The Spirit of Halloweentown – St. Helens, Oregon

Where do adult rving nomads go for Halloween?

 

Halloweentown!

It’s been years since I watched this movie with my kids and I don’t really remember much about it, but we were in the area in October, so we went to take a look.

Time for Halloweentown!
If you’ve seen the movie, you should recognize the building – City Hall, St. Helens, OR
The Spirit of Halloweentown in St. Helens was voted that best Halloween celebration in Oregon.

Spirit of Halloweentown takes place every year for the month of October in St. Helens, Oregon. There isn’t much that is unique about the town in general – until you visit their old town. The  Historical District is charming, and would have been a lovely visit even if it wasn’t during the Halloweentown festivities.

The Historical District of St. Helens takes their Halloween celebration quite seriously!
“Scarecrows” line the streets…
The businesses in the historical district really go all out for this yearly celebration.
Milo and Rusty were pretty excited about Halloweentown, too!

There are tons of activities on the weekends in October, including meeting with some of the actors from the movie.  There are skits, concerts, photo-ops galore, people in costumes, kids all dressed up, haunted houses, food court…St. Helens has fully embraced their claim to fame by being the town that Halloweentown was filmed in.

A lot of the houses in the historical district play along too!
Need a ride?
This little girl loved this little fluffy puppy…
Just some skeleton critters climbing a tree…
Animal skeleton, human skull, with a rat in its mouth. Hello nightmares.
And the band played on…
Rusty and Milo trying to hail a cab…
“Why don’t we talk about how illegal it is to drive without eyeballs?” – Dylan Cromwell, Halloweentown
Michael Jackson made an appearance.
Jack was hanging out there, too.
Views of the crowd – and it was a slow day.
This lovely lady, Winnie, was doing a little Hocus Pocus right in front of City Hall!
Sarah and Mary hanging out behind their big sis…because she is slightly terrifying…
See? Just slightly…

The Spirit of Halloweentown was a very cool experience, and I highly recommend going, especially if you have kids that are fans of the movie! You can find more information on their Facebook page.

It’s Just How Geeks Roll – Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington

We at Write on the Road tend to avoid big cities whenever we can – so recently we tackled Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington all in the same week – because we also like to make ourselves cry.

We got it raw…

We had to be in Portland for a few days, so we filled our time finding geeky stuff to do. 

…and lots of books.

Who says size matters? The Guinness Book of World Records – Portland is home to the World’s Smallest Park. Mill Ends Park is just 24” in diameter and 452.16 square inches.

Mill Ends Park
This is it. No really. This is it.

Who else says size matters? Me, when a bookstore takes up an entire city block! We visited Powell’s City of Books, America’s largest independent bookstore. It was amazing. It smelled of books, new and old, and coffee. There were a LOT of people shopping while we were there, but it was okay – book people are okay.

A bag of books. Just add wine for instant happy!
Sniff them. Do it. All the cool kids are.
A city block full of books. This is just one section of heaven here.

We also hung out for a few hours at the Clackamas Town Center Mall. Best stores – Hot Topic and Barnes and Noble. Now I own a badass beanie, and my to-be-read-pile is ridiculously large (and now we’re talking about size again). To finish up our shopping, we visited the StarWarsStore store near the mall. The store is small, but the space is filled with so many collectibles that it was nerdgasmic. 

Are you okay, Anni? Anni, are you okay? Are you okay, Anni?
Maximum effort!
Made the Kessel Run in 12 parcsecs…

To end our Portland adventure we found The TARDIS Room Cafe. With hopes of fish fingers and custard, we arrived for lunch – only to be disappointed by a closure for remodel. 

The construction workers have the phone box.

After our few days in Portland, we were ready to get on the road again.

Portland, Oregon, thanks for being nerdy with us!

We headed north, and briefly stopped in Seattle, WA.

How do they thread the space through the needle?

I try to be a supportive spouse. I support Mike in most things, and when I don’t it’s because he has had some stupid idea to…I digress. I support Mike in most things, and it was no different when he decided to take a religious trek to sacred ground – CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks.

“…it’s one thing saying you’ve got the best god, but sayin’ it’s the only real one is a bit of cheek, in my opinion.” – Terry Pratchet

I don’t give any craps about football – but Mike does. He has been a fan of the Seahawks since he was a wee lad, and he was thrilled to stop by Centurylink for a quick look-see. It wasn’t a tour day, so we didn’t really get to see the field open, just through the fence. The store was open there, and although I don’t give any craps about football, I do love me a new hoodie – so guess who’s a Seahawks fan now? Still not me, but I got a new hoodie anyway.

Wave your flags and banners, sports fans!
12 is okay. 42 would have been a better answer.
The view from the cheap seats. Really cheap seats. The free ones outside the locked fence…
Or the 42’s!

Seattle has a ton of things that we wanted to see and do, but we didn’t have time for this trip. Travel through Washington will be a regular thing for us from now on, as family members have moved up there and we will be visiting often.  Looking forward to the Space Needle and the Pop Culture Museum next time through!

After Seattle we kept driving north – eventually all the way to the Canadian border…

UP NEXT – The most northwesternest you can get in the continental US.

 

Fall In Love with Highway 22

Fall In Love with Highway 22

There are two state parks along highway 22 in Oregon, as well as a buttload of forest service parks – and the drive is breathtakingly beautiful in the fall.

Seriously…an buttload of forest service parks.

Silver Falls

Oregon’s Silver Falls State Park is located about 45 miles northeast of Salem. The park is enormous with beautiful hiking trails, including the Trail of Ten Falls. The most visited waterfall is the South Falls, which you can hike behind.

South Falls
South Falls….falling south
The trail leading behind the south falls, to the elephant graveyard… #alternativefacts

A lot of the main trails are off limits to pets, but there are over 35 miles of backcountry trails that you can take your furbabies on.

Rusty and Milo were upset that they were not permitted on some of the trails, so they peed on everything that they could.

There is plenty of interpretive displays along the main trails, with history on the area and the park.

There are a lot of bridges in the park.
Oh, just get over it.
Older bridge covered in moss.

There is also a beautiful lodge that has a cafe and WiFi.

Cafe and Lodge

We will be visiting Silver Falls State Park again as there was too much to see in one trip…and we were too lazy to hike the Trail of Ten Falls this time and I am disappointed with us.

Detroit Lake

Detroit Lake State Park is another 50 miles east of Silver Falls. The lake is huge and is a very popular place in the spring and summer. Plenty of lake for watersports and fishing.

Dawn over Detroit Lake brings with it The Mist.
While looking at the photos from Detroit Lake, I am starting to think that it should have been named Crystal Lake.
Um. Jason? Is that you under there?
The mist floating along the waters of Camp Crystal Lake.

The small town of Detroit is nearby and is the self-proclaimed “motor boat city.” The “motor boat city” has a few small markets, and a few small restaurants and bars. There is also a dog park, which is a small 6’ x 8’ area with a broken fence, but the dogs were happy taking a tinkle there.

Welcome to Detroit Motor Boat City
No. Just No.
Speaking of motorboats, I came across this happy tree.

We found the only WiFi in the town at The Cedars Restaurant and Lounge. We ate buffalo chips, and lounged so much in the lounge that we were still lounging the next day until about noon.

I will admit to overlounging, but I am still sure that this is NOT what I had for dinner.

What I have discovered over the past week and a half is that fall along Highway 22 is quite brief, as this would have been the drive just a few days later.

Mother Nature!! Just stop it! We aren’t even a month into fall.

Next Blog: Portland, Oregon

Meet Matilda

I get emotionally attached to inanimate objects…like teddy bears, blankets, cars, travel trailers. So how do I say goodbye to Serenity..our tiny home for the last year? Answer: I don’t. I just “loan” it to a family member for awhile so I can make the goodbye be as long and painful as possible. I need to start going to therapy – again.

I’m not crying, you’re crying.

What I learned very quickly though is that having a brand new queen size memory foam bed in our new-to-us motorhome made my sadness go away pretty quickly. It was probably all the naps on the new bed…rest is the best treatment for sadness.

Naps are the best idea for everything, really.

So anyway, meet Matilda.

Matilda is a 26 year old, 27 ½’ TropiCal motorhome.
She is just as lovely as can be, and was very well taken care of by her previous family.
Just look at her…*sigh*
She is a true BBW.

Rusty and Milo love the new home…as long as it isn’t actually moving.

The twin beds she came with. Milo and Rusty were sad to see them go…
Oh dog! Oh dog! Oh dog! We’re all going to die!

Matilda is exactly what were looking for, and we are so excited to add her to the family!

She came with the cute pillow!
The hallway leading into the kitchen, past the powder room.
Beautiful, bright paneling and cabinetry.

Serenity brought us plenty of that…serenity. Forever in love with our first travel trailer, and falling more in love with Matilda everyday. Or maybe, just maybe, I am in love with this life.

Dear Serenity and Hoban, thank you for all the freedom!

Good news, bad news, just news, good news…

Good news, bad news, just news, good news…

It’s been awhile. Hello readers…er…reader?

The last blog was about a month ago, just as we headed into the wild for our fire watch workamping gig. The gig was sweet! We had plenty of space, trees for miles, and easy work! By the end of the first weekend we were all set up to homestead for a few months. 

I do love me some Oregon greenery!
Lots of back roads to off-leash Rusty and Milo. They were digging it!
But…

after only four days were back in Coos Bay – at the hospital. Mike’s father was admitted through the emergency room and wasn’t doing well. We spent a few days seeing which direction his health was going to go, and then we called Rundell Inc. to let them know that we were unable to come back to work. And that is one of the best things about being full-time RVers;  when life is starting to storm, you can always just park and wait it out.

…just waiting it out.

Rundell Inc. was completely understanding about the situation, and we would recommend anyone in the Oregon area that is interesting in off-grid workamping to contact them about their fire watch gigs. 

As far as Mike’s dad, he is on the road to recovery and is doing well. So we bought a motorhome….

 

Up Next – 

Great News!

 

Book Review – Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Book Review

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Another suspenseful thriller by the author of Gone Girl. Dark Places is the story of Libby Day who confronts her traumatic childhood memories of the murder of her mother and two sisters.  Libby begins her own investigation into the murders, and into the possibility that her brother is innocent of the crime.

Flynn is a great storyteller. She creates interesting and flawed characters that the reader can really connect with. I would recommend, both, Dark Places and Gone Girl.  

“I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it.”
― Gillian FlynnDark Places

“I was not a lovable child, and I’d grown into a deeply unlovable adult. Draw a picture of my soul, and it’d be a scribble with fangs.”
― Gillian FlynnDark Places

“But I was born bent out of shape. I could picture myself coming out of the womb crooked and wrong. It never takes much for me to lose patience. The phrase fuck you may not rest on the tip of my tongue, but it’s near. Midtongue.”
― Gillian FlynnDark Places

 

BRAKE ASSIST

Stonehenge – Maryhill, Washington

While staying at Cottonwood Canyon State Park in Oregon, we decided we were interested in visiting Stonehenge. Wiltshire, England seemed like too far to go, so we went to Maryhill, WA which was only about 30 miles away.

Stonehenge Rocks
Did you know that Stonehenge was made by Chuck Norris stacking blocks as a baby?
Is there a Paperhenge? Scissorhenge?

The Maryhill Stonehenge, built by Sam Hill, was the first monument in the United States to honor the dead of World War I. The center altar stone is lined up with sunrise on the summer solstice. Hill had incorrectly believed that the original Stonehenge had been used as a sacrificial site, therefore constructed the replica as a reminder that humanity is still being sacrificed to the god of war.

“Hello, Stonehenge! Who takes the Pandorica, takes the universe!” – The Doctor
“Stonehenge, where the demons dwell Where the banshees live and they do live well Stonehenge, where a man’s a man And the children dance to the pipes of Pan.” – Spinal Tap
“In memory of the soldiers of Klickitat County who gave their lives in defense of their country. This monument is erected in the hope that others inspired by the example of their valor and their heroism may share in that love of liberty and burn with that fire of patriotism which death can alone quench.”
The memorial is worth the drive over the Columbia River, and most certainly worth the time to appreciate some of those that gave all.

If you are interested in visiting other Stonehenge replicas in the United States you can find a Roadside America map here.

Cottonwood Canyon Biking – Wasco, Oregon

Guest Blogger – Michael Parker
 (He’s the husband and has to do what I say, so not really a guest, but it sounds cooler)

Take a moment and close your eyes… I want you to imagine something with me (I know you’re peeking – How else could you still be reading this?):

It is millions of years ago and a young river has begun its work sculpting out layer after layer of rock to create a canyon filled with prairie grasses tucked between basalt peaks.

Okay, you can open your eyes now (stop faking it, I know you didn’t really close them – we already talked about this). Did you see it? No? Well, then here’s a few pictures.

The John Day is the the third longest undammed river in the U.S. But I believe that if you ain’t first, you’re last…so coming in third is just not good enough.
A bike path running along side the river.

Let me tell you what you’re looking at; this is Cottonwood Canyon in Oregon. The canyon was carved out by the John Day River so the state park we stayed at could be built. The state park, conveniently named Cottonwood Canyon State Park, has bikes you can check out to cruise some of the trails

Go ahead. Take one for a ride. … … … … It’s too easy to make this awful, so I’m going to leave it alone.

So I went for a ride on a bike that turned out to be a time machine.

The chameleon circuit has finally been sorted.

The history of the formation of the region is laid out before you on these trails. Like an enormous novel that took thousands of years to write each single page, the canyon tells the story of a time when Mother Earth was a bit more feisty and stressed out; throwing lava around, shoving piles of subterranean rock into mountains above the surface, all while stripping chunks away with water. What we are left with is an amazing , awe-inspiring display created by the grandest architect of all – nature.

I just can’t explain how much this wall rocked.
Mother Earth would like you to take notes on this geography lesson, so she doesn’t need to cause a rock slide to teach you the lesson.
The Cliffs of Insani…..uh….Slightly Scary!

Whether you decide to hike them, or bike them, when you stroll down these paths take your time. Mother Nature took around 16 million years to design this canyon – don’t be in such a rush that you miss the details she put into it.

This path took millions of years, plus a couple more with a park ranger.

Footnote about what I learned about myself:

This was my first trail ride on a mountain bike in many years and I am glad it was an easy ride because I am now very aware that I am still overweight, out of shape, and getting older everyday. Thankfully they had a few spots along the path for break. I used every one of them.

I tried out each of the resting areas to make sure they are all in working order for our readers who decide to visit.

The Painted Hills and Boondocking on the John Day River

Painted Hills and Boondocking on the John Day River

Our world is amazing, but in case you don’t believe me then go ahead and visit the John Day Fossil Beds Painted Hills Unit.

Each layer represents climate change or volcanic action in history.
The colors shift with shadows and cloud coverage.

To see the history of the world laid out before your eyes makes you feel so young and small – even if you are an old fart!

This path give you a close encounter with some very colorful mounds – I think there is a dirty joke in there somewhere, but I will leave it alone.
The dark red is representing a much wetter, almost tropical, climate.

The painted hills and mounds are rich in clay and were formed over 35 million years ago by different volcanic eruptions and changing climate patterns.

The red clay.

While visiting the hills we stayed at a small BLM campground nearby. No charge for up to 14 days stay is the perfect price as far as I’m concerned.

Dusk on the John Day River
Perfect for a slow float.
View near our camping spot.
Views of the John Day River
There is a lot of raft and canoe traffic during the summer.

The dispersed camping is right on the John Day River. The location is perfect for fishing, swimming, or just floating the river. We spent about 20 hours a day swimming with our Rusty and Milo.

Milo is part shark.
Duuun dun duuun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun BOM BOM dun dun dun dun dun dun….
Rusty is more of a guppy.

There is plenty of scenery and wildlife at the dispersed camping area.

John Day duck.
Hawk.
Bald Eagle.
Freedom.
M-O-O-N.
Man-made scenery, but a couple of old guys with their old cars came to visit, too.

Fort Stevens – Hammond, Oregon

Fort Stevens near Astoria, OR was constructed in 1863-64  to defend the mouth of the Columbia River. On June 21, 1945 Fort Stevens was attacked by a Japaneses submarine – for reasons still questioned, the fort did not return fire.

Structure known as Battery Russell.
In the event of the zombie apocalypse, we at Write on the Road have stated “Claimed.”
I have always wanted a winding staircase.

The fort is now an Oregon State Park that includes camping, hiking, biking and the ability to explore Fort Stevens remains and buildings.

Big Boom Maker – even better than a boomstick, baby.
Jeep outside the Fort Stevens Interpretive Center
Large gun pointing toward the mouth of the Columbia River – and they say size doesn’t matter
Display inside the Interpretive Center.
Historical artifacts and information on display. Also –  this guy know what you did last summer.
Ancient bowling ball used by a giant-thumbed man in prehistoric times (he was also really good at hitchhiking). Also – that is made up – it’s a cannon ball.

The majority of the buildings and structures in Fort Stevens are still intact. You are able to enter most of the structures, though some only on scheduled tours. There are plenty of volunteers around for the guided tours, history lessons, and information. We did not take a guided tour while we were there because once we arrived, we knew what we needed to do right away….

 

As always, our trusty sidekicks were up for anything!

And that was the of the start of Completely “Real” Analysis of Paranormal & Psychic Entities Research, or CRAPPER. CRAPPER is a team of two travelers seeking made up stories and fictitious hauntings, using imaginative falsehoods to fib to you about hauntings, possessions and all other kinds of paranormal malarkey.

Inspiration for CRAPPER
Mike – Co-founder of CRAPPER
MeLisa – Co-founder of CRAPPER

Our CRAPPER investigation started at the structure named Battery Russell, which is a gun battery that sits away from the rest of Fort Stevens. This building stands alone, which means that ghosts and spirits that are more introverted will haunt these types of areas.

Knowing how the ghosts are likely to be introverted, I avoided taking pictures of them as much as possible.
This pit on the upper floor of the Battery Russell was obviously used by the military for getting pumped up for battle by playing “THIS IS SPARTA!”
These holes were meant for something very militaryish, but are now used as glory holes for spirits with a sense of perverted humor.
Hooks in closets for storage of hoses, chain hoists, and shell tongs. Paranormal entities may now use them for storing their own chains, and shrouds during hot weather.
Lantern Niche originally used for…lanterns. There are also blind niches found throughout the battery, which is convenient for the spirits with optical impairments.

Concluding our investigation at Battery Russell, CRAPPER moved on to the main areas of the fort. The ghosts and spirits that reside in the main area should be more extroverted, which means we may find some interactions.

This large iron hoop was used for hoists and pulleys, but is now used to control gargantuan hell hounds.
The structures at Fort Stevens have multiple staircases, which means that the ghosts can float or climb the stairs depending on their personal preferences.
First interaction here! We are the Parkers – the haunting spirits here are obviously trying to make contact!
The remnants of an angel bursting into flames on the wall leads me to believe that there was a great battle between good and evil here – and evil won. Does it still remain?
Indisputable evidence that it does.

We continued on with our investigation, exploring as many nooks and crannies that we could. There were rooms in complete darkness, old weapons in storage behind locked gates, and even more evidence of attempts to make contact with CRAPPER.  

A few sections of the buildings were off limits due to not being structurally sound. It is unknown if this was caused by natural elements or by battles between the light and the dark.
The tracks along the ceiling were used to move the large ammunition throughout the battery. While walking underneath them I heard an eerie voice crying “An upside-down roller-coaster! Look Ma! No hands!”
A locked portion of the fort that leads to underground bunkers. I am unsure what may remain behind the gates.
Behind these locked gates is sporting equipment that more adventure seeking ghosts have obviously stolen. – They lost everything when they died, don’t you think that includes athletic equipment?
Here is an example of a blind niche (mentioned earlier) that is used by the visually impaired spirits.
Another message received from the spiritual realm. We tried to assist with GPS coordinates, but seemed to only cause frustration.
The spirit showed CRAPPER their frustration by possessing this harmless bird. After possession, the bird swooped toward us with fury and anger on it’s little bird face. Eventually it flew down a dark corridor to find it’s master.
A lantern niche with iron gates to keep the spirits from blowing out the lanterns and then yelling “BOO” in the darkness.
This looks similar to the “THIS IS SPARTA!” hole from earlier, however this one has tiny bleachers for audiences of gnomes or fairies to watch the Spartan pep rally’s.
The shell room originally used for storage. Sadly, there are no remains of the sea shells that were stored here. We believe they were moved out of the fort to be used in a Grandma’s ocean themed garden.
The final contact. Upon leaving the shell room, we discovered that the spirits changed the name – we assumed it was another attempt at contact with CRAPPER. Upon this discovery we rapidly re-considered our decision to CRAPPER, and left before we shit ourselves.

DISCLAIMER – All CRAPPER “facts” are crap.

Fort Stevens State Park and Historical Site