Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Crab-a-Rang Bound, or “The Road to Abilene?”

Couer d’Alene, WY to Winchester Bay, OR – Sept 13 to 19, 2016


We are getting ready to undertake an adventure that is unusual for us. Meeting up with a group of strangers for a weeks activities. And the activity is one neither of us is sure about. Dipping for crabs. Now EJ loves Alaskan King Crabs,


so we figured a crabs a crab, right? We contacted the organizer Diana Ruelens to let her know we were coming.

Then it was time to get out of Couer d’Alene, ID. We didn’t want to waste any time as we wanted to arrive early and possible snare one of the “prime” spots on “C” Dock which was to be close to all the action.

So this meant we had about 6 days to make the trip. Time enough to explore for a day or two if we found something really interesting.

We left without a firm destination for the first night, much to the chagrin of EJ. This means more work for her along the way as she has to figure it out. But, she found an possible location near Umatilla, OR. A BLM park named Plymouth Campground in Washington, just across the Columbia River from Oregon.

But on our way there we had a few moments of panic. There are several things that strike fear in the heart of an RVer. A blowout, not enough room to turn around and a low clearance bridge to name a few. Most bridges have a minimum of 13 foot 6 inches clearance. But here, we encountered a bridge that looks too low, has no clearance information, and has no place to turn around. Arghh!!!


We drove slowly forward, already committed. There was no turn around space, so we may as well unhook right at the bridge if the clearance isn’t enough to clear Big Guy. We ease right up to the bridge and discover that because the railroad bridge is at the low point of a dip in the road, it gives the illusion of being lower than it actually is. We clear it and drive the next half mile to Plymouth BLM CG where we get our 50% geezer discount.

Luckily there are a couple of spots left and we grab one. This is a popular fishing spot and the campground is almost full. We get settled in and go for a walk. Gabby is very unhappy.


The next day we continue on Oregon Hiway 14 on the northern shore of the Columbia River. Its a beautiful drive, peaceful and interesting, unlike the Interstate on the other side of the river.


But alas, we soon cross over and join the crowds on their mad rush to Portland or some other big city. That’s Ranier in the background.


The Columbia River from Interstate 84 going west.


The cats have assumed their travel positions.


Once again we find ourselves mulling over where to spend the night. We hate having to make reservations because we may want to drive fewer miles or more miles as the day goes on. We’re still trying to save a few bucks and stay away from the commercial campgrounds. So we pick a state park near Portland and pull in only to find it’s full. None of the other campgrounds in the area meet our price criteria so we press on. Unfortunately it’s rush hour as we approach Portland.


We fall back on our old standby, the  Elks Lodges. we find one in Vancouver, so we find ourselves back in Washington again. As we pull in, there is only one spot left big enough to comfortably accommodate us.

We busily set about unhooking Sunny from Big Guy and disaster struck. Sunny went completely absolutely unresponsive. It wouldn’t start, it wouldn’t go in neutral, all it would do is set there still connected to Big Guy.

The clock is ticking, it’s been a long day, we’re both tired and I’m convinced our spot at the Elk’s will disappear. We try jumper cables. Nothing! Here we are blocking the entrance to the Elk’s Lodge and we can’t move because we can’t get Sunny unhooked and it’s stuck in park.

Finally I resort to the Internet to seek a solution. This is what I find. There is a super secret location where you place the electronic key fob when your 2014 Ford Explorer gets stupid. Apparently this spot has a direct link to the “brains” of the car. Suddenly everything works again. It’s MAGIC!!

We are able to joggle the car enough to unhook it and move Big Guy to the empty spot. Whew! That was plenty enough excitement for one day!

The next day, head on to Tillamook. There is another Elks Campground there about 5 miles south of town. We call ahead and they can accommodate us for 3 nights but then we have to skeedaddle because they have a big group coming in.

But it’s OK because we discover plenty of neat stuff to do. For instance, a brewery…


Gorgeous coastline…


Playing with the ocean…


Hillside towns…


Just goofin…


Watching sunsets…


And of course no visit to Tillamook is complete without a visit to the Cheese Factory.


Our bounty…


The coast is so beautiful, here we just to have to spend some more time visiting it. So a picnic on the beach is just the thing.


As we have been driving back and forth to the campground and we keep seeing this huge structure.P1090990

It turns out to be one of two blimp hangers at this site. Actually it’s the only one left, the other having been destroyed in a fire. The hangars were constructed during WWII and because of material shortages, were constructed entirely of wood. It is the largest wooden clear span structure in the world.

8 large blimps were staged here during the war and were used for anti-submarine patrols and convoy escort. The blimps traveled slowly making it easy to spot submarines and drop torpedoes in the water.


We also found an obscure waterfall near Tillamook that made a hike worthwhile. Munson Creek Falls State Park is at the end of a long dirt road. But it was definitely worth it.


Our time is up in Tillamook and we move on to another Elks Lodge in Newport, OR. This one is close to the harbor area of Newport and we spend an afternoon exploring it. Surprise, it has a tap room/restaurant.


And a west coast harbor wouldn’t be complete without a colony of seals.


Time to head to Salmon Harbor and the Crab-a-Rang.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Poking around Pocatello

Sullivan Mobile Home and RV Park, Pocatello, ID – 7-31 to 8-2-2016


EJ, ever deligent in her quest to hold down our camping costs, used the Passport America guide and


found the Sullivan Mobile Home and RV Park combination for $15/nite.

Sullivan RV-Tents

And, they weren’t picky about the number of days you could use the 50% rate. Since it was a mobile home park, we weren’t expecting much, but we were here to do research, not enjoy the ambience.

It appeared they had 6 sites for transient RVs (that’s us). But when we arrived, 2 were filled, 2 were reserved, and of the 2 left we could barely squeeze into one of them, but we did. We tried to find someone to pay, but the office was deserted. So we stuck our payment for two days into the mail slot on the front door and hoped they got it.

It was scorching hot so we were thankful for the full hookups and crank the air conditioning down to get comfortable. Our spot was shaded from from about noon on so that helped with the heat.

We made a supply run to Walmart and picked up dinner from Panda Express to take back to the RV. We were beat after a long day, and the heat wasn’t helping any. And it could have been the anxiety over our lack of direction.

We are still not sure about where to go next. 10,000 feet, like Leadville, is not entirely off the list, but if we can find somewhere lower, but still cooler, that would preferable. Fires and smoke are a major deterrent. Several places we would like to go either have access blocked by fire or are covered with smoke from the fires.

Meh! EJ thinks maybe Frank will get out of his funk if he goes to a micro-brewery. Using her trusty computer, she finds one right here in Pocatello named Portnuef Valley Brewing.


The owner decided to put her chemistry degree to good use and opened a brewery. It’s the only one in Pocatello and it is quite popular. We are trying to be good and keep the carb intake low so we order an antipasta salad and it was YUUUGE! And good! So were the brews.


Our two days are up and we think we have a plan. But at the RV Park we run into a guy who claims to be the manager. He asks if we are leaving today. Well it is about noon, and we aren’t unhooked yet. So I slip him another $15. He quickly lets me know that with tax it’s $16. What? Nowhere did it say anything about tax. But he generously let’s us off the hook for not paying tax for the previous two nights.

We use the extra day to firm up our decision to head to Sun Valley. Nina and Paul over at Wheelingit.us had mentioned that Ketchum was an interesting place to visit.

But as we begin plotting our course, I want to go one way, and the Rand McNally GPS wants to go another. Now the frustrating thing about this GPS, is that when it gets really obstinate, like it is now, it’s has always been right. But it wont tell you why. I like my way better, because it is much shorter. But no matter how much I search, I can’t figure out why my route won’t work. More on this in a later post.

For now, we are pointed towards Arco, ID and the Atomic Museum.