Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Brookings, OR

Oregon has been a pleasant surprise, cool weather on the coast, really fresh fish, nice people, and quiet. Smoke from a large fire nearby the only downside. Not much going on with me, trying to stay off the motorcycle until my foot heals. There is a neverending supply of small repairs and modifications that keep me a little busy, waiting for the end of the ash so I can wash the bus.  A trip to the RV store and my leaky water heater is fixed. 

Some of the unforeseen difficulties with being houseless are how many institutions need you to have a permanent address.  DMV, health insurance, car insurance, credit card companies, all are not happy with the gypsy lifestyle. Imposing on our parents for now, but that means we are paying California taxes, Ugh.

A month in one place is just about right. Enough time to explore the local beaches, parks, and restaurants. Crab season is closed, but I can still buy rockfish of the fishing boats in the harbor.  Taking Chloe for a sunset walk on the beach is the highlight of our day.

I started editing the first 360 videos I took in Bryce National park. The vibration from my camera mount makes the video almost unwatchable so I'm using it as a training tool.  I have since moved the mount to my helmet. I still need a good vibration-isolating mount for my SLR.  I've been taking a lot of stills, thinking of starting a shutterfly account.

Took Stewie to the vet and after an exhaustive series of tests found he has chronic rhinitis, antibiotics and steroids are the answer. It took the vet a little over one week to isolate a problem our vet in LA couldn't solve in a year. Good news: Stewie's feeling better. Bad news: Stewie is feeling better, let's just say he's not happy about being an indoor cat so much any more.

Eclipse viewing was a little challenging.  Brimming with overconfidence, we set out at about 9:30 looking for a road up into the hills above the fog. Remember the fire I mentioned? Boned! Never got a clear view, we did however manage to view it through a filter of smoke and fog that worked about as well as our eclipse glasses.

In financial news we opened a managed brokerage account with some of the proceeds of the house sale. My pension and old 401k are now under new management as well.  We will track our earnings over the next year and see how it compares to my Vanguard and Fidelity accounts. Highly recommend Personal Capital app for tracking your finances (I'm not a shill for them, just like the app)

The Smoky Oregon Coast and Wine Country Plans

The Klamath River meets the Pacific on a smoky Sunday

Brookings is a lovely little town and our RV park by the marina is a little slice of heaven on earth, but the smoke from the nearby wildfires can be pretty intense at times.  Fortunately, the wind in this little spot generally favors us. We settle down in the coach on bad air days (eye-guzzled Game of Thrones on super fast unlimited Calyx internet last week - yahoo!) and we explore the nearby beaches and redwoods the rest of the time.  The temperature here has been a consistent 55-70 degrees, friends and family elsewhere in California are suffering 110+ degree temperatures so we'll trade occasional smoke for record-breaking heat for now.

A smoky afternoon at the marina
It's becoming clear that we need some help of the medical professional sort if Lance's foot is ever going to finish healing. We continue to religiously do everything the Los Angeles doctors instructed, yet there's one spot that continues to heal at a glacier pace.  So we are redirecting our next move from the NorthEast leaf-peeping we had originally planned to Fall in the Wine Country so he can get the medical attention he needs to expedite recovery.  Since our travel plans revolve around twisting throttle in cool locations, this needs to be priority, because any motorcycle riding just sets us back.

The Coast Guard station on a smoky afternoon

Moving insurance plans from SoCal to NoCal has turned out to be an much bigger undertaking than we had expected. Apparently there's an imaginary line somewhere in middle California across which Kaiser communication dare not cross.  It's almost like they are two different companies... on two different planets.  We are muddling through it.  The premium billing is finally straightened out (now they are finally crediting our account for the payments they take automatically every month - a welcome new development), we have new NoCal identity cards and Lance has an appt with a primary care physician in Napa in September, which is the first step to getting in to see the podiatry specialists in Santa Rosa.  Not the NorthEast leaf-peeping we had planned for this time of year, but getting redirected to the wine country for the Fall season also doesn't suck.  It will be nice to catch up with friends and family and not have a strict return-to-work deadline. We are hot on the trail of RV camp reservations in an assortment of places commutable to Santa Rosa.

The Brookings Harbor Marina at sunset

Hoping to move on with healthy feet before Halloween, I have a hankering to do an epic Day of the Dead celebration - I've heard Arizona does 'em right.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Brookings, OR, land of Sasquatch, fog and fishing

The drive from Trinity Lakes to the coast was one of the most beautiful roads I've ever seen.  Many times I wished I'd been on the motorcycle instead of the Subaru, and Lance was surely thinking the same thing while driving the bus and trailer.  Highway 299 follows Pine Creek and then the Mad River and it's just breathtaking.

Paddlers on the Mad River
Chloe actually leans into the curves. She's done this in my sports car since she was a puppy.  We've always thought she'd make a good motorcycle dog, we just need to figure out a way to do it safely and we haven't finished thinking that one through yet. 
Dog is my copilot
Highway 101 was under major construction here and there where the road simply washed down the cliff and vanished.  Around Arcata we hit the fog, and it was a welcome break from the heat.  We settled in at Brookings, OR where the ambient temperature is 63 degrees and foggy.  This RV park is about 1/3 park model homes, very quiet and peaceful here, we bring down the average age by at least 20 years and Chloe brings up the average dog size by at least 15 lbs.

Across the street are restaurants, bars and the marina which is currently setting up for some sort of a pirate event.  The internet is very fast here with all 3 methods, which means unlimited Calyx (yay).  Lance's foot is making good recovery progress, finally, resting, elevation, tight control of the blood sugar and staying off the motorcycle are all helping.  We like it here, we are going to extend our stay past Labor Day if they'll have us. This is a good spot to hole up and hide from the summer heat for a little while, make medical and work progress, and consider our next direction.

The Marina at Brookings, OR
Oh, and the solar eclipse is coming... we won't be fully in the path of totality, but we'll be close enough to enjoy an almost complete solar eclipse on the 21st.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Trinity Alps, finding some balance

Trinity Lakes, CA was just the downtime we needed to reconnect, settle in and establish some healthy routines.  We are finally finding that rhythm Lance was looking for.  We eat when we're hungry, sleep when we're tired.  Work or play during reasonable hours.

We've exchanged helicopters for dragonflies
The Mini KAT burger shack onsite at the KOA at Trinity Lakes makes one of the best burgers I've ever had. Other than that, there's not much going on.  There's not really any shopping, no restaurants to negotiate for the night, no television.

I really don't miss the television at all.  Now that I look back on it, I marvel at all the hours we spent on it before. Reclaiming those hours means we cook at home more, the dog gets more walks, we get to know the neighborhood (I've met more people in the last few weeks than in months when I was a homeowner), we are viewing more sunsets, and we even got out and paddled on the lake the other day.

With better balance I find I am able to focus more on the task in front of me - whether it be client work, loving on the pets, or even a simple RV project. It's been a long time since I've felt this way, this realignment was way past due.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Scott Mountain and Adventures in Internet Access

We left Lincoln Thursday headed for Trinity Lakes, CA, 200 miles or so, it should have been an easy run.  Then somewhere around Redding the RV's GPS and the GPS in the Subaru started to disagree.  In the Subaru I was running Waze which said to go left along the 299 and we'd be there in little over an hour.  The Garmin 770 in the RV directed Lance on a very wide Northern loop through Scotts Valley, adding 160+ miles and a few hours to our ride.

Mount Shasta on the horizon - wearing a lot of snow still for this late in July
We pulled into a parking lot in Redding and discussed our options.  In the end we decided the Garmin was configured for the RV height and weight and must know something about a low bridge or something along those lines that Waze didn't acknowledge.  So we decided to follow the RV GPS, even though it was longer it surely must be safer.

So on we went through Scotts Valley, a singularly beautiful place full of dragonflies and adorable frolicking sheep.  Lovely.  At the South end of Scotts Valley we discovered Scott Mountain.

Scotts Valley
How the GPS thought this was the preferable route still eludes us both.  Between the terrifying declines, narrow roads and the sheer no-guardrail dropoffs that had me cringing every time the trailer bumped the edge of the road, and the switchbacks so fierce Lance had to take up every inch of both lanes and it seemed the nose of the RV was about to meet the tail of the trailer, I didn't breathe for hours.  Still the RV GPS kept advising him to leave the main road and go off on this or that rabbit trail, at one point it tried to direct him onto a rickety old wooden bridge with impossible head clearance.  After stopping in the middle of the road to discuss the first rabbit trail option we decided to ignore the Garmin and follow Waze the rest of the way to the campground.  Somehow Lance pulled it off, and we landed our mobile home at the Trinity Lakes KOA just before dinner time, both of us slicked in flop sweat.  What a day.  Later that evening we found a tow truck driver hanging around by the burger stand and asked him about the route we'd taken, and he said wide-eyed "you came down Scott Mountain with a WHAT pulling a WHAT? Oh no, no, no honey, definitely go back down 299, it's a walk in the park compared to what you just experienced". So now we can enjoy our time here in the knowledge that we can actually get out of here without having to endure Scott Mountain in reverse.

We have Sprint and AT&T aboard the bus, but this is Verizon territory.  The KOA boasts online about their Wifi, but in actuality what they have is one anemic DSL line that everyone tries to share.  I couldn't even sort my text e-mail Thursday night, and while waiting another 10 minutes to try to open one client's e-mail I found myself contemplating murder of a campground kid who was playing some internet game on his phone, it became clear I needed to find a place to work someplace else where I could make use of AT&T tethering.  So bright and early Friday morning I loaded up my work gear into the Subaru and headed into Weaverville, a charming little town just 29 miles away, where I setup shop anywhere I could find air conditioning.  The library was closed, perpetually apparently, so Starbucks, Round Table Pizza, and the golf course became my offices for the next few days.  The folks of Weaverville are friendly and helpful and didn't seem to mind at all that I camped out with my laptop in their space and plugged into their power outlets. I did my best to be unobtrusive and tip very well.
The office for the morning... at Trinity Alps Golf Course
Monday we went to the nearest Verizon store, which was an hour and a half away in Redding and switched Lance's phone over.  We also bought a 4G wifi puck for the bus - now we've got all the Big 3 aboard AND a truly awesome vpn system, in case public wifi is the fastest option for future workdays.

Someone's pride and joy in Redding, CA.
We wonder how it's registered... HondaSaturnTrike?
For the first time since we put the house on the market I feel like I'm getting ahead of the client work, finally, and Lance is doing his best to stay off his foot in the hopes that it will finally heal.  The cats are enjoying their window perches and not trying to escape so often, all in all we are settling into our new life.

Even more than we anticipated, having consistently good internet aboard the bus is mandatory.  Even on the weekends I get anxious if clients can't reach me, and that anxiety spills over into every aspect of our lives. Thankfully, that video-game-playing campground kid will never know just how close he came to certain death.