Saturday, June 30, 2012

Crater Lake

Today the weather was going to turn a bit sour....rain was predicted as the day got later and later.  We left for Crater Lake around 10:30.  It is only 35 miles to the south visitor's center where you get a good look at the lake.  But at first we did not turn to the center and went down to the first view of the lake.  WOW!

And, of course, someone wanted to get in on the action....That's our Skruffy!
So then we went over to the "Visitor's Center" area.  It was full of cars and people, thank goodness for the ADA parking.

WELL, it is Saturday, so a crowd would be expected.  They come for the view, that is for sure!

Crater Lake is so very pretty...and the water is really blue.  Sometimes around the edge of land it is an emerald green.  As you watch it for awhile, you will see various colors of blue appear as the reflection of the sky and the sun hits the water.  It is very amazing.  The two pictures below capture the blues and some of the greens along the shore line.


Crater Lake was once one large volcano called Mount Mazama, which erupted, then collapsed.  There are no rivers flowing into the lake, nor out of the lake.  Evaporation is compensated for by rain and snowfall.  There probably was no fish when it was first discovered by the "white man" in the mid-1850's, but Salmon and Trout were introduced.  They thrive....but their off-spring does not because they normally need shallow water to spawn in.

Now, I am sure that many of you had a "better lunch" than we did today.....

....but I am fairly certain that you did not have the view that we had today.  :)

One thing about Crater Lake, there are many trees to frame your pictures in.

We drove around the lake as far as they would let us.  There is a west and a east rim road.  The west road is open, the east road is about 1/2 open.  They are still clearing snow from areas of the east rim road that is closed.  Yes, it is the last day of June, and there is snow...lots of it.

You can see by the car how large the snow bank appears to be.  We are pretty sure there is also a hill of dirt that the snow is hiding.
But at this pull-out, the snow pile by the snow machines is very high...even Skruffy was amazed.
 It is strange to see such a large, open field of snow on the last day of June.

The views away from the lake were good too....we will be back later in the week when the weather has cleared up, so you will have to suffer through a few more pictures from Crater Lake.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Crater Lake RV Park

Our stay in Medford was brief, but we got a lot done in less than 24 hours.  First, the fuel leak was taken care of.  Second, we both got a good night's sleep.  Third, we filled up with fuel.  Four, we shopped for food and supplies for a week.  Five, I decided on a new way to have "lights" on the HHR when we travel.

By 1:30, we were ready to head up to Crater Lake RV Park, in Prospect, OR.  The drive was easy, and the scenery was great.  Lots of trees, but not the giants like we have been seeing the past week.  Marcia was a bit tired from all that shopping (yep, she shopped until she dropped), so as we headed out, my co-pilot was non-other than.....SKRUFFY DOG.

Although I am not finished with the wiring, I did do a test run on the way up here, and will finish with more permanent wiring over the next few days.  What we got was lights to put on the top of the HHR.  They stay there by magnets, which worried me at first, until I talked to this guy in the KOA who was from Elk Grove, CA, just south of Sacramento.  He use to work at the large Campbell's Soup plant just a mile or so from the restaurant I first started working at back in High School.  He quit Campbell's 35+ years ago to become a minister.  Anyway, he pulls a GEO Tracker which has a canvas roof, and puts his magnet lights on the side of his Tracker, and has never had a problem with it.  So I decided to go that route and got the Blazer Magnetic Towing Lamp Kit from Walmart.  It did not take long to hook them up as a trial, and they work great.  What I like is that I can see the "orange side" of the lights in the back-up camera, so I know they are working. Below you can see them in the camer's TV working while I was breaking, and had the left blinker flashing.
Now be honest...you didn't think you see the left blinker actually blinking now did you?   lol  Below is what they look like from behind.  Of course, they are easy to put up and take down, and once I have the wiring complete, it will just be a matter of putting them up, plugging them in, and doing the normal hooking of the HHR to the Motorhome.
We look forward to visiting the area, and this RV Park is really a nice RV park.  The longer you stay, the less expensive per night it is.  There is no cell phone service, except up at the office where the owner has a high antenna and a boaster to provide a small cellular area. We had 3 bars just 2 miles away, and I think we will have it again 2 miles closer to Prospect, but right here is a dead area.  We do have good Internet, and more TV channels than one could ever need since they provide, for $3.50 per day, full Direct TV signal, including the box.  Finally, the pads are the longest I have seen...about 70' long.  The space between the sites is not large, but everyone of them is full of trees, rocks, tree stumps, so it does help to give that buffer than everyone enjoys.  And, of course, there are many dogs in the park, so Skruffy and Bubba have something to look at.
 We are planning to stay here through the 4th of July week, leaving on Sunday the 8th to head up north.  I sure hope we can stand the beauty of this area...


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fuel Leak, and a big Opps!

It was time to head for Salmon Harbor RV Resort in the upper North-Western portion of California for two days.  I should have known that we were going have troubles when both dogs laid claim to the "cave".
Well, not really...I just got them both in there and took the shot.  They BOTH ran out as soon as I said, "Ok, you can .....OUT THEY RUN.....come out now."

But as we pulled out to hook up the HHR, we both noticed a small amount of fresh fluid laying on the pavement under where the engine was.  Marcia thought it was oil, but when I put my finger in it and pulled it up, I knew it was not oil. Smelled it, and it was diesel fuel.  Not much, but enough to worry me, especially when I looked under the motor home, now idling close by, and saw this small, occasional drip, drip.

It through me out of my norm, and when I hooked up the HHR, I forgot to put it in neutral...pulling the back tires about 15 feet.  OPPS!  That could have been bad.  Thanks to the guy who ran over to tell me...or I would have pulled out onto the highway, and seen smoke coming from our new tires very quickly.

As we got on the road, we had a wonderful view of the ocean.  Our last look at the Pacific from California...but we anticipate many nice views later on along the Oregon Coast.

So we got to Crescent City where we finally got some cell phone service, and got on the air card sitting in a Safeway parking lot and decided to go on to Medford Oregon area to get the motor home looked at.  I had a feeling by where it was leaking that it was a fuel filter.  

We missed out on a nice RV park, another one right along the water, this one with a ocean view.  We missed out on exploring the last Redwood Park in Northwest Cal, but we did drive through it.  However, driving along route 199 is a chore in a large motor home, so no pictures of the wonderful river, the large trees, the narrow road.  But it got easier as we got closer to Oregon, and that is where I took these shots.

Here we pulled off the road for a short reprieve from the 20-30 mile per hour curves, that I faced for much of the trip so far.  I had read about this leg of the trip, and knew from other drivers that you just need to put it in a low gear, keep you mind on your driving, and take it slow and easy, using turnouts frequently to allow other cars to pass.
Oh how I wish I could have shared some of the earlier views....some of the prettiest river, canyon, trees mixture of the trip so far.  Perhaps we will just have to go along here again some year...but I doubt we will take our motor home along this path, but it would have been a breeze for the HHR.

Many times we saw this type of tree, with a light brown smooth trunk.  I told Marcia that it looked like a large Manzanita Bush, perhaps it was a Manzanita Tree.  Research later in the day told her that it was a Manzanita Tree.  What a unique looking tree.  Some people use the trees, stripped of leaves, as decorations for large parties, backyard events, etc.

We got to the Medford area just after 3 pm.  I stopped at a Pilot/Flying J and asked the guy working the desk where they send truckers who need to have filters changed and minor work performed.  He suggested a place called Pacific Power Products, which just a mile or two down the road.

I went back to the motor home and called, and they said that they could get us in with a short wait.  I told him we would be there within 30 minutes, and we got there in 20 minutes.  Within 30 minutes of them getting our information, they had me back in to open bay #2.  Well, I could not believe it myself, but I backed it right in on the first try.  Very quickly they found a loose fuel filter.

There are two filters, and SpeedCo had only replace one of them back in late March up in Little Rock, because they did not have the other one in stock, and it does not need to be replaced as often.  I don't know if they had loosen it to check on it or if it just came lose on its own after driving on the bumpy California roads.

Anyway, they had the filter in stock, they put it in, and within 20 minutes, we were paying on ready to hit the road again.   It was now 5:15.  At 4:45, when they told me that they were fairly sure it was just a loose filter and that it would be quick and cheep, I called the local KOA to see if they had any space.  I called him back at 5:40 and told him we indeed would be there around 6.

So here we sit, in a KOA instead of a nice, Pacific Ocean View RV Park, but we are "healed" again, and I hope tomorrow that they will let us in a day early at the RV park we are staying at while visiting Crater Lake.
This KOA in Central Point, OR is ok...good cable, good Internet, price is fair....but the view just does not make it compared to what we had last night!

Redwood National Park & Klamath River

Wednesday we left the Avenue of the Giants and headed over to highway 101, and then up to the town of Klamath.  We stayed at an average RV Park with a great view.  It was the Golden Bear RV Resort, which like many RV parks, call themselves a "Resort" when all they really are is a RV park.  It is a Passport of America site, which gives you $15 off the normal $30 price, but we paid $25 since we paid cash, another option advertised in their office.  However, there was no Internet, no Cable TV even though they have cable running through the park, and no cell phone reception for me (AT&T) and weak signal for Marcia (Verizon).  The park was 1/4 filled, we got this great river view.

Here is view of our motor home....parked right next to their flag, and honored to do so.
We did get right out and go visiting the Redwood National Park/Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.  This is a joint effort by the broke state of California and the going broke country of the USA.  There was no admission fee, lots of people there, and wonderful staff, and wonderful CHP officer who helped us with our directions as we were parked looking at a map.

First thing we did was to check out the Elk.  On the way to Klamath with the motor home, we saw some Elk in an area called Elk Meadows.  We wanted to see them again to get a picture, and with our luck, yes, they were still there.


What a pretty sight!  We both wondered if these were "pet" Elk since they were right on the property of a place called Elk Meadows Cabins.  But nope, they are wild Elk which seem to like this area.  We then entered into the State/National Park, and saw some more near the visitor's center.

These were a bit further away from us...but still big, wonderful creatures.

We then drove through the large grove of Coastal Redwoods in the park.  These are a little different looking than the ones we saw along the Avenue of Giants, particularly in the underbrush, and the wonderful smell of the forest.

 The pictures above and below show the many ferns that are along the ground.  They were everywhere, and they were very thick, and nearly hide all the rest of the undergrowth that was there.
It was a pretty drive, and after we got directions from the CHP officer, we turned around and went back through it the other way.
So WHY was the CHP assistance needed?  Well, it was not, but he thought there was a better place for me to stop and read the map than where I did.  And he was very nice about it, and did help with the map and made me realize that I had not gone far enough to the south to catch the road in the park that I was looking for.  Since our route back took us back to the visitor's center, we stopped and I got a park map.  Now this is the first National Park that I know of that had no entrance gate.  The officer told me that just recently the State (aka: Poor State) had made a deal with the National Parks (aka: Headed towards being a Poor Nation) and "things were still being worked out".  Well, if both the state and feds are needing money, why don't they have entrance gates and charge the normal National Park price? 

 I wanted to find the eastern portion of the park where I had heard there were even larger herds of Elk.  We did find this real neat overlook of the area, but alas, no more Elk.
 But the views were outstanding, even though a haze was starting to roll in from the ocean.

The view above and below are the same picture, with the lower one being just a portion of the upper one showing where the Horizon was, and where the Ocean was.   You can see the fog just starting to head ashore.  The Coastal Redwoods thrive on the fog, it is a major source of the water they take in.  Ferns rely on it too, which why the two grow well along the coast of Northern California.
We also came across this purple flowered plant.  There were many of them along our route in this eastern portion of the park.

 On our way home, you can see the fog starting to creep in over the hills.
I needed gas, and Marcia saw a "chicken sign", and suggested I get some chicken so that we did not have to cook.  "Chicken?", I said.  And then there was the familiar, yet a bit different looking chicken sign that I was well too familiar with in Pine Bluff....
Well, almost the same.  It is Chester's Fried Chicken in Arkansas, and it is Chester's Chicken To Go here in Klamath, California.  But it was just as good...especially since Marcia whipped up a quick variation of her Greek Potatoes...more like a Greek Mashed Potato mixture which was also so very good.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Avenue of the Giants

This morning we watched as many of the park visitors hooked up their RV's and left.  Hmmm, this park is getting more and more spacious every hour.

Today our plan was to travel the 30+ miles of the Avenue of the Giants, which is really the old Highway 101, and follows the South Fork of the Eel River.  The Eel River is about 200 miles in length, with the South Fork comprising half of that total.  In both 1955 and 1964, the river flooded.  Figures for 1955 are just guesses, but in 1964, the South Fork of the River was putting out 200,000 cubic feet per second instead of its normal of 2,000 cu ft per sec.

We got onto the highway 101 and started south, back-tracking some of our path of yesterday.  Our goal was to go at least to Garberville, but decided after we took off to go to Leggett, which is in Mendocino County.  There are so many groves of Redwood Trees in this area...they are huge, magnificent trees, growing taller than the Sequoias, but the girth of the trunks is not as large as the Sequoia.  Anyway, we took 96 pictures today...picking out the better ones is not easy.  And after awhile, if you seen one redwood, you seen them all syndrome starts setting in.

Our first stop, before we decided to head all the way to Leggett, was at Redway, which boarders with a portion of Humboldt Redwoods State Park...well, a portion of the park. You see, the park has one large main section, and most the Avenue of the Giants are within the park.  But there are a few areas north and south of this main area which stand alone from the main area.  Anyway, we found a nice grove to have our first visit with the Coastal Redwoods.
This grove was so peaceful, shared by us and two or three other cars.
We did not walk through the grove, just sat there and enjoyed it...well, once Marcia got off the phone from talking to her brother Mike.  While I took pictures, Skruffy rolled down the back windows...which "had" nice sun blocking screens attached to them.  They were rolled down into the door/window well, and it took some doing before I got them out.  Yes, the back windows have locks, and they were locked...but my arm just brushed against the lock and they become unlocked....and skruffy loves to roll them down as she tries looking out the window.
 These forest lands are pretty much untouched. 
 They are just so wonderful to enjoy.
And yes, these trees are very, very tall.
As we started toward Garberville, we happened upon this mule dear along side the road.  We went past, stopped, I snapped the shot, and it did not even phase it.

By the time we got to Garberville, I decided to go ahead and head to Leggett, which we had gone through on our way to the RV park yesterday.  I just had to share some of the "tourist traps" that have sprung up along the highway.
First we came across "The Legend of Bigfoot".  Of course, there was a huge Bigfoot hoax in the area in the late 1950's, which did not come to light as a true hoax for many decades until the descendants of the two men, one a newspaper man with the Humboldt Times, came out and said that the two men were in on the hoax. 
The one-log house, built, or should I say "carved out" in the late 1940's, has traveled the county and has been on display for nearly 60 years, and for a dozen years or so, has been right there outside of Leggett near Richardson's Grove, along with all the trappings of food, drinks, gifts, etc., as shown below.

Then there is the "Grandfather Tree" sitting right next to the One-log house.  The tree is said to be 1800 years old, 265' high, with a diameter of 24'.  As you can see below, it is a magnificent tree standing there.
For us, the only tourist trap we decided to do with with the "drive through tree".  Below is a picture of the car which drove through right before us.
When we drove through, my intention was to get out and snap a picture...but once we were in, it was so tight there is no way I could get the door open.  At times I thought one or both side mirrors were going to hit the inner walls of the tree...but we got through it ok.  Below is a picture from the other side with people walking through it.  In total, it cost us $5, and it was worth the $5, but there were two other trees within our driving areas that we did not take them up on their offer.  Each one will cost you $5.  Once is enough.
On our way north again to catch the Avenue of Giants, we came across another grove of trees.  There are so many of them along Highway 101 and along the Avenue of Giants.  This one we had to ourselves, so I got the GoGo Scooter out and we enjoyed it.
 We started our tour with Skruffy claiming the first tree as her new home...
 Bubba, not to be out done, claimed the second and larger one for himself.
 Marcia had to inspect Bubba's new dwellings....and told him that she did not think it would do, he could not keep the squirrels from coming in one entrance while he guarded the other.
Then they found this wonderful field of three leaf clovers. We told them that if they found a four leaf clover, that it would mean an extra Pup-Peroni treat...but to no avail.
 We then went off to explore the peaceful grove...and peaceful it was.  Now, if we could just hide our motor home in there, perhaps we would stay a bit longer.
On the we back to where we could pick up the Avenue of the Giants, we decided to visit Richardson Grove State Park, which is part of the Humbolt Redwoods State Park system, for a visit to their visitor's center, and a pit stop. 
 And just to show that there are more than Redwoods, this pretty tree below is not a Redwood, and it is a nice looking tree.
There is also river access here, and they charge for day use if you stay more than an hour.  The visitor's center and the bathrooms can definitely be done in less than an hour....but if volunteer Bob is working, it might go longer because Bob is a talker, and a real nice, friendly guy.

Then we finally made it to the southern most portion of the Avenue of the Giants.  The first thing we came across was more tourist trap type stuff, with what they call The Living Chimney Tree.
Well, now we thought all we were going to see all day is tourist trap after tourist trap....but to be honest, this was the last tourist trap until we got to the RV park at the other end of the Avenue.

So why is it called the Avenue of the Giants?  Well, they say a picture tells a thousand words....


 As you can see....the road goes right through the Redwood Forests.  The larger highway 101 is always nearby, normally to the west, but the Avenue of the Giants is more leisurely, definitely prettier, and there are many flocks of birds flying by from the local residents who don't appreciate the many slower moving tourist cars and RV's. I think today we hit a new record...one car had five simultaneous birds hanging out the windows as the horn, and the car, blew right by us.
 Along the Avenue there are many, many different groves.
This one above is dedicated to Col. Raynal C. Bolling, who was the first American Officer of high rank to fall in the World War I.  What caught my eye was where he was born....in Hot Springs Arkansas in 1877.  Wow, I drive 2000+ miles from Arkansas to run into a monument to a guy who was born in Hot Springs, only an hours drive from where I worked for the past 21 years.
Anyway, there are many pictures of the trees, from many different angles.  What you need to do is to make the drive and see them for yourself...because they are way too big to capture in a camera.
And to capture the feeling of the sun sneaking through these giant monsters seeking you out as you are comforted in the glory of that which abounds around you.  And the smell....oh what a unexplainable wonderful smell of the trees, the forest land, nature in general.

Finally we made it back to the RV park, then forgot that we still needed to call the RV park near Crater Lake to finalize our reservation for over the 4th of July...so we headed down the road a bit more until we picked up a Verizon cell, made the call, and headed back.  It just so happened that at our RV park is the one final tourist attraction spot.  The "Tree Car" and the "Immortal Tree".  So here we ended the day...right where we started it.
 Above is the tree car, below the sign for the Immortal Tree. Essentially they imply that it has survived so much hardship...that it is immortal.  What they don't tell you is that other trees in the area also went through the floods, have been hit by lightening, fires, the loggers axes, etc. etc.

 Below you can see how big it is compared to this guy who was giving the term "Tree Hugger" a whole new meaning.  The fish on the tree is where the flood for 1954 got to.  The river is not too far away, and it is hard to imagine the water getting that high when you see how low the water is running in the river today, and how far below the road level the river normally runs.
 But it is an impressive tree.
 And, of course, Skruffy had to get into one last shot before going home.
Tomorrow we head further north.  Not sure where we will stay, but our goal is to get near Crater Lake by Saturday where we will stay for a week.

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