I camped at Summer Lake in 2013 and have wanted to return for years. Last fall I was planning on returning but with a weather forecast of bitter cold and snow, I aborted that plan. On this trip, on my way south I was going to stay. Instead I only saw Summer Lake as I hurriedly drove south working to keep ahead of a bitter cold front descending from the north. Now today. As I drove north I was driving through dark gray skies and snow. In places there was a couple of inches of snow covering the ground. The wind was blowing cold. I made the decision that if I could find a place to fill my propane tanks for the furnace, I would turn off the road and stay. I was able to get the propane tanks filled – I ventured to Summer Lake. It was better than I remembered.Continue reading
Back in the fall of 2020 I hatched a plan to head south the first of February in 2021. The plan was to get away from the Pacific Northwest cold and wet weather. I would drive south on I-5 to Bakersfield and then head eastward towards Death Valley and explore. Then covid hit California hard. Driving through California didn’t seem responsible with the ICUs full and I didn’t want to drive down the east side of the sierras pulling a trailer with the potential of icy roads. Surprisingly, California started recovering from covid in February. I made the decision to go south.
I started driving from Seattle and it took me five days to get to what I thought of as the beginning of the trip – Red Rock Canyon, California. This included an extra day waiting on the north side of the Siskiyous for the road conditions to improve. When I read the Oregon DOT site at 1:00 pm; it was 30 degrees at the pass, snowing hard, bumper to bumper traffic with a 60 minute delay. It was not a hard decision to check into the Valley of the Rogue Campground to wait the weather out. The next day was much better.
It was a long slog south, but I made it to Red Rock Canyon.Continue reading
I’m staying at John Day for the month of October volunteering at Kam Wah Chung. While there I’m exploring the area.
The tourist brochure for Grant County listed the top 20 tourist sights and included the Humongous Fungus with a note to see the chamber of commerce or forest service for more information. My interest was perked. The Humongous Fungus was in the top 20 sites to visit in Grant County! I located the chamber of commerce office and went in to get the information on this interesting site. The gentleman there had heard of it but couldn’t find any information on it. He couldn’t remember if he had ever visited it. He suggested I visit the forest service office, so off I went. At the forest service office the lady looked around a bit and then found the information for me. Then she pointed on the map (that she gave me) where I should go to see the Humongous Fungus. When I pointed out to her that the area wasn’t where the map located the Humongous Fungus, her reply was: “it is all the same.” I was getting more intrigued about the Humongous Fungus. It didn’t appear to be a hot tourist spot.
Another abandoned ranch. Without a plan, this seems to be a theme for this trip. In this fast world, it is calming to see items made by hand slowly. I slowly look at how things were cobbled together. Yet I imagine that the Riddles may have found pleasure in our easy to purchase manufactured world. They had a hard life.
This is big country. Driving Hwy 140 you can see vast distances. By Sage Hen summit I could see the Steens to the north and the Pine Forest Range to the south with fresh snow on the top. It is a wonderful middle of nowhere type of place. In the valley of Guano Lake there were miles of grass land.
I came to the Lava Beds National Monument to see the caves and found so much more. The area is full of surprises, contradictions, and irony with a complicated history of war mixed in.
The geology of the lava tube caves was interesting but unexpectly it didn’t grab my interest. I felt an uneasyness as I ventured into the dark caves. And with my headlamp and a large flashlight both on, I couldn’t light up the cave to see the details of the rock. So I stopped visiting the caves and ventured out to see other sights I had heard about.
Driving south from Seattle to the Lava Beds NM gives one plenty of time to think about how to solve the world’s problems. I didn’t do that, I just zoned-out and drove. Smiling as I enjoyed the scenery. I had forgotten how pleasant the drive is between Biggs and Madras on Highway 97. Not much traffic and high plateau farming and ranching. At the north end are huge un-worldly wind turbines. Looking at them reminded me of all the marvelous things engineers have figured out. After a night spent at the Haystack Reservoir East Shore Campground I continued driving south. It was a rainy day, raining the entire way from Madras to Klamath Fall with low clouds. No scenery and lots of traffic. Ugh. The dogs and I needed to take a break and do something other than driving so we stopped at the Collier Memorial Logging Museum. What a pleasant surprise.
After a month at the City of Rocks and Castle Rocks, Idaho, it was time to hit the pavement and get home to Seattle.
Birds of Prey
I’ve never had a bad night camping in the many years I’ve been camping. The odds caught up with me; with my stay on the Snake River near the Swan Fall hydro power plant. It was a Sunday night; it should be a quite night – correct? I was tired of driving. I-84 throught Idaho was busy, boring, and hot; so I simply picked a camp site that look adaquate. I settled for camp site #1, which was very close to #2, #3, and #4 and a vaulted toilet. Not a good site, but it being Sunday night, I was sure it would be quiet.