Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Archive for ‘August, 2017’

Fishing The Columbia River With Rod Zavaduk

Friday, August 25, 2017

We were meeting Rod at the Castlegar Sports Center and Fly Shop at 12:00, so we caught up on chores, doing several loads of laundry. We were worried Castlegar RV Park and Campground wouldn’t be the same since Dale sold it two years ago. We had so enjoyed his company four years ago. We quickly found out it is in great hands with Wylie and Kim Orser, the new owners. We haven’t met Wylie yet, but Kim is wonderful. Soft-spoken and very pretty, her stories surprise you. She likes to fish, recently going out with a friend sturgeon fishing. She told the story of going cougar hunting with a friend, whose cattle were being ravaged by cougars. She also likes to ride horses, but will have to sell her horses, maybe taking it up again when they get more established here.  She and Wylie worked the oil fields in Alberta for years before moving to Castlegar.

We packed up our gear and headed into town. Josh, Rod’s son, was tying flies as we walked in. He is a handsome young man in his 20’s with an accent like his dad. Trained as an electrician, jobs are tough here right now as several industries have shut down. He is going Vancouver next week to investigate a job offer. Meanwhile he has been helping at the fly shop all summer. The two of them tie around 100 flies on an average day and receive requests from all over Canada and the U.S. to replicate or develop new patterns that friends and customers have dreamed up.

The Sports Center and Fly Shop has just about anything anyone would need to be successful fishing the Columbia or any other river including the best guide around. Rod knows the Columbia like no other and his mild manner and reserve disposition make him an ideal teacher anyone wanting to learn. We bought the traditional $100 worth of trout flies, some bear spray for our next stop, loaded our equipment into Rod’s truck and headed out for a day of fishing towing his 16-foot boat with a 30 horsepower engine.

What a unbelievably magical day! The horrible heat we had been experiencing for the entire trip had been run out of town by a cold front the night before and we now lavished in mid seventies temperatures with just enough wind and cloud cover to make being on the river about as pleasant as possible. To make it even more pleasurable, we got into the fish while drifting nymphs with large yellow indicators in the rapid current. Greg caught ( this is Kelly guest writing) the first rainbow of about 18 inches and we alternated catching trout of all sizes for the rest of the day ending up with a total of around 20. Rod provided a great lunch and much appreciated advice regarding casting and mending of fly-lines.

Fishing The Granby River


Granby River

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Although the Granby is very low and temperatures are in the 90’s, we decided to give it a try. In the first three holes we saw fish rising, one coming all the way out of the water, so we were inspired to keep at it. In two of those holes I got my fly caught, waiting while Kelly fished around my line. He caught a few fish and kept one. Unfortunately, those were the only fishable holes for the next mile. By the time we got to the bridge, we caught up with two other fishermen, who kept moving ahead of us, obviously scared we would jump ahead.

We drove up to the top and fished for a while. I didn’t find anything, although the river and scenery are beautiful. It is tough to walk on those big, round rocks and tougher in the water when they are covered by a slippery film.

Then we drove back downstream where Kelly cleaned the two fish he kept. There were a couple of big pools, so we fished those. Kelly had the right fly on and caught some small, but hard-fighting trout. Despite changing flies a number of times, I only got one strike all day, and I missed him. Tired after a full day of walking the stream, we headed back to Grand Forks.

As we were having drinks and getting dinner ready, we noticed a crowd over at a dirt bike track in this municipal park. We walked over, finding kids of all ages, dressed in all kinds bicycle gear and helmets, mothers and fathers helping, announcing and running a very well-organized event. It was a blast standing by the rail and taking pictures. What a great track and a wonderful opportunity in this little town.

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The next morning we walked downtown (3 blocks away) to Yakky Jacquie’s for breakfast. Rated the best in town, it lived up to its reputation – great omelet, great coffee, great people.


Old Cowboy Ranch and Williamson Lake

Monday, August 21, 2017

After breakfast we went up to the campground office to check in with our wives, read emails and post the blog. Jonni came in first. She had a client coming today, but didn’t know how it would work out. Besides running the ranch, she sells real estate. We talked about the fire that almost took them out in 2015. We could see the dead, black trees still standing when we drove into Westbridge on Rt. 33. The forrest rangers came in saying they had 10 minutes to get out. Probably because she had watered her hay field, the fire stopped there. Fire insurance is very expensive here and many didn’t have it. They lost everything. Others that had insurance, rebuilt and did fine. It is very dry here now, and it could all happen again. Fires are burning north and south of here, although things seem to be better at the moment. 

As the workers came in, we went out on the porch to get out of their way. Mya came up and struck up a conversation. A tall girl with straight brown hair and her canine teeth still coming in, she said she was 10 years old. She helps her mom work at the ranch during summers. I was trying to catch up on the blog as Kelly talked to her. We have passed out a couple of Kelly’s books, which has a chapter on the Old Cowboy Ranch. Mya asked if Kelly wanted to take the tour. I watched them out of the corner of my eye as I kept writing. In a minute, Mya was back saying, “Come on”, so I followed. As we walked up the dusty road, she pointed to her farm just across a couple of fields. They raise pigs and cows. She rides the pigs. A friend of hers has ostriches, and they like to ride those too. First we came to a pen with ducks in it. Some animal had gotten in last week and killed 11 ducks. Mya said there are coyotes and a few wolves around, but they aren’t sure what did it. It is unusual for an animal to kill that many birds.

There are pens with goats. Mya went to feed them a few days ago and they chased her all over the pen. She said the big, fat Billy is the mean one, but she ran between two trees and he got stuck with his big belly allowing her to get out of the pen. Then there were emus. “Don’t stick your fingers through the wire” she said. There are donkeys, miniature horses and regular horses, trail rides being a featured attraction. She pointed out her favorite that she likes to ride bareback. “It’s just easier than putting all that stuff on. I just put a halter on and use a rope for reins”. She said there are 80 peacocks. A big chicken pen is across from the office. We thanked Mya for such a great tour. She is a very cute little girl. 

With the Kettle River so low, we decided to go up to Williamson Lake. We had been there on our previous trip four years ago. It’s a rather harrowing drive up a big mountain on a gravel road, at one point along the edge of a giant cliff, but that’s the rockies. We got out at one point to check some footprints on the dusty road near the lake. Probably a cougar, but we couldn’t tell. The last part 200 yards to the lake are not drivable for most people, but as we were gathering our fishing gear, a Jeep came down it. It was a perfect vehicle for these roads, with a small trailer on the back to carry their gear. Big knobby tires and a big clearance allows them to get into places like this. They stopped to chat a bit. Nice guys, maybe in their 40’s, they had camped there for two days, and said the fishing was pretty good. They had seen only one husband and wife fishing. Then they asked what we were using for a boat. We asked if the old boats weren’t still up there. “They are, but you will need a lot of duct tape and some fiberglass to seal all the leaks.” They drove off slowly down the bumpy road, probably laughing the whole way down the mountain. Two old guys on top of a mountain trying to fish from a leaky, old boat. 

There were two old, leaky boats up there. One was definitely shot, but the other might be manageable. There was a rib on the sides at about the water line. Above that there were long, open tears (rips), the sides held only by a wooden gunnel. We applied duct tape liberally to a hold in the floor and pushed her over a log into the water. Water oozed in, but we thought we might get a couple of hours out of her. We found a 2×4 and a short plank to use for paddles and carefully got in. Watching closely for big rushes of water, but didn’t see any. Fish were breaking the surface all over the beautiful lake with crystal clear water. It is surrounded by green pine trees. Little birds, ducks, a loon and ravens kept us company. Three young ducks were having a big time chasing each other, diving and hopping over logs.

We fished everything we had with minor success. Kelly tried dry flies at first, then switched to a spinning rod, then back to the fly rod. I used an ultralight spinning rod, but neither of us had much success. We caught a few little ones, and hooked a few that somehow managed to slip off. Finally, I found a black and gold Mepps lure that worked. We kept a couple of nice ones for dinner. Someone else drove up and started fishing in a fishing float tube. As we paddled the leaky boat toward shore, we were surprised to see it was a girl fly-fishing her way around the lake. She had pitched a tent and was staying the night with her two dogs. She had driven a Toyota pickup up that last impossible bit of road. We were amazed a girl would do that and stay in this very remote place. I’m sure she was packing.

Going back down that long, gravel mountain road didn’t seem as bad as we expected. We had a wonderful trout dinner with corn on the cob and broccoli. The next morning when we checked out, Kelly left $10 so Mya could buy some things at the camp store. We stopped to see Murray, the mayor of The Old Cowboy Ranch. I took a picture of him with Kelly. He has been coming here of 10 years. He helps out, takes kids on rides in the hay wagon, and gave us great advice on where to fish. We enjoyed talking with him and hearing his stories.

Driving 101- Olympia – Vancouver

Friday, August 18, 2017

Judy told me to Buzz’s suggestion driving to Seattle or Vancouver. Go up 101, then head east to Olympia. She said the road is windy and small, but very pretty, so that’s what I did. I was off to pick up Kelly at the airport in Vancouver at 12:00 Saturday.  The road winds through little towns and then through the most magnificent duck marsh I have ever seen. It goes for miles and miles. There is a national wildlife refuge, but I couldn’t stop, as I had a long day of travel. Once I got on Rt. 5 it was busy with traffic. Then right through the middle of Seattle in stop and go traffic.

At the border, a lady asked me all kinds of questions, where I was going, how long I was staying, and were we going to sleep in the trailer. She asked about bear and pepper spray. I told her I had thrown them out at the last gas station. She said you can bring it in if clearly marked as bear spray. OK

It was pretty tough driving the trailer through Vancouver to the campground in West Vancouver. I stopped along the way and stocked up on groceries and wine. Once at Capilano Campground, I parked right next to another Airstream. I was still trying to wiggle the truck into a tight spot when a car stopped in front of me and a lady said, “You can’t park there”. I asked where else I was supposed to park. “Well you can’t park in front of our Airstream”! I told her it is my Airstream, and hers is on the other side of mine. Once parked, the very nice man came over and apologized. He said it was a 2018 International Airstream they had just bought. We chatted about where to go in Vancouver and what to see. 

On Saturday morning I took a practice run to the Airport. At 7:00 in the morning, traffic wasn’t too bad, but the route takes you right through downtown and then a Chinese part of town. With narrow lanes I wondered if I would have enough room, but there were big buses running in front of me. Delivery trucks were doing OK, so I guessed I could make it. The airport has a nice cell phone waiting area where there was plenty of room to turn around.

By 10:00 I thought I had best hook up the trailer and get going. Traffic was now busy with stop and go in front of the bridge next to the campground. It was a bit nerve-wracking, but I kept looking at the big busses and trucks that routinely travel these busy streets. Happily, I arrived at the cell phone area and there was plenty of room. The airport was a busy place, even on a Saturday. I had to get my phone set up for roaming in another country and be ready for any phone calls. A young, tall oriental man came up, marveling at the Airstream. He thought it was so cool, and walked all around it. I opened the door and told him he could go in and look around. “Wow, really?” Then he asked a whole bunch of questions. He was so enthusiastic, I didn’t want to put him off, but I was starting to get nervous about the time. After a bit, he thanked me, wished me well and headed off. I was just getting the phone set up when another man pulls his car over next to the trailer, gets out with similar curiosity. In his early 40’s and Armenian descent, he worked as a crane operator for an oil company. He wanted to know how much an Airstream cost, where I was going and how the solar system worked. He was picking someone up too. I looked at my watch. 12:10, but no message from Kelly. Finally the handsome gentleman got his call. We shook hands and he was off. Finally I got a call from someone I didn’t know, wondering why he was calling me. It was someone Kelly had asked to call. He had lost his phone.

Driving through the busy pick-up lane, I wasn’t hard to spot. Kelly waved and headed into the street with his bags. 

Museum Day

Horseback riders on the beach

Boats salmon fishing

Beach for miles and miles

Looking across the bay of Columbia

Mouth of the Columbia River

Size of this huge river is awesome. Three ooats in the middle are commercial fishing boats

The bridge

Thursday, Aug 17, 2017

I had one day to explore the area. I wanted to see Fort Clatsop, where Lewis and Clark wintered in 1806, but I visited the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center on the Washington side first. It was much more than I expected, leading you through their incredible journey as you walk down a hallway. It was very cool, chocked with so much information, by the time I got to the bottom, I had adsorbed all I could. But I enjoyed looking at the boats, clothes and all the journals. I didn’t realize Jefferson employed trainers for Lewis at the White House for two years.

Jefferson knew their trip would open the west to trade. Just 50 years later, the great western migration would begin, and 100 years later, there would be a ban on hunting elk, as they were almost gone. It is incredible how much happened in such a short time. When Lewis and Clark crossed, the plains were covered with buffalo, deer, antelope and bear, and the Sioux ruled. Without the help of a number of Indian tribes, they would not have made it.

By the time I explored the park and museum, I was starving, so I stopped and got lunch. Thankful to be well-nourished as I crossed that 4-mile bridge. I realized I could never have been a fighter pilot. It just makes me light-headed trying to stay in my narrow lane, not look around and get across that bridge. Whew! I was headed for the Maritime Museum in Astoria, It’s a great one! I started with a 3-D movie about hurricanes. The northwest gets rains, storms and hurricanes off the mighty Pacific.

I found the most interesting part to be about the tremendous forces the collide at the mouth of the Columbia, especially in the 1800’s before dams and the jetty were built. It is called Cape Disappointment and Deception Bay. A huge amount of fresh water comes to the sea with great forces. They meet in a place where the weather can change in an instant. There are shifting sandbars caused by these swirling waters. As a result it is called the Graveyard of the Pacific where 2,000 ships have wrecked. Many great sailors couldn’t even find the bay. Then they had to wait for the tides to be just right, sometimes waiting for a week.

Today, the once mighty Columbia has a bunch of dams on it. In the United States it is more like a very long lake that is so important for shipping. Locks move ships between lakes. Lighthouses mark the opening, and a jetty was built that helped prevent sandbar changes. Still today, the coastguard is busy in a sometimes frightening environment. With so many fishing boats as well as tankers, a lot can happen when the seas get up. The big ships are ushered in by harbor pilots, and then there is a change of pilots at the mouth of the river on their way out. Loading and unloading the pilot is frightening enough to watch!

Back at camp, I needed to wash laundry, fix dinner and prepare for the drive to Vancouver tomorrow. People gathered at the table, mostly to discuss the day’s fishing adventures. I got the laundry started, took a shower and thought I would just stop by to say hello. I managed to go back and forth to get the laundry done, but the conversation was good and so were the ordouvress. I was getting ready to leave when they all headed to the dining hall for a potluck dinner celebrating Jean’s birthday. Buzz said, “Come on”. It was a great dinner and more great conversation.

Buzz and Dave got their four fish for the day. Tony got his, but some came up empty-handed. We talked about rods and reels, and as usual, everyone used something different. Different baits, lures and lines.

This is a great place with a great group of people, but it is all coming to an end. Don and Jean have sold the place, and the new owners take over in November. It will be their private residence right on the river’s edge. Everyone is looking for a new place, but they are unlikely to find a place like this one. As dinner wound down, we exchanged email addresses. I would love to know what happens.

Lakeview to The Columbia River on 101

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I had about 5 1/2 hours to get to River’s End Campground across the Columbia River. Three days would have been better. At first I was in the mode of hitting the road and making time, but the road is more windy, up and down with one gorgeous overlook after another. It’s more like driving the Skyline Drive, but with more traffic and a little bigger road. Towns dot the coast, and then Newport is a big city. The picture of Hecta Lighthouse is not mine, but that was the view. I tried to stop, but I just couldn’t get it done. Then there was nowhere I could turn around. What a beautiful spot. My mind took the photograph, and it will forever be in there. This is a beautiful part of the Oregon coast, and I would love to drive it again with more time. Oh yea, and then there is the whole Washington coast I will miss, unless Martha and I come back this way.

Stopping at one beautiful overlook, I talked with a guy who is a landscaper and has lived in Oregon all his life. Looking down on a plateau, there was a high-end housing development overlooking the ocean. He said he takes care of those. Only when it frosts over is he out of work, but it doesn’t come often and doesn’t stay long. He surprised me when he said traffic is light right now, but wait till this weekend. Eclipse watchers are going to be swarming in.

This is a hard road to drive for a long time. The road is hard enough, along with the traffic, but you want to look at all the sites, and so do all the other drivers. I thought one car was going to run into the trailer as they were obviously distracted. They couldn’t have missed by much. I wanted to stop at every overlook, walk the beaches, explore the towns. I did go into a sporting goods store that had some great fishing gear. Talking to a nice kid about rods and reels for steelhead. It is unlikely I would use it, but Martha does want some fresh fish when she comes, and that will be when the salmon and steelhead will be running the rivers.

Finally I get to the great Columbia River. Sitting in traffic, I see the Astoria-Megler Bridge and about had a heart attack. Fortunately, there was construction on the bridge, so traffic was slow. It is 4.1 miles long, the highest part being 196’ at high tide. I will have to cross it two more times as I want to see Ft. Clatsop, Astoria and the Maritime Museum tomorrow.

On the other side, I pulled into River’s End Campground and RV Park at about 6:30. Cocktail hour was going on next to the office. Jean Sundet came over to greet me. She walked ahead and guided me into my campsite, then told me to get settled and come for a drink. I have never been greeted at a campground like this before. It is a beautiful, grassy area, with scattered big pine trees. People were laughing and telling stories, so I grabbed a glass of wine and went over. There were 20 or so people gathered around a huge tree stump that had been polished and smoothed into a perfect outdoor table. There were snacks and goodies, but I never got past the first five guys. Introducing myself to Mitch, Buzz, Dave, Tony and a couple of others whose names I can’t recall now. They have been coming here for 20 years or more. They come in April and leave in October. Well, they used to go back and forth to work, but now they just stay. I asked what they did. “Fish” they said in unison. Some fish in the ocean, mostly for salmon, while a couple of guys fish in the river for salmon. There was a discussion about which is easier, most saying the ocean is easier, but they also said the two guys who fish the river know how to get it done. They said to check out the river tomorrow, saying you can walk across on the boats. I marveled at how there are any salmon left, but they all said there are plenty. I asked about the health of sardines and anchovies. They said their lines are constantly twitching from all the sardines running. Whales come here to fill up. Mitch seemed sad to not be going out tomorrow, but he is meeting a commercial Tuna fisherman. He is going to buy 200 pounds of tuna. He will take it to a processor who will clean them. Then he will bring them back home and cut them up and can (glass really) them. Half of the 200 pounds is waste. Then he is splitting with a friend. Still, 50 pounds of Tuna is a lot! He buys it at $3.00/pound, but He said, “It’s not like that crap you buy in the store”.

Waiting in Lakeside

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The little broken cord on the truck has kept me in Ludlum Campground for two more days. I took the truck to Ken Ware Chevrolet/GMC in North Bend. first thing Monday morning, but I wasn’t the only one with problems. Three others waited with me for the doors to open at 7:30. Jim Reed, the service manager, looked harried already. He had two technicians out, one being the diesel tech. I told him I would wait.

It was 11:00 before he came into the service lounge. They needed a new wiring harness and had ordered it, but it wouldn’t get there until Tuesday. He ordered a car from Enterprise, and a driver soon picked me up. Fortunately, I had started reading a book Dan Kelly had given me, “A Higher Call” by Adam Makos about a very unusual event that happened in WWII over Germany. It’s a great and true story that is well-written. I couldn’t put it down, and that doesn’t happen to me very often.

I did take a walk on a beautiful trail around Eel Lake where I am camped. Big, beautiful trees surround the lake. Lots of people were fishing in boats and off the dock. I spent some time finding a place to stay near Fort Clatsop for the next two nights, but I was beginning to get antsy about getting back on the road. At 2:00 on Tuesday I called Jim to see where we stood. He said they had replaced the harness, but now ere cleaning out the exhaust system while running it at 2,000 RPM’s for 45 minutes. Then they would check it to see if there were any other problems, and he would call me.

I hopped in the rental car and headed to North Bend, just 15 miles south. By the time I got to Enterprise, Jim called and said it was ready. Whew! I was quite happy to get the truck back. Time was also getting short as I have to pick up Kelly in Vancouver on Saturday. I have left a lot unseen in Oregon.

Oregon Dunes and Florence

Friday, August 11, 2017

Exploring the coast, I drove north, stopping at a couple of recreation areas with campgrounds to see if they were full. I was pleased to see plenty of openings in these “drive up” campgrounds. Oregon Dunes Recreation Area had several very nice campgrounds. I did a mile hike through the marsh, then decided to see what the beach looked like. You could have a heart attack climbing to the top of the dune, but from there the views were wonderful. I have never seen such beaches. They are so big and pristine. It must have been low tide because there was probably 500 yards of flat beach. It was 60 degrees with a little breeze, so even if the water was warm, you probably wouldn’t swim. The water is not warm. I walked in the surf a while. It is lovely, soft, yellow sand, and you could walk forever. With three full campgrounds, there were maybe 10 people on the beach. The water is a bit like walking in a trout stream, not the coldest trout stream, but not the warmest either. In Port Oxford, the water temperature today is 53 degrees. The temperature in the Rogue River was 47, and you couldn’t really swim in that. You could take a quick dip on the day it was 112 degrees, but you wouldn’t swim. So 53 is more tolerable, but you wouldn’t stay in long. A wet suit would be good.

Oregon has incredible beaches though, unspoiled miles and miles of beaches. There are stops, pullovers, recreation areas, hiking trails and state parks all along 101. It’s fun to explore without the camper so you can dash in and out of these areas.

I didn’t pack a lunch today, thinking I would stop somewhere for lunch. As I entered Florence, that’s what I was thinking. I also needed a library and a few groceries. With a quick search of restaurants on my phone, I chose Lovejoy’s Restaurant and Tea Room, and it was a winner. I love a British meat pie, and they had a great lamb pie, some pea soup and a pot of tea. What more could you want on a cool, misty day? I took a walk around this lovely, restored old part of the town along the riverfront.

I walked down the docks and found six people crabbing. Just listening to the chatter was entertaining, but the real entertainment was a rather elegant-looking lady, maybe 60 with kind of tattered clothes and fingernails that had been digging in the dirt a lot. I think her name was Barbara. She talked about the blue crabs of Virginia, but they suffer from pollution now. The ones in California have the same problem. “No, this is the last place they are clean and healthy”, she said. She had just bought a house built in the 70”s and was fixing it up gradually, doing a lot of landscaping. She talked about working somewhere for long hours, but she was almost done. I wanted to ask what she did, as I imagined it to be something important, but she didn’t stop talking long enough. Then she was back onto the crabs, everyone pulling up their wire baskets with chicken in them. Two had crabs in them – big crabs. They measured with a device made for the job and threw one back. A couple sitting on buckets at the end, said they wanted to get a boat to fish out of. Barbara said they needed a Mackenzie drift boat, and went on about its merits. Then they were back on the crabs. “Well, the peak has been about 1:00 to 2:00”, Barbara said. The man standing to the right agreed, but noted the tides change every day, so it is likely to be an hour later today. I could have pulled up a chair for entertainment for the rest of the day, but there is so much to see.

I poked around all the cute little shops Martha would love. Flowers and hanging baskets line the streets. By 1:00 the streets were busy with tourists like me. I don’t know what the rest of the town looks like, but I love this part of it. Two ladies in a kitchen store agreed it is a great place to live, but said they got a lot of rain last winter. The Pacific keeps a moderate climate, cool in the summer and in the 40’s in winter. I could feel the mist and light rain on my face as I walked about town, but I like it. I much prefer that to 95 degrees and sunny. I bought a little something for Martha and some fruit at a stand, and decided to head back.

An engine warning came on as soon as I started the truck. Then it said it would have reduced power. Ah yes, that little dangling cord I had noticed and tried to plug back in, but couldn’t. I crawled under the truck with a flashlight to try to see where it plugs in. There were two dangling wire ends, so after some examination, I stuffed them into the ends of the plastic connector. I started driving, but as the warning said, I had greatly reduced power. Time to use this OnStar button. A nice lady answered and put me through to a technician. I could hear his children in the background, and I could barely understand him. He ran some sort of diagnostics, then advised me to take it to a GMC dealer. I thanked him profusely. It was 5:00 and Ken Ware GMC in North Bend closed at 6:00. it was only 38 miles away, but I didn’t think I could make it with this reduced power. I called to see if they could help. Very nice people! A technician named Jim recommended taking it to Les Schwab Tires in Florence, saying they are great and helpful people. I limped through town on 101 to Les Schwab, and Jim was right. They took me right in, crawled under the truck to see the problem. They do tires, so this wasn’t their specialty, but one of the guys had a truck like mine, so we crawled under his truck to see how it was connected. We were in the right ball game, but my plastic connector was shot. Consulting with two of his coworkers, they pulled the truck in, got underneath and connected the wire ends, discarding the plastic connector. No charge! I went to a bakery, bought them some cookies and delivered them. Nice guys! Didn’t work though. I limped back to camp, a scary thing in the fog on 101. Down hill was great, and flats were OK, but uphill was slow, requiring my flashers as I went 20-30mph. I was quite relieved to finally pull into the campground.

Sardine Crisis

Jane-Ashley sent me a link as I noted lots of sardines belly-up in Chetco Harbor.


Nearly a year into a West Coast sardine fishing ban enacted to protect the collapsing population, the fish formerly worth more than $8 million to Oregon’s economy have shown no signs of a comeback.

New federal research indicates numbers of the small, silvery, schooling fish have plummeted further than before the fishing moratorium, dashing any hope of lifting it in 2016.

With the current sardine population hovering at 7 percent of its 2007 peak, fishermen now say they expect to wait a decade or more to revive the fishery.

“I don’t want to take a pessimistic view, but I would think we’ll be shut down until 2030,” said Ryan Kapp, a Bellingham fisherman who advises the Pacific Fishery Management Council on sardines and other fish.

Sardines aren’t struggling in isolation. Other fish near the bottom of the marine food web, such as anchovies and herring, are also down. The shortage of sustenance is rippling upward to create crises for predator species from seals to seabirds.

Researchers can’t tell exactly what’s driving the die-off, nor how long it will last. Some say the crash can be attributed to cyclical boom-and-bust population dynamics sardines have always exhibited.

Others argue overfishing played a role, driving sardine populations down too far and too fast to blame it on a natural population flux.

Then there’s the unavoidable presence of the “warm blob,” a lingering mass of overheated water that for more than two years has wreaked havoc on sea life off the Pacific coast.

Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area

Thursday, August 11, 2015

After moving campsites, I drove north on 101. Stopping at a lighthouse overlook, all you could see was fog and clouds. One chatty tourist said he had just walked the Appalachian Trail, complaining that there were seldom views, and here he is in Oregon and can’t see the view. I stopped at a lake on the way to the lighthouse and walked a 1-mile trail around it. It was very pretty with big trees and lots of birds.

Driving north, there was a sign to follow Rt 38 to an elk-viewing area, so I turned to follow the big Umpqua River. Later I found its origin below Crater Lake. A lot of rivers have their origin on that mountain. I came to Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area, a beautiful grassy plain bumping up against mountains. Dean Creek wound its way through high grasses like a snake. I didn’t see any elk, so I drove on. I hadn’t gone very far when I saw elk running out of the forest. I hurriedly turned around and went back to the viewing area. By the time I got the camera out, there was a steady stream of elk entering the field. There must have been a hundred elk, with one big buck and lots of smaller ones. I stayed for about two hours, talking with various people who stopped to watch. Several people knew a lot about elk, many being hunters. 100 years after Lewis and Clark came through, these Rosevelt Elk were almost extinct, so there was a hunting ban for 20 years starting in 1905. Several years ago someone stopped here and shot a huge bull. It took police two years, but they caught them.

I asked one fellow, who was a hunter, how far away he could kill one. He said he was a sniper in the Army, so 1700 yards was possible. Pointing out where 1700 yards might be, I was amazed. He said 700 yards was pretty routine, and 500 was an easy shot. Looking at the distances he pointed out, I was surprised how far they were.

Ducks kept flying into the creek around the bend from us. A blue heron got up and flew to a different spot. I don’t know if they are swallow-tails or purple martins that were flying all over the creek, catching bugs, mosquitoes I guessed. This is a beautiful spot, whether there are elk or not, but the elk certainly are the featured attraction. This strain are the biggest with thicker antlers. They can run in bursts of 40 mph and sustained at 28. They can jump an 8-ft obstacle, like a dead tree when being chased. I don’t think there are any grizzlies or wolves here to chase them.