The road to Bend was the longest we’d driven so far… at 160 miles, t wasn’t far by American standards – but to us RV newbies, it was more than enough! The road did bend, the ups went up and the downs went down… it was a good road to build up experience on. When we left Shady and Valerie outside Wilsonville at the rest stop for our goodbye picnic, Dorothy started driving. This was only the 2nd time she’d driven the “rig”. Of course, this was the perfect cue for the heavens to open – it rained intensely, the 1st time for ages in Oregon… and the 1st time Dorothy had needed to use the wipers on our new truck.
No panic – she coped well even when she couldnt see a thing – she drove on gaining confidence with each mile. The rain didn’t last and on we went forking off towards Bend after passing Salem on the I5.
Our strategy of stop when you need a break / cup of tea / stretch, sort of flew out the window as we realized just how big we were. The 25 foot RV trial run we’d had in Death Valley gave us this feeling that we could just pull over when we wanted and enjoy the journey. When you have a 20 foot truck pulling a 35 foot trailer (ok, there’s some overlap… but still – that’s long) there are not so many places you can pull over and its a wee bit more complicated. The 5th wheel on the move is also not too friendly as the slide-outs which make it so livable when it’s parked are all slid in when you’re moving – basically you get access to half your fridge, half your sink, the bathroom and the bedroom… which isn’t bad – but not as handy for a cup of tea stop.
As a result, Dorothy just kept driving and driving and driving… the scenery was nice and it wasn’t long before we were getting close to our destination… and our fuel range was also telling us that we had almost that distance left… oh dear, that’s not really what we planned. The range of the fuel tank had been much more at the start… however with all the ups and downs, the miles per gallon had dropped drastically and the nearest gas station was at our destination… oops!
That’s another good lesson – calculate the worst case distance to your next fuel stop. For us – by good luck and good geography, the hills leveled off and we started getting better mileage… we would have about 20 miles range left when we got to the campsite… and it was 4 miles from there to the gas station… it was close but we made it.
The campsite looked nice, it was the Sisters / Bend Garden RV park. We checked in and they told us we would be guided to our spot just like a 747… nice! A guy appeared on a golf cart and led us through the park to our place – super, I thought, he’s going to show me the best way to get it into place, this was a first. Hahahaha – another lesson learned – YOU are the only one who is going to get YOU parked I followed him into the spot expecting him to give me left, right, straighten up kind of instructions – he didn’t, he just drove through and watched as I parked my 50 foot rig badly squint still watching him in vain for signals… they didn’t come – he was waiting to read his clipboard to me (… blah, blah, blah, the rodeo was in June – so we missed it and next year, well we’ll be lucky if we can get a place even now, blah, blah… ???) – then he jumped into his cart and drove off leaving me dumbstruck, feeling like a fool and the abandoned RV askew and too far through my place…. groan – the dreaded reverse was needed.
I have reversed the 5th wheel into places, I reversed it in to storage in Vancouver, into a place (with help) at the Columbia RV park, I have reversed to straighten up… but I’ll tell you it isn’t easy or always successful. This time was neither easy nor successful. Eventually a friendly ex-cop in a neighboring RV suggested I should go round one more time and do it again… (duuuhhh) … so simple, but absolutely what I needed to do to get straightened up. I did that, he gave me some tips and bingo, I was parked, first time… and since then I make sure I park right myself and have Dorothy as my lookout. I have since been guided in well by park people – but I watch them like a hawk – warily and don’t always do what they say.
The campsite was lovely. The washroom area was a log cabin just a short walk through the grass by the lovely lake. It earned it’s name the garden RV park – the flowers were beautiful – hey but pay attention to the sprinkler schedule – these things give you a serious soaking if you got caught out at the wrong time! (voice of experience 🙂 )
The towns of Bend and Sisters were just great – beautiful places at the end of the summer, still very warm, friendly, arty, laid back with great places to eat situated on the Deschutes river where people take pride in making great beer and people like me take great pleasure in drinking it!
And then there was my link up with Five Pint Mary – a great Celtic Rock band who invited me along to one of their gigs … a Pirate party it was great to play with them and do a spot on my own – Dorothy (or should I give her her Pirate name “Buxom Bess 🙂 ” got all kitted out with great Pirate wench help
For a fuller story of the Pirate’s night in Bend you can check out my music blog post thaar-be-pyraats-round-tha-bend… and here is an edit of the Video streamed around all interested Pirates worldwide … no I’m not joking – full-on pirate fun, scallywags, wenches, draft beer, rum, (whisky too if you include me), streamed video… that was very well done – and a hoot!
We finished our week in Bend dropped off our costumes to our new friends the pirates, picked up my guitar which was being fixed… and headed off to our next destination – Boise, Idaho