But first the bad news…
The day started out well with a good breakfast made from leftover pilaf and scrambled eggs, put together like fried rice. We began getting things unhooked and stowed. First though, I needed to put together the fittings to a new 10’ sewer hose. The hose was just barely long enough to reach the sewer pipe and I asked Liz to hold the hose down so it didn’t pop out of the hole. I attached it to the black tank outlet and opened the tank. Oo-o-o-ze. That’s all. No flow, just slow-moving waste. I decided that it was so slow moving because the tank wasn’t full, so it had no pressure to push it out. So I asked Liz to put water into the tank using the valve on the toilet. To make it easy on herself, she sat down on the toilet and pulled the lever. Soon, water began to flow onto the floor, and I thought – oh, no! Did something happen to the valve? No – it was operator error. She hadn’t pulled it enough for the water to go into the tank. Instead it was going just into the toilet and it had reached the top of the bowl and overflowed. So together we watched the water fill the tank. When it was full, I went out to open the valve to empty the tank.
Yes, there was enough water pressure, but it was still slow moving. Before leaving Tucson I had emptied the tank and put a strong chemical in the toilet to clean out some of the residue that had accumulated over the last four years. With only a little water initially to start the process, it had apparently done its job well, so there was a lot of sludge to move out. The water drained slowly so I rocked the trailer a little to see if anything would dislodge – no. Liz thought that if we shake the hose a little the stuff might move on down to the sewer dump. That action caused the hose and clamp at the tank end to come off, and waste began to flow onto the ground. Quickly I held the hose to the connection and then closed the valve. I put the hose back together and tried again. Eventually the tank stopped flowing – I don’t know what’s in there still, but I put more chemical and a couple of gallons of water in there to keep the process going.
Then it was unhooking the hoses after rinsing all the mess from emptying the tanks – the galley and gray water tanks, too. The water pressure at the pipe was so strong that within a second there was water spewing out and difficult to control. We made a big mess, and had to put away dirty hoses from them lying on the wet ground. Not to mention that we were also dirty and hot and I was getting very cranky!
Finally we got everything put away and rolled out of the “site from hell.”
The man in the office had shown me on the map how to get onto I-84 from the park. Following the directions I found myself not anywhere near where he said I’d be. I drove through a residential area and finally came to a main drag, where I stopped at a gas station to get some directions. After reviewing the map further I saw that I had made a left turn out of the park, when I should have made a right turn…The directions at the gas station were great, and we were actually in a good place to get onto the highway.
At this point we were leaving Boise, heading to Ontario, OR where we would make our connection to RT 26 into John Day. The sign on the highway said “to Ontario” – take a left where the road split. At the same time another sign said “this way to Ontario”. I was headed toward the first sign, when Liz said I should take the other, which I did – it was not the right way, so I had to find a ramp where I could turn around and go in the opposite direction. That solved, we were on our way to Ontario.
Liz was the ‘navigator’ so she advised that we needed to find the route out of Ontario that went to Vail. I was looking for a gas station, and the route was secondary to my interest at the time. I passed all the exits to Ontario thinking that there would be more than one exit with a gas station – NOT!! So I backtracked to the Ontario exit where I saw the gas signs. Liz said that there were gas stations on the exit she wanted me to take, but I didn’t see any. I pulled into a Shell station and was venting about all the hassles of the morning, when I saw a woman at my window. Now that I was in Oregon, she was there to fill my tank and wash my windshield. What a surprise!
After filling up, I parked the trailer and we walked to the nearby Denny’s for some lunch, before heading toward RT 26 and John Day. Instead of going back onto the Interstate and exiting at the ramp, we followed – mostly – the directions given by the station attendant. I missed a left turn because I thought it would have been marked with the route number, but it wasn’t. We meandered briefly, and came out on the correct highway out of town to John Day.
Pretty quickly we were on a very rural, agricultural highway – speed limit 55 – very reasonable for the trailer. We just kept following the route and signs, and enjoying the views. I had phoned our contact with the Forest Service to let him know we were leaving Boise. He said it would take us probably four hours. We finally got out of Boise around 11:00 a.m., so we would be expected about 3:00 p.m.
Again, as we were in the mountains the climbs were sometimes long and steep. I’d been advised that there were no gas stations between Ontario and John Day, so I filled up in Ontario and hoped for the best. Part of the highway into John Day is marked as a Scenic Highway, and it truly is. The trip was very pleasant, but it took longer than expected. After coming through most of the mountains, on the western side the wind was very strong. I became concerned about the trailer in that much wind. I found a pullout by a pond. Both Liz and I also needed a bathroom stop, so this was an opportune moment. There were also thunderclouds and we could hear the thunder from a recent passing threat of rain.
I’m so glad we stopped at this spot to wait. There, before us was a ‘medicine garden’. The plants were wild, not planted there. But there was mullein, great plant for the lungs; sweet sage, the kind the Indians prefer for their cleansing ceremonies. There was willow, chokecherry, and other plants. I said some prayers to the plants and asked if I could have some for myself, taking only a little from each.
After about 20 – 30 minutes I decided to continue, but going a little more slowly. Auspiciously, the posted speeds were the ones I planned to do. A little more climbing, passing through quaint Prairie City, and being inspired by Strawberry Peak, and we came into John Day. It was about 6:00 p.m. and the sky felt dark because of the recent storm. We followed the directions given us, and pulled into the parking area.
I had been told to park the trailer on the eastern parking lot and Liz was getting me into position when it happened. I put the truck in reverse, and eased back…CRUNCH! I put the truck into drive and eased forward…CRUNCH! The wheels on the left side of the trailer were locked and I was pulling the trailer, but the wheels weren’t going around. One of the tires was actually at a slight angle. I stopped, called our ‘boss’, Don, and luckily he was in the office. He came to us and saw we had a problem. I unhitched the trailer and stabilized it.
Then we went to dinner…We had arrived, and safely! And that is very good news!!!