Back to the Smokey Northwest

July 14 – 31, 2018

Because we were having issues with our solar system, we needed to return to Oregon. So after our time at Bryce we hit pause on our Utah summer and headed north yet again. We opted for long driving days, heading first to North Salt Lake City and then to Boise. Hello again Mom and Dad! 🙂

After a couple of days rest we pushed on to Sisters, a small town outside Bend, OR. Here we found a dry, dusty camping spot (at least it was free) and spent a few days doing errands, exploring Sisters, and hitting up the farmer’s market.

 

The highlight was a short hike to Tumalo Falls. You can take a shot of the waterfall after a 1/2 mile walk to the viewpoint…

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or this one from above…

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or even walk another mile to a double falls…

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but the most impressive views are from below the Tumalo Falls on a not-quite official trail.

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From Sisters we drove early Monday morning for our appointment at AM Solar.

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While they didn’t do the original install of our system, those guys worked hard, treated us fairly, and made our system better than it’s ever been. A true work of art!

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Oh, and if you’re ever in Springfield be sure to stop at the Fisherman’s Market for some yummy eats. We ate there two days in a row! Fish n’ chips and fish tacos were excellent. You can also pick up fresh caught fish to grill at home.

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From Springfield we headed to Waldo Lake, touted as one of the best kayaking lakes in the Northwest. Waldo Lake sits in the Willamette National Forest, about midway between Springfield and Bend. Surprisingly the 14 mile forest service road into the North Waldo campground is paved. The campground itself isn’t much, but we found a spot with lake views from our front windows and a short walk to the water’s edge.

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The lake was an incredible blue color and so clear you could see bottom.

We kayaked two days in a row (the first time in a long, long time) and our arms were so sore we could barely lift them. I think it was mostly from carrying the kayak over the logs and down to the water and back, but if ever there was a lake that deserved kayaking this was it! If we had cell service we would have stayed a week and kayaked every day, but we needed to move on.

I was watching reports of the wildfires and smoke while we were in Springfield, but hadn’t been able to get any updates at Waldo. So we headed onto Crater Lake knowing that it might not be great, but we figured we were so close we might as well go.

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The view from our campsite.

We arrived to a smoky campground and the bizarre rule that you had to renew your first-come first-serve site daily. This was crazy since the campground was so sparsely occupied. The best chance for clear views seemed to be early in the day, so the next morning after stopping by the booth when they opened at 8am to renew we headed off for the drive around the lake. 

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Our first views weren’t too bad, especially since this is called Phantom Ship Island.
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There is a lake down there somewhere.
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So that’s what it’s supposed to look like…
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Originally I wanted to take the boat ride out to Wizard Island (seen faintly in the background), but there was no point.

The smoke didn’t obstruct the cool interior of the lodge…

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or the great park architecture…

or the interesting little hike we took behind this building to see this carving in a rock…

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or the pretty wildflowers.

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I think we could have loved this park and easily spent a week exploring if the smoke hadn’t been so bad. But two nights of smoke was about all we could handle.

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Goodbye Smoky Crater Lake…

Our original plan had been to head to Lassen National Park and possibly the Redwoods before making our way down 395 in CA and onto Zion in late September. Unfortunately that’s where the fires and the worst of the smoke were concentrated. Wanting to get out of the red zone (unhealthy smoke) and into at least the yellow zone (moderate) I scoured the smoke maps and forecasts. Since we have reservations in Zion at the end of September we didn’t want to head further north or west to the coast. It looked like heading back through Idaho (again? are you kidding me?!!!) was the best direction. So off to Grand Teton and Yellowstone we go!

Hanging in Eastern Oregon

May 2018

Our solar installation was one of our favorite things about our old trailer. We liked the freedom of being able to camp in places without hookups and still use our induction cooktop, blow dryer, iron, tv, even a few hours of A/C. We knew we wanted solar on our new trailer too but we couldn’t snag an appointment until the last week in May so until then we had to find places to stay with electric hookups. Hoping we’d get less rain and more sun by staying east of the mountains we searched Campendium, our favorite campground app, for places with hook-ups in Eastern Oregon.

That brought us to Hell’s Canyon and Copperfield Park on the Snake River. This park is run by Idaho Power (yes even though it’s in Oregon) and sits between a couple of their dams on the Snake River.

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It was nice to be back in nature after our stint at the KOA in Boise, but other than fishing, there wasn’t much to do in the area. It was a little too cold to take out the kayak and I hadn’t found a good hike. The park is on the Hell’s Canyon Scenic Byway so we decided to drive the 22 mile road out to the visitor center.

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There were a bunch, like hundreds, of koi just sitting near the surface. Perhaps someone released some pet fish and they multiplied?! I could have scooped them up with a net. Of course then I’d have to do something with them like clean them. No thanks. 

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Watching Yacht Ruby Rose on YouTube.

We had no cell service, but could access the slow campground internet if we walked down near the bathrooms. Mostly we just relaxed, read, and had a Star Trek marathon as we watched the pollen rain down. Seriously, the pollen seems crazy this year!

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Everywhere we went pollen was raining down. Our truck was coated!

The big bummer was our first flat tire. Our site was not level and even with the leveling blocks we ended up a little off to one side, but it seemed to be getting worse. I told myself it was just my imagination, but after our second night we could tell there was definitely a problem.  Sure enough one of our tires had gone flat. Our session on how to change an Airstream tire at Alumapalooza last June sure came in handy!

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Next we headed to Wallowa Lake near Joseph Oregon.

I had read about all the great things to do in the area like a rail bike you ride on the tracks, a tram to the top of a mountain with great hiking and views, and a farmer’s market in town. Unfortunately the season begins Memorial Day weekend and it was mid-May so all of this was closed.

One day was supposed to be sunny so we walked through town with it’s old buildings, cute shops and bronze statues all with the gorgeous peaks in the background. 

We also made a quick stop into Les Schwab. Man those guys are awesome! No charge and a short while later our tire was as good as new. Turns out it was a broken piece of snow chain. Our neighbors got a good show as we reinstalled the tire. 🙂

Next we headed to the Columbia River and spent a few nights at Maryhill State Park enjoying the nice weather and a trip to the winery.

Then we hung out for a few days at Deschutes River State Park on the Oregon side.

The highlight was riding along the Deschutes River trail that leaves right from the campground.

Then we dropped off our trailer at the solar place and headed north to Bothell for a week at McMenamin’s Anderson School.

With doctor’s appointments and visits with family and friends the time went fast, but not fast enough. It’s a pretty cool little hotel but after a couple of nights we were tired of eating out and craving our own bed. So when we got the call that our trailer was ready we checked out early and hit the road. 

We picked up the trailer and boondocked a few nights at Rufus Landing with great views of the John Day dam, Mt. Hood, and the kite surfers. 

Then spent another night at Maryhill and happened upon a vintage trailer rally and a T@B trailer rally. Lots of cool trailers surrounding us!

We’re headed toward Utah for the summer so we traced our path back across Oregon. We stopped this time outside LaGrande Oregon at a nice little park on the Grand Ronde River, Hilgard Junction. The views out our window were awesome. It made a nice relaxing stopover. 

Then back to Boise where we stopped in at the Airstream Dealer in Caldwell for a few minor warranty issues. They have camping spots right there which made it easy.

Plus we got to see two more of my Dad’s softball games.

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Dad gets a hit!

Next up Utah, but first a stop at the moon.