Monday, October 26, 2009

Our Last Week at Bonneville Dam

Hard to believe 3 months have passed by already.  Just a few more days to work, and by this time next week we will either be on the road or already on the Oregon coast, depending on when we leave. Today the weather is dreadful. It is raining, windy and only in the 50’s and dropping.

Last week turned out better than expected, and we actually had a couple beautiful days with sun and the 60’s. The Columbia Gorge is lovely in the fall when the skies are blue. We will miss it here, and definitely want to come back. The building to the right is the Robins Island picnic shelter, and our laundry room, which I will miss the most!PA240035

We actually finished the 2 projects we’ve been working on here at the dam. Jim finally got the chain saw started, with a little help from one of the strong, young rangers, and we finished cutting the trees at the Juvenile Fish Monitoring Facility. This is Jim in his Halloween costume. Pretty scary!


Before and after.  No more fir trees!PA030033 PA050042

On Saturday we finished the blackberry cleanup by the waterfall and pond. Much to our pleasant surprise, when we came back to the site after hauling off another truckload of vines, three of the rangers were out there working.  Not sure if we would have had the energy to finish it up that day if not for their help.


We uncovered 2 manhole covers, a couple sprinkler heads, an underground yellow jacket nest, a couple more trees and the creek. They say they are planning to bring out the DR and clean it up a bit, then put a couple picnic tables there.  It is now unofficially named Cummings Landing.  We are happy to have accomplished this, and all this physical labor has really improved our upper body strength. PA240041

We took Debbie to our favorite trail on the dam project at Fort Cascades.  We hadn’t taken any pictures of it before, although we’ve walked it many times. The area was flooded in 1894, which left giant boulders that are now covered with moss and ferns. It is a beautiful place.




We feel very fortunate that we got the opportunity to volunteer here at Bonneville Dam, but we are looking forward to being irresponsible again for awhile, and anxious to get to southern California and hopefully some warmer weather!

Monday, October 19, 2009

At a Loss for Words

PA190033  Just last night I was thinking that I probably wouldn’t have much to say on the blog over the next week or so since we are getting close to the end of our time here and haven’t been doing anything very exciting due to weather and being tired from work.

I shouldn’t think so much! This  morning at 6:45 we were rudely awakened by an electronic beeping sound. Jim checked our digital watches. which were quiet, and the sound persisted. It was hard to tell where it was coming from, and then it dawned on us that it was the water leak detector under the bed. Yes, water pump #4, the new model that was more reliable,  seemed to be leaking at one of the compression fittings.  Since they should only be hand tightened, Jim was able to tighten it just a bit, but it still continued to leak.  What was even more disturbing was that we didn’t even have the power on to the pump.  Last week we decided to hook up to the city water even though the pressure was low, to avoid having to fill the tank in the cold and rain. So this meant no water unless we could fix the leak or replace the pump again. We had an extra compression fitting, so after talking to his good buddy at ShurFlo,  Jim removed the old one and replaced it with the new fitting.  Unfortunately it still leaked, so they are sending us a new pump.  Luckily we had a spare 5.7, the kind that failed 3 times before. So after a few hours wasted again working on the pump, we now have a working 5.7.  We both took showers tonight and so far so good. At this point we have no hopes for it lasting, but maybe we’ll get lucky.

We did go on another Gorge hike this afternoon to relieve some stress from the water pump issue, and took a wrong trail so never made it to the falls we were trying to find. It was a beautiful hike, though very steep at times. Here are a few pictures. Since we promised Debbie a waterfall, we stopped at the big one, Multnomah, for an ice cream cone and so she could say she’d been there.PA190045 PA190037 PA190044

On the way home, Jim took a little detour to a town called Warrendale, right on the Columbia River. There were only a handful of houses on 2 dead end streets. This was a lovely big house, but I guess the owners got tired of gawkers like us driving by. If you click on the image to enlarge it, the effect is even better.PA190049 PA190048

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Warmer Weather

Luckily, the weather improved a bit and it warmed up. Still having some rain off and on, but very little today.

Yesterday we went back to Hood River for Jim’s one week follow up after his dental implant. The dentist said he was doing great, and he didn’t need to come back unless the implant seemed to be getting loose, which indicates a failure, of course. I’m being optimistic that won’t happen.  He now has to wait 4-6 months for a crown to be put on, but that will have to be done elsewhere.  Jim thinks he’s pretty cool now that he has a titanium stud in his head.

Today we worked some more on pulling out blackberry cane from the area near the waterfall and pond we’ve been working on. It is really beginning to look nice, and we have the scratches to prove it.PA150038 PA150033 PA150034

Jim will be 60 tomorrow. He is having a problem with this milestone, since he’s worried about what  other body parts he might lose during his next decade of life. And I’m worried because I’ll be the one taking care of him!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Looks like we’re staying here a few weeks too long.  Yes, this is accumulated sleet/snow that lasted several hours this morning. The geese didn’t seem to mind, though.




It barely got into the upper 40’s for the highs, and we are having wind gusts to 50mph, but since we didn’t have to work today it was a good chance to head to Portland for some shopping.  Spent several hours walking around Home Depot, Ikea, and Costco. Luckily, Debbie is a Costco member, so that is where we spent the most money stocking up on some things we needed. Unfortunately the weather doesn’t look much drier for the next week, but it is supposed to get a bit warmer.

On a humorous note, one of the volunteers who came in for the month of October was telling us he lived in a remote area in Alaska for 5 years, and during that time he “wintered” in Portland. This sure isn’t a place I would want to winter!  Glad we’ll be heading south in a couple weeks.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mount St. Helens, WA

Jim had his dental implant yesterday and is doing great. He’s had very little discomfort and was told to take it easy for a couple days. So today we took a ride to see Mt. St. Helens, since it is only about 50 miles from here. Of course that is as the crow flies, and the winding roads we took to the nearest viewpoint made it closer to 80 miles, but it was a beautiful, clear day for a drive.PA080036


Most of the route goes through the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest, so it is very remote. We saw maybe a dozen or so other vehicles on the forest roads. We drove to the Windy Ridge viewpoint, which takes you 4 miles from the volcano. It is a great view from the parking lot, but if you climb 361 steps, you can get higher and get a better view of Spirit Lake, which is now full of downed trees from the eruption on May 18, 1980.PA080048


A good number of trees have already grown back, and many of their leaves were changing, which made a pretty contrast to the barren landscape.PA080038

They are predicting 50’s and rain for most of next week, so we’re glad we had a chance to see this on such a clear day. Tomorrow it’s back to work at the dam.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Month of Anniversaries

Hard to believe that one year ago today we left Pensacola to begin this little adventure. It has been a great year, we’ve visited some spectacular places and met lots of nice people along the way. This is a huge country, and we feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface of places we want to see, so we have no plans to put down roots anytime soon. This is a picture of our first night in Alabama on October 6, 2008. I can still remember how excited we were and how hard it was to believe that we were full time RVers.PA070008

We will celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary on October 9th. If we can still be happily married after a year in a 30’ RV then the sky’s the limit!

2 years ago on October 11 we flew to Denver to pick up our new- to -us Lazy Daze, which is what really got us motivated to hit the road. On our 3 day drive back to Florida, we decided we had to figure out a way to quit work and travel while we were still young and healthy enough to really enjoy it. And a year later we did it!

Jim’s 60th birthday is October 16th. Only 2 more years before he qualifies for the “geezer” card, so we, too, can pay half price for campsites in national parks and forests.

One year ago today we had no idea we would be in Oregon in a year.  And we have no idea where we’ll be a year from now. How exciting is that!   A few pictures of where we are today (for 3 more weeks).

PA050039 PA050035 PA050036

Looks like we have quite a few excuses to go out for pizza and beer this month. If only Jim is able to chew after his dental work!

I thought it appropriate to include the following quote. It is taken from the autobiography of Sterling Hayden entitled Wanderer. It pretty much sums up our feelings of what we would aspire to.

“To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea... cruising, it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about. "I've always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can't afford it." What these men can't afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of security. And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine - and before we know it our lives are gone. What does a man need - really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in - and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That's all - in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade. The years thunder by, the dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed. Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?”

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fall on the Columbia


Just this past week we’ve been noticing that some of the trees are changing color. Not surprising since the temperatures have dropped and we’ve had quite a bit of rain. Guess that’s fall in the northwest. We’ve managed to work around the showers,  and did some more blackberry removal and tree cutting this week.

Unfortunately, October 1 was the beginning of sturgeon fishing season. They are allowed to keep them on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and our quiet island has been full of cars and fishermen the past 3 days. Which wouldn’t be so bad but many of them tend to think it’s fine to leave their trash all over the parking lots and trails to the river. We’ve picked up several large trash bags full already.  This is not our favorite part of the job, and we both say “idiots” (or worse) quite a bit. Here is a picture of some of them. Yes, some of our good friends are big fishermen (hi Jimmy and Rick!) but I know they wouldn’t throw their garbage all over the place.


Jim has been having some intermittent tooth pain, and went to a dentist Wednesday. He may need to have another tooth pulled, but it is feeling better so he is going to put that off. He has an appointment  next week, though, to get a dental implant where he had the tooth pulled in February. He was debating on what to do, but the tooth that may have to be pulled is on the other side, and he doesn’t think he can eat with missing teeth on both sides. Between eyes and teeth, he sure has been high maintenance, but I think I’ll keep him anyway.