Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Kearnie, Nebraska to Columbia, Missouri

Friday, November 3, 2014

We got off to a late start after I added DEF (diesel exhaust fluid, keeps the exhaust from smoking) to the truck, and put air in a couple of tires. Back on I80, we drove through Lincoln. Outside Omaha City we dropped down to I70 via I29, which is also a pretty drive. By lunchtime we pulled into Squaw Creek National Wildlife Preserve and ate sandwiches. It has been renamed Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Preserve, since squaw is a derogatory term. We started to take the 10-mile drive around it. I could see ducks going everywhere, and it would be a field day for a photographer on an overcast, cool day, but the road was a dusty gravel road. I didn’t want to fill the Airstream with dust again. I could have unhooked, but I could have easily spent the rest of the day shooting ducks with a camera. It’s a very cool area that I would love to return to, but Martha Jean had the homeward look in her eye.

IMG_1293

DON’T VEER FOR DEER

IMG_1294

183 NEBRASKA DEATHS THIS YEAR

Driving through Kansas City was a bit harried on a Friday afternoon. Frantic drivers were anxious to get the weekend started. Leaving proper stopping distance between us and the car in front just makes a void for drivers to pass through, but you just have to do it and be patient. Thankfully out of the city and on our way to the next, St. Louis, we were on I70. We noticed signs for the Katy Trail. From http://www.bikekatytrail.com, “The Katy Trail is a 237 mile (386 km) trail stretching across most of the state of Missouri.  (Use this link if you’re looking for the Dallas Katy Trail).  Over half of it follows Lewis and Clark’s path up the Missouri River, where you can ride beneath towering river bluffs while eagles circle overhead.  After leaving the river, the trail meanders through peaceful farmland and small-town Americana.

America’s longest “rails-to-trail” project, formerly the MKT rail line, is flat and scenic.  It’s ideal for hiking, running, or cycling on just about any kind of bike.  Horseback riding is also allowed on a 35 mile section of the trail, from Sedalia to Clinton.  Also, the Katy Trail’s Tebbetts-Portland section now allows equestrian use.” Reading up on it, this would be a fun ride, all flat and along the Missouri River. I’d love to do it!

We also passed Warm Springs Ranch, where Budwiser’s Clydesdales live. By the time we got to Columbia, Missouri, we had done 450 miles. We stayed at Cottonwood RV Park, where I stayed on my way out. This is an excellent travel facility with nice staff, restrooms, laundry and a pool. It was completely filled since the University of Missouri was playing Florida. They won the game 45-16, so they must have been thrilled.

 

Rawlins, Wy to Kearney RV Park, Nebraska

Thursday, November 2, 2017

People ask why I post several days at a time. Most of the time it is due to inadequate WIFI, so when I get to a good one, I can catch up. That might be a campground, a coffee shop or library.

We were happy to wake up to winds that weren’t so strong. I started to fix breakfast, but Martha Jean said, “Let’s go!” For the first time we were on the road before sunrise. From Rawlins, we drove to Laramie and Cheyenne, crossing the Continental Divide at 7,000′. The wind was still blowing hard at a rest stop. Reading the signs was pretty interesting. This area always has strong winds, and it blows the snow off these high ridges, allowing elk, deer and antelope a place to graze.

As we dropped down toward Cheyenne, the entire valley was wrapped in fog. OK, good. A different challenge today! I put my flashers on and slowed down as we headed down into it. Then finally up the other side and out of it, I was relieved. Changing time zones to Central Time, we arrived in Kearney, Nebraska at about 4:30 and 470 miles for the day. As we checked into Kearney RV Park, we asked about this being the Sandhill Crane capital of the world. She said March is the peak month when they are all over the place, as she described it. I’d love to see it. With a good laundry and showers, we had some catching up to do.

Wendover, Nevada to Super 8, Rawlins, WY

IMG_1277

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

If yesterday’s drive through the high sage plains, today was totally different. We were immediately on the Bonneville Salt Flats, with only a break when we crossed a big mountain range. On the other side was the Great Salt Lake. We passed the Morton’s Salt plant with their lady with the umbrella out front. Salt Lake City is a busy place, even on a Wednesday morning. There are lots of roads coming in and out of Interstate 80, around curves and up and down a mountain. Young people in cities drive like they are playing a video game. I am always happy to get out a big city.

Then we were into red mountains, and then wind. The winds were blowing all day, but we really didn’t notice it much while driving. When we came to a rest stop, though, we had to hold the doors tight when we opened them. A flashing sign to beware of 50 mph winds. Late in the day another flashing overhead sign said the road ahead might be closed. 70 mph winds with a high risk to high profile trailers of blow-over. We got off at the next exit looking for a campground, but it was closed. As we sat there considering our options, the wind rocked the truck and trailer. Across the street was a Super 8 Motel. We pulled around the downwind side where it blocked the wind. We went in and booked a room, then went downtown to Anong’s Thai Cuisine. We had a nice dinner with leftovers for lunch tomorrow. I was comforted knowing how well the Airstream did in pretty strong winds.

410 miles today

IMG_1278

Drive Lakeview, Oregon to Wendover, Nevada

October 31, 2017

It was 27 degrees and windy when we got up, and we were feeling the need to get out of the Rockies. Looking up the top 10 things to do in Lakeview, we discovered there was a geyser right next door, so we hooked up and drove over. It’s a pretty cool area where “Old Reliable” spews steam about 100 feet in the air. It sits in a hot pool. There are several ponds on the property that are loaded with ducks. There is a motel on the property in need of serious money infusion. I could have stayed and shot pictures, but Martha pointed the arm to the east, and off we went.

We drove Rt. 140 east across Oregon and northern Nevada, the same way I came out in July. It is an all-day drive through arid sagebrush prairies and mountains. It is more impressive in this direction, looking at the big, blue mountains in the distance. This is Jeep country, where you could drive and camp forever. Best bring your GPS though. You could get lost out there. Houses are few and far between out here, and you’d better gas up before setting out, but I think this is a very cool drive.

Time changed to Mountain Time. 440 miles today

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Brookings to White City to Lakeview

October 30, 2017

Heading back home, across the country, we left Brookings and drove through the Redwoods National Park on our way to Grant’s Pass and on to White City. 199 is a beautiful drive along the Smith River. My new Pickup Pack was leaking water badly, so I called Highway Products to see if they could help. They very efficiently recaulked the sides while we ate a quick sandwich. I got a chance to talk with Steve, who guided me on the Rogue River twice. I sure hope I can get back here to fish with him again. Now we were in the “going home mode”, trying to make miles. Unfortunately, we went the wrong way for 30 minutes and had to backtrack.

It’s another beautiful drive from Medford, Oregon to Klamath Falls. We considered going up to Crater Lake, but one road was closed, it was cold and winter was coming. We didn’t want to get caught in the Rockies when it is snowing. Martha pointed her arm straight forward and on we went.

We made Lakeview by late afternoon, checking into Base Camp RV Park. It is run by a nice couple and was a good stop with a beautiful sunset.

Redwoods National Park

 

October 29, 2017

We stopped at Bakery by The Sea and got a muffin and some scones. Soon after we got there, a long line developed in this tiny shop. Then we headed south on 101 to the Redwoods National Park. A young ranger gave us suggestions of where to go. We drove the Howland Hill Road, a gravel road winding through the forest. We hiked “The Stout Grove” for an hour or so. Huge, beautiful trees standing along the Smith River were so impressive.

 

Somehow we chose the Hungry Clam for our last seafood dinner before heading home. We were early, so we disregarded the absence of cars in front. It was awful. As we drove away, we passed a pub and another restaurant packed with cars.

The Oregon Coast

October 28, 2017

We drove north from Umpqua Lighthouse Campground to Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area. I had been there in July and liked it very much. It is a beautiful area with the creek running through and the river across the street. Little hills with changing leaf colors were shrouded with fog. Ducks, geese and egrets love this place, and why not? We didn’t see elk at the main viewing area, but I could have shot pictures of ducks and geese all morning, but driving to the north end, we found a surprising group of all bulls. Maybe the big bull has already kicked them out.

On the way back we stopped at a bakery with lots of cars parked outside. It was a happening little spot where people were lined up to get coffee and some of their many pastries, donuts and cookies.

As we came back through camp, we stopped at a Silver Streak trailer. A lady was outside, so we got out and chatted a bit. Martha was her name, and she was worried about finding a sports bar to watch the big game. “What game is that”? we asked. “The Ohio State/Notre Dame game”. She and Bob are from Ohio, but have been traveling west for a while. Bob’s brother gave him the trailer, which was produced for years by a former Airstream employee. We told them D&D Pub where we had gone the night before. They gave us a tour of the trailer, which was very cool.

Then we hooked up and headed south on 101. Although I had driven it the other direction in the summer, It was a different perspective in a different direction on a foggy day. It is an incredibly beautiful drive, and hard not to stop at every pull-over, picnic area or state park. Oregon has done a magnificent job of preserving the entire coast. We drove the Scenic Coastal Loop through Bandon, stopping for lunch where the Coquille River meets the ocean. Ducks were feeding frantically right in front of the trailer while geese and a kingfisher flew about. Seagulls sat and watched the happenings while a crashing surf pounded a jetty.

We stopped in beautiful places along the way. I love the scenery in misty fog. Harris Beach Campground in Brookings was surprisingly busy for this time of year. It was a weekend, and a pretty one at that. We found a nice site, but it was one of those days when I found it difficult to back into the spot without 19 maneuvers. Martha was just shaking her head. I decided I should go into town and get some wine. Fred Meyer grocery store had a great selection with good prices. A few other odds and ends and back to camp for dinner and a little reading.

 

AM Solar and Highway 101

October 27, 2017

The solar system has not been performing right since we had a power problem back in August. I called AM Solar in Springfield, Oregon and talked to a technician named Mitchell. We agreed the best way was to bring it in. I was delighted they could see me. I didn’t think it was a big problem, but it needed reprogramming. AM Solar is the leading center for solar, and I have read a lot of information on their website.

Mitchell met us at 9:00 and quickly reprogrammed some things. He was so quick, I couldn’t follow what he did, but he explained a lot of things, and I understand a few more things about how to manage the system. Mitchell and his team helped write the software that manages the system. He gave me his card saying I could call any time. Whew, what a nice, professional team they have, and so nice to have another contact when I need help!

We headed west to Highway 101 on the Oregon coast, stopping at the Visitor’s Center in Florence. We got some good information on the coast. Next door is a good seafood store where we got a great cup of clam chowder and some canned tuna. I wanted to go north to Hecela Lighthouse. It is such a gorgeous spot that I had quickly passed in July. A beautiful bridge was built in the 30’s in the Roman aqueduct design. A sea lion area is just around the corner, where we spotted some from the cliffs above.

Heading back south past Florence, we went to Umpqua Lighthouse Campground. Camp hosts, Liz and her husband, met us in front of the sign-in board, telling us the available sites. We chose a good site and went back up to pay. Liz gave us a lot of information about the area, including a bar in Winchester Bay that serves the best oysters around. They are farm-raised in Triangle Bay, washed by fresh Pacific waters every day. A beer and oysters sounded good, so off we went.

I ordered fried oysters and Martha Oysters Rockefeller, both of which were great. We were so lucky to find great company. The couple at the table behind us were Liz and Larry, farmers from Quincy, Washington. Liz was just a trip, telling all kinds of stories. Then Kent pulled up to the bar next to us and asked the very busy server/bartender/waitress to put on the world series game. Well, good company and conversation, good food and a good baseball game, what more can you ask for? Kent is a paramedic who travels around the state teaching courses. He had some good stories, particularly about dentists using Ketamine on drug users who were compromised. Liz talked about farming and corporate farming today. They come here frequently, and they also like Montana, going to different towns each time they go. She loves farmer’s markets as well as going to music events. They like to crab here. Although they hadn’t caught a lot, they caught enough to eat. “What more can you ask for? It’s just like farming”.

I had to have at least a little time to read my book, so we went back to camp thankful for another good day.

Hoh Rain Forest

October 25, 2017

We visited the Hoh Rain Forest on our way to Kalaloch Campground and walked the “Wall of Moss Trail”. It was spectacular. It had rained all morning, but we were very lucky to get a break for our walk. The Hoh River runs along the road leading to the Visitor’s Center. Despite chilly weather and a steady rain, we saw four drift boats fishing the river. As we stopped to watch, one guy raised a large, beautiful salmon.

We continued our drive to Kalaloch Campground that sits above a beautiful beach. We were lucky to get a campsite in this small campground. Those lucky enough to have a site next to the beach had great views and sunsets. We went down to Kalaloch Lodge and had dinner sitting beside a window as the sun set. A very nice couple sat beside us. I couldn’t help but overhear them talking about a trip to Alaska. They come here every year for a few days. It is no doubt a great spot with cabins sitting on the cliff’s edge.

IMG_1245

View from Kalaloch Lodge restaurant

Sol Duc Falls, Salmon, Move, Beach, Second Beach

October 24, 2017

At 8:30 in the morning it was too early for the sun to reach across Olympic Mountain and into these dense forests, but it was just peeking through the trees in those cool, smoky beams of light. It’s a short hike to Sol Duc Falls, but the rain forest is beautiful. My pictures are inadequate for this beautiful spot. It is small, but a long, cascading decent over lush, green logs and rocks, moss and fern. Silently we walked up along the side of the stream and every stop was beautiful. On the way back we passed a serious photographer with his backpack and tripod. Surely he would get the right light, and it would be even more spectacular.

Yesterday we saw two salmon come into the tiny, shallow pool beside our campsite. Driving back into camp Martha said to stop by a pool a couple of sites down from us. Two ladies were gazing over the edge of the creek as we walked down. They said, “Come look. salmon are swimming into the pool”. Sure enough a salmon splashed its way up a shallow riffle, around a log and into the shallow pool. We watched a few more come in. The ladies then told us we MUST go to The Cascades down the road where the salmon are jumping through them. One said, “It’s National Geographic moment. You are going to love it”. I couldn’t wait! I have been looking for this the entire trip. We thanked them for showing us the fish and directing us to the falls

We hooked up the trailer and headed just 5 miles down the road. Lots of cars were there, but we found a place to park the truck and trailer. Crossing the street with two cameras in hand, we could see the falls. Martha yelled, “Look at them! One, two three all at once”. I was looking at the stream near me and saw nothing. She was looking 150 yards ahead at the falls. We hurried along the wet, slippery trail to the falls finding a spot to see. Sure enough salmon continuously launched themselves into the falls, and then I think were washed back down. Big ones, small ones, all leapt into the rushing waters. Two little pools along the side held many fish in the only resting places. You couldn’t see any at the top of the falls, but we know some got up, because they were in our campground.

Two photographers were in a great spot shooting away. The woman was sitting and was really focused on the fish. I was looking at the man’s hat that said something about fly fishing when he pointed to my hat from Misty Mountain Fly Shop. We struck up a conversation about the salmon running, and that these were wild Coho salmon that start their run in July and August. They can make 20 or 30 miles a day. Fishing has been banned this year as there weren’t so many running because of warm El Nino waters. He talked about the hatcheries that clip the adipose fin to distinguish them from wild salmon. All of these had adipose fins, which is a rare thing today, but happens a lot on this river. His accent didn’t sound local, and I asked where he was from – New Hampshire. He loves to fish and he loves this area. He and his wife shoot pictures for the park, but they donate them. They had just returned from Alaska shooting polar bears. That too was something they do for free. Always looking for a way I might pick up a buck or two in my travels, I asked point blank, “How do you make a living”? They own a family golf course in New Hampshire, which his brothers manage.

 

Then he mentioned something about artwork. Their names are Ken and Mary Campbell, and they do wood carvings and nature photography. He has a wildlife degree, his first job being as a marine biologist. We were getting an education on summer-run salmon, winter-run salmon and steelhead. He said you have to be tough for the winter steelhead run in February, but it’s something. He likes to fish the ocean and lakes. The locals say it isn’t like it used to be, but what is? You can catch a lot of big fish in the lakes. “If you come back, call me. I’ll take you fishing”. Sheez, what a nice and knowledgeable guy. He said if you like spring and fall, you will like it here. They don’t get much snow. Yes, it’s gray and rainy for five months, but you adapt. He heard there was a bobcat at these falls last week, but it hasn’t been spotted this week. Surely it would like a nice salmon meal. Now that the fish are getting to the campground, the bobcat probably has easier fishing spots. I could talk with Ken all day, but we had to get down the road. We exchanged cards. It would be great to come back and go fishing with him.

We didn’t have far to go to Mora Campground on the coastal part of Olympic National Park. This is unusual for Martha, Usually a 4-night planner, we were now on the 1-night schedule, but it’s working great. There was no one in Mora, so we could pick our spot. Then we went to James Pond, which is a marsh caused by beavers. We couldn’t find the trailhead, but a gentleman getting out of his car pointed us in the right direction. It’s a pretty spot where a fallen tree provides a walkway into the marsh. Perfect mirror reflections showed trees in better color than when looking directly at them. The gentleman and his lady came out onto the log, and we chatted a few minutes. He has lived here for 40 years and gave us tips on where to go.

We walked back, then drove to Rialto Beach. This is an impressive, beautiful rock beach with powerful Pacific waves pounding the rocks. With such a beautiful beach on a perfect, sunny day, lots of people were enjoying it. A couple brought chairs and sat reading their books. As we looked around, we saw our new friends and went up to say Hi. We talked for a bit, admiring the scenery, and we exchanged taking pictures of each other. As we left, I saw them sitting on a fallen tree, talking and relaxing in a gorgeous spot. He grew up in Falls Church, Virginia. Rialto Beach was Martha’s favorite beach of the trip.

The next stop was a hike to Second Beach. As we gazed from an overlook on the road, a man stopped on his bike. He is a surfer, but these waves were too big at about 12 feet, and one after another. He would wait for a better day. We walked down the trail to a beautiful, black sand beach with “sea stacks” in the cove. Fortunately Martha checked the tides, a very important thing when walking beaches. We have heard a harrowing tale of a couple getting caught on a beach when the pounding Pacific tide came in. They were lucky to be able to climb up a rocky cliff far enough to safety, but then had to wait for the tide to go out again. You could walk on this beach a long way. We walked a bit, then sat on a log and enjoyed the scenery. A hiker came by asking about a campsite on the beach. We hadn’t seen one, but the only likely place was around the corner in a deep cove. There was still no one in the campground when we returned. Sometimes that’s a little spooky, but we didn’t have any trouble sleeping.