Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

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Heart of the Hills Trail, Hurricane Ridge and Sol Duc Campground

October 23, 2017

We hiked the 2.5 mile (one way) Heart of the Hills Trail through the rain forest. It’s a pretty trail with walkways over wet areas. I am greatly appreciative of the people who come in here to build these.

Back at camp we heard cars going up the mountain road that was closed yesterday. We decided to take a look, driving up the mountain to Hurricane Ridge Visitor’s Center. What a spectacular view! You think you are Switzerland with big, snow-capped peaks. We were so lucky to have a beautiful day to see it. These mountains were covered in clouds as we came in on the ferry.

Then back to camp where we hooked up and headed to Sol Duc Campground, only an hour and a half away. We passed along gorgeous Crescent Lake in Olympic National Park. Just after the lake we turned to go into Sol Duc. It is a beautiful campground in a rain forest with huge trees throughout and a small offshoot of the Sol Duc River running next to camp. Oh yeah, and then there are the hot baths. We talked with a nice couple beside the river. They were looking for salmon moving upriver, but we couldn’t see any. They had moved here from Michigan and love it. They were going to stop at the next spot, The Cascades, and see if there were salmon. We decided to get to camp and take a hot bath.

After setting up, we went over to lodge for a bath in natural hot baths at 105 degrees. It was a good day.

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Move to Olympic National Park

October 22, 2017

With a 7:30 start we got to the ferry terminal before 9:00. Fortunately we had a reservation, because it was full. We parked in the designated lane and waited till 10:00 when they came around to check passports and a few questions. It’s an hour and a half beautiful ferry ride across Juan de Fuca Straight to Port Angeles. A bit cold and windy on deck, I got used to it after a while. It’s fun to wander around checking the views and the people, but I had to go in a few times to warm up. We had a nice conversation with a gentleman from California who went to Victoria to look after the grandchildren while his daughter was in a conference. He had some good suggestions about the ways to travel south.

As we approached Port Angeles, Olympic loomed large, covered in clouds with sun trying to peek through. Snow covered many of the mountaintops. Several whales were spotted in the distance, Arriving at port, customs pulled all the campers over to search them. We were the last ones, but the guy was very nice. We found County Aire Natural Foods that had high ratings and ordered some a Hunter sandwich with turkey, pesto, pepperoni, onions and something else and some chili, Both were very good. One should not grocery shop while hungry.

Then up to the Visitor’s Center for some suggestions and information, and on to Heart of the Hills Campground. It was a beautiful day while we were in town, but by the time we settled in camp, the rains returned. We were happy to relax for the remainder of the afternoon. I was happy to have time to sit and read my book, “The River of Doubt”.

Oil Change, Laundry, Bookstore, Pub

October 21, 2017

I took the truck to Jenner Chevrolet to have the oil changed, transmission flushed, tires rotated, air filter and cabin filters changed. Meanwhile Martha did laundry. After lunch we went downtown to Munro’s Books. Jane-Ashley recommended “River of Doubt” by Candice Millard. Since I enjoyed the iMax movie about about Henry Bates’ 11-year journey through the Amazon, she suggested I read about Teddy Roosevelt’s trip. After reading the reviews, I couldn’t wait to get it. I had called all over town. Munro’s only had one copy. It had been raining all day and Munro’s was packed with people. It’s a pleasure to see a bookstore so busy, and this is a good one. What better thing to do on a rainy day.

This section of Government Street has some great stores. Traffic isn’t bad at all, and despite the rains, many walked the streets shopping. We went next door to Murchie’s Tea & Coffee. Whatever you want in teas and coffee, you will find it here. The line went out the door for tea or coffee, cakes, pies, sandwiches and other goodies. Of course it was a perfect day for a hot cup of tea.

Then we went to Craigdarroch Castle for a tour. It is unbelievable what someone can build when they have tons of money. Unfortunately Robert Dunsmuir, who had it build, died before it was finished. His family lived there for 18 years, and then it found uses as a hospital and a university among other things. It is quite something, and reading all the history plaques made it interesting.

For dinner, we drove through the rains to Six Mile Pub, which was good. Fortunately we didn’t have far to drive back after a couple of glasses of wine on a dark, rainy night.

Victoria, British Columbia

Friday, October 12, 2017

As predicted, the rains stopped at 11:00 – just in time, as I was getting cabin fever. First stop was beautiful Beacon Hill Park. As the rain still sprinkled, we walked around through flowers, trees and ponds with little connecting streams. Ducks played in the waters while peacocks and seagulls were everywhere else. Lots of people were out on a now pretty day. The coastal side of the park is more natural. The beautiful coastline is enough. People were walking dogs, riding bikes, walking or sitting on one of many benches enjoying the views. By then we were getting hungry, so we headed down to the docks and “Red Fish Blue Fish” to try and choose which good-looking thing to order. Fish and Chips, oysters, salmon sandwiches and seafood chowder. People were eating all along the dock as we queued up in the long line. This is downtown Victoria, two blocks from the Parliament building and the great Empress Hotel. Yet, sea planes land here, and whale tours guarantee seeing a whale. People kayak all around the city, and bike lanes and paths seem to be everywhere.

We walked through the Empress Hotel. It was busy with oncology and thyroid conferences. The dining room was filled with people taking high tea. We walked up town a while, finding a Patagonia store, where Martha bought some wool socks. Walking a different way back, we poked in several shops. It’s a very nice downtown with good shopping, but not outrageous prices. Plenty of people were out, but you can easily drive through the city. The greater metropolitan area is 383,300. The roads are good, people are courteous, and for the most part, it is easy to get around. I’m not one who loves a city, but I like this one a lot. There are lots of things to do and plenty of outdoor adventures. There are lots of parks throughout the city. We left a lot undone, but then we have another day.

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.

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.