Monday, September 14, 2015

Oregon Update

I've been sick.  Yuck!!  And that's one of the reasons I haven't posted any updates recently. Somehow crossing the border into Oregon resulted in me catching a cold.  Or the flu.  Or the Plague.

But I'm still alive so here are the highlights (and lowlights) of the Oregon section of my west coast road trip - so far . . .

I spent a couple of nights at Fort Stevens State Park and then a couple more at Stub Stewart State Park.  While a did a little hiking and sightseeing, I mostly just hung out in the MoFo.  The good news is that it's an okay space to hang out in when you're not feeling well.

    Wreck of the Peter Iredale, Fort Stevens State Park

After that I headed to fabulous Hillsboro to spend a few days with my daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, Jeremiah.  They were great hosts and it was nice to spend a few days recuperating there.  AND Jeremiah didn't seem too panicked that I might be abandoning my life on the road to live with them full time.

After Labor Day I headed back to the Oregon coast and spent a couple of nights at Nehalem Bay State Park.  I'd never been to this campground before and it is now one of my favorites.  Easy access to the beach on one side and the bay on the other.  Plus the weather was very nice.

    The "bay" side, Nehalem Bay State Park

On Thursday we headed to Tillamook.  We decided to go the cheap route and stayed at the Port of Tillamook RV Park where it's only $12 a night.  Other than the lack of hookups and the constant smell of cows, it was a pretty okay spot.  The only other folks I saw my first night appear to be living there.  A little creepy but okay.

    The Mofo at Port of Tillamook RV Park

I did the usual touristy things, including a visit to De Garde Brewery and the Tillamook Cheese Factory.

On Saturday I decided it was time to move on, even though I had not made a reservation for that evening.  Our first stop was for breakfast at the Blue Agate Cafe in Oceanside.  (Okay, only I got breakfast.  Rudy stayed in the MoFo.)  Then we headed up to Cape Meares State Park.  We hiked down to the beach and then visited the lighthouse.

    Cape Meares Lighthouse

When we hit the road about 2:00 PM, I had about four options for camping that night.  Two state parks and county park were both full.  That led me on to Lincoln City and the Chinook Winds Casino, which was also full and not accepting additional RVs for the night!  Long story short, I ended up stealth camping in the Boiler Bay Scenic Wayside.  Thankfully we were not visited by Oregon State Police during the night cuz I was dang tired.

In the morning we moved on to the Rocky Creek Wayside, which we had to ourselves for a couple of hours.  It is a great viewpoint for watching the surf crash against the rocks.  And for sitting in the MoFo watching the first games of the NFL season.  A little later I noticed a few small boats offshore and realized they were whale watching excursions!  That made it easy to spot the whales playing and feeding just offshore!

    Watching football at Rocky Creek Wayside

I was determined not to miss out on a campsite that night so we hit the road about 1:30 PM.  Our first stop was Beverly Beach State Park, which, amazingly, was already full for Sunday evening.  We hit the same problem elsewhere and finally I pulled over to figure out a Plan B.  Using my Passport America membership, I snagged a spot at Whale's Rest RV Resort south of Newport.  It's a Thousand Trails resort and I was expecting it to be kinda plush.  Especially since the half price cost was almost $30!  Let me just say that the state parks I've been staying in are much nicer.  I was out of there by Noon Monday morning

So, after a short lunch stop at the very fine Hilltop Cafe Bistro in Waldport (great sandwiches and a nice beer selection. Plus free WiFi) we're off to my favorite campground - Tillicum Beach, which is about four miles from here.  If we can get in we'll stay there a few days and wait out the rainy weather expected through Wednesday.

If we can get in . . .

Rialto Beach

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Cape Disappointment State Park

I spent a couple of blustery days at Cape Disappointment State Park on the southwest corner of the state of Washington.  Actually, this is my last spot before moving on to Oregon.

I arrived Friday afternoon to my $41.50 per night spot (without hookups by the way).  The good news is that Rudy and I were right next to the beach.  The bad news is that Rudy and I were right next to the beach!  That meant she could bark at ever dang person - and dog - that walked by!

It was overcast but in spite of the sprinkles, Rudy and I enjoyed our beach walk.  However, when we got back to the MoFo it began to rain, which kinda killed my outdoor reading / pipe smoking time.  Plus there was was no cell service at my camp site.  Sheesh!

It rained through the night and by morning the winds began in earnest.  The forecast was for 30-40 mph sustained winds with gusts up to 70 mph.  That's a sure sign from God that I should do a little hiking.

I drove up to the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center which is also the parking lot to trek up to the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.  The Interpretive Center normally has a $5 entrance fee but it turns out they'd lost power so were not charging visitors who braved the weather to drop by.  It is situated on a bluff overlooking the ocean and DANG it was blowing hard up there!

As I headed back down to the MoFo I changed my plans and decided to check out the trail to the lighthouse at Cape Disappointment.  Lots of leaves, bushes and branches across the path, which added to the adventure!

The lighthouse is at the top and, holy crap, you could really feel the intensity of the storm from up there.  The wind was strong and steady and if the gusts I felt weren't at 70 mph, I think they were dang close!  It was a great experience and while I couldn't tour the lighthouse, I came away with an even better sense of why it's needed.  The weather was fierce!

Would I stay here again?  Maybe.  It's a cool spot but for over $40 a night (without hookups) it seems way too expensive.

Top Ten Realizations After One Month of Living on the Road

I've been on the road for a month now and, for the most part, it's been what I expected.  No huge, life altering surprises but not everything is exactly what I expected either.  So, here are my . . .

Top Ten Realizations After One Month of Living on the Road

10.  You can never have a big enough data plan!
I started the month at 10 GB and quickly increased it to 15 GB; which I expected I would. I ended up needing a bump to 20GB and struggled to stay within that.  And this was without even trying to stream Netflix or anything else - except a few YouTube videos.  A big part of it is learning to manage the whole thing - and it turns out I'm even more of an Internet junkie than I thought.

9.  I'm not boondocking as much as I should.
My monthly budget for "camping" is $525 but I really hoped I'd come in well below that by camping for free at various boondocking spots along the way.  I only did that once - along the Hoh River, for a couple of days.  Part of it is that I wanted to enjoy some spots in the Olympic National Park but, even still, I need to whittle this back because I spent about $730 this first month.  The good news is that my fuel budget came in $300 under budget, so I'm in good shape.

8.  Nature is fascinating!
I spent most of this past month exploring the Olympic peninsula - especially the Olympic National Forest.  I loved sitting at Fort Worden and staring out at the Strait of Juan de Fuca and watching ships and birds pass by.  Or being at Hurricane Ridge and taking in the views of the Olympics.  And who knew that every night I would want to sit and watch the sunset?  Crazy!

7.  I am reading more and not feeling too guilty about it yet.
I finished four books this past month and got caught up on all the back issues of Outdoor Magazine and Entertainment Weekly I had stacked up.  Sitting outside and reading is one of life's great joys.

6.  There is no TV reception in the State of Washington
While my dependency on television has waned I did find myself checking to see if I could snag any over the air TV signals at each campground I stayed in.  I could not get a signal at even one of the places I stayed in Washington - but as soon as I got into Oregon, I pulled in signals from 12 stations!

5. One episode a night seems to be enough.
Speaking of TV, I have several sets of DVDs with me and I have settled into a routine of watching one episode a night.  I've been working my way through all four seasons of The Tudors.  Even though back "home" I often watched TV for 3-4 hours a night, this one hour of TV has been enough.  (Or maybe its because The Tudors has about three times the sex and violence of most shows.)

4.  I need more quick, easy to fix recipes.
I am not eating as well as I should.  When living in and RV it is easy to gravitate to fixing quick things for a meal.  Not that I ever have gone to great lengths to prepare gourmet meals but I need to find some easy but nutritious things to fix.

3.  Being inside on a rainy day is not so bad.
Over the past week the weather has been pretty miserable.  A lot more rain than we should be seeing for this time of year.  While I know it helps tamp down the fire danger, for me it's kinda crummy.  BUT, when it's rainy and cold, sitting inside the MoFo for hours on end is not as claustrophobic as I would have thought.

2. It's gonna take me longer to see everything than I thought!  
I thought a night or two at each scenic place would be enough but once I get somewhere cool I kinda find that I wanna stay.  For example, I stayed two nights at Lake Quinault but I met some cool people and the setting was gorgeous.  It would have been easy to stay for a week.

And the Number One Realization After One Month of Living on the Road . . .
It feels like home.  Living in the MoFo is is pretty easy, all in all and even though it is a true "tiny house", it definitely feels like home.  And I think Rudy thinks so too.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Bruceport County Park

On the surface Bruceport County Park doesn't have much to recommend it but if you're lucky, you'll be able to enjoy a nice surprise!
The few sites with hookups are side by side on a gravel patch out in the open. The standard campsites are a hodgepodge of spots for tents, RVers and bikers. Finding a spot (without hookups) that was big and level enough for my RV was a challenge. 

    The view from my campsite
However, if you get a site with a view (like A-11 or A-12 and a few others) it makes up for the shortcomings. The park is on a bluff overlooking Willapa Bay and you can see far enough out to watch ships sailing up the Pacific to Puget Sound. 

    The morning view out the door 

There is a half mile trail down to the "beach" - more of a rocky patch, actually - but it was a nice way too get the dog some exercise.
All in all, a decent place to stay for a couple of days.

Rain Forest Resort

I spent my last couple of days in the Olympic National Park on Lake Quinault.  Technically I was just outside the park but I could see if from where I was staying at the Rain Forest Resort. This place was a quiet, relaxing spot to spend a couple of days!

    A bit of the grounds at Rain Forest Resort

As RV parks go, I liked this one a lot.  It was nice to have water and power for a couple of days and the view of the lake was outstanding!

    First night's sunset

Rudy and I hiked a couple of nearby trails and kayaked across the lake to the mouth of the Quinault River.  With the exception of getting caught on a sand bar for a bit, my first kayaking experience was a success!  (And thanks to some dang nice fellow RVers for letting me borrow a kayak!)

    Evidence that Rudy hiked with me

Every night many of the guests set up their chairs with a good view of the lake and the sunset.  On my second night, as I was walking back back to my RV, a fellow RVer asked me if we'd gotten the sun "all tucked in for the night."  I assured him we had.

    Second night's sunset

Sunday, August 23, 2015

South Beach Campground

On Friday morning Rudy and I headed out from our perfect spot on the Hoh Rver and went south on Highway 101. I really wanted to be able to stay at Klaloch Campground but have come to realize that if you want to stay there during the summer, you really need to make reservations months in advance. And I hadn't. 

South Beach Campground is a nearby National Park Campground that is available on a first come, first served basis. I thought that MAYBE if I got there early enough, I might be able to claim a spot for the weekend. 

We got there around 11:30 AM and immediately saw two signs that said "Campground Full." The reservations board also showed that every site was occupied. I drove through anyway and saw a few sites that appeared to be open and took one that, while not in the front row overlooking the beach, still seemed to have a great view. 

    The view from #15

I walked back up to the reservation board just as the park ranger was updating the board. She said that if I had found a spot that appeared to be open (which I had) then to come back in about 15 minutes to see if it was actually available. I got lucky and snagged it for two nights! 

    Sunset the first night

Unlike many places in the ONP, dogs can hang out on this beach - as long as they are on a leash. On the first day Rudy and I walked north on the beach for a couple of miles. On the second day we walked south all the way to the Queets River - about three miles away. And because no one was around, Rudy was off leash just about the entire time!

    Hike down to the Queets River

While the campground is pretty basic (no water, no hookups and all gravel) it redeems itself with it's view of the Pacific Ocean. And the sunsets each night were amazing! 

    Sunset on the second night

It was such a nice spot that I decided to stay a third night!

Hoh River

After visiting the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park on Wednesday I looked for a place to camp. The Hoh Campground looked pretty good (even if it was pretty full) but I really wanted something a little more off the beaten path - and free. 

    Hoh Rain Forest - Spruce River Trail

My first stop was a Road marked with the Discover Pass logo of the Washington Department of Natural Resources. Unfortunately a locked gate blocked my access just a few hundred years in. 

I continued driving down Upper Hoh Road and pulled off in a spot just a couple more miles outside of the park. I thought the gravel road might lead somewhere but after a sharp right turn it opened up into a spot where I could see a few folks had camped before me. I carefully backed in between two tress and staked my claim. 

This site was perfect! It was right on the river, I had it all to myself - and it was free! Rudy and I spent the next two nights just enjoying the beauty of the surroundings. 

    Hoh River

That first evening a guy and his dog dropped by. John and his dog, Loofy(sp), have a favorite swimming hole near where we were camped. After Loofy's swim, our two dogs played while John and I talked for a bit. He lives in Forks (and apparently is not a vampire) and works for the National Park Sevice, I believe. He said this particular spot is one of his favorite on the Hoh River, 

    More Hoh River

The next morning, as I was enjoying my coffee and reading, Rudy came back from a trip down to the river. She nuzzled me to be petted and I immediately realized she had decided to roll in some kind of animal crap! Lucky me! So we grabbed some shampoo and went down to Loofy's swimming hole for a bath. I'm pretty. I'm certain I got wetter than Rudy did. 

    Rudy coated in crap

That night, as I was fixing some dinner, a van drove in. A man got out and asked if he and his son could share our spot for the night. Marcus - and his son Attila - were on a two week trip from their home in Vancouver, BC, to visit parts of Washington and Oregon. They had not been able to find a spot on the Hoh Campground so they looked for a place to boondock for the night. It was fun to get to know them a bit and to make a few suggestions of places for them to visit when they get to Astoria - Fort George Brewery and the Astoria Column.

    Twilight on the Hoh River 

While we didn't have this site completely to ourselves, it was still very quiet and serene. And Rudy was able to be "off leash" most of the time. A great boondocking near the Hoh Rain Forest!

    Sunrise on the Hoh River

Monday, August 17, 2015

Mora Campground / Rialto Beach

We headed out from Hobuck Beach about 1:00 PM on Sunday. Our destination was another spot in the Olympic National Forest - Mora Campground.  It's a good thing we are in no hurry because we seemed to be perpetually stuck behind drivers who thought being 10 mph under the speed limit was the best idea. 

We finally made it to Forks, WA, about 3:00 PM and stopped to snag some groceries. 

Let me just mention that while I was here during daylight hours and didn't see one vampire, of course, I am hard pressed to figure out why they would wanna settle here!

After shopping, we headed down the highway to Mora Campground. For a Sunday, it was pretty full. At least half the sites were occupied but we found one (C57) that work pretty well for the MoFo. We set things up and enjoyed an adult beverage (Fremont Interurban IPA) to reward ourselves for our efforts. And by "we" I mean both Rudy and myself as she loves beer and seemed to sneak more than her fair share today. 

Monday morning was slow and lazy. (But then, so far, life on the road has mostly been pretty "slow and lazy.") we were holding off our visit to Rialto Beach until the afternoon. We wanted to catch low tide, which wasn't until 6:45 PM. 

The good news is that dogs can be on Rialto Beach - unlike most other areas within national parks.  The bad news is that they can only be on a half mile stretch of it and where I want to go - Hole In The Wall - is a mile and a half up the coastline. 

So, Rudy and I strolled as far as we could and were pretty awestruck by the tons of driftwood on this beach. It's like this is the place trees go to die! 

After some lunch I took Rudy back to the MoFo. We hung out there for a bit and then I ventured out on my own to see Hole In The Wall. (Rudy was safe inside the temperature controlled environs of the MoFo while I was gone, btw.)

The walk down the beach was easy - except for the sinking sand and lots of rocks along the way. The reward at the end would be worth pretty much any amount of effort, however. The sea stacks alone are pretty impressive! 

But the reason I'm here is to check out Hole In The Wall. When you come at it from the south while the tide is still going out you may think you won't be able to get very close. But fear not gentle traveler! I have two alternatives for you. The first is to bide your time admiring the view and taking pictures until the tide recedes a bit more OR you can make the trek over the top of the "wall" to the north side where the access is a bit easier. 

I went with option two and while it is a steep climb it's short and the view from on high is worth it!

On the north side there seems to be an abundance of tide pools to explore. And you can get through to Hole In The Wall a bit earlier from this side. After talking more than my fair share of pictures, I worked  my through the Hole and back to the beach on the other side. 

I spent about an hour out there and was impressed with the raw beauty of the place. 

Lots of folks were out there to camp on the beach that night. If Rudy could have joined me, I would have been one of them.  But we sucked it up and stayed in the campground one more night before heading up to visit the Hoh Rain Forest. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015