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Saturday, December 31, 2011

When Omni-Directional Isn’t

Today we got up late and were lazy.  Then we went on a small excursion into Corning.  First we went to a quilt store so Carol could stock up on some supplies.  (I’m sure she will post the details for those interested.)  After that we went to a car wash to clean our poor Honda which was really filthy after two days of trailing the RV through the rain and getting covered with road grime.

Then we went to the local Radio shack in search of an omni-directional DTV antenna (more on that later).  They had no clue (Why am I not surprised?). 

Then Carol went shopping at the Olive Pit which specializes in Olives. (I’m sure she will write that too).

After a quick lunch, we decided to go to Chico, about 40 minutes away and see if the Best Buy there had an omni-directional DTV antenna.  The guy there knew what I was looking for and had one that was amplified and sounded like a great fit.

We went to another quilt store in Chico for more supplies and then came back to the RV.  By this time it was 4pm, so we went for a 25 minute walk around the park to get some exercise.

Upon returning to the RV, I connected up my new antenna only to find that it is definitely not omni-directional.  Rats, I was really hoping it would work.  So we will need to take it back.

If you are looking for DTV local channel information, be sure to check out the TV Fool at TV  It has a great locator system to determine your local channels.

An interesting aside… the temperature at home in Vancouver, WA was 39.  It was 62 here in Corning and 73 in Pismo Beach where we are headed.  Also sunrise is 21 minutes earlier in Pismo compared to Vancouver, and sunset is 28 minutes later.  By mid-summer on the Solstice, the numbers will be over an hour for the sunrise and sunset in favor of Vancouver!

Tomorrow is Raider football day, so hopefully they win and Denver loses and they get into the playoffs.  They probably won’t last long if they make it, but it would make for a good year considering all their injuries.

More details on local channels

This is a special post at the request of one of my readers, Glenda Laine, who wants more details on the local channel options mentioned in the previous blog post.  That is the only topic for this post, so if you aren’t interested, feel free to skip this one.

OK, so you are interested….this only applies to Direct TV DVR service and not the Direct TV TiVo units nor DISH service.  If you do not have a Direct TV DVR, this won’t help you at all.

We actually have a number of Direct TV DVR/TiVo units on our account. There are basically three types of Direct TV DVR, not counting the old TIVO units that Direct TV used to use.

First is the HR20-700.  This unit has the digital TV channel (DTV) capability built in.  If you have this unit, the local DTV broadcast channels are available in the setup menus.  You win.  We have one of these at home and it works great!

Second is the HR22-100.  This unit does not have DTV built in.  There is also an HR21-100 which I think is very similar, but perhaps less capacity.  For this unit to have DTV capabilities, you need to add an external device called the AM21 Off Air Tuner.  This is available from Direct TV (on phone or website) and costs $50.  You might find one elsewhere (Craigslist or EBay for example). 

To use the AM21, you remove the power cord from the DVR and plug it into the AM21.  Then there is a cord supplied to connect power from the AM21 to the DVR.  Also there is a USB cord that you connect between the AM21 and DVR.  This carries the signal to the DVR.  You also need to connect an over-the-air antenna to the AM21 so that it can get the local channel DTV signal.

Once these connections are made, you can then use the menu to setup the local channels by entering the zip code.  (If you move from point to point, be sure to use the reset option first to remove the settings from your old location).  Then it is as if the local DTV channels are part of your satellite package.  You can record, watch, view the guide, save shows, etc.  All seems to work fine.

For RVs, you might want to get an Omni directional digital TV antenna to replace the directional batwing.  That way you don’t need to reposition the antenna as you change channels.  I am going to look into this and will post details if I find out what will work.

There is a new Direct TV DVR out that can record 5 channels at once.  This unit is the HMC (Home Media Center) DVR.  I don’t know much about it, so I have no idea what it does for local DTV broadcasts. 

I hope the above information clears up any questions.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Going Loco over Local

This morning we left right at 9am with no problems.  It had been raining fairly heavy until about 10 minutes before I needed to go outside to disconnect the RV.  So it was nice staying dry!

The trip today was 271 miles and included the Siskiyou mountains and the high pass on I-5 that is usually cause for concern this time of year.  In the past, I’ve always tried to time the mountain crossing to be early afternoon.  That way the ice that may have accumulated on the road overnight has melted and if it has been snowing, the temperature is usually high enough to have just slush.  But this trip, there was no snow in sight.


Above is a picture near Hilt, CA which is just south of the summit.  As you can see, no snow in sight.

If you have traveled into California, you will recall the Agricultural inspection stations a few miles inside the border.  Normally, these are no big problem.  But today we had 3 oranges that were from Chile so we had to surrender them.

We arrived at Rolling Hills Casino RV park at 3pm, about when I figured we would.  We had periods of rain during the drive, just enough to make a mess of the car.

The RV Park here gets excellent satellite TV as there are no trees.  However, even though we get our local stations via satellite at home, that only works when you are 200 miles or so from the major metropolitan area (in this case, Portland).  Once you exceed that, the spot beamed local stations are not available.  And you can’t get the local stations from this are on satellite either as your receiver is set to your home area.  So unless you want to change that while on the road (a hassle and you lose some other things), you can’t record your major network shows on your Direct TV DVR.

But, wait, there’s more………

I have an add on device that will attach to my DVR and will pick up the local digital TV signal and treat it as if it is a part of the satellite programming.  You get the guide, the ability to record, save shows, etc.  I wondered what this device knew of the local channels.

I noticed that when you configure it, you must give it your zip code.  That tells me it doesn’t know where it is until you tell it.  So might it work on the road?  I installed it about 6 weeks ago before we went to Cape Disappointment so I could try it there.  But there are no local stations in that area since it is so small.  This trip would be the first chance to try it.

Well, it works!  I gave it the zip code for the park here and it figured out the nearest digital TV signal service area and configured itself to receive those channels.  But configuring and actually receiving them are two different things.  At first, it got a blank screen.  But once I turned the antenna to the right direction, the signal became clear!

Now Sunday I can watch my Raider game which is being broadcast on a local network station in Portland, so it would not be on the NFL package for me on satellite.  Digital TV is the only way I will get to see it.  Now you know where I will be Sunday!  Here watching my Raiders try to get into the playoffs.

Carol also discovered some quilting shows on the digital channels so she can make use of this capability too.  (Just not when the Raiders are playing!).

We plan to stay here until Monday or maybe Tuesday, then go to Patterson until Thursday and go from there to Pismo Beach.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

On the road again-----finally!

Well, we made it to Seven Feathers Casino RV Park today.  After getting delayed by our water main problem yesterday (see previous blog post), we didn’t get a clean start this morning either.

When I was ready to back the RV out, I wanted to put the back slide out except it would not go out.  Likewise the main slide would not activate either.   Skipping all the gory details, I thought at first it might be a fuse.  Could not find any documentation in the manuals on the location of fuses, so tried to call Fleetwood.  Except it was noon there and they all were at lunch till 1pm (10am here).  So I just checked every fuse I could find and of course, all of them were just fine.  I did eventually find a wire that appeared loose, so I tightened it onto the connector and that was the problem.

So, I backed the RV out to the street so I could hook up the car to be towed and noticed that the steps were not retracting.  Did some troubleshooting and eventually found that the cotter pin used to hold the motor actuator to the step had broken and the plug on the shaft was hanging out.  The cotter pin was about 3 sizes too small, so I put in one that actually fit the hole, lubricated everything, and now it worked just fine.

So we left home at 10:10am.  The 221 mile drive to Seven Feathers was pretty uneventful.  No traffic at all and for the first 80% of the trip there was little rain.  It did start raining for the last part of the trip, mostly showers though.  Also some side winds, but nothing we couldn’t handle.

During the last part of the trip, we listened to Carol’s IPod broadcast through the RV speakers.  She had a good sermon by Art Azurdia from Trinity Church in Portland.

We arrived about 3:00 and there were  six other RV’s checking in.  So we had to wait our turn (about 15 minutes) before being led to our site.  Got everything setup here and later we will be going out to dinner at the Casino.  (Rib eye special for $8.99 – mmmmmm).

Tomorrow we will head to Corning, CA and another casino RV Park at Rolling Hills Casino.  It will probably take 6 hours or so as it is 269 miles.  The weather forecast does not include snow over the mountain passes, so that is good news.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

When the main makes puddles, send for the witch!

Well, if you have been reading Carol’s blog, you know we have been in a holding pattern regarding our upcoming trip.  Let me briefly tell you how we got to where we are at…..

On the night before Christmas

I sat comfy in my chair

Watching my football Raiders

win – an occasion so rare.


When from out on the porch

the doorbell did ring

I sprung to my feet

to check on this thing.


T’was a friendly neighbor

so shy and so meek

Dear friend, said he as he pointed outside

your driveway has become a creek!


With haste I went out

to take a quick peak

and lo and behold,

our water main sprung a leak.


I called my Santa plumber

and quickly he came

confirming our worst fears

it would take 3 grand to tame!


We hung our heads low

and retreated in fright

twas not a “Merry Christmas”

at all that night.


There really wasn’t much more we could do.  We were losing about 30% of the pressure down the gutter.  So I only turned it on when we really needed it.  Meanwhile, I quickly hooked up our Bounder and got it set up in lifeboat mode.  We could use its plumbing as a replacement until we could get the leak fixed.

But no one is going to be able to fix it on Christmas because the no one sells the needed parts on that day (or the next, since Christmas was on a Sunday).  But the plumber promised to get right on it Wednesday morning as soon as he finished up another job on Tuesday.

Our water main runs under about 35 feet of concrete in our driveway and side drive then under another 35 feet of concrete in the garage.  Digging up the concrete was not really an option as the leak may not be anywhere near where the water was coming up.  You could easily dig up half the concrete to find the actual leak.  Total replacement of the water main was actually easier and cheaper.  There is a machine (called a Ditch Witch – see title above) that can bore holes for a great distance – more on this later.

On Monday, he calls and says he will not be coming on Wednesday………but will come one day early – Tuesday.  (bet you thought that wasn’t going to be a happy ending!).  And he did.

Mike and his faithful sidekick Fernando (reminds me of the Lone Ranger and Tonto – always out to do good!) arrived just before 10am and began by digging out the water meter by the sidewalk.

At 1pm another guy arrives driving a truck and flatbed trailer that has on it the Ditch Witch. 

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This “tractor” drove into position and using lengths of a special shaft, started boring a hole in the ground.  The shaft lengths are about 5 feet long and every 5 feet, the operator stops and lays another section of shaft in a tray and the machine automatically adds it to the boring shaft and continues the process.

The most interesting part is that the boring head can be steered to go up, down, right, left.  It can handle up to 200 feet of these sections and the driver uses a joystick to steer it.

There is a remote sensing device that acts as a target.  The operator can place this target along the path he wants to bore the shaft.  He can also set the target depth and slope.

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There is actually a readout display showing the location of the head with the depth and angle.  This information is wirelessly transferred back to the operator.

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He looks at his control panel and with his right hand, uses the joystick to steer the head in the direction he wants to go.

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Above you can see the readout (top of the panel left) and the visual display (top of the panel right).

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Above is the joystick used for steering the head.  The actual sections for boring are very strong yet bendable so they allow the head to have a real good range of motion.

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This picture shows the water meter (top center) and you can see the shaft coming into the ground from the right.

What is really neat about this system is that once the shaft arrives at the desired location, the operator can cause it to surface right where the pipe comes out.  Our operator was about 2 inches to the right when it surfaced under the house – well within the needed area.

Then they attached the new water main flex line to the head and pull the pipe backwards through the hole just bored!  It took about 40 minutes to bore the 70 feet and about 10 to pull the pipe back.  Truly a great way to install a replacement main. 

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Above you can see the finished product – the new main comes up through the sill plate and ties into the distribution manifold.

The “Ditch Witch” system (tractor and electronic target) costs $150,000 so not everyone can have one just in case it is needed.  But this is really the way to go!  The final bill was $3,129 which sounds like a lot – but tearing up $8,000 worth of concrete was not going to be an option!.

So now we plan to leave Thursday, a day later than planned.  But this could easily have been much worse and more time consuming.  We look at it as having an extra day to pack for the trip!

Stay tuned for trip updates, probably on Thursday.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

One of those days

Normally I don’t post unless we are on the road somewhere.  But seeing this cartoon, I just couldn’t resist sharing it with my blog followers!





And lastly, this item I got from a friend.  As the skies become more and more crowded with planes and travelers over the holidays, you might want to help keep an eye out the window…..



Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunny Skies, Time Flies

Ever since Monday we have had mostly clear skies with occasional clouds and only one period of rain during the very early morning. And no wind to speak of.

I played some golf on Friday at the local course here.  Did nine holes and shot 4 over which was really good.  The course was in remarkably good shape given all the rain of the previous week.  Guess that sandy soil really worked.

Went to the Ilwaco lighted boat parade last night.  There were only 5 boats in it and they left at 6pm, went right out into the bay and apparently never came back!

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Not sure why I couldn’t get the camera to clearly focus, but the pictures give you some idea of the boats.  Interestingly enough, the reflections in the water are in perfect focus.  Go figure!

Tomorrow we leave for home (3.5 hours or so away).  It will be cold tonight again but clear and little wind.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A walk by the Waterfront

Today dawned bright and clear and cold…..a chilly 30 degrees at about 8am.  It was supposed to get to 29 last night and I don’t doubt that it did since there are no clouds around to hold in the warmth. 

After breakfast we went to the Ilwaco library to access the internet and check emails etc.  Then about noon we went down to the port of Ilwaco for a walk along their waterfront.

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The Port of Ilwaco waterfront

The shops along the waterfront consist of art galleries, book and gift stores, and of course a variety of restaurants.  The entire area is maybe four-tenths of a mile long from end to end.  Many of the shops were closed for the season and many of the eateries were only open on the weekend.

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At one of the mooring slots, there is this weird looking barge pictured above.  It almost looks like a small ferry boat with a ramp at one end.  Maybe it carries special equipment of some kind.  Carol noticed it coming into port a few days ago and today we saw where it was moored.

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The Ilwaco Marina area for small boats

There are many small boats in the marina area, most are pleasure craft with a few charter boats thrown in.  Someone really goes to a lot of effort to keep up the docks, decking and streets in the marina area as they look great.  At the far west entrance to the port area, they have this special Christmas Tree.

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This tree is made up of a large stack of crab traps.  Then garlands and lights are streamed down from the top with various buoys used for ornaments. 

Walking around the area there are stacks and stacks of crab traps on pallets.  If you watch Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel, these traps are about 20 percent the size of the ones on the program.  I tried to lift one though and I would say they must weigh close to 200 pounds.  You wouldn’t think a crab trap would need to be that heavy.  Guess some of those crabs caught are strong!

Saturday night they have a lighted boat parade in the marina, and we are planning to go down and check it out.

Sunset at the Beach

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Today we went for a walk along the boardwalk in Long Beach.  The boardwalk is a .4 mile walk each way and is a raised wooden decking that runs through the sand dunes about 100 yards in from the beach.  It is a pleasant walk, but not a very long one.

Since the day dawned clear and calm, we did do that walk first (you never know when the weather here will change!).  Then we went to Hungry Harbor, our favorite lunch place in town.  The nice thing about it is that the food is good and the Wi-Fi is free and works really well.  So we were able to get caught up on internet items.

Once we got back, I installed some new tire pressure sensors on our toad.  The batteries in them only last about 6-7 years, so they were due to be replaced.  I have some on the RV that need replacing too, but won’t do them until I am home and can keep a better eye on them to make sure they don’t lose pressure when first installed.  RV tires are a real challenge for small air compressors and with the larger tires on our new RV, the pressure is really beyond what my portable compressor can handle.

As you can see above, we walked out to watch the sunset.  It was really pretty.  Today is the first time we had a chance to check it out and the weather cooperated!

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Once the sun went totally down, we came back to the RV.   It is going to get cold tonight with the forecasted low of 29.  Tomorrow’s low is 31 then we will warm up into the high 30s at night for the rest of our visit.

I took all these pictures with my cell phone camera and it did a real good job!

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Say goodnight, Dave!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sun, Wind, Rain

On Saturday, we had some “milder” weather.  Yes, it was still raining off and on, and yes, it was still windy, but more of a breeze than a zephyr!  We drove into town and went to the Ilwaco Library to see about using their internet.  Last time we visited the library it was in a small, cramped, temporary location as the building was being remodeled.

Well, the new and improved library is open and it is a real asset to the community.  They really made it a nice facility.  They allow you to use their Wi-Fi free with your own computer or you can reserve one of theirs for an hour at a time.  They even provide plugs so you can connect to AC power.

So, we stayed there an hour or so.  Friday evening I used my phone to get updates on the Camas semi-final football game (they lost).  And Saturday night I did the same for Skyview’s semi-final (they won!)

During the early morning hours, the wind really picked up and we had the most wind and rain we had seen to date.

Then Sunday afternoon I watched my Raiders beat Chicago and stay in first place in their division.  It wasn’t a pretty victory, but good teams have to learn to win ugly.  That seems to be the norm for the Raiders and the uglier the better, I guess.

Today,it is sunny and  we drove back to the library even though it is closed.  You can sit in the parking lot and still get the Wi-Fi signal which worked great.  Then after some shopping errands,it was back to the RV for some tasks. 

The main task was to install an add-on device for one of our Direct TV DVR’s that will allow it to pick up on-air signals in any location.  Got that done and can’t wait to try it when we get somewhere that has that type of signal.

We went for a walk afterwards.  We had originally planned to go along the beach.  But as you can see, an obstacle blocked our path.

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Last year this boat was about 20 feet inland.  This year, there have been some real storms and the boat was freed by the waves and moved down to the beach and in position to block the access.  According to the camp host, this happened on Thanksgiving Day.

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As you can see, we had good weather today.  This is a view up the beach toward North Head Lighthouse.

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Here you can see that the water is really up high and the tide is in.  So even if the boat wasn’t blocking the way, there would be no place to walk and stay dry!

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I managed to catch some of the local wildlife in a picture.  Here is the rarely seen homo photographus female, now on the not-so-dangerous species list.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

We had planned to move to Astoria today because this park (Cape Disappointment) was going to be full over the weekend.  However with all the wind and rain we had, Carol thought maybe someone would cancel.  Sure enough, site 7 opened up and for the full length of our stay. (Till Dec 5).  So we decided to move to that site yesterday and just stay here.

The weather forecast for today was for very high winds.  We did have them through the night and until about noon or so.  It would have been hard to drive the RV across the Astoria bridge with a 45 mph crosswind, so I was just as glad to stay.  Even if it means little or no cell and internet from the RV.

Tomorrow I will put my cell booster antenna on the roof and see if it makes any difference.  We can get emails, just not very fast.  Phone calls are really iffy too.  So maybe the external antenna will help some.

We are also planning on driving to Seaside so Carol can go to a craft fair.  We will just make a day of it.  Hopefully the weather will be somewhat cooperative.

I watched some football games today and, as usual, teams I root for lost.  I was all for the Lions and they were clobbered.  Likewise rooted for the 49ers but their offensive line could not protect the QB and their defensive line could not put any pressure on the QB.  That’s a sure recipe for a loss and sure enough, that’s what happened.  Oh well, Camas plays in the 3A Washington State semi finals tomorrow night and Skyview plays in the 4A on Saturday.  My friend John Bardin is the back judge in that game so I will try to track it on the phone as best I can.

And Sunday the Raiders play the Bears.  That may be a closer game than many expect and the Raiders may have their hands full.  (hope not).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Weather…..or not

Last night the weather forecast lived up to its billing.  It was really windy!  According to the WeatherBug app, the top wind gust was 68mph sometime during the night.  Fortunately, again, we were fairly well protected by the low trees and didn’t really feel it much.

This morning dawned rainy but not windy.  I went down to the jetty area where there is good cell signal to get my email and read the online newspaper. While there, I took the picture below

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As you can see, the waves breaking onto the beach are fairly high and there is a lot of large logs tossed up onto the beach from all the storms over the years.

Right now it is neither rainy nor windy, so Carol is going to go to the jetty and get her email and read blogs.  It is the one place in the park where we get good 3G cell signal and can linkup to our laptops and get on the net.

Later we will probably go for a walk if the rain holds off.  We may get a chance to go to the beach and see the waves too.  If so, I will try for more pictures.  I can actually see a patch of blue sky, so that augers well.

Tomorrow the wind forecast is for back up in the 50s.  Since we have to cross the 3.5 mile long Astoria bridge, that should be interesting!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Windward Ho!

Yes, the wind has returned!  We went into town for lunch today to one of our favorite spots here in Long Beach, Hungry Harbor.  The present owners took it over 3 years ago and have run it as a family operation.  Today they were in the process of putting up their Christmas decorations including what looks like it will be a large Dickens Village.  We will have to visit there again next week to see the final product.  We also take our laptops there and use their Wi-Fi network.

On the way back, we stopped at a quilting store so Carol could check them out.  While she was in the store, the wind and rain really came on strong.  When she walked out of the store, I think she was really surprised by the storm.

Now the wind has come up even more.  According to our “WeatherBug” app on our phones, the strongest gust so far has been 54mph.  The low trees are still protecting us somewhat though as the RV is not rocking.  I will take the satellite down again tonight though so that it doesn’t rattle all night.

Hopefully, the weather will abate tomorrow and we can do some touring type activities.

That was the night that wasn’t

Last night the winds were supposed to be gusting up to 80 miles an hour.  Well, maybe they did and maybe they didn’t.  If it did, we sure didn’t feel it.  During the night you could hear it blowing through the high trees, but the low ones by us must have protected us from the majority of it.  Usually in winds over 40mph, we can feel the RV rock some and the slide toppers flap a bit.  But that didn’t happen, so I guess all is well.  There is no wind this morning though.

On the other hand there were some very heavy and lengthy showers during the night.  That really makes a noise on the RV roof so you really know when it happens.  This morning though, just periods of gentle rain showers.  Much more milder.

Internet here is very poor over a very weak cell signal, so no pictures until we get better signal.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Wet, Windy & Wild

Saturday my football season ended.  I had a 3rd round quarter final game up in Centralia to referee and that one ended my season for this year.  I worked 8 semi pro games in Spring & Summer and about 35 high school, middle school and youth league games this fall with 13 of them being varsity contests and 3 playoff games.  Not a bad season, if you excuse the one JV game where I was tripped and fell.  3 years ago I did a season with 75 games but at age 63, those days are behind me.

This morning we left home for Cape Disappointment, our favorite destination.  The forecast was for rain and wind, but while there were periods of rain, the wind wasn’t a factor.  Best part, both for loading and hooking up at home and for setting up here at the park, it wasn’t raining.  I was even able to give the car a good wash as it really needed it from all the road grime.

However, soon after we arrived the wind picked up.  The ranger that checked Carol in said it would be 40mph or so with gusts to 80.  We haven’t really seen anything that strong yet, though it is supposed to intensify during the night.

Our site is somewhat protected by some nearby trees so hopefully we will be sheltered from the worst of it.  But you can really hear it howling outside and there have been some heavy showers.

I watched New England decimate Kansas City on Monday Night Football.  This helps my Raiders and they now have a 2 game lead over KC and San Diego.  After watching, I put the Satellite dish down in case we really do get the 80mph gusts.

I am able to get some very limited internet using my cell phone and range expander.  It is weak and extremely slow, but for email and simple browsing, it works OK.

Will update more tomorrow when I know what is going on with the weather and our plans for the day.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Amazing Astoria

We had decided to take another trip this week as football season is winding down and heading into the playoffs.  So over the weekend, we decided to return to Maryhill state park.  We were there two weeks ago and had a good time considering that I was sick most of the time with a cold.

We woke up Tuesday morning and got ready to go to Maryhill and ended up in Astoria, OR.  Yup, we went 180 degrees in the other direction.  Carol called the state parks office as we were getting ready Tuesday morning to check on the water at the park.  Many of the parks east of the mountains turn off their water at some point to prevent the pipes from freezing.  Last year we were at Maryhill when they told us it would go off on Nov. 1.  Fortunately, we left the day before.

So she called just to check and found that it was already turned off.  So we decided to go to Lewis & Clark RV Park & Golf course in Astoria.  (So nice not being on a schedule and able to change “plans” and the drop of a hat, or in this case, at the turn of a faucet!)

We arrived here at noon to clear skies and temps in the mid 60s.  All in all a beautiful day.  After setting up the RV, we went to lunch at one of our favorite places in Astoria, Stephanie’s Cabin.  After lunch while Carol napped, I got in 9 holes of golf.  Shot a 43 which isn’t half bad.

On Wednesday, we packed a lunch and headed to Cannon Beach, about 30 miles south of Astoria.  We parked in town and went for a walk along all the store fronts.  Carol found a couple of cute gift items.

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The main drag in Cannon Beach

After that, we went to Tolovana State Beach where we parked the car overlooking the ocean and enjoyed our lunch.  Carol has a new hobby using her new sewing machine, so she visited a quilt store in Cannon Beach.  Then later after we got back to the RV, she went on her own to another quilt store in Astoria.

This morning, we made a short trip to Youngs Falls.   While Lewis & Clark never visited it, some members of their party did while on a hunt for food.  It is a 65 foot tall waterfall that is very nice and serene.

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Youngs Falls, Oregon

On the way back from the falls, we decided to visit the Astoria Column.   The column is part of a city park at the top of Coxcomb Hill.  There are several interesting displays in the park besides the great views.

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A Native American canoe on display

The column was built in 1926 and overlooks the mouth of the Columbia river.  It is 125 feet high and you can climb up 164 steps to the top.  The outside of the tower is covered with a pictorial history of the area.

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The Astoria Column

Of course, I just had to climb the 164 stairs inside the tower to the top.  The stairs are actually a winding spiral staircase.  There are 5 landings along the way where you can see plaques for the donors of each of the stairs.

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Looking down from the top to see Carol below casting a shadow to the right on the grass.

The view from the top is stunning.  You can see almost any direction.  Given that this day was cold and clear, the visibility was great.

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Two cargo ships coming down the Columbia River headed out.

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The city of Astoria and the Astoria Bridge

After the column, we returned for lunch.  Then we went for a 5.1 mile bike ride in the city of Hammond.  It was cold and breezy there and the path we thought was longer was actually rather short.  So we made it a short ride and came back to the RV.

We head out tomorrow to return home.  I have a varsity game tomorrow night, so we will leave somewhat early in the day.  It is forecast to rain tomorrow, but I hope we get out before the rain comes.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ho, Ho, Hoquiam

Yup, we are in Hoquiam, WA today.  We arrived here about 12:30 or so today.

Last night was the first varsity football games in our area.  I worked the Ridgefield at Fort Vancouver game as the white hat (that’s about all I do these days).  It was a good game for the first one of the season and didn’t really challenge the crew.  We had one double foul call with a change of possession (fumble) which gets a bit complicated because the defense has to decline the offense’s foul to keep the ball and sometimes the captains aren’t too bright.  They just want to accept the penalty to push the other team back not realizing that they lose the ball in the process.  But we really had no major problems.   The coaches were easy to work with, the sportsmanship was pretty good, and the weather was fantastic.

After we arrived here at Hoquiam, I got the RV all connected and setup.  Then we went to Westport for the afternoon to the seafood festival at Westport, about 25 miles away.  When we left here, the temperature was about 86 or so.  It stayed that way most of the way to Westport.  But as we got closer to our destination, over a span of 2 miles, it dropped 14 degrees! The sun was still out and everything, but that drop really showed the effect of the Pacific Ocean on moderating the temperature!.

Also along the way, we went past Grays Harbor College.  The sign at the entrance listed their name followed by “Home of the Chokers.”  Not sure that is a great name for your team!  I thought maybe someone was pulling a prank and changed the sign or maybe hacked the computer that drives it.  So I looked them up online and sure enough, they are the Chokers!

When we arrived at Westport, we had a good view of the boats moored in the marina.

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A view of the east dock area

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A view of the west dock area

As you can see above some of these boats are fairly big (over 100’) and they can easily stay out on the ocean.  A few were large enough to be on the Deadliest Catch, a TV show about catching crab up in Alaska.

The festival was actually pretty small.  There were about 15 craft booths selling various wares.  The festival is known for their seafood dinner that they serve ($15 per person, $12 for seniors).  They had a stage with some live music.  There were probably about 250 people at the festival while we were there (2:30-4:00) with some leaving and arriving all the time.

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The festival with people waiting to buy their dinner.

We came home to the RV after our visit to Westport and their festival.  The Wi-Fi here at the park is not working so Carol and I are using our phones to access the internet.  This being the Labor Day weekend, I doubt they will get it fixed before we leave on Tuesday.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Power-full Post

Today we are in Centralia.  We made a quick visit home yesterday to fix a leak in our toilet and I think I may have resolved that one.  So today, we came back up to Centralia.

Before going on, I want to interrupt this blog post and take a minute to update you on the power problem we had a few weeks ago in Redmond.  You may recall that our automatic transfer switch started smoldering and melting wire insulation and the relay contacts.

For those of you who don’t know anything about these switches, they automatically switch from shore power to the generator when the generator is on.  This eliminates the possibility of the RV being momentarily powered from both shore power and the genny which would cause a large arc, likely catch fire, and probably cause a power failure too.

Our switch needed to be replaced which we did at home.  The one we had used two relays and one was burnt around one of the connectors.  The manufacturer would not however sell the parts to fix it, instead they wanted to sell you a new one.

So I had to have it replaced, but did not use the same brand!  Next time (and hopefully there isn’t one) we can just replace the bad relay.  But during the replacement, we discovered that the old one was not properly installed.  There are two 30 amp circuits from the generator which would give you a total of 60 amps of generator power.  This takes 4 wires (2 positives, one neutral, one ground)

Unfortunately, Fleetwood only ran 3 wires.  So they tied both 30 amp circuits together at the generator and also ran a jumper at the transfer switch.  This meant we only had 30 amps from a 5500 watt generator. 

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Here you can see two wires tied to one going to the switch.  Not good!

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On the left relay, you can see the black wire tying two lines together.

Fortunately I had some heavy gauge wire left over from running my 50amp RV connection and we were able to run another lead from the generator to the transfer switch and now it is wired correctly.

What a pain!

Also while home, I was able to get my main computer fixed.  We had a power failure just before we left last Thursday and the monitors would not work.  At my son Tim’s suggestion, I disconnected it all, took it out to the shop and blew all the dust out. Then I started connecting things one at a time and it worked right from the beginning.  I did replace the power cord which appeared to be intermittently bad, but I don’t think that was the primary cause.  As Tim suggested, sometimes you just need to take them for a walk!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog post already in progress……

Tonight we went to McMenamins in the old Olympic Club in downtown Centralia.  It probably dates to the early 1900’s and includes a pool hall.

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The pool hall has 8 antique pool tables and some were in use while we ate just a few feet away.  The food at this McMenamins was pretty good.  There are probably 30 or more McMenamins in Washington and Oregon.  There are 9 on the historic building register and these are hotels, schools, clubs, and even a poor farm.  Others are just store fronts, like the one nearest to where we live.

If you haven’t ever visited one, I recommend you give them a try.  Quality varies from OK to really good, depending on location.   I think Carol has it on her list of things to do to visit each of the historic ones.

Friday, August 12, 2011

On the Road Again……

Yesterday we left our home base in Vancouver, WA and headed up to Bothell to visit our son, Jonathan.  He will be the best man in a wedding we are going to on Saturday so it gave us a good chance to see him.  We went out to dinner at Applebee’s and had a chance to ride in his new car.

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The car is a 2005 Audi, 6 speed stick shift.  It rides really nice and is in superb condition.

Today, I went to the hardware store in Woodinville (right next to Bothell) and got some screws to fix a towel rack and a seat edge molding.  On the way, I came across this chicken…..

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My friend Tom has started growing chickens, but I don’t think his are this big yet!

Then this morning we drove up to Hidden Village RV Park, about 8 miles or so north of Bellingham.  The wedding tomorrow is about 9 miles east of here so it should be a great location.

We will stay here until Sunday and then I’m not sure exactly where we will be going.  I know we will stop somewhere, possibly at Hoquiam, but we haven’t made a final decision.  That’s because Thursday morning around 7am we had a power failure at home that lasted about 30 minutes or so.  But during that failure, something happened to my video card on my desktop system and it no longer works.  So fixing that awaits me when we return.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

All’s Fair in……..Redmond?

Didn’t get a chance to post yesterday because we were so busy.  We started the day out with another 8 mile bike ride, this time around the fairgrounds adjacent to the RV park.  With the fair only 2 days away, there was a lot of activity.

Many, many, RV’s are parked on the fairgrounds with no hookups.  These are for the exhibitors (mostly animal exhibitors, I think) and there are a couple of hundred of them.  However, they really need a parking marshal to get them lined up.  They are parked every which way and are wasting a lot of space.

After breakfast we drove back to Lake Billy Chinook.  We wanted to see how much further the road went and what the RV park and day use areas further on were like.

I think we were disappointed in the RV park and day use areas.  For the most part, they were not near the water and were not level at all.  We continued to follow the road which went across a one-lane bridge  and then up some very tight turns (can you say Lombard St, SF?) and over the top of a cliff.  Eventually the road just ends.  There is a market here, but I have no idea how the delivery trucks can make the climb.

On the way back we stopped at Smith Rock.  This is a really neat area of rock formations.

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This is the westernmost formation in the area.

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This one almost looks like it has a face on it.

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A wall across the valley.

On the way home, we drove through Redmond on Business 97 and stopped at a used bookstore.  I am on the hunt for books by WEB Griffin (he writes military/political thrillers).  I already have about 20 of his books but was short about 18 more.  We found 8 in the bookstore so I am getting closer to owning a full set.

Once home, I decided to play a round of golf at the course next door to the park.  Juniper is a championship course and doesn’t look all that hard.  That’s why I started with a quadruple bogey, followed by a triple bogey, and one hole later, another quadruple bogey.  Lost 4 balls in the process.  I blame it on the 24mph wind that we had.  No way could it have been the skill of the golfer!


Pretending to line up a putt while in deep prayer!

The course is really nice though and after about 5-6 holes I started getting it together.  Ended up with a 53 for the front 9, which is pathetic but meant the only way from there was to get better.


Birdie opportunity on 13 (rimmed the putt)


Birdie opportunity on 16 – converted!

On the back nine, Carol joined me and rode in the cart.  My luck really changed.  I shot a 40 and had a birdie and nothing worse than single bogeys on the back 9 holes.  Had two more birdie chances, both long and both putts just missed.  I did discover a problem in my putting on the front 9 and it really showed in the back nine.  Many single putts, or doubles and no three-putts there.

I’m playing in a tournament with friends on Friday and I hope I can just keep playing like I did on the back nine.

After golf, we drove to Bend to pick up a storage card for Carol’s camera and go out to dinner.  We ate at McMenamin’s St. Francis School.  Carol probably has pics on her blog (or will have soon).

This morning we drove to Sisters, about 30 minutes away.  Had a nice breakfast there and then walked around town a bit.  Found 4 more of my WEB Griffin books.  After checking out the town RV park, we came back to the RV and had lunch and rested.

Tonight we are planning to go to the Fair next door.  There is a gate we can use that will put is right into the fair area after a short walk.  So we won’t have any parking hassles to mess with.  Then tomorrow, we head for home.  We will be home for a week, and then out on the road again, this time northward to attend a wedding.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Who the heck is Billy Chinook and why a lake?

Today we again started with a bike ride in Dry Canyon, this time 8 miles.  It was already pretty humid and the temperature was up to about 77 by the time we finished.  (felt like 90).

After that, we came back to the RV and planned our day’s outing to Lake Billy Chinook state park.  The park is really hard to find.  There isn’t much in the way of signage from highway 97 and what signs they have are confusing because it is also called Cove Palisades.

But after going about 7-8 miles out of our way, we turned to GPSy on my phone and she directed us to the lake.

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The lake swimming area with a boat outside the barrier

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The swim area and canyon wall.

After having our lunch at a picnic table right on the shore of the lake, we drove along the top of the canyon to some vista points.  Here you can see down into the gorge that the river/lake have created.

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Then we went to Crooked River Ranch.  This area also is in the bottom of a canyon.  Before going down, we stopped at a rest area/vista point and had a great view of the river and surrounding bridges.

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A railroad bridge across the Crooked River (looking SW)

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The highway 97 bridge across the Crooked River (looking NE)

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Looking straight down to the River (300 feet below).

As we were coming home, we could see the clouds building up in the sky.  Sure enough, 2 hours later we have rain and lightning and thunder.  We had a strong microburst wind that really rocked us, but it lasted less than a minute.  The rain was large drops but also stopped after a few minutes and the ground is already drying up.  The temperature has dropped some 13 degrees in about 10 minutes but I suspect it will climb a bit as the storm moves away.

So OK, just who was Billy Chinook?  And why does he get a lake named after him?

Possible answers:

a)  A past congressman from Oregon in the early 1900s.

b)  A famous songwriter and singer

c)  An Indian Scout

d)  Nobody, just some guy who wanted a lake.

Scroll down for the answer:









c) A Wasco Indian Scout who traveled with explorer John Fremont in 1843.

If you chose answer b, you get partial credit.  There really was a songwriter named Billy Chinook.