Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oregon, I, east to west

Thursday, August 21
It was supposed to rain overnight and maybe put out the fire. Dawn came with mostly white clouds and not a drop of rain. So we headed for Oregon. Our gas tank was near empty as we had not filled up since the 13th. We put in $100 - half a tank. Later in the day, we put in another $150. We stopped in Mountain Home to shop at Wal-Mart, our first visit this month. We then got on I84, our first interstate this month and drove just across the Idaho/Oregon border to a private CG near Huntington. It’s on the Snake River. It was late in the day, for us, when we arrived at 5PM. Dorothy cooked country fried steak and mashed potatoes. After dinner, she washed two loads of clothes while I watched the only TV station, PBS in HD. One of the shows was Idaho Outdoors. One of the featured locations was the Lolo Trail and specifically the trail to Sinque Hole, which we hiked. Another location was the Sawtooths, so we got to see them in aerial views in clear sky. Spectacular. I will have to come back in my next life and hike them before I get too old.

Friday, August 22
We went to a familiar place Baker City to see the fabulous rock and mineral collection again. We camped at a FS CG 20 miles from town. Paved pad with W&E for $13. Not bad.

The weather is perfect. Oregon is perfect. Life is good.

Saturday, August 23
We got a bonus in Baker City. The town park had over 100 collectable cars. Our favorite was a 1950 Jeep Overland. The rocks were as good as we recalled. It is the premier collection in the US housed in a back room of a museum in a town no one goes to.

Sunday, August 24
West bound on US26. Dorothy was not feeling well, so after only one and half hours we stopped at the Clyde Holiday SP near John Day. The park is garden like as they use intensive irrigation. We had cocktails with Dale and Terri from Walla-Walla.

Monday, August 25
We had a long day, 9 to almost 6. We wanted to get close to Eugene to be able to drive in early and get a third solar panel. We stopped at John Day and found we had an interest in fossils and the terrain is better than Artist Point in Death Valley. We spent a few hours, took a short hike and promised to come back and spend a week in the area.

At Sisters, I decided our GPS was routing us the long way, so we turned around and took 242, instead on continuing on 126. Big mistake, it’s one of the narrowest roads in the US with lave rocks extending into the road. The distance was shorter, but it took longer as 20 mph is a good speed for a MH on the road.

Anywho, we made it down the road and found Paradise CG, a FS facility on the McKenzie River. We were able to snare a campsite on the river and had cocktails on the riverbank and then listened to river babble all night.

Tuesday, August 26
Oregon is fantastic! We love everything about it.

We continued west on 126 to Springfield to AM Solar. Not having made an appointment we found they had two time consuming jobs ahead of us. So they let us stay in the “backyard” and will take us first thing Wednesday. We were able to do a lot of shopping and still get a nap.

Will try to watch HRC tonight. It should be hoot.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Idaho, Part I

Saturday, August 9
We have a rule never move on Friday or Saturday as most public CG’s are full. We broke the rule and escaped from the low and warm elevation back to 5,100 feet only an hour down the road. We are the Ponderosa SP in McCall, ID. Full hookups and even a fuzzy over the air TV signal. The town is on Payette Lake. The town and homes look a lot like Lake Tahoe on a smaller scale.

Sunday, August 10
A lazy day. We watched CBS Sunday Morning and then checked out a CG north of here that we will move to in the morning to be close to a place to put the yaks in the water.

Monday, August 11
We moved to the north unit of the Ponderosa SP at the upper end of Payette Lake. No hookups, TV or cell signals, but a quieter and more scenic CG. The Payette River is a joy to paddle. We paddled upstream to where the current becomes moderate and coasted home.

Tuesday, August 12
We were going to drive up in the mountains and see the Salmon River from the southern shore, but the roads became severe washboard and we turned back.

After lunch, we paddled downstream toward the lake until we were tired and turned around.

Wednesday, August 13
We headed south on ID55 along the North Fork of the Payette River and turned east on the South Fork of the Payette River. For every canyon and valley, there is a stream or river. We stopped at the ranger station and inquired about campgrounds. He suggested Bonneville and we took his suggestion. So we are in yet another campsite on stream, this one is called Warm Springs Creek. And yes, there is a hot springs you can soak in a few hundred yards up the river from the CG. We tried it and it was too hot for our taste. There are several hot springs in the area and we may sample them.

There are over 50 named Forest Service CG’s, plus numerous unnamed and free ones in the area.

Thursday, August 14
Our purpose for being in Idaho is to see jagged fin mountains and so far they have eluded us. Today we drove further east to Stanley to see if we could spot some mountains. We were rewarded, but they did not meet my expectations. We inspected Stanley Lake and Redfish Lake CG’s. The first one was not at all scenic, diseased trees had been cut and left in the CG. Redfish Lake is one fine body of water with several CG’s around the shore. All the CG’s are filled with teaming masses and the lodge is overflowing. We found Sunny Gulch CG to be more to our liking. It’s close to Redfish Lake, so we can enjoy the water without being confined with the masses.

We enjoyed a pizza at Sawtooth Luce’s cafĂ© and spotted a red Lazy Daze parked outside someone’s yard.

Friday, August 15
We really need to quit sleeping until 8am. The temperature is already warm by the time we are ready for the day.

At 10, we got off for the closest destination to us, Grandjean. We hoped for a better view of the mountains, but were again only tantalized with glimpses. We hiked an hour and twenty minutes uphill on Trail Lakes Trail, but wound up in a canyon and it appeared it would be another two hours until we could break free from the canyon and that was well beyond our limits.

When we got down, a young fellow approached me about taking him and his brother out to the highway. They had hiked that morning nearly 30 miles from Pettit-Toxaway Lake across the Sawtooths on the Idaho State Centennial Trail. His brother had injured his leg, so they were not going to be able to make the return hike. We drove them to the highway and they immediately flagged another car headed toward Stanley.

Saturday, August 16
We drove the Dagger Falls Road to see the falls and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Had we known, we could have saved our gasoline. Much of the area looks like toothpicks on hillsides, the result of a fire some years back. The river water level is so low, they stopped rafting there August 6th. Oh and the falls do not fall very far. Time to move on. We are a month late being in Idaho, water levels are down and it is too warm. Maybe we should have gone to Canada this year even with the poor exchange rate? They do have the best mountains in North America, except for Alaska.

Sunday, August 17
We drove 37 miles east to Stanley and are in the Sunny Gulch CG. It’s sunny! We are at 6,500 feet, but the high was 89. We do have internet and one TV station.

Monday, August 18
We have the only partially shaded site in Sunny Gulch and that’s the problem, not enough sun to charge the batteries. We can move a mile down the road and get an open site for free or take a more sunny site here for $7.50. We moved, but only got to 90% charge. Watching two hours of TV takes a lot of power.

We have had enough of Idaho. I was expecting a lot. I am disappointed. People here really like the scenery. We give it a B-. Wyoming is several notches above Idaho. We rate Wyoming A-. I don’t see us ever returning to Idaho.

The predicted high for today would have set a record, but for whatever reason, it was a little cooler. The hottest part of the day here is around 5pm. It starts to cool off by 9pm and is slightly chilly at 7am.

We are going a little south tomorrow - toward Sun Valley. We will spend a few more nights in the Sawtooth’s if we can find a campsite – it’s crowded here. Then we will escape to Oregon. 55 and rainy sounds good to us.

Tuesday, August 19
We finally found the scenic part of the Sawtooth’s. It’s all south of Stanley.
At the Galena Overlook, the smoke was thick from a local fire, so we will come back another day.

We found an ideal campsite next to a babbling stream, Prairie Creek. And it’s free. The closest camper is a quarter mile away. We had a great sunset toast to Ann Rosenburger’s birthday.

Wednesday, August 20
We hiked a mile to see Mountain Goats. They were there – on a hill about a mile away and about a half a mile up. If we had not had high power optics, we would have seen nothing. With the optics, we saw six white dots.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Leaving Wyoming, entering Idaho

Tuesday, July 29
We could not resist driving the Beartooth Highway again. We went all the way to Red Lodge. We had to, as we needed gas. It was cold and windy on the Wyoming side and warm on the Montana side. It was 51 on top and 83 back in the CG.

Wednesday, July 30
We drove back to west entrance of Yellowstone and made home in the first FS CG north on US287. Big rigs, electricity and weak internet. Tomorrow, we jump off the grid again.

Thursday, July 31
We headed north and west to Big Hole country. I had read that this was some of the most scenic in the Montana. It was OK. We spent a few hours at the Big Hole Battleground where the Calvary massacred some of the Nez Perce. Orders were to fire three rounds low into the tipi’s at daybreak and then charge. They killed a lot of Indians, women and children, but the warriors routed the Calvary. We spent the night in a FS CG a little further down MT 43.

Friday, August 1, 2008
We dropped down 2,500 feet real fast on a wide two-lane road and another thousand feet by the time we got to Missoula, which is at 3,100 feet. This is lower than we have been since we left Nebraska.

We spent the day in Missoula shopping in the big box stores, mostly buying things we did not really need. We took the tour of the Smoke Jumpers School. Interesting. It was almost six when we were through shopping, so we decided to spend our first night ever at Wal-Mart. The parking lot already had several rigs, so we parked behind the store. There were only four rigs there. As we left the next morning, Dorothy counted 16 rigs in the parking lot.

Saturday, August 2
We drove from Missoula to an unmarked CG named Colgate on the Lochsa River. We have the rear of the rig backed up to the babbling river. There are only seven sites here and it’s free. Mark and Dan are brothers and our neighbors. Mark worked for Jack Schaeffer for a time, he now lives just north of Portland. Dan lives in Orlando, but owns hunting property near Andalusia. They have fished most of the western rivers. They caught about 50 yesterday. They said it was some of the best fishing they had enjoyed in a long time. All catch and release here. We talked and drank until after midnight.

Sunday, August 3
We explored the road west of here, but found nothing exciting or especially scenic. We came back had a late lunch and a two hour nap. It will be quiet without Mark and Dan tonight.

Monday, August 4
I came to Idaho to see jagged fin mountains. So far I have seen one that was half-decent. We drove nine miles up a FS road to intersect the Lolo Motorway, which roughly follows the Nez Perce trail and the same route Lewis and Clark took. I wanted to “get on top” and see what the mountains looked like. At 5,000 feet we could see plenty of mountains, both north and south, but all were tree covered, no jagged peaks. And so it goes. We need to get south where the elevation is higher and there is promise of jagged peaks.

We took a one-mile hike through the forest to Sinque Hole. According to the sign this was the exact path of the Nez Perce and Lewis and Clark. The hike was good, the sink hole was not much. A 4x4 Sportsmobile passed us on the way down.

We came back down the mountain and looked for shade in the afternoon heat of 83.

We had a campfire with Myron and Irene, farmers from Alberta.

Tuesday, August 5
The sun does not get into the campsite until after 8 am, so we are sleeping late. We got away at 9:30 and continued west on US12 to Wilderness CG, where we took on fresh water, dumped, parked and showered using all the water we wanted to. We then returned and filled the water tank again and dumped the shower water.

We stopped for the day at O’Hara CG on the Selway River. This is a very popular place for reasons lost on me. The river is fine, but not exceptional. Since we are even lower now, the heat is worse. It may make 100 this afternoon.

Wednesday, August 6 – Dorothy’s birthday. We went south down yet another river valley to Riggins, ID. We had seen an ad for prime rib and Banana’s Foster at the Seven Devils Saloon’s. It sounded just right for Dorothy’s birthday dinner. It was closed. We settled on third best, a family restaurant.

Thursday, August 7
We did not see Hell’s Canyon in 2006 due to smoke from forest fires. We succeeded today. We took a 17 mile drive on a good rock road to Seven Devil’s Recreation Area and it was worth the trip. Don got to see some jagged peaks. We hiked a ½ mile uphill to Heaven’s Gate overlook and spent about 2 hours just looking at the Seven Devils and enjoying the cool temperatures. It was almost clear. We could see the Walla Mountains 50 miles across the gourge. Brad and Mary Ann who have been working on the lookout for a month said it was one of the clearest days they have seen.

Friday, August 8
We drove nearly five long hours on rock roads to get to and get back from the Ghost town of Florence. There was not much left of the 1860 town. The drive above the Salmon River did provide a few good views of the river canyon. Not one of our great touring days.

We had cocktails with two Texans who still like W, Carl and Peggy.