Thursday, April 20, 2017

GOT TO GET OUT!

We woke to the pit-pit, chirps and "Chi-ca-go" of a large group of quail that had surrounded our camper and were clearing the ground of seeds. Mud and damp foliage didn't bother those little bowling pins as they scurried around on blurred legs.
Rain fell during the night, but I didn't wake when it soaked the sagebrush around the campground. Linda laughed when I questioned why Kobi's feet were so muddy upon his return from going out and relieving himself. I guess I must have slept hard last night.

Our exit from the neighborhood on Monday was less than stellar. We had planned on leaving at 11:00 AM but at the last minute I decided to hook up old Stinky Jeep and drag it along. I was in a bit of a hurry and when I put the Brake Buddy in place it wouldn’t turn on! I checked all the wiring and found a broken wire and quickly fixed it. That stupid Buddy still wouldn’t turn on! I closed things up and we left everything on the Brake Buddy in place but would drive with it sitting dead to the world.

We finally left the house sometime around noon, following the familiar path that many times has led us to Banks Lake and Steamboat Rock State Park. This time we drove on a new route, about 25 miles farther, to Sun Lakes/Dry Falls State Park. The park is located at the foot of Dry Falls, a former waterfall, that was larger than Niagara Falls.

The park is a nice place with over 150 campsites. Our assessment would point out that the spots are very crowded with little privacy, though there is a loop where sites are a bit farther apart. There are nice bathrooms with showers. It is kept very clean and there is plenty to do around the area. We would only recommend going here, as Linda said, “Only during the shoulder seasons and mid-week.”
Deep Lake.
Our spot that we found was on a short cul de sac road and no one was set up near us. Linda guided me into our spot after we disconnected the old Stinky. I was putting away all the stuff that we had in the Jeep, and when I grabbed the Brake Buddy, I noticed the cigarette lighter plug that powers the Brake Buddy. Oops!  I forgot to plug it into the lighter. I plugged everything else in where it was meant to go but forgot the most important plug. That’s why it wouldn’t work. Boy, did I feel dumb.

We hiked a bit before dinner and then retired to the camper and ate a great meal of ravioli created by our favorite chef, Costco.  Then like I said before, I fell asleep hard.

After our usual morning routine and with Kobi taken care of and old Stinky Jeep loaded, we headed out to explore the area. We followed a paved road out of camp to the southwest and wound our way to the first body of water, Deep Lake. It was very pretty and there were a whole bunch of fish rising. We walked around and took pictures.

Perch Lake.

Back down the road we drove turning northeast onto a dirt road that the signs said led to Perch Lake and Dry Falls Lake.  It was rough, with plenty of rocks and mud puddles. After a few miles, we passed Perch Lake. When we came upon Dry Falls Lake we were surprised by the number of vehicles parked at the end of the road.  I counted seven rigs, but there could have been more. It looked like each one had delivered one or two fly fishermen and their kick boats to this body of water. I’ll have to bring mine over some time and check this fishery out!

Stinky splashing through a puddle near Dry Falls Lake.
I pulled a three-point turn and we drove back out the rough road to the paved one and we made our way up to the highway and on to Dry Falls Visitor Center. There we read about the geological history of this area and took in the information provided at this very interesting stop. Did you know that they found the bone fragments of a rhinoceros in this area?  The Blue Lake Rhino was found in 1935 and these fragments are on display there. Did you know that Dry Falls was four times the size of Niagara Falls? Oh, I kind of gave you that one already. How about did you know that the falls itself was about 3.5 miles wide? Of course, this all took place about 15,000 years ago so I don’t blame you for not knowing.  Guess you will just have to visit the area and see.

With visions of our camper sitting directly at the base of what was once the world’s largest waterfall, we went to sleep.

The next morning I heard the fish calling and loaded up the Jeep to chase the Lahontan Cutthroat trout of Lake Omak. Linda stayed home and kept the dog entertained as I rumbled one hundred miles up to the lake and back.

A falls I passed on my drive to and from fishing.
Approaching the lake you look down on the off-colored water, but this time the water looked strange. The northern part of the lake was a dark gray-black and the southern part was a blue-gray color. I drove past the turn-off and found the problem. A mud slide had covered the road ahead. All the mud had washed down into the lake and it looked like that within a day the entire lake would be a muddy gray mess.

I went back to the turn and headed down to the lake, hoping to get a few hours of fishing in before the gray wall closed everything. The road down was better than usual, it had been graded recently.  When I turned off the road things changed. I was driving in deep mud and huge water filled holes. Stinky was a champ and loved being in four wheel drive. He pulled his way through the worst parts flinging mud everywhere.

I got to the lake and found that there were two other rigs there. Folks were fishing and it sounded like they might be catching too.  I geared up and put a bug on my line. At the lake's edge, I waded into the cold water. I flipped my first cast and stripped back. Nothing! The second cast landed a bit farther out and bam! I had my first fish!   This could be a great day!

Landing and releasing the fish, I then proceeded to cast for over an hour with no hits.  I changed my fly and bam! Another nice trout! So this is how the day went. Fish hit about every half hour or so. I caught five nice ones, had three on and to the shore but lost them. There were also many bites and strikes that they didn’t take cleanly, but the thrill was always there.  As I fished I heard over my shoulder, the yipping of a pack of coyotes. A few seconds later there was the barking reply of several critters across the lake.  This went on for about fifteen minutes and then silence once again filled the valley.  At 2:00 PM it started to rain hard.  The Jeep provided me a shelter from the rain while I ate my lunch. It looked like this weather front was here to stay for a while. The valley was socked in with low visibility.  I took my gear off, put the rod away and bounced back through the water and mud to the main road and headed home. I was tired and ready to get back home.

When I arrived Linda and Kobi were sunning in the space behind the camper. We were all happy to see each other and spent the next half hour going over everyone’s events of the day. Later we ate a great Mexican meal for dinner, walked the dog and went to bed. In the morning we packed up and drove home. The Brake Buddy works great when you plug it into the cigarette lighter.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Day of Sun

What do you do when you finally have a day of sun? ROAD TRIP!
If we follow this road, will we get to Jill and Barry's?

We packed up the Miata and cruised on over to Palouse Falls to take a few pictures of the falls at high water flows.

Palouse Falls can be found by taking I-90 west to Ritzville then by taking a left onto highway 261. Once heading south, we went through Washtucna and found the sign directing us to Palouse Falls State Park.

We walked around and took some photos. It was nice to be out in the sun on this beautiful day.

Palouse Falls at high water flows.
Back on the road we drove up to Washtucna and turned right on highway 26 until we came to Colfax and highway 195. The 282-mile road trip took us in a huge circle through the Palouse. Every twist-and-turn of the road was a green mosaic of spring colors.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Early Spring Fishing

(left to right) Tom, Mark, and Tyler.
Tom, Mark and Tyler kidnaped me and we drove over to St. Regis, Montana and fished the Clarkfork River. The day was a (fill in the blank). That means you could choose any weather pattern to finish that sentence.  We had rain, snow, wind, sun, clouds, hail, and a bit of warm.  Every spring condition except hot!

The river was high and fast, but it was clear enough to give the fish a chance to see our flys. We tossed weighted bugs and nymphs most of the day. Tyler was able to catch a few with a wet hackle pattern, but mostly we used Yuck Bugs and droppers.

22" Brown! Nice fish and I think I was smiling.
Right off the ramp, I caught a 22 inch German Brown. Nice fish!

At the end of the day, we considered it a real good day of fishing.  We all caught fish. Each of us hit at least four fish with both strikes and hookups.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Clams

The results are in and you need to make your own final decision on which cup of clam chowder is your favorite! When we joined our friends Jacquie and Grant on the Oregon Coast recently, one of the things that we did was to taste and compare clam chowder from several of the eateries around that coastal area.

Tabulation by the accounting firm of Ernst and Whinney.
Once we had a couple bowls under our belts we made up a judging sheet, on a napkin, that laid out the items we used to make our comparisons. We used five criteria which we judged the chowder on and gave each area a plus (+), zero (0), or minus (-) rating. I changed the rating from the plus-minus system to a number system to make the results easier. The new ratings go as follows: plus (+) = 3 points, zero (0) = 2 points, or minus (-) rating = 0 points. Highest possible rating would be 15 possible points.

Our five areas of judging were:

Creaminess - Was the product creamy the way mom made it.
Taste - Did it have a taste and did it make you notice it's flavor.
Seafood - Did it have chunks of seafood in it and was it enough to make you notice.
Hot - Was it served hot?
A balance of flavor - Did it have a good balance of ingredients with not too much bacon, onion, or too many potatoes.

We rated nine different clam chowders and here are the results in the order in which we consumed the contestants.

Crab Bucket  - North of Westport, Wa - Jacquie and Grant
Total Score = 5

Creaminess - 0
Taste - 2
Seafood - 0
Hot - 3
A balance of flavor - 0

Notes: Jacquie and Grant stopped on one of their first days and had chowder, not knowing that they would be called upon in the future to judge their meal. This was the first taste of chowder and was eaten before the Can-Am Rendezvous actually officially started.

Wet Dog  - Astoria, OR - Dean, Linda, Jacquie and Grant
Total Score = 14

Creaminess - 3
Taste - 3
Seafood - 3
Hot - 2
A balance of flavor - 3

Notes: When the Rendezvous officially started we wandered into this establishment and enjoyed a wonderful bowl. Jacquie and Grant tasted their treat and immediately made a comparison to their bowl at the Crab Bucket. Thus the competition began.

Mo's  - Cannon Beach, OR - Dean, Linda, Jacquie and Grant
Total Score = 9

Creaminess - 2
Taste - 2
Seafood - 3
Hot - 0
A balance of flavor - 2

Notes: We had a wonderful view of Cannon Beach from our table. Mo's and The Horn were equally rated for their views, but that was not part of our challenge criteria.

Rendezvous  - Tillamook, OR - Dean, Linda, Jacquie and Grant
Total Score = 9

The resturant at the Rendezvous.
Creaminess - 0
Taste - 3
Seafood - 3
Hot - 0
A balance of flavor - 3

Notes: It was a bit of an obstacle course to get into this bar and grill, but it had to be done! Screw the huge road construction that caused us to dodge traffic and climb along wooden bridges to reach the entrance to this highly rated establishment. A rendezvous at the Rendezvous was a must! The fact that their foods were rated high on Trip Advisor was a huge plus.

The Horn  - Depoe Bay, OR - Dean, Linda, Jacquie and Grant
Total Score = 14

Creaminess - 3
Taste - 3
Seafood - 2
Hot - 3
A balance of flavor - 3

Notes: We looked out over the highway and watched spouting whales as we ate our chowder. At least we think they were spouting whales. Dean sat and watched the NCAA tournament.

Ocean Bleu Seafood  - Newport, OR - Dean, Linda, Jacquie and Grant
Total Score = 13.5

Creaminess - 2.5
Taste - 3
Seafood - 3
Hot - 2
A balance of flavor - 3

Notes: The service was great and the place was a perfect mix of old home town and waterfront. We exited the door after our meal and were drawn by the barking sea lions down the street to watch a circus of these animals laying on the docks.

The Firehouse  - Florence, OR - Dean, Linda, Jacquie and Grant
Total Score = 15

Creaminess - 3
Taste - 3
Seafood - 3
Hot - 3
A balance of flavor - 3

Note: This stop may not be a fair stop for a clam chowder challenge. The Firehouse is a five-time clam chowder award winner. We never could find out who was judging them for their five awards, but they came in strong with us also.

Tony's Crab Shack  - Bandon, OR - Dean, Linda, Jacquie and Grant
Tony's Crab Shack 
Total Score = 9

Creaminess - 3
Taste - 2
Seafood - 2
Hot - 2
A balance of flavor - 0

Note: Trip Advisor said we had to eat here and to try their crab sandwich. Why we tried the clam chowder is beyond me. It's a crab shack for heaven's sake!

Now that we are home and looking back on the clam chowder challenge, I would recommend that you take a trip down the Oregon Coast and do your own tasting. It was a fun way to eat some very good food!

Where was the best chowder on our trip, you ask?  Caroline made us her clam chowder on the day we arrived at their house. It was by far the best! She served it with breaded Razor Clams and it was a treat beyond belief.  I can't give you the exact location of their house, but if she ever wanted to open a clam chowder shack, it would get our votes!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Can-Am Videos

I will add the rain and wind video soon.




The Last Couple Days

The Rendezvous came to an end quietly. The movie we were watching, The Accountant, ended and we stood up to retire to bed. We all quietly hugged goodbye.  It was a rather appropriate ending to the two weeks together. The six of us had met in Mexico and formed our friendships there and being together at the end of the rendezvous just felt right.

Just give'r!
Let me step back a day or so and bring you up to speed. Grant and Jacquie, Linda and I left our southernmost campground at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park, drove north, and then stayed one final night at Nehalem Bay State Park.  Our evening there was the typical cards, dinner, and bed. The next morning we caravanned up to Westport and stayed two nights at Don and Caroline Samuelson’s house.

Don and Caroline were in Mexico when they met Grant and Jacquie. They were all staying at the same place, La Paloma, and we were invited to dinner one night. That’s when we all met.  We have all stayed in touch and have tried really hard to get back together. This trip provided us the perfect opportunity to extend our friendship that we had formed down south.

And we were stopped at the highest point! 
Grant and Jacquie and Linda and I spent a bit of Friday, driving around Westport looking the area over. I bought some cool boots (finally) that will keep my feet dry. Of course, we would be leaving the coast that next day and I will probably never again be in the downpours of rain that we had on this trip. The boots will get used back home, and like I said, they are cool!

Caroline fed us too much! We had chips and dips with whole crabs for lunch. Crab for lunch, I have never had crab for lunch before!  Then in the evening, she fixed us clam chowder and breaded razor clams. What a treat! It was wonderful!
We're going to make the Zags game!

Add to all this, we were able to watch the Gonzaga Bulldogs play and win. It was the best end to the Can-Am that we could ask for!


Friday night came too fast, the movie ended and so did our trip. The next morning Linda and I got up and drove home. It was a long and uneventful drive but by traveling non-stop we were able to watch our Zags beat Xavier and enter the NCAA Final Four.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Pisst, You Want Some Candy?

I am getting so confused. With the rain, the new camp sites, and the sightseeing, I don’t know exactly what we have done each day. The best answer is to post what we did and hope to get it in the right time frame.

The days at Carl G. Washburne were filled with more beach explorations, a couple lighthouse visits, and some more clam chowder.  Drove south to Heceta Head Lighthouse and hiked up to the viewpoint.

Heceta Head Lighthouse.
When we arrived one of the volunteers quickly said that we had to climb up to the overlook where we could get the best shot of the light in the house. As we scampered up the steep hillside I could just hear the volunteer talking to the other volunteer saying, “That’s four more for me!” Both of them snickering and shaking their heads.

I got a good shot of the light and then we slipped and slid back down to the lighthouse level. I imagine that volunteers get a bit bored and would be constantly making up games and stories using the visitors as their guinea pigs.

I guess it was worth the climb.
With the hike at the lighthouse behind us, we drove into Florence and looked around the downtown area. We had a good meal at the Firehouse Restaurant and Lounge. We continued the chowder challenge by tasting their five-time award winning chowder. We all agreed it was good!

Back at Washburne we ate dinner and played our usual game of cards. It was raining hard so we all hit the sack at Oregon Coast Midnight, 9:00 PM.

Umpqua River Lighthouse.
Monday we packed up and drove down to our next campground Bullards Beach. There was a break in the weather and this yellow orb filled the sky with light and warmth.  We found a camp spot and then walked the 1½ miles to the beach. It was so nice to be out and about without our heavy rain jackets on.  Once back at the rigs we played more cards laughing at all the stories we shared.
A couple of real comedians.
Bandon by the Sea was our next day’s area of exploration. We started by driving to the Coquille River Lighthouse and looking around there.  Next, we drove to Face Rock scenic viewpoint and looked at the impressive offshore monolith.

Bandon provided us with several hours of exploration. We ate at Tony’s Crab Shack, logging their clam chowder in our competition. I cannot figure out exactly why we ate clam chowder and not the crab and shrimp sandwich that was so highly recommended. It’s a CRAB shack for goodness sake, nothing was said about clams!

Art made from recycling beach junk.
After we ate and laughed, we walked to a store that should be outlawed for the good of all mankind. Cranberry Sweets & More is a nice shop that sells all sorts of candy. The reason it should be outlawed is that they cut up a million different candies, and put them in bowls all over the store, and you can taste any of them you want.  IT WAS A FEEDING FRENZY! I casually notice a couple bowls of different chocolates and popped them in my mouth. Next thing I knew, I had four chunks of candy in my right hand, two in my left and my mouth was stuffed full of several chocolate-covered jelly things. I know I circled the peanut brittle bowl more than for times. I was out of control! I took a breath and looked around; everyone was doing the same as me! By the time we left the store we were so jazzed up on sugar that Grant drove out of town wrong way! We were trying to find a gas station but were so hyped up that we couldn’t see straight. The crash was awful, I still have a headache.
Just another funny event in the Can-Am Rendezvous, and we’ll just keep give’r the rest of the trip.



Coquille River Lighthouse.




Face Rock.

It's Wet, Yet We Continue

Yaquina Head Lighthouse.
When we go to the Oregon Coast, it seems like we always stay a couple nights at Beverly Beach State Park. The park's location is very central to many of the areas we like to look at and it gives us good access to either Lincoln City or Newport.  That’s where we stayed on night 5 and 6 of the Can-Am Rendezvous.

On out trek down from Nehalem Bay State Park to our nights at Beverly Beach, we stopped at Lincoln City for a little Outlet Mall shopping. Linda says it was a most successful trip. I failed to find anything I had to buy.

Then we went on to Depoe Bay where we did some whale watching and ate a scrumptious lunch at a place called The Horn. Which, by the way, got 4 out of 5 pluses on their clam chowder!

Well, well, thinking back I have discovered that I did not tell you about the world famous Can-Am Chowder Challenge.  It all started at lunch when we ate at Mo’s. We had their chowder and in conversation, made a comparison to the chowder the Linda had at the Wet Dog. We set up judging standards which included five areas: creaminess, taste, seafood, a balance of flavor and temperature. Each criteria gets 3 possible points.  At this posting have judged six establishments chowder and will post the results in the final post for the Cam-Am.

Linda and I made pizza for dinner and once we had eaten our fill we played cards, crashing into a cheese and pizza coma at about 9:30 PM.

The morning we loaded into the official Cam-Am touring rig and drove to Yaquina Head where we visited the lighthouse, or we at least walked around it. We were delighted to see eagles, harbor seals, and whales as we dogged the rain and the wind.

Anchovies.
The marine aquarium at Newport never fails to be one of our favorite sightseeing stops. The day's weather predictions were bleak for beach hiking but were just right for exploring the indoor reaches of the aquarium facility.  We had a great time exploring all the exhibits.

We drove to the heart of old Newport and had lunch at Ocean Bleu Seafood. I added another bowl of chowder to our list of competitors. As we left the restaurant we could hear sea lions barks bouncing off the walls of the local canneries. We got in the rig and drove in search of the sounds. At the far end of the shopping area, we parked and looked out into the harbor. The barks of the sea lions were louder than ever so we walked to a nearby pier. Below us on six docks was a mass of sea lions. The sounds they were making were amazing.

We looked out across the bay to the breakwater and our jaws dropped. “Those aren’t rocks over there, they are sea lions!” Linda said. The breakwater was a mass of moving animals. Once again we were astounded. None of us had ever seen so many sea lions in one area. We all agreed that we could write the Sea Lion Caves off our tourist list on this trip.

We drove back to Beverley Beach where we climbed into our homes and let the rain pour down.
It was a quick drive from Beverley Beach to our new camp at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park. As we drove we checked out several campgrounds and took a side hike at Cape Perpetua, where we saw the Spouting Horn and Thor's Well.


At Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park we got two great camp sites and then went to a walk to the beach. 






Crab and Squid.