Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bonneville Lock and Dam


We survived our first day at work. Just got our ID badges, car pass, hard hats and gloves, and got to meet a lot of very nice people who work for the Corps. Everyone made us feel very welcome and we are looking forward to actually starting to work.  Jennifer, our volunteer coordinator, drove us around to learn where things are, but on our way to the visitor’s center to get our vests and some other goodies, the truck broke down and we had to get a ride from security back to the office. Since there were no other vehicles right then, we postponed that until tomorrow morning. Then we get to go to the big employee picnic.

Hope it’s a bit cooler tomorrow.  Portland hit 106, a record, both yesterday and today, which has really surprised us. It rarely got into the 100’s in Pensacola!  We did go for a hike yesterday morning before it really heated up. There are trails everywhere around the Columbia Gorge area, some of them just a short distance from Robins Island. We climbed the ridge trail that follows the gorge. What great views of the Columbia River, the dam, and the islands. P7280001 P7280002

This is Robins Island, our temporary home.P7280003

You can see our Lazy Daze in the back row.


This is a view of all 3 islands and the dam. Robins Island is in the far left, on the Oregon side. It is really pretty around here!


Monday, July 27, 2009

Robins Island, Columbia River, Oregon

P7270002  Today we arrived at our new home for 3 months, Robins Island, 40 miles east of Portland on the Columbia River. Many of you already know that we are going to  be Natural Resource volunteers with the Army Corps of Engineers at the Bonneville Lock and Dam through October. We report for orientation Wednesday, so we have one more day before we go back to work. We have high hopes this will be more fun than our real jobs were!

Unfortunately, Oregon is still having a heat wave, so it is around 100 here today. We met one of the other volunteers and he said this was only supposed to last a few days. In fact last Friday he said it was only in the 70’s.

Our site is very nice, with good views of the river and mountains. There are only 7 volunteer sites here, no public campground, so it is very quiet. Having water, electric and sewer at our site for 3 months is going to spoil us. This is a great location, being so close to Portland to the west and Mt. Hood to the east. We hope to explore the area on our days off.


If any of you happen to be near Portland while we are here, let us know. We would love to have visitors!

Another Interesting RV

We saw this Airstream “motor home” at Honeyman State Park, but the owners weren’t around when we walked by. Jim looked it up on the Airstream website, but they don’t even offer this model. Guess it was a custom job.  An Airsteam Bambi was mated to this Sprinter chassis. Looks like they did a great job. Would have liked to see the inside, but went back the next day and they had already left.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Siuslaw National Forest, Central Oregon Coast

Thursday we hiked the Siltcoos Lake trail, a 4 mile loop through the forest that leads to a few hike-in campsites on the lake. It is so green and lush, and some of the trees are huge.P7230001


Yesterday, after moving to a different loop and doing laundry, we drove north up the coast to the Heceta Head Lighthouse. The keepers house is now a bed and breakfast, and it had a wonderful porch overlooking the Pacific.P7240014

Volunteers give tours of the lighthouse, but there were 2 busloads of kids ahead of us and it would have been an hours wait. We passed on the tour and continued up the trail to get a better view of the light at the top.


There was also a scenic overlook a bit farther up, but by the time we got there the fog was so thick, we couldn’t see anything. We did have some nice views on the way down, despite the fog.P7240016 P7240021

These rocks were covered with birds, and the volunteers also had telescopes to view them with. We learned that they are Common Murres, Cormorants, and Western Gulls, for those of you who might be birders. Sorry, they aren’t visible in the photos.



We then drove a few miles farther north to the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. They have a very nice visitor’s center and lots of trails. There was part of a grey whale skeleton on display, and it was mind-boggling to see the size of those bones. We hiked down to the coast to see the tidepools and crashing surf, which was as good or better than the geysers in Yellowstone.P7240075 P7240074 P7240028 P7240055 P7240073

This is called the Spouting Horn. When the waves crash just right, water comes spouting up through a hole in the roof of this cave.


One last picture from an overlook on our way back to the campground. It is really quite lovely here, but a little  too cool for our blood. It was barely 60 this afternoon, and extremely windy. I know, I complain when it’s hot and complain when it’s cold. Hey, what do you expect after being married to Jim for so long?


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Well, the ranger was wrong about the sun. It was misty and cloudy all morning, but finally by 3 the sun came out. We spent a few hours working on various things. Got a new Alltell data card (with unlimited internet), which became Verizon by the time we got it and installed it. That created some major problems but Jim finally got them straightened out and it is working well. He posted on some internet groups to see if anyone would like to take over our old Verizon account, with 13 months remaining on the contract. We hated to pay them $120 to get out of the contract and after calling Verizon found out how easy it is for another person to take it over. Someone on the Lazy Days group was interested, so she gets a free data card, no activation fees, and a 13 month (instead of 2 year) contract. All we had to do was make a phone call to Verizon and give them her name before she called to get the account transferred. We boxed the old data card and accessories and overnighted it to her yesterday. Glad to have that resolved.

I spent a lot of time trying to find us a place to camp for the weekend. We wanted to go a bit farther north but everyplace was booked for the weekend. Even contacted several private RV parks with cable hookups, hoping we could watch the end of the Tour de France this weekend, but no vacancy anywhere. We can understand why everyone heads for the coast this time of year, as hot as it is in the rest of Oregon. Finally decided to check and see if we could just stay here a couple more nights, since there is so much to see in the area. There were 2 sites available for Friday and Saturday, only one of which we could fit in, so tomorrow morning we will be moving to another loop. It’ s even a better site than where we are now, and it will be a short trip.

We went a few miles down 101 to the Waxmyrtle trail, near the campground we were originally going to stay at. The first part of the trail goes through the forest along the Siltcoos River Estuary, then comes out at the coast.P7220006


P7220002 This is a sign we have never seen before. Unfortunately we didn’t see any seals or sea lions, so we weren’t tempted to disturb them!P7220007

We got to walk along the Pacific beach for the first time ever. It was cold and windy and foggy and the sand is brown. We are spoiled from living in Pensacola for so many years with the beautiful white sand. It appeared to be low tide, and it was amazing how far out the water was from the water line. Also, the surf was much more impressive than the Gulf.


We spotted this huge jellyfish far out of the water, and it still appeared to be moving. I found a piece of driftwood and Jim picked it up to put it back in the ocean.P7220009


I didn’t have the camera out when he dropped it before he got to the water. It probably didn’t survive the fall, but we tried!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Good News

Our visit to Henderson’s in Grant’s Pass went well. The rig did need an alignment and camber kit, which was not unexpected since we had some uneven tire wear. Other than that, everything else was fine. Since it was 102 degrees outside when we got to Grant’s Pass, it was nice to be able to park at Henderson’s lot and plug into power. We also ate dinner at Wild River Brewing and Pizza Co. and had their pizza and beer, which were both excellent.

Got finished  at Henderson’s by noon, and with another day of triple digits in store,  headed for the coast and some cooler weather. We definitely found it. By the time we got to Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, it was in the 60’s and foggy. There are numerous forest service campgrounds and that is where we planned on staying. We drove through and looked at a couple and they were very nice. Hardly anyone at either one of them. Stopped to pick up a registration envelope and saw they are charging $20/night for sites with no hook-ups. We knew the generator would be getting a lot of use since the sites were very wooded and we wouldn’t get much solar charging even if the sun came out, so I called Jessie Honeyman State Park, a few miles up 101, and they had a few power sites left for $22. For such a huge park (350 sites), we actually got a nice private one on an end, and are happy to be able to plug into power.


I think the National Park and Forest Service will soon price themselves out of the market. It wouldn’t be so bad if we had the “geezer card”, which gives you half price, but it will be a couple more years before Jim is an official geezer and can qualify for one.

We took a walk around the campground and took a trail to the dunes last night, but forgot the camera. They are huge, and many of the people camped here have numerous ATV’s and dune buggies. Luckily our site is away from the area they allow you to ride, because it was quite noisy on that side of the campground. 

Where we came onto Hwy 101 at Reedsport, the road is inland some, so we are looking forward to taking a ride and seeing the Pacific today.  The ranger told us the weather forecast was predicting some sun in the morning but fog by early afternoon. It’s not looking too promising, but it is pretty here anyway and we don’t have to use the AC.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

More Crater Lake

This is our last day here, so we went back to the park to hike the Cleetwood Cove trail, the only trail which actually goes down to the lake. It also goes to the dock where the boat tours depart . The boat tour was sold out for the day, but we weren’t planning on taking it anyway,  just wanted to do the hike. It is a 1.1 mile trail of fairly steep switchbacks. Many of the people coming up didn’t look too happy. You are actually allowed to swim in the lake at the bottom of the trail, and we saw a few people in the water.  The surface temperature can get to the 60’s, but below 200 feet it is a constant 38 degrees year round.


It was a beautiful walk down (and up) with lake views the whole way. We just appreciated them more going down when we could breathe a little easier.



The water is so blue because of it’s depth (1943 feet at the deepest point), and it’s clarity. It is truly amazing.P7190006  This is at the lake level. A nice young ranger woman asked if we wanted our picture taken together, so here it is.P7190011

Tomorrow we’re off to Grant’s Pass. We have an appointment Tuesday at Henderson’s Line-Up, an RV service center with a great reputation, to get some things checked out. Not having any problems that we know of, but since this is our home, we want to be safe. At least they have a spot there where we can spend the night, with an electric hookup.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

P7200002   We are staying at Broken Arrow, an Umpqua National Forest Service campground just 4 miles north of the north entrance to Crater Lake National Park. Decided not to stay in the national park, since non-hookup sites are $27/night, and the campground is not that close to the rim, anyway.  Here they charge $11, and there are nice bathrooms and showers. It is a nicely wooded campground, but it is mosquito time, so there is no going outside without the Off!

We visited Crater Lake for the first time yesterday, and we both agree it is much more impressive than we would have thought. After all, it is just a lake, and how many of those have we seen? Well, none like this. It is truly breathtaking the first time you lay eyes on it, and every time thereafter.


We hiked along the rim yesterday, and today  drove the east rim and hiked to Garfield Peak, a 3.4 mile round trip hike up to the peak. The views were spectacular from everywhere. Here are some pictures from the hikes and drive. Need I say more?

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The lodge and Rim Village.P7180058

These are the “pinnacles”, which we saw along the east rim drive. They are volcanic fumaroles, which vented the gases from the volcanic activity here over 7000 years ago.


There was still snow on part of the Garfield trail near the top.


And this guy was slowly melting away as we sat and soaked up the views at the peak.