The Travels of Jil and Mike

This is the post excerpt.


August, 2011

Jil and I have long histories of visiting wonderful places on this God given earth. Before we met Jil traveled, mainly by air to parts of Europe, Israel and numerous ski resorts located in the U.S.A. and Canada.

She had never been camping, you see. I had never left the U.S., nor flown for that matter (except in fire department helicopters), choosing instead to travel our great country with the aid of almost every type of mobile shelter known to man.

I introduced Jil to camping by taking her on short trips in my very old but functional 1973 Revcon 25′ class A motorhome. Jil fell in love with camping, but the old rig not so much. It was soon replaced with a travel trailer.

Constantly having to step over two large dogs lying on the very limited floor space of the travel trailer lead to a costly but welcome upgrade- a new truck to tow a new, more comfortable double slide 5th wheel. We wore that combination out and purchased  our second 5th wheel, a triple slide Heartland Big Country 3250TS, then a new truck to pull it up to Alaska and back. Three slides and we still step over the dogs! Oh well.

We started RVing in a Class A motorhome and will probably end our adventures in another one. Our rolling stock consists of a four slide Tiffin Allegro Red that’s short enough to be accepted into most state parks and a Subaru Forester toad. For our preferred method of travel it is ideal. We like to travel relatively short distances and only stay a couple of days in any one place. Set up for the motorhome is much quicker and more simple than a trailer and every convenience is inside our rolling home. One of the downfalls of towing a trailer in hot weather is no A/C running while in transit. That’s not a factor in the motorhome as we can run the A/C units with our generator as we travel.

The events of 9/11/2001 have soured us on air travel. We now travel almost exclusively with Jil as the copilot/navigator and moi as the pilot of 25,000 pounds worth of rolling stock. Scenic byways and country roads are preferred over interstate highways. We were both raised in large urban communities so visiting small towns is a treat. We like to meet those small town folk and visit the places they call home.

Adios Columbia Gorge

Friday, November 4, 2022

We left the hatchery around 0900 hrs. Our plan to travel through Hood River Valley and over the eastern shoulder of Mt. Hood on OR Highway 35 to US Highway 26 changed when we saw winter conditions going up on that route. Who wants to chance snow showers and slick roads when they don’t have to? So we instead headed east to The Dalles and south on Oregon 197 to US 97 at Madras. We drove through Redmond and Bend which are usually a traffic nightmare but not too bad this time.

We are met with snow at La Pine State Park

About 5 miles west of US 97 and before the town of La Pine is La Pine State Park, our home for the night. We pull into the campground and are greeted by 4″ of fresh snow! Gads…… We’ll just have to make do. It turned out not so bad. We had good power to run our electric heaters and when they weren’t effective due to the cold, our propane furnaces. The dogs like walking in the fresh snow and the roads were starting to clear so ice shouldn’t be a problem when we leave in the morning. The biggest problem for us electronic gizmo addicted folks was no internet connection. Five miles back on the highway wifi was strong, here it was non-existent. I found an over the air PBS TV channel that occupied my time- I’m not sure how Jil suffered through her electronic gizmo withdrawls except for her saying “We will not camp here again!” Interesting and kinda sad how addicted we become to our electronic toys.

The next morning was cold in the mid 20’s but not horrible. We walked the dogs on now crunchy snow and the roadways had cleared. Jil went to raise the leveling jacks, normally a manly task which require one to push a button, and three of four wouldn’t come up causing an alarm to sound. The alarm is a warning that the jacks haven’t stored properly so some bonehead like myself won’t attempt to drive off with them still deployed. I figure at least one of them is glued to the asphalt with ice and it was. The other two had cold water sprayed on them when we drove into the park creating 4″ long ice stalagmites between the foot and the retraction springs which prevented the pistons from retracting. A little chipping of ice with a crow bar and the jacks retracted just fine.

On our way again, the plan was to stay in Tulelake at the fairgrounds for the night. We stopped at Collier Memorial State Park’s day area to stretch and realized we’d be in Tulelake by noon- way too early to stop for the night. So we decided to continue on to Susanville RV Park which would add another 232 miles or so to this leg of the trip. It would also bring us home a day early. We decided to go for it. By the way, Collier Memorial State Park has an excellent logging museum!

Collier State Park’s wonderful Logging Museum

So off we go, skirting Klamath Falls, take a turnoff towards Oregon Highway 139 and a roundabout in the middle of farm country. Gads! Don’t these traffic engineers have anything better to do than build these miserable abominations out in the middle of nowhere? Anyhow we continue. Oregon 139 becomes CA 39 in California which leads us past Tulelake, CA (902 souls, down from 1010 souls) to US 299 and head east towards Alturas and US 395. Not the shortest rout but this route avoids a lot of twists and turns on mountain roads. Tulelake was the sight of two WWII interment camps, one for Italian and German POW’s and one for our own 18,000 US citizen Japanese descendants.

Downtown Canby, California

We stop in Canby (183 souls) a very small town with very little going for it when it is thriving- which it is not. Every visitor related business is shuttered, no more cafe, no more motel, only a hay broker and a USFS service yard.

Alturas California: Modoc County Courthouse; NCO office building

We hook a right in Alturas (2715 souls), seat of Modoc County and join US 395 southbound. Alturas is the last decent sized town before we get to Susanville for the night. We pass through Likely (53 souls- down from 63) which consists of a general store and a restaurant. Both were closed the last time we came through. This time they show signs of life. The road is good and scenery is high desert with mountains on one side and rolling hills on the other. Very nice.

We head through some volcanic rock strewn canyons, then downhill to the flats east of Susanville, paralleling the mountains to our north. We pull into Susanville RV Park around 1600 hours. I’m tired but not horribly. The dogs have a nice place to walk. Momma deer and her baby see the mutzos and scoot!

Downtown Susanville, California

Susanville (16,728 souls) is seat of Lassen County. It is a former logging and mining town, those industries were both effectively put out of business by environmental regulations. The city does have two state prisons that help keep it alive but one of them is slated to be closed soon. The population has already dropped over thousand souls since the last census. Who knows how many more will leave when that prison is closed?

Friday morning we head out passing Honey Lake. The lake is never more than 10 feet deep and this time of year can be dry. It’s dry…… and looks like a large grassy plain.

We pass through Doyle (530 souls). I don’t know why Doyle exists but it does. The cattle used in the Reno Rodeo come from Doyle but I’ve yet to see a cow anywhere near this place so they must hide back in the hills east of here.

Downtown Reno, NV

So after a 90 mile drive we head into the metropolis of Reno (264,000 souls). Traffic usually isn’t too horrible but a lot of road work is occurring on the interchange of its major highways- US 395 which turns into I-580 south of east/west Interstate 80. When the roadwork is finished traffic should flow more freely, I hope!

We arrive at home just before noon. Everything inside and out on the RV and our Subaru toad is filthy but our home is sparkling. Thanks Jim and Nancy for taking good care of our place! We have vehicles to clean and a lot of yard work to do before the snow flies. With that we’ll get to work and say Adios until our next adventure. Adios amigos!!

A little humor to share with y’all. There is some truth to this add- but I still love her!

Our Final Days at Bonneville

Bonneville Dam and Hatchery

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

As our days come to an end volunteering here at the Bonneville Fish Hatchery the work continues. We are finally getting some rain and a little wind which causes leaves to fall. Many leaves but the leaf blizzard is just beginning. More leaves falling creates more of a mess to contend with to keep the grounds neat and tidy. Lots of visitors coming by private auto, school bus or tour bus means our supply of brochures and handouts need constant replenishing. Many of those handouts are reproduced in-house where Jil and Connie run the copy machine almost on a daily basis.

Toro Workman in foreground pulls Gravely leaf vacuum over paved grounds

We are still cleaning up the rose beds and dead heading rose bushes as needed. Connies been digging out wayward blackberry plants out of a planter near their RV. If left alone the berries would take over the bed- not a good thing. We’ve also been removing ivy from the visitor center and mechanical building walls. New planter tower boxes are being built by Jim which means the plants in the old towers are being transplanted until the new ones are ready. In other words just trying to keep ahead of maintenance of the planter boxes/ planter beds before winter arrives.

One thing for Jil and I have yet to get used to is how late the sun comes up at the hatchery. It’s not only the sun rising later in the morning in October but the proximity of 3000′ walls of ancient lava cliffs that block the early morning sun. During the last part of October sunshine doesn’t reach the fish hatchery until after 0930 am. Going out at 0700 hours to open the visitors center requires the assistance of a flashlight.

“Seining” the input pond= using a net to push fish up into hatchery

The coho salmon that were put in the spawning polls several weeks ago are finally “ripe”, meaning the female’s eggs are ready and will easily release from the egg sac in their body. The first eggs are going to cascade hatchery. Cascade has brought their own egg buckets and transportation. Those eggs are mostly destined for indigenous peoples hatcheries once the fish hatch into fry. I guess those folks don’t have a lot of success or patience to raise eggs to the hatch stage. Jil again was asked to assist with spawning so she and Deanne manned (ladied?) the buckets of eggs combining eggs and milt, mixing, placing lids of the buckets of eggs and taking them to the waiting pickup truck for transport back to Cascade Hatchery.

Spawning coho salmon/ biologist taking tissue samples from coho

I’ve been helping around the hatchery performing various tasks. Jim’s been pretty sick and we hope that Connie can nurse him back to health soon. When I’m not helping visitors find a place in the hatchery they want to see, I’m attempting to keep the place looking nice- the constant leaf blizzard is just starting but consumes a lot of my time.


Jil and Connie working salmon eggs in the incubation building

Meanwhile I’m preparing our motorhome and our Surbaru toad for travel. Fluids checks out OK, tire pressures adjusted, clean windshields- check. We also will bring a full tank of fresh water and empty our grey and black tanks just before we leave so all we’ll need on the trip home is electricity to power our devices, tv’s, and electric heaters for the anticipated below freezing nights.

If you are interested in visiting more of the Columbia Gorge area I invite you to review our past blogs located in the blog archives section beginning in September/October 2018 and September/October 2019.

We have several important appointments waiting for us back at home so we’ll be packing up, levelers up, toad hooked up and engines revved up on October 26. We’ll take three or so days to travel home so we can enjoy the scenery.

I’ll end this entry with a little “boxer” dog humor:

Still Here!

Bonneville Dam and Hatchery

Monday, October 17, 2022

History: Bonneville Hatchery was constructed in 1909. In 1957, the facility was remodeled and expanded as part of the Columbia River Fisheries Development Program (Mitchell Act)—a program to enhance declining fish runs in the Columbia River Basin. The hatchery underwent another renovation in 1974 as part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) mitigation of fish losses from the construction of the John Day Dam. In 1998, construction was completed on the Captive Broodstock Facility for the Grande Ronde Basin spring Chinook supplementation program.

Bonneville Hatchery is Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s largest hatchery facility and has a diverse fish production program. It is used for adult collection, egg incubation and rearing of Tule fall Chinook, and adult collection and spawning of coho salmon. It is also used for rearing of, summer steelhead, winter steelhead and coho (coho egg incubation occurs at Cascade Hatchery). The hatchery has excellent egg and fingerling quarantine facilities that are often used to assist other hatchery programs in the basin.

Our 1 million visitors treated to two display ponds which offer a relaxing place to feed large rainbow trout, another pond with many immature four foot white sturgeon and of course ten foot Herman the Sturgeon in his own unique pond where he can be observed swimming via a large window built into the side of the pond. Rearing ponds teaming with baby salmon are also available for viewing. When in season people can observe the sorting and spawning of salmon in the visitors center.

The hatchery is adjacent to the Bonneville Lock and Dam, the lock allowing passage of river traffic past the dam. Bonneville Lock & Dam, built and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was the first federal lock and dam on the Columbia and Snake rivers. The project’s first powerhouse, spillway and original navigation lock were completed in 1938 to improve navigation on Columbia River and provide hydropower to the Pacific Northwest. A second powerhouse was completed in 1981, and a larger navigation lock in 1993. Today, the project is a critical part of the water resource management system that provides flood risk management, power generation, water quality improvement, irrigation, fish and wildlife habitat and recreation along the Columbia River. The dam is one of three hydroelectric power plants operated by the Portland District along the Columbia River and generates enough electricity to power 900,000 homes.

Two visitor centers, one on Bradford Island in Oregon and one on the Washington shore, are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A third visitor center is open seasonally for limited hours at the navigation lock. Located just 40 miles from downtown Portland in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge, Bonneville Lock & Dam provides fun, educational opportunities for all visitors. The large fish ladder is a favorite as well as the fish viewing windows in the visitors center where people can watch several species of fish swim by.

We are still volunteer hosting at the Bonneville Fish Hatchery and will be for another nine days. We’ve been very busy assisting the groundskeeper with, well, keeping the 7 acre hatchery grounds beautiful. Tasks include watering potted plants, feeding Herman the Sturgeon and his pals, they being other large sturgeon and very large rainbow trout. We also blow a lot of leaves with gas powered backpack blowers and handheld gas or electric blowers. Since there has been very warm weather and almost no rain we haven’t been able to use the tow behind vacuum to pick up leaves so we have to do it manually. Bummer…… and a lot more work! Another chore is weeding flower beds and deadheading roses. We are also expected to interact with our many visitors which is always a pleasure.

Both of the decorative fountains have been drained and cleaned. Jil’s been keeping up with the educational material supplied for visitor’s reference, copying when needed. She completely renovated an entire flower bed that consisted of spent foxglove and iris plants, dividing and replanting them, then adding bark dust to pretty the bed up. We’ve done quite a bit of trimming of overgrown ivy beds using a powered hedge clipper to trim the borders, then removing ivy runners off of trees. And that’s just some of the projects we’ve taken on.

Jim and Connie Gale arrived on October 3rd. They are the other volunteer hosts here at the hatchery. Jim has made new wooden planter boxes in which to place the plant towers as the old ones had rotted out. The new boxes look great! Connie has been digging out blackberry plants that have rooted in the planter bed next to their RV for the past 2 weeks.

Mitchell Creek runs through the grounds. Beaver love to take up residence in the creek which creates havoc on the flora and fauna of the hatchery. They are “invited” to leave by lowering the water level of Mitchell Creek so the habitat is not so inviting to them. But- the beaver fight back by trying to build a dam across the outfall. We counter by removing 10′ long, 8″ diameter tree branches and other beaver debris that they sneak to dam the water. So far we are winning but it’s been a battle. They will probably give up and go back to the Columbia in time. Jim’s “critter cam” caught the rascals at work……….

We’ve had some interesting visitors. Tour buses arrive almost daily whose occupants come from all over the U.S. and Canada. Bus loads of school kids are frequent visitors as are college students on fact finding missions. We’ve even had special visitors from Montana, the Chief Mountain Hotshot wildfire-fighting crew who were on their way to a fire near Eugene, Oregon.

The tule chinook salmon run is over. The tules were spawned over a period of two weeks on three different occasions with 5 million eggs collected and fertilized. The eggs are in the incubation building maturing. Tomorrow Jil and Connie will assist with removing dead eggs, a tedious task requiring the adept use of tweezers and good eyes……..

We’ve only made two day pilgrimages since we arrived. We went on an 80 mile round trip to Panther Creek Falls, Big Lava Bed, beautiful Goose Lake, then to the tiny town of Trout Lake. The majority of that trip is on 20 mph paved or gravel roads so it’s a slog. Views of majestic Mount Adams just adds to the beauty of this loop.

The second trip was to one of our favorites- the Fruit Loop. Yep, the Fruit Loop is the name of a 35 mile long route through the drop dead gorgeous Hood River Valley. The valley is a real beauty with woods interspersed between apple and pear farms, alpaca ranches and an occasional grape vineyard. There are 27 on-the-farm fruit stands, wineries, cideries and breweries and even fields of flowers that line the loop. The first fruit trees were planted in 1855 resulting in 14,500 acres of pears, apples and cherries the cover the valley today. Our favorite stop is The Apple Valley Country Store which offers wonderful jams and other preserves and now offers bake your own frozen pies. Jil ordered a delicious pumpkin shake and Mike an olallieberry pocket pie. Yum!! The valley is located on the eastern shoulder of the mighty Mount Hood can be seen from many locations.

Another great stop is the Gorge White House Farm. It grows apples and pears as well as a few acres of you pick flowers, a wine tasting room and a grill for those with an appetite.

So that’s what we’ve been up to in a nutshell- a rather large nutshell at that. I think our next post will concentrate more on the sights of the Columbia Gorge.

Home Sweet Home

We Are With The Fishes

Saturday, September 17, 2022

This post has been a long time coming……. and yes, I’ll bet some of you really thought we were with the fishes….. and we really are! We arrived at the Bonneville Fish Hatchery on August 31, a day earlier than expected. Our friends who had moved from SoCal to Castle Rock had a medical emergency so we were unable to meet with them. Our site at Bonneville was open so we decided to toodle on down there.

Traffic on I-5 was not too bad until we approached Vancouver, WA and then it continued to build. We crossed the might Columbia River into what used to be the lovely city of Portland and headed east on I-84 until reaching the Bonneville Dam and Hatchery turnoff about 40 miles later. Total distance 90 miles.

After setting up our RV down in site #2 (lower site) we met with Hugh the hatchery groundskeeper to find out what’s going on, what kind of help he needs and to pick up our host notebook and keys to the facility. We also met with Mike and Sue, the other hatchery hosts who had a work schedule all laid out for us.

Egg Incubation Building

Those of you who have followed our blog know that we have volunteered at this hatchery maybe a half dozen times. We know the ropes but needed to find out what may be new since our last visit three years ago. Mike, Sue and Hugh filled us in and we got some work assignments that will keep us busy for a few weeks.

A sampling of the hatchery grounds that we are asked to maintain

Bonneville Hatchery raises chinook and coho Salmon. Chinook run three times a year- spring salmon, tule salmon run right now and brights run in late fall. The fall tule salmon run is upon us and its a doozy! One of the “fish guys” has been here for 17 years and he’s never seen so many salmon returning to the hatchery. The salmon are backed up in Tanner Creek all the way to the Columbia River. So far they’ve work the fish almost every weekday beginning in late August and that will continue. Spawning has occurred three times since our arrival.

Salmon come in from the Pacific Ocean, up Columbia River 150 miles to Tanner Creek, then up fish ladder to holding pond in the hatchery

To explain: Working fish means bringing them into the spawning room from manmade ponds and channels. The fish, tule and coho salmon, are “calmed” with an electric current introduced to the basket immersed in water to calm but not harm the fish. They are placed on sorting tables, males going one direction, females another. The females are checked for condition and egg ripeness, the most desirable males and females are sorted by species and placed in a long tube where they slide into their respective “spawning pond”.

Most of the fish can’t be used for spawning as they are too numerous. The excess fish either go to a buyer intended for human consumption, a food bank and sometimes a Native American Tribe will come for their share. The fish that are no longer fit for human consumption go to processors who make animal food out of them. Even though many fish return to the hatchery, very few are wasted.

What you been up to you may ask. Well, we’ve mostly helped Hugh working in the lovely gardens here at the hatchery. Our daily chores include watering numerous pots of annual flowers with the use of a portable watering system mounted on our Toro Workman. We ensure the trash cans aren’t overflowing. We clean up any wayward trash policing the entire grounds. The many trees drop limbs which need to be picked up and disposed of. The trout ponds are inspected for dead trout and removed when found. Mitchell creek is in front of the hatchery and has a nasty habit of clogging up its spillway, especially after a storm or when invaded by beaver, so the spillway is monitored and cleaned almost daily to keep the water flowing.

Once a week we feed Herman the Sturgeon- all 10 feet and 500 pounds of him! Ollie is very interested in Herman!

Our extra/non-daily chores include cleaning out plant beds of weeds and spent plants, dead heading spent flowers and pruning rose bushes. We’ve weeded and put down bark dust in 100′ of rose bed. We’ll be draining and cleaning the large fountain in the next couple of days. Probably our most important “extra duty” job occurs this time of year, that of assisting the “fish guys and gals” spawn salmon.

Spawning tule chinook salmon

Spawning salmon is a big deal. Spawning creates a new generation of fish. Our duties of helping Hugh with groundskeeping comes to a halt in order that we help in the process of spawning fish. Fish are brought into the spawning building the same way as when sorting but these are brought in from the spawning ponds. They are again sorted, this time checking the females to make sure they are “ripe”, the males go down a different line. The “green” females are put back into the spawning ponds, the ripe are euthanized, bled and then their egg sacs are opened, eggs spilling into a paper bucket normally used by movie theaters to hold a large batch of popcorn. There the eggs are fertilized with the male’s milt.

Biologist taking fin samples

Jil helps by placing the fertilized eggs into a 5 gallon plastic bucket, seven female’s fertilized eggs to bucket, then I transport the buckets of eggs over to the incubation building where the eggs a placed in an antiseptic solution, then into trays of fresh running water where the eggs will hatch. The fry will live off of their yolk sac for a time. When that is depleted they are then fed fish food, eventually going outdoors and living in a rearing pond. About a year from birth the fish a large enough to release. They are “tagged” as hatchery fish by removing their adipose fin and about 10% get a snout tag. They are then released into Tanner Creek where many will make their way to the ocean. The hatchery raises millions of fish a year and as one can guess many don’t make it back as they are captured out in the ocean by recreational and commercial fisherman and many become food for other animals.

Next time we’ll discuss the general area of the hatchery and some of the local communities. See you then!

The boys are tuckered out from chasing the great blue heron

Mount St. Helens

Wednesday August 30, 2022

We left Port Angeles a little earlier on Sunday as we have 180 miles to travel, two thirds of it on windy US Highway 101. I’ve not mentioned that Ferry service runs between Port Angeles and Victoria BC. We never saw a ferry so we’re not sure if the service frequency was reduced due to COVID or our timing was off.The scenery is beautiful with the Olympic Mountains on one side and the Strait of San Juan de Fuca on the other.

Sequim (6600 souls). The town is in the rain shadow of the Olympics. It receives on average less that 16″ of rain annually yet is relatively close to some of the wettest temperate rainforests of the US. This climate anomoly is sometimes called the “Blue Hole of Sequim”. The climate is fairly humid however, due to its proximity to the Strait. The city and surrounding area are particularly known for the commercial cultivation of lavender. It makes Sequim the “Lavender Capitol of North America”.

We get a good look at Sequim Bay and Discovery Bas as we continue south. Quilcene (596 souls) lies at the head of Quilcene Bay, an arm of the seawater filled glacial valley of Hood Canal.

One can enjoy views of Mt. Rainier, Seattle and the Puget Sound from 2804′ Mt. Walker, the only peak facing Puget Sound that has a road to the summit. The town has one of the largest oyster hatcheries in the world.

US Highway 101 follows the Hood Canal southward. We stop at the lovely Doswallips State Park day use area. The Hood Canal is in view and the day area is largely in forest with grassy areas set with picnic tables. The Doswallips River runs through the park on its way to the ocean. The name Doswallips comes from Indian folklore- a man named Dos-wail-opsh being turned into a mountain, a mythical Klallam chief turned into a mountain, and Doquebatl changed a woman into Mt. Raineer and her son into Little Tahoma- take your pick.

Hoodsport (376 souls) is located along the Hood Canal. Its the gateway to the Staircase area of Olympic National Park. Hoodsport is renowned among scuba divers as a staging area to view the giant Pacific octopus. Local marine preserves such as Octopus Hole and Sund Rock offer divers the chance to see octopus, as well as wolf eels, rock fish, plumose anemones and other marine life.

We leave the Hood Canal area traveling towards Olympia (52,400 souls). Olympia is the capitol of the state of Washington and lies of the southern end of Hood Canal on Puget Sound. The town had historically depended on artesian wells for drinking water. Many of those wells still .exist today as Olympia’s main water source is fed by them. The former Olympia Brewery was supplied by 26 artesian wells.

We pass through nearby Tumwater, Washington (25,350 souls) and continue our journey south on busy Interstate 5. Tumwater is the oldest permanent Anglo-American settlement on Puget Sound. The name of the city is derived from Chinook people jargon “tum tum” which means beating heart, an appropriate way to describe the upper and lower Tumwater waterfall. Due to Tumwater’s proximity to Olympia many state government offices are located here.

Castle Rock (2446) is our home for a few days. Located between the Willapa Hills and the western base of Mount St. Helens, Castle Rock is at the heart of Washington timber country in the Pacific temperate rainforest.

Castle Rock is named for a volcanic rock outcropping over the Cowlitz River, “The Rock”, rising 190 feet high on the south side of the city. The rock formation, resembling a castle, became a geographic landmark for Cowlitz Indians and Hudson’s Bay Company traders as early as 1832. Today, it is the location of The Rock Community Park, with hiking trails, picnic tables, and a historical marker.

The city was platted December 12, 1888 and incorporated on June 20, 1890. Castle Rock prospered as a Cowlitz River steamboat port and trading center for valley farms. The local sawmill was the first to produce cedar shingles, using the western red cedar, which grows in abundance in the region.

By 1940, the population had reached 1,182 and was supported by dairy farming, truck farming, and lumber manufacturing. Sword ferns, common in the region, were picked each year by several hundred people to be processed into medicine. In the spring, large quantities of Cascara Sagrada bark were gathered, dried, and shipped. Cascara was used in the US as an over the counter laxitive. It’s been banned since 2002 as a laxative ingredient as serious side effects were sighted.

Spirit Lake Memorial Highway connects the city to the Mount Saint Helens Volcanic National Monument the Spirit Lake recreation area, Seaquest State Park and Silver Lake. The State Route 504 Spur extends to Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

So, why do you suppose we’re here in Castle Rock? Righto! We hadn’t been up to Mt. St. Helens for close to two decades. We are staying at the Toutle River RV Resort. Ironically, the closest river is the Cowlitz, maybe 100 yards to the west. The park is large with maybe 400 sites, mostly pull-throughs in the new portion of the park.

The older section is mostly in a deep conifer forest and is closed; I don’t know why because the old section is beautiful! There are many conifers and deciduous trees in the new section but it is much more open than the old. The old section is great for walking the dogs in the heat of the day. The park has some unusual features, at least from an RV park standpoint. It has saunas- we’ve never seen saunas offered at an RV park. It also has a large convention/picnic area with a large shed building, covered picnic area and a very large turf area. This park is really nice!

Johnson Ridge is the premier viewing point for Mount Saint Helens. She erupted on May 18, 1980 and remains the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in U.S. history. Fifty-seven people were killed; 200 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railways and 185 miles of highway were destroyed. A massive debris avalanche caused by a 5.1 earthquake triggered a lateral eruption that reduced the mountain’s summit from 9677 feet to 8363 feet. The debris avalanche measured .6 of a cubic mile. The magma in St. Helens burst forth into a large-scale pyroclastic flow that flattened vegetation and buildings over an area of 230 square miles. It was continuously active until 2008. Geologists predict that future eruptions could be more destructive! Holy Smokes!

It’s a long, sometimes windy drive up the Toutle River canyon on the Spirit Lake Memorial Highway to Johnson Ridge, some 50+ miles, but it’s worth traveling up there. There are three visitors centers along the route, Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Seaquest/Silver Lake, Forest Learning Center located about halfway up and Johnson Ridge Observatory. Before going it’s advised to check the weather as the mountain often is cloud shrouded.

Johnson Ridge Observatory was named for volcanologist David Johnston who was camped on this ridge observing the volcano when it blew. His final words were “Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it!” He was never found. This site has awesome views and great exhibits. Admission to exhibits is $8 or free with the proper pass.

We decided to do some reprovisioning since we aren’t too far away from a Walmart. It’s Jil’s favorite store in which to purchase frozen fruits for her protein drinks because the cost is much lower than in grocery stores. So we burn $5 worth of gas round trip, but we also get to visit Longview (37,000 souls). Jil’s Mom and brother used to live here.

A fella by the name of Robert Long needed 14,000 workers to run two large mills as well as lumber camps so Long planned and built a complete city in 1921 that could support a population of up to 50,000 folks, all with private funding. The town’s neighborhoods are lovely. Downtown looked more vibrant than the last time we were here and was very clean. The city has a port on the Columbia River and a bridge over the same river to the state of Oregon.

The Pacific Northwest is experiencing a heat wave. Temps are in the mid to high 90’s for the next three days. We’ll be heading to the Bonneville Fish Hatchery for our host commitment for the months of September and October. We are looking forward to working with our boss Hugh, the hatchery groundskeeper, and the “fish guys” when the salmon are running.

See you at the hatchery!

Olympic National Park, WA

Saturday, August 27, 2022

While on the road we take a side trip to Lake Quinault. It is located in the glacial-carved Quinault Valley of the Quinault River, at the southern edge of Olympic National Park in the northwestern United States.

One of the most dominant features of Lake Quinault is its location within the Quinault Rain Forest. Lake Quinault is owned by the Quinault Indian Nation. The southern side of the lake is home to the historic Lake Quinault Lodge.

The Lake Quinault Lodge was built in 1926, designed by Robert Reamer whose work included the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park. The lodge was built in 53 days. It features a chimney decorated with a totem pole-shaped rain gauge that measures rainfall in feet. Although most appreciate the vintage architecture and decor some feel it old and stuffy. Humph.

Downtown Quinault, WA

We stop for the night in Forks (3800 souls) at Forks 101 RV Park. The park offers spacious sites and plenty of room to walk the mutzos. Welcome to Forks “The rainiest town in the contiguous United States” with 120″ of precipitaion a year. The Forks area is an outdoorsman’s dream with over 100 miles of saltwater shores, alpine meadows and rain forest valleys. 200 miles of wild rivers criss-cross the region, providing healthy runs of wild salmon and steelhead. Its close to Olympic National Park, Rialto Beach, Hoh Rainforest and Olympic National Park. Forks is the only full service city on the west side of Olympic National Park on US Highway 101.

On Thursday we proceed up the road toward Port Angeles. We are staying at Elwha Dam RV Park. The park is located next to the former site of the Elwha Dam with was removed in 2014. The dam was completed in 1913 to provide electric power to the region.

Looking around Elwha Dam RV Park

The Glines Canyon Dam completed 14 years later did the same. The two dams no longer provided enough power, caused harm to the salmon fishery and erosion at the mouth of the river. It was decided to remove both dams. The Elwha and Glines Canyon Dam was removed in 2014 as part of an ecosystem restoration project.

If you look at the Port Angeles (0ver 20,000 souls) website there is a section labeled “331 things to do”. Well, we don’t have time to do many of those things but we’ll give it a whirl. The city’s harbor was dubbed Puerto de Nuestras Senora de los Angeles (Port of Our Lady of the Angels) by Spanish explorer Francisco de Eliza in 1791 and later shortened to Port Angeles. Port Angeles is the birthplace of football hall of famer John Elway. Ferry service is provided across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on the MV Coho.

Clallam County Courthouse

A small whaling, fishing and shipping village developed in the mid 19th century which traded with Victoria, BC. Shortly after the US Customs Port of Entry was changed from Port Townsend to Port Angeles which greatly affected its economy. Salmon Chase succeeded in getting President Abraham Lincoln to designate 3200 acres at Port Angeles as a federal reserve for lighthouse, military and naval purposes. The Army Corps of Engineers platted a federal town site, laying out the street plan which still exists today. The city’s popularity sank for a short time then was revitalized in the 1880’s. It was incorporated in 1890 and named seat of Clallam County. Large scale logging began in 1914 and a railway was brought in.

Sights in Port Angeles Harbor

The opening of the Hood Canal Bridge brought an increasingly important cog to the economy- tourism. By 1997 all saw and pulp mills were closed. During construction of the Hood Canal Bridge human remains and artifacts were discovered- “the largest prehistoric Indian Village and burial ground found in the United States”. In 2016 Port Angeles installed street signs in English and Klallam to revitalize and preserve the area’s Klallam culture.

Beautiful Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park

This northern area of the Olympic Peninsula is located in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains. Average rainfall is 25 inches as compared to areas to the west having rainfall totals of over 120 inches and Seattles 38 inches. Port Angeles is the headquarters of Olympic National Park, established in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

We took a long, windy drive up to Hurricane Ridge doing our best not to run over a multitude of ambitious bike riders. Those folks are in for an 18 mile uphill grind and I’m glad I’m not one of them. The speed limit is posted at 35 mph but most of the turns towards the top are much less than that. Elevation change is nearly 5000′ in that 18 miles and it’s all uphill. Hurricane Ridge is a popular place to view the Olympic Mountains within the national park. So popular that the only available bathrooms literally had lines out the door of the building. The view from the ridge is spectacular and difficult to capture on “film”. We ooed and awed for a while, admiring the view, then found an area suitable for the mutzos to stretch- away from the throng of visitors. If you decide to go to Hurricane Ridge its a good idea to check the NPS web cam up there before going as it can be socked in with clouds limiting the view tremendously.

We’ll be taking US Highway 101 to its northern terminus in Tumwater, Washington- yes, “Its the Water” Tumwater, then head south on I-5 to Castle Rock for a few days.

Moving on to Montesano WA

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

We left Astoria Sunday morning around 9:40 am taking a little time to hitch up the Subaru. We headed towards town and crossed the long Astoria-Megler Bridge and causeway that took us to the State of Washington. The bridge’s main span is 1232 feet, the longest continuous truss in the nation. Total distance across the mouth of the Columbia River by road is 4.1 miles with the highest point 197 feet above the water line.

We passed Cape Disappointment, named by Captain John Meares in 1788 which reflected his feeling for not finding the inland passage. The cape is part of the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park and features Fort Canby built in 1852, The North Head Lighthouse and Cape Disappointment State Park.

The first town we came to was Ilwaco (936 souls), a small settlement that lies just inside the mouth of the Columbia River. The river has one of the most treacherous river bars in the world. Over the course of 200 years the hazardous conditions of the Columbia bar and those along the nearby coast have claimed hundreds of vessels earning area waters the name “Graveyard of the Pacific”.

Cape Disappointment Coast Guard Station and Lighthouse is the home of one of the largest search and rescue bases in the state. It also houses the Coast Guards only heavy weather Motor Lifeboat School. Ilwaco is a sport fishing port where charter operators specialize in guided fishing trips for salmon, tuna, bottom fish and sturgeon.

We pass the 14,000 acre Willapa National Wildlife Refuge. Long Island has a stand of 1000 year old red cedars, supports deer, bear, elk, coyotes and beaver and 180 species of migratory birds.

We follow US 101 northward along the coast, often enjoying views of beautiful sloughs and small bays. The road is windy as it follows the water line with little elevation change.

We come to South Bend (1637 souls). The development of rich timberland established South Bend as the key point in water and stagecoach transportation in Washington Territory in the late 1800’s.

After the arrival of the railroad in 1893, the town became an important shipping point for oysters to Eastern markets. Oyster processing has become and important local industry since the 1930’s. The opulent Pacific County Courthouse with its lit, stained glass 35 foot rotunda lies 2 blocks off of US 101.

The city of Raymond (2862 souls) is in close proximity of South Bend. It was founded in 1904 at the head of navigation on the Willapa River. With two railroads serving the area the logging industry boomed. Although that industry has diminished a sawmill still exists.

Approaching Raymond is the Wildlife Heritage Sculpture Corridor featuring iron representations of the local wildlife. In town is the Northwest Carriage Museum with features 43 restored horse drawn carriages.

US Highway 101……….. hmmm. Who maintains this stinkin’ road anyhow? The stretch between Raymond and the turnoff towards Montesano goes on our list of all time crappy roads. It’s full of phantom no-see-um dips, tips and rough patches, even the repaired sections are bad. US 101 is heavily traveled as it is the O thoroughfare that runs north and south along the coast from the Mexican Boarder all the way to Tumwater, WA. But this section of the highway is beat to crap. A couple of miles south of Aberdeen we zing off on a state road that was smooth as glass. Hummmmph! We pulled into Friends Landing and all our clothes had bounced off of the clothes rack in the back of the coach. Wasn’t expecting that to happen yet that stretch of US 101 was really rough!

Our Campsite at Friends Landing

We arrive at Friends Landing RV Park located outside of Montesano Washington. The park was the brainstorm of David Hamilton, a Trout Unlimited board member, who wanted to help a close friend who was having a difficult time accepting life in a wheelchair. Hamilton made plans for a recreational facility that people with disabilities could enjoy; where they could access aqua-culture and fish enhancement projects in the beauty of northwest Washington State. He made his dream happen, complete with a campground wedged between a river and a lake for the disabled community.

The Friend family donated 152 acres, previously an old gravel pit with one mile of Chahalis River frontage to Trout Unlimited in 1988. Dredging for gravel had created the 32 acre Quigg Lake. Hamilton had planted the seed and got the wheels turning. Trout Unlimited along with Columbia RC&D and Gray’s Habor County funded the project and provided volunteers. The community build a boat launch, two fishing shelters, a picnic shelter, a parking lot and quarters for a caretaker. They built a paved path south of the lake along with viewing docks and piers. In 1999 they completed a paved path around the lake, restrooms with showers, RV and tent-camping facilities and accessible playground equipment. 

Friends Landing, once a dream is now a reality. This is our second visit to Friends Landing. A little, no, a lot off the beaten path yet offers a lot of enjoyment not only for fishermen but those who love nature. The Port of Gray’s Harbor has taken over long term management and preservation of Friends Landing. I found it interesting that here in the Pacific Northwest, known for its prolific rainfall, that every RV park and state campground we’ve been to the turf has been brown and dormant. None are irrigated relying on rainfall which has been scarce this summer.

We’ve become a little road weary and the decision is made not to travel to inland Washington’s summer playground, Westport. We’ve been to many beachy resort places and used to live within a couple of miles of the coast so we’ll just go into Aberdeen, Hoquiam and Montesano for a look see.

This is the #1 place to visit according to Aberdeen website. This is as far as you go as the port is off limits!

Aberdeen (17,013 souls) is the economic center of Gray’s Harbor County, its economy originally based on the timber industry. The city is occasionally referred to as the “Gateway to the Olympic Peninsula”. This place is situated at the mouth of the Chehalis and Wishkah Rivers.

By 1900 it had become home to many saloons, brothels and gambling establishments; it was nicknamed “The Hellhole of the Pacific” as well as “The Port of Missing Men” due to its high murder rate.

Speaking of missing men, singer/songwriter/guitarist and lead vocalist of the rock band Nirvana, Kurt Cobain was born in Aberdeen. As he grew up he became somewhat of a renegade, especially after his parents divorced. He lived in Montesano as a teenager.

We visited Kurt Cobain Memorial Park- a tiny sliver of unkempt land lying next to a bridge. Cobain claimed that during periods of homelessness he lived under a bridge over the Wishkah River, claim that was refuted by a neighbor lady we met who lived next to Cobain Park her entire life.

Signage in front of lady’s home who is fed up with Cobain seekers

The park was the brainstorm and labor of love of a neighbor who knew Kurt. The responsibility was handed to the city of Aberdeen which has never done a good job of maintaining it. Cobain died at the tender age of 27.

Aberdeen and the rest of Grays Harbor remain dependent on timber, fishing and tourism. The Port of Grays Harbor is the largest coastal shipping port north of California, exporting logs as well as having become one of the largest centers for the shipment of autos and grains to China and Korea.

We found downtown Aberdeen depressed and uninteresting so we drove up the road to Hoquiam (8776 souls). The name comes from a Native-American word meaning “hungry for wood” as there is a great amount of driftwood at the mouth of the Hoquiam River. It shares a common economic history with Aberdeen. In 1936 the wood pulp mill began manufacturing a certain kind of wood pulp used by its customers to produce rayon.

Hoquiam is home of the Logger’s Playday, celebrated with a parade and logging competition every September in which loggers from around the world come to participate. The local Bowerman Airport is coastal Washington’s only jet-capable airport.

The Old Train Depot has been repurposed as the Dept. of Motor Vehicles

We found the commercial district in Hoquiam more alive than that of Aberdeen. And seemed more clean. We drove through some residential neighborhoods which were very well maintained.

Hoquiam Mansion

Driving up a steep hill we find Hoquiam’s Castle, also known as the Robert Lytle Mansion. Built in 1897, the castle is a five story wood frame structure with a hand-fitted sandstone foundation. The house is 10,000 square feet of opulance featuring 20 rooms. The third floor has a ballroom with a 20 by 60 foot bandstand. The mansion was the first home in Hoquiam to have electric lights.

The Polson Museum, Hoquiam WA

Robert Lytle had this mansion built and shortly after its completion gave it to his niece as a wedding gift. After the niece died in the 1950’s the house was unoccupied until 1968. The Watson family restored the castle in the early 1970’s. It was opererated for a while as Hoquiam’s Castle Bed and Breakfast before being sold in 2004. The new owner allowed it to be set up as a “haunted house” to raise money for children’s activities.

On Tuesday we drove the few miles into Montesano (4,138 souls). The number of souls I state here may be incorrect. As we passed the Welcome to Montesano sign, a painter was changing number for the towns population. The city is the seat of Gray’s Harbor County.

The town was incorporated in 1883. The name Montesano was used to refer to the homestead of Isaiah Scammon and his wife Lorinda. They filed a 640 acre claim on the Chehalis River. The Scammon home was often referred to as Scammon’s Landing or Scammon’s Hotel because it was an important stopping point along the Chehalis for early pioneers, and the farthest up river mooring point and railroad junction for seagoing ships.

A prominent feature of town is the 1911 Gray’s Harbor County Courthouse. The interior features murals of local history. And don’t miss the dent in the front door which was made by a sheriff’s bullet as he fired at a fleeing felon. The motto “come on vacation and leave on probation” was coined for Montesano. Lake Sylvia State Park is just north of town and the Wynooche Valley road north from Montesano is the access to the southern Olympic Mountains and the southern quarter of Olympic National Park.

The town of Montesano is known as the origin of commercial forestry’s tree farm industry. Weyerhaeuser established the Clemons Tree Farm in 1941; today the farm sprawls over 200,000 acres. Lake Sylvia State Park located one mile north of town.

We were impressed with Montesano. The downtown area was very clean and it appeared all the stores had functioning businesses. There are blocks and blocks of well kept homes and there are quite of few very large ones. All in all, Montesano is a keeper. As a side, during WWII the citizens of Montesano purchased war bonds to pay for a B-24 bomber named The Spirit of Montesano.

We went up the road to Lake Sylvia State Park. The draw of the developed portion of the park is, of course, the lake. The lake is not large yet along with the thick forest that rims its shores, is very picturesque. This is the sight of the first sawmill in this county. We didn’t see any evidence of a sawmill, only a very nice day area with a big swimming beach, the campground and a few other very nice day use areas along the shore of Lake Sylvia.

Tomorrow we’ll be heading up the coast towards Olympic National Park. WiFi is spotty at Forks, our next camping location so I’ll get back to you when possible with more blog entries. Until then, via con Dios!

Enjoying Astoria Oregon

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Astoria is a port city and the seat of Clatsop County Oregon. Founded in 1811, Astoria is the oldest city in the state of Oregon and was the first American settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. 

The county is the northwest corner of Oregon, and Astoria is located on the south shore of the Columbia River, where the river flows into the Pacific Ocean. The city is named for John Jacob Astor, an investor and entrepreneur from New York City, whose American Fur Company founded Fort Astoria at the site and established a monopoly in the fur trade in the early nineteenth century. Astoria was incorporated on October 20, 1876.

During archeological excavations in Astoria and Fort Clatsop in 2012, trading items from American settlers with Native Americans were found, including Austrian glass beads and falconry bells. The present area of Astoria belonged to a large, prehistoric Native American trade system of the Columbia Plateau.

The 4.1-mile (6.6 km) Astoria–Megler Bridge connects to neighboring Washington across the river. The population was 10,181 souls at the 2020 census

Replica of Fort Clatsop

The Lewis and Clark Expedition spent the winter of 1805–1806 at Fort Clatsop, a small log structure southwest of modern-day Astoria. The expedition had hoped a ship would come by that could take them back east, but instead they endured a torturous winter of rain and cold. They later returned overland and by internal rivers, the way they had traveled west. Today the fort has been recreated and is part of Lewis and Clark National Historical Park.

In 1811, British explorer David Thompson, the first person known to have navigated the entire length of the Columbia River, reached the partially constructed Fort Astoria near the mouth of the river. He arrived two months after the Pacific Fur Company’s ship, the Tonquin. The fort constructed by the Tonquin party established Astoria as a U.S., rather than a British, settlement and became a vital post for American exploration of the continent. It was later used as an American claim in the Oregon Boundary Dispute with European nations.

The Pacific Fur Company, a subsidiary of John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company, was created to begin fur trading in the Oregon Country. During the War of 1812, in 1813, the company’s officers sold its assets to their Canadian rivals, the North West Company. The fur trade would remain under British control until U.S. pioneers following the Oregon Trail began filtering into the town in the mid-1840s. The Treaty of 1818 established joint U.S. – British occupancy of the Oregon Country.

As the Oregon Territory grew and became increasingly more colonized by Americans, Astoria likewise grew as a port near the mouth of the great Columbia River that provided the easiest access to the interior. The first U.S. post office west of the Rocky Mountains was established in Astoria in 1847 and official state incorporation in 1876.

At least three drawbridges exist in Astoria crossing extensive wetlands

Astoria attracted a host of immigrants beginning in the late 19th century: Nordic settlers, primarily Swedes, Swedish speaking Finns and Chinese soon became larger parts of the population. The Nordic settlers mostly lived in Uniontown, near the present-day end of the Astoria–Megler Bridge, and took fishing jobs; the Chinese tended to do cannery work, and usually lived either downtown or in bunkhouses near the canneries. By the late 1800s, 22% of Astoria’s population was Chinese.

As the Pacific Salmon resource diminished, canneries were closed. The lumber industry likewise declined in the late 20th century. Astoria Plywood Mill, the city’s largest employer, closed in 1989. The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe railroad discontinued service to Astoria in 1996, as Astoria did not provide a large enough market.

Astoria-Megler Bridge as seen typically in morning fog

From 1921 to 1966, a ferry route across the Columbia connected Astoria with Pacific County, Washington. In 1966, the Astoria–Megler Bridge was opened. The bridge completed U.S. Route 101 and linked Astoria with Washington on the opposite shore of the Columbia, replacing the ferry service.

Today, tourism, Astoria’s growing art scene, and light manufacturing are the main economic activities of the city. Logging and fishing persist, but at a fraction of their former levels.[33] Since 1982 it has been a port of call for cruise ships, after the city and port authority spent $10 million in pier improvements to accommodate these larger ships.

Flavel House

We enjoyed visiting funky downtown Astoria. It is claimed that the actor Clark Gable began his career at the Astoria Theatre in 1922. Visit the stately 11,600-square-foot Flavel House, with its two and a half stories, rear kitchen, butler’s pantry, four-story tower, attic and basement. This was the retirement home of Captain George Flavel, who had it built from 1884-1886. Today its a museum.

If in town be sure to visit the Astoria Column. The 125-foot (38 m)-tall column has a 164-step spiral staircase ascending to an observation deck at the top and was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 2, 1974. The tower was built in 1926 with financing by the Great Northern Railway and Vincent Astor, the great-grandson of John Jacob Astor, in commemoration of the city’s role in the family’s business history.

Patterned after the Trajan Column in Rome (and Place Vendôme Column in Paris), the Astoria Column was dedicated on July 22, 1926. The spiral sgraffito frieze on the exterior of the structure has a width of nearly seven feet (2.1 m) and a length of 525 feet. Painted by Electus Litchfield and Atilo Pusturla, the mural shows 14 significant events in the early history of Oregon, as well as 18 scenes from the history of the region, including Captain Gray’s discovery of the Columbia River in 1792 and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Battery R, Fort Stevens

Fort Stevens was an American military installation that guarded the mouth of the Columbia River in the state of Oregon. Built near the end of the American Civil War, it was named for a slain Civil War general and former Washington Territory governor, Isaac I. Stevens. The fort was an active military reservation from 1863–1947. Now its a 4300 acre Oregon State Park. In 1906, the crew of the sailing ship Peter Iredale took refuge at Fort Stevens, after she ran aground on Clatsop Spit. The wreck is visible today, within the boundaries of Fort Stevens State Park.

The garrison of Fort Stevens during World War II included elements of two regiments, the 249th Coast Artillery (Oregon National Guard) and the 18th Coast Artillery of the Regular Army. The garrison came under attack in WWII when a Japanese submarine shelled the fort. The only damage created was the backstop of the ball diamond was destroyed.

Fort Stevens was decommissioned in 1947. All the armaments were removed and buildings were auctioned. The grounds were transferred to the Corps of Engineers, until finally being turned over to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department in 1975. The large state park boasts full hook up campsites, primitive and electrical sites, yurts, and deluxe cabins; most are pet friendly. There is a lake and and over nine miles of paved bicycle trails, fishing, a historic shipwreck, and underground tours of the military battery. Fort Stevens is a wonder state park!

Our campsite here at Lewis and Clark Golf and RV Park was wonderful. Nice and wide with shrubbery in between sites. Ours was a pull in site meaning we had a front row view of the golf course.

Tomorrow we’ll be pulling up stakes and head into the State of Washington. See you there!

On the Road to Astoria, Oregon

Saturday August 20, 2022

We left Tillamook on Wednesday- destination Astoria, Oregon. We only have a 60 mile travel day through some very beautiful country.

The highway hugs the coast for a ways. Rockaway Beach (1300 souls), home of the Old Growth Cedar Preserve which features a large cedar, The Big Tree, which is estimated to be 500-900 years old. The community was established as a seaside resort in 1909. As an aside, the Pronto Pup was invented at Rockaway in the late 1930’s.

We soon reach the Nehalem River and its Bay. The basin is beautiful with dairy farms along side the river contrasting with the forested hillsides. The town of Nehalem is tiny at 355 souls and it appears to be thriving. It thrived as a logging, fishing and shipping town but logging has wained.

According to The Oregon Companion by Richard H. Engeman, Arch Cape in 1912 was a “remote hamlet…at the end of a wagon road from Seaside, Oregon.

Arch Rock with Hug Falls

Prior to 1938, U.S. Route Highway 101(Oregon Coast Highway), which was completed in 1936, ended at Arch Cape, just south of Arch Cape Creek. In February 1936, the Oregon State Highway Commission began work on a 1,228-foot tunnel through the Arch Cape headland. According to the July 1937 issue of Western Construction News, at the time, it was the longest tunnel on the Oregon highway system. Work was completed in March 1940. Prior to the building of the new highway and the 1228 foot long tunnel (circa 1940) through the Arch Cape Headland, the only way by automobile around Arch Cape was to drive around on the beach at low tide.

Cannon Beach is a city in Clatsop CountyOregon, United States. Its population was 1,690 souls at the 2010 census. It is a popular coastal Oregon tourist destination, famous for Haystack Rock, a 235 ft (72 m) sea stack that juts out along the coast. In 2013, National Geographic listed it as “one of the world’s 100 most beautiful places.

William Clark, one of the leaders of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, journeyed to Cannon Beach in early 1805. The expedition was wintering at Fort Clatsop, roughly 20 miles (32 km) to the north near the mouth of the Columbia River. In December 1805, two members of the expedition returned to camp with blubber from a whale that had beached several miles south, near the mouth of Ecola Creek. Clark later explored the region himself. From a spot near the western cliffs of the headland he saw “…the grandest and most pleasing prospects which my eyes ever surveyed, in front of a boundless Ocean…” That viewpoint, later dubbed “Clark’s Point of View,” can be accessed by a hiking trail from Indian Beach in Ecola State Park.

Clark and several of his companions, including Sacagawea, completed a three-day journey on January 10, 1806, to the site of the beached whale. They encountered a group of Native Americans from the Tillamook tribe who were boiling blubber for storage. Clark and his party met with them and successfully bartered for 300 pounds (136 kg) of blubber and some whale oil before returning to Fort Clatsop.

Clark applied the name Ekoli to what is now Ecola Creek. Ehkoli is a Chinook word for “whale”. Early settlers later renamed the creek “Elk Creek”, and a community with the same name formed nearby.

US 101 used to run through Cannon Beach but a tsunami generated by the 1964 Alaska Earthquake washed away the bridge and flooded portions of town. Consequently, the highway was rerouted to higher ground.

Cannon Beach is a tourist resort destination. Because of its proximity to Portland, Oregon, it is particularly known as a weekend getaway spot for residents and tourists. Chain stores have been discouraged from building in order to preserve the local economy and small-town feel. Artisan shops and local restaurants line the streets of the town.

Seaside is a city of 6457 souls. The name is derived from Seaside House, a historic summer resort built in the 1870’s by railroad magnate Ben Holladay. In 1806 a group of men from the Lewis and Clark Expedition built a salt making cairn at what is now seaside.

The town was incorporated in 1899. A fella by the name of Gilbert, a real estate developer built a beach cottage in 1885 and added to in 1892. The Gilbert House still stands and does business as the Gilbert Inn. Seaside was pounded by heavy traffic when we drove through. We couldn’t figure out why……..

We arrive at Lewis and Clark Golf and RV Park just after noon. The office lady had called us while we were on the road to verify that we were indeed still going to honor our reservation made in February. Well, yes we are and we are enroute. We arrived shortly after noon only to find the office closed until 1pm. As we turned to return to the RV a lady came to the door and invited us in to register. Perfect timing! We check and settle down in site A10, a pull in that has us facing the golf course. Perfect! We’ll enjoy this park for sure.

Tillamook, Oregon

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

We left Waldport this morning figuring the 80 mile trip wouldn’t take very long, even with stops at scenic viewpoints. Wrongo, Cowboy! The road is not conducive to mach speeds in a motorhome.

Throw in a fatality traffic accident that occurred in our path which shut down US Highwy 101 and the trip time balloons to over four hours. No biggie, we are not in a hurry.

The first town of consequence we come to is Newport. Newport is a city in Lincoln CountyOregon, United States. It was incorporated in 1882, though the name dates back to the establishment of a post office in 1868. Newport was named for Newport, Rhode Island. The city has a total population of 9,989 souls, an increase of nearly 5% over its 2000 population; as of 2019, it had an estimated population of 10,853.

The area was originally home to the Yacona tribe, whose history can be traced back at least 3000 years. White settlers began homesteading the area in 1864. The town was named by Sam Case, who also became the first postmaster.

Newport has been the county seat of Lincoln County since 1952, when voters approved a measure to move the center of government from nearby Toledo to Newport.[9] It is also home of the Oregon Coast AquariumHatfield Marine Science CenterNye BeachYaquina Head LightYaquina Bay Light, Pacific Maritime Heritage Center, and is notable as the western terminus of U.S. Route 20, the longest road in the United States.

Depoe Bay is a city in Lincoln CountyOregon, United States, located on U.S. Route 101 on the Pacific Ocean. The population was 1,398 souls at the 2010 census. The bay of the same name is a 6-acre (2.4 ha) harbor that the city promotes as the world’s smallest navigable harbor.

Depoe Bay was named for Siletz Indian Charles “Charley” Depot who was originally allotted the land in 1894 as part of the Dawes Act of 1887. There are conflicting accounts of the origin of his name.[8] One says he was given the name “Depot Charley” for working at the military depot near Toledo, Oregon. The family was later known as “DePoe”.[11] His original tribal affiliation was Tututni.[12]

In 1975, the fishing trip sequence in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was filmed in Depoe Bay.

Lincoln City was incorporated on March 3, 1965, uniting the cities of Delake, Oceanlake and Taft, and the unincorporated communities of Cutler City and Nelscott. Lincoln City is home to one of the world’s shortest rivers, the D River, connecting Devil’s Lake with the Pacific Ocean. Lincoln City has three primary economic resources: tourism, healthcare, and retirement. Two kite festivals are held annually in Lincoln City, the Summer Kite Festival in June and the Fall Kite Festival in October. Both festivals are each held at D River Wayside, where several other world-class kite events are held. The city is known by some as the “Kite Capital of the World”.

Hebo, 230 souls, means “Lord of the River” in Chinese. It is located in the Nestucca Valley a farming and ranching area just inland from the Pacific Ocean.

The city of Tillamook  is the seat of Tillamook County. The city is located on the southeast end of Tillamook Bay. The population was 5,231 souls at the 2020 census. The city is named for the Tillamook people, a Native American tribe speaking a Salishan language who lived in this area until the early 19th century. Anthropologist Franz Boas identifies the Tillamook Native Americans as the southernmost branch of the Coast Salish peoples of the Pacific Northwest.

Captain Robert Gray first anchored in Tillamook Bay in 1788, marking the first recorded European landing on the Oregon coast. Settlers began arriving in the early 1850s, and Tillamook County was created by the Territorial legislature in 1853. In 1862, the town itself was laid out, and the first post office was opened in 1866. The town was voted to be the county seat in 1873, and Tillamook was officially incorporated as a city in 1891.[

During World War II, the US Navy operated a blimp patrol station near the town at Naval Air Station Tillamook. The station was decommissioned in 1948, and the remaining facility now houses the Tillamook Air Museum. The Tillamook area is also home to five rivers, the Tillamook, Trask, Wilson, Kilchis, and the Miami just north of the city.

Historically, the Tillamook economy has been based primarily on dairy farms. The farmland surrounding the city is used for grazing the milk cattle that supply the Tillamook County Creamery Association‘s production of cheese, particularly cheddar, gourmet ice cream and yogurt, and other dairy products. Approximately one million people visit the cheese factory (located north of Tillamook on Highway 101 each year.[10]

The lumber industry also is experiencing a comeback from the replanting that followed the Tillamook Burn forest fires of the mid-20th century. The burned remains of some of the trees can still be found in the forests surrounding Tillamook.

Tillamook also serves tourists on their way to the ocean beaches and as a location for second homes. The Tillamook Cheese Factory is the Tillamook County Creamery Association’s original cheese production facility. The Tillamook Cheese Factory also serves as a Visitor Center and hosts over 1 million tourists each year.

And for you trivia lovers, The Tillamook County Fair is world-famous for the annual Pig-N-Ford race where contestants have to catch a pig and race stripped Model T Fords around an oval track with the pig under one arm.

We drove the short distance to Bay City (1286 souls) for a look around. Nice little town but nothing there that interested us. Today we drove to Cape Meares. We missed the turnoff and wound up going to the cape via Netarts (744 souls). As luck would have it the other route is closed due to some road structure problems so nothing lost. Netarts is located at the mouth of Netarts Bay which is separated from the ocean by a club shaped forested sand arm. Netarts, in the language of the local Tillamook Tribe means “near the water”. Many varietes of clam thrive in the bay. Nearby Cape Lookout State Park offers camping and hiking opportunities. Just to the north of Netarts is the quaint little village of Oceanside (360 souls). Three Rocks National Refuge lies just offshore.

We make our way to Cape Meares and its lighthouse. That’s when we realize we took the correct route to the cape as the road had been blocked just past the turnoff to the lighthouse. Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint is known for its lighthouse, stunning ocean views and octopus shaped Sitka spruce.

It lies at the northern end of the Three Capes Scenic Loop. You may even spot migrating whales, dolphins or sea lions while admiring the scenery here. The steep cliffs and offshore rocks are nesting sites for thousands of seabirds

Cape Meares Lighthouse may be the shortest on the Oregon coast, but it features an impressive, kerosene-powered lens. First lit on Jan. 1, 1890, the first order Fresnel lens was one of the most powerful and largest of its day. Mariners could spot the distinctive red-and-white flashes from more than 21 miles away. It’s quite a downhill walk to the lighthouse, not too long but steep. Viewpoints of the ocean and cliffs are provided on the way down. The hike back up to the parking lot is a real gasser. If you walk down to the light take your time on your return.

This afternoon we drove up to Garibaldi, may 10 miles from our campground. The first thing one notices when entering town is the huge smokestack.  Built in 1927, the smokestack – one of the tallest manmade structures on the Oregon coast – was the landmark of the Hammond Lumber Company, for a time the largest lumber mill on the coast.

Garibaldi (797 souls) is known as Oregon’s authentic fishing village located at the northern end of Tillamook Bay. Not only a fishing port the town has a working lumber mill, Nortwest Hardwoods. It’s also home to the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad depot and two history museums. We counted no less than three RV parks located near the marina, making this a popular place to visit.

The first post office was established in 1870. The town was named after Italian Giuseppe Garibaldi who helped unify Italy after a military career devoted to establishing democracy around the world. In the 1930’s the community was composed of mostly elderly women and children and given the name “Squawtown”. Also located here is a Coast Guard Station. We walked around the marina admiring its function and beauty. We also drove around town and found some very nice houses.

Tomorrow we relocate to the Astoria area. See you there!

Waldport, Oregon

Sunday August 14, 2022

We left Bullard’s Beach this morning around 1000 hours, in no hurry to travel the 100 miles to our next destination, Waldport-Newport KOA located in Waldport, Oregon.

The first significant city we come to is Coos Bay. Coos Bay is a city located in Coos County Oregon where the Coos River enters Coos Bay. The city borders the city of North Bend, and together they are often referred to as one entity called either Coos Bay-North Bend or Oregon’s Bay Area. Coos Bay’s population as of is 15,985 souls, making it the most populous city on the Oregon Coast. Oregon’s Bay Area is estimated to be home to 32,308.

Downtown Coos Bay in the evening

Prior to around 1915, the Coos region was largely isolated from the rest of Oregon due to difficulties in crossing the Coastal Range and fording rivers, so the Pacific Ocean was used to link people to other areas, including San Francisco, which was an easier two-day trip compared to traveling inland over rugged terrain. In 1916 a rail line was completed that linked the region to other interior settlements and towns, which increased commercial trade and tourism. Significant urban growth occurred in the 1920s, and during the 1930s to 1950s large-scale growth occurred. 

Today a full 22% of the population is employed in health care and social assistance followed by accommodation and food services at 8%. The list dwindles down in percentage from there.

Located in the general area of Coos Bay is beautiful Sunset Bay State Park. Nearby are Shore Acres State Park and Cape Arago State Park. All three are within miles of one another and all are worth visiting.

Heading towards Reedsport

Reedsport (4300 souls) was established in 1912 as a camp for railroad construction workers who were building the Southern Pacific rail line from Coos Bay. The town thrived on the timber industry until its collapse in the late 20th century. Tourism has helped revive its economy due to fishing in the Umpqua River and the nearby Oregon Dunes.

Reedsport Oregon

Florence is a coastal city in Lane County. It lies at the mouth of the Suislaw River and about midway between Newport and Coos Bay along US 101. The city has a population of 8,921 souls.

Florence Oregon

Florence’s location on the Siuslaw (Sigh-Yew-slae) River is  immediately north of Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.

Oregon Dunes

The former mainstays of Florence’s economy were logging, commercial fishing, and agriculture, but today tourism is increasingly significant. In addition to downtown businesses, the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians operate the Three Rivers Casino Resort. The Port of Siuslaw promotes commercial fishing, shipping and tourism.  About one-third of Florence’s population consists of retirees.

Haceta Head Lighthouse

Not far past Florence is the incredibly beautiful Haceta Head Lighthouse. We’ve been to the lighthouse several times so this time Jil wings a photo on the fly, we head through the rather narrow tunnel, across a beautiful bridge and down to the RV parking lot to walk the dogs. The light keepers house has been converted into a bed and breakfast and the light is still open for tours. It’s a truly beautiful setting. If you ever come this way be sure to stop in.

We bypass the Sealion Cave, a tourist trap, as we’ve seen hundreds of the critters.

Cape Perpetua is located about 2 miles (3.2 km) south of Yachats (YAH-hots), Oregon, along US Route 101. It is a typical Pacific Northwest headland, forming a high steep bluff above the ocean. At its highest point, Cape Perpetua rises to over 800 feet (244 m) above sea level. From its crest, an observer can see 70 miles of Oregon coastline and as far as 37 miles out to sea on a clear day. The cape was named by Captain James Cook on March 7, 1778, as he searched for the Pacific entrance to a Northwest Passage. Cook named the cape Perpetua because it was discovered on St. Perpetua‘s Day.

Yachats Oregon

A few miles south of Waldport is the quaint town of Yachats (YAH-hots), 694 souls. According to Oregon Geographic Names, the name comes from the Siletz language and means “dark water at the foot of the mountain”. Yachats is a very popular tourist destination. Even Art Frommer, founder of Frommer’s Travel Guides, listed the town as Number 8 among his ten favorite vacation destinations in the world.

Alsea River Bridge, Waldport Oregon

Waldport is a city in Lincoln County. The population was 2,033 souls at the 20120 census. The city is located on the Alsea River and Alsea Bay, 15 miles south of Newport and 8 miles (13 km) north of Yachats. Settlement of Waldport began in 1879 when David Ruble bought squatter’s rights from Lint Starr for $300 for property including the area now known as “Old Town”. Many early settlers were of German descent, and one of the names proposed for this town was Waldport, “wald” meaning forest or trees, and “port” referring to its proximity to the ocean. The plat for the town was recorded on September 9, 1885 and by 1911, when Waldport was incorporated, it boasted a dozen businesses and 150 inhabitants.

The earliest inhabitants of the area were known as the “Alsi” or “Alsea”, a name given to them by the Coos tribe. (Their name for themselves in their own language was “Wusi” or “Wusitslum”.) In 1780 the total number of “Yakonan”, which included tribes from Yaquina Bay to the Siuslaw, was estimated to have numbered upwards of 6000 and the Alsea river and bay was home to numerous small villages. At the time of Lewis and Clark, the numbers had dwindled to about 1000, and by 1910 only 29 remained at the Siletz reservation.

In September 1975, Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles gave a lecture in Waldport on UFOs which was attended by roughly 150 people. In the following days, an estimated 20 residents, nearly one out of 30 people who lived in the town, abandoned their homes and possessions and joined their group, Heaven’s Gate. An Oregon Police investigation concluded that no laws had been broken.

Seashore Joy Garden

Just off the main drag lies a community garden, the Seashore Joy Garden. All produce grown there is donated to needy families. Next door is a large building that was previously used to store and sort donated clothing and other goods. Help dwindled due to the pandemic and has yet to restart.

Life is good at the Waldport Newport KOA!

Waldport’s economy is driven by tourism today with almost 19% of the population employed in the accommodation and food services industries, followed by retail trade, health care and public administration.

Incredible view out our front window!

We enjoyed our stay in Waldport. We took advantage of a large grassy field in which to walk our mutzos, did some exploring around the area and just kicked back in the very nice Waldport Newport KOA. The facility is very well maintained. In fact each site is raked every time it is vacated to level out the gravel parking area. The park offers killer views of the Alsea Bridge and bay. Life is good here in Waldport.

Tomorrow we pick up, load up, jacks up and head north to Tillamook. You probably recognize the name as it is a very popular brand of cheese in grocery stores. See you there!

Bandon, Oregon

Thursday August 11, 2022

We left Brookings shortly after 10 expecting a short 90 mile drive. We arrived in Bandon a little after 2pm. As you can see the mileage doesn’t really correspond to the long travel time. We can account for part of that as we took a side trip to the Cape Blanco Light Station.

It’s about 6 miles off the beaten path, and I mean beaten. The narrow road was washed out in three places making for a pretty bumpy path leading to the lighthouse. The light was unchanged from the last time we visited. 

We plan on staying three days at Bullards Beach State Park. We were volunteer hosts here about eleven years ago. Our duty was to man the Coquille River Lighthouse, give tours of the light and selling souveniers in the gift shop to our guests. There was no electric power to the light and only had a portable propane fired heater for warmth. To keep track of sales we were handed a battery operated calculator that had been modified, some buttons represented cash sales, others credit card sales.

The Beach At Bullards Beach State Park

The calculator was a mess to operate and could easily be overridden to make sales come out square. At the end of the day receipts, moneys and the calculator were turned into the office. We closed the light tour mid month and were assigned the task of cleaning and straightening up the inventory room. Each and every book mark was counted and catagorized. There were hundreds of those suckers! Tee shirts- same thing but not hundreds. Sweat shirts counted and sized, etc. Trinkits- same. It took us all day to straighten up the mess but we did it.

Our gig was up at the end of two weeks but we volunteered to stay for a while longer- until our new fearless leader ranger dude wanted us to remove all of the scotch broom on a hillside by just cutting it off. We told him that it would grow back from the roots and the effort would be wasted unless the root was removed. He wasn’t convinced and turned us loose with pruners. We decided that digging tools were in order, went to the tool shack and found more appropriate tools to remove the broom. Spent four hours digging up plants by their roots clearing maybe a 150 square feet of hillside with several thousand more waiting for us.. Decided that the effort was an exercise in frivolity since acres of the stuff grew on the hill and unvolunteered ourselves of the task since our official volunteer gig had ended, turned in our gear and left.

Walking Path Bullards Beach SP

Bandon is in Coos County, lying on the south side of the mouth of the Coquille River. The population of this popular destination is 3066 souls. The first Europeans discovered gold at nearby Whiskey Run Beach in 1851. The first permanent European settlers came in 1853 and established the townsite. As was common practice the Indigenous Americans were sent to a reservation shortly thereafter. The town of Bandon was established in 1873 by Irishman George Bennett and his three sons who had come from Bandon, Ireland. A post office was established in 1877. In 1880 cheese making began. The first sawmill, school house and Catholic Church were built in 1883. In 1884 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction on the jetty.

Henry Baldwin, from County Cork, Ireland, was shipwrecked on the Coos Baybar and walked into this area. The first permanent European settlers came in 1853 and established the present town site. In 1856, the first conflicts with Indigenous Americans in the area arose and the native Americans were sent to the Siletz Reservation. In 1859, the boat Twin Sisters sailed into the Coquille River and opened the outlet for all inland produce and resources.

The beautiful grounds of the Bandon Fish Hatchery

In 1877, the post office was established. In 1880, cheese making began. That same year, Congress appropriated money to build the jetty. In 1883, the first sawmill, school house, and Catholic church were built. In 1884, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction on the jetty.

Face Rock, Bandon Oregon

Much to most everyone’s chagrin Bennett also introduced gorse to the local area, which went wild and became a nuisance in town and countryside. Gorse, a spiny plant, grows so thickly a person cannot walk through it. It’s also very oily which easily catches fire.

Cranberries have been grown in the area since 1885, vines being brought from Massachusetts, the variety named for Charles McFarlin in his honor and foresight for introducing the crop to Oregon. McFarlin’s cranberry bog lasted eight decades. Bandon is also the first location where cranberries were wet harvested, a technique which floods the bog allowing the fruit to float, making it easy to harvest.

On September 26, 1936, a fire burned several miles of forest east of town. But a sudden shift in the wind drove the flames swiftly westward. Ignited by the forest fire, the town’s abundant gorse became engulfed in flames, The entire town was in flames with all but 14 of 400 buildings lost. The total loss stated at the time was $3 million, with 11 fatalities. Firefighters found that burning gorse reacted to having water squirted on it like a kitchen grease fire—it simply spread burning gobs of gorse everywhere.

Coquille Light today

Part of the commercial district had been erected on wooden pilings jutting out over the Coquille River not far from the South Jetty, accommodating river traffic at the merchants’ doors. After the 1936 fire, when Bandon began to be rebuilt, the new perimeter of the business district did not extend beyond the available land. There is still gorse in Bandon today, but municipal codes strictly regulate how high and thick it may be allowed to get. 

Misty Meadows specializing in fruit preserves, fresh fruit from their orchard

Adjacent to the town, the Coquille River empties into the Pacific Ocean. The river extends inland a great distance and was a natural link to the virgin stands of timber in the area, but the bar at the mouth of the river, formed by the interaction of the river and ocean, was a major obstacle for ships entering the river. At times, only a few feet of water would cover the bar, but vessels still attempted to navigate the river in hopes of reaping the rewards that lay upstream. In 1880, Congress passed a bill funding the construction of a jetty on the south side of the river’s entrance that created a deep channel, resulting in a rapid rise in the number of ships entering the river.

Coquille Lighthouse Complex

A lighthouse at the entrance to Coquille River was the next logical step for improving navigation, and in 1890 the Lighthouse Board used the following language to request funds for it. A light of the fourth order with a fog-signal, at this point, would enable vessels bound into the river to hold on close to the bar during the night so that they would be in a position to cross at the next high water. The light would also serve as a coast light and would be of much service to vessels bound up and down the river. 

Congress appropriated $50,000 for the project on March 3, 1891, but it would be four years before land was purchased, plans were solidified, and the construction crew was assembled. Local stone was cut to form the structure’s foundation, while the lighthouse itself was built of brick, covered with a layer of stucco. The design was unique with a cylindrical tower attached to the east side of an elongated, octagonal room, which housed the fog signal equipment and had a large trumpet protruding from its western wal

A long, wooden walkway connected the lighthouse to the keepers’ duplex, 650 feet away. Each side of the duplex had three bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, sitting room, and a 15,000-gallon brick cistern for storing water. A barn was located 150 feet beyond the dwelling. 

James F. Barker, the first head keeper, and John M. Cowan, his assistant, were transferred to Coquille River from Heceta Head and took up residence at the new station during the first part of 1896. The fourth-order Fresnel lens was first shown from the tower on February 29, 1896, and a snowstorm settled in the next day, necessitating the first use of the fog signal. 

We spent quite a bit of our time here in Bandon enjoying the downtown area, and visiting the local sights. The state park is large and offers long walking paths, a boat ramp, a horse camp, miles of beach to explore, the Coquille Light and an excellent camping area. Life is good here at Bullards Beach State Park!

Tomorrow we head north towards Waldsport. See you there……

People demonstrating their support for President Trump in Bandon

Oregon or Bust!

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Monday August 8, 2022

Our route continues to be US 101 and will be for the next few weeks as we continue travel to Washington State. We left Arcata behind on Sunday morning- it was drizzly and foggy for the entire trip up to Brookings.

We passed some very scenic country on the way. Trinidad is a picturesque little burg that overlooks a U-shaped harbor. Trinidad at 367 souls is one of California’s smallest incorporated cities.

She is part of the  California Coastal National Monument, a Gateway City. Fishing operations are a vital part of its economy. The harbor was discovered by captains of Spanish galleons and first made landfall on Trinity Sunday, 1775, thus the name “Trinidad”. It became the seat of Trinity County, which then was incorporated into Humboldt County in 1854.

We pass Elk County RV Resort, so aptly named, as we observe 30 cow elk laying in their green pasture.

Patrick’s Point State Park was a favorite of mine when I was a boy. The State Park has been renamed as Patrick Beegan, who the area is named of, turned out to be a not so model citizen. Patrick moved to and built a cabin on the point in 1851. He was implicated of murdering a Native American boy in 1854, then escaped to Bald Hills. In 1864 he led a militia to a Native American village where numerous Indigenous people were massacred.

Beautiful Patrick’s Point, The State Park renamed to Sue-meg

Although he lived in the area less than three years other homesteaders came to call the area “Patrick’s Ranch or “Patrick’s Point”. The State Park, upon the request of the Yurok, renamed the state park the original place name, Sue-meg.

Crescent City (6673 souls) is the seat of Del Norte County. Ironically the Pelican Bay State Prison inmate population is included in the census. It is the site of the Redwood National Park Headquarters as well as the historic Battery Point Light. Crescent City Harbor serves as home for numerous commercial fishing vessels.  Crescent City’s offshore geography makes it unusually susceptible to tsunamis. Much of the city was destroyed by four tsunami waves, the last being 8’feet high, generated by the Great Alaskan earthquake off Anchorage, Alaska in 1964.

Mother Nature Attacking the Battery Point Light

More recently, the city’s harbor suffered extensive damage and destruction from tsunamis generated by the March 11, 2011 earthquake off Sendai, Japan. Several dozen vessels and many of the docks they were moored to were destroyed. The first European to explore this land was pioneer Jedediah Smith in the early 19th century. Today fishing, crabbing, tourism and timber are the major sources of income for Del Norte County. An interesting fact is Crescent City, CA is closer to Vancouver Canada (two states away) than to Los Angeles, CA!

20 miles north of Crescent City is our destination for a couple of nights- Brookings, Oregon (6744 souls). Brooking is named for John Brookings, president of Brookings Lumber and Box Company, which founded the city in 1908. Brooking is marketing itself as “The Pulse of America’s Wild Rivers Coast”. The Port of Brookings Harbor was also damaged by tidal surges estimated to be nearly 8 feet by the 2011 Japan earthquake produced tsunamis.

The Chetco River at At River’s Edge RV Resort

Brookings lies in the “Banana Belt” of Oregon, enjoying a Mediterranean type climate. The “Chetco or Brookings effect” can cause the temperature in Brookings near the Chetco River to be much higher than the surrounding area. Warm air from the Great Basin sweeps over the Cascade Range and descends upon the Oregon Coast Range where the warm air is funneled down the deep Chetco Canyon, canceling the effect of the Pacific Ocean.. Temperatures can be as much as 40 degrees warmer in Brookings than neighboring Crescent City.

City of Brookings and its Harbor (photo borrowed from internet)

The city has many parks. Azalea park is beautiful and well laid out, having gardens, a bandshell, gazebo, kids playground, soccer and softball fields. Harris Beach State Park is tremendously popular. The campground is located on a bluff above the scenic coastline, lying in a beautiful forested area.

On September 9, 1942, Mount Emily near Brookings became the only site in the mainland United States and the second in the continental territory after the bombing of Dutch Harbor to suffer aerial bombardment during World War II. A Japanese floatplane piloted by Nobuo Fujita was launched from submarine I-25. The plane was armed with two incendiary bombs on a mission intended to start massive fires in the dense forests of the Pacific Northwest. Ha! The forest was too wet to burn!

AtRivers Edge RV Resort

We are staying at AtRivers Edge RV Resort, located just south of town on the southern bank of the Chetco River. The park seems to be really isolated yet is only a mile from the main highway. The park is well maintained and very popular- as is almost any well maintained park on the coast this time of year. Our Southern Nevada neighbors are here for a month and plan to return next year. They have to book a year in advance ensure a site for the following year.

We visited downtown Brookings, cruising the main drag. We shopped at the huge Fred Meyers store, bought groceries, then went sight seeing. We are impressed with the beautiful and functional Azalea Park. We then head to Harris Beach whose beautiful campground has a perpetual “no vacancy” sign, but one can drive down to the picturesque beach. Jil spots a little dog sitting on top of a motorcycle, gets curious and starts a conversation with the rider. He’s traveled to 25 states with little Sasha riding shotgun, camping with gear he carries on his motorcycle. He lives in Arizona, traveling in the summer months when it’s too hot to stay home.

Sasha The Motorcycle Dog

We are moving to Bullards Beach State Park located just north of Bandon, OR tomorrow. See you then!

Buster and Ollie React- Going through the car wash-ugh!

Traveling Up The Redwood Highway

Saturday, August 6, 2022

We left Fort Bragg on Thursday with around 160 miles to travel. There is no easy way to continue our trip north so we chose to stay on CA 1 which is the most direct route, the drawback being the highway is more narrow and winds its way up and down the coastal range for 40 miles until its terminus at Leggett. The plus side is the scenery along the rugged coast is reminiscent of the Big Sur Coast to our south and the road also takes us through redwood forest as we traverse the coastal range.

The drive to Leggett and US 101 is almost agonizing. It’s only 40+ miles yet take us over 2 hours to complete. Once we leave the coast we are unable to maintain 30 miles an hour for all the slow to 20 mph curves with a few 10 mph hairpins thrown in for grins, not to mention the grades. Not having much traffic is a bonus for us as there are few turnouts to allow passing. It’s a nasty little road for RV’ers that kind of makes up for it because of its beautiful surroundings………. kind of………

We pass through more redwood groves on US101. The National Park Service distinguishes the coastal redwoods from the giant sequoia thusly: The giant sequoia, a close relative of the redwood live on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada in Central California at 4000 to 8000 feet for 250 miles. The redwood grows near the Pacific Ocean along the Northern California Coast for about 450 miles starting around Big Sur/Monterrey to the south and 15 miles wide. The giant sequoia is the largest tree in the world (General Sherman Tree 275′ tall, 36′ in diameter) in volume having an immense trunk; the redwood is the world’s tallest tree (the Hyperion Tree 380’9.7″) and has a slender trunk by comparison. The bark of the giant sequoia is bright reddish brown whereas the redwood is a dull chocolate brown.

Negotiating the Redwood Forest

We pass through several redwood groves located at Smith Redwoods, Richardson Grove SP, Humboldt Redwoods SP. We skirt many of them, only traveling through a couple of groves. It’s a nail biter navigating the big trees as the road comes within inches of the closest ones.

The “sights” in Redcrest

We drop off of US101 and stop in the tiny community of Redcrest (110 souls) to stretch our legs. As with most of the small communities along the Redwood Highway its economy is tourist driven. Jil treats us to an ice cream cone, the mutzos are treated to a good petting by a local gal, and we are on our way. We choose to stay on the old Redwood Highway for a while, enjoying the deep shade provided by the big redwoods.

The last 100 miles takes about the same amount of time as did the first 40 even with a half hour layover in Redcrest. US 101 is a much better road than the last 40 of CA1. We pass by Fortuna, then through Eureka on our way to Mad River Rapids RV Park located 8 miles north in Arcata.

Town Square- Arcata

Arcata comes from the Yurok term “oket’oh”, meaning “where there is a lagoon”. While here in Arcata (18,000 souls) we visited Redwoods Park. The park is really pretty with it big, beautiful redwoods. The ground is covered with bark dust, decaying needles and wood giving the duff a reddish tone. The park is located next to Humboldt Poly University. Jil’s brother went to school at Humboldt way back when.

Humboldt State

We went into downtown Arcata. The place is nicely layed out around a square but the first thing we noticed was not how nice the town looks but all the homeless folks- many of them staggering around as if drugged. What a pity! We walked around for a while noticing signs in storefront announcing weird things that were meaningless to us. We then went to a Safeway store and bought groceries.

Historic Minor Theater- circa 1914

Hike through redwoods in Redwood Park

The town was established in 1850 as a port and reprovisioning center for the gold mines to the east. Later in the 1850’s redwood timber replaced the depleted gold fields as the economic driver for the region. Neighboring Eureka also became the principal city on the bay due to its possession of the better harbor.

Usn’s at the Samoa Cookhouse
Samoa Cookhouse

Today we went on a little ride to Somoa (258 souls). Somoa is located in the northern peninsula of the Humboldt Bay. The Somoa Cookhouse is located there. It is one of the last remaining original lumber camp style cookhouses. The cookhouse was built in 1893 and provided dining facilities for the Vance Lumber Company. It served and still serves lumber camp style, or family style meals at long communal tables. The building is large enough to seat 500 people. The second floor served as a dormitory for the waitresses. Waitresses were required to be single at the time and were paid $30 a month. The dormitory had a curfew and was locked at night, the women not allowed to date on the weekdays. There was, however, a secret passageway that led to the kitchen that the waitresses used to leave the dormitory at night.

We then traveled over the bay via bridges to Eureka (45,034 souls). Eureka is the principal city and seat of Humboldt County in the Redwood Empire region of California. Its the largest city between San Francisco and Portland, OR and the westernmost city of more than 25,000 residents in the 48 contiguous states. Greater Eureka is one of California’s major fishing ports and the largest deep water port between San Francisco and Coos Bay OR. Eureka is home to California’s oldest zoo, the Sequoia Park Zoo.

Carson Mansion

The entire city is a historical landmark, which has hundreds of significant Victorian homes, including the nationally recognized Carson Mansion. It has retained its original 19th century commercial core as a nationally recognized “Old Town Historic District”. We drop by the district to ogle the splendor of the Carson Mansion. The house is considered the most grand Victorian home in America and with good reason. I enclose several photos of the mansion for your viewing pleasure.

Exquisite Detail on Exterior

The William Carson Mansion was home to one of Northern California’s first major lumber barons. It was sold and has become a private club, the Ingomar Club. Carson came from New Brunswick, Canada, following the goldrush of 1849. By happenstance, he came to Humboldt bay and contracted to provide logs for small sawmill. He and Jerry Whitemore felled a tree, the first for commercial purposes on Humboldt Bay. After logging all winter Carson went back to his gold mine claim.

He heard of a large sawmill being established at Humboldt Bay, went to the Sacramento Valley, bought oxen and returned to the bay by 1852 and remained in the lumber business permanently. His first loads of redwood timber shipped to San Francisco in 1854. Carson went into business with a fella by the name of Dolbeer. As the company advanced into areas more difficult to log, Dolbeer invented the Steam Donkey Engine which revolutionized log removal. Carson became involved in the founding of a railroad. Before commencing the building of his mansion, Carson said, “If I build it poorly, they would say that I am a damned miser; if I build it expensively, they will say I’m a show off; guess I’ll just build it to suit myself.” Construction of the house began in 1884. It was purchased in 1950 for $35,000!

Not Too Shabby Victorian acress from Carson Mansion

We spent the rest of the morning drive through portions of Eureka, then back to the RV park to walk the dogs and get ready for travel tomorrow. Weather remains typically NorCal coast- overcast almost entirely all day in the 60’s with nighttime temps in the mid-50’s.

We are heading up to Brookings Oregon in the a.m. See you then!

Day Tripping Around Fort Bragg


Fort Bragg

Yesterday we took a little ride through Fort Bragg admiring the old style buildings as we passed through. We proceeded north to McKerricher State Park. The park offers day and picnic areas, a beach, a small lake and a campground. The Union Pacific Haul Road used to run through the park down by the beach as evidenced by the trestle that still exists.

Beach at McKerrich State Park

I camped here as a youngster probably 65 years ago with my dad. I still have a picture that he took of me fishing at that little lake. Since Buster is very dog reactive we have to be careful not to set him off. We were able to take a short, calm walk at the park, which was nice. No one was at the entrance station, no iron ranger, so our visit was free.

Historic Pudding Creek Bridge located just north of Morro Bay

This morning we headed south on CA 1. We stopped at the Cabrillo Light Station Museum, walked part of the 3/4 mile path with the mutzos down towards the light house but never saw it as a grove of trees hides it from view. The light has been a federal navigation aid since 1909.

The lighthouse spins a third order Fresnel (pronounced Fruh-nel) lens consisting of four panels containing 90 prisms, weighing 6800 pounds. It was originally lit by kerosene lamp and turned by a clockwork mechanism. The clockworks was replaced with an electric motor, the lamp is now electric. Under ideal atmospheric conditions the focused beam created by the fresnel lens can be seen as far off as the horizon.

Russian Gulch Bridge

We stop at Russian Gulch State Park. The camp sites are way too small for our rig so we’ll not be camping here. Again, no one at the entrance station so we got to tour the park for gratis.


A couple of miles south is the town of Mendocino. It’s a lovely little town of 900 souls that sits on a headland overlooking the blue Pacific. It is heavily influenced by the San Francisco Bay folks as it is one of their favorite destinations. It is also an extremely popular artist colony. The town was founded in 1852 as a logging community, the loggers primarily early settlers from New England as was true of many older Northern California logging towns. Portuguese fishermen also settled in the area as did immigrants from China.

Most of the town was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Since 1987 Mendocina has been the site of the Mendocino Music Festival which is held in the Mendocino Headlands State Park. The area is in severe drought with business owners having their drinking water trucked in, the town’s wells are almost dry.

The town was not always thriving. The town almost dried up in 1940, the population shrinking. The revitalization of the town began in the late 1950’s with the founding of the Mendocino Art Center by artist Bill Zacha. It also fell on hard times during the height of COVID with many shop owners going out of business. The town’s businesses seem to be doing much better now.

So that wraps up our visit to Fort Bragg. Tomorrow we head north towards Eureka, CA. See you then!

Signs we’ve not seen in the Midwestthe second one is unwritten thereAll are welcome and Midwesterners will protect you

I wonder how they ensure people’s safety…..

Fort Bragg, CA

Tuesday August 2, 2022

Noyo Harbor

Founded 1857 as a military garrison named for Captain Braxton Bragg (serving in the Mexican-American War, later in The Confederate Army during the Civil War. Native Americans originally occupied the land, most belonging to the Pomo Tribe.

The garrison was abandoned in 1864. The 25000 acre Mendocino Indian Reservation was created in 1855, and discontinued in 1866 and the land was opened for settlement three years later. By 1873, Fort Bragg had an established lumber port at Noyo. The Weller house is the oldest existing house in the city circa 1886.

We are staying at the Pomo RV Park and Campground just south of downtown Fort Bragg for a few days. We plan on visiting the local sights and just plain relaxing in the cool weather. It’s heavenly!

Our site at Pomo RV Park and Campground

The Union Lumber Company was incorporated in 1891. Transporting logs by rail was difficult so a tunnel was built using experienced Chinese tunnel builders from San Francisco who settled in Fort Bragg and Mendocino seven miles to the south. 1906 earthquake resulted in a fire that threatened the saw mill and city. All brick buildings were damaged with only two not destroyed completely. Houses were knocked off of their foundations and a major fire ensued. After the quake most of downtown was reconstructed in 12 months. Ironically, the quake brought prosperity as the mills furnished lumber to rebuild San Francisco and the lumber ships returning to Fort Bragg used bricks as ballast which helped rebuild Fort Bragg. The rail line to Willits was completed in 1912 bringing tourists to town.

The Skunk Railroad

Fort Bragg (6983 souls) was not only a lumber town but a major commercial fishing port. Fish from the port was well know for quality, with distribution to major metropolitan markets.

The Union Lumber Company was purchased in 1969 by Boise Cascade and John Quincy and it became the Georgia Pacific Lumber Company in 1973. The mill was shut down in 2002 as a nonperforming asset. The mill site was sold in 2017 and is currently undergoing redevelopment, including removal of toxic waste.

Fort Bragg’s weather is mild, receiving an average of 40 inches of precipitation annually. Yet the wettest rain year was 1997-1998 with over 79 inches and the driest being 1976/1977 with less than 15 inches. Due to Pacific Ocean influence the sky is usually cloudy with fog on occasion, making for cool days.

Glass beach is a place known for its colorful glass pieces ground smooth by the action of the ocean. You may ask how did so much glass get on the beach to warrant the name? Ironically, the locals used that beach as a dump dropping trash, bottles, etc. into the ocean there. Most evidence of this questionable habit is gone except for the smoothly ground glass pieces. Also in town attracting tourists is the California Western Railroad, aka, the Skunk Train its nickname by old timers deriving from the fact that “You could smell it coming before you could see it”. Today the Skunk is a great tourist attraction, transporting gleeful passengers through beautiful forest as far as Willits. Also offered are pedal cars fashioned after side cars for the adventurous soul.

We are here for another day of adventure. Stay tuned!

Our Extended Travel Adventure for 2022


Our adventure for 2022 starts off leaving our home in Reno Nevada on Sunday, July 31. Heading west on I-80 we soon climb the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Range. We chose to leave the interstate as soon as practical and take country roads as much as possible. After cresting Donner Summit, elevation 7239′ we drop down on the western slope of these majestic mountains. We exit at CA 20 and head towards Nevada City and Grass Valley, CA.

Nevada City

Nevada City (3140 souls) and Grass Valley (12,000 souls) are old gold mining towns, established during the 1849 gold rush days. Nevada City was California’s most important mining town. Grass Valley had three long lasting mines spanning the years 1868 until WWII. The Empire and the North Star Mines were two of California’s richest. Both towns retain the flavor of their rich past.

Grass Valley

We have been to both towns several times so we continue on CA 20. Our first day’s destination is Yuba Sutter Fairground in Yuba City, a drive of 120 miles. We continue down to lower elevations where pine forests transition to oak and grass country. As we reach the Sacramento Valley floor we are greeted by vast farmland, with farmers growing rice and row crops. We reach Marysville (12,000 souls) and the seat of Yuba County, then cross the Yuba River and immediately enter Yuba City (70,117 souls), the seat of Sutter County. Yuba, by the way, is a variant spelling of the Spanish word uva (grape) as wild grapes were known to grow by the river.

We have campground to ourselves

Our first evening is spent at the Sutter Yuba Fairground campground. As luck would have it we are the only paying campers with about a half dozen host trailers set a few hundred yards away. The campground only offers power at each site. We park on grass under a large tree which offer us some shade. The day is overcast which takes a lot of the heat of summer out of the air. The fairgrounds are lovely and we have them all to ourselves.

Art at the Fairgrounds
Ripening Peaches

The only problem we ran into was how to enter the fairgrounds. Being a Sunday there was no one in the office, no one we could call, so we took a sophisticated guess and found our way. As we are settling in a campground host drove up and asked if we had reservations. Of course! Our stay at the fairgrounds was lovely and we’d do it again!

Monday morning we depart fairly late for us figuring our travel distance of 163 miles won’t hardly take any time at all. Packing up took no time at all and we depart at approximately 0915 hours again joining CA 20 for our trip to the coast.

We transverse the Sacramento valley where at the very western edge we stop at a fruit stand to purchase very fresh cherries, plumes and even a bag of pistachios. The road then takes us into the Inner Coast Range that runs north/south..

Clear Lake, CA

The road is fairly narrow winding through canyons, then over a summit into the next canyon, then onto the shoulder of a mountain. We pass the very large Clear Lake, a natural fresh water lake in Lake County, again following the winding 35 mph CA 20. It is the largest natural fresh water lake wholly within California with a surface area of 68 square miles and measures 8 by 19 miles. At 2.5 million years it is the oldest lake in North America. Being a warm water lake large populations of bass, crappie, bluegill, carp and catfish flourish.

Lake Level is way down!

No Water at the Boat Ramp!
Only a puddle at boat dock

We finally pass the lake along with its 35 mph speed limit only to come upon a Native American Rancheria- speed limit 40 mph. Gads, we’ll never get to Fort Bragg at this rate! We finally arrive where US 101 and CA 20 converge and have a four lane highway with posted speed limit of 65 mph. We cruise at the Kali-Fornia max for vehicle towing- 55 mph, a whole 14 miles to Willits (5000 souls) where again we head west on a two lane, winding CA20 towards Fort Bragg.

Willits is known as the Gateway to the Redwoods. An arch stands at the center of town which features the slogan “Gateway to the Redwoods”. The arch is the repurposed version of the Reno Arch. The town has an interesting past. A feud between the Frost family (Confederacy supporters) and the Coates family (Union supporters) during the Civil War developed into a brawl, then a shootout leaving 3 members of the Coates family dead and 1 member of the Frost family dead. An interesting side is the racehorse Seabiscuit trained, lived out his retirement and is buried a few miles south of the city. And then there was the Triple Masonic Lynching of 1879. More recently heavy metal pollution created by a metal plating plant and resulting lawsuit and cleanup was spearheaded by none other than Erin Brokovich. Water wells were treated and damages paid to those affected.

CA 20 west of Willits takes us into the coastal redwood forest. It’s a beautiful drive but taxing for all of us. The road snakes along the shoulders of mountains and hills and is never straight until near the ocean. I’m tired of cranking the steering wheel and Jil is tired from just watching me! Speed limit is 55 mph but I very seldom approach 35 mph in the motorhome as a 25 mph bend in the road is just a few hundred yards ahead. But I tell you, the drive is very beautiful!

We finally reach the ocean, drive a mile or two along the coast to Pomo RV Park and Campground. We’ll be here for a few days of R&R and exploration. Until next time!

The Buster and Mike
Buster is done!

Visiting Old Friends and Old Haunts

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!

Is this beautiful??? Or What?

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.

US 97 Bridge at Biggs Junction

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……..

Volcanic Peaks west of Bend

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.

Little Church near Silver Lake, OR

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.

Approaching Pailsey, OR

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.

Sunrise- Likely Place Golf and RV Resort

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!

A City So Nice They Named It Twice!

Sunday September 26 through Friday October 1, 2021

Taking the long cut to Walla Walla only adds a few miles but adds many new places to visit so the long cut it is! We head south on US 95 towards Moscow Idaho (23,800 souls) transitioning from green mountain forests to golden rolling hills- the Palouse. No one knows how Moscow got its name. Conjecture says it was named for a Russian dude’s home town who had established a trading post here.

Moscow is the home of the University of Idaho, the state’s land-grant institution and primary research university. The city also serves as an agricultural and commercial hub for the Palouse region. Miners and farmers started arriving in the area after the Civil War with the first permanent settlers coming to Moscow in 1871.

A scant six miles to the west is Pullman Washington (34,000 souls) and Washington State University. The town was incorporated in 1888. Like the University of Idaho, Washington State was established as land-grant school back in 1891 and opened in 1892. Of note a very young Jil, like barely able to remember young, and her family lived in Pullman for a couple of years while her Dad taught at the university.

Pullman is noted as a vastly fertile agricultural area known for its many miles of rolling hills (The Palouse) and the production of wheat and legumes.

Heading towards Walla Walla we come to Colfax, WA (2800 souls). It is situated amidst wheat-covered hills in a valley at the confluence of the north and south forks of the Palouse River. The town started as a lumber town back in 1871 with the establishment of a sawmill. The area is geologically interesting, lying in the midst of the fertile Palouse country  in the middle of the Columbia River Plateau.

Downtown Colfax, WA

Walking along the main street of Colfax we spot a monument of sorts. A couple of locals tell us that its the Codger Pole, continuing to explain that back in 1938 a high school football game was played in cold winter weather on a frozen field. One of the players decided that he would get both teams together to replay the game some day. And that they did- 50 years later! The Codger Pole commemorates all the players who by then were in their 70’s.

Quote from the memorial plaque-“Master Carver Johnathan Labenne’s superb talent and whimsy captured the warmth, fun and love Colfax and St. John shared while we Codgers cavorted about the field in school colors wearing our numbers from a half-century ago. The ghosts of our youth revealed glimpses of gridiron briliance. Unfortunately brief and few but even so that glorious afternoon of fun gave us guys a chance to fulfill that dream every seventy year old kid secretly hangs onto- playing one more game. And how many old rascals ever get to do that?”

We head southeast out of Colfax on very rural country roads, Washington Hwy 127 comes to mind, mostly following canyons through palouse hillsides and canyons. The wheat fields have been harvested as evidenced by the yellow stubble left behind by farmer’s combines. The road is pretty rough and relatively slow going. Eventually we arrive in Walla Walla and settle down in the RV Park Four Seasons.

Marcus and Narcissa Whitman arrived here in 1836 and established a mission in an unsuccessful attempt to convert the the Walla Walla tribe to Christianity. Following a disease epidemic both were killed in 1847 by the Cayuse who thought that the missionaries were poisoning the native peoples. Whitman College is named in their honor. The Catholics attempted to establish a Diocese but fled after hearing of the Whitman’s plight. Fort Walla Walla was established by the Hudson’s Bay Company Fort Nez Perce fur trading post. Several of the original buildings still exist. The US Army extablished its own Fort Walla Walla in 1856. The city was incorporated in 1862. After a gold rush the community experienced rapid growth as an agricultural area. The Baker Boyer Bank was founded in Walla Walla, the oldest bank in Washington State.

RV Park Four Seasons grounds and menagerie

The RV park is immaculate but management is maniacal in enforcing frivolous rules. I guess like most rules they are made from one bad experience. The lady in the office meets us outside the office door so we don’t contaminate it with whatever. We’ve not been in states that enforce mask wearing until we arrived in Washington and that’s what she’s wearing when she greets us- outside in the open air. But like I said, the park is immaculate!

We planned on spending two nights in Walla Walla, aka, “The City So Nice They Named It Twice”, with a day trip to town. Downtown is sorta unique in that the main street is not straight but curves so it gives it a unique look to the buildings that line it. We’ve heard that the area is big on wineries but had no idea that fully one half of the storefronts would house wineries and tasting rooms.

Wine tasting is not our cup of tea but the business district is a nice, neat, clean place to visit. After visiting so many states that don’t require masks this state has kinda gone nuts on their use. Can’t wait ’til we get to Oregon where mask wearing is required out of doors……..

The morning we end our visit our right rear tires go over a low curb as we leave the RV park and all hell breaks loose. Gosh, the curb wasn’t that high. As we proceed it feels like the rig no longer has springs as it is riding really, really hard. We stop after a half mile or so in a parking lot, Mike inspects the undercarriage and determines one of the air springs has broken. Crap! We’re not going anywhere anytime soon. A call is made to the only heavy truck repair shop listed for Walla Walla, a mobile mechanic is dispatched, arrives and confirms the broken air spring.

He OK’s a limp back to the RV park and management has room for us. Mountain Hi Truck Repair goes on the hunt for a replacement air spring which is not unlike a big rubber air bag. Considering the thousands of Freightliner chassis like ours that are on the road they should be easy to find but that’s not the case. The company finally finds one in Pendleton, OR, at a Peterbilt dealer no less, and has it delivered the next day.

Fort Walla Walla

OK, we have to cool our heels for a while so we head over to Fort Walla Walla and the municipal park. Fort Walla Walla was established in 1856. The soldiers from the fort were involved in several battles with hostile Indians. Most notable was the Battle of White Bird Canyon during the Nez Perce War where 30 soldiers were killed. The soldiers from that battle and others are buried the fort’s cemetery. The fort was closed then reopened to train WWI soldiers in the art of field artillery. The fort was turned over to the VA in 1921. Fifteen original buildings remain from the military era. Today the complex contains a park, a museum, and a VA medical center. The park is really nice and has a couple of very large dog parks within it.

The repair of our RV takes less than 1/2 hour. Its too late to travel so we spend a total of four nights in Walla Walla. We are thankful that management at Mountain Hi realized the plight a couple of travelers were in and went above and beyond to find the part and get us back on the road as soon as possible. It actually took four times longer to find the air spring than to install it. So thanks again Mountain Hi and a big thanks to Jeff in the office who hunted down the part and Steve for his efficient diagnosis and repair job.

So after a two day delay we resume our trip. Hopefully our extended RV warranty will come through and pay for the repair without too long a delay.

A Hop, Skip and a Jump to Idaho

Wednesday, September 22 through Sunday, September 26, 2021

When we left Butte we headed west of I-90 stopping in Deer Lodge Montana. Why Deer Lodge? To visit the old Montana State Prison, of course! The folks in the gift shop/admissions booth even invited Ollie to take a tour of the the old prison with us.

The “Old Prison” was established 1871 as the Montana Territorial prison until statehood in 1889, then closed its doors in 1979 as the state prison. We found the old prison unlike that of the old Wyoming Prison in that the prisoners had more creature comforts.

Old Montana Prison Grounds

They had access to a movie theater, a cantina out on the exercise yard and a fine arts theater built for them by Willam A. Clark, one of the Copper Kings of Butte fame. The prison was quite crowded which lead to a prison riot in 1959. The riot was quelched by the National Guard which used WWII bazookas to get the job done.

Interesting what one finds inside an old prison

Just a sample of the hundreds of vehicles in Auto Museum

The Deer Lodge Pizza joint and a 1909 mail order Sears and Roebuck carriage house

We are quite surprised that the price of admission includes an auto museum. Who would have thunk a prison would have a quite extensive museum featuring almost every model year of the Ford Model A all the way up to the muscle cars of the 1960’s. Hundreds of beautifully restored and unrestored cars! Mike was in heaven browsing all that hardware.