Current Location: Rocky Point, Oregon
Current Temperature: 97 degrees F
I am NOT complaining about the heat. It is warmer than I can remember here in Rocky Point, but at the moment the WunderMap shows temperatures ranging from 106 to 109 in the Grants Pass area. That is NOT “feels like” weather, that is the real temperature. The Rogue Valley of Oregon is even hotter than notoriously hot Redding, California! Go figure.
In addition to being almost ten degrees cooler here in the trees at Rocky Point, the house is even cooler yet. I just returned from taking Mattie for a walk, a very hot walk, and when I walked into the house it felt as if we had air conditioning. So grateful for a well insulated, well built, cool and comfortable home. No air conditioning needed.
Insulation was the last thing on my mind on Tuesday morning when we packed up the MoHo and headed north to spend a bit of time in the mountains. Yes, I know, we live in the mountains, but camping at a lake at more than 5,000 feet elevation surrounded by mountain hemlock is a lot different than hanging out at home.
Our destination was the incredible Waldo Lake, Gem of the Cascades. Waldo isn’t far from where we live, and is just a short 13 miles north of the Highway 58 route that we often travel on the way to Eugene. However, as beautiful as it is, the reputation for heavy mosquito infestations keep us from camping there more often. According to the website, Waldo campgrounds are barely habitable until after mid-August and into September, and then the snow can fly as early as late September.
We found that out the hard way the last time we camped at Waldo, during the latter part of July back in 2010. It was a wonderful, albeit short stay, and both of us still laugh about the heavy clouds of mosquitoes surrounding us as we attempted to enjoy the beautiful lake. I wrote about that visit here.
The most wonderful aspect of Waldo Lake is its protection from gasoline engines. Only electric motors are allowed on this lake. The water is incredibly pure and crystal clear. Because it is a snow fed lake, and is surrounded by rhyolite and pumice, there is nothing to contribute to the growth of algae or murky water. It is wonderful to be near such a large beautiful lake without the sounds of jet skies and motorboats. Obviously, it is a very popular kayaking and sailing lake. There are so many places where fast boats are allowed, I am grateful that there are a few places like this for those of us who like the quieter pursuits.
The beauty of the place is so enticing, we decided that since we needed to travel once again to Eugene, we should go a day early and make an attempt at warding off the mosquitoes long enough to at least enjoy the lake for a little bit. I am not yet at my 90 day mark for healing from my surgery, the magic day when my lifting limit increases from a maximum of 5 pounds to 20 pounds. Mo refused to even think about taking the kayaks until I got the Ok from my surgeon.
I couldn’t imagine being at Waldo without my kayak, but it turned out to be one of the most memorable overnight camps we have ever spent.
Arriving late morning to a quiet campground with many open sites, we were amazed to discover that there was not a single mosquito in sight, nary a one, nowhere. We set up camp, parked in a nice open breezy site to ward off the supposedly ever present little beasts, and opened the doors to fresh mountain bug free air.
A few days before our visit, a cold front slipped through this part of Oregon, and I remember seeing temperatures in the high 30’s on the east side of the Cascades. Maybe the little stinkers decided to go south.
Our afternoon was filled with fresh, cool air, and skies so blue they looked almost electric. I pulled out the no nitrates/ no sulfates, whatever uncured bacon we found at Costco last week, sliced some fat tomatoes and we feasted on luscious sandwiches piled up with our fresh garden lettuce.
We decided that it was time to hike the Shoreline Trail. Not all of it, of course, but as much as we could manage in an afternoon. I knew that the Taylor Burn had decimated much of the land north of the lake, and that we probably wouldn’t make it all the way west to where the trees were still intact.
Still, it was a great hike, in perfect temperatures, with gorgeous views of the lake that would have been otherwise hidden by the deep hemlock forest if not for the burn.
There are many ponds tucked among the rolling slopes above the lake, and the trail is never really too steep or rocky to be enjoyable.
The wildflowers were sparse on the eastern edge, but as we walked west, and the landscape showed a bit more moisture, we saw more and more flowers blooming among the old burned stumps from the fire in 1996 that burned more than 10,000 of forest on the northern edge of the lake. Fireweed and pussytoes were the most prolific flowers, but there were a few others tucked away, and many sedges along the ponds.
Shrubs were dominated by willow and a few mountain ash with bright orange berries, and the regenerating trees were mostly mountain hemlock and red fir or subalpine fir.
It was Mattie’s first real hike, and she managed to keep up with us fairly well. Watching her trot along with those short little legs made me realize that she had to go at least six steps for every one of ours. Here and there, among the snags, we found old ponds and standing water. Good enough for Mattie, although something in the 4 inch deep water scared her back out of it after taking a drink.
In less than 3 miles, we found a side trail leading down toward the shore and enjoyed a beautiful break in the crystal clear cool waters. Mattie is still learning to go into the water, and it was exciting to work with her and get her to actually retrieve a stick in belly deep water.
Fun for us and cooling for her before we began the trek back home. The hike was 5.7 miles, and on the way home, Mattie saw a strip of snag shade across the trail and decided to instantly flop down and rest. That is when I knew that maybe we shouldn’t try to take her on more than a six mile hike on a sunny day in the mountains.
After we got back to camp and rested a bit, it was time to go back beyond the boat launch to the swimming area. I so love swimming in crystal clear water with a clean sandy bottom. But oh! that water was COLD. I managed to jump in and swim a bit, and then after warming on the nearby rock, I jumped in again and swam part way across the narrow channel to one of the islands.
I was probably in the water a total of ten minutes at the most. Wish I had a photo to prove it, but we didn’t bring the camera along for our swim.
Back again at camp, Mo built a fabulous campfire and I heated up some leftovers I had planned for dinner before pulling out the marshmallows. I have no idea why I do that, I don’t even really like the marshmallows, I just like to roast them.
Finally, as evening progressed, the little no seeum’s found us and we decided to retreat into the motorhome.
The next morning, while it was still early, we walked the opposite direction on the Shoreline Trail toward Islet Campground where we had stayed in 2010. It is only about a mile and a half between campgrounds along the trail. Still, even early in the morning, there wasn’t a single mosquito to bother us and the no see um’s were nowhere to be found either.
A lovely breeze accompanied us as we hiked out on the Islet Peninsula where we tried to hike five years ago and were run off by mosquitoes. I have no idea why there were none on this most magical trip. I have no idea if they will hatch again before the fall frosts.
When we turned around to walk back through Islet Campground, we checked out our previous campsite, and then saw two little dogs that looked an awful lot like Mattie. Walking by, the two women who belonged to the dogs came over and asked if Mattie could be off leash and play.
What a time the three of them had! Their dogs were also Rat Terrier mixes rescued from a shelter. The women told us about a place near Portland along I-84 that is a 1,000 acre dog park. I guess we will have to find it someday.
By the time we got back to camp and ready to pack up, Mattie was in her perfect travel dog mode. She loves the motorhome, and always settles right down when we leave, usually in my lap or Mo’s depending on who is driving. As the day progresses, she will retreat to her bed on the floor, but she is never a problem while we are moving along. How lucky we are to have chosen a dog who likes being in the car or truck or MoHo especially!
If you would like to see the rest of the photos of our time at Waldo Lake, a link to my SmugMug Gallery is here.
On Wednesday, we left the campground by ten and were in the parking lot at the Eugene Valley River Mall before noon. In plenty of time for my doctor visit. The temps were already getting hot, and we turned on the generator and the air, with plans to settle in for the afternoon.
UhOh. The generator rumbled to life and then within a few minutes, it rumbled right back into silence. No generator. Mo tried a few things, but while she was messing with it, I was calling local RV parks! In plenty of time for my appointment with exactly one minute to spare, we managed to relocate to the Eugene Kamping World RV Park in Coburg, full hookups, TV and air conditioning! The price was fine at $33 bucks and some change. Armitage was nearby, but neither of us wanted to try to get in or find it. This was quick and easy and served our purpose just fine.
Later that evening, after my successful three month surgery checkup, we drove back to the east side of Eugene to have dinner with Phil and Joanne, friends of mine since 1977, that are now friends of ours.
It was the first time we had been to their new home, and Joanne had a great meal waiting for us. Their son Michael and his sweetie joined us for pre dinner snacks. It was great fun seeing him, and finding out that he is to be a new daddy in January.
I tried to get photos, but the new camera didn’t do quite what I expected, so these photos are a bit strange, but I wanted to put them here anyway, in honor of the lovely grilled salmon with homegrown basil pesto, quinoa and mushroom pilaf, and wonderful salad. Joanne made a blackberry cobbler for us as well, a gluten free/vegan recipe that she was trying out. It was interesting. Sorry Joanne, I probably won’t be going gluten free any time soon.
We left Eugene the next morning, grateful to be heading back over the crest of the Cascades as the record breaking heat wave was to hit the Willamette Valley and Eugene.
In the next few days we are expecting exciting company from Harris Beach/Brookings, so I am grateful that the heat wave is predicted to dissipate a bit.
In the mean time, the Blue Moon is set to rise over the lake at 8:32 PM and I plan to be there to enjoy it!
(Later: seems as though the Blue Moon was not mine to see. Dark and loud, but dry thunderstorms rumbled over our evening skies last night, and the power went down as well, but not a drop of rain)