You are going to have to wait a bit to find out WHAT is Liz’s fault, but trust me, it is worth it!
As we continued north, I remembered from the past a friend who, I thot, lived in Roseburg, Or. Roseburg was right at the 4-hour point; so we were stopping for sure; the only question was whether we’d get a chance to see someone from a long time ago in a Galaxy far far away…
Not wanting to seem ungrateful, I asked Paul if it would be OK if I had my own beer — I’d even bring one…
I messaged with Betsy Kremser, a friend from College – I asked if her brother Paul, with whom we’d associated in the early 80’s when I came to Chicago, was still living there after moving in abt 1985. Betsy said, “Why yes, he does.” (Amazing – I cannot remember what I had for lunch, but can remember a detail like this). So we called and, lo and behold after almost 40 years, Paul invited us over to share a beer.
Paul and Cindy suggested that “We might be able to park in his driveway.” I am glad we chose instead to pull into the Douglas County Fairground, less than 5 miles away. Tanks were full and empty (Diesel, Water, Grey and Black – all of them needed attention that the fairgrounds could offer in the form of a full hookup site). As it turned out, there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY we would have made it down their driveway! They live right on the Umqua river, down a winding drive which runs over several culverts we probably would have collapsed (even tho Paul said the garbage truck makes it) and under low-overhanging trees. BEAUTIFUL, but not RV WHERE YET Compatible. The fairground, in contrast, was $25 for the aforementioned full hookup and no potential drama or damage.
On the way to Paul’s we filled the fuel tank — $2.99 vs $4.50 in California. Then, Paul was kind enuf to share some of his home-brewed beer and Cindy gave us a handful of fresh asparagus. After cocktails we returned to RV WHERE YET and enjoyed the latter on a veggie pizza.
From Roseburg, we continued on to Eagle Creek, Oregon, where fellow Bluebirdbrains Rhoda and Brian Gibler reside. We met them in Quartzsite this winter, where we learned they farm Blueberries. Brian’s moniker is “Captain Blueberry;” there is even one of those Blue Official Highway signs placed by Oregon DOT (not for free, we learned!) that references this moniker. We followed the sign to the Giblers’ and enjoyed their company for a couple days.
Our stay there began, appropriately, with homemade Blueberry liqeur, which Rhoda served in a HUGE GLASS. Fortunately, not as alcoholic as many liqeurs, but also fortunate we were staying out by their shed – no driving, barely walking!!! Dinner was served eventually, followed by Blueberry Cheesecake. All YUMMY!!! And when we left, we had to rearrange everything in our tiny fridge to allow for the 5lb bag of frozen Blueberries Rhoda gave us.
We packed a full day at the Giblers with all sorts of fun stuff. They drove up to Mt. Hood’s “Timberline Lodge.”
This SPECTACULAR 30s-era CCC project is a treasure. And there is still snow up there – in fact people ski year around. We did NOT ski, but we sat in a big picture window, overlooking the Skyline and enjoying lunch-and-a-beer.
Later that day we went to their favorite Craft Brewery (Feerless) for Dinner and a beer. There we met all the locals – Like “Cheers” a familiar place where everyone knows your name. It turns out, Brian was even a Postman for 30 years before he metamorphosed into CAPTAIN BLUEBERRY!
Before we could leave for this day of adventure, The Giblers said they had to wait until their Whore arrived so they could show her where to weed the patch.
I had to think about that for a minute. Perhaps the “Professionals” in Oregon “sunlight” instead of “moonlight” (since their profession is generally more active at night). Then it dawned on me: The Giblers had employed someone as a “Hoe-er” (i.e. one who hoes). Of course, how would one know that they meant “hoe-er,” not “Whore?” English is a REALLY riudiculous language; that much is certain! As well that the Giblers meant to confuse me, because they were laughing at my befuddlement!
We also had a chance to walk the Blueberry Fields, in FULL BLOOM, and learn about the process of growing and selling them. Drip irrigation, Dositron fertilizing equipment that pushed precisely measured amounts of fertilizer thru the drip system; a bizarre contraption that crawls down the rows and hydraulically beats the berries (very gently) off the bushes into palettes. Mostly, the Giblers sell their Blueberries “U-Pick” to the public…they told us about the weekend pandemonium that occures from mid-june onwards.
While parked at the Captain’s, I did an Oil Change on RV WHERE YET in preparation for Alaska. Brian has plenty of farm equipment, so pans for draining oil and bottles for recycling it were readily accessible. All in all, a VERY PRODUCTIVE and FUN visit. At our next stop, we served some of the Frozen Blueberries Rhoda had given us in Parfaits to our next hosts. When I wrote to thank Rhoda again, the response was, “You’re gone and yet we are STILL feeding you…” (tongue in cheek, I think.)
The aforementioned next stop was in Hood River, Or., where fellow Bluebirdbrains Kathie and John Alley live. They offered us a spot next to their barn and a relaxing time enjoying the idyllic area around the Columbia River Gorge. They did not mention in advance that they, too, were living in their bus next to the barn – they are in the process of emptying and selling their house; and the Estate Sale was the following weekend! So, both parked outside their soon-to-be-former home, we took turns cooking dinner for each other. It was a BLAST and a beautiful and relaxing stay.
Except for one thing. THE FROGS. OMG. We have parked next to freeways, trucks, trains, oil refineries…NONE OF WHICH were anywhere near as noisey by sheer measure of decibels than these frogs! Weird that when we visit Chicago, the sirens and all the urban noise is comforting, but in rural areas, the “natural” noises are anything but!
Weird also that the frogs all STOP in unison, then start again after awhile. Unclear why. John speculated that the Cougar that had recently been seen in their yard had visited the pond.
YIKES. I had been wandering outside to John’s barn in search of a screw or a tool over the course of several hours AFTER DARK (i.e. cougar time). Never did see a cougar. Which is totally fine with me!
Now, as promised, you shall know why It’s ALL Liz’s Fault…
As we were leaving The BlueberryBrains (I mean the Giblers), Liz asked me, “Since I had changed the oil and everything seemed to be working (Her EXACT WORDS), would I need to work on the bus at all while we visited fellow Birdbrains the Alleys in Hood river?”
Lot’s of extra fingers waved in our direction, by even very friendly Oregonians
Suddenly, as we approached the Alleys (we were less than 10 miles away as I recall), the horn began to sound on its own. Every time I turned the wheel past 2 o’clock to the right or 10 o’clock to the left. I also noted that the Hazard light switch was stuck, and the directional signals no longer worked. All that mechanism is jammed into the steering column. So, we are driving down VERY SCENIC (and very curvy) roads, unable to signal our intentions AND honking randomly at drivers around us (or so it seemed). Lot’s of extra fingers waved in our direction, by even very friendly Oregonians.
Obviously, I was NOT going to be able to avoid working on the bus – Liz had virtually assured such an outcome by tempting the fates with her question. And not just because of the failed components – Liz was in serious danger of hyperventilation, as she could NOT STOP LAUGHING every time the horn honked, and an unwitting driver looked up at us (or worse) wondering why. Not helpful, Liz.
The irony of this is that, had this occurred in Texas or Arizona, we could have driven 1,000 miles before I’d have had to figure out how to fix the issue – there are no curves of any consequence between San Antonio and Bakersfield. But, no, this happened in hilly, curvy Oregon. I was afraid to drive even the last 10 miles without pulling the Horn Fuse, at least. We ultimately made it to the Alleys, and, after a delightful dinner and a Scotch, I began to consider how to fix the problem (Scotch always helps!).
The first challenge was that you need a special tool to remove the steering wheel before you can even SEE the various switches inside. John, it seems, had for years collected and repaired off-road vehicles and Race Cars. He had a FULL SHOP, with 3 different sized Steering Wheel Pullers. Unfortunately, none of them the right size for RV WHERE YET’s wheel. John happily drilled two additional holes in one, and said I could KEEP THE TOOL when done. After all, the “Estate Sale” was going to be offloading these…John was not planning to need even ONE steering wheel puller, never mind 3.
Anyway, I got the wheel off and sorted out the wiring. The Hazard switch had failed (actually melted) in between the “HAZARD ON” and “HAZARD OFF” position, thereby disabling both the hazards AND the turn signals. And one of the switch contacts had bulged up just enuf to contact the Horn ring. Worse, the whole steering column switch assembly was meant to be replaced as an assembly; which would not be available immediately (though it probably WAS available since the steering column is basically a Bluebird Bus part).
Not able to wait (we’ve got places to be and people to meet, dammit – ALASKA baby!), John took me to ALL the local Auto Parts options to find a switch. AT the counter of one, the saleman VERY SPECIFICALLY said “We don’t have one, but across the street at Ace Hardware they will – aisle 24…” John said, “Hood River is a Small Town, he probably worked in that store as a kid.”
Anyway, I found a switch and, with more than a little redneck engineering managed to replace the broken part of an assembly not meant to be replaced in this way.
All working. More or less. Still not quite right if turn signal is on with foot on brake. But I don’t use the brakes that often…
I reminded Liz to NEVER AGAIN ask me “if everything is fixed now.” And we continued onwards and upwards…