The Big Truck ClusterTr**k

Don’t buy a vehicle out of state, but if you do, handle the registration yourself.

Back in July I bought a new 5th wheel RV and a 2012 Ford F350 diesel truck to tow it. I was in Bend Oregon and my legal residence at the time was Arizona, though I don’t really live anywhere in particular. Over the years I’ve bought, well I don’t even know how many vehicles, but I do know registration was never a thing I needed to worry about, until now.

Both the RV dealer and the Ford dealer told me they’d process the registration for me. Four weeks later I got a letter from each with a refund of my sales tax and registration fee and a note that said they decided not to do the registration. WTF!? I’m driving around with no registration.

At least the RV dealer sent me the title so I could register the 5th wheel. When I got to South Dakota I changed my residence and registered the 5th wheel.

Not so with the Ford. The dealer said they sent the title to the DMV. Looking back, that should have been a clue, since Arizona has a MVD not a DMV, but of course I didn’t pick up on that. I tried to register the truck in Arizona by mail (can’t do new registration online) and after 7 weeks, MVD sent me a letter saying they don’t have my title. It took the Ford dealer another 2 weeks to figure out that they’d sent the title to an auto title agency in Phoenix and I’d have to go there in person to get it. At this point I’ve driven through Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah and Nevada with no plates on the truck. 14 weeks stressing out over driving, thinking I’m going to wind up with the truck impounded.

Off to Phoenix. The title agency is only a block from the UPS store that handles my mail. They would have given me the title and I could have sent it in to South Dakota saving some money on sales tax and registration, but I couldn’t take it any more so I registered the truck in Arizona and walked out with a license plate. Now I get to tell the story of the vehicle registration clustertr**k to everyone who wanders up wondering why my plates are from different states :).

The Bends

Enroute to Seattle and Port Townsend, I arrived in Bend, Oregon with Leda, as RV problems escalated. Stuck again. Yes, it could be fixed, but it might take years, cost millions of dollars and thousands of lives.

Like being locked in a decompression chamber for the bends. Instead, I went for broke 🙂 and traded and sold items to buy a new 5th Wheel and a big ass truck to tow it.

(stock photo) My new RV is a 2018 Fox Mountain 255 RKS 5th Wheel. I’ll shoot some better shots soon, but right now we’re camped in dense woods.

To pull it I purchased a 2012 Ford F-350 longbed diesel. I took delivery of both on July 6th.

That means SOA, trailer 3, and a lot of other items had to go, many via ebay. So at least for 12 more days, until the sales close and items are picked up, we’re sort of stuck in Bend. Luckily it’s a really nice place with plenty to do.

Woman holding the fastest bird on earth - the peregrine falcon
A handler answers questions about the Peregrine Falcon


Catch the end as a Peregrine Falcon makes a 100+ MPH pass and snatches a bait the handler is trying to keep from her.

snow capped mountains behind desolate fields of lava rock
Mount Bachelor (left) and The Sisters (right) still covered in snow in mid July behind the Newbury lava fields
Shiny glowing slime on the lava in the cave
Iridescent bacteria on the walls of the lava tube cave near Bend, Oregon. A two mile hike in total darkness.
Water rushing toward Benham Falls
Water rushing toward Benham Falls

So, being here for a while won’t be too bad, but then it’s on to Seattle and Port Townsend.

Run for the Border

Gotta get to Canada Before …

er, before … well, I don’t know. Maybe I need a taco before they run out.

Now, I know it doesn’t sound like much of a run – two weeks for about 830 miles, but it’s RV time. You might make the drive in a day or two by car. In the RV time slows down and the journey is the thing. This one was fast, definitely a run.

I left Reno on May 29th and went to Susanville, California on the recommendation of my good friend Ray. This place had plenty of small town charm. My neighbor had a BMW RL1200 and knew the area really well which led to some great rides through the mountains.

Main Street, downtown Susanville, California
Main Street, downtown Susanville, California
The Susanville City Hall (left) and the Masonic Temple. Downtown Susanville, California.
The Susanville City Hall (left) and the Masonic Temple. Downtown Susanville, California.
Antelope Lake
Antelope Lake

Ray said the drive north out of Susanville was really something – it did not disappoint. I really need a dash cam. As you’re winding through the tall pines, every once in a while you come to a a little gap and all of the sudden there’s

Mount Shasta
All of the sudden there’s this giant bright, bright white mountain, overwhelming everything else, and then it’s gone

I spent a few days in Mount Shasta City at the foot of the dominating peak. All the locals know it’s an active volcano. They all know the geologists say it will likely erupt again (in the next 200 years). And they know the lahar and pyroclastic flow could relegate Mount St. Helens’ eruption to footnote status. Still, there they are, in the foothills, captivated by the majestic peak.

Roadside Oregon

A short mountain ride from Gold Hill, Oregon is the Oregon Vortex roadside attraction where people and things appear to get taller or shorter depending on where they are standing. Now the science guy in me wanted to chuckle, but I’ve got to admit the outdoor demonstrations were pretty impressive. I’d also note that my phone’s GPS could not get a fix within 2 miles of this spot (queue Twilight Zone music).

Which one is taller?  The ground is level, checked by a carpenter's level and I checked it with my phone also.
Which one is taller? The ground is level, checked by a carpenter’s level and I checked it with my phone also.
The ground really is level.
The ground really is level.

Speaking of Twilight Zone

Two days later, with a stop to see one of my favorite authors, Neil Stephenson, speak, I was at the border – Port Angeles, Washington.

Port Angeles is a small city (pop. ~19,000) across the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Victoria, British Columbia. It does have quite a bit of charm.

Downtown Port Angeles
Downtown Port Angeles
Port Book and News (movie location) Port Angeles
Port Book and News (movie location) Port Angeles
Bella Italia (movie location) Port Angeles
Bella Italia (movie location) Port Angeles

Victoria

6/16 – Victoria, BC. You get to Victoria by ferry – it’s on Vancouver Island and there are no bridges. Taking the RV across was prohibitively expensive. I also decided not to take the motorcycle across since I still don’t have a reliable GPS I can use offline. So, I boarded Keira for a few days and took the ferry to Canada.

The MV Coho, loading in Port Angeles for trip to Victoria, BC, Canada
The MV Coho, loading in Port Angeles for trip to Victoria, BC, Canada
Port Angeles from the ferry to Victoria
Port Angeles from the ferry to Victoria
Approaching Victoria
Approaching Victoria
Victoria Harbor
Victoria Harbor
BC Parliament
BC Parliament

Victoria is a maze of twisty little two lane streets, very densely populated, vibrant and cosmopolitan like New York, but it’s uber clean and the people are way nicer. It is the capital of the province and a hot spot for tech and design professionals.


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And Now …

It’s back to the desert.

Brookings Oregon

Brookings is a mid sized town (population~13k) at the southern edge of the Oregon coast.  It’s a working shipping harbor, fishing center (salmon seems to be the local dish) and a tourist spot.  I stayed at a park south of the harbor along the pacific coast.

Brookings Campground
Brookings Campground

Kind of a week of minor irritations. First, I lost a mounting screw for front brake handle on Scooter of Anarchy somewhere in the drive between Coos Bay and Brookings.  Non standard, of course, not that there is a decent hardware store, auto parts store or Suzuki dealer within 50 miles.  I ordered an eight dollar screw and had it shipped FedEx overnight for three times that much. It shipped that day and arrived four days later. Overnight is a whole different time scale 200 miles from a small city.

This kept me within walking distance for a while, mostly just typical tourist stuff – Chinese made shark teeth, talking salmons, carved driftwood, and chowder houses. They must import their clams since the local shell fish are still not safe to eat after the oil spill. More interesting, there are a couple of beached fishing boats from the 2011 tsunami (yes, the Japan tsunami that led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster caused 8 foot tidal waves here).  I wasn’t nearly close enough for good photos, however.

Next, I had a few motorhome issues. The water heater went out, one of the furnace motors froze up and my windshield wipers went out. I found a local mobile RV repair service and for less that $150 got a new furnace motor and water heater thermostat installed in a driving rain storm. Not bad considering I’d just paid $33 for a screw.  The wipers need a special order Freightliner switch that he wasn’t an authorized dealer for, so this is going to have to wait until I’m in a town with a Freightliner service center.

We rounded out the week with a three day mega storm covering an area from Vancouver down to northern California, featuring wind gusts to 60 mph, and rain so hard they were calling it “very heavy rain,” in Oregon. Minor flooding knocked out the sewers in Brookings and the wind created a few short power outages neither of which were a biggy for me.

In the storm, I finished reading This Explains Everything: 150 Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works (4 stars), and Snow Crash (also 4 stars).

I’ll be heading south after the government shuts down Tuesday.

Wrapping up Coos Bay

Vexed sailors cursed the rain, for which poor shepherds prayed in vain. –Edmund Waller

The last five days in Coos Bay were a series long stretches of rain and high wind followed by a few hours of sun and warm breeze. Keira and I could get to the beach every day and the ocean was wild with giant waves crashing as far back as the eyes could see. Rides into Charleston, Coos Bay and North Bend, however were treacherous. I don’t have rain gear for Scooter of Anarchy, so my attempt to get a picture of a freighter going through the draw bridge was a soaked in mud fail.

My paws are wet and my tongue is sandy.
My paws are wet and my tongue is sandy.
Coos Bay: Freighter departs in fog and rough seas.
Coos Bay: Freighter departs in fog and rough seas.

During the storms I’ve been reading The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don’t, This Explains Everything: 150 Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works, and Snow Crash.

Tomorrow I’m heading south to Brookings, Oregon for a week.

Coos Bay Oregon

Leaving Trinidad

I woke Tuesday in an all out thunderstorm. I needed to unplug and go – my stay is up. Keira refuses to go outside and do her business. From the online weather, the storm looks like it will last until evening, but it’s also very local, so I decided I might as well go now – not getting better any time soon. I’m glad I loaded up the bike last night, not so glad I didn’t disconnect the electrical. Obviously, I did not kill myself working with the shore power in the downpour.

About 15 minutes north on the 101 my windshield wipers stopped working, not completely – they would still cycle once with the washer button, but would not keep wiping in any other setting. Just as I was about to pull over and wait out the storm the rain stopped and gave way to a light fog. The rest of the drive was beautiful forest, small towns, ocean views.

Coos Bay

I’ll be spending the next week at an RV park near Coos Bay, Oregon, with a 50 foot walk to the beach.

Beach adjacent to Oceanside RV Park, Coos Bay, Oregon
Beach adjacent to Oceanside RV Park, Coos Bay, Oregon