Tuesday, January 15, 2019

2018–The Year In Review

2018 Route

Nine states, 7000 miles, three months on the Oregon Coast, five in the Northern Idaho forest, two in the Nevada desert, and a couple more just traveling…..another great year! 

We began the year in Bandon OR, or favorite coastal town, spent most of the summer in Northern Idaho, made a mad dash to Iowa for motor home repairs, returned to Bandon for annual medical visits, then traveled to Las Vegas for the winter.  Whew….I’m getting tired just thinking about it!

January found us at the Bandon National Wildlife Refuge.  We spent time during good weather overlooking Simpson Reef and with spotting scopes, helping people learn about the various seals and sea lions that visit the reef.  We were treated to the sight of massive Elephant Seals giving birth, and watched as the pups struggled to survive in the harsh environment.  We saw Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, and Gray Whales almost daily – a truly magical place.  In Bandon, we watched winter storms pound the strangely shaped sea stacks and later, the beauty of evening sunsets.Shell Island1

Sea Lions at King Tide1

Needle Rock

Shore Acres Sunset

Oregon continues to surprise us with incredible beauty.  We spent a week east of the Cascades in Prineville, a picture-perfect little town and our base to explore the Painted Hills, the John Day Fossil Beds, and Smith Rock State Park:Painted Hills Panorama

Roadside View1

Smith Rock Panorama

Then it was time to check in at Farragut State Park for our summer as “program hosts”.  What an amazing place – we’ve never been to a park with better facilities, a more professional staff or more comfortable host RV spaces.  We spent the summer developing and implementing evening programs, teaching the “Junior Rangers”, and hosting school visits.  We made many new friends among the staff and almost 50 other volunteers and had the chance to explore the area around Coeur d’Alene and Lake Pend Oreille.  It was a memorable summer and we’re looking forward to returning.Lake View Panorama

Farragut Collage

After the Labor Day holiday, we headed to Iowa with a stop in Missoula for a quick visit with our friends from our days at Lee Metcalf NWR.  Our trip to Iowa was driven by a need to inspect/repair our slide systems.  Although they worked fine, after ten years of operation it was time to have them checked.  In April, I took the motor home to Winnebago’s new factory in Coberg OR and asked them to take a look.  They gave me an estimate of over 5000 dollars!  I called the slide system’s manufacturers (HWH Technologies) in Moscow IA,  explained in the same terms what I needed, and was told it would cost less than $1000…..and in the end, the cost to inspect, replace parts, check the hydraulic slides AND jacks, and realign the automatic levers was…….$163.  Well worth the drive to Iowa, although on the way back, it wasn’t until passing through Montana that I started to cool down…..When I complained to Winnebago I was contacted and asked to reply with the details.  And when I did the emails bounced back because the email address furnished wasn’t valid.  I’ve always had good service from Winnebago in Forest City, IA but will avoid Coburg from now on. 

So it was back to Bandon for six weeks of relaxing and finishing annual medical visits.  We visited many of our favorite areas, ate too much Dungeness crab, and stocked up on frozen berries for the winter:Oregon Coast

Sea Lions and Oystercatchers (2)

Bandon Sunset2

Soon it was time to head for Las Vegas and our winter position at the Desert National Wildlife Refuge.  On the way we took a bit of a jog to revisit Lone Pine CA and the Alabama Hills.  This is such an interesting place if you’re a fan of old movies and TV shows.  Exploring shooting locations under the immense shadow of Mt. Whitney is great fun and revealing – like this location from 1939’s Gunga Din, where we parked in the movie’s “chasm”:Gunga Din Bridge Site



Tree in Alabama Hills


We pulled into our home for the winter at the end of November, and started our jobs as visitor center hosts.  It’s a great place – new, beautiful visitor center, great trails through the cottonwoods and desert willow, and a comfortable site with mountain views:Visitor Center Collage

RV Site1

Yucca Forest and Spring Mountains

We’re grateful for our lifestyle and the ability to explore this great country.  2019 holds a lot of promise, and we’re looking forward to new adventures, new friends, and new memories.  Thanks for following us, we truly appreciate it!

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