Calgary and preparations to fly to Rochester

Over the Canadian Rockies, past Banff and down the east side into Cochrane AB, just west of Calgary, where we met Dean and Jane at Springhill Campground as planned. They were off at a family gathering and stopped by the coach on their return to the park.  The next day we drove over to Cochrane Ranch for a wee bit of a hike and plenty more talking. 

Jane prepared dinner on their coach that night and we concluded our wonderful reunion.  We hope to see them in the southwest again next winter.  Early in the morning we saw them dive off.

We left for Okotoks ninety minutes south and east.   As we pulled up to the gate of the Country Lane RV Resort, the Hoggs were waiting in their car to escort us the last kilometer and open the gate to the private park they live in when not on the road.  We set up on their friend’s lot and began five days of seeing yet another new city and spending time with good friends.

We started by calling friends of Carol’s brother and sister-in-law and arranging to meet for lunch.  We had a wonderful lunch with plenty of talking and sharing of experiences followed by a driving tour of Calgary and a visit to their home. After returning to the coach we were joined by the Hoggs for Happy Hour and and time to plan the rest of the stay. 

Wednesday we drove into Calgary again after a lovely Vietnamese lunch,walked around the Olympic Plaza the center of the city. We got into the Glenbow Museum where there was a fantastic exhibit of Yousef Karch portraits.  We finally tore ourselves away as they were closing and walked through the +15 back to the car.  In Rochester we call the +15 Skyways – have not yet found out what +15 comes from other than the conjecture that the walkways are 15 feet above the pavement.  The other non metric anachronism is that houses are sized in square feet. 

Another happy hour and dinner and an early departure on Thursday for Rosebud, a very small town east of Calgary on the prairie.  Their website, click here, will provide the details and some history.  We had lunch and then went to the Opera House where we saw a production of A Bright Particular Star (see the web site for plot summary and playwright).  There were only forty in the audience as the weather had been particularly nasty dumping an inch or more of snow on the roads as we drove and it was midweek as the season is just beginning. Five minutes before curtain the lights went out with a crash.  Then stage manager and other backstage people were seen moving around with great haste.  The power had gone out and they resorted to back up power to provide lights.  Eventually they got power from the Fire House generator – fortuitously just next door – and the curtain rose no more than 15 minutes late.  I am not generally tolerant of performances by those who are not professional.  The cast were faculty and students at the Rosebud School of the Arts and they were marvelous.  We thoroughly enjoyed the play, the production and the performances of the cast.  I would return to this theatre for another play if I were in the area.

Our return drive included a stop in Calgary to meet Pat and Bob’s daughter Jenny and son-in-law Art at their home.  We arrived just as they were concluding the sale of a car that had served as Pat and Bob’s tow’d before we knew them and had served the family through two engines.  We were welcomed warmly and had a lovely conversation that included an appearance by Reed, their son, Pat and Bob’s grandson. 

As I write the weather is ugly.  The temperature is in the mid 30’s and it is precipitating on and off.  I would say raining, but there seems to be some harder stuff mixed in with it.  Tomorrow, Saturday the 30th, we will store the coach in a lot next to Country Lane for the two weeks we will be in Rochester.  We will arrive in Rochester late on the first and depart again late afternoon on the 15th.

For those of you who worry about our various maintenance headaches here is a report.  Tony the RV Medic is resident at Country Lane and a friend of the Hoggs.  He spent a couple of hours and resolved our major headache with the leaking sink and installed a new faucet in the kitchen.  Everything inside the coach that is supposed to be dry is dry!  Just as there are things in all of our houses that could be made to work better or differently there are  those things in the coach, but none of them are of any consequence and I will address them as they annoy me.

And we find surprises along the way

The road from Spokane to Calgary portended great scenery some wonderful mountain roads and nothing to totally surprise us.  Our first stop near Bonners Ferry at Blue Lake RV Park had a really scary entrance.   We had been warned that the turn was nearly 180 degrees with a steep descent.  We were not told that a major BNSF rail line crossed the road at the bottom of the descent.  Yup after I pulled off the road to let tailgating traffic through I execute the turn only to find a long freight train across the road.  I was able to get far enough down the grade to let a track work truck join me on the little piece of road.  The campground was just the other side of the tracks, very close, felt I could reach out the window and touch the passing trains.  Neither of us heard a single train all night long.  It is like sleeping at Dockwieler RV park. What 747s?

With an unhurried start in the morning we took a route up the west side of the Canadian Rockies  planning to cross them near Banf.  Since we did not want to go all the way to Calgary (actually Cochrane) in one day and open campgrounds are rare at this time of year we made an early stop in Radium Hot Springs, BC.  The Canyon RV Park is wonderful.  It sits in the bottom of a canyon (surprise!) isolated, yet within walking distance of the town.  Again the descent was very steep but there was no railroad track, only rocky Mountain Sheep grazing on the cliffs beside the road. The park was nearly full and mostly families for the Easter Holiday.  They all quieted down before we needed them to.  As we were checking in the owner suggested we might want to go the the hot springs.  Surprise, a town with the name Radium Hot Springs has them.  Not more than 4 kilometers from our site was and incredible complex with cool springs (30 C) and hot springs (39C – for reference 98.6 F = 37 C). We soaked away what was left of the afternoon in the hot, the cold and the hot tub 40C.  Put that together with my newly butchered haircut (electric razor and some help from Carol) I felt like a new man. 

Saturday with Carol at the helm we climbed over the Rockies on Highway 93 through Banf and on to Springhill Campground in Cochrane just north of Calgary.  To say that we oohed and aahed and oh wowed as we took the drive is an understatement.  I limited myself to very few pictures and here is one:

Hmm, almost looks like a postcard.

One last item.  We have updated the map on the inside of the door with three new states, OR, WA (both planned) and ID somewhat of a surprise.

I know that  is a funny place for Alaska.  Will fix it when we get there.  Oh yes will get to add the Yukon too, as we go.

Still in Spokane – I am not a plumber

Looks like I will need to get an RV plumbing type person in one of these days.  There is a miniscule leak at the connections I made.  I suspect the inlet connector is stressed since the new faucet’s pipes were longer than those on the one I removed.  I am not prepared to rebuild the piping although I am told online that it is easy to do.  I will let $$ do this fix and install a new kitchen faucet as well.  I hate to give in, it looked so simple.  In the mean time we are topping off the freshwater tank and using the onboard pump to provide water.  This way we can take the pressure off the system when it is not in use.  It seems to be leaking about 4 ounces every 12 hours and I have a container catching the drips.  There is another advantage to using the pump and freshwater tank supply, it forces us to refresh that 100 gallon tank and turn the water over so it does not get stale.

My last post, just yesterday, elicited a reminder that our friends the Goldman’s in Rochester have a son Andrew who is on faculty at Gonzaga University.  We have known Andrew since . . . oh I won’t go there, he is the same age as our son Yechiel.  When John and Roz reminded us, we sent email and then established phone contact.  More importantly, in the middle of a very busy end of semester, end of academic year time we were able to get together for a couple of hours on the Gonzaga campus.  We even had a few minutes with Andy’s wife Amy.  We had a marvelous tour of the campus and spent time in the art department gallery and then had a tour of the Bing Crosby Memorabilia Room.  He grew up in Spokane and attended high school and college at Gonzaga. 

Andy got out a map and showed us some interesting points that we had missed for one reason or another.  Life and schedules being what they are we will not be able to get to everything this time.  We will save the list should we get back to Spokane in the future.  Nevertheless we made an immediate trip to Manito Park on South Hill. We stopped and took a walk through the Lilac Garden and the Rose Garden, neither anywhere near in bloom yet and around the duck pond, which looks like a miniature of the lake in Central Park.  It is quite lovely although we did not take time to see all five of the gardens.  Then we zoomed downhill (a local would clearly understand the zoom downhill thing – that road is steep) to the Davenport Hotel which we had driven around and passed without ever stopping.  The restaurants looked scrumptious the meeting and event rooms that were open to public viewing are really grand and the Peacock Bar could give its name sake at the Waldorf Astoria a run for the money, although it appeared far more affordable. 

After that we went back to the coach, put the bikes up on the roof. One of these days I will put the front wheels on and we will ride – haven’t done that in a couple of months.  The weather has been lousy for the most part.  We are planning on rolling down the road into Idaho tomorrow.  It will be a short day because we can be into Canada in about 2 or 3 hours and we don’t plan on that until Friday.

Not sure where the next post will be from.  Probably the Calgary area.  Carol has been busy making plans to see as many of our friends as possible in the 14 days we will have in Rochester. 

Spokane . . . for instance

Not sure why the route changed from right up US 97 to the Canadian border to a run to the east to Spokane WA, but it did.  It may have had something to do with fewer miles and less time in fuel pricier Canada.  It may have been the availability of an Elks Lodge (#228) with an RV park run by The Wheelin’ Elks.  Add to both of the above the opportunity to continue through Idaho and add yet another state to our rapidly filling map and I guess there are enough reasons. 

On the way we stopped at Steamboat Rock State Park just south of Grand Coulee Dam for a couple of nights so we could tour the dam and see the area. 

Got to Spokane on Friday and could not agree on how long we would stay so we paid for three nights.  It is now Tuesday and Carol is doing laundry so we will not be moving before Wednesday.  I have a faucet to replace in the rear sink which if all goes well should take less than an hour.  Well it took almost an hour and I am not sure that it is totally tight, but it will hold.  The pump is not cycling which means any leak is minimal if not just my imagination.

Last night we had a complete Seder for two.  Carol prepared a wonderful meal to which I added chicken to satisfy my craving for meat to make it a feast for me.  We dug out the Haggadot, which we have carried for several years now, and took our time over the entire order.  It was very interesting, but certainly the children and grandchildren were missed. 

As we relaxed after clearing up the remains Carol noticed that the furnace was running and running and blowing cool air.  At 10:30 pm it did not seem likely I would find a service person.  We turned off the furnace, which kept on blowing.  I disconnected the electric and turned off the master power to the coach which did shut the furnace down until I turned the power back on and it resumed blowing, not good.  As I undid the screws to open the furnace compartment, it shut down, at last!  After a brief hesitation, the usual count to 10, I had Carol turn the furnace back on while I held my breath.  The fan resumed blowing and after the usual pause the gas valve opened and the flame ignited.  We did not have a chilly night after all.  There is no good explanation for this heart stopper, but I will have it looked at when we get into an RV service place.

In Spokane we have been to the Post office, to  mail tax stuff to various government entities, toured the river front and attended a play.  Oh yes we also drove to Coeur D’Alene, ID just because we could.  The post office turned into a mess.  They only have General Delivery at the main post office in downtown Spokane.  I had had our mail directed to a branch in Spokane Valley, about 2 miles from the Elks Lodge.  The mail was delivered to the branch and was there on Friday when we went to pick it up, but they would not acknowledge that they had it as they don’t do general delivery there.  We went downtown, but the package had not been transferred there and would not be there until Monday.  Little did I know that the package had a checkbook that would have saved a lot of grief in finalizing my tax payments.  I found that out on Monday after I mailed all the checks and returned to the coach with the still unopened package.  Lesson learned, but I am not sure what the lesson is.

While we wandered downtown Spokane after the post office we found the Loof Carrousel – sorry about the lighting –

and the Spokane Falls Skyride. Had to go on the skyride. More walking around brought us to

which has a companion store “Atticus” which sells goods for a more mature clientele.

Retracing to Portland for just brief paragraph.  We had not been to the northwestern most corner of Oregon by the time we got to Portland and we had wanted to see where Lewis and Clark had wintered so we drove to Astoria OR and then out to Fort Clatsop.  Since it is all reconstructed we did not bother with many pictures, but we did stop to see a demonstration of firing a muzzle loader.

This is a fairly typical shot, nice frame and balance not much interest.  Sometimes you just get lucky with the timing:

Come Drive with Us

I have this desire to see if I can share with you what a day on the road with us is like.  Our plan for the day, Sunday, April 10, was to see as much of the Columbia River Gorge as we could traveling from our campsite in Beaverton, OR to someplace near Yakima Washington.  We chose Yakima because it appeared to be under 200 miles and it is on US 97 which we had decided to take north because of advice from the Hoggs who make this run every year.  Actual total miles came in at 176.4 and total hours on the move were metered at precisely 4 hours by our GPS, all in all an ideal day.

Having determined the beginning and the end we had to fill in the sandwich.  I had noted during my mapping time that the Historic Columbia Gorge Highway branches away from I 84 which parallels the river several times to interesting sights.  Carol and I agreed that if things were going well we would take as many of these side trips as seemed reasonable/comfortable.  The next key questions was where to cross the Columbia River.  This is a non trivial question as there are four bridges, each offering advantages and disadvantages.  We settled on The Dalles Bridge as it is toll free and had no width warnings nor is it subject to high winds as at least one other bridge is.  The Maryhill bridge had been recommended, but it would have meant not driving any of the Washington side of the river.  The final decision of where to spend the night was left open.

With Carol at the wheel for the first two hour shift, we pulled out of the Beaverton Elks Lodge at 9:15 AM and negotiated our way through Sunday traffic in Portland to I 84.  Once clear of the city we decided that the first Historic drive seemed to add too many miles and the prospect of significant mountain driving, we decided to pass and stay on the freeway as the views were quite beautiful from that road.  Further along at Bridal Veil Falls we exited onto the Historic Road and made our way to Wahkeenah Falls for a brief stop along the road and then 1/4 mile further to Multnomah Falls where Carol was able to pull into a turnout that was large enough for the coach and car to be off the road.  I am not posting pictures because there are many on the web taken by people with better equipment and time to wait for the rain to stop and people to get out of their way.  If you come this way, don’t miss these stops.  Ignore the rain and the cold, that is the way most people will see these sights.

We returned to the freeway eventually, some of those bridges were so narrow that Carol had to take the middle of the road, the lanes are not as wide as our coach – a legal 103”.  At Cascade Locks we decided to leave the freeway and get a view of the locks and stop for lunch on board.  The view was not to be.  The only apparent access road has a 12’ height limit sign and we were not about to see if maybe they meant 12’3” which is our “official” height.  We parked in front of the library and had lunch before changing drivers.  My turn!

We decided to take another nine mile side trip on the Historic Road from Mosier to Rowena.  The names are not important unless you want to track us on Google Maps or Google Earth.  Although there was a general warning about vehicles over 50 feet long not being appropriate, we pressed on.  In those nine miles the road climbed high above the river, maybe 2,000 feet and then descended a series of switchbacks and corkscrews that were really breathtaking.  This was all done at speeds less than 20 mph.  There was a bicycle group on the road, fortunately going the other way or I might have had to pull over to let them pass.   After our return to I 84 we were content to continue on to The Dalles (yes that is an intentional T in “The” It is not Dalles it is The Dalles) where we left I 84 for good and Oregon as well as we crossed over to Washington.  We also left the rain and chill behind as we drove on to the Yakima Valley where they claim 300 sunny days a year. 

Our last decision of the day was where to stay the night.  We are low on propane so we wanted a place that could fill our tank, we are cheapskates with many discount arrangements so it had to belong to one of those and after the friendly Elks parking lot we really wanted someplace with a view.  The Yakama Reservation (in the Yakima Valley – go figure) has a large RV park that met all of our requirements.  We pulled in and were greeted by a groundskeeper who said the office was closed, but we could take a space and settled up in the morning.  So here we sit with no idea what we plan on doing in the morning, but we know it will either be interesting and fun or it will be chores and such on the coach that have been ignored for the past month.

I hope you enjoyed riding along.  The four hours of driving encompassed a day of seven hours from departure to arrival.  Not really tiring and our favorite way to cover ground.

Two Air Museums and a Chamber Concert

The short version is while staying at Coyote Rock RV Park south of Lincoln City we drove north and toured the Tillamook Air Museum which is housed in a blimp hangar that is a remnant from WW II – it is LARGE!  It held nine blimps for servicing at once.  There were two of these hangars.

While driving from Lincoln City to Portland we stopped in McMinnville at the Evergreen Air and Space Museum.  The major attraction is The Spruce Goose, the largest wooden airboat ever built.  It is as large as a 747 (of which there is one forming the roof of water park!) It wingspan is 20 feet longer than a football field.  A DC 3 is on the floor tucked in under a wing between the sponson and the body with room to spare. There is also a P 38 WW II twin boom fighter.  I have read extensively about this plane and this is the first I remember ever seeing. 

When we arrived at the Beaverton OR Elks Lodge #1989 We started looking for tickets to the Altenberg Trio which was playing at Lincoln Performance Hall at Portland State University.  Although we could not reach the box office we went on in to town, in heavy traffic 15 minutes, and located the hall and found a place for Thai dinner nearby.  When we returned to the hall it was filling with people and we were able to get seats together, way up near the back, but the hall is so good we were not bothered by the distance.  It was a wonderful concert, Beethoven Trio in D Major, “The Ghost”; Martin Trio of Popular Irish Melodies (it is in French actually); and after the intermission Brahms Trio in B Major Op 8.  Take a deep breath.  From large and small airplanes to large music in a day with a stop off at an Elks Lodge bar for small talk and to register for the RV park. 

The longer version: It has hardly stopped raining, yet.  We had a delightful dry day, mostly, on our run up to Tillamook.  In addition to  the Air Museum we took in the Tillamook Cheese Factory self guided tour.  I remember why I do not usually eat cheese made in vast quantities.  It is all very consistent and has no surprise and no great flavor.  They do not even age it beyond 4 years, and very little of that.

As we circled the scenic loop we parked the car and took a 2 1/2 mile hike on a trail that eventually brought us out onto the beach for the return to the car.  We stopped along the road to watch hang gliders doing their thing including landing almost on top of me.  A bit further along we came to one of the shortest lighthouses ever at 25 feet high.  We returned to the coach tired and ready to have dinner and read.

On a previous day we came out of our campground and instead of turning left to get back to 101 to explore the coast, we turned right and circled inland on a 25 mile search for excitement or least something interesting to see that was not in the guide books.  We founded a hidden Elks Lodge when I pulled off the road to let traffic through and found I had turned into Toledo Lodge facility.  Who knew!  We also found another railroad museum tucked away on Siletz.  It is a leftover from the logging era and the docents may be too.  On yet another day we took a walk on the beach from North Jetty Road in Lincoln City.  Carol wanted me to get a photo of her with a wave washing over the toe of her boots.  I was using her camera.  I will leave the rest to your imagination, the photo I took does not show the aftermath as I was running up to help her regain her footing.

More about our explorations in Portland in my next post.