A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Collier State Park, Oregon

One day I decided to ride the bicycle over to neighboring Collier State Park.  At only 1.3 miles I felt confident I could do that without the probability of having to call in an EVAC.

The path was level and flat but did have a few obstacles to overcome.
Trail maintenance isn't a high priority here.

Almost there.
The line separating State Park land from Forest Service land.

As I had mentioned in an earlier post Collier was COVID-19 closed.  No one was here except a park host and maintenance worker.  Tooling around an empty campground is a surreal experience.  I once had the opportunity to do so in Yosemite Valley when it had been evacuated due to nearby forest fires raging on.  I remember thinking to myself I will never see something like this again in Yosemite.

I have camped here before.  It was August 8, 1974.  How do I know?  
Richard M. Nixon resigned the presidency while we were on vacation here at Collier.
Notice the camp fees.  I wrote before how camping fees are your largest expense besides fuel purchases when living full time on the road.  But when you are a vacationer having only a few weeks out of the year to enjoy the great outdoors it is of no real concern.

Here you can see the long line of pine needles that had been raked up for the maintenance worker to scoop up with his skip loader and dump in the back of the large truck nearby.  There were so rows of pine needles that the truck would have been filled up dozens of times before the park was ready to open which I felt the State was planning to do so soon.  It's a tremendous loss in revenue to keep these parks shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A sterile campsite waiting for it's first camper. 
It is nature people, deal with it pine needles and all.

I made it back to our pine needle littered Forest Service campsite without an issue other than receiving my first mosquito bite of the season.  
Okay, that's one aspect of nature I'm not willing to deal with.


Friday, May 29, 2020

A Walk to the Williamson River

The next day I took a short walk to the river. 
 It was very peaceful and quiet here.  
All that was to be heard was birdsong.
No bugs either.

Okay, this just didn't seem right.
Why not an antenna out of the dorsal fin?

Woodland pinedrop.
This was a first for me.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Paying Money to Sleep

I had a Forest Service campground picked out a hundred miles away from our Memorial Day camp.  Online it showed to be open.  My only concern was an available campsite.  This campground bordered Oregon's Collier State Park.  As I approached the turnoff for both the state park campground had a CLOSED sign, another victim of the COVID-19 shut down.  Now I was really concerned thinking all those travelers counting on Collier to camp at will now flock to Williamson River.  I was astounded to see the campground empty except for one camper and the camp host. Whew!

There were nineteen sites to choose from and I took number 19 as it had the most sun for two reasons: the solar panels and to be warm.

The last time I stayed in a campground with designated sites I had to pay for was back on October 3, 2018.  That's how to save money.  Besides buying fuel, paying money for camping is the biggest expense of living on the road.  The fee is $10 a night but having a Senior Pass card for National Parks and such I get half off.  I'd stay more often in campgrounds like this if it weren't for the threat of barking dogs, screaming kids and annoying generators.  With the pandemic going on maybe these campgrounds will be more inviting for Beans and I.   

Wow, I haven't had my own table in I don't know how long.
Thanks Dad.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Memorial Day Camp

This camp turned out to be one of the best ever to have during a holiday weekend.  Normally I have to plan well in advance as to where we will hunker down for a holiday weekend avoiding the mayhem as much as possible.  Here there were no attractions (water, hiking, etc.) and no real campground.  Very few cars passed by and none except a couple stayed for a night somewhere out of sight.  Yet with this COVID-19 lock down its hard to say if this weekend, the accepted start of summer vacationing, ever really amounted to much as is usual for Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day weekends. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Bicycle Ride

Things got off to a good start. Getting the bicycle down and put together took only minutes, much better than when I had the other bicycle with me.  It then got even better as just a quarter mile down the road I came across this beauty.  This is the "grab shot".  When you see a critter get a picture right away for they may not want to hang around for a portrait.

Then I moved in real slow for a better photo.  
He wasn't too sure about me only moving inch by inch slowly himself.

Squatting there I allowed him to move closer and once he reached the bushes by the side of the road then he slithered in very quickly.  If I saw nothing else, the bike ride would be a success.

My goal was to make a big loop around following the train tracks part of the way but by the time I reached the trestle I was done. I crashed in the shade disappointed.  Normally I would have written disappointed in myself but I am working on that.  It was hot, I was wheezing and I felt it wasn't worth it to continue on.  I did the best I could while still being safe.  So it was okay to be disappointed but just that, not in myself.  

 I stood there in the shade, drank some water, ate an apple and marveled at the engineering that went into building this trestle.  Then thought about the men high up there bolting it all together.  Amazing.

It was only on the way back did I realize how steep of a grade I had been peddling up all that time.
That made me feel a bit better.  Not bad for a seventy-one year old man.
Nothing to be disappointed about.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Trash Walk

The first day I walked up the road a mile past the shooting gallery finding nothing of interest except a quarter and the fact that I made the right decision by not driving any further the previous afternoon.  The next day I walked a different road which turned out to be the dumping grounds for the locals.  Everything imaginable that you can't put into your trashcan at home was strewn along the dirt road. 
 I found this little koala bear clinging to a bush.  Beans had no interest in him. No catnip included. 
 I'll take him for a ride and leave him someplace else better.

So rather than showing you photos of piles of trash and garbage here is a pretty kitty and a pair of snow covered volcanoes.  Mt. Shasta, the fifth highest peak in California at 14,179 feet and its little sister Shastina at 12,330 feet are both classified as potentially active volcanoes.  
The experts think the last eruption was around 1250 AD. 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Which Way Do We Go?

Mt. Shasta

There are three ways to Oregon from where we were.  One route all the Forest Service campgrounds were "temporarily closed" so it showed on their websites. The other route had fewer Forest Service camps but they were at least open, a bit of a drive off road and with the oncoming Memorial Day weekend mayhem they just didn't seem promising. I went to bed that night resigning myself to continue north on Interstate 5 towards Medford playing it safe with rest stops, truck stops and vacant lots.  The next morning I changed my mind and went with Highway 97 to Klamath Falls the closed campground route.  On the way my freecampsite app directed me onto a Forest Service road just outside of Weed, Ca.  The coordinates led me to the local shooting gallery. 

The road looked rougher further on so I went back 
and backed into a small level spot and called it good.

The view out my window.  And its free.

The top photo is the view from my side door.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Any Old Port Will Do

Before taking off the next morning from the rest stop I put on the new bike cover and was able to drop off the old torn one in the dumpster nearby.

We traveled north stopping at a Walmart in Anderson.  Very few people wear masks in Butte and Shasta counties whereas at the house in Sonoma County we left behind it is mandatory.  All the Walmart employees had on masks most likely required by the management.  Some had them pulled down below the nose.  Most likely they would not wear one if not required.  At least they had the freedom to wear a mask of their own choosing some being a bandanna as I wore.  I suspect only 10% of the shoppers wore masks.  I saw a young mother (no mask) carrying a eight week old baby girl.  How do you protect a newborn from the virus?  I think she shouldn't bring her baby out from the protection of her home. 

Miles later I pulled off the interstate onto a winding narrow road down to an inlet on Lake Shasta.  It turned out to be a boat ramp parking area.  Not good and thought I could do better.  Back up out of there I discovered this spot.  This will do for the night.  Looks nice doesn't it?

You wouldn't know it was right at the entrance back onto the interstate.  But there was no traffic since it was a single lane one way road only for access to the highway.  It was a bit noisy due to the trucks climbing and descending the grade down below but it all quieted down for the night.  
No ear plugs needed. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

Back on the Road

We were under way at 12:15.  I made a stop at a pet store before leaving town to buy some hairball treatment for Beans, not me.  Then onto Highway 101 heading north.  Within the hour I noticed the bike cover flapping in the wind.  It finally gave way.  Fortunately I had bought a new one while at the house, I just thought this one would last a bit longer.  The harsh sunlight weakens the nylon fabric and I get about a year plus usage from a cover.  I wrapped a bungi cord around it and continued on.

My planned stop for the day was supposedly three and a half hour drive.  Ha!  By 4:30 we were still sixty miles away.  I had had enough and decided the first rest area would be good for the night.  Tired, having to go pee and wanting my cup of tea you can imagine my disappointment seeing this.

I drove on another twenty miles to the next rest area and got a nice spot at the end.  
It was now 5:15.  So much for the supposed three and a half hour drive.

Beans was tired and slept like this for an hour and a half.  
I'd have a stiff neck sleeping like that.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The COVID-19 Trip Advisor

Where to go and what route to take.  That is a usual quandary for me.  While checking out my Weather.com app one day I noticed the COVID-19 button in the lower right corner.  When clicking on that it brings up a map showing the reported coronavirus cases by counties all across the nation.

We are currently at the middle bottom of the map, the San Francisco Bay area.  See those white blank counties up through the right-hand side of California and then on into central Oregon?  Looks like a good place to be to me.  And so our route has been chosen for us, thank you COVID-19.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

We're Ready to Move On

I've accomplished a lot over the last three weeks and am ready to hit the road.  But now were sheltering under several days of rainy weather.  Ugh!  I need warmth and sunshine.  Later this week we'll get rolling.   I am considering making some changes in my usual method of traveling.  I'm still working out details then putting them into practice in the weeks to come.  It will be interesting to see how it goes and hopefully I come up with some better content for the blog in the process.

Meanwhile here is a photo I saw in an article, cats social distancing in the Philippines.
Beans, what are your doing in the Philippines?

Sunday, May 17, 2020

The Last 'Normal' Photo on Your Phone

An article came in on my news feed from the BBC where they asked for your last 'normal' photo on your phone before the world went haywire and we all began social distancing.  Hundreds responded sending in their photos.  This intrigued me so I went back and looked through my photos to see what I had.  I had to dig a little finding one preferably with people in it as that would mean more.  What I learned?  I need to take more pictures with people in them.  Well in order to do that I need to be around people more.  Oh what a conundrum for me.  Anyway, here is my contribution. 

The Grand Canyon from September last year.  Look how happy and carefree everyone is and no masks!  It is doubtful I/we shall ever see a scene like this again for a very long time to come.
What is in your phone?


Saturday, May 16, 2020

More RV Maintenance

Recording on my chart the oil change I noticed the air and fuel filters were due for a change.  No better time than now.  I placed an order online from my supplier in San Diego.  Not even thirty minutes had passed since I had pushed the Paypal button on the order than I received an email from Europarts: Your Order Has Been Shipped.  Egads!  The poor guy must not have anything else to do being locked down in his shop during this CORVID-19 debacle.

I had to wait a couple of days for the rain to stop and give me some dry time out front.
I miss the warm dry desert.

I removed the cover to the large air filter and was very surprised to find this.

      I really had hoped he was the rat that had caused me all those problems back at Camp Quarantine
                            but that guy is now minus his tail and here you can see a tail.

It was just a plain old house mouse, dried and mummified. 

 I picked him up by the tail and he was stiff as a board with no weight.  
I must have picked him up early last year.

I thought about it some and there was no reason he couldn't back out and leave the way he came in unless he was there when I started up the engine and the intake of air was too great for him to crawl back against.  What do you think?

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Oil Change

Being at the house provided a good opportunity to change the oil in the RV.  It was time to do so right at 130,000 miles.  The last time I changed the oil we were in an empty forest service campground in Missouri.  I had bought a oil catch basin from Walmart along with ten quarts of oil.  Try as I did to be careful I still had a major oil spill on the asphalt pad I was parked on.  I had neglected to pop open the vent hole on the new basin so when the oil poured out of the motor it pooled up and overflowed the sides.  I was very upset about this needless to say.  I mopped up the mess the best I could then covered the stain with dirt and leaves.  I suspect it isn't even visible now.  This time I vowed to be really careful. I didn't want a Valdez oil spill in front of the house. I had changed the oil in front of the house before with no issues but the Missouri disaster was still heavy on my mind.  With cardboard down, an oil drip pan on that, a new Walmart oil basin, a check to make sure it was level and a double check that the vent cap was popped up, I pulled the plug.  Perfect! Not a drop spilled.  
Take your time, think things out beforehand and all should go well...most of the time.

Thursday, May 14, 2020


That is what it is called when you are parked at a house camping.  Technically I should be hooked up to electricity with an extension cord and have a garden hose screwed in on the side to really be moochdocking.  Since I'm not doing either maybe I'm just a squatter.

I'm earning my keep though by digging holes for plants, erecting bird houses, hanging plants, checking downspouts, replacing sprinkler heads, setting up yard art and a bunch of other fix-it jobs around the house along with building a rock wall.

For all of this I am being fed well.  I haven't eaten this good in a long time.

The view out the back.

The golf course just reopened for play this weekend after over a month of shutdown.

The view from the dining room.  The 14th tee.

In case you were wondering, Beans is having a ball running around the house.  When I first adopted her three years ago she had spent only five days in the house before we took off on the road.  Last year we stopped by here at this time and she seemed to remember.  This time there was no doubt.  I set her down on the floor and she was very comfortable walking off doing a quick check of each room then taking off hauling ass around the house literally jumping up bouncing off the walls.
But after awhile she's ready to go back out to her home she knows best.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Bike Ride in the Old Neighborhood

I rode over to one of the recreational centers where in back is this small fishing pond for the residents.  It is purely catch and release.  I stood there for awhile reminiscing of all the times I hiked back in behind the pond to one of a couple secret entrances to the State Park in the distance.  
There are forty miles of trails in the park.  I have fond memories of hiking them all.

The center, one of three all of which have pools.  They've been converted to salt water pools since I've been away.  Due to the pandemic they are closed for now of course.

This sign on the gate is something new.  
All I can say is 

Pondering this I think I'd rather swim with the fish in the pond 
except there's no swimming allowed in the pond.