(C)  2002-2014 J. Watson       All rights reserved  
Travel Letters
Wilmington, NC                                    July 25, 2012

We started home on July 8th.  As we crossed the
bridge from Coos Bay we saw the Oregon Dunes
National Recreation Area and drove alongside the
dunes to Florence.  Some of the road was in sight of
the Pacific, but the view was generally blocked by
the dunes.  As you may recall, some years ago we
rode ATVs over the dunes – didn’t think we’d do it
this year.  A stop along the way was in Reedsport to
the Elk Viewing Area, just out of town.  There were a
couple of dozen dining on grass.  

Then inland to Bend, Oregon.  This is a beautiful
ride through forests and mountains.  The stately
Douglas Firs predominate at the early part of the
ride and then are replaced by the somewhat smaller
Ponderosas.  Approaching Sisters, Oregon, we
stopped to see the charred forest that is recovering
from the fires a few years ago.  Mount Washington in
the distance is snowcapped, and some undergrowth
is making a comeback.  

Bend has a marvelous RV park with large sites with a
park-like appearance.  This is so unusual that I’m
showing a photo – most are not as well groomed and
maintained as this.  We’d have liked to re-visit some
of the area but the heat was hitting the 90s, a bit too
high for us geriatrics to tour.  Many retirees have
settled in Bend as it has a desirable climate.  The
present heat wave is exceptional, shattering prior
RV Travel notes from
the traveling gran'ma and gran'pa
Vol 22  No 4                                                                                                                                                                                      July, 2012
As we travel along the California and Oregon coast we always enjoy the scenic coastline with
seals sunning on the offshore rocks, small fishing villages and vast areas with towering
redwoods.  Then over the mountains to the northern edge of the Great Basin.  Our travels
take us on roads leading to "small town America".  Further on the oil wells and wind farms are
sprinkled among the parched farms -- it's been an extremely dry year.  A notable stop was in
Abilene, KS to visit Eisenhower's home.  
Coos Bay is another community that is reinventing
itself.  When we were here twenty years ago it had a
paper mill and a diverse timber industry – but
declining.  Now the paper mill is gone; the ocean-
going ships that took wood chips, etc. overseas
seldom come this far into the harbor; and the railroad
sidings are empty.  Of necessity, it appears that there
is greater dependence on tourists.  

It is the deepest water port between San Francisco
and Seattle; however, we see little evidence of port
activity.  The port is about 15 miles from the ocean,
which gives adequate protection.  Some big seagoing
tugs are here and we see an occasional barge
loaded with wood chips being pushed.  

We like this RV park, which overlooks the turning
basin where the ships turned around on their way to
the ocean.  We’re close to town and can walk there,
about a half mile along the water’s edge.  Not much of
a town – but we enjoy it.  The temperature in the
summer seldom tops 70 and in the winter it almost
never dips to freezing.  The low summer temperature
appeals to vacationers from the hot interior areas.  
On earlier trips, when a large ship approached the
turning basin the RV park office would alert everyone
by sounding a loud horn and many would go over to
the water’s edge to watch.  How’s that for an exciting

Looking at all the preceding pictures you can see we
enjoy water views.  It probably reflects on my
childhood when my family lived in the
section of the village.  We were in a house that had
been flooded up to the first floor window sills just a
few months before we moved into it.  People gauged
the severity of storms by how far up the water was on
Simpson’s lawn.  That’s where the dike ended, which
was built to make sure Long Island Sound stays
where it belongs.  

On the fourth we had front row seats to the city
fireworks, which were displayed over the harbor.  Just
stepped out of the motorhome and there they were.  It
was a great display and seemed like a doubleheader
as the casino had a similar display the night before.  

Over the past day we watched a barge being loaded
with wood chips and this morning, from our RV site,
we saw a tug towing the barge out of the harbor
headed for…we don’t know where.  If you look, below,
you’ll see a smaller tug pushing from the stern – it’s
probably fighting heavy currents to keep the barge in
the channel.  See, there is some excitement that
reminds us of prior visits.  
Dear Gals…Your Guys...  Our grandkids…
Now that half of you can vote should we say grand people?)
…and special folks

COOS BAY, OR                                      July 7, 2012

Last week we headed north along the coast.  Of
course before leaving we took a final look at the
harbor and seascapes of Crescent City.  The lower
right view was taken from our RV site.

There were marvelous views much of the way –
ocean, redwoods, small villages, and ports.  
Coos Bay is only four hours north of Crescent City
with lots of twists and turns on the way.  In other
words, Ida enjoyed the scenery as I kept my eyes on
the road.  She’d say, “Look at that,” and when I did,
she’d shout, “
John, watch out!”.

Visitors to Coos Bay target Simpson Reef as a must
see.  It has the beauty of the coastal cliffs plus the
unusual concentration of seals and sea lions that visit
the off-shore rocks during summer months.  Some
had already arrived.  
We occasionally meander into small villages – after
all that’s the real America.  Chappell, Nebraska is
sort of typical of small town America – a main street
with a few shops, a county courthouse, a community
park and a grain elevator.  Chappell is on the former
Lincoln Highway, which was America’s first
transcontinental highway.

Often we see farm communities with a population of
a thousand or so that have parks – maybe with a
lake; often ball fields or a picnic area.  To me it is
regrettable that larger towns and cities usually have
much, much, less park space per capita than rural
communities.  In my opinion, city planners should
actively make provision for more park space for
relaxation and recreation of the residents.  
Going east from Bend we took the Mid Oregon
Highway – it was about 130 miles through Oregon’s
High Desert.  First it was quite flat, then became
mountainous, then changed back to flat desert with
scrub growth.  The road was surprisingly good.  Into
Idaho we took the Interstate and noted that the
mountains in southern Idaho differed from the severe
mountain passes we experienced in the northern part
of the state on earlier trips.  

Our travel was pretty much just that – travel.  It was
too hot to do much touring.   
In Russell, KS our RV park was adjacent to the Oil
Patch museum.  It is an Interesting display of old oil
pumps and equipment.  We saw numerous oil pumps
slowly pumping as we drove in the area.  
Victoria, Kansas, another small community, has the
Cathedral of the Plains.  Victoria has a population of
1,200 and the church has seating for 1,100 – you
figure it!  In the early 1900s immigrants from
Germany built this church.  It is magnificent.  It is
listed in the National Register of Historic Places for
its architectural significance.  We saw the steeples
from miles away.
This isn’t just any old house – it’s the boyhood home
of  Dwight Eisenhower – the general who led the       
D-Day invasion of Europe in 1944 and former US
president.  He was raised in Abiline, Kansas and is
buried in the Place of meditation a few yards from the
home.  The museum portrays his life and many

A digression.  Years ago I was at a meeting in
Absecon, NJ  and stayed in the “Presidential Suite”,
referring to the fact that it was Ike’s suite when he
played golf.  

This is corn country.  It’s everywhere.  Mile after mile.  
But this year it’s a victim of the drought – much is now
just dried yellow stalks.  
Did you ever hear of Paxico, KS?  If not, you’re not
alone.  It has a thriving population of 221.  The
area has more than its share of tornados, so the
RV park has a shelter and we were informed that
they monitored the weather and we would be
alerted if a tornado was headed our way.  

As we’ve said many times, each RV park is
different.  When we checked into the one in Paxico
we were directed down this road a quarter mile to
our site.  You can see a few RVs in the distance.  
Like many campgrounds we stayed at this year it
was almost empty.
Now that we’re home we reflect on the trip – we
saw a lot, enjoyed it, but the heat did affect the
amount of touring we were able to do.  We spent
considerable time in the Border States to see the
remains of earlier cultures and desert.  We
traveled along the coast to some of our favorite
places as well as having temperatures in the 60s.  
Some inland places on our “to see” list were
bypassed because the temperatures were topping
earlier records and would have restricted our
hiking to the places of greatest interest.
Along the way we visited small town America. Each
has contributed to America’s growth in its own way
and has a story to tell.  

The stats of our trip are rather typical of our other
cross country trips with 10,690 miles (about 66%
off the Interstates) in 15 states and we stayed at
56 RV parks for a total of 156 nights.  Some RV
sites were just overnight, others for a week or two.

Enjoy your summer, y’all hear