September 4 If a Tree Falls In the Woods…

Delta Campground on the Mackenzie River Overcast and 58 degrees F

Mackenzie Pass (5)Mackenzie Pass (4)and if no one is there, does it make a sound?  According to our camp host at Delta Campground, it not only makes a sound but it shakes the ground like a large earthquake.  Lucky for us, this happened in site 28, and we are camped in site 21.  Of course, lucky for us as well, it happened last May, although even more lucky for the campers in site 27 when this giant ancient cedar went down.

I guess that is one of the wonders of an old growth forest, technically more the 200 years old, but this one has trees up to 1000 years old tucked away.  It is amazing to see what an old growth Douglas-fir forest actually looks like, since almost all of our forests in the west have been cut or burned over in the last couple of hundred years. 

So, how did we end up on the Mackenzie River on the west side of the Cascades when our travels were taking us east to the John Day country?  Two words:  Junction City.  Fellow RV’rs who come west are probably familiar with this RV sale and repair location in Oregon.  For us, Guaranty RV in Junction City is where Mo found the first baby MoHo back in 2005.  A sweet little used 2001 21 foot Dynamax Starflyte, the baby MoHo served us well, and hooked us on the Dynamax brand.great old bridge across Delta Creek

We have had our “new” MoHo for nearly six years now, and she has served us exceptionally well.  However, there are just a couple of little things that after six years we have decided to change.  For one, the mattress was one of those cheap things with old springs that would sag to the plywood foundation with a little weight.  We added a memory foam topper, but it still sagged and was the source of many a 2am Advil run for me.

Delta Campground space 21

New mattress on the agenda!  I had researched online a bit, and came up with a specially made mattress for about 800 bucks, including shipping.  Seemed a bit spendy, but cost was irrelevant when it came to my back.

Delta Creek

Second thing that we finally decided to change was our lovely leather FlexSteel sofa that makes out into a queen sized air bed.  Beautiful sofa.  We never once made out the bed.  When we first got the MoHo it looked so nice and classy.  And it is comfortable enough, but really just for one person who wants to stretch out and watch tv.  The seat is curved in a way that makes the middle the only easy place to sit, and of course when company comes we bring in the folding chairs.  Our driving and passenger seat don’t swivel.Day 3 John Day_005DSC_0005

We have some nice little folding tables that we bring out for meals, but the configuration isn’t really optimum.  Solution?  Let’s get one of those big u-shaped dinette units that we see in some of the newer rigs!  So again, a little research led me to Countryside RV Interiors in Junction City.  They didn’t have those big FlexSteel units, but would gladly build us a very nice U shaped dinette for about 5,000.  Yeah, that is dollars!

Day 3 John Day_009DSC_0009Hmmm, maybe not.  We looked around a bit more, and Mo found this great looking dinette from Flexsteel that still makes down into a bed in case we might need one for whatever reason.  The leather matches our existing driving and passenger seats, and there are drawers for a bit of storage as well.  We took the MoHo over to Junction City for consultation, measurements, and we ordered the nifty FlexSteel unit, scheduled to arrive in October sometime.  Just a little over half what the custom made unit would have cost us.

Steve and Terri at Countryside Interiors are great, they have a good inventory, and can order anything and install it for you.  They pointed us to American Mattress in Eugene to find a mattress.  They actually make mattresses there, and have an entire showroom for testing.  The salesman tried to point me to different kinds of foam, but I know they will break down and I wanted a real coil mattress.  Finally I found a firm one and knew that it what I needed, no sagging coils, no bending on the sides, but cushy enough on the top for old bones.  That’s it, I said. the sword ferns are hugw

Ok then, give us a couple of weeks and we can cut it down to fit.  Our mattress is one of those 3/4 full things that has an angle cut off on the end.  Perfect for the tight space, but a bit weird to replace. Long story short, that is why we traveled to John Day via Eugene and Junction City.  I now have a new mattress and it feels great!!!  Finally. And the cost was just over $400, less than half the price of the mattress replacement I found online.  Good job American Mattress!

following the trail guideOf course, if we were going to be in Eugene, we would have to get back over the Cascades to go east.  I thought we had traveled up the Mackenzie Highway in the past, so planned that route and found the Delta Campground on the internet at the Willamette National Forest website.  It looked like it would be a good stop and it was.

We landed at 3:30 in the afternoon, under cloudy skies.  There wasn’t one single camper in the entire campground of 37 sites and the camp host was nowhere to be found.  We wandered through trying to decide, you know how it is with too many choices.  Site 21 appeared, with a nice big tree between us and the road, a pull through site, and closer to the picnic table than most.  We just pulled in and didn’t bother looking at the rest.  Turned out great, because it was one of the best sites.650 year old Douglas-firs throughout the grove

After settling in, we walked back two sites to the head of the short interpretive trail through the forest.  With three wooden bridges crossing Delta Creek, and a meandering path among the old giants, it was a beautiful, gentle walk.  I don’t think I have ever seen Douglas-firs this huge and the one old hemlock that was 1,000 years old is definitely the biggest I have ever seen.  These trees aren’t as big around as some of the redwoods, but they are more than 200 feet tall.  Just amazing. This collage is four photos of the same tree, bottom to the top

Day 1 Home to the MacKenzie River

A tree that doesn’t look quite as impressive, but just as old are the western yews, source of the cancer drug Taxol, and almost completely endangered by the illegal harvesting of their bark.  People would strip the bark all the way around, killing the trees, instead of taking only small amounts and saving the tree.  These trees only grow in old growth forests, and thankfully a synthetic has been developed so the remaining trees are safe.  At least as long as the old growth is safe.campsite 21 in Delta Campground

We heated up navy bean soup from home and had a nice campfire before settling into the dark forest for the evening.  The camp host showed up as we were sitting by the fire to regale us with stories of the campground, the area, and the big tree that fell in space 28 last spring.  He was a nice guy, very talkative, and never said a word about Abby being off leash while we sat around the fire. 

Yay, a better swimming hole for AbbyWe ended the outdoor part of the evening with a nice swim for Abby just down a short walk from our picnic table.  The night was absolutely silent and completely dark except for a few winking stars that showed up sometime during the night as the clouds lifted.tree hugger

Who said planning is the fun part?

Clear warm evening in Rocky Point at 83 Degrees F

When I first imagined what RVing would be like many years ago, I pictured an idyllic ramble around the country, taking my time, staying wherever I felt like staying for as long as I wanted, and just picking up and leaving when I felt like it.  That might work in the desert southwest now and then, but not so much for a three month sojourn through Texas and Florida and back, during prime season.Florida 2014 map streets and trips

In the midst of all the other doings around here, I have been trying to get a handle on those plans.  Usually I like this part, and open up the various apps that Nina discussed so well in a recent post, start up my old copy of “Streets and Trips 2011”, open up Google Maps and my Google Calendar, and start planning a route.  Even for our trip to Alaska, this was a fairly straightforward process.  We didn’t even make reservations for that entire summer on the road.google second map

Florida in February is a completely different story, and as Sherry warned me, I should have started six months ago!  I not only have to plan a route, I have to know EXACTLY when I plan to be in any particular place and make real honest to goodness reservations.  Ack!  How in the world can I be sure that I’ll be in Chiefland, Florida on a specific date when there are many months and thousands of miles between me and that date?Day 18 Silver River 12-18-2007 1-38-35 PM

I have dreamed of a winter in Florida with my kayak in tow ever since I started visiting Bel in Ocala back in 2000.  Mo and I got our boats to Florida on our cross country trip in 2007 for one magical float on the Silver River before we trundled on back west to buy the new motorhome in Texas and continue toward home.  I have read the blogs avidly, ‘pinned’ campgrounds and rivers and events, and they created the beginning of my google map.  The problems only begin when I try to link them all up, figure out the route and the miles and the DATES…and then make reservations.  Only by now, I have been working on this for a few months, and I am too late for some of the places I wanted to go!  Yup.  Sherry was right.  I should have started this six months ago, but somehow I was too busy TRAVELING then to be thinking about what I was going to be doing in 2014. 

Before I go into the ‘plans’, I want to remember the fun things I have been doing NOW.  

dinner tree (8) Would you eat dinner in this place?  We did, and it was a fantastic experience.  The Cowboy Dinner Tree used to be just that.  It was a big old juniper tree out in the Oregon Outback near Silver Lake where they parked the chuck wagon for the cowboys.  It has evolved a bit, and now people come from who knows where to fill this place up every weekend.  Reservations required, two choices: chicken or sirloin.  Dinner comes with salad, rolls, bean soup, potatoes, iced tea or lemonade (oops another choice) and dessert. 

dinner tree (7) It isn’t cheap, and it takes two hours to get there.  We rode with some local Rocky Point friends so the distance was irrelevant, and the experience was priceless.  It is a “thing” and I am glad we took the time to do it.   Although I brought the completely ridiculous steak home and made fajitas two nights in a row and then two more dinners from the chicken.  Sheesh!dinner tree (12)

This week was bittersweet in a good way.  I worked the very last time for soil survey.  Sequestration and budget cuts and no federal budget all combined to end my contract career, so I retired for the second time.  So I am really really retired now.  Completely.  It makes for some nice travel time, and is the reason I can manage to be off work long enough to take off next winter for three months instead of just a few weeks at a time.  I’ll be poorer, but richer in time. I am pretty sure it is a good thing.

1157708_10151853370021635_200200858_nJeanne visits-018Another delight this week was a visit from Vermont friend Jeanne, (yes the famous adventure woman, Jeanne, that I have written about before).  Only this time she brought along her sweetie, Alan, and he won Jeremy over in about two seconds and won me over about two seconds after that.  Jeanne, you done good!!  As did you, Alan.  A pair made in heaven, or as all Jeanne’s friends say, a Danielle Steele novel.  It is just romantic beyond imagination.  He is a forester, she is a botanist, they both had basically given up on finding a soul mate, and they met in the woods at work!  Isn’t that just incredibly perfect?!

We were on the water by 7 with beautiful partly overcast skies, perfect water, and lots of birds.  Jeanne and Alan planned to see Crater Lake later in the day, but weren’t in too much of a hurry to miss out on pancakes and bacon for breakfast before they left. 

Jeanne visits-022 After all the smoke that has been here, I was so glad to see perfectly clear skies by the time they got to Crater Lake, blue and smoke free and gorgeous.  At least on the web cam.  I had to keep checking to be sure that Alan’s first view of the lake would be wonderful.  Jeanne wanted to show him all the cliffs she used to ski down when she lived here.  Crazy woman.  Jeanne visits-028

Now back to the planning thing.  Which is pretty much how that planning thing has been going.  I work on it awhile, then something comes up and I get back to it later.  Which is why I missed out on Myakka Springs and a couple of other places I wanted to see in Florida.  Completely Booked!!  We did manage to have a conversation with John and Carol from Our Trip Around the Sun who are going to be at Ding Darling Refuge on Sanibel Island and yes, I arranged a day, at 7 in the morning, when we will meet for a refuge trip that will hopefully turn up some spoonbills.  Big on my bucket list.  And yes, I have planned that specific day and specific hour from 3500 miles and six months away.

Jeanne visits-026

I know, I know.  I have no right to complain.  If you haven’t read Erin’s post about her plans for the next three months go check it out.  That is planning on an Olympic scale!  I think they have so many vacations nested in their vacation that it reminds me of those little Russian dolls.  Ours will be just a bit simpler.  We only have a simple vacation with a cruise vacation buried in the middle there somewhere. 

We will amble through California, Arizona, New Mexico, and into Big Bend country in Texas, wander off to the coast at Port Aransas where I will get to walk the beach with Erin and watch her with that famous camera!  We will continue east toward New Orleans, where we will take a 9 day break for a little cruise to the Western Caribbean, and after returning we will amble off to Florida for a month of kayaking and beaches.  There is a saying about Florida, “I came for the beaches, but I stayed for the rivers”.  Ahhhh.  We will go as far as Key West, then amble back up the coast.

I have mostly reserved everything along the way.  I think we will be in Blue Springs on Monday morning, March 3, at 10:02 AM.  Or something like that.  I know, the best laid plans can be severely disrupted, and I am trying to accept that with equanimity.  Still.  Those reservations are all prepaid, for Pete’s Sake!  When we leave Blue Springs a few days later, I have no plans except for going north and west.  I have no reservations.  I have lots of blog posts about COE campgrounds and great places to see along the way, but we are going to actually stay loose during this part of the trip.  For the month of March, we will just move gradually west and north toward home, following whatever route the weather and our mood dictates.  I’ll let you know how that goes as well.

It is so great to have Deborah here to house sit for us while we are gone.  She wants to keep the home fires burning and I’ll leave my truck with her so she can get back and forth in the snow. We will be bringing Abby, but I have decided to let Jeremy stay with Deborah for the trip.  At least for now that is what I have decided.  I’ll let you know how THAT goes as well.  Sigh.

Lots coming up.  More to tell, but this post is entirely too long so I’ll save it for later. 

Next: MoHo interior renovations and we are soon off to the far northeastern part of Oregon!