RiverCat Journal : Tillamook, OR : Tillamook Cheese Factory and More!

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Where I’m At: Pacific City, OR
Campground: Thousand Trails
Visiting: Tillamook, OR

 

A Tillamook Day Trip

I’m ashamed of myself. In all the time I’ve spent in Pacific City, I didn’t realize how close Tillamook was — 17 miles! This week I made up for it. I discovered a nice little pickleball group at the fairgrounds and finally did some sightseeing. In this video I share my trip to the Tillamook Air Museum and Tillamook Cheese Factory…

 

“Homesick?”

I haven’t been to Las Vegas in a few months now. Starting in March it’ll be home base until the end of July. My travel plans during that time are a bit up-in-the-air. I think I’m going to Airbnb a couple weeks in Reno. There’s a small chance I’ll still go to Atlantic City. And, somewhere in there I’ll find at least 10 days to go to San Diego.

Oddly enough, as much as I try to escape the desert, I’m eager to get back this time. Is it “homesickness?”

I think it’s more about “taking care of business.” Since my truck purchase, I’m juggling bills. Once I get settled in and work more, it’ll be a lot more manageable. Also, I’m looking forward to playing poker again. More often than not, when I’m in a bind, it’s poker to the rescue! I have a feeling this will be the case once again.

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RiverCat Journal : Seaside, OR : SuperBowl Sunday in Seaside

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Where I’m At: Seaside, OR
Campground: Thousand Trails

 

Downtown Seaside

Downtown Seaside has sort of a “carnival” atmosphere. Carousals, bumper cars, taffy shops, and all kinds of fun things for the kids. And lots of fun dining opportunities for the adults.

And gift shops — lots of them. One thing I’ve noticed in my travels is that when you visit a particular town, the gift shops will often appear quite similar. Not in Seaside! Most of the stores here are quite unique. For instance, The Seaside Candyman offers 170 flavors of saltwater taffy and you get one free spin on the prize wheel daily.

Rose City Pepperheads specializes in spicy jellies and bizarre jerkies you can’t find anywhere else. I asked about the reviews of the smoked rattlesnake. The cashier gave me the perfect answer…

“I guess pretty good — nobody’s returned them, yet!”

I actually found my new coffee cup at The MAN Store…

 

 

Seaside Aquarium

The Seaside Aquarium is a fantastic little stop. Feeding the seals is an absolute must. There’s actually a poster that describes each seal’s method of getting attention. Some slap. Some pose. Some will even splash you!

There’s another feature attraction, though. I was amazed when I spotted this Giant Pacific Octopus!

 

Stadium Seating at the Big Game

It didn’t take me long to decide where I’d watch the Super Bowl.

I’d wandered into the theater earlier in the week. Imagine my surprise in finding a brewery right on stage! This is a new concept to me — brewery/restaurant/movie theater/special events venue. In fact, they feature at least one televised sporting event per week!

It was a fantastic venue to watch this explosive defensive battle. And with the Patriots leading only 3-0 late in the game, was there ever any doubt who would come out on top?

 

A Super Bowl Miracle

Seaside averages zero inches of snow per year (more specifically, less than one-tenth of an inch).

 

So what better way to celebrate the Super Bowl holiday than with a miraculous weather event!

 

 

My time in Seaside is winding down, now. As with everywhere on the Oregon Coast, I really enjoyed my visit. I still have lots more to see here and look forward to getting back.

 

But now I’m getting ready to shove off to Pacific City for 3 weeks. I’ll play pickleball for 10 days, work for another 10, and then begin my 7-day sprint to Las Vegas.

Life is good!

 

 

 

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RiverCat Journal : Astoria, OR : Columbia River Maritime Museum

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Where I’m At: Seaside, OR
Campground: Thousand Trails
Visiting: Astoria, OR

Playtime at the Museum

Aside from being on the most fascinating museums I’ve ever visited, Columbia River Maritime Museum is an interactive experience for adults! Especially if you like knobs, dials, and control panels — and I do.

 

 

Here, you can pretend you’re navigating a ship or step inside a submarine. And did I mention the knobs, dials, and control panels? There are lots. And I really like them.

 

 

Ever-Changing Astoria

Astoria is an amazing port town where the Pacific Ocean and mighty Columbia River meet. It’s the oldest settlement west of the Rockies and, at one time, was a salmon boomtown boasting over 50 canneries — not one remains today.

 

 

During World War II, vitamin A was in great demand for our pilots overseas. So, Astoria went into the shark liver business, filling entire boats with tons of sharks. Of course, the entire Oregon coast benefitted from war — building a large percentage of the ships that went into battle.

 

World War II

The U.S.S. Astoria is a celebrated name in naval history. In fact, one of the ships that was named after the port city, was famous for the victory at the Battle of the Midway.

 

 

But one of the more heartwarming stories you’ll find in the museum are the Yosegaki Hinomarus…

 

 

When Japanese soldiers where sent off to war, friends and family signed these flags with special messages of inspiration as good-luck momentos. Unfortunately, for many, they weren’t good luck at all — they lost their lives. Many of these Hinomarus made their way to the U.S. instead.

Interestingly, many of our soldiers felt these keepsakes didn’t really belong to them. And, years later they would seek out the families of their war victims and return the flags. These were very inspirational and emotional reunions, as depicted in a terrific movie clip.

 

The Perilous Columbia Bar

The Columbia Bar is where the Pacific Ocean and Columbia River collides. It’s the most dangerous river passage in the world, with up to 40-foot waves. In fact, it’s so dangerous, foreign ships require the assistance of two specialized pilots to come on board and navigate.

 

 

Even with all the precautions today, the coast guard still performs over 300 rescues here per year.

 

Lightships

I had never heard of floating lighthouses. But apparently much of the Oregon Coast has commissioned them at one time or another. The Columbia is one such retired “lightship.”

 

This ship had a crew of 17, with at least ten on board at any one time (I’m not sure why).

 

 

As it was described to me, this was about the worst job in the world. Stranded and anchored at sea, the crew either lost their minds battling boredom — or lost their lunch battling stormy seas.

 

What a great day at the museum. This one’s a must-see.

 

 

 

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RiverCat Journal : Seaside, OR : To Reno and Back

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Where I’m At: Seaside, OR
Campground: Thousand Trails

 

Wednesday : Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Klamath Falls, OR : 18-Hour Travel Day

It’s almost surreal. My day begins in tropical Southern Florida at 4:00 am. After a full day of flying, a favorable time zone change puts in Portland before noon. By 1:30 pm I’m in my truck making my way towards Klamath Falls in a slightly different climate…

 

I arrived at my Airbnb slightly before 7:00 pm and got acquainted with the Netflix channel on my big-screen TV. Having terrible luck with streaming in the past, I was very surprised that I was able to watch 2 movies with only one buffering interruption. Pleased, I retired at 10:00 pm Pacific Time. I’d been awake 21 hours.

 

Thursday : Klamath Falls, OR to Reno, NV :  Desolate Travels

In the 253-mile journey to Reno, I encountered only two towns the entire way. My only pit stop was Adin, Oregon while I was en route to Susanville, California…

 

It would be a lonely drive, but spectacular. In areas with less snowpack, frosted golden vegetation would glisten as the sun peaked through the fog. And fog would be the theme most of the way. Every now and then I’d find clear skies, but with snow piled everywhere, there were few opportunities to pull over and take snapshots.

 

 

As I began my descent into Susanville (the first place I ever towed my camper), I was mesmerized by this “fog bowl.”

 

 

I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this trip. After 2 weeks in Florida, I was anxious to get this unpleasant DMV business over with and get back to the Oregon Coast to lick my wound$. I just wanted to fast forward to paychecks and financial recovery a month from now after going “all-in” on this truck. But now I’m embracing this little inconvenient journey — I’m having fun!

 

Friday : Reno, NV : The Fun Ends at the DMV

The fun often ends at the DMV. I’d called a couple weeks prior and was informed I could pay the taxes on the truck later in the year when I did the titling. But a little glitch required that I actually pay the healthy lump sum right away with the registration. This was a “bit” of a blow. I’m skating on thin ice as I await next week’s paycheck!

Only the DMV coffee shop could calm my nerves.

(It’s about time)!

 

Saturday : Reno, NV to Klamath Falls, OR : Taking Dog Bites in Stride

I didn’t have the opportunity to get the same Airbnb in Klamath as I did coming down. That host had two cats that I got along very well with. This home has two dogs…

 

I’ve always gotten along well enough with dogs but have never owned one. I don’t always know how to react to hyper dogs. When I opened the deck door I was aware they’d leap on me. But perhaps I turned around too quickly to close the door — that’s when I felt her teeth sink into my back (through my jacket).

My host panicked. She’s apologetic and confused by the dog’s reaction. I told her not to worry. I didn’t require stitches and I wasn’t traumatized one bit. I guess I feel lucky that it could have been much worse. I also feel lucky that she’s aware of the behavior before this happened to a more petite person without the protection of a thick jacket. She’s going to talk to a specialist about the issue.

Now, with four punctures and some nice scrapes, my only concern is infection.

 

Sunday : Klamath Falls, OR to Seaside, OR : Pushing the Limits

It would be a 5-hour drive to Pacific City to pick up the camper. I couldn’t wait to see my rig, again!

I’d set up my reservations to stay one night in PC and then pulling out the next day. But when I arrived, I felt pretty good. Daunted with the idea of traveling four out of five days, I changed my reservation and proceeded to storage to get on the road again as quickly as possible.

It took a little longer than I’d liked. After a 2-hour tow, I arrived in Seaside at dusk. I set up camp in the dark.

But now I can breathe deep — I can now settle in for nine days as I wait for some checks to roll in…

 

 

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RiverCat Journal : Hollywood, FL : A New Adventure on the Horizon

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Where I’m At: Hollywood, FL
Lodging: AirBNB
Work: WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open at Seminole Hard Rock

 

A New Development

Over the past few years, my Las Vegas home base has evolved into a summer pit stop.  But this week I’ve been presented with the opportunity to enjoy regular work at The Venetian whenever I like. This means I may need to spend more time in Sin City during our busier tournaments.

And, when I’m traveling, it will be my responsibility to make sure my shifts are covered. From what I understand, this is not difficult at all. But that’s the part that remains to be seen.

I’m a little nervous and apprehensive, to say the least. I can’t help but wonder how this will affect my lifestyle. Perhaps very little. But I could also be biting off more than I can chew. I’m a nomad, after all.

 

 

Change in Plans

The reality is that it really doesn’t change my plans much the next few months. I don’t start this transition until March. This means I can still spend some more time in Oregon before starting my new job. I intend to keep my plans to work a Reno event in April and play pickleball later this spring in either Utah or San Diego.

The only travel plan I’ll need to cancel is an event in Atlantic City. And then I’ll find out this spring if I can manage my new responsibility when I try to resume my RV travels.

 

Perfect Timing

While it’s clear to me there are pros and cons with this opportunity, it could not have come at a better time!

I just paid cash for a truck. I have too much debt and not enough savings. It’s possible the job may not work out well for me in the long run but, for now, I love the idea of repairing my financial situation by the end of summer. So, at very least, it will be a good short-term solution.

And all I really have to do is work a bit more in Vegas and work half as many events on the road for awhile. My fun in the Northwest may be cut in half for the next couple years but that’s okay — I can design some nice trips closer to home base.

 

And Then There’s Poker…

Aside from one brief highlight last summer where I played a brilliant tournament and won 4th place, last year was my worst performance ever. I made a lot of mistakes.

This is largely due to the fact I’ve been playing less and less every year since traveling full-time. I didn’t see this coming! But my Thousand Trails resorts are generally a good commute away from the casinos. And the past three years I’ve barely supplemented my income. I’ve noticed my focus and skills have diminished a little.

I’m looking forward to the opportunity to spend more time in Vegas to gain my edge, again. With the ability to practically design my own schedule there, I can manage myself in a way where I can get my head back in the game and earn a nice hourly rate.

THIS is the part I’m really excited about!  My new adventure awaits…

 

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RiverCat Journal : Depoe Bay, OR : New Truck!

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Where I’m At: Pacific City, OR
Campground: Thousand Trails
Visiting: Depoe Bay, OR

 

Alas, My Christmas Present…

My 2007 Ford F250 Super Duty has quite a few miles on it, but is simply immaculate.

 

 

Other than a couple scratches on the tailgate, I’d daresay it’s in mint condition. I purchased it at a small dealership in Dallas, Oregon who knew the previous owners — a RV couple in their 70’s. A gentleman at the RV dealership next door confirmed their good character when he came over to show me the built-in trailer brake. (I was sold as soon as I test-drove it a few days earlier).

 

 

The first tow was only a couple miles to Thousand Trails and a mile uphill. It managed the task quite handily and I’ll be eager to tackle some real hills in a few weeks to see what she can do! Surprisingly, despite losing the extra storage space of the van, everything packed quite nicely.

 

Catching My Breath and Taking a Day Off

It’s been a hectic few weeks! My last van repair pressed me into searching for a new truck full-time. It took a full 3 weeks to find the right truck, another week to scrape together the funds (it’s nearly impossible to finance a high-mileage truck out-of-state), and yet another week to sort out the logistics of getting it tagged while preparing for my upcoming Florida trip. The holidays, of course, had delayed the entire process.

I’m still not finished. I have a 42-day driver’s permit that will allow me to do tags and title when I get back from my Florida trip in a couple weeks. I’ll then pick up my truck in Portland and drive 9 hours to Reno to do my DMV business.

All these arrangements, in addition to some RV repairs, have kept me busy six days a week since my return to Oregon. Friday morning I stared down my to-do list and decided NOT “to-do” it

I went to Lincoln City and played pickleball. I spent the evening watching movies in my rig. It was exactly what the doctor ordered.

 

So, I Took Another Day Off…

There was no getting around this! My fellow pickleballers invited me to a special edition gathering in Depoe Bay on Saturday. I wasn’t going to miss this — a private facility with fabulous indoor courts, a free clinic by a pro from Portland, and a delicious buffet. It was a fabulous time — and it gave me an excuse to visit Depoe Bay…

 

It’s pretty small!

 

But what the harbor lacks in grandeur, the scenery on the other side of the street makes up for…

 

The theme of Depoe Bay is waves and whales. The OPRD Whale Watching Center is actually a state park. Not only do they have lots of interesting exhibits (I learned there’s a big difference between a seal and a sea lion), it’s also a free observatory where they keep up updated statistics of their daily sightings.

 

 

One last stop…

 

 

This is what it’s all about. Things are finally slowing down a bit…

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RiverCat Journal : Pacific City, OR : Grilled Pumpkin Pie

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Where I’m At: Pacific City, OR
Campground: Hart’s Camp

 

Holiday Limbo

I’m close to buying a truck. But now I’m in holiday limbo!

The family-owned car dealership closed for a week to celebrate the holidays — which I think is really cool. I do find myself a little anxious, however. I have quite a few logistical challenges that need to be sorted out, not only around Christmas, but also the New Year holiday before I catch a flight to Florida.

But there was nothing I could do. I went to watch a little football this Sunday at my favorite little hangout on the river — The Oar House — and the river was flooding!

The employees and patrons of the restaurant observed with great interest for awhile, but the waters eventually receded. It’s been an interesting week of weather, including two fantastic wind storms and power outages. One even had gusts approaching ninety miles per hour!

 

Christmas Eve Bunnies

It’s amazing how much nature can relieve stress and anxiety. Watch these bunnies sprint for their treats!

 

I’ve learned over the past few days that these bunnies actually have a very interesting mix of social groups. There are a handful of couples. There’s a large gang of black rabbits. Then there’s the small multi-colored gang with a very large dominant male. And none of them have any shame — I love when they stand on two legs and paw at you…

 


 

But the bunnies have competition…

 

 

It’s not a very “fierce” rivalry…


 

It’s amazing how tame all these critters are around here. The rabbits and deer alike will eat right out of your hand!
 
 
Grilled Pumpkin Pie — A New Christmas Tradition?
 
Even alone, I have fun during the holidays. I’ve developed my own traditions that I look forward to. Christmas Eve I usually do a holiday movie marathon on TV and eat like a pig to get in the spirit of things. Then on Christmas Day the festivities continue with holiday music and good food in the morning. Then, in the afternoon, I usually go to a movie theater and watch at least 2-3 films. Good times!
 
But this year the movie theater is 25 miles away and doesn’t offer much of a selection. No problem. I’d just watch some NBA basketball and enjoy some grilled pumpkin pie!
 
 
 
I’ll admit this happened quite by accident. It started with the great Pacific City Pumpkin Pie Shortage. They sell out really fast, here. At one point, there was one pumpkin pie left in the entire town. The asking price? 18 dollars! Debating whether or not I could find another legitimate excuse to commute to Lincoln City, I decided to call the grocery again on Christmas Eve. They’d received another shipment and were almost sold out, again!
 
I rushed right over and found only 3 left. Luckily, I only needed one. When I got home I discovered I still had to bake it! I hadn’t used my oven in years and, even though I managed to light the pilot, I simply couldn’t get the oven fired up.
 
So, I threw it into a large skillet, put a lid on it, and hoped for the best. Honestly, it didn’t turn out half-bad! The bottom crust was a little crisp and the filling developed an unusual shape to it but, once I piled on the whipped cream you couldn’t even tell my pie was a little “odd.” I could consider this another RiverCat Misadventure — but it actually felt like I’d just saved Christmas!
 
 

Happy Holidays!

 
 
 

 

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Snapshots : Pacific City, OR : Sitka Sedge

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Where I’m At: Pacific City, OR
Campground: Hart’s Camp
Visiting: Sitka Sedge State Natural Area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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RiverCat Journal : Pacific City, OR : Time Out!

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Where I’m At: Pacific City, OR
Campground: Thousand Trails

 

The Quest

I’ve been on a mission. I’m searching the coast for a great deal on a truck. It’s tiring and, at the moment, discouraging. Despite touring almost the entire northern Oregon coast, I’ve only managed about 30 seconds worth of sightseeing, so far…

 

 

It’ll be crunch-time soon — I’ll have to switch parks in a week. The van has issues, and I sense it’s not safe to tow with right now. However, if I’m not close to buying something, I’ll need to consider another repair…

Time Out!

Deadline or not, it’s time to slow down and take in my surroundings, again. Starting now…

 

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RiverCat Journal : Hollywood, FL : A Fish Out of Water

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Where I’m At: Hollywood, FL
Lodging: Airbnb
Work: WPT Rock N Roll Poker Open at Seminole Hard Rock

 

A Fish Out of Water

I’ve been feeling a bit out-of-place this trip.

 

 

My lodging is in a decent area and the neighbors seem nice enough…

 

 

But, astoundingly, I’ve only been to the beach 2-3 times in three weeks!

 

 

This is largely due to the temptations on the boardwalk — beach bars. I’ve done well to cut my alcohol intake to only a couple times per week, but it’s nearly impossible to avoid the tiki bars and outdoor restaurants overlooking Hollywood Beach. It’s okay, I’ll be back soon enough. And I’ll allow myself to indulge more when I’m at my goal weight. Another time.

 

The Symbolic Iguana

I see an iguana about every other time I go for a walk. It’s amazing to me that these 2 foot-long lizards just wander the streets of Miami! But perhaps I keep seeing them because they’re symbolic of “contentedness.” Iguanas just sort of lay around and soak it all in. They seem to have a certain wisdom that everything’s just fine.

 

 

I’m going to need a new car, soon…

Okay, more specifically — a brand new pre-owned truck. It’s not in the budget so I have no idea how I’m going pull it off, but I’m anxious to get back to Oregon and find out.

This, and other financial realizations, have weighed heavy on my mind since I arrived in Florida. Sometimes. At other times, I know this is inspiring me to make an even better life for myself. I’m bouncing around my business ideas and am pretty close to making some important decisions. It’s exciting!

And, despite my nervous anticipation, I feel “content.” Sure, I could be hanging out at the beach, but I know that right now I’m supposed to be brainstorming, researching, and meditating.

There are good things happening on the horizon. And I think there’ll be plenty of Florida Beach Days in my near future. Life is Good.

 

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