Newport Beach then back home.

We drove down from San Dimas on a Saturday morning and the traffic made me wonder if it would have been worse Friday during rush hour.   We arrived before noon and wasn’t sure if they were sticklers about check-in time.  Turns out they are not and we got to our site for the next few nights within a few minutes of noon.

The site I had chosen was long enough for us and was wide enough to fit the car next to us with room to spare.   It wasn’t overlooking the water, but as we were in town to see the kids, we didn’t expect to be here that much.   The place turned out to be very nice.  I was pleasantly surprised as the reviews were very mixed.

This campground is a few minutes from the kids’ house, so it was a very convenient place to stay while visiting them.  Really nice walkway around the bay.  Kathy and Dusty enjoyed going down there every morning and afternoon.  We had a great time seeing Chris and Shelly and going out on the town!

The Dash Down Interstate 5

We drove down Interstate 5 about 220 miles, through Sacramento, past Stockton, and to Kit Fox RV Park in Patterson, CA.  Surprisingly, Patterson was a busy place.  We had the first pull-thru with a bit of green grass right out our front door.   The freeway was about 1,800 feet away, but the noise made it seem a lot closer.   It was very convenient for a single night, no need to unhook and was easy in and out.   Just needed to be a bit further from the freeway.

The following morning we headed the 200 miles to Bakersfield River Run RV Park.   I had asked for a pull-thru and they screwed up the reservation and all they had were back-ins.  But the next morning I saw that had been bull shit as there were still a few unoccupied pull-thru’s when we left.

The drive into the area was pretty rough and looked like we were heading into an industrial park.  I won’t bother stopping here next time.  I was totally underwhelmed by their service and location.

The next morning we headed toward San Dimas to camp for a night at Bonelli Bluffs RV Resort and Campground.   I was shocked how nice this place was.  Way up on a hill with views in all directions.  Lots of lush grass too!   I will try to stay here again!   The next morning we headed south to Newport Dunes Resort, our last stop before getting back home for the winter.  

Seven Feathers

On our way down interstate 5, we stopped for a night at the Seven Feathers Resort.  We had been there before and I was looking forward to going back to the Mexican place we ate at the last time we were there, but we ended up making something in the bus and skipped going out.  Really nice RV park and especially dog friendly for Dusty!

The picnic tables were changed out since we were there the last time.  Kind of an odd replacement choice in my opinion.  Kathy took advantage of their nice laundry facility and washed a lot of our larger items.  (But killing stink bugs was the highlight.  They came out of the slides when the weather warmed up.  Yuck!)



Renee & Micks Homestead

We stopped by Renee and Mick’s homestead on our way back home this summer.   Luckily, Renee mentioned I shouldn’t be concerned when I saw a gravel road to go down.   When I saw it, I was concerned for a few seconds; then realized that if they could get their coach in there, I shouldn’t have an issue as they are probably 1 foot taller and 5 foot longer.   It was very tight going, narrow and completely tree-lined, very close on each side of this long one-lane gravel road.  I wondered what would happen if somebody came the other way.  Luckily no one did.   There wasn’t anywhere to pull off that I saw.  Within a few minutes, I saw their motorhome and was glad we made it there.   Mick came out to point out a few places where we could park.  We drove the bus over top where they will be building the house.

I could not believe how much work they had done in the short time since they bought that forested land:   Removing about an acre of trees, which would be no small feat; bringing in power; drilling a well; installing a septic system and leech field.  And they were traveling and working a lot of the time!

Renee had insisted she make dinner the night we were there.  I had assumed we would go out or at least get takeout.  But as we got there, I realized she was right, as we were driving away from the freeway, there wasn’t anywhere nearby their homestead for takeout or dine in.

We got to see the foot print for their house and shop building.   I learned that the building department does not allow them to build the shop first, but have to build the house then the shop.   I thought it would be nice to build the shop, pull their motorhome inside out of the weather, and then build the house; but the local building department won’t allow them to do that.

After a very nice dinner, we discussed interesting happenings and some of the travails of motorhome travel.  They had an incredible experience when pulling into a wedding venue and the dip at the entrance lifted their drive wheels off the ground so they were stuck and needed a large wrecker to pull them off.  The most interesting part was their motorhome manufacturer installs rollers at the rear of the coach for just such a scenario.  Without rollers, I would guess there would have been substantial damage to the undercarriage.   Yikes!

The next morning we said our goodbyes and headed back out that gravel road to find some pavement and get to our next stop at 7 Feathers Resort.  Hope to see their beautiful home after it is completed!!

Champoeg (Shampoo)

We drove about an hour southeast to Champoeg State Historic Site.   On the way, just outside the entrance to the campground, I heard a very funny dragging noise after making a left onto the road leading to the park.   I stopped and walked around back and there was a 8′ piece of angle iron hanging from the rock guard by one bolt on the driver’s side.   Since I was literally in the middle of a small road, I found a couple tie wraps to temporarily hook it up so it wasn’t dragging till I could bolt it back on.

We got into the park a few minutes later and found our site.   The next day I decided to remove it to see what I could do to salvage it.  After checking out how a friend’s rock guard was attached, I decided to forgo putting ours back on, opting to make a couple sacrificial steel pieces for the bottom ends and then buying a new piece of angle iron and configure it a bit different than the original.

We didn’t do very much else while we were there as our friends were trying to recover from colds.  We decided to get our flu shots and found out that Costco did walk-in’s, and then we could pick up a few things while there.   On the way I decided I would also get our Covid Booster BA5 version.  We weren’t very sure it was a great idea to get both at the same time, but it turned out fine,  neither of us had adverse reactions to either shot.

One day there I saw something I hadn’t seen before, a Tesla Model 3 towing a fairly large trailer.  I stopped to talk to the guy for a bit as I didn’t think a Model 3 could pull a trailer.   He said it was 4,000 pounds and that it cut his range from 225 miles to 70 miles.  Wow.   Hopefully there are Superchargers every 70 miles to keep them moving!

On the way out of there, we found a local Shell station with Diesel @$4.89, so we drove over there and slowly pulled in as the roof said it was 13’0″ and we are 12’7″.  It seemed very short but nothing hit.   And as in NJ, Oregon pumps your gas for you, which always seems odd.


The eventful drive to Tillamook.

I decided at the last minute to drive down the coast to Tillamook that morning and that appeared to be a bad decision about 10 miles outside of Astoria when we heard a loud pop and we lost almost all engine power going up a small hill.   After a few seconds, we were only going about 5 MPH up the hill on a two lane highway with lots of vehicles stacked up behind us.   I had instinctively pulled on the emergency flashers to give the folks behind us a heads-up.   There was a wide spot in the road about a quarter mile ahead and we pulled over to see if something in the engine compartment looked odd or sounded odd.  Nothing looked or sounded out of place.   All I knew is that after the popping sound, it was like we had a 5 horsepower lawnmower engine propelling us very slowly along.

I called my 24/7 Freightliner support number and almost immediately they told me it sounded like the flex hose popped off the CAC (Charge Air Cooler).  I was wondering if he was just trying to get me off the phone, but later I realized he was correct.   To see that hose, I would need to pop open the hatch behind the bed, and the only way to do that was to open both bedroom slides to gain access to the bolts holding it shut.

We finally made it to Astoria and drove toward a diesel mechanic shop we found on Google with lots of reviews.   I drove there without calling.  Everybody is so busy that if you call them, they often tell you they are weeks away from an appointment being available; so I now usually just drive to a place to ask them in person.   This time it didn’t work.  Then I called every other place listed in the area and all the way down to Tillamook where we were headed, at least an hour away at full speed, no one wanted to touch it.  But a mobile mechanic in Tillamook said they could, but it would be that night after 7 pm.  (it was currently around 11 am).

We limped over to a Walmart parking lot so we could put out the slides and open the hatch to see if we could find that flex hose.   I popped the hatch, and there it was, plain as day, the flex hose was disconnected from the pipe that goes to the intake manifold.   What that actually meant was the turbo’s boost pressure was just leaking out there and no high- pressure air was going into the manifold, which is now clearly known to be very needed.

Figuring we would be waiting the rest of the day in that parking lot, I called our next campground down in Tillamook to let them know we probably wouldn’t be getting there till the next day. Pat, the host, mentioned an RV place not far from us in Warrenton and I called them.  They didn’t do chassis work, but told me to call Rod’s Marine and Automotive.   Rod said he would be glad to help and that as soon as his mechanic finished his current work, he would send him over.   I said I could drive over, but very slowly, and he mentioned he had just come from that direction and said traffic is moving very slowly anyway.  So I just dropped the hatch cover back on and brought in the slides, then drove over.

Within a few minutes, the mechanic came down out of a small gill net fishing boat and the owner came out and they were discussing what voltage a particular device on the boat needed to be hooked up to.  They weren’t sure.  And the owner (his name was not Rod) told the mechanic to look at my issue while he looked up the voltage requirements for that device.

He crawled under and immediately saw the hose and went back inside to get some tools.   Within a few minutes he had it reattached and was able to use the same clamp to tighten it back on.    We did the paper work.  They charged me ~$50 and we were on our way to Tillamook!!

I found long ago that driving these things in the dark is not fun.  You can only see straight ahead.  Seeing anything to the right and left is impossible due to the flat glass reflecting any (and I mean any) light like it’s a mirror.  Even after turning off all dash lights, it was still like looking into a mirror.  That was in 2017, early one morning when we needed to get to a facility for a 6 am appointment in Mussel Shoals, Alabama.

The day after getting there, we visited the Tillamook Cheese Factory with friends Tami and Scott.   It was an interesting self-guided tour from up above the factory floor, and of course it ends up in the gift shop like most attractions.

That evening we actually went out for dinner inside a restaurant.  It seems like years since we have eaten inside a restaurant.   Las Margaritas in Tillamook had very good Mexican food!

We also checked out the Air Museum just outside of town in an old WWII Blimp Hanger.   An interesting place.  The video they ran in their theater was something I had not heard about.  I had no idea the Japanese Military attempted a coup de ta the night prior to the Emperor’s releasing his recorded capitulation speech to the Japanese people.

The last day at Tillamook we drove down to Whale Cove and to my surprise we saw lots of whales.  We wanted to each lunch at the Whale Cove Inn, but the restaurant didn’t open till 5 pm, and we were there on a Saturday.

Hudson Parcher @ Rainier Oregon

We had stayed at this park in early August during our 2020 trip and went here to do laundry and stock up in Longview Washington just across the bridge (Columbia River) for our long trek south toward home.

Hudson-Parcher Campground is a lovely wooded place, very quiet, no highways or trains.  Although this time we were able to hear a few trains, way off in the distance.  My guess is the wind was blowing from the river (where all the trains seem to follow).  They were a few miles away so you could just barely hear them, and only if you were outside.

The only exciting thing that happened when we were there was the septic tank filled up and caused some of our grey water to seep out from around the sewer hose.   The campground host found it and called a sewer guy right away and within the hour it was fixed.   Odd thing is it didn’t stink.  Although the liquid he doused it with later did smell a bit chlorinated.

Turns out they have an interesting sewer setup.  They have three fairly large tanks underground, and they have a pump in them that uses a float mechanism to turn it on and off.   That pumps up the goo to a sand filter on the other side of the park.  There was a broken water pipe a few weeks before and the host asked the county maintenance guy to shut off the water so he could fix it.  Apparently he also turned off one of the sewer pump breakers, so the pump hadn’t been working for a few weeks and that one tank filled up.


Mt. Hood and the Fruit Loop

We arrived as early as we could at Toll Bridge Park, which is probably 20 miles south of Hood River (which is on the Columbia River).

It’s a first-come, first-served campground, (FCFS) meaning you cannot make reservations; you can only get a site if there is an empty one when you arrive, or at least, before you give up.   The west loop, which is where I hoped to get a site, was a bit too tight for our bus and “of course”, none of the sites that were long enough for us were empty, so we continued to the east loop where there  were many empty sites to choose from.  We picked a 65′ pull-thru, one of the half-moon type pull-thru’s which are never as long as they state.  Ours was the same, shorter than it stated, so our car is close to blocking the exit of the campsite behind us.

The next day we took a drive up to the Timberline Lodge, apparently the hotel they filmed The Shining (Jack Nicholson’s version).   It was very cool (cold) up there and the view of Mt. Hood was spectacular as the lodge is just above the timberline.

Geez, guess I should have read this article prior to coming here about: Mt Hood     After coming down off the mountain, we headed over to Government Camp and found  a pub for lunch.

We headed out the next day to drive the fruit loop and pick up some fresh fruit.  It seems most of the fruit we saw driving were pears.  We did find some great apples, peaches and blueberries.  There are a lot of stores/farm stands around the loop.  That 16% grade was really short, but I doubt I would want to drive the bus on it anyway.

And no day driving around looking for fruit stands could be complete without a stop at a winery/brewery.   That purple stuff was wild berry hard cider.  I took a sip, it was very sweet.  My beer was much better.

We also found Ethan’s favorite tortilla chips while wandering the roadways, and currently they are Kathy’s favorite too!

One afternoon we headed down to Hood River, which was a very nice area to wander around.  Just about every building had a small plaque on it explaining what it was used for when built, most in the early 1900’s.   While Kathy was shopping, I sat around with the dog breathing in car exhaust.  Not sure why it was so noticeable, but it was.  Hopefully folks will pull their head out of the sand and seriously look at electric cars.  I won’t be buying another gas powered car.  The only thing holding me back at the moment is none of the current electric cars can be towed behind our motorhome with 4 wheels on the ground.  I would have to deal with a large trailer and that’s one hassle I don’t want to deal with.

I noticed this hole in the very tall tree next to us and hoped that there wouldn’t be a storm coming thru the few days we camped there.

Crow Butte, an Island on the Columbia River

Quite a nice place in the middle of nowhere on an island in the Columbia River.   We have stayed elsewhere along the Columbia River and it’s a major artery for trains heading east and west, on both sides of the river.  Luckily this time there were no crossings so we didn’t hear one whistle during the 5 nights we camped there.

A few days into being their I happened to be looking out the side window and saw a huge tractor driving by.   After a few seconds I saw that it was pulling a fairly large 5th wheel trailer.   It then pulled in next to us.  We occasionally see HDT’s (heavy duty trucks) but usually they are the smaller regional style Volvo’s.   This was a first seeing something this big pulling a 5th wheel.   I bet its challenging when you have to go to the grocery store in that thing.  The tractor itself is very long and probably doesn’t fit well into a handicap space at the store..

The first couple days there was almost no wind, but there were a lot of flies.  Kind of made sitting outside an annoying game of swatting the flies constantly.   Then suddenly on the 3rd afternoon a constant 10 MPH wind started and stayed around that speed for the rest of the week.  The day prior to leaving, it got a bit higher and most of the afternoon there were whitecaps on the river.   That seemed very odd.

They do water the grass here constantly like water is free.  I guess they might have a shallow well that fills from the river.  All around the area it was quite arid.  Golden brown hillsides with the occasional vineyard on a hillside.

It was a long way to anywhere from here.  The closest town was 14 miles, and it was just 3 restaurants and a fuel station.  I drove there to pick up lunch one afternoon, it just seemed like a very long drive.  We are on the north side of the river (Washington side) and it was probably 40 miles east to a  bridge to civilization and about 60 miles to the west.   There is pretty much nothing along the river on the Washington side.

Hells Gate State Park

We drove down to Clarkston / Lewiston on Thursday morning.   Here is a picture of one of the first signs we saw in Clarkston.  Headed over to the local Costco to fuel up and maybe pick up some groceries .  The fill-up there was easy, but the parking lot was small and filled with cars, so we headed down to the campground.  Along the way we thought we would stop at a roadside rest on the Snake River road, but that was not such a great idea.  It was tight to get in and turned out to be full, so we had no where to park.  To make matters worse, they had placed large rocks at the entrance and exit to the lot; so getting back out was too tight and we had to unhook the car so I could back up and get a better angle to get out. (otherwise one of the rocks would scrape a bit of the new paint, and I wasn’t going to be happy if I let that happen!)

The reason I wanted to find a roadside stop was the state park wouldn’t let you check in prior to 2 pm, and now we were early due to the missed grocery shopping opportunity.   Turns out the park’s kiosk wasn’t where you check in to that campground and we were able to drive to their “Discovery Center” parking lot and park there till the check-in desk opened.

I drove over to see the campsite while we were waiting, and it was surrounded by wild turkeys and a couple deer.   There was also a nice big shade tree strategically placed for great shade to sit outside!

I wanted to take one of the local jet boats into Hell’s Canyon, but the only day they had available was Sunday, and showed it was going to be very smoky there that day, so I didn’t sign up.  Maybe next time…  And on Sunday the smoke was very thick.  Glad I didn’t drop the $200, would have been a lot like the bus at Denali, hard to see anything due to all the smoke that day.

This weight limit sign inside the campground, just prior to any of the campsite loops, was interesting.  The weight limit listed precludes most Class A motorhomes as the rear axle is usually 20,000 lbs (10 tons) , and newer ones are often 24,000 lbs (12 tons).  So the 8.6 ton limit would be an issue. Also noticed the other weight limits listed for more axles don’t follow the 8.6 tons per axle limit.  Possibly they aren’t teaching basic math in schools anymore.

Our next stop will be Crow Butte Park on an Island in the Columbia River.