Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Out and About in the Portland Area

We’ve been moving about the area.  Here is a high level review of places we’ve been. 

This is The Grotto.  It’s a Catholic sanctuary and home of the Servite Friars.  We went there thinking that we would be able to walk to the top of the cliffs where the gardens are.  Unfortunately, one must take the elevator because there is no walking path to the top. 

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It’s moderately interesting, but it was ultimately sub-optimal due to lack of exercise potential.  The gardens are lovely, and it’s a nice place for a stroll.

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We went out to check out the Sandy River Delta off leash dog park.  It’s also open to biking.  A careful examination of several ill-behaved dogs convinced us that riding out there would be a terrible idea.  If you have a dog, it’s dog nirvana.  For non-dog hiking or biking, I’d give it a pass.

This irritates the crap out of me.  People pick the dog poop, but then leave the bags by the side of the trail.  Do they think the poop fairy is going to come and pick it up?

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There was a drive out to Troutdale.  It’s the gateway to the Gorge on historic Highway 30.  It’s a pretty drive.  This is a one lane bridge.  Troutdale itself is just determinedly cute.  Totally foo-foo.

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There are also opportunities for gourmet dining along the way.  Unfortunately I think Tad’s is not open any longer.

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However, there is Shirley’s Tippy Canoe.

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So, our first few forays were sub-optimal.  Today, however, exceeded expectations.

We visited the Powell Butte Nature Park.  It’s a stunning park developed on a cinder cone.  It’s also a huge part of the Portland water supply.  The Bull Run river is dammed at a higher elevation than the park.  There are two 50 million gallon reservoirs underground in the butte.  They are higher than Portland and lower than the dam.  So, water comes from the river, or from the Columbia South Shore Well Field.  Then gravity takes it into the city.

Remember “the hills are alive with the sound of music”?  That’s what the top of the butte reminds me of.  The flower fields are just amazing.

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This young man was with two other photographers who were lugging around a large format camera on a tripod.  I was intent on the flowers and didn’t see him in the frame.  It’s an interesting photo because he’s in it.  Notice the flowers, and how tall they are.  When they grow in the woods they are much shorter.

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See what I mean?  The hills are alive!

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I don’t know what these are.  They’re on a flat growing vine.

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So there are trails out in the open.  There are also wooded trails going down the backside of the butte.

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Portland has a rich aviation history.  In 1978 United Airlines 173 crashed in the area of 158th and Burnside.  The plane had a landing gear light illuminated.  The pilot became fixated on the light and started flying circles over PDX.  Because the pilot was fixated on the light, and because the pilot was not accepting input from the cockpit crew, the plane circled until it ran out of fuel.  This accident led to the institution of the crew concept, in which the pilot is no longer infallible, but is a team member who accepts input from the crew.  This is where the plane went down.

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This is the Troutdale Airport.  It’s tiny.  In 1962 a United Airlines plane landed there instead of PDX.  Despite the air traffic controllers telling the pilots they were heading for the wrong airport they pressed on.  They were able to get the plane down with no damage.  The next day United took all of the seats out of the plane to make it light enough to take off from the short runway, and the pilots flew it to PDX.  Then they were fired.

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There has also been shopping!  The Clackamas Town Center REI yielded two pair of hiking boots for Jim.  Today we went to the Columbia Sportswear Outlet Center at Historic Sellwood.  Sellwood is also just cuter than a bug.  It’s like a tiny village within Portland.  No sales tax!  Yay!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Trip into Portland

Yesterday we took Max (the light rail) into Portland.  It used to be that you could actually drive into the city and park, but those days are over!  Too many people, too many cars.  Thursday convinced us that one should never do that.  Ever!  Especially in a pickup truck on narrow streets, further narrowed by constuction barriers.

It takes a lot of optimism to open a swim wear boutique in the GPNW.  I do like their signage, however.

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There are a lot of construction cranes in the Pearl District. Pearl is part of the wave of gentrification and hipsterization of Portland.  W. Kamau Bell has a show on CNN.  I think it’s “The United Shades of America.”  He was interviewing African Americans who have been displaced by the changes in Portland.  Apparently it can be a difficult place to live for people who are non-white.

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This is what they’re building.  This particular unit is about $1.5M.  But wait, that’s only the start.

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Look at the taxes and HOA fees.  Those two charges are guaranteed to never go down, only up. 

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This is interesting.  See the floor joists?  They’re wood.  I did not think high rise structures were still built using wood due to concerns with fire.  Apparently I was wrong.

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So life in the Pearl district is very vibrant.  Foo-foo home decorating stores abound.  There are bars and restaurants with outdoor seating everywhere.  This dog did not look very happy.  He’s underneath his owner’s chair.  Just to the right is a walkway, when people would approach the walkway, he would back up.

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It’s a pleasant aspect.

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We walked down to Union Station.  The last time we were here it was being renovated.  We were surprised at how much rail service is still available to Portland.  The Amtrak Cascades, Empire Builder and Coast Starlight still come here.

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After walking through Union Station we made the mistake of sitting in front of the Greyhound station to wait for our Max light rail to arrive.  It’s a dystopian part of Portland where the poor and mentally challenged congregate on the sidewalk.  An older man in a wheelchair sat dozing.  Periodically something would bring him to attention and he would start stomping his feet, yelling and pulling at his clothing.  We could not understand what he was saying except for the phrase that starts with mother and ends with er.  He was alone, I wonder where he sleeps, how does he get there?  How does he deal with personal hygiene issues by himself.  The Greyhound station and the Pearl district really demonstrate the dichotomy that is developing in Portland.

Today there is a Gay Pride event in the Pearl District.  We thought about going, but have decided that we don’t want to be in crowds that large.  While the sun is not out, at least it isn’t raining on their parade.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Note to Future Self

It started raining last night about midnight.  It has rained virtually without stopping since then.  In most places it rains and then it stops.  In the GPNW it can do this for days.  In 1999, it rained for 93 days straight.  I forget what year it was, but there was also the “bummer summer” when it was overcast every single day.

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Who has an exit plan from the RV life?  We keep searching for the final resting place for when we are too old to do this, but every place has a significant drawback. 

  • Arizona.  Too hot in the summer for three months.  State income tax, high property taxes, high vehicle license fees.  Nutbag politicians.
  • Washington.  It rains 8 or 9 months a year.  No state income tax.  Property values are increasing at the highest rate in the country.  It may be moot, we’re probably priced out at this point.
  • Oregon. Same weather as Seattle, same issue with property values.  They do have state income tax, but no sales tax.
  • Texas.  Too hot in the summer.  No state income tax, but really high property taxes.  Nutbag politicians.
  • California.  Costs too much on all fronts.

I’m writing this post as a reminder to my future self about how much I hate this weather!  I really really hate it when it rains for days on end.  We keep telling ourselves it wouldn’t be so bad if we were in a house, but I have to wonder about that.  Or if we’re really old and rickety, we wouldn’t get out much anyway, so would incessant rain really be an issue? 

Looking at the list, the GPNW seems to take itself out of the running because it has three bad seasons, instead of one.  Arizona and Texas are sort of indistinguishable, except for Texas is more humid. 

If you don’t mind me asking, what are you all thinking about doing when the keys must be hung up?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Pendleton to Portland, OR

From Pendleton to Portland is a freeway drive on I84.  We took exit 17 off I84 and then drove down Marine Drive to the RV park.  It’s a 13 mile drive along the river and is a much more pleasant route than driving through Portland traffic. 

The drive down the Columbia River is so gorgeous.   It would be more gorgeous if the sun had been shining, but it was not.  We’re in the midst of June Gloom.  This is a grain terminal along the river.

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Water is being released at the John Day dam.

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A railroad bridge over the river.

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We’re in Portland until June 25.  Tomorrow we’re up and out to get the oil in the truck changed.  It’s supposed to rain tomorrow and Friday, so we’ll have to find something to do with ourselves.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Boise to Pendleton, OR

It was WINDY today.  We left anyway because we're schedule driven.  It wasn't so bad that it was dangerous, but it was definitely noticeable.  Jim had to steer a lot.  The whole drive is on I84.  It's very agricultural out there.

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This is an abandoned concrete plant.

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Just up the road is the new one.  Today I noticed that raw material is being removed from this hill side.  Then it is put in the pipe that feeds the new concrete plant.

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It's an enormous thing, complete with their own rail spur.

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There is some up and down, and a few curves, but it's not a torturous route.  Just before Pendleton there are a series of signs warning of the upcoming descent.

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It's impressive.  Here we are looking out into space.  I think I can see the curvature of the earth.

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More of the downhill.

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We're back at the Wild Horse Casino which I have previously reviewed.  Nothing much has changed in the interim.  Tomorrow we are moving on to Portland.  There are things to be accomplished there, such as a new windshield for the truck, and an oil change for the truck.  Every time we start the engine it displays the "please change oil soon" message.  It's time.

Did you know the North Sea oil fields are running out of oil?  There's a new business opportunity in dismantling the drilling platforms.  NYT did an interesting piece on the whole endeavor.  It's a lot of words, but it's worth a read.

Back to Boise

Sunday we left Ketchum and returned to Boise.  It's a mainly pleasant drive.

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There is scenery.

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There are hilly looking things.

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Upon our return to Boise the weather just tanked.  It was cold and Monday it rained.  We had planned to have the windshield in the truck replaced Monday afternoon, but decided the weather was just too iffy to have it done in the RV park.

I saw the ENT on Monday morning.  The ear looks really good.  It's dry and there is no inflammation.  The pile of anti-fungal/steroid/drying agent powder is still sitting on top of the eardrum perforation, so it's not possible to see if it's any smaller or not.  In time, the power will detach and then all will be revealed.  It appears that my new world order will include showering with a dixie cup over my ear, since it seems that two phase water repelling is required.  The earplug lets a little water in, and with my wretched ear, that's a bad thing.

Next up is a trip to Portland.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Meadows RV Park and Ketchum

While we were in Ketchum, we stayed at the Meadows RV Park.  If you’re going to stay in an RV park in the area, this is what there is.

Here’s the good.  It’s a nice location.  We’re close to Ketchum, but not in the foo-foo part of town.  There is a direct connection to the Wood River Trail.  The trail is a beautiful thing, it goes from Hailey to Hulen Meadows.  As it passes through Ketchum, there are stop signs, but overall, it’s just lovely.

Power is good, water pressure is good.  We had 4 bars of Verizon 4G, although some days it was like watching paint dry.  Laundry is ok, there are 3 washers and 3 dryers.  No data on restrooms or showers.  Our site was fairly level, we could have gone without doing anything to level.

It was not busy while we were here.

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The bad is that the sites are side by sides.  We were on site 34 which is a good one.  No one parks on our door side.  The Lifestyle on our driver’s side has to share his patch of grass with the door side of another RV.  The WORST part of the park layout is the location of the sewers.  We faced ID75, and our sewer was at the back of the site.  The sewer for the site sharing our power pole is in the front of that site (because the two sewers are next to each other).  If we were on the site where the Lifestyle is, I don’t think we own enough hose to reach the sewer. 

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Here you can see the side by side configuration.

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This problem is specific to site 34 and our RV.  See that thing in the middle of the photo? I don’t know what it is, but 34 is the only site that has one of these.  Notice the location of the hose bib.  We had to move pretty far to the right of the site in order to open the storage bays on the big slide.  If you don’t have this slide/bay door configuration, it’s not an issue.

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Ketchum is expensive.  If you’re coming here, shop somewhere else first.  I offer into evidence the following.  Here is olive oil in the Village Market in Ketchum.  $19.99 for 750 ml.

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Here is the exact same product in the Hailey Albertson’s.  $11.99 on sale for 750 ml.  Hailey is more expensive than Tucson, but the Village Market is just ridiculous.  It can’t be blamed on transportation costs, since the two towns are only separated by eleven miles.  By the way, we really like this olive oil.

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We saw this list of brands carried by one of the boutiques in Ketchum.  Nothing says disposable income like this list of names.

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Atkinson’s Market is a very nice upscale grocery store, also in Ketchum.  They have a huge wine selection, and more soup that we’ve ever seen in a grocery store.  They also carry fresh food for the beloved pet dogs.

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Real estate prices are high.  Ketchum is already seeing problems with teachers, nurses and service industry people not being able to live where they work.  Hiring is becoming difficult because of this.  Ketchum has land upon which they could build affordable housing, but instead they choose to convert the land to parking lots.  The local paper is fairly up in arms about this state of affairs.

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We liked Ketchum.  Since we do not boondock due to our inability to manage water usage, we would come back to this RV park, if and only if we could get a site with the sewer in the back of the site.  If you’re coming in the spring or early summer, please make a note of how much snow fell during the winter as that will determine what’s under water and what’s not.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Forest Road 142

In my last post, I talked about this lovely stretch of trail, suitable for riding without maiming.  We did find the other end of it.  It’s in Hulen Meadows.  Drive into the neighborhood, go to the four way stop, turn right, go to the end.  The trail begins there.  Pay no attention to the private drive sign.  It is a lovely trail, but it’s too short.

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At about 2 or 3 miles down the trail, one encounters this.  There are people who can ride this, but I am not one of them.  Too much loose rock, too steep, too terrible of a consequence if one falls.  Quel domage, another hope dashed.

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However, having read a Campendium review of a boondocking area just up the road on forest road 142, we decided to go check that out.  From Hulen Meadows, go noth on ID75 about a quarter of a mile and turn right on to Lake Creek Road.  The forest road begins at the end of the pavement.  It’s a lovely road in a lovely area.  Isn’t this pretty?

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There is a persistent grade of about 2%, so some effort is involved.  The elevation here is just killing me.  For people from higher elevations, you would not notice it.

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This is a corral.  After you reach this point, you may stay for 16 days.  We did not make it any farther down the road because it was threatening rain, and we did not want to get wet.

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There is a spur up to the Taylor Canyon Loop off the forest road.  We didn’t hike it or ride it.

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This is the very first pull out on the road.  Between here and the corral, there is a three day limit.  You wouldn’t want this site anyway, everybody up the road would be driving by you making dust.

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So, this is an excellent choice to get some exercise without fear of maiming, or if you need a boondock close to Ketchum.