Saturday, September 27, 2014

Enough Wilderness Areas

We have enough Wilderness Area’s. In case you don’t know these are federal lands off-limit except to hikers. Have a physical disability, tough, no access for you. Only those with best genes/ prime of fitness are allowed in. Sounds discriminatory to me. Probably not to those want a private experience on public lands.

They are very popular with the greenies. Many are established by You Sue, We Settle technique. All you need are folks who want to control access to federal lands in the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Parks Service, etc. A suit is filed to restrict lands and they agree and settle.

Since mechanized vehicles are not allowed into WA’s, there is no need for roads. Fires in WA’s can not be fought with mechanized means. Most WA’s borders are National Forest and Parks, so fires easily spread from one to another.

How much land is already designated as Wilderness Area’s? This 2004 map is the latest one I could locate and so it’s out date. The higher saturated colors are WA’s. See legend.

Here is a list by state.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Return Trip

Backing up a week or so. When we left central Oregon for the coast we found fog. We delayed a few days, but the fog hung around and the forecast was for more of the same, so we turned inland, kissing off the northern California coast for another time.

US299 is a great drive in our opinion. It winds along one river after another. The big difference between mountain rivers and the ones in the south are that the latter get confused on which way is downhill, so they just lay there. When the elevation is dropping 200 feet a mile, water flows fast and canyons are carved.

Along with the cascading rivers we had light smoke in every canyon from one side of the state to the other.

We met a delightful young couple from Holland who had just arrived in the states after working nine months in New Zealand. They were going to spend two months touring the western states before flying home. So polite, so well mannered. So unlike many Europeans we encounter.

The Whiskeytown reservoir is a jewel. I wanted to spend several days in the area, but it was hot and then Dorothy did a slip and fall. We spent the evening at the ER getting back to the RV at midnight and left early in the morning. We spent the next evening with some friends in Susanville and then got serious about getting home. The thought of dealing with a one-armed woman in pain for the next 6-8 weeks in our RV was just not appealing.

BTW, the Whiskeytown reservoir is at full pool while the nearby Lake Shasta is way down. The former is federal and while it has a 19 foot diamater tunnel drilled through 10 miles of rock, they are keeping all the water right where it is.

As soon as we left Susanville, we saw more smoke. In fact, we did not get out of smoke until we reached the Mojave Desert at the other end of the state. We over-nighted in Lee Vining at their community center and tried not to look at Mono Lake as the sun set.

The next night we spent in the freaking Mojave. Every time we manage to get stuck there. Thankfully, it’s the smallest of the four deserts because it sure suxs. We spent a total of four nights in California rather than the planned 3/4 weeks. Even without Dorothy falling we would not have spent much time there because of the smoke and high temps. And so it goes.

We normally don’t drive over 4 hours a day, but I wanted to get home and I pushed myself to do 6 and 7 hour drives, which winds up taking from 7 until 4 with lunch and rest stops. My I say my ass was sore everyday.

The fourth day of the exodus was on the high plateau of northern Arizona, in Williams. Cooler. but we opted for a private campground with a nice shower – one big enough for Dorothy and her cast. Gas prices in CA were around $4, in Arizona about $3.30. But, in Williams the local cabal marked it up 85/95 cents besting CA prices. Gas in Meridian, MS was $2.93. woohoo.

Perhaps the only scenery we saw on the return trip were the pink cliffs around Gallup, NM. Well, there are the miles of signs advising you that just ahead you can buy Indian moccasins and stuff imported from Mexico.

Another six hour drive got us to Albuquerque, then the west Texas town of Memphis, then the east Texas town of Tyler. It was here that we woke up to dew and humidity. Back to the land where ROW’s are regularly mowed and trees block the view to the horizon.

I relied on Glenda to route us through Dallas. Thanks to her, we found out that there are more freeways there than in LA. We barely avoided two collisions in the combat driving conditions. It did not help that I was tired. It took over 90 minutes to transit the cities. Construction was underway every few miles with lane closures. About half-way through I wondered why Glenda did not use the easy way I35W to I20. I just did not have the time to drive and navigate.

Our last night was between Jackson and Meridian. So we made it back in 10 hops. That’s moving at light speed for us. And we are worn out.  Our daughter, Alecia, and oldest grandson,Bennett, cleaned the house for us and all we had to do was crash on our bed until Alecia brought over a meal.

Dorothy will see her surgeon Friday morning.

We are already thinking about our next trip, the top of the new year, to San Diego and the local environs. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Premature End

Dorothy fell Monday and fractured her wrist. Surgery is required but can not take place until after the swelling goes down. We are terminating the trip to have the surgery done at home

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The nurse proving to Dorothy that it really really hurts

Parked tonight in Lee Vining. We will attack the Mojave Friday. So looking forward to crossing the country this time of year. Where is the transporter when you really need it?

We have seen smoke from distant fires in every valley we have been through in California. Today the smoke from the Yosemite fire could be seen in Reno over 120 miles away.

Filled up the tank in Brookings, Oregon. That got us to Redding, CA where we found one station selling for $3.66 while the prevailing price was $3.90-4.00. That got us to Carson City, NV where Costco was selling it for $3.55. A station in Bridgeport was offering all you want for $4.86. Anywho, we can get to the Indian station in Bishop tomorrow and that should take us to loverly Barstow. Thankfully, the Golden State will not get much gas tax from us.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


Not a thing exciting this week.

Leaving Sisters starts the return trip. It’s all south and east from here on. KoKo has been 5,700 miles so far. Our average parking cost has been $10.40. About the same as last year.

I closed the last post saying we decided not to trip and fall in a cave and would instead head west for 101 and turn south. That plan lasted almost an hour. As we descended the west side of the Cascades we decided to stop for a night at one of our fav CG’s, Paradise on the McKenzie River. We are nestled under a canopy of Doug Firs so that only a ray or two of sunlight reaches us. The river gurgles along and muffles all sound. Glorious.

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While enjoying the forest, we remembered that we had not been to Tillicum Beach. One of our fav CG’s and also of everyone else with an RV. It’s still on reservations, but we figured what the heck we could try for a spot. We parked KoKo at the Three Feathers Casino in Florence and drove up to Tillicum in Rubi. No home for us there, but we enjoyed the ride along the coast on a crystal clear day.

We stayed a second night at Three Feathers, simply because we don’t want to get to California until Sunday so we can hopefully find a place to park. Freaking holidays. Drove all the way from Florence to Gold Beach in one day. It’s only 3.5 hours, but it took us several weeks to cover the same distance northbound. First stop was the fish store. Dorothy got three pieces of salmon and some ling cod. Having salmon tonight. They vacuum sealed the rest and it will be frozen. Parked on the Rouge River again.

We continued south a whole 37 miles stopping at Fred Meyer for gas and groceries before crossing into the Golden State. A marine layer moved in yesterday afternoon and the forecast is for it to hang around. Fog depresses us, so we are going to head inland and hope to dodge some fires and stay at some places on our bucket list since 2006. We will keep the coastal places on our list until another time.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Central Oregon Continued

We are trying to stay away from places we have been before in this area. But, it is difficult as we can not remember if we have been there or not. I saw a picture of a waterfall in a travel brochure last week and decided we needed to go there. Quite by accident, I saw a picture I took in 2010 of the same waterfall. In two more years, I will not remember if I have ever been to Oregon – where we have spent over 200 nights since we retired.

In 1996 we did a fly and drive exploration trip out here. Well, I did not drive much as the husband of the couple we were with loved to drive. I knew we went to some state park around Bend, but could not recall which one. I could recall a suspension bridge across a river. Well, we found Cove Palisades the other day and it was had two suspension bridges. One across the Deschutes and the second over the Crooked River.

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Today, we took the half-hour long drive from Sisters into Bend and then u-turned back west to the eastern side of the Cascades. We stopped before we got to known familiar haunts and hiked two lakes that we had driven past many times before. Why didn’t we paddle the yaks on these lakes the last time we were here???

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                      Todd Lake                                                                  Sparks Lake

What we planned to do today was aborted when I came down with a nine-hour bug. I was OK by lunch. The temp dropped and we sat outside sharing a Doppel Dinkel Bock. The label assured us that dinkel malt, rather than wheat malt, was used and it would bring out the Barvarian in us. I don’t know about that, but it was really filling and I passed on dinner. Drink more beer, lose more weight?

In our five times to this area, we never made it Smith Rock. Big mistake. It’s great. The best rocks in Oregon. Had I made it here when I was younger and fitter I am sure I could have made it up Misery Ridge. First, you go down 400 feet, then up 800 feet in 2/3 of a mile. I made it up to my starting level across the parking and knew beyond any doubt that I could not make the next set of switchbacks. In defeat, I started down, dizzy, then collapsed - prostrate on the narrow trail - for a long time. I had been drinking water, so I guess I was just not whole after the bacteria fight the previous day. I made it down in short legs, stopping to watch a couple climb the sheer rock face. I made back up the 400 feet to the parking lot, found Dorothy sitting under a shade tree reading.  I laid down next to the tree and guzzled two bottles of cool water. Dana, you could probably jog up this trail. I saw several doing just that.

We may go back and hike the flat canyon trail and river trails. Well, flat if you don’t count the 400 feet down and back up. You can see the river trail in the picture below.

12 - Oregon167Smith Rock - The shot everyone takes from the parking lot.

Best lunch of my lifeCrux Fermentation Project – Woke up to a sky of clouds. An excellent day to go into Bend. We had two friends say this was a great place for lunch. It is. Thanks Gayle and Carolyn. Food prepared in a different way. Flavors were divine. The beer was not bad either. We especially like the Banished Doublecross. A dark barrel aged Belgian. We had some with lunch and came away with two bottles. A bit pricey at $13 a bottle. [Their description: Aged for a year in Oregon pinot noir barrels, our dark Belgian-style ale develops complex flavors reminiscent of dried fruit, vanilla and sherry. The French oak provides tannic counterbalance to the syrupy dark candy sugar]

On the way back we stopped by Deschutes and got two more bottles of their Not Too Stoic ale and at the Bend Distillery Dorothy got another bottle of the Hazelnut Vodka. The rig is full of bottles and our bank account is lower.

Back to Smith Rock – We liked this place so much we went back today to get some more pictures in morning light, which only lasts a short time there. We did the River Walk.

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The River Trail at Smith Rock                              An eight year girl doing what kids do - climbing

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The Deschutes River at Dillon Falls            The Crooked River with the Sisters in the background

12 - Oregon202Always wanted a farm of Alpaca’s, Llama’s and Vicuna’s. There were hundreds of Alpaca’s on this farm.

We had planned to start south by way of Cave Junction. Yesterday, I read more about the cave and the 500 steps with uneven footing made me decide that was no place for Dorothy. So we will go back to 101 and drift south picking up a fish or two for Dorothy.

Until next time.