What’s a travel blogger to do when she can’t travel? Take a break and stop posting? No, I did that after my surgery. Change the focus and write about other topics? How about politics, global warming, news of the day, or writing tips? Naw. Too much noise out there already and I don’t have anything unique to add to the discourse. Besides, I like writing about travel.
I’ve got it. Let’s go back in time. Back to 2014 to the trip that started it all.
Cue the time machine sounds. And away we go . . .
We were in a hurry when we left the San Francisco Bay Area on April 21, 2014. The tulip-watch websites declared the flowers in prime condition and visitors streaming into Skagit Valley to experience the colorful displays. Our goal was to arrive before the farmers chopped off all the tulips.
The second goal of the trip was to test out our new travel trailer (a 23′ 2013 Aluma Lite 207QB) and determine if the RV lifestyle would work for us while exploring America.
A quick stop in Medford, Oregon, for a night stay, then on to Portland, Oregon. Arriving early in the day gave us plenty of time to explore the Pittock Mansion and enjoy the Pacific Northwest rainy weather.
Henry and Georgiana Pittock began building the ‘mansion on the hill’ in 1912 and moved in during 1914. The couple met in Portland after they each crossed the country on the Oregon Trail. They helped shape the great City of Portland from a stump town in the 1850s into the industrial city that prospers today.
Henry worked as a typesetter for The Oregonian and in 1860 became its owner. He also invested in real estate, banking, railroads, and many other industries. Georgiana, meanwhile, founded several charities and cultural organizations.
The last Pittock family members to live in the home moved out in 1958 and planted a for sale sign. On October 12, 1962, the Columbus Day Storm arrived with its hurricane-force winds. The storm hurled tiles off the roof and smashed windowpanes. Water seeped through, damaging the interior.
Developers came sniffing around two years later. They wanted to tear the mansion down and build a housing development.
Many thanks go out to the dedicated residents of Portland for raising the funds to purchase the property, save the mansion and restore it to its earlier glory.
It’s hard to believe that the restoration took only 15 months. It was ready for its public debut in 1965. And to think the developers wanted to tear down such a beautiful historic building.
Wandering around exploring the inside of historic homes is one of our favorite past times when traveling. We found a beauty of one such home in Portland, Oregon. Both guided and self-guided tours are available. We recommend the guided tour to learn the inside scoop and gossip.
On July 26, 2017, Junipers Reservoir RV Resort in Lakeview, Oregon, turned out to be another working ranch. We have had good experiences staying at ranches and hoped for the best here.
About a mile down a gravel road off the main highway and tucked behind hills, the RV sites were arranged in a circle with tent sites at the edge of the grassy center field.
This was a great place to clean the trailer, wash clothes, then sit back and relax.
One evening, we walked along one of the ranch roads and veered off onto a trail where a deer grazed among the trees.
The trail continued until we came to a creek. “Come on,” Jon said. “We can cross on those dead tree trunks by the barbed wire fence.” Say what? With care not to fall in the little creek or grab one of the fence barbs, we balanced on the logs and found the trail up the hill. I was glad to see a road that connected with the resort and relieved to have made it back to the trailer with no damage to any of our body parts.
Here are a few more photos from around the ranch.
Before leaving the area we headed into town to restock the refrigerator and the pantry. While there, we found a little nature trail that circled up a hill at the city park. We didn’t make it through the entire trail because at one point bushes grew over the trail. I wasn’t about to blaze the trail with bare legs and arms. Before heading back down, we enjoyed the view.
We bought a bag of limes and other items from the smallest Safeway I had ever seen. We then drove to Goose Lake. There is not much there except a state park that would be a good spot for an overnight, but not much longer. Smoke from a fire in Alturas blew in overnight raining ash even though we were an hour away.
On July 29, 2017, we turned the wheels toward Graeagle, California, our next stop. Smoke grew thicker as we continued on Highway 395 and approached Alturas, California. We slowed and stopped at the California Agriculture Inspection. The woman greeted us with the usual questions of where we had stayed and then said she had to look inside our trailer. What? We’ve never had that happen before. After her grand tour, she stepped out of the trailer carrying our newly purchased bag of limes. Really? The limes we purchased yesterday from Safeway? Safeway had probably transported the limes into Oregon from California, now California Agriculture was confiscating them? Note to self, when traveling from Oregon into California, don’t carry any citrus products.
About ten miles from the crappy rest stop with pit toilets and some kind of water feature, the skies turned blue and clouds became visible. We stopped in Herlong, California, at a The Mark mini-mart and 76 Station for fuel and as a bonus purchased fresh made-to-order deli sandwiches. Be aware the sandwiches are huge. They also sold the usual pizza and fried food, such as corn dogs, chicken, and burritos. The picnic table inside and the one outside were both filled with people chowing down their lunch, so we stood next to a retaining wall, which was the right height for eating our sandwiches. When driving on Highway 395 we recommend a stop at this 76 station. As you can see there is plenty of room for RVs and semis to park
Moving West RV Resort
We arrived at Moving West RV Resort and they assigned us one of the best spots in the park. The fifth wheel fit snuggly among a stand of trees. On the curbside was a large grassy area with a triangle tarp for afternoon shade and a newly installed redwood fence along the dusty lane, which rarely saw a vehicle pass.
The reason we stopped at Graeagle was so Jon could take advantage of his Christmas present, a Raptor Adventure with Jim Tigan. How wonderful to be up close with Louise the owl,
Fifi the golden eagle,
and go for a walk with Sonia the Harris hawk.
The owl didn’t much care for Bonnie, the new terrier that joined the family two weeks earlier. Louise ruffled her feathers and hissed at the little dog. Bonnie was more curious than scared of the owl.
Although apprehensive at first to be nose to beak with the birds, Jon warmed up and was soon talking to them like he would an old dog. He petted their soft feathers and felt them breathe under his hand. The birds were so sweet and docile, soft to the touch, yet they possessed strong talons.
Jim taught Jon how to call Sonia from her perches, land on the glove, and peck at the meat he held in his hand.
I even got a chance to feed Sonia. She was so light she didn’t jostle my arm when she landed or when she plucked at the piece of meat I held in the space between my gloved thumb and first finger.
We always marvel at these creatures whenever we see them atop electric poles searching for their dinner or in the sky coasting on thermals with their wings spread wide. We appreciate their magnificence even more after meeting them up close and personal.
To see a PBS program about Jim and his birds, click here. To see a Youtube video of best friends Annabelle the dog and Louise the owl click here.
The next day we took a hike to Madora Lake. We saw signs the trail was under construction, but no one was working that day. In places, large rocks edged the trail and fine gravel filled the space between the edges.
We next drove to Eureka Lake on a dirt road for 1.3 miles and hiked up a trail until we had broken through the tree line. From the side of the mountain, the view gave us the feeling that we were on top of the world.
A cold Frostee was in order after our drive and hikes.
On Tuesday, August 1, 2017, we put the adventures and miles behind us and turned the truck toward home. We’ve seen wonderfully beautiful mountains during our travels these past few months, but Donner Pass on Highway 80 in California had to be one of the best with its high cliffs that rise above the freeway and rushing river that flows not far from the road. As we dropped down into the Central Valley, blue skies and puffy white clouds gave way to gray haze and smog. Temperatures nearing 100 degrees and a spare-the-air day welcomed us home to the San Francisco Bay Area.
Stay tuned for our next adventure to Southern Utah and Northern Arizona where we gazed down at the hoodoos of Bryce, up at the cliffs of Zion, and across the Grand Canyon from the North Rim.
The museum tells the story of Sacagawea, her husband, and the Lewis and Clark expedition near the site where the party made camp for two nights at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia Rivers while traveling to the Pacific Ocean. Other displays include the stories of the Native Americans who resided in the area.
Why the different spelling of the Shoshoni woman? Recent research and study of the original journals indicate the proper spelling and pronunciation with a hard ‘g’ not a ‘j.’ The name of the state park kept the original spelling.
Besides the Sacajawea Center, the 257-acre day-use park includes two boat ramps, fishing, swimming, boating, and 1.2 miles of hiking trails.
We made one more visit to the Ice Harbor before we left the area. This time we opted for the Clover Island Marina location, which is an upscale version that includes a more inviting building, more food selections, and the same great beer.
The American Empress came into view near the harbor so I managed to snap this photo between the trees. I wish I could have gotten the paddle wheel. The steamboat vessel cruises the Columbia and Snake Rivers along the Lewis and Clark trail.
After spending the past couple of weeks in noisy locations near or on major highways and freeways, we craved a quiet place. We made reservations at Crooked River Ranch RV Park near Redmond, Oregon and crossed our fingers that it would satisfy our craving.
On to Oregon
On Sunday, July 23, 2017, we followed the Columbia River through golden cliffs, rivers the width of small lakes, windmills on top of cliffs, a few farms, of course, and Mount Rainier poking his snowcapped peak above the terrain. In Washington, the air had a smoke haze look to it, but cleared as we entered Oregon. At one point, we could see the snowcapped peaks of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, and the Three Sisters. What a sight.
When we arrived at Crooked River Ranch RV Park, we were pleased to find that for at least three nights we would be far from any major roads.
Newberry National Volcanic Memorial Park
The next day we visited the Newberry National Volcanic Memorial Park. We arrived just in time to hear a ranger talk on the geology of the park. Afterward, we took a hike with him partially up Lava Butte, a cinder cone, where he pointed out examples of what he had discussed on the patio.
A shuttle bus took us to the top of Lava Butte where there were magnificent views of the valley below and peaks to the west. The lava flow reminded us of Craters of the Moon in Idaho.
Lava Butte erupted 7,000 years ago creating a 9 square mile lava flow. Besides Lava Butte, visitors can see Lava River Cave, Big Obsidian Flow, and Paulina Falls and Paulina Peak, which rises 7,984 feet. Hikers, horse riders, and bicyclists can enjoy the many trails within the park that range from easy to difficult. Several tent campsites are available in the Newberry Caldera and East Lake has one RV campground with 45 sites, all of which are reservable, while the tent sites have some first-come-first-served sites.
We also visited Sisters, Oregon, a small town of less than 2 square miles and a population of 2,038 as of the 2010 census. We found Sisters a quaint little town with plenty of stores to keep any shopper busy, restaurants to satisfy hunger, and places to rest at night.
A small park with a couple picnic tables was the perfect place for us to eat our packed lunch before heading to the Whychus Creek Overlook Trail.
Continuing down the road, we came across a burned out area giving way to views of the peaks.
On our way back to Crooked Ranch, we drove by alpaca grazing in a field.
There are a total of four alpaca farms in the Bend, Oregon, area. We come across a lot of cows and cattle in our travels, but this was the first time we saw alpacas.
Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint
We stopped in at the Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint in Terrebonne, Oregon. The viewpoint includes views of basalt cliffs, river, and peaks along with the closed Rex T. Barber Veterans Memorial Bridge. Several signs warn visitors to watch children at all times and leave pets in the car.
The night before leaving Crooked River Ranch, smoke drifted into the valley creating a spectacular sunset view of the hills and sky beyond the bridge.
Next up we continue searching for out of way places and Jon redeems a Christmas gift.