RiverCat Journal : Site 92 : Pendleton, Oregon

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Where I’m At: Pendleton, OR
Campground : Wildhorse Resort

 

It’s been over a week since I’ve posted. There’s a good reason for that — I’ve been working an average of 14 hours per day since arriving in Pendleton. Therefore, I’m condensing my recent adventures into one post…

 

A Bump in the Road

The coastal roads in Oregon are rough. I’m going blind. This makes for a lousy combination. I hit a foot-high road hump at a bridge at nearly 50 miles per hour that I was sure would be the one to unhitch me and leave my home behind. Luckily, everything stayed intact and appeared okey dokey during my stay in Pacific City. However, upon my return to Bend, Oregon it became clear there is at least some minimal damage. I now have a “creak” in the rear end. I’m only hoping the cause of this discerning sound is simply my leaf springs sliding out…

 

leaf springs

 

I’ll pound it back in at my next stop and hope for the best.

My return to Bend was highlighted by a visit to the High Desert Museum. I began with a guided tour about the pioneers and miners of the Northwest territories. Great stuff, but I was even more interested in the birds of prey and how you can identify these large birds by their flight patterns (I was able to spot a falcon and an eagle on my next drive). I was also quite surprised that, while bald eagles eat mainly fish, golden eagles have been known to take down adult deer and elk!

And then there’s the prehistoric sawtooth shark.  Here’s where grinding your teeth in your sleep becomes a problem…

 

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The Rolling Hills of Eastern Oregon

I could not believe I would actually fork out $500 for two weeks at an RV park! Granted, on two occasions, I have actually paid more — but that was because I was stranded at an expensive California park while waiting on parts for a repair. This is the first occasion I’d intentionally paid this much! The only way I could justify it was because I’d be getting paid good money to work. Also, there simply weren’t any better options. I could either walk to work or pay the difference in gas.

pendleton yard

 

But how’s this for a yard! Site 92 at Wildhorse resort is a corner lot with a picket fence (not pictured) and rolling hills as far as the eye can see. It’s fun to watch trucks slowly make their way down the hills from Idaho. And, while the campground amenities are very basic (there is access to the hotel’s heated pool and workout room), this one easily makes my Top Ten list for the spectacular views alone.

 

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The Windstorm

Being only a couple hundred yards away from the casino, I thought it would be a great idea to walk to work. This would be shortlived, however, when a windstorm nearly swept me off my feet after my first 12-hour shift. With sustained winds of 40 miles an hour and 80-mile-per-hour gusts the entire night, there were times I actually thought my home would blow over. I slept less than one hour and literally got seasick from the extreme rocking. The storm lasted nearly 18 hours as I worried about the potential damage the next day at work.

After a fifteen-hour shift, I found that three out of four stabilizers had been rocked one inch off their foundation. I tightened them up and hoped for the best. Somehow, ole’ 48 Ugly managed to get through the ordeal unscathed! I couldn’t be more proud.

 

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Long Hours, A Tough Gig

Wildhorse is a tough place to work until you make the “A-List”. Despite being a top-notch poker dealer with more experience than nearly every dealer here, I don’t have seniority. This may or may not be tough to come by. I’ll have a better idea after the next tournament in November. I’d love to make this a regular gig, where the November and April events could keep me in the Northwest for 5 months, I simply don’t know if I can justify it yet.

 

Health

I literally have 5 pairs of prescription glasses. Due to my RK surgery (pre-lasik) many years ago, my corneas are now a disaster — my eyes can’t dilate properly and my vision fluctuates 3 points per day.

 

glasses

 

Am I really getting my corneas replaced? I’ll be en route to Vegas soon to find out…

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RiverCat Journal : Rainy Days at the Beach

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

 

Campsite Bunnies

My drive to the Oregon Coast when rather smoothly until I ran into some rough road less than 20 miles from my destination. With my poor vision, I managed to hit a monstrous road hump on a bridge at a brisk pace. Upon my descent I was almost certain this would be the impact that would unhitch my home in a nasty crash. Somehow everything remained intact. There may be some damage, however. Both the rear of the van and 48’s tongue are now groaning in protest — this will have to be monitored.

campsite

 

This campground quickly shot to the top of my list of favorites. I can’t possibly cover all the fun amenities of Pacific City Thousand Trails in one post. But I’m going to return — lots. And, in future posts, I’ll share some pictures of the lodge (where I spotted a whale) and the recreational facilities. This adventure was about unwinding with nature…

 

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And it seems appropriate that each campsite gets it’s own bunny. These critters are everywhere!

 

A Walk on the Beach 

The beach trail from camp takes less than 10 minutes to walk. Nobody seems to mind the rain, certainly not me! I loved watching the waves crash into the rocks…

 

I doubt you need a narrator for the next few pictures…

 

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Ahhh. This week is exactly what I needed. I saw less than 3 miles of Oregon coastline the entire week — but what more did I need!

 

 

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RiverCat Journal : Pacific City, OR : Cape Kiwanda

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

 

Pacific City and Cape Kiwanda are famous for their great tradition of dory fishermen. A dory is a small flat-bottom and I’ve been told that, even despite a decline in recent years, the area still has the largest dory fleet in the world. While I didn’t witness any of these fishing boats, perhaps due to the weather conditions, my stay in Pacific City will be more like two weeks next time so I can investigate this more.

 

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Haystack Rock is actually one of two such tourist attractions on the Oregon Coast with the exact same name — the other in Cannon Beach. The Pacific City version stands quite a bit taller at 340 feet.

 

haystack rock

 

Lots of folks seemed to like climbing the gargantuan sand dunes but I preferred exploring the tide pools and observing the magnificent waves slamming into the rocks — sometimes spraying 20-30 feet into the air.

 

rock

 

Currently the businesses at Cape Kiwanda consist of a couple RV resorts, a hotel, a general store, and 3-4 restaurants — all in a little one-block radius. (A large hotel/spa is on the way). I’ve been hanging out quite a bit at Stimulus, the coffee shop with a VIEW

 

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This is The Pelican, a world-class micro-brewery and restaurant right on the ocean!  It’s understandable why people flock here — terrific beer and an unbelievable view. The food might be equally tasty, but the premium prices have just left me wondering about that for the time being. Perhaps next time around.

I may even join the mug club one day…

 

mug club

 

For $80 (and $40 annual dues) you can get your own numbered mug at The Pelican. This means every time you enter the establishment the bartender gets to leaf through sliding cupboards and climb ladders to find your personalized glass! It’s astonishing to watch, and maybe it’s even a bit silly — but really, really cool.

 

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My Latest Brilliant Idea…

So here’s my “latest.” I intend to spend 6 months a year on this coast. I can work 3-4 events in Vegas per year, pick up 2-3 gigs in Oregon and Washington, and also fly out for work in Atlantic City and other venues. Someday I’ll have the ability to roam the entire country again. But until then, this is easily the next-best thing. This is where I belong.

And, once I sort out my health issues, this is very doable. With my Thousand Trails membership I have 4 campgrounds here on the Oregon Coast. I can stay 2 weeks for less than $50, then my “out week” for an average of $250 (in-season/off-season), and simply bounce around this paradise for all of $100 per week! Sign me up.

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Snapshots : Cloverdale, OR : Whalen Island County Park

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

 

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RiverCat Journal : VisionQuest : Chehalis, CA

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Where I’m At: Chehalis, WA
Campground : Chehalis Thousand Trails
Recently Updated : Written in Jello

 

Garmin Prefers the Scenic Route…

My Garmin is old. Really old. It costs the same to buy a new Garmin as it does to update the maps. In fact, when I purchased mine, I don’t think they even offered lifetime updates. It’s done a great job over the years. Aside from one little area in Las Vegas, it’s never really gotten me lost. But it has taken me on the “scenic” route a couple times.

This time it did something really strange, though. After reviewing my atlas and Mountain Directory West, I’d already chosen the route I thought I wanted to take — a drive of approximately four and a half hours. But when I punched in my destination on the Garmin, she wanted to take me up 97 and then pick up 84 — also a four and a half hour drive. Great! It meant I’d get to see even more of interstate 84 and the Columbia Gorge. But more than an hour into the journey Garmin decided it was a six-hour drive, instead! There was nothing I could do. I would arrive in Chehalis after dark.

Surprisingly, I managed to navigate two steep hills, back in, and set up in total darkness with very little difficulty. Here’s the view from my desk window…

 

Chehalis Thousand Trails

Chehalis is the original Thousand Trails with almost 400 acres to explore. It is probably the quietest campground I’ve ever stayed in. (Granted, it is the rainy season and only one section remains open after some devastating winter storms).

Every day I wake up to the sound of a woodpecker. Every afternoon I can see several deer grazing nearby. One regular visitor claims to have seen black bear and even a mountain lion once! This area is absolutely teeming with wildlife.

Despite quite a few difficulties I’ve somehow managed to take a few hikes and explore the property. Some areas have the feel of a ghost town at the moment, with many of the amenities shut down due to the storm and an elusive water break. Unfortunately, this is why I won’t be able to take advantage of the adult lodge and swimming pool.

Some of the outdoor amenities such as tennis, pickleball, mini-golf, and horseshoe pits haven’t seen any love lately. It’s difficult to tell if this is simply the weather, moss, and mud during the rainy season — or if these facilities haven’t been maintained in years.

I don’t care. As much time as I’ve spent in the desert and drought-stricken California the past few years, I’m just loving the RAIN! There’s no need to spend money on car washes and RV detailing when you’re staying in the Northwest this time of year…

 

 

My Quest for Vision

My personal challenges have not gotten any easier since Jeepers has passed on. During his 6-month demise, I have really neglected to realize just how serious my own health issues may be.

It’s been two full years of trying perhaps 15 different prescriptions, none of which have worked. My eye doctor in Vegas says he has never seen a variance like this. My doctor here in Seattle has also never seen anything like it! I’m a medical oddity, it seems.

I originally intended to stay here for only four days. But it turned into VisionQuest 2017 and a full two-week stay. I have spent over $600 and the majority of my time here bouncing around between my eye doctor and various Lenscrafter stores (as far as 2 hours away) in an attempt to quickly secure some high-powered lenses and an interim solution. After several fails, we discovered my vision changes a full 3 points in each eye throughout the day. I now have 5 eyeglasses to get me through each day — 3 for distance, 1 reading, and my nasty progressives to fill in the gaps when necessary.

The prognosis isn’t good: Between 3 optometrists, one believes I may have diabetes, the other two seem to think I’m heading for a major surgery — cornea replacement! This is a result of a surgery I had about 25 years ago. Radial keratotomy was laser surgery’s predecessor. It gave me 20 years of terrific vision. Unfortunately, my eyeball is now mush. I’m cutting this trip short to get back to Vegas before May for my physician and opthalmologist appointments.

 

My Office

On the days I can break away from VisionQuest early (finally, today was my last for awhile), I’ve done some sightseeing. But it’s been such a frantic pace, that a handful of my best days in Chehalis has actually been setting up shop at the family lodge to take advantage of cellphone service and wi-fi. I’ve even managed to watch some basketball!

lodge tv

 

Honestly, when you have a terrific campsite surrounded by natural beauty, this is not where you would expect to make best use of your time. But life happens on the road and the lodge has been my refuge this time around. I utilized my resources to make the best of my situation…

 

lodge

 

And what a place to do it!

 

lodge balcony

 

 

I finally got confirmation that I’m working an event in Pendleton, Oregon. This is music to my ears after bleeding money this entire trip — weather delays (throwing off my weekday Passport America rate calendar), bad poker, bad health — now maybe I can maybe get back to Vegas not limping quite as bad.

I’ll still get to spend a week on the Oregon Coast, a couple days along the Columbia Gorge, a two-week working vacation in the Pendleton area, and maybe even a fun journey back to Vegas! Who knows…maybe the best of this journey is yet to come…

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Snapshots : Long Beach, Washington

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Current Campground: Chehalis, WA
Campground : Chehalis Thousand Trails

 

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van ocean

 

waves

 

tree sand

 

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Signposts : Centralia, Washington

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Current Campground: Chehalis, WA
Campground : Chehalis Thousand Trails

 

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Snapshots : Bend, OR : Downtown Bend

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Current Campground: Sunriver, OR
Campground : Thousand Trails

 

 

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RiverCat Journal : Sunriver Oregon Thousand Trails : Snowcamp!

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Current Campground: Sunriver, OR
Campground : Thousand Trails

 

Highway 97…

After two weather days I finally made my way over the mountain passes!

Highway 97 between Redding and Bend is a photographer’s dream! In fact, when I someday learn how to take decent pictures I intend to spend an entire month on this stretch of road. Add it to my bucket list.

A little north of Klamath Falls I observed several feet of snow. Clearly, quite a bit of it was fresh from the winter storms the two days prior. It’s a good thing I waited it out.

 

Snow Camp

Even despite the white scenery during the drive, I was quite surprised to pull into my camp near Bend and find this…

 

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It was a little slippery backing up, but not too bad. When I was all done, I found myself quite cozy in my own personal winter wonderland. My nearest neighbor being a good 50 yards away, I’ve already enjoyed a movie in “surround sound” with no worries of disturbing anyone.

 

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The centerpiece of Sunriver Bend Thousand Trails is a rustic little town square that includes a general store, library, seasonal snack bar, and a  courtyard where large bunnies and full-grown cats coexist together!

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But my favorite part of the town square is the family lodge. The fireplace keeps the lodge quite toasty and, with strong wi-fi and satellite TV, it’s a really good place to set up shop. Surprisingly, I’ve had it all to myself! It seems the winter campers are content staying put in their RVs.

rec room
The outdoor recreation is plentiful here: River strolls, horseshoes, disc golf, hiking, basketball, and pickleball. The main lodge seems to be closed for the season…

lodge

 

Working Vacation!

I’ve just been hired for a 10-day  dealing job in Pendleton!  This is one of the first pieces to fall in place during a puzzling trip. It gives me some financial stability at a time I can’t seem to win at poker and allows me to feel comfortable proceeding to Seattle and taking my shot at a “satellite” to win my way into a big event.

Should I win the satellite event, I’ll get to play in 5 big tournaments and  stay in the area for a couple weeks. Should I lose, I now at least have my campgrounds narrowed down knowing I’m heading towards Pendleton to work. In all likelihood it would be the Oregon Coast for 18 days.

But this is also contingent on solving my vision problems. My distance glasses are being sent to my first camp near Seattle. If they are sufficient, I can then order my reading glasses — and who really knows when and where I’ll be able to secure those. My worst-case scenario and biggest fear is that I’ve done more damage while wearing these multi-focals and my prescription has changed once again. That could lead to one big headache of a logistical challenge: A new optometrist in the Northwest, reordering and securing my distance glasses, then reordering and securing my reading glasses. Ugh! That would pretty much “ground” me near an actual city to see the whole process through.

But it’s all good. When you live on the road, life still happens.

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Snapshots : Weed, CA : Friendly RV Park and Mt. Shasta

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Current Venue: Mt. Shasta, CA
Campground : Friendly RV Park

 

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