Lolli and I took a month and went to Seattle to do some vacation and see the relatives. Lolli surprised me and said she was willing to spend a week getting to Seattle and so I immediately whipped out my map and checked out a route through the middle of Oregon.
June 8th we hit the road. It was a perfect time to go on vacation because both of us had become homeless! Well, not really homeless as in down and out and on the street, no. More like out and about and living wherever we are! Both of our living situations had recently changed. I had to move out of dingyHovel for a month or two while my landlord did some work on his property and Lolli had to move out of her apartment because every summer the art center rents the apartments to students and teachers. All this to say that Lolli and I are living in my Vanagon, or with relatives, or in various houses we care-take during this summer. We live a very creative life style!
This is also the year I retired, not that I was doing much anyway but, now it is official. I turned 62 the 10th of April and took early retirement.
The first day we only traveled ten miles! Our friend Doug Browe, owner of Earthenware Potters, was doing a firing at Nick and Blaze's kiln in Albion and we stopped by to visit and spend the night.
Doug and his helpers had just finished loading and
bricking up the kiln and had started the fire.
By morning the pots and pieces were starting to glow. Doug figured they would fire for five days but it was time for us to leave and get on with our vacation.
Over the coastal hills to Ukiah and then out HWY 20. I decided to make it another easy day, now that I am Retired Guy, so we stopped around three in the afternoon and pulled into my camp spot on Walker Ridge. I have little camping spots all over the western United States that are off the highway, away from road noise, peaceful, and free.
The solar shower in the roof rack was ready to go so we took showers and then went for a walk. Lolli and I try to go for a walk every day. Now that we are Old Folks we have to do what old folks do and one of those things is go for a walk. During our walk we came across a rattlesnake.
This guy was about two and a half feet long! I counted eight rattles so I believe that means he is eight years old. Lolli and I realized we have seen more rattlesnakes in Northern California than anywhere else in all the desert traveling we have done in Southeastern California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Baja!
June 9th we get back on the road and head for Interstate 5. Driving along I see something and have to stop, turn around, drive back and take a photo.
Cool! After I take the photo we finish our travel on HWY 20 at Williams and get on I-5 heading north. We notice another patriotic item along our way. I decide to stop an photograph each one I see. What the heck! We are on vacation and in no hurry. I have to get off I-5 to get the photo so we end up on old 99. We soon realize how much nicer and more interesting the older highway is anyway.
When we get to Redding we run out of old highway 99 and it looked like we have no choice but to get back onto I-5. Then we see the turn-off to Alturas. Neither one of us have ever been to Alturas so, instead of going up I-5, we head for eastern California on HWY 299.
I set my laptop on the stand I built between the front seats.
I turn on my GPS and plug it into the com port on the laptop and then have real time coverage of our progress. Lolli thinks this is silly because, as she says, ďAll you have to do is look out the window to see where you areĒ. But hey, that ainít the Cowboy way! No, I like to see what is over that hill, up around the bend, and my DeLorme TopoUSA software does an amazing job of showing me the surroundings.
We come across another patriotic statement. These are welded figures made out of car parts and scrap metal. They are arranged on the other side of the barbed wire fence in a large empty field. They are very nicely done and an obvious statement about the artists thoughts concerning the United Nations!
Okay. Here is another one!
I really didnít want to go all the way east to HWY 395 because I originally thought we were going to go up HWY 97 and had downloaded and printed out about twenty geocaching pages for cache sites along that route. Looking at my topo map I can see a secondary road that leaves HWY 299 and cuts back over to 97 around Kalamath. Good enough but first, we must find our camping spot for the night. The topo map shows elevations and rivers and streams. I can see that there is a road alongside a stream coming up so, as we approach, I slow down and look for the road. Sure enough, we arrive at the road, turn off, and head up it alongside a stream. It turns out that the stream is called Rush Creek and by golly there are two state park campgrounds, Lower Rush Creek and Upper Rush Creek. Six bucks a night. Now, I am not much for paying for camping but this is a beautiful area and the whole place is empty! Just us! Perfect!
We do the barbee thing and the solar shower bag thing and then, for the evening entertainment, I set up my laptop on our ice chest and we watch a DVD movie! "G. I. Jane"! Lolli always gives me the evil eye when I add more technology to my camping stuff but she had to admit watching a movie after dinner was pretty cool! What is way cool is that I bought a small device called IRock that plugs into the speaker jack on my laptop. It converts the audio signal into FM and then my Vanagon stereo radio picks up that signal and we can listen to the movie over the Vanagon stereo speakers and, crank it up!! Much better than using the wimpy laptop speakers.
In the morning we go for our walk up the road in search of Upper Rush Creek campground. We find it and decide it is even more perfect than Lower Rush Creek. Again, no one is there so we pick the most perfect campsite and move in for another day. I even hang up my new hammock that I got for Christmas. I am really getting into the swing of vacation! We read our respective novels and play a couple rounds of Petanque.
We hit the road in the morning.
And so it goes. We poke along up through Oregon and finally get back onto HWY 97. I plug in some waypoints and start looking for geocache sites. One nice thing about geocaching is that it usually introduces us to places we would never have thought to look at or go to. In the process we discover some nice camping spots.
This one is near LaPine by a creek named Crescent Creek.
We are looking for a cache named "Bite Me". (The waypoint number is GC6651 for you geocachers out there.) When we get close we leave the highway and take a logging road that wanders off into the sugar pine forest. Nearing the cache we discover a very nice grassy spot right beside a creek. Perfect! We set up camp and then go in search of the cache on foot. We find it. We discover it is named "Bite Me" in honor of all the mosquitoes along the creek but we spray on our mosquito repellant and have no trouble with them.
The next afternoon we are north of Bend near the town of Redmond, Oregon. We look for a cache named "Tuuli Puspus Pa", waypoint GC39F3. We discover the cache near the mouth of a lava tube! "Tuuli Puspus Pa" is the Indian name for these lava tubes. See! We learn so much from geocaching! Plus, finding this cache helped us discover a small 40 acre plot of BLM land right near the city of Redmond.
After we find the cache we decide to stay and camp amongst the Juniper. We set up camp and then go explore other lava tubes. There are five tubes of varying depth in this area. Down inside them there is an immediate change in temperature! Much cooler. Very nice on a hot day. An information sheet said the Indians used these tubes/caves years ago. It is a very interesting area..
In the morning we press on for Washington State and while driving along I see a very interesting looking canyon on my laptop topo map. We decide to turn off of HWY 97 and go check it out. When we arrive we discover the town of Maupin, Oregon and the Deschutes River. We find a state park campground a few miles upstream from Maupin and end up staying two days and nights reading books, playing Petanque, and watching the river rafters go by.
During our drive through Middle Oregon I have talked to my number one son, Ross, several times on my cell phone and discover that he and his family plus his motocross friends are going to be camping this weekend near Kaner Flats, on the Little Naches River, east of Mt. Rainer. We will meet there Friday evening.
Out of the gorge at Maupin and over to 97. Across the mighty Columbia and up to Yakima. Then up into the mountains on HWY 410. We pull in about seven in the evening and park ourselves amongst the huge motor homes and travel trailers. My son and his friends camp the good olí American way with big trucks, big trailers, big dirt bikes, chain saws, generators, boom box, the whole nine yards. I deploy my ShadyBoy awning and try to fit in!! Lolli and I get a tour of the various motor homes and trailers but no one seemed interested in a tour of my Vanagon camper! We felt a little out of it after our long week of solitude and peaceful camping but hey, there is a lot to be said for sitting around a bonfire with interesting people while a huge turkey cooks in the smoker for 12 hours!
Sunday is Fatherís day and my number two son, Jeff, and his family and my daughter, Sarah and her family drive out for the day. There I am with my three children, their three spouses, and my three new grandchildren! What a Father's Day!
When my back is turned they set out two boxes containing what they called my "retirement gift". I open them up and discover a radio controlled model airplane in one box and the complete transmitter, receiver, servos, gas engine, and all the related items needed to put it together in the other! Wow! Knock me over! I only got as far as U Control back in my model airplane days as a kid. I always wanted to try radio control but could never afford it. Now look at me! Son Jeff said that he has the same model and that two guys at his work have the same model also. All of us are novices at RC and we will be learning the ropes soon.
In the early afternoon we pack up and follow my son Ross and his friend Dwayne out the back way on logging roads over to Greenwater and on down to Enumclaw, Washington. Ross, Kerry and Kian head for home and we continue on up through Seattle to Lolliís mom Margaret's house. The visiting portion of our vacation is about to commence.
Monday I leave Lolli with her mom and go to my Brotherís place in Redmond, Washington. He had saved some projects for me to help him with and I also have a bunch of 35 mm slides from my Navy days I want to scan and burn onto a CD.
I scan over 350 slides taken during my time on the
USS Hancock CVA-19 from 1962 to 1964.
I spend most of the week with Ken and his wife Marilyn burning slides while Ken was at work and helping him with his projects in the evenings. We got his waterwheel fixed and his boat hauled out and the bottom painted.
When my welcome started wearing thin I reconnect with Lolli up at Elger Bay on Camano Island. Lolliís mom has a cabin right on the bay and we spent several days reading our books and setting out the crab pot! Yes, indeed! Fresh crab every evening!
We attended Lolliís niece Stinaís wedding. Then back to Elger Bay for the Fourth of July. It was amazing. All the Seattle folks went on and on about how they could not believe it wasnít raining on the Forth of July.
It didnít rain the fifth and sixth either! Unbelievable! Being from California I could not understand all the excitement. I kept saying Hey, itís summer. It is supposed to be sunny!
During our trip I got some quality time with my three grand babies!
Here they are!!
Grand daughter Taylor indicating she is done with her macaroni and cheese!
Here is "Banana Boy" Lane getting his bath!
And here is Ol' Fart with the latest handful, Kian! I am well blessed with three special characters.
The seventh of July we left Elger Bay, dropped mom off at her home and headed back to California. Our month of vacation coming to an end. We camped our last night in Wolf Creek, Oregon. We were in Fort Bragg on the Eighth of July. During the drive we listened to John LeCarrieís "The Constant Gardner" and David Baldacci's "The Winner". Each book on tape lasted about three hundred miles!
And now, here we are, caretaking Iren and Stefanís house while they are in Switzerland and France. I, now being Retired Guy, have been busy getting ready to fly my RC airplane.
Life is good.