Olympic National Park 2017 trip notes

5 October Mountain View to Benbow KOA

We loaded and stowed, set up the bike rack, discovered another bad part — a tightening knob — and loaded the bikes. Two trips to Safeway, a last minute call to the credit and debit card people, a gas top off and we were on our way.I drove to Petaluma, where we had lunch at the Walnut Park Grill. Traffic on Van Ness was bad, but we eventually reached the bridge and it was fine from there.The new GPS worked fine, other than giving a bogus arrival time and trying to get us to make a bizarre loop on Ceasar Chavez, which we ignored.Jeanne drove for two hours, ending at a rest area about an hour south of the KOA. There was a lot of construction, but it impeded us very little. I drove the remainder of the way.I set up camp while Jeanne walked the dog. I got the electricity set up fine, the slide room out, and various things unpacked, but I hooked up the water to the wrong connector, filling the fresh water tank, which then overflowed, rather than connecting to the plumbing.We had poke, coleslaw, and a greek salad for dinner, and then took the dog for a walk. I took another walk by myself later. Then I did some research on what to do tomorrow, finding an interesting possibility in Eureka.I also discovered the problem with the GPS arrival estimate. When I set up the route using BaseCamp, I set departure dates from each stay. The GPS ignored all of these, calculating the total driving time and reporting that as the arrival time. It’s weird that BaseCamp supports features that the GPS does not.Wi-Fi is reliable but slow.Benbow KOA, close to 101 but quiet at night. Well maintained with pool and hot tub. Typical KOA store and a golf course. Sucks for dogs. They say they’ll fix this next year. 5/10

6 October Benbow KOA to Crescent City KOA

It was 41 when we got up after being in the high 70s when we arrived.Took a nice walk under 101 past the Benbow Inn and up the hill. Saw a raven, scrub jay, and egrets. I watched a pair of great blue herons chase each other around. We chilled for a while and left around 10am. Jeanne drove first. We made a slow day of it. We took Avenue of the Giants. We stopped at a day use site in Humbolt Redwood state park. We had it to ourselves. We ate lunch, cold roast chicken with Sam’s bbq sauce, a salad and some coleslaw, in the RV then took a short hike that was supposed to be a loop but was really a single path with a brief loop at one end. After that we drove to the visitor center where we saw a cool motor home a guy made by carving the interior of a length of redwood log.From there we drove to Eureka where we took the tour of the Blue Ox.They kindly let Googie join us. We were given a presentation on their mission, work, and projects, followed by a demonstration of human powered woodworking tools, including scroll saws, a rip saw and a cross cut saw. Then we were allowed to roam freely around the grounds. I drove from there to the RV site. There was a lot of construction, including several one lane sections controlled by stop lights. We got in around dinner time, so Jeanne made ribs with honey Sirracha bbq sauce, which we had with cuban style beans. Then we chilled for a while before bedtime. The weather was clear, with a 45 low and a 70 high. Crescent City KOA, close to 101 but quiet. [details] 8/10

7 October Crescent City KOA to Waldport/Newport KOA

Today was a rough day. I appear to be coming down with something. We deliberately got off to a late start, leaving around 9:30. Around 11:30 we found a nice day use area in Humbug Mountain state park, had lunch and then hung out for a while. We had more roasted chicken with Sam’s BBQ sauce and an apple waldorf salad.Jeanne drove to the park and I drove on from there. We reached a small town near when my shift should end, so I pulled in and we paid too much for gas. When you’re filling a 50 gallon tank, thirty cents a gallon is noticeable.Jeanne drove from there to the KOA. A few miles before we reached Waldport, cell coverage returned and I did a quick search for Mexican restaurants. We found one that was out of the way, but turned out well worth the side trip. We got take out and ate it as soon as we parked. Jeanne had prawns with onions, mushrooms, peppers and rice in a nice sauce. I had a very tasty seafood burrito.The portable step we have been using looked very sturdy but broke in two places so we can’t use it anymore. worse, the lever for the seat back adjustment on the passenger seat broke near the base. I’ve rigged a redneck workaround. Vice grips are your friend. Meanwhile, the frame on my driving glasses has mysteriously gotten bent.The KOA turned out to be the worst so far. They have no place for dogs to run, the sites are tiny, and the wifi sucks. Many sites had wood fires going. The rain started at 9:15 pm. 4/10

8 October Waldport/Newport KOA to Fort Stevens State Park

Before we left, I checked out the KOA store and found left over eclipse t-shirts on sale for “only” $10. Since we had not bothered with the eclipse I, of course, had to have one.A short driving distance, but with a lot of slow driving through towns. I drove first. We took a lunch break at Neskowin Beach state recreational area, a parking lot on the edge of Neskowin. We had tomato soup and the last of the chicken.We stopped at the Tillimook cheese factory and spent $100+ on goodies. The store was packed, with a long line waiting for samples, and another waiting at the cafeteria.Jeanne drove from Tillimook to Fort Stevens. Shortly before Fort Stevens, we stopped at a Safeway to purchase provisions for the rest of the trip. we completely filled the refrigerator.I had intended to stay at a KOA in Astoria, but couldn’t book a site on line. By dumb luck, I found Fort Stephens and made a reservation. It turned out to be a very nice spot, with no cell coverage and no wi-fi. It also turned out to be full.We had our first back-in site there. Jeanne did a great job of backing the RV into the spot, with very little guidance. After we set up camp, we went for a walk, but cut it short because of my cold. We had poke and seafood salad for dinner.We will have to go back to Fort Stephens and spend a few days there. There are miles of nice trails, and a bunch of military history to explore. Also, the fort that Lewis and Clark’s expedition spent a winter in is nearby.As usual, we ended the evening by hanging out. With no internet, I caught up on reading The Roadside Geology of Oregon.Fort Stevens was far from 101, nearly silent at night, full of great trails and had nice back in camp sites. 10/10 The low was 48, the high 70.

9 October Fort Stevens State Park to Sol Duc Hot Springs campground in Olympic National Park.

At 5AM I discovered that, despite nothing coming out when we had tried to empty it at 2/3, the black water tank was full. Moments later, Jeanne got up and I told her the bad news. We could not do anything before there was enough sunlight, which was 3 hours away.I insisted that I inspect the dump pipe, over Jeanne’s objection that we should not risk getting shit all over ourselves. While I waited, Jeanne made various plans for what to do. We should call the insurance and ask them where to take it for emergency repair. The problem was that this would set us back many days and pretty much ruin the rest of the trip.When it was light enough, I opened the black water valve and shined a flashlight up the pipe. There were no obstacles that I could see. For some unknown reason I decided to go to the other side of the RV to check the bend where the pipe entered the tank. There was another valve. Manteca Trailer had left it closed. After making sure that the cap was tight and the front valve closed, I opened this new valve and heard water flow in the pipe.We broke camp and went to the dump station. We set up the dump hose and opened the valve. We could clearly hear the sewage flowing. We then emptied the grey water tank, cleaned out the dump hose and put everything away. The gauge read empty.I guessed that 101 in Washington would be slow and congested as it was in Oregon. This suggested it would take 7 hours of driving time to get to Sol Duc. Rather than chilling we left camp at 9am. Jeanne drove to Aberdeen where we got gas.By Aberdeen, my guess had proven wrong. There were stretches of open road between the town. After Aberdeen, towns became even rarer. We made better time than I expected, but not the 4 hours that Waze predicted. It took us 5 hours of driving time.Or it would have, if I hadn’t gotten silly and obeyed the GPS when it said to take a forest road. The road was one lane, but paved and in good shape. After 7 miles we reached a point where the GPS said to turn onto the road that led to the campsite. The only problem was that there was no way to get between the roads. Nor did it appear that there had ever been one. We went a half mile further on the road and found a place to turn around easily. On the way in we had encountered no vehicles. On the way out we encountered three. Fortunately each was in a place where there was a wide spot to turn around.We finally checked in at 4pm.Sol Duc did not appear to be a place worth spending three nights. There were no restrooms or showers in the campground, access to the swimming pool and hot tubs was not included in the parking fee, the sites were very small, and no place had been set aside for dogs. (Also, no cell service or wi-fi, but I count that as a plus.)We had a dinner of smoked salmon and brie, and then chilled for the rest of the day. Low 38 high 44

10 October Sul Doc campground

It started raining while Jeanne was walking Googie. It was 41 outside so I was concerned that it might get colder and snow. Jeanne took the massage+hot tube package while I puttered around with the gps and its manual. Googie spent the entire time Jeanne was gone sitting in the driver’s seat looking in the direction she had gone. Jeanne had tomato soup and crackers for lunch. I had a couple of pieces of chicken. I’ve run out of protein bars and am almost out of soda stream syrup. Perhaps I’ll be able to pick some up on the 12th in Seattle.Just before lunch I went to the lodge to sign up for an afternoon massage. Turns out the hot tube is not included so i got a pool ticket for myself. When I went for my turn, I found out, after the massage that they don’t give out towels to “day use” users only rent them. Since I had no money with me, I had no way to dry myself. I spent too long in the hot tube and was dizzy when I got out. I set in the men’s changing room for a while and then took my shower. I bundled my dry clothes into my rain jacket and wearing nothing but a wet swim suit and shoes, I took the five minute walk to the RV in a light rain at 45 degrees.We had more of the salmon and brie, finishing the brie, along with an apple walnut salad for dinner. After dinner I took a walk, but cut it to half an hour because it got dark. I saw three deer close to the trail and relatively unafraid of me.Low 38 high 44 (again)

11 October Sol Duc campground

I was up early at 5am, as I have been every day so far. Walked Googie at 6 so he could have a biobreak. Fed him. Took my pills and ate. It was 39 and the sky was partially clear. The moon was bright enough but I used my flashlight anyway.Jeanne called me to the back of the RV because the deer I saw yesterday were outside the window. I tried to take some photos, but the light was too low for handheld shots. I went back and got the long lens and the mini tripod, but someone started walking their dog, and that spooked them.I didn’t think to join Jeanne when she gave him his long walk at 8, so I took a long solo walk towards the falls. I walked about 2 miles. It turned out that walking 10k steps on the flat every day doesn’t prepare you for terrain.I walked up the trail, but back down the road. The later turned out to be fortunate. I saw the deer again along the road, and I saw a bear in a campsite, right on the path I would have taken if I’d taken the trail back. I may have gotten a good photo of the deer, but the bear was too far away. The sky stayed clear all morning, the first without rain.We had the last of the chicken, and, alas, the last of the bbq sauce, with a cobb salad for lunch. It started raining again so we decided to take it easy and see if the rain would stop.Jeanne suggested we stop at the park visitor center tomorrow, so I taught the GPS the new location.We had ham and lentils for dinner. Jeanne walked Googie and I explored a different trail. We decided to make an early start Thursday, but to do some chores on the way to Dave’s. Low 38 high 55 intermittently raining lightly

12 October Sol Duc to Bellevue

I was up at 5am as usual. I had slept better than I thought I was going to, given the state of my cold. I set up the cab as far as I could. At 6 I gave Googie a short walk and fed him. It was raining lightly. At 6:30 I turned the water heater on. While Jeanne took Googie for his long morning walk, I showered. The shower works well given its size. We were on the road at 8:05, which turned out to be a good thing, because we encountered a lot of construction, including one twenty minute wait at a one lane stretch, on the way to Port Angeles. I drove first.We meant to visit the Olympic National Park visitor center but discovered that it was being remodeled and a temporary center had been set up a trailer a short distance away. After a comedy of errors in which I didn’t understand directions to RV parking and then didn’t recognize the “RV parking” when I found it, we arrived. The center was basically a book store plus a few rangers giving people information about campsites and trails. Since there was cell coverage, we stayed for a while and caught up on our email. I texted my friend to let him know we were running late. We stopped at a random wide spot in the road to change drivers and have lunch. We ate cheese and crackers with the last of the smoked salmon. Jeanne drove the rest of the way. We got to Kingston at 12:30, plenty of time to catch the 12:50 ferry to Edmons that my friend had recommended rather than drive through the terrible traffic in Tacoma. Driving down to Bellevue, I405 was pretty slow, with a few serious slow downs. These days, this is “light” traffic in Seattle.We got to our friends at mid afternoon, set up the RV in their driveway, and spent the afternoon catching up. They made us a good meal and we talked for a few hours longer before retiring for the day. In a sense, this was the last day of our vacation, the coming days being merely the house keeping of getting home.I didn’t bother to set up the weather station. There was some rain overnight, but none while we were outside.

13 October Bellvue to Corvallis

After bragging that I was getting up at 5am, I slept in until 7. I dressed quickly, we prepared the RV to travel, and then spent a couple more hours talking. We left at 9:30. Jeanne drove. We made a quick stop to pick up more syrup for my Soda Stream, and then hit the road. An hour later, we stopped at a Costco in Lacey to fill up. An hour after that, we stopped at a rest area to change drivers. I got the “pleasure” of spending an hour driving through Portland in 10-15 mph traffic, including heavy rain at the end. The rest of my driving time was nearly as bad. We changed drivers again, and Jeanne had to face bad traffic as well. The days of making time down I-5 in Northern Oregon are long gone.Jeanne drove us to the Corvallis KOA, where we set up and made a dinner of buffalo burger and cheese, with a chef salad. After dinner we took a walk around the camp site until dark, and then retired for the evening.It was 68 when we arrived, but had cooled to 55 by sunset.Corvallis KOA: nice place for dogs, including a dog park. OK store, good sites, but with little shade. Near a noisy road, but quiet by 8pm.Low 40 high 68

14 October Corvallis to Durango RV resort (Red Bluff)

We didn’t get to bed until 11pm yesterday night. I woke up at 3am and Jeanne at 7:30, but we didn’t get on the road until 9:30 after a backtrack to Albany and a long wait for an attendant to fill the tank. I drove to Roseburg where we had lunch at a Sonic drive in. Jeanne had a chicken sandwich and mozzarella sticks,and I had a Coney dog. Sonic is laid out like a 50s drive in. There isn’t an inside seating area. Instead you order outside at a sign exactly like the ones in the parking spots and sit at an outside table. There was heavy traffic and a lot of fog but no slowdowns. Jeanne drove to Ashland where we got gas. The fog had cleared but we were on 4 lane interstate that was hilly meaning we spent a lot of time passing slow semis. I drove from Ashland but just outside Lake Shasta got tired so we switched again and Jeanne drove to Red Bluff. We picked up takeout from the New Oriental restaurant and went to the RV park. Durango has paved lanes, flat level pads and carefully maintained lawns. It does have a couple of small off leash areas but no shade. Since it was 72 when we got there, we set up quickly and ate outside. That is when we discovered that one of the two entrees were missing from our order. After we ate and cleared the table, we took the dog for a walk on a “nature trail” that turned out to be a sevice road that ran a short distance after passing under i5 along the Sacramento river.It was stuffy in the RV when we got back, so we put the bug screens on the cab windows and opened all of the windows and overhead vents. It was still 67 outside at 9:30. I walked down to check out the hot tub that I had planned to use ever since I reserved our site. It was closed.I returned to the RV and we spent the rest of the evening chilling. Jeanne said she was having fun and didn’t want to go home, but that she had to because people needed her.Durango RV park well maintained but sterile. Hot tub wasn’t working. Small dog areas, no shade. Close to i5 ok wifiLow 40 high 72

15 October Durango to home.

Went to bed at 11 and got up at 3. Walked the dog at 6:30. Broke camp and on the road by 8:30. Jeanne drove first. We changed drivers near i-80 on i-505. I drove home. Traffic was heavy but moving well. We got home at 12:30. There’s a lot to do but we’re home and happy.


TL;DNR: We bought an RV. We went to Yellowstone, Olympic and Death Valley nation parks in it, visiting friends and family along the way. We saw a few movies, cancelled our DirecTV account and started watching DVDs. I made an animated movie and wrote some blog posts. We started the daunting task of clearing away 25 years of pack rat accumulations.

The year in review

Jeanne bought an RV in January. Between winter storms, we took it for some overnight trips to see what we had and what we needed. Jeanne made several trips in it with friends. Together we made three trips, to Yellowstone, Olympic, and Death Valley national parks. We would have made more, except it spent months in Manteca, for a toilet replacement.

We started walking to dinner one a week at La Bamba Mexican restaurant in January. It is about seven tenths of a mile from our house. I was in such bad shape that it took half an hour to get there. I started sporadically walking Googie in the afternoons. Slowly I became more able to walk. I started taking one hour walks every day in June. This allowed us to expand our list of weekly restaurants. I rode my bike for the first time in 20 years. I am so out of shape that I can only ride 5 miles. We bought a bike rack for the RV and took the bikes to the Olympics, but never used them. In October we put them away for the year. I will start again in the spring.

Jeanne rehabilitated very few birds this year. She would have rehabilitated more, but the rescue center has stopped using volunteers for home care and very few came in through the organization that sends her out to receive and rehabilitate birds. She continues to teach her raptor identification class and attended the CCWR annual symposium. She is considering retiring from rehabilitation after decades of volunteering.

In August, I misplaced my reading glasses. I was certain they were in my bedroom, so I started a search. I realized that my room was cluttered with decades of pack rat accumulation. I started to clean it out. This expanded into a project to clean out the electronics and toys in the house, but not the garage. I gathered all of the electronics and other toys that I hadn’t used in years. I sorted them into garbage, recycling and donations. We offered the toys to our neighbors for their kids. They said their kids only played on computers, so we put the toys on the curb and announced that they were available on a neighborhood mailing list. The neighbor’s kids took most of the toys. The rest we donated to goodwill, along with a dozen shirts and pants that no longer fit because I had lost weight.

We did the same thing with the electronics. Most weren’t taken, so I tried to sell them through Next Door. When that failed, I offered them for free. Most were taken. The broken eletronics went to a recycling center. This led me to my ham radio gear. I am in the middle of a project to set it back up and get back on the air.

I had collected a stack of notebooks and other paper that was about three feet tall, along with other office supplies that we never used, so we gave most of that away as well.

Over the years, we had stashed various things in whatever place they had happened to fit. As long as we were gathering all of these things together, we reorganized. Now that we’re done, the house is devoid of accumulations and we can find everything in it. The exception is film related photography gear. We have a massive scanner, a complete darkroom, and a collection of 35mm, medium format, and 4×5 cameras. Jeanne would like to tackle it next. The garage looms as a massive tax that will take many months. I do not look forward to tackling it.

I had spent 40 years developing computer software but had never used very much other than the tools of a developer. This year, I started using personal information management tools. Now I have my contacts organized, my calendars all merged, and an on line to-do list that I can access from my tablets and computers. My favorite use of the to-do list is to remind me daily to wind my pocket watch. I can read my email on my tablets or computers. I can even write blog posts on either.

My seven year old Alienware laptop had a bad power connector and needed a new fan. Before we left for the Olympic trip, I dropped it off for repair. A month later, it was returned to me, with a dead battery, flaky graphics, and a new fan, but without a new power connector. It is impossible to get new batteries, so I finally broke down and replaced it. My new laptop has a smaller screen, is much faster, and many pounds lighter.

I am putting the better graphics and speed to good use. I have always been interested in computer graphics and 3d animation. There is now a very good 3d modeling, rendering and animation program called Blender. I started learning it in the spring. Eventually I made a brief animated film, The Gray Man. It is not yet finished. In the spring, when my energy returns, I will work on it some more.

The day before we left for Death Valley, my ancient iPhone 5 refused to connect. I checked the cable and used an air bulb to clean out the connector, to no avail. A friend suggested that I probe the connector gently with a needle. This worked, but it reminded me how venerable the 5 had become, so I bought an iPhone 7, keeping true to my claim that I would only buy prime numbered iPhones. It has not arrived, but I am not anxious to go through the tedium of transferring to it.

My SAD hit hard this year. As the days got shorter, my energy declined. My doctor suggested using a SAD light. I bought a Verilux happy light(tm) and now spend an hour each morning using my tablet while sitting in front of it. This starts my day. I have made other changes. I have a routine now. I have more clothes that fit and wear shirts with collars more often. I bought a beard grooming kit and carefully shave every morning. I keep my hair short, and have it cut by a barber. In short, now that I have no dress codes to thwart, I am no longer a slob.

Jeanne, who rarely buys on impulse bought an Amazon Echo Dot on sale as a Christmas present to herself. We had her daughter and granddaughter visit from Sacramento on various holidays, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. Bethany brought her new rescue dog Roxie to Thanksgiving. Roxie and Googie got along well, which was a relief. They got along almost as well at Christmas, but Googie tired of Roxie’s enthusiasm late in the day and they had to be separated.

We ended the year with our usual debauchery: An early meal, a quick toast, a hot bath, and off to bed by 9.