Saturday, July 13, 2013


I don’t know what it was that caused Brenda and I first visited Ilwaco, WA. It was about 10 years ago and I can’t remember exactly why we stopped there. I think we were following the Lewis and Clark Trail.  Ilwaco is where they finally reached the Pacific.

Brenda and Mary Jane on main street Long Beach. This is a neat little tourist town.

Back then Ilwaco looked like a town about ready to take off. There were a few nice shops and a new waterfront section. The old part of town had a few interesting shops. We stayed at a run-down RV Park and actually talked about buying it and getting it into shape. We were taken with the town.

Well, Ilwaco’s take off aborted. Today it looks like nothing has happened since we were there last, except the shops in the old part of town have closed.

This time we visited Ilwaco because we have some long time friends living nearby in Long Beach, WA. We met Mike and Mary Jane Fuller when stopped with our boat in Morro Bay on the way to Mexico. They were also sailing south. We have kept in touch since then. This hasn’t always been easy since Mike and MJ have a propensity for moving from place to place. I think this is the 15th place they have lived since we met them.

You may remember Mike and MJ from my Tucson blogs. They have a home in Tucson. They gave Jeff and Linda Grossman lots of support while Jeff was hospitalized and recovering from surgery there. Friends like that are hard to beat.

A view of the Cape. 

The Fuller’s ushered us around showing us all the sites in the area. We had a very enjoyable visit with them and will see them again in Tucson this fall.

Sand Sculpture at Long Beach

Ilwaco, by the way, is just north of the mouth of the Columbia River. Lewis and Clark stayed the winter there. I think they had a nice time too but got very tired of eating salmon.

We are now in Stevenson, WA, in the Columbia River gorge area attending the Audubon Convention here. We arrived on Friday.

Friday wasn’t one of my better days. The good news is that I didn’t hit any more curbs. The bad news is that our slide-out isn’t sliding out anymore. It is very cozy inside our no longer spacious trailer.

Marv McGowan suggested I get these axles as a fix for bent axles.

We will have to take the trailer somewhere to get the slid-out operating again. We decided not to let this bother us and took off to register at the convention. We also attended the opening reception later in the evening.

It was a great reception with lots of snacks including lots of little top-heavy miniature cupcakes.  I loaded a few of these on a plate and took off across the room to find a spot where I could sit and scarf them down. About three steps later I noticed my foot sticking to the floor and that my plate was light one cupcake. Sure enough I managed to drop a cupcake and then step on it. You could follow my route across the floor by the cupcake footprints.

I had a napkin and bent over to clean up my shoe and pickup the mess. Not a good idea with top-heavy cupcakes on a little plate. How is it that when you are trying to get a crowd’s attention it is almost impossible but when you do something really stupid suddenly there is silence and all eyes are on you?

Life goes on – cupcakes or not.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Pasco, Washington, is probably not on anyone’s’ list of highly acclaimed tourist attractions. We, ourselves, never ever dreamed of going to Pasco. Pasco ‘s main attraction for us was a truck repair shop that could align the bent axle on our trailer. We left Donnelly early enough to drive the 350 miles to Pasco by 2PM. The truck shop got right on the work so we were out of there after a couple of hours and a mere $360. It seems that not one but two axles were bent. The last axle straightening cost us only $100. I don't believe we will ever plan on revisiting Pasco.

Trailer having a bath.

While in Pasco we had the RV cleaned at a truck wash. They use high-pressure hoses at these places. The dirt was blasted away in no time. Unfortunately part of the decal on the trailer was blasted away as well. We are now towing a “RO KWOOD” travel trailer.


We also stopped by The Country Market Place. This was highly recommended to us. It was worth the stop.  It is like a large farmer’s market under one roof.

We parked next to this rig at the Country Marketplace - I have no idea what it is.

The next night we stayed at the Yakima Nation RV Park in Toppenish, Washington. This was a really nice RV Park on the Yakima Indian Reservation. There is a pretty interesting Museum there that, after going through it, makes you a little embarrassed of your heritage.

Beacon Rock

We stayed at Beacon Rock State Park on the Columbia River. This park has five RV spaces and two regular spaces. When we pulled into this beautiful park we had our pick of spaces. The camping area was empty.

Our campsite at Beacon Rock State Park, Washington.

As we were setting up I noticed that the highway was very near the campground. About the time we finished setting up a train came by. It passed by, missing the rear of the trailer by about 100 feet. It was dawning on me why the place was empty. We actually had a good night’s sleep and the whole campground to ourselves. Not more than 20 trains came by.

Between Beacon Rock and Ilwaco we had to get on the interstate. I hate interstates. This one wasn’t too bad.

The thing about interstates is driving on them is no fun.  Especially pulling a travel trailer. You have to keep to the right where the trucks have pot-holed the road. You constantly have to watch for vehicles entering the roadway from the right. You have to be alert for the vehicles cutting in front of you from the left to exit the freeways. Trucks are streaming past you. The scenery is terrible. After a few hours of driving interstates my mind is numb.

We will be driving more interstates before we get home.

I’m thinking I need to do something to keep my mind fresh while driving the interstates. Text messaging seems to me to be the kind of challenging thing that might work. I’m trying to come up with a workable text messaging process for me. I will have to use my good left hand to do the text. I can hold the phone in my right hand. I’ll have the right foot for the gas and breaking. That leaves my left knee for steering.  I need to think about this some before I put it to practice. But I think it will break the monotone of interstate driving.

You may wonder why we are in Ilwaco. You may even wonder where Ilwaco is. Tune into the next episode for the Ilwaco Adventure segment.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Moose Drool country

Trips to the auto shop are usually not much to take note of. Except for the bill, these trips are sleepers. I bought two new tires at a Sears store and had a good laugh. That was before I got the bill.

This sears store is in a mall. I was killing time at the mall when the service manager called to ask me where the jack and tire changing kit for the truck was. I had asked them to swap out the spare for one of better tires I was replacing. They didn’t have the right tool for lowering the spare. I told them that it was under the back seat.

When I picked up the truck the young fellow complained about how they hid the spare tire kits on these trucks. He said that he was with a friend who had an F-150 out in the backcountry near Missoula when they got a flat. The tire jack didn’t fit the crank that lowers the spare. They spent an hour looking everywhere for it. They gave up, hiked ten miles, caught a ride and went to the Ford dealer to get the part so they could fetch the truck. The dealer told them the little tool they were looking for is fastened with tie-wires to the underside of the back seat in the F-150. 

This fellow got a little huffy and said, “You would think those ass holes could put something like that in a more obvious place wouldn’t you?” To which I told him I would pretend I was my wife and asked him if they had thought to look at the owner’s manual. He got a very strange look to his face and said, “Here’s your bill!”

We made it over the divide. 

We visited Moose Drool country. Non-beer-brewery enthusiasts know this area as “Missoula”. To folks with an interest in the local brew it is the home of Montana Brewery and its famous Moose Drool Ale.  We were introduced to this wonderful substance ten years or so ago and it is still a very fine beverage.

We visited Ron and Clara Erickson. For those of you who know Ron and Clara (and I think that is most of you) they are just fine. We’ve visited them several times in Missoula and always have a great time with them. Ron is still tying flies. Clara is taking piano lessons and making rhubarb sorbet – and doing a hundred other things.

Brenda at the Missoula farmer's market. 

From Missoula we drove over the Lolo Pass into Idaho. We stopped at Grangeville one night before pulling into Donnelly, Idaho, to spend the 4th of July with the Wisdoms.

Between Grangeville and the Wisdoms is the White Bird grade. This thing goes on forever and has some spots that hit 8% grade. Every time I drive this I get hemorrhoids from the pucker factor.

The Wisdoms are also just fine. They have the “cabin” up for sale – again.  We enjoyed seeing them up there again.

Although this picture doesn't show it well, Pine Bark beetle has started to kill the trees. In a few years most of these trees will be dead. 

The area has changed a lot since we were there a decade ago. In fact much of the area has ben drastically changed by a bug. The Pine Bark Beetle has devastated large tracks of land through Montana and Idaho. The loggers are happy, I guess, because the removal of dead trees has kept them employed and will for years. 

We were told that the favorite host of the beetle is the Ponderosa Pine. A ranger told us that what they have isn’t a beetle problem but a Ponderosa problem. Loggers replaced harvested trees with a cloned species of the Ponderosa. Needless to say when you have millions of copies of one plant and an insect that thrives on that plant you have big problems.

The trees in the background are dead because of the Pine Bark Beetle. We saw lots of these dead trees.

While in Grangeville I had to replace another tire on the trailer. I have to stop driving the trailer over curbs.  

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Great Falls waiting

It was interesting to drive from the wet east towards the dryer west. We came out of the dense woods at the west side of Minnesota. The woods became thinner before transitioning to just occasional stands of woodland in North Dakota. Awhile after crossing the Missouri we came into true prairie grassland. 

Prariee Grassland.

Now we are into the hills of Montana. We had our first sagebrush and yucca yesterday.

Highway 200 passes through lots of pretty scenery. This is east Montana hill country.

The road we have been on since entering Minnesota is Highway 200. It is two mostly lanes and goes through some remote lands. It has been a pleasure to drive because most of it is not heavily traveled. When we got into oil boom country we picked up heavy truck traffic for couple of hundred miles.

Some of the oil worker temporary housing we passed in North Dakota.

When we drove from Lake Sakakawea we thought it would be about a 200-mile drive. Highway 200 is not heavily traveled so it lacks amenities you can find along the interstate. Things like RV parks aren’t common. We passed one early in the afternoon. That was a mistake. Two hundred miles later we came to one in Circle, Montana, and Ray’s Campground and Laundry. This is the poorest excuse for an RV park we have see.

Ray looks like Paul Newman doing “Hud”. He charged $35 and made comments about pocketing it so he didn’t have to pay any taxes. This is Tea Party country and Ray is the posture child. Government, you know, is evil.

The next night was spent in Lewistown at a very nice RV Park for $25. 

Lewistown is quite historic. It has been caught in a financial downturn since 1920. Somehow they have managed to keep up much of the original downtown area. Main street Lewistown still has active businesses, mostly restaurants and bars. 

Downtown Lewistown, Montana.

I am writing this at the Ford Agency. It is difficult to write something in a waiting room when the other occupant is giving you her life history. Wow, her brother died of cancer after contracting MS which he got in the Army after Fighting in Vietnam. Her Mom, living in Winslow, Arizona, is 76 years young, works 3 days a week. This lady is 5’ 10’, has back problems, broke her hip, and is having her Escape serviced. Her son has a size 13 shoe. 

How is it I seem to attract these types? At least she hasn’t tried to save me. Yet!

Another person came into the waiting room. Whew!The lady whom has been talking at me is now telling the newcomer her history.  Gosh, now we are into her labor, her crazy in-laws, her ex, how she should be in a mental institution. I think I’ve never run into one quite like this lady.

Today we are in Great Falls. The truck is getting its 150,000-mile service and two new tires. Tomorrow we are heading to Missoula.

I just want to get out of this waiting room.