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Leaving Baker City, OR on 7/29/05

September 2, 2005 (A)

So far, this week has been filled with regular check-ups (ugh) and dinners with friends & family (always a pleasure, of course). We are, of course, very thankful to have a place to park while we are in town, courtesy of my 'rents.

Erik has been putting time in at the office and I have been working on the graphics for our van. I sent the final layout for to the printers earlier this week and with any luck, the final product will be delivered either today or on Tuesday. Here's to keeping our fingers crossed!

September 6, 2005 (E)

We spent the Labor-Day weekend doing errands in the Seattle area, picking up parts for the van and so-on. On Monday we got together with some friends who are proficient rock-climbers and had them take us out to a location in eastern Washington where there are some nice outdoor climbing sites. We have only climbed in climbing gyms before so this was quite an experience.

First we climbed on a set of adjacent basalt columns that form a wall the "Feathers". There are a number of routes here and the scenery is fascinating. After a few hours of this, where we were taught some new belaying techniques and how to rappel down by ourselves, we headed out on a hike to a final climb of a free-standing pillar that is about 30-40' tall named the "Rod of God". We managed to get all 5 of us up on the top, which was only about 5' in diameter, and slightly rounded from erosion. Photos will have to wait as we didn't bring a digital and the film camera hasn't been developed yet (so there is currently no evidence of my terror). The sun set on our way down and we hiked out in the dark, seeing tremendous numbers of bats and a large owl. We will have to do this again.

September 10, 2005 (E)

After spending a week and a half in the suburbs of Seattle we are back on the road again. We had a number of annual medical appointments and the like scheduled at the beginning of September, and I had to make a showing at work to touch-base in person and participate in various meetings. We also used the opportunity to pick up materials and supplies for the van that are difficult to obtain in Baker where we do most of our work.

While in Seattle Amy got the graphics for the van finished and had them cut. We applied them the day before we took off (Thursday) and they are quite stunning, though I think any hope of anonymity we had is gone.

After leaving Amy's parents' driveway in Redmond we headed over to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington to visit my Grandmother who lives in Sequim. We visited with her for the afternoon, and spent the night in her driveway. The next morning we shared breakfast with her, and then headed out again down 101 towards the coast to take a leisurely route back to Baker City, OR for the final bit of winterizing work.

Crescent Lake, a bit past Port Angeles is always beautiful (I came to it once in a while as a child) and so we stopped for a few minutes so Amy could see the crystal clear water and take a look at the view.

The next stop was Forks, where we fueled up since one station had diesel $0.20 cheaper than anywhere else we had seen (and anywhere else in Forks too, perhaps someone screwed up). Then took a breather at the rest-area in downtown Forks where a rather anemic Saturday market was setup (5 booths with very little in them).

A few miles later we hit the coast and stopped to take in some of the amazing rocks that stick out of the Pacific Ocean in this area. We spent about an hour wandering this landscape before heading down the road and seeing the "Big Cedar Tree" that the road signs advertised. The tree was definitely large, though the top half was missing, it looked dead, and you could actually walk inside and see all the way up the rotted out core.

Half an hour later the weather took a nasty turn with a thunder-storm as we drove towards Aberdeen/Hoquium. The rain picked up and we started to notice hail laying on the side of the road. A few miles later we began to be pelted with the hail ourselves, and it quickly turned quite violent and completely blanketed the road. We pulled off in a wide-spot where a few others had preceded us since it was very hard to see and very slippery. Perhaps 20 minutes later the hail let-up and we continued on through about 2" of frozen ball-bearings covering the road. As expected, near the end of the hail we encountered a car that had slid off the road and made sure they were OK and had help coming. While we were speaking with the driver another car came along and proceeded to go off the road in the same place and end up sitting inches from the first car. No injuries but a good lesson in paying attention to the road ahead.

After traversing Aberdeen we found a logging road that was not gated and went a few miles down it, taking a few branches to isolate ourselves from others in the area and parked in a little clearing with a nice view of the southern sky for our satellite dish.

Once we got situated I tinkered with some of the new computer equipment I had picked up in Seattle and managed to get our satellite system routed into a wireless router so that we can access the internet wirelessly from anywhere in the vicinity of the van.

September 23, 2005 (A)

On Friday, we left Redmond and had a nice time catching up with Grandma Badger in Sequim. The food was great, and the company was lovely as well.

Then, as Erik said, we drove down the Washington/Oregon coast on highway 101. Along the way, we stopped to run around, climb rocks, and enjoy the scenery of the panoramic sand beaches.

We camped a night in a nice little Forest Service road that took off of the main road. It was a lucky find, off of 101, since a lot of the little roads that one normally expects to be open to travelers seeking a nice "parking spot" were locked closed with gates.

We did the Tillamook cheese tour, which I wouldn't recommend. You don't get to see much besides the cheese slicing room, a bunch of ice cream vats, and some very rude chicks pigging out at the front of the sample line. (They were double and triple dipping! And I'm not sure that they even took the time to chew the samples, let alone taste them).

By then I was hankering for some Starbucks, especially their espresso Brownies! So the next morning, after camping in a nice ORV park, we looked up the nearest S-bucks with internet and made a bee-line to it. It was a nice cozy Starbucks in Troutdale, with friendly Baristas. And wouldn't you know it? They had everything except for the brownies! Pooh.

Finally, yesterday after a very long week and a half slog in Baker, we left to embark on another loop of recreational adventure!

September 23, 2005 (E)

After the last posting (made from a logging area somewhere south of Aberdeen, WA), we traveled down the Oregon coast to Tillamook. We took a tour of the Tillamook cheese factory (just the small viewing area they let everyone see), then spent an hour walking through the Tillamook air museum which is housed in a huge WW2 blimp hanger.

That night we started heading back to the East and camped in the hills on a power-line access road in the middle of a forest. The view was nice, but the area was an ORV area and someone kept riding around on something at about 3am that sounded as though it had no muffler at all. Didn't see anyone though and the sun was a nice wake-up call.

The drive to Baker City, OR was uneventful, with us stopping in Troutdale for a couple hours to stop at a Starbucks for lower-latency internet and a mocha or few.

Once in Baker we parked at my parents' place once again and began a week and a half of work on the van. Our main goal was to finish winterizing the van since we had found that the pipes were on the outside of the insulation. At the end of August we had moved the pipes inside the insulation on the driver's side, but still had to do the passenger side since the sink is opposite the water tank. This entailed removing the counter, cabinets, wall, and insulation to get to the pipes, which was a time-consuming job. But at least we got to see my dad's progress on his toy at the same time.

We found that the pipes were indeed on the outside of the insulation on the passenger side as well. A similar gap existed under the window as on the driver's side, but at least this one was stuffed with insulation already. The insulation had very few gaps on this side compared to the driver's side, so only a few scraps were required to be cut after we had pulled the pipes inside.

While I worked on dismantling and re-assembling the passenger side of the van, Amy worked on sewing up some new penthouse curtains. We had noticed that the supplied curtains let light out at night, and were black on the exterior so they radiated heat to the outside when it was cold, and absorbed a LOT of heat when the sun was out (cooking us inside). The curtains she sewed up have a separate white privacy sheer layer for letting light in during the day, and then a totally opaque white insulated layer for retaining light and temperature. The insulated layer consists of two layers of white black-out cloth (rubberized) sandwiching a layer of 1/8" foam rubber (headliner foam). Some of the benefits:

  • Lighter inside at night with the lights on as the white curtains reflect the light back inside more than the dark gray velour curtains supplied by SMB.
  • Much less light is lost the outside. With all the lights inside, a very small amount of light can be seen outside if you look at the right angle between the curtain and the wall, but nothing leaks through the cloth itself. Much better for keeping a low-profile and privacy.
  • The temperature is much more moderated inside. The sandwich of the night-time curtain insulates fairly well, sound, heat, and light. (I checked with an IR thermometer, when the sun was on one wall of the penthouse and the old curtain registered 118 degrees f. on the inside, the wall was 124, and the new insulated curtain was 92 with ambient air temp about 75)
  • The curtains were made wider than the original ones to provide more insulated surface area, and a new one was made for the front window opening that did not have a curtain originally (it does not have a clear panel, but has a screen after the canvas is zipped out).
  • We are finding the furnace runs less now that we are camped out again and the weather has cooled. The curtains are keeping the heat in a lot better.

When perusing the local Bi-Mart we found some "cargo-bars" that are designed to go inside the back of a car or truck to provide a horizontal bar for bracing cargo against. The were expandable and had jack-screw ends, so the looked ideal for providing additional penthouse roof support when the roof is up. We picked up a couple and shortened them to fit between the penthouse roof and the top of the van when the top is up. When deployed they help relieve the load from the U tubes that support the penthouse, and also make it much more stable (doesn't sway in the wind or as people move around). They make it a bit easier to sleep at night knowing the roof is even less likely to drop down on top of us.

We had picked up a large Thule cargo bungee net in Seattle, and installed it on the underside of the penthouse bed with some cleats. Its removable, and provides a good place to stash arctic shades and other light, mostly-flat, items when driving (coats, bedding, etc).

(Here you can see the curtains (day on the right, insulated on the front), the roof support, and the under-bed bungee net)

I also put in a coat-hanging rod over the back end of the sofa. One end hangs from the rail that supports the bed, and the other end goes into the tall cabinet behind. Coats hung here are secured against the wall with a bungee cord to two hoops on either side. This provides a good place for us to keep our winter coats which are bulky, and had been getting in the way no-matter where else we put them. I used a 3$ towel bar and did a bit of cutting to get the shape right and make sure it wasn't too big.

We also took the time in Baker to do the first oil change and install the Sportsmobile provided AmsOil bypass filter system with a fill of synthetic oil. The install was only hampered a bit by some of the hose routing for the coolant heater, but after moving a few brackets and the exhaust pipe for the furnace, everything fit fairly well.

The doors also got a makeover inside as well. When installing the stereo speakers I had found that they were uninsulated, but they are significant amount of our exterior surface area (6 doors all around). The ones without retractable windows got fiberglass inside, while the front doors got a layer of foiled bubble insulation cemented to the outer surface, and fiberglass between the interior side of the metal door and the plastic fascia panel. Using the IR thermometer we are finding that the doors are now insulated almost as well as the walls, and sound is much more insulated as well (less road noise when driving, and less of our noise gets outside when playing the radio).

For the floor, we cut some 1/8" carpet padding closed cell foam in the shape of the carpets and lay that under the carpets. This provides a bit more floor insulation and some nice foot padding since we take off our shoes inside (being a nice Asian containing household and all). (Thanks to Mom Badger for the foam)

The computer cabinet also got a make-over as we arranged everything, velcro' d it in place, and tossed a bunch of wall-warts that just provided 12vdc anyway (so we just pulled that from the fuse-box). The coax cables for the satellite modem had been routed through the door jam each time we setup, but they were getting cut and it provided quite a hassle each time we opened and closed the door. This prompted us to make a panel in the wall of the van where a set of connectors pass through and all the wiring is internal. On setup of the dish now, all we need to do is plug the coax into the connectors on the side of the van.

As time permits I will update the interior web page with some more details on the stuff we did, and how well the changes work out.

Now we are camped in Hell's Canyon on the Idaho side while catching up on sleep, and letting some poor weather pass. The view outside the other night...

September 24, 2005 (A)

For those of you who doubt that Erik is being fed well (as evidenced by his co-workers plying him with deep-fried-sandwiches, when we are in town, out of pity for his poor starved self ), I thought that I'd toot my own little horn and list what was had for meals for the past three days:

  • Day 1
    • Dinner: Turkey, Cheddar, & Avocado Panninis & Hot Cocoa
  • Day 2
    • Brunch: French Toast with Blackberry Jam & Valencia Mochas
    • Dinner: Mac N' Cheese with Tuna & Peas & Valencia Mochas
    • Dessert: Pan Baked Caramel, Cinnamon Apples with a Cookie Crust
  • Today:
    • Breakfast: Oatmeal & Mochas
    • Lunch: Turkey and Avocado Sandwiches
    • Dinner: Pan Fried Garlic Chicken, Steamed Baby Asparagus in a Cheddar, Cardamom, Garlic White Sauce, & Steamed Onion Thai Rice
    • Dessert: ?? We shall see...

Oh yes, and last but not least, *drum roll* this afternoon, we took the good ship Badgee out for her maiden voyage. Weighing in at a mere 4 pounds and as compact as she was light, she was a belated birthday gift from Erik (he treats me soooo well!), and he couldn't wait for us to try it out. So we did.

We even managed, after a little experimenting, to wedge the two of us comfortably into the happy little craft. We struck out from our humble little "port" off of Idaho, and landed on the other side in Oregon! It was our very first nautical state-line crossing!

September 28, 2005 (A)

Sunday afternoon found us taking a wonderful nap after using the well maintained park shower facilities. It wasn't just any nap though, it was a glorious nap. We had the side doors of the van open to scenic uninterrupted view of the reservoir, and the sun was streaming in, and let me tell you the couch never felt so wonderful! I was out like a light, but what a delicious nap.

Monday morning we broke camp and headed out towards Elk City, in search of the Idaho entry point to the Magruder Corridor. (This was passage way where the untimely murder took place, of the man whom the corridor was named for. It was also a trade passage for the Nez Pierce.)

We decided to take a small detour that evening, and check out a hot springs spot called Red River Hot Springs resort. Let me begin by saying that it was neither a resort, nor were the hot springs very hot. It would be more apt to name them Red River WARM Springs. Did I mention that the place was dilapidated and run down? Plus, the website had omitted to mention that their restaurant had burned down two years ago and was no longer serving. Conclusion: Red River Hot Springs is not worth anyone's time.

We camped a ways away from the "resort" that night. The next morning, headed out to entry point of Magruder Corridor. (The main road itself we found very passable, in fact a two wheel drive car would be able to do it.)

We decided to make camp early that afternoon parking on a spot away from the road, and next to a very nice rock. (Very good for climbing, and perching!) Since I was so inspired, I decided to do my first installment of Yoga in the woods. I found a relatively level rock, spread out my mat and turned my laptop on to Kathy Smith's Power Yoga. I had a great time, the yoga mat was fairly good for smoothing out the bumpiness of the terrain, and the view was inspiring.

This morning, we tried to get off to a somewhat early start. We had been driving for less than 1/4 of an hour when Erik saw a sign that he couldn't resist: it was for a 4x4 trail to a lookout. And let me tell you, it would have been a really rough ride in the Tercel. As it was though, I was still bumped and jarred all the way up. By the way, this made me a bit grumbly, imaging things falling off of our beautiful rig as Erik was "breaking it". Anyway, I have to admit that the view at the top made the drive worthwhile.

The trail ended next to a small log cabin atop a rocky lookout with a 360 degree view of the mountains (Bitterroot & Payette, I think). This was definitely a view you couldn't get to by plane. I believe that the cabin once housed fire spotters, back in the day. There was weathered Granite everywhere, and below, the view of the mountains was painted with large swathes of blackened timber. The fires looked to be within this year and some were still smoking in places.

Seeing all the granite made me wish that I was a bit more advanced in technically in my rock climbing abilities. There was so much interesting stuff just begging to be set with an anchor or two. This just means that I'll have to come back again someday with more skills and tools, and climbing buddies (of course).

So instead of climbing we scrambled around some of the nearby ridges, took in some sun and scenery, and I had a short yoga session. After lunch, a sharing of our sandwiches with the local ground squirrels, and checking to make sure that the van was still all together, we were off again.

(Note the Amy at the tip of the rock)

This evening finds us camped out next to Selway River. We are so close in fact, that our satellite dish's tripod in standing in its shallow waters! And tonight, we had our very first campfire and roasted marshmallows of the trip. Hard to believe that we've been on the road for months and no fire and mallows (as New Zealanders call them) 'till now.

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