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Archive for the ‘Northwest’ Category


Why would one visit an area infested with so many mosquitos that the town holds an annual Mosquito Festival?

Because heading south, Paisley—a modest oasis of civilization in the Oregon Outback—is on the way to California liquor stores in Alturas, and beyond that, Reno. And beyond that, during that magical time of year, Burning Man.

It’s basically an agreeable bend in Highway 31; a nice quiet place with wide streets to pull your Airstream over and use the public restroom.

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world’s largest

Spend any time at all on the American highway and you’ll see one: the world’s largest [fill in the blank].

The Frazee, Minnesota turkey. The Vergas, Minnesota loon. (Giant fowl are popular in MInnesota). The Medicine Hat Teepee in Alberta, Canada. The list is endless; their aficionados, legion.

If you have a very long Airstream you’ll have trouble turning it around—especially if other gawkers pull in behind you—at the site of Salem Sue, the World’s Largest Holstein Cow, who makes her home at the top of a steep hill in North Dakota.

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diamond lake

Diamond Lake—Crater Lake’s redheaded stepsister—is a campin’ bikin’ fishin’ kayakin’ boatin’ (mostly fishin’) fun center right on Hwy 138, only a hundred miles from our backyard in Bend.

Patty and her husband, relative newcomers to the state, heard good things and booked us a week on the lakefront during Central Oregon’s annual peaceful, halcyon days: after the kids return to school, before the first frost.

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alumafandango 2013

R&B Events really knows how to throw an Airstream rally. Or educational seminar. Or festival. Or whatever that nonstop party was last week at Seven Feathers RV resort/casino/convention center in Canyonville, Oregon.

To expedite this post, please imagine I’m writing the the usual glowing review (food/excellent, entertainment/fabulous, activities/fun, etc. Insert your own superlatives). Dare I say that my Great Destinations seminar and Airstream Cookie Decorating workshop were highlights?

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t@b shakedown at paulina lake

I accompanied BFF Patty on the shakedown cruise of her cuddly new T@B trailer at Paulina Lake, an easy 35-mile drive from our homes in SE Bend.

Not quite an Airstream (but not a white box nor hillbilly tent trailer either), the new T@Bs look to me like a next-best alternative for those, like Patty, with a Subaru Outback and a spouse on a budget who’s suspicious of used Type B motorhome engines. (If pressed, Patty will tell you that if she won the lottery, her preference would be to forego towing forever and purchase the Interstate.)

In the meantime, the T@B is an enormous step up from sleeping in a tent.

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oregon wbcci airstreamers in 1859 magazine

Early this spring I reached out to 1859 (the magazine named for the year Oregon became a state) and pitched the WBCCI Oregon Unit as the subject for an article.

“In an intelligent and beautiful format, 1859 explores the landscapes, the personalities, the movers and shakers, the history and the architecture that is the jewel of the Pacific Northwest,” states their website. We were thrilled (I think, mostly) to learn that the Oregon Wally Club would be featured in the July/August 2013 issue.

A real live professional photographer was assigned to attend our rally…

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battle ground lake state park

Every site was spoken for on the sweltering weekend we overnighted at Battle Ground Lake State Park; advance reservations were required to secure one of the cheek-to-jowl spaces.

The grounds are shady in July, but many cons outweigh this pro: the cool canopy of towering trees also blocks X-M Radio reception and prevents solar panels from charging. One dirty, coin-operated shower stall serves forty sweaty campers.

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trout lake, washington

Ahhh. An unplugged weekend in the Washington drizzle. An itty bitty town. A laid-back, rural campground deep in huckleberry country. Uncoiling with friendly Airstream folk and some fine musicians.

On the first day, the clouds parted to reveal a gobsmacking, up close & personal view of Mt. Adams.

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timberlake campground—saint patrick’s airstream rally

After five years of ‘streaming with the DWR we traveled again to Timberlake Campground (aka “Leroy’s Place”) in the green Gorge. The reason: party with the local Wally Club at the first rally of the Oregon Airstream season.

It was dark, dank, and bitter cold. Driving up to I-84 from Bend we could see the spring cloud pattern laid out before us like a weatherman’s graphic: blue on the right, socked in on the left.

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chicken fried steak

How do you tell the quality of a diner? By its chicken fried steak, of course.

Maybe it was just the mid 80’s, when everything was better, but the finest I ever tasted was at Boz Scaggs’ Blue Light Cafe on Union Street in San Francisco. I’ve been chasing that high for three decades. (The Blue Light today, minimized and lost to new management, serves greasy, monotonous bar food paired with Jello shots.)

The award for Second Best Chicken Fried Steak went to a diner outside Grand Coulee Dam. Actual steak, with a bone, real and delicious. The coating, crispycrunchy. The gravy, oh god, the gravy: not too salty, and lumpy with pork sausage.

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