Monday, August 31, 2009

Winding down!

I sat here today, with a blur of highway road signs and white dashed lines spinning thru my head. After 6 days and 2,000 miles of 65 mile per hour diesel motor home driving, the quiet of the family room seem overwhelming by comparison.

Gone were the rushing gusts of nasty wind that shoved me from a straight line in Utah, and Nebraska. My attention seemed at its keenest thru those stretches of road. But then also topping a hill in Northern Utah and being able to see for 50 miles in the valley below has become just a memory.

Today I rested and reflected on the trip we completed. It was fun, but also too fast and furious. We are still quite caught up in the lives of the grandkids, and had the stated goal of being home for the Labor day holiday. So home we now are.

Since all the neighbors are home on Sunday, I left the coach in its storage lot today and may not go get it tomorrow either. Time and ambition will dictate that decision. But also the yard needs to be mowed, and the bills need to be paid. Does it ever end?

This afternoon, our son Chris and his wife Melissa came by with Claire and Abby. Loyce got some quality time caring for the baby, who is now three months old. She was relived to find that Abby still seemed to know who she was, and didn't fuss much at her care.

Chris and Mel headed out to acquire new Verizon Blackberry phones, leaving the fold of the family T-Mobile plan. We have new contracts on T-Mobile, and can't follow suit for some time. So that may stretch our minutes some.

Late in the day Chris flew out to return to Alabama where he is employed by the Federal Government as an auditor. We were thankful we had a couple of hours with his family.

So we just hung out, spinning down like a childs top, without the kid with the string. That can't last for long though, as we have to plan and head for the Lake of the Ozarks, and prepare to host a bunch of the grandkids, and their parents as well. For our new readers, we have a fishing cabin on the lake, that we use during the warmer summer months.

The bugs will have claimed the dock and our pontoon boat as their own, so the pressure washer needs to be manned, to take them back!

Retired Rod

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Back to KC

This morning was clean up day. Since we will put the rig into storage, when we get back to KC, we clean up at the last camp site.

Most of the stuff that will go back into the house was piled in the corner, and into the Toyota. Remember we have a disagreeable neighbor, that will call the cops in a drop of a hat. So we need to strike quick and head on out.

Nebraska's crops are beautiful. Corn was tall and ears looked to be filled beyond the end, if that's possible. Beans could have been taller, but for Nebraska, and non irrigated ground, they were really quite good too.

We opted to take old hwy 34 right thru downtown Lincoln. This shortcuts I-80, and heads for I29 at Nebraska City. The two lane drive thru the country was very comforting. Crops, farm places and small towns. The GPS selected 34, but I think the better route would have been Nebraska 2. The drive in Lincoln would have been shorter, and some of it is 4 lane.

We ate lunch at a Wendy's next to the interstate where Neb 2, joins it. There is a Sap Bros' truck stop there, and it was swamped with cars and trucks. We spent about a half hour in Iowa, as you cross back into Missouri several miles South of there.

Our plan to quickly empty the rig worked like a charm, and it was gone from out front of the house in under two hours. I'll have to go get it and bring it back during the day, next week. When all the neighbors go to work, I can get the pressure washer out and give it the onceover.

So this adventure is over for another little while, but we will be headed off to the Lake of the Ozarks later in the week, so stay tuned for a different adventure!

Retired Rod

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Grand Island, Nebraska

We did it all over again. Same late start, same all day drive. We left Cheyenne and drove 350 miles to Grand Island.

We are again at another KOA. We need stock in this company, since we are such loyal customers. LOL

Again it was right along the highway, and was advertised on a sign board at the exit. We had not seen any other camping advertisements for miles.

This place wasn’t obscenely expensive at $32 for full hookups. And since this will be our last night out, we will be able to flush out the sewer tanks thoroughly for storage as we get ready to leave here.

Tomorrow we will be back in Kansas City, although we are still over 250 miles from home.

An earlier start would be in order, but today we again changed time zones to central time. So it is midnight, and I still think it is 10 o’clock, The rush home, that Loyce has required, has my internals trashed.

So tonight is the last night on the road, and I think I am having remorse already.

Retired Rod

Friday, August 28, 2009


We have moved on to the other side of the state of Wyoming. This evening, we we are in Cheyenne. We tried to stay at other campgrounds, but found them to be giant dust bowls. Run down wasn’t half of it.

So we drove on to the KOA in Cheyenne. We stayed here on the way out , and found it to be clean and comfortable. I generally do not try and do two nights in the same place, but since we are making tracks back for home, all the rules go away. I feel that the price here is outrageous, so I’m not even going to talk about it.

I did a quickie dump of the gray tank this morning, and headed out. We were late again, since we have our internal clocks all jumbled up. I refuse to set an alarm. We are retired you know.

I’m trying to remember something that was memorable about the drive today, but Wyoming is mostly sage brush and dry land. You do climb to over 8 thousand feet just East of Laramie and the ground changes there.

East of this summit, the Midwest really begins. Sage brush is mostly gone, and pasture crops start. It is at this point, that as a former Iowan, I feel like I am back in my comfort zone. I could plant something, and it would grow!

As of tonight we have covered 1,300 miles in the last 4 days. Because of tomorrow being a Friday, I have made a reservation in a Campground in Grand Island, Ne. That will be another 350 mile day. I’m wearing my self thin here, but Loyce really wants to get home.

Retired Rod

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Rambling about being on the road!

We were up again this morning, but after we intended, since we were adjusting to Mountain Time. Our internal clocks had adjusted to the West coast.

But we organized stuff and were on the road by 10:30. As we drove East on highway 84, we talked on the radios to each other about where we were trying to go. We really didn’t have much of a plan except to go home.

I plugged in Cheyenne, Wy. in the GPS and checked the route. It kept me on I-84 all the way to Ogden, Ut. and then on to I-80 to Cheyenne. So that became our plan. We didn’t know how far we would go or where we would find a park to stop.

We pressed on and ate our lunch in a rest area just across the Utah line. The scenery in North Utah is quite striking. It is really big country. Seems you go over the next hill and suddenly can see for miles over a plain to the next mountain range.


The winds thru some of these passes violently shake the trucks and cars on the highway. A motor home is overwhelmingly susceptible to these winds and it seemed that I was chasing the rig all over the road. I slowed down and kind of plugged along. Since I am still a novice at the motor home, I was somewhat holding my breath.

We headed out on I-84 from Ogden to the East, a spectacular drive thru canyons along a flowing river. Too bad that it was mostly under construction where you drive thru the concrete barricades that are barely 10 feet wide. Most of the Eastbound road was on the shoulder, as the West side was on our side beyond the barriers.

Loyce was describing the views, as I was fixated on keeping within the narrow barricades. Once over the Wyoming line, we saw a sign for a KOA. We drove directly here.

Here, is Lyman, Wyoming, which is 41 miles inside the Western boarder. This is a ranch that the owner has owned for 40 years. It is a park along side his original home place. It couldn’t be more peaceful, but since we are late in August and it is after school has started, the place is mostly empty.

The price was $26 with the KOA discount card. We are on a water and electric site, since they were in the back, and had the best setting. We are essentially in a grove, on a peaceful farm. Some of our best finds, have been when we had no plans about where we intended to stop!

We think we will stay on I-80, and go on thru Nebraska. We have been over I-70 twice last year, and again on the way out this time. We also went diagonally across Kansas on our hurried trip home from Arizona last year. Both ways!

There is only so much Kansas you can take!

Retired Rod

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Idaho again!

We are back in Mountain Home RV Park, in Mountain Home, Idaho.

This was the park with the 80 foot concrete pull thrus. With concrete patios, and picnic tables. And you can wash the RV no charge, or the car or the dog or yourself, or………..well you get the idea.

Today was 260 miles, unlike yesterday that was 370. That is too far! A nice day should not be over 300.

Thanks for all the nice comments on the whale chasin photos. I been telling the boss lady that I need NEED a new longer lens. Ya know our pictures would have been sooooo much better with a 400mm zoom. I know, I don’t use it enough to warrant the price!

I see my long set of pictures has started a bit of controversy as to the size of the pictures. And yes there were way too many of them, but I took 60 or more, so really I did pick just a few.

I use live writer, and it shrinks the photos to a smaller size, and I have custom set the size to somewhat fill the page, but still have them be about 100K to download. If you click on them they will not become any bigger, since they have been preshrunk.

But what I have done, is to take Al’s advice about cutsie blog gadgets, and have eliminated the Slide Show. The pictures get old and stale, and no one looks at them. They take blog download time, every time you check in. I have never had any music or such, since I also use an aircard to have internet on the road.

Also, I have reduced the number of posts that come up to three. If you want older posts, you can click on older, and it will pull them for you. So on these special days, where I do in fact have something that I think is neat, and go crazy with pictures, it will drop off much quicker and not cause download fatigue.

But I really don’t want to change the size, unless that means everyone quits me. Let me know.

Retired Rod

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pendleton, Oregon

We have made it to Pendleton, Oregon tonight. As we often do, we are at the KOA camp here. It is nice and clean, and quick to find off of the Interstate. (Costs too much!, but with the discount, it was $32, which is normal for a commercial park.)

I don’t bother to take pictures of these places as they are all pretty much the same.

We left about 10 AM and headed South for Seattle. We arrived around noon, and made the 405 turn without t0o many cars all around us. I don’t mind busy, but socked in bumper to bumper at 60 mph, isn’t my idea of a good time.

Once headed East on I 90, the traffic slimmed right down. Heck, I even had 10 car lengths at times. But as we began to climb, all the trucks slow to a crawl, and the faster ones try to pass. The cars are not slowed at all, but weave their way in and out of the faster trucks.

I was one of the faster trucks, but not nearly as fast as the cars. Seems like this rig, shifts down to 4th gear and slows to around 50 and then hangs right in there for even the largest of hills. I do have to watch the temp gage, as it will begin to heat. But once the fan clutch engages, then it cools off.

I am surprised by the power of the Cummins. Bring on Loveland Pass!

We rolled off onto I 82 and headed for Oregon in mid afternoon. We stopped here about 5:30, as I was tired of listening to the diesel!

I have written the Whale Watch blog in the entry after this one, as a separate post. Please scroll down and read it! I posted a bunch of pictures. It took forever to upload even with the excellent Wifi we have here in the KOA.

Tomorrow is the 25th already, so we will again head out and make some miles back East, and South.

We will change into Mountain Time, as we cross back into Idaho, so we will be giving back that hour we gained on the way out here. See we are behind already.

Now scroll down and read the Whale entry.

Retired Rod

San Juan Island Whale Watching

As I said, we were up early for us, and at the dock by 8:30. Our boat was the Island Commuter, and it is just that. The interisland shuttle.



This schooner was in the next berth, but I’m pretty sure that tickets were not a $100 each like ours were.

There were people on board, that had obviously spent the night, as they were in their PJ’s and rubbing their eyes.

We rode from Island to Island picking up, and letting off folks on their commute.


Two and a half hours later, we arrived at Friday Harbor.


Ya got 45 minutes to do lunch, maybe you should bring it back in a sack!


This place has a bunch of possibilities.


Loyce is waiting for me, reminding me we don’t have time to take pictures!


We pick the Blue Water Bar and Grill, just because it was right across the street from the landing.


The only place to eat was at the rail! Note the big ferry pulling in with hundreds more folks that want some lunch.


We ate quickly, and paid when we got the meal served. Gathered some of it to go and ran back to the boat.

As we departed, the Washington State Ferry was also heading out.


This is when the whale watching tour began. Once we were away from the dock, we were told the truth. The resident pods of whales were miles out to sea, and hadn’t been spotted for several days! Oh good!

But they knew of some transient Orcas that were in the area, but they were really wild, and had taken a Seal off San Juan this morning, and were unpredictable. We’ll go try and find them.

This picture is with a 200 mm lens which is the biggest I have. It is blown up 4 times over a 50 mm which would be about normal. By law we have to stay a 100 yards away.


I took oodles of pictures, and at times they came closer to us. So the Captain stopped and let them swim by. There are four of them, with the matriarch on the left. She leads the pod.


I have cropped these to further enlarge the shots. Otherwise they are spots in the distance. You lose detail and focus but at least you can see them this way.


The sun was behind them and shining right into the lens, to add even more fun!



It was hard to get them up all at the same time.


With the sun behind them, I got this shot of their breath as they cleared their blow hole. That is the equal of our nose, if they had one.


On the way back to San Juan Harbor, the Captain took us by a nesting Bald Eagle. He didn’t seem to even notice all the crazy folks taking his picture on the boat.


We arrived back in San Juan at 4:30. Dropping off the Whale Watching folks, and then taking on a whole new manifest of commuters.

We stopped on every Island that we had visited on the way out, picking up over a dozen teen agers at the last Island that was only 30 minutes from Bellingham. They had been camping all weekend, and had all the gear to go with it.

Most of them went out on top, where we had been to watch the whales. There wasn’t a single seat left inside. Except I was sitting on two, back in the corner by the head.

We had been on the boat for over 10 hours. We were really glad to get off!!!!!

Retired Rod

Monday, August 24, 2009

Back from Whale Chasin

We went to the ferry landing and headed out on the Island Ferry. It is the milk run between every Island between San Juan and Bellingham. We picked up folks all over the San Juan area.

We made it to Friday Harbor, and had lunch. We left at 1 for the whale chase. We found some and followed for miles.

We didn’t get back here until 8 PM. I am killed. I have a gazillion pictures in the camera, but am too tired to get them out of there.

We are to leave in the morning, and our time on this trip is coming to a halt. We need to be back in KC for the holidays. So tomorrow will be the departure for the homeward leg. We are about 2,000 miles away! So we have serious driving ahead.

I will down the photos and pick a few with whales in them for a future post, since "I drove all day" doesn’t make for too interesting reading anyway.

Retired Rod

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bellingham, RV Park

We have been having so much fun and daily activity, that it all caught up with us today. Loyce decided that things needed cleaning inside the RV. And naturally that was my cue to get scarce. LOL

I needed to go make the additional reservation for Sunday night. So I headed on over to the office. While there I inquired about washing the RV, and found that they only charge $5. So I paid the money.

I made myself busy with the hose bucket and brush, for most of the afternoon. Well, when I wasn’t over talking to the neighbor. He was applying a silicon rubber mixture to the roof of his motor home. It is over ten years old, and he said he had several leaks that he needed to get sealed before winter.

They have been here for 8 years, and he works up the road from the park. He said it gets quite cold here and snows, soft and gentle snow. Still he was concerned that his single pane windows allowed it to be way too cold for the rig.

But, he has done it for 8 years, so perhaps this is talk every fall.

We will be up at the beginning of dawn, in order to make the ferry for our whale watching trip in the morning. We have had absolutely no schedule but our own for several months, so this will come as a rude shock when the A L A R M, what is that? goes off.

Retired Rod

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fairhaven, Wa

We drove slowly down the coast along the sea from our a RV park.  We traveled thru industrial areas and a few parks but it was overcast, and we didn’t find anything that stood out.

When we arrived in Fairhaven, we went out on the pier where the big ferry from Alaska was loading.  This baby is a monster.


Walking down along the pier and the ticket sales building, I turned and took another picture.  This is an even longer look at the boat.


From the back, you can see how they are loading the ferry.  I stood and watched as a semi truck rumbled down the ramp and into the darkness of the ferry floor.


I think the bow opens for the truck to drive forward and out of the ship.  The port of registry says Ketchikan, Ak.  I’m not sure you can drive farther North from there since it is along the Western coast of Canada.  It is pretty much an island by itself.

So the ferry must go on North to other ports that do connect to mainland roads.  There were motorhomes as well as cars and trucks in the staging area, waiting to get aboard.  This of course, started us talking about the possibilities.

We also succumbed to a sales pitch for a ferry trip of our own.  But not to ferry our car, but rather ourselves over to San Juan Island on Sunday.  We will go out on a Whale watching boat from the main port on the island.

We have to be at the port before 9 AM on Sunday morning.  It is about a  half an hour from the campground to the port.  We will also have to extend another day since we were leaving Sunday morning.  Not any more…….

Retired Rod

Friday, August 21, 2009

Our day on Baker Mountain

It is over 50 miles from I5 in Bellingham to the top of Baker Mountain. When you look up, here in town, it seems that it is right there. Towering over everything. But it really is a long ways away.

We messed around in the morning, and then went to Wal Mart to renew some of Loyce’s prescriptions. We have been there twice before getting the same renewals, but alas the pharmacy can’t get it straight, and fails to fill the scripts.

This time they had one of them right, but the other was still a problem. Loyce inquired if they were out of the med, but no they had it. They couldn’t explain what the problem was but come back later and perhaps it will be done. Arrrrg!

So we headed out to go up Baker Mountain. We drove for 30 miles thru the forest around curve after curve. We could never even see the mountain as it was behind others that were closer to us. We wondered if we were on the right road.

After 35 miles, we rounded a corner and there it was.


The woods here is thick and tall, so seeing the mountain is almost impossible.


We found this reader board.


Construction stopped us numerous times. There is a bridge inside this weird tent like structure, and they were painting it.


We crossed the Nooksack River numerous times.

The sign said Nooksack Falls, so we took this narrow gravel road down the side of the roadway off into the woods. Spooky! After parking and hiking a short ways we found the fence guarding the straight down cliff overlooking the falls.


I hung out over the fence.


It goes way down there.


I took several pics and autostitched this together.


On up the Mountain. We climbed and climbed to over 8K feet. We finally reached the base of the volcano towering over us.


I drove around the one way circle at the top where the ski resort was all closed up for the summer. Stopping to take different pictures.


I walked out on the banks of Baker Lake to get these shots.


These really are two different shots, but they look much the same.


This was a little more to the left around the path. I like the trees in the foreground. I messed with the colors a tad and sharpened it to boot.

This will become the blog header when I get time, LOL.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Canada today!

John Brown discretely informed me that Canadians don’t say Hey all the time, but rather it’s eh……

So now that we have that bit straightened out, we felt armed and adequate to head on over the boarder into Canada today.

We were ready for all things bad when we pulled up to the boarder. The customs guy asked where I was from, and what my business was in Canada. I told him I was a tourist from Kansas City, and that was all he needed to know.

"Have a nice time in Canada Sir!"

So we drove thru the short bit of countryside to the suburbs of Vancouver. Then under a river by going thru a tunnel, and we were in Vancouver. This is a large and busy urban city. The interstate, or divided highway, motorway, or what ever Canada refers to them as, ended right at the city limits.

We found ourselves driving from ethnic area to ethnic area. The city is a melting pot of many nationalities. We found that Kansan wasn’t one of those nationalities, LOL.

The city center, as the signs continually pointed the way, could have been any city in the US just as easily. Same tall buildings and same vacant businesses in the older parts. We never did get out of the urban sprawl, to find or enjoy any country side.

Our lunch ended up being McDonalds in the Vietnamese section of town. The Visa card kept us from having to deal with any exchange issues, but I’m sure our US dollars would have been just fine. The change would have been Canadian, which would have caused us problems back on the US side. The exchange rate is never favorable when you use USD in that fashion.

Our Toyota car has Km’s/ hr on the inside ring of the spedo, so the 100 Km limit was not hard to honor. Also 60 and 40 in the town areas. Like usual, you just move along with the traffic, but I did find one brave soul that passed me like I was in his way, when I was going 105. He had to be doing 125 or more.

As the afternoon slipped away, we decided to head back to the boarder. It was well after work by now and rush hour was upon us. Traffic was grueling. The sign at the boarder said the wait was over an hour.

But were retired, eh! We sat and enjoyed the nice park that the Canadians had built on their side of the line. Peace Park they called it. On the US side there was the old familiar square block government building, with the flat metal roof. Boarder Patrol folks all over, in full uniform, and broken rutted pavement. What a contrast to the nice offices and roads the Canadians had built. Seemed like we were coming back to a third world country!

Again the same questions, where do you live and why were you in Canada? "Kansas City tourists on a day trip." “Welcome back Sir!”

As I sit here thinking of the experience, we had hoped for a more rural experience of country side and the ocean, but found the city instead.

If we go back to Vancouver again, it will be with a planned destination in mind. Our roads will be mapped out before we leave, and then we will be more in control of the situation. I hope!

Retired Rod

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Trading Volcanoes

Today we packed up the Motor Home and left the suburbs of Seattle behind.  Mt Rainier was in our rear view mirror, as we caught the 405 North around the city.

Once we were on I 5, and passed Bill Gates’ Microsoft headquarters in Bellevue, we headed North to Bellingham.

This is the last larger community in Washington, before you cross into Canada.  It is at the foot of Mt Baker.  The last volcano in the US in the Cascade Mountains.  As I understand, and can name them, it is Lassen in California, Hood in Oregon, Saint Helens in Southern Washington, Rainier (Tacoma as the Indians called it) in Central Washington, and Baker here in NW Washington.

Since we are much farther North, Baker is the most covered in glaciers.  I haven’t found out how high it is, but it doesn’t seem as tall as Rainier.

We had reserved and checked into the Bellingham RV Park, arriving here about 2:30.  We were set up fairly quickly, and Loyce feels better about the cleanliness of this park as compared to our last location. 

It is mighty tight between rigs here, but she says that doesn’t bother her since there is grass  on the sites, and we have a bath house.  The laundry is on the small side, but is again quite clean and neat.

Tonight we went to the old historical area of town called “Fairhaven.”  This is a tourist trap with many old stores and restaurants.   We ate at a place called “Fat Fish Company” that was along the street, with a French Door type opening front on the building, and sidewalk table service. 

We had Broiled Salmon, with battered shrimp prawns.  The meal started with spinach salad and blue cheese, almonds, and raisins.  The Salmon was served with a soy and ginger sauce, along with rice pilaf and braised veggies.

Desert was a wedge of cheese cake with chocolate and butterscotch sauce.  This was garnished with a strawberry and some cream mousse.  Boy was that rich, and not on my diabetic diet.  I will need extra pills tonight.

So tonight we have a new volcano to look up at and wonder if it will blow any time soon!  They tell me you can see steam at times in the winter……….

Retired Rod

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Seattle Waterfront

Headed to the aquarium.


The entrance tank, had most of the natural fish found in the sound.


I only had the point and shoot camera with me and the exposure and focus was fooled at almost every shot.


This was a tank where you could put your hands in the water, but I have no idea what the gals on the left are doing.


Why yes I am a puffer.  He moved ever so slowly.


A Lion fish that is sooo poisonous.


The kids were screaming “Nemo”, but of course we know this as a clown fish.


Dorri wouldn’t hold still so she is just a blue blur.  A Blue Tang was in the same tank as the Clown fish.  Do you think that was an accident?


Outside the Harbor Seals were entertaining the folks.


Yes I think I’m cute!


In the bottom of one of the biggest tanks is a domed room.  The windows went all the way around.


This little gal was fascinated.


I was fascinated watching her be fascinated.  A Dog fish.



I could not get the camera to focus on this shrimp.  He was too big for the other fish in the tank to eat, but he was on guard just the same.


Fingerling salmon from the hatchery.



And I had to get a shot of the Space needle from the 1962 Worlds Fair.  Its about 600 feet tall, and I thought it was the tallest structure in the world, when I went up in 1962.

I have never forgot that fair, and how lucky I was to have my parents bring me to it that year.

Many of the permanent buildings that were built for the fair are still here.  They still have a science center theme like they did in 1962.



We are not overly impressed with the driving in the big city, so we may press on to a smaller area in the morning.  Parking was a real problem today, and it took almost 3 hours to get home after we were done downtown.  There are no parks that are closer, unless you want to spend $70 for the lone KOA.  Even it is more than ten miles out.

Retired Rod