It’s a Wash…

After about 7000 miles, many great adventures, and a broken wrist, we have safely arrived at our winter spot in the Rio Grande Valley. We decided to hold up for a night and do laundry so it wouldn’t be hanging over our heads when we arrived. We just want to play water volleyball and ukulele, swim, take the kitties out, relax and go to Happy Hour.

We found a campground in Alice, Texas and called ahead to see if they had a laundry, the whole purpose of this stop. They had the facilities and when we we pulled into the Paisano RV Park, we asked for a spot close to the laundry. The woman running the park, Trish, was energetic, friendly and helpful. When she didn’t have a site near the laundry, she offered to carry it over in her car! She even helped me tote the first loads over.

The park was undergoing “improvements.” They were laying caliche on the sites and sprucing up the grounds. After the first few loads, while walking back to the bus, I noticed that the ground was wet where it hadn’t been before. The washers drained out directly on the ground! Great use of grey water, I guess. Put it back into the future flowerbeds.

After several loads, including the driver and passenger seat slipcovers, which really needed washing, we headed back to the bus for a late dinner. We were only about 100 miles from Edinburg with a few stock-up stops along the way. And the famous Falfurrias checkpoint.

I could not believe it when I looked at the iPad and saw that the Walmart in Falfurrias was permanently closed. We stayed there last year on our way south and I was amazed at how much diverse stuff they had packed into a very small space. It was actually one of the best Walmarts I have ever been in/stayed at. All kinds of sporting equipment, heavy on the fishing. Last year we picked up some throw rugs, electric heaters, a crockpot and other essentials for the winter.

The checkpoint was a piece of cake going south, just about 40 cameras pointed at you from both sides of the road. On the way north, they stop you and check you out. Looking for extra passengers.  I know we are just a couple of senior citizens in an RV not doing anything wrong, but I always hope the dragon and paint job doesn’t attract the wrong kind of attention. So far, so good. Thanks to Stormy for the Klingon Cloaking Device. He listened carefully.

Once we got settled in in our spot, it was time to think about washing the bus. We knew it was dirty, but did not realize it was THAT dirty! Yikes! We mixed up the winning combination of Advanage Wonder Cleaner and added Dawn, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda as an extra added stain-removing boost. Oh and Purple Power. I bought this last year at the Falfurrias Walmart and then read that it was not be be used on paint. OOPS! This year, we used it straight and added it to the mix and it was awesome! The back end of the bus. Before and After. Yikes!

I washed the windows too. So, of course, it rained the next day.

As our friend LeRoy said, “Just a gentle rinse.”



South to San Antonio

When we arrived in San Antonio the weather was hot and so was the traffic. Texans love their cars. And pickup trucks. We needed to get some supplies, then we were on to the Elks Lodge conveniently located near the Leon Creek Greenway bike trail. This part of the award winning San Antonio Greenway system trail is 35 miles. It cooled off nicely the following day and we hit the trail. Nice to see the live oaks again.
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We saw about a dozen deer total, some small and not-so-small bucks included. In the heart of San Antonio.

Leon Creek is one of those deadly central Texas waterways that can rise fast and furious during heavy rain. We saw some of the evidence from the recent “rain events” that we were determined to avoid in our travels south. We don’t need to be someplace where it rains nine inches in a day.
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The trails are built along the flood plains and they have an extensive system, thanks to Howard Peak, a former city planner and mayor who championed the cause for many years in his different roles with the city. Good job, Howard. There are 100 miles of smooth concrete trails and we rode the entire length of this 30 mile stretch. Some of the specifics:
We were right by The Shops at La Canterra so we headed over to the Apple Store to look around and hit Happy Hour. I must be getting old or something because the music was so LOUD in both the Apple Store and the restaurant! It did not make me want to linger and shop; I just wanted to get out of there. No Apple Watch for me this time. We were in a large shopping center with lots of restaurants and people, the kind of place we hardly ever go. When we got back to the bus and heard about the Friday 13th shootings in Paris, we realized a place like that could be a good target, especially during holiday shopping. Ugh.

The day before we left, another trailer pulled into the Elks and the guy must not have had much experience parking; he was all over the place. To the point that I had to get out and make sure he wouldn’t hit the bus. It took him about an hour to finally get it backed in. There was plenty of room on the other side of him, not sure why he needed to be so close to us; they even moved our cone. I think he just got tired of backing up and not getting it right so he gave up. And they had four giant dogs in there with them so no more kitty outings. One of those times we were glad to be leaving the next morning.

Heading south for the winter. One more stop to do laundry and stock up on groceries and we will be parked for a while.


Lake Mineral Wells State Trailway

We took off for Mineral Wells, Texas knowing we were heading to a state park on a Friday. Without a reservation. Mineral Wells has a 22 mile scenic bikeway and is on our way south. We had been having pretty good luck with no reservations in the state parks since November started. OOPS! Once we arrived, we saw a sign that said Campground Full. And of course we didn’t have a reservation. We knew there were other options though.

We headed right up the road to the Eagle’s Nest RV Park which afforded spectacular views of the valley below. A fabulous sunset every night.
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And we were Under God.
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We used to call these double exposures.

The lady who owns the park, Bev had a kitty named Allie, who “thinks she’s a big kitty.” We had to watch for Allie when taking ours out.

Jim’s three month recovery period since surgery was just about over so he got to ride this trail and it was a very good one. Crushed chat surface with arching trees and fall color. A really good 25 miles.
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Happy Trails!
On to San Antonio to ride the 35 mile long Leon Creek Greenway.


“Well, THAT Was a Really Good Stop”

“This was a good stop.”

That’s what we say while we are packing it up from about almost every place we have been. There haven’t really been any places that were terrible and many stops we have added extra days. Or longer, like Astoria. It’s nice to be able to do that, even if sometimes short notice doesn’t fit with friends’ plans. We have missed a few people because of that but we will make sure not to next time.

We had planned to drop down from Colorado to New Mexico and over to Texas, but if we could, we wanted to get in some time with Dos Okies, longtime friends we met in Mexico. We traveled back and forth between Oklahoma and Kansas visiting until we took off in the bus. They came down to Texas last winter and we had a great visit. Time for another one!

We knew they had a reunion when we were heading that way and we were happy to dawdle a few days, especially since the Royals were in the World Series and we wanted to watch every one of those extra innings.We found one of those small, long-termer parks in Woodward, Oklahoma where we selected a site with a clear satellite shot and conveniently across from an underground tornado shelter.
Welcome to Oklahoma! We settled in to watch the game. Royals win! Now we know we have to watch the next game; that could be the end of it.

Figuring that Janelle and Bill might like a night off before entertaining again, we planned to watch Game 5 in Norman. We pulled into the fairgrounds in Norman and settled in. Again, in extra innings, Royals win! They took the crown! Wow.

We got together the next morning and headed to lunch straightaway at the Midway Cafe in Norman. Great sandwiches and potato salad. And soup. Old grocery store atmosphere, right on the corner in an otherwise residential neighborhood. Active  scuba divers, they swim three times a week and eat there often afterward.

That afternoon we planned our tie dying adventure for the next day. We got some 100% cotton blankets when Jim was in the hospital for his wrist surgery and even at a stressful time like that, we knew they would make great tie dye. We got three, one for the Okies. I also had a large bag of linens, napkins and stuff to dye that Janelle had stored since we sold our house and stuff. Some of the napkins were yellowed and stained, perfect candidates for tie dye. And the ironed napkins? From my Aunt Muriel who probably ironed them more than 50 years ago. Just waiting for a new lease on life.

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BEFORE and AFTER: A set of 12 napkins and a large tablecloth. The tablecloth is for another time.

Before stuff can be dyed it has to be washed since it needs to be wet for folding. It’s an involved, multi-step process.
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Bill and Jim folded the big stuff, the three blankets and other odd shirts. Bill has a very precise and recognizable style of folding and dying. It was a good choice to have he and Jim work together. Janelle and I tackled the small stuff; napkins, handkerchiefs and a few shirts. We folded and talked until lunch which was a delicious homemade gumbo and cornbread. Time to dye!
This is everything to be dyed. It may not look like much, but it all those groups of fabric have to be dyed, the dye set with soda ash, then rubber bands removed and the dye rinsed out in the sink before another wash in the machine. Whew!
Some of the results. My new favorite shirt:
One of Muriel’s hankies. Several one-of-a-kind items have special stitching and sewn designs.
We weren’t sure how these placemats would turn out; they are damask and the dye took differently on each side. One of the things I love about tie dye is that you never know what the end result is going to look like until you see it. Like watching the image come up on a darkroom print.
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After the tie dying and Toddy Time, Janelle showed us the quilt she made over the winter that Bill described perfectly; “This is our life.” An amazing composition of their years together, including adventures in Alaska, where they lived for about ten years. It is indescribably beautiful and so meaningful. I have seen a lot of T-shirt quilts but none so lovingly detailed as this.
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Playa Sonrisa is where we met these guys. And other good friends too.

That was a full day! We were all exhausted, especially Janelle, who did the washing, a bunch of folding, dye mixing and overall supervision. Not to mention cooking delicious meals along the way. We had lots of dye left over so we had another mini-session the next day after a Mexican lunch. Lots of hostess gifts to share on the road. Then an impromptu happy hour with their good friends, John and Carol, who we really enjoyed meeting and getting to know. John is an Okie who has also lived in Alaska, like Bill and Janelle. He is a contractor and an enthusiastic fossil hunter and paleontologist. He has a whole building filled with interesting stuff.  Carol is a New Yorker who moved from Brooklyn Heights 10 years ago to marry John and make their home in the countryside outside Norman. They were interested in seeing the bus and we made plans for them to come out in the morning before we took off.

The next morning was Oklahoma Ominous. The weather called for severe thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes. Fun! Bill and Janelle showed up to say goodbye too just as John and Carol arrived. After the bus tour (which doesn’t take long…) it started pouring down rain and hailing. The tornado warnings were still in effect and we figured we best stay another night. It is nice not to have obligations or reservations. We broke out a bottle of wine and continued our conversation. But not before we took some group selfies.

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The weather broke and  Carol suggested that we all come to their house for lunch. Everybody heartily agreed and we took off for their place in the country for a fabulous impromptu meal of sandwiches, salad, dessert, and of course, wine. We enjoyed their company immensely and are thrilled to count them as new friends.
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We had a fine lunch. They showed us their house and John’s shop. He has a good garage where he works on all his many projects.
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Some of his paleontological finds:
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I gave Carol one of the tie dyed hankies we had done and she just sent me a note that she figured out what to do with it. I guess she won’t be blowing her nose on it! Looks good in her crystal vase though and optimally displayed. Clever girl!
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The view from the back of John’s shop where he is building a deck. The light was beautiful.
What a fun time we had! We always love seeing the Okies and we had the bonus of meeting our new friends John and Carol. We are looking forward to many more get-togethers in the future. I know I say this a lot, but we really love you guys!

Now THAT was a really good stop!

Lots more pictures on Flickr.


It’s Good to Have a Plan…

From Denver the plan was to drop due south and boondock at the Elks Lodge in Santa Fe for a few days. As Jim says, “It’s good to have a plan.” We figured we would eat and drink our way across New Mexico again and head for Oklahoma and Texas. It is still raining in the Rio Grande Valley so we aren’t in any particular hurry but we thought it would be warmer!  We’ve been pretty much winging it since April, especially after we left Oregon and the seasons started to change.

“Where are we going tomorrow?”

“I don’t know. Let’s look for a state park.”

Jim had worked on the AquaHot while we were in Denver and thought he got it going right; gotta have the AquaHot to boondock. We went to Trinidad Lake State Park where we had a great but not very level spot. Two of the campgrounds were closed for the season. Yikes! Better get moving.
Some views from the bus
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Except the AquaHot was on the fritz again. A diesel leak and venting problem reappeared like the day after he fixed it! So he adjusted it so it wouldn’t leak diesel all over the bay and he can take it apart and fix it once we get to Texas for the winter. But for now that means no boondocking since the diesel side of the hot water and heat would be out of commission and we can’t run the generator all night long. .

Carmella in the wild
What are you doing out there without me?

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So we turned east and are currently hunkered down in Guymon, Oklahoma at the Corral Drive-In and RV Park. We have been to Guymon before, in Jim’s newly restored 1963 Falcon Sprint convertible. Fifteen years ago. We may adjust our “plan” and drop south to Amarillo and beyond.

But that’s not till tomorrow because it has been pouring down rain here all night and day. Instead of driving, we are holding off. The plan could easily change. Meanwhile, we have 50 amps of power and we are cozy and dry with a big pot of spaghetti on the stove. I am fooling around with pictures and cooking. Jim is playing the ukulele and the kitties are curled up together. Game Three of the World Series is on tonight. The liquor cabinet is stocked and we have plenty of ice.

Life is good.

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Here’s Ronnnnie!

Ronnie Crawford is a busy guy. He doesn’t read our blog but we like him anyway. When we landed at Falcon Central in Denver, we commenced to catching up and he would ask us stuff about our travels or Jim’s wrist. Stuff that we had written about, partly because sometimes you don’t want to have to tell the same story a million times. So, of course I teased him mercilessly whenever a topic would come up. My answer: “It’s on the blog.” His: “I don’t have time for that.”

He arranged bus parking right in front of his house in Denver and we fell right back into good conversation with a longtime friend. We met in 1995 at a Falcon (car) show in Springfield, Missouri. We had become members of the Falcon Club of America and Jim was restoring his 1963 Sprint convertible.
This is it after he finished it and we drove it up Pikes Peak.

We decided to see what this car show thing was all about. And to buy parts, naturally. Knowing he was in full restoration mode, the vendors loved seeing Jim approach.

Ronnie had his 1964 Falcon wagon loaded up with parts and we chatted briefly. Car people love to talk and he was no exception. It became clear we were like-minded folks and got to know each other better over the years. He wrote lots of knowledgeable articles about Falcon Racing history and evolved from sending them handwritten with a pencil to shooting off long and well-tooled emails for his stories. Gotta love progress.

At the first banquet we attended, I didn’t know what to expect. To me, “banquet” meant dressy. I soon found that the car show dress code is more relaxed. That night, Ronnie appeared in standout sartorial splendor in a vintage suit, light green, I believe. Everything from hair to shoes was rockin’ retro and it all worked. I don’t remember what anybody else wore, including myself. He stood out in the crowd.

I soon found that he was the proprietor and driving force behind All American Vogue, a sprawling vintage wonderland with everything from furniture,  lamps, accessories and clothes. All beautifully and artfully arranged and presented. A photographer’s dream. And a shopper’s too.

We became good friends and visited back and forth. He drove a 1957 Fairlane wagon that he brought to our house once in Kansas. He still has it.

He met us in Colorado the very first day we drove the bus on our own and brought flowers from his garden. He was driving a 1963 Sprint then. He still has that too. He now drives a ’63 hardtop. He still has the ’64 wagon too. We parked behind it. He has several others too.
The beat goes on. The store closed but Ronnie is an avid urban fisherman with the South Platte River right behind his house. He gardens and keeps bees. He is a kitty lover and captures feral cats, gets them fixed and released back. He is the longtime bartender at the Skylark Lounge where they always have dance bands. He is involved in his neighborhood association and rightfully proud of his house, neighborhood and city of Denver. It’s always Halloween at Ronnie’s house.
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Not only is the South Platte River right behind his house, so is an extensive bike trail system. I took off one day on the trail. It was smooth and beautiful as long as it lasted but they are doing a lot of work on the river and it’s flow so large sections were detoured. The streets all have bike lanes but the trucks and traffic in the industrial area it routed through were not like the scenic South Platte. I got in about 15 miles before heading back.

We had a great visit. The last day we headed to the light rail and went to eat at the Mercury Cafe.
Having watched Kansas City go through a ludicrous series of maneuvers over the years to derail light rail, it was great to see a city that totally embraces it and has over 47 miles of track. You can put your bike on the train. Kansas City is so proud of themselves for having a much-delayed, over-budget TWO miles of track, not yet in use. Two. There is a station right near Ronnie’s house and we hopped on.
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The Mercury Cafe is an example of sustainability and re-use, everything from solar panels to recycled grey water. Pretty cool inside and out. The chef, Gypsy, came to our table. He is a friend of Ronnie’s and a fellow fisherman. He sent us out some delicious goodies and the omelet I ordered lasted me three meals. It was rich and delicious and so were the Bloody Marys. Thanks Chef!
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More Mercury Cafe:
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Denver had a hard frost that night and we said our goodbyes the next morning. It is bittersweet to say goodbye but we are always grateful for the opportunity to get together. Good friends are hard to find. Let yours know that you care about them.

We love you Ronnie, but winter is coming!
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The sky outside South Fox Falcon Central.

More photos on Flickr.

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The Grandest Junction of Friends

Next stop Grand Junction, Colorado. Not only do our good friends Ted and Ramona, live there, world-class bike trails are everywhere. Good long ones!

It was an easy drive from Steineker Lake to their personal RV spot in their driveway. Before we knew it, we were plugged in, hooked up, set up and enjoying a glass of wine together. We had lots of catching up to do, new plans and projects to hear about, and several wineries to visit.

Let me just say that they have a great place to live on a small courtyard with good neighbors. Everybody has keys to each others’ houses. They borrow cups of milk and eggs back and forth. They have a small flower garden and backyard chicken coop tucked away behind the garage. Their home is comfortable and welcoming with an indoor/outdoor atmosphere due to the small screened-in patio right off the kitchen/dining room. We traipsed around like we owned the place, at their insistence. Sheila and Gracie, the two resident kitties were much better about meeting strangers than ours are. We actually got to pet them! Plus the weather was perfect all week long. We celebrated our anniversaries and Ted’s birthday together.

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Ted has a garage, several actually, that most guys would commit crimes for. He also has a vast upstairs enclave, Man Land, where he displays his many firefighting and law enforcement memorabilia and keeps himself busy with several small businesses, including penny stamping and book writing. He is a prolific writer with the technical knowledge to back it up. And, oh yeah, he is retired. Ha!

Ramona is a large dynamo in a small package. She still works at a busy orthopedic practice. We have had some experience with orthopedics lately. She will be retiring in July and they will continue to pursue their many local interests as well as travel in their newly acquired travel trailer. They moved to Colorado from California and tend to gravitate toward Oregon and Northern California so we will likely meet up sometime, somewhere. Ramona is one of those great cooks who makes everything look effortless and we enjoyed several memorable meals with good company. This, after making it clear that they did not have to entertain the transients.

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We took a few field trips around the area, where we had practiced bus driving after we picked up the bus. The Colorado National Monument is five minutes from their house and a haven for hikers, bikers and photographers.

The small town of Palisade is a fertile agricultural valley beneath the imposing Bookcliff Mountains, the only mountain range in the northern hemisphere that runs east and west instead of north and south. They grow all types of fruit, apples, peaches, grapes for wine and lavender. Did I mention there are several wineries there? We even visited a little alpaca farm where Mike, the gracious alpaca farmer spent some time telling us about the operation. Too bad they didn’t have any sweaters, I definitely would have bought one!
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We have said it before, but one of the best unanticipated things about traveling is having locals show us around the area. Not only do we get to see the best local attractions, we are chauffeured about by friends, chatting up a storm all the way, soaking up the area history. Ted and Ramona have lived in Grand Junction for about 12 years and have carved out a great life there. Their observations and explanations of the things we saw and visited were invaluable and a much appreciated introduction to the area.

And the bike trails! The Colorado River trail is less than a mile from their house and goes for miles in both directions. All the streets have dedicated bike lanes too. I should have moved to the west 40 years ago. Jim is still not riding his bike so I headed out on a couple of gorgeous fall days to explore this tremendous resource.
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I met Nancy, an en plein air painter the first day on the trail. She is the one who told me about the four prehistoric types of fish that are threatened, of course. They normally live in the backwaters of the Colorado River where their habitat is being destroyed by scheduled dam releases that dry up the habitat. I saw a sign later that said they were addressing that by controlling the releases so the backwaters are healthy. The pikeminnow can be six feet long and weigh 60+ pounds. She said she had seen them.
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This is an example of a large and healthy backwater I saw the second day on the trail. The air was crisp, the wind was blowing and a man I saw on a bridge said “Winter is coming!” He was right. So much color on the river.
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The trail itself is fabulous, a smooth concrete surface that has just enough twists and turns to make every vista interesting. Clean benches and places to stop. I hope the people of Grand Junction realize what a tremendous asset this is. To everyone I met I exulted, “This is a great trail!” They probably thought I was a lunatic. Yeah, Duh.

Finally it was time to say our bittersweet goodbyes. Ramona tried her pouty best to get us to stay longer but we can feel the cold moving in. On to Denver. But not before taking some photos reminiscing about our time together then and now and how far the bus and our friendship has come. Both good for a million miles. Lots more miles to go.

October 20, 2015
May 28, 2010

Leaving Grand Junction, we drove the exact route we did our first day alone in the bus in 2010, east on Highway 70 through Vail Pass and the Eisenhower/Johnson Tunnel at 11,000 feet. Thank goodness it wasn’t snowing that first day! We had stopped early the night before our final ascent so we could watch the Royals in the ALCS and that worked out fine except for a couple of things.
1) They lost.
2) The next morning the rain turned into snow and the highway was closed.

We waited a few hours, got the word that the way was open (Thank Al Gore for the internet!), fueled up and headed up the hill. Jim drove both times and he said it was actually better this time, even with the snow and the foggy visibility. We also have jake brakes now which we did not in 2010. And more miles under our belt, all with Captain Ted talking in our ears. In a good way.
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And, thanks to Ted and Ramona, we also have the best of friends, the kind you just pick right back up with and say, “OK, where were we?”

What can we say? Thank you and we love you. 


More photos on Flickr.


Our Idaho and Utah State Parks

We really want to love the state parks. From experience, we have learned to stay out of them on the weekends. That is when everybody loads up all the kids, the dogs, the bikes, all their stuff, and goes “camping.” Air conditioners in tents, flat screen TVs; stereo systems; we’ve seen some amazing sights on the weekends in the state parks. Now that the summer is over and school back in session, they are delightful and quiet and deserted during the week. With good places for the kitties to go on safari too.

After we finally left Oregon, we found a state park in Glenns Ferry, Idaho where three islands in the Snake River made for an easier crossing for folks traveling the Oregon Trail in the 1840s and ’50s. From some of the lore in the exhibit, it still wasn’t exactly an easy crossing. They waited for the river to be at its lowest, in July and August. Then they put the women on the tallest horses to ride across. The horses were still up to their necks in water. The carts and mules had a rougher time. One account told of the cart tipping over with the mule team upside down in the river. Only fast action cutting the reins kept the mules from drowning. You lose your mules in that part of Idaho, along with your supplies and you are toast.

It was here that I started getting up earlier so I could photograph the sunrise.

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We were parked right on the Snake River.
We stayed at Three Island for four nights. then moved on to Steineker Lake State Park. Along the way we passed Starvation Reservoir.
Steineker Lake was really low, I walked down to the water’s edge and it looked like it could easily have been eighty feet to the high water mark.
Our view from the bus:
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Fall is coming. From here we are heading to Grand Junction, Colorado to visit our friends Ramona and Ted. Captain Ted is the one who taught us to drive the bus about five years ago. Time to catch up with our good friends.


Tale of Two Trails

After we left Astoria, we headed a ways down the road to Vernonia, Oregon where Jim had found a lovely 21 mile bike trail. He hasn’t ridden his bike again since he broke his wrist, but he thoughtfully scoped this out so I could ride. We found one of those long-termer trailer parks right on the trail and I spent a glorious two days riding as much of the trail as I could. It was a very smooth paved surface. Ha! Enjoy it while it lasts! Another plus: Oregon State Parks don’t allow smoking and there are no trash cans; pack in, pack out.

Banks-Vernonia Trail

The loop around Vernonia Lake was closed due to construction but that only cut off a couple of miles. Heading toward Banks, fall was in the air.

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This is a lovely crossing but don’t be fooled. The hills behind these trees were clearcut.
One section near Banks had an interesting series of 11% grade switchbacks. Looking down…
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There were both an excellent Greek and Mexican restaurant in town so we took advantage of them. Again in Oregon, the Holland of dahlias, we enjoyed several large gardens of unusual varieties.
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After a couple of days, we packed it up and headed to Idaho to ride the Weiser River Trail. We had a great parking spot for the bus in a small campground near Cambridge and it was just a short ride to the trail. Our view from the bus:


Weiser River Trail
I had read the reviews on Trailink and knew not to expect a smooth surface. I headed north along the Weiser River toward Council. Turned out the reviews were right. Between the many large cow plops and the equally sized large rocks, it was an exercise in concentration, to say the least. At one point I considered turning back, then decided to make it into a Zen activity. If you look far enough ahead to plot your course along the rocks and cow mounds, it becomes much more relaxing and fun. I stopped frequently to take photos because…


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For hours I did not see a single soul. No humans, no livestock, no birds, no chipmunks, nothing. I finally did see a cow after his bellow almost made me crash my bike after such silence.
There were some cattle gates to open and close and some sections of the trail were better than others. Every once in a while I came to a good enough section that I kept going. I knew I was going to have to ride back the same way, but going over it the second time is always easier. Good thing. This picture sort of gives you an idea of the general rocky surface. Shoulda taken one of the cow plops and larger rocks too.

After about thirteen miles I figured I better head back. I started seeing some riders, lots of them were stopped to fix flats. Not surprising because of all the sharp rocks. It turned out there was an all day event on the trail and they were returning from Council.

Once I got back to Mundo Springs, I wasn’t quite ready to quit riding so I decided to ride on into Cambridge. The surface was a little bit better here but not much. I turned around to take a picture, saw this and headed back.

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It didn’t storm but certainly made the sky pretty. The next day I rode on the paved roads for about 15 miles before getting on the trail and heading toward Cambridge. They actually had a couple miles of the trail paved but it quickly petered out. Ate lunch by the river and headed back to the bus. An ideal day.

What a great trail! Even though it was rocky, the countryside made it totally worth it. I would recommend this trail to anybody who loves, in this order: nature, bicycling, conscious concentration, photography and solitude. Some of my favorite things! When I got back to the bus, my very favorite things were waiting: Jim, kitties, cocktails and dinner.

After wrapping up these trails, we are moving on to Three Island Crossing State Park in Idaho on the Snake River. More river biking awaits!

A final look at the Weiser River…
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More pics on Flickr.


Adios Astoria

After spending exactly six weeks in Astoria after Jim broke his wrist, it’s time to move on. We actually could not have been “stranded” in a better place, the north coast of Oregon in September is spectacular. Not to mention all the great seafood; oysters, salmon, black cod and halibut. We stocked up on smoked fish before our planned departure and were lucky enough to hook up with one of the fisherman in our “man camp” who supplied us with a lovely 15 pound salmon for the freezer. And our bellies.

We were so fortunate to be able to land at such a busy time of year in what turned out to be a really great spot, for us and the kitties. We were sheltered from the wind by the greenhouse and the kitties had a big yard to explore. Once the fishing season wound down, most of the fishermen’s trailers left and we had an unobstructed view of the golf course where the ever-changing sky was a spectacle in itself. I will do a post on our spot soon but here are some samples of the views we enjoyed.
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A gorgeous double rainbow after a storm. Just grab the camera and shoot away almost anytime.
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And the night before we left, the blood moon lunar eclipse…
lunar eclipse
Our spot in the “man camp” was sheltered from the wind by the vacant greenhouse. The greenhouse was also a good place to practice hot yoga.  
Astoria has lots of charm and we tried to soak up as much as we could.

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Except for the one day delay in his surgery, the hospital staff, administrators and doctors were top notch and his therapy went smoothly. Again, we were lucky to land in a place where all the stars aligned. Even the night he broke his wrist, it turned out we were just a couple of blocks away from the Emergency Room.

We were pronounced good to go and after a final dinner at the Mexican restaurant and the lunar eclipse, we got ready to hit the road for Vernonia. Even though Jim can’t ride his bike yet, there is a nice long trail there that I plan to explore in this glorious weather.

Adios, Astoria… Until we meet again. The universe has been good to us here.

More pics on Flickr. Lots more.