February 7, 2020 Portland OR

The drive home was easy.  It was clear and relatively warm until I got to the pass over the Cascades where I was met with clouds and rain  to remind me I was home.  My trip thru the Great Basin, Sonoran, and a little bit of the Mojave Deserts was great.  The total trip was 3300 miles, but it is generally low stress driving as the roads are good, and the traffic is remarkably light.  The highlight was Organ Pipe National Monument.  It merits another trip in the future.

We will be taking a break until late March when we are off for our spring trip to Europe.

February 6, 2020 Burns OR

Today I made like a commercial truck driver and focused on miles and not fun.  I covered a little over 600 miles in 10 hours.  It was made easier by driving a route I really enjoy.  I love the quiet roads and expansive views of the Great Basin.  For me it really is low stress driving for me.

I was still on the road for sunset and the Great Basin rewarded me with a great desert sunset.

Sunset behind Steens Mountain.

January 19, 2020 Burns OR

We realized that Scout has been lonely in the driveway and has not moved in nearly a year.  This is definitely not good for a RV so we were looking for an opportunity to take a trip before we take our spring trip to Europe.  Ton has a much more active social life than I do and she was having a hard time freeing up time, and she is also not a fan of cold weather camping.  On the other hand I had time on my hands and was going a little stir crazy at home so we made a decision for me to take Scout out on a trip by myself, this means the pictures are not going to be as good.  I do not have an agenda besides getting out of the gloom of Oregon and finding some sun.  The initial thought is to head towards Arizona.

Today was about getting over the mountains before the next storm runs thru and makes crossing over the passes difficult.  Ton and I spent the last couple of days stocking up Scout for the trip.  She was even nice enough to cook some of my favorite meals so I can microwave them.  So I was ready to make an early start as the best stop for the first night was Burns which is about 330 miles.  Last year we took a different route home thru central Nevada and it was really beautiful, so I decided to head south that way and this long drive would get me in position to do it.

The weather was clear and pretty warm on the west side of the mountains, but as I climbed up the temperature began to fall until it reached freezing and a there were a couple of accidents.  One of the accidents involved two cars and was pretty serious.  Some people get careless and try to drive too fast.  One fool even tried to pass two snow plows that were spreading cinders until the guy in the plow made it clear that was not going to happen. Between the accidents and the snow plows the trip over the passes took a while.

Detroit Lake Reservoir had been drained in preparation to receive the spring snow melt. It made for an eerie picture.

Once I descended down the weather was good and the skies were clear.  Eastern Oregon was its’ rugged and remote finest for the last three hours of the trip.  I love the emptiness of the high desert.  Last winter the campground we usually stay at  was closed when we went thru here and we ended up in a hotel.  This year I checked and their website indicated they were open, and sure enough they were.  So all ends well today and I hope my longest drive is behind me.

Mt. Bachelor and the Three Sisters were out today once I crossed over the mountains.

November 19, 2019 Portland OR

While our last trip home was an adventure and merited some story telling.  This trip was without any drama thanks to Delta Airlines.  That is how you want a trip to end.

Ton got this shot of the Canadian Rockies from the plane.

This completes our fourth trip to Europe using a RV.  They have been all been memorable, but we really enjoyed this trip tremendously.  We were more nervous about Italy than we had been on our previous trips, and those nerves turned out to be unfounded.

The best thing about Italy turned out to be Italians.  They were a kind, helpful, and generally fun group to be around.  The food was tremendous both at restaurants and what we bought from groceries and Ton prepared in François.  The sites were everything we had read about and exceeded our expectations.  

We are hoping for a swift recovery for Venice from the recent floods.

We did travel a little differently than we have in other countries, sticking to campgrounds and using the Autostradas between cities.  We used campgrounds early on due to security concerns that had been expressed to us by other travelers.  But by the end Ton expressed to me that she liked staying at campgrounds better than less expensive but more rugged options, this may be a result of our aging.  The decision to pay to use the Autostradas was due to the nature of the Italian road system and while relatively expensive it saved in stress and time.

One of Ton’s favorite pictures from Italy.  It really captures the spirit of the country.

Rome was the biggest city we have ever visited in François, but I was surprised how easy it went.  The campground was very accessible from the freeways, and the transport into the city center, and the public transport downtown were easy to use.  I enjoyed Rome much more than I thought I would.  I also really enjoyed Sicily as it had a rugged beauty and charm that I enjoyed.  Ton could not pick a favorite place but she picked three similar places, she really liked the coastal towns picking Taormina, Cinq Terre, and the Amalfi Coast as her three favorites so there is a definite pattern in her choices.  I did not expect to like Venice as I had visions of a place crawling with tourists and tourist traps.  But in the off season it was not terribly busy, and it is charming so the appeal is obvious.  Right after we visited they experienced extreme flooding so I hope they can recover and come up with a plan to preserve the city in the long run.  Our biggest disappointment for the trip was Monaco.  I think we expected something more in line with Nice or Sanremo, but instead it felt sterile and lacked charm for us.

Another of her favorites.

We covered about 5000km’s on this trip.  François performed well and gave us no issues.  We are really happy we added the screen door as it made a big difference in warm weather.  The SOG unit worked well though Ton with her super sense of smell did occasionally get an unpleasant odor still.  Overall one of our best trips.

January 30, 2019 Portland OR

A pretty easy day after yesterdays marathon drive.  We woke up a little later, had breakfast, and except for a pit stop in Costco we had a pretty uneventful trip.  Our only problem was getting rid of our waste water.  There was a rest area near Burns that had a dump facility, but when we got there the valve to release the gray water was frozen so we could not dump there.  As we drove west we stopped at every possible place along the route, until we finally got rid of the water near home.  It probably added an hour to our trip.

The Three Sisters in the Cascade Mountains.

January 29, 2019 Burns OR

Today we drove across the great basin of the US.  The great basin is an old inland sea that covers most of Nevada and Utah, and parts of California and Oregon.  Ton and I have always enjoyed the area.  To give you an idea of how remote and varied this area is we drove 600 miles and the largest town we passed thru was Winnemuca Nevada which has a population of 7500 people.  Generally it is about 100 miles between towns, and in between towns there is very little to see but mountains and deserts.  We started the trip at 200 feet below sea level in Death Valley, and reached an altitude of just over 7000 feet near Austin Nevada.  We drove a ridiculous distance today, but really enjoyed ourselves.

We woke up early as we had both fell asleep very early the night before.  Since we were up we decided to head on out.  We hit the home button on the GPS and it told us it was 896 miles to home following the quickest route.  We usually pick a place we are heading for but today we decided to just follow the GPS and to find a place to park for the night when we ran out of steam.  

A desert scene near Death Valley.

Everything was going as we expected following highway 95, when we drive to Las Vegas we follow US95 from Reno to there so we knew this route, but in Tonopah the GPS told us to turn off 95 and follow US6 instead.  We decided what the heck and followed her directions.  She had us turn onto Nevada 376 which had us a little worried, but the road looked good so we decided to go ahead.  It turned into a fun decision.  We found the kind of road we love, heading thru wide open country with high mountains on either side.  Towns were few and far between.  Near the town of Round Mountain, we came across an immense gold mine which ran for about 8 miles along the road.

This picture looks like an impressionist painting, but Ton took it with her iPhone.

Eventually we came to US50 which we followed for about 30 miles to Nevada 305, another wide open road thru a valley called Antelope Valley for about 120 miles.  The highlite was another mine which was even bigger than the one at Round Mountain, but we think was for Copper.  At the town of Battle Mountain we joined I-80 for about 50 miles before turning north on US97.  We followed US 97 to the Nevada/Oregon border and at that point had about 480 miles under our belt.  We talked about parking up there, but we were on a roll and decided to keep going.

Ton is very proud of this picture, though it looks like a black and white picture it is color.

The last 120 miles were on US97 and OR78 was actually the most remote part of the road yet.  For an 80 mile stretch the only man made structures we saw were a Road Maintenance station and a military radar site.  When we rolled into Burns it was dark, and the RV park we had stayed in previously in the winter is now closed for the season. We had to scramble for a place to stay, but it was worth it.

Another Impressionist picture from the trip.

January 16, 2019 Klamath Falls OR

We almost did not make this trip.  Ton has been battling a rash that is making her very uncomfortable, she decided to push thru.  Then the day before we were going to start, right after we completed loading Scout for the trip, Ron’s back went out.  We decided to push down to Klamath Falls and see if we felt like continuing south.  The drive was pretty easy though we did run into some unexpected snow coming over the cascade mountains.

Surprise mountain snowstorm.

To make it a little easier on both of us we decided to use some of our hotel points for the first night to allow for a little easier access to the bathroom and the bed.  Somehow it feels like cheating on Scout.

August 22-23, 2018 Long Drive NV/OR

There is not much to write about these two days.  We did our best imitation of long distance truckers covering about 970 miles in two days.  We did our normal route from Vegas to Reno and saw a few of the vehicles heading towards Burning Man in northern Nevada.

The next day we covered the ground home mostly on the east side of the Sierra Nevada/Cascade mountains.  The smoke from the multiple wildfires was very dense in places and reminded of our drive last year going to Alaska.  At one point we passed within about a mile of a 38,000 acre wildfire in Northern California and could actually see some flames on the hillside as well as a couple of fire trucks attacking the fire.

This is the end of the trip that we dubbed “Urban Camping”.  This time we used scout primarily as a substitute for a hotel room (except in Las Vegas).  While we did not see our normal sites we did get to visit with our Son’s and some best friends, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

August 9, 2018 Canyonville OR

It has been awhile since our last trip.  We spent most of June and July working on getting the house ready for our travels and getting the paperwork done on purchasing François for our future trips to Europe.  Needing a break we decided on a short trip to see some friends in San Jose and to visit our two sons.

Today we left late as we waited for the mail to arrive with Ron’s birth certificate.  It turns out we need to provide a copy of his birth certificate as US passports do not show what town you were born in and that is very important in France.  We will see if the birth certificate will do the trick, the problem is that it is hand written and whoever wrote it did not have very good handwriting.  We will see if it is acceptable to the administrator in France.

By the time we got on the road it was nearing evening rush hour so we did not cover as much ground as we hoped.  Around 7pm we decided to camp up in a nice campground next to a casino.  The lady informed us we would get a 10% discount if we purchased a player’s club card so we were off to the casino to get a card.  With the card we got a free spin of the wheel and Ron won a $10 discount on food, so we ate some bad casino food.

October 4-5, 2018 Paris FR

Our travel day to France was nicely unremarkable.  The airline of choice was Alaska and American using points Ron accumulated from work.  We made the decision to spend the first day near the airport in Paris to recover from the 16 hours of flying.  The immigration and customs process was the easiest we have ever had entering a country, there was no paperwork to fill out on the plane.  When we landed there was only two people ahead of us in immigration, and after we collected our bags we found ourselves in the main terminal without so much as an encounter with a customs agent.  

After landing we made it over to the airport Quality Inn where our king bed was really two singles pushed together,  we settled in for naps. Later we had a delicious kebab dinner in the little village near our hotel. This is one of my favorite travel stories as there is nothing to talk about.

February 14, Coos Bay OR

The final day of “Good Brew Hunting” had us dealing with some disappointment.  The first two breweries we had planned to visit were not going to open until 4 pm which was too late if we were going to get home at a reasonable hour.

We did visit 7 Devils Brewing in Coos Bay.  We enjoyed their IPA a great deal.  This is another first class facility.  The owner is an artist and has done a class job of decorating the place.

Ton liked the painting of Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy.

We had planned to make Yachats brewing the last stop for the day.  The beautiful weather we had been having had finally broken and we had more typical Oregon Coast weather, a mixture of sun and rain.  The drive from Florence to Yachats is really spectacular and we enjoyed the views.  When we got to Yachats we found the brewery closed despite their website saying they were open, there was a note on the door reflecting limited winter hours that was not on their website.  

At this point we punched home into the navigator.  As we were driving thru Newport we came to a seafood place we had always talked about stopping at, so we did.  We split a Captains Platter of fish, shrimp, scallops, and oysters.  After our late lunch we headed to the house.

The “Good Brew Hunting” trip was now over with 11 breweries visited in three states.  Ron’s favorite brewery was Arch Rock and his favorite beer was the lager from Arch Rock.  Ton’s favorite brewery was Anderson Valley with Arch Rock a close second, and her favorite beer was also from Anderson Valley their Brother Davids Triple.  

A rainbow as we were pulling into the neighborhood.

The “Good Brew Hunting” tour was a total of 3818 miles over 20 days and Scout averaged 13.26 mpg.  One thing we have noticed that with the heavier tires we put on in Alaska we are averaging almost 1 mpg less, but I think it is worth it for the extra weight capacity.

February 13, 2018 Bandon OR

Our last day in California on this trip was magnificent from a weather point of view.  The skies were blue and it was relatively warm at about 60 degrees.  The views going up the coast were spectacular.

The coast line of Northern California and Oregon are wild and spectacular.

Todays drive though was not about views but about brews.  Let me say that on these beer tasting days we are very careful to only have a small tasting of tray of 4 or 5 shot sized glasses.  I do not want anyone to think we are overindulging.  Todays first stop was at Arch Rock Brewing in Gold Beach.  This was by far the smallest brewery we visited.  The tasting room was an alcove inside the door of the warehouse.  In addition to tasting the beer we were able to observe a business meeting between the owner/brewer and some suppliers.  The beer was truly terrific, particularly their porter and lager.

We continued north to Bandon which is one of the cutest towns on the coast.  A brewery had opened there in the last year.  The facility is really nice and the beer was good.  They were a little optimistic and had the garage door open to the outside seating.  But with a light jacket it was fun to pretend like it was summer.

Bandon Brewing.

Ron was still fighting the effects of the flu so we decided to stay in Bandon for the night.  Our campsite is at Bullards Beach State Park near the ocean in Bandon.

Scout and Ron at the park.

January 28, 2018 Reno NV

Today was a driving day as we decided to get serious about chasing warmer temperatures.  The drive was long, but very easy as there is almost no traffic on the whole route.  When we left we were surrounded by snow for the first two hours.  The beginning of the trip was along Oregon State Highway 31 which is one of Ron’s favorite roads.  It goes from LaPine to Lakeview, and is really remote and very scenic in a stark way.

After Lakeview you enter California and have to pass thru the state agricultural inspection station. After our experience losing our apples crossing into Canada,  Ton was worried about losing our oranges so she had prepared by peeling the oranges and hiding them in the cabinet.  Ron was sworn to commit perjury and swear we only had apples and bananas on board. All of this was for nothing because when we arrived at the inspection station it was closed. 

We are parked up for the night in a casino campground in Reno.  We stop here most of the time when heading south.  We may be looking at alternatives after this stop as the area around the casino is deteriorating and the maintenance of the campground is neglected.

January 27, 2018 Bend OR

Today was a small scale pub crawl thru Bend.  After a little shopping in the morning we visited three breweries.  Monkless Brewing is one of our favorites in Bend.  It is a relatively new brewery, but we really enjoy their beer.  The second Brewery was a new one for us called Immersion Brewing.  It was also very good though it had a tough time following Monkless.  We ended the night at the original Cascade Lakes Brewery this time in Redmond.  Ton wanted to see the Civil War Basketball game between Oregon State and the University of Oregon.  We reprised our favorite beers from last night and while the game was really sloppy the right team won so all is well.

January 26, 2018 Bend OR

We are off on a short trip south.  The first stop is to see our son Dylan to say Happy Birthday.  When we got up to leave a trip of the road status showed 17 inches of new snow on the passes over the mountains to Bend.  As  a result we decided to take a longer route that would keep us out of the snow.  

We found ourselves unexpectedly in the Columbia gorge and coming into Bend from the north.  We have talked about the gorge quite often so I won’t say much today.  It was mostly dry and thankfully we ran into no snow.

We met Dylan for dinner at Cascade Lakes Brewing.  The food was ok, good pub food, and their IPA’s were exceptional.  

For the night we are in a camp ground at the fairgrounds expecting 2” of snow and 29 degrees.  Ron is looking forward to getting somewhere warm.

January 19, 2020 Burns OR

We realized that Scout has been lonely in the driveway and has not moved in nearly a year.  This is definitely not good for a RV so we were looking for an opportunity to take a trip before we take our spring trip to Europe.  Ton has a much more active social life than I do and she was having a hard time freeing up time, and she is also not a fan of cold weather camping.  On the other hand I had time on my hands and was going a little stir crazy at home so we made a decision for me to take Scout out on a trip by myself, this means the pictures are not going to be as good.  I do not have an agenda besides getting out of the gloom of Oregon and finding some sun.  The initial thought is to head towards Arizona.

Today was about getting over the mountains before the next storm runs thru and makes crossing over the passes difficult.  Ton and I spent the last couple of days stocking up Scout for the trip.  She was even nice enough to cook some of my favorite meals so I can microwave them.  So I was ready to make an early start as the best stop for the first night was Burns which is about 330 miles.  Last year we took a different route home thru central Nevada and it was really beautiful, so I decided to head south that way and this long drive would get me in position to do it.

The weather was clear and pretty warm on the west side of the mountains, but as I climbed up the temperature began to fall until it reached freezing and a there were a couple of accidents.  One of the accidents involved two cars and was pretty serious.  Some people get careless and try to drive too fast.  One fool even tried to pass two snow plows that were spreading cinders until the guy in the plow made it clear that was not going to happen. Between the accidents and the snow plows the trip over the passes took a while.

Detroit Lake Reservoir had been drained in preparation to receive the spring snow melt. It made for an eerie picture.

Once I descended down the weather was good and the skies were clear.  Eastern Oregon was its’ rugged and remote finest for the last three hours of the trip.  I love the emptiness of the high desert.  Last winter the campground we usually stay at  was closed when we went thru here and we ended up in a hotel.  This year I checked and their website indicated they were open, and sure enough they were.  So all ends well today and I hope my longest drive is behind me.

Mt. Bachelor and the Three Sisters were out today once I crossed over the mountains.

January 16, 2019 Klamath Falls OR

We almost did not make this trip.  Ton has been battling a rash that is making her very uncomfortable, she decided to push thru.  Then the day before we were going to start, right after we completed loading Scout for the trip, Ron’s back went out.  We decided to push down to Klamath Falls and see if we felt like continuing south.  The drive was pretty easy though we did run into some unexpected snow coming over the cascade mountains.

Some unforecast snow on Willamette Pass.

To make it a little easier on both of us we decided to use some of our hotel points for the first night to allow for a little easier access to the bathroom and the bed.  Somehow it feels like cheating on Scout.

February 14, 2018 Bandon OR

The final day of “Good Brew Hunting” had us dealing with some disappointment.  The first two breweries we had planned to visit were not going to open until 4 pm which was too late if we were going to get home at a reasonable hour.

We did visit 7 Devils Brewing in Coos Bay.  We enjoyed their IPA a great deal.  This is another first class facility.  The owner is an artist and has done a first class job of decorating the place.

Ton liked the painting of Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy.

We had planned to make Yachats brewing the last stop for the day.  The beautiful weather we had been having had finally broken and we had more typical Oregon Coast weather, a mixture of sun and rain.  The drive from Florence to Yachats is really spectacular and we enjoyed the views.  When we got to Yachats we found the brewery closed despite their website saying they were open, there was a note on the door reflecting limited winter hours that was not reflected on their website.  

At this point we punched home into the navigator.  As we were driving thru Newport we came to a seafood place we had always talked about stopping at, so we did.  We split a Captains Platter of fish, shrimp, scallops, and oysters.  After our late lunch we headed to the house.

The “Good Brew Hunting” trip was now over with 11 breweries visited in three states.  Ron’s favorite brewery was Arch Rock and his favorite beer was the lager from Arch Rock from Anderson Valley.  Ton’s favorite brewery was Anderson Valley with Arch Rock a close second, and her favorite beer was Anderson Valley and her favorite beer was also from Anderson Valley their Brother Davids Triple.  

A rainbow as we were pulling into the neighborhood.

The “Good Brew Hunting” tour was a total of 3818 miles over 20 days and Scout averaged 13.26 mpg.  One thing we have noticed that with the heavier tires we put on in Alaska we are averaging almost 1 mpg less, but I think it is worth it for the extra weight capacity.

October 13, 2017 Pendleton OR

Today we started our trip in our rental RV which has been named Elephant for the trip.  It is a 30 ft Cruise America Rental RV.  It is certainly a different driving experience than Scout, much wider and also slower to turn.  

Joining us on the trip this time are three of Ton’s best friends from Thailand.  They are three sisters Jeap, Noi, and Dang.  This will be their first time traveling in an RV so it should be an interesting experience for them.

We left early expecting a slow start with Portland traffic, but got a lucky surprise and shot out of Portland pretty much without slowing down.  As we left Portland we ran into the after effects of the major fire which had burned in the Columbia River Gorge for a significant part of August and September.  It has left quite a mark, and roads and parks in the gorge are still closed due to the after effects.

For the day we made stops in Hood River at a nice orchard, and walked around downtown Pendleton.  The girls enjoyed the cowboy town and the turn of the 20th century architecture in Pendleton. We also stopped at the Pendleton Woolen Mills which is one of the landmarks of Pendleton.

Double rainbow in the Columbia River Gorge.

Tonight we are staying at Emigrant Ridge State Park where it apparently snowed seven inches last night.  The camp host assured us that things were going to return to normal, even though it was flurrying when he told us this.  We are going to give the Cruise America heater a good test tonight.

August 3, 2016 Burns OR

We had decided to drive the Owyhee National Scenic Backcountry Byway.  On the way we were running out of steam and decided to stop for the night in Burns.  Ton had heard that an old friend of ours sometimes spent time in Burns so when we checked into the park we asked for Gary, and not only was he there, he was about 4 spots down from us.  We spent the evening catching up with Gary, it was nice to see an old friend and we were glad to see he was doing well.

Along the drive today we stopped for a quick walk in the Cascades.

Gary gave us some of his home roasted coffee, and it was awesome.  Ton has a new idea to try when we get home.