06-08-2015 Blowout on the way to Brookings

Current Location: Rocky Point, Oregon Sunny and warm at 79 F

Ah yes, every RV’rs worst nightmare.  Believe it or not, it wasn’t nearly as terrible as you might expect. 

blowout on 199 (4 of 10) Finally, after a couple of months of working on projects, preparing and recuperating from surgery, and enjoying our little Mattie, Mo and I headed for the beach.  We wanted to go to Harris Beach State Park for several reasons.  We love it there.  Judy is volunteering there this summer.  It is only a 2 hour drive from the Grants Pass cottage. 

As soon as I knew when Judy was going to be working, I made a reservation.  That was two months ago, and it is a good thing I did.  Seems as though Harris Beach is fairly popular in the summertime.  I realized as I looked back that we haven’t actually visited very often during the summer months.  Both of us know that the coast is often just the opposite of inland when it comes to temperatures, and summer fogs are common.  I warned Judy about that.  When people refer to Brookings as the “Banana Belt” of the Oregon Coast, they are usually talking about those gorgeous sunny days in December that can sometimes reach the 80’s while the rest of Oregon is cold and rainy.  Mattie at the Beach (13 of 22)

Summertime, however, is a different story.  Hot inland, cold at the coast.  Chilly inland, warmer at the coast.  Oregon was in the midst of some record breaking heat last week, so we expected it to be cooler in Brookings.

The day we drove west, however, last Monday June 8, was hot and gorgeous just about everywhere.  We left early enough to arrive around 1, even though check in time is technically 2pm.  blowout on 199 (5 of 10)

The winding drive from Cave Junction to Hiochi along Scenic Highway 199 next to the Smith River is impressive.  Lots of curves, drop offs, gorgeous views of turquoise pools far below the cliffs adjacent to the highway.  The very narrow highway.highway 199

BOOM!!  on a curve, with a vertical cliff upward on the passenger side, and another vertical cliff down to the river on the driver’s side, that boom wasn’t something we were expecting.  It was LOUD.  and SCARY.  Adrenalin pumping, Mo had no trouble keeping the rig going forward and we realized that the blowout must have been an inside dual.  We slowed way down and crawled to the closest turnout, which happened to be on the other side of the road going the opposite direction.   tire 1

No cell service.  Not a hint.  Nada.  Sure does make us appreciate that we have a toad!  Mo unhooked (this surgery recuperation thing is a true pain, I can’t lift the hitch for another couple of months) and I drove off west to find a spot with a signal.

blowout on 199 (2 of 10) Calling AAA wasn’t a problem until the dispatcher (someone somewhere in a far off state with a very difficult accent) said that AAA can’t change an inside dual, and that we would have to be towed.  Where did we want to go.  I told her several times I didn’t have cell service, but it didn’t click and she kept saying she would call me to keep us updated.  Nope.

Instead I drove back a few miles to Mo and the waiting rig where we were conveniently parked in the shade in one of the prettiest spots on the entire route.  Many times as we have passed this turnout we have wanted to stop, but usually it is full so we haven’t done it.  Shade, a view, no cell service, but who cares.  It is a gorgeous afternoon and we have a reservation so we can be as late as we need to be.  Whew. 

blowout on 199 (6 of 10) Within an hour a van pulled up, with a guy who said AAA sent him out to find us since they couldn’t reach us by phone.  He couldn’t change the tire, but he also said that we could obviously not be towed because we had a flat tire!.  He said that Les Schwab in Crescent City could do the change if we were willing to pay for the repair and then get reimbursed by AAA.  Sure.  Another hour went by and the Les Schwab truck showed up, but the guy didn’t realize that our hubs had covers on them and spent a very long time trying to find a lug wrench that would fit over the caps before we realized what he was doing and told him he needed to remove the covers to get to the lugs.

blowout on 199 (8 of 10) After a lot of work, he did manage to get the tire changed, but rather than straighten out the bent mud flap before putting the tires back on, he thought he would just pull the flap down.  Another half an hour went by before he decided he needed to take the tires back off, work at getting the flap untangled, and put the tires back on.  While we were waiting, I enjoyed every little moment of fluttering maple leaves against the brilliant blue skies.  It was an incredibly beautiful day to be sitting outside. By 3:30 we were once again on our way west. blowout on 199 (9 of 10) We at first couldn’t figure out why that tire had failed, and had failed so badly.  This set of tires was a full set of six that Mo got as part of a recall by Michelin in late 2013 just before we went on our three month trip to Florida.  What both of us had forgotten, however, is that back in Florida we had a flat, and the spare was installed in the inside dual position.tire 2 We didn’t find out till the next day in Brookings, when Mo bought a new Michelin tire, that that spare was one of the original tires from the MoHo with a date of 2005.  UhOh.  I guess a tire might fail if it is ten years old. 

We managed to get to Brookings by 5, a little bit worn out, and I walked up to Judy’s spot to let her know we had made it to camp. The next few days were great, with beach time and Judy time and some new places to explore in Brookings that we had never seen. 

But more of that in the next post…


5-09-2014 Leaving Brookings and Highway 199

Current Location: Rocky Point Oregon  Sunny and in the 70’s today

We were so lucky to have three gorgeous sunshiny days at the Oregon Coast.  Thursday and Friday were dark and rainy, but we thought our entire time at the beach would be dark and rainy, so we were prepared. Loeb Azalea Gard_197

After our morning hike on Wednesday, I checked the weather radar and with the wispy clouds in the west and the low cloud bank over the ocean and knew that anything else we wanted to do that required sunshine should be done soon.Loeb Azalea Gard_195

Azalea Park is one of the treasures of Brookings.  Located on the east end of town, the park has a rich history dating back to the 1800’s.  I read that some of the old azaleas in the park were there when Lewis and Clark wintered here in 1805-1806.  Loeb Azalea Gard_227

Unlike the gorgeous hybrids of rhododendrons and azaleas we have today, these old beauties are tall and rangy, with soft muted colors.  Still, it is great that the city of Brookings has preserved the park and the old azaleas.Loeb Azalea Gard_216

We have visited the gardens in the past, at different times during the spring, but this one I think was the best.  As I said previously, it is a crap shoot, and there is no way to plan a specific date for the best bloom.  Loeb Azalea Gard_212

We again walked the same paths that we walked last December in the dark of winter, enjoying the Christmas light show.  The paths meander around the grounds lined with every possible color and variety of rhododendron you can imagine. 

Another favorite of mine are the pastel spring growth of the Pieris japonica.  Loeb Azalea Gard_241

Huge gunnera plants I first saw at Butchart Gardens in Victoria are reminiscent of a fairy tale world where people are tiny and can hide under giant leaf umbrellas. With blue skies and brilliant sunshine, we had no need to hide under any kind of umbrella.

Loeb Azalea Gard_192 Thursday night the rains started, and we didn’t mind a bit.  Lowering the awning on one side let the water pour off without pooling in the canvas, and we picked up the rugs and kept the chairs safe from rain.  Even a walk or two around the park was a welcome break from reading, watching a couple of great movies, and doing that ‘relaxing’ thing that we had promised ourselves for this trip.Loeb Azalea Gard_218

I have often mentioned traveling home via Highway 199, but usually I never manage to get any photos of the route. 

It is a magnificent drive along the wild Smith River, past the redwoods at Jedediah Smith State Park, winding into the mountains adjacent to the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.  Mothers Day 2014_009

There are steep drop offs along the way, some narrow roads with signs warning of even more narrow sections and sharp curves.

Mothers Day 2014_006 Still, we saw full size semi’s negotiating the curves easily, with even more large fifth wheels and Class A motorhomes along the route.  It can be done, and isn’t difficult in a big rig.  It just requires slowing down and enjoying the view.

Mothers Day 2014_002 There are a very few parking areas  along the way, but plenty of turnouts to let the speedy ones pass, and a few places with passing lanes.

Mothers Day 2014_012 Hiouchi RV Park is just a bit east of the redwoods, and is a nice private park.  We stayed there once in 2011, and enjoyed sunshine away from the coastal fog with only a short drive to either Crescent City or Brookings. After leaving the river, at the Oregon-California state line, there is a large tunnel, with plenty of clearance for most any kind of big rig.

Mothers Day 2014_018 When traveling to and from Brookings and Grants Pass, the route crosses over the Oregon-California border twice.  Sometimes the ag inspection stations are open, most of the time simply asking us if we have fruit, plants, or firewood on board.  We do say ‘no’, in spite of the occasional apple or head of lettuce hiding in the RV fridge.  So far, the inspectors are usually so taken with Jeremy on the dash that they smile and nod and never give us a bit of trouble.

Mothers Day 2014_016 It takes a short two hours to travel from Brookings to Grants Pass, and we arrived back at the cottage early in the afternoon to mixed sun and rain.  It was that blustery kind of spring rain that comes and goes, however, and Mo managed to mow the property on Friday afternoon.  I did a bit of weeding, visited with the neighbors, and made plans to enjoy the next two days of Mother’s Day weekend with three of my four kids.  Lucky Me!