Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Sue and Mo at Harris Beach
Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 3 Highway 31 and Thompson Reservoir

After a couple of morning swims for Abby, we left Farewell Bend by 10:30 AM and traveled south on I-84 to HWY 20 heading west and on to HWY 395 South. Found the road near milepost 37 leading to Christmas Valley that I had noted the other day, found gas for 2.75 and then traveled HWY 31 (part of the Oregon Outback National Scenic Byway) south and west to Silver Lake.

USFS road 28 south led to Thompson Reservoir, where I spent a single night of relaxation. There is a loop road that goes to the campground at Thompson Reservoir and the more developed East Lake Campground. The route I took to Thompson was rough, with expansion strips in the pavement that were very rough for the MoHo.

The next morning I left the area using the southern portion of the loop passing East Lake Campground to hook back up to HWY 31. It was a much better road for the motorhome. Along the Outback Scenic Byway HWY 31 I drove through the Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, with lovely views of the Cascades in the west and wildflowers in the marsh.

The last leg home was via HWY 31 and HWY 97. For the time being, this adventure satisfied my need for a road trip.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 2 Dog days of summer

It is 7:30 in the morning and the temperature outside is about 83 degrees, probably as hot as it ever gets at my home, so I think to myself, "why am I here?" We awoke to bright sunlight and 77 degrees at 5:30 AM.  But the answer is easy, I needed a road trip.  I often need road trips, which is why I love having the MoHo!  Combining it with an opportunity to visit old time friends was a great reason to get out and on the road.
This day was spent relaxing, swimming, and walking, wtih three swimming sessions for Abby to keep cool.  I  finished one book and started another and we took one walk.  Mosquitoes are out here in the evenings, but not as much during the day, and there are nice breezes in the mornings.  Farewell Bend State Park is very well maintained with workers out and about, watering, trimming, and cruising around checking things.  The spaces are large and separated by nice hedges to maintain privacy.  The older part of the park has large trees, but only 20 amp power; the newer part with higher amps required for the AC doesn't have the shade.  At this time of year, the amps were more important than the shade, for sure.  Still, I had to be careful not to use too many appliances at once so the breakers wouldn't get tripped when the AC was running. Catfish loop has less privacy but does have 30 amp power.

I give people credit who tent camp and pitch a tent for just one night.  Too much packing and unpacking for me at this stage in my life. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day 1 Visiting old friends

With Sue busy finishing her work in California, I (Mo) decided to travel to Eastern Oregon and Idaho to visit old time friends from my pre-college days living in Columbia City, Oregon.  Abby is a great travel companion, and at 6am we left home and headed east via HWY 140 to 395N at Lakeview.  Lake Abert is a saline lake on the west side of the highway and it was surprisingly full for this time of year.  I found a side road off 395 that took off toward Christmas Valley to the west near milepost 36, and thought that it might be an interesting way to go back home on my return trip.  Although the weather was pleasant when I left home, by the time I was east of Drinkwater Pass on highway 20 things started to heat up.  It was 102 degrees when I reached Fruitdale, ID in the afternoon.

As I mentioned previously, Abby is a great travel companion, but her ability to follow the maps and read directions while I drive isn't all that great.  Usually when Sue and I are together, one of us can navigate while the other one drives.  This time, going through Ontario, I got lost since I was having trouble reading the directions that I received from my friends while driving the motorhome.  When I left home, gas was 2.65 and I filled up in Fruitdale at 2.76 per gallon.  Certainly not anywhere as bad as things were a year ago for gas prices.
The late afternoon visit with my friends was delightful, catching up on old times and laughing.  I had a reservation for the evening at Farewell Bend State Park, about 25 miles north on I-84.  The campground wasn't full, however, possibly because of the 102 degree weather!  I set up camp and turned on the AC and all was fine.  Abby went for a swim in the Snake River so she was happy.  One more time, she was like a kid in the water, refusing to come out because she was having so much fun.  I had to actually pretend to leave and get completely out of sight before she would reluctantly follow.
After her swim, we walked around the campground and I spent some time reading, had a simple sandwich for supper, with fresh lettuce from my friend's garden, and built a campfire as the sun went down.  Of course, in the heat I really didn't need it to keep warm, but I love the ambience of the fire when I am out camping.  I set the AC for 77 degrees and it went on and off repeatedly as the rig would heat up even during the night. All in all a good day, especially with the convenience of air conditioning and available electricity.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Day 6 Biking Diamond Lake

The John Dellenback trail around Diamond Lake is about 12 miles of paved, easy trail that circles the lake with no more than an 8 percent grade. We tried biking this trail over Memorial Day, but it was still snowed in too deeply to complete the ride. This time we left from the southern end of the lake, near the south boat launch and rode west to the Theilsen View campground, where we were stopped by snow in the spring.

It was a great ride, with Abby enjoying the small lakes for a cooling swim. We had her on the leash at the beginning of the ride, but with very few people on the trail, decided that she could run on her own. Abby is the kind of dog that doesn't want to stray any distance from her mother, Mo, so we don't have to worry about her running off. Even the tempting squirrel or two will only take her for a moment and she is right back. If we saw people coming, Mo would call her to her side and she would wait patiently for them to pass.

When we left, the skies were clear and it was warm with lots of mosquitos. Bring LOTS of mosquito dope because they are thick here, especially on the southern end of the trail. If you keep moving, most of the time they won't catch you, but stop for just a moment and they are everywhere.

On the way back we heard thunder and the clouds started forming over Mt Theilsen. To our delight, the great thunderstorm and downpour waited until we were conveniently loading up the bikes and climbing back into the protection of the MoHo, where the kitties were patiently waiting for us again. Abby had a great run, some great swims, and it was a good way to end the week. Home to Rocky Point via HWY 138 down to HWY 97 was much faster than the way we went previously and we were home from Diamond Lake in less than 2 hours.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Day 5 Thundering Waters on the North Umpqua

North Umpqua Waterfalls Photos

There are 24 waterfalls listed on the Umpqua National Forest and the Roseburg District of the Bureau of Land Management. We planned this day to see as many as we could along the stretch of the Umpqua Scenic Highway near our camp. I was impressed with the information published by the FS and BLM available at the campgrounds, and they made our day hunting down waterfalls a delight. All are downloadable in PDF format as well. (Umpqua National Forest) I especialy enjoyed the diagrams and descriptions of the different kinds of waterfalls, and how they are formed.

Traveling east on HWY 138 almost to Diamond Lake, the first waterfall we saw was Clearwater Falls. Just a short walk from the parking lot, the falls rumbles and tumbles over dark green moss covered stones. The rhododendrons were still blooming and the mist was cool and refreshing. Hiking to the top of the falls revealed a calm quiet pool above where Abby could swim but the water was very cold.

Whitehorse Falls was also right near the road and an easy walk from the view point parking lot. It is called Deadhorse falls on the quad sheet, so I am not sure about the name change, but that happens often lately, especially in areas that are significant to local tribes.

At milepost 60.5 is the trailhead to Watson Falls, the highest in southwest Oregon. The half mile hike is a well maintained trail with switchbacks and some steep areas, but still quite moderate. The fall itself it tall, thin at this time of year, and delicate, quite lovely. Again, the surrounding forest was filled with blooming rhododendrons. We met a couple from Colorado, including a very elderly lady who hiked the entire trail with her cane. She was very determined and we were very impressed. What a trooper. Her husband said that on their trip to Washington she wanted to see only two things, Crater Lake and Tokeete Falls. They told us that Tokeete Falls was closed due to winter damage, so they hiked this one instead. The winter damage was from the winter of 2007, not even last year, but the forest hasn't had the money to repair the trail so it is now inaccessible. Tokeete Falls is supposed to be the most impressive and beautiful fall on the tour. I hope to see it someday.

We drove downriver to the Steamboat Creek turn and then up 5 miles or so to Steamboat Falls. Another fall that is right at the road in the campground, and this one was full of people having fun and swimming, as well as playing in the rushing water. Little Falls, farther down along Steamboat Creek was busy as well, with several carloads of young people at the wide place in the road overlooking the falls. Neither of them seemed particularly impressive, but it did look like it would be fun to play in if you didn't mind being there with all those people.

Time for lunch and a stop in to the camp to check on the cats, make sure the fantastic fan was doing it's thing, and that the batteries were still well charged, and have some lunch. Even with the 90 plus degree temperatures, the MoHo was cool inside and the kitties were comfortable. Mo set up the solar panel, and even in the shade it kept things charged enough that we never ran out of power while using the fan all day.

We headed west to the Susan Creek Falls trailhead, where there were several cars parked for the 1 mile hike to the falls. It seems this is a particularly popular hike, with families and kids and people of all sorts coming and going. We noticed signs saying to be watchful of your valuables so Mo made sure her wallet was in her pocket and not in the car. The hike was great, actually made for wheelchair access, so broad and wide and protected from the poison oak. Abby enjoyed it.

Finally, late in the afternoon, with the sun hidden behind the canyon walls, we hiked up Fern Creek to the falls. Another mile or so to these lovely falls, through some very narrow rock crevasses, past pools and boulders. The late afternoon light made the old growth forest even more mysterious and the falls were misty and beautiful. I especially enjoyed the approach to the falls, where some of the water can be seen through the trees, the sounds get stronger, and then suddenly there they are. It seemed later than it was in the dark canyon, and it was cool and dim and a wonderful place to be on a hot day.

Once back to the car, we realized that it really wasn't that late, but were still glad to be headed back to camp. We only hiked a total of 5 miles or so, but were still tired and ready to settle in for the evening. Someday I hope to see Tokeete falls, and to drive the other roads to find the rest of the falls that are in the Thundering Waters brochure.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Day 4 Rogue-Umpqua Highway and Susan Creek Campground

We woke up Wednesday morning to fog and clouds on the coast, making it perfect for our return trip to the warmer side. The drive back east along HWY 42 was uneventful except for deer on the highway. I still imagine that she was just stunned, and ran off into the woods. I felt bad for the driver of the little honda who tried to help her. Just a reminder again that even in broad daylight, wild animals are everywhere on these roads and you need to be wary. The drive from Coos Bay to Roseburg is only about 2.5 hours and is beautiful.

Arriving in Roseburg around mid-day, suddenly the business and traffic of I-5 again assaulted us, but taking a small side road into town and out again on the North Umpqua Highway was the perfect detour. Roseburg itself seems a little worse for wear, with the recession obvious with many closed businesses and a tattered appearance in the downtown portion. Sorry, Roseburg, I know you are trying.

Up the highway through Glide on to what is called Colliding Rivers and the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway truly begins. Temperatures were perfect, warmer than the coast by 20 degrees at least, and clear skies. Campground choices on the map looked plentiful, and Mo's AAA book only listed a few of them. One especially seemed to call us so we set Susan Creek Campground as our destination. Arriving at the campground, we found it very nearly full, with just two sites open, one that appeared to have been very recently vacated. Since it was the Thursday right before the July 4th weekend, we took it without question.

Fresh water nearby but no hookups at this BLM campground, but a nice wide site, protected by huge trees and shrubs all around us, and a level paved parking area. Right next to our site was a short trail, 100 yards or so, to the North Umpqua River and a memorial bench perfect for watching the swift, deep green water.

One of the things I love most about the North Umpqua is the incredible variety of its flow. It is a wild and scenic river for most of its length, with class 5 rapids. But in some areas it is wide and lazy, with deep green pools, big boulders for sunning, and swimming holes. Other areas are perfect for tubing with riffles and class 2 rapids. The river guide at the website I linked to above gives a stretch by stretch description of the river, where the big rapids are, where it is necessary to portage, and where an inner tube is still safe. I saw many people sunning on the rocks, swimming in the holes, and a few inner tubing some of the lesser ripples. Something wonderful about a green sunny 80 plus degree day in Oregon.

The only drawback about this area is the poison oak. It is everywhere, thick, lush and green. It's difficult to walk a dog because the leaves hang out in the trails. If you are susceptible to poison oak as I am, it's not much fun. We took Abby on a lot of walks, but sadly had to leave her home for a couple of them.

We set up camp, then decided to drive upriver a bit to check out other campgrounds. There were actually some open sites here and there, but in one riverside camp an strange old gentleman waved us down and warned us about robberies and wild parties that happen in some of those campgrounds. Susan Creek was populated and had two camp hosts. It seems that the sites with camp hosts are more safe, so we were glad that we were there. After checking out all the other campgrounds, it was also apparent that Susan Creek had the biggest trees, and the nicest understory plants. Maybe not as wild, but certainly more beautiful than any of the others. We were happy to be there.

Had a great evening, playing cards and dominos, great supper and campfire, and time with the kitties outside which they always enjoy. Jeremy seems to like it better then Teddy, who wants to go back inside fairly quickly. Looking forward to sleeping in the forest tonight and planning a day of hiking waterfalls tomorrow. Perfect