Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Best Sister Possible

My sister Sallee was the first born in our family - a family that eventually grew to include her and three brothers.

I was the second child, but by the time I came along about 18 months after Sallee, her tendency to question everything was already obvious. She was a young explorer and didn't expect to be stopped.

Sallee was a leader and a teacher. She taught me all sorts of stuff, including how to climb furniture, skate, and read. I was very slow learning to speak because there wasn't any need. Sallee would speak for me.

Pretty cute kids if I do say so myself. Easter Sundays were carefully documented in Mom's collection of pictures.

As the family grew, the picture count decreased. About the only pictures were either from camping trips or the pictures for Christmas cards.

Sallee developed an aversion to having her picture taken, especially if she was surrounded by brothers.

Sallee went away to college and came home with Jim. Turns out, Jim wasn't just a flash in the pan. They married, and spent their entire married life in ministry of one form or another.

Sallee was the smartest one in the family, maybe because she would actually study. She eventually went on to get her PhD.

I loved having a slightly older sister but hated being challenged to be 'as good' as my sister. I especially enjoyed the one class we took together in college. She got an 'A.' I got a grade that wasn't good enough to transfer! I figured if authors wanted you to read something into their writing they would have said so.

Sallee and Jim enjoyed their life of ministry together.

Last September she was diagnosed with brain cancer which was first noticed when it took her ability to form a sentence - tough for someone who has served as a counselor to ministers and missionaries for the past 20+ years.

Today, Sallee took her last breath on this earth and has gone home to her Heavenly Father. I'll miss her smile.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Small Town, Oregon

We spent a night boondocking in Brownsville's Pioneer Park so we could wander around town. A very casual operation with a field set aside for tent and RV camping. Totally unmarked - just pick whatever spot catches your fancy. If the host isn't around, you just stop by City Hall to pay the $15 fee.

A lot of the little towns work hard to create a connection to the historic Oregon Trail.

Historic houses vary from the well-kept or recently restored, to those that look like there's no possibility for revival.

Lots of brick buildings with masonry effects to highlight their imposing presence. (The quilt shop was just down the street to the left.)

All of the towns highlight their connection to the rivers. The Umpqua was dammed in 1903 - this dam dates to 1916.

It seemed like lots of the little towns were in a contest to see who could get the most color on their main street. I'm not sure if the flowers were picked because of the building color or if it was just luck. The baskets of flowers were impressive!

Roseburg has to get the nod for the most unique 'traffic calming' devices - concrete stumps! Elkton, however, one upped them by using concrete trees at the bridge coming in to town.

Farmer's Markets, both public like this one, and individual farm stores, were ubiquitous. The peaches were wonderful as were the tomatoes and zucchini.

Turk didn't seem to be concerned at all about the eagle attacking the fish. I was really surprised that there wasn't any info to be found about the art or the artist.

We took a day trip out to the ocean in search of fish and chips. We found the town of Elkton on the way, and almost stopped at the Pastry Mill but we'd already had breakfast and had other ideas about lunch.

Monkey Business in Charleston had 5 stars from Yelp for their fish and chips. Unfortunately, the camera wasn't fast enough to get a picture of the product. Suffice it to say, we'd come back!

We spent a week at Timber Valley, an Escapees affiliated park. They had a parade of decorated golf carts to start off the 4th of July.

It appears that they also had golf cart drag races, but that wasn't on the schedule. This is the second Escapees park we've stayed at. They're different from one another but both are highlighted by friendly people.

With the holiday in the rear view mirror, it's time to move on.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


Given our intentionally different routing this trip, it took us a while to get to Oregon. It's not that we've been avoiding it, it just didn't line up. Finally, we got to Oregon with the full intent of staying a while. (A while is NOT a mathematical construct and varies greatly depending on mood, weather, and pressure.)

As we expected, we faced a stiff headwind all the way down the Columbia River. Unlike the last time we were here, we only spotted one solitary wind surfer this time.

Since we weren't in a rush, we dawdled along a stretch of the old highway,

checking out the basalt outcroppings. When you start to realize the extent of the basalt coverage throughout Eastern Washington and Oregon, it's quite clear that things got a bit warm here, multiple times. (Some claim the basalt is nearly 6000 feet thick near Yakima.)

We pulled off in the little town of Mosier because there was supposed to be a Porche museum. Turns out the museum serves ice cream, but doesn't have any handy RV parking.

The biggest find of the trip was the Warung Mosier where we turned around. It's an Indonesian food cart, but they're only open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and we passed through there on Monday... The fact that they had gado-gado on their menu made it doubly disappointing that we missed them.

While we missed a special meal, we did get to catch glimpses of Mt. Hood standing out in the distance.

We looped around the east and south sides of the mountain on our way to Newberg. Not only did we manage to bypass most of the Portland area traffic, but we also got to see some sites we wouldn't have seen otherwise.

We enjoyed a couple days at our favorite Oregon moochdocking location and got to see some of our friends, while the eldest was in Alaska but not catching fish.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tri-Cities in June - Are You Crazy??

If you've paid any attention, it's pretty clear we didn't lay out the most efficient route for our Northwest swing this year. After leaving family in Western Washington, we headed back to the east side.

At least this time, Mt. Rainier was out in all it's glory. It was even visible when we got to Yakima, once again crossing over White Pass. I wasn't about to tackle Ft. Lewis traffic from Olympia to be able to drive Chinook Pass!

We settled in to a site at Hood Park in Burbank, Washington. Hood Park is a Corp of Engineers campground located at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers. The sites at this park are electric only, but the availability of electric was an important consideration!

The campground is quite beautiful and the price was exceptionally good. I would have snagged one of the riverfront sites, but they were already booked up when I made reservations four months ago. The campground was full every day we were there.

The Tri-Cities are located along the Columbia and Snake Rivers with a handful of bridges connecting them. Over the years, Richland, Kennewick, and Pasco have grown together so that their borders are essentially indistinguishable. These cities are closely associated with the Hanford Project and home to the first production plutonium reactor in the world.

Our reason for visiting Eastern Washington in late June was to attend the 8th Annual Tri-Cities Geocoin Challenge. I thought about it two years ago but the temps were 115 degrees or so. I chickened out last year because I come to Washington to avoid the heat, but we took the gamble this year and hit the jackpot with temps mostly in the 80's.

The event runs for four days, with the Saturday challenge by far the best attended day. This year they had over 700 people attend the event.

Turk wasn't too sure of the crowds but appreciated the attention he got. I think he was a bit jealous when BJ and I got a picture with Signal, geocaching's mascot.

The theme for this year's event was Fire and Ice with a nod to the lava and glaciers that shaped the area. The listing of the caches to be found was frozen into individual bags for ice for each team.

Caches were scattered equally across the municipalities which made for a lot of driving, but we knew that in advance. We were glad that we took the time to load the caches into our Garmin Nuvi for driving instructions as well as into my handheld GPS.

The event was based out of Sacajawea State Park which had temporary tent camping available. The tents came in all sizes!  I was glad we'd booked a spot with electric service across the river where our air conditioner got used the most it's been used in at least a year.

They had some great food trucks at most of the events, and huge boxes of donuts at the final park clean-up event.

If you found at least seven of the eight special caches in each municipality, you received a set of trackable geocoins. Yes, four coins for the four municipalities in the Tri-Cities. West Richland apparently doesn't count or didn't exist when the Tri-Cities moniker was bestowed on the area.

Temps did hit 101 Sunday afternoon but that was still way better than what the Phoenix area was experiencing.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Family Time

Both BJ and I were born and raised near the Puget Sound and we never pass on an excuse for a ferry ride - especially when it means avoiding a drive through downtown Seattle. We left Port Townsend headed to Edmonds in the most direct manner.

Last August, I spent a couple weeks volunteering at my sister's office. Less than a month later, she was diagnosed with brain cancer. It's been a challenging year for her and her family, and one of our key stops was to spend some time with them.

Both of my brothers showed up as well and we had a wonderful time telling stories about one another and visiting some of our favorite Seattle haunts. I didn't recall the statue of Ivar,

but a visit to Ivar's is just about mandatory any time we visit Seattle.

We also convinced my brother-in-law to face the traffic so we could visit the Pike Street market - even more crowded than I remember,

but the resulting purchase turned out excellent.

After a few days with my family, it was time to visit BJ's family.

On the way south we spotted this truckload of hand crafted kayaks and canoes - if you have an imagination. Seriously, it was a load of beautiful 5/4 western red cedar just begging to be put to good use.

Any time we return to Tumwater, a visit to Eagan's is required. In this case, we went there before visiting any family. BJ's cousin recently posted a foodie review of Eagan's so that saves me the effort. This is the Smitty's burger which isn't on their published menu...

This year we went back to the American Heritage Campground. We'd stayed here two years ago and then stayed at the Airstream Club park last year. This year we hit the jackpot with a super deep, very private W/E site that actually got some sunshine in the afternoons. I'm pretty sure it was site 57 but I forgot to write it down.

We managed to time the visit just right and got to help my brother-in-law with a decking project. He had the frame all done and a portion of the deck laid. I enjoy these one day projects - enough to feel like I helped without it becoming work.