McKenzie River

I think we started out on the wrong foot with the McKenzie River.  Like most things in life it was probably a combo of things.  As advertised, once we crossed over to the western side of the Cascades, it was raining, the forest was denser, and the sun disappeared.  It was dark and damp, just like our psyche.  The view was trees, trees, trees, the river, and more trees.  It was a strange sensation being totally surrounded by beauty, yet claustrophobic.  The trees were closing in on us and we couldn’t escape.  I’m mulling around the idea of an Alfred Hitchcock type movie titled The Trees, about a couple from Southern California in an Airstream, that lose their mind in the Cascades.  Thankfully, we were with friends and family.  If they weren’t there to ground us I don’t know what would have happened….

 

Fun! Unhitching in the rain. I think she's going crazy.

Fun! Unhitching in the rain. I think she’s going crazy.

Camp Yale.  Very odd campground.  Just our three trailers and a crazy Seventh Day Adventist.

Camp Yale. Very odd campground. Just our three trailers and a crazy Seventh Day Adventist.

Basically how the weather was the entire time.

Basically how the weather was the entire time.

Dense

Dense

Crazy lettuce looking lichen.

Crazy lettuce looking lichen.

Large Brown Slug (Arion Ater)

Large Brown Slug (Arion Ater)

The McKenzie River Gang. Roger, Amelia, Greg, and Pat.

The McKenzie River Gang.
Roger, Amelia, Greg, and Pat.

More trail.

More trail.

Densely forested.

Densely forested.

The girls laughing at one of Roger's stories.

The girls laughing at one of Roger’s stories.

One of the many bridges you walk your bike across.

One of the many bridges you walk your bike across.

Roger hitting an incline.

Roger hitting an incline.

Amelia riding the McKenzie River Trail.

Amelia riding the McKenzie River Trail.

The blue hole along the McKenzie river trail.

The blue hole along the McKenzie river trail.

All those Zumba classes are paying off.

All those Zumba classes are paying off.

Gail, two upping Amelia. Walking and drinking beer while hula hooping.

Gail, two upping Amelia. Walking and drinking beer while hula hooping.

The last evening with R.

The last evening with R.

Bend & Sisters

The big bash in Bend lived up to the hype!  It was fun camping with a group at Sisters City RV Park.  Everyone made it out, Doña Doña, Roger, Gail and R.

Visiting an area you’ve never been before always seems to be much more insightful and interesting when you have a local to show you around. Our friend Pat was an excellent guide and gracious host.  She took us out to the Mzarek Trail (my favorite), the Peterson Ridge Trail, and The Deschutes River Trail.  We also visited Good Life Brewery, Three Creeks Brewery and of course Deschutes.

As if that wasn’t enough, she even threw a dinner party at her wonderful home, introducing us to some of her Bend friends.  I don’t know how she pulled it off, but she managed to have an eight-point buck pose for photos in her front yard.  And she almost pulled off the amazing feat of hooking “R” up with an incredible lady, same age, same interests (read between the lines, she brought brownies to the party) and same political views.  She even used to live in PB!  But alas, it wasn’t to be.

The single tracks out here go on forever.  The breweries are top notch.  And people bring growlers to dinner parties.  Unlike California, in Oregon a growler is a growler.  It doesn’t matter where you bought it, they’ll fill it.  And they also have what amounts to growler filling stations.  Little stores with a multitude of taps from different brewers.  I even saw a growler filling station inside a gas station/mini mart.  Quality beer for as low as $6.99 a 64oz growler.

We are only bummed that we didn’t get a good look at the three sisters or bachelor.  The clouds and/or rain seemed to always be in the way.  Next visit we will carve out at least a week to do it right.  Our 4 days were just a teaser.

Here are some of the photo highlights.

Doña Doña's spanking new Class A rig. You want to talk about a strong independent woman, she thought nothing of jumping behind the wheel and driving all the way down from Boise.

Doña Doña’s spanking new Class A rig. You want to talk about a strong independent woman, she thought nothing of jumping behind the wheel and driving all the way down from Boise.

Doña Doña and her pup Josey.

Doña Doña and her pup Josey.

My friend Josey.

My friend Josey.

Amelia and Pat at the first of seven falls on Tumalo Creek on the Mzarek trail.

Amelia and Pat at the first of seven falls on Tumalo Creek on the Mzarek trail.

The climb.

The climb.

Ho hum...just another beautiful waterfall.

Ho hum…just another beautiful waterfall.

Happy Valley...need I say more?

Happy Valley…need I say more?

Good Life Brewery, Happy Valley, kind of the theme in Bend.

Good Life Brewery, Happy Valley, kind of the theme in Bend.

The Deschutes River Trail.

The Deschutes River Trail.

Amelia ripping through a turn on the Deschutes.

Amelia ripping through a turn on the Deschutes.

Cheerful cheers at Deschutes with Roger.

Cheerful cheers at Deschutes with Roger.

Hops as landscaping in the parking lot of Deschutes.

Hops as landscaping in the parking lot of Deschutes.

This not a statue, but the real thing! An eight point buck.

This not a statue, but the real thing! An eight point buck.

Wow!

Wow!

R and Amelia at the old look out tower on top of Black Butte.

R and Amelia at the old look out tower on top of Black Butte.

Atop Black Butte.  I love that porter.

Atop Black Butte. I love that porter.

Welcome to Oregon

September 16 -17, 2013

It wasn’t the warmest welcome we’ve ever received pulling into a campground.  Mr. and Mrs. Grumpy the Bear were the camp hosts.  Even cheerful Amelia couldn’t soften up their nicotine fueled sarcasm.  Maybe it was because Collier Memorial State Park was closing in two weeks for the season and they would be without jobs.  Who knows.

Our first night was a thrill.  Lightening that lit up the inside of the Airstream, immediately followed by a booming thunder.  Immediately as in maybe two seconds.  And it went on for several hours during the middle of the night.

The next day, Sept 17th, it was 36 degrees and snowing in Crater Lake.  Though we only caught glimpses of the lake it sure was beautiful.

A canyon before the entrance to Crater Lake National Park.

A canyon before the entrance to Crater Lake National Park.

Wooden snow poles with reflector tape. I don't know if this is an Oregon thing or a National Park thing, but it sure is more aesthetically pleasing than the orange metal poles in Mammoth.

Wooden snow poles with reflector tape. I don’t know if this is an Oregon thing or a National Park thing, but it sure is more aesthetically pleasing than the orange metal poles in Mammoth.

Talk  about role reversal.  Usually I’m the one who’s dying to urinate, but when we got to the rim village overlook Amelia had to go so bad she couldn’t wait.  The weather was quickly changing.  The next 5 photos are what happened in 60 seconds.  She was in the bathroom and missed the only chance she had for the view.

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Here’s the rest of the pics.

Pinnacles, in the lower warmer part of the park.

Pinnacles, in the lower warmer part of the park.

More pinnacles.

More pinnacles.

Brr!

Brr!

Cloudcap Bay overlook on September 17th.

Cloudcap Bay overlook on September 17th.

I was lucky and caught a model during a photo shoot for some euro magazine.

I was lucky and caught a model during a photo shoot for some euro magazine.

Next stop Bend & Sisters!

I Heart the 395

The 395 means you are out of the big city.  Yes, it does run through Victorville & Adelanto, but once you clear that hellhole it’s an amazing highway.  Some folks think it’s boring, I’ve even heard people say bleak and ugly.  I think it’s wide open and beautiful, the kind of drive where a man can be alone with his thoughts.  Perhaps the reason some folks don’t like the 395 is because they never really see the 395. Instead they are in a hurry to get from point A to point B.  There is a lot of history and many amazing sights worth taking in.  The most obvious one is Manzanar.  Visiting it should be a requirement for all high school kids in California.  The Owens Gorge is also fascinating.

U.S. 395 was originally a route in Washington state that was extended south. The extension south into California and Nevada came in 1935.  Every decade since there have improvements to the road.  I remember back in the “good old” days of the 70’s when it use to take 8 hours to get from Rancho Bernardo to Mammoth Lakes.  It took forever just to clear Escondido!  One stop light after another on what is now Center City Parkway.  For a while there in the early 80’s, it was quasi-legal to start drinking Coors once you hit the high desert.  Now it is an easy 6 hour drive.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the brain bank in Bishop.  Folks from Southern Cal still drop their brains there before heading up to Mammoth Lakes.  God knows I use to!  Something about escaping the big city for a few days makes people act goofy, stupid, and unfortunately sometimes disrespectful, as if they didn’t have a brain, but that’s a story for another day.

We just drove the 395 section from Mammoth Lakes to Alturas.  The 395 is changing as you drive through Reno.  Now it’s part of the 580.  I guess Reno is so big now that they need a freeway.  I wonder if they still call themselves “the biggest little city in the world”?

Once you clear Reno, the 395 becomes beautiful, interesting, and sad at the same time.  There were many dying towns, closed schools, abandoned motels, and businesses that have been shuttered.  The blooming rabbit brush went on for hundreds of miles.  There were National Wildlife Reserves full of wildlife.  We saw jackrabbits, an abundance of geese, a golden eagle, ducks, quail, and deer.  But the amazing sights were the Sand Hill Cranes and a herd of Antelope.

We were welcomed to our first night in Oregon with heavy rain and an impressive lightening and booming thunder show in the middle of the night.  That story and more will be on the next post.

Mrs. Harris at Washoe Lake State Campground, between Carson City and Reno.

Mrs. Harris at Washoe Lake State Campground, between Carson City and Reno.

No that's not tie-dye, this is what happens when you leave a damp sponge in a covered sink for 3 weeks.

No that’s not tie-dye, this is what happens when you leave a damp sponge in a covered sink for 3 weeks.

Shoreline of Washoe Lake.

Shoreline of Washoe Lake.

Field of Rabbit Brush with the campground in the background.

Field of Rabbit Brush with the campground in the background.

Getting old but not bitter.

Getting old but not bitter.

Gander of geese coming off of Washoe Lake.

Gander of geese coming off of Washoe Lake.

When's the last time you got gas out of a pump like this?  Johnstonville, Ca.

When’s the last time you got gas out of a pump like this? Johnstonville, Ca.

Ok kids, this is something called a phone booth.

Ok kids, this is something called a phone booth.

And yes there is a phone in it, and phone books, and it actually works!  Ravendale, Ca.

And yes there is a phone in it, and phone books, and it actually works! Ravendale, Ca.

 Our lunch stop. Fine dining in the Airstream in front of an abandoned motel. Across the street is the phone booth.


Our lunch stop. Fine dining in the Airstream in front of an abandoned motel. Across the street is the phone booth.

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Deer wading the marsh at Modoc N.W.R.

Deer wading the marsh at Modoc N.W.R.

Next Up

We leave on Sunday for our biggest trip yet.  Three weeks on the calle.  We will be going north into Oregon then down the coast into Northern CA.  Amelia, with the help of R, has been planning out the trip.  Like explorers of old, they have been studying charts.  It pays to be prepared when going into uncharted territory.  It helps to relieve unneeded stress while on the road.  The plan is to alternate between full hook up sites and primitive so we do not drain our battery.  Once we get the solar installed our full hook up visits will be few and far between.  The first stop is Washoe State Park (Reno area), then Collier State Park (in Oregon close to Crater Lake).  Next up, the big bash in Bend for mountain biking and beers!  Folks are coming in from all over.  Roger and Gail from Portland, R from San Diego, and Dona Dona de Boise.  Our good friend Pat lives in Bend.  So she’ll be showing us around the trails, breweries, and sights.

After that off to McKenzie river for some more mountain biking and rest and recreation with Gail, Roger, and R.  Then we part ways and the Harris’ will go over to Cape Blanco on the coast.  Then Denise will join us for the weekend as we head south to Harris Beach State Park (you know with a name like that the place will be awesome!)

Back into the Golden State to visit R’s third ex-wife, or as Amy likes to say, her later in life stepmom, Jeanie-Jeanie, who lives in Fortuna.  We will also visit Jeanie’s son and family, James, Francine, and Delaney.

Eventually back to Mammoth Lakes, our home.  We are excited, but it’s a little bittersweet.  Right now Mammoth is heaven.  The crowds are gone, the weather is delightful and fall colors are appearing.  This departure is quite a bit different than our last one when we couldn’t wait to flee the transient vacation rental complex.

Our Backyard Playground

After two months of going to Looney Bean and the Mammoth Lakes Public Library we finally have internet in the condo!  This post comes straight from the comfort of home.  It has been a fun summer even with the smoke from the Aspen and Rim fires and the passing of Amelia’s lovely Grandma Donna at 92 years old.  Here are some pics from our explorations in the Eastern Sierra while not in the Airstream.  There’s no end to the adventures that can be had right outside our front door.

Approaching the top of Duck Pass. Mt. Ritter and Banner in the background.

Approaching the top of Duck Pass. Mt. Ritter and Banner in the background.

Clearing Duck Pass.

Clearing Duck Pass.

Beautiful day at Duck Lake.

Beautiful day at Duck Lake.

Rock Fringe, along Duck Pass.

Rock Fringe, along Duck Pass.

 

Alpine Pink Columbine on the Duck Pass trail in July.

Alpine Pink Columbine on the Duck Pass trail in July.

Wallflower, one of the first flowers to bloom every year.

Wallflower, one of the first flowers to bloom every year.

Cooling my dogs in the Duck Lake outlet.

Cooling my dogs in the Duck Lake outlet.

Lemmon's Paintbrush at the meadow beyond Duck Lake.

Lemmon’s Paintbrush at the meadow beyond Duck Lake.

melia participating in the VC's, Village Championships, held at Shady Rest every Tuesday during the summer, smoke and weather permitting.  She did this for the first time with Jen's boys and Jimmy's girls earlier in the summer.

melia participating in the VC’s, Village Championships, held at Shady Rest every Tuesday during the summer, smoke and weather permitting. She did this for the first time with Jen’s boys and Jimmy’s girls earlier in the summer.

Tahoe bike trip. Amelia approaching The Bench, Chris, and Gumby. This is a great ride!

Tahoe bike trip. Amelia approaching The Bench, Chris, and Gumby. This is a great ride!

Aunt Amelia enjoying her time with my cousin's kids, Chris and Alex. They jumped into Lake Tahoe as we watched.

Aunt Amelia enjoying her time with my cousin’s kids, Chris and Alex. They jumped into Lake Tahoe as we watched.

Tahoe/Truckee bike trip.  At the top of the Hole in the Ground ride. Pat, myself, Chris and Gumby.

Tahoe/Truckee bike trip. At the top of the Hole in the Ground ride. Pat, myself, Gumby, and Chris.

Atop Mammoth Mountain. Soon this place will be covered with snow.

Atop Mammoth Mountain. Soon this place will be covered with snow.

Hiking up Convict Canyon. We will return to see the fall colors and to go all the way to Lake Dorothy.

Hiking up Convict Canyon. We will return to see the fall colors and to go all the way to Lake Dorothy.

Waterfall coming from Lake Genevieve flowing into Convict Creek.

Waterfall coming from Lake Genevieve flowing into Convict Creek.

Swirly rock mountain on the way to Mildred Lake.

Swirly rock mountain on the way to Mildred Lake.

Yosemite Toad. I love toads!

Yosemite Toad. I love toads!

Mildred Lake with Red Slate Mountain in the background.

Mildred Lake with Red Slate Mountain in the background.

Hiking up to the back side of Mammoth Rock with the hope of climbing to the top.

Hiking up to the back side of Mammoth Rock with the hope of climbing to the top.

Abandoned mine in Mammoth Rock.

Abandoned mine in Mammoth Rock.

Back side of Mammoth Rock. It was really sheer and the route we were told to take was just a bit over our ability level.  We might return with a new friend Amelia made that claims it's just one class 3 move.

Back side of Mammoth Rock. It was really sheer and the route we were told to take was just a bit over our ability level. We might return with a new friend Amelia made that claims it’s just one class 3 move.

On the way to Crowley Lake.  A crazy cloudy, Rim fire smoke filled evening with beautiful sun beams.

On the way to Crowley Lake. A crazy cloudy, Rim fire smoke filled evening with beautiful sun beams.

Walking along the eastern shoreline of Crowley Lake towards the columns and caves.

Walking along the eastern shoreline of Crowley Lake towards the columns and caves.

The columns of Crowley Lake.  Some crazy freaky shit.

The columns of Crowley Lake. Some crazy freaky shit.

Not only were there columns, there were caves that were full of bugs clinging to the walls until you disturbed them. Then they flew everywhere!

Not only were there columns, there were caves that were full of bugs clinging to the walls until you disturbed them. Then they flew everywhere!

In 100 years this will probably be columns or perhaps 100 years ago these were columns.

In 100 years this will probably be columns or perhaps 100 years ago these were columns.

Looking across Crowley Lake towards Mammoth Mountain.

Looking across Crowley Lake towards Mammoth Mountain.

Hook up at Starkweather Lake!  We hiked down from the Minaret Summit.

Hook up at Starkweather Lake! We hiked down from the Minaret Summit.