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.