Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New Water Pump

Jim got the new ShurFlo 4008 water pump installed yesterday, and so far it is working great and is giving us plenty of water pressure. It is much smaller and lighter than the 5.7, we suspect due to the fact that it is not a variable speed pump.

P9280053 [640x480] We’re also hoping the unreliability of the 5.7 is related to the complexity of the variable speed feature, and this new pump is a simpler design. The ShurFlo rep Jim has been dealing with said they have sent out about 500 of these so far and don’t seem to be having any issues with them. He wants us to report back later with how it is working for us. Pretty good customer service, and they don’t even want us to send the defective one back.

We have been having some unseasonably warm and dry weather, but I think it has come to an end. It rained a little last night, and more is projected for today. Our high is only going to be 60 today, much cooler than it’s been. October may be a long month here if we don’t see much sun, but maybe we’ll get lucky.

Hiked the Eagle Creek trail again to Punchbowl Falls yesterday. We did the same hike in early August but forgot how beautiful it was. Jim got better pictures this time, and we didn’t have the crowds of people on the trail we had the first time.


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I finally got a picture of Debbie in her vest. Tried to get a candid shot as she got out of the car, but I think she saw me.


Here is a better one, after I got her to pose in front of her pretty red Lazy Daze.P9270039

Friday, September 25, 2009

National Public Lands Day

Tomorrow is National Public Lands Day, and in honor of the day, a group of 6th graders from Dallesport took a field trip to Bonneville Dam yesterday to plant 130 trees on Hamilton Island. Yes, our job was to assist, mainly getting things set up for lunch and cleaning up. They started out at Tanner Creek to look at the salmon heading upstream to spawn, and we went along to take pictures. The kids were really excited seeing the fish trying to swim against the current.P9240043 P9240044 P9240054Next they were taken to Hamilton Island, where they were given some tree planting instruction by Rangers Claudia and Tim.P9240064 We took a few more pictures, then left to run into Stevenson, WA, where we picked up several giant Subway sandwiches and went back to the Washington Visitor’s Center to set up the luncheon. P9240067 They have a really nice fish viewing area, so the kids got to sit and eat lunch and watch more fish. Tim talked to them again about the Dam, the Army Corps and what they do, and took questions. We were impressed with how well behaved they were, and they really seemed excited to be here.P9240070

P9240071 So guess what we got to do today? Yes, we went back to Hamilton Island to reposition many of the stakes and covers and put more mulch around the saplings. All 130 of them! Tim brought over the fire truck to water them again, since last year only about a quarter of the trees the kids planted survived. Maybe they will do better this time! Here is a picture of the “graveyard”. I hope if we come back here in a few years it will look more like a forest.P9250044

Our friend Debbie arrived yesterday after traveling with her brother from Minneapolis the last couple weeks. He flew back to MN Wednesday, and she was going to spend a week here. As it turned out, the Dam was looking for more volunteers for the Visitor’s Center, she applied, we put in a good word for her, and she started training today! She will stay until the end of October, also.

And a note to Debbie’s mom: I tried to take her picture with her volunteer vest on when she got home today, but she wouldn’t let me. I promise we will get one soon and post it here for you!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Historic Columbia River Hwy State Trail, Hood River, OR

Went back to Hood River today for Jim to have some fasting blood work and for me to have my annual mammogram. We decided to take our bikes and go for a ride on the Historic Columbia River Hwy State Trail, a 5 mile restored section of the original road that passes through Mosier  Twin Tunnels. P9220043

The road and tunnels were built between 1919-21. After I-84 opened in 1955,  the tunnels were filled in. Former Oregon governor and senator Mark O. Hatfield was instrumental in getting the trail built and the  tunnels opened up in 1995. It was the prettiest bike trail we’ve seen, and unlike the section that’s open near Bonneville Dam,  this trail is so high on the bluffs that the interstate noise is negligible and there are no trains zipping by you. Here are a few shots of the spectacular scenery.

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We got a message today while we were on the bikes that our new water pump has been shipped and is to arrive tomorrow. Guess what we’ll be installing after work ?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dry Creek Falls, OR


Today we hiked a small portion of the Pacific Crest Trail  from Cascade Locks to Dry Creek Falls. The PCT is a 2650 mile hiking trail from Mexico to Canada, passing through California, Oregon, and Washington.  We have seen quite a few hikers in the town of Cascade Locks since the trail passes through and it is a place to get a shower  and restock. The post office even has a log book for hikers to leave messages to friends or just share their thoughts. We only went 2.3 miles to the falls, but we probably added another half mile by taking a wrong turn and getting lost. One would think a trail like this would be well marked, but a major turn-off had no signs, and of course with a 50-50 chance, we went the wrong way. It was a beautiful trail, though, and the hiking guide said the falls were one of the least visited in the Gorge.  We guessed that is because we aren’t the only ones who take the wrong trail but never realize it and then are too tired to go back and find the falls.

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The apparatus in the foreground is the remains of a dam. Apparently Dry Creek used to provide water to the town of Cascade Locks many years ago.P9210038

There was a huge pool at the bottom of the falls, and on hot days I’m sure hikers cool off in the  icy water. P9210043

And just a quick update on the water pump. Jim called ShurFlo today to get a tracking number for the new pump he thought they were sending. Turns out the woman he spoke with was not going to ship another until we sent the defective one back, which was not what Jim understood.  And the one she was supposed to ship is on back order anyway, so  the guy he talked with today is sending us a new model with lower flow that is supposed to be more reliable. And the saga continues….

Sunday, September 20, 2009

More Water Pump Woes and Hard Labor

A few days ago, Shurflo Extreme Series 5.7 pump #3 failed. This time it just stopped pumping water completely, no leaking or surging pressure.  Of course it had to happen with Jim in the shower, just after I had taken one with no problem. Before he replaced it with our new spare, Jim decided to call Shurflo. The woman he spoke with made a suggestion that maybe the 5.7 was too much pump for the needs of  our rig, so she is sending us a replacement 4.0 pump. It doesn’t put out quite as much water pressure, so we will see how this one works. If we get adequate pressure to take showers, and it lasts longer than a few weeks, we’ll be satisfied.

Friday we worked some more on the waterfall and pond area along the fish hatchery trail, cutting out another truckload of blackberry cane. Jim got to talking to a guy last week about using welder’s gloves to pull the vines, and Jennifer kindly got us some. What a huge difference! The thorns don’t go through like they did with the leather gloves and they cover farther up  on our arms. We are learning as we go along. Here’s a couple before and after photos of where we’re working.



 P9180044P9180045  It’s a bit hard to tell, but we are exposing more water and rocks every time we work.

Saturday, we went back to the Juvenile Fish Monitoring Facility, where we are undertaking another big project. Unfortunately, a number of  Douglas fir trees  and other plants have grown up around the chutes where the fish come in (or out, I can’t remember which). Anyway, we are having to remove them, which is quite a chore since some of them are fairly tall. It was drizzling so we got pretty wet and dirty, but we put a dent in the job, with Jennifer’s help.

Today we broke camp and drove the rig to the nearest  Lowe’s and Super Wal-Mart, 25 miles west of here. We haven’t had it out on the road since we arrived here a couple months ago, and it needed to go for a ride. No problems and it sure was nice having the refrigerator right there when we came out with all the groceries!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Columbia Hills State Park, WA

Yesterday we got to go with some of the rangers to Columbia Hills State Park,  about 50 miles from here, just past The Dalles on the Washington side of the river.  It was cultural resource training for the rangers, and we went along for some education and rock art viewing.


We’ve been to a couple different petroglyph sites in Texas and New Mexico, and taken guided tours, but this was the best so far. The ranger who guided us was a very interesting speaker, and he gave us a lot of insight into the thought processes of the Native Americans and told us some of their legends regarding the petroglyphs and pictographs.

There are 2 areas of rock art, the first of which is a paved trail with chunks of rock displayed behind a wooden fence. P9160042 These were cut out of “Petroglyph Canyon”, a large area of petroglyphs that was flooded when The Dalles dam was built. The canyon is now underwater near the butte in the far left of this photo.P9160055

Here are some of the petroglyphs on display.

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We then hiked up a short trail to some pictographs, which were painted on rather than etched in the rock. You can only get to these on a guided tour in order to cut down on vandalism.P9160057

At the end of the trail is a famous one called “She Who Watches”. 



Here is the legend similar to the story the ranger told us.  If you google “She Who Watches”, you can read other legends that are a bit different from this one.

Legend of Tsagaglalal
(pronounced �tsa-ga-gla-lal� and meaning �She-Who-Watches�)

A women had a house where the village of Nixluidix was later built. She was chief of all who lived in the region. That was a long time before Coyote came up the river and changed things and people were not yet real people.
After a time, Coyote, in his travels, came to this place and asked the inhabitants if they were well or ill. They sent him to their Chief who lived up on the rocks, where she could look down on the village and know what was going on.
Coyote climbed up to the house on the rocks & asked, "What kind of living do you give these people? Do you treat them well or are you one of those evil women?"
"I am teaching them to live well and build good houses," she said.
"Soon the world will change," said Coyote, "and women will no long be chiefs." Then he changed her into a rock with the command, "You shall stay here & watch over the people who live here."
All the people know that Tsagaglalal sees all things, for whenever they are looking at her those large eyes are watching them.
-Stone Age on the Columbia River by Emory Strong 1959

Her image is on a bluff overlooking the Columbia, so if you have to get turned into stone, at least this is a beautiful spot to be watching over for eternity!P9160062

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hood River, OR

Our friends left today, so we spent yesterday trying to get in a few more of the sights in the area.  Jim and I had appointments in Hood River for our annual physicals, so Roger and Mary Jo went along for the ride, and wandered the downtown shops for an hour while we were at the doctor’s office.  Since they were staying in Stevenson, we drove along the Columbia on Hwy 14, on the Washington side. Caught this train coming through the tunnel as we passed. It looked like there was barely enough room for it to fit through.


We crossed the Hood River Bridge into Oregon for the first time. This is the view of town and Mt. Hood from the bridge.P9150036

We then drove up to Panorama Point to see the view of Mt. Hood, as it was a fairly clear day.P9150037

Then we drove part of the “Fruit Loop”, a back roads route that takes you by numerous orchards and wineries. We bought some more of those wonderful red pears, and did a wine tasting at one of the wineries.

On our way home, they decided they wanted to take the hike up Beacon Rock, so we came back and changed shoes and made the climb.  It was a beautiful evening and there were only a few other people on the trail, unlike the first time we went there.

We capped off the day with dinner at Big River Grill in Stevenson, a place we’ve been wanting to try.  They make a great veggie burger, and Roger enjoyed the prime rib.  The owner, Joe Schlick, has an interesting history.  He pioneered the first municipal Wi-Fi in the country, and got the city to fund it.  So anyone can log on for free WiFi anywhere in downtown Stevenson.

Our vacation came to an end, and we had to go back to work today, but we really had a great time playing tour guide for a few days.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler

We finally took a ride on the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler, after seeing and hearing it many times since we’ve been at Bonneville Dam.P9140035

It leaves out of Cascade Locks,  just a few miles from the dam. We just took a 2 hour excursion cruise, but they also offer lunch and dinner cruises, and longer ones that actually take you through the lock. It’s a triple deck paddle wheeler, and we spent the 2 hours on the upper deck.



This morning started out drizzly and foggy, but the clouds cleared up and we had a great day for a river cruise.  This is the coastline of Stevenson, WA.


The Bridge of the Gods, the only river crossing between Portland and Hood River.


And a barge we saw heading for the locks. P9140046

We then went for a hike on the Ft. Cascades trail on the dam project, then our friends went back to Stevenson to check into Columbia Gorge Riverside Lodge for the next couple nights. We went back to the rig and Jim installed a new adjustable thermostat on our hot water heater. It only took him a few minutes, and now we won’t burn ourselves on 140 degree water. Amazingly, he’s becoming quite the handyman!