Work and Play; Parks, AZ — September 30 – October 15, 2018

Back at the home of Bill & Colleen near Parks, AZ, we soon settled into a happy mix of play and project.

What kind of play? Weightlifting in the garage most mornings, followed by a walk through the woods. Frequent gathering for shared meals in the evening, often followed by card games punctuated by dessert and coffee. Special night on October 5, when we celebrated Buck’s (“Meat’s”) birthday.

An early project was the resolving of an “old” problem.  Bill, Buck and I wrestled the washing machine out of its enclosure and then removed the rear and top panels, revealing the cause of what had become excessive flopping of the drum.  Simple fix.  Re-attach the right spring that suspends that side of the drum.  How did the spring get loose in the first place?  Remember the problem we had back in Washington when the right rear shock and air bag of the bus had to be replaced? Click here to refresh your memory.  The bumpy ride that did that damage also disengaged the support spring.  Would that all bus problems were so easily and cheaply resolved.

Bill was an especially busy beaver, helping me with my projects and attending to his own. One project sent Bill to his roof to sweep his chimney, a messy job but relatively brief. Much more substantial was his project to improve the drainage in the area to the rear of his garage. Bill and Buck started by deepening and extending by shovel the trench running to the north from behind the garage. Next day they were joined by a neighbor with a backhoe whose efforts considerably speeded the project. Bill & Buck did some major surveying to get the right slope. After the drainage hose had been laid but not covered, Barb & I took up the tripod, level, and rod to help fine tune the gradient.

The most significant project on our bus involved a long-standing electrical problem. It all started months ago, when we were all lounging on the driveway in front of the garage.  Suddenly, the awning above the door self-extended.  We were all flabbergasted.  We used the controls to retract the awning, and after a few minutes of experimentation, during which the controls seemed to work fine, we dismissed the problem.  When the same thing happened several weeks later, we disengaged the electrical connection to the awning, for fear that it would one day extend while we were underway.  Now, we had time to investigate the problem.  We had strong suspicions that the problem was pinched and frayed wires lurking behind a plate on the “ceiling” of the right front wheel well. We raised the front of the bus as much as we could, blocked it up for safety, cranked the wheel to its right limit, and I crawled into the cavity to begin cleaning the plate of its obscuring undercoating.  When I had cleaned the sealing edges, it was clear that the plate had been fastened by spot welds.  I did my best to grind the welds away, but had little luck.  At that point my frequent guardian angel in the person of Buck came yet again to my rescue.  He replaced me in the cavity and eventually got the plate off.  At that point the source of the original problem became clear. There were several wire bundles running from the center of the bus toward the outer edge.  One of them was pinched at that edge because at the time of manufacture, the bundle had not been placed into the appropriate notch that would protect the bundle when the floor of the bus was placed onto the frame.  The bundle ran up into the coach.  We disconnected the wires in the coach and pulled the wires into the wheel cavity where they could be examined.  Several had bare spots that had apparently been grounding on the metal of the frame.  Bill & Buck repaired the wires and sent them through the notch back up into the coach, where they were reattached to the connectors and reconnected to the passenger console.

We repaired the somewhat-crinkled plate and reattached it to its position (using screws rather than weld) and sprayed it with undercoating.  Ta-da!!!!  Thank you Bill and Buck for repairing a chronic problem and removing a dangerous condition. 

On October 7 we woke up to a surprise!

My last project was to manufacture, under the tutelage of Benevolent Bill,  blocks for use under the bus jacks.

Fun with Mom; North Dakota — August 31 – September 30, 2018

Before we discuss our visit to Bismarck, let’s review what we already know. We had driven to Las Vegas from Parks, where we had left our RV. I flew from Vegas to San Francisco where I visited my son Wil over the weekend. Barb flew to Bismarck on Aug. 31, arriving just in time to be with my 99 year old mother while my sister Zona went to Europe. I flew to Bismarck on September 4. (Barb later flew back to Vegas to help her father celebrate his 83rd birthday.)

So now that we are all caught up, let’s talk about our visit to North Dakota. Friends and neighbors of Zona, Jerry and Jeanne, were attentive and welcoming. We joined them a couple of times at a restaurant for dinner. They brought over fresh home-baked caramel rolls. They brought over sausages and frozen pheasant. They are both retired, but Jerry still putters at farming. Zona has a huge yard, and Jerry on September 10-12 brought over his swather and then hay baler and then pickup to gather the bales from Zona’s front yard.

While I was still in San Francisco, Mom and Barb drove out to Lake Isabel to see Jon and Cathy and their kids Kate & Cole. The apples were ready, and so they all picked apples to be made into cider.

In other miscellaneous news, I saw my dermatologist and escaped without any surgeries or freezings. Barb had her toe X-rayed and finally got assurances that it was healing and that she could abandon the boot.

On September 13, Barb and Mom and I drove south to a spot along the Missouri River that the locals call ‘Desert’ presumably because there is a large sandy area along the inside of a sweeping turn of the river.  Its more formal name is “Kimball Bottoms OHV Area”.

On September 15 we got up early to drive Mom to a one-day religious meeting in Fargo. After dropping her off safely, we met Barb’s cousin Geri and her husband Denny for an early lunch. After lunch Denny excused himself to attend a football game of the North Dakota State Bison, who are having another wildly successful year. Geri and Barb and I then retired to an adjoining coffee shop where we spent a number of enjoyable hours until it was time to fetch Mom.

(On September 16 Barb flew to Vegas for her father’s birthday, returning on September 20. While Barb was gone, it fell to me to curl Mom’s hair every day.)

On September 21, childhood friends Lynne & Monica came to visit Barb. Our Norwegian friends will recognize those names; those two accompanied us to Spain in 2011 to help Lars Helge & Tove harvest their almonds, to be sure, but mostly to celebrate the birthdays of Barbara and Tove. Our blog of that unforgettable event, made when we had a different blog system, can be found here. (Use the ‘<‘ key to return to a former page in this old blog; some of the links are broken.)

Lynn’s husband Steve came with Lynne and shared a meal with us, but then had to return to Valley City. The girls spent the night. It is always interesting to stay quietly in a corner and watch and listen to these long-time friends reminisce. We also taught the girls how to play 3-to-13 with Barb, Mom and me. Of course, Mom shellacked us.

Barb’s brother Tim stopped in for a nice visit on his way from Carrington to watch his son Preston compete at the Jamestown Speedway. We later learned he took first place on the last night of the season.

Zona returned on Tuesday evening, September 25, pleased with her trip but bushed from the long flight back.

On September 27 Barb and I drove back down to the ‘Desert’ area, knowing that the Cottonwood trees were turning. Barb patiently waited in the car and read while I took an extended walk through the ATV park and along the river, toting my camera and tripod.

We flew back to Vegas on the 28th, and drove back down to Parks, AZ on September 30th. But our stay at Parks is a topic for a later post. Stay tuned, or take advantage of the new subscription option.

Catching Up with Loved Ones — August 26 – September 16, 2018

When it was time to leave Barb’s brothers in Washington, we made our way back to Bill’s home near Parks, AZ.  We left the RV Bus there and took our toad to Las Vegas. I flew to San Francisco to see my son Wil, and Barb flew to Bismarck to be with Mom while sister Zona spent about three weeks in Europe.  I spent the weekend with Wil, and then flew to Bismarck to join Barb and Mom.  Later, Barb flew back to Las Vegas to help her father Cliff celebrate his 93rd birthday.  

San Francisco

My son Wil has gotten into wall climbing, and has been very happy with what the new hobby has done for his level of fitness.  Unfortunately, he slipped one day and fell onto folks below who should not have been there.  Their presence prevented him from executing a momentum-absorbing roll and hence he sustained the “crunch” of two broken bones in his ankle.  When I arrived he had just gotten out of a rigid cast and was in a new boot and learning to use a peg leg.  

His new condition changed our plans, but we still got out to local coffee shops and one of Wil’s favorite local restaurants in the famous Castro district: Delfina.  We have been there on previous visits as well; it continues to be fantastic.  Not so good was a more remote restaurant that Wil had been to some time ago: Front Porch.  We went back because it features southern cooking and we thought it would be a fun way to recall our eating experiences in Savannah, GA.  Alas, not so. The boiled peanuts were saturated in something resembling soy sauce.  The fried green tomatoes were overcooked.  Even more so the tiny bits of okra so overdone as to be near lumps of charcoal.  The mashed potatoes were cold and lumpy.  The collard greens were drowning in overpowering vinegar.  The fried chicken, instead of having a tender tasty interior, was stringy and dry.  Folks, this ain’t southern cooking the way we knew it.  To taste the real thing, go to Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House in Savannah, GA.

On one of our excursions we walked past a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.  Alas I din’t have my camera with me.  I had to ask Wil later what we had just seen.

From Wikipedia:

Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (SPI), also called Order of Perpetual Indulgence (OPI) is a charity, protest, and street performance organization that uses drag and religious imagery to call attention to sexual intolerance and satirizes issues of gender and morality. At their inception in 1979, a small group of gay men in San Francisco began wearing the attire of nuns in visible situations using high camp to draw attention to social conflicts and problems in the Castro District.

Las Vegas

A number of Barb’s family gathered in Las Vegas to celebrate her father Cliff’s birthday. They included her brother Mike, her sister Audrey, her son Jeff, Cliff’s brother John and his friend Barbara, and Cliff’s brother Joe and his wife Rita.  Cliff was presented with a special gift from a niece: a printed copy of a commissioned  painting she had done for a former school mate.  Now a successful eye doctor and a world traveller, he requested a painting with multiple scenes from his North Dakota upbringing.  The copy, by Theresa Stahl, now graces a wall in Cliff’s apartment.

A few days later, when the birthday celebrants  had dispersed, Audrey and Barb joined Jeff for a ride on Lake Mead on his new boat — a boat which bore strong resemblance to the one we owned so long ago in Savannah, GA.

We’ll write about our Bismarck visit in a subsequent post.  Here are some pictures from our two visits to Loved Ones:

Visiting Family; Wenatchee & Leavenworth, WA — August 22-25, 2018

On our first night in Wenatchee Roberta & Michael and Barb & I met at Visconti’s Italian Restaurant for a spectacular dinner hosted by Barb’s brother Dan Carr & Candy Meecham, owners. What a special evening. Candy ordered several types of anti-pasta boards for the table, after which Dan & Candy described, in loving detail, the possible choices for the main course. When we had each given our individual choices, Candy suggested that we be served family style. Brilliant!  What  platters and dishes of delights we had. We all enjoyed it immensely; I thought Roberta was going to swoon and pass out!

We also spent a number of visits to another of Barb’s brothers: George and his wife Anne and their three children, Nancy and twins Josey & Maggie.  On one such occasion, Dan & Candy also joined us, so we were able to take some family pictures.  (See below.)

In addition to the Visconti’s in Wenatchee, Dan & Candy also have a number of other businesses.  They include ‘Fire’, at the Pybus Public Market, featuring wood oven pizza and wine, brats and beer, plus a full menu of salads and small plates. Right next to ‘Fire’ is ‘Ice’, also owned by Dan & Candy and also in the Market, featuring authentic Italian style gelato and crêpes and locally roasted Caffè Mela espresso.  And that is not all.  They are perhaps best known for their businesses in Leavenworth, where there is a bigger version of Visconti’s.

Although Leavenworth is a Bavarian Village, Visconti’s is not to be missed.  The first floor of the building has a Deli and a Gelato shop. The second and third floors have dinning rooms and also an outdoor dining space on the third floor.   In the basement, Dan creates the cured meats that are featured in the Deli and in the adjacent Leavenworth Sausage Garten and in Wenatchee’s Fire.

From promotional literature:

The Leavenworth Sausage Garten is the best place to enjoy two of the most important staples of Germany…Good “Wurst’ and “Bier”! WE MAKE OUR BRATS! Right in our own facilities located next door. We use only the finest ingredients to produce great sausages, such as Bratwurst, Bockwurst, and Currywurst and our signature Italian sausage. To compliment those wonderful sausages have some great regional micro brews and German imported biers on tap.

Just up the road from George & Anne’s home is an interesting Park called The Ohme Garden. We made a return visit; this time to show Roberta and Michael.

From the Park’s web page:

In 1929 Herman Ohme purchased 40 acres of land for an orchard. Included was a craggy, dry, desolate, rock-strewn bluff with a breathtaking view of the snow-capped Cascade Mountains and the shimmering Columbia River valley. Herman and his new bride, Ruth, loved to stand on the bluff and dream of flourishing alpine meadows, shimmering pools and shady evergreen pathways where the hot, relentless summer sun allowed only sage and scrub desert growth. They set their minds on achieving that dream.

Small evergreens were transplanted from the nearby Cascade Mountains, native stone was hauled to form paths and borders, desert sage gave way to low-growing ground cover, and pools took shape adjacent to massive natural rock formations. It was hard work, done mostly by hand, and truly a labor of love. In the beginning, sustaining the Gardens meant hauling water in five gallon buckets from the river valley below, but eventually the Ohmes constructed an elaborate irrigation system that pumped water to the site.

Initially intended as a private family retreat, the interest of friends and community members prompted the Ohmes to open the Gardens to the public. The Ohmes continued to perfect the Gardens for 42 years, until 1971 when Herman died at the age of 80. The couple’s son Gordon and his family then assumed responsibility for the Gardens, and in 1991 Washington State Parks and Recreation purchased the Gardens and surrounding property. The Gardens are currently owned and managed by Chelan County.

Earlier in our RV wanderings, we had all realized that the fronts of our toads were getting chewed up from stones being thrown back by the RVs. So we ordered three “Protect-a-Tow”s and had them shipped to Dan. Michael and I installed ours while we were in Wenatchee on the eve of our separate departures. I am quite pleased with ours; the screen is stretched under the tow and reaches from the back of the RV to under the front of the toad, and appears to offer near-total protection from rocks thrown up by the RV.

Footnote: Only yesterday, 9/26/18, did X-ray reveal that Barb’s toe has finally healed enough that she can stop wearing the boot. Yippee!

Ocean Shores, Washington — August 18-21, 2018

Enough already! Enough!  Cough!  Hack!

We needed to get out of the smoke that blanketed most of Washington and Oregon. Our eyes were burning, and our noses were running.  Bill and Colleen were getting sick.

So we fled to the coast of southern Washington. Our first night we stayed at the low-cost RV park at the Quinault Beach Resort & Casino. No services, really just a glorified parking lot.  It was windy and cool, so we had minimal experience at the shore, but Bill, Roberta and Barb did take Bill’s toad for a long drive down the busy Sunday beach, and I think Mike & Roberta also did some beach walking.

By unanimous consent we moved about three miles to the Ocean City State Park, where we enjoyed the usual hookups in pleasant surroundings. We went to the Coastal Interpretive Center, a youth-oriented small museum featuring hands-on learning experiences, focusing on the natural and cultural history of the area.

We knew that our next destination would be Wenatchee and Leavenworth, Washington, back in the thick of the smoke. Bill & Colleen were not up for that, and so they broke from our group and headed back toward their home near Flagstaff, AZ.

The Hilbruners left the campground early in order to stop for fuel.  As I left a bit later, something bizarre happened. There was a large Dixie Dumpster parked just inside a tight 90 degree turn on a narrow exit road. As I negotiated the turn, the Dumpster suddenly, with no provocation, viciously attacked, leaving a horrible set of scratches on the side of the bus.  I am at a total loss to explain this behavior; Dumpsters are usually so passive.

Barbara, following me in our toad to a more commodious spot for joining the vehicles, has a somewhat different interpretation of the event, but lack of space prevents me from including it here.

Mount Rainier; August 16, 2018

On August 16 we three couples took two of our CR-Vs north up to Mount Rainier. Our destination was the area around Paradise Inn and the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center.  Barb was still hobbled, but we took a short hike up through a gently rising meadow laden with flowers.  

On our way back toward our campground at Tower Rock U-fish RV Park, we stopped at the base of Mt. Rainier (still in the Mt. Rainier National Park) to walk the trail under the massive trees of the Grove of the Patriarchs.  It is an easy 1.5 mile nature trail through huge thousand-year-old growth Red Cedar, and Douglas fir trees that have been protected from fire by virtue of being on an island surrounded by the Ohanapecosh River.  Many of the trees are more than 25 ft in circumference, with at least one approaching 50 ft.  Barb wisely and belatedly sat this one out.

From Wikipedia:

Mount Rainier is the highest mountain of the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest, and the highest mountain in the U.S. state of Washington. It is a large active stratovolcano located 59 miles south-southeast of Seattle, in the Mount Rainier National Park. It is the most topographically prominent mountain in the contiguous United States and the Cascade Volcanic Arc, with a summit elevation of 14,411 ft..

Mt. Rainier is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, and it is on the Decade Volcano list. Because of its large amount of glacial ice, Mt. Rainier could produce massive lahars that could threaten the entire Puyallup River valley, and poses a grave threat to the southern sections of the 3.7-million-resident Seattle metropolitan area.

With 26 major glaciers and 36 sq mi of permanent snowfields and glaciers, Mount Rainier is the most heavily glaciated peak in the lower 48 states. Two volcanic craters top the summit, each more than 1,000 ft in diameter, with the larger east crater overlapping the west crater. Geothermal heat from the volcano keeps areas of both crater rims free of snow and ice, and has formed the world’s largest volcanic glacier cave network within the ice-filled craters, with nearly 2 mi of passages.  A small crater lake about 130 by 30 ft in size and 16 ft deep, the highest in North America with a surface elevation of 14,203 ft, occupies the lowest portion of the west crater below more than 100 ft of ice and is accessible only via the caves.

If Mt. Rainier were to erupt as powerfully as Mount St. Helens did in its May 18, 1980 eruption, the effect would be cumulatively greater, because of the far more massive amounts of glacial ice locked on the volcano compared to Mount St. Helens, the vastly more heavily populated areas surrounding Rainier, and the simple fact that Mt Rainier is a much bigger volcano, almost twice the size of St. Helens. Lahars from Rainier pose the most risk to life and property. Not only is there much ice atop the volcano, the volcano is also slowly being weakened by hydrothermal activity.



Mount St. Helens; August 14-15, 2018

Our next destination after the Columbia River was an RV park in the vicinity of Mount St. Helens.  There are oodles in the area, but most were already booked.  We were fortunate to be able to get in to the Tower Rock U-Fish RV Park, about 13 miles south of the town of Randle.  The downside was that it was a little out of the way down paved but narrow roads into the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.  Portions of the road had partially fallen away and had then been overpaved without complete leveling.  The consequence was a number of significant dips that I evidently took too fast.  When we arrived at the campground and disembarked, we could hear a loud hiss in the vicinity of the right rear wheels.  After settling into our spot, Bill peeked under and announced that he saw the problem.  The left right air bag that provides cushioning for the bus was punctured and leaking air.  Furthermore, the shock absorber at that location had failed.  

We ordered parts from Tiffin, and then combined our sightseeing with removing the bad parts:  no small task since the relevant bolts were big and stubborn.  We originally considered contracting a mobil mechanic to come with a compressed-air impact wrench, but when the campground proprietor, Peter, learned of our plans, he offered his wrench and compressor and large sockets.  It turned out his compressor wasn’t strong enough, but that the compressor on the bus was JUST barely enough.  When we got the shock and airbag off, we revised our theory as to what had gone wrong.  Originally, we assumed that the bag had failed and the shock had not been able to handle the load.  But the condition of the shock suggested that it had failed first (since its interior was wet with rusty water) and that in failing it had disintegrated and when the bottom fell off the top half punctured the airbag.

We knew we should replace both rear shocks, but were surprised when the parts arrived to see that we had also been sent two airbags.  So we used Peter’s tools and replaced both shocks and both airbags, retaining the one good airbag as a spare.  

None of this would have been possible without the efforts of my favorite gearhead: Bill Bouchard.  And the friendly generosity of Peter.

We spent two smoky days visiting Mount St. Helens.  The first day we approached from the northeast, terminating at Windy Ridge and stopping at Miner’s Car on the way back.  Here is a description of the Miner’s Car, found on a Mt. St. Helens Volcanic Monument web site:

Three days before the eruption, Donald and Natalie Parker and their nephew Rick parked their green 1972 Pontiac Grand Prix about 8-1/2 miles from the volcano and hiked to a nearby cabin to inspect their mining claim.  They were in the designated “blue zone,” which was open to businesspeople who signed liability wavers with the state, which the Parkers did.  Volcano scientists were not as worried about people in the blue zone because they were expected to survive a typical vertical eruption.  But the initial eruption of Mt. St. Helens was lateral (sideways) not vertical.  The blast killed the Parkers and flattened and seared their car, which remains as a stark reminder to the 57 people who perished that day.

On the second day we approached from the west, where we also went to the visitor center at Silver Lake, viewing impressive videos of the eruption.  Pity that the visibility was so poor outdoors.

Excerpts from Wikipedia:

On May 18, 1980, a major volcanic eruption occurred at Mount St. Helens. It has often been declared as the most disastrous volcanic eruption in U.S. history. The eruption was preceded by a two-month series of earthquakes and steam-venting episodes, caused by an injection of magma at shallow depth below the volcano that created a large bulge and a fracture system on the mountain’s north slope.

An earthquake at 8:32:17 a.m. PDT on Sunday, May 18, 1980, caused the entire weakened north face to slide away, creating the largest landslide ever recorded. This allowed the partly molten, high-pressure gas- and steam-rich rock in the volcano to suddenly explode northwards toward Spirit Lake in a hot mix of lava and pulverized older rock, overtaking the avalanching face.

An eruption column rose 80,000 feet into the atmosphere and deposited ash in 11 U.S. states. At the same time, snow, ice and several entire glaciers on the volcano melted, forming a series of large lahars (volcanic mudslides) that reached as far as the Columbia River, nearly 50 miles to the southwest. Less severe outbursts continued into the next day, only to be followed by other large, but not as destructive, eruptions later that year.

Approximately 57 people were killed directly. Hundreds of square miles were reduced to wasteland, causing over $1 billion in damage (equivalent to over $3 billion as of 2018), thousands of animals were killed, and Mount St. Helens was left with a crater on its north side. At the time of the eruption, the summit of the volcano was owned by the Burlington Northern Railroad, but afterward the land passed to the United States Forest Service. The area was later preserved, as it was, in the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

Columbia River, Maryhill, WA & Peach Beach Campground — August 10-12, 2018

On August 10 we drove up to the Peach Beach Campground on the north bank of the Columbia River, near the community of Maryhill, population 98.

Liz Kinney visited us there, as did Hilbruner’s daughter Anna & her husband Craig & their little one Axel.

After Liz and the younger Hilbruners returned to their respective homes, the elder Hilbruners went off to visit friends, and Barb, Colleen, Bill and I went to see the Maryhill  Museum of Art and the Maryhill Stonehenge.

Culled from a variety of articles in Wikipedia:

Maryhill is named after the wife and daughter of regional icon Samuel Hill (13 May 1857 – 26 February 1931), who purchased land and envisioned a community there shortly after the turn of the 20th century.

Sam Hill was a businessman, lawyer, railroad executive, and advocate of good roads. He used his Maryhill property to build the first paved roads in the Pacific Northwest, the Maryhill Museum of Art (originally intended as a grand residence for the Hills), Maryhill Stonehenge, a monument to the World War I dead of Klickitat County in the form of a Stonehenge replica, and a planned community. Hill intended the Stonehenge replica to express that modern warfare (like Druid sacrifices as he understood them) was a form of needless human sacrifice.

He substantially influenced the Pacific Northwest region’s economic development in the early 20th century. He devoted much attention to advocating construction of modern roads in Washington and Oregon. In September 1899 Hill created the Washington State Good Roads Association which persuaded the Washington State Legislature to create the Washington State Department of Transportation in 1905. Hill’s land around Maryhill proved useful for his advocacy. From 1909–1913 he laid 10 miles of asphalt-paved Macadam road at his own expense (US$100,000). It was the first such road in the Pacific Northwest and Hill experimented over its length with seven different paving techniques.

In 1907, Hill persuaded the University of Washington to establish the United States’ first chair in highway engineering. He could not persuade the State of Washington to build a highway on the north bank of the Columbia River, but in 1913 Oregon governor Oswald West and the Oregon Legislative Assembly visited Maryhill to inspect his experimental prototype road. Subsequently, the State of Oregon built the scenic Columbia River Highway, which linked coastal Astoria, Oregon and The Dalles, Oregon.

Although his promotion of paved modern roads is possibly his greatest legacy, he is now best remembered for building the Stonehenge replica.

Maryhill Museum of Art is a small museum with an extremely eclectic collection. Construction was halted upon America’s entry into World War I. The unfinished museum building was dedicated on November 3, 1926 by Queen Marie of Romania, and was opened to the public on Hill’s birthday (May 13) in 1940. Notable in the Maryhill Museum collection are:

• Plaster and bronze sculptures and watercolors by Auguste Rodin
• European and American paintings
• American Indian art, including baskets and beadwork from the Columbia Plateau region
• Mannequins and replica stage sets from the Théâtre de la Mode
• More than 300 chess sets from around the world,
• Eastern Orthodox icons
• Palace furnishings and personal items that once belonged to Queen Marie
• Memorabilia associated with the dancer Loïe Fuller
• Art Nouveau-era glass
• A permanent exhibit about Samuel Hill’s life and projects
• An outdoor sculpture park containing more than a dozen works by Pacific Northwest artists,

We later met the Hilbruners and their friends at the Maryhill Winery, where we had wine and snacks and then played some bocci on their complementary professional bocci courts.  Quite an upgrade from the semi-improvised games we’ve played in the Caribbean.


McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway — August 7-8, 2018

On Aug. 7, we three intrepid RVers moved to the Cold Springs Campground, for a bit of dry camping.  The campground was a quiet and pleasant place deep in the woods, with widely separated but relatively tight sites.  From there we took our cars to a number of interesting places, including driving a portion of the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway.  We visited the headwaters of the Metolius River, where the river appears as a spring flowing out of the base of Black Butte.  The site is visually unimpressive, because the Forest Service platform was erected on private land too far from the spring outflow.  Afterwards we stopped for lunch at the Camp Sherman Country Store.

The McKenzie River contains Sahalie Falls (100′) and Koosah Falls (70′), two beautiful cascades that can be seen by hiking an easy 2.6-mile loop trail. These falls mark the terminus of two thick flows of basaltic andesite lava that dammed Clear Lake and moved into the McKenzie River 3,000 years ago. The results are two breathtaking waterfalls with foaming white water cascades in between.  The trail from Sahalie to Koosah Falls is less than a mile and well worth walking.  In addition to the powerful whitewater, the trail passes through an old-growth corridor densely packed with mosses, ferns, Douglas firs, hemlocks, and cedars.  

Just shy of McKenzie Pass the dense forest is replaced by an expanse of dark and broken lava that stretches for 65 square miles. It’s one of the most recent and most remarkable examples of volcanic activity in North America, the result of eruptions from Belknap Crater about 2,000 years ago. We stopped at the trailhead of the Lava River National Recreation Trail, a ½ mile paved path through lava gutters and ridges. It begins with the Dee Wright Observatory— constructed of lava rock by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935 — which has viewing ports to see many surrounding Cascade peaks. 

La Pine State Park — July 24-August 6, 2018

On July 24 our threesome (TT2, Celilo, and (nee) Dolce Vita) moved up to La Pine State Park, near Bend, OR. There we would be joined in the 2018 version of the “Caribbean cruiser reunion” by Tom & Leslie (Farhaven) and Dave & Belinda and Tom & Amy and eventually Frank & Mary Grace ( nee Let It Be).

The selection of the site was a wise one; the area abounded with interesting things to do and see.

  • On consecutive days various subsets of our group kayaked down a gentle and scenic section of the Deschutes River, renting kayaks from Tumelo Creek Kayak & Canoe in Sunriver.
  • Near the campground, on the bank of the river, the ‘Big Tree’, the largest ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) in the world is located. The tree is over 500 years old, 162 feet tall, and 28.9 feet in circumference.  This Oregon Heritage Tree would be the tallest of its species, except that its crown snapped off in a storm.
  • Some of us visited the High Desert Museum near Bend, whose outdoor exhibits feature river otters, a porcupine, sheep, gray fox, and birds of prey. There is also a Native American encampment, a start-of-the-20th-century sawmill, logging equipment, homesteaders cabin, and a forestry pavilion.  Indoor exhibits included an extensive treatment on Native Americans.  I spent a long time there.  We also attended a birds of prey program, during which I photographed some of the performers.  I had trouble subsequently identifying one of the birds, and after much searching finally learned it was a bird native to Peru:  an Aplomado Falcon.  Why a bird from Peru here in Oregon?  Turns out  the Peruvian Aplomado Falcon is the perfect falcon species to use by contractors protecting fruit crops like grapes, cherries, blueberries, and apples because it likes to chase small- to medium-sized birds—the same sizes that give growers the most problems.
  • Newberry National Volcanic Monument, including
    • Lava Butte
    • Newberry Caldera
    • Big Osidian Flow
  • We took a ski lift up Mount Bachelor,  a stratovolcano atop a shield volcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc.  Named Mount Bachelor because it “stands apart” from the nearby Three Sisters.