Monday, May 28, 2012


Meeting Luke and Kady over Memorial Day Weekend

Click HERE to view all pictures

Friday, May 25:
            We pack up most of the trailer this morning, without the rain of last evening, and are ready to pull out of town just before 9am.  The fridge is much fuller than our Shake-down Voyage, and we are armed with at least some of the many items we talked about getting after that trip.  Still a few to locate at the Wal-Mart in Redmond! 
            This will not be a fast or cheap drive over and the mountains – up and down, up and down.  We figure we average between a mere 10 and 11 mpg.  Ouch!!  In fact, the gas light actually came on about 7 miles outside of Prineville.  We checked the manual – we have 3.3 gallons of gas left, which means only 30 miles.  And indeed, we put 18.85 gallons into the 22.1 gallon tank – just under 3.3 gallons left!! 
Nearing Mitchell - so many layers of hills!
            Enough about gas or the lack of it or the cost of it (we paid $4.29 in Prineville, but later found a station for $4.21 on the north side of town).  The drive over was fairly smooth and uneventful, but very very GREEN!  All the undergrowth under the pines is lush and thick.  The multiple shades of green between the pines, the tamaracks, and the grass are incredible.  The wild iris are in bloom in the meadows.  I was hoping for a great view of the Strawberry Mountains as we came into Prairie City, much as we viewed the Elkhorns, but alas, the range was totally covered in clouds.  We drove into the storm, and hit a little rain in the John Day Valley.  A little snow on the ground at Ochoco Summit – it was cool!  We ran back to the trailer and grabbed a quick lunch at the rest stop at Bandit Springs. 
            We arrive in Prineville around 1 and gas up.  ($80 worth – I think the most I have ever put in a vehicle.)  Then up Hwy 26 to meet 97 just south of Madras.  We saw where the road cut across to Haystack Reservoir, but this end of the road is gravel, so we chose to take the longer paved route! 
Site 3 at Central Oregon KOA
            Arrive at the KOA around 2pm – a 5 hour trek.  Not bad.  We are in Site 3 on the outer edge – a large grassy field is behind us.  In the next 4 hours we watch rig after rig pull in and our once empty strip is now full.  Get the trailer set up, plugged in, hot water lit, etc. and then take a walk around the campground.  Back for some quiet reading and writing (I finished up my devotional blog and picture), a few texts with Luke, and then it is dinner time.  A couple drops of rain fell during the afternoon, but nothing major. 
            Dinner is Bacon and Bean soup, bread, and salad.  Nothing fancy, but warm!  We walk over to the laundry area to do our dishes – trying to limit how much goes into the gray water tank. 
Beautiful reflections of the clouds in the canal waters. 
            After dinner we have at least 2 and a half hours before Luke and Kady arrive, so we bundle up and walk up the path to the canal that runs up the hill from the campground.  We find not a narrow little waterway, but a 20’ wide river!!  Deep with lots of water moving silently along.  A roadside path along the side that we walk, probably about a mile or so, to the Day Use area of the Haystack Recreation Area.  Behind us, somewhat playing hide and seek with the clouds is the massive Mt. Jefferson.  Mt. Hood is partially visible just behind a knoll near Madras.
 This is a big fishing lake.  The canal feeds into the lake, picking up “steam” as it goes through a series of weirs and gates.  Everything is lush and damp.  Balsam root in bloom, plus we see lupine, and some other flowers to be identified!  See one guy pull in a nice 12” trout, only to release him back to the lake!  Both directions along the canal, we spooked a mallard ‘couple’. 
Back to the trailer around 7:45 to write here-in and Rick prepares to build a fire.  I expect Luke and Kady around 9pm!  Guess we should clear off the front bed! 
The canal waters pick up steam and a few rapids as
they enter Haystack Reservoir
Luke and Kady pulled in right after 9!! Smooth sailing, but they had run through a storm over the pass.  Car loaded high and a new bike rack attached to the trunk which worked well.  We unloaded/stood/sat around the fire visiting until nearly 11pm, drinking wine/tea/ and eating pumpkin cookies and pretzels.  (Exciting times, huh?)   The sky has cleared (of the BIG clouds) and we see the crescent moon drop down and a brilliant array of stars come out.  

Saturday, May 26:
            Brrr!!  It’s a little chilly outside and inside.  We didn’t run the furnace last night – over night with the cloth ends it seems like it just doesn’t do that much good.  If everyone is sitting around the table, maybe a little heat could be helpful.  I curl up in the corner of the couch with my Bible study books and the computer.  The internet won’t accept my code this morning so I am at a loss for my scheduled text.  Alas!  I can still snuggle with my froggie blankie and a cup of coffee and read! 
            A little slow getting going….but eventually we all are up, cinnamon rolls consumed along with fresh fruit, and a lunch packed to head down to Smith Rock State Park.  Luke drives Tink – it gets better gas mileage than the truck! 
Looking northeast on the River Trail at Smith Rocks
            Once we are down to Terrebone and into the park, we realize just how many cars are here today!  It is packed!  Somehow we shall find a place to hike away from all the crowd…maybe! 
On the Mesa Verde trail heading up
to Monkey Face!
Monkey Luke at Monkey Face
            We take about a 5 mile hike along the River Trail, then up the Mesa Verde Trail to Misery Point Trail and back down – a huge loop in a clockwise direction that takes us up and around the big mountain of rocks at the south end of the park, to outstanding views of Monkey Face as we hike up Mesa Verde Trail.  There are rock climbers EVERYWHERE today.  It was crazy watching some of them in action.  At the top of the Monkey Face we watched a group set up a Slack Line (a wide webbing of rope) from the point across to the mouth of the monkey.  A slack line is walked on to travel across the open space.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to watch them use it because the storm looked like it was coming and we didn’t want to get caught up on the top of the mesa.  Thought it was a little windy for aerial acrobatics anyway!! 
Luke and Kady as we head back down at Smith Rocks
            Beautiful shades of greens, wildlife including a rabbit, Canada geese, deer, and lots of vultures and ravens.  Penstemons, balsam root, and a number of other flowers I need to identify.   We snacked on gorp enroute, but back to the car at 2 to lunch on humus, pesto, crackers, and pears.  Overall great hike, great views! 
            Down to Wal-Mart in Redmond – Luke and Kady need to pick up the chicken for tonight, plus Rick and I wanted to pick up a few more trailer things. 
The double rainbow after the storm...awesome!
            Back to KOA around 3:45… in time for Luke to set up the hammock he gave Rick and I, showers, and relaxing.  Dinner was chicken, grilled corn on the cob, salad, and artisan bread. Played a game of cribbage in the trailer during an intense rain storm, which was followed by an incredible rainbow to the west that spanned the horizon.  Later for dessert we made the 3-2-1 cake Margaret told me about, covered with strawberries and Cool Whip.  Then out to the fire pit for Luke and Kady to roast a few marshmallows and enjoy a new version using a salty cracker instead of grahams!  Earlier to bed tonight!! 
          Forgot to mention the parade!  Around 9:45 pm we were seranaded by the Glow Light Parade and chants circling the campground several times.  The campground leader was a crazy sort who kept the kids cheering with all sorts of yells and waving bright glow sticks, wands, etc.  Great fun, especially for the kids! 

Sunday, May 27
            Listened to the wind blow during the night and kept thinking it was rain.  But Luke gave me one of the blankets he wants me to take home for him, so I slept VERY toasty…almost too warm.  Up at 6:45am to download some pictures and read/write my devotions.  Luke and Kady were again slow to arise – it was sometime after 8:30 or 9 I think!  Breakfast of fruit and pumpkin/cranberry bran bread.  The sky is clear and sunny, but the air is still cool when the breeze blows (which is frequently!)  We shall again take Luke’s car to cruise. 
Mt. Jefferson greets us as we leave the KOA
            Our destination today is Cove Palisades State Park and Lake Billy Chinook.  None of us has been to this park before.  It is the reservoir formed when the Round Butte Dam was erected in 1964 to dam the waters of the Metolius, Deschutes, and Crooked Rivers near their confluence.  One dam, three rivers.  They estimated it would fill in a year, but with heavy rains and snowpack that winter, it filled….in a week!  A large peninsula is formed between the two arms of the lake created by the Crooked and Deschutes Rivers.  The majority of development, including the state park, is on this peninsula.  The most northern tip of the peninsula is closed to the public as an area called The Island – a 600’ mesa rising above the lake waters and totally ungrazed or developed.  It is used as a control research area by scientists. 
Weird rainbow halo around the sun!
            We drove completely through the park, stopping at the headquarters to pick up a couple of brochures, and then to all the day use picnic areas, boat ramps, and campground.  Drove beyond the park back up to the top of the mesa and then realized we didn’t really need to be going up there!  But that drive was worth it to see a huge rainbow ring around the sun!  Quite impressive! 
            We have decided to hike parts of the Tam a la’u Trail, which means “Land of the Big Rocks” .  It begins at the campground and climbs 600’ uphill in one mile to the mesa top.  Then a 3.5 mile loop around the top of the mesa, with the highlight viewpoint at the north tip overlooking The Island.  We hiked out to the viewpoint, but rather than complete the loop, opted for the shorter return trip instead. 
Lake Billy Chinook and The Island from the
Peninsula Viewpoint
            The mountains are playing peek a boo today, but we did, a one point or another and with a milky sky behind them, see Hood, Ollalie Butte, Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, Black Butte, Mt. Washington, North, Middle and South Sisters, Broken Top.  I think Mt. Bachelor was hiding behind Broken Top from our angle.  We also saw plenty of deer tracks, a few assertive little gecko lizards, and the following flowers:  heartleaf arnica (NOT balsam root like I previously said!), lupine, phlox, purple asters, bitterroot, sage,
Luke and Kady at the viewpoint
            All in all, a great hike, but we were tired and ready to stop by the time we got back to the car.  After the steeper climbs of yesterday, our muscles were starting to feel it!  The bottoms of my feet were sore.  So….back toward the KOA.  We decided to take a short drive on down to Haystack Reservoir so Luke and Kady could see what it looked like, since at this point, they aren’t going to get a bike ride in!  It was much busier than Friday evening! 
            Luke is ravenous, so as soon as we get back to the campground, we pull out dinner!  Pasta salad, bread, crackers, humus, pesto, veggies & dip – virtually everything I had ready for lunch AND dinner with the exception of the rhubarb crisp.  Luke made a pretty good dent in it all. 
            Luke and Kady are leaving tonight to head home via Welches.  Kady’s grandfather is failing, and she wants to visit with her Grandmother and Grandfather.  Also her father and all her four uncles are there.  Disappointing to have them leave, but certainly understandable.  They swim, shower, and pack up and are on their way around 5 ish! 
            Rick and I shower, read, write, and RELAX!!!  Whew!  Good time, but we’ve been on the go!  Rick tests the oven in the kitchen – it is fairly easy to light.  We gather a few wooly mullein leaves for me to try to make some asparagus dishes, enjoy a campfire, and retire early! Rick also enjoys a good phone conversation with Randy, who is leaving in the morning for Europe for two weeks!  
           Addendum:  This KOA has been crazy full for the weekend.  Lots and lots of families camping - kids and dogs everywhere, but for the most part, it has been quiet at night.  ( I write this, the dogs around us are getting each other all fired up!)

Monday, May 28 - Memorial Day
           Up again at 6:45 to read my devotions, and then begin cleaning up to prepare to leave.  We are starting to get a system for this trailer, but I'm sure it will take several more trips to really have our "jobs" delineated so all runs smoothly in pack-up.  This morning I took the inside duty while Rick worked outside.  We were doing great until he couldn't get the water hose off.  Put on the list - a  channel lock wrench (adjustable).  Rick holds the bar on the beds from the outside to make it easier to get the support bracket in and out.  However, when we went to dump, we evidently only got the black water to empty due to a slight hill at the dump station.  Lesson learned on that one - we unknowingly carried a 2/3 full gray water tank clear up to Emigrant Springs where we used an vacant full hook-up spot at the campground to empty and then left a few dollars with the campground host! We had realized it was still full when we stopped for lunch.
North of Shaniko
          On our way around 9:20 to sunshine and clouds.  All the Cascade peaks are visible at the base, but none of the peaks.  We have decided to drive north on Hwy 97 to Biggs Junction and come home on the interstate.  Hoping for better gas mileage, but also as a chance for me to take a turn at the wheel.  Having never driven this big a trailer (only the tent trailer last summer!), I don't want to start on two lane up and down roads!
Wind turbines near Wasco, OR
          The road up and over the vast plateau from Shaniko to the Columbia is crossed with wheat fields, cattle, and as we near the river, hundreds of wind turbines.  We knew wind farms had gone up in Sherman County, but .... Wow!  It was quite a sight!    We fill up at the Pilot in Biggs Junction, and Rick drives us to the John Day Recreation Center where we pull in and out, long enough to change drivers!  I drove the next 80 miles to the rest stop at Stanfield.  It is definitely more taxing driving when you don't use the cruise control and you can't really see what is behind you.  We may invest in the portable extended mirrors to put on the truck when towing.  It isn't like the old Silver Bullet that had windows you could see through.
          We run back to the trailer at Stanfield Rest Stop to grab a bite to eat, then another stop at La Grande for  round two of shopping at Wal-Mart (we had another list by now!).  Home around 4:45.  Tired!!   But a great visit with Luke and Kady and we learned more about our trailer and truck.  We still are not happy with the mileage we are getting, but that might just be what we have to live with for the time being!      

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Jay Feather Shake-Down Trip

Closing the door to pull out
of Baker City.  
Friday, May 11:
            Time to finally get the new trailer out on the road and figure everything out.  We are tired of reading the manual!  It seems to be filled with Warning Signs  - two to three per page in places!  Propane here, electrical warning there.  I can’t imagine that many things going wrong.  Better hope not!  Our destination is short – Phillips Lake and Union Creek Campground.  When Rick was taking a hike last week, he discovered trailers in the campground, so we know it is now open.  And it won’t kill us at $18 a night to get electricity and water – which we need to test all those systems out! 
            So….after a couple hours of packing upon my arrival home from my BMCC class (final session for spring term!) we take off around 12:45.  I was hoping for a Fed Ex package to arrive before we left, so I could get Mom’s Mother’s Day present into the mail, but no such luck.  It was suppose to arrive on Thursday!!!  Rick had spent the morning packing a few things and doing a test on the furnace, etc. 
            It is a beautiful day.  Absolutely clear and sunny, but the air is still brisk!  Should warm up into the 70’s by Saturday and Sunday, but it will be near freezing at night.  Yeah!  We have a furnace! 
C-5 Campsite at Union Creek.  
            Half hour drive to Union Creek and we pull through Loops B and C looking for a good spot.  We have plenty to choose from – maybe 8 other sites are occupied.  We finally decide on C-5 and get backed in.  We successfully use our new leveling jacks to correct the mild tilt to one side, and then finish the leveling front and back with tongue and hitch jack.  Rick gets us hooked up to the water and plugged in, so the refrigerator can automatically switch off the propane and to electric.  However, a few moments later, we realize the microwave doesn’t work, plus a few other things.  Power is weak.  We then realize there is a switch on the power pole you have to engage to actually get the power into the trailer!  Like a circuit breaker switch!  Once we did that – everything worked great! We make up the back bed – are basically just stacking the mattresses up at the rear of the front bed, and using the flat area as extended counter space!  You can move the table out of the way by placing it on top of the mattresses.   We forgot to bring the small TV tables as intended, so we end up setting up the big table later for dinner (The wind was cold outside!).  The main table is big, but necessary to have along if we are ever going to sleep on the dinette bed. 
            We are so glad we didn’t go with the Casita.  The opportunity to have someone else with us in this trailer is great – be it the kids, grandkids (????) or whatever!  Plus we just have such a bigger “feel” inside with the pull-outs.  We sacrificed a closet, but ended up with more shelf space.  The bathroom is MUCH nicer in this rig. 
One of two pans of shrimp!  
            A lazy afternoon.  Rick went in and read/napped, while I set up my chair in the sunshine and read/napped!  Eventually we both were chasing the sun beams around the campsite in late afternoon, visiting and talking. 
            Time to fire up the stove and try it out!  I could have used all three burners tonight, but I didn’t have that many pots or pans!  Menu is sautéed shrimp, fresh green beans, and stuffing!!  A pound and a half of raw shrimp, so we have plenty, but learn that you have to peel the “skin” off when you buy it that way!  Very messy, but it tasted good.  I burned the beans, but they still tasted good (not used to cooking them in water rather than steam) The stove ignites very easily…once we figured it out!  And the water was VERY hot when I went to do the dishes afterwards.  I put a towel out (the cover to the griddle since we don’t have a hand towel!) on top of the stove cover to dry the dishes.  Worked just fine!  We’ll use paper plates a lot, so dishes are mostly cooking and silverware. 
Rick enjoys our first dinner in the new trailer!  Shrimp!
            I have begun my list of things we forgot….or didn’t have in the “cooking bucket” for the tent trailer….cups, etc. that can go in the microwave, a corkscrew for the wine bottles (fortunately Tim Smith’s parents in the site next to us loaned us one!), a mini broom, the hand towels missing from the bucket, etc. etc. etc.   That’s what a shakedown trip is for!!  And to help me figure out where and how I want to store everything in the kitchen area.  With the microwave possibility, I might just end up purchasing some dishes, etc. that will stay here in this trailer, and keep the bucket armed and ready to go for tent trailer camping. 
            After dinner we took a walk down through A Loop – trying to find where we celebrated the Silver Bullet’s 50th birthday, and then through the tent sites and all along the lake past the picnic area and back to C Loop.  A beautiful evening out, although still a little windy.  Back to make a campfire and enjoy the warmth and mesmerizing effect of the flames for a couple hours before tucking ourselves in for the night. 
Sunset on the lake Friday night. 
            Important note – finally tested the new potty right before bed.  Such fun and it flushes so quickly and easily!  The queen bed is definitely a bigger “feel” than the mini double of the tent trailer….we can manage this size bed!  Rick has his super sleeping bag and I my lightweight one (don’t have a super), but I also brought my frog quilt from Margaret and a couple of fleece blankets, so I should be good.  (And I am!)  Rick sets the thermostat for around 50 and we hear the furnace kicking on several times during the night
Just after we turn off the lights we hear a chorus of coyotes howling across the lake, up in the hills.  Rick said he heard them again in the night.  . 

Saturday, May 12
            No clock by the bed, so I just keep turning over and going back to sleep until finally I have to use the bathroom.  It is 7am!  A good night’s sleep for me!  The sun is out, the air is definitely cool.  I wrap up in the frog quilt, turn the coffee maker on (I had it all ready to go!) and do my Bible study and a couple of drawings from yesterday.  Then it is time to catch up here and NOW IT IS TIME FOR BREAKFAST!  More later!!! 

Elkhorn Range from Bridge Creek. 
Lots of green and inlets of the lake. 
            Breakfast is fruit plus pancake roll-ups for Rick with peanut butter and I have a little yogurt and cereal.  Then some more lazy reading and working of puzzles…. By 11:45 we decide to grab a light lunch before we take off on the bikes to ride past Social Security Point and Mowich Loop and out to the end of Hudspeth Lane.  About 4.5 miles, the last part on the road, the first part on the Shoreline Trail.  Route includes a good uphill stretch out on the highway…which I managed to do without stopping and in third gear the whole time!!  Mostly we stopped often to check out various birds – mallards, geese, and osprey, plus swifts  woodpecker,  and red winged blackbirds.  Saw just a few wildflowers – some dandelion types and more grass widows.  In a couple of weeks the wild iris will be in full splendor!  But the grass is so green right now that the fields were beautiful.  Biggest obstacle was dodging all the pinecones in the trail. 
My bike is holding up the camera! Out on Hudspeth Lane
with Elkhorns in background. 
The osprey flew through just as I
clicked the picture! 
            Back to the trailer around 2:30 to try out the awning and then test the shower facility!!  The awning took us about three tries to figure all the kicks out, including…shut the main door first!  They don’t tell you that in the instructions, but it gets in the way! 
Success at putting up the awning!   
            While waiting for Rick to finish in the shower, I found a tick on my neck!  Aghh!!  Hate those things!  Rick declared me “clean “ after a thorough check!  Shower works great, the air conditioner works fine also.  (We were hot when we got done with the awning and our ride!  It didn’t stay on long, however.) 

Grass widows everywhere!
Red faced Rick ponders the fire. 
           Afternoon lazing around reading, etc. and enjoying the sunshine.    We thought about calling some of our Sumpter friends to join us for campfire, but then remembered they would have to pay to come in and we weren’t sure how long we would last tonight to stay up!  So around 4:30, Rick made our campfire so we would have some good coals for the turkey kielbasa dogs we have to cook up.  (Complete with sourdough pancake “roll-ups” for the buns), plus dilly beans, baked beans, and cut raw veggies with dip  Rick also tried to mix some of the green tomatillo salsa I made for him with regular salsa, but it was stil WAY too vinegary.  That batch of tomatillo was a disaster – won’t use that recipe again! 
            We took a walk again around the area after dinner – the campfire was in status quo mode enough to leave it for a bit safely.  A beautiful evening.  Back to enjoy the campfire a bit longer and then head into the trailer at 8:20 to play some games!!!  Yeah, Rick!  A round of Quiddler and then 4 rounds of Rummy.  I won Quiddler and Rick won rummy, so we both could go to bed happy!  J 
Do you see the
eye in the fire?
            It is warmer tonight and we decide not to run the furnace at all.  Cozy into our bed and read until probably 10p and lights out! 

Sunday morning, May 13 – It’s Mother’s Day! 
And THIS mother is hoping her youngest son is safe as he climbs to the summit of Mt. Jefferson this morning.  Hoping the snow froze up enough to make it an easy and safe climb.  Hoping we get a call by noon at the latest saying all went well!   Hoping and praying! 
I woke up earlier today and got up at 6:20a.  I will need to keep my watch on the light stand, so I at least know what time it is when I arise.  I don’t want to have to climb over Rick often….that’s the only downside to the sleeping arrangements.  There isn’t as much space for me to climb over or hold onto to step over him and then down.  I waited last night until I heard him get up and then went to the bathroom at the same time! 
            Anyway, I curled up in the couch area with my blankets and a hot cup of coffee and did my Bible Study.  Then ‘went to church’ by reading the bulk of the Revelant Magazine that had arrived last week.  An entry in this log, and breakfast to follow! 
            All we have left to try out is using the dump station!  That shall be our adventure for the day.  We have found we will have to be careful with the grey water levels - after our showers yesterday we were already 2/3 full, and we really haven’t run the water THAT much.  But…it’s a small trailer, which means smaller tanks! 
Read and enjoyed the sunshine today until about 9:30 when we started getting things ready to leave.  I rode the bike up the exit hill (a different route) to locate an alternate dump station, but just the one which we shall have to pull into from the opposite direction to get our hose to reach the drain.  We manage fine and can cross that off our “first time” list.  Did learn that rubber gloves would be handy to have – we just liberally applied sanitizer when done! 
Total trip about 40 miles round trip – we are NOT getting great mileage with the trailer, but we knew that would be the case.  Still could hope for an improvement!  Home in time to quickly empty trailer so we can back it across the street into Ryan’s driveway, unhook and be ready to drive out to the nursery in Keating for my annual Mother’s Day flower purchases! 
Not Union Creek, but the Wallowas were gorgeous driving to Keating!
 Just got a text from Luke that he is safely off the mountain.  It is 7:40pm - definitely took much longer than they planned.  He said he is utterly exhausted, but safe.  Whew!  But the text was the best present I could have received at this point!