Saturday, June 09, 2012

Into the mountains

We spent last night at AM Solar. About 8:30 we made our last Wal-Mart run then went to Kohl's to get Carol some more warm things. When we packed for this "summer" trip we brought mostly summer cloths. Only twice in the last two months has it been shorts weather.  The weather forecast for the weekend is pretty dismal.  A"freezing mix" is what the weather guy calls it. We're ready for it. The propane tank's filled up and the Wave 3 heater is on hot standby, so to speak.

We took the scenic route from Springfield, as recommended by Deb,  and are at the Black Canyon USFS campground Russ had suggested. Two excellent ideas.  Last nights rain has been alternating today between a  steady rain with the occasional improvement to a heavy mist.  That combined with the very heavy tree cover, moss covered limbs and dense understory, has us keeping on eye out for Big Foot.

A very old stump. Most likely from the virgin forest.
 Our campsite
 The river from our site.

This is a large campground; 70 sites.  The campground sits on the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. Our site has a nice river view but no direct river access because of the very steep bank. The FS website says max. trailer length of 38'.  That would be a very cozy fit in this campground.  Some of the turns between the trees were tight for us. I wouldn't want to be dragging a long trailer through here. Tonight it's us and two other campers as best I can tell.

I've been giving the new Russ/Donna plant book a workout.

This one's a mystery


We drove into Oakridge and saw a sign telling of a $5 dump station so we did. I spotted the local USFS office and stopped in for more great, local information. Then it was off to the Lion Mountain Bakery where I got a great loaf of whole wheat bread that was filled with all sorts of assorted seeds, nuts and such things. The loaf must weigh 2#. Plus they had some great looking cookies for Carol; Walnut Cranberry, P-Nut Butter and Trail Mix.  The Willamette Fish Hatchery is in Oakridge. I walked around there for a while but it was too cold for Carol. While I was there, they were loading a truck with juvenile spring Chinook salmon in the "smolt" stage.  These fish were to be released into the Willamette River.
Willamette Fish Hatchery

 Tanks filled with millions of very small fish. Mostly Chinook Salmon and trout.

There is a picnic area with sculptures carved from wood.

A bear in progress.

The Salt Creek Tunnel on HWY 58 is being rebuilt. It's been closed since last Monday and just reopened to one-way traffic this morning. They are digging down about three feet below the current grade and building a new road.

Our next stop was the Salt Creek Falls Observation Site.  Once again, it was too cold for Carol, and for most everyone else,  so Gopher and I set out to see the beautiful falls.   The Salt Creek Falls are the second highest in Oregon at 286'. The main trail to the falls is paved and fully accessible.
Salt Creek Falls

The snow started as we approached the Willamette Pass; 5,126'.  It didn't amount to anything, but it was pretty.  Jennifer told Carol it was 90* in the D.C. area. We'll take a little cold over hot and humid.

We continued to the Waldo Lake Recreation; our planned stop for the next few days. In spite of what the Forest Service folks, and web site said, none of the three campgrounds were open. We continued on to a FS campground called Odell Creek located on the east end of Odell Lake.  Turns out, Odell Creek is actually part of a large resort complex on land leased from the USFS.  We don't stay at "resorts" so we continued east to Crescent Lake.
The USFS has four campgrounds on Crescent Lake. We're at the one simply called Crescent Lake. $8/night for a great, waterfront site.  43.49857  -121.97458.  It's cold with a "winter mix". That means some sleet, snow and cold rain. The Wave 3 is running full tilt. The low tonight is forecast to be at, or below, freezing.
The weather is supposed to get nicer in a few days, so we're going to hang around here until it does.
Gopher and I took some nice walks along the shore. The water is crystal clear, and very, very cold. Even Gopher, who seems to be immune to cold water, didn't get herself all wet.

Identifying native Oregon trees. I bought yet another tree book at the Forest Service office today.  Now I'm ready for anything I see.
A quiz:
West of the Cascades, you could guess that any needle-leaved tree in the forest is this tree and be right 8 out of 10 times, plus these trees furnish more products for human use then any other tree in the world, and it's the nations most popular Christmas tree. In addition, it's Oregon's state tree.
I picked a few small branches and brought them inside. The camper smells like a Christmas tree.

Saw a bunch of Common Mergansers today.

Saturday, June 9, 2012.

We woke up to a beautiful, snowy, 32* morning.  Gopher and I were taking our morning walk by about 6am.   It wasn't a heavy snow, mostly a dusting, but for three Floridians, it was fun to see.  By 10am it was all gone.

Somewhere in the photo archives is a picture of us in Yellowstone on the Forth of July of some year that I can't recall,  standing in the snow.

Our site is heavily shaded by huge Douglas-fir trees. Very little sun is making its way to the solar panels so I turned on the generator for a while, to give the batteries a boost. Plus it was time for the generators monthly exercise anyway.

Crescent Lake is amazingly clear. From the end of the  dock, I could easily see details on the lake bottom. I'm guessing the water was about 15' deep/
In the distance is Royce Mountain at 6,080'

The last two days I've been working on learning my Oregon trees.  It's not as easy as I thought. I've learned that a Douglas-fir, the official state tree of Oregon, really isn't a fir and that a Western Redcedar isn't a cedar at all; in fact there  are no true cedars that are native to the New World. They are only native to the Mediterranean and Himalayan regions of the world. The "berries" on a Western Juniper? Not berries at all but non-woody cones with small, soft scales that seldom open.  I've got a ways to go before I'm ready to give guided tours of the forest.

There are three more campgrounds on Crescent Lake. Tomorrow we go exploring.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

A wondeful visit + AM Solar

Monday, June 4th

A parting picture of the Whitaker Creek campground. A beautiful place, indeed.

We left the Whitaker Creek campground mid-morning and drove to Eugene to visit with our friends Russ, Donna, Rusty and Poppy. Donna is a super cook. For lunch she made teriyaki chicken and mixed veggies on a stick accompanied with a fresh salad and a selection of berries for desert. We haven't eaten that well for quite some time. Tuesday breakfast was yet another treat.
Poppy Dog had a habit I've never seen before. She would just get into the bathtub and lay there. So, when you were using the bathroom, you had some nice dog company.  When I got my camera she got out of the tub. Embarrassed perhaps? Perhaps Donna can post a picture of Poppy Dog in the tub.

On Tuesday, Russ and I drove to the municipal sewer treatment plant where they have a free dump station. To top it all off, Russ and Donna gave us a great book called Common Plants of the Inland Pacific Northwest and told us about some of their favorite OR camping areas.  Now, with their book in hand,  when we see a new plant, we'll be able to figure out what we're looking at. Maybe.  We have two very comprehensive bird books but we're still frequently perplexed. It always seems that the bird we're looking at is the female, juvenile, in Autumn plumage and that's the one picture the books are lacking.
The three of us had a very enjoyable visit. 

Camping in a friends front yard.

  After topping off with water, we headed out to run our errands and go to AM Solar where we spent the night.  Steve(Lazy Bones) is here. He and his dog Jiggs, are on the way to Alaska and he stopped at AM Solar to add a third panel to his array. We had met Steve at "Q" this year. Steve's daughter is flying into Anchorage in July and they're going exploring together. This is Steve's second trip to AK.
They started working on the rig about 8:45am and didn't finish up until about 6:30pm. They have a wonderful customer lounge but still, that's a lot of just hanging around. Once all was said and done, we wound up with one more panel for a total of 300 watts, 4 AGM batteries (880 amp hours) and a Tri-Metric battery monitor.  We did meet a nice couple who are full-timers, Bob and Kim Dance,who are also getting some work done, so that helped pass the time.

Tomorrow we head east to the mountains.
 Greg and Deb Holder are the owners of AM Solar. AM stands for Alternate Means, as in different options.  Deb is very knowledgeable about OR campgrounds, boondocking, and such, and gave us some good camping ideas.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Heading slowly east.

Sunday, June 3

During our early morning walk, I counted 23 RV's in the Three River "campground"
There were economical rigs:
and expensive rigs:
and everything in between.

We went exploring through the town but mostly we wanted to see the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. The South Jetty Dune and Beach Access Road (43.95656  -124.11743)  gave us a good taste of the area. It's primarily for the OHV/ATV or whatever, folks. Even on Sunday morning the place was hoping. There are disbursed camping options in the area, but mostly for the OHV set. I suspect if you weren't into OHV riding the noise would drive you bonkers. A number of years ago we camped in the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah; another big OHV site. The guys, and gals of course, fired up their toys about sunrise and didn't stop riding until dark. It was fun watching for one day but that was enough.

After that we headed east on OR 126. Tonight we're in a super BLM campground; Whitaker Creek.  (43.98602  -123.66469) $5/night with the Geezer Card. We're camped right on Whitaker Creek. The campsite even came with a nice supply of dry firewood and kindling courtesy of whoever camped here just before us. I supplemented that supply by picking up a few pieces here and there from other campsites. We were toasty warm today!!
Later in the day, the campground host, James ,stopped by for a chat. He said there was a huge supply of firewood by his campsite that was free for the taking.
We're the only campers on this side of the campground.  We like that.

 Keeping toasty warm

 Whitaker Creek

 I think this is a Banana Slug

Pacific Sideband snail. Monadenia fidelis.

Tomorrow we head east to visit with Russ, Donna, Rusty and Poppy in Eugene.