Traveling to Spokane

Picasa photo link for today:

Wednesday morning
Finally, finally, a MoHo trip. Reading about all those folks who are full-timing out there is so much fun, but for us for the time being, we have to take what we can when we can. I left Jamestown at 3am in order to get to Mo’s early enough in the day for us to have a nice evening on the Columbia River on our way to Spokane. Our route from Klamath took us north on HWY 97, through Bend and Redmond to Madras and on north to the Biggs Junction on Interstate 84. Even though we were in Madras just a little more than a year ago, it was incredible seeing the growth and development that is occurring along that corridor. Redmond is now boasting big houses and brand new huge shopping centers that may eventually rival all the growth in Bend. The traffic was bad as well, with everyone in a hurry and aggressive. I kept wondering if really was a Tuesday afternoon and not a busy weekend. I also wonder what kind of recession we are really in, because even at more than 4 bucks a gallon there are a lot of big rigs, big trucks, rv’s, boats and toys being hauled around on the highways. Someone still has the money to play, as we do I guess. I know some people are really feeling all this, and I wonder how long it will take to hit the rest of us out here traveling the highways. So far we have managed to keep on doing whatever it is that we would be doing if gas were cheaper. We still drive 60mph to try to keep our mileage better, still buy discount gas at safeway and Costco whenever we can, but we still go where we want to go.

We are back on I-84 following Dan to Spokane after a really nice stop at theriver for a relaxing overnight. We originally planned to stay at the Maryhill State Park on the Washington side of the river at Biggs Junction, but the price was a bit steep at 38. We found the much less expensive LePage Park at the John Day Lock and Dam. Our national pass saved us half the hook up price which is a deal at $17. anyway, with electric 30 amp and water. The park itself is small and pleasant, with decent 2 bar telephone service. I let our air card go since I really didn’t want to keep paying 60 a month for that service when we aren’t traveling full time. I hope I don’t miss it too much. I suppose I can hang out at rest areas if I really need to get on the internet now and then. It all balances out eventually.

We are caravanning to Spokane from the park with Mo’s brother Dan. Being a bit independent, this is the first time that we have done this with someone and it’s a bit different, but should be fun. Dan and Chere, Mo’s brother and sister in law are in a nice Class A rig pulling a jeep. Her other brother Roger, who also has a Class A couldn’t make the trip this time, so we are the only two in the caravan. Does that qualify as a caravan?

We had a truly lovely relaxing morning today, after finally falling asleep during a very hot night. It was sunny and 104 degrees yesterday when we arrived at the park at 6pm. Hot, with a dry wind that made it feel like a real desert. We set up, and appreciated how easy this is getting for us now that we understand all the little details, but of course we still don’t have to do the satellite dish thing, and at this park we didn’t even have sewer, so it was all pretty quick. Steps worked, levelers worked, slide worked. I love it when things work. Funny side story however, this morning we ran out of water pressure as our fresh water tank emptied. Couldn’t figure out why, since we were supposed to be hooked up to shore water, and Mo finally found a little plug in the faucet that she had put there to keep bugs out while we were traveling. Oops, I didn’t take it out when I hooked up the water, and of course, we were just running off our water tank instead of shore water. Little things.

Dinner was about as good as you get, and fast as well. The little gas bbq that I got from Wal-Mart is still a hit, heats up fast and we had magnificent bbq’d pork chops in about 10 minutes, while I put some cole slaw together and microwaved a sweet potato. A glass of good red wine and things couldn’t be better. After dinner we took Abby swimming and discovered that the John Day River in this area is dammed up by the John Day dam enough that even though it’s deep, there isn’t enough current to worry about the dog getting carried away, so she had a great time swimming in the deep water, and then later when we took her over to the swimming beach where she kept trying to find water deep enough to swim in. The park itself is a really nice place, and we added it to the list of places where we might return and spend a few days hiking and definitely kayaking up the John Day River. Even though the park is in close proximity to the interstate, we couldn’t hear it at all down in the park, and even though the spaces are close together, they are all pointed toward the river in such a way that when you are sitting at your table, it’s still private enough that it isn’t too bad. We had a young couple with kids right next to us in a tent, and the only bad part was waking up at 530 am in a funny mood and worrying that our silly laughter might wake the neighbors.

We were waiting for Dan and Chere to arrive after 10 or so, so we had plenty of time to go for a nice hike up along a service road that paralleled the river along the middle slope of the basalt. High enough to see the rivers and trains and such, but not so high and steep that it was a difficult hike. We were entertained by flocks of chukkars running straight up the cliffs, lots of deer tracks and coyote tracks, and then Abby found a rattlesnake who obligingly gave us a great warning as we approached. Mo tried to get a photo, but I won’t know if it came out till I upload the photos.

Basalt on the Columbia Plateau and in this canyon is part of what is one of the largest continuous basalt plateaus in the world. I think the only large one is in India somewhere. The basalt has several different members with different characteristics, and different flows within individual members that have differential rates of cooling that makes them look like pillars and pillows, and little square chunks called entablature. Then there are in between layers of pillow basalts that cooled under water, and conglomerates that were picked up from old river beds by the hot lava and all sorts of other interesting things. Of course, this area was also flooded 13,000 years ago by the catastrophic Missoula Floods, another fascinating story, so some of the very old rounded alluvial gravels that we found may have come from ancient Lake Missoula which covered a very large part of the state of Montana before the ice dam broke and created the floods.

Regardless of the origins, the basalts are fascinating and lovely to look at while hiking along the canyons along the rivers.

Recreation Creek

This is one of those “other traveling tales” that isn’t about traveling in the MoHo, but for travelers, this is a place worth talking about. I drove to Klamath this past weekend, where Mo lives just a short distance up the road from the most wonderful kayak/canoe trail that we have found yet. The MoHo is waiting patiently in Jamestown for our coming beach trip, and then she will return to Klamath with Mo for the summer. In the mean time, until I retire to this place next year, I drive more than 400 miles each way to have the chance to kayak on these pristine waters as often as I can.

When the temperatures are hovering around 100 degrees in Central California, the cool nights of the mountains of Oregon are a respite worth the drive. Recreation Creek and Crystal Creek are on the western side of the Upper Klamath Wildlife Refuge. One of the highlights of my soils career was the opportunity to map the marsh soils in the 11,000 acre bird wonderland. The canoe trail is one of the best I know of, and the water is crystal clear from the input from meltwaters of the Cascade snow packs that feed the underground springs that feed the creeks and the wetlands.

We kayak this creek often, at different times of the year, and each time has surprises. The wetlands support tall bullrushestules“, that in summer make navigating without a GPS a daunting task, especially if you travel out into the marsh at all. But this year the spring came later, and the wocus flowers were just emerging and the tules were still brown and low so that nothing interrupted the views. We heard blue herons and sandhill cranes, saw lots of geese and ducks, willits, and red wing and yellow headed blackbirds. One of the best treats was watching a huge flock of white pelicans flying high over the marsh as they were arriving. I have never seen a flock this big before, and they were very high in the sky, circling and circling for a very long time. I thought maybe they were just arriving and trying to decide where to hang out for the springtime.

The beavers were especially active this year as well, and when we put our boats into the water later in the evening on Sunday we were boating with beavers. Fun. Somewhat like our kayaking with dolphins in the lo country of South Carolina. There were at least 6 we think, all swimming along, very busy of course. The whap of their tails on the water is loud. I tried making my paddle do the same and watched the instant diving of the beaver that had been swimming along beside us nonchalantly.
If you love to kayak on quiet fresh water, don’t miss this experience. The channel of the creek is deep and dark, bounded on the east by the fresh water wetlands of the marsh and on the west by the high ridge of the eastern Cascades. Mt McLaughlin, Harriman Peak, Pelican Butte all are visible rising above the steep front beside the stream. In the north are the peaks that surround Crater Lake, the Watchman and Mt Scott, covered with snow. Two wilderness areas are visible as well, the Sky Lakes Wilderness and the Mountain Lakes Wilderness. It’s a place that rivals any I have ever experienced. I have added the link for the canoe trail and another one for the birding trail that is here as well. If you are anywhere near Klamath and if you love to kayak or canoe, it’s a treat not to be missed.
Malone Springs is just off the West Side Road a few miles north of Rocky Point. It’s free boondocking, with a narrow gravel road that could still accomodate a motorhome and a large turn around area with a couple of camp sites right at the springs. Be ready for mosquitos, however, but it’s a beautiful spot. Of course, there is always the Rocky Point Resort for good food and camping as well, with space for RV’s, We launch either here at Rocky Point or at Malone Springs for the trip north to Crystal Springs, another deep velvet green wonderland spring. ahh, Oregon, how I love you.
All these places are listed as part of the itinerary for the volcanic scenic byway that includes Crater Lake.

If the photos have inspired you to look further, check out the Recreation Creek album on my Picassa website. The link is at the top of this blog page.

MoHo goes to Klamath

Last Monday was a holiday for me, so Mo and I ran down to the valley to get some work done on the MoHo. Didn’t happen, but we had a fun day any way. Did the Home Depot thing and even got to go to Costco, which I don’t do here in California because it’s too far away for me to justify the purchase of a membership. Got home by 3 and had time to make a great baked chicken dinner with oven fries. Amazing how easy it is to not feel guilty when your fries are baked not fried.

Mo was was planning to go to Klamath this week by herself to try to get the MoHo registered, and we kept watching the weather window, with really cold temperatures and snow. The window was pretty short and the T up there was 0 to 5 degrees, not a good plan for being in a motorhome with the water lines still not winterized. So Monday afternoon while cooking supper I had a brainstorm. “Let’s leave a 2 am, I’ll go with you, we will get to Klamath mid day when it is a warm 25 degrees, there is no snow predicted for at least 2 days, and we will get out of Klamath and back down off the mountain (Shasta) by dark. I can help drive and we can do it.”

So we did it. Left at 2 am, got home 24 hours later at 2:30 am. whew. The funniest part for me was that while the alarm was set for 2 am, so we could leave at 3, I woke up at something like 11:30, and couldn’t sleep, so we just gave up and got up and left. 3 hours sleep doesn’t work too well for me! I am at work today and my brain isn’t functioning at all. It was a fun trip, though, an adventure, with a bit of excitement added. About 80 miles from home with more than 300 to go the moho dropped something important on the freeway at high speeds. Guess the manifold and exhaust system didn’t have a clamp done right and everything came undone. Because of the time window, heavy rain in California, at the fact that it was 3 am and nothing was open, we just kept going and made it all the way to Klamath. I can’t tell you what a Ford V10 sounds like with no muffled exhaust system, especially climbing up the pass over Mt Shasta. Hysterical. We bombed into the rest areas in our new fancy rig sounding like some kind of teenager from 50’s hell. Got to Klamath by 10 am and managed to get the thing fixed right away at the Ford dealer. Amazing that they said, “oh here, let us roll her in right now”, instead of “come back a week from Tuesday” The guys were laughing when we drove it in, saying, “Hmmm, did someone drive over a snoberm somewhere?” “No, we don’t live in this stuff, we did this in California!” The question was valid, since Klamath has had a real winter this year, and the berms are piled up everywhere in parking lots and between driving lanes on the roads. Some are so high that it’s even hard to see the top of the MoHo which is nearly 11 feet.

After getting things fixed, we parked in Wal-Mart and rented a car to drive out to Mo’s house where the snow is many feet deep. That was fun as well just trying to walk up to her door without crashing into a big snow hole. Drove back to town, bought a burger and and actually got back over the pass before any more snow hit. It was a gorgeous sunny 4 degrees when we left Klamath, and pouring and 43 degrees by the time we hit the valley in California. You never saw 2 more worn out old ladies in your life. We both drove, but Mo did the last really hard part from the valley up to my house with all the hard rain and narrow roads with no shoulders and curvy stuff. I hate that awful feeling of driving and having to keep driving when I am sooooo sleepy and tired. ugh.

August 31 2005 To the Steens

Transcribed from the old very poorly hand written leather journal on April 14 2015. 

I certainly didn’t keep track of what we did and saw nearly as well back then as I try to do now!

Click here for Photos of our trip to the Steens

20767 mileage on the baby MoHo2005_09_Steens Mtn104

Leaving at 9:50 AM from Rocky Point.  Maiden voyage with the white Tracker as our Toad.  I arrived at Mo’s at 8am and we set up the hitch to tow the GEO, bikes are on the Geo, lights are working except for the right turn signal and right brake.

Planning to go to LensCrafters in Eugene and get my glasses then on to Albany for Melody’s show tonight.  Plan to leave tomorrow AM for Burns via Highway 20, then French Glen and Steens Mountain tomorrow night.  Very excited to finally see the Steens!

Current events include a huge hurricane Katrina which devastated New Orleans Gulf Port MS among others.  around 17000 people are trapped in the SuperDome in NO.

September 1.  We had a good trip with no problems towing the GEO.  We parked in front of Melody’s apartment for the night and unhooked to drive to Corvallis to see her show.  I got my glasses quickly in Eugene and we got to Albany by 4:30 or so.  Supper at McMennamin’s.  Coffee with Melody and a cereal breakfast in the MoHo then on the road by 9:30AM.  We will gas up and get some groceries and head for Burns.

2005_09_Steens Mtn006 Filled the tank in Albany at $2.59 per gallon getting just over 10 mpg.  Melody’s band played just a little over an hour last night.  Deb came down but got there late.  I of course, loved hearing and watching Melody but the second band was way too loud.  Will get some groceries and be out of town before long.  Hooking up the Geo is pretty easy.

251 miles to Burns since we filled in Albany this morning.  Gas here at the Shell is 2.99!  Took us 7 hours to get here since the pass was slow.  We stopped and checked out a couple of campgrounds, ate lunch and dumped the tanks near Sisters.  Found a free dump site on Highway 20 just past the 395 road.

Arrived at French Glen around 7pm and found a great site at Page Springs #1 for 4 bucks per night with the Golden Age Pass.  Set up camp and made a chef’s salad for supper and enjoyed the balmy desert evening air.

2005_09_Steens Mtn094 Up this morning to a pleasant morning made sausage eggs and potatoes and cleaning up to organize the MoHo before we left for our day doing the Steens Loop.

Drove to the South loop and decided to go up the hard part instead of down.  Left around ten and home around 3:30 or so.  It was cool and beautiful up there.  We walked to the Summit, viewed Wild Horse Lake, East Viewpoint, Kiger Gorge Viewpoint, and the baby geo did great in 4 wheel drive.

2005_09_Steens Mtn012 At home we decided to move the MoHo for better shade, relaxed till things cooled down at bit, went for a bike ride, and then ate a great 4 course supper of salad, then veggies, then corn, and finally steak.  Treated ourselves to hot showers and a beautiful night of stars after a pink sunset and a little campfire time.

Everything seems to be working well.  Left light is gray water, right light is black water.

September 3 Saturday

2005_09_Steens Mtn039 Amazingly uncrowded for Labor Day Weekend.  Up at 7 for coffee and egg breakfast again.  Lovely cool morning but it warmed up fast.  It certainly hasn’t been as cold as we expected, just right.  Warm days, balmy evenings, cool nights.  Perfect.

We left at 9:30 for the big loop around the east side of the Steens.  Took the Diamond Crater scenic drive and saw lava flows and an amazing water filled crater called a moar.

2005_09_Steens Mtn032 On to the French round barn and museum, which was surprisingly lovely and a really amazing building.  Through some boring stuff till we got to the East Steens Road where it became very wild and beautiful again.  The east face of the Steens was impressive. At Alvord Lake we saw land sailing on the playa.  Had a chocolate shake and fries at Field’s and then finished the 210 mile loop to our camp.  Now we are relaxing in the shade with a glass of wine and reviewing the day after a light hamburger supper.  In bed at 8:30

September 4 Sunday.

2005_09_Steens Mtn097 Woke to beautiful morning and coffee in bed, cereal for a light breakfast before our hike up Blitzen canyon.  The hike was pretty but challenging because it was very primitive.  Lots of rocks and talus and what looked like poison ivy.  We finally gave up after two miles.  Saw some backpackers camped back in there but it was just too rough to be enjoyable.  Molly did get to swim a lot, however.  Home to visit with our camp hosts and shared a beer with them.

We had a great family style dinner at French Glen shared with people from Germany and the US.

September 5 Monday

2005_09_Steens Mtn105 Leaving at 8:50 An after getting up around 7 and having a cereal breakfast.  Had to take on some water since we ran out last night during my shower.  Clean skies, cool morning, heading for home via Nevada.

A long weekend at the Brookings condo

Transcribed in April 2011 from very sketchy notes in our old leather journal, with help from the photos.

03_Nov_Brookings003 03_Nov_Brookings004 Mo has a condo in Brookings that overlooks the Pacific from high on a cliff.  Although she offers it as a vacation rental, she can stay there for 17 days per year without losing any of the tax benefits.  We had to leave Molly at Double C for boarding, however, since the condo association has a “no pet” rule. 

03_Nov_Brookings001 03_Nov_Brookings015 Mo’s brother Roger and his wife Nancy drove over from Corvallis to spend the weekend with us.  We had a great time walking the beaches, cooking and eating out a couple of times.  The condo is quite comfortable with two full bedrooms and an incredible view with a deck for sunset watching.  The beach is private, and there is a very long steep staircase leading down to the water.  We found three big old whale vertebra bones that we rescued for garden art back home. 

03_Nov_Brookings038On the way home we stopped at the Jedediah Smith State Park, a cathedral of silent redwoods underlain by thick moss, ferns and shadowy paths.