Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Driving’ category

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

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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

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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

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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.

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.

Move to Pedder Bay Campground

October 13, 2017

As we were getting ready to leave, Lonnie drove past. We hustled out to give her a bottle of wine as a thanks for all the help she had been and for the great job she does with the campground. She told us about carrying her 3-year-old granddaughter up the trail as she cleaned the trail with a leaf blower.  She said she kept poking her in the ear with sticks and yelling, so she had to scratch that idea. She had moved to the mainland in upper BC for five years, but finally decided to come back home. She was grateful to get her old job back, but last year was tough, with rains constant from October to mid-July, and a lot of snow. The snow is different here – wet and slippery. Sounds like Virginia snow. Lonnie has a great sense of humor, talking about hunters that poach and having to fix signs that people vandalize. She said at least they don’t walk far from their car. She tries to stay on the trails when she is in uniform as there are “grow-ups” – places where people grow marijuana. They defend their grow-ups seriously, but some aren’t too smart. One was smoking and put the field on fire. When authorities came to put out the fire, he was just sitting there crying over losing his crop.

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We said good bye to our new friend and headed out. Driving over the pass to the west coast of Vancouver Island, the roads were winding and bumpy. Twice we stopped to put things back in their cabinets. Behind the wheels takes the worst beating. In front of the wheels, not so much. We passed many logging trucks. I know it’s a huge industry in Canada, but it sure spoils the landscape, especially in such an incredibly beautiful place.

We went into Port Renfrew. It’s a small village, and we came to a point we couldn’t take the trailer further, so we headed south to Sooke. On a Friday, there was a lot of traffic headed north, probably from Victoria. We pulled into Pedder Bay RV Resort and Marina, hoping they had a place for us. Fortunately they had plenty. We needed a laundry and hookups to charge the batteries, so we signed up for three nights.

I built a fire and was happy to post a couple of blogs with good WIFI. Martha fixed a nice beef stew while we went back and forth to the laundry, just across the drive. I talked with our neighbor and her grandson, who live in Port Alberni. Their firewood was wet from the rain today, and the grandson was having difficulty getting it started. She said property in Victoria is getting so expensive, people are moving to Port Alberni. Property values are rising dramatically, but so are taxes. You get caught in the bind of OK, I feel good my house is worth more, but I can’t pay the taxes. The government has also moved some of the people on the dole there, because it was less expensive. She said things are changing too fast. Then talked about how crazy and scary the world is.

Nez Perce National Historical Park

September 21, 2017

A few miles out of Lewiston is the headquarters for Nez Perce National Historical Park. The rest of the park is composed of 38 sites in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana. We would visit two more sites today, one the basalt area north of our campground, and one at Buffalo Eddy on the Snake River.

We watched a 33-minute movie about the Nez Perce, who call themselves the Nimiipuu. They were a huge tribe that inhabited the Columbia Plateau. A very spiritual group, they are one with the land and waters. In 1804 they were instrumental in saving and guiding Lewis and Clarke, giving them food and trading for Appaloosa horses. In an 1855 treaty, they were granted approximately half of their homelands as a reservation, but a later treaty reduced their lands to 10%, and they were forced to move in the spring when waters were high and dangerous. Thousands of white settlers had moved into their territory. Chief Joseph led 500, many of whom were women, children and elderly against 2000 cavalry. He had only 145 men burdened with many noncombatants, but through many skirmishes and four major battles, they managed to hold off the soldiers for four months, crossing the dangerous Snake River many times. In Big Hole Basin in Montana at 3:30 in the morning Colonel John Gibbon attacked the sleeping Indians with 183 men, killing women and children. The Nimiipuu counterattacked with guards from the surrounding hills. The soldiers lost 29 men with 40 wounded. The soldiers fought with rifles and pistols, while the Indians fought with bows and arrows. The army counted 89 Nez Perce dead, mostly women and children.

The remaining Indians escaped and managed to elude the army for another two months, but in the Battle of Bear Paw Mountains, Colonel Nelson Miles dealt the final blow. Those not killed surrendered. They were only 40 miles from the Canadian border. Chief Joseph famously said, “I will fight no more forever”.

The museum is very well done, with excellent exhibits, and the movie is also excellent. I hope I am not related to John Gibbon. Roger Dailey of the park service was very helpful and generous with his time telling us other sights to see and places to visit. He is from this area and was a fire jumper for many years. There is so much to see in Idaho!

We took the “Spiral Road”, as Roger suggested, back to camp for lunch. Lewiston is the lowest point in Idaho at 700 something feet, and is surrounded by mountains. After lunch we took Roger’s advice to visit another Nez Perce site at Buffalo Eddy on the Washington side of the Snake River. It is a gorgeous drive up the river toward Hell’s Canyon. The Snake River canyon is the deepest in the United States. Driving 25 miles into the canyon, the river becomes more wild, yet there are houses and cabins all along the Washington side.

Buffalo Eddy is a huge eddy on the powerful Snake River. Having fished for trout for three weeks, I know to look for backwater currents where fish find calmer waters to rest and eat from a constant easy flow of food. This eddy is huge, at least two football fields long and about 40 yards wide. Beautiful basalt rocks lie beside the pool, a perfect place from which to fish. Native Americans came here for 10,000 years to fish for salmon coming upriver all the way from the mouth of the Columbia River to spawn. I imagine there were thousands of salmon in this pool. These large hard, black, flat-sheared rocks were a perfect place for the Nimiipuu to hammer out figures on the rocks. It would be quite a job to chisel these out with stones on these hard surfaces, but that is what made them survive all this time. It was very cool to be in this incredible place.

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Returning to camp, we walked a path two miles up river to a basalt rock formation along the river. This is rock formed from a series of lava flows 17-6 million years ago. Surging up to form the Columbia River Plateau. The weight of the flow caused Central Washington to sink, forming the Columbia River Basin. It and also damming up the ancient rivers and forming two huge lakes, Idaho Lake and Columbia Lake. There were a series of catastrophic floods known as the Ice Age Floods. “the deluge caused American Falls Lake to breach its natural lava dam, which was rapidly eroded with only the 50-foot-high American Falls left in the end. The flood waters of Lake Bonneville, approximately twenty times the flow of the Columbia River…swept down the Snake River, leaving debris and sediment deposits across southern Idaho. For miles on either side of the Snake, flood waters stripped away soils and scoured the underlying basalt bedrock, in the process creating Shoshone Falls, Twin Falls, Crane Falls, and Swan Falls, while cutting and deepening gorges and canyons along the way”. (Elizabeth Orr, Geology of the Pacific Northwest)

We think of all the disasters going on today with fires, hurricanes and earthquakes. Then every now and then I read these things and try to imagine the rocky mountains being formed or that a whole part of the western continent just fell off into the sea. I love the Will Durant quote, “Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice”.

McCall to Lewiston

September 19, 2017

It is a beautiful drive with a variety of terrains along Rt. 95. At Riggins it follows the great Salmon River. Riggins is a cute little village with a bunch of river guiding companies. It was cold and rainy, so we opted not to stay in Riggins and float the Salmon. Maybe another time. The river takes one side of the mountain at White Bird to turn and join the Snake River, while the road continues north to Lewiston. Big rain clouds were in the distance. We had rain earlier, but all of this is so welcome. The whole northwest has been plagued by tremendous fires all summer, smoke covering the whole area. Makes you wonder – fires here, hurricanes in the east and a big earthquake in Mexico.

We pulled into beautiful Hell’s Gate Campground just outside Lewiston. We are on the Lewis and Clarke trail. The visitor’s center has all kinds of information and a movie about their crossing of the Rockies in Idaho and the terrible time they had in the Bitterroot Mountains.

We were setting up camp when Carol came over from the adjacent campsite. She and David are on their way to McCall, so we traded information north and south. Dave came back over later with a drink. We talked about travels and the troubles you have fixing things. You just have to learn how to work on all kinds of problems, because it happens to all of us. He was a Ford mechanic for years, so that really comes in handy. He told us about a bike trail that goes along the Snake River and through Lewiston. Clarkston is on the other side of the river. This is the area where the Clearwater joins the Snake River on its way to the Columbia. Lewis and Clarke followed the Snake into the Columbia River to winter at Fort Clatsop, near where I met my friends at the mouth of the Columbia. I have not followed the Columbia through the United States, but have seen its origin, fished it there and as it leaves British Columbia south of Castelgar, and have crossed that monster bridge at its mouth. With beautiful rivers flowing into it, like the Snake, the Clearwater and the Salmon, it is a heck of a river. It is nice to know about the hatchery in McCall, Idaho that hatches millions of Chinook Salmon, and that they can find their way to the ocean, returning five years later all the way back to McCall. Fish ladders allow them to make their way over four or five dams.

Boise

September 14, 2017

Martha and I spent two days exploring a bit of Boise. We walked and biked the great riverside trail along the Boise River. What other city has a river running through it where people fish for trout? We explored  downtown, shopping and had a nice lunch at Wild Root. In the evening we met Ron Lowry for drinks and dinner at the Ram. Ron is a VMI and MCV grad a class ahead of me, and is an avid fly fisherman. We enjoyed hearing his stories about fishing throughout Idaho. We are going to sign up for a trip he has taken every year for 15 years down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, a six-day trip through wilderness. I can’t wait until next July! Boise is a beautiful city with an interstate running through it, about the size of Richmond, Virginia.

We drove out to World Center for Birds of Prey. They were vital in the restoration of the Peregrine Falcon after DDT caused their demise. Now they are working on restoring the California Condor along with other projects. Even Martha enjoyed the great presentation, pictures and displays.

As we were packing up to leave, Justin, the manager at Mountain View RV Resort, came over to say goodbye. Not only is he a biker, but also a fly fisherman who grew up in Riggins and McCall. He gave me some good tips on places to fish as we headed north. He also told us to stop at Tackle Tom’s in Cascade. What a nice young man!

Driving north, Route 55 follows the Payette River, a world-class white water river. We stopped for lunch at a pull-out where there is a white, sandy beach on the river. We went into Tackle Tom’s and met Tom, who has been working there for 38 years. I bought a fishing license and a few flies as he gave us great advice where to go hike as well as fish. He advised us to stop at the Boise National Forest-Cascade Ranger Station just down the street, so we did. I bought a couple of maps as Steve advised us on places to go, and explaining the fire restrictions. Ranger stations are getting to be one of my favorite places to go.

We drove through McCall and out onto a peninsula jutting out into Payette Lake to Ponderosa State Park. Kevin Handford had recommended it. He is another VMI grad as well as an excellent financial advisor, who has a place in McCall. There was no one at the gate. Reading the board, most of the campground was closing next week. We drove through and picked a nice spot, filled out the form, put the money in and put the envelope in the slot. Martha said five days would be good.