September 2018 Road Trip – Oregon: Multnomah Falls, Bridge of the Gods

August 26, 2018, I was up and on my way early Sunday morning. I had a 4 1/2/ hour drive to Fallon where I would be seeing a couple of friends from high school and staying overnight. Over the next few days, I stopped off in Reno and spent time with more friends from high school, then headed up to Washington State via Susanville, Klamath Falls and on up over Mount Hood into Portland Oregon on Thursday, August 30th. I decided to take a drive to the Columbia River Gorge and Multnomah Falls. I had the opportunity to make a few visits to this area over the two years that my son had lived in Portland. Last year in September of 2017 the Eagle Creek Fire went through the area and I wanted to see how things looked. I discovered that the exits to Crown Point/Vista House were open as well as a couple of nearby smaller falls and hiking trails. Beyond that Highway 30 scenic byway was closed to the larger Multnomah Falls. So I got back on I-84 and drove to the exit for the Multnomah Falls. I pulled into the parking lot and made the short walk through the tunnel that goes under the freeway……it was good to see that the Lodge and the falls themselves had come through the fire unscathed. The parking lot on the side of the falls, of the freeway, was fenced off as well as a portion of Highway 30 that goes beyond the falls. Tourists are still able to make the 1/4 mile walk to the upper bridge but the trails beyond that are closed due to fire damage. The falls as always were beautiful and I never tire of seeing them. It was really sad to see so much of the area closed off and the fencing which took away from the natural setting and beauty of the area. After leaving the Falls I got back on Highway 84 and made my way to the Bridge of the Gods. Along the way, I saw the exit to one of the state parks and the fish hatchery was closed off, I could see for miles where the upper hillside was burned as well as some areas where the fire came all the way down to the freeway.

The drive from Multnomah Falls to The Bridge of the Gods is just 13 miles. The Bridge of the Gods is a steel truss cantilever bridge that spans the Columbia River between Cascade Locks, Oregon and Washington state near the Bonneville Dam. There is a $2.00 toll to cross. There is a Native American Legend about The Bridge of Gods you can find at this link https://en.m.wikipedia.org.

After crossing the bridge I made a left onto Hwy 14 and followed the scenic route along the Columbia River Gorge to Washougal where I then caught I-5 to Gig Harbor/Key Peninsula/Olympic Peninsula area to spend 3 weeks with friends and family.

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden-Portland OR (May 12, 2016)

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens is a gem in the city of Portland. If you want to get away to nature and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city this is the place to go. It’s located at 5801 SE 28th Street off Hwy 205 near Reed College. This place was recommended to me while I was dog-sitting for my son for a week. This is a 9 1/2 acre botanical garden that contains a collection of Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Shrubs, Trees and other plants. It has a spring-fed lake surrounding much of the garden, which attracts quite a bit of waterfowl (ducks, geese, etc) that nest and feed in this natural habitat. As a visitor, you will stroll past three small waterfalls, two bridges, fountains and wander along shaded paths to the lake. There are more than 2,500 Rhododendrons, Azaleas, and other plants, which have all been donated by volunteers, interested individuals or purchased with donated funds. There are also 94 different species and the oldest Rhododendron were planted in the 1800s.  Admission is very cheap at $4.00 for adults and children 12 and under are free. In the winter months (The day after Labor Day through February admission is free). On weekends, some areas may be off-limits due to special events. You can call ahead to find out.

 

 

The Grotto-Portland Oregon May 10, 2016

I made a stop at The Grotto off Hwy 205 in Portland Oregon. I had visited here last December around Christmas time and it was a really amazing place and very peaceful. Its a place where you can meditate, pray and find peace in a very hectic, stressful world. Because it was winter much of the vegetation was dormant other than a few of the beautiful trees and shrubs that were still in fall colors. At that time, I had told myself I needed to come back in the Spring when everything would be in bloom and so I did.

The Grotto is a National Sanctuary of our Sorrowful Mother – A Roman Catholic outdoor shrine and sanctuary. The Grotto was constructed in 1924 – a cave carved out of the 110-foot basalt cliff with a statue of Mary holding Jesus’s crucified body.

The grounds cover 62 acres of pathways, forest, and upper-level botanical garden that sits above the cliff and has beautiful views.

January 1-5, 2016

IMG_86901Day 1 – The day arrived, January 1, 2016, the day I was to start my new life and journey for the coming year.  I had been working so hard and pretty much non-stop for the past month and a half. I kinda wanted to pinch myself that this was all real, I had really done it!

I was up bright and early at 7:30 A.M. I was so excited to get on the road. I jumped in my RV turned on the key……………nothing, it was dead, dead, dead. I could not believe it, the battery was dead……..Really!  As I sat there assessing the situation Alyse (my son’s girlfriend) and her friend Corrine were arriving home from work (They are nurses and had just finished a 12 hr shift). They were troopers and jumped right in to help me get this baby fired up. Out came the jumper cables which we attached to the batteries that were located towards the front portion of the RV……………. Now don’t laugh and don’t shake your head but this is what happened and it’s my experience and learning curve LOL. Now in a motorhome, there are two sets of batteries, one is the in-house batteries…..the batteries that run the lights, etc when you are not hooked up to landline electricity and a second set which is at the back of the RV near the engine which is the battery that starts the engine. Now I don’t know what happened to my common sense and thinking skills, maybe it was just too early in the morning LOL, but here we were trying to jump the in-house battery, which of course did not work. I knew Alyse and Corrine were tired from their long work night and they needed to get some sleep so I told Corrine to go on home and for Alyse to go to bed. I had recently purchased “Good Sam” road service so I called them and told them my battery was dead and needed them to send someone to get my motorhome going. After 45 minutes I received a call back that due to the holiday they could not find anyone to come. I thanked the lady, hung up and thought what the heck……….so a person can’t get roadside help on a holiday, what if I was stuck on the side of the road or in a rest stop somewhere……I was going to have to wait until the next day???? I continued to sit and think and assess what I needed to do. I texted my son, Bryce who had gone off for the weekend snowmobiling and told him my situation. It was then that he told me I was jumping the wrong battery…………. Really!  I decided to go to the store and buy a set of jumper cables and a battery charger. I first tried to jump the RV with my car, nope no luck. So I hooked up the battery charger and let it charge for a couple hours……………..SUCCESS, it worked, the RV started up. I was never so happy to hear the sound of an engine. I literally jumped for joy and clapped my hands! Hallajueuh I was going to finally hit the road 7 hrs later.  I did not care that it was late afternoon, this baby was running and I was going to get down the road even if it was only 4-5 hrs of drive time.

Now that I was on the road I was not stopping till I had to, so I be-bopped on down the highway until I needed to stop for fuel. I also needed propane, I had enough to last for a while but knew I was going to run out before too long.  I stopped at the gas station and got diesel and asked the attendant where their propane was……..sorry but we don’t have propane here you will need to go just up the road a bit. One of the things I really like about Oregon is that people can’t pump their own fuel, a gas attendant does it for you. Today I was happy about that cause it was cold. I went down the road a bit and pulled into the station with the propane, well being a bit lazy and not wanting to get out in the cold to go and ask for someone to come out and get propane for me, I hopped back on the freeway and kept on going deciding that I would be okay and get some propane later. I traveled for about 3 more hours (which put it about 7 PM) when I pulled into a small rest area about 25 miles from Roseburg. I was so excited I was sleeping my first night in my new home on the road!  Well during the night guess what? I ran out of propane so there was no heat and it was a bit cold…..BRRRRR!  It was 21 degrees and there was frost on the inside of my windows! I put on my winter coat, my warm sweatpants, and my gloves. I did not have an ice scraper so I decided a credit card would work, but as I was searching for my credit card I ran across my AARP card. I chuckled and thought this would be the appropriate card to use LOL. I proceeded to scrap my windows with my AARP so I could see where I was going. I could have sat there and waited quite a while for the defroster to do its job but I was a bit impatient. I was ready to get on the road and find myself some propane so I could get warmer

Day 2 –  January 2, 2016, went much better, I was able to get propane and warmed up. I made it over Grants Pass, The Siskiyou’s and Mt Shasta without any problem. One of my main worries with all the cold weather we were having was getting over the passes before another storm came in. When I checked the weather before leaving Portland it was to be clear and sunny for a few days.  It was a good time to head out and get to warmer weather.

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Day 3 – I had crossed over Mt Shasta and Lake Shasta the prior evening and so I was not able to see the Lake which  I really wanted to see as I knew the Lake had been getting really low in recent years and the last time I was through here was about 6 years ago. So once I got over the pass I pulled into to a Chevron station that was open all night and a safe area. I pulled around behind the station and parked in a lighted area for the night. I did not want to travel another 52 miles to a rest stop and wanted to be close enough to Lake Shasta to backtrack in the morning to see and get pictures of the Lake.  I wasn’t sure if I would be able to stay parked here for the night or if I would be asked to leave, but I decided to take my chances, which worked out perfectly. I awoke this morning, fired up my motorhome and headed back the few miles to see the lake. I was just amazed and saddened by how low the lake was, the lowest it has ever been. Aside from the low water levels, it was just beautiful to see all the earthy tones of the soil that are now exposed.

Shasta Lake

After getting to see the Lake and getting pictures I continued on my way to Vacaville, California.

Day 4, 5 and 6 – I spent 3 days in Vacaville visiting a couple friends and seeing my brother and his fiancee. My brother was a great help in going over several things in my motorhome with me so that I felt more comfortable with where everything was and what I needed to keep an eye on and maintain. I had a great time hanging out with my friend Colleen, we had dinner at Tahoe Joe’s…………..the closest I was going to get to Tahoe this trip. It was a great atmosphere with a lot of Tahoe/Truckee photos, snowshoes, skis, and even a menu that reflected food choices of places in Tahoe as well as great tasting food, I soaked my aching, sore muscles in the hot tub which was great and much needed, made a trip to Camping World to browse with my granddaughters “Tigger” and did some fun photoshoots.

#Vacaville #traveling #RV #newlife #motorhome #friends #Lake-Shasta

#Siskiyou’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving 2015

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Today, November 26, 2015………..Thanksgiving!  That day when family and friends gather for the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, pies or whatever your family traditions may be.  For me the holidays are difficult. I miss the years when my family was closer, the kids were young and we were all able to gather for family holidays. But as life goes children grow up, loved ones pass on and family dynamics change. During the changes in life one hopes their family will stay together but sometimes it just doesn’t.  So it happened that this year I was going to be by myself babysitting my youngest son’s dog (Hank) in Portland. My son, Bryce and his girlfriend, Alyse had made plans quite sometime back to fly to North Carolina to spend Thanksgiving with her family. Bryce was going to leave Hank with a friend to care for him, but when I found myself “retired” from my job I told my son that I would come and take care of Hank so they did not have to worry about him.  But life has a way of taking you by surprise and reminding you of the awesome, caring people still out there in this big world of ours. The day before Bryce and Alyse were to leave Alyse had a couple of her work friends (Laura and Corrine) over at the house that I had the opportunity to meet.  Now take note that it was a brief opportunity, but the next day after I dropped Bryce and Alyse off at the airport I received a text from Bryce that I was invited to Corrine’s house for Thanksgiving. I was surprised that with such a brief meeting that this young lady did not want me spending Thanksgiving alone, but that I was welcome to come and spend it with her and her family. I accepted the invite as a challenge to myself that this was the beginning of my new life adventure I was moving towards, the chance to do something different, step outside the comfort zone and meet new people and make new friends.  I arrived at Corrine’s house with several family members already there – her parents, her parent’s longtime friends, her sister with her husband and children. I was welcomed with open arms, hugs and smiles and introductions to who I was and how did I fit into this picture ( Bryce’s mom who is the boyfriend of Alyse who is Corrine’s friend and co-worker). Within the hour more family members arrived with husbands, wives, children and a few more friends. In total, we had a house full of 21 people. What an awesome time I had visiting, sharing my stories, hearing their stories, watching the family dynamics of love for family and friends. Lots of good food….turkey, stuffing, gravy, Mexican dishes, salad, olives, pie, cake and several things I can not remember the names of.  In the end, I made new friends and shared phone numbers and email with Corrine’s Mom – she and I hit it off and she was excited about my new adventure. She wants to follow my journey and hopes that she and her husband will be able to travel more this next year as well.  So on this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for my family that I love very much and I am thankful for new friends and a caring, compassionate young woman who reached out her heart and a hand to welcome someone new into her family and world. May the world continue to be a better place and that we all look beyond ourselves and be open and aware of others who may need a hug and a welcome embrace.

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How it all began

Some of you are probably wondering how this all began. This is something I have wanted to do for a very long time. My initial thinking sometime back was to get an RV while I was working and have it paid off by the time I retired, which is at the minimum 6 years away, and then hit the road. I just am not the type of person who in retirement would be happy just living in an apartment and looking at the 4 walls.  During the past year, I began to see stories of people selling their homes, all their belongings, quitting their jobs and hitting the road in their RV’s or travel trailers. Then a friend from high school retired got herself an airstream and started traveling, then I saw another old friend and her husband spend a month traveling in their camper.  I was seeing all these great adventures and the beautiful places they were visiting….. Every day is a new adventure and meeting new people, seeing old friends and family. I was seeing folks removing themselves from being tied down to a job, a  house, a car payment and the same thing day in and day out, I was seeing them removing the stress from their lives, exploring and being free and happy. In August of 2015, I went on a two-week road trip with my three grandchildren. I saw old friends I grew up and went to high school with,  spent time hanging out with them and going on great adventures….. quad riding on a friends ranch, horseback riding on another friends ranch, swimming (lot’s of swimming), visiting my hometown of Truckee, California and getting to see the famous Squaw Valley where the 1960 Olympics took place and where the ice rink I used to skate on as a kid was, but is now gone, the house the grandkids mom lived in when she was born, dip their toes in the famous Donner Lake, go to the Donner State Park and visit the new museum and see the Donner Party Memorial, take a drive up old highway 40 to Donner Summit to the viewpoint and take in beautiful Donner Lake and really get a feel for what the Donner Party was trying to accomplish crossing those rugged, rocky mountains in wagon trains,  a day playing in the sand and swimming in beautiful Lake Tahoe. In addition, we visited Crater Lake……drove around the whole lake, which was so beautiful and interesting. We spent a few nights camping in various places and we were able to see and visit with an old co-worker in Klamath Falls. We went to Vacaville, California and stayed with another high school friend, went swimming and toured the Jelly Belly Factory and at the end of our tour, we ran into my brother and his girlfriend out of the blue.  We crossed over through Napa Valley (Wine Country) to the Redwoods and the ocean. What majestic trees the redwoods are and the preservation that has taken place to preserve these trees for us all to still enjoy. This trip was such a special, bonding, rewarding trip that will be with me always.

My New Home

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Well after leaving my job I knew my next big step was finding a home that I would be living in for at least a year.  The challenge was finding a used RV in my budget, had to be a diesel, was dependable, and something I could handle and manage. So my thought was finding something no bigger than 28 ft. I came to Portland to see my son over Thanksgiving and shop for an RV. He found this one on craigslist at a family-owned business in Estacada…. a 1993 Sun Voyager by Gulfstream with a Cummins Diesel and Allison transmission.  I liked it right away, but it was 34 feet! Is this something I could handle? it’s as big as a bus……… but I liked it, it was very nice inside, comfortable, roomy and had lots of storage. So the next thing I needed to do was to make sure it was dependable. I asked the owner if he was open to me getting an independent mechanic to look at it. He had no problem with that and actually encouraged it. They wanted their customers to feel comfortable and confident in what they were buying and knew what they were getting. I found a mechanic nearby and he only charged me $100.00 to check it out from top to bottom. Everything worked and was in good operating and running condition. They only had to replace a vent/fan that was broken.  During the few days, the mechanic had the RV and was checking it out I spent those days still looking and hunting for an RV. I wanted to be sure I was getting what I wanted and checking out my options. After a few days of checking craigslist for new listings, visiting a few RV dealers, and making phone calls to RV dealers I was not finding anything else. So I was very happy when I found that everything checked out on this RV and I was able to make an offer and seal the deal.