A SHORTER TRAVEL DAY
August 5, 2017- Day 3
I’ve made a little change to the look of this blog. Can you detect the difference from previous blogs?
The Vale Trails RV Park is a basic park on the edge of Vale. It’s within walking distance of downtown. There are some long term campers here but about half are short term and overnighters. The road adjacent to the park carries quite a bit of traffic but its not unbearable. This morning at dawn the Harleys fire up. Man, they sound close! Well they are! Four bikers came in last night and tent camped 150 feet away. Of course if you own one of those ungodly noisy bikes one must fire them up a half hour before departing and let them idle. However, if you can’t hear their motors idling one must gun the engine everyone and then. God, how I love those Harleys! The bikers all departed before 0730.
Downtown Ontario, Oregon
We packed up, hitched up and walked the dog before heading out by 0800 hours. Our route will take us into Ontario, Oregon where we will head up highway 95 to New Meadows, Idaho, then to highway 55 to McCall and our destination for a few days. Ontario is a snap to drive through this time of morning. Our problem arises when the truck’s onboard navigation system recommends a route that seems to take us out of our way. Jil looks up the directions on her “smart” phone which seem to be more direct. We are guided by Jil’s “smart” phone. Truck navigation reroutes in response. Truck and “smartie” systems again don’t jive. I ignore both of their recommendations. Truck and “smartie” go nuts. I’ve been in Ontario before and remember the best route for our 53′ length and 12.5′ of height. Both systems issue warnings of misdirection- “Danger Will Robinson, Danger”! Ah fooey with you guys I tell them. I’ve got it now…. RELAX!
Historic Weiser Train Depot
Navigating through Ontario presents no problems and we merge onto highway 95 and soon are back out into the country. Traffic is light as we drive by fields of corn and sorghum. Crossing the Snake River bring us to the State of Idaho. The town of Weiser (pronounced Weezer), a town of 5000 souls lies on its banks. No one knows who the town was named for but one Weiser was a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the other a trapper-turned-miner. Weiser is the seat of Washington County and is known for its area orchards, farms and livestock. The town was founded in anticipation of the opening of Olds Ferry across from Farewell Bend in 1861.
Pythian Building, Weiser
From Weiser the road takes us through bottom land, up over tall hills down to more bottom land. That scenario repeats itself several times. We come to the crest of one hill to find a roadside sign stating “Low Visibility Area Ahead”. Yep, that meant cold smoke had settled into the valley below. We pass through tiny Midvale, then not quite as small Cambridge (325 souls), which is the second largest town in Washington County behind Weiser. Cambridge is host to the Washington County Fair and Rodeo which is in full swing as we pass through.
The Sorta Famous Bucky’s Cafe
More farmland, a narrow steep walled canyon which the Weiser River runs through, and more rolling hills before we reach the seat of Adams County. Council (830 souls) was mourning the loss of one of their finest in Iraq when we passed through two years ago. He left a wife and and infant child. So sad. This time we stop at the ranger station and find Smoke Jumpers! The men and women are deep into their morning exercise routine- 200 pushups, 100 burpees, 200 sit ups, 1 thousand pull ups, 40 mile sprints. OK, I exaggerate a wee bit, but they were working up a sweat. I asked one if they had fought fire. The reply- “not yet, but we are getting ready”. Go with God, my friends, and be safe.
Two Block Long Downtown Council
OK, now we are heading uphill into pine country following the Weiser River canyon for miles. It’s really pretty up here. We pass a few cabins and the Tamarack Lumber Mill. The mill is situated on both sides of highway 95. The mill prides itself in the fact that only 1% of a log ends up unusable waste. That, to me, is incredible. A few miles past the mill is New Meadows, a community of just less than 500 souls. It is located at the intersection of US. 95 and Idaho State 55. The town hosts the last surviving Pacific and Idaho Northern depot, a significant cultural and historical resource, listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Without the P.I.N. railroad New Meadows would arguably not exist.
The area around New Meadow is an outdoorsman’s heaven. Hunting, fishing, alpine skiing and off roading are close by. To the north lies Riggins- the Gateway to the Salmon River. Travel east and one can visit Payette Lake and the lakeside community of McCall. We travel over Idaho 55 past ranch land then up a steep, narrow canyon. Reaching the crest the road takes us to the very popular resort town of McCall. Traffic is heavy on its two lane main street as the town of 3000 swells to 10,000 at times. This might be one of those times!
Our layover here includes a 5 night stay at the super nice McCall RV Resort. Jil’s brother and sister in law live in town. The last time we visited was two years ago. We have a lot of catching up to do. So two and a half days of travel brings us to the first of three planned visits.
And the smoke from all of the wildfires lingers on…………………..