Monthly Archives: September 2010

NOMADS at Ocean Park Retreat

We finished our second week with NOMADS (Nomads on Mission Active in Divine Service) at Ocean Park Retreat and Methodist Camp.  Our team has accomplished a lot in eight days, there’s a lot to do still.  We’re glad we’re here.

We really enjoy OPRC.  The weather took a little getting used to, with highs in the low to mid-60s and a likelihood of rain every day.  The 80 acre campus is just beautiful with mostly woods, a few grassy meadows, and 20 buildings.  Jim has had fun building an antenna and a shower step for our trailer (we’ll show you later) in the Center’s maintenance shop.  We’ve walked the trails and the beach, and done some sightseeing.

We meet each day, Mon-Thu, at 8 am for devotions and discussion and to plan our work day.  Work starts at 8:30 and runs until lunch time, then again until 4 pm with coffee breaks mid-morning and afternoon.  We’re not using to carrying materials, swinging tools, and just generally working even one day, much less four days.  So we’re regarding this as a good form of exercise.

Volunteers learn all sorts of jobs

We never know what job we’ll land as volunteers.  Replacing seat covers in the OPRC bus was a tough job but Debbie, Claudia, and Madeline persisted and did a great job.  The new covers are a great improvement for the seats.

Jake, Debbie, Ken, and Jim on photo break

Outdoor jobs can be great, particularly on cool days with little or no rain.  We’ve had lots of cool days but no so many rain-free ones.  This was one of our first bright sunny days at OPRC.  We ran framing around the new wood shed’s posts to prepare for rafters and siding.

Two nailing, one cutting, we sheet the small roof quickly

Jake and Debbie handed sheets up for Ken and Jim to fit and nail.  We quickly finished sheeting, tar papering, and started on siding while Ken nailed flashing and battens on the roof.  The next day’s forecast is rain.  The weather guessers have been correct every day.  And we want to have the shed dried in so we can do a little work under its roof.

Needs a little more siding and some doors, but a nice shed

Another day of work and we’ll have this wood shed complete.  Pretty nice with posts set in concrete, gravel floor, two doors make an 8′ opening, and room for lots of split and dried firewood.  Our final week at OPRC we hope weather will cooperate so we can complete siding, hang the doors, and stain the exterior siding.  This was a nice project for our volunteers at OPRC.

The NOMADS touring Fort Clatsop together

All work and no play won’t entirely suit this group of NOMADS volunteers.  Friday is the beginning of our weekend and the group headed south for a day of touring.  We crossed the 4.1 mile Astoria-Megler Bridge to Oregon and followed US-101 to Fort Clatsop then Cannon Beach.  This picture is inside the Ft Clatsop visitors center where we enjoyed the displays and a video on the founding of the fort.

Deb examines the joinery in the replica of Ft Clatsop

We toured a relatively new replica of Ft Clatsop, the four-month 1805-6 winter home of the Lewis & Clark expedition.  The prior replica, built in 1955, burned in 2005 and was recently rebuilt.  The Expedition built several forts along their journey and no two seemed alike but each suited the purpose.  Unlike many government projects, these forts seemed to waste no space or materials, just did the job.

A fun shopping street of Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach, twenty-five miles south of Ft Clatsop, is a treat for touring.  Lots of candy and toy shops, and plenty of restaurants.  We weren’t looking for high cuisine but wanted a nice place to eat.  Cheri’s is a nice cafe with good coffee and baked goods and a simple but appealing menu.  We enjoyed good food and service at a reasonable price for a tourist town.

A beautiful sunset on our second week at OPRC

Lewis & Clark expedition’s winter at Ft Clatsop was very wet, only 12 rainless days out of 106.  We’ve done much better during our first two weeks, we’ve had at least four days of sunshine.  And a few sunsets like this one we viewed from the main lodge deck at OPRC.

Another campfire for Dreamstreamrs (and friends)

The weather was so nice last Monday we celebrated with a campfire and a few roasted marshmallows.  Debbie, Jake, Liz, Claudia, Madeline, Ken, and Len are pictured enjoying warmth from the fire.  The fire warmed us for a few hours while we watched the waxing moon rise very brightly in clear skies.  We have good work-life balance on this NOMADS project.

Jim says we have to eat fresh oysters before we leave.  We’ll see if any of our work partners want to join us for this, and Jim hopes we’ll do it regardless.  Full-timing makes it easy for us to participate in work projects, dawdle when and where we want, move with the weather.  It’ll be time to move southward soon.  And we need to start looking at maps and figuring out where’s next.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

A sunny day on the peninsula

Out for pizza at Chicos in Sea View

We’ve finished our first work week with NOMADS and our reward was pizza night at Chicos in Sea View with our hosts and fellow volunteers.  The pizza was just great.  And it was nice to visit with everyone socially, to be warm and to be in out of the rain.

Our first day at Ocean Park Retreat and Methodist Camp was sunny.  The next morning started with rain and we’ve had rain each day Tues – Fri.   Today started out sunny and stayed so almost all day, warming us greatly and reminding us how nice dry can be.

Did you know you can go to the Post Office on Saturdays, even when the window isn’t open, and buzz the buzzer button and they will, if they’re working (and they usually are on Saturday) answer?  The Post Office in Lynden, WA, advised us to do this for General Delivery pickup.

This morning we drove, first thing, to the Ocean Park Post Office.  Folks were coming and going outside the building so, we thought, it must be open.  Wrong, this Post Office has window hours only on Monday through Friday.  But wait!  Remember what happened at Lynden?

So we pushed the buzzer button and the guy came to the door.  We asked if we could pick up a General Delivery package and BINGO!  He very pleasantly asked our names, wrote them down in the official “don’t answer the door for these people any more at any Post Offices” list.  No, no, he walked back and grabbed our forwarded mail and invited us to have a great Saturday.

How cool is this?  This, my friends, is your customer service-oriented United States Post Office.  We aren’t saying this will work everywhere.  If one of you will try it in, say, Detroit or Chicago or Atlanta, and let us know how it works out we’d really be interested.  But it has worked in two teensy towns in Washington state and we really like it.

The sky was still beautiful, we lucked out and caught a full morning of sunshine.   So we toured up the peninsula, north of Ocean Park, to Surfside and Oysterville. The peninsula is long and skinny, apparently approx one mile across and over 23 miles long.  We’re staying in the upper third, so weren’t far from Surfside.

We were reminded of North Carolina’s beach towns, like Topsail, in the 1970s before high rises happened.  Nowadays on the formerly quiet and beautiful Atlantic beaches even the houses seem like high rises and condo buildings are jutting skyward in way too many places.  Surfside is still quiet and beautiful  (I probably shouldn’t be telling you all this — you might want to build hi-rises here, too).

The drive around Surfside took us along beach houses perched atop, or just on the leeward side of, the dunes.   The houses, mostly, are practical, pretty, and proportional to their lots, unlike so many of the starter castle beach houses springing up somewhere else.

This way to the town time left behind

Onward along the road now to Oysterville, we now are crossing the peninsula and heading east toward Willapa Bay.  Oysterville is a town where progress halted in the late 1880s.  Oysters covered the shallow reefs all around and were easily and profitably marketed to cities like San Francisco.  The town had grown very rapidly and was by 1855 the Pacific County seat and a boomtown.

Prosperity and progress can be fickle.  The long-anticipated railroad was finally built up into the peninsula in the 1880s.  But it didn’t reach Oysterville.  The rail only went as far as Nahcotta, four long and devastating miles south of Oysterville.  People left, population declined, progress halted for Oysterville.

Historic Oysterville Church ca 1892

Today we visited the Oysterville Historic Church, built 1892.  We visited the old Cannery site, now home to the Oysterville Sea Farms and a really nice fresh seafood store.   And we stopped to read the historic plaques outside a half-dozen historic homes or sites in Oysterville.

Entrance from the highway into our 80 acre retreat and camp

The sun was still shining brightly, the skies a brilliant blue, as we turned back to Ocean Park Retreat and Methodist Camp.  The campus is serving several groups this weekend, providing lodging in cabins and meals prepared either by the groups or by Retreat staff.  We’re eating a few staff-prepared meals and they are delicious.  And we enjoy the opportunity to get to know some of the other folks staying here.

View west from our dining area

This evening we walked up to the dining room and were glad to see this view over the Pacific Ocean.  We took our time dining and drinking coffee afterward, so didn’t have time for the walk we should have taken.  But the skies were threatening and we just didn’t feel like striking out for a walk when we could stay inside, warm and dry.

This visit isn’t going to be long enough, unless it continues raining every day.  On our way home from supper, walking down the hill, the rain started up again.  It’s a fine mist, softly blown in the winds, then it’s a heavy coating of rain.  The rain doesn’t so much move in with a strong wind or big gray clouds.  The air just starts being very wet and we realize we can see the rain blowing down all around.

Rain or shine, we’ll get out and find our way around.  We have trails and 2,000 feet of beach front to explore on this campus, and 23 miles of unobstructed beach we can walk or bicycle when we want.  Ocean Park is a gorgeous place and we’re looking forward to finding a lot to like about it.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

Ocean Park Retreat

We have arrived!  In Ocean Park Retreat Methodist Camp, that is.  Outside is wall to wall blue sky and full sunshine, the first day like this we’ve seen in  a week or two.  There’s a nice soft breeze with 61 degrees outside.  We have every window open an inch and both roof vents wide open, and the inside temp is a very comfortable 76 degrees.

Jim told you wrongly yesterday when he said we weren’t going to have a campfire before we left Mora Campground in Olympic National Park.  As we were walking before supper, we agreed the weather had lightened up a little and we would both enjoy a little fire.  Jim split some kindling, Deb laid and lit the fire, and we had a roaring fire before it started raining again.

The fire was so nice we pulled out our chairs and enjoyed the warm dancing flames.  Then we realized, this could be our last campfire of 2010 unless we stop in a national or state park on one of our remaining long-distance drives.  We’ll have a two or three-day trip from here to Boise at the end of the month, a three-day trip to Mesa mid-October, and that’s it for 2010.

So we made the most of last night’s fire.  We had reserved one small bundle of dry hemlock (of three we had purchased) and had scavenged leftover wood from departed campers’ fire rings over the past week.  With plenty of wood we quickly had a hot fire.  It was so nice Deb suggested we eat by the fire.

Jim grilled a nice marinated chicken breast and Deb made a wonderful avocado, tomato, and romaine and leaf lettuce salad.  Just as we finished eating the rain started falling more steadily.  Deb grabbed an umbrella and we stuck it out for a couple of hours, staying very warm and dry despite the outside temperature around 50 (and really wet).  It was nice, and if we don’t have another for awhile this one will serve as the right campfire memory.

Ocean Park Retreat (OPR) is an 80 acre campus a mile north of Ocean Park, Washington, on the peninsula west of Willapa Bay, sort of opposite and south of Aberdeen on the east side of the bay.  Oysterville is just north of OPR, and we hope we will be able to take advantage of these great sea treats.

We are here for a three-week work assignment with NOMADS, a bunch of RVers willing to serve with time and talents in various host sites across the country and beyond.  Some might be full-timers, two other couples here aren’t.  Folks typically sign on for a three-week assignment or can work as drop-ins where a church or camp requests the help.

Three other NOMADS couples already are here and were at work when we arrived today.  They have been staining the exterior of a large building at OPR and we’ll start helping with this tomorrow morning.  From the looks of the building we might do nothing else for at least a couple of weeks.  Whatever the tasks, we’re here to help and to get to know the other NOMADS.

We’ll have time to explore, including trails and 2,000 feet of seashore in the Camp, and we’ll try to find our way all up and down the peninsula.  Two years ago we stayed a couple of days in a small campground in Ocean Park and toured a little.  We’re allowed three days off each week for our three week stay, so we should have plenty of time to thoroughly find our way around.

Just a short post to update our location and, more significantly, our weather!  It’s nice to have an entire afternoon of bright sunshine.  Maybe we’ll see more of the sunshine and blue skies, we’re due for it.  And Ocean Park Retreat seems like a great place, both for volunteering and for enjoying the weather.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

Of course it’s raining!

Yesterday was so fair and mild we lapsed into expecting more of the same for today, even through last night’s persistent drizzle.   The area gets between 100 and 150 inches of rainfall annually, so odds on it should rain at least a couple of times in our week here.

The rain started yesterday late afternoon and didn’t let up until almost 2pm today.  Now, after 4pm, rain is cranking up again.  Nothing torrential, just a fine continuous drizzle into the trees above.  We’ll get a huge droplet every few minutes from the branches, PLOMP on the skylight.

We set our alarm clock again last night, thinking we would arise early today and make it to Rialto Beach for morning low tide.  The rain was especially noisy at alarm time so we cancelled plans and rolled over to enjoy another hour of sleep we probably didn’t need.

Last night’s Ranger program was artfully presented by Ian, another NPS Interpretive Ranger.  He served in the Marines (“another form of camping”, he said) and has served as seasonal NPS staff five years.

We didn’t ask but might guess he teaches during the non-summer months.  His presentation on Olympic National Park (ONP) geology was dynamic, professional, and engaging.

Ian described the difference between three other ranges and the Olympic Mountains (only the Olympics are non-volcanic).  He explained the Olympic Mountains are home to 266 glaciers compared to 322 glaciers in the Cascade Mountains.  And pointed out Mt Rainier, with only 26 glaciers, has more glacial mass than does all the combined glaciers in the Cascades.

He demonstrated to us the plate tectonics involved in pushing up the Olympics and forming the Pacific coast, as well as examining links between geology and Native American lore.  Stories almost 3 centuries old are scientifically supported by geologic evidence found in Washington.

We enjoyed Ian’s talk and are glad he had a large turnout.  The rain had intensified just before his scheduled program and so we started departing for our dry home.  But we encountered several couples on their way into the amphitheatre and decided, “what the heck, we can weather it too.”

Our rain jackets and hoods kept our shirts and fleeces dry.  We should have worn rain pants or carried some sort of tarp.  Hey, an umbrella would’ve worked just fine.

This morning our clothes and jackets were dry and everything outside is soggy and puddly.  We have one small bundle of firewood remaining and aren’t likely to try burning it this afternoon.  Just not worth it when it’s still raining and we don’t have a rainfly (the awning faces away from the fire ring).

Perhaps the best question we fielded at our full-timing seminars this summer was about moisture control in the Airstream.  Moisture is easy to generate and trap in a trailer.  And it isn’t easy to remove, ‘specially when humidity is in the 90s.

Our answer to the person in the seminar was, try to prevent moisture build-up.  We are careful to exhaust air from the trailer anytime we are showering or boiling water.  The catalytic heater, the stove, or the oven all demand continuous fresh air and, at least, gravity venting.

The fresh air is REQUIRED for replacing depleted oxygen.  And fresh air helps support an air current to exhaust additional moisture from cooking or showering.  Have you ever entered someone’s camper when they have been heating with a portable catalytic heater without venting?

Even if out-of-doors is really moist, when I step into their camper it feels like a sauna to me.  Propane, when burned in a direct-fire like a catalytic heater, releases a lot of water into the air.  If we don’t vent it, it collects inside the camper.

If humidity is high enough then air cannot hold moisture in suspension and you see condensing moisture, the wetness on surfaces like the windows and sometimes walls.  The relationship between humidity and air temperature is aptly described as dewpoint, which describes at what temperature the water will condense.

Condensing moisture in our camper can create dripping water down the windows and even into the walls.  If we wet inside the walls our insulation will get wet and we have no ready means to remove that moisture.  Result?  High likelihood of mold formation within 72 hours or less.

Our best approach is to prevent moisture accumulations in our Airstream.  Rain or shine and unless we are running the air conditioner (not often this summer) we always keep a window open and the rear roof vent open a few inches.  Our Maxxair Fanmate allows us to keep the rear Fantastic Fan open continuously when we’re parked.  It completely covers and overhangs the Fantastic Fan so rain, even heavy downpours, rarely causes the Fantastic Fan to trip its automatic rain closing cycle.

Today our windows’ inside surfaces have been lightly fogged at times.  The indoor air feels damp — no, it IS damp.  But we’re dry and warm, batteries are good, heat is on.  No campfire, no plans to cook out tonight.  A walk outside after dinner and we’ll be in for the night.  We’re already packed up for our 200 mile trip tomorrow to Ocean Park, Washington.

We wouldn’t have been surprised to have fewer nice days than we have.  But isn’t it lucky the weather has been so fair some of the time, so we had good lighting for yesterday’s marine life pictures?

Of course it rains a lot here.   It feels right to find rain in and around a rain forest.  The Hoh Rain Forest was wet and wonderful.  The sunny morning at 2nd Beach was a nice surprise.  Another time we can visit Rialto Beach and 3rd Beach.

Mora Campground in the ONP is a keeper.  The rate (this year) is only $12 per night.  The comfort stations sport flush toilets (although no showers).  The sites are nicely spaced and are uniformly well-graded and pretty.  And there’s a dump station.  We’re close enough to LaPush and Forks, far enough from any highways, close to three rivers and four beaches.

This has been a great visit and again we leave ourselves something to come back for.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

2nd Beach Discoveries

We explored Olympic National Park’s 2nd Beach, near LaPush, Wa, this morning with Hope, the NPS Interpretive Ranger.  She really knows her stuff, having majored in Environmental Sciences with concentrations in marine biology and invertebrates.  We don’t know what all that means, just barely can spell it.  But Hope had a name and a story for all the things she picked up or we pointed out in the tidal pools.

Yesterday evening a NPS Ranger stopped her car outside our RV and walked over.  We thought, “Oh great, we’re going to discuss the firewood or the generator or maybe cougar precautions.”  But her purpose was to invite us to the 8 p.m. Ranger program at the amphitheatre, the topic would be kelp beds, tidal pools, sea grasses, and other things.

Bundled up warmly against the evening chill, we walked 1/4 mile to the amphitheatre, plopped our Crazy Creeks on a big fir bench and chatted with Hope as the other six people arrived.  Promptly at 8 p.m., Hope started the program, discussing marine life in the local tidal pools.

She used projected pictures and many plastic bags with examples of the black turban snail, or whelks (spirally), little barnacles completely out of their shell, and many other small critters.  Hope said the program ran over its time but we weren’t noticing.  She then announced a guided hike to 2nd Beach starting at 8 a.m.  Ouch!

Consistently sunless and cool mornings have kept us cozying in bed until after 8 each morning this week.  We set the alarm clock for a little before 7, and awoke to the brightest morning so far.  Or maybe they’ve all been this bright at 8?  We wouldn’t know.

2nd Beach through the trees

An eight-mile drive brought us quickly to parking at the trailhead for 2nd Beach and we hiked down with a few others following Hope.  Our group hit the beach by 8:20, a little before the 9 a.m. low tide.  Hope led us toward a large group of rocks and pools, stopping a few times to pick up green things.

Sea Palm with a couple of mussels at its attachment

We neither one pick up many things when we’re walking on the beach.  Which sea creatures have venom at this end or that end or on these tentacles, and what if this isn’t even a sea creature but some kind of excrement?  You just never know, you know what I mean?

Feather boa kelp

Today we picked up bull kelp, feather boa kelp, demised starfish, and four or five other things we already forgot the names of (next time, we’re taking a notepad).  Hope did a great job of explaining how these things live and eat and why we find them on the beach during low tide.

mussels at top, then barnacles, and sea stars munching their way up

Did you know the pecking order between starfish, barnacles, and mussels on large rocks?  The sea stars stake out the lower third, and eat on whatever else parked there, mostly barnacles and kelp perhaps.  You might see in this picture the three somewhat distinct layers?  The barnacles are on the bottom 2/3, but the lower ones are on the menu for sea stars.  The mussels seemed adept at climbing highest to avoid bumping into sea stars.

colorful sea stars and anemone await the incoming tide

We had fun finding so many colors in these tidal pools.  Sea stars and anemone and kelp were the showiest, with sea stars alone showing red, purple, and orange individuals.  All this is easy to spot at 2nd Beach during low tide.

sea stars and giant green anemone compete for real estate on rock side

A couple of hours had gone quickly and Hope turned us out on our own.  We walked to a few more large rocks then walked the length of the beach, finding a few more interesting tidal pools with very cool giant anemone.  The anemone is the above picture are closed up, waiting for the tide to roll in.  The anemone in the lower picture is open for business, tentacles all accepting any food that happens within touch.

pretty giant green anemone

We’ve spent a lot of times at beaches on the Atlantic and in the Gulf of Mexico over the years.  And haven’t seen anything like this before.  Our exposure to Pacific beaches is very limited, and we had no idea this kind of thing goes on.  We have an entirely new appreciation of life in the tidal pools.  Good thing we went to last night’s program.  Now we’re curious what tonight’s Ranger program will be.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

Yes, it did rain today in Hoh Rain Forest

Rain shells?  check

Rain pants? check

Waterproof boots? check

Rain hats? check

raining while we walk Spruce Trail

Okay, we’re ready for the rain forest.  September isn’t nearly the rainiest month,  January holds the honor with 60 inches.  September only averages approx 20 inches of rainfall.  Accordingly, it rained on us throughout our several hour visit today.  And on our way down the twenty-mile paved road back to Highway 101.

Hoh River, carrying glacial melt several thousand feet down

The road in and out closely follows Hoh River, the waterway bringing down glacial snowmelt all summer from a couple of thousand feet high above.  The river bed is rock-strewn and full of glacial-ground rock silt, a distinct gray mud where you expect to see brown.

these spruces get to 300 feet tall?

Along the way is a small pull-out with parking to view the large Sitka spruce.  How about huge?  It is 12.5 feet across at chest height, over 270 feet tall, and 550 years old.  This isn’t the only big tree in Hoh rain forest, but it is one of the biggest.  Other trees, they say, grow to 300 feet tall, while the average height for spruce in Hoh is 220 feet.

We walked the three shortest trails for a combined few miles.  The fourth trail is 17.5 miles each way so we saved it for another day.  Oh, and the elevation change is 3,500 feet, climbing upward toward Mt Olympus.  We saw a lot of overnight backpackers exiting and entering the trail, so we let them have it to themselves.

phone booth at the visitors center sports a growing roof

Everything grows here, and it grows anywhere it wants and with relish.  This is the coziest phone booth we’ve seen.  It reminded Jim of houses he and his family saw in Norway many years ago, but it seems like they had cultivated theirs with insulating soil on the roof.  This phone booth just provides a damp surface for stuff to start, and it takes off.

Hoh Rain Forest's maple grove

The Hall of Moss Trail was aptly named.  It is higher above the river than the Spruce Trail and supports more mature forest.  One area is the maple grove.  The mosses like the strong maples because more mosses can ride on the limbs without downing the tree.

nurse log enabled a colonnade of trees

Opportunistic growing things attach to anything in the rain forest.  Nurse logs are as important here as anywhere, but the effect seems more dramatic in Hoh because the logs are so long and so encouraging to great starts.  There’s no question whether a bunch of trees will take root, but only which ones will win.  The first ones to set their roots down past the nurse log and into soil are the winners.  Hundreds of years later the nurse log moulders away and the piggyback riders, mature trees now, stand above the ground.

Moss above, algae and lilies below, everything grows here

Ephipytes, or air plants, don’t rob their host of water or nutrients but gather what they need from the air.  And so it is with these Club mosses hanging from the limbs.  They might become heavy enough to pull down a limb or tree, but they otherwise are just hanging out.  And sometimes they hang out in the prettiest places.

Club moss drapes from the limbs

We weren’t sure we would get to visit Hoh Rain Forest, and are glad we did.  Even if it rained almost the entire time.  It did stop while we sat at the picnic table and ate lunch.  We wouldn’t have been surprised nor would we have minded if the rain continued unabated — the rain is what makes it a rain forest.

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

How we found Twilight at Forks

Plomp, plomp, tick, tick tick, tick, plomp.  Rain sprinkles down from the trees, high above, with small drops sounding like individual loud ticks.  Then a couple of tom-tom drum beats sound, as a drops hit the skylight above our living room.

We packed up camp the night before leaving Sol Duc, expecting rain after midnight.  Rain drops on our Airstream’s roof woke us at 12:40 a.m.  Pretty sharp forecasters, these NOAA guys.  It seemed to sprinkle, off and on, all night and by 9:00 this morning had almost stopped.  Nice to hitch up without a lot of rain.

Hitching the trailer took minutes, we’d already moved the hitch head to the truck’s receiver before going to bed.  This morning we only backed the truck to the trailer until the ball hit the back of our Quickbite coupler and the coupler automatically snapped shut and locked.

No one’s offered a way to automatically connect the 7-way power plug, the safety chains, and the breakaway cable.  Bluetooth might someday work for the 7-way, but there’s just no good substitute for the heavy-duty connection of a big pair of safety chains.  Who wants to look back and see their trailer crossing lanes by itself?

Our drive was very short, no more than 55 miles between Sol Duc Hot Springs and Mora campground near La Push (originally La Bouche, French for the mouth, apparently referring to the river’s mouth at the ocean).  Mora campground is in the Olympic National Park, is well distant from highways, and full of tall trees.

We’re fifty yards from a comfort station, just right for keeping our black waste tank empty for days and days.  We have no hookups for the trailer and no appreciable solar exposure for the photovoltaic panels.  We’re only paying $12 per night, approx 1/3 what we paid at Sol Duc for water and electric.  And both campgrounds charge an additional $5 if we empty our tanks at the dump station.

Nice campsite at Mora in ONP

Part of our setup included connecting (but not starting or running) our generator to the trailer.  We love not using it.  The campground is nearly vacant today.  it’s the end of Labor Day weekend and besides, not everyone wants to camp in the park on a rainy day.

Why spoil the majestic solitude and quiet of this old forest with our noisy generator if we can conserve our batteries for essential uses for at least three days?  We’ll use the generator to recharge the laptops when we need to, but are happy to avoid running it.

Daily high temperature at Mora are 55 degrees, and we’re sitting at 71 in the Airstream after running our Wave6 catalytic heater a little over two hours.  Two weeks ago we met a veteran Airstreamer, a Boeing retired engineer, who claims he could never use or recommend a catalytic heater after having opened a trailer’s door and finding four people dead inside from anoxia.

We didn’t ask, but perhaps could have asked, him if he practiced and believed in good engineering practice.  Surely he would have answered, “yes”.  The only safe way to use any heater inside a home or RV is to follow manufacturer’s recommendations.  And monitoring for any malfunction of the heater is necessary and, we think, requires we only burn this heater when we’re alert and awake.  Naptime or bedtime?  Off goes the heater, completely off.

A direct-fired heater (as opposed to the RV furnace, which is separated combustion heat exchanger) like a catalytic requires, the manufacturer points out, a minimum of 24 square inches of free air intake (a low window at one end of the trailer) and 24 square inches of free air outlet (a roof vent or high window at the opposite end of the trailer).

Jim continues, at low but persistent measure, campaigning for a floor intake vent installed under the catalytic heater’s location or under the Airstream’s L-sofa with a low transfer vent louver to direct the air into the cabin.  How cool would this be, not requiring any window opening?

And the cabin would always have a nice amount of free ventilation from the coolest point outside (under the trailer). Oh well, back to reality — the gravity floor vent is a fun project idea but not something we agree on, for now.  We have a few other projects already agreed upon and just awaiting certain resources (time, money, tools, sources for materials).

The rainy days incline us to play board games (no, not bored games, we really like these), catch up on our current cache of magazine subscriptions, drink pots of tea, and nap a little.  And we’re walking daily, rain or shine.  We’ve explored Rialto Beach, La Push, Forks, and Bogachiel State Park.  Hoh Rain Forest we’ve saved for Saturday, rain or not.  Rain is good, in good measure.

not Bella's truck, but same model

The Olympic Peninsula Visitors Guide we picked up locally features a lot of stuff about some book and television series named Twilight.  Upon our drive into Forks we were less surprised, then, to find stores and signs everywhere with Twilight advertising on them.

Lumber has long been the product from Forks and finally they have another and more unique one, they are home to Bella, Edward, and Jacob.  Our good  timing allows us to be in Forks the very weekend they are celebrating Stephenie Meyer Day, in honor of all she’s done to excite the local economy.

We bought three bundles of firewood yesterday.  Maybe we’ll stay at Mora this weekend, avoid as many vampires as we can.  I’m going outside now to build a big bright campfire.  We hope it works!

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
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