“Camping at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park”

Here we are, tethered to slot #8 at the Umpqua Lighthouse State Park campground. Finally!

This is a park Diane has been wanting to visit for a long time but circumstances didn’t work out until recently. She was a little giddy when she made the reservations. It’s really good to see her so happy like that. Makes me happy, too.

Getting here was an unexpected challenge that nearly destroyed our RV and the tow car and it was all because of our decision to take the road less travelled. The reason for that, we discovered, was because it was pretty narrow in spots making it difficult to keep the rig in the lane without going over the center line. Early on, during this route, the right front wheel leaned a little too far right, going over the white line designating the bike lane, you’d think, but it was only about 6″ wide. Consequently, the tire made it all the way off the asphalt, causing a lot of jittering and a bit of fear as I worked to get it back on the road. Which I did. Diane was in the back cooking something, I think, or getting something from the fridge, so wasn’t looking out the windshield to see what was going on. That was a good thing. She would have absolutely freaked out! Really! I can say that with confidence because she was in the navigator’s chair the next time it happened and she was praising Jesus to save us all.

The same kind of thing happened but the bike lane wasn’t even 6″ wide as the asphalt terminated at the outer edge of the white line. So, technically, there was no bike lane at all. It was just a white line, then nothing. This particular event happened as the road curved to the right a little with traffic coming at me from every which direction. The right front made it off the road, then the right back tire went off, then the tow car went entirely into the ditch. I learned that from the guy who was behind us watching the entire show.

I felt the car pull the RV’s back end around about the time I got the front wheels on the asphalt then the RV’s back tires miraculously also grabbed a little asphalt giving me some traction to work with. At that time I was heading across the road with my front wheels turned to the right, then the car must have left the ditch and started the old wobbly back and forth that I’ve experienced before which seems to be a “thing” with the Equinox.

I was able to get the RV back into my lane while slowing down as much as possible. By this time I was probably going about 15 mph, but all that stuff going on behind me made it all pretty exciting.

I got the wobbly to stop, turned a corner onto a major road then pulled over and stopped to see what the damage was. At this time I was still unaware that the tow car had been in the ditch. The guy behind me also pulled over and stopped in front of me and told me he thought the car was going to roll over as it was entirely in the ditch and he wasn’t really sure how I managed to get it all back together.

The entire event probably took 15 seconds, start to stop, and Diane was making sure Jesus was paying attention. I’m pretty sure he was because other than a little mud splattered all over Diane’s white car, there was no apparent damage. So, we buckled up and continued on our way. There were no more experiences like that for the remainder of the trip.

Then we exited Highway 101 in Winchester Bay following the GPS directions, looking for Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. The GPS took us past at least 7 nice RV parks and led us out into the middle of a parking lot where folks who ride quads in the sand gather to unload their equipment. There was no park in site. Just this huge parking lot surrounded by sand. I found a gentleman and asked for directions which his wife gave as she knew what we were looking for. All we had to do was go back the way we came and go past the first 3 campgrounds and turn right on Lighthouse Road. We did that and drove past the Umpqua lighthouse, around a few corners then back out to Highway 101. Nowhere was there any evidence of a campground. So, we went around again and stopped in the parking lot near the lighthouse and I walked back to what appeared to be an occupied 5th wheel nearby.

I knocked on their door and caused a dog to light up the surrounding area with a serious round of barking. Finally, the door was opened and I explained my dilemma. The lady of the house ensured me that we were very close to our destination then gave me some very detailed directions on how to get there.

Without going into more detail, we were able to reach our objective and get connected to power and water before darkness claimed the day. For once in my life I was thankful for daylight saving time. We would have never found this place in the dark.

The problem is, you see, that the GPS made us turn on the wrong road, leading us around to the back of the park. Then, going up Lighthouse Road from where we were wasn’t useful because the sign for the park can only be seen coming from the other direction. Pretty handy, right?

We got settled, had dinner, read our books for a while, went to bed and I slept for almost 9 hours. That’s totally unlike my bladder to allow me to do that. I was amazed. Pleased, but amazed.

Then I went outside to have another look at the car. Although it started pouring rain about the time we settled down, the car was still dirty. But, all the parts seemed to be there and nothing was dented.

After breakfast we decided to take a ride and check out our surroundings. Shortly into the trip it was obvious that things were different as there was an odd odor creeping into the car, and something was dragging on the pavement. A quick look under the hood solve the odor – it was debris from the ditch that had been tossed all over the engine that was being heated by the engine. The item dragging on the pavement was a piece of the right front fender well that had come unsnapped from whatever kept it in place. Not in the mood to give it a lot of attention, I just bent it up away from the road and called it good.

The scraping sound went away and after about 10 miles so did the odor.

Considering all of the possibilities for what could have happened to us we could only look at each other and know, for sure, that we were blessed. Apparently we both have more to do in this world and apparently we’ll need the RV and tow car to do it.

Thank you Jesus!

Errands, a Vaccination, & Pork Chops

I’ve been in a bit of a daze over the last eleven days since my last post. Some of you may think that’s normal for me, and perhaps you’re correct. I readily admit that my thoughts are easily scattered making it difficult for me to distinguish fact and fiction. Since fiction is my favorite form of reading material I tend to lean heavily in the direction. Continuing with the scattered theme, that’s kinda what this post will be about.

The other day I was summoned to Daniel & Jennifer’s home to pick up some documents that needed to be scanned and some mail Jennifer wished me to mail. Oh, and deliver her water bill to the appropriate box at the water department.

When I arrived to accomplish these things, Jennifer took my photo.

She thought she’d have it to share with her friends to show them what a goofball I am. What she didn’t know was that I wound up at her door in this manner because her Mother expressly forbid me to leave the house looking like this. I admit I was flirting with danger doing this, but it’s tough for me to back away from a challenge like that. Plus, I had strong notions about going to Walmart while I was out. On the trip, however, I re-evaluated that course of action because it was daylight and it’s my understanding that people don’t usually go to Walmart dressed like this during the day. It’s evening garb. I could be wrong about that, but figured not going was erring on the side of caution.

I’ve been talking with Cedric a lot via email lately and that’s fun. He’s stationed aboard the USS Nimitz (CVN-68), in case I haven’t mentioned that early. The ship has been deployed for almost a year now. That’s a long time at sea. With the COVID pandemic they don’t get port visits like a normal WESTPAC cruise. That, and with Iran playing games with missiles, the ship is always on alert. Just recently Iran planted one in the ocean abour a 100 miles from the Nimitz, just to say “Hi!”

Cedric is weathering the cruise nicely and is looking forward to getting back Stateside. He will be discharged not long after they return.

Today was a banner day for me. Diane drove me to the VA Hospital so I could get my 1st COVID vaccination shot. I made the appointment online and it was a very simple process. Here’s the shirt I wore…

The nurses all wanted one. Since I got it from Daniel, my son-in-law, I gave them all his email address and phone number so he could help them. Actually, that’s a lie. I didn’t do that, but it might have been fun to see how many of them would have called or emailed him. But I didn’t. Honest.

I spent a total of 25 minutes in the hospital rom the time I checked in to the auditorium until I left the building. That included filling out a form, getting the shot, then sitting in a chair for 15 minutes to see if I could do it without falling on the floor.

The nurse was great. Didn’t get her name so I’ll call her Ruby. That’s a fun name. The first thing I asked her was if the needle was really as huge as the ones the news has been showing us for weeks now. They just looked overly large, and they always showed the nurse pushing it into someone’s are really slow. Ruby and I talked about that a little bit and she assured me the needle was normal size and she would be quick about it. She even let me take a photo of her in action …

I found Diane parked pretty close to the front door and we had a nice ride home. When we got there., I fried up some pork chops for lunch …

They were really good. I marinated them in some Yoshidas teriyaki stuff that I found in the cupboard. It was brand new, never opened, and had an expiration date of October 2018. Looked good to me. Tasted good, too.

Now, many hours after the shot, my arm is really sore. I’m not sure if it’s all because of the shot, or partially because Diane had me help her scrub the little black dog. That, my friends, is a risky job. He’s pretty blind and isn’t really fond of water so his goes on high alert to protect himself and gets quite aggressive. Thankfully, I have some heavy duty leather gloves to wear during this evolution. I hold him while Diane does the scrubbing. It only took about an hour.

Now I’m going to go sit with Diane and watch news for a while.

Stay safe out there and don’t neglect to get your shot when given the opportunity.

Dazed & Confused

I don’t know where to start with this today. So much has been happening that my mind is frizzled just a bit in an effort to make sense of events.

First: The new windows we had installed earlier in the week work great. We removed the Anderson windows that were installed in 1957, which were nice but not very good with insulation, and replaced them with brand new 2020 double pane Anderson windows. Not only is the insulation noticeably better, the windows help with dimming down outside noise. That was unexpected, but it makes sense. So, life is good. Now all I have to do is save up enough money to buy enough lumber to trim all the windows. Diane want it to be oak and my first rough estimate is I need about 325 board feet to get it done. I will measure again just to make sure, of course. Diane insists. This shouldn’t take me much more than a year and a half, give or take a few months either way.

Second: COVID has involved itself with our lives. Our granddaughter tested positive about a week ago. She recently turned 21 so I accused her, kiddingly, that she shouldn’t have been hanging out at all those bars. She wasn’t and I knew that. She knew I knew it, too. Her symptoms are mild but still it’s not anything to trifle with so we will remain concerned for now. Also in the family, our daughter, Jennifer and hubby Daniel, are fostering Daniel’s great nephew who was recently diagnosed with COVID. He’s only 8-months-old. Everyone else in the family tested negative. Diane and I don’t count because we’re old and don’t go anywhere. We’re very good sequesterers. Professional, you might say, and we’re just fine with that.

Third: How about that mini-Revolution we had yesterday. Diane and I watched the events as they unfolded and were astounded that only one person was shot. What a mess. I won’t expound on this because I avoid political issues on this forum. I have opinions, of course, but I’m pretty sure none of you want to ‘hear’ about them.

Fourth: I had an “in person” eye appointment at the VA hospital with a nice young lady named Jahaila. She’s working at the VA as an intern and will graduate in May as a real deal Doctor. I enjoyed my visit and look forward to getting my new glasses in a few weeks. I think the glasses are made in Boise, last I heard, and they have a heavy workload, hence the delay. I think the glasses are delivered to our local post office by two guys on a tandem bicycle who’s sole purpose in life is to deliver glasses for the VA. For safety, they only travel backroads, never on freeways. In towns they are allowed to ride on the sidewalks because the guy in the back is legally blind. Since he isn’t steering, that’s OK. He’s really only there to pedal, really hard, and isn’t in any way responsible for anything they run over, or into, during their delivery trips. They’ve been doing this for many years now so they must really be careful.

This is the view from the 8th floor elevator lobby of the Portland VA Hospital.

Fifth: Diane’s Mom’s light over her sink burned out so I replaced it after we got back from the VA. Putting in a new bulb didn’t fix it so I got out my trusty multi meter and didn’t learn a thing that would lead to a solution. So, I called my friend, Doug, who used to be a professional electrician for some insight. He tells me that his knowledge of codes terminates around 2010 so he limits his involvement with the understanding that anything he shares isn’t useful with regard to current codes. We kibutzed a bit and he managed to lead me in a direction that will probably allow me to resolve the problem on my own. Tomorrow will tell the tail. All I have to do is remember what he told me. It would be easier with notes but he stresses the importance of not taking notes during our visits because something could go wrong which could result in a visit from the police. I understand his concern, so there are no notes. Just my faulty memory. We’ll see how that goes.

Now it’s time for me to stop all activity for the day and go sit with Diane to make sure she doesn’t watch too many shows about renovating houses. They leave her giddy with possibilities about our home. Thankfully, we live a long way from Waco so we can’t feasibly engage Chip and Joann to fix our house. It would be nice, though. Wouldn’t it be funny if they read this and decided to come visit? I’ll be sure to let you know if that happens. Honest, I will.

Now I must stop and report that a lot of what you just read is false. I can’t help myself.

G’nite.

The Other Day …

The above sunrise was provided to me on 12/07. What a gift. Totally unexpected. This is the time of year when the sun rises almost directly behind Mt. Hood. This view is about 30 minutes before the sun becomes visible, taking all the color away in a slow fade. I’m always amazed at how vivid the colors are before the transition to various shades of gray on a blue background. Or, more often, various shades of gray everywhere. So, the early morning color is special and I’m happy I can share it with you.

I know, Hawaii has sunrises and sunsets equally stunning, but over there it’s a “ho hum” event. Happens all the time. Here in the Great Northwest it seems to be a little more special.

The day of this sunrise, Diane bowed to my wishes and gave me a haircut. I offered the job to all of the kids but they declined. Before she started, I asked her to “make me look like Jim.” I sat down to watch TV and took a picture for you …

How did she do?

The head band, by the way, is used to keep the hair out of my eyes while I work. It doesn’t get used much because I don’t work much. It’ll be more useful if my hair grows back.

Speaking of work … Jeff and I did some work in the master bathroom recently to fix a leak that just sprang up out of nowhere. Actually, it sprang down into the basement. It was the toilet, but it was clean water causing the problem. That work is still in progress because we had to replace some of the underlayment which involved shopping, measuring, and cutting of wood. Diane found the linoleum at the Restore Store for $8. It’s been a fun project but is taking far too long for Diane’s liking. She watches a lot of HGTV shows where those guys do a simple little job like this in a couple of hours which just isn’t in the cards for us. There is a lot of learning involved for us to do the same thing in 2 weeks.

During this process Jeff commented to his Mom that he and I worked together all day and didn’t fight even one time. We’ve both learned tolerance, I guess. I think we both enjoy working together now. Before it was a battle of wills as to who knew what and how things should be done. Now it’s all about me just stepping out of the way while he lifts all the heavy stuff and makes decisions. I’ve learned that if his decisions are bad ones, I’m in the clear because I didn’t do it. So far he’s been making really good decisions.

The toilet job involved removing and replacing wood, and making a template for the sheet linoleum to ensure it’s semi-straight. It’s to the point now where I need to remove all dust from the surface so I can put down the adhesive and pin the linoleum down forever. Then I’ll have to procure some baseboard and shoe molding to finish it.

Going slow has revealed that doing so results in a safer work environment and I don’t bleed nearly as often. Lately, I’ve only bled a little when I bump my hand on something. my skin is so thin that it’s pretty easy for me to breach my water-proof barrier. They are easily sealed with a small piece of duct tape.

Gonna quit, now, and get that floor finished.

South Beach, Jennie, CT/PET scans

This is Oregon’s South Beach, not Florida’s. It’s a state park on the Oregon Coast. That’s where we are at this moment in time. Watching the VP debate.

About the debate. After watching the presidential debate, no way were we going to miss this one.

The trip north was non-eventful. The entire way the sky looked almost like it was going to rain at any moment. It didn’t, but should have. If it had perhaps I could have scraped the 3-4 millions bugs off the windshield. From the inside of the coach, the windshield looks a lot like modern art. Before leaving tomorrow I’ll see if I can capture it in a photo with the thought of framing it for a prominent spot above our fireplace.

When we first checked in to the South Beach camp ground, we set up in space A-33, the one we selected when originally registering. One of the first things I do when setting up camp is to determine how good our southern view is. That’s important for good satellite TV reception. Gotta have that so we can check the news. And other stuff.

After I got the coach all set up it was apparent right away that we didn’t have a good southern view. Neither did we have access to broadcast channels. So, I went cruising around the park looking for a better spot. I found that E-31 was far better and went back to the Park Ranger and he switched our sites.

We broke camp and moved. Everything works great.

I can hear your heads twirling about how what I’m describing has anything to do with camping in any way shape or form. Camping is setting up a tent, stoking a wood fire, cooking with the fire or on a tiny little gas stove. You bundle up when it’s cold, and you sleep on the ground. We used to do that.

Then we got old and camping took on a new look for us. Sleeping on the ground became difficult and extremely undesireable. So, we don’t do that any more.

NOTE: I just opened my laptop and found this as a draft from October 7th so it’s a bit out of date. Instead of wracking my tiny brain for more information related to South Beach I’m going to skip ahead a bit and share where we are this moment in time – Deschutes River State Park near The Dalles, Oregon. That’s almost as far away from South Beach as we can get. Actually, that’s not even close to true because the further east we go on I-84 the further we get from South Beach. But, that’s a bit irrelevant for this narrative.

This trip we connected with our Winnebago Group once again. Diane made the arrangements for us to meet up with the group at the Troutdale Outlet mall so we could travel together east on I-84 to the park. Normally, when we rendezvous like this, we are the last to arrive, but this time we beat Terry & Carolann and Cliff & Susie by a mile. Les and Sophie were already at the camp ground so I guess you could say they beat us all. Which they did.

Since we arrived first, we got our lawn chairs out and sat in the sun, yes it was sunny, waiting for the others to arrive. It took them a while but that was to be expected since they live about 3 miles from Troutdale.

We establised another first by leading the group on the trip to the camp ground. What fun I had leading the pack. We mossed along at a sedate 60 mph the entire way.

Once we got to the campground, and connected to the utilities, I investigated the best view of the southern sky. I’ve mentioned before, maybe earlier in this narrative, that seeing the southern sky is imperative for a successful camping experience because that’s where the satellites live that we need to ‘see’ with our Dish antenna. Thankfully, the antenna finds the satellites all by itself. Nifty.

I reset the Dish received a few times with the antenna in various locations with no success. Then I decided to put it on the RV roof, always my last choice, to see what it could find. Turns out it was perfect even though the window to the sky was small through some very tall trees. I was amazed. Diane was very happy.

We set up on Thursday and prepared ourselves to silently celebrate our daughter’s, Jennifer’s, 45th birthday on Friday. Wow! Our baby is 45! But, she still looks like she’s 20-something. Knowing we weren’t going to be home, like almost every October 23rd for many years, we celebrated her birthday with dinner and a small party at Jen’s house last Wednesday. It was a nice, quiet visit. Always good. In attendance was Jen, Daniel, Lydia, Justin, Diane and me. I haven’t mentioned Justin before. He’s Lydia’s new boyfriend. Actually, they’ve known each other since they were wee children and went to school together. They were friends then until Justin called Lydia a “dumb blonde”, or something like that. Because of that she shunned him for the last 8 years or so. Now Lydia acknowledges that he is her boyfriend. It’s a good thing.

The next morning, we left town.

Now it’s time for some historical information to set the stage for Friday afternoon.

Diane was informed about spots in her lungs that concerned her doctor last February. The fact that the doctor knew about them was due to a serendipitous abdominal CT scan that was mistakenly done on her chest. One spot, behind her heart, was of primary concern so another CT scan was scheduled for April so they could see if anything changed. It didn’t, so another CT was scheduled for six months out, in October. That test, done on October 12th, showed changes. Not good news so a PET scan was scheduled for October 20th. Knowing that PET scans are a primary avenue for discovering cancer in one’s body was intimidating, but it had to be done.

That was just a few days ago. Yesterday, Friday, Jennie’s birthday, she got a call from her oncologist but it went right to voice mail so she didn’t get to talk with the doctor directly. The message she left relieved a lot of tension for both Diane and me. She said the PET scan didn’t reveal any bright spots, meaning there was no cancer. Then Diane was able to access the PET diagnosis which was pretty much all good news. Amazing. Her oncologist said there are things that need to be worked on, but the worst case wasn’t in the picture.

I am so happy that my life with Diane isn’t going to be cut short and Diane is so relieved that the doctors have something definitive to deal with. She told me that on the drive home after the PET scan she felt a calm envelope her, a sense of peace. Like a sign that all was going to be alright. So far, it is.

The fact that all this news became available on Jennifer’s birthday seemed to be significant. No doubt in our minds, prayers were answered. For that, we’re thankful.

Life is good.

Trek to the beach

Truly, it was a trek. For Diane and me, it was an epic trek. It began quite calmly with a short walk around B Loop here in the park, to a very soft sand path that immediately aimed itself uphill. Next to the entry point stood a pole to which was attached a small sign with an arrow point the way. Beneath the arrow the distance was revealed to be 0.75 miles.

So, 3/4 of a mile uphill in soft sand. No problem. It was a challenge for both of us so we marched on. Very slowly.

Here I must report that this park has a portion available for folks who bring their horses and they are allowed to use portions of the sandy path we were trekking. Dodging occasional horse droppings on shared portions of the path caused me to wonder why campers are constantly reminded to clean up after their dogs but nowhere did I see similar reminders for horse owners to do the same. Especially for common use areas.

How is this fair? I suppose it could be a safety issue for the riders who would have to stop, dismount, cleanup, remount, then restart. Maybe OSHA made a decision that exempts horse folks from stooping so low as to pick up their poop. I don’t know, but, I have a solution.

Pretty much every parade I’ve ever attended had horses who marched down the road with all the other displays. Usually, they followed all the bands and marching units, for obvious reasons. Each group of horses is followed by a brave group of people with a shovel and a cart, picking up the droppings as necessary. I don’t think it’s beyond reasonable to provide the same service for horses allowed to traverse paths shared by humans. The pickeruppers could follow along on an off quad, or a small jeep.

Just a suggestion.

Now that I’ve unburdened my troubled sense of fairness, let me just say that Diane and I made the 1.5 mile round trip without incident. Although the temperature was reported at 68 degrees, neither of us believed it and took hoodies for the trip. They were put to good use once we arrived at the beach. The wind was blowing quite hard driving the wind chill factor down to about 9 degrees. That’s probably not true but it was really chilly. Even so, I ventured down that last steep hill to the beach so I could look at the little rocks the water scatters all over. Diane chose to skip that last challenge and found a comfy place to sit by a large sign with 146 on it. These signs, scattered up and down the coast, are used by safety agencies for locating emergencies along the coast. I looked that up so it must be true. Makes sense.

Anyway, while wandering around smartly on the beach, with no one within 2 miles of us, except the wind surfer making his way south. The results of my pebble hunting was about 7 pounds of extra weight for the return trip on that soft sand path home.

The path from the beach goes into those trees, and beyond. Daunting.

We took numerous breaks on the way back to let our hips and knees rest. Now it’s later, we’ve had supper, and sitting for any length of time causes micro seizures of all my crotch muscles. Getting up is difficult and painful. I’m having the same symptoms I get when I drag my golf bag around a 9-hole course. I fail to understand why all my discomfort is centered within the confines of my crotch area. Doesn’t make sense.

Still, it hurts. I will heal, I know, but for now, it hurts.

Please pray for me.

Rocks before the trip.
Rocks after the trip.

Off on another Adventure

This is a preamble to the following narrative to explain the reason I wrote it two days ago and am only now sending it. First, there was an “internet thing” that prevented me from sharing it. I also had photos to share that I needed to download to my laptop from my phone. I found it interesting that when I connected my phone to the laptop I got a message reporting that I needed to download a file to make it happen but it didn’t tell me what the file was. Being gullible, I just selected “sure, download that file and make me take a change you will destroy everything on my computer.” That was actually an option. Really. I started that last night but got bored waiting so I stopped the process and went to bed. This morning I just let it run wild and also initiated a download of my own to update my laptop OS. Since I’m using my iPhone as a hot spot, and the signal it has is iffy, the process took just about 5 hours. I’m happy to report that everything turned out just fine except the photo download process thought all of the 9700 photos on my phone were new. It took about an hour for the process to stop at my command, then I selected the last 150 photos and downloaded them. Now I’m ready to let you read this thing. Whew!

I can’t believe that it’s been 19 days since my last post. You’d almost think I’ve been avoiding all of you. I could claim that COVID has kept me away, and that’s true, to an extent, but not the reason I’ve avoided the blog. Nope. I’m just lazy. One day melds onto another and, at least in my case, they’re pretty much all the same.

I get up around 5 am, let the animals out, let them back in, feed them, take my pills, sit in my chair, spread out a blanket in my lap for the cat, read my book until the cat wants to go back out, make coffee, fall asleep until Diane gets up between 10-11am, drink coffee, make breakfast, check my email, watch TV with Diane until time for supper, eat supper, watch TV until time for bed, let the animals out, let them back in, go to bed, read until I fall asleep, wake up just enough to put my book up, sleep off and on until 5 am, let the animals out, etc. for the past 19 days.

Actually, that routine’s been going on for years.

So, what did we do during those last 19 days? Let me look at my calendar. I’ll be right back …

A quick review revealed that there’s not much to report other than the fact that Diane wanted to wash the storm windows on the east side of the house. I thought, well, they come off pretty easy and they shouldn’t be too difficult to wash and replace, so I agreed. I got three of the four removed myself, but needed Jeff’s help on the 4th one.

Once they were down, and we got a closer look at them, and the condition of the window frames they were hiding, we had a short discussion about the benefits of spending a lot of money to just have all the windows replaced. An expensive but simple way to get all the windows washed. Made my day.

Now all we have to do is wait for the guy to show up and measure all the opening for that perfect fit. Then wait some more while they are all manufactured. Then wait some more for an install date. We have a pool going about whether or not it will be raining cat and dogs on the install day.

We’ve been traveling more and more lately. Fort Stevens State Park was the last trip, a couple of weeks ago with our Winnebago Friends.

At this time, we’re currently on the second day of a trip to Bullard’s Beach State Park in southern Oregon. It’s a great way to sequester. One big reason to head west was to get away from the forest fire smoke we’d be breathing for a week or so. This is what it looked like off our back porch:

Just 60 miles west in Seaside we had this:

End of Broadway – the Seaside Turnaround.
South end of Seaside Beach.
The Winnebago Crowd

At this moment, we’re parked in spot 9 at Armitage Park in Coburg. Got here yesterday and will leave tomorrow for the final leg to Bullard’s Beach State Park. It’s very quiet here and the spaces are about 30 feet apart so there’s no crowding at all.

A funny thing happened last night that made both of us grab out chins, tip our heads a little, and go “Hmmmm.” When I woke up this morning my right knee looks like someone hit me smack on my patella with a hammer. It was all swollen up and had stuff squishing all around my knee cap. I know that because I was moving it all around with my fingers. I could do that because it doesn’t hurt. Another interesting aspect of this event is that it doesn’t hurt to push it around, but I cannot kneel on it. That hurts. A lot. It’s just weird.

My gnarly knee. Looks kinda like a kangaroo knee.

For now it’s just not a concern and it’s kinda fun to look at.

Today we took a trip via back roads to investigate Springfield and Eugene (think Oregon Ducks). We made a trip to Mount Pisgah Arboretum and tromped around on their grounds for a couple of hours, walking 3 miles or so. It was good. It’s an immense area with miles of paths for serious walkers, of which there were a few.

That’s Diane running away from me.
Recharging
One of many paths across the fields.

Met some very friendly people who were hard at work clearing acres of blackberry vines. After watching them for a bit, my little patch of blackberry vines at home dwindled to pretty much nothing in my mind.

Then we drove to downtown Eugene to see an incredible house perched on the side of the hill just above the Amtrak stop. If it hadn’t’ve been Monday we would have toured the place but they don’t open till Tuesday. Big bummer.

Shelton McMurphey Johnson House

Then it was time to go ‘home’, but only after a stop to get some groceries. Turned out there was a Winco Food store right around the corner so Diane was delighted.

Diane wanted steak so we got some. The New York versions were cheap, she said, and came 2 to a pack so we got 2 packs. I allowed this knowing that Diane would only eat half of hers, but that was OK. While checking out she foolishly asked me if I could eat a pound of meat. Though no answer was required, I said, “sure.”

Once back ‘home’ she went to work baking a couple of potatoes and one ear of corn (for me) while I got the BBQ out of the basement and worked at getting it hooked up. That’s really not a tough job but when I opened the basement door things fell out. Like a bag of beach toys the girls use when we take them to the beach. They went everywhere. While I was picking those up, the bag full of kitty lights fell out and scattered a bit.

Then I got the BBQ and hauled it over to the picnic table. The propane tank was waaay on the other side of the motorhome. Gathering my strength for that trip took a bit, but I got it together, got the tank, and hurked it to the picnic table. You may scoff, if you wish, but that tank weighs at least half as much as I did when I was in the fifth grade.

Not much happened until all the food was cooked and I made a concerted effort to get the steaks, which looked marvelous, into the coach. Everything went well until I couldn’t, for some obscure reason, get my right foot to the top of the last step. There was a lot of wobbling going on, Diane held her breath, but nothing worked and both steaks landed on the rug; the one we wipe our feet on when we come indoors. Nice, huh? That was resolved by passing them under the water faucet for a rinse. Then we ate.

I ate all of mine and the other half of Diane’s. Definitely a pound of meat. Then I ate a piece of cake. When that wore off, I ate a banana.

Sadly, neither Diane nor I captured any of this to share with you. We still have those other two steaks to cook while we’re traveling so I’ll try to remember to get photos then.

Now we’re winding down, watching Dancing With The Stars and wishing Tom was still the host. Tyra just isn’t any fun at all.

Still, we watch.

Condiments, Hot Weather, and Tillamook

So, Diane went to Taco Bell yesterday and got me a couple tacos and a burrito. Knowing I like the hot sauce she asked for some and got this:

Ya gotta wonder how doing this affects overhead for this establishment. Just a little bit of waste.

Well, not really a waste, I guess, because I gave them to Baylee who loves hot sauce on pretty much everything. Yesterday she made a sandwich of two pieces of toast that she doused liberally with Cholula Hot Sauce. Nothing else … just two pieces of toast covered in Cholula smashed together. Makes my mouth hurt thinking about it. Sadly, I failed to capture video evidence of this one, but I have no doubt she will do it again in the near future.

The weather has turned nasty up here in Oregon. Temperatures have been around 100 for the past few days. The good side of that is Diane won’t let me work outside when it’s that hot because she apparently doesn’t want me to die of heat stroke. For that, I’m happy. It’s also a reason for me to just lounge around in my jammies all day.

Last Friday, the 14th, we returned from a week long visit to the Tillamook Elks Lodge RV Park. In all, there were five RVs in our group so we were able to practice our social distancing each evening as we gathered for an illegal pot luck. We’re pretty comfortable with each other and have no fear of COVID-19 because we are very careful when out and about among people we do not know. We know they are safe courteous folks because they all drive Winnebagos. We used to, but they let us hang out with them anyway.

Cliff and Susie brought their cat, Dusty, who is pretty quick about escaping out the door when it’s open. Normally, when he’s allowed outside, he’s on a harness, but sometimes he just waits for the door to open and launches and runs under the motorhome. That causes Cliff to get active and chase him down. In this sequence, Cliff had to crawl under and extract him from the right front shock absorber:

This activity keeps Cliff in shape.

Note the sign next to Cliff.

Susan, Sophie, Susie, Carolann, Diane
Lunch at the Blue Heron. Looks nice, food was good, but the wind was blowing about 80 mph.
Fun with bubbles a few RVs down the road from us.

Since it was only five miles down Highway 101, we three remaining guys (the other two had already departed) went to Munson Falls State Park. It’s off the road a few miles and it’s a 1/4 mile hike from the parking lot, but a very easy walk. The falls are 300+ feet high. Since the weather has been very dry the falls were still pretty, but a little subdued. When the rains fall, they are amazing to see.

Cliff, Munson Falls, Terry
Munson Falls & Me – I believe I must shave. Again.

The last photo is from Cape Lookout State Park. This is where we were in March when the pandemic began.

Here we are, eating again. It’s something we do well together. Diane took the photo so the only evidence of her is the empty plate across the table from me.

Hope everyone is staying safe. We are, even with all the riots and such going on in Portland. We just don’t go there any more. Really sad.

Family Camp – 2020

Grace Baptist Church Family Camp is an event we attend every year as honorary Baptists. That’s mainly because we are related to some of the members and also because they just like us. The “also” is an opinion but I’m sticking with it.

We departed civilization on Tuesday, July 28th and completed the the trip, that normally takes about an hour, in about an hour. It’s really not that far away … just over the hill about 5 miles from Vernonia. Vernonia is only about 25 miles from home and Google maps thinks it’s only a 38 minute drive. What Google Maps doesn’t know is that the road is only 2 lanes and it’s very curvy. Therefore, I’ll stand by my claim that it’s about an hour away, which it truly is, unless Diane’s driving.

I will surely be in trouble for revealing that last bit …

The camp doesn’t officially begin until Friday but we die hards (the old people) arrive early to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet before the children descend to make a joyful noise. We took three of them with us so we had a head start, and that’s just fine. They were good as gold the entire time.

Since Vernonia is only about 32 miles from Forest Grove, where the Sunset Grove Golf Course is, it was decided that I should meet Doug there Wednesday morning for golf. I figured, “What the heck, I’m in the area, so why not do that?” So, I did. Turns out that the golf course is closer to Scappoose, where Doug lives, than it is to Big Eddy. But, I made it on time and we had a wonderful time. We always do. I lost, of course, because I always do. You’d think that since I always keep score I’d win one once in a while. The trouble is, even with fudging the numbers a little, Doug still wins.

Back to camp …

Big Eddy Park is located along the Nehalem River just off Highway 47, the road from Vernonia to Clatskanie. Big Eddy Park and I go back a long ways to April 20, 1968, when my big brother, Jack, thought it would be a good idea for me to participate in the Nehalem River Boat Race. Seemed like a fun thing to do so I was all in. What wasn’t related until later was that as we passed under each bridge along the way he would drop half a case of beer to us. After a couple of bridges I figured out that it wasn’t really a race at all. It was just a reason to float down the river and drink beer.

The fact that I was getting married later that day was the primary reason for involving me in the ‘race’. Jack, you see, was my best man and it was his job to make the day memorable. He did that.

When we finally made it ashore at Big Eddy I admit I was ready for a nap. I had no idea what time it was, but I remember getting to the church in plenty of time for the ceremony and I totally remember the entire ceremony. It was awesome!

Back to camp, again …

Diane and I spent time around the camp fire with Daniel, Jennifer, Lydia, and Jeran, and anyone else who had a notion to join us. Yes, we were socially compliant, keeping our distance, but I’m pretty sure we could have sat a little closer because the fire surely burned up any virus bits that came into our area.

The kids, Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie, ran wild all day, every day, until they got hungry. Then we fed them so they could go out for another round.

The bottom of the river throughout Big Eddy Park is covered with river rock. Those are the nicely rounded rocks that don’t kill your feet when you step on them barefoot unless you’re old like me. Then you wear shoes. Kids spend a lot of time looking for the pretty rocks when they aren’t actively floating around on an inner-tube. Here’s the best rock of the day that a little girl found:

Pure agate. Biggest one I’ve ever seen in the wile.

Here are my girls in a rare moment of inactivity …

Lydia, Gilligan, Baylee, Jerrie

Bronson even came along for a couple of days but had to leave because it was all a bit stressful for him.

Bronson

Diane made camping more homey with her kitty slippers …

Jennifer and Daniel cooked gourmet meals twice a day throughout the entire stay because they are on the Whole 30 diet …

I tried some of it and it was really good.

Jennifer braided hair for anyone who had hair long enough and wanted it done. Mine wasn’t quite there, yet, so i missed out. Little Jerrie didn’t, though …

Gilligan, Jeran, Daniel, and Lydia spent a lot of time running their long boards around the park. Lydia is the only one I could capture. The others were just too fast for me …

We came home last Sunday afternoon, when church service was over, then returned the children to their rightful owners, and took. naps.

Camping is hard work.

My Dentist’s Assistant

Lisa. That’s her name. Diane and I have known her for the last 31 years which is pretty amazing because I’m pretty sure she isn’t that old. It could be that I’m just a bad guesser, or that she’s really that old and just doesn’t look the part. Either way, she’s in a position where she can look up my nose at will when I visit my dentist because she’s got the left seat in all events with regard to my mouth’s continued good health.

Concerning looking up the nose … I’ve asked dental assistants and hygienists in the past if they look up people’s noses while they work and without fail they all say, “No!” With an exclamation point! I’m guessing that perhaps they may not have done it in the past, but by asking the question I instilled in them an urge to look. I’ve considered sticking colorful items in my nose to make it worthwhile for them to peek but Diane didn’t think that would be a good idea. So I’ve not done that. Yet.

This morning at 0745 I was parked outside the office and called the office to let them know I was parked outside. That’s the rule. There is no sitting in a waiting room until being called in for the appointment. Nope. Once checked in, we just sit in our vehicles until someone comes out to get us. Then we put on our masks as we’re escorted to The Chair. My mask is made of Sponge Bob material so it’s quite festive. Jennie made it for me.

It was Lisa who came to get me which pleased me because she’s pretty much family. I like that and I trust her implicitly.

The last time I was at the dentist, just a few weeks ago, it was Cheryl who came to get me because I was there to have my teeth cleaned and she’s my hygienist. It was during this cleaning that faulty teeth were found which necessitated today’s visit. It was either faulty teeth, or the Dr. had a car payment pending and needed a little help. Either way, it was necessary.

Lisa got me all prepped in The Chair, took an x-ray, then let the Dr. know I was ready when he was. While waiting for him Lisa held a little raffle out front to see who would give me the shot to deaden half my face. Tracey, the newest Hygienist in the office lost. Perhaps this task fell to her by default because she’s the new kid on the block and there wasn’t a raffle. In all honesty, Lisa asked if I wanted the Doc to give me the shot or if I was OK with someone picked at random. I told her I was OK with the random pick as long as she was pretty. I was pretty confident that it was OK for me to make that request because all the ladies in the office are pretty and they are all qualified. Really, they are. Ask Diane.

I was left alone for a while before Lisa return and went to work installing a ‘rubber dam’ in my mouth. Actually, that’s a small tarp that’s put in place for preparing a tooth for a crown. It’s there to catch all the debris created by the doctor as he grinds the offending tooth down to a little nub. The tarp also ensure the smoke from grinding down the tooth is funneled right up your nose to ensure you get the full effect of what’s happening. There’s nothing quite like the smell of burning ivory.

Once the grinding is done, and the smoke has cleared, the doctor uses a digitizing tool to capture an image of area, where the tooth used to be, which is input into a pretty nifty software tool that helps him create the crown. Once done he sends the results to their blacksmith shop, just around the corner in the next room, where a cutting machine gets to work manufacturing the new tooth that will be glued in place.

I waited a long time for Lisa to return, knowing it wasn’t a speedy process, but when she did it was bad news. She said they had to re-mill the tooth because the first one had a chip in it.

I waited another long time, taking a little nap, then Lisa returned with good news that the second time worked. She handed the new tooth to the doctor who did some preliminary grinding. When he put it in place it was pretty tight but he fixed that by removing it and doing some more grinding. Once he was satisfied he handed the new tooth to Lisa and left. List took the new tooth and put it in the oven, the final step for the tooth before adding glue. It has to be baked in a kiln to make sure it’s hard like a rock and it takes a while to cool down.

Long story short, the crown was glued in place, Lisa cleaned me up, and escorted me to the front desk where I was compelled to fork over my most recent Social Security check for services rendered. I had to do that because I don’t have dental insurance.

Then I went home. In all, I was strapped to The Chair for 3 hours wishing I had my iPad, but it was in the car with a nearly dead battery.

Once home I cooked all the necessary items I wanted for a breakfast burrito. I ate all of it then went outside and painted the front porch.

In a couple of hours I’ll go out and give it another coat and call it a day.