07/19/12 Linda and I left today for our summer Pacific NW RV trip. Our first stop was in Lone Pine California. It was deadly hot about 96 F. when we arrived at the RV park. Fortunately the 5th wheel AC still worked and it got us cooled done in a couple of hours. We got our satellite Dish network TV going after calling Dish to reactivate our service. I decided that I am going to buy a 211 receiver that has high definition but now DVR. If I buy it myself I can turn off the $7 per month service fee or can get a free receiver leased from Dish for $7 per month but can not turn it off. We picked up sandwiches from the Alabama Hills Bake shop in town. There food is excellent.
07/20/12 Got a good nights sleep last night. The AC ran until 3:00 am keeping us cool and I slept in the living room to escape Linda’s snoring. We arrived at Sparks Marina RV park about 2:00 pm. This is a nice modern well equipment RV park and close to our friends Conrad and Kathy Evans house in Sparks Nevada. We went to there house and Kathy made us a nice rib dinner with corn bread, Italian Chianti wine, and great Key Lime Pie with fresh blue berries. It was fun catching up on each of our personal lives.
07/21/12 Left Sparks at 7:30 am and drove 375 miles to Jordan Valley, OR arriving at 2:30 pm. It was a nice day for driving and the scenery was picturesque. We did have to wait once 25 minutes for road construction activity. The RV park called Sunny Ridge was very run down and seedy place, but there is no other park to go within 60 miles. It was very hot but the RV AC did a good job cooling us off. I was very tired so I did not disconnect the 5th wheel. We had honey baked ham sandwiches for dinner staying in camp the whole night and day. Linda let me have the good back bed because she wanted to stay up later than me. We sleep at opposite ends of the trailer because we both snore and disturb each from peaceful sleep. I was so tired from the drive and opted for bed at 8:00pm sleeping until 6:15 am the next morning.
07/22/12 We left about 7:15 am for Riggins, CA about 185 miles. The scenery was so nice and there were no good RV parks so I decided to drive 285 miles all the way to Orofino Idaho the last town before our destination at Aquarius camp ground. We checked into the very beautiful Crossing RV Park with a view of Middle Fork of the Clear River about 15’ from our trailers. Again I was dead tired and went to bed at 8:00 pm.
07/23/12 We got up at 7:30 am and made phone calls via skype on my lap top computer. Our AT&T phones did not work here. My Verizon WiFi device worked great so I had a good Internet connection and Skype phone calls were more clear and convenient to use than a real cell phone. I emptied all our holding tanks and filled up with fresh water for our 8 day stay at Aquarius. Next we went to the grocery store to load of on food for the 8 day stay in the wilderness. Got on our way at 10:30 am arriving at Aquarius at 12:30 pm. We saw a young perhaps 2 year old black bear along the way that crossed the road right in front of us and then climbed up a very steep ridge occasionally looking back to see if it was being followed. It was thrilling to see it at close range. Doug Willingham had a beautiful large shaded site 20 yards from the North Fork of the Clearwater River held for us. It was a challenge to back into this site but once in avoiding the trees there was plenty of room and it was level. We said hello to our friends; Doug & Lana Willingham, Lana’s daughter Shelly & and 2 kids, Joe & Scarlet Willingham, Gretchen Benson, and Peter & Elke Braumlich & 2 teenage grand children girls. It was small group this year. We go set up for the 8 day stay, but no TV, no AC, no Electricity, and no sewer. Only amenities provided by camp ground; pit toilet and river sandy beach for swimming and bathing. Of course the scenery was to die for; red cedar trees, red alder, several varieties of tall pine trees, ferns, cliffs, small mountains , numerous creeks for trout fishing, wild berries - including huckle berries, great hiking trails, and really important to me it is quite tranquil place with very view people. We barbecued slider hamburgers for our dinner tonight.
07/24/12 Got up around 7:30 am. I cooked breakfast outside on our gas stove; bacon, eggs, and hash brown potatoes with cherry preserves. Yum Yum the best breakfast so far on the trip. In the late morning I drove with Linda, Meghan, and another 2 SUV’s full of girls to Skull Creek and Collins Creek where the girls picked huckle berries while I did some photography along the creeks. Returned back to camp after 2 hours. The 30 minute ride was very beautiful along the creeks and the North Fork of Clearwater River. I reminisced several spots on the river where I have rafted on previous years coming close to a capsize but never actually having one on all those runs down the river. I tried going down once on a inner tube and almost beat my body to a pulp on all the rocks my legs dragged over. Got back to camp and slept 2.5 hours resting up for dinner. For dinner I grilled hamburger, orange peppers, onions, zucchini, and mushrooms to accompany pasta and spaghetti sauce topped with parmigiana Regina grated cheese. Yum Yum I think grilling the vegetables with vinegar and olive oil kicked them up a notch. Again I went to bed early around 8:00 pm and slept until 8:30 am.
07/25/12 We had cereal with fresh fruit for breakfast. Spent the morning socializing with the campers. At late morning we took Meghan along with Doug’s 3 poodles down to the beach. The dogs had a great time retrieving toys out of the water, digging in the sand, and playing with each other. Meghan has developed a dry skin condition on the trip so I washed her in the river with a medicated Oatmeal based shampoo. I had left over spaghetti for lunch and then worked on my computer diary and photos for a couple of hours. We invited Gretchen Benson over for dinner tonight. She brought over red wine, homemade guacamole dip and chips. I barbecued a Costco Tri-tip roast on the barbecue and cooked baby green peas with butter for dinner. Yum Yum.
07/26/12 I cooked sour dough pancakes with huckle berries outside using the gas stove and cast aluminum grill for the entire group this morning. The cast aluminum grill gave me problems but I finally got the temperature right and had success. The group loved the pancakes with Linda’s freshly picked huckle berries and real maple syrup. Took Meghan for a walk along the river on the gravel road. It looked like rain so turned around. Only got a couple of sprinkles on me and the Meghan. Linda whimped out immediately being concerned about getting wet. Joe & Scarlet Willingham decided to hunt for wood taking 2 other vehicles with them. They found 2 small dead trees which Joe cut down using his Stihl chain saw, then cutting them into smaller rounds which could be carried by his mules. When they got back to camp mules Doug and I were assigned to split the rounds. One of the trees was burned and was covered with loose charcoal. We were both a dirty mess after splitting that wood. It was hard work splitting that wood but very good exercise and preferable to carrying those rounds out in the hilly forest. We split the rounds using small iron wedges and a small 5# sledge hammer which really increased ones heart when swinging it for an hour. I decided that I need a nap after that activity until dinner time. The entire group brought appetizers to our sandy beach for dinner that night. Some of the food and wine was excellent but the ambiance on that white pristine sandy river beach was to die for. Also the joy of this place is that we are the only people out here. We had a short camp fire after dinner. We decided that the quality of the fire wood was slightly below average. burning but not fast enough for us. It was decided that the wood needed to be split into smaller pieces.
07/27/12 I slept late until 9:00 am this morning. Got up and cooked hash browns, bacon, and eggs for breakfast. Spent a couple hours on the laptop doing diaries and photos. I then drove up Isabella Creek road to Fern Creek where I did some long exposure creek shots using a 1.6 neutral density filter to make the rapids look smooth and to bring out a bloom in the creek rapids. We had left over spaghetti for dinner tonight.
07/28/12 We did a 3 mile + hike with Meghan on the North Fork of the Clearwater early this morning. A very beautiful hilly wooded trail along the river toward the Dvorshack Reservoir slack waters. Meghan loved the off leash hike and probably easily got 6 miles in to our 3 miles. Next I stayed on the beach a couple of hours conversing with Doug Willingham and washing Meghan with medicated shampoo in the river. We invited Scarlet and Joe Willingham over for fillet mignon steak dinner at night. Joe brought a 2.5” thick steak over from the Brawley Costco that was definitely better than my 2” thick one from the San Diego Costco. Linda and I like barbecue sauce on our fillets but the Willingham’s wanted no part of that sauce. Had a small group at the campfire for 1.5 hours before bedtime.
07/29/12 It got down to 53 F. last night and I woke up cold in the living room even with all the windows all closed. I used the ThermaRest pad on the living room hide-a-bed last night which made it much more comfortable. I decided to cook in the trailer this morning to warm up the place. I made asparagus cheese omelets with toast for breakfast. I made two with 4 large eggs which is too much for my pan. It was too dry because I had to cook it too long, all info non cooks could care less about, I am sure. We are still on our original fresh water which we brought in. Linda draws hot water from the trailer to wash our dishes and throws the dish water into the forest. I have taken 3 showers total including today. We use fresh water for the toilets and to wash our hands and faces a bit. Our fresh water is just about empty after 6 days. Our black and gray water is only 33% full. I am going to string out 120’ of water hose and fill my fresh water tank from the camp ground source. The water is pure and tasty here, so I want to use it for drinking water the rest of the trip. I started putting everything away today for a quick exit tomorrow morning to Clarkston, Washington.
07/30/12 We made Cinnabon rolls for breakfast and go off around 10:00 am. We saw one deer on the way out of Clearwater Forest. Arrived in Clarkston, Washington about 1:00 pm and checked into the very beautiful upscale Granite Lakes RV Park located right on the Snake River. We got a site right on the water front and got set up and cooled down as it was 95 F. down here at sea level. I visited Costco right next door for some cheap good hot dogs and the incredible nut chocolate ice bar plus a few other goodies I needed and did not need. Then I visited a local RV parts dealer to price the new led lights that replace the existing fluorescent light bulbs in the 5th wheel. The cost of the LED lights were $49 per 12” fluorescent bulb. Apparently 1 led bulb is equivalent to 2 fluorescent bulbs, but still it would cost $49 per fixture times perhaps 8 fixtures which would total $400 for the trailer. I decided to wait until the price comes down. We watched the Olympics and went to be early.
07/31/12 I got up at 8:00 am and took Meghan for a three mile walk on the Green Belt Trail along the Snake River. I hired a local to wash my 5th wheel while parked in the RV Park. He did a good job and loved to gossip about life in Clarkston and Lewiston. I made shrimp pasta with onions, pepper flakes, fresh garlic, spinach, mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, all sautéed in butter and olive oil. Topped it with fresh Italian Parmesan cheese. Yum Yum.
08/01/12 Left about 9:00 am for Wenatchee River County Park in Monitor, Washington. It was a long boring ride for me. I was dead tired when I arriving at the park around 2:00 pm. The area is very beautiful with the Wenatchee River scenery and all the agricultural fruit products raised in the area. We watched the Olympics and went to bed early.
08/02/12 We left around 9:30 am for Anacortes Washington. The drive northwest on highway 2 through Wenatchee NF and over Stevens Pass was very scenic and beautiful. The weather in the 70’s with broken clouds was perfect. We arrived at Fidalgo Bay Resort around 2:00 pm. We got a site right on the bay about 5 ‘ from the water. This resort is beautiful and deserves it’s high trailer life book marks. The cost is $60 per night for a waterfront site, expensive but well worth the price for this upscale park with its majestic view. Most people had boats which they used for trapping Dungeness crabs. We got set up on the large site with grass and beach front direct access. The park had free WiFi, but our AT&T phones and Verizon WIFI also worked good even having 4G. We decided to drive through Anacortes to the Ferry site to Vancouver BC. We found it with no problem and confirmed our reservation. We were instructed to be 90 minutes early for our disembarkation tomorrow afternoon.
08/03/12 It got down to 42 F. last night for some wonderful sleeping weather. We got up about 8:30 am. I cooked French Toast with fresh huckle berries for breakfast. I took a shower with Meghan dog using the Oatmeal shampoo on her. She has been suffering a bit from dry skin and this shampoo seems to help her. It is another beautiful day here on Fidalgo Bay in the high 60’s this morning. This is one of my top 10 RV parks anywhere. The sites are large and the ambiance of the sites on the deep scenic beach is to die for. The sites have beautiful green grass with some ornamental plants. The view out to the bay includes the San Juan Islands, the island town of Anacortes, and two oil refineries (not objectionable as they are far away and the prevailing wind is away from the park) in the far right background. The view inland includes snow capped mountains. The weather here is way more sunny than Seattle because this small area is in a rain shadow in the big scheme of things. We had a leisurely morning and got packed up for the 12:00 pm checkout. They let us stay another hour in the holding area while we waited for our Sydney Ferry sail time. While waiting we took Meghan for a walk on an Asphalt bike trails that goes for many miles up and down the coast and through the wet lands. Another bonus for this RV Park. We drove about 15 miles to the Washington Anacortes Ferry Terminal getting there 90 minutes early. We had paid reservation so we had no problem getting a spot on the ferry. We stayed on the bottom deck being guided on by women who watched both sides and top clearance for the drivers. It was very tight and a bit scary. Once moving Meghan did not like the engine noise, so I took here for a walk on leash through all vehicle decks as there was just room enough between rows to walk. We were instructed to stay with our dog so Linda and I took turns going upstairs to the observation decks which had nice chairs with viewing inside and outside and even a cafeteria that was pretty good. It was a pleasant smooth day but I still got queasy from the boat motion. It was a maze through the San Juan Islands. We arrived in Sidney Vancouver BC in 2.5 hours. Passports were required to enter Canada, but security was no problem, just a few questions. We drove to a local park and turned our propane gas back on and Linda had her first cigarette in 3 hours as smoking was not allowed on the ferry. We drove about 8 miles towards Victoria on highway 17 to the Oceanside RV park. It is a nice park but we got stuck in the semi permanent area which has a different ambiance as most people are staying one or more months and do not seem as friendly. Also the WiFi did not work at my site, a real bummer. This park is clean, well laid out, lots of ornamental vegetation, no direct views of the ocean or bay, clean facilities, is OK but definitely not on my top 10 RV park list.
08/04/12 Had French toast and bacon for breakfast. We rested most of the day in the trailer watching the Olympics on satellite TV. There is definitely no WiFi at my RV site location. I had to take my laptop to the club house where it worked great, but what an inconvenience. I called Verizon to see how much the MiFi would cost in Canada and was told that it would be about $3.79 per MB. To upload a 30 MB photo to Costco would be over $100, way too much. You could run up a $1000 + bill very easily in 10 days. I will definitely keep my WiFi turned off and walk down to the club house with laptop in hand to use the free WiFi. I have given the park a better rating than the first impression because of the beautiful trails and beach access to a beautiful landscaped filled all sizes and shapes of driftwood. In the late afternoon, we drove about 5 miles to Bouchard Gardens to get info about it. We will go early on a week day to avoid the busy crowds. I barbecued steak with fried hash browns, fresh corn, and fresh green beans. While eating some friendly neighbors from Florida USA dropped by keeping me from eating dinner in a timely fashion.
08/05/12 Wanted to leave early this morning for Victoria but ended up sleeping until 9:00 am. Had cereal with bananas and fresh peaches for breakfast. I had envisioned Victoria to be a quaint little English town, but in fact it was quite large surrounded by huge a population to the north for miles. In spite of the congestion the down town area is beautiful and very scenic on the bay. We stopped at Douglas Park on the way into town and took Meghan for a short walk on a heavily wooded trail. We drove on into Beacon Park and parked our truck. We walked about a mile through the park and into down town area. We walked past the Victoria BC museum, the old parliament building, the main sea dock, and the Empress Hotel. It was very busy as people were arriving early to watch the Splash concert held on the top of a barge in the bay. People where stacking out there lawn chairs all over the bridges, side walks, and on the grass of the Parliament building to have a vantage point for the evening concert. We plan on coming back for the museum and high tea at the Empress hotel. I made spaghetti with lots of fresh grilled vegetables for dinner.
08/06/12 Slept late and finally got out the door and headed out in the truck for Duncan a small town about 55 miles up the central part of the island. Today is a Canadian holiday so the traffic on hwy 1 was very heavy. Stopped at one high point look out on the way which had great views of the inland passage a very beautiful view indeed. After getting to down town Duncan we watched a folk singer concert for a bit first. We then did a 1.5 mile walking tour with Meghan to see all the famous Indian Totem poles in town. The drive back was a bloody boring traffic jam as all the Canadians where returning home after camping out in the various Provincial Parks on Vancouver Island.
08/07/12 Meghan’s skin condition has been worse as the trip progresses and I insisted on taking her to a Vet, recommended by our RV Park Host. We drove the short 5 miles to Sidney and had a very nice competent female Vet examine Meghan. The Vet examined Meghan for a full half hour and determined that she had a bacterial skin infection. She prescribed and gave us antibiotics for 3 weeks to cure it. She also found her ears to be slightly inflamed and gave us drops to administer also for 3 weeks. The cost was a reasonable $240. She told us that we may not see any improvement for 2 weeks and to be patient and not stop giving her the medication. We stopped at a local grocery store call Thrifty’s to buy some food. The store products quality were excellent but there was nothing thrifty about the store. We wanted some chicken breast, but the cost was 2-3 times that of the US and Linda refused to buy it. We found some hamburger on sale for dinner. I bought some great chocolates, nuts, fruit, cheese, and rolls. We drove home, dropped off Meghan and headed for Butchard Gardens. The Gardens met all our expectations and more. The is definitely the prettiest, largest, best designed floral grounds I have ever had the pleasure to see. After 3 hours I was dead tired, over heated, and ready to return home. I barbecued hamburgers on the Baby Weber for dinner.
08/08/12 We returned to Butchard Gardens this morning for another quick tour. The first day was $33 each, but the 2nd was only $3.50 after presenting day 1 tickets. On the way out we of course did the gift shop where I purchased a T shirt and a fancy English bone china coffee cup with beautiful yellow abstract sun flowers on it. Stayed at the gardens about 2 hours and left for Sidney to buy some fresh Wild Sockeye Salmon from the local Fish Market. Our neighbor at the RV Park is a butcher and is a permanent resident here, advised us to go to the Fish Market in Sidney for the freshest fish in the area. We had lunch on the scenic ocean front at the Rum Runner restaurant which had excellent fish corn chowder soup, great chorizo muscles, claims, and Chardonnay wine. Yum Yum. Returned home to watch the Olympics and catch a couple hours sleep before dinner. I barbecued the Sockeye Salmon, with fresh green beans, Swiss Chard, white rice, and a nice glass of Fume Blanc wine for a late seafood dinner. Yum Yum again.
08/09/12 More great sleeping weather in the low 50’s, so we slept until 9:00 pm. Beautiful sunny clear day in the high 70’s. I washed Meghan in the shower with Oatmeal shampoo. After lounging until noon we headed to the butterfly park. I definitely recommend this park to any photographer or person interested in learning something about butterflies. I would say it has more to offer than the butterfly exhibit at the San Diego Safari Park. Game home after a couple of hours to rest a couple of hours. We then drove up to Sidney for their Farmers Market. I was OK but nothing to brag about. They did have large choice of food stands to choose from. Of course Sockeye Salmon burgers/sandwiches are very popular here. Returned home and watched the Olympics.
08/10/12 Had a early breakfast and took off for Victoria. We parked in Beacon Park and walked about a 1.5 miles to the Victoria BC Museum. The entry cost for seniors was half price $15 each. A very impressive Natural history museum of the area. The Indian artifacts were just awesome. A great entire floor about dinosaurs, and an extremely high quality black and white photo display showing early photos of Queen Elizabeth and family. This museum is probably a taste of how good the London Natural History museums are? After 2.5 hours of walking through the museum I was tired and hungry for lunch. I had reservations for High Tea at the Empress Hotel just a short 1 block walk away. The price of $60 was outrageous but the tea cakes were to die for. I had some tea but also indulged in a very nice champagne which I preferred to the tea. Linda loved her pineapple-orange tea, pear tort, and said that the Scone with clotted cream was the best she ever had. I liked the lemon curd torte, pear torte, marzipan cake, and the smoke salmon rolled sandwich. We received two boxes of Empress Hotel teas to take home. The ambiance of the Bengal Tea Room was wonderful and included a live piano player. I did not feel too abused financially and really enjoyed the experience. Linda dragged me about another 3 long blocks to buy some special Murchie’s Tea which her mother wanted. Next another block to a yarn store, and then a long walk perhaps 2.5 miles back to Beacon Park. I think I did at least 6 miles of walking today whew. I was soooo tired as I drove about 15 miles back home to the RV Park. I had left over Wild Sockeye Salmon, sweet corn, and Empress desert tortes for dinner. YUM YUM.
08/11/12 Slept late and woke up stiff from all the walking yesterday. Just cereal with local strawberries for breakfast. Must cut back after yesterdays binge of calories. Watched the Olympics a while and then drove to 6 miles to Sidney Fresh Fish Market to buy fish. They were out of Sockeye Salmon and recommended Spring Salmon which is milder but more moist. The owner claimed that this used to be considered the best fish in the ocean and in his opinion is still the best. It cost about $12 per pound. I also bought some fresh Halibut at $19 per pound. The government has cut way back on the Halibut catch to protect long term viability of the industry. We then drove a few miles south to Island View Provincial Park to run the Meghan. This is a beach park with an RV Park with no hook ups. It was pretty but no clean enough as a destination to suit me. For dinner we grilled the Spring Salmon coated with olive oil and fresh lime juice. It was way better than anything available in Southern California. Along with the salmon we had fresh sweet corn, fresh green beans, and white rice. I watched the Olympics with Linda and then hit the rack at 9:00 pm while Linda continued to watch TV and also was stuck sleeping in the living room hida-bed not the preferred bed for either one of us.
08/12/12 Got up at 9:00 am and cooked ham and cheese omelets with toast for breakfast. We started packing up as this is our day to take the ferry back to Anacortes, WA USA. Unfortunately the earliest ferry I could get reservations for on a week end is leaving at 6:00 pm arriving at 9:15 pm in Anacortes. The ferry goes through the San Juan Islands and has a stop at the Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. It was a smooth sail and I made 3 friends on the trip. One family of students from the Ukraine, Russia, one family of two teachers from Germany, and a teacher photographer and his wife, a King Charles Cavalier dog breeder and handler from Whidbey Island. We arrived OK at Anacortes and drove to the Fidalgo Bay RV Resort setting up in the dark at 9:30 pm. First time in years that we have set up the 5th wheel in the dark.
08/13/12 I got up at 8:30 am and had cereal with fresh strawberries and bananas for breakfast. On the advice of one of photographer I met yesterday we decided to visit Deception State Park only about 12 miles from us. The entry across the pass had a large bridge allowing views of the ocean and bay in both directs. The scenery was was just so breath taking. We took Meghan and hiked two beach trails walking perhaps 2.5 miles total. The scattered downed drift wood on the the very large clean beaches was amazing. The park was quite large with old growth big Douglas Fir trees and huge Red Cedars. Moss and ferns were everywhere. Stopped in Anacortes to buy diesel and a the store for some food on the way home. Slept two hours before getting up for dinner. I fried the fresh Halibut with almonds which I bought in Canada, for dinner. The fish was very good but not as good as the salmon or as good as Alaskan Halibut. This is our last day of nice cool weather as we head inland tomorrow to Wenatchee.
08/14/12 Got moving around 9:00 am on a foggy cool morning in Anacortes. As we drove inland the day became beautiful with huge cumulus clouds overhead. We went south on highway 5 and picked up highway 2 west toward Wenatchee. As you proceed west into the mountains the scenery becomes breathtaking approaching Steven’s Pass in the Cascade National Forest. This has to be in the top 100 of the US scenic drives. We stopped near the summit to have lunch at a rest stop in the trailer. It consisted of left over halibut, strawberries, blue berries, Jarlsburg cheese, and crackers. YUM YUM. We arrived at the Wenatchee County Park about 2:00 pm. It was extremely hot, about 97 F. in the shade. Got set up and the AC working, which cooled us down nicely. I got all my electronics and WiFi equipment working
08/15/12 Got up late and cooked ham and cheese omelets for breakfast. Took Meghan for a walk along the Wenatchee River and the camp ground. Spent a bit of time conversing with campers from Canada. Got a call from my sister Joanne who is just returning into Wisconsin after a trip to Utah and Montana.
08/16/12 We discovered that Stan and Joy Ray Gienger were staying in the park. We conversed with them a bit before heading out to Couer d’alane Idaho. All went well on the scenic drive until we got a trailer tire blow out just 5 miles west of Quincy Washington. There was nothing left of the tire except a little sliver along the rim. It did damage to the fiber glass siding and the wiring of the trailer. I was going to change it myself but discovered that there was a tire dealer in town. I called them to confirm that they had a tire and then drove slowly back to Quincy with only 1 tire on the right side of the trailer. They changed it in an hour charging me a high price of $208 for what should have been about $150. I am really having problems with tire blow outs on the trailer and must bite the bullet soon and replace them with new higher quality grade tires which will wear out instead of blowing out within a year. We continued on into Couer d’alane with out incident. We checked into Blackwell Island RV park. This is a pretty well equipped park right on the lake. We met many camping friends all there to celebrate Joe & Scarlets 50th wedding anniversary. We had cocktails and appetizers in front of our trailer having good old time celebrating with old and new friends. I was feeling no pain and went to bed at 8:30 pm sleeping until 9:00 am.
08/17/12 l got up and drove to Great Harvest breads to buy cinnamon rolls and scones for breakfast. Socialized with many of the campers for a couple of hours. I then drove to Camping World to buy some parts for friends and to buy electrical parts to repair damages done by tire blow out. Had another cocktail hour around 5:00 pm and then went out to dinner to Crickets with Stan & Joy Ray Gienger, Joe & Scarlet Willingham, and Sam & Beverly Sharp. I have good micro brew beer and oysters for dinner. YUM YUM
08/18/12 Slept late again having a very light fruit & cereal breakfast. At 1:00 pm we drove to the Cedar’s floating restaurant for the Willingham 50th wedding anniversary party. The party was held in the outside area of the floating restaurant which is a beautiful venue with views of the Spokane River joining Lake Couer d’alane, big boat traffic, and beautiful snow capped mountains in the back ground. All food and drinks were provided by our host. We had most appetizers available on the regular menu which were absolutely yummy with a glass of Chardonnay wine. After and hour the main course menu was provided which included about 8 items. I had butternut squash ravioli which was excellent. Linda had Wild Sockeye Salmon which she enjoyed tremendously. The desert was the best Huckleberry Ice Cream I ever tasted. YUM YUM
08/19/12 We slept late recovering from all the alcohol we had at the party yesterday. At 1:30 pm Tom Pautler came to pick us up in his new red Lincoln SUV. What a wonderful vehicle with all the latest electronic equipment known to auto world. I especially liked the front radar which automatically reduced your speed when coming up on a slow moving vehicle. Of course the side sonar, dead spot mirror alert, lane drift alert, and rear video camera were all nice features also. It should not be long until the on board auto computer will drive the car for you. Tom drove use out to his house while demonstrating all the new features in his new red SUV. It was good see our friends Tom, Susie, and their Cavalier King Charles dog Reagan after a long absence. We socialized for a couple of hours in the Pautler beautiful designed country spec home loaded with beautiful wood floors and antiques. The view out the side panel across green fields and far away wood hills were beautiful and tranquil indeed. We then went out for dinner at very nice restaurant called Dee Jays near their home. Tom returned us back to Couer d’alane Blackwell Island RV park. What great friends to have are the Pautler’s. We had a very pleasant fun day with them.
08/20/12 We left Couer d’alane about 9:00 am to make our new trailer tire installation at Discount Tire. I decided to bite the bullet and spend the money for some good trailer tires. I purchased (4) LT235/85/R16 Michelin XPS Rib light truck tires which have excellent rating with all the RV forums. The cost was $295 per tire, but I got a $70 rebate total for buying 4 tires, from a Michelin promotion, going on right now. Discount also gave me $75 credit for 3 of my used tires. I bought 4 certificate of replacements which normally cost $40 each but got them for $20 each. This gives you full replacement of the tire for 3 years or down to 3/32 thread tire depth. Discount is one of the few places that gives you replacement insurance for tires mounted on a trailer. The cost included spin balancing of all tires and spare tire removal and re-installation. Another good value was that the sales tax in Idaho is only about 5.9%. The out the door price after all taxes and discounts was about $1120. It took almost two hours for the installation. We stopped at Petco and Costco and then continued north to Sandpoint, ID to visit Doug and Lana for 3 days. We arrived about 1:00 pm and hooked up to Doug’s 30 amp service. I presented Doug with a 30”x20” canvas photograph of his chocolate poodle Katie. We all decided that it looked great over the fireplace mantle. It is the largest canvas photo I have ever ordered from Costco and it turned out great well worth the $70. We had cocktails and watched the beautiful slough water birds from Doug’s high outdoor deck on his house. A family of Ospreys live directly across the water. Doug made baked salmon, salad, and sweet corn for dinner which we had outside on the deck. Surprisingly the mosquitoes were not present today. Retired early.
08/21/12 Slept in late until 9:00 am. It is cool and cloudy this morning with a threat of rain. It started raining around 10:30 am. The rain stopped in early afternoon, so we decided to all go to the local fair which was just starting today. I enjoyed seeing and photographing all the farm animals being delivered for the competition and auction. Returned home for cocktails on Doug’s deck. Lana made Pad Tai with shrimp for dinner. It was tasty.
08/22/12 We got up early this morning and all went to the Hoot Owl Restaurant for breakfast. The portions are huge and considered by most locals the best breakfast house in town. I had eggs, sausage, and a huge pancake with huckleberries in it. YUM YUM. I started getting the trailer ready for departure tomorrow. At 3:00 pm we went down town to the local farmer’s market. Doug took all 3 of his poodles with hats and sun glasses to show them off to the locals. I bought some wonderfully fresh lush salad greens and some delicious yellow corn on the cob. I also did a few photos of the produce and wood products with my 5d mark iii camera. Drove back to Doug’s house purchasing some diesel fuel for $4.12 per gallon, much less than San Diego. Doug and Lana made a fresh salad from farmers market greens, fresh corn on the cob, and charcoal grilled rib eye steaks. YUM YUM everything was prepared perfect and tasted so good.
08/23/12 We said our good buys to Doug & Lana thanking them for there great hospitality and congratulating Doug for limiting his confrontational political conversation with Linda. We had a very nice time. We left about 8:45 am for Missoula, MT. We drove the slow but prettier northern route on highway 200. First we traveled perhaps 20 miles along Lake Pend Oreille with a view to die for. The next 100 miles were along 3 rivers; Clark, North Fork of Clark, and the Flathead all very scenic and great fly fishing rivers. Stopped a 1/2 hour on the Clark to hike with Meghan along a fishing way point. We stopped at a small town quaint little restaurant which specialized in buffalo burgers and huckleberry shakes located 20 miles before Missoula. The shake was so good, that Linda only allowed me to have a small sip of it. The Buffalo burger was the best I ever had. We continued on and checked into Jellystone RV park and got set up. We then went to Brent’s RV shop to fill up with their cheap $.99/gallon propane. They sell RV’s etc and use the cheap propane to get customers in the the door. We relaxed the rest of the day, doing the Internet and watching TV. We had a steak salad and fresh sweet corn all purchased at the Farmer’s Market in Sandpoint Idaho.
08/24/12 It dropped to 48 F last night and I cranked up the heater to 71 F. Got on highway 93 around 8:30 am heading to Great Falls Montana. We were adjacent to the Clark Fork river for 120 miles. The Big Sky Country is sure beautiful. Eventually the country side turned flat and a bit boring so we turned on the Audible “Woodrow Wilson” biography book to pass the time. We drove 360 miles and arrived in Idaho Falls around 2:45 pm and checked into the Snake River RV Park. Had dinner in the trailer and retired early.
08/25/12 We had planned on having a pancake breakfast at the RV Park but Linda added an hour instead of subtracting for the different time zone and the breakfast was over when we arrived. We had to cook our own breakfast doing so, and getting underway at 9:30 pm. We drove about 220 miles straight south on highway I15 to Salt Lake City KOA RV Park. We decided to have lunch around 2:30 pm at the Red Iguana Restaurant. In the past this place has been great, but I ordered poorly and on top of that my non traditional mole sauce was not hot temperature wise or spice wise. Yuk YuK Fortunately Linda loved her chicken mole enchiladas. Next we stopped at the grocery store to do some shopping. Returned to the trailer which was nice and cool now. I felt dehydrated and tired in this change of climate, so I took a 2.5 hour nap. I got up at 6:30 pm and it was still 88 F. outside.
08/26/12 We got up early and took a free shuttle bus to the Conference Center building to watch the Sunday morning Mormon Tabernacle Choir live TV show. The show was great as usual. Afterwards we walked to Temple Square and took a guided tour of the gardens in the square. Our guide was excellent and I learned a lot about growing flowers. I took about 70 photos using my iphone 4s. We returned to the trailer; watching TV and getting rested up for dinner to night. At 5:00 pm we met Mollie and Jeff for dinner at the Copper Onion a nice French Restaurant in down town area. The best main entry by far was had by Linda; “Beef Stroganoff” with wild mushrooms and homemade noodles. We had a nice time socializing with the newly weds. Returned to KOA Park and retired early.
08/27/12 Got on the road by 8:30 am and headed west to Elk, Nevada. We stopped at a rest area near the Bonneville Speed and took Meghan for a run on the salt flats. I wanted to drive 10 miles to the official speedway but Linda would not hear of it! We continued on and arrived in Elko around 12:15 pm. We checked into the upscale “Iron Horse RV Resort”. This park is rated in the top 100 of all US Parks. We got a huge spot with lush grass right next to the club house. Linda decided to do laundry as it was so close to the trailer. We took it easy watching TV and doing a bit of maintenance and clean up on the 5th wheel. We had left overs from last night’s dinner. Took and evening walk around the park just before sunset as the temperature was cooling down nicely.
08/28/12 Left about 8:00 am for Sparks, Nevada. We continued to listen to the Woodrow Wilson 36 hour biography book. They finally got to the end of the war treaty and it was quite interesting. We arrived at the Sparks Marina around 1:30 pm and checked in. It was very hot in the high 90’s. We went over to our friends Conrad and Kathy for nice lasagna Italian dinner.
08/29/12 I finally got my shaggy hair cut this morning at a local clip shop. The Evans came over about 12:30 pm and we all went the Sparks Rib Cook off to sample some ribs. It was so hot and the lines were already long at many of the 41 rib competitors. This years results were not published so you could not say you had any of the winning ribs. The ribs were good but a heart attach waiting to happen so, Conrad and I stopped at 2 samples and we switched to a slice of local pizza and some dark Deschutes beer. Linda then forced us to walk through the arts and crafts area buying nothing. Got back to the trailer and rested until 5:30 pm at which time the Evans picked us up to attend the local Reno bridge club game. Conrad and I play and did terrible. The girls beat us soundly in the over all.
08/30/12 Kathy came over around 9:30 am for a hike around the scenic Sparks Marina Lake. The temperature was perfect in the high 70’s. I had to watch Meghan like a hawk as there many dogs taking a walk with their owners at this popular park. Linda and Kathy went shopping after the walk. I worked on various maintenance projects for the trailer etc. I replaced some bad bulbs and a defective kitchen fluorescent fixture. Next time I will buy the energy efficient and greater light output LED kit for $80 and see if it is feasible to change out the entire trailer. I also researched and did desulfate cycle with my high tech battery charger on my marine battery inverter kit for my astronomy equipment. It takes 24 hours for one cycle and up to 5 cycles will possibly improve performance of a plate sulfated marine battery. The charger sends varying spikes of voltage to the battery which breaks up and dissolves the sulfate on the battery lead plates. We and the Evans went to the Eldorado Casino Roxie Steak House for dinner. I had a melon salad, Steak Diane, Ferrari Carano Cabernet Sauvignon, wine, key lime blue berry soufflé which was all superb. After dinner we met Nels Erickson and his girl friend to attend the Jersey Nights show doing song and dance from the Jersey Boys hit songs at the Eldorado. Kathy Evans got unbelievable seats in the center 5th row back.
08/31/12 Linda and I got up at 8: 00 am had breakfast and then did a hike with Meghan around the Sparks Marina Lake. The temperature was perfect in the low 70’s. The Evans picked us up for another bridge game at the local club. Conrad and I did much better being first but then demoted to 2nd overall after an error was found. Kathy cooked us dinner at night and we returned home to trailer preparing for departure tomorrow morning.
09/01/12 The Evans picked us up at 8:00 am and we all had breakfast at the Western Village Casino coffee shop. Got on our way at 10:00 am and arrived in Lone Pine California at 3:00 pm. Fortunately the Boulder Creek RV Park had a spot for us on this busy holiday week end.
09/02/12 Linda actually got me up at 7:30 am and we got on the road by 8:30 am. The traffic was not bad and we arrived home around 2:30 pm. We listened to Woodrow Wilson biography book finishing it about 2/3 of the way home. I rated the book only 2 stars because it was so long and drawn out. To my surprise Audible Books said that if I did not like the book it could be returned and I would receive my money/credit back. I tried it and it worked. What a deal. Linda and I enjoyed our trip a lot but were glad to be home again.
09/04/12 Left with the 5th wheel alone this morning for the Okie-Tex star party in Trenton, OK. I stopped the first day in Laughlin, NV at the Riverside Casino RV Park. When I arrived at 3:30 pm it was 110 F. in the shade. I negotiated a site in the shade very close to the Casino. I turned on the AC in the trailer and immediately walked to the Casino to cool off. I played Black a couple of hours and then went to the Gourmet Room for cocktails. I had a nice salad, French bread, and muscles in garlic cream sauce with two glasses of Merlot wine. Had a great time talking with the bartender, head chef, and other acquaintances at the bar. Returned to the casino for more BJ in the non smoking area playing at the same table for 2 hours. I ended up winning $120 betting from $5 to $20 per bet. Retired to the icy cool 5th wheel at 10:00 pm immediately going to bet.
09/05/12 Got up at 7:00 am showered and had breakfast in the casino coffee shop. Drove 280 miles to Holbrook Arizona. The area before and after Flagstaff was green and prettier than I have ever witnessed it. There were prolific yellow sun flowers every where. I have written Pilot Gas Stations off for fueling up. They require you to go into the store twice; once to guarantee a certain amount on your credit card and then if you do not use it all, it is required of you, to go into the store again to get a refund. I checked my credit card activity on line and of course they have it F’d up, charging me $100 which I authorized plus another $1 unknown fee and no refund of $12 which I was owed? They are dismally under staffed and the lines are up to 15 minutes long. I will avoid Pilot stations like the plague from here on. I checked into a nice clean KOA Park and kicked back resting from yesterdays heat, gambling, and drinking.
09/06/12 Got up at 6:00 am showered and got the 5th wheel all ready to roll. The KOA had a economical pancake breakfast which opened at 7:00 am. Only me and some workmen attended this early in the morning. I was on my way at 7:30 am driving to 285 miles to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Tony Hillerman Gallup and Shiprock country was very scenic making it a pleasant drive. I stopped for gas at two Navajo Indian Casinos which had cheap diesel gas. In Santa Fe I ended up at the wrong RV Park in down town area because of gps operator input error. Finally got out of the busy down town area and checked into Rancheros de Santa Fe Campground about 12 miles north of town in a nice rustic park with lots of trees and scenic views of the area. I was tired however and never left the trailer after getting set up. The free WiFi was extremely fast and worked great so I caught up on Internet related activities. If I come to Santa Fe again I will definitely come back to this park.
09/07/12 I got up at 6:00 pm and was on my way to Boise City, OK by 7:15 am. The drive north was very scenic tree covered mountains. The tree looked very green and quite healthy. As I drove northeast on hwy 25 into New Mexico it got dryer and dryer. I stopped in Las Vegas, NM nothing like the one in Nevada. I got diesel fuel and talked to a local who said that they were running out of water. He claimed that the town well was only producing 5 gpm not much for a town of 100,00! The driving for the first 140 miles was very pleasant and easy on nice smooth straight rode. The last 100 miles was gruesome as a cross wind kicked up to 55 mph causing me to slow down and drive very cautiously. I stayed at the only RV Park in Boise City, OK. It was only $20 and payment was on the honor system. Good power, water, and sewer. The place had a few seedy looking rigs parked in it, but overall not too bad. There was a antelope hunter and a dog show/trainer there who I got friendly with. Went into the small one grocery store town to buy some fruit and get gas. Came back to trailer and called my sisters and Linda as the next week I will be in the bunnies with no telephone service. Had left over pot roast for dinner.
09/08/12 I got up at 5:30 am having shower and breakfast cereal with fruit. Was on the road for the 35 miles to Kenton, OK at 6:30 pm. My dammed gps got me lost in the sticks and took me on a 40 miles goose chase into NM. The dammed thing claimed the road I was suppose to take was an unpaved dirt road which it was not? I think it is programmed to not take dirt roads hence the long detour. I bought new maps a year ago but they are not completely up to date and I have seemed to have lots of problems with it this year. I most do research and buy a new one. I finally made it to the Bill Joe Bible camp in the scenic Black Mesa area at 8:30 am being 1.5 hours late There was still loads of room and good sites to park the 5th wheel fortunately. Got my telescope set up and working. I researched the gps and found that I set several avoidances in the preferences that probably screw up it operation when the maps are not accurate. I removed all avoidances and it seemed to perform OK. The sky was dark at 9:00 pm to start doing serious viewing. It really is dark out with no visible light pollution in any direction. No wind with temperature varying from 72 to 47 F. in the early morning. The seeing was only a 6 or 7 on scale of 1 - 10. I could just barely splint the Lyra Epsilon double double star pairs with my 15” DOB and a 8mm Ethos eye piece. I stayed up until 1:30 am a bit too late for me, but the conditions were so good.
09/09/12 Finally managed to get out of bed at 11:15 am and had a fruit and cereal breakfast in the trailer. I then walked to head quarters building to register. I had prepaid saving some money for registration and had prepaid for a Okie-Tex 2012 star party T shirt which I picked up. Spent some time touring the site and headed back to the trailer for some computer time and more rest. I had another pleasant successful evening of viewing with my 15” Obsession DOB have Argo Navis and Servo Cat goto capability. I got my wireless hand controller working tonight as the only problem was a dead battery. I want to invest in a wireless interface for my Ipad2 so I can use the Sky Safari Pro App to wirelessly control my telescope. The weather again was perfect; no wind, 70 to 55 F., seeing between 7 & 8 out of 10. I made an observing list on ipad2 Sky Safari Pro and got through 95% of it including the east and west Veil nebula’s. Retired to bed around 12:45 am.
09/10/12 Struggled out of bed at 10:45 am, had breakfast, and took a short shower. Wind is sporadically blowing hard today. I have my scope covered with a white canvas cover and the drives have been released so that it can rotate with the wind and act like a wind vane. This technic is mostly used by all the Obsession DOB owners. I drove around the area a bit today including going into Boise City to fill up with diesel. It was very hot in the high 90’s. I felt very sore this evening from the two previous nights romping around the telescope in many unusual positions to all hours of the night. It was quite windy so I, decided to retire early to the trailer and listen to audio books on my iphone. As the night went on the wind almost totally subsided, so I should have stayed with my telescope.
09/11/12 I woke up late and had a hamburger for breakfast. It was so hot today 98 F. in the shade and 110 F. in the sun. I showered, then laid naked on the bed with the Fantastic blowing on me until dinner time when it began to cool off a bit. I had a sandwich and ice cream for dinner. The weather was clear with moderate wind so I decided to view through the scope until 2:00 am. The seeing varied depending on what part of the sky I was in. The seeing was 8 or 9 in the north and partial northeast. My astronomical neighbor and were able to find two difficult objects; the Saturn Nebula and the Helix nebula. I enjoyed my astronomical camper neighbors Anita and Tony Knepp from Denver area. I decided this would be my last night as the for next two was very dismal with wind and rain predicted.
09/12/12 I got up at 8:30 am and finished packing away my telescope and associated equipment. Got under way at 10:30 am and headed for Santa Fe, NM arriving around 3:00 pm Mountain time. I again stayed at Rancheros de Santa Fe Campground 12 miles north west of Santa Fe. It rained on and off the rest of the day. I spent time cleaning up the trailer and washing all the dirty dishes I had used the past 4 days. I also got my diary updated.
09/13/12 It got down to 51 F. last night so I had to turn the heater on this morning to shower and eat. Got on my way at 9:00 am on highway 25 to Albuquerque and then west through Gallop, NM and then on into Holbrook, AZ and back to San Diego time zone. I checked into KOA and setup the trailer with no water or sewer to save money. With the storage tanks a single person does not need water and sewer every night. I called Linda alerting her to my plans to come home early. At 5:30 pm I went out to the highly recommended Mesa Italiana Restaurant in Holbrook. I sat at the bar where the Green Bay Packers were on TV against the cursed Chicago Bears. I met two tourist from Vermont who were traveling to all the National Parks in the west who I really enjoyed talking to for at least 1.5 hours. I had a nice salad, garlic bread, garlic shrimp with pasta, Chianti Reserva wine, and tiramisu. The food was quite good and it was hard to believe it to be so, out her in the deep desert of Arizona. It was a pleasant evening talking with the tourist and watching the football game with the locals at the bar.
09/14/12 I had breakfast at the outdoor cafe. The pancakes, eggs, and sausage was great. Got on the road around 8:30 am and arrive Laughlin, NV about 1:30 pm. It was already over 100 F. and reached a high of 110 F today. I rested for several hours, surfed the web a bit, and watched TV until 5:15 pm. Went to my favorite place in the Riverside Casino; the Gourmet Room for happy hour cocktails. I had a great time talking to the locals. I met temporary local who was a Alaskan King Crab boat owner. He had been on one of those reality TV shows and was a crusty very comical guy. Some of the most interesting semi celebrity people frequent this beautiful cocktail lounge with it’s exquisite close up view of the Colorado River. I ordered Cioppino appetizer which was a mistake. If you can’t see the ocean don’t order fish. Oh well the wine, salad, and garlic bread was excellent. Played a couple hours Black Jack after dinner loosing a $100, offsetting my $245 win on previous me-lee through this town.
09/15/12 Got up at 7:00 am, showered, dumped the 5th wheel tanks, and then walked over to the Casino for breakfast. I watch Laughlin arrive from somewhere in his private helicopter right next to the casino restaurant. Got on my way at 8:30 am and arrive home around 3:30 pm. Spent the afternoon unloading the trailer. Watched TV at home with Linda and had a wonderful restful night in my soft bed.