Where are we?
October 2006

Subj:     173. Where are we?
Date:     Monday, October 2, 2006

Here we are in "The Deepest Valley" or so it is sometimes called. It is also the location of some early 20th Century "water wars." It's a place steep in 20th century history, beautiful landscapes, and is very popular with sportsmen, especially fishermen.

We left Manchester Beach KOA for a vacation about a week ago. We had planned about a three week vacation but, for various reasons, it turned into about a 5 week vacation. We left Manchester and headed to Lancaster California and Ridgecrest to visit some of the kids and Grandkids. Now we have started to head north again but we will be taking our time.

There are several things we have to mention since it has been just over six months since our last Where are we? First, we have become interested in something called geocaching. Geocaching is kind of like a scavenger hunt but with a high tech twist. We read about it several times in different magazines and all you need is a sense of adventure, a little bit of knowledge, and a hand held GPS unit. First of all, you go to www.geocaching.com. There is no charge to join. Once you join you can type in your zip code and you will be given a list of geocaches in that area. A regular geocache is some type of container that is hidden, it will typically contain a log book, and various trinkets. The description on the webpage will tell you the GPS coordinates where it is located and maybe give you some helpful information on finding it. Then, using the information given, you look for the cache. The basic rule is that if you take something, you also leave something. You also sign the log book.

There are also virtual caches. With these you are given the GPS coordinates of a location and asked a question. Once you are at the location, you will have the information to answer the question. We really like the virtual caches.

This past summer was very busy. Besides working with some great workampers, we were visited by both some of our kids and grandkids. After taking about a week off for Scott (Adrienne's eldest son) and Jennifer's wedding in June, we came back to Manchester with Daniel and Breanna, two of our grandchildren. Daniel and Breanna were with us for two weeks. The second week they were at the KOA, Adrienne's second son (Jeff), his wife (Jill), and their kids (C.J. and Nicolas) visited us. Everyone had a great time. Then in August, Scott and Jennifer, Sam, and Mark came for a visit. We really had a great time with all of them.

It seems like the summer went really fast. We still did a lot at the campground and, as we said above, we worked with some really great workamping couples. We still did most of the pancake breakfasts (among other things) and we set a record for the number of breakfasts served, 176 breakfasts in about 90 minutes. That's a lot of sausage and pancakes!

Now, where are we? We are at Boulder Creek RV Park in Lone Pine California. It's at the South end of the Owens Valley, also called the deepest valley. Although the valley itself is at an elevation of about 4000 feet, the Sierra Mountains on the West has peaks over 14000 feet and the White Mountains to the East have peaks of 12000 feet. The water wars, in the early 20th century, came about when the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water started buying the water rights from the farmers in the area. This was not really popular with the local residents.

The Brauers
Havin' fun
On the road for a few weeks.

Subj:     174. Where are we?
Date:     Monday, October 2, 2006

Here we are in the "Biggest Little City in the World!" It's a city also known for its casinos. Yes, we are in Nevada but we are in the high desert in Northern Nevada.

In the last email we mentioned about geocaching. Well, we did some while we were at Lone Pine. We actually found four caches, there were others but we didn't feel like taking our truck down some very questionable dirt roads. However, one of the virtual caches was really outstanding.

The title of the cache is "Manzanar Virtual Cache." Now, since we lived in Ridgecrest and have been in the Owens Valley many times, we had visited Manzanar several times. However, we were still surprised and overwhelmed by this visit.

First, if you don't know, Manzanar was one of the 10 Japanese Relocation Centers created by the Federal Government during World War II. Manzanar was also the subject (and we believe title) of a made for TV movie in the 70s or early 80s. Although it was called a Relocation Center and specifically not an internment camp or a concentration camp, people of Japanese heritage on the west coast were moved from their homes and businesses to these Relocation Camps.

On previous trips to Manzanar, we have seen foundations for what used to be buildings, we didn't really know much about the details other than the brick guardhouse at the entrance and the fact that there was a county road construction building a bit north of the entrance. Well, in 1992 Manzanar was established as a National Historic Site. We have driven by the site many times since then and never noticed anything different. In 2004, the old County Road Construction Building (which much to our surprise was the Manzanar Auditorium) was opened as the Manzanar National Historic Site Interpretive Center and operated by the National Park Service. The National Park Service has done a fantastic job. Manzanar is much bigger that we had thought. There is a self guided auto tour of the site (over three miles long) and is well worth the time. Over 10,000 Japanese Americans were interred at Manzanar.

The first few paragraphs of the cache description say a lot:

"This cache is not for those seeking a physically beautiful place. It is dusty and hot in summer and snow-covered in winter. However, if you want to experience a meaningful and important historic site, you should definitely make this trip.

"We almost flew past this site on our way north on the 395 between Lone Pine and Independence. All you can see is the brick guardhouse and large auditorium amid the 800 acres of desert shrub and a few trees. All that remains of the buildings are numerous concrete slabs. It is hard to believe that 10,000 American citizens were forcibly relocated here during World War II. Almost as tragic is how shamelessly the site was demolished as if to wipe the entire incident from our national memory."

Manzanar happened because of the national hysteria against the Japanese after the attack on Pearl Harbor. That is understandable. However, just think where we would be without Japanese companies like Honda, Toyota, Sony, Panasonic, Nissan, and others. Now, think about the events of September 11, 2001. Tragedy caused by radical extremists. Was it right to blame Japanese Americans for the events of December 7, 1941? Is it right to blame all believers of Islam for the events of 9/11? We'll leave the answer to these questions to you. However, suffice it to say that a visit to Manzanar is well worth the time. And a heart felt Thank You to www.geocaching.com for helping us to visit Manzanar again and thanks to the National Park Service for making Manzanar a memorable place to visit.

The drive today was nice. Yes, we drove straight up US 395 from Lone Pine. It's not a road to drive fast but it is a beautiful drive. Although it is mountainous, we have become used to CA Highway 1, so US 395 is a piece of cake.

Now, where are we? We are actually in Reno Nevada at the Reno KOA. We do have to mention that Larry won $50.00 on a nickel slot machine so at least we came out a few dollars ahead in the casino.

The Brauers
Havin' Fun in Nevada

Subj:     175. Where are we?
Date:     Saturday, October 7, 2006

Sometimes it's difficult to follow the general outline that we developed for the Where are we? emails. This is one of those times. It's difficult because we have been here a number of times so it's difficult to find something new about the area. However, we will describe the area. It's a city known for Ducks! The campground brochure says:

"Visitors to this area can enjoy a scenic wilderness area, relax at a luxurious resort, view abundant wildlife, go deep sea fishing, and mountains, or explore exotic and eerie lava beds - for just a few choices...

"Covered bridges, cool waterfalls, hot springs, formal gardens, unique festivals, delicious seafood, friendly people, fresh air, clean water, and so much more, all await those staying to explore [this area]."

We only spent one night in Reno because we had a schedule to keep. The Reno KOA is right next to the Reno Hilton, so, of course, we spent some time in the casino. The cost of the night at the KOA was very reasonable, especially since we were comped for the stay since we are active KOA workampers!

After leaving Reno, we drove north on US 395, back into California. Then taking some state highways, into Oregon when we spent two nights in Chiloquin. Chiloquin is on the Williams River and is usually a pleasant place to stay. We've been there several times before. One of the reasons we chose Chiloquin is that it is very convenient to Crater Lake National Park, where we worked during the summer of 2003. We had heard that many changes had been made and we wanted to see them. So, we took a side trip to Crater Lake. Most of the concessions had already be closed. It seemed a bit early to close the campground since the first weekend in October is usually a busy weekend but that's just our opinion.

There is now a restaurant at Mazama Village. We didn't go into the restaurant since it had already closed for the season. At the rim, the main building was closed for restoration. They are trying to restore it back to the original configuration. Except for the main restaurant at Crater Lake Lodge, there was no food service at the rim.

We did stop by the Administration Building where we happened to see someone we knew. (A special note to Jack and Loretta and Tom and Dottie - Lee says HI!).

Of course the Lake itself has not changed and is as awe inspiring as ever.

On Thursday we left Chiloquin and headed to our current location where we will be for a couple of weeks. Everytime we drive in this area, especially on the state highways, we are impressed by the scenery. Yes the drive here was beautiful.

Now where are we and why are we here? We are staying in Coburg Oregon which is about a 15 minute drive from Michelle, Keith, and Tristan (Larry's older daughter, her husband, and their son).

Why are we here? On Monday, October 9, Michelle is having a baby girl (we don't know the name yet). Since Michelle will be in the hospital for a few days (C-section), someone has to take care of Tristan, so that's our job. We'll send another email sometime after October 9 telling you more about our new Granddaughter, and probably our experiences with our youngest Grandson Tristan.

More later,

The Brauers
havin' fun
in Oregon
becoming buddies with Tristan

Subj:     176. Where are we?
Date:     Saturday, October 21, 2006

We reluctantly left Eugene today to meet other obligations. Right now we are near a city that is just south of the "Jewel of Northern California," also called the "Houseboat and Wakeboarding capital of the world." The city we are in was founded by miners during the 19th Century, but it was not very prosperous and became known as Poverty Flats. It's current name came from a Railroad man. In the 20th Century the main industry was lumber. Now it's two biggest industries are the medical and legal industries.

We had a great time in Eugene. Tristan, Larry's Grandson, was a joy. Of course he is a typical two-year-old, but an amazingly well behaved one. It took about 5 minutes or less for him to warm up to us. He stayed with us in the RV starting on Sunday night and stayed with us through Thursday night, the night Michelle came home from the hospital. For the remainder of the time, we constantly had Tristan at the RV after Day Care. He really seemed to enjoy us, and we certainly enjoyed him. He even spent a night with us at the RV dealer while we were getting some warranty work done.

Rachel is a beautiful baby. Would you expect us to say anything different?

Larry even was able to get in nine holes of golf with Keith. Actually Michelle and Rachel went also but they just rode around in the golf cart. Adrienne was having fun with Tristan while the others were at the golf course.

We also watched both Tristan and Rachel while Michelle and Keith enjoyed a night out, probably their last one for a while.

Where are we now? We are in Redding California (named for Benjamin B. Redding) and we are just south of Lake Shasta.

The Brauers
Havin' Fun
headin' back to Manchester

Subj:     177. Where are we?
Date:     Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"Wave-swept beaches, rugged cliffs, rolling sand dunes, sleeping sea lions, soaring pelicans, towering redwoods, glowing sunset, and vast expanses of ocean ... ." That's the standard statement from the RV park where we are. We also have to mention that 7 of our nine grandchildren have been here, some more than once. The only two that have not been here are our eldest granddaughter, Ashley, and our youngest, Rachel, who just turned two weeks old as we write this.

What's missing from the statement in the brochure is the roads getting here. They can be described as narrow, hilly, twisty, and not necessarily fun to drive. However, the drive is certainly worth the effort. We do hear people complain about the drive here and they are driving in a car, maybe even an SUV. Well, to those people we have to say, try it in a 39 foot long motor home. We just take it slow and easy and it works out fine.

Although we wanted to, we didn't spend much time sightseeing in Redding. We did do some shopping for the KOA and a little personal shopping. We also had a great $5.00 dinner at the campground. So even though we didn't do any sightseeing, it was certainly fun.

Now, Where are we? We are at the Manchester Beach KOA in Manchester California where we will be completing our obligation through Octoberfest and the Thanksgiving Holiday.

The Brauers
Havin' Fun
In Manchester