Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Aquarium

October 4, 2017

Riding our bikes north along Capilano Road, we came to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park where the Capilano River cuts through a gorge. Huge cliffs stand on the east side of the gorge. A cruise ship must have just come into Vancouver, as it was crowded with people speaking Japanese. I’m sure this swinging bridge will support all the people you could cram onto it, but it is also a long way to fall if something goes wrong. Of course there is always someone who wants to make it swing more. Others stop to take pictures of themselves or their families. Once on the other side there are wooden walkway trails and canopy walks. Except for the masses of humanity, it is all very pretty amongst beautiful, big trees. Back on the starting side, is a cliff walk that is cool. At least it doesn’t move. It’s $40 to get in, but they have done a fabulous job of building it, while minimizing the impact.

We rode back to camp, which was all downhill. I don’t know which is more frightening, the swinging bridge or biking in the city. After lunch, we took the more frightening route across Lion’s Gate Bridge. Traffic is always busy across the bridge that goes into Vancouver, but the bike/walk trail is protected by cables. The scary part comes when other bikers want to pass, and you have to move over toward the right where there is a slot big enough for your tire to go through. You wouldn’t go through, but it would cause a fall, which could knock the other rider into traffic. Thinking of all that makes it difficult to hold the bike steady while someone passes.

Vancouver Aquarium gets an A+. It is a great aquarium with the usual porpoises, sea lions and fish in tanks, but they do some cool things. They have a 4-D movie about the great sardine migration and all the animals who depend on them for food, complete with water splashing in your face and whooshing wind at your back. They also have lots of very cool jelly fish displays. There is a room where they have pictures of different places in British Columbia with a tank below showing what lives in the water. There was a good video on sustainable fisheries. I know wild-caught is the rage and probably better for you, but it is not sustainable. How there are enough fish to feed the masses of humanity, I just don’t know. Then there are all the other animals that need to eat.

Getting back on the bikes and riding through beautiful Stanley Park, we agreed we could have spent a month just exploring this great park. I am getting excited about leaving tomorrow for Vancouver Island.

Hop-on-Hop-off Tour of Vancouver

October 3, 2017

It is sometimes best to get the big picture of a city with a bus tour. We should have stuck with the first lady, who was quite good, but we got off at Granville Island, an area that was converted from warehouses into shops, food markets artisans and restaurants. It’s fun to walk around the busy area with music playing in parks. There is a huge market area, where you can buy any food imaginable – baked goods, seafood, vegetables and fruits. We had a nice lunch at the Sandbar Restaurant overlooking a busy waterway with its cute little water taxis.

Hopping back on the trolly, we got the worst driver. We should have gotten off. He was a poor narrator and he hit one car and ran over a few curbs. I can’t imagine driving that big thing in this busy city, but he was pitiful. We walked back to Bella Gelateria that won the best gelato in the world award. I don’t know how they won. It wasn’t that good.

Back in town, we went to a very nice grocery store and got some cheese and crackers and wine, hoping we could get together with another Airstream couple from Germany. Heinz and Birgett accepted the invitation, and we had a very enjoyable evening trading stories of where we had been and of places to go. They are retired physicians who keep their Airstream in California. They explained the complicated rules they must follow in order to keep coming back to the US. They must leave the country after 3 months, which is why they come to Canada. They will go back to Bavaria for the winter and return next year. We talked about the shooting in Las Vegas, the problems in the US as well as the problems Europe is having. They like to bike and showed us on the map where they like to go. If we had another day it would be fun to do, all along the water past Stanley Park. Being the only campground in the city, this is a busy place, and you can’t just add a day. I’m sure there will be other biking opportunities. We enjoyed our evening with Heinz and Birgett.

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Vancouver

October 2, 2017

It’s not a bad drive from Seattle to Vancouver of about 3 hours. We checked into Capilano RV Park, then got the bikes out and took a ride over Lion’s Gate Bridge to Stanley Park. This is a gorgeous park in a forest with huge, old trees. Biking, hiking and carriage trails go all through and around the park. There is a lovely teahouse overlooking the water, and there are other places to get a coffee or something to eat. Some bikers were like us, touristing along, while others were out for a serious workout. It was a beautiful day, sunny and 70 degrees, perfect for a bike ride.

Seattle

October 1, 2017

Poor Martha. I just had to go see the fish hatchery in Issaguah. It’s October and the salmon should be running. Sure enough, these big fish were frantically trying to get over the dam or up the fish ladder. They open and close them at different times, harvest the eggs, then return them to the stream. Issaguah is a cute little town on the edge of Seattle.

We had a great visit with our friends, Becky and Dick Dudley in their beautiful home on Mercer Island. They are from one of our favorite places, Abingdon, Virginia. Becky was a hygienist who worked with us back in the late 70’s. It was great spending time with them and their family. Becky brought out some old pictures. One was of Martha holding Mac when he was a baby. We took a picture of Martha holding Mac’s baby, Bronson, who is just 10 days old. It was so cool to see Mac and Si and their families. Mac is a lawyer and Si is an orthodontist who just opened a new office in Issaguah. Becky and Dick fixed a great dinner of Salmon, mixed vegetables, spinach balls, potatoes, and a wonderful fruit pie. We so enjoyed old memories and new. Thank you so much Becky and Dick, for being such great friends. I hope we can get together again in the not so distant future.

Hike Squirrel Cache, Bike to Ralph’s for a Milkshake

September 29, 2017

As we got ready to hike Squirrel Cache Trail, Ken and Ruth came over. We had spoken last night as they were cooking dinner because they have a new 19’ Bambi. They are from Spokane and wanted to get their new Airstream out. They knew all about the campground and the area. Previously tent campers, this is all new to them, but Ken is an avid reader of the Airstream Forum. As we stood there talking, another couple came up. They too have an Airstream, a 23’. Both couples were very nice and interesting to chat with.

The Squirrel Cache hike was an easy hike, even though we made a wrong turn somehow. I keep looking at trees with holes all through them for a baby owl to be sitting in the opening.

After lunch we rode the bikes into Bayview and Ralph’s for ice cream and WIFI. Riding the Lynx Trail over gravel, rocks and tree roots slowed things down quite a bit. It makes it interesting for a while, but we rode on the road coming back. Bayview is really a nice, little town in a beautiful setting with big mountains surrounding a beautiful lake. I ordered a double scoop chocolate cone, while Martha went for the Huckleberry milkshake. Both were outstanding. I’m going to miss Ralph’s. He is sponsoring a fishing tournament this weekend and had 78 entries.

Back at camp, Martha cooked salmon, potatoes and brussel sprouts over an open fire. She is very good at cooking this way.

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.

Travel to Hayburn State Park on Chatcolet Lake

September 22, 2017

We drove through University of Idaho, where our friend, Karen Human, went to graduate school. It is a beautiful school in a beautiful area, and Moscow is a cute, little university town.

On the edge of town, we visited the Appaloosa Museum. These horses were likely brought by the Spanish, but their heritage goes back thousands of years, probably originating in China. The Nez Perce developed this breed along the Palouse River and throughout their region. Their traits are they have a great disposition and work well with children and all members of the family. They are strong, durable and very fast.

In the war of 1877, Cheifs Joseph, White Bird and Looking Glass and a small band of women, children and men managed to outrun the army for four months over 1500 miles, partly because of the Appaloosa horse. There was a map in the museum showing the routes of the Nez Perce or the Palouse tribe, the army chasing them, and also the routes of Lewis and Clarke.

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”.