Rivers and Canola Fields
(May 23 to June 26, 2005)
You can click on "photos"
directly to the first photo page, which has a connector to the second
page (if there is one).
This travelogue continues our journey across the
country as we get ready to tour the Oregon and Washington coasts over
Diane and I have some favorite TV shows and it was the week before the
Memorial Day Weekend, which meant it was season finale week. So there
was no way I was heading up to Kamiah where we didn't know whether we
would get a site that would allow the use of our dish. How could we
possibly invest 22 hours in the show "24" and not see the final two
hours? Likewise for Alias and Lost. There were five Flying Js between
Salt Lake City and Caldwell, Idaho, so we figured we could spend the
next three days boondocking. We ended up spending two days at the Twin
Falls Flying J and one day at the Caldwell Flying J and got to see the
season finales, not to mention that I had WiFi access for those three
As a rule, you aren't supposed to stay at a Coast to Coast
holiday weekends, except at your home park which, for us, is Antelope
Valley in Delta, Utah. However, I decided to call the Lewis & Clark
park in Kamiah, Idaho to ask what their take was on that rule. Sharon
told me that they
never fill up the park and they never turn anyone away. That was great
news, so we booked into the park for five days through the Memorial Day
It was a beautiful day as we got ready to head up to Kamiah via US 95.
What a beautiful drive it was, too, as we rode through the Payette
National Forest and the Nez Perce National Forest, and up alongside the
Little Salmon River and the Salmon River. We stopped several times for
photo ops along the way. I remembered that there were some roads on the
Nez Perce Reservation that were logging roads and I didn't want to get
caught on one of those with the motorhome. I called the Lewis &
Clark RV Resort, a Coast to Coast park, to make sure that the roads
going across the reservation were okay for a big rig and was assured
the roads were all paved and there would be no problem driving a big
rig on them. I'm glad I called because we would probably have missed
the turn onto SR 7 as there was no junction sign, only a street sign
that said "Old Highway 7".
As we headed north along SR 7 we could see fields of very bright
yellow. We weren't sure what it was, but Diane guessed canola. We found
out later that the crops were, indeed, canola fields. The yellow
flowers were brilliant. It's almost impossible to say how vibrant the
color was. The yellow was even brighter than the yellow we've seen on
some Mustangs and Corvettes. As we got closer to the fields, we ended
up driving between fields of canola. I managed to get the motorhome and
the road to take some photos. Not being happy with photos at ground
level, I climbed up onto the roof to get a better angle for a few
photos. I would have to say that the photos don't really do justice as
to how vibrant the yellow was.
It was about a five hour drive from Caldwell to Kamiah and we arrived
early and got settled into a great site. We were there in 2001 when we
were traveling with John and Libby Veach and we were less than happy
with the park as it backs up to a lumber mill and we were in a site
was right at the fence to the mill. Every morning around 6 am the mill
cranked up and was very loud. We all decided to forfeit two nights
we had already paid for and move down the road to the Pink House
campground, a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) campground. This time we
were very lucky at the Lewis & Clark park. I had asked Sharon to
try and get us on a site where
we had a chance to use our dish and away from the mill. We ended up on
a front row site that did allow use of our dish AND was one of the few
sites that had "hot phones". Given that we had absolutely no cell
signal in Kamiah, not Cingular, not Verizon, it was great to have a
phone line to the motorhome. We couldn't call anyone, but there was a
local access number for Earthlink, so the Internet
was available and, of course, that made me a happy camper though the
This area of Idaho is one of the most beautiful areas in the country.
US 12 (the Lewis & Clark Trail) remains one of the most fantastic
roads to drive as it parallels the Clearwater River. The road to the
west of Kamiah rides directly alongside the river with hills on both
sides that form the Clearwater Canyon. It's interesting to try and
picture what the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery must have thought
as they were going down the river with nothing on either side but hills.
There is more to this area than just US 12. We took a ride one day from
Kamiah to Kooskia (pronounced "kooskie) to Grangeville, to Cottonwood,
and back to Kamiah. We
picked up SR 13 (part of the Nez Perce Trail) in Kooskia and headed
north towards Grangeville. We learned later that the very long, winding
hill we climbed was known as the Harpster Grade as it approached the
town of Harpster. Alongside the road, and then down below the road, was
the middle fork of the Clearwater River. We picked up US 95 in
Grangeville and went past SR 7 that we turned onto as we drove to
Kamiah a couple of days earlier. Our intent was to visit the Monastery
of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood which is home to 100 Roman Catholic
Benedictine sisters. Their
roots began in the 6th century in Italy with Benedict of Nursia. The
patroness for the Benedictine order of nuns was Gertrude of Helfta. In
1882, three nuns from San Andrea's cloister in Sarnen, Switzerland,
arrived in America to start a monastic community in the west. They
established a convent near Uniontown, WA and moved to Cottonwood, ID in
We took a self guided tour of the chapel and the museum. Construction
on the chapel began in 1919 and was completed in 1924. It has two bell
towers that house four bells which are used to call the monastic
community to prayer. The high altar inside the church had a curious
route to the chapel. It was built in Germany and shipped via Belgium
and the Panama Canal to Portland, OR in 1927. It reached Cottonwood in
1928 via freight train and finally arrived at St. Gertrude's on a wagon
pulled by four horses.
The museum on the premises was founded in 1931 and housed memorabilia
showing the pioneer life and life among the Nez Perce. It also houses
memorabilia from the 20th century. One item I found interesting was an
IBM typewriter the likes of which I had never seen. I thought maybe it
was an ancient IBM Selectric Typewriter, but it was two typewriters
side by side that shared one huge printing platform. We were told that
the person who donated it had no idea what it was and had no
information about it. The thought was that maybe it was a one of a kind
that may have been developed for the government.
We had heard about a bed and breakfast shaped like a dog, so we went to
find it as we left Cottonwood. We found The Dog Bark Park Inn on
Business 95 as we left the town. The owners were in the shop, so we got
to chat for a while. It had been highlighted on CNN and that resulted
in a rash of phone calls and reservations. The dog is known as Sweet
Willy Colton, a 30 foot tall beagle with space to sleep six. Inside the
dog is a room
with a queen bed and a loft. The
bathroom was, of course, located in the rear of the dog.
It was a nice day as we completed an 85 mile loop. After dinner, we
walked up to the part of the RV resort that is being developed as an RV
community. One can buy a deeded lot with some marvelous views. The
properties are way up, and I mean WAY UP, on the hill behind the
campground. Much work was done since our visit here in 2001 and many
lots have been sold. The lots offer different views of the river and
the hills and all are magnificent as they face the setting sun. I'm
sure there are some fantastic sunsets. As we continued our climb, and
we never did get to the top, we spotted a Newmar motorhome with a lady
out watering some plants. We also saw they were Escapees, so I said hi,
which was immediately greeted with an invitation to come sit and chat.
That's how we met Bill and Patricia Wall, fulltimers who also happen to
be going to the Fulltimers Chapter rally and the Newmar rally in Salem,
have owned their lot since around 1996 and then bought an adjoining lot
a couple of years later. Their view was an unobstructed, perfect view
of the hills and the valley below. We chatted about their motorhome, a
1994 Mountain Aire diesel. I was very surprised and would never have
guessed that it was an 11 year old motorhome. It looked great. Night
was coming on quickly and we wanted to get down to our motorhome before
we ended up having to do it in pitch dark. I'm sure we will visit with
Bill and Patricia again.
We didn't do a lot of touring when we passed through the area in 2001,
so there were some places we wanted to see this time through. We saw
that the Weippe (pronounced "wee ipe") Camas Festival was going on over
the weekend and decided to go up to Weippe on Saturday as that seemed
to have some activities we would like to see. In earlier days the
Weippe area was
frequented by the
Indians, who enjoyed the summer climate and profitable hunting grounds.
They erected lodges, fished, hunted and dug the camas root in the
surrounding area. In 1805, Lewis and Clark had their first encounter
with the Nez Perce Indians on the Weippe Prairie, not far from the
present town site. The Corps of Discovery experienced a vicious winter
in 1805 and were tired and hungry, and spirits were low. Clark went
ahead to see if he could find a way out of the mountains and came
across some Nez Perce children who led them to their village. The Nez
Perce fed and cared for the Corps until they were ready to continue
their journey to the Pacific Ocean.
US 12 along the Clearwater River is one of the most
roads we have driven on during our five year journey. Rounding each
curve on the highway offered a different view of the river and
surrounding hills. We had to travel along US 12 to the road that would
take us up to Weippe, which was also pretty incredible as we ended up
looking down on the river.
The festival offered music and talks, as well as other activities and
food. What caught our eyes were two talks that were scheduled for
Saturday, one by Merriweather Lewis and one by William Clark, each
about an hour in length. The first talk was by Lewis (aka Tim McNeil).
He spoke about "Canoes of the Journey". He described the keel boats and
canoes that were used during the journey, including the arduous
portages around a series of waterfalls. The second talk was by Clark
(aka Craig Rockwell) who spoke about the trials and tribulations of the
journey. Specifically, he spoke about why Thomas Jefferson was so
intent on exploring a water route to the Pacific Ocean, Sacagawea's
role, and about his "servant" (he didn't use the word "slave") York.
Each speaker entertained questions at the end of their talk. Both talks
were very informative and entertaining.
On the way out of Weippe we stopped to look at the murals on the walls
of the Discovery Center that represent the Lewis & Clark journey,
as well as the Nez Perce lifestyle.
Memorial Day Weekend came and went quickly. The Lewis & Clark RV
Resort held a barbecue on Monday, but there weren't many people there
this year. A few of the regulars said that they were very surprised the
park was pretty empty and had no explanation for it. We enjoyed our
stay at the resort this time. After the holiday we moved about 25 miles
down US 12 to Orofino to have our slide trays serviced and repaired. We
stayed for two nights at the Pink House, a BLM park. We had purchased
the slide trays from Slim Slider which is owned by Dave and Sharon
Gladhart. The factory was probably no more than a mile for the Pink
House. We have been very pleased with the two Slim Slider trays we had
installed. We opted for these trays over the Joey Bed type trays
because they are all aluminum, including the base, and the rails are
much smaller than Joey Bed type trays. However, the locking mechanism
on the push-pull large tray failed, so I had to drill a hole and use a
pin to lock the tray. Sharon said they would fix it if we were ever
again in the Orofino area. We made an appointment for the day after the
holiday weekend and Dave was waiting for us when we arrived. He
immediately removed the two trays and fixed the lock on the big tray
and serviced the smaller tray. This is definitely the kind of company
with whom we like to do business. Our trays were a little over four
years old and there was never any discussion about having to pay to get
the lock fixed. Great company.
Diane and I didn't tour the Orofino area in 2001 and vowed to see more
of the area this time. We knew there were places to see in the area,
such as the Dworshak Dam, the National Fish Hatchery, and Dent Bridge.
Dave at Slim Slider fixed our slides quickly and then we drove over to
the Pink House and got the motorhome set up. It was early so it seemed
like a good idea to head up to the dam to see if we could get a tour.
We got lucky and got there just as a tour was starting. We went into
the small theater to watch the movie that had started and then had a
Our tour guide was Deborah Norton and she gave us an excellent tour
through the dam. However, although we were able to see the turbines
when we toured the dams in the Dakotas, security was much tighter at
Dworshak and we weren't able to tour the powerhouse. The dam is located
on the North Fork of the Clearwater River. It is the largest
straight axis dam in North America. The dam is 717 feet high and 3,000
feet wide. The reservoir that was created by the dam is stocked with
kokanee salmon and rainbow trout. The displays inside the dam were very
informative with the best one being a model of how the dam was
constructed. It had miniature cranes and trucks and trains that
actually moved as the narration of the construction proceeded.
While we were on the tour of the dam we met some folks who
in the site next to ours at the Pink House. They were Bob and Ginger
Rist with their cute little Pomeranian, Kodi. They were visiting from
Scottsdale, Arizona. Traveling with them was Bob's father, Bob, who
lived in Omaha, Nebraska. It turned out that Bob's brother lived in the
area and some family members were also on the tour of the dam. We
shared some time visiting back at the campground at their site, which
was right along the river, and had a great time chatting.
After the tour of the dam we stopped at the fish hatchery for a
self guided tour. It was built by the Army Corps of Engineers (COE) in
1968 to replenish the fish in the river that could no longer go
upstream on the North Fork as a result of the dam. We learned that the
dam was too high to provide steps for the fish to climb to reach their
spawning locations. We were amazed to learn that fish will return to
within a yard of where they were born. Although there wasn't much
activity going on at the time we visited, we learned that the hatchery
releases 800,000 steelhead trout and 2.5 million chinook salmon. It
takes up to two years for the fish to grow to the size where they can
be released into the river. We stopped at a trailer in which a bunch of
people were cutting the dorsal fins off very small fish. This marks
as coming from the hatchery. It is illegal to catch wild fish, so when
someone catches a fish with a dorsal fin they have to release it.
The lady who chatted with us in the trailer told us that the fish go
all the way down the Clearwater River to the Snake River to the
Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. She said the fish don't actually
swim to the ocean, but rather they flow with the current. She told us
they may stay out in the ocean for two or three years and then return
On our last day in the area we drove up to the Dent Acres Recreation
Area that would take us across Dent Bridge. The drive up provided some
great views of the Clearwater River below and the reservoir created by
the dam. The reservoir has provided lots of recreational opportunities
and some great remote campgrounds reachable only by boats for folks who
enjoy that kind of camping. The reservoir is 54 miles long with 184
miles of shoreline.
Dent Bridge is in a most unlikely place some 17 miles up the reservoir.
The bridge was built by the Army COE during the early 1970s and
provides local access over the reservoir. The towers of the
bridge are 140 feet tall and the water beneath the bridge is 500 feet
deep. The bridge still ranks as one of the largest cable bridges in the
country. It was a cool day, but Diane had packed a picnic lunch that we
ate when we got to Dent Acres, quickly I might add given that it was
much cooler up at the reservoir than down at the river. We were both
kind of surprised at some of the larger RVs that climbed up and then
back down to the campground. I'm not sure I would want to do that with
a big rig.
On the way back to the campground we stopped at Canoe Camp where Lewis
& Clark camped out long enough to build five canoes they needed to
continue their journey to the ocean. The men used to dig out the center
of a tree to make the canoes, but the Nez Perce showed them how to burn
out the center to make it much easier to form the inside of the canoes.
Having enjoyed our stay in the Clearwater Valley, it was time to
continue on our way west towards Salem, Oregon and the Newmar rallies
we planned to attend. We now had six days to complete our journey
across the country. Our plan was to spend a couple of days along the
Snake River so that we could visit the Lewis & Clark Discovery
Center at Hells Gate State Park; two nights along the Columbia River at
a boondocking site we learned about from the Paynes as they traveled
the Lewis & Clark Trail in 2004; and a couple of nights in the
Portland area to catch up on some movies.
We had first decided to stay at the Hillview RV Park in Clarkston,
Washington based on a recommendation from the Paynes from their time in
the area last year. However, Sharon and Dave at Slim Slider pointed us
to the Granite Lake RV Resort located right on the Snake River. We
called ahead and booked two nights for a site facing the river. We did
see Hillview as we went through town and were happy we chose Granite
Lake. Hillview looked nice, but the lure of parking right along the
river, plus free WiFi made Granite Lake the better choice. It had large
paved sites with cable TV hookups. Plus, there is a golf driving range
right next door to the campground.
It was only about an hour's drive from Orofino to Clarkston, so we had
plenty of time to get set up and drive to the Discovery Center in the
Hells Gate State Park. We
watched the movie and looked at the display and then headed home. It
was interesting to us to see the actor who played William Clark in the
movie was the same guy, Craig Rockwell, who gave the talk at the Weippe
Camas Festival as William Clark. On the way back we drove through
Clarkston to find a place to eat dinner and found Roosters on the west
side of town. It was early, but we decided to just go ahead and have an
early meal, or "lupper" as Diane and Linda coined it.
The second day we just stayed home and got caught up on stuff,
like working on the website, washing down the motorhome, ironing, etc,
and then just sitting outside talking to neighbors and watching the
river and the traffic on the road across the river and the occasional
train across the river. We could look up river a few hundred yards and
see where the Clearwater River fed into the Snake River.
Norm and Linda Payne traveled the Lewis & Clark Trail and found a
great boondocking spot along the Columbia River. Our plan was to spend
two nights there, but we ended up spending only one. The drive along
the river was fantastic, albeit it very windy. Around every bend was a
different marvelous view. You can look across the river and see an
entire train, from engine to last car, that might be as long as a mile
and a half. We had no problem
finding the area at exit 109 on I-84 near the John Day Dam. There were
lots of spots to
choose from where one can park an RV for a few nights. There was a sign
that said it was okay to park for up to 14 days. However, it was pretty
cool when we got there and VERY windy in the gorge. Not enough to pull
the slide in overnight, but very windy.
After parking the motorhome and getting it set up, we started to head
out when we saw a few people surrounding a guy who was fishing. His
pole was really bent toward the river and a guy told me he had to have
something at least five feet long on the end of his line. Well, he
fought the thing for about 45 minutes and finally got it to quit and he
got it to the shore. Some buddies of his went down to measure it and I
tried to get down on the rocks to get a photo. Unfortunately, they let
it go before I got down to the shore, but it was a HUGE fish, like
never seen a fish that big on the end of a fishing pole. Someone told
us it was a sturgeon, which I guess can get quite large.
We drove through the Columbia River Gorge in 2001 and spent a couple of
days in The Dalles area, but we didn't do any touring on the Washington
side of the river. We knew about Stonehenge, so we drove over the
bridge to Maryhill to take a look at this replica of the real thing in
England. It was pretty interesting, and the views were magnificent from
up on the hill overlooking the river. It was developed by a guy named
Sam Hill. He was a strange guy to say the least and quite eccentric. He
built the Stonehenge replica as a memorial for the people who died in
World War I. You may not know the name Sam Hill, but no doubt you've
heard the term "What in the Sam Hill are you doing?" Well, that's what
folks kept asking him as he was building his Stonehenge.
After visiting the memorial we drove down the hill and on to The
Dalles. Back in 2001, I had read an article in the USA Today about a
restaurant in The Dalles that sold "yak burgers". The restaurant's name
is Cousins and it still serves yak burgers. Diane and I each ordered
the "Knife and Fork Yak Burger", which was served as an open sandwich
smothered with onion and mushrooms and swiss cheese. It was delicious.
We rarely do dessert, but we couldn't pass up deep dish apple crisp a
la mode, so we split one. YUMMY!
Given that it continued to be very windy in the gorge, and
that thunderstorms were forecast, we decided to drive to Portland and
spend three days in the area and stay at the Flying J and the Camping
World. We got to the Flying J to fuel up and it looked like there was a
gas sale going on. Cars and RVs were backed up into the road waiting to
get in to fuel up. It didn't help that it was pretty tight. After
fueling up and then circling to exit, I had to sit and wait for the car
lines to break up so someone would let us out. So staying there wasn't
an option. There was a TA of America truck stop down the road that had
a lot that wasn't very crowded, so we went there and spent two nights
among "bobtails". I learned that's what the tractor part of a semi is
By now there were four movies on our list that we wanted to see, so we
used the TA as a base to go see three of those movies ("The Longest
Yard", which was good; "Cinderella Man", which was excellent; and
"Madagascar", which was okay and would have been better if we could
have seen it with some grandkids). We also found a Trader Joe's and
went to check it out. We had learned about "two buck Chuck", aka
Charles Shaw wine. The wine actually turned out to be "three buck
Chuck" in Portland, but still a great price for a decent wine.
Our final stop before heading to Salem for the first of two Newmar
rallies was at the Camping World south of Portland. We spent a night
there among some other RVs and went to see the fourth of the movies on
our list, "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants". It's aimed at young
folks, but we "think young", so we enjoyed it very much. Bill and Pat
Wall arrived at the Camping World to have new steps installed, so we
got to visit for a while.
There were two Newmar rallies that we planned to attend while in the
Salem area. The first one was the Fulltimers Chapter Rally and the
second was the Newmar International Rally. We would have five days
between the rallies to do whatever we wanted to do, or to do nothing.
The Fulltimers Chapter rally was held at the Premier RV Resort just
west of Salem. It was formerly known as the Eola Bend RV Resort. It was
an okay campground with 180 full service sites and a very helpful
office staff. The sites were 50-amp full hookup sites on concrete pads.
However, like many parks we stay in, the object is to get as many sites
in as possible and that means sometimes the sites are tight, and they
were tight in this park. There were 50 RVs at the rally. The clubhouse
was nice, but could barely hold 100 people for the meals.
It was great to see folks we hadn't seen for a while. We met some
fulltimers at the rally held in Titusville in December and several of
them were at this rally, like Bill and Donna Riley, Steve and Trish
Brown, and Bill and Martha Verity. New fulltimer we met at the Spring
Fulltimers Rally in Clermont, Dave and Jan Jenkins, arrived and were
parked right next to us. We finally got to meet George and
Barb Carlson, President of the Fulltimers Chapter. They did a great job
coordinating this rally. The weather was reasonably cooperative other
than the golf day when it was drizzly and cool, but still a fun day.
I know Diane was very happy to be with folks who like to play Mexican
Train (dominoes for the uninitiated). I don't particularly care for the
game, but play it once in a while. The first night at the park Diane
and a few other folks stayed after dinner to play Mexican Train. I was
happy to be playing on my laptop given that I had a WiFi connection.
The time passed and it was getting late, and later, and later, and no
Diane. It was around midnight when she rolled in and I told her I was
thinking about calling "CSI Salem" to see if they had found her.
;-) When these folks play dominoes, they play dominoes.
Diane said she had a great time and they joked and laughed a lot. Well,
it became a nightly ritual to play Mexican Train until around midnight.
I'm glad Diane had a lot of fun during the week. I know she misses her
favorite Boggle partner, Linda.
One of the planned activities was to drive to McMinnville to the
Evergreen Aviation Museum. It is home for the Spruce Goose, the huge
wooden plane built by Howard Hughes. It was flown only once on November
2, 1947. The movie "The Aviator" chronicled the life of Howard Hughes
and included the Spruce Goose. He spent $18,000,000 of money from the
federal government plus $7,000,000 of his own money between 1942 and
1947 to build the plane. It never saw service due to the fact that it
was finished after the end of World War II and the government no longer
had a need for the large plane. It is truly a HUGE plane. The wing span
is a bit longer than a football field and it had eight engines.
There were lots of other planes to view in the museum, including a
Spitfire and a Messerschmitt, both of which were capable of flying.
However, given their value, they will never fly. Both planes are worth
many millions of dollars. I have included photos of a couple of the
other planes in the museum.
Our final evening at the rally was spent on the Willamette River on the
sternwheeler Willamette Queen. It was a relaxing two hour ride up the
river along with lots of snack foods and a bar. It was a nice way to
end the rally.
Some folks were staying at the Premier RV Resort for the five days
prior to the International, but we moved 15 miles down the road to a
Coast to Coast park. It's hard to justify spending $26.50 per night
when we could stay at a member park for $8 per day. The park was Forest
Glen and it was also an okay park. Quiet and peaceful while we were
there. Several other Newmar folks went to the park, and then some
non fulltimers came in who were also going to the International rally.
Forest Glen has both shaded and open sites. At the front of the park is
a small amusement park known as Thrill-ville USA. It seemed to cater to
The office manager, Connie, was very helpful and got us moved when I
told her that I wasn't able to get a signal on our dish in the site she
put us in. There are many war stories about people being very unhappy
with Coast to Coast parks and getting less than satisfactory sites or
at Forest Glen. We were very pleased with the service. It was important
to get a satellite signal this week, for me anyway, because it was US
Open Golf Championship week and I don't miss watching the majors.
Of course, we did take time to see some movies before going into the
International rally. We saw Mr. and Mrs. Smith (very good, and funny);
Begins (great); and The Perfect Man (okay).
We had 23 RVs lined up to caravan into the fairgrounds for the Newmar
International Rally when George came on the CB and said they asked us
to hold for another 20 minutes before driving through town to the
fairgrounds. Apparently, the parking folks tried to put an Essex, which
is a 45' motorhome in a field that was too soft and it sunk. They had
to get a tractor to pull it out. We finally got an all clear to drive
to the fairgrounds and we all managed to get through Salem without
difficulty and we reformed our caravan in the holding area inside the
fairgrounds. Unfortunately, we were all under the impression that our
caravan would be parked on asphalt, but that didn't happen. It seems
that everything fell apart and we ended up going to the grassy area,
which was a bit soft. Luckily, we didn't have any rain to speak of
during the week or it would have turned the field into a quagmire.
The rally was okay, but it was the least favorite of the rallies we've
been to over the five years on the road, and definitely the least
favorite of the three Newmar rallies we've attended. There were
problems with the
facility due to them not getting the fairgrounds prepared in time per
the contract for the rally. They were still installing water pipes
while RVs were streaming in and getting parked. That caused problems
with the parking. The sound system in the dining hall, which was also
used for the entertainment, wasn't set up properly until the final
evening's performance. Plus a few other annoyances. In any case, the
annoyances were mitigated by the
camaraderie and fellowship among our fellow RVers and it was great to
see people we hadn't seen for quite a while. I also got to
play golf a few
times while in Salem, including at a beautiful course, the McNary Golf
Club, during the International rally. Next year's
will be held in September in Essex Junction, Vermont, but we plan to be
in Alaska over the summer. So our next International rally will, most
likely, be in
in Gillette, Wyoming where we have been told there is a marvelous
facility for very large RV rallies. However, given that the Newmar
rally will start in late September there's a chance we might get out of
Alaska with enough time to drive across the Trans Canada Highway and
then drop down into Vermont for the rally. It's much too far away to
There were three evenings of entertainment at the rally with various
levels of satisfaction. We both agreed that one was great, one was very
good, and one was so-so. The best evening was the final evening
featuring Johnny Counterfeit, "Comedian/Celebrity Impressionist" and
his band. He was a riot. Not only did he have a great range in his
voice to imitate various singers, but he was hilarious. It was a great
way to end the week.
The second best evening was the first night's entertainment featuring
Johnny Limbo and the Lugnuts, a 50s and 60s band. They were very good,
and sometimes funny. They did a fantastic imitation of the Mamas and
The so-so evening was the mid-week evening that featured Swing Street,
the Glenn Tadina Big Band. Diane and I like swing music and big bands,
but about half the crowd was gone before the evening ended. They did a
great rendition of Sing, Sing, Sing, and I think they made a mistake by
not opening with something as upbeat as that song. They opened too
slowly and lost much of the audience.
After the rally we drove to Eugene to pay a visit
to Damon Rapozo (www.damonr.com).
was the salesman who sold us our Dutch Star in 2000. He now works for
Guaranty RV in Junction City selling high line Country Coaches. I met
Damon via the RVAMERICA bulletin board back in the 1998-99 time frame
when I was doing a lot of research. We were pretty fixed on a Newmar
Dutch Star and Damon always answered our questions completely and in a
timely manner. He made the buying process painless.
It only took an hour to get from Salem to Junction City.
We ran out to
see Bewitched at the local Regal Cinema and then visited with Damon at
Guaranty. He and his family (four kids) moved to Oregon a few
years ago and love living in
Oregon. I was
surprised to learn that snow is not something one expects in
We chatted about his great success since he's been with Guaranty.
He has certainly found his niche and has been named Country Coach
National Salesperson of the Year for four years in a row. In
addition, Country Coach highlights the top salespeople for each of its
product lines and Damon was tops in two of those lines, the Magna (MSRP
around $640,000) and the Affinity (MSRP around $750,000). Diane
and I were pleased to see him doing so well.
After Damon got off from work at 5 he invited us out to see
and a great place it is. They own 80 acres in Springfield.
property is bordered, in part, by the Mohawk and McKenzie Rivers. We
learned that the McKenzie River is a famous
fly fishing location. He showed us where a guy caught a 42 pound
chinook salmon last week. He has eight cows, fields of wheat, and
working cultivating a 7500 tree Christmas Tree farm. He asked if we
wanted to take a ride around the property and we said sure. I
never been on a large ATV. He has two ATVs, a small one that he
a big one that Diane and I rode. Pretty cool. Lots of
the property. I told him my buddies and I used to look for those
kinds of trails when
we had dirt bikes when I was "young". My son and grandson in New
living in such a place given they ride bikes and four wheelers.
We had a great visit with Damon and then headed off for dinner at a
place he said he liked and wasn't crowded, Ron's Hawaiian Grille.
Diane and I shared a very large plate of huli huli chicken and Hawaiian
braised beef. It was delicious.
As I complete this travelogue on Sunday, we are parked in a
Wal-Mart parking lot in Grants Pass in the south of Oregon.
Tomorrow we will start our tour of the coast at the Honey Bear
Campground in the Gold
Beach area. It's also a "milestone" birthday for Diane on Monday
figured it would be better to do that in a campground than in a
Wal-Mart. ;-) It's a German themed campground with
German food on
site and an oompah band. If you've known us for a while and/or
read any of our international travelogues you know we loved visiting
Germany. So we plan on having a good time tomorrow night
celebrating Diane's birthday.
Until next time, safe travels.....