The Crook County Fair is coming to Prineville leaving all the campsites booked solid well in advance so it is onward. Leaving Prineville we headed north on 97 to Grass Valley. Grass Valley is about half way between Bend and The Dalles and we could get into the campground. The Campgrounds in Oregon are booked full this time of year. The campgrounds in other spots are booked with vacationers and nomads like us. Grass Valley was spared by the Substation fire (barely, it ended by the first road out of town); so I figured it would be relatively safe and not too far of the route to our next reservation at Westfir, Oregon.
The Grass Valley RV Park is small, right on 97 and a little rough on the edges. The folks who run it are super. As with so many campgrounds, this is their second year in ownership and are working on upgrades. Grass Valley itself is an interesting little town. The Oregon Speedway is here, there is a new hemp processing plant in town (cranks out CBD oil like there is no tomorrow), a nice public park that gets a lot of use, the rock store, a restaurant and a combination liquor store, grocery, deli, restaurant and general meeting place. Scout and I took a couple of walks and you can get a good flavor of the town from the pictures linked below.
Peg and I took a road trip that wound its way south east to the Deschutes River Valley then northwest to Mt. Hood and The Dalles before returning south to Grass Valley. This route followed the south east edge of the Substation fire into the Deschutes River Valley where we found this very interesting water fall on the Indian reservation. Here the river is cutting a narrow canyon into the basalt with amazing force. There were people fishing on the other side who had set up camp and built platforms over the river. I took several pictures of the countryside showing the blackened devastation caused by the fire. Of note the pictures of the fire border taken in the Deschutes River Valley were overwhelmed by the South Valley fire less than 24 hours later and the people fishing would have been evacuated less than 12 hours after these images were taken.
The South Valley fire started near Dufur while we were on our road trip. In fact we almost headed to Dufur but decided it would be out of the way and skipped on ahead to Mt. Hood. Along the way we found White River Falls State Park. This is an abandoned PG&E hydroelectric facility built in 1910 and turned over to the state in 1964. Very interesting to see how the natural geology of the land was used to create the power station. This was a great drive with interesting water falls, abandoned water works, dense forests, beautiful Mt. Hood, the always impressive Columbia River Gorge and great food. We were traveling on I84 toward The Dalles when we first saw the smoke rising into the afternoon ski. We stopped at the intersection of I84 and 97 to get gas and double check our route back to Grass Valley. We back tracked a couple of miles and took 206 out of the Gorge back to 97 and on to Grass Valley. We drove through some pretty heavy smoke and strong winds arriving safely at the campground. The television stations out of Portland do a wonderful job of getting helicopter pictures of this fire and these pictures clearly show why you do not want to be in the way of one. Wind driven at 20 to 40 mph the fire flows across the landscape like water, flowing across the grass stem tops then sinking to the ground below leaving charred ground in its wake. Something close to 200,000 acres of this part of Oregon have burned in three separate fires so far this season. Nothing we wanted to stick around for more of.
We began our trip visiting the snow and now in the middle of our journey we have visited fire. Yes, we shortened our stay in Grass Valley and retreated back to La Grande and the Grande Hot Springs RV Park, which is surrounded on three sides by water! We are staying here until we catch up with our reservations on the 14th taking the time here to get an oil change for the Bronze Brute and change out the house batteries in the Montana. On the 14th we move west to Casey’s Riverside Park in Westfir, precluding there is no fire in the area. Next town over from Westfir, Oakridge, was hit pretty hard by fire earlier this year. We go forward with crossed fingers!!
RV living is an adventure and we have been at it for three years now and still love it. The people we meet, the country we see, and the challenges we face make this a wonderful experience. I wish my writing and pictures could do justice to the places we have seen and the things we have done. However amateurish they may be I provide them forthwith and look forward to your feedback.
Thanks for reading.