Sunday, September 17, 2017

9/13 Tillicum Campground, Yachats, OR

This campground has two big attractions--you can get a site directly overlooking the ocean and it is cheap for seniors because it is a federal facility.  A couple of negatives are the lack of a dump station and fairly tight roads and campsites because of a narrow road and overhanging branches.  

Some explanations about hookups.  I really prefer an electric hookup because my batteries will not run my TV, AC, or microwave, however, I will occasionally forego electric if the location is superb, like the North Rim of the Grand Canyon where some sites are practically hanging over the rim with fantastic views and the little Kaibab squirrels running around.  Water hookups are nice, but since I can fill my fresh water tank with 60 gallons of water, I can manage very nicely without a water hookup at my site.  Sewer hookups are often not worth the bother since I can easily go 3-4 days without dumping my grey and black tanks.  (One of the big benefits of traveling alone means I don't fill my tanks very fast, even with taking a hot shower each day and doing a few dishes a couple of times a day.)  And, nearly always, dumping my tanks is something I combine with going out and visiting town or exploring.  Usually, dumping means driving a few hundred feet within the campground to a dump station, which is also nearly always easy to use and free to campers. 

I know this is getting boring to most of you, but it is part of my life and how I manage utilities.  Another issue related to this is that I am very close to my maximum weight limit, and when I have two full waste tanks, I am often over that limit, so I like to travel with empty tanks.  Driving to a nearby town and paying $10 to dump in a municipal facility makes me a little nervous, so not having a dump station is a real bother.  

However, life has trade-offs.  Having the beach access literally across the street from my campsite is the trade-off for this campground for not having a free dump station! 

How can you beat this being practically at your doorstep? 

The trees are low and wind-swept, but here is my campsite.  Overhanging branches were only a foot above my rig, so I had someone watch as I backed in.  Did not want to lose satellite dish (round bubble on top) or the AC unit behind it.    

To get to the beach, all I had to do is walk behind the truck camper on the left.  Best part was hearing the surf all day and night, and the wonderful breeze. 

In this campground, the sites with electric are mostly on the left of this road that goes along the beach, and the tent and no-hookup RV sites are on the right in parallel parking sites. 

Many other sites are tucked into the woods, like these. 

I am in site 27, near the middle beach access.  Note the warning at the bottom of this map about there being no showers or dump station.  This is typical of national forest campground.  Actually, it is highly unusual for national forest campground even having electricity, let along water hookups or bibs.

The rest of the photos are just pictures of the beach.  The first two were taken on a very foggy day.  The rest were taken a couple of days later, and with a very unusual sunny, blue sky. 

Note the lack of smoke here!  The white stuff in the distance is fog.

These photos were taken at low tide.  This beach is very flat and the sand is extremely hard.  In fact, in a few places, I could barely see my own footprints. 

I could even walk in these areas that had only a couple of inches of water without sinking in.

You can see the campground in this photo.  There were only a couple of nearby houses, so this felt like a very private beach. 

On Saturday, I head to Nehalem Bay State Park, where I have never been.  I have stayed at a lot of the state and federal parks along the coast, but am always trying to explore new ones. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

9/11 Drive to Yachats, OR

I've been running a bit late in posting, mostly just because I have been lazy and taking some time off from other responsibilities.  But, I have rested up and relaxed as much as I needed to and am back to posting.  This post describes my drive from Emigrant Lake, CA, to the some of the prettiest places on the Oregon Coast!  

What makes this part of the Pacific coast so scenic is that you have mountains and big trees coming right to the ocean.  So, you will be sometimes driving through forested roads in the mountains....

And, then you round a corner and the ocean comes into view.  Lots of pullover areas along Highway 101. 

Besides being drop-dead gorgeous, this area also has been smoke-free and also has been wonderfully cool, with incredible non-stop ocean breezes!  There are hundreds of places where you can access public beaches. 

I just could not stop taking photos. 

I stopped at the Cape Pertpetua Visitor Center, part of the Siuslaw National Forest.  These are whale jawbones. 

View from the visitor center.  Lots of good parking for motorhomes, as well.  And some blackberry bushes full of ripe berries for a snack.  

Yachats is a very nice little town along the coast.  Not big enough to have any chain stores, which is nice, but it did have a small market.  Last time I was here three years ago, I arrived during one of their farmer's markets, but it was nicer today because it was a lot easier to find a parking spot along one of the side streets.  

After picking up a couple of things at the grocery store, I drove the couple of blocks to the little state park along the ocean and found a good place to park.  Nice place to watch for whales or just look at the ocean.  
 It was low tide with lots of tide pools. 

Like a lot of small towns on the coast, this one is located where a river empties into the ocean.  This one has created a large sandy beach.  


Friday, September 8, 2017

9/8 Smoke, Smoke, and Maybe a Little Less Smoke!

I am now in southern Oregon for a few days on my way to the Oregon Coast for a few weeks.  The news in the last few days have focused on hurricanes, but the Northwest has been having a serious fire season.  A wet winter apparently allowed a lot of grass and undergrowth, which then died in the hot summer, producing a lot of dry tinder which has been igniting all over British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Northern California, Idaho, and even parts of Montana.  

I noticed the smoke way back when I stayed at The Cove Palisades State Park in early August, but it has gotten a lot worse in the last week.  Portland is doing much better, but last week was miserable for most residents.  The worst was when a teenager threw a smoke bomb off a trail down a cliff, causing a fire in Eagle Creek near where it it empties into the Columbia River Gorge, setting off a huge fire that jumped this very wide river and lit both sides.  The interstate highway, I-84, was closed for several days. Not sure if it is open yet, but here is a news article and photos of the fire:

Here is a map of Oregon showing fires.  The orange symbols are recent fires that are mostly extinguished, the red icons are current fires, and the green icons are newly ignited fires.  The white arrow shows where I currently am camping. 

I noticed the smoke from fires way back in early August, you may notice from my postings from near Bend. The smoke was evident even in Napa, California, where I just spent over two weeks with family.  

It was a pretty drive yesterday from Red Bluff.  I came very close to cancelling my reservations for the next month in Oregon because many places had hazardous air quality index scores.  Luckily, Wednesday night there was some rain in Red Bluff and a lot of places in Oregon, which helped the smoke and those fighting the fires. 

So, how can you tell rain clouds from smoke?  The smoke tends to lay low in valleys and across mountains and smoke also tends to be very spread out and end up being an overall haze.  The clouds are puffy and higher.   

Everything looks like you used a clouded lens to take photos.

The next two photos look very similar, but in the first one you can barely see a mountain in the distance.  This one was taken yesterday, Thursday, right after I arrived at Emigrant Lake.

In this next photo, taken today, Friday, September 8, you can not only see the mountain on the right but another mountain in the middle that is even farther away.  This may not seem like a big difference, but the sun was out most of the day and the lake looks bluer.  This area also had had rain the previous night and air quality went from "Hazardous" down to "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups."  That is a drop from 400 to 150 here in a little over 24 hours.  

Here is a link to a chart showing air quality index colors and explanations: 

 This is a very pretty county recreation area campground.  The lake is low, as you can see from the very long and very dry boat ramp in the background!  But I don't swim or boat anyway, so I don't really care.  This part of the campground is relatively new and has all full-hookup sites on two levels.  Had I known, I would have chosen a site from the top level with a better view. 
 Pretty view on all sides of this place. 

This direction is a little more smoky so the view is not as good. 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

9/2 - Heat, Heat, and More Heat!

I am visiting family in Napa, California, so not much to post about, but I do have to comment on this summer's weather.  Some of you may have heard about the heat in the west this summer.  Yes, it is usually very hot in the southwest, but this heat has been much broader than that--actually covering the entire western part of the country.  

After experiencing 98 degree temps in the south rim of the Grand Canyon in late June when it is normally only in the low 80s, I knew I was in trouble.  Grand Canyon Village is at 6,800', which keeps it relatively cool.  Looking at weather forecasts, I rearranged some of the reservations and decided to head to supposedly cooler Colorado.  In fact, I had to head to Frisco at 9,300' to get daytime temps in the 70s.  Elk RIdge near Ouray was in 80s at 7,300'.

So, why the concern about heat?  The thing is that almost no RV air conditioning performs well in hot conditions.  Ditto for refrigerators and freezers.  For example, I have been keeping my AC on today since very early morning.  It is set on high fan as well.  Outside temps are now 104 degrees at 1:00 pm, but my AC is struggling to keep inside temps at 84 degrees.  I want it to be more like 75 inside, but that is not likely to happen until about 9:00 pm this evening.  

In addition, my freezer is also struggling.  RV refrigerators and freezers work on propane and switch to electric when plugged in.  They are "adsorption" devices and work differently from your home refrigerator.  (They also cost about twice as much, even for a very small one!)  That side of the motorhome is not facing the sun in this location, but even so, ice cream is likely to get soft, so I have only opened it once today.

The cause?  Well, the first is that these homes on wheels have very little wall and ceiling insulation due to weight restrictions.  Also, almost all have only single-pane windows.  I suppose they could put in more powerful AC units and add more insulation and double-pane windows, but that would increase weight and cost.  Basically, think of sitting in a parking lot in your closed car--it is like living in a tin can, and it gets hot in here fast. 

When you go to buy an RV, you look at floorplan, how many people it will sleep and where, and things like furnishings.  Very few people ask about the size of the air conditioner and the R-rating for walls.  (Actually, i don't think they even bother to rate the walls.)  There is the same issue about camping in cold places.  RVs leak air like crazy and are hard to keep warm in cold places.  

So, mostly full-time RVers like me try to plan our schedules so we stay in moderate climates year-round.  Except with global warming, the last two summers have not been moderate. Or at least, it has been a lot harder to find moderate temperatures.  So, next week, I am headed to the coast of Oregon where daytime temps are in the 70s and low 80s.  I'll stay there until mid-October when I head back here and then to Yosemite.  Finally, in November, I will be heading to southern California and Death Valley in early December.  I am following the cooler weather that way, I hope!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

8/19 Drive through Lassen National Forest

I admit to being very lazy about posting lately.  I left Eagle Lake on this day and drove south to Red Bluff, CA, about halfway to Napa.  I originally planned to drive 250 miles to Napa in one day, but I had a lot of errands to run on the way, so I broke it into two days.  Needed to do some shopping and get a truck wash, among other things. 

My drive was mostly through Lassen National Forest and skimming the edges of Lassen Volcano National Park.  You can see by the hazy photos that the smoke from forest fires is still common in this area.  Can you see the third ridge of mountains in this photo? 

Behind these trees is a very big lake and some hills in the distance.  

You can barely see the far edge of the lake in this photo. 

Ah, Lassen Peak.  If I had had a little more time I could have driven only about twenty miles to get to the visitor center, but I had been there a couple of years ago.  Not a good view because of the smoke anyway. 

You do see a lot of volcanic evidence as you head south.  This is a big pile of rocks thrown by an eruption.

 Lots of big and small rocks strewn around for about 50 miles from the volcano. 

Cows graze here, but it would be very hard to plow these rocky fields.