Home is where we are parked

Home is where we are parked
Home is where we are parked

Sunday, December 2, 2018

OR -- Pendleton, Nehalem, & McMinnville 23 Oct–14 Nov 2018


Change of plans…

As soon as fall hit, we felt the pull of the Oregon coast. Not only do we love the coast, but we really looked forward to replenishing our wild mushroom supply.

We scratched most of our itinerary after Arco, Idaho and came up with a new plan so we could spend some time searching for our delicious treasures.

First, we stopped in Boise, Idaho for a week to visit our friends, Nate and Colleen. Then we pushed onto Oregon!

Pendleton OR…


Pendleton was a perfect halfway point between Boise and the coast. We were able to drive up Deadman’s Pass in the afternoon rather than early in the morning when it might be slick. The forecast was for snow and freezing temperatures. Deadman’s Pass climbs “2,000 feet in elevation that's chock-full of double-hairpin turns, as well as 6 percent grades.” It’s best to go over in fair weather.

So rather than stay in LaGrande, we pushed over to Pendleton. Plus, we had heard about their underground tours and wanted to check it out.

We stayed at Wildhorse Casino just outside of town, based on advice from our travel friends, Tom and Deb. “The RV Park has 30 & 50 amp spaces, complete with full hookups, laundry, showers and heated swimming pool.” It was a great suggestion because the sites were wide with a lot of extra room and areas to walk. Even though it is nearly a mile from I-84, we could still hear traffic at night.

Pendleton is a small city with a population of about 16,000. They have a charming downtown area. It is evident that they have embraced their history which includes Pendleton Woolen Mills, China town where thousands of railroad workers settled, and the notorious red light district.

“The town is the cultural center of Eastern Oregon. Pendleton's ‘Old town’ is listed as a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Pendleton Underground Tours is a non-profit corporation that started in 1989. The history of legal and illegal businesses operating in the same area for over 100 years makes the tour unique and like no other tour anywhere.”

We met for the tour at their downtown gift shop. The tour started in a tunnel around the corner with access from a street level stairwell.

Our guide was dressed appropriately since it was Halloween. She told us how the tunnels used to extend up to three miles under the streets and city blocks.

We wandered under a two block area and saw old gambling halls, ice cream shop, a bowling alley, an Opium Den, Chinese dorm rooms, laundry rooms, and jails.

The guide briefed us about the lively history of the Chinese, bootlegging and prostitution. Finally, she took us through the Cozy Rooms where Stella Darby tried to provide a better home and future for the girls while they continued their work in the notorious brothel.

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Pendleton OR map from 1896

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About to do the Pendleton Underground Tour  /  Our guide  /  Stella Darby, the Madame of the Cozy Rooms bordello from 1928-1967

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Gambling and prostitution were common in the underground

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Laborers, mostly Chinese, slept in bunk beds  /  A picture of the bowling alley that was underground

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Pendleton is famous for its wool

Nehalem and Manzanita OR…


Transportation day was very windy. We safely made our way along the Columbia River and through the busy city of Portland.

We chose to take the Necanicum Highway to the coast. It was very bumpy, narrow, and winding. When we drove back that way later in the week, we were shocked that we’d drug our little home through there.

We were very happy to arrive at the quiet Nehalem Beach State Park. Only a dozen of the 265 sites were taken. However, that changed the next weekend.

We were welcomed at our site by two porcini shrooms hiding out under the shrubbery. We set up quickly and grabbed the mushroom baskets.

We filled a basket in the waning light of late afternoon in just a portion of the campground. Arleen rushed them home and got her dehydrator out.

The next day we went for a walk and filled another basket with fresh #1 porcini buttons.  We also saw an elk herd in the horse camping area.  We walked out for a ways on the spit but did not find any out that way.

That afternoon we headed out for an afternoon hike to the Cape Falcon overlook. We did this hike seven years ago and found about three pounds of chanterelles.

We were disappointed to see a sign that said we could not collect mushrooms in that area. Still, we had a great hike, enjoyed the wonderful views, and were mesmerized by the waves crashing against the rugged cliffs.

The next day we went to hike around Soapstone Lake in the Clatsop State Forest with mushroom baskets in hand. The hike meanders and undulates along a nice and easy trail thick with pine needles. It’s a typical northwest forest of Douglas-fir, western hemlock, western red-cedar and Sitka Spruce.

We found only eight chanterelles along the trail but we saw deer, newts, Silver salmon, and Sasquatch. The lake was small and looked to be shallow but is rumored to have cutthroat trout.

After we got back to the truck, we walked down the road a ways and poked around in the woods. It was second growth of hemlock.

This area was typical of second growth forest that is not protected by the tall mature canopy. Typical of the coastal rainforest, the understory has gotten totally out of control! It was very difficult to move through and even see the ground where the mushrooms would be.

At one point I got turned around and a little panicky because I was not sure I was headed the right direction. I had to remind myself to slow down and keep on the same heading.

Luckily I found a few pounds of choice chanterelle mushrooms! We returned to the same spot in the woods later in the week. Again, we got turned around but collected a few pounds of delicious chanterelles for soup later this winter.

On Sunday, we walked around the runway in the state park. We also went off trail on the ridge above it.  But we only found birch boletes.  It was the first night at Nehalem with an empty dehydrator.

Monday was the first of several rainy days and a perfect day to drive to the Tillamook Creamery to see their new visitor center.

We filled up on grilled cheese and tomato soup with a side of deep-fried cheese curds. Our bellies were full so we could only handle one scoop of ice cream.

We took our time on their self-guided tour to see how the cheese is made and packaged. But we were still too full for more ice cream. Always follow Heidi’s rule, “eat dessert first”!

It continued to rain heavily during the rest of the week. Arleen was optimistic that there would be a second flush of porcinis and roamed around the state park in the rain. She was disappointed to find just a few more.

Fortunately, the weather cleared up by Friday. The forecast for Veteran’s Day weekend was for unseasonably warm and sunny weather. After having the campground mostly to ourselves all week, it was shocking to see it fill up. 90% of the 265 sites were full.

It was Arleen’s birthday so we walked the beach to Manzanita, our favorite little Oregon town. This time we had dessert first! We each got a pint of ice cream and ate it out on the beach. Perfect!

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A herd of elk grazed near our campsite a few times. (That’s our rig in the background.)

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The new Tillamook Creamery visitor center  /  Enjoying some Tillamook ice cream  /  For lunch we had some tasty grilled-cheese sandwiches and fried cheese curds

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What an excellent way to utilize cow manure!  /  It was interesting watching the cheese line

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Hike route to Cape Falcon  /  “A person may not pick, cut, mutilate, or remove plants, or other natural resources.”  That means no mushroom hunting…BOOO!

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The bridge across Short Sand Creek

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Short Sand Beach

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The view from Cape Falcon is incredible

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Posing at Cape Falcon  /  A cool tree along the trail

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Hike and shroom hunting route around the state park  /  We saw this herd of elk a few times

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Boletus Edulis aka king bolete  /  We found two baskets full. We dehydrated them and they will be added to meals though the winter.

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Hike route to Soapstone Lake  /  A little bridge.  We saw a coho salmon in the small stream.

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We’re always surprised and thankful to see steps on remote trails.

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Looks pretty shroomy  /  Peak-a-boo

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Soapstone Lake  /  We found a few pounds of yummy chanterelle mushrooms.  We partially dry sauté them, and then freeze them.  They will be the main ingredient in yummy soup this winter.

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Walk route to Manzanita.  We each got a pint of ice cream and ate it on the beach. The weather was glorious and it was a very pleasant adventure.

The quaint coastal town of Manzanita and Mount Neahkahnie

McMinnville OR…


The Olde Stone Village in McMinnville was the closest RV Resort to where our friends Kay and Jim were building their new house. We were very comfortable at the Village in a double wide pull through site.

McMinnville is the county seat in Yamhill County and with a population of about 32,000, it’s the largest city in the area. It’s the anchor city to nearby Sheridan and Willamina, providing needed services and shopping.

We met Jim and Kay in Willamina where they have been renting a townhome while trying to get their home built for the last twenty months.

Willamina touts being, “Timber Town USA”. The town of just a few thousand residents was established in 1903. At one time brick making was an economic mainstay but timber has been throughout its history.

We had lunch at the fun Coyote Joe’s. We had a very lively discussion catching up on each other’s lives, but mostly talked about home building.

Finally, we went for a tour of the house in Sheridan. Jim lived there many years ago and he and Kay still have several close friends in town. It is the perfect community for them to retire to.

The town of about 6,000 is “located in the western part of the Willamette Valley. The city is at the base of the Northern Oregon Coast Range along the South Yamhill River.” It is a picturesque town with a winery around every other bend. It has a farming and timber history that dates back to when it was established in 1880.

At the house, Jim and Kay gave us the full tour. The house was in its final construction stages. It looks great and exudes the Oregon beach vibe. We had to step around workers who were busily trying to complete all the painting.

It has been a long and arduous process for them. We met their builder who shared their pain and was diligently trying to get them in their new home for Christmas. He was struggling to find subcontractors to complete the remaining items.

As I type this, Jim and Kay just received their “Certificate to Occupy”. We are so excited for them!

We were going to tour the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum the next day. Popular exhibits include the Hughes Spruce Goose, World War II Aircraft area, a Titan II Missile, and a SR-71 Blackbird.

The museum is right next to the Olde Stone Village and they have a trail that cuts over to it. But I felt like crap. So instead Jim and Kay came over to visit.

We spent the whole afternoon talking houses. Arleen showed Kay our plans and they spent a lot of time discussing things like paint colors.

We look forward to their Christmas card with a picture of them in their new home!

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Good friends, Kay and Jim, are about to move into a newly built home after many delays


We have returned to Sequim WA and John Wayne’s Waterfront Resort for the winter season.

Since Nehalem I had been feeling mostly like poop. My resting heart rate was going up and I had all of the physical symptoms of sky high anxiety. I was concerned that my Graves Disease was active again.

We contacted my doctor who told me to do lab work as soon as possible. The day after we arrived in Sequim, I did as told and got the results by the end of the day. Yep, my thyroid stimulating hormone was at zero while my other hormone levels were five to six times normal.

I am thankful to be in Sequim and very comfortable at John Wayne’s Waterfront Resort.  It’s a good place for me to take it easy for awhile, and I am optimistic that I’ll be back to normal before we leave!

Parting shots…

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A banana slug on the Cape Falcon trail  /  We saw lots of newts along the Soapstone Lake trail