Monthly Archives: August 2014

Who’ll Stop the Rain?

Saturday began with a tasty breakfast. Donna made an omelette with leftover asparagus, mushrooms and onions that she served with prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe.  It was a great start to the day.

Omelette with prosciutto wrapped cantaloupe

Omelette with prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe

After breakfast, we were undecided on the day’s activities. We talked about hiking. I wanted to get my mountain bike out. We looked online at mines, ghost towns and other attractions in the area, but they were all a little too far away.

Donna hadn’t been to downtown Cottage Grove, so we decided to ride the scooter to town and have lunch there. We could hike and bike in the afternoon. The forecast called for cooler weather. Clouds moved in. There was a possibility of rain late in the day, but the forecast showed 0% chance of rain until 5pm or so.

We headed out on the scooter. I had on my usual uniform of the day – shorts and a T-shirt. Donna was more sensible and wore a jacket. After seeing my photo yesterday, Donna wanted to check out the Dorena covered bridge, so that was our first stop.

Scootering through the Dorena covered bridge

Scootering through the Dorena covered bridge

About 10 miles down the road, a few rain drops hit my windshield. It was very brief. It was overcast, but remained dry until we were a couple of miles from town. Then a light, steady rain began to fall.

I parked the scooter on Main Street. We stood under an awning over a storefront and looked up and down the street. As we walked toward a restaurant, the rain started coming down harder. So much for the 0% chance of precipitation.

We had lunch at Jack Sprats Cafe. We both had a cup of shiitake miso soup. Donna had a grilled cheese sandwich while I went for a meatball marinara on garlic pita. We lingered over lunch, but the rain didn’t let up. We finally resigned ourselves to a wet ride home.

As we walked back to the scooter, the rain stopped! Perfect, we thought. We donned our helmets and took off. Within two blocks of travel, the rain started coming down. By the time we hit Row River Road, it was raining hard. I knew the next 30 minutes would not be a fun ride.

I was completely soaked after a couple of miles. The rain was pelting my hands and running down my nose behind my faceshield, which I had to have cracked open to keep it from fogging. Visibility was poor. I avoided riding over any painted markings on the street. You don’t notice it so much in a car, but on a two-wheeled conveyance, you realize how slippery the paint is when it’s wet.

The wind chill over my wet body had me shivering. I clenched my teeth to keep them from chattering. I told myself I can endure almost anything for 30 minutes. It was one of the most miserable rides I’ve been on. The only other ride that compares was a trip Donna and I made on our Moto Guzzis to a rally in Datil, New Mexico. We hit a rain squall on that ride. It poured down and the temperature quickly dropped. On that ride we had gloves, warm jackets and boots though.

Once we were back home, I quickly changed into warm, dry clothing. It rained off and on all afternoon. I downloaded and watched the Moto GP qualifying from Silverstone. Then I took a 30-minute nap. The cold ride had me whipped. I was a couch potato for the rest of the day.

Today, we have nice weather. No rain, just a few clouds in the sky and the temperature should reach the upper 70s. I need to work on a couple of projects. I also want to watch the Moto GP race. I need to clean up the scooter. Maybe I’ll still have enough time and energy to get out on my bike.

Riverside Relaxation

We got off to a slow start yesterday. Donna and I sat at our laptops in the morning. I worked on my post, which took longer than usual due to the number of photos. Before we knew it, it was noon.

Donna was planning to go out for a bike ride, but we were hungry, so she made a salad for lunch. I unloaded her bike from the trailer and found the rear tire was flat. I pulled the tube from the tire and inspected the tire to see what had poked through. I couldn’t find anything in the tire, but I saw a small cut in the casing. The tube held air. I pumped it up and dunked it in pail of water to see if I could find a tell-tale stream of air bubbles. I didn’t find a leak. Maybe the Presta vale leaked?

I replaced the tube anyway. When I pumped the tire up, I looked it over closely again. The small cut opened up. The tube was showing through. I took the tire off. The cut had enlarged, the tire was shot. Donna blames it on all the broken glass she encountered on the bike routes in Portland. Every day she rode, she ended up riding through glass.

I pulled my Orbea road bike down – I had it suspended from the trailer roof beam – and removed the rear wheel. I took the tire from my bike and mounted it on Donna’s wheel. I could have just exchanged the wheels, but I run different gear ratios than Donna. With that done, she was ready to roll.

While Donna headed out on the bike path, I rode the scooter to Cottage Grove. I found a bike shop online in the downtown area. Main Street constitutes downtown and includes five or six blocks of businesses. Some of the scenes in the movie Animal House were filmed in downtown Cottage Grove. With a population of about 10,000 people, the town supports only one bicycle shop. I wanted to replace Donna’s tire with another Continental. The bike shop didn’t have any higher end tires. I’ll leave my tire on Donna’s bike until we can get to a bigger bike shop. I intended to replace my tires when we get to San Diego.

On the way back, I stopped and took a photo of a covered bridge at Dorena.  It’s a good thing we didn’t have to cross that bridge in our motorhome. I don’t think it has enough vertical clearance and the weight limit is only three tons. The 18-mile ride to town on Row River Road is scenic, with a view of Dorena Lake. There wasn’t a good place for me to stop and take a photo of the lake. Donna’s bike route took her along the shoreline, but she had left her camera at home.

Dorena covered bridge built in 1949

Dorena covered bridge built in 1949

When I returned, Donna was still out riding. I walked some of the trails on the property and had a look around. Downstream, I found a swimming hole. The water is quite cool. I wouldn’t swim in it unless the day was very hot.

Swimming hole on the west side of the property

Swimming hole on the west side of the property

I walked past our coach and followed another trail upstream. I found a bench with a nice view of the river.

Sitting area upstream

Sitting area upstream

By the time Donna returned, the temperature was around 80 degrees. I put off riding my mountain bike. We deployed the awning and sat outside reading in the shade. I was feeling lazy and sitting and reading suited me fine. I’m still reading Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Some of the philosophical arguments are a bit of a struggle to follow. It felt like Saturday to me, but then everyday is Saturday for me.

I fired up the Weber Q and grilled bacon-wrapped filet mignons for dinner.

Bacon wrapped filets on the grill

Bacon wrapped filets on the grill

Donna served the filets smothered in sauteed mushrooms and onions with a baked potato and steamed asparagus.

Filet smothered in mushrooms and onions

Filet smothered in mushrooms and onions

We sat out on the deck behind the trailer and dined by the river side.

Red wine with dinner by the river

Red wine with dinner by the river

Donna has a project or two in mind for today. Later she’ll go out for a hike. I think I’ll explore upriver on my mountain bike.

Unexpected Ferry Crossing

Donna returned from New York on schedule Tuesday night. She told me all about her trip over a glass of wine. We turned in fairly early.

On Wednesday morning, we finished packing up and left the Portland Fairview RV Park at 10:45am. Our first stop was two miles away at the WalMart. We needed to restock the refrigerator and I bought a few other supplies. While we were stopped there, we walked over to Taco Del Mar for lunch.

Our destination for the day was near McMinnville, Oregon. I’d heard about dry camping in the large parking lot at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. The Google Earth image looked like it had easy access and a huge parking area.

I punched the address into Nally (our GPS). Two routes came up. One route was only 50 miles, but it would take one hour and 17 minutes. The other route was 73 miles and it would take one hour and 26 minutes. Hmmm…23 miles longer but only 9 additional minutes. I figured that the shorter route must have some slow roads, probably routed through Portland. One shortcoming of the GPS is the inability to preview the route step by step. I can zoom out and see the whole route, but then I lose detail.

I usually take the fastest route, but 76 minutes to cover 50 miles sounded like a lot of stop-and-go driving. I chose the longer route with a higher average speed. Nearly an hour later, I realized it was a bad choice. My preference settings allow tolls. Apparently the GPS sees a ferry as a toll. Since I allowed tolls, the route would take us to Wheatland Road where there’s a ferry across the Willamette River. Once I realized this, I diverted over to River Road. I didn’t know anything about the Wheatland Ferry. If it couldn’t accommodate our size, I might not be able to turn around. I also didn’t know the cost. Later, I found information online. Vehicles over 42 feet long pay six dollars to cross the river.

My new route added a loop to get over the Willamette River on a highway bridge. The trip turned into 100 miles and over two hours of driving. I probably burned $10 worth of fuel to avoid a $6 ferry ride.

We arrived at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. The front parking lots were full of cars, but the large rear lot was nearly empty. There were a couple of RVs parked back there. We found a level area and parked. Donna and I walked to the museum. There are several large, very modern buildings on the property. One is the main museum with aircraft on display, including the Spruce Goose. There’s another building housing more aircraft, a separate movie theater, and a large water park building.

Main museum building

Main museum building

Museum extension on east side of the lot

Museum extension on east side of the lot

Movie theater

Movie theater

Water park with Boeing 747 on the roof

Water park with Boeing 747 on the roof

It was very hot, over 90 degrees. The asphalt parking lot seemed to amplify the heat. Donna took her laptop to the museum building and sat in the restaurant area. She enjoyed some ice cream while she worked on her monthly organizing tips newsletter.

I’ve been in the Spruce Goose before, when it was displayed in Long Beach, California. I didn’t want to pay $25 to see it again. I went for a walk outside and looked at aircraft on display. The 747 on the roof of the water park is interesting. It has slides built into the exit doors. You enter the 747 and slide down into the enclosed pool below!

A relic of the Cold War - MIG 29 Fulcrum

A relic of the Cold War – Soviet MiG 29 Fulcrum

Delta Dart from the 1950s next to the MIG

Delta Dart from the 1950s next to the MiG

As I was walking back to the coach, I talked to a worker from the museum. I asked about the overnight parking policy. He told me they welcome overnight visitors to the museum as long as we’re fully self-contained and pack out whatever we brought in. He said to limit the stay to two nights maximum. With permission secured, I moved the coach to a shaded corner of the lot.

Our place in the shade

Our place in the shade – generator slide is open to release heat

The museum closed at 5pm and the parking lots emptied. We were the only RV left and had the place to ourselves. A private party was being held at the east building, but it was far enough away that we didn’t hear them.

Thursday we hit the road by 9am. We were going to Junction City, where we had an appointment at Amazing Creations. Scott Adams and Bobby Vodden were going to remove the rear TV and make the space into a cabinet for us.

Old bedroom TV

Old bedroom TV

I tried to remove the TV, but the wood surrounding the opening had been added after the TV was installed. The TV was larger than the opening. I didn’t want to break the trim, so I left it to the pros. Scott removed the wood on the right side and pulled the TV out. Then they built new trim, added a shelf and put doors over the opening.

New cabinet doors

New cabinet doors

The cabinet houses our printer, which was taking space in the closet before. We can use the shelf to store printing and office supplies.

Printer cabinet with shelf

Printer cabinet with shelf

They did a great job. The work was first class. It took a few hours to get the job done. This was mainly due to the time it took to stain the wood. They waited until we got there to match the wood stain. They stained the wood before their lunch break, so it was drying while they were out for lunch. Donna and I had lunch in the coach. We were out of there by 3pm.

We got back on the road and headed south to Cottage Grove, Oregon. Our destination was our present location on the Row (rhymes with wow) River. Our new friends, Scott and Marcia, who we met at the Alpine Coach Association rally, invited us to stay on their vacation property on the river outside of Cottage Grove.

The river runs along the north side of their property. They have a trailer and a few outbuildings on the property. One of the buildings is a workshop with a fresh water spigot, plus 20-, 30- and 50-amp electrical outlets and a sewer hook-up. We’re parked between the workshop and the river. The river is about 30 feet from our doorstep.

Row River view from our doorstep

Row River view from our doorstep

We’re far enough from town to have very little traffic on Row River Road. It’s very quiet and peaceful here, a welcome change from the time spent in RV parks over the last few weeks. We don’t have cell phone coverage. But Scott and Marcia’s generosity included the password to their wifi network in their trailer.

Last evening, Donna and I enjoyed cocktail hour outdoors, soaking in the sounds of the river. Scott told us we could stay as long we want. We want to stay forever, but we’ll have to start moving south next Tuesday.

Happy Hour in the shade, looking at the river

Happy hour in the shade, looking at the river

There’s a paved bike trail running along Row River Road. The path is on the south border of Scott and Marcia’s property. Today, Donna wants to go biking. I’ll do the same and explore the area.

Day Four Without Donna

I kept myself busy on Monday, day four without Donna. After I posted to the blog, I found a Costco store about five or six miles from here.  I wanted to get coffee K-cups and more bottled water. On an impulse, I bought a big bag of mixed rice crackers with nuts for snacking.

Scooter loaded up and ready to roll

Scooter loaded up and ready to roll

After I dropped the stuff off at the coach, I rode to Taco Del Mar for lunch. Then I went to WalMart to stock up on paper towels. I’m stocking up on these supplies in preparation for the month ahead. We have a few planned stops, but expect to be off the beaten path for much of the time. This will mean dry camping or boondocking at times without any idea of services available in the area. We’ll be in Tehachapi, California in a couple of weeks for Donna’s next bike race.

I spent most of the afternoon defrosting the refrigerator. After packing perishables in a cooler, I sat and read for awhile. Once the ice on the refrigerator cooling fins started to melt, I was able to pull loose chunks away. It took a little over two hours to defrost. Then I reloaded the refrigerator. The timing was good as supplies are currently low. We’ll re-supply on Wednesday.

Today, I plan to make another Costco run for more coffee and water. The Kirkland Signature Pacific Bold is a good dark roast coffee that Donna and I like. Costco sells it in 100-cup boxes that bring the cost down to about 35 cents per cup. We’ll have enough on board to get us to San Diego on September 24th.

Then I need to add air to the trailer tires and check the lug nuts for tightness. I’ll organize the trailer and load the scooter. Donna will return tonight. We will hit the road again tomorrow morning by 11am at the latest.

We have an appointment on Thursday with the guys at Amazing Creations in Junction City. They will remove our bedroom TV (which we don’t use) and add a shelf and cabinet doors in the space it occupies. We’ll use the cabinet to house a printer and provide additional storage. When we leave here tomorrow, we’ll dry camp somewhere near Junction City.

After we have the work done, we’re going off the grid for the long holiday weekend. We’ve been invited to stay at a friend’s vacation property near Cottage Grove, Oregon on the Row (rhymes with wow) River.

This isn’t the usual “courtesy park in my driveway” offer. His property is right on the river and has – wait for it – full RV hook ups! That’s right!  Water, sewer and 50-amp electrical service. There’s good biking in the area and, of course, recreation on the river. We know we won’t have cell phone service. We may have limited internet access. I won’t divulge a detailed description of his property location in consideration of our host’s privacy. The offer is most generous and we’ll be away from crowded campgrounds over the Labor Day weekend.

The forecast today calls for a high of 93 degrees, a few degrees warmer than yesterday. I have much to do, so I’d better get started.


Day Three Without Donna

Sunday was day three on my own while Donna is away. My plans for the day would have bored Donna. I spent the morning watching the coverage of the Formula 1 race in Spa, Belgium. The race was full of surprises – I won’t spoil it in case a reader has it recorded for viewing later.

Before I turned on the race, my neighbor was preparing to pull out of the park. I could see he was checking some wiring looms in a rear compartment. I stepped outside to see if I could help. He said the bedroom slide wouldn’t retract. It was a Power Gear system, which operates the slide via an electric motor. The connection on the circuit board was loose. He wiggled the connector while his wife tried operating the slide. It moved about an inch, then stopped again. He tried to unplug the wiring harness and the connector pulled out of the circuit board! The connector should have been soldered in place as it’s essentially part of the board. I suggested disconnecting the front slide harness from its circuit board, which was next to the board for the bedroom slide. Then we plugged the wiring harness for the rear slide into that board. His wife hit the switch and the slide retracted. He’ll have to replace the bedroom slide circuit board.

While I watched TV, I followed the progress of my friend, Allen Hutchinson, with my laptop. He was competing in the Ironman Triathlon in Louisville, Kentucky. I don’t know anything about the course, but the temperature was reported to be 90 degrees with high humidity. It had to be a tough grind.

I didn’t leave the coach until noon. It was warm out. Our temperature reached the low 80s. I rode the scooter to the store and picked up bottled water and beer.

At 1pm, I tuned in the Charger game. They played against the San Francisco 49ers at the new stadium in Santa Clara, California. Yesterday’s earthquake in the bay area was centered near Napa, north of San Francisco. Santa Clara is south of San Francisco, about 80 miles from Napa and didn’t suffer any damage.

The Chargers played their starters on the first three offensive series. They looked sharp and moved the ball well. Other than getting stopped on a fourth and one, they controlled San Francisco and finished the third possession with a touchdown. The defensive starters forced two turnovers, although the officials blew the call on the first one and San Francisco kept the ball. They tackled well and dominated San Francisco’s first team offense.

The second and third string back-ups didn’t fare as well. At the end, the score was 21-7, San Francisco. The pre-season games are all about getting some action for the starting team and then using the remainder of the game to evaluate the rest of the players. I’m encouraged by what I saw and I’m looking forward to a good season. The roster will be cut down from 90 players to 53 before the first regular season game.

After the game, I went out for a walk through the RV park. I needed to get some exercise. The park is large enough to take a 20-minute walk without retracing your steps.

After I returned, I checked my laptop and saw Allen had finished the race. He was out on the course for 12 and a half hours. He’s a 4-time Ironman finisher now.

Today, the forecast calls for a heat wave. We should hit 90 degrees over the next few days. I have no plans.

I forgot to include this photo in my last post – this is my new ScanGauge D mounted on the dash of our Alpine Coach.

ScanGauge D set to read out Oil Pressure, Coolant Temperature, Boost, Transmission Fluid Temperature

ScanGauge D set to read out oil pressure, coolant temperature, boost, transmission fluid temperature


Getting Wired

I’ve been keeping myself busy while Donna is away. Donna left Thursday night on a trip to New York. She’s celebrating her dad’s 80th birthday with family near Albany, then going to New York City for a couple of business commitments. She’ll fly back to Portland Tuesday evening.

I had a slow start to the day on Friday. My priority for the day was repairing the cable signal and over-the-air antenna signal on our television. I have no cable signal and very weak reception from the antenna. I haven’t worried about it, since we usually use the Dish satellite for programs or we watch movies and TV series recorded on a hard drive.

The San Diego Chargers pre-season football game on Sunday will be broadcast locally on Fox. The only way I can receive the broadcast is over the air or on the RV park’s cable.

I studied the wiring diagram in the Alpine Coach Owner’s Manual. The original TV had been replaced. The Dish receiver and satellite system weren’t original equipment either. Looking at the original diagram gave me a few clues though.

I removed the TV from the front cabinet. This was a tricky operation. I really wished for an extra set of hands, but I had to get it done. I made note of how everything was connected. When the TV was replaced, the installer ran the coax cable from the antenna directly to the TV. The Wineguard antenna on the roof of our coach is supposed to run through a signal booster before it connects to the TV. The signal booster connection is in the wall of the cabinet above the driver’s seat. To rewire this, I needed a short section of coax cable.

I found a Radio Shack store online, about five miles from here. I bought a six-foot coax cable with connectors on each end. I used this cable to connect from the antenna booster to the junction box that allows me to select various input sources for the TV. I connected the TV cable to the signal out connector of the junction box. This was simple enough, but time-consuming as I worked in a cramped overhead compartment.

With everything back in place, I turned on the TV and did a channel search. The TV picked up a dozen channels. Some of them were digital high-definition broadcasts. This was looking good. But I had no sound. I pulled the screws from the frame securing the TV to the cabinet and pulled it out again. I saw the audio connections had inadvertently been pulled loose. I re-connected the wires while balancing the TV on my shoulder because the wires aren’t long enough for me to set the TV down and connect everything.

Now I had a good picture and sound. But I couldn’t find the Fox broadcast. I had ABC, NBC, CBS and other programing. There were several stations that I should have been picking up, but I couldn’t lock on to them. I was only receiving the strongest signals.

I decided to focus on the cable connection. The external cable connector hadn’t been connected to the junction box. I re-purposed the six-foot coax I bought and connected the external cable input to the proper connector on the box. Now I had a cable connection, but I could only find a few cable channels. It was the same problem as the antenna. Once again, Fox was not one of the channels I could receive. I was tired and frustrated. I gave it a break and spent the evening watching the NFL Network on the Dish satellite.

I was thinking about the day ahead before I got out of bed Saturday morning. The TV problem became suddenly clear. It was so simple. What are the common elements between the TV and cable signal or the TV and the antenna signal? The junction box and the coax cable from the box to the TV! A bad coax cable or bad connector would only pass the strongest signal from the box to the TV.

My first order of business was washing the coach. I wanted to do that Saturday morning, before I had direct sun on the  coach. I got to work on the coach around 9am. I started by breaking out the ladder and washing the roof. I don’t like heights and climbing on the roof of the coach is no fun. Actually, it’s getting back down that is a little scary. I spent the next three hours spiffing up the coach, including washing all of the windows. While I was washing, the FedEx truck pulled up and delivered my ScanGauge D from Amazon.

After dining on leftover chicken stir fry and rice for lunch, I wanted to install the ScanGauge. To put it where I wanted it on the dash, I had to run the wiring from the J1708 diagnostic connector on the passenger side of the dash, behind the console and up on the driver’s side. The ScanGauge intercepts signals from the Engine Control Module (ECM) through the diagnostic port. Diesel truck platforms (including diesel RVs) use either a J1708 or J1939 connector and protocol. This serves the same function as an OBD-II diagnostic link on cars built since the 1990s. The ScanGauge will display information sent via digital signal to the ECM from various powertrain sensors. I can program it to display information from four sources at  a time. I can also interrogate the ECM for faults in the system.

I couldn’t get the cable from the passenger side to the driver’s side. It kept getting hung up behind the console. I took a break from it and rode to the Radio Shack store. I bought two three-foot sections of coax cable to rewire the TV. On the way back, I saw a Harbor Freight store. I stopped and bought a package of thin, flexible fiberglass rods designed for snaking cable through tight places. The rods are 12″ long and have threaded ends to join them together to make the length required.

When I returned, I ran four sections of rod through the back of the console, then used the rod to pull the cable through. Job done!

Then I pulled the TV again. With it balanced on my right shoulder, I removed the old coax cable and replaced it with the six-foot section I bought the day before. I made sure the audio cable was still connected before I reinstalled the TV. I used the two three-foot coax cables to connect the antenna booster and the external cable connection to the junction box. Whew!

I searched for channels over the air and on cable. It worked! I have Fox on channel 12!

I completed the installation of the ScanGauge on the dash. While I was relaxing with a cold one at the picnic table, a couple walking their dog stopped by. We had met briefly before at an RV park in Junction City, Colorado! I remembered his name was Mike (hard one for me to forget). They were on their way back from a trip to Alaska in their coach. We talked about our travels for a few minutes and then they continued their walk. Small world!

By then it was time to order a pizza and call it a day. I had pizza delivered from Tom’s Pizza and Sports Bar. Excellent pizza, I recommend them.

Today, I plan to kick back and watch the Formula 1 race, and then hopefully I can watch the Chargers game. I say hopefully due to the earthquake in the San Francisco Bay area this morning. The game is scheduled to be played in San Francisco at 1pm PDT.



Crooked River Cliffs

We took our time packing and breaking camp Wednesday. We had to check out of the Deschutes County Expo RV Park by noon. At 11:40am, Donna and I walked over to Dave and Stilla Hobden’s site to say our goodbyes. They were nearly ready to roll as well. We’ll see them again down the road. For sure, we’ll meet up in Quartzsite next January, but our paths may cross sooner than that. That’s the beauty of the nomadic life. We meet people and establish new friendships. We stay in contact and we know we’ll eventually find each other again.

We rolled north on US97 to Terrebonne. I’d contacted an Escapees member there who offered to let us boondock overnight on his property. But looking at his place on Google Earth, I was concerned about getting our rig turned around to get out of there. He suggested another boondocking site. It was the rest area at Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint. It was all of 13 miles up the road from the RV park. We wanted a place to stay for one night before we returned to the Fairview RV Park in Portland.

We’d heard about this place from our friends, Mark and Emily Fagan (Roadslesstraveled). We pulled in and found half a dozen long parking spaces for trucks and trailers. We claimed a space and Donna made turkey wraps for lunch.

We had our lunch in the park at a picnic table. As we entered the park lawn, I saw an unusual sign. It warned of a 300-foot cliff ahead and noted that many dogs have died here.

Many dogs have died here?

Many dogs have died here?

This scenic overlook is perched high on basalt cliffs carved by the Crooked River. Peter Skene Ogden was a Hudson Bay explorer and fur trapper. He explored much of the Snake River country and led the first trapping party into central Oregon in 1825. In 1826, he discovered Mount Shasta. Ogden, Utah, is named after  him.

The steep cliffs along the Crooked River impeded travel and development of central Oregon. The Crooked river Railroad Bridge was completed in 1911, connecting Bend Oregon with the Columbia River Gorge. It’s a 460-foot span, 320 feet above the river.

Railroad bridge, 320 feet above the river

Railroad bridge, 320 feet above the river

We walked along a path at the edge of the cliff. The path has a rock wall about three feet high to prevent people from accidentally falling over the edge. We wondered how dogs could fall into the chasm. We walked past the railroad bridge and saw where the safety wall ended. The wall stopped, but the path became a dirt trail along the edge of the cliff. Yikes! The photos don’t do justice to the scale of the cliff. A sheer vertical drop of over 300 feet is frightening to look down.

In 1926, a steel arch bridge designed by Conde McCullough was built making travel by car to central Oregon from the north possible. It was called the Crooked River High Bridge and remained in service on old US97 until the Rex T. Barber Veterans Memorial Bridge was completed in 2000.

The old bridge was still serviceable, but it couldn’t handle the growing traffic volume. US97 was widened and crossed the river on the new bridge. The old bridge is now a pedestrian viewing area.


Old Crooked River High Bridge

The new bridge is a concrete arch spanning 410 feet and is 300 feet above the river. It was the first bridge in the USA to use a cast-in-place segmental construction method.

New bridge, viewed from the old bridge

New bridge, viewed from the old bridge

After we returned to our coach, Donna started working at her laptop. A big tractor-trailer rig had pulled in beside us. The operator of the rig had his window curtains closed and left the engine running – presumably to run his air conditioner. With his closed curtains, it looked like he planned to be there for awhile. The big diesel engine was very noisy.

On our walk, I saw a closed road with a locked gate across it at the end of the parking lot. I walked back over to check it out. I figured I could back our trailer near the gate with our coach on the right side of the roadway. We would have a nice spot away from the truckers for the night. We set up there and it was nice and quiet.

Later in the evening, another tractor-trailer rig parked in front of us. The driver was friendly and talkative. He told us all about his dog who had come running over to greet us. He said he planned to pull out at 5am and wouldn’t block us in. This is a popular overnight rest stop for truckers.

At dusk, we saw turkey vultures swooping down into the line of trees in the park. They would soar high over head, then dive down to roost in the trees. There had to be at least two dozen turkey vultures roosting in the park. I’ve never seen that many in one place before.

We had a peaceful night and hit the road at 8:45am. We stayed on US97 north past Madras, then we turned onto highway 197. It was scenic country. The road winds up and down ridges. The road surface had sections with frost heaves. The new Koni shocks performed great. I can only describe the ride with an overused cliche – firm, yet compliant. We still could feel the bumps, but they were quickly damped and the coach was easily controlled. We had virtually no side-to-side sway, less road vibration and a much quieter ride.

Highway 197 goes down a series of switchbacks to the Deshutes River at the town of Maupin. From there it climbs steeply again and eventually descends into the Columbia Gorge at The Dalles. After a brief stop to stretch our legs, we continued west on I-84 to Portland. The drive along the Columbia River is beautiful.

After a bit of a hassle at the front desk at Fairview RV Park, we were checked into site 100. They seem to have issues with their reservation system. They juggle people around to find suitable spaces. We were eventually assigned a long pull-through site that allowed me to keep the trailer hitched up.

Donna spent the afternoon preparing for her trip to New York. She’s going to visit family and celebrate her father’s 80th birthday with a surprise birthday party that she and her sisters have planned. She also has business appointments in the city. A taxi picked her up at 8:30pm and took her to the airport. She’ll return on Tuesday evening and we’ll pull out of here the following morning.

Today, I plan to wash the scooter. The forecast calls for temperatures to reach the mid-80s with little chance of rain. At some point, I’ll wash the coach and trailer before we leave here.


Lava Butte

We joined Dave and Stilla Hobden for a little sight seeing on Tuesday morning. We drove in their truck through Bend, south to the Newberry Lava Lands Visitor Center near Sun River. The visitor center is part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, which is operated by the National Forest Service.

Dave had an interagency pass that got us into the monument free. The main attraction here is Lava Butte, a cinder/spatter cone of the Newberry Volcano. Lava Butte rises 500 feet above the surrounding area. The cone erupted 7,000 years ago and created a lava field covering 6,100 acres of land.

The visitor center sits on forested land at the edge of the lava field. There are a number of interpretive hiking trails from the visitor center. There’s also a narrow, steep, paved road to the top of Lava Butte. Cars are limited to a 30-minute stay in the parking area on top of the butte and a pass is required to drive up. No vehicles over 22 feet long are allowed.

Edge of the lava field behind visitor center

Edge of the lava field behind visitor center

Lava Butte viewed from visitor center

Lava Butte viewed from visitor center

We drove to the top of the butte at our appointed time, 11:45am. We hiked the trail around the cinder cone on top. The top of the butte is also home to a fire lookout station. You can see smoke in the distance in the photos from wildfires.

Lava field to the west from the top of the butte

Lava field to the west from the top of the butte

Northwest side of the crater

Northwest side of the crater

Donna and Stilla on the trail around the crater

Donna and Stilla on the trail around the crater

I took a photo of one of the signs on the trail that gives more information. Click on it to enlarge if you’d like to read the sign.


By the time we hiked around the crater and drove back down to the visitor center, it was past noon and we were hungry. We headed back to Bend and stopped for lunch at the Deschutes Brewery. The food was great. Donna had a burger and sweet potato fries. I had a roast beef dip. The beef comes from a local ranch and they make the breads and rolls fresh onsite daily. The Black Butte Porter was also excellent!

After lunch, we made another stop at Trader Joe’s. I got an e-mail from the insurance agency on my smart phone. I had to get back home so I could print out documents for signatures and return them to Miller Insurance. My policy would lapse at midnight and I had to make sure the new policy was in place.

Last night, I caught up on our laundry in the park’s laundromat. Donna had done a few loads in our Splendide washer/dryer, but after a week of dry camping, we had a lot of laundry to catch up on.

We were both tired last night. We watched a couple of TV shows, one was a Jimi Hendrix documentary that I hadn’t seen since the 70s. It disappeared for decades and was released again. I don’t know what the story behind that is. We turned in early.

This morning, I need to pack the trailer, fill the fresh water tank and dump and flush the holding tanks. We’ll pull out of here around noon. Our next stop is an overnight dry camp on property owned by a Escapee member north of Terrebonne. It’s a short drive from here. Tomorrow, we’ll drive north to The Dalles and on to Portland.

Donna is flying to New York tomorrow night. I’ll be a bachelor at the Fairview RV Park for five days.

Turn, Turn, Turn

Donna took the wheel of Big Al (our Alpine Coach) for the first time ever yesterday. Our coach is 40 feet long, eight and a half feet wide and 12 and a half feet high. I rode in the passenger seat and coached her through some turns and maneuvers. The first few turns had me on the edge of my seat and my voice raised a few decibels.

Donna maneuvering around a tree

Donna maneuvering around a tree – Dave Hobden photo

When you sit in front of the front axle and have a wheelbase that’s 278 inches long, turning requires a different technique than you use in a car. You have to drive deep into the corner before initiating the turn. Once you reach the turn-in point, you have to crank the steering wheel quickly. The mistake most rookie motorhome drivers make is turning in too soon and cutting the corner with the rear wheels.

The Deschutes County Fairground and Expo parking lot was a great place to practice. Some of the roads around the parking area are narrow and made Donna really work to get around the corner cleanly. The nice thing was the lack of curbs. If she misjudged and cut the corner, the rear wheel rolled over the grass harmlessly. Donna caught on quickly. We drove to a large parking lot where she practiced backing up and making three-point turns. Then she did a few U-turns to get a feel for how much real estate is needed to make such a maneuver.

Donna rolling down the road - Dave Hobden photo

Donna rolling down the road – Dave Hobden photo

She practiced for a little over half an hour, then parked the coach next to our cargo trailer. Rolling over the grass next to the trailer, she encountered a large dip. The new Koni shocks make a huge difference. The dip didn’t present any difficulty at all. Donna said driving the coach was fun.

I hooked up the trailer and we rolled to the Deshutes County RV Park. It was a short ride from the parking lot to the RV park on 19th street. The RV park is paved and the sites have very level concrete pads. We were set up in no time. I dumped and rinsed the holding tanks and fired up the air conditioners. We have a 50-amp hook-up, so I can run both air conditioners simultaneously.

We had a late lunch, then I rode the scooter to Fred Meyer to pick up a few groceries and bottled water. Dave and Stilla Hobden also moved to the RV park. They stopped by and told us we were invited to have dinner with them at Marlena and John Schierholtz’s site. Marlena and John are also Alpine Coach Association members that we met in Fairview and again here in Redmond.

Dave grilled Nurnberger bratwurst. These pork sausages are a traditional German entree and they are excellent! I cut my brats to size and had them on a German bakery bun with spicy German mustard. Marlena served green salad and Stilla brought a cucumber- tomato salad. Donna brought veggies and spinach dip for an appetizer and an almond torte for dessert.

Nurnberger Bratwurst on the grill

Nurnberger bratwurst on the grill

The temperature was comfortable in the evening. The day had been hot once again, the temperature was near 90 degrees in the afternoon.

Dave, Stilla, Donna, Marlena and John at the dinner table

Dave, Stilla, Donna, Marlena and John at the dinner table

We sat and talked well into the evening. Donna and I returned to our coach a little past 9pm.  We’re working through the Breaking Bad series again and we watched an episode last night.

Sunset from the RV park last night

Sunset from the RV park last night

We’ll stay here for another night before we start heading back to Portland.

Driving Big Al

Saturday was the last day of the “show.” Donna went to Bend with Willi Egg and shopped all day. I noticed my right rear jack was retracting again the night before and called Paul Maddox with HWH to let him know. He came back to our coach and replaced the solenoid. This time he installed a factory-new part rather than a re-manufactured solenoid. He told me he’s only had a few of the re-manufactured units fail, but since I had a problem, he felt better installing a new one.

I hung out with Dave Hobden for awhile, then went to look at more coaches. There was a display of pre-owned, high-end coaches for sale. It was fun to look at the premium level coaches.

Before the show closed, I went to the vendor area to see if I could score any deals before they packed up. I wanted to buy a Scan Gauge D, but couldn’t swing a deal that would beat Amazon Prime. But, I found another great deal.

I went to the Miller RV Insurance booth and got a quote. My current policy with Progressive expires this week on Wednesday. Cheryl Howarth from Miller found a policy for me that’s comparable to the coverage I have. The coach and scooter policies she quoted saved me more than $900 per year! Sign me up! Miller RV Insurance can provide policies in all 50 states. If you’re interested, contact Cheryl at

At 5pm, we had a potluck dinner for the Alpine group at the sites of Tom and Nancy Polk and Vic and Willi Egg. Donna made a chicken taco salad. The buffet table was filled with scrumptious dishes, including a plum cobbler that Lynda Campbell made with plums from their backyard.

Alpine group potluck dinner

Alpine group potluck dinner

Later, we sat outside our coach and visited with Dave and Stilla Hodben and Dave and Lynda Campbell. Donna and I didn’t turn in until midnight. This was unusually late for us.

Coaches started pulling out of here early yesterday. Our power was shut down by 9am. Donna went for a bike ride on the highway between Redmond and Prineville. Our fresh water tank was getting low, so I showered at the public showers. When I finished my shower, I heard my phone ring. It was Donna. She got a flat tire on her rear wheel out on the road.

I rode out on the scooter. After a bit of searching, I found her location and repaired the flat. She had ridden through glass when we were in Portland. A small shard worked its way through the tire. On the way back, I stopped at a bike shop in Redmond and picked up a new inner tube and two CO2 cartridges to replace what I used.

The temperature was in the 80s. I ran the generator from 3pm to 6pm to power the air conditioning units. I watched the Moto GP race I had recorded on the DVR. Then I sat outside in the shade of the awning and read another chapter of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I’ve read this book before. This time, I’m reading a chapter at a time and really trying to understand what Robert Pirsig is saying.

Last evening, Dave and Stilla joined us for dinner. Donna prepared prosciutto-wrapped shrimp skewers with nectarine slices, marinated in a honey-soy sauce. I grilled them and she served them over a bed of brown rice and grilled zucchini. Delicious!

Prosciutto wrapped shrimp

Prosciutto-wrapped shrimp

Today we’ll move over to the fairgrounds RV park. We’ll have full hook-ups, so we can dump the holding tanks, refill the fresh water and run the air conditioners without burning fuel in the generator.

Before we do that, Donna will practice driving the coach in the fairground parking lots. This is an excellent opportunity for her to learn how to drive this beast. She can practice making turns without fear of traffic or curbs and won’t have to worry about damaging Big Al (our Alpine coach).