Saturday, May 26, 2012

Waterloo Campground


It was raining when we awoke, and raining when we went to bed. Now and then, the rain got light enough to go walking. I've gotten where I can recognize the Oregon kids; they're the ones with moss hanging from their ears.

We took the day to go into Lebanon for a Wal-Mart run and to get gas. We filled up at $4.21/gallon. The highest price since leaving home. An internet news item said WA, OR & CA had the highest gas prices in the lower-48.

Gopher and I went to the dog park for a while. There was one other dog there. A very long-legged hound dog of some type. The owner said he thought it was a Vizsla mix; at least that's what the folks at the dog pound said. The chase began. Gopher is very fast, but not as fast as this dog. After a half hour of racing around, they were both wore out.

Our camping neighbors, Gary and Janice from right here in Lebanon, OR, have a rabbit they leave outside in a fenced enclosure like people use for small dogs. Gopher is mesmerized by the sight and smell of Mr. Rabbit. When she's outside, I keep her on a heavy duty leash. Rabbit is not on the menu.

The weather forecast for the next few days is rather gloomy so rather then boondocking in the woods as we had planned, we decided to stay here until Sunday they head to the coast. Gary reminded us that the coast gets even less sunshine then around here. Oh well. I have a raincoat and Gopher is an all-weather dog; we'll do just fine.

Friday and Saturday:
About 11am on Friday the sun peaked out from behind the clouds for a few hours. We celebrated by cooking dinner on the grill. Sweet potatoes, zucchini, and the last of the hamburgers. Going forward, no more red meat. That should make some cows happy. About 8pm, the rain started.

Friday was also June Bug day. At least that's what Gary called them. There were countless numbers of them flying everywhere. By sunset they were all gone. He said that was it. They just come out for a day to breed and disappear. Not unlike the Love Bugs of Florida although Love Bug season lasts for a few weeks in June then again in September.

Late Saturday there were still a handful of campsites available which reinforces our experience that even on the busiest of weekends, campgrounds rarely reach 100% occupancy. In our several years of travels, we can only recall being turned away twice.

Today was the typical family orientated Memorial Day in the campground. Happy kids zipping around here and there, families playing outdoor games, guys fishing, cookouts, barking dogs, on and on. Just as it should be.

Gary and Janice have quite a garden. Earlier today Gary went home for something and brought us back a bunch of snow peas he had just picked. Tonight’s dinner was snow peas and broccoli with a jar of spaghetti sauce; a nice healthy dinner.

We're jammed in with the other 100+- other RV's. Just behind us are the cottonwood trees then the river. 

There is a boat launch next to the campground. A nice place for a dog to take a swim.

In the morning, we head the coast for a week. The ten day forecast is for a mix of weather. Some days the forecast is for an overcast day, the other days are for cloudy. Wonder which is brighter? Overcast or cloudy??

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It's snowing. Time to move on.

We awoke this morning to 34* and snow. We expect lots of precipitation in the Cascade Range, that's just the way the weather works out here, but prefer ours in drops and NOT flakes. The Wave 3 heater was on all night and it was 54* inside at 6am. That's very consistent with our previous experiences that the heater can maintain an interior temperature about 20* above outside temperature. 

Carol is very sensitive to cold temperatures so we decided to head west and to a lower elevation. The drive on US 20 is as pretty as any we've seen. We checked out a few USFS campgrounds along the way, but they were dark and dreary. With the very dense tree canopy, everything at ground level is covered with moss, mushrooms, lichen and such. Looks like someplace out of the Hobbit stories. Gollum can't be far away!!

Where is My Precious??

 By the time we got to Tombstone Pass (4,236') the snow was beginning to accumulate on the road. 

Tombstone Pass

I stopped in the USFS district office in Sweet Home and came away with a ton of great local information. We might just to take the Quartzville Road as part of our travels after we leave Springfield on June 7th. It's a “Recreation Corridor and Back Country Byway” that runs from the Sweet Home area east towards Marion Forks. The Ranger Lady I talked to said it affords countless boondocking opportunities, and we just strike it rich, she said with a big grin on her face. Seems people still pan for gold in that area. 

Tonight we're at the Linn County Waterloo Campground located east of Lebanon off US 20 (44.48862 -122.81496). $19/night for us old folks; a very good value for a site with water and electric. There are 120 campsites. Sixty sites are reserveable and they are all booked for the coming holiday weekend. Right now, there are less then a dozen campers. Our camping neighbor lives in town and said the campground would be completely full by probably late tomorrow. The property is very well maintained with play areas for the children, fishing access to the South Santium River, and an off-lease dog park. Well worth a stop. As soon as I got hooked up the first order of business was to plug in the electric heater and point it straight at Carol.  The inside temperature is a toasty 73* plus our precipitation is in the form of drops.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Metolius River and Lost Lake

Chores day. We went to Prineville to do laundry at the place Jim suggested, then dumped the tanks and topped off with water at the Crook County Fairgrounds RV Park ($5). Then it was grocery shopping at Fred Meyers in Redmond. Filled up with our first tank of Oregon gas; $4.13/gallon; the highest price we've seen on this trip.
Then we drove very slowly, that's the only weekend option there is, through Sisters remembering the last time we were there. The view of the snow topped Sisters Mountains, Faith(north), Hope(middle) and Charity(south), was as beautiful as we remembered. Tonight we're at the Allen Springs USFS campground ($7) (44.52738 -121.62892). Our campsite is very large and directly on the bank of the Metolius River affording us a super view. The headwaters of the river are at Metolius Springs, where the river emerges from two clusters of springs, about 300 feet apart. That's why the water is so clear. The springs are at the base of Black Butte. Water flows to these springs from the drainage basin around Black Butte Ranch, several miles to the south. The Metolius River flows 28.6 miles from Metolius Springs through the Deschutes National Forest, emptying into Lake Billy Chinook and ultimately the Deschutes River.
This place is popular with the fly fisherman, although we never saw anyone catch anything. There is a trail running along the rivers edge that goes for miles. Gopher and I has a nice walk. She went for a swim in the 48* water. Brrrr!

 The Metolis River
 Our campsite
 Our view

Some time ago we tracked the Mississippi River to it's source in Lake Itasca, Minnesota. Somewhere in the photo archives is a picture of Gopher and I walking across the river. (I walked, Gopher swam.) At it's source, in the Itasca State Park, the river was about up to my knees and about twenty feet wide. The water was perfectly clear just like the Metolius River. Quite different then the Mississippi River water that discharges into the Gulf.

Jim recommended this camping area. A very good suggestion, indeed. We'll be back.

Today was weigh-in day. We both have health goals and maintaining a reasonably healthy weight is one of them. Neither of us needed a scale to tell us what we already knew, but wished we didn't. Going forward, no more bakery stops and more veggie meals. Our basic eat less, move more type diet like we do at home. For desert after lunch, we have one cookie and split it three ways. Desert after dinner is small bowl of apple stuff with a dollop of frozen yogurt.

A chilly and overcast day. The drizzle started about noon time and continued for the rest of the day. On the positive side, the rain did soften the bugs up enough that I was able to take a rag and give the front of the camper a much needed cleaning.

The predominant trees around our campsite are cedar, but I don't know what type, and Lodgepole Pine with some Ponderosa Pines. Growing in some clearings along the river are some “Christmas trees”, most likely a spruce of some sort. What a botanist would call “mixed conifers”.The tree identification book I have is very limited. Next time we find a book store, I'll get one devoted to the Pacific Northwest. Much like the birds and animals, we just enjoy knowing what trees we're looking at.

Woke up to a mostly decent day but by mid-morning a light, but steady, rain started. We decided to go exploring. Suttle Lake is off US 20/OR 126 west of where were camped. The USFS has three nice campgrounds on the lake. Blue Bay, South Shore and Link Creek. Blue Bay and Link Creek have some sites right on the lake. Most sites can be reserved and were for the upcoming weekend. I suspect these campgrounds are full on most every summer weekend. This morning, in all three campgrounds there was a total of three campers. Any of these campgrounds would be very nice, with Link Creek being our favorite.
We continued west to the Lost Lake USFS camping area which is just west of the Santiam Pass.(4,817'). These OR passes are wimps compared to the CO Rockies.
As we were driving along the one and a half lane road that not quite, circles the lake, an SUV was coming the other way. The guy pulled over so we could get by but said I shouldn't go much further in the camper because the snow on the road gets deeper. We're at 4,000'. I found a place to turn around and we drove back to a nice, snow-free, spot we had looked at coming in. Shortly after we got the camper, we installed a Wave 3 heater. It's been running day and night for the last few days.
We're right here: 44.43121 -121.91228
It's just the three of us with an unobstructed view of Lost Lake. A great place to pass a rainy day or two.

 Our campsite
 Our view
 Right now it's 2:40 pm. 42* and raining. A good day to be wrapped in a blanket.

So often, we find just amazing camping spots only to have an even better one awaiting not far away. Lost Lake is one of those very special places. We'll be back.
We've been wondering where to go after our appointment with AM Solar on June 6. We decided we'll just head back into the Cascade Range where we've been for the last few days.
Oregon is such a beautiful state.