Wednesday, August 15, 2019
Last year we started our trip to the Great Lakes with skies a dirty yellow-brown in color. Heavy smoke at home from California wild fires filled the Truckee Meadows. As we headed north on US 395 the smoke did not subside. Driving east to Ontario, OR offered no relief. The air quality didn’t improve in McCall, ID when visiting with Jil’s brother and wife. Nope, not even in Whitefish MT did the air clear. We drove I-90 all the way through Montana and North Dakota where we finally found a little relief from the multiple wild fires burning in the Western States in Bismarck. Even there the rising and setting sun was awash with the tinge of smoke.
Well, guess what folks- it’s deja vu all over again! Smoke at home for over a month from multiple California wildfires. When the wind blows the smoke of one fire away it blows the smoke of another into Truckee Meadows. Everyone is pretty much done with the smoke here. As bad as the air quality is here we are much more fortunate than those who have lost homes and loved ones from those horrific fires. We pray for them, the firefighters as well as all first responders who put their lives on the line to save others lives and property.
Okee Dokes- We are headed via a circumnavigation route to again volunteer at the Bonneville Fish Hatchery in Cascade Locks, Oregon. Our friends the Parks are again occupying our place while we are away. We are planning to visit old haunts near the I-5 Corridor in Oregon, then visit relatives in Idaho before we head towards the hatchery where we start our stint on September 1. We left the Reno area on the 12th intending to overnight at the Lassen RV Park, McArthur CA. A phone call notified us of a new wild fire that has cut McArthur off from the south and caused a power blackout and loss of water supply to the entire community. Soooo, we overnight in Hat Creek at the Rancheria RV Park, nice park that is located on the edge of a ponderosa forest. Smoke is not too bad here.
The next morning we head northwest on Highway 89 past the town of Burney, then past Burney Falls State Park. We really wanted to stop at the falls but previous experience tells us that turning around 50 feet of hardware near the falls might prove unattainable during the camping high season- so we push on. We stop in the quaint town of McCloud. This town was founded on the lumber trade. The company had its own railroad that delivered lumber products and passengers via it’s own tracks to national rail companies. Although the lumber business had dried up the McCloud railroad still had provided tours as well as dinner trains for several years.
As we walk where the depot used to be we notice- NO DEPOT, not even the hint of a rail. The rail bed is still visible only because of how flat the bed needed to be. The McCloud Railroad locomotives and cars had been sold. I know one engine went to Garibaldi, OR and another back east to Ohio I believe. The third is now part of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad of historic Comstock Lode town Virginia City, NV.
Our next stop was preplanned weeks ago. We have less than a 100 mile drive to Abrams Lake Mobile Home and RV Park located just outside of the town of Mt. Shasta. Even though nothing special it offers about 15 full hookups on closely grouped gravel pads. It’s by no means a “resort”. Heck, most of the RV “resorts” where we’ve stayed aren’t either. We’ve stayed here several times because there are nice wooded areas to walk our mutzos, it’s off the main thoroughfare, quiet and offers some great views of the eleven thousand foot Mt. Shasta that looms nearby. Smoke is moderate through evening masking the great mountain in smokey haze. The morning of August 14 smoke is worse- the mountain that can be seen from 100 miles away is gone! By the way, the small, privately owned lake is now dry. Shall we now call this place Abrams Mobile Home and RV Park or Abrams Dry Lake Mobile Home and RV Park?
This morning we headed to the next premeditated stopover. We haven’t camped at Valley of the Rogue State Park, Gold Hill OR for a few years. We really like this park as the campground is designed to provide adequate space between sites, and offers walking paths on the banks of the Rogue River. We really like the wide open spaces between camp groupings. So off we go into the wild brownish/yellow wonder!
The farther north we go the heavier the smoke gets. It’s particularly bad in and around Yreka. OK, since we are heading over Siskiyou Pass, the mountains should confine the California smoke to that state??? We crest Siskiyou Summit and head down towards the very smokey town of Ashland OR. Geez, the smoke isn’t any better here!
We were going to take the road less traveled to Valley of the Rogues S.P. but why, we can’t see anything clearly for the smoke. We head straight towards V of the R. on I-5. As we pull into the park the entrance station is closed- at 0945 in the morning! Wow, wonder what time they go to work? We arrive much earlier than the “official” 4pm check in time. Who in the world made a 4pm check in time policy? Geez!- so our site is still occupied. We pull into the gravel events parking lot and wait. An hour and a half later, about noon, our site is ready to occupy so we back in and set up. The Rogue Valley can be hot this time of year and this year is no different. The difference is hot, stagnant, smoke filled air. Yuck!
Folks, we have made online reservations weeks ago for this state park. The signage at the closed entrance station says to pick out a site and register at the kiosk located near the volunteer host campsite. It also says if one has a reservation to display proof in one’s windshield. We do that. Mr. RANGER knock, knock, knocks on the door setting the dual dog alarm off! BE QUIET matzos! Hello! Hi, I’m George, your head Ranger. You need to register at the entrance station ASAP. Why, we are pre registered with online registration. NO, that’s not good enough, you have to register at the entrance station. OK, but it was closed when we arrived. CHECK IN IS AT 4:00pm! and you were early! Sigh, OK I WILL DRIVE BACK THE ONE MILE AT THE POSTED SPEED LIMIT OF 15 MILES AN HOUR TO REGISTER A SECOND TIME EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVE OUR INFORMATION ON THE FRIGGIN’ CLIPBOARD THAT’S IN YOUR HAND! Back I go and get a tag to hang on each of my vehicles- neither of which will be checked at the closed entrance station…………
Deja Vu #2- Located two sites down from ours are two volunteer campsites. The volunteers hang out their name plaques in front of their sites. “Bob and Bridget Udall” hangs in front of a familiar Class A coach. Well I’ll be! We volunteered with Bob and Bridget six or seven years ago at Bullard’s Beach State Park on the southern coast of Oregon. What a small world…………….
More of Grants Pass’s Climate
took a little drive down past the town of Rogue River to the larger town of Grants Pass in order to do a little shopping at Fred Meyer. Fred is sorta like Wal Mart but a little more upscale. Fred sells practically anything- and has what we need.
Next we take the mutzos to Riverside Park, a municipal facility on the bank of the Rogue River. Our first Aussie loved to run here so much that with an absence of 2-3 years he would get excited as we drove into the parking lot. Next we took a walk downtown an hour before the stores opened, which is nice since the dogs can adjust to city traffic without causing a ruckus. We’ve included some photos of much of the sidewalk art for your pleasure.
Very Nice Mural on the Napa Auto Parts Building