Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Leavenworth, WA

Wednesday - No rain in the forecast so we headed into Leavenworth this morning. Bridget had purchased a ticket on the mountain coaster so that was the first stop. We then wandered over to the local museum to learn about the town history. 

Due to the railroad rerouting, the town had to re-invent itself and they settled on a Bavarian theme. Ordinances were passed to create a consistent look to the town. Everyone had to do it on their own dime.

The makeover was a success and it is a very popular tourist destination being only two hours from Seattle. Lots of restaurants, bakeries, ice cream shops, and gift shops. 

Even Starbucks conforms to the rules. As does Safeway, Napa, multiple gas stations, and motels. Many have murals on the sides and back. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Leavenworth, WA - TT

 - We are at the TT park north of Leavenworth, WA, which is a German-themed town on the eastern slopes of the Cascades. More steep grades today but we unhooked the Jeep partway through the drive. It was a little better without the Jeeps but coolant temperatures were still getting up to 228°F by the top of some of the grades. The picture was taken at the winery where we stayed last night. Nice quiet location. 

We arrived at the TT park at 12:15PM and Bridget drove the Jeep in to find a site. She found a nice site with 50amp (and sewer!) so we are able to run everything including both A/C units. As today was ~90°+, that was a nice find. No OTA television but AT&T speeds are decent with the WeBoost. 

 - We have rain today and the high is only forecast to be in the mid-60s. Quite a change from yesterday. The sites on each side of us are seasonal or annual and currently empty. So it'll be pretty quiet. The tree is preventing our awning from going out all the way but it shouldn't be an issue due to the trees. The passenger side of the RV is pointed NE so there shouldn't be a lot of sun.

I went ahead and volunteered to lead a test session this morning and it went great. Enough bandwidth so there weren't any audio glitches. And the candidate did fantastic. I also participated in the afternoon session and AT&T held up again. 

It’s been a while since I checked fluid levels on the RV engine. It was low on engine oil and hydraulic fluid. The coolant level seemed fine but I added a bit more. It’s been around 4k miles since the oil and filters were changed in San Antonio but it’s been hard to schedule service in the PNW. Maybe the low hydraulic fluid could contribute to overheating as the engine fan is driven by the hydraulic pump. 

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Corvallis, OR to Yakima, WA

Saturday - I participated in the early test session, still using the RV park's free WiFi. It works well enough and even supported HD streaming last night. The Zoom testing session had a few hickups but it only happened to those using Starlink. The test candidate was a full time RVer somewhere in the midwest and was taking the test in his motorhome.

Today is our last full day in this RV park. Tomorrow we head north back into Washington state before starting to head east and back into Canada.

I went for a walk this afternoon as the National Park Challenge seemed to be an easy one. And the virtual award seemed kinda cool. I ended up walking down to and through the OSU campus.

 - Today was a travel day. About 250 miles to a Harvest Host near Yakima, WA. It is hot here and, fortunately, we can run the generator and both A/C units. There were some steep climbs out of the Columbia River Gorge and the RV overheated enough to necessitate pulling over and running the engine at a high idle for a few minutes. We did this several times. 

The HH is a winery with a nice, fairly level lot for RVs to park. We did ask both the owner as well as the other RVers about running our generator for the afternoon and evening. They were planning to do the same thing so it wasn’t an issue. 

Friday, August 25, 2023

Corvallis, OR

Wednesday - I have a few projects in the queue and plan to finish at least three today. Since I need to remove and apply some Dicor on the roof, I need it to be dry and at least 70°F. By late morning, it was in the mid-70s, and not a cloud in the sky. Perfect weather.

When we were in Chehalis, a low branch knocked off the vent cover for the grey tank. This time, I'm trying a different model which is supposed to pull fumes out of the tank. There wasn't much to remove from the old vent beyond the base, which was held with six screws and some Gorilla glue. This one has three screws into the side of the vent pipe and plenty of Dicor self-leveling sealant. It's supposed to spin around with the vent opening down-wind, so to speak.

The next project was a broken screen door latch. It is just cheap, brittle plastic, but it's hard to find a replacement like most RV parts. I tried super glue but it didn't hold with the plastic. I then used marine epoxy not only on the broken surfaces but on the outside of the plastic. Essentially, it adds a little more material to support the break.

The third fix for the day was the living room slide. The tape on the bottom had started to shred from rubbing on the floor when moving the slide. I don't think there exists a good slide mechanism. Just about every RV has had slide issues. 

Thursday - I had thought about replacing the Progressive Industries EMS, the 50amp surge protector, today but with the warm temperatures, I put it off to some time when we weren't going to rely on the A/C. I think today's high was in the mid-80s (°F).

My errand for the day was to get the Jeep oil changed. I had tried to schedule it at the dealer in Corvallis, then the dealer in Wenatchee but in both cases, the next appointment was weeks out. We still have one free oil change left but that can be the one at 36k miles. I just had it changed at Quik Lube here in Corvallis. 

We met up with former motobloggers Ron and Kari for dinner. Time went by quickly and several hours passed by before I knew it. It was great to see them again.

 - Today’s project was replacing the Progressive Industries EMS. It’s been installed for almost four years and started having issues last January. No problems when plugged into a 30amp or 50amp RV power. The input connection is from the cord reel and the output goes to the transfer switch. The replacement took around two hours as the reel had to be removed. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Seaside, OR - TT

Sunday - The Jeep was really filthy when arrived in Seaside. Partly from the rain in Chehalis followed by all the dust kicked up by the RV. It got washed this morning and used soft water to rinse. No water spots so that’s a good thing. I need to pick up another “Y” for the output of the water softener as I still need a “Y” at the spigot for flushing tanks. 

Monday - If there was a good view of the ocean from the bike/walking path, it was crowded. We stopped at a uncrowded location. The bikes are a great way to get around Seaside as traffic is pretty crowded. Even on weekdays. 

Started to pack things up as tomorrow is a travel day. Only six days here in Seaside…

Tuesday - Today, we traveled to Corvallis, OR, back to the RV park at the fairgrounds. I took hwy26 again with all of the steep grades and the engine coolant temperature barely exceeded 200°F. Quite a change from six days ago. But, the air temperature was 40°F cooler, the Jeep was not connected, and I had the auxiliary radiator fan on high. So not really a good test as too many things were changed. 

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Seaside, OR - TT

Wednesday - We made it to Seaside, OR, and it is wonderfully cool! The road we took to get here had some 6% grades with 96°F+ temps. The engine didn’t like it that hot. But, we made it. I think I’ll take the longer, more scenic coast route when we leave here. (No long, steep grades) We are only here for less than a week before heading back to Corvallis.

Thursday - After the morning test session, we drove south to Cannon Beach. Haystack Rock is one of the more well known locations. It’s quite the tourist destination and parking was a bit of a challenge with our mid morning arrival. 

It was foggy when we arrived but by noon, it started to lift. The cool temperatures feel wonderful after the triple digits in Junction City. 

Lots of galleries and small gift shops. With restaurants thrown in the mix. Cool town. We had lunch in a nice, quiet place off the main Street. On the way back, we stopped at Safeway to pick up a few items. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Junction City, OR

 - We were supposed to be in Seaside, OR, today but we are in Junction City instead. Where it’s 99°F. Seaside was 74°F today…

On top of the heat, it was also smoky from brush fires to the southeast. At least the shop has a 50 amp RV outlet so we have both A/C units running. It’s a tolerable 81°F inside the RV. By Friday it’s supposed to be back in the mid-80s so it’s not a long heat wave. 

I walked to the Ace hardware store to pick up some SS screws for a piece of shower trim that used to be glued on. It keeps water from splashing under the door. 

Monday, August 14, 2023

Chehalis, WA - TT

Sunday - The temperature forecast for today is hot so we took a walk in the morning. At least morning-ish (before noon). There were a few trails so we weren’t just walking on the roads. Lots of trees and ferns along the path. There were several berry bushes but they still needed a few more weeks. 

This campground is pretty large with a lot of water/30A sites but t almost all of them slope down towards the back. With a towable, it’s less of an issue than a drivable RV as you can easily lower the front of a trailer or 5th wheel. Raising the back of a motor home is more challenging. Plus, your parking brake is on the rear axle so those tires need to be solidly on the ground. 

The rear A/C unit has a SoftStart but the front unit is stock. Both units are running right now and are drawing 27 amps combined. We are plugged into a 30 amp outlet. Not too shabby. After installing the new front A/C, I noticed that it was doing the staggered start just like the SoftStart A/C. So no modification is needed!

Monday - Yesterday, we asked Russ, another RVer who used to own a windshield shop, to come by and take a look at the RV windshield. He noticed that the upper corners were coming out. You could see the edge of the glass on the passenger side and the rubber had pulled back from the fiberglass cap on the driver's side. We called Jeff, the glass guy who repaired it last winter, and we are heading to his shop in Junction City tomorrow morning. Bummer... 

We started getting things packed up and ready to move today.

Friday, August 11, 2023

Portland, OR

Thursday - This morning, we drove south to Portland to meet up with family and do a bit of shopping. The first stop was an RV furniture shop in Woodland, WA. We then went to the Ikea near the airport to have lunch and look at couches. We then went to my cousins home and had a wonderful visit. We walked to a local, neighborhood Italian restaurant for dinner. I had a spicy, thin crust pizza (with anchovies!) and it was fabulous. Plus, there are leftovers!

On the way out of Portland near the waterfront, we went through this area with a lot of old RVs parked surrounded by a lot of trash. I guess this is the new normal...

Friday - Still in Chehalis TT for several more days. We went to visit friends in Centralia for homemade chicken paella. It came out wonderful!

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Chehalis, WA - TT

Tuesday - Another day, another repair. I removed the shower door as the glass had slid down in its aluminum channel and the door was difficult to operate. It’s been this way for a while and it wasn’t until recently that I noticed that the edge of the glass was visible. It turned out to be a simple repair only needing the dead-blow mallet to coax things back in place before screwing the door back together. A lot of time was spent removing broken screws. They must source RV screws from the same place as Ural. The heads broke off on about half a dozen screws. But it’s back together now and the door operates better than it ever has in the last four years. 

Two more Amazon orders came today. One are these SS windscreens for the Blackstone griddle. Even a little wind will cool the steel cooking surface from below as it blows the gas flame around. The windscreen goes covers both sides and the back and uses strong magnets to attach to the cooktop. 

The second item were another set of leveling blocks. Just two blocks under each rear tire uses almost one set of blocks leaving an insufficient number to put under the jacks. For sites such as these in Chehalis, we needed blocks under the rear jacks as well as the tires due to the really sloping sites. 

Wednesday - A drizzly, cool day today. Almost enough to turn on the heat pump. By mid-afternoon it was into the low 70s (°F). The water softener is working well and we seem to need much less soap. Hopefully, our fixtures will last longer. Other than that not much to report. 

Monday, August 7, 2023

Mt. Rainier Nat’l Park

Monday - We went back to the national park this morning and arrived at Paradise before the visitors center opened. The parking lot was full and we parked along the exit road again. There were a lot of backpackers so I’m assuming that this must be the trailhead for a lot of hikes. Possibly for climbing to the peak. The light grey lines in the Google map screenshot show some of the trails in the area. 

We drove through fog/clouds after entering the park and as of 10am, there is no view of the mountain itself. The area is still beautiful but no long views. 

I walked up towards panorama point and got a decent view of the mountain when the clouds opened up. It only lasted for about ten minutes before the clouds moved back in. I got in a decent 3+ mile hike with over 1k elevation gain. I’m really out of shape. 

Walking down was almost more challenging than walking up. The steps were better than the steep asphalt path. At least easier on me. 

We made a couple of stops on the way out including a waterfall. This stop was more crowded than before with several busloads of Chinese tourists. The sun had come out by early afternoon but Mt. Rainier was still shrouded with clouds. 

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Skookumchuck, WA

Friday - We drove north to visit some RV friends and there was a nice sculpture park nearby. The Monarch Sculpture Park and Art Center. 

There are multiple trails through the almost ten acres that make up the park. No admission charge and free water at the gallery. There is a bicycle trail that runs all the way back to Olympia. 

 - Yesterday, my Amazon box arrived with something I’ve been procrastinating about for several years. An RV water softener. It’s rated for approximately 1000-2000 gallons before needing to be recharged. What prompted this addition is the calcium buildup on the plumbing fixtures including the washing machine and the macerating toilet. Both of which are rather expensive to replace. 

All that needed to be done is flushing it out for 4-6 minutes then connecting it inline to the fresh water inlet. I will drain the water tank and partially refill it with the “softened” water. 

This afternoon, we went back to Snowbird Cidery located north west of Centralia. 

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Chehalis, WA - TT

Wednesday - Getting warmer but it is still nice outside under the awning. We are also surrounded by trees except directly overhead. Which is good. Several years ago when we were in the same site, a storm came through and a broken branch fell on our rear A/C and shattered the shroud. The replacement from Amazon seems to be much less brittle.

The afternoon test session was canceled when the applicant rescheduled for later this month. They weren't quite ready to test.

I made a Hawaiian teriyaki chicken last night on the Blackstone and it turned out really good. The sugar in the marinade caramelized while cooking. I should've made some macaroni salad...

Thursday - It was kind of cool and overcast this morning during the first test session but the forecast is for it to be in the mid-80s (°F) by this afternoon.

For lunch today, I made a pasta dish with sardines, lemon, pepper flakes, shallots, and capers served over spaghetti. It was delicious! I’ll be saving that recipe. 

Between the two test sessions, I rode the e-bike to the lower pool as that’s the one with a hot tub. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Chehalis, WA - TT and Mt. Rainier Nat’l Park

Sunday - There is a possibility of moving sites tomorrow morning as those in the two sites next to us are leaving. Both of those sites have sewer connections which would allow us to use the onboard washing machine. That would be convenient as we will be here for another couple of weeks. So, I packed up most of the outside stuff this evening. We could be ready to move in about 15 minutes. Just put in the slides and disconnect from water and power. 

Monday - Success! It looks like the last site but it does have a sewer connection. This allows us to use water without concern about the grey and black tank levels. It's not really needed but it's more convenient. This is the same space we’ve been in the last couple of times we’ve been here. This site is a little more level than the last one. We are almost level front to back and it is much more comfortable. I may order another set of leveling blocks for locations such as this.

After getting everything set up around the site, I joined the afternoon test session. The AT&T bandwidth is good for download but kind of dismal upload. It's good enough for these test sessions as long as I turn off my video if I need to talk.

 - Today we headed into Mt. Rainier Natl Park. It was kind of crowded especially if you were looking for a parking spot at one of the trail heads or the visitors center. The clerk in the gift shop said that this was nothing compared to the weekend crowds. 

We went on a couple of short hikes when we could find parking. This was the trail above Christine Falls. This series of small falls was about a quarter of a mile, mostly uphill, from the parking area. 

We made it up to Paradise Visitors Center which is around 5,000’ elevation. Good view of the mountain. The video says that many visitors never even see the peak so this was a good day. 

We then headed back down and stopped at Longmire and went to the museum and the store to pick up a refrigerator magnet. Then headed back to the RV.