October 28, 2004

Albuquerque, NM

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 6:52 pm by diandy2004

Well, Andy has been asking for “the desert” again (meaning warmth and sunshine) and we’re definitely here. Red rock, buttes, canyons, and cactus. We’ve had sunshine, but not necessarily warm weather (nights are going to the 30’s still).

Jim and Chris arrived shortly after we did.  We had them over to our RV for dinner – they are our first dinner guests!  It was great to see them and incredible that this is the third time since buying our RV that we’ve crossed paths with them. We just spent the night catching up and comparing our trips and the such.  It’s nice to meet up with friends on the road.  We were glad that they were able to detour slightly on their trip from Santa Fe to Roswell to spend one night with us here in Albuquerque.

Our First Dinner Guests

We had more good news! We talked with a Ford dealer who could finally get the recall repairs done. Ahh, nothing too imperative – just that the RV can catch on fire even when it’s not being operated.  We’ve been trying since Washington to have this done, but none of the dealers had the right parts til now.  So we decided stay another day or more so we could take the rig in for the new parts for the anti-lock braking system.

On October 27th we drove our RV to Bob Turner Country Ford and had to wait a whopping 12 minutes for them to make the recall repairs to our ABS. We spent more time trying to find a dealer who had the time or parts than it took these guys to fix the darn thing. But thanks to their speedy work we arrived at our next RV Park in Tijeras (east side of Albuquerque) by ten o’clock a.m.. We were lucky to be in such a dark area to enjoy the lunar eclipse.

Lunar Eclipse

We spent the next day playing around in the Sandia Mountains. We hiked the Embudo Trail in the morning and the Pino Trail in the afternoon. We were “taste-testing” the different areas of the Cibola Nat’l Forest. Both trails were nice with a combination of desert plants, oak trees, pinon pines, and rocky cliffs or large jumbled boulders. Both trails also went up…as in uphill, increase in elevation, up around 7,000 ft elevation. The elevation was bothering us here – rapid heart rate, tiredness, etc. Even though we’ve been at high elevations, we’ve also been along the coast for so long now I think our bodies re-adapted. We would’ve loved to have taken the Tramway to the top of the mountain and hiked down, but the Tram was closed for repairs the week we were there (of course).

Snake Sunning Himself

Overlooking Albuquerque

Hiking Embudo Trail

On the Pino Trail

** There are more pictures on our Web Albums – just click on any of these pictures and scroll to see others.

October 25, 2004

The Drive from Oregon to New Mexico

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 7:25 pm by diandy2004

You’re reading it right…we’re in New Mexico. We’ve spent the last 5 of 6 days driving 1400 miles from Oregon to get past mountain ranges and snow. Don’t get us wrong, we love playing in the white stuff, just not driving in it – especially in an RV.

Some of the highlights (g00d and bad) of our road trip included:

* Mt Shasta:  while driving south through northern California we came around a bend and saw a “mountain in the road”.  I assumed it was Mt Shasta, but we could only see the base under the clouds.  Then we realized it was “Black Butte”… after seeing all 14,162′ of Mt Shasta further down the road.

Black Butte

Black Butte

Mt Shasta

Mt Shasta

* Diane went for a run in Bakersfield after driving 305 miles.  It was necessary for me to get out after driving for that long, but running along pesticide-tainted cotton fields was not good for the lungs.  I don’t recommend it!

* After three days of towing Ele, we started to worry about her batteries.  So we purposefully detached before reaching our destination in hopes of recharging her batteries.

* Park Moabi in Needles, CA:  Getting charged a fee just for having kayaks on the roof of our car.  This was a one-night stopover arriving just before sunset with no time for fun…what a rip!

It probably would've been a pretty paddle, though...

It probably would've been a pretty paddle, though...

* Wind Farms – awesome.  This one was near Needles, CA:

Wind Farms

Wind Farms

* Gas prices finally dropped below $2 after leaving the state of California.  We’re almost back to our budgeted gas prices!

* We got to see one of the most unique home-made hippie mobiles – – a combination bus & VW van.  And, it’s name was “Spirit”!

Hippie Mobile

Hippie Mobile

* More snow in Flagstaff:

Near Flagstaff

Near Flagstaff

We also got to see signs of the bad weather in the different areas and states: snow, standing water in the desert, and flowing muddy water in the desert.

In Holbrook, AZ we took one day off from driving (the RV, that is) and played in the Petrified Forest Nat’l Park. Spent most of the day driving through the park and taking short walks to check out the stone trees and painted desert. It was quite amazing to see the colors that iron and manganese creates in the petrified wood and the clay dunes. I still love the purples and blues the most. Erosion continues to alter the landscape and bring more and more petrified logs to the surface. It’s a good thing more wood is being exposed considering a lot of the petrified wood has been stolen over the years.

* Our final highlight was to talk with Jim and Chris (Geeks On Tour) and learned they were driving from Santa Fe to Roswell.  They’ll detour to Albuquerque to visit with us.  What fun!

October 20, 2004

Ashland, OR

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 6:51 pm by diandy2004

We came to Ashland specifically to see my girlfriends since we figured we weren’t going to get down to San Francisco. They meet in Ashland every year for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Some come from Portland, some from San Fran. Surprisingly the drive is about half way for both groups. It was a wonderful weekend. We walked around the shops and saw some plays, went for a run and a bike ride, and played some games. Chicken-foot (a dominoes game) was the one game everyone could play. Considering there were 13 of us (including 2 babies) it was amazing the kitchen table could accommodate everyone.

Downtown Ashland

Downtown Ashland

Lithia Park

Lithia Park

Some of the Gang

Some of the Gang

October 18th:

We’re kinda sad right now since everyone has left and we’re still here in Ashland. We were planning on leaving this morning, but a snow storm in Lassen Volcanic NP (our next stop) is supposed to bring 16″ of snow and tomorrow winds are expected to be around 40 mph, with gusts of 70 at higher elevations. We decided to wait and let the storm pass before heading southeast over the mountain range. So, we will have to wait and see when we will leave Ashland and exactly where we are headed next…

October 19th:

Aaacck! We’re stuck on the wrong side of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges! Our plan to go southeast via CA89 to Lassen Volcanic NP has been foiled – road closures due to snow (2-4 feet of it). Plan B: head east via OR66 then 140 is no longer possible – chains are required to get through the passes. Plan C (created out of desperation since it doesn’t look like the weather is going to change for 10 days): head north then east – not an option because of 15″ of snow at Crater Lake, chains are required. Plan D: stay here in Ashland while it rains and hovers at 40 degrees – doesn’t sound like fun now that the gang is gone. Plan E: I-5 south. It’s our only option. We’re heading to Sacramento and will keep our eyes on this winter storm to see if I-80 reopens (chains required to get over the passes) or continue south to I-40. We didn’t want to retrace our steps, but we’re not always in control of our destination are we? We’ll just roll with the changes…as long as we don’t “roll” into a snowdrift somewhere! Guess we just didn’t start heading home soon enough. But the visit with friends was worth it.

October 15, 2004

Redwoods National Park, CA

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 7:18 pm by diandy2004

It was only 26 miles from Brookings to reach our next destination.  The BIG trees started on Route 197.  I was driving the RV and thought on some turns, where the trees were almost on the road, that I might lose a side mirror.  Our initial plan was to stay in a private RV park with hook-ups, but after driving through we decided to check out Jedediah State Park instead.  We lost our hook-ups, but got the big trees we were looking for.  We found the perfect campsite – nestled between 6 tall trees.

The Perfect Campsite

The Redwoods are actually protected by a combination of State Parks and National Park. Its a long skinny grouping of parks that encompasses the remaining 4% of old-growth redwood forest (of the original 2 million acres as of 1850) and runs along the coast. We stayed in Jedediah State Park which is in the most northern section. One day we traveled throughout the park driving the scenic Coastal Drive and Newton Drury Road, stopped to watch the elk cooling off in a pond near Davison Road, and hiked a trail through Lady Bird Grove.  We attempted a hike to Big Tree Wayside, but a “widowmaker” blocked our path.  A widowmaker is a fallen branch.  Considering the size of these branches, and the distance they fall, I wouldn’t question that they are lethal.

Redwood Bark can be 12" Thick

Ele vs. Redwoods

It’s rutting season for the elk so we had hoped to hear the males “bugling” and to see some territorial displays but it must’ve been too hot for them to fight over their women.

Elk Cooling Off in Pond

After putting 130 miles on the car that day-trip we realized that Jedediah offered some of the most beautiful old-growth anyhow, so the rest of the days were spent hiking and biking in the State Park. The redwoods are incredible – the can grow to 367′ tall and have bark 12″ thick. Andy measured one with a 67′ circumference. Our necks ached after days of looking straight up. But it was The Quiet in the forest that was so powerful. At times when you stopped hiking and just stood still the only sounds you could hear would be the ringing in your ears or an occasional “tweep” from a small bird. And if you met other hikers, there was a tendency to whisper your greetings. It was unnatural to hear voices or sounds of man when standing amongst trees ranging 200 – 1500 years old.

Andy Inside "Goose Pen"

A “goose pen” is a hallowed out tree (either from fire or disease). Farmers used to pen in their livestock in these trees. The fascinating thing, though, is that these trees are still alive.

We took a bike ride on Howland Hills Road.  It’s a packed gravel surface.  We rode about 12 miles on the road, and an extra 2 miles on Bald Hills Trail.  This was the perfect way to tour Howland Hills Road.  We think we would’ve missed too much if we drove it.

A Triple-Trunked Tree

Diane Inside a Downed Tree

Unfortunately we didn’t get much sleep our first two nights in Redwoods. The first night our LP alarm kept going off – we never figured out why but the only way we got it to stop was to shut off the propane at the valve. Knock on wood, it hasn’t happened again since. The second night we thought we had gotten used to the sounds of thumb-sized redwood cones falling on the roof of our RV (imagine rocks pounding on a fiberglass/plastic roof), but when branches started to fall we started to have visions of what damages could occur. Apparently the wind picked up during the night and knocked some dead branches loose. No damages occurred, but it was a fitful sleep.  So much for our “perfect campsite”.

Thankfully, these were the largest

Tiny Redwood Cones

We drove to Crescent City to run errands and tour Battery Point Lighthouse. Tours are available only at low tide because you have to walk across rocks to reach the island. This was the first lighthouse we’ve seen furnished. The couple touring it are living in it for 2 months as volunteer lightkeepers. That’s cool.

Battery Point Lighthouse

Another day we took a hike along Boy Scout Trail to Fern Falls.  The falls were small, but the hike was gorgeous.  Big trees, with the sunbeams breaking through, tons of mushrooms of all varieties, and the sounds of birds all added to the beauty of the trail.

Hiking Boy Scout Trail

What a beautiful place – Redwoods.

October 11, 2004

Oregon Coast – Brookings

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 6:50 pm by diandy2004

We drove for distance again.  Another 100 mile day to reach Brookings. On our drive we stopped in Bandon, OR for lunch, some Christmas shopping and we toured the Coquille River Lighthouse.

Coquille River Lighthouse

In Brookings we stayed at Harris Beach State Park, a great little park up on the bluffs overlooking the ocean. We hiked down the steep path during the day checking out the rocks at low tide and later at high tide to see how the landscape changes.

Harris Beach State Park

Goat Island, off the coast, is a bird refuge and supposedly for tufted puffins as well. But with the setting sun in our eyes, we couldn’t see any detail.

Goat Island

We also liked Arch Rock and watching the sun play through the opening.

Arch Rock

Andy Enjoys the Beach

That night we went out to the bluffs and watched stars. Weather was comfortable to walk around at night and without a moon the stars were extra bright in the sky.

October 10, 2004

Oregon Coast – Coos Bay

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 6:49 pm by diandy2004

We finally made some distance today – 100 miles to Coos Bay. Along the way we had plans to stop at several viewpoints and the carnivorous plant bog, but the fog was so thick we were happy just to be able to see the cars in front of us. We stopped at one overlook that did allow us to look down and watch “spouting horns”.  This action was due to holes in the rocks that would spout sea water when waves would come rushing ashore. You could really sense the power of the ocean standing here and seeing it funnel down narrow rock channels.

Spouting Horn

The first day in Coos Bay was foggy and cloudy. The second day was worse. It poured rain most of the day. Yesterday afternoon we needed a little break from the RV so we walked some shops and saw a matinee…Shark Tales.  Two of the shops were interesting – the Myrtlewood Factory and another shop that sold Kelp lamps – very interesting.

Our plans were to leave this morning but when we woke up and saw sunshine and blue skies, we thought we’d stay and check out the beaches here. The waves were some of the largest we’ve seen. We drove several miles along the coast stopping at different areas to watch the waves. Here’s what we saw…

Andy dodges a big one

Big Waves

Sea Palms Grow on Rocks

A Wave Explosion

The Observation Deck Takes a Hit

One of the viewpoints near Cape Arago was overlooking Simpson Reef. The rocks were covered with a plethora of marine mammals – harbor seals, california sea lions, stellar sea lions, and elephant seals. At first glance we thought the brown was the sand on the beach. A second look through binoculars showed us seals and seal lions galore.

Seals and Sea Lions

We took a break from wave watching and walked through Shore Acres Botanical Gardens. A beautiful little garden managed by Oregon State Parks system.

Shore Acres Botanical Gardens

Flower Macros

Dew Covered Rose

We also detoured to see John Topits Lake.  Sometimes we do things because we need to meet basic needs – for example, cell phone service.  We both had some calls to make to plan the next part of our trip and we could get cell service at this pretty park.

We’re heading south tomorrow. Should be at Redwoods NP Monday and on to Ashland, OR by Friday to meet up with Rene, Stacy, Tatiana, and the gang.

October 7, 2004

Oregon Coast – Newport

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 6:48 pm by diandy2004

Our trip along the coast have encompassed a lot of short stays and short drives.  We’re not making much distance, but we feel that there is so much to see and do.  Our shortest driving day has been 9 miles – so you can see why we’re not making much time moving south again.  We’re starting to feel some pressure – and at the same time some confusion.  Staying one or two nights at different places over and over creates instability and everything starts to blend.

We spent two nights at South Beach State Park in Newport. After our *long* drive (30 miles today), we walked to South Jetty to look at the seals, surf scoters, ducks, and boats.

A Fisherman Returns Home

We then drove to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. The BLM manages the lighthouse and it was surprising to find that they converted an old quarry into a handicapped-accessible low-tidal zone. It wasn’t low tide when we visited, but we did see some lounging seals.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

We Made It!

Lighthouse from the Beach

The next day we went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. The aquarium had Leafy Seadragons and a Weedy Seadragon – the most beautiful and intricate sea horses I’ve ever seen, especially the Leafy. The tanks filled with pacific fish, sea plumes, sea stars, etc all made us miss scuba diving very much. An outdoor aviary for seabirds finally allowed me to see, and up close, the elusive Tufted Puffins.

Leafy Seadragon

Finally! A Tufted Puffin

Andy Inside Passages of the Deep

An Interesting Pose

20-Legged Sunflower Star

Sea Lions

October 5, 2004

Oregon Coast – Pacific City & Lincoln City

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 5:08 pm by diandy2004

On the way to Pacific City (our next destination), we stopped at Tillamook Cheese Factory for a tour.  And some yummy purchases, of course.  Then we continued south only to stop again – at the Tillamook Air Museum.   The museum is housed in the largest wooden freespan building in the country.  Most of the planes are still “fly-able”.

Tillamook Air Museum

Tillamook Air Museum

We were lucky enough that after reading about the Tuskagee Airmen at the museum, we got to watch a movie about them later that night on the History Channel. That was great since we had just gotten to see their planes up close.

It was sunny along our inland drive, but as soon as we turned to head back to the coast we drove back into the fog. Pacific City was a neat little town. Our first “adventure” was to stop at the Pelican Brew Pub. Great view of a haystack…errr, well if it wasn’t for the fog.

Pelican Brew Pub

Here are some more pictures of the town:

Pacific City

Tsunami Signs

Ok, so this one wasn’t just in Pacific City – we are getting used to seeing these “tsunami warning” signs all along the coast.

One day we took a drive up the Three Capes Scenic Loop to the northern end at Cape Mears. We took a tour of the Cape Mears Lighthouse:

Cape Mears Lighthouse

We then drove back south stopping at different scenic points and the different capes. We did one 5 mile round-trip hike at Cape Lookout. The fog was so thick we weren’t sure if it would be worth it, but it was. Although we enjoy watching the fog move as if it has a life of it’s own and constantly change the look of the landscape, we’ll be honest – we’re starting to miss the sun.

A Foggy Hike

We did get our sand-sleds back out at Pacific City. There is a large, vertical sand dune at Cape Kiwanda that was perfect. The sand was a little soft, but the slope helped accommodate for that. Diane went faster than she preferred, and Andy couldn’t go fast enough! When Diane tried to slow herself down she’d put her feet down and sand flew into her face and mouth. We’re hoping our grey tanks can handle all the grit that was flushed into it after our showers last night.

We stopped in Lincoln City since it was foggy (so foggy we had trouble reading road signs) and we thought we could hit the Factory Shops there. Also, the town puts out “Float Fairies”, hand-made glass balls, on the beach as a seek-and-find game. If you find one, it’s yours. Sounded like fun since there aren’t many shells to look for on these beaches. Unfortunately they don’t put them out on the beaches til October 16th – we’re a little too early. At the Factory Shops, we stopped in at a camera shop. My Olympus has been driving me nuts because the media card has repeatedly become damaged somehow and I couldn’t re-format the card. It happened again, so I was debating between a new card or a new digital camera. I’m not one to make impulse decisions, but I was limited on time. We went to the library so I could research price comparisons so at least I knew the price was reasonable. We went with a Nikon Coolpix 4800. Maybe you’ll see a difference in my photos? Nah, the learning curve is starting over again.

We stayed at Devil’s Lake State Park, so before we pulled out the next day I walked around the campground and took some pictures to practice:

Our Palm-sized Pumpkin for Halloween

A Yurt in the Campground

I think I'm going to like the Macro settings...

A view of the coast

October 2, 2004

Oregon Coast – Canon Beach & Nehalam

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 6:46 pm by diandy2004

We did end up spending one more night in Portland due to our converter dying. It wasn’t the fan, but the converter itself and it was a good thing we took the time to make the appointment since it was dead. Kaput. No wonder our batteries weren’t recharging to full capacity.

We left Portland’s Camping World around 2pm and headed for our first stop on the Oregon coast – Canon Beach.  We got there in time to still walk a mile to the beach from our RV park and check out the Haystack – this one is the 3rd largest moonolith in the world.  It was low tide so we were able to walk around the rocks.  We saw tons of starfish, mussels, barnacles, gooseneck barnacles (which I think look like turtle toes), and lots of little fish.  Puffins visit the area, but in July and August (so I still haven’t seen any!).

Canon Beach Haystack

Reflection of Haystack

Our second day we went to Ecola State Park.  During our walk we got to see some elk and a bird that looked like a puffin – the orange-billed surf scoter.  I wouldn’t have been able to identify them without someone lending me their spotting scope.  But, hey, I *almost* saw a puffin.  We walked around town and ate lunch out before heading back into Ecola to another area of the park – Indian Beach area.  Andy got to explore this park more than I did.  I had some phone calls to catch up on, but you couldn’t beat the view I had from ‘my office’.  I did do some more critter-searching during the low tide.  I’m just amazed at how the starfish are just layered upon each other.

Starfish Eating Mussel

Starfish Eating Mussel

Sea Urchin

Sea Urchin

Large Rock Outcroppings

Our next stop was only 15 miles to the south – Nehalam.  We stayed at Nehalam Bay State Park.  Our first excursion after making camp was to drive to Oswald West State Park for a little hiking.  We walked a short way to the Short Sands Beach (named because the beach is non-existent at high tide).  Although this beach felt private because it was in a cove surrounded by cliffs, there were a lot of surfers to watch.  From there we walked to Cape Falcon about another 1 3/4 miles.  What views!  The rugged coast with the powerful waves down below us was such a sight.

Andy on the edge of bluff

View from Oswald

We considered paddling Nehalam Bay, but it was bigger and more exposed (to winds) than we had expected.  The park ranger recommended paddling Nehalam River instead and using the tides to go both ways, but there’s whitewater in one area and our kayaks aren’t made for whitewater.  One local kayak rental place in Wheeler gave us some information, too.  We do tend to find that, besides the rangers, the local bike/kayak shops are an excellent resource for us.  We try to buy something from their shop to show our appreciation.  We ended up putting in at a boat dock in downtown Nehalam and paddled with the tide.  Unfortunately, our planning wasn’t perfect.  Although we scheduled our paddle based on tides, we had the wind in our face on the way back.  But we got to see seals, an otter, and cows….now, that explained the occasional smell we encountered.

Paddling with Cows

The beach near our campground was so pretty with the dunes and sea oats. And the sunsets were outstanding.

Beach at Nehalam Bay

Sunset at Nehalam Bay