We we got up this morning there was frost on the car which was not unexpected at 6000’and 35°. On the drive up we passed several spots that still had snow on the ground left over from the park’s 44 foot annual accumulation.
While walking around the Mazama Village where we were staying there were numerous tall sticks lining the roadway. These are there so the snow plows know where to clear. At the top (where the red dot is) is a bit of reflective tape to help the drivers pick them out.
This our home for tonight, Casa Rubio. It is right on the beach. What made it even better was there as a restaurant about a 100 yards away that we could walk to and the food was fantstic. We were so close to the Oregon/California border, about 800 feet, if Oregon where to invade California this would be the first line of defense.
We started the day amongst the coastal northern California’s tall trees…
Which quickly turned into southern Oregon’s rocky coast…
And ended up at central Oregon’s sand dune filled coast.
After breakfast we headed a couple miles south (backwards) to poke around one of the dune parks. From the parking areas it is about 50 foot climb up to the top of the dune and then 50 feet down done to the beach. For a sense of scale, that spot about halfway down from the top at about the left 1/3 of the photo is a person climbing up the dune.
There are sections of the park set aside just for off-roading. These purpose built quads sit at the top of the dune watching several others do the hill climb thing.
The Heceta Head Lighthouse is normally open for tours, but is being restored,so we had to settle for a photograph of it from an overlook on the other side of the bay.
This photo was from a stone shelter built in the ‘30s at the end of the the St. Perpetua Trail. The trail is 1.3 miles long one way and climbs 830′ from the Visitor’s Center to the shelter on the tallest place on the Oregon coast.
Today was a “rest day” as we stayed in the same hotel for a second night. We did a little exploring in the area. Tomorrow we have 250 miles to get to SeaTac to catch a plane home and about 13 hours to get there, so hopefully even with Labor Day traffic we’ll get there in time.
First stop was the famous Tillamook Cheese Factory. There is a self guided tour with history and such, plus an observation deck so you can watch cheese being packaged. There was also a line where you could taste the cheese for free, but it was too long, so rather than wait we bought a sample package for three bucks in the gift shop.
Just south of town was a small state park that showcased a 319′ waterfall. The trail was closed short of allowing you to get to the base of Munson Creek Falls, not because they didn’t want you there, but because many large trees have fallen blocking the way.
The one place we paid to get into today was the Tillamook Air Museum and it was well worth it. It is housed in the one remaining blimp hangers built here for coastal defense during World War Two. The air museum inside has many interesting aircraft and a ton of WWII memorabilia.
In the late afternoon we headed out to Cape Meares to get dinner at one of the small towns on the coast there and catch a sunset over the Pacific. We managed one of two. Dinner was at a small cafe in Oceanside, but the sunset was called on account of the fog rolling in. All that white space to the right of the 38′ tall Cape Meares Lighthouse would be the blue of the sky and water, but for the fog that blanketed the peninsula.
We stopped at Cannon Beach and unlike our last visit, the weather was foggy and cold. Also unlike our last visit we were armed with a GPSr. We nabbed a couple geocaches for souvenirs this time.
Lewis and Clark were stuck here just on the Washington side of the Columbia River opposite Astoria in a howling winter storm with no food for almost a week, so they named it a dismal nitch. We called it a dismal nitch because we had to put our coats on to walk the 1/4 mile to a geocache. We obviously have a very different comfort level in 2011 than they did in 1805.
Here is a picture of one half of one of the last standing movable bridges in Washington State, the Raymond steel swing bridge, crossing the Willapa River. The other half (of the picture, not the bridge) was lost due to my unfamiliarity with the camera’s panorama function.
The view from our seats at Salty’s On Alki restaurant where we ate our last vacation style (read, expensive) meal before turning in the rental car and shuttling to the airport.
Our rental car for the past nine days was a Chevy Cruze and it was a pleasant surprise. The seats were leather covered with built in heaters (nice in the cool northwest, but we only used them once to test them), were very comfortable and reasonably supportive. The steering was weighted nicely, plus the wheel was fat and also leather covered. Response was peppy enough and the automatic transmission was geared pretty well, seldom left hunting for just the right one. The trunk swallowed our large suitcase, two carry-ons and a laptop bag with plenty of room for any impulse souvenir purchases. I noticed only a couple of short comings, limited rear legroom with tall front seat occupants and the interior could be noisy at speed, but nothing more than expected at this size and price point.
In almost all two lane driving, with plenty of ups and downs, twisty road coast roads and slow small town driving the car returned a very nice 32.9 MPG. We drove 1624 miles and spent a total of $191, using 49.3 gallons of gas. The cheapest regular gas was $3.719 in Florence, OR and the most expensive was $4.049 in Smith River, CA. The average cost per gallon for the trip was $3.875.
Way back in March when we started planning our just completed trip, I went to the websites of the three states we were visiting and ordered up travel guides and maps. About a month to go before we hit the sky, we realized we never did hear from Washington State. So I went back to the Washington State Tourism website and filled out the request again.
Guess what was waiting for us in the mail when we got back yesterday?
Started up, went down, still down.
Miata Top Transitions since 10/24/08: 1064
We originally thought that when we returned from out west, we would use the remaining days of the week on vacation to go Georgia State Park geocaching. Then, while we were on vacation, we thought we might just go back to work on Thursday & Friday, to save the vacation days for use at another time. Well, we ended up going with Plan A.
Spent about 15 minutes with a couple of train enthusiasts chatting railroading while we waited for a train to pass by here at the Folkston (GA) Funnel — From Wikipedia — With virtually all rail traffic headed to Florida passing through Folkston, the rail lines through the city have acquired the nickname “The Folkston Funnel”. As many as 60 trains a day pass through Folkston heading into and out of Florida, which some years draws ten times as many railfans as people who live in the city. To provide for a safe (and advantageous) viewing situation, the town has followed the example of another high-density rail town, Rochelle, Illinois, and has built a platform for visitors, along with picnic tables, chairs, BBQ pits, restrooms, and grills. And at night, lights shine from the platform onto the double rail so if someone wanted to, he or she could watch after sunset. Trains that come from the north move south toward Savannah, go through the Folkston Funnel, and arrive in Jacksonville. Trains that come from Florida do the same, just the opposite direction. At the covered viewing platform, there is an active scanner running and visitors can listen to train engineers as they run the trains through. As of 2006, there is also free WiFi for laptop users.
The Purple Wale passes 5,000 miles somewhere near Dublin, GA. We find 8 geocaches in 6 different counties, also fill in 3 DeLorme pages and snag 1 State Park.
The sun reflects off the Crooked River as viewed from the Georgia State Park of the same name. Six caches, five counties, one DeLorme page and one GA State Park.
Redbird Creek from the Lookout “Tower” in Fort McAllister State Park.
Just one GA State Park cache today and we counted it towards Bryan County as well. Since Thursday we managed 15 caches that counted as 21 towards our Georgia Challenges (13 counties, 5 DeLorme pages and 3 State Parks.) After the second day in a row of coastal Georgia we both agreed that we have seen enough salt marshes to last us for awhile. Which prompted Donna to ask why we never tired of the other coast’s big rocks and pounding surf? The only answer I could come up with is that it reminds our lizard brain of the sound of our mother’s heartbeat in the womb.
The blue-violet baleen has really needed a bath. Poor thing was just covered in jet exhaust film from ten days in an airport long term lot and the past three days worth of squashed low country bugs. This afternoon it got just that and an internal cleaning as well.
I don’t know exactly how they score them (I could look it up I guess*), but I hope that the combined total of 1 Wide Receiver and 1 Tight End don’t usually add up to 40 points. Right now my team is winning it’s “Game” 93 to 55, but my opponent has the two aforementioned position players from the New England Patriots who play on Monday night.
*OK, I looked it up: Every 10 receiving yards = 1 point, 2pt Receiving Conversion = 2 points & every TD Reception = 6 points.
To keep the siblings from quibbling, after breakfast out and grocery shopping today, I washed the Miata. The rest of the day was spent inside watching NFL football. Why? See above.
Started down, went up, still up.
Miata Top Transitions since 10/24/08: 1065
I know, I know, I should have used a tripod and I should not be zoomed to my widest angle lens setting, but at least I managed to get a series of photos, unlike my failed attempt at the swinging bridge later on on the trip…
We have ceiling fans in every room in the house (except the bathrooms) and they rotate slowly keeping the air circulating. Yesterday morning I noticed it seemed kind of dim at the breakfast table. The fan in the dining room has four glass shades with gas lamp looking bulbs hanging from the bottom and one was burnt out.
Last night I unscrewed the dead bulb and it spun way too easy. The glass came out leaving the metal base still screwed into the socket. No big deal, it has happened before, so I went to the tool box and got my needle nose pliers. It is usually an easy job to pry away the metal rim a bit, grab the socket and unscrew it. Not this time. That bulb base was snug, almost seemed like it was cross threaded. I spent 15 minutes grabbing and twisting and instead of backing the base out, all I was getting was little bits of the metal in the jaws of the pliers.
I was going to have to remove light fixture from the fan to get this thing out. I unscrewed the three screws around the outside of the light fixture and dropped the light down some so I could get to the wire nuts that connected the fixture to the fan. While holding the light up with one hand I found one wire nut, but the black wire went up into the fan. Dang, the connections must be inside the bottom part of the fan.
Still holding the light fixture up with one hand I unscrewed the two screws holding the top plate of the light to the fan. It didn’t come loose. It must be held on by that threaded tube in the center. No amount of spinning loosened it. Tiring of holding up the light with one hand I made a command decision, I cut the black wire.
Now that I have the light fixture down at my level, I recommenced to removing the stuck bulb base, unfortunately no amount of grabbing and twisting the base would free it. I tried to back out another bulb and it did the same thing, glass part came out easy and the metal base stayed in the socket. I guess it is time to buy a new light fixture.
I then disconnected the cover on the bottom of the fan so I could get the light fixture base plate off. As I removed that piece from the fan I noticed that the plastic fan speed switch was broken where it came out of the housing. I grabbed some glue I have in the garage and tried to piece the switch back together. A few minutes later when everything was dry I put the switch back through the hole, but it came apart again as soon as I tried to screw the nut on. I gave up at that point figuring we would just go buy a new light fixture and new a switch on Thursday.
This morning I took the switch to work to try using some super glue. It work a lot better than the household cement I had, but it didn’t last through a good solid tightening of the nut.
So today after work we visited a BBHIW for a switch & light fixture. The replacement switches were not in the first couple places we looked, so we had to resort to asking for help. Felt kind of bad about it, not so much because I had to ask for help, but we seemed to have interrupted a personal conversation between two employees to do it. She led us to the switches, one aisle over from where we found some other repair parts, and while we had her attention we asked where the ceiling fan light fixtures were as well.
Because most ceiling fans these days come with the light fixture already included, the selection of add on lights was very limited. They had some 19.95 school house lights, but none were in bright brass which is what we needed to match our fan. As a matter of fact, the only one that came in bright brass was a multipurpose one with 4 different colors, but it had a price tag of $39.95! That and the cost of the switch, $6.95, put us close to $50, to just repair something. A brand new Hunter fan with light fixture was $65.
So, because one light bulb burnt out, we ended up buying a whole new fan.
This morning the temps were in the low 70’s and it wasn’t supposed to get much warmer, so we opted to drive the Miata to work. It didn’t get any warmer, it actually seemed to get colder as the day wore on and at each walk around the parking lot on our breaks today, if we closed our eyes, we could have believed we were back in the northwest US (and we weren’t complaining at all.)
Started up, went down, still down.
Miata Top Transitions since 10/24/08: 1066
We are in a cabin outside Gatlinburg, TN tonight, sharing the place with Donna’s oldest brother and his wife. We are here because we are visiting with some cousins of Donna & Jim from Canada who are in the area while on their vacation. Because we passed right by, at about the right time, we had to have lunch at our favorite place in Hendersonville, West First. They had the whole of downtown Hendersonville, NC blocked off for a classic car show, so we had to walk a little extra bit to get to the restaurant. But that was no real inconvenience because there was plenty of cool old automotive iron to see, but only one was pixel worthy, this spiritual successor to the Miata, a 1965 Lotus Elan.
The Sonata passed the six thousand mile mark somewhere between Gatlinburg and the White Oak Lodge & Resort
This is the view from the balcony of the cabin rented by Donn’s sister, her husband and his mother. They are staying a little further down the road closer into Gatlinburg in Lora’s Cabin in a different “resort.” The view from where we are staying is not half bad either, as long as you are looking up and can ignore the the row of similar cabins in our little subdivision. Our cabin is a little larger and a lot more modern, but where Sandy, Paul and Dottie are staying there is a much better “cabin in the woods” feel.
Brother Jim had promised his wife Linda a tour of the Biltmore House, so they left early to be able to take in that attraction before catching a plane back to Houston. Ninety-six year old Dottie made it known that she wanted to see Gatlinburg before they left on Tuesday morning, so Sandy, Paul and she did that today. That left Donna and I to entertain (or more accurately, be entertained by) the Canadian Cousins, Margret & John and Beth & Jim.
We talked them into a trip south to Clingmans Dome, over into Cherokee, NC before heading west and looping back into Tennessee along US129. Actually both men had heard of the Dragon’s Tail and were interested in driving it.
It was early enough in the morning that the trip through downtown Gatlinburg was easy, but as soon as we hit US441 in the Smokey Mountains National Park we ran into a couple of sections of road work, complete with one lane closed and flagman waits. The road to the top of Clingmans Dome was pretty, but we weren’t sure what we would see at the top because the fog/clouds were pretty thick in spots on the 7 mile road to the tower at the top of highest peak in Tennessee. And at the parking lot looking south into North Carolina, sure enough it was like an ocean of white with a few islands of blue mountain peaks sticking up. We still opted to take the 1/2 mile walk uphill (seriously up hill) to the circular ramp to the top of the 54 foot high tower for a 360 degree view. It was so worth it. NC was still a sea of white, but back north to TN you could a perfect example of how these mountains got their name (the above photo.)
On the way back down the mountain we had two delays, one short, for grazing black bear cub and one long, for a road crew trimming trees (that wasn’t there on the way up.) And as we were leaving the park in NC we had one more slow down, as there were cars pulled off to both sides of road to watch an elk grazing in a field. The 50 mile trip from Gatlinburg to Cherokee had taken us 3 hours and it was nearly lunch, but instead of trying to pick a spot in the tourist town to eat, Donna and I suggested we travel 10 more miles to Bryson City.
If you ever find yourself in Bryson City at lunchtime you can’t do better than The Iron Skillet. The six of us opted for the lunch special of meat loaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, cole slaw and a roll for just $6.95. Mmmmm.
The first ten miles of NC28 north of US 19/74 is 4 lane divided, but the last 20 miles is two lanes of awesome windy black top along the Little Tennessee River that is my favorite in the state. About 2/3rds into that span the call comes up on the FRS from the Canadian Cousins behind us in their Chrysler 300C, “So, is this the Gap?” “Nope,” I reply, “Not yet, but in short while we’ll stop at the beginning point for a quick break.” At the Crossroads of Time we were 2 of the 4 cars in the lot, the rest of the 40–50 vehicles there were motorcycles.
The gap run was fun in spurts as I followed some fellow on a cool looking chopper, but he couldn’t go very fast through any of the 318 turns because of how low it sat to the ground. I did what I could by slowing to a near stop until the Chrysler 300C caught up, before racing ahead to catch back up to the chopper. When we stopped at the dam overlook, John told he probably could have kept pace better if not for the two women in the back who were not having as much fun on the roller coaster road as he and Jim were in the front. I don’t doubt it for a bit, as John is a member of the Canadian Mounted Police and had spent quite a few years as a motor patrolman, so I bet he probably could coax a quick run through the Dragon out of that rear-wheel V8.
We finished up the 180 mile day by driving the Foothills Parkway to Townsend, TN for a gas stop, following US321 through Mega Tourist City, Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg and the cabin.
No trip to Deal’s Gap is complete without a souvenir. At fist your only option was a sticker from the Crossroads of Time a gas station/motorcycle campground where NC28 joined US129, the “official” starting point of the 11 miles trip.
As word of the very curvy stretch with no entries spread, attendance at the Tail of the Dragon grew. Now they have expanded the store to accommodate all manner of stickers, t-shirts, videos, mugs, etc. and to go along with the campground they have added a small motel for motorcyclists. Then a lot of other places jumped on the bandwagon and started selling Dragon merchandise too.
Nowadays there is another option for a memento from your trip through the Gap, just like most thrill rides at amusement parks, you can now purchase a photo of yourself & vehicle “slaying the dragon.” It all started back in 2001 with a fellow called Killboy, when he would go out on weekends and snap photos of the traffic, then he would sell a high resolution copy to you off the internet.
There is obviously money to be made at this endeavor, because where there was once just one, there are now at least three. On our drive through yesterday, which occurred on a random weekday in the middle of September, we passed by 4 tents set up at various pullouts on the road manned by photographers. Two were from the same outfit, US 129 Photos, which is where the above photo was cribbed from. Killboy & 129 Slayer haven’t uploaded their photos yet.
Depending on what the other’s photos look like I may buy an image of the Purple Whale driving the Gap. And I may even buy one of the 300C that was right behind me that was loaded with the Canadian Cousins.
Here is the best of the 4 pictures I took on Sunday evening of the group in the living room of our cabin. Most everyone else was doing the same thing, camera on timer and running to go get in the shot. The auto white balance didn’t do the correct autoing and it left the photo very orangeish, so I had to tweak it the best I could to make it represent the actual colors.
On the couch from left to right: Donna, her sister Sandy, her sister-in-law Linda and Sandy’s mother-in-law Dottie.
The women standing left to right: Donna & Sandy’s cousins Beth and Margret.
The men standing left to right: Sandy’s husband Paul, Margret’s husband John, Beth’s husband Jim, yours truly and Donna & Sandy’s brother Jim.
Click on the photo to get a larger version. Then click Full Size at the bottom of that page to get the ginormous version.
This is what the sky looked like last night when Donna and I came out of Kroger. Even though we had some frozen food items in the trunk we drove around for a while looking for places to stop and take more photos of the orange, purple and black sky. Didn’t find any, and the longer we drove the less exciting the sky became. I guess we had to have been done shopping about 15 minutes earlier…
I ended up picking two photos from two different photographers.
This afternoon I washed all the carbuncles, barnacles, algae and sea weed off the Sonata that had accumulated over the trip.
We got a couple of photographic souvenirs from our trip through the gap, so it is only fair that the Canadian Cousins get a couple too.
Everyone else got a souvenir, so it seems only fair that the Purple Whale get one too. Behold, a small purple dragon sticker placed in the center of the top part of the rear window.
Right now, from where I’m sitting the FRS have really earned their F. They have lost the first of two against the Yankees today and Tampa Bay has won their game, so what once was a 9–1/2 game lead in the AL Wild Card 3 weeks ago is now just a 1/2 game. If the Red Sox lose the evening game they’ll be tied for the last playoff spot with just three games to go. And what with the way they are playing, I’m looking at my evenings being free after Wednesday.
The other day we were in Staples, trying to find out what happened to the rebate we were supposed to get for a shredder we had bought, when a display of Wireless N Routers caught my eye. Donna noticed and asked if we needed that. “Not really, but it might help with streaming Netflix,” I answered. So today, when the $20 rebate showed up in the mail, she said, “Let’s use that for that router.”
I brought home a shiny new Netgear WNR2000 for $30. Before I disconnected the ancient Linksys WRT54G I went to various spots in the house where the laptop is typically used and took some signal strength measurements.
Disconnected the Linksys and put the Netgear router in place. First I tried to discover my type of network connection using the router’s setup wizard. The next steps caused me to drop my connection to the net. So, I rebooted both modem and router and tried it again. Same results. Reboot modem and router again. Next I ran a cat5 cable from modem to PC just to make sure I did have internet access. I did. Then I tried to follow along with the included flyer to do a “No CD” install. That met with the same fate as before.
The last option was to try the install with the included CD. I followed the prompts and, holy cow, it installed just fine. The install took a lot longer than I thought it should, but it worked and didn’t install a bunch of crap on the PC either. Should went that way from the start…
After setting up the security, I logged in with the laptop and walked around the house rechecking the signal strength. It varied from 6db to 13db WORSE than the old G router. The reported speed read 65 vs 54, but every time I tried a webpage it was very slow loading.
Disconnected everything and put the old router back in play. Guess we are going to Staples tomorrow and getting the money back.
If you have visited a Google search page today you would have seen the image here. Because today is my birthday and I heart the internet, I wanted to do something special on it. So I commissioned this piece of claymation style birthday art and broke open my piggy bank to get the folks at Google feature it.
Ok, ok, that is not exactly correct, the image is there because I just happen to share a birthday with a famous internet search site.
That is about how many times I’ve been disappointed with the Red Sox this season. There won’t be any more of them until next year though, as last night, as they have done most of all of September, they managed to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory in the late innings to a team they should have beaten. This pretty much sums it up.
While on a short trip to top off the Emperor’s tank for a weekend trip, it passed through the 122,000 mile mark.