Monday, May 27, 2013

We Bought A Columbia Gorge Vintage Cabin!

Let's see...what would make our life even more complicated than it is at this point?
We are in the home stretch of prepping to leave on a one year RV sojourn around the US, tying up loose ends to leave work, and dotting all the “I's” and crossing all the “T's” as far as preparing to move out of our short term leased apartment. We are also dealing with semi-emergency dental work done on an impacted root canal I've been saddled with.
Well, how about purchasing a cabin!
Yup, as if we didn't have enough on our plate we have found a wonderful little classic 30's era cabin in the beautiful and historic Columbia Gorge; made an offer on it which was accepted, and are in the process of closing on it which should take place if all goes well just about the exact time that we are scheduled to leave for our trip.
As if things weren't stretched thin as they were...
Nope, we seem to relish the opportunity to immerse ourselves in as much to do as possible.
 We just couldn't resist it. We walked around the property and were mesmerized by the amazing vista of the Columbia Gorge hills and the peaceful 1/2 acre lot on a dead end road.

 It's also within walking distance to the historic town of Stevenson Washington. It was one of those "We are going to buy this property no matter what the issues are" and that's how you know you've found the right property. Normally I would poke into every corner of the lot and there is this huge "chicken house" in the upper back of the lot that's full of stuff. It's surrounded with ivy and hard to get to but I figure it'll be a blast poking around in there. (We'll let you know how that pans out!)
 We're now in a flurry of getting everything in order so we can close and then descend on the property and get a bunch of things accomplished at once. That's how we roll. And to borrow a line from another couple who are in the process of selling everything and driving around in their RV with their Father and 2 dogs "Crazy don't have nothin on us!" 
Their blog is here  You might visit and wish them well as they are struggling a bit. They bought a 1992 giganto RV "the blue banana" without driving it and are suffering a few consequences. We hope they sort it out!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Coming home from the beach...

We both took showers in the campground Saturday evening. First off, although cleanish, we were both glad we had shower thongs and sliders. Wouldn't want to share that wet cement with some of the other campers we noticed...just saying. Anyway it felt great to get the road grime off, and although the Pleasure Way RV does have a shower, we have yet to christen it. Basically you close the door, bring the shower curtain all the way around, and then the entire bathroom becomes a shower stall. Yup, sounds like the bathroom may get a tad moist, so although we will use it, we haven't as yet felt the need. That time will surely come.

We woke up early from a sound, but somewhat restless sleep. Sounds like an oxymoron huh? Well we were well rested because even though there were numerous late night merry makers, and the associated sounds of campfire life, we heard absolutely nothing. The interior of this RV is amazingly insulated and sound proof. We are VERY happy with how sound proof our little space capsule is. We were joking that we could probably get a great nights sleep right off a major highway (I'm sure that day will come too...) The restless part of our evening is due to the fact that although the RV's fold down, build up King size bed isn't horrible, it just can't hold even a dim candle to our ultra comfortable Stearns and Foster bed we sleep on at home. (Or, er, apartment, we DON'T consider it a home by any stretch of the imagination.) Anyway, we LOVE our S&F bed, and we have a lot of improvising to do to make the Pleasure Way's bedding area more comfortable. We love all the room the King Size are has to offer, but although the ultra leather couch and cushions that make up the bed are really comfortable for sitting, we need to tweak some things to improve it's sleepability. We are going to look into some kind of duel two person Thermarest sorta mattress pad. We don't know what we'll find, but that's on the to do list.
We took the animals both out for their morning walks. Erley once again took his sweet time. It's like what it must be like to take a sloth out for a stroll. Lot's of contemplation and study, very little actual walking. But it's nice to see he's enjoying harness life and not seemingly bummed out about his lot in life. It only took us about a half hour to break down the camp and stow away the gear and we were off. It's great being so damn mobile. We are quite smug as we drive past the mountains of belongs piled in every corner of the average campsite. It must take months to break camp.

We drove back into Astoria and had a great breakfast at the Blue Scorcher Cafe, another great eatery in this town. I had an Almond Bearclaw with maple frosting, and Jerani had the Potato Bread Cinnamon Roll. They are a really good bakery.

This bakery also has loads of vegetarian and vegan specialties, and a large array of specialty drinks. They bake everything from scratch, and take a lot of pride in both the quality and the selection.

We took our bounty and drove down to the waterfront next to the very nice Astoria Maritime Museum and ate our breakfast sitting on a bench watching the big ships that were heading down the Columbia. It was only 9am and it was already close to 70 degrees and just plain beautiful out.

After breakfast we took a stroll around the museum grounds and then took off for home. It was a an uneventful journey home (which by RV driving standards means it was a "great trip home".) We stored the RV, slogged everything back to the apartment, and voila, another successful trip under our belts!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Taking the cat to the beach

We took our second official road trip this past weekend to the Oregon Coast. This would be another dress rehearsal for the real thing. Each time we take out the RV we learn several new things about what it is we are in for once we take off for good. We always work in one or two major learning experiences into each of our outings, and this trip would not be any different. On this trip we would take Erley (our seven year old Exotic Short-hair cat) on his first extended overnight journey.

Jerani picked me up after work Friday so we could get a jump on the traffic. We hit the road around 1:30 pm and headed down Interstate 5 to Longview, then across the Lewis and Clarke Bridge,
where we took Hwy 30 west to Astoria, and then continued on to Warrenton and Fort Stevens State Park at the mouth of the Columbia River. It was windy driving conditions down I-5 (what's new), but gorgeous weather for May. I'm getting somewhat used to driving while being buffeted by strong side-winds. We're starting to wonder if it's always been this windy around here or if we are just becoming hyper sensitive to it when driving the Pleasure Way. Anyway, I didn't whimper like a little school girl quite as much, so I must be getting conditioned to the potentially life threatening gusts. Once we crossed the Columbia into Oregon and started down Highway 30 the drive was nice. It seemed easy driving once we left the strongest of the winds behind us. The day was beautiful; sunny with bright blue skies. It was easy to start getting excited by the prospects of this type of life being an every day occurrence.

We entered the little city of Astoria around three o'clock. Astoria oozes with history, being one of the oldest cities in Oregon, as well as the whole Northwest. 
Named after John Jacob Astor, founder of the Pacific Fur Company who in 1811 established Fort Astoria, the primary fur trading post in the Pacific Northwest and the first permanent U.S. Settlement on the Pacific Coast. It was a strategic seaport in a desirable location, just a (really long) stones throw from the mouth of the Columbia. The city has a history which goes all the way back to the final stopping off point of the Lewis and Clark expedition at Fort Clatsop, just west of Astoria. 
The city was a major trading hub and a very prosperous fishing port. The city also has a bit of a sordid past; with opium dens, shanghais, and other seedy happenings being the rule and not the exception during the heydays of early shipping in this Northwest port of call. 
A good portion of the original city was built out on piers that stretched into the Columbia River. A huge fire in 1883 destroyed a huge amount of the city, and afterwards the downtown buildings were constructed of stone.
The city boasts many classic Queen Anne homes which look down from the steep hills that rise up from the river. 
The Astoria Column, a 125 foot tower built in 1926 by the Astor family, crowns Coxcomb Hill, one of the highest points in the city. 

Another point of interest for the city is the number of feature films made in the city. Some of the movies shot here are The Goonies, Kindergarten Cop, Free Willy 1 & 2, Into the Wild, The Black Stallion, just to name a few. 
(A little known fact is that I was an extra in Free Willy 2, a monumentally epic film. I played “Environmental Protection Agent #1”, during subsequent shootings of the film on Lopez Island, Washington. I got the part because I was one of only two extras to audition that owned a decent suit. It was a part without lines, but one that I really felt I explored and fleshed out to my fullest capacity.)
We stopped at Marie Antionette's Cupcake & Espresso Parlor, a wonderfully quirky little shop located in the classic Astoria National Bank building. 
We love their cupcakes and this time we bought two Espresso Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream Frosting, 
and two Vanilla Sour Cream Cupcakes filled with Lemon Curd and topped with Meringue Frosting. 
These aren't ordinary run of the mill cupcakes, but little works of edible art. These people are obviously pastry chefs and along with the eclectic artistic surroundings, Marie Antionette's is definitely a must see when visiting Astoria.
We continued on to Fort Stevens State Park. This park is HUGE, and although there were lots of campers due to the unseasonable warm weather, they still had only opened a third of the camping spaces at their disposal. This is a great home base for exploring the northern part of the Oregon Coast, being close enough to Gearhart, Seaside, Cannon Beach, and Manzinita, along with numerous beachy destinations all easily reachable as day trips. 
That and the fact the park has a lake, several beach entrances, an extensive historic fort with numerous gun placements,
trails galore, and beautifully wooded campsites.
We found our site and hooked up and kicked back with some music. After about an hour or so of relaxing we took Erley out for his first official RV kitty leash walk. Erley yowled and cried a little on the trip down, but for the most part he was a true champion for it being his first jaunt in the RV and he deserved a little R & R. Once outside the confines of the vehicle he just flourished. He doesn't fight us at all, but just slowly explores his surroundings. He loved the little wooded trails running up behind the campsite, and although Jerani was getting eaten alive by crazy early season mosquito, she persevered and walked with him for close to a half an hour. It was a rousing success!
Erley lounging after his big walk.

After several more walks involving either Max or Erley, or both of them, we settled back in the RV and made a wonderful dinner of Bone in Rib Steaks (that I butchered before leaving Friday), baked potatoes with the fixings, and zucchini. We cooked the steaks and zucchini on a grill over the outdoor fire pit. It was DELICIOUS! 

  Erley used his litter box a couple of times in the evening and we just cleaned it out and turned on the fantastic fan and the odor dissipated instantly. The Shweat Scoop litter has an oaty odor and is super light and also clumping so it worked perfectly.

We made up the king bed and settled down for the evening. Erley camped out at the end of the bed and seemed pretty content. Max had his usual spot with a lot more room than normal as we have a queen bed at home. This RV was the only one with a king bed in the back and we think it's pretty luxurious for a class b RV. Actually in any RV. Most of the class c's that we saw had only double or queen beds that weren't even full queen size. There's also something about having your own restroom that makes you quite smug. When you get up in the middle of the night it's just so much easier than getting dressed and walking to the restroom in the dark.

The next morning Erley was raring to go outside for a walk again and we did wander him around a little, but the mosquitos were so thick that we decided to drive out to the beach for a walk. We found a nice spot and took Erley out. He wasn't too keen on the wide open space and wanted to go back in the RV. We just picked him up and carried him with us to the dune above the beach and put him down. He was a little bewildered but looked around in amazement. He's a pretty good sport overall. Max was showing off running by him and kicking sand in his face. We took some good pics and then let him lead us back to the RV. He went right along going the way he wanted to go. :)

Who's having the most fun?

Has anybody ever taken a cat to the beach before?