Monday, July 29, 2013

As planned, I moved to Tacoma, WA on the 20th.  I'd planned to stay at the Ft. Lewis Campground, but found they had only one site available, and that for only that night.  So I moved on to McChord AFB's FamCamp.  Since they don't take reservations, the vacant site I found would be available to me for at least 2 weeks.  Only a very small site was available when I arrived, but the next day a nice large, private site was vacated, so I moved.

The past week was a pretty quiet one for me.  I fixed a fresh water tank leak which had gone undetected for too long.  That occupied a LOT of time just chasing parts in a new-to-me location.  Most frustrating.  The leak was from one of the level sensors in the tank, a "well nut".  Would you believe, after visiting 3 hardware stores and four RV dealerships, I never found one person who knew what a well nut is?  The parts man at Camping World kept saying he'd never heard of them during 25 years' experience as an RV parts man.  I finally had to tell him that my GMC had 12 years more experience than he did.  I finally found them in a large hardware store, in their miscellaneous bins, clearly marked "Well Nuts".

After that, I sought out a large-enough DIY car wash to remove the 3 months worth of grime from the GMC; it looks a lot better now.

Finally, on Saturday, SHE arrived as scheduled.  What a delight to have HER in my arms again!

Yesterday we began sight seeing for this area with a visit to Lakewold Estate Garden <>, which was well worth the time; it's not Versailles, nor very large, but it's nicely done and "visitor friendly":

After that, we visited the Lemay Family Museum, which I'd probably have gone to before SHE arrived if I'd know that it was only a mile from the base.  It's a wonderful car, truck, wheeled equipment collection.  Harold Lemay (AFAIK, no relation to Gen, Curtis Lemay) was, according to the posted information, voted in his high school class as "Least Likely to Succeed".  Well, maybe so, but he went into the garbage collections business, and eventually several others, and succeeded well enough that when he died, he left behind 3000+ cars, scattered around the area in barns and other buildings he bought just to store them.  When he began to lose track of where he was storing them, he bought from the Catholic church what was originally Marymont Military Academy, run by Dominican Nuns.  Converting all of its buildings to a museum of his cars, and adding several other humongous buildings still allowed only a few hundred of his cars to be moved there -- the rest are still scattered. <>  It's a wonderful place to visit and the docents, as the guides call themselves, were wonderfully knowledgeable about the cars.  Here are just a FEW of the exhibits:

Now, for the "Rest of the Story":  Today we visited "America's Auto Museum"  <>.   After Harold Lemay's death, his family needed to do something with the collection.  In cooperation with other local (and national) citizens, they build the country's largest privately held auto museum,next to the Tacoma Dome near Tacoma's downtown and port.  There, more of the collection, and others on loan from other owners around the world, is exhibited in a beautiful, enormous, new building (2012).  This is a MUST SEE for anyone who likes automobiles.  It surpasses the old Harrah's Museum in Reno, and every other I've seen around the world.

Until next time,

Ken H.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Weekly seems about as often as I can accumulate enough to post.  I left Garibaldi last Tuesday and moved farther north to Warrenton, OR.  The drive was mostly along more beautiful Oregon coastline.  Y'All may be getting tired of it, but here are a couple more shots:

You may notice that there are few people on the beaches:  It's too darned cold!  I don't think I've seen a bathing suit in Oregon.  About 60*F in these photos -- in mid-July!!!

In seeking a place to stay in N. Oregon, I came across a unique little military post, Camp Rilea (Rye-Lee'-Uh), just south of Warrenton.  It's an Oregon National Guard training facility; VERY neat and clean, and barely populated -- I only saw two soldiers during 4 days there. They're there somewhere though:  Firing on a range close over the hill behind the campsite was almost continuous until well after dark most days.  I did see a lot of high school football players -- maybe 10 teams at a time on several football fields.  Apparently they hold summer camps there when no military exercises are in progress.  The RV park is small: 10 full hookup sites and 6 dry sites (30A only).  I got the last of the dry sites -- for $5 per night!  The inconvenience of dumping as I left was worth the $15 per day I saved vs full hookups. :-)  Here's a view of the campsite from across the base; the buildings are typical of the 50 or so that constitute the entire facility:

During my stay at Rilea, I hit the local sights:  Fort Calstop, Lewis & Clark's winter quarters in 1805 at the western end of their journey.  This link will tell you far more than I can: but here's a photo of the replica of the fort, which should be pretty accurate, considering the quality of the records they kept:

Fort Stevens State Park was my next stop:  Very slightly established during the War Between the States, Fort Stevens was greatly enlarged during WW I, and further reinforced during WW II.  From Wikipedia:  "On the nights of June 21 and 22, 1942, the Japanese submarine I-25 fired 17 shells at Fort Stevens, making it the only military installation in the continental United States to receive hostile fire during World War II (the oil fields in Santa Barbara, California that were also shelled by the Japanese military, was not considered a military installation)"  

There was no damage from the shelling and no return fire was initiated.  Things are pretty decrepit now, but I was impressed with the WW I construction.  They invested a lot of funds and effort for what I'd considered a minor threat.

On to Astoria, which turned out to be one of my favorite places in Oregon.  The view from the hilltop above Astoria, where Astoria Column is located, is beautiful:

Columbia River to the NW.  Every other direction yields views as pretty.

The Flavel House Museum, was the home of Astoria's first millionaire.  It's typical of the late 1890's, earlly 1900's artifacts which so impressed me.  The downdown area is largely abandoned, as are most across the country.  But this one seems less seedy than most.  There are the usual "artsey" shops, but they seem to be of a higher quality than most, yet not "put-offishly" so.  It's hard to explain, but it was a more comfortable place to be than most I've visited.  On Sunday, as I departed, I stopped back downtown.  Several streets were blocked off and covered with individual vendor's stalls; apparently they do that every Sunday.  Lots of crafts, vegetables, fruits, and pastries for sale.  Yet, somehow, a "hometown" feel to it all.  I wouldn't mind returning there.

This morning, I left Astoria behind, taking Rt. 30 over to I-5 North to the Tacoma area.  USAF and the Army have a "joint" base here:
Residual from their days as separate operations, there is a USAF FamCamp and an Army Campground.  The Army facility is more modern and well maintained and I'd hoped to get a site there to occupy until after HER arrival in Seattle on the 27th.  But, they take reservations 90+ days in advance and had only one site open for only tonight.  So I moved on to the USAF FamCamp, where we stayed when we passed through here on the way to Alaska in 2000.  I arrived after the office closed and found a notice that all hookup sites were filled but that dry or overflow sites were available.  I chose a dry site and was about to register for it when I found a vacant full hookup site.  The only neighbor I could find thought the previous occupant had left this morning, for good.  So, I moved onto that site and registered for it; no one has come to accuse me of stealing their site, so I'm hopeful I can stay here through next weekend.  At $18 per night, it's a real bargain in an area of $30+ per night campgrounds.

I've got some chores to do while waiting here for HER arrival:  My exhaust system is all assembled with bsnd clamps.  Those are nice for assembly and avoiding damage to mufflers and pipes, and they provide some much-needed compliance or flexibility in the system.  But, that flexibility also means that the system is not real dependable:  The joints loosen up under the kind of severe service they've endured in the past 5600 miles:  I've got noisy leaks and the mufflers are sagging uncomfortably close to the ground.  I've got to find a shop that will correct those problems; I'll probably have some of the joints welded.

With that taken care of, I've got another problem to address:  Yesterday morning I found a wet area in the "middle of the floor".  It's a peculiar shape and location, but I've figured out that it's coming, I think, from the fresh water tank.  A plug at the bottom front of the tank appears to be rubbing on a wooden stringer and to be leaking slightly.  I'm going to have to remove the tank from beneath the right side bed and try to correct that situation, otherwise, we'll have to give up carrying water with us -- a serious problem for some of the places I expect us to visit.

It's bedtime.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Well, I've procrastinated for a full week this time!

Here are some camera photos I failed to post last week; they're from the large burl wood shop right across from Jerry & Sharon Work's place in Kerby, OR.  Its a fantasmagorical place of furniture and decorations made from mostly redwood roots and burls:

As planned, Jim & Judy Hupy arrived on Monday with the trolley for engine removal.  Jerry and I had most of the disconnecting finished, so we did only a little more work that day.  On Tuesday, we pulled the engine; here's Jerry doing the "dirty deed":

After Jim completed the TDA (Tear Down & Analysis) of the failed engine, Sharon took this of Jim, Jerry, Judy and me:

The TDA showed that the engine, which Jerry had been assured was a near-perfect example with original bores, forged pistons, and all premium quality was, in fact, a poorly executed "refresh" of a previously bored engine.  At least two cylinders were badly scored, probably by improperly installed piston rings.  The bearings, which from Jerry's description of the noise we expected to be bad, were not.  The "beach sand" in the crankcase was from the scored cylinders.  SAD!

Reluctantly, after the great hospitality afforded by Jerry and Sharon, I departed on Wednesday to continue my journey NORTH.

I wound up in Eugene, OR, to visit my old, never-before-met, friend, Kelvin Dietz.  He and his wife were in the midst of preparations for a trip themselves, so our visit was short, but I did enjoy dinner with them on Wednesday evening.  The next morning, they came by my camping spot at Valley River Center:

If you're ever in Eugene, but sure to visit that location.  The Willamette River flows through Eugene; its banks, for 12 miles, are lined with beautiful parks, with bike/jogging/skateboarding paths, and other amenities, all of which seem well-enjoyed by the public.  At the Valley River Center mall, the huge parking lot is shared with those river facilities.  Overnight RV parking is permitted (2 nights per 30 day period), with permits issued by the mall security.  With a lot of room and security patrols in the area, one could hardly ask for a nicer place to park.

From Eugene, I moved on to Salem, to visit with Jim & Judy Hupy.  Parking in their backyard, beside Jim's shop, I felt right at home.  I'm afraid Jim didn't get much work out of me, but he still fed me good (in addition to his renowned mechanical expertise, he's also an excellent cook and prepares most of their meals).

On Saturday, Jim and I went to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, OR  <>.  My particular interest in the visit was to see the "Spruce Goose", Howard Hughes' (in)famous wooden seaplane, largest wing-span aircraft ever built.  That was just as impressive as I'd expected.  But I was not expecting the facility in which it's located:  The Evergreen Museum is a fantastically wonderful private undertaking.  There are 3 main buildings:  

A water park, which has on its roof, reportedly as the starting point for a water slide, a Boeing 747 -- we didn't visit there.  

The second building, contains the Spruce Goose and MANY other notable aircraft from a replica of the Wright Flyer to an SR-71.  All in immaculate condition and exhibited in spotless surroundings with excellent descriptive posters.  

It's really not possible to do the aircraft justice in a photograph, especially when its confined to a building into which it will barely fit.

Visiting the cockpit is an extra-charge tour which we didn't spring for, so these fuzzy photos were made of a video screen

 The third building, which I originally suggested we skip since I'd "seen it all", is the Space Museum.  That was the biggest surprise of the day.  Not only did they have replicas of many of the most significant of our US space achievements, but also of those from Russia.  There were MANY items which I had NOT seen -- many, not even known about.

DO NOT fail to visit that museum if you're anywhere nearby.  It's the equal in quality of any, including the USAF Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB or the USN Aviation Museum at Pensacola.

On Sunday, I bid adieu to Jim & Judy and headed back to the Pacific coast, at Otis.  I had no particular destination in mind and visited several of the county and state parks along the coast before stopping for the night in Garibaldi, OR at the Old Mill RV park.  Here are a few pictures of the coast to illustrate the beauty of the area:

Garibaldi, population 775, is very much a seaport/fishing village

Right beside the RV park where I'm located is the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad
which I almost took a ride on, just for Fred Veenschoten -- but I wouldn't have been able to adequately describe it to him, so this will have to do:

Until the next time,

Ken H.