Monday, July 23, 2007

Priest Lake and Mr. Headley

We threw caution to the wind and drove up to Priest Lake. Our hope was that there was a good site open at either Reeder Bay or Beaver Creek. We drove into Reeder and there was one open for just Friday night. So we drove on and kept our fingers crossed. As we entered Beaver Creek we were greeted by the camp host and she said she though site #11 was just open. We idled through the camp and got to #11 and low and behold it was open.

Once we got set up we drove down to Jim Headleys lake lot and joined them for dinner. We had chicken and corn, a great meal!

The next day we hung around the camp and read and about 3 PM Jim and Pam visited and invited us to eat dinner with them again. Another great meal!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Eugene Oregon

Tuesday morning I got up at my usual time, got ready for work, moved some things into the camper and then headed in to NIC to start my day. Linda had left early for the club to work out; I put Baka out back and left.

Heather and I entered the SUB at about the same time and she gave me this look. I figured it was based on the fact that I had not shaved this morning knowing we were leaving for our vacation at noon. We noticed that the TV in the foyer was not working and Heather asked me to help her fix it before I left. Then she said “Why did you come in on your vacation?” I said “What, I have to work till noon!” She said “No, you took the day off!” I said, “Oh.” We fixed the TV and I left for home and as soon as Linda was ready we started our adventure.

Driving west through Spokane the plan was to go to Ritzville and then start looking for a place to stay the first night. Since we had an early start, we moved on past the Tri Cities and took Highway 14 west before we reached Umatilla. The road took us along the Columbia River and we set our sights on a campground by the bridge leading to Biggs. Before we reached the campground we spotted an area called Crows Nest State Park and we cruised on in. The park was very nice and we were one of four campers there. We decided to give it a try and we found a very nice site and settled in. The weather had been very and today was no exception. We sat in the camp ground and about died. Evening brought very little relief, a slight breeze and the temperature dropped a few degrees but that was about it. Sleep was restless at best and when we got up in the morning I told Linda that my quest would be to find an AC fan and possibly a DC fan that we could use to move air in the camper on hot nights. I showered and reported to Linda that the men’s shower was very good and well worth the dollar it took to get it to operate.

We packed up and were on the road early. Our plan was to hit Biggs and turn right and then when we hit The Dalles we would turn left and drive the winding roads of 197 through Dufur and Madras, taking 97 to Redmond and then veering west to Sisters and on into Eugene. For some reason Linda loved Sisters and wanted to drive through the sweet little town. My navigator got us to Sisters and then she went quiet. It was not the little town she remembered from 20 years ago; it was a big bustling town now. This kind of through Linda for a loop and by the time she got back to her navigational duty, we had taken the wrong road. It wasn’t a big mistake, but according to Linda she said “ I think we are going to drive some where between 16 and 20 miles more, no maybe 30, let’s see no it looks like 50 mile farther on this road.” 50 miles is a lot more then 16 or 20 miles, but the road was beautiful and the time passed quickly.

About 20 miles out of Eugene, Linda called Al Dee and got directions to there house. Fifteen minutes later we called again and got directions from the spot where we discovered we were lost. We passed their driveway only once, turned around and arrived no worse for the wear. It was great to see everyone and as soon as Al Dee got home from work we loaded up and went to dinner and a hike along the river.

Saturday morning we got everything together and drove to Silver Falls State Park. Along the way we stopped at Wal-Mart so that we could buy Kenyon some shoes. Some how we had forgotten them back at home. At this stop I purchased two fans for the camper so we would be able to move air around if we ever hit another night like the one at Crows Nest. With shoes and fans in our possession, we Slug Bugged our way to the state park.

Silver Falls State Park is 9000 acres, Oregon’s largest state park. We entered and paid the day fee, then drove to parking lot F. The plan was to hike the circular route that starts at the South Falls and ends via the Rim Trail. This route is called the Trail of Ten Falls and was approximately five miles of hiking; we could see seven of the ten waterfalls.

Our first falls was Frenchie Falls and it was anything but spectacular. Not being a fanof the French, I thought it appropriate that Frenchie was such a disappointment. South Falls a 177 ft. beauty was next. From the top we could look down into the pond at the bottom and then when we followed the trail, we could stand under the falls as it dropped over the edge. We hiked with about forty other hikers, so the going was anything but primitive. The second large falls was called Lower South Falls and it dropped about 93 ft. into its catch basin. Lower North Falls came next followed by Double Falls Drake Falls, Middle North Falls and an unspectacular Winter Falls. I think Winter Falls is much better in the season it was named for because there would actually be water flowing over the falls instead of dripping over the falls. The Winter Trail leading to the top of Winter Falls was a bit of a climb and at the top we took a few minutes to catch our breath and then return to our van via the Rim Trail.

I left a bit before everyone and vigorously walked the hiking path through the huge trees. When I got to the road leading to parking lot F I sat down a waited for the rest of our group to catch up. 30 minutes later they had not arrived. I walked back along the trail a ways and met several people who we had passed. I turned around and again met more people walking the other direction that I knew we had passed and were hiking faster then. So I decided to walk to the van at parking lot F and wait to see if they arrive. When I turned the corner to the parking lot there they were.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Storm at Bell Bay

On Thursday morning Linda jumped into the truck with Baka, and I jumped into the Jeep with my lunch and we headed out. I drove to work and Linda drove down to Bell Bay, her firs solo experience in the Truck Camper. By her account everything went smooth as silk. There was little traffic so she didn’t have to worry that she was driving to slow. On the two big hills she used the low #3 gear and that made the trek go well. She set up the rig and leveled it on the first try and then called me at work. I was proud of her and I know that she gained some valuable confidence so that she can use our weekend home without me.

I arrived about 5 PM with a pizza for dinner. We are and walked the campground watching everyone come in and set up. We went to bed and slept like babies.
Friday morning I drove into work to help with an OARS session. Linda stayed out and enjoyed the morning. Everything went smooth at work so I drove out and arrived about 2 PM. We sat around and about 5 PM the weather changed drastically. We were standing out by the picnic table and I said I smelled rain. Not more then five minutes later the wind started. Man the wind blew! It was a bit unnerving watching the trees sway. Linda and I just started to walk down to where we could see the lake. It had huge whitecaps on it and we knew some of the campers from the campground were down there on the lake. Just as we hit the road we felt a huge gust of wind and heard a crack followed by a crash and screams.

I ran to the northern campsite next to the lake and saw the damage. A tree had fallen on two tents! It hit them as square as it could. The people were scrambling around dragging a woman out of the first tent and carrying a baby. I tried to talk to them to offer help but they only spoke Russian. The scrambled up to their cars, tossed the woman in the back and rushed out of camp up the road. It was very weird. Jim, the camp host, came down and said that he tried to stop them because he could get help in her in ten minutes, but they would not stop. There was nothing either of us could do.

Within twenty minutes the area was calm, no wind, no rain, nothing. The campers with the boat were back and told us their tail of huge waves and trying to dock in the middle of the event. We told the story of the tree and within the hour half the Russian campers were back to pick up the remaining gear. Linda and I went down and offered our help, but they said it was ok. They spoke broken English and we respected their space and went back to camp. Jim stopped by and told us that the woman had a compound fracture of the ankle and the baby was fine. They had been in the biggest tent when the tree came down. After about an hour they whole group was packed and gone. I walked down and took some pictures. If the camp picnic table had not been where it was both tents would have been completely crushed. No one would have made it out.

With that excitement over I made macaroni and cheese and the campground got back to normal.

We got Saturday morning and hiked to the top of the hill again. We came back and read a bit then loaded into the Jeep and drove to Harrison. Linda had a craving for ice cream so we took the Thompson Lake Loop road to extend the trip and then made our way to the creamery for the cold treats. The ice-cream was great, Harrison was busy with cyclists and we took our time watching the folks wander around. We drove back to camp and I made a Dutch oven chicken parmesan dinner, we ate, went for a walk and then turned in and read. Sunday we have to pack early and get back to the house to start packing for our river trip Tuesday. Man I could get into this summer life!

Bell Bay on Lake Coeur d'Alene

We drove down to the Bell Bay Forest Service Campground via 4th of July pass and Rose Lake. You have to go through Harrison Idaho when you follow this route and it takes a bit longer then the lake route but you don’t have all the curves and slowdowns of the lake route. The campground is a nice one; it is the only Forest Service CG on Coeur d’Alene Lake. We chose a site, #3, and set up for the weekend. Jim the campground host came by and introduced himself. We were one of two groups set up at this time but the campground filled by the end of the weekend.

Thursday night was just setting up and getting everything in order. We went to bed early, read and relaxed. Friday morning I got up and drove into work and Linda did her summer routine of running, reading and relaxing, the three R’s. I returned about 2 PM via the lake route. We had visitors drop in by boat. John and Loretta Sutherland and Mike Beckwith came out for the evening. The boys loaded into the boat and went fishing while the girls stayed in camp and got loaded. Linda made margaritas as they two of them talked and laughed. John, Mike and I cruised along the shore and I flipped a lure in along the shoreline. We mainly talked about the biology of the lake and guns and ammo. Both topics are foreign to me so I kept fishing. We returned about 7:30 PM and I made dinner while the rest chatted. The threesome had to get back before dark so the didn’t stay for dinner. Linda and I ate, cleaned up and went to bed.

The next morning we went for a hike to the top of the campground. There is a second group site up there and we thought it might work out for the Hash Camp out. We had loaded a cache into the GPS and went looking for it but did not find it. It must have been hidden real well because we looked everywhere. Where’s Al Dee when you need him?

Mike, Rayelle and Julia Anderson dropped by in the afternoon. We talked as Julia explored the camp site. It was a very nice afternoon. We miss these two as traveling partners, but they have little Julia to take care of, so we’ll enjoy them when we can.

We were back in town by 2 PM. We cleaned out the camper and got it set for next weekend.