07-18-2020 Great Way to End our Trip

When we planned this trip, we decided 3 nights in the mountains was just about right for being away from home during the hot summer.  We always have watering season in mind, and a low producing well requires paying attention to water levels in the well cistern and in the treated water cistern.  This time of year it is a delicate balance.  We are lucky enough to have Grandson Matthew nearby for the daily hand watering and checking of the wells, hose connections, and various levels of the system, but I hate to expect too much of him. Still, when Mo suggested that instead of driving all the way home from Cascade Lakes that we could stop off for a night at the Kla-mo-ya Casino in Chiloquin I agreed.  Another day shouldn’t make much difference and we would be home by Saturday mid day to make sure all was watered as the temperature crawled into the expected triple digits.

Confluence of Spring Creek and the Williamson River at Collier Memorial State Park

The temperatures were heating up as we left camp and drove south on Highway 97 and as we discussed boondocking at the casino, I felt hesitation creeping in.  Even if it was open, did I really want to go in and touch slot machines and eat in the restaurant?  We had been carefully social distancing for the entire trip and this suddenly felt a bit crazy to me.  It also was building toward a very hot day, and keeping the MoHo cool when it is in the low 90’s on generator power isn’t much fun, and is terribly noisy.

Site number 4 at Collier Memorial State Park

Bingo! An idea.  Why don’t we stop before Chiloquin at the lovely, shaded Collier Memorial State Park, nestled in at the confluence of the Williamson River and Spring Creek? We drove south knowing our new plan might not be feasible with all the people on the road, the fact that it was a Friday night, and that the park was no doubt fully reserved.  Still, it was worth a try.

Sure enough, when we pulled in, the camp host told us all was full and completely reserved and there would be no space for us any time that weekend.  I showed her my newly acquired disability car tag, mentioning that perhaps there was an ADA space still open?  She looked at my card and my gray hair and my walking sticks and said, “Just a minute, let me ask the Ranger.  He just drove up.”  I smiled at him, sweetly, saying, “We live in Grants Pass and are returning from Cascade Lakes and I am not sure we can drive all the way back home this late in the day.”  He talked with the camp host a bit more, and then said, “Hey, just put them in Number 4.  Why not?”  I have no idea why space number 4 was a “why not” space unless it was saved for the camp hosts for some reason.  There are 4 camp hosts in the park, all lined up at the entrance, and site 4 was next to the last camp host site.

The host was worried that there wouldn’t be room for our car, but no problem.  With a short rig and a shorter car we slid in just fine.  Within minutes we had full hookups,including a sewer dump and plenty of power to turn on the AC.  It was a welcome sound, noise and all, since things were beginning to heat up.

Our main reason for staying close to Klamath Falls was to take flowers to the cemetery where Mo’s parents are laid to rest.  We stopped off at the local Fred Meyer for some flowers and drove south to the open and quite lovely grounds.  Mo said there was water at the site, and nice heavy vases for filling.  Turns out the water was off, but a bottle in the back of the car worked fine with just enough for the flowers.

On the way home we stopped in at the Williamson River Campground about a mile north of Collier State Park along the river.  It was also very nearly full, but there were just a couple of sites that were still open for one night only.  This FS campground has no hookups, but would have sufficed for us if we hadn’t been able to get into Collier State Park.

Back home in the rig at Collier State Park, we ate the last of the home cooked meals I had prepared for our trip and settled in with cards and books for the rest of the evening. 

Collier is a lovely park, with moderately spacious sites on some loops and closer sites on others.  It is shaded by a dry pine forest, and during our visit we noticed that there was no sign of the famous mosquitoes that can be such a plague in this part of the world.

The night was pleasant and quiet, but certainly not as dark as our nights had been at Crane Prairie with a few lights marking the entrance kiosk nearby and porch lights on some of the rigs.

The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast before taking Mattie for a nice walk down to the river along the Williamson River Trail.  The river campsites are the best, along the southern end of the campground if one wants to make a reservation.  I think that like most campgrounds, if it is not in full summer season, it might be easy enough to find a spot for an overnight on a weekday.

I had forgotten how fresh and clean a dry pine forest smells.  This is a landscape similar to some that I mapped when working in the Klamath Basin, and it was fun to see familiar plants along the trail. 

Mo and I have kayaked Spring Creek in the past, but have never had our boats on the Williamson.  From the trail, the part of the Williamson that we could see looked perfect for our boats, but there are riffles and rocky shallows in parts of the river as it approached Klamath Lake that we aren’t sure about. 

Mattie was NOT interested in going swimming this time

In addition to the Williamson, Mo and I have never kayaked the Wood River which is a few miles west, and are hoping that possibly we can get on either or both of these rivers with soil scientist friend Katie, who knows both rivers fairly well.  Another plan for a future summer day. We hiked along the Williamson and the lower part of the Spring Creek Trail south of the bridge crossing Highway 97.

After our walk, we packed up for the last leg home, leaving the park around 11:30 AM.  It was a familiar trip for us, south to Chiloquin on Highway 97, and across the Wood River Valley toward Rocky Point.  Once in Rocky Point we decided it was worth it to unhook the Tracker for a little trip up Easy Street to check out our previous home nestled in the trees.  We were delighted to see that the current owners have completed a lot of big tree work.  There were several huge pines cut up and lying around on the ground, and the remaining pines and firs had been limbed to at least 30 feet above ground.  They also had lots of cute farm signs tucked around and a big pile of firewood in the front yard.  It wasn’t as gorgeous as it was when Mo had her beautiful lawns but at least it looked cared for.  It still looks like the owners are using it as a second home, which makes me wonder if they will ever leave their million dollar house in the Bay Area for life in Rocky Point.

It was an excellent trip, and ended on a nice note as we drove around Rocky Point recounting old memories.  It was even nicer to get back to Sunset House in Grants Pass, where the air conditioning had turned on as scheduled.  I have finally decided that it is our wood floors that make the house smell so incredibly good after we return after being away for a time.  That first waft of air as we open up the door is such pleasure.

In addition to managing to get in and out of the kayak, I discovered that I could manage a decent flat trail for almost 3 miles if I had my walking sticks.  Very encouraging for me.

Not sure what comes next for us.  We are back to our daily life of watering the gardens, working on small projects that are pleasing but not terribly intense, enjoying a good supper before settling in to some truly entertaining Netflix evening entertainment.  Getting hooked on a series now and then isn’t a bad thing during this time of quiet isolation at home.

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.

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