Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August 11-19: FMCA Convention, Redmond, Oregon

We got an early start and had a nice drive over two “mountain” ranges (nice, but they are no Rockies), heading inland to Redmond, just north of Bend (which is a neat trick, since we started the day in North Bend). We started out going north on US-101 then east on OR-38 across the Coast Range.

We soon made the junction with I-5. Heading north, we traveled familiar roadways to Eugene, then east again on OR-126 to Redmond, this time over the Cascade Range. After a couple of turns on local roads, we were soon at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds and Expo. This is a huge facility, one of the few around the country that can hold these FMCA Conventions. This one attracted 1,876 motorhomes of all shapes and sizes.

We were relaxing on the first evening when word of close thunderstorms with hail came through. We pulled in awnings and slides just in case, but the worst of the weather passed us by. Maya Lynn got to wear her ThunderShirt again, though. After it was all over, we were treated to a nice sunset.

There was no food supplied at this rally (other than coffee and donuts too early in the morning), so we managed to do some cooking. One of the highlights was Geri’s “Famous” Veal-Ricotta Meatballs, which make awesome grinders.

We enjoyed the rally, making a few purchases at the vendor booths and attending several seminars. We also took a side trip back up into the Cascades, along a “scenic route” just east of the little town of Sisters, which was named for a minor feature in the Cascades, the “Three Sisters”. Some kind of legend, yada, yada, yada. But, there’s a huge lava flow from these extinct volcanoes and we did get to see some snow in the distance. The pups enjoyed the ride, too!





There is a viewpoint in the middle of the lava flow, so I tried out a new photo app, “Photo Sphere” from Google. Interesting 360° picture generator.

One thing I’ll say for us, we are quick learners. Staying an extra day after a rally is an excellent idea. So good, in fact, that we did it again. The Expo Center has a nice 100+ site RV Park on site. It was full before and during the Rally, of course, with “VIPs” from FMCA. But, like the casino in North Bend, it cleared out pretty quickly and we were able to stay for three extra nights, one in-place in our rally space (free!) and two more nights in the RV Park. This extra time allowed us to catch up on laundry and hit the local Costco, Walmart, and Fred Meyer. All set for travel!




Sunday, August 10, 2014

August 2-10: Rally #1 in North Bend, Oregon

We attended the rally celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Monaco International chapter of the Family Motor Coaching Association (“FMCA”) this week. We’ve been going to these rallies on and off since 2006, after we bought our current coach. These rallies are held the week before bigger FMCA “conventions” once or twice a year (more on that next week).

We’d planned this part out before we left Arizona. Accordingly, we had all of 9 miles to travel from Charleston to the rally location, The Mill Casino and RV Park in North Bend, Oregon. Since we’ve stayed in this area before, we knew the right combination of local roads to navigate with the coach. It wasn’t worth hooking up the Rover, so Geri followed.



Like a lot of RV get-togethers, early arrival generally yields better parking. We took advantage to a scheduled early slot on Monday, even though Rally activities didn’t really start until Wednesday, and got a spot in “Row 1”. It was a “low deployment” stop, with minimal gear needed. We had electric service (30 Amp, but enough to get by with the relatively mild weather) but made sure that our water was full and holding tanks were empty. Water was available, but I couldn’t find my 1,000’ hose. (Photo plus: Albertville Hydrant.)

Our good friends Wayne & Eva, were also at the rally, although they didn’t get in until later on Tuesday. We haven’t seen them in quite a while as our travel schedules and directions have differed. We went out to dinner on Tuesday night, to a local Japanese place (my sushi was fine but the others’ entrees were less than expected). On Wednesday, we made a day trip south to Bandon, a little seaside town, where we had lunch and some pretty good dessert.




The Rally included breakfast and dinner Thursday through Saturday, so we didn’t have to cook as much as usual. We took turns setting the nametags out to reserve a table (it’s a sort of rally tradition, complicated). Also included was evening entertainment, which was mediocre but not unexpected given the part of the country and the budget for this kind of event (RVers are generally “thrifty” types). On the last evening, leftover “drink tickets” were traded in for unopened bottles of wine. We pretty much closed up the place with the other couples at our table (Bernard & Wanda on the right, unknown couple in the foreground, unclear where Wayne & Eva were).

At the end of the Rally, we had two days to get to the next one and it was only 155 miles, so we decided to stay one more night. Fortunately, the RV Park on site, with full hookups, cleared our right away and we were able to move over easily. We had a nice view out the front window early on, but things filled up quickly. We spent Monday cleaning up the coach, and Geri caught up on laundry. Life on the road…





Friday, August 1, 2014

July 19-August 1: Extra Long Stay In Charleston, Oregon

We took our time getting ready and were still at our destination in the early part of the afternoon. We’ve stayed at the Oceanside RV Park in Charleston before, and were pleased with the cleanup that the new owners/managers have done. After a little snafu with our site assignment, we were safely parked in an extra-long pull-thru. Since we had two weeks planned, it was time for a “full deployment”: EZ-Up, chairs, dog pens, outdoor cooking, etc.

As soon as we were set up, it was time for a walk on the beach. Geri loves the beach and, at this park, it’s only 100 yards away. The pups love it, too, and they definitely remembered being here before. Merlin loves the water, but Maya Lynn runs away whenever a wave rolls in.



We had a mixed bag of weather on this stay, which was expected. We had some sunny days, which made the Park’s flowers look nice, but also some cooler and wet days. At times, those of us with thinner blood felt downright chilly! But, like all things cyclical, things eventually cleared and we were back to nice weather for beach walks.







Lest anyone worry that we were wasting away out here on the wild frontier, never fear. A “full deployment” stop means outside cooking and we did our share. Wings and Ritas one night, Tri-Tip and Fries another; you get the idea. Actually, the deep fryer got a good workout on this stop, up until I left it outside on the table one time too many. The fryer itself didn’t get hurt, but some water did get in with the oil. When people say “oil and water don’t mix”, they could have easily added “in a deep fryer”. A quick drain and refill was definitely in order!




Since we didn’t have a huge amount planned for this visit, we got to relax quite a bit. Geri is always disappointed that the pups like to snooze in the grass (or dirt, or rocks, or whatever) rather than on the outdoor rugs we put down.

We were fortunate that the site next to us went empty for much of our stay, giving us a sense of openness. A couple of rigs pulled in for a day or two, and this trailer had some “extra” stuff that apparently needed to travel. This kind of thing always brings out comments about The Beverly Hillbillies, with Grandma strapped to the back.

One of the side trips we did take was a short drive out to Cape Arago, just past the RV Park. It’s always fun to walk along the bluffs overlooking the Pacific. One of the little coves along the road is almost a perfect semicircle and it’s quite interesting how, depending on the tides and swells, the waves will form the same shape. This is a backward perspective, of course, since it was the wave action that eroded the cove in that shape in the first place.



Because we generally stay in Charleston, which is basically a fishing town, we often forget that Coos Bay and North Bend, the larger towns in the area, actually have a good deal of commercial shipping traffic. The pups and I watched an empty freighter get escorted through the channel one morning, and we saw it fully loaded with finished lumber a few days later down at one of the mills in North Bend. These aren’t “Walmart” container ships; the lumber was just stacked on board, almost as high as the four cranes you can see. Another ship went by loaded with wood chips, all headed for Asian markets. “Made in USA”!

We did have time for a few “selfies”, just for fun. It’s always nice to let family and friends know where we are and how much fun we’re having…




Toward the end of our visit, we headed for beautiful downtown Coos Bay to check out the Farmer’s Market. It was reasonably well done, with the usual mix of produce and meats, food vendors, and crafts people. It was a nice day and quite a few people were out and about, even on a Wednesday. We also took a walk along the port’s boardwalk while we were there.






And finally, it wouldn’t be a successful visit to the Oregon Coast without some crab. No, we didn’t rent all the gear and a boat, but we did manage to get some fresh crabs at the Charleston Marina, and they were very good. Half for dinner and half for the freezer; woo-hoo! (Not to be outdone by Geri’s crab awesomeness, I pulled together a quick Ragu with Farfalle the next night. We make a great team!)





Friday, July 18, 2014

July 14-18: A Quick Stop In Brookings, Oregon

Monday was another easy driving day. I never get tired of saying that. US-101 north from Eureka, a quick fuel stop in Port Orford, just over the border into Oregon, and an early arrival at the Elks Lodge in Brookings. There were several open spots, so we headed for one of the pull-thru sites and were soon all settled in.

Like a lot of the West Coast, southern Oregon can have a long but late growing season. We found lots things blooming, even if we didn’t really know what they were!



As I mentioned in a prior post, Elks are on the move this summer. We had a couple of nights where all 18 spaces in Brookings were full, and there were RVs trolling through parking lot early in the morning looking to see who was leaving.

Although our stay started out cloudy and damp, the weather cleared a bit toward the end of our visit and I was at least able to get one sunset picture. It would have been better if we were down closer to the shoreline, but the color started as I was walking the pups and all I could do was pull out my phone!



And finally, the rest of our trip is assured to be trouble free.




Years ago (decades, really), someone told me, “Always pay attention to what’s on the ground in front of you. You never know what other people will step over and never see”. So I do. There are patches of clover all throughout the lawn at the Brookings Lodge, and I spotted this four-leaf clover on one of our morning walks. It’s the third one I’ve found over the years…