Wednesday, April 22, 2015

No Trip is Complete without a Snag

First: NO BUS CONTENT. Today is a trip report instead.
I haven't been to Bend in years. The last time, I went, my trip report (Hot Tub, Hot Thai and High Desert Snow) was one of the most viewed blog postings I've ever had. I don't expect this one to meet that level of reader interest, but the trip was equally adventurous. Back then, the boys were 11 and 8. This time, they're 17 and 13. Amazing how time flies. Similar to the last trip, this one was over Spring Break as well. I took the week off so I could hang out with the boys. C had already planned the first weekend with one of his friends, so we set up a trip for the last 3 weekdays of Spring Break. While we initially were looking for snow, we gave up and decided to try something completely different. Turned out, those were the warmest, sunniest weather days we'd had in the calendar year, so bully for us.

Getting Outta Detroit
Detroit Sleeps
Our exit from home was actually quite pedestrian. Unlike trips I'd taken with the boys years ago, we simply grabbed up some stuff, pulled a bag of groceries and set off. I look at the departure with such trepidation from early years of trouble, but without the ex-, and without a tight timeline, even the trip is part of the vacation. Late morning traffic in the middle of the week was no trouble, and before we knew it, we were north of Salem, turning onto OR22 and towards the Cascade Mountains. Past small farms and warehouses, the flat valley floor eventually turns upwards, and the roads start to wind. We passed the low-water Detroit Lake and stopped in the town of Detroit to stretch our legs. Frozen in time, Detroit waits for Summer. When Fall arrives, the businesses shutter, paused for the cold wet break between annual summer crowds. Being Spring, there was no movement. None. We slipped out quickly before the freeze took us.

Downtown Bend
near Black Butte Ranch
We hit Bend by mid-afternoon after noting the location of the big lacrosse tournament in Sisters. We checked into the Holiday Inn long enough to drop our bags and then headed for downtown Bend. T was anxious to show us OSU Cascade, but that would have to wait until after we ate. Intending to hear some live music, we hit the McMenamin's Old Francis School, but the singer-songwriter venue was standing-room-only. We ate, but with the time delays, and typical sluggish McMenamin's service, there wasn't enough light left to visit OSU Cascade. Instead, we cruised downtown Bend marveling at the number of pedestrians, and skateboarders. For the size of the city, there were a ton of skaters, and everyone seemed groovy with that. We wheeled back to the hotel, and tucked in early so we could hit Smith Rock with some energy the next day.

Smith Rockin
starting our descent
Smith Rock, if you've never been, claims to be the birthplace of "bouldering". After spending a day climbing around, I'm not about to argue. We didn't just want to walk a trail, but we didn't want to take a run at the wall either, so we headed down a horse trail (Homestead Trail) towards the river. As it neared a cliff drop-off, T & C decided that was as good a spot as any to go off-trail. Down the face they started climbing; I had little option but to follow. After about 50 nearly-vertical feet of descending, it leveled off on a lip where we could stand and rest. The rest of the descent was at least 60* to the river's edge which was littered with a healthy mixture of boulders and large-dog sized rocks. We chose to work our way upriver, looking for a spot where we could cross without getting our phones wet. After about an hour of clambering in a steadily warming sun, C was able to bounce back and forth from shore to shore, but T and I couldn't. We were able to find a spot where we all made it across after another 30 minutes, though.

climbing back up
We rested long enough for our sweat to dry and to splash some river water on our skin.. and have that dry. C then pointed his nose back across the river towards where we were parked and set off to find the most direct route back to the car. After a couple backtracks, he made it in under 30 minutes. T and I followed. Most of the ascent was straightforward rock-hopping. The final 20 vertical feet, however, were almost straight up with minimal hand/foot holds. While we climbed, a 4-some of bicyclist-styled climbers approached from below. They had found a trail marking that took them to "the ladder". We all arrived at the cliff lip at the same time, though, so I'm not sure their route was actually any better.

By the time we got to the car, Smith Rock was packed. There were people and cars everywhere, and more cars circling for a parking spot. We pulled out and visited the small shop (Rockhard) just past the state park line for drinks and ice cream. Dr. Pepper never tasted so good. After a few hours of clambering around on the rocks, we were hungry, so we hit a new local place in Bend.

Pop's Place
I learned of Pop's from restaurants-dot-com. I didn't link to them because Pop's proprietor, Sean, was not very enthusiastic about them. We were enthusiastic about Pop's, though. Tasty burrito's with flavor separation so you could taste every ingredient. Very fresh. Salsa bar. Sold. Sean & Co made us feel like regulars from the moment we walked in.

down and back again
OSU Cascade
From Pop's, we drove through town (10 minutes) to the OSU Cascade / COCC campus. As a high school junior, T is looking at colleges and OSU Cascade is at the top of his list. I can see why. Bend is flat-out awesome, and OSU Cascade is a small school within it. Smith Rock is 40 minutes away; so is Mt Bachelor, so for an active outdoor kid, Bend makes sense. OSU Cascade was not holding classes when we were there, but there is considerable active construction of multiple new buildings. The existing buildings are well maintained, and don't look terribly old either. With the alpine climate setting, sunny skies and dry air, I can see the attraction. I've since asked around about it, and indirectly I know a few folks who are there. They love it. The classes are smaller than a typical state school and the costs are in-line with typical state costs. Compelling.

No Trip is Complete without a Snag
satisfied faces post-lunch
We hit the hotel pool after visiting OSU Cascade, and then ate the pizza we bought as we were leaving Pop's. Even cold, that was some good pie. At some point, one of the boys went down to the car for something during the evening of watching a movie and accidentally locked us out. Unknowing, we scarfed our complimentary breakfast, packed out of the room and checked out. Arriving at the car, we discovered that we were unable to get into the cabin, but we could open the trunk. I have AAA because I drive a 40+ year old bus, but I think I've used it more on Flash, the Jetta. I used it again to get the door unlocked and the boys threw the lacrosse ball while we waited for the wrecker. The tow truck driver was fast. When the guy arrived, I sent the boys to the c-store for drinks. The car was unlocked before they got back, and the c-store was only just across the small parking lot.
snow-less Hoo Doo

Once back inside the car, we pointed towards the US20 and Sisters. Before we left the Central Oregon desert, we had one more stop to make: Sno-Cap. Sno-Cap isn't like most of the rest of the main strip through Sisters. It is more of the throw-back to yesteryear. The rest of the main drag has evolved into a new age gentrified scene attracting tourist-types and brunch fans. Being Spring Break, the US tourist was out in force, complete with cargo shorts, tall white socks with sandals and the occasional fanny-pack. Seriously people. Look at yourself. Anyway, Sno-Cap is a drive-in looking burger joint near the west end of town. Look for the line of in-the-know folks queuing out the door. The old guy behind the counter has been there forever, collecting orders and managing the flow. Behind him, there are 3 or 4 younger folks moving with great speed and purpose. So, while the line seems to move slowly when you're hungry, your order appears in front of you rather quickly once you've placed it. As T says, "we'll stop here every time".
Once fed, we sped westward, stopping at HooDoo Ski Area just to see what it looks like up close. The picture tells the story: virtually no snow. From the base, it was hard to imagine the trails, and the lodge looked small. I've heard the vibe is very similar to Ski Bowl on Mt Hood, so we'll want to come back when there's snow to give it a go.

The drive from HooDoo was uneventful and fast. Traffic was thin for a Friday afternoon heading into the Portland area from the south. We were home, unpacked and laundry rolling by mid-afternoon. Other than the one hang-up from the door locks, Flash behaved very well. Even his A/C was cold.

That's it for today. I've been making lots of progress on the battle against the rust I described in my last post. I'll update more fully next time. As always, thanks for following along...

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Learning as We Go

Before you ask, I've been sanding. That's where I've been. Well, sanding and grinding. It all started shortly after that last post....

Interior Pull Really Complete
what lies beneath
I posted about removing the interior about a month ago. The last photo was taken right before I pulled the rock-n-roll bed out. Once that was out, I removed the rails the middle row seat slides into, and then pulled up the wood flooring. I had forgotten that I had put McMaster-Carr vibration deadener onto the steel floor way back when. I took a seat on the black rubber and was taking a rest when I noticed a light rusty-brown colored dust sitting at the seam between the two rubber swathes. Curious, I started pulling a little bit and prodding at it. The mats didn't feel firmly affixed at the seam. So, I grabbed a box-cutter and started cutting away at the rubber to see why, hoping I could cut back to where the mats were really well attached. Before long, I had removed all of the rubberized vibration deadener and was looking at some serious rust. There was even some standing water, and the bus hasn't been on the road for months! Bah!

Rust Habitat
post-grinding, mid-rust converting
First thing we learn from this is: Don't apply sound deadener directly to a steel floor. Water will find its way underneath and once its there it will become trapped. Trapped water = rust habitat. I was inspired to find all of the rest of the rust in the interior. I pulled the carpet off the front seat pedestals. More rust. As best I could, I pulled the vibration absorbtion mats from the front cab floor too. Now, these were much better than the McMaster-Carr ones, so in some sections, they were completely sealed in, effectively protecting the floor. I hacked at the mats with a paint scraper to loosen any bits which were sitting on loose rust.

I spent the next 3 weeks of free time grinding the rust with a sanding wheel on my Dremel. Just last night, I finished clearing the floor of the grinder-reachable rust. After multiple passes with the shop vac, and then a wash-down with mineral spirits, I painted 2 coats of NAPA's Rust Converter on. The floor is now nearly completely black and ready for primer.

It hasn't been all grinding, though. I'll post a trip report next time.
Thanks for following along-