Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

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

Sunday, October 27, 2013

MoHo upgrade and Saving the blog

Home in Rocky Point, Oregon.  Clear and sunny and 37 Degrees F

New Dinette_054 It is a bit amazing to me that after almost six years traveling in the MoHo, we would finally realize that the beautiful leather sofabed was just not to our liking.  When we first bought the rig, it looked oh so luxurious.  We learned how to make down the comfy queen size bed on the first day, and never have used it in the entire six years we have traveled in the rig. 

The sofa was pretty comfortable, or so it seemed, but with use we discovered that the pedestal table was a pain to set up every time we opened the slide, and that our little wooden tables, nice as they are, were susceptible to doggy coffee spills, and didn’t work all that well for computing.  We also discovered that the seat was much too wide for either of us on the ends, and the only really comfortable place to sit was in the middle…for one. 

Looks comfy, but a bit awkward for two to eat, play cards, have company, and the view is the wrong direction Three people lining up on a sofa doesn’t make for good conversation, either, so we would bring in the folding chairs for company.  It all worked just fine until we saw more and more rigs with those big curved dinettes, including Mo’s brother’s Winnebago, and we finally decided to bite the bullet and try to get one.  Calling around, we first discovered that our slide was just two inches too narrow for the standard curved booth, and we also worried about the desire to maybe make out a bed for one reason or another.  The $5,000 price tag helped to nix the idea as well.

Mo started cruising the internet, and found a really nice little FlexSteel dinette booth, with sides that made into a single bed if needed.  A call to Countryside Interiors in Junction City confirmed the unit would fit, and they would install it.  There were some measurements taken, the valance covers were too long, but that was an easy fix according to Steve, the owner of Countryside.  After seven weeks, our unit arrived and we headed over the mountain to spend the night in Eugene before the big installation day.

yes, there was cat hair behind the sofa With a four hour installation time estimated, I have to say they did a great job in just under five hours.  Josh was incredibly professional, doing good solid clean work, and paid attention to all the little details that would make the unit perfect.  Countryside Interiors was a great place to have the work done, and we appreciated the good service.

I do have to include a bit of a rub, however.  When we ordered the dinette, we were told they would sell our sofa on consignment so we could recoup some of the expense of the new one.  Our sofa was in excellent condition, and the bed as I said, had never been used.  But when the whole job was said and done, and I requested information on the consignment, we were told the sofa was no good, that they couldn’t sell it, that it was basically worthless, and she asked me kindly, “Would you like a donation slip for Habitat for Humanity?”

Josh Fishy, fishy, fishy!!  Their used furniture room was full of units not as nice as ours, and while we were waiting for the installation to be completed, a dealer came in to look at their used inventory.  I did ask if I could trade in the sofa on one of their nice Euro Chairs (a recliner on my wish list) and she said again, “No, we don’t do trades”.  I did plan to buy that chair from them eventually, but the more I think about it, I do think they have enough of our money.  The price was reasonable but definitely a high price for a piece of furniture, but maybe their profit margin for something like FlexSteel isn’t very good and they need to make more money selling the used pieces.  Either way, I will not go back to buy my recliner from them. 

As long as you know about the consignment part, it is a great place to have work done.  They were on time, professional, and very careful and thorough.  Don’t hesitate to use them for upgrades, just don’t expect any trade in for your current stuff, unless it has never been used at all.  That was her excuse, at least.  We had sat on the sofa and there was a rub (not scratch, just a dirt spot) on the arm next to the slide wall.  Enough of that.

New Dinette_058The dinette is absolutely perfect for us.  We were able to use our existing table, although it is about 2 inches more narrow than I would like, but the wood is so nice we hated to give it up.  The best part is that the chairs are incredibly comfortable, and wide enough for four people to sit for a meal, and with the wall end arms, perfect for lounging for joint television viewing.  Even more perfect, when we are sitting at the table, we now have a view directly outside, rather than staring at the kitchen wall in front of us from the sofa.  I can type on the computer and we can play dominos again and play a hand of cards without craning our necks sideways and trying to keep our hands hidden.  The bed flips out with just a touch and is also really comfortable.  There are even two nice drawers in the base of the seats.  Somehow, it seems that we have much more room inside the rig, even when the slide is closed.  (Notice that all these photos of the new dinette are with the closed slide)

On to the next subject: Saving the Blog. 

dinner for four at the cottage in the MoHo I do reasonably regular backups of the blog, so that if something happened to the google/blogger servers, I would have a hard copy of the code that I could then use to import into another platform if is wanted.  The photos are also linked, even though blog photos are actually stored on the google server as well.  Hopefully Google won’t die.  But things change, life changes.  Sometimes technology changes.  At the moment I am trying to convert VHS video to DVD and then trying to figure out how to edit the footage.  (Still no progress on that one, but I am working on it)

New Dinette_050Who is to say that sometime in the future there would be another tech change that would make our blogs completely obsolete? Or inaccessible?  We all work so hard on them, and for me it is my journal, the record of my life that is becoming more and more important as the memory card of my brain fills up and overloads.  Voila!  Blog2Print.  Others have talked about doing this, and it has been on the list for a bit of time now, but I couldn’t decide exactly how to go about it.  Of course it isn’t cheap, so I originally thought that maybe I would just do a book on the Alaska Trip, or the Covered Bridges of Oregon, but then I would miss all the rest.

New Dinette_053  Instead, I decided to do a year at a time, starting with the most recent completed year, 2012.  The book arrived yesterday, and I have to say that I really love it.  I chose to let Blog2print arrange photos at the medium size rather than trying to keep everything exactly as I had it on the blog.  After browsing the entire 277 pages of text and photos, I am completely happy with the book.  My middle daughter, Deanna, is the one who kept saying, “Mom, you need to get all this in a book"!”  OK, Deanna, the book is done! My next book will be 2013 when it is completed, and then I’ll have to save up to do a year at a time back to the beginning.  Sure is a lot easier to read than my own handwritten journals. 

One last note here.  My new friend John Parsons asked me to put a FaceBook post that I wrote awhile back on the blog.  He said he wanted to be able to find it again, and that is really hard to do with FaceBook!  Everything there just rolls by so quickly, and I can NEVER find old stuff in there.  So, John, here you go.


Me - i rode that bike everywhere I remember chocolate colored water thick with sticks and rocks hurtling down the wash behind our house during the monsoon floods.      Leaping with a thrill from huge boulder to huge boulder they used as fill to try to stem the flow, which for me was a magic wilderness of danger and roaring water.      I remember the soft bellies of horny toads when you caught them, the sharp prick of stickers in your feet from goatheads...who ever wore shoes?          the smell of dust when the first drops of rain hit after all those dry months.      How incredibly green the San Gabriel Mountains looked in April with the tall candles of yucca backlit against a setting sun. The muted happy sound of kids voices on the playground as I lay on my back watching sky so blue it looked very nearly black.      The milky way and pungent pines of Mt. Baldy on a summer night of camping.      I remember the sweet sad feeling of yearning when the winds blew and the smog vanished leaving behind air that was so sharp and clear that you could actually see the sparkles floating around it in...dreaming of a magic place to live where the air was like that all the time. climbing to the top of the hill in Sierra Madre Canyon, among the prickly pear and agave and morning glory and old live oaks to the digger pine that was high enough to let me see Catalina.      I remember how golden a warm apricot tastes when picked from your hiding place in the tree, and how bitter a surprise an unripe olive can be. ...Childhood in LA in the 50's.... .....Warm as an apricot and bitter as an uncured olive.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Rocky Point October

Sunny!  Clear!  Crisp! at 66 glorious degrees F

crabapple I know, I know…it is supposed to be a blog about traveling, or the MoHo, or at least something a bit adventurous.  But I just couldn’t resist talking about October right here at home.  Looking back to past years, it seems to be a repeating pattern.  October is probably the most glorious month of the year, at least when it doesn’t snow.

The leaves on the aspens are at their high point.  I have to take photos every year, and it seems as though I keep going back to the same spots where the aspens have a particular shade of pinky orange, usually backlit since the sun is rather low in the sky.  Every year the colors are different, just a little bit here and there, but different enough that I have to take another picture of the same spot.

Fall color at RP-046 The colors in the yard are different each year as well.  There is lots of shade here and trying to get our hardwoods to flourish is a labor of love.  A few of the flowering cherries and crabapples have finally reached high enough to find the sun and are growing in leaps and bounds.  The maples are so gorgeous, but due to the shade, they never get really fat and thick the way they might in the sunshine.  But oh, how that brilliance lights up the forest!

crabapple My greenhouse didn’t do as well this year as some past.  The tomatoes are still trying to ripen, although I did get a few.  Seems as though the best crop this year was the bush beans, which fed us many meals of yummy fresh beans.  We even tried to grow corn.  Probably won’t do that one again.  Even though I had pollinated the silks, I guess I am not as good as the wind or bees, since the cute little ears had about 2 inches of filled out kernals and 6 inches of what looked like baby corn from a can.  ah well, the price of living in a forest in the Cascades…

Sallys quilt 2Now home for a bit of time, and no longer working even part time, I found myself with time to play with all that fabric I have been hoarding.  I had a couple of projects that were cut out last spring, when it was still raining, and some ideas rolling around in my head that would wake me up at 3 in the morning.  Fabric does that, kind of the way yarn used to do it to me.  It has nothing to do with the quilting exactly, but more to do with the color, the playing with color, moving it around, blending it, turning it into something different than the sum of the parts. Even though I mentioned the quilt in the last post, I didn’t have a photo of it, so here it is.

Fall color at RP-013 Mo likes fall too.  Her favorite thing is fixing stuff, and with the lawns slowing down she has less mowing time and more fixing time.  The Rocky Point place is getting all ready for winter.  Wood is in, cabin is winterized, our road has been re-graveled by Mo and her trusty tractor, the chains for the tractor are on and the blade is ready.

great Halloween find at Pier One Winter will be short this year for us.  Sometimes it snows in October, often in November, almost always in December.  Last year in December we were plowing and shoveling and blowing every single day for two weeks!  January it is getting a bit old, but for us this year it won’t matter at all, since we will be heading south.  Snowbirds?!  If we go south for three months in a motorhome does that make us snowbirds??

Today we are leaving for Junction City to have our new dinette booth and table installed and the sofa taken out.  Of course I’ll take photos of the process, and hopefully we will love it.

maple by the cabin During this month past, Time has given the blessing of long lazy visits with daughter Melody on her day off, having coffee and doing the girl talk thing.  It is the little things that matter somehow.  Time also allowed me to finally almost finish going through the last of Bel’s (my friend who passed away last February) stuff that was in storage and send it off to her sister. Time gave me a day of at long last starting a “retirement project” that has been on my list for the last few years, and one I never could seem to get started.

Bels birdhouses I am copying a gazillion old videos to DVD, with the hope that someday I will figure out how to edit the goofy footage to the really good parts.  In the mean time, I get to look at what I looked like when I was 51.  Geez?!  I wanna do that again….but I seem to remember at 51 I felt really old….Time.

What is it about fall that makes Time seem so precious.

And friends, old and new.  Blogging and Facebook are mixed blessings, I know, but I have to thank my new friend, John Parsons, for somehow finding me on Facebook, writing about truly amazing stuff about water, climate, fires, and the planet in general, and actually being the conduit that helped me to find another old friend from the 80s, Marti Bridges.  We worked together for SCS back then and had some truly great times together.  Halloween porch at Rocky POint

And then, of course, I received news from my friend Jeanne, (who anyone who reads this blog even a little bit should remember).  Jeanne had GREAT GREAT news and it seems that I will be traveling to Vermont to share it with her next fall.  Ahhhh  I can hardly wait till it is old news and Jeanne has told everyone and I can talk about it!  Jeanne, do you have a clue just how much self control it took for me to NOT put that photo on my blog??

Time and Friends and the Internet.  What more could I ask for.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

50 years gone, let’s celebrate at the coast

Currently in Rocky Point, Oregon mostly cloudy, breezy, and 57 degrees F, with a chance of thunderstorms with snow? predicted for tonight.

Sue and Maryruth at the waterfall along 199 So very glad that this forecast wasn’t around last week when we were on the Oregon coast, enjoying gorgeous sunny skies and nary a bit of fog.  When we planned this trip last spring, our comment to our California friends was all about how gorgeous, warm, and fog free the coast usually is in early fall.  We had no clue that a huge storm would blow through just a few days before our arrival, or that the predictions for continued rain and wind would be all wrong.

Long time blog readers have heard me mention Maryruth often, my lifetime friend.  This month we are celebrating 50 years of friendship.  It isn’t often that friends can stay close, much less even in touch with each other after so many years.  Especially since we didn’t grow up together, or go to school together.  Maryruth and I met over the neighborhood fence in 1963, both of us young mothers with babies.  Even though life circumstances took us thousands of miles apart many times, we never lost each other.  The friendship cemented in those early days has stood the test of time.

Congratulations to US! 

Maryruth and Gerald Maryruth and her husband Gerald don’t have an RV, and haven’t been tent camping in some time either, so a yurt at an Oregon State Park was the perfect solution.  Especially the great yurt at space C2 in Harris Beach State Park.  The site is huge and just a step back from the front ocean view sites, but also boasts a very long, paved RV pad with electricity, water, and cable TV.  The yurt also has electric, with a nice heater that came in handy on the cool coastal evenings. Good thing we had reservations, since the fall is high season for yurt camping on the Oregon coast.

Our friends drove from California to spend the night with us in Rocky Point before we caravanned over to the coast on a cool, cloudy afternoon.  Of course, we had to stop on the way in at the Chetco Seafood Company for the best fish and chips ever.  (Just proves that you can’t always tell  how good something might be by the reviews).

C2 at Harris Beach State Park Since they were driving their car and we didn’t have ours, we thought it might be a good idea to stop for supper with the MoHo so that Abby could wait ‘patiently’ while we ate rather than leaving her in the park.  The restaurant has a big parking lot adjacent to the harbor where she can bark away and won’t bother anyone.  Not such a great idea in a campground. 

By the time we settled into our comfy site the clouds were lifting and the skies promised good weather for the next few days instead of the gloomy forecast on weatherunderground.  Of course, as anyone knows, forecasting the weather on the Oregon coast is not an easy thing to do. 

time to relax at Harris Beach State Park On our second day at the park, we decided to just lay low and enjoy the beach walks, the trails, and sitting in the campsite reading and visiting.  We had a campfire every single night thanks to Mo packing up firewood in big bins that just barely fit inside the MoHo, but it was enough.  Tuesday evening we finally made it to O’Holleran’s Steak House, an old Brookings institution.  We had heard good things about their food and thought as many times as we have been to Brookings, we should at least say we had tried it out.

Dinner was ‘nice’, with the $31. price of the New York Steak special quite high for the ambience of the place.  One of the nicest amenities was a note on the menu that said if you want to share a meal, there would be an extra $3.50 charge, which would include an extra plate, an extra potato, and bread, and vegetable.  There was still only one salad for this price, but Mo and I shared our dinner and had more than enough salad, and since we can never eat a full restaurant meal, the sharing option was really nice.  Maryruth and Gerald shared their New York Steak with Blue Cheese special as well.  What a great idea.

The food was decent, the steak was good, but the restaurant itself doesn’t have the atmosphere that I associate with that kind of price.  Although I must say that the service was impeccable.  Glad we did it, won’t have to do it again.

Gerald at Harris Beach State Park That morning, as we walked around the park, I passed a great big 40 footer parked up on the front row.  Something looked very familiar to me, and I told Mo that I was sure I must know whoever was in that rig.  I kept looking and then thought…hmmmm….it is an Endeavor, now who do I know with an Endeavor?!  But wait….I thought Nina and Paul were off to the east side of the Sierras on 395 already?  Nope…I checked their website and lo and behold they were in Brookings.

It is Paul and Nina!! at Harris Beach State ParkiAfter a few years adjusting to this blogging thing, I have learned that it isn’t exactly cool to just bop up to someone’s rig and bang on the door, so I sent Nina a note inviting her over to our fire.  Within minutes she showed up with sweet Polly and we chatted up a storm.  Of course, Nina and I couldn’t stay off blogging and traveling subjects and Maryruth and Gerald thought the conversation wasn’t all that exciting!  Ha!  Guess it is like the old days when I would have soil scientist friends to dinner and the spouses would roll their eyes at all the work talk. 

Nina wanted to know about all the exciting things to do in Brookings since we come here so often.  I looked at Mo, and couldn’t think of a thing.  Geez.  We love it here, but most of the time that is because we can do nothing.  I wasn’t much good at local recommendations.  When Nina asked what to do I said, “Go to Bandon?”  Harris Beach is fabulous for just hanging in the campsite, relaxing, walking the beach and the trails and enjoying down time until the sunset shows up.Harris Beach State Park

I followed my own advice and on Wednesday Maryruth and Gerald and I took their car up to Bandon to explore all the wonders of that sweet little town that, unlike Brookings, actually DOES have a cute downtown old town area.  Mo thought it was nice to stay home with Abby since she has been to Bandon many times.

Gerald and Maryruth at Port Orford It was a perfect day for coastal driving, with gorgeous sunny skies and warm temperatures.  Mo suggested that we stop in Port Orford and check out the boat lift, thinking Gerald might get a kick out of it.  As many times as we have driven that part of the coast, I had never stopped at the lovely Visitor Center or been down to the docks to see the famous lift, one of only six in the world and only two in the US. 

the boat hoist at Port Orford As luck would have it, there was a fishing boat coming into the dock while we were there, and we got to see the famous lift in action. We watched in fascination as the fishing boat was lifted up by a hook and just four ropes and dropped down easily on a big old wooden trailer. 

coast trip with Maryruth-096

There is much more to do in tiny Port Orford than I realized and I added the Lifeboat Station Museum to the list of future todo’s, in addition to going to the Cape Blanco Lighthouse, but on this day Bandon was waiting.  

lunch at Tony's Crab Shack Our first stop in Bandon was Tony’s Crab Shack where I had fresh grilled halibut with cilantro lime, Maryruth had fresh steamed clams, and Gerald had a rock cod sandwich.  So fresh, so good!  YUM. 

Back another block from the waterfront we found the Coastal Mist chocolate shop.  As we walked through the door the rich, warm aroma of really good chocolate welcomed us into this beautiful little store full of the most amazing chocolate ever. Trained in Belgium, the owners are chocolate makers par excellence!  I had never tasted “sipping chocolate”, and believe you me, it is nothing whatsoever like your everyday cup of hot chocolate.  It was beyond incredible, and so rich and so decadent.  Of course I came away with a little bag of solid gold/er chocolate truffles and a big chunk of pure Belgian chocolate.

sipping chocolate at Coastal Mist After browsing a gorgeous gallery that almost tempted Maryruth to spend a half year’s salary on a clock, we ambled off to the new Face Rock Creamery, built to replace the old Bandon Creamery that had such a great Bandon history.  Sold to the Tillamook Cheese company, the owners lost their rights to the Bandon Cheese name.  Bandon Cheese is now made under contract by Tillamook Cheese somewhere in Wisconsin.  Check out this website.  Sheesh.  We still like Bandon Cheese that we can buy at Fred Meyer, but it isn’t really Bandon Cheese.

Face Rock Cheese FactoryFace Rock Cheese is wonderful, and the owner is the original Bandon cheesemaker’s son.  I asked if there was any cheese that tasted like the old Bandon cheddar and the cashier laughed and said, “No, not yet, We haven’t been open long enough!  Just leave it in the fridge for a few months and you’ll have it”.

Hoping for an ice cream dessert so touted by so many visitors, we decided instead that the money was better spent on cheese goodies.  The ice cream is great, but it isn’t made by Face Rock, and we can get Umpqua ice cream any time.

Art along the Rogue-002Home after a great day, we cooked up a good supper of spaghetti and salad, eating one more time at the big picnic table with another roaring campfire.  I think it was a perfect way to celebrate our “anniversary”.

On Thursday we had a leisurely departure from the park, driving through the brilliant light and dark shadows along the Smith River, past Jedediah Smith State Park, and home to the cottage in Grants Pass.  The celebration wasn’t yet over.  Maryruth and Gerald decided to stay in town for a couple of days to check out the area, see the cottage, visit with Deb (who is almost like a niece to Maryruth) and share some more great meals with us before they went back to California.Art along the Rogue-033

Grants Pass has a great downtown area, with historic buildings, some nice art installations, and several annual festivals.  Saturday and Sunday was the annual “Art Along the Rogue” festival, a celebration of street art.  I guess that street artists are a genre of their own, and I only saw them some time ago when visiting downtown Pasadena.  I loved having such a cosmopolitan event right there in our second adopted home town.  Both main streets were shut down to traffic so the artists could create these amazing images with chalk on asphalt.  Ephemeral, beautiful, like a sand castle, they are created, we enjoy them, and they then disappear.  I actually do wonder just how long they last after the traffic opens again.

Maryruth and Gerald left for home, and Deb, Mo and I wandered the town, discovering the fabulous Saturday market where I bought more goodies than I really wanted to carry.  We then met up with our neighbors, Wes and Gayle who were also at the market, and wanted to come and see the cottage before they leave for their winter home in Arizona this week. We then ran into a bunch of folks from Rocky Point who were visiting the festival as well.  So much social stuff!  Geez, for someone who isn’t very social, this was a LOT of interaction.10-05-2013 Art on the Rogue

When we got back to Rocky Point on Sunday afternoon, I was so very very glad to be home where I didn’t have to talk any more.  Except for one little surprise.  My sister Sal, who was a medical transcriptionist, lost her job to changing technology, and instead of sitting around moaning, decided to go to truck driving school and become a truck driver.  I hadn’t seen her since Easter, and she was in Klamath Falls for just a quick turn around before getting back out on the road.

Sally and Sam and the truck-001Sally and Sam and the truck-012 My baby sister, at 63 years young, is now a big rig driver!  Sheesh!  the girl has guts, always has.  She is trying to get her tractor fixed up a bit with some girly stuff, and asked me to make a quilt for her that had LOTS OF COLOR!.  So I did.  I was glad to have the top finished at least to show her when I drove into town for our quickie visit.

So now, finally, it is Tuesday, and I really don’t have to talk any more.  Once I hit the PUBLISH button for this blog, I don’t even have to write any more.  I don’t have to do a dang thing!  At least not today.  Tomorrow it might be time to pull out the Halloween decorations, trim back the summer foliage for winter, wander around taking photos of the fall colors, and maybe catch up on the Homeland DVD’s that showed up in the mail yesterday.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Home again, Gone again, Home again

Rocky Point, Oregon partly cloudy and 51 degrees F

I think anyone who travels knows about the “getting ready to leave” feeling.  Energy is high, plans are coming together, dates filling in with routes, new roads are calling, or old roads are waiting.  Since we don’t full-time travel, there is also the energy of “coming home”.  Like a horse to the barn, I am, and that going home thing sometimes gets in the way of seeing all I might see on the route. Abert Lake on 395

But not this time.  On our way home from Magical Joseph, we took a long meandering route through parts of Oregon not yet traveled.  Once back in Rocky Point, I caught up on the blog (almost), whipped up a quilt top for my sister, had a great visit with a fellow retired soil scientist, was treated to a fabulous dinner at Wes and Gayle’s next door, and then in only 10 days we were on the road again.  And this time I didn’t even take a computer with me!  Oh dear…thank goodness for the photos.

I guess it really IS a good thing that I am no longer employed, since I would have been off work anyway with the government shutdown, and who has time to work anyway.

route home But back to the beginning, the route home from Joseph. I am sitting here at my desk looking out on the dusky evening light, trying very hard to slip back in time so I can actually feel what I am writing about, because as often happens, on that last run home, I didn’t have a moment to even keep a note.  I keep thinking of Erin, who is posting little teasers from her Greenland and Iceland adventures, and I just hope that she has time to write while traveling.  How in the world can anyone keep track of such adventures?!

Then of course there is Sherry, who posts such beautifully illustrated stories of their hikes and kayak adventures, and like me, is usually posting about what happened a week or so in the past.  And Nina, fabulous Nina of Wheeling It,  who writes so eloquently about their travels, does superb campground reviews, and posts well researched blogs about all sorts of pertinent subjects.

So…what was I saying?  Oh yes….back to the photos….and the map. 

overnight at Hilgard Junction State Park Leaving Joseph in early afternoon, with only a little over 80 miles to our next destination, we weren’t in any big hurry.  Back near the interstate at La Grande, we found a WalMart for some groceries and were amazed at how hot it was at 5PM.  Sure wouldn’t want to be boondocking in THAT parking lot, although it is a place where overnight parking is allowed. 

Instead we traveled a few miles northwest on I-84 to Hilgard Junction State Park.  We knew there would be no hookups, but the tall cottonwoods were shady and the evening was cooling off, so with the windows open and the fan going, everything was just perfect.

turn around at the Ritter Hot Springs roadCovered wagons on the Oregon Trail were hoisted down the nearby hill, and there is a nice little kiosk at the park with stories of the pioneer travelers.  It was a restful stop, with the Grande Ronde River flowing adjacent to the campground.  The water wasn’t deep enough for Abby to even get over her knees, but she still enjoyed splashing around a bit.  There are 18 primitive sites at the campground, right off the freeway, but the noise didn’t bother us much since the freeway is elevated and the sound didn’t come down much.  It wouldn’t be a destination campsite for sure, but it was a great overnight for just 9 bucks.

We took our time the next morning, and continued west along highway 244, a very winding but lovely road with no traffic at all.  Even after we intersected with Highway 395 the traffic was light, with truck length limits keeping the truck traffic level low.  Not a problem for the MoHo at all, all the way to John Day and Clyde Holiday State Park where we thought we might spend the night.  Just off 395 is a narrow side road to Ritter and the site of Ritter Hot Springs, but it was a bummer to find the springs closed for the “season” and a gate across the old road.  We were just glad we had managed to find a place to turn the MoHo around at least.

Canyon City OregonWhen we reached Clyde Holiday, it was too early in the day to really want to stop, and with plenty of water and charged batteries we thought it would be better to boondock somewhere.  Turning south from John Day, we visited the little town of Canyon City, another gold story of course, and then meandered up the hill to the west of Strawberry Mountain to the Starr National Forest Campground.  (good thing the government wasn’t closed back then!)

Starr Campground FS on 395 Starr was interesting, with several sites and no one at all in the campground.  You know how that is when there are too many choices, we drove around a bunch trying to decide which one before settling in to the most level spot.  The campground is near the road, but road noise was again not a problem.  I guess 395 isn’t too busy this time of year, at least on this section.

I have heard of the Strawberry Mountains for years, and looking at the map, we found a road that circled the wilderness.  It was just long enough for a good drive in the baby car with views of the mountains, and the headwaters of the John Day River.  We even found a beautiful campground that would be a nice place to stay to hike the wilderness and bike some very nice mountain biking trails nearby. So many places, so many hikes.  I would love to go back someday and hike into the beautiful lakes in these mountains.

The next day we continued south along the 395 corridor, and discovered more little towns and one amazing huge ranch.  The highway bisects the ranch, and once I had internet I had to look it up.  What a story!  The Silvies Valley was beautiful and reading about the history of the ranch, how it started with an old Oregon family more than 100 years ago, was lost to California developers and went bankrupt twice, and is now back in the loving care of an Oregon family made my heart sing.  Check out the Silvies Valley Ranch website!   circling the Strawberry Wilderness

Once we passed Burns and turned south toward Lakeview, the landscape was oh so familiar.  This is the part of 395 we both have traveled many times, separately and together, and still the desert views are incredibly gorgeous.  Even with the overhanging clouds, briny Lake Abert was beautiful.

Hunters RV Park Lakeview Then in Lakeview we did something almost unheard of.  Just 2.5 hours from home, we decided to camp overnight.  A bit north of town is the Hunter Hot Spring Resort, once home to the only active geyser in Oregon.  Right next to the resort is the Hunters RV Park.  Do NOT make the mistake of thinking the two places are related!  If you call the resort they won’t even give the phone number of the RV park, saying instead,  “I have a room I could rent for you”

I wasn’t interested in a room, but I did want to try out the springs.  We settled in with the evening rain at the RV park with full hookups and cable tv while I walked across the field to the hot spring resort.  For $8. you can relax in the pool, but as the RV park owner said to me, check it out first.  Sometimes it is clean, other times not so much.  It was clean enough for me, though, and while not a natural spring pool, at least there aren’t any chemicals in the water and it is refreshed often by the spring.

Hunters Hot Spring Lakeview Oregon Nicest experience for me at the spring was enjoying the company of a young geologist working in the area and staying at the resort.  We talked for a long time while soaking, and I learned of the problems with all the hot springs and pools in Lakeview, and about the threat to the springs from the proposed geothermal plants in the area.  I know geothermal energy is supposed to be a good thing, but I have no idea how to resolve the environmental issues that come with the big geothermal plants.

Save Hunter Hot Springs

It was a great idea to stop for the night and relax rather than rushing home.  When we arrived late morning the next day we were rested and refreshed and ready to tackle the unloading and laundry chores that always seem to be a big part of coming home. 

Next up:  We go camping with friends AND I get to meet Nina at Harris Beach State Park!