Scout at One Year

On October 31 Scout turned 1 year old. Scout joined our adventure just before Christmas 2017 and has been a great addition. Looking back at the pictures of the last year brings lots of memories to life.

Peg was so uncertain of having another dog until she got ahold of Scout. He melted her heart on the spot and they have been quite a pair ever since. From Monument Valley through Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Eastern Colorado to Banden by the Sea and beyond, Scout has traveled on with us.

Scout has developed normally, except, he is a little timid. He has grown from a 12 pond puppy to an 80 or so pound almost adult. Loud noises and things that move oddly definitely get his attention. He has a thing for the RV ceiling fan and finds he must check it every so often to be sure it is not after him. Windshield wipers are a real irritant, turn those things on and he better be in his harness seat belted in because he is going through the windshield to get to them raising cain all the way otherwise!

Water has become his favorite thing to be in. We were at Riverside RV in Oak Ridge, Oregon on the W. Willamette River when Scout found himself playing in the water with 4 other retrievers. It was really heartwarming to see him play and swim, having so much fun and developing confidence in his swimming skills. There has been no keeping him out of the rivers, lakes, and the ocean since.  The Pacific Ocean has become his favorite place to play and swim. 

The link that follows is to an album of pictures from our first meeting through to 10/31. Enjoy.

Sjh

Ps. Scout says he will be paying our his own story soon. Hmmm…

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sjharshman/albums/72157703021814125

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Sequoia National Park

Tuesday Peg, Scout and I took a road trip up to Sequoia NP. This is about 120 miles from Bakersfield through Oil City, the vast orchards of nut and fruit trees and small towns to the western entrance. The approach is over very winding and twisting roads heading up from a couple of thousand feet to a maximum elevation of just over 7000 feet. The countryside is very dry from the prolonged drought in this part of the world and it shows in the dry lakes and creeks. We didn’t see the vast forests of dead trees like at Yosemite; however, it is obvious that a lot of the trees are under stress.

There are wonderful views of huge granite monoliths, canyons and valleys as we twisted up the mountains. At one point, the road was under construction and down to one lane where there was a flagger. We had to wait the better part of an hour there. Which was ok as Scout made some new California friends on the road. Of course the highlight of the trip was seeing General Sherman, the large Sequoia. The tree is about a half mile from the parking lot down a wide paved trail. It is amazing to see these huge old trees. The General is estimated to be some 2000 years old.

Due to the construction, we decided to take the road on through Kings Canyon to CA 245 back to Bakersfield. The day was getting late so we only drove by Kings Canyon. From the road you could see that here was a lot more dead trees and much fire damage, which is sad to see. We almost missed the turn off to 245 as it was not marked that clearly and that should have been a sign to us. CA 245 is 50 miles of switch backs, tight turns and seemingly endless curves. The Bronze Brute was lock to lock on the steering wheel on a great many of the switch backs and more than once I thought we might to do some back and forth to through. I love this kind of driving and thank goodness there was no one on the road with us (another sure clue) as I used all the road!

It was a fun and interesting day and I got a few pictures which can be seen from the link below. Thanks for reading.

Sjh

Sequoia NP

 

Posted in Full Time RV Living, Scout, Uncategorized

Umpqua River Valley

Elkton, Oregon is a village on the Umpqua River in the heart of the Oregon wine country about half way between I5 and the ocean. The Elkton RV Park is a nice campground right on the river within easy walking distance of downtown. Elkton has 5 wineries with three having wine tasting rooms right downtown.

The wines here are excellent. I prefer the world class Pinot Noir and variants and Peg likes the sweeter white wines. According to the folks at the wineries the drought has changed the wine a little with one winery even hesitant to open any of the 2014 vintage for tasting unless you were buying a bottle. Anyway you could fool me, I thought they were all very good. If you like wine and are in the area, Elkton is highly recommended.

Scout and I have been exploring the river bottom and he loves to swim in it. The campground has two access paths down to a sandy beach like area and from there you can walk out on the basalt floor of the river. With the drought and this being the dry season, the river is a quite diminished in size breaking up into small streams that flow in and out of  cracks in the rock. The locals have told me that when you are standing on the basalt that is dry now it will be 30 feet deep in a few short months when the rainy season is in full swing. Hard to imagine that.

Elkton has a nice Labor Day Celebration at the Elkton Community Education Center. The parade was on the street the campground is on which made it easy walk up and take it in. The parade was small but most of the town turned out to watch the dozen or so floats and vehicles go by. Candy was thrown out in liberal quantities with the kids filling up hats, buckets and bags. Later we walked down to ECEC to browse among the vendors of various crafts, foods and wine. We had a great lunch while watching the Pie Auction.

Yes, the annual fund raiser for Ft. Umpqua and the ECEC is a pie auction. I have never been to a pie auction but I will never miss this one if I am anywhere close by. Lots of $100 to $200 pies and a few that were over $300. I kept my hands under the table! The camp host told me that pies have sold for $1000. Yikes! All for a good cause, I guess. Really nice, open, welcoming people made us feel right at home and we had a great time.

The links below are to pictures of our trip to Clear Water Falls, our tour of covered bridges, and the Elkton Labor Day Parade and Festival.

Sjh

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sjharshman/albums/72157672965651138

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sjharshman/albums/72157694968286500

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sjharshman/albums/72157698929726741

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Sea Ling Fan

Arf! Bark! Bark! Arf! Tail wag, swoosh, swoosh. Scout here my friends. Lick, lick oops where has this tung been? Hah, oh well go figure. Have I ever been barking busy growing up. The Big Dawg says I am timid around new things and does the LOL thing on me a lot. I beg (a lot and tail wag too) to differ with him, there are a lot of things to be cautious about when you are a puppy, even a big puppy. For example, take the sea ling fan.

fullsizeoutput_68e

This monster four bladed piece of evil that sits quietly up there on the sea ling, staring down on me, sometimes moving…not sure why. Oh the torment. I keep an eye on it should one day it come after me. It will I know it will!!! Some times it moves around slowly, sometimes faster, sometimes it is still for hours. Always over my head. Tormenting me! Don’t know how the Big Dawg can stand it, just don’t. If I could just jump that high, that sea ling fan would be a chew toy for sure. Keeping an eye on it for sure.

This thing is almost as much a worry as those damned winn sealed wiffers on my truck (the Bronze Brute). If I could only get I could get out of that stupid safety harness those wiffers would be yesterday’s poop bag! Ahh, I wag on about these things. But you see there are a lot of things to worry about. Oh and now that I am watching the sea ling fan there are other things on the sea ling. Oh gawd how to waddle on? I think the Big Dawg is right I need a little sister to protect me.

Peg and the Big Dawg took me back to La Grande Hot Springs RV Park for a while cause of smoke and fire. I love it there. The big open field with my friend the garbage truck. What a wonderful thing to park in the dog field, how thoughtful. Dripping oil and grease and the occasional paper towel, what fun it is to sniff up and taste. It is really big so I worry about it some. Mostly use it to drive the Big Dawg nuts. He hates it when I find a greasy old paper towel and start eating it! Arf, arf, and roll over on it! Play keep away until I am tired of the smelly old thing. Cats are here too. They are a standoffish couple of fur balls. Not sure about cats. The only thing going for them is they killed a snake one morning and were dragging it all over the street. So proud of themselves they were. The cats went missing after that. Hmmm.

We went to a street fisitful in Union, Oregon. Lots of great people dropping little tidbits and morsels for me to eat. There was a fire truck spraying water all over the street, oh my. But wait, down by the library the Big Dawg found a spot to walk to the river! Flowing water, what a thing. He walked right out in it. I was not too sure about that, as he has these mintil lashes (Peg says so) every now and then. The river didn’t bite him so I walked right in like I owned it because I have found it is best to be bold. Oh, wow! This is a new thing I like. Bark, Bark, and tail wags. When I stuck my snout under the water and opened my mouth the current filled up my cheeks like a balloon! Oh, what fun. Gotta git my own river.

Now we are camping right on the bank of a river at Casey’s Riverfront RV Park. The Big Dawg and I wade into the rushing waters and I do my happy dance and happy dance and happy dance until I am soaked. I drink the river water and it tastes so good (but it seems to be a tummy upsetter 😩). The best news is that the next campground is on a river too! And then the ohshen. The Big Dawg says the ohshen water is different and I won’t like to drink it, we will see. Arf, arf for sure. Chasing sticks in the river, swimming. Life is wonderful.

Off to dinner now and teeth brushing time. Love my towth brush. I will be keeping a close eye on sea ling fan so no one has to worry about it getting loose.  Tail wag to you all!

Sah

Posted in Full Time RV Living, Scout | Tagged

Grass Valley, Oregon

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.

Sjh

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sjharshman/albums/72157696724495422

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East of the Cascades in Oregon Catch Up

Peg and I have been having a great time in Eastern Oregon this summer. We left La Grande Hot Springs RV Resort and headed to Lake Simtustus in Madras, Oregon for a month long stay.

Lake Simtustus has been our first real miscue in 3 years of camping. Lake Simtustus RV Park is a unique place, just up from the dam on a remote hillside consisting of 3 levels twisting down to the lake. Unfortunately, communications broke down somewhere as to the length of our 5th wheel and the size of the campsites. There was no way we could fit into any of the available sites. The folks who run the park are really nice and mean well but left us in limbo. All our money was refunded on the spot (which was unexpected and very nice); however, finding another place at 5 pm on a Saturday night was a challenge. Mt. View RV Park in Metolius, Oregon took us in for four nights and the search was on.

On RV Trip Wizard (the best planning tool around), Grass Valley RV Park was available so I booked it for a couple of weeks and moved on. Peg, Scout and I took a couple of road trips to the surrounding area that included Lake Billy Chinook, Round Butte, Redmond, Bend and other spots. Great scenery, deep river canyons, rivers and lakes with the view of the Cascades always in the back ground. Of course we found a couple of excellent wineries. Margas has this wonderful Tempranillo of which we bought a few bottles along with some white wines for Peg. 

Wednesday evening we got a phone call from Grass Valley. The gentleman stated that they were under a level 2 evacuation order and we should check back in the morning to see if we could come into the campground. I thanked him and began to wonder about the fire and started researching what was by then named the “Substation Fire”. This fire did not look like anything I wanted to deal with so back to the search. Luckily, I found Crook County RV Park in Prineville, Oregon which had 2 open spots. We took one of them! Good choice, when I called Grass Valley to let them know we wouldn’t be coming, they were under a level 3 evacuation (get out now!!). We couldn’t have gotten there anyway as the only highway to them US97 was closed. 

The Substation fire grew to 80000 acres killing one man and leaving a lot of farmers without a wheat crop. Fire is a way of life here; however, this one was a month early and extremely large. The Deschutes river valley from the Columbia south was devastated with all the trees and structures except the campground and marina were burnt to the ground. It looks like the City of Grass Valley was spared so we may finish up our open time in August there. 

On the RV life side of things, we have had a failure of two of the slide toppers we had Pete’s install last fall. They were still under warranty and Pete’s was super in taking care of us. It took a couple of shipments of parts to be able to put the kitchen slide topper back together and it worked well until we got to Mt. View where it failed again. Fortunately, there were enough spare parts sent that I was able to replace all the broken components. I left the canopy off so we wouldn’t have to worry about it until we get back to Apache Junction in the fall. As these things happen, we ran into the Premier Disc Brake representative at La Grande during the Northwoods RV meet up. I had talked with him last winter at Quartzite about putting disc brakes on the RV; however, the timing and location was bad for both of us. It was a pleasant surprise to run into him and we quickly struck a good deal and now have upgraded bearings and new disc brakes. Wow do they stop the trailer! These things will not only stop the RV but will bring the Bronze Brute to a stop also. So the Montana perseveres and we motor on. 

Prineville is very pleasant. The campground is very nice. Good wifi, solid utilities and very nice staff. The Park is connected to the fairgrounds which has planned events every Friday and Saturday. There are two large dog parks across the highway, one grass and one dirt so Scout has had some off leash time. Scout and I have explored up the Crooked River some but haven’t found a good place for him to swim. Prineville is the home to two large data server farms, one for Apple and one for Facebook. There appears to be a lot of industry in the Bend – Redmond area to the point of there being unbelievable traffic on US 97!!

In summary, it has been a great summer so far and we are looking forward to our journey. The links to Flickr are for several albums relating to this area and the La Grande album has been updated with some more photos. Thanks for reading and enjoy!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sjharshman/albums/72157695221822212

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sjharshman/albums/72157697705563761

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sjharshman/albums/72157698927539394

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sjharshman/albums/72157671469507338

 

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Hat Point Overlook on the Snake River Hells Canyon

Hat Point Overlook is 7990 feet above sea level and looks down well over 6000 feet to the Snake River as it flows through Hells Canyon. The Overlook has a fire watch tower, campground and picnic tables. It is safe to say that this is remote. Access is up a one lane gravel road consisting of one section 7 miles long that is a continuous 16% grade over rutted gravel and dirt road that hangs onto the edge of the mountains very tenuously. The journey begins at Imnaha and climbs about 6000 feet in 20 miles. It was an exciting excursion with many white knuckle moments for Peg!

We began the day driving to Joseph where we stopped at the Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center for a map and general directions. The lady, Debra if I remember correctly, was most helpful. The Center had all kinds of maps and sights to see. Debra asked us where we were going and Peg told her Hat Point. You could see Debra’s eyes light up, she came half way out of her chair grabbing a map and highlighter pen. “Has anyone told you about the road to Hat point?’, she asked in a kind of excited tone. Uh no, I thought to myself. “It starts out with a 16% grade, you know. Does your vehicle have good brakes?” Sure, the Bronze Brute has this one. “The road has pull outs,” Debra continued, “so when you see someone coming pull over and wait”. I recognized right away that our trip was going to be challenging and loads of fun. The blood drained from Peg’s face. God, I love her, she is such a trooper.

We buckled up and headed to Imnaha where we exited the highway and took off on the USFS road. It was asphalt for a little ways, just to fool the casual driver. Four wheel drive, on, engine braking, on, transmission in trailer/haul mode, smile on face. Off we went.

Frankly, the road was pretty bad, more of a path in some places. It got really interesting as we headed up on the side of the mountain with ruts, washouts, blind corners, no guard rails and who knows how far down the steep grassy mountain sides to the cliffs below. It was a quiet ride up to the forest. Traffic was lite. Peg was quiet. Scout slept on the rear seat.

5 Mile Overlook was great. Wonderful view to the Snake river valley that shows the river cutting through the mountains creating this scenic canyon. One interesting item is the effects of wildfire here. Along the road the east side was burned very badly at some time (Maybe the Summit fire of !989). On the west side the trees still stand, leading me to believe that fire was fought to a standstill on this road. Although higher up at Hat Point the Summit Fire of 1989 raged on over the top and beyond.

Granny View Vista as well worth the trip itself. Parking lot, toilets (clean this time of year), pretty trail that had outstanding views of the valley. Scout and I walked the trail and got some nice images. Heading up the road we moved into heavy forest that had escaped fire and logging. Wonderful to drive through. We stopped at Horse Creek Overlook which is poorly maintained. The trees have grown so high and dense that the view is mostly blocked. Horse creek drops 5000 feet into its own canyon as it flows to the Snake. This is like being in Chicago and having a mile of rock on top of you!

Hat Point did not disappoint. First we drove by the campground then parked at the base of the tower. The first thing I noticed was the old burned out trees. It is hard to believe that the Summit Fire was almost 30 years ago and these dead trees were still standing. It is also a testament to how hard the climate is at this altitude. Coming from the east side the trees have not really recovered, on the west side 30 year old trees of about 20 feet in height grow in abundance. They are sheltered from the wind and, I imagine, get more water. 

A group of young folks had climbed to the top of the watch tower and I marveled that they were not even breathing hard when they got down. Top to the tower had to be around 8100 feet, Peg and I just looked at each other and walked on. Never to speak of those kids again. Got a great image of Peg walking the trail to the picnic tables. It seems odd that there is a campground and all these picnic facilities at this spot. This is remote. Quiet, beautiful, peaceful and powerful in a way.

The mountains to the east (over in Idaho) are called the Seven Devils. We took the time to count them and yes there are seven distinct peaks. From this point it is about 7000 feet down to the Snake. There is a good view of the place where a mountain slide occurred thousands of years ago that blocked the Snake. The remaining rapids are clearly visible as is the original height of the slide on both sides of the river.

Turning around and back down was fun. It really didn’t seem that steep on the way up; however, going down was a bit nerve wracking, even for me. About half way down was a large pull off where you were recommended to stop to cool off the brakes. The Bronze Brute’s brakes are guaranteed for life so we didn’t bother to cool them off. We just kept on. I do believe that Peg finally took a breath when we crossed the last cow crossing and found asphalt. 

A fine day on the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway! Enjoy the pictures. 

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sjharshman/albums/72157695408090862/with/42400640364/

Note: the linked album is edited with the colors enhanced. Some of you might prefer the unedited originals located at https://www.flickr.com/photos/sjharshman/albums/72157697997166574

 

 

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