<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Postcards Library 9
Little Log


Stephanie is one of those persons who can fit a lot of words onto a standard size postcard -- usually by writing sideways, around corners, and even upside down if she can find some extra space. Most of these go to family and friends. But some of them -- those which document our RV adventures -- find their way onto this portion of our website...

Postcard: Gearing Up to Go!

August 10, 1998

Nest weekend, we are taking off on a new adventure. We will board a Canadian ferry in Port Hardy for the Discovery Coast. We will get to explore places with the intriguing names of Namu, Shearwater, Klemtu and Bella Coola. But that is next week. What to do this week?

Our answer to this question was a day trip to Sydney, BC and Butchart Gardens. You cannot miss references to this place. Billboards as far away as Salem, Oregon advertise it. All the brochures on places to see in the Pacific Northwest mention it. But we had never visited. When our friends raved about its beauty we just looked uncomfortable and said, " Oh yes, well, one of these days we must go." Today, we did.

The Gardens are located about 15 miles north of Victoria or 10 miles east of Sidney. It isn't too easy to get there from our Island in the summer time. We took the 5:30 am ferry to Orcas Island, At 8:30, we caught the International sailing from Anacortes, and arrived in Sidney around 10:30.

We took our bicycles, and planned to bike around Sidney after touring the Gardens. Sidney is one of our favorite towns, and its many quiet back streets make for great riding. Every so often, one of these streets dead ends right on a lovely cove or at a quaint marina. Sidney prides itself on its many bookstores, art galleries, and restaurants. There are several bakeries selling fresh breads and sausage rolls.

But first we were off to Butchart Gardens. The number 75 bus took us right to the gate. As we entered, we were given a map and history of the Gardens, as well as a flower identification guide. I immediately became a flower detective. I was not alone. In each group, there was one person who walked along with her nose in the book, identifying the flowers for the others. The Guide contains clear photographs, time of bloom, and plant height, making this task immeasurably easier.

The Gardens are located on what was the Butchart estate. Robert Pim Butchart made a fortune in the cement business, and, as his wife's gardens grew larger and larger, men from the cement plant were assigned to assist her. The first garden, started in 1906, was the Japanese garden. We walked along the carefully groomed paths, past full grown trees cut in bonsai fashion. There are several "pagodas", areas where you can sit and rest and watch the water streaming along. There are periodic attempts to plant koi in the ponds, but this attracts herons and otters out for a free meal.

We strolled past the Begonia Bower on our way to the sunken gardens. Hanging basket after hanging basket, tilled with begonias of all descriptions, interspersed with fuschias. Almost too many flowers, too much color to comprehend.

The Sunken Garden is located where the limestone quarry once was. Massive amounts of topsoil were brought in by horse and cart to form garden beds on the floor of the quarry. Now you walk down into the Garden and stroll around and through it. Here are masses of petunias, impatiens, geraniums, salvia and other flowers. All the colors compliment each other, and the array of pinks, reds, blues and greens is dazzling. At one end of this Garden is a large lake with a fountain. this is the Ross Fountain. The walls of the quarry at this point have been deliberately left wild, in great contrast to the ivy covered walls of the rest of the Garden. Cascading down one side of the quarry and into the lake is a waterfall.

I am not particularly fond of roses. I have too many memories of rose pests and my usually vain attempts to get rid of them. But this Rose Garden is spectacular. Colors abound. All shades of reds, pinks, striking oranges and yellows. Many of the roses have a small plaque showing the name, country of origin and year of selection by the American Rose Society. Most of these are from the US, but Germany, Holland and France are also prominent.

Scattered throughout the gardens are statues. Some are whimsical, such as the large boar dominating the entrance patio. More traditional ones are the Fountain of the Three Sturgeons, the Peace Doves, the ornate Birdhouse. It is easy to understand why people return here time after time, season after season, to see the Gardens and what is blooming. Indeed, it will take many return visits just to get a clear picture of what is here.

Butchart Gardens can be crowded. we were lucky to come at a relatively quiet time. Just after 1 pm, the tour busses arrived. Bus after bus filed through the gate and spilled out hordes of visitors. We had intended to eat lunch here, and would have been wiser to have made a reservation as soon as we arrived, and then toured the Garden.

As it was,we returned to Sidney in the early afternoon for our promised bike ride. A delicious lunch at the pub at the Sidney Marina, then a tour of the town. Since we were leaving on the afternoon boat, we would not be in Canada long enough to purchase anything, and even this fanatic shopper was content just to ride the back streets. A half hour before we were due at the ferry dock, Tom stopped into a convenient cuber Cafe, (he does manage to find them!), and got his e-mail. A perfect ending to a wonderful day.

Bring on the Discovery Coast!

Postcard: Beating the Heat: the Oregon Islands

July 29, 1998

There may be no better insulation from a summer "hot spell" than the rugged Oregon Coast. Miles of flat sandy beaches, lighthouses on every point, many small and not so small campgrounds, and other areas where you can just pull off the road and walk seemingly endless stretches of beach along the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

Or, you might visit the Oregon islands...

Bandon, Oregon is less than 100 miles north of Crescent City, and is a wonderful small town for exploration. Bullards Beach State Park has almost 200 sites, is located on 1266 acres, has 4 miles of pristine beach, and offers sand dunes and forests as well. You can bicycle out to the beach or to the Coquille River Lighthouse. Horses are allowed on the beach as well, and we saw several young girls out enjoying an afternoon's romp at the water's edge.

We found a wonderful small fresh fish market in "old town" Bandon. As we were going in, the morning shift of "fish processors" (easily identified by their rubber boots) were just leaving. We asked what was "good" today, and got the response, "roast beef"! Several hours of cleaning and filleting fish was obviously enough for that particular good-natured man, who reported he'd been doing the same for over thirty years. The retail part of the market was featuring fresh halibut, caught in their 1 day, 10 hour, halibut season. They also had ling cod. It was hard to make a decision. A bit further up the road we purchased some of the famous Bandon cheese, but passed on the Bandon ice cream. But most people did not. There were a dozen or so tourists enjoying huge cones, and watching with great fascination the day's main entertainment event-- a pile driver hard at work across from the cheese/ice cream factory.

South of town, a little traveled road winds along the coast for several miles before rejoining highway 101. Within the first mile comes Coquille Point, and our first introduction to the Oregon Islands.

Over 1,400 islands, rocks and reefs scattered along the coastline make up the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. These rocks and islands, 762 acres in all, provide nesting habitat for more than one million seabirds. They also provide some wonderful nature walking and watching. The rocks range in size from just barely showing above the water to full blown islands. All are different. At Coquille Point there is a sign showing the different islands here and listing their names. Black, 5 Foot. Face, Cat & Kittens, Table and Face Rocks are only a few. If our grandkids were with us, we could have a wonderful game called, "name that island."

As one travels further north to Florence, you enter the Oregon Dunes area. Stretching 47 miles along the coast, they beg exploration. You can rent an ATV and ride in 3 separate areas. You can hike on the dunes -- here they're called "muscle powered walking areas". Stopping at the visitor center (love these places), we saw a diorama of the dunes and their formation and also picked up a brochure on them. Now we know the difference between transverse and oblique dunes, and even that the latter can rise to heights of 180 feet. The enormous amount of sand in this area is a living, "moving" thing. Only the introduction of certain types of grasses have slowed or stopped the eastern migration of vast quantities of sand, though it appears to be a battle which may never be over.

There are many camp grounds and state parks here, as there are along the entire coast. We learned that these parks usually fill for a summer weekend on a Thursday, but if you camp on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, you can usually get in -- even into those parks operating on the Oregon reservation system.

Newport is the last coastal town we will visit on this trip. It is more crowded here -- probably due to the proximity of Eugene, Salem and Portland. But most importantly, we have outlasted the hot spell of the interior valleys, enjoying cool foggy mornings and moderate daytime coastal temperatures. Tomorrow, we go inland toward Seattle...

Postcard: Beating the Heat: Crescent City

July 27, 1998

Heading North again from the Napa Valley, we have decided on the Coastal Route. The Sacramento Valley is showing temperatures in the range of 105 degrees, and even parts of Highway 101 are unseasonably warm. Garberville, with one of our favorite RV places, was 97 just before noon, too hot to to stop this time. So we're off to Crescent City. We stopped briefly there on the trip south, and were intrigued with this small town.

First of all, in the summer, it is foggy, and the temperature stays in the lower 60s. Second, there are wonderful beachcombing beaches. Third, there is a stand of old growth redwood forest which is a "must see".

We got into town in the mid-morning, having only traveled 70 miles from Arcata. We checked into the Sunset Harbor RV Park, conveniently located right in the center of town. As soon as we had the truck disconnected, we were off. Time to explore the beaches and the town itself.

Following those streets hugging the shores of the harbor, we came upon the Crescent City Marine Mammal Center. Here stranded, ill or injured seals and sea lions are nursed back to health. A shop selling shirts, jewelry, and other items helps finance the Center's work. There was only one baby seal in the hospital. The staff person was afraid his flipper was broken, but they needed to make him stronger so it might be repaired. The baby was having a nap, and from the looks of his tummy, strength was on the way.

Past the Center is the Flat Rock fishing pier, where whole families were out catching odd looking (to me) small fish. Right next to the pier is the Battery Point Lighthouse. Built in 1855, occupied in 1856, and in use until lighthouse automation came in 1953, this is one of the first lighthouses in the country. The lighthouse can only be accessed during low tide, at high tide, the pathway is under water. That tidal portion of the beach is full of agates, and is flooded with children finding them.

There are tours given of the lighthouse, unfortunately not given today. But we did get to walk around the small island. There are two twisted stumps, remains of cypress trees. One has been carved to resemble a whale, the other is an old mariner, clutching the wheel of his ship and staring out to sea. From this vantage point you can see the breakwater for Crescent Bay, and on one corner of this, the Doloes. Doloes are concrete and steel pilings installed to help break up the waves from the winter storms. There are 750 of them (though it doesn't look like that many), each set 15 feet apart, each weighing 84,000 pounds. One has been broken by the force of the waves and the movement of other deloes. Another has been moved 11 feet, and two more have moved 1 to 2 feet. The rest have stayed where they were set.

We drove along the oceanside of Crescent City, past brightly colored houses (look for the bright yellow one with red and blue trim), and hard packed sand beaches. 3 miles took us to the Point St George Coastal access area. More endless beaches, sand dunes, and almost no one enjoying them. As Tom put it, "it's like Mendocino, without the people."

The Redwoods. Our campground host had given us a map of a 10 mile loop drive, which, he said, would show us the most beautiful stand of Redwood trees on the whole coast. A lot of persons and places have made this claim, so we decided to go and see for ourselves.

From Highway 101 to Elk Valley Road is only one block from the campground. Drive down Elk Valley Road to Howland Hill Road -- about 2 miles. Once you find Howland Hill Road, all you do is follow it. But do not follow it in anything wider than a Dodge 1 ton dually. The road is very narrow; if you meet another vehicle, one of you must give way. The road turns to gravel and climbs quite steeply up Howland Hill. Once you get to the top, you enter a Redwood Wonderland.

You wind between enormous redwood trunks -- the trees are so tall, over 300 feet, that you cannot possibly see their tops without the danger of falling over backward. The trees are huge -- we estimated one trunk diameter at 18 feet. There isn't a lot of undergrowth here, the tall trees let little sunlight or rain through, and the low bushes just don't grow. But everywhere you look, there are trunks and trunks of hundreds of huge trees. It is quiet, too, the only noise an occasional bird, and the seemingly far off sound of the Crescent City foghorn. There are several places to park and some interesting looking hiking trails. We walked a way on Boy Scout trail.

No one has carved his initials in any of the trees. No graffiti, anywhere. Some of the trees had fallen, these had smaller redwoods growing from their stumps or sides. If they fell across a trail, the trail access had been carefully cut open, but nothing else done to mar these perfect woods.

Stout Grove is some 8 miles further along this route. Here is the largest tree, 18+ feet in diameter and 341 feet tall. You are almost to Highway 199; indeed, if you were only going to this grove of trees, you could get there more quickly by going around from Crescent City. Therefore, there are more people here -- all 20 parking spaces were full. But wonderful as this grove may be, the real sensory sensation of the trip is topping Howland Hill and seeing the redwoods as they used to be.

Tom is due in Toronto at the end of the week, therefore we will have to be in Seattle by the weekend. It has been in the upper 90s in Seattle, so we will continue to hug the coast as long as we can. Tomorrow, we will camp on the Oregon coast -- fog and cool breezes sound wonderful to us as we listen to the inland weather forecasts. It is something of a game called "How can We Continue to Beat the Heat".

Postcard: Beating the Heat: Altitude Camping

July 21, 1998

Texas and the Southwest are grabbing the weather attention this month. But it is hot other places, too. (Being true Northwesterners, we think hot is anything above the low 80s.) For the last few days, we have been trying to discover how to beat the heat. At the Moscow Conference, we had electricity and therefore air conditioning. But after the conference, what will we do?

Friday afternoon, we left Moscow and headed for a favorite area spot, the Whitman County fairgrounds, five miles west of Colfax, WA. It was 93 degrees. We decided that if the fairgrounds had 30 amp service for air conditioning, we would stay. Otherwise, we would try Central Ferry State park near Walla Walla.

The fairgrounds it was. No one there but us. Missy, our Brittany, could run free and chase all the killdeer she wanted. The birds love to pretend to be injured and lead her on wild chases all over the fields. Missy had her exercise; w e had our cool air, and views of the rolling hills of the Palouse. A beautiful spot.

The warm weather continued and now we started checking our camp site candidates not only for their amenities, but also for their altitude.We were tempted by Central Ferry State Park. Though it has little altitude, it is located right on the Snake River. It features wide grassy spaces, level paved parking areas, and each site is set apart and landscaped for privacy. A sign at the entrance stated that there were still 18 spaces free for the Labor Day weekend. Perhaps we will gather the clan and head there in September. But for now we were off to Oregon.

Highway 395 south of Pendleton climbs up into the Umatilla National forest. In the 120 miles between Pendleton and Mt. Vernon on Highway 26, there are 5 summits. The lowest is 4,127 feet, the highest 5,101. Up and down, up over lovely, cool and forested summits, down into beautiful green valleys, most with small scenic towns. The temperature dropped from the high 80s to the lower 70s. Battle Mountain State park looked inviting and cool at 4,270 feet. But we were off to meet our daughter and son-in-law and needed to cover a few more miles.

Clyde Holiday State park is located just outside of John Day, OR. It has level, paved sites, shade trees in abundance, and is right on the John Day river. It makes a wonderful overnight stop -- longer if you choose to explore the area, or perhaps golf at the local course. It was quite warm, but the good 'ol conditioner made it nice inside the rig. And the evening was delightful.

Elevation was the key for camping at East Lake. 18 miles east of La Pine, in the Newberry Caldera of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, are several Forest Service campgrounds at 6300 feet. After the first five miles, the road climbs steadily, getting steeper with each passing mile. At mile 15, there is an entry station for day use or for the campers headed for one of the campgrounds at the two lakes in the Caldera, Paulina Lake and East Lake.

We camped at Cinder Hill campground. Here are around 100 sites, most more suitable for a slide in camper or tents than for our 30 foot 5th wheel. But when we found a large enough site, it was great, located on a small bluff overlooking the lake. The lake was warm enough for swimming, and seemed full of fish, judging by the number of boats, float rings and shore fishermen, and by the beautiful stringer of trout of one very satisfied fisherman.

As in many National Parks and Monuments, we were given a small newspaper describing the attractions of Newberry Crater. There are various hiking trails, biking is wonderful, various types of trout abound in both lakes, or -- you can drive to Paulina Peak.

This road is 4 miles straight up, from the bottom at 6300 feet to the summit at above 8500 feet. The views are incredible. You can see Mount Adams in Washington in the far north. Oregon peaks include Hood, Jefferson, the Three Sisters, Broken Top and Bachelor. The peaks around Crater Lake are directly west. In California, Shasta and Lassen are easily viewed. Closer views show the entire Monument, both Paulina and East lakes, and the obsidian rivers created when the original mountain "blew its top" forming the Caldera. Looking east, you can see the plains of eastern Oregon.

Currently, this road is under construction, being widened and perhaps eventually paved. Only open on weekends, it is best suited for 4 wheel drive vehicles, and even carries a warning sign to conventional passenger cars. There is a trail, but I am not the 4-miles-straight-up sort of hiker. But if you visit Newberry and do not get to Paulina peak, you are missing something special.

Now we are off to the coast, another choice to beat the heat. Crescent City and Eureka should have cool foggy mornings and lovely sunny afternoons. We will enjoy the fog for a couple of days before heading into the heat of the Napa Valley.

Postcard: The Phantom Towns of North-Central Washington

July 11, 1998

Our journey yesterday was very short -- less than 150 miles from Lone fir to Bonaparte Lake State Park. This lovely little lake comes complete with a state park and a small resort. There are cabins to rent as well as RV spaces, a small restaurant and store. The fishing is reportedly magnificent, and the reports are true, considering one of the fish I saw pulled from the water. The State park has level sites, several right at the lake's edge.

We are in north-central Washington state. No fancy homes here, just fishing cabins, small ranches and farms, and scenery which will not quit. Rolling, tree covered hills, velvet valleys, fields with cows "out- standing" in them, farms with produce not quite ready for the picking. Lots of little lakes, dotted with waterfowl.

Turning east from Tonasket, we saw a detour sign. The highway was closed some 25 miles ahead. What to do? Looking at the map we could see various alternate routes, one south through the Colville Indian reservation, then taking a ferry (free) across the Columbia. Another alternative was north through Canada . Or we could follow Wash DOT's detour instructions, which seemed a little dull.

Asking the proprietor of the small Bonaparte Lake Resort, we found what seemed like the perfect solution. Indeed, if it worked, we might take this substitute road again. But prudence dictated that we drive a bit of the road first, before trying it towing. We were going to find the Toroda Creek road, and parallel highway 20 until we caught up with the detour. We were promised little traffic, wildlife viewing and gentle grades en route to the Columbia River.

Within a mile, the road shrank to one and a half lanes, gently climbing through the hills for the first three miles. Then it turned east and spent three more miles descending on a grade of at least 6%. This narrow road was completely deserted. At Beaver Lake campground, the road widened to two lanes, and headed for Toroda Creek. The map showed that, if we were on the correct road, we would pass through Bodie and Old Toroda, en route to Wauconda.

There was no Bodie. There was no Old Toroda. Not a sign, not a building; nothing to indicate that there had ever been towns of these names anywhere in the area. That is, if we were in the right area. It's easy to get lost up here. Intriguing looking forest service roads branch off the paved road simply begging exploration. And roads here have wonderful names. Where else to find Buckley Wuckley Lane? Or Beverle Hills Road? Or where a small log cabin, with a neatly fenced garden, is called Fort Lewis?

Even without the help of Bodie and Old Toroda, we did find Wauconda. We found the Wauconda Grange, several homes, and a small cafe. We were once again on the road back to Bonaparte Lake.

This morning, we were off on our new road -- our short cut to Spokane, Coeur d' Alene and eventually Moscow. As for the promises made by the cafe owner traffic, wildlife and gentle grades -- the first eleven miles,we saw no traffic going in either direction. Wildlife was several rabbits standing sentinal along the road and lots of chipmunks. As for the gentle grades, the Boulder Creek Summit road is more gentle than the route on Highway 20, but it is still quite steep.

We followed the Kettle River through Toroda, (another phantom town), to Curlew. Then up over Boulder Creek Summit, and down to the Columbia River. Every turn brought new rural vistas -- beautiful tree covered hills, lovely valleys stretching for miles. Definitely a road to take again. Maybe next time, we will find our phantom towns

Postcard: Moscow Bound: Lone Fir Campground

July 9, 1998

We are off for the annual RVing Conference, Life On Wheels, at the University of Idaho in Moscow. Per usual, we have allowed ourselves a bit of extra time to explore en route. First stop: Lone Fir Campground.

Lone Fir is on the east side of the Cascade Mountain Range, the North Cascades Highway, Highway 20, mile marker 169. Here, on the banks of Cutthroat Creek, and nestled among the pines, are some beautiful campsites. There are even two or three choice sites big enough for our 5th wheel, although an RVer with a slide in unit would have a larger selection. Located high enough to avoid the summer heat, you have ready access to the many North Cascades hiking trails.

Snuggled in our site by 12:30, we spent a couple of hours hiking the Cedar River trail. A two mile hike, this not particularly strenuous until after you pass the falls and climb to the higher mountain meadows. For us it was two miles up, two miles down, and the rest of the afternoon by the side of the creek. There could not be a better way to spend the day.

A word about critters. In our travels, we have only been bothered by tiny invaders from the forests three times. This campground is the site of our first critter confrontation. A couple of years ago, we had a mouse come in on the satellite dish connecting cable. It took two days to convince him to leave. Once, camping in the La Pine, Oregon state park, I made the mistake of putting a pot of petunias our on the steps. I thought they looked welcoming there. And they certainly did, at least to the many, many resident chipmunks. These cute little critters ate them right to the potting soil in no time flat. Another time, the service technician at a Minute Lube discovered a mouse snuggled up under the hood! And, several weeks later, the same man, preforming the same task, found the same mouse's house. This time, however, no critters.

Tomorrow, we will wander farther east along highway 20. We still have three full days before we are due in Idaho. I wonder where we will wind up next.

Postcard: Black Line Adventures

June 27,1998

We are heading north by heading east this morning. South on Interstate 5 for two miles, then east on state road 234. This is a new road for us, and one we will choose to drive again and again. It is absolutely lovely! We followed the Rogue River upstream, watching it get smaller and smaller as we climbed. We traveled through Gold Hill, a small community right on the river. Next came Gold Hill then, in rapid succession, Gold Nugget and Gold King. Then into Sam's Valley, and Wanda's Triple Tree Cafe. The staff at this cafe has embarked on a ambitious program -- they are teaching the locals not to smoke. This they do by limiting the days when the smoking section can be used. Good work. And a very good breakfast, as well. It is fun to eat in small cafes where everyone knows everyone else. As we pulled in, a large pickup came by, honking his horn as he did so. About 10 minutes later, he was back with a trailer attached to his truck, a backhoe on board and his girlfriend in tow. Breakfast time.

On these upper sections of the Rogue, fishing is the thing. Where we had camped at the Rogue River State Park, jet boats were the vogue. There were advertisements for them at the entrance gate, and even a "jet boat"stop, (resembling a bus stop). The town of Shady Cove caters to fly and spin fishermen, and rents boats and rafts for fishing. And fishermen abound. The river is fairly peppered with them.

About 40 miles up the river is Lost Creek Reservoir. Located on the reservoir is Joseph H. Stewart State Park. We did not stop (it was only 9:30 am), but it looks like a beautiful spot. Lots of trees, wide grassy sites, and the lure of the water. And, in comparison with the Rogue River SP, it did not appear in the least full!

We had been a bit concerned about road conditions. We had two passes to cross, one 5400 feet; the other 6000 . An article in the local paper reported that nearby Crater Lake still had a large portion of its campgrounds closed, with thirty inches of snow where there was usually ten. And rain had been forecast, with the snow level at 5000 feet. Tom has a "rule of thumb" which says that you lose 3 degrees of temperature for every thousand feet of elevation. If this held true, we would be looking at the mid forties at the summits.

So much for that theory. The weather started sunny and warm and became progressively more so. We saw no snow anywhere but on mountain tops. The road climbed very gently. There were no hairpin turns. We followed first the Rogue River, then several tributary creeks; each lovelier than the last. Skirting Crater lake, we took a second black highway, number 230. Still gorgeous, still warm. Most traffic was going toward the Lake, so we were practically alone.

Up oh! Just as we got to our 6000 foot pass, we made a terrible mistake. Tom mentioned how well our truck was pulling these roads, praising our Banks power upgrade, and our pac-brake. At that instant, there came a peculiar noise from under the hood -- explainable best by comparing it to the cards children put on their bicycle tires to make motor-like sounds! The pac brake, when applied, still worked a little, but sounded like it had had a hole punched in it.

That was the bad news. The good was that we knew exactly what to do about it. We were about 90 miles from Bend at this point, and we knew that there was a Cummins "fix it" shop there. We called them up (thank goodness they were open on Saturdays), made an appointment, and got it fixed.

The roads we traveled, 234, 62, 230 and 138, made a beautiful trip crossing Oregon from Interstate 5 to Highway 97. You can opt for Crater Lake or just travel the back black highways. An alternative is to head west again toward Roseburg. You can carve just about any trip you want from these lesser traveled highways. We found the roads in super condition, the scenery spectacular, and the trip a must-repeat. Soon.

Postcard: Campgrounds Used: Rogue River State Park

June 26, 1998

Generally, we try to travel "off season". This can mean spring or fall travel, or week day travel, avoiding weekends. Sometimes, however, "peak" season simply cannot be avoided.

We are headed north again, back from the Napa Valley to the San Juan Islands. Tonight we are camped at the Rogue River in southern Oregon. This state park is quite close to Interstate 5; in fact, you get to the park by passing through a rest stop. The park is heavily treed, with grassy lawns stretching between the sites and down to the river. It is a very popular spot to stop for the night, or for the weekend. The campers tonight are not the "leave in the morning" variety, they are here for the weekend. The park is totally full, with about 20 rigs in overflow.

There are kids everywhere. They are riding their bikes around the campground loops, and on the roads between them. There are learners on bikes with training wheels, with faithful parents puffing along behind. Those not on bikes are on skates, the in-line variety as well as the old fashioned 4 square types. Children too small for either of these sports are on the swings and teeter-totters of the large playground.

An ice cream truck came through the park around 6:30. Ringing his bell and collecting the children of the 90s as easily as in earlier generations. He did a brisk business in ice cream bars and popsicles.

About 1/2 mile down the road, yet still in the park, the Southern Oregon Street Rodders were having a rally. They had reserved one entire loop of the campground. Tom & I took the path by the river to see the many wonderful street rod offerings. These look like cars from the 30s and 40s, but beneath their vintage exteriors, they are 1990s all the way. Power windows, air conditioning, and the most modern of suspension systems are standard equipment.One 1939 Cadillac had a speedometer indicating that 120 mph was attainable. The colors of these cars are modern also. None of the staid dark blues and blacks favored by Henry Ford; these cars are purple, orange, cinnamon red and pastels -- light blue, peach, lemon and green.

These are Rvers of a somewhat different stripe. There were several "teardrop" campers -- one of which actually dated from the 40s. These small stainless steel campers are only big enough to hold a bed -- either double or queen sized. One end opens displaying an outdoor kitchen area, with a shelf and cupboards below to hold a few camping implements. One of the women organizers of the rally explained that she likes to camp out with cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and dinners at a restaurant.

Tomorrow, the Street Rodders are going on a Poker Rally, then returning to display all their cars throughout their part of the campground. They are expecting quite a crowd to view and admire their carefully crafted cars.

We will not be here to join the crowds, as we are off on a new road. It is a small, black line which looks absolutely entrancing. We will be high in the mountains, and there is still a lot of snow at Crater Lake, which area the road skirts. Adventure awaits...

Postcard: Junipers Reservoir

June 14, 1998

We are still headed back to the Napa Valley, but when Tom looked up the projected weather forecast for the Sacramento Valley and it said "awfully warm", we put on the brakes. This gave us an extra excuse to prolong a stay at one of our favorite parks, Junipers Reservoir, some 10 miles east of Lakeview, OR.

This park is located a mile off of Oregon 140, on a private ranch road. This is to be expected; you will be camped on a portion of an 8000 acre cattle ranch. The road is gravel and can be a bit bumpy, but you wouldn't want to speed anyway. This is a working ranch. The cattle are moved periodically from pasture to pasture, and could very well be walking on the road in front of you.

As you approach the park, an incredible vista opens in front of you. On the right, there is a large reservoir stretching over many acres. Straight ahead are grassy fields, fairly teeming with wildlife. The juniper and sage covered hills stretch as far as you can see. Right in the middle is the campground.

The campground has but approximately 40 sites -- and the greatest asset of each is the view in all directions. The Trailer Life Directory seems to recognize this with its "10" rating. The sites are set in a large loop, each facing either the mountains or the grassy meadows. In the middle is a large playfield, just right for volleyball or just running around. One man was tossing a frisbee for his dog. I may practice chipping later today. Most of the sites have bird boxes, and the swallows are taking full advantage of the free housing. This is the kind of place where I'd like to have a hammock. This morning a slight breeze rustles the leaves of our campsite tree, the sun is already pleasantly warm, and the weather forecast is for more of the same.

There is a very nice outdoor oriented club area, with barbecue and sink facilities, and wonderful restrooms. Spotlessly clean, the women's has rugs on the floors and a working hair dryer attached to the wall. The laundry facility (where there is a modem hookup area) contains a bowl with $8 in quarters for change. We were delighted to find that the honor system still works here.

This is a wildlife preserve, so all sorts of birds and animals are seen. Antelope and deer are common, as are ground squirrels and woodchucks. The birding is spectacular. We have seen willets, (a new bird for me), all over - on the fenceposts, on the rooftops, as well as by the sides of the reservoir and various streams. Sandhill cranes woke us up this morning, and we watched a pair fly by. Vaux' swifts make whirring noises with their wings as they fly overhead. The killdeer make our dog's life more interesting as they pretend to be injured in order to lead her away from their nests. The reservoir has mallards, gadwalls, geese, grebes and white pelicans. Working on the tree at our site is a red breasted sapsucker. Junipers has so many birds they printed their own birdlist.

Hiking. A main nature trail has been set up, but you can wander anywhere. If you follow the trail, you will pass the ruins of two old homesteads, an ancient Paiute camping area, and find the trails to agate and obsidian arrowhead areas. There is a 6 1/2 mile drive through the area, but due to a recent rainstorm, it was closed yesterday. The weather is currently glorious; it may be open today.

The Lakeview area has several small lakes and trailheads inviting exploration. There is a 9 hole golf course just down the road. Rockhounding is excellent. And for those so inclined (count me out), there are 5 hang gliding launch sites.

We are always glad to return to Junipers. It may be too undeveloped for some; there are no arcade games, the sites are not paved, and instead of manicured lawns the area has been carefully left in a very natural state -- which makes it "fit" the surroundings perfectly. It has wildlife, peace and quiet, and views in all directions that just won't quit. All these features make this spot special for us.

Postcard: A Walk through History: Shaniko

June 12, 1998

Shaniko, Oregon is located at the conjunction of today's highways 97 and 218, but just enter the town and you step back in time. Founded near the turn of the century, at one time, more than 100 men were employed here creating the town, its store and stagecoach inn. From 1900 to 1911, Shaniko was the largest wool shipping center in the U.S., and the site of the last of the range wars between cattlemen and sheepmen. Today the sign reads population 25. At that, Shaniko has grown a bit since our last visit.

As you near Shaniko from the north, you notice a somewhat decrepit building resembling a block house. Indeed, I imagined settlers with rifles out ready to defend their town from the marauding Indians. This building was once a water tower, which, in the early 1900's, contained two wooden tubs, mounted in the upper tower, providing a gravity flow water system for the town.

Down the main street lies the historic Shaniko Hotel, our breakfast destination. We passed a wagon yard, full of wagons waiting restoration. One, complete with bars on the sides, was prominently marked "Jail". Down toward the hotel we proceeded, past a Cowboys and Cowgirls public restroom, with a bathtub in the front. Past a false fronted building, which still bears the outlines of its previous signs. Past an antique store, proclaiming it sells "stuff", and leaving a good deal of its "stuff" outside overnight.

As you enter the restaurant of the hotel, you are greeted by the chef. He stands about 6 feet high, measured from the pedestal he stands on to the top of his hat. He holds a board on which are the day's specials. He says nothing at all; he is made entirely of wood.

While waiting for breakfast, I examined the walls of the restaurant. They are liberally decorated with pictures of Shaniko past and Shaniko present. There are old newspaper clippings carefully framed. There is a Bowie knife, found in 1950 stuck in the trunk of a tree near town. My favorite was a collection of metal disks resembling large coins. Stamped Shaniko Aimee on one side and "for merchandise" on the other, these were used in the place of real coins. Their worth was 50¢, but how they were redeemed wasn't mentioned. Around the top of the walls, on a ledge, were all sorts of antiques; a child's stuffed sheep, washboards, graters, buckets, and rifles. All sorts of rifles, one with bayonette!

After breakfast, we explored the hotel lobby. A large wooden reception desk held the following announcement, "The Shaniko City Council Meeting of June 9 has been canceled until the City Recorder gets through playing around the country", (he was on vacation). Now, here is a laid back town.

The lobby is further decorated with a player piano, grandfather clock, and an old switchboard with plug in lines. The TV mounted on the wall and the computer monitor, while necessary, seem quite out of place.

I looked behind the desk and saw several dusty books titled respectively "ledger" and "cash". What fun it would have been to look inside.

There is a more modern side to Shaniko. There is a gas station, an ice cream parlor and a wedding chapel. But walk the streets and see the 1930's vintage cars in various yards, and the old buildings. Take a walk back through history.

Postcard: Over the Hill -- the North Cascades Visitor Center

June 3, 1998

The Cascade Mountains divide the state of Washington into 2 unequal sections -- one third for the western part, 2/3 for the east. Anchored by Mount Baker in the north, followed by Rainier, Adams, St. Helens and a host of smaller peaks, they cut down the entire state. There is no way to cross the state east to west or west to east without traversing the Cascades. This is called going "over the hill". No matter that the "hill" may be as high as 5500 feet, or as low as several hundred through the Columbia River Gorge. No matter where you cross, you go "over the Hill".

Today promised cool, foggy and misty weather for the San Juans and western Washington. Therefore, we headed over the hill to the warmer and drier part of the state. We traveled on the northernmost highway east, and one of our favorites, Highway 20.

Highway 20's other name is the North Cascades Highway. It is a most spectacular drive. Leaving Interstate 5, you travel through small towns which become progressively more rural. Farms take over from suburban houses, cattle and buffalo supplant the yuppie llama. This is the land of berries -- Marion and blueberry bushes are everywhere. There is even a small shop which sells fresh berries, berry jam and fresh berry sundaes and shakes.

Some 60 miles up highway 20, is Newhalem, the company town of Seattle Power and Light and the gateway to the North Cascades National Park. The Skagit River, a major source of power for the city of Seattle, is dammed just above the town. Periodic tours of the dams are available.

We had never explored any of the various campgrounds here. Before, we had been "heading home" when we came through Newhalem, and we were concerned that the campgrounds might be too small to accommodate our 5th wheel. Today we were in no hurry, heading away from home, and we had taken our camper on this trip. Off to explore!

The Newhalem Creek Campground is the closest one to the "town" of Newhalem. There are four loops, and several spaces big enough for a good sized motor home. In fact, there was a 40 footer in one. But we did find that some of the cornering necessary to exit the campground would be challenging for our 29 foot fiver.

The North Cascades Visitor Center is worth the trip into the campground. One large room has walkthrough "niches", areas set apart by partial walls. Each niche represents a region of the park determined by altitude. The Lowest is the Western Helmlock forest. Enter here, and a TV screen lights up. No talking, just the noises you could expect to hear at an altitude up to 2000 feet. Birds sing, the stream rushes by. Placid lakes appear complete with loons and their magical sounds. You see the fish in migration up the rivers. Around the niche are examples of the nature you find at this altitude. Open a small door, and see what the inside of a tree looks like. View the eggs and nest of one of the birds found here. There is a cutout of a bear holding a salmon in his mouth, mounted on the wall -- and you can see his wet footprints on the floor below him!

Other niches represent other altitudes. In each, there is a TV screen which switches on when you enter. For altitudes from 2000 to 4000 feet, the trees are Silver Fir. Then come the Mountain Helmlock, the Subalpine, and, over 9000 feet, the Alpine areas. Entering the Alpine niche, you are standing on the top of the world. Clouds scud by, narrowly missing the mountain tops. The noise of the wind is almost deafening. There are no trees; the niche contains mountain climbing equipment. There is one bird at this altitude -- a gray finch lives here and feeds on ice worms.

Leaving the Visitor Center building, a short walk takes you to an overlook of the Newhalem valley. Now you can experience what you just saw. You are standing in the Western Helmlock forest, looking up at jagged Alpine mountain peaks. Spectacular. We're going back.

But now we are off -- over the hill. Maybe a little golf, definitely some "sit in the sun" time. We plan to camp on the Columbia River tonight, probably at Beebe Bridge, a Chelan county campground which is one of our special favorites. All too soon, we will be back on our misty isle, packing up for a return trip to California.

Postcard: Heading Home

May 28, 1998

We had a longer than anticipated stay in the Napa Valley. Tom's mother, age 93+, passed away a week ago. A gracious woman who lived a long and wonderful life. We will greatly miss her -- much more than we could possibly express here. Our summer travel plans are now a bit upside down. We've canceled our trip to Alaska, and we're now anticipating a great deal of travel between our island and the Napa Valley, as we deal with the residue of 45 years of living in the same home.

Soooo... to make the best of this unanticipated circumstance, we've decided to see how many different ways there are to travel through Washington, Oregon and Northern California. The I-5 corridor is one obvious route, but it can get a bit boring. The coast route is scenic, but is fairly crowded in the summer months. U.S. 97 is another choice. Returning home, we decided to explore this route.

We left the Napa Valley on the 27th and drove to Redding. Instead of continuing up I-5, we headed east on U.S 299. we were originally bound for Hat Creek, where Trailer Life lists two very attractive sounding campgrounds. However, the weather was most uncooperative. Rain, often mixed with snow and gusty winds directed us to continue on. The Hat Creek area has been entered on the "for our next trip, we will try" list.

On we went. Just east of the town of Bieber, we took the cut-off for Klamath Falls, turned on a road marked only as a thin gray line, and found the Eagle's Nest RV Park in Tionesta. Here we were camped in the high desert, with golden mantled ground squirrels, swallows and wrens for daytime companions. Nightime music is provided by an occasional owl and coyote.

The proprietress, Emma Wyatt, is a real character. she divides her time between taking care of her mother, fishing, hunting, (her neighbor had just finished cleaning her gun), and sharing her experiences with the delighted campers in the park. She is interested in everything -- including the Internet just as soon as she can find the time. Eagle's Nest is modem friendly -- much to Tom's delight.

This area is a jumping off point for exploring the Lava Beds National Monument. Here are cinder cones, the long extinguished remnants of volcanoes. There are lava tube caves for exploration, and hikes can be taken around Captain Jack's stronghold. The last leader of the Modoc nation, he and his people held off the US Army for five months, before surrendering and being sent to a reservation in Oklahoma.

The Monument is adjacent to the Tulelake National Wildlife refuge, where the experienced birder can see 24 species of raptor -- eagles, hawks and owls.

But not by us. Not on this trip. We will save our sightseeing of this area for a later time. Today, we are heading home. We will collect the mail, do the myriad other tasks which await homecomings, and prepare for another trip south. I wonder which route we will take, and which new campgrounds we will find this time.

Postcard: Soloing South

May 17, 1998

This trip to California's wine country was going to be quite different from many we have taken before. I was driving alone. Tom would fly to a business meeting in Santa Barbara, then to San Francisco, and meet me in Napa. I was to be there by 8 pm on a Friday. I left Seattle at 11 am on Thursday.

When our children were small, I got quite used to solo trips. I did the driving, arbitrated or passed arbitrary judgment on all arguments, and stopped at places children would like. The tree you can drive through, the Sea Lion Caves, and anything with fake dinosaurs in front, were all duly examined. Whether a trip to Salt Lake City for a swim meet, or to Seattle to visit grandparents, I drove, Tom usually had a business flight in from somewhere else, and we all met at our destination.

Now when we travel, we travel together. We usually change drivers every hundred miles or so, and there is often, (when my traveling companion isn't totally engrossed in email), someone to talk to.

But this trip I was on my own. I took our 10 foot camper, leaving the fifth wheel behind for this adventure. As a companion, I had the dog. (Her conversational skills are somewhat lacking.) But, what the heck -- women travel single all the time.

A hearty handshake and a tip of the hat to those who travel solo! It is at once more difficult and more rewarding. I was extremely proud of myself as I did the first three hundred miles through a patented Seattle drizzle, which developed into a gusty rainstorm by the time I got to Olympia and did not let up until I was 30 miles from my first day's destination -- Cottage Grove, Oregon. I was proud that I did not let the dirty spray from passing trucks bother me any more than to turn on the fast wiper setting. I was proud of backing into my site at the Village Green. (I treated myself to dinner as a prize.) I got out the manuals on how to work the TV and did manage to see the last episode of Seinfeld.

The Village Green RV park is nicely landscaped and is a good overnight stop. Most of the sites are camper-sized, but there are some pull throughs for larger rigs. It backs directly onto the parking lot at a Wal-Mart. It was a toss-up as to who had more rigs.

The next day was beautiful, no wind, no rain and "shorts weather" by noon. The beautiful weather made an early start to a five hundred mile day much easier. To alleviate boredom, I sang song after song with the tapes of Simon & Garfunkle, the Weavers and Jimmy Buffet. Fueling up in the Sacramento Valley, I did miss having Tom to answer the questions concerning vehicle weight-when-loaded, and fuel consumption that other drivers will ask.

Arriving in Napa around 6 pm, I cleaned up the camper, walked the dog, and tried to make it look as if I were an old hand at this solo stuff.

The airporter bus arrived on time and Tom was appropriately impressed. Now we will spend a few days in the wine country and wander north again. But I won't soon forget my southward journey and introduction to solo travel.