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Back in 2012, I had a bit of a health issue (see here for those posts). Following my recovery, or at least a good portion of it, we went to Utah and a bit of Arizona for what became known as our “I’m Not Dead Yet” tour. We hit many of the big parks for three night stays in their lodges or nearby and had a blast. Those posts start here if you’re interested. One thing that we learned is that just a few days in these types of locations is not enough. There is a direct line from that lesson to our going full-time in the RV last year. You can’t say we’re slow learners. At least in this instance.

So now we find ourselves back where it started. We booked a 2-week stay just outside Moab and it still wasn’t enough to even begin to see everything there is to see, but we saw a lot. Our lifestyle (ie: staying at a destination location in our own home) allowed us to take our time, but still go see cool stuff. If we decide to take a day off for laundry, chores, naps, and perhaps a bit of Xbox, no sweat.

Obviously this is a target-rich environment for photographers. This post will cover Arches National Park since it was our most visited destination with five separate trips (thank you once again America The Beautiful Pass!). It’s hard to pick just a handful, but needs must.

Sunset view of Balanced Rock, Arches NP, 9/21/20

A closer view of Balanced Rock. Arches NP 9/18/20

Sunset in Arches NP, 9/21/20

Early morning in Arches NP, 9/18/20

Early morning in Arches NP, 9/18/20

Landscape Arch, Arches NP 9/18/20

Pine Tree Arch, Arches NP, 9/18/20

Tunnel Arch, Arches NP, 9/18/20

Navajo Arch, Arches NP, 9/18/20

Arches NP, 9/18/20

Fiery Furnace, Arches NP, 9/17/20

Broken Arch, Arches NP, 9/17/20

The Fiery Furnace, Arches NP, 9/21/20

The Courthouse Wash Rock Art Panel. Arches NP, 9/22/20

Sand Dune Arch, Arches NP, 9/21/20

Broken Arch, Arches NP, 9/21/20

Skyline Arch, Arches NP, 9/21/20

We felt like Randall Flagg was following us around. #TheStand Arches NP, 9/17/20

Skyline Arch, Arches NP, 9/21/20

The plan was to leave the coast and spend a couple of days just east of Portland in order to check out the Columbia Gorge, then go to ground in Boise (with a quick overnight stay en route) for the Labor Day weekend, and then dash to Salt Lake City (with another stop on the way) for several days. Which is what we did. Sort of.

We did, in fact, have a great time briefly exploring the Gorge. Impressive views and several waterfalls kept the “Oh, wow!” factor alive and well. Many of the trails that are acceptable to us (ie: easy-ish) were closed due to the pandemic but we were able to see the sights and take some walks. Lived up to all of the hype. We’d love to revisit in the spring some year in order to see the waterfalls at their best. A common phrase worth repeating: we’ll be back.

As it turns out, we got out of Dodge at just the right time. Wildfires kicked up in the Portland area in a big way immediately after we left. Our run east to Boise was uneventful as was our stay there. Between Covid and holiday crowds, we felt it best to just hunker down, which we did.

One of my trip planning tools is a website called Windy. It provides a nice view of upcoming weather, particularly wind speeds. Wind is not my friend since we are effectively driving a large sail down the highway. Broadside gusts can make life interesting. Looking at Windy showed some strong winds on our travel days due to a front moving through, starting just at our overnight stay in eastern Idaho as well as in Salt Lake City the next day. So we decided to stop for a couple of nights a bit earlier than planned. Twin Falls, ID looked good so I found a park near there and off we went.

This turned out to be a great decision for two reasons. First, the winds were indeed crazy with 90 mph gusts in SLC. Forty-nine semi-trucks were blown over right when we were to arrive! Bullet: dodged. Second: Twin Falls rocked! Beautiful canyon which Evel Knieval tried to jump on his motorcycle, lovely waterfalls, charming downtown area. Significantly better than muscling Sybil and the truck through high winds.

After our layover we headed to SLC for a few nights. Three words describe our stay: lousy air quality. We were happy to move on and start our time in Moab, Grand Junction, and Bryce. More on that next time. Meanwhile here’s a handful of shots from the Gorge and Twin Falls.

Multnomah Falls. Nice trails here but they were closed. You supposedly need a reservation to park and see the falls. Columbia River Gorge, OR 9/2/20

Latourell Falls, Columbia Gorge, OR 9/2/20

The Columbia River Gorge, 9/2/20

Your choice of golf courses in the bottom of the Snake River Canyon. Twin Falls, ID 9/9/20

Twin Falls, ID 9/9/20

 


I’m way behind in posting, mostly because we just moved almost 1300 miles in 12 days. That may not seem like much, but for us it’s moving fast! More on that journey in a later post. This post will wrap up our stay in Garibaldi and coastal Oregon as well as the most comfortable summer weather-wise that I’ve ever had. Most days had us wearing long pants and shirts at least some of the time and the space heater ran every morning to take the chill off. Having lived in Florida most of my adult life, this was simply heaven.

So here is a major photo drop. The first group were all taken within walking distance of the RV. I really enjoyed my daily walks through town and was always ready to grab my camera to shoot something new. The balance of the shots are from some of the many field trips we took in the area, but we only scratched the surface. It really is a beautiful area of the country. I got used to it. We’ll be back.

The old boathouse and new Coast Guard Station in low cloud conditions. Not an unusual event. Garibaldi, OR 7/27/20

Low clouds. Garibaldi, OR 7/27/20

A fuzzy moon over Tillamook Bay. Garibaldi, OR 8/22/20

Sunset. 8/3/20

The Port of Garibaldi. This is a working port with lots of fishing activity most days. All evenings the sidewalks are rolled up. Garibaldi, OR 8/4/20

People clamming at low tide. Often there would be many dozens, entire families, out there. At high tide the pier would be full of people trapping crabs. Good eating. Garibaldi, OR 8/5/20

The helicopter pad for the Coast Guard Station was directly in front of the RV. Note the crewman lying on the floor in the door letting the pilot know where the ground is. Garibaldi, OR 8/5/20

The view from Oswald West SP. That’s Nehalem Bay on the left. 7/28/20

OR 101 hugs the coast. 7/28/20

Munson Creek Falls, Tillamook, OR 8/4/20

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, OR 8/10/20

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, OR 8/10/20

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, OR 8/10/20

 

 

Pulling out. 8/15/20

While staying here in Garibaldi, we have grown accustomed to hearing the train whistle of the local tourist line as it announces its departure from and, 90 minutes later, its return to the station just a short walk from the RV. The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad runs three times a day on weekdays, four on the weekend. The weekend runs are pulled by a vintage steam engine which certainly looks and sounds the part of an old timey train. It only goes about 5 miles up the coast to Rockaway Beach and then comes back to Garibaldi after a 30 minute “layover.” One beautiful morning we took the first run. Sandwiched between Tillamook Bay and Rt 101, we enjoyed the scenery along the coast. We strongly recommend.

Plus, it has been like having a local clock tower announcing the time. We know when it’s noon.

PS: This was the first real “touristy” thing we’ve done in these troubled times. It was a nice return to close to normal, albeit with face masks and social distancing. We’ll take what we can get.

Heading up the tracks. 7/19/20

Passing some clammers. 8/23/20

Blowing the whistle. 8/11/20

Driving the train 8/11/20

Sometimes we were pretty close to the road. 8/11/20

The restored passenger car. 8/11/20

“The Three Graces” near Garibaldi, OR 8/11/20

The view of the Boathouse Pier from the train. Garibaldi, OR 8/11/20

 

Since things are changing so rapidly with respect to the craziness that we are all experiencing we decided that, rather than moving every week, we would find a nice place to stay for the summer. We succeeded. We are on the water in coastal Oregon until September. By on the water I mean that we can watch the tide come in and out from the front seat of the RV. It’s pretty awesome. It’s also very beautiful. This is a target rich environment for photography and we’re back to saying “Wow!” quite a bit when we drive around a corner or hike to a viewpoint. A tiny bit of normalcy in these bizarre times.

That being said, here’s a bunch of photos, probably the most I’ve ever shoved up here at one time. It’s getting hard to pick the shots to post, there are just so many to choose from. Finally, a problem I don’t mind dealing with.

Stay safe, y’all.

Let’s start with some photos that I took within walking distance of the RV

‘Murica! Garibaldi, OR 6/27/20

The tourist train. Departs at least 3 times daily. Garibaldi, OR. 7/19/20

Pucker factor = moderate. Garibaldi, OR 7/13/20

Clamming at low tide. Garibaldi, OR 7/8/20

Shot with iPhone 11, handheld. Garibaldi, OR. 7/4/20

Shot with iPhone 11, steadied on a wall. Not bad. Garibaldi, OR. 7/4/20

Cape Meares

Short Beach, near Cape Meares, OR 7/8/20

Tidal Pool at Short Beach, near Cape Meares, OR 7/8/20

Short Beach, near Cape Meares, OR 7/8/20

Lighthouse at Cape Meares, OR 7/8/20

Cape Meares, OR 7/8/20

Cape Lookout

Cape Lookout, OR 7/15/20

Cape Lookout, OR 7/15/20

Cape Lookout, OR 7/15/20

Cape Lookout, OR 7/15/20

Cape Lookout, OR 7/15/20

Various Others

She turned me into a newt! A Rough-Skinned Newt to be precise. Near Garibaldi, OR 7/14/20

Dungeness crab. People are pulling these out of the water like crazy. These were gifted by neighbors. Different from our beloved blue crabs, but completely acceptable! Garibaldi, OR 7/4/20

Rockaway Beach, OR 7/6/20

 

Before we left the area, we made another trip up to Mt. St. Helens and took a couple of nice walks. It felt great to be out again, seeing sites and taking photos. There are lots of great hiking trails and photo-ops. It was good for our morale to be back in the woods again.

We finished up our quick visit to Washington with a short hop to a nice rv park on the Columbia River. We had a pull-in site that allowed us to sit in our front seats and watch the traffic on the river floating by. It was a bit jarring to see large, open-going vessels gliding by so far inland but we quickly got used to it. My neighbor turned me on to an app called Vessel Finder that I found to be pretty cool. I was able to identify the boats I was looking at or see when a big boy was going to come by easily on my phone for free. Fun. After a week or so I was actually recognizing the specific tugs shoving barges up and down the Columbia.

Southwest Washington is a beautiful part of the country. When some semblance of sanity and safety have returned to the world we will be back to more fully explore this region.

Coldwater Lake, WA. 6/14/20

Spring in Washington. 6/14/20

Hummocks created by the volcano. 6/14/20

Cedar Creek Grist Mill & Covered Bridge 6/19/20

Cedar Creek Grist Mill 6/19/20

Party at the river on a random weekday. 6/24/20

Watching the traffic go by. 6/17/20

Looking for a meal. 6/17/20

Up until now we have, by choice, travelled fairly slowly. This was primarily due to the fact that Nora, our late cat, did not care for travel days. She would be kinda stressed while moving, lightly sleeping but mostly just hanging out with her eyes closed. When the slides came out at the end of the drive, she knew we were done. She’d eat, and then pass out for the rest of the day. She was old enough to have earned some leeway, so we kept our preferred trip durations/mileages as short as possible and stayed several days, preferably a week or so, before moving on.

Now that we have a Nora-sized hole in our RV, we can be a bit more nimble. We still prefer to limit our road time on any given travel day to 3 to 4.5 hours and to stop for several days before moving on, but there are exceptions to every rule. Like last week. 1002 miles in 5 legs over 6 days. The reason? Temperatures of 104 degrees where we were, 60 degrees where we were going. So, Bakersfield to Mt. St. Helens in one swift movement. We were tuckered but happy when we were done. We were back on the road!

So here we are in the Pacific NW until September. As I type it’s raining, it’s been raining, it’s going to keep raining. But at least all 3 air conditioners aren’t running full bore all day. We are running the electric heaters pretty often, though. In my book, a fair trade.

Didn’t take many photos on the way up here, so I’ll toss a few of Mt. St. Helens that I got between downpours.

Stay safe, y’all.

A beautiful moon last week welcomed us back on the road for our West Coast Dash. 6/4/20

Mt. St. Helens in the morning. Overcast & rainy. 6/10/20

Mt. St. Helens that evening. Beautiful. 6/10/20

Mt. St. Helens 6/10/20

Mt. St. Helens 6/10/20

Mt. St. Helens 6/10/20

Momma told this critter to stay put. 5 days old. 6/9/20

 

Palm trees in our Palm Springs rv park 2/14/20

We’ll wrap up our hiatus from the road in this post since we’re finally about to cover some miles. After some health delays, we finally left the San Diego region in mid-February and headed to Palm Springs (again) followed by visits to the Salton Sea and the L.A. area, ending with what was to be a brief stop in Bakersfield. From Bakersfield, we were to wander north via the coast (Big Sur and some wine country) and then the lovely string of national parks (Yosemite, Sequoia, etc…), ultimately hitting the Pacific Coast near Tacoma, WA and sliding down the coast back to Northern California. Plans were laid with the highlight of hooking up with our good friends for almost 3 weeks in SW Oregon. A potentially great summer.

Yeah, well, the best laid plans.

View from our roof 5/25/20

We saw the writing on the wall and decided that Bakersfield was the place to isolate for awhile. Our rv park had great cell coverage (needed for internet), beautiful monthly sites with blooming orange trees inches from the coach, and good infrastructure for food, mail, etc. We’ve been here since March 6 and it worked out well. Now we’re ready to leave.

And so leave we shall.

We’ve decided that it was safest to not move too often, so we’re going to bolt up the west coast to southern Washington near Mt. St. Helen’s for 3 weeks or so, then to the Oregon coast in Tillamook for a couple of months. It will be very nice to see green again and get some relief from the heat this week. The forecast is over 100 degrees for 5 days running, with one day’s high expected to be 111 degrees. Yeah, we’ll be happy with the Oregon coolness after that.

Here are a bunch of photos from between San Diego and Bakersfield. Hopefully, I can get back to shooting regularly soon. Stay safe, y’all.

Bombay Beach on what’s left of the Salton Sea is an odd place full of odd art. We liked it. 2/18/20

Sitting in someone’s yard in Bombay Beach. 2/18/20

Near Slab City, itself an odd place, is Salvation Mountain. All built with found & donated supplies, it’s pretty much the work of one guy. 2/28/20

Salvation Mountain 2/28/20

Evening at the Salton Sea 2/28/20

Some of the oil fields in and around Bakersfield. These pumps are everywhere, including business parking lots. 5/20/20

We had orange groves and vineyards to walk in next to the rv. Here’s one of several active wells in these fields. 4/4/20

Drilling for oil in the vineyard. 4/29/20

Our home. 3/21/20

Here’s a handful of shots from one of our favorite spots near San Diego: Point Loma. We went there three times, including once at the end of our time in the area. It turned out to be the last “fun” thing we did in San Diego. The first couple of times, the tide was in so we weren’t able to enjoy the famed tidal pools since they were under water. We specifically timed our last visit near low tide and we’re totally happy we did. It’s a very cool place where you can be close to nature and still have views of San Diego and the Naval facilities.

The Point Loma Tidal Pools at high tide. 12/16/19

The Point Loma Tidal Pools at low tide. 1/23/20

Point Loma 1/23/20

Point Loma 1/23/20

Critter! Point Loma 1/23/20

Home! Point Loma 12/16/19

Final stop with a view Point Loma 12/16/19

Point Loma 12/16/19

Inbound. Point Loma 12/16/19

 

 

After Palm Springs we headed to our winter resting grounds, Santee, CA. Santee is adjacent to San Diego, a place I’ve been to once for work, and home to some of Patti’s relatives. It turned out to be a great place to land for a couple of months in order to ride out the winter and catch our breath. Lots to do, beautiful beaches (cliffs!), a vibrant downtown, and plenty of recreational activities. I liked it there so much that I’d consider moving to the area but only if you get rid of the state income tax. So there’s that.

I’ll just post a few random photos of the area over the next post or two. It was an interesting winter. Followed by an interesting spring. And probably an interesting summer, just not in the way we hoped.

Our social isolation spot. Quite comfy, all things considered.

Notes on the elephant in the room: As full-time RVers, we have some interesting challenges in this collective mess we are all going through. It became obvious to us early on that our carefully laid spring travel plans weren’t going to happen. We found ourselves in a very nice RV park outside Bakersfield in early March and, seeing the writing on the wall, decided that we’d ride it out here. Bakersfield is large enough that obtaining supplies shouldn’t be a problem and Kern County (besides being the #1 oil producing county in the country!) is small enough that crowds/maintaining social isolation isn’t an issue. Our site is level, nestled in an orange grove (really nestled … our RV has blossoming trees within inches of the coach on three sides), and has crazy good cell signal. So good that both Patti and I can stream our respective shows simultaneously. Since March 10 or so we have only left for groceries, prescriptions, and visits to the vet. Don’t ask. Bottom line: we are as safe as can be. We consider ourselves to be very fortunate. 

So until at least June, we are here: walking the park and through the adjacent orange groves and vineyards with the occasional oil well dotting the fields, watching videos, reading lots of books, keeping healthy and (mostly) sane, and worrying about our friends and family. Much like the rest of the planet.

Stay safe.

The dam at Mission Trails Regional Park, just a few minutes from our winter site. Santee, CA. 11/26/19

Substitute “alligator” for “mountain lion” and this sign could be in Florida! Santee, CA. 11/26/19

The Botanical Building in Balboa Park. San Diego, CA. 12/3/19

The local artists area in Balboa Park. San Diego, CA. 12/3/19

The local artists area in Balboa Park. San Diego, CA. 12/3/19

Merry Christmas on the beach at Torrey Pines State Beach. Torrey Pines, CA, 12/16/19

Merry Christmas on the beach at Ocean Beach, CA. 12/28/19

Seals chilling at La Jolla Beach, CA. 12/28/19

Sunset at Silver Strand State Beach, CA. 12/29/19

The world’s largest outdoor organ located at the Spreckles Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. We attended a recital there that was pretty cool. 12/27/19

Hanging at the San Diego Zoo. 12/27/19

Hanging at the San Diego Zoo. 12/27/19