Thursday, September 30, 2010

Small Towns

Well, we have a little change of plans today.  Last night we had planned to go through McNary dam today and make our way to Walla Walla Washington and stay there two nights.  Luckily, before we left, we determined that there WAS no place to stay in Walla Walla.  And if we needed to get all the way to Kennewick, we would need alot more time than we had allowed for today.  SO, we are laying over in Umatilla, waiting to see if we can rent a van to carry the six of us on a winery tour.  But the only van available is being used by a woman whose car is in the shop, so I guess it's not available, and it is now nearly 4:00.  If that's not going to work, tomorrow we will get two cars, which is only $12 more, and do our tour.

Early to rise on Saturday!

So I washed and hung a load of laundry, got another ready to go, washed dishes, and the windows, and did a spider web sweep.

Oh, and with all the cloudless days we have been experiencing (5th today), how do you like the shade curtain I improvised?  Al is not crazy about the c-clamp on the wood, but I told him I was gentle.  And he has acknowledged that it has made a BIG difference in the comfort of the main cabin!

Then the six of us headed in to town.  Don't you love small towns?  Umatilla is a big bigger than Arlington, but downtown is still only 3-4 blocks long.  A visit to the carneceria inspired us to have enchiladas and guacemole for dinner tonight.  There was a Dairy Freeze where we stopped to enjoy the air conditioning and burgers and fries.  We spent some time in the library.  We saw a laundromat and a bank, and a Napa Auto Parts.  And I was amused by this sign at the video store:

Last night when Walt and Marti returned from their walk they were picking stickers off their socks and shoe laces.  She called them 'bull horns'.  I am a Midwest farmer's daughter who grew up with burdock and cockle burrs, so I was curious.  On our way back to the boat I looked in the area Marti pointed out to see if I could find a sample.  And I could find no plant that looked like it bore any type of sticker or burr.    But as I approached the boat ramp, I could feel something needling me through my flip flops, and sure enough, I had a HUGE sample!  Thank you Al for using the needle nose pliers to save my flip flops, maybe.

Doesn't he look like a mean old bull!?  And this one is still pretty green.  They are really hard and poky when they turn brown.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On to Umatilla

Well, our anchorage was pretty bumpy last evening, so no group dinner.   And OUR chicken was still partially frozen, so we broke out the Hamburger Helper.  I had bought a pound of hamburger yesterday at the Arlington grocery store, where it was ground on site.  It was fabulous and only $2.99 a pound--cheaper than Winco!

The wind died down and the waters were completely flat by 10 PM.  We enjoyed watching the localfrom Tri Cities, CBS news with Katie  Couric, and one of my favorite shows, NCIS.

There was a train track at shore, but we were far enough away that it was only a rumble, with NO whistle-blowing going on.  You'd think that we would have slept in with conditions like that, but I was up before the sun.  While enjoying breakfast and a Facebook hit, I could have sworn I saw a sea monster!  We often see and hear fish jump, but whatever this was rose silently and vertically, nearly a foot out of the water, and sank back down, like a whale doing a spy hop.  It was quite bull-nosed, not pointy like a sturgeon.  I saw no fins.  Al wondered if it was a fresh-water eel.  It's a mystery.  

I also observed a couple of cute diving birds around the boat this morning.

Al had a short work call and then we were underway by 11 AM.  And the water is quite glassy!  Al thought I should take a picture, but I said it would be boring.....what do you think?

We stuck our nose into the Boardman marina.  Some charts and guide books warn of the shallow water, but we contacted the harbormaster who told us it had been dredged to 12 feet.  We found the entrance narrow, which could be difficult to transit in rough weather, but 10 feet depth at the entrance and 14 within.  Perhaps we will stop here on the way back down.

Narrow entrance!  Swim beach straight ahead

Turn left, and there is the marina

Special hello to Dave and Patti Rose, who inform me they are checking our blog every day!
On the news we heard it got to 88 degrees in Tri Cities yesterday, with humidity at 52%.  Forecast is a 'bit cooler' today (still mid 80's) and calm winds.  We can SEE the humidity this morning with haze on the horizon all the way around.  Though unless clouds come up, it will be our fourth cloudless day!
On the way we saw a flock of pelicans resting on a sand bar.  Thanks for the marker, guys!

The Umatilla marina is large and has numerous slips available.  It is $20/night to stay at the transient dock, with power and water, or $40/ week.  It is next to a very busy freeway bridge over the river, so it reminds me a bit of Riverplace, noisewise anyway.  I don't believe there is a cute coffee shop anywhere nearby, hmph.

Just upriver is the McNary Dam, the last we will be transitting on the Columbia River.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Moving On

Sorry.  No visuals today, since yesterday's post has scared me off photo uploads for a time, AND there hasn't been much of interest to see on today's leg.  The hills have flattened and are MUCH less dramatic.  Earlier today I commented......I miss trees!  There seems to be just an occasional shrub here and there.

Brigadoon DOES have their sails up again today, but you have seen a picture of that already too.  Walt and Marti worked very hard yesterday to get their raw water pump working again (this cools the engine--very important function).  However, the belt is slipping on their alternator now, which does not allow their batteries to charge properly while underway (as I understand the problem).  We and Maxine have portable generators along on the trip, though, so this problem should be managable, allowing all to continue with the trip.

We are travelling 4.9-5.2 knots over ground, rather slower than Viking Star would travel on it's own, but a good pace for a sailboat.  We are holding at 1000 rpm, and our normal cruising speed is 13-1400 rpm.  Al has made some adjustments to our own alternator to more closely align our charging and discharge rates.  We won't be able to recharge our batteries completely on today's journey, so I will postpone doing a load of laundry until tomorrow.

There is MAYBE two-foot swells, with following seas and winds, so it is really quite a comfortable ride.  We have learned to manage the 'stationwagon effect' of exhaust coming into the cabin, causing some slight headache and nausea on my part, by basically closing the rear windows and the windward side door.  Unfortunately, this greatly decreases the flow of FRESH air also, so that the sheet I have stretched and fastened with clothespins and a c-clamp is very important to shade the cabin from the sun shining in from a cloudless sky.

Al has been working hard today.  He had one phone call from the dock this morning, and two while on the river.  He called yesterday 'Money Monday', but I think he has more time in today!  We have set the autopilot and with two sets of eyes to check our progress, we are doing just fine.

Our destination today is to anchor out on the leeward side of Crow Butte, another island in the Columbia River.  The idea was to raft together and have a community chicken barbeque dinner.  We will see how the others feel.  It is pretty rough, and our chicken is still partially frozen.

Monday, September 27, 2010

More Arlington

Last night's sunset photo was just the beginning of the show!  It continued on for nearly an hour, with many ooooohs and aaaaahs from all of us.  Here is more for you:


The sunset cast a glow onto the hill to the east of us, A is for Arlington.

Walt and Marti were off first thing this morning.  I don't know how or where, but they got something welded, and have returned to the boat where Walt will attempt to drill the pulley.  Pray that all goes well.

After Al fed himself, Rob, Becky and me breakfast burritos, we all walked to 'downtown' Arlington.  A quick tour is REALLY quick, and revealed a hotel/restaurant/ lounge, a hardware/liquor store, a grocery store, and pizza place, and a service station.  We asked the grocery clerk and she confirmed that that is pretty much IT, the rest of the town being residential, with a school on the hill.

Oh yeah, THIS is where you get up close and personal to the train traffic!  The track runs right along the marina with a crossing at the entrance, so the whistle gets blown a few times before the train actually thunders by.  Al and I counted at least 5 trains through the night.  This morning we heard that that 'wasn't very many'!

Rob said 'Life must be good in Arlington---all the gulls are sleeping!'  Nah, I think they were disturbed by the trains too.

Roosevelt WA is across the river from Arlington OR

The grain elevator is a landmark on the river.

Here we all are at the 'transient' dock (no power), for free!  There are slips with power, for $10 a night, and water is available.  We paid $15 a night at Hood River, power included, and $10 at The Dalles, no power.

Well, the internet connection today has been very, very, VERY slow!  It has taken me almost 4 hours to upload these photos and post to the blog!  Don't know what the difference has been, other than it is a regular work day, for most people, and perhaps I've had to share more than I did even last night....

Sunday, September 26, 2010

To Arlington

Arlington.  That's the name of a song by Trace Adkins.  It's really good--if you don't know it, go look it up.

Al and I were both wakeful from 3:30 until 5 this morning, so we were both sleeping soundly when Al's phone rang at 8AM.  It was our buddy boats calling to say they were ready to go!  We had made the assumption that we would be staying at anchor at Miller Island for TWO nights, so it was a surprise to us!  But we got up and were ready to go quite quickly.

Boy, I used the word 'ominous' to describe The Dalles lock, but I don't know a better word for John Day.  Approaching the lock, it looks like a dark tunnel, and the gate is a guillotine, dripping as we pass below.  (It almost reminded me of some of those Disneyland rides!)

Inside, though, you can see that it is open to the sky.  The gate is ready to drop.....

Here is the wall opposite Viking Star--you can see our rail at the bottom of the picture, and the bollard at the bottom of the left track.  We throw two lines over a bollard, one from the bow, one from the stern, and it floats up along with us.  This is one of three of the highest single-lift locks in the Western world, and we will hit all three on this cruise.  We measured these panels--each one is 5 feet, and I count 19 dark ones, and there is at least one below that you can't see.  This lock raises us 113 feet!

This view is also to the back of us.  See how sunny it is at the top?!

Note the gate at the front---it is will soon be dropping out of sight.......

There it goes!!!!

The way from the Dalles Dam to Arlington is not particularly visually stimulating, so Brigadoon decided to create some excitement.  They put up their sails!  However, in this picture, Marti is at the helm while  Walt is tearing apart their raw water pump.  A pully has worn.  They will have to sail the whole way to Arlington!

Luckily, the wind came up, as OFTEN happens on the Columbia (see the bigger waves), and they were able to average 5 knots, reaching 7 at one time.  Al took this photo.  He says 'How could it be a better day?  Sails up AND a train!'

We all made it into the marina here in Arlington.  Dinner is being prepared.  The part store will be contacted first thing tomorrow morning, and everyone has some project or other planned.  The wind has died down and the sun is setting on another beautiful day!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Dalles Dam to Miller Island

After coffee on the dock and eating our breakfast bits, we noticed the 'patio' was being towed away.  This was a floating dock that was in the slip next to Maxine, and where we gathered with our chairs and dinner last night.  It was dubbed 'Margaritaville'.

We listened to Channel 14 to hear the traffic going through the locks.  Scrimshaw was making it's way down.  This was a boat the Tollycrafters told us had just departed for Lewiston when we were at Beacon Rock.  I didn't hear, but if they got all the way to Lewiston, it was one FAST trip, to meet them coming down a week later!

So here we go merrily marching into the lock.  We secure our lines, and I snap a few pictures.  Then the huge doors begin to close, with a big, deep, ominous 'boom' at the end.

Yikes.  If I hadn't done this already elsewhere, I might be a little nervous.  We think this lock fills differently from the others we have been in because of the definite current from starboard toward the wall, pushing us firmly onto the wall and squishing and scuffing our fenders.

Al, tending lines

There was a minor incident when Al was using a boat hook to push us off the wall, and he somehow dropped it.  Luckily, they float, and he was able to use our other hook to retrieve it.  Yay!

I was afraid that by leaving The Dalles we would be leaving the beautiful part of our trip behind.  But I was wrong!  Coming out of the lock, I was struck by the beauty of the day!

Bright sunshine, glassy water prettily disturbed by Brigadoon, and --surprise!-- Mt. Hood!  I had forgotten he was behind us!

The tall green walls of the Gorge have now given way to stark brown-yellow-sage colored hills and jagged rocks.

Here's a cool picture of a train--he blew his horn for us!

A very light breeze ruffles our cruise pennant.

Brigadoon rounds the northeast portion of Miller Island, which is much bigger than I had envisioned, even after looking at the chart.  And it is very rocky also.  From our anchorage, I can only see two small trees, near the waters edge.

To the north and east of us, we see a wind farm.  Windmills turning slowly and gracefully along the ridge, nearly as far as we can see!

Pretty Morning in The Dalles

Morning coffee ON the dock

Max is pouting because he is confined to his boat

Three in a row

PeeDee hasn't been feeling well.  It is good to see her up today!

Love the reflections!

The view towards the dam

EVERYONE is soaking up the sun this morning!

Just got the word.  We will be calling the dam at 11:00.  So half an hour to finish my bagel and do a quick Facebook check!