Organ Pipe National Park

Organ Pipe National Park

About Me

I purchased "Sadie''s House On Wheels "in late 2007 and loved traveling in a motor home so much that I went on the road full time in late 2008. I started writing this blog to help me remember all the wonder places I have been and it allows me to share those places with my family and friends. Summer of 2013 I decided to hang up the keys for a while and moved back into my stick house. After nearly two years, I am on the road again.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Local stuff, April 28

Gosh, a week has past since my last blog,  Don't know where the time goes especially when I haven't done much.  Most of the days have been filled with mundane stuff, but Joel and I have managed to get a walk in along the McKenzie River Canal most mornings...even with the the sloppy weather. Joel has spent most of his time helping Walter in the shop, so he hasn't tacked the various projects that need to be done on the Big House nor on the Little House.  We did meet with AM Solar earlier in the week to get some advice on how to reposition the inverters and batteries on the Big House so as to use and store the solar power more efficiently and Joel sought out a radiator shop that would be able to steam clean the radiator.  The radiator is badly due for a cleaning which should alleviate some of the overheating problems we incurred recently.

Saturday, was the annual kickoff breakfast for the  trout fishing season.  It was held at the volunteer fire department at Leaburg just a few miles down the road.  The pancake breakfast traditionally starts at 5:00 A.M. and lasts until 11:00 A.M..  No, we didn't show up at 5:00 A.M. The pancake breakfast  is a fund raiser for the fire department, but more importantly it is the time when all the locals get together to say hello after the winter and to discuss fishing, gardening, and travel plans for the summer etc.  We attended the breakfast  with Pam and Walt who of course knew everyone. Raffle tickets were sold, and I actually won a ladies fishing pole!

After breakfast we all headed up river  a few miles to the Wooden Drift Boat Show held at the Eagle Rock Lodge in Vida. Drift boats are the boat of choice on the McKenzie River and the dory style boats are designed for the McKenzie River and are also found on Rogue River in Oregon. The wooden drift boats are hand made and very popular due to their simple design.  They are very wide making them hard to capsize but at the same time difficult to maneuver with oars.  For more on the drift boat check out wikipedia at

 This drift boat (above) is still in the production process.  The interior and exterior still need paint.  Note the sign. The folks here are really serious about their boats!
 There were lots of different sizes of drift boats but all the same shape.  Walt and Joel enjoyed looking at the different types of wood and finishes that were used on the boats.
I was really fascinated with the "tractor jockey" bringing all the boats down to the river for display.  He made it look so simple.  It took less than a few minutes to back them into the perfect spot for display and unhook them.  I think it only took him about 20 minutes to move 10 or so boats.

After the wooden boat show we headed into Eugene to the Farmers Market.  I have never seen such a variety of beautiful produce.  I stopped at one stand to ask questions about the different greens.  I counted at least six that I had never seen or heard of before.  The clerk was more than eager to educate me on the different greens and how to cook them.  I purchased only a small amount because the refrigerator is full.  Beside the abundance of produce there were local crafts and musicians.  It's obvious a whole day could be spent taking in the Farmers Market.  Joel says it is pretty much the same venue every Saturday, so I'll get to return and explore more.  I was so enthralled I forgot to take any pictures.  Next time.

Sunday, Joel received a message via Facebook from our WIN friends Donna and Bob who were making their way north and had stopped in Springfield for a few days.  We headed into "town" had had a nice visit with them.  Bob showed Joel his solar panels that raise and lower with an actuator.  Hmm, another  future project?? We decided to meet again later for dinner along with Barbara another WIN friend who lives in the area.

Eugene has a wonderful paved bicycle path that runs along both sides of the Willamette River and meanders through parks and greenbelts.  Its about a 12 mile loop and level ("level "being an important operative word for Joel  LOL ), with beautiful views of the river along most of the trail.  The path is nice and wide in most places, so even though there were lots of families out enjoying the beautiful spring day, it didn't seem too crowded.

The picture below is the Willamette River as seen from one of the bicycle/pedestrian bridges along the path.  Note the drift boat drifting.  That water looks pretty high and rough to me.  I don't think I want to be out there on a kayak just yet.

We all met for dinner and visited more and then headed over to Bob and Donna's "house on wheels" parked at the Elks Club and we visited some more. Bob and Donna summer plans include spending time in British Columbia and Fairbanks Alaska. Both and Bob and Donna have been to Alaska before but this time they hope to see areas that neither one have seen before.

What a nice end to the week.  Nice to see old friends and catch up.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Sun Came out! April 22

Wow two days of sun!! Certainly couldn't let a beautiful day go to waste so we headed out early on Sunday to the coast to explore the area around Florence.  (I spent most of Saturday working on the Born Free so a "day off" was deserved). I've been to parts of the Oregon Coast for brief visits and have driven most of the Oregon Coast but have never had time to really explore.  I had picked up a hiking pamphlet listing nearby and local hikes around Eugene and Springfield and it included the area around Florence, with the sun out and high temperatures predicted it seemed a perfect opportunity to head to the coast, which is only about 1 1/2 hours from Leaburg.

The area just south of Florence encompasses the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.  My book listed a short 2.5 mile loop out through the dunes to the beach and back.  When Joel and I  got to the trail head, the map at the trail head was different from my  book, and the hike a little longer...4.5 miles, which was doable.  It was a perfect day and the walk/hike took a little longer than anticipated as we slogged through the white sand.

There were a few obstacles to cross including this slough or creek.  We actually went around this one.

 In order to get to the beach we had to hike across the dunes and through the forest.  This picture is taken from the overlook at the trail head. There were dunes on the other side of the trees which were blocked off to humans  due to the  nesting sand plovers.

It was still misty on the beach but very warm, with no wind.  Perfect!! The sand plovers were out in force as they are nesting on the dunes adjacent to the beach and behind us.

After our hike, we drove up the coast a little ways o Heceta Head  to see the lighthouse, but it was going through renovation so we didn't get to explore it.  The views were gorgeous, though. The lighthouse is at the farthest point at the left of the picture.

 Continuing on north a little farther is Cape Perpetua  visitor center and home of the Giant Sitka Spruce.  The Sitka Spruce are unique to the North West and Alaskan Coast.  They grow only four miles inland along the coast .  The two mile trail up to the Sitka Spruce was beautiful.  Almost like a rain forest, very lush and green and wet.

 The Giant Sitka is 15 feet around and 800 feet high.  Below is part of the root system.

 Along the trail I saw this skunk cabbage bloom.

There are over 26 miles of trails in the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area which is in the Siuslaw National Forest, along with a Forest Service campground.  Hmm,  I see another longer trip in the future to this beautiful area.

We stopped for dinner at Florence a the Waterfront Depot, which served pub style food I had had some of the best halibut since my trip to Alaska (less expensive too).

All and all a great day, especially since I was able to get my "beach" fix.  The next few days are scheduled as "work" days and the weather is suppose to get rainy and gloomy, but the  coming weekend is suppose to be sunny.

Friday, April 20, 2012

On to Leaburg, Oregon and more April 10-20

When I last posted I had arrived in Portola, California and had put down the jacks at the Elks Club.  I spent the next day running errands in Reno and checking out the camp ground which was going to be my home for the summer.  The campground still had snow on the ground, and after inspecting the "host" site, Joel decided there was no way he would spend any part of the summer there sun for solar, trees blocked the satellite reception for internet and TV, no cell coverage, and no wireless internet coverage.  All told, not an ideal spot for 5 months of dry camping. I was more concerned about the potential lack of communication in the case of an emergency.

The Born Free had been sitting since January, so I readied it for travel and hooked up the Jeep and Joel and I caravaned  to Oregon (about 20 miles from Eugene, ).We made a quick overnight stop in Klamath Falls and arrived in Leaburg on Wednesday at Walt and Pam's house on the Mckenzie River.

This is the view of the McKenzie River from Pam and Walt's house.

 The grounds are beautiful.  These flowers make the rain and fog a little more bearable.

Walt (Joel's brother-in-law) has a beautiful house right on the river bank. The grounds include a very large wood working shop which Joel and Walt share.  Needless to say, Joel is in heaven puttering around the shop.  The original plans were to ready my Born Free for the summer hosting job and I was to head back to California by the end of April. At this point, plans have changed and I'm not going to host, at least for the time being.

There is a canal and fish hatchery nearby along with many logging roads  to walk  and explore and offer spectacular views. This view  is of the "Sisters" in the distance.

 There is lots of moss everywhere.
 And different creatures I haven't seen since living on the coast.
I can't get over how green everything is...and wet...and mossy. I sure hope the rain stops soon.

Portland is only a few hours away, and we did drive up for the day to see Joel's son and daughter and will be returning for a longer visit. I haven't been to Portland for several years but it seemed much busier that last time.  There are so many little districts to explore, and this time we explored the Pearl District, which is one of the more well known districts.

There is lots to see and do in Oregon and I can't wait until the weather gets better...I guess we are just a little early.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Heading North, April 6-9

We left Tucson around noon on  Friday right after Joel's last doctor's appointment.  Big mistake.  I forgot that it was Good Friday and the start of the Easter Holiday weekend.  Getting out of Tucson wasn't so bad, but going through Phoenix was stop and go traffic reminiscent of LA or SF Bay area.  Our goal was to make it to the SKP park near Congress, AZ for a quick overnight stay  to use the dump and fill facilities.  After dry camping for nearly two  weeks the fresh  water tank  was  very low and the grey and black water tanks were very full.  We did make it to the SKP park just before closing... around 5:00.

The next morning we were on the road by 8:00...after dumping and filling.  Our route took us up Highway 89 through the Joshua Tree Parkway to I-40 and then over to  up Highway 93 and then to Highway 95 .  We had to make a quick stop in Kingman, to hose out the radiator because the engine kept overheating, and we had a lot more elevation gains ahead of us.  A lot of junk came pouring out of the radiator  and Joel will need to work on getting the radiator steam cleaned when he gets to Oregon.

On the way we crossed over the new bridge which by passes Hoover Dam. Pedestrians were lined up on the bridge to view the dam.

 Getting through Las Vegas was easy with the lightest traffic I have seen in a long time.  Our goal was to make it to  Beatty, NV, the half way mark. The drive up Highway 93 and Highway 95 on the eastern side of the Sierras is barren and stark, although there are lots of interesting formations. It had been a long day already with several unplanned stops, but with the radiator somewhat cleaned out we purred along and pushed for Beatty.

Some of the interesting terrain along 93 and 95.( I've been this way many times, but never stopped to take any pictures.)

 We pulled into Beatty much later than anticipated and found a nice dry camping spot. I decided to explore a little and get the cobwebs out of my head and happened on some wild burros feeding on garden trimmings.

They were a little shy and didn't like my interrupting them and wandered back up the hill.

And this is the view from our RV.

We were on the road Sunday morning by 7:30 A.M. and filled up with fuel in town.  The Rebel station in Beatty was open and very busy for an Easter Sunday morning.  The best part was that diesel was only $4.05 per gallon.  I say only 4.05 because after looking at Gas Buddy, diesel prices will be $4.59 plus as we approach Reno and parts of California that we will be  travelling  through.

We arrived in Reno mid day with plans to stay at one of the casinos, but Joel wasn't up for black top camping so we continued on to Portola, another 50 miles, where my Born Free has been stored at Jeremy's house. We caught up with Jeremy, and visited and had a nice Easter dinner of steak and beans.

 There is an Elks Club  two miles down the road from Jeremy's,  so we decided to park there for the next day or so while I get my Born Free straightened up and we move some stuff around, and get it road ready .   Ahhh to be in the pine trees again!

Over 850 hundred miles in 2 1/2 days.  Not bad, when you consider most of the time we may travel 100 miles in one day, but our push is not over.  We have nearly 450 more miles to go to the finish, in Leaburg..maybe by Wednesday or Thursday? Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

More on Tucson, Part II March 31-April 6

One of the "must see" attractions in the Tucson area is Biosphere 2.  I've been wanting to visit it for several years but just never made it a priority.  A coupon from  Tucson Attractions Passport book  helped me make it a priority for me this time,   and at a 2 for 1 ticket, it only costs $10.00 each for the tour.  The visit was well worth the $10.00.  Actually, $20.00 isn't too bad a price to pay for the tour.

Over view of the crew quarters.

Biosphere 2?  Well, Biosphere 1 is earth in case you didn't know.  Biosphere 2 was an experiment to see if humans could live in a sealed environment with no outside services. The crew had to learn to grow their own food, raise animals, slaughter them, and maintain the Biosphere mechanics.  The crew members worked an average of 65 hours a week.  Some say the experiment was a failure because of oxygen problems.  It was later determined the concrete absorbed oxygen from the Biosphere, thus causing low levels of oxygen in the blood of the participants.  In reality the experiment of the Biosphere 2 was successful because it lead to the birth of many more experiments and projects that are currently underway. Biosphere 2 was and is privately funded.

This structure houses the ocean, rain forest, and desert.  It is a huge green house where numerous experiments are being performed.

This is the "ocean".

This another part of the greenhouse where an artificial hill is being constructed. Note the black slope. It will be filled with soil and the path of water will be followed with cameras.
Another over view of the complex.  The round dome is the "lung"

This solar panels are being monitored on the side of the hill to determine efficiency and how they effect the side of the hill.,.. such as hills around land fills and mine tailings found in the area.
This is one of the long tunnels between structures. Some of them are really long and other are short.
This is the "lung". The black membrane expands and contracts with temperature so the seals in the Biosphere are not broken.
A shorter section of one of the tunnels between the greenhouse and lung.

Another day we took a short drive south of Tucson to Kitt Peak.  I had been there two years ago on a very cold windy day.  This time the  day was clear and warm.  We spent all day participating in three different tours to three different telescopes.  It was a pretty packed day. The docents were all very informative, and really knew their stuff.  Way to much information.

 Fortunately, we took a picnic lunch, because there are no restaurants on the premises. We only had a short hour break for lunch between the different tours.

You can see Kitt Peak from Snyder Hill where we are staying.  There is a tiny little white dome to the left of the highest peak in the picture.

Which is this dome:
This is the solar telescope.  We were able to see sun spots and flares.
There are over 25 observatories and telescopes on the ridge, but there could be as many as 33.  Depends on how you count them.
This is one of the very large telescopes.
Kitt Peak is the second most sacred peak of the Tahono O'dham nation.  The nation  leased the land to the government in the 1950s with the understanding that qualified members of the nation would  get priority for job openings and that the baskets and gifts of the nation could  be sold in the gift shop and no other commercial enterprise such as restaurants be allowed on the peak.  If you are interested in astronomy and space this is the place to go!  Very interesting.

While in downtown  Tucson  we took the walking tour.  You can pick up a map at the visitor center and then follow the turquoise line to the different points of interest.  Its about a 2 mile walk and a nice thing to do to acquaint you with the old part of town. This is the old courthouse. I really like the colors in the dome.

As I mentioned before we stayed at Snyder Hill, a little sliver of BLM land south of Tuscon.  It is only a few miles from the VA hospital and close to a lot of other attractions. But, most of all it's peaceful and  offers lots of open space on the desert.  You can see the "big house" for the top of Snyder Hill.

The main purpose for staying in Tucson for two weeks was so Joel could catch up on his routine medical checkups at the VA.  I'm happy to report everything is good, and he was sent on his way, but needs to return in October for a quick follow up.  I must say, this VA hospital outshines most hospitals that I have been in.  Everyone is so helpful, kind, polite, and most importantly Vet oriented. The campus is huge. One of the interesting things they have done (and I forgot to take a picture) is the installation of covered parking, not only to shade the cars, but to provide a base for installing solar panels.  Eventually the hospital will run mostly on solar least that is what I am thinking because it is the biggest solar farm I have ever seen.

It's been a very busy two weeks. We have a lot more coupons in the "book" would could have used, but not enough time.  Now, we are on our way north,  to Reno to pickup my RV and then on to  Oregon, so be sure check back and see what we are up to.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Tucson area, Part I March 26- 30

Tucson is one of my favorite "city" areas to visit (I'm really not a city person) but  I was looking forward to several weeks of "hanging out" and exploring the area  in between Joel's routine doctors appointments.

We parked at Snyder Hill, a little sliver of BLM land south of Tucson, and convenient to the VA and shopping.  I was really surprised at the amount of RV that were parked here.  Last year, most of Snyder Hill was closed due to a gas line being put in and the RVers were "relocated" just up the Ajo Highway near the fire station. ...right on the highway and there weren't many "residents" .The work is all done and things seem to be back to normal.

Some of the attractions around Tucson are not cheap and while  there are lots of free things to see and do many of the  attractions  cost $$ and admission fees can add up quickly, so no visit to Tucson should be complete without:

It's a book of 2 for 1 coupons for most of the major sites around Tucson and Southern Arizona.  The cost is only $18.00 and will worth the cost if two people go in together.  I haven't seen it advertised anywhere except on the web and we had to ask for it at the visitor center. So, if you are planning to visit Southern Arizona check out the web for information on ordering the passport.  So far the passport has more than paid for itself.

We headed down to Sahuaritya, about 30 miles south of Tucson to the Titan Missile Museum, to tour the Titan II site 571-7.  During the cold war there were about 18 missile site around Southern Arizona and 54 sites located in the US.  The 571-7 site was "decommissioned" and staged as a museum.  All of the other sites have been disarmed and filled in.  If you are "60-80+ " something in age you probably remember the sites and the threat of nuclear war.  The tour was very interesting and informative.  Admission was $9.50 each but we only paid $4.25 each with the passport!

This is a view looking down into the silo at the missile.
 One of the long halls on the way to the control room.  The walls and doors are four feet thick.
 The control room, which was state of the art at the time.
 I guess these were protective suits in case of a problem.
 The control room and other parts of the operation were"no lone zones ".  There had to be at least two personnel present at all times as a security measure in these areas.
 This was the entrance into the site.  It was several stories down.
 A warhead which has been disarmed:
 Replica of the site and it's underground parts.

Tubac Presidio State Park was about 25 miles from the Titan Missile site so we continued onward.  We had a coupon for the State Park and had every intention of using it but got a little distracted.  There was a wonderful  outdoor sculpture gallery which caught my attention.  Some of my favorite sculptures:

The head on the bull was cantilevered so it moved up and down.  Joel is trying to figure out how it works!

 This was one of my favorites:
 And what fun!!
The little village of Tubac is an art lovers dream!  There were lots of hand made items by local artisans, all of exceptional quality and of course price!  I left with my pocket book intact but if I lived in a stick and brick house I would have come away with a few purchases.

The Arizona-Sonora museum is an absolute must see.  I've been several times and never see it all.  It is more than a museum.  Its a zoo of sorts as well as a botanical garden.  Most of the exhibits are out doors along natural walk ways.  My last visits to the Desert Museum  have been in January, and visiting during the Spring is a whole new experience.  Many of the cacti were in bloom:

 These prickly pear blooms hadn't opened up, but you can see they are almost ready.

I was really excited to see these animals, on my previous visits they were  shy.  These are Javalina.  I've seen signs of them in the wild, but have never been able to spot them up close.  They kind of look like giant mice the size of pigs.

 These are Coati. They are very elusive but  and are fun to watch once you find them.  
 Oops ! with this?  The box turtles were still hibernating and this little girl was demonstrating how turtles crawl.

The free flight exhibits where the raptures fly freely are really popular. There are two programs a day where trainers let the raptures fly freely. This is a Harris Hawk.  Look how he/she perches on the cactus.

This owl is in "training".  The volunteer is walking around with her trying to accustom her to people and conditions.  She wants to fly off his hand every time he takes a step and he is trying to teach her she can't do that.
 This humming bird stood still long enough for me to get a picture.
This is a crest on the Saguaro which is caused by a mutation.  I think it is a new addition to the museum because I don't remember it from before.  The crested Saguaro can be found in the desert, but they are few and far between. I've spotted several down towards Organ Pipe National Monument and they are all different.