Monday, December 26, 2011

Four years as Fulltime RVers

Kathy health update:
Since we have been here Kathy has been seen by four doctors, had surgery, X-rays, ultrasound, laparoscopy and colonoscopy. After all of that they don't know what is causing her original pain and don't know what else to try. They told her to "give it a few months and report back". We can certainly wait a few months at Arizona’s Kartchner Caverns State Park as well as we can wait here.
So, we will be leaving on Tuesday for  Kartchner Caverns State Park near Benson Arizona. To start our 2 months as volunteers on January 1st.
Our Four years as Fulltime RVers:
Yes, on Monday the 26th it is 4 years since we pulled out of San Jose and started our adventure. Oh, the places we have been, the things we have seen and the people we have met. It has been amazing! As I think back on it the time has flown by and yet I can’t believe we have had the time to go so many places, do so many things and meet so many people. It continues to be a great adventure.
Our past year in review:
Back on January 1st I posted the following:
New Year’s Resolutions:
1. To get the rest of our 2010 travel blog and pictures posted.
2. Do a better job in 2011 than I did in 2010 at keeping the blog up-to-date. Really, could I do any worse
Well it took me until April, but I did finally complete the posting of our 2010 travel blog and pictures. I also think that I did a much better job of keeping the blog up-to-date.
I also wrote:
Plans for 2011:
Having travelled so many miles last year, for 2011 we are going to try to go no further than the Mountain Time Zone and stay at places longer. We are also thinking that  we would like to do some volunteering at a wildlife refuge, state or national park. We don’t want to commit to a 3 month stay, but if an opportunity to volunteer for a month so that  we can “get our feet wet” in volunteering were to come up we would jump on it. However, the plans of fulltime RVers are always cast in Jell-O
We cut back dramatically on the number of miles we travelled this past year. We only did about 8,000 miles. We never made it into the Mountain Time Zone but rather spent the whole year in the Pacific Time zone. After visiting 28 states and 4 Canadian provinces in 2010. We only visited 3 states in 2011.
The part of our 2011 plan that really came together was “we would like to do some volunteering at a wildlife refuge, state or national park. We don’t want to commit to a 3 month stay, but if an opportunity to volunteer for a month so that we can “get our feet wet” in volunteering were to come up we would jump on it.” We found 3 different Oregon coast Lighthouses to volunteer at for a month each. These were each a wonderful experience. Each Lighthouse has its own history, setting and personality. We met great volunteers that we remain in contact with and literally thousands of happy people that  went on our tours. Of course they were happy after all they were on vacation. At each Lighthouse we would have gladly stayed longer and look forward to returning at some time in the future.
Our tragedy in 2011: 
It has been almost 3 months since Raider past away. Neither of us can even look at a Golden Retriever without tearing up and yet if we see a Golden out for a walk we run over to it so that we can give it a hug. We still think of Raider everyday and miss him dearly.
Plans and resolutions for 2012:
None and none. We have been so focused on Kathy’s health issues that we haven’t even thought about where we might go or what we might do in 2012.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

We want to wish all of our readers a


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Monday, December 5, 2011

Another Month Has Gone By

Kathy's recovery from her hernia surgery has not gone as hoped. The pain from her surgery has been slow to heal. The Doctor said that is to be expected as her "intestines were like Swiss cheese".

More disturbingly is the original pain that brought Kathy to the doctor has not improved and has actually gotten worse since the surgery. The doctors are baffled by what the problem is as nothing shows on her CT scan.

We're still stuck in San Juan Bautista, CA, waiting for more medical tests
to be done. Some can't be performed until a certain time has elapsed since Kathy's
surgery. Waiting. Walking. Reading. A little more waiting...

However, the hills are getting greener around us, which make for lots of "happy cows" munching away. We actually can spot the resident coyote making his rounds among the cattle on our walks. Temps have gotten colder, dipped down to 26 degrees on Sunday morning! Ice on the truck's hood and windshield as we made our way to breakfast! And we've experienced at least 3 minor tremors (around 3.0) in the past couple of weeks. But then we're less than 5 miles from San Andreas Fault that goes up and down California! (pun intended :) At least we're on rubber tires and just bounce!

Bird population seems to be the same, although the Swainson's Thrush has been replaced with the Hermit Thrush.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Change in Plans

It has been over a month since our last blog post. Kathy says “We should have stayed in Oregon!”

First we want to thank the many, many people that made blog comments and sent private emails of condolences over our loss of Raider. With the three of us living together in 400 square feet, 24 hours a day for the past 4 years, everything reminds us of him. We still miss him terribly.

Our plan had been to visit the San Jose area for just two weeks to see our youngest son and take care of the annual doctor’s visits. Then we would be off to Arizona to start our winter volunteer position on November 1st. We had been excepted as volunteers at Kartchner Cavern’s State Park. Kartchner Cavern’s are simply amazing and unlike any other cavern you have ever visited. They were only open to the public 11 years ago and due to tremendous effort and dedication are the most pristine caverns open to the public anywhere. Also unique to our experience, the caverns are a constant 68 degrees and 99% humidity!

Unfortunately, things haven’t gone that way. We both had some issues come up during our annual exams. We have spent 3 or 4 days of each week going either to see doctors or to have various tests run. Kathy has had multiple X-rays and a CT scan. We have put more miles on our truck driving back and forth this month than we put on it all this past summer.

After completing our physicals, Kathy’s doctor confirmed she had at least one hernia. Short version: she is now resting after hernia surgery. The surgeon found 2 large hernias and several small ones, plus discovered some of the sutures had come undone from her surgery back in Jan. 2009. So those were mended.

I have been busy keeping Kathy comfortable, playing nurse and cook.  (Editor’s note: He is beginning to get dish pan hands from all of the dish washing! And he thought I liked washing dishes and doing laundry as a hobby!)

Kathy claimed that I was suffering from hearing loss. I told her it was just wax build up in my ear. My doctor said there was no wax in my ear. So I had to visit the audiologist for suspected hearing loss to keep Kathy happy. With my new amazing high tech hearing aid, I now hear things I didn’t realize I was missing. Like the high pitch sound the propane makes when the furnace or water heater is on. Also bird calls, I can find birds a lot better now.

We contacted the volunteer coordinator at Kartchner Caverns that we were unable to make it by November 1st, due to the surgery. She has been very understanding and we are still hoping that we will be able to get there in time to be volunteers in January and February of 2012.

Bird Notes:

Due to all of the events of the past month we haven’t done any “real” Birding. However, there are a remarkable number of birds both in species and numbers just here in the RV Park. Just doing our daily walking around the RV we have seen:

Spotted Towhee, California Towhee, Golden-crowned Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Oak Titmouse, Eurasian-collared Dove, Great Horned Owl (heard only), Barn Owl (heard only), Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Anna’s Hummingbird, Northern Flicker, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Golden Eagles, Western Blue Bird, migrating White Pelicans in formation, Scrub Jay, Turkey Vulture, Valley Quail, Common Bushtit, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, Rock Pigeon, Snowy Egret, Great Egrets, American Kestrel, California Thrasher, Yellow-rumped Warbler, House Finch, Brewer’s Blackbird, Common Raven, American Crow, Lesser Goldfinch, Say’s Phoebe, Black Phoebe, Dark-eyed Junco. An amazing 38 species without even leaving the RV Park!



Sunday, October 2, 2011

In Memory of Raider the RV Dog

Yesterday during Raider's evening walk he passed away from a sudden heart attack or stroke.
Yesterday Raider had come to me and put his chin on my the footrest of my recliner to let me know that it was time for his evening walk. He was his usual self with his big happy grin, schmoozing with anyone he saw to get extra love and sniffing everything in sight. The RV Park we are staying at has a nice thick lawn. Next to running on the beach, Raider’s favorite thing was to run on nice lawns. He started running even though he was still on leash. He and I jogged across the lawn. Then he sat town to catch his breath. He got up took step and fell over, his eyes blinked and he was gone. He never made a sound. Needless to say we are devastated!
Golden Retrievers are “people” dogs I have never met one that didn’t love people. Raider perhaps because he was a Rescue was the most affectionate dog I have ever met. When you petted him he would actually lean his cheek against you, his form of hug.
Raider was always happiest running on the beach!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Newport, Oregon–Part 4


Yaquina Bay Lighthouse Newport, Oregon

Once again have gotten behind in posting blog entries. This entry was started 3 weeks ago but only finished today.

Newport, Oregon is the only town I know of that has two lighthouses. The Yaquina Head Lighthouse that I wrote about back in the blog entry Newport, Oregon – Part 1and the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse.



Yaquina Bay Lighthouse and the Coast Guard Lookout tower.

The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse sits on a bluff above the Yaquina River. There are many unique things about this lighthouse. It is the only surviving wooden lighthouse in Oregon. Since the light tower comes right out of the Keeper’s House, it is one of the few lighthouses where the Keeper’s House has not been torn down.  Based on Lischen Miller's story, "The Haunted Lighthouse," published in an 1899 issue of Pacific Monthly. It is Oregon’s most famous “Haunted Lighthouse”. The brick lighthouses on the Oregon Coast generally take about 3 years to build. The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse was built in only 6 months! However, as soon as the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse was built the Lighthouse Service started building the Yaquina Head Lighthouse only 5 miles away because the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse was hard to see for ships sailing from the north. So the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse was first lit in 1871 with a Fifth Order Fresnel Lens (second from the smallest Fresnel Lens, only 1 foot 8 inches high by 1 foot 3 inches wide) and was turned off in 1874 when the Yaquina Head Lighthouse was first lit with a First Order Fresnel Lens (the largest type of Fresnel lens, 7 feet 10 inches high and 6 feet 1 inch wide).


The original light has been gone since 1874 so here is a photo of a picture of a Fifth Order Fresnel Lens.


The ladder to the Lens room is blocked off.


The Lighthouse Keepers Dining Room.


The Lighthouse Keepers Parlor.


The Yaquina Bay Bridge at Newport, Oregon is 3,223 feet long and 133 feet high at the road way.


Right next to the Newport Marina RV Park is the Rogue Distillery. Since we have never been to a distillery we went on one of their daily tours.


This is definitely a small operation, this is a picture of their one and only still. Every bottle is hand filled and hand corked because they don’t have a machine to do it.


Yet they make 2 kinds of Gin, 3 kinds of Rum and 3 kinds of Whiskey. They claim all kinds of awards for their products. They also do what we thought were some pretty unusual things like: use Spruce needles to flavor the Gin and they make Whiskey out of the mash they use to make Dead Guy Ale. They also make some very unusual drinks like a Martini made with cucumbers and rosemary.


Mash from the Dead Guy Ale is brought over from the brewery across the parking lot in these 270 gallon containers.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Newport, Oregon–Part 3

The view from our table at Georgie’s Grill
Our busy social time in Newport continued with a visit from Laurie & Odel. They have been fulltime RVers  since 2003. Laurie writes their very popular blog “Semi-True Tales of Our Life on the Road” and they are active members of the Escapee RV Club sub group known as BOOMERS. I started reading their blog years before we started on the road to get information of what the full-timing life style was all about. We did meet them very briefly in Tucson just after we started on the road in 2008. However, that was just before we got sick. (Blog entry for Tucson 2008). They arrived just before lunched and asked for a recommendation. Naturally we suggested Georgie’s Grill. Odel is on a personal quest to find the world’s best clam chowder. He declared the clam chowder at Georgie’s Grill  as excellent. We could all see the hunks of clams in the chowder (this of course required us to return to Georgie’s later in the week to try it for ourselves).
In the foreground a small part of the fishing fleet with the Newport Bridge in the background.
One day we decided that we needed to see some of the sights of Newport and went for a stroll through the Historic Bay Front part of Newport. This is naturally right on the water and still has working fish processing plants and a lot of fishing boats. The area is however primarily a tourist area with restaurants, shops, galleries, hotels, fishing charters. wax museums, etc.
Newport’s Historic Bay Front has all of the usual tourist attractions.
The Bay Front also has some interesting murals
This is the new home of NOAA’s Pacific Marine Operations Center. We went to the open house and learned that NOAA is a lot more than just the National Weather Service.
NOAA ship Thomas G. Thompson it is 274 feet long, 52 feet wide and spends 250 - 315 days a year at sea doing scientific research.
One day Bob & Pam came by to pick us up for a lovely ride along the Yaquina River to the small town of Toledo, Oregon. We went to the Toledo Wooden Boat Show. This was a small town festival at its best on the warmest day of the year (75 degrees). This is also the furthest inland Kathy and I have been since late April.
Although the Toledo Wooden Boast Show had many hand made wooden boats this one was my favorite. I could not imagine actually getting it wet or risking it being hit by a rock in a stream.
Apprentice Pirates Bob and Pam learning how to load the “Potato Cannon”. 
Apprentice Pirate Bob at gunnery practice with the Potato Cannon.
Lookout  Montana Owners dot Com Quartzsite crowd. There may be a Potato Cannon in Bob’s near future.
Herring Gull
Bird notes:
When we first arrived here we saw a Bald Eagle flying over everyday but, it hasn’t been by since. However, we do see a lot of gulls (Herring, California and Western), we also see Great-blue Herons and Osprey daily. Other bird seen lately: Spotted Towhee, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, White-crowned Sparrow, Brant & Pelagic Cormorants and Common Murre.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Newport, Oregon - Part 2


Inside the Shark tunnel at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

The day after our visit to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse we had a visit from Kirk & Pam Wood. If you have ever read the Escapee Forum or the RV.Net forum., then you must know of Kirk, he must be the busiest poster on those sites. Kirk and Pam have been fulltime RVers for 12 years and have volunteered at 36 different locations. I started reading Kirk’s postings and their blog Kirk and Pam’s RV Adventure back in 2002 or 2003. He was one of my major resources as I was looking into and planning to fulltime. I have always wanted to meet Kirk and Pam in real-time. We almost met last year in Texas, but we could not get reservations anywhere near them because it was Spring Break. They are here on the Oregon Coast volunteering this summer. They were at Cape Mears Lighthouse in July and are at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park this month. They have so much information, experiences and great stories about volunteering and life on the road. We decided to go out to dinner together.  They asked where we recommended. Since they only place we knew in town was Georgie’s Grill we went there for dinner. It was very busy, but we did get an Ocean-view table and the food was great.

Next for us was a visit to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. It is within walking distance of our RV Park and we arrived early before they got too crowded. We visited the Oregon Coast Aquarium when we were here in Newport two years ago and as I wrote then: “The coolest thing they have are these three plastic tunnels where the fish swim both above and below you.”.

P1050913  They have sharks!

P1050908 P1050919 And more sharks!


They have halibut.

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P1050923    P1050963

And a lot of other fish!

In their aviary they have Sea Birds!


Tufted Puffin

P1050943 Tufted Puffin blowing bubbles.


Common Murre


Rhinoceros Auklet


Pigeon Guillemot

Stay tuned for Part 3 of Newport, Oregon.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Newport, Oregon–Part 1


Yaquina Head Lighthouse Newport, Oregon

After our week long stay in Coos Bay we moved up the coast to Newport, Oregon. When we were here two years ago we came for a couple of days and stayed for a week. This time we came for a week and have decided to stay for a month.

Our first week here was a rather busy social week for us. Montana Owner. com friends that we met last year in Washington D.C. Bob & Pam Martin have been here for 4 months as volunteers for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, also known as ODFW. They have been stationed at the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area as volunteers to point out and identify birds, seals, sea lions and tide pool critters. Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area which includes the Yaquina Head Lighthouse is managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management known more frequently as the BLM. Most of the volunteers at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area are BLM volunteers. However do to inter-agency agreements Bob and Pam are there as ODFW volunteers.

One of the first things when we arrived in town was to reacquaint ourselves with the local microbrewery, Rouge Brewery. They have 30 beers on tap! We only sampled a couple.

The following day Bob & Pam came over to give us a tour of Newport. Included in the tour was a stop at Georgie’s Grill an upscale spot with a great view on the coast. The food was great and we had a great view up the coast to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. Next we went for a tour of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. Although Bob & Pam have been volunteering here for 4 months they hadn’t actually been on the lighthouse tour. We are always ready for another lighthouse tour. We enjoyed the tour very much and got to compare and contrast this tour with the tours we had done down at Cape Blanco. Bob & Pam introduced us to the other volunteers at the lighthouse we got to compare notes about volunteering for the different agencies.


At 93 feet the Yaquina Head Lighthouse has the tallest tower of all of the Oregon Lighthouses.

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One of the most obvious difference between Yaquina Head Lighthouse and the lighthouses we have volunteered at is that the Yaquina Head Volunteers wear 1870s period costumes.

P1050892 P1050893P1050894 It is 114 steps to the top of Yaquina Head Lighthouse!


The Yaquina Head Lighthouse lens is a Fixed 1st Order Fresnel Lens. Fixed meaning that this lens does not turn. This is the same type of lens that the Cape Blanco Lighthouse had originally.

Model of a fixed (non-rotating) 1st oreder Fresnal Lens 

This is a model of a fixed Fresnel Lens.

Old style 1000 watt blub on right. New quartz 1000 watt blub on the left.

Since the Lens doesn’t turn the Yaquina Head Lighthouse gets its unique signal by lamp on the right turn on and off a fixed intervals. This picture also shows the Old style 1000 watt blub on right and the new quartz 1000 watt blub on the left.


Another view of the inside of the Yaquina Head Lens.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Newport, Oregon.