Sunday, August 30, 2020

Day 205, 206, 207 - South Jetty - TT

Friday (205) - Another sunny, 64°F day here on the Oregon coast. I went to the pool for about half an hour but it was kind of busy. One guy was complaining that since they had two swim sessions, why not have one family and the other adult. He was trying (unsuccessfully) to swim laps. The jacuzzi was still closed but they did have the wading pool open. It was unused.

Bridget spent the morning making delicious huckleberry muffins (dairy free), using only the pink huckleberries, and was liking the way the convection oven worked. I believe that this was the first time she used the oven.

Today being Friday, there has been a continuous stream of new arrivals probably just for the weekend.

Saturday (206) - Another nice day on the coast. I’m using the sous vide to cook some steaks for some friends here at the RV park. The temperature control is no longer accurate. It seems to be about 4° high. Or the actual water temperature is lower than indicated. The target for medium-rare is 129°F so I have it set to 134° for slightly above medium-rare.

You may ask why I would believe the little, analog meat thermometer. First, it agrees with the temperature gun which measures radiation temperature and second, the last couple of times I used the sous vide to make a beef roast, it came out closer to rare than medium-rare. The meat thermometer had the roast at rare so for now, I’ll believe the little analog thermometer.

BTW, the steaks were made perfectly. At least in my opinion.

Today, I also took part as a VE for a remote ham radio exam. The Anchorage VEC is one of the few organizations that is able to offer remote exams.

Sunday (207) - Another sunny, 64°F day. What’s not to like about summer on the Oregon coast. Weekends are crowded. Possibly more crowded than usual as many people are recreating closer to home these days. But the pool was almost empty at 1:00. I think people were having lunch or enjoying the sand dunes. When I arrived there were two kids and by 1:30, I was the only one in the pool. Not complaining.

The last time I went swimming, my Apple Watch display stopped working. The watch internals were still working as it was still connected to my phone via Bluetooth and still connected to the RV WiFi. The next day, it started working again around noon. So today I’m not wearing the watch to the pool.

And, I happened to see this photo of Denali taken today on Twitter.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Day 202, 203, 204 - Florence, OR - TT

Tuesday (202) - Another e-bike ride today though I didn’t venture very far since I had forgotten to charge the battery. I think the last time I charged the battery was when we were in Lake Texoma TT. I haven’t put on very many miles since then. But the ride to the end of the jetty the other day used quite a bit of battery power. The Apple Watch and iPhone track your progress for the ride.

The first picture is just the landscaping near the entrance of the park. Pretty nice. The last time we stayed here I was kind of disappointed in the appearance. After seeing some of the other parks within the TT system, it really isn't that bad. Of all the locations along the Oregon coast, I prefer Seaside and Whaler's Rest. The one that I would skip is Pacific City. But that's just my opinion. There are quite a few sites that are chained off with notices that they were being upgraded. I remember from two years ago some of these sites being chained off. I guess the upgrade process is really slow.

Wednesday (203) - It’s a sunny, breezy 63°F this afternoon. I have the awning tied down as the forecast says wind speeds around 20mph or so. But we are somewhat sheltered here at the campground. Bridget just left with an RVer friend to a carnivorous plant hike or something like that just north of Florence.

I decided to take another crack at Hawaiian macaroni salad. And, we still have leftover barbecue ribs so dinner preparation is easy...

Thursday (204) - Another e-bike ride around the park to look for Galen and Cindy, a couple we met at Seaside TT when they were parked next to us. I had seen them for a few minutes yesterday when they were riding the e-bikes. We are meeting them and a few others late this afternoon for pizza.

It’s 64°F again and sunny. I called a Nova clinic in Coburg and asked about walk-in testing. They said that results are available in 48-hours and no referral is required. So I went ahead and made a Alaska Air reservation to travel back home in the middle of next month. Now to start making appointments again.

I also made an appointment at a Caterpillar shop to work on the smoke issue. I talked to the service manager and mentioned how I tested the grid heater and he agreed that the element was probably bad and the white smoke on cold starts sounds like it could be related to that. This will be after Labor Day weekend. I’m hoping that the Cat shop would be familiar with the engine. 

Monday, August 24, 2020

Day 200, 201 - South Jetty, OR - TT

Sunday (200) - Another really nice day here in Florence, OR. I rode the e-bike to the end of the through the South Jetty OHV Area to the end of the road. I think it was around 8 miles each way. Between the headwind headed out and the uphill returning, the motor got a lot of use. There were a lot of people out there. There were several OHV staging areas and they were packed with trucks and RVs with trailers. Mostly quads and side-by-sides but there were a handful of dirt bikes. These pictures are of the inlet as you need to climb the dunes to get to the ocean. Maybe when it’s less crowded.

After riding to the jetty, I swung by the pool to see how busy they were. Only four people in the pool. I returned in a couple of minutes and relaxed in the pool for half an hour or so then dried out on the pool deck. Really nice!

It’s day 200. I’m looking for locations in OR to get a COVID-19 test with results in the 72-hour window required by Alaska. There are things back home that I need to get done. Very frustrating.

This was today’s very manageable project. Installing a handlebar end mirror on the e-bike. I picked it up at a Corvallis bike shop. I’ve looked at just about every bike shop I’ve come across but they were always out of stock.

Monday (201) - Today’s field trip was heading north on Hwy-101. We stopped in Yachats for lunch at the Sea Note Restaurant and Lounge. I had baked oysters w/garlic toast and it was delicious. It's hard for me to pass up oysters and Bridget pushed me towards this dish instead of just a burger. She said that I could get a burger anywhere.

Our next stop was Devil's Churn. To get the full effect, we needed to visit during a storm or a really high tide. Today was neither. The ocean would come crashing into this narrow channel. Some of the videos I've seen are pretty impressive. This area had 15-minute parking which was about ideal. There was a trail down to near the water but the view was supposed to be most impressive from above.

We continued south and stopped at Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint and walked down the short trail to the beach. The tide was starting to come in so the dry beach in front of these rocks was shrinking. The rocks were easy to climb on. The parking lot at this viewpoint was tiny so there weren't very many people on the beach.

Our last stop was the viewpoint overlooking Heceta Head Lighthouse. This is probably one of the most photographed lighthouses on the Oregon coast and most of those photographs were probably from this viewpoint. The last time we were here we saw a number of sea lions in the water but not today. This viewpoint is just north of Sea Lion Caves. The last time we were here we paid to park and walked up to the lighthouse. The lighthouse was closed then and I'm pretty sure it's closed now. Many of the state campgrounds are still closed due to covid. 

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Day 198, 199 - Florence, OR - TT

Friday (198) - This morning as I started to head for Fred Meyers, I noticed this site was open. I went and picked up our sign from the post and moved it over to this site and left the car there. We quickly packed up the RV to move it to the new site. In my rush, I cut a corner and damaged some of the body on the passenger side rear. The panel over the rear wheel is loose but is easily repaired. The panel just in front of the wheel has a dent near the bottom. Fortunately, it isn’t an opening door. It covers the water tank. Pretty stupid of me to try and cut corners but I was trying to minimize smoking up the whole campground. As it was, the manager came by to ask about all the smoke.

Here is something we haven’t seen for a while. The pool is open. It’s limited to 25 people at a time, no furniture allowed, only Friday thru Sunday, and two sessions with a cleaning period in between the sessions. The jacuzzi is still closed but the pool was heated and when I was there, only three other people in the pool.

Fred Meyer wasn’t crowded but they were low on a couple of items. From our list, no napkins or iceberg lettuce. Kind of odd. But I think I found just about everything else. I also stopped at the Ace Hardware for some stainless carriage bolts for the body panel over the wheel.

Yesterday, we picked up dinner at a local, award winning Hawaiian place. Fantastic food! And two scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad was included. I did get a kick out of their sign on the door.

Saturday (199) - Not raining today! The awning is staked out again and I “fixed” the fiberglass panel around the rear wheel. The brackets were pop riveted on and I replaced them with ¼” stainless carriage bolts. Still annoyed with myself for messing things up like that.

There are a lot of blackberries around the campground. This bush is right in our site. I picked several cups, cleaned them up and made a cobbler. Just a recipe from the Internet.

It said to bake it until the dough rises to the top and browns. It didn’t and I took it out of the oven after baking for an additional twenty minutes. It’s pretty tasty but I think I prefer a pie.

The weather for the next week looks pretty much more of the same. 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Day 195, 196, 197 - South Beach and Florence, OR - TT

Tuesday (195) - Not sure what to say about today. The highlight may be that the SeeLevel II gauges are all working. I guess the black tank cleaning that I did last week worked. I met Bob, another RV YouTuber that I watch. His channel is Just Passing Thru aka Next Exit.

Wednesday (196) - Cleaned all of the pine needles off of the awning and slide toppers. It was a pretty thick layer on the awning. Once it dries out, I’ll bring it in. Tomorrow we head for another TT park just a little bit south of Florence. It’s only about 45 miles from here and that’s good since we have less than ¼ tank of diesel. I’m guessing that we still have 25 gallons or so.

Thursday (197) - Moving day today. We arrived at the next RV park just south of Florence around 10am or so. We found a full hook-up site (there aren’t very many) that we barely fit into. But having sewer was a priority as that meant we didn’t need to move the RV for the time we are here. Though we may move if something better opens up but we’ll see.

The Fred Meyer parking lot is pretty tight to maneuver the RV to get diesel so I’m thinking about just picking up a 5 gallon jug and get some diesel every time we venture into town. I should’ve just filled up at the co-op in Tillamook. Oh well. Live and learn.

After no Verizon in South Beach for the last couple of weeks, it’s nice to have Internet again without walking to the office area. Our site is on higher ground so we can also pick up the free campground WiFi using the Ubiquity radio. That’s convenient as we can stream video on WiFi using the Apple TV.

The Garmin RV gps tried to route us through Corvallis and Eugene instead of straight down 101 so I looked at the route in AllStays. It shows a tunnel listed as 11’6” at the edge of the road but 14’6” at the fog line. I’m guessing that’s what the gps was trying to avoid. The tunnel wasn’t an issue. 

Monday, August 17, 2020

Day 193, 194 - Still in South Beach, OR - TT

Sunday (193) - Another nice day on the Oregon coast. Today is day 365 since I started driving the Prius V from Fairbanks towards the Pacific Northwest. I’ve returned to Fairbanks twice since then and cancelled a third trip in May and there would normally have been a fourth trip by now. It’s been frustrating not being able to get back home easily. Multiple doctor and dentist appointments have been cancelled or done via Zoom. The 5th wheel and truck are still in Fairbanks both with multiple issues that need to be addressed. The plan was to have both of them sold this summer but that isn’t happening. And, until the 5th wheel is sold we need to keep the truck.

So, we have become “accidental full-time RVers”. So what do we think… I still enjoy traveling and even during these COVID-19 times. A self-contained RV is a great way to self-quarantine as we don’t need to use any of the campground amenities. We venture out to get groceries about every 5-8 days and it’s been simple to “social distance” in a campground. Yes, a lot of attractions are closed but we can always come back to an area again. We generally avoid going anywhere on the weekends and we always have the option to leave if it looks too crowded.

Repairs have been needed on the coach but the total is still less than I had anticipated though there are still some things that I need to do such as replacing four tires. The smoke problem is an annoyance but it doesn’t seem to impact driving. The overheating problem did affect driving and I think that has been fixed. After all the horrible roads within Pacific City TT, I’m not too worried about the windshield anymore.

We still have some cleaning and maintenance that we need to do especially before colder weather. Such as cleaning the furnace ducts.

Monday (194) - We headed into Corvallis for the day and it was HOT! Bridget had some shopping to do and I picked up a bar-end mirror for the e-bike. I’ve used a rear view mirror when bicycling for years and not having one now seems almost dangerous. Especially since this bike travels faster. We are at my moms home trying to help her sort through a lifetime of stuff. We picked up a few kitchen items for use in the RV.

So, I am not tired of the full-time RV lifestyle. It’s nice to be able to visit friends and family and not feel rushed. Every couple of weeks the view changes as well as the grocery stores. There are some challenges with the RV and it’s much nicer to be somewhere with either cellular or WiFi internet from the RV. If that’s all I have to complain about then things are pretty good.

For now, we have some loose plans for upcoming travel but nothing concrete. Hopefully we’ll be able to safely fly back to Fairbanks sooner rather than later. 

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Day 190, 191, 192 - South Beach, OR - TT

Thursday (190) - This morning we went to a farmers market in Toledo which was a small town about eight miles east of Newport. One of the things I picked up was a bucket of blackberries. Now time to make a pie…

We went back to Seal Rock to visit with one of Bridget’s friends formerly from Fairbanks. They now live in an off-grid home in Bend and are currently traveling in a 4WD Sprinter that they converted to an RV. We will definitely be visiting when we are back in the Bend/Sunriver area next month.

Friday (191) - I think the blackberry pie came out looking okay. This is the first pie I’ve made in the RV using the convection microwave. It tasted pretty good too. And there is still about four cups of berries left for maybe a cobbler. For now, I put the rest of the blackberries in the freezer. Not the same as if we picked them ourselves but I’m not complaining.

This evening I participated as a VE observer of a remote amateur extra exam administered by the Anchorage club. I believe it is one of the only groups authorized to administer remote tests by the FCC.

Saturday (192) - I hadn’t even walked through the RV park yet. Kinda lazy. Today, it was in the mid-70s and not windy. A good day for a walk. Most of my walks through the park were just to use the Internet near the office. The neighbor said that AT&T was working at their site. Maybe we need to switch one device to AT&T.

This is a pond near the second lodge building. It is closed but the deck still has a couple of chairs on it. Walking all of the roads in the RV park is only a mile so I may need to head for the beach. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Day 188, 189 - Seal Rock, etc.

Tuesday (188) - This morning, we headed south to Seal Rock State Recreation Site. This is just a short distance from the campground. We are here right around low tide so the waves on the rocks off-shore is pretty impressive. It is a pretty small parking lot so we needed to wait for a space but that also means that the beach is relatively empty.

We did not see a single seal but there were a lot of birds on the rock with signage blocking access to their nesting area on and around the rock.

Wednesday (189) - This morning, I checked to make sure the roof vents weren’t clogged (they weren’t). The SeeLevel II gauge for the black tank still isn’t working properly. I flushed out the tank several times and some of the flakiness disappeared. This suggests that the tank is just poorly maintained.

Overall, a quiet day. Several visits to WiFi throughout the day to download YouTube videos and see what responses I got from a post on the diesel RV forum.

Later - One of the responses from a retired diesel mechanic is find another shop that is familiar with CAT engines. He said it sounds like they will just keep replacing things until the stumble on a fix...

Monday, August 10, 2020

Day 187 - Another Repair - Done

Back in Nevada, I heard something banging on the front of the RV. The left front turn signal lens was hanging by a thread after coming loose. You can see the drips of glue used by someone in a poor attempt to hold the lens in place. I put it back and used some Gorilla tape to hold the lens in place and promptly forgot about it. The lens eventually fell off. I looked on EBay and was surprised to find a brand new replacement for $20 with free shipping from Ontario, CA. I went ahead and took the buy-it-now option and it was at my mom’s house in a couple of days.

The replacement was pretty straightforward. Open the generator drawer, remove the bulb and a couple of screws. An oddity is that the upper retainer was a zip-tie. Anyway, it looks like new.

Right now, I’m sitting in the sun in front of the office using the free WiFi. Verizon doesn’t seem to work very well. Even with three bars of LTE, no Internet. SMS and voice works but no data...

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Day 184, 185, 186 - South Beach, OR - TT

Friday (184) - We went up to Newport to pick up some groceries at Walmart. The roads were kind of crowded but the store itself wasn’t too bad. Though the majority refuse to follow Walmart’s direction signs. I guess that’s to be expected these days. There is almost no Verizon bandwidth at this location. With the WeBoost, I’ll get two to three bars of LTE but almost no throughput until the middle of the night when my email comes in.

We stopped at Tamale Time near Seal Rock. The chicken fajita burrito was okay but kind of bland. Not what we expected. There seems to be quite a bit of turnover in this park. Quite a few empty sites which I’m sure will be filled this afternoon. I think the locals are staying close to home for their vacations this year.

Saturday (185) - We drove into Corvallis today to pick up some packages and visit with my mom. So no pictures for today.

Sunday (186) - Cool and Breezy today. Especially on the beach. I walked a couple of miles today among the throngs of beach goers. All 15 of them. I’m not sure where they all went as there were almost that b m any cars in the parking lot. Like most other summer weekends, the campground was almost full. It seems odd to me that folks would come here for two days the leave. They seem to arrive with fire pits, bicycles, screened-in tents. All sorts of stuff.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Day 183 - South Beach, OR - TT

Today we left Seaside and headed south for a couple of hours to our next TT reservation just a few miles south of Newport. We had stayed here before in the north campground but this time we are in the south side. An easy stroll to the beach with the trail only a hundred yards or so from our site. The beach is part of a day use only Lost Creek State Recreation Area. It is pretty empty especially when compared to places like Cannon Beach.

I’m at the beach to type this blog post as Verizon signal is pretty minimal at our site. This is the first time we ever had a wooden deck at our site. Plus we have 50amp, sewer and water. Plus the RV parking pad is sort of level concrete. Nothing to complain about. It is on the narrow side but there are plenty of shrubs between the sites.

Due to the narrow road with lots of slow corners, it was a somewhat tiring driving day. Sitting on the beach is nice. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Day 180, 181, 182 - Seaside, OR - TT

Monday (180) - This morning, I moved the tow dolly to the back of the coach and hitched it up. The ground wire from the connector was broken but it grounds through the hitch as well. I fixed it anyway since I had some good crimp connectors with built in heat shrink. Tested all the lights again and all is good. The only function I can’t readily test is the brake lights as they seem to be activated by air pressure switches. Since the coach has been sitting for about ten days, front and rear air pressure is close to zero. The brake lights are also activated by the exhaust brake. Both functions worked when Bridget was following the coach to Coburg so I don’t see that changing.

Dinner today was asian-style ribs in the Instant Pot basically following a Flo Lum video. Very tasty…

Tuesday (181) - Cool, foggy morning and it’s around 60°F at around 10A. The neighbors took off today and it really makes the our site seem empty. I rode the e-bike around some this morning as well but was getting a bit wet from the mist. I think it’s about time to pack up my bike. I don’t think I’ll be riding much more in the next couple of days. On Thursday, we head south to our next TT RV park. The next one is also in the popular category, as is this one, so there is a two week stay limit. Like here, we stayed there before two years ago.

Yesterday evening, I had noticed that the RV across the street from us was also on RVillage. After a few messages back in forth, we met outside and ended up talking for quite a while. They have been full-timers for almost a year. No real projects for today except packing some stuff away.

I did replace the DHT11 temperature/humidity sensor in the living room with a DHT22. The only difference, besides cost, is that it is 5x more accurate. Not really a big deal in this application. I had the new sensor since the beginning of July but needed a decent Internet connection to recompile the firmware. On the 24-hour graph you can see the change in resolution between the original and new sensors. The change was from 2.5 °C to 0.5 °C.

New neighbors pulled in with a beautiful Entegra Aspire. And they were towing a Ford C-Max hybrid. I didn’t know it was flat towable.

Wednesday (182) - After a short stop in Warrenton, we headed to the Columbia River Maritime Museum. I hadn’t known that the conditions at the mouth of the Columbia River were so treacherous. The last picture is a map of all the shipwrecks. The river deposits a lot of sand at the mouth building up a constantly changing sandbar.

The museum had a large area devoted to the Coast Guard rescue boats and their history. Pretty amazing videos and stories. There was another section showing the process of delivering river pilots onto the ships. Treacherous.

Outside of the museum were several active coast guard vessels and the lightship Columbia. I had never heard of a lightship before. From 1951 to 1979 it was anchored at the entrance to the channel at the mouth of the Columbia River and had a light up on a mast (along with a foghorn and bell). As the channel moved, the lightship could be moved. It was replaced in 1979 with a large navigational bouy.

The road into Astoria from Portland was almost bumper to bumper. The museum itself wasn’t crowded and I would recommend visiting if you are in the area.

Bridget is out visiting with a YouTuber that we’ve met before in Quartzsite. They took the dogs for a walk.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Day 178, 179 - Rear Turn Signals Fixed!

Saturday (178) - I spent most of the day messing around with the wiring at the rear of the coach. Unfortunately, there is no wiring diagram to be found. The problem to be solved is no right-rear turn signal with or without the tail lights on. If I remove the bulbs on the right-rear, the trailer turn signals work unless I turn on the taillights.

Partial solution found. I replaced the tail-turn signal bulbs with LED bulbs (much less current) and almost everything sort of works.  Right turn on the coach with and without taillights. Trailer right turn signal only with tail lights off. The turn signal is dimmer than when the tail lights are off but they still blink.

Sunday (179) - Success! These are the lights along the side that are mounted just above and forward of the rear wheels. They are on with the parking lights and flash with the turn signals. I disconnected them and lo and behold, everything works. I examined the wiring and all of the wires have been cut and spliced together multiple times. It’s simple enough. Just 3 wires. Taillight, turn signal, and ground. On the passenger side, all three wires were wrong. On the driver's side, two out of three were wrong. I cut them all, removed all the butt connectors (multiple on each wire), and wired it correctly with solder and shrink tubing.

When tested, everything worked including the trailer connector. I removed the hack I had installed last September to get the trailer connector working and removed the other non-stock trailer connector that was installed by some previous owner and it’s back to stock. And it works…

I will probably move the tow dolly back there tomorrow and check again. The person at the next campsite was getting ready to do some wiring. His left turn signal on the trailer connector wasn’t working. I suggested that he look for a trailer connector relay box in one of the rear compartments. He found the box and there was a blown fuse for the left turn signal. He was thrilled and told me that I saved him hours of frustration…