Saturday, July 31, 2010

Port Orford's Secret

Port Orford, Oregon is a small, unassuming town located on the southern Oregon coast.  Most people quickly pass through as they travel Highway 101 missing one of the most impressive views on the Oregon coast.  Starting at the Coast Guard Museum, the Port Orford Heads State Park has trails leading out to several high viewpoints.  The weather on the Oregon coast has been unpredictable, but today the wind was relatively calm and the coastal fog lifted--allowing you to see for miles in all directions.  Along the trails are strategically placed benches donated by others who also enjoyed this view.

It is obvious not many people know about the views at the headlands.  We were the only hikers allowing us to leisurely sit and soak up the sun.  You can tell from my picture on the right that trails are carved right into the side of the steep hills. 
Today's weather put a smile on Mike's face.

Friday, July 30, 2010


I know it is a tourist trap, but we paid a visit to the West Coast Game Park today.  And we were pleasantly surprised.  They are serious when they say you walk through free roaming wildlife.  We were able to pet a lion cub, wander through llamas, rams, donkeys, goats, and reindeer.  The park has lions, tigers, snow leopards, bears, chimps, black panthers, cougars, lynx, bison, camels, zebras, elk to name a few (we didn't walk through these guys).  Notice the snarling lion cub in the picture.  This little guy was very calm as each person stroked his back, except for poor Mike.  That snarl was all for Mike.

The emus were pretty cool, too.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

White Water Thrills

What a ride!  The Rogue River trip started at Gold Beach and took us up the river 52 miles (104 miles roundtrip).  We left the dock at 8 a.m. this morning in the middle of a thunderstorm with hail, no less.  Not to worry, farther up the river the rain and hail stopped and the air became warmer, much warmer. 

In the picture on the left, we are in the fourth row from the front, far left side.  Mike is the tall dude with the gray hair and I'm the short gal with a round face (next to the rail)--smiles all around.  

Jeff, our pilot, was phenomenal.  His grandfather started the company, Jerry's Rogue Jets, and Jeff has been driving for 24 years.  And boy can he handle a boat.  After 30 miles up the river, there are a number of healthy rapids and the large jet boat (carries 35 passengers) splashed through each one.  If a rubber tarp had not been available, everyone would be soaked.  We were drenched, anyway.  (Note:  Jerry's Rogue Jet has a fleet of jet boats running up and down the Rogue River.)

The trip was not only about the thrill of the boat ride, but viewing nature at its best.  Along the way, we saw three black bears--one with two cubs--osprey, several eagles (one young eagle enjoyed flying along side the boat for a bit), otter, deer, wild cows (just kidding), and turkey vultures (not kidding--they are disgusting). 

The boat stopped for lunch at 12:30 at Singing Springs Resort.  Lunch was served on a deck overlooking the river.  Nothing fancy, a basic buffet and salad bar.  Why is it food tastes so good when you've been playing outdoors all day?

Many people have recommended this trip, including Mike's parents, and we definitely give it two thumbs up!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Beautiful Bandon By the Sea

Old Town Bandon is charming with turn of the century buildings housing lots of restaurants, art galleries, and typical beach trinket shops.  The old buildings have the wide wood planking on the floor and high ceilings--lots of character.  And I love the occasional walkway through the middle of a block styled with cobblestone, flowers everywhere in pots and window boxes, and the little shops displaying their inventory in the window.  We liked one shop in particular, C'est Vert (meaning "it's green")--we bought their wild rice (grown and packed in Oregon).  The owner, Clyde, told us about a scenic drive back to Highway 101 and a little history of the town.  After a downturn of the lumber and fishing in the area, Bandon re-invented the town.  From the looks of it, they've done a good job.

We took the drive recommended by Clyde and confirmed that Bandon has a gorgeous beach with rock "sea stacks".  You can walk to the rocks at low tide (picture upper left). 

Back at our home base in Port Orford, we discovered the view here is breathtaking.  Looking forward to our hike at Port Orford Headland State Park later this week.  It'll include more Port Orford ocean views like this one.  (picture right)

Tomorrow is a long day--the 104-mile trip up the Rogue River.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Windy Winchester Bay

Winchester Bay is now a memory; a cold, windy memory.  The place is stunningly beautiful, but holy crap is it windy, foggy and cold!  When it is 54 degrees and windy, the wind chill factor is just downright chilly.  We stayed three weeks and every day was windy with 20+ mph gusts.  The wind would calm around midnight each day, but sure enough by 9 a.m. the next morning the wind would be howling.  See...our poor gnome in the picture...he can't even stay upright.

We are now located in Port Orford, Oregon at Camp Blanco RV Park.  Cute little park and very clean, but it is tight.  Port Orford is central to several activities we want to do this week before leaving the Oregon coastline on August 2.  On Wednesday, we have a 104-mile round trip jet boat ride up the Rogue River.  The rest of the week is planned with a hike at Port Orford Heads State Park, a visit to Bandon Old Town, another hike at Humbug Mountain, a  visit to Cape Blanco lighthouse, and maybe a golf day at Bandon, Oregon.  Bandon has several well-known courses.

Should be fun (and less windy!).

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Toast to King Estate Winery

The drive to King Estate Winery near Eugene, Oregon (in the Willamette Valley) is a long, winding road through beautiful trees and pasture.   Your drive suddenly breaks out of the forest to acres and acres of vineyards.  In the middle of the vineyards, on the top of a hill you see an enormous, stunning Tuscan villa surrounded with lavender and multi-colored flowers.  A little like the Emerald City in the Land of OZ, but with grape vines replacing the poppies.  Spectacular.

Mike and I sat on the patio and enjoyed the view looking out over the vineyard while we sipped wine and waited for our lunch. I had the pinot gris and Mike had the chardonnay, both were some of the best white wine we've had in a long time.  Lunch was unbelievably good--I had smoked chicken in a wine butter sauce with local mushrooms and Mike had the hamburger.  Not an ordinary hamburger, the buns are baked at the winery, estate cured bacon and all the fixin's are bought locally.  And get this, they make their own ketchup.  I didn't want the afternoon to end. 

Oh, and the service was over the top--from the guy who got us our table (he ran to clear off the table!) to the wine tasting bar server (she was a hoot!).  Everyone made you feel welcome, comfortable, and most of all, NEVER hurried.  Of course, we bought wine!

It was my fantasy of a Tuscan afternoon in Italy.  Ahhh!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


A reader asked for some information about our rig and why and where we started our full-time experience.  I can tell from her comment that I haven't done a good job describing some of our background.  So, here goes:

Mike and I grew-up and worked in the Tri-Cities (Richland, Pasco, Kennewick), Washington.  It was a great place to grow up and we still have the majority of our family and many friends there (and we miss them, terribly).  It is not a small town; the population between the three cities is around 100,000+ so you have some good shopping and conveniences that come with a medium size city.  But, the area is a bit isolated--you drive quite a distance to get out of the desert or to a large city.   Hunting, fishing, golf and water sports enjoyed in the Columbia River are the primary sources of recreation in the immediate area (when the weather obliges).  It is considered a high desert (yes, Washington has a dry side with no trees) and the weather can be harsh--cold in the winter, extremely hot in the summer, and dust storms in the spring (picture tumbling tumbleweeds), but the fall is wonderful from the beginning of September through the end of October (that is when we plan to visit!).  We were ready for a change during our retirement, and we also knew we wanted to see and experience new parts of the country.  Full-timing in an RV was and is an economical and fun way to satisfy our wanderlust!

Our choice was to sell most everything--house, furniture and some of the toys.  For us, this decision was very freeing.  Nothing to worry about 1,000 of miles away, more disposable income on the road; and to be honest, we aren't sure where we want to end up when we do settle down again.  It works for us, but I know it is not for everyone.

After researching RVs, we decided the one for us was a 5th wheel.  It gave us more livable space than a motorhome, and we already had the truck (2004 Ford F350).  More specifically, we wanted a Doubletree Mobile Suite--it is well insulated, quality finishes (both inside and out), and structurally seemed to be very well built.  We stumbled across a new 32-foot Doubletree Mobile Suite at Russ Dean RV in Pasco, Washington the summer of 2008 and it was listed at a great price.  Most folks want a 36-foot, but really the 32-foot is all we need.  Plus, we did not want to overtax the truck with too much weight. 

So, there you have it.  In future entries, I'll describe how we decided to furnish our RV, organizing, and our favorite technology on the road.

Today, we found a nice trail around Lake Marie (see picture above) not too far from our RV park at Winchester Bay.  Hiking in the woods gave us a reprieve from the windy bay--very calm among the trees. 

We're very happy with our new lifestyle.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Making Life A Little Easier

Our Splendide combo washer-dryer is one of the best things we bought for life on the road.  Laundromats are expensive, time-consuming and who knows what was in the wash before our load.  With a washer-dryer in our RV, we can simply throw a load in, add detergent/softener, set the controls, and fo'giddaboutit. This unit washes AND dries--automatically.  Unbelievably, it is also quieter and gentler on our clothes.  Great purchase.

We purposely lived in our 5th wheel for five months before we hit the road; the time gave us a chance to organize, purge items we really didn't need, and buy what we did need.  One of the "needed" items was the washer-dryer and we were able to have the unit installed prior to leaving.  Our 5th wheel has a closet with the appropriate plumbing and sized exactly to fit a Splendide washer-dryer.  And we still have room above to use as a coat closet.  Perfect! 

Another walk on the Oregon Coast beach today.  Lots of sunshine and the water sparkles like diamonds. And a clean, dry load of whites when we arrived home!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I Found It!

What is geocaching?  Definition from Wikipedia:  Geocaching is an outdoor activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver to seek containers (called "geocaches" or "caches") anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container (usually a tupperware container or ammo box) containing a logbook. Larger containers can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little value. Geocaching is most often described as a "game of high-tech hide and seek".  Geocaches are currently placed in over 100 countries around the world and on all seven continents, including Antarctica. After 10 years of activity there are over 1 million active geocaches.

Mike claims I've entered a higher level of geek-ness with our new found hobby of geocaching.  I can't help it.  I get a rush when I find the cache!  After some research and getting familiar with our new hand-held GPS, we finally ventured out to three locations today, all within a mile walking distance from our park.  The first cache was found by a tree under some rocks, the other in a hole under a large rock, and the last location we could not find it.  We've been back twice, but no luck.  The GPS puts you almost on top of the location--almost.  It is more like a 24-foot radius you need to search. 

The most-used website gives you the locations (latitude, longitude, and a google map) with particular clues.  People get really creative when they hide the cache, the clever clues they give out, and then finders will write with a review of the "hide".  What is so great about the search is it takes you places you wouldn't normally seek out which is really fantastic when you are exploring new parts of the country. 

This is just so cool. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bee Movie

The Myrtlewood Gallery looks to be a small shop from the outside, but when you walk through the door, you are amazed at the volume and variety of "things made of wood".   There are a number of fine art woodworkers selling in the gallery with everything from small wooden spoons to rocking chairs. My favorites included a floor lamp shaped in art deco style, a coffee table shaped as a crab pot with a carved octopus inside, and wall art textured as coral and fish.  There was so much, it was difficult to take it all in.  So much imagination and talent.

A short walk from the Myrtlewood Gallery is the The Bee Hive.  Once inside the store, we quickly learned there are many, many flavors of honey--blackberry honey, kvik thistle honey, Smith River berry honey--to name a few.  You're able to sample them all, and Smith River honey was our favorite.  Behind a discrete door on one wall of the shop, is a bee hive behind glass; the bees enter the glass hive through a small outside pipe.  As you leave the store and walk past the side of the building, you are blasted by the bees racing to and from the pipe.  It was like Highway 101 for bees.  There are "Bee Crossing" warning signs (which we didn't see until we were bombarded with bees).

Again, Reedsport was sunny and warm; yet two miles away Winchester Bay is foggy and windy.  It's beautiful here, but this wind has to stop.  Please.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rescue At Sea

There is a Coast Guard station located at Winchester Bay.  We often see them around this little town, but today, we got a special treat from the crew.  They were practicing their helicopter rescue right in front of our RV park.  One guy would go in the water and then another would lower down from the helicopter and pick up.  This went on for over an hour.  It was windy; but in spite of the weather, the pilot held that helicopter precisely on target.  Incredible skill. 

Sometimes the most everyday task can be difficult when you're mobile.  I took the big plunge and found a place for a haircut.  Over the last couple of days, I've been scoping out the locals for someone who had a good cut.  I finally asked a cute gal at the bank, and she recommended a salon only three blocks from our RV park!   I got a great cut and some highlights.  Yeah!  I guess it's the little things in life that can make your day.  LOL!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Umpqua, say it" Ump-kwah"

The Umpqua Lighthouse State Park is located about 6 miles south of Reedsport, Oregon.  We took the short drive to the lighthouse and viewpoint.  One of the easier lighthouses to get to and the dome was really interesting--it looked almost like Russian architecture with its onion shape.  

It is still amazing to see the huge sand dunes around here.  After doing a little "googling" on the dunes, I found that Frank Herbert based his book research for, "Dune," and its sequels on this area.  These are probably the best science fiction books of all time (my opinion).  I've read the books, seen the movie, and re-read the books.  I admit I take a geek "Dune" tour whenever we drive through the sand hills that stretch from the beach back several miles to Highway 101.

Our walk today consisted of a visit to the marina.  There are two large marinas in Winchester Bay; one is a public marina, and the other for commercial boats only.  Boats are interesting--some well cared for and others nesting material for the gulls; and if their owner is nearby, he/she is always excited to tell you all about the twin diesel engines, the maximum speed or today's catch.

These pictures are a little deceiving.  If you take the picture towards the east (which these are), it is blue sky; but a looking west, you guessed it, it is still foggy!  So strange.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Fog

The fog hovers all day here, the low clouds look like smoke weaving in and out of the RV units, keeping the temperature down to a cool 60-some degrees.  It feels good to breathe the moist clean air blown off the ocean.  I like the fog, but we've been waiting all week for a sunny day to go down to the beach.  Well, we went anyway for our daily hour walk this morning.  That was some thick fog, let me tell you.  Our hair was wet, the hair on our arms had dew, and I've never had my eyelashes so saturated before--my mascara smeared everywhere.  But, it wasn't cold; it was a warm, humid type of fog.  In a strange way, we enjoyed our walk.  It felt like you had the beach all to yourself--you couldn't see another soul.

Today, we planned spaghetti for dinner with some freshly made bread from the local bakery.  It is an easy bike ride to most everything here including the bakery, the post office, the market, a few restaurants, and gift shop.  We rode our bikes to the bakery and picked up some warm bread and garlic butter (which smelled very good on our ride back through the fog).  The bike path takes you by the marina, over a little wooden bridge and around a few small homes.  It seems very....European.  So, with that last thought I'll say, Au Revoir, until tomorrow!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Golf Fix - Reedsport, Oregon

Reedsport, Oregon has a nice 9-hole golf course called Forest Hills Country Club.  Mike took off at 10 this morning for 18 holes.  Not only was the price reasonable at $30, but the weather was sunny and warm.  Reedsport is only 2 miles from our location at Winchester Bay, but the difference in temperature is remarkable.  It can be from 5 - 10 degrees warmer in Reedsport and usually clear skies while Winchester Bay typically stays foggy until mid-morning.  The picture on the left is a deer casually eating lunch near the 5th hole.  Our home town golf courses (the dry side of Washington State) usually have wild life in the form of rattlesnakes and coyotes.  I think I like the deer better.

While Mike golfs, I'm using the time to reacquaint myself with sketching.  It has been years since I set aside time to draw and I find it very relaxing and rewarding.  I'm horrible, but I am hoping I will improve with time and practice.  I can't bring myself to sit in front of a "live" subject and draw--I'm too self-conscious.  So, I grab my trusty little digital camera, take pictures of persons, places and things that might be fun to sketch and then work from the photos.  If the drawings become recognizable, maybe I'll post one now and then.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Show Us Your Rack!

We've had plenty of occasions to see herds of elk in our home state of Washington.  They are still an awesome animal to see up close.  Just down the road from us is an elk viewing area.  It's a beautiful meadow, and it is easy to understand why the elk hang out there.  This herd was all about the guys--take a look at those racks.  Pretty impressive.

Diesel fuel has been getting cheaper since we've been on the road.  I don't get it.  You would think the BP crisis would send it the other way.  We paid $2.96 a gallon today--back in May we were paying around $3.20 a gallon.  When you are filling up a 55 gallon tank, pennies really do make a difference.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Just Dune It!

Winchester Bay RV Park is an unbelievable location--to the east is a large marina with charter boats, large yachts, small aluminum fishing boats and to the north is a large bay and the ocean to the west.  Our park (and our spot) is right in the middle of all that beauty. Great views all the way around.  There are miles of walking and bicycle trails, not many hills, all easy riding.  This place has it all for us--very clean, quiet, spectacular views, easy access to walking/hiking/riding.

This is also a mecca for dune buggies and four-wheelers--enormous sand dunes are everywhere.  About twenty-three years ago, we each had three-wheelers and we camped at Florence, Oregon not too far from here (that's me on the right riding down a big one).  Riding up and over those huge hills of sand was a hoot.  I almost wish we had some ATV's now. 

Our camp host, Don, at Premier RV at Lincoln City took a picture of us (and the Gnome) before we left yesterday.   Bye, Lincoln City.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Two Birthdays--Twice the Fun

Whenever the Fourth of July rolls around, I always get a little nostalgic. Growing up, my family lived a short distance from the high school football stadium where the fireworks display was held. On the evening of the Fourth of July, my parents would round up all five kids and gather blankets, a cooler with chilled sodas, a few gooey peanut butter sandwiches, and we would all walk, albeit slowly, to the stadium. We would lay on our little backs on that warm summer night and watch the fireworks with lots of ooohs and aaahs. And they seemed to last forever. It was wonderful.

Since those childhood days and through the years, Mike and I haven’t done much on this holiday. Occasionally, there was a short vacation including the Fourth of July; but more often than not, it was a work day following the celebration and that meant getting up early the next day. Rarely, did we drive to the firework location and stay up late to watch.

Our retirement and new lifestyle have given us the time to again enjoy this holiday. This year we’re on the Oregon Coast and fireworks light up the night sky on the beaches. Without the stress and hurry-up that goes along with a career and work-life, suddenly, I’m a kid again--enjoying the fireworks with lots of ooohs and aaahs. And it’s wonderful.

Plus, it’s my mother’s birthday (pictures of my family/mom on the right; picture of mom below--she's 77 today--doesn't she look great?). I mean, really, can you have a better day for your birthday? When she was a kid, she must have thought the fireworks were all about her. How great is that?

Happy Birthday, Mom.

Happy Birthday, America.

I love you, both.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Clam Chowder, Mo' Better

It was time to seek out a great Oregon Coast bowl of clam chowder. We wanted clam chowder containing rich cream, cooked down potato chunks, a hint of bacon, and lots and lots of fresh razor clams. Mo’s restaurant is legend around these parts for their clam chowder, and it met all the criteria mentioned. (Painting on the left is the original Mo's in Newport, Oregon.)

We ate our perfect bowl of clam chowder at Mo’s in Lincoln City. With a warm misty rain falling outside and lots of sweaty little kiddies and hot, steaming bowls of chowder inside, the place was darn near foggy inside. To round out the whole experience, we had a few bottles of beer. I had the Mo’s Ale by Rogue.  I liked it! (Maybe it wasn't foggy...)

Cheers from Lincoln City.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Oogle, Google

My brother read our blog and e-mailed me to ask if I thought the Pacific City Haystack Rock was larger than the Cannon Beach Haystack Rock. I e-mailed back to say I didn’t know, but I would check it out. He wrote the little “LOL” (laugh out loud) lingo, and said okay .

What was this world like before Google? How did we know anything?

You can Google for any information, anytime, anywhere. I think I’ve increased my I.Q. ten-fold since I found Google. Or at least, if I access Google, I can say I’m smarter….LOL.

I’ve searched topics from Atlantic City down the alphabet to Zeke’s Coffee. Google has made a bigger impact on my post-school education than, well, anything.  And I'm certain that our travels have been enhanced by the information available online.  Before each new location, we search for nearby sights, narrow streets to avoid and personal reviews of persons, places and things.

Oh, and by the way (wait, I should write…BTW), Pacific City has the biggest “Haystack” rock (327 feet), but Cannon Beach has the biggest “Haystack” rock (235 feet) accessible by land. So, another bit of knowledge I picked up today was be sure to read thoroughly what you research…LOL!
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