Monday, August 31, 2009


This is moving day in the true sense of the word. Jim and I pulled into my yard in Murphys yesterday. Old reliable, Panama or Bust, with the Bronco and the bike, sit comfortably under the oaks. Jim, a full timer, spent nine years of his life in this rig. Today, we move to my rig, the Terra. It is squeaky clean and I'm its second owner, but the newness hasn't worn off. It doesn't have the storage that Jim's rig has. But, a walk around queen, room to exercise for me. A trade off.
We'll be parked with only short outings for the next four months when we road warriors will be off and moving on wheels again.
The best thing about returning home? Catching up with family, friends and neighbors, and a true, juicy, tasty, sweet, sun burnished, VINE RIPENED TOMATO. Despite all the fruit stands and farmers markets we frequented, there is nothing quite like that gush of backyard tomatos and the distinct smell of the vines.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


It was hot! Daughter and two sweet boys arrived. Above, 9 year old Owen, with the bedroom hair, was sick. He slept on a towel on the grass while we dunked in the lake. He slept under a tree in the shade while we played 8 holes of mini-golf. We finally had mercy on him, took him home, (close by Lake Minden). More comfortable at home, we spent the rest of the day playing cards while he dozed between video games and felt better.
This game, with 7 year old Theo, above, is a riot. Its called Ruckus. Fast moving, card stealing kind of game. It plays wonderfully with three people, kids, mixture of adults and children. No one has to know how to read so a six year old can play if they have an adult dealer. The box says its for 2-4 players ages 7 through adult. You don't have to score. Its just fun. Players can move in and out of the game and come back. A real delight. Grandma, the beginner, won the first game since we decided to score.
We then switched to Slamwich, also fast moving; a card flipping game and physically fun. For six year olds and up, it won the Best Toy Award from Oppenheim Toy Portfolio.
Guess who won the Slamwich game?
I see a lot of grandparents on the road RVing with their kids and grandkids. These are great, easy to pack, and fun.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


This is sunrise over Lake Minden in May of this year.
This is sunset at Lake Minden, last night. Kind of hazy and cloudy.

Today is Saturday. Its only going to be 100 degrees and "Weather Wimp Jim" is shuddering. (I can't blame him.) He is used to weather between 66 and 73 degrees. I'm going to spend the day in the lake with my daughter and grandkids and just vegetate. That way, I won't have to listen to Jim cry.
We are parked at Thousand Trails Lake Minden which is 20 miles north of Sacramento. We started our trip on May 27th at Lake Minden and we'll end this trip, our last night in the old motor home, here at Lake Minden.
I'm Looking forward to heading back to Murphys, loading into the new motorhome, and the new adventures to come. Plus, Thailand in December. (Not in a motorhome.)

We've just become acquainted with a blog at this link
which referenced Jim and I as partners with separate blogs. Very fun site.
Which also acquainted me with squawmama Donna.

I hate being a techno dummy. To some were given talents with complicated stuff like how do you get a message to POST to your blog. I read them, click the button, click publish this message, and nothing? I just bumble along. If it weren't for my partner, Jim, I'd be living in a techno swamp unable to post anything.
Anyway, squawmama, Donna left me a message and I clicked all the buttons and it still doesn't appear on my blog. I WILL FIND YOU.

Life is good and then you blog. (sounds like something someone does when in trouble, no?)

Friday, August 28, 2009


In our travels, we see a variety of interesting birds. Ever present is the corvid family of crows and ravens. I was never sure of the difference between a crow and a raven, but I know now. Very little. If its huge, its likely a raven.
I listened one morning to raven-speak, while four of them squawked in one timbre and two others called to each other, over the chatter, in a distinctly different tone of voice. I wondered, do males sound different than females? What could they be saying? I tried taking pictures of them but small digitals don't do a great job on birds. (Blame the camera, right?)

Anyway, it brought to mind the old English ditty that I no longer recall but it begins, a murder of crows, an unkindness of ravens, a scold of jays, a cast of hawks, and so on. What I found when I tried to look it up, not a ditty, but venery. Old language forms for things in a group. I was quite amazed at the variety, many familiar as in a school of fish, a pride of lions, a string of horses.
From just the birds I could identify having seen on this three month trip came these interesting group identifiers: an ostentation of peacocks, a colony of gulls, a charm of goldfinches, a wedge of geese (flying) a gaggle of geese (walking), a siege of herons, a convocation of eagles, a raft of ducks, a cote of doves, a nide of pheasants, a company of parrots, a parliament of owls, a murmuration of starlings, a descent of woodpeckers, a flock of turkeys.

A flock of turkeys? Oh, I was so disappointed. A simple flock of turkeys for a bird that is huge and colorful with wattles wriggling down its face, blue feet, and a distinct gobble? Surely the ancients could have come up with something better than that?
I guess they didn't have turkeys in England. I propose we coin the group noun for turkeys a gabble of turkeys or a gossip of turkeys. Hmm, they didn't have parrots, either.
Antiquarians over the years have added to the original list to include: an army of frogs, a mob of emus, weyr of dragons, a huddle of penguins, a barren of mules, a shrewd of apes, a glint of goldfish, a cloud of gnats, mischief of mice, a bloat of hippotomi, a tower of giraffes, a parade of elephants...
Gosh, this is fun.
Then others, with tongue in cheek, chose to define a clutch of mechanics, a tedium of golfers, a drunk of bartenders, a wince of dentists, a shrivel of critics, a scissors of hairdressers, omigod. Its so easy and fun to play the game.
But living creatures aren't the only groups. Cynthia Helms mother defined her jewelry as:
a twinkle of diamonds
a glitter of emeralds
a burst of rubies
a sparkle of sequins
a shimmer of sapphires
a dazzle of topaz
a bed of pearls

James Lipton published the ultimate book on venery entitled An Exaltation Of Larks, The Ultimate Edition. I'm going to buy it.
But, before I sign off, a murder of crows is called a murder because a huge number of crows can attack and actually "murder" a cow or other large animal. In the dark ages, supposedly, they would put offenders in a "crow cage", where the birds could peck the miscreant to death. Arrggh!

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I used to think I was a collector. People do amass wonderful collections of great interest be it art, antiques, stamps, tools, shoes, or Mickey Mouse stuff...the list is endless.
My husband used to remind me once in awhile that most people collect things OF VALUE!
I collect things I like, or things I have more than one of, or things I think may have value in the future.
My undoing came when a friend from Holland wanted to see my greeting card collection. He looked at me and said, "You aren't a collector, you are an accumulator. You don't throw anything away."
It was true, I had kept every greeting card I had ever received, more cookbooks than anyone could reasonably use, 5000 pounds of magazines...
A week later he showed up at my door with several of his accumulations and gave them to me.
One packet was 3X5 cards with razor blade covers glued to them. For those of you who have never seen one, a razor blade used to be purchased with a little paper cover folded over each individual blade. My dad used to buy Gillette Blue Blades in a blue cover.
A second packet contained pictures of German Coats of Arms glued to 3X5 cards. There were several others. He explained that people collected worthless things to occupy themselves when they had no money for other entertainments. You should collect the best cards of a given year, or of a theme, or from a particular company, and toss the rest. The trouble is, I'm not a good tosser.
Razor blade covers are not something I would have chosen but I was fascinated at how an ordinary object took on some cache simply because it was arranged nicely with other ordinary objects of the same kind.
I was off and running. Now I looked at every magazine picture I saw in an entirely different light. I put together collections of chairs, interesting ads, graphic letters, famous beaches, t-pots, cats, dogs, shoes, lips, musical instruments, on and on and on ...impossible. I was waaaay ahead of the scrapbook craze. Now that I'm an RVer, I take pictures of stuff I like and save them on my computer.
If I wasn't having fun and enjoying the whole dang thing, I would have thought myself deeply disturbed. Curse you Peter Kooey, I'm now a much more avid accumulator. I still don't toss. My accumulations have expanded. My friends call me a collectiholic. Its an addiction.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


We left the State of Washington, zipped through Portland, two nights in Rogue River, where I have property but no signal. Then, we lost 2nd and 3rd gear on the motor home and spent a hot day having the transmission governor replaced in Yreka, CA. A signal in Yreka and no time to blog. Finally made it to Redding by 9:00 a.m.
Dipping back, I found much to admire in Washington:
My impression is that Washington really encourages and respects their Indian populations.
Roads, for the most part, are well taken care of. Traffic engineers around Seattle came to the game late and had little space to work with, so, I make concessions for the congestion there.
They have WiFi in their rest areas along I-5.
I never saw anyone drunk. People don't seem to drink as much here. (It may be because you can't buy booze anywhere but the state store, or because we didn't spend much time in cities.
The trees, the climate, the clean fresh air, lakes, rivers, and recreational opportunities. Bountiful nature.
Washingtonians know how to make good beer, good burgers, and they are friendly.
There is sales tax, which is smart, because your tourist industry is helping to pay for your roads, parks and museums, but no income tax.
Parks and museums are well kept and clean and seem to glisten with people pride
I like that Tacoma Power built a toad tunnel to help Western toads, (a species at risk,) navigate through a boat launch area.
What's not to like? Well, I'm getting to that.
When you are RVing you are defined as a camper and shuffled off to parks and camp sites that are rural in nature, away from big city recycling centers. With a couple million RV's on the road, that is a lot of reusable's going down the tubes.
Some parks recycle beverage bottles and aluminum cans. Most aren't recycling at all.
One park that recycled last year, was not recycling this year. When I asked, I found out that the county turned over all waste management to a private company. The park now pays double for garbage pickup and would have had to pay another for recyclables. They canceled.
Some counties charge a hefty fee to dump a load of recycle or garbage. So, here we are with our couple grocery bags of mixed recyclables and we'd have to pay a $13 fee the same as a guy with a whole trailer load of garbage?
Elsewhere we were able to walk in our recyclables to a remote location, but no convenient places around town like gas stations, parks, visitor centers and places where travelers gather.
In counties where the fees are high, cans and litter are everywhere. Dead cars, trash burning, piles of rubbish in yards and so on, uglifying the area and corrupting the air.
Okay, this may be a short sited view, but if the state mandates that counties reduce their landfill, they will sure as hell get a serious recycling program going. A lot can be done to encourage recycling: Good signage, punish litterbugs, enforce eyesore laws, ban garbage burning. And, recycling helps PAY the way.
Rant over and out.
Here are a couple pictures of Portland's famous Rose Garden, which also has a zoo, train, playgrounds, amphitheater, historic reservoir, a Holocaust Memorial and wonderful grounds for taking the family on an outing.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


With only one day to spend in Portland on our way south, it was difficult to choose what to see as we launched ourselves away from the visitor's center at Pioneer Square.
We countrified types took about 15 minutes to understand the various parking meters which are 15 minutes for regular meters, all day for several strategically placed ones about the downtown district and then those you can buy into for a limit of 90 minutes, over and over again. Transportation by bus and metro trains is efficient and discourages taking the car to town. One way streets and bus only lanes, well, I won't dwell on how impressed I was with the traffic control and ease with which seasoned Portlanders have to get around their beautiful city. If you go, take public transportation.
The square itself is the heart beat of the city, with sculptures and water fountains everywhere, including the type you can drink from. People congregate here for music, relaxation, restaurants and convening informally with the rest of humanity. Fascinating how a brick stairway can also be a wheelchair or stroller ramp at the same time. Ingenious!

We headed for the culture district and oohh, I found an M.C.Escher exhibit at the Portland Art Museum. Escher isn't cherished by everyone but in my book he is as fascinating as a kalidescope. Pictures were not allowed but I have several examples of Escher at home that I am mentally regarding with a new appreciation.
A quick peek into a couple other exhibits and we continued our walk. We missed many of the municipal waterfalls but even so, beautiful parks, some great old historic buildings and statuary. They have a posh shopping district for those who enjoy shopping as entertainment. Not for me. In that area, Jim and I agree. I have to have my art fix once in awhile, but Jim can definitely live without ever seeing another Escher, or bus, or parking meter.
We drove out to the famous Washington Park Rose garden. A wrong turn brought us on a delightful drive to the top of the city. I enjoyed the view, anyway. I'm kind of chuckling here, unfairly, because Jim does all the driving and it is frustrating not to know where you are, even temporarily
The garden of roses is so much more than roses but, that's another blog.
For more photos of Portland, check the link:

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Thursday was hot at 88 degrees and we decided to spend the time sitting in the shade of this beautiful park and read and swim and stay cool. That is, I swim. Jim doesn't go in the pool.
As the day got warmer, I decided I didn't want to cook and I'd seen a sign for Katharines Kountry Kitchen in the little town of Ethel. Let's go.

We drove to Ethel; there are no population signs, because its a blink-and-you'll-miss-it sorta place. We saw a post office, a few crumbling unpainted buildings, Morton's Country Store, Burgers at Kelly's Kountry Kafe. Kind of a nondescript burger shack with NO appeal. And then...a church...and then...we were well on the other side of blink and still no restaurant. "It must have been on your side and we missed it," I declared. So we drove back through and still no Katharines Kountry Kitchen.
Jim believes I imagined the place.
I remember the a in Katharine, the unusual spelling.
Let's ask. (Another male hang-up worse than running out of toilet paper, they never ask for directions or where something is.) I bounce into Mortons Country Store, buy the toilet paper, and ole' Mort tells me,"there is a Katharines Kountry Kitchen in Onalaska. A very good restaurant. You must have seen it there. But, Kelly's Burgers is open. He makes a great burger."
Jim and I don't eat beef normally, but we do eat a burger once in awhile. I wanted a real, sit down restaurant with a tablecloth.
Jim's reply? "We haven't even been to Onalaska. How could you have seen it?"
I couldn't explain it. Onalaska is just a blink over the hill. We must have been there. How could I have known Katharines Kountry Kitchen even existed?
"You couldn't possibly have seen it, we haven't been there?" he insisted. "The three K' must have gotten mixed up."
A whole restaurant, missing in action. I think the heat is getting to him. He even went in the pool with me, only the second time on this trip. Hmmmm!


Friday, August 21, 2009


At Blaine Harbor, earlier this month, I ran into this sculpture of a seahorse made from horseshoes. That clever choice of materials garnered my admiration, but I had fallen in love with this piece the instant I saw it. I wanted to stay and drink it in but my partner only drinks Canadian Mist. We rushed off and I didn't even get the name of the artist.
Returning from Mt. St. Helens brought us past a Sculpture Garden filled with immense and some not so immense, creations, 3 miles east of Elbe on State Route 706. It was late in the day and a hard sell, but Jim found the brakes and I wandered in amazement. Here was Dan Klennert's work en masse. A picture of the seahorse is on his brochure. His gallery is open May through October. His sculpture garden, Ex-Hilo, (latin for something made out of nothing) is open all year. Dan says: "Cleanse your mind and soul...take a stroll through my imagination."
Yesterday's signal wouldn't allow me to load the 34 pictures I took. The early riser gets the bandwidth. Click on the link below to see them.
Just as an aside, while struggling with the signal in the library and recalcitrant washing machines here at Paradise Park, I met a young wanna-be-Stephen King and I failed to get his email. This young man is really talented and I hope he will contact me via this blog and leave me a contact because we are all going to hear more of him in the future.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I know a lot about men. I should, I was married to one for 40 years. I've got five brothers, two sons, assorted sons and brothers-in-law, a new partner... I'm somewhat of an expert. I'll let you in on a little secret, men all share a common terror, RUNNING OUT OF TOILET PAPER.
How is it that the so called stronger sex gets positively shaky when it comes to toilet paper?
My sister one time confessed to me that her husband bought toilet paper every time he went into a store whether it was needed or not-'just in case." Not until the packages had taken over his tool space in the garage did he finally get the point, temporarily, anyway.
As for Jim and I, we live in a relatively confined space and one of the things you learn about living on the road, you can't 'stock-up shop' like you do at home. So, what's the problem?. We're not on the Gobi Desert
Shucks, there is a store in just about every two-bit haven we travel through and, in fact, there is a little store carrying most essentials in almost every campground or park we stay in. Here at Paradise we can see the store from our motor home window, its a one minute walk away, but does that matter? Run out of TP and the heavens are going to collide and some horrible force of evil will occupy your waking life forever! Now, you have surely guessed, this is MY FAULT, even though we make out our shopping list and shop together.
My belly aches from laughing, but Jim is only reluctantly smiling. He really can't see what is SOOOOO funny.
Alas. Life on the road carries its little inconveniences, you can manage without beer, meat, fruit, lettuce, shampoo... but God forbid we should ever run out of toilet paper.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Mt. Rainier is the highest volcano in the Cascades, part of a ring of fire that circles the Pacific Ocean, stretching from the Aleutians, West coast of North and South America, Antarctica, Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan. Its last eruption was the early 1800's.
Mt. Rainier was the 5th National Park by edict from Congress in 1899. It is unique in that the park planners chose to make the roads flow with the views and beauty of the park, rather than take the shortest, least expensive route to get from point A to point B.
What joy this scenic drive up the mountain, passing a bright orange Kautz Creek, deep canyon falls and the remaining wreckage from torrential rains in 2006 that left the river bed full of glacial flour, huge trees tumbled like matchsticks with boulders tangled in a deepened river bed. Rain in 36 hours flooded roads, created rock and mud slides and challenged the rangers to repair the damage in one year so that 2 and 1/2 million people each year can enjoy the unique beauty of this park.
With a dubious signal, I felt lucky to upload the above photos of a glacier and one view of Mt. Rainier. The link below has more photos:

P.S. Diane corrected my picture in Watermelon Snow-Not a moose, its an elk or a deer. Thanks Diane

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Mt. St. Helens is 1300 feet shorter than she was in 1980 before being cracked by an earthquake that created a horizontal blast of millions of tons of debris, ash and hot singing winds. Mt. St. Helens is 29 years into recovery.
The eruption began with a debris avalanche that buried 14 miles of river valley to an average depth of 150 feet.
The blast killed trees up to 17 miles north of the volcano.
A vertical ash eruption rose to a height of 15 miles above the crater and spewed for 9 hours.
Fiery flows of pumice, hot gasses, cement like slurries and boulders moved into the valley north of the crater.
It changed forever the landscape and the importance of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
The area around Mt. St. Helens was a veritable moonscape of flattened dead trees, eerily all fallen in one direction. Trees beyond that perimeter were scorched to death and many of those dead won't give up their hold and stand today as monster spars.

In 1982, congress made the area a monument to study the geologic affects of the volcano for education and provide the public access to the area. There are 200 hiking trails, new lakes, an interpretive trail telling the tale as you drive the road to the last overlook at Windy Ridge. A non-profit institute also works to provide visitors with information and recreational opportunities.
With beautiful weather, 84 degrees, we followed the interpretive trail for stunning views of the landscape of recovery.
At Spirit Lake, log jams 600 feet deep are still visible.
A rusted car where one miner died is still on the trail.
This is a must visit for anyone traveling in this area. 150 new lakes were formed by the volcano's eruption. There are 200 hiking trails for visitors. The U.S. Study has had many areas replanted and some are left to recoop without assistance and the comparisons are stark. The wildflowers and small plants have made a beautiful comeback on their own everywhere. The monster spars have a beauty of their own.

My partner, Jim visited Mt. St. Helens in 1985 when recovery was 5 years young and has eleven pictures showing the process of recovery at an earlier time to compare with pictures from our visit yesterday at Signal is difficult and my 16 pictures wouldn't load into an album.
It defies reason why one computer will load photos and another won't when sitting side by side. Electronics. Who can understand them?

Monday, August 17, 2009


Its tough trying to do a travel blog without a steady signal. I've alluded to the fact that some places we stay provide a good signal, other places do not. Even when the signal is good, if it rains, or mists, or if a tree is in the way, we struggle. I didn't plan on spending three or four hours at this each morning and I'm pleading for help! Someone, out there, invent a gizmo to solve my problem, please?
Now, I know you'll tell me that I can buy a little card from Verizon or AT&T for $60 a month that will give me a signal, if I'm within cell phone range. Between Jim and I that is $120 a month while we are on the road, IF we get a cell phone signal, which we don't always have. Especially AT&T. My phone often doesn't connect when we are in the mountains and other interesting places off the beaten path. Verizon is somewhat better.
But the real reason I don't want to spend the money for the card is that I already pay over $65 a month to AT&T for a land line that I've had for 35 years that I can't use while I'm on the road. Then when I'm home, I have no use for my $60 a month card. That is usury.
I wonder, does AT&T pay to spread their lines across this fair land? I know I have to pay distribution fees. How much of my fees does the U.S. Government get from my phone bill? Why doesn't the bill reflect the fact that I'm not using it? I'd like to know quite how that works.
I remember when they broke up Ma Bell, we learned that it didn't cost the company any more to provide us with a long distance call than a local call, yet long distance was prohibitively expensive. When the phone company monopoly was disassembled, phone service changed dramatically, in some ways for the better. Basically these companies just print money, just like cable companies. So, lets get rid of monopolistic greedy practices, oh techno wizard, and rescue me from AT&T.
You can tell I'm on a rant.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


It may not seem like paradise, but that is the name of the park/resort near the town of Silver Creek, Washington, which is our gateway to Mt. St. Helens.
Yesterday was a rainy day, today is misty and chilly and the internet signal is slow. We won't get to the mountain until tomorrow, but the park has so many amenities, tennis courts, two swimming pools, hot tub, horseshoes, a library/computer center, kayaking, fishing, pool and table tennis, an arcade for the teens, an activity/crafts center for all. Here the rangers prepare an ice cream social, pancake breakfast on Saturday plus weekend entertainment of some kind. It isn't unusual to have barbeque and s'mores offered. The rangers tote closed fireplaces to campsites on request when they ban burning in the fire rings. The kids around here are biking, skateboarding and in general having a great time. Paradise is pretty apt for a vacationing family.
For that matter, living in Washington can be a paradise considering some lesser places. Its a great state.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Our rainy day drive to the North Cascades National Park brought us to the visitors center at Newhalem.
Repeating myself, I'm in awe of the wonderful parks in the State of Washington, probably because I'm from California where our underfunded STATE parks are beginning to look bruised and abused with volunteer docents and no money for materials. Of course, this is a National Park and the interpretive displays are stellar. We decided not to take the river loop hike given the unpredictable weather and no rain gear. I cheated and took pictures of some of the displays instead. I'd heard of pink snow while visiting Alaska, but never watermelon snow. It is a phenomena of snow algae that attracts a worm. The above photo shows a bird feeding on the worms. Some worms and bugs are blown up hill out of their own element and supply food for birds. Isn't science wonderful?
This is a copy of a photo of a deer drinking in the river. I wish I could credit the original photographer, but, in any case, it comes from the displays.
This is a mock up of perpendicular glaciers on the steeps of the Cascades showing the hoof prints of a mountain goat.
Closeup of a gnarled tree, stunted by the wind and thin soil of high elevations. The photo exhibits were wonderful, but the highlight of the center was a 25 minute film about the Cascades and its inhabitants. It emphasized the closeness of the native peoples to the land; their life in harmony with nature; the beauty and grandeur of the mountains and the animals, birds and plants that call it home.
The Cascades are so steep and remote it is one place with less footprint by modern man than others. In fact, the grizzly and wolves are being re-introduced to the Cascades with some notable success. Salmon were naturally blocked on the upper Skagit and the dams here did not affect them as much as in other rivers.
During Chief Seattle's time, life revolved around the Eagle, Grizzly, Wolves, Owls and Salmon. The native people respected their animals, the storms, the seasons, the plants, in such a way they are indelibly stamped with the spirt of them for all time.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Wet, wind, and light rain didn't deter us as we drove up Highway 20 following the Skagit River. Our goal was The Gorge Creek Falls, Diablo Lake Overlook and Ross Dam Overlook.
We reached the Gorge powerhouse and electrical distribution field at Gorge Dam first, and were curious about a walking bridge across the river to the powerhouse. The powerhouse was built in 1919.

Across the walking suspension bridge, we found what remains of a once beautiful garden alongside the powerhouse in view of Ladder Creek Falls. This fall was a spectacle and as we followed the trails, up, and up and up it became more beautiful. After 153 steps, I quit counting the stairs, and continued on as the falls became a ladder of fall after fall. The gardens and pools and little water wheels and viewing benches are now awaiting reconstruction. Built in 1929 the townspeople would come out during the evening for a lovely walk along lighted pathways with music floating above the cheerful rush of water. We promised ourselves to return and see the changes that are coming.
The trails wind you around to the inside of the powerhouse with a short history of the place in pictures-self guided. It supplies 8,750 homes with electricity from the 880 foot dam.

We drove on to Gorge Creek Falls then Diablo Lake Dam and Overlook. The wind and rain had increased substantially and formed beautiful swirling clouds and mists against the ragged cascade spears. As we ascended, every couple hundred feet was evidence of falls that once flushed melt water into the Skagit. Dry, now, even the Gorge Creek Falls was a trickle of its former flow in winter.

At Diablo Overlook, the river curls and swirls around small islands. Turquoise waters and evergreens framed the view and took our breath away.

We decided to skip Ross Overlook and headed back to Concrete where we stopped for a hamburger at Hubs before going home. For more pictures click the link:

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Give me a hawker, a couple of pitchman, outrageous junk food, a horse with blue eyes, a black and white Holstein cow, people with silly hats, grandma and grandpa and a bunch of kids having fun, ahh, that's it. A gathering of people having fun. A fair is different things to different people.
Small country fairs are my favorites. They have all the usual elements, the smell of excited animals mixed with onions and fries cooking non-stop. Cotton candy and barbeque smells fill the air. Exhibits of fine work, photography, crafts, vegetables and canned goods, cookies and cakes all lovingly prepared.
From personal experience I know the work the kids put into their animals, sanding and painting their hooves, washing and grooming them, shaving tails and primping manes.
Then, the sounds of the fair from cowbells, the pitchmen, the grinding rides whooshing through the air, kids squealing in terror and delight; a bawling calf, and a recalcitrant mewling ewe. I like it all.

The little girl above couldn't have weighed 57 pounds yet she was busily loading horse stalls with clean sawdust. I took four more pictures of her in action. They are on my link along with a bunch of others:

The Moonraker was chopping clouds and smashing screaming kids against a wall of gravity, much to their delight.

These young friends took a break, one using a convenient warm seat unlike any other.

People will buy silly stuff they have no real use for just because its fair time. What the heck?

In the old days, the carnival had a freak show. This handsome dude looked wary through his beautiful blue eyes. Not a freak, just an albino.
This was the first day of the fair. A rodeo is scheduled and many other events over the next few days. This fair had an Elvis Impersonator. This is 2009, what would we do without an Elvis Impersonator?
Yes, fairs are different things to different people, be it grandpa savoring an old tractor or a little girl peeking through the fence, but always fun. Check my link above for more photos.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Why name a town Concrete? That was my first thought when we moved the motor home here. But, I guess if you have two massive cement plants, one on each side of the highway, concrete defines your life.
As towns go, it isn't very big or important-its a "has been." The cement plants are long gone. Even so, I'm positive the locals would take umbrage with that statement. Home is where the heart is, and the residents are close and communal. The police station sports a mural with this positive statement: Center Of The Known Universe. Concrete could probably qualify for having the largest town sign in the U.S.?

Jims friend's, Paul and Barbara Parthlow, were once managers of the Leisure Time Resort at Grandy Creek where we are parked. Paul sponsored Jim into the Eagles, so his home airie is Concrete, which was organized and chartered in 1906. He never fails to stop in and have a beer when in the area. The Eagles building is one of the historic buildings in Concrete. Nine other historic buildings are still in use about town.

The Henry Thompson Bridge, when built in 1916, was the longest single span concrete bridge in the world. It was the only bridge across the Skagit River until Highway 20 was rerouted around Concrete. Its graceful arch still stands as a unique jewel today.

The lower Baker dam at 293 feet was at one time the highest hydroelectric dam in the world. It backs up Lake Shannon and is still an imposing structure, long past any records for size.

The northern part of town was once known as Minnehaha, later changed to Baker in 1878. In 1905, a settlement across the Baker River cropped up around the "new" Washington Portland Cement Company and was named "Cement City". After the Superior Portland Cement Company plant was built in Baker in 1908, it was decided to merge the two towns. Inhabitants of the new community settled on the name "Concrete" in 1909, and the town now has an uptown (North) and a downtown (South). Population here is 795 people.

People here like their little town of Concrete even if business isn't exactly booming. The guy who owns the River View Trading Post, doesn't exactly have a river view, but he dominates a major corner at a major intersection in town. There is something to be said for that. He had a great saw blade I wanted to buy, but I couldn't figure out how to get it home.