Friday, May 18, 2012

South Fork of the John Day River


When I got up this morning, I had hoped to talk to Paul some more. Yesterday, while talking about Florida, he mentioned that when he was a Naval Cadet, he attended flight school in Fort Lauderdale then went off to war (meaning WW II). I bet there were some interesting stories there.

As we left the Depot Campground this morning, we drove around Prairie City. That doesn't take very long but we did come across this nice mural. 

There is a USFS office in town. The women was very helpful in providing camping information about the Malheur NF. We continued west to John Day. There is very comprehensive Public Lands Information Center in town. Once again, the women on duty was very knowledgeable and helpful. She said disbursed camping is allowed throughout the forest and made some suggestions.
While in John Day, I visited the Kam Wah Chung & Company State Heritage Site. During the gold mining days, Chinese labor was extensively used. The Chinese were customarily paid half of the American wage for the same job performed. That reminded me of a job I had when I was about 16. I worked as a common laborer for a construction company that was building a sugar mill in Belle Glade, FL. Actually, a sugar mill in Puerto Rico had been disassembled, shipped to Belle Glade, and was being put back together. At any rate, I was paid $1.00/hour because I was a white boy. Those that were not, earned $0.75/hour. The boss would sent me into town with his pickup to get stuff from the lumber yard. My friend, Eddie, a black kid about my age, would go along but was not allowed to sit in the cab because he would make it smell; he had to ride in the truck bed. When we got to the lumber yard, Eddie could not come inside. I would go in, place the order then buy us both an RC Cola then take his out to him. The first time we went to town was to pick up a load of nails. I was helping load the nails into the truck. A lumber yard employee told me to stop that. Truck loading was a n@%^)^# job, not a white boys. That's why Eddie came to town with me; someone had to do the work. That was my first, but surely not my last, personal introduction to the depth of racial hatred in America. I'm over 50 years older now and it seems ,that in some quarters, things haven't changed all that much. The laws have changed, for sure, but not the attitude.

I'll bring this poster current. Whenever the word Chinese appears, delete and add Mexican. Whenever the word Democratic appears, delete and add Republican.
 Back to the topic. Kam Wha Chung, the name of the building, translates as Golden Flower of Prosperity. It's “golden flower” era began when young immigrants Ing “Doc” Hay and Lung On bought the building in 1888. Then it became a successful place of business (a general store) , a herbal medicine office, a haven from persecution, a temple and their home.

As we left John Day, we came across one of the free Oregon DOT weigh stations. Since there was no one else using it, I took the time to get the weight of each of the corners of the camper. Now I have some current information to use in reviewing tire pressure and shifting some weight from here to there. Hmmm. We've put on a little weight since the last time we got weighed. Too many apple fritters??

Today was exploring day. We took County Road 42/South Fork Road, which runs south off US 26 in Dayville, OR. It's a decent graded dirt road that runs through the Phillip W. Schneider Wilderness Area. I chose it because the road mostly follows the path of the South Fork of the John Day River. We came across today’s campsite right on the bank of the river.
44.41099 -119.54143

There is an irrigated crop of alfalfa growing nearby, as well as a dry grain crop. About 7:00pm a guy on an ATV stopped by. His family has a ranch nearby. He tends the crop for the State Fish & Game Dept. He explained that a dry grain crop is a term for any type grain grown without irrigation. The crops are planted to attract migrating birds and for the resident wild sheep and elk. He said to watch the hills nearby for the sheep. The elk are much more elusive. He went on to explain, that this early in the year, there was still water in the mountains in the form of streams and ponds. When these water supplies give out, the animals will come down to the river to drink. Until then, sightings down here will be scarce.

Our campsite

South Folk of the John Day River
 Our morning walk.
 The planted fields.
Just caught a brief glimpse of this creature before it vanished into the woods.

I asked about other nearby camping options and he said that, by far, this was the best. The other disbursed areas along the river have very high banks which limits access. Gopher likes the easy river access here. She's been wet twice so far.

The camping areas on the Snake River near Huntington and the one two days ago on the marsh, were amazing. I think this one's even better but Carol enjoyed the marsh site more. Our view from the dinette window is the river then hills. When the windows are opened, we can hear the flow of the river.
A few minutes ago, we looked out the window watched a beaver swimming upstream.

Friday, May 18:

On May 18, 1980 Mount St. Helen erupted. 57 people were killed and millions of tons of ash blanketed the Pacific Northwest.

I was up at sunrise, about 5:30am, looking for critters. Should have stayed in bed.
The weather is just perfect. It was 41* when I got up but warmed up to 66* by noon time.
The crop tending guy stopped by about 8am. He saw two antelope on the way here.

Identified a new bird today. A Spotted Sandpiper.

For the last two days, it's been just the three of us. On the odd occasion, a pickup truck would drive past on the road, but that was about it.
 In the morning, we're off to visit with our friend Jim.


Karen and Tony said...

You're sure finding some nice spots!

Ed and Jeanne Gaffney said...

Beautiful campsite Ed. Love following your travel. Just like being there.

Donna K said...

Lovely spot along the river. Great shot of the elusive Oregon Marmalotgrapusped!!

Sue O said...

Great info on the areas you visit but I do think you need to check your history, it has always been the Democrats that caused racist policies to continue, today is no different with their insistence on making everything a racial issue. It was the Republican Party (yes there were some racist Republicans but then there are bad apples in every barrel) who pushed for racial equality. Think Eisenhower and the military. Just wish they didn't teach revisionist history these days.