September 10 to 12 Baker City to Wallowa Lake State Park

Currently in Rocky Point, Oregon, partly cloudy at 55 degrees F, predicted high of 64F

Don’t forget to click on the photos if you want a bigger version

Baker to Wallowa Lake Sometimes when we are traveling, our tendency is to go fairly long distances between locations.  This time, however, we took our own sweet time getting from place to place, and then settled in to really enjoy the countryside.  After the morning in Baker City, we thought it might be fun to wander off on some back roads instead of sticking to the Interstate.  We could see the curvy road ambling northeast rising on the southern foothills of the Wallowa Mountains.

How bad could it be anyway?!  Sure, the road was narrow, there were curves, but no real spooky drop-offs like the ones back in John Day Country, and we were rewarded with beautiful vistas of the Wallowas and the Eagle Cap Wilderness shining in the late summer sunlight. 

long route through Union and Cove It is amazing to me how many tiny little towns are scattered across this part of Oregon.  Of course I knew of Baker City, La Grande, Pendleton, Joseph, and Enterprise.  I do actually live in this state.  But I had never heard of Cove, or Union, or Medical Springs, and as we continued our travels for the rest of the trip, many little towns appeared that were just blips on the map, and a blink of the eye. 

long route through Union and Cove People lived in these little towns, there were city halls, and fire departments, police stations, antique stores advertising “used antiques”.  Hmmm.  There were old barns, and beautiful ranches, and miles and miles of open space.  It was lovely to wander through the countryside and imagine what it must be like to be born and raised in places like these, or to live there now.  Did these people grow up here or did they somehow choose to come to a tiny town in the far reaches of Northeastern Oregon.  Lots of fodder for the imagination as I rode along, for sure.

As you can see from the map, there is really no way to get to Joseph without skirting the amazing Wallowa Mountains.  Home to the Eagle Cap Wilderness, these mountains are sometimes called the “Little Alps of Oregon” with good reason.  Formed dominantly from granite from the Wallowa Batholith, the peaks are glaciated and dotted more than 50 apline glacial lakes.  They reminded me a bit of the Sierras, only a bit more open like the Big Horns.  The Wallowas are one of the premier backpacking destinations in Oregon, not nearly so well known as the Cascades with their volcanoes, but much more enticing to me.

Lostine Creek Scenic Byway The meandering route gave us just a taste of what was to come in the far corner of our home state.  Somehow I was reminded a lot more of the Idaho I lived in for more than 30 years than the Oregon that is now my home.  Everything felt so familiar, the forests even smelled different, familiar somehow.  I recognized the plants, the geology, all of it was like coming home somehow. 

Just like a lot of other folks, I thought, “I could easily live in this place”.  The winters are long, the population of Wallowa County is a mere 7,500 or so, and shopping is far away in La Grande or Pendleton.  But the towns are lovely, well cared for, the vistas are magnificent, the land open and spacious.  Beautiful. 

Wallowa Lake State Park When we arrived at the Wallowa lake State Park in early afternoon, we were a day early for our reservation, but in spite of the crowded park, there was a site open for us until our space was ready the next day.  We originally planned to stay longer in Baker City, but continuing to the lake and taking our chances for a spot was a good plan.  When we first planned this trip, I didn’t think we would need reservations, but checking the State Park website was a good hunch, since we just barely snagged a spot for the four nights we wanted to stay.

Wallowa Lake is home to one of the best examples of glacial topography in the West, and images of the huge lateral moraines are used often in textbooks on geology and geomorphology.  The lake is deep and blue and incredibly clear.  Often the mountains still have a bit of snow in late summer, but none was left this year, a low snow year for the entire area.  The lake was really quite low as well, surprising since it is a natural lake and not a reservoir, but I guess drought is drought, and lake levels will go down.

Lostine Creek Scenic Byway After settling into our one night spot, we took the Tracker for a visit to the Forest Service Information Center on the edge of the little town of Joseph.  The woman at the desk was incredibly helpful, and there were a ton of brochures about the area.  She suggested we try the Lostine Creek Scenic Route, maybe hike up Hurricane Creek, or go check out the Zumwalt Prairie to look for wildlife.  All good ideas, but we settled on Lostine Creek, a deep glacially cut valley that climbed back into the Eagle Cap Wilderness.

We hoped for some close-up views of the mountains, but the creek is so deep in the canyon that it is hard to see much without actually doing some of the 12 mile hikes into the back country that boast elevation rises of 3 to 5 thousand feet.  Maybe not today.  Let’s go back to the campground and check out the local nature trail and let Abby swim in the lake. 

Wallowa Lake State Park It was good to be settled in and to know that we had at least one day of doing not much of anything.  Mo had surprised me with the idea of a special birthday treat, and in a couple of days we were going to drive the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway to Hells Canyon Dam and a big adventure on the Snake River in the wild and scenic part of Hells Canyon. 

After a great sleep, we took our time enjoying the campground, went to town to do some laundry and actually check in on the internet for a bit, and were back in camp in time to move to our more permanent site for the next few days.  This is a very popular park, even in late September, and on this Wednesday morning as we tucked into a rather short space, I was again really glad I had made reservations the previous month before everything was completely gone.

Wallowa Lake State Park As I picked up the new tag for the new site number, I overheard a very sad RV driver complaining to the park ranger in the kiosk, “I NEVER make reservations this time of year! What do you mean there is NOTHING?!” Blue lake, big mountains, cute town….a very popular place.

Finally in late afternoon we wet out on the lake in the kayaks to enjoy that gorgeous clear water.  The mountains are so high that the sun disappears fairly quickly on the tucked away part of the lake, but it was still beautiful.  There are lakeside homes all along the western shore, most of them very big and spendy looking, and only a few of them with folks hanging around on the decks and porches.  Even so, the lake was reasonably quiet, and the kayak time was nice. 

We never did see a lot of birds around.  I suppose the shoreline is too rocky, the lake is too low, and the water too clear for bird food in any quantity.  As lovely as the lake was, and even with that gorgeous clear water, I think I would rather meander around in an estuary somewhere that has a bit more complexity.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a beautiful kayak and it felt great to finally get our boats out on the water.  We originally planned to try doing some kayaking on the John Day River, but the drought wasn’t about to let that happen.  I hate it when we haul the boats for miles and miles and never get them on the water!  evening kayak on Wallowa Lake

Mo had packed up a good amount of wood for the trip, so we had another huge campfire after supper and enjoyed all the activity of a very busy campground with kids on bikes, lots of dogs (well behave and leashed) and giving Jeremy a chance to play around outside unhindered.  We even put up the chili pepper lights on the MoHo awning, something we haven’t done in a very long time. There are some more photos of the state park linked here

Northeastern Ore_068

The Other Oregon

Currently we are in Summer Lake, OR in wild rain and hail

This was written from Plush Oregon May 23 High 52 Lo 32

Hart Mountain appears on the horizonThere is a mindset called Oregon.  Usually it revolves around lots of green and lots of rain.  Images of Mt Hood, the Oregon Coast shrouded in fog, verdant green valleys dotted with farms, vineyards, little villages with covered bridges are the epitome of beautiful Oregon.  But there is another Oregon, one that covers more than 2/3 of the state.  The East Side as we call it, is high sage desert, bisected by Highway 395, that mythical road so many RV’rs love to travel.  But even beyond 395 lies a wild and empty Oregon called by some the Oregon Outback. 

There is a Scenic Back Country Byway that exits east from 395 just north of Lakeview, following Highway 140 through the Warner Canyon and then leaving the highway to travel north and east through the Warner Valley, where the pavement ends, over Hart Mountain, and crossing the open desert toward the remote wild mountains called “The Steens”.

dropping off the fan into Plush with Hart Mountain in front of usIt is a huge, vast, silent land full of nothing and everything.  Several times in the last few years we have passed along the southern boundary of this wild country on our way east somewhere and looked up at Hart Mountain…saying…remember?  Remember how wonderful it was??  Yes, we remembered and finally decided it was time to return to Hart Mountain and the wild Oregon Outback.

Jeremy exploring the boondock siteOn this week long journey, we didn’t plan to go to the Steens, saving that for another time later in the season.  Our decision was a good one, since the upper reaches of the Steens are still deep in snow. We planned for three nights boondocking, and knew that we didn’t really want to get to the Plush area too early in the afternoon, so had to wait until noon to leave Rocky Point.  It was funny how hard it was to go slooooow, and take…our….time….before….getting….on the road.  Usually on travel days we are all hot to trot and want to get moving early.

hurry up Mom, get your shoes on!The route to Plush, Oregon, where we planned to find a boondock site, is a familiar one: traveling east on 140, through Klamath Falls, continuing east through my old survey area in remote parts of Klamath County near Beatty and Bly and finally arriving at the small town of Lakeview.  Even though we were only 1/3 tank down in fuel, it was important to make sure our fuel was topped off before heading into the outback.  There is no fuel out there, the distances are long, and we would need to use the generator.

Another important Lakeview stop was at the Interagency Office right on 395 just south of town.  I spent $4.00 on a Lakeview District BLM map, at a scale that makes navigating the desert reasonably easy. We also have the GPS unit, (sort of useless when most of the time it says “driving on road”), and the DeLorme Benchmark maps for the area.  The phone and the iPad are useless out here, since there are no signals anywhere.  Well, almost no signals, but I’ll share that one later.

miles and miles of dog safe walkingThe cold, snowy storms that blew through this part of the west were almost gone by the time we reached Lakeview, but there were still huge clouds and some snow flurries here and there as we crossed Quartz Mountain.  Once on Warner Pass, where we expected snow, we were blessed with only a little bit of rain.  The skies cleared as we climbed up over the pass, turned north on the Plush Cutoff and were awed once again by the long uplifted fault block mountain that is Hart.

I love Hart MountainHome to the largest antelope refuge in the country, with a western scarp slope populated with bighorn sheep, Hart Mountain rises from the desert like some kind of mystical dream.  Maybe it is only me, but this mountain calls my soul in ways that even the Steens don’t.  I know, I know, it wasn’t long ago that I was raving about the east slope of the Sierras.  Still, Hart Mountain looming above the Warner Valley is a sight no mountain lover should miss.

It isn’t a group of dramatic peaks.  Instead it is a long linear mountain, with a steep western scarp rising 3,500 feet to the 8,000 foot summit, and an east slope that slips off gently to the eastern desert.  The top looks nearly flat from a distance, but a closer inspection reveals many deeply cut canyons and cliffs that I have never seen except from the road. I think my days of exploring these rugged canyons on foot are long behind me.

back to camp after our evening walkOn this Thursday afternoon, the early beginning to the long Memorial Holiday Weekend, we were very nearly alone on the road into Plush, a tiny community best known for its tiny grocery store and bar and its rock shop.  Armed with our BLM map, however, we had no need to stop, and headed north through town on the Hogback Road.  Within three miles, the road turns to rough gravel, and a few hundred yards after that, road 6175 winds up Miners Draw into the Coyote Hills.  We unhooked at the turn to go check for a place to be.

Just up the road, on the crest of the hill overlooking the valley, we found a large rounded out area, flat as can be, protected on three sides by a low hill and facing the beautiful scarp of Hart Mountain in the east.  The site was clean and smooth except for a small pile of firewood someone had left behind, and we couldn’t believe what perfect luck to find such a spot.

mild sunset at our boondock site near PlushSettling in for the evening, we walked up the road into the hills for awhile, and came back to fix supper while we waited for the sunset.  The full moon was coming up at 7:30 and the sun was setting at 8:30. 

Spectacular, or so we thought.  Even with the clouds in the west, the sunset was rather dull.  I guess with zero pollution there isn’t anything around to refract the light and make color.  Our night was utterly silent, utterly dark except for the moon in and out of the clouds.  Boondocking at its very finest!

Another Rocky Point Sunday

First snow_035The air has finally started moving again, and as I look outside the bedroom window I can see the last of the leaves twisting in the breeze.  There is snow on the ground, still, from our foot of snow dropped a week ago, but it is thinning.  Not that bad, really, for mid November. Sometimes during this time of year in our part of the world the air gets still and cold, with fog from the basin around the edges of the lake and smoke from the slash piles and prescribed burns making the First snow_014air murky. It was like this for a week or so, and then a couple of nights ago the winds started blowing, dropping pine needles into the snow like pick-up sticks, and clearing the air. I love the sound of the wind at night.

Check out that great new stain on the house!  The job is finally finished, with the crew coming to put the last touches on the last day before the snow fell.  They did a great job, but we certainly weren’t very happy with the amount of time they spent doing it.  The job was started in late September and only finished on November 3rd.  Sometimes the crew wouldn’t come out until mid afternoon and only stay a couple of hours before leaving.  We live a long way from town and we could never figure out how the contractor expected to make money doing business like that. Maybe he had too many jobs going on at once and was trying to keep everyone happy.  Whatever.  At least the job is finished and the house looks great and we didn’t have to do it ourselves!

the popcorn housemy grandson, ElricOn November 1st, Mo and I traveled west to Brookings for three gorgeous days on the beautiful sunny coast. On Monday, the 31st, Mo turned to me and asked, “Remind me again why we couldn’t leave for Brookings today?”.  Halloween, silly!  I had to be home for Halloween with my kids, actually the kids are only part of it.  The rest of the story is the wonderful tradition of walking on the dark sidewalks filled with happy costumed families on Pacific Terrace, where I used to live in Klamath Falls.  One more time I met my daughter and grandkids to walk through crispy leaves, smell the popcorn that one family hands out every year from their outdoor popcorn machine, and be amazed at all the wonderful decorations that line the street for a mile in each direction.  There is no better place to be at Halloween than Pacific Terrace in Klamath Falls.

Jeremy in the window guarding the MoHoWhen we left Tuesday morning for the coast, the weather was incredible.  Blue skies all the way, without even a hint of fog over the ocean to mar the views. We went immediately to Harris Beach State Park, hoping for one of the ocean view sites, only to discover that those sites were all taken, even on a weekday in November!  Instead, we settled into a roomy spot just across the road from those premium sites, power and cable and water for 22 bucks and still a great ocean view.

ocean view from across the street from our spot in A27Our main purpose for the trip was to get the MoHo settled in to her storage berth, so we immediately went to meet the owner to be sure that the unit was easily accessible.  Turns out that it is just fine, and when we slid the MoHo in on Thursday morning before traveling back to Rocky Point, it was a piece of cake.

In the mean time, we spent a good deal of time looking at possible properties in the Brookings area, but none were just right for what we wanted.  Still, it was fun driving up the Chetco River to look, and then to the north end of town, just hoping for the right combination of view, price, and of course a big RV storage shed to appear. We took some wild rambling roads and were surprised to discover that many roads around Brookings are incredibly narrow and steep.  Saw a spot with a gorgeous view of the ocean, with the words “great for a two story cottage”.  That should have been a clue, since the property was on the side of a mountain with just enough flat ground for a very tiny home, and no space for an RV shed.

Brookings_083Brookings_136We saw another truly beautiful home and giant perfect RV shed with a gorgeous view, and an unbelievable 8 foot deer fence surrounding almost all the property, enclosing 50 roses and some beautiful gardens.  The price was OK, but then there was more than 5 acres that needed subdividing, with some weird garages with no windows and with people actually living in them!  Very strange.  All a bit too complicated, and we laughed and said, “Let’s go find the fish and chips”.  Once more we went to the Chetco Café down in Harbor where the ambience is certainly funky but the fish was as perfect as last time, thin thin very crispy perfect coating on tender, flavorful perfect fish.  Yum.  And a decent white wine at 3 bucks a glass.  Can’t beat it.

We spent the next day relaxing, or I should say Mo relaxed while I went into town to use the coffee shop internet for a work conference. Finally in the afternoon we headed for the gorgeous, sunny beach.  Dinner was a perfect steak brought from home and a great campfire and then a walk that took us to the campsite of some local Rocky Point friends who just happened to be camping there as well.  They invited us in to their fire, offered more wine and conversation, and the evening stretched out to the late hours with fun and laughter. Seems as though Harris Beach is a pretty popular place for most of us.

FS road 23 Bear Camp Road backwayFS road 23 Bear Camp Road backwayOn Thursday, once the MoHo was settled in to the storage unit, we drove north to take the back road route from Gold Beach through Agness and back to Grants Pass.  The road is called the Bear Camp Coastal Route, and is not maintained after November 5 through the winter and spring.  We made it just in time.  Although on the map the road looks like it should be a short fast way back home, in reality, it is steep and slow and absolutely beautiful.  It follows the Rogue River to Agness then climbs the coast mountains before dropping back down to the Rogue near Hellsgate. Even in the Tracker, the road was a bit daunting, especially on the passenger side. It was beautiful, though, and while we may not have to do it again soon, I am glad I finally got to see the famous route over the mountains. Let me just say, DO NOT ever even think of driving this road in any kind of motorhome!

snow getting thicker on FS road 23 Bear Camp Road backwaythe road to GaliceThat morning Brookings was shrouded in clouds with rain coming down and snow predicted for the mountains above 4,000 feet.  Sure enough at the top of the route we ran into some snow, some deer, and even a bear!  I WILL learn to keep my camera in my lap and on, but instead, at the bear moment, Jeremy was snoozing in my lap and the camera was on the floor. By the time we got home, there was fresh snow over the pass on 140 but no snow yet in Rocky Point.  We would have loved to stay longer in Brookings, but too many details awaited us and thank goodness the heaviest snow held off till our Friday errands were run and we were safely back at home. I can’t believe how lucky we were to get in just under the wire with the first really big snowstorm arriving the day we put the MoHo in storage in snowless Brookings.  Perfect.

007-1turning leaves along the creek along the road to GaliceI spent last weekend cutting and sewing strips for my very first quilt.  It was a perfect day to be playing with brightly colored fabric with the dark skies and falling snow. It is just a simple panel, with borders, and I got all the borders on and am now attempting to learn how to do the machine quilting part. Mo is worried that I will now start collecting fabric the way I collect yarn. Hopefully I will refrain from getting too carried away with all this.

I have been knitting, and quilting, and working soil survey stuff, and somehow the time to write has slipped. Winter is here, life has simplified a bit for now, and I am enjoying that a lot.

Surprises are good

Superstition Mountain I love it when life brings a surprise, especially good ones, surprises without drama, unless it is just the drama of the landscape.  Last week when we arrived in Phoenix at the Royal Palm, life did just that.  As I wrote previously, on Wednesday afternoon we read about the fifteen best things to do in Phoenix, and didn’t even finish reading the list when we decided to travel the Apache Trail, Arizona Highway 88.  I wonder how many bloggers pored over those old Arizona Highways magazines as much as I did in my youth.  I would read every story, ogle every red rock photo of Sedona in awe, wonder at the flowers in the desert.  Today reminded me of an Arizona Highway day.

downtown Goldfields Getting out of Phoenix, however, takes a fairly long time.  The huge valley is wide and sprawling, with freeways bisecting the city and Highway 60 taking off toward the east and Apache Junction.  After many miles of hot desert, we arrived in Apache Junction, another sprawling metropolis populated with RV’s and what are actually called “Travel Trailer Parks”.  The community has been high on the list of places to be for snowbirder’s, maybe just a hair below Quartzite in the winter.  We only traveled through, with the Apache Highway as our destination.

Long before we reached the town, however, the mythical Superstition Mountains rose against the eastern sky. Highway 88 is a pleasant 2 lane highway, with the actual mountain itself on the eastern edge of town.  Before we had traveled any distance at all, suddenly there appeared what seemed to be some kind of ghost town.  We whipped around to get back to the entrance.  Sure, it was probably a fake, and probably very commercialized, but it looked fun, and the buildings looked really old and authentic.

great lemonade on a hot afternoon The built up commercialized town of Goldfields didn’t disappoint us one bit.  Especially when we found the tall glasses of frozen lemonade to ward off the afternoon heat.  I had a bit of a time tracking the history of the town, but eventually found out that it was indeed a real ghost town, where many of the buildings were reconstructed, but much of the machinery was from the original town.

After wandering around and enjoying the views, be again got on the Apache Trail heading east toward Roosevelt Lake.  When  I say the day was a surprise, it was because I had never heard of the Apache Trail until a casual mention by Wes last week asking if we had driven that road.  Here is a quote from Theodore (not Franklin!) Roosevelt: “The Apache Trail combines the grandeur of the Alps, the glory of the  Rockies, and the magnificence of the Grand Canyon, and then adds an indefinable something that none of the others have. To me it is the most awe-inspiring and most sublimely beautiful panorama nature has ever created.”  Well, coming from Teddy, one of my favorite historical heroes, it must be really something, since he explored so much of the world and saved so much of it for our viewing pleasure.

Apache Trail (28) Initially the road was paved, two lane highway, a bit winding, and steep in places, but not unmanageable.  As we continued east, however the vistas got bigger, the canyons deeper, the colors brighter.  After taking many photos of blooming cactus and distant mountains, we reached the unpaved portion of the road.  Another 22 miles were ahead of us before we again would travel on pavement at Roosevelt Lake.  I have to say that Roosevelt Lake was another surprise, since in all the blogging about the world of Arizona, I don’t remember ever even hearing of this place. 

Apache Trail (43) I think it took us about 7 hours to traverse the entire route to Globe and connect again with Highway 60, and it was enchanting every single moment.  The most exciting moment was rounding a steep long curve and seeing the face of the Theodore Roosevelt Dam looming right in front of us above Apache Lake.  I somehow had no clue there was a dam there, although a closer inspection of my maps would have shown them.  All that water in the desert, silly, of COURSE there is a dam there, and a big one.  This dam was built of bricks, yes bricks, and is the largest masonry dam in the country, probably because they don’t do that any more.  It was started in 1903 and completed in 1911, and the Apache Trail then became a tourist route for scenic drives.  Can you imagine those old cars on this road??

Mar 30 Apache Trail Once beyond the dam, the beautiful vista of Roosevelt Lake opened up before us, with the Roosevelt Bridge framing the view.  Another wonder, this bridge was built to route traffic across the lake so that repairs could be made to the dam.  Someone said that the dam is almost always in some state of disrepair and repair.  The graceful bridge is listed among the 12 best in the United States, along with the Golden Gate and the Brooklyn Bridge. Again on pavement, we traveled quickly east past the Tonto National Monument, too late to go up the road behind locked gates and view the cliff dwellings, another surprise, since I hadn’t heard of this place either.  Arizonan’s will probably think I must have been under a rock to miss all this, but in all my years of traveling the southwest, I never learned of these places.  What a treat to find an unknown world right under my nose.

Mar 30 Apache Trail1 I wished for more time to go into the visitor centers, to see the cliff dwellings, to learn more about the building of the road and the dam.  We intersected Highway 60 about 3 miles west of Globe, and it was almost dark, so the scenic highway was merely fantastic silhouettes and shadows as we hurtled down the steep canyon back to the great salty valley that is home to Phoenix. Once again on the freeway, we were subjected to the erratic, speed demon fast, pass you in the right lane going 80 kind of traffic that seems to be the norm around Phoenix.  Once again we drove into a dark campground and found the cat waiting patiently on the dash, meowing at us indignantly.

It was a great day of driving and short hikes taking photos, and being back in the wild world of the Arizona desert mountain landscape.

Eventually the internet will smile on me and I will have a connection that will allow me to upload the photos to Picasa.  For more vistas of the highway, check here.

One more wild ride and then home Friday and Saturday Feb 11 and 12

Highway 36.bmp Once more the skies were brilliantly blue when we woke in Eureka.  The winds were calm and there wasn’t a bit of fog, but the 32 degree temperatures were still a bit daunting.  We read the forecasts and knew that it wasn’t a lot warmer in the Sacramento valley to the east, and that we had snow and rain to look forward to once back in Rocky Point.  Our decision was to drive the winding 142 miles of Highway 36 across the mountains, to stop for the night in a forest service campground along the way if it was accessible.  If not, we would continue on toward Red Bluff and possibly go park at the Rolling Hills Casino about 20 minutes south. 

driving 36 (48) Timing our travels sometimes gets a bit confusing.  My ex mom-in-law lives in Red Bluff, and wasn’t going to be home until afternoon on Saturday, so we needed to plan accordingly since I wanted to stop for a visit while passing by.  We wanted to spend the night in Redding on Saturday night before we spent Sunday morning getting the MoHo ready for her last month in storage.  Even though we had a bit of a schedule to figure out, it was nice to just take off on the highway with the options open.

Highway 36 is 142 miles of wild road indeed.  While it doesn’t have quite the grades that our Lost Coast roads had, and didn’t have quite as many hairpin curves, the big difference was that this time we were in the MoHo towing the baby car.  If it had been hot, we would have unhooked the car and both driven the steepest grades, but the cool temperatures were in our favor and the MoHo did just fine.  Jeremy once again settled into his dash position and it only took us 4 hours to go less than 100 miles to a small forest service side road leading down to the Basin Gulch forest service campground. 

camping at Basin gulch (1)We were smart enough to unhook and take the baby car to check out the campground before driving the MoHo down that side road, and once we looked around we thought, ‘Sure, no big deal”. Camping at Basin-3 With our Golden Age Pass, camping was a hefty 5 bucks for a lovely little campground, completely alone in the middle of nowhere without another car or camper anywhere in sight.  A mile or so before the campground, there were a few summer cabins, but we didn’t see any cars or people at all.  It was only about 2:30 in the afternoon, so we had plenty of time to settle in, go for a nice walk along the stream and relax a bit before supper. I slept better and longer that night than any in very a long time, with the absolute darkness and silence of the forest around us.

Camping at Basin-4 The next morning we continued the last 50 miles or so to Red Bluff, and thought we might go park at the Red Bluff Lake Recreation Area to wait for Gen to get home.  To my surprise, there was an RV park at the lake. The campground however, was federal, and our Golden Age Pass got us a site with water and electric for $12.50.  By the time we settled in again, it was time to go visiting.  Gen is 87 years old now, and spiffy and lovely as always.  We enjoyed our visit before driving the mile or so back to our waiting home. The warm sun felt fabulous.

IMG_1107 Sunday morning we took our own sweet time packing up, cleaning up the MoHo, and driving north on I-5 to Redding to our favorite credit card operated self car wash.  This time we got the entire rig washed for a mere $6.50.  Love it when we don’t have to keep messing with the quarters to keep the spray going.  For the last time this year we slid the rig into the big shed, piled everything into the car, and headed north to Klamath Falls.  It happens to us every single time.  As we drop down from Mt Shasta into the Klamath Basin, in the midst of quiet contemplation, one or the other of us says out loud, “I love this place”. It certainly isn’t perfect.  Winter time can be brutal and spring can be long in coming.  It’s the interface between desert and mountains, and can be brown and barren at times.  But the vistas are wide, and now, even in February, the Pacific Flyway birds are returning.  The fields and marshes along Highway 97 are already filling with thousands of swans and ducks, and the snow geese are back. 

We were home by 5, and the car was unloaded and unpacked before 6.  We are getting good at this back and forth thing. It’s so good to go, and it’s so good to come home.  So far, I love not having to choose between one or the other.