Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Winter at the Salmon River
'Tis the day before Thanksgiving and and all through the night .. oh wait, that's a different holiday, although not to far away !
It sure looks like Christmas though, and if we won't have it than, we are having it now .. a white Thanksgiving!

Temperatures started to drop over the weekend, followed by snow on Sunday night, all in all a good 4 inches or better!
I must say, although the snow at Joseph Plains was pretty, it really turned the area around here in a stunning winter-wonderland.
Maybe it's because you look up to the mountains from down here, whereas we were on the mountain itself over there and didn't see much below us.

We walked down the slippery driveway (fortunately I had saved our snow-boots) to the road, where the view of the river was especially spectacular!
We put a drop-off box at the gate for UPS and FedEx because there's no way they'll make it up the driveway ..

And here's us, all snug and warm, nestled against the 'big' house:

Earlier that week I had walked up the canyon towards a little  waterfall halfway the creek and made a picture of it. 
Yesterday I went again, this time for a 'snow-shot' ..


 By the way, this property is guarded by a squirrel!

Trying to look tough here!
In the meantime, the crew has worked on a whole bunch of different projects ..
Besides all the tree-cutting and repairs on the front gate that I showed last week, they repaired a break in the main water-pipe, next to the house:

The pipes are badly corroded and there were several leaks inside and out, but it looks like they're finally all taken care of.
James did the inside, closest to the pump, where hoses had sprung leaks also:

We also took care of a few repairs and modifications inside the RV, James gave me a shelve in the storage chubby-hole behind the TV:

Everything used to be piled up on top of each other and things were constantly sliding around ..

Look how neat. Much better!
And how about this one .. every time the front door was opened all the cold air from the outside would stream in ..

Well, we created a 'hossie', as we call it in (the northern part of) Holland, a sort of mud-room, by hanging some heavy velvet curtains from a (bendable) ceiling-rod:


Not the best picture, but they are a nice 'evergreen' green!
(Left is as seen from the inside, right is from outside looking in)

The last step of our door-steps to the ground is, depending on the site, often a little high so James created another 'landing' (and screwed the mat on it, since it has a tendency to get blown away)

They burned all the cut tree branches and other trash ..

They also dug a trench for the electricity that has to go up to the new-house site and Don has been leveling and smoothing several areas all around us ..

Eventually, they ran out of projects though, which is getting to be a real problem.
We still do not have any definite house plans, which means we can't move forward and we now actually have to lay off the crew for a while. Which is not nice, because we did promise them work and they, and their families, rely on it.
Let's hope that when Sam and Ronnie are coming up here for a week on December the 3d, that something will be decided ..

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Salmon River
I wish I could take credit for the picture above but I stole it from the Internet. 
It is right here on the river though, and I also wish we could have seen it like that, but we were at Joseph Plains when the colors were at their best.

It looks more like this right now, not a leaf left, but in the right light it's still beautiful:

While walking through those hills above and alongside the river one morning, I heard a bird singing. 
Something rather unusual in the fall, and it took me quite a while before I could locate it, as it blended in perfectly with it's surroundings:

It was this pretty little Song Sparrow.
I guess its not really bothered by those huge thorns!

We're still not completely set up, the sewer-hose still needs a little adjusting in covering it up, but the water-hose is snugly wrapped.
Both hoses have a heating cord taped along the side that will (hopefully) keep them from freezing: 

The water: 


And the sewer ...

James worked on winterizing part of the shop to use as a coffee and lunch room for 'the guys'. It's now insulated and heated and has a small fridge and coffee machine.


He has also been spending quite a lot of time behind the computer. He had to organize a crew, order a porta-potty, set up appointments to get a septic tank installed, a well dug, concrete poured and temporary electric hooked up, and has started to order some materials.

But he's having some fun too ... see, that's him going by my window there!
A guy and his toys ..

They're working on a new gate

We've got several of these machines around and they're sure handy  to dig big holes or move dirt or lift heavy things .. or knock down trees!



The way the RV is angled I have a very good view of all the comings and goings of anybody driving up.
The side windows, where I sit when on the computer, look out on the driveway and the back windows on the barn/shop and the parking area.

Nothing can sneak by me!

In the meantime, I'm totally enjoying my time off!
Things got pretty hectic in the end at Joseph Plains, and than we immediately went on our trip, which is always a busy adventure as well so it's wonderful to have some peace and quite again.

And since we're now going to stay put for a while, and also have paid of all our debts to everybody who'd helped us during our 'truck-disaster', I can finally order some 'stuff' that I've had my eye on for quite a while. So I went on a little shopping spree.
Call it an early Christmas!

One of them being this ingenious new invention, a Crisplid for my Instant Pot, which turns it into an air fryer as well!
It's now a crock-pot, a pressure-cooker and an air-fryer, all-in-one, saving a ton of space as well as money .. 
This afternoon I tried my (first) hand at a rather unusual use of an air-fryer, I made a crispy banana bread.

It came out fairly well, although the bottom was a little under-baked. Trial and error, I guess.
It tasted OK though, especially those crispy walnuts on top!

I'm a happy camper!

I also managed to snatch up a decently priced replacement pump for our sleep number bed (that we fried in Newberg) on ebay, so that will be coming in next week, also a coffeepot (for the crew) and (plastic) mugs, as well as a curtain (plus rod) for the entrance (to keep out the cold), a new calendar for 2020, cleaner and conditioner for the RV, a donut pan (ha!), an extendable and magnifying make-up mirror (can't see things anymore), a mug (we're down to 2) and an eggwich maker (don't ask).

Yoohoo! I'm on a roll!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Beautiful Lake Coeur d'Alene
Well, as the picture above suggests, we did make it down the hill and we did go on our trip!
Not that everything went completely as planned, but hey, what would be the fun in that?
For one, the packing up took quite a bit longer than we (James) had thought so we left an hour later than anticipated. Since we had waited until it got a little warmer to begin with, this cut it rather close to getting cooler (and darker) again ..

I was driving the truck (Ronnie's) down. It was filled to the rim!

The RV had an unusual passenger. Merlin was not happy!
Any-who, we finally left and everything went well, the road was dry and free of snow and the PAC-brakes worked fine .. until we were about halfway down the hill when the RV got a flat tire! $#@%&!
Fortunately (or un-fortunately) James has a lot of experience changing them out, and it didn't take him too long before we were back on the 'road'.

All in all it set us back enough, that we arrived at the Sundown RV Park in Grangeville in the pitch dark!
Passport America got us in here for $12 a night. Great deal!

There was ample space available though, so we picked a spot, connected the power and treated ourselves to a well-deserved dinner at the Mexican restaurant next door.

The next day we left the RV in Grangeville and drove both trucks to Wet gulch. We unloaded all the 'stuff' and tools and left Ronnie's truck there.
When we came back we headed straight for 'the Rib Guy' for another great BBQ meal!

The next morning we picked up a few things from the grocery store and the lumber yard, and finally left town around 10 am to start the first leg of our travels, north to Coeur d'Alene for a visit to our long time friends Joe & Deanna!
Everything went smoothly, except for an unexpected steep down-hill past Cottonwood and an even steeper up-hill just past Lewiston. Not my favorite parts of a road but the truck did just fine.

We arrived at Tamarack RV Park around 3 pm, and after wrestling for a bit with a rather tight turn at the back of the campground we managed to get into our spot.

It's a small, but nice campground and with our PA membership it cost us only $24 a night instead of $48!

The next morning Joe and Deanna drove over to us from Stateline, where they live, only 13 miles away.
They were our fellow camp-hosts at our very first 'gig' in Vallecito, CA. They taught us everything we needed to know about the job, and we picked their brains for anything RV-like that we hadn't figured out yet.
Last time we met was 4 years ago in Arizona, but it was like no time had passed, we immediately picked up where we left of! 
After mandatory coffee with pastries and lots of reminiscing and updating, we all piled into their car for a drive around lake Coeur d'Alene.

We followed the Scenic Byway all around, which took us all afternoon ..

This beautiful lake reminded us so much of Lake Arrowhead!

We stopped for lunch at 'One-shot-Charles' on the south side of the lake, and enjoyed the very good burgers and deliciously crispy sweet potato fries!
The weather was gorgeous and the lake calm as can be ..

What a beautiful drive! 

After we finished the loop, we went to their house for a home cooked dinner, such a treat!
They recently sold their motor home and bought a double wide mobile-home. 
They felt it was time to stop living in an RV and wanted to settled down some. They still might go south in the winter as they have done for years, but they'll rent something down there instead.

The sun was setting after a beautiful day, as we enjoyed a tasty beef stew with home-made biscuits and the company of dear friends.
Life's good!

The next day we packed up after breakfast and got on the road for the 222 mile drive to Boardman, OR.
It was a smooth drive with nice weather, good roads, easy traffic and (almost) no truck problems(the radiator is leaking but it's a tiny drip so we hope we'll be alright until we get back).

We arrived at the Boardman Marina and RV Park around 1 pm and after lunch and setting up, we went for a short drive around the neighborhood. 
There's really nothing to see or do around there, but the views of the Columbia river make up for it!

Our site butts right up to the river ..

We enjoyed a beautiful sunset!

The next morning it was quite foggy, but there was enough visibility to start driving after breakfast.

The freeway follows the Columbia River all the way to Portland.
I was amazed how barren the scenery was on both sides .. 

Nothing like the green Oregon I remembered from our time around Newberg and the coastal areas!
It took us all the way to the Dalles, about halfway to Portland when the trees started to appear ..

Now we're talking!

Even some vineyards!

We made a short stop at Multnomah Falls:

We'd seen it before, years ago, but they're right on the freeway and certainly worth another visit!
We managed to find a parking spot (it's very often full) by accidentally taking a back-road entrance .. we only just fit on the very narrow road!

By skirting Portland we luckily avoided any heavy traffic, and
finally arrived in Newberg around 12.30 pm.
It took us a little to get us situated in the small site, and even longer to get us hooked up to electricity, but as usual James got the job done!
(Unfortunately we fried the circuit-board of our sleep-number-bed in doing so .. oh, well!)

It was great to see Doug and Brenda and the kids again after all this time. Seven years, wow!
We're all looking a little more aged around the edges, and the kids are certainly no babies anymore!


We all got together in the evening, and set down for another delicious home-cooked dinner. 
Look at these gigantic bone-in rib-eye steaks Doug had specialty ordered and cooked on the BBQ!



I'd hoped to still see some fall colors around here, and wasn't disappointed the next day when we went for a little drive around the neighborhood, visiting places we'd frequented all those years ago, and doing some shopping in the meantime.
After spending the summer in the super-rural area we'd been in, it was such a thrill to have all the stores at our fingertips!

That afternoon, Doug and Brenda invited us for a special VIP wine-tasting at Archery Summit, one of the wineries in the area that they've become members of.


That membership entitles them a couple of times a year to a private tasting in the cellars, which in this case, are actually in caves below the winery ..


They're signature wine is Pinot Noir, and we got to enjoy 6 generous tastings of various years and vineyards.
We had a personal 'guide' who explained about each wine, and was a great source of information of anything wine-wise!

It was a great experience and we were really happy campers when we left!

But the day wasn't over yet!
Next up we went for dinner at Rosmarino in Newberg:

Talking about an experience! Wow, this restaurant blew our socks off!
The food was absolutely to die for, six wonderful courses, but the most fun was Dario, the owner and cook, who came to the table at every course, explaining how he'd cooked the food and why he'd paired a specific wine with it.

Image result for dario italian restaurant in newberg" 

The servings were small but because there were so many you were completely satisfied afterward (without being too full).

The main course was wild Boar with cheesy Polenta and Porcini mushrooms. Delicious!

Needless to say, the next morning we (me) were a little  .. 'slow' ..
Nevertheless, since James felt good enough, he went golfing at the Reserve Vineyards and Golfclub in Hillsboro. 

The Reserve South

I stayed at home, my 'golf-elbow', although caused by screwing (ha!) and not by golf, was a welcome excuse, since I really didn't quite feel up to it after the previous day.

I walked around Doug's property for a bit and took some shots of his filbert (hazelnut) orchard ..

 How cool is that, to have your own hazelnuts?

He's planning to take them all out though and plant a vineyard instead!
We're still amazed by how they turned into real wine-aficionados since the last time we saw them. Wine was always a no-no, dictated by their church, but apparently they've changed their policy (the church) and alcohol is now allowed.
They showed us their (secret) climate controlled wine-stash/room, (of which I wasn't allowed to take any pictures?), which contains 1400 bottles, varying in price between $50 and $150! 
Holy smokes!

Image result for trisaetum"

Talking about wine .. that afternoon, while James was still golfing, they took me to another winery that they're members of, Triseatum, for another wine-tasting. 
Well, they didn't exactly have to twist my arm, mind you ..
  Image result for trisaetum"

This tasting was a lot more casual, and I managed to only take a sip or two of each wine offered, to keep further damage somewhat under control ..

It was another beautiful fall day and the setting sun cast a beautiful light over the vineyard .. and the tasting room ..

That night we were treated to another wonderful dinner at the Joel Palmer House in McMinnville.
It's a very interesting restaurant, due to the fact that the only thing they serve are dishes made with mushrooms and truffles!

James and I split a delicious Duck Breast with truffles, while sipping another great wine that Doug had brought with him.
(one night a week they wave the corking fee for wine you can bring yourself)
It was another very special evening!

The next day we spent mostly on shopping, we stocked up on groceries at Walmart, and I even managed to snatch up a nice warm sweater at Kohl's.
James got a few things at Home Depot, saving on shipping to Lucile, and we had coffee at an honest-to-god Starbucks, which we hadn't seen in ages!

And guess what, we were invited to another dinner out that evening! Which was to be our farewell dinner, since we were leaving the next day.


They took us to Tina's in Dundee, where James and I split the sea scallops and we all shared an apple crumble for desert.
Wow, was it good!
We tried to pay this time, but they didn't want to hear about it!

But, as they say 'all good things must come to an end', and the next day it was time for us to leave and get ourselves back to Idaho.
We had a wonderful time, were thoroughly spoiled, and said goodbye hoping it won't take another 7 years to see each other again.
Our goal today was to drive to Dallesport, on the Columbia River, only a 110 mile drive, so we took it easy.

We arrived around noon, went over the bridge into Washington, and settled into a nice site at the Columbia Hills RV Park. 
As you can see, we even had a decent view of Mt Hood from our back window (if that wasn't so dirty!).

From here, we drove the truck the 22 miles up into the hills to Wahkiacus, where we met Ken and Todd at 3.30 pm at their newly renovated cabin!

Unfortunately they didn't have much time for us, since Todd had just shot a moose a couple of days before, and they were still working on processing it.

We did get a tour of the house, which is absolutely beautiful, especially that kitchen!

The best part is the incredible view though! Too bad it had clouded up in the afternoon, because on a clear day they have an amazing view of Mt. Hood.

After a while I started to feel that we had overstayed our welcome, they obviously wanted to go back to work on that moose, so we said our goodbyes and let them to it.
I secretly had hoped for dinner with them since Ken is an amazing cook (well, he's a trained chef), but we were obviously not going to be invited .. I really felt that they could have been a little more welcoming, especially Ken, who was almost rude in not engaging in the conversation at all but started tidying up the kitchen.
Oh well .. we got that message .. !

The sun was setting, just before Cottonwood
Our plan for the next day was to drive to somewhere halfway home, find an RV Park for the night and drive home the next day, but we were making such good time that we drove all the way to Grangeville instead, where we, once again, picked a spot at the Sundown RV Park and settled in for the night!



Although not before repeating that Mexican dinner at the restaurant next door, just like last Sunday .. yummie!

I was a little nervous the next morning (OK, a lot) because although we only had 33 miles to go, we had to scale the White Bird Hill (summit 4245') and drive down the steep road on the other site.

James didn't think twice about it though, so up we went, slow but sure and than down on the other site, even slower but just as sure!
After all the worrying, everything went totally fine of course .. pfff, oh well! 
I was very happy to finally arrive at Wet Gulch where we had our own little hill to climb, which of course went without any problems as well.

And there we are!

We used the rest of the day to get us situated and connected . We'd chosen a different spot than last time, to be more out of the way of future building traffic. 
Sitting next to the house, it's also a little more protected against the elements and it's easier to hook up our utilities.

We also have to winterize this time so the pipes and hoses don't freeze this winter. 
It will probably take us a while before we have everything wrapped and secured, but in the meantime we're warm and dry, and happy to have made it safe and sound to our winter digs.
Life is good!