Wednesday, February 13, 2008

We're Going to Oregon

        We're going to spend May and June volunteering at Gnat Creek Fish Hatchery near Astoria, Oregon.  We are really excited about this assignment.  We have spent very little time in Oregon in the past and the area around Astoria, as well as the rest of western Oregon, looks like it will be very interesting to explore.  The hatchery sounds like a volunteer site we will enjoy.  The work is mostly outdoors and the 20 hours a week are flexible.  We really enjoy this kind of physical labor and the opportunity to work independently.  We have talked to two people there—Roger, the hatchery manager, and Pam, the volunteer coordinator.  Both sound nice and easy to work with.


        The biggest adjustment will probably be going from the semi-arid, high-altitude environment of the eastern Colorado foothills to the rainforest environment of the west coast of Oregon.  Pam said, "It rains a lot here."  We will need to find rain boots and I will need a jogging suit that repels rain.  We have heavy yellow two-piece rain suits, but we certainly don't want to run in them. 


        I do look forward to running at sea level.  And we read this weekend that Portland, OR, is one of the fittest cities in the US.  The tourist opportunities along the Oregon coast, at the mouth of the Columbia River, and in the Willamette Valley look so interesting.  We wonder how we will see everything.  Three years ago we visited a Lewis and Clark museum in Great Falls, Montana, on our way to Alaska.  This year we will explore Fort Clatsop, where Lewis and Clark wintered after following the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean.  Our travels give us such opportunities to learn more about our nation's history.   

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Where Will We Go?

        We're really anxious to be on the road again.  When we are here at the stick house, we really enjoy spending quality time with our son and his wife and our two grandchildren.  And we visit with friends.  Plus, it is good to do our workout at the gym, rather than always using free weights in the RV.  But beyond that, it is all work.  This year we have spent lots of time trying to pare down what we own.  And there is always work to do on the house, which accumulates over the months we are gone.  Then we spend a lot of time on annual doctor's appointments, lab tests, and dentist visits.


So we are ready to be on the road and have more fun.  But we have a big problem.  We don't know where we are going!  For three or four months, we had planned to head back to Alaska this summer.  Then the stock market and the economy tanked.  It really doesn't look like a good time to be taking funds out of our investments to pay for the diesel fuel to drive there or the Alaska Marine Ferry to return to the States. 


        So we decided to find one or two places to volunteer this summer, allowing us to travel without spending much money.  Last summer we were out eight months.  We spent three and one-half months volunteering.  In addition, we spent lots of time in Corps of Engineer and National Forest campgrounds, as well as Colorado State Parks.  In all of these places we use our senior passes and don't have to spend much.  So, by the end of the time out, we averaged only $9 a night for RV sites.  That is really the way to go.


Since we only started in January to look for places to volunteer, we haven't had time to nail anything down.  We have applied for spots in a Washington US fish hatchery and in two Oregon state fish hatcheries.  Now we are looking at Oregon state parks. 


        We plan to go on the road about the first of April.  However, until we know if we have a volunteer spot starting in May or in June (or none at all), we can't plan our itinerary.  We would like to go down to Arizona, west to California, then up the coast.  If we have to be in Oregon by May first, that will have to change. 


        I guess this is a work in progress.  I'd like to have everything firmed up.  Since we've only been working on this for two or three weeks, I guess it is too soon for that.