Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Surprises!

Mr. Keith and I had an unexpected surprise for Christmas. The manager of the park where we are working said he had a Lazy Boy recliner he'd like to sell for $250 and were we interested. It had been a desire of ours for 3 or 4 years to get our ugly green vinyl couch and recliner out of our RV so we could have just 2 matching recliners. Upon investigation we discovered there were actually 2 chairs for sale, not just one, both the right color, the right price, and there were 2 men willing to wrestle our old couch and chair right out the door so the new ones could be installed. Montie took to this one. I think it's his perch now!

It wasn't a surprise for us that our daughter was coming down for 3 days on the day after Christmas, but it was a big surprise for our 2 cats to see that she brought along a lab puppy she was dog sitting. They were angry and very insulted. Here is Abby, also quite comfortable in our new chair.

Montie sits with paw extended and claws out, waiting for Abby to pass by. Smack! Yelp! Let's remember who is boss here!

Mia retreated to the farthest corner she could find in the bedroom, not interested at all in being friends with the pup. She was a little snooty with us, too. How dare we to invade her space with that foreigner!

We gave the cats a respite and took Abby to downtown Troutdale. Betsy is trying to snap a photo of Abby next to this bronze deer, but the pup had trouble holding still for the picture. Too much else to see including Grannie holding a camera, too!

Abby quickly learned where the door was and was eager to go out when she saw Betsy packing up. We were so happy to have had our daughter for this visit. Having family time during holidays has happened rarely since we've been full time RVers, as we've nearly always been too far away to get together for these special days. We've had to wait till the time traveling between our campground jobs to get back to Wenatchee to see everyone, once or twice a year. What a blessing it was for us to be able to talk and talk, take walks, and eat good food together with Betsy. The only thing better would have been to have my son, my younger daughter, and my 2 granddaughters with us, too. But, thank goodness for phones and Skype!

Time to head home to Wenatchee! Wish we were going, too. Abby's owner will be glad to see her, and Betsy's daughters and boyfriend will be happy that she's home. We had a blessed and wonderful Christmas week, one we won't soon forget! Thanks, Betsy!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dear Departed

As we approach Christmas time I've been thinking about my mother and about our times together as I was being raised. My parents moved us from the California metropolitan Bay Area to a 90 acre farm way out in the country near Salkum, Washington in 1947. The last time I lived there was in 1963, but I've returned many times over the years to revisit old haunts. A really big part of my childhood was our church, the Church of the Brethren in Salkum. The people there were our family. Someone sent me this picture of the church, probably not too long after it was built. By the time we started attending there was a covered front porch and an added steeple. There is a cemetery to the right of the building.

This is a picture of my mother at about age 18, when she graduated from high school and began her college years. Eileen was a school teacher for many years in California, a social worker in Chehalis Washington, and then again a teacher in the small town of Mossyrock, at the school I had attended for 12 years. My mother was faithful in taking my sister and me to church every Sunday.  We participated in nearly every service and many potlucks, quilting bees and other gatherings. The folks came from miles around to be part of our "family". Sadly, when I was 12 the old church burned down when the furnace malfunctioned. We met for a year or so in the Silver Creek Grange Hall while a new church was being built. About that same time the congregation needed a pianist, and since no one was available except me, I was drafted, at age 12, to play the Sunday hymns. It was a crash course in accompanying for a student only 3 years along in piano study! The congregation was very patient and encouraging as I learned to plug along, always keeping the beat. I continued to be church pianist till I married and moved away at age 19. My very early experience prepared me well for future years of accompanying and performing.

My mother lived with me in Wenatchee Washington for the last 8 years of her life. She went to her heavenly home just a couple of weeks after her 89th birthday in 2002. Mr. Keith and I held onto her ashes, not sure where to put them, until in 2005 when we began our RVing adventures. Since my mother's very favorite thing to do was to travel — she'd been all over the U.S. and in several foreign countries, including the British Isles, Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of Europe — we decided to take her with us on our journey! As we workamped in different states I always felt she was right there with us, enjoying the trip. Our campground job in 2006-2007 happened to land us near Olympia, so we were able to take several day trips down to Salkum, Mossyrock, and surrounding areas. Of course I had to show Mr. Keith all the places that were important to me in my growing up years! The dirt driveway in the picture above is between the Salkum Cemetery (to the right) and the plot where the old church stood.

This is where I made my decision. My mother's ashes would find a perfect home on the spot where she began and continued to attend church for 50 years. It was winter when we spread her ashes in this grove, hallowed ground where the old church stood. I told no one in the church what we'd done. It was our secret! I knew she would be happy with our choice. I could imagine the trees leafing out in the spring, glad to be in the same ground as one of God's most faithful servants.

Looking back up the road, we faced the "new" church, though it has been there for 50 years. I spent my teenage years there and have many fond memories of the wonderful folks who helped in my growing up. Most of them are also dear departed ones, along with my mother and the old pioneer church at Salkum.

One last good-bye to the horse who watched us throughout our little private ceremony. He can be seen in the photo above this one, too, curiously wondering what we were doing, or if we might have a carrot or a hunk of hay for him. It was a blessed and memorable day for us.

Monday, December 9, 2013


 We didn't go far today, but we came across some captivating winter phenomena. It's been so cold here for several days — the lowest temp on my outdoor thermometer was 15 degrees. The Columbia River Gorge has numerous waterfalls. There are the bigger, more well-known ones like Multnomah Falls and Horsetail Falls, all farther east along the old highway, but we saw many smaller ones, all frozen like this one on Stark Street, just out of Troutdale.

 The highway here is bordered with high cliffs on one side, water cascading down from the top, making its way through the clefts in the rocks. On the opposite side of the street we looked down on the Sandy River.

Just before we got to the bridge spanning the Sandy River we saw this very delightful falls coming down from the cliffs in what appeared to be a large private preserve. The grounds were surrounded by a high steel fence — no entry here! Beside the charming, completely frozen cascade there were light posts and a bench or two, undoubtedly someone's sanctuary in the midst of very old and large firs. I could imagine myself taking a book and perhaps a picnic lunch and sitting here on a warm spring or summer day!

 There are two ways to enter the historic Columbia River Highway heading east, one by coming through Troutdale and crossing a bridge over the Sandy River declaring itself to be "The Gateway to the Columbia River Gorge", and the other by crossing over the Sandy River at the ending of Stark Street. Both bridges are quite ancient.

 As I said, we didn't go far. After crossing the Stark Street Bridge we headed back towards Troutdale. We saw these lovely frozen falls all along the way, some of them just seepage from the rock walls. This water may not be noticed or even be present in the warmer seasons.

One last shot, approaching the "Gateway" bridge taking us back into Troutdale. I wonder how the bigger falls farther up the road to the east are looking in the freezing temperatures. They are probably not completely frozen, as are these smaller streams, but I can imagine they are even more stunning. We may take that longer drive on another frosty winter day!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Anna Bannana

 Mr. Keith and I needed a short drive to get us out of the house on our day off. We chose to get on Marine Drive which begins (or ends!) at Fairview and to follow it to the end (or beginning!) in North Portland where the Willamette and the Columbia Rivers merge. The day was sunny and cold and beautiful. Marine Drive parallels the Columbia for most of the way, crossing under the I-205 and I-5 freeways. We decided to drive into the Heron Lakes Golf Course on the Delta and were rewarded with a sighting of one blue heron, my favorite bird!

 Mr. Keith has a nickname for me — Anna Banana. Imagine our surprise when we saw this sign above a coffee shop in the old historic St. Johns area. Never mind that it has a double 'N' in the name, we had to stop!

 We quickly made a U-turn and got our parking spot right in front, entered, and ordered some lunch. Keith told the proprietor about my nickname and the man said, "Well, we have a coffee mug with the name that you might like to buy!"

  Of course we bought the coffee mug. We were amazed to find this place with this unique name. Who'd have guessed?

The drive back home to Fairview was equally beautiful, though the clouds were lowering and the afternoon getting darker. This is the Portland International Airport from the Columbia River side. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Beautiful Gorge

 Today we had planned to go up the Columbia River as far as the town of Hood River, crossing over the bridge there, and coming back on the Washington side. We saw this sign naming a waterfall we hadn't stopped to see on previous trips. It looked too intriguing to pass up this time.

The stream was broken into several stair steps or benches as it dropped from high above, according to the 'lay of the land', and made several waterfalls. The 'Dell' was actually a sort of high sided bowl made up of moss and fern covered rocky cliffs, very beautiful.

 I love this old and mossy walled trail. It's obviously been there a long, long time.

 Mr. Keith at the bottom of the trail.

 The Old Columbia River Highway is so beautiful! As we drove along in our little Focus we tried to picture the model T's and similar ancient autos that must have been the first vehicles to travel this route. It's narrow and curvy and shadowed by huge firs and maples along the way, though very well kept up for the modern travelers.

 On the Washington side we cruised into White Salmon, a quaint little town right across the river from Hood River. I love this old Catholic Church.

And last, this photo shows why we can never drive our 5th wheel on this highway, the one on the Washington side! At 13 feet 9 inches we'd lose part of our roof. There were 4 or 5 tunnels bored through the rock walls at river's edge, some lower than this 13 foot 6 inch one.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Five Mountains

 We'd heard about a drive that would take us to a lookout point where we could see 5 mountains, so when we saw the day would be sunny and fairly clear, we headed out to the road to Larch Mountain, up the Gorge a ways. This picturesque bridge is just east of Troutdale, the "Gateway to the Columbia River Gorge".

  The highway took us through some incredibly huge trees, if not "old" growth, at least quite old. I didn't have anything for comparison so in the picture you can't really see how big this tree is. I was impressed! There were lots of trees this gigantic, and in some places the forest was so thick and dark it almost looked like evening, though we were making our trip in the brightest morning light.

The highway ended at the top of Larch Mountain, an old volcanic crater. I had been looking for larches (tamaracs) all the way up but didn't see any. When I read the sign at the top it said the old-time loggers had actually cut down Noble firs and claimed they were larches, fooling the mill operators, because the larch tree was more profitable. What a trick! So, there were no larches up here, ever! After parking the car we headed up a pretty trail composed mostly of old railroad ties.

The clouds did not co-operate entirely, but we did see 4 mountains. Mt. Hood to the south was a gorgeous sight and was, of course, the closest. Mt. Jefferson appeared a little further on, at least the tippy top of it.

To the north we saw the tips of Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens. Mt. Rainier was nowhere to be seen, but we knew it was there!

The lookout platform on Larch Mountain is 4056 feet high. It was a fairly steep drive up from the river, about 25 miles from our park. We will definitely need to come back here on a cloudless day, but that may not happen any time soon. The snow will come, making the road as well as the trail up difficult to travel. We are so glad we were able to see this beautiful place and our breathtaking mountains on this lovely fall day.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fairview RV Park

I took a walk in the park the other day. The park is so huge, 407 sites, that a person could get lost, or at least get quite a bit of exercise! These scenes are just below the upper level where our rig is parked. The fall colors are beautiful.

This little cabin is used to house exercise equipment for the campers. There is a pretty pond beside it, to the right in the picture, with a table and bench.

And here is the pond. The fountain is running continuously. I wonder if it gets cold enough here for the spray to freeze.

The pond comes complete with ducks! Hence the sign in the first picture. I'm imagining that in the spring and summer there are lots of ducks and ducklings and maybe some geese. Today there were only these 2 mallard couples swimming around. They were quite friendly! City ducks used to being fed, I'm surmising.

The park has 4 levels. The first level has the entrance, the office, the swimming pool, laundry, restrooms, meeting room, and is where the off-season overnight campers are put. Heading back up the hill from the pond (it was a short walk after all!) I pass the second level where these long-termers are staying. The spaces are neat and well kept and the RVs are newer models, the park standard.

Time to go back home, the end of my walk — climbing the incline to the first level where we are parked. That's my 'house' showing through the trees! I have decided that on the next sunny day I will take my iPad and maybe some duck food and sit by the pond. I hope my feathered friends will be there!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Brothers! And Portland!

 We knew that when we accepted a job at the Portland/Fairview RV Park we'd be near some relatives and some old friends. Mr. Keith's brother Ron and his wife Carrie live in Alaska, but their daughter and family live in the Portland area. Since Ron's son works for Alaska Airlines, Ron and wife can fly for free anytime they want to, so...they frequently come to Portland. The whole tribe came over the other night and the brothers had a happy reunion. I've enjoyed watching them together over the years. When Keith and I married 18 years ago, Keith and Ron (Ron is the big brother) had not seen each other for 30 years. I nagged about a phone call till Keith did it, and since then the brothers have seen each other several times. It is always a joyous occasion! This night the family brought in dinner, since I was on duty, and we all had a great time eating and visiting. We will get to do that again!

 On a different note — Keith's maintenance pill for his cancer, though keeping the disease at bay, can also cause white blood counts and red blood counts to go below where they should be. Sometimes he needs a boost to get him back to normal, so his doctor scheduled a blood transfusion at the Portland Good Samaritan Hospital, on a Sunday. While I waited during the 5 hour process I walked around a little, looking for photo opportunities. The entire complex is tall, red brick, lots of glass, and is located between narrow streets in Old Town. It is very beautiful. I was especially intrigued (in-tree-ged!) by the vine and Japanese maples planted lovingly between the buildings, with benches here and there for resting and meditating. Most of the trees were changing color and offered a lovely respite from the waiting time.

Another view from the sidewalk. The hospital and other medical offices are constructed mostly of glass windows, so each one reflected the buildings across the street. I thought it was all very beautiful. I did enjoy my exploration, while Mr. Keith was plugged in and napping. He finished his session feeling much more energized, and we drove home, not by the freeways, but through the downtown, and decided we would return soon and really explore this lovely city on the Willamette River. I can already see that there will be much fodder for my blog!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Company and Sights to See!

 We've only been at the Portland/Fairview RV Park for barely 2 weeks and have already been blessed with 2 sets of company, each for several days. John and Sue, fellow workampers, came in their 5th wheel to see the Columbia River Gorge, and us, too! We went to dinner at a quaint old restaurant at the beginning of the Old Columbia River Highway called "Tippy Canoe", and we took some photos out side where there a bunch of inflatable Halloween displays. We've worked with John and Sue, native Floridians, at the Denver East/Strasburg KOA and the Cheyenne KOA. They had never been to Washington or Oregon.

 This is the breathtaking view of the Gorge from the Vista House. The weather in the Pacific Northwest has been beautiful and sunny, great for sightseeing. An added bonus for us — fall colors! I was so thankful that on John and Sue's first visit here they got sunshine!

 A couple of days after John and Sue left, our close friends of many years came for a 2 day visit. Once again we drove up to the Vista House, built in 1918. It was incredibly windy on this day, so much so that we could barely stand up straight. The day and the view were both gorgeous.

 I had been past Multnomah Falls many times and had stopped at the Lodge, but had never climbed up to the bridge. We decided amongst us that today would be the day. Here Dawn, Ted and Keith and I are approaching the trail. Even though it is the autumn season and tourists are not so plentiful, there were still lots of people there.

 A closeup of the beautiful falls and the bridge. From Wikipedia,  "Multnomah Falls, 620 feet, is the tallest waterfall in the state of Oregon. It is credited by a sign at the site of the falls, and by the United States Forest Service, as the second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States." There are clear pools at the bottom of each tier inviting waders. I imagine that wading is not allowed, due to the very large numbers of tourists who come here.

 Mr. Keith stayed below so he could get a picture of the three of us on the bridge. The whole area is an awesome sight with moss covered cliffs, huge trees and clear streams. I read that the bridge was built in 1914. Had we continued on up the other side we'd have come out at the top of the falls. No one felt like attempting that much steeper climb today!

 Driving on, we had a little argument. I said there were no more falls and Mr. Keith said, yes, there were. Well, he won when we came upon this lovely spot, Horsetail Falls, right at the side of the highway. It's hard to be wrong, but so worth it when we got to see this beauty!

 Mr. Keith has a silly obsession — he likes to find "doodoos". Here he is yelling "doodoodooo" into this old restored tunnel. It was formerly part of the old highway. 

While Keith was investigating the tunnel, Ted climbed up to explore this cave in the side of the cliff. We had a wonderful day, full of fun, full of wonderful things to see. We won't soon forget our travels up the Columbia River Gorge!