On the Road Again!

It’s that time of the year again. Now that the leaves have fallen (at least in the Northwest!) and the bellies are full from Thanksgiving feasts, Duwayne and Darla Jean have started their seasonal journey south. With all systems appearing to be functional and food, books and drums safely stowed away, the Gumbos hopped on to I-5 and pointed the Dude toward Sacramento.

To break up the 750 mile trip into comfortable hops, the Gumbos stopped in Eugene, Oregon on their first night. They stayed at the same place they did last year: Valley River Center (a shopping center parking lot along the Willamette River). Although this doesn’t sound like a very attractive camping site, its actually quite nice – a level parking lot next to a walking path along the river, with good security and a location well away from the stores and traffic.

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After getting a good night’s sleep, Duwayne and Darla Jean got back on the highway and made their next jump to Corning, California. The drive on I-5 through the Siskiyous, was quite spectacular. The Gumbos hoped to get through this area before the expected snow showed up and they just made it!

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Mount Shasta

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Black Butte

Last year, the Gumbos parked at a casino in Corning but this year they decided to try the free overnight parking offered by The Olive Pit – a combination restaurant and store (selling every possible variety of olives). It turned out to be an okay place with large, level pull-through RV sites. And, while the camping was free, the Gumbos managed to spend a fair amount of money on olives.

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The final stop on this leg of the trip was Uncle Bob & Linal’s house in Sacramento. These fine folk have set up their yard to be a perfect spot for parking a 5th wheel. They have a huge paved driveway and a backyard large enough to pull in and turn the rig around before positioning in the driveway. What’s more, they have power, water AND a sewage dump facility.

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Unlike the Northwest, the leaves in Sacramento were just starting to fall, making dog walks very enjoyable.

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Can you spot Gumbo and the Dude through the trees?

Of course, any trip to Sacramento means a chance to catch up with friends. Good buddies, the Hortons, offered to host a party where a bunch of old friends could get together. What a friggin’ feast!

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Another bonus when visiting Sacramento is the ability to take care of projects. And THIS year, the Gumbos took advantage of Uncle Bob’s workshop “Lazy i Builds” (check out his website  https://lazyibuilds.com/) to build a laundry-drying rack.

The finished product.

Darla Jean also made good use of Linal’s amazing kitchen and sewing machine.

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With all projects done, friends and family visited with and 2 more Seahawks games under their belts, its time for the Gumbos to head further south. The next jump will be down Highway 99 toward Bakersfield and Barstow.

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Two Late Season Trips

The Gumbos took advantage of some nice mid-September and mid-October weather to take a few short trips with RV-ing friends. Even though the weather was forecast to be rainy, the happy campers enjoyed mostly dry and sunny days on both trips.

The first trip had Duwayne and Darla Jean meeting up with a whole BUNCH of their good buddies. Of course, Beau, Blanche and Yella Dog joined the Gumbos on a trip to Belfair State Park on the Hood Canal. Also attending were good friends The Totos (with Wally and Tyler) and fellow snow-birders from last season Ned, Carla Jean (Darla’s long-lost twin sister) and Max.

Belfair State Park is a beautiful campsite right on the shores of the Hood Canal, just 50 minutes from the Gumbo’s home base. It features relatively easy pull-through sites, nice hiking trails and a nice view of the water and resident wildlife.

Days were mostly spent hiking and gabbing (of course the ladies managed to sneak in a thrift store tour of Belfair) and evenings were spent eating amazing dinners cooked by a different RV-er each day.

And finally, Doug (from Toto) managed to take a nice group photo!

Next, the Gumbos met up with Beau and Blanche at Grayland Beach State Park near Westport, Washington. The Gumbos last visited this area when they were sailing their boat Gumbo Ya-Ya up the coast from San Francisco in 1988. At that time, after a long couple days motoring in fog, they pulled into the harbor at Westport to get some more fuel and a good night’s sleep. Because the Gumbos pulled out of the harbor at dawn’s first light, in fog, they never got a good view of the town of Westport.

This time, Duwayne and Darla Jean were visiting in their LAND yacht and it was bright and clear. Grayland Beach State Park is an absolutely wonderful spot for camping in an RV.

Blanche had managed to secure a couple of really nice campsites and, while they had no hook-ups, they were inexpensive and REALLY close to the beach. Right next to the campsite was an easy trail leading to nice, firm sand – ideal for walking and dog-running.

The Gumbos spent a lot of time on the beach, but also took a couple drives into Westport. It was interesting to check out the harbor that was never really seen during the 1988 visit.

Westport has a nice viewing platform which gave a good glimpse of the harbor and the town.

The marina area of Westport, viewed from the platform.

And a view of the harbor.

Lotsa time was spent walking around the park, relaxing around campfires and eating good food.

Amanita muscaria shrooms, spotted near our campsite. Don’t eat these babies!

Precious – doing what she does best.

Beau – modeling the latest in RV attire.

 

Unusual-looking plants on the way to the beach.

All-in-all, the Gumbos had a great time visiting Grayland Beach and hope to return next year (maybe with Suquamish Bischoffs and grandsons).

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A trip to the coast with Dodie and Donno.

The Gumbos love them some beach! And, coincidentally, they also love them some grandsons. So they decided to combine the two and take Dodie (Calder) and Donno (Garner) to La Push for 3 days. This was in the midst of a major heat wave in the Seattle area and it seemed like a good time to hit the cooler coastal area. Duwayne and Darla Jean loaded up the Dude, picked up the boys and then drove to CampDuncdium to pick up Gumbo (whose roof had just been re-sealed). The drive past Lake Crescent was slow due to construction and the temps were in the high 80’s, but, when the Gumbos arrived at La Push, they were greeted with fog and 65 degree weather.

After setting up the campsite and greeting their buds Beau and Blanche, Duwayne, Darla Jean, Precious, Dodie and Donno hit the beach. Apparently, jumping off logs is this year’s big deal!

  

And so is sitting on logs and contemplating the spin of the earth and the nature of wind and waves.

Climbing on logs was fun for everyone!

Other activities that were enjoyed included beach walks, a hike down to Second Beach, some kite-flying and, of course a beach camp fire.

It was at one of these camp fires that Precious and Yella Dog decided to share the same bed. (We’re not sure how enthusiastic Yella Dog was about this!)

It was also discovered during this trip that Darla Jean and Blanche had matching socks!

All in all, a good time was had by all and the hope is to do another trip with Dodie and Donno in the near future.

  

 

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A Working Trip to CampDuncdium.

The Gumbo’s almost 20 year-old 5th wheel has an apparently almost 20 year-old roof. This roof is a rubber substance that is applied over a plywood substrate. After all those years, this material became mildewed, scratched and repaired with sealant in many places. It was time to do something about it!

Check out the stains and overall ugliness!

Duwayne and Darla Jean decided to re-coat the roof with a “miracle” 2-part rubber coating. Unfortunately, the application of this coating required a relatively clean environment for the duration of the curing time (approximately 3 days). Gumbo’s normal parking space is located under a canopy of large cedar trees which constantly drop needles, branches, etc.

Luckily the Gumbo’s good friends Beau and Blanche had just opened a new RV and dog park called CampDuncdium and this park was located in a large tree-free area (allowing lotsa sun to help the new coating dry). And even more luckily, there was a stretch of weather coming up that was going to be dry with temps in the 80’s. Woo Hoo, time to visit CampDuncdium.

The entrance to CampDuncdium.

Here’s a short review of CampDuncdium RV and Dog Park:

This is a beautiful park located along side Discovery Bay (between Sequim and Port Townsend, WA). There is plenty of room to park a 32′ fifth wheel (as long as you don’t run into one of the gate posts when entering, ahem!). While there is no electricity (generator use is allowed), there IS water and sewage hook-up. This is a dog-friendly park and the grounds are well-fenced to keep fido contained.

While there are a few minor dings (the site COULD be a bit more level and large, off-leash dogs are liable to run around your rig, causing little Shih Tzu’s to bark constantly), there are a couple BIG positives: the staff are incredibly friendly and – a first in any park the Gumbos have stayed at – there is free gin and tonics located at each site!

The first day of the Gumbo’s visit to CampDuncdium was spent prepping the roof for the coating. This meant taping off all areas that might be accidently coated with the rubber sealant. The next day, primer was applied to all areas that would be coated but weren’t rubber (meaning metal fittings and old caulking). Finally, on the 3rd day, Duwayne and Beau spent about 4 hours brushing, squeegeeing and rolling the new coating on.

The new roof!

Just like the literature said, once this coating “kicked”, all brush and roller strokes disappeared and the new coating looked beautiful. No more worries about leaks!

Of course, a celebratory drink in the campsite was required.

The following day, Duwayne, Darla Jean and Precious drove home, leaving Gumbo to cure in the sun for about a week before they were due to return, hitch up and head to La Push with the grandkids. The Gumbos look forward to returning to CampDuncdium in the future!

The park staff introduced the Gumbos to a new drink!

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Three Days on the Oregon Coast

Darla Jean and Duwayne took a short break from their RV repair/upgrade projects to visit Fort Stevens, just South of Astoria, Oregon. The Gumbos don’t usually stay in paid campsites (we’re too damn cheap!) but this one seemed like it might be worth the expense.

Located on the southern edge of the entrance to the Columbia River, this RV campsite is positioned in an absolutely beautiful area of the Pacific Northwest. And the drive from Poulsbo to the campsite was stunning.

The Gumbos were met, once again, by their good friends Beau, Blanche and Yella Dog in their 19′ Escape. Duwayne and Darla Jean had secured an easy pull-thru site and, because school was still in session, the campsite was very quiet. The days were, for the most part, dry and relatively warm so campfires were accomplished each night.

There were numerous cool things to do in the area. First and foremost, was beach access. There were multiple places to walk or drive on the beach and the Gumbos took advantage of that.

The Gumbos were excited to try out their new forward-mounted bike rack and it worked perfectly! An added bonus was the fact that Fort Stevens offers numerous absolutely beautiful bike paths. Beau borrowed Darla Jean’s bike and rode with Duwayne out to the gun emplacements overlooking the Columbia.

And this being late spring, the flora and fauna were stunning!

Darla Jean, Duwayne and Precious also took a walk along the river to watch cargo ships entering from the ocean.

All in all, a GREAT trip. The Gumbos look forward to their next trip to the beach in mid-July.

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Repairs and Upgrades

After spending the winter bouncing down bumpy back roads, the Gumbos needed to spend some time (and money) repairing the damage they did to The Dude and Gumbo. So, the month of April was spent fixing stuff and upgrading items that didn’t work as well as originally planned.

First on the list was replacing the damaged front spoiler on The Dude. This piece of plastic was pretty well destroyed when Duwayne ran over the wooden post (also damaging the steering gear). Not only was the spoiler damaged by the post but, in order to get at the steering gear, Duwayne and Beau had to rip the spoiler off, making it impossible to re-attach. You’d think that this part would be expensive but Duwayne was able to find a new one on eBay for $44 (no tax and free shipping!). After the part arrived, it took about an hour to get it installed. The Dude is happy!

The new spoiler.

The spoiler installed (its the black thing below the license plate).

Next on the list was the propane regulator. The Gumbos had problems with this during the latter part of their winter trip. Sometimes there wasn’t enough propane pressure to run the heater (and when the temps were in the 20’s, this was a serious problem!). And the automatic change-over from one propane tank to another didn’t seem to work. So, this meant ordering a new unit.

The old faulty regulator.

The new unit – installed.

Then there was the faulty fresh water inlet. RVs have the option of pumping fresh water from the onboard water tank or, when parked in a site with fresh water available, hooking a hose up directly from the spigot to the RV’s water system. This second option didn’t work on Gumbo because the built-in check valve (that prevents water from coming out the inlet when using the onboard pump) leaked and couldn’t be replaced without replacing the entire water inlet. So, a new part was ordered and installed.

Where the old inlet was.

The old inlet on top, the new one on the bottom.

The new inlet – installed.

Next on the list was the ladder on the rear of the rig. One of the upright posts was bent when Duwayne managed to catch the seat of his bike (which was hanging on the ladder) on a road sign. It turns out that mounting the bikes on the ladder was a dumb idea – bouncing down rugged roads and going over unannounced speed bumps in Mexico caused the bikes to loosen the ladder fittings.

2 bikes mounted on the ladder.

Duwayne had planned on ordering a replacement section of tubing to repair the ladder but, when he climbed up the ladder to inspect the area, the entire bottom rung of the ladder broke off!

Notice the broken bottom rung of the ladder.

This meant that the ladder could no longer be repaired – it needed to be replaced. Unfortunately, Gumbo is an 18 year-old fifth wheel and the custom ladder (that has the unique bends that you see midway up the ladder) is no longer available. And having a custom one fabricated was not in the budget. So, Duwayne ordered a ladder that could be retro-fitted to any RV (or so the literature stated). This ladder has a hinge at the midpoint, allowing the ladder to fit RVs that have unique shapes.

The new ladder, installed.

Obviously, the Gumbos were NOT going to hang their bikes on THIS ladder! This meant figuring out a new way of carrying the bikes. Usually, you can attach a bike rack to the rear bumper or frame of the fifth wheel. Unfortunately, Gumbo HAS no rear bumper and the frame was not set up well for welding on a fitting for a bike rack.

So, Duwayne ordered a new bike rack and hitch receiver and then had the receiver modified (welded) to allow it to support the bike rack at a height that would clear the sides of the truck. He then attached the whole enchilada on the FRONT of the fifth wheel.

The new bike rack in folded-up mode.

The new bike rack – fully deployed.

This bike rack holds 2 bikes in a very secure fashion and it is BEEFY! Bumpy Mexican roads – the Gumbos are ready for you!

 

 

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The Gumbos are Home!!

After a relatively leisurely 5 hour trip (if you don’t count the CRAZY traffic around Portland, OR), the Gumbos arrived back at their summer home in Poulsbo, exactly 137 days after they left.

During that time Duwayne, Darla Jean and Princess traveled through 5 states (Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona) and 1 foreign country (Mexico). They stayed at 32 different campsites – only 9 of which had a fee (and of those 9, only 2 cost more than $20/night). If Duwayne had remembered to check the odometer before leaving, he’d be able to tell you how many miles they traveled but it HAD to have been over 3000 miles.

Highlights of the trip were:

Spending Thanksgiving with the Brownings in Sacramento, visiting with the Zittels in Joshua Tree, boondocking in the Quartzsite area, camping along the Salton Sea, spending a month in San Carlos, Mexico, spending a week attending Spring Training with our grandson in the Phoenix area and camping in some some beautiful campsites with the Duncans on our way home.

You may notice in the photo above how well Gumbo is positioned in the Poulsbo driveway. Duwayne and Darla Jean thought that, after their relatively easy positioning of the 5th wheel the last time they returned from a trip, and after 4 months of maneuvering the rig, that this time would be a cinch. WRONG!!

For some reason, Duwayne couldn’t manage to properly back the rig into position. It didn’t help that the batteries in our walkie talkies died (which meant that there was plenty of Darla Jean arm-waving and yelling to make Duwayne understand how bad he was screwing up. At one point, he managed to get the truck and 5th wheel into a spot where he couldn’t move forward or backward! Somehow, after about an hour of screwing around, the rig was parked.

After a few gin and tonics, Duwayne walked around the driveway and tried to figure out what went wrong and how he could prevent this from happening again. What he finally realized was that the woodshed on one side of the driveway was preventing the truck from pulling forward far enough to change angles when backing. Since the Gumbos don’t plan on being in Poulsbo during the cold winter months (meaning there isn’t a HUGE demand for firewood), he decided to tear down the shed! What he didn’t remember was how WELL he had originally built this thing!

The shed was originally just to the right of the debris pile.

Next on the agenda is a trip to the dump and to the gravel dealer to get a yard of 3/4 minus gravel to finish grading the area where the shed previously existed. This should allow a MUCH bigger turning radius for future back-ins. Duwayne will let you know how this works out.

This brings to a close this season’s blog. There may be a few postings during the summer as the Gumbos take some short trips to nearby coastal campsites, but the constantly updated blog will start again late this November.

Thanks for viewing!!

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