11 hours of driving brought us to LePage and Philippi Parks, 30 miles east of The Dalles, Oregon. We’re camped right on the shore of a pretty inlet off the Columbia River, and the campground is run by the Corps of Engineers. It’s sunny and mid-50s even at 6:30 p.m., and if the wind would die down, we could have a last campfire. But this is famous wind-surfing territory, so we won’t expect it to calm. Our Garmin GPS tells us we’ll be home mid-day tomorrow, and we’re eager to arrive. This is a nice end to another wonderful winter in the Baja, despite the lack of our pretty blue Hobie kayak on top of the trailer (see post from last Thursday if you’re interested in that story).
Monday, April 4, 2011
Adrienne and Justin drove out to the Boulder County Fairgrounds this morning where we’ve been camped the last 4 nights to join us for breakfast in the trailer. We had a pleasant and leisurely meal and visit, gave Justin a “ tour” of life in a tiny RV, said our good-byes, then they headed out to do chores and homework, and we hit the highway at 9:30.
It felt like a long day as it was cold (low of 22, high of 49 outside, with the trailer 44 degrees inside on arrival at our campsite), windy (30+mph) and sometimes icy with blowing snow, all at elevations between 5,000 and 8,000 feet, so our progress was slow. We saw two 18-wheeler trucks over-turned on the side of the highway, witnessed one car spin-out into the snow in the median, and our truck and trailer skidded once while Bob was driving, but he got it under control without incident. It does NOT feel like winter is over along Interstate 80.
So we made it to Brigham City, Utah about 7:30 pm and will hit the road again in the morning. We expect to be home by Wednesday night at the latest, perhaps earlier that day.
Two attributes Boulder shares with Seattle are beautiful scenery and politics (left leaning). These features draw us to the town and make us feel readily comfortable here. The characteristic in which they share almost nothing is WEATHER! Yesterday it was sunny and 80 degrees in Boulder. Today it was 32 and snowing by afternoon, though the morning was a bit warmer. When we returned to the Artic Fox after dinner Sunday night, it was 34 degrees outside and 45 degrees inside. BRRRR! We’re telling ourselves this is preparing us to be back home in 3 days, where it’s been cold and wet much of the past 5 months.
We’ve had a great visit here. Saturday Bob and Cathryn met Adrienne and her good friend C-May, walked to the Pearl Street pedestrian mall and had lunch at the Boulder Café. We spent Saturday night at Adrienne’s apartment, and after dinner her boyfriend Justin taught us a card game that is popular in the midwest where he grew up: Euchre. Bob and Cathryn had “beginner’s luck” and won!
Sunday we had planned to go on a hike, but the weather interfered, so the four of us took a walk along Boulder Creek before it began snowing, then went on a tour of the Avery Brewery in the afternoon. Sunday night found us at Buddha Café for Thai food for dinner. We’ve had lots of good food and socializing for three days, and tomorrow we hit the road for home. We’re glad we made this stop that was a little out of the way on our way home from Baja.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Thursday morning when we pulled out of the campground south of Colorado Springs, we did our usual “walk-around” the trailer to make sure everything was ready to go: electricity and water un-hooked and stored, stairs stowed, roof vents closed, spare tire and kayak looking secure on the roof, stabilizer jacks and front support legs retracted, etc. And we were off!
Winds and gusts were very high on the drive to Boulder, but we made good time and arrived seemingly without incident. Yesterday morning Bob climbed the ladder at the rear of the trailer to the roof, to install a new vent cap to replace one that came off a couple weeks ago, and noticed . . . . umm . . . . something missing . . . . like a kayak????
That’s right, our two-person Hobie kayak was no longer on top of the trailer! It was very windy last night in Boulder, so we looked around the campground hoping to see that the kayak had blown off and landed on the ground. Nope. Cathryn went to the campground office and asked the woman there whether she recalled seeing our kayak on the roof when we arrived yesterday. She had no recollection either way.
On closer examination, Bob found that two of the eye-bolts embedded in the trailer’s roof and to which the webbing straps secured the kayak to the roof, were missing. Either the wind gusts alone, or perhaps the gusts combined with gradual losing of the eyebolts over 20,000 miles of driving, caused the system to fail. We now have a new item for our pre-departure check list (assuming we replace the boat)!
Bob called the Colorado State Patrol and the Department of Transportation to report the loss. We were worried we might have caused an accident, or even injured or killed someone if the kayak fell off in the high winds! Bob reported the hours during which we were driving, the highways we took, and a description of the kayak. Both people he talked to seemed more concerned about whether they might find and return our kayak to us than whether we might have caused any accidents or injuries.
Now, a day later later, we’ve heard nothing back from either the State Patrol or Dept of Transportation. Heavy sigh.
Today we met our daughter Adrienne’s boyfriend, Justin, and he seems like a great guy. It’s especially satisfying to see how happy he makes our daughter.
In addition to making Adrienne happy, he was also willing to invite her parents to his place, and cook dinner for them the first time he ever met them. Dinner was great: baked sweet potatoes with walnuts, baked spiced chicken, and home made bread!
Justin also showed us around the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm where he is interning. A CSR is devised to provide its members, in this case 28 people, a weekly basket of seasonal vegetables and some fruit during the growing season in exchange for a fixed payment. Justin is the only full-time employee, and in addition to his day-to- day work on the farm, he manages the work of those members who choose to buy a “work-share” at a reduced price in return for committing to work 72 hours on the farm during the year. The goal of this farm is not only to be sustainable, but also to create a model system that others can duplicate.
We came away with the conclusion that we liked this man.
Friday, April 1, 2011
Ryan, our son, attended law school in Boulder, Colorado some years back, so we made several trips to the city during that time and always enjoyed it. Now our youngest daughter Adrienne is about to graduate from the University here, so we’ve made additional visits during her 4 years in town.
We arrived this morning from Colorado Springs and set up camp in Longmont, at the ONLY place within 30 minutes drive of campus: the Boulder County Fairgrounds, which has a decent, though nothing fancy, parking lot with electric hook-ups, water, a dump station, a bathroom and garbage AND recycling cans. The latter is important because the Seattle area where we live is seriously into recycling, but Baja Mexico, California, Arizona and New Mexico are not. So we’ve been carrying a box of beer bottles and crushed aluminum cans for quite awhile that we’re happy to have disposed of today.
We spent the afternoon at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) just up a hill from the city. The NCAR is a federally funded center engaged in research and development in the atmospheric and related sciences, funded primarily by the National Science Foundation and working in conjunction with 60 universities around the country as well as numerous partners worldwide.
We learned a lot about the study of atmospheric influences and related topics including climate, weather, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and the cryosphere. The attractive facility was built 50 years ago, designed by world-renowned architect I.M. Pei, and it has stood the test of time remarkably well in our view.
Later we parked near the Pearl Street pedestrian mall and sat at an outdoor table for a beer and shared salad. When the wind died down at times, we were happy in the 68 degree sun. It’s a lively, interesting place for people-watching, and we enjoyed the afternoon. Tomorrow we’ll see our daughter Adrienne and meet her boyfriend Justin for the first time.