Sunday, June 30, 2019

Little Luxuries: Could You Live Without These?

Intense sunset off St. Helens Marina docks. We live a life of luxury, relatively, when there.
Wandering Star, docked just across from us, belongs Robin and Barbara Scott. Robin
taught my former West Marine 
colleague, Jon Copper, to play the bagpipes. Small world.
Does the concept of chucking your land lubber life intrigue you? What would you give up to live aboard?

Stuff - Less Is Not Just More, It's Essential
Our current living space is a mere 350 square feet.  

I do have a small storage area, mostly paperwork, photos and art, that takes up about 4' x 4' square feet, and could take up less. One of my summertime goals is to reduce and digitize my photos, pare down my paperwork, stow what's left aboard without cluttering up the boat, risking waterlogging or placing it someplace impossible to get to. Then I will ditch the storage area. I don't have any possessions squirreled away anywhere else.  That's it!

I was so excited that I could make my morning chai in seconds, since I could plug in
our "billy" while we're at the docks at St. Helens Marina.
Practically Powerless
When we're at anchor or tied off on a primitive dock without any water or externally provided electricity, there's a limit to how much we want to or can tax our mostly battery-powered modern conveniences.  We will spend most of this summer untethered, as we did for the five years we sailed halfway around the world.

"What's the point?" my crusty former West Marine colleague Captain Paul asked, when we bought and returned a non-Honda generator. "Aren't you trying to get away from it all?" Yeah, mostly. The desire to use power tools for boat maintenance and repair prompted its purchase. Much as I'd like to say we totally unplug, we do use power for our laptops, whether it's keeping in touch with friends and family, doing some freelance writing or this blog post, or catching a movie.

Untethered, Wayne misses the toaster and microwave the most. For me, it's the billy, our quick electric hot water heater and a blender. Our mini vacuum cleaner gets charged up when we're docked but when we do use it on battery power, its get-up-and-go leaves within a few seconds run time. And our shop vac and most of Wayne's few power tools will only work when docked with power. As the generator didn't work out, those tasks will now have to wait until docking.

Wayne recently added a pair of solar panels. With the Pacific Northwest's long summertime hours, that's enough to give us at least a couple more days of keeping our tiny fridge/freezer running and our laptops juiced up. They're our most power-hungry conveniences.

What appliances would you have to forgo aboard? Coffeemaker? Food processor? Hair dryer? If it's got a plug, it's of limited use aboard. Washer? Dryer? Dishwasher? For the vast majority of boats, fergitaboutit!

We'll pick up a reliable Honda 2000 generator as backup before we head up to Alaska as the stretches between powerup spots can be substantial. We relied on a Honda generator on our halfway around the world sail. The longest stretch at sea was 32 days and well over 3,000 miles, between Galapagos and the French Marquesas. No need for a heater there, but those tropical waters made our fridge work harder to keep our perishables from perishing and for autopilot, GPS, VHF radio and for us, other essential electronics.
One of our neighbor boats at the St. Helens Marina, host to a wide range of boats. Ready doesn't look ready though.
What's your daily routine? 

For me, it starts with whether I believe it's too bloody cold to get out of bed. Yeah, my husband teases me about being a hothouse flower, and indeed I fare far better in tropical heat than I do in anything less than 72 degrees. Pathetic, but there you have it.

Since we arrived back in the Pacific Northwest on Memorial weekend, most mornings are in the 40s to low 60s aboard.  All parts stand up to frigid attention (aka, tough something-else) when I reluctantly roll out of bed on all but the hottest of Pacific Northwest summer days. 

We have two electric space heaters. When we're at a dock, plugged into electricity, we can heat our bedroom.  Or our salon. Running both at the same time would blow a fuse.  No dock? Want to heat the bedroom and the salon? Tough noogies. 

Away from external power, we can run a propane heater in the salon, which is where we usually hang out aboard. Turning on the stove or oven helps, too. Otherwise, we bundle up. And the bedroom is cold to bed, cold to rise.
This weather drove us into a marina. If the point of being on the hook was
to enjoy the outdoors and get some boat work done in the sun, by contrast.
this weather inspired us to go city. Today the marina water supply and docks
made it easy to finally get the green scum off the bottom of our dinghy.
Shower Bliss - Maybe. Sometimes. Sorta.
If away from a powered dock, unless we've run the engine, which we rarely do except when we've got a reason to move the boat, the only way we have hot water for a shower or sponge bath is to heat it up on the stove. If I want a good hair wash, I take advantage of whenever we're someplace that has ample hot water and good water pressure. St. Helens city docks, for example, charges $2/5 minute shower. I happily dole out my eight quarters for that luxury.

When we do acquire hot water from an engine run, with light water volume -- which makes sense as water tanks are far from bottomless  -- showers take a while. Despite that, our tiny old shower sump pump doesn't always keep up. 

Nothing kills my shower zen quicker than my husband having to descend into the engine room to take care of the pump because of my shower. That said, we are lucky enough to have a nice tub-shower on our boat. And eventually we'll replace the pump, which should eliminate the stress of the occasional shower-us-interruptus. 
We may not be loving these cool rainy days, but these marina flowers are!
Stinky Is As Stinky Does
It doesn't take much for a little odor to permeate a tiny space. Because of that, when I can, I do #2 off the boat. If we're at anchor, it's on the boat.  That's all there is to it. If there is a toilet off the boat, it's probably not a flush toilet. When it is, and even sometimes when it's not. I'm happy to walk a half a mile to keep the boat fresher.

Like RVs, whether #1 or #2, it all goes into a tank. At some point, that tank gets full. Unlike gas tanks, there's no gauge to monitor how full that tank is. We make our best guess on when to get a pumpout. Usually, we go to a pumpout station. Sometimes, if we're staying put in a marina for a while, we pay a service to come to us to pump out. 

Names for these purveyors? Royal Flush in Portland. Waste Away in St. Helens. Roche Harbor's Phecal Phreak, wth the "We take crap from anyone" amuses me most. 

Every once in a while, we guess wrong on how long we have before our cup runneth over. Ugh.
Phecal Phreak, Roche Harbor, San Juans. Photo liberated from the web.
Not sure where the photos I took of Phecal Phreak in Riche are hiding.
Landlocked vs Boatbound
Get together with friends? Got some errands to run? Hankering for a Sunday drive?

Unless they're boating with you, meeting friends is only an option when you step ashore. Easy in a marina unless you need a car and yours is nowhere nearby. Or a possibility if you're someplace your friends are willing to drive to. Uber, Lyft and mass transit are typically absent most good boat-able spots. 

Even a walk isn't an option unless you're docked or can dinghy ashore.

I have a kayak on order to give Wayne the freedom to stay in one place while I can go to another. The kayak will be my solo ticket from boat to shore, or boat to shore to car. It's a 5-mile paddle, one way, from where we'll anchor most of this summer to my car. Wayne points out kayaking 5 miles to drive to join friends for a long hike, then kayaking 5 miles afterward in the dark may not be practical. TBD what will be....
This fawn was among the dozen deer or so seen on my St. Helen's Oregon walk around town earlier this week.
All Those Sacrifices... Why Do It?
Simplicity. There's nothing more satisfying than to start your be awakened by birdsong, spending a day in the sunshine, walking a sandy beach, cooking a simple meal, watching an uncluttered sunset, followed with the cosmic blanket of a starry night, ending the day getting gently rocked to sleep. Yeah, worth it. Most definitely worth it.

Not everyone needs to be as minimalist as us. Bigger boats. Internal power generators. Staying in marinas. Maintaining a residence in addition to your boat. 

Yet, we owe nothing. Our expenses are minimal. We are flexible and free.

"Get your a--es up!" shouted our sailboat neighbor from his dinghy, buzzing us.

Indeed, the day awaits!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Masked Bandits

 "Oh sure. wait until you get a picture until you chase him off," Wayne chided.
Masked bandit doing the rounds at the Gilbert River dock on Multnomah Channel.
"Bacon?" Wayne believes he's asking.
True. But the raccoon, aka, masked bandit, looked like it was both interested and capable of clambering aboard our boat. 

"Each of their front feet has five dexterous toes, allowing raccoons to grasp and manipulate food and other items," reveals the Washington State Department of Wildlife.
The raccoon demonstrates it's more curious (or hungry?) than shy as itgets closer.
"Don’t feed raccoons," the website warns, in bold text. "Feeding raccoons may create undesirable situations for you, your children, neighbors, pets, and the raccoons themselves. Raccoons that are fed by people often lose their fear of humans and may become aggressive when not fed as expected."

With open garbage cans and who-knows-what goo left behind by fishing folks, we get that made this dock aside a Gilbert River boat launch raccoon nirvana. Raccoons are happy to scavenge and this was likely part of its regular rounds.

I know the difference between Rocket Raccoon as an anthrophomized "Guardians of the Galaxy" animated character and the real deal. This guy (or gal -- I didn't check) was not shy.
Yup, that's our boat the raccoon's looking up at. Gilbert River, Multnomah Channel, Portland Oregon area.
Isn't he cute" Wayne asked, looking at the picture as I worked on this post. "Don't you feel guilty about chasing him off?" 

Nope. I don't.
Note the position of the raccoon's foot, before I shooed it away by yelling at it and waving my hands.
(It was dusk deeping to darkness - harder to get crisp pictures of a moving critter)
Location Location
To escape the winds and chop and rocking on the Columbia River,* we tucked into Multnomah Channel, a calmer tributary. We tied off at the older of the two Gilbert River docks. The one we picked allowed us to walk to Sauves' beach. N45 47.505.W122 47.978. That was last week. At the moment, we're tied off on the public dock at St. Helens, Oregon, 

*more on what exactly prompted us to skedaddle into Multnomah Channel in a future post
Serendipity, tied off at a calmer than Columbia River spot at Gilbert River,
Multnomah Channel, Portland Oregon area.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Soggy Homecoming: What Awaited After Eight Months Away

Serendipity at Portland Rowing Club's docks in Sellwood, a stone's throw from the Sellwood Bridge, Portland Oregon.
She's the Puget Trawler, the last one on the dock, with the blue canvas on her windows.
Portland gave us a hale and hearty wet welcome home. It was cold, and gray, and raining. In the 50s in the day, 40s at night temps were about 20 degrees below normal for typical spring weather. After leaving Florida in 90 degree weather two weeks earlier, it was a little depressing.

At least Serendipity was still afloat! We breathed a sigh of relief. We were home.

We had a Prius-worth of stuff in the car to bring aboard. It's amazing just how much a Prius can hold! It's a little overwhelming, initially, to figure out where it goes.... Serendipity's about 350 feet of living space, including storage, and we try to keep her relatively uncluttered.
Serendipity's brightwork, Wayne's project last summer, still looked good.
She was still heavily tarped to make up for not sitting in a covered moorage slip.
And what would she look like inside? We expected at least some leaks....

First, we checked the basics....

The water worked. Yay!

Seeing all the standing water on our portside rail was disconcerting. However, it wasn't
a source for leaks. A few leaves cleared away and the drains were back in biz.
The head worked. Hmmm. No pump-out at the marina so we weren't too sure how full of s--- they were (we found out before too long, fuller than we expected)....

We're not entirely sure how we ended up with a science experiment in the 'fridge, but that was easy to fix, and the fridge still was in good working order.

The electricity sort of worked. Sort of. Initially. The batteries were nearly dead. Even plugged into dock power, they were weak. Then our power cable shorted out. Somehow it got so stressed, the head of the power cable separated from the covered part of the cord. The wires in between were exposed and shorted out, exuding a horrible electrical burning smell.

We had a backup cable, which we squeaked by on. Wayne patched up what he could and promptly looked into battery replacements. He also replaced our entire "house bank,*" of six 12-volt batteries, to the tune of $1076. Ouch! Batteries are awkwardly heavy! We're grateful to my friend Connie's son, Marty, for helping heft the dead ones out and into the car and the new ones down into the engine room.

*The house bank does everything electrical except support the engine start.
Wayne sussing out what was required to fix Serendipity's fried smart plug. It stunk.
Wayne's hard work last summer successfully eliminated a longtime leak over our bed.

However, the area that held our spare boat parts was completely soaked, as was the shelf where we set a blanket and the drawers where I normally stored my clothes. The drawers were empty so nothing was lost there. We were much less fortunate with most of our spare parts. The blanket was tossed, too.

Wayne traced the leak to the window caulking just above the area. Once he replaced the caulking, the leak stopped.

The area still needed to be dry before it could be used. A few days of running the heater -- doable on dock power -- took care of that.

About 750 pounds worth of stuff, dropped off at Greyhound's depot -- a gas station -- in Melbourne Florida. 
We also needed to connect with about 750 pounds of stuff from Florida moved by Greyhound. Those 14 boxes were supposed to have been delivered to a friend's garage nearby. Instead it took phone calls,  a visit to the Portland depot and still more phone calls before it was finally delivered. It sat in the Portland Greyhound depot for a week and a half prior to delivery. I managed to get all of it in two Prius runs. Some was brought aboard. The remainder needed to go into a storage area.  I spent a couple days finding one. It's hard to find a small storage area! Mine is 5' x 5' -- the smallest I could find.

My goal is to eliminate the need for the storage area and find a temporary home only for a few pieces of artwork.
Goslings! And these Canadian geese babies cute? They were also marina "residents."
There were some lighter moments.... When we lived aboard during the Canadian geese mating season in spring of 2018, we cursed the raucous geese . By arriving in June, we bypassed that and got to enjoy the byproduct of all that f---ing ruckus -- goslings!

Spring, however, was still in full bloom this June. The Pacific Northwest puts on one heckuva a show.
The flowers were loving the cool, wet weather. Nigella blossoming in Portland's adjacent Sellwood neighborhood.
Ultimately, within a week, everything came together "enough."

We were able to cast our lines off and go a few days before our desired deadline.

We're grateful to the generosity of friends who let us store our boat in their slip for free.

If we had it to do over, what would we do differently?

Because we weren't sure if we'd be gone eight months or a year and eight months, covered storage was a bit outside our budget. While the boat was well tarped, we would go with dry storage instead. Or if we couldn't do that, we'd at least  pay a competent boat expert to look in on the boat monthly, start the engine, check the electrical, check for leaks and report in.

Larry, Serendipity's former owner, if he's reading this, is shaking his head, thinking if not also saying "I told you so!"

Meanwhile, we're making up for it in boat repairs, maintenance and improvements. Serendipity and her batteries like her brand two new solar panels, and we're picking up a generator for her this week. Wayne's still sorting out the best way to handle our teak decks. Larry, we promise to make you proud. Serendipity's still raking in the compliments from the work Wayne did last summer.

Work aside, we're enjoying life on the river together this summer, watching ospreys and bald eagles soar past, chasing away itinerant racoons, taking in the sunshine when she shines, alternately thanking and cursing the winds and the currents....

Stay tuned for more about our adventures and learn from our oopsies. Much as we learn, we find there's still new mistakes to be made. Guaranteed, we can make you envious of this life, appreciative of your creature comforts, and give you some good laughs along the way.

Regardless of mishaps and sacrifices, life on the water is strangely addictive. For us, home is still where the boat is.

Location Location
At the moment, we're awaiting the moonrise off Coon Island, Multnomah Channel. It's in between St. Helens and Sauvies Island, West of Portland Oregon, N45 46.097 W122 48.974.
At the moment, we're tied off at the dock of Coon Island, in the Multnomah Channel, Oregon.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Home! FL > PNW Cross-Country Roundup

Hood River Bridge, from the Oregon side.  Built in 1924, it is the 2nd oldest Oregon>Washington bridge
across the Columbia River, preceded by the Interstate Bridge in 1917.
We were coming down the home stretch, just a few hours drive from our boat in Portland Oregon. We were both excited and anxious. We were almost home! Was our boat still afloat? What would need to be done to it after it sat idle for eight month? Boats do not like sitting idle!
Nancy and Doug Yoes. Us Hewlett-Packard alums stick together.
First, though, we enjoyed the spending the night and morning with longtime friends Nancy and Doug Yoes. We've kept up through the years, even though it's been a long time since we worked together at Hewlett Packard (aka HP). 

While I chose to leave HP (with a generous voluntary severance package after surviving massive downsizing and more still expected), what I miss most about HP is the awesome folks I worked with. More than anyplace else I worked, I loved working and playing with with my colleagues there. I feel humbled and grateful so many of us continue to keep in touch.

Wayne, good naturedly put up with Doug, Nancy and me reminiscing about "the good ole days at HP." I literally laughed so hard I wet my pants with the group Doug and I used to work in - they were that funny! Who expects your colleagues to run a tortilla through a company printer at a trade show? Or mime the company CEO in the midst of a company profit-sharing announcement with a puppet fashioned from his image torn from an annual report? The list goes on, but probably isn't nearly as funny as it was to those of us who were there. We also did some amazing work along the way, I'm still proud to be part of.
Grass is greener in the Yoes Irrigon Oregon backyard, overlooking the Columbia River.
Doug and Nancy's place offered a great view of the mighty Columbia River.  I-84 mostly parallels the Columbia. I'd never been further East on it than Arlington. Back then, it was on a futile effort to chase the wind to windsurf from Hood River, on a blistering hot day. I never stopped to look around.
Abandoned shacks near the Hood River Oregon bridge.
Despite living in the small town of Hood River* for three years, I'm embarrassed to admit, I don't recall these abandoned weathered shacks alongside the river. Granted, I moved away from Hood River about 20 years ago. Someday, though, I need to find out more about those shacks. It looks like they have a story to tell.

*My only experience living in a small town, unless you count my brief stint with Youth Conservation Corps 13 miles outside of the town of Happy Camp, California.
The recently rebuilt Sellwood Bridge, Portland Oregon. View from where our boat sat for the last 8 months.
Then, finally, after 3,600 or so miles, we arrived, back where we started from when we left last September. 

For this post, I will simply say it was with great relief, our boat was still there, docked, afloat at Portland Rowing Club's marina. More in a future post on what we found.
A rare meal out for us, at Thailahnna in Sellwood, Portland Oregon.
Even though we returned to our favorite PNW grocery stores to set up our galley again, it was time to celebrate.  Besides, we returned to cold, rainy weather. Maybe I'm spoiled, but I felt like I needed a break. I wanted to eat something different, let someone else to steam up their kitchen and give me a break from doing the clean-up afterward, too.

We don't eat out often, so we especially appreciate it when we do and the meal is a good one. At Thailahnna the food looked as good as it tasted, and with leftovers, we got two meals out of it.
Roses blooming, Sellwood neighborhood, Portland Oregon. Portland's nickname is the City of Roses.
Cross-country Tips & Take-aways
What did we learn over 3,600 or so miles, crossing from the Southeast to the Northwest? Our second go at this in less than a year, in reverse.

  1. Thriving small towns appear to be vanishing across America. We feel a deep sense of loss about that, especially for those small towns able to survive with independent businesses, rather than the all too ubiquitous Dollar General. And why the heck don't navigation systems give you an option to go through rather than avoid Main Streets? Fastest isn't always best.
  2. Even taking the byways, unless we slowed down, we usually thought there was no wildlife. For example, zipping through Louisiana's low country.... We stopped, briefly. In what formerly looked like barren wetlands, we could could see birdlife thriving
  3. Our long term travel goal is to spend less time crossing broad expanses quickly, and more time in smaller areas, getting a better sense of what life there is like. We knew that taking the byways is better for us than the interstates, but that we we barely skimmed the surface of this vast land called the United States.
  4. Call it global warming or just plain weird weather. Despite hit a big patch of unseasonably cold weather which we weren't quite prepared for, we feel incredibly lucky. We just barely missed tornadoes and flooding - some truly catastrophic weather.
  5. We skipped our planned exploration of the Southwest  -- Grand Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands and Gunnison of the Black Canyon -- because of weird weather. We'd also rather come back and explore it more deeply on a dedicated trip, than too quickly, passing through. We'll return with our hiking and camping gear and not a car-load full of our most valuable possessions that would be left behind while we're hiking, camping or backpacking.
  6. We were generally happier with meals we brought with us or bought and could put together easily from the grocery store than eating out. It was faster, easier on our pocketbook and generally better for us (gummy bears and other indulgences aside). At least with grocery nutritional labeling we knew what we were getting. Our motel rooms nearly always had at least a fridge and a microwave.
  7. Google maps rocks for getting the best prices for last minute lodging passing through. It works best when you dig down to contact the hotel directly.  Plan far enough to head if you're traveling empty stretches between towns to use it when you have wifi. Yes, we learned that the hard way (on prior travels).
  8. It's stunning how much stuff fits in a Prius, and how much faster speeds, hills and air conditioning impacts mileage. While the Prius is relatively comfortable, if we didn't want to feel crotchety, we needed to stop at least every two hours to get out and stretch. In lots of ways, my Prius is an awesome trip car. Still... If we move cross-country again, would it make more sense to fly? Tallying up our road trip costs will make for an interesting comparison. Flights and a mover and what to do with our car in exchange for taking a dedicated vacation in a smaller area. TBD. 
  9. We're grateful this trip gave us an excuse to catch up with friends and family. Thank you Jule, Mark and Patty, Holly, Doug and Nancy. We appreciated talking to someone besides each other. 
  10. While we missed out on a golden opportunity to listen to stories and podcasts on our dive, it was a good time to enjoy the silence and take more notice of our surroundings. Most of what we saw, we will probably never see again. Passing though Irma's wake is a stark reminder as well you never know when a landscape can change forever.
Location Location
This is the last post of our cross-country trip. We arrived in Portland three weeks ago, in the middle of Memorial weekend, before the Rose Festival.  

At some point, I will tally up our miles and expenses and update this post for those curious on how to make the trip on a relatively tight budget. Also, we will review that data as we make our future decisions on what does and doesn't pencil out.

We are currently tied off on a public dock on Sauvie's Island Oregon on the Gilbert River off the Multnomah Channel, N45 47.505 W122 47.978.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Shoshone Falls, Chicken Panhandler & the Old West - Idaho > Eastern Oregon: Cross-Country Day 13

Shoshone Falls, Idaho.
Shoshone Falls, Idaho
Shoshone Falls is taller than Niagara Falls (212 feet tall vs. 167 feet), and without the commercialism -- though once upon a time there were some efforts to commercialize it. Based on the photos we saw of it at an Idaho welcome center rest stop, we decided it was worth a 45-minute detour off I-84. Shoshone was formed as part of the great flood 14,000-17,000 years ago, in the pleistocene era.
What Shoshone Falls looked like in 1874 before they were dammed. Photo by  Timothy H. O'Sullivan,
A shadow of its former grandeur, Shoshone was dammed in 1905 to irrigate an area now known as the Magic Valley. We lucked out and saw Shoshone at a near peak flow. In 2013 it ran almost completely dry over the summer. At its peak,the falls pump out up to 20,000 cubic feet of water per second, but has dropped as low as 300 feet per second.
Hanson Bridge overlook of Snake River Canyon near Shoshone Falls, Idaho
Snake River Canyon 
Evel Knievel busted his nose, a small price to pay after narrowly surviving drowning when his rocket-powered motorcycle didn't quite make it across the Snake River Canyon in 1974. The same wind that prevented his crossing completion just barely lifted him to safety via parachute.  A little less than three years ago, in 2016, stuntman Eddie Braun was the first and so far only person to successfully cross above Snake River Canyon without going over the bridge.

Snake River Canyon is 50 miles long, and as wide as a quarter mile. The ice-age formed Snake River runs for nearly 1,100 miles. It starts in Yellowstone, and "ends" where it dumps into the Columbia River.
Eccentric veteran panhandler at Easter Oregon rest stop.
Oregon Rest Stop
As we crossed the Oregon border, we were welcomed by a "Got Weed" billboard, as recreational marijuana, aka pot, is legal in Oregon.  

The I-84 speed limit dropped from 80 mph to a more leisurely 70 mph. We wound our way through the rolling hills dotted with sagebrush and accented with bright yellow carpets of wild mustard.

I appreciated the ingenuity of a panhandler we met at the rest stop, with his camper and his chicken. Another admirer recalled him from prior years. and noted he had a different chicken then.
Henry the chicken.
This friendly chicken, according to his owner, was named Henry. Henry, unlike his "mean" predecessor Ernie, "Didn't have a mean bone in his body." I never did think to ask the name of Henry's owner, but did feel obliged to make a donation for the pleasure of taking photos of him and Henry.
We stopped in Baker City  Oregon for gas at a spendy $3.25/gallon, but this sign lured us in for a spin through town.
Antlers "Absolutely Modern" Hotel in Baker City descriptor amused me.
Baker City steer Main street sculpture.
Baker City Geiser Grand Hotel, built in 1889.
Baker City Oregon
Platted in 1865, to support gold mining and the railroads, it took Baker City nine years to be considered a city. In its heyday, it became the biggest city between Salt Lake City Utah and Portland Oregon.

With about half of Baker City's of the 130 buildings in Baker's historic downtown built between the mid 1800s and 1915, Baker is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Clint Eastwood was among the stars who roamed Baker City for the filming of "Paint Your Wagona musical comedy Western released in 1969. I credit Lee Marvin's crooning for making it a comedy, which featured a feminist spin on the Mormon approach, with the leading lady claiming two husbands.

Baker City's current population is roughly 10,000.
Pendleton sidewalk sign. What could be more appropriate for this rodeo town?
Beautiful detail on the sign's saddle.

Pendleton cafe, its architecture consistent with the other downtown businesses.
Pendleton Oregon
Still hankering for more of Eastern Oregon's tiny Old West towns, we stopped in Pendleton, another Oregon town on the Historic Register. 

The town got its start around the same era as Baker City, when William McKay planted his trading post there in 1851. The Oregon Legislature got around to incorporating it in 1880.

The town's probably best known for it annual rodeo the Pendleton Roundup. The rodeo's run for over 100 years, and always starting the second week of September.

We rolled through early afternoon on a Friday on the eve of Memorial weekend. The town was quiet. We wondered what percent of Pendleton's business relied on the Roundup. There is of course also Pendleton Woollen Mills, still going strong. 
Pendleton's Lot Livermore House
Pendleton's LL Rogers House.
Pendleton Arts Center, perched alongside Umatilla River.
Pendleton Methodist Church
We weren't quite as charmed with the business architecture in Pendleton as we were with Baker City's. There were some gorgeous homes, many with placards spelling out their historical origins. 
Peonies in Pendleton. Rare to see them in yellow.
Violas, making their way as volunteers on a home's retaining wall.
Despite the chill and gloom, gardens brightened the afternoon. I especially loved the violas, also known as Johnny jump-ups, making their way through an otherwise barren retaining wall.

Alas, while Pendleton deserves much more than our brief stop and this slight mention in my post, we didn't stay long. We were looking forward to connecting with friends in nearby Irrigon, who were graciously hosting us for the night.

More on that in my final post on our cross-country road trip. Then it's on to what happens to a boat left idle eight months and what we're up to now. And I need to make more headway writing my book!

Location Location
We visited Shoshone, Baker and Pendleton May 24, 2019. We are currently on our boat, Serendipity, docked at St. Helens, Oregon.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

New Friends, Old Friends, Utah to Idaho: Day 12 Cross Country

Dramatic spire points a finger skyward from the rocky buttes and rolling hills outside Price Utah.
A moment can make all the difference between an indifferent transaction and a personal connection. Diane, who runs Price Utah's Legacy Inn with her Mom, gave an honest answer when we asked where to eat. We were looking for cheap, fast and not too greasy.

"Go to the market across the way. They have a decent deli counter," she advised. We did and were quite satisfied. We didn't get off as cheap as we'd have liked, but that's what happens when you shop hungry. We left with a decent dinner of salads, chicken and lots of easy-to-eat road food that would constitute sever
al meals for us.

The next morning, I was the first person there to gather our breakfast, and was able to ask about the two gowns displayed in the hotel lobby / breakfast area I'd noticed checking in the night before. They were colorful, a swirl of vibrant red and black and white, trimmed with lace and paired with bold necklaces. I asked if they were Polish, a part of my ancestry I had little exposure to. Diane had fond memories of her Mom, Sophia, wearing them to celebrations when they lived in Chicago. I wished I had more time to get a better sense of what that was like and what brought them to Price. We exchanged emails, so perhaps I can learn more.

Sophia gave me a warm hug when I turned in our keys for checkout.
One last snowy pass on shortcut highway 6, before we dropped into the Salt Lake City area.
That warm hug was much appreciated as paid $3.19/gallon for gas in town, then headed into our final high snowy pass. Our goal was to touch the fringe of the Salt Lake City area around lunchtime. 

Again we wondered about the demise of so many small frontier towns. Some were hanging in there, like historic Helper, Utah. When I first saw the billboard for "Historic Helper" I was thinking it was some new phone application to help me learn more about the history of small towns, which would be really cool. 

Nope. Turns out Helper is a former rail town, which later became a coal mining town, a veritable hotbed of ethnic diversity in its heyday, as is often the case where much cheap labor is required.

Again, we wondered, what made places like Spring Glen and Salt Lake City a mecca for the then far more exclusive Mormons? It's a mystery for folks like us, speeding through.

Approaching Salt Lake City, it was kind of depressing after so many far flung small towns, to enter the ugliness of sudden suburbia with its big squares and rectangles of homes and strip malls, seemingly fighting each other for limited space.

Fortunately, in Salt Lake City, we were connecting with a friend, Holly Stokes, who relocated back to the Salt Lake area, where most of her family lives, from Vancouver Washington. 

it was good see Holly happy, and healthy, her wellness business re-establishing itself quickly there. She was tickled that she could easily take a half day off work to get in skiing and scarcely had to leave her neighborhood to do it.
This wind farm sprouted as we descended down and passed through a tunnel.
It was good to see some clean energy taking hold in the heart of this coal country.
Thanks to the gracious hosting of another friend. this would be our last night in a hotel room. The Boise Idaho area was a good place to stop and not pop in on our friends in Irrigon Oregon too early the next day. 

We still kept close to our $100 maximum for a room, but by trading off a stroll in downtown Boise, we got a pretty cush room at Candlewood Suites in Meridian, Idaho. A few seconds essence of eau du cow outside was a reasonable trade for a super comfortable king-sized bed in a nonsmoking room with real plates and silverware, a full-sized fridge/freezer, microwave and a dishwasher.... We didn't take the time to use the gym or hot tub or check out the board games, but we didn't rush out the door in the morning either.  It was a good splurge. The room was just too nice not to appreciate it. I spent a month at a Residence Inn when I first started working for Hewlett-Packard. Candlewood Suites was definitely giving Residence Inn a run for the money.
Utah's portion of the Rocky Mountains (as seen from our car window, underway).
Still, we had one more day of driving and one more night on the road, and a few hours drive the next day before finding out what awaited us on our boat moored in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland Oregon.

Location Location
We're docked at St. Helens Oregon at the moment, though still playing catch up on one or two more posts of our road trip from Florida to the Portland area. Keep following it to learn about what it's like to return to a boat after leaving it for eight months.