Sunday, December 30, 2018

Duck Trifecta

In this photo of six ducks we have three sets of couples representing three different species! In the front are a male and female Green-wing Teal, in the middle a male and female American Wigeon, and in the back a male and female Northern Pintail. This photo was taken at Fairview Wetlands yesterday. The complete list and photos can be seen here.

For bird photos I use the Nikon Coolpix P900 with the amazing x83 zoom.  This shot was at such a distance I had no idea of what kind of ducks I was photographing.  Immediately after taking the photo I knew I had a collection of birds, but it wasn't until I down-loaded the photos into my laptop that I was aware that I had three separate species in the one photo. Jeanette had already counted a good number of Green-winged Teals and Northern Pintails, but it wasn't until taking this photo I realized that we also had two American Wigeons.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Winter Survival

Hairy Woodpecker

Yesterday marked the official first day of Winter, and I'm happy to recognize that we are coping quite well.  As opposed to many years in the past two decades when we have escaped South for the winter, we have come to the decision this year to stay put in Oregon.  It's a decision that we came to gradually as our calendar continued to fill up with appointments and activities.  Anxiety with long distance we would travel played a big part too. In the end it seemed the easiest and perhaps wisest to stay home.  We are feeling it is working out for the best.  The latest confirmation is the event of cataract surgery for me, which will keep us occupied into February. 

It's been a record dry and warm fall in Oregon, so it's been easy for us to get in daily dog/bird walks, and occasional short trips in our camper van provide us with some sense of adventure. Birding continues to occupy center stage, and the pursuit of bird lists and photos brightens our days and truly is one of the keys to happiness and winter survival. One of the volunteer responsibilities I have is at the Salem Audubon Nature Reserve where this photo of a male Hairy Woodpecker was taken on Wednesday.  Hairy Woodpeckers are year around residents here in the Willamette Valley, and today I am reflecting on how they survive winter.  I strikes me that winter is not much of a problem for them.  Their food supply is just a few pecks away, never covered entirely by snow, or washed away by floods, a safe pantry locked up and waiting.  We're really not that different, our cupboards and shelves are stocked with food stuffs, and stores are close by.  I think we will survive just fine. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Seeking Sunshine & Birds

We are back home in West Salem following our fun week at the coast.  We are feeling a little let down weather wise after the mild temps and sunshine we experienced.  This morning, pinned in with cold fog, by chance I looked at Trip Check and noticed that South Salem had bright sunshine. We piled into the car, noticing the temperature was 37 and drove to Fairview Drive Wetlands which is out south by the airport.  Here the world was 46 and bright sun shine. We got in a good bird walk which netted us this handsome male American Kestrel. You can see the list here. So, when people ask if we are going south this winter, we will say yes, down to Fairview Drive Wetlands.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Ferry Road Park

Yesterday morning as we were on our way to go birding at Bluebill Lake I noticed a park off to the right just at the foot of the McCullough Memorial Bridge that crosses over Coos Bay. After birding at Bluebill we returned to explore this park called Ferry Road Park.  It looks like it gets a lot of use as a play ground and a park to walk dogs, but we looked at it through the lens of birding, and were surprised at its great potential, to the point that I have recommend it to e-Bird as a Hot Spot.  Besides the playground and picnic area at the parking lot, there are some nice walking trails, and most important  from a birders view point access to the bay. Below are two birds I photograph while there.

 Western Grebe

Spotted Sandpiper 

This stop capped our three day stay in the North Bend/Coos Bay area, which has been filled with birding past favorite birding locations and adding new locations. We spent a good amount of time at Ferry Road Park yesterday, resting, having lunch, birding, and computer work. In late afternoon we traveled on north on 101 to William Tugman State Park for our overnight parking spot.  The parking area in the Day Use Area at the boat ramp is recognized as a State Rest Area and overnight parking is allowed.  We have known about this for a couple of years, and now we can say we have stayed here.  This was our fourth night out on this trip and our camping fees were a total of zero!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

North Bend/Coos Bay

Jeanette at Mingus Park

We spent yesterday hanging around North Bend and Coos Bay enjoying a glorious full day of sunshine. We had spent a quiet night parked in the Pony Village parking lot.  In fact we parked next to a Christmas Tree lot.  The owner came over to strike up a conversation with us and admire our Roadtrek Zion.  His parting words were, "If security gives you any problem, tell them your working for me."

Not having to get on down the road, we had a leisurely morning; coffee, watched the morning news, and had breakfast.  By 10:00 we drove to the bank for some cash, Walmart for shopping, and a stop for propane.  The digital meter for propane in the van read empty, but the attendant couldn't get any propane in. After spewing enough propane out his loose connection to set off our propane alarm in the van, he pronounced it full and noted the gauge on the tank read full.  He decided he was going to charge me for 2 gallons of propane, but when he couldn't get his computerized cash register to work he waved me off. Next was lunch at Subway before driving to Mingus Park for some birding.

Mingus Park was a good choice.  The sun shone brightly, the ducks were plentiful, people strolled the walkways, and Buster got to meet lots of other dogs.  Everybody was in a good mood.  Below are a couple of the most striking ducks we saw.  For the complete list click here.

Eurasian Wigeon

Hooded Merganser

We left the busy park to spend the rest of the afternoon in the quiet parking lot of the North Bend Boardwalk. My time was used to work on photos and the bird list, Jeanette and Buster relaxed.  Cell service was puzzlingly poor, so we moved to our next planned early dinner spot, Captain's Choice Family Fish House.  Cell service was good there and I could download photos.  We enjoyed take-out fish and chips in the van and possibly the best clam chowder ever. For our night parking we returned to our guard job at the Christmas Tree lot for a second night.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

New Birding Spots and A New Life Bird

Jeanette at Hall Lake

Yesterday morning we continued on our way from our over-night spot at Three Rivers Casino in Florence.  Temperature was a cool 39 degrees, but that was 10 degrees warmer than the morning before in Salem.  Our first birding stop of the day was at Hall Lake, a small overlooked lake in the Siuslaw National Forest just across Hwy 101 from William Tugman State Park.  I had visited this lake some ten years ago while living in Elkton and searching for fishing destinations, but I had never stopped here to bird.  I had the hunch that it might be good for birds, and it turned out to be as our short stop here in the cold netted 14 species.  The bird list can be seen here. We next went over to the William Tugman State Park and enjoyed a sunny spot in the Day Use Area where did some more birding, had lunch, and relaxed and got caught up on bird photos and lists.  In mid afternoon we moved on South to the Coos Bay area.  Another new birding spot that I wanted to check out was the North Bend Boardwalk. Here we had the great good fortune of Jeanette discovering some busy little busy birds, which later I identified as Palm Warblers, classified as a "Rare" bird.  Perhaps even more important to us is it a new Life Bird for us.  For any non birders, that means a bird you identify for yourself for the very first time. Life Birds get harder to find the longer you bird , so they also get to be a bigger deal.

Palm Warbler 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Escaping Sub-Freezing Temps

The temperature was 29 degrees,when we pulled out of our drive-way in Salemtowne yesterday morning. Wallace Road had been sprayed with de-icer. Mid 20 degree temps are forecast this week for the Willamette Valley so we are hanging out at the coast for the week.  It looks like we will not be traveling to Arizona this winter, for a variety of reasons, so this is enacting our survival plan.  Anytime the temps are this cold we go to the coast where milder weather usually assures us a 10 degree or more advantage.

The above photo was taken late after-noon yesterday at the Three Rivers Casino in Florence.  Notice the sunshine and the empty parking lot!  This was our night parking spot and it was very quiet.  A short walk to the Blue Bill Sports Bar in the casino netted up a nice dinner. We will venture on to the Coos Bay area today to spend the next three days, where day time highs will be in the mid to high 50s and night time lows in the upper 30s. The forecast is also for dry weather, so we are also planing on some good birding everyday.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Spontaneity and Serendipity

On Friday evening Jeanette suggested that she would like to broaden our birding circle.  That is, instead of taking our daily bird walk just in the Salem area, take the van and go someplace further, like the Row River Nature Park in Cottage Grove.  Saturday morning we started packing and we were on our way before 9:00AM on four day spontaneous trip.

Cottage Grove -

Greater White-fronted Goose
One of our all-time favorites for birding and dog walking is the Row River Nature Park in Cottage Grove. It's a series of ponds that were dug out years ago for gravel for the I-5 construction. Our push to get here on Saturday was based on the forecast calling for rain on Sunday.  We made stops along the way at Adair Wildlife Area to bird, and Guarantee RV in Junction City to spend a gift card.  It was still dry when we arrived in Cottage Grove and we got in a great walk and bird list. There were 75 Canada Geese on one pond, but Jeanette was able to pick out this lone Greater White-fronted Goose. 

The Walmart in Cottage Grove no longer allows over-night parking, but Jeanette selected a quiet dead-end street in an industrial area for our overnight spot after picking up some carry out Thai food.  We had a great evening of watching the Ducks win a football game, eating Thai food and enjoying a quiet parking spot.

Siltcoos Recreation Area -

campsite at Lagoon Campground.
Sunday morning the weather forecast came true and we drove in rain from Cottage Grove over to Reedsport.  At that point the rain had passed and we stopped at Stables Road on the Smith River to bird.  This is another of our favorites.  From there we traveled on to Carter Lake for another walk and bird list, and then just a short piece up the road to the Siltcoos National Recreation Area where we pulled in to the Lagoon Campground for the night, eleven dollars with a Senior Pass. Before leaving the next morning we did a bird walk on the Lagoon Loop Trail.
Lagoon Loop Trail

Waldport -

Monday morning we continued north on 101, starting with fog, then rain, then bright sunshine at Yachts where we stopped for lunch at Luna Sea.  After lunch we were a little uninspired and stopped in Waldport on a side street RV parking area.  Rain gave us a good excuse to fold out the bed and take a nap.  In late afternoon Buster was restless and wanted outside, so I stepped outside with him.  Now here is where the Serendipity part kicks in.  Directly across the street was a hiking trail sign!  We walked up the dirt road and discovered the John Mare Woodland Trail!

 Jeanette and Buster were still in the rest mode, but my curiosity was stoked, so I put on my boots and took off on a wonderful hike up this lovely trail.
Woodland Trail

Tuesday morning we pushed on up the coast and home, making stops at Depot Bay and the Van Duzer Rest Area.  Our Roadtrek Zion van is working out well for us to pick-up on a moments notice and head out, stop when ever we want, park for the night in a variety of situations, and live comfortably in all kinds of weather.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

A Rewarding Morning

Huddleston Pond

A good amount of rain was in the forecast to arrive midday yesterday, so continuing to work our "bright spot" plan we made a morning trip to Huddleston Pond in Willamina. I was hoping that recent rains would have brought in some winter migrants to the pond.  When we arrived, all was quiet, and we immediately began to think we were going to have to make a second choice of where to bird, but we started off on a loop of the pond.  The further we went the more birds we started to pick up, and by the end we had identified 22 species.  You can see the complete list here.  

The real story of the day is a rare bird we happen to get, a Black Scoter.  All Scoters; Surf, White-winged, and Black, are coastal and rarely seen in the Willamette Valley.  Jeanette is the spotter on our team and I'm the recorder/photographer.  She noticed an unusual bird with a lot of white swimming near a couple Pied-billed Grebes, and called to me to get a photo.  As I zoomed in the camera, I was unsure so took a number of photos.  As I looked at them later in the camera, I decided it was probably a female Ruddy Duck, a common bird to be seen arriving this time of year.  When I got home and down-loaded the photos to my lap-top, it didn't look right.  Searching through bird guides I began to think it was a female Black Scoter.  But as I looked at eBird records, none had ever been seen at Huddleston Pond, and very few have ever been seen in the Willamette Valley.  So, I retracted my Scoter idea and settled for a Ruddy Duck.

Late last night while reading "Oregon Bird New" on my iPhone I was surprised to see a birder reporting that a Black Scoter had been seen at Willamina Pond by Jim & Jeanette Scott!  Isaac Denzer, an amazing teen-age birder, had recognized my photo on eBird of a Ruddy Duck was actually a Black Scoter and reported it on Oregon Bird News.  It was confirmed on site by another birder, and then reconfirmed by veteran Yamhill birder Paul Sullivan.  Wow, a first time ever at that location! I gladly changed my Ruddy Duck to a Black Scoter.

female Black Scoter

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Looking for the Bright Spot

Fall is here and the infamous Oregon rain has returned. The weather forecast now calls for high percentages of rain every day.  This is when we put into place our survival plan of looking for the the bright spot. Many years ago when my passion was fly fishing I learned about waiting and looking for the magical time of the "hatch".  It's that time each day when the conditions are just right and the aquatic insects make a dash for the surface of lakes and streams to hatch into their next form.  Fish go on the feed, swallows can be seen even before the moment, swooping over the water in anticipation. It's the same notion, we have learned to look for the bright spot in each day to get out and do our dog/bird walk. Rarely does it rain continuously all day, almost without exception there is some point in the day when its dry and maybe even sunny. That's why it's important to anticipate when it will happen and be ready to take advantage of the moment.  We have had this experience the last few days,  desite lots of rain in the forecast we had breaks of glorious sunshine. Below are a few examples

Fairview Wetlands

We went to Fairview Wetlands on Sunday late morning.  Located in an industrial area, the paths are busy with workers taking a break on work days, so weekends are our preferred days. Despite early morning and late afternoon rain, we had a dry mid-day break. Here is the link to our bird list and photos. 

Adair Wildlife Area

Monday we drove down to Adair Wildlife Area to walk and bird.  We volunteered here a decade ago and love to return and seek out the variety of birds. We got a short break here of about 45 minutes between showers. Here is the link to our bird list and photos.

Luckiamute State Natural Area South
A second stop for the day was at Luckiamute State Natural Area South.  Here we got a long break in the weather with lots of sunshine.  Here is the link to the bird list. 

Our RoadTrek Zion is proving to be the perfect vehicle for our birding jaunts.  All the necessities readily at hand, clothing, restroom, food and shelter, we are ready for that bright spot.  This strikes me as an important approach to life its self, its import to look for the bright spot.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Sleeping Arangement 2.0

I wrote a blog on September 16th titled "New Designs and Improvements" that show-cased fixing up our twin bed set-up in our new-to-us 2017 Zion. (See here) We have continued to take shake down outings to make sure all systems work.  In fact we took four trips, 3 to the coast and 1 to south-central Oregon.  On each one, the twin beds where one of the unsolved issues. Still Jeanette has plowed on, and we now have Arrangement 2.0.

The floor plan on our Zion has a side mounted couch in the rear drivers side, which can be used as one of the twin beds.  But, it can be also be folded out and presto you have a small double bed.  As we began to work with this new bed arrangement, we realized the couch on the passenger side was kind of wasted space, but could work for storage.  Next was a trip to Lowe's where we bought and assembled this 8 bin storage module. By removing the seating cushion we had a nice solid platform to mount our storage module.  Storage is always an issue in class B vans, meaning there is never enough.  That issue is now also solved.

The main issue was the bed.  We gave the new double bed a trial run in our drive way last night.  A success! We both got a good nights sleep. We can now move forward with plans for California and Arizona.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Whte-breasted Nuthatch

I can recognize the call of a White-breasted Nuthatch almost instantly from years of watching and photographing them, yet nowadays I rarely take the time to actually find them.  I add them to my bird list and travel on, listening and looking for the next bird to count.

Today was an exception.  We were birding at the Fairview Drive Wetlands, and passing through some cottonwoods and maples I thought I heard a single call.  Without a repeat to verify its presence I hesitated to add it to my list.  On the return route, I heard it again, only this time it repeated.  I decided to stop and make an honest effort to find it.  I badly needed a photo to add to my list for the day.  I searched but did not have a clue.  I next resorted to my iPhone, and using an App played out its call.  Perhaps curiousity got the best of him, he suddenly came into view.  I grabbed my camera and got off one shot before it vanished around the back of a tall tree.

I was super excited because this wetland habitat was not where I would expect to find a White-breasted Nuthatch.  I count on finding them in oak trees in drier conditions.  I reflected that I didn't think I had seen them here at Fairview Wetlands before.  When I got home and added this photo to the bird list, I checked the eBird Hot Spot, and low and behold it has never been reported before at this location. So, not only was it a first for me, but a first for the location.  Here is a link for the bird list.

Thursday, October 4, 2018


Close observers of this blog are aware that our style of overnight stays has changed over time to almost an obsession with free locations. In the RV world it is some times referred to as stealth camping, dry camping, or boon docking. Basically we like to use places where we can park for free overnight.  It's not really camping, we don't build a fire, set up chairs, or have a barbecue.  We just have four wheels touching the ground.  We are completely self-contained. We don't need restrooms, electricity, or water. We are quiet, and in the morning we move on to our next adventure. We have used retail parking lots, rest areas, national forest lands, and - - - Sno-Parks.

Coming home on Tuesday over the Santiam Pass, we stopped to give Buster a break at the Maxwell Butte Sno-Park.  This is where the two sign photos were taken.  In years gone by Jeanette and I did a lot of Cross-Country Skiing, so we have experience with a good number of Sno-Parks for ski trips.   In our present more sedate life style of RV travel, we have used a number of Sno-Parks for overnight parking.  In the winter, Sno-Parks can be busy places with skiers, snow-mobiles and snow-plows coming and going.  But once the snow is gone, these parking lots are for the most part deserted, and stay so through out the summer. The winter season is on its way now and come November 1st a Sno-Park Parking Permit will be needed to use the parking lot.

If you are interested in exploring this more, here is a list of 19 Sno-Parks from the Destinations section of Cascade Ramblings.  Click here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Testing Trip

We have been having conflicting feelings in regard to a winter trip to the south land of California and Arizona.  There are lots of worries about our competence to travel with advancing age, Buster's new travel anxiety, and the Zion's ability to carry us for months on end. A call from our friend Glenn revealing his location, prompted us to make a rendezvous at Summer Lake.  A quick trip to test out all systems before a possible departure in a couple of weeks sounded like a great idea.

Greenwater Park Rest Area
We made a quick pack-up and left Salem Saturday afternoon, making our stop for the night just outside of Oakridge at Greenwater Park Rest Area. This is a great stop for those traveling Highway 58 over the Willamette Pass.  The Greenwater Park is also an eBird Hot Spot, so we always make a bird list when we stop. We had a quiet night, with good cell service, and antenna TV.

campsite on Anna River
Our meet-up spot for Sunday was the Summer Lake Rest Area, an all time favorite of ours. An in-route call from Glenn let us know that he had spent the night there and was now set up in a campsite in the Summer Lake National Wildlife Area.  After a stop at the Summer Lake Store for gas we traveled on to find Glenn in a nice area along the the Anna River.

Jeanette & Glenn
Camping with Glenn is always great fun and we enjoy birding together. In the afternoon he took us on a little driving route and we got in a great bird list, which you can see with photos here.

Site #22
Monday we stopped for breakfast at The Lodge at Summer Lake. Glenn headed for Eugene, and we traveled to Bend where we had at great lunch with my brother Mark and his wife Holly. In the afternoon we got as far as Sisters, and getting tired, we decided to try the Creekside Park Campground. This was a real delight.  There were lots of sites, the camp host was done for the season, but a friendly camper helped us with the registration process.  We selected site #22 which a large green grass area.  With the Senior Discount is was fifteen dollars for a no-hookup RV site.  The park also features free WiFi, dump station, freshwater fill, hot showers, and a dish washing station. And all this is with in walking distance to restaurants.

Tuesday morning we drove over the Santiam Pass and home to Salem, completing a four day three night test trip.  In review, the van performed well, climbing the passes with out effort. We traveled over 400 miles and we found the driving comfortable.  The kitchen arrangement still needs some tweaks. The sleeping arrangement has more adjustments to make. The Buster dog, well he needs more walks during the driving time.  We drove over 100 miles each day, our goal for our winter wandering is 50 miles, leaving more time everyday to walk and bird.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Meeting Stephany Smith

Jeanette & Stephany

This morning while Jeanette and I were birding and walking our dog Buster at Fairfiew Drive Wetlands we met a lady walking her dogs.  Here first question was "Are you Cascade Ramblings?" Well yes, how would you know? Her name is Stephany Smith and she met us a couple of years ago in Tuscon Arizona at Gilbert Ray County Park.  Here is a link to a post for some of our time there. As it turns out she is a regular reader of our blog, and completely unknown to us, has kept track of us and even knew that we had a new van.  Beside the obvious common interest in dogs, and possibly birds, she also has an RV, a Lazy Days.  After several questions concerning our Roadtrek Zion we gave her a tour.  She was particularly interesting in our Pico chairs that fold up into such a small space.

 Jeanette giving her spiel on Pico chairs

Sunday, September 16, 2018

New Designs and Improvements

Jeanette has been busy making new designs and improvements in our Roadtrek Zion.  This finished product in the above photo is some rear storage space.  First she designed and build a shelf made of slats, and then today on a trip to The Container Store in Tualatin we found these three perfect storage boxes. It is quiet a challenge, often daunting, to prepare such a small space as the van to live in for the winter months we plan on traveling around California and Arizona.

In the lower photo is our rear twin-bed set-up.  She has spent literally weeks working away selecting material and sewing to make a comfortable sleeping arrangement.  This project, finished earlier this week, includes two memory foam mats covered with removable slip covers and matching pillow slip covers.  This is actually a second design, the first she deemed a failure.  Luckly she forged on and came up with this beautiful finished set.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Recent Van Trips

I seem to have gotten behind in posting.  I guess in part because we have been so busy trying to get the van arranged to our liking. We have taken a couple of trips to the coast to escape the heat and test out the van. I'm going to post a collection of our two most recent trips   

Fort Yamhill State Heritage Site

On Tuesday August 28th we took off early in the morning for a one nice stay at the coast.  It was going to be in the high eighties in Salem.  Buster's impatience led us to make Buell County Park on Mill Creek our first stop. We had the park to ourselves and got in a good bird walk. Our second stop was at Fort Yamhill State Heritage Site, where we got in a second walk and made up a second bird list. Our third stop was on the Salmon River Estuary at Knight County Park.  Here we had lunch, rested in the shade and made up our third bird list of the day. In late afternoon we drove over Cascade Head to make our night parking at Neskowin Beach State Recreation Site and have dinner at the Hawk Creek Cafe, which for some unexplainable reason was closed! 

Knight County Park

Our second trip to the coast started on Tuesday September 4th.  Our first stop to accommodate Buster was the Riverview Park in Independence, and surprisingly again we had a great bird walk.  We continued on to Corvallis and over the coast range towards Newport, but turning at Toledo to stop at a favorite of ours, Paddle Park on Yaquina Bay. Here we spent some time relaxing at I used my mobile office set-up to catch-up our bird lists and photos. Leaving Paddle Park we drove along Yaquina Bay, and then over the Yaquina Bridge, stopping on the south end at a favorite fish place to purchase a shrimp salad and a crab salad for lunch which we stopped at the South Beach Day Use Area to enjoy. After lunch we continue south on Highway 101 to Walport, stopping at Governor Patterson Memorial State Recreation Site for a good walk on the beach and a bird list. Our night parking was back in Walport at an undisclosed location.

  Paddle Park

Our second day on this trip we headed north on Highway 101 making a stop at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area to park at a very scenic spot that we used two years ago and seems to be mostly overlooked.  Here we spent a good part of the day relaxing, taking short walks, having lunch, and catching up with computer time. Our dinner plan was to stop at Moe's in Otter Rock. Again we found a closed restaurant!  Checked out some spots at Depot Bay and elected to park for the night at Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint.  Leftovers for dinner and a glorious sunset. 

Yaquina Head view point

Sunset at Boiler Bay

Conclusion: Three days and two nights, zero for camp fees, 25 dollars for lunch, 50 dollars for gas. Great weather and scenery.  Biggest disappointment, the Girard On-demand water heater. Unbelievably impractical to the point we will probably be replacing.   

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Change in Weather and Routines

The oppressive smoke and heat that has plagued the whole state for weeks has finally changed to cooler more reasonable temperatures and clearer skies. And today started a change in routine with using our new van as a second vehicle.  It's smaller size lends itself to be parked in the drive way and be used on a daily basis. Today we started what may be a new routine. While Jeanette took the car to pickle ball, I took Buster to the near by Brush College City Park.  There are several advantages to this plan.  Buster is a real creature of habit, and because we have taken him on enough morning bird walks through the years that this is now his daily expected routine.  We find that every one's day goes best when Busters expectations are met. This morning worked out great, Buster got to leave the house on an adventure, we went to the park, I got to look for birds, and he got to check out the smells and squirrels. I'm also hoping taking him for a ride in the van everyday will help with his newly developed travel anxiety.  Below are some of the friends we met at the park this morning.

American Crows

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Trip in Review

Our maiden voyage in our Roadtrek Zion produced mixed results.  We enjoyed the cool weather of the coast and the van proved to be a handy vehicle to drive, park and live in for three days and nights.  The electrical system continued to impress us, we were able run the micro-wave, vent fan, lights, furnace, and charge my laptop and our phones, and by the last morning we even discovered we could also run our electric heater, all without being hooked up to electricity.

But we did have a few hiccups. The on-demand water heater did not produce any hot water.  Absence of manuals for not only the water heater, but the TV and DVD player lead to frustration. And then our dog Buster has developed an increasing anxiety while riding in a vehicle.

The bright spot for us was stopping at Waxmyrtle Campground on the Silcoos River to camp with our friend Glenn.  It's always a relaxing experience to spend time on the trails, and enjoy the great variety of wildlife in this bit of paradise in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.

 Glenn & Jeanette on the Lagoon Loop Trail

A male Wood Duck objects to our presence 

Saffron-winged Meadowhawk Dragonfly

Monday, August 20, 2018

First Adventure

This is our first night's parking spot at Boiler Bay State Wayside in our new-to-us Roadtrek Zion.  We left yesterday morning to escape the heat of the Willamette Valley for a few days to enjoy some cool temps along the Central Oregon Coast.  A combination of fog and smoke hide our ocean view here, but the cooler temperature makes up for it.

We picked up the Zion from Johnson RV in Sandy on Thursday, trading in our 2014 Leisure Travel Van for this 2017 Roadtrek Zion. There are a myriad of reasons we traded, but one big one that we are really enjoying is complete independence with electricity.  This starts with powerful long lasting 400 amp lithium batteries. The batteries are kept charged by 300 watts of solar panels, or a second engine driven alternator, A 2000 watt inverter changes the direct current of the batteries to alternating current which powers all our electrical needs including micro-wave and air-conditioning. In simple terms we do not have to hook up to what is called shore power to charge our batteries or run our appliances. In other words we do not need a campsite with hook-ups.

We will be meandering along the coast line, birding as we go, parking where we want, enjoying the temperatures and the views, with no dependency on campgrounds or hook-ups.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Oh What A Relief It Is!!!

We finally picked up our RV today, it's been in the body shop in Klamath Falls since our encounter with a deer on Highway 97 on June 28th.  We had no idea how dependent we were on the RV, and addicted we were to the freedom of the RV life style.  We are relieved beyond measure to have it back.

After receiving a call yesterday afternoon at home in Salem to let us know that our RV was finished, we rented a car and drove down to Klamath Falls this morning.  Our eyes we pealed to the side of the road as we drove down Highway 97.  No deer were seen, but there was evidence of at least 3 other impacts that had taken place recently.

We are set up this afternoon in the campground at Collier Memorial State Park,  where we are in site B-29, the only empty site when we got here shortly after lunch time.  With every mile we drive, and every system we use in getting camp set up our confidence continues to build, and the worry and concern fall away layer by layer.

Tomorrow we make a fresh start up the death corridor of Highway 97, and over the Willamette Pass to home.  Stay tuned for our next surprise.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Summer Beauties

Despite this being the dog days of summer and that forest trails are devoid of beautiful blossoming flowers,  there is still color to be found in fruiting berries.  This beautiful red berry is on a Hooker's Fairy Bell plant, one that I noticed this morning during a dog/bird walk at Darrow Bar, a Willamette Green Way Access Point, just a couple of miles north of where we live in Salemtowne. Hooker's Fairy Bell has another close look alike called Smith's Fair Lantern.  They are easy to tell apart when the flowers are in bloom, as the flowers on the Smith have long straight pedals, as opposed to the Hooker's have curved "hooker's hips." With the flowers long gone I was stumped as to which plant I had here and had to do more research. As is turns out, Hooker's has small hairs on the top and edges of the leaf and stem, only noticeable if you get an up close look. The berries of this Hooker's Fairy Bell are considered possibly poisonous, so it's best to just enjoy their beauty.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Discoveries New and Old

We choose to go to the coast on Monday after what I was sure was the mad house of Sunday.  It was a good decision and in part because we were in the car, not the motorhome, we discovered some new birding locations.

 Connie Hansen Garden Conservancy
I found this new location on eBirds Hot Spots, and it is a real gem, small but compact, and loaded with birds.  Amazingly this is tucked away in busy crowded Lincoln City. This is a must return. Here is our observation list complete with photos. 

 Rocky Creek State Park
Rocky Creek State Park in located on the south-side of Whale Cove.  Just installed this month is a new observation deck looking over Whale Cove.  It was a slow day for ocean birds in the cove, but we will be back.  A scope would be handy here. Be forewarned that this trail lacks signage and takes persistence to find the observation deck at this time.  I'm sure Oregon State Parks will improve the trail and post signs to direct people in the near future.

Depoe Bay City Park
Depoe Bay City Park is not actually new to us, we have been enjoying it for several years.  It too is hidden away and overlooked for the most part.  A wonderful trail follows up along the creek from Depoe Bay into thick coastal forest. The thing we discovered here is that when the afternoon winds pick up on the ocean, this is a great little protected escape. Here is the eBird Hot Spot.