Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Quick Tour of the Oregon Coast

Yesterday we took a motorcycle ride to the Oregon Coast. We went with one other rider who lives here in the park and loves to ride. He has made the trip many times. We followed the Umpqua River all the way to the coast, about 60 miles away. We took a side trip to Loon Lake where we had lunch on the patio overlooking the lake, then stopped again to watch elk wandering about in a meadow.

We arrived in Reedsport and turned south on highway 101 to Winchester Bay where we again took a side trip out to Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. This area has one of the largest coastal sand dune areas in the country, and the place was crawling with ATV's. It was interesting to see and it looks like it gets lots of use in the summer time.

We continued south to Coos Bay where we stopped for blackberry pie and coffee, then on to Coquille where we turned east and rode back through the coastal mountains to Roseburg and back home again. The total trip was almost exactly 200 miles. This was our first trip with the new seat, and it worked great for me. Dianna is thinking she might like to have a minor adjustment to the side of the seat, but we're going to wait until we are past the break in period before we do anything.

We'll probably make another trip or two to the coast while we are here. We would like to explore a little more on our own, and take a few photos. There was a lighthouse we would like to visit and many other things that we would like to check out.

Lakes and Rivers

One of the things we have missed about our life on wheels is boating. We gave our boat to Darin, who is using it a great deal. After doing some research we found that several other full time RV'ers have found a way. Some of you may remember our Zodiac inflatable from many years ago. It was much larger than what we have room for now, but it did introduce us to the possibilities of high quality inflatables. After a lot of research we settled on a PaddleSki 435 from Sea Eagle. It is a very versatile boat. It can be paddled like a kayak, rowed like a boat, sailed, or powered by either an electric or gas motor. It comes with just the paddles, and that's all we have for now.

We got it about a month ago and have been waiting for a good place to try it out. This area around Sutherlin is perfect. There is a small reservoir just a couple miles from us and we took the boat there for our first outing. It inflates with a foot pump and we were soon off. We quickly discovered that even with two of us paddling, the going is relatively slow and the work hard. We paddled about a quarter of a mile up the lake and back. When it was still it was not bad, but when going into the wind it was tough. A couple speedboats went by and set up some pretty good wakes. That gave us an opportunity to experience the boat in rough seas, and we found it very stable. All in all, it was a good first outing and the time on the lake was very nice. It did convince us that we need to get a motor, probably just an electric trolling motor, if we plan to do any serious lake boating.

A few days later we decided to try our hand at floating the Umpqua River. It flows through Roseburg and is only a few miles from us. We had to stage vehicles so we left the motorcycle at the take out point about 2 miles down river from where we launched the boat. The river is quite low at this time, so there are a lot of rocks. The current moves right along so the paddling was quite easy. The first rapids we hit were the worst, and we both got wet. We got hung up on rocks a couple more times, but nothing real serious. It was a lot of fun. There were long stretches where we floated along with the current, watching Canadian geese come in for landings and enjoying the beautiful scenery along the way. We're looking forward to a much longer trip in a few days.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

On to Southern Oregon

A lot has happened since our last post. We were in Red Bluff for about 2 1/2 weeks while we waited for our truck to be fixed. We took advantage of the delay with a little more sight seeing and taking advantage of a silver lining to the black cloud of breakdowns.

We drove down to Corning, CA to visit the "Olive Capital" of the world. Sure. I wonder how many places call themselves that? I know Lindsay, CA in the San Joaquin valley also calls itself that, but I guess the distinction is that Lindsay produces mostly black olives. Corning has only green olives. We went to two different tasting rooms and tried various offerings. It was interesting what they thought of to do to olives, but we bought nothing since neither of us are big olive affectionados.

As for the silver lining, our motorcycle seat has always been uncomfortable when riding for long distances. There are a couple custom seat manufacturers in the country, one of which is located just north of Redding. I had called them a couple months ago about having a custom seat made, but the were booked up for the summer. Since we were in the area and had time on our hands, I called on Monday the 13th to see if they ever had cancellations. It turned out that their Thursday appointment had just cancelled, so we were in luck.

We rode up first thing Thursday morning and they measured us and took photos of us sitting on the bike. We returned about 11:30 for a test sit, then again at 4 PM when it was done. In addition to the seat, with velour inserts, we ordered a driver backrest and had a custom backrest pad made for Dianna that attaches to the storage trunk on the back. We have not taken any long trips with the new seat yet, but so far it is much more comfortable that the stock seat. They tell us that it takes about 1,000 miles of riding for it to get completely broken in. So far, so good.



The truck was finally fixed and we picked it up on Friday, the 17th. Let's just say that it was not an inexpensive repair. Saturday morning we headed north again, toward our goal of the Olympic Peninsula. We got as far as Sutherlin, OR where our club has a very nice RV park. At first we planned to stay for the weekend and leave on Monday but decided to stay an extra day.

When we were in Lassen a couple weeks earlier, I had a weird experience. I saw flashes of light at the periphery of my vision in my right eye. It was something I had never seen before. Since then I have had a lot of floaters in the eye. My vision was fine, but I decided I should have it checked. It turns out that there is a major VA hospital in Roseburg, 10 miles south of Sutherlin. I went there on Monday and the ophthalmologist checked me out.

It turns out that what happened is very normal. It happens to most everyone, but not everyone even notices it. Occasionally some of the fluid in the eyeball will harden and pull away from the retina. When it does it can cause floaters for a few weeks until things get reabsorbed. In my case, when the fluid pulled away, it tore a tiny capillary which caused a little blood to leak into the fluid. This made my floaters more than normal. It is not a problem and I should be back to normal in a couple more weeks. I'm glad I had it checked.

After the VA hospital visit, we did some thinking and some more research. We are approximately 9 weeks behind our original schedule for the summer, and after checking the seasonal temperature averages for the Olympic Peninsula for September, we decided we did not want to go any further north than where we are now. The weather here in Sutherlin is beautiful this time of year. Except for the day we arrived, the highs have been in the low to mid 80's and the nights in the 50's. There is much to see and do around here, and the park we are staying in is one of the nicest we have ever been in.

We've already been busy exploring the area, but that will wait for the next post.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

From the Frying Pan to the Freezer and Back

Since we are stuck here while our truck is repaired, we decided to take advantage of our location and do some more sight seeing. It has been over 100 every day here in Red Bluff, so we decided to go somewhere cooler. California Highway 36 runs from Red Bluff to Eureka through the coastal mountain range. It is advertised as the "curviest road in California" and is a magnet for motorcyclists. We decided that a motorcycle trip was just what we needed.

[caption id="attachment_748" align="aligncenter" width="300"] I know my thumb is in the photo, but this was taken from the motorcycle with my phone camera.[/caption]


We checked the weather forecast before we left, so we packed cold weather gear. The ride to Eureka was beautiful and fun. We rode through the oak covered foothills and were soon in the pines, climbing over mountain passes and following rivers through canyons. It was still hot until we got to about 20 miles from the coast. We then put in our jacket liners, and were soon cold even with that. The coast was covered in high fog and it was only 63 when we arrived in Eureka.

[caption id="attachment_749" align="aligncenter" width="300"] The Pacific Coast south of Eureka, CA[/caption]


We had good luck with Travelocity's Secret Hotels last year when we visited Nashville, so we tried again this time. We chose a two star hotel in Eureka and ended up at the Travelodge. It is not a two star hotel. It was extremely dated, run down and very disappointing. Unfortunately, once you commit to the Secret Hotel you cannot get your money back or cancel, so we were stuck. We went to dinner at Marie Calendar's and split what we thought was a nice dinner. The next morning we both had lower intestinal distress, so we must have gotten some kind of food poisoning since we shared the meal.

We got a late start due to not feeling well, but were on the road by about 10:30. It was cold! The temperature was 52 when we left and it did not get above 60 until we left the coast late in the afternoon. We wore our full cold weather gear and were comfortable. It just makes it harder to get on and off the bike when all bundled up. We rode north on Hwy 101 through Redwoods National Park, stopping at the visitor center and to take a hike through some of the redwoods. It was beautiful but cold and damp. Then again, maybe it's beautiful because it is cold and damp.

[caption id="attachment_750" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Big Tree in Redwoods National Park, 304 feet tall and 1500 years old.[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_751" align="aligncenter" width="300"] You feel small walking through the Redwood Forest[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_752" align="aligncenter" width="225"] The hanging moss was very pretty.[/caption]


We took a side road toward the coast to an overlook where the Klamath River flows into the sea.


[caption id="attachment_759" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Klamath River Estuary and Pacific Coast to the South[/caption]

We stopped for fuel again in Crescent City, CA and headed inland on US 199 toward Grants Pass, OR. It was another beautiful ride through the coastal mountains but we stripped off our cold weather gear within about 30 miles. It continued to get hotter as we neared Grants Pass and turned south on I-5 to Medford, OR where we spent the night. It was in the mid 90's when we arrived at 5 PM.

Yesterday we got an early start. We left the hotel, a very nice place called the Brookside Inn, at about 9 AM and headed south on I-5. The temperatures kept climbing and had reached the upper 90's by the time we passed Mt. Shasta and Shasta Lake. We stopped for fuel again in Redding where the temperature had climbed to 102, and it was only noon. We had a wet T-shirt contest as we both soaked our shirts. The 30 mile ride to Red Bluff was comfortable, but if we had gone any further we would have needed to soak our shirts again. Amazing how quickly you can dry a shirt in 100 degree weather at 70 MPH.

We really enjoy touring by motorcycle but we sure would enjoy it more if we weren't roasting or freezing!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Lassen Volcanic National Park

[caption id="attachment_739" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Lassen Volcanic National Park Entrance[/caption]

Time to update the blog. We left Park Sierra near Coarsegold, CA on the 30th of July and headed north. We got as far as north of Sacramento when we began to experience problems with the truck. It would not shift properly. We stopped in a rest area and made arrangements for a mobile truck service the following day. Fortunately, we found a good spot where we could put out our slides, so we just spent the night in the rest area.

The next day the truck service guy came out and spent about 2 hours trying to figure out what was causing the problem. Suddenly the fault went away and we could not make it reappear. We took the truck for a test drive and everything seemed OK, but neither of us was sure it was fixed. We hooked up to the trailer and headed north. About 20 miles up the road it began acting up again. We stopped in Red Bluff and found a nice RV park.

The following day we took the truck to the Volvo dealer in Redding, about 30 miles north. We left the truck there and decided on a whim to return to Red Bluff via Lassen Volcanic National Park, a detour of about 120 miles. It was well worth the extra miles. Lassen is one of the volcanic peaks in the Cascade Range. Others of note are Mt. Ranier, Mt. Shasta, and Mt. St. Helens. Lassen last erupted in 1915. We climbed out of the 100+ temperatures in Redding into the cool pines at over 8,000 feet. Lassen itself is rather stark as it lost a big piece when it blew in 1912. It was not as spectacular as Mt. St. Helens when it blew, but close.

The next day we got the word that the truck needed a new transmission computer which would take a week to get. Since we were stuck, we decided to do some exploring. After all, where ever we park is home. That afternoon we drove back up to Lassen and took a hike we would have liked to have done the previous day, had it not been so late.

Lassen is still quite active. There are mud pots and geysers in several locations. We took the 3 mile round trip hike to Bumpass Hell. It reminded both of us of Yellowstone.

[caption id="attachment_741" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Bumpass Hell from above[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_742" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Wooden walkways in Bumpass Hell[/caption]


Steam Vents and Mud Pots in Bumpass Hell

There were some pretty lakes and lots of other scenery as well.


[caption id="attachment_745" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Lake Helen[/caption]

After our hike and some more touring we continued on to Redding again where we unloaded the motorcycle from the truck and I drove it back to Red Bluff, following Dianna in the car. We have some more travel plans for this week, using the motorcycle. Stay tuned.