03-01-2023 A Birthday Celebration

MoHo and Tracker patiently waiting in the driveway for the snow to melt

As my friend Maryruth said recently, Mo is an incredible hostess, making company feel welcome and cared for.  Intimate times with family and friends are something she enjoys, but parties?? Forget it.  I think Mo will do whatever she can to avoid any kind of party in her honor, especially birthday parties.  So early in February, when she mentioned what she would like to do for her birthday this year, I completely understood.

Mo wanted to travel in the MoHo, one of her favorite things, and this time she chose to travel to the town of her childhood, Columbia City, Oregon.  Much of the time I am the trip planner, but this time Mo handled everything except the actual phone calls.  My only job was to make the reservations and fill in the calendar.

Often early March is a delightful time of year in Grants Pass.  Daffodils are beginning to bloom, the grass is growing and in need of mowing, and trees are budding.  We didn’t worry much about the weather as we planned the trip for the last two days in February, with our plans putting us near Columbia City by March 1, Mo’s birthday. 

This year, however, was a bit of a surprise.  Sure, we sometimes get light snows in March and even in April, but this year it has been snowing at Rogue Valley floor elevations for much of February.  A bit of sunshine in between let Mo outside a bit to rake leaves and mow the pasture once, but most of the time I huddled in the house, attempting to appear useful while Mo worked outside.  It was cold, with very little sunshine.  All of February felt like winter, real winter, even in Southern Oregon. 

Waking early on Feb 27 wasn’t encouraging for a MoHo trip

Plans made, reservation papers in an orderly folder, we watched the weather apps and the Oregon Department of Transportation website with trip check cameras and road conditions.  On February 27th, our planned departure date, it snowed.  We called the first park where we planned to stay and they were kind and said no problem, no extra charge to change the arrival date and the length of our stay.

Another snowy morning on Feb 28

On February 28th, we woke again to snow, with the MoHo parked in the driveway and Tracker hooked up and ready to go, once again we called the park.  Sure, we could adjust our arrival day and our length of stay to just one night instead of two or three.  We watched the snow slowly melt throughout the rest of the day.  I tracked the road cameras obsessively and checked every possible weather app for some signs of encouragement.

We read that the snow on the morning of March 1 would be light, and the sun might appear by mid-morning.  We timed our departure for 11AM, but sitting around in the house with everything ready to go isn’t much fun.  We were on the road at 10:30 AM on the morning of Mo’s birthday.  The mail came in time for her to receive birthday cards that so many people mailed in time and for Mo to get a few birthday calls from her friends, brothers, and sister.  It was a pleasant morning.

There are four passes on the winding portion of Interstate 5 between Grants Pass and Roseburg, and then two smaller passes between Roseburg and Eugene before we enter the Willamette Valley and the end of the mountain passes on the way to Portland. The day before our departure, the interstate was closed in both directions for more than 30 miles for almost 12 hours.  It was a great reason to give to our camp hosts for our delay.

I-5 north of Grants Pass

I-5 after the first four passes north of Grants Pass

I-5 north of Roseburg

On the day we drove north, the roads were clear and the pavement was mostly dry and free of ice.  Our trip north to Portland was completely uneventful, even though I did breathe a sigh of relief as we crossed the last pass at Rice Hill.  The trip was so very easy.  The only other hurdle to navigate was Portland freeway traffic as we crossed the downtown area of the city toward Highway 30.  We hit heavy traffic just a few miles south of downtown.  I think our time in heavy slow traffic lasted all of ten minutes, and we managed to navigate the proper turn lanes together without any moments of stress. 

Surprising how close to Portland the wide open spaces of Sauvie Island are located

It was just a little after 4 when we reached the turn toward Sauvie Island, and we were at our campsite at exactly 4:30 PM.  Once again I had nailed it, saying we would be parked by 4:30.  Sometimes we are so very lucky and I don’t think we have had a trip any easier than this one.

Mo wanted to visit Sauvie Island for a couple of reasons.  For one thing, it is an open and lovely place that isn’t very well known.  There is a wildlife refuge and a couple of campgrounds that are along the banks of the Columbia River.  When Mo planned our trip originally, she thought we would take the kayaks and enjoy the many small lakes and streams that are located adjacent to the main Columbia.  Needless to say, with snow, rain, and temperatures in the ’30s predicted for the area, we decided to skip bringing the kayaks.

The other reason Mo wanted to visit was to enjoy her memories of picking green beans on the island as a young girl when she lived nearby in Columbia City.  A fun memory that Mo shared with the camp host at the island was how important it was to fluff the beans up in the bucket because you were paid by the bucket, not by the weight, and fluffed-up beans filled the bucket faster. He seemed to know exactly what she was talking about since he laughed with her at the story.  Maybe he picked beans as a kid as well.

We are in Site 11 at Reeder Beach RV Park

The skies were dark and cloudy when we arrived, but the rains held off until we were completely settled into our spot overlooking the mighty Columbia River.  I took Mattie for a walk and watched for the big ships that sometimes navigate this portion of the river. 

We saw a few barges, and one rather fancy tour boat but no big ships came our way on this first evening of our visit.  Settling in for a supper of green chile enchiladas and a salad, we were warm and cozy when the rain began to tap on the roof of the MoHo.

Our campground was Reeder Beach RV Park, and we received a couple of pages of rules when we arrived.  The park is well maintained, and the rules are designed to prevent long-term squatters from taking over the park.  The fees were $50 per night for a site like ours overlooking the river and $40 per night for back-row sites.  The power and water were operational with snow coats covering the power posts to protect them from the recent freezing weather.  The site itself was graveled but was most certainly not even close to level.  I was so glad that Mo had worked on our hydraulic jacks and they worked perfectly.

Happy Birthday, Mo!

We spent a pleasant evening watching a favorite Hulu series cast on the TV.  Even with just 1 or 2 bars of 5G reception on the phone, the internet connection worked perfectly.  The only noise during the night was an occasional jet flying low over the island as they circled coming or going from the Portland International Airport. 

Weather reports for the next day were encouraging, and we made plans to explore Sauvie Island and possibly find a few birds.  A few?  Wait until you see my next post!

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.

One thought on “03-01-2023 A Birthday Celebration”

  1. I love that photo of Mo and Mattie! ❤️❤️ So glad you were able to make the celebratory birthday trip. I would choose a travel adventure over a birthday party, too. LOL.


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