Daisies at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park with Updates and 6 insets! (don't miss them!)
(+ 6 insets!) (please view large) This post is another War & Peace door stop…read at your peril! Or get a cup of coffee, kick back, and get caught up on part of our RV adventures ! Adventures with Groceries and Bikes! Oh dear…we are stranded in L.L. Stub Stewart State Park without a car while our truck is getting its transmission totally rebuilt. This park is a glorious slice of heaven…whatever shall we do?! :D I think we'll have a fabulous time, that's what! L.L. Stub Stewart is known for its massive web of hiking, biking and equestrian trails, and if we were interested, they also have a challenging disc-golf course too. The photography opportunities are endless and Steve has a reasonable internet connection as well. Stranded indeed. Heh. However, as wonderful as it is here, we had a problem. Namely, groceries. When we left for Tillamook the other day, the first stops were to be Costco and a large grocery store. Our provisions were planned to last for increments along the way and resupplied at predetermined destinations. It's true that we could probably survive without more food but it was far from ideal if we could come up with a better solution. Steve realized that the nearby towns of Banks and Vernonia--22 miles apart in opposite directions--both had grocery stores. And they were easily accessed via a very popular, paved rails-to-trails path which led right through L.L. Stub Stewart State Park at the midway point. This easily-accessible trail was one of the reasons our campground was so popular and we knew this first-hand. Just the day before we left for Tillamook we'd ridden our bikes 11 miles down the gradual descent to Banks and then back again. It was a wonderful and beautiful ride through healthy, vibrant green forest dotted with countless flowers along the way. The 22-mile trip, with its combination of distance and 500-foot elevation gain, was enough to totally wipe us out by the time we'd returned to L.L. Stub Stewart. Remembering our original plan to do all 44-miles in one day made us laugh weakly as we panted and pedaled in our lowest gears slowly up the last hills to our RV. Still, we were bummed that we didn't get to enjoy the entire trail. We made a promise to come back in the future, so we'd just do the other half of that marvelous rails-to-trails ride. Now, with an actual need, we had a real challenge to ride from L.L. Stub Stewart to Vernonia and back! Raise your fists in the air and join us in yelling, "HUZZAH for the BRIEN GROCERY CHALLENGE!" There were plenty of things we needed. For one thing, we were beginning to run low on creamer for our life-blood espressos.*GASP!!!* But more than that, we needed an entire henhouse full of eggies! Prepare to be amazed! We eat four eggs for our brunch every day, which means a normal dozen eggs only lasts us three days. We were out of our egg-sausage muffins and the recipe calls for ten eggs. We need to make another batch of "fauxtato" salad and those require six. Pancakes, which are a once every two-week treat--require four eggs. If we were staying for another full week we would need a total of--SERIOUSLY???!!--48 eggs!! Heh. (By the way, did you know that cholesterol has nothing to do with risk of heart disease? Don't believe me? Here's just one article (click link) In other words, eggs can be eaten at will!) Our next problem was figuring out how we'd get our groceries back to our RV intact. Steve and I stared at our little ice chest which returned our stare, laughing. "I am a huge, heavy, rectangular box and you won't be able to carry me to the store and back." Apparently the ice chest didn't know Steve very well. He is an ingenious jerry-rigger with a great mind for working out amazing solutions to crazy problems. Just like this one. I knew he'd come up with something perfect and he did. He started off by placing the box on the narrow pannier rack behind his seat and staring at it quietly. "Hmm…what I need is something wide under the box to support it." After a moment of thought he put the box down and said, "I've got it! One of the boards I use for the leveling jacks under the trailer would be perfect! I've even got screws to mount it to my bike." (Steve adds, "The thickness of the wood wasn't ideal but it was literally the only wood we had!) With a grin and bounce in his step, Steve was soon building a sturdy platform on the pannier. A few minutes later he had the box attached, rock-solid, to the platform with the use of several strong bungees. I beamed in appreciation. "Honey, you're amazing! That's awesome!!" The Ride to Vernonia I packed a few snacks, we put on our backpacks, stashed our water bottles and off we went. Like the trip from L.L. Stub Stewart to Banks, the trail to Vernonia led through thick, beautiful deciduous forest accented by conifers here and there. Let's not forget the never-ending wildflower show along the way! Large daisies, zillions of blossoms in the dandelion family of all types and sizes, elegant tiger lilies, wild berry flowers and so many others. A first for me was the foxgloves (Digitalis purpura) that were simply everywhere. Mostly in shades of magenta, lavender and purple, I would sometimes see an occasional spike of pure white ones with purple-spotted throats. I was curious enough to look this flower up online and discovered that it's not a native flower (its home is in Europe, Asia and Africa) but has naturalized to the point of being a noxious weed in some places. All I can say is "HOORAY!!" because I love these stunning flowers, native or not. We were ready for a well-deserved break when we finally pulled into Vernonia, locked our bikes up at the grocery store and picked up our supplies. We found just about everything we needed and better yet, almost all of it fit into the ice chest affixed to Steve's bike! How cool is that? I handled the bag of apples and a couple of other items but it was a surprise that we had so much room to spare. I hoped the load wouldn't be too much for Steve to handle but his first comment was just what I wanted to hear: I can barely tell there's anything back there! YAY! Before we left for our return trip, we stopped at a nearby park to eat our snacks and have a short rest. While munching, we enjoyed watching a group of horses nearby that were relaxing outside their trailers after a trail ride. We also chatted with an older couple who strolled by with their German shepherds and, of all things, a blue and gold macaw! The Ride Back to L.L. Stub Stewart Before we hopped on our bikes to leave, Steve noticed that his back tire was nearly flat. Again. He's been having a continual problem with his rear "tubeless" tire. He filled it before our ride but now it was nearly flat again. Talk about annoying! That darn tire has plagued him since he got it a couple of months ago and he's had enough. He couldn't help announcing, "That's IT! When we get back to the RV I'm going to put a tube in this tire!" Once he got the pressure back up we rode our bikes back the way we came on the Banks-Vernonia Trail, enjoying the lovely scenery. For about 10 minutes. He crackled over the walkie-talkie, "It's flat again…" We pulled over and he refilled it, grumbling about his stupid tire. This time when we continued our ride, he let me know that he'd be riding as fast as he could to get a far along the trail before needing to refill the tire. I didn't mind being left in the dust and his logic was sound. I was far enough behind him that sometimes I didn't see his bike but eventually I'd catch up when he had to stop and refill his tire. We did have a fun time with a pair of ladies riding along the trail with us. They were a lot slower than Steve and a bit slower than us so Steve whizzed by them with an amusing comment for them. He let me know via walkie-talkie that they would be happy to move to the side when I got to them. When I arrived, I said, "Hey guys, I'm going to come through the middle!" They said ok with happy laughter and away I went. A bit later I arrived at Steve's side where he was busily pumping up his back tire. After a few minutes, along came the ladies and Steve said he was sure he'd seen them before. They laughed and one turned with a challenge, "TAG…YOU"RE IT!" Hoots and hollers of gleeful mirth filled the air! Once his tire was full, Steve took off again, eventually reaching the pair of ladies again. As they moved to the side to let him pass, Steve told them, "If anyone ever suggests tubeless tires to you, Just Say No!" I shared the laughter over the walkie-talkie and after a few minutes I caught up to them as well. They'd been keeping an eye on where I was and slid to the side so I could pass. As I did, I couldn't help crooning, "I have arrived to return the favor…"TAG! YOU'RE IT!" The air filled with a fit of giggles from all of us and I pulled ahead. We didn't see them again but won't forget this fun-loving pair. Happily (and with a bit of sarcasm) Steve only had to do that three (yes, THREE) more times before we finally chugged our way up the last few hills into L.L. Stub Stewart and pulled to a stop at our RV. Can you spell T-I-R-E-D?! That would be us! Steve was totally done for, the poor guy. Not only had he dealt with a back tire that went flat every 15 minutes, he was also carrying about 10 extra pounds of groceries in his backpack and at least 40 pounds from the heavy old ice cooler box, the heavy wood plank platform and the groceries which included a half-gallon of creamer and bunches of other stuff. Ridiculous, and yet he did it! My hero! :) Needless to say, we didn't do much more other than take showers, drink our afternoon espressos, eat dinner and relax until 9 sharp when we watched our show with Pumpkin and then fell into bed face-first. It had been a wonderful day. We were so proud that we rose to the challenge to get groceries. We also got to complete the 22-mile Banks to Vernonia Rails-to-Trails ride. With a day between rides we rode 44 miles in total with 500-feet elevation gain both days. That may not seem like much but trust me, the combination of distance and elevation was quite the accomplishment! We will always remember this adventure, hooray! Pictures I'm including today are a pair of droplet-covered daisies after a late-night shower with insets of Foxgloves in purple and white! I also have a picture of Steve on his bike (with a flat back tire) and the attached ice chest!) And finally, the lady who drove the tow truck kindly sent us the picture she took of the unbelievable sight which she drove so competently! THANK YOU LAURA! Thinking of you, Pam, and you too, Marie-Claire!! ALL MY BEST! Explored on 6/25/19; highest placement, #7.
L.L. Stub State Park: Mottled Fern Frond
Hi everyone! We are finally home from our 3-week RV trip to four of Central Oregon's lovely state parks: LaPine, The Cove Palisades, L.L. Stub Stewart and Diamond Lake.What an amazing trip it was! There were so many beautiful places, so many wonderful adventures, and so many "firsts" too! It was also a trip which taught me a few things, but most of all I had to wave goodbye to an internet connection and just forget about it. I also realized that it was just impossible to keep up with a proper journal. It's always a struggle: do you LIVE the adventure or do you DOCUMENT it? It's all a balancing act and part of that balance is just throwing your hands in the air and enjoying the show without taking a single picture or writing a word about it. We were blessed to lose our truck's transmission in a place where we were safe. If asked, "Where would you like to be stuck if you were stranded in your RV for a week while your truck was being repaired?", we'd both say "L.L. Stubb State Park!" Honestly, there were many wonderful parks we would happily hole up in but we sure loved staying at L.L. Stubb with its endless hiking and mountain bike trails, comfortable weather, and gorgeous local. Deep, rich, beautiful forests are not the worst surroundings and in the end we got our truck back in premier condition and ready for years of adventures in the future! I've missed everyone here so very much. Even when there was an internet connection, I rarely had the time to visit which was too bad but what are you going to do, right?! :) I sure do hope that everyone has been doing ok and I look forward to visiting between the ebb and flow of chores around here! Today's picture is a one of a favorite subject: a fern frond! You may know how much I adore them--In fact, I'm infatuated by these lovely plants! When we were in L.L. Stubb State Park, we stayed at two sites. The first five days we stayed at their upper campground, the next five days we stayed at their lower campground. Next to our site was a steep hillside which of course I was soon crawling around on with my camera and macro lens. Why? Well, remember the Foxgloves I shared last? The white ones were waving at me and I couldn't resist. Once I was down there I found bunches of other lovely subjects to photograph. I saw some ferns too but they weren't in great condition. In fact, many fronds were in the process of yellowing and dying back. Then I noticed how colorful they were and took a closer look. HOLY COW, THEY WERE BEAUTIFUL!!! I was totally enchanted, and so today I wanted to share this picture with you so you can see how incredible a dying fern frond can be! :) Pam, you've been on my mind every day too. I hope you are well. I've been thinking a lot about Marie-Claire too and wishing for positive news--if anyone reading this knows how she is doing, I sure would like to know! Sending my biggest *HUGGZ* to everyone this evening!! Explored on 7/6/19; highest placement, #1.
Western Columbine at L.L. Stub Stewart
(+7 insets!) (this update is another doorstop...coffee will be necessary to make it through to the end! :D) Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well, I miss everyone a lot. I really miss my "normal" routine of cruising around everyone's streams and dropping off comments for all of your latest pictures. However, I have had to change my priorities from my usual photography/ipernity/chores/etc. to trip preparation in all regards. I'm the sort of person that can't have the distraction of a favorite pastime interfering with important tasks. If I try to spend a small amount of time with something like photography or ipernity, I end up becoming totally absorbed and procrastinating away hours of time. I just can't seem to balance that one so the best option is just to stay away from these activities until I have my priorities under control. Trip Planning So, I'm still working on our Vancouver Island trip itinerary and also doing zillions of prep tasks, etc…six weeks is a lot for planning and coordination, let me tell you! We were able to find a person in the area who's an expert with snakes and frogs and he will be caring for Snakey McSnakerton and our two ancient, 18-year old frogs while we are away. We've arranged for a house-sitter. Pumpkin is microchipped and paperwork is in order. Steve's got all of our trip reservations--including our ferry crossings--finalized. I now know that we can bring most of our food across the border both ways--but no eggs or fruit! Oh, and by the way, did you know that a sing freshwater fishing license is just $37 for a Canadian and a whopping $84 for a non-native? In other words, we'll be spending $168 just for the chance to fish! Sound the general alarm, that's CRAZY!! And yet, we'll pay the price because we're going to be on the island for five weeks. Did you notice the part where I mentioned "fresh water"? We WON'T be fishing in the ocean/shore/bay pier. That would be another $125 EACH to try that. (And, just for funzies I looked into boat charters of any sort…AHHHH!!! It's a minimum of $600-$700 to go out on a boat for two people…as much as I would dearly LOVE to have a guided trip for fishing, we just can't afford such extravagances.) RV/Truck Maintenance… When we were at our last RV destination, Diamond Lake, we noticed that one of the trailer wheels wasn't behaving quite right--it didn't turn freely when we backed the trailer up, pushing into the gravel instead of rolling over it (but seemed ok going forward). This was strange because we'd had the bearings repacked and the whole rig checked out by a local shop. But when we got home, Steve checked each of the wheels and discovered that three of the four wheel's hubs were cool to the touch as they should be, but the one we were concerned about was very hot--a bad sign that the bearings aren't moving easily. So, right away Steve got the trailer into the shop. Turned out to be such a strange situation that the shop admitted never seeing it before in the 20 years they've been servicing RVs! In fact, parts of the bearings assembly disintegrated into the wheel and it was a total mess--it was lucky we got home, actually. Because of Steve's diligence to check for problems, he discovered this blow-out accident waiting to happen. Happily, the repair didn't cost us a cent because it was the shop's error--although to be fair, it was a manufacturer's error--not theirs--because they'd done everything right except for putting in a bearing assembly that was defective. Steve also took the truck in for an inspection by our local mechanic. We really should have done this before we began our RV adventures but the timing didn't work out until now. As it turned out, we learned that to get our truck up to snuff, we needed to sink nearly $5k into engine repairs. That's on top of the transmission we had rebuilt. Holy money pit Batman, at that point you really need to stop and think about cost vs. value. Steve and Huck, our mechanic, talked about the truck for a while and if these costs were worth it. But, just like our transmission mechanic, Huck didn't hesitate with the same opinion: these trucks will last forever with routine care, and this truck is unquestionably worth more than we paid for it, despite the transmission and maintenance costs. And, with these repairs out of the way, we won't need any work done on the truck for 100k miles or more. Ah well, it's just money and more importantly, we have peace of mind. The truck did make odd sounds sometimes which made us wonder. Now Steve knows what they meant. It's all good. RV Upgrades, also known as, "STEVE IS AMAZING!!!" Meanwhile, Steve has been working on making our RV better and better! His most important project when we got home was to fix the wonky, defective kitchen drawers and then to BUILD four new drawers--a pair that would go under the dinette seats and two under the master bed. First he fixed the kitchen drawers. The idiot things didn't open/close properly and the slides were partially broken…what a nightmare! He replaced the cheap-crappy slide mechanisms with new ones that have a soft-close feature which pulls the drawer shut at the last inch. While he was fixing the drawer, he also added 6" to the length/depth of the drawer! MORE ROOM IS MORE!!! YAYYYYY!!! What a difference!! When he was done we stood there like silly little kids taking turns opening and closing the drawers! HOORAY!!! *happy dance* The thing is--we use those drawers dozens of times every day and every time we had to fight with the drawers to some degree. By the time we got home from our last trip, we were both raving lunatics, and that's why he had those drawers fixed the day after we got back! HUZZAH! After the kitchen drawers he attacked the dinette! The seats have cushions that can be removed, exposing a crappy piece of plywood that covers storage space below. Potentially useful? ABSOLUTELY! Realistically useful? NOT! So Steve set to work building a pair of drawers that should have been there to begin with. It was a challenge to figure out the drawer faces but his solution of using stained wood faces in a black frame works just super. We are beside ourselves with happiness at how amazing these drawers turned out. (Did I mention the fact that Steve's never built drawers like this before from scratch?) Now we'll have a proper place for our pots and pans and plenty of other stuff. All easily accessible by opening a drawer! Steve's AMAZING!!! Finally, he's in the last stages of building drawers into the bed frame so we have proper places to put our clothes. We've been making due with the pair of closets at either side of the bed but the spaces are too small and require us to pile our clothes up and squish them into place. Trying to pull out an item of clothing at the bottom of a pile is a guaranteed disaster with clothes falling onto the floor, tipping over, and making a huge mess. Neither of us made a peep about it on our last trip because there was nothing we could do about the situation but we totally hit the wall. It would be a big project but the effort would really pay off. As he expected, the horrendous lack of building skill in the trailer's construction made it very challenging in regards to dealing with so many lopsided angles but he's been able to come up with clever solutions for every problem. He's almost done now and we are so excited to put these new spaces into use! YAY FOR MY CLEVER MAN!!! :) Today's Pictures Today's main picture and inset are a pair of the many lovely wild Columbine blossoms that Steve and I saw when we were staying at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park. Using a flash really make them explode in fiery color, especially against a dark background. I also have an inset which shows a Columbine in natural lighting. Incredible flowers, aren't they? I was so happy I got to see them in bloom, as I'd missed their bloom time here at home. I'm also including insets that show the drawer work that Steve's done! What fun it is to show off Steve's handiwork! :) Pam, I'm hoping that you've been doing as well as can be expected! Miss you mucho my dear! *MANY HUGS* and thank you so much for the comments on my picture! :) Explored on 7/19/19; highest placement, #7.