Point Hudson

One unifying trait of travelers is a passion for variety. Kendra and I love being remote, far from society and people, but we also love being in a city. Being immersed in the culture of a city is fantastic. You get access to music and a plethora of delightful eating experiences. However, cities are large, and most restrict traveler parks to the edges. When we visit Portland, we have wonderful experiences, but often find ourselves spending hours on public transit or driving.

Point Hudson delivers the fully immersed city experience in a tight little package. You park almost on the water, right off of downtown. A five-minute walk took us to any of a dozen different restaurants, a movie theater, numerous bars, shops, and music venues. Staying here was mad fun, and something we will repeat.

May peace find you.

Disappointment and Deception

I chose the title for this blog entry before we had any drama, but disappointment hit us hard two nights ago. We returned from the beach just after sunset, clicked the button to fire up the generator and instead of starting, the entire DC power system shut down.

That system is all of our lighting, our fans, the refrigerator, the water pump, and the starter on the generator. Out came the flashlights and the scramble began. Kendra checked forums for information and I flipped every breaker and pulled every fuse. After three hours of failures, we decided the food would be lost and we would need to move the next day to a plugin to prevent damaging our batteries.

The next morning we packed up, turned on the engine, pressed the button for the slide, and nothing happened. We cussed properly. We needed a plugin, or I had to pull power off the batteries completely. We decided we could limp to another spot within the campground with the slide open. Kendra went to talk to the ranger about a spot while I retracted our levelers. I cussed again because the levelers also would not retract. They are hydraulics that spring retract so no power is involved beyond opening a valve to allow the fluid back into the tray. I cussed a little more as I thought that through.

I hopped on the phone calling mobile repair places. Only one of them was still in business and it had a two to three-week waiting list. He listened to my issue and all the testing I had done, then asked if we had jumper cables. I said yes, wondering where he was going with this. He had me take both positive leads and bypass a solenoid under the passenger seat. This involved physically unbolting and removing that seat. Victory! While Kendra monitored the cable to make sure we didn’t start a fire, I brought in the slide and pulled up the levelers. We were road ready once again.

In my mind, it was pretty obvious the solenoid was bad, so after we landed in a spot where we could plug in to charge up the batteries we went to an auto parts store. The part was not available even for order. Thankfully, we are always watching for ways to upgrade Torta and knew there was an improved solenoid that would grant additional charging to the house batteries as we drove. I had the part number saved on my phone and that was available. We just had to drive to the next town over to get it.

It took me about an hour —in a position that only a Cirque Du Soleil dancer might find comfortable— to get the part swapped. I flipped the house battery switch and nothing happened. Some tremendously creative cussing ensued, and I may have stomped my foot like a child.

We canceled our upcoming reservations, found a spot locally for four more nights, and got onto the waitlist for repairs. The View forum on Facebook had recommended checking a fuse, which I did, but my results were the opposite of what was expected because of the upgraded battery and solar. Now that bypassing a part was in my mind I grabbed my jumper cables and bypassed that fuse. Bingo!

That fuse was a CNN-150 bar fuse. We started calling around for that part and after a couple hours had exhausted every open auto, RV, hardware, and marine store in a hundred-mile radius. It is an older style fuse and everyone carries the newer style called mega instead of CNN. The newer one is a half inch shorter because fuck backward compatibility.

We ordered the part online and I bought one of the mega fuses then hit a hardware store for the parts so I could rig up something until the part came. It took almost 48 hours, and we lost all our items in the refrigerator, but we are safe, with parts on the way, the power is restored, and I am sipping a little whiskey while I write. This will live on as the CNN-150 incident for us.

The cherry on top came at midnight Sunday. Kendra woke me because our shore power kept cycling on and off. With the recent issues, and sleep-fogged brain, I was checking for heat on my temporary patch, and probably looking insane as I ran around trying to figure out what I had done wrong. It turned out the power at the campground was laid in the ’70s and needs upgraded. A big fifth wheel pulled in and when they plugged in it dropped our voltage from 120 to around 100 causing our EMS to cut our power. So not us, and not a big deal, just a little extra middle finger from the world.

I now return you to the regularly scheduled blog entry.

Cape Disappointment

Along the Washington coast, just north of the Columbia river is a twenty-eight-mile beach of the finest sand I have ever seen. Where that beach ends on the southern side is a beautiful bluff with massive trees and two lighthouses named Cape Disappointment. In 1788 a British trader named John Meares came looking for the Columbia River. He found it but somehow managed to think it was a bay and gave that beautiful cape its horrible name. I am guessing rich parents instead of merit landed him his job.

Our site was about two hundred yards from the waves. I spent many hours walking on that beach and listening to the waves hit land. It is a close second to Pismo as my favorite beach. The town of Astoria Oregon was a short drive across a really cool bridge and we enjoyed exploring it as well. I can see why they called it heaven on earth in Star Trek.

Deception Pass

Early mariners must have hated the Washington coast. On the East side of the Salish sea is a gorgeous island with huge trees and magical sunsets. The color of the water during sunsets is beyond words. This area was named by Captain Vancouver and his navigator Joseph Whidbey. They found that what they had hoped was a peninsula with a bay, was actually an island with a deep channel and gave it this awful name. At least they weren’t incompetent.

We stayed on Whidbey Island and could see the sunsets from Torta, though we typically went to the beach for them. It was just perfect until excrement hit the wind generation device.

May peace find you.

Portland Anew

Of the cities I have visited, Portland is far and away my favorite. There are many nice cities in our country, but none call me the way Portland does. It has done an amazing job managing growth boundaries, so you can go from cityscape into farmland or forest with a short drive instead of being surrounded by miles of urban spawl. They didn’t just cut down any inconvenient trees but expended the effort, and money, to preserve them affording the feel of a city in a forest. Serious investment went into public transit making it the nicest I have ever used. It’s the city with pride.

I had watched nervously when the news sources reported massive destruction as the city became a battlefront for that creepy group of heavily armed simpletons who looked like their parents met at a family reunion. Thankfully the news was blown out of proportion and the city is still amazing with very few scars.

We picked July because I have wanted to go to the Blues Festival for a very long time and was thwarted in the past. In addition to the festival, we went to music at two clubs, took two nice hikes, saw a movie, hit enough brewpubs that I lost count, had a long soak at the Everett house, and ate so much good food I may have gone up a belt size. That last item isn’t great news, but everything else was superb.

July is risky because it can get hot. In our final week, the weather turned on us. Temperatures yesterday peaked at 102F, during which we huddled in the dark with part of the rig sectioned off to maximize cooling in the house. This trend was predicted for the rest of the week, and our home has wheels, so we said “F” this and scooted out to the coast. Sitting at Long Beach with the door open, the sun providing my power, and a cool breeze blowing off of the ocean.

May peace find you.

Flattery will get you

At the most north-westerly point of the lower forty-eight states exists a rough road along a jagged coastline. This remote windy road leads to the ruggedly beautiful Cape Flattery touted as the beginning of the world, and home to the cape people. A short hike from the parking lot lies breathtaking views for which I will let the pictures below save me a thousand words.

On the Olympic Peninsula we have had the rainiest spring in over forty years. Memorial day weather was cloudy with a chance of sun, so we snagged a couple friends and did the long drive to the beginning of the world. Our chance of sun came through. We stood at the furthest viewpoint for the better part of an hour, and for most of that it was beautiful and sunny to our left, and cloudy to our right. We shot a little footage of a sea lion warming his belly in the sunlight as he exited the clouds. This is definitely one of my favorite places we have visited.

Cape Flattery

May peace find you.

Stomping Ground

While I love the adventure of traveling, I also enjoy having a habitual and familiar territory. Many years ago my wife and I were learning who the other was existentially, and I remember saying that my perfect environment was in the big trees, with mountains, waterfalls, and ocean views. That statement could be the tag line below the label Pacific Northwest. At that time, I had never been.

This entry is about the territory I can stomp on, right outside my door, without hopping in a car. I don’t have a waterfall, but I have all the rest in spades with a disc golf course as a cherry on top. Nearly every day I put on my boots and walk several miles through the trees, even in the rain. The images below were gathered over the last two weeks on my stomping ground.

May peace find you.

Returning to Roost

The final month of our travels was completely off-grid. Every time we go off-grid I learn a little more about generating and storing power. The early spring sun was lower in the sky than any other time we have gone a full week or more off the grid. Add in some cloudy days, and a lot of fog at Doran, and we ran the generator more than I would have liked. To be fair though, the amount I would like is zero.

The generator time averaged less than a half-hour a day, but that is a lot more than no hours a day. We have purchased a second 200-watt panel to add to our portable panel capabilities. I think that this will be enough to meet our daily needs. If not I will be raising my front top panels six inches so the air conditioner cannot cast a shadow on a panel. I tiny shadow has a ridiculous impact on solar panels.

Doran Beach

Bodega Bay is a beautiful area to visit, but it wasn’t as relaxing as Pismo. Our stay there was windier, foggier, and yet more crowded than Pismo. After two weeks at Pismo, I would find myself laying on my back in the sun after my walk feeling very zen. Doran beach didn’t have that same effect but was beautiful with a gorgeous stretch of beach. We could see the ocean through our front windows and left everything open so we could enjoy that view from the bedroom.

Windy Washington

At the start of April we returned to Chimacum for three months of repairs, upgrades, yearly visits to doctors and vets, and to let our own batteries recharge. Constantly moving is exciting, but it is good to take time to rest as well. Plus I just love it here. Wonderful trail hiking right out my front door, with a disc golf course in the other direction. Amazing restaurants, lovely beaches, and mountains everywhere you look. A truly divine part of the world.

May peace find you.

Pleasant Pismo Beach

While I loved the mountains outside of San Diego, our luck with the weather was not so good. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it was absolute shite. We were stuck inside with snow for several days and when it finally thawed we looked ahead to see a potential foot of snow coming to smite us.

Kendra whipped out her astrolabe to plot a new course. She doesn’t actually have an astrolabe, but she has an uncanny ability to navigate us through troubled waters. We spent a night at a Home Depot in San Diego, a night at a golf course, and a night at a state park in Oceano with full hooks before our planned three weeks of beach time — off the grid.

It had been some time since we dealt with generating all our own power, and last time was from thousands of feet closer to the sun. The days I have worked we needed a little generator — about fifteen minutes a day on average — but on the weekend we generate more than we use. We plan to tweak this, but we will make our first two weeks without needing additional propane. Fairly pleased with our capabilities.

So here we sit in paradise. Every day is sunny, with pleasant temperatures, a breeze, and fresh sea air. The nights are filled with the sound of the surf and tree frogs. There are a lot of places you can stay with full hookups in Pismo, but they are expensive and inferior in every metric that matters. This is definitely a place where peace could find you.

With two weeks in a single location, we had to do something awesome on the free weekend. Saturday we hopped into Scout, our slightly beat-up Honda CRV, and set out on a quest to see a waterfall. The drive was top-shelf. If you get the chance to drive highway 1 south of San Francisco — Big Sur —, hop all over that. We watched a huge wall of fog roll in as we wound our way up the cliffs along the coast. We decided to turn back just before the fog struck land.

We traveled a short distance in the fog and stopped at Ragged Point for breakfast. Splendid breakfast, decaf coffee Kendra was talking about the next day, amazing views, and surreal to sit in the dining area watching the dense fog roll past.

We pulled off at an Elephant Seal sanctuary and spent a half-hour watching giant seals nap. That probably isn’t something everyone would enjoy, but we did.

We stopped again to take a nap of our own on the warm sand of a sun-kissed beach with the sound of surf breaking on the shore. Those seals had a marvelous idea. Finally, we picked up a seafood feast for two on our way home. Our lives may not always be easy, but some days they are transcendent.

May peace find you.

Winter in the Desert

One of the best benefits of a house on wheels is dodging shitty weather. I don’t care where you live, part of the time it has bad weather. Where I grew up has about sixty nice days of weather spread across spring and fall and the rest of the year is absolutely miserable.

If you want to avoid winter, most of the best places you can drive to are deserts. Deserts have a lot of beauty. Great vistas, starry skies, and top-shelf sunsets. However, the plants in the desert are all psychopaths.

If you get a cute little piece of green vegetation in the edge of your shoe it feels like a very tiny, but very real, dagger stabbing you in the foot. Don’t get me started on jumping cholla (pronounced choyah), and remember how excited I was about tumbleweeds? I put up an entire blog post almost completely dedicated to tumbleweeds and their life cycle. Saw them in all the John Wayne westerns and I think I literally went “OOO! A TUMBLEWEED” the first time I saw one.

Then I learned they drop tiny little caltrops. You could fit several of them on a penny, but they always have a point up and are nearly as hard as steel. If you walk through them they will pierce the hardest rubber sole and then you sound like you are walking on cleats when you hit the pavement. I don’t know how many I pulled out of shoes and dog paws, but I am certain it was at least a three-digit number. I still say something when I see tumbleweeds, but it isn’t excited and it isn’t polite.

It was mostly warm, but I grew weary of the desert before we left. Glad to be among trees in the mountains again today. Shanti nearly wept for joy when she walked into the soft none desert grass.

We had a lot of good times. Some amazing hikes, and so much good soaking in hot springs. I am sure I will be glad to return next year, but for now, it is very nice to be among plants that aren’t doing their best to murder me.

May peace find you.

Tucson Rockart

When we first started our journey, we bumbled a lot. We found ourselves with brand new levelers that didn’t function and spent many weeks with the useless weight and expense hanging under the rig. Finally, we landed at La Mesa RV in Tucson where they fixed them. We were so impressed we return every year for maintenance and repairs. They are truly exemplary. Great quality work and they never overcharge.

As always, I look for walking after my workday that doesn’t involve driving. Kendra purposely plans so that in most places I can do this. Staying at a massive resort I first saw a park south of me and tried walking there, but it was basically a rutted mess as the community nearby drained into it and didn’t repair it. On my second day, I noticed a gate across the street from me and asked the security officer at the resort what it was. “Just goes out into the desert,” he said.

The next day I ventured through the gate and found this sign just passed the entrance. I am sure you seeing it thought to yourself, “Obviously, you take the Rockart path”. In hindsight that is what I should have done, but in my defense, it had rained a lot before we came and I could tell to the left was lower and likely muddier so I went with the Cowpath. It was a boring walk that came in at just over three miles round trip and I would likely have spent my three weeks here repeating it if Kendra hadn’t complained it was too close to the highway.

The very next night I ventured on the Rockart path. I didn’t really expect much and was focused on working out. As I entered the area I crossed paths with a biker who told me there was a new installation. I said the least amount I could, in my typical pro-solitude way, to get on with my walk. Turned out the rock art was much better than I had thought it might be and that lady on the bike was the primary artist. Thankfully, I bumped into her again and took the time to chat.

There is a huge network of paths with a large collection of art scattered around. I walked about forty total miles of the paths and found a lot of rock art. Other than one sign at the start there is nothing marking where they can be found, so it is a little treasure hunt and I doubt I found them all. If you aren’t watching you could walk right past them without noticing.

There is so much wonder in the world. This was a solid reminder that I should pay attention to the journey and not get lost in my own thoughts.

So if you are staying at Voyager RV Resort in south Tucson, try the gate that leads out into the desert. I think you will enjoy it. Below are some photos not of rock art but also found beyond that gate.

Sprinkle in sunrise and sunset from the park itself and call it done.

May peace find you.

Crispy Catalina

It is the final day of 2021, so Happy New Year everyone. It has been an interesting and adventurous year for us. We went to so many hot springs I lost count, and still would have liked more. Yes, I am a hot water slut. I hiked three significant peaks; Mount Townsend, Superstition, and Sauk. We were trapped on the wrong side of a mudslide and took a treacherous backroad through the mountains of Colorado at dusk to get home, thank you Steve. We vacationed with friends who do even more adventuring than us even though their house doesn’t have wheels. We visited so many national parks and monuments and took many amazing photos. We managed to not get sick, or if we did we got that lucky 25% chance of neither of us having symptoms. I managed to get back to Ohio to visit my parents, whom I miss a ton while on the road. We all learned whom of our friends and family are truly crazy. The cult of ignorance is proudly flying its flag through the pandemic.

All things considered, I’m going to call it a pretty good year. Yes, I know the pandemic is still upon us and the world is still taking a regular crap on people. But, compared to 2020, it was a good year. Hopefully, we are on an upward trend now.

This is our first stay at Catalina since it nearly burned to the ground two years ago. It has changed a lot. Before it was a sea of grass sprinkled with trees and cactus, and now the grass is mostly gone. Some sort of vining plant must have had a mega bloom post-fire and its dead vines now dangle from the trees. It is still a gorgeous park with amazing hiking, but riddled with burn scars and has very different vegetation covering than before. Also more coyotes, far more coyotes. Didn’t see a single roadrunner— hmm. The unusual rainy weather made it a different kind of stay than last time, but I loved it. I like rain.

There were louder events, but this is the only one I caught on video.

Telephone Line Trail

With all the rain we planned to hike to seven falls. We chartered a shuttle ride and geared up for an eight-and-a-half-mile hike. When we arrived we were refunded the shuttle as the driver came down with Covid. Instead, we hiked up the canyon, saw a sign for telephone line trail, did some math, and thought we would get in a total of seven to eight miles. Our math was off as we were past the seven-mile point when a sign told us we had two-point-two more miles to go. It was a great hike, but more hills and distance than we expected. It kind of kicked our ass.

Roger Bucklesby

I wanted to take a moment to admire Roger and his loved ones for inspiring me to read every bench placard I pass. Read and judge harshly for the most part, but read I do. The picture of Rogers bench below is not mine and I honestly do not know where it is, but it is memorable. I shall always read every bench in the hopes of finding more of interest. The second bench sign is the most interesting one I found this year.

Sisters

May peace find you in the new year.