September 23rd, 2018

Adventure, Just things, Outdoors, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

This was my last night camping so I decided to have a campfire. Oh what the heck. I have not had a fire mesmerize me in a while and it was nice. Staring at a fire is one of those magical things. I can get totally lost in thought watching a campfire. I contemplated many things in between those blanks staring at that fire tonight as one is prone to do with a fire.

Having the trailer sure makes it easy to go and see places and do things much the way I did when I would tent camp. I still travel with few frills, stay in primitive campgrounds…simple, inexpensive and very enjoyable travel with no plans. I spend the money to go more often and buy very few souvenirs when I am out. I am not cheap…I just don’t buy stuff like that and I never really have.

Last night I decided to just head on home and it ended up being a good thing. I had a lot of things to take care of – washing the salty film off of the truck and trailer, laundry, some cooking, and working on some other things around the house. I wanted to avoid traffic but heading up 101 into Oregon I got caught in the weekly US101 Boat and RV Show – a parade of slow-moving rubberneckers who refuse to pull over to let people by. I actually ended up biting the bullet and came back through Portland. I ended up being able to avoid most of the traffic going through McMinnville. It was still faster but the traffic was not as bad this time.

This has been a nice adventure and it was badly-needed. I could really tell last week that I was ready to hit the road and realized Monday that I really needed to get away more than I thought. By the end of the work day I couldn’t get home fast enough to wrap things up to go. I have been able to relax and see some new places. I finally got to see Crater Lake – something I have wanted to see since I was a kid.

See you next time!

September 21st, 2018

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

Slept like a rock last night and ready for the day after a nice, long hot shower. Time to head out of the KOA.

 “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it” – George Santayana

My first destination was not very far so I got a leisurely start to Tulelake, CA. I’m headed to see WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument Tule Lake Unit. This is the second one of these I have been to (the other was Hart Mountain in WY).  They are not only quite sobering, but embarrassing and shameful.  There are two parts to this historic site but I only visited one of them this time – Camp Tule Lake. I drove past Segregation Camp on my way out of town and will come back another time to see that.

I began my visit by stopping at the fairgrounds office, which has a small visitor center (for the camp) in it along with a museum containing local history about the camp, battles with native peoples and farming. Outside they have one of the housing buildings and a guard tower on display. That’s a pretty somber thing to see.

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Guard tower from Tule Lake concentration camp

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Exterior of concentration camp barracks relocated to museum grounds

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This space was for a family of four

While looking at the buildings I met a guy working on the fairgrounds on the other side of the fence. He was telling me that they are expecting over 500 immigrant farmworkers to come in to dig up all the strawberry plants in the fields around the area so they house them in buildings on the fairgrounds. They ship them off and transplant them elsewhere to grow the fruit. The season is too short here to keep them going and I guess it gets bad in winter and kills the plants so they transplant them.

He was telling me that there are not enough people to hire locals and it is only for a month or so. Either they don’t want to work or it is not worth quitting other jobs to do that for only a month.

I then drove over to Camp Tule Lake to see it but it was closed off and I had to look from a distance. They offer tours of the compound in summer but they are done for the season.

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Camp Tule Lake

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Camp Tule Lake

I found it interesting that the Japanese prisoners (and later German and Italian POWs) were used as slave labor to farm since the local men were over fighting the war and crops needed to be tended to by someone. All I knew of was the other immoral and disgusting behavior behind this rounding up of human beings for simply being “different”.

Just down the road is Lava Beds National Monument, my next stop.

This whole area is desert-like with scrubby brush and grasses and some trees. In the Monument there are sprawling lava fields and lava tube caves you can go in. So that’s what I did.

I went into a cave called “Catacombs” and it was eerie. I got inside and turned off my lights. It was way beyond dark inside. I didn’t go very far in because I came up to a spot that had a pile of rock from a collapsed section of the ceiling of the tube. I decided that was not for me and turned around. On the way out the ranger at the gate told me that they have found over 800 of these caves and 13 or 14 new ones this year alone.

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Catacombs lava cave entrance

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Collapsed ceiling in Catacombs lava cave – I’m out

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Inside Catacombs lava cave looking out

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Collapsed lava tube

Next I went over to the Petroglyphs section of the Monument. I looked and there does not appear to be many of the petroglyphs left with the weathering that is attributed to draining Tule Lake down to gain more farmland. They say it has uncovered more ground the blows around and erodes the soft rock they are carved in. Not really much carving to see from where I was.

I left to head further south into CA. It was strange to be going down the road and seeing highway signs for Reno and Winnemucca, NV and San Francisco. I really haven’t driven that far but it ends up I am only a few hours from Reno.

That’s all for this post. More tomorrow!

September 20th, 2018

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

Yesterday morning I took off on the first day of my latest adventure. As usual, I’ll be delaying these posts for my privacy.

I got out of the house at a decent time yesterday morning. After a few errands I hit the road and headed south. Along the way I had the usual questions about the trailer from people when I stopped. I also got a thumb’s up from someone on the highway. It tends to turn a few heads for some reason.

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So THAT’S how it gets around…

I thought Denver traffic was bad but then I came to Seattle. Seattle traffic sucks. And then…there is Portland traffic. Jeezus…how the hell do you people deal with it? It sucks no matter the time of day. Do all of you drive at the same time?!?! And fix that damn bottleneck where I-5 narrows down from three lanes to two as you are getting into downtown from the north.

I was almost out of downtown and then there was the sound of crunching metal – like a large beer can being squished. I saw it happen two lanes over from me. A lady, perhaps she missed her turn or was texting, hit the divider where the highway splits. I saw the car bounce and the brake lights flashing when she hit. Airbag deployed. SURPRISE!!!

One of two covered bridges in Lowell, OR

I got off I-5 at Eugene and headed SE along highway 58. It is a beautiful drive and is worth the trip off the interstate. I ended up getting to Cascara campground in Fall Creek State Park near Lowell. OR around 5 or so. I had a relaxing, leisurely evening. It was a nice park and there were only three or four sites taken. They had no water due to well issues so if you are headed there make plans for that.

The campground is right on the lakeshore and direct access to the beach. Well…kinda:

Dry lakebed at Cascara campground in Fall Creek State Recreation Area

The stairs in that picture actually lead down to the swim beach and what you see in the distance should all be under water up to the gravel beach seen between the railings. It is late in the year so runoff has slowed to a trickle, but the other part of the equation is the Corps of Engineers is working on the dam so they had to let a bunch of water out. There was NO water in sight from the campground and the meadow you see in the picture has been there only since June. It was still a beautiful place to look at and a nice campground to stay in.

I woke up at my usual 5:00 A.M. and had a nice mellow morning before I hit the road again. The drive down 58 and then highway 62 was so beautiful, but then I was totally awestruck by what I saw next.

Crater Lake National Park.

Man…what a beautiful place. A steep, gorgeous drive to the top of the crater and along the rim then back down the other side. That first view of the lake was simply stunning. It is so much bigger than what I ever imagined and the water was incredibly blue. As you can see by the pictures it was a beautiful day and it ended tip being perfect up on top. Another achievement on my bucket list!

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Crater Lake panorama

Closeup of blue watrer around Wizard Island - Crater Lake NP

Closeup of azure-blue water around Wizard Island – Crater Lake NP

Crater Lake NP

I had thought about staying in the Mazama campground but didn’t. I did not like the campground or the prices being charged so I went on south, but I will definitely be back to explore more. There is a lot to see and do in the area and I want to take a boat over to Wizard Island. The area reminds me of Colorado in many ways and the drive all the way down here to Klamath Falls was beautiful.

I ended up in a KOA which happened to be in town but it was all that is around that was habitable. But, it IS close to shopping and I needed to get supplies anyhoo and am taking advantage of the water, electricity and the shower as well. Now that I have water in the tank I am fully self-contained and will probably dry (primitive) camp the next few nights and not stay in a KOA or similar campgrounds until my last night (to use a dump station). They are nice (so are the utilities and showers) every great once in a while but not really a place I like to stay very often. I did not bring my generator but am getting by fine without it. Next time I will but I am not really missing it too bad. I did not even have any cell service from about 3:30 yesterday afternoon until about 10:30 this morning and I lived to tell the tale.

I really prefer to stay in a Forest Service campground because they are primitive. I have always liked staying in them (as far as developed campgrounds) and I think they are the most fun and cheap. I have propane for heat and hot water and cooking, and it is a whole lot cheaper. Hauling water adds weight and drops my gas mileage a little, but I am getting an average over 12 MPG! Even not pulling the trailer I get about 16-17 so I am happy with that, especially with all the hills I have been climbing.

One thing I did when I got here was re-organize some of the previous re-organization I did in the Spring. Last night I just saw how it wasn’t going to be fully practical in everyday use so I moved a few things into a completely different spot and I think I’m getting close to finding the right combination. I need to get some more bins to organize my kitchen supplies better. I have one bin but it just isn’t enough. Perhaps I can create a divider with compartments that I can put together inside the dinette bench to better organize the stuff in there. I have thought about buying a Dremel tool set and that just might be handy for that project.

I am a little disappointed that during packing I forgot to load my guitar. I was wanting to work on some song ideas with it but I guess I can get by doing some work with instruments in Garage Band on my laptop.

So far I have had great weather and beautiful surroundings. I hope the weather holds out for just a few more days. If I stopped now I’d be happy with this adventure but there’s more. If you are looking for a great drive this is definitely one to not miss.

Tomorrow I’ll be headed off to another place so check back! For now I am off to have another local blackberry (Marionberry) hard cider – Made Marion – by 2Towns Ciderhouse. If you can find it it is worth a taste!

Say What?!?!

Adventure, Just things, Travel

On my way back from Newport the other day I saw an interesting sign near Manzanita, OR on U.S. 101. I could not get a picture of it but it really caught my eye and I had to post about it but forgot to add it in my previous post.

It was a green sign with two arrows that said “Cemetery” on the first line. The second line said “Recycling Center”. Now, whomever approved that sign should have looked at it a little closer before posting it. It may be correct grammatically but it definitely had a Soylent Green feel to it.

This Week’s Journey…

Adventure, food, Outdoors, pictures, Travel

I saw this sign on a side street as I pulled into town:

The Western end of U.S. 20 - Newport, OR

I just might have to do this one too!

Yep, my training was five horrid days spent on the ocean in Newport, Oregon. Man, what a beautiful place this is. Gorgeous ocean views and lots of food choices.

I came down the interstate and turned off where Siri told me. It ended up being a nice drive through small towns on a blue highway. Definitely a worthwhile drive if you are heading down this way.

I passed one place that caught my eye. The Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum you really cannot miss driving past. There’s a Boeing 747 sitting out front in the yard. Looking it up as I write this post, I find out that it is the home of the Spruce Goose – Howard Hughes’ famous plane. Gotta go back there and see it.

Next door is the Wings and Waves Waterpark. Apparently, one of the waterslides goes through another 747 parked on the rooftop. Wow. I bet that is pretty cool. Too bad I cannot ride that stuff any longer or I’d be all over that.

I enjoyed spectacular views the last 30 miles or so along U.S. 101 before getting to Newport. The coast is so pretty along here – rugged and impressive, with beautiful sunsets. In this area alone I saw numerous State Parks and plenty of places to park the trailer. It would be a great trip and I know it is one that many people have made due to the scenery.

My hotel was nice and I would stay there again. I was at the Holiday Inn Express in Newport. It is in a pretty convenient location but not too much for views. Rooms were clean and nice, staff was friendly, a great breakfast bar, pool, hot tub…I suffered the entire week.

The weather was nice almost every day and the one day it WAS bad, of course, we had to be out in it for training. It was a great trip and the training was very helpful in many ways. I even aced my test! It was hard being indoors sitting in class for 3½ days. I am glad to be back home and I can get back outside daily to do my job.

As far as dinners, I ate some really good food. The restaurants that have links I have linked to their websites and the one you will have to be happy with a Yelp link. I usually check Yelp for food recommendations and follow the ratings pretty closely. I don’t want to give my money to a place with bad service or food. So here we go:

I walked to the Rogue brewery and had my usual brew – a stout – and some food, which was short rib poutine. It was pretty good and quite filling even though I thought the portion was a bit small. It was a little more stout than my usual Guinness but it was a good beer. They have quite a selection and a cool industrial atmosphere.

Mmmmm...Beer

Me at the Rogue Brewery

The next night I went to Local Ocean Seafoods. I was looking for a dive but decided to try this one. It is really not my type of restaurant but it never hurts to try something new. I ended up with lingcod tacos. They were really tasty and the fish was local caught. It was cooked perfectly and the pico was fresh and delicious.

The scenery here was nice and the smells of the ocean were wonderful – fishy and salty air – that I enjoyed with every step along the boardwalk. It was great to be back near the water once again.

Bridge in Newport, ORSeal Docks - Newport, OR

I also walked to the South Beach Fish Market. Just what I love – a dive. Real down-to-earth  food that was fresh and fantastic. I got the clam strips and fries and they were nothing less than delicious.

Every Bit as Good as it Looks

Every Bit as Good as it Looks

The red stuff on the side was their own homemade cocktail sauce. They warned me it was spicy and they were not joking. It was straight horseradish with a dash of red color it seemed. Opened up my sinuses! It had a great flavor though and you know how spicy can be addictive…

As I said previously I really like the dive-type places. It’s not the prices, since dive food can be trendy and spendy in some places. It’s the atmosphere and the “realness” of the food; the “working-class” aspect of it. The South Beach Fish Market was just that as you will see if you click on the link and look at the pictures and the menu. It reminded me of the first place like that I went to in Rhode Island for seafood 30 years ago – clam fritters and fish and chips in an old converted house on a small rise looking over the Atlantic. Watching “No Reservations” for many years probably fed into my becoming somewhat a foodie and liking these types of places as well.

I also went to a place called Thai Elephant. I was tempted to go back to the South Beach Fish Market again, but I wanted to have Thai food and have something different after two straight nights of seafood (yeah…like THAT’S a problem!). They served Thai food. Surprise! I ordered my usual pad Thai with Chicken, and I also had an interesting appetizer called “Bikini Shrimp”. Oh man…

Bacon and Shrimp...What's Not to Love?!?!

Imagine if you will, shrimp wrapped with bacon and deep fried, served with a mildly sweet sauce that may have been fish sauce. There were seven of these tasty morsels to an order. The pad Thai was excellent as well and a generous portion so I left quite full.

The trip back home was north on the Oregon coast, heading from Newport to Astoria to head home. It is such a beautiful drive and I cannot wait to bring the trailer back down and spend time here leisurely driving the coast and staying along the way. It is easy to see why it is such a busy highway.

Speaking of that, if you are on a highway like this and you are holding up traffic for miles please pull over! I got stuck behind someone from another state pulling a trailer 35 MPH in a 55 zone for over an hour – possibly two. Some of us need to get places so have some courtesy.

It was a gray, misty, and beautiful drive and I got to see some new sights. I had one last meal on the road this trip at a place I stumbled across on 101 that has been around for quite some time called The Pronto Pup.

The Pronto Pup - Rockaway Beach, OR

I got a spicy one with fries, which was a chorizo corndog and it was delicious. Not overwhelmingly spicy but definitely chorizo. It was a large chorizo before it was battered and was very filling with the fries. The interior has been renovated, but a classic and a must-do!

Across the street were some railroad tracks. These paralleled 101 for several miles and earlier I saw an old steam locomotive on it. Waiting for my order I heard it so I went out and took a picture .

Steam Train - Rockaway Beach, OR

Looks like one more thing I will need to go back and do in the area! I like trains and have ridden a few old steam trains. If you really think about it, trains have never really changed since they were invented and that’s pretty fascinating.

Well, off to bed. It was a long drive and a long day.

We’ll be chatting again soon! Write if you need to!