Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Fruit Loop

We headed out towards the Hood River area about 9am. Everyone else in the campground was getting packed up to leave. Based on this experience, the 4th of July week had no impact on the level of campground use.  There was lots of traffic from people heading home from the mountains.
Our route took us through Sandy. We, and thousands of others, can't pass through Sandy without stopping at Joe's Donut Shop for, perhaps, the worlds best donuts. Two apple fritters, two blueberry and two of the fluffiest cake donuts ever.  When you go to Joe's on the weekend, you do need to bring your patience; there is always a line.

 After pulling into a closed weigh station to eat some super fresh donuts, we continued the Toll Gate Hood County Campground. It's conveniently located on US 35 about ten miles south of Hood River. We've been to the day use part of the park before but this is our first stay in the campground. It's very nice. There are tent/dry camping sites for $15, water/electric for $20 and full-hookup for $22 and a handful of river front water/electric sites for $25.  We sprang for the $22 rate for two nights while we go explore our camping options. The 4th of July holiday is a non-event here as well. A walk around the campground showed there were perhaps 20 campers out of 80+ sites.

If Gopher came back as a cat, heaven forbid, she would look just like this. The white collar, chest and two white paws. An uncanny resemblance.

As I type this, the cat is sitting on top of the picnic table about 20' away and Gopher is sitting on the passenger seat growling and whining. She wants out. Not guna happen, Gopher. Like a lot of places we've camped, there's a good supply of feral cats.

Monday, Tuesday,Wednesday:

We drove all around the Fruit Loop stopping here and there. Cherries and berries are the only  fruits available. It will be a few more weeks before the pears are ready. We bought some excellent local cherries.

 Cherry trees with Mount Hood  in the background

Hood River has a very nice waterfront area that's popular for windsurfing, kite boarding, kayaking, etc. We found a nice parking spot each day and enjoyed watching the activities. Seems people come to Hood River from most of the Western states and Canada for the great windsurfing.

Along the waterfront. Hood River.

 We came across an area of unofficially free camping right near the downtown riverfront area. It was mostly the people who were here for the wind surfing activities. That's not us so we decided to just stay put through the 4th.

The 4th of July was spent catching up on maintenance, cleaning the camper, and staying off the roads which we'll leave to the drunks today.

Change of plans:
Initially, the plan was to head east from here, through the Wallowa-Whitman NF, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area then into Idaho and Montana.  Looking ahead to the weather forecast for those areas show mid to upper 80's to close to a 100* depending on where you are. Since we don't like hot weather, if we did we would be home, and almost never stay in campgrounds with electrical hookups, we decided to head to the coast instead.  We'll take cloudy, overcast, but cool, to a clear sky, blazing hot day. So, in the morning, we head to Tillamook then south from there.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Estacada Area


The plan was to stay in this campground longer, but an unanticipated need for some dental work for me took us toward Salem on this beautiful, sunny day. We were finished, and on our way, by noon time. After some Chinese takeout from Safeway, we headed for the BLM administered Molalla River Recreation Corridor near Molalla. There is a county park near Molalla, where for $5 I dumped the tanks and filled up with water.
We're in the heart of the Willamette Valley. This was the destination of the pioneers traveling the Oregon Trail. There are farms everywhere. A lot of them, I suspect, are still in the original pioneers family. We stopped at a roadside stand and bought some wonderful raspberries and blackberries. There are cherry trees, Christmas tree farms, berry fields, vineyards, fruit trees, on and on.


 Later in the trip we're going back to the Hood River Valley that we enjoyed so much on previous trips. There is a network of roads around Hood River that is called the Fruit Loop. We'll drive the Fruit Loop. :-)
The Molalla River Rec. Corridor is something a little different. There are named “campgrounds” but the campground is simply a wide spot in the road with a metal fire ring. The only way you really know you've arrived at a campground is by spotting the fire ring. Then you see, nailed to a tree, the name of the campground. The campgrounds are all free. We drove the paved road following the Molalla River for perhaps ten miles just looking around. We came across a very nice “campground” called Mama Bear. (44.99580 -122.48907) It consisted of one fire ring. The river was very accessible from this site and Gopher and I took a little walk along the riverbank. Our site was surrounded by trees and lots of wildflowers.

 Wild blackberries. Will be ripe in a few more days.

 There must be a lot of logging going on in the area because logging trucks, really loud ones, came by perhaps every thirty minutes.

 Our campsite
 The river next to us
 A pretty stream

Identified two new trees today. The Vine Maple and the Rocky Mountain Maple.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday

Loggers go to work real early. The loaded trucks started racing by at about 5am. The three of us were up, dressed, fed, and on the way by 6am. One night at Mama Bear was enough.

Our very early start got us to Estacada by 7:30. The plan was to stay at one of the USFS campgrounds along OR 224 which follows the Clackamas River. We started in Estacada and drove through every campground we came across, looking for the perfect site. Every campground we tried, except for Carter Bridge, has lots of reservable sites. Every one was reserved for the weekend. The sites that were not reserved were either taken or tent sites or just not very nice. After touring campground #4, we came across the Sunstrip campground. (45.15081 -122.10633) It's a very small campground, having only nine sites but the site usually taken by the campground host was available. We have a very large, level, pull-through site right on the bank of the river.
The campground host stopped by to collect the camping fee of $10/night. That's expensive compared to the FS campgrounds we stayed in around the Cascade Lakes area. This campground has a pit toilet, a hand pump for water and trash collection. We had been paying $7/night for sites like this.
After admiring the Lazy Daze, the host commented on our great site. He manages three other campgrounds and said we have one of the best sites of all “his” campgrounds. All the good sites are already take. Good thing we got such an early start.

The sun shined on Thursday until almost noon time. We'll take it.

The river is popular with rafters and kayakers; on Saturday in particular.  No more sunshine for the weekend. We decided to go to the Hood River area on Sunday to explore the Fruit Loop.

 Our campsite
 Our view of the river