Because We Can - Fulltime RV'ing

Journal Archive 10/21 - 10/31 2007

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October 21 Sunday

It looks like the storm has finally passed on to the North, as the ocean had lost its white frothy frosting and had returned to simply displaying rolling waves breaking on the rocks at the side of the channel. It proved to be a gentle morning all around, with the Daily Journal article easily flowing onto the page, the only problem being that I was still behind so that it was Friday's instead of Saturday's that I was writing. When will I ever learn, when will I ever learn?

Breakfast was what has become our new, though temporary standard, a simple onion omelet with a huckleberry pear bran muffin. Linda says I still have a little tinkering to do with the recipe, something that should be fun, before it is ready to be added to her website recipe collection. That is something to keep in mind, but at the time my mind was really focused on the only task that mattered this morning. Making sure I was ready to go to church on time, something that I again managed to accomplish. I hope I don't let it go to my head and do something stupid next Sunday to ruin all this hard work of being the husband Linda would like me to be. Really, it is hard work being ready on time, it must just be some kind of man thing that won't go away.

Linda walked into church looking a little bit like one of Santa's helpers, seeing as she was carrying a big package of M&M's and a gaily decorated shoe box. The candy was for the church's "Trunk or Treat" program, where cars are lined up out side the church on Halloween and candy and other treats are passed out to the kids. It is actually a big community outreach, because the Police Dept. allows the church to block off the street for the safety of the kids, plus they open up the church and serve coffee, hot chocolate and donuts in a fellowship setting. It's things like this that help define why we enjoy being part of this church for the few months we spend each fall in Reedsport.

As we entered the building, we wondered where we were supposed to put the things we had. We shouldn't have worried, the greeters added the candy to a big pile on the floor beside where they were standing, then a few steps later a pile of shoe boxes let us know where ours should go. As I mentioned last week, Linda had a great time filling the box to bursting, then wrapping it in colorful paper that reflected the joy she felt in being able to give to someone less fortunate.

Merry Christmas

Having learned our lessons about the temperature in the stores on Sunday morning, we decided to fore go any shopping this morning and head back home. Besides we are going to be back over to Reedsport tomorrow for both our dental appointments, and the Friends of the Library book sale. The rest of the afternoon was taken up with writing, copying, and Ebaying, not to mention cooking, reading and a photo session. Seems the action out in the channel this afternoon was more of a normal nature, meaning the waves were now within the limits that allowed the Coast Guard to resume their practice runs. Linda just had to take a photo of the rescue boats in action. Actually it was a whole lot of photographs, but isn't that what photo editors are for, the human kind at least, to weed out the chaff from the grain. It was a tough row to hoe, but at last it was narrowed down to one photo that fairly well summed up the action. (It helps to use farm terms in a description like that because it makes it easier for Linda to understand what I'm talking about. Let's see if she leaves that one in.)(Editor's comment: Yea, he gets to keep it!)

Practice time

The copying was to obtain some more background information on the Lighthouse, as I am toying with writing an article, or perhaps several on different aspects of it. Perhaps one with a technical emphasis, but definitely one as a snapshot in time dealing more with the human and historical perspective. Only time will tell, and many have been the times in my life when I had good intentions, only to see them roll under the sofa and collect dust.

With the end of the season coming up, it was also time for gathering of the group, the group of volunteers that is. The six of us, along with Gaylyn were going to have dinner together at Ungers in Salmon Harbor. It's the restaurant housed in the two small white boats with blue trim moored at the edge of the bay, just as you enter Salmon Harbor. It is humorous in a way, because we always recommend Ungers to our visitors who ask about a good place to get something to eat. Something not very fancy, just a place where the food is good. Tonight we will finally get to sample what it is that we wax poetic about.

Ungers on the bay

It proved to be as good, or better than we had been told. After the terrible meal we had at Griff's last month, the food at Ungers proved to be a real delight. By the way, we have learned from talking to others that Griffs changed hands between last year and this year, and the food took a major turn for the worse. Now back to talking about Ungers, when we noted that everyone we were with, all of whom eat out quite often, were ordering the fish and chips, we knew what we were also going to have, making it seven out of seven for the fish and chips. Everybody has there their own idea as to what constitutes the perfect plate of fish and chips, so I'll just say, if you're in the area, give Ungers a try. You will most likely be very pleasantly surprised, finding that it will be a taste treat, even if it's not quite as crispy as you like. Guess you can tell how I favor my fish and chips being cooked, meaning I'm one of those people who enjoy a lot of crunch with lunch.

Volunteers at work

At the risk of over doing the sunsets this week, tonight's was one of those truly special shows that nature pulls out every once in in awhile to remind us that the term, "The Beauty of Nature" is more than just words on paper. This past week we had seen her angry side, the winds, the rains, the waves, but tonight she was showing her softer side. Her soothing, uplifting, awe inspiring side was out in all its splendor. For the longest time we simply stood, bound up as one with the majesty of the land, water and sky.

The setting sun

On many days I try to put into words just how wonderful of a Life we live. Tonight that photo describes the Life we live far better than any words.

October 22 Monday

Not sure I would call what we have planned for today a busy day, but there were several things on Linda's list that we would be doing. And the first one managed to undo most of the good I'd accumulated over the past few weeks, at least as far as Linda was concerned, that was. I thought I was on top of things, working on the Daily Journal and also helping Linda with several things anound the coach, when I got "that look" that means I'm in trouble.

In the end Linda was able to prove that it was 100% my fault and that she was totally blameless, but that didn't make it any easier for me to accept. I will confess to just a little panic when I realized it was 10:50 and we had a dentist appointment at 11 o'clock. We did manage to make it, just barely. There for a second I was afraid I was going to get a good cleaning in more ways than one. For being a Dentist's office in a small town on the Oregon coast they were surprising modern in terms of their equipment, having all the latest in high pressure water blasters to clean and polish teeth.

Scruba, scuuba, scruba

Our next stop was at Les Schwab Tires to have a slow leak in the right rear tire fixed, something they did for free. We were pleasantly surprised about that, and like Linda said, they have stores everywhere that we travel. Should we need tires, and the Explorer is going to need then in the next couple of years, we will keep Les Schwab in mind.

Les Schwab Tires

Linda's next stop for me was the Post Office, where she mailed off another big bag of packages and created her second long line in just the past few days. I think she is on a roll as far as making people wait at the Post Office is concerned.

Post Office

Once we were done at the Post Office, we had planned to stop at the Library for the Friends of the Library book sale, but unfortunately the library was closed. Guess we can't get everything right. I couldn't believe she didn't have any other stops planned, but it was true, that was all, so it was back to the coach. As we pulled in, the sun was playing off the lens of the Lighthouse, working magic with the red panels. It begged for a photo, so I tried to take one from a different angle than usual.

The magic of the Light

Once we were back I discovered that while she had been so sweet after the stop at the Post Office, it didn't mean there weren't other things to do. We had been putting off changing the grit in the rock tumbler, but not any longer. It turned out to be a very easy job for both of us, particularly me. My assigned task was to turn the water on and off. But not having enough to do I went inside to get the camera so I could take her photo when she informed me that I was awol when she had needed the water to be turned on. The drill seargent chewed me out a little more than I may have deserved, in mind my at least. She probably thought she let me off easy. Forty years and I still don't know my place, so when will I ever learn, oh, when will I ever learn.

These rocks are rollin'

When Linda said she also wanted to cut my hair, I was trusting that I had returned to her good graces, and she wasn't about to take her frustrations out on me. It turned out she simply wanted me to look civilized instead of like a wild barbarian. Of course, since I was feeling more like a slave than a spouse, I almost let the wrong thing slip out, but fortunately managed to catch myself just in time. In the end, it all worked out and the day ended with me on my best behavior and Linda knowing she had put me in my place once again. Guess that I was back to following the lead dog once again, but then again, there is always tomorrow.


October 23 Tuesday

Tuesday turned out to be a day when not much got done. Of course following a day when Linda has the whole of Monday mapped out, it might be expected there would be a let down. What happened was that we both found ourselves spending time doing something each of really wanted to do as opposed to yesterday's regime of doing the tings we had to do.

Then, totally by accident I discovered something new on the Internet. Here's a small example of what it was.

1st Lights of the first order having an interior radius or focal distance of 36 22 inches 92cm and lighted by a lamp of four concentric wicks consuming 570 gallons of oil per annum 2d Lights of the secboth ond order having an interior radius of 27 55 inches 70cm lighted by a lamp of three concentric wicks consuming 384 gallons of oil per annum 3d Lights of the third order lighted by a lamp of two concentric wicks consuming 183 gallons of oil per annum and a focal distance of 19 68 inches 50cm
A Rudimentary Treatise on the History, Construction and Illumination of ... By Alan Stevenson

Now that may not look like much, but it was a major step forward in my search for more information regarding lighthouses, their design and how they function. All of which is information that will allow me to do an even better job of leading tours by providing the background information, that when used properly, gives the whole picture of what took place those many years ago.

Where this came from was the Google Books search feature, something I had read about, but obviously had never understood. The best way to find out what it is all about is to just use it, which is what I did, and the more I learned, along with new, undiscovered paths to even more information. I spent most of my time searching the books of the late 1800's and early 1900's because that was where the information I was looking for was available. I'd call it an amateur researchers pot o' gold. There is so much available information it will take me months to digest it all. Guess that means I should be ready for next September when we will be back here to give tours once again.

We did have one trip planned, which was to drive over to the Friend's of the Library book sale we missed out on yesterday. Linda was able to find several books she wanted, but I didn't have any luck. I was also thinking that I had a huge stack of unread books remaining from our rainy day trip a couple of months ago to the thrift store in Sutherlin. The lack of books today was just fine with the both of us, though I think more so with Linda. If I didn't buy anything it meant that there would not be another pile of books somewhere in the coach for her to stumble over or to have to move when she cleaned. Maybe I am back to doing good things once again.


We also spent time delving deeper into the local history of the area while we were at the library, discovering several highway maps from the 1920's that showed just how isolated this area was. It is one thing to say those words, "this was an isolated area", to our visitors during a tour, but it is an entirely different matter to have all the background information in the back of your mind so that if someone asks a questions you can not only give the simple answer, you can also provide the color and flavor that makes it complete. Lest I scare anyone away from taking one of my tours, I've learned where to "steal" the time to paint the complete picture so to speak. It's when we are walking up to the Lighthouse. The other guides walk out in front of the group, their backs toward the visitors. I walk backwards, talking as we go. It's my special time to make the tour something beyond the ordinary.

By the time the day had passed into the history books we had made ourselves bleary eyed from all the reading we had done, both on line and on the written pages of books. Isn't that what Life is all about, doing something you love?

October 24 Wednesday

Our last day off and it started just like yesterday, which meant Linda was getting a little extra beauty rest and I was still searching through google books as opposed to doing what I should have been doing, writing the Daily Journal. That was what took up the morning, meaning we really enjoyed what we were doing, but all to soon the lady of the house announced it was time to drive over to Reedsport. Actually she was going to drive over by herself, but figuring I probably had goofed off enough for one day, I asked her if she wanted me to come along.

She did, and we did. The first stop was at the ACE hardware where she bought some adhesive to make several shell necklaces using the shells we had picked up on the beach a year ago. (Don't I always point out what a long memory she has, now you can see what I mean). A few days ago she had bought some special craft glue at the local craft store, named appropriately enough, Linda's Craft Store. Unfortunately, it didn't work, and it was also considerably more expensive than the one she found at ACE. But then again, isn't that how many things turn out to be in Life.

Shopping at ACE

We do tend to buy most things at the ACE, but the reason is because we use some of our Discover Card points to get an ACE gift card. We get a $50 card for $40 in points, which is a deal that Linda really likes. We had one other stop to make before heading back, which was at the Safeway store for tortilla's and Hershey's Kisses. Candy, yes candy, but as long as Linda can keep her hands off of it, it may actually make her a little bit of money. More on that at a later date.

Since it was Wednesday, Linda and Gaylyn went to the water exercise class. Linda had been wanting to get a photo of herself doing her thing, so tonight she took the camera.

Water woman

When I down loaded the photo's I was amazed at how good she looked in the water. I thought she was a water nymph and told her so. The smile I got made me think I was at least working my way back to not being in trouble. Now if I can only keep it up.

October 25 Thursday

Back to work today, but not for long. The next three days will be our last days at the Lighthouse for this year. One nice thing about this morning was the weather, it couldn't have been nicer. Well, let me take that back, other than the fact the temperature was hovering around 45°, it was a grand day, with the sun shining and the view of the ocean a sight to behold.

The ocean

After a breakfast of eggs and onions, we were out of the muffins and I had not gotten around to baking any more even though I had told Linda I would, it was off to the Museum. The one thing about this time of the year is that it really, really slows down, and we only had three visitors before noon. It makes for a slow day, but it also gives us a chance to do a good bit of research. The other thing is that it is almost like the lighthouse knows it has to do something special to attract visitors, and with the display it was putting on when I opened this morning, I was surprised we didn't have more people stopping by.

Morning light

The center part of the lens, which was the part of the lens which Augustine Fresnel originally invented, had managed to take on a different aura.

Through the lens

But it wasn't just the lens that seemed special this morning, even the outside Lighthouse structure was spectacular.

Outside the light

One of the nice things about what I was seeing, was that our visitors, even though there not very many of them, also really appreciated it. This is the time of the year when the "Lighthouse Nuts" come out, and cameras are the order of the day. I remarked to one visitor that I noticed he had good taste in camera's since he had a Canon SI 3 just like mine, then later he took so many photos of the inside of the Lighthouse that his batteries failed. He didn't have any spares with him, so he ended up borrowing the batteries from my camera, something I was happy to able to do for him.

Another visitor, a lady in her late 70's had visited over 300 lighthouses during her lifetime, and had just recently completed a two week stint as a keeper at one of them. It's when you have people like this along on your tours that you have to reach back into those nooks and crannies for that little tidbit of info that makes their visit special. It also makes my day when they remark that I'm a really good tour guide. It's those types of things which makes what we do at the Lighthouse worth while.

October 26 Friday

Another day of work, at least the weather is as pleasant as you could want which could mean we may have more visitors today. Once again we had no muffins or scones to eat with breakfast, so I promised Linda that I would use our last pear to bake muffins tonight. Still doing everything I can to stay on that woman's good side, and you know, the more of these things I do, the easier it gets to continue to do them. I don't know if that's good or bad. I do know it's good for Linda. I just haven't figured out whether it is possible for me to continue being the person she would like me to be, versus the person I was. Man-o-man, is it ever hard to change ingrained habits.

As we usually do when we are nearing the time we leave one of our volunteer positions, we have been trying to take as many photo's of the little things around us as possible. Opening the Lighthouse this morning I noticed something I had never seen before. I had read about how the various pieces of metal work in the Lighthouse were numbered by the manufacturer to make it easier for the contractor to correctly assemble them. Imagine my surprise when, as I was standing on the bottom step of the lantern gallery stairs, to look up and see this directly in front of me.

The key to the puzzle

I looked at the other nearby pieces and didn't see any other numbers, then it dawned on me, maybe they were all supposed to be installed with the numbers hidden and this one was installed wrong side facing outward. It's something I'll probably never know, but for the next few minutes it was fun transporting myself back in time and imagining being one of the workers who was assembling the Lighthouse.

I did have one last task to perform before I descended the stairs, the same thing I do every morning I open the Lighthouse, climb the stairs into the lens and mentally prepare myself for the day ahead. The words of one of yesterday's visitors was echoing through my mind like a wave gently lapping the shore, as I climb those the steps, "Bob, you have a real passion for what you do." I'd like to think that maybe that's not all it is, not just a passion for what I do, but a passion for who I am. That is the purpose of this short journey up those steps, to take myself back to the time when the Lighthouse was built, to become one with the past and thus enable our visitors share in that feeling.


As I gazed at the lens, the reflections this morning were not just of the lamps being reflected in the red lens, it was also of the men who were part of that scene. I saw them and knew I had to share their lives with others. That was what I saw before me, the joy of Life, the treasure that is the past. It isn't just about a 65 foot tall white tower, it's also about people, people who's stories need to be told. I left knowing I was ready for the day, at one with the past.

Walking out towards the parking lot, it was apparent something was going on, for the lot was full of vehicles. My first thought was there was some kind of rally going on, many a bike ride or foot race. My second thought was maybe there had been a group of whales spotted moving along the coast, but there didn't seem to be anyone in or around the vehicles. A few steps further and I got my answer, there was a gathering of the Coast Guard and the purpose was to assemble a huge wooden play set for the children who lived in the Coast Guard housing units.

Into the past

From the number of people who were there, it looked like it wasn't just the married personnel who lived in these housing units, it was also all the singles who lived down at the station. Everyone were having a great time, some working on the play set, others cooking food, or simply visiting and having a good time. It was like the past revisited. Did the friends and families of the three keepers who were stationed here ever get together and do something similar? For a moment it was the past and present meshed as one. Things don't always have to be as they seem, especially to a daydream believer like myself.

Later, during one of my tours, I could hear the wheels of the lens carriage squeaking, so I called on the radio to Linda for her to make a note of it so Gaylyn would know. Back at the Museum after the tour was over Linda told me that when she mentioned it to Gaylyn, that Gaylyn had said it was okay if I wanted to go up on the lantern gallery to look around and take some photos. That was one of those things that don't have to be repeated twice, and as soon as the last tour had exited the door of the Lighthouse I was on my way to the top, up that set of stairs that I had looked at for two years, but had never climbed.

Outside looking in

It was like being in another world as I climbed those steps, the starting to walk around the lens as it revolved just inches from of me. Just this morning I had taken a photo of the lamp reflected in the red lens, now here I was looking in at the lamp from outside of the lens. One thing that amazed me was just how little space there was between the edge of the lens, that is, the red filter panels, and the storm glass which formed the outside of the Lighthouse. The walkway I was standing on would certainly not accommodate a person of large stature, particularly one who had expanded in the horizontal direction.

This for me, was once again one of those special moments when I was one with the past. The light was first lit on December 31, 1896 and I wondered who it was who had stood exactly where I was now standing that evening, holding a linen cloth and had ever so carefully, yet ever so proudly gave a final cleaning that ruby red glass panel that was moving by me at that moment. History is just not words in a book, it is real. At this very moment I knew just how real because I could actually reach out and touch the past.

After that moment I knew it couldn't get any better, yet whatever force or power that was guiding my day was not done with me yet. Later, back at the coach, I was reading a book on lighthouses when I looked up. What I saw was the perfect end for a day like today. No filters, no fancy image manipulation, what you see is what I saw. And somehow I knew something else, that sunset I was seeing tonight looked exactly like the sunset on that day 113 years ago when the light was first lit.

End of day

To know the link with the past.
To experience the connection of being human.
The joy of life.
The spirit of individuality.
The adventure goes on and on.

October 27 Saturday

Our last day of work for this year at the lighthouse, and as it has proved to be in the past, when we reach this juncture at one of our volunteer positions, it is a day tinged with sadness. We won't actually be leaving until Tuesday, but I guess you can say that after today the fun is over. It's almost like the Umpqua has been bidding us goodbye lately, what with all the spectacular sunsets, and as if not to be outdone, this morning's view had something special in store for us. At the top center of this photo, directly over the boat going out the channel and leaving the Umpqua, stands the moon. Could it be saying that even if you leave the Umpqua, I (the moon) will be there to guide you in your travels? We'd like to think so.

The key to the puzzle

The weather was great, the sun shining, not a cloud in the sky, so was it any wonder I accomplished little in the way of writing the Daily Journal article. I did manage to put down a few words just as it was time to fix breakfast, so Linda prepared her standard fare of eggs and onions. The problem was, there were no muffins. My vow to bake last evening had rung hollow, I had simply been too tired to bake. Linda was so sweet, not even mentioning it, I think because she knew I had poured my heart and soul into yesterday's tours, the tangible results of which had been a record breaking day for donations.

The morning walk to the Lighthouse was once again an escape into the past, and as I stood on the watch room floor, I was overwhelmed with what this place really meant. Not just to me, but to the men who had designed and built it, the ship captains that safely navigated these waters because it was there, the lighthouse keepers and their families who had lived with it towering over them and the countless visitors who have stood in awe of its stately, silent, indescribable beauty. I couldn't help but wonder what the Parisian craftsmen who had worked for Barbier and Company thought of the glass and brass they were working on. Had maybe one of our visitors this year been a descendant of one of those workmen? Another unanswerable question, but without imagination what is there to life?

Marks of the past

The contrast between the past and present, an electric motor and gearbox behind a worn brass plate. Times do change, but some things are worth preserving.

With very few visitors stopping by, Linda and I were able to spend time browsing through the museum noticing the changes that time has brought to the Umpqua. Take for example this map showing the mouth of the Umpqua in 1854.

The Umpqua 1854

The writings from the past talk about the East and West bank of the Umpqua. Today, because of the jetties the river banks are referred to as North and South. Or take this photo taking in the 1950's. You can see the the Lighthouse tower, the water tower directly behind it and the radio beacon tower a short distance to the North.

Two towers

History is not a static point in time, history changes with time, because things change. The Coast Guard housing units which surround the the Lighthouse today will be gone at some point in the future, once again history will change, and should we desire to rebuild the structures of the past, at what point in time should we use, or will it be a mixture of times. Further, do the people who visit the Lighthouse really care what is there and what isn't? They certainly express dismay over the loss of the two keeper's dwellings, but if those dwellings where here, might there not be regret by others that the water tower was missing. What about the families of the Coast Guardsmen stationed here now. Some 50 years in the future, how would they look on the loss of the dwellings they had occupied. Buildings which were torn down in the name of progress, a progress that was a return to the past before their time.

We took over 100 photos today, it being a day for memories. One thing that almost all of our visitors overlook when they visit the Museum is the importance of the ships wheel in the center room. What they don't realize is that it is not a prop mounted in front of a mural of the river, it is the actual wheel from the river sternwheeler, EVA, which carried cargo and people up and down the river for many years. It gives us pause to think just how many times we have gone through museums and looked at something, totally unaware of the story it told.

On the Eva

No one looking at that cradle up on the second floor of the Zoar Museum in Zoar, Ohio would know that when I was a baby, I slept in that very same cradle. A cradle that had been made in Zoar in the 1800's when my ancestors lived nearby. A cradle my great grandfather bought when the Zoar Community disbanded and everything was auctioned off. A cradle that remained in our family many years until it was donated to the Zoar Museum by my beloved "Aunt Fern". Maybe that was where I was given my love of history, sleeping in that cradle as a baby. Maybe that is why I try so hard to make history real for our visitors. Maybe, maybe, maybe....

The day was over almost before we knew it, and it was time for our end of the day tasks. Here is Linda writing down the statistics for the day. It was closing the books not only in a literal sense, but also in a figurative sense. But just for 10 months, because next next September will find us back on the banks of the Umpqua once again.

Closing the books

With the books closed, it was time to walk back up to the Lighthouse for the last time to not only close it for the day, but to also polish the brass rail leading up into the lens itself. The squeak was still present in the wheel, so I took a few moments to see if I could discover where it was. I had no luck, but while I was up there, Linda thought she also had a vision from the past, catching a glimpse of one the lightkeepers from the late 1890's. As luck would have it, she was able to capture his image.


Even right know as I look at that photo, I can almost see myself rather than Marinus Stream or one of the other keepers standing in front of the lens, looking out at the Pacific. Some standing there today and turning around would be brought back to the twenty-first century, but is the sight any less spectacular today than it was over a hundred years ago?

Time to jump back to the present and get to work polishing the brass rail. As Linda pointed out, "Bob, you don't just wipe off the rail, you really do polish it."

Brass, the Lighthouse keepers nemesis

It was hard descending those steps for the last time and I wondered what the keepers of old thought at this moment. Did they have a twinge of regret. Or was the expectation of the experiences life would bring them in the future what was on their minds. I know that this is indeed a very special place and it was the reason we were here. The mental image of myself that I would like to carry was not from my eyes but the eyes of our visitors.

Bob, the tour guide

Dinner tonight was a somewhat somber affair, as we were both in a pensive mood. Linda had tried a new dish, cooking some chicken breast, onions, sweet potatoes, garlic and rosemary in the slow cooker. It was so good we both decided it was going to have to be on the schedule in the future. Yet even with the great food we just couldn't get exited about the evening before us.


Then suddenly everything changed. As we were doing the dishes, I looked out and noticed tonight was another extraordinarily low tide. Dropping everything, well not exactly everything, we were doing the dishes after all, and it is only a figure of speech, we jumped in the Explorer and drove down to the river. If you look above the pretty model sitting on the log, you will see beyond her some pilings that are the remains of an old pier. Now cast your eyes just a little further out toward the water and several rocks, with just their tops showing should be seen. They may not capture your attention, but they certainly did ours, because those rocks mark the location of the first Umpqua River Lighthouse.

The past

As we climbed out on the rock jetty which lined the mouth of the river, the sun sank below the horizon as the ebb tide met the waves coming in from the open water. A hundred and fifty years ago we very well may have seen a schooner or brig, sails set, heading out to sea. The daydream believer was at it once again. It's not what our eyes see, it what image our minds form that matters.


While Linda climbed back down on the sand now exposed by the outgoing tide, I walked out on the rocks as far as I could. There is nothing left of the first lighthouse, though the spot is clearly marked. It seems that when they were building the jetty, some rocks were dumped where the Lighthouse once stood. Was it done on purpose, merely an unfortunate accident, or was there some mysterious force that intervened, saying the past is important, let us not forget those who have gone before. Whatever the the reason, here is where that Lighthouse stood along side the banks of the Umpqua River. Now it is no longer the river bank, the waters having reclaimed it as man has forced the Umpqua to follow his path to the sea. Yet somehow we know that this is all temporary, that someday the River will once again flow free, unfettered by the shackles of men, and who knows, maybe the site of that first Lighthouse will once again rise above the banks of the Umpqua.

Remains of the past

October 28 Sunday

Our last Sunday to attend church at the Reedsport Church of God, and once again the energizer bunny of ministers, Allen, was going full throttle as always. He has been giving a series on How to Enjoy the Rest of Your Life, and this morning's message was titled Joy in Your Job. Perhaps you think of church as dull, boring, or not contemporary to your needs. If so, you haven't experienced the churches and messages we have during our travels. I also wondered about the timing of this message. Here we were, in the process of changing jobs so to speak, leaving the comfort of the Lighthouse, something we have done now for two years, and beginning a journey of some 2000 miles to Fredericksburg, Texas to begin a new adventure. One where we would be relating the events of World War II in the Pacific to our visitors. Was today's message meant for us?

This is taken from Linda's notes on Allen's message. Six ways to enjoy your job. 1. Take a genuine interest in others, 2. Associate with the experts, 3. Improve your relationships, 4. Respect your boss, 5. Honor those who work well, 6. Don't be afraid to risk. Afterward, back at the coach, we reflected upon what we had heard. It spoke so fluently to the life we life, the days we just had experienced at the Lighthouse. And we understood now, how important it would be to carry that same attitude, enthusiasm and set of values with us as we travel down Life's path.

Sara N. Dippity can guide each and everyone of us to places that are unexpected. What we do with the opportunity is up to us. She caused Linda and I to take that trip to the coast some four years ago, where on the return trip we talked about what we wanted to do for the rest of our lives. How easy it would have been to have done just that, talk about what we wanted to do, which was whether or not we really wanted to go back to work after having such a glorious time at the coast. We could still be working at our jobs today, helping make money for someone else so they can live the Life we actually do. Those first five points in Allen's message are oftentimes difficult for us as we go about our jobs. But what about that sixth one, risk. Do we dare risk, or do we live like we always have?

We have some dear friends who are in the process of setting their own two year plan in motion, one that will end by allowing them to live the life we do. As with us it will not be retirement in the normal sense, meaning the risk is much greater than simply waiting to that point in Life where most people retire, with the security net which normal retirement entails. Risk, it can be very hard to take the leap, but the rewards, ah, the rewards for us have been incalculable. In the life we now live, through casual conversation, we discover others who have risked, who dropped out early for one reason or another. Many live as they did, that is in a stick house, not in one with wheels, but always, no mater where they live, the refrain is the same, I'm so glad we did it. To which Linda and I add our echoing voices, we're so glad we did it.

The point is not to make anyone think less of themselves, or hold us up as something special. The point is simple. In our Life we have dreams. Don't just let it be that, a dream. Act on that dream, take a chance, reach out and risk, otherwise your dream will be just that, a dream. Why not make that dream a journey to a destination. That old adage, 'And may all your dreams come true", was never more apropos. Life, meant to be lived.

Speaking of living, I knew that if that was what I wanted to continue doing, at least in my present physical state, I'd better start working on fulfilling my reaffirmation to Linda made yesterday morning that there would be muffins baked today. Unfortunately by the time it occurred to me to do this, she was already actively engaged in making chili, something that drove us crazy for the rest of the day as it simmered in the slow cooker. Eventually was able to bake the muffins, something that I realized Linda was documenting where the flash of the camera startled me as I was dicing the pear. Fortunately the only sliced when I jumped was the pear, so the muffins attained their normal color. Something tells me that had I done serious damage to one of my fingers, we would have had to have thrown out what was now a red pear and started over.

Slave baking for the queen

Serene. I think that is the proper word to use to describe the remainder of the afternoon. We worked on some small tasks we needed to do before leaving, scanned a number pages of information on the Lighthouse for a project I will be be working on, and in general, just relaxed and enjoyed ourselves. There had been a number of boats going in and out of the channel during the day, so we had gotten in the habit of looking out to the ocean. It was late afternoon when we noticed a strange shape to the north. For all the world it looked like a large box floating out in the Pacific. It was too far away to make out precisely what it was, but with time it drew closer and closer, then turned toward the entrance of the channel.

What is it?

Its movement was very slow, and as we watched, it looked like it was struggling to make headway against the out going tide. That was when we realized every time the waves struck it from behind it was being driven ever closer to the rocks. That was when we picked up another boat, one moving at an incredible rate of speed and heading directly towards the first vessel. Before long it was nearing the first boat and we could plainly make out that this vessel was the Coast Guard rescue boat from the Salmon Harbor Life Saving Station in the bay. We weren't sure what was going on, but we realized that if we drove down to the Coast Guard tower, we would have ringside seats to what ever it was.

Shipwreck only moments away

The trip only takes five minutes at the most, and by the time we arrived the action was indeed, right in front of us. I think Linda was going to make sure she had the best seat in the house, running out across the sand towards the jetty.

The Umpqua 1894

It was like going back in history, the boat was a stern wheeler and it had been unable to make headway against the ebb tide. The Coast Guard boat had thrown them a line and taken the stern wheeler under tow, saving it from certainly being dashed against the rocks. All this had taken place in the few minutes it had taken us to drive down. How did we know? The people standing there when we arrived were with a marine tow company and had been listening on the marine radio to what was taking place, so they had driven out to watch. Here is the boat under tow.

Under tow

A closeup showing the tow rope extending from the front of the boat.

Tow rope

As it passed by, it was as if the past was not a hundred years ago, it was now.

Looking at the past

What are the odds of something like this taking place? What are odds of us seeing it? Is history merely words or is it real?

Some words I read many years ago came flooding back to the forefront of my consciousness:

What I, in my mind can conceive
And I, with my whole being, believe
That, I can achieve.

October 29 Monday

Our last full day at the Lighthouse. Gee, it's almost like I'm starting to sound like a broken record, what with each and every day's post beginning with the words, Our last day. Just how many last days can we have? I don't know the answer, but I do know that tomorrow's post will also start with those words, but I promise it will be the last time for a while, because on Tuesday we are pulling out and heading down the road.

Breakfast not merely just onions and eggs this morning, it was red peppers, onions, eggs and a huckleberry, pear, bran muffin. You also don't have to worry about reading about huckleberry whatever for the next year as these are the last of our huckleberries. Now that I think about it, what is going to happen once all these "last of's" are gone, what am I going to have to write about. Well, I'll just have to come up with something new.

More than eggs for a change

Once breakfast was over and the Daily Journal written and posted, it was time to do a few chores. Linda had been commenting on the fact the little tray in the back of the refrigerator was full of water. I knew it shouldn't be since it had a drain in the bottom, but it seemed like every time she mentioned it, I had other things on my mind, so I had never gotten around to checking on it. This morning she had gotten out the book that came with the refrigerator to see if she could determine what might be wrong, and once again I was occupied at the time, so her efforts were unsupported. That she was doing something was brought to my attention when I noticed her standing in front of the open refrigerator door, book in hand, and a puzzled look on her face.

Ignorant male that I am, I asked "What are you doing?" Without looking up, she replied, "Looking for the drain." At this point the best question to have asked would have been an inquiry about which drain was she looking for, and I say this from the perspective of one who has learned what not to ask. Instead of a little tact and consideration, I followed directly on the heels of the Light Brigade and plunged into the jaws of you know what, as Tennyson put it, by asking, "Why are you looking for a drain?" Though no blood was spilled, it my take several days for the smell of my singed ears to dissipate from the confines of the coach.

It wasn't a case of promising to be a better listener in the future, nor was it enough to be really concerned about the full tray of water. What I learned was that I really need to work on caring. Caring about her and what she talks about. Men are supposed to do and understand, and also understand that women care, and so men should also care. Somehow or other when they wired in my circuit boards, they forgot to hook up the ones that dealt with caring, at least as far as Linda was concerned at the moment. And I guess it really doesn't matter if they have wired them properly or not, because I had sure manged to act like they hadn't.

The really sad part about all this was that I knew how to solve the problem, which I did in just a matter of a few seconds. Going outside, both to fix the problem and to get a breath of fresh air, I removed the cover for the refrigerator, then grabbing the drain hose, I touched the end, breaking loose the obstruction which then allowed a steady drip of water to start flowing. The problem with the refrigerator was fixed. The problem with Bob had at least been identified as far as Linda was concerned. The problem with Bob was going to get fixed as far as Linda was concerned. My new motto: When Linda speaks, Bob listens.{Editor's comment: WOW-let's hope so!}

It's a good drip

Given all the heat that was in the air as a result of my earlier blunder in human relations, Linda came up with the ideal solution.

Automatic dryer

Once all these and a few other jobs were done, we headed off to Reedsport to mail a package, stop at the second hand shop to drop off some items, then buy a can of fuel injector cleaner. The check engine light in the Explorer has been coming on intermittently the past few days and a quick check under the hood showed no obviously disconnected wires or loose fittings, so I thought I'd put a container of the cleaner into the tank. The purpose was not so much as to solve the problem, it would be a miracle if it did, but more as a mental aid, the fact that short of having it checked at a shop, at least we had done something. After all, the problem will no doubt turn out to be electrical rather than fuel related.

Trying something

We also had one more stop planned, one that was most definitely for a different reason. You will note that this year there have been no posts about our going crabbing, something we engaged in a great deal last year. For some reason it just wasn't something I wanted to do this year, but I have no good reason as to why. Linda had even gone so far as buying a fish for crab bait, which has served only to take up freezer space for the past six weeks. Today it was time to clean out the freezer prior to leaving. Of course the only thing we needed to get rid of was that fish, as we'd eaten most everything else, so that was what we going to do.

Feeding time

Rather than just throw the pieces of fish in the trash, we were going to take them out on the crab pier and let the crabs have a feast. Of course there were also others at the table as you can tell from the photo's.

Gulls in action

We weren't done for the day however, as we had a surprise to spring on Gaylyn, which was to take her out to dinner. Jim and Liz, the other couple we have been working with, had made reservations at Gaylyn's favorite restaurant, The Waterfront Depot Bar, which was up in Florence, 20 miles to the north. Jim and Liz were going up early, then we would bring Gaylyn a little later, hopefully making the surprise complete. As Linda said when she asked Gaylyn, we have a proposition for you, and you can't say no.

Suffice it to say the surprise was indeed complete when we walked in and Gaylyn saw Jim and Liz. It turned out she had asked them earlier in the day if they wanted to join us, thinking we were going somewhere in Winchester Bay or Reedsport, but they politely told her they already had plans. As Liz put it, it was all they could do to not burst out laughing when Gaylyn asked them to join us.

Good times

We had two purposes in mind for this night, one was to thank Gaylyn for being such a wonderful person to both work with and simply be around, the other was to celebrate her birthday. Both of which we did with good company and good food. She is one very special lady and we are proud to be part of her life.

Another year older

Gaylyn wasn't the only one who had dessert, as everyone had one type or another of the fabulous desserts on the menu. It was the perfect end to our two months at the Lighthouse and I don't know what astounded her more, the surprise itself or the fact we wouldn't let her pay for anything. We both get tired of reading in one fulltime couples daily blog how they are always managing to mooch off of others, and we'd like to think we live our life differently, having discovered a long time ago that there is joy in giving as well as receiving.

Just after we dropped Gaylyn off, Linda innocently asked, "Did the check engine light come on at all during the trip?" "It sure did, it was on all the way up and all the way back", was my reply, adding "guess we're going to have to have it checked out one of these days." I just hope that Linda's closing comment of, "Probably after we have to have it towed someplace", does not prove to be the case.

We will close today's entry with a postscript on the evening. At about 9:30, the toll of the trip, driving all those miles with the check engine light on, was getting the best of me and I mentioned I was going to be going back to read in a few minutes. Linda seemed to pretty much ignore me, so in a few seconds I said, "I'm going to be heading back to read in a few minutes, aren't we going to have dessert?" Her reply was, "But we already had dessert at the restaurant." I couldn't believe what I was hearing from a born and bred dessert lover, so I chimed in with, "Sure, but your dessert's aren't the same as those were. Yours have all the taste, but none of the calories." Have you ever heard the term, quick as a wink? Well, that described the time it took her to lay down her book, get up, walk across the floor and begin cutting off a slice of chocolate chip zucchini cake, which she proceeded to top with some ice cream. Does that woman ever love her desserts. It was indeed a special night for special people.

October 30 Tuesday

Coincidence or connection? I use that phrase in conjunction with several stories I relate about the Lighthouse, but this morning, was it applicable to our own life? Here's the sight that we saw when Linda walked out to the front of the coach.

Leaving the harbor

We too would be leaving the safe harbor of the Umpqua today, beginning a journey which would take us to a far distant land. It was also fall, a time of change, and all around us the signs of change were ever present. Though the Museum and Lighthouse are normally open until the end of the month, they were closed as of today. You see, change was also happening to them.

Time for a change

While the Museum was getting a new cedar shingle roof, the 36 foot MLB was also getting a new cover of a different sort.

Set for the winter

That blue cover is an interesting material. They placed it over boat, and used the flame wand to shrink it tight all around the bottom. But the outside areas weren't the only place where change was taking place.

Changes everywhere

We also had a little copying to do, obtaining a few of the records on the lighthouse along with several photos, having the thought of making some additions and improvements to the tour next year. The goal has always been to give our visitors the best possible experience at the Lighthouse, to bring alive the past, so maybe by studying and writing about some of the records and photos, we can make their experience even more real.

Lighthouse living

We had not been in any hurry to leave, but somehow or other we got a little more involved in looking at the records than we planned, and it was approaching 4 o'clock before we started our final preparations. That was when I remembered our rubber chicken, the one we got in Johnson City. Texas, the one our grandson Zachary had so much fun playing with when he visited us this summer. For the two months we had been at the Lighthouse that chicken had guarded the kitchen, resting comfortably on top of the oven vent. The problem has always been that when we forget to take it down when traveling, it falls off onto the floor.

Today I decided to pick the darn chicken up before it fell onto the floor, and that was when it happened. The heat from the oven vent had caused two changes in that rubber chicken. It had semi-glued its belly to the vent, but more importantly, it had weakened the rubber belly of the beast. Thus when I pulled at it, 99% of the duck came away with my hand, the other 1% lingering for just a moment before also detaching from the vent. It was that brief hesitation which caused the problem, the pain and strain must have been so great that our yellow chicken, now no longer a spring chicken, simply gave up on life and spilled its guts. Its guts being hundreds of tiny white round pellets that immediately distributed themselves all over the counter top, carpet, rugs and the floor.

For once I did the right thing, I didn't yell for Linda, I just got out the hand vac and started cleaning up. When Linda finally came back in, she had it laugh at my predicament, then immediately went and got the broom and dust pan to sweep the floor. Like I said it was a mess.

Cleanup time

With both of us working it didn't take too much time before things were looking near normal again, though something tells me we are going to be finding little round white plastic balls for the foreseeable future. It wasn't long afterward that we were hooked up and heading down the road. As was the case last year, when we drove past the Elk Viewing Area just East of Reedsport, there were elk to be seen. The practice Linda got last year paid off as she was able to do much better at photographing the herd today. I guess I'd better also confess up, last year I hadn't stopped as we drove by, causing her to point the finger at me as the cause of the less than scintillating photo's. This year I remembered the tongue lashing, I mean the constructive comments, which Linda had given me last year, so continuing my quest to be the best husband Linda has ever had (being the only one also helps in that regard), I pulled over so she could take some photo's.


The Umpqua River valley was resplendent with the yellow's, gold's, and red's of fall, making for an eye candy drive.

Umpqua River valley

Having gotten a late start, it was after dark when we reached our destination for the night, the Wal Mart in Springfield. The entrances were very narrow and we could only see one other RV when we pulled in, but soon we were parked, then it was off to do some shopping. We made an executive decision to fore go the chili we had planned to have for dinner and eat cheese spread on low fat Triscuts. Guess you could call it a welcoming back to life on the road. But whatever it might be called, it sure was a good meal.

We also had our first experience with having to move at a Wal Mart when the security guard knocked on our door at about 9 PM and asked us to move over to the other side of the parking lot which they had designated as the area for RV's to park. It was away from the main road, but nearer the railroad tracks, something we discovered just before going to bed. That was also the last train of the evening, or maybe we were just too tired to care. Whatever it was, we spent the night with three other RV's knowing the Wal Mart security guard would keep a watch on us.

October 31 Wednesday

We probably live a little different from most people in that when we boondock when it gets cold, we don't heat the coach. Instead we just put on more layers of clothes or pile on more blankets depending on whether it is day or night. We did make one little concession this morning however. I had been up at my usual early hour and was typing away on the Daily Journal when Linda got up. She was muttering about how in the world can you sit there when it is cold, when I said, "Well, if you're that cold, why don't you turn on the furnace." That was when I discovered those words were something which didn't need to be repeated. What's happening to my Appalachian country girl wife? Is she going soft on me? As for me, we never had heat in the house when I got up in the morning while I was growing up, and I'm not about to start being a wimp at this young age.

The heat sure made her happy and soon the breakfast eggs were cooking. It was earlier than usual for Linda because we had an 8:30 appointment at AM Solar to get new batteries and have our solar system redone. After doing a great deal of research on the Internet, living with our solar system for nearly two years, and attending the Life on Wheels conference in Moscow, Idaho this summer, it was apparent that our system was not exactly the system that we should have bought. Thus we were going to have Greg Holder, owner of AM Solar take a look at our system and give us his recommendations.

It started with checking out the system and batteries we currently had and ended up with us getting quite a bit of work done.

AM Solar

At one time they had three people working on the coach, one on the batteries, one running the new wiring, while another was up on the roof installing the solar panel. Short of climbing on the top of one of the pallets in their warehouse I wasn't going to get a photo of all three at once, so a photo of just two of them will have to do.

Do I connect the black wire or the red wire?

The old batteries ended up in the battery bone pile where they will eventually be recycled into new batteries. Our old batteries are the four white ones at the top of the photo.

Battery graveyard

While I was doing the guy thing, watching the install of the solar system, Linda was off doing the girl thing, shopping. It turned out that she had more of an adventure than she anticipated, being gone far longer than a simple shopping trip should take and I got that sinking feeling that maybe she had a problem with that check engine light. I knew when she left, and even though I didn't know where she was going, and she had been gone far too long when I realized she hadn't returned yet. She did have a car problem, but it wasn't due to the check engine light. It was due to Linda being distracted at the wrong moment and laying the keys down on the seat, then forgetting about them when she shut the door. Bless her heart, she was in the process of returning the cart to the cart rack at the Winco Store when she realized what she had done.

She ended up calling AAA, who took only about 20 minutes to show up and rescue her. I don't think there was much damage to her psyche as she didn't seem very perturbed when she finally managed to make it back to the shop. Besides, we had barely had time to talk about it when she was totally distracted by her very first ever encounter with a ZAP car.

A different type of car

For the night, we returned once again to the Springfield Wal Mart, this time parking on the correct side of the building. (We never did get a visit tonight from the security guard like we did last night) After dinner we went into the store to do some more shopping where grandma found a few things for a certain little boy who likes to fish. We also found just the thing for another little boy who loves toys that make strange noises when he pulls the trigger. Like Linda says, we won't be there on Christmas to see them open their presents, but we can just imagine the smiles on their faces.

Grandma shopping

Back at the coach we settled in for the night, Linda making a cup of coffee, while I enjoyed a mug of hot chocolate. For the second night in a row we were living in cramped quarters, with both front slides in. Since the drivers side was up against the outside of the parking lot we did extend the bedroom slide, or I should say, Linda extended the bedroom slide. It was okay as far I was concerned not to extend it, as I had plenty of room. Linda on the other hand thought different, so out it went.

Tight quarters

We faced the sound of the trains once again tonight, but this time there were two of them that went by before the strain of the day put us out for another night. Not the most exciting way to end the day, but it's what sometimes happens when your address changes whenever you head down the road.

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