When in Doubt…Waterfalls

Lee and I have spent the last few days trying to process what’s next for us, and work through a range of feelings.  When faced with uncertainty in this new lifestyle, we find it’s helpful to go back to the basics and reconnect with why we started this journey to begin with. So on Wednesday we decided to do just that. Early in the season I picked a book up at the local library sale called Romance of Waterfalls .

The book I picked up was written in 1998, and details over 100 waterfalls in our area, many of which we have never seen.  So we started out early in the morning with a list and what turned out to be some very weird directions.  Many of these waterfalls are lesser known and directions included things like “Turn left at the Meadows Ski Resort sign,” or “turn right near the Dell sawmill.”  Unfortunately things do change in 20 years (I am sure the newest version has updated directions) and that coupled with spotty cell coverage made our initial search a little frustrating.  Eventually we found our first spot and entered a closed and overgrown park that led to Punchbowl Falls.

We ultimately found this place by putting Punchbowl Falls into our GPS and came to a rusty gate and a beat up sign


Undeterred we entered the walking area of the gate and found this sign in much better condition


There wasn’t a clear path to see the falls and no viewpoint to speak of


But in several places you could walk to the cliffs edge and take a peek. This new diving sign was surprising


Because who would dive off that pointy rock into that!!


The falls themselves were just ok


But the views were awesome. Fall colors were starting and you could see Mount Hood off in the distance although it is hard to see in this picture


One of the most interesting things was across the way there was a derelict staircase that was falling apart in most places

We could hear a second set of falls and this is where the book came in handy because we knew if we kept walking we would see Dead Point Creek Falls.  The second set of falls was less than 50 feet away, but since it was so overgrown it was hard to get a good picture.  It is a shame because what little we could see looked pretty cool, but since we couldn’t see an easy way to get to the base of the falls, we had to be satisfied with our view from across the river.

Dead Point Creek Falls

Lee was just happy to be out, but I was a little disappointed.  Definitely not the wow factor I was looking for, but I decided to go back to the book and try one more place.  One of the exits along I-84 (Exit 55 east bound only exit) was supposed to have a waterfall less than 100 yards from the restroom.  Despite the fact that we were headed westbound and had to back track a little I decided to check it out, and wow was I glad we did.  I’ve passed this rest area at least 50 times in the last couple of years and never stopped there.  Although it is NOT big rig friendly, it is a charming place to stop, with a modern and extremely clean restroom and three (yes three!) waterfalls with easy access within a very short distance.

There is a State Park that borders on the rest area


Really terrific restrooms


And a paved trail to a waterfall and picnic area that is within 100 feet


Really nice picnic area


Initial views of the falls are obscured by two giant boulders which might be why this area doesn’t get more attention



But Lee walked the rough and wet path behind the rocks


And wow were we glad we did


There was a very cool group of cairns across from the falls


And another very close by


Lee’s pic


Plus we got great views of the very top which was two streams of water coming together


And we could stand on rocks super close to the falls and amazingly not get wet. That was neat

Great pics were possible because we could stand right below

This was what I was looking for and we spent a ton of time there before heading to the southwest corner of the parking lot and onto a second trail.  Again the book came in handy because it told us two other waterfalls existed within .2 miles of the rest area and since the road was a paved path it was definitely worth the walk.

In case you were wondering the creek got it’s name because a group of train travelers were stuck for three weeks here trying to dig themselves out. No one starved to death but they did get very hungry in the three weeks it took to clear the tracks


This sign near the trail shows all of the waterfalls in the area


Although it was too close to the freeway in many places the views of the river were pretty


This trail is actually part of historic highway 30 but this section is closed to cars


About a tenth of a mile we saw this sign to cabin creek falls, although you could see the falls from the road



The walk along the woods was absolutely beautiful


Since it was a beautiful day we decided to walk another tenth of a mile to Hole in the Wall Falls. I was particularly interested in this waterfall because a hole was created by engineers to change the direction of the falls since they often flooded the road.  I’ve never really seen anything like that and was so glad we walked the additional bit because not only was it a cool engineering feat but also a very pretty falls.

Make a left when you see this paved path. There was no sign but the falls are slightly visible


Another nice picnic area near the falls


Really pretty and a pretty little bridge


Lee got a great shot of the hole they created.  Amazing.


That walk and those falls definitely cleared my head. Afterward we went to Camping World (always fun for full-time RVers) where Lee bought a new chair and I bought a new light-up rug on clearance.  Then we ate at my favorite local restaurant Sweet Tomatoes,  I absolutely love their mushroom soup.  And finally we stopped at the Salvation Army and took advantage of a 50% off sale to get two new (to me) pairs of jeans and a flannel shirt.  Simple pleasures, simple life, simple time together.  It’s important that we don’t lose site of that.

Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.









Pretty Good Deal for a Girl Like Me

We came into this job this year full of excitement and high expectations.  For the first time we were returning to the same place (technically a different property, but the same company and manager) for a second summer, and were willing to do that because finally I had found a seasonal job that I thought might work for both of us.  The deal was that I would be the lead of 6 campgrounds, requiring a higher level skill set than previous years just cleaning toilets and picking up trash, and Lee would have a position where he wasn’t being micromanaged and had a lot of latitude and a wide variety of things to do.  We both really liked the people we were working for, and I loved the fact that the work would be done for a corporation that had rules and benefits and felt similar to the places I worked in my previous life. Plus the money is much better than almost all other work kamp gigs. It really seemed like the perfect fit.

About two weeks in we realized that it would be much harder than we originally thought.  We were faced with a mixture of about half brand new camp hosts and half an established team of veterans that were used to running the place with very little supervision, and not surprisingly they didn’t take too well to these new kids coming in from the outside with fresh ideas.  And I get it, because change is hard, but despite my best efforts to be as collaborative as possible the majority of the “veterans” fought me at every turn.  They didn’t pull any punches either.  Comments were made ( my personal favorite was “Just ignore her because once we get rid of her we will train a new lead in doing things our way”) and coalitions were formed.  About six weeks in a key couple who had been here for seven years went to our bosses and gave them the ultimatum either Lee and Tracy go or we go.  Our bosses didn’t accept their ultimatum and the couple ended up leaving within a few hours of that meeting.

Once they were gone a huge cloud lifted, it’s hard working every day in an environment where people are actively hostile towards you, and the work started in earnest.  We both focused on filling  the labor hole they left the best that we could, and worked ourselves nearly to death to make sure as little as possible slipped through the cracks.  I’m not kidding about that last part.  Lee and I have worked 6 to 7 days a week for nearly every week in the five months we have been here, and many of those were 10-12 hour days.  And it’s worth mentioning that we worked all of those hours without charging any overtime.  I did it mainly because I was beating myself up over whatever part I might have inadvertently played in their leaving, and Lee did it because he just does what needs to be done and doesn’t pay much attention to the clock.  The important part for both of us was that we kept things running well and did our best to take care of the people who remained.

Not that many of the people who were left were open to that.  The couple who left were well liked and after they were gone stayed in contact with some of the remaining folks and made sure they poisoned the well.  People who I had built a solid relationship with suddenly were cold and distant and in a couple of cases I had to face more open hostility.  Since all of this happened in the beginning of July, Lee and I had two choices.  We could leave, and we came really close at one point, or we could dig in and try to fix it.  We talked about it and decided to stay.  There were several reasons for that decision.  About half of the staff was new like us, and to a greater or lesser extent had received the same sort of treatment from the veterans.  I felt a responsibility to those people to make their season as good as I could, and didn’t like the idea of abandoning them.  I’ve also never walked away from a job in my life, and yes, after some soul searching I know that for me at least that is  not really a good thing, but I liked the people we worked for and since they had chosen us wanted to repay that by working as hard as we possibly could.

It wasn’t easy.  Along with the personnel challenges,  the campgrounds themselves were completely full almost every day during the summer and we had what everyone described as an unusually challenging season with customer incidents.  Lee and I both got to hone our crisis management skills this summer, and dealt with things we had never done in our previous lives.  Twice we had customers life-flighted out, and police and fire were called on numerous incidents.  The main operator at our company control center (who I notified whenever I called 911), knew who I was when he heard my voice, and we actually became very friendly.  He is a really nice guy.

Simultaneously, I was working to create a list of standards for the guests and our camp hosts, and spent lots of time talking through scenarios with our bosses to get their thoughts and direction.  They were generally surprised by the types of incidents I brought to their attention, which honestly surprised me because some of them seemed relatively common.  I started to understand that in the past the Leads who had run the place kept most of these incidents quiet, but since my communication style is more open we talked things through and came up with procedures instead of me just winging it.  The SOP book I started with (which was built in 2010), grew over the summer, and every day I felt my foundation getting firmer.  I knew I was taking a risk by being open about the challenges I was having (some bosses really just want you to take care of it and don’t want to be bothered), but I was looking long term and felt it was the right thing for the organization.

It was exhausting though, and really took everything that I had to give, and this is where Lee came in.  Objectively he was absolutely amazing.  He did two jobs for the rest of the summer, and importantly he allowed me to be in two places at once.  His focus was always on giving the camp hosts what they needed, and he didn’t care what that entailed, as long as he was helping. He was part security, part traffic cop, part bathroom cleaner, and part maintenance man.  And in the middle of all that he found time to design the inside of the new workshop, taking an empty shell and turning it into an organized and efficient work space. And he wasn’t the only person who stepped up.  Other team members saw that we needed help and stepped in wherever they could. Not everyone of course, we still had some holdouts, but most of the people recognized that we were trying and helped us in return.

Despite many people feeling that we had turned a corner, I still felt uneasy.  I knew I was doing the right thing, and I knew we would leave this place better than we found it, but I didn’t feel secure in my position.  I still felt as if I was on trial, and although part of me understood why, I never felt comfortable.  Nothing short of my bosses looking me in the eye and saying “You did a good job and we want you back” was going to make me feel secure even though lots of people were telling me things like, “They would be crazy not to have you back.”

Finally the rush of the season ended and we started to make preparations to close down the campgrounds.  I was pretty nervous about this because the only guy who knew exactly what to do had left earlier in the season, so I spent a ton of time interviewing people and putting that information into End of Season checklists.  One of the campgrounds closed early, on Labor Day, because it is being remodeled over the winter, and then two weeks later three more closed. Since three campgrounds closed on the same day, I had three distinct teams working in three locations, and thankfully it all went off without a hitch.  Camphosts started leaving, and I was pleased that most said they wanted to come back, which is the ultimate referendum on the job I did.  I also found some space to breathe, and started putting together some end of season documents and scheduled a meeting with our bosses to review the season.

Finally, I was in my wheelhouse, and had the time and energy to apply to the project.  The first thing I did was to put together a season timeline because I needed some context to talk about the season.  I went back through all of the incident reports and my weekly summaries and my HIGH level timeline was three pages long.  No kidding, this was super high level, but we had that many major incidents.  And what became clear, which I really didn’t realize at the time, is how many of these incidents happened in batches.  For example in one weekend I had the horse fall off the cliff, a camp host break her ankle, and a major customer incident.  By any objective measure that is a lot of stuff.

Once I finished the timeline I started to work on my recommendations and ended up with four pages of those.  Many of the items I had already been talking about through the season, but I organized the thoughts and put them together into categories.  Finally I put together a plan to ensure that going forward our bosses would never get stuck if any couple left mid-season.  Prior to my coming up here, folks mainly had their own lane and guarded their individual knowledge pretty zealously.  My plan was to document everything, cross train as many people as possible, and have backups for every position including my own.  I viewed it as a football team, where we would have depth at every position.  The idea being if one man goes down someone else steps into their place.  I know that is hardly an original concept, but it is not the way things worked up here, and I felt really good about making sure that no going forward there wouldn’t be a single point of failure. Once I was ready I scheduled my end of year review.

There was one interesting wrinkle to this meeting though, because Lee wanted to come.  It made sense because we had been acting as a team all season long, and as my boss said I was just going to tell him what happened anyway.  But this was uncharted territory for us and we had several conversations prior to the meeting to make sure we were on the same page.  Essentially he loved his job and I thought it could be a good job for me, but I needed assurance on a few things before I was willing to commit.  They weren’t really anything outrageous, by the way.  I wanted a commitment on cross-training and not having a single point of failure.  I needed assurance that we would all be trained on the companies code of ethics and violations would be dealt with quickly and decisively.  And finally I wanted to talk through all the returning personnel and have some input into what positions they would be placed in.  Lee and I felt very strongly that with the right mix of people we could build a very solid team and we wanted the placement decisions to be based on skill set rather than years of service.

That last one was admittedly a little tricky and I was prepared to get some push back there.  To be clear, I am a person who thinks years of service matters, all things being equal, but I don’t think it’s OK when folks rest on their laurels just because they have seniority.  That may be an unpopular opinion, but for me it’s about what is fair.  Anyway, we went into the meeting and it started out really great.  Not only had they read my recommendations, but they marked them up with comments and I saw a ton of “I agree”.  That made me feel really good, although an hour in I had to shift the conversation to talking about next year.  Again they mostly agreed with our thoughts, but towards the end one of the bosses stopped us and said, “I need to throw a bombshell in here.”  I went from pretty relaxed to alert in an instant, and he basically said that I had shown how challenging the job was, and because of that they had decided that the best thing to do was hire a permanent full time employee for next year.  They felt it would solve most of the problems if they had a permanent staff member running the lake and they had some additional tasks in the off season they could have that person do to round out the full year.

It was an interesting moment for me, because from a strictly business sense I thought it was a good solution.  But I also realized that I had basically talked myself out of a job.  By being so open about the challenges, I had impressed upon them the need for a strong manager, and his natural conclusion was to hire a full time person to do that work.  He stressed several times what a terrific job he thought I had done, even going so far as to say that given the circumstances I was the best lead they had ever had, and that he couldn’t think of anyone who could have done a better job.  My other boss even said that they wanted us back, and in whatever capacity we wanted.  My natural reaction was to say very little and try to absorb what had just happened.  It’s been a long time since I was caught off guard like that in a meeting and I was very quickly running through the different scenarios.

Lee, on the other hand, had a very different reaction.  He was mad.  Don’t get me wrong, he did a great job of locking it down, and it didn’t show as far as they were concerned, but when you have been married to someone for 30 years you know when they are upset.  He started to talk it through with them and I started to get uncomfortable.  My  lizard brain impulse was to flee, and I just wanted to get out of there and find a quiet space to think it through.  Lee’s impulse was to fight for the jobs we wanted, and he gave it a try.  He talked about whether I could do the winter activities remotely (this company has pretty strict policies on remote workers), what his job would look like with a new unknown boss (they seemed genuinely confused about the issue until I reminded them that Lee had been pretty clear about not being interested in being micromanaged), and why it was necessary at all.  One of our bosses seemed surprised by his reaction (the other one knows us better and was not), and eventually they turned to me.

I decided in that moment I should just be honest.  I was polite, I was respectful, but I also didn’t worry so much about my future with the company.  It wasn’t lost on me that they didn’t even ask if I would be interested in coming off the road and applying for the position, and it was equally clear to me that they wanted to have access to my skill set but in a seasonal appropriate role.  Again, the logical business side of my brain totally got that, but the other part of me felt very sad.  And it was difficult for me to really talk through it, because more than anything else I had just gotten the answer to a question I had been praying to receive.  Basically what I said was I took the job because I wanted to see if it was possible to have a seasonal job that had some of the elements of what I loved about my jobs in the past. I said I appreciated his honesty very much (I truly do), because he handed me the answer I was looking for, it was just unfortunate the answer was “No”.   I elaborated that I didn’t quit my job because I hated it, but rather took the buyout because I wanted to simplify my life.  It had been a rough season, but we had worked so hard and stuck it out because we both wanted to show them what we could do, and we were very interested in having a long term summer gig.  And my long term goal was to take my skill set and find ways to help them in a larger way.  I knew that would require us thinking outside of the “seasonal box”, but felt that over time I could really provide them with a ton of value.

At that point he seemed… well surprised.  And I think that, more than anything else, really bummed me out.  I think he really thought I would be fine with it.  And here’s the thing; it’s a really good offer.  They are paying $18 an hour next year, which is an incredibly high wage in the work camping world, especially for a job with full hookups.  A year ago we probably would have jumped at the chance and it might have even kept us happy for a few years.  He tried three more times in that conversation to sell me on the position, stressing that I could still work on all the types of special projects that I liked and the job would be what I made of it. He really didn’t seem to realize that he had given us both something very valuable to us, and was now taking it away.   Finally I said that Lee and I both needed to time to process and we could talk again when he got back from his vacation.

We talked a ton about it on the way home and well into the evening.  For a variety of reasons we just didn’t feel like it would be the right thing for us, but we decided to sleep on it and see how we felt in the morning. Here’s what I woke up with.  There is a scene in Pretty Woman where Richard Gere offers Julia Roberts an apartment, and and lots of money to live with him, and her response is “I know.  It’s a really good offer for a girl like me.”  If you watch the clip, look at her face. That’s how I felt in that meeting.

I know. It's a really good offer for a girl like me.

The character, Vivian, goes on to say. “You made me a really nice offer. And a few months ago, no problem. But now everything is different, and you’ve changed that. And you can’t change back. I want more.”  That’s what I woke up with.  That’s how that moment made me feel.

As I often say, we went to a lot of trouble to change our life.  It’s been scary and painful and amazing and beautiful.  We wanted to explore new places, experience new things, and have more freedom.  After four years both of us were willing to give up a fair amount of that freedom for some stability, to find a place where we were valued and frankly not treated as second class citizens because we were seasonal.   We had a taste of what that could look like here, and as Vivian says, I want the fairy tale.  And it’s really OK if it doesn’t exist.  The journey to find it is the important thing, and I’m just not ready to settle.

Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

Visitors Come to Timothy Lake

We survived Labor Day weekend at Timothy Lake and thankfully it was a bit anticlimactic.  We were all just fine with that, because we have certainly had our share of tough weekends and were all a little relieved when the cool temperatures and fire bans contributed to keep things relatively quiet.  Right after the weekend my girls got together (for the first time since my youngest graduated from high school in 2014) with my Mom in Myrtle Beach.  Originally when I found out they were gathering I looked into flights to meet them all out there, but with the holiday weekend and everything else that has been going on I decided to give it a pass.  Mom took a picture for me in the airport and I thought I would share it here.  My girls all have really different personalities, but also a sameness that defines them as “Perkins Girls”.

From left: Kay (K3), Kat (K2), and Kyrston (K1).  My babies!

The nicest thing about that get together was when my Mom sent me a text and said they were all perfect houseguests and I did a good job with them.  Nothing is much better than your Mom telling you that you raised your kids right, and that text had me smiling for hours!

We didn’t have too much time to be sad though, because we had a couple of visitors.  Rick, who writes the blog On The Road with Maxine and Me, came from his volunteer job at Heceta Head Lighthouse to spend the night with us.  He, like our friend Brian, brought a tent, and we had a lovely time getting caught up and eating a big steak dinner.

Rick didn’t need any help with his tent


And he brought us a present of one of his favorite regional specialties. We all travel with something from home and he wanted Lee to try his favorite mustard.


Jim and Diana Belisle had turned him onto cherry salsa so he wanted to share some of that with us as well.


ummmm ribeye


And he made this beautiful pecan cheesecake. Rick is an amazing cook


As fun as it was when he was here unfortunately the visit was frequently interrupted by a power issue at the park. When you live and work in a place it’s hard to be completely “unplugged”, especially when someone cuts a power line close by and you lose power.  We’ve known from the beginning of the season that we were going to be losing power in early September due to the dam project that is going on close by, but there were some unexpected issues on Weds and Thursday which resulting in losing our power a day early (and with two hours notice) and we were scrambling to figure some things out.  Rick left pretty early to go see his daughter in Olympia on Thursday morning and I spent the rest of the day making sure everyone had what they needed and dealing with the items in the freezer that we suddenly had to find room for.

The big problem was we were supposed to have a large generator to run the office compound during the outage, but a delay in permitting made that a no-go and we worked with the head of maintenance to throw together a schedule.  Ultimately of course we worked everything out, but I was exhausted by the end of the day and my week was just starting and I was just praying that it was a slow weekend.

Turns out the cooler temps really kept people away, although Saturday was nice and sunny.  Which was a good thing because our friends Georgia and Jim made the drive up from Eugene, Oregon and had dinner with us.  Three and a half hours is a long way to drive to have dinner with friends, but when you’ve known people for almost 15 years it’s worth it.  Once again we had some steaks (had to get that freezer meat eaten) and Georgia told us in all the time she had known us she had never had one of our famous ribeye dinners.  That surprised the heck out of us, and we were happy to show them what all the fuss is about.

Georgia and Jim with Lee using a gator as a fourth chair


This cracked me up


Georgia was VERY happy with the meal

It was lovely seeing them, and equally great that for the first Saturday in forever the lake-wide radio was quiet.  We had a relaxing meal, and a wonderful chat until 9pm when they needed to head back.  Things are finally winding down here, and I couldn’t be happier.  We are all pretty tired and need a bit of a break before we gear up for the final closing push.  There is a fall chill in the air, which we are both enjoying, and we actually saw a little bit of rain this morning for the first time since the end of April.

Foggy morning at Timothy Lake


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

August 2018 Budget

Before I get started, I finally got our taxes done and we actually got a small state refund back.  We made a little less than I estimated for the affordable healthcare, and we got a $450 credit (I was super nervous about this one) and although we had a pretty large 1099 for gate guarding I had some costs to offset the revenue and overall it worked out OK.  Ultimately we got refunds from two states which more than covered the $252 we owed on federal.  I was pretty happy overall, and seriously relieved.  We still have $1500 in a taxes account we started on the road with so for now at least we are in good shape.  OK, on with August.

First off thank heavens this was a three paycheck month.  When you are salary you really don’t appreciate such things, but us hourly folks get a little bonus a few times a year and this was a great month to get it.  We spent a whopping $3,989 this month, but since we made $6278 we actually were $2289 to the good.  A few major events contributed to the spend.  I had my birthday mid-month and we went to Mt. Rainier, which hit our fuel and eating out budget, and then at the end of the month we went to Seattle and got a hotel room so we could see our daughter.  Lots of meals out on that trip as well.  We also had to pay for part of the tow and our deductible when the wheel bearing went bad on our truck and that ran around $335.  With all of that I am just happy we broke even.  For more details you can look below.

Groceries – We made a Costco run this month and the meat and paper products from that will definitely get us through September and a good chunk of October. We spent $806 …yikes.

Dining Out – We ate out a bunch this month and went over by $244.  We paid for a couple of meals for our daughter, ate an over priced meal at the Mt. Rainier lodge, and had lots of fast food when we were traveling.

Entertainment – We went over by $77 in this category.  It was a variety of things, nothing very major and since we hadn’t spent hardly anything at all this summer on this good for us 🙂

Truck Fuel – We spent $315 in this category which is under budget but much more than we have been spending.  Trips to Washington were the biggest contributor.

Truck Maintenance –  The $335 was for the deductible and part of the tow and wow did we get off easy.  Tows from this area are generally $750 and the repair was easily over $1K but our warranty covered it.

Cigarettes – For those paying attention you know we buy loose tobacco and tubes in bulk and roll our own cigarettes so $225 lasts us 3-4 months.  We are spending about $9 a carton for those who are interested which is obviously an amazing price considering that cartons are $50 plus.

Miscellaneous – The bulk of this was $351 for two nights in a hotel and parking when we went to Seattle.

Overall not bad considering how much we did and Lee was able to put another $2K in our savings because of the extra paycheck.  We don’t have much planned in the month of September, which is good because we are getting together with family in October and that is going to be an expensive month!

Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

First Time in Seattle

When our youngest daughter told us that her return flight from her deployment to Korea back to DC had a layover in Seattle we knew we had to go.  The fact that it was in Seattle encouraged us to extend the trip an extra day because this is one of the few major US cities that I have never been to.  Lee went a couple of times when he was a kid, but I had never been and going to Pike Place was a long-time bucket list item of mine.  Originally we thought we would just have a few hours at the airport with her, but when she made arrangements to extend her layover overnight, we immediately added a third day.

Part of our stress over the issue we had with the truck was how we would make the trip, but that actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  Seattle is not really big truck friendly and the Pike Place area is really not so.  But we had a small rental car and were able to find parking right near the marketplace, which was pricey ($30), but worth it. Turns out the market is really numerous converted buildings and we both found it really confusing.  I had images in my head of guys throwing fish and shops along a wharf area, but the market place we went to was more of an old warehouse district and it took us a long time before we found what I would consider the heart of the marketplace.

No way would we get the F350 in here.  The black Ford was our rental.


This sign made it look easy, but it wasn’t 🙂


The shops were all along the road and inside numerous buildings


I recognized the ferris wheel from Grey’s Anatomy but it was across the freeway and in a different area


The terraced apartments were pretty neat.


We finally made it into one building which reminded me of the Colony Mill back in Keene. It was a repurposed old building with lots of stairs, weird partial floors, and narrow hallways.


I did get excited when we saw our first fish stands and the selection was pretty amazing


Turns out they have halibut in Oregon. I didn’t know that until recently


The flower stands were really beautiful and what I pictured


And through sheer dumb luck we stumbled upon the iconic golden pig


Finally we saw this sign and I knew we were getting close


And we saw this old fish market. The line was long and we were both starving so we decided to give it a try


We both got the halibut which was ok, but nothing nearly as good as what we had in Alaska


Plus by this time the place was packed



I know people love this, my mother-in-law DeDe went everyday when she was in Seattle, but personally I felt a little assaulted.  Part of that is we have been living in a really isolated place all summer, but it is loud, expensive, and for me at least, claustrophobic.  I am glad I got to experience it once in my life, but I wouldn’t be in a big rush to go again and since this was a Weds in the afternoon I shudder to think what the weekend would be like.

We did find some cool stores though. This chinese grocery store had trainer chopsticks


And Lee who struggles using them bought himself a starter pair


We saw a gorgeous fish are with beautiful crab legs


A neat used book store


A magic shop Lee spent some time in


And even a collectible coin shop. You rarely see these anymore



After a couple of hours though I just felt like I needed to leave and we headed back towards the airport and our hotel.  We took a wrong turn which turned out to be pretty awesome because I got a closeup view of the Seattle Seahawks football stadium.

Really though we were both excited about seeing our kid.  We looked everywhere for a hotel room near the airport that had two bedrooms and a separate sitting area in our price range and finally found one near an Amazon distribution center that we could afford.  At $350 for two days it still wasn’t cheap but it had what we needed and more importantly would give our daughter a room all to herself.  We knew she would be seriously jet lagged coming in and since she had changed her travel plans for us it was the least we could do.

It has a small kitchen, bedroom and bath upstairs


And a small living room, bed and bath downstairs


Oh and a bathtub which I used to take what I think was my first bath in over a year.


The next morning we waited anxiously to get the text she had landed and then headed to the cell phone lot.  She had to go through customs (which went really fast) and then we had to find her but there she was!

We whisked her right back to the hotel, where we learned she hadn’t slept in 24 hours, but she was determined to power through and ultimately made it 36 hours so she could spend time with us.

Kay and her Dad


He gave her a big hug and then pulled out her hair tie which made her laugh because he used to do it to all of our daughters when they were little.


She even let us take a few pictures of her 🙂

It was a wonderful night with our kid and made the trip so worth it and I even learned how to use Pokemon GO and Snap Chat.  I’m always behind in the latest apps and they catch me up when they see me, so now as we travel I can catch the Pokemon, which is a little like geocaching for the younger crowd.  Love my girl and loved my time with her, so happy that it all worked out so well.

My snapchat icon which is actually a pretty cool app



Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

Be Your Own Health Care Advocate

One of the main struggles for us with living full-time on the road has been losing our primary care physicians.  Since we are lucky enough to be more or less healthy, this loss has been somewhat manageable, but over the last couple of years as we have both turned 50 it is getting more challenging.  It’s important to note that if you come from a place that you are willing to return to every year or so, you can keep your doctors, and we know many people who have done this.  In our case though, we wanted to explore new areas of the country and getting back to New Hampshire every year just isn’t a viable option for us. For the first couple of years on the road, we used Urgent Care a couple of times for minor issues, and blew off preventative care.  After I turned 50 I knew things would have to change.  I needed to schedule a colonoscopy, was behind on my annual mammogram, and the only way I knew to get those tests scheduled was through a PCP or Primary Care Physician.

Last year I took a deep breath and set about finding us a new one.  Other than knowing I wanted a woman, the choice was completely random, and I picked a hospital group that was somewhat local to where I was working at the time and called and asked for the first available appointment.  Originally I started looking in Texas, thinking I would would use the San Antonio area as my home base in the winter, but when I tried to schedule physicals I ran into all kinds of problems.  Several medical groups that I called were not accepting new patients and even the ones that were didn’t have any openings for months.  I didn’t necessarily know where I would be 2-3 months from when I called, and more importantly I just didn’t get a good feeling from any of the several places I called.  I don’t know if it was because I was an out of state resident, or because I was on an ACA healthcare plan, or maybe I just caught the receptionists on a bad day, but I didn’t get any warm fuzzies.  So I kicked the can down the road and decided to try again in the summer.

Thankfully, it was much easier to schedule appointments in Oregon, and since my only criteria was that the PCP was a woman, I was able to get in to see her within 30 days of requesting the appointment.  It was weird starting all over again with someone new, and to be honest I didn’t know how much energy I wanted to invest in the relationship because I had no idea if we would be coming back thew following year.  I shared the bare minimum, skipped over any part of my medical history that wasn’t relevant, and scheduled the mammogram and the colonoscopy.  And to be clear it wasn’t the PCP’s fault.  I just found myself missing my doctor of 15 years very much, who knew my kids and my life history, and at that point I just wanted to get through it and get the tests run so I could be on my way.

The colonoscopy went amazingly well, but on the mammogram they found a spot they didn’t really like.  In a completely impressive move though, the Breast Care center sent away for my medical records and within 2 days had a baseline mammogram from New Hampshire and had compared the results and felt everything was fine with no followup needed.  That truly  impressed me.  I carry my medical records in the RV, but not my mammogram results, and they compared images and cleared the spot in record time.  And those experiences in no small part influenced us to return to Oregon this year.  It was Lee’s turn for a colonoscopy and I knew we could see the same PCP for a second year. I once again had no issue getting an appointment for a physical and this year I opened up a little more about my health history.  I don’t think she remembered me at first, but Lee she definitely remembered.  Not surprising really, as he tends to be pretty funny with healthcare people that he likes, and since he had such a good experience I really felt like we were on the right track.

I went for another mammogram, and once again they found a spot that they didn’t like.  This time though they had their own records to compare it with and it was not the same as last year.  For those of you who don’t know, year over year results are a big deal with mammograms.  Many women have cysts of some kind, too much caffeine can cause them for example, and although most of them are benign and go away on their own, sometimes they don’t.  When new ones show up, which happens to me almost every year, the technicians look at the shape of them and your medical history and make a determination as to what comes next.  And this is where things get a little tricky. As my brother the doctor says, looking at these test results is more art than science since you can look at two nearly identical scans and one could be cancerous and one could be benign.  Deciding whether to do further tests is heavily based on your statistical risk factors, which is fine unless you are the one that is the statistic.

I should probably take a step back here and mention that almost everyone in my family is in the medical field.  My father and brother are doctors, and my mother and sister are nurses.  As the “black sheep” of the family I took another route and went into business, but since I have been surrounded by medical talk my entire life I have picked up a few things.  Now you might be thinking how big a deal can medical care be for her since she can just pick up the phone and call someone in her family, and certainly there have been times in my life where all that medical knowledge put me at a distinct advantage, but since we all live in different states, I had my own doctors my entire life, although I certainly have not been above “phoning a friend” when I felt I needed some advice.

I never needed that more than when 10 years ago I had a spot on a mammogram that led to an ultrasound, an MRI, a biopsy, and ultimately a small piece of my breast being removed.  That entire situation had me so freaked out that I called my baby brother and asked him for his advice.  He wasn’t that long from medical school and up to date on the latest and greatest in medicine, and he had a friend from school who was a specialist.  I sent them all of my test results and Eddie gave me someone to talk to that I absolutely trusted, and all of this was with my primary care physician that I absolutely adored.  If you are not a woman it is hard to explain why having a spot on your breast is so terrifying, but almost any woman who has been through the experience will tell you that it is very difficult.  It doesn’t help that each step of the process takes so long.  All in the entire process took over two months and the entire time you are carrying around a sense of foreboding and “What if”.

As hard as that situation was, I did walk away from the experience with some important information.  First, I had unusual breast tissue.  The tissue is dense for one thing which made clear pictures on a mammogram harder, but more importantly despite a complete lack of family breast cancer history I was at higher risk for it once I hit menopause.  Because of this risk, I should never be on hormone therapy for menopause symptoms and it was really important that I get my annual mammograms.  The other thing that I will always remember was that ultimately the decision to remove the small piece was made by my PCP.  Despite numerous tests and the biopsy, she made the decision to have it removed stating, “I don’t like having it in there and let’s just get it out.”  OK, that worked for me.  I had great insurance at the time and I completely trusted her judgement so we had it removed. Once it was out, I breathed a sigh of relief and went on with my life, rarely thinking about it.

Except it didn’t quite go away.  Right before we went on the road, they ordered another MRI for me and for a brief time I was 100% convinced that it would come back with bad results and that would be the thing that kept us off the road.  A couple of years later, I went to a doctor for something relatively minor and after describing my symptoms of pre-menopause he cavalierly recommend hormone replacement therapy.  That was a bit of a shocker and I had to tell him that it wasn’t an option for me.   The look on his face as he realized he had almost screwed up almost made it worth it, but I was left with a deeply uneasy feeling that if I hadn’t known my own medical history or felt educated enough to challenge him, I could have easily just taken his advice.  That is one place where having medical people in my family really helps me.  I know first hand that although they are educated and committed people, they are people and as such make mistakes.  We tend to think of medical professionals as these omnipotent beings, but like anyone else doing a job they are only as good as the information they have.  My Dad often says, being a doctor is often like being a detective.  There are clues that can lead to the correct diagnosis, but sometimes the tests don’t provide the information they need.  That’s where the relationship with the patient becomes so important.

Sorry, I know I am going the long way around here, but it is important that I put the story in the context.   10 years ago I had a full time job, great insurance, lots of paid sick time, a wonderful PCP who I had a long term relationship with and a family full of medical people I could call on.  Despite all of that, it truly was one of the most stressful experiences of my life. So a month ago, when I got the call that they wanted me to come in for a follow-up ultrasound because of a spot they found on my mammogram, my stomach tightened.  Yes, I was much better educated this time around, but I also knew what my risk factors were and my overriding feeling was it was inevitable and my time was up.  That may sound a bit melodramatic, but it is also true especially because around Christmas time I had asked my brother to re-look at those records from 10 years ago.  I was really struggling with hot flashes and other menopause symptoms and wanted to know if things had changed in medicine (or maybe we had made too big of a deal out of the test results) and there were any hormone therapy options out there for me.  My brother, who is a really good guy, did a bunch of research and came back and said, no things unfortunately hadn’t changed and the risk factors were the same.

The day of the ultrasound, I was randomly given one of the radiologists from the pool of doctors and for whatever reason I did not like the guy.  He was older and somewhat abrupt, and when he was called in to consult he obviously wasn’t aware of my risk factors.  He looked at the results, stated they were inconclusive, but because of my age and lack of family history I should just wait 6 months and get retested.  Well that was a problem for me, because I had no idea where I would be in 6 months and even if I did I would be starting all over again with a new set of doctors.  Plus his attitude really rubbed me the wrong way, so I started educating him on my actual history.  At this point he left the room (to review my chart I am thinking) and when he came back in his entire attitude was different.  Now he thought I should have a biopsy scheduled, just to “be on the safe side.”  After he left I was pretty agitated, because he never should have walked into that room without knowing my history.  Plus the fact that they scheduled the followup procedure the following week didn’t give me the warm and fuzzy.

Generally you can tell how concerned physicians are by how quickly they schedule the follow-up appointment.  It doesn’t completely track, but generally the quicker the test the more concerned they are.  Since I could only go on my days off, I needed to wait a full week, but they slotted me in as soon as they could.  The nurses all looked concerned as well.  When you are healthy everyone is generally smiling, but in this case several people actually said good luck with the test results.  Once I came home and looked at my schedule, I realized that I had actually scheduled the appointment the exact same time as my tax appointment,  The odds of that are pretty high, and since I had pushed my tax appointment twice already I had to call and reschedule.  That turned out to be a good thing though, because since I rescheduled I ended up with a totally different doctor. His name was Dr. Chan and he was everything the first guy was not.  He was extremely serious and calm, and completely up to date on my history.

When I went in I told the nurse I was dreading the procedure because of the pain I experienced the last time it was done, but they both assured me they would make sure they used plenty of local anesthesia and if I experienced any discomfort to let them know immediately and they would stop.  For those of you who have never experienced a breast biopsy, think staple gun with a needle in it.  They only use locals to numb the area and both times I had it done they had to “punch in” three times.  Twice to take samples and once to place a small marker, which lives in your breast going forward so doctors know where the problem areas were.  The first time I had it done, the area wasn’t numbed sufficiently and it really hurt when they were taking the sample.  This time I didn’t feel anything immediately, which was nice, but I have experienced soreness for several days now.  And because this was scheduled on a work day, I had to drive myself 2 hours to get there and then 2 hours to get home.  I couldn’t lift anything heavy for over 24 hours, which turned out to be a bit of a problem at my job the next day, and the soreness didn’t help my mood any.

Basically I was a mess, and since the results wouldn’t come in for 2-5 business days I was carrying around a strong sense of foreboding.  It didn’t help that simultaneously I was dealing with some major work issues, our truck broke down, and we were planning to meet our daughter in Seattle.  My emotional cup was way overfull and the only thing getting me through was the few women that I worked with who I told.  Most women have a story in their past where they have had some sort of similar scare and every one of them who had, was completely supportive.  That was a good thing, because I was really downplaying my anxiety to Lee because I didn’t want him to worry.  And if you are reading this and are my friend or family and are wondering why I didn’t say anything, I’m sorry.  I really was trying to hold it together in case it turned out to be nothing and except for the people I had to tell at work for logistic reasons and my brother who I asked to look at the test results, I kept it to myself.

And ultimately the results came back as benign, which was of course great, but  I didn’t realize how much I was carrying around until that moment, when I found myself needing to sit down and take a few deep breaths.  Lee was generally surprised by the strength of my reaction, so I suppose I did a good job of hiding my feelings there, but again anyone who had been through this won’t be.  And it was also a huge wake-up call. This incident reinforced how important it is that we are our own healthcare advocates.  I am lucky because I have some insurance and more importantly an HSA account with the funds to cover the bills.  I have to ask myself would I have made different choices if I would have needed to pay out of pocket or would the doctors have run the tests at all? Even without cost being a major factor in this case, it was still a struggle to get the right tests run, because yes, despite the fact that the test was benign, it was very important that they were done.

And to be clear none of this is going to change my mind about living the full-time lifestyle.  I knew coming in that we were rolling the dice when it came to our healthcare and don’t regret accepting that risk.  But it is an increased risk, and it’s important that we are honest with ourselves about that as we travel.  What I mean by that is obviously I could get sick anywhere, but my chances of early detection are less with the way we live.  The best way to combat that risk is through regular wellness care and educating myself.  When we become full time RVers we learn how to take care of our RV’s and for those of us who pull with trucks are generally obsessive about preventative maintenance.  Our bodies should be treated the same, in my opinion.  We don’t absolutely trust RV techs we don’t know, so why should we put our full faith in a doctor we have no relationship with? And luckily, in both cases, with the internet, we have the means of educating ourselves.  Certainly we will never know as much as trained professionals, but we can know enough to keep them honest.  If you are a person who puts doctors in the omnipotent category, remind yourself that they are also mechanics.  They can’t always diagnose the problem, they do make mistakes, and they never ever know as much about your body as you do.

Oh, and if you haven’t had a mammogram in over a year, please get one.  Yes it can be scary, but you can’t fix what you don’t know.

Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.




Have I Mentioned it’s Never Boring Here

The only constant about Timothy Lake this year has been that there is always something going on.  It’s been hard for me to write this blog, because anything that has to do with employees or customers I haven’t been writing about, and those issues are what the majority of my time is being spent on.  But throughout my days other things do occur, and I have been snapping pictures as a way of trying to capture those things in the hopes I will find a few minutes to sit down and write about them to give you an idea of exactly how busy it is.  What follows is the account of one week (Sunday through Sunday), and as much as I would love to say this week was anomalous, it really wasn’t.  Even though I am a person who enjoys constant variety and challenges, at this point in the season I am yearning for a nice quiet week. The veterans tell me that once Labor Day passes, things really settle down and I am really hoping that is true.  There is a cumulative affect that is wearing everyone down, which is pretty normal in all busy campgrounds, but is magnified this year here because it has been “such an unusual year.”

Sunday is the day I go around and see all the camp hosts and get their paperwork for the week, and for four weeks in a row something unusual has happened when I am off property at other sites.  This week the something was an incident with a camper in a campground, but I wasn’t available to help because on the way back to Timothy from Harriet, this is what I ran into.

The Forest Road 57 between Harriet and Timothy is a singular road so any obstruction means you either wait for it to be cleared or turn around and drive over an hour the other way. As I was driving back this tree had randomly fallen across the road.  No one hit it with their car, it wasn’t down when I drove the road less than an hour earlier.  It just fell, and since the forest service had gone on Level IV no one could cut the tree except for forest service personnel.  Through sheer dumb luck that truck in front of me was a Forest service truck who just happened to be traveling along the road.  We do have several forest trucks in our area, but we also have lots of forest, so the odds of this were pretty slim,  Not to mention this entire section of road has no cell coverage, and it would have taken a while for someone to get there.

The ranger attached a chain to the tree and pulled it over. It was way bigger than it looks in the pics.


Four guys helped push it to the side.


And then the ranger cut it up.

The whole thing took roughly 20 minutes, and I helped stop traffic while it was happening.  The incident reinforced to me that we are living in a wilderness out here and if I had been alone there would have been no way for me to handle it myself.  Remember this particular stretch of road, because it comes into play at the end of the week as well. When I got back to the campground Lee had dealt with the customer incident, thankfully, but it will give you an idea of how busy it’s been that 8 days later neither he nor I can remember exactly what the incident was.  We aren’t forgetting because it wasn’t a big deal, I specifically remember apologizing to the camp host because I wasn’t on property to help take care of it, but I cannot remember the specifics.

Probably because on Monday, I had my hands full making Thanksgiving dinner.  We have had one big get together each month up here, and my plan all along was to make a huge turkey dinner for everyone because I have access to a regular size stove, and I’ve been wanting to make a turkey since we hit the road in November of 2014.  Monday the lodge guests left and no one was coming in until Tuesday, so I had a rare narrow window to make and serve the dinner.  Since Monday is usually a slow day I felt pretty confident about how it would go, but I didn’t take into account I would need to clean the lodge that day as well, because the lodge hosts were off.  Thankfully one of the camp hosts came up and helped with both the cleaning and the prep, but it was still a pretty long day, in particular because I was obsessing about the turkey.  It was a 23 pounder that Lee found at WinCo Foods, and I was obsessing about how long to cook it.  The last thing I needed was for the staff to get salmonella, plus if you are going to go to all that work you want it to be right.  I spent a ton of time that day checking on the turkey and even called my mom three separate times to get her advice.  Thankfully it turned out really well, and almost all of the camp hosts were able to come.  It was a really nice dinner and hopefully a break for everyone from the demands of the job but the prep and cleanup afterwards made for a super long day for me.


Tuesday Lee took off because his friend Brian was coming into town.  Lee and Brian (we never call him that, he’s always been “Noodle”) have known each other for 22 years, and Noodle actually flew from Columbus to us just so the could spend a day and a half together.  I covered for Lee on Tuesday and then ended up working part of Wednesday and Thursday that week, which actually was fine because it gave them lots of time together.  The two of them can just sit and talk for hours on end and as much as possible I gave them their space and let them catch up.  I did hang out a bit one day and we played this virtual reality game called Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. It’s a bit like being in an escape room, but in your own house, because one person wears the VR goggles and tries to disarm a bomb while the other people decipher the clues and tell them what wires to cut, etc.  I thought it was really fun and since it was my first experience with virtual reality, made me wonder what else was out there.

Noodle with the VR goggles on. The goggles hold a smart phone which provides the brain.


Noodle stayed in our tent right on our site. He’s a super low maintenance guy which made it easy on us.


The bromance continues!!

We all had a really nice time and I am still amazed that he flew all the way out here for just a couple of days.  But that is the level of their friendship, and as Lee’s wife I am really glad he has someone like Noodle in his life.  It was also very cool of Susan (Noodle’s wife) to loan him to us.  While Noodle was here, I also had the opportunity to catch up on my TV shows.  They sat outside talking for hours upon hours and I got to watch Bachelor in Paradise 🙂  Lee despises that show so I never watch it when he’s in the RV, so I binge watched 4 episodes to get caught up.  Yes, I know, garbage television, but hey, everyone has their secret TV pleasures, plus there is something about watching all those beautiful 20 somethings have no idea what they are doing that makes my less attractive 50 year old self feel better!

One interesting thing that happened while we were “off” was we got a new propane tank for the compound.  Power will be out here for the month of September due to a new power turbine being put in the dam, so they are putting in a propane generator.  Our existing tank was pretty small, and when I told the maintenance folks that we have a propane generator and it really sucks propane they rethought the size of the tank.  It was pretty neat watching them bring a truck with a mini crane to remove the old one and set the new one. Since this happened right across from our site, we had a great view of the happenings.

Old tank on flatbed


Big fat new tank !

Friday when we came back we were faced with resolving another unusual problem.  I had been working some on my days off and I knew that because we had gone to Fire Restriction Level IV in the forest we needed a solution for Meditation Point.  Meditation point is a small 4 site campground that has it’s own little bathroom.  There is a 30 gallon tank in it that once a week someone has to go up and manually remove and drive (in a gator) back to our pit toilets where it is picked up and dumped into the sewer.  If the job sounds nasty, it is.  I’ve done it three times this summer myself and since it is a two person job we try and take turns doing it.  With Fire Level IV though the gator is not allowed on forest trails and since wheel barreling a full waste tank out isn’t really practical we were all trying to think of another solution.  Finally the head of maintenance had an interesting idea.  We would take our maintenance boat to Meditation point and bring the waste tank down that way. Four of us ended up going to try this idea out and just being on the boat was lots of fun.  Only a couple of staff have the license to drive the boat so it has sat here all season unused.  For me it was cool getting to be on the lake (first time all summer) and see the scope of it.  I see it from the perspectives of the different campgrounds, but it was nice seeing things from the lake itself.  Gave me a different perspective.

All suited up for the lake and yes I wore a life jacket…we all did


Lots of beautiful dispersed campsites along the lake


This was the shore near med point where we ultimately put in


I stayed with the boat while the guys did the cleaning and moving to make sure no one tampered with it


the wheelbarrow they used to ferry the poop tank down to the dock


This was the trail they ultimately brought the tank through


The whole enterprise went surprisingly well and this little adventure was the absolute best part of my week which should tell you something 🙂  I got a phone call from the host at North Arm while we were there and he said he needed help moving a very heavy picnic table and since I had some muscle with me we took a little side trip and the guys moved the table.

After we worked the rest of the day, Lee and I decided to head down to Estacada to have dinner and pick up some things at the hardware store, and instead of taking the company truck we decided to go in our personal vehicle.  Usually we take one of the work trucks and get it gassed up, but today on a whim we decided to take ours.  That was both good and bad because on the way back, not far down the road from where the tree fell earlier in the week, all of a sudden our traction control light and ABS light came on.  We smelled a burning smell, and Lee pulled over as soon as he could find a spot and we saw that the front left tire was barely hanging on the axle, and was totally tilted in at the top.

Unbelievable the whole tire didn’t fall off


Hard to see here but it was barely hanging on and you can see the pile of shavings in the bottom right corner.

The good news was the next time that truck would have been driven I would have been alone going down the mountain for a doctors appointment.  The bad news was we had no cell coverage, weren’t 100% sure where we were as far as distance up the mountain, and weren’t crazy about leaving the vehicle alone.  We frequently see disabled cars out here in the wilderness that have been stripped, windows broken, and sometimes burned. We knew Harriet Lake campground had a landline and was somewhere close by, but I wanted to stay with the truck just in case someone tampered with it.  This was not an unreasonable concern since we see trashed and stripped cars along forest roads all the time, but Lee was adamant I couldn’t stay alone, saying finally that the truck and it’s contents could be replaced, but I couldn’t. That was incredibly sweet and hard to argue with so we both started walking. It’s worth noting by the way that four different vehicles passed us by and not one slowed down and asked if we needed help.  One was even pulling a camper and probably heading towards Timothy Lake and they could have let our camp host know where we were.  Thankfully someone was watching out for us though because we were only 2 1/2 miles away from Harriet and it was mostly downhill. We made good time, which was a good thing, because it was almost dark by the time we arrived.

I was very happy to see the bathroom


Dusk was upon us as we hit the campground


The camp host at Harriet called our head of security and it was pretty dark by the time he got to us.  We went to the truck and grabbed a few things, but most of it (including Lee’s tools) we had to leave.  We got back to the RV by 9:30 and at that point I called Ford roadside assistance.  I have to say I was incredibly impressed by the service we received.  Not only did they get a tow truck driver to come out with a flatbed, but they also paid the first $200 and negotiated the total amount down to $535.  That may sound like a lot for a tow but people have routinely been paying $750 – $1K for tows up here and I could totally live with paying $335 to get it off the road on a Friday night.  Lee ended up going out and being with the truck until 1:30am because it barely fit on the flatbed, but the driver also took it right to the closest Ford dealer and roadside assistance left them a message that the truck was there and why.

The next morning we called and things again went VERY smoothly.  It was taken to the Surburban Auto Group in Sandy and since we had an oil change there last year we were already in the system.  They confirmed that the truck was covered under warranty (we are at 94,000 miles and are good until 125,000 whew) and also told us the bearing had gone bad (defective part) and it was all covered except for our $100 deductible.  Wow…this has to be the best repair experience since we have been on the road and as a cute side note you may have heard of Suburban Auto Group, because 10 years ago they had some viral commercials featuring their trunk monkeys. If you haven’t seen the commercials here’s one to get you started..and it’s pretty amazing Lee saw this back in New Hampshire before we ever hit the road and then ended up here.   They were great, the tow driver was great, the camp hosts who helped us were great and seriously this whole thing could have been so much worse in many many different ways.  I even have a rental car that is totally covered for some of the days and the Gresham Enterprise dealership was awesome also. One of our camp hosts was kind enough to drive me down on Saturday to get the rental car and to say thanks I bought us lunch.  She turned me on to a restaurant in Boring called the Red Apple which is a combination diner and Chinese restaurant (not making that up) and I had one of the best club sandwiches I have ever had.


When these sorts of things happen it’s never pleasant, but since it is inevitable that they will when you are traveling full time on the road, you REALLY appreciate the people and businesses that help you through it.  I could have been alone, we could have had to have walked many more miles, insurance might not have covered it, there could have been no rental cars…seriously things could have definitely been a ton worse.  God was looking out for us, and I am grateful that things went how they did.

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Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.