Saturday, April 30, 2016

Portland, OR - Cold Day in the RV

Our plans for this, our first day here in Portland was to travel along the Columbia River Gorge to hike and see the waterfalls.

Foiled again. I awoke about - well, I didn’t know what time it was since my clock had gone off. Hmmm. Gary’s clock was off too. It was cold in our house. Our little heaters were off too.
Hey, Gar, something’s wrong.

Yep, that’s my solution to every problem: wake Gary.

We tried lots of things. The lights worked, the refrigerator worked, the gas furnace worked. Hmmm, everything on our batteries worked, everything on the electric sockets (the camp electricity) did NOT work.

Well, no Gorge today. We ate breakfast and Gary got out his wiring diagrams and tools.
My thoughts: it’s in the converter. Yep, Gary opened our converter/inverter box and here’s what he found.
Not good. Several burned wire ends, several red wire twisters (is this the correct term?) all melted and off the wire ends.

Off to work he went analyzing and tracing wires. Finally he fixed the problem. Good man.

We walked in an area on an island in the Columbia, that we can see from our RV Park. I was really intrigued by these houses on the river. Houses? Boats? Houseboats? Actually much more like a house than a houseboat. Some had decks, plantings, sheds, porches, gardens - things you’d see in any neighborhood. But this neighborhood has a dock for a sidewalk, water for the street and a boat instead of a car. But, where are their utilities? What do they do when it freezes? How do you get your furniture here when you move in? Cute homes and some were for sale but I’d want lots of answers before I bought.
In another development in the area we found this little family in the community pool. The lady on the deck above us saw us taking pictures and asked: ‘Are they back? I just got rid of them yesterday.’ Awww.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Newport, OR - Thor's Well, Spouting Horn and the Devil's Churn

Scenery overload today. Oregon is known for its gorgeous ocean scenery but there is one section that is particularly beautiful, where, no matter what direction you look, you’ll be awestruck. It’s so well known that many of its features have names: Thor’s Well, the Spouting Horn, Devil’s Chasm and the Big Spruce. It’s called Cape Perpetua, our destination for the day and we’re aiming for at high tide for the biggest bang for the buck.

The drive is no slouch either since we’re driving either through a tunnel of pine trees or next to the ocean with its beaches and rocky coast. Some nice villages along the way and another cool bridge. Can you tell that I was an engineering major when I entered college? Then I hit calculus and physics - my first quarter. I was out of that major fast. Oops.
We parked and took off on the St. Perpetua Hike, one of many in the park. This worn path covered with roots, rocks and a smattering of wild flowers,
I got out my camera to take a picture and, oops, the shutter didn’t open. Cripes, now what. Sure enough, the shutter had a definite crink in it which prevented all the little things from opening. (note my technical language. I sure wouldn’t want to confuse you with all my technical talk. Ha ha. ) I carry extra batteries in the camera case and, when I dropped the case earlier this morning, it fell just so - exactly so the camera lens fell on the battery edge and it bent it. Oh, darn. Now what. Drop the iPad into the Pacific Ocean, drop the camera on a trail. (And, then I lost my little Misfit activity tracker on a trail in the Columbia Gorge the next Tuesday.) Well, put the camera away and we’ll use the iPhone.
The trail climbs 745’ up a rocky cliff up to a Civilian Conservation Corps open stone shelter. We met a young couple who were celebrating their first anniversary with crackers, cheese and a bottle of wine. Cool place to celebrate.
It looks ancient with its weathered stone but was really made by the Corps back in the 1930’s. A simple stone and beam structure, it fits the setting, gives hikers a place to sit to relax and a beautiful 745’ view out over 150 miles of the Oregon Coast.

We then hiked back down and headed on over to the rocky ocean side lined with narrow fissures in the rocks through which seawater surges in and out. We were there at high tide for the frothiest of spectacles. Thousands of years of crashing waves have carved these inlets into the softer basalt shoreline, forming coves, inlets and cauldrons. When the water rolls in, there is a resounding WHUM-M-MP as each waves hits the rocks, a 15’ spout of water erupts above (the Spouting Horn) and then recedes, only to be replaced by the next wave. So cool. I could stand for hours just watching it roil, erupt and recede.
Then it drains out only to be replaced by the next wave. We stood there, checking out to sea for the next big wave, watched it roll in and WHUM-M-MP against the rocks as waves have for millions of years.
Around the corner is Thor’s Well, a collapsed sea cave about 20’ deep, that looks like a witches boiling cauldron when it fills from the bottom with each wave, boils over and then recedes. We were watching that hole when this tourist ran out to get a close-up of the waves. Here you can see him standing on the edge of the Devil’s Churn as it is filling up.
Note how close this guy gets to it as it fills further.
Very dangerous. Finally he realizes how close he is and how high the waves are coming and begins to fun away from it. In the background, note the bigger wave coming in. We were afraid that we might be taking pictures of a tourist falling into the cauldron.
But, he turns, steps quickly out of the way as the biggest wave crashes into the cauldron. Meanwhile his girlfriend, who was up where we were and had a better view of the whole scene, kept shouting and waving at him to move. Of course, she kept her camera rolling the whole time.

There are trails all along here to get you to the best viewpoints. Further on down the trail is the Devil’s Churn, another wider fissure in the basalt where seawater surges in, WHUM-M-MPS, erupts into frothy geysers and then recedes only to be replaced by the next wave. The trail down to this is called the ‘Trail of Restless Waters’ which aptly describes the roiling waters in the inlet.
So, at Cape Perpetua you’ve got great trails, fabulous views, pocket beaches with fine sand, tide pools, blowholes, old growth Sitka spruce and soem beautiful flowers. Oh, yeah, the CCC shelter on the top of the cliff. The views are delightful and they’ve got benches placed along here for some of the best views.

But, it’s getting late and we begin our journey home. 11 minutes after we get into our car, the rain starts. Whew. Just made it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Newport, OR - What Shall I Name This Blog?

Well, first things first: Gary fixed the camera. He clamped the camera to the counter top so it wouldn’t move and then he used a tiny little screwdriver to pry the lens cover up. When he got that pried up and straightened, the little lens thingies worked. Whew. Took him about 45 minutes. What a guy.
Yep, when things break, call the Big Guy, Big Gar.

Manwhile, I’ve been doing my arm and hand exercises. One of them is to manipulate and squeeze these blops of ‘silly putty’ though they are a bit more solid than silly putty. There are 4 colors for the 4 toughness of them. I started with the yellow one in my left hand and the next tough one, red, in my right hand. Now I have moved up to the red one in my left hand and the green one in my right.
Then there’s this cool gadget, to strengthen the wrists. Twist it with your arms straight out from your body. There are other ways to handle it and twist it but I find this does the best. Theraband, Theraputty - I’ve got my instructions. I’m a good patient and I’m working hard. I can even do these in the RV as we’re moving on down the road.
Here’s our campground with the marina in the foreground. Our RV is right in the middle. When we came into the campground, on a Friday, it was packed. I heard that there was a rally in progress but they all moved out on Sunday.
This is a long fishing and clamming pier. We’ve seen both here. Clammers put a huge piece of chicken in their pot, toss it over the side of the pier and wait. We’ve seen people pull up ‘keepable’ Dungeness crabs but we’ve also see people pull up those that are too small. Do they know the difference? Of course, they are given a chart and a measurement device when they rent their pot. But, what a view from the bridge.

There is a ‘walkway’ along both sides of the bridge BUT, note how narrow it is and - there is no curb at all. Dangerous? Possibly but there are lots of people who bike and walk over the bridge. Here’s the view out toward the channel towards the Pacific.

Looks like there’s a carnival this weekend, right when we are getting ready to move on. We can hear the sounds and smell the fry bread a-cookin’.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Newport, OR - Playing on the Coast

We’re in Newport, OR for a week. Now, we like to eat breakfast out at least once a week and, since we postponed this treat in Crescent City last week, have 2 (count them: 2) breakfasts on tap for this week. We ate at Fishtails last time we were here and thoroughly enjoyed the meal.

But, in Newport, we’re in breakfast heaven: I checked Yelp and found several breakfast restaurants with at least 4 stars. Too many choices here. What are we going to do? Well, today we began with breakfast at the Coffee House right on the waterfront. Great views and good menu. We had read several reviews and knew that we had to split the omelet. Boy, were they right. (Maybe we need a third person with us.) We had the feta, spinach, red pepper and carmelized onion omelet. It covered half the plate, the potatoes covered the rest and the biscuit came on its own plate. Lots of food here - might as well bring us the take-home container now. We saw several pancakes go out - on 1’ square plates. We heard several ‘Ooh’s’ as they were delivered to the tables. Whoo-eee. they were at least 1’ in diameter with bananas and blueberries and whipped cream on the top. One guy, not having read the reviews, ordered it to go with his omelet, potatoes and toast. He won’t need to eat for a week.

Needless to say, we had a filling breakfast and another place to add to our favorites in Newport. A real attraction for this town. We ask ourselves a lot - is this the place we’d like to land when we’re through with RV’ing? Where’s our final spot? Where will be buy a house? (Though with nearly 3 years of full-timing in back of us, we’re in no hurry to make this decision so any thoughts are purely hypothetical at this point.) Newport has lots to speak for it: a cool bay, a marvelous coast line with lots of places to walk along it, 2 museums, a huge marina, several good breakfast restaurants - I mean, what more could you want? Let’s call a realtor. Ooh - there is the rain and the fog here. How come I’m wearing a hoodie, a hiking shirt, a t-shirt and a quilted jacket? Must be a reason.

Time to smell the roses. We walked across the street and sat down on a bench to look out on the waterfront. Lots of activity, commercial fishing boats heading out, people with knee-high boots carrying equipment out to their boats, guys in orange rubber pants moving fish from one container to another, not many tourists today - it’s Monday. OK, now thats done, cross smelling the roses off my list, let’s go. We’ve got things to do.

We headed north along the coast up to DePoe Bay, about 10 miles north. Worlds smallest harbor and the tortuous route boats need to take in and out is rocky, narrow and the waves never let up. We saw no boats waiting to come into the harbor today. but here’s a picture from 2 years ago showing how tortuous it is to get in. The boat came up to the harbor, realized it wasn’t the right moment, circled a few times and then made its run. You’ve got to get the right wave to come in, then aim to the middle away from the rocks, turn a hard left to go under the bridge we’re standing on and you’re home free.
OK, he’s found his wave and his spot and knows he can get between those rocks
He guns the engine
Now a sharp left to get under the bridge and we’re home free.
It was a maelstrom out there. Since there are long fingers of rocks going out into the ocean, waves break way out. We looked out and Gary called it a Vitamix of waves.
No wonder we didn’t see any ships coming in today. We walked through the town and along the road next to the bay. Hey, look at this cute little trail.

Must be a small park with a bench looking out to the Pacific. Quiet, comtemplative, we can sit here. That's Gary in the picture above waiting for me to sit still for just a minute.

Later we walked along the wall they had on the Pacific and watched the waves coming at us. We were in front of one just like the one below. My glasses: wet, my hair, wet: my jacket: covered with ocean spray. Oops, didn’t see that one coming. Kissed by the Pacific. Cool.
Since we didn’t see any action through the harbor, we then headed south back towards Newport and drove out to Yaquina Head Lighthouse.
The last time we were in the area, this was all covered since they were painting it. Now, look at it, pretty spiffy.

Beautiful views all around, we could hear the squawking of the common murres and the cormorants out on the rocks,
we turned and saw the trail up the hill, beckoning us. Pretty short, let’s take it.

When we got down we headed towards Cobble Beach where the black rocks are all so rounded that, when the waves pull out, they make a cool rattling sound. The bigger the wave, the longer the ebb, the louder the sound. Very cool.


Then back to the RV. A day on the Oregon coast. Marvelous.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Newport, OR - Walkin' Round Town

Newport’s a pretty cool town: it’s got beaches, lighthouses, harbors, marinas, museums, commercial fishermen and good breakfast restaurants. What more is there? Well, it also has cool places to walk, even just around the harbor, where we walked today. On the main street through the Bayfront area is this huge chunk of cement, with signs and pictures on it.
Why would any town put this huge ugly chunk in the middle of the tourist area of town? Tourists want shoppes, restaurants, ice cream, not big cement blocks. Well, actually, as you have guessed, this is a chunk of a Japanese dock which floated over here to Newport’s beaches after the earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
Here is what the whole dock looked like when it washed up on shore in Newport.
It was huge and it was covered with what we would call ‘invasive species.’ It had to be examined stripped and the piece above is what was put on the boardwalk for everyone to look at.
And, speaking of tsunamis - we are in the tsunami zone for Newport - being right on the harbor as we are. Great views, great place to be BUT - we have to be aware of where we need to go if we feel an earthquake. This sign is on the sidewalk outside our campground.
We followed the directions to our Safe Haven.

And, could read why we had to get away from the water. this hill is 84’ high and is thought to be high ‘enough.’
Tsunamis are hard to see at sea but, on land, they build and build up their energy to crash on shore. We like to camp on the shorelines and have in Crescent City, CA and here in Newport. We enjoy the views, the beaches to walk on, the rocks but we are aware of what we have to do should we feel an earthquake. Luckily, we’ve never felt one.

We continued our walk around the bay and found lots of diamonds on the walkway, memorializing those who had died at sea. Sometimes there were a lot in one row signifying that these 4 died on the same Fishing Vessel.
Sometimes there is just one: someone who just never returned from the sea.
And, then we came to the commercial fleet docks. Biggest commercial fleet on the Oregon coast and the two processing plants along the Bayfront area testify to this. One is expanding which is good news for Newport. Below is only a portion of the fleet.
NOAA has a fleet of 4 ships here, though only one is in harbor right now. Seems that they were looking to expand their fleet and presence on the Northwest Coast but where they were didn’t express much interest. Newport went after them in a big way: they expanded their docking, dredged a deeper channel and build some buildings, realizing that NOAA would bring in high-paying jobs, tourists and a certain cache to the town. One of the young women on the first ship that came into port was thrilled to see the whole town out on the docks to welcome them. They had never seen this kind of welcome before.
There’s also an aquarium and a Marine Science department of an Oregon university in the area.

There’s also a museum in the area showcasing Newport’s aquatic past. Loved this picture of the fishing nuns. I thought they just fished for souls.
And, these surfers - even a woman. And, check out those boards. Pretty rudimentary - I’d think they might get splinters in their feet on these.
There is always this bridge over it all.
And, in the museum is this toothpick model.

It’s fun to walk around Newport with so many things to see - and so many ice cream shops to choose from.