Saturday, September 29, 2007

Leaving Astoria for Portland

They call this the haystack. It is over 200 feet high and was made when a volcano pressed it up out of the water.
The Octopus Tree
Beautiful Coastline
Powerful waves make for a majestic view.
This is a picture of a Coast Guard boat doing it's thing. These boats are so tough it is amazing! The people who man the boats are incredibly brave. They are called on to go out in the roughest seas and rescue people. In the museum display they had mannequins on the real boat and they were strapped on board. Even the pilot was strapped so he couldn't fall out.

We have been here at Astoria for a week now and will be leaving today and moving to the Portland, Oregon area. It is only about 100 miles. I get excited about moving on and anticipate learning about the next location and sometimes wake up early. I awoke at 1:30 and decided to come and write as I can’t sleep. I’ll go back to bed around 4 or 5 and sleep a little more. We have taken the car on trips up the coast of Washington and down the coast of Oregon. Northwest Washington and the Seattle area will have to be another trip. Yesterday we traveled down the Oregon coast south and back and saw a lot of pretty scenery. We stopped and saw the ‘Octopus Tree’ at cape Mears and that is 60’ around and some of the limbs stretch out horizontal 30’ before turning upward. Here’s a little info on the tree.
Tradition handed down by the Indians is that the eerie giant is a burial tree shaped when it was young to hold canoes of a chief's family. Such deeply-rooted lore passed from generation to generation is likely to be founded on truth, and Indian history of the area will corroborate it.
Archaeologists have found evidence that Indians lived along these shores for 3,000 years. The tribes in this area for generations back through the dim past placed their dead in the trees in canoes. But the trees had to be prepared to hold them. Branches of a forest tree normally reach straight upward, toward the light, but those on a burial tree were forced, when pliable, into a horizontal position beyond which they grew upward. Once the pattern was set, the tree might grow to a great size but always kept the shape, as did the Octopus Tree.
Burial trees (the oldest trees) for many years could be spotted here and there in the virgin forest. The Octopus Tree (which the Indians revered and called The Council Tree) is more than 60 feet at its base. No one can tell its age without counting the rings. Some theorize it could have been a young tree at about the time of Christ. No matter what the actual age of the tree may be, a visit to the prehistoric tree of mystery is truly an enjoyable visit.
The Columbia River Bar again. I keep thinking about the power of the bar in the Columbia River. A few things I remembered are that our pilot Joe said there are times when the Coast Guard will not let you into the river until it has calmed down. You have to stay in the ocean until it is safe. Another thing we learned at the museum is that the biggest mistake you can make is to start a boat into the bar at the wrong time. The bar can change in 5 minutes. I have also been thinking of the comparison of the bar to a water hose under pressure. Imagine millions of gallons being pressurized into a huge hose and then trying to maneuver a boat through it. The power of it is just awesome!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Columbia River Museum

While eating at the "Wet Dog", we saw this tug pulling the barge.
This boat passed by while we were eating. There is a bar pilot's boat alongside.

This is the Coast Guard boat display.
Today we went to the Columbia River Maritime Museum. This was definitely worth the time. It explains the dangerous Columbia River Bars. The Columbia River opening to the Pacific is 4 miles wide. This is where the ocean water meets the powerful river water that has been collecting for over 1200 miles. At this point several things happen. Much silt is deposited from the river and the two currents rushing together make a whitewater display that can even the biggest ocean liners to sink. Couple this with stormy ocean conditions with 70 mile per hour winds and it is very, very dangerous. The waves can be 40 to 70 feet high and can crash over the ships. When we went by the bars, they were low, but I wouldn’t have wanted to go through them. They made the level 4 rapids we went through on the Snake River a few weeks ago look like child’s play. I posted earlier today about the bar pilots and their important role in guiding the ships through the river bar. I wondered why they didn’t just plot a course and put it in a GPS and then they wouldn’t have to have the Bar Pilots. At the museum I found out the reason why this wouldn’t work – the bars move. This means the danger is always moving as the bar changes location. Couple this with the tide coming in and going out and you have a very complicated situation. At the museum they showed bar pilots boarding the boats and the techniques they use. It was very interesting.

The Columbia is the largest river (measured by volume) flowing into the Pacific from the Western Hemisphere, and is the fourth-largest in North America, behind the Mississippi, St. Lawrence, and Mackenzie Rivers. (In rare years, the river’s flow may actually exceed that of the Mississippi.) The Columbia's average annual flow is about 265,000 ft/second. It flows 1,243 miles from its headwaters to the Pacific, draining 258,000 square miles, of which about 15% is in Canada.

The Columbia Bar is a bar at the mouth of the Columbia River between the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington. The river's current often dissipates into the Pacific Ocean as large, standing waves, partially caused by the deposition of sediment as the river slows. These standing waves are usually mixed with ocean waves and wreak havoc with vessels of all sizes. The Columbia current varies from 4 to 7 knots westward and therefore into the predominantly westerly winds and ocean swells, creating significant surface conditions. Unlike other major rivers, the current is focused "like a fire hose" without the benefit of a river delta. Conditions can change from calm and serene to life-threatening breaking waves in as little as five minutes due to changes of direction of wind and ocean swell. Since 1792, approximately 2,000 large ships have sunk in and around the Columbia Bar.
The nearby United States Coast Guard station at Cape Disappointment, Washington is renowned for operating in some of the roughest sea conditions in the world and is also home to the National Motor Lifeboat School. It is the only school for rough weather and surf rescue operation in the United States and is respected internationally as a center of excellence for heavy boat operations.

Bar pilots consider "the bar" to be the area between the north and south jetties and Sand Island.
The Columbia Bar is part of a set of major marine coastal hazards along the Pacific Northwest coast, including Cape Flattery at the northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula and Cape Scott, which is at the north tip of Vancouver Island. Historically this region's nickname to mariners was the Graveyard of the Pacific, and the region is studded with thousands of shipwrecks.
The Coast Guard display was very good and it told how difficult their training is. They actually had a retired boat on display. The retired boat had rolled over in the bar several times and even went end over end once. There was a time when a huge boat lost its rudder and crashed into the dock where the coast guard boat was tied. The boat was gone and it was thought that it was crushed. When they pulled the big boat away, the coast guard boat bobbed to the top and was still usable.

Crabbin' and River Trip Continued.

This is Joe and George cooking the crab.
After cooking the crab they put them in cold water.
California Sea Lions.
The big red hose is used to suck fish out of the boats into the cannery.

While on our outing we got to see California Sea Lions. There are many of them here in the river and are seen as a pest by the local fishermen. They are protected in that they cannot be killed but are causing a lot of problems for the men who make their living on the waters. George said a Lion will eat 50 pounds of salmon in a day. There are 3800 lions in the river area and at 50 pounds each day that comes to 190,000 pounds of salmon a day. That is about 5 semi truck loads per day. They go right through a fisherman’s net and also get on the piers and they really smell. The smell is very nauseating. The government brands some of them to try to track them. Imagine paying for a docking spot for your boat and when you get there the dock is filled with bellowing sea lions that bark at you and will eventually move – but only with some hesitation. George said there are more sea lions now than ever but the govt. won’t allow a hunting season on them.
Joe said that when he has fishermen out and they have caught a big fish, he has reached over the boat and just as he is about to grab the fish a sea lion comes up out of the water and takes the fish practically out of his hands. He said they roar real loud and shred the fish right in front him. Not only does it scare the heck out of him, but his customer that is paying to fish isn’t very happy about it either. He said the lions are just getting too tame.

I didn’t mention that when we brought our crab back they cooked them on the dock and we enjoyed them fresh. They were really good.

Crabin' out of Astoria, OR

George throwing out the line of a crab pot. He kind of looks like a fisherman on a book cover doesn't he?
The secret is placing the pot in the water level
First Mate George and Skipper Joe with one of the pots. We got 21 keeper crabs total. I think George threw back about 5 that were too small. You can only keep males. Females and small crabs have to be thrown back. George had a gauge made of metal that measured their width.
George shows me some tips on crab cracking
It was a great time and Joe and George couldn't have been better hosts!
Yesterday we went crabbing and on a Columbia River tour. There is just so much that we learned and experienced. Our Skipper (or Pilot) was Joe and our First Mate was George. Joe is only 28 and he is a great guy. Their company “Tiki Charters” doesn’t normally take crabbing tours like ours. This is a slow season and they accommodated us. Joe is friendly and informative and has had a lot of experience. In the off season he pilots yachts from place to place. He told of a yacht he took from San Diego to Florida that was probably a 5.5 million dollar vessel. He said the yacht hasn’t been untied since he delivered it 4 and a half years ago. This winter he will take a yacht from San Diego to Hawaii. It will be the fourth time he has done this for the owner. I think the owners want their boat in an area and then they fly there to enjoy it for a few days and then fly back. Joe said it will take about three weeks to get to Hawaii.

Another interesting story is about the bar and river pilots. Joe said there is a very dangerous bar in the Columbia River. We read where 200 ships and over 2,000 vessels have been lost there. A bar pilot goes on board a big ship and takes charge of navigation of the ship till it is in safe waters. He then leaves and another pilot takes over to dock the ship. Joe said the bar and river pilots make about 300 thousand dollars per year. He said they have a license to pilot anything of any size. He said they can even pilot a nuclear submarine. One of the dangers of being a bar pilot is the task of getting on and off a ship in heavy seas. We talked to a retired river boat pilot who told of hanging from a rope between the ship and his delivery boat in 45 foot seas. He was banging back and forth against the ship while dangling from a rope. Joe said every year or so a pilot dies while trying to get on or off of a ship. If the seas are really rough, they sometimes use a helicopter and suspend the pilot from a rope and lower him to the deck – still a formidable task in 45 foot seas. Joe said they go pilot a ship 24 – 7. That’s just how it is. A pilot is on duty for 22 days and then off for 22 Days. Interesting hours.

The crabs are caught in a cage called a pot. Our pots are 50 pound pots but the commercial guys use 120 pound pots. The 50 pound pots can be pulled in by two guys fairly easily but there are moments when they pull hard. We used 60 feet of rope between each pot and the buoys and dropped the pots in 35 feet of water. Pots are dropped in the morning at low tide and gathered in the afternoon after high tide. We had 8’ of tide yesterday which is too much for good crabbing. The current was flowing in at 4 knots and that is kind of brisk for crabs and George says the crabs kind of hunker down and don’t move a lot which reduces our catch. Crabbing is best when they walk around freely because then they are more apt to get into the pot. We dropped 5 pots and gathered 21 crabs. One of our pots was empty and Joe thinks someone robbed our crab because the latch was secured differently than he does it. He says that is fairly common. Crabbing is not allowed until October 1 for commercial crabbers but we are considered recreational crabbers so we can crab now but according to law we cannot sell the crab.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Cranberries and Western Washington

Kim at the cranberry bogs
Kim wanted to get her feet in the Pacific. This is Long Beach,WA. It has the longest beach in the world at 28 miles.
This is where we ate this evening. The whole restaurant is over the water on a pier and that was an unusual experience.
This is an Olde English Bulldogge puppy named Rae. She was so cute and reminded us of Molly, our dog at home with Kevin and Patti Sommers.

Today we drove the car along the western coast of Washington. We stopped by a cranberry museum and test farm. It was quite interesting. Here are some quick facts on cranberries. Planting a bog starts when they use the cuttings or pruned vines and disc them into the ground about 4”. It takes a bog about 4 years to produce and it fully produces in about 7-10 years. A bog can last over 100 years without replanting. Cranberries don’t grow in a bog as you might think. They prefer well drained irrigated conditions. The flooding is a method of harvesting the cranberries. They float to the top of the water after they have been beaten from the vine by a machine. They float because they are hollow. 95% of all cranberries are harvested wet. These are used for juice and sauce. All berries you purchase whole are dry harvested. There is some weird rule that the harvest begins the second weekend of October every year. There is a rule that was made over a hundred years ago that if you start before then you get fined – and it still stands today. Just this week Ocean Spray asked the farmers to harvest some of the cranberries early while they are still white so they can make craisins (raisins out of cranberries). This way the craisins will be lighter colored than raisins. If they are red, the craisins look like raisins and that hurts the sale of them. There are over 200 varieties of cranberries but only ten are produced commercially.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Astoria, OR – We’re Goin’ Crabbin’!

The Astoria Megler Bridge that joins Washington and Oregon over the Columbia River.
Farmer's Market - Astoria
Salsa kits in a bag
Gords crafted into fall festive ornaments
The Midnight Dancer is the boat we will be taking Wednesday.

We got to the Astoria area yesterday and got settled in OK at the KOA. Last night we went out to a seafood restaurant called Doogers. It was very good. I went online and there are lots of restaurants we hope to try while in the area. We are at the mouth of the Columbia River and there is so much to do here. Today we went to church and then to a farmer’s market in downtown Astoria. It was 4 blocks long. They have it every Sunday from May to October. It was a lot of fun. One of their rules is that the venders have to make what they sell. It is nice because it keeps it from becoming a flea market. There were beads, homegrown veggies, crafts and all kinds of things. My neck has been bothering me so I got a 10 minute massage. Of all the shopping we’ve done, the farmer’s markets are the thing we like best. Kim is slicing the veggies for homemade salsa now and I will use a hand cranked processor to make it when I get done with the blog. This is a inside joke in that about 8 years ago when we were in Shipshewana at the flea market I bought this hand cranked processor and have teased Kim ever since that it has been the best buy of all time. Actually it has been handy and is very small. When we had our $5,000.00 garage sale we agreed we would take it in the RV. Tonight it will demonstrate it’s incredible worth as I make salsa in a few minutes with it!

We are trying something cool Wednesday. We are chartering a boat to leave at 8 AM and we will set our own crab pots (traps) and then tour the river and have lunch on the boat and on our way back we will collect the traps (and hopefully have crabs) and they will cook our crabs on the dock when we get back! We are very excited to do this. They said it is a good time to get crabs. We spoke with our captain Joe and his helper Tracy. It should be great fun!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Leaving Mossy Rock

Here's how to transport a goat in Mossy Rock, WA
Big trees line the highway
It is snowing at the Mt Rainier visitor enter
Mt St Helens from a distance
Pretty landscapes all around
We been here in Silver Creek (near Mossy Rock) a week and will be moving to Astoria today. Astoria is on the WA – OR border and there is lots to see and do there. We have been resting and I have been writing. I believe I may have told you I am working on a book. I’ve never done this before and it is enjoyable, but a lot more work than one might think.

Since our last blog we have visited the Mt Rainier area. It is beautiful with tall trees and a big creek. Unfortunately this late in the year the creek is about dry. There was fog so we couldn’t see the mountain, but it was still worth the trip. Kim just said that the weather hasn’t been very nice here but we have met a lot of nice people. It has been a little rainy and colder than we have gotten accustomed to. The days are low 60’s and the nights around 50. It is good sleeping weather. We also haven’t had a lot of sunshine here.

A few days ago while walking in the park we met a group of people who are friends and live in the same 55 plus park an hour and a half from here. They camp together once a month. They invited us into their group and we spent the afternoon and early evening with them. They were very nice and we laughed with them a lot. Yesterday while walking we met Brita and Charlie from Germany. They came over and looked at our MH and spent an hour talking. They are so interesting. He said he is from West Germany and an engineer for a biscuit company. He told that in East Germany if you want a car you must pay in full and you will get it in 10 to 15 years when it is made. He also said that the cars are 2-cycle and smoke and put out lots of pollution. He said they put out a cloud of smoke wherever they go and are a very poorly made car. It was so interesting to talk to them. We exchanged info and agreed we would like to see them in the future if visiting Germany. They have been to Hawaii 4 times and the continental US 3 times.

Last night I had a good talk with the owner of the park and also some neighbors stopped by for an hour to talk. They were really great to talk with. He worked with Monsanto, a company that does many things and makes Roundup, a weed killer we used on the farm. He also carves wood and we are planning to see some of his work before we leave today. I spoke with the man who lives just behind us and he was on a tractor 30 miles from Mt St Helens when it erupted in 1980. He said the cloud just went up and up. He said there are mounds of ash along the highway that they scraped off and is now covered with vegetation. Being 30 miles out, he didn’t hear a thing as the sound waves were blasted upward by the power of the volcano. He said the ground shook though. We only have 150 miles to go and our checkout isn’t till 2 so we aren’t in a hurry.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Mt St Helens, WA

Mt St Helens gave warning as she was bulging on the side before the eruption. A helicopter does a controlled burn after the timber has been cut so seeding can begin.
The valley above has 150 feet of deposit from the eruption. The gray deposit on the tree is ash baked on from the volcano. Lumberjacks had to knock it off before cutting as it would dull their saws. There were also trees that had their bark blown off from the hurricane force of the volcano.

These are some people we met from Germany. They drove this German made Heavy Duty RV around Europe and to Africa and then had it shipped here and are touring the US for a year.

Yesterday we toured the Mt St Helens area. While the clouds shrouded the mountain and we couldn’t see it, we visited the educational centers and learned a lot about the mountain and its eruption starting on May 18, 1980.

· The blast power was equal to thousands of atomic bombs.
· In less than ten minutes the eruption levels 230 square miles of forest.
· The mountain lost 1300 feet of height and .67 cubic miles of total volume.
· The eruption began with a massive landslide (debris avalanche) that buried 14 miles of river valley to an average depth of 150 feet.
· Because the blast was so powerful, it pushed the sound waves up and no sound of the erupting volcano was heard for 60 miles.
· The landslide released trapped magma and gas, producing a sideways explosion (lateral blast) of hot rock and ash killing trees up to 17 miles north of the volcano. A vertical ash eruption rose to a height of 15 miles above the crater and continued for 9 hours.
· Something I learned is that the heat of the eruption melts the snow cap and frozen glacier ice and caused flooding. There was a picture of mailboxes 35 miles away that were virtually covered by the flow. Add to the water the rocks and hot magma and it is quite a horrible thing.
· One of the hardest hit industries was logging. Weyerhaeuser lost approximately 60,000 acres of trees. Logging camps, buildings and equipment were also lost or damaged. Many of the trees near the mountain were a total loss but much of the forest blown flat in the lateral blast could be saved. By November of 1982, the Weyerhaeuser Lumber Company had recovered enough blown down trees to build 85,000 three bedroom homes. At times, they were hauling 600 semi loads of logs per day away from the area. After the recovery came the daunting task of planting, by hand, more than 18.4 million trees over 45,500 acres. Test plots showed that normal survival and growth could be expected as long as the ash was scraped away so the seedlings roots could be placed directly in the mineral rich soil below.
· Weyerhaeuser logged 21,000 acres of damages trees in 2 years with over 1000 men.
· October 2004 Mt St Helens erupts after 18 years of quiet. Lava extrudes from the crater floor at the rate of one dump truck load per second and builds a new lava dome. May 2007 Lava extrusion decreases (a small pickup load every 2 seconds. No explosive eruptions in a year.

Here is a link to frequent questions about Mt St Helens.

If you want to see a live web cam of Mt St Helens, here is the link. Remember we are three hours different from Indiana.

Eagle Facts
Bald eagles mate for life and return each spring to rebuild the nest. They add to it each year and nest in large trees have been known to ne 9 feet wide by 20 feet deep and weigh as much as 2 tons.

Wood Facts
Every day, every person in the world, uses wood. Wood is one of the world’s most important resources. It shows up in homes and other buildings, paper products, furnishings and tools. In addition to these, more than 5,000 other products come from or contain ingredients from trees. And still, 50% of the wood used around the world is burned for cooking and heating.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Day off in Richland, WA

Kim with her flowers
Anthony's Kitchen
The outside view at Anthony's
and more vinyards

Friday went to the Chiropractor and then to a farmers market in downtown. They closed down several streets for the market. We bought tomatoes, apples, sweet corn, bread, green beans, a fresh fruit drink from a Hawaiian style drink maker (oranges, bananas and strawberries), some beef from a local rancher and I bought a bouquet of flowers for Kim. I know she really appreciates flowers. When we got home I fell asleep in the recliner outside and Kim read and listened to me snore.

While in Richland we went to Anthony’s restaurant. It is a very nice place with a view of the lake and really good food. We liked that the kitchen is out in the open where we could see them making the food. The cooks were real chefs and it showed in their attitudes that they liked what they were doing. After eating at Anthony’s we walked outside and toured an outside boat show. The must have had several hundred boats. We say some Smoker Craft that were mad in New Paris, IN.

When we got to Richland we found that our neighbor on the right retired from asphalt making equipment manufacturing. He sold his company a little over a year ago. As we left we met the neighbor on the other side and he just retired from a ready mix company in southern California. His sister now runs the company.

We arrived at Silver Creek tonight where we’ll be for a week. Our neighbors pulled in just after us and are from South Carolina. His name is Jack and hers is Sylvia. They are really nice people and we look forward to getting to know them over the next few days. For the next week we’ll be visiting Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. I hope to take a helicopter ride over Mt. St. Helens. Some other RV’ers highly recommended it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Richland Again

Mountains reflected in the water
Mountains reflected in the water
This was our view from the highway
More wheat fields and beautiful landscapes
Horn Rapids RV Resort (our rig is the first one on the left)

Just after I posted this AM I looked at my pics from yesterday’s travels and thought I’d include them The pics of the mountains reflecting in the lake were taken by Kim while moving down the highway. While traveling from Clarkston to Richland we saw thousands and thousands of acres of wheat and other small grain crops. The landscape is so beautiful with the beautiful rolling hills. Just as we got here we started seeing more vineyards and wineries with wine tasting stations – some crude, some very stylish. Most of the wineries aren’t all that big of set ups. The rivers and lakes we passed by were very beautiful.

Richland, WA

Kim likes to dip her feet in the water when she gets a chance.
Yep, it's cold!
Petroglyphs supposedly 2500 years old (see note below)
This is a Yurt that a man built on a big deck. He did so because he wouldn't owe property taxes on it. (See note below)

We are on our way to Silver Creek, WA to spend a week there to see Mt. St Helens and MT Rainier. We stopped for a night in Richland at the Horn Rapids RV Resort. It is just three years old so it is easier to maneuver in than most parks and the trees aren’t big enough to be a concern when parking. We decided to spend and extra day here so we will be resting, shopping and probably playing cards today. I would like to go to a chiropractor today and get my neck adjusted and the office has made a recommendation.

In the last post I told about the Hell’s Canyon tour. At that time we were staying at a RV park in Clarkston, WA. Just across the river is the town of Lewiston, ID. These towns’ names derive from Lewis and Clark who made a big impact on a lot of things in the area. There are a lot of tourist things centered on their trail and history.
Last night our neighbors brought their dinner over to our picnic table and we ate together and talked several hours. Their names are Stu and Jean. They are from Saskatoon. Saskatoon is centrally located in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada. The city lies 780 kilometers northwest of Winnipeg, a little over 520 kilometers southeast of Edmonton, and just over 300 kilometers north of the U.S. border. A little over a year ago they sold their company that manufactures equipment for highway buildings (asphalt plants, etc). They were very nice and we had a great time. They left early this AM for a Monaco rally in Oregon.
Petroglyphs are images created by removing part of a rock surfaces by incising, pecking, carving, and abrading. Outside North America, scholars often use terms such as "carving", "engraving", or other descriptions of technique to refer to such images. Petroglyphs are found world-wide, and are often (but not always) associated with prehistoric peoples. The word comes from the Greek words petros meaning "stone" and glyphein meaning "to carve". The term petroglyph should not be confused with pictograph, which is an image drawn or painted on a rock face. Both types of image belong to the wider and more general category of rock art.
A yurt is a round tent like housing that originated in Mongolia. It is used by Russian soldiers and we have seen quite a few of them at campgrounds on our trip. People can rent them like a cabin. Most that we have seen have a clear dome that is three or four feet in diameter.