Sunday, May 26, 2013

Baker City, Oregon

Sunday - May 19 - Another overcast day.  I didn't feel like sitting and reading, so I started reorganizing.  Now that we have been on the road for five weeks and have eaten some of the food that I brought with us, I am able to see what we have left.  Previously food items were stuffed everywhere.  Now know what we have and where it is.  Don worked on cleaning up Pelli.  In the afternoon, we decided to take another drive trying to get a view of the Snake River from Hell's Canyon.  We did it!

This has been a great campground and we would definitely be pleased to come here again.

Monday - May 20 - We traveled to Mountain View RV Park in Baker City, Oregon for the Lazy Daze Northwest Get Together (LD NW GTG).  This is our third time in Baker City.  They have a Smithsonian quality rock collection that two sisters collected over many years.  The weather was just about perfect and we sat outside meeting old friends and making new ones.  There are some people that we went with on the LD Baja trip several years ago, along with David & Mary Gardner from San Francisco that we met last year.  A Lazy Daze GTG is like a family reunion.  We had a potluck dinners and lots of good food.  (Ann, I always make the Presbyterian Casserole and it is always a hit!)  We sat outside and had dinner - everything perfect.

Tuesday - May 21 - We awoke to another beautiful day and pleasant weather.  Pete Reed, the Wagon master, needed volunteers for help with this gathering and Don volunteered us to help with breakfast.  They have bacon, pancakes and eggs one morning and sausage, pancakes and eggs the next morning.  Len brings his large propane grill and we become short order cooks.  Yaeko Johnston is indispensable to this project as she is a bundle of happy pleasant energy.  We enjoyed ourselves. Later in the afternoon, the clouds and wind came in and the temperature dropped.  We had another good potluck, but we ate inside this time.

Wednesday - May 22 - Our photographers did not make an early appearance this morning for breakfast, so just take my word for it because it's the truth - we cooked breakfast in the snow - big snow flakes sometimes.  It wasn't cold and we enjoyed it although we did eat inside.  We went with the Gardner's to the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.  This is a very well done center.  It explains what the emigrants faced traveling to Oregon.  In the movies, the covered wagons are roomy.  The truth is that are about the size of a van and certainly do not have any amenities.  Can you imagine leaving your family and friends, to never see them again and pack only essentials to keep you alive.  They traveled 1,950 miles.  We travel in such comfort now.  It stayed cold and damp all day so we had the last potluck inside again.

11 Baker City 05 11 Baker City 01

                         Intrepid Pioneers                                                         Baker City

Thursday - May 23 - We said goodbyes and headed, along with David & Mary, to Union Creek CG about 16 miles from Baker City to wait out the Memorial Day weekend.  We got there early and found campsites.  A lot of the sites were reserved.  We had potluck leftovers with the Gardner’s.  It's too cold to sit outside.  That's a shame because this is a good campground.  The spaces are not close together and have tables, grills and fire pits.  Maybe another day.

Friday - May 24 - A cool and dreary day.  We stayed inside except that we each took a short walk, mine was shorter.  But on the positive side, Don cooked his delicious spaghetti and Dave & Mary came over for dinner.

Saturday - May 25 - We all headed to Sumpter, OR for their annual flea market sale.  This is a big deal in this area.  I was hoping for something like the one in south Texas, but this was more like a very large garage sale.  We did not buy anything but grilled brats from the Sumpter Fire Department.  One thing that we noticed was the number of well behaved dogs and it was fun to watch them.

Sunday - May 26 – Periods of sun mixed with rain.

For a delightful account, with pictures, of our days in and around Baker City, see Mary’s and David’s blogs.

On to the Palouse area of Washington Monday.

Weather – We have had weather. Two weeks back it was Spring, even hot some days. The last 10 days and the next 10 days will be cloudy with a little rain. The satellites show clouds all the way across the northern Pacific to China. I think that Kim guy in N. Korea is screwing with the weather.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Into The Land Of Lava Flows And The Snake River

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.


Another account of our all too short stay on the swell, by Dana and Cathie.


Monday, May 13 - West of Yellowstone is lava land – stretching all the way to the Pacific coast. If you have seen one metamorphic basalt flow then you have seen them all. So why did we go out of the way to reach Craters of the Moon NM in south central Idaho? Well, it’s one of the few places in the parks system that we have not visited. And I wanted to know if it was better than I imagined. It is better. Slightly so. It is at the foot of the Lost River range and south of it is the wide Snake River Plain.

How do you photograph dark colored rock?

07 Craters of the Moon 03 07 Craters of the Moon 04 07 Craters of the Moon 06

A comment on the extra branches in the far right picture. It’s called Witches Broom. We had seen the odd growth before, but now we know it caused by a parasitic lichen. The lichen sucks a lot of energy out of the host tree, but emits hormones to excite the tree to grow, hence the many branches.

One more comment, the Park Service is always protective of everything. At the moon, they remind you to stay on the trails to prevent damage to the basalt. Considering that there are thousands of miles of basalt it seems rather overboard. In one place, on a foot path, they left a piece of basalt about the size of a football in place and poured concrete around it. 

It was a long driving day. We left our place near Logan, UT and toyed with stopping after two hours or so. After considering we will need some place to hole up for the weekend we decided to make the four-hour drive to the Moon in one leg. It took six hours and we almost did not make it. We were both groggy by late morning and the temp was 85, so an afternoon nap was not in the cards. I saw the rig drift all the way into the oncoming lane and yelled before we left the road. She caught it and we stayed on the road. Fortunately Route 26 is a lonely road and there was no oncoming traffic.

Tuesday, May 14 – Having a few extra days before we need to arrive in Baker City, we noted the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. We like raptors, it has more raptors than any place in the US and since it’s BLM land parking is free. We have not found the alleged campground, but we did find a great parking place on the river and the horizon stretches for ever.

08 Snake River 05The Snake River from near our parking spot 

Wednesday, May 15 - Today we moved to Mack's Creek CG. This is a COE camp along the Boise River. The canyon isn't very deep but it is certainly impressive. The walls are rolling hills covered with yellow wildflowers that look much like daisies. The river is green. It's great to sit at our campsite and look across the river and see so much green. It's a small campground, only five RV sites, which is what we love. We have a nice Ramada where I have spent some time today. One thing we did after lunch was drive to Idaho City. It was a gold mining town in the 1860's and had over 6,000 residents. Things dried up in 1942 because of the war. Today there are about 450 residents, but some of the old buildings still exist. It's been a very interesting and relaxing day.

08 Snake River 09 A section of the dammed up Boise River across from our parking spot

08 Snake River 0608 Snake River 07

Beautiful downtown Idaho City. In 1862 it was the largest city in the NW and produced more gold than any other place.

Before we left Boise, we toured the state capital. We have visited about half of the western state capitals. Normally, we learn a bit of local history in the process. Idaho’s is modeled on the US capital. Here, and at many Idaho buildings we have seen the black POW/MIA flag flying. In fact, even Idaho Power CG’s fly the POW/MIA flag.

BTW, Boise shows all kinds new growth. The Costco parking lot was more than double the normal size and it was full by 11am. This one had a garden shop and a car wash.

09 Boise 01a 09 Boise 05

Thursday, May 16 – Another day of driving. This time from east of Boise NW into Hell’s Canyon. We have approached the canyon from two different directions before, but this is the first time into the heart of the beast. We are parked in a delightful CG operated by Idaho Power. If this were private, the price would be north of $40. We have a pull thru with W&E and free Wi-Fi. [3 to 6 Mbps] The Snake River is downhill about 60 yards through lush green grass. Oh yeah, we can wash the vehicles here.

10 Hell's Canyon 01

Dorothy needs to veg, so we will hang here until we move to Baker City Monday for the NW GTG. Look closely and you can see Dorothy under the tree.

Friday, May 17 – It rained - we vegged. I did manage to get my princess to go into the hamlet of Halfway and do laundry.

Saturday, May 18 – The Wx report says partly cloudy for the next 10 days and also cooler. At 7am there are raindrops on the roof. Grump!

By 10, we had cabin fever, so clouds be damned we wanted to see what we could of the canyon. We drove 22 miles on the Idaho Power built and maintained asphalt road to the last dam. Beyond there, there are no roads and a permit is required to be on the river. As we returned little patches of blue sky inched larger.

10 Hell's Canyon 07 10 Hell's Canyon 08 10 Hell's Canyon 10

After lunch and a nap, there was only 50% cloud cover so I decided to take the Kleinschmidt Grade to Sheep Rock. Here is how one web site describes the road.

The truck’s tires on the driver’s side were inches from the edge of a 1,000-foot drop-off while the side-view mirror on the passenger side came pretty close to scraping a craggy rock wall. One thing about the Kleinschmidt Grade, you’ve got to keep looking uphill in anticipation of other rigs while looking for turnouts. That’s not easy as the road winds in hairpin turns and climbs about 2,200 feet in less than 5 miles.

Well that sounded great to us. Phooey! The gravel road is actually smoother than most interstates, the width is 1.5 to 2 lanes most of the way and can be driven in any passenger car at speeds of 35mph. About as exciting as going through a car wash. The only car we encountered on the way up was the Sherriff. We had some fine views as we climbed.

10 Hell's Canyon 19 10 Hell's Canyon 20

So we get 17 miles in and come to this.

10 Hell's Canyon 15

So at only 6,505 feet and 42 degrees, we make a seven point turn around and descend. Defeated again.

We have tried Hell’s Canyon three times. First, from the Oregon side from Imanaha to Hat Point. Smoke from a distant fire got so bad we had to turn around. Another year we tried from Seven Devils on the Idaho side. We made it to the end of the road, but the canyon had smoke from two fires reducing visibility less than a mile.

Factoid: In the late 1880s, entrepreneur Albert Kleinschmidt built the road to haul copper and gold from the Seven Devils area to the Snake River. He wanted to haul the ore by boat upriver to Huntington, Ore.  That did not work out as the boat he had built to haul the ore could not manage the rapids.

An upside to the day was our first sighting on a bear in the wild. We don’t count any animal by the side of the road that is accustomed to people. The animal must be surprised, and flee to be counted by us. Dorothy spied a bear with a golden coat of hair browsing in a meadow. He threw up dirt in his run to get away from us, first cross hill, then dashing across the road and down into thick tree cover. Not so far away, near Riggins, ID, we saw our only wild bull moose.\

Amusing history about the place we are, that was once Copperfield, OR, The wildest town on Oregon. There is the story about one Texas Ranger being dispatched to handle a riot. When he arrived the Sherriff is reported to have asked “There is only one of you?” and the ranger replied “There is only one riot.” The Oregon governor sent his 5’4” inch private secretary and six guardsmen to shut down a town and it was done in an hour. More here.

 Sunday, May 19 – It was 100% cloudy from dawn to after nap. I wanted to do the Hess Road, one of those goes up the side of the canyon roads, but I was strongly counseled not to as it would be low-gear 4WD after the rain. Of course I am thinking just what I like. While I pondered it, I washed the Jeep. Then someone strongly suggested we take the road to the Overlook. Hmmmm, cloudy, Jeep clean, do I want to trash the Jeep for a view or take a paved road to the Overlook. I will just say that the Overlook was impressive. 6,500 feet, no snow, and a 180 degree view. If only the clouds had lifted on the Idaho side so the Seven Devils Mountains showed up.

10 Hell's Canyon 21 10 Hell's Canyon 25

Tomorrow, we will be in Baker City with 39 other Lazy Daze.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Last Days In Utah

A Cloudy day on the Swell

05 San Rafaul Reef 15

As we pulled out to leave, I saw this in the side mirror. I grabbed the camera and got out as fast as I could. It was already fading and lasted less than a minute. It’s a keeper.

The San Rafael Swell has some of the most bizarrely twisted, uplifted and eroded rocks in Utah. There are canyons, domes, pictographs and petroglyphs. Everything we like. We have poked around the Swell before, but have yet to spend enough time there.

05 San Rafaul Reef 23 

Tuesday, May 7 - Although we would have loved staying in the San Rafael Swell longer, the weather was not going to cooperate with us.  We never drive on interstates if we can avoid them, but today was the exception. We wanted to drive the scenic 75 miles of I-70 along the Swell. This area is breath-taking in it's beauty. There are many scenic view areas and each one must be taken. Also, there are no signs that you can't overnight, but 10:00 a.m. seemed a bit early to stop for the day. This is definitely a "Must Do Again" area. It took us 2 1/2 hours to drive the 75 miles. We arrived in Payson, UT mid-afternoon and parked at Wal*Mart where we shopped and spent the night. We had TV reception after three weeks without.

Wednesday, May 8 - The first order of business was to go to Utah Trikes, where we bought the trike, Trixie, and have her checked out. They made a  minor adjustment and cleaned all of the red dirt out off her and she certainly did have red dirt. We stopped at Costco to get some things. Then we moved on to the Salt Lake City area. Right now we are camped at Rockport State Park about 35 miles east of Salt Lake City. This is a decent state park on a lake. The sites are asphalt and there is a concrete pad with table, grill, fire pit and Ramada. There is also grass and trees. We have a fast internet connection and 13 TV channels. We had the place to ourselves the first two days. All of this for only $10 per night. The entertaining thing in the campground are the magpies. They are big and beautiful.  There are pikas that have dug large holes, so the magpies go into the holes and retrieve worms and insects. 

Thursday, May 9 - We went into Salt Lake City, drove around for a little while and stopped at the Court House. This is a beautiful building. We had been to the State Capitol last year, but missed the Court House.  The important stop was the Red Iguana for lunch. We ate there twice last year.  Don had Mole Coloradito - Pine nuts, almonds, dried chile chiuacle, guajillo chile blended with fresh chile poblano and Mexican chocolate - served over grilled pork loin. I had Mole Negro - dried chile mulato, negro pasilla, Mexican chocolate, raisins, peanuts, walnuts & bananas tossed with chicken. Don't ask what a lot of this stuff is. All we can say is that it is very delicious. We may go back Saturday for lunch. We also had a first in town – a Wal-Mart with a covered two floor parking deck! 

06 SLC 01 06 SLC 02

If you like Gothic, this courthouse is for you. Note the column details from 1894.

06 SLC 05

Flowers around Temple Square

Friday, May 10 – Another trip into SLC to eat at The Star of India. Good, but not excellent. By 7, the campground was full for the weekend.

Saturday, May 11 – We had lunch at Mazza, a Lebanese establishment. Marvelous fare.

Sunday, May 12 – We drove an hour north and spent the afternoon and night at Anderson Cove near Logan. It was a glorious afternoon and both rode Trixie around the paved and level campground.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Continuing In Moab

Monday, April 29 - Our adventure today was to find the Secret Spire. Jeep roads are rated 1 - 5 with 5 being a metal bender. We can handle most that are rated 3. This road is rated 2. We had vague directions, but the main problem is that the roads aren't labeled with signs, Glenda is clueless and the so is Delorme. The first mile or so was a washboard road, but after that it was a fine dirt road, then it became a little less fine, then it was a slick rock road with low steps and then a sandy wash. But we found the Secret Spire. It's a OK spire in the middle of a flat area. It was the adventure of finding it plus we got in a Jeeping experience again. 03c Secret Spire 04

On the return trip, we had a much better road and saw some good dispersed camping sites that are suitable for large rigs. The only problem is no cell phone coverage. [Dubrinski Well Road off Spring Canyon Road]

Tuesday, April 30 - Today was a maintenance day - dump tanks, get propane, get groceries, try to find another 12 volt back-lighted clock. For lunch, we went to one of the city parks then had a little nap. Love small Utah towns. We stopped at the Senior Center which is very nice and they have a book exchange so I got a few more book. Wish I could find something like that in Montgomery. We sat outside and it was a very pleasant day, a little warm. Late at night the wind really kicked up.  Koko was so clean we we left town 16 days ago, now there is a layer of red dust coating stuff.

Wednesday, May 1 - A cool & breezy day, but a very good one. Dale Ellis and his daughter-in-law, Debbie, came down from Grand Junction for a visit. We met Dale last year when he came to look at Koko because he was considering buying a LD, which he did. Before they got here, I cleaned the tricycle, which I have named Trixie, because she was really dirty. When they arrived we went sightseeing. We took the La Sal mountain loop counter-clockwise which makes it a quite different road. We wound up at Arches National Park for a picnic lunch. It was a very clear day and the scenery was spectacular. Arches happens to be one of my favorite parks. We returned home so I could make us coffee. Dan & Barb Adamson, a fellow LD couple, were there for few minutes and will come back and visit later. The wind finally died down and we had wine and campfire with neighbors, Dana & Cathie. It was a very good day.

Thursday, May 2 - We swapped Moab books with Dana & Cathie for the evening so we found a trail or two to explore.  The first trail we tried, Behind The Rocks, was not for Pelli, but the second trail we took to Lone Rock has Balcony Arch and Picture Window Arch. We drove that way last year but missed going around Lone Rock to Picture Window Arch. More beautiful scenery. This afternoon I road Trixie around the CG. There is a paved trail that I must do before we leave!

03f Lone Rock 07 03f Lone Rock 11

Friday, May 3 - We drove out Kane Creek Road, which is paved for a good ways, then turns to gravel. It's a narrow, windy road but not bad at all.  There were a lot of people camping along the way. We went as far as the Hurrah Pass where we had some great overlooks. I even got out of the Jeep and walked around for a little bit.  Really need the exercise. On the way back we stopped at Amass Back. This is a Jeeping trail that is very difficult. We got there just in time to watch someone being winched out. The rest of the Jeeps we saw simply climbed over the rocks. Ours isn't equipped to do anything close to that. To give you an idea of busy Moab is, when we stopped at Subway for lunch, Don asked how many sandwiches they had made. They said that the previous Saturday they made 103 in one hour!

Saturday, May 4 - We are leaving Moab tomorrow, so this day was dedicated to chores. That included dumping tanks, laundry, and grocery shopping. Moab is a small town but has a really great grocery store. And it is a very busy store. It must be the most productive of the City Market chain.

Sunday, May 5 – We moved a little west of Moab to near Goblin Valley. The last time we were in the area, we missed Horse Thief Canyon and it being a narrow slot, we wanted to hike it. We found a marvelous parking place above an arroyo with a million dollar view of the San Rafael Swell in our backyard. The only thing to spoil the day were periodic high winds that pick up the dirt so you can eat it. We are parked with Dana and Cathie who we met in at Goose Island. We don’t normally hike in the middle of the day, but Dana was ready and I reasoned that the light might be better in narrow canyon with the sun overhead. So off we went.

Dorothy had problems right away as boulders filled the narrow canyon entrance. We went up and then down into the canyon. After all that she was out of platformate. She parked herself on a flat rock and took a nap. I went up the canyon a ways and was surprised to see her smiling and heading toward me as I returned. I turned around and escorted her up to the first of the just wide enough to walk through section and she was happy. Not too long after that Dana and Cathie caught up with us on the way back to the trail head.04 Horse Thief Canyon 0604 Horse Thief Canyon 08

The wind increased after dinner and we were all bushed, so no campfire. We had a lighting fast internet connection and streamed 60 Minutes. 

Monday, May 6 – We woke up at 6:45 to a splendid sunrise painting the Navaho sandstone of the swell in soft colors . By 7, clouds filled the sky and we could see rain trying, but not making it to the ground north of us. Our internet connection went from fast to slow to not even there.

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Nearby is some rock art. We marveled at the breast plate design of the warrior from a distance. When we looked at the picture, we noted two things. In 1977, Rob felt it necessary to inscribe his name on the painting. We hope Rob dies painfully. Second, the design was made by a rifle. A pox on the shooter.

05 San Rafaul Reef 11 05 San Rafaul Reef 12

In the late afternoon water hit the surface. A check of weather maps shows a series of clouds all the way to the Pacific. The forecast chance for rain is 30-40%  for the next few days. Rain in the Spring in Utah? Amazing. Not taking any chances, we moved a mile or so to get off the dirt road. Since if the ground gets saturated and soupy, we would not be moving until it dried.