Because We Can - Fulltime RV'ing

Journal Archive 11/01 - 11/10 2007

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November 1 Thursday

Occasionally you must get up and get going earlier than you want. That was what yesterday was for Linda. Then, on other days you don't seem to realize it is even time to get up. Today proved to be one of those rare occasions for me. I believe Linda put it best when she rolled over and said, " Do you have any idea of what time it is? I know my still being in bed, not moving, when she awakened must have been a shock to her system and for all I know, her first action may have been to check on whether I was still breathing or not. Obviously I was.

My answer to her question of what time was it, generated laughter on her part. Not just little girl giggles either, nor was it simply a burst of glee, the sound coming from her was a full fledged, deep down, belly laugh, meaning that I got the distinct impression that it was somewhat later than the guess that it was 7:30. Since we were boondocking, there wasn't any clock that I could casually glance at it, so keeping my head buried under the covers, I lowered myself to asking her what time it was. Suffice it to say that when she told me it was 9:05, I demanded to see her watch for proof, something she was most happy to do.

All good things must eventually come to an end, and I soon put an end to her laughter by leaping out of bed, partially uncovering her in the process, I'll teach her to laugh at me. We were obviously in no hurry to get going today, so after another breakfast of onion eggs, with the addition of spinach and blue cheese, it was time to leave. Don't jump to the wrong conclusion however, because there is leaving, and then there is leaving. What this leaving was about was going over to the Wal Mart and shopping for a few last minute items. We had pretty well demolished the cheese spread so we needed to replenish that, plus there were several other odds and ends which leaped into the cart. As always, after staying for two nights at this Wal Mart, which included five trips to the store, we had spent far more than if we had stayed at an RV park.

We did finally pull out, forgetting to take any photos, and pointed the coach North towards Portland. Our actual destination for the day was the Multnomah County Library in downtown Portland, but not by driving there in the coach. The advertisements we found while searching for a place to stay suggested the RV Park of Portland, located in Tualatin, just South of Portland was about the closest and most convenient RV park to where we wanted to go. The drive was easy, and with the park being located just a couple of blocks off I-5, it didn't require very much negotiating of city traffic. The spots were all pull thru's, so even the parking issue was not difficult.

This had all been the easy part, now it was time for the hard part, driving into downtown Portland and finding the Library. In a way we were lucky as it was just after one o'clock so traffic was light. We didn't have a map so we were totally dependent on the GPS to get us there. It was working perfectly until we came to one of those stretches of contorting complexity where exits are shooting off in all directions from either side of an elevated freeway. It's where you simply drive and trust that you will be lucky enough to be in the right lane when the GPS gives its next set of instructions to you.

That was when it happened, those dreaded words, Lost Satellite Connection emanated from the speaker. As you might guess the next few seconds were rather tense with terse comments, accusations and exclamations issuing first from one of us and then from the other. Linda did have some of the street names written down, and somehow was able to fill in for the GPS and get us not only to the street the Library was on, but also heading in the right direction on that street. Talk about narrow, one way streets, terrain which was anything but flat, pedestrians everywhere and a vehicle that threatened to stall whenever it got in a difficult situation, that was what we faced.

As luck would have it, we ended up finding a parking lot just two blocks from the Library, so in the end all turned out to be fine, though there were times.... The Multnomah County Library was built 100 or so years ago, and reflects the grand eloquence that public buildings of the time were designed to provoke in all who looked upon and entered into them. We walked up the grand staircase leading from the main lobby to the second floor in total awe of the magnificence surrounding us. Upon reaching the second floor we approached one of the many librarians who are situated at various stations throughout the building and made our request.

Since we were looking for a book from the late 1800's, and a government report at that, I could tell from the sparkle in the librarian's eye that we had given her one of those challenges librarians welcome. We watched her use her terminal, occasionally writing something on a sheet of paper and talking to the librarian beside her, then she started to hand us the paper, as she told us to walk over to the Government Documents Room, then, turned once again to the librarian seated next to her. They had a brief conversation about someone named Tom, the gist of which was that this was the type of request that Tom thrives on. Then instead of handing the paper to us, she lead us over to the room where Tom sat behind the reference desk, spoke with him briefly, then left us with the words, "If anyone can locate these books, Tom can."

The Allstate spokesman who did the TV commercials had nothing on that lady, as we both knew, absolutely, that we were "in good hands". Tom worked quietly for a minute, then gave us a list of all the volumes in the series they had in their holdings. We told him which we were interested in, then he took us back to the book retrieval desk. We were informed it would take 10 to 15 minutes to bring the books to the desk, so we wandered through the building, gawking like tourists just fresh in off the street, rather than the professional researchers that we were.

Once we had the books in hand, the search for what we wanted commenced. Because of the specific information we were researching, it wasn't something which could be found by a quick glance at the index. It required browsing many, many pages, but at last there it was. What we were doing was trying to find the details of the death of one of the Umpqua River Lightkeepers. What we found was not what we expected, and it certainly drew into question the stories which we had heard. Here in the Annual Report of the Life-Saving Service was the report made by the people at the scene on what had taken place that fateful day when the keeper lost his life. To say we were excited at what we found doesn't even begin to do justice to either of our emotional states at that moment.

Unfortunately, once that piece of the puzzle was located, it didn't mean the questions we had were now answered, it meant that the puzzle was much bigger than we had thought. It's going to take a great deal of digging, with a stop at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City thrown in for good measure to probably gather everything we are looking for. But we don't look on that as work, we look at it as another adventure to be savored.

Later we spent time looking through the Library's microfilmed copies of newspapers from the late 1800's, gathering more tantalizing bits of information, but then again, generating more unanswered questions than those we answered.

Deep in thought

As you can tell from the expression on my face and the fact I'm holding my glasses in my hand, it required a tremendous amount of concentration to find what we were looking for. Neither of us can adequately put into words what experiences like this mean. Most people would probably not even undertake something like this, but for those who have done these types of things, or want to, the rewards are simply beyond description. Once again history had come alive before our very eyes. We weren't just reading words on a faded page, we were there.

November 2 Friday

Yesterday we did some major sleeping in, but today we couldn't have, even if we would have wanted to on account of something we hadn't counted on. It may have been the fact we had both slept so late yesterday morning, (giving Linda the benefit of the doubt in regards to her normal sleep habits) but we were both already up this morning when a very loud rumble penetrated the normal morning silence of the coach.

Morning noise maker

I'm not sure what the reason was for mowing at such an early hour, though we did determine it had more to do with our site number than anything else. We were in the second row and since they started mowing in the first row, it stood to reason that we would be next. Now if we had been parked way at the back of the RV Park, it would have been late morning before they mowed our site. Yesterday it worked out for us that we slept in when we could and so did it today we were up early when we needed to be. Guess we just live right.

Our site

Our plans for the day included moving up the road a ways, ending at the very northwest corner of the state at Fort Stevens State Park. It turned out to be a very pleasant drive as we headed over to the coast on Oregon RT 26, then turned North on US 101. The only thing that took us by surprise was the size of Seaside and the fact that 101 was some distance from the ocean, but then again, it is in close proximity to Portland and the beach is awesome, so maybe we should have been ready for it.

Once we were North of town, the wide open spaces returned, traffic thinned out and the miles rolled by. We knew that Fort Stevens was a considerable distance off 101, but the various turns are very well marked with brown signs, and before long we were turning onto the Park entrance road. The entrance station was closed so it was self registration for the campground, which meant driving around till you found the perfect spot, then returning to the entrance with your form filled out and proper amount of money to be deposited in the iron ranger,

A review of the campground map got us heading for the "M" loop, and about half way around we spied a nice spot that was also relatively easy to back into. The loop was set up with back-ins along the outside and pull thru's along the inside. After looking at it for a few minutes we decided to continue on around and if nothing better came along, we could always come back to this one. As sometimes happens, something good did come along, which was a site just before the entrance that looked like might have served as a camphost site during the busy summer months. That wasn't the real reason we were excited about though. The real reason was because it looked to be open to the southeast, which meant that just maybe we might possibly be able get online.

That proved to be the case, so site M-19 comes well recommended for access to the both the 89W and 101 satellites. It did prove to be higher in the back than the front, so we ended up with a big step when get in or out of the coach, something which is a small price to pay for the convenience of full hookups and a satellite connection in a heavily wooded campground. Since we hadn't come this far to merely sit around and play on the Internet, our in-house tour guide soon had us out the door with the intention of exploring the park.

Rusting hulk

That's Linda standing beside the remains of the Peter Iredale.

Rusting hulk, side view

The cylindrical object next to Linda is the base of one of the ship's masts. There are a number of webpages which provide information on the circumstances of the wreck, which happened in 1906. Here is one that provides a good overview of the ship and the inquiry into her stranding. She was nearly as long as a football field, measuring 279 feet from stem to stern, and though time and the sea has reclaimed much of her, here is a view from what remains of the stern, looking towards a pretty model standing in front of the bow section. You can also see the remains of the base of the four masts marking a line down what was once the center of the ship

Rusting hulk, end on

Here's a different perspective, looking directly at the bow.

Rusting hulk, bow view

Sure, that was more photo's than we normally post of things we see, but after having spent the past two months at the Umpqua River Lighthouse, a beacon which was designed to prevent accidents such as this from happening, the connection was simply too great to give only a passing thought about. Once again, we were living in the past, knowing there were real people involved, not just an inanimate hunk of what is now rusting metal. One has to wonder what the tortured shriek of metal must have sounded like when the Peter Iredale went aground that night, early in the 20th century. We can look and see what stands before us, or we can look and be there at that distant moment. It is up to each of us as to how we view things.

Looking into the distant past

Of course, one of the reasons it is so hard to leave the present and immerse ourselves in the past, is that the present has away of intruding upon our thoughts. Sometimes gently nudging us out of our reverie, other times booting us out with a thump, thump, thump.

U S Coast Guard

One wonders how, a hundred years into the future, we would react to this photo of the Coast Guard rescue helicopter with the the two men sitting at he door, their feet hanging out. Will it be just as quaint to the people of the future as this rusting hulk we are standing beside is to us? Why is it we only look at the past as history to us, but never at the present as history to the future?

Later we drove out to the very end of the park were we could overlook the Columbia, one of the truly great waterways of the continent. Coming in from the sea was a large vessel. we wonder where it at had been, what distant ports it had called on, not only on this voyage, but all the others it had made over what was no doubt, a long and, we hoped, storied history. See, there's that word again, history.

Ship in view

Try as we might, we couldn't make out the name of the ship, or where it was from, so a telephoto shot was in order.

What ship is this?

So much for exotic ports of call in the distant south seas, but then not all history is exciting, at least to the contemporary observer. As far as future historians, who knows, maybe some day a book will be written on the exploits of this very vessel. Of course with a little digging we might find we can dredge up more about the Essayons than meets the eye. Take a look here.

On the way back to the campground, we decided to explore a little more of Fort Stevens, discovering that Battery Russell spoke of another time and place all together.

Gun emplacement

At one time the fort served the purpose of coastal defense, and I'm standing next to where one of the large guns was mounted back at the time when the Iredale stranded herself. Everything is gone now except for the concrete structures of the battery. You can walk through the cavernous rooms where the shells were stored, looking at the place where they were hoisted up to the guns, the room bearing a faded stenciled sign that can just barely be made out. Next to the shell room was the magazine where the powder was stored, and further down the crumbling remains, a dank, dark room with the word Latrine at the entrance. Once an important part of keeping our country safe, it is now, none to gracefully, crumbling and rusting away.

Fire control

As I stood in the observation room I had to wonder what went through the minds of the men stationed here that June night in 1942 when the Japanese Submarine I-25 fired its shells at the Fort. Did it bring the reality of the War in the Pacific to them? What about me standing there this November evening in 2007, what was going through my mind, knowing that my Dad had served in the Pacific during the War, but also knowing that in less than a month I will be standing in the middle of Texas helping to interpret that same War to our visitors at the Nation Museum of the Pacific War. Coincidence or connection? I'd like to think the latter.

November 3 Saturday

Today is going to be a "Linda Day" as she has already planned out where we are going to spend the day. I took it from her comments of yesterday that we came up to this corner of Oregon in order to do some serious touristing, so tourists we shall be. The morning started with a short drive in distance, mileage wise, but for a far greater distance, time wise.

Linda at Fort Clatsop

As Linda has commented to me so many times, she doesn't know why she has become so interested in the journey of Lewis and Clark, but she has. Fort Clatsop is one of those places that is on the must see list of Lewis and Clark affectionados, the place were the expedition spent the winter on the Pacific coast. This is a National Park Service site, and just as we have come to expect, it was very well done. One of the first things we did was to view the park film and I must say it was second only to the one we witnessed at Andersonville in terms of how good it was. It told the story of the fort and what took place here from the point of view of a native American woman. It was a film that not only told a story, it also caused us to think about what we were seeing and hearing.

Once the film was over the museum beckoned, the highlight of which was standing beside Linda as she looked at one thing after another in the display cases and then spoke about the significance of each to the expedition. That woman really knows her Lewis and Clark.

Tools of the past

This proved to be anything but one of those museums where you take a quick glace at a display, then move on to the next exhibit, seeing so much but learning little. Here things were not only gazed upon, but also savored with the slow, steady determination to wring every last drop of information and emotion from what you were viewing. These were not just old things, relics from the past, this was us, our country, who we are, how we got to be this way, and why we are who we are.

Once we had digesting everything in the museum, Linda led us over the short trail toward the recently reconstructed Fort Clatsop.

Fort Clatsop

As Linda stood there, she seemed to be a little taken aback, so I asked what was wrong. "It's not what I imagined", she answered in a soft voice, "it's too new, it doesn't have the smell I thought it would."

What had happened was the Fort had burned down in October 2005 just as they were a month away from the 200th anniversary celebration. That reconstruction had been undertaken in the 1950's, and it was the patina of age which Linda had been looking forward to. Now looking at it, saying that everything looked brand new would be an understatement. What that had been lost in the fire had been rebuilt, but not replaced, something only time can do. As I looked at the Fort, I could see what she meant, even if in its current reincarnation it was supposed to represent the Fort shortly after it had been abandoned, it simply didn't have a lived in look. In fact it almost looked artificial, like it was built out of plastic instead of wood.

Fort Clatsop, inside view

I think one of the other things which was bothering her was the fact that, according to a sign next to the reconstructed Fort, they still don't know the exact location of the original Fort, though they do know it was very close to the where the reconstructed Fort is located. This little fact deprived Linda of walking where the members of the party had walked. Oh, they might have walked in the spot she was standing in, but it wasn't where the gates of the Fort were actually located, where the members of the expedition really had been, over and over on a daily basis. To Linda, she was here, but not here in the sense she was standing in the actual footsteps of Lewis, Clark, Sacajawea, Pomp, York, or any of the others. Like they say, close only counts in horseshoes.

Netul Landing was our next stop, which was just down the road and is one of many nearby sites that make up Lewis and Clark National Historical Park. To get to this location they paddled their canoes across the Columbia, then up the Netul River, (now named the Lewis and Clark River) this being the symbolic spot where they unloaded everything, then carried their supplies uphill to where they established their winter home, the Fort. There were many remnants of old gray pilings along the river and it took a while to discover this site had been used by the loggers to dump the logs into the water for transport to the mills between the time Lewis and Clark had landed and the present.

Linda wasn't into the logs, or even the landing, she was into something that was a far more spiritual experience for her.

Three on a Spiritual journey

Linda, Sacajawea, and Pomp, three people who had journeyed across the continent together.

With that it was time to move on, with the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria next on Linda's list. When we arrived, we saw a very sobering site in the parking lot.

Saying goodbye to a fellow Marine

Our first thoughts were that another Marine had lost his life in Iraq, but as we were later to learn, that was not the case. It was a lifelong Marine Reservist who had died and was thus being honored at his memorial service. The Museum proved to be another of those little gems that you never heard about, but are certainly worth the time and expense. At $8 per person it wasn't inexpensive, but by the time we were finished, it had proved to be worth every penny. As you can tell, Linda found the 44 foot MLB exhibit very interesting.

Getting a different slant on things

We also discovered the museum contained an interesting display of Lighthouse memorabilia. Here is a Fourth Order Fresnel Lens that still had its clockwork mechanism.

Fourth Order Fresnel

Nearby was something else that we knew was associated with Lighthouses, but hadn't seen. A U S Lighthouse Establishment bell, one of which had been mounted in front of the Umpqua River Lighthouse at one time, though it has been missing for years. Now we were looking at a Lighthouse bell which would have been quite similar. The picture doesn't show it, but there was an automatic electrically operated clapper to ring the bell. Sure would have beat standing out in the weather banging on it when it was required.


They were also having a special program presented by a Native American speaker on the history of the various people who lived along the lower Columbia before the arrival of the Asian and European traders.

What is this?

As part of the admission to the Museum, a self guided tour through the Columbia Lightship was also included. If confessions are in order, that was my original reason for being so enthusiastic about the Museum, though as I had learned, the Museum can stand on its own.


Just as the Lighthouse provided a beacon to guide ships, so did the Lightship, yet what a difference between the methods each used to lift its light up to shine out over the water.

Lighthouse of a different kind

The Umpqua River Lighthouse no longer had the mechanisms that gave life to its light, so how interesting it was to look into many of the areas of the ship and think of what life must have been like if you were stationed aboard the Columbia at the mouth of the Columbia.

Lightship controls

Just as the days of the Lighthouse have passed into history, so have the days of the Lightship, their stations now being kept by large buoy's like one pictured beside the Columbia. One has to wonder, at what point in the future will even the buoy's days be numbered as everything becomes dependent on the satellites which circle the earth?

Lighthouse of yet an even more different kind

Having spent another day immersed in history, we took a page from our own history as pyro-mom did her thing.

Having fun

Tomorrow we change direction, leaving behind our wanderings in the Pacific Northwest, pointing the coach to the South, and beginning a month long journey which will end with us in our own winter quarters just like Lewis and Clark. We will still be involved with the Pacific, simply in a different way and at a different location, one that is over 2000 road miles distant, and not far from the heart of Texas. Do we love this Life or what.

November 4 Sunday

This was a momentous morning, as we began the next leg of our own journey, setting out to explore in greater detail the lands we had merely passed through at an earlier date. Of course it will be over a thousand miles before those lands are in sight, but as always, it is the journey as much as the destination that causes us to continually want to explore what is around the next bend in the road. I had awakened before dawn and lay there with a strange sound driving me crazy, which almost sounded like mice running around in the walls and on the roof of the coach. It wasn't until after I got up that I realized it was misting very lightly outside, and this was the source of the noise. The mist was collecting into droplets which would then fall, striking the coach and making the strange sounds I was hearing. Imagination run wild, sometimes good, sometimes not.

Our route today may not have been far in distance, being only some sixty miles, but with the map showing US 101 more closely resembling a corkscrew than a highway, we figured it would be a slow trip. It turned out that it took just about two hours, and with only stop at a roadside overlook to take photo's at that.

Sun, sand and water

With the rain and fog, it ruled out catching any glimpse of the Tillamook Lighthouse, known as "Terrible Tilly", which is not down near Tillamook, but up near Seaside. It is named after the tiny rocky island it sits upon, Tillamook Rock, and picked up its nickname because of the difficulties encountered in building it. Of course, as we could have guessed, the rain and fog started to dissipate not too far South of Canon Beach, but by then we were on our way to Texas, so there was no turning back.

We had debated as to which RV Park to stay at in Tillamook, finally settling on Tillamook Bay RV Park, which was North of town, rather than the Passport America park about 6 miles west towards the coast. Linda had determined that by the time we drove the extra distance to the PA park, then drove back and forth to town, not to mention backtracking in the coach when we headed over to the Willamette Valley tomorrow, it made more sense, both time and dollar wise to pay a little more for the other park and come out ahead when we figured in the cost of gas and diesel, not mention the savings in time. When you marry a number cruncher, they are always looking for numbers to crunch.

Linda had also planned out our itinerary for the day, which included a stop at the local historical museum and a trip out to the Cape Meares Lighthouse. We also wanted to visit the Tillamook Cheese factory, but we can do that on Monday before we leave as it is right on our way. Looking at how she had worked everything out, I must say my chest was puffing out more than just a little at being such a smart fellow to have married her.

The museum proved to be another of those little gems that small towns in America seem to generate. One of the most moving exhibits we have ever seen was simply called "Tell Me About My Boy". It dealt with the 22 young men from the area, many still only boys, who had served our country during WW II, making the ultimate sacrifice, their very lives.

A Tribute with meaning

As we stood there, looking at this simply display in a small town museum on the Oregon coast, we once again had to ask, was it coincidence or connection that had brought us here. Would Linda and I being telling our visitors, stories just like these in the coming months as we volunteered at the National Museum of the Pacific War? Was all of this being done to prepare us for what was to come?

The display featured the life of Glenn Terry, not that his story was any more or less important than any of the other 21 young men. It drew a wonderful picture of who he was and what his world became, a young man who grew up, headed off to college to study in preparation for a rewarding career, only to have the war change everything. It spoke of how he dropped out of college to become a pilot, achieving his new goal at he controls of his own P-38 Lightening twin engined fighter plane. Then in a few moments on the coast of another great body of water, the Mediterranean Sea, in a flaming crash his life was snuffed out, one of the millions of people, whether military and civilian who died around the world in a war of such enormity and horror it still almost impossible to grasp, even after the passage of all the intervening decades. Were the cries of his mother any different from the cries of the hundreds of thousands of other American mothers who received the same telegram during those years?

The worth of a Life

We weren't the only country to pay for the war in terms of human lives. How about the people who last touched what these fused pieces of glass had originally been, did they want war? Had they waved the Rising Sun, just as we do our flag? Did they have dreams, not of war, but of someday becoming a Doctor and saving lives? Were they really any different from us? Were their leaders really any different from the leaders of many nations for all the millennia we have been on earth. Is evil absolute, or is it in the eye of the beholder? We marvel at the glory that was ancient Rome, but do we dwell on the fact it was built on the lives of the slaves from the regions they conquered? How will history judge our country, a thousand years in the future? And before we jump to conclusions, let us remember that less than 150 years ago slavery was quite legal in our own country.

The horrors of Nagasaki

As I looked at a display of WW II uniforms I couldn't help but think about my own family, both my father and one of his sisters in uniform, his other sister and my grandfather, as well as my mother working at war plants. It is hard to sometimes realize that what we do today is the history of tomorrow.

Lost in the past

There were so many interesting exhibits in the museum it was more than worthwhile to visit. Another display which caught our eye was this map of Oregon produced in 1855, which was part of the Native American room. You will notice that even though it is centered on Douglas County, where the Umpqua River Lighthouse was, it only shows Gardiner, Scottsburg, Elkton, Winchester and Roseburg as towns. In those days, the way to get from one place to another was via the rivers. Looking at this map makes the stories we tell about the first Umpqua River Lighthouse all the more real.

The way things were

The museum was housed in the old Tillamook County Courthouse, and while the first two floors were worth the money in themselves, the second floor held something that was simply jaw dropping. To do it justice requires a couple of photo's to set the scene.

Genius at work

A brief explanation of his life.

From humble beginnings

I wonder what $4500 in taxidermy fees would get you today? There was a large room we took it to be a former courtroom, which was filled with spectacular examples of natural history in the form of wildlife. This one was Linda's favorite.

What is it?

This was my favorite.

Not just a bird nest

This certainly was far more than we expected, especially since our real reason for stopping here was to buy a copy of the Cape Meares Lighthouse book. As you can see, task accomplished. (Notice what is clutched in my left hand)

Lighthouse book in hand

We had one more stop today, to see the ocean.

The Pacific Ocean

But just wasn't to see the ocean, it was also to see the Cape Meares Lighthouse.

Cape Meares Lighthouse

We decided the Cape Meares Lighthouse couldn't hold a candle to the beauty of the Umpqua River Lighthouse. Though with a slight addition to the scene, the addition of a truly bright Light, it was greatly improved.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Another day, another wonderful time. Comparison is hard to avoid. Thinking back to all the great photo's we took while at the Umpqua River Lighthouse, the Cape Meares Lighthouse simply doesn't belong in the same league. Still, it is worth taking one last look at. Now, what will tomorrow bring?

Cape Meares Lighthouse

November 5 Monday

Linda was excited when she got up this morning, meaning she remembered we had plans to visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory. The information we had read indicated the visitors center hours were 8 AM to 6 PM, seven days a week, but I wasn't sure what time she expected to drive down. With the time change we were up earlier than usual, so for all I knew, she was planning on getting there before they opened so we could be the first ones in the door.

That turned out to be the opposite of what she had on her mind, so while she got caught up on her record keeping, I worked on the website, and before we knew it, the time had come to leave the RV park. Since the visitor parking area at the Factory is designed to accommodate the summertime hordes, we knew parking wouldn't be any problem, so after hooking up the Explorer, we headed off just before the noon checkout time. It was only a few miles south on US 101 to the visitors center and factory, but even though we had been past it twice yesterday I still managed to drive by the visitors entrance. To say that Linda was a might upset would like calling an enraged mother grizzly as gentle as a lamb.

However, the Fred Meyer store, which was just across the bridge, made a convenient place to turn around and soon we were parked and Linda was out the door. I could tell she hadn't yet forgiven me for missing the turn, but once you're in the doghouse what else can you do?

Cheese factory

For it being a Monday in early November there sure were a lot of people there, but as we were to find out, it's not just a place to see how they make cheese, neither is it simply a factory store, nor is it merely a place to buy specialty food items, gifts, or ice cream. what it is, is most definitely more than the sum of its individual parts. It's what might be referred to as a happening, even if it wasn't as much of a happening today, as compared to what it was like at the heavy tourist times of the year.

They call their tours, self guided, I'd describe it as several very large windowed areas overlooking the production and packaging floors, with several TV monitors that provide information via a brief canned presentation. The first area you come to is the packaging process, and I think because of all that is going on, it is one most people spend time at. Here you can see the large 48 pound blocks of cheese coming from the aging room, being sliced into one pound blocks.

Big pieces to little pieces

One thing that sure surprised Linda was was amount of hand work that is done. But given the fact cheese is somewhat sticky, plus it being a natural product, meaning it would have some degree of variability, I don't think the number of people involved was all that surprising. The outside rows with the few blocks on them apparently were either over or under weight, and they either have some cheese added or cut off at the station in the center. It was fascinating watching the equipment do everything automatically, then to make it just right, it called for the human touch. Maybe they should call it: "Cheese, the food made by real people, for real people. Can food get any better than that?" Of course having had a long string of cheesemakers on my mother's side of the family, I know when it is made right, and when it is, it is the best tasting food there is.

Quality control

Watching cheese being packaged is one thing, watching it being made is another thing, and that was where we stopped next. It is only a few steps away in distance, but a world away in terms of the process. On one side you have modern packaging, on the other, except for lots of stainless steel and some modern testing methods, it is like it has always been. Just on a much grander scale. The cheese is made in huge tanks and the photo shows one of the cheesemakers adding color, so now we know how Cheddar cheese gets that nice color.

Cheesemaker making cheese

As we watched, they were making what we later determined to be red pepper garlic cheese in the the vat directly below where we were standing. We watched as the curds were stirred and the moisture drained off, then, after several tests had been run to determine if everything was just right, garlic powder, salt and red pepper flakes were added by hand. Here the pepper flakes are being added with a flip of the wrist which distributes them very evenly over the top of the cheese, after which a mechanical blender mixes them throughout the curds.

a little salt, garlic and pepper

Once all the additives were incorporated, the ingredients that make cheddar cheese curds look and taste like garlic red pepper cheddar cheese, it was time to form the curds into blocks.

Chips off the old block

This job continued until all the cheese had been packed into boxes, which were then pressed to remove even more water. You can see the expelled liquid pooling in the bottom of the press unit, before flowing off and down the drain.

Genius at work

Once the vat had been emptied and the cheese from this batch was being pressed, the job changed from one of cheesemaking, to one of good old fashioned scrubbing. Not only was everything hosed down, it was also washed with soapy water and then rinsed. In all, we stood there for nearly two hours, completely fascinated by the entire process taking place before us. Only when the cleanup process was completed and the workers walked away, so did we two watchers also walk away.

Cleaning up

It's one thing to watch the cheesemaking process, its an entirely different thing to determine if the quality standards for the cheese have been met. Here is a group of trainee quality control engineers hard at work, though I think the young fellow on the left has a real future as a professional cheese taster. On second thought, as many times as he went back through the line and re-sampled three of the cheeses available for tasting, the curds, the extra sharp cheddar, and the pepper cheese, he may have been having trouble with his taste buds.

What is it?

One thing we were really happy with was the fact the curds squeaked. There's wanna be curds and then there's real squeaky clean curds, these definitely belonged in the latter group, and due to extensive testing we are pleased to confirm that indeed they were real curds. Having eaten enough cheese at the tasting counter to pass for the main course at lunch, we decided to make it a complete meal and have dessert. Keeping with the "we're in this South Beach way of eating together" theme, we opted for just a single shared dish of sugar free ice cream.

Ice cream special

So what if it was a triple scoop dish, it was still only one dish. Rationalization is sometimes good for a body. Filling the dish were two scoops of vanilla fudge and one of vanilla black cherry. It was interesting because while the cherry was the best tasting of the two, though not by much, the fudge had a much firmer texture and gave what might be called, a better palate. Whatever the term, it just felt better in the mouth, now if they could just combine the best of each. Wonder if that ability to so readily distinguish differences in ice cream could be translated into a job as a profession taster? Maybe I'd better not go that way, because if it did, Linda would have a fit, though it would probably be fun training her in the fine art of tasting delicacies such as ice cream and cheese.

On our way out of town we passed the Tillamook Air Museum, but had already decided that it would have to wait for another day. Housed in the blimp hanger of the old Tillamook Air Station, which was used for coastal reconnaissance and defense during WW II, it now houses a large collection of war planes. Our thought was that we would soon have all the sights and sounds of the war we could handle once we got to Texas, which reminds me, I've got to start spending time each evening reviewing the materials they sent us from the National Museum of the Pacific War so I'll be ready to go when we arrive. Another major dose of history, is it any wonder I so enjoy this Life we live.

A really BIG museum

The drive over to Harrisburg took us over the mountains and along the rivers, meaning it was hilly, full of curves and downright difficult at times. Linda probably said, "Slow Down" more times during the drive than she had said in the past six months. I got the impression she really didn't like having all the junk and stuff she hordes, (my terms to describe the important things she leaves out on the counter beside her computer) strewn about the floor of the coach. If that wasn't bad enough, not only did the wooden chicken attempt to take flight, it actually made it into the air. Unfortunately, once it reached a decent altitude, gravity took over and it was literally dashed to pieces upon impact with the tile floor, completely losing one wing, with the other hanging on by only a thread. {Editor's comment: Looks like Bob has a glue job coming up!}

Eventually we did reach flat land, the road running straight, but we weren't over our difficulties. It took some time before we had a clear enough road ahead to swing out and pass this monstrosity, though when we did, the long line of vehicles behind us finally realized that it wasn't that big RV that was causing the problem.

Farm machinery

We didn't reach the Service Center until after darkness had settled, but we didn't have any difficultly other than a security guard who said the wrong thing to Linda. I had gotten her into one of those altered states she sometimes enters on account of my earlier wild driving (her term), so when we tried to park without checking in, he said the wrong thing. Especially since the letter we had received from Monaco had said there was no longer any security and we should find a spot ourselves and check in at the service counter the next morning. It's probably not in their make up to be humble, but by the time Linda was done with him he certainly was. He was also probably wondering how anyone could marry someone like that. Actually she a very sweet person, unless you get on her bad side, and now you see why I work so hard at staying on her good side. Combine that with my hearing loss and we get along just fine. After all, Life is what you make it.

November 6 Tuesday

Day one at the Monaco Harrisburg Service Center, (or Camp Monaco as it sometimes referred to) started early, especially for Linda as the radio came on at 6:30. Knowing the drill after having been here last year, we ate our breakfast of oatmeal with dried cherries, topped with Stevia, chopped walnuts and cinnamon. Then about 7:45 we headed over to the customer lounge to check-in, where we learned our assigned service writer, Jesse, was in the process of writing up another coach and would be out to our coach as soon as he finished.

While we waited Linda started a load of laundry and I worked on the Daily Journal. It was perhaps 20 minutes until we heard the knock on the door, and soon were going over our list with Jesse, who we could both remember from when we were here last year. Once the writeup was complete, we started to button up the coach so our service tech could drive it inside to begin working on it. Soon Les appeared, and we chatted for a few moments, he asking if the coach was ready to go and we replying in the affirmative. One thing we knew for sure, the MotoSat was definitely in the down, stowed and locked position. After Linda's race for the chase last year when she saw we had left the MotoSat up and had run after Don to get him stopped before it could be damaged, she was a woman with a single purpose this year; make sure the MotoSat was stored.

Of course when you only focus on one thing, which both of us were, you might just shut everything else out. Let's just say it was a good thing that Les always does a walk around before driving off since we (I) had managed to forget to unplug the electric. Luckily that means there are only two things on our must do list for the future. Or maybe that is unlucky because it leaves a number of things we can forget to do, since we will be concentrating on making sure the MotoSat and electrical hookup are taken care off. One good thing, we are running off the water pump rather hooking the water hose up, so at least we don't have to worry about that.

With the coach safely inside the work area, we took off to do a couple of errands, seeing Don our Service Tech from last year drive by in a coach as we were walking over to the Explorer. We could see what looked like a smile of recognition on his face, so we waved at him. Hopefully we will have time during the week to spend a few moments with him. We sure appreciated the work he did last year, plus the fact he took time keep us informed as to what he was doing. Whoever owns the coach he was working on today are fortunate people.

Our first stop sure brought back memories. It was only eleven months ago that we were about half way from Harrisburg to Bend when Linda so innocently asked me if I had remembered to get the mail when I was running my errands earlier that morning while she was getting her crown replaced. (For anyone who missed out on that little adventure, the crown I am referring to is in her mouth, not on her head) Not only did we have a good laugh recalling that incident, the Postman who was taking care of us also got a good chuckle as we related the story of the forgotten mail and what we had to go through to get that package forwarded to someplace we would be in the future.

Post Office

Linda thought it would help me remember if we took a photo of the building. Meanwhile I was thinking that this was probably going to be another of the numerous last thoughts which would be swirling through my mind as I lay on my deathbed. Sometimes things in Life are memorable and Linda made sure last year that this would be one of them. Forget the mail again? Me? Not in this Life I won't.

We had one other stop, at the Safeway in Junction City to get a few staples, then it was back to the Service Center. As luck would have it, the table where I had set up the computer last year was available, so other than the passage of eleven months, it was just the same as before. Well not quite, as the table where Fay and Linda had worked side by side putting together jigsaw puzzles had been moved to make way for the Roadmaster and Blue Ox displays, otherwise, it was all the same.

Little lost girl

It didn't take Linda long to settle in, finding a very comfortable overstuffed chair where she could relax and read.

Reading and relaxing

Though it looks like she may have been a little more into relaxing than reading.

Really relaxing

Once the sleep fairy had flown on to its next victim, Linda was the original up and at'em girl. I think maybe that early morning alarm had as much to do with her need for forty winks as did the sleep fairy. So we were off to check on the coach, Les wasn't around, but we could see the grout around the floor tile had been cut. Just then he walked in with more tape, a bunch of cloths and a heavy hammer, meaning the tile was about to come out, so figuring it was going to get noisy, we decided we had seen enough.

Floor fix

Old habits die hard, and once we were back at the customer lounge, Linda took on a puzzle.

Puzzling over a puzzle

What with the trip into town, the brief nap, the puzzling, puzzle and several trips to the coach, it didn't take long for the day to pass, at least as far as Linda was concerned. It was also a good day for me as I got several things done with the computer that had been bugging me for quite some time. These were little projects that I had been putting off, the kind that doesn't have to be done, but makes life easier if they are. It's always a great deal more fun to see readily visible tangible results for what you do, but in this case it wasn't necessarily so. Bottom line is, it will make my life easier so that alone made doing them worthwhile.

We did have one last treat in store, which was tasting the same type of cheese we had watched being made at the Tillamook Cheese Factory, garlic and red pepper cheddar.

Good cheese

We let the cheese warm up to get the full flavor and the results were more than we had anticipated. I can imagine a good number of people would find it was far too strong for their tastes, but to us it was "just right". First there was the cheddar taste, immediately followed by a very strong jolt of garlic, then the subtle heat and flavor of the peppers took over, gradually tapering off at the back of our mouth. That was Linda's description and I think it was right on as far as I was concerned. We seem to be alike in more ways than one, especially since we even taste cheese the same way. No wonder she can put up with me.

At the end of the day, the line of coaches looked out at the shop, each appearing eager to return and be made whole once again. They resembled knights of old, resplendent in their shining armor, the colors of their lady fair seeming to wave in the still misty air. It was as if the past, present and future had turned inside out, leaving dreams for reality, and reality for dreams. Yet as we looked on this surreal scene, we had no need to pinch ourselves. The Life we live is real, the road goes on and on, taking us to new adventures and places that are no longer merely dreams, but rather "the stuff" dreams are made of.

November 7 Wednesday

Day two at the Monaco Harrisburg Service Center began just like yesterday, with the radio waking up Linda. The only difference was it also awakened me, something that has become more the norm lately. Who knows, maybe when the good sleep fairy visited her last night it may have managed to spill a little sleep dust on me? Who knows, maybe it is true.

Breakfast was a simple affair, somehow I think Linda wasn't much into fixing a big breakfast, since it was back to onions and eggs, with a dash of blue cheese thrown in. After making sure the MotoSat was down and the electric was unplugged, I told you we would never forget again, Linda was off to the laundry, while I headed over to the customer lounge. What followed was a morning of reading and writing, Linda reading her book and I writing the Daily Journal, then reading a book on the Cape Meares lighthouse.

We knew that the refrigerator had been fixed yesterday, as well as the broken tile, but we weren't sure about the heat pump. The best way to find out was walk out to the coach and check with Les, so off we went. It turned out he was working on the heat pump and the news was good. Well it was bad in the sense it was not working properly, but good because the problem was due to a recalled part, which meant it was going to be on Dometic's coin and not ours.

Under repair

After a lunch of thin sliced roast beef and non-fat cream cheese on a whole wheat Flat-out, the current version of our old standby, the rollup, Linda made a new friend.

Little lost birdy

It brought back memories of my experience last year here at the service Center, when I got to bird sit a parrot one day. In this case the bird's owner was here and Linda got to have a nice visit. Her parrot talk suffered from a bad accent, but otherwise it was all smiles, at least on Linda's part. Meanwhile, back at the computer I was working away, this time on the beginning of a special project that is going to be one of those labor of love type of things. If I succeed you'll hear about it here. If I don't, it will die a lonely and ignominious death.

Reading and writing

We had planned to take the afternoon tour at the Monaco Coburg production plant, but as we were getting ready to leave, Jesse, our service writer, called us up to the desk. It looked like everything would be finished tomorrow and he wanted to give us a heads up. With the LOF scheduled for 12:30, it could mean we may be spending tomorrow night at the Wal Mart in Grants Pass. Afterward we went out to quickly check on the coach, then before leaving we made a cookie drop at Don's work station. Don was our service tech last year, and a nicer person you would never meet. We had bought some double fudge chocolate chip cookies especially for him while we were at the Safeway yesterday, and we wanted to surprise him. It turned out he was gone, so we left them on his creeper as a surprise.

After that we headed off to the plant, but not without me getting into trouble once again. Instead of going down I-5, I headed off towards Harrisburg, thinking it would be faster to go down Coburg Road. At some point, while still in Harrisburg, I innocently mentioned to Linda that she was going to need to tell me where to turn, since I didn't know the way. The volcanic eruption that ensued lasted well into the evening, as I learned lesson after lesson as to why man, or more specifically, this man in particular, is definitely inferior to woman. It wasn't going to do any good to point out that she always takes along the GPS, so why was it back in the coach. The gas gauge was also lurking just above the letter E, so it was also my fault we were almost out of gas.

Because of my stupidity, guessing that was the phrase which was on her mind, we didn't arrive at the plant until after the tour had already departed. As it turned out, we were the only ones there for the tour, so we got to go on it anyway. As always we learned more about the way the coaches are constructed, this being our third tour of the Coburg plant, and our fourth overall counting the one at the Wakaruska, Indiana plant. Linda found something she really liked, but unfortunately it was a tad out of our price range. I did have to admit that the wood in this Beaver coach the nicest we had ever seen.

What a finish

On the way back from the tour we got a call from Jesse letting us know the only thing left was the generator service, which would done first thing in the morning. Also he had one other piece of good news. The awning motor would be covered under warranty, so we wouldn't have to pay for it either. Then back at the coach, we had another pleasant surprise, Don stopped by. The cookies had done the trick. We had a great visit and also learned that Don's wife was associated with a new gallery, Corner Cottage Gallery, that would be opening tomorrow in Harrisburg. Guess we just figured out what we could do while we are getting the LOF done.

A nice visit

While Linda may not have any problems with using the washer in the coach, give her a normal sized washer and dryer for a change, especially free ones, and she turns into a near copy of the mad washer woman. I'll attribute the washer woman to her, the mad to me. When it ain't going my way, it ain't going my way. Just take a look at how I managed to take a one in a million shot, catching those pretty steely gray eyes of hers in the closed position. Suspect I'll hear from her about that as well.

One last load

The day ended quietly, as we talked to all three of our kids. They may be in their 30's, but once a kid, always a kid. For dinner we took a page from the past with the South Beach twist. One of my all time favorite meals, in fact I asked for it on my birthday more than just a few times, was hot dogs, baked beans and french fries. Tonight we had fat free hot dogs and kidney beans with sautéed onions and peppers. Nearly the same taste without all the bad things.

Good food

Tomorrow our Life changes once again, as we are off to visit family for a week, planning to hit the road once again a week from Monday, which will leave us with 12 days to get to Texas and the prospect of spending Thanksgiving somewhere in either Arizona or New Mexico. We will let the weather forecast dictate the speed of the trip and simply enjoy whatever it gives us. Now if I can just imitate a yellow rose when we get to Texas rather than the black dahlia I've been emulating lately, Linda will be a happy girl and I will be out of the outhouse and back in the dog house.

November 8 Thursday

What else but should our last day at the Monaco Harrisburg Service Center began early, even for Linda, though I think it was the excitement of finally being on the road again for Linda as much as anything else. It surprised us yesterday that the ice maker had made very little ice, so we had asked Les about it. He said that when they work on the water line to the ice maker it often gets an air bubble in it which takes a while to fill with ice. This morning there was several "dumps" of ice in the bucket, meaning it was working normally once again, so it was time to check for leaks. If it was going to continue to leak we wanted to know about it before we left so could make sure it was fixed.

Jesse had told us it had been pressure tested and that no leaks had been found, but why not satisfy ourselves and the first check, taking off the outside cover revealed no signs of water. Then it was inside to remove the furnace vent cover under the refrigerator where the results were the same. Not that we didn't expect it to be dry, but problems do arise even though they were fixed once as our experience with the door awning has shown. When we had asked Les about how he fixed the leak, he said he only had to partially remove the refrigerator to be able to reach the problem. That fact, plus its location at the top of the refrigerator, meant there was no reasonable expectation that we could have fixed it ourselves. I could just visualize us trying to fix it, Linda holding the flashlight and me doing everything else. Somehow I don't think that would have resulted in the water line being repaired. In fact it might have required something on me needing to be repaired once Linda got done using the flashlight on me.

After repair

Breakfast over, you can guess what it was (though Linda did add something extra but will certainly edit out any comments I might make about what it was), we headed over to the customer lounge. Looking back at the line of coaches, it recalled other RV parks in the past.

Ready to go

Once back at my usual corner , I read the book on the Cape Meares lighthouse, while Linda visited with the ladies. Of course it wasn't long before my curiosity got the best of me, and I walked out to see how Les was coming along. The filter for the generator is in a rather inaccessible position, and he had difficulty in getting it removed, saying it was the hardest one to get off he had ever encountered. I could only think how glad I was that we had it done here, rather than trying to do it myself. Maybe next time we, I mean I, will do it, but then again, it's only money and besides not living forever, we can't take it with us.

Almost finished

Linda had also been busy, watching the ladies at the craft table do their thing. She must have also been glancing my way on occasion because as soon as I returned from the shop area, she was there, smiling and showing what could be done to a sand dollar. I could just see the one we had picked up on the beach at Fort Stevens being changed into something akin to this.

A change for a sand dollar

It wasn't long before Jesse called us over to the counter and gave us the rundown on what had been done and the cost. We were happy that it was much less than the original estimate, mainly because they didn't have to completely remove the refrigerator, making that job considerably less expensive, plus the heat pump repair had been covered by a recall. After learning all that, you can understand why Linda has the big smile on her face in this photo.

A few dollars less

All done and ready to take off for Texas, with a brief interruption to see our kids and grand kids, we walked out to the coach, barely touching the ground in our excitement. Unfortunately we were brought back to earth with a rather sudden jolt when I turned the key to begin the process of starting. In a diesel you turn the key, wait for all the lights to stop blinking and the noises to stop, then turn the key the rest of the way to start the engine. Normally only the parking brake light is on, but this time, the ABS and the ATC lights also remained on. Something was wrong.

Bad news

After shutting the ignition off, trying it again, applying the brakes, flipping the ATC control switch, then moving a few feet forward and backward with the same result, it was time to head back to the lounge. A brief conversation with Jesse, a wait, learning he would have someone check it out, a wait, then learning it was what they call a momentary power interruption, think the opposite of power surge. After something like that happens, it takes the computer a period of time to reset itself. The mechanics had checked the computer and everything was now okay, so everything was good to go. Of course the thought that was running through both our minds was, is this one of those things that happens and means nothing, or is it the harbinger of something else done the road. Fortunately that thought was only a fleeting one, and in just a few minutes we were off to the Peoria Road Service Center to get our annual oil and filter change, plus chassis lubrication done.

While that was being done, me took the opportunity to do a little shopping. When Don had stopped by last evening, he had mentioned his wife was a partner in a brand new gallery which was opening today. It turned out to be just a short distance from where we were having our service done, so we did some shopping.

Happy shopper

Linda managed to find the perfect gift, plus it was fun just looking at all the neat things they had for sale. It's right on the main street through Harrisburg, and currently open Thurs., Fri., and Sat. As we were leaving, the shop, which is called the Corner Cottage Gallery we couldn't help but laugh at the sign for the hair salon in the same building. If the hair stylist has as much imagination in terms of hair style as he or she does in terms of what they call their shop, it could be a real experience to get your hair styled at the 'hair'sburg salon on Harrisburg.

Cute sign

Next we took a walk by the river, noticing how the old buildings still held there charm, while Linda looked for the fishing weights the native American people had used to weigh down their nets. We found a smaller rock that may have served that purpose, though it would only be a long shot if it was. Some things have as much fun in the doing as in succeeding and his was one of those things. Afterward it was back to the service center lounge to read and relax while they finished with our coach. Linda was acting quite nervous, constantly getting up and sitting back done, while I was able to lose myself in some information about the lighthouse. Me thinks Linda is most anxious to get home.

Lost in the past

We had not bought diesel since leaving Sutherlin in early September, and at that time we had only needed a small amount to top off the tank. Stopping at the Pilot station South of Eugene, it came as a little shock that prices were so high, then I remembered seeing that crude oil had recently broken the all time price record. The good thing is that we don't buy diesel very often, the bad thing is that we lose sight of what is happening in the world. You can almost make an analogy to the lighthouses and the search for less expensive fuel for the lanterns. When sperm oil became expensive and scarce, they experimented with different fuels, finally settling on lard oil, then about ten years later, changed once again to kerosene. Sounds like we are going through the same thing right now with our transportation needs. Something tells me that whatever they come with as the solution will only prove to work for the interim, just as the lard oil did. Now if we only had a crystal ball.

Not so cute sign

Our goal was to drive to Grant's Pass and spend the night at the Wal Mart, which we did, though we broke one of our rules and drove after dark to get there. Kind of like last year when we left the service center and drove late into the night to reach Winnemucca. It wasn't nearly as late nor as long a drive tonight, so when we finally did arrive, then ate some chili for dinner, it was time to do some shopping. The reason we like to stop here is because in this center there is a Big Lots, Dollar Tree, Rainbow Foods and Wal Mart Supercenter. Linda managed to find something she just had to have at each of them, though, as always, we more than paid for the privilege of parking over night at the Wal Mart, spending over $80 in the store. And that was with only one trip to the Wal Mart instead of our usual three or four. We even managed to find our Thanksgiving turkey, well maybe turkey breast is more accurate, but Linda was going to make sure we got it.

Thanksgiving turkey

It was interesting walking back towards the coach as the fog came rolling in. The entire area was populated with the sizable hulks of RV's. Everything from a tandem axle Beaver to a van conversion. The night before we were at camp Monaco where we were one of the smaller coaches, while tonight at camp Wal Mart we are one of the largest. That is the true joy of living the RV life, it seems that almost no matter where you are, you fit in.

November 9 Friday

The fog was still with us this morning, as were many of the 12 other RV's we had spent the night with in the Wal Mart parking lot.

Foggy morning

Breakfast was once again eggs, though Linda did much better this morning, merely cooking them instead of burning them. We were aiming to be on the road by 8:30, and we were right on schedule. The fog didn't last long and we weren't too many miles south of Grants Pass before the sun was out, the sun visors down and the sunglasses on. The view ahead was one of the mountains that separate Oregon and California, with the thin wisps of smoke climbing towards the sky seeming to provide natures exclamation point to the beauty of the scene.

Down the road

Once we were over the Siskyou mountains, we came down into the Shasta valley, with the most prominent natural landmark in northern California rising up to the southwest.

Mount Shasta

A little further on we crossed the high bridge over the Sacramento River Arm of Lake Shasta. Linda was having a good day playing photographer, except for one time when a photo of some wildlife showed up as a blur of color. I'll not show that photo, trying to be on my best behavior and not embarrass her, which may help get me back in her good graces.

Where is the water?r

Linda had not driven for a long time, so I brought that fact up and found out that indeed, she was amenable to taking the wheel. Since we were still in the mountains, I asked if she wanted to drive now or wait until we were past Redding, which meant out of the mountains. The speed with which she said, "after Redding", leading me to believe I had handled this little scenario quite well. I did make sure to stop at the first rest area we came to, where we ate lunch before she took over the driving duties.

Last lunch

That was going to be our last lunch in the coach for over a week, and we know we are going to miss our life. Linda ended up driving for more than 100 miles, which was a long way for not having driven but several times all year. She always says she needs to drive more often, and I suspect with all the wide open spaces we will be seeing on the way to Fredericksburg, Texas, she is going to get in a little more time behind the wheel. As the miles sped by the scenery changed and soon the orchards of Colusa and Yolo County were moving by the window. It always amazes me to think about the view to the future a farmer has to have when he plants an orchard, given the length of time it takes for the crop to start paying off. Does he plant for himself or for his children?

Starting an orchard

This was also the clue for Linda to stop at a rest area and give up the driving duties so I could negotiate the last few miles through the increasingly heavy traffic. She might not mind driving, but driving in the mountains and in heavy traffic are not what she enjoys. Even though we tend to travel at a snails pace compared to the cars on the highway, usually having the speed control set at 58 mph, we had made better time than we had anticipated and were far ahead of "Rush hour", arriving at our house at 3:32.

It had been five months since we had last stopped by for a few days, so Linda jumped right into things, going through all the junk mail that had piled up. We have all our first class mail forwarded to us by our daughter, so it is more a question of looking and tearing off the address labels than searching for the important stuff.

Having fun

Our daughter had done her usual great job of taking care of the front yard, which meant there were very things to do. Unfortunately the forecast for much of the week was calling for rain, so if we were going to get the little bit of trimming done that was needed, now was the time to do it. While I ran the trimmer, Linda took care of the cleanup and it was shortly done, though something tells me Linda would rather have been sorting mail than cleaning ivy trimmings.

Cleaning up

A bit later, our grandson Zachary came over and surprised us. Our daughter parked down the street and Zachary managed to successfully sneak up on us. Linda's yell of "Zachary" alerted me to his being there. While Linda talked with our daughter, Zachary and I finished up the yard work, then unhitched the Explorer from the coach. He did a great job, doing it all himself. He even got to steer the Explorer into the driveway, a fact he proudly told his mom about. He had also been busy while we were gone, building a house out of the American Bricks I played with as little boy when I was Zachary's age.

Future architect

We will be visiting with our family for the next week, getting in a couple of days of grandchildren watching while our other daughter and son-in-law take a brief get away trip to Lake Tahoe. It is a special time, what with the Holidays coming up and our plans necessitating that we be gone for both Thanksgiving, as we travel to Texas, and Christmas when we will be volunteering at the National Museum of the Pacific War, though we know we won't be working that day as it is closed. We also don't have any Internet connection right now, so postings may be spotty for the next week or so. Now if I can just keep writing and not fall behind, it will really be a good week.

November 10 Saturday

Saturday in the late fall, which can mean only one thing. No it's not college football, it's the sport all the kids are playing, youth soccer.

Soccer time

With two granddaughters playing on different teams, and this being the last week for one of the teams, we just had to go watch them play and of course having our son-in-law as the coach of both teams was also a plus. The first game, where our youngest was on the team, ended in a 3 to 1 victory, but what made it really special for us grandparents was the fact that we got to watch our granddaughter score two of the three goals. Once the game was over, it was time for the celebratory arch, and of course our grandson, Justin, just had to be part of the action.

Celebration time

Once everything had been gathered up, we were off to the next game where our other granddaughter proved to be a stalwart on defense, stopping a number of offensive thrusts by the other team. It was a very exciting game between two evenly matched teams and the 2 to 2 tie was a fitting way for it to end.

Soccer star

After the game there was another celebration arch for the team to run through, and just like before, Justin got to be part of it.

Another celebration

After everything was over it was time for a photo.


Of course there was more to getting that photo than just pointing the camera. As you can see, there were two photographers trying to get the perfect shot. Of course a photo shoot wouldn't be complete without someone making sure that everyone was perfectly positioned, and that everything was just as it should be, which was what Justin was doing. It must have looked just right to him, because once the photos were taken, he gave a big clap of his hands, followed by that special smile that only Justin can give.

The perfect shot

Since it was nearing time for lunch, we all adjourned to a nearby restaurant where everyone got filled up on chips, salsa, burritos, quesadillas and tostados. The fact that all three grand kids love bean burritos made the choice of which type of eatery to stop at very easy.

Good times

The remainder of the day was spent working around the inside of the house, another easy choice since it was raining outside. Maybe instead of working around the house, it could better by described as collecting things to be sold on Ebay. Having sorted out many of the smaller items in the past, we were down to deciding whether we had enough room to take along what was left. We will keep looking and indubitably some more finds will turn up.

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