Saturday, August 28, 2021

Marys Peak

Parking Lot on Marys Peak

Yesterday afternoon, David and LaVerne Knaupp, neighbors of ours, returned from a picnic on Mary's Peak. They showed us photos of some strange birds they saw. We recognized them right away as Gray-crowned Rosy Finches. With warm weather and temperatures in the upper 80's forecasted for Saturday, Jeanette came up with the idea  to escape from the heat of the valley and travel to Mary's Peak for some hiking and birding. And we would have an excuse to test out and enjoy another trip with our new Winnabego Pocket camping van.

Jim at the Trailhead for trail #1388

Shrimp salad for lunch

Jim likes the handy work station

Jeanette likes the comfy bed to relax on


Happiness is where two hearts align in the great out of doors, and a love shared in adventure. Jeanette and I have shared many adventures here on Mary's Peak over the years. Camping, hiking, and photographing wild flowers and birds. Today we were reminded that we are beyond grateful for our good fortune.    


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Maiden Voyage of the Pocket - Day 3

Early morning light at our campsite

We had an extremely quiet and peaceful night at our National Forest site near Calliope Crossing. The Truma furnace hummed along through the night.  We were quite cozy, but surprised when we drove away in the morning to notice that the outside temperature was 29 degrees!  We were so comfortable inside the van that we had no clue. Very impressed with the insulation and heating system in this new van. 

The first stop of the day was in Sisters, where we enjoyed our breakfast while parked at the City Park. Next was gas, and then on to Bi-Mart.  I spent computer time on the blog, and Jeanette shopped for little odds and ends. Our next stop was at Indian Ford Campground were we had lunch and then got in a good walk and some birding. Here is our bird list.

Jeanette spotting birds 

The green of the Quaking Aspen trees and towering Ponderosa Pines in this Indian Ford Creek location make for very pleasant birding.

Our trip home to Dallas in the afternoon was smooth and uneventful, over the Santiam Pass on Highway 20 and down into the smoke filled valley.  Several traffic stops along the route as work continues along the highway to remove timber from the devastating forest fires. The van was very comfortable to drive, we switched off driving duties. Overall we are happy to report that the van exceeded our expectations.  The unique floor plan is ingenious, giving a spacious feeling inside that belies the smallness of this short van. The electrical system of solar and batteries performed flawlessly, providing all the electricity that we needed to run the refrigerator, the furnace plus all the lights and charging phones and my laptop. A good indicator of our satisfaction is that while traveling home we were already making plans for our next trip.   

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Maiden Voyage of the Pocket - Day 2

Day two, August 23, began after a quite night's stay at Little Nash Sno-Park, and a continuation  of checking out Sno-Parks. Sno-Parks have been a favorite overnight option for us for many years. November thru April a parking permit is required, put May thru October it's fair game for all, no fee, or reservation required. Some have restrooms some do not, for example Little Nash Sno-Park.  So our morning started with a search of a Sno-Park with a restroom.  Ray Benson Sno-Park came to our rescue. An important focus of these first two days has been reacquainting ourselves with the many Sno-Parks in the Santiam Pass greater area.  Once as familiar to us as a person's neighborhood, from our days of cross-country skiing, they now need a little refreshing.

Mt Washington view from Highway 20

After Ray Benson, we checked out a couple more Sno-Parks before descending down the Santiam Pass on Highway 20 for the greater Sisters area.  Our first primary destination was the e-bird Hotspot of Calliope Crossing.  A well known birding location, it had been on my to-do list for many years.  

Jeanette searching the trees at Calliope Crossing

We parked and walked Indian Ford Creek down-stream and made a bird list. Then we walked up-stream and made a second list. Next we moved to a secret location for lunch and our night's stay. Our afternoon was was spent lounging around and getting better acquainted with our new Pocket van.  There is quite a learning curve in figuring out all the systems, and the right place for everything, and each day it improves a little more. 

Goldern-mantled Ground Squirrel 

Here is proof we enjoy all of wild life, not just birds. Taken from the comfort of the dinette in our van.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Maiden Voyage of the Pocket - Day 1


Little Nash Sno-Park

Last week we picked up our 2022 Winnebago Solis Pocket, starting a new chapter in our life.  We have been wrestling for some time with whether we are too old to go RV traveling.  Are we in a time of our life, due to old age that we should be content to just go about our day to day lives in the retirement community where we live? Boring and depressing. Or, as we recently concluded, should we go for it, buy a new small RV and travel our hearts out. 

We have spent the past year traveling in a very small van, a Ram Promaster City, outfitted for camping by Cascade Campers in Nevada City California.  But, I recently became aware that because of it's limitations we were not that motivated to go camping.  It was great for day trips, perfect for a second vehicle, and as easy to drive as a car. 

This spring two major RV manufactures introduced new models on the shortest of regular van chassis just under 18 feet.  The first one built by Thor Motor Coach has been plagued by engineering mistakes, poor quality construction, and a limited distribution strategy. Second to be introduced was Winnebago with the Solis Pocket.  It caught our attention right away, but seemed over priced and spares on the extras.  As time went on it became apparent that Winnebago was spot on.  What was lacking were frills that we could do with out.  The floor plan was ingenious. And the distribution channels were wide spread with dealerships even in Oregon. We finally got to look at one at Johnson RV on August 5th.  It surpassed our expectations and we plunked down some money, and returned on the 18th for delivery.

That's kind of a long introduction or perhaps attempt at justification, but this afternoon Aug 22nd we took off on our first trip with out Pocket. The spark that got us going was a photo my brother Mark sent me from Echo Basin up in the Cascades.  Our general plan was to travel up the South Santiam and perhaps park over night at Tombstone Sno-Park. Arriving at mid afternoon, it was hot and no cell service, so we travel on checking out Lava Lake Sno-Park, and Fish Lake dispersed camping area, and then landed at Little Nash Sno-Park with nice shade of pine and fir trees.

More details tomorrow.     

Friday, August 6, 2021

Fledging Day

newly fledged baby bluebird

The big news is that our baby bluebirds fledged yesterday!  This is the second batch this season for the pair of Western Bluebirds that occupy the nesting box in the Common Garden area here at Dallas Retirement Village. When I inspected the nesting box back on July 18th there were two tiny babies.  We have monitored the area daily, fearful for them because of continuing heat.  Our hopes would be boosted when occasionally we would catch a glimpse of an adult coming to the box with food, but they are so cautious and quick that there would be many days we did not see them, and then we would become convinced that the babies were dead. So it was with great joy on August 5th that we saw them flying around with their parents from one roof to the next.   
the bedraggled mother

the proud papa