Scenic Rivers and Canola Fields
(May 23 to June 26, 2005)

You can click on "photos" to get 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 the summer.

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 days.

As a rule, you aren't supposed to stay at a Coast to Coast park on 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 Weekend.

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 car off 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 that 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 holiday weekend.

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 1907.

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, Oregon. They 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 Nez Perce 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 beautiful 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 guided tour.

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 were parked 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 them 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 to spawn.

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 9'2". I've 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 called.

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 small groups.

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 service. Not 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); Batman 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 International rally 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 2007 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 plan.

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 Papas.

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 ( He 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 Oregon.  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 his place, and a great place it is.  They own 80 acres in Springfield.  The 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 is 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 have never been on a large ATV.  He has two ATVs, a small one that he rode and a big one that Diane and I rode.  Pretty cool.  Lots of trails through 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 York would love 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 and I 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.....

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