27 May – 1 June 2015; More Hikes, More Maintenance Issues, Another Move…Not The Way We Intended

Hey folks!  Well, we are back in the Junction City, OR area once again…Harrisburg to be precise.  I’ll get to the reason why in a bit, but first we need to recap the end of last week.

On Wednesday, the 27th, we decided to take a drive a bit East of us to see some more of the Santium River Valley.  We drove East on Oregon Hwy 22.  Our destination was the Detroit Lake State Park…the place I had initially picked out to go to.  Here are a few shots of the day:

The Detroit Dam.  We had no idea the ramifications of the current draught until we took this drive.  There is just a trickle really going over the dam...enough to keep the fish in the Santium alive and not much else.  We did see some folks fishing from the bridge...no way for me!  The line had to drop about 100' at least.  The guy watching catching rainbows, but a long haul up, and as soon as he dropped them in the water, they were so shocked they just floated and we saw some eagles swoop in and grab them.  An easy meal for them I guess.

The Detroit Dam. We had no idea the ramifications of the current drought until we took this drive. There is just a trickle really going over the dam…enough to keep the fish in the Santium alive and not much else. We did see some folks fishing from the bridge…no way for me! The line had to drop about 100′ at least. The guy we watched was catching rainbows, but a long haul up, and as soon as he dropped them in the water, they were so shocked they just floated and we saw some eagles swoop in and grab them. An easy meal I guess.

While we were at the dam, we heard a helicopter overhead, and saw them hoisting power line poles up the mountain.  This help was carrying three long poles at one time.

While we were at the dam, we heard a helicopter overhead, and saw them hoisting power line poles up the mountain. This helo was carrying three long poles at one time.

As we continued up river, we were awestruck by the low water levels.  I hope you can make this out if you enlarge this picture...the boat docks are way out of the water.  The river is down at least 75 feet from normal.  They had absolutely no snow runoff this year.

As we continued up river, we were awestruck by the low water levels. I hope you can make this out if you enlarge this picture…the boat docks are way out of the water. The river is down at least 75 feet from normal. They had absolutely no snow runoff this year.

So…we did make it to the Detroit state park, and I am really glad that Terri found the BLM park we were staying in.  The sites were nice, but there was really no access to the water, and the state park is quite a ways out of any towns that have anything going on.  The town of Detroit Lakes seems to be suffering from the drought as well, as most of the businesses deal with fishing or camping or water sports, and there is none of that going on in this area right now for sure.

We headed back to camp and enjoyed a great night meeting new folks and the camp fire.  The folks that work here are great, as we’ve stated before.  We got a nice packet of trails and hikes in the local area, and will see what we can find in the morning.

On Thursday, the 28th we were up and about early and ready to attack Opal Creek Trail…but Dumb Ron had to dump some gray water first, and when he went to pull the latch for the bay door open, most of it came off in his hand.  The little sucker was stuck on one side, and I pulled too hard, and practically yanked most of the handle mechanism out of the door.  In any case, I couldn’t get the door open, which is a problem because behind that bay door are all of the power cords and other “stuff” we need.  Terri to the rescue.  Thank goodness we can access the bay from the other side.  Terri slid in from the passenger side of the Coach, and with a trusty flat head in hand, she was able to release the “sticky” latch so I could get the bay door open.  Now what??  Well, we took a few more things apart, and noted that the latching mechanism on the right side needed adjustment.  OK, not too hard, even for Dumb Ron.  We got that adjusted, but now what about that outside latch handle that I yanked all out of proportion?  Well, we took another bay door apart to see how these latch handles are secured, and learned that they are just form fitted.  Top side in, then slide down until secure.  Great!  Fixed!  Not so fast Dumb Ron. It seems that all of the wear and tear of opening and closing has taken its toll of the left latch!  It is almost completely deteriorated:

This is so worn that it will not keep the bay door sealed properly.

This is so worn that it will not keep the bay door sealed properly.

A better shot of the latch that wasn't giving me the problem.

A better shot of the latch that wasn’t giving me the problem.

So…I called Kevin Waite in Junction City to see if he had any in stock.  We were planning to head there anyway on Sunday to get our slide looked at, and he replied very fast as he always does.  I asked for three of them so I have some spares.  They are $15 each.  Why have they not gone to metal latches yet??  The catches are metal…so why not the latch?  Planned obsolescence maybe??   In any case, Kevin met us at the camp ground we moved to on Sunday and delivered them.

OK, at least we got everything in working order so the bay is accessible and we can travel in this configuration…just have to keep an eye on the mirror in case the door opens!  With that all done in less than an hour, we headed to our next hike which is Opal Creek, located on National Forest land about 15 miles as the crow flies from us, but about 50 miles by road to the start of the trail.  It was a really a nice paved road for the most part, but we had read that the last 6 or so miles were unpaved and not maintained.  They were correct!  We really wondered what we had gotten ourselves into, until we finally arrived at the parking area.  It took us about 30 minutes to go the 6 or so miles because the road was so bad.  When we got to the parking area, we saw a school bus, a tour bus, and about 6 other cars.  Hmmmm…not Deliverance relived after all!!  Now the funny part…again.  Remember in Boise when we had to climb forever and then we got the actual trail head?  Well, same thing here, but with a twist.  They are doing maintenance on the bridge over the river that is about 1/4 of a mile into the 3.6 mile one way hike….after you get to the trail head, which is quite a ways beyond the parking area.  There was a big sign that said the trail over the bridge is only open at 09:00; 12:00 and 3:00 during the week due to construction.  Well, it was 1:00 when we left the parking area.  Thank goodness again, the construction crew were in a lull that allowed us to cross.  Why could they not have posted this issue at the beginning of the road??  Off we go!  It was a road actually for the most part, as they have an education center and encampment about three miles up that is privately funded.  A little oasis in the National Forest land if you will.  Opal Creek was mined from the 1920’s to the 1970’s.  First was gold, but that didn’t pan out (LOL), so they focused on zinc, copper and a few other minerals.  It was awesomeness in the out of doors.  The area that is held privately and also by the BLM is one of the largest and oldest natural growth forest in the Pacific Northwest.

Just trail walking!

Just trail walking!

A neat old shed at one of the old mining encampments.

A neat shed at one of the old mining encampments.

Jawbone Flats.  This is an area that is privately funded and they have cabins that you can rent out.  The entire old mining town is powered by hydroelectric and solar.  They have all kinds of groups up here, and publish an itinerary for the year as to what is available.  Would be great for a family reunion if you can make the hike up.  If not, for a fee, they will transport you, but you would miss the beauty of the walk.

Jawbone Flats. This is an area that is privately funded and they have cabins that you can rent out. The entire old mining town is powered by hydroelectric and solar. They have all kinds of groups up here, and publish an itinerary for the year as to what is available. Would be great for a family reunion if you can make the hike up. If not, for a fee, they will transport you, but you would miss the beauty of the walk.

After 3. whatever miles up hill, you get to Opal Creek.  An awesome mountain stream.

After 3.xx whatever miles up hill, you get to Opal Creek. An awesome mountain stream.

Opal pool shot #1.

Opal pool shot #1.

Opal Pool shot #2.  This area has nothing to do with Opals...it is the color of the water in the pools that gave it its name.

Opal Pool shot #2. This area has nothing to do with Opals…it is the color of the water in the pools that gave it its name.

The old growth forest was just spectacular.

The old growth forest was just spectacular.  We took an old BLM trail most of the way down.  Not well marked, but manageable.

After that long hike, we treated ourselves to pizza at a local mom and pop place and it was excellent.  We then headed back and fired up the camp fire and had some more great guests at the fire.

OK, losing my mind here, or Old Timers maybe, but when we awoke on Friday, the 29th, I did my usual walk around the Coach just to check things out.  If I mentioned this before, I apologize.  We heard a rock hit the windshield when we were on our way here from the coast.  I saw the chip in the windshield when we had arrived, and it was just a chip, so thought I’d call the insurance company sometime and see if I could get it filled.  Well…the chip had turned into a 3 inch crack overnight. I got a hold of our National General Insurance Agent, and she gave me the glass claim number to call.  I did, and was contacted not much later by Duncan Systems out of Elkhart, Indiana.  They are the folks that National General uses for RV glass repair.  It was nice talking with them, as they specialize in RV glass repair, and were right on top of things.  The nice young lady that I was talking to asked me to send her pictures of the crack and the specs on the glass, which I did.  After she consulted with her tech manager, she called back and said that the glass would need to be replaced because there is no way the glass would be able to withstand the stress of a repair.  The good news:  for a Florida policy, the deductible is waived for glass repair!!  I have a $1,000 deductible, so that is huge!!!!  Here was the rub though (there is always a rub!)  The claim was originally for repair, and since it was Friday, everything in the midwest was closing down, so no joy on getting anything done on Friday.  OK…question…I have to drive to the Junction City area on Sunday for other repairs, can I drive?  Yep, just as long as there are no glass shards coming in or anything else, with small crack you are fine!  OK…jumping to the future here…when we left on Sunday, I had driven not more than two feet and the crack migrated all the way to the top of the windshield…yuck!!

The 2-3" crack.

The 2-3″ crack.  I did measure it…2.52 inches, before we moved on Sunday.

OK, so off we went to explore some more of this nice park and also took a drive around the Willamette Valley.  We learned real quick that we were pronouncing the valley incorrectly.  It is not “Will-ah-met” rather it is Wi-lamet.”  Sorry for the language, but the best example we got was from a lady that said “It’s Wilamet, Damn It!”  OK…we got it!!  That is one of the first ways that they can tell “you ain’t from around here, is you?”  After we drove the valley for a while, we headed back to camp and enjoyed the sunset on the river:

Always something special that Mother Nature has to offer.

Always something special that Mother Nature has to offer.

Friday night was a great night, and we had more visitors.  Some local folks that were camped next to us  came over for a while…late into the night while!  We had a great time. Terri was up really early, and I stayed in bed…a long time.  I had a terrible migraine that wouldn’t go away.  I have not had one of this in several years, but it finally abated.  When I got up, I realized that Terri had been cooking on the fire with Cast Iron.  She made some awesome cornbread with hatch green Chile and cheese!

It was absolutely spectacular!!!!

It was absolutely spectacular!!!!

We spent Saturday at the camp and got a few things stowed and ready to go to head to Harrisburg, OR which is near Junction City to get the slide checked out, and hopefully to finalize the wind shield repairs.  We were up early on Sunday, and got the tanks drained and all, and made our trek to Harrisburg.  We landed in a nice little park that is under transition.  A church bought this property, and they are in the process of building a new church, along with the motel that is already here, a conference center, and they will keep some of the RV sites.  Nice enough, and close to the folks we need to see!  We already met some great people here in the camp and learned a lot more about hosting at state parks in Oregon, as the folks parked next to us have been doing it for three years.  After we got set up, we headed back to Brian’s place in Junction City to get some more fresh milk and eggs, and then went to the grocery store to stock up.  Then it was back for a game or two of cards and bed.

Bob Vinson came over in the morning to start the process of determining what was up with our Living Room slide.  As mentioned before, it skips on the rear end when coming in…not right!  After we ran it in and out a few times, Bob did a lot of testing, and made some adjustments.  The great thing about Bob and the rest of the gang is that they educate you along the way…show you how to do this yourself in the future if need be.  We made some adjustments to the height of the slide, which needed to be done, but that still didn’t fix the skipping issue.  After all other tests and whatnot, we determined that we needed to tear the soffit apart inside and see what was going on:

Always nice to have the inside of your house torn apart!!  This was after we had the soft off which exposed the chain and drive line for the hydraulic slide.

Always nice to have the inside of your house torn apart!! This was after we had the soffit off which exposed the chain and drive line for the hydraulic slide.

Makes for a nice mess in your living room!!

Makes for a nice mess in your living room!!

So…after all the tests and everything else, it was determined that the upper left hydraulic ram is bad.  Bob has a call into HWH Systems in the midwest to see how soon they can get a new ram out here.  Dang!  Does it ever stop??  So, we put everything back in place with not as many screws as normal, just so we can live reasonably for a few days.  It’s all good.

After that, I finally got a call back from the insurance company.  They said I had a few options:  A:  Call Coach Glass in Eugene (who I knew services Country Coach and would have my glass in stock, but are a competitor with Duncan) and see if they can get the estimate approved; 2. Wait 5-7 days for Duncan to send a glass out and figure out who can replace it, or C (LOL) Wait until we get in an area that Duncan has more service!  I chose A!  Not only because they are local and have my glass in stock, but because Bob and Kevin know them well, and when I called them and mentioned their names, it was like someone turned a lever…these guys all worked at Country Coach together back in the day.  This was service extraordinaire!

In short order, I got a call back from Coach Glass saying they had talked to Duncan and the paper work was in process, and they set a soft appointment for Wed morning to get my wind shield replaced on site!  I don’t even have to travel to Eugene, and that is great.  OK…you are likely now thinking, there is no way I’m getting into this RV thing…what a bunch of problems.  Well, if that is the way you are wired, and tend to not do well with adversity when it strikes, you are probably right.  For us, after a lot of research and forward thinking, we knew it would likely be this way.  We are blessed to be in an area that we can get things done, and done right hopefully.  There will always be issues, whether you own a “sticks and bricks” or a home on wheels.  All of these repairs are quite a bit beyond what we had budgeted for this year, but “it is what it is.”  All of our repairs combined, and figuring in what we are likely to spend here, is still less than if we had purchased an extended warranty on the Coach.  So there you have it…just one couples opinion.

Well, it is raining out right now, and we are enjoying it.  Terri got to check out some more of the local area while I was here with Bob, and she found a nice meat market and came home with some great burger, jalapeno sausages, and some of the best beef jerky I’ve had in a long time.

I’ll leave you with this…Terri and I were listening to some old-time radio the other night (no TV channels, remember?) and this Carpenters song came on.  It seems like an apropos theme song for our current way of life.  Think of the tune when reading the words if you are old enough to remember (truncated version):

  • We’ve only just begun, to live
  • White Lace and promises, a kiss for luck and we’re on our way
  • We’ve only just begun
  • Before the rising’ sun, we fly… So many roads to choose, we’ll start out walkin and learn to run, and yes, we’ve just begun
  •  Sharing horizons that are new to us
  • Watching the signs along the way
  • Talkin it over, just the two of us
  • Workin together day to day…together!
  • And when the evening comes, we smile!
  • So much of life ahead, we’ll find a place where there’s room to grow
  • And yes…we’ve just begun
  • White lace and promises, a kiss for luck and we’re on our way!!!

That’s it for now folks…as always, we hope you are Happy, Healthy, and Living Your Dreams!!!!!

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