The Shop Van is Done!

The new Sprinter Van has now completed its enhancements to make it a fully qualified “Toad.” In the parlance of the RV folks that is the car you tow behind your motor home so that you have transportation when you get to your destination. Read More »

Company Comin’:

It is August and we are in our last month as Camp Hosts at Yamhill State Heritage Site this year. Several of our friends have already stopped by on their way back from the annual Church Campout. Everything went very well. We had just enough parking space for their RV’s and everyone got to tour the archeological digs that are going on. A couple of friends have over-nighted on our couch, and friends with RV’s can over night at the Spirit Mountain Casino. Of course you are on your own with your new Coyote Card. Read More »

Path Has An Adventure

By now you all know that we give names to everything. Our Coach is “Arcturus,” the Honda Civic is “Little Blue,” and our recumbent tandem bicycle is ‘Path.” It is named after a fictional dragon in Ann McCaffry’s “Dragon Riders of Pern” series. In Ann McCaffry’s series “Path” is somewhat ‘proddy’ and causes her rider, Mirrim, to be ‘out of sorts.’

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Washington Trip

Before heading south for the winter we made a quick trip to Washington. First we traveled to Sequim Washington to visit Judy’s sister, Genaveve, and her family, Karl and Mara and of course Izzy the cat. As luck would have it we arrived on Karl’s birthday, the auspicious 65th birthday. We started the day at the Oak Table Restaurant for a huge breakfast. When we finished, Mara jumped up and bussed our table. You see she works there.

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Breaking Camp

Wednesday was a day for saying goodbye, tying up all the loose ends and making ready to break camp. We have gotten way to comfortable here over the last three months.

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People have asked us how we are coping with living in the motor home. We have several pat answers to this question. Things like “we’re enjoying every minute;” or “It’s fun to watch the sun rise from behind a different hill each morning.” Read More »

Paradise in Washington State:

We are just closing the second chapter of our retirement journey. Chapter one was the tent camping trip to Illinois. Chapter two was six weeks in the San Juan Islands in our small “Pocket Cruiser” a 23 foot Aquarius Sailboat. Read More »

Eastward Ho:

June 14, 2004 – This is the beginning of our route East. The first day was long and tiring. We crossed the rest of Oregon and chose a campground in Caldwell Idaho. Over the next two days we drove to Brigham City Utah, and then to Lander, Wyoming. In Lander we were able to look up traces of Judy’s Grandfather, Dr. Orris F. Starr, at the Fremont Court House. The very friendly County Clerk helped us find a deed that showed that Dr. Starr sold the US Government the three lots in Lander Wyoming in January of 1907 that the first US Post Office was built on. The Post Office is still there, but it is now vacant.

June 15 – 21, 2004 – We are slowly working our way to Missouri. We stopped in Casper, WY, Chadron NE, Valentine NE, Niobrara NE, Ashville NE and finally arrived in the neighborhood of Galatin Missouri and stayed at Wallace State Park. The next Day we traced Gary’s Great-great-grandfather, Samuel King Dinsmore. An equally friendly staff at the Daviess County Court House helped us find the original deed where Samuel bought his 160 acre farm on February 12, 1849. We visited the farm site and came close to the cemetery where Samuel, Martha and one son Samuel are buried. It is actually a quarter of a mile off the road in a grove of trees on a Mennonite family farm.

June 22 – 25, 2004 – We are now working our way to Petersburg Illinois. We abandoned the idea of getting all the way to Seneca, in Newton County Missouri where Gary’s Mother, Alois, was born. We will catch this on another trip. We camped at Pomme de Terre State Park in the Missouri Ozarks and at Mark Twain State Park, near Hannibal Missouri.

June 26 and 27, 2004 – This weekend was spent celebrating Neil and Renee’s wedding with Neil’s Parents and all of their friends and relatives in Petersburg Illinois.

June 28 – July 1, 2004 – We have taken a side trip without “Little Blue,” our faithful Honda Civic. We explored the Chicago Miracle Mile and Grant Park strictly as pedestrians. We purchased a three day pass on CTA and explored several of their museums and the “Bite of Chicago.”

July 5 – July 12, 2004 – We are working our way back across the midwest. We made it to Mississippi Pallisades State park in the way up NW corner of Illinois on the first night. Then we started hitting the State parks in Iowa. Pleasant Creek was a very nice park near Cedar Falls. We looked at a little state park near Forest City and the city park right in town, but we chickened out and did a super 8 motel. Did a nice ride around town and talked to several Winnabego owners. Next morning we did the Winnebago factory tour.

Now it was on to South Dakota. First was Newton Hills State Park. It was really nice. Then Snake Creek on the Missouri river, and it was the pits. Friday night and no choices. We nearly blew away with no trees to protect us on the edge of the park. We next did the Badlands and finally the Black Hills around Custer SD. We rode to the Crazy Horse Monument on July 12th on the George S Mickelson Rail to Trail. Very nice, but it was a steady four percent grade and gravel surface. We did enjoy the monument and the cultural dancing by a family of Lakota Sioux. Segments of the morning and afternoon were spent in domestic chores. The laundry bag had outgrown its place in the attic. (This is what we call the Thule roof-top storage unit.) and Little Blue (our faithful Honda Civic,) and Path (our recumbent tandem bicycle,) both got baths. After returning from our ride in 90 degree weather, Judy and I also headed for the showers.

July 13, 2004 – Tuesday, July 13th was an intense day of activities. We moved out just after 09:00 and drove to Hill City. The George S. Mickelson trail continues from there to Mystic. After working through a flat tire, we rode the trail from Hill City at MP 60 to the tunnel at MP 72 over a considerable hill that took us from 1,600 meters to 1,730 meters and back down. (About 1,800 feet change in elevation.) After the ride we had a really nice lunch at the Alpine Inn in Hill City. We then went to the terminus of the Black Hills Central Railroad and checked the schedule. The train was due to return from Keystone at 3:45, so we began searching out the perfect photo-op along a rural road that criss-crosses the rails a dozen times. We set up three cameras and got several nice photos of the 2-6-6-2 camelback as it worked its way up a stiff hill stern first pulling a string of a half dozen coaches. We chased it into Hill City and got a few more photos at another crossing. At about 10 miles per hour it is not hard to lap this little train. Back in Hill City we watched and photographed as they moved the engine back to the front of the string of cars. They filled the camelback at the water tank, and both the engineer and fireman went over the engine with oil can, grease gun and wiping cloths. A couple more photos as they ease out of Hill City on another excursion to Keystone with a new trainload of tourists.

We turned our wheels South and drove the Needle Highway, the Custer State Park Wildlife loop and the Iron Mountain road back to Mount Rushmore. This loop has six very narrow tunnels. One was only 8 foot 6 inches wide by twelve feet high.Such beautiful scenery. We were able to photograph many of the park’s inhabitants. Deer, goats, antelope, bison, prairie dogs, turkeys and donkeys. The final reward is that two of the last three tunnels form a perfect frame to photograph the Rushmore monument through. The digital camera didn’t have much luck, but I hope the Cannon and the long telephoto was more succesful. The weather was very nice all day. Once we arrived at Mt. Rushmore we toured all of the walking trails and snapped a couple more photos. We settled in for the 9:00 P.M. lighting ceremony when some distant rumblings started. The ranger announced that there was a squall headed our way, so they started a little early to beat the storm. No such luck. about half-way through the film, a strike hit rather close and we and most of the rest of the crowd of 3,000 bolted. We got to our car before the real deluge occurred. Our campsite was pretty wet, but we only got slightly damp inside the tent.

July 14, 2004. Wednesday was a day of drying out and packing up. We drove across Wyoming in 90 degree heat. We checked out a couple of camp grounds around Sheridan WY and nixed them. We pulled into a wonderful little National Forest Campground at Sibley Lake around six in the evening. By pure luck there was still a space open, and we settled in for a nice cool evening of campfire, songs and smores.

July 15, 2004. Thursday morning dawned a little cloudy, but nothing to get alarmed about. I started getting the tandem ready for some serious riding when a few drops of rain dampened our enthusiasm. We waited a bit, but it looks like a warm front was settling in for an all day drizzle. We did get out the umbrella and hiked all of this campground; the day use area, the boat launch, the fishing pier and all of the campground loops. Eventually we holed up in our “RV,” Little Blue, for some serious reading, knitting, writing and web-site authoring.

July 19, 2004. Now in Missoula Montana. Here are a couple new photos. One photo is a panorama of our camp setup at Sibley Lake in the Wyoming Big Horn Mountains. The second is Judy wiggling her toes in the wild flowers on top of Bald Mountain. We stopped to see “Medicine Wheel,” a Native American archeological site. We did a three mile walk to the site, which is near where this photo was taken, and all of this at nearly 10,000 feet elevation. Our sea-level lungs were working hard in the thin air. The next event this day was a 20 mile decent from these high altitudes. Most of this was a ten percent grade. Love this regenerative braking. The gas tank nearly overflowed by the time we got down. As soon as we get the patent work done we will send each of you a kit. (Oh yes, anyone have use for a bridge in New York City?)

July 20, 2004. We drove to Lewiston Idaho and settled into Hells gate State park for two days. Gary’s Sister, Holly, drove down and camped alongside us. We rode 35 miles on the Green Belt trails around Lewiston and Clarkston. We liked the ones in Clarkston best of all.

July 22, 2004. We are now in Spokane, actually Newman Lake Washington, staying with Gary’s Sister, Holly. Check out the photo of Holly’s neighbor, an Osprey.

We enjoyed several restful days in Spokane, (actually Newman Lake near the Idaho border.) and on July 26, 2004 we continued toward our starting point. We stayed overnight in Viento State Park. This park is sandwiched between I-84 and the BNSF railway in the Columbia River Gorge. It is a popular windsurfer destination, and we spent some time watching the action. I still think I like my sailing enclosed and well protected from the water. After supper and smores we settled down for a nice quiet night of trucks on one side and nine trains on the other side.

Closing the loop:

We completed the loop, returning to Scappoose Oregon on July 28, 2004. What is new? Well just three days shi of three months after I retired, they have sold off the paper and timber divisions from Boise Cascade Corporation. Now my compatriots at St. Helens are all wondering what happens next?

What next for Judy and Gary?

We are headed for Anacortes with the sailboat for six weeks in the San Juan Islands of Washington State.

This map now shows the tent camping travels:

Travel Routes Western USA

Here are a couple of our best digital photos from the trip:

Black Hills Central Railroad

Black Hills Central Railroad, near Keystone ND.

Our Camp at Sibley Lake in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming

Camp with the tent under the awning, Bicycle in the backbround.

Judy wriggeling her toes in the wild flowers near Medicine Wheel in Wyoming

Judy at the 10,000 ft evel in the Big Horn Mountains.

On the Move Again:

After spending three very lazy days at my sister’s place on Newman Lake in Spokane, we are getting underway again. Judy and I visited with my Dad, Chester, a couple times. When we arrived for our first visit we were looking for Dad’s room. As we walked down the hallway we spied the rear end of a small pony sticking out of one of the rooms. Read More »

The night at the motel that just didn’t happen:

We caught a severe weather warning for central Montana on the radio of Friday afternoon. That gave us the brilliant idea that now was the time to do a motel room. Our target community was Bozeman. Read More »