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Monday, July 26, 2010

Awesome Astoria

Today was spent in Astoria, OR.  We first went down to Gearhart to a store we know of that sells Crocs.  Unfortunately, this store had a very limited (and I do mean limited) supply on hand and because of “manufacturing difficulties,” wasn’t expecting more before January!

There is a sister store in Seaside but it is no longer owned by the same person.  We decided to go there and see what they had as it is only about a 5 minute drive.  Well, they had tons of Crocs!  All different kinds, sizes, styles, etc.  No manufacturing problem here at all!  So between us, we bought 3 pairs.

Then we came back to the RV and had lunch and then put the bikes on the car and went to the Astoria port area to ride.  We rode for about 5.5 miles on their path that follows the river.  While riding, we saw 4 bulk carriers at anchor in the bay, each about a mile apart.  Within a span of about 20 minutes, three of them weighed anchor and turned up river.

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Carol got this great picture of the fishing boat piers.

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Here was a fishing boat that was coming down river and into the port.

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Also along the path, there is a trolley that runs for about 3 miles in the summer.

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After the ride, we came back to the RV and I loaded the bikes from the car back onto the RV.  Tomorrow morning, we head for home.  We have a busy few days ahead of us with the following activities:

  • Tuesday afternoon – I have to go get prizes for a golf tournament I am producing for our referees association on Saturday.
  • Tuesday night – we need to offload some items from the RV as it is going in for some major warranty work on one of the slides that may take 2 or 3 weeks.
  • Wednesday – morning/noon we are going to Kaiser hospital in Sunnyside.  Carol had her open heart surgery there 15 months ago right after they opened the cardiac care center and they are inviting all their first patients back for a reunion.  (She was #11).
  • Wednesday evening I have a football board meeting.
  • Thursday morning we have to deliver the RV at the dealer, then I am planning on playing a round of golf with my partner for Saturday to “warm up.”
  • Thursday afternoon I am helping a friend with some computer issues.  She just lost her husband to cancer last week and he used to be her IT guru.
  • Friday morning I’m playing golf with some more referees that are playing in a tournament with me as a team on Aug 6 in Yakima.
  • Friday afternoon I need to go finalize the tournament details for the next day.
  • Saturday is the tournament I am organizing.

So as you can see, we are going to be busy!  (and I didn’t even list the things Carol has on her schedule that don’t include me!)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Caching in the Coos

Today we went geocaching in Coos Bay.  Managed to find 6 of 8 caches.  One of the two we didn’t find we had to give up on because there were people in the area.  You are supposed to be stealthy so that you don’t get people wondering what you are doing and calling police or coming out after you leave and taking the cache.

Once of the caches we found was really well hidden with fake leaves attached so that it blended in with the surroundings.

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This next cache was hidden in a large tree stump.  The canister contained toy soldiers, trinkets, and other small objects. IMG_5952

Another cache was what is called a micro cache.  It was under the sign of a local new & used car dealer on a main street.  Removing it without alerting passing motorists or the used car salesmen was a small challenge.IMG_5953  Here is Carol with another small cache found in plastic tube surrounding a support wire for a telephone pole.IMG_5956

This cache was a small pill container really hidden to blend in with a power box.IMG_5957 This micro cache was in the bifurcation of a tree about 5 feet off the ground. IMG_5960

6 of 8, (really 6 of 7) is not a bad batting average.  To date, we have found 36 caches in Astoria, Lebanon, Vancouver, Seaside, Coos Bay, Coquille, and Mallard creek, just to name a few locations.  And in only 6 weeks!  Not bad.

Tomorrow we plan to go towards Astoria.  I say towards, because it is 225 miles and we expect some traffic on a Sunday, so not sure if we will make it all the way or not.  Either way, though, we plan to be home on Tuesday.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Jetsetters on the Jet Boat

Today we drove to Gold Beach to take a jet boat ride up the Rogue River.  You can take a 64 mile, 80 mile, or 104 mile trip.  We chose the middle option for $65 per person.  It took about 1hr and 45 minutes to drive from Coos Bay to Gold Beach.  We had an early lunch and we boarded our boat.  This picture is  our boat before we boarded it to sit in row 6.IMG_5818

Our Captain was a guy named John.  All captains are Coast Guard certified.

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Once we started up, we came across this bird and Captain John identified it as a Comorant.  It eats fish from the river and just waits on these pilings until it sees one and then dives for it.

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We also rode right by a group of seals lounging around in the sun.

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We saw lots of different kinds of birds including Bald Eagles, Ospreys, and this Blue Heron sitting on this log.  These Herons look really interesting and they seem like they don’t care about the boats.  They appear to have large stringy beards under their beaks.

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We also saw several Osprey and Eagle nests.  They are high up in the trees and pretty easy to spot.

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Here you can see us going upriver in the boat.  With a full 35 passengers, the top speed is about 55mph.  It can do over 65mph when empty.  It takes about a gallon of gas to go one mile!  (at least our RV with 7pmg is better!).  There are three large Chevrolet marine engines, each of 375hp.  The each drive a jet which is actually a pump that sucks up water, compresses it, and expels it in any direction.  There is no rudder or propeller.  The three jets are used for both propulsion and direction.

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It the above picture, you can also see that we had a beautiful day.  A bit cool near the coast and about 80 degrees as you moved inland.  We also came across the turtles below resting on a rock.

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We saw minks, otters and other birds, but they were too quick for Carol to get pictures.  We did many spinouts which causes spray to come up over the boat and wet the passengers.  We actually liked these because it felt so cooling in the heat.  We also rode through and over many rapids.  The boat only needs 6 inches of water and since there are no props sticking down, the boat is very nimble in the rapids.

In fact we did so many of these twists and turns and sudden reversals to spray water that we wore out the boat.  As you can see below, it looks nothing like the clean craft we started with.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shore Acres State Park

Today we went with our friends Tom and Cindi, to Shore Acres State Park just outside Charleston, OR.  We’ve been here three or four times before, twice in the winter for their Christmas lights.  If you have not been here over the holidays, it is a must see with over 300,000 Christmas lights on display.

When you first enter the gardens at the park, you come to a fountain with walkways leading up and down the garden areas.

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Below is a view down one of the pathways.  You can see the hedges that line the walkway.  These hedges at first looked like they had been trimmed too much and in a weird oblong shape.  However, later I read that they do this every few years to control growth and that this “renewal pruning” is essential for the hedge.IMG_5706

At the far end of the pathways, there is a pond you can walk around.IMG_5708 IMG_5713

After the pond, there is a side garden full of roses.  There are many different varieties of rose to view.  In the album below, I’ll put pictures of most of them.

After the gardens, we went down to the cliff-line and looked down on the surf that was crashing over the rocks.  (See Carol's blog  blog for more details on the family that built this place.)

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In the picture below, you can see the tremendous forces that shaped this land, pushing up the cliffs as the underlying plates collided over the millions of years past.

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After Shore Acres, we went to lunch with Tom and Cindi in Charleston, then to Coquille, OR, where Tom grew up.  We visited the locations of his three houses he lived in growing up in the area.  We also searched for Geocaches.  The first one we looked for, we did not expect to find as it has been reported missing for the last 3 months.  But we did find the other two.  The one Carol is holding below is a “nano-cache” and very small.

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For the next one, Tom joined us on the hunt and helped locate the micro sized cache.

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Lastly, if you made it this far reading today’s entry, I have something special for you.  It is the weirdest plant I’ve ever seen and they are growing in several areas of the Shore Acres gardens.  I’ve always wondered where these “trafficus coneui” come from, and had I not gone to the garden, I would still be wondering……..

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Actually, if you haven’t figured it out now, these cones are being used to cover mole traps in various locations in the garden.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cooling It in Coos Bay

We left Armitage County Park this morning about 10 or so for our leisurely  drive to Coos Bay.  Along Hwy 38, we had some great views of the Umpqua River.IMG_5659Hwy. 38 ends in Reedsport on the coast.  Today, it was a sunny, clear day and Reedsport really looked at its best.     

IMG_5667 Once we leftReedsport, you head south and pass along the Oregon Dunes Recreation area.  Below you can see one of the dunes.     IMG_5676  You also pass several lakes, including Tenmile Lake.IMG_5680

Eventually, you come to North Bend and the Coos Bay Bridge.IMG_5681     IMG_5687  We are staying at the Old Mill Casino and RV park.  By signing up for their Millionaires Club in the Casino, we get a 15% discount for the RV park plus a bunch of other discounts and stuff. IMG_5690 You can see our RV parked in space #92 as we await our friends, Tom and Cindi.  Hopefully, they will be put next to us.   IMG_5694This is the view out our front window.      IMG_5700

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Loving it in Lane County

We drove from home today to Armitage County Park, Lane County, Oregon.  The park is just north of Eugene, OR.  The park has full hookups including 50amp service.  A very nice park.  We arrived just before 2pm/

Once here, we had lunch and then went for a bike ride and tried to do some geocaching on the bikes.  That really does not work too well as you are always getting off to search and some of the locations are not bike friendly.

We were able to find 3 caches.  We had one more to look at across a bridge, but we didn’t find that one.  We really were not dressed for it so we didn’t look too hard.  Another cache was hidden by some poison oak.  I was not about to try to get it.

Tomorrow morning we leave for Coos Bay and the Old Mill Casino.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Touring the Academy

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Today Carol and I had the opportunity to tour the Washington State Patrol Academy along with about 70 other citizens.  The academy is located in Shelton, WA, just about 15 miles northwest of Olympia, WA.

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As you enter the academy grounds, there is a memorial in the center of the “quad” which is dedicated to all WSP officers who died while on duty.  The last one was slightly over 10 years ago.  It is a sobering tribute to those fallen while serving the citizens of this state.

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Before the tour started, we had a “briefing” from the lieutenant in charge of the academy.  As this was the first day for a new class of cadets, we were there at just the right time to see them begin their training.

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Once they complete the first 7 weeks, or “arming class”, some will be selected to continue to trooper basic training which lasts 18 more weeks.  Those that are not selected go out into the field as cadets in security roles like inspecting the ferry boats, guarding the governor, etc.  After getting some field experience, they can then apply to be included in the next trooper basic course.  Only about 3-4% of those who apply to the WSP are accepted into the academy and only 1% of the applicants make it through trooper basic and graduate as WSP troopers.  Above is pictured the standard issue patrol car which each trooper gets.  They also receive all equipment and supplies.

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Above is a picture of the firing range.  They will be here in all kinds of weather, night or day, and in all kinds of positions.  They receive over 100 hours of live fire and many more hours learning how to care for their weapons.  In addition to their firearm (they never call them guns), they will also receive a taser and pepper spray.  As a part of their training, each cadet will at some time, be pepper sprayed and tased.

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On the side of the range is a “maze” of tire tube walls to simulate a house.  They will penetrate these areas in live fire exercises with different scenarios.  The above picture shows a common criminal as he tries to escape from the tire tube room.

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This is a part of the obstacle course.  There are fences, walls, barriers, heavy brush, etc.  The instructors can create different training scenarios for the cadets to run as a part of their training.

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They have a fully equipped gymnasium for workouts and training that is available to the cadets 24 hours a day.

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They also have a water tank that is shaped mysteriously like an Olympic sized pool.  This pool is used to train in with different scenarios including water fights.  They even have a car frame that they submerge with a scuba-equipped officer inside that the cadets must rescue.

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This is a picture of the current cadet class being trained outdoors.  There are 6 troopers working with this class of 54.  They project that only 17 of them will actually make it to trooper basic training on the first try.

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When the cadets mess up (which is often in the early days of the class) they go to this “pit” where they do remedial studies to learn how not to mess up.  Here, the remedial study is push-ups. 

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Here is the classroom where academics are taught.  Each cadet has a specific place to sit with their name tag.

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This is the cadet class known as “22nd Arming.”   We could see a definite progress made in their marching from earlier in the day when we first saw them.

The motto at the academy is “We will not quit, we will not die, we will survive.”  All of this training that the cadets in arming and trooper basic go through is with that in mind.  Cover the possibilities in training and the troopers will know how to handle just about anything out on patrol.  As it costs us taxpayers about $144,000 just to train each cadet, you can see that there is a significant investment.  No wonder only 3.4% on average are selected for academy training.