Wednesday, March 30, 2011 (Travel day to Tulalip Resort Casino, Marysville, WA)

I woke up bright and early this morning and decided to just get up...I wanted to have a chance to enjoy a cup of coffee before having a shower. Today was a travel day so we plan to get going early...and we didn’t do too was just before 8:30 when we hit the road.

It hadn’t rained at all during our pack up but it wasn’t long before it started once we were on the road...and that set the pace for the rest of the day. A lot of rain, making it a very long, tiring driving day for Steve...especially when there are two major centres to drive through...Portland and Seattle.

Rain and more rain...and poor visibility...
Going through Seattle...

We arrived at Tulalip Resort Casino around 2:00...and it was still pouring out! We parked in the RV lot and as per the instructions, called Security who came and issued us a parking pass for the night. We levelled off the best we could, put the sliders out and unpacked the inside...time to relax for a bit before going across to the Casino. Poor Steve was absolute exhausted! That drive in the pouring rain took a lot of concentration!

We decided to go over to the casino around 4:00...and it was still raining as we walked over! Well, a free camping site for the night really isn’t free if you actually go to the casino! And of course, you can’t go to a casino parking lot without going’s not polite, after all! So we both cased out the slot machines and before long sat down...lost a bit...and moved on to another. I found one that actually had my original $20 investment up to over $25 and kept me playing for a while...but it was just teasing me and soon I was down. Time to move on. A fellow came and sat down at the machine beside me (the one Steve had vacated after losing most of his allowance)...and I tried very nonchalantly to look over to see what credits he had...OMG...he had over $17,000...and he is playing a penny slot machine—mind you, he was betting $3 each spin. I can’t believe the amount of money people gamble...and here are Steve and I with our allotted $20 each! Oh well, we had fun.

Not very good pictures...its was just raining too hard...
Lobby picture...

After we had blown our dough, it was still too early to go for dinner so we went to the bar and had a beer...unlike Laughlin, they don’t serve $1.25 margaritas, nor are there waitresses handing out free drinks at the slots. We enjoyed our (somewhat costly) drink at the bar talking to the lady bartender and watching other patrons at the bar...very entertaining. Afterwards, we headed to the buffet...a very good buffet...and totally stuffed ourselves (one of the reasons I hate buffets...absolutely no portion control there!) It was so good...and after topping it off with dessert, we both waddled the the trailer.

We read a little...mind you, when I looked over at Steve, his eyes were it wasn’t long before we were heading to bed. We managed to watch a few episodes of Two and a Half Men that we had downloaded and then it was lights out. We went to sleep listening to the constant pitter-patter of rain on the roof top....

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 (Champoeg—pronounced “Shampooie”—Woodburn, OR)

We had a pretty low-key day today...major rain was in the forecast so we knew we wouldn’t be doing much but hanging out inside all day.

We had a visitor outside our door on the picnic table calling out to us just as we were starting our exercises....

After showers and was about 11:00 by this time...we decided to go out for a walk since the monsoons hadn’t started yet. Instead of going towards the day-use area, we turned to the right and followed the bike path along the river. It goes approximately 2 miles to an historic store in Butteville...but it was closed for the season...good excuse for not walking the whole way!! We did a good fast power walk for 20 minutes and turned around...good timing, because the rain had started in earnest by then. Steve had his umbrella but I had chosen not to take mine because I had a hood on my jacket if needed. Hmmm...guess, I should have carried my umbrella too...I was pretty soaked by the time we got home.

Here are pictures along the path...the vegetation is sure starting to sprout!

We spent the rest of the afternoon inside in front of the fireplace...Steve watching “his” shows while I fiddled around on the laptop and did a bit of reading as well. Around 3:00, the rain had let up enough to let Steve go out and start putting a few things away. We also got the trailer hitched up to the truck...a few less things to do in the morning. And with our luck, since it wasn’t raining this morning, it likely will be tomorrow morning.

Monday, March 28, 2011 (Champoeg State Park, Woodburn, OR)

Today the plan is to find someplace to install the hitch on the truck for the bike rack. The bike rack is currently on the back of the trailer but we want the option of being able to put it on the that we don’t have to take the trailer with us to pick up our new bikes. It would also be handy having a hitch on the back of the truck. Steve spent time researching places on the internet and decided on a company in Beaverton. I checked on google maps to see how far away it was but unfortunately, once in the truck and ready to go, he thought I had said it was 15 minutes away...not 50, that’s too what to do now?

After some deliberation, he decided to go back to Camping World and talk to them more...we had already been there Saturday but Steve thought that they must install tow hitches on motorhomes so they should be able to do something for us. Well, we found out differently...he suggested a metal fabrication company that would likely be able to help us. This and a past experience just confirms that Camping World is a cookie cutter type of company and won’t go outside the box! We decided to just leave it until we were back home. Steve knows exactly where to have the work done, I guess we’ll wait. Hmmmm....I wonder when I’m going to get my Christmas present??!! Oh well...

We drove back to the campground and had some lunch and after finding a UPS store not too far away in Newburg, we were off again. Steve wanted to return a brake module to Hensley...had we known we were going to be here for over a week, we would have had the updated module shipped here...and gotten the whole “brake module” issue all resolved once and for all.

Once back, we went for a good 40 minute walk along the river to the fishing dock.  We hadn't noticed this sign on the piling on that's a high water-mark...

Since the weather didn’t look too bad, Steve decided to get a campfire going. Well...that turned out to be a challenge!! After getting totally smoked out trying to keep it going, we finally had enough of a coal base to at least get our hot dogs roasted...nothing better than a hot dog roasted over a campfire!   That's a small fan in Steve's hand...trying to keep the smoke away...

After stoking up the fire with the last of the firewood, we enjoyed it just long enough before the rain started...then with the firewood all burned and the rain starting, we headed inside for the rest of the evening.

After checking the weather forecast, we decided we would leave here seemed to be the lesser chance of precipitation than tomorrow. But judging by the forecast as we head north, we are going to experience lots and lots of rain! Oh well, we’ll have a relaxing day tomorrow and then a long drive day on Wednesday. We thought we would overnight at Tulalip is listed as RV friendly in this website I found... so we thought we would try it. All we really want is someplace safe to stop...put the sliders out...and then go into the casino for the buffet for dinner. I might even have to try my luck out on the slots....

Sunday, March 27, 2011 (Champoeg State Park, Woodburn, OR)

Well, that was a better sleep...and no sore back for Steve this morning...whew! I think our bodies are adjusting to the comfort of a new mattress. Steve was even up before me this morning...mind you, I wasn’t far behind. It was only 6:25, after all!

We had a very lazy morning...other than doing our exercises, that is. It was another cloudy, windy, rainy day...not the kind of day that motivates you to get moving. After breakfast, Steve settled in to watch some of “his” shows on TV while I decided to set up our new printer. All went smoothly getting the wireless connection working...yay!

The big chore for the afternoon was to go do laundry...our most favourite thing in the whole world! Yuck! But it has to be done. So I braved the rain and wind to walk over to the camp host to ask where the closest Laundromat was. Chuck and his wife were cleaning one of the cabins...such nice people. The Laundromat is in Newburg, just 5 or 6 miles away. While talking with them, Chuck asked if we had been to the Visitors Center yet. No we haven’t...but by the sound of it, we had better check it out.

Back at the trailer, I gathered and sorted all the laundry and Steve helped load it into the truck...and off we went; to spend the next two hours. One nice thing is that they had large front-loading machines...they say they hold 2 large we had 3 loads.

We were done just after 2:00 and headed back to the park...but before going to our site, we stopped at the Visitors Center. They have a very good display on the history of the area. It was an area under control by the Hudson Bay Co and was explored and settled by mostly French Canadian fur traders. In later years the fur trade died out so farming took over in the rich soils of the Williamette River area and many Americans started to settle here and the town site of Champoeg was born. The HBC wasn’t interested in settlements and reluctantly gave up the territory after the area locals voted for government control so they would have law and order eventually becoming a state.

While we were in the Center, it poured...and poured out...and it continued to rain as we left and headed the short distance to our campsite. This beautiful pheasant greeted us...

Once inside, I put the laundry away while Steve started his research of fabrication places to get the hitch installed and then started to check out bike stores...we’ll get our Christmas presents yet!

Hopefully, we will have better luck tomorrow getting it all done...oh by the way, we have decided to stay another couple of days...or so. We plan on crossing into BC on Thursday....gee...why do I feel like our vacation is ending???

Saturday, March 26, 2011 (Champoeg State Park, Woodburn, OR)

Well our first night sleeping on our new bed was a bit of a let down...Steve woke up with a stiff sore back. This is not a good thing considering his past problems with his back. I found it a little hard and my hips were a little sore. I think the problem is that our bodies had gotten used to the crappy mattress we were sleeping is going to take some adjustment least, we hope that is all it is.

We spent most of today on a wild goose chase...trying to find a place that would install a hitch on the truck for our bike rack. We found one place that could do it but the hitch they had on hand was for a dump truck...a little over-kill for bike rack! A couple of other metal fabrication shops weren’t open today...of course, it’s Saturday. So we finally decided to stop this “chase” and do some more research on the internet.

After a stop at Safeway for a few groceries, we headed home. It was close to 3:00 and we were hungry so we had a bowl of soup and then headed out for a little exercise. We found the paved bike path by the cabins... follows the Williamette River and we walked it until we came to the hiking trail.

Well, we soon learned that the paved bike trail is much better for walking on this time of year...most of the hiking trail is pretty mucky.

There are also Yurts for rent in the park...

We walked to one of the day-use areas and found the fishing dock...

We were back home 40 minutes later...we’d had a great power walk! We considered getting a campfire going but there were very dark clouds coming in and figured we’d probably just get it going and the rain would set in. So we decided just to head inside for the evening. We were wasn’t long before it started to pour. Rain...not showers...are in the forecast for all day tomorrow. So, I think we might just have a “down” day tomorrow.

Friday, March 25, 2011 (Champoeg State Park, Woodburn, OR)

We were both up bright and early this morning. Steve was anxious to get on the internet and research car audio installers. I had found one while surfing the web last night called Outrageous Audio and after spending considerable time on their site, Steve was very impressed. They do a lot of custom work on semi trucks, marine, aircraft, ATV’s and high end vehicles. That’s where we are headed today.

Well, after being up early, we did our exercises, had showers and breakfast and were on the road by 9:00 a.m.! Of course, Outrageous Audio was on the eastern side of Portland in an area called Greshen...over an hour away. We arrived around 10:15 and as we entered their store, I was amazed by the inventory stacked everywhere...truly a “guys paradise”! Dustin was very good helping Steve pick out all the components without trying to oversell him and after tallying it all up, Steve gave him the go-ahead...they could actually install it today! We certainly hadn’t expected that! Our only stipulation was that they had to be finished by 3:00 (or shortly after) because we had to be back home in time for Sleep Country to deliver our new bed. They had called yesterday afternoon and given us a delivery time of between 4:45 and 6:45.

Steve selected a Kenwood CD receiver with an IPOD/Memory Stick USB port...Blue Tooth that will answer our cell phone and also receives Satellite and HD radio as well as Pandora Internet radio...two 4” dash speakers...two Boston 6 x 9 three-way speakers...a 10” Boston subwoofer and amp. Steve said he was going to start wearing a baseball cap sideways...get a set of white framed sunglasses... baggy jeans that slide half way down his butt and some funky running shoes!

The only fault with this company is that they do not have any type of waiting room for customers to sit comfortably while having work done on their vehicle. Dustin had suggested we take “The Max” (Portland’s version of light rapid transit) to an area of stores and shops not too far away. So we got adventurous and decided to go for it. After figuring out which ticket to purchase from the machine, we stood waiting for the train. It wasn’t long before it came and just a short ride to the area that we figured was the area Dustin had described. It would have been nice had it been a mall where we could go inside to escape the weather...but it was an area of newer upscale townhouses and shops with larger stores intermingled. As it was just before noon, we found a Red Robin Restaurant and headed in for lunch.

After lunch, we wandered around a bit more and then headed to catch train back to Outrageous Audio. Steve wanted to get back to talk to the installer about ensuring that the wires to the battery would be long enough when the truck cab was tilted. As it turned out, Ed (the installer) had thought of that and the installation was progressing well...he’d probably be another hour or so. Well, as I said earlier, they have no waiting room, so we spent the next 2 hours standing and pacing around their premises...both inside and outside.

When they were finished, Steve got a quick overview of the various features and then we had to get was 3:15. Wow!!!! What a difference in sound quality from the factory installed 4” dash speakers!

Serena said it would only take 55 minutes to get home but we weren’t sure if heavy traffic was going to back things up and add to our travel time...and we didn’t want to take any chances.

As it was, traffic was pretty smooth going and we were home at 4:15, giving us plenty of time to get ready for Sleep Country. I cleared the bedroom and we moved the old mattress out in preparation. Jason (the delivery truck driver) called at 5:15 to say they were on their way and would be here in about 30 minutes. All went smoothly and they were in with the new mattress and out with the old one in no time flat. It was the first time they had ever made a delivery to a campground!

Well, you have never seen two people more excited about having a new mattress! It seemed twice as high as the old one! I got it all made up and the bedroom put back together. We could hardly wait for bedtime!

After dinner and a little TV, it was time....

Thursday, March 24, 2011 (Champoeg State Park, Woodburn, OR)

We arrived at Sleep Country USA in Sherwood, Oregon at about 2 minutes before 10:00 a.m....and considering they open at 10:00, what perfect timing (particularly since we had no idea what time they opened). We spent the next hour or so laying on various beds...and getting totally confused about which had what feature. But, Brittney, our very nice and knowledgeable young sales woman was excellent. We finally decided on the mattress...Sealy Posturepedic Simple Pleasures—it has a combination of individually wrapped titanium coils as well as memory form...complete with a mattress cover and a new set of sheets. I also got a Tempurpedic ‘Cloud’ pillow. Hopefully it will work for me...I have yet to find a pillow I really like. All will be delivered tomorrow to our trailer at the campground...and they will also take away our old mattress.

Our next stop was Best Buy. We started by replacing our Epson printer/scanner. It was less than a year old and hardly used but unfortunately when there was a paper jam in it, I pulled the paper out and it hasn’t worked since. It would cost more to have it looked at (let alone fixed) than a brand new one so we left it for recycling and ended up buying an HP this time.

The next thing Steve wanted to look into was replacing the Samsung Home Theatre Receiver in the trailer with Sony to go with the TV. The Samsung wasn’t working properly...we noticed awhile ago after smelling a burnt electrical smell that two of our expensive HDMI cables had been squished by the TV when it retracts behind the fireplace. Well, the day had started off good but it was now taking a turn for the worse. The receiver in the trailer is a low-profile one (about 3 inches high)...and the only way of buying one like that is by buying the whole Home Theatre System...speakers and all! The only “stand-alone” receivers are least 6 inches high! Now isn’t that ludicrous? Steve is not a happy camper! We’ll try a Sony store and see what they say.

Next was a stereo system for the over to the car audio section. Steve got an estimate...we’ll think about it...but he didn’t have a “warm fuzzy” feeling about what was being offered, so it is unlikely we will have it done there. He’s going to research specialized local car audio installers.

By this time, it was time to find someplace for lunch. We also wanted to go to a Sony Store and Serena found an address in Portland...and there happened to be a Red Lobster Restaurant along the way, so that’s where we went. The restaurant was very nice looking...we loved the decor...but the food wasn’t that great which was disappointing. We probably should have waited and gone for dinner sometime...the dinner entrĂ©es, although pricey (as seafood usually is) sounded wonderful. Steve loved his side-salad but we both found the breaded shrimp very salty.

After lunch we went across the street to a Sears store that we had noticed on our way in. Steve wanted to check out air compressors. It would make topping up the air in the trailer tires easier than trying to get into the air-hoses at stations (particularly with the trailer). All of the gas stations we have been to charge for air and their pressures aren’t high enough. Hmmm....not much luck there as the ones they had were bigger then he thought they would be...he’ll do a little more research before deciding what size he wanted.

Now...this is where the afternoon got very interesting. We decided to believe Serena and follow her directions to a Sony store in Portland...however, once we arrived, it was not a Sony store after all but just an electronics store. And it was on a fairly narrow, busy street with no much for that! But all was not lost, Steve still wanted some answers regarding the air-bag installation in the front-end of the truck, and there happened to be another DSU Peterbilt & GMC Truck Center not too far away. So that is where we headed....oh my...what an adventure we are on!

Once at DSU, we learned that air-bag installation would be considered an “after-market” installation and they don’t do that...try Oregon Spring. Well, Steve had already called them this morning and they said that they didn’t do that. Since it didn’t appear that Oregon Spring was that far away, we punched the address into Serena and off we went. Sheesh...where the heck is she taking us!

Calm down, Dianne....we found Oregon Spring with no problem and Steve spent quite some time in the office talking to the fellow. Then he came out with a fellow who spent some time under the front-end of the truck checking out our springs...and then they went back into the office. When Steve finally returned to the truck to get the weigh scale printout from when we were in Pennsylvania, he explained what he had found out. Apparently air-bags in the front-end are not recommended in our type of truck...and he finally explained to Steve why. Well, rather than a curt “no we don’t have air-bags” for that truck on the phone call this morning, why hadn’t he bothered to explain why. Apparently they have had many unhappy customers in the past that have gone this route and have also had a few Peterbilt semi drivers come in to have the factory installed air bags removed because of poor stability. Our front axle weighed in was at 11,200 lbs so...bottom line is that they don’t remove a few leafs from our 14,600 lb. springs...but new 12,000 lb (different style) ones need to replace them...and they would need to be shipped from Texas! Okay...that is not going to get done this trip! Steve is happy that he finally found out more information about it...but...unhappy that parts would have to be ordered in! We will get a price when we get back to B.C. however it may be worth waiting until we return next fall to save the tax.

It was now 4:30 and after doing some research on the laptop (good thing we had brought it along) we discovered there was a “Sony Style” Store in Portland...and it happened to be in the mall where we had been at Sears!! So back we went. We thought that maybe Sony would be able to sell only the low-profile receiver rather than the whole’t be done!! what?? By the way, we can’t even purchase a replacement Samsung receiver either...they too, only come with speakers as well! All of the 5 speakers are already wired into the ceiling...we only need the receiver!!!! Sheesh!!

Okay...let’s go home! That was a challenge as well...battling rush hour traffic. It was after 6pm by the time we got home...totally exhausted from our day! It was soup and sandwich (salad for me) for dinner tonight.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 (Factory Outlet Shopping, Woodburn, OR)

It was close to 11:00 a.m. by the time we were ready to head out to Woodburn Company Stores, a huge factory outlet mall. It was a short drive through the country back to I-5 and then 6 miles south to the mall. We had passed it yesterday and it looked huge! After parking the truck, it was time to get out and explore.

Our first stop (and our main reason for being here) was at the Bose Store. It wasn’t long before we had ourselves a Bose Wave Music System....
There was a special on right came with a free Ipod connector kit and remote (valued at $99.95)...sweet! We left the boxes there to pick up when we had finished the rest of our shopping.

We left the Bose Store and started our walk to the left, going to the end where there was a North Face Store. We both wanted to check out hiking boots. I was successful...Steve was not. I got a great pair of Hedgehog Mid GTX XCR Hiking Shoes...and they were on sale with an extra 40% off an already good price. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any that worked for Steve.

We continued our “shopping” mainly stopping at any stores that might possibly have hiking shoes for Steve...Columbia Sportswear, Nike, Adidas, Converse, Merrell...even Rockport and Famous Footwear Outlet...but no luck. I actually managed to get him into Kitchen Collection. I thought I would like to check out an indoor grill...but those George Foreman Grills are much too big for my kitchen!

Oh how I miss those shopping days with my Mom-In-Law when we used to have our “girls week away” and we would spend hours just wandering around shopping malls and outlets...we never made it down to Oregon, though...just across the border to the Bellingham/Mt. Vernon area in Washington State. That was many years ago! So as enjoyable as it was with Steve, it wasn’t quite the same as spending hours with your girlfriends checking out all the stores. We actually went into very few stores but we did walk the whole mall. Poor Steve needs a rest from all the shopping....

With this huge outlet mall and the massive parking lot, I don’t think they really thought out the impact of all the traffic it would bring to the area. The traffic was backed up exiting the area...mind you, it did not help that there was some road construction with a lane closed on the overpass leading to I-5 north. On the way home, we stopped for propane and then went into the small community of Donald for milk--$2.99 for a gallon...not bad for a little corner store.

It had been a really nice, warm day with the sun breaking through quite regularly but now as we headed home, the clouds were getting thicker and thicker. Steve wanted to rinse all the salt off the truck and trailer, so that was his chore for the rest of the afternoon while I updated our blog and listened to CD’s on our new stereo...Wow, it really is amazing the sound that comes out of that little box!

As Steve was finishing the trailer, the rain started...I thought he would be right in but nope, he hadn’t done the truck he stayed out until it was finished. Both the truck and trailer were filthy and although he hadn’t washed them with soap, at least he got the main dirt and road salt off them.

After a great steak dinner (if I do say so myself...since I cooked it!), we decided to go out for walk around the campground. As we were leaving, we noticed some very dark clouds coming in...well, we hadn’t even gotten around the loop when the rain started pelting down, making it a major power walk to get back to the trailer before we got completely soaked!

More shopping is planned for tomorrow...this time, north to Wilsonville to Sleep Country and Best Buy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 (Travel day to Champoeg State Park, Woodburn, Oregon)

It started at 2:45 a.m....a constant beep, beep, beep. At first we thought it was one of the semi’s backing up...nope, it was the fridge’s warning signal that it had fun out of propane. Why do these things always happen in the middle of the night? Steve got up and went outside to turn on the other propane tank. He no sooner got back into bed when he was up again...the furnace had been running constantly but there was no heat coming out of the vents. He reset it a couple of times but still nothing so he turned it off and came back to bed.

Well, neither one of us really managed to get a restful sleep after that. I finally decided to get up around 6:00...we wanted to get an early start to our day. We are going to drive to Woodburn which is about 30 miles south of Portland. Woodburn Company of Stores is a huge Factory Outlet Mall that we plan to visit.

Holy was cold in the trailer (49F)! I had a quick hot shower while Steve went outside and fired up the generator and then turned the fireplace on to try to warm the place up a bit. The furnace still wouldn’t work. I didn’t think that my feet would ever warm up! I made sandwiches to pack for lunch while Steve showered...then it was pack up time.

We were on the road just before 9:00...a beautiful, but chilly, morning. The sun was shining but it looked like we were headed towards clouds. We continued north on I-5 through Rogue River and Grants Pass...a beautiful area. No problems with highway conditions as we drove through the mountains.

The day actually turned out to be mostly sunny, a beautiful travel day...but it sure looked like we were headed into major clouds as we neared Woodburn. They seemed to disperse as we headed west off the I-5 towards Champoeg State Park, about 15 minutes northwest of Woodburn. We weren’t sure whether we would be able to get a site or not, but thought we would try. If not, we could always drive the short distance back to a private campground.

When we arrived at the park entrance, the office was closed so it was self-registration. It didn’t look like we would have a problem finding a site for one night but we wanted at least 3 nights. After driving the loop a couple of times, we finally found a camp host who told us that sites B2 to B10 were all unreservable sites. If any of these sites are empty, we can stay up to 2 weeks...and there happened to be a couple available.

We chose site B6, a long, large site backing onto a grass field. The campground is really nice with large spacious sites and lots of room between you and your neighbour. All sites have 50 amp power and water with about 10 sites having sewer as well. The unreservable sites are all electricity and water only...oh well, that’s okay. And for $20/night, very reasonable!

As usual, we had an audience as we backed into our site. It went well and we were soon levelled off and unhitched. We got all unpacked...including the satellite dish set up and had no problem getting a signal (probably one of the fastest, easiest times!) We even have a fairly good internet signal on the Rogers Rocket, yes, all is good!

The camp host came by selling firewood...$5/bag so we bought two...and quickly got a campfire going. It had been a long time since we had been able to have a campfire. We enjoyed our happy hour dodging campfire smoke! It was a lovely evening...spring is definitely in the air!

After dinner, we settled in to watch a little TV and then we both had an early night...we were tired from lack of sleep last night coupled with a long drive today.