Friday, August 7, 2015

The Trip Home: Washington to New Mexico via the National Parks!

 Riding at Bryce Canyon National Park

When I last wrote, I had left Seattle where I visited with my son and other family and friends for over a month.  I was ready to start heading back to the Southwest, but not before I went to Olympic National Park.  All of the years I lived in Seattle, I had only driven past the park to get to various vacation destinations.  But now, on my "2015 No Regrets Tour," I took the time to enjoy the Olympic Peninsula.

Sol Duc River at Olympic National Park

I spent several days at Olympic National Park, trying different campgrounds and seeing the Park's many-faceted features.  My favorite place was Sol Duc, where there is a privately-owned hot springs resort and RV park within the Park's boundaries.  I opted to stay down the road about a half-mile at the National Park's own campground, for a lot less money.  I lucked out and got a spot that was right near the walking trail over to the hot springs resort.  The day fee for using the hot springs was something like $13, very reasonable.  You get a wrist band and can come back several times during the day or evening if you wish.  

My campsite at Sol Duc

I had an encounter with a neighbor at Sol Duc that reminded me that I have a life back home that I was kind of missing.  I had accomplished the main purpose of my trip (spending about a month hanging out in Seattle where I would be available to my son and friends on their schedule).  So, I stopped moseying so much and began to make tracks for New Mexico.  Besides, there was a heat wave in the Pacific Northwest, so I figured I might as well head home a little more quickly than I'd planned.  I still went to most of the places I wanted to, but I didn't linger as long or meander as much as I had on my way north.

 Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park

After Sol Duc, I stayed one really lovely night at the Fairholme Campground on Lake Crescent.  After that, I had hoped to stay at one of the beach campgrounds somewhere along the West Coast portion of Olympic National Park, but it was a very busy time and I had no reservations.  I couldn't get in at Quinault, either, and temperatures nearing 100 degrees were predicted, so I made a quick shot down I-5 to stay with friends in Eugene, Oregon, who have a 30-amp post in their driveway.  I was able to use my new roof-top air conditioner that I'd had installed in Washington, and it was great!  It literally scared the piss out of the cat the first time I turned it on, but she got used to it quickly.  

Whistlers Bend County Park, outside Roseburg, Oregon

From Eugene, my next goal was to visit Crater Lake, another place I'd lived close to for many years but had never visited.  I took the North Umpqua Highway (Oregon Route 138) east from Roseburg and stayed at a lovely little Douglas County Park called Whistlers Bend.  There were also lots of Forest Service campgrounds all along that road--so many great choices and such a beautiful drive.

Wizard's Hat, an island in Crater Lake

I enjoyed a wonderful day at Crater Lake National Park, but I did not find a campsite there.  This was something I ran into a lot on my way home at the National Parks, even though they say on their websites that they have first-come, first-served camping.  But that turned out okay at Crater Lake.  I took the two-hour trolley tour ($24 for seniors) all the way around the lake.  A ranger gave us lots of great information on how this unique lake formed, what wildlife live in the area, etc.  It was a great way to see the Park, especially for a solo traveler.  After the tour, I headed south to Chiloquin, Oregon, where I stayed overnight (free!) at the Kla-Mo-Ya Casino.  

 Beautiful Lake Helen, at Lassen Volcanic National Park

My next goal was to check out the Lava Beds National Monument and Lassen Volcanic National Park.  I hadn't realized it, but they are at the south end of what is called the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, which starts near Crater Lake.  All along this route, I enjoyed beautiful views of Mount Shasta, and I was also reminded of playing the old computer game Oregon Trail which had a California trail option that went through this area.  

 Mount Shasta was on my horizon for two days of driving

I visited Lava Beds one day, overnighted at Lower Rush Creek Campground in the Modoc National Forest, and went to Lassen the next day and afterwards stayed at Gurnsey Creek Campground in nearby Lassen National Forest.  I didn't linger at either of these parks because most of the visitor activity involves hiking.  I've learned on this trip that I do best at the bigger National Parks where they have bus rides, ranger talks, maybe a little nature trail, a nice lodge with rocking chairs on the deck, etc.

The next goal was to find a campground somewhere along the way to Lake Tahoe where I could stop and rest for a couple of days.  I wanted to cross all of Nevada via U.S. Highway 50, "America's Loneliest Highway," in just a couple of days, but needed to be ready for that push.  I made a wonderful unexpected find, Martis Creek Lake Corps of Engineers Campground near Truckee, California.  It was not as lush as the beautiful Pacific Northwest campgrounds I'd become accustomed to, but it was pleasant enough.  Being near the Truckee Airport, there were lots of fun experimental aircraft to watch, and I sat outside and did a little painting.

My nice little boondocking spot along the Loneliest Highway

I did manage to make it across most of Nevada in two days, boondocking one night about halfway across the state at an unmarked picnic spot in the Humboldt-Toiyaba National Forest, east of Austin, Nevada.  Just a pull-off with a picnic table under a tree.  It was a great place to rest, and I was on the road again early the next day.  

Before leaving Nevada, I spent a day at Great Basin National Park and camped there at Lower Lehman Creek Campground.  The main activities at Great Basin are taking hikes or driving up to about 10,000 feet to look at bristlecone pines.

The view from my lovely Red Canyon campsite

My next destination was Bryce Canyon National Park, but I was so floored by the sight of Red Canyon, outside Bryce in the Dixie National Forest, that I had to stop for two days.  I camped at Red Canyon Campground and had a large campsite and a fabulous view of my very own hoodoos.  It was at Red Canyon that I noticed that the hip bursitis that had begun to plague me in Oregon and Washington was gone!  I was able to do a bit more hiking than I had for a while.

The dining room at Bryce Canyon Lodge

After not getting campsites at several National Parks, I decided I would visualize a wonderful visit to Bryce Canyon, with a good campsite, a bus tour, and a trail ride.  It worked!  Everything went exactly as I'd hoped.  I happened to arrive at Bryce Canyon on a weekend when they were having a geology fest, so there was an excellent tour led by a university geology prof.  I stayed two nights at Sunset Campground and was pleased to find out that, after having two knee replacements, I could still go on a horseback ride.  It had been a bucket list item for me to find out.  Another bucket list item was to eat a meal at one of the National Park lodges, so I did that at Bryce, where I enjoyed elk chili.

Leaving Bryce Canyon, it was tempting to head further up Scenic Byway 12 (Utah State Route 12) to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Capital Reef National Park, especially after several other Bryce visitors told me that Capital Reef was their favorite National Park.  But I can see that there is another trip up that way for me sometime.  The entire Colorado Plateau is beautiful, and I'll head up that way another summer.

Instead, I headed south to Zion National Park.  The scenery was gorgeous as I drove from the east entrance to the south exit, but again I did not linger.  There were no campsites available, and I was having a day when my inner introvert was unable to deal with the high energy of Zion's crowds.  So I drove on through and headed all the way to the Kaibab National Forest in Arizona, where I stayed at DeMotte Campground.  It was a friendly place--the camp host drove out to my site as soon as I arrived to get me registered and sell me some campfire wood, which was very handy!  However, a neighbor started his generator at 4:58 a.m. the next morning, so I got up and left early.  Thanks, Generator Guy!

My first glimpse of the Grand Canyon, from the North Rim

It was good to get an early start.  I covered a lot of miles.  I headed to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Again, I was unable to find a campsite, but I had a nice breakfast at the Grand Canyon Lodge, took several walks and looked at various viewpoints, and then headed on.  I ended up spending the night (free!) at McHood County Park on Clear Creek Reservoir, a few miles outside of Winslow, Arizona.  This nice little lake had lots of people fishing, swimming and boating during the day.  It was nearly 100 degrees during the afternoon, but the evening brought cool breezes off the lake and was very pleasant.  

The next morning (two days ago), I left Winslow, not knowing if I would make it all the way to Truth or Consequences in one day, thinking perhaps I'd stop at Datil.  But it was my boyfriend Steve's birthday, so I was motivated to drive the 325 miles or so home.  I got here in time for supper, and Steve and I went out for pizza.

So, my trip back to the Southwest took me only a month (July 8th through August 5th), while the trip north had taken me nearly three months.  I guess I was ready to get back to my routine (whatever that is!  I've been on the road so long, I can't really remember...).  

Today I had a meeting with the other local artists who show at Grapes Gallery and we discussed some upcoming themed art shows, so now I have some new work ahead of me.  I have several creative goals for the next few months, and then I'll head to Why, Arizona, where I'll stay for the winter and probably use as a base for some more travels. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Long Beach Peninsula and a Month of Camping Near Seattle

Me, in front of the Big Four Ice Caves in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

When I last wrote (over five weeks ago!), I had been on the northern Oregon Coast and was about to head into Astoria to get the RV's oil changed.  

The oil change guy discovered I needed new U-joints, so I went to an AA meeting and, by the time I left, I had a phone number of a full-service mechanic who was expecting me and was willing to fit me in immediately.  I got the U-joints, plus new windshield wipers and a check on my tire pressure, and then headed back to Fort Stevens State Park for another night.

The next day, I headed up to the Long Beach Peninsula.  I utilized my campground memberships and stayed at a couple of resorts that were on my RPI or Coast to Coast memberships.  I stayed one night at Eagle's Nest Resort in Ilwaco, Washington, where I saw deer wandering around in the campground, and another night at Pacific Holiday RV Resort in Long Beach, which was set back just a tiny bit from the beach.  Beautiful.  With my various campground memberships, I paid about about $14 per night.

Beach at Ilwaco, Washington

I decided to wait on going to Olympic National Park until I got some more work done on my RV in Seattle.  I'd been checking on Yelp for the best RV mechanics all the way up the West Coast and found one in Everett, just north of Seattle, who was reputed to be excellent.  I have had several problems come up during my travels.  

One problem was a leak in a pipe that leads into my hot water heater.  I don't use my hot water heater very often.  Really, for one person who normally showers at the campground shower rooms, it's hardly necessary--I can heat up a little water to wash my face or my dishes.  However, when I use water (either from being hooked up to water or from my freshwater tank), it goes to the hot water tank, anyway.  So the water leak was a problem even when I wasn't using hot water.  There's been enough damage from this little leak that I'll need to get my linoleum floor replaced once I get home.  And, until I got the leak fixed, I had to carry about a half-dozen gallon jugs of water with me for all uses, not just drinking, but also flushing and dish washing and so on.  I knew life would become simpler once I could use my plumbing again.

I'd also had some occasional trouble lighting my propane fridge, and I needed a new solar regulator panel, and my oven pilot would light, but the oven wouldn't heat up.  And I had been planning ever since I bought Solveig (the name of my Toyota Dolphin, Norwegian for "house of the sun") to add a roof-top air conditioner.  

So, after exploring some of the Long Beach Peninsula in the southwest corner of the State of Washington, I headed to the Seattle area to see about getting these repairs and upgrades taken care of.  I loved the drive from the Peninsula to I-5, where I found an art trail at the Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  I stayed overnight at a Love's Truckstop south of Chehalis, where I was able to use wifi next-door at Starbucks to watch a little streaming Netflix.

Art Trail at Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Salmon swimming in the trees

I arrived in Seattle on Saturday, June 6th, and called up my son and my best friend, both of whom were able to meet me that day at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle.  This was one of my old places to hang out years ago when I lived in Ballard, a Norwegian ghetto in Seattle which has now become an upscale neighborhood just like all of the other upscale neighborhoods.  The park remains the same, takk Odin.  We hung out and enjoyed a meal and sat in the sunshine.

 The beach at Golden Gardens Park in Ballard

Then I headed up to the Tulalip Resort Casino near Marysville, Washington, which I returned to several times during my visit to the Seattle area.  Tulalip is very RV-friendly, with one parking lot devoted specifically to RVs and another overflow lot available when the RV one is full.  I tried a couple of other casinos while I was in the Seattle area (Angel of the Winds in Arlington and Snoqualmie Casino near Snoqualmie Pass), and there is no comparison.  Tulalip is free and has fairly flat parking lots with lots of landscaping that makes it possible to get a sense of privacy.  It's also easy to get on I-5 from the casino to head into the city. 

Casino camping at Tulalip
I called my new favorite RV shop, Ryan's RV Town in Everett, and got an appointment first for an estimate and later to have the work done.  Then I scheduled the rest of my Seattle activities around these visits to the shop.

It would take too many words to describe everything I did in Seattle, but the highlights were Steve's two-week visit and camping with my son Sly at a couple of nice Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest campgrounds.  I also got to see my dear friend Helen, my cousin Joanne, and several other close friends.  I would like to have seen everyone I know and like in the Seattle area, but my main purpose was to have lots of quality time with my son, and that was achieved.  I also got to celebrate Sly's 23rd birthday and my 60th birthday while in Washington.   

Birthdays are far out!

While Steve was visiting, we stayed at Tall Chief RV Resort near Fall City, Washington.  It's a nice old Thousand Trails preserve that feels like a state park (big woodsy sites) with amenities (swimming pool, laundromat, wifi, etc.).  Again, I used my campground memberships and the stay cost us $14 per night.  So inexpensive, in fact, that we decided to rent a car while Steve was visiting, so we could leave the rig and the cat back at the campground while venturing out to sightsee.  I also purchased a screened canopy while in the area, which was great for bug-free outdoor dining and relaxing. 

My new Coleman screened canopy--I can put it up by myself in just a minute or two!

We got an awesome deal on the rental car, and I have to recommend Flightcar to anybody who needs to rent a car at a major metropolitan airport.  It's a whole new concept in car rental.  The BMW we rented for two weeks was owned by a local guy who left his car at the airport while traveling.  Our cost was only $25 per day!  For a Beamer!  

Our campsite at Tall Chief, with the rented BMW

During Steve's visit, we mostly relaxed and stayed at the campground, taking a few day trips here and there.  One particularly nice day was when we took the Edmonds-Kingston ferry and visited the Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport, over on the Kitsap Peninsula.  Steve loves submarines!  Later we stopped in nearby Poulsbo at the Poulsbohemian, which has the nicest view of any coffee shop I've ever visited, anywhere.  

Steve, with a nice pie from Remlinger Farms

Before Steve's visit, Sly and I camped for a few nights up at Troublesome Creek, a Forest Service campground north of Index, Washington.  It was quite a long, bumpy road to get to the campground, and I didn't realize until we arrived that my bucket of gesso had overturned and spilled all over other art supplies and sketchbooks and so on.  By the time Sly and I got all the gesso cleaned up, there was also quite a bit on the cat, and weeks later she still has a few areas of gesso-clumped fur.  Troublesome Creek was gorgeous and worth the drive.

 Repainting a canvas found at a thrift shop while camping with Sly

After Steve's visit, I headed up to Turlo, a Forest Service campground on the Mountain Loop Highway east of Granite Falls.  This campground on the Stillaguamish River also turned out to be beautiful.  There were some nice swimming holes right in front of the campground's beach.  Sly was able to join me for a couple of days there, and Helen came up for a nice Sunday visit.


When Sly came up to see me at Turlo, we drove in his car about 15 miles further into the National Forest to hike to the Big Four Ice Caves.  These are the same caves which, just two days later, crashed in and killed one person and injured five others.  We were lucky to have been there before this happened.  The temps were in the 90s and the cave was dripping as if there was a rain storm inside.  I don't really understand while the Forest Service didn't close down this site before the accident happened.  

Big Four Ice Caves, two days before the cave-in that killed one and injured five

Sly and I also unexpectedly came across a 4th of July parade in the small community of Robe, Washington, which is just outside the National Forest.  We went there for a cold drink and stayed for the festivities.  

Independence Day Parade in tiny Robe, Washington

After this last camping trip with Sly, I went back into town and got all of my repairs done at Ryan's RV Town (except for the oven, which they recommended replacing, something I'm not ready to do at this time), and then it was time to go back on the road.  Much as I will miss those I leave behind, I was really relieved to be out of that big city traffic!  

Now I have been on the Olympic Peninsula for a few nights, but so far trying to see much of Olympic National Park has been hampered by gray, rainy weather.  I've hesitated to drive up to Hurricane Ridge because I know I won't be able to see much in this weather.  So I'm hanging out in the Port Angeles area for another day or so to see if the weather clears up before moving on.  Currently I am using the wifi and drinking coffee at the very friendly Bella Rosa Coffee Shop and debating whether to drive back up into the National Park for a campground tonight or just to stay in town at Walmart or maybe find the Elwha River Casino?  I'm seeing it's 4:30 pm, so I guess I'm off to find a free parking lot here in town.  Ah, the life of the wanderer!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Eugene, Oregon, and the North Oregon Coast

 Dressed for a cool, rainy day on the northern Oregon Coast 

In my last post, exactly two weeks ago, I had just checked into a campground at Horsfall, which is near North Bend, at the south end of Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.  I was surprised to find that there are a whole lot of nice little inexpensive Federal campgrounds along the 40+ mile expanse of dunes that runs from Coos Bay up to Florence.  I'd driven this area before, but had stuck to the more expensive State Parks.  Now, with my Access Pass, I can stay at the Dunes campgrounds for just $10 per night.  And not all of the campgrounds are overrun with OHVs. 

Unfortunately, the campground I picked, called Bluebill, had some standing water near it and an abundance of mosquitoes.  A friend who lives in the area brought me some fresh rosemary, which helped.  She also brought leftovers from a family birthday party!  Yay for friends bearing cake!  (Take note, Roxanne, that's c-a-k-e, not k-a-l-e.)  We chatted for several hours and visited the beach together.  

Releasing trout

Visiting with my friend, I realized how lonely I'd gotten while traveling along the south Oregon Coast.  Well, I knew what to do about that!  I could get from the Coos Bay area to Eugene in just a few hours.  I had a long, but very enjoyable day of driving, punctuated by some rest stops and lovely views.  The most fun stop was at Umpqua Lighthouse, where a ranger and a crew of volunteers were about to release 1000 trout into a little lake.  

My friend Barb Hogue and me in front of the beautiful azaleas in her front yard.  Fortunately, Barb and her husband Steve are avid photographers, and they took some nice shots!

I drove into Eugene not knowing where I would stay, but knowing it would all be okay.  I stayed a couple of nights with my law school friend Cheryl and her daughter Kyra, and then several nights with my Scrabble-fiend friend Barb and her husband Steve.  I also spent time with my friends Jean and Susan.  I was busy much of the time, going out for coffee, several meals, a concert, the Eugene Saturday Market, Camping World, estate sales, thrift shops, grocery stores, etc.  Then I would come home to my little RV in a friend's driveway and eat and sleep well.   

One of my all-time favorite Oregon hippie cafes, the Alpha-Bit in Mapleton, where I replenished with coffee and walnut pie for my journey into Eugene.  Alpha-Bit has been run by the Alpha Farm intentional community since the 1970s, when we called it a commune.  I mentioned to my son that I'd visited Alpha-Bit and did he remember this little Oregon hippie cafe?  He said "hippie" is a modifier for so many Oregon cafes; could I please narrow it down a bit?

Where are my photos from Eugene?  I was too busy enjoying the moment to capture it.  I felt very grateful for the friendly reception I got from everyone in Eugene.  Barb's husband Steve, whom I'd never met before, went out of his way to help me try to solve a leaky pipe.  I was fed extremely well wherever I went.  It was just an awesome visit.

Holy GMO!  I spent some lovely time at the Eugene Saturday Market and Farmers Market, but I only took a picture of my friend Susan's back as she examined the harpsichord from the trio sonata concert we attended.

I got all filled up by the time spent with friends and, after a week, was ready to move on.  I'd debated which way to head north from Eugene.  There were so many great choices--the Coast, or little historic towns along Hwy 99, or heading up to the Cascades to stay in National Forest campgrounds, or even taking I-5, but getting off the interstate somewhere cool such as Silver Falls State Park near Sublimity, Oregon.  

Chinook Winds in Lincoln City is a nice casino, but there was not going to be any bingo for like three days, so I had to move on.

Something told me I needed more beach time, so I went north on Hwy 99 as far as Corvallis, then headed on Hwy 20 to Newport.  It was great to be back at the Coast, and I continued north on Hwy 101 to Lincoln City, where I stayed one night in the parking lot at the big Chinook Winds Casino.  I was one of the last campers to be able to enjoy the blacktop boondocking at Chinook Winds--the tribe has built a new RV park and won't be allowing free overnight parking anymore, starting within a few days.  I had a nice $20 buffet dinner at the casino, so it was worth their while to let me camp for free.  

The next day, I continued north, enjoying wonderful views along the way.  At Pacific City, I veered off Hwy 101 to travel the Three Capes Scenic Loop, which somehow I had never driven before, despite numerous trips along the Oregon Coast.  It was awesome!  Bad road full of potholes, but so worth it.  There are a lot of enjoyable things to see along this side road, including the retired Cape Meares Lighthouse, some wonderful beaches, a State Park, a County Park, and more.  

I camped at Big Spruce RV Park in Netarts, a great little town.  Big Spruce participates in Passport America, a half-price camping club, so I paid only $15 per night for a site with water and electric hookups.  I walked just a block or two to the Schooner, a restaurant and bar overlooking the water, and had one of the best bowls of clam chowder I'd ever eaten.

Crab, melted butter, Henry Weinhard's Orange Cream Soda

I planned to stay just one night, but I woke up on Saturday morning to a beautiful day that just had to be spent on the beach, so I stayed a second night.  I spent that day wandering on foot, and ended up bringing home a freshly caught and boiled crab, which I enjoyed on the picnic table in my campsite.  

Lex's Cool Stuff, a very fun shop.  I got to talk to the owner and then it got really busy! 

I could have stayed at Netarts indefinitely.  But it seemed like time to keep moving north, so I drove into Tillamook yesterday to visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory and then continue up Hwy 101.  The Cheese Factory was, as always, very fun.  I did not bother to go up to the catwalk to watch the cheese-making process, which I've seen before.  I went straight for the three things I really wanted--a nice big ice cream cone for lunch, the cheese sampling buffet, and a package of my favorite Tillamook cheese, the smoked aged sharp white cheddar.  Oh, yeah, baby.  

This is gonna last for like three sandwiches...

It is so good for my heart and soul to see the happy cows pasturing in Oregon.  When I'm down in the Southwest, I can barely stand the thought of drinking milk from those poor dairy cows that spend their entire life living in a yucky feedlot.  Here, I am indulging in every Tillamook product I see--milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, you name it.  I'm also buying local produce whenever and wherever I can.  Yesterday I snacked on fresh cherries that I picked up in Garibaldi as I headed north of Tillamook.  

Another truck, they are full of Tillamook Milk

I spent last night at another fish camp, Kelly's Brighton Marina, north of Rockaway Beach.  Kelly and his crew are fun people who rent out boats and gear for crabbing and clamming.  They also boil up clams and crabs at an outside cook shack, and there's a little store where you can buy marshmallows and other necessities.  It was a little pricey for a no-hook-up site ($25), but fun.  I saw Great Blue Herons fly right by my window, and there were seals inside the jetty.  And I had a terrific grilled cheese sandwich for supper.

Part of the view from my campsite at Kelly's Brighton Marina last night;
so relaxing

Today I got up and continued north to Warrenton, and I'm spending the night at Fort Stevens State Park.  This is in the extreme northwest corner of the state of Oregon, where a triangle of land extends into the mouth of the Columbia River.  It's familiar territory; my son Sly and I camped all along the northernmost part of the Oregon Coast back in the years when we homeschooled.  We didn't just read about the Lewis & Clark Trail, we traveled parts of it.  This time I'm not stopping for all of the historical sites, but I highly recommend them to anyone traveling this way.  I was really impressed by how challenging it must have been for the Corps of Discovery to spend a wet, cold and hungry winter at Fort Clatsop.  

I'm planning to spend one night here at Fort Stevens, and then I'll go into Astoria tomorrow and get a few things done so I'll be ready for the next leg of my journey, venturing into Washington State.  Actually, the first part of Washington will be easy, because I'm going to hang out on the Long Beach Peninsula, a very vacationy destination, for a day or two.  After that, I'll head up to the Olympic National Park, where towns are smaller and more spread out, so services may be less available.  So I'm getting an oil change, new wiper blades and air in the tires in Astoria tomorrow.  

The past few days, I've made some exciting plans with Steve.  He'll be flying to Seattle to spend two weeks with me during the time I'll be there.  He's feeling a lot better than when we attempted to travel together a couple of months back.

Oregon has been everything I could have hoped for.  I had thought to skip Oregon on my way back home in a month or six weeks, but I definitely need to come back as soon as possible.  I need to go to Portland and nearby Vancouver, Washington, to see friends and family.  I want to go to Silver Falls State Park and Breitenbush Hot Springs, both of which require planning and reservations, and I really want to go to Crater Lake when it's more like summer than winter.  So, another trip to Eugene on the way home...hopefully with more pictures!    

Monday, May 18, 2015

California to Oregon; Banana Slugs to Mosquitos

 Banana slug at the Emerald Forest of Trinidad

I spent five blissful days at one of my all-time favorite campgrounds, the Emerald Forest of Trinidad.  I'd planned to stay three nights, but I was enjoying myself so much that I extended a couple more.

Each day, I walked into town and had coffee at the Beachcomber, a little natural foods restaurant in town.  Sometimes I visited the local artists' co-op gallery or a gift shop or the grocery store or the beach or the Humboldt University Marine Research Lab.  It was a nice place to take a break from being on the road.

 An eight-pack of fabulous chocolate bars!

 Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse 
(The real lighthouse is still in use, but it was too much of a hike for me.)

 Mermaid and dolphin sculpture in Trinidad

It was hard to leave Trinidad, California.  I just love that place.  All of the best of the northern Cali coast (beach, Redwoods, cool weather, lots of artists, no biting insects, etc.) in one small place.  I could've had a job there and stayed for the summer, but I passed.  However, Steve and I have applied to workcamp at the Emerald Forest of Trinidad next summer.  We shall see.

With mixed feelings, I headed north on Highway 101 again on Friday.  Fifteen miles north of Trinidad, I was in the Redwood National and State Parks.  This involved more beautiful drives through Redwood trees, similar to what I'd seen further south on the Avenue of the 100 Giants, and also some awesome stretches of road where the highway paralleled the shore.  

I'd expected to camp at a California State Park on Friday night, but I happened across a very nice Del Norte County Park instead.  I've been really noticing how impossible it is to fully research my destinations on the Web.  There are many fine places to camp that don't seem to show up in my Internet research--and I used to be a librarian, so I'm pretty darned good at research.  Florence Keller County Park, north of Crescent City, was $15 per night with no hookups, and it had lovely, large, wooded campsites.     

My campsite at the county park

The view out the back picture window

Before leaving Trinidad, I'd gotten my propane tank refilled, and afterwards I was unable to relight my refrigerator.  So I spent a lot of my time at Florence Keller on my belly on the floor of the rig, where I can reach the fridge controls, but to no avail.  So I got some ice and put it in the vegetable tray, and used the fridge as a cooler for several days.

On Saturday, I headed to Oregon.  I had some wonderful moments that day, visiting a few beaches and scenic outlooks on my way out of California.

 My lunch table at Klamath River Overlook, Klamath, CA

 The view at Klamath River Overlook
One last California beach walk, at Smith River, CA

And then it was on to Oregon, where the beaches are a little bit more wild and rocky.  All along the Oregon Coast, there are State Parks with campgrounds every 30 or 40 miles, sometimes closer.  I looked at most of them on my way north and finally decided on Cape Blanco State Park, in Sixes, Oregon, which is about 70 miles north of California.  It was a great choice.  

Cape Blanco has a wonderful beach and big wooded campsites, and it was very interesting because the Pacific Coast Trail runs right through the park, so I got to see lots of hikers and even horseback riders passing by my site.

 The approach to the beach at Cape Blanco

 Cape Blanco Beach
I liked the park so much that I stayed a couple of days.  It was a nice time.  I took a picnic lunch down to the beach, I had a little campfire one night, and I FIXED THE FRIDGE!  A friend suggested that maybe all that was needed was to remove some corrosion from the igniter.  So I used an emery board on all of the surfaces, and the fridge lit on the first attempt!  I felt very empowered.  And I needed it, too.  I was getting a little travel-weary, and the ever-lengthening list of things that need to be fixed was not helping. 

 An evening in my campsite at Cape Blanco
 Riders on the Pacific Coast Trail, just below my campsite

This morning I left Cape Blanco, but not before I took a little drive out to see the lighthouse, where I got another great view of the sea.  Between Cape Blanco and Highway 101 (about 5 miles of beautiful rolling hills), I saw sheep and goats.  I'd intended to drive to Bandon, Oregon, for breakfast, but I found a great greasy spoon in the tiny but world-renowned town of Langlois (famous for its blue-veined cheese).  I had pancakes made with local blueberries.     

 Cape Blanco Lighthouse
 A misty morning near the lighthouse


 Where I had breakfast

And that's my story for now.  I decided to stop rather early today, mostly because I came across a much cheaper campground than the State Parks.  I'm at the Horsfall National Recreation Area near Coos Bay/North Bend.  I usually avoid these places because they're full of off-road vehicles, but this one happened to have two campgrounds, one for people with toys and the other for people without.  So I'm at the quieter campground and am about to go explore the area on foot.  It seems like a nice quiet place.  There are about a gazillion mosquitoes, but I'm pretty thoroughly sprayed.  I am close to miles of sand dunes and I can hear some seals barking from my campsite.  Pictures of this next time!