August 23 From Home to Le Page


Leaving Rocky Point in the early morning light, traveling via West Side Road to Highway 97.    This part of our route is beautiful every time, even though familiar. 

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Of course we had to stop at our favorite little restaurant along the route, the Diamond Lake Junction Cafe.  Handwritten notes from all over the world are displayed under the table glass praising the wonderful food found in this unassuming little cafe.  Yes, I know this photo is a bit scary, but we share the breakfast and have leftovers for another meal, and it is sooooo good!


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Home_to_LePage (14)Highway 97 can get a bit boring after so many years traveling, but the windmills along the Columbia River approaching the Biggs Junction are growing in number every year……

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 Our destination for the evening was the delightful COE campground at the mouth of the John Day River just east of John Day Dam on I-84.  We have camped at LePage in the past and it is a perfect stopover for our trip north.

The rest are the days photos are linked here….

JOURNAL:  We have traveled north on Highway 97 so many times that it’s hard to feel as though we are really finally on our big road trip.  Leaving the house at a few minutes before eight, we were right on schedule as planned.  The weather was perfect as well, with cool morning temperatures.  There was a prediction  of frost after midnight, but I didn’t see any sign of frozen flowers this morning. 

The drive was uneventful, with Mo driving and me knitting.  I  am working on a little cap to match the scarf I knitted from some really fabulous thick and thin hand dyed yarn in shades of purples, blues, and greens.  It kept me entertained as we followed the stick straight road through the lodgepole pines.  If we had never been on this route before, we may have thought that there was something of interest to see.  A few miles north of Chiloquin and the KlaMoYa Casino is Collier State Park, with a logging museum and the lovely Williamson River and the clear spring run from Blue Springs just a half mile west of the highway.  Once up the hill to the pumice plateau, the lodgepole is dominant, and on the west you can see Mt Scott and Mt Thielson of the high Cascades. 

THowever, for us the most exciting thing this morning was breakfast.  Again we stopped at the Diamond Lake Junction for a great if sinful breakfast of chicken fried steak and eggs.  This little place is becoming more and more well known, and on the tables under glass are hand written notes from people from all over the world touting the great food.  One person suggested that they need to be on the food channel, and I would imagine that someday they will get there, maybe on Dives and Diners or some such.

Once we headed north again, I was entertained by knitting and fiddling with the new NUVI GPS that I bought for this trip.  I tested it during the last few weeks, getting used to the buttons and commands, so it doesn’t have many surprises.  It’s entertaining, (on a long flat straight road) to fiddle with the trip computer, and see just what path Garmin Girl thinks we should follow to get from here to there.  Garmin Girl has been silenced, however, since she makes Mo crazy when she is constantly “recalculating” and of course, that happens every time we decide to make a detour.  I think we will love Garmin Girl much more when we are on roads we don’t know as well as this one.

We also stopped at Bi-Mart in LaPine to pick up some incidentals, and at the Biggs Junction for gas, the last gas we will have pumped for us on this trip, I believe.  One of the delights of Oregon, at least for some of us, is that we don’t pump our own gas.  It’s often frustrating to outsiders to have to wait around for a service person, but it is easy to get used to when you live in Oregon.  North of Bend the landscape is dry and open, especially this time of year.  I found it hard to really appreciate it, and kept waiting for the good road trip feeling to settle in.  Finally, going down the grade into Biggs Junction, I got a taste of it.  At last, on the road again.  The dark massive basalt columns were a dramatic contrast to dry yellow grasses on the hills.  Coming around a curve, we could see the peaks of two volcanoes, and sometimes Rainier would come into view as well.  There is a place in the road, just before Shaniko, that is called the “mountain finder”, with a large stone circle with the volcanoes named facing the direction to identify them.  Again, we have been there several times and it was on the other side of the road so we didn’t stop.  We also didn’t stop for the tiny town of Shaniko, almost a ghost town, where we once explored the old buildings and had great ice cream cones.  I feel jaded somehow, frustrated with how bored I am with this landscape, and ready for something that I can’t predict to come around the corner.  Soon.

Biggs Junction used to be such a landmark for me, coming from Spokane on those long drives to California 30 years ago. It seemed so far away, a bit romantic.  The bridge across the Columbia, the MaryHill Museum across the river, fascinating and lovely, the replica of Stonhenge.  There is a lot to see here, but only if you haven’t seen it a bunch of times in the past.  We are in a rush to somewhere, but certainly not Spokane, where we have been before as well.  How many years of traveling does it take to get tired of all the roads that are available to you?  I wonder.

How many miles will pass before we see something that isn’t familiar and predictable.  Maybe once we get to Bonner’s Ferry, once we are traveling along Highway 2 in Montana.  Yes, I have been there too, but it has been a dozen years at least.  Maybe things will seem new and fresh when we get to Montana at least.  Maybe by the time we leave there and drive along the Kootenai River to Libby things will seem fresh, and this traveling will feel like a road trip.

I have no idea what that feeling really is for RV’rs who travel the United States year around.  It’s a small country after all, and there just aren’t that many roads to find after 65 years of traveling it.  But maybe I am full of it, maybe when we cross Montana into North Dakota and Minnesota, and into Canada it will seem fresh and new and I will at least really be glad that we are on the road.

But.  In the mean time, after settling in to the campground at LePage this evening, we made some pea soup, or I should say I opened a can of pea soup, put in some ham from Easter in the freezer, and sautéed some garlic bread.  We ate outside on the picnic table, cleaned up, and played some cards.  Our site is near perfect, especially for one night, a pull through, level and on the water with a picnic table.  We didn’t even need to unhook or take out the awning since the sun was on the other side.  We have hookups here, and when the fan didn’t do the job, we turned on the air conditioning. 

Jeremy, the cat, has been in and out a bit, and sat with us while we played cards.  Later Mo went for a walk and I wrote on the laptop.  When she returned, Jeremy was sitting on the MoHo steps,  big as you please, watching the water quietly.  somehow he got out of his carrier and decided to come outside with me.  whew.  I was lucky he didn’t run off.  I didn’t even know he was there, and the door was wide open.  I don’t want to lose a cat on this trip, so will have to be more vigilant for sure.

We have no big plans tomorrow, except to see Mo’s brother, Don, who seems to be busy with different sorts of things, but will still come down to Riverside State Park to meet us.  Mo is going indoors now, and I will follow.  I still feel a bit strange from the Zyrtec I had to take this morning.  Hay fever hit me hard as we were leaving, and I couldn’t stop sneezing.  Yukky.  It’s better now, so hopefully I left whatever was the trigger behind me in Rocky Point. 

My computer screen is weird as well, so that’s a bit worrisome.  Sigh.  Would be nice if things just worked without glitches….sigh again. It’s a power thing, obviously, since as soon as I unplug it, the screen goes very dark  and I can’t seem to find how to turn it up.  anywhere.  Cars on the freeway, trains going by, river lapping against the rocks here beside our campsite.  Twilight on the John Day River, pink skies in the east reflected from the unseen sunset.  Tomorrow should be a good day, another familiar day driving familiar roads to familiar places.  But it is certainly better than driving I-5!!  through the San Joaquin Valley.  Gak.  Yes, this is better by far, even if familiar.

Author: kyotesue

Soil scientist/mapper working for 35 years in the wild lands of the West. I am now retired, enjoying my freedom to travel, to hike without a shovel and a pack, to knit and quilt and play, to play with photography and write stories about all of it.

2 thoughts on “August 23 From Home to Le Page”

  1. Sue, we've been traveling over 7 years. The longer we travel, the more I realize how much there is to see. I agree with you that some roads – those you know well from local travels over the years – become boring, especially if there isn't much to see. That's how we feel about I-5 between Sacramento and Redding, for instance, and both Hwy 99 and I-5 down California's central valley.

    But we've spent a lot of time in Oregon and aren't bored yet! Even the Napa/Sonoma area of CA still delights us after many, many visits there. This year's trip, through mostly new territory… all I can say is that we could spend another 7 years traveling and not see it all or get tired of it!

    One reason, which you don't really “get” until you are fulltiming, is that you slow WAY DOWN and explore a lot more. So many scenic drives! So many unknown side roads! The slower you go, the more you see, and the more you realize there is to see. Don't worry, you wouldn't get bored. 🙂


  2. I think I get that part, Laurie, about slowing down. I had hoped for that on this trip, but somehow that still didn't happen. I do expect us to have more relaxed, longer trips as time goes on, and maybe full time eventually, but in the mean time, this is still wonderful


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