Traveling Along with Steve & Jan
April ~ October 2007
arrived at our home in
about a month’s time, we were ready “to crank it up and move it out”. We are heading west – to prospect for
adventure for the summer months. Our
first stop is
next stop was the Great Lakes Area Spring Spree (GLASS) Rally held
The GLASS Rally is a fun, educational, and interesting Rally. On the first night, we won a $10.00 Rally gift certificate. Steve enrolled in a Safe Driver Class which he found informative and Jan participated in safety classes such as the use of hand signals used by the co-pilot when backing the RV and how important supplemental brakes are on a tow vehicle.
Creek Winery had a small bus take GLASS Rally goers to their fruit farm. The Lemon Family established the farm in
1834. With rolling, clay loam hills and
the moderating effects of Lake Michigan, this farm grows some of the best
westward, we drove into
Lava Hot Springs, the State of
40,000 vehicles drive onto the
Our volunteer assignment finds us involved with a variety of assignments. Helping at the Kids Free Fishing Day was lots of fun. Our task was to help children under the age of four casts a miniature, handmade fishing rod complete with reel into a small child’s pool. The challenge to the child was to attract a magnetic wooden fish head to a magnetic wooden fish tail. This task was harder than it looked. Yet, when a youngster's fish was completed the smiles on the kids’ faces were priceless.
activity we got involved in was the annual 4th of July Marathon Run
participant receives a bowl of strawberry shortcake upon completion of the
race. This is where we came in. In order to provide strawberry shortcake for
each runner, the strawberries had to be prepared. The strawberries are donated by a local farm
and on a designated day, folks gather at the Grange Hall to wash, slice, and
prepare the strawberry topping for the shortcake. Knowing that this activity needed many
hands, we volunteered to help “prepare the strawberries”. What we did not know was that there were 40
flats of strawberries needing attention.
Luckily, 30 volunteers arrived to tackle the project. We were introduced to the
have has the wonderful opportunity to visit with many friends during our stay
addition to the Buckinghams, we visited with Brian and Kay Murray, whom we also
met when we hosted at
our second trip to
has been thirty five years since
After the dedication ceremony, a tour bus gathered us up for an interesting and educational tour of the new facility. Two camping loops and fifteen cabins later, everyone gathered for a delicious outdoor barbeque cook-out. After the ceremony, we sat down with Jim and Liz Rottinghouse, who were hosting at the Park, to digest our lunch and rest our bones.
Row, located near
such movie, “El Immigrant”, is an award – winning documentary that examines the
escalating Mexican and American border crisis.
The movie tells the story of a young Mexican migrant worker who was shot
and killed crossing into
Another movie shown at The Hollywood , “Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox”, tells the story of eccentric soap maker and philosopher who escaped from an insane asylum in 1947 and went on to create the counterculture’s favorite cleaning product. The peppermint infused, all – natural, multi – purpose soap is famous for its eco-friendly production and 3,000 word label, designed, in Dr. Bronner’s words, “to unite all mankind free”. We enjoyed the movie as we have been using Dr. Bonner’s peppermint liquid soap in the shower for many years. Perhaps we can claim that we are “cool man – cool”.
Pearl District is another neighborhood located in
participated in an all day walking and tasting tour along the tree – lined
streets of the Pearl District. We walked
along cobblestone streets and viewed vibrant public art. The fragrance of the brewing hops from local
breweries and then sampling the breweries products was lots of fun. We
tasted everything from coffee, to freshly baked bread, to vegetarian pizza, to
chocolates. What an interesting and
delicious way to learn about such a unique neighborhood in
course, there are many tourist activities around the
1800, the Lewis and Clark expedition discovered the mouth of the
Mount Hood Steam Excursion Train travels through the
Speaking of dining, the food aboard the sternwheeler was delicious northwest cuisine. Upon boarding the boat, a continental breakfast was served. Of course this being our first time, we had already eaten breakfast. But, true to natural instinct, we ate again. Then came a luncheon buffet with chicken, beef, and all the fixings you could eat. Then, in mid afternoon came desert with cheesecake, lemon bars and all the fixings.
between all the eating, the captain told us about the history of the area and
pointed out interesting landmarks such as
to see friends across the
for rest and repose the
entering the Garden, the hope is to realize a sense of peace, harmony, and
tranquility. After passing through the
antique gate, we stepped through the Wisteria Arbor that was designed as a
frame for the antique 5 – tired stone pagoda lantern given to
course, after all that walking, we needed nourishment and what better place
than Papa Haydn to satisfy ones craving for sweets. Steve ordered a banana coconut cream pie
which consisted of: coconut pastry cream layered with fresh bananas and topped
with bittersweet chocolate whipped cream in a shortbread crust. Jan had the Italian boccone dolce which
consisted of (is your mouth watering yet?): Swiss meringue drizzled with dark chocolate, layered with fresh fruit
We ran across a very unique restaurant on the east side of
it was time to ready the coach as it was time to leave
next day, we started the engine, hooked the tow vehicle onto the rear of the
coach and we headed southeast to
left the train station in
One of the highlights of any International Rally is the private VIP Thank You night sponsored by our coach manufactures Prevost Car and Parliament Coach. This is an evening to renew friendships, participate in a fun activity, and partake of delicious food.
We were picked up at the fairgrounds and transported to the Eagle Crest Resort were we were greeted by the President of the Prevost Car Company. This year the party’s theme was titled: A Timberland Trail Adventure. As the theme suggests, lumberjacks demonstrated the jobs of a logging crew, such as “whistle punk” or “high climber”. The whistle punk’s job was to act as a safety lookout. The high climber (also known as a tree topper) ascended tall trees and cut off limbs as he climbed. Then, he would chop off the top of the tree. Another skill demonstrated was the art of log rolling – staying on top of a floating log while using a walking motion to “roll” the logs.
During the reception, everyone munched on appetizers such as smoked creek trout, camp sausage chunks, and stuff- stump mushrooms. The Sawdust Trio played and sang lumberjack songs while professional lumberjacks taught us how to throw an ax, climbed a tree, chop a tree, and more. Before dinner, the American Lumberjack Association performed a series of logging techniques such as the underhanded chop, the double buck vs. stock saw, the standing chop, the hot saw and log rolling in the form of a completion.
Dinner was billed as a logger’s camp mess. Each dinner course was named as a cut. The first cut was sweet jack slaw; the second cut was BBQ Tri Tip, northwest salmon, and spice rub pork; the third cut was huckleberry, wildberry, and apple cobblers, brownies, cookies and heavy sweet cream. Everyone had lots of fun “logging” and a full belly by the time the buses returned to take us back to the fairgrounds.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife along with Oregon State Parks operated a booth at the FMCA International Convention to promote volunteerism in the two agencies. Jan volunteered in the booth along with our good friends Jim and Liz Rottinghouse. We estimate that over 200 Convention attendees visited our booth to learn more about volunteer on public lands. Perhaps, we will be volunteering with some of these people in the near future.
After a fun filled FMCA motor home convention, we started our eastward journey heading towards Idaho. Stopping at Givens Hot Springs in western Idaho we soaked our bones in warm mineral waters. We love to explore hot springs, and Givens Hot Springs is a great place to unwind and to rest and relax. We spent a couple of nights there reflecting on the fantastic summer we had just experienced in Oregon. From Givens Hot Springs, we continued eastward and arrived at Camas National Wildlife Refuge to begin our next volunteer assignment for the period mid-August thru the first week of October.
Camas National Wildlife Refuge is located in southeastern Idaho, 36 miles north of Idaho Falls. The Refuge comprises over 21,000 acres of which half of the acres are lakes, ponds, and marshland. The reminder of the acreage consists of grass/sagebrush upland and meadows. Camas Creek flows for eight miles through the length of the Refuge and is the source of water for many of the lakes and ponds. The National Wildlife Refuge system has preserved major waterfowl areas along the migratory flyways. Camas NWR is one of many links in the chain of refuges in the Pacific Flyway. When we arrived, we were greeted by Rob Larranaga, Refuge Manager at Camas for the past 4 years.
The present site the Camas NWR was once a favorite hunting ground of the Native American tribes. In the late 1800s, the area became part of a large livestock ranch and then, later the land was divides units and crops were cultivated for livestock feed. After being a stage coach stop in the early 1900s, crews from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) constructed the headquarters buildings, water control structures, and bridges in the 1930s. Camas NWR was established in 1937with the primary purpose to manage the habitat to benefit nesting waterfowl, and to provide resting and feeding habit for spring and fall migrating ducks, geese, and other waterfowl.
Camas is visited by a variety of migratory visitors such songbirds (yellow-headed blackbird), waterfowl (tundra and trumpeter swans), water birds (great blue heron) and the white-faced ibis), hawks, and owls. Non-migratory birds include the ring necked pheasant and sage grouse.
Camas has a wide assortment of mammals that are regularly observed such as muskrat, beaver, cottontail and porcupine. One day, we came upon a coyote walking along side of the Refuse’s driving route. The coyote was aware of our presents; but, none-the-less, was set on a mission of looking for food. Occasionally, one might see a long-tailed weasel, badger, and red fox. Rodents such as meadow vole, ground squirrel, and deer mouse are hunted by the refuge predator looking for a meal. Camas is unique because of the large variety of big game animals present in such as small area. Many a times, we came upon white-tailed deer and moose grazing in the marches bad willows along Camas Creek. The Refuge is home to elk, moose and antelope.
Of the endangered and rare species, Camas NWR has its share of inhabitants. Bald eagles are present throughout the winter months. In 1983, the Refuge erected a nesting tower to re-introduce the endangered peregrine falcon. Six years later, they nested successfully in the tower and have done so every year since. Trumpeter Swans nest on the Refuge nearly every year. They are present at all seasons, but along with tundra swans, are most abundant during the spring and fall migrations.
Potatoes are another huge crop grown in this area. Potatoes are harvested during the fourth week of September and the first week of October. Everyone is involved in the harvesting of potatoes. I mean everyone. The businesses and schools close for the two week period. The two major jobs in the operation are sorting potatoes and driving the potatoes to storage. These jobs pay around $11.00 per hour and the working day is 15 to 16 hours long. Anyone who can drive a stick shift goes into the fields to fill their truck with potatoes. Anyone who does not drive sorts potatoes.
The Refuge is very much under-staffed. Without volunteers, most of the basic maintenance would not be done. The Refuge has a Manager and one maintenance employee Farrell Downs. When we arrived there was another volunteer couple, John and Sharon Dollar, who was carrying the load of mowing, watering, painting, landscaping, cleaning, and many more jobs on the Refuge. The Dollars are seasoned Camas volunteers as this was their fourth year volunteering on the Refuge. They taught us about the operations of the Refuge, where the supplies were located, how to travel around the area, and what to see and tour. Together, we worked as a team shoveling gravel, laying concrete, keeping the computers and printers up and running, watering the lawns and much, much more. Thank you John and Sharon for all of your help and kindness.
Another one of our road trips was an hour and a half drive from Camas NWR to the Grand Teton and the National Elk Refuge in Jackson, Wyoming. First, we stopped at the National Elk Refuge Headquarters to learn more about the Refuge’s history. The Refuge was established in 1912. That year, the first winter census showed about 20,000 elk residing in Jackson Hole and the Hoback River drainage. Today, the herd numbers have increased due to the acquisition of additional acreage and the restrictions placed upon livestock grazing on the land.
As the story is told, Teton Jackson, in the jail for being a horse thief, sells his cabin in 1885 to Robert Miller. In 1898, the Miller House was constructed. In August 1912, Congress appropriates $45,000 for purchase of lands to create the National Elk Refuge. By 1914, the Miller House and 1,240 acres become the nucleus of the Refuge. The Miller House is placed on the National Register of Historical Places, in 1969. Then, in 2001, the Miller Barn was included on the list. After extensive renovation, the Miller House was opened to the public as a historical site in 2005. Tours of the Miller House are given daily by the volunteers of the Refuge.
Teton Jackson legacy continues to this day. A mountain range, named the Grand Teton, bears his name along with the city located at the base of these mountains named Jackson Hole. Today, Jackson Hole is bustling town attracting tourist from all over the world because of its million dollar view of the Teton Mountains.
On our way back to Camas, we stopped at Green Canyon to soak in the warm mineral waters again to soak away the stress we do not have. Warm mineral waters are very beneficial to cleanse the skin of the bather and to promote improved blood circulation. I bet you are thinking, “Wow, those Mondls must have race car blood circulation due to all the hot springs in which they have soak”. Well, maybe that is true. We just know they warm mineral waters relax us and sooths our soul.
Every fall, staff and volunteers gather early in the morning, on the Camas Refuge, to count Sandhill. The Cranes are beginning their migratory flight along the Pacific flyway. This event takes place in Mid September before the sunrises. In fact, we set up the camera’s tripod and took some of the most spectacular shots one has ever seen of the sun rising over the mountains of Idaho.
We left the Refuge Headquarters at 6:30 in the morning. Each observer had an area of the Refuge to watch and count as the Sandhill Cranes either flew over the area or were on the grounds of the Refuge. In less than two hours, the observers counted more than 500 Cranes. We drove to the furthest point on the grounds and counted over 180 Cranes flying in a V formation. Later, as we were driving the tour route on the Refuge, we suddenly came upon 60 Cranes in a pond. We must have surprised the birds as suddenly the flock flew into the sky from the water resulting in a mad counting frenzy on our part.
In addition, to our counting of Cranes, we saw and photographed six moose – two bulls and four cows. Along the roadside, we came upon two, very large porcupines. Needless to say, we did not lower our windows to take any pictures of these guys. In the Refuge’s fields, there were herds of deer numbering three maybe four dozen.
So as you can imagine the morning was exciting and full of birds and critters. We have been told by many tourists that Camas NWR is the best location to observe wildlife. Many a tourist, who has visited Yellowstone National Park, has told us that they did not see one moose in the Park. At Camas, it is almost an everyday occurrence to observe a variety of birds and animals in their natural habitat. Luck Us!!
We had another opportunity to visits with Brian and Kay Murray as they stopped by Camas NWR on their way eastward to spend time with their daughter, their son and their families. We drove out on the Refuge early in the morning and right before the sun settled in the evening. The wildlife we observed was amazing.
Kay said she had never seen a bull moose. On one of our outing not only did we observe a bull moose with his mate but, next to the cow were her two baby twins. Then, we happened upon a herd of perhaps 60 to 70 elk. One of our photos shows a group of males. Another photo, of a lone buck on a hill, reminded us of the Hartford commercial on TV.
We had been on the Refuge almost an hour when Brian, Kay, Steve and I had the thrill of a lifetime. We were following this herd of 60 to 70 elk across the fields. Suddenly, the whole herd looped around and crossed the road in front of our vehicle. We grabbed our cameras and began to shoot pictures of the herd crossing in front of us.
When we returned to the Coach, we immediately download the photos into the computer. Our photos were a little blurred due to the running of the herd and the dust they were kicking up off the ground. Yet, the elk had provided us with a scene that could best be described as an everlasting, breathtaking memory. We believe the Murrays will never forget their visit to Camas NWR.
Spud Harvest is an annual event taking place the last week of September and the first week of October in Northern Idaho. We are sure you have heard of and probably have eaten many times the famous Idaho Russet Potato. Idaho’s economy is heavily dependent upon a successful Spud Harvest. Every business and all of the schools close their doors for two weeks while everyone harvests potatoes.
There are potatoes galore. Harvesting in the fields begins at daybreak and continues long into the night. Anyone with a driver’s license is asked to drive the huge dump trucks and enormous 18 wheelers that are overflowing with potatoes. The potatoes are transported to huge earthen covered barns for storage. In these storage barns, the potatoes will stay fresh with cool temperature – about mid 40’s – for about four months. Our tour of a local potato processing plant, Larson Farms, showed us how potatoes are washed, sorted, and boxed for companies like Green Giant and bagged for your local grocery store. Never again will we look at potatoes as a lowly vegetable.
All too soon, it was time to start up the Coach’s engine and head back to Ohio. The drive eastward was beautiful with the fall leaves appearing on the trees in the mountains. We had a chance to visit with Joe and Carol Mottet, in Iowa, and catch up on a few years of memories. We arrived at our home in Barberton only to learn that just a few weeks prior a storm hit the area. Our home was dry and the only clue of the storm was a few branches down in the back yard. Of course, branches helped us start our nightly campfires.
Thanks to all who helped make this summer’s adventure a memory to remember. Hopefully, our paths will cross again in the near future. Until then, our very best wishes to you and your Family for a healthy and safe fall season and a Blessed Thanksgiving full of joy and happiness.
Thanks for "Traveling Along with Steve & Jan".