09-22-2021 The Best Laid Plans

This will be a rather short post, with no photos.  Our plans for the day included breakfast at the wonderful Capitol Reef Inn and Cafe, but when we arrived at 8am there was a closed sign on the door saying they were closed for the day due to lack of staff.  glitch number one.

Instead we found a restaurant connected with a hotel east of Torrey, the Pioneer Kitchen, and in spite of the busload of tourists that were finishing up breakfast, we had a table in a short time.  The breakfast and service were decent too, but it didn’t have the ambience of Capitol Reef Inn.

The next plan for the day was for Dan to install the brake pads that Mo and I drove to Loa to buy yesterday afternoon.  Long story short, we knew the brakes on the MoHo were making funny noises and managed to get an appointment at Les Schwab to have them checked.  They rotated the tires and charged us for checking the brakes.  They said they were fine. We chose them because most other shops in Grants Pass had either no lifts big enough for a motorhome, or a wait of weeks to months for an appointment.  Les Schwab said the brakes all checked out fine.

On the trip, the brake sounds were getting noisier than ever, and thought maybe it was blowing sand that was in the brake lining.Once we arrived here on Monday afternoon we had Dan drive the MoHo and listen. Yeah…worn out pads grinding the rotors.  Sigh.  Of course there was no one within 200 miles that could work on the brakes in less then two weeks.  Lucky us, Dan agreed to put in the pads and said that if we didn’t replace the rotor we would just have to do the job again when we get home because the pad will wear out quickly.  So we finally found pads in Loa and made the round trip to pick them up.

After breakfast, Dan started working on installing the pads.  Our plan was to get that done, and then pile into his Suzuki for the gorgeous drive over Thousand Lakes Mountain to visit the remote Cathedral Valley portion of Capitol Reef National Park. Instead, Dan worked for hours on the brakes, with problems entailed by not having the right tools.  He and Mo made two trips back to Bicknell for clamps and sockets that would fit.  Not fun.  It was mid afternoon when Dan finished the difficult job.  We also had to try to camouflage the work site because in most parks it is a rule that you not work on vehicles in the park. 

By the time everything was finished, Dan was exhausted, and we nixed the trip to Cathedral Valley.  Hence no photos from this visit to Capitol Reef and Dan and Sherry will have to return to see it. 

In case you have never been there, it is a must see that many people never bother to see.  It requires scheduling and effort.  This time we had a park notification that the Hartnet Road the crosses the Fremont River was closed.  The only access to Cathedral Valley is over Thousand Lakes Mountain.  The roads are high clearance and remote. 

09-20-2021 Baker Nevada to Torrey Utah

I enjoyed driving on this gorgeous clear day

Traveling east through Utah on Highway 50 is pleasant enough, but not nearly as lonely and dramatic as the Nevada portions of the historic highway.  Still, there are some lovely views.  The highway crosses a large flat basin, with many large farms and ranches dotting the landscape.  Highway 50 merges with I-15 for a few miles before continuing east at Scipio.  The mountains were beautiful and crystal clear.

Once we were on Highway 24 the signs for Capitol Reef National Park were posted every few miles.  This is the main route to Capitol Reef from the west. 

We saw what appeared to be a nice rest area on the north side of the highway and were delighted to find plenty of parking for both our rigs, a beautiful view, and a nice picnic table in the shade.  However, the wind made the weather a bit nippy we didn’t linger long.

When approaching Torrey from the west on Highway 24 it is always thrilling to see the first views of Thousand Lakes Mountain.  The mountain looms from 7,000 feet, where the terrain is craggy and rugged, to alpine meadows and forests at its peak elevation of 11,306 feet.  Thousand Lakes Mountain is notably flat at the summit, which offers up expansive views of the Henry and Tushar mountain ranges, Capitol Reef National Park and the Aquarius Plateau.  When the Fremont River crossing that accesses the back roads to Cathedral Valley in Capitol Reef NP, there is another way to get there.  We hope to travel across this mountain sometime during our week in Torrey to see Cathedral Valley.

The first views of red rock cliffs appear a few miles west of Torrey, and while they are beautiful, they are just a tiny taste of what we will see in the next few days as we explore the park.

Dan had made reservations for two sites at Thousand Lakes RV Park many months in advance, and even then there were no sites with full hookups with 50 amp power available.  We were assigned two great sites on the north edge of the park with a gorgeous view and 30 amp power.  We don’t have sewer at our sites, but there are two dumps in the campground. 

The park is quite nice, well maintained and clean, although the sites along this north edge are quite close together.  No matter, since our entry door is very close to our neighbor’s slide, and our neighbors happen to be Dan and Chere

The sites may be close together, but the view from the back of the sites where there are picnic tables and camp fire rings is gorgeous.

Taking Mattie for a short walk around the perimeter of the park I found this lovely desert globe mallow, Sphaeralcea ambigua. Sadly, most of the open land just north of the park is privately owned and walking freely requires driving north to get to BLM land.

We settled in to our sites with plenty of time for me to prepare dinner to share at our table.  I made green chile chicken enchiladas back at home so supper was quick and easy.  Chere and I have discussed sharing responsibility for evening meals on this trip, taking turns and sometimes simply eating on our own.  The plan seems to be working well, and it is nice to have a break from dinner cooking sometimes.

It is great to have a chance to share this place with family and we are all looking forward to the next few days here in Torrey as we explore Capitol Reef National Park.

09-17-2021 The Ending of a Summer

This blog has few words.  We are heading out for some time in Southern Utah red rock country.  My favorite thing.  Of course I will blog about our travels.  However, when I realized I hadn’t written a word about the time between our reunion at South Beach and our Utah departure, I thought I had better at least get something in here.  I know from past experience, when I think I am going to go back and write about some time that I missed, I almost never do.

Smoky smoky smoky.  What can I say.

Once in awhile the winds would blow the smoke away, almost.  The mountains to the north of our home weren’t often visible to us when the smoke was at its worst.

Hot summers mean cool food.  I can’t count the number of chicken cobb salads we had with the award winning Rogue Creamery blue cheese.

Kayaking this year was nearly impossible, with everything local almost empty, and we didn’t bother to try to head over the mountain to Klamath Basin because of the smoke.  Who wants to kayak in low water and smoky skies.

This is what 1 percent full at Hyatt Lake looks like

I joined a local book club.  This was our second get together, outdoors at Schmidt.  Before the big Oregon Covid delta variant surge.  We were all so optimistic about being vaccinated and beating the virus.  Ah well….it goes on, with Josephine County being the worst it has been throughout the entire pandemic. 

Check out the lovely young woman in the red shirt.  Kristin is my “newest” friend.  She reached out for a coffee date and we found we really enjoy someone new to talk to about stuff in general.  Kristin has three of the cutest little girls you could imagine, and a great husband who works at home so she can get a coffee date break every couple weeks or so.  Everyone in the group is interesting in their own way, with lots of diversity here in age and thoughts.  I am enjoying it, although the book was a bit fluffy.

Mo kept busy doing what she does, keeping up the maintenance around Sunset Hous.

Two of my daughters came to visit for an early birthday present, staying the weekend and taking me shopping to our local glass forge for some truly fabulous gifts.  Daughter Melody got in on the fun as well, with a remote purchase to add to the birthday treats.

Mo and I went to the Britt Festival to see Chicago.  Vaccinations and masks required at the outdoor venue.  It was fun, but smoky.  The music was some I don’t remember, and others that brought back memories of my kids listening to the radio in the 80’s.  It was great to get back to Britt though, more for the nostalgia than the actual event.  Mo and I have been going to Britt ever since we met.

We finally decided to add to our deck.  It required moving the plants from the herb bed I planted three years ago from 4 inch pots.

We were lucky to get Joel to do the work for us, same guy who did all the woodwork finishing in our house when we had it built almost 4 years ago.

Old deck was nice enough, but a bit too small to hold enough chairs and the bbq when we have guests

Mattie approves of the addition

Our friends from California, Nevada City, also approve.  Nickie and Jimmy stopped for an overnight on their way to the north coast. 

Yes, I stole the photos of our dinner time at the Taprock Grill.  Love enjoying the deck and view of the Rogue River.

As I said, few words and a fast post with only a few minutes until our departure time.  Edits can come later.


01-13-2021 Surprise Surprise, we go to the Coast Again

Mo has made it an important priority to get out in the MoHo at least once a month.  Weather be danged, we need to go somewhere!  Often our winter getaway begins in late January and includes a week or a month or whatever it takes to get south to the warm deserts.  We had reservations in early February for a trip to Catalina Spa, but with COVID raging in Southern California finally decided that we needed to cancel or at least delay that trip until it feels a bit safer to be traveling to that part of the world.

Site #69 at Bastendorff Beach County Park

We can stay fairly well distanced in the MoHo, but much of what we love to do in the warm deserts while near Palm Springs include dining out, spending time in the pools and the hot tub, and going to the big movie house with wine and comfy recliners.  When I called Catalina I found out that the pools are open, but the spa, restrooms, and all other facilities at the park are closed for now.  Ah well, time to figure out something to do in January since our early February trip is a bust.

Mo spent a bit of time researching coastal locations and parks and found a Coos County park near Coos Bay that sounded interesting.  When I called  Bastendorff Beach County Park the lady on the phone said we probably wouldn’t need a reservation and could waive the $12. reservation fee by just arriving, finding a caretaker, and picking a site.

We loaded up the MoHo in the rain the day before our departure, and planned once again to spend some time at the beach, in spite of the predicted rainy weather. The familiar drive north on I-5 was uneventful.  We stopped for fuel in Canyonville at Seven Feathers since they have the best price around, even less than the Love’s Truck Stop just a few miles north.  Neither of us can figure out why gas is sneaking back up again, and instead of the $2.29 we have been paying it has risen to $2.57 at our local Fred Meyer, and $2.45 at Seven Feathers.  I read some old blogs of mine recently talking about gas being close to $4. a gallon on some of our trips, so the complaint isn’t a huge one, just a bit of a surprise.

Arriving at the park right at 2PM we were a bit lost as we attempted to figure out the process of checking in.  We unhooked the baby car in the big parking lot and then saw a caretaker near the main office/garage and the mechanic took us inside to check for empty spaces. 

Lower campground area at Bastendorff Beach Park

He was surprised that the park was almost filled up beginning Friday night and we planned to stay through Saturday.  Both of us laughed when we looked at the calendar and realized that the upcoming weekend was the 3 day holiday weekend for Martin Luther King Day. We drove through the park a bit, first leaving the MoHo in his recommended site #46 with “an ocean view” before driving up the hill to a sunnier part of the park, minus the view. 

We decided on site #69, long and fairly level, with a table and a firepit in a space that looked like it got lots of sun.  That was important to me for this time at the beach, and the older sites in the lower part of the park were intensely shaded.  It didn’t help that a storm on the previous night had left lots of tree branches and debris all over the camp road, and site 46 while somewhat level was surrounded by mud.

The roads through the park are quite narrow

Settling into our spot, we were quite happy with our choice.  Within a short time we were ready to bundle up and go explore a ‘new to us’ beach.  There are a few narrow roads north of the park that wind toward Coos Head and a Coast Guard facility high on the bluff overlooking the point where the water from Coos Bay enters the ocean. 

There is a rock jetty on each side of the river, with the one by Bastendorff Beach having a paved walking path at the top of the jetty.  With high tide warnings and king tides ongoing this time of year on the Oregon Coast, we knew it wasn’t wise to walk on the jetty.

Instead, we walked down along the path that bordered the BLM off-road area that crisscrossed the sand.  There is no driving on the actual beach, but the off road section seemed quite popular.  There are also no enforced dog leash rules, in spite of what the sign said.  Someone later told me that the rules don’t apply to the hard sand portion of the beach where dogs can run at will.  We let Mattie run a tiny bit that first afternoon.

Heading back home to our cozy spot we settled in with a card game, casting a bit of live news from the phone to the TV, and enjoying a good pre-cooked chile verde supper brought from home.

10-01-2020 Traveling to Northern Washington

Just a mention: be sure to click on the photo if you want to see the larger version in my SmugMug gallery, and if you wish to view the blog on the original blogger platform, where the print is nicer and the photos are bigger, click here.

The MoHo in Site 3 at LePage on the John Day River

I have hesitated a bit in writing this particular blog. I set the posting date for October 6, but today it is actually October 26 and I am finally sitting down to write about our trip. 

Early evening at LePage where the John Day River meets the Columbia

Some might guess the reason for my hesitation.  It was a family visit, one of those gatherings that seem to engender all sorts of responses from all random corners of the internet about social distancing, mask wearing, and staying at home.  I know there will be reactions out there and I really don’t like having to explain myself, but I guess I have to at least try, because I want to write about our trip.  I don’t want an empty spot in the blog that is our personal history.

Late Afternoon on the John Day River

After many months of keeping mostly to ourselves, like others, I suffered from family hunger.  I wanted to see my daughter before winter set in, I wanted to see my grandkids before they have grandchildren of their own, I wanted to see my great-grandkids.  I said to Mo,  “What do you think about a trip to Lincoln to visit Deanna and Keith?”.  As always, Mo was ready for a journey, ready for a trip, and we decided we could take our chances and go visit the family.  In fairness, I talked extensively with Deanna before deciding to go.  At the time, her county in northeastern Washington state had 2, yes, you read that right, 2 cases of COVID and no deaths.  Our county here in Oregon had some of the lowest numbers in our state as well.  My grandson is isolated on his homestead, and my great-grandkids are being schooled at home.  No one seemed to be in any danger of either being sick or being exposed.  Mo and I were clean, the family was clean, and we decided to go. 

Full moon night on the John Day River at LePage

Unlike days in the past, where my blog had a few hundred readers each day, the numbers have reduced considerably since I no longer blog on a regular basis.  The days of blogging the way we used to are definitely waning, but as I had said before, it is the history and the memories that are important to me.  If I were writing only for myself, I would have to make no explanations, but even the few readers I have left will no doubt have some opinions, pro or con, about our choice to travel and visit family.  So, to set the minds of those few readers at ease…it has been 3 weeks now and we are all just fine and still healthy.

We decided to travel the eastern route toward Crater Lake and Highway 97, intercepting I-84 at Biggs Junction on the Columbia River.  It would have been possible to make the trip in a day of long driving, as my daughter Deborah did, but no reason for us to do that.  Instead, we made a reservation at LePage, a campground we are familiar with and have used often.

I was very glad I had made the reservation since the campground was completely full.  It is an easy place to stay for an overnight, and with our geezer pass quite inexpensive with water and electric. The somewhat shocking surprise was the recent clearing of the big old cottonwoods and locust trees that shaded the campground.  It felt quite different, and much more open, but for only a night it wasn’t bad.  On a hot day, I am sure folks would miss those trees, however the newly planted saplings will be more healthy, much safer, and will eventually shade the campsites.

The view from Deanna’s windows

Smoke at varying levels was our constant companion on the trip north, and the murky skies followed us all the way to Davenport.  Once we arrived at daughter Deanna and husband Keith’s property, the smoke cleared a bit.  Our early afternoon arrival was perfect, in time to visit before supper.

Left to Right:  Deanna, Deb, Keith, Mo

Daughter Deborah, and Grandson Matthew had arrived the previous night after driving all day from Southern Oregon.  When we got to Deanna’s everyone was having a great time cooking together and visiting.  Grandson Steven lives about an hour north, and he drove down for dinner as well with my other great-grandson Matthew.  The younger Matt became known as Matt-Two as the weekend wore on.

Theron “Tito”, Tracey, and Tearany “Squish”

On Saturday morning the rest of the family arrived, with Tracey coming from Wenatchee with 3 of my great-grandkids to spend the weekend. 

Keith and Deanna have a dog free house, but they made an exception for Mattie

Grandpa Keith with my great-grandson Orion

Left to right: Keith, Theron, Orion, Tearany, Deanna, Matt-Two

Deanna’s home is on acreage overlooking Roosevelt Lake, and there is a resident herd of bighorn sheep that help themselves to her ripe peaches and apples. 

Notice the pretty orange Kubota tractor.  Keith and Deanna purchased Mo’s trusty Kubota last summer.  We lots of photos of grandkids being driven around by Mo on that tractor when they were small.

We later made a trip back to grandsons Steven’s house to see his beautiful homestead and meet his new sweetheart.  The day was warm and sunny with the skies clearing a bit.  

Grandsons Matthew and Steven

Stormy and Steven at their home

Deanna, Deborah and Mattie checking out the chicken house at Steven’s place

With lots of food and laughter the day just seemed to flow and came to a great conclusion with a late birthday party for me and for Steven, who share the same birthdate, September 15.  It is kind of neat that my first grandchild was born on my 37th birthday.

Great-grandkids decorated our birthday cake

With lots of silliness going on, we laughed a lot at Matt-Two’s interpretation of the yoga moves that Stormy and Steven were directing. 

It was beyond wonderful having the chance to see this part of my family again.  I haven’t visited these great-grandkids for almost 3 years, since Christmas 2018, and I felt like I simply couldn’t wait any longer. I’ll treasure every single moment of this visit. 

We chose to return on Monday by way of Mo’s brother’s home in Beaverton, who has also been socially distanced with his own family bubble for several months.  We broke our bubble to share time with them as well, but opted for an outdoor supper at the local food cart parking lot on the outskirts of Portland.  It wasn’t quite as exciting as I had hoped, with the biggest cartlandia location being recently closed and many carts relocated throughout the city.  Still it was a fun evening and Dan and Chere had hookups and space available for the MoHo so we could sleep in our own space.

Silly me, I got photos of the new living room furniture at Melody’s but no people photos!

The trip south toward Grants Pass took us within three miles of Daughter Melody’s new home in Brownsville and we stopped in for an afternoon visit and lunch with her as well.  Melody is still working from home after 7 months now.  She and Robert moved into their “new” home (built in 1908) right as COVID started and she has been working from home every since.

Overall it was a wonderful trip, with a warm dose of family time to help heal the isolation that we have been living through for so very long.  And as I said, we are all OK.  Might be nothing more than pure luck, but I am glad that luck was with all of us.