Scott's Casa Grande Wheelio travel blog

December 2011 at Belfair State Park in WA

Wreck of the Peter Iredale at Ft. Stevens State Park

Scotty, Marcia, Jon & Kris on the beach near Nehalem Bay

Coquille River Lighthouse, Bandon, OR

Another beautiful campsite, William Tugman State Park

Sunset on a foggy day above Reedsport, OR

Thanksgiving Day at the Deckers

View of the mill from our front window

The male half of our turkey population

Our front yard three days ago...brrrrr!

Oops, I guess I am a bit behind when it comes to updating our journal. The last time I wrote we were wishing you all a Merry Christmas 2011 from Belfair, WA!! I will do my best to bring you up-to-date with a summary of our travel activities over the past 12 months. At the time of the last posting we had found out that we would be staying at Belfair longer than expected due to a double-booking at our next destination. Well, that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Not only did it give us more time to spend with great park rangers and good friends in the Belfair area, but we had some pretty extreme weather (snow and ice storms) in late December and early January that would have made our move impossible. In fact, due to the snow and damage from falling tree branches, the folks that were in our site at the next park were snowed-in and without electricity for two weeks. The weather was much improved when we arrived there in February so we spent the entire month cleaning up storm debris. The first of March we headed to Ft. Stevens State Park on the Oregon coast, just south of Astoria. We had volunteered here a couple of times in the past but always in various campground host positions. This time, we spent two months working in the historic military museum and gift shop at the fort. It was so much fun that we signed up to go back there again next year. May through September found us gradually moving down the coast to Bullards Beach State Park in Bandon, OR. During this five month stretch we spent time volunteering at two lighthouses and a visitor information center in three other OR State Parks. These were all return visits to parks that we love so not much of anything new to report about the parks themselves. It was great to reconnect with other hosts that have become dear friends over the past few years. The high point of the summer was a visit from our daughter, Marcia, and grandson, Jon, who came out from Tennessee while we were at Nehalem Bay. We last saw them when we traveled across the USA six years ago. We also had a wonderful visit with my brother and sister-in-law who spent a week with us at Bullards Beach State Park in September. In October we moved to William Tugman State Park (between Coos Bay and Reedsport). A very nice campground with a lake and boat launch facilities. I imagine that this park is really hopping in the summer. This was our first time here and we really enjoyed it....will probably plan a return stint here in the future. We tried another park for the first time in November...Valley of the Rogue State Park between Medford and Grants Pass. This park is a very popular spot for one night stays. It is connected to a rest area on Interstate 5. A little too close to the highway to be a long-term vacation spot but we were told that it can get pretty busy in the summer due to all of the activities along the Rogue River. We picked this park to be near our friends, Bobby & Margie Decker, andhigh schoolhool buddy, Sandi. This gave us a chance to catch up with them and we took advantage of the opportunity to get together with Decker'skers for Thanksgiving dinner. Whew!!! All caught up. We arrived at Thompson's Mills State Heritage Site in Shedd, OR (between Junction City and Albany) on December 1st. This is another first time volunteer site for us. We will be here for three months. Thompson's Mills is a water-powered flour mill that opened in 1858 and is still operational today. The mill sits on approximately 20 acres and the property includes several outbuildings and a 1904 Queen Anne style house (which is currently occupied by a park ranger but may be opened for tours in the future). We also have chickens, ducks, turkeys, and soon will have goats here. I was raised a city girl so this is quite different for me. I have learned one thing though....I have not named any of these creatures because occasionally one ends up on the menubecomesomes a snack for one of the local raccoons or river otters. Originally this mill ground wheat into flour for local area farmers. To keep up with the times during it's 146 years of operation, it progressed from milling flour to milling animal feed, then finally to generating electricity which was sold back to the local power grid. The mill ceased commercial operation in 2004. It opened as an Oregon State Park in December 2007. We still run the turbines today, but for demonstration purposes only. The mill is open daily from 9:00-4:00 for self-guided tours or Scotty & I, along with another host couple, are here to provide guided tours 2-3 times daily. This time of the year we don't get many visitors. We have been here for three weeks now and have only given one formal tour. Most of the time we just greet visitors and answer questions about the history of mill while they stroll around on their own. However, our most important job is to relieve the on-site ranger of his overnight "water duties" on his 3 days off each week. The mill race is fed by water from a couple nearby rivers. Depending on the flow of incoming water, it is necessary to raise and lower the gates that regulate the flow of water under the mill and out the tail race where it continues downstream. It is a pretty serious job because what we do can either cause or prevent flooding of local farms. This means that, depending on weather conditions, we sometimes have to go out at 2:00-3:00 a.m. to manage the gates. We have a meter in our motorhome that shows us the water levels on both ends of the mill. We are still not real comfortable with this responsibility so we find ourselves checking the flashing red numbers off and on all night long when we have "water duty". This is a beautiful spot and a perfect location allowing us to spend time with friends in Eugene so I am sure that we will come back here again. We are scheduled to volunteer in Oregon State Parks through October 2013 (Thompson's Mills, Ft. Stevens Military Museum, Cape Meares Lighthouse, Depoe Bay Whale Watch Center, and Coquille River Lighthouse). We will be returning to the Sacramento Area November 1st, 2013. I will give you an outline of our 2014 plans in a future update. And I know you've heard me say this before, but I really will try to update this journal more often. Here's wishing you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY & HEALTHY NEW YEAR! Love, Kris & Scotty

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