<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Postcards Library 11
Little Log



Stephanie is one of those persons who can fit a lot of words onto a standard size postcard -- usually by writing sideways, around corners, and even upside down if she can find some extra space. Most of these go to family and friends. But some of them -- those which document our RV adventures -- find their way onto this portion of our website...

Postcard: Preparing for November: Bring on the Snowbirds

October 30, 1998

I have noted before the emotional good-byes of Snowbirds when, as March turns to April, they must part from their winter-time friends. I had never seen the obverse; the preparations made by park owners as they anticipate the arrival of these same Snowbirds.

Emerald Desert is planning a party -- for their arriving "5 monthers". The park will provide the hors d'oeuvres and music for a welcoming dance. The newly arrived Snowbirds will bring their own liquid refreshments. The reception area resembles a rental car company -- decorated with packets naming the anticipated guests and displaying their site numbers. The whole park has undergone a whirlwind-paced landscaping revolution. Landscaping crews are everywhere. All the grassy areas were thatched, their dead grass removed and bare areas reseeded. Then these same areas were watered, and watered, and watered some more. Our first day here, the sprinklers around our site came on at least every two hours -- day and night. The golf course has undergone the same careful attention. A dump truck has delivered loads of fresh sand for the traps, but it has not yet been smoothed out, and the traps still contain mountains of untouched white sand.

Teams of pruners arrived yesterday. This park has trees on each site, and each tree is being deprived of what seems like most of its limbs. I am sure this will make them fill out in a most attractive way, but they appear little more than trunks at this moment. Close behind the pruners come the mulching trucks, loudly chewing the mountains of limb piles into chips.

The mowers are everywhere. As soon as the ground is dry enough to support the machines, and the grass is high enough to see, they descend to cut. What parts cannot be done by machine are done by an army of men with weed eaters.

All this activity is aimed at a special date -- November 1. On this date, the "5 monthers" are due. On this date, the party will be ready. On this date, the golf course will open. And, coincidentially, on this date, winter rates will go into effect. But it's worth it, this is a lovely park, undeniably anxious to see their winter friends again. And they are making a huge effort to ensure that everything is ready to go.

Bring on the Snowbirds!


Postcard: October above the desert: Idyllwild

October 28, 1998

We are spending a couple of nights at Emerald Desert RV resort, just outside of Palm Springs. It is beautiful here -- a golf course rings the resort, there are two swimming pools and at least three "spas". The sites are widely spaced and are surrounded by emerald green lawn. We are camped overlooking a small lake that, when the golf course opens, will be an intimidating water hazard. Last night, as the sun was setting, it proved a most hospitable overnight stop for a dozen mallards. They came swooping down in pairs, and when the last couple had landed, they all swam to the middle of the pond and began quacking. For all the world like a group of RVers who had just completed an arduous day, and could hardly wait to talk about it!

When we were in Borrego Springs, we met a couple from Idyllwild, who were such good promoters of their town that we just had to go to see it. Idyllwild is only 35 miles outside of Palm Desert, but in those miles you climb from the desert floor to over 5000 feet. Take Monterey Blvd. from the freeway. After it traversing Palm Desert, it becomes highway 74. It winds up through outlying gated golf communities, and continues up -- up through Alpine Village and Mountain Center -- up to Idyllwild. The road is well paved and lightly used; there were no other cars in our direction until we were practically in Idyllwild. The road climbs and winds from the desert to the chaparral. Creosote bushes give way to junipers, which yield to oaks and then to pine trees. We crossed two passes, Santa Rosa and Keen Center, each just under 5000 feet. Between them is a beautiful bowl -- a round valley ringed with the rocky hills which seem to be a trademark of California high country. Homes are mostly the ranchette type, with several acres and room for lots of horses. A large cattle ranch completes the picture of rural California, totally unlike the sprawl of the cities either to the east or west. To complete the picture is Lake Hemet, a lovely little lake with an RV park and quite a few fishermen on this bright Fall morning.

We stopped for breakfast at the Idyllwild Cafe. This is a very "locals" spot -- There were at least 30 mugs behind the counter complete with the names of their usual customers. An excellent breakfast -- if you visit, and they have it, try the pumpkin pancakes. It is cool here, we left Palm Desert wearing shorts, and by the time we got to Idyllwild, wished for jeans and sweatshirts.

The town itself is charming. There are quite a few B & B's, and a variety of inviting restaurants, most serving lunch and dinner. It is somewhat "touristy", but we saw no t-shirt shops, just attractive wooden buildings on fairly steep streets.

We could have returned to the desert by retracing our steps, but instead opted to continue to Banning and take the freeway back to Emerald Desert. The road continued for another 25 miles through the high country (topping 6,000 feet). We even found some snow in the shadows along the road. At several "vista" points we stopped to look out over the valley. For this Northwesterner, however, the vistas were marred by the smog lying over the lower elevations. There were a few hills which stuck out of the blackish haze like islands in a polluted sea. But if you looked east instead of west, the air was clearer and the scenes more clear and inviting.

The road down to Banning was quite steep and winding. In fact ,we would not recommend towing this route. But as a trip from the desert to the mountains in just a few miles, it is one we would do again. (And go back for more pumpkin pancakes!)


Postcard: October in the desert: Borrego Springs

October 25, 1998

We left Chula Vista on a rainy Sunday morning, and headed east toward Borrego Springs. It is only about a 90 mile trip, but the shortest route, highway 79 through Julian, is a narrow and very winding road. Your option is to stay on Interstate 8. This way is not as winding, but about twice as long. Having tried both roads, we came through Julian.

Here, we crossed from the misty ocean weather to the clear desert landscape. Arid hills spread brown and golden down to the blue slash of the Salton Sea. Gone are the wildflowers of last winter. Gone also are the busloads of tourists which littered the landscape and the parking lot of the tourist center. Now you can practically choose any campsite in Palm Canyon Campground. With fewer people, there are fewer lights; a real plus for the man camped near us who is putting together his telescope and is planning on star gazing tonight. Birding is the best I've ever seen it -- Black Phoebes, Lesser Goldfinches, Verdins, Shrikes and Kestrels in addition to the resident Cactus Wrens, Gambel's quail, House Finches and various sparrows. Hikers report daily sightings of Bighorn sheep in Palm Canyon.

We arrived in town on the last day of Borrego Days. This three day celebration includes a parade, the Miss Borrego Springs pageant, an arts and crafts show, and a large bar-be-que in the center of town. You could eat with the volunteer fire department, the Rotary, the boys and girl's clubs, or the Kiwanis. You could participate in the 5 K walkathon, or attend a desert survival workshop. We missed many of the festivities, but did get a good look at the arts and crafts (always one of my favorites). There were booths featuring children's clothing, hand made jewelry, and paintings. One artist had some very attractive sandstone etchings in southwestern motifs.

In October, many of the golf courses are closed. Desert communities use this season for overseeding the courses to make them ready for the forthcoming tourist winter season. The visitor center has fewer programs than they will in a month or two. And you are still 6 weeks away from citrus season. The famous grapefruit resemble large green limes right now.

But it is good to be back. It is good to browse through familiar stores and not have to wait for other tourists. It is good to hike the trails without worrying that someone else will spook the wildlife. And the wildlife is different in October. Appropriately for Halloween, spiders and snakes are more plentiful now than in the wintertime.

This is tarantula season. When we were here last year in the fall, we saw several of these large spiders walking along the roadways. At this time of year, the males leave their burrows in search of mates. They may wander for miles before they find the burrow of a female. She stays home; he comes courting.

Snakes are still active in October. Today we saw a Coachwhip. This very active and aggressive snake (if you are a bird, lizard or small mammal) can be tan, reddish, gray or pink. The one we saw, crossing the road outside the campground, appeared brilliant copper in the sun. The sighting led to a trip to the Visitor Center to get a knowledgeable volunteer, Carl Kennerson, to identify it.

The Anza Borrego Visitor Center is a most unusual building. Located as it is in the desert, where summertime temperatures routinely go above 110, it is literally built into a hill. Only the east side of the building is open to the weather. You can take a nature walk through a display of desert plants and stay on the roof! It is staffed by one of the best volunteer organizations I have found. They are largely winter residents who take classes to become volunteers. Thus they know the geology of the area, which birds will be here in any given month, and where to find the Bighorn sheep. During the winter months, they give interesting and informative talks on all aspects of the desert, from natural history to paleontology. It is a spot not to be missed when visiting Borrego Springs.

Tomorrow, we will explore the desert a bit further before heading north again to family and the Holiday season. It will be interesting to discover just where our wanderings will take us. We never can tell!


Postcard: Disneyland at 7

October 21, 1988

Disneyland is an enchanting place, especially for the young. Our granddaughter, Jessica Chelan, spent her 7th birthday here. What an experience -- for her, for her Mom, Ellen, and for me.

I was more than delighted to receive an invitation to join the two of them for this birthday celebration. I had not been to Disneyland for years, and looked forward to seeing it again -- especially with this special 7 year old.

This was to be a girls trip-- no "yucky" boys allowed. Even Grandpa knew enough to keep his distance. Although we had our RV in a nearby park, I went to Disneyland to be with the girls. Tom returned to Banks Engineering to complete a power upgrade on our Dodge truck.

Our trip south was of the straight through variety -- we stopped in Albany, OR at the Blue Ox, then in Red Bluff, CA at the Red Bluff RV park. Both of these parks are very well maintained, and both are modem friendly -- a necessity in this RVhold. Then a a couple of nights in the Napa Valley and south through the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys. All on I-5, not the most interesting of routes, but surely the fastest.

But back to Disneyland and its allure for 7 year old girls. Jessica is into glamor. And for her, this means glitter. The glitter of "jewels", the glitter of crowns, the glitter of fancy dresses. The glamor of Disneyland. Tuesday night, appropriately at 7 pm, we watched a parade down Main Street, that part of Disneyland depicting a main street of any town of the late 1800s. The parade featured characters from the Disney film Mulin. But what characters! Some of them (atop floats ) were 20 feet tall! Many were on stilts. There were acrobats doing flips down the pavement. There were glamorous Oriental women dancing down the street. The villains were appropriately ugly and threatening. All the characters wore wonderful clothes of many colored silks. All the characters smiled (or frowned, in the case of the bad guys!) at all the children on the street. Having never seen this movie, I was about the only one there who could not identify every one of them.

Next morning we were among the first entering the park. Just inside the entrance, we were greeted by Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Pluto, all signing autographs for eager youngsters. After getting their signatures, we were off to see Cinderella's Castle and the Magic Kingdom. We toured Sleeping Beauty's Castle, and got her autograph. Jessie met Cinderella, Belle, (the Beauty and the Beast), Snow White, and Ariel, the Little Mermaid. All of them signed her book, wished her Happy Birthday, and gave her a hug. Each was "soooo beautiful". Pooh and Tigger signed her book, as did Aladdin -- but the "girls" were clearly the favorites.

Disneyland rides played a distinct second fiddle to the glamorous story characters, but were still most enjoyable. Jessie liked the rides where she could see where she was. Thus, a short ride through a dark hall, while not particularly frightening for me, terrified her. On the other hand, she loved the spinning teacups and the water slide known as Splash Mountain. It's a good thing Mom Ellen was along, because this grandma had no intention of taking those rides. By going early to the park, we were able to avoid most of the long lines that the more popular rides collect. By 3 in the afternoon, we were ready to leave, and the crowds of the day were just arriving.

So now 7 is a thing of the past, and Jessie is starting on 8. She and Ellen have returned home, and we have continued our RV trip. Today we are in Chula Vista RV Park right on San Diego Bay. It is good to be out of the traffic and smog of LA, Disneyland or no Disneyland. Next we'll head out to the desert; and then wend our way slowly north again to prepare for the Holiday season.


Postcard: Living the Oregon Trail

September 23, 1998

Last night, we camped at Farewell Bend on the Snake River. This is where the pioneers (the "overlanders") finally left the treacherous river, and headed overland to the Baker City area. This is a very nice Oregon State park, with an older and more treed camp area, as well as a more open, grassy area, the latter more suited to larger rigs and sliders. Or, if you prefer, you can camp in a gaily decorated teepee! There are a couple of exhibit areas which served to get us in an appreciative frame of mind for today's trip to the Baker City and the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.

Drive about 5 miles from Baker City on Highway 86, and pass through sagebrush hills which have changed very little, if at all, from the 1840s. Climbing over a short pass, you can see the Center, situated on the top of a hill, with views to the north of the Wallowa Mountains and to the south of the Blue Mountains. Below you is a walking trail which takes a 4.1 mile jaunt through the sagebrush to a point where a replica covered wagon sits in the ruts of the actual Oregon Trail. Before taking that walk, however, go into the Center itself. It is quite possible that there will not be enough time left after you have explored the Center to hike anywhere.

When you enter the building, the first thing that catches the eye is a large diorama of life on the Trail. Full size figures depict such everyday trials as buying a wagon, fixing one broken while traveling, burying a child on the plains, and how to treat your oxen so they will last the journey. There is a sound track which follows each of these figures as you pass them. By the time I reached the end of this first diorama, I felt like I was there, on the trail, sometime in the 1840s. Nothing romantic about this. One woman and child walking with the wagons are downright dirty. Caked and muddy clothes, faces and feet.

Now you travel the trail from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon. The Trail was 1,924 miles long and the fastest recorded time for traversing it was 141 days. Many pioneers took much longer. First you enter a room crammed with the implements a pioneer might take with him on his trip. Bear in mind all this has to fit in a wagon, and that wagon must be light enough so that whatever you choose -- mules? oxen? -- can pull it. Do you take your blacksmith tools? Grandma Emma's china? The musical instrument that only you can play? A cast iron stove? A video on the wall shows stories of Independence -- the gathering of the overlanders, how they chose their leaders, and the spirit with which they left this town.

These overlanders had to make choices all along the trail. Did they cross a river, float down it, or stay south where more desert awaited them. Did they follow anyone who claimed to know a "better route", (the Harney Basin trail and the Free Emigrant Route proved disastrous).

There were several forts along the trail, and pioneer reaction to them was mixed. Some thought they had found a haven where they could get provisions (sometimes buying the fort's entire supply of food). Others found them dingy and full of "thieving Indians". But read the names of the forts, Kearney, Laramie, Hall, Bridger, Boise,Walla Walla, and you travel with the Emigrants.

Pioneer thoughts and fears of Indians were often based on preconceived opinions.The narriatives of John C. Fremont and Washington Irving might not have been wholly accurate, but were taken as gospel by many travelers. Pictures they had seen led them to believe that Indians all were on the warpath; painted savages ready to scalp them, steal their women and children and preform unspeakable acts of cruelty. What they found, at least in the early years, were a people curious about these white faced people. The Indians were eager to trade, and proved pretty good traders. They were also ready to guide the overlanders or help them, (for a price), find the best spots to ford the rivers.

The Emigrants also had another misconception -- they thought all Indians were the same. They assumed that if the Pawnee were peaceful traders, then the Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne would be the same. This was not true. The Sioux and their allies, the Cheyenne, had taken the bulk of their territories by force from other tribes, and were not inclined to give them up easily.

Follow these travelers as they cross the Snake at Three Island Crossing, and watch them lose one young man in the tricky currents. Follow them as they pass through long stretches of land where there is no drinkable water. Share their fun times, campfires and singing at night, and their sad times, counting the newly made graves they passed as they walked along. Follow them through the Blue Mountains on narrow, rocky roads which seem impossible for wagon travel. Follow them as they finally come to Oregon City.

Journeys were almost over, but they still had to find homesteads, and the rule was "first come, first served". The Donation Land Act granted them 320 acres, but the choice land in the Oregon City area was quickly snatched up, and they had to travel further. some returned to Eastern Oregon and the Grande Ronde river area and, according to one sign, they even wound up in the San Juan Islands!

We entered the Interpretive Center just before noon, and the first time we looked at our watches it was almost 4 pm. 1998 time had been completely eradicated by 1840 time. And I could return tomorrow and learn more that I missed this first visit. A wonderful, mesmerizing experience.

Postscript: What a coincidence...just after we checked into the RV park, we were followed by a caravan of 8 RVs. This was a group which had been following the Oregon Trail from Independence, MO, stopping along the various landmarks coming west. They had traveled mostly by secondary roads, and were re-living the experiences of the pioneers. The group was created through a non-profit educational program of Western Oregon University, and had been on the road more than three weeks. It was heading for its final destination in Oregon City in another few days. The RVers taking this tour spoke very highly of the experience, and obviously enjoyed every aspect of it. We spoke with the Wagonmasters, Russ and Rita Pinard and learned more about the caravan. If you're interested, drop them an email at pinardr@aol.com.


Postcard: Golfing the Oregon Trail

September 21, 1998

When we travel in our 5 th wheel, we usually take our golf clubs along. Sometimes, they are just along for the ride, but often we will find interesting places to play a few holes. We try to find the courses marked by brown signs bearing golf bags. We play county courses and municipal courses. They are seldom in tournament shape, but our golf isn't either.

Passing through Boise, I got to watch the "big boys" play the Nike Boise Invitational. This tour is an echelon below the PGA, but nontheless fascinating. Even if these players are not PGA types, they can still hit incredible shots.The tournament was held at Hillcrest County Club where we played long ago, and so it was doubly interesting to walk the course and see all the additions and improvements made in the last 20 years. A delightful Saturday afternoon.

Traveling east from Boise to Glenns Ferry, we saw a sign to Three Island Crossing State Park. This intriguing name, plus one of those golf course signs, enticed us to stop. Are we glad we did! We found ourselves on the Oregon Trail! Here the pioneers crossed the Snake River en route west. Although they could travel from one island to the next, this was the hardest river crossing and the widest river on the entire Trail. Wagons overturned, mules and livestock were drowned, and many pioneers turned south on a longer, harder route, but one where they did not have to cross the River. In 1869, Gus Glenn built a ferry across the river, saving time and lives.

Three Island Crossing State Park is a lovely stop. There are two campgrounds, one on the bluff and one in a grassy field below. The day use area offers access to the river and access to history. Looking out across the river, you can easily see the trail itself where it wound down to the River. You can view the Idaho replica Conestoga Wagon. In 1976, each state built a pioneer wagon, and crossed the Oregon Trail -- backward. The goal was to be in Valley Forge, PA by the 4 th of July, in honor of the US Centennial. Each participating state had a slightly different trail, all with the same ending spot. The wagon is much smaller than I would have imagined. 11 feet long, it sits on high wheels, with a 24 inch box mounted over the wheels. Into this the pioneers had to put all their possessions. The wagons were usually so crowded that there was not room for any but the very old or very young to ride. Everyone else walked. There is a suggested list of supplies next to the wagon. Beside clothing, pots and pans, the recommended list includes 800+ pounds of flour, 400 + pounds of bacon, coffee, lard and bicarbonate of soda! The cost of supplying a wagon, including the livestock and the wagon itself was $220.78 in 1842.

The campsites are widely spaced and easily accessible to large rigs. All have electricity and water, and there is a two sided dump station nearby. Several of the campsites are for double occupancy, but it is not crowded in mid September.

About a mile up the road is the Carmela Winery, restaurant and golf course. To access the course, you travel between the grape rows. It is a short course, and very scenic; from the first 4 holes you can see the hills behind the town, and from the last 5, the Snake River. There is a very popular restaurant, which serves an excellent lunch. It also serves dinner and a Sunday brunch. The wine and gift shop is very attractive. There are several varieties of wine. We sampled the Cabernet Sauvignon. Buying a bottle for dinner, we noted, after we had returned to our rig, that it came from Argentina. If you want wine from their own grapes, choose the white or the blush.

Tomorrow we will be off for Eastern Idaho. We are watching the weather as carefully as possible to avoid as much rain as we can. One problem we are having, though, is that every radio or TV station has a slightly different forecast! Oh, well. If we are anything, we are flexible.


Postcard: Covering Cascade

September 16, 1998

Cascade, Idaho is one of those towns people tend to pass through without slowing. It is situated on Highway 55, about 90 miles north of Boise. The Boise locals do not stop here, because many of them have homes in the resort community of McCall, 25 miles to the north. Tourists tend not to stop here; they are headed into the Idaho forests, or even further north to the resort towns of Coeur d'Alene or Sandpoint. We were as guilty of this as anyone -- until this trip.

The highway runs straight through the main street of town. If you only stay on this road, you will see a grocery store, several motels, the county buildings, and gas stations. What you will not see, until you stop to explore further, is Cascade Reservoir, a 15 mile long lake. From the east end of the reservoir flows the North Fork of the Payette River. This combination of lake and river makes a fisherman's paradise, but the birding is also great. White pelicans, mergansers, and many different gulls can be seen on the water, and on land the birds range from warblers to woodpeckers. The Cascade golf course is scenically located right on the shores of the lake, and is one of the prettiest courses we have played. If the fish aren't biting, you can take a page from the book of one enterprising person. He was cruising the edge of the lake where the golf course abuts it, and scooping poorly hit golf balls out of the water. Bet he got several of ours!

There is a public campground on the reservoir, right across the street from the golf course. There are acres of rolling green lawn, and a summertime swimming area marked off with floats, for great family fun.

We stayed at the Water's Edge RV park. This park is located just below the outlet of the North Fork of the Payette River. Ashley and Katrin Thompson purchased a park which was in need of new ownership, and have done a great job. And they are expanding. There are a number of new riverfront sites which are completed by for sodding, and which will be open in the spring. The first night we were there we got an invitation to a park potluck.

Friendly is a word well used to describe the Cascade locals. Take Linda, tending the snack bar at the golf course. Here we learned that the peaches from the roadside stand were the best in town. We also learned how to freeze them, in case we were tempted by too many. Where are the area's best huckleberries, or raspberries? Linda told me, and, in season, I'll know where to go. We also learned where the best fishing was, and where to go for wonderful winter snowmobiling.

Since we lived in Boise for 12 years, we had explored the areas surrounding Cascade. It was interesting to see what the intervening years had done. We drove up the Boulder Lake Road one afternoon. This road is located just outside the town of Lakefork, some 4 miles south of McCall. When we first explored it in the early 70's, there was no name on the road to the lake, and no name for the lake, either. Thus, we named it and still call it "No-name Lake". But its real name, and the one now on the sign, is Boulder Lake. It is a graded 5 miles of gravel to the lake. It hasn't changed a bit. There is a lovely, level trail along one side of the lake. The fishing is still good -- but as in the past, only if you fish the far end. If you feel adventurous, it is only a short walk to Upper Boulder Lake. If you feel more adventurous still, get a map of the area and hike anywhere you wish. This is gorgeous country of forests and open rocky areas.

We stayed three nights in Cascade. Every morning we discussed where we should go; every morning we thought of places to explore which would keep us there "just one more day". Possibly we will never run out of new places to go in the area. Therefore, we'll just have to go back.