July 15th through July 24th, 2014 Escape to Coos Bay, OR

Good things come to those who wait…and those who clean vault toilets and mow lawns and clean off picnic tables and power wash pavilion floors and clean off huge greasy grills. John took my emphatically spoken verbal hint and we fled the heat before our campground began the occupation of campers for near 30 consecutive days. The temperature was climbing to the high 90’s as soon as the weekend passed but the coast had a cool front moving in and I needed coolness, if even for two days.

A once over of our campground, securing all locks, checking on my Indian Pipe now in partial bloom, ready, set, off we go!

Indian Pipe partial bloom

Coos Bay was our most direct line to the ocean so we gathered up KatieBug, locked LilyPad and drove out early Tuesday morning. Leaving behind 98 degree heat in Roseburg, we arrived in Coos Bay slipping under a fog covered 55 degrees of divine coolness. It is a picturesque town, streets lined with huge baskets of multicolor blooms and surrounded by smaller towns that dot themselves along the bay. There has been a permanent settlement on Coos Bay since 1853.

Beautiful floral baskets

Along with reprieve from the heat, after weeks of exile from human contact, I was in serious need of ears to bend in conversation. Liberation was delivered to me in an assortment of the most exuberant fascinating characters with which to chat, the ultimate being found in Cape Arago and Remote, OR.

Our room at pet friendly Red Lion Inn was not ready so we strolled along Coos Bay Boardwalk. Small, but with lots of local color, we read about the Bay’s history posted along the bayside view. Small  sea planes were waiting for their next paying guest on the dock below.

Coos Bay Boardwalk  Sea Plane Rides

The Coos Bay Watershed is fed by the Coos River. The Native Indians who lived in this area were given the name Cook-Koo-Oose by the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Others to follow gave them derivatives ranging from Koo-as, Kowes, Koos, Coose and finally Coos. The mill towns grew up around the convenience of the waterways that surged 15 miles inland, filling the waterways, before receding back out to the Pacific Ocean.

The Koos 2 Tug Boat was built in 1924 for Knutson Tugboat Company.

Koos No. 2

There are many functioning, albeit tattered, tugs in the bay.  The Titan, a Koss Brothers Tug, was moored near the boardwalk.

Titan, Koss Bros tug

A relaxing wander down to the Fisherman’s Seafood Market below the main boardwalk brought us to the pier area where we chitchatted with sailboat owners and watched the cook cut up fresh fish just out his back door and then brought inside for the fryer, throwing anything uneatable into the bay.

Fisherman's Seafood Market Freshest fried fish around

Back to check-in, our next stop, a peaceful view of the bay in front of Mill Casino and to take in some local casino action. Early enough to miss the smoking crowd, John played Black Jack while I happily plunked pennies, in the form of dollar bills, into The Wizard of Oz and Willie Wonka penny slots. We collectively brought home $25.00 of the casino’s money and skedaddled before being lured into a loss.

Mill Casino Deck view

It was KatieBug’s turn for an adventure so we paused long enough at Bastendorff Beach to walk the long sandy stretch and let her run free off leash. Brisk movement kept John and I warm while our bug dashed around exploring the area and visiting with the other dogs walking their owners.

Bastendorff beach stroll, OR Our happy puggly dog

Up to the breakwater, back down the beach, across the sandy fire pits, shook off, brushed off and dined locally for lunch, replenishing with Moose Drool beer and fish taco’s. Across the street, the Charlytown Marketplace, an antique conglomerate gift shop to peruse before our next exploration.

Moose Drool Beer Charleytown Marketplace

Charlie the Tuna sits at the head of the bridge and is surrounded by mounds of empty oyster shells from the local oyster canning businesses.

Charlie the Tuna

Not wanting to waste daylight, we consulted the map and followed the winding coastal roads to Cape Arago. In 1579 Sir Francis Drake is purported to have sought shelter for his ship, the Golden Hinde, around Cape Arago.

In search of Cape Arago Lighthouse, the misty fog steered me to my first excellent ear bending session. A right turn towards the ocean, entering a road we quickly learned was a dead end, we came upon a tall sturdy gentleman standing in his driveway. Not wanting to U-Turn on private property, I began to back up until he came to our window and asked if we needed help. His face broke into an enormous smile at our dilemma and he generously invited me over to his back yard deck that towered over the ocean and beach below to see if the Lighthouse was visible. We began to chat about what brought us both to the area. He was from Holland and his wife Veronica’s family had purchased many of the houses on the street, this beautiful rental cottage being one.

The lighthouse was not to be seen this day, but we continued our friendly chat until John came in search of my whereabouts. Finding me on the deck, he joined the conversation. When Peter discovered John’s birthplace, he began the interesting story of the term “Yankee’s”, John being one. The Dutch given names, Jan (John) and Kees (Cornelius) were, and still are, common and the two sometimes are combined in a single name. The word Yankees is a variation that was used as a nickname for a Dutch-speaking American in Colonial times.

Peter invited us back another time to view the Lighthouse whenever the fog lifted and we parted ways, John handing him our calling card to keep in contact. If you ever find yourself wanting an amazing seaside beach house rental with a private beach in the Coos Bay Oregon area, we will put you in touch with Peter.

Peter

Onward to Cape Arago State Park. The overlook was veiled in fog so the view of the coastline wasn’t vast but it was awesome. The water was clear, the shaggy rocky coastline echoed sea life barking in the unseen distance. The 134 acres of property was given to the state by Louis and Lela Simpson in 1934. A nice picnic pavilion with parking sits next to the real flush toilet restrooms, flush being the operative word as it is something I appreciate over the vault toilets that are usually found in state parks. We enjoyed the fresh air and the short walk to the overlook. It’s a beautiful park with lots of hiking nearby.

Cape Arago State Park

One last beach stop, Sunset Bay Beach, in an attempt to let KatieBug run once more before she turned in for the night and we left in search of dinner. The enormous signs, duplicates at every beach, lead you to believe that enjoying the sand and ocean comes with way more drama than would reasonably be expected.

Sunset Bay South warnings

The wildlife sunning on the sand obviously had first consideration and had taken over the area, yellow plastic streamers barricading and surrounding nearly the entire beach.

Sunbathing seal at Sunset Bay South

Back to the Inn, KatieBug tucked away in bed with Animal Planet for company, John and I are off to eat Prime Rib at the Saw Blade Buffet at the Mill Casino.

After dinner we turned in early. A 3 block long zone in the downtown area, side by side canopy’s hovering over a multitude of epicurean delights known as the Coos Bay Farmers Market, which we planned to visit before leaving.

Restful night, up early, breakfast and the Farmers Market is calling our name. Veggies, flowers, crafts, soaps, jewelry, more veggies, more fruit, some young entrepreneurs selling handmade crafts.

Farmers Market Young entrepreneurs at the Farmers Market

The sweet smell of strawberries so luscious our noses commanded our bodies to plant themselves at the end of the lengthy line. They were so worth the wait! Three heaping baskets we devoured by the end of the following day.

amazing strawberries Best Strawberries Ever

Sustainable seafood was added to our shopping basket after tasting the sample

SeaFare Pacific

Entertainment provided by several solo street musicians.

Easy Listening guitar

One more Coos Bay stop, the Myrtlewood Factory Tour, to see how this stunning multihued hardwood is transformed into works of art. Although I had previously purchased two pieces for LilyPad , I could not refuse treating myself to a glimpse of how the pieces were made.

The House of Myrtlewood

Cutting, sorting, hand finishing each piece, all was explained in the movie before we walked through the self-guided tour.

Most of the craftsmen were out to lunch but the tools and saws were in view as was a sample of a putter in various stages. John picked up a Myrtlewood putter and gave it a swing.

The making of a putter Myrtlewood putter

A bowl blank and some patterns were available to touch.

Myrtlewood roughed out blank Bowl patterns

One person had returned and we watched him sand a piece of Myrtlewood. The saws that cut the huge trees were in another area but a sample blade was on the wall.

Saw blade Hand Sanding room

The gift shop had hundreds of bowls in a variety of sizes. I was tempted to take home one of the exquisitely crafted cutting boards but I wasn’t ready to give up something already aboard LilyPad…yet.  Until we leave Oregon, any item that falls out of favor may find itself in the donation box, to be replaced by a fabulous cutting board.

Myrtlewood cutting boards

Food snuggly on ice in our cooler, we mapped our leisurely route back to Idleyld Park and our campground.

Half way home, we discovered our 12th winery, adding to our continuing tour of Oregon wineries. Old Bridge Winery in the town of Remote was also the home of my second favorite ear bending character.

Old Bridge Winery

George Clarno has been married to Angie for 60 years. He’s been making wine, amid his other ventures, for 50 of them. The myriad of career choice directions spanned from owning a logging company, offering his services as a hunting guide, a taxidermy business, a saw shop business and even leading hunting expeditions in British Columbia before opening a winery. He also managed to squeeze in bagging elephants in Africa which he proudly displays on his tasting table.

George, owner of Old Bridge Winery

The winery is across from the Sandy Creek Bridge historic landmark which was a pleasant stop for us last year while traveling through the area. It sits on Highway 42 and until the 1950’s, the covered bridge was a part of the main road.

George still has a commercial pilot’s license allowing he and his wife to make day trips to places of interest along the Pacific Northwest. An interesting conversationalist living life to the fullest.  We brought home a bottle of his locally famous Sweet Berry Wine.

My craving for chilly temperatures and diverse conversation fulfilled, we arrived at Lone Pine under skies marbled with hues of pink. Tomorrow brings preparations for another large group of campers, a wedding at our pavilion, laundry day and the same old, same old begins all over again. My “to do list” includes another escape in the near future. Looking forward to sleeping in our own bed tonight.

Our welcome home skies

With the morning came cooler weather and temperature drop makes my cleaning tasks bearable. The smell from the vaults tickles my gag reflex when the heat rises. Thankfully it stays below tepid most of the season.

Our wedding group did not leave the campground in the same condition in which it was found. Our day was spent cleaning up dozens of partially melted jelly beans, pulling gooey half toasted marshmallows out of the forest bushes, cleaning several fire rings stuffed with unburnable trash and cigarette butts, cleaning off numerous alcohol and sticky punch spills from the pavilion floor, removing candle wax drippings from the picnic tables and lugging 6 full trash cans to the dumpsters. Pictures were sent to the BLM office to validate withholding partial deposit monies.

The winds blew in dampness and the mist kept us inside watching movies and relaxing for the day.  Morning brought another trip to town for supplies and by 5pm our new group moved into the campground. The next few days will be rinse and repeat.

July 1st through 14th, 2014 Wild Rose Winery, Wildlife Safari Animal Sanctuary, OR

Hooray!  A full day away from the campground. Took KatieBug to a doggy day care so we could spend the day visiting the Wildlife Safari Animal Sanctuary in Winston, have lunch and visit a winery. We took our kids to an open concept wildlife park in TX when they were very young and I have always wanted to return.  This was an adventure I was looking forward to enjoying.

The two hour drive through experience had excellent photo opportunities. Yes, it is like a zoo and not nearly as thrilling as our wild things meet-ups in Canada but I can’t seem to pass up close encounters with four legged furry creatures or two legged feathered creatures. Some of the animals are endangered, some are lifelong residents due to injuries and a few are in breeding programs for zoos. The San Diego Zoo had recently picked up a baby boy cheetah born to one of the safari’s females in the breeding program. The ambassador cheetah we saw at Henry’s Winery Crawfish Boil was from Wildlife Safari.

Wildlife Safari

There were docents at several enclosures where the animals were not able to roam freely, either being a danger to other animals or others being a danger to them. Elephants, lions, tigers, bears and gibbons all had their own space. Bears and tigers had what appeared to be prison guard towers at their cattle guard entrances. The elephants were behind a huge bar and resting in the shade, lions and tigers were behind chain link and sitting in shade so getting a good shot was impossible.  All others were inside chain link along with us.

The hippo’s refused to pose.

Hippo

The bears were cooling off in their pond but came out to investigate the passerby’s. The electrical wiring set up was similar to what we saw in Lake Louise Canada to discourage them from entering the soft side tent campground.

Grizzly up close Grizzly Cooling off

The endangered White Handed White Cheeked Gibbons swung lazily around their huge exercise area, their loud hooting conversations echoing throughout the sanctuary.

Whitecheek Gibbon  Gibbon

A large lively Bison heard provided us with many entertaining moments. Along with wallowing in the dust to deter biting flies and remove tufts of molted fur and stubbornly blocking the cars from passing by on the roadway, they would teasingly fake charge at other curious smaller animals keeping them at bay from feeders until they had their fill.

Dust Bathing Traffic Jam

The giraffe stood in the road for a while before curiosity brought him over to peer at us through our open sun roof. Big brown eyes and a long tongue advancing towards our open roof a bit too fast for comfort, we closed up, he walked off to greet the car behind us.

Giraffe munching Peeping through our sun roof

Lots of exotic species, deer and antelope from India and Africa, some recognizable, some unknown to us. The color detailed animal brochure was extra so we used the newspaper guide and drive through map, looking up on the internet those that weren’t in the “free” guides.

Indian Axis and White Fallow Deer,

Indian Axis Male Indian Axis

White Fallow Deer

Several species of Oryx,

Oryx Oryx checking us out

Scimitar horned oryx Gemsbok Oryx

Damara Zebra and Watusi Cattle,

Damara Zebra Watusi Cattle

Muntjac and a South American Guanaco,

Muntjac South American Guanaco

Our windows being rolled down seem to invite them close enough to hear their breathing…and to get a whiff of their pungent wildness.

A lazy endangered Southern White Rhino (square lipped rhinoceros) had nestled himself into a shaded mud puddle on the hill and had no intention of leaving his cool spot to investigate the cars. I was a bit surprised that he was unrestrained, having heard that they were aggressive. After reading about them, they are actually the most social of the species.

Southern White Rhino

A Yak wandered by the Rhino, neither paying attention to one another.

Tibetan Yak

The feeding zoo was amusing both for John doing the feeding, and me snapping pictures. Deer pushed their wet noses up against the windows until we rolled them down, then came at us from all directions to munch on the dried veggie nuggets that were included in the Groupon deal.

U feed Animal Sanctuary OR John feeding the deer

Up came the windows as soon as we saw the Ostrich running towards us. He looked to be on a mission and I know they can be determined to find something to peck if they think you have food.  Further on, a gathering of turkey’s and an Egyptian Duck.

Ostrich Turkeys Egyptian Goose

Splendid looking African Crown Crane wandering around the lion enclosure outside the cages along with a funny fat black with white speckles chicken looking bird that waddled towards us to check us out.

East African Crown Crane Funny Fat Bird

Our last Safari stop was a walk through the Village. Petting zoo, camel rides, train ride, picnic area, children’s jungle gym play area, arachnid display, flamingo’s, a rescued tortoise, a sweet abandoned deer that had so many physical disabilities it could not be released, an albino peacock, a restaurant and a nice clean restroom.

Petting Zoo Tortoise FlamingosSnow Ball Albino Peacock

Armed with a Groupon to Noah’s Ark, we stopped for lunch at the gigantic ark shaped structure across the entrance from the Wildlife Safari.

Noah's Ark

Upon entering, volumes of religious books greeted us; animal paintings covered the walls, some with lifelike heads protruding into the room. On the left, a small comfy room with sofa’s and Noah wall art, a fake mechanical Santa dressed as Noah telling the story of Noah and the Ark and displays of religious timelines. Inside the rest of the building is a religious trail, not exactly sure what it represented but we did not want to pay to discover.

The owner and operator, a friendly elder lady and the only employee, waited on us, cooked the burgers, took our money and cleared the tables. She was also the sales person for the religious wares and the ark tour tickets. She was older than John and I, neither of us imagining we could keep up with this spunky slight built entrepreneur. After lunch we went in search of the celebrated fermented grape.

Noah's Galley Grill

Our 11th winery stop this season, Wild Rose, was up another winding gravel road and down into a valley that ran along a creek. The tasting room, a large metal building, was banked by their grape vines and stretched out along the valley floor.

Wild Rose Vineyards

Tasting was gratis and we brought home another nice smooth red. The daughter of the original owners told us the story of the free salt shakers.

Wild Rose tasting room

After her parents passed on, each of the children took what they wanted from the estate. The son thought it would be a nice gesture to give each visitor a set of salt shakers from their mother’s enormous collection and all agreed. Set by set the shakers became part of each family who enjoyed Wild Rose wine.

Overcast morning arrives, perfect weather for the start of clean up from our 150 Christian campers that occupied our campground for the last 5 days.

This group was our first taste of an unwelcome situation at our campground. Not from our campers but from drunk vagrants sleeping on unimproved BLM property.

I happened upon them while taking a walk with KatieBug on the upper trail. John was repairing a bridge rail about 500 yards back and I walked on enjoying the cool forest. I spotted a tent pitched off the trail and a drunk stumbled onto the trail asking where he could get spare food for he and his friend. After answering, I turned to walk back to the bridge and heard the deep throated barks of large dogs coming from the forest. I quickly walked back towards the bridge, met up with John and we both headed to LilyPad to call the Sheriff. Along with being publicly drunk and having loose dogs, they had made a campfire on the ground during our fire ban, a big no-no during dry season in this part of the country.

One of our camper dads marched across the street wearing a scowl and looking for action when he banged on our door. We had already called the Sheriff’s office and were waiting for them to arrive. The camper dad told us the men had come down looking for food and used foul language to frighten the kids away from the pavilion. Not accepting our apology or our answer of “Sheriff’s on his way”, he stomped down the road to Mill Pond and demanded Toby go and confront the men. We are here to inform, not to enforce, was Toby’s reply…same answer he got from us.

The Sheriff and 3 BLM Rangers arrived and moved the men and their wares into town 45 minutes away. Thinking all was settled, we took the cart back up the trail before dusk and low and behold, another drunken vagrant had set up camp in the same spot. Another trek up the mountain for the sheriff, he gave our newest arrival instructions to stay away from the campground and next morning be gone before noon. To our surprise and relief, he obliged and our nighttime returned to a peaceful quiet.

The bulbs I planted are beginning to bloom adding a nice touch of color to our entrance drive. My herbs are filling out nicely and we use them to perk up flavors on many of our meals.

First bloom herb garden

Plans were arranged for a post 4th of July Ice cream social at our pad with a few BLM hosts tonight after chores. Sort of a “Host Warming Gift” to our neighbors who, after a week of boon docking, were finally able to move into Mill Pond after Toby moved out. A few more hours of cleaning at Lone Pine and we will be ready for our next group of campers.

Another week of same old, same old…long haul to town for supplies, deserted as a ghost town between groups, clean up after the groups leave then hang around until it is time to do it all again. As the weeks pass, “tiny” living and being completely isolated is slowly making me lose the ability to control a full blown, hysterical state of uncontrollably shrieking “what was I thinking!?”   Danger Will Robinson, impending explosion.

June 20th through June 30th Host Bar B Q, Life as a BLM Host, OR

Our group campground is again occupied, this time with a small group of adults, a few teens and 8 very well-mannered dogs. I am truly relieved. The Department of Fish and Wildlife have been building fish habitats along our Rock Creek area and are bringing in a total of 1,600 gigantic rocks to place in the creek. Half done, they traverse back and forth over our logging road depositing them above Rock Creek Campground on the creek side of the road.

Rocks for salmon spawning

Their presents make for more traffic per day than we normally see in a week. With the swimming hole and flush toilets across the street from the group campground, I am not happy with the thought of those heavily laden trucks taking advantage of the flat stretch of our road to catch up on time lost around the curves. Thankfully, one call to the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the truckers stopped to assure me they would slow down.

Our Tree Swallow babies have hatched, demanding bedside service from their exhausted parents who start providing a wide variety of bugs in the wee hours of the morning and continue on until after dusk.

two of the babies mama with fat grub

One baby continually squawks and thrusts its head out the bird house hole when meals are incoming.

Mama Tree Swallow and hungry baby

As July nears, we have less and less time to escape from Lone Pine. Soon our camp reservations will be back to back and our day off will consist of a quick trip for groceries in town, picking up the mail and hurrying back home.

Scrub day at the campground and watching The World Cup. That’s the plan for the day, plain and simple. Go U.S.A.

Our replacement neighbors for Mill Pond, Sandy and Dale, arrived June 30th to replace Toby. They will remain dry camping next to us for a week until Toby, wife and family vacate the spot on July 7th. Hope they remain for the balance of the season. Mill Pond workampers seem to frighten easily and wear out fast. Along with their arrival comes another social gathering to be held at Susan Creek Campground and hosted by our fearless leader Ariel. Signing our stipend forms will be combined with a Host Bar B Q and social gathering. Love me some social time!

John found a boomerang and decided to try out his skill.  Getting closer!

John and his boomerang

Trip to town in the pouring rain for a non-emergency vet visit and account set up, bath and mani/pedi for KatieBug, and a movie for us, our first time in a theater this year. John and I agreed…Jersey Boys show in Vegas, “Like Wow”. Jersey Boys at the movies, beyond “Fab”. Eastwood did an excellent job and even with the “R” rated words, enjoyable entertainment for those who “remember when”.

This morning we will surely get a soaking while cleaning the campground.  Rain refuses to let up.  Our warm up/dry off afterwards comes with a bit of World Cup action. Disappointing loss, only one chance left. That far from home, you would think the U.S.A. would be seriously charged up by the constant chanting of “U.S.A.” from the stands.

Very energetic boys in this weekend’s group. Flying through the campground on their bikes and scooters, kick ball game after camp set up, off to rifle shooting practice early morning, hiking Sawmill Trail and swimming afterwards. The chaperons will enjoy their quiet time tonight around the campfire. The church group was a dad/child campout, one being a son and dad from Fort Worth now relocated to Roseburg. We have been very lucky, four out of four groups so far have been respectful and left the camp in the condition we requested.

Hey, hey, up early today, get that mop and clean! Going to be a scorcher today…projected 95 degrees. Somehow I knew being in Oregon would cause unseasonably hot temperatures. It followed me to Alaska and now Oregon…I’m doomed to be the cause of extreme heat where ever we land. Scrub that floor, blow those leaves, wash that sink, stop for a breath and listen. No 21st century noise. The only sound in the campground is the wind swishing leaves high above me and the tapping sound of pine needles somersaulting down and bouncing off picnic table tops.

Weird Indian Pipe sprouting up from the decaying stumps of pines. The plant depends on both the dead trees and fungus for survival. A parasite of both the fungus and the stump but not giving anything back to either, it does offer a food source for bumble bees. If picked, it turns black very quickly and can stain your hands like a dye.

Indian Pipe

Red Banded Polypore pop out of tree stumps throughout our campground.

Red Banded Polypore

Our fearless leader Ariel just announced that she will be leaving soon for a well-deserved year’s sabbatical. She will be missed!

June 11th through June 19th, 2014 Crater Lake, Umpqua River Falls, Henry’s Estate Winery Fundraiser Crawfish Boil, Misty Oaks Winery, OR

The morning was clear and no chance of rain or clouds were in the forecast. The plan was to drive to Crater Lake and stop to hike up to a few waterfalls on the way home.  On the way, a relaxing breakfast at Steamboat Inn, preferred Inn for fly fishing aficionados and “the narrows” a favorite fishing spot on the Umpqua River.

Steamboat Inn for breakfast The Narrows

Crater Lake, a wonder worth visiting each time we are in the area, did not disappoint. Crystal clear skies, albeit cold, produced unbelievably blue waters. The entrance to the lake is several miles away from the rim of the sunken liquid blue waters of the imploded volcano.

The drive passes through the 7,700 year old Pumice Desert before climbing up to a 15 degree drop in temperature for the initial glance of the big blue. Pumice spewed from the erupting Mount Mazama creating a center void and layering hot ash 100 feet deep over a 30 mile radius killing every form of life. The volcano void, over time, filled with water and became the lake.

Pumice Desert

This time the visitor center was open and we stopped to view the Crater Lake Video, updated from the 1980’s to its current 2010 version.

Crater Lake Visitor Information

Several Ranger spokespersons, who appeared on the video, were greeting visitors at the Lodge the day we visited.

The 40 feet of yearly snowfall still covered much of the grounds and hiking up to one of the viewpoints was a challenge as we had to make stairs in the snow to ascend the towering icy hill.

Snow level at Crater Lake in June

Scanning the crater’s rim in every direction, the image was amazingly awesome.

Picture 1Picture 3

We drove along the brim road before stopping at the Lodge’s Great Hall and caught the view over the valley.  Spattering’s of tiny violets dappled the roadway between the heavy coat of winter white.

Mountain Overlook Violet Alpine

The entrance opened to an intimate miniature of the fireplace that graced the dining area fireplace.

Crater Lake Hotel Entrance

Warm and inviting, we sat in the Great Hall by the enormous roaring gas log fire to enjoy some “grandpa’s hot chocolate” (cocoa with a kick) and berry cobbler.

Great Hall Fireplace, Photo by Xanterra Parks & Resorts

After our sweet treat, we stopped to enjoy the view on the Lodge porch in comfy ladder back rockers.  The overlook gave us an up close and personal view of Wizard Island, etching the awesome blue into our daydreams should we never pass this way again.

Wizard Island

Just short of exiting the park, knotty pines lined both sides of the road. The knots are defects in the pine but are highly sought after for decoration. In Alaska, we found an entire store devoted to products made of knotty pine.

Knotty Pine

Noon came and went, enough energy left in us for a few hikes, we returned to the Umpqua Rogue Scenic Highway and were homeward bound. The only fuel stop between Crater Lake and LilyPad had excessive prices. You cannot pump your own gas in Oregon and the man asked if we were sure we wanted to “fill it up”. Supply and demand, tank almost empty, we needed fuel.

Expensive gas

Stopped to take a picture from the Bridge Over Umpqua Waters, upstream and down, just shy of our first falls hiking trail.

Upstream Umpqua River Down stream Umpqua River

Watson Falls was a moderate hike although John had told me it was easy. I got half way before refusing to continue on up over the rock studded steep uphill path.  I plan to give it another try when I haven’t spent the entire day climbing around snowy embankments.  John climbed up far enough to get a shot of the falls.

Watson Falls trail Along the trail to Watson Falls  Watson Falls, lower trailWatson Falls

Whitehorse Falls was adjacent to the parking lot of the Whitehorse campground. No hike at all, just a short walk across the elevated wooden deck. Two teens were swimming in the hole below the falls so I climbed down to get a shot from the tree in front of the pool and another below the falls.

On a log in front of Whitehorse Falls Below Whitehorse Falls

Clearwater Falls was a short hike on an easy trail with the creek following us along the way. It was the fullest of all the falls we have seen so far. John took KatieBug up to the top of the falls while I stayed below to enjoy the awesome view and misty cool spray.

Trail Head of Clearwater Falls   John at the top of Clearwater Falls

Water seeped, sprayed, dribbled and gushed from the moss, wood and rock that stretched across the expansion of the overhang before plummeting into the deep pool below.

Clearwater Falls   Clearwater Falls trail

Days end had arrived. Campground is quiet. Very busy day, goodnight to all.

Early rise to check on our group campers and restock the vaults before heading into the “big city” for the long awaited Henry’s Estate Crawfish Boil Fundraiser. The three of us drove for over an hour in hopes of some great music and spicy-good mud bugs. Arriving, we park and pay to get inside. A variety of kids stuff to keep them occupied and great music by Blue Collar Band.

Blue Collar Band, Crawfish and wine

The smell of pulled pork and a faint whiff of crawfish met us at the entrance. The owner’s pesky male dog kept bothering KatieBug throughout our visit. The only time it disappeared is when the cheetah from Wildlife Animal Sanctuary was led through the outdoor dining area to a spot beside the stage.

Cheetah from Wildlife Animal Sanctuary

There were several cool classic cars on display.

66 Corvair Corsa Car show

The anticipated crawfish were a disappointing let down. Spice so weak that it was hardly noticeable and it left the potato and corn completely unflavored. Oh well, this is Oregon, not the good ol’ South. Guess we should have known but we held onto hope.  Missing Texas big time.

When we left, we stopped at the Lighthouse Bakery which, oddly enough, is attached to the United States Postal Office building out in the middle of nowhere. It came as quite a surprise when we opened the door to find an organic café, organic bakery, organic produce, herbs and spices along the back wall, hand-made ice cream and an excellent selection of non-toxic personal care products. They have a wood fired pizza oven with an amazing choice of organic ingredients which we will return to try on our next visit to the winery tour area.

Lighthouse Bakery

After a yummy piece of carrot cake, we drove the dusty winding side road to Misty Oaks Winery for a tasting. Nice family-run business. Friendly chat with the other couples tasting. John brought home a white, not my favorite but I have a stash of reds from which to choose.

Misty Oaks Winery

Long ride home and check in with the group campground campers to take care of any immediate needs before campfire smoke chases me indoors.  Watching mama and papa nesting by LilyPad’s door and a little “feet-up and wine time” before sleep.

Mama bird    Papa bird

Awoke to the promise of another “It’s Always Something”.  This week’s problem suggested a high dollar item.  Back to the forums to check out why our one year old chassis batteries were not holding a charge.  Ran the engine, no clue why there is a drain. Hope that someone answers our plea for help.  Don’t know what we would do without those forums but I’m really missing the ease of picking up the phone to call a repair man.

Our group campers are gone and clean-up will begin as soon as the rains cease.  Next few days must be spent affixed to LilyPad preforming the never ending multitude of chores that are required for this lifestyle and not ever thought about when living in a house.  Rains end and clean-up begins.  Next bunch arrives in the morning.  Not even time enough for a little pity party.

May 31st through June 10th, 2014 Wineries, Host Nature Walk, OR

Couple of days to clean, couple of days to organize LilyPad, gorgeous sunshiny morning and the call of the wineries tug at our soles and our souls. Glaser Winery also makes liquors so we planned our travels around a grouping of three, Glaser being the anchor.

As it happened, of the cluster we chose, Glaser was first. Sitting riverside, with an enormous porch overlooking the quiet flow of the Umpqua, the tastings were not free but generous and the cost was subtracted if you made a purchase.

The winery/distillery is owned by Sandra and Leon Glaser and worked by the couple, their son, and daughter Jessica, who served us.

Glaser tasting room Glaser river overlook

The surroundings bring a smile to your face as soon as you open the car door. Starting with the lanky collie a.k.a. our friendly welcome committee, the spotless chicken enclosure behind us, white geese lazing on the lawn, a river rock raised stone pond, all sights reminiscent of Walton’s Mountain. The exceptional metal statue of a leaping frog perched ready to splash into the pond added a pleasant whimsical touch to the setting. The large two story country main-home, situated within a few steps of the winery cottage, brought completion to the scene. If I ever thought about owning a winery, my mind’s eye would have pictured this setting. A few sips of their coffee and butterscotch liquor and I was addicted. Feeling a little too warm and fuzzy, John drove us to our next winery.

Glaser Winery and Distillery

Palotai Winery, owned by Hungarian winemaker Gabor Palotai, began this small lot winery in 2003. Defecting to the US from communist controlled Hungary in 1983, he never forgot his Hungarian roots and the winemaking lessons taught him by his grandfather. Aged in Hungarian oak, he lovingly tends his four acres and believes in the “old world” style of winemaking. The winetasting room is a small corner of his barn/bottling room.

Through no fault of Gabor’s, the winery had just reverted back to him. Our excellent luck as he made available his older aged private stock for purchase until the release of his current harvest, now being aged. Behind the barn, the Umpqua flows peacefully by, seats placed near the banks for tasters to enjoy the view with the wine.

Palotai Winery Palotai river view

Becker Winery was full of pleasant surprises. It didn’t start with the long drive up a dusty road, or the informal unadorned building that housed the tasting room and not with the ordinary country view from their overly warm veranda but with the flavorful authentic wine.

I remarked that none of the wines on this day’s tastings had any “hints” of flavor. Seeking confirmation, John stated the obvious, “men don’t do well with “hints”. Hints were not an oversight with Becker wines. Even John noticed the hints in each tasting. He also noticed the giant mound of friendly black Lab/Newfoundland stretched out across the cool tile floor in the tasting room, the salami/cheese/crackers on the bar and the happily chatty and informative owner.

Grown without irrigation, the vines, now 30 feet deep, produced true palatable hints of superb flavor. Heavily circled on our winery map, we will pass this way again.

Becker Winery

On our return home, we stopped to visit former host friends Ray, Karen and their Schnauzer Baxter, planted at Eagle View, the other BLM Group Campground. Just down the road from Eagle View is Tyee, another BLM day use campground, and we stopped to visit our new host friend Diane. Wonderfully pleasant weather for an enjoyable winery tour and social visits to our BLM host associates.

Back home, our little troop of dive bombers drained one of the gallon feeders and began ferociously attacking each other for the dinner seating at the second feeder.

hummingbird fight

One sits perched near the small feeder watching us while guarding the feeder.

Watching me

Early morning rise for our trip to the “big city” of Roseburg for supplies and an informative stop at the Social Security office. I am having very mixed feelings about being old enough to collect.

My little hummers are peacefully sharing breakfast as we exit LilyPad.

Hummer  Hummers

Stopping for breakfast, gas and groceries, then returning to Lone Pine to complete a variety of fix-it tasks before our next big group arrives.

I am happy to report that we now are surrounded by neighbors. Toby has taken over at Mill Pond and it is reassuring, should an emergency arise, to see his motorhome lights across the field. Ken and Will (short for Wilhelmina) have settled into Rock Creek a few miles down the road and appear as eager as I for social interaction. Unadulterated silence, void of all 21st century sound for the last few weeks, is a bit unnerving.

Febreze, Zero Odor, BioChem, baking soda, vinegar…all products helpful in removing unpleasant odors. When living in a box on wheels, the most minuscule of whiffs overpower the entire space and a desperate search for the cause ensues. For the past two weeks the sewer smell, mixed with dead mouse/polluted water stench coming from under the sink has been beyond illusive. No explicit word in the English language is strong enough to express my displeasure. Odiferous reek has, once again, snuck into LilyPad’s crevices and it must be quashed post haste. My 2 week long unwelcome headache continues along with related inhalation difficulties and breathing is one amenity I refuse to surrender to this vagabond lifestyle.

Searching through forums and the internet, the lone subject being “RV odors”, occupied our computers for the next several days. Not the AAV (air admittance vale) we bought new to replace them all. Not something in the basement, we took everything out and cleaned it in its entirety. John turned off the heating element and the foul odor diminished. Another purchase added to our list, another crisis quashed, time to kick back and enjoy our evening.

Rising early to meet Ariel, our fearless leader/boss, for a nature walk with all BLM hosts invited to join. John and I don’t miss the chance to socialize. John, Ray, Karen, Carol, Dale and Ariel on the trail.

John, Ray, Karen, Carol, Dale and our fearless leader, Ariel

Local bird calls floated down from the trees.

A Bird

Susan Creek Campground trail trek began with Poison Oak as our main subject. It blanketed both side of the trail at the onset. Being highly allergic, you would think I would know what it looks like but its diversity of leaf designs and merging with other plants results in some sneaking around before poking out into the trail and rubbing its oily reaction all over an unsuspecting subject. It is the primary diet of deer in the winter so it is allowed to grow around, not on, BLM trails.

Poison Oak More Poison Oak

Walking along the Umpqua River, Ariel educated us in invasive species. Sweet Pea vines are beautiful but invasive.

Sweet pea vines

One lone indigenous Cone Peak Lilium (Tiger Lily) poked its bloom out of the ferns.

Tiger Lily

Horsetail plants are indigenous and thrive along damp areas of paths by the river.

Horsetail plants

Lichens, sensitive to air pollution, can be a record through time of the changing patterns of our air quality. There were dozens of types on our trek but I found net lichens most interesting. They looked like giant pale green Halloween spider webs hanging from the trees.

Net Lichens

Huckleberries, the only plant we found that produced something edible to humans. A little green now but will be bright red when ripe.

Huckleberries

Our expedition ended at the river by the log-on-the-rock and a good time was had by all.

Susan Creek log rock

Ample time left over for a stop at  Rock Creek Fish Hatchery before reaching home.  They released fish this week and all the hosts were contacted to report any and all fishing poles brought into the area.  Anyone caught fishing must be reported to the police.  When they say No Fishing, they mean it!

Outdoor Education Center Open Air Fish Tanks Rainbow Trout  Tarp covered open air tanksSalmon

May 20th through May 30th Our Season at Lone Pine Begins

Sat in the middle of our parking lot at 11pm tonight to watch the predicted Meteor shower. Someone must have turned the faucet off…nothing but a few spatters of one second long thin white gossamers. John was not amused and there was not nearly enough action to keep him outside, neck uncomfortably arched towards the sky.

We heard laughter and happy chatter from the 70 member family group across the street in our Group Campground. With more than a dozen active boys finally down for the night, mom’s and dad’s sat relaxing by the fire enjoying the cool starlit evening. So far, they have been a perfect group with which to start our season. Oldest Son told us that the patriarch, his great grandfather, worked at this sawmill back in the day. Their family has been happy campers at Lone Pine since it opened sometime in the late 60’s.

Began spending a few minutes quiet time each day watching the hummingbird feeders out LilyPad’s window. Thinking that I might label the varieties, looking up “types of hummingbirds” produced a stunning assortment of the little dive-bombers. We have lots of young’uns so I’ll have to wait to know for sure what we have at our feeders. They drink all day long and far past dusk, are very territorial and extremely aggressive towards each other without even a slight fear of humans. They will stall a foot from your face and stare before flying off. My camera seems a source of fascination and it is possible one may alight on my long lens should I hold it very still.

In Your Face Hummingbird

Gold star to our first week-long stay Group of the season. Everything we asked, they obliged. The camp looks as good as before they arrived.  Awesome sight for a host. We have two weeks before our next group. Waterfall hikes and wineries, here we come!

Susan Creek Waterfall trail sits a few feet off Rt. 138, just a hop-skip-and-jump from Lone Pine. We stopped to visit with our nearest neighbor hosts at Susan Creek Campsite, the only campsite bathrooms in our area that are enhanced with real showers, before beginning the mile hike up to the falls.  It is wheelchair accessible, full of upward switchbacks with rest stop benches along the pathway.

Walkways

A giant gooey ugly bug alert along the pebbled trail and we watched for a few minutes as it took its own sweet time sliding slowly across our path.

Ugly bug

No movement in the overhang of leaves at the beginning of our hike but as the sound of the highway faded, water gurgling over the rocks in Susan Creek grew louder and a slight coolness floated about the mossy green forest.

Walkway over Susan Creek

Once over the wooden bridge that connected two sides of the footpath, misty old growth trees parted and deep pools appeared with just a hint of the waterfall peeking around the bend.

Overlook at Susan Creek Falls

A short distanced rocky climb and the waterfall came full into view. We enjoyed the serene resting spot seated at a bench near the waterfall letting the mist from the falls cool us.

On our way back we paused for a chat with a Tennessee couple camping in the area. There being a large number of foreigners hiking the area, they asked if we were from the States. We answered in unison, “no, we’re from Texas”.

Susan Creek Falls

May 11th through May 19th, 2014 Arrival at Lone Pine Group Campground and Setting up Camp

I have my own dirt

After two years of driving, it finally happened, as I knew it would. Excited about being rooted in one place for five months, I forgot to pay close attention to procedures, didn’t move the mirrors down before beginning, moved to quickly and tried to swing 45 feet through a narrow steel entrance gate without guidance from my “team mate”. When I lowered the window and meekly yelled “help”, John being John, grabbed the camera to document the occasion before helping me back up and re-enter. Scratched would be a nice way of describing the paint I tore off. Could have been worse as nothing was damaged apart from the paint. Guaranteed I will be hearing about this for the entire season, possibly even for years beyond.

Oops, too tight  Pulling into Lone Pine

Have begun making Lone Pine Group Campground “homey”. Our trip to Wal-Martian Central (a.k.a.,Roseburg Wal-Mart) commenced the orchestrating of ornamental Pansy’s set to burst out of the top of dead rotting tree stumps and tumble down the sides. A basket of petit multicolored flowers will somersault out of their hanging container and provide an attractant for the hummingbird feeders nearby. We are nurturing herbs to flavor our salads near our front door. Eventually, a myriad of floral reds will sprout from our big brown planter parked in our driveway. Oh how I love having colors springing from a patch of dirt that I can call my very own for a whole season!

Pansy's and Iris

We are beginning to see various colors of hummingbirds at our feeders.

drinking hummingbirdred neck agressive hummingbirdIn flight close up hummingbird

There are several bird and owl boxes near our site.  Currently we have one neighbor building a nest.

Our Neighbor

John waited several days before telling me that the largest tree on the property, the one I loved to walk by every day last season and gaze up at, had been taken down. This was the only tree that was spared from the clear cutting that wiped out the old growth trees growing here when it was a sawmill back in 1941.

Sad, but the park decided that it was a danger because of rot deep inside its core. Falling would be a hazard so they ended its reign just a few weeks before our arrival.

Millponds biggest tree  Last old growth tree taken down

Rock Creek Saw Mill, owned by Douglas County Lumber Company, occupied this area from 1941 through 1956. We are hosts at Lone Pine, the area where the Wigwam Burner and Generator were located. Mice run rampant inside the huge hollow base of the burner that stands near our RV.

Wig-Wam burner

We have already begun baiting the area and KatieBug is not allowed off her leash. Our maintenance manager has been telling tales of multi thousand dollar damage done to host RV’s at other BLM sites from mice gnawing the slide/air conditioning/heating wiring. Sorry PETA but we prefer tiny wild furry things outside our home or dead, no in-between, spiders included.

N. Umpqua Trail spiders

Last year we hosted at Mill Pond where the Okieville Homes, living quarters for the loggers, were located when it was a sawmill camp.

Our group campground is not as impressive as Mill Pond Recreation Area, but has far less responsibilities.

We have two small quick spray-down vault toilets, a cozy easy care pavilion,

Lone Pine small pavilion

Volley ball and horse shoe pits and fewer campsites than last year.

Horseshoe and volleyball Group site

No swimming hole and no flush toilets/bathrooms.

Our work camp hosting begins on May 22nd so we have time to visit places we missed out on last year. Wineries, of course, and waterfalls abound within a 50 mile radius of the campground.

John got up early this morning to attempt a bike ride down Rock Creek Road and came home stating that uphill Bureau of Land Management gravel roads are not compatible with bike tires. A quick shower later we were driving down Rt.138 in search of waterfalls.

First stop was the Tioga wooden bridge that connects Rt. 138 to the N. Umpqua Trail.  It is an amazing fragrantly piney wooden bridge, used by locals and visitors alike.  Across the bridge was a 40 foot high snow melt falls running into the river.  This is wild iris country.

Tioga Bridge Snow melt across Tioga Bridge White wild iris

Further up the river, a quick ¼ mile hike brought the short but massive Deadline Falls into view.

Deadline Falls, N Umpqua River

Along Steamboat Creek is Little Falls, a 10 foot drop into a series of deep pools.

Little Falls, Steamboat Creek

Snow melt falls followed us along the sides of the road.  John and KatieBug decided to get out and explore.  The rocks were imbedded with flowering succulents.

John by the snow melt falls Rocky Wildflowers

Steamboat Falls, next to Steamboat campground, is a 25 foot falls located next to the fish ladder. If you look close, you can see a lady on the right side of the pool walking towards her yellow blanket.  Lots of poison oak on the trail so we did an about face after taking a picture and were on our way.

Steamboat Falls

A pit stop for water at Dry Creek Market and a surprise visit by a fearless wild turkey. John had a hotdog in his hand, the critter jumped at him for a bite but John was not in a sharing mood.

Dry Creek Market

Rated a moderate trail, the 7/8th of a mile hike to Toketee Falls, with its10 foot width and 113 foot high drop to the pool below, is one of the most famous waterfalls in all of Oregon.  You climb up and down a multitude of stairs.

Toketee Falls, N Umpqua river  Moderate trail to Toketee Falls

When you reached the top of the mountain, deep pools stair-stepped downward before the water reached the top of Toketee Falls.

top of Toketee falls Wild purple Iris

12 foot high and wooden, Toketee Pipeline diverts much of the volume of the N. Umpqua River to a powerhouse downstream.

Wooden waterway

There are 23 falls that grace the North Umpqua River and its offshoots. This year our goal is to hike to at least half.

Our adventure for today was a somewhat planned, but unprepared for, a 50 mile trip from Lone Pine Campground to the town of Cottage Grove.  In hindsight, this “back way out” would never need to be used by us to escape a fire. Fires would most likely start in the direction we headed as not one resident or business stood between Lone Pine and our exit at Cottage Grove.  The forestry service usually lets interior fires burn out by themselves. Our logical escape would be the logging road we take to reach the town of Glide, a mere 20 minutes away. That didn’t enter our thoughts until we had traveled an hour along the dizzying switchback climb of 3,640 in elevation, with less than a quarter tank of gas, no road map, no cell connection to direct us. Not helpful was the pouring rain, fog hovering over the higher elevation of the mountain road and unmarked roads splitting off in a variety of directions. Barely noticeable in the downpour and fog was an arrow and town name spray painted on the ground directing loggers to their correct destination.

BLM road to Cottage Grove

Reminiscent of Alaskan roads, logging roads have huge chunks cracked off from the edges and sometimes are split in the middle, boulders tumble down into the roadway, and trees slump over threatening to fall across your path. It took us 2 hours and the empty tank light had been on for several miles by the time we reached civilization and fuel.

Flashback to Alaska on Steamboat Road Falling Rocks

I played in the water today.  Well, not actually played, I sprayed and got splashed.

Playing in the water

Make ready day had arrived and our first group of campers will intrude upon the quiet early afternoon.  We cleaned out dead mice/spiders/hornets from the storage sheds, pressure washed the vault toilets, blew off the thick blanket of pine needles that covered the paths/campsites/tables, pressure washed the pavilion floor/tables/counters, restocked supplies and are now set for the Lone Pine Group Campground host experience and the 70 people arriving Thursday.

May 3rd through 10th, 2014 Brookings OR, Canyonville OR

Arrived at Brookings Elks Lodge RV Park, our home for the next week.

Brookings Elks Lodge RV Park

Visiting family and extended serene strolls along Harris Beach

Harris Beach Strange flower by the beach

Visits to Chetco Inn Senior Home with KatieBug and stopping to smell the flowers in Azalea Park.

Azalea Park statue  Azaleas

Seagulls at dusk and a Jonathan Livingston Seagull sunset following a picture perfect day.

Seagulls in flight  Jonathan Livingston Seagull sunset

McDonald’s for breakfast with Dad and all of his cronies before relaxing and waiting out the grayness. Tonight will be dinner with the family before storing away anything that may slide or shatter for the next leg of our journey.

Gray all day today.  So gray it turns everything colorless.  The fog is gray, the sky is gray, the ocean is gray and all this gray is turning our dispositions somber.

Gray Ocean view  Winding road to the Distillery

An impromptu outing to Brandy Peak Distillery might be enough to turn our gray day to grand, so we jumped in the car and headed down the wiggly, bouncy, rain drenched uphill roads, several miles above civilization.  One sharp turn and we arrived abruptly upon a genuine backwoods moonshine distillery.  Specialize in designer flavors, the owners have been creating brandies since 1994.

Oak wine barrels Baby barrels Distilling tank

We have been to distilleries elsewhere but this one stirs the imagination and brings back images of the deep South down home country backwood stills.  The location is tucked away in the woods inside a huge nondescript metal warehouse.

Heaters Distiller

The tasting room was small and cozy, offering a sip of each type for a small fee. We enjoyed them all but came home with bottles of Grappa and made-from-the-local-blackberries yummy liquor.

Woke up, hugs for my Dad and off we drive into the morning sunrise between football field size patches of fog. Soon we have met up with, and slipped under, the dark thunder clouds that had been looming ahead. Rain is not a comforting or calming condition in which to drive along the winding narrow Oregon coastal roadways.

With each trip, John gets braver with his sense of ability to maneuver. Stopping to check out a local berry gift store and market, seeing an RV U-turn sign, he proceeded to squeeze our rig around the back of the store into the parking lot. Stressfully tight but successfully accomplished, when ready to depart we stashed some triply berry “no sugar added” jam into LilyPad and away we went.

Misty Meadows  Another tight squeeze

Our sleepover stay for the next two nights is the stunningly landscaped, impressively clean, loaded with amenities Seven Feather’s Casino RV Park. Rivals that of the hoity-toity Las Vegas Motor Coach Resort but scads less expensive, includes free transportation to the casino and to anyplace in the tiny town of Canyonville Oregon and quiet enough to allow me a complete nights rest.

Seven Feathers, OR

Dropped anchor and took the complimentary bus to the casino adding two more player cards to our growing collection. Our free play and a visit to Willie Wonka, my favorite machine, brought additional monies back home.  We had cable, a coveted connection when on the road, so relaxation and TV programs was the nights plan.

Seven Feathers Statue

Another day of relaxation and visits to Pyrenees Winery (they were impressed with their high dollar wines, we were not)

Pyrenees Winery

and Abacela Winery,

Abacela Tasting Room  Abacela Vines

stashing away two more bottles of red fermented juice of the grape from Abacela before we leave for our much anticipated entire season work camp position at Lone Pine Group Campground.

April 29th through May 2, 2014 Hermiston OR, Salem OR, Sutherland OR, arrival at Brookings OR

And we’re off…first night was a quiet, mostly long term campers, easy pull through site.  Got a picture of our Italian neighbor’s rig.  I’m guessing no one messes with him!

Crime Pays Mafia hit bus

When we were hooked up to leave, John took the wheel and got between a rock and a hard place. Unwilling to wait, patient person that he thinks he is, below is what resulted when he tried to make a left turn around a truck that was obviously stuck out far beyond maneuverability. Yea, go ahead guys, tell me again how horrible we ladies drive!

Between a rock and a hard place  John at the wheel

Unhitched Ribbit, backed up, turned the corner, re-hitched, went on our way.

A picture pause by Greenwood Tree Farms after passing hundreds of acres of trees in step ladder stages of growth.

Greenwood tree saplings  Greenwood tree farm

A KatieBug potty stop and sighting of John Day Dam sparked our interest for a rest stop at Bonneville Lock Dam and Bradford Island Fishway, the fish hatchery and fish ladder, an hour up the road.

John Day Dam

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument and close up of the fascinating Painted Hills

Painted Rocks (2)  Close up of Painted Rocks

Before we reached Bonneville Lock Dam, just past the Painted Hills, a snowy white view of Mount Hood appeared in the distance.

Mount Hood

Reaching the Bonneville Lock Dam turnoff and after turning down the narrow dam road, breathing a sigh of relief as a giant parking lot emerged.  We parked, had lunch inside LilyPad and began our self-guided walking tour. It was an enjoyable stroll through the museum, the fish ladder and watching the powerful surge of the dam waters from the observation deck.

John played guard by the 1930’s guard house with the hydroelectric dam, built in 1937 by the Army Corps of Engineers, in the background.  Osprey circled above our heads.

John at the guards hut  Dozens of Osprey

The dam, fish ladder and hatchery were constructed with the blessing of Franklin D. Roosevelt, his administration and the New Deal after the war to put Americans back to work. It was one of the first of 10 such dams to harness power provided by the Columbia River.

Bonneville Lock Dam  Power plant

Fish ladder view from the outside and inside.

Fish ladder  Underwater fish ladder view

Our overnight stop for tonight is the Elks Lodge in Salem, OR. It is directly across from the National Guard Airport. Says the-man-who-can-sleep-through-an-atom-bomb, “it won’t be that noisy”.  Upon arrival, our camp host shouted above the whap/whap/whap of the helicopter blades, “the boys only play with their helicopters until about 10:00 pm”.  The geese seem oblivious to the noise.

Geese in Salem, OR

Sunset over the National Guard building and the helicopters are still air born.

Sunset over National Guard Airport

It’s now after 11 pm and the TV sound is overwhelmed by the sounds of orbiting engines.  You can faintly hear snoring coming from our bedroom in the mix.  It’s going to be a long night.

Morning arrived, seemingly after I had just closed my eyes but the highway calls so off we go.  Passing dozens of “Old McDonald Had a Farm” fields, some with garden variety farm animals, some with designer wildlife, the terrain became steep and mountainous and LilyPad’s engine shifted repeatedly for the ascension.

Farm Lands

Arrived at Hi Way Haven in Sutherland OR, the RV Park with the drive-in movies on weekends. The couple that work camps here used to be at the 242 RV Park in Conroe, the one where we had LilyPad’s open house.

This is one of my favorite places to pay for a stay in the area, our RV site at Lone Pine being free but not easy to access for short term. Reasonable prices during the week, just a few curves up the road from numerous wineries, minutes to the city of Roseburg for shopping and, the best part, friendly Texans for hosts.

Hi Way Haven RV, Sutherland OR

Our one day training at Mill Pond Recreation Area, where we spent an excellent two months last year as camp hosts (exception being the dreaded bathroom cleaning) was an enlightening experience.

We all know laws change from state to state and some seem more peculiar than others. Massachusetts law forbids carrying ice cream in your pocket. OK…I can understand that. Some are not that significant…Washington not allowing collection of fire wood in the park, the opposite of Oregon, which allows any dead wood to be fair game. Washington allows gathering wild flowers, Oregon’s rule is hands off.  Washington has public nudity laws forbidding nude swimming in public places but what I wasn’t ready to deal with was hearing about Oregon allowing people to swim nude in public places. Nothing even minutely similar occurred last year.  As luck would have it, this year the swimming hole is not our responsibility. My plan, if made aware of such an occurrence in process, is to yell… “John, you are needed at Rock Creek swimming hole!”.

Couldn’t resist a side trip to two of the 23 local wineries.  Henry Estate Winery, our first stop, had free tasting.  Brought home a fruity dry white and a nice easy drinking Bordeaux.  The building and surrounding area reminded us of Bernhardt Wineries in Plantersville, TX.  Henry Estate has monthly events, one being a crayfish boil with Cajun music in June.  Looks like we will be celebrating Father’s Day gleefully pinching tails and sucking heads.

Henry Estate Winery

Down a long curvy dirt road, high upon a hill, sits Prayer Rock Vineyard.  Their wine tasting wasn’t free but included a few bites paired with the wines.  We brought home a nice Spanish Tempranillo.

Wine Cave at Prayer Rock

Devoted attention from Shiraz, their gentle oversize wooly vineyard welcome wagon, immediately offered countless wet doggy breath kisses and gave way to bittersweet memories of our sweet Millie.

Prayer Rock Vineyard

Back tracking to visit my dad in Brookings Oregon for a week before we begin our season at Lone Pine Group Campground. On the way, Bandon, our favorite side trip, is having a Farmers Market with musicians “singing an a picken” at the Market entrance.

Bandon Farmers Market

The block-long parking lot across the street has plenty of room for our 65’ and it is our usual spot to park. We wander around, have lunch at our favorite eatery, return to LilyPad and John drives slowly across the gravel lot to the road. Upon reaching the road, out of the corner of our eyes, we see a man speeding quickly to our windshield and stopping, waving his arms. John opens up the side window and is told that he is dragging the car. Getting out, we see behind LilyPad two deep rivulets completely void of gravel, trailing from across the parking lot up to our stop. Someone, who shall remain nameless, forgot to take Ribbit out of park when he did his routine “walk around” before we drove away.

April 23rd through April 28th, 2014 Final Days at Bowl and Pitcher, Spokane WA

The winding down of our first work camp position of our 2014 year has begun. Being planted next to the peaceful Spokane River was a treasured pleasure.

Our site at Bowl and Pitcher

A bit frosty at the onset of our stay but warmed up to brilliant Cornflower mornings full of distant haunting raptor chirrups and echoing woodpecker rat-a-tat-tats.

cornflowers cropping up all over Busy Bee

Every campsite was filled this weekend, even the overflow. Said goodbye to Ellen, the upstairs maid, (John and I are the downstairs maids) as she left for another work camp position. Thoroughly enjoyable stay but if we ever return, it will be early in the year. The closer to summer months are greatly congested with noisy smoky-fire-building campers.

Ellen, John, Becky,

A bubble recipe from my niece posted on Facebook provided us with ample reason to turn a few hours into a play time and we blew happy rainbow orbs out across the river. They exploded midair leaving Spiderman webs trailing along the breeze.

Experimenting with new bubble recipe

Our closest osprey, his nest positioned at the top of a tree across from our campsite, flew to perch on a nearby limb and watch the popped bubble strings float away. Sensing it wasn’t food, he loudly broadcasted his disappointment and returned home.

Ospray across from our site Nest by our site

We sighted another coyote next to one of the camp sites but he wandered off by the time I got the camera out of the motorhome. One of our campers saw an old porcupine waddle slowly by our site at the water’s edge and our marmot poked his head out to watch us greet the newbies. Our geese waddled their babies out of the water and up into the campground to teach them the proper way to poop on our little patches of grass.

Neighboring fussy  Geese family

One day left. Lots of campsites to clean, lots of last minute cramming belongings into available spaces to achieve. Weather is not being cooperative. 9:00 am cool, windy overcast. 9:15 am brilliant sunshine. 9:20 am pouring down rain. 9:25 am wind with sleet, sticking to Ribbit’s window. 9:45 brilliant sunshine poking out between clouds. 10:10 am sleet sticking to our work camp cab cart. 10:20 am warm brilliant sunshine. Spokane is truly a “if-you-don’t-like-the-weather-wait-five-minutes-and-it-will-change-drastically” kind of town. Just enough time for a Kodak moment with the Spokane River minutes before another down pour.

Spokane River

A quick sneak out to take one last picture of our Spokane River sunset before a much needed nights sleep.

Last sunset on the Spokane