Saturday, June 29, 2013

Castle Rock to Issaquah

After watching the somewhat amazing end to stage one of the Tour de France, we departed Castle Rock and headed north to Issaquah.  Fortunately we got diesel in Centralia.  The other option would have been Federal Way.  We discarded that idea since it's such a built up and congested area.  Holy moly were we happy about that decision.  The backup started about 2 miles before the exit we would have taken for fuel.  See the semi up ahead?  No one would let him in, so he just wedged himself into the line of cars, at one point blocking 3 lanes of traffic on the interstate.  The backup was due to half of Puget Sound wanting to go to the Wild Waves water park since we are having a heat wave (mid 80's).

This is south bound, queuing for the same exit.  The backup went on for miles.  Why would you do that?  Go somewhere else.

Once we arrived at the Issaquah RV park, we got power on the bus so we could run the air conditioning.  Then we went out and bought a pair of pruning shears to trim the Laurel so we could open the forward passenger side slide.  I do not understand why parks put in giant plants close to RV sites.  We took off about 4 tall kitchen trash bags of foliage.

Two more mouse poops have been discovered in a storage bay.  The little bastards are avoiding the sticky traps.  We did construct a rat guard for the sewer hose, which we should have done weeks ago but didn't.  So, we've either trapped him inside the bus, or maybe he left and there won't be anymore mouse poops. 
It's surreal being back here.  I think it's the fact that May is gone, but here we are. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Leaving Harrisburg, Arriving Castle Rock

Oy!  It's been a day!  Again!  We left RVGlass this morning and headed back to the RV park to dump the tanks.  Then we returned to Elite RV for debugging the key fob that would not work.  It turned out to be a loose wire on a mini-breaker and the entry door actuator contacts were being pushed sideways when the door closed, thus hitting the door frame and causing a dead short.  Stuff like this is just a bear to diagnose.  Each and every bay door has an actuator.  Each is a potential short.  There are 8 bays and an entry door, which gives us n! possible permutations of error states where n=9.
Erik finished at noon, and we decided to head north.  It was too late in the day to make Seattle.  First we thought we would stay in Woodland, but a car show there had sucked up every RV slot in town.  So we're at Toutle River RV park in Castle Rock.  It's an ok park, except for the train that frequently runs by the perimeter. 
Traffic through Portland was a bear.  The GPS was showing a 3 hour delay if we stayed on I5, so we went up 205.  It wasn't as bad, but it was bad enough.  Traveling on the Friday before July 4 may not have been the best decision, but we really wanted to be on our way.

Tomorrow we will be in Issaquah, where we will stay for at least the month of July.  August is squishy, it depends on what kind of weather we get.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Windshield Replacement

Today's early start had us driving from Harrisburg to Coburg to the site of the old Monaco plant.  It's just sad to all those buildings empty.  The loss of 3,000 jobs was just devastating to the local economy.  Coburg has tried to reinvent themselves as an antique area.  It's just cute, cuter than a bug.
We read in the newspaper today that a Canadian company has bought part of the plant and will be making extruded aluminum there.  So, some payroll will come back to the area.  This is a way cute little house in Coburg.
We visited RV Glass Solutions for a new windshield.  The owner bought the Monaco admin building in 2008 and got a screaming deal on it after Monaco went out of business.  They have been able to consolidate their nationwide operations and have space left over.  They love the facility because they're inside and it's well lighted and spacious.

When Monaco was in business, RVGlass supplied and installed their windshields.

Here is 150 pounds of glass being taken to the RV.

Placing the glass into the seal.

Pulling the seal up onto the glass.  It took about two minutes to get the seal back over the glass.  We learned that the glass does not contact the RV, it sits away from the body of the bus in that seal.  That allows the bus to flex while going down the road without breaking the glass.  It's a one piece windshield, and it's just enormous.

We had an excellent example of failure to communicate with the glass people.  They said we needed to have the bus in at 0800 hours so that it would have time to sit for four hours without moving.  We thought we heard that after the four hours we could take it back to the RV park.  Actually, what was meant was it had to sit for four hours, and then we would sleep in the parking lot while the sealing materials finished curing.  The tech said we could put the slides out, but not to level the bus because it twists the frame.  So, if you are having your windshield replaced, please make a note of this.
All of the early getting up and being homeless is making us tired.  We're back at Elite tomorrow to see if the mystery of key fob that will not work can be unraveled. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Kaiser Brake and Alignment

Oy!  It has been a day!  We took the bus in to Kaiser for what we thought would be a simple alignment check and repacking the front wheel bearings.
No, no, no.  Today was not to be so simple.  We ended up with four new brake drums, new drive axle wheel bearings (in the back), new front wheel bearings, and a partridge in a pear tree.  We now have special front brake drums, as of this morning there were 10 of them available in the continental US. Now there are 8.  The ones we have are from China, but they're discontinued.  After the 8 are gone, brake shops will have to switch back to the US made version which cost twice as much.   Sort of an interesting data point, that.  Anyway, the back drums were "heavily heat checked", meaning they have been very hot very often.  That is bad.  The front drums were also heat checked, but not to the same extent.  So, many dollars later, the brakes are in order.
Note the jacks under the bus.  I hate seeing that.

While the bus was undergoing treatment, we went to see the new Star Trek movie, Into Darkness.  I was very disappointed in the movie.  Since I'm tired, I think I shall hold off on a full blown movie review, but essentially, it is the THIRD telling of the Wrath of Khan.  Enough!  Enough of the Wrath of Khan.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Repairs to the Hydro-Hot and the Key Fob Mystery Deepens

We took the RV back to Elite today with the inappropriately peeing Hydro-Hot and the key fob that won't unlock or lock anything.  We thought the Hydro-Hot was going to be the big deal, but we were wrong.  First, here is an update on the major RV reno they've been doing for the past few months.
Here is the entry way.  The entire thing is Corian with understep lighting.  It that sexy or what?

They had the chairs reupholstered, and they are lovely.

Look at the backsplash, is that not lovely?  It's a combination of glass tile and ceramic tiles.

The new computing area.  The diagonal shelf thingy is a tray that pulls out for a keyboard.

This is what failed in the Hydro-Hot.  140 degree (F) water was flowing through the plastic fitting.  See the left side of the plastic doo-dah?  That's what died.  Eric replaced it with braided metal, so that will not fail anymore.  That was not a major issue.

OK then, back to the keyless entry/fob failure.  As I have previously reported, the keyless entry pad is possessed.  Apparently the sun has fried the entire works.  It's in-op and will remain so.  Erik spent quite a bit of time looking at the relays, taking the dash apart, and trying to figure out what the hell?  He did rewire so that the keypad is bypassed.  When we left the shop tonight Erik said he would try to order a new brain for the entire system.  THEN, after we left he went out and had a beer with some of his Monaco buds and spent about an hour talking about why the key fob won't work.  They advanced a theory that perhaps the actuator in the door is shorting out.  He called us at 8:00 to see if we could get the bus back in tomorrow.  So, that will be his next line of investigation.  I can not tell you how rare it is to find someone that takes this much interest in figuring out why something on the RV is not working.  It may not be fixable, but Elite is certainly giving it their best shot.
In other news, the weather here is abysmal.  It rained pretty much all day.

Monday, June 24, 2013

MCD Shades and Flowers

We spent today at Davis Cabinets. Their shop does legendary cabinet work for RVs.  If you want wood work done, this is the place.  They also do MCD shades.  We had all of our ugly, tatty, crooked pleated shades replaced today.  They look so good, and they are so easy to raise and lower.

After.  The black layer is the day shade.  The white shade is the total light blocking shade.  Better!  So much better!

While waiting for things to be done, we went out and looked at the wild flowers that grow along the railroad tracks.  This is a thistle.

What is that that yellow thing in the middle of the photo?

A bumblebee on the wing looking at a wild sweet pea.


Tomorrow we will be leaving the RV with Elite RV so they can diagnose and repair the Hydro-Hot which is peeing water on the ground. The timing has worked out well for us to get the RV in for fixing.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Driving From Bend to Harrisburg

We left Bend this morning to return to Harrisburg.  Today's route was 20 to 22 to 226 over to Albany, and from there down I5.  It's a much better route than 20 over to Sweet Home.  It's a pleasant drive.  Here is a body of water whose name escapes me.

Much of 226 looks like this.

We're having an RV nadir today.  I think that's an appropriate use of the word.  Anyway, upon arriving at the RV park, we noticed that the Hydro-Hot was peeing water on the ground.  We called Ken, who told us we've blown a seal somewhere.  It's not dire, but it does need to be fixed.  We're going to need a certified H-H technician to do it.  The end of the maintenance tunnel is not yet here. 
On the bright side, it's warmer here, on the western side of the mountains, than it was in Bend.  That's not supposed to happen.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Final Day in Bend

After several days of gruesome weather, we got a good day.  We headed out to Phil's and rode some trails.  This was taken out at the Lair.  The kid was there with his Dad.  It was so cool, Dad was coaching the kid on where to pick up speed so that he could make all the jumps.  Dad was very nice and we enjoyed talking to him.  The kid is doing these jumps on a fully rigid bike.

We're leaving in the morning.  We're going back to the Coburg area for the MCD shades, a new windshield and having the wheel bearings packed.  Then, and only then, will we be able to leave Oregon.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Lava Lands

It was cold again today.  We thought about riding, but decided we'd go back to the Benham trail head and hike another section of the the Deschutes River trail.  First, we went to the visitor's center, where we received a ticket that would allow us to drive up Lava Butte.  We spent some time at the looking at the displays which we really interesting.  We had no idea of the extent of the volcanic features around here.  There are 400 cinder cones in the area.  Lava Butte is a cinder cone.

This a Golden Mantled Chipmunk.  They are so cute. He ran down the path in front of us, ever so often he would stop and look at us as if expecting food for cute.

See the V shaped notch?  That's where lava punched out of the side of the cinder cone and flowed out.  The photo does not do it justice.

Here is an image from the web, you can see where lava exited the side of the cone and flowed out.  This happened 7,000 years ago. 

 Tree growing in lava.  See all of the little rolling hills in the distance?  Cinder cones.

This is the top of Lava Butte.  
After looking at the scale map of the area, we decided to drive down to Newberry Crater.  We stopped at the giant obsidian flow. This occurred 1,300 years ago when the Newberry volcano erupted, throwing out 170 million cubic yards of obsidian and pumice.  There are many trails in the area that one can hike to look at the two lakes and the flow and the scenery.  Unfortunately, we hadn't planned to go there and had not dressed for the 46 degree temperatures.  It was really cold!  This is the edge of the flow.

This is a pretty cool area, there's a lot to go look at.  Until going in the visitor's center, we had no idea of the scope of the volcanic activity in the area.  If you're in Bend, you should go.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Shopping, Rain, HRM Problem Resolution

This is day TWO of crappy weather.  The climate in Bend in June is flaky.  The first couple of days we were here it was in the 80's, today's high was 58 and it rained off and on all day.  The weather must improve.  We've had two days of walking around shopping areas by way of entertaining ourselves.  This is not good.
Here we have REI in the Old Mill District.  This area used to be a lumber mill, now it is upscale shopping, restaurants and movie theaters.  The hiking boots I bought at REI went back yesterday.  Gortex lined hikers are just too hot for Tucson. In their stead, I ordered up two pair off the internet.  We'll see.

Today we hit the Columbia Outlet store at the Bend Factory Stores mall.  This is a great store, really good prices.  I am wearing my new t shirt and my new capris.  Right after I took the picture I put my flannel pants and sweat shirt back on.  Someday, somewhere, it will be warm again.

We called Garmin yesterday about the heart rate monitors.  We learned that each watch must be paired with a chest strap.  There is a significant number of button pushes on the watch to make this happen, sort of like pairing a blue tooth phone to your car.  Nowhere is this fact called out in the manual that comes with the HRM.  The person on the phone was quire knowledgeable and very pleasant.  We haven't tried them yet, since it's been raining ever since, but hopefully we'll be able to used them at the same time.  It's good that we called instead of returning them to REI.
Tomorrow morning we're having new slide toppers installed on the bus.  The current crop have been on there since 2006 and they're getting thin from all the UV exposure.  They keep the sun off the slide seals running across the top of the slide, so they're a good thing to have.
Other than this pitiful posting, I have zippity-doo-dah all to report.

Monday, June 17, 2013

HRM Aggravation and a MTB Ride

Today was fraught with aggravation.  Fraught, I say!  My ancient heart rate monitor needed to be replaced since it showed me as being dead about 20% of the time when I was wearing it.  Jim recently bought a Garmin FR70 which he liked very much.  So yesterday I bought one at REI.  Today we both put them on and they didn't work.  Jim's worked last time we rode, WTH?   Our theory is that they can't be close to each other because each watch tries to receive from the other sending unit and gets confused.  Once Jim took off his sending unit, mine worked fine.  I'm not happy about this, and it seems to be unduly stupid.  So anyway, during the course of trying to trouble shoot/debug the issue, we changed chest straps to see if it helped (no).  As I rolled up my jersey, my camera fell out of my jersey pocket.  We continued out to Benham falls with no camera, because I didn't realize it was missing.  So, no pictures of the falls for you.  I wouldn't call them falls, they're more like big rapids.
After returning to the pickup to put Jim's chest strap in the vehicle, I realized the camera was gone, and Jim figured out where it had to be, and went back and lo and behold it was in the grass, undamaged.
We headed out the Deschutes River trail towards Sunriver.  To get there, go to the parking lot at the end of the pavement, immediately look left and there is the trail entrance.  Go up a little rise and you are on your way.  On the way back (it's out and back), look right just before going down that little rise, and notice the sign for the Visitor's Center which is 4.5 miles away.  That is also a nice trail, and we did that as well.
This is where the trail crosses the railroad.   That is a steep little push up.  I was a girl and Jim came back and pushed my bike for me.

The trail goes along about 3 miles of lava flow.  It's pretty dang impressive.  If I were a better blogger, I'd find out when the volcanic eruptions stopped, but so far I have not discovered that information.  There are slightly more rocks and some climbing, but nothing serious.  After you arrive at the visitor's center, you can return to the parking area via the road.  We got a total of 17 miles, which was enough!

We saw this when we returned to the park.  That's an ancient Mini Cooper with right hand drive.  That car is so cute it hurts me.

We got mail today for the first time since Bishop.  I hate when mail accumulates.  It's amazing to me how much paper the American healthcare system generates.  Time will be spent on the phones tomorrow.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Day in Bend

The economy appears to be picking up in Bend. Traffic volumes are certainly on the rise, as is construction.  Bend started off life as a mill town.  After all the trees were logged and the sawmills closed, the town fell upon very hard times.  However, the city reinvented itself as a haven for sports tourism.  There are snow sports in the winter.  Bend is a MTB mecca, as well as a golfing and fishing destination. They were not unscathed by the recent economic troubles.  This is from Wikipedia.
  • Median home prices in the Bend MSA increased by over 80% in the 2001–05 period.
    In June 2006, Money magazine named the Bend MSA the fifth most overpriced real estate market in the United States. By September 2006, the Bend metro area ranked second in the list of most overpriced housing markets, and in June 2007 it was named the most overpriced housing market in America.
    The 2008–09 housing downturn had a strong effect on Bend's housing and economic situation. According to the Seattle Times, single-family home prices dropped more than 40 percent from a peak of $396,000 in May 2007 to $221,000 in March 2009.
This is our fourth year to be here in June.  During all of those years there were several failed subdivisions that were never under construction.  This year, however, there is much building going on in the area around Crown Villa.

We took today off to allow the feet to rest.  We went down to the Old Mill District to go to REI.  Did I mention there's no sales tax in Oregon?  We bought lights for when we bike through the tunnels on the Trail of the Hiawatha.  I bought a pair of Lowa boots that will probably go back.  They were on sale, and I might keep them, but I doubt it. 
Anyway.... on the way in to the shopping area, we drove by a big retaining wall made of boulders, with a grass strip at the base.  In the grass were about 6 or 7 marmots, laying on their stomachs shoveling grass into their mouths.  They were so cute it hurt me.  Traffic conditions precluded my jumping out of the truck for a picture, unfortunately. 
However, there were more marmots in the retaining wall surrounding the parking lot.  The is a young marmot.

This is an adult marmot.

They are not terribly afraid of people.

We shopped, had lunch, and took a brief walk along the river.  It was very pleasant.  There is much retail and many restaurants available.  After a trip to the grocery store we returned to the bus. 
This is one of the Prevosts that's making us feel poor.  He washed his RV and was in the process of drying it when we had a sudden mix of rain and hail.  It's his fault.  There's another Prevost on the other side of the Newmar that's also next to us.  We're surprised they're all not up in the Platinum sites.

It was a nice day.  Tomorrow we're going to go back to the Deschutes River Trail to ride.                                                                                       

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Deschutes River Trail

We decided a hike would be in order for the day.  It's aggravating to me, since I am a post-menopausal, small boned woman; that bicycling does not contribute one little bit to maintaining bone mass.  Weight bearing must be performed.  We drove down to the Benham East Trailhead which is not that far south of Bend.  This puts you on the Deschutes River trail.  We walked south towards Sunriver since the northerly direction was full of kids on bikes with their parents.  The trail goes north as far as Bend.
Here we have people fishing.

The Deschutes River. 

 There is much volcanic rock along its banks.

The trail is relatively flat, and there are not that many rocks.  It is an excellent trail for the novice, or kids, or people who have to keep their heart rates down.

We did not expect to see anyone on a unicycle.

We ended up walking 7 miles, which might have been a tad excessive, since we've not been doing much of anything over the last six weeks.  I blistered the ball of my left foot, poor me.  Afterwards we went to the Newport Market, which is a very expensive upscale grocery store.  I wrote about it last year in this post. We went with the idea of obtaining red meat, but they're charging $29.99 a pound for choice.  No way!  Looks like we'll be going back to Costco.
While we were gone a Prevost and a Newmar came into the RV park, they're making us feel poor.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Slide Maintenance, Weather and Phil's

Wednesday was cold and overcast.  It never made it in to the 60s.  Jim spent much of the day doing RV maintenance.  If you have slides, you should be waxing the sides of the slide boxes frequently.  The more slippery they are, the better it is for your slide gaskets.

On an annual basis, slide gaskets should be treated with rubber seal treatment.  This is what we're using, but there are many on the market.  Take care of those slides, and they will take care of you.

Yesterday it rained off and on all day.  It was cold, as well.  I was forced to wear long pants and shoes.  McMinnville, which is not that far from here, had a tornado.  This is unheard of in Oregon.  It was a cold column funnel, which formed from the ground up.  There was no radar warning.  Remarkably, no one was hurt. After a totally yukky day, it cleared up in the late afternoon.

Today we rode out toward the Lair.  There were three kids riding around in the jump park.  I asked if any of them would be up in the air.  One replied "not me!"  This little guy went and rode a black section and was about 5 feet in the air.  It's really cool to see kids out on their own.  Unfortunately, I missed the shot of him in the air.  That is definitely the age at which one should start this kind of riding.  I am too aware of my own mortality.

Today's new trail was riding KGB up from the chicken to where it intersects with Ben's.  It would be much more fun in the opposite direction.  It's steep.  I, of course, had to walk most of it which is just so tedious.  Jim was able to make it all the way up.
I think we're going to consult the map for a road ride this weekend.  Last year Phil's was chock full of kids all Father's Day weekend.  Maybe we'll hike Smith Rock, the Misery Ridge trail is always fun.