A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Prairie Campground

I found this free campground that was high in altitude (not hot), had shade (not hot),

next to the confluence of two rushing mountain streams (drowns out nearby highway noise),

no other campers nearby (nothing need be said on that point) and best of all no
mosquitoes!  How can that be?  The only thing missing was a cell signal so
I couldn't post to the blog.

Once I parked I let Beans out on her camp lead and she immediately caught
a bird under the RV.  The scuffle moved out to where I could see that she
had a fledgling robin.  The poor bird never had a chance.  I got them
separated and the robin half flew and half hopped away.  I put Beans
inside and then went and caught the bird and relocated it some distance
away.  It had one feather out of alignment but otherwise was okay.  The
next morning I saw the bird again near camp (dumb bird!) and it flew off up into
the tree so it seems to be getting this flying thing down.

Nearby there was this bridge which I didn't think was safe to even just
walk across.  There are large logs beneath all the plywood but I think the
logs and bridge have just about had it and the locals are trying to
salvage it in some countrified manner.  No thanks!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Should I or Should I Not?

We were driving through some pretty remote areas, places that have towns many many miles in between them.   My dilemma was whether to get fuel in the only small town in a 50 mile radius and pay high prices or take a chance on making to the next big town 67 miles away.  I felt I could make it but not knowing how much climbing there was ahead of us, I made the decision (a good one for a change) and got fuel in the little town.  I didn't need any added excitement in my day like watching the fuel gauge rapidly fall.  The price was around 30 or 40 cents more per gallon.  I paid for not planning ahead.  When we arrived I learned the power was out in the entire valley so we all just stood around for an hour.   Fine if you are not in a hurry to be anywhere and I am not.

Back on our way I stopped for a scenic view.

Then I noticed along the fence line what appeared to be an apology that didn't go well.

Looks like she through the flowers out the window and drove away even madder.

Further on another scenic turnout.

Good thing I filled up when I did for it was a long hard pull up this grade
and I would be in a nervous sweat at the River of No Return.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Battle Won

In the afternoon I finally screwed up the courage to take Beans for a walk and give this new mosquito repellent I bought a test.  I don't particularly care for the smell or feel of products with DEET in them and saw some good reviews for Sawyer's Picaridin online so I picked up a can.  With hat, long pants and a long sleeve white shirt on we stepped outside.  The swarm came instantly.  It took me a minute to overcome my natural repulsion of them flying around my face but when I realized they were not landing on my skin I relaxed some.  This stuff really works!  It is so nice to buy a product these days that actually does what it's makers claim it will do.  Poor Beans though, they were flying all around her head and she kept twitching her ears but I don't think any got through her thick coat.  So I am very happy with this Picaridin stuff and will now be able to enjoy the outdoors a little more than before.  Oh, and no smell or icky feel to it either.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Decisions Need to be Made

This may be the last post for awhile unless I can make a decision as where to go. 

  One place got pretty warm and poor Beans spent most of her time up on the top of the slide-out
which is bare metal.  That is her moving blanket that she usually lies on.

We had to leave this area as it was too warm.
So cute! 

I try to find cool places to camp which means going up in altitude.
If I kind find shade to camp in that helps, 
if not then later in the day when the sun goes down she wants to go outside.

I've learned she does not like to be in the direct sun as she gets pretty hot with her dark fur.
On the other hand, I watched a ground squirrel come right directly towards me in camp not knowing Beans was lying right there in the shade, she was so well camouflaged with the pattern of her fur.
The squirrel had no idea and barely escaped her attack.

At another camp I woke in the morning seeing this chicory making repeated trips to and fro from the RV.  Look what the little varmint did in the engine compartment!

He or she had got into the hood sound proofing, pulled it out and had stashed it all on top of the window washer tank and from there was transferring it out to his of her house in repeated trips.  
I stuffed it back in, taped up all the possible entry points and moved away from that camp.

If it isn't the heat or the raiding rodents then there is always the mosquitoes I can count on to make conditions undesirable.  Where we are as I write up this post I am virtually a prisoner inside the RV.  It is impossible to go outside without being attacked by a battalion of those little buggers in a matter of seconds.   Of course Beans doesn't understand why I won't take her for a walk.  Through the fog of mosquitoes at the window screen I can see another RV from Canada in the distance and no one has stepped outside in hours.  But it is cooler here and we have a bit of shade which I keep moving the RV around a tree to be in so we've got that going for us.

And when I say decisions I mean GOOD decisions.
I already have a long list of poor and bad decisions going.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Along the Lower Salmon River

Near us was an Osprey nest.  
She did not like for me to stand outside trying to get a photo

and would leave the nest circling out over the river

then back over her nest

which would agitate the blackbirds who constantly dive-bombed her while she flew around.

Finally she gave up and landed back in the nest. 
While eating dinner I missed the male mating with her.

Then about 15 feet from the side door there was a Killdeer nest in the grass. 

So between Beans and I we were pretty much making the local birds pretty nervous and we left early the next morning and had breakfast a couple miles up the road.
This sculpture was created from junk and trash collected downstream on the Salmon.

Too bad a busy background makes if difficult to see the details but I think you can see the fisherman.

I didn't catch the Indian with the bow until I started to walk away.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Lind and Beyond

We left Odessa and headed south towards some camp areas along the Snake River.  This is the little town of Lind, the first little town I leisurely drove through that day. Few if any businesses appeared to still be in operation although they were closed. Most all of the buildings were boarded up, out of business, empty, abandoned or were being used for storage by their owner. Lind was the largest of a half a dozen little towns I drove through and seemed the hardest hit. Kahlotus, Washtucna, Hooper, Pampa (I must have blinked my eye because I never saw Pampa), LaCrosse (this one was on a side spur for the main highway and showed more life than the others) and Dusty (well named) all looked to be on life support.  I should have stood in the middle of the street to get this photo so both sides full of vacant buildings would be visible.  There surely was no chance of my being hit by a car; nothing moved in this town. No people were out, not even a dog or cat did I see.

I stopped at their lovely little park, the only thing of life in Lind.  There was a heart felt dedication plaque along with this large metal sculpture, erected some years ago by the residents expressing the love of their little town and wanting to preserve it's history and heritage.  They knew of the two brothers who founded the town and platted the land in 1888 giving names to the streets that started with each letter from their last name, Neilson, but the town didn't quite grow enough to use the final "n". No one knows why they named the town Lind and they were sorry that they would never know.

No doubt if you are a local you will find this park bench very comfortable.

Ever try to get a cat to pose for a picture? Finally she got wrapped around the pole and laid down.  I wish I had stepped to the side and got the park in the background instead of a empty building.

Now this would be something to see, combines getting a good threshing.

I had bad directions to the proposed camps along the Snake and after going half way of the 15 miles in on a dirt road I was facing signs stating "End of County Maintained Road" (it got visably rough from then on) and "Road Closed Ahead - No Trespassing".  So now I was in a funk, tired and with nowhere to go as I drove out from there. Back on the highway we soon came upon these hills.  
A bright spot in an otherwise dismal day.

A half hour later I saw this sign and it was good.

It just felt nice to be out of the State of Washington and Back in the USSR. (Beatles song)
There is no real proof that the town changed its name in 1875 
from Paradise Valley to Moscow in reference to the capitol of Russia.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Odessa, Washington

We spent two nights at this little town in east central Washington. It was settled largely by German Russians (or Russian Germans) and was named after the town of Odessa in the Ukraine. 
 The current population is 1000 give or take.

I took a walk downtown, all two blocks of it.  There was one grocery store, two eateries, a coffee "haus", two gas stations one of which out of business, two banks, one dentist, one health care service, one hair salon, a hardware store, two lawyers and a "town marshal".  Now when have you last seen or heard of a town marshal?  A couple streets over I discovered what was the only hotel which is now a private residence.  Long ago if you stepped off the train in Odesssa for whatever reason you would, you didn't have too far to walk to your accommodations.  I saw a house for sale nearby and realized there was no real estate office in town.  No motels either.  Imagine that.

Despite its smallness Odessa had an impressive modern school complex, a nine hole golf course and an aqua center.  Few small towns can boast that.  There even was a museum open on Sundays from 
1-3.  Too bad it wasn't Sunday as I am sure the museum caretaker would have been thrilled to see me step through the front door.

Each year the town hosts their Odessa Deutschesfest with several thousand visitors arriving from all over the world to experience a traditional German festival.  There are lots of German food and beer to be had along with some good old polka music, and a long list of games and events.   I'm not sure if this has anything to do with Deutschesfest but it was the only unusual item I spotted downtown.
An accordion would be more fitting.
(Where do they put up all those people with no motels or hotels?  Nearby towns there aren't any.)

 So you might ask what brought me to Odessa where we stayed for two days.  They provided a place for tourist camping free of charge at their nice little city park.  I have come across a few of these community offered tourist camping places in my travels, mostly in the mid-west with Texas having probably the most some of which even include free electricity and water hook-ups.  More small towns really ought to do this sort of thing for travelers bring with them lots of money...
except for this one.

Now you could stay here, a small town city park for a couple of days couldn't you?

As you can imagine I saw all there was to see in Odessa in no time at all, so what did I do to pass the time away.  For one I watched the trains.  We were only 50 yards away from the train tracks and I could see them roll by right out my window.  In a 12 hour period 18 trains rolled through with only 3 of them being at night so they were not a bother and besides, I like trains.  It was those darn doves in the trees overhead with their incessant cuckoo-coo that was annoying.

Now here is something I learned.  One of the trains was all tanker cars.  I noticed on the sides of the cars they had TCBX, UTLX or TILX followed by a number.  I was curious as to what the letters meant and got online.  Well! Not only did I learn what the letters stood for but I discovered there is a site where people track railroad cars by their numbers, take a photo of the car and log it in on the site as to the date, time and location that car was spotted!  That left me shaking my head for a awhile wondering why?   I'm sure there is some sort of satisfaction in seeing a railroad car you spotted in your town later on be discovered clear across the country by someone else such as yourself who has nothing else to do but track down train cars, but for me I don't see it.  Oh well, I am sure there are less exciting hobbies one can have.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Grand Coulee Dam

I don't know how anyone who has not seen this before could possibly drive by without stopping.  It was awe inspiring.  The roaring sound of the water going over the spillway was wonderful.  The wind was whippin'.  The air was wet but not the kind of wet that you felt, just sensed.

I walked down to as close as one could get for another photo.  
It was louder and more impressive.

There wasn't anything to really give you a sense of how big the dam was.  It is over a mile long at 5,223 feet, stands 550 feet high and contains 11,975,521 cubic yards of concrete. That is enough concrete to build a sidewalk four feet wide and four inches thick around the equator...twice.  Who figures out these things anyway?  Finally I spotted employee's cars parked on the other side.
In the gap close to the water.

They give tours of the dam every couple of hours.  I thought that would be neat to do.  Then as I walked around the near empty visitor's center I overheard they had 90 people on the current tour.  It suddenly didn't sound like such a neat thing to do.  I could imagine all the hub-bub going on within the crowd and I not being able to hear what was being said.  I suppose I could plug in my headphones, listen to George Frideric Handel's Water Music and marvel at the machinery.  Here I captured the two tour buses crossing over the dam which gives another perspective as to the size.

A strange thing occurred while standing there watching and listening to all that water cascade down the spillway, I didn't have the sudden urge to go pee.  Facilities were there just in case.  I went inside and flushed a toilet just to see what kind of water pressure it had.  Normal.

Off to the left was this array of lights for a laser light show that would be given at 10pm.  That too would be neat to see but that's past my bedtime.  Oh but we live in the age of the Internet and YouTube.  Sure enough a few videos of the Grand Coulee Dam Laser Light Show are there. 
I think I may have been disappointed had I stayed up for it.

On the upstream side of the dam is Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake. You know me, my first thought was "Has anyone ever gone over that?"  Well really that was my second thought.  My first one when I first saw that wide sheet of water on the other side was that looked like it would be fun to slide down on. Anyway, back to the Internet.  Seems that the only deaths at Grand Coulee Dam were of those who built it.  77 workmen died in the construction, and four more died decades later in the building of the third powerhouse.

Yep, looking at the precipice up close gives you the willies.

These exceedingly large rodents were in the picnic area. They looked like ground squirrels but three times as big.  Almost big as a Thanksgiving turkey.  Must be all the junk food the tourists feed them.