Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dickie Jo's Burgers

Five Guys and In-N-Out Burger have met their match! At least in Eugene, Oregon that is.

Dickie Jo's Burgers (wholesome through and through) are scrumptious and we love them. We found Dickie Jo's in Eugene last summer when we were here and had the terrible experience with Aspen Dental.  Dickie Jo's is next door to Aspen Dental. 

We've been back to Dickie Jo's three or four times this summer and we've not been disapointed.  While we can't take Lexie and Ozzie inside, of course, we almost always put them into their stroller and eat at one of the sidewalk picnic tables.  

Dickie Jo's employees all wear t-shirts with "Lucky 1952" printed on the backs.  That's the year Dickie and Jo married. They've been in various restaurant enterprises in and around Eugene ever since.

Lemonade, the usual and a superb pink version is available for self-service. Soft serve ice cream too. All the breads are homemade and the burgers are served in something that looks like a coffee filter. This is suppose to hold the burger together without much success.

Our latest visit was just yesterday where I snapped this picture of Wayne with Lexie and Ozzie.  No, the pups don't get even a bite of burger meat -- but they enjoy watching the goings on.  And yes, they always get a treat for being good.

Check 'em out at  And do plan to try one when you are in this area.   I don't think you'll be disapointed.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Taking Endie Back To Coburg

We bestow names onto our vehicles and our Holiday Rambler Endeavor is Endie.  She needs a check-up which I suppose is not uncommon with new coaches any more than it is with older ones.  Endie was made at Monaco RV in Coburg, Oregon in the spring of 2011.

The ride north on I-5 from Grants Pass to Eugene was not a new route for us. We came this way last year.  As we ride we found ourselves looking for familiar sites -- like where we stopped for lunch last year and where we bought fuel.  It's an old folks thing to do that, I'm pretty sure.

The sky was mostly overcast and rain threatened most of the way but we only had a few sprinkles and enjoyed the always beautiful Oregon scenery.

We'll stay overnight at Armitage County Park Campground where we met last summer with Tom and DJ before separating again going different directions on the Oregon coast.

A call to Monaco Coach resulted in a 7:30 service appointment in at the Coburg Service Center the next morning.  We have a list of items we'll have checked -- leading with the apparent leak around the water heater.

Until today, I had not realized that the assembly of diesel coaches had ceased at this facility. Now I'm especially sorry we didn't tour the plant last summer.  All Monaco and Holiday Rambler assembly is now done in Indiana.  All that remains in Coburg is this Service Center. All the equipment and the remaining buildings here are sold -- an auction was held just a day before we arrived.

I don't know what this is... lavender maybe?

Notwithstanding the sad feelings of the Coburg facility closure, we are hopeful that Navistar, the new owner of Monaco, will be successful and the Monaco and Holiday Rambler lines will continue.

The Service Center is in one of several former Monaco buildings. There were about two dozen coaches in the service center campground area the day we arrived.

Despite being a "work in" Endie was taken by 9 a.m. to be checked. We listed the issues in order of importance so the most urgent ones would get attention right away. It is possible we'll have to return in July for a scheduled appointment to get to the others. 

Beside the possible leak, our repair list goes like this:  (1) No gas heat comes from the vents in the rear, (2) propane alarm sounded when we used gas water heater, (3) entry door sticks, (4) audio interference on the front TV, (5) freezer thermostat gets colder than setting, (6) ceiling lights go out often, (7) there's a rattle and too much air noise at the front door.
This is Val, our service advisor.
She's taking us into the service area to see what's going on with Endie.
Around noon, Val called to give us an update on Endie.  The water heater was leaking and the leak has resulted in mold growth in the wood cabinet at the corner of the closet.  Randy, our service technician had already removed the damage, bleached it and applied a mold killing agent before building a new water heater cabinet box.  A huge fan was blowing outward from inside Endie.  It is suggested we get a motel for the night as the chemical smell is strong.  Randy will complete our list of other issues while the great blower does it's work. 

Wayne, Val and Randy, our service technician.
Both Val and Randy are natives of this area and have worked at Monaco for decades.
We enjoyed learning about the history of the plant and learning of Navistar's plans for the future.
Val worked for many years inside the assembly process. 
She told us that Endie was made in Spring 2011.
For just the second time while we've been traveling, we took a room in a motel while the coach is in the shop.  We'll stay overnight at LaQuinta in Eugene with mixed feelings.  We truly dislike being displaced but Lexie and Ozzie seem to like having a giant bed all their own.  They explored the motel room with excitement.  I brought their foam steps to help them get up to the bed.  We gave each a warm bath in the motel tub so they were clean and fresh smelling!

In the motel room. 
It took almost all of the next day to complete the list of repairs, but by 4 p.m. we were on our way.

Finished and ready to go.

The Marathon Coach company is down the road from Monaco.  Wayne loves seeing Prevost and Marathon coaches so he wanted to drive down the road to take a peek.  There were just a few repair coaches in the lot this day.

But this one is more our speed.

We'll spend the week in nearby Harrisburg where we stayed last summer.  From here, we'll try again to get to Oregon's coast.   The weather is almost perfect, sunny and warm.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

From Klamath Lake To The Rogue Valley

The day after our visit to Crater Lake we left Chiloquin headed to the Pacific Coast -- which we also missed last summer due to cold, damp weather.  But this year, while we're psyched, we will try again.

Leaving Chiloquin we travel south on US 97, along the eastern shore of Klamath Lake to Klamath Falls, then north again on the western side of the lake.  Klamath is the largest lake west of the Great Lakes! 
Striking blue sky, snow peaked Mt. McLaughlin, grassland (irrigation equipment too) and railroad all in one shot.
... all this while we're rolling down the road. 
Early in the ride we saw another Bald Eagle. This basin is home to one of the greatest wintering areas for Eagles.  Today's sighting makes three in two weeks! This one was very near striking something in the lake and was hovering over the water.  Of course, I didn't have camera in hand. 

A few minutes later though, I did get a fairly good shot of another unusual bird species -- at least to us: white pelicans.  We saw several groups of them this morning.  Brown pelicans are common to us  -- having lived in Florida for many years, but these were white with black wingtips. 

The route we've been on since before we reached Crater Lake is known as Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway and the scenes, even beyond the volcanic remains and Lake Klamath, are pretty spectacular, even through the bug splattered windshield.  We ran into a rainstorm of these little beasts somewhere on the east side of the lake.

The buggers are all over the windshield -- squashing my photography efforts!

From our approach to Medford, we got a glimpse of beautiful snow covered Mount Shasta in the distance!
A stop on the outskirts of Medford for lunch prompted a call to a campground at Brookings, our destination. The plan is to take I-5 from here to Grants Pass; jump over onto US 199, south into northern California and then go north on US 101. The woman at the campground said US 199 is narrow and winding and will take 3-4 hours in a rig like ours. Our hopes for seeing the southern Oregon coast were dashed!  Not to worry!  We'll take in some of the Rogue River Valley sites and take care of some "city" business in Medford.

In the end we stayed two nights at Valley of the Rogue State Park near Gold Hill, about 20 miles out of Medford.  We took advantage of being in a metro area and bought a new set of electric clippers for grooming the dogs. The weather temperatures are pretty warm mid-day.... high 80's. 

After some deliberation, we decided to go on to Coburg for a few adjustments to Endie.  We found some discoloration of the bathroom tile grout and dampness in the corner leading us to believe there might be a leak around the water heater. 

We'll catch the southern coast of Oregon another time.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Newberry Lava Lands and Crater Lake -- Finally!

First:  There's Lava Lands
Oregon has a volatile volcanic history. Great piles of jagged black lava rocks give the appearance they've been dumped at a particular location. They're quite pretty in their own way.

Lava Land at Newberry National Volcanic Monument is south of Bend along US Highway 97. We came upon it by chance -- seeing giant heaps of large sharp black lava rock reaching out nearly to the highway. 

View of the lava from the road. Taken through the coach window.
(The reason there is a halo)
At the sign bearing the simple name Lava Lands (I couldn't help but think of Lego Land in central Florida), we turned the rig in and then realized the road was narrow and the trees reached into them from above and both sides.  The coach is just four months old so we really worry about scratching it and try hard to avoid branches. Fortunately for us the gate attendant let us travel the wrong way down a one-way lane to park and then leave the park. Other rigs were in the parking lot but none as large as Big Endie and Blackie.

Entry to Lava Lands
The parking lot at Lava Lands looked like a good place to walk Lexie and Ozzie -- or so it seemed until we got out and felt the cold blast of wind.  Oh my it was cold. We managed to walk to the Visitors Center where we took an abbreviated look over the closest lava field before rushing back to the coach.  After lunch we carefully crept the rig out of Lava Lands and back to Highway 97.

Today's destination is Chiloquin, Oregon from where we'll take in Crater Lake. Last year, traveling with DJ and Tom, we tried to come here but we were deterred by heavy snow accumulations and training cold weather bands.  This year we're "psyched" for winter weather... so much, in fact, that we're hoping we'll be in snow!

Settled in at Water Wheel Campground Friday afternoon, we check the weather for tomorrow's visit to Crater Lake.  Snow is predicted tonight (80% chance) with a freeze warning. Tomorrow's snow chance at Crater Lake is 40%, temperatures just above freezing and little chance of sunshine.  No matter -- we're making the short 30 mile trip, taking whatever layers of warm clothes we'll need.  Lexie and Ozzie have matching red plaid coats they hardly get to wear so they'll be warm too.  Incidentally,  their bed has a new warming pad to keep them cozy on the coldest of nights.

Saturday morning's sunshine was bright and beautiful, which thrilled us. We headed toward Crater Lake's southern entrance via Oregon Hwy 62.  Along the way, we passed the site of Fort Klamath in this beautiful valley surrounded by snow capped mountains.

The site of Fort Klamath.  Established 1863, abandoned in 1889
Served to protect settlers and travelers.
It isn't far now to Crater Lake and my descriptions seem worthless, so from here, I'll let the photos show you what we saw...

Snow makes these evergreens look "Christmasie"

Look closely to see the spires of cemented pumice here along Wheeler Creek Canyon inside Crater Lake National Park.
This area is known as The Pinnacles.

This is part of Cascade Range of volcanoes that start in British Columbia and end in northern California.  About 7 million years ago (who counted?) the Cascades began to rise and then "vented"' themselves. That activity led to the creation of Crater Lake.  

Deep fresh white snow makes the Welcome Center and Gift Shop look like a winter wonderland.

The pole marks the road edge for the snow plow operator

And then we caught our first glimpse of ...
Crater Lake!

Crater Lake History:

It began as 12,000 foot Mount Mazama until it rose and erupted. In the end, the empty mountain fell from it's own weight and collapsed -- forming a deep caldera where the snow-capped Mount Mazama once stood.  The basin filled with centuries of rain water and snow fall. Wizard Island, the cone-shaped island that stands above the water line, is a volcano formed from later eruptions.  Geologists estimate that it might have taken 800 years for the lake to fill with rain and snow.

We came to Crater Lake through the south entrance. The north entrance is still closed.
The green colored road is open to walking and hiking.
The red colored road is closed completely as is the winding road around the lake.

I'm standing in front of Rim Village Visitors Center a few steps from Sinnott Overlook
Yeah, that's real deep snow. 

Although most of the country enjoyed a mild winter this year, Crater Lake got 31 feet of snow.  The southern route into Crater Lake is open but the northern route is not.   None of the roads around the rim of the lake are open except a 1.1 mile stretch from Rim Village west to Discovery Point. The road in green in the map above is cleared for hiking and biking but not to autos. 

One of the snow plows.
The black tube behind the rotors blows the snow up, up and away!

Alrighty then!  I'm staying waaaay back.

Now really.... Do you think anybody will park here if the snow is this deep?

Crater Lake Factoids...
6.02 miles (max) across, 4.54 miles (min) across.
1,943 deep at the deepest point. Deepest in the US.
4.9 trillion gallons of water -- and quite possibly the cleanest anywhere.
The water is from rain and snow. No streams or rivers feed into it.

The following photos were taken around Sinnott Memorial Overlook.  It's one of just two overlooks that can be reached by car today.

I'm at Sinnott Memorial Overlook
The Klamath Indians believed two great Chiefs, Llao of the World Below, and Skell of the Above World, fought a battle that ended in the destruction of Mt. Mazama, (the volcano that created Crater Lake). The Klamaths shielded this revered area from white explorers until 1853 when three gold prospectors happened to come here by accident.  But!  Gold being more important at that time than the discovery of this lake, it was soon forgotten.
These are real photos. Taken with my cheap little Nikon Coolpix camera.
That is the REAL color of the lake.  No touch ups.
The depth of Crater Lake was first sounded by US Geological Survey Party Captain Clarence Dutton. From the stern of his survey boat, Capt. Dutton gauged the depth of Crater Lake at 1,996' using lead pipe and piano wire.  That crude measurement was surprisingly close!
That's us!
From Sinnott Memorial Overlook and Rim Village Visitors Center we drove the short distance to Crater Lake Lodge from where these pictures were taken:

Help! Get my sunglasses!

You can barely see the building behind these trees.

Pop with Lexie (rear) and Ozzie (front), looking dapper in their plaid coats.
Crater Lake Lodge, in the background, built in 1919, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
My sweetheart with Lake Klamath in the background.

Lexie (my right arm) and Ozzie (my left) do not like snow.
They walked only on the dry asphalt.  Ozzie left two footprints and a little yellow spot in the snow.

My great woodsman!

Snow hero.

These were taken at Discovery Point :

That's as far as we go folks!

Yet another beautiful snow scene. 

The ride home from Crater Lake

But at the end of the day, it's all about eating supper with Pop.

In the end, we feel we had about as perfect a day as possible for a visit to Crater Lake.  The fresh snow from the previous night was perfectly white, the skies were clear.   This could be my new favorite place.  I know... I say that about everything.