Motoring Across America

With James "Alex" Alexander

with James "Alex" Alexander



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WEEK TWENTY: TALL MOUNTAINS AND BIG GRIZZLY

CONTENTS
Rearview Mirror - Summary of the past week: Snake River, Tetons, and Yellowstone
Pups Across America! - Halfway Truck Pups and More
Favorite Photograph - “Outta Here,” a shot of Bad Brad, Grizzly Bear
Camper’s Corner - Copperfield Campground, Oxbow, OR
Headlights - Our schedule as to where we will be heading: Rocky Mountain National Park



REARVIEW MIRROR
Start: Copperfield Campground, Oxbow, OR
Stop: Mountain View RV Park, Boise, ID
Stop: Teton Valley Campground, Victor, ID
Stop: Flagg Ranch Campground, Yellowstone National Park, WY

Sunday
To Hell and Back (Canyon, that is)
We awoke to a gorgeous morning, and by 7:00 a.m. the four of us were in the car heading backing into Hell’s Canyon on the Idaho side, making the same trip that we had taken on Thursday. Within five minutes we had seen a half dozen deer crossing the road in front of us. We stopped at the Sawpit Creek (the location where we had seen the Mountain Goat) and admired the stream and the small waterfall that fed it. By 8:00 we were at the end of the road, the Hell’s Canyon Visitor Center. Here we drove as far as we could down to the water, in hope of seeing the bears coming down to fish...no bears today, but we walked around soaking in the impressive scenery.



Another Goat Sighting
Just for giggles, on our way back we stopped once again at Sawpit Creek. It was almost the exact time of day of our goat sighting three days earlier. Although I felt almost no hope in seeing one again, I thought, why not? Walking around, we were just about to leave when Jan spotted a small white rectangle. She said, “That couldn’t be a goat, could it?” I replied, “No, can’t be,” as I looked through the viewfinder of my camera. My next response was, “Cripes, it is!” Our buddy, Monty, was back! (I assumed it had to be the same goat and this boy sure looked like a “Monty.”) I quickly set up as I did last time, and got off a few shots. I then picked up my tripod-mounted camera and started to slowly move up the rough terrain to get a little closer to my subject. Just as I was setting up, Monty moved out of view. I waited several minutes, made my way back down to the side of the road, when out he came again. I snapped a few more shots before he moved up the mountain and out of view. Way too cool.



Closed Highway
Just for fun we decided to drive up the closed highway that got washed out a few weeks before. After two miles the road was blocked with concrete barricades (I guess they were serious), so we stopped the car and walked through a two-foot opening out on the deserted road. Here we enjoyed the solitude and stopped to watch horses come down to the creek below for a drink.

Monday
One More Change in Plans
Our plan was to get in a full day of travel (which we eventually did), however, a knock on our coach door threw us a small curve. Come to find out, our right front tire on our tow car was flat. After thinking through our options, we: (1) Got out our air compressor and filled the flat tire and confirmed that it was only slowly leaking air; (2) Found, then sprayed our never-used rusted tire jack with WD 40; (3) Filled the mini-spare tire up the recommended 60 pounds (it had less than 20 in it); and (4) Drove separately to a flat-tire-changing place we had confirmed existed 20 miles from camp in Halfway.



This proved to be a wise decision as the tire held up fine to Halfway, and after only an hour wait, the tire was patched and we were on our way. Once on the road, things went smoothly as we motored along enjoying a just-about-perfect day.

Good Luck
In last week’s blog I reported an “engine warning” alarm and our remedial plan to get it checked out at a CAT dealer in Boise. However, after driving for over four hours with no warning light coming on, we decided to cancel the appointment and keep going. We will know later if this was a smart decision, saving us a day’s time and several hundred dollars, or a not-so-smart choice in which we pay the consequences down the road. Who knows?

We headed west back through Richland, and when we got to Baker City we turned southeast on I-84, continuing on by the towns of Pleasant Valley, Durkee, Huntington, and Ontario. Here we passed into Idaho, driving by Emmett, Middleton, Caldwell, and Nampa, before we stopped for a one-nighter at an RV park just off of interstate.

Thoughts on Oregon
We had traveled the state of Oregon for over three weeks, following the coast all the way up, then selectively checking out certain areas as we worked our way east. Overall, I just love the place—a huge variety of beautiful scenery (from Pacific beaches to mountains to high desert), nice people, moderate prices, and very camper-friendly every where we went. Highly recommended.



Tuesday
Up early and back on the road, continuing east on I-84, Jan driving the bus and me sitting in the copilot chair working on the computer. We rolled along past Mountain Home, Gooding, Jerome, and Twin Falls, stopping at Burley for fuel and the truck stop hot dog special (not too bad). Past Heyburn we picked up I-86 heading east by northeast. It was right then that the terrain changed and Jan commented that we had arrived in “No-Man’s Land.” I looked at the map and my hunch was correct, we were almost exactly 60 miles south of Craters of the Moon National Monument that we visited last year. I remember getting there as one of the most desolate areas I’d ever been through.

Up I-86 through American Falls and Chubbuck, at Pocatello we took I-15 north wheeling past Blackfoot and at Idaho Falls we turned off onto Highway 26 slowly making our way through the stoplights and 20 miles of road construction. After 45 minutes from our turnoff, we crossed the Snake River once again and connected with scenic Highway 31 at Swan Valley heading up and north, up and down the Caribou Mountains. Late afternoon we arrived at the hamlet of Victor, the last Idaho town before taking the Teton Pass over to Wyoming. Here we set up camp at Teton Valley Campground. After driving into the quaint town of Victor, we decided to extend our stay a day and do a little exploring on the west side of the Teton Mountains.



Wednesday
Scenic Road Trip
We turned north out of Victor on a fine summer’s morning, taking 33 through Driggs, then on to Tetonia. Here we exited onto 32, the Teton Scenic Byway, following it north, with the Tetons on our right, then west to Ashton across the farmlands of potatoes and wheat. At Ashton we turned right onto the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway (47) that headed east for a few miles, changed course to the northeast, then meandered to the northwest. Along the way we stopped at both Lower and Upper Mesa Falls, got out and enjoyed the waterscapes. At Island Park we stopped for lunch at an Inn with an outside eating area that viewed a lake. Here we turned around, backtracked our route, and ended back at camp mid-afternoon.



Thursday
Groomers
Jan had set up a grooming appointment to get Jerry’s nails clipped and the silver shaggy pup, Mitzy, trimmed. While she did that I got the coach ready and caught up on computer work.

Teton Pass
A little after 11:00 a.m., we headed east out of Victor, picking up Highway 22. We traveled over Teton Pass, the steep pass with 10 pecent grades that last year I chose not to travel. This year, with our 400 HP diesel pusher, we made the trip with no issues, Jan and our coach, BALY, have become one!

As Highway 22 entered Jackson, we took 89 north through the city, out past the airport and into Grand Teton National Park. All the while the Teton Mountains towered to our left, the tall sharp edges contrasted with the whites and grays of unmelted winter snows.

At the very northern tip of the park, and just two mile south of Yellowstone National Park, we pulled into our campground at the Flagg Ranch. Here we set up in a wooded site all by ourselves.

Grizzly!
Immediately outside the campground we turned our Element west on Grassy Lake Road. After a mile we crossed over Pole Cat Creek and the pavement turned to gravel. About two miles in we turned a corner, and there he was—grizzly bear. We pulled over to the side of the road and watched this handsome fellow stroll through a meadow. He knew we were there, but paid us no mind. A local in a pickup truck pulled up behind us. He said he thought by the size of the critter it was a bison, and he wasn’t going to stop! We stood on the road watching this mature, 400 pound-plus male (I later confirmed this with a park ranger) go about his business. After a couple minutes a kid on a motorcycle came flying up the road from the other direction. He didn’t see, or ignored, Jan’s flashing headlights and drove by the bear within fifteen feet, totally oblivious to the situation! It startled the bear, but only for an instance. Giving him plenty of space, we slowly drove down the road watching the bear meander through the meadow. Soon he was hidden, and I doubted we would see him again. As we drove along barely moving, out he popped, right along the road, he tore about an old log (we surmised he was looking for termites), and then he rubbed his chin up and down on a tree getting a good scratching. Next, he turned on to the road, slowly lumbering away. We followed him at a distance, but when he turned around to look at us, we turned around and left him to do whatever grizzlies do. We had spent over ten minutes with Bad Brad (by then we were on a first-name basis, naming him after Jan’s uncle Brad), thoroughly enjoying it all.



Confession
I’ve hiked a fair amount in isolated areas, often in wee hours, many times by myself, and I’ve never felt any concern for my safety. However, after our unexpected friendly encounter, I made a vow never to hike in bear (or other critter) country without bear spray. Although the odds of a bad encounter are small, the risks are quite big. I vowed to buy it the first opportunity we had. Wise decision, don’t you think?

Friday
The Big Yellowstone Trip
Before sunrise and in the glow of an almost full moon, the four of us left camp and headed north on the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Highway, traveling the two miles into Yellowstone, one of the most special places on the planet. We drove through the unattended south entrance continuing north, passing Lewis Lake on our left and slowly driving by Grant Village. Traffic was very light, the air was crisp, and the road level and smooth. We curved around the West Thumb and enjoyed the wisps of geyser steam gently filling the air from Yellowstone Lake. We circled around Bridge Bay and made our annual stop (well, our second year in a row) at the filling station at Fishing Bridge after an hour on the road. Here we made a restroom break and I bought a coffee to go.



In a Rut
Thirty feet from the store was the edge of a herd of about 50 bison. This is rutting season, so the air was full of the bellows of males closely following selected females, and the dust kicked up from young males challenging each other’s maleness.



Yellowstone River
We continued our journey north along the Yellowstone River, past the Mud Volcano and the Sulpher Caldron into the wide outstretched spaces of the Hayden Valley. We drove slowly, spotting lots of bison off in the distance. We continued on past the turnoffs to Artist Point and Upper and Lower Falls and on up to Canyon Village. We continued north at 9,000 to 10,000 feet taking the curvy highway up through Dunraven Pass. At Tower Roosevelt we turned east and were soon in the Lamar Valley, one of my favorite places in Yellowstone. For miles and miles, first the Lamar River then Soda Butte Creek paralleled the road, with fly fishermen busily casting almost the entire distance. Lamar Valley is where the wolf pack lives. I kept an eye out, but nothing this trip.



Bison Galore
All day long we had seen bison everywhere, but they were most abundant by far in the Lamar Valley. Oblivious for the most part of the humans viewing them, they meandered about minding their own business, which appeared to be eating, resting, sniffing, or just walking back and forth across the road for their own hidden enjoyment as they glanced at the traffic backup they caused. Along with these big beauties, we spotted antelope, a few elk, and a coyote running across a meadow. Good critter day.



Return Trip
About ten miles from reaching the northeast entrance gate (a little ways past Pebble Creek), we turned around to follow our earlier steps back. It had taken us about four hours to drive the 98 miles, and it was time to return. The tourist traffic was heavier, but nothing like I had feared. We took our time, stopping off at the campsites at both Fishing Bridge and Bridge Bay as possibilities for future trips in future years. At the Bridge Bay store I bought the bear spray I had committed to purchasing.

Back at camp we took the pups out for a nice walk down to the Snake River, then Jan and I stopped at the Visitor Center to report our grizzly sighting the day before. From there we headed south 25 miles into Grand Teton Nation Park, stopping at the Jackson Lake Lodge, one of the few places around purported to have reliable WiFi. In addition, the ATT signal was just strong enough to pick up voice messages, so here, overlooking a magnificent view of Jackson Lake backed up by the Teton Mountains, we reconnected our communication link with the world.

The rest of the day was quiet and short and the whole family was tired. Jan grilled zucchini, summer squash, and chicken over the campfire, and then it was off to bed.

Saturday
I awoke to a wonderfully quiet campground. The place had less than 20 percent occupancy, and there was no one camping within sight of us. For whatever reason, they had put us in an area all by ourselves. The only lights were the almost-full moon and the dim lights from the showers in the distance. I used the quiet time to catch up a little on this blog and do some needed picture sorting/editing.

Just at dawn, I took the Pups out down a trail that led to the Snake River. Under careful supervision, I let them run loose by the water and they enjoyed the chance to stretch their little legs.



Pole Cat Creek Hike
About 7:00 a.m. Jan and I walked across the road to the Pole Cat Creek Trailhead and headed off into the woods on a photo hike. Before we left, however, Jan practiced using our newly purchased bear spray (the canister is about half the size of a fire extinguisher), and then strapped it on her waist for easy access. Our plan was if Bad Brad or one of his relatives attacked, Jan would drop to her knees in the proper position, firing off a round of spray, if necessary, while I stood behind her taking photos documenting the event. It is a plan I hope we never have to execute, put we are ready, nonetheless. :’>>>.



It was just a gorgeous three-mile hike. Along with some ducks, we saw a coyote on the hunt and a hawk that made it very clear that it was his meadow we were walking through. Several times he flew directly overhead, and his warning cries echoed across the valley. We detoured onto an animal trail and walked down to a steaming creek—the water was hot enough to bathe in. About that time we heard thunder in the background. Minutes before, I was ready to shed my jacket, but as the temperature dropped considerably, I zipped it up a few inches instead. As the wind picked up and the skies darkened, we started back at a brisk pace, walking the last ten minutes in a refreshing rain. It was a wonderful trek.



Trip into Town
Late morning, Jan and I took the car 60 miles down to Jackson. It was a pleasant trip as we viewed the partially cloud-covered Tetons through intermittent rain. Our purpose was to meet our friends Esta and Brian, whom we had met last year at Yellowstone. We had a very nice time catching up on what had happened in our lives and what was planned, first chatting in their coach, then over lunch. They will stop by and visit on Sunday on their way up to West Yellowstone.

Quiet Afternoon
We drove back to camp in the rain taking the back road past Menors Ferry, Jenny Lake, and Signal Mountain before hooking up with the main drag that took us back to BALY and the Kids. Because of the weather, we had to cancel our evening campfire, and spent the evening editing pics, playing cards, and reading.

Another great day of another great week.

PUPS ACROSS AMERICA!
Take a look at Halfway Truck Pups and the latest of Jerry and Mitzy.





Pass the Word
Know other Pup Parents who might enjoy this blog? Please spread the word.

FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPH
My favorite this week is “Outta Here.” It was great fun spending time watching this big grizzly go about his day paying almost no attention to us.



CAMPER’S CORNER: Copperfield Campground, Oxbow, OR
This very reasonably priced campground is right on the Snake River bordering Oregon and Idaho. Shady, paved sites with water and electricity, and grass. Great place to base out of while exploring the Hells Canyon area. Highly recommended.

HEADLIGHTS
August 29 to August 30
Flagg Ranch

September 1 to 3?
Heading toward Estes Park

September 4 to 6
Mary’s Campground at Estes Park, CO

September 7 to 11
Heading east to Michigan

September 12 thru September 25
Kalamazoo, MI

September 26 to 27
Cincinnati, OH

September 28 thru October 2
Lexington, KY

October 4 thru 6
Asheville, NC?

October 7 & 8
Charleston, SC?

October 10 & 11
Savannah, GA

October 12 thru 14
Apopka, FL?

October 15
Return to Pine Island?

Going to be near? Look us up. Have some suggestions concerning places to see? We are open.
Comments

WEEK NINEEEN: FANCY SHEEP AND WILD GOATS

CONTENTS
Rearview Mirror - Summary of the past week: East Central Oregon and Snake River
Pups Across America! - Madeline and Working Pups
Favorite Photograph - Mouflon Momma
Camper’s Corner - Crooked River Ranch RV Park, Crooked River Ranch, OR
Headlights - Our schedule as to where we will be heading: East and South

REARVIEW MIRROR
Start: FMCA Conference at Deschutes County Fairgrounds, Redmond, OR
Stop: Crooked River Ranch RV Park, Crooked River Ranch, OR
Stop: Clyde Holliday State Park, Mt. Vernon, OR
Stop: Copperfield Campground, Oxbow, OR



Sunday
Short Trip
Mid-morning we packed up and followed Gary, Kathie, and Madeline in their motor home for the half-hour drive up 97, turning at Terrabonne and on to the Crooked River Ranch RV Park. Here we had a couple spacious, adjoining sites that looked out into the gorge. We spent the next few hours giving BALY and our car a thorough cleaning, getting rid of the dust of five days parked on gravel.




Madeline Shoot
Later I did an informal shoot of their too-cute pup Madeline, and then we walked the quarter mile to the local restaurant for dinner.

Shooting Star
Back from dinner we sat outside in the star-filled darkness enjoying the evening sights and sounds of critters in the distance. Jan brought us all seven years good luck by spotting a shooting star.

Monday
Steep Sheep
After a couple of cups of coffee, I was out the door before dawn to hike the trail down into the gorge. It was a nice hike in the cool morning with only the sounds of the running creek and the birds to keep me company. I took a few photos along the way, and after about 45 minutes I’d reached bottom, level with the water. I turned back, retracing my walk, this time climbing all the way. About two-thirds back up, I sensed something and turned to my right. Above me, no more than 30 feet away, was a momma Mouflon sheep and her almost full-grown lamb. We stared at each other as I realized that the lens currently on my camera was a 15mm fisheye—just about worthless for this type of shot, even at this close range. So not looking at the ovine pair, I slowly took off my backpack to change lenses all the while talking to momma, asking her to stay put for just a little while longer. When ready to shoot I found that they had moved up a little to higher ground but were within camera range. So I stood there taking pics as they grazed and slowly moved along their higher trail as I slowly paralleled their path back up topside.



As I reached the top of the gorge, I realized that I might be able to get above them if I wandered back along the top of the gorge. Almost back to camp, I had given up hope of seeing them again when coming around a bend there they were! Everybody was startled and they quickly scampered away.

Monday Morning Marketing Call
After breakfast and a shower, I had my weekly marketing call. All was well, so the call was brief. We packed up, said goodbye to Kathie, Gary, and Madeline, and headed back south toward Redmond. We took 126 East to Prineville where we stopped and bought provisions. Blueberries were still in season so we bought another quart for $3 (man, my antioxidant level must be off the charts. :’>>>). Next we headed east on 26 and drove through the Ochoco National Forest. The cloudless day was warm, only softened by a slight breeze.



Pain
About 40 miles along, we turned north for six miles on a narrow, twisty road that lead to the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument Painted Hills. As the name implies and our pictures prove, this area has some beautiful hills that looked as though they were hand-painted. Even in the harsh light of mid-day, the colors shown through. Recommended stop if you are anywhere close.



We got back on 26 East and in light traffic made our way through Mitchell, Dayville, and on to Mt. Vernon where we pulled into our roost, Clyde Holliday State Park.

Tuesday
Cowboy Breakfast
After a nice walk along the stream that borders the park, we loaded into the car and drove the two miles to the Silver Spur restaurant in Mt. Vernon. We both thoroughly enjoyed this cowboy hangout. I ordered the skillet breakfast with kielbasa—just wonderful. There was enough for another meal plus chunks of meat for treats for the Kids.

Cowboy Hats
From here it was west on 26 for 24 miles in the still-chilly morning. We stopped at the Dayville Mercantile that had everything from cowboy hats to charcoal grills. Speaking of cowboy hats, Grandma Jan bought a cowboy hat, kerchief, six shooters, and marshall’s badge for grandson Austin to go with the cowboy boots she got him last week. We stopped short of buying him the toy rifle, as I could see some poor bystanders (probably me) getting whacked with it.



Change in Direction
I’d researched a day trip that sounded quite interesting. However, after discussing it with the owner of the general store, she explained that most of my planned route was gravel roads with a big portion being only passable with a 4X4. So, I quickly calculated a friendlier route, and off we were driving five more miles east on 26 before heading north on 19. In just a short half-dozen miles, we were in another John Day Fossil Beds National Park location, surrounded by more painted hills. After stopping at the Visitor Center, we slowly wound our way through the park being almost the only people present. At Kimberly we picked up highway 402, which we took through the fields and among the hills to Monument, then Hamilton. At Long Creek, we headed south on 395 traveling through what’s left of Fox and on back to Mt. Vernon.

Critters
It was a good day for spotting and photographing critters because along with lots of cattle, horses, mules and dogs, we saw coyotes, quail, and deer along our way that I shot as drive-bys out the passenger window as Jan drove the car. Check out the pics.




Wednesday
I took the Pups out before dawn on the trail that parallels the creek. Within a couple of minutes we had stirred up two families of quail and watched as a herd of deer bounded away in front of us. I had a client meeting regarding some upcoming training, and after that successful call we were back on the road, heading east on 26. Within ten minutes we passed through the village of John Day with the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness on our right. At Prairie City we headed northeast along the scenic (code word for curvy) Highway 7. We passed through the Whitman forest and by Phillips Lake on into Baker City, the biggest town in the area. As we filled up with fuel at a truck stop, I asked the man behind the counter about a campground in the area. My plan was to stay here for a couple of days to see the recommended Sumpter Valley Dredge and take a scenic tour to the north and west. Normally, I’d have researched this ahead of time, but the usually excellent Verizon signal I used to access the Internet had been zilch the last few days. I checked the coverage map and Verizon shows no signal at all from central Oregon east and south and into parts of southwest Idaho. Therefore, when the man told me there was nothing around that would accommodate big rigs, I took his word for it and followed his recommendation to keep going east. So we got on Highway 86 and headed through Richland and Halfway and on to Oxbow at the edge of Idaho. We pulled into the gorgeous Copperfield Campground and set up.



Bummer
Signs along the highway told us that Highway 39 was closed due to flood damage. That was a shame as 39 heads deep into the western side of Hells Canyon and also connects with other roads that go north and west. Oh, well, there is enough beauty in the roads we could travel to fill a very large bucket.

Snake Drive
Late afternoon we took the Element north along the Snake River on the Oregon side, heading into Hells Canyon. The gravel road was curvy and narrow, but traffic was light and the scenery was wonderful. We ran across cattle in the road and lots of deer alongside it munching on the endless bushes chock full of blackberries.

Thursday
Down By The River
A little after dawn I walked the Pups down to the Snake River, which borders the campgrounds on two sides. Fly fishermen were already wading in the water, trying to catch some trout to go with their breakfast eggs and toast. Most of the tenters were waking up, starting fires, and making coffee to start the day of their next journeys.

Day Trip
A little after 7:00 a.m. the four of us were once again in the Element heading north along the Snake River. However, this time we were on a wider, paved road on the Idaho side of the water. The further into the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, the more majestic it got with steep cliffs getting steeper and fast-moving water moving faster. Early on we spotted a young fawn by the side of the road probably temporarily separated from its mother. After about ten miles, I asked Jan to stop the car so that I could get out and shoot a waterfall alongside the road.



Goat Sighting
As I was walking back to the car, Jan told me to turn around and look up. A few hundred feet above the waterfall stood the unmistakable white shape of a mountain goat munching on some bushes up high on the rocks. I slowly opened up my camera pack, added my 2X extender to my lens, set up my tripod, and then took some photos of our new white friend who was kind enough to wait for my set up. He stayed in place and continued eating with one eye keeping track of my actions and intent. Boy, was that fun!



Dam Canyon
We continued on, right and left around the curves, finally passing over the Hells Canyon Dam back into Oregon. A little further on we reached the end of the road (literally) at the Hells Canyon Visitor Center where we visited with the two ladies behind the counter. They were pleased we saw the mountain goat (somewhat rare, especially this time of year) and confirmed that black bear were around and also the elusive bighorn sheep. Therefore, on our return trip we strained both our necks and our eyes and carefully watched for both. The trip back was just as pretty as the trip in. Alas, we saw no bears or sheep, but a bald eagle posed for us in a tree, eye-level to our auto position. Wonderful trip.



Trouble Shooting
The day before, about 30 miles from our Oxbow campground, the “Engine Warning” indicator lit up on the dashboard. Jan slowed down a little and she closely monitored the gauges, which thankfully stayed within normal operating ranges. We decided to continue on, and we made it to camp no problem. However, warnings such as this should not be taken lightly, so after our return I pulled out the manuals, checked out the trouble code, and called the CAT helpline to confirm the appropriate next steps. The fault code was a possible injector problem and although not urgent, it was potentially serious, so I found a CAT dealer in the Boise area and booked an appointment for next Tuesday.

Laundry Time
Our coach is equipped with a combination washer/dryer that Jan uses most of the time. However, we had been camping without sewer on site the last few days, and hence couldn’t do laundry in the coach because of limited water storage. Therefore, a laundromat was called for. After a little research, I discovered that the closest laundromat was in Halfway, 19 miles away. Leaving the Pups in air conditioning, we heading back into Oregon. While the clothes were washing, Jan and I did a mini-road trip. We took a blacktop north to the village of Carson (four houses and nothing else). From here the path narrowed, blacktop turned to gravel/dirt, and the turns went from moderate to extreme. However, the forest route with the running stream several hundred feet below made it one picturesque trek. At Cornucopia (there was no sign of humanity at all, but there was a sign saying “Cornucopia,” and it was on the map so it must be a town :’>>>) we turned around and switched our clothes from washers to dryers. Enough excitement for one day.



Friday
Our morning driving trip was south on highway 71 past the curves around the Oxbow Dam and a dozen miles further over the Brownlee Dam. From here we left the canyons, moved up into the forests, then back down into farm country. At Cambridge, Idaho, we’d seen enough and turned around to re-trace our tracks. All along we’d been keeping a look out for critters, especially bears. Finally, about 15 miles from our camp, we spotted the rear of a black bear cub shoot across the road to our right and scamper up the hill and into deep cover. We waited for a few minutes, but as time passed we figured we’d seen the last of him. Just as we were about to move on, out he came, scooting back into the woods he had originally came from. The good news is that I caught him in my camera frame; the bad news is that the shots were not in focus. Oh, well, we had accomplished our objective. Now, if only we could find some bighorn sheep!

Saturday
Sheep Hunt
By 6:30 a.m. we were loaded into the car on our quest to see the elusive bighorn sheep. We drove down to Brownlee Dam, the place we were told had the best possibilities (in fact there is a sign by the road stating to watch for them, as they sometimes cross the road there to go down to the water); however, no luck today. Instead of turning into our campground, we headed north on the gravel road we had taken our first afternoon here at Oxbow. No sheep or bear, but plenty of deer alongside the road.

Lunch in the Big City
We needed staples, so it was the 19-mile trek back into Halfway. Since we were back in civilization, we stopped for fish and chips with sides of potato salad at a local restaurant before heading back to camp.

PUPS ACROSS AMERICA!
Take a look at cute Madeline and the pair of working pups we saw helping their Dad set up his irrigation system.



Pass the Word
Know other Pup Parents that might enjoy this blog? Please spread the word.

FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPH
My favorite this week is “Mouflon Momma.” It was a pleasure sharing my dawn hike with her and her lamb.



CAMPER’S CORNER: Crooked River Ranch RV Park, Crooked River Ranch, OR.
What a view you get from your RV site! Big, shady sites, close hiking, and within walking distance of restaurants. Highly recommended.
http://www.crookedriverranch.com/



Wonderful week!



HEADLIGHTS
August 22 to September 3?

September 4 to 6
Estes Park, CO

September 18 thru September 25
Kalamazoo, MI

September 26 to 27
Cincinnati, OH

September 28 thru October 2
Lexington, KY

October 4 thru 6
Asheville, NC?

October 7 & 8
Charleston, SC?

October 10 & 11
Savannah, GA

October 12 thru 14
Apopka, FL?

October 15
Return to Pine Island?

Going to be near? Look us up. Have some suggestions concerning places to see? We are open.
Comments

WEEK EIGHTEEN: WATERFALLS AND 2,000 MOTORHOMES

CONTENTS
Rearview Mirror - Summary of the past week: Central Oregon is cool and hot
Pups Across America! -Waiting Jerry”
Favorite Photograph - “Rooftop Sunrise”
Camper’s Corner - Mt. Hood Village RV Resort, Welches, OR
Headlights - Our schedule as to where we will be heading: East and North

REARVIEW MIRROR
Start: Mt. Hood Village RV Resort, Welches, OR
Stop: FMCA Conference at Deschutes County Fairgrounds, Redmond, OR



Sunday
Columbia River Gorge
Today we drove the other portion of the Infinity Loop that I mentioned Saturday in last week’s blog update. We drove west on 26 through Sandy and Gresham, and then took back roads north to Troutdale. Here we picked up I-84 East, and after five miles turned off at Corbett on Historic Highway 30. Soon we stopped at the Women’s Forum Overlook and admired the view of the Columbia River.



5 Mountain View...Not!
Next we drove up Larch Mountain Road for 14 miles to hopefully see the “Incredible 5 Mountain View” of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Jefferson. At each mile marker the fog got denser, so by the time we had parked at the summit and walked the 87 steps to the very peak, all we could see was each other. A little disappointing, but the Pups enjoyed the short walk.



Waterfalls
After returning down Larch Mountain Road, we again picked up Highway 30 East. In just a mile we stopped at the Crown Point Vista House (this is some cool building) for more views of the gorge and the river. Two-and-half miles more and we parked, and then walked down to the base of Latourell Falls—pretty waterfall in a gorgeous setting. A couple miles more and we were hiking the short mile down to Bridal Veil Falls, a trek well worth the effort. Of course I was taking pictures of the action. We stopped at Wahkeena Falls next, and then it was on to Multnomah Falls, the most photographed site in all of Oregon. Being noonish on a Sunday in near perfect weather, the place was packed. So instead of waiting for a parking spot, we crawled along and took some pics as we passed in front of this impressive hunk of flowing water.



Hood River
We were only about 30 miles from Hood River, so we decided to continue heading east on I-84 and have lunch there for the second day in a row. After lunch we picked up 35 South, drove by Odell and Mt. Hood, and then picked up 26 West for our return back home.

Monday
Marketing Call
Along with our normal business updates and discussions, Suzanne and David seemed to take great pleasure in teasing me about my hiking “directional misfortune” that I outlined in last week’s blog. David even had the audacity to suggest that I carry a loaf of bread every time I go out in the woods! Oh, the suffering of full disclosure. :’>>>

Mirror Lake Hike
After working until early afternoon, Jan and I drove ten miles to the Mirror Lake Trailhead right on Highway 26. Although a weekday, the trailhead parking lot was full, and we were fortunate to get the last space. We walked up and up, finally reaching the path that goes around the lake. We were rewarded with a lake vista with Mt. Hood looming in the background. Again, wonderful weather and we thoroughly enjoyed this 3.6-mile round trip.



Tuesday
Heading South
East on 26, through the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, through the town of Madras, we rolled along in the morning sunlight. Off to our right were the Cascade Mountains as we made our way down to Madras. Here we picked up 97 South on down to Redmond, completing our 106-mile trek at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds.

FMCA Convention
Our reason for going to Redmond was to attend FMCA’s (Family Motor Coach Association) 84th Annual Convention. Our goal was to learn more about a variety of topics related to motorcoaching. Since this was a national convention, I anticipated it would be big—maybe a couple hundred coaches or more in attendance. Man, was I surprised! Soon we were in a mile-long line of coaches waiting to be directed as to where to park. Later we found out there were two thousand coaches represented.

New Friends
As we were setting up, we met our neighbors, Gary and Kathie and their pup, Madeline. We had the chance to talk and socialize with our new friends throughout the convention. They live in the Portland area, are also boaters, and fun folks to be around.

Wednesday
Back to School
Walking to the sessions with clipboard, paper, and pen in hand felt a little like going back to school. Over the course of the convention, I attended sessions varying from Caterpillar engine maintenance, to the latest in RV satellite technology, to dry camping tips, to what it takes to go full-time. Jan also learned about RVing Atlantic Canada.

Parade of Homes
Also throughout the conference we had the chance to tour all types of coaches on display from the manufacturers. It was great to see the variety of floor plans, appliances, electronics, and so on. Got some great ideas on remodeling for the future.

Thursday
Rooftop Sunrise
Before dawn I set up my camera gear and then climbed up to the top of our motorcoach. It was chilly, but I wanted to attempt at least one sunrise photo, and this seemed the only place in which to do it. I got one shot I liked of the sunrise and one of the glow of a mountain in the distance.



Road Trip
After a morning of classroom, touring the exhibit hall, and kicking tires, we decided to leave the fairgrounds and take a ride. Plus, the Kids were acting bored and needed to get out. We just rode around Redmond for a while, checking out downtown, cruising through a few neighborhoods before getting some provisions and heading back to camp.



Friday
Navigational Planning
It was getting time to start planning the next leg or two of our journey, so I pulled out the maps (paper and electronic) and looked at our options. One big consideration was that things were heating up in central Oregon and lots of other areas in the West. So after an hour or so of pondering, my general plan was after the conference to head east to Idaho, and then keep going that way or veer to the north into Montana. We shall see....

Pup Trail
Since the Little Ones didn’t like the gravel we were parked on, I quit trying to coax them to do what they didn’t want to do and loaded them in the car to find a place more to their liking. I found a good spot a couple miles away, and we all had a good walk.



More Conference
Back at the fairgrounds, we took in a couple more seminars and toured a coach we both really liked. Yikes!

Road Trip
Mid-afternoon we loaded up the Little Ones and drove down to Bend, and then on to the quaint town of Sisters—mountain background, great scenery, very nice tour.

Potluck
Early evening a spur-of-the-moment potluck was assembled with our neighbors, and we feasted on pasta and meatloaf.

Saturday
This was the last day of the convention and things were slowly winding down. We took in two last seminars and did a last walk through the exhibits, buying a few “must-have” items. Mid-afternoon we drove in the Element east to the town of Prineville enjoying the view of the valley, fast-moving streams, and an old-fashioned village.

Wonderful week.

PUPS ACROSS AMERICA!
Check out this pic of “Waiting Jerry.”



Pass the Word
Know other Pup Parents who might enjoy this blog? Please spread the word.

FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPH
My favorite this week is “Rooftop Sunrise,” above.

CAMPER’S CORNER: Mt. Hood Village RV Resort, Welches, OR
What I really like about this resort is its location—perfect to explore the Mt. Hood area for car trips, and adjoining BLM land and its trail are a very short walk. In addition, the sites are shaded with full hook-ups. Good place to base out of to explore this beautiful area.

HEADLIGHTS
August 15 to September 3?

September 4 to 6
Estes Park, CO

September 18 thru September 25
Kalamazoo, MI

September 26 to 27
Cincinnati, OH

September 28 thru October 2
Lexington, KY

October 4 thru 6
Asheville, NC?

October 7 & 8
Charleston, SC?

October 10 & 11
Savannah, GA

October 12 thru 14
Apopka, FL?

October 15
Return to Pine Island?

Going to be near? Look us up. Have some suggestions concerning places to see? We are open.
Comments

WEEK SEVENTEEN: STATE PARKS AND CHAMPION ROSES

CONTENTS
Rearview Mirror - Summary of the past week: Beautiful Oregon
Pups Across America! - Peanut, Lucy, Dune Dogs and more
Favorite Photograph - Solo Rose
Travel Tools and Toys - Blogs
Camper’s Corner - Bluebell Campground, Siuslaw National Forest, Coos Bay, OR
Headlights - Our schedule as to where we will be heading: More Oregon

REARVIEW MIRROR
Start: Bluebell Campground, Siuslaw National Forest, Coos Bay, OR
Stop: Devil’s Lake State Park, Lincoln City, OR
Stop: Fort Stevens State Park, Hammond, OR
Stop: Stub Stewart State Park, Buxton, OR
Stop: Mt. Hood Village RV Resort, Welches, OR



Sunday
Seaside Stroll
After walking the Pups around our campground in the forest and over to the trail by the trout pond, we headed to the beach. Here we walked for four miles in the chilly morning, seeing only three people the whole time we were out. It was a blast watching both of the Little Ones run as hard as they could with legs a-churning and big smiles on their faces.

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Coasting
Mid-morning we pulled back onto 101 North and drove through Lakeside, Winchester Bay, Reedsport, Dunes City, Glenada, Florence, Yachats, Waldport, and Newport. The temperature was in the high 50s and sunny, but several times when we were close to big water the fog rolled in blocking the light, like the curtain coming down between acts in a play. As we came into the outskirts of Lincoln City, we saw the words that I had hoped for but never expected, “Vacancy” on the sign for Devil’s Lake State Park. We pulled into the park and were able to secure the longest site in the campground—one complete with shade, full hook-ups, and even cable!

After setting up we took a walk through the park among the other campers and down to Devil’s Lake. We then drove off a couple of miles to the supermarket for staples. Late afternoon we sat out by the campfire, first playing cards, then working on the computer, relaxing, and watching the kids and the pups walk by.



Monday
After a nice walk around the campground, I had my regular Monday morning marketing call—the business side all is under control.

Through the Big Cities
Sadly, the campground could not accommodate us for another day, so late morning we were back on 101 heading north through Neots, Otis, Neskowin, Cloverdale, Hebo, Beaver, and on to Tillamook were we stopped for a healthy lunch of foot-long hot dogs, curly fries, and diet root beers at the roadside A&W.

From there our northward trek continued, on through Bay City, Garibaldi, Bayview, Brighton, Wheeler, Nehalem, Mohler, Manzanita, Cannon City, Seaside, Gearhart, and Warrenton. Traffic was light, the weather mild, and the sights made it difficult to concentrate on the road.

Land of Lewis and Clark
We pulled into the Fort Stevens State Campground at the very northwestern tip of Oregon knowing that the campground was full, but always hopeful of a last minute vacancy. After waiting in line behind a grumpy old geezer, it was our turn. The ranger pulled up her screen of availability and up popped a cancellation from the last five minutes. Just as the day before, it was one of the biggest sites in their camp located in a gorgeous, well-shaded area. We were on a roll.

Historic Military Site
After a quick set up, we jumped in the car and drove the five minutes through the park to the old fort. Here is a historical war museum that gives an interesting military history of the fort starting with the civil war, including WWI and WWII. This was the only place in the U.S. that was shelled from a Japanese submarine in WWII, bombed, and had an incendiary balloon explosion that killed five people. In almost perfect weather we walked through the fort remains, hiked out to a jetty, and saw some old structures from the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Back at our campsite we took a quick dog stroll, then Jan had a fire going and we were playing gin rummy in the brisk evening before turning in.

Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
Fort Stevens State Park along with nine other parks and sites across Washington and Oregon make up the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park that chronicles the amazing story of the 1804 exploratory expedition.

Tuesday
We would have stayed here a couple more days, but instead of waiting to see what our chances might be of someone else canceling, the cloudy, misty days helped us decide to go in search of sunnier skies. After a three-mile hike with the Pups through the woods, it was back in BALY, making miles.

Decision Time
Before we left, however, we had a decision to make. We had spent the last 47 days either parked along or driving beside the Pacific Ocean from the southern edge of California to the northern tip of Oregon. It was very tempting to continue up the coast of Washington to complete the tour of the U.S. coast. However, we had a firm commitment to be in central Oregon in 10 days, and we didn’t want to do the coast drive just to do the coast drive. Hence, we thought we’d take our time and visit more of Oregon’s treasures further inland.

East and South
So we wound our way through Hammond and Warrenton, and at Astoria, we headed east for the first time since the beginning of our journey four-plus months ago. Heading east on Highway 30 we passed by Svensen, Knappa, and Westport. At Clatskanie we turned south on 47 and were immediately doing the old left-right, up-down routine that Jan had mastered on Highway One in California. However, contrary to the chilly, foggy, misty weather that we had gotten used to, we travelled in warm sunshine, thoroughly enjoying the trip through forests along the river and into farm country.



Stub Stewart State Park
We passed by Mist, Vernonia, and after another eight miles we ended up at L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park. Another beautiful Oregon State Park. After setting up, Jan and I drove to the town of Banks and had a wonderful Chinese lunch. Next door we bought groceries, then on our return to camp we stopped off and cut our own flowers for a soon-to-be-made bouquet.



Hike
There are trails all over this park, so we chose the closest one twenty feet from our campsite. We walked up a hill with a view overlooking the valley, then down into the woods circling back in a two-and-a-half mile loop. By mid-afternoon it was sunny and in the low 80s, so the dark of the woods combined with a constant breeze made for a pleasant jaunt away from the heat.

Grilled steaks
We sat outside enjoying the weather and later Jan grilled filet mignon steaks on the coals remaining from our campfire. The sites are large and the campground was only about one-third full, so we felt as if we had the whole park to ourselves.

Wednesday
Long Hike
After taking the Pups out early and doing business on the computer, I felt the urge to take a long hike. Loading up with camera, water, bug spray, pepper spray, energy bar, and a charged iPhone (coverage was good in the park), I was out the door. In addition, the park brochure showed the trails in detail so there was no worry of getting lost.



In the chilly mist I headed up Barberchair Trail, then turned left on Boomscooter Trail, then it was all uphill to Skidder Row, which made a half-mile loop complete with nice views of the Coast Range. It was there along this narrow path that the flowers seemed to jump out at me as I passed. The reds, golds, blues, and oranges were set off by a background of deep greens from the trees. I spent several minutes snapping pics in this area.

From there I connected with the Unfit Settlement View Trail, the trail that reaches the highest point in the park and supposedly has the best views (it got its name from an 1879 surveyor that deemed this area, “mountainous, unfit for settlement”). I was very much looking forward to this challenging section and the potential photographs that lay ahead. However, about a mile into this trek, I came upon a park sign that said, “Trail ahead not finished. Turnaround and go back the way you came.” After pondering this unplanned change of events for a few seconds, I decided to take the verbiage from the sign as a suggestion, not a command. Hence, after looking around to confirm no one was around, I continued onward along a path of sorts until it spilled out into a park service road. As I was searching for anything that looked like a trail, another hiker and his pup approached. We discussed the situation, consulted our maps, and both agreed that if we followed the service road for awhile it had to lead us to one of the other trails that we could use to guide us back—no brainer. Confident in our plan, Dennis, his pup, Peanut, and I strode off down the road at a brisk pace.

Lewis and Clark—Not!
After 90 minutes or so of not seeing anything but the road and the trees, we started to talk trail talk, “We are going south, don’t you think?” “Should be something coming up within the next quarter mile I’d guess.” Forty more minutes later, the conversation changed a tad, “Cripes, I’m not sure what direction we are walking in, are you?” “Think we are still in the park?” “I’m thinking of turning back if we don’t see anything in the next 15 minutes.” Finally, we heard a truck nearby as we came upon the intersection of Bacona and Grenzer, and I made the strategic decision to stay put and call in the calvary. I dialed up Jan, explained the situation, gave here the names of the two roads, asked her to find out where the devil we were, get directions from the rangers, then come get us. Pretty soon, up drove our dusty Element with my Sacagawea* behind the wheel. She confided that after driving so long she was just about ready to turn around. Come to find out, we were 7.5 miles outside the park heading in the wrong direction! Lewis and Clark—not! We dropped off our two new friends and went back to base camp where I had a shower then a well-deserved nap after a day of unplanned wilderness exploration.

Afternoon Drive
Later on, the Kids were bored so we piled into the car for an hour, doing back-country exploration by car. That was enough to blow the stink off of the two Little Ones, and we ended the day with cards, campfires, and chats.

*You may recall that Sacagewea played an important role in helping Lewis and Clark.

Thursday
Early Hike
After taking the Pups out early and doing a little work, Jan and I took the Pups out for a hike. I wanted to show Jan some of the pretty flowers from yesterday, so I retraced my steps and introduced Jan and the Kids to this picturesque trek called Skidder Row.



Flower Gardens
Portland is known as the City of Roses, so what would be more fitting than to visit their most spectacular rose garden? Leaving the Little Ones to fend for themselves in the air-conditioned coach, we drove the 33 miles to downtown Portland, into Washington Park, turning into the International Rose Test Garden. This place was just amazing, as our eyes darted from the shapes, sizes, colors, and smells of roses of all varieties. We wandered about shooting photos left and right, oohing and aahing our way among the manicured and terraced roses.







Spartan Rose
Jan’s grandfather was a horticulturalist, Michigan county agent, and proud graduate of Michigan State College (later Michigan State University). Jan has fond memories of her grandpa’s excitement when a new rose was developed at Michigan State and named “Spartan” in honor of MSU. Hence, she looked this rose up and determined its location. It had won the gold medal in 1955, and hence, we found this beauty in the Gold Medal Rose Garden.



Wandering Downtown Portland
After a couple hours of flower power, we were hungry. We pointed our Element east, found some parking and a great downtown restaurant for lunch. Then we wandered around down by the water, first watching kids play in a water spray, then strolling among the people and the pets.



Friday
Leaving Camp
After an early hike with the Kids, and a quick business call, we got BALY ready to roll and were soon on the next leg of our journey. We stopped to fuel up both vehicles, then headed east on Highway 26. Instead of going directly through Portland, we took OR 217 south, I-5 south, I-205 north, 212 east, and finally back on to US 22 for 32 miles. It was a wise choice, as the traffic was light and the roads were in good shape.

The Best Laid Plans...
In my role as navigator, I’d been doing quite a bit of research and had a plan worked out to stay in the Mt. Hood National Forest for the next few days. Although we had no reservation, it looked as though there would be ample camping sites available at several of the National Forest campgrounds around the village Government Camp on a first-come basis. As we pulled into Still Creek Campground we were met with really narrow turns that BALY could not pass through without catching branches. The three 40-foot sites that the computer had said were available were occupied, which was just as well, as none of them were over 20 feet long. Every site in the campground was full, and since this was our best hope of a forest stay, we turned to plan B. Jan pulled alongside of the highway, and I searched the computer for a public campground in the area. There appeared to be only one within 40 miles, so we back-tracked for 20 minutes before pulling into the Mt. Hood Village. This place has over 440 sites, but there was only one left in which we could fit! No hesitation here, we took it. We had been prepared to dry camp, but now we had the opposite, full hook-ups, cable, a pool, and a hot tub—all for just a few dollars more. :’>>>.



BLM Hike
After hooking up and having a nice lunch a couple miles away, we decided to take a walk and get our bearings. The nice thing is that the RV park adjoins Wildwood, a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) day park connected by a trail. We took that walk through the woods with the Little Ones checking out the scenery.

Saturday
Morning Hike
The morning was cool and cloudy as I walked the Pups along a short trail. After breakfast the four of us went hiking, first heading down along the Salmon River, then deeper into the woods along the wetlands. No one else was on the trails so we enjoyed the sights and smells in solitude.



Road Trip
We loaded up the Element with maps, camera equipment, water, and two Pups happy to get to go. My plan was to take the less-traveled portion of the “Infinity Loop,” as Oregon marketers call it, roughly the right one-half of the scenic Mt. Hood and Columbia River route. So we started off east on Highway 26, traveling through Rhododendron and then Zigzag. As we were coming around the mountain, Mt. Hood seemed to jump out at us, filling the sky with its ragged outlines of black and gray greatly contrasted by the bright whites of the snow on its peak. Quite impressive. Just past Government Camp we picked up Highway 35 heading first east then north as we passed through the right-hand side of the Mt. Hood Wilderness. When we reached the town of Mt. Hood, we took a country road southwest to Parkdale, then back north through Dee, all the way to the trendy town of Hood River, right on the Columbia River. Here we walked through the quaint downtown and stopped at a brew pub for fish and chips and fish tacos. Excellent meal.

A Change of Scenery
Heading east on Highway 30, we pulled into a rest stop to let the Little Ones stretch their legs. Man, there were pups all over the place. Here I captured a few shots for the blog, the part wolf pup Malachi along with Chip and Queen. After this photo break, we were back motoring along to the town of The Dalles. Here we changed roads, going south on 197, but we also changed geographies—it was like we were now in the farm country of western North Dakota. Our view was no longer forests and streams but wheat fields and farmsteads. It was a great change of pace, and we thoroughly enjoyed the trip down to Dufur and Tygh Valley. I somehow missed my planned turn to Wamic, so we continued south on 197 until we picked up 216 and pointed in a westerly direction. Driving by Wapinita and Pine Grove, we connected again with Highway 26 and retraced our first steps of earlier in the day.



Wonderful week.

PUPS ACROSS AMERICA!
Lots of nice pups this week, but my sentimental attachment goes out to my hiking buddy Peanut.



Pass the Word
Know other Pup Parents that might enjoy this blog? Please spread the word.

FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPH
My favorite this week is “Solo Rose.”



TRAVEL TOOLS AND TOYS: Blogs
I started my travel blog because I wanted to have recorded memories of our encounters as we motored across America. From past experience I knew that without some sort of written account after a few years (even a few months or even weeks) experiences become blurred, dates tangled, and memories forgotten. In addition, knowing that people will be reading it forces me to give completeness to my thoughts and attempt to achieve some level of quality. Finally, knowing that a summary is due each week helps to keep one from procrastinating and keeping things up to date.

To help deal with the technical aspects, I’ve enlisted the help of Suzanne from PagePerfect Creative to customize the blog, build the Web site, and support the management of keeping it up and running. If you want professional help for your business or personal Web needs, I’d highly recommend them. Just a pleasure to work with. www.pageperfectcreative.com

CAMPER’S CORNER: Bluebell Campground, Siuslaw National Forest, Coos Bay, OR
Forest setting and flat paved sites that are able to accommodate big rigs. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring, and the campground is within short walking distance to the beach and to a pond stocked with rainbow trout. OK Verizon signal, but a weak AT&T signal. It’s close to Coos Bay if you need provisions. If you are set up to dry camp this is a great place to stay. Highly Recommended. http://www.recreation.gov/camping/Bluebill_Campground_Or/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=75473&topTabIndex=CampingSpot

HEADLIGHTS
August 8 and 9
Mt. Hood Village RV Resort, Welches, OR

August 10 thru 14
Attend the FMCA Convention in Redmond, OR

August 15 to 17
Crater Lake National Park?

September 4 to 6
Estes Park, CO

September 18 thru September 25
Kalamazoo, MI

September 26 to 27
Cincinnati, OH

September 28 thru October 2
Lexington, KY

October 4 thru 6
Asheville, NC?

October 7 & 8
Charleston, SC?

October 10 & 11
Savannah, GA

October 12 thru 14
Apopka, FL?

October 15
Return to Pine Island?

Going to be near? Look us up. Have some suggestions concerning places to see? We are open.
Comments

WEEK SIXTEEN: CLASSIC CARS AND ANCIENT FORESTS

CONTENTS
Rearview Mirror - Summary of the past week
Pups Across America! - Ruger and Calvin
Favorite Photograph - Fawn
Camper’s Corner - Ancient Redwoods Resort, Redcrest, CA
Headlights - Our schedule as to where we will be heading: Up the Oregon Coast

REARVIEW MIRROR
Start: Ancient Redwoods Resort, Redcrest, CA
Stop: Redwoods RV Park, Crescent City, CA
Stop: Bluebell Campground, Siuslaw National Forest, Coos Bay, OR



Sunday
Car Show
Jan and I took the car north on Highway 101 about fifteen minutes to the town of Fortuna to participate in the final day of their annual AutoXpo. The car show (700 entrants) had wrapped up on Saturday, but several of the cool cars were still tooling around town. We took in the demonstration of early nineteenth century engines that were powering everything from saws to clothes washers to beer can crushers. We reviewed all the antique tractors aligned in straight rows, and toured the booths that filled the park selling a range of items from locally hand crafted goods of all kinds to sunglasses made in China. Jan had her try at powering the bicycle saw, and several old-timers really enjoyed clueing her in on how the old equipment worked. We shared a tritip sandwich, split a root beer float and bought enough hot sauce to last us till 2017. The big event, though, was the antique tractor pull. We watched from the grandstands as some really old tractors demonstrated their prowess. Really a fun event. Recommended. www.redwoodautoxpo.com







Victorian Ferndale
About ten miles from Fortuna, next to nowhere is the really interesting town of Ferndale. Just about every building is a well-kept, freshly painted Victorian dwelling, and it is a visual pleasure to stroll the streets and admire the picturesque structures adorned by gardens of bright flowers. We stopped and had the mango wings for a snack at the Victorian Inn along with an Eel River Ale. If you are within a hundred miles or so, check this town out. Highly recommended. www.victorianferndale.com





Monday
In the morning I worked while Jan did laundry and picked a quart of blackberries right from our park. Later in the day we met a couple of Texas RV’ers staying in our campground, Betty and John, along with their 12-year-old chocolate labrador, Ruger. We chatted for awhile and I took a few pics of this handsome boy.

Tuesday
Rockefeller Forest Hike
After morning chores, Jan and I drove the few miles to Rockefeller Forest. We parked at a trailhead and walked for an hour and a half among the giant trees through the solitude of the forest, along the river, and through the ever-changing fog and sunshine. Of course I took some photos in an attempt to capture at least part of the beauty of this majestic setting.



Shelter Cove
Returning back to camp we felt adventurous and ready for another day trip. We took the Avenue of the Giant to 101 South and breezed down to Garberville in 30 minutes. There we took an hour trip on the narrow, curvy, steep, rough 23-mile Briceland Thorne Road. Beautiful scenery once again in an ongoing pattern of fog then sunshine.



Black-Tailed Deer
Just as we reached our destination, the town of Shelter Cove, we came upon a momma black-tailed deer and her fawn. Both were concentrating on eating the big leaves off of the bushes on the side of the road and were almost oblivious to our stopping and my taking pictures.



Black Beach
Next we parked and walked the quarter mile down to a black beach for a half hour stroll. A constant offshore breeze propelled the waves that lightly roared as we enjoyed this (almost) desolate stretch.



Lighthouse Stroll
We made one more stop in Shelter Cove, and that was down by the lighthouse. Here we took the Pups down onto the rocky shore to sniff and look at the sea lions. If you like being off the beaten path, Shelter Cove is the place for you. Recommended.

Cocktails at Betty’s
We ended the day with cocktails down at Betty and John’s. Great ending to a great day.

Wednesday
Avenue of the Giants Morning Walks
Every day since we stopped here, I’ve started each day taking the Pups out of camp and on to the Avenue of Giants. Early morning there was hardly any traffic, so we enjoyed the stroll among the big trees, alone in our thoughts.



Morning Work
While I did business on the computer, Jan washed the coach. This was a much-needed task after weeks along the ocean. Mid-day we drove to Scotia, as I had a phone call and this was the nearest location with an AT&T signal. As I did business, Jan picked up some provisions.

Potluck
Late afternoon, Betty, John, and Ruger, Mary, Henry, and Calvin, along with the four of us got together for a potluck dinner. Jan prepared grilled lemon pepper turkey tenderloin, barbecued short ribs with Crazy Charlie’s Cajun Sauce (from the tractor pull), a round loaf of crusted bread, and a fresh blackberry walnut blue cheese salad with nasturtium florets. Betty brought a trio of baked beans, sauerkraut, and stuffing. Mary furnished grilled small potatoes and wine served in titanium enriched wine glasses, watermelon, and chocolates. We sat outside in perfect weather and devoured this feast. After this meal the six of us plus the pups moved into Mary and Henry’s coach were we had Jamieson’s Irish Whisky and 1800 Gold Tequila for night caps, while we watched a Wanda Sykes comedy special on their HD flat screen the size of the Monterey Aquarium. Wonderful evening.



Humboldt County
I’d never really heard much about this area before our visit, but it sure is a wonderful place. Beautiful scenery, interesting places to visit, populated with great people. Plan on staying a week. Highly recommended.

Thursday
In the morning we said farewell to our new friends and made ready for the next leg of our journey. Departing our park late morning, we turned north onto the Avenue of Giants, merging after a few miles onto 101 North. We drove by Scotia, Rio Dell, Fortuna, Loleta, Fields Landing, and Bayview. We slowly made our way through Eureka, then passed by Arcata, Trinidad, Orick, and Klamath. Seven miles north of Crescent City we pulled into our resting place, Redwoods RV Park. As the name implies, we were parked under a canopy formed by medium, large, and very large redwoods. Very nice campground with friendly people.

Friday
Road Trip
After morning chores, the four of us hopped into the car and drove north on Highway 101 for fifteen minutes and stopped just over the state line at the Oregon welcome center. Here we picked up the required state map of Oregon as well as camping information and other tourist publications for later study in preparation for getting the most of our visit to this beautiful state.

Beach Run
Next we took the Pups for a walk along the Pacific on the beach directly behind the welcome center. We had the beach to ourselves, so we let the Pups run while I took action shots of the Kids running full blast.



Redwood National Park Scenic Drive #1
Just south of Crescent City we turned northeast on Howland Hill Road which passes through first the national park and then Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. They recommend no RVs and their recommendation is valid—the road is mainly one- to one-and-a-half lane gravel, and there are several places where BALY, our motorcoach, could not traverse no matter what. You heard me ooh and aah earlier about the redwoods down in Humboldt County, but I think on average these were bigger. Just a gorgeous drive, but after ten miles it was good to pick up Highway 199 and loop back toward Crescent City. After filling up with gas and eating at a local diner, we were back in our Element heading for our next exploration.



Redwood National Park Scenic Drive #2
South on 101 fifteen miles or so we turned west on Requa Road heading for the coast. Another gorgeous eight-mile drive up into the hills overlooking the Pacific. At a pull-off we enjoyed a great view of the ocean and a lagoon, then I took off down a trail heading for the beach below. Gorgeous hike on the Klamath Coastal Trail, half mile down and two miles back up.

Saturday
Northbound
Mid-morning we were back heading north on 101 leaving California a few miles north of Smith River. Interestingly to us, we had been in California since June 12, about six weeks!

Oregon
Once into Oregon we drove through Brookings and Pistol River. At Gold Beach we just escaped being blocked in for a 10:30 parade. We continued up along the coast through Wedderburn, Ophir, Sixes, Bandon, and Coos Bay, the biggest town on the Oregon coast.

Forest Camping
Two miles north of downtown, we turned west on Horsfall Dunes and Beach Road, entering the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, and soon we were among the dunes and trees of Bluebell Campground, a part of the Siuslaw National Forest. We found a large pull-through site shaded with trees and prepared to dry camp.

Exploration Walk
It was a pleasant sunny day in the low 60s. After lunch, we walked the Pups to a horse campgrounds a quarter mile away, and then to the ocean another quarter mile past that. Here we let the Pups run on the huge beach, with the pounding waves so loud you had to shout to be heard.

Evening Campfire
We wound down the day with another walk, our typical three games of gin rummy, and a campfire. Tough to beat either the day or the week.

PUPS ACROSS AMERICA!
We took lots of shots of lots of pups during the week, but my two favorites are Ruger and Calvin.





Pass the Word
Know other Pup Parents that might enjoy this blog? Please spread the word.

FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPH
My favorite this week is “Fawn.” This baby and his/her mother stood nonchalantly by the side of the road in Shelter Cove while I shot away.



CAMPERS’ CORNER: Ancient Redwoods Resort, Redcrest, CA
Strategically located right on the Avenue of the Giants in the Humboldt Redwood State Park, this is a great place to set up base to see all the many sights of Humboldt County. Manned by a very friendly, helpful staff, this new RV park is super clean, easy to maneuver for big rigs, and has full hook-ups. Another thing that I especially like is that there are not three pages of rules and “don’t do’s” found in so many parks. If you are going to spend time in this wonderful area, here is the place to stay. Highly recommended. www.ancientredwoods.net

HEADLIGHTS
August 1 thru 9
Up the Oregon Coast

August 10 thru 14
Attend the FMCA Convention in Redmond, OR

August 15 to 17
Crater Lake National Park?

September 4 to 6
Rocky Mountain National Park?

September 18 thru September 25
Kalamazoo, MI

September 26 to 27
Cincinnati, OH

September 28 thru October 2
Lexington, KY

October 4 thru 6
Asheville, NC?

October 7 & 8
Charleston, SC?

October 10 & 11
Savannah, GA

October 12 thru 14
Apopka, FL?

October 15
Return to Pine Island?

Going to be near? Look us up. Have some suggestions concerning places to see? We are open.
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