01-13-2021 Surprise Surprise, we go to the Coast Again

Mo has made it an important priority to get out in the MoHo at least once a month.  Weather be danged, we need to go somewhere!  Often our winter getaway begins in late January and includes a week or a month or whatever it takes to get south to the warm deserts.  We had reservations in early February for a trip to Catalina Spa, but with COVID raging in Southern California finally decided that we needed to cancel or at least delay that trip until it feels a bit safer to be traveling to that part of the world.

Site #69 at Bastendorff Beach County Park

We can stay fairly well distanced in the MoHo, but much of what we love to do in the warm deserts while near Palm Springs include dining out, spending time in the pools and the hot tub, and going to the big movie house with wine and comfy recliners.  When I called Catalina I found out that the pools are open, but the spa, restrooms, and all other facilities at the park are closed for now.  Ah well, time to figure out something to do in January since our early February trip is a bust.

Mo spent a bit of time researching coastal locations and parks and found a Coos County park near Coos Bay that sounded interesting.  When I called  Bastendorff Beach County Park the lady on the phone said we probably wouldn’t need a reservation and could waive the $12. reservation fee by just arriving, finding a caretaker, and picking a site.

We loaded up the MoHo in the rain the day before our departure, and planned once again to spend some time at the beach, in spite of the predicted rainy weather. The familiar drive north on I-5 was uneventful.  We stopped for fuel in Canyonville at Seven Feathers since they have the best price around, even less than the Love’s Truck Stop just a few miles north.  Neither of us can figure out why gas is sneaking back up again, and instead of the $2.29 we have been paying it has risen to $2.57 at our local Fred Meyer, and $2.45 at Seven Feathers.  I read some old blogs of mine recently talking about gas being close to $4. a gallon on some of our trips, so the complaint isn’t a huge one, just a bit of a surprise.

Arriving at the park right at 2PM we were a bit lost as we attempted to figure out the process of checking in.  We unhooked the baby car in the big parking lot and then saw a caretaker near the main office/garage and the mechanic took us inside to check for empty spaces. 

Lower campground area at Bastendorff Beach Park

He was surprised that the park was almost filled up beginning Friday night and we planned to stay through Saturday.  Both of us laughed when we looked at the calendar and realized that the upcoming weekend was the 3 day holiday weekend for Martin Luther King Day. We drove through the park a bit, first leaving the MoHo in his recommended site #46 with “an ocean view” before driving up the hill to a sunnier part of the park, minus the view. 

We decided on site #69, long and fairly level, with a table and a firepit in a space that looked like it got lots of sun.  That was important to me for this time at the beach, and the older sites in the lower part of the park were intensely shaded.  It didn’t help that a storm on the previous night had left lots of tree branches and debris all over the camp road, and site 46 while somewhat level was surrounded by mud.

The roads through the park are quite narrow

Settling into our spot, we were quite happy with our choice.  Within a short time we were ready to bundle up and go explore a ‘new to us’ beach.  There are a few narrow roads north of the park that wind toward Coos Head and a Coast Guard facility high on the bluff overlooking the point where the water from Coos Bay enters the ocean. 

There is a rock jetty on each side of the river, with the one by Bastendorff Beach having a paved walking path at the top of the jetty.  With high tide warnings and king tides ongoing this time of year on the Oregon Coast, we knew it wasn’t wise to walk on the jetty.

Instead, we walked down along the path that bordered the BLM off-road area that crisscrossed the sand.  There is no driving on the actual beach, but the off road section seemed quite popular.  There are also no enforced dog leash rules, in spite of what the sign said.  Someone later told me that the rules don’t apply to the hard sand portion of the beach where dogs can run at will.  We let Mattie run a tiny bit that first afternoon.

Heading back home to our cozy spot we settled in with a card game, casting a bit of live news from the phone to the TV, and enjoying a good pre-cooked chile verde supper brought from home.

10-01-2020 Traveling to Northern Washington

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The MoHo in Site 3 at LePage on the John Day River

I have hesitated a bit in writing this particular blog. I set the posting date for October 6, but today it is actually October 26 and I am finally sitting down to write about our trip. 

Early evening at LePage where the John Day River meets the Columbia

Some might guess the reason for my hesitation.  It was a family visit, one of those gatherings that seem to engender all sorts of responses from all random corners of the internet about social distancing, mask wearing, and staying at home.  I know there will be reactions out there and I really don’t like having to explain myself, but I guess I have to at least try, because I want to write about our trip.  I don’t want an empty spot in the blog that is our personal history.

Late Afternoon on the John Day River

After many months of keeping mostly to ourselves, like others, I suffered from family hunger.  I wanted to see my daughter before winter set in, I wanted to see my grandkids before they have grandchildren of their own, I wanted to see my great-grandkids.  I said to Mo,  “What do you think about a trip to Lincoln to visit Deanna and Keith?”.  As always, Mo was ready for a journey, ready for a trip, and we decided we could take our chances and go visit the family.  In fairness, I talked extensively with Deanna before deciding to go.  At the time, her county in northeastern Washington state had 2, yes, you read that right, 2 cases of COVID and no deaths.  Our county here in Oregon had some of the lowest numbers in our state as well.  My grandson is isolated on his homestead, and my great-grandkids are being schooled at home.  No one seemed to be in any danger of either being sick or being exposed.  Mo and I were clean, the family was clean, and we decided to go. 

Full moon night on the John Day River at LePage

Unlike days in the past, where my blog had a few hundred readers each day, the numbers have reduced considerably since I no longer blog on a regular basis.  The days of blogging the way we used to are definitely waning, but as I had said before, it is the history and the memories that are important to me.  If I were writing only for myself, I would have to make no explanations, but even the few readers I have left will no doubt have some opinions, pro or con, about our choice to travel and visit family.  So, to set the minds of those few readers at ease…it has been 3 weeks now and we are all just fine and still healthy.

We decided to travel the eastern route toward Crater Lake and Highway 97, intercepting I-84 at Biggs Junction on the Columbia River.  It would have been possible to make the trip in a day of long driving, as my daughter Deborah did, but no reason for us to do that.  Instead, we made a reservation at LePage, a campground we are familiar with and have used often.

I was very glad I had made the reservation since the campground was completely full.  It is an easy place to stay for an overnight, and with our geezer pass quite inexpensive with water and electric. The somewhat shocking surprise was the recent clearing of the big old cottonwoods and locust trees that shaded the campground.  It felt quite different, and much more open, but for only a night it wasn’t bad.  On a hot day, I am sure folks would miss those trees, however the newly planted saplings will be more healthy, much safer, and will eventually shade the campsites.

The view from Deanna’s windows

Smoke at varying levels was our constant companion on the trip north, and the murky skies followed us all the way to Davenport.  Once we arrived at daughter Deanna and husband Keith’s property, the smoke cleared a bit.  Our early afternoon arrival was perfect, in time to visit before supper.

Left to Right:  Deanna, Deb, Keith, Mo

Daughter Deborah, and Grandson Matthew had arrived the previous night after driving all day from Southern Oregon.  When we got to Deanna’s everyone was having a great time cooking together and visiting.  Grandson Steven lives about an hour north, and he drove down for dinner as well with my other great-grandson Matthew.  The younger Matt became known as Matt-Two as the weekend wore on.

Theron “Tito”, Tracey, and Tearany “Squish”

On Saturday morning the rest of the family arrived, with Tracey coming from Wenatchee with 3 of my great-grandkids to spend the weekend. 

Keith and Deanna have a dog free house, but they made an exception for Mattie

Grandpa Keith with my great-grandson Orion

Left to right: Keith, Theron, Orion, Tearany, Deanna, Matt-Two

Deanna’s home is on acreage overlooking Roosevelt Lake, and there is a resident herd of bighorn sheep that help themselves to her ripe peaches and apples. 

Notice the pretty orange Kubota tractor.  Keith and Deanna purchased Mo’s trusty Kubota last summer.  We lots of photos of grandkids being driven around by Mo on that tractor when they were small.

We later made a trip back to grandsons Steven’s house to see his beautiful homestead and meet his new sweetheart.  The day was warm and sunny with the skies clearing a bit.  

Grandsons Matthew and Steven

Stormy and Steven at their home

Deanna, Deborah and Mattie checking out the chicken house at Steven’s place

With lots of food and laughter the day just seemed to flow and came to a great conclusion with a late birthday party for me and for Steven, who share the same birthdate, September 15.  It is kind of neat that my first grandchild was born on my 37th birthday.

Great-grandkids decorated our birthday cake

With lots of silliness going on, we laughed a lot at Matt-Two’s interpretation of the yoga moves that Stormy and Steven were directing. 

It was beyond wonderful having the chance to see this part of my family again.  I haven’t visited these great-grandkids for almost 3 years, since Christmas 2018, and I felt like I simply couldn’t wait any longer. I’ll treasure every single moment of this visit. 

We chose to return on Monday by way of Mo’s brother’s home in Beaverton, who has also been socially distanced with his own family bubble for several months.  We broke our bubble to share time with them as well, but opted for an outdoor supper at the local food cart parking lot on the outskirts of Portland.  It wasn’t quite as exciting as I had hoped, with the biggest cartlandia location being recently closed and many carts relocated throughout the city.  Still it was a fun evening and Dan and Chere had hookups and space available for the MoHo so we could sleep in our own space.

Silly me, I got photos of the new living room furniture at Melody’s but no people photos!

The trip south toward Grants Pass took us within three miles of Daughter Melody’s new home in Brownsville and we stopped in for an afternoon visit and lunch with her as well.  Melody is still working from home after 7 months now.  She and Robert moved into their “new” home (built in 1908) right as COVID started and she has been working from home every since.

Overall it was a wonderful trip, with a warm dose of family time to help heal the isolation that we have been living through for so very long.  And as I said, we are all OK.  Might be nothing more than pure luck, but I am glad that luck was with all of us.

07-18-2020 Great Way to End our Trip

When we planned this trip, we decided 3 nights in the mountains was just about right for being away from home during the hot summer.  We always have watering season in mind, and a low producing well requires paying attention to water levels in the well cistern and in the treated water cistern.  This time of year it is a delicate balance.  We are lucky enough to have Grandson Matthew nearby for the daily hand watering and checking of the wells, hose connections, and various levels of the system, but I hate to expect too much of him. Still, when Mo suggested that instead of driving all the way home from Cascade Lakes that we could stop off for a night at the Kla-mo-ya Casino in Chiloquin I agreed.  Another day shouldn’t make much difference and we would be home by Saturday mid day to make sure all was watered as the temperature crawled into the expected triple digits.

Confluence of Spring Creek and the Williamson River at Collier Memorial State Park

The temperatures were heating up as we left camp and drove south on Highway 97 and as we discussed boondocking at the casino, I felt hesitation creeping in.  Even if it was open, did I really want to go in and touch slot machines and eat in the restaurant?  We had been carefully social distancing for the entire trip and this suddenly felt a bit crazy to me.  It also was building toward a very hot day, and keeping the MoHo cool when it is in the low 90’s on generator power isn’t much fun, and is terribly noisy.

Site number 4 at Collier Memorial State Park

Bingo! An idea.  Why don’t we stop before Chiloquin at the lovely, shaded Collier Memorial State Park, nestled in at the confluence of the Williamson River and Spring Creek? We drove south knowing our new plan might not be feasible with all the people on the road, the fact that it was a Friday night, and that the park was no doubt fully reserved.  Still, it was worth a try.

Sure enough, when we pulled in, the camp host told us all was full and completely reserved and there would be no space for us any time that weekend.  I showed her my newly acquired disability car tag, mentioning that perhaps there was an ADA space still open?  She looked at my card and my gray hair and my walking sticks and said, “Just a minute, let me ask the Ranger.  He just drove up.”  I smiled at him, sweetly, saying, “We live in Grants Pass and are returning from Cascade Lakes and I am not sure we can drive all the way back home this late in the day.”  He talked with the camp host a bit more, and then said, “Hey, just put them in Number 4.  Why not?”  I have no idea why space number 4 was a “why not” space unless it was saved for the camp hosts for some reason.  There are 4 camp hosts in the park, all lined up at the entrance, and site 4 was next to the last camp host site.

The host was worried that there wouldn’t be room for our car, but no problem.  With a short rig and a shorter car we slid in just fine.  Within minutes we had full hookups,including a sewer dump and plenty of power to turn on the AC.  It was a welcome sound, noise and all, since things were beginning to heat up.

Our main reason for staying close to Klamath Falls was to take flowers to the cemetery where Mo’s parents are laid to rest.  We stopped off at the local Fred Meyer for some flowers and drove south to the open and quite lovely grounds.  Mo said there was water at the site, and nice heavy vases for filling.  Turns out the water was off, but a bottle in the back of the car worked fine with just enough for the flowers.

On the way home we stopped in at the Williamson River Campground about a mile north of Collier State Park along the river.  It was also very nearly full, but there were just a couple of sites that were still open for one night only.  This FS campground has no hookups, but would have sufficed for us if we hadn’t been able to get into Collier State Park.

Back home in the rig at Collier State Park, we ate the last of the home cooked meals I had prepared for our trip and settled in with cards and books for the rest of the evening. 

Collier is a lovely park, with moderately spacious sites on some loops and closer sites on others.  It is shaded by a dry pine forest, and during our visit we noticed that there was no sign of the famous mosquitoes that can be such a plague in this part of the world.

The night was pleasant and quiet, but certainly not as dark as our nights had been at Crane Prairie with a few lights marking the entrance kiosk nearby and porch lights on some of the rigs.

The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast before taking Mattie for a nice walk down to the river along the Williamson River Trail.  The river campsites are the best, along the southern end of the campground if one wants to make a reservation.  I think that like most campgrounds, if it is not in full summer season, it might be easy enough to find a spot for an overnight on a weekday.

I had forgotten how fresh and clean a dry pine forest smells.  This is a landscape similar to some that I mapped when working in the Klamath Basin, and it was fun to see familiar plants along the trail. 

Mo and I have kayaked Spring Creek in the past, but have never had our boats on the Williamson.  From the trail, the part of the Williamson that we could see looked perfect for our boats, but there are riffles and rocky shallows in parts of the river as it approached Klamath Lake that we aren’t sure about. 

Mattie was NOT interested in going swimming this time

In addition to the Williamson, Mo and I have never kayaked the Wood River which is a few miles west, and are hoping that possibly we can get on either or both of these rivers with soil scientist friend Katie, who knows both rivers fairly well.  Another plan for a future summer day. We hiked along the Williamson and the lower part of the Spring Creek Trail south of the bridge crossing Highway 97.

After our walk, we packed up for the last leg home, leaving the park around 11:30 AM.  It was a familiar trip for us, south to Chiloquin on Highway 97, and across the Wood River Valley toward Rocky Point.  Once in Rocky Point we decided it was worth it to unhook the Tracker for a little trip up Easy Street to check out our previous home nestled in the trees.  We were delighted to see that the current owners have completed a lot of big tree work.  There were several huge pines cut up and lying around on the ground, and the remaining pines and firs had been limbed to at least 30 feet above ground.  They also had lots of cute farm signs tucked around and a big pile of firewood in the front yard.  It wasn’t as gorgeous as it was when Mo had her beautiful lawns but at least it looked cared for.  It still looks like the owners are using it as a second home, which makes me wonder if they will ever leave their million dollar house in the Bay Area for life in Rocky Point.

It was an excellent trip, and ended on a nice note as we drove around Rocky Point recounting old memories.  It was even nicer to get back to Sunset House in Grants Pass, where the air conditioning had turned on as scheduled.  I have finally decided that it is our wood floors that make the house smell so incredibly good after we return after being away for a time.  That first waft of air as we open up the door is such pleasure.

In addition to managing to get in and out of the kayak, I discovered that I could manage a decent flat trail for almost 3 miles if I had my walking sticks.  Very encouraging for me.

Not sure what comes next for us.  We are back to our daily life of watering the gardens, working on small projects that are pleasing but not terribly intense, enjoying a good supper before settling in to some truly entertaining Netflix evening entertainment.  Getting hooked on a series now and then isn’t a bad thing during this time of quiet isolation at home.