creative endeavors of Judy Tilley

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2014-04 WA/OR/NV/CA 3/6

Day 8/Monday/April 14:
This morning I walked the .3 mile down the paved trail to the base of Burney Falls. It was a steep descent in a few spots but stairs were provided. I am glad I did as I concentrated on the springs that were seeping from the porous rock under and around the main falls. Using my Singh-Ray variable neutral density filter I was able to slow the water to a cotton candy effect. The green vegetation brightened the scene and a few glistening logs provided a contrast.

After hiking back up to the top, we dumped our holding tank. However, the winter drought in California brought water restrictions so the fresh water was unavailable.

I realized that we should have come down 139 from Klamath Falls then east on 299 rather than followed 140 east to Lakeview, 395 south to Alturas and 299 east. Since fuel is so expensive in California, it would have been wiser. We barely made it to Alturas for the $4.25 a gallon diesel. We had about 25 miles to spare before empty.

Our next destination was an agate and petrified rock source just south of Cedarville in the Surprise Valley on the east side of the Warner Mountains. Cedarville is a ranch town with wooden and brick buildings. Just south of the cemetery we turned up a county/USFS road to explore. We passed a few ranches and the well-maintained road followed a stream.

We looked around for petrified wood and agates but since it was published information, the area had been picked over. We did find a few scattered along the stream.

There were a few established campsites along the road but we chose a spot where we would get morning sun. We met an archeologist with the Cedarville BLM office walking with her dogs. Her 3 legged dog could keep up with his buddy. She said that this part of the Warner Mountains south of 299 was wilderness so that explained the large pines surrounding us.

We set up camp, ate dinner and fell asleep listening to an owl and the stream.

Day 9/Wednesday/April 16:
A stop at the Cedarville BLM office confirmed that Nevada highway 34 is a well-maintained graded gravel road. Rather than drive 447 to Gerlach, Nevada, which is paved, we opted to drive 34 for rock hounding opportunities and view the George Lund Petrified Forest. And, just for a change of scenery. The BLM ranger told us that the gate for the High Rock Canyon would be closed until the second week in May so that side trip would have to be postponed. Access is off 34 so it would have been nearby. That canyon and other remote areas are why we drive a 4×4 with the off
road package.

From Cedarville, you follow 299 to the Nevada/California border where it becomes 8A. We saw no trespassing signs for a White Pines Ranch Corporation posted frequently for miles. No cattle so possibly mineral extraction or a tax write off? When we turned south on 34 the signs were still posted on the barb wire fence. We encountered little traffic, just a few pickups, a road grader, and a cattle hauler.

We stopped on the road for a stretch and found lots of broken obsidian. We took a single track rocky road to investigate a canyon with aspens thinking that there may have been a homestead. Instead we found a few campsites and some interesting rocks, mostly jasper? There was a small spring we crossed where the aspens grew. There was a cave in the rocks near the stream.

Returning to 34, the petrified forest site came up quickly. 15 million years ago Giant Sequioas stood where there is now desert scrub. The logs were enclosed in wire fencing due to prior vandalism. We picked up a few Apache tears along the road; later we discovered their source in a county gravel pit.

Highway 34 eventually became paved and soon we were at the Black Rock Desert Playa. We drove down the Mile 8 playa access road to camp for the night. I walked quite a ways out on the white surface to find a foreground without tire tracks. The wispy clouds didn’t allow for any wall hangers even using the Singh-Ray warming polarizer. The mountains soon were out of the rays of the setting sun losing detail. The spare clouds turned pink but nothing as spectacular as last October.

I wandered back to the camper in the quiet, walked the dog, ate supper and went to bed.

Day 10/Thursday/April 17:
Today we awoke to a bright blue sky and a chilling wind. After breaking camp and walking the dog, we headed for the small town of Gerlach to check out the back road conditions to Smoke Creek/Sand Pass route which would eventually skirt along the west side of Pyramid Lake. We also wanted to visit the Cui-Ui fish hatchery which raises that fish endemic to the lake. Neither the BLM office nor the Friends of Black Rock were open so we headed down 447 to Fernley for fuel and points further south and west.

We encountered little traffic until Fernley. We fueled up at the 76 station on highway 50 (diesel at $3.79) then continued east to Fallon on a nice 4 lane divided road. At Fallon we left 50 to travel 95 south to Hawthorne and Walker Lake for lunch. Most traffic consisted of semis, including a 3 trailer rig and numerous returning snowbirds haul huge fifth wheelers. We ate on the shores of Walker Lake at 20 Mile Beach. Great view of the mountains reflected in the water. A few small (7″) lizards joined us.

Back on 95, we turned onto Nevada highway 359 toward Mono Lake and highway 395. We again encountered little traffic. Along the way there was a large US Army bomb disposal area that looked heavily guarded. A sign marked it as a demolition site; public not welcome. A road that led to some buildings went further in to a canyon where excavation was partially hidden by a ridge. We still gained altitude until we reached our highest pass so far at Anchorite Pass at 7626′.

We followed Cemetary Road where we went down a dirt road to the lake but couldn’t remember where it was. And, yes, there is a cemetary on the road. We could see the lake and the snowy Sierra Nevada range. The lake was a beautiful aqua green. We arrived at 395 and headed south to the Mono Lake Visitor Center. The ranger informed us that 120 West into Yosemite was closed as were the campgrounds. He showed us a dispersed camping map for camping off of 120 East. He also answered that the lake color was from the algae. The shrimp that eat the algae were just emerging from hibernation so the algae was plentiful.

Our next stop was Navy Beach to check out photo ops. The tufas weren’t as plentiful there. We did watch an osprey fly by with a twig for nest-building. The main birds had not yet arrived such as the Terns and seagulls.

South Tufa is a short drive from Navy Beach on a better road although still gravel. I walked the path down to the water and the main tufas. The light was spotty and this location really is a morning shot with tufas as foreground, the lake in the middle and the Sierra range as a back drop. Also, the wind quiets down and the lake is calmer. I shot a few telephotos then returned to the truck.

There was some idiot who brought a remote-controlled spaceship to the water and actually flew it out over the water in a nature preserve with sensitive species. I called him on it but the guy was an a$$h0le who didn’t care. It also annoyed the hell out of me as I like quiet when in beautiful places photographing. He finally left and went down another road to start up again.

As we needed a camping spot for the night, we drove east on 120 and found a previously used campsite off a forest service road. We are in Inyo National Forest which has the usual mix of pines and bunny brush. The pines glowed as the setting sun hit them. We ate our soup and went to bed. It was getting dark and a walk would have to wait until morning.

Day 11/Friday/April 18:
I just missed the alpenglow on the Sierra range by a few minutes. I did a few good images as the rising sun lit up the tufas and the mountains. The lake wasn’t as calm as I would have preferred initially but later there were some passable reflections.

It was quiet and beautiful until some idiot started up his drone and flew it overhead. Another photographer was there who was also annoyed. I mean you are enjoying some nice light and the quiet when a loud buzzing intrudes. He said if he had his shotgun, he would shoot it down. We noticed a pair of pelicans in the water and an osprey was still gathering twigs for a nest. As of April 1, people are not allowed to be within 200 yards of the nesting birds.

We returned to the Mono Lake Visitor Center to ask about legalities and why this intrusive activity was allowed. We were told it was legal and under FAA jurisdiction. However, there may be some changes to where these buzzing pests can be flown.

Down 395 through the exits for Yosemite, June Lakes loop, Mammoth, Crowley Lake and Convict Lake. 395 is 4 lanes from Lee Vining to a Bishop and is nicely engineered. Any vehicle pulling a trailer or fifth wheel has a 55 mph speed limit so we passed a few of them. Surprisingly few semis. Bishop was our destination for fuel, Tony’s meds, and groceries. The really nice ladies at the Von’s grocery store allowed me to fill our 4 water jugs with what they call the best water anywhere. It is from the streams that flow from the Sierra range and it has no off taste at all. It was really hot in Bishop and we enjoyed the heat that we may get in August.

Highway 6 would take us north out of town and into Nevada. Some large ranches sat at the base of the White Mountains on our right. In fact, the roads were named after the ranches. We were surprised at the many semis driving toward Bishop. Usually these roads have only local traffic.

Boundary Peak, Nevada’s highest mountain, was snow covered, it is visible from the highway. We passed Benton and the start of 120 west to Mono Lake. We also drove by the burned out abandoned former house of ill repute. The land is for sale. A few wild horses were visible, part of the Montgomery herd. They look fit and healthy. Montgomery Pass, at 7167, was easily driven up but whoops down we go for 8 miles at 6% grade. Our turnoff for 264 was next which would lead us to some colorful hills and the back roads leading to them.

At the junction with 773, we turned north and shortly found our rock hounding destination. The road was a sandy, gritty single lane that lead over a wash, up a small hill and around to where only shorter based vehicles would dare to venture. We were greeted by some gorgeous rock formations in pastel colors of pink, mint green, and tan. It was hot but we wandered around finding some interesting rocks. There were some big black rain clouds around Boundary Peak (we were on the east side) and we were pelted with intermittent rain. Boundary Peak, at 13,140 feet probably makes it own weather.

Our camp site for the night had a great view of the east side of the White Mountains Nevada shares with California. We were away from the wash, high enough to avoid any flash floods. And the highway which maybe sees 20 or fewer vehicles per day. After a quick dinner and a short walk with Toller, we crashed after a busy day. No one drove by on the highway during the night.

Obsidian in the pine woods off Fandango Pass Road in Northern California

Obsidian in the pine woods off Fandango Pass Road in Northern California

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Camp site 49 at Burney Falls State Park near Burney, CA

Cedar (incense?) bark at Burney falls State Park

Cedar (incense?) bark at Burney falls State Park

Tony and Toller at the overlook at Burney Falls State Park

Tony and Toller at the overlook at Burney Falls State Park

Burney Falls from the overlook a few steps from the parking lot near the entrance

Burney Falls from the overlook a few steps from the parking lot near the entrance

At the base of Burney Falls, a steep descent of .3 miles from the overlook

At the base of Burney Falls, a steep descent of .3 miles from the overlook

Deep Creek along County Road 31 just south of Cedarville, CA in the Surprise Valley

Deep Creek along County Road 31 just south of Cedarville, CA in the Surprise Valley

Wildflower along a short portion of County Road 31 or Deep Creek Road south of Cedarville, CA

Wildflower along a short portion of County Road 31 or Deep Creek Road south of Cedarville, CA

Mileage sign along 8A in Nevada just east of the CA/NV border

Mileage sign along 8A in Nevada just east of the CA/NV border

Looking for Apache tears along Nevada 8A

Looking for Apache tears along Nevada 34

 

Looking south along Nevada 34 into the vast unpeopled space

Looking south along Nevada 34 into the vast unpeopled space

One of the many desert flowers surviving on little water and lots of sun

One of the many desert flowers surviving on little water and lots of sun

Looking south along NV 34 toward eventual destination of Fernley, NV

Looking south along NV 34 toward eventual destination of Fernley, NV

A side trip off NV 34 to a small oasis along a desert spring

A side trip off NV 34 to a small oasis along a desert spring

Another desert survivor eking out an existence in the scree

Another desert survivor eking out an existence in the scree

Multi-hued boulder probably from the cliff behind it in the oasis area off NV 34

Multi-hued boulder probably from the cliff behind it in the oasis area off NV 34

Exploring the oasis off NV 34

Tony and Toller exploring the oasis off NV 34

Overview of the oasis off NV 34

Overview of the spring that feeds the oasis off NV 34

One of the boulders along NV 34

One of the boulders along NV 34

Parked along NV 34 near the George Lund Petrified Forest

Parked along NV 34 near the George Lund Petrified Forest and the ever=present cattle guards

Caged petrified Log in the George Lund Memorial Petrified Forest

Caged petrified Log in the George Lund Memorial Petrified Forest

Plaque commemorating the George Lund Memorial Petrified Forest

Plaque commemorating the George Lund Memorial Petrified Forest

Campsite on the Black Rock Desert Playa

Campsite on the Black Rock Desert Playa

Lunch overlooking Walker Lake north of Hawthorne, NV along Highway 95

Lunch overlooking Walker Lake north of Hawthorne, NV along Highway 95

View of Mono Lake along California Highway 167 north of the lake

View of Mono Lake along California Highway 167 north of the lake

Along Navy Beach at Mono Lake, California looking west toward the Sierra Nevada Range

Along Navy Beach at Mono Lake, California looking west toward the Sierra Nevada Range

 

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2014-04 WA/OR/NV/CA 2/6

Day 4/Thursday/April 10:
Another sunny day awaited us. We drove back the short distance to Long Beach for another beach run for Toller. The sand is fine and the wind shifted to cause it to glitter.

We drove back on 101 southbound to cross the Astoria Megler Bridge into Astoria. Ah, Oregon, where there the gas stations have attendants to pump fuel and no sales tax so we stocked up on dog food and treats. Fuel was cheaper, also. The Warrenton Fred Meyer furnished both fuel and groceries.

Our destination was Devils Lake State Park campground in the Lincoln City limits. We drove mostly along the ocean but the highway did wander inland occasionally. Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Rockaway Beach, Garibaldi, Tillamook. We decided to take a break from 101 by driving up a rough 1 lane road to check out Munson Creek Falls that has a sheer drop of 321′. The hike was about ¼ mile on a wooded trail that featured some ancient Sitka Spruce and a few cedar. The trail was closed by a few large fallen trees about 4 feet high and just as wide. The falls we’re still visible but you couldn’t see the base. Still impressive.

We took a side road called the Three Capes Scenic Loop which passes through some farms and is much closer to the ocean. It includes the small town of Pacific City. Back to 101 passing through Neskowin and a winding ascent and descent or was it the other way around. It heads inland a ways before returning to the ocean and Lincoln City. Lincoln City has a casino so is popular with tourists.

We had never stayed at Devils Lake and we were pleasantly surprised. Free showers, nice campsites, an abundance of skunk cabbage and well maintained facilities. There was a sink to wash dishes with hot water (they must have been tired of people washing them in the bathroom sinks). And, they recycle just about everything including glass, tin cans, plastic yogurt containers and, of course, pop cans. $17 in C Loop, site C6 right near the restrooms. The campground was about ⅓ full which made for a quiet night. It is on the lake of the same name tucked in between housing. Across the lake was a HUGE “summer” home. Despite being in town wedged between lake cottages and condos, it was quiet.

After a long hot shower, dinner and updating this blog, it is time for bed. More tomorrow.

Day 5/Friday/April 11:
Agates. I have never been skunked ever looking for agates at Fogerty Creek State Park. Today, I came close. One dinky agate. Tony: 7, me: 1. Fogerty lies north of Depoe Bay and south of Lincoln City. It is day use only but offers two beaches to explore divided by the creek and a jumble of rocks where the creek meets the ocean. We usually go for the northern beach after we almost got attacked and eaten by a “sneaker” wave on the smaller southern bowl-shaped one.

The low tide was at around 4:45AM which isn’t a prime time to look as it is dark. It wasn’t a very low tide, either. The winter storms had left mostly a granular sand where smaller rocks had been. And, our 3 hours after low tide arrival was too late to explore in a formerly fertile area (site of the big carnelian agate I found last fall). If we ventured past a rocky outcrop from the bluff, we would have been stuck for hours until after high tide at around 10:30AM.

So, we left for Beverly Beach State Park to dump our tanks then headed south to Otter Rock State Wayside. We ate some lunch and looked out at the rocks, a rookery then drove south through Newport and Waldport to Yachats (pronounced “Yuh hots”) to check out agates at Yachats State Park there. We found very small ones about the size of my pinky fingernail. Discouraged, we tried a few waysides further south (too windy causing a mini sandstorm) then ended our day at the USFS Alder Lake campground just a few miles north of Florence.

Alder Lake is a small campground in the Suislaw National Forest. The Oregon Coast depends on tourism and logging for its economy. Since we have Senior Pass card, we paid half fee for our campsite. $11 bought us #12, a very nice site by one of the lakes. There was a very clean vault toilet a short walk away and there was water and garbage nearby. In our loop of 24 sites, there were 2 campsites occupied. Very quiet except for a frog chorus and some traffic on 101.

I made some tomato soup with some frozen cherry tomatoes from home. Adding some mango salsa, mushrooms, and canned black beans made it a hardy meal. Tony finished his Safeway sub.

Tomorrow, we check out the flesh-eating plants at the Darlingtonia State Natural Site. I am unsure if the darlingtonias are herbaceous or evergreen. A stop for fuel at the Fred Meyer in Florence then we head for Coos Bay and highway 138 heading to Interstate 5 and points further south.

Day 6/Saturday/April 12:
After a few circles around Alder Dune campground, we left for Florence to first visit the Darlingtonia site. Unfortunately, they were still shabby looking from winter. A helpful sign indicated that they bloom later in May and June. The skunk cabbage and trilliums were blooming, though. After fueling up and buying a few supplies at the local Fred Meyer, we again turned south passing through Dunes a City, Reedsport, Lakeside, North Bend, and Coos Bay before turning east and inland on highway 42 toward Coquille and Myrtle Point and eventually I 5 via the Winston cutoff.

On the way, we stopped at Hoffman Memorial Wayside to view a myrtle grove that was donated by a local pioneer family. You almost miss it as a small gravel parking lot comes up quickly.

As it was nearing noon, we swung up into the hills for the Ben Irving County Park for lunch. It was warm and all we had for company were some geese and a couple fishing from the shore. An older gentleman approached us to greet us. He is the caretaker who lives on an adjoining property. I asked about rattlers and he said that for the first time ever he encountered two a week or so ago by the bathrooms. Usually they hang out at the other end of the reservoir.

After driving through a large lumber mill complex, we headed south on the interstate. We stopped in Canyonville at a very nice rest stop. At that point we decided to travel via highway 227 that we traveled from Eagle Point last fall. It is a pleasant drive with little traffic.

It passes through a few very small towns like Milo and Tiller. At Tiller, we drove north on the South Umpqua River Road to check out some rock hounding opportunities. The Dumont Creek campground was closed and we couldn’t find the gravel bar that the author of the Oregon rock hound book referred to. On the way up we passed the3 C Rock campground which was only referred to as a picnic area in my Oregon Benchmark Atlas. For $5 we chose site # 5 which was furthest away from a rowdy group in #1. They shot off a few rounds then quieted down.

We left the next morning to finish 227 then head down 62 to Eagle Point to visit their wonderful visitor center. Lots of free advice, clean restrooms and a dog walk area with scooper bags.

Refreshed, we drove east toward Klamath Falls on 140. Little traffic made for an enjoyable drive. We decided to take an alternate route at Lake Of The Woods where we encountered patches of crusty snow along the road. We ate our lunch among the pines down a dirt road. 603 to 66 then into Klamath Falls to fuel up and buy some paper towels at the Fred Meyer.

Back onto 140 to head east to The USFS campground at Drews Creek. Free and private with vault latrines. No water or garbage but free is still good. The campsite is surrounded by nice pine trees and is reached by crossing a bridge over Drews Creek. We wandered around and allowed Toller a good run around the woods before dinner and bed..

Day 7/Sunday/April 13:
It frosted last night so we were glad our propane heater keeps us so toasty. Toller and I played with a stick in the woods then we headed toward Lakeview where we leave 140 to go south on 395. The prairie dogs that we saw running in the fields (this is farm/ranch country), were scurrying from the road where they were sunning themselves ran toward the fields. They were everywhere but few had been hit. They seemed to know to run away from the road.

California: Turning up Fandango Canyon Road in search of obsidian, we entered open range country. We drove around on some well-graded gravel roads (only a few ruts and washboards). We stopped for lunch where we saw black obsidian shining all around us but no colored ones. There is a nice unimproved campground called Lassen Creek where the creek of the same name meanders. In 1984-1987 some extensive habitat restoration is bring back the fish. They placed logs in the water and planted willow to prevent erosion.

Disappointed, we headed back to 395 and Alturas. I sorely misjudged the distance from Alturas to McArthur-Burney State Park. I also had the wrong camping fee info so I flunked today. $28 for no power and pay showers. The sites had a lot of room between each other and the bathrooms were clean. Oh, and the falls were beautiful. It is also very warm here so no heat tonight. On the way, we actually used the AC.

Tomorrow morning, I will see if I can get some decent photos of the falls from the viewpoint and head down a short but steep trail to the base of the falls. Noodles for supper. And, I am again reminded why I do not enjoy camping at recognized campgrounds. For instance, there is a loud drunk at the site across from us who enjoys hearing himself talk. Incessantly. Loudly. Or the kids who think it is okay to ride through your campsite. Or, the people who think their dog doesn’t need to be on a leash. You get it. Rules are for others. Oh, and the loud generators and people who have to circle the loop 6 times???? I am tired.

Munson Creek Falls in Tillamook County, OR

Munson Creek Falls in Tillamook County, OR

Dock on Devils Lake in Devils Lake State Park in Oregon

Dock on Devils Lake in Devils Lake State Park in Oregon

 

Fogerty Creek State Park north of Depoe Bay, WA

Fogerty Creek State Park north of Depoe Bay, WA

Ancient stump uncovered after many years of being buried at Beverly Beach State Park along the Oregon Coast

Ancient stump uncovered after many years of being buried at Beverly Beach State Park along the Oregon Coast

 

Overlook at Seal Rocks State Park along the Oregon Coast

Overlook at Seal Rocks State Park along the Oregon Coast

Muriel Ponsen Wayside along Pacific Coast Highway aka 101

Muriel Ponsen Wayside along Pacific Coast Highway aka 101

Mini scenics along the Oregon Coast

Mini scenics along the Oregon Coast

 

More Mini scenics along the Oregon Coast

More Mini scenics along the Oregon Coast

One of the small lakes at Alder Lake, a USFS campground north of Florence, OR

One of the small lakes at Alder Lake, a USFS campground north of Florence, OR

Darlingtonia State Wayside protecting an area of darlingtonia just north of Florence, OR

Darlingtonia State Wayside protecting an area of darlingtonia just north of Florence, OR

Hoffman Memorial Myrtle Grove on highway 42 just east of Myrtle Point, OR

Hoffman Memorial Myrtle Grove on highway 42 just east of Myrtle Point, OR

Campsite number 5 at 3 C Rock campground north of Tiller on the South Umpqua River Road

Campsite number 5 at 3 C Rock campground north of Tiller on the South Umpqua River Road

 

South Umpqua River flowing by the 3 C Rock USFS campground

South Umpqua River flowing by the 3 C Rock USFS campground

2014-04 WA/OR/NV/CA 1/6

Day 1/Monday/April 7:

We left our home @ 9:30am to catch the Coupeville-Port Townsend ferry 11:45am sailing. The weather was perfect with blue skies and little wind. After a smooth ride in the front for a great view of our destination, we arrived in PT. A left onto Highway 20 took us to the junction for Highway 101. Usually we head along the inland route to swing over to the coast between Shelton and Olympia via Highways 8 and 12 for a shorter drive but we opted for a different route this time. We chose Sequim Bay State Park as it is right off the highway ( actually, 101 divides it in two). We drove into the campground choosing space 82 with a partial view through the trees to the bay and out to the Straits of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island. Our campsite was almost free because last October we purchased a Senior Off-Season pass which allows for free camping from October through March with April free from Sunday-Thursday. Well worth the $75 as we do camp locally in the offseason and pass through Washington coming and going to other destinations..

We wandered down to the beach via the boat launch road. The beach was eroded on one side preventing the use of several benches so we wandered along the north shore discovering some interesting round sandstone rocks on the shore and embedded in the cliffs. We then returned to the campsite to set up camp (just flip of the switch to raise the top and move sleeping bags to the bed to make room to sit. Another walk led us to a portion of the Olympic Discovery Trail System. We wandered down to the beach finding a ramp and dock to better view the area. On the way, we passed through a covered bridge built to scale for a trail. It passed over a stream meandering to the salt water. We saw trilliums in bloom, false Solomon’s seal, tiny yellow violets, ferns and other woodland plants. The tree canopy was a mix of cedar, fir, alder, maple and madrona.

After a dinner of soup that I made the day before at home, we lounged around then went to bed early. Toller now has his own sleeping bag, one of our daughter’s from when she was younger so maybe he won’t try to sleep on ours.

Day 2/Tuesday/April 8:

After a great night’s sleep (necessary to recover from late night of last minute packing), we awoke to walk Toller on a nearby trail so he could do his business. The early sun was shining on the glassy bay and brighteneing up the woods surrounding us. We left our campsite at around 9am to avoid early morning browsing deer and traffic along 101 heading for Port Angeles. There was actually little traffic but we did encounter road construction between Sequim and PA as the state was widening 101 into 4 lanes. What traffic we did encounter after PA consisted of logging trucks, locals plus a few scattered RVs.

We followed 112 from 101 to check out the Salt Creek Recreation Area, a county park. We met a nice couple from Belfaire who told us about a lookout over the decommissioned Elwah Dam. We walked a short woodsy trail to the overlook. The dam has been replaced by a large earth berm allowing the Elwah River to flow through its original channel to the Straits of Juan de Fuca allowing the salmon to return as they did in the past. We returned to 101, skirting Crescent Lake, a large deep lake colored a dark blue green. It began to rain hard then slacked off as we neared Forks, a town of about 3000+.

We stopped at Bogachiel State Park for a bathroom break and a stroll around the campground. It is situated between the Bogachiel River and Highway 101. The campground featured a woodsy setting and familiar wildflowers like huge trilliums, oxalis oregana, Solomon’s seal, tiny yellow violets and a large leafed plant with a whorl of white blooms called petatsites, all typical PNW woodland natives.

After arriving at the Pacific Ocean, we stopped at the Ruby Beach Overlook in the coastal portion of the Olympic National Park to venture down a path to wander the beach and check out the sea stacks. The rain had diminished and the sun hinted that it was still around, peaking from behind the clouds in the western sky. We didn’t find any agates but discovered that some of the large driftwood logs were a reddish color. We were surprised that we could bring Toller down to the beach (leash required) as most national parks won’t allow dogs on trails.

We drove a few more miles south to the Kolaloch campground between 101 and the Pacific Ocean. We arrived too late for a bluff site overlooking the ocean so we found a site in loop E that was between the bluff and 101. E11 was a good choice as the woodsy setting buffered the noisy surf. Because we have the Senior Golden Age pass for national parks and USFS/BLM facilities, our fee was $7, half of the posted price.We could still hear the surf but it was white noise soothing us to sleep. After setting up camp, we walked the dog, ate our supper of homemade soups then hit the sack or sleeping bags. Life is good. An added note: at a pull off along the Hoh River we saw a Four Wheel Camper Silver Spurs edition and at the campground there was an Four Wheel Camper Eagle model from South Dakota. Pop up campers in the PNW are rare so it was unusual to see 2 in one day. Having owned FWC previously, we are familiar with them.

Day 3/Wednesday/April 9:

That soothing surf became annoying after awhile and combined with the occasional vehicle buzzing by on 101, sleep was intermittent. Hard between bluffs of the crashing surf of the Pacific Ocean and highway 101, Kalaloch is noisier than a wooded spot inland but as lovers of salt water, we wanted to be near the water. Next time we will find that recommended boondocking site near Ruby Beach.

We drove south on 101 our only company being logging trucks and locals. We passed through many small dots of towns and some major ones like Hoquium, Aberdeen, Raymond. Hoquium flows into Aberdeen where 101 snakes through town after dividing into two two lanes separated by a block. We fueled up at a Shell on Highway 12 (big mistake as attendant was unaware of Fred Meyer rewards program, the nozzle leaked and we ended up paying $.10 more per gallon by using a credit card). We also stopped at the local Safeway for a few groceries.

We arrived in Long Beach to celebrate Toller’s 3rd birthday by allowing him a long run on the beach. That dog loves to run back and forth between us. We then drove on the beach (perfectly legal in that area) and encountered a large group of horseback riders. We cruised down the paved road to Ilwaco, a fishing village but our destination was a free night’s camping at Cape Disappointment State Park. Our usual spot by Lake O’Neil # 224 was available. No one except some biker/campers across the street were in that loop. Everyone else goes to the hookups near the ocean.

We set up then wandered over to Waikiki Beach which is in a protected cove by a lighthouse. It was sunny and warm and the wind was light. Toller had to be on a leash but was content to sit with us on the driftwood. As it was getting cooler returned to the camper, had dinner and went to bed.

Forest in Sequim Bay State Park between Sequim and Port Angeles, WA featuring a giant at least 5 feet diameter

Forest in Sequim Bay State Park between Sequim and Port Angeles, WA featuring a giant at least 5 feet diameter

Bridge over creek on trail to beach at Sequim Bay State Park, WA

Bridge over creek on trail to beach at Sequim Bay State Park, WA

Campsite at Sequim Bay State Park overlooking the bay

Campsite at Sequim Bay State Park overlooking the bay

Rounded rocks that tumbled from their former home in the clay banks along the bay shore

Rounded rocks that tumbled from their former home in the clay banks along the bay shore

Site of the former Elwah dam west of Port Angeles, WA

Site of the former Elwah dam west of Port Angeles, WA

Oxalis oregana, a native PNW woodland plant

Oxalis oregana, a native PNW woodland plant

Skunk cabbage indicates woodland wetlands

Skunk cabbage indicates woodland wetlands

More oxalis plus lichen in Bogachiel State Park

More oxalis plus lichen in Bogachiel State Park

Trillium at Bogachiel State Park near teh Washington state coast off Highway 101

Trillium at Bogachiel State Park near teh Washington state coast off Highway 101

Ruby Beach on the Washington state coastal portion of Olympic National Park

Ruby Beach on the Washington state coastal portion of Olympic National Park

 

Driftwood along Ruby Beach, a part of the Olympic National Park

Driftwood along Ruby Beach, a part of the Olympic National Park

Driftwood at Ruby Beach

Driftwood and sea stacks at Ruby Beach

Tony and Toller at Long Beach where dogs are allowed to run and play

Tony and Toller at Long Beach where dogs are allowed to run and play

Horseback riding on the beach at Long Beach, WA

Horseback riding on the beach at Long Beach, WA

You can drive on the packed sand beach at Long Beach. WA

You can drive on the packed sand beach at Long Beach. WA

Waikiki Beach at Cape Disappointment State Park near Ilwaco, WA with cargo ship

Waikiki Beach at Cape Disappointment State Park near Ilwaco, WA with cargo ship

 

Camp site # 224 at Cape Disappointment State Park

Camp site # 224 at Cape Disappointment State Park

 

BEST 20 Rockstar Images of 2013

Okay, I know, it is still 2013 so I am ahead of the game. Well, sorta. I only shot two music festivals plus a local band this year so I don’t have much material. But, still, there are some good ones even though I am still editing the ones from Rockfest.

Jasmine Greene * Jasmine Greene Band * Tulalip Casino * Marysville, WA

Jasmine Greene * Jasmine Greene Band * Tulalip Casino * Marysville, WA

Scott Greene * Jasmine Greene Band * Tulalip Casino, Marysville, WA

Scott Greene * Jasmine Greene Band * Tulalip Casino, Marysville, WA

Lizzie Hale * Halestorm * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Lizzie Hale * Halestorm * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Arejay Hale * Halestorm * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Arejay Hale * Halestorm * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Adam Walst * 3 Days Grace * Rockfest * cadot, WI

Adam Walst * 3 Days Grace * Rockfest * cadot, WI

Neil Sanderson and Brad Walst * 3 Days Grace * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Neil Sanderson and Brad Walst * 3 Days Grace * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Barry Stock * 3 Days Grace * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Barry Stock * 3 Days Grace * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

James Shaffer * Korn * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

James Shaffer * Korn * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

James Shaffer * Korn * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

James Shaffer * Korn * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Jerry Dixon * Warrant * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Jerry Dixon * Warrant * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Robert Mason * Warrant * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Robert Mason * Warrant * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Tom Maxwell * Hellyeah * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Tom Maxwell * Hellyeah * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Slash * Slash featuring Myles Kennedy * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Slash * Slash featuring Myles Kennedy * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Myles Kennedy * Slash featuring Myles Kennedy * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Myles Kennedy * Slash featuring Myles Kennedy * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Chris Broderick * Megadeth * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Chris Broderick * Megadeth * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Frank Sidoris * Slash featuring Myles Kennedy * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Frank Sidoris * Slash featuring Myles Kennedy * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Chris Broderick * Megadeth * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Chris Broderick * Megadeth * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Beau Lastavich * Dirtee Circus * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Beau Lastavich * Dirtee Circus * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

David Mustaine and Chris Broderick * Megadeth * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

David Mustaine and Chris Broderick * Megadeth * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Vassilios Metropoulos * Otherwise * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Vassilios Metropoulos * Otherwise * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Adrian Patrick * Otherwise * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Adrian Patrick * Otherwise * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Korey Cooper * Skillet * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Korey Cooper * Skillet * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

David Coverdale * Whitesnake * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

David Coverdale * Whitesnake * Rockfest * Cadot, WI

Anthony Gomes * Mt. Baker Blues festival * Deming, WA

Anthony Gomes * Mt. Baker Blues festival * Deming, WA

Roger Fisher and shayne Dwight * Mt. Baker Blues Festival * Deming, WA

Roger Fisher and shayne Dwight * Mt. Baker Blues Festival * Deming, WA

 

Best Rockstar Images of 2012

Better late than never I present: my Best RockstarImages of 2012 in 2013. On my website (www.clikrf8images.com), I uploaded what I considered to be my 50 best Rockstar images from 2012. Waaay too many images to post on a blog forces me to whittle that number to a more manageable 20.

Shinedown-Chippewa Valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Shinedown-Chippewa Valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Shinedown-Chippewa Valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Shinedown-Chippewa Valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Def Leppard-Chippewa Valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Def Leppard-Chippewa Valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Def Leppard-Chippewa Valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Def Leppard-Chippewa Valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Poison-Chipewa Valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Poison-Chipewa Valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Shinedown-Chippewa Valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Shinedown-Chippewa Valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Sully Erna-Godsmack-Chippewa valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Sully Erna-Godsmack-Chippewa valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Sebastian Bach-Chippewa Valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Sebastian Bach-Chippewa Valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Iron Maiden-Chippewa Valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Iron Maiden-Chippewa Valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Buckcherry frontman Josh Todd-Chippewa valley Rock festival

Buckcherry frontman Josh Todd-Chippewa valley Rock festival

defleppard_0372

Def Leppard-Chippewa Valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Lizzy Hale-Halestorm-Chippewa Valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Lizzy Hale-Halestorm-Chippewa Valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Lizzy Hale-Halestorm-Chippewa Valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

Lizzy Hale-Halestorm-Chippewa Valley Rock Festival-Cadot, WI

dilana_0362

Rachele Lynae-East 542 Festival-Deming, WA

Rachele Lynae-East 542 Festival-Deming, WA

Dana Fuchs-Mt. baker Blues Festival-Deming, WA

Dana Fuchs-Mt. baker Blues Festival-Deming, WA

Dana Fuchs-Mt. baker Blues Festival-Deming, WA

Dana Fuchs-Mt. baker Blues Festival-Deming, WA

Oli Brown-Mt. Baker Blues Festival-Deming, WA

Oli Brown-Mt. Baker Blues Festival-Deming, WA

Hamilton Loomis-Mt. baker Blues Festival-Deming, WA

Hamilton Loomis-Mt. baker Blues Festival-Deming, WA

Aaron Pritchett Band-East 542 Festival-Deming, WA

Aaron Pritchett Band-East 542 Festival-Deming, WA

 

2013/09-10 WA/OR/ID/WY/UT/NV/CA

Off on another adventure: Tuesday, maybe, weather and expected arrival of ordered essentials being the deciding factors, we will depart our city in a roundabout way toward Western Wyoming. We like to meander our way toward a vague destination, making the destination just another stop along the way.

The weather forecast will improve by the time we roll down our driveway. Due to a miscalculation on my part estimating when orders would arrive from B&H (new external HD), NGS (maps) and Amazon (travel books, Garmin Topo map, and a new 2.5″ foam mattress topper with cover- easier to find without than with), our scheduled departure was today. Hah, procrastinating the orders (when confronting decisions, I postpone) actually worked in our favor, weather-wise. Since we plan to travel west to go east via the Olympic Peninsula (bypassing my nemesis of I-5 through the Seattle traffic), we wanted to be sure of sunny skies. Even overcast would be preferable to the downpours of today. So the route is as follows:

Day 1: Bellingham to Bow Hill Blueberries to pick up half a flat then meander through the Skagit Valley and Whidbey Island to the Port Townsend ferry. Highway 101 will take us to our first overnight stop, tbd.

Days 2 & 3: The next morning we will head toward Sun and Sands RV park south of Lincoln City where we will rest several days looking for agates at Fogerty Beach State Park. Along the way, we will try to find the beach where Toller can run in Ocean Shores.

Day 4: We will be on our way to camping east of Eugene, maybe at the Blue Pool along highway 126. We want to drive the Aufderheisen Scenic Byway, America’s first scenic byway.

Day 5: This is the day we leisurely drive the Aufderhausen scenic byway which, in its serpentine route will bring us to highway where we will take an offshoot road to Waldo Lake, one of the clearest, purest lakes in the US.6

Days 6 & 7:  Crater Lake National Park, our next destination, is a short little jaunt away, for photography and exploring.

Day 8: We are on the road to Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge along rural highways and gravel roads. Boondock camping?

Day 9: We will be exploring  the Steens Mountain Loop, a very scenic drive with several overlooks into glacier-carved valleys on the eastern flank. Our campground will be at Page Springs near Frenchglen. If the aspens are in peak color then we will stay at one of the campgrounds along the Steens Mountain Loop.

Day 10: Our route is a meandering drive on gravel roads and rural highways to the Pillars of Rome. Dispersed camping?

Days 11 and 12: Two days to explore Succor Creek State Park, Owyhee Canyon and Leslie Gulch, very remote destinations that are becoming more well-known.

Day 13: This is  is our first day into Idaho. We had watched a TV show about a scenic backway that will take us from Oregon into Idaho. We also want to see Silver City, a fairly intact ghost town in Idaho. This back door into Idaho will bring us to the Snake River Birds of Prey refuge.

Day 14: Today will be a day exploring Bruneau Sand Dunes.

                                      **********************

Day #1*Wednesday*September 11:

Whoa! As with all plans, ours went all to h***.  After all orders arrived, fall gardening chores  completed, tasks assigned to daughter/caretaker, camper packed, maps organized, electronic gizmos updated and batteries charged, truck fueled, oil freshly changed and food prepared, etc., we were on our way. We departed at 9:30 am to catch the 11:30 am Whidbey/Port Townsend ferry (reservations required, $25.20 total fare for standard vehicle (20′ or less: we are within it by 6″) with driver and passenger, 65 + discount, overheight with the camper on.). The route we followed meandered through Skagit County farmland until we met Highway 20 which will temporarily end at the Whidbey island dock near Fort Casey State Park. It will pick up again at the PT ferry dock where it terminates at the junction of the coastal and Hood Canal portions of 101.

Our first overnighter was at Potlatch State Park along the Hood Canal section of Highway 101, where we parked at the less developed area in space # 70 for a quieter night’s sleep. There, the main site amenities were missing so we made do with a vault toilet rather than the flush variety but the water faucets weren’t shut off. The waterfront was muddy, not rocky or sandy along Hood Canal. Hindsight advises the next time to boon dock in Olympic National Forest or at any of the Lake Cushman sites or camp at the much nicer Dosewallips State Park near Brinnon (see last camping spot October 21). Both campsites are $23 for a standard site (no hook ups) but the Dosewallips state park is much nicer: lovely maples, very large sites and the Dosewallops River nearby.

Day #2*Thursday*September 12:

We wound our way south and west aiming for Cape Disappointment State Park near Ilwaco/Long Beach. We followed 101 until the junction with 108 which segued into highways 8/12. We bypassed Aberdeen when we chose 107 to bring us onto Coastal Highway 101. Along the way we bought diesel at the Elma Shell, Elma, WA: $50.00 to top off the tank.

Long Beach, Washington is very dog-friendly. Its very long beach is open to dogs off-leash. It is also open to vehicles who drive along the sandy beaches. Fast. Or, stuck. Toller, our two year old Chocolate Standard Poodle/German Shorthaired Pointer cross, quickly ran circles until he flopped down exhausted. He was wary of the waves that rolled onto the beach allowing himself to just venture in the shallows where the waves were receding before the next big one crashed onto the sand.

fallTrip_iPhone_0397

Toller at Long Beach

Toller and Tony at Long Beach

Toller and Tony at Long Beach

We secured our standard, no hook-up spot at CapeDisappointment State Park, space 225 ($23) by O’Neil Lake where we were the only ones as most people elected to camp closer to the ocean at Benson Beach. We did have one neighbor across the road in the hiker/biker site who was quiet and didn’t run a loud generator. We were within a short walk to Waikiki Beach and the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse which is a more scenic area. We took a short walk to the North Head Lighthouse complex where the lighthouse keeper and assistant lighthouse keepers’ homes are available to rent.

Cape Disappointment State Park is the most visited state park in Washington. 1882 acres are abutted by the Pacific Ocean, Baker Bay and the Columbia River. Cape Disappointment, named by Captain John Meares in 1788 while searching for the mouth of the Columbia River, is where the Columbia meets the Pacific. This is also where the Lewis and Clark Expedition first saw the Pacific.

Day #3*Friday*September 13:

We returned to 101 then drove over the Astoria-Megler Bridge to Oregon. The northern beaches and towns of the Oregon Coast seem too touristy so we make for just north of Depoe Bay with one detour that has us backtracking due to a mudslide. We enjoy the Three Capes Scenic Loop and made it just to Cape Meares before we had to return to Tillamook to resume our southern route. We overnighted at the Sun and Sea RV Park, one of the very few RV parks we stay at as it has very clean bathrooms and is sited on the beach. It caters mostly to big RVs and is a splurge for us. Even with the Good Sam Club 10% discount it is $35.00 for a “forested” site. It does offer full hookups, a laundromat, wifi, small store, and quick access to the beach. Our space was number 57 with neighbors a bit too close.

That afternoon and the next morning, we explored Fogerty Creek State Park, our favorite state park along the Oregon coast. Fogerty Creek runs through it to the ocean terminated in a jumble of a rock outcropping, suitable for climbing. On each side, accessible by a trail on each side, under Highway 101, there is a small and a larger crescent-shaped beach. The storms and ocean waves change the beaches but agates can be found on either side. The smelt sands differ from most Oregon Coast beaches which are very fine sand ground over the eons by the relentless pounding waves. It helps to be present at low tide but I have found many agates on the incoming or outgoing tides.

Day #4*Saturday*September 14:

Highway 20 from Newport takes you through the coastal mountains to the Corvallis/Albany area then continues through the Cascades into the eastern limits of the Great Basin and Oregon’s dry side. We took this route to explore the lakes and rivers of Oregon’s Central Cascades. Tonight’s camping spot was yet to be decided so we first stopped at Cascadia State Park, about 15 miles east of Sweet Home. There was a big loud family picnic so we moved on to check out House Rock, a USFS campground. It was down in a hole, the smoke from campfires creating a haze and the canopy of large trees made it seem dark even in the afternoon. We returned via the very winding highway to Cascadia. More expensive at $17 for a standard. no hookup site, it had nicer sites and flush toilets and showers. We chose number A4 next to an old nurse log.

Day #5*Sunday*September 15:  

South Fork Santiam River

South Fork Santiam River

South Fork Santiam River

South Fork Santiam River

We explored the South Santiam River which flowed next Highway 20 and was part of the park. The ranger pointed out an access along the north side of the highway with a trail leading to a large boulder-strewn part of the river that was very photogenic. I found a ledge that was part of a boulder arrangement allowing me to handhold my 24-70mm lens to capture the up river section. These images are reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest: I love the quiet rivers, big boulders, fern glades as a photographic package. There are so many compositions along the focal lengths to keep me enchanted for some time.

Sahalie Falls

Sahalie Falls

Our next destination was the Aufderheide Memorial Drive. We drove the very winding Highway 20 to its junction with Highway 126. Following this road south, we stopped at Sahalie Falls, a very dramatic and scenic waterfall that we unfortunately arrived at when the sun shone directly on it. I did a quick composition nabbing a rainbow without jamming my tripod on too many toes. Eventually, 126 turns right, passing the town of McKenzie Bridge. Less than five miles past the town is the beginning of the drive. Evidence was there that would justify it being a scenic drive as mentioned online but the fall color had yet to peak. It had more road bikes on it than cars. The route loosely followed the McKenzie River and the North Fork of Middle Fork Willamette River. It terminates when it meets Highway 58 from Eugene.

We passed by a large number of USFS campgrounds to settle in at Waldo Lake, one of the clearest lake in the US rivaling its southern neighbor, Crater Lake. It is also second to the better-known lake in depth (420 feet). We chose Shadow Bay as it is the first one and is less popular than North Waldo. Site number 67 ($10) was a short distance to the lake and close to a vault toilet.

Day #6*Monday*September 16:

Tony and Toller at Waldo Lake

Tony and Toller at Waldo Lake

Waldo Lake

Waldo Lake

Early the next morning, we awoke to fog so grabbed the gear to shoot some moody photos of the islet offshore. The fog didn’t last long but it was quiet and peaceful. As the dawn became day, we noticed a man made structure on the islet made of logs. There are trails that wind around the lake revealing views of the Sisters but we were unable to see them from where we

were.

There was no direct route to Diamond Lake and Thielsen View campground so we returned to Highway 58 from Forest Road 5897 heading east to US 97, This would take us to the westbound East Diamond Lake Highway which can also take you to the north entrance of Crater Lake National Park. We are not particularly fond of 97 but we weren’t familiar with the many USFS roads that may or may not have taken us to Diamond Lake. We drove by several lakes but one, O’Dell looked like it was more of a resort and summer home type. Crescent Lake will wait for the next time as it was further off the highway and I saw no sign for a resort.

Campfire at Thielsen View

Campfire at Thielsen View

Mt. Thielsen

Mt. Thielsen

Thielsen View Campground, on the northwest side of the lake across from a resort, was rustic (vault toilets) but very scenic with a view of, you guessed it, Mt. Thielsen. We chose site B-4 ($7.50)  one of the  more scenic sites right by the lake. This is one of my favorite camp-grounds on this trip: spacious sites, pine tree canopy, and lots of free firewood from diseased trees. Blue skies make for uninspired images as does a breeze to ripple the lake so I shot a few frames for the memories. We built a campfire to roast real meat and veggie hotdogs.

Day #7*Tuesday*September 17:

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

The fog returned so there would be no sunrise over or behind Mt. Thielsen. We broke camp, noting the site number for a return visit. Crater Lake was just a short jaunt south on Highway 138. The scenic drive circles Crater Lake, mostly on a narrow road, often with narrow shoulders sagging precipitously to a drop off. Since it was still foggy, we slowly made our way counter-clockwise toward the Visitor Center. We parked at several overviews which afforded us views of Wizard Island up close. It was cold and rainy so we went to the park headquarters/visitor center near Mazama campground.

We watched an informative video on the making of Crater Lake. Essentially, there was a buildup of hot magma that pushed up through Mount Mazama. The mountain, unable to contain the pressure, erupted, the sides caving in and plugging the former magma chamber. Eons of melted snow and rain have resulted in a lake that is 1943 feet deep, the deepest in the U. S. and ninth deepest in the world. Its water is also very pure.

Our overnight accommodations were at Mazama campground as Lost Creek was closed for the season. The prices weren’t adjusted for teh season as a standard site (no hook ups) was $29. However, age 62+ has its goodies and one is the $10 NPS/USFS/BLM Golden Age Pass which lowered the price by half to $14.50. We chose site F-2 as it was distanced from the larger RVs and the construction work in the closer loops. The cold rain and strong winds continued so we took a quick look at Phantom Ship from an overlook then returned to our warm camper, ate soup and went to bed.

Day #8*Wednesday*September 18:

Beautiful blue Crater Lake

Beautiful blue Crater Lake from Cloudcap

We awoke to a sunny but cold day. We decided to make the loop clockwise because coming from the north, we were too close to the outside edge. It was icy in places on the road and in the parking lots. The true blue of the lake was revealed in the sunshine. We stopped at a few overlooks then drove to he highest paved road in Oregon which ends a mile off the Rim Drive on the east side of Crater Lake at 7,900 feet. You could see almost the entire lake from this vantage point. The photo at right was taken with my 14-24mm at 19mm.

We left the park and the Cascades for Eastern Oregon. Rim Drive connects with Highway 62 at the southern entrance which brings you to Highway 97. Along the way, we stopped at an overview where the lightning rod tip of Mt. Thielsen stood above the valley floor fog. The Chiloquin Highway is a shortcut which goes through the small town of Chiloquin connecting with Highway 858 or the Sprague River Road. There was very little traffic on this road and even fewer on a more scenic road that more closely followed the Sprague River (Drews Road).

Drews Creek, USFS campground

Drews Creek, USFS campground

Eventually we connected with Highway 140 which would lead us to Drews Creek, the USFS campground I chose. Campgrounds in this area near the main roads are scarce. There were a few that were miles up USFS roads but we had driven many miles and didn’t want to overload the exhaustion factor. 140 (Klamath Falls – Lakeview Highway) would bring us to Lakeview, Oregon’s highest (elevation) town for fuel and groceries. Drews Creek was all ours for the evening. A number of cars drove by probably going to Drews Reservoir or Dog Lake but they didn’t disturb us. This campground was rated a 9 by Moons for its scenic value but I believe that is too generous. Yes, the pine trees provided a nice canopy, the vault toilets were charming (but smelly) and the pine litter was great for Toller to run on. Oh, and it was free.

Day #9*Thursday*September 19:

We awoke to a foggy morning. We began to drive slowly into Lakeview for groceries, propane and fuel but the fog soon lifted allowing us to watch the numerous raptors we saw the day before in the ranchers’ fields after the alfalfa was cut. Lakeview has had a Safeway since 1939. It was a decent size store and we were able to stock up on items we couldn’t find in the smaller towns we passed through. We then bought diesel for the truck and propane at the Shell on 395. Turning east on 140 (it joined 395 in Lakeview for a few miles), we drove to the Plush-Adel Road, bypassing the Plush Cutoff. We chose that route because we wanted to travel a more scenic route skirting Crump Lake, a shallow alkaline lake in Warner Valley. Since it was long past the morning golden hour, we drove on through. We passed through Plush, stopped at the Hart Bar Interpretive Site for information and vault toilets, and the Camp Hart CCC which had a nice campground.

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BLM Sunstone Collection area signage

Since we had questions about the Hart Mountain National Antelope Preserve and the BLM Sunstone Collection Site, we drove on up the winding gravel road (The paved part of Hart Mountain Road ends at the CCC campground.) to the headquarters. Beautiful views but big drop offs. We also saw some antelope once the road reached the summit and plateau. Alas, no one was home at the HQ so we returned to the Warner Valley. We decided to head for the sunstone area to look for Oregon’s state gem.

It is a long way on a gravel road that tends to washboard, about 25 miles long. The road has several forks but is well-signed. There is now an improved campground/picnic area with vault toilets and canopies. We talked to someone who showed us what to look for as he had amassed quite a collection. They were small but he said they were plentiful. After a few hours, we each had a pocketful of small pale yellow crystal-like stones. We chose the host spot at the CCC campground with only one other camper. The skies were clear, the stars were bright and the night quiet.

Day #10*Friday*September 20:

Hart Mountain Road vista

Hart Mountain Road vista into Warner Valley

Sunny again today so we again headed up to the antelope refuge. Today we are going to look for agates and jasper at Flook Lake. We will also look for antelopes up on Hart Mountain. The views from the road that climbs to the top is expansive overlooking Warner Valley and the chain of lakes supporting birdlife (and probably amphibians/reptiles/insects, too).  Again, no staff at the HQ but it was open for using the toilet (flush) and picking up literature.  All the older buildings, including two residences, were built by the crew who lived at the Camp Hart CCC during the 1930s.

Flook Lake is a few miles past the HQ (take the road on the left) heading for Highway 205 and Frenchglen. It is a flat alkaline lake reached by a ¼ mile long rutted single track. It is permissible to collect eight pounds of rocks per day per person but no digging allowed as it is on refuge land. We each went in a different direction finding agatized tan and red jasper, a dark purple agate and some interesting rocks which we can’t identify. The lake was bare except for the scattered rocks and scant vegetation. We saw no signs of life but the desert reveals its residents at night.

Flook Lake rock hounding

Flook Lake rock hounding

Once we sated our rock hounding appetites, we continued our drive to Page Springs, our next campground. We stayed there a few days last April during our two weeks in Eastern Oregon. Once you leave the refuge, the road becomes the Rock Creek Road which passes through the large holdings of the Rock Creek Ranch. There wasn’t a lot of traffic and the road had sporadic washboarding. We arrived at Page Springs to a full up campground. The host allowed us to camp under some aspens where we still had ample space between us and our neighbors. We paid the senior rate of $4. Then the trouble began. Our pop up began to unfold only on one side so we immediately flipped the switch to OFF. We could do nothing at that point as it was getting dark so we spent a very miserable night sleeping in the truck, thankful that Hallmark was open on Saturdays.

Day #11*Saturday*September 21:

At 9:00am we called Hallmark RV to inform them of our camper’s malfunction. The specialist gave my husband some pointers but these failed to raise the roof.  He then advised us how to lower the roof on one side. Tony has an engineer’s mind and had packed the tools needed for the job. I busied myself cleaning out the truck, walking Toller and routing us to Fort Lupton, CO. We also discovered that the Steens Mountain Loop we wanted to take was partially closed by a landslide. We had been looking forward to this since last April as the loop doesn’t usually open until summer. The aspens weren’t in their full glory so this was a small consolation.

south entrance road to Succor Creek State Park, OR

South entrance road to Succor Creek State Park, OR

Gravesite of Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, son of Sacajawea

Gravesite of Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, son of Sacajawea

We drove to Burns for fuel and groceries then headed east on Highway 78 (Steens Highway). The rain didn’t help the mood in the truck. But, there was little traffic and the miles went by quickly. 78 terminated at Burns Junction and Highway 95 (Idaho-Oregon-Nevada Highway) We saw a sign announcing the grave of Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, Sacajawea’s son who was born during the Lewis and Clark Expedition. We drove the few miles to his gravesite which had a few other tombstones and a few buildings for company.

95 makes long twists on its way to Idaho. Succor Creek State Park was on our must see list so we drove on the rough road to the campground. Our GPS didn’t match the miles posted and the sky was darkening not only due to the hour but the approaching storm. We stopped at an area that had been been previously used as a campground because of the scattered fire rings. It is also a rock hound’s destination for the prized thunder eggs. On the way out we discovered some agates on the road. Unfortunately, we couldn’t linger so we continued our eastbound journey through the park (and found the campground a mile or so down the road). This is definitely a place we want to return to. The wind was blowing the hard-driving rain into our faces as we got settled in for the night. I decided to sleep on the floor on the extra cushions and Tony slept in the truck’s cab with Toller in the back seat.

Day #12*Sunday*September 22:

Montpelior Canyon, a USFS campground

Montpelior Canyon, a USFS campground

Boon docking at Succor Creek State Park

Boon docking at Succor Creek State Park

I awoke early, not only because of the cramped sleeping quarters but because I knew that early  dawn might bring the LIGHT that we photographers are always seeking. The sky was dark but promising. I set up my gear and waited. Right time, wrong place. A rosy halo circled a black cloud and I had no foreground elements. I grabbed my tripod/camera and ran out to the bluff overlooking the valley. Too late for the dawn drama but the clouds remained and I continued to press the shutter using the 70-200mm to bring the landscape closer

Succor Creek Road ended at Highway 19 which brought us into Idaho and Highway 95. We turned off on Highway 55 then followed Highway 78 from Marsing loosely along the Snake River, passing through the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area and passing by the Bruneau Sand Dunes. Farewell until next year.

We joined I-84 at the 112 on ramp then joined I-86 when they split. In Pocatello, we hit their rush hour which wasn’t too hurried to take yet another interstate (I-15) southbound. The interstate relay ended when we opted for Highway 30 into Wyoming. Outside of Montpelior, ID, we spent another cramped night at Montpelior Canyon, a free USFS campground. Space 11 looked good as it was close to the single seat vault toilet, was roomier without overhanging branches and was close to a very small stream.

Day #13*Monday*September 23:

Another uncomfortable night sleeping on the floor and in the truck cab. My husband was really miserable due to his bad back and lack of sleep. I didn’t hurt but was cold all night as where I slept on the camper floor blocked the heater fan. Back on Highway 30/89, we drove into Wyoming just a short drive from our campground. We had a few flashbacks as from where we joined I-84 in Idaho, we were driving almost the same roads that we traveled almost a year ago on our way to pick up our camper. Traffic has been light since we left the interstates which is one reason we travel the back roads rather than freeways. The other reason is to avoid semis.

At Hoback Junction, WY, we joined 191/189 which would bring us to I-80 via Highway 372 to Green River. As usual, there was a strong wind, the speed limit too fast and too damn many semis, double trailers in the majority. I gritted my teeth and tried to enjoy the scenery that only an interstate can provide. At least, Wyoming is a sparsely populated state so we didn’t have to pass by too many population centers and the uniformity these exits provide. I know Wyoming is a beautiful state which is why my benchmark map had many notations of photo-worthy stops and the folder on my Mac had many pdfs and images of where we wanted to go. But, freeways are meant to get as many people to as many population centers as possible so we passed through Green River, Rock Springs (booming oil town), Rawlins, Laramie and Cheyenne. Three of those cities are in the top ten of the windiest cities in our country.

Site number 2 at Vedauwoo, USFS campground

Site number 2 at Vedauwoo, USFS campground

Vedauwoo, a USFS campground, was a likely candidate for our next stop. It was not that far off the freeway, had very cool rocks (the Native Americans’ legends say that some mischievous spirits dumped them there and we could use our Golden Pass for half price. It was still windy so we found that site number 2 was sheltered from the wind somewhat and cost $5. It was sunny but cold. The vault toilet was clean, the water pump worked, and there was a garbage dumpster. After a couple of nights of dispersed camping, we had a full garbage bag.

Day #14*Tuesday*September 24:

A cold windy clear morning put us in a better mood for our last leg to Hallmark RV, several hours away in Fort Lupton, CO. We wanted to further explore the granite and quartz rock jumbles that were scattered around us. But, we said we would be at the plant in the morning and we were unsure of the road conditions in the aftermath of the floods from several weeks ago. We decided to exit I-80 in Cheyenne for Highway 85. We were familiar with it from before and we didn’t want to chance that one of the I-25 exits was closed. 89 goes directly to our destination.

2012-10/11 WA/OR/ID/WY/CO/UT/NV/CA

Day One: Sunday, October 14

We left Bellingham, WA in our new to us Ford F250 Super Duty to travel to Fort Lupton, CO to pick up our new camper at Hallmark Manufacturing. On the way to our first overnight at The Dalles, OR we stopped to visit with my sister in West Seattle and to drop off some fresh produce.

Returning to I5, we traveled south to exit at 205 which bypasses the confusion on I5 as it dissects Portland. There was light traffic on both highways and even lighter on state highway 14 which is an alternate to the I84 corridor on Oregon side’s of the Columbia. We glimpsed Beacon Rock through the evergreens. We drove through the small towns of Camas, Washougal, White Salmon and Bingen.

We crossed the Columbia at the bridge that leads us to The Dalles. We missed the turn off to the toll bridge that crosses from White Salmon to Hood River but probably squandered whatever we saved on tolls on the fuel it took us to backtrack to Motel 6. The Dalles has the usual mix of big box stores where we stayed. The Dalles is also the site of a dam that has the same name.

Day Two: Monday, October 15

The Dalles was left behind as we headed east on I84 at 8:30am. Traffic was sparse and we could enjoy the black volcanic rock outcroppings poking out of the golden tawny hills pocked with scrub on the dry side of Oregon. I caught sight of a pond with reflections that would have been a good photo op.

We passed over the Deschutes River as it merged with the Columbia close by to the north.  Rows of towering white windmills blighted the view on both sides of the Columbia. We saw the Maryhill Museum on the Washington side. The John Day River and John Day Dam came and went as we sped along I84. Exits for Blalock Canyon (following Blalock Canyon Road) and Phillips Canyon (via John Day Road – Hwy 19) will be saved for another trip to this land that contrasts so sharply with our wet side of the Cascades.

Exiting onto U. S. highway 74 (Blue Mountain Scenic Byway), we headed south by southeast on our way to Ontario, OR which is in the very eastern part of Oregon separated from Idaho by the Snake River. We passed by small ranches, an abandoned pig farm, groups of horses, corn fields for silage, a row of windmills lining an entire hillside. We drove down a gravel road to see the old Cecil Store (1903-1974). A hunter we spoke with said that in the 6 or 7 years since the windmills, the animals have left; no deer, eagles, geese. The ranches earn $8-12,000 a year per machine rent so it is profitable.

The Oregon Trail is evident here: trail markers, old buckboards, covered wagons. We parallel year round Willow Creek which flows into the Columbia River. Granaries are wooden and tall and narrow with a smaller, narrow rectangular second story. There was a remnant of a train depot and bridge (1933). Passing through Ione, we see a sign proclaiming “Don’t Take My Scenic Views-No Windmills”. Past Ione, we stop to shoot a bright green carpet of grain and golden leaved trees against the hills.

Blue Mountain Scenic Byway near Ione, OR

Blue Mountain Scenic Byway near Ione, OR

We pass through Heppner, OR, elevation 2000′ , “Home of the Fillies”. The county seat of Morrow County had a beautiful wedding cake Victorian building for county business. We also saw a neat old square schoolhouse. The USFS has a building there where the friendly employees gave us directions to Willow Creek Road leading to Ukiah.