10-13- to 10-17 2020 Freedom!

With Covid19 creating all sorts of problems for travelers this year, it has been wonderful to have a way to get out a bit in our own socially distanced space.  The MoHo is the perfect solution to getting away, and the only even remotely unsafe activity is buying fuel in any state that makes us pump our own.

On October 1 we loaded up the MoHo and headed north to Washington State to visit my daughter Deanna and her husband in addition to my grandkids and great grandkids.  I realize that was 3 weeks ago, and I have yet to write the stories. That will come later. I somehow never managed to finish processing the photos before Mo said, “Hey, maybe we can go to Medicine Lake”.

As much as we love Medicine Lake, nestled in an ancient volcanic caldera in the highlands of far northern California, we haven’t been there in six years.  Six.  Looking back at the blog and the photos I was amazed that it took us so long to return to one of our favorite camping spots in the west. As I reviewed the years and went back over our calendar, I saw many factors that seemed to get in the way of our plans, not the least of which was the many years of fires creating smoky skies and closed forests in California and Oregon.  This year wasn’t much different until mid-October, when the rains dampened the mountains a bit and the Forest Service re-opened the campgrounds in the California forests that had been closed for weeks.

We took our chances without reservations.  After all, it is October, and at 7,200 feet nights are freezing and visitors might be few and far between.  Most of the sites at Medicine Lake, in the 3 campgrounds, are on a first come first serve basis, including our favorite, number 43, in the A.H. Hogue Campground. 

We packed up food and warm clothing, loaded the kayaks, hooked up the car, and were on the road south by 10AM.  Fuel is still reasonable in Grants Pass, but we knew that boondocking for several nights would require a full gas tank.  We knew there was a Pilot on our route south near Mt Shasta and Weed,and that would be the last opportunity to top of the tank before we settled into to camp for a few days without hookups.  In fact, not only are there no hookups, we knew from experience that there is no cell service, no internet, no water, no trash pickup, no power, and we were ready for a few days off the grid.  Nice to take a break from all the “stuff” out there going on right now.

We headed south on I-5.  Funny, the map to Medicine Lake on Google shows an almost identical time and distance whether we travel south on the interstate into California, or back over the mountain to Klamath Falls.  We decided to make it a loop, going south on the way down and returning via Klamath Falls.

Highway 89 was pleasant and smooth, without too much traffic, but once we turned back north on Forest Road 44 and then to Forest Road 49 toward Medicine Lake it changed.  There was no traffic, I think we saw only one vehicle in the entire distance, and that was a pickup pulling a boat and trailer that was stuck in a ditch.  Three guys gave us a thumbs up and we drove on.  No cell service anyway so there wasn’t much we could do to help.  The road was very narrow and very rough!  I reminded myself to open the dish cupboards slowly.  After bumpy roads all sorts of things can fall on your head if you open them too quickly.

It was 2:30 or so when we arrived at the campground and to our surprise, it was completely empty.  There are 56 sites in Hogue, a few less in the adjacent Hemlock Campground which was also empty, and a few more in the Medicine Campground where there was one big rig tucked in under the trees far to the west of our campground.  We unhooked up on the main road and drove right to our favorite spot. 

Site 43 is on the lake side of the road, and once in place the rig could be leveled without too much difficulty.  There is a beautiful stone firepit, a nice picnic table, a short easy trail to the water and a 180 degree view of the lake.  We spent some time reviewing favorite campsites we have enjoyed throughout the years, and this is by far top on the list.

It didn’t take long for us to settle in. We put out our chairs and listened to the silence. Took Mattie for a walk around the campground road and decided that we would wait until the next day to unload the kayaks since the breeze had kicked up as it often does in the late afternoon.  Supper was simple, reheating last night’s pizza in a skillet and still had to start up the generator for a few minutes to get it nice and hot in the microwave. After supper we returned to our chairs to enjoy the sunset.

Our sunset was spectacularly unspectacular.  With no clouds, fires, or pollution to create color, the sun dropped behind the mountains to our west with an unceremonious ‘plop’.  It was to be the case for each of the three nights we waited for sunset as we camped at Medicine Lake.  Still, the afterglow on the lake was lovely as the skies darkened.

The first night was the coldest, and when we woke the next morning it was 32 degrees.  The day was clear and gorgeous once again and we decided to spend some time exploring the local roads a bit before unloading and launching the kayaks for an afternoon paddle.  Lava Beds National Monument is just 16 miles north of Medicine Lake on a decent dirt and gravel road that descends from the volcanic highlands to the lava wilderness below.

Information from the website:

“Medicine Lake Highlands is the largest identified volcano (in total area) within California, and is one of the most unique geologic features in North America. Because this subrange of the Cascades is somewhat remote, the fascinating nature of this area is largely unappreciated. The great Medicine Lake shield volcano’s broad, gently sloping profile (stretching some 15 miles from east to west and nearly 25 miles north and south) belies the fact that it is actually larger in mass than nearby Mt. Shasta. The Medicine Lake Highlands Volcanic Area exceeds 200 square miles and takes in portions of three National Forests; the Modoc, Klamath and Shasta-Trinity in Modoc and Siskiyou Counties. On the Shasta- Trinity the area lies within the boundaries of the McCloud Ranger District. It rises east of Mt. Shasta near the south end of the string of Cascade volcanoes that stretch northward from Mt. Lassen into British Columbia. Approximately 100,000 years ago the great volcano underwent a series of eruptions which undermined the center of the mountain and the crest subsided to create a huge crater or caldera. Around the margins of this subsidence, new, smaller volcanoes arose; they are called rampart volcanoes. Medicine Lake now partially fills the crater. Geologists speculate over what events took place that caused the unusual shapes and features to form and how a series of eruptions changed the face of the countryside in the area. One thing is clear, however; more than a million years of volcanic activity have produced a landscape that is perhaps California’s most diverse volcanic field. Furthermore, volcanic eruptions that produced geological features within the Medicine Lake Highlands were no less dramatic than the volcanic eruptions which took place on Mt. St. Helens.”

We had camped in Lava Beds last March and wondered how the campground and surrounding area had fared after the devastating Lava Beds fires that started on July 22.  Seventy Percent of Lava Beds National Monument was burned but we had heard that the visitor center and most of the campground was saved.

Traveling north as we descended to the wild lava covered landscape we discovered the Mammoth Crater site.  As with most of our travels on this trip, there wasn’t a soul around and we let Mattie walk ahead of us on the trail to the viewpoint.  When I declined to continue on the steep part of the trail, I received a very reproachful look.  Mattie won, and I am glad she did because the view from lower point was spectacular.

We read that Mammoth Crater and Modoc Crater are responsible for about 70% of the lava flow in Lava Beds. The lava that flowed from both of these craters is also responsible for the majority of lava tube caves found in the park. Mammoth crater once contained a massive lake of lava that overflowed instead of erupted, leaving behind the empty crater. The lava from this crater was highly fluid and traveled all the way to the northern part of the park, creating lava tube caves all along the way.

So heartbreaking to see this grand old juniper gone and the CCC table destroyed

This what this campsite looked like in March

This what it looked like this week after the fire

Continuing north towards the main park road, we turned toward the campground, excited to see that it was open and that people were camped.  Surprisingly, there were far more people at Lava Beds than up the hill at the beautiful lake!.  Driving through the campground to our previous camp site we were devastated to see that the fire had destroyed another of our favorite campsites.  Last spring I took many photos of the ancient juniper that shaded the magnificent picnic table made of juniper planks attached to huge lava rocks.  We loved the view when we camped last March, but today the view was much more open, but much more devastating.  The park will recover.  Juniper and grass and sage adapt to fire, but there won’t be junipers like this one for another couple hundred years.

As we returned south and up the mountain toward Medicine Lake, we again remarked on the striking and dramatic view of what the fire crews managed to save.  On one side of the road was evidence of serious heavy equipment clearing out the highly flammable underbrush and how the combination of clearing and the firebreak of the road managed to stop the fire.  It was impressive!

The winds were light when we returned to camp in the early afternoon and after lunch, around two, we decided to unload the kayaks and go for a little spin on the lake.  The light winds were tolerable, but one of the things we love most about this lake is the beautifully still, glassy conditions that can make it such a delight to paddle.  By the time we returned to camp after an hour of battling the “light” winds, our arms and shoulders were tired and our bodies were ready for some rest.

Relaxing again with our boring sunset, we made a plan for the following day.  Who knows why we need a plan, but somehow setting a general time for what we want to do feels better when we are in a place where there are no deadlines, nothing we have to do and nowhere we have to be.  It is an old joke for us, and goes all the way back to our very first camp together at Medicine Lake in 2003.  We sat at the picnic table and Mo said, “Well, what do want to do?”.  “hmm…well, we can eat and then we can do something, then we can eat lunch and do something, and then we can eat dinner.”  Ever since, “we can eat and then do something and then eat” has been our inside joke.


 

The morning dawned as still and gorgeous as it had the previous day and even with a temperature of 38 degrees, we decided that waiting till ten to get on the lake would be a mistake.  It was a perfect choice, and while our feet were a bit cold, the early morning sun warmed our backs wonderfully.  We paddled across the lake just in time to see a fat and very fluffy coyote racing across the meadow, spooked out by a woman who was walking with her two dogs and didn’t know that coyote was right in front of her.  We also saw herons and merganser ducks, an osprey, a young eagle, several deer, lots of sandpipers, a lovely family of grebes, and a couple of kingfishers. Our campsite was a virtual aviary of pine siskins, stellar jays, and black headed juncos.  Of course, with only the phone, I have very few wildlife photos and none that are worth showing. I do miss having a great camera with a great telephoto lens.  Every time I try to zoom in with the phone I get a blown-out murky photo that is not the least bit satisfying.

By the time we got off the water two hours later, the winds were rising.  We were so glad we hadn’t waited in spite of the chill.  Lunch of grapes and cheese and crackers was perfect and we settled in for a bit of chair and book time before heading out for our next planned activity.  Mattie loved the sunshine and relaxing part of the day and took full advantage of the freedom to be off leash with not another soul around.

The short hike to Little Glass Mountain is just north of the campground and is about .4 a mile long one way.  It is in a field of pumice, shaded by old lodgepole pine.  I am not a fan of lodgepole, but here they are thick and healthy and quite lovely.  The little cones are just about perfect.

Little Glass Mountain has been identified as the area of most recent volcanic activity about 300 years ago. These eruptions first spread white pumice for miles around. A nearby cinder cone, Pumice Stone Mountain, was completely covered with pumice and a startling, smooth, white dome remains. These pumice eruptions were followed by flows of black volcanic glass, called obsidian. There are other obsidian flows in the Highlands area, some of which are over 1,000 acres in size. Prehistoric people used this material to make arrowheads and spearpoints. Many archaeological sites have been identified, and some artifacts indicate that the Highlands have been inhabited for at least 4,500 years.

The temperature was perfect, Mattie could again be off leash with no one around, and the level path to the glass flow was delightful.  We reached the obsidian, wandered a bit farther toward the west end of the flow and then returned the way we had come.  Once in the past we thought to take off cross country and discovered that the flat landscape and lodgepole forest can be misleading.  This time we stuck to the trail.

Our last planned activity for the day was to take off again in the Tracker and explore a road east of the campground that was marked, “Private Cabins”.  It was a short trip, and a short road, but it led to a surprising number of forest service type cabins and homes that were nestled and tucked away in the thick dark lodgepole forest on the southeast side of the lake.  From the campground, there is no clue as to the number of homes that are hiding there in the trees.  We hadn’t seen them when kayaking on that side of the lake.  It wasn’t particularly inviting to me.  I have lived long enough in a dark forest that I appreciate open skies and sunshine and was grateful that the campground is on the south facing side of the lake.

Our remaining activity of the day was a small one.  Haul the kayaks back up the short slope to the waiting car.  We both discovered that the leg strength required for getting out of the kayaks can be a bit challenging.  Sure hope we can continue to do that for a few more years.  Surprisingly, once we got the boats up the hill, getting them on top the car wasn’t difficult.  Still managing that without much trouble.  Good news.

Saturday morning we woke easily after a night that was a bit warmer than the previous two nights, with a temp of 47 degrees at 7 AM.  There were a few more people around, with two more sites occupied in our campground and a couple more east of us in the Hemlock campground.  We were both really delighted with our Medicine Lake trip this year, and know that we won’t be worried about trying to camp there in the early fall months until the snow flies.

The return trip to Grants Pass through Klamath Falls held a little bit of extra fun.  We had arranged to meet Katie, a good friend of ours, currently a soil scientist at the Klamath Falls office where I worked after retirement until 2017.  Katie is an amazing young woman, full of life and full of adventure.  It was wonderful spending a leisurely patio lunch with her as we caught up on life’s random craziness.  Sorry Katie, I forgot to take photos so I stole this one from your Facebook page.  You and your sweetie!

On the trip home I remembered what I love most about the Klamath Basin.  The thousands, maybe millions of birds are staging for migration.  Klamath Lake was thick with coots, ducks of all kinds, grebes, pelicans, and egrets lining the shoreline.  The aspens were turning on Highway 140 as we approached our old home in Rocky Point.  It was a perfectly beautiful trip without a speck of drama and a lot of quiet time for us.


08-17-2020 Searching for Boundary Springs

Just a short note here: If you click on a photo you will be taken to the high resolution image on my SmugMug site and will also be able to see the entire gallery.

Traveling north on Highway 230

After breakfast this morning we loaded ourselves and the dog into the Tracker and headed north to find the fabled headwaters of the Rogue River, Boundary Springs. Even though I had downloaded the Google map for offline use, it didn’t work well enough to see detail.

Many acres burned in 2015

Following what was supposed to be the route to Boundary Springs, we bounced along the dirt on the Old Diamond Lake road for almost 4 miles to a small lake lake we thought was it. Google maps even binged that we had arrived at our destination, but the small lake certainly didn’t appear to be any kind of spring.

We drove back where the road crossed the Rogue River and I walked a bit up the trail realizing that we had discovered the upper portion of the Rogue River trail that we were fairly certain led to Boundary Springs.

Google was no help whatsoever, with a curving line of random white dots indicating the general direction of the spring.  Time to give up the search without more information at hand.

We headed back down highway 230 looking for a road we had seen previously leading to the National Creek Falls trailhead. In all this time on back roads we had seen no other cars or people. At the trailhead there was a large parking lot with room for a boondock site and the lot was completely empty.

The trail sign said 1/2 mile to the falls so I figured I could do it. The trail was mostly easy down to the top of the falls but we couldn’t see below. Mo didn’t know if the trail went to the bottom but I couldn’t imagine the trail didn’t go to some kind of viewpoint. I knew it had to be close because we  were getting close to half a mile in distance according to my Fitbit.

Sure enough after a few more switchbacks we were at the base of a gorgeous double falls. I am so glad we continued. Its hard for me to know if I am going to hold up so Mo worries about us going too far and not being able to get me back out.

I did OK. Up was a lot easier than down and we are both glad we made it to the waterfall viewpoint.  Standing in the cool mist and listening to the roar of the water was perfect for a hot afternoon.

Back to the rig the afternoon is still and muggy with heavy gray skies and fairly hot. Outside was better than inside but there wasn’t much air either way. Our friends from Rocky Point, Mata and Jim Rust, were to arrive at any time. We were ready with hot dogs and salad but didn’t have cell service to get any kind of message from them so we would know when they left Rocky Point.

We talked a bit about our day, and our plans for the next one.  Originally we had planned to visit Crater Lake, but decided that rather than going to Crater Lake we would backtrack to try to make it to Boundary Springs.

Mata and Jim arrived just after 3 in the afternoon. It was a nice reunion with cautious hugs all around. We stayed away from faces and I noticed I didn’t breathe while hugging.

Afterward we all sat nicely apart while visiting.  I noticed that we were a bit closer than 6 feet apart at the picnic table, but since we were outdoors and no one was sick or had been around anyone sick we felt safe enough.
Supper was nice and Mata brought peach upside cake. The girls shared Creamsicle cocktails with Jack and Coke for Jim, his favorite. They left a bit after six in order to get back over the mountain to Rocky Point before dark.

Mo started a fire but it was so hot and muggy that we couldn’t enjoy it much. Also, the chocolate filled marshmallows that I had purchased with such excitement were a bust. The chocolate had a weird flavor and wouldn’t melt even though the marshmallow got all runny and tasted very strange.

After dishes we were worn out and went to bed at 7:30 after running the generator for just half an hour. I noticed it had dropped to 11.9 and wondered about it.

Sure enough we were wakened at 5:30AM by the screeching CO2 indicator. The batteries were completely dead. Mo wasn’t able to open the battery cells before we left on this trip to check for water thinking we would have to take the rig in to get them checked. We hoped that low water was the problem and that the batteries at least take a charge. After running the gennie for two hours, we watched the charge drop again and simply put the rig on “store” for the rest of the day.

Hopefully we can get sealed no maintenance batteries when we get back home. That is what we wanted last time but we are not sure why we didn’t get what we asked for. It was something about availability but I will have to go back to our records to remember. We are lucky there are no posted rules about generator hours here. Our spot is fairly isolated with only one other rig several hundred yards from us. Thankfully our generator isn’t very loud.

We woke after a very dark silent night feeling ok about our options. We ran the generator long enough to charge the batteries and put the coach back on store for the day. There was nothing in the fridge that would spoil and it stayed cool enough with the doors closed. Ice cream was a little soft by evening but we could live with that.

Our first instinct to give up and just go home dissolved with the light of another pretty day ahead. Even though a camping trip is a goal in itself the other goal for this trip was to view the headwaters of the Rogue River and I didn’t want to miss my chance to get there.

08-16-2020 Camping Along the Rogue River

Just a short note here: If you click on a photo you will be taken to the high resolution image on my SmugMug site and will also be able to see the entire gallery.

We had planned to leave by noon, with no real rush to get to the campground since we couldn’t check in until 3 PM. We needed propane and fuel in the MoHo and a few other grocery items that I had forgotten to bring and by the time we were actually on the road it was almost 1:30.

Then, as we traveled south on our usual route leaving town on I-5, out of habit when we are going east I told Mo to use exit 40 so we would be sure to miss the narrow bridge that almost wiped out the side of the MoHo one time in the past.  What I forgot, however, was that we were NOT going to Klamath Falls, we were going to Crater Lake and should have taken exit 43 to go through Gold Hill.  These kinds of mental glitches are so annoying.  The extra miles weren’t terribly troublesome as we meandered the long way around toward the east, and we still managed to get to the park right at 3PM.

I had reserved site 59 without much to go on at the Recreation.gov website, but found a campground map and a photo of the site online somewhere and it looked level and private.  We weren’t disappointed.  The site was quite lovely, very close to the last site in the park on an almost empty loop.  We were surprised to see how many sites were marked with an “open” sign.

After settling in, we decided to walk the campground a bit and check out the river.  I made notes of sites that looked appealing to us.

Our favorite was site 40, right on the river, large, level, and fairly private.  Other sites that would be acceptable would be site 39, 26, 47, and 58.  We did love the fact that our site 59 seemed to be out of the main path for people walking dogs and for kids on bikes.  We rarely saw anyone pass by.

Farewell Bend campground is visible from the highway but the only part you can see well without entering the park are sites 1 through 10, tightly spaced between the river and the highway, and one of the main reasons we  had never considered staying in this particular campground in the past.

Our closest neighbor

We were pleasantly surprised to find that the rest of the campground was well laid out, with plenty of space between sites, and level sites with nice big picnic tables, although most sites had a considerable distance between your rig and the table.

It wasn’t far to the river, and I thought it might be a good opportunity to try out my new walker.  I don’t need it all the time yet, but I am trying to be proactive and prepared, and I have enjoyed using it around home sometimes.  It was fine on the road and on the trail, but not quite so good on the rough rocks along the river.  I did manage to bump along but had to carry the walker a few times where it was especially rough.  Kinda misses the purpose of a walker I think.

I did enjoy sitting in my comfy seat as I watched Mo take Mattie to the water.  As usual, Mattie wasn’t all that interested in swimming, but loved running around in the soft sand and climbing rocks.  Climbing is her most favorite thing.

I think the walker did help me out a bit and I felt pretty good until evening when I was thoroughly wiped out.  This camping trip is another test for me, to see what I can and cannot do.  So far, so good.  We ate our spaghetti dinner outside and then played some cards after dinner at the picnic table.

Both of us were tired after spending the day loading, driving and setting up camp and we were in bed with out books by 7:30.  The air was warm and heavy with predicted thunderstorms.  Somehow they missed us and with no phone service or internet we had no clue if anything was coming our way our not.

As I fell asleep I laughed at myself wondering how I manage to miss things we need for a trip. I made long lists and we checked them off as we packed. Still…we invited friends for hot dog night  while we are here and in spite of all the condiments, buns and extras, at the very last-minute I realized I hadn’t put in the hot dogs. Once at the campground, making salad for supper , I realized that I had forgotten the rest of the fresh food waiting in the fridge at home. I had forgotten the onions and peppers for the company mac salad, and cream for the planned “creamsicle” cocktails for our guests. Then in the middle of the night I discovered that I should have checked for Advil, assuming our big jar was still in the rig, but no. I must have taken it in the house for whatever reason. Tylenol just doesn’t do it for the first night in the rig backache. Sigh.

It was a dark quiet night and quite warm till midnight or so and I only woke up 2 more times. By morning the backache was gone.

Tomorrow we are planning to explore an unknown trail to Boundary Springs, the headwaters of the Rogue River.  Looking

July 28 2015 Taking a Break at Waldo Lake

Current Location: Rocky Point, Oregon

Current Temperature: 97 degrees F

Waldo Lake Camping-053 I am NOT complaining about the heat.  It is warmer than I can remember here in Rocky Point, but at the moment the WunderMap shows temperatures ranging from 106 to 109 in the Grants Pass area.  That is NOT “feels like” weather, that is the real temperature.  The Rogue Valley of Oregon is even hotter than notoriously hot Redding, California!  Go figure.

In addition to being almost ten degrees cooler here in the trees at Rocky Point, the house is even cooler yet.  I just returned from taking Mattie for a walk, a very hot walk, and when I walked into the house it felt as if we had air conditioning.  So grateful for a well insulated, well built, cool and comfortable home.  No air conditioning needed.

waldo lake Insulation was the last thing on my mind on Tuesday morning when we packed up the MoHo and headed north to spend a bit of time in the mountains.  Yes, I know, we live in the mountains, but camping at a lake at more than 5,000 feet elevation surrounded by mountain hemlock is a lot different than hanging out at home.

the turn toward Waldo comes up quickly after the summitOur destination was the incredible Waldo Lake, Gem of the Cascades. Waldo isn’t far from where we live, and is just a short 13 miles north of the Highway 58 route that we often travel on the way to Eugene.  However, as beautiful as it is, the reputation for heavy mosquito infestations keep us from camping there more often.  According to the website, Waldo campgrounds are barely habitable until after mid-August and into September, and then the snow can fly as early as late September.

We found that out the hard way the last time we camped at Waldo, during the latter part of July back in 2010.  It was a wonderful, albeit short stay, and both of us still laugh about the heavy clouds of mosquitoes surrounding us as we attempted to enjoy the beautiful lake.  I wrote about that visit here.

The most wonderful aspect of Waldo Lake is its protection from gasoline engines.  Only electric motors are allowed on this lake.  The water is incredibly pure and crystal clear.  Because it is a snow fed lake, and is surrounded by rhyolite and pumice, there is nothing to contribute to the growth of algae or murky water.  It is wonderful to be near such a large beautiful lake without the sounds of jet skies and motorboats.  Obviously, it is a very popular kayaking and sailing lake.  There are so many places where fast boats are allowed, I am grateful that there are a few places like this for those of us who like the quieter pursuits.

 

Waldo Lake view from the amphitheater at North Waldo CampgroundThe  beauty of the place is so enticing, we decided that since we needed to travel once again to Eugene, we should go a day early and make an attempt at warding off the mosquitoes long enough to at least enjoy the lake for a little bit.  I am not yet at my 90 day mark for healing from my surgery, the magic day when my lifting limit increases from a maximum of 5 pounds to 20 pounds.  Mo refused to even think about taking the kayaks until I got the Ok from my surgeon. 

I couldn’t imagine being at Waldo without my kayak, but it turned out to be one of the most memorable overnight camps we have ever spent. 

site 38 at the North Waldo Campground Arriving late morning to a quiet campground with many open sites, we were amazed to discover that there was not a single mosquito in sight, nary a one, nowhere.  We set up camp, parked in a nice open breezy site to ward off the supposedly ever present little beasts, and opened the doors to fresh mountain bug free air.

A few days before our visit, a cold front slipped through this part of Oregon, and I remember seeing temperatures in the high 30’s on the east side of the Cascades.  Maybe the little stinkers decided to go south.

Our afternoon was filled with fresh, cool air, and skies so blue they looked almost electric.  I pulled out the no nitrates/ no sulfates, whatever uncured bacon we found at Costco last week, sliced some fat tomatoes and we feasted on luscious sandwiches piled up with our fresh garden lettuce.

Waldo Lake Camping-018 We decided that it was time to hike the Shoreline Trail.  Not all of it, of course, but as much as we could manage in an afternoon.  I knew that the Taylor Burn had decimated much of the land north of the lake, and that we probably wouldn’t make it all the way west to where the trees were still intact.

Waldo Lake Camping-020 Still, it was a great hike, in perfect temperatures, with gorgeous views of the lake that would have been otherwise hidden by the deep hemlock forest if not for the burn. 

Waldo Lake Camping-044 There are many ponds tucked among the rolling slopes above the lake, and the trail is never really too steep or rocky to be enjoyable. 

The wildflowers were sparse on the eastern edge, but as we walked west, and the landscape showed a bit more moisture, we saw more and more flowers blooming among the old burned stumps from the fire in 1996 that burned more than 10,000 of forest on the northern edge of the lake. Waldo Lake Camping-028 Waldo Lake Camping-030 Fireweed and pussytoes were the most prolific flowers, but there were a few others tucked away, and many sedges along the ponds.

Waldo Lake Camping-027 Shrubs were dominated by willow and a few mountain ash with bright orange berries, and the regenerating trees were mostly mountain hemlock and red fir or subalpine fir.

Waldo Lake Camping-043 It was Mattie’s first real hike, and she managed to keep up with us fairly well.  Watching her trot along with those short little legs made me realize that she had to go at least six steps for every one of ours.  Here and there, among the snags, we found old ponds and standing water.  Good enough for Mattie, although something in the 4 inch deep water scared her back out of it after taking a drink.

Waldo Lake Camping-050 In less than 3 miles, we found a side trail leading down toward the shore and enjoyed a beautiful break in the crystal clear cool waters.  Mattie is still learning to go into the water, and it was exciting to work with her and get her to actually retrieve a stick in belly deep water. 

Waldo Lake Camping-061 Fun for us and cooling for her before we began the trek back home. The hike was 5.7 miles, and on the way home, Mattie saw a strip of snag shade across the trail and decided to instantly flop down and rest.  That is when I knew that maybe we shouldn’t try to take her on more than a six mile hike on a sunny day in the mountains.

Waldo Lake near the swimming areaAfter we got back to camp and rested a bit, it was time to go back beyond the boat launch to the swimming area.  I so love swimming in crystal clear water with a clean sandy bottom.  But oh!  that water was COLD.  I managed to jump in and swim a bit, and then after warming on the nearby rock, I jumped in again and swam part way across the narrow channel to one of the islands. 

I was probably in the water a total of ten minutes at the most.  Wish I had a photo to prove it, but we didn’t bring the camera along for our swim.

Waldo Lake Camping-098 Back again at camp, Mo built a fabulous campfire and I heated up some leftovers I had planned for dinner before pulling out the marshmallows.  I have no idea why I do that, I don’t even really like the marshmallows, I just like to roast them.

Finally, as evening progressed, the little no seeum’s found us and we decided to retreat into the motorhome. 

Waldo Lake Camping-107 The next morning, while it was still early, we walked the opposite direction on the Shoreline Trail toward Islet Campground where we had stayed in 2010.  It is only about a mile and a half between campgrounds along the trail.  Still, even early in the morning, there wasn’t a single mosquito to bother us and the no see um’s were nowhere to be found either.

Waldo Lake Camping-124 A lovely breeze accompanied us as we hiked out on the Islet Peninsula where we tried to hike five years ago and were run off by mosquitoes.  I have no idea why there were none on this most magical trip.  I have no idea if they will hatch again before the fall frosts. 

When we turned around to walk back through Islet Campground, we checked out our previous campsite, and then saw two little dogs that looked an awful lot like Mattie.  Walking by, the two women who belonged to the dogs came over and asked if Mattie could be off leash and play. 

Waldo Lake Camping-130 What a time the three of them had!  Their dogs were also Rat Terrier mixes rescued from a shelter.  The women told us about a place near Portland along I-84 that is a 1,000 acre dog park.  I guess we will have to find it someday.

By the time we got back to camp and ready to pack up, Mattie was in her perfect travel dog mode.  She loves the motorhome, and always settles right down when we leave, usually in my lap or Mo’s depending on who is driving.  As the day progresses, she will retreat to her bed on the floor, but she is never a problem while we are moving along.  How lucky we are to have chosen a dog who likes being in the car or truck or MoHo especially!

Waldo Lake Camping-133Waldo Lake Camping-134If you would like to see the rest of the photos of our time at Waldo Lake, a link to my SmugMug Gallery is here.

  On Wednesday, we left the campground by ten and were in the parking lot at the Eugene Valley River Mall before noon.  In plenty of time for my doctor visit.  The temps were already getting hot, and we turned on the generator and the air, with plans to settle in for the afternoon.

Waldo Lake Camping-054 UhOh.  The generator rumbled to life and then within a few minutes, it rumbled right back into silence.  No generator.  Mo tried a few things, but while she was messing with it, I was calling local RV parks!  In plenty of time for my appointment with exactly one minute to spare, we managed to relocate to the Eugene Kamping World RV Park in Coburg, full hookups, TV and air conditioning!  The price was fine at $33 bucks and some change.  Armitage was nearby, but neither of us wanted to try to get in or find it.  This was quick and easy and served our purpose just fine.

Later that evening, after my successful three month surgery checkup, we drove back to the east side of Eugene to have dinner with Phil and Joanne, friends of mine since 1977, that are now friends of ours. 

It was the first time we had been to their new home, and Joanne had a great meal waiting for us.  Their son Michael and his sweetie joined us for pre dinner snacks.  It was great fun seeing him, and finding out that he is to be a new daddy in January.

Dinner at Phil and Joannes (1 of 6) I tried to get photos, but the new camera didn’t do quite what I expected, so these photos are a bit strange, but I wanted to put them here anyway, in honor of the lovely grilled salmon with homegrown basil pesto, quinoa and mushroom pilaf, and wonderful salad.  Joanne made a blackberry cobbler for us as well, a gluten free/vegan recipe that she was trying out.  It was interesting.  Sorry Joanne, I probably won’t be going gluten free any time soon. 

Dinner at Phil and Joannes (6 of 6) We left Eugene the next morning, grateful to be heading back over the crest of the Cascades as the record breaking heat wave was to hit the Willamette Valley and Eugene. 

In the next few days we are expecting exciting company from Harris Beach/Brookings, so I am grateful that the heat wave is predicted to dissipate a bit.

In the mean time, the Blue Moon is set to rise over the lake at 8:32 PM and I plan to be there to enjoy it!

(Later:  seems as though the Blue Moon was not mine to see.  Dark and loud, but dry thunderstorms rumbled over our evening skies last night, and the power went down as well, but not a drop of rain)

Writer’s Block

Current Location: Rocky Point, Oregon: nice evening after a gorgeous day

I really didn’t want to fall into the trap of trying to explain why I haven’t written.  Kind of like writing in your diary, “Dear Diary…sorry I haven’t written”.  Diary doesn’t care, I am sure.  Every one of us who write these open ended online journals run into writer’s block now and then.  This time it hit me half way home from our last trip.  If you don’t know me from elsewhere, you might think that we are still lost somewhere along the California coast.  If I were to return to my blog a year from now, trying to figure out where we were in April, I might be rather disappointed to see that we possibly beamed ourselves, Star Trek Style, from Eureka to Rocky Point.Trinity Scenic Byway (2 of 36)

There is so much going on at the moment in our lives that travel memories have taken a bit of a back seat, but that is another story.  Maybe I’ll get to it eventually, but not right now.

Trinity Scenic Byway (6 of 36) In actuality, the last two days of our short little vacation were spent ambling along at a snail’s pace.  We decided that Highway 299 would be a good route back toward home, over the beautiful Trinity Mountains and following along the gorgeous Trinity River. Called the Trinity Scenic Byway, the route is the main road that connects the upper Sacramento Valley to the California coast.

Trinity Scenic Byway (7 of 36) When we left Eureka, the fog was still hanging in over Humboldt Bay, but by the time we reached Berry Summit the fog was just a wisp in the wind shrouding the mountain but not obscuring the beautiful views. The day was brilliant, the skies gorgeous, the traffic minimal.  Redbuds were in bloom and the hills were Ireland green.  That springtime green thing in the coast range can be so incredibly vivid.  Like no other green I have ever seen anywhere.

Trinity Scenic Byway (12 of 36) We had a destination in mind, a mere 100 miles over the mountain to the little town of Weaverville, where I had scoped out a small RV park.  We were in no hurry, and stopped along the river for photos and views.  A few miles west of Weaverville, we found a forest service campground and pulled in to check it out. 

Trinity Scenic Byway (15 of 36)Trinity Scenic Byway (33 of 36) Not a soul in sight, and the camp host site was empty, but there were no gates to keep us out and after walking around a bit, listening to the river, we said, “Why not?!”  Our tanks were empty, we had plenty of water and no need for power so we pulled into the sweet little spot, opened up the door to the sunshine and the river and settled in for a lovely evening.  Three bucks with our senior pass.  Much better than that 35 bucks it would have cost in Weaverville.

Trinity Scenic Byway (31 of 36) The next morning we rose at our leisure and ambled on down the road to the sweet little gold rush town of Weaverville.  It was charming in the way that California gold towns can be, with interesting store fronts and historical signs on the buildings. 

Weaverville and Trinity Lake (8 of 33) We visited the Joss House museum visitor center, enjoying the well done displays of the Chinese culture that thrived in Weaverville during the gold rush.  Neither of us felt like waiting around for a tour, so we skipped the inside of the Chinese Temple. 

Weaverville and Trinity Lake (7 of 33) Once again, we were reminded of the great contribution made by the Chinese to the development of the American West.

Weaverville and Trinity Lake (14 of 33) With no desire to continue east to a boring interstate, we turned north on Highway 3, following the western shore of Trinity Lake.  The road was narrow and steep in places, but not unmanageable.  We stopped to view the nearly empty lake and read the non existent signs.  Weaverville and Trinity Lake (27 of 33) Sign vandalism is just stupid.  Although perhaps not as stupid as damming a river and backing up a lake over miles and miles of placer mine tailings. 

Weaverville and Trinity Lake (23 of 33) Now that the California drought has exposed the land drowned by the reservoir, I wonder if people who are users of the millions of gallons delivered annually to the California water project are at all worried about the lead and mercury left in those tailings.  I still can’t figure out the mindset of certain news pundits who say the California water problem is due to the environmentalists stopping the building of more reservoirs.  The ones already there have no water in them!  Talk about a waste of money!  Let’s build more dams so we can have more empty reservoirs?  This drought is long term, and not going to end next week.

Weaverville and Trinity Lake (32 of 33) We did see several warning signs stating that in 42 miles or so, the road would be unsuitable for trailers.  No problem.  We have driven those kinds of roads many times in the past.  After passing the little community of Coffee Creek, where we found nothing at all, we continued north toward Scott Mountain Pass.

Weaverville and Trinity Lake (30 of 33) We ignored the sign that said no trailers once again, and within a mile knew that had been a mistake.  Picture a hairpin turn with a 15 percent grade.  MoHo groaned up the hill and we managed to find a turnout on the very narrow road to unhook the baby car.  Next time we will pay attention.  This is not an easy climb, and definitely not a place to be towing. And no, there are no photos of these few challenging moments.

Mo drove on ahead with the MoHo while I followed along in the Tracker, enjoying the gorgeous views and the beautiful wild landscape of the Trinities.  Descending into the Scott Valley is a treat, with a landscape of ranching and river that is the heart of the old west.

Our evening destination, a mere 80 miles north of Weaverville, was the tiny community of Etna, California.  Just 20 miles south of Eureka, Etna is charming and quiet, and boasts a great little RV park, Mountain Village.  A Passport America park, there were level sites, full hookups, and grassy spaces between rigs.  With the park nearly empty, we enjoyed the late afternoon thoroughly.  For a mere $16.00, we spent our last night before returning to the cottage at Grants Pass the next day.

That leaning oak on the left will have to go when the house is built.  That is where the western wall will extend It has been just over three weeks since that day.  In that short time we spent a few days working at the cottage.  Mo managed to get the 30 amp to the MoHo shed and we mowed the acre that is greening up and growing fast.  My scheduled surgery required a few visits to Eugene and those overnight trips are always more delightful with the MoHo.  The one time we stayed in a hotel we decided, never again.   taking a break from electrical work in the RV shed

After Eugene, it was time to bring the MoHo back over the mountain to her berth in Grants Pass.  We missed having her at home and with winter behind us, it was time.  Of course, the only winter we had this year showed up on Easter Sunday with 1/2 an inch of snow and then again on April 14 with another half inch.  Crazy.

old fort road middleIn the last couple of months, we have made some big decisions about the future, moving toward a final goal of building a “forever”  home on the cottage property.  I also decided that it was time to sell the little house I bought in Klamath Falls back in 2002.  Daughter Melody decided that as a now single mom, she needed a bit less house to manage.  She has lived in the Klamath house since 2008. 

Melody and my granddaughter Axel each now have an apartment at the small complex that Mo has on the edge of town in Klamath Falls.  working at the apartments (10 of 12)Mo and I put some time in refurbishing those apartments, painting and cleaning, getting carpets and flooring installed so they are all nice and fresh.  It was hard work but also a fun project, nice to see the apartments all pretty again.  Renters are not often much fun, and don’t seem to care about how they live.  I am glad that we no longer have to deal with crummy renters who trash the place.

Painter progress (1 of 7) With Melody out of the Klamath house, it was time to spruce it up for sale.  I had renters in there during the time I lived in California for my final working years, and it needed fresh paint when Melody moved in back in 2008!  Again, Mo and I have been busy painting, fixing, repairing and getting the house ready for market.  I am really hoping that the time is right, and that she will sell quickly.

working on Painter (16 of 19) It is a great little historic bungalow in an historic neighborhood in a nice part of Klamath Falls. 

finished13 Early on during this three week process, I got a phone call from the two surgeons who will be working on me, saying that the surgery had to be rescheduled from April 13 to May 4, so I gained an extra three weeks to actually get the Klamath Falls house project done.  At least hopefully.

Mo and I feel like we are working again.  We leave the house every morning to go to one town or another, work all day, and drive home late all tired and worn out.  After surgery I am not supposed to lift anything over five pounds for 3 months!  Crazy.  So everything has to be done NOW or it won’t get done, at least not by me. 

So, writer’s block?  Yeah.  I think I have a reasonable excuse.