Thursday, October 25, 2007

A new feat in Redneck Engineering, Uncle Boogers Bumper Dumper

Yet another feat of Redneck Engineering, for those times when yer deep in the brush with the empty truck and the Camper's back at base camp and the urge just hits ya with the force of a runaway freight train.

The folks over at Uncle Boogers have come up with the ultimate solution, the Bumper Dumper.

Now your tow hitch has a second important and just as useful attachment besides yer stumping winch and your tow hitch for the boat. Now, it can hold your bathroom as well :).

Also gives you the option of using it with bags if you need to pack yer droppings out, or if you plan to just do as a Bear does in the woods, you can work it without, just remember to back the truck up after yer done, so you don't have a rather unpleasant accident by forgetting where to put your foot when yer climbing out of the bed of yer truck.

Yet another final marvel in the world of Redneck Engineering!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Nehalem Bay, Oregon (10-09-2007 to 10-11-2007)

While, enjoyable, the Great California Adventure took its toll on the Redneck Express. On the very last leg of our drive home, as I was driving up to drop Mason off in fact, the engine started to stumble.

From that little stumble, which was later discovered to be that several of the spark plug cables had failed right at the connection to the spark plugs, several hundred dollars were spent unnecessarily replacing the fuel pump, fuel pressure regulator a host of other things.

Needless to say, I didn't go on any trips for a little while.

However, given that Dawn hadn't been able to make the California trip, one she had really would have enjoyed, we decided to have one more outing to the coast with the camper before I put it to bed for the winter.

After much debate, we decided on something quiet and kind of in the middle of the northern Oregon coast.

Our destination was inspired as much by the fact that it was right between Tillamook and Seaside as it was based on my attempts to relieve a little bit of nostalgia, having had my first camping experience with my parents at the Tillamook KOA (no longer a KOA, now just a private park), and Nehalem Bay State Park.

For those that have never been to Nehalem Bay before, let me describe it a bit to you. The park itself is situated out on a little peninsula which forms the bay itself.

View Larger Map
The park has enormous dune walls on its ocean facing side that help shelter it from wind. The campsites, however, are somewhat close together and have little to no tree cover.

Another thing we later discovered is that this is one of the many State Parks in Oregon to have no undergone a sewer upgrade, so the sites available only contained Water/Electric.

One rather interesting feature about the park is that it has an additional camping option that you don't normally find, Fly In sites.

The park has its own airfield.

During our stay, we never saw any aircraft coming and going, but we did see a fair number of sport crab fishers coming and going to launch into the bay with the hope to land full pots.

So, we set out that evening after we got off from work and made the drive up the coastline to Nehalem Bay State Park. The drive up was quiet and rather uneventful, the Pacific Ocean lost in a blanket of night.

Something to note about Nehalem Bay, its location is rather obscure. Unlike the majority of Oregon's coastal State Parks, Nehalem Bay is set back on a small side road from the main highway by about a 11/2-2 miles.

Oddly enough, on the way in you meander your way amongst several coastal homes and a waste management facility..... Fortunately, it doesn't smell.

For a majority of folks, mostly out of state'ers or folks from the major metro areas of Oregon, tend to think that all of Oregon's State Parks as being set in picturesque forests with massive Douglas Firs scattered amongst the sites.

This isn't always the case and Nehalem Bay is a prime example of how they do vary from region to region.

To truely visualize the portion of Nehalem Bay we stayed at, you must first picture a large grassy field, about the size of two football fields attached end to end. Now, add large berms of rock and sand along the outer perimeter of that grassy field. Then thrown in a smattering of small, wind-blown fir trees with a somewhat squat cement block bathroom building centered amongst the loops of sites that dot the perimeter of this grassy bowl.

Now, picture the above with the vast majority of the campsites full and very little light being available and you've got a good idea of things when we arrived late that evening.

Two or three loops through the campground, we finally located a spot that looked big enough, unhitched the trailer and settled in for the night.

The next morning we offloaded the camper and started our way back through the city of Manzanita and gradually on south to Tillamook.

Our first stop was the Nehalem Winery.

As we pulled in and parked in the rather deserted parking lot, we were greeted by the Winery's resident pooch. I can't exactly say what breed he was, but whatever it was, he was extremely friendly and he and Dawn hit it off like they were old acquaintances reunited after a long period of separation.

Eventually, we managed to pull ourselves away from the Winery's guard and greeter to step inside the tasting room and sample the variety of wines they made.

I will say, the Nehalem Winery is perhaps the first winery I've ever visited that I was a tad lost at trying to categorize. At first casual glance, one would think it was just another winery along the Oregon coast line.

However, the more time you spent inside, gazing around at the wine racks and odd knickknacks scattered throughout the tasting room, you'd begin to question if it was a winery, or a Pub disguised as a winery.

As you let your eyes drift around the room, you'll first take in the very Bulgarian trimmings of the space, the old heavy wooden doors with their wrought-iron metal works, the mixture of delicate wood carvings mixed with the earthen tones of the brickwork.

Then, to completely throw off your old European mentality, the space is dotted with NASCAR memorabilia and paper fliers denoting upcoming wine events and small advertisements for local businesses in the Manzanita area.

Eventually, we got around to actually tasting the wine.

The Chardonnay and the Zinfandels were both nice, and even thought it may be considered a lesser wine by those with far more cultured wine pallets than our own, we enjoyed the Niagara as well.

In the end, we couldn't really decide on which one we liked best and given the in-shop price for the wine, we ended up leaving without purchasing any and gave our condolences to our four-legged greeter in the parking lot before moving on further south along Highway 101.

Our next stop along our route south to Tillamook brought us to the small coastal town of Garibaldi.

What actually led us to stop was a need to fulfill our curiosities about what, exactly, was Myrtlewood and why were there so many shops selling it dotted across Oregon?

The apparent answer to the question is that Myrtlewood, is a very slow growing, rather rare tree that produces some extremely fine pieces of woodworking, both in the forms of hand-carved bas-reliefs of various wildlife scenes, to ornate furniture that no other form of wood could produce.

There was quite a number of pieces in the shop in Garibaldi that I would have loved to purchased and taken home with me, but would have required the instantaneous winning of the Power Ball and Mega-Millions lotteries for me to have been able to afford!

Sadly, I think I shall always be one to envy those who are blessed with the financial means to purchase such beautiful wonders.

But, enough of my droolings about Myrtlewood, there's more to the little town of Garibaldi than just that one shop, which in of itself, was not even unique to the city. Myrtlewood shops are almost as prevalent on the Oregon coast as Starbucks are in a major city.

No, there's far more character to the town of Garibaldi than just one tourist wood shop.

For those that are not extremely familiar with Oregon's Railroad history, there was a time when the Southern Pacific Railroad had runs of track that went down the entirety of the coast line from one end to the other.

For the most part, the freight rail service has been gone for a number of years now, and large portions of the tracks were either abandoned or pulled up entirely, leaving behind only grown over right-of-ways or rusty dis-used ribbons of track that went nowhere.

Fortunately, a good portion of the Northern railway still exists. Its owned these days by the Port of Tillamook Bay and leased out to the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad.

Once upon a time, the Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad itself ran excursion trains from Tillamook to Vernonia, but that all ended, along with the major freight rail service when the floods of 2007 destroyed most of the right-of-way in the Salmonberry River Canyon.

The company applied for FEMA assistance to repair the railroad, but the amount awarded and the cost to repair the track tolled the death knell for the PoTB Railroad.

Our last stop for the day brought us to Tillamook proper and the Tillamook Pioneer Museum.

While no where near the scale of say a museum in Portland, the Tillamook Pioneer Museum covers a wide swatch of the city and county's own history, plus several portions covering the state during those times as well.

If you're looking for something in expensive to do while visiting, I humbly recommend making this one of your stops.

Main Floor, World War II exhibits and other main Exhibits
Basement - Old vehicles, Forestry, and other releated items
Top Floor - Animals and Insect Exhibits

From here, we went to dinner in Seaside to shop a little, play video games at the local arcade and eventually to a Restaurant named Doogers, for dinner. We both enjoyed the same dish, the Admirals Platter if I remember correctly, but cooked each in a different fashion.

Where dawn had here's cooked in butter, I had mine fried, both ways, it was still delicious.

Finally, we returned to the camper for our night caps and bed.

The following morning, we set out early and made our way south once more to Tillamook to visit the Blue Heron French Cheese Company and the Tillamook Air Museum.

The Blue Heron French Cheese Company is an interesting business, the tasting room and store are housed in a 1930’s Dutch Colonial barn that is a remnant of a showcase Grade A Jersey Cow farm. The farm was purchased by the Pastega family in 1978 and converted into the business you have to day.

This wasn't my first visit to the Blue heron French Cheese Company, not by a long shot! Many times over my childhood, we had stopped here when the grandparents, aunts, and uncles came to visit. Given that all of our family hails from the state of Illinois, which is about as far from the ocean as you can get, going to the Pacific Coast was a mandatory excursion during every visit.

Consequentially, I saw the cheese factory almost every summer, sometimes more than once. Mostly, we went there because my parents, and my aunts and uncles and so on, wanted to visit the wineries and try a wide array of flavors.

One particularly memorable visit to the Blue Heron French Cheese Company occurred when I was a teenager. My Grandmother on my Mother's side had wanted to bring back a couple bottles of wine with her, and so we had stopped at Blue Heron.

While my elders tasted their way through the myriad of wines sold at Blue Heron, I browsed around and sampled the different jams, jellys, sauces and cheeses.

In my perusals, I came across a product by the name of Dave's Insanity Sauce.

Having tried a number of other hot sauces in the store using simply the tip of a toothpick to get the essence of the flavor without setting my tongue on fire, I decided to try the same with this product.

Touching a toothpick tip of this sauce to my tongue was like grabbing a hot iron from the forge and ramming it into my mouth.....

So, 30 seconds later, I'm standing next to my parents, between whom worried looks were being exchanged, inbetween furtive glances at my beet red face as I shoveled the entire tin of oyster crackers at the wine bar into my mouth in a vain attempt at dousing Dante's Inferno.

One full bag of oyster cracks, several handfuls ice cubs, a gallon of water, a can of pepsi, and hour later, I was able to breath through my mouth again without the sensation of a propane weed burner being turned loose on my tongue.

Our last stop on this trip was to the Tillamook Air Museum.

The museum is housed in the only remaining WWII Blimp Hanger in Oregon (Hanger B, Hanger A burned to the ground in 1992), one of 17 that were commissioned in 1942 to house the Navy's K-class blimps being used for anti-submarine coast patrol and convoy escort.

The hanger holds a rather wide collection of various aircraft, most from the WWII era, but an equal number of aircraft dating progressively up to more recently.

One of the big pluses about this museum is that all of the aircraft housed in it are flight-ready.

Outside Hanger from Air
Inside from 1942

Outside the Hanger
Various Rooms inside the Hanger

The Planes

Various other Military Vehicles & Air Craft Engines
The DC-3

After having been drug through the museum for hours on end, photographing everything, Dawn pulled me aside and said "Enough."

We hightailed it back to the campground, loaded up and boogied on back home before we wound up getting charge for another night.