I was in my typical rage at not leaving as early
as I thought we should but after a few miles my heart rate and blood
pressure returned to normal and I started communicating with my loved
one; “Would you be up for a little walk?”
“Are you thinking about going to the waterfall?”
We left highway 20 just past Chamberlain Creek
and drove the six or so miles of logging road up to the trail head,
parked, then hiked down to the waterfall.
Beautiful! We checked out the redwood grove
near the falls and picked up the trash left over from the Memorial Day
visitors. Back up the trail to the Vanagon and on the road
again. We have a month and a half of vacation and visit before
us! A beautiful day and warming. 99.7 degrees when we stop
for iced Mochas at Granzellas in Williams and 101.2 during the stop
and go traffic through Yuba City/Marysville. Gas up.
$2.21.9, the cheapest I have seen in a while. Regular in Fort
Bragg the day before was $2.29.9.
In the Central Valley I spot my first "goofy
shit" of the trip. Last year during our summer break I decided
to be sure to stop and photograph any oddity that caught my attention.
Then, the theme was rampant red, white, and blue painted
vehicles, tires and fences. Not so much of that this year, folks
don't seem so hot for war anymore, but still... American ingenuity
Out of the Central Valley and up into the Sierras
to Nevada City; I am hoping to find a campsite in the pines at a high
enough elevation to be somewhat cooler. Highway 20 goes through
National Forest lands and we start looking for wee side roads.
We spot one, take it, and drive into the woods. Things are
looking good and we find a nice spot. I get out and discover
there is a motor home camped just around the bend. We back out
and try a different way. Again we find a nice spot and when I
get out I hear a small generator running. Sure enough, another
motor home and this one not only has a generator running, they have a
satellite dish! Must be watching TV! To heck with that!
We return to the highway and continue on. I spot a rut off the
other side of the highway and take it. Into the woods we go.
Soon we enter a sunny area near the edge of a former clear-cut.
Grassy, level, no neighbors.
Perfect! Lots of bird song; a few
mosquitoes for my electronic, "tennis racket", bug zapper!! 65
degrees sleeping temperature during the night!
After a leisurely get-up, breakfast, dish
washing, book reading and some computer time checking the route via my
DeLorme Topo USA software, we return to highway 20, continue to Reno
via I-80, then turn north on 395. Piece of cake!
Miles of boring freeway but eventually it narrows
down to a two lane road and items of interest begin to show up.
If I ever decide to move
someplace...this place would be...er...likely
Further on we see evidence of rail road track
removal. It first caught my attention when I saw a guy with a
road grader beside the highway and he obviously wasn't part of a
highway crew; no Cal Trans markings, no amber flashing lights. I
notice the former right-of-way is freshly graded! Miles and miles of
it. One town had a wonderful old water tank beside the grade but
the spout was missing. We reach Alturas and there is a big yard
south of town with rail road ties stacked as high as warehouses and
rows and rows of steel rails. All being salvaged. There
are miles of rolling stock; grain cars and flat beds.
We arrive at, and drive alongside, Goose lake, a
huge lake that straddles the California and Oregon border We
notice a sign that says, Historical Site, turn left. We do and
drive down towards the lake and towards a huge saw dust burner.
We wonder why there is a big saw dust burner when there are no trees.
We get closer and come upon two boats beached high on the hillside
beside a sign. Reading the sign we discover the boats were used to
pull rafts of logs across the lake from the forested west side of the
lake to the lumber mill on the east side. The sign said it took
five hours for a boat to pull a raft of logs across!! The mill
closed in 1959, the same year the mill closed in Greenwood/Elk.
Most likely the railroad being salvaged came to this mill once upon a
time. The end of an era.
We start thinking about finding our place for the
night. There is an item on my Topo USA map called Chandler State
Park. When we arrive it turns out to be a "Day Use Only" picnic
area. Oh well. Further on we try a section of former road
but it is too close to the highway. Onward. We come out
into more open valleys and ranch land, leaving the forested land
behind. It looks like we are pretty well skunked. Then
Lake Abert appears. Big lake. Almost as big as Goose lake.
Along the east side of the lake is Abert ridge. The highway runs
between the high bluff and the lake. After a while we find a
wide pull-out on the lake side of the highway. We check it out
and find a single gravel track going down towards the lake. We
drive down a ways, then walk further to check it out. Perfect!
Some flies and mosquitoes but not too bad, a warm wind keeps the bugs
busy. Lots of shore birds. I fly my electric flying wing
in the late afternoon a couple of times. We enjoy a big coyote sing in
the early evening from across the lake. Geese honking all night
long! The area very much reminds us of places we saw in Alaska
near the Brooks Range!
Sunny morning, no wind, few bugs, lots of bird
calls. Avocets. We enjoy a lazy morning, eventually pack,
and head for Burns, Oregon.
A roadside history sign informs us that Abert
Ridge is a basalt fault scarp 2,500 feet tall! We are driving
along the western edge of a fault block. Sort of small scale
basin and range stuff. Lake Abert is a dead sea. Just a
remnant of its former glory because, we are informed, the highway we
are driving on is 250 feet below the original lake surface!!
Amazing. The rest of the drive to Burns is pretty much straight
forward and boring. We stop and make sandwiches at the city park
in Burns. Across the way a group of Indians are having a
barbeque and a celebration of some sort; I notice a big decorated
sheet cake. The grandmother says her words, the group stands
around listening with respect, then they dig in!
Lunch over we shop for last minute groceries,
ice, and gas. Soon we will be leaving the major highways, major
towns, major box stores, malls and mayhem. Yippee!
I call my sons on the cell phone. They will
be heading for Moses Lake, Washington Saturday. We make plans to
meet them Sunday afternoon or Monday.
We change from highway 395 to 26 to 19.
Each lowering of the highway numbers improves the scenery factor!
John Day is a small interesting community but soon we enter...
"Picture Gorge" where the John Day fossil bed
National Monument is located. This crack in the mountain reveals
a cross section, like a layer cake, of 17 lava flows during the past
forty million years. This area has the most complete,
continuous, fossil record in the world. It is now a National
Monument. We stop at the brand new museum but it is getting
close to their 4:30 PM closing time. We catch the end of a
documentary and gawk at some at the displays, used the toilet, and hit
the road. As I drive along I wonder what it must be like to work
on some 30 million year old fossil and then go home and watch the
The drive through the gorge, beside the river, is
very nice but finding a place to camp is difficult; each little road
down to the river rewards us with a “No Camping” sign. Onward.
We see a private camp ground that is open to the
traveler for ten bucks a night. We pulled in and looked around.
It is a grassy sloping meadow with one shade tree and that tree
already has a camper under it. We decide to press on.
Just before Kimberly, Oregon we cross a bridge
over the North Fork of the John Day River and spot, off to the left, a
gravel road down to a boat launch. Some folks are hauling out their
boat. We stop and talk to them and look around. We notice
a small, dead-end lane to the left of the haul-out that looks perfect!
We drive to the end and set up camp right beside the river on a pebbly
beach. Lots of birds. A few bugs.
I barbeque rib eye steak and make my world famous
mashed potatoes. We enjoy a warm quiet night accompanied
by the peaceful "white noise" from the river.
Do you know it starts getting light at 4:30 AM
around here!! The further north we go the longer the days are.
A few mosquitoes wake up and start looking around so I close the
sliding door. We get up around 8:00. Correction. I
get up around 8:00 and made coffee and get out our granola dishes,
cereal, and milk. Lolli is laying in bed reading her book.
I’m thinking of spending today and another night here. Looking
at the map I see we are 250 miles from Moses Lake. We should be
able to rip that off tomorrow easily. I deploy the ShadyBoy
awning and hang the hammocks! The river temperature is 68.
Ambient air temperature is 80 at 9:18 AM. A few clouds but they
are burning off. It could get too hot and we may decide to move
on but… we'll see. There is talk of walking into Kimberly, look
around, see if we can buy some ice.
We walk into Kimberly and visit the one
store/Post Office/gas station then walk on down the road a ways and
watch some guys fishing from rafts. A guided group. They
started from the launch point by our camp and are heading to Spray, a
distance of 15 river miles; 12 by road. We see one guy catch and
release a fish. Walking back to the store we notice an older
road above the current road. Since we are not wearing hiking
shoes or, in Lolli’s case, long pants, we decide we will come back and
explore that road later in the day. At the store we buy ice and
a soda and some crackers. The lady at the store said she is
closing at 12:30 because there is a big memorial barbeque for a local
rancher who died of cancer at the age of 58. She invites us to
attend but we decline.
Back at camp it is a perfect lazy afternoon for
reading our books. Then the weather gets weird and it clouds up.
The clouds keep the day from getting too hot but it starts to
sprinkle! Then the sun comes back out and it starts getting hot
but then it clouds up and sprinkles! Strange weather to us
coastal folks. Beautiful cloud formations though. Reminds
us of summertime camping in the mountains of New Mexico; daily
afternoon rain showers.
Birds. Lots of birds. I get out the bird
book Suzanne gave me and start looking them up. Red wing
Blackbirds, Morning Doves, sparrows and starlings, no problem.
And, what are those beside the river? I check the book,
...Spotted Sandpipers. A Golden Eagle flaps by with a small bird
chasing it. The eagle is working hard until it gets over to the
canyon wall, catches some lift, and begins soaring in circles higher
and higher, leaving the little bird far behind. It finally gets
high enough to slip out of the uplift and head for the next canyon.
We walk back into Kimberly and hike the old road.
It is shored up with hand placed rocks in places. It had to be
the original wagon road, once upon a time.
We enjoy a "Vegetable Medley” for snackage then
barbeque chicken for dinner to go with my world famous mashed
potatoes. I decide to take down the ShadyBoy and the hammocks.
Tomorrow will be a travel day.
Daybreak at 4:23 AM!! One solitary mosquito
with nine lives bothering us. I get up at 7:00 AM, write this,
and have my coffee. Partially cloudy. I’m thinking of
plugging in my solar panel but there is no direct sun. The volt
meter shows 12.5 volts. Probably enough but… I hope to get a
jump on the day and be rolling by 8:00~8:30. We’ll see.
8:30 AM and we are packed and on the road.
A nice drive along the John Day River to Spray but then the road
leaves the river to go to Fossil. Up and up and up into the
pines... Then down into miles of ranch lands; wheat country...
home of the Microsoft screensaver!
A few dips into canyons, back out, and finally
the Mighty Columbia. We stop for gas and I just have to take a
picture of their door stop!
Onward. Drive drive drive and around 3:00 PM we
arrive at Moses Lake, Washington. I am amazed at how much
housing and industry has spread out in the Tri Cities area and Moses
Lake; spread out for miles. I start becoming concerned as we
drive further and further into the strip malls, box stores, and
housing clusters on our way to Ross and Jeff’s campsite location.
We turn off onto a street through a development and arrive at the
park. Holy shit!, hundreds of cars and boats and some camp
trailers. They are all clustered up at one end of the park.
We notice Jeff’s truck and boat at the other end. I call Ross on
the cell phone. He says he can see us and to continue straight
ahead. Then we see his trailer on a bluff overlooking the lake.
Jeff and Trinna’s tent is set up beside it but man o man is the wind
blowing! A warm wind but still very windy with black clouds
coming from the west. Not looking good. They are all
pretty bummed because the wind has been blowing since they arrived.
We visit a bit and get the lay of the land.
Ross tells me all the people at the other end of the park are involved
in a fishing derby and will be going home soon. The plan is to
move the whole operation down to a lower site closer to the lake and,
hopefully, into an area with less wind.
We all pitch in and accomplish the move
After we get everything pretty much set back up...the wind dies!!
There is a slide and swing set near camp and Kian
and Lane have a great time with Grandma Lolli up on top loading them
into the chute and Kerry or Trinna catching them as they slide down.
Both boys walking good, fighting over toys, mouths full of teeth, Lane
still going "broom broom" when he sees anything airplane related.
Jeff, Ross and I go flying! I fly my wing.
Jeff flies his electric Tiny X and electric Edge 540. We go down
to the lake and Ross flies his Heckler on floats, Jeff, his
DuroPlane on floats. The wind is "on shore" and landing tricky
but Ross and Jeff pulled it off.
We have a nice dinner of Trinna’s "soup";
hamburger, corn, beans and tomatoes, with cheese and sour cream on
top. Margaritas on the side and we are happy campers.
June 7, 2004
The camp host has us tighten up our operation a
bit. Move some cars and the boat to the guest parking area and
move our Vanagon around to the back side of Ross’s trailer.
Everyone else has gone home from the weekend fishing derby, the
campground is finally empty.
Today the sun is out, the clouds are few, and the
wind is just a breeze. The big plan is to visit the Super Wally!
Ross and Jeff were there the other day and Jeff bought a nice LED
flashlight. It works good and I want one. Trinna and Kerry
are going to a store to buy steaks for tonight's barbee.
Jeff launches his boat but we
don't do much with it.
Both grandsons are ready though!
Jeff demonstrates his electric
powered Edge 540.
Ross flies his Heckler.
Steak with potatoes baked in
aluminum foil for dinner, mmm, good!
Some rain during the night and not looking good
this morning. A grounds keeper starts mowing around our camp at
6:00 AM. Kerry gets up and gave him "What For"!! You
go girl!! Also some folks arrived at 11:00 last night and parked
their boat about two feet from our Vanagon. Lolli thought they
were going to hit us!
What with close neighbors and crappy weather
Lolli and I decide to head for Seattle. Ross and Kerry and Jeff
and Trinna are talking of going to Pullman so Kerry and Trinna can
revisit the college campus, "Wazoo". We say our "byes" and hit
We stop and visit a good friend in Wenatchee.
We are on the road again by 4:00 PM and according to my Topo Map we
can be in Seattle by 7:00 PM. We decide to go for it and take
Stevens Pass. Over the top, around 4,200 feet, and down into
pouring rain through Startup, Sultan, and Monroe, Washington but,
unbelievably, once we reach the flats east of Everett the sun comes
out and it is 82 degrees!
We arrive at Lolli's mom’s house, shower, and I
check my e-mail, 108 waiting! A wee snack and time for
I check my "VW Info" section in my laptop
and find Schaffers motors; highly recommended by the WetWesties as a
place to get Vanagon parts. I zip up old Hwy 99 to their yard
and buy a lower radiator grill to replaced the one I lost to a deer,
and, four small hubcaps.
Crappy weather. The "visit" portion of our
vacation has begun.
We will be heading for Denver, Colorado when
vacation resumes; sometime towards the end of this month.
Here is our route so far.
1,258 miles! $141.00 worth of gas.