Life on the Open Road (April 2006 - May 2008)

The continuing saga of a single fulltime RVer who travels the western US. This is part one of my journey, from April 2006, when the blog started, to May 2008, when the blog continues at

My Photo

I have been a full-time RVer for 18 years, primarily "boondocking," camping free without hookups, in the Western US. I am connected electronically with the world via satellite TV, phone and internet. My batteries are charged solely by solar panels. I welcome your comments and emails.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Back in Eugene

We're back in Eugene for another 3 days at the Valley River Mall, enjoying berries, ducks and geese at our doorstep.

Another trip to Saturday Market allowed us to see things we missed last time, like CroMagnon Croquet!

Randy just couldn't resist engaging the Prayer Booth people. At least they both parted with smiles on their faces.

Back home at the mall, the tweaking continues. It's a mystery and a frustration to us that the door windows of RVs are frosted so you can't see out. We got a piece of tinted glass to match the other windows for under $15. What a difference that will make!

Next Randy got to work on the cabinet.

Here's the first step. You can also see the new door window!

No matter what we do, Molly is verrry interested!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Advanced Boondocking 5 - Roadsides and Side Roads

Thoreau said it 150 years ago: "Let the night overtake you everywhere at home." We did just that recently at this lovely pullover along the Clackamas River on Hwy 214 in Oregon. We stopped to eat a bite and got charmed into staying the night. A nearby osprey nest with 2 insistent chicks furnished the evening's drama. Mom splashed into the river and got a fine fish for them.

Here are two more roadside campsites we used recently. Of course, we avoid camping beside busy roads. The rule of thumb would be roadside camping on side roads.

Randy's friend and travel companion for many years, Arnold Eckland, would not worry himself about where to spend the night. On many occasions when Randy would stop to discuss the matter, he would look around and say, "What's wrong with right here?"

Friday, August 17, 2007

Bagby Hot Springs

Find the village of Estacada, Oregon, and you're on your way to a great experience. This one-time blue collar sawmill town reinvented itself after the mill closed. It's now an artsy gateway town to the Oregon Cascades. Murals around town tell the story.

Diana liked this one about quilting.

There is a fabled sensual treasure hidden near here and we were determined to find it--a unique hot spring to make you forget all others. The way is complicated and not well marked. Locals no doubt hope to discourage the hordes. By asking twice and carefully following instructions, we found the trailhead. The treasured spring is a beautiful 1 1/2 mile hike through an old-growth forest of giant Douglas firs and red cedars.

Trailmakers here have outdone themselves, building what must be one of the best trails in America.

Two major bridges cross minor streams enroute. What do you suppose this bridge cost?

And here it is! Our timing was perfect--for awhile we had it all to ourselves. The tubs are hollowed-out cedar logs. Each has a wooden stopper and an old-fashioned wooden spigot. Tubs are left empty so each user gets a fresh fill of too-hot water. No problem! Just dip a bucket into a large vat of cold water and pour till the temperature is perfect for you.

Need a little privacy? No problem! In the building are five private rooms, each with its own cedar log tub.

The hot water for all these tubs comes from this tiny spring.

A sizable crew of volunteers is responsible for building and maintaining these facilities. Many thanks to them for a memorable experience.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A One-Legged Table

We changed "domiciles" for no better reason than the hope for more sunshine in Eastern Portland. Also, it puts us near the brand new Ikea store, where Diana purchased a table and one leg. The Moose lodge in Gresham is one of our regular stops and a good place to do the installation.

Diana had a clear mental picture of her new all-purpose table configuration. Randy's job is to make it real. Out with the old, broken into small disposable pieces.

Randy's working hard, but Molly wants a kiss.

In with the new.

Voila! A table with one leg and a happy camper lady.

Timid souls are afraid to tamper with factory installations. Not Diana! She fearlessly rips out and rearranges till her nest is custom fitted to herself.

The exposed wheel well section is a problem for another day. Bookcase? Cabinet? She's still thinking. Exquisite constructions, like pyramids, are built one piece at a time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Beaverton Extra

Al steered us to the Beaverton Farmers Market. He did not steer us wrong. Here the accent is on homegrown, natural, organic, wholesome fruits, veggies, and flowers.

We saw things I didn't know existed: lemon cucumbers, "heritage" tomatoes that really taste like tomatoes. Spent a terrific half day with Al and Sally, mingling with wholesome and organic people.

Very near the Elks parking lot, we discovered exotic animals on our doorstep--two alpacas! Molly really enjoyed rubbing noses with them.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A New "Home" and a New Chair

We nomads know about the empty feeling of being strangers in a strange land. Smart nomads know that "friends" are everywhere, and that there are many ways to quickly "get connected." Joining the Moose and Elks lodges was one of our better moves. These fine folks always make us feel welcome. We feel "at home," and "among friends" in short order. Hundreds of these lodges dot the landscape and most allow camping.

Here we are settled in at the Beaverton, OR Elks' spacious lot-- a perfect base from which to explore all Portland. Could anyone ask for more?

Diana is really fired up with her vision of converting her dinette into a computer-friendly area. Here is the "before" picture. The dinette is really in the way!

Here Randy completes phase one of the project: Taking out half the dinette to make room for "the chair." It takes courage to rip out perfectly servicable equipment to make way for a personal vision. The whole dinette will eventually come out, and a new table put in along the window.

But oh, how sweet the end result!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Cool Corridor -- The Oregon Coast

Now and again, we both need a Coastal "fix" -- a yearning to see the ocean and all that goes with it -- cool winds, beautiful beaches, offshore rocks, flowers, lighthouses, tide pools, and quaint seaside villages.

When everywhere else is hot, the coast is cool -- dependably cool -- even chilly. We and half of Oregon head for the coast. Every major Oregon City has a road to the sea. All of them end at Hwy 101, one of America's loveliest drives. Where else can you see so much ocean from your car window? Lots of view points, parks and campgrounds. We, of course, prefer to park free, so we settled in at a gravel pit on FR57 near 101. It was lovely, with Big Creek running nearby.

Soon Al Vargas joined us to help celebrate Randy's birthday.

We had a great time in the lovely town of Waldport, staying at the Moose lodge.

A bike bike rack nearby.

The beautiful bridge at Waldport was built in the late 80s to replace the original bridge designed by Conde B. McCullough, which was deteriorating.

Tillamook is our favorite coastal town. Lots of good stuff-- Beaches, museums, cheese factory, Saturday Farmers' Market, and inexpensive camping at the Air Museum RV Park. The scenic loop to Cape Mears will charm you.

A herd of elk came to our back door.

Three Arch Rock near Cape Mears. A half-million birds nest here each year!

Randy gets the Texas Longhorn story at the Tillamook Farmers' Market.

A week of chilly winds and super scenery is about enough for us, however. We'll head inland on Monday.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Bridges of Hwy 101

No road in America boasts so many lovely bridges in so short a drive--20 famous ones between the California and Washington borders.

Most of them are the brainchild of one man, Conde B. McCullough, Oregon's state bridge engineer from 1919 to 1935, who decided to make each of them beautiful, unique, and "appropriate" to its location. We travelers who pause to smell roses will also park and admire architecture. Note the Art Deco appendages on some and the Romanesque arches of others.