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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Summer 2013 in Washington and Oregon

Rain!  Rain has followed us all year starting in Branson, moving into Oklahoma and Texas and following us throughout the south (Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota).  So we figured, if it’s going to rain on us anyway … let’s go enjoy the ocean on the Oregon coast.

We left South Dakota and headed out.  Our first night’s stop was at the Deer Park RV Park in Buffalo, Wyoming.  This is an easy to get to park about a mile off of Interstate 80 and situated between I-25 and I-80.  The people running the park were very friendly and suggested a few places to eat.  Since we are back on an Atkins diet we settled for eating hot links at home.  As I write this in October, I can tell you that I am tired of meat and particularly tired of hot links.  They seem to grow in the freezer.  Just when we think we are done with them a few more packages appear and must be eaten.  I like them in August, however and our stop over in Wyoming was pleasant enough.

Our next stop was at Old West RV in Reed Point, MT.  Not much to say about this park.  The site was gravel, pull through, and 50 amp.  The park was a bit run down and there was both freeway and train noise.  We left the around 9:30 a.m. (early for us) and headed out.

The next day we drove, and drove … it seemed like Montana would go on forever.  The sky is big … as advertized, but we were worn out by the time we reached Missoula.  We had made reservations at Jim and Mary’s RV Park north of town and were looking forward to stopping.  When we arrived we were told we didn’t have reservations, but were a no-show for reservations a few weeks prior.  We were comfortably ensconced in South Dakota at the time they had us down for … so there was obviously a mistake.  We think it was the park’s mistake … they claimed it was our error.  I will say in their defense that it looked like a nice and well-run park and you shouldn’t hold our experience against them.  Nevertheless, there was no room in the inn and they didn’t have a manger.  They did offer to set us up across the street, but that seemed a bit high so we made our own reservations a bit further down the road in St. Regis.

The Campground at St. Regis was a lifesaver.  We were able to get this reservation with less than an hour’s notice.  It is located on a beautiful river and is, apparently known for its fishing.  The park was friendly, beautiful, and pleasant.  The park has nice trees, so there is no Direct TV reception, however there is free WiFi and 50 amp.  As it turns out we didn’t miss TV at all as there were a few deer wandering through the site at dusk and we watched them for about an hour before the sun finally set.  

The following day we arrived in Washington and decided to stay a few days in the Spokane area.  We landed at the Ponderosa Falls RV Park associated with ROD.   We were assigned to a place by the back fence lined with trees.  At one time this park was located in a rural spot, but today it is surrounded by the suburban homes.  Our spot turned out to be a challenge to get into, but once in we were very happy with the location and woods smelled fresh.  We would stay here again.

Spokane is a nice city although we were there during construction season (apparently another state with two seasons … winter and construction).  It is also plagued with a plethora of one-way streets … apparently some ambitious city planner decided that every street possible should be one way!  The city has all of the amenities one could want including a nice Costco (which we can’t manage to enter without spending at least $200), restaurants, and beautiful parks.  We spent some time at the park in the city center by the river and had a nice time.  Here are a few pictures.

Tower in Park

Beautiful flowers line the river

A really nice carousel

The fountain sculpture

Lynda at Boo Radley's

Leaving Spokane  we stopped at O’Sullivan’s RV Resort.  The address is Othello, WA but the park is located across from Potholes State Park.  This is a nice location for boating and water sports although we do neither.  The park has 50 amp. and we had a pull-through in the middle section.  We followed our 2/2/2 rule (Don’t drive over 200 miles, stop by 2:00 p.m., and stay at least 2 days) for this one and then we were off again.

We drove approximately halfway to the coast stopping in Randle, WA at the Maple Grove RV Park.  This is a Coast-to-Coast Park.  We arrived at 4:30 p.m. but the office closed at 4:00 p.m.  We found our reservation and a map to our site.  C2C is restricted to an area backing the road.  We had a gravel pad surrounded by dead grass, 50 amp. satellite access, and good water pressure.  Once more followed our 2/2/2 rule.  If you haven’t tried this rule, it is particularly helpful when deadheading from one favored location to another as it saves both your body and your sanity.

Leaving Randle, it wasn’t long before we had spectacular views of Mt. Rainier.  It is well worth a stop at the spacious view area to take in the sight and snap a few pictures.

Finally, we arrived at our destination: Thousand Trails RV Park in Seaside, Oregon.  This is one of our favorite parks in the TT system.  We always stay on the north side of the park in the first row across from the pool, when possible.  When we arrived it was completely full with the exception of a site across from the cabins in the back, but the following day we were able to pull into the front row!  Our site had 50 amp. service, great Direct TV reception, and a Verizon WiFi and phone signal … all is well with the world. 

We stayed here for two weeks  and enjoyed the beach and the weather (not as much rain as expected).  We visited Cannon Beach and found a wonderful place called the Chocolate CafĂ©.  Here we sampled the Mayan Milkshake made with rich dark chocolate, cinnamon, and chipotle, and chilies.  Wow!   This is the best milk shake ever … a definite must have!  Our last Saturday in the park we were entertained by “Stormin Normin” who played guitar and sang all of the oldies …  great fun.

We moved down the coast to Newport, OR and stayed at Whalers’ Rest RV (Thousand Trails).  This is a lovely park, just five minutes outside of Newport with its own easy beach access.  Unfortunately, where we stayed we sere without a phone signal, very weak WiFi, and no Direct TV (we bought cable for $25 for two weeks).  Again we hung out at the beach, taking long walks.  Our favorite place to just sit and chill is Nana’s Irish Pub in the Nye Beach area.  They serve a nice Guinness (most places don’t know how to pour a Guinness) and have a delicious steak and Guinness pie.  Of course the “Chowder Bowl” is a favorite for chowder, the “Crab Shack” just out of town has the best prices on fish and chips, and for a nice fish dinner try “Charlies” which also has great views of the ocean and a decent wine list.  One final place not to miss is “La Maison.”  It is a little hard to locate, but worth the hunt.  I had a wonderful Eggs Benedict made with smoked salmon and Lynda had a fresh banana eclair that was huge and tasted like banana cream pie.

While in Newport we took in the two area lighthouses:  Yaquina Bay and Yaquina Head.  Both are really interesting to visit.  Yaquina Bay is run by the state of Oregon and Yaquina Head is run by the Feds.  Here are some pics of our Newport stay.

Our  faithful companion, Cody

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

Bridge at Newport

Fishing Fleet at Newport

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

View from Yaquina Head

View from Yaquina Head

Enjoying the coast we headed back up to Seaside, but stopped outside of Lincoln City at Neskowin Creek RV Park.  We aren’t normally casino or buffet folk, but went twice to the buffet at the Chinook Winds casino.  It was a bit pricy ($18.95 each), but they had it all … crab, prime rib, salads, desserts, etc. etc.

Back in Seaside, we met new friends:  Nick and Terry, Rod & Susan. We enjoyed our time with them thoroughly.  We ate Chinese at the “Great Wall Chinese Restaurant” with the group and enjoyed it.  One of our friends Issy, from England recommended that we meet Larry and Carolyn, but we kept missing each other.  Finally, on our last day or two we hooked up with them.  Wonderful folk!  Thanks, Issy! 

Our daughter, Charity (who looks 12 but is 38), joined us for a week or so and we took in some sights we had seen a couple of years ago and enjoyed her company.   Went to Camp 18 restaurant,  the Tillamook Cheese factory, and to the Astoria Column.  

Daughter Charity at Camp 18

Lynda at Camp 18

Kim at Camp 18

Charity and Dad

Odd Rooster on streets of Newport

View from Astoria Column

Astoria Bridge to Washington

View from Column

Kim & Lynda at Astoria Column

The last ten days at Seaside, the weather turned nasty.  It rained sideways and was obvious that the summer season was over.  Charity’s boyfriend, John joined her and they chose to camp out in a tent … considering the rain, they proved themselves very hearty, but claimed they enjoyed it.  The day before we left Seaside we took them to the train station in Portland where they caught the train for Virginia … the trees should be beautiful on their way. 

Seaside RV flooded section

Seaside RV flooded section

Charity and John at Train Station in Portland

Portland Train Station

Thankfully we are now out of the rain and headed south toward California for a couple of months.  Until next time … keep doing what you love.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Nebraska & South Dakota Summer 2013

Since the last issue of Kim & Lynda’s Wild Ride we made our way west with a stop in North Platte, Nebraska to visit our granddaughter Nina and her husband Brian.  Also visiting at the same time were her parents, our son Jason and his wife Jen with two more of our grandchildren, Brayden and Brynn.  Jason and Jen run a school for English speaking Expats in Dili, East Timor (located close to Bali, Indonesia, and Australia).  We had a wonderful time with the kids and grandkids … plenty of meals out and good conversations!  Unfortunately, this will probably be our last trip to North Platte as Nina and Brian have returned to California where he will be teaching at Hesperia High School and she will be a social worker with a local charter school.  While in North Platte we stayed at Holiday RV Park.  It is conveniently located off of Interstate 80 and gives easy access to North Platte.  The park has packed gravel pull-through sites with 50 amp. service, but it was a bit noisy and cramped.  While in Nebraska we also were able to visit our granddaughter, Willow and enjoyed a nice birthday lunch with her (unfortunately we were having such a good time visiting that we forgot to take pictures … sorry!).  Here are some of the pictures we did get. 

In South Dakota we started out at Rushmore Shadows using our ROD membership, but also stayed at America’s Campground (Associated with America’s Mailbox), and at Hart Ranch (using Coast to Coast).  This is our second stay at Rushmore shadows (we have stayed using Coast to Coast in the past), and it did not disappoint (We would give it a 10 out of 10 on the Moore Campground Scale).  We had a very nice pull through site with full hookups including 50 amp. and really enjoyed our stay there.  At America’s Campground we opted for a dry site without hookups as we were also having a bit of work done on the coach and were moving back and forth.  We ended our stay with a week at Hart Ranch.  This was our first time at this campground so we will provide a bit more information on this Coast-to-Coast site.  Hart Ranch is beautifully laid out.  It boasts beautiful green areas and all of the amenities (restaurant, pool, mini golf, tennis, regular golf at their 18 hole course, etc.) and the majority of the sites have concrete pads with a large concrete porch attached.  Unfortunately if you are using Coast-to-Coast or RPI, etc (i.e., you are not a member of Hart’s Ranch) you are relegated to an area called “The Meadows.”  The Meadows is located away from all of the amenities down in a meadow where the sites are close together and have back-in dirt sites (my jacks sunk down 6 inches) without sewer facilities.  This is a park that definitely treats non-members like second and third class citizens …  even when they don’t need to as there were many cement sites available (but not for us!).  To add insult to injury, the park charges an additional $5.00 per night resort/utility fee + tax (our total for 1 week was $44.09), and if you wish to play miniature golf there is an additional $5.00 per person fee.  Not having sewer made our visit miserable (we are used to taking frequent showers and doing laundry in the coach – your experience my vary considerably).  Therefore, we give Hart Ranch a 1 out of 10 (with 1 = lousy and 10 = great) and put it on our … Don’t Return List.  One last commentary:  We have noticed that a number of C2C parks are following this same trend and placing non-park specific members off in an undesirable portion of the park.  When we first joined C2C the idea was that you would be treated like a regular member at all of the parks you visited, unfortunately this is not so … personally, we think this business model will eventually hurt both C2C and its member parks as the C2C membership will lose its appeal altogether.

While in Rapid City take time to visit all of the usual attractions:  Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, Custer State Park, Deadwood, & Sturgis (during Rally week).  However after you have seen them all make sure you go to the Reptile Gardens and especially Bear Country USA.  At Bear Country you take a 45 minute ride and see wild animals throughout the park including wolves, fox, elk, deer, bison, and especially bears.  Also in Rapid City visit Fort Hayes Chuckwagon dinner show (a good meal and great entertainment at a fair price).  For the best piece of pie in Rapid City (and pretty good grub too) try the Colonial House Restaurant on Highway 16.  Here are a few pictures of Fort Hayes & Bear Country.

 Until Next Time Keep Doing What You Love!!