La Grande Oregon

La Grande Oregon is in the northeastern corner of the state. This is a wonderful round bowl shaped valley with mountains everywhere you look. The valley is named “Grande Ronde” from the early French trappers and explorers. The early explorers admired the grand round view from the valley. The valley was an important rendezvous site for the Native people of the southern Columbia Plateau. In the summer, Nez Perce, Umatilla, Cayuse and others came here to hunt, fish, gather roots and trade in peace. The Indians often called this Peace Valley, White settlers heading further west to the Willamette Valley came through this area and some stayed and settled the area. This caused friction with the Native peoples and violence ensued beginning in 1862 during which time the US Cavalry killed or captured many Natives.

The original settlers were followed by gold miners who came to this area to mine in Idaho and eastern Oregon spurring growth in the farm communities. The railroad followed in 1884 cementing La Grande as the hub of the valley. In 1875 Blue Mountain University was established by the Methodists and in 1929 the Eastern Oregon University was founded. EOU continues to be an important part of the fabric of the community and is the only state liberal arts university east of the Cascades. The economy now is an agricultural one. Crops include hay, grass seed, alfalfa, wheat, and various other plants. 

La grande is a popular year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Anthony Lakes Ski Resort has some of the best powder in the Intermountain West. The 6000 acre Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area is super for birdwatching and hunting area and home to the largest hard stem bulrush marsh in northeastern Oregon, which is a glimpse of what the valley looked like before agriculture took over. Geologically, La Grande is between the Blue Mountains and the Wallowa mountains with the Grande Ronde River being the major waterway. There are many major faults that run through the valley (our campground sits right on top of one) and several geologic hot springs like Grand Hot Springs where we are. The Hells Canyon National Recreation Area is on the eastern border and not to be missed. At over 8000 feet deep it is the deepest gorge in the US and the views are outstanding. Water rafting abounds!

Peg and I have been taking in the northeastern side of the valley, enjoying the mountain terrain and views. We took a trip on the Hell’s Canyon Scenic Byway from Baker City up through the mountains to the Idaho side of the Snake River where we had lunch and marveled at the dam and canyon vista. Hell’s Canyon is the deepest canyon in the United States, deeper than the Grand Canyon. Driving to the Hell’s Canyon Dam (owned by Idaho Power) is breath taking. The road follows the river into the canyon as the walls become steeper and steeper. I must admit there is a sinister feel to the canyon as the walls close in on you. The road crosses the dam and follows the cliff walls down to the visitor center and on a short walk to the river boat launch. It is quite a leap of faith to start over the dam road as visually it runs straight into a sheer cliff wall, it is only when about half way across that you catch a glimpse to the road down. It is a couple of tight turns, for sure! 

The people here are wonderful, friendly and welcoming. Peg, Scout and I took in the fireman’s pancake breakfast in Elgin where ate in the local firehouse. We were treated just like we had always been there. The Elgin River Fest had an antique car and tractor show which was nice. The pictures don’t do the cars justice. Someone in this area really knows how to paint cars, just beautiful workmanship. We talked with several of the exhibitors and they are one proud group, as they should be. 

Another small town near the park is Union. Union has a grocery store with character and a drug store with a real fountain service. We took in a couple of real chocolate malts while sitting outside. Scout was the big attraction getting petted by everyone going in and out of the drugstore. One very nice lady gave him ice and then some ice and Diet Coke. Wasn’t sure about the Coke but Scout enjoyed it and no harm came of it. Other than he is more spoiled now. 

Yes we are having a fine time here in this very interesting part of Oregon! Hope you enjoy the pictures. 

Thanks for reading!

Sjh

 

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

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On the Road to Oregon!

Our summer trip to Oregon has been great! We left Craig, Colorado traveling to Manila, Utah and the Flaming Gorge. Manila is a junction in the road on the Utah-Wyoming border close to Washam, Wyoming with a KOA, True Value/grocery store, gas station, and this really nice restaurant that makes wonderful chocolate malts. From the KOA we could see Kings Peak (13500 feet) the tallest mountain in Utah and down the road was Flaming Gorge lake. Pretty and well run campground by very nice folks, we would stay there again. The Uinta Mountain range certainly determined our weather. Using Manila as our base we travelled to the Flaming Gorge Dam on the Green River, to various spots on the lake (we had a nice lunch at the Lucerne Valley Marina), and traveled the 50 miles up to Green River, Wyoming for groceries. Manila is a very remote beautiful part of America. Coming up here on Utah 44 took us through the middle of one of the world’s largest phosphate mines which is an interesting drive and it seems that once you get beyond the tourism business, mining is the main driver of the economy.

The Sheep Creek Canyon Geological drive is worth the side trip. Amazing rock features and quite a climb up through the mountains. We met a couple who were dropped off close to the highest point on the road so they could ride their bikes down to the bottom. I was jealous of their plan to just ride down, save a lot of that hard peddling and sweat! We were here just at the start of the tourist season so it is hard to know how busy it gets, but my impression is that it is pretty hard to make a living here. This album is a collection of the pictures taken in this area  https://www.flickr.com/photos/sjharshman/albums/72157692382844360.

From Manila, we traveled up Wyoming 530 to Green River then east on I84 to Rock Springs where we picked up US 191 for the drive into Jackson. This was one of those wonderful road trips with gorgeous scenery and an interesting view into the ranching, mining and oil business in this part of the country. As we closed in on Pinedale, the Wyoming Mountain Range came into view giving way to the Wind River Range as we traversed Bondurant and our wonderful friends, Tom and Ginger Rooks place. 191 picks up the Hoback River in Bondurant and follows it closely as it cuts through the peaks on its journey to the Snake at Hoback. I have been here twice and the drive into Jackson through the mountain passes is always a treat, not always easy, but always rewarding. And to top it all off, The Valar Horse Facility with our host Pia Valar! Peg and I always feel at home here. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, took a couple of bike rides, one from Wilson to Teton Village and one from the Teton National Park entrance to Jenny Lake. There are paved trails all over the place in the Jackson area so bring your bike and prepare to have fun. We were fortunate enough to spend an afternoon with Tom and Ginger plus a bonus lunch in downtown Bondurant. Took in water aerobics a couple of times and put Scout in daycare once. He played for a solid ten hours or more and was exhausted. It took him two days of rest, stretching and walking gingerly to recover. Always nice to relax and enjoy friends. Enjoy the pictures. https://www.flickr.com/photos/sjharshman/albums/72157668265172127

Arco, Idaho was a two day stay to see Craters of the Moon National Monument. Arco is famous for being the first nuclear powered city. In the 1950’s a breeder reactor was built east of Arco which made history in 1961 by being destroyed by an operator maintenance error. Three people died in the accident which were the only people ever to die in the United States from a nuclear power plant failure. Peg and I were much more focused on Craters of the Moon and the Big Lost River. The Monument is very interesting and easy to navigate. Nice new roads and paved trails. The lava flow occurred in the 1500’s or so and is well preserved in the high desert climate. We continued on from Craters to travel the scenic byway through Sun Valley Ski Area up to the summit above Stanley. Beautiful and interesting drive (very long). The trip took us through the gold mining areas along the Salmon River, now mostly river rafting and fishing. It made for an interesting day and you may note in the pictures that Scout is getting pretty good at posing! https://www.flickr.com/photos/sjharshman/albums/72157695012054772

Arco to La Grande, Oregon was a long day on rough roads. US 20 is very bumpy and I was thinking I84 would be better but not by much. Now we are in Oregon for the summer! La Grande Hot Spring RV Resort is a great place with a real hot spring spa! We have been doing things and taking some of the sites around here and I will update with pictures on a later post.

Some thoughts on our journey so far. As always, the people we meet are very nice and become friends easily. On this trip I think this is particularly so due to the fact that our travels are have been through working America. The people we run into are ranchers, farmers, miners and small business folks. All working very hard to be successful. It is great to talk with them and share our adventures. Another observation is that we have seen so much hay! Good Lord, the hay that is grown out here is unbelievable. Hay has been our constant companion. Big fields of hay, almost all heavily irrigated, big stacks of bailed hay, big trucks of hay, big rows of mowed hay drying out waiting to be bailed. And the rivers, the Colorado, Salmon, Snake, Hoback, and Big Lost River all cutting through mountains and full of spring runoff. It has been an introduction to part of America that I had not seen before and I am very impressed.

Thanks for reading and look for posts of Oregon coming up!

Sjh

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Doggy Day Care Hangover, Oh My Scout!!

Erp. Erowwwh. Ohhhh, why? Sure make new doggy friends, the Big Dawg said. Play a little it will do you good. Arf, arf and tail wag sounded good to me. No one told me it was like 10 hours of unfettered running, jumping, chasing, being chased, oh my and all the butt sniffing! Totally lost all control. Played, played,and played until I dropped. How do you stop with so many dogs to sniff?

Urghhhh, erp, why so much? What fresh hell is this? Oh the pain, do I really have a muscle there? I should have stopped to think, but what do I know I’m just a teenager. Ohh, the hurt. Thought maybe some breakfast would help, oh no puke it up. The Big Dawg asked, “Did Scout have a good time?” You betcha Big Dawg, now clean this up. Puke, retch, arf, retch. So much for breakfast. Oh, oh, oh I gotta go lay down in the shower next to the drain, just in case. Doggy day care, who knew??

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Scout would like to give a special thanks to DogJax of Jackson, Wyoming (dogjax.com) for providing a wonderful facility and great staff for his first doggy day care day. Even though he overdid it and had a long day of recovery, it was worth every minute and he is ready to go at it again, well, almost..

Sah

Posted in Scout, Uncategorized

Silt to Craig Colorado

The trip to Craig from Silt was an enjoyable journey up Colorado 13. This route travels through West-Central Colorado providing great mountain views and a look at the working landscape of the state. Ranches, farms, oil and gas fields, coal mines and one very large coal fired generating station, working Colorado. Craig is a city of approximately 9500 folks who share the western ranching culture of round ups and hunting with the extraction industry of coal, oil, and the occasional gold nugget.

Forty miles east of Craig is Steamboat Springs home of all sorts of winter sports. Ski runs are everywhere and include the only ski jump facility of its type in the US. Hot springs for year around fun and rafting, hiking, for the summer. Twenty miles to the west is the Sand Wash Basin Horse Management Area with the 8120 foot Outlook Mountain. Beautiful wild horses in abundance on some 155000 acres. Very interesting country with down to earth friendly people.

Our visit to Steamboat was great. The city was in all its springtime glory with the downtown streets adorned with blooming white dogwood trees and flowers everywhere. Much nicer than Aspen, I think. The ski runs and Yampas River provide the backdrop for a community with an international flavor. Peg and I were there to see Fish Creek Falls.

The falls are on Forest Service land and has interconnecting trails to several other places in the region. While we were there, Forest Service employees and volunteers were doing Spring maintenance, removing dangerous trees and maintaining the trails. I made sure to thank them for their work. The falls are excellent. The creek is running full with snow melt which makes the falls splendid!

Fish Creek Falls

We had a good day in Steamboat and I would recommend it for any season, for any reason.

Peg had a real desire to see wild horses. Some of our Weavers Needle friends have been here and suggested a visit to Sand Wash Basin. Peg said we would be on remote gravel roads, so I was all for it. Doing the wise thing for change we filled up the Bronze Brute in Craig on the way west to Sand Wash, this turned out to be a very wise thing as there is nothing, absolutely nothing out there except open land, horses, and two other travelers (one was the “Plant Lady”???) the other looked lost.

The horses are really neat. My expectations were to see some starving old nags hanging around begging from passers by (see our Custer State Park buffaloe and burro pictures from a couple of years ago). But no! Big beautiful healthy horses in the open range. There are approximatley 450 currently in the carefully managed herd.

Sand Wash HMA Two Horses

The best thing was Outlook Mountain! When I saw the road off in the distance, I knew that was the road to take! Yes indeed, about 2000 feet up a dirt road. Wow!Road to the top of Outlook Mountain

I could tell Peg had reservations but Scout was all for it. We followed the gravel road to where the road sign pointed to Outlook Mountain just a few miles up the dirt road. I put the Bronze Brute into four wheel drive and took off. What a trip. Loose dirt and sand road with some damn near vertical sections, some hair pin curves that I am sure left one dually wheel hanging over the edge and a superb view from 8120 feet. Took some interesting pictures of leichen (sp) and the surrounding views. Also, found a triangulation marker from 1937. You may note that Peg stayed in the truck, she was frozen in thought and trying to absorb the recent trip up the mountain. At least she got to see wild horses. It was a great day and good fun.

The Craig KOA is ok. New owners who have only been here for two weeks or so recently from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. These folks are working very hard on restoring the park and adding new features. Great service and Peg and I wish them much success. We have enjoyed very good cable television as trees blocked satellite tv, and reasonable WiFi. From here you can see the coal mine off in the distance. The mine has taken quite a lot off the top of the mountains and reportably there is between 25 and 30 years of coal mining left up there. However; the coal fired power plant that uses the coal will start closing down in 2022 and be out of service in 2025. The power plant has great distribution access, including to the SRP in Pheonix, so perhaps solar or wind can be installed on the site.

Should be obvious that we are enjoying our Colorado journey and look forward to coming back one day. Monday we head to Flaming Gorge, Utah on our way to Pia’s in Wyoming. Links to pictures are below.

Thanks for reading – don’t forget to like us!

Sjh

Fish Creek

Sand Wash HMA

 

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Glenwood Canyon Pedestrian T

Tuesday morning bright and early, I drove to West Trailhead of the Glenwood Canyon Trail. This is a 14.4 mile concrete trail that follows I 70 through Glenwood Canyon along the Colorado River. This is an incredible trail. It is relatively flat with only a couple of steep places with the total rise being about 900 feet over the 14 miles. As an aside, it may just be me, but the visual perspective on several portion of the ride is that you are going downhill even though you are riding up the river. It can be disorientating. How can you go down as you go up?

The ride is really interesting, starting at the rest area at exit 119 you drop down to the trail and quickly find yourself riding along with cars, busses, semi’s, trains and the river through one awesome canyon. The imagination, engineering and construction that went into this marvel is very impressive. Each of the I 70 rest areas in the canyon are on the trail so even if you can’t take in the whole trail you can easily walk sections and it is worth it!

My ride began early in the morning so there were not very many people on the trail and I had it to myself almost to Hanging Lake, where I met a fine gentleman named John. We had a nice conversation at the rest area. He volunteers for Histori Corps rebuilding historical structures. He is working on the parks north of Denver. He took a break for lunch as I forged on upriver and he later zipped past me on his way back to his car.

It is hard to decribe what it feels like to be riding alongside the river and under the interstate. Riding through the river falls area is so loud you can not hear yourself talk as the water crashes through this section of the canyon. You can “feel” the water hitting the boulders. At one place where I stopped to take pictures the mist was heavy from the crashing waters and the sound drowned out the road noise just above my head. While I 70 and the railroad go through a couple of sets of tunnels, the trail follows the river going through only man made tunnels crossing under the interstate.

It was surprising to find a generating station along the trail. Never saw it when we drove through. Of course, I did not know there was a dam at Hanging Lake either, as I 70 is in a tunnel for that section. The trailhead came up quickly and ended just before Destoro. Took a break and used the vault toilets before heading back. I had lunch at the Hanging Lake rest area and by now there were dozens of folks walking up the trail to the Hanging Lake trail. Looked like they were all getting ready for some serious hiking!

Going back was an easier ride downhill but still just as exhilarating. The pictures do not do justice to the wonder of this trail. It did not seem like 28 miles round trip. I hope you enjoy the pictures and thanks for reading.

Sjh

Glenwood Canyon

Posted in Full Time RV Living, Scout, Uncategorized

Silt Colorado – Rifle Falls State Park

We left Salida and traveled to Silt Colorado via US 285 and US 24. The stretch of 24 we were on is known as the Top of the Rockies. We had a wonderful journey through Leadville and the mountains leading down to I 70 east of Glenwood. I think we topped out around 11,200 feet pulling our 40 ft. Montana. The F350 turbo diesel handled it with ease. What a beautiful road. The mountains are simple out of this world. Then the trip through Glenwood canyon was another thing.

The Glenwood Canyon stretch of I 70 is an engineering marvel and the canyon views are spectacular. However, for the driver, this is an intense section of road. There are lots of curves, construction, and accidents (everytime I have been on it there was always an accident). We made it safely to Silt and the Silt/Colorado River KOA.

This campground is new, still under construction, and big! It sits right on the Colorado River and is just across I 70 from Silt. The campground has the largest dog park I have ever seen in an RV park and it is all grass. Scout loves it!

In the local vicinity is Rifle Falls State Park which is very interesting and pretty. Peg and I took Scout and had a great afternoon exploring the falls and hatchery.  The ponds on top of the falls are full of trout and so is the stream flowing away from the falls, so there were fishermen about and Peg saw one big Trout caught. Linked below are pictures of this adventure. Oh by the way, the park really likes dogs. This feature is provided for the likes of Scout! 40215583490_12a9470a33_o

Yes right there in the park – Dogi Pot! Its legal in Colorado.  Scout found this to be delightful and relaxing!41236232564_3b5872a980_o

Sweet dreams little buddy.

Lol. Enjoy the images.

Sjh

Rifle Falls State Park

 

 

Posted in Full Time RV Living, Scout, Uncategorized

Salida Colorado and Four Seasons RV Park

Salida is our first stop in Colorado. We are surrounded by 14000 feet high Rocky Mountains and camping on the Arkansas River headwaters. Salida is a pretty town located on the banks of the Arkansas River. The river has a kayak run and picturesque views. The downtown walk is interesting and reminded me of some of the small historic towns in Wisconsin, friendly people with a bar or two on every block.

This area has a big winter sky season and summer ATV/hiking/rafting season. Brown Canyon National Monument begins on the outskirts of town and is accessible by ATV and four wheel drive vehicles. Rafting and Kayaking galore. This is a new Monument that is really left in a wild state. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is about 100 miles west. Some of the tallest mountains in the Rocky Mountain Range are easily seen and snow topped this time of year.

At the park, the river was ever changing with people floating down stream, fishing (catch and release only), and wild life galore. Scout and I were surprised by two very big deers right out our door early one morning. Scout and the female deer had a stare down. Scout wisely looked around and led us in the opposite direction. A lot of construction going on in this park, which is good to see because this is a unique little campground with a lot of history and deserves to carry on.

If you are ever in Salida for dinner, stop at Quincy’s Steak and Spirit. This is a local chain that serves only one menu per day. Monday through Thursday it is Fillet Mignon. It is the best! Comes with loaded baked potato and a lettuce wedge for $15! Friday and Saturday are prime rib days. Don’t miss it!

On our walk through of down town we found Floyd’s Barbershop. It brought back memories of Glen and Fred’s Floyd so took a couple of pictures to share. We had a good time in Salida and am sharing some pictures linked below.

Enjoy!

Sjh

Salida

Posted in Full Time RV Living, Scout, Uncategorized