Ghost Story

Ghost Story

Several Months ago I saw a post that the Portland Dill Pickle Club was running a tour of Ghost Towns in Central Oregon. Unfortunately, non-member prices were $95 each and a bit out of my price range during this economic down turn.

A week ago, I saw another post by the Portland Mercury offering free tickets to the tour for the best Ghost Story.

Luckily for me, I just happened to have one heck of a ghost story. I dusted it off, polished it up, posted, and won! Woo Hoo! The trip was last weekend and well worth it. (Pictures are here)

Here is the story:

My uncle was working as caretaker at the old Hot Lake Hotel by the hot springs east of LaGrande.
Continue reading “Ghost Story”

The Great Motorhome Story, Part 5

Back to Part 4

To recap, my Motorhome is broken down in Ogden, Utah. I live in Portland, Oregon. It’s roughly 1000 miles between the two. I already went down to help see about repairing it, but we found a bent rod and the piston is busted and burned. That was my second trip to Ogden.

A few weeks later I’m starting to think about this again. My mother starts calling around and finds that my Uncle has a truck powerful enough to two the motorhome on a trailer my Cousin owns. The kicker is that it had to be done THAT weekend as he was going to be busy for the next month.

I contact the guy who’s place it’s at and let him know we’re coming down. He’s out of town, but lets his wife know. The plan is that I drive down to Klamath Falls, spend the night, drive to Ogden. Spend the night in the motorhome, load it up and drive back to Klamath Falls where the Motorhome will be dropped off at my Cousins who will put the new engine in it.

So I leave Portland at about 9pm. I’m using the IM app on my cell phone to update my location via Ping.FM and keep everyone in the know. Now, I absolutely love the drive between Portland and Klamath Falls via Bend. I don’t know why, but I feel it’s a great little trip. The scenery is awesome, high desert, mountains, cities, small cities, old barns and buildings, rivers, canyons, and LOTS of deer.

So many deer that at about 2am and 75 miles north of Klamath Falls I simply didn’t feel safe driving on the road any more. They were jumping out in front of me and I did come fairly close to a wreck once. So I pulled over in either someone’s driveway, a country road, or maybe just a wide spot in the road and took a nap. I was woken up about 5am by a truck, but felt well enough to drive in to Klamath Falls again.

I stopped at the same bakery again, then my Aunt and Uncles house. Being as it was 6:30 and he’s retired, the bum wasn’t up quite yet. When he did get up, we changed the oil in the truck just in case. Got the trailer, found that the heavy duty winch was missing and the spare tire had a huge gash in it so it wouldn’t take air anymore.

Whatever, we’re off. We stop in Bly, Oregon to pick up a bigger and more powerful winch from a friend. And we’re off! I’m enjoying the road between Klamath Falls and Lakeview due to the scenery. And then from Lakeview to Winnemucca. And then Winnemucca to Elko. Elko to Salt Lake City, and then to Ogden, where we arrived about 1am.

Now, the motorhome was parked in an alley. But the road it butted up on is a two lane each direction with turning lane in the middle type road. And the motorhome is locked. I start banging on the door to the house to get the keys to it and apologizing up and down once his wife opens the door. She was friendly about it, but obviously hurried back to bed.

My Uncle is looking at this, and thinking about it. He decides that we’ll just load the motorhome up now before traffic gets too bad. So we unhook the trailer in the parking lot across the street. Throw a tow chain on the motorhome, and pull it out of the alley up into the same parking lot. This parking lot has an angle on it, so we put the motorhome at the top side, and the trailer at the down side.

Pop the break on the motorhome and suddenly is going towards the trailer, UP and over the hump. But… the trailer hitch drags on the ground and sticks the motorhome halfway on to the trailer. Not a problem, we get out the winch only to find out that neither one quite has the power to pull the motorhome the rest of the way on to the trailer.

Much cussing and swearing happens. We have to keep the truck hooked to the trailer so that it doesn’t slide. So I go back to the house and attempt to knock on the door to see if we could borrow their early 90’s Chevy Suburban to get the motorhome the rest of the way up. They’re not answering the door.

We find a come-along in the box on the trailer. Hook it up and start jacking on it. It tightens, but the motorhome doesn’t move an inch. So I dig into the Triple A for motorhome info and call them to see if they could get a tow truck out to help us. They work on doing so and just as we’re about to get someone, the motorhome starts moving.

Apparently my walking around inside and shaking the motorhome caused it to loosen just enough for the come along to start working. At this point I’m a bit scared. I’m in an 8000 pound vehicle being winched on to a trailer that only has six inches of clearance on one side and about a foot on the other. And, is only about 8 inches longer then the motorhome itself. PLUS no power steering. If this thing falls off the trailer, it’s done and I’m probably seriously injured.

Some how it gets on safely. And is tied down. We head down the truck stop to fill up and take a nap in the motorhome. My Uncle decides as we get down there that he wants to go ahead and get out of town before rush hour hits Salt Lake City. It’s coming up on 5:30 am at this point so I agree as it’s going to take 60-90 minutes to drive from Ogden to Salt Lake.

We start driving. And driving. And after getting through Salt Lake, another stop at a truck stop for some food and gas top off. Then we KEEP going. Some where along the line here we get a call from my Cousin. He doesn’t have a place to put the motorhome, nor the time to work on it due to his new job. I’m soon taking 15 minute cat naps in the passenger seat. We stop for lunch and gas in Winnemucca, Nevada.

This was taken outside of the Flying Pig BBQ in Winnemucca. The food was pretty mediocre, but I can’t really expect anything better when in the middle of the Nevada desert.

The next leg of the trip was Winnemucca to Lakeview. This is 240 miles. With one very small gas station in the middle at Denio Junction. Luckily the gas station is ran by the bartender inside so you can get gas pretty late. But trucks like us coming through and loaded down need that gas there. And the locals of course.

As we were pulling in to get gas there, we found another guy hauling cars doing the same thing. He only topped off a couple of gas cans. This guy was crazy though. One of the tires on his trailer had some sort of bubble coming out of it. And he was driving fast. The hills along highway 140 to Lakeview are dangerous if you’re going to fast.

We caught up with this guy in Lakeview and I noticed that he had severely damaged the cab of his pickup truck when backing his trailer up. Add in the tire problem and the way he’d been driving before and I’m surprised we didn’t have to stop to help him out of a ditch.

Anyways, made it into Klamath Falls about 9pm. After a quick bite to eat, bed came calling. I was up again at 6am and snuck out of the house so as to not wake anyone up. As it was early still, I took the opportunity to check out a couple of locations I had seen from the train. Nothing to special was seen, until I got back up to LaPine. I found this old house in a pasture. It was obviously being used as a storage shed/horse barn in the recent past.

Another stop further up the road was Petersen Rock Garden.

But finally, I got home again. My Aunt and Uncle decided to bring the motorhome up to Portland a couple of days later. I was going to have them put it into my yard, but decided to send to my brother’s house instead.

Unfortunately, I still needed to get the engine. So…. a fourth trip to Klamath Falls with my dad, my father in law, and my dad’s pickup truck to get it.

This little adventure touched every member of my family it seems. I’m sorry that the original trip didn’t go through, I was really looking forward to visiting Roswell, San Antonio, and maybe Hollywood/LA a little bit too. I didn’t always enjoy the next three trips, and was cursing quite a bit at times.

But it was an adventure!

The Great Motorhome Story, Part 4

Back to Part 3

So I finally arrived home. My motorhome is broken down in Ogden, Utah about 800 miles away.

After about a month, maybe two, I’m starting to get itchy about getting it taken care of. I call my cousin up who expressed interest in trying to get it fixed and send him a chunk of money to buy parts. The guys house it’s parked at is a mechanic too and would help. He diagnosed it, and as I later found out, was able to drive it around the block to park in the alley behind his house.

So my cousin makes arrangements to head to Ogden from Southern Oregon. A trip of about 700 miles each way. On the spur of the moment (and still unemployed,) I decide to go down, meet up, and drive the motorhome when it’s fixed. My cousin was planning on driving it and having his wife drive their car home, so I thought it’d be a bit easier for me to help and pay for gas/food/etc.

Everyone agrees this is a great idea. Or possibly everyone was just being nice about my spur of the moment idea.

So, a bit of research later and I find that the Bus is cheapest, even though it takes about 18 hours to get there. I pack up, take a couple of large novels to read. At the bus station I forget my cell phone in the car and board without it.

The bus ride was… entertaining at times. I had a seat to myself until Boardman when I had to share with some kid going to see his mother in Salt Lake City. A 20-something girl kept tormenting a little Mexican kid, while an older Asian woman joined in the fun after quite sometime. I think the 20-something was mentally challenged as I seriously thought she was going to start hitting the kid at a couple of points.

As the bus drove to the different bus stations in each town, I got to see quite a bit of each of the towns. Unfortunately most of it was from the bus window, and a good portion was at night. The stop over in Boise was nice, I walked around a few blocks and watched kids cruising down the street. Annoyingly, we drove right by a Chevy Dealership in Twin Falls. And they even had a motorhome of about the same vintage and make sitting over near the repair bays.

The bus finally arrived in Ogden at 1am. The bus driver almost didn’t get me my bags, but I blocked the baggage door before he closed it. At that point, I was just dead tired. I had napped on the bus as well as can be done in those uncomfortable seats. I thought about just sitting on the ground and sleeping, but the amazingly comfortable bed in the motorhome beckoned.

I started walking. And walking. And then walking some more. After about 45 minutes I realized I was going the wrong way. It took me several blocks to realize that I was passing landmarks that I saw when I was here the first time – on my long Sunday stroll. I got turned the right way, as I was going towards my destination I found Ogden’s Historic 25th Street. Which, had several bars, several dining establishments, and several even had hours posted for Sundays!

I also found a strip bar, and pretty sure I saw a prostitute walking along the street. This was not the town I had seen two months ago!

I finally made it to the motorhome, (and surprised to find it parked in the alley,) and fell asleep for a couple of hours. I thought I got to the motorhome at 5am, but I can’t believe that it took me 4 hours to walk that far. Even half asleep. Interestingly, I was awake again at 9am and very wide awake.

After scrounging for breakfast at the (1960’s size) super market across the street, I found that my cousin hadn’t shown up yet. Not too big of deal, it was a 14 hour drive for him after all. As the motorhome had been moved, wireless access was now impossible. Stuck, in Ogden, again. This time with no communication technology beyond semaphore, I bravely struck out for parts unknown in an attempt to gain such access.

Two hours later, on 25th Street, I found a small cafe that offered Internet access. Ironically the movie theater and “lifestyle” shopping mall just down the street offered access too, but the signal was too weak to get anything no matter where I moved. So I had an unmemorable sandwich for lunch, and was able to get enough wireless signal to let my wife know I was OK, and to tell her about the phone via IM. And to let her know about my communication challenges.

I wandered town for a bit more then headed back to my four wheeled home away from home. I read, wrote on my novel, wandered around, ate, read some more, visited the strip bar that I saw the night before just to say that I’ve been in one in Utah. Finally my cousin showed up, we talked about what needed to be done on the motor home, and I went back down to find some place to eat.

The next day, we get a few parts and then start working on the motor home. Front seats are taken out. The engine cowling is loosened, and we start breaking down the engine to replace the water pump and something else. As we’re doing so, I see one of the rods is bent. Get into it and there we are, a blown cylinder. After a round of general cussing, and then shoving all the parts back into the motor home, we go for beer.

But never fear, cousin has an engine to put in so we don’t have to rebuild the old one. Bad news, the motorhome is still 700 miles away from the Engine.

So next morning I beg a ride back to Southern Oregon. I offer to drive, but my cousin is too much like me in that I prefer to drive. We make fairly good time getting to their house about 9pm or so. His wife and kid get unloaded and bundled into bed, then he takes me down to the Train Station then heads home.

All the trains to Portland are done for the night, but there is one bright and early at 8:30 or so. So I find a cheap hotel down the road and sleep in a real bed. Across the street is the old Ford Dealership building, which has some Egyptian Motifs on the front. I remember this building was talked about in an Art Appreciation class I had to take in college. I just don’t remember why it was important.

I got breakfast at a little bakery/coffee shop. They have a huge kitchen which looks bigger then the dining area, and were making fresh pastries of all types. The smells alone were worth visiting the building.

So I waited around in the cold outside the train station. It really wasn’t that bad, but in Early Spring, the wind off the lake gets everywhere. Plus there was fresh snow in the nearby hills.

The train station opened, and those of us foolishly waiting outside were allowed in out of the cold. About 30 minutes later the train arrived. Now, I’ve never really ridden a train before. I’ve gone on a couple of different Dinner Trains such as the Mt. Hood Rail Road.

My initial experience was slightly ruined by an EXTREMELY fat guy who took up a good portion of my seat in addition to his who was also eating tuna fish with crackers. The smell of the tuna fish drove me to take my camera up to the Scenic view car, for which I’m glad I did.

A couple of people from the Klamath County History Museum were in the scenic car giving talks about what we were seeing. I knew most of what they were talking about already, but it was still pretty interesting. One of the things only viewable from the Train is a place called Root Beer Falls.

The water is a bit dirty, but is apparently very nutrient rich which gives it the frothy whiteness. I want to get back here, but just can not find exactly where it is at all. Even then it’s going to take some hiking to get in.

As we continued, the train started climbing into the mountains. It was a pretty gradual climb, but the fresh snow the night before was very nice. We also passed Clear Lake, but couldn’t get a good view of it due to the trees.

Saw some other interesting things, like a covered bridge (didn’t expect it, so didn’t have the camera out,) old and historic train stations. The Willamette River, Oregon City, and Downtown Portland.

So I’m finally back home after another 2000 miles trip.

But the Great Motorhome Story is not finished yet.

On to Part 5

The Great Motorhome Story, Part 1

In early May of this year, my dear mother had a simple proposal for me. “Would you like my old motorhome? I’m getting a new one.”

A bit leery, I said sure. It’s older, but in pretty good shape. She’s driven it all over Oregon with few to no problems. As I was unemployed at the time, I suddenly had visions of simply driving around Oregon, taking pictures for my Photoblog. I’d stay within 400 or so miles of home so as to be quickly available for any jobs.

I got the motorhome, did a few small maintenance jobs on it. A couple of weeks later the subject of a family reunion in Texas came up. As I now had the motorhome, and was still unemployed, I figured I’d drive down. Even doubling my estimate for gas usage based on mileage, doing so was cheaper then airplane tickets, car rental, dog sitter, and hotel rooms.

So a plan was born. I’d drive the motorhome down to Texas. My wife would fly in and then we’d swing through LA for a trip to Disney Land. I’d get to see large portions of the country I’ve never seen, she’d get to go to Disney Land and we’d have a great trip.

Itineraries were created, maps were procured. Food and necessities packed. CB Radio to talk to truckers. Maps to grocery stores and Free Wi-Fi hot spots were printed out and organized in a 3 Ring Binder. Lists of Camp Grounds along each stop, and a secondary list of Walmarts, Targets and KMarts that allowed RV over nighters. Oh, and Triple A like insurance for the Motorhome purchased just in case. The day of the trip rolls around and I’m off along I-84.

The route was roughly, Portland to Boise. Boise to Salt Lake, Salt Lake to Roswell (with a 30 mile side trip to a cemetery where some of my ancestors are buried,) and then across the state of Texas to San Antonio. I would drive back to Del Rio Texas, pick up my wife and mother there, go to the reunion, then go Phoenix, LA, San Francisco, Portland. Had 14 whole days scheduled for the trip with 300-400 miles each day.

It’s been a few years since I’d drive I-84. The weather was awesome. Saw two bald eagles sitting on an island in the Columbia River. Viewed the Maryhill Museum of Art and the replica of Stonehenge. Counted windmills and trains. Stopped at every single “Oregon History Sign” I saw.

I enjoyed the drive so much that I totally blew by my first scheduled stop in La Grande Oregon. Took the back road to Union, Oregon, a place I had stayed a couple of days several years ago and thoroughly enjoyed. Took lots of pictures at every stop. Took the dog for a couple of walks to get her calmed down from the all the noises in the motorhome.

Ended up crossing visting the Ghost Town of Lime, Oregon. Drove across the Idaho Border, got caught in traffic in Nampa Idaho, and finally drove into Twin Falls, Idaho about 9PM. I decided to stay at the truck stop, but off a road so that my much smaller motorhome didn’t get run over by an 18 Wheeler.

At this time the radiator belt had been squeaking pretty hard. The Chevy dealer in Boise was closed when I had gone through. So I hoped that I could find one in Twin Falls, or any kind of repair shop. At the truck stop I asked several different people about options in town. Two just didn’t know, and two had both recently moved into town and had no clue where anything was. They also did not seem to have a local phone book, and I couldn’t bring myself to pay $9.99 for a 30 second Google Search.

So, not worrying about it, I went to sleep.

Only to be woken up at 4:30 am as Truckers started their engines up and got ready to hit the road. I reluctantly got up, and got ready myself. Not thinking much of it, I didn’t notice at the time that the Motorhome didn’t start up with it’s customary squealing, but I was still mindful of the need to get the belt looked at and replaced. I drove through Twin Falls, generally heading East. Found very, very little in the way of garages or repair shops so decided to keep driving until I saw something.

A couple of hours down the road, the only thing I saw were small gas stations with quick stores. The one I stopped at said that the nearest repair place they new of was in Pocatello which was the wrong direction for Salt Lake City. I kept going, took the southern road to Salt Lake City. About this time the motorhome started stuttering a bit. Again, I didn’t think much of it, even though I’ve experienced this exact problem before.

About 100 miles north of Ogden I know that I’m in trouble. The batteries are both wearing down, and I had turned the radio and fridge off to save electricity. Right outside the bump in the road town of Snowville, Utah the motorhome engine dies. I’ve got just enough momentum to get it stopped on the highway exit.

Part Two

Boulderfist Blues

Boulderfist Blues

Originally posted (by me) on Yes, this is World of Warcraft “fan fiction” written in a fit of boredom induced insomnia.

As dawn broke upon the Burning Blade Ruins, Margaresk Boulderfist stretched and rolled off his bedroll. His hammer leaned against the broken walls of the hut he currently designated as “his.” A rat scrounging through trash scurried away as he stood up.

Margaresk brushed the drool from his mouth and groaned as aching joints stretched in the cold morning dew. He grasped for a handful of rocks to throw at his buddy U’lashken who’s own bedroll was outside the ruins of the hut.

“Ow! What was that for?” U’lashken muttered from under his pile of moldy blankets.

“Get me some food you lazy nimrod,” Margaresk yelled out the window. A piece of venison came sailing back in the window, bounced off a broken beam and rolled into the dust and debris. He eyed it then reluctantly sniffed at it before taking a bite.

“I’m getting kind of tired of Smoked Talbuk,” he said between bites.

“I know, but the drop tables only give us Smoked Talbuk Venison 4.5 percent of the time,” replied U’lashken still covered in blankets.

Before Margaresk could curse the Drop Tables, Blizzard Middle Management, and unrealistic economic situations, Jugarath the Mystic sounded the alarm.

“Incoming 62 Human Pally! He’s got seals up! Places everyone!” yelled Jugarath.

Margaresk groaned, “Uhg, please don’t be Snugpants1234! Please don’t be Snugpants1234!”

As the Boulderfist leapt into their assigned patrol routes, the hoofbeats of a Paladin Charger thundered down the road from Telaar. With a shout of triumph and a flashing Hammer of Justice, Snugpants1234 of the Inversion Control Guild jumped into battle with Jugarath. Before he could shake off the stun effect, his hit points drastically dropped as the Hammer of Wrath went off. A mere two seconds later Jugarath’s last hit point was wrenched from him.

Margaresk and U’lashken both rushed to help Jugarath, but were hit with Consecration. Snugpants1234’s epic Blade of Hanna ripped through U’lashken’s defenses and laid him on the ground. Margaresk backed away slightly and signaled to the rest of his tribe. Instead of coming to the rescue, they purposely ignored him as he was outside their pull range.

Margaresk launched a Pulverize at Snugpants1234, who merely sneered. He was able to block the return attack, but the next went through his defenses. The evil gleam in the Paladin’s eyes spelled death for the entire clan. Margaresk desperately attempted to attack again, but was quickly cut down.

Snugpants1234 chugged a healing potion then started looting. Internally Margaresk thought “Not my warbeads!” as the Human Palandin rifled through pockets and bags. His greedy metal clad hands clashed the delicately made beads in triumph!

“Yes!” he yelled into guild chat, “I’ve got enough beads to push me to exalted with Kurenai!”

Margaresk’s nose itched and he started twitching fingers towards it.

Jugarath urgently whispered, “No! You’re still on cool down!” Margaresk managed to silently groan, roll his eyes and count the seconds to keep his mind off the itch. As he laid in the remains of the village, he wondered where the Paladin got a Blade of Hanna overnight.

The Paladin in question summoned his Charger again and rode quickly back towards Telaar again. As the dead Boulderfist groaned in pain and waited for the mob reset, Margaresk thought, “It’s going to be a LONG day!”