This Rarely Happens Here

One thing about this job is that every day is different.  If I had a dollar for every time someone said, “That rarely happens up here,” I wouldn’t be rich, but I definitely would have enough for a nice dinner and a movie.  It’s part of the job, and one I generally enjoy, because the variety keeps it interesting, but there are times when I do long for a really boring day.  Friday started off OK.  Generally in the morning I make the rounds checking in with people before the long weekend, and while I was driving to the campsites I came across an adorable little dog standing in the road.  This was definitely a “city dog,” tiny and coiffed, and the poor thing was shaking because it had no idea where to go.  I stopped the truck and scooped her up and then took her down to the nearest campground, where luckily we were able to reunite her with the owner.  Maggie was really glad to be back with her people, and I felt really good because it’s such a big area I just felt lucky we got her before she wandered into the larger woods, which would have been very bad for a dog her size.

After the reunion, I headed towards the next campground and learned that we had an incident with some drunken raccoons.  Yep, you read that right.  We have recycling stations in all of the campgrounds and several camp hosts have noticed slits in the bottom of the bags and cans strewn about.  At first we thought it was kids or maybe can thieves (at 10 cents a can yes that is a thing up here), but one of my hosts saw a very unstable raccoon wobbling away from the bag area.  Turns out that the leftover soda (and beer) is pretty tempting to them, and we think they are drinking the beer leftovers and getting drunk.  When this problem was presented to me, I’ll be honest I absolutely drew a blank.  Drunken raccoons is outside of my area of expertise, so I told the camp host I would have to get back with them on a solution.  It was funny, don’t get me wrong, but raccoons are wild animals and it’s definitely something we will need to keep an eye on.  Plus it was one more oddball thing to had to the list of “we’ve never seen that before.”

Those two incidents ended up OK, and will make for nice stories to tell around a campfire, but the third one was not.  I was hesitant about even writing about it here, but I am up at 3:30am, and those of you who have read this blog know that that’s what happens when I have a story I simply need to tell.  So here goes.

After lunch I received a call on the radio that a horse had fallen into a ravine on a trail about a half a mile from one of our campgrounds.  Since we are in a remote location, with spotty cell coverage, many people will come to our location when there is an incident because they know we have landlines.  In this case, the incident happened in a spot in the forest where there was no cell coverage at all, but we have a radio system that reaches the spot so Lee and another employee immediately went to the scene and then hiked up the trail to see if they could help. What he came upon was pretty incredible, and since there is simply no way to adequately describe it I am going to include a picture.

In the first picture, you can see how far down they are from the ridge, and how difficult the boulder field is to maneuver in.


In this second picture, you can see how tight the fit was in the hole. There’s a little room on the left in the rear, but not enough to actually do anything.

 

What I learned later was that two riders were on the upper edge of the ridge, and one of them was spraying bug spray, and got some into her eyes. She dismounted to deal with that, and while she was cleaning her eyes a hiker came along and the horse got a little spooked. It started stepping backwards, and took one step too many and went over the edge of the ridge, rolling down into a boulder field about 30-40′ below. The horse miraculously landed, mostly unharmed apart from a few abrasions, a hole deep enough that the surrounding boulders were a little higher than it’s back. It was surrounded by boulders bigger than itself, and although it probably could have climbed or scrambled out of the hole, there was literally nowhere for it to go.  There was no clear way up to the bank and no way down to the water, so it was stuck on a ledge of rocks and wedged in this hole.  The owner (who was unhurt thankfully) was with the horse trying to keep it calm, and one of the full-time company employees who happened to be in the area hiked up to the scene.  It became clear pretty quickly that the only way to get the horse out was to lift it out with a helicopter, and a ton of radio traffic ensued as we tried to find the right organization who could help.

We called the sheriff’s office, who passed it to a volunteer rescue group, but because it was the Friday of Independence Day weekend around 2pm by this time, it was hard getting through to people. I was back in the office making these calls and relaying the information, when one of our other full time employees who had experience with helicopter logging came into the office and starting calling people he knew.  The owner had the means to pay for a helicopter, but finding one that could handle a 1,000+ pound horse and had the rigging to do it was difficult.  At this point I went up to the scene and left someone in the office to help field calls.  Once I arrived, I saw that there was no easy solution.  The horse was completely jammed in, and was getting more upset by the moment.  They had some oral tranquilizers on hand which helped keep her calm, but it was difficult, and on a couple of occasions the horse was rearing up trying to get out, which could lead to a broken leg.  After witnessing this a couple of times, I started to be concerned about the employees in the area.  I gathered as much information as I could, got the names and number of several people I could contact for the owner, and then cleared as many people from the scene as I could. It was absolutely heartbreaking, and I knew there was no way we could leave her there with no support.

Once I got back to the office, things started happening pretty quickly.  They had found a helicopter pilot who was willing to come, and I learned that for search and rescue missions we needed to block off the road to the dam so the helicopter would have a place to land.  We actually had to secure three separate areas of the facility.  The area the pilot would land, the area where the horse was, and the area where they planned on lowering the horse once it was airlifted out.  All of this required coordination and a ton of people, but luckily I had lots of volunteers from the campground staff, and within 20 minutes we had a plan and people in place to execute it.  The former logger (who had rigging experience) was taking the lead on coordinating the lift itself and our team provided the ground support they needed.

As much as I was worried about the horse, my primary responsibility are the people who work for me.  We issued safety vests and hard hats to people, and every step of the way we talked about how we could handle this as safely as possible.  During this time period, a full time employee never left the horse, and several people worked at the office making phone calls, relaying information from a veterinarian who was on the phone (several more doses of tranquilizer were administered by the owner), and coordinating with the humane society, forest service, and sheriff’s department. My biggest concern, other than landing a helicopter on the road across the dam, was the area the horse would be lowered. We had no idea what condition the horse would be in when it landed, and I didn’t want any of our people anywhere near it.  Lee went to the campground a few miles away where the riders had started from, an equestrian campground, and got a friend of the horse owner to bring her truck and trailer to the “drop zone” so it could be trailered quickly. We also sent one of our camphosts to the equestrian campground to bring back some experienced horse people to take control of the horse, and remove the rigging and handle it as it landed.  We also cordoned off the area, notified all the nearby campers, and had several people posted on the perimeter to keep the crowds away from the drop spot in the event the horse got loose.

Landed right in the center

When the helicopter pilot landed safely, I felt much better.  The pilot was experienced at heavy lifts and rescues and put together a solid plan before getting into the air.  At this point it was around 5:30pm and the horse was getting tired.  Still the pilot made sure we understood the plan step-by-step and we set up three main areas with lead personnel at each scene.  I took the area where the horse would be dropped off, because I thought that had the highest chance that someone might get hurt and worked out that the horse would not be released from the harness until he was secured on the ground.  It was a long shot, but my thought was if the horse starting running wild through the campground someone could get really hurt and the safety of the campers and staff had to be my primary concern.

Finally the plan was in place and the pilot took off to the location with the employee who would be doing the rigging for a recon. After that he dropped off the rigger at the dam who then drove to the drop zone and from there hiked up to the horse. Once he had relayed the plan to the others at the horse’s location and rigged up the harness, the helicopter took off again and flew to the scene to hover while they connected the harness to a 100′ drop line from the helicopter. After 10 minutes or so of attempting to lift it, they decided to abort and re-rig the harness so the helicopter flew back to the dam. After re-rigging they tried again. From all accounts the pilot did an outstanding job, hovering in a gap in the trees while they tried to get the horse connected into its makeshift harness.  The problem was the horse at this point was sitting on its haunches and they couldn’t get the netting completely underneath her.  The second time they tried to lift the horse enough to adjust the harness while she was hanging, but again they were unsuccessful.  At this point the pilot was worried about light and fuel, and said he could only make one more attempt.

I would love to tell you here that the third time it worked and the horse was carried to safety.  I would love to say that everyone’s hard work and dedication and prayers worked and the horse survived. (Twenty-plus people who worked hard at this for nearly nine hours for someone none of them had ever met) But I can’t tell you that.  I will say that everyone worked as hard as they could and the outcome was absolutely devastating for all involved.  Ultimately the decision was made by the owner to put the horse down and it was done quickly and humanely. If this was a movie I would have some wonderful video to share with you of the horse being airlifted to safety.  It wasn’t a movie though, it was real life, and as proud as I am of all the people who tried to help, I hope to God that nothing like this ever happens again.


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 at Little Crater Lake

The next morning Linda still wasn’t feeling well, she’s been fighting a nasty cold the entire visit, so Howard, Lee and I took the planned hike to Little Crater.  We had been hearing about the “mini crater lake” that was a short hike away.  There are multiple points to hike from, but I wanted Howard to see North Arm campground, so we drove up that way and parked and started out on a 1-1/2 mile hike to the site.  Once again we had beautiful weather and the trail was my favorite kind.  It was level, with minimal roots or obstructions, and the absolute best part was the carpet of pine needles which made the ground give a little.  Absolutely perfect!  It was also incredibly peaceful along the trail as we only saw four other people the entire hike.

 

Hiking with Howard (and Linda) is a ton of fun, because they are very educated on plants and birds.  Plus they are more than willing to tailor their speed to the people they are walking with and tailor their conversation as well.  Usually I treat hikes a little bit like I treat church, with quieter voices and conversations that are relevant to where we are.  We see people all the time walking in nature who seem oblivious to what is around them and are talking about all kinds of things, and frankly I don’t get it.  For me it’s less about the exercise and more about communing with nature and thankfully, Howard is a like minded guy.

I was excited when we got to walk a section of the Pacific Crest Trail..a first for me.

 

Howard pointed out these Trillium Flowers which have the same name as the lake we paddled the day before. I honestly never made that connection 🙂

 

No horses are allowed on the PCT but this hitching post gave trail riders a place to hitch up before going to Little Crater

 

The walk was very pleasant and it didn’t take us long to hit a meadow with lots of flowers and butterflies.  It was really pretty and we all took lots of pictures before turning a corner and arriving at little crater.

Path through the meadow

 

 

Howard said these butterflies rarely pose like this. I was able to get several pictures

 

 

Lee’s pic…it’s a beauty

 

Lee’s pic

 

Little Crater

The crater was much smaller than I expected (it’s actually an artesian spring), but it was very photogenic and we had the place completely to ourselves.  We spent some time taking pictures and hanging out until another couple arrived and we headed back.  The location didn’t have the grand scale of many other things we have seen, but the hike was pleasant and the company was great and I really enjoyed being out in nature.

It was amazing how clear the water was and how deep. These are full size huge trees in the spring.

 

Glad to see this posted, although I am not sure how much it is honored when it gets hotter, because the water stays cool all year.

 

Howard on the little platform

 

Lee and Howard taking a look at the one duck hanging out.

 

This sign explained how the “lake” was created

 

It was fun trying to get pictures of the reflections from the trees. I wish I could have gotten the entire tree and its reflection.. Howard came close with his camera.

 

We also saw this newt which it turns out is one of the most toxic animals on the planet. Who knew??

 

It really was pretty

 

After hiking out, we all went back to see Linda, who was feeling much better.  She made Kelly’s pot roast recipe in the instant pot and we had a wonderful dinner and some great conversation.  I love those campfire chats that go beyond the superficial and delve deep into emotions and feelings and this night absolutely qualified. It was a great way to cap off their visit, and I am so grateful that they managed to squeeze us into their hectic schedule.  I can’t wait to read about their adventures this summer in Washington State and Iceland, and if the timing works out we might get to see them again at the end of the season.  Love you guys and thanks for being great friends!

Lee is excited about the pot roast!

 

Howard and Linda

 

Lee, Linda, and Howard

 

 


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 at Timberline Lodge

Before I get started I wanted to share a picture of the view right outside Howard an Linda’s campsite.  Once they walk through the trees down by the lake this is what they see.  Pretty cool!

 

Ok back to the story.  I left off with us finishing paddling Trillium Lake, and we all decided to head to Timberline Lodge for lunch.  Several people had recommended the lodge for fine dining, and since we all love a good meal we decided to splurge and try it out.  We decided to hedge our bets though and go for lunch since the prices were crazy expensive and at least they had a lunch buffet with a fixed price.  Since we have been disappointed numerous times in the last several years with dining out, I told H&L it was totally up to them if they wanted to stay and eat there.  Linda wanted to check the lodge out anyways since the exteriors for the movie The Shining were shot there, so we all decided to decide once we were on site.

The drive up was pretty, and the temperatures dropped from 81 degrees to 67 degrees with the relatively short 6 mile drive.  I was surprised by how much activity was going on up there on a Wednesday, but since there was still some snow, several people were skiing or snowboarding.  That was an interesting change going from paddling in barefoot to seeing people in full snow outfits, and that’s part of the fun of living out here in Oregon.

Timberline Lodge

Ski area with some shops

The view from up top..the pic really doesn’t do it justice. It’s worth the drive for the view alone

Close up of the mountain top right behind the lodge

I have never seen The Shining (I am not a scary movie person), so the outside didn’t do much for me, but I did like the fact that it was an historic hotel and the circular, multiple story fireplace inside and some of the carved wooden banisters were pretty cool.  We wandered our way through the hotel and eventually found the Cascade Dining Room which had a lunch buffet.  As soon as we walked in we noticed that the windows all had plastic sheeting on them and men were actively working on the facade outside.  We all kind of looked at each other and briefly talked about whether we should leave, but since we were really hungry we decided to stay.

Loved this fireplace, couldn’t take a picture that did it justice

The Cascade Dining room is actually really small. We asked if there was outside seating but there was none.  Our table was right behind the woman with the blonde hair on the right.

 

And this was right next to us.

The construction didn’t really bother me that much, I understand they have a limited season to work on this kind of stuff, but right after we sat down the banging started.  This wasn’t just painting or screwing things in, but sawing and hammering that was so loud we frequently had to stop our conversation.  Towards the end there was sustained drilling noise that reminded me of being at the dentist and I actually put my hands over my ears.  It was pretty ridiculous, but don’t take my word for it, Lee shot some video to share with you.

 

 

We all laughed though about the “ghostly figures”and random banging noises though and honestly if the food had been great we probably would have been fine.  Unfortunately that was not the case and not only was the food mediocre in some cases it was downright inedible.  Howard and I split a brownie, for instance, and we both took a bite and spit it out.  Linda asked, “How do you screw up a brownie,” which was an excellent point and gives you an idea of how the menu was.  There was a very small selection and only a few items were any good at all.  I liked the roasted carrots and the yukon garlic potatoes, but the roast beef was super bland and the “salads” they provided were all pretty unappetizing.

Salads…they tasted about as good as they looked which tells you something.

Charcutterie…I had some cheddar cheese cubes I think.

More ghostly figures

Later we saw the guys working from the outside.

 

And just to be clear here, it’s not that I didn’t “get” the food.  We have all eaten in many high end restaurants and it wasn’t that it was too fancy, it just didn’t taste good.  The best thing on the bar was a waffle iron to make your own waffles.  They tasted pretty good, but the only toppings provided were butter and syrup.  My biggest disappointment was the desert section. Of the 7 different mini deserts I tried, I only liked one.  I think the thing that bother us all the most was that the buffet cost $25 dollars a person.  Lee had a soda which was $3.50 and my ice tea (which was quite good) was an additional $4.  At the end of the meal, Howard asked for an ambiance discount and amazingly the waitress gave us $5 off.  It never hurts to ask for that sort of thing, although I rarely do, and we all felt a little better when we got a discount.  Still I think this was all important enough to focus an entire blog post on it, because several people I work with are talking about going their for anniversaries, etc.  From all accounts you can easily drop $100 on dinner for two at the lodge, and I want to make sure people are coming close to getting what they are paying for.

The only good thing that came from the experience, is we all laughed quite a bit and we will forever have a story to share.  hopefully we will all meet up in our 80’s someday and talk about that time we ate at that god awful haunted restaurant! Next up is back to nature, with a hike to Little Crater.  That was much more fun and cost us exactly $0, which tells you something.  In the last four years, nature has rarely disappointed us and generally costs very little.  Restaurants almost always disappoint and are pretty expensive.  we really should just stick to nature!


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 Paddle at Trillium Lake

When we are spending the summer working in a place, we let our friends and family know and hope that travel plans intersect so that we can still see people even though we are less mobile than others.  We’ve been pretty lucky with this over the years, and our friends have gone to some trouble to change their routes and come and see us.  this year though we are in a pretty remote location and a person has to really want to see us to make the trip.  So when I got an email from Howard & Linda that they had carved out 4 days to spend with us, I was really happy. Not only are they the people who inspired us to become full-timers, but they are also our friends and a lot of fun to hang out with.  I’m sure if you’ve been reading my blog you know who they are, but just in case you are new to this blog and have never heard of theirs, they have a website called RV-Dreams and in my opinion it is the single best resource on the web for people who are considering becoming full time RVers. And more importantly, they and our other friends we met through RV dreams rally are family now.

Part of our family tradition is to cook for people on their travel days so they don’t have to cook at the end of a long driving day. When they arrive on Monday Lee pulled out all the stops.  He made one pound rib-eye steaks, baked potatoes, and corn on the cob and Linda brought a bottle of wine, which she and I thoroughly enjoyed.  We ate, and talked, and laughed and had a really great time, and even though she was fighting a nasty cold stayed by the fire until 9pm. We had a lot to talk about, because after 13 years of full timing in a fifth wheel, Linda and Howard had recently switched to a much smaller Class C. The transition is really interesting to hear about and I love seeing all the mods she made on the inside to accommodate the “downsize.”

Howard and Linda’s new C Class RV

 

They stayed at Gone Creek Site 17 which actually has Verizon service. Hardly any of the sites up here have it and I was thrilled when we discovered this was one of them.  Plus right through those trees is a beautiful view of Mount Hood.

 

Lee trying to clean the corn

 

Mmmm steaks!

 

Linda and I “crushed” that bottle of wine. It was the best rose I have ever had.

Tuesday we had to work, so Linda took it easy trying to recover from the cold, but found time to finish a latch hook project I had started at the reunion rally and never had time to finish.  When I came to see her after work, it was completely done, which was lovely since it probably would have taken me weeks to finish it.  I’m just not very crafty.  Howard took advantage of the time and hiked the 13 mile trail around Timothy Lake.  I was really glad to hear that he thought the trail was in good condition and I could tell he really enjoyed himself from the big smile on his face when we walked back.  I was on call Tuesday night, so we hung out at their site and had a cheese plate that Linda put together, then we all called it an early night with plans to paddle Trillium Lake early the next morning.

Linda working on my trivet

 

Look how pretty!!

 

Howard coming back from his hike

 

I am not a huge fan of dates, but these were really good. The combination of dates and babybel cheese was yummy.

There is so much to do in this area, I had thought long and hard about what activities to pick for our days off and finally settled on a paddle at Trillium Lake.  We have had an inflatable boat from the very beginning, and we purchased it after watching a demo at our first RV-Dreams rally.  We don’t get to use it much, but we are always glad we have it, and were especially glad we had similar boats when we discovered we were missing our pump adaptor, but no worries, we could use Howard and Linda’s.  We drove the 16 miles to the lake and Howard turned to me with a grin and said, “Nice view.”

Setting up our boats at the lake

 

Like Howard said, nice view

 

I know crazy right, but that is exactly what it looks like

 

Howard and Linda on the water

Linda likes to travel the lakes edge, especially because she is participating in a trash pickup challenge.  So we took our time going around the lake and Linda ended up with a pretty decent haul of trash.  Don’t get the wrong idea, the lake was actually pretty clean, but it is very popular and she was vigilant so she ended up with a nice pile by the end.  The weather was a gorgeous 81 degrees, and in the morning we had clear skies with poofy clouds.  It was perfect for pictures, so let me share some with you to hopefully give you a feel for the day.

Linda picking up trash with her sticks

 

Quite the haul we were laughing about the one shoe

Close to noon the clouds started rolling in, which obscured the mountain, plus the lake was getting crowded.  It is a popular place for family picnicking, so, if you are looking for a quiet paddle I definitely recommend going very early in the morning.  We took a few more pictures, I loved the cloud reflection on the water, and then packed up our boats and headed out.  We had one more adventure that day, which I will share in the next post., but I will leave you with one more thought.  At one point when we were out on the lake, Linda said, “What would you have been doing in your old life on a Wednesday?” I laughed and said, “Certainly not this,” but her comment really stuck with me.  We’ve been living the full time lifestyle long enough now that it has become our new normal.  There is nothing wrong with that, but it’s important once in awhile to take a moment and really appreciate how extraordinary this life is.  No, it isn’t perfect, but there are some incredibly special moments and we are really grateful that we were able to spend this one with our friends.

 

 


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 at Silver Falls State Park

I like the concept of hiking.  Being in nature, seeing flowers, trees, and the occasional animal is wonderful and I am a huge fan, but I am not such a fan of the hard work it often takes to get there.  Uneven trails where you have to watch your feet more than the view. and steep climbs and descents are not fun for me, and I know enough about myself now to understand that I will never be a person who hikes for the sake of hiking.  For me, it’s all about getting to the place to see the pretty thing, and knowing that about myself I am careful about which hikes I choose, and always judge them in the end on whether or not it was worth it.  I should also mention that because I don’t feel I can really trust most online reviews (my level of difficulty scale is usually much higher than others), I mainly stick with shorter hikes and Lee lets me plan the hikes because his physical limits are greater than mine.

This year I feel a little differently.  After tracking our steps at Amazon over the holidays and consistently walking 10 miles in a 10 hour shift, I thought I felt like I could tackle some longer ones.  I was a little disheartened in Utah because walking on uneven ground is NOT the same as walking on a concrete floor.  Still, when I heard about an 8 mile loop that contained numerous waterfalls I knew I had to go and try.  After looking at the map, and reading about the trails online, I thought the best bet would be to tent camp in the state park and split the loop into two separate days.  Not only would this allow us to see all of the falls, it also gave us an opportunity to leave the Timothy Lake area and get some much needed job separation.

Lee was pretty great about the whole thing.  The burden of prepping all the gear fell on him and since he only had a couple of days to get that done, he worked on it late into the evening.  I was left with figuring out what we would eat, but since we have access to free ice up here, I was able to use a cooler to give us more variety.  So Monday night we were packed up and ready to go and then on Tuesday we left work early and headed towards Silver Falls State Park.  It was a beautiful drive and a bright and sunny day and ultimately we arrived at the campground at 2pm.  Since our site was open, we went ahead and set up our tent and then went up to the kiosk at 3pm for formal check-in.

The view from our site

 

Our Tent

I was a little disappointed that the campground wasn’t near any of the waterfalls, but I will say that it was incredibly neat and the bathrooms were super clean.   The sites had nice separation with foliage and trees, and even though it was completely full while we were there it never felt crowded.  We were in the tent area which is $19 a night, but the campground also has numerous large RV sites with electric for $29, which is a huge bargain.  The best part is the camping fees also included Day Use, so we didn’t have to pay the additional $5 to go explore.  Since it was only 4pm when we were all set up, we jumped in the car and drove across the street to the South Falls Day Use area.  This is by far the largest day use I have ever seen and shows the popularity of the park.

Just one of the many large picnic/group areas

The South Falls Day Use has restrooms, a cafe, a lodge, and nature store.  It also has beautifully paved paths that lead to views of the South Falls, which are wheelchair and dog friendly. We walked along a relatively short path checking out the buildings, and then we got our first views of a waterfall.

My favorite part of walking the paths was although they were level and clear, the surrounding vegetation was dense, green and quite beautiful.  And the trees were HUGE!

 

The Nature Store was really nice. Original buildings have been maintained as much as possible

 

Plus they carried PooPoo Paper made of recycled poo so that’s fun

 

Once again we learned that a state park was the vision of one person. Every time we run into a place like this we are incredibly grateful for that person’s foresight. The Federal government wasn’t interested in this land, so he bought a chunk of land with his own money and eventually talked the state into making a state park

 

This was a neat sign showing wing span. The bird at the top was a condor and Lee didn’t come close.

 

Finally we turned a corner and saw our first peek of South Falls

 

Really beautiful and I was instantly excited and couldn’t wait for our hike the next day.

After seeing the falls from the overlook we went back to our campsite and made some hamburgers and ate some potato salad.  Then we had a nice campfire and snuggled in for the night.  As soon as the sun went down it started getting pretty cold, but we hoped it would be OK, even though our sleeping bags aren’t rated for extremely cold weather.  It was pretty chilly though (I learned later it got down to 44 degrees), and at 3am I was wide awake and very cold.  I went outside as quietly as I could and managed to start a good fire in the dark, and as I was thinking about whether I should make coffee or not, I heard some animals fighting in the bushes behind us.  I turned on my flashlight and walked around a bit and saw a potato salad container on the ground that had been eaten.  When I flashed the light at our cooler, and saw that our piece of wood was still on it, I immediately thought “Who was the idiot that left food out.”  Then I flashed the light under the picnic table and saw a HUGE raccoon, just staring at me.  I whispered “Git!” to it a couple of times and it nonchalantly wandered off, but he made it clear that I was not the boss of him.  When I started hearing more rustling in the woods, I thought “Screw this,” and went back inside the tent and tried to go back to sleep.

The next morning we were both up pretty early and it was cold!  We started a fire, but this one seemed to take forever to generate any warmth and while we were waiting I told Lee about the potato salad container.  He looked in the cooler (which still had the wood on it) and said, “Yup that was ours.”  I immediately felt bad, because I know better than to leave an accessible cooler out and felt even worse because I was the idiot!  We secured the cooler and then decided we might as well get up and start hiking because it would start the blood flowing, so by 8:30 am we were parked at the North Arm trailhead.  This trailhead has a much smaller parking lot, but I wanted to start there because that half of the loop had more waterfalls than the southern half.  Plus I was hoping we would avoid the crowds by starting at a less crowded place, and that is exactly what happened.  We only saw two other couples for the first half of our hike and had the place all to ourselves.  I really can’t adequately describe how magical it was, so let me show you with a picture tour.

There were multiple small, unnamed waterfalls along the route and we walked out onto this one

 

The walk was along the river and then climbed along the edge of the canyon where I was glad we had the fencing.  You can see how close it was to the outcroppings.  We had to duck under in several places.

 

And then back down again

 

It was absolutely gorgeous

We then went into the cave behind the falls

 

For scale you can see the tiny bench in the middle right of the picture. It was completely empty the entire time we were there, which was really romantic.

 

It was hard top take pictures from the inside because of the difference in lighting but it was wonderful.  The rushing water sounds echoed in the cave and you really felt like you were inside the water, without getting wet of course!

Those of you who have been reading for awhile, know I am a self-proclaimed waterfall junkie.  So it definitely means something, when I tell you that North Falls is my new favorite waterfall.  I have seen bigger ones, and wider ones, but I have never experienced anything quite like this fall.  I absolutely loved it and because the path continues through the cave and out the other side, we got to take pictures from all angles.

 

We descended once again down to the river level and walked along the path until we came to this tree. It was a beauty and I just had to sit on it.

 

We also saw another great small waterfall and Lee walked out to get some video

 

The water was so clear

 

The flowers were also in bloom

 

Lee’s pic

 

And we even saw some berry bushes, which of course made Lee wonder about bears

 

There are a few smaller named falls along the way, but the Twin Falls were hard to see because the overlook was roped off. I think the smaller falls are actually more dangerous because people feel braver around them.

 

We ended up going down a steep side trail and I used my long lens to get this picture

 

One of the many school groups we ran into, gives you a feeling for what the crowds would be like on the weekends or in season.

 

Around the time we got to the sign for Middle North Falls, we started seeing people along the trails walking in the opposite direction.  There were several school groups on the trails, but thankfully most of those we passed quickly.  We also starting seeing smaller groups of people who we ran into later in the day.  Everyone was extremely friendly and helpful, which was a good thing, because my one complaint about the hike was the signs were a bit confusing.  Thankfully I had my paper map with me and I referred to it often.  A couple of times I even had to ask people coming the other direction for assistance, which was kind of strange since it is just one big loop.  Well really it’s not so much a loop as more like a figure 8 and in a couple of spots two different trails ran close together and we weren’t sure which path to take.  But like I said people were super friendly and we enjoyed meeting people throughout the day.  Generally we don’t talk to people much when we are hiking, but the waterfall stops really encouraged people to talk to one another. Plus lots of us were willing to take pictures for each other.

 

We were able to walk behind Middle North Falls as well. Most of the waterfalls you could walk behind which is what makes this place so special

 

It’s almost impossible (for me at least) to capture what looking through a waterfall is like. If you have never experienced it, you should definitely put it on your bucket list!

 

Maybe the smile on my face does help capture the experience

 

Middle Falls side view

 

Lee walked down a pretty muddy path with another hiker so he could get some video at the base. He was getting sprayed with lots of wind and water and loved it.

 

In the same small area there were three of the smaller falls, and although the views were less spectacular it was still neat that so many were together.  At this point we had a decision.  We could turn around and walk back to North Arm, leaving the rest of the loop for the next day or we could continue.  Since it was still pretty early (around 10:30am I think), we decided to press on and then stop at the cafe at South Falls before heading back.  My major concern was that the other loop had several long sections with no waterfalls, but since the morning had gone so well, I was game and we kept going.

Double Falls with Lee for scale.  We met a guy here with a Grove City, PA shirt on and since I grew up in Grove City, Ohio I actually knew exactly where that was.  They had come to Oregon on vacation and we had a nice chat.

 

Drake Falls was wide but only 27 feet tall

 

Lower North Falls was another wide one, but again couldn’t get a good picture. That was a bit disappointing.

 

At this point we had about 1.2 miles to get to Lower South Falls and although the walk was pretty it was getting much hotter and the trail was much more crowded

 

It was worth it though because the Lower South Falls were my second favorite of the day

 

Lee shooting some video

 

 

Looking up was spectacular

 

After the Lower South Falls though there was a series of very steep steps.  Those were a killer, especially because we still had a ways to go, but we took our time and I made it up them.  Then we had another half mile or so to reach the South Falls we had seen the day before.  This time we walked behind them and then walked up the hill to the upper level.

View of the bridge from the falls to give you an idea of how far up we had to walk at the end

 

 

Then from the falls we had to walk the trail winding along the hill to the very top.

At this point we were both very tired, but when I saw a sign to Frenchie Falls I had to check it out.  I had read that the most marriage proposals in the park happened at this location and since it was only a tenth of a mile away I headed down the trail.  Lee wasn’t crazy about the idea but he humored me, and we were both disappointed when we saw the falls had been blocked off and we couldn’t see them at all.  At that point he said “lunch!”, and I really needed to go to the bathroom (there are none along the trails) so we headed to the cafe and ended up having a pretty good lunch.  Lee got a pannini and I had a chicken Caesar Salad. We had gone 5.2 miles at this point and it was great to just sit down inside and rest for a minute.

 

This is where the trail stopped. We could hear the waterfall but couldn’t see it.

After lunch we headed out, really dreading the 2 mile hike along the Rim Trail back to the car.  I was hopeful that we would see at least one waterfall along the way, but the hike down to the Winter Falls was extremely steep and neither of us had that in us.  The Rim Trail was extremely well-maintained, but dogs were allowed and since the bike trail ran in parallel occasionally bikers were on the trail as well.  Plus despite having been told it was a level trail, we found the ups and downs a bit exhausting.  A big part of that was how tired we were, but it definitely wasn’t flat.  It was lush though and when we got near the parking lot we caught a glimpse of the North Falls which cheered me up.  By the end of the hike we had gone 8.3 miles, which was by far the longest hike we have ever taken.

The path, at least it was mostly shaded.

 

Love these little flowers

 

Glimpse of North Falls…still my favorite!

 

Hooray the parking lot!!

 

We did it or at least most of it.  We skipped the half mile connector between the canyon and rim trails.

At this point it was only 3:15pm, and we started talking about what to do with the rest of the day.  We could spend another cold night and then hike the Upper North Falls and Winter Falls the next day or we could strike the tent and head to Eugene and have dinner with our friends.  We had last seen Jim and Georgia in Campbellsville, KY as they were headed out on their own adventure.  They had decided that they wanted to live on the West Coast and had quit their jobs and headed that way.  After some traveling, they ultimately landed jobs in Eugene, Oregon managing a very nice 55+ community.  They had been there about two months and we hadn’t had a chance to see them yet, and since we were more than halfway there, decided to check with them and see if they could meet us spur of the moment.  Georgia said , “Of course!” (she’s awesome like that) and we had a great time seeing their place and then going to dinner.  Their job has a lot of similarities to running a campground, and we spent some time talking about what it is like to live where you work.

 

Georgia and Jim

 

Lee, me, Georgia and Jim

 

It was a great day and even though we got home at 11pm, we were glad to have done everything we did.  And as an added bonus we told the park ranger that we were leaving so they were free to rent out the site and we ended up getting a refund for the second night.  We certainly didn’t expect that, and she must have done it manually, and it was extremely nice of her.  It was a perfect cap to a wonderful stay and makes Silver Falls State Park the best state park we have ever stayed in.

 


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.

Two Visits to Hood River

Before we even came to Oregon, my friend Ruth was reaching out and trying to coordinate when we could see each other.  With her work schedule and mine being so complicated, we finally settled on meeting in Hood River for dinner, but I didn’t account for all the vacations I would be trying to cover.  Ultimately the week came and I wasn’t 100% sure I would be able to make it.  Thankfully several of the managers had noticed that I wasn’t really taking my days off and made arrangements for someone to come up from another area and cover for me.  That was incredibly nice of them and drove home how important it was that I start to get my days off under control.  It wasn’t just that I wasn’t doing anything, but I was also starting to get really tired and we all knew this pace wouldn’t be sustainable.  Plus, I finally was starting to feel more comfortable in the job, and thought it was a good time to get away.

So on the Thursday of our dinner, Lee and I both worked in the morning, but around 2pm we headed towards Hood River.  One of the most interesting things about living so close to a mountain is the weather patterns can change dramatically.  In this case it was gray and overcast when we left Timothy Lake, and sunny and 20 degrees warmer at a lower elevation.  Since we had extra time we went into this great Olive Oil store called Arome and taste tested several oils, vinegars, salts, and teas before making our purchases. There’s nothing quite like the “good stuff” when you are talking about olive oil, and I walked away with a pretty large jar of the mild.  Lee picked up some hickory flavored salt to try on steaks and we really had a nice time.

Then we walked down to the restaurant and took a few pictures in front of the fountain.  We were a few minutes early, but I told Lee I knew Ruth would already be there.  And sure enough she was and we had a very lovely dinner with her and Dale. They spend a ton of time in Oregon, and she recommended lots of places for us to go and see.

The restaurant had a cool fountain right outside

 

I had a grilled cheese with blueberries. Neat concept but not quite sure those two things go together

Lee had pork riblets which he really liked

From Left: Dale, Ruth, me and Lee

After we said our goodbyes and were heading out, I saw a sign for the Hood River Annual Library Sale on Saturday.  I love libraries and library sales and since they only usually happen once a year I always get excited when I stumble across one.  Plus because of the vacation schedule I actually had Saturday off, so I resolved right then and there to make the trip down again.  When Saturday morning came I almost talked myself out of it.  It was 1-1/2 hours to get to Hood River and I had no idea if the sale would be good or not.  But, mindful of my need to disconnect on my day’s off, I jumped in the truck at 8:30am and headed that way.  God/The Universe smiled upon me because it was an absolutely beautiful day.  Since it actually took less time than I thought, I took a few minutes and drove up to Panorama Point.  The parking lot was completely deserted and I got some wonderful pictures of Mt. Hood and the valley.

Hood River valley is known for it’s wine.

 

After seeing the view I arrived at the library at 10:02am and found free parking.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but was thrilled to learn that the cost was only $2 a bag.  I plunked down a $10 bill and pretty quickly filled up two paper grocery bags full of recipe books.  After that I saw they had lots of movies and grabbed a bunch of those to add to the little movie library the office has for the staff. They didn’t have much in the way of books, but I did grab several about hiking in the area (which I donated to the staff library) and one absolute treasure called Romance of Waterfalls. It’s an older book and a little out of date, but has terrific descriptions of the hikes.  Plus for every waterfall it recommends kissing spots, which I loved!!

The Hood River library

While I was driving to the library, I saw a sign for the Farmer’s Market and was thrilled to see it was open on Saturday as well.  There are tons of farms in the Hood River area, so as soon as I finished at the library I drove over.  It was a really, really good farmer’s market.  All locally grown and a great mix of farm products and crafts, which was nice to see.  I bought some spinach, some cabbage, and some gorgeous radishes and then headed back to Timothy Lake an extremely happy person and more relaxed than I had been since I got here.

Loved all the great signs, especially this one

The musician was really good. I gave him my change when I left.

I bought some beautiful vegetables from here.

Lots of the booths had signs talking about their mission.

Or belief system

There were tons of dogs, but they were very well mannered, which was nice to see. That can be a problem at some farmer’s markets

I had such a good time that as soon as I got back, I went and looked online to reserve a tent site at a state park Ruth had recommended.  It’s a good thing I did because they were totally booked in July, so I grabbed the next Tuesday and Weds night after asking Lee if it was OK.  It was really short notice, but since he was in full agreement we needed to start taking our days off he rolled with it.  Next up I’ll share our amazing time in Silver Falls State Park, which turned out to be our favorite State Park that we have ever been in.


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.

May Budget 2018 with Money Tracking Explanation

We often get the question of how we track our money, and when David mentioned recently he was “drowning in receipts” (I can relate) (No she can’t. I can relate. – Lee)  I thought I would go ahead and combine the explanation of how we track our money with this month’s budget, so those of you who skip these budget posts, can skip this explanation first, before you skip the budget post. (You never know, though, there might be a pretty picture at the end of a budget post, and if you skip it, you’re only robbing yourself. – Lee) Let me start by saying it wasn’t easy initially.  In our former life, we were used to having enough money that we didn’t need to track every penny, and it was quite the mental transition to not only track everything, but also talk about it.  (I still tracked every penny back then, I just didn’t care what the data revealed. Well, I cared a little. I used to hassle the kids about how much it cost to leave lights on, to the point where I made a spreadsheet of how much an hour of anything electrically powered cost, and put post it notes all over everything. I was a super cool dad. Oh, and I also told them, a LOT, about how I didn’t want to heat the neighborhood while they opened the sliding door all the way to let out a dog that needed a 6 inch opening. Did they think we were MADE of money? Also, food waste makes me crazy. And turning up the heat so they could walk around the house in shorts and a t-shirt, with no shoes or socks in the winter. Sorry. I ranted a little bit there. Apparently I still have a little New England Fuel Oil Cost PTSD.  – Lee) I know from talking to our friends, we aren’t alone in this, and although people track to varying degrees, everyone it seems is tracking more than they did prior to becoming full-timers.

So how do we do it?  Well for me it starts with a spreadsheet, and I purchased the basic template from Howard at RV-Dreams before we even went on the road. Yes, I could have created my own, but I liked his format and I wanted to support him and his lifestyle, so I bought his way back in the summer of 2013, and never looked back.  I have been using it since the beginning, and am a big fan.  It’s relatively simple, all the formulas work, and it helps me stay organized.  We have changed descriptions on some of the categories over the years to ones that work a little better for us, but mostly we have used it as is.

As good as the spreadsheet is you have to get the information into it and that’s where we initially ran into a problem.  Initially we tried to keep all our receipts, but we kept losing them, or didn’t get them, and it just didn’t work.  This was making Lee crazy, and ultimately he decided to use a program called Quicken which he was familiar with because he used it at his former job.  Quicken does all kinds of amazing things, but I still preferred my spreadsheet, so what Lee does is download our transaction info from all of our accounts into Quicken and then categorizes each purchase so they match what we have in the spreadsheet.  He then runs me a weekly report, which I transcribe into the spreadsheet. (Sorry, I just need to take a moment. I’m  just laughing and laughing at her use of the word “weekly”. It’s June 7, and as soon as I proof read the first part of this post I’m going to load up Quicken and categorize all of May’s transactions because the last one I did was May 2nd. Then I’ll run the category reports so she can put them all into the spreadsheet. Weekly. That’s funny. – Lee)  

This is double the work, certainly, but what I like about this system is if he makes a categorization mistake I catch it when I move the numbers over. And the categories are important.  In order to control our spending we need to know where the money is going and to trust that information it needs to be input in properly at the beginning.  Even though this sounds like a ton of work, and initially it was a little challenging, at this point all of that happens very quickly (still giggling. – Lee) with both of us spending maybe an hour a month on budgets.  It actually ended up being way less time than rifling through a million receipts, and we never have to worry that what we enter into the spreadsheet doesn’t match what we have in the bank. (Do as we say, kids, not as we do. – Lee)

The only tricky part is cash, and we try to use that as little as possible.  Let me give you an example.  We know we will need cash for campground fees or a special event so we take $100 out of the bank.  In Quicken we can break that $100 down and categorize it, but since we tend to hold onto to the cash in our wallets, they don’t always get categorized in the same month we took the money out.  My solution to this has been to capture cash purchases in the spreadsheet as they happen, and to be honest occasionally one slips through the cracks.  (Back to laughing really hard again. Laughter is good for the soul, thanks, honey! – Lee) But since we prefer using cards (we want the AmEx points!!!) this generally isn’t a huge deal in the grand scheme of things.  We had a similar issue with our Pilot/Flying J fuel card (transactions not showing up until the next month when we got the statement). so now Lee enters our Pilot gas purchases on the spreadsheet as they occur and when the bill comes in the next month I just ignore that charge because it’s already been input. Figuring out how to handle the fuel was a much bigger deal, because that can have a huge impact on our budget in any given month, but we seem to have a system that is working.

I am sure this all sounds pretty complicated, and initially it was.  It eventually it becomes second nature and what I like about it is we are both seeing all the transactions every single month.  It’s much easier to hold each other accountable when we both have a stake in “paying the bills” and even though there is some double work involved, this stops one of us from being oblivious to what is going on.  The only other thing I will mention here is that now we talk about a money a lot more than in our old life. Initially those conversations were very stressful, but now it’s rarely any different than talking about who is going to take out the trash.  That is a major improvement for us, and came from us “meeting in the middle” in money conversations.  I stopped worrying obsessively about every little dime and Lee stopped holding the information so closely and then giving me the bad news all at once.  This transition did NOT happen overnight.  It took a couple of years for us to reach this place, but I often think that if nothing else came our of our full timing adventure, the way our relationship handles money now is a huge benefit.

Hope this answers the question.  On to the month of May!! The good news is that despite not having full pay periods we were only $61 over budget this month.  One of the benefits of working so hard was we didn’t have a ton of time to spend any money.  We definitely had issues with the grocery budget again though, which seems to be a pattern for us when we land in a remote place.  We end up stocking up, as if we were going to be snowed in or something, and then spend the rest of the summer trying to figure a way to eat all of that food.  More details are listed below.

 

Groceries – Like I said in the summary, we spent way to much and went over by $363.14.  On the plus side we were under by $121 in eating out which helps offset some of those costs.  

Memberships – Both our Costco and our Amex memberships came due this month and since those are both providing us value we went ahead and paid them.  Currently we aren’t paying for Work Kamper or Escapees so for now we are still under in this category. 

Clothing – Lee broke down and requested a bunch of work shirts. He’s been wearing this same model since 2006. When he finds something he likes he sticks with it. Instead of the black he’s always worn, he a moss green which goes better with the type of work he is doing now.  Since having a tucked in, buttoned down, well fitting shirt matters to him I was all for it.  Plus, these shirts really last. The ones he’s replacing are over 10 years old, and they’re in perfectly good shape, but the black has faded quite a lot. (I absolutely love these shirts. I wore both the long and short sleeve versions for 10 years at work, and I’ve continued to wear them since we hit the road. You’ve seen me wear them. I wear them pretty much every day, and they’re nearly indestructible. What I really like about them is that the tails are extra long, and they have arm gussets, so they stay tucked in. And I’ve never had a button come off of one. They’re pretty reasonable considering how long they last. Check them out here. – Lee) 

Miscellaneous – I spent $56 on plants for my garden for the summer.  I really should put this in entertainment or maybe food 🙂

Overall it was a good month, and I was pleased to see we only spent $3071 since it was all pretty crazy, and things tend to get out of whack when we are working so hard. Now that things have settled down we will really need to stay on our costs, because part of the reason we took these jobs is to sock away some money for our next break in October/November. Although that is always a balancing act when we also want to do stuff.  A friend of mine said the other day that she is finally “living within her means”.  I don’t know if we are actually doing that, but we are always getting closer, which is good enough for me.


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.