Sunday, July 26, 2015

2015-19 Olympia Peninsula Washington State


Morton Washington
Shelton Washington

Olympia Peninsula

Campground:  Gust Backstrom City Park, Morton.  $30 full hookups 30 amp.  Cooler temperatures, scenic mountain area near Mt Reiner.  Make sure you go past the check in office/house, the best campsites are down on a large grassy and nicely spaced treed area closer to the river.  Large open sites.

Campground:  Jarrell Island State Park.  A remote island state park catering to the boating crowd who boat over to the park.  I have one of the two electric sites as most of the campsites are designated for tent campers with no hookups, tucked deep in the large 100 foot Douglas Fir and Cedar trees.  Cost:  $35.00.  50 amp electric and water.  No dump station.  One over-the-air commercial Tv station (fox) and 5 religious channels. No Cell-phone signal/Internet (Verizon).

Distance traveled:  142 miles

Twin Falls Idaho to the Olympia Peninsula Washington

What a nice drive along hwy 12, over White Pass at 4,500 ft.  The grade leading up to White Pass was gradual and though the road is a two lane road I was able to travel at a speed of around 50 mph.  Probably not a good thing, though the truck performed well towing uphill.  Though I did notice once I got to the summit, my transmission temperature had risen considerably.  First time that’s ever happened and probably because I was driving at a pretty good speed most of the way.  Usually I travel behind a large semi-truck which forces me to drive at a slower speed. Up hill.

I have noticed on this trip that the tow-light does not come on when I press it into tow mode and the manual shifting is not responding.  Hoping it’s not a big issue, other than that the truck is performing nicely and I even got decent fuel mileage even going over this mountainous terrain.

Morton is just an overnight stop before I head to the Olympia Peninsula tomorrow where I’ll spend a couple of weeks.  Though this would be a great place to tour Mt Rainier and Mt St Helen.

Mount Rainier

Distance traveled:  104 miles

The Olympia Peninsula, I’ve arrived for my summer stay on this wonderful peninsula.  The inner part of the peninsula is considered a rain forest, though I’ve arrived during a dry part of the season, a bit unusual perhaps for this time of year, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy it non the less.  I’m staying on remote Hartstene Island.  Jarrell State park is on the tip of the island and serves the boating community with a dock and campsites.

wonderful wooded trails

Sandy and Erik at Jarrell St Pk

I’m having to deal with skin cancer once again on my forehead and am working on getting appointments at a dermatologist in the area to have surgery on the affected area.  It is a bit of a pain (no pun intended) to find a doctor that will take a new patient and have the procedure done quickly.   But I’m working on it and hopefully will have good results within about a month.  In the meantime, I get to enjoy a most beautiful area of the country along with good friends.  One couldn’t ask for a better situation.

Well, along with having to deal with that, I’ve also got an issue with my truck and will be bringing it in for it’s own diagnostics and possible surgery as well.  Sandy and Erik are such good sports in helping me deal with dropping it off and providing transportation while it’s in the shop.

Jarrell State Park

huge ferns everywhere

That evening, after we had a happy hour chat around a non-campfire (burn ban in place) I went inside the camper and continued reading Tom Robins memoir called Tibetan Peach Pie.  Tom is a favorite writer of mine with a esoteric and weird sense of high adventure story telling ability.  And he has lived in the Seattle Washington area for years.  As I read on into the evening, I got to the passage where he describes his one and only experience trying LSD.  It being the early 60’s and an article in LIFE magazine spurred his interest in the psychedelic drug.  His experience was in a controlled environment led by a professor at from the Washington University in Seattle.  Having just digested the story I heard a rapping on my door.  Thinking it was my friends Sandy or Erik, I opened the door and looked out a short stocky gal dressed in dark baggy clothing, who asked me if I had a blanket?  She said she was cold and didn’t have a tent or anything.  It was dark outside and I couldn’t get a real good look at her, but her soft voice and obvious need for warmth spurred me onto being a good Samaritan.  I quickly got an extra Mexican blanket out of storage and handed it to her as she drifted off into the night.

The next morning, having talked with Sandy, I discovered the gal was high on something (probably not LSD as in the story I‘d been reading).  My next door neighbors who by chance have an Open Range travel trailer (what good taste)  had given the girl some food last night as well.  Sandy and Erik ended up calling the sheriff who came and got the gal who had already broken some branches and was probably going to try to make a fire in a fire restricted area.  Come to find out she had broken her probation and had a arrest warrant waiting for her.

A bit of low key excitement for a normally very quite park.  Along with a vehicle that drove into the dead end park around 11pm.  What was that all about?  I would later learn that the local islanders often come into the park to use the showers and fill gallon jugs with water.  Apparently the locals on the island have minimal water availability at their homes.  Sandy telling me that one woman with rather wild hair often comes into the park to get water and shower as she lives in a tree-house.

bad part identified and replaced
Lloyd's Auto

Truck update:  Good news on the truck.   The diagnosis was that the SL-N-Lever, which controls the manual shifting (+/- control button) and the tow mode button was bad.  When the stick was removed, the mechanic said the wire connections were damaged and just broke off.  Apparently it’s an item that fails often as the Chevy dealer had plenty of them in stock.  Replacement cost:  $260.00, what a relief it wasn’t anything more serious.  Lloyd’s Automotive and Transmission Specialists of Olympia Wash. Were great at fixing the problem quickly and at a very reasonable price.

Skin cancer surgery.  More good news.  A clinic in Tacoma Washington will be able to get me in tomorrow for the surgery at 8:30 in the morning after an unexpected cancellation.  Exceptional since it would normally take 6 to 8 weeks to get an appointment.  Taking care of a problem before it gets out of control.

my dermatologist's vehicle
The next morning I head out bright and early, 6:15, traveling the back bay roads that skirt Puget sound  heading into Tacoma.  Cottages and homes tucked along the shoreline each taking advantage of water views on every precious tiny spit of land available.  ($6 toll to cross over the bridge).  Boy, these folks really love their coffee.  Coffee drive-thru’s everywhere, coffee shops on every corner and even in the main lobby of the clinic I’m going to this morning.

look Ma, I have a halo

This is the fourth time I’ve had surgery on skin cancer on my face and forehead and the second time on this particular spot on the top of my head.  A very professional staff, great service and pleasant experience if one has to have a whole cut into their head so to speak to remove the cancer.  Heated and massage lounge chair to lay back on while the surgery is done.  Large flat screen TV available for viewing while waiting for the results between each session.

And it only took two tries to get it all this time.  Stitched up and I’ll be like new in a few weeks.  I was hoping the Doctor could nip and tuck a little bit tighter and harder with the stitches and I’d get a free face lift, but it was not to happen.

Little Creek Casino Resort
Shelton Washington

I’ll be on this wonderful island retreat in the Puget Sound until Sunday when I’ll move down to Shelton and a casino site that has very nice RV sites.  More about this campsite in the next report.

Jarrell Park

Farmers Market

this could be a bit suggestive... look closely

very reasonable pencil line art

the Park Ranger, a thank-you bouquet for a great stay 

Laundry day, (thanks to Sandy for letting me use the private campground washer/dry) a quick trip to the local farmers market with a few craft vendors including a coffee vendor selling some of the famous coffee from up here, then back to the campground for a day with the other weekend campers enjoying a day in the deep forests of the North West.  Cool temperatures in the 64-72 degree range during the day with partial clouds and sun.  Crows cawing, kids laughing, adults cleaning grills and preparing breakfast and lunch outdoors.  Raga music drifting across the air adding a rhythmic beat to the day as another week in the great outdoors comes to an end.

a few more shots from Jarrell park

Jarrell Park

downtown Olympia

a great place to get a deli style lunch

down on the boat docks, lots of flowers

Olympia, where boating is everything

what a shade of blue!

the Kiss

great shops to rummage through

new downtown apartments and shops

Enjoy the day, find adventure wherever you are, and put a smile on someone’s face.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

2015-18 Oregon to Washington State


Traveling along the Oregon Trail

Ontario Oregon
Pendleton Oregon
Sunnyside Washington
Yakima Washington

Idaho, Oregon to Washington all in one week

Campground:  Malheur County Fairground, Ontario.  $10 Passport America rate.  30/50 amp.  Water may not be available at site.  Dump station and water available.   Basic grassy field with back to back power stations.

Malheur County Fairgrounds

Campground:  Wildhorse Casino, near Pendleton Oregon.  $30, full hookup (30 amp).  Good cell phone and tv signal.

views from Casino

Campground:  Emigrant Springs State Park near La Grande Oregon.  It’s right off of the highway 84 so I thought I’d check it out.  I did not stay here.  Sites are higher elevation which would be good in the summer.  Campsites on the inside of the circle loops are not accessible unless you drive your camper around in the opposite direction of the one way loop.  Outer sites are mostly all reserve-able.  All sites are heavily treed (large) and many of the sites are narrow.  Mostly paved back in sites.  I would not consider sites suitable to big rigs.

Campground:  Sunnyside Rv Park.  Sunnyside Washington.  $15 Passport America rate.  Full hookup.  Small park, only a few sites available currently as many sites have been leased for a one year period by traveling workers.  The owners have purchased more land and plan on installing a swimming pool and more sites that will be much larger.  Nice little park.

Distance traveled:  183 miles

I left Twin Falls with it’s cooler temperatures and on and off rain even with thunder and lighting last night.  I continue my trek on hwy 84.  The scenery changes once again.  Twin Falls with it’s green lawns, lots of trees and rivers and streams flowing at full capacity is overtaken by dry plains except for the irrigated circle farms.  It’s flat land with little to excite the eyes and imagination.

A little over three and a half hours later and I’ve entered the eastern side of Oregon and a town called Ontario for the night.  I’m attempting to get to the Olympia Peninsula to visit with friends Sandy and Erick and Tom and Christine.  Two wonderful couples I’ve met through my winter stays at Desert Trails. And who knows there are a few others out there in the hinterlands as well.

Fairgrounds stadium , I liked this shot

a rest stop

Distance traveled:   149 miles

The eastern side of Oregon has some wonderfully dramatic mountain ranges that are weathered to rounded soft looking peaks.  The first 100 miles those rounded mountain ranges are covered in a short grass that has turned golden and gives the mountains an even softer look to them.  Coming closer to Mount Emily, the road rises in elevation and wonderful pine forests fill out the mountainous scenery.

Yikkes, I haven’t had this happen before. Close but never this close.  My fuel gauge was showing that I was getting pretty low on fuel.  How low, about an 1/8th of a tank remaining.  As I began a six mile 6% grade decent the yellow light came on for the first time ever, letting me know I was getting low on fuel.  Near the end the decent…. Which at least if I ran out of fuel I was going down hill, ehh…. the on board message center said, “you are getting very low on fuel“.  No kidding…. Whew, I made it to the exit at the bottom of the mountain pass and with barely a vapor of fumes left in the fuel tank I drove into the gas station.

The gas station is part of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and the Wild-horse Casino and Rv park are right next door.  And that will be my stop for the afternoon/evening.  I think I’ve had enough excitement for one evening.

Well actually I did drive into Pendelton where I had to go to the Pendelton wool factory and purchased a great Native American inspired blanket.  Something I've wanted for quite some time.

Distance Traveled:  126 miles.  Sunnyside Washington

A short drive today as I continue heading towards the Olympia Peninsula and a visit with a few friends in the area.

Yakima Washington.  What a name.  I love it.  Yakima.

Yakima has a number of tourist attractions but today I wanted to concentrate on just two.  The first is the Yakima Indian Painted Rocks.  I was able to get GPS directions quite easily, but unfortunately, because of past vandalism, the site has been closed off to tourists.  I still tried to see the area but was not able to actually see the pictographs.  A shame, but I guess the Internet information and pictures will have to do.

in search of Indian paintings

many rivers in the area which help the local farmers

The second thing I wanted to see in the area is the Yakima Electric Railway Museum and trolley.  Got there a bit early and was able to tour the electric generating plant and then take the first trolley tour of the day.  The power plant produced A/C current and was then converted to D/C power for use on the trolley lines.  The longest part of the trolley rails were still in use starting in 1907 up until 1985 and went from Yakima to Selah eight miles away.  It served as transport for all the fruit orchards as well as passenger service.  Unfortunately the rails were torn up shortly after it was discontinued, as that would have made for a great trolley ride and would have been the longest one in the U.S.  The actual use as a freight hauler is what kept it in service for so long.

a short one mile ride

The actual trolley ride in town is a bit of a disappointment traveling only about a mile and in that the conductor stopped at the end of each block and gave a lecture or permitted the passengers to “run” the trolley which took forever.  The best part of the whole thing was being able to go into the trolley warehouse where there are three more trolleys, and two electric train engines from the earliest ones ever made.  Lots of history as the use of trolleys across the U.S. had a relatively short life what with the development of Fords Model A and Model T cars.

the storage barn

the 2nd electric train ever built

On the way back from Yakima I took a detour to see the Teapot Dome gas station.  Built back in 1922 as a memorial to the Teapot Dome oil scandal during President Harding’s tenure in office.  He made it possible for two oil titans to secure rights to the oil without competition.  When found out, the supreme court ruled against the transaction, Harding eventually died in office, possibly due to the scandal.  This was also an era when whimsical buildings were built to entice the traveler to stop and purchase gas or other items.  What a great little building.  Wish they’d build more stuff like this today.

the Tea Pot Dome  gas station

this area is noted for growing grapes/wine fruit trees and Hops
for making beer

lots of fruits and vegetables gown in the area
a local paper lists all the farms and what is in season for purchase

more pictures on PICASA