Thursday, September 30 through Tuesday, October 5, 2021
Jil and are home. As I write this last blog entry I am once again in awe of our beautiful location in Reno. The leaves are in full fall color and the Carson Range and Sierra Nevada has received two early season snowstorms. Even downtown Reno has received some of the white stuff!
We left Walla Walla via US 12 towards the Columbia River, then southwest on US 730 where it ties into Interstate 84. We stop in Boardman (3200 souls) to stretch at the great park located on the bank of the mighty Columbia River and to fuel the beast. Diesel is as much as $1.50 a gallon more than last year. Ouch! Ollie likes roaming the nice green grass of the park and staring at the waterfowl floating in the little bay. The only other soul in the park is a maintenance fella and his utility vehicle.
Plans to visit long time friends Jim and Connie are still on yet abbreviated due to the mechanical problem we had with the motorhome. Jim and Connie bought an acre of land and are in the process of building a big metal shed which will eventually have room for their motorhome and a whole bunch of other necessities. We told them that we’d like help for a day or so before we turn towards home. We were warned by Jim and Connie that the Dalles Bridge that connects The Dalles, OR to Dallesport, WA over the Columbia River is being strengthened and modernized and is not open to traffic Thursday night through Sunday with delays when it is open.
We chose to cross the Columbia at Biggs Junction on US 97, then proceed west on Washington 14 which closely parallels the mighty Columbia. We stop at Maryhill to stretch and admire the view of the Columbia River and its gorge from high on a bluff then head off to Jim and Connie’s place.
The eastern Columbia Gorge is rather dry, yet beautiful
They have a nice flat piece of property, the lot is the last on a dead end street so it only has two immediate neighbors and undeveloped land on the other side. We were able to help some and have plenty of time to catch up on each other’s lives.
Jim and Connie’s Shed is Going Up
Daybreak at Jim and Connie’s
Leaving Jim and Connie’s we backtrack to Biggs Junction and head south on US 97. We stop at the park in the little burg of Moro (324 souls) and speak to three fellas who are in the process of solving the world’s problems, OK, maybe just their own. Jil asks them about Oregon’s outdoor mask mandate (none of them are wearing masks). The reply is “This is Eastern Oregon. We do what we want, not what the Western Oregonians want!” OK then……
Shaniko is a metropolis- population 36. This place was a railroad hub back in the early 1900’s, the only one east of the Cascade Mountains. Goods came from as far away as Klamath Falls and even Idaho. It was known as the “Wool Capitol of the World”, shipping 2,229 tons of wool, and 1,168,866 bushels of wheat in 1903. Cattle ranches produced livestock that filled 400 railroad cars. Fortune was not to last as the railroad decided to use a “direct, quick and natural” alternate route linking Portland to Bend which diverted traffic away from Shaniko. Business steadily declined and the entire rail line was shut down by 1966. Efforts to revive the Shaniko Hotel and the town have not been terribly successful as just a few small businesses survive.
We pass through Redmond. This city of 32,421 soul has seen rapid growth at a rate of 6.7 percent a each year. Its the seat of Deschutes County. Between the years 2000 and 2006 the population exploded by 74%! We stop for fuel then continue on to our next stop for two nights, Crown Villa RV Resort in Bend, Oregon.
Crown Villa began as buyer/ownerRV resort. I guess folks didn’t want to buy so it reverted to a normal rental type park. Its setting in mature pine trees, RV sites set on pavers, mowed grass between and separating each row of sites, nice community buildings, one housing the office, library and gym and the other restrooms, laundromat, gathering room and hot tub. A small dog park is at one end of the park. The park has never been cheap but now its downright expensive and not nearly as well maintained as before Sun RV Resorts bought the property. Not sure why, maybe because of staffing shortages- we’ve noticed plenty of that on our entire trip- or poor management or both. Either way we don’t have a desire to return to this once well maintained park, at least for a while.
While in Bend we wanted to take advantage of the clear, smokeless air and lack of heavy traffic Bend has become known for so we head out early. The last two times we’ve been here the nearby volcanic peaks have been shrouded in wildland fire smoke. We make the short ride to Pilot Butte as a view of the beautiful peaks and most of Bend can be seen from the top of the butte . Hey, the Butte road is closed until whatever.
We don’t return to Pilot Butte rather head downtown. It’s 9am and downtown is already going nuts. A street fair and road closures push us straight to Drake Park. That’s OK as we’d wind up at the park anyhow. The park is located between Mirror Pond that is created by the damming of the Deschutes River and downtown Bend. Across the pond are some drop dead gorgeous homes whose manicured back yards stop at the lake’s edge. We enjoy walking with Ollie through this lovely park.
We then head to Old Mill Mall. The tall stacks of the old lumber mill still penetrate it seems like forever up, up, up into the sky; the walking paths next to the Deschutes make for a pleasant walk. From here we can see three or four of the volcanic peaks poking above the Bend’s hills. Jil must not feel good as she has no desire to go shopping……..
It’s time to head towards the barn. It’s just over 400 miles to home so we’ll make one more stop along the way. We head out of Bend southbound on US 97 and leave that busy highway at La Pine in favor of a less traveled Oregon State Route 31, The Outback Scenic Highway. We travel many miles in pine country then drop down to more arid sage dominated landscape. We pass through Silver Lake (149 souls). One never would imagine the history of some of these places without a little research. On Christmas Eve 1894 a fire started in a crowded room of celebrators killing 43 people. Ed O’Farrell rode 100 miles on horseback to Lakeview for medical help and Doc Bernard Daly drove his buggy over bad winter roads for 24 hours to reach Silver Lake. Doc Daly’s efforts to reach and treat victims earned statewide recognition. The entire region is in drought and Silver Lake is dry.
We stop in Paisley (243 souls) to stretch. The nearby Paisley Caves have archeological sites that give the oldest known evidence for early Native Americans that date from 12,750 to 14,290 years ago. Paisley is home to the annual Mosquito Festival that raises funds for vector control.
Oregon 31 ends at Valley Falls which appears to have passed away. We pick up US 395 and head south. Lakeview, Oregon (2294 souls) is the seat of Lake County. The city bills itself and the “Tallest Town in Oregon” because of its elevation of 4802 feet above sea level. Its economy is based on agriculture, lumber production and increasingly on tourism as Goose Lake is nearby. During the 1950’s Lakeview’s sawmills accounted for more than half of the town’s economy. Leaving town we get a good look at Goose Lake. It also appears to be dry. The drought is bad……..
Half way down the east shore of Goose Lake Oregon becomes California and so does the tiny town of New Pine Creek (120 souls. The town is thought to be the oldest in Lake County and southernmost in Oregon despite the being south of the 42nd parallel.. Being north of the 42nd parallel the town should actually be in the state of Kali-Fornia except for a surveyor’s error. Across the border lies New Pine Creek, CA (98 souls)
New Pine Creek, California/Oregon
Alturas CA (2827 souls) is the seat of Modoc County. It is located at the confluence of the north and south forks of the Pit River. Originally known as Dorris Bridge, later Dorrisville, named after Pressley and James Dorris who built a bridge across the Pit River at this location. The Dorris Bridge opened in 1874.
There aren’t many RV parks in this neck of the woods. Sully’s is located at the end of town and gets pretty good reviews from overnighters. Sully’s is a possibility but we want to check out Likely Place Golf and RV Park in……. Likely, CA. Likely has a reported population of 63 souls but we’ll be darned if we can find them. The “town” consists of a cafe and two other commercial buildings that have long been shuttered. The only sign of life are some piles of junk behind the buildings and evidence of possible squatters taking advantage of empty buildings.
The turnoff to Likely Place Golf and RV is a couple of miles down a country road, then another mile of interior road that crosses through open cow pasture. We check in at the golf course office/cafe and settle into our site. I went back to the cafe and ordered a cheeseburger and fries. Golf course food never fails to be decent and my hamburger and fries were very tasty. The golf course isn’t too busy so dogs are invited to walk the fairways. Lots of folks here are camping with friends as evidenced by 8-10 chairs circled around a portable fire pit in one camper’s site, those same chairs occupied for several hours in the evening by folks having a great time together. We are happy with our choice of staying at Likely Place.
Our last morning on the road- pack up, jacks up, slides in, fire up the beast and we are on our way home. The first 40 or so miles has us driving through rocky volcanic hills and dales, through narrow canyons then down towards Honey Lake. We’ll bypass Susanville this trip and take a short cut through Mennonite farm country.
We make a pit stop at the rest area overlooking Honey Lake. There’s evidence of the Dixie fire having jumped the highway. That fire has burned over 939,000 acres but has calmed down an awful lot due to cooler weather. We then head home. Once again our house guests have left the place immaculate. Thanks Jim and Nancy! We unpack, give the RV a general clean up and winterize the water system. The outside of the rig and the floors will get a good scrubbing on another day.
All in all our trip was successful with very few disappointments. The places we had planned to see didn’t disappoint. Too many of those places to mention here deserve a return visit if we ever are in the area again. Yellowstone was way too crowded for our taste but it was good returning to the park after so many years. Our rig’s suspension problem could have been a lot worse in time and cost. We got to visit our good friends Connie and Jim and meet their new puppy Rhetta. And we got to see clearly the spectacular snow capped volcanic peaks that line the Cascade Range for a couple of hundred miles.
The only thing I would change is not feeling the need to plan the whole trip months in advance right down to RV park reservations and the length of stay in each. I would rather have the freedom of spending more time in some places and less in others. But that’s what COVID has done. It’s made travel less spontaneous and much more planned. As a wise old person once said “It is what it is.”
Until next time, Via Con Dios!