Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sort of "Spring" Dash

It is that time of the year again, you know, the time when hordes of runners hit the streets for fun runs, and duathalons. Today we set out for the heart of Coeur d'Alene so that Linda could run in the Coeur d'Alene Spring Dash. It was a bit cold and windy for the run but a big crown turned out to run.
Linda did very well and was happy with her results. It was fun for me because I know so many people who attend.
When Linda hit the road I walked up to Java and grabbed a Bowl of Soul with a muffin. I sat outside in the hit and miss sun and enjoyed my morning.
When Linda finished I got a photo and then we did our shopping and drove home. I piddled around the place all day doing odd jobs that I have been putting off waiting for the rain to stop. It was cold, and I only had about five minutes of snow so it was fun getting the hands dirty.

Friday, April 01, 2011

It Rains In Oregon - Part 2

In Oregon, Tuesdays are days for rain. That’s what we figured when we drove up the coast to Cannon Beach and Seaside. Our weather has been what we expected, cloudy with intermittent showers. This Tuesday it was showers with intermittent down pours. We walked the streets of the two little towns and looked in the numerous shops at practically the same junk. Ocean tacky was the trinket d’ jour. Every kind of plastic, seashell covered knick knack you could imagine, most with a lone seagull sitting on them. We even saw a life-sized Elvis sitting in one store. The only thing missing was the 3-D winking Jesus. I guess we are not south enough for that one.

Our lunch was the hit of the day. We had pizza pie by the slice at Pizza a’Fetta in Cannon Beach. They serve the pizza by the slice or the pie and say they were rated in the top 50 pizza eateries in the United States, back in 1998. Linda had pepperoni and I had a meat special and both were about as good as it gets. We shared a four cheese slice that was up to par with the same product at Capone’s. It was good food and we were able to sit and eat while the skies doused the earth with sheets of rain.

We returned to the camper and did our nightly routine of walking the dog, drying off, eating, cards and then bed. We did however do something different this evening. I put Kobi into the crate and before I went to bed visited him. He seemed so sad and cold that I went back into the camper and Linda and I put down towels to cover the floor. Then I brought him into the camper where we were. This was breaking one of our first rules of the camper, but we all three slept better for it.

In the morning we packed up and took the Jeep south to Lincoln City. Weather reports said that it was going to be windy but the rain might break up a bit so we could see the coast as we went. We got to Lincoln City and noticed the wind was up and we were still traveling in a steady down pour. There is an outlet mall at the south end of town so we went there and did some shopping. Linda bought some Under Armor stuff and I got two pants and a shirt for $50 at the Columbia store. It was a fun break from the rain.

Back in the Jeep we spotted a Thai food restaurant which started us craving Thai food for lunch. We drove through Lincoln City and spotted a second eatery, but returned to the original place because it had more cars in front of it. What a find!!! The place was quiet and well kept. We were seated by the window and a very nice lady, probably an owner, took our order. She insisted that we try two different plates of food, so we ordered Pad Thai and Almond Chicken. Linda ordered tea and was given some wonderful choices, explained in great detail with a pride that made us feel like we were the only ones in the place. When the tea arrived the delicate sent of lavender and other spices filled the air around us. We both could have just sat there breathing in the scent; we drank the hot tea and were once again amazed at the qualities it possessed.

Our food came very promptly and it looked as good as everything smelled. The Almond Chicken was something else, the flavor was amazing. Our Pad Thai was great too, I would have liked a bit more hot, but we had ordered on the cautious side and only had it spiced to a two out of five. I had a four once that about killed me, so we went a bit weak on this one. The meal was right up there with the pizza we had yesterday. I would put it a bit higher on the good food scale, but once again a great meal.

Back at the camper we played cribbage and got things organized to leave the next morning. Walking the dog was difficult because the rain and wind on the beach were so bad that you could only walk with the wind. Each time that I was out walking the dog I noticed one very telling tale, only people with dogs were out walking the beach. What does that tell you about the mental state of dog owners? I finished my walk and since I was soaked I put away the four chairs that we never sat in and the bikes we never got a chance to ride. I want you to know that we did not use the bikes because of the heavy rain, no other reason. I had watched the morning news and had heard that Portland had set a new 20 year record for consecutive rain days of rain. Tomorrow would be #30. I hung my wet cloths and we ate dinner, cleaned up the camper and went to bed.

We were out of camp by 9 am and heading north for Cannon Beach where we would make the turn to wind our way to Portland, The Dalles and then on up to Palouse Falls State Park. It was raining hard as we left, I had a run in with the dump station, pinched my thumb but got everything cleared out and put away. When we reached Hood River, our lunch stop, I noticed I failed to put the lid back on the camper dump. It was gone so we will have to buy a new one, the old one victim to the distraction of pinching my thumb back at Nehalem Bay.

We entered Hood River and drove up the hills and found a free parking spot. It wasn’t as easy as that sounds. Most of downtown Hood River is pay to park areas and I happened to turn up a road that was so steep that I actually thought we might not be able to pull the slope. The diesel easily chugged up and over the crest but we were very vertically exposed for about fifty yards. We parked, got Kobi out and walked down into town to find a place to get some food. The main street is an eclectic mix of shops, cafes, extreme sports centers and pubs. We chose a pub because both cafés had dogs tied up in front of them and we needed a place where Kobi could sit outside as we ate. The lady inside was very nice and explained what was available but she also made a suggestion that we try the place down the block because they had a picnic table outside where we could sit with the dog and eat. Linda talked to her for a bit while I went and used the restroom and then we took her suggestion, thanked her and headed down the block to Trillium. As we walked it dawned on us that it was not raining, we both laughed.

The waitress at Trillium greeted us with a smile. She was a Golden owner. We sat at a table outside the door, out of the wind, on the street; a great people watching spot where Kobi could curl up under our legs. I ordered a BLT and Linda had a Greek sandwich made with humus, feta chicken, cucumbers and red onions. Is your mouth watering yet? It was a great meal and we really enjoyed watching Hood River go by.

We walked to the truck and drove to a park where we could walk Kobi. Once he was walked we loaded up and drove up through the Tri Cities to the turn off to Connell and made our way down to Palouse Falls State Park.

The park is out in the middle of rolling sage scrub land. You descend into the park via a steep gravel road. Once in the park there is a turn around that creates a “J”, the camp sites are located in the middle of the “J”. We were a bit puzzled as to where to park so Linda ran up to the camp host Neal, and got some help. Neal suggested that we set up for the night in the overflow parking lot up behind his place. It turned out to be a perfect spot away from everything. We set up the camper and then went for a long walk taking pictures of the falls and talking about how queasy it mad our stomachs to look down the face of the rocks into the muddy river. We kept Kobi on lead whenever we were anywhere near the drop offs. There were marmots everywhere and we just knew if we let Kobi run free, he would chase a marmot over the cliff. I have watched him chase squirrels on Tubbs Hill where he ran off the rocks into the water. Chasing here could be fatal so Kobi was on a tight lead.

It Rains In Oregon

Our driving time yesterday was 9 hours 3 minutes and we covered 517 miles. Our average speed was 57.1 mph. It was a long day of driving but we did make it to the coast and to a campsite at Beverly Beach State Park. The day turned out to be a very good driving day. We drove down to the Tri-Cities under partly cloudy skies. When we hit the Columbia River we turned west and drove along the north side of the river facing very little wind.

We stopped at the Stonehenge Memorial and let Kobi out to run while we took some photos and a much needed break. When we loaded back up we immediately crossed the river to Biggs and caught the freeway into Portland area from there. As we drove through The Dalles, we debated whether to stop at one of the campgrounds at about 3 pm, or continue on to the coast and hope that we could find a place to stay for the next two nights. Linda made a couple phone calls and found out that there were some spots available, but we were three or four hours away and it could be a little bit of a gamble to get one.

We tossed the dice and drove on. One of our rules of the road is to make sure we fill the truck with diesel whenever it gets down to just below half a tank. We filled up in the Tri-Cities and then we started thinking about it just outside of Portland. We spotted a sign around Brooks and pulled off the freeway. I wheeled across traffic and turned into the station and then we saw the lines!!! Cars and trucks were backed up everywhere! We looked at each other and Linda said, “Oh, we’re in Oregon and you can’t pump your own fuel.” They had two guys out trying to fill about 14 vehicles at a time and it looked like they were refusing to run or panic. I was stuck. With the camper, pulling the Jeep, we could only find a slot with diesel and settle in and wait.

Once we were in line, Linda took the opportunity to go to the bathroom and also grab us a couple SUBWAY sandwiches. By the time she returned I was being filled and it gave me time to munch down the sandwich. It took me about a minute to accomplish that because I was starved. We both finished off everything as we wound our way through the traffic mess and back onto the highway.

We wound our way past Salem and through Corvallis on down to the coast at Newport. We got to Beverly Beach and pulled up to the Ranger’s Office. Linda registered us and we found our site. The only thing we had energy to do after our set up was to walk Kobi, pet him a bit and go to bed.

The next morning we ate breakfast and packed up the Jeep for the day. We had set up a rendezvous with Linda’s sister and her family at the Hatfield Marine Science Center sometime around 11:30 am. We were a bit early when we pulled into Newport, where the science center is located, so we drove out to the jetty and walked on our first Oregon beach of the trip. After we played in the sand and rain, we drove over to meet the family. They were inside the center when we arrived and it was great to see everyone again. The kids are growing so fast it is amazing. Linda was beaming; I can tell she misses everyone.

We spent a little over an hour looking at the exhibits that Oregon State University has provided. The kids were real good and it was fun to watch them interact with the exhibits. It was about 1:30 pm and everyone was getting hungry.

We loaded up and drove to old town Newport where we planned on eating. Old town was packed! There were people everywhere. I guess that when the rain stops everyone does their best to get up and out. Linda wanted clam chowder; she kept saying it with a New England accent. Then she would smile and laugh. She must have said it a hundred times; I stopped laughing at about twenty. We got a table overlooking the bay at Mo’s Annex. The food was good, Linda got her chowder and I had fish tacos.

Full of sea food we walked around town looking at the sights. Al Dee lead us to a couple of geocaches which were located close to some good views of the Newport Bridge. Once we found the caches and took the view photos it was time for the family to head home. I could tell Linda didn’t like saying good bye, but we quickly climbed in the Jeep and worked our way back home. We ate dinner, played cards and went to bed. It was a great day of family and actually some sun.

Early in the morning the new inverter let out a low beep. I turned it off and looked in the operational manual for an explanation of the noise. A low beep meant that that 12 volt input was low. I noted that and then within the hour I noticed that the refrigerator had a fault indicator, a “C”, in its LED panel. I looked this up and it said that there was low 12 volt power supply. I had to think about what this meant! I figured that either the batteries were bad or something was not letting them charge. Earlier I had repaired our sound system by replacing a fuse that must have went when the inverter burned out. I figured that we needed to get things fixed, but didn’t know the best scenario to get the problem repaired. We got ready for the day and as we used the bathroom and the fan, the power was drawn way down. I figured it must be the batteries.

I pulled the batteries and loaded them into the Jeep. We stopped at the camp host and asked where we should go to get the batteries checked. Our only choice was to drive to Tillamook, 25 mile south. We went to an RV place and the repairman checked the batteries. They were still good. We talked through the system and possible reasons for the power drain. At first he said that it probably was the fuses and those were about $130 each. I about passed out. I once again explained that we had TC with a Charge Wizard inverter. That changed everything; he thought we were talking about one of the huge motor homes.

He went through all the possibilities again and said it was most likely two 30 amp fuses located on the Charge Wizard. Off we drove back to our camper. Within a minute I located the two fuses. Pulling them out took a bit due to the confined quarters, but I was able to struggle through the fix. Once they were out I knew that this was the problem and I replace them with good fuses. I put everything back together, loaded the batteries back into their compartment and connected all the power back up. What do you know, everything worked. All appliances were back to normal and within a few hours the batteries were functioning normally. I learned quite a bit about our camper and that was good. We found that when we spiked our power that one day and fried the inverter, we also took out three fuses that did not show up until the power in the batteries got very low. The experience was very frustrating and took about four hours of our day, but now I know exactly where things are and how better to diagnose future problems.

We loaded into the Jeep and drove into Manzanita, did some tourist shopping and had a snack. We found out that the Lady Zags were still playing in the tournament and then returned for a long walk on the beach. Both Linda and I were beat after our anxious morning of repairs. We ate and went to bed.