Back Filling

In the rush to get back to Jojoba Hills I stopped documenting the trip in this blog. I will just fill in some of the detail for those who are interested and for my own record. This post has been gathering dust for a couple of weeks now. Carol is done doctoring for the time being and we are preparing for our next adventures, to be posted soon.

Our first stop after leaving the Mannings was Evergreen Coho SKP Coop in Chimicum WA on the peninsula. We had been looking forward to visiting this northernmost SKP park for some time. However when I entered the address in the Garmin it offered Anderson Hill Road rather than Anderson Lake Road. The difference was Port Orchard rather than Chimicum. We were really enjoying our audio book and didn’t pay close attention when it directed us off 101. We eventually entered the correct address were able to forge on to the park. It is very lovely and quite a contrast to Jojoba Hills being flat and sites being neatly lined up in even rows. The people were all very pleasant and we were made to feel welcome. We ended up in a site with water, but no electric. There was electric on the site but the box was locked! We explored the area going to Port Angeles where we wandered around the town and drifted in and out of shops.

While there I started looking for our next stop. We found ourselves in the high season and it was not getting any easier to get a camping spot. I went to North Whidby Island RV Park and entered their availability search with combined length of 56′ (coach plus Jeep) and turned up nothing available. I tried again with just the 36′ and sure enough found a campsite. Upon arrival I discovered an oops. There was no place on the chosen site for the Jeep 🙁  for a small ($10) extra fee there was parking in a nearby lot.  We drove over to the state park across the street and took a half mile hike to see the bridge from Whidby Island to Fidalgo Island where Anacortes is.

Carol made it up the trail to the bridge

Upon returning from the hike it was clear we needed to get Carol to the ER in Anacortes. We decided to stay put one more day before rolling south to Jojoba Hills.

We took the next day, Saturday, to go into Anacortes where we encountered Shipwreck Day. There were 10 blocks of vendors, many of them from the shops supplying commercial fishing,  selling off surplus, antiquated, new goods for fishing. Also there were vendors with everything else you might imagine. We got so distracted we never made it to the Farmers market on a side street until it was closed. We finished the day with a trip to the Local maritime museum and their paddle wheel snag puller.

This brings us up to the previous post. . . 

Change of plans and Stuff

If you have followed Carol or me on Facebook you know we turned south a few weeks early. Carol has written a review of her excellent experience at Island Hospital ER Anacortes. After a series of walks and hikes it became clear that she needed to see a doctor which lead to our visit to Island Hospital ER in Anacortes. Since we had almost reached the northernmost point of our plan we decided to turn south and get back to Jojoba Hills so we could deal with doctors we know and who know us. 

I have been doing all the driving for this run, unlike out normal routine of 2 hour shifts. As we sit in Sommerville RV Park in Coalinga CA. there is one more 6 hour day ahead of me. We finished our great audio book “Roosevelt’s Confidante: A Maggie Hope Mystery” by Susan Elia MacNeal and will pick out something else for tomorrow.

Today had its ups and downs. We had an easy early departure from the Elks Lodge in Redding CA and rolled on south at a steady 57 to 60 mph. Late in the afternoon we pulled into yet another Rest Area for a bathroom break and walk to stretch the legs. As I was returning from the restroom a trucker accosted me with a tale about a really lucky man who I had to meet. A group of truckers were gathered behind a truck and I was told that one of them had won an unimaginable sum at a casino in Toronto and was handing out $100 bills. I noticed a game of Three Card Monte going on in the group and decided that $100 would cost a lot more. I tried to excuse myself gently, but one of the group was really aggressive and would not take no thank you for an answer. When he laid a hand on my arm I merely stared at his hand and then at him and he released me and began to swear at me and tell me I didn’t belong in the country.  Obviously a full red blooded Trumpista. I hustled Carol on to the coach and rolled before we even had our seat belts done.  

An hour further down the road my TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) sounded an alarm.  Instead of the expected signal loss from a sensor it reported that a tire on the Jeep was losing pressure. A stop on the shoulder of I5 is never an occasion for joy. In this case I determined that the tire had indeed lost 20% of expected pressure. I ran the pressure hose from the front of the coach to the front of the Jeep and reinflated the tire for the remaining 50 mile run to the campground we were headed for in Coalinga CA. On arrival it was already down a couple of PSI. A call to Coach-net, my road service company, resulted in the arrival of a local tire repair guy an hour later. He found a long brad in the tire and was able to remove it and plug the tire. In the mean time one of our Air Conditioners had failed. I located the circuit breaker and reset it and that fixed that for now. Then I tried to wash my hands and determined the water pump was not working. A brief round of trouble shooting located the disconnected power lead. It is still disconnected as I can’t see how to restore it without removing the pump, the connection is on the back side. I connected the hose and we are good for now. 

A sizable glass of Gin over ice led to the beginning of recovery from my trouble shooting efforts. It was followed by a wonderful omelette stuffed with Brussels Sprouts and other goodies and corn bread prepared by Carol, the best RV chef on the road. 

Update from Harrisons to Mannings

The following was written a week ago. We have been on the move pretty much ever since. I  will fill in details in the next post.

We left the very busy campground at Fort Stevens with sites barely big enough for our coach and more kids per site than I could imagine for an easy drive to Kay and John Harrison’s 20 acres of serenity on the Tilton River which they share with 7 other families.

The Tilton River from our door!

Without specific directions it would be very difficult to locate this place 8 miles west of Morton WA. Once there we settled in to one of the sites that was temporarily vacant with the river mere steps from the coach door.

GeeWhiz on Marco’s site

We were welcomed by the Harrisons and their neighbor Kathy and made to feel at home immediately. The quiet is impressive dominated by the sound of the river flowing over rocks and the birds calling. The Bald Eagle regaled us with flights up and down the river seeking readily available meals.


During our stay we had two adventures away from the campsite. We made an all day drive to Mount Rainier NP

Carol and the Mountain
How we like to experience snow

entering from the southwest traversing the park to the southeast exit stopping at Longmere Inn for a lovely lunch and not stopping at Paradise Lodge as the parking for a mile in every direction was full. We returned after Happy Hour and made our own and had dinner in the coach. The next day after breakfast we joined Kay and John in their truck to venture even further to Mount St Helens NP.

The Crater with the new dome rising

This is the site of the 1980 eruption which devastated the area to the north of the mountain and killed 8 people. The views from the Johnston Lookout are incredible and it the dome growing the in center of the crater is plain to see. We stopped at River View Inn (?) for a late lunch on our way back to the coaches. As we entered the driveway we were pleased to note that the pasture had been mowed in preparation for haying. We said our goodbyes to John as he was heading off to play golf early in the morning and waited for the morning to bid Kay and Kathy farewell.

Friday the 13th saw us on the road by mid morning and we took a slight detour to avoid the very narrow one lane bridge – maximum width 9 feet – which we had driven over on our way in. Our arrival at the Mannings was delayed as there was some trouble with communications. After a bit of chasing around we got together and Carol backed the coach up and around into their RV spot where we had water and 30 amp. Our stay included fun time with their daughter and granddaughters and friend Lorna. We had boat rides on Lake Cushman and swimming – refreshing – and I had a delightful time in one of their kayaks.

Flag duty at Manning’s

We drove out to the Olympia National Park where we took a hike on the Staircase Trail.

A walk in the woods
Dick showing Carol something up the river

 The traffic on the narrow dirt road was incredible even into the mid afternoon as hundreds of cars were headed out to spots along the lake. It seemed there were far more vehicles then available parking. We were happy to get tucked back into the house by the lake where Dick and I took a sunset boat ride while others relaxed following dinner.

As I write we are preparing to head out to the town of Chimacum where Evergreen Coho SKP Coop has a spot reserved for us for the next two nights.

From Friends to Friends

Along the way to our reservation in Fort Stevens State Park we needed three nights to vamp. Using I located a “city” park in Skamokawa WA that had just had a cancellation for one of their prime spots for the nights we needed. That was for July 5,6,7! 

Sweet, private campsite

This very nice park is both a large day use park and an the Columbia River with the main shipping channel just offshore. We explored to Longview WA to the east which has most of the big block stores and very little else to attract us. Getting there we took a bridge and a ferry across the river then proceeded east on the Oregon side crossing back on a bridge to Longview.

Eventually we returned  west on the Washington side of the river. We spotted a tiny museum and pulled in to find one of the volunteers just leaving. We only spent 30 minutes or so learning the history of this tiny niche along the road. Then continued on to the coach.  Back in the park we noted a sign for The Road Kill Saloon across the street so of course we had to walk over and take a look.

We pulled up the jacks on the 8th to take the very long 49 mile drive to Fort Stevens for the site we had been so lucky to get last minute. We stopped at “Dismal Nitch” so named by Lewis and Clarke because here less than a mile upriver from their goal of reaching the Pacific they were held captive by the weather for 6 days. 

Once set up we immediately headed over to the military site to meet up with Diana and George Ruelens who are spending  their summer volunteering giving tours on this 5 Ton Deuce 

I’m not quite sure where they found this driver. 

We have moved on since this post was written and will work on a “catch up” post in the next day or two. 

As I post we are in Evergreen Coho SKP park in Chimacum WA.


Where Was I

Our stay at Bend continued on until Madelyn and Geoff arrived on Friday and we had dinner together at Patrice and Norms place. Great fun, many tales, some tall, were told and we finally left and turned in with plans for more fun on Saturday. 

Saturday we continued to enjoy Deschutes Brewing’s 30th birthday  with a couple of groups in Drake Park – leaving with 4 more hours of music being offered, but we headed out to Sunriver Resort for different music – 60’s Rock in honor of the resorts 50th anniversary. 

Sunday we moved on having scored a site at Port of Newport Marina and RV Park for two nights. Getting there we completed a drive on a new to us section of US 20 from Bend to Newport. This leaves Bend to Yellowstone and Illinois sections of US 20 for us to complete driving the entire route. We have already driven US 1, 15 and US 90 completely. We find this is a way to explore areas we might never otherwise see if we just were going from destination to destination. I have not included any Interstates in the theme as most do not provide easy access to the smaller places off the beaten path. As others have said (including Charles Kuralt) you could drive across the country on any of those roads and at every exit you have to read a sign to figure out where you are, the chains are all lined up across the country at every junction. 

We have been in Newport before and have taken time to catch up with shopping and clean up after a week with no water or sewer hookups. This morning we had an unwanted excitement when the water heater failed. I immediately called Gary at Precision Temp and while waiting for his response the heater resumed working. His diagnoses, when he called, was a glitch that caused a lockout which was unlocked when shutting off the water.  I asked Gary how much longer I could rely on his being there he said through 2019.  And so it goes. We moved to another site in the park for 2 more nights.

We have just secured a place for 2 nights at Fort Stevens where the Ruelens, also from Jojoba Hills, are volunteering giving tours. We are looking forward to seeing them. This trip is beginning to look like visits with friends as we go. Still have a couple of friends to see further along and then family in Vancouver BC. 

We Move On

From the Bay area we headed north toward Ashland OR where we found ourselves in an old campground with rather tight spots for our “modern” 36 foor 4 slide coach. This was Glenyan RV,  It is in the process of change of ownership, will take a look if we come back this way. We were in Ashland for two plays. The matinee was Sense and Sensibility.  We howled. The performance was wonderful and so was the staging. 

We were celebrating our 54th so went to dinner at Peerless Restaurant a 10 minute walk from theater. Had a marvelous meal with proper timing and attention from Justin (that name keeps appearing I know). Then on to the theater for Othello set in the US military with cellphones (which drew giggles from the audience). Iago is not any nicer nor is Othello himself in this setting. Somehow I have never enjoyed an performance or reading of this tragedy. Hamlet is easier to take. 

On to Bend OR where we are as I write. With the help of Tiffen Service I got the correct part from Tiffin Parts and found Coach Master of Bend to do the installation. Everything is working at the moment. Total shop time was an hour! They had the coach for a total of 3 hours. There is more to the story.

While here we have been parked next to Dan and Bev Armstrong at the Elks Lodge and went to Lava Cast Forest with them on Monday

and then on to Crux Fermentation for lunch and some fermented drink.







On Monday Carol and I went out to Newberry Crater where we took the shuttle to the top of Lava Butte,

 yes that is my finger intruding. From there we headed down the road to Obsidian Flow where we climbed the stairs and the trail to the summit

Words cannot do it justice.

We concluded the adventure at Pauline Peak a drive to the summit at 7984 feet most of the road being washboard gravel. 

Some trees actually grow in the field of obsidian and pumice.

I doubt I will ever get tired of snow capped peaks in the distance

and a lake up high in the crater. 

We concluded the day with dinner with Norm and Patrice Sundholm at their home. We packed in food from Costco and our own resources. 

Perils of Paul – reprise

It has been a while since there has been a report of various failures and my attempts, mostly successful, to get us back on the road. 

The latest round started in the campground at Redlands Truck and RV service. Friday late afternoon Dan the service driver brought the coach back to the campground after a day spent servicing the engine and the chassis, this is an annual event. With the coach back in our possession we set up for the night with the leveling jacks extended and the slides extended as usual. 

In the morning the first sign of trouble was the failure of the right front leveling jack to return to the stored position. This is a hydraulic system and the store command merely opens a valve to let the weight of the coach and two strong springs retract the jack. Very simple. Except the valve didn’t open and the jack didn’t store. Not going anyplace in that mode. I tried a couple of things to encourage it, to no avail. A call to Coach-net, the road service I have used for 17 years, brought the hoped for response, eventually they found a mobile tech who could get to us and maybe get us on the road. Justin , of SOS Mobile Truck Service, arrived with his truck and attempted to get it started, to no avail. He resorted to a tactic I had thought of but was not prepared to do. He crawled under the coach and with two wrenches he opened the hydraulic line and let the oil drain into a pan (mostly), mirabila dictu the jack retracted leaving Justin almost stranded under the coach. He squirmed out, after tightening the line and set about restoring the hydraulic fluid level so I could operate the two slide out rooms that depend on the system. End of part One.

A digression: While parked in a truck stop at the pumps I opened the door and a part of the door handle fell on the ground making enough noise that I noticed it. Fortunately nothing was broken, just a screw had come loose. Maybe in my head by then. Two minutes to find an allen wrench of the correct size and it was as good as, well it was in place and working.

Part Two: Arrival at the campground was uneventful, although I cannot use my jacks to level until I get the system repaired. When Carol went to extend the slides the hydraulic slides, which had worked when Justin left us, refused to move. The one mobile tech I reached wanted 3 hours minimum at $159 per. I verified with Tiffiin Motorhomes what fluid I needed and went to the nearest Napa to get the ATF and a funnel. This took two trips as I only bought a quart which was not enough. On my return I bought 2 more quarts of which I needed 8 ounces. The slideout rooms are now extended. 

Another Digression: The last tech to work on our coach at Redlands Truck & RV failed to secure the oil fill cap properly. We arrived with much oil on the front of the Jeep. I took the Jeep to a nearby car wash and many dinero later the car looks like this:


Today and recent past

I know I left this off in Ireland. Short story we spent a week in Dublin during which we saw art galleries, museums and two more visits to the dark side with a visit to the jail where so many IRA members (they were called Volunteers then) were held and executed and then a visit to the cemetery where they are all memorialized and 1.6 million Irish of all beliefs are buried. I consumed my share of Guinness Stout and tasted some more Irish Whiskey – I’ll try to categorize them in another post.

We returned to Jojoba Hills with only the minor mishap of our luggage containing the laundry from the trip being delayed because it couldn’t make the flight we made in Chicago. Thank you United! They delivered it the next day.

Our week in Jojoba Hills was marred by the sudden death of Joe Gibbs, our immediate neighbor on our first site and one of the nicest people we have come to know. Otherwise the week was uneventful, with several Happy Hour gatherings and my playing a fair amount of Bridge

Yesterday we took the coach in for service at Redlands Truck and RV and they got everything we asked for completed in the day allotted and we spent the night in their campground fully expecting to be on the road this morning. It was not to be. Going through the routine we noticed that the right front leveling jack did not retract. I have tried all of my “rituals” to no avail. I suppose I could dance around the rig, but that seems unlikely to help. Naturally it is Saturday and all the Redlands people are enjoying their weekend. Called Coach-net and they are seeking a mobile tech to bail us out. Waiting. . . 

Quick Edit 1:45 PM about 90 minutes later SOS Truck service to the rescue and we are ready to roll.


Returning to the “Troubles” for one more day

How to begin? During the negotiations to bring the conflict to an end certain brave men, drivers of Black Taxis, drove through the gates to carry the negotiators and others to the meetings in the Monastery in the Protestant section. Gates? Protestant section? This was our tour as our Black Taxi driven by one of those brave men showed us where the walls are and drove us through those gates. The walls are still up 20 years later and they are the highest barriers you can begin to imagine. The gates still close at 9 or 10 pm every night. The Protestants, Unionists, feel safer separated by the walls from their Catholic, Republican neighbors and vice versa. There is a third area where there is no separation or walls, that is where the educated and well off people live. They too are either Protestant or Catholic, but they live entwined and they intermarry. 

Murals on the Catholic side of the wall
Mural on the Protestant side
Bonfire being prepared for a date in the Fall

The tour ended at The Felons Club. The credential for membership is  being  an IRA member and having served time in under the British. We sat for over 90 minutes with three men. A Protestant Unionist,  who served 16 years and a Catholic  member of  Sinn Fein who was a member of the IRA and served 17 years of a life sentence, and a British infantry man who served in Belfast during the troubles. These three men who would have been glad to kill each other in 1990 are now able to present there stories to groups like us and to share a friendship that seems unthinkable. None of them think that it is likely to be wide spread in the near future.

Terminology. Unionist wants to remain united with UK (well until Brexit anyhow) Republican wants to reunite Ireland into one country. Ireland is made up of 32 counties. 26 counties make up the Republic of Ireland and 6 are the Irish part of the UK in much the same manner as Scotland and Wales. Just to make it more murky, Ulster is a Province of Ireland and the 6 counties of Northern Ireland comprise 6 of the 8 counties of Ulster. By definition, most Protestants are Unionists and most Catholics are Republicans. They inhale this with their mother’s milk.


A couple of pleasant days

On Tuesday we set out  to see two of the “must see” attractions on the north coast of Ireland,  the Antrim Coast. Our first stop was the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge which extends 70 feet over  the ocean to  a small island that fishermen used to reach further out into the fishery.

The bridge seen from the main land
Carol on the bridge

From there  we went back up the coast to The Giant’s Causeway. This is a product of vulcanism  followed by glaciation. The basalt formed hexagonal pillars which from above look like a tessellation and from the side look like giant pillars.

During the glaciation the retreating glaciers stripped  away any soil leaving the rock formations exposed.  Some of us went with Rowan for a rather extended  hike to a promontory well beyond the Causeway for a different point of view. This brought us back to the Visitor Center where we rejoined those who elected not to take the hike for the ride back to Derry.

Wednesday, today as I write, we retraced much of that route with a pause in Bushmills, the home of the oldest licensed distillery, for relief while we continued on to Belfast with another stop for lunch following a nice walk down to a waterfall in Glennariff Forest Park.

 Fortunately the bus came down to the lodge to pick us up so we didn’t have to climb back up with full stomachs.

You may notice that these images show bright sunlight and even people in summer dress. Yes this is Ireland! the land of cool moist days with rain at least once a day and four seasons every day. The Irish are overheated and hiding from the sun. The tourists, us, are reveling in it.

Seeing the World/Seeing the US