Monday, May 28, 2012


Meeting Luke and Kady over Memorial Day Weekend

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Friday, May 25:
            We pack up most of the trailer this morning, without the rain of last evening, and are ready to pull out of town just before 9am.  The fridge is much fuller than our Shake-down Voyage, and we are armed with at least some of the many items we talked about getting after that trip.  Still a few to locate at the Wal-Mart in Redmond! 
            This will not be a fast or cheap drive over and the mountains – up and down, up and down.  We figure we average between a mere 10 and 11 mpg.  Ouch!!  In fact, the gas light actually came on about 7 miles outside of Prineville.  We checked the manual – we have 3.3 gallons of gas left, which means only 30 miles.  And indeed, we put 18.85 gallons into the 22.1 gallon tank – just under 3.3 gallons left!! 
Nearing Mitchell - so many layers of hills!
            Enough about gas or the lack of it or the cost of it (we paid $4.29 in Prineville, but later found a station for $4.21 on the north side of town).  The drive over was fairly smooth and uneventful, but very very GREEN!  All the undergrowth under the pines is lush and thick.  The multiple shades of green between the pines, the tamaracks, and the grass are incredible.  The wild iris are in bloom in the meadows.  I was hoping for a great view of the Strawberry Mountains as we came into Prairie City, much as we viewed the Elkhorns, but alas, the range was totally covered in clouds.  We drove into the storm, and hit a little rain in the John Day Valley.  A little snow on the ground at Ochoco Summit – it was cool!  We ran back to the trailer and grabbed a quick lunch at the rest stop at Bandit Springs. 
            We arrive in Prineville around 1 and gas up.  ($80 worth – I think the most I have ever put in a vehicle.)  Then up Hwy 26 to meet 97 just south of Madras.  We saw where the road cut across to Haystack Reservoir, but this end of the road is gravel, so we chose to take the longer paved route! 
Site 3 at Central Oregon KOA
            Arrive at the KOA around 2pm – a 5 hour trek.  Not bad.  We are in Site 3 on the outer edge – a large grassy field is behind us.  In the next 4 hours we watch rig after rig pull in and our once empty strip is now full.  Get the trailer set up, plugged in, hot water lit, etc. and then take a walk around the campground.  Back for some quiet reading and writing (I finished up my devotional blog and picture), a few texts with Luke, and then it is dinner time.  A couple drops of rain fell during the afternoon, but nothing major. 
            Dinner is Bacon and Bean soup, bread, and salad.  Nothing fancy, but warm!  We walk over to the laundry area to do our dishes – trying to limit how much goes into the gray water tank. 
Beautiful reflections of the clouds in the canal waters. 
            After dinner we have at least 2 and a half hours before Luke and Kady arrive, so we bundle up and walk up the path to the canal that runs up the hill from the campground.  We find not a narrow little waterway, but a 20’ wide river!!  Deep with lots of water moving silently along.  A roadside path along the side that we walk, probably about a mile or so, to the Day Use area of the Haystack Recreation Area.  Behind us, somewhat playing hide and seek with the clouds is the massive Mt. Jefferson.  Mt. Hood is partially visible just behind a knoll near Madras.
 This is a big fishing lake.  The canal feeds into the lake, picking up “steam” as it goes through a series of weirs and gates.  Everything is lush and damp.  Balsam root in bloom, plus we see lupine, and some other flowers to be identified!  See one guy pull in a nice 12” trout, only to release him back to the lake!  Both directions along the canal, we spooked a mallard ‘couple’. 
Back to the trailer around 7:45 to write here-in and Rick prepares to build a fire.  I expect Luke and Kady around 9pm!  Guess we should clear off the front bed! 
The canal waters pick up steam and a few rapids as
they enter Haystack Reservoir
Luke and Kady pulled in right after 9!! Smooth sailing, but they had run through a storm over the pass.  Car loaded high and a new bike rack attached to the trunk which worked well.  We unloaded/stood/sat around the fire visiting until nearly 11pm, drinking wine/tea/ and eating pumpkin cookies and pretzels.  (Exciting times, huh?)   The sky has cleared (of the BIG clouds) and we see the crescent moon drop down and a brilliant array of stars come out.  

Saturday, May 26:
            Brrr!!  It’s a little chilly outside and inside.  We didn’t run the furnace last night – over night with the cloth ends it seems like it just doesn’t do that much good.  If everyone is sitting around the table, maybe a little heat could be helpful.  I curl up in the corner of the couch with my Bible study books and the computer.  The internet won’t accept my code this morning so I am at a loss for my scheduled text.  Alas!  I can still snuggle with my froggie blankie and a cup of coffee and read! 
            A little slow getting going….but eventually we all are up, cinnamon rolls consumed along with fresh fruit, and a lunch packed to head down to Smith Rock State Park.  Luke drives Tink – it gets better gas mileage than the truck! 
Looking northeast on the River Trail at Smith Rocks
            Once we are down to Terrebone and into the park, we realize just how many cars are here today!  It is packed!  Somehow we shall find a place to hike away from all the crowd…maybe! 
On the Mesa Verde trail heading up
to Monkey Face!
Monkey Luke at Monkey Face
            We take about a 5 mile hike along the River Trail, then up the Mesa Verde Trail to Misery Point Trail and back down – a huge loop in a clockwise direction that takes us up and around the big mountain of rocks at the south end of the park, to outstanding views of Monkey Face as we hike up Mesa Verde Trail.  There are rock climbers EVERYWHERE today.  It was crazy watching some of them in action.  At the top of the Monkey Face we watched a group set up a Slack Line (a wide webbing of rope) from the point across to the mouth of the monkey.  A slack line is walked on to travel across the open space.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to watch them use it because the storm looked like it was coming and we didn’t want to get caught up on the top of the mesa.  Thought it was a little windy for aerial acrobatics anyway!! 
Luke and Kady as we head back down at Smith Rocks
            Beautiful shades of greens, wildlife including a rabbit, Canada geese, deer, and lots of vultures and ravens.  Penstemons, balsam root, and a number of other flowers I need to identify.   We snacked on gorp enroute, but back to the car at 2 to lunch on humus, pesto, crackers, and pears.  Overall great hike, great views! 
            Down to Wal-Mart in Redmond – Luke and Kady need to pick up the chicken for tonight, plus Rick and I wanted to pick up a few more trailer things. 
The double rainbow after the storm...awesome!
            Back to KOA around 3:45… in time for Luke to set up the hammock he gave Rick and I, showers, and relaxing.  Dinner was chicken, grilled corn on the cob, salad, and artisan bread. Played a game of cribbage in the trailer during an intense rain storm, which was followed by an incredible rainbow to the west that spanned the horizon.  Later for dessert we made the 3-2-1 cake Margaret told me about, covered with strawberries and Cool Whip.  Then out to the fire pit for Luke and Kady to roast a few marshmallows and enjoy a new version using a salty cracker instead of grahams!  Earlier to bed tonight!! 
          Forgot to mention the parade!  Around 9:45 pm we were seranaded by the Glow Light Parade and chants circling the campground several times.  The campground leader was a crazy sort who kept the kids cheering with all sorts of yells and waving bright glow sticks, wands, etc.  Great fun, especially for the kids! 

Sunday, May 27
            Listened to the wind blow during the night and kept thinking it was rain.  But Luke gave me one of the blankets he wants me to take home for him, so I slept VERY toasty…almost too warm.  Up at 6:45am to download some pictures and read/write my devotions.  Luke and Kady were again slow to arise – it was sometime after 8:30 or 9 I think!  Breakfast of fruit and pumpkin/cranberry bran bread.  The sky is clear and sunny, but the air is still cool when the breeze blows (which is frequently!)  We shall again take Luke’s car to cruise. 
Mt. Jefferson greets us as we leave the KOA
            Our destination today is Cove Palisades State Park and Lake Billy Chinook.  None of us has been to this park before.  It is the reservoir formed when the Round Butte Dam was erected in 1964 to dam the waters of the Metolius, Deschutes, and Crooked Rivers near their confluence.  One dam, three rivers.  They estimated it would fill in a year, but with heavy rains and snowpack that winter, it filled….in a week!  A large peninsula is formed between the two arms of the lake created by the Crooked and Deschutes Rivers.  The majority of development, including the state park, is on this peninsula.  The most northern tip of the peninsula is closed to the public as an area called The Island – a 600’ mesa rising above the lake waters and totally ungrazed or developed.  It is used as a control research area by scientists. 
Weird rainbow halo around the sun!
            We drove completely through the park, stopping at the headquarters to pick up a couple of brochures, and then to all the day use picnic areas, boat ramps, and campground.  Drove beyond the park back up to the top of the mesa and then realized we didn’t really need to be going up there!  But that drive was worth it to see a huge rainbow ring around the sun!  Quite impressive! 
            We have decided to hike parts of the Tam a la’u Trail, which means “Land of the Big Rocks” .  It begins at the campground and climbs 600’ uphill in one mile to the mesa top.  Then a 3.5 mile loop around the top of the mesa, with the highlight viewpoint at the north tip overlooking The Island.  We hiked out to the viewpoint, but rather than complete the loop, opted for the shorter return trip instead. 
Lake Billy Chinook and The Island from the
Peninsula Viewpoint
            The mountains are playing peek a boo today, but we did, a one point or another and with a milky sky behind them, see Hood, Ollalie Butte, Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, Black Butte, Mt. Washington, North, Middle and South Sisters, Broken Top.  I think Mt. Bachelor was hiding behind Broken Top from our angle.  We also saw plenty of deer tracks, a few assertive little gecko lizards, and the following flowers:  heartleaf arnica (NOT balsam root like I previously said!), lupine, phlox, purple asters, bitterroot, sage,
Luke and Kady at the viewpoint
            All in all, a great hike, but we were tired and ready to stop by the time we got back to the car.  After the steeper climbs of yesterday, our muscles were starting to feel it!  The bottoms of my feet were sore.  So….back toward the KOA.  We decided to take a short drive on down to Haystack Reservoir so Luke and Kady could see what it looked like, since at this point, they aren’t going to get a bike ride in!  It was much busier than Friday evening! 
            Luke is ravenous, so as soon as we get back to the campground, we pull out dinner!  Pasta salad, bread, crackers, humus, pesto, veggies & dip – virtually everything I had ready for lunch AND dinner with the exception of the rhubarb crisp.  Luke made a pretty good dent in it all. 
            Luke and Kady are leaving tonight to head home via Welches.  Kady’s grandfather is failing, and she wants to visit with her Grandmother and Grandfather.  Also her father and all her four uncles are there.  Disappointing to have them leave, but certainly understandable.  They swim, shower, and pack up and are on their way around 5 ish! 
            Rick and I shower, read, write, and RELAX!!!  Whew!  Good time, but we’ve been on the go!  Rick tests the oven in the kitchen – it is fairly easy to light.  We gather a few wooly mullein leaves for me to try to make some asparagus dishes, enjoy a campfire, and retire early! Rick also enjoys a good phone conversation with Randy, who is leaving in the morning for Europe for two weeks!  
           Addendum:  This KOA has been crazy full for the weekend.  Lots and lots of families camping - kids and dogs everywhere, but for the most part, it has been quiet at night.  ( I write this, the dogs around us are getting each other all fired up!)

Monday, May 28 - Memorial Day
           Up again at 6:45 to read my devotions, and then begin cleaning up to prepare to leave.  We are starting to get a system for this trailer, but I'm sure it will take several more trips to really have our "jobs" delineated so all runs smoothly in pack-up.  This morning I took the inside duty while Rick worked outside.  We were doing great until he couldn't get the water hose off.  Put on the list - a  channel lock wrench (adjustable).  Rick holds the bar on the beds from the outside to make it easier to get the support bracket in and out.  However, when we went to dump, we evidently only got the black water to empty due to a slight hill at the dump station.  Lesson learned on that one - we unknowingly carried a 2/3 full gray water tank clear up to Emigrant Springs where we used an vacant full hook-up spot at the campground to empty and then left a few dollars with the campground host! We had realized it was still full when we stopped for lunch.
North of Shaniko
          On our way around 9:20 to sunshine and clouds.  All the Cascade peaks are visible at the base, but none of the peaks.  We have decided to drive north on Hwy 97 to Biggs Junction and come home on the interstate.  Hoping for better gas mileage, but also as a chance for me to take a turn at the wheel.  Having never driven this big a trailer (only the tent trailer last summer!), I don't want to start on two lane up and down roads!
Wind turbines near Wasco, OR
          The road up and over the vast plateau from Shaniko to the Columbia is crossed with wheat fields, cattle, and as we near the river, hundreds of wind turbines.  We knew wind farms had gone up in Sherman County, but .... Wow!  It was quite a sight!    We fill up at the Pilot in Biggs Junction, and Rick drives us to the John Day Recreation Center where we pull in and out, long enough to change drivers!  I drove the next 80 miles to the rest stop at Stanfield.  It is definitely more taxing driving when you don't use the cruise control and you can't really see what is behind you.  We may invest in the portable extended mirrors to put on the truck when towing.  It isn't like the old Silver Bullet that had windows you could see through.
          We run back to the trailer at Stanfield Rest Stop to grab a bite to eat, then another stop at La Grande for  round two of shopping at Wal-Mart (we had another list by now!).  Home around 4:45.  Tired!!   But a great visit with Luke and Kady and we learned more about our trailer and truck.  We still are not happy with the mileage we are getting, but that might just be what we have to live with for the time being!      

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