustrated! We rode again last night, though and all is well. His Corvette blue Rans Dynamik is pretty sharp looking!P8200021

Yes, we did work this week. Yesterday we helped clean a big gazebo at Fort Cascades, then in the afternoon worked on cleaning out the waterfalls area near the rangers office and fish hatchery. The previous volunteers did a great job on the upper part and we are now working on the lower area. The big problem surrounding the pond and falls are blackberry vines or canes. They grow to be huge, and spread and take over everything. They are considered to be an invasive species so Bonneville Dam is trying to eradicate them. Would not be so bad except for the giant thorns all over the canes. We look like we lost a cat fight, with all the scratches on our arms and legs!

Today we walked several of the trails and picked up trash and did some trail maintenance, just cutting down limbs and more blackberry canes that were encroaching on the trails. It was in the 70’s today so a perfect day for being outside. Tomorrow we will do more of the same, then we have a few days off. Tonight the volunteers are having a pot luck picnic, so as you can see, we are pretty busy here! It’s been great fun so far and we couldn’t have picked a prettier place.P8080026

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Bikes and Brewery Tour

Yesterday we had to take the car back to Gresham to replace the brake pads under warranty, then did the Wal-Mart thing, and by the time we got back Fed Ex had delivered our bikes. Unfortunately, they forgot to put the front fork in Jim’s, so we only got mine  put together. His fork is due in tomorrow, we hope. This is my shiny new red Rans Street.


We both went for short rides, getting everything adjusted, and it sure is fun. I went for a little longer ride last night, and in order to get out of the project after 5pm, you have to have your ID to open the gate. No problem. I rode around the fish hatchery area and came back to the entrance gate, pulled out my ID, scanned it, but nothing happened. The gate would not open, even on my numerous attempts. Since I had no cell phone with me, I rode around looking for security, and they finally showed up. Guess Jim would have come looking for me eventually.

Today I had a doctor’s appointment in Hood River, 25 miles east of here, so we decided to make a day of it and check out a bike trail and visit the Full Sail Brewery. They give tours on the hour, and we arrived just before 2. We were the only ones there, so we got our own private brewery tour.

Full Sail

Full Sail is an employee owned company, and they are doing very well. The first year they were open,  in 1987, they produced 9,000 gallons of beer. Last year they made 4.3 million gallons, and are planning an expansion in the near future. This is where the bottles are filled, capped and inspected.


And a day’s production. They must have been stacked up at least 20 feet from the basement level.


For those beer drinkers out there, if you ever see Full Sail, be sure to try it. It is sold in 22 states right now. All the beers we tasted were great, and actually the Amber Ale has been one of Jim’s favorites since he first found it in Texas last winter. They also have a pub, and we ate an excellent tempeh sandwich there. The restaurant overlooks the river, and we were hoping to watch the kite and sailboarders but unfortunately there was no wind today. Guess we’ll have to go back another day.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Beacon Rock, WA

The rig didn’t catch fire overnight after Jim’s converter install, so we were very happy this morning. Then I heard this noise coming from the floor near the converter. Jim removed the cover, and determined that the fan blade was hitting something, so he jiggled things around and seemingly got it to stop. It’s always something.

We felt safe enough to leave for a few hours this afternoon to go on a hike. Just a few miles west on the Washington side of the river is Beacon Rock, which we can see from Robins Island, although we took this picture west of the rock.P8160034 The history of the rock is pretty interesting. It was named by Lewis and Clark in 1805, and is supposedly the second biggest rock after Gibraltar at 848 ft tall. It is the core of an ancient volcano and was purchased in 1913 by Henry Biddle just to build a trail to the top. He asked his heirs to give it to the state, which they did in 1935, and it was made into a state park. The trail has 52 switchbacks but is only a mile long so it isn’t real steep.


The views were great, as they’ve been on all the trails we’ve hiked around here.




P8160026 Bonneville Dam is off in the distance but Jim was able to zoom out and get a pretty good shot of the dam and our campground on Robins Island.



As we were heading back to the island, we couldn’t resist getting another picture of the spillway. Rushing water is so mesmerizing!


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Clean Up and a Parade

Yesterday we helped the rangers wash the Suburban and Corps boat to get it ready for the big Skamania County Fair Parade  in Stevenson, WA this morning. Wish I’d have taken some “before” pictures of the boat. It was pretty green before we cleaned it up. It looked great on the street today, though. They were there to promote water safety, so all the rangers wore their life jackets. Not sure why Shawn was dressed as Buddy the Beaver, but he was cute. We went to take pictures.P8150047

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  I had to use the restroom so went looking for one without having to go into a business. Finally saw the signs for public restrooms, and followed them here. I found it a bit strange, but they have a nice bathroom.


Here are some other pictures of  the parade. There is a parade on Pensacola Beach every year during Mardi Gras, and some of the floats and participants reminded us a little of that one.

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This is our favorite picture. Do you think he could become a future leader of our country?P8150034

As if the parade wasn’t enough for one day, we came back and Jim went to work on installing a new super duper battery converter/charger.


Nothing was wrong with the old one, but this is supposed to do a better job. It only took 2 and a half hours and he only cut himself twice. More importantly, it actually seems to be working. I was afraid we’d be without power all weekend until we could get to an RV mechanic on Monday. I should have more faith!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Another Dam Day

Yesterday we had a short day at work,  just some more orientation and a dog rescue. Shortly after we got to the ranger’s office, security called over with a wet dog who followed a transient onto the project.  It had a tag which said his name was Rex. Jennifer recognized it as a dog belonging to a friend in North Bonneville, so we went and got him and drove him a couple miles home. He was a sweetheart, and you could tell he knew he was in trouble. Since it had rained all morning  he was very wet and didn’t smell too good. Turns out one of the kids had let him out off his leash.P8120011

The skies cleared in the afternoon so we moved to a new campsite right across from our original spot. We are better positioned for the wind, and only needed a short run of sewer hose, so maybe that will solve our problem.

We still have a pretty view, but can’t see the river like we could.

P8130025  Today we got a private tour of the project with Ranger Tim. He spent about 5 hours with us, taking us into the powerhouses and showing us the intricacies of the fish management systems. It was fascinating.

One of the powerhouses.P8130028

The control room.P8130027 P8130026

The spillway.P8130038

A close up look at one of the turbines that generates the hydroelectric power.


More turbines. 2 of these were functioning. Due to low water levels in the river, they are not generating as much power right now. Guess this happens every summer during their dry months.


The fish ladders.



If I wasn’t so tired I would go into some of the details about their fish management program. It is incredible what they do to make sure the fish can get around the dam safely. Maybe another post.

We had a bit of excitement in one of the freight elevators in powerhouse 2. We got to our floor but the door wouldn’t open. Luckily we were soon rescued but as Tim was on the emergency phone with the control room, I looked up and saw this graffiti above the elevator door. It gave us a good laugh.


Tonight we attended the volunteer appreciation dinner in Stevenson, WA at the very nice Skamania Lodge. We felt a little funny attending since we are so new, but  everyone is so nice and they genuinely seem to appreciate the help the volunteers provide. We hope we will be a bit more productive soon, since our orientation is about finished. It’s been a great learning experience  and a lot of fun so far.