Wednesday, July 13, 2011

TTRVE - Day 7, 8 and 9

The trip odometer rolls at 1000. Our total trip length thus far is over 1200 miles. Gas pumps shut off at $100, typically resulting in a re-swipe of the credit card to finish the fill up. I don't even want to add up all of the gas receipts.

We spent two good nights at the View Crest RV Park. The middle day we took a short drive to Dry Lagoon, part of the Humboldt Lagoons State Park. The kids (all eight of us) enjoyed playing on the beach. The rocks were incredibly warm. The sand, soft. And much fun was had by all.

On day 8 we crossed back into Oregon and drove to Sunset Bay State Park, outside of Coos Bay. It was probably the best spot overall of the trip. We could walk out to the beach, which we did twice (once in the afternoon and again in the morning). A different beach than in California - in a little bay so a lot less surf. More sand and seaweed, less rocks. We saw some good sea life both times at the beach: sea anemones, crabs, etc.

The kids had even more fun playing in the sand.

Today we called another audible and changed our itinerary. Too tired of trucking (mostly tired of trying to keep the kids entertained while on the road) to make the long drive up to Astoria, OR. So we decided to stop outside Depoe Bay at the Sea and Sand RV Park for our last night before we cross back over to Portland and head home.

There might be a Del Taco stop on our way home...

Monday, July 11, 2011

TTRVE - Day 5 and Day 6

We were off the grid for a day at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Butte Lake Campground was a primitive campsite, complete with bear locker (to keep any food items in, so the bears can't get to it), biting gnats (all of the kids got little red bite marks on their necks which didn't swell but looked awful), a beautiful lake (Butte Lake which was the butte of many jokes), and no RV hookups or wifi.

So... this report is from both Day 5 (from Mt. Shasta to Mt. Lassen) and Day 6 (Mt. Lassen to Patrick's Point).

Day 5 was a full day - a morning of playing at the KOA, followed by a short 100 mile drive that culminated in a six mile section of washboard-like unpaved road. At times it seemed the entire RV was coming apart. Once we got to the campground we had the entire afternoon to play.

Since we have the coffee maker in our camper, we've decided to set up a little shop. The kids have made a sign for our shop: StaRVbucks - now open for business.

The kids loved the swings at the playground. Serious air.

Then, when we got to Butte Lake...

the first thing we did was go swimming...

Charlie was very proud of himself when he went in...

Then we did some exploring. In the forest there were lots of burned down trees so we had a discussion about charcoal. The kids conquered the charcoal log.

We rounded out day 5 with a barbeque and smores. Fabulous.

Day 6 we went back out the washboard road, hit the highway and drove to Redding to reload supplies at WalMart and have some lunch. And when I say lunch, I mean In N Out, which is more than just lunch.

We saw Mount Lassen on the way.

And after 90+ miles of mountain roads crossing at least three passes at decreasing elevations (4000+, 3000+, and 2000+ ft), we hit the 101 and saw the Pacific Ocean.

We are camped at the View Crest Lodge and RV park after an aborted entrance to Patrick's Point State Park. Turns out they didn't have RV hookups within the park (which was my mistake upon making the reservations). So the Toners wandered down the road and found another spot a mile away with full hookups.

It's a quiet place among the hemlocks, cedars and redwoods. It's much chillier here near the ocean though. Less bugs, which is a good tradeoff.

Friday, July 08, 2011

TTRVE - Day 4

Welcome to California.

Today we took a short drive down US 97 to I-5 and to the Mt. Shasta KOA. I don't think I've ever been to a KOA, even though you see them all over the place as you drive the highways and byways of America. (When we took an RV trip when I was a kid, in Grandpa Gino's RV, to Yosemite, we may have stayed at a KOA, but I can't remember where we stayed. I only remember the trouble with the brakes, and being freaked out, and staying in the RV while dad tried to walk back to a ranger station for help.)

But here we are at a KOA. And it's pretty cool. They have a (ice cold) swimming pool, and a neat playground for the kids, and they are showing a movie on a big screen behind the office where there is shuffleboard, horseshoes, and a big bbq pit.

The kids were very excited when we crossed into California. We had the "kid van" today with all four kids in our RV for most of the drive. This is the Toner kids' first time in California. You can see the excitement (or perhaps sheer terror) on their faces.

We stopped at a vista point on the highway to get our first real glimpse of Mt. Shasta. It's only 248 feet smaller than Mt. Rainier and quite amazing to see. When Mt. Mazama erupted (the god of the underworld was unhappy that the chief's daughter from the local tribe was unwilling to be his bride and move into the mountain with him, so he blew his top) they say the benevolent god in Mt. Shasta went to battle with the god of the underworld and won, thereby collapsing the mountain and turning it into Crater Lake.

So there's Mt. Shasta. Charlie dug it.

Now we have a quaint little spot at the KOA. Side-by-side RVs make for a nice "chill zone" in between.

And Charlie shows off what kind of chill zone we are talking about.

That's it for now. Hopefully another peaceful night's sleep, a late arousal and breakfast, then we'll be off to Mt. Lassen.

Goodnight from the Golden State.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

TTRVE - Day 3

We went to Crater Lake National Park today, but it all began with the most unpleasant part of RV camping. What to do about the poo.

I think the RV has a slight leak from one of the tanks. I don't want to guess if it's the black water (from the throne) or the grey water (sinks and shower). Really it's safer if I don't know. What the slight leak means is that there's always a bit of liquid when I take off the cap. Ugh.

So at WalMart yesterday we bought plastic gloves and bleach spray. And this is an operation we approach delicately. Very delicately. Thankfully it's over quickly and we can get on with the day.

We and the Toners all piled in our RV for the drive up to the crater. First stop was the visitor's center where we could get our passport stamp and find out how much of the loop road is open (answer: not much - still a ton of snow at the crater and they do twice-daily snowshoeing treks but the road is still not passable more than about six miles of the 33-mile loop).

At the visitor center I got some pics of the kiddies.

Then we commenced the drive around the crater to see how much we could see.

It really is an amazing place. The deepest lake in the United States at over 1900ft deep. The cleanest body of water in the world, as it is only fed by rain and snow. The bluest water you could imagine. And contrasted with the snow... spectacular.

Photos of course do not do it justice.

Catie was a bit unhappy at having to get out of the RV to look around. She would rather have played.

We have another night at the campground, hopefully better than last night. Charlie woke up screaming at 2am, which is when we noticed that the power had gone out so I stumbled around in the darkness outside only to discover that yes, the power cable was plugged in, and yes, the circuit breaker was still on. But it did not occur to me that the entire campground was pitch black - power outage not confined to us.

At about 5am: thunder and rain. Oh crap, the camp chairs are still outside. My second trek out of the night - fold up the camp chairs, stick them in the RV, back to bed. Everyone was up at 7:30am. Thank goodness we brought the espresso machine...

But right now I'm sitting outside in a camp chair (dry, thanks to the 5am wakeup), with a g&t (thanks to Jasmine), writing the blog post and fixing up the photos. It's a comfortable 70-something degrees. Andrew is lighting the charcoal for the barbeque, Jasmine is inside cooking tortellini for the kids. It's all good. Very, very good.

TTRVE Day 2 - Afternoon/Evening

I-5 South to Eugene, then OR 58 to US 97 south to Chiloquin. OR 422 West and OR 62 North to Fort Klamath. Now we are at Mosquito Haven (or more affectionately Crater Lake Resort).

Still Life with Citronella and Bug Spray

It's a quaint little spot by the side of Fort Creek, about 12 miles south of the entrance to Crater Lake National Park. Fort Creek apparently has superfood for mosquitos because they are large and undeterred by normal chemical means.

We spent a very long time stocking up at the WalMart in Woodland, after departing the RV park this morning. Loaded up with lots of food and RV supplies we hit the road for today's trek, which should be the longest single-day leg of the itinerary.

Notes from the trip:
- that section of US 97 is straight - Kansas Highway straight - an unbending, unwavering, hypnotizing laser beam cut down the Oregon volcanic plain
- some poor dude put his car in a ditch on the side of OR 58 - a ditch on the opposite side of the road - only guess is that something caused him to close his eyes for a second - bummer
- to uphold tradition (hi Carl) I put $8 in the Oregon State Lottery ticket kitty - we won $6 back and will purchase more tickets later
- Gas Total: $134 for 3/4 of a tank

Tomorrow we remain at the resort and will visit Crater Lake Natl Park. Should be great fun and I'll get some good photos.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

TTRVE - Day 2 Morning

Wind. The Columbia River is windy. Making the land yacht feel like a water yacht as we shimmied from the wind through the night. But everyone slept well and we all woke up to a beautiful morning by the river (the sun comes up early in the summer).

Thank goodness we brought the espresso machine - camping can be pretty decadent.

Now the kids are watching Tangled on the built-in TV and DVD player (with 5.1 surround sound, no less).

Took a couple of morning river shots below. We'll be heading out to Crater Lake around 10am (it'll be about 6 hrs on the road, we figure, with stops).

Ta Ta.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Team Tyrant RV Extravaganza - Day 1

There is more space in an RV than you would think - lots of storage bins here, there, under that, over that other thing, behind there, and in this other tiny crevice. And it takes longer to load it up than you would think. And it drives a bit like a squishy boat, steering wheel linkage through a Jello transfer case, and finally to the front wheels. But it's great fun.

We picked the rigs up from Seattle RV this morning. Got the complete walk through: here's how to switch the various bits on and off, here's the unpleasant black water hookup and the grey water dump, cable TV hookup, electric, city water, etc. "Propane and propane accessories" kept running through my head.

And now I am using the (slow) wifi at our first stop - Columbia Riverfront RV Park - sitting outside by the river with Jasmine, Andrew and Suzi. (The wifi apparently runs via microwave tower to a station on the hill nearby, and then via fiber to Seattle. They were out of tin cans and string.) Kids have just gone to bed (it's 10pm), so it's finally quiet. They were amped up all day, having a complete blast. Tomorrow we head out to Crater Lake, which will be our first real drive and the mark of real commitment to the trip. Right now we are still close enough to home to chuck it all and just head back: nice experiment, let's go to the pool. But no, this is going to be great fun. It already is.

Some photos from this evening:

RV and River Panorama

Kids playing near the Columbia River

Still Life With Beer

Andrew has his own blog which is charting the adventure here.

Stay tuned for more updates tomorrow...

Loading up

Here we go... our home on wheels for the next 10 days. Packing up at home and getting ready to hit the road!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Road Trip

On Tuesday, we're headed out on vacation. We’ve rented an RV.
The lifestyle seems quintessentially American, so how could we resist giving it a shot?