Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

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Bike Newcastle Island

This is out of order. Somehow I didn’t get this posted before.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

I did laundry and filled the propane tank while Martha paid bills. We extended for another day to get us through Canada’s Thanksgiving weekend, so we moved over to site 115. The site backs up to a cliff overlooking the harbor. Our new neighbors, Brian and Leslie are from the Island on the northeast side. They both teach school and needed a quiet weekend away. We told them we are going to Pacific Rim National Park tomorrow, and they said it is their favorite place, and where to go and what to see.

We drove into town to take the little water taxi over to Newcastle Island for a bike ride. It was cloudy and windy, but the little boat was covered with clear plastic. The nice, young captain helped us put the bikes on and off the boat. It runs every half hour, making it easy to relax and enjoy the day. It’s a beautiful ride around the little island and doesn’t take long. It might be better to walk it and enjoy the scenery. Either way it is very pretty and enjoyable.

Going back across, the captain’s daughter drove the boat under his careful watch. A couple with a beautiful chocolate lab sat across from us. They live on Vancouver Island also, but lived in the Yukon for 35 years teaching school. He also taught mountain biking and guided biking tours in Alaska and the Yukon. A very interesting outdoor guy, it was fun listening to his stories for this 10-minute ride. He also told us about his favorite hike near Ucluelet, the Wild Pacific Trail.

For dinner we went to Troller’s Fresh Fish and Chips down on the docks. We had seen it from the farmer’s market. It was a cool, breezy evening and there was no inside seating. On Brian’s suggestion, we ordered Halibut fish and chips, since it is in season. Funny how you remember a meal from a particular place. The Halibut we had in Seward, Alaska after taking a fiord cruise was the best. I have had many fish and chip meals since. This one was right up there with the best.


Coeur d’Alene and Lake Pend Oreille

Thursday, September 28, 2017

We drove south to Coeur d’Arlene for some shopping odds and ends, and found a very nice, large city library. The weBoost cell signal booster has lost its wiring connection, so we have no way of getting emails, messages or for posting the blog, so I am always looking for a library. After catching up a bit, we went to “Moon Time” for lunch. Martha asked a nice lady in the library where the good places to eat were. Well, she asked the right one. She started listing them by category, sandwich shops, deli, upscale and fancy. She must have named 15 places within walking distance, and then said, “Oh yea, I almost forgot the best – Moon Time”. It’s an upscale pub, so we ordered a couple of beers and a beautiful spinach, beat, goat cheese and walnut salad to start. Martha ordered pork schnitzel while I ordered Sloppy Joe over cornbread.

Then we walked around downtown, cruising the Coeur d’Alene Resort hotel with a motif like a cruise ship. Taking the elevator to the top floor, we got a good view of the lake. Cruise ships and boats are a popular way to see part of Lake Coeur d’Alene with 108 miles of shoreline.

Martha found a warm fleece with a hood, so she will be ready for colder weather that may arrive in a couple of days. But this day was sunny and 74 degrees. I guess buying the fleece was enough shopping, or she just felt sorry for me, but she didn’t go in any more stores. We drove to a kitchen store to get Chemex coffee filters, and then to Bestbuy to get a power cord for the weBoost. A nice young man helped me find a charger that would work. It had all kinds of changeable tips, so it would charge about anything. Super! I could get rid of the other six power cords I carry. I don’t even know what they go to!

Back at camp I quickly opened the box, found the tip that fit the weBoost. Then the glitch. Which end is positive and which is negative? Nervously, I just plugged it in when I couldn’t figure out which was positive on a circular plug. It worked! Yahoo! The inverter has to be on to make it work, so I would still like to find the connection Lew made somewhere behind the refrigerator. The only way I see to get there is through the refrigerator vent, which means removing it.

Heyburn State Park

We visited Ralph’s restaurant in Bayview for a great breakfast and laundry next door. This is my kind of little place where the conversation is good and the people are interesting. I will add pictures from my phone later. Then we visited the boatyard with some great dock houses and lots of sailboats. The harbor is also beautiful with mountains surrounding Lake Pend Orielle, the fifth deepest lake in the US.

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We hiked the Highpoint trail for a great panoramic view, then back down to visit the great beaches in the park. No doubt this place rocks in the summer. This lake is absolutely beautiful with different looks in all locations. We have hardly scratched the surface in five days.

Frustrating Problems

September 23, 2017

There are always things that get rattled loose while driving bumpy roads, but I was having trouble with some very expensive and critical technology. The solar was not charging and the weBoost that boosts cell phones was not working. We were in areas where we could plug in, and certainly Martha doesn’t want to go places that would require these, but it grated on me. For days I have been reading and searching for what could be causing the problems. The batteries were working, and with two 200-amp hour lithium iron phosphate batteries, we can go three days without charging. But it’s driving me mad!  I had checked the circuit breakers and the fuse panel, but nothing was tripped.

While Martha took a walk on one of the many hiking trails, I opted on a work day, or at least morning. I wrote down the issues:

-Solar charge disconnect switch – is the yellow tang supposed to be up or down?

-No power to weBoost, and the switch broke off

-No communication with the Magnum inverter panel (ME-RC)

-Magnum panel says, no communication. possible solutions are:

ME-BMK not installed or

Sense Module is not on

I was about ready to drive to AM Solar in Oregon to get this stuff fixed. I have called and emailed Lew Farber several times with no reply. I hoped he was OK. There aren’t so many places that know how to work on this stuff. On the other hand, Victron batteries and equipment are used in remote cabins and boats as well as RV’s. Oregon is not on our way to Vancouver, but I found a marine place this side of Vancouver.

The batteries and all of the connections are under the bed, so first step is to remove the bed. What I know about electricity would fit in a gnat’s eye, as my friend, Omer, would say. There are two fuses that go to God Knows what, but I checked them and they were good……as far as I could tell. All connections seemed tight. I looked up what the heck a sense module looks like, then searched high and low, in and out, but could not find one. I’m pretty sure one is here. Then I searched the internet for a marine disconnect switch to see if the yellow tang is supposed to be up or down. After 30 minutes of searching for what is obvious to everyone else, I found out it is like a circuit breaker. If you see the little yellow tang hanging down, the breaker has switched off. It is located inside an outside storage area. I’m sure stuff in that compartment bumped all around and knocked the button, disconnecting it. I flipped it up, checked the solar app, and was charging! Thank God!

That was a huge step, and I was thankful for not driving to AM Solar. I could just see the technician giving me the look of “What kind of idiot are you?” Now to find that sense module. Looking everywhere inside, I could not find it. I thought if I found that and could fix it, the weBoost could be suffering from the same problem. The solar wiring comes down from the roof in the refrigerator vent, so I got the ladder out and climbed up on the roof and found another problem. A sheet of aluminum acts as a baffle so the heat pump exhaust won’t blow pine needles down your refrigerator vent, but it was about to fall off. Trying not to become diverted from my task, I removed it and covered the screw holes with sealant tape. There was a box under one of the solar panels, but I decided that was a solar panel junction box. There was only one way to see into the refrigerator vent, and that was to remove the domed cover that was sealed down with putty. Since I had no putty, I wasn’t going to remove that. Besides, it seemed a poor place to put a “sense module”.

I spent the next hour cleaning the aluminum baffle, cleaning the roof, laying down industrial strength Velcro, drilling holes through the Velcro and placing rivets the holes. Took me another 30 minutes to watch the video on how to place rivets. It is really a very simple task once you know what you are doing. I thought of all the other missing rivets, but I had to stay on the current task.

By then, Martha had returned from her hike and wanted the report. I showed her the solar disconnect switch and how it worked, then told her about the baffle. She fixed sandwiches while I put the bed back together and put the tools away. Then we took a bike ride on a rails-to-trails path that stretches 73 miles through the area. It was built during mining days when silver was found here. It’s a pretty trail around the lake where side ponds and marsh are loaded with duckweed. As Tricos are for trout, duckweed is for ducks. They just sit in one spot and gorge on these green, floating plants. No wonder the Nez Perce liked this area where ducks, geese and all kinds of fruits and berries grew. People were picking apples all along the paved trail. There were rose hips, currants and big Huckleberry trees loaded with berries. Unfortunately the huckleberries were just past their season, but we took some apples home.

McCall, Idaho and Ponderosa State Park

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September 13-17, 2017

McCall is a nice little town on beautiful Payette Lake. It has a population of 3,278, but swells to 20,000 in the summer. Many people from Boise have summer houses around the lake. It is also a ski area in the winter. There are interesting shops and restaurants, lots of bike hiking trails.

We went to the farmer’s market and bought a melon, a loaf of bread and honey. There weren’t a lot of stands, but they were good ones. There was a vintage sports car rally in the park, so we checked that out. A Triumph GT6 in immaculate condition caught my eye. What a beautiful car, reminding me of a GY3 I wanted to buy in college. I had worked road construction all summer, putting in a lot of overtime building I64. A sports car restoration place had just rebuilt an older GT3. I had the money to buy it, but Dad said he would buy me a new car when I graduated from college. Graduating in 1968, he bought me a white 1965 Ford Custom, as plain a car as ever made. It did well though, and probably kept me a lot safer.

Then I went to Jamie’s Barber Shop and got a much-needed haircut. It’s a small one-chair shop with a piano on one side. Several books of music were on the stand. A nice jazz station played through the internet. Turns out that Jamie plays five or six nights a week around town and for personal parties. He taught himself to play, never having a lesson, but obviously loves it. He also cuts hair, but just in the afternoons in this small town. With the door open to Lake Street, the main street through town, I watched people passing by as we talked. A very neat guy, Jamie cleans up between each client, cleaning all the instruments, sweeping the floor, and wiping all surfaces. It was a far-better haircut than my last one in Oregon.

After lunch, we took a bike ride around Ponderosa State Park. It’s a great path, paved on the west side and gravel on the east. Lots of people were walking and biking, enjoying a beautiful day. Three of the campground loops will close next week, leaving just one open. It is getting down to 30 degrees some nights, and it takes a lot of work to winterize everything. For the first time in months, we built a fire in the evening. It was a perfect evening for it.

As we sat there, we noticed an older man having trouble hooking up an old Excella Airstream, so Martha suggested I go over and help. I don’t know how old Bill was, but he couldn’t line up the hitch and ball. He had taped a flashlight just behind the ball. There was a mirror attacked to the back window of his truck bed shell so he could see the ball. It was an odd angle, so he just couldn’t get it. He was very appreciative for the help, and with a few tries, we got it. This old Excella had obviously been a lot of miles. He said he bought it used in 1992, and he hadn’t babied it.

On Sunday we drove up to Brundage Mountain Ski Resort. Usually they run the ski lift to take people to the top of the mountain where they rent mountain bikes to ride back down, but they were closed. It is no longer summer and the road was being paved. Seeing the road construction delay, I started to turn around when the pilot car driver came running back to us. He said they were about to start up the mountain, and the delays were very short. Who ever saw a pilot car driver do that? At the top, he said he thought Brundage was closed, but said if we continue on the gravel road to the top, there is a beautiful overlook. Past that is the reservoir. Six miles past that is another lake, and 10 miles past is another. It never ceases to amaze me how far westerners will travel on a dusty, bumpy gravel road to get somewhere.

The overlook was indeed beautiful, looking down at a beautiful trout stream that is impossible to get to. The reservoir was very low, but one boat was fishing and someone had pitched a tent. Several cars passed us, one zooming back toward town. Martha suggested going to the next lake and fishing. I quickly calculated six more miles at 25 miles an hour, then six back and then down through construction to town. With maybe an hour of fishing, it would shoot the whole day, so we headed back down.

After lunch we rode the bikes on North Valley Rails-to-Trails. It was a pretty ride through farms and houses and a pretty marsh. The wind picked up as a front started to push through. Rain is predicted to come.


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.

Alberton to Boise

September 10, 2017

Rhonda and Martha were flying into Boise on the evening of the 12th. Then Kelly and Rhonda would be heading south to Moab, while Martha and I would head back north and west. Everything we had was covered in dust. Our trip with David couldn’t be topped, so we decided to leave the fishing on that great note. We had a great three weeks of fishing, but now we needed to do some serious cleaning.

Setting the truck GPS for Boise, we turned the radio to listen to news. We weren’t paying enough attention to where we were going until we saw a sign for Spokane. It is no doubt the simplest way to go on major highways, but not the way we wanted to go. We cut over to 12, 95 and 55. It was definitely the longer route, but it is a beautiful drive with such variety of terrain. It follows the beautiful Salmon River for a long time, then the Little Salmon River and the Payette River. Incredible, beautiful waters. The Payette is Olympic-calibre kayak water. Ron Lowry would later tell us about running a raft on it and turning it over.

Finally arriving at Mountain View RV Resort, we spent the next day and a half washing, cleaning, doing laundry, and rearranging for our next adventure. Kelly rented a car and got a hotel room. By the time we picked up the girls at the airport, we were really tired, and so were the girls after a long day of travel. We had a nice dinner exchanging stories before going our separate ways and getting a good night’s sleep.

Fish Creek

September 8, 2017

Fish Creek is 30 minutes west from River’s Edge Campground. This time there was no fly shop, no restaurant, but plenty of people fish it. The stream was low and very clear, but with many deep pools. We could not find a fly the fish wanted. Was it fished out? Had someone fished ahead of us? Were they feeding on something we didn’t have? Finally we found a big pool where we could see them feeding. Still they weren’t interested in what we had. I went to the end of the pool to see what washed down. Tiny, little dead, black bugs floated downstream. Kelly put on a black ant and that did the trick, catching some nice cutthroats.

As we walked toward another pool, I stopped in my tracks as caught a glimpse of something big in the bushes. A moose looked back at me in similar surprise. There was a small, but perfect moose bog where she was happily eating.

Driving to what we thought was the top of the stream, it split into two branches. The stream became too small, so we headed back down the long, dusty road.

Fishing Rock Creek

September 7, 2017

We drove to the Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop in Missoula, about 30 minutes away. As we drove south, the smoke intensified. Rick greeted us in this large shop with everything. I looked at flies while Kelly asked about a guided trip, what streams to fish and what to use. Despite the smoke, they are busy with guided trips. We decided to go get a cup of coffee and think it over. Since Rock Creek was another 30 minutes away, we decided to fish that today and go to Fish Creek tomorrow. We agreed on a guided trip on Clark Fork on Saturday, when his best guide was available. We bought the flies he recommended and headed out, while a couple came in and cancelled a trip tomorrow because of the smoke.

Walking back to the truck, I noticed a parking ticket. There were no meters, but looking around, I saw the place you pay and put a ticket in your window. Shoot! Opening the envelope, there was a ticket, but also a note forgiving it for a first offense. Nice touch Missoula!

A mile or so after turning on Rock Creek Road, there was a fly shop, so of course we stopped to ask what to use. He recommended October Caddis, so I bought four and four Prince nymphs. The road follows this beautiful, medium-sized stream for maybe 50 miles, but the road is closed 19 miles up. The stream is the border between two fires, and they had just opened it back up. There is a restaurant beside the fly shop that JC Hanks recommended to Kelly. We went in to see if we could get a sandwich at Stage Station Restaurant. Lisa was carrying out four big plates with the best-looking breakfasts I have seen. One with big, beautiful pancakes, another with a big omelet,  sausage and toast. Man! She asked what we wanted, then put these big sandwiches, a big cookie, chips and an apple in water-proof bags. Then she told us what was for dinner.

Maybe because the stream had just reopened, there were lots of people fishing, one couple coming from Connecticut. It’s all catch and release, barbless hooks. There were farms and houses along the first part, and another fly shop! There were fishing camps and rental places. We weren’t exactly the first ones on the stream, but we stopped at the first pool without a car parked and caught a few. It was tough walking in this slippery stream. Cleats were a better choice. I messed up one Caddis removing it from a small cutthroat. I was on the far side of the stream fishing upstream as Kelly cursed on the other side. He kept missing fish, a couple of them pretty big. Finally he looked at his fly to discover a broken hook.

Moving up to about mile 16, we found another good area. Kelly went up and I went down. I hooked a 16” powerful fish in the middle of the river downstream from me. I had my 7’ 4-weight rod, a little rod, and I wondered if it was enough to hold this fish as it stripped line running downstream fast. I have never seen this reel being stripped like this and didn’t even know if it had backing on it. The line is really old too, so I got over to the rocky bank and started walking as quickly as I could downstream, reeling line in. He jumped and spit the October Caddis out, but somehow it hooked in his tail. Now I ran to catch up with him, grabbing my net. With a plunge of the net, I missed the first time, but caught him the second. Looking at this magnificent fish, I put the net in the water to let him catch his breath. The fly was no longer attached to the fish. I took a couple of pictures and set him free.

We caught a few more in this pool before moving up for one more pool. We fished this area up and down for about an hour. Watching a big fish rising in the middle of a huge pool, I could barely get close enough to cast to it. After a couple of tries, I put it in the right place and wham! In one quick strike, he took my last Caddis and broke the line. It had a two-pound tippet on it. Surely he wasn’t two pounds, but he hit it with such force that it broke it. I’ll change to a four-pound tomorrow. I hate losing them, not so much for losing a fish, but that he has a hook in his mouth. I know it’s barbless and he’ll probably shake it out, but I hate it.

We were tired now, and Kelly was having a terrible time with felt-bottom boots in this slippery stream. He almost fell several times. It’s not so easy climbing out with felt either. No doubt, we are not as spry as we were on our last trip four years ago, but it was a good day. Driving back down the road, a bunch of Bighorn Sheep crossed the road. Back on I90, the smoke looked heavier. Missoula looked like a smog-choked city. With a million acres burning in Montana, it remains on the front page of the papers. but also the Missoula paper is the only one I have ever seen with a whole page on fishing conditions on all the major trout streams. There is also a festival here this weekend celebrating “A River Runs Through It”. They moved it from its original location because of smoke.

Hungry Horse to Alberton, Montana

September 6, 2017

We went back to the ranger station to see what the fire situation is in Alberton, to the south in Montana. Another very nice ranger checked the computers and maps, finding that Fish Creek would be OK, but Rock Creek was closed, defining the border of two fires. Forest roads were closed. There were fires all around it, one being totally uncontained. The biggest fire is the Lolo fire in Missoula County, burning 48,300 acres. More than 1 million acres of Montana have burned this season with over 4,000 firefighters involved in the battle. The total number of fires is 1,687, 938 being started by people. One of the biggest fires was started by a 15 year old boy shooting fireworks. The west is more than 80 days without measurable rain.

We stopped in Columbia Falls to wash the truck and trailer. The further we drove south on Rt. 2, 93 and 90 to Alberton, the smokier it got. We kept the windows closed the entire time. I’m sure this is beautiful country, but it was clouded with smoke. We arrived in Alberton, population 420, and pulled into River’s Edge Campground with our fingers crossed. It only has 17 sites, but we figured the fires would slow business down. Wrong again. Fortunately they had two sites available. As we backed into a small site, our new neighbors watched. On my third attempt to get the trailer straight, I rolled down the window, telling them not to give me any grief. They just smiled and said they were going to sell the video.

We spent an hour and a half cleaning the inside of the trailer, then fixed a drink and went out to a picnic table on a cliff beside Clark’s Fork River. It’s a beautiful spot with a big, rocky cliff across a beautiful river. The smoke had eased up some, and it was a delightful evening at 70 degrees.. We fixed bison burgers, rice and green beans. Kelly had bought a couple of movies, but decided we wouldn’t stay awake long enough to watch. I was quickly asleep. I think Kelly read two pages of his book.