Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Desert Rescue

Odometer 43585
 Trip Meter 0

December 22, 2014

Ajo, AZ

Mark and I took his "new" Suzuki Samurai out Pipeline road to the east of town to do some sightseeing, and get in a short hike.  The road name comes from the fact that there is indeed a pipeline running alongside- mostly buried, sometimes not.  It is a natural gas pipeline that used to serve the town and the New Cornellia Mine.  Now serves just the town.

The desert around here is amazingly beautiful and I was thoroughly enjoying the scenery.  
About 10 to 12 miles from town, we reached Burro Gap where the road goes from the Valley of the Ajo, through a narrow slot between the Batamote and the Pozo Redondo mountains.

Just as we entered the gap, we came to an area where the Border Patrol has installed a beacon and a radio summons for help.  I wrote about these beacons last year when we photographed the one at Charley Bell Pass, and Alamo Canyon.  Any traveler can summons assistance at these locations- and there are a lot of them dotting the desert between Yuma and Tucson.  The Samaritans usually put a cache of drinking water near these installations too.

A few hundred feet further up the road from the beacon, the road dipped into a dry arroyo, or stream bed, and we noticed a Polaris Ranger that looked like it was parked a couple hundred feet down the wash.  As we proceeded further up Pipeline road we came abreast of a man and his son walking east, the way we were headed.   After a brief chat, we learned that they were the owners of the Ranger, which had a punctured oil pan, and were walking the 3 miles back to camp.

We decided that I would get out and Mark would give them a lift to their camp, where they had their pickup truck and a trailer for the Polaris.

I used the time to explore the area around Burro Gap.  One of the finds, was this old beekeeepers shed filled with old hives.  We reported a find like this last year south of Ajo near an area called Saint John the Baptist- it looked very similar to this.

A little to the east of the beekeepers shed was a corral and the remains of a windpump.
The corral didn't look to be in that bad a shape, but it was obvious it hasn't been used in many years.

While I was hiking around and taking photos, I got a call from Mark telling me he had delivered the hikers to their camp, and now had a new problem.  Mark had shifted the transfer case on the Samurai and it got stuck in the neutral position.  Nothing he could do would make it shift.  Could I please call Joan and have her bring out the Honda CRV to tow him home.

Joan made good time getting out to me at Burro gap and we both drove east to where Mark was at Coffeepot Mountain.  By the time we got there, Mark's Sami was loaded on the Ranger owner's trailer and was being trailered in.  The rescuer had become the rescued!

It was alnost 5 PM by the time we got back to town.  Mark and the Sami trailered in, and Joan and I in our car.  Mark off-loaded the Sami at his RV space and then went back out to Burro gap in the darkness to  load the Ranger.  Joan and I had towed the Ranger up the wash to the road and onto a small rise beside the road where it could be easily rolled onto the trailer.

Your Traveling Friends

Joan and Jeff

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Crash Site Crazy

Odometer  43585
Trip Meter 0

Wednesday December 17th 2014
Ajo, AZ

I mentioned in my last blog post that my friend Mark purchased a Suzuki Samurai at the end of last summer

Mark had it worked on in Yuma by a specialist, who modified the suspension, put on new wheels and tires, and basically tuned it up.  I'm here to say it's an AWESOME little desert crawler.  The suspension mods make it very smooth riding- something that is very appreciated by anyone who has seen what passes for a desert "road"
Mark got a tip from a fellow in his RV park about an aircraft crash site that we hadn't seen yet, so we went out to check it out.  What was left of the aircraft was, as you can imagine, spread out over a large area.
Mark did a cursory check of some of the larger parts to see if we could get an approximate age or a aricraft ID.  We saw several bits of turbine blade- so that pegs this site as a jet aircraft, but there was precious little to give us anything more to work on.  The military does not leave much when they clean up a crash site, and what is left has been partially buried or washed away over the ensuing years.  Mark has cultivated a contact at the Airforce Museum at Wright Patterson, and we set to the job of photographing items that may identify the age and type of aircraft that went down here.

Another part that has us intrigued, is this very large and very heavy shackle.  We are wondering if it may be part of the aircraft arresting system?  Or it could be a hunk of scrap thrown out by the maintenance shop.  This particular site is close to the airport and we have turned up kerosene lanterns, oil dispensers, bed springs- you name it.  No site is exactly pristine, as the desert was (and some would say still is) considered a great dumping ground.  Our mission here is not to claim anything.  We photograph, record serial and part numbers and leave the item in place.  If we can identify the craft involved, that information is forwarded on to others who archive that data in an large database.

One item of interest to me, was this radiosonde, or weather balloon tranismitter that was also found in the area of the aircraft debris field.  A meterologist told me that weather balloons are sent up all around the globe, all at the same time, and the data from them all is fed into a massive super-computer which figures out the weather for the next several days to weeks.  Worldwide there are more than 800 balloons released every day of the week .  The NOAA wants people to return these transmitters when found, however I pretty sure this one has been lying in the desert way too long now to be of any further value.  The balloon expands as the air pressure around it decreases.  The balloon is designed to burst when it reaches a certain altitude (by now the ballon is about 6 times the size it was on Earth) and the transmitter parachutes back to the Earth.  If the balloon doesn't reach at least 23,000 feet it is considered a failure- many go as high as 115,000 feet.  Only about 20% of the 70,000 radiosondes released every year are found and returned

Signs like the one shown here are common around this area.  Joan was reading an article in the local paper today that the Customs/Border Patrol initated a counter-scout operation this month.  Apparently the smuggling community has established a system of lookouts on the higher peaks and ridges around the desert, who guide the smugglers through and area with 2 way radios.  Agents arrested 24 scouts and confiscated 5,600 lbs of marijuana, solar panels and radios.

While walking along an arroyo searching for signs of another downed aircraft I spotted this unusual sight.  It's not al that rare to see fruit trees in town, but this was far from town, so it got my attention.  As I got closer I saw that it was not a citrus tree- not a tree at all.  It is a mesquite bush with a series of gourds growning in amongst the branches.  These gourds generally grow on the ground and can have as much as 4 to 8 feet of vine between each.  in this case the vines grew up and over the mesquite and the heavy gourds were dangling on a small vine that I swear is only 3/16" of an inch across.  These things look, feel and weigh just the same as a small watermelon.

Joan and I took a drive south to Darby Well and took a short hike in the surrounding area

I don't know why, but I always find myself wondering about the last occupants of a desert dwelling.  Did they grow old and die here, or did they move away when the kids took jobs in Phoenix.  I wonder why is there just one wall still standing?  Why did they cut this Chevy in half just behind the front seats?

Way too much curiosity and imagination...

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Quick Trip to Tucson

Odometer 43,458
Trip Meter 279 miles

December 13th 2014

We missed the best photo of the morning.  A herd of "wild" javelinas went through the park early this morning, but by the time Joan got the camera up to the window, most of the herd had passed behind the row of RVs in front of us.  One lone straggler waited long enough for us to get a photo.  There were easily 10-14 javelinas in all, including some babies that were just cute!  I say wild- and they are wild in most senses, they run from you and stay out of sight as much as possible, however they do wander through town quite often looking for anything edible.

 Today we are headed for Tucson.  We have an appointment at LaMesa RV to have our propane tank checked for warranty replacement.  Tucson is 130 miles east of Ajo, and this is only the first trip to see if we qualify under a recall notice issued on our model and year motorhome.  Joan has made us a reservation at Lazydays KOA which is only a block away from the LaMesa RV dealership.

We could drive north to interstate 8, and hop on the freeway, but we prefer to take Arizona route 86, a two lane road heading east from the "town" of  Why, AZ, 10 miles south of  Ajo.  86 is a nice paved rural highway that crosses the Tohono O'Odham Nation, and passes just below Kitt Peak and the observatories there.  We visited Kitt Peak in 2012, and if you missed that blog you can see it again by using the link here   Kitt Peak  (The link will open in a new window, so you can quickly return here just by closing that window)
On the west end of route 86 the road has virtually no shoulder.  As a matter of fact, AZDOT has let the vegetation grow out so far, that in passing situations like the one pictured above, the woody shrubs will actually scratch the side of the bus.

The eastern end of 86 between Sells and Tucson has been repaved and a nice wide shoulder has been added.  The road work is so new, that it has not even been fully completed yet, and in an ironic twist- the new road is being held to a speed limit of 45 mph where we had a limit of 65 mph on the narrowest part that has no shoulder.  Ahh, all the better to poke along and see the sights!  Luckily, there is almost no truck traffic on this route and the car traffic is very light, which makes it easy to set the cruise control,  and sit back and watch the scenery in full HD out that big front window.

We arrived at our destination, at 3 PM after a lesiurely trip , and quickly got registered and set-up in our space.  Joan and I needed to stretch our legs, so we walked the two or three blocks over to the LaMesa RV Center to check out where we would be heading in the morning. And even did a turn through the RV park for good measure.

This is a very large park with over 360 spaces.  It also includes two separate pool/ spa combinations, one which was conviently close to us.  Great way to relax after a grueling 3 hours on the road :->)

Each space has a mature fruit tree, and ours had a beautiful, well-loaded orange tree.  Most spaces also include a concrete patio and a comfortable table and chairs.  Hmm.. this is living!  The temperature was in the high 60s and low 70s during the day and would dip into the 40s overnight.

Monday December 15th

At 8:30 AM we un-hooked the bus and drove it over to La Mesa, where we left it at their service department, and headed over to Camping World, Costco and WalMart to do some shopping.  Just after noon we were called back to pick up our motorhome- the warranty/ recall had been approved and the new tank has been ordered.  We made an appointment for December 29th to get the new tank installed.

While hooking up the sewer hose today, I noticed that the Calder couples (those rubber couplings with steel band clamps) were showing signs of cracking and the idea of a failure at this end of a tank holding 40 gallons of sludge was a little un-nerving to me- especially since it is up-stream of any shut-off valve.

I made a quick trip over to Home Depot for some new couplings and some two-by material for a new set of steps back in Ajo.

Tuesday December 16th

A warm and sunny day, and a fun, and un-eventful trip back over highway 86 to Ajo.

When we arrived at Shadow Ridge RV in Ajo last week, we decided not to take our "traditional" space in the first row between the tall Oleander bushes, and where your "view" is of the trees and shrubs just outside the park.  Insted we selected a spot in the back row where we are afforded a vista of the surrounding mountains.

The RV park is situated on a slight incline from front to back, and the back rows have quite a territorial view.  The back row spaces are also inclined, meaning that to get  the coach level front-to-back, you have to jack the front end up a whole lot.  We cheated a bit by digging a 6" deep depression for the rear duals, but we still had a 14" step up to the first step on the motorhome.

The coach is equipped with some pretty beefy hydraulic leveling jacks, but they actually work too well in this situation.  We bought some 12" pavers that are 2 inches tall and put those on top of our normal jackpads, which are a double layer of 3/4" plywood that is glued and screwed together to make a 16" square that is 1-1/2" thick.  Bottom line is, that we could jack the front wheels off the ground and get the coach level.  However, hanging the front axle and wheels off the suspension components is not a good idea.  The suspension is built to do the opposite- to support the front of the chassis on the wheels, and hanging this kind of weight on the suspension will tear things up.  To remedy this, we bought four additional pavers to place under the tires (two on each side) which support the front axle.  Now all we had to do is over-jack the front end and place the supports under each tire and then lower the front end back to the level position.  Well, that solved the problem of getting the coach level- however it created a whole new problem of getting in and out of the front door.  Motorhomes with mid-entry and fifth wheel trailers with mid, or rear entry doors won't have this problem, or won't have it to this degree, as their door is further up-slope than ours.

We carry a folding aluminum platform step with us, and use it often to shorten up the first step to from the ground to the motorhome stairs  In this case, even with the aluminum step in place, the next step was still about 14 inches.
The remedy was to build a set of wood steps to bridge the gap, and even out the risers from ground to motorhome.
By judiciously shopping at Home Depot in Tucson, we were able to get all the wood we needed for about $40.  The wood was very reasonable at $22 but the deck screws were an additional $18 for 1 lb boxes of 3" and 2" deck screws!  I could have saved about $4 by buying regular phillips head cadmium plated drywall screws, but the deck screws have a bigger shank diameter and a cutting tip on them as well as a rust-proof coating.  We'll be able to use the stairs many times in future years.  I'm sure Amy will let us store them here each spring.

My friend Mark and I have been busy scouring the desert, looking for old military crash sites.  Mark purchased an 88 Suzuki Samurai last spring so he wouldn't have to take his nice Chevy pickup tow vehicle out and get it scratched and banged up.  That's a good place to start my next blog...

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Turn Towards Mexico

Odometer  43179
Trip Meter  290 miles

Saturday December 6th

Needles, CA  to Ajo, AZ

Our stay in the Needles area has been fun, the highlight of which was our reunion with Mary Lynn and Terry in Oatman.  David and Kathy, our friends from Port Orford have been awesome to allow us to use their RV hookups at their vacation home in the Mohave Valley of Arizona.  We will be back in mid-January when Bob and Beverly arrive in their motorhome after a long journey from their home in Ohio.

Joan and I worked at cutting  back and thinning the Salt Cedars that border the south side of the property, and we got a huge pile of limbs for our efforts.  In the end there was just too much biomass for the time we had to alot to the project.  We'll have to see if we can make another run at it when we return in January.

Dave's neighbors made us quite welcome, we have some new friends here.  Best of all we got some relaxation time and caught up on our reading, laundry, walks, bill paying, house cleaning, etc.

We are anxious to continue on to our favorite winter place in Ajo, AZ and the trip is a long one by our standards.  We have said many times in this blog that we enjoy traveling and we never want to get to the point where the driving gets tiresome.  290 miles means 6-1/2 to 7 hours of time on the road for us in a motorhome, we actually prefer to spend 4 hours or less on the road before we get to our destination and get set-up, awning out, and cold drinks in our hands.

Regular readers of this blog already know of our leaking propane tank.  We have an appointment at a large Winnebago service  center in Tucson in a weeks time.  Meanwhile we needed a work around for the interim, and we had the idea of using our Extend-A- Stay which would normally hook us up to a portable cylinder.  The only thing is we didn't have room for a good-sized clylinder in our propane bay with the hulking empty 30 gallon tank still in there.  So... we bought a small cylinder adapter and duct-taped a one pounder in the bay.  We only need this to operate our gas range and occasionally to run the referigerator while we are unplugged.  This rigging lets us keep the tank valve to the leaky tank shut off so no gas gets into the big tank.

And I'm happy to report that it stayed in place the whole trip- yeah duct tape!

The title of this blog comes from the signs we saw in Gila Bend as we were turning south onto AZ 85.  Joan and I were laughing that Ajo doesn't even get a mention- the sign says Mexico!  Makes this mural so appropriate.

Driving down here today we loved seeing the sun playing on the rugged mountains and the vast vistas from each high promitory.  When the Saguaro cacti started appearing like solitary sentinals on the ridgetops we felt a rush.  It's hard to express in words the rugged and stunning beauty of this desert.

Arriving at Shadow Ridge RV Resort  Ajo AZ

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Mohave Valley

Odometer 42,625
Trip meter 212 miles

Thursday November 27th- Thanksgiving Day

Okay, we had a plan for today, we really did.  It was a beautiful morning, sunny and warm.  We left Kit Fox RV in Patterson and headed down I-5 with a final destination of Bakersfield.  Joan says Bakersfield has a bad aura for us, but the park we were headed to - Orange Grove RV really is an Orange Grove, and it is a very nice park in all other respects also.  Our plan was to arrive in the early afternoon, have some cold libations and some salty snacks, then make up a vegan feast for Thanksgiving, and talk to the family on the phone.

I think the picture above kinda gives the impression that things did not go as planned.  That's the Kern County Fire Department responding to our call for help.
A little background is in order here- Okay, we've been having a few sporadic alarms from our propane dectector.  The detector is mounted into the cabinet below the referigerator and we would mute it and fan some air over the front of it and it would go quiet- sometimes for the rest of the day.  My gut told me to trust my instruments, but the alarm is 6 years past its expiration date, and the interval between alarms might be an hour or a day or more- so I had the purchase of a new alarm on my list, next stop at an RV supply.  While at Kit Fox during our set-up I kept smelling propane, so I got some soapy water and tested all the connections on the tank and the piping- nothing, not a single bubble. The alarm would not be quieted, so I committed the cardinal sin- I disconnected it from the wall and unplugged it!   I decided that I'd better shut off the tank at the main valve and did so before we turned in for the night.  We also opened our bedroom window and ran the fantastic fan all night.
Today when I got out to stow the utilities, I could still get a whiff of gas every now and then.
We decided to get to Bakersfield and re-assess the situation, there would be parts stores and service centers if we found any problems.
Well- after setting up in our assigned spot at Orange Grove we started smelling propane odorant again.  Jeff got out the soapy water and a sponge again and this time he soaped the whole tank.

The front of the tank looks almost brand new, very little rust and everything looks tidy

It wasn't until I was on my back under the tank and working over the back side with the soapy sponge that I finally found the spot on a weld on the hanger bracket.

With 21 gallons of propane in the tank and no way to shut off the leak- Joan and I looked at each other, and said now what ??  There was no one in the park office, so we started calling the major propane distributors in the area (yeah- on Thanksgiving day at 3 in the afternoon)  The emergency number netted us one call back from a distributor who told us there was nothing they could do- they do not have equipment that will remove propane from a motorhome tank.  He told us to call the fire department- so we did.

Poor Dino and Barbara in the space next to us!  The crew from the fire department set up a gasoline powered fan to blow the fumes away and opened up the spitter valve on the tank to vent out the contents.  After a few minutes I suggested that maybe they could use my BBQ extension hose to vent more quickly.  They hooked up the extension and cut the fitting off the other end.  This got the vent going a little faster, but the smell was still venting right by the coach, so mister meddler- I suggested they run that small extender hose into my spare water hose- seal it with some black tape to run the vent further from sources of ignition, which they did.   After 2 hours, darkness was descending on us and we still had 1/2 the tank to go- I was desperate for a better solution.  I suggested that we remove the regulator and tape the water hose directly to the outlet valve.  The firemen did that, and I explained to them that there was an equalization valve in the outlet fitting that if they opened it up too fast, or too much it would shut down the flow to a trickle.  After messing with the valve for a few minutes we got to the fastest flow without the safety cutting in and closing it off.

By now (6 PM) Joan and I were hungry- no lunch and now no dinner.   We had killed all the power to, and within, the motorhome, and were sitting in the car.  The fire department left one firefighter to sit with the leaky tank and the others returned to the station.  Finally Joan drove off to find us something to eat- only to find that McDonalds was the only place near us still open.  She brought back two salads and an order of fries, which we gobbled down.  By 10 PM the Fire Chief finally declared the tank to be safe, and we could hookup and re-enter the coach.  The Chief wanted me to hook up the propane alarm before he left- something I wanted as well- but now I had another problem- I couldn't get the bus to power back up.  We plugged into the pedestal, but only the 110v outlets for the major appliances would power up- no lights, none of the other outlets- and not the propane alarm.  I ran though every scenario I could think of to get the power to restore- checked the pedestal with my meter- took the battery cable off to "reset" the inverter, double checked all the breakers, even resorted to reading the manuals on the inverter and other coach power systems.  The fire Chief finally left, and I guess it's a good thing that he did.  I eventually retraced my steps earlier in the day and found that in my search for a remote battery disconnect switch, I had actually tripped it by flipping a switch on the dashboard labeled "Aux Bat Off"  Who knew?  Aux Bat?? gonna re-label that one.  Well when I flipped the switch back to "ON" the propane alarm started sounding as the lights and power came back on.  
We instituted the same precautions as the night before- open window and roof fan on so we could crawl into bed and get some sleep.

Friday Nov 28th
Odometer 42658

We are still  able to use all the electrical appliances, so we had the heat pump for heat, we had hot coffee, and toast- the refrig was cold after running all night on electric, AND we didn't even lose our Almond Dream (vegan ice cream), the freezer items were all frozen- Yea!  
Around 9 AM, we were getting rigged for another day of travel when I noticed a good friend walking up to our space- Mark Langford our friend from both Port Orford and from Ajo was heading back to Coos Bay for a doctor's appointment and decided to stop in and see us!  We had talked on the phone the evening before, but he was in Desert Hot Springs- he got an early start and as he was passing by on hwy 58- decided to see if we were still here.  I am amazed at the coincidences in life- had he been a few minutes later, or we left a few minutes earlier...
We had a fun time catching up on what's new with each other, before we both needed to get on the road.  Mark north to Williams, and us, east to Mohave, AZ.
As Joan and I were nearing Ludlow on I-40 east, we found a high prominence with a turn- out where we could eat lunch.  Jeff hooked up the garden hose and ran it down over the edge of the hill so we could see if there were any more gas now that the tank was warmer.  After 30 minutes of venting we couldn't feel anymore flow, and wound up the hose and shut off the tank again.  It sill had an odor when you were near it.
By 3 PM we reached our destination.  A good friend from Port Orford Rotary, offered to let us mooch-dock at his vacation house on the Colorado River in Arizona's Mohave Valley

There are hook-ups for an RV beside David and Kathy's mobile home, and soon we were set-up and exploring the new site.  After a phone call, we had the water system turned on and power and sewer hooked up.  Home on the road for the next several days.

At this site where we are visitors, there is only 20 amps of electricity available, so as a friendly gesture we offered to install a 30 amp plug-in.  We called our host, Dave, who readily agreed to the project, and after a trip to Home Depot and Lowes we were in business.  With 30 amps of power and all the other necessities met, we are enjoying the chance to relax and explore.

Joan and I drove into town to go to the local Smith's market, and as we crossed over Boundary Cone Road, we both thought about visiting friends of ours that live out that way in the town of Oatman.   Joan was lamenting that she did not have a phone number for  Mary Lynn and Terry, so we could call and see if they were in residence.  As we walked into Smith's market we ran smack-dab into Mary Lynn!  How does this happen??!!

Wednesday  December 3rd

Drizzle on and off today, so this morning after breakfast Jeff  fired up the Neat scanner to scan in receipts.  We've been using this software/hardware combination to keep us as paperless as we can be. The attraction for us, is that we can throw away all our receipts and in the rare situation where we need, we can pull it up and reprint it-( IRS accepts reprints too)  Neat also allows us to print up a spending report, which helps us stay within our means.
By early afternoon it was semi-dry and the temperature was in the mid sixties and we decided to drive out to Oatman to see our friends Mary Lynn and Terry.

We wrote about Oatman in our blog in 2012.  ( Oatman 2012)  Oatman is rough.  No polished edges here, most of this mining town looks like the real deal.  Main street is completly set up for the tourist trade, but get one street removed from Main (old Route 66) and you'll see the un-varnished reality of hardscrabble mining.   Our friends have purchased a house that probably dates back to the 1930s.  They say probably, because few records exist of the structures- the land title is clearly documented, but the structures were added, remodeled and demolished with out much official notice. Terry is busy bringing new life into this old house  So far he has installed all new plumbing, windows, siding, electrical, and soon he will tackle the roof.  The house is looking great. 

The town of Oatman is famous for the "wild" burros that have the run of the town.  I say wild in quotes, because they are free range, however they have become quite habituated to the tourists who want to feed and pet them.  I am told the BLM will frequently relocate them to protect their health, and to prevent over-population.  About 2 years ago the BLM told store owners to stop selling carrots for burro treats, because the animals were getting an unhealthy fat layer.  Nowdays you can buy compressed alfalfa cubes to feed the burros.

Joan and I had a great time visiting with Mary Lynn and Terry, and it was getting dark as we said our good byes.  We don't know where we'll see them next; Medford, Prineville or here in Oatman- but we will see them again in the future.

Your traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

On the Road

Odometer 41,857 miles to 42,034
Trip Meter 177 miles

November 22, 2014

Destination:  Blue Lake, CA

Every trip starts with a squeeze on your wallet.  We have just been to Eugene, OR and back, so it's time to top up the tank before heading out to Blue Lake, CA to visit my sister Phebe and her husband Rockey on the first leg of our trip south to Arizona.

We took on 40 gallons at $3.43 per gallon, thanks to the present over supply of crude oil, this is less than the $3.73 per gallon it cost us on our way out of Oregon last year- and- the forcast is for lower prices as OPEC has decided to let the price of crude slide, rather than propping it up.
Interestingly, I just read a study by PKF Consulting that demonstrates that RV vacations are more environmentally friendly than a fly/drive/hotel vacation- tho admitedly we are on the  more carboney ( is that even a word?) end of that continum, with our 26,000 lb home on wheels.  At any rate I would be the last person to say we are aywhere close to carbon neutral.  That's a discussion best left for a different blog.
We also topped off the propane tank, which was close to thw 1/4 mark after using the heat nearly non-stop during the icy cold weather in Eugene.

Our last night at our summer home was a duzey.  We were sleeping in the motorhome, packed and ready to go south on Saturday morning.  At 3AM we woke up to a thunderous roar of rain on the roof.  It has been raining since yesterday afternoon- but it was the low intensity type with breaks of no rain.  This was like a tropical downpour!  After a half hour of non-stop gushing rain I got up and looked out the windows with my 4 cell Maglite.  The beam of the Mag-Lite I could see standing water all the way from the RV pad to the front door of the house.  We were an Island!
The nice thing about sandy soil is that water doesn't stay around long.  By first light on Saturday I took the picture above, and by the time we departed at 9:30 AM, there was hardly any sign of the torrent of rain, and the sun was peeking out.  Our home weather station showed 2-1/2 inches of rain.

Traveling down the Oregon coast from Port Orford means traveling right next to the ocean for much of the way, and the sunny skies the blue Pacific made for beautiful vistas from every turn.

Joan and I have traveled this road often, but we never tire of the beauty of this coast- this is the magnet that draws us back "home" every spring.
As we leave Brookings, and cross over into California, Highway 101 veers further inland and glimpses of the ocean are few and far between.

There is another type of scenery that is equally mesmerizing however- we are entering into the Redwood Coast- home of the Sequoia Sempervirons, a.k.a Coast Redwoods.  As we leave the small town of Crescent City, CA we are enveloped by a corridor of giants that must be seen to be appreciated.
177 miles is almost 4 hours of driving for us in our 56 foot combination vehicle.  The road has many sharp 35 mph turns and frequent changes in elevation, keeping us below the average speed for the road.  We use the pull-outs often, preferring not to hold up the cars and light trucks that can make better time, plus, we like to look at the scenery.  We see our windscreen as the ultimate in IMAX viewing- mesmerizing to the point that I often forget that I'm supposed to be scanning my dash gauges and glimpsing at the rear view monitor to make sure the car is still on four wheels behind us.

By mid-afternoon we had arrived at my sister's house in Blue Lake.  Phebe and Rockey live on the south flank of a hill looking down over the small town of Blue Lake.  Their driveway is too steep for us to negotiate with our bus (ask me how I know) so we set up camp on the street below.  The street dead-ends a couple hundred feet further on and the neighbors didn't seem to mind.
Phebe is a gourmet cook and she treated us to fantastic meals for the duration of our stay- so we never really had to worry about needing any utility hook-ups.

Sunday November 23rd

We drove into the city of Eureka to do some sight-seeing.  Although we have been here many times, we never tire of walking through Old Town.  Old town is about 15 blocks long and two to three blocks wide.  Well preserved homes a businesses reflect the Victorian flavor  that was in vogue when it was originally built on the edge of Humboldt Bay.

An example of the beautiful homes in the area is this one called the Pink Lady.  She is for sale today for the small sum of $1,390,000

Across the street the Carson Mansion, built by lumber magnate William Carson in 1885 is, according to their web site, one of the most written about, and most photographed Victorian houses in California

The street scene is beautiful to behold.  All the buildings have been lovingly restored and maintained, and the shops are quirky and interesting

You've just got to love this one!

Being a safetyguy, this is my personal favorite.  Looks like it could be the title slide in one of my safety training presentations.

No trip to Eureka would be complete without a stop at the local Harley Davidson shop.  I think Joan and Phebe are heading in to check out the new selection of street leathers.
Phebe's husband Rockey owns this franchise- the two of them have been growing the store since 1998.  It is now tripple the size of their original space.  It's a must-see, even if you don't ride, the clothing section is awesome!  Tell them I sent you, so I can get a discount next time we shop there...

Tuesday November 25th

We had a wonderful stay in Blue Lake, and today we head further south.  The Sun is out, and the day is beautiful.  We hung around Eureka until 11 AM so with our late start, we know we won't make it all the way to Williams, our original destination.  Four hours after leaving Eureka, and with 172 miles under our belt, the sun is getting low in the western sky and we start looking for a suitable place to stay the night.  Joan found the Golden Rule RV Park just south of Willits, and we pulled in with just enough time to get hooked up and get in a short walk before sundown.  Just two days before Thanksgiving and we are parked in a flock of wild turkeys- hmmm...

Your Traveling Friends

Joan and Jeff