Friday, October 29, 2010

Live Oak, California

We found this little county recreation area last year when we stopped to visit family. County parks are sometimes difficult to find, but usually turn out to be a good deal so worth the effort to find. We are the only residents, other than the host, so there's plenty of elbow room. There is a bit of construction going on as they are rebuilding the boat ramp, but the crew really isn't that noisy, and go home every day before 5 so no complaints there. 

We've been battling the cold since arriving here on Wednesday, so haven't been able to do any exploration. Too bad, as we are right on the edge of California Gold Rush Country. Rough and Ready and several other historic sites are just east of us - to be explored next time I guess. We'll be lucky if we're back in working order by tomorrow, when we are supposed to watch the U of O vs. USC football game.  . . . oh, and just for entertainment, Steve just discovered plumbing problems in the bathroom. Seems there's always something breaking - one of the joys of home ownership - even a home on wheels!

Red Bluff Recreation Area, California

That "laid low" due to a cold comment from the last post should be changed to "laid flat". We did manage to make it to Yuba City, where we intended to visit my brother, but we've been holed up ever since fighting the germs. I'll post later about this area, but need to comment further on our last stop, as it really had a lot to offer.

Sycamore Grove
Though we were a bit low in energy we did manage to look around a little before we left Red Bluff. It really is a target rich environment for exploration. The Sycamore Grove campground itself is packaged with hiking and nature trails, the Sacramento River Discovery Center, a large group camp area with sleeping cabins, and a boat launch and picnic area.

The Discovery Center is geared primary for school children, but has a wealth of information for all ages on the salmon and other wildlife in the area.  There's a nice garden area in back with wildflower and plant information too. Many of the trails have informative signs, and you can pick up a self-guided nature walk guide in the visitors center that highlights 30 points along that particular tail. Who would guess you could find all that just a couple of miles off of I-5.

During our stay we were able to see (and hear) some of our "stimulus dollars" at work in the form of a diversion dam removal project. This will supposedly support increased salmon production when completed. Fortunately the equipment stopped rumbling every day about 4:30 so it wasn't particularly disturbing.

current diversion dam
Red Bluff is an old ranching town, originally platted by Pete Lassen, who obtained the land as a grant from Mexico.  The older downtown section still has remnants of several older brick buildings with nice architectural details, and businesses have done a nice job of maintaining a western town feeling. Other than the downtown area there are few historic buildings in the area.

One exception is the William B. Ide Adobe, in a nice park setting right along the river.... and yes, the Sacramento river does have water in it. People always seem surprised at that!

The park is really nice for picnics - lots of tables and BBQs and well shaded by large trees. The visitor's center is closed Monday and Tuesday, so we couldn't see their offerings, but the restored adobe and outbuildings are available any time. The park was originally established, and the the building protected, because it was believed to have at one time been the home of William B. Ide, president (for 25 days) of the "California Republic", formed after the Bear Flag Revolt of 1846. It turns out, he never lived in or owned this property at all, but live nearby. At any rate, the adobe is nicely restored and during the summer season supports living history presentations, so provides a nice opportunity to experience early pioneer life in California.

See the Red Bluff album for more photos of the park and Red Bluff.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Red Bluff, California

Sunday - We had a trouble free and picturesque drive down from Oregon. We hit the season just right as far as foliage color goes, and the steep, craggy hills were covered with golden oak, the leaves brighter than usual and the bark almost black thanks to the gentle rain. The contrast was striking, and when you add in the wispy bits of cloud hovering over some of the canyons it was a classic autumn scene. 'Made me want to start a painting or a quilt or something - but I already have too many projects going! As we drove past Weed and Mt. Shasta we could just barely see the hills on  through the rain and clouds, the snowy mountain tops leave no doubt, winter is just around the corner.

When you cover the miles we have (over 8,000 since June 6) you see and hear so many humorous things, I thought I'd share a couple we noticed today.
Signs seen along the road in Redding:
. . . 'nuf said.

Greeted at the entrance by two chubby gray squirrels, we arrived at our campsite in the Red Bluff Recreation Area around 2 o'clock, in a mere drizzle. After all the trips we've made up and down I-5, we never knew this place existed until Steve did some extensive research on the area. So far we're quite pleased. Nice size spaces, some with utilities and some without. There are showers too if people are interested.  There are indications there's a lot more to the park, but that will have to wait. We were completely set up before darkness set in, and as usual this time of year, have the campground pretty much to ourselves.  We spent the afternoon relaxing, time to explore tomorrow.

Monday - The information center isn't open until tomorrow, so we just took a leisurely morning walk to look things over. Does it sound corny to talk about "stately oak trees"? Well, sorry, but these are. This area has the perfect climate for Valley Oak, and they grow big, strong and healthy. None of that moss and scraggly look we were used to in Oregon. The whole park is full of different trees than we are used to - sycamores, gum, and different types of oaks. They are just beginning to lose their leaves, so it makes for a very lush campground view.

Laid a bit low by a cold, we both felt rather low in energy, so other than a brief grocery shopping excursion, we only attempted one other field trip  . . .  and it was worth the effort! With little time or energy to go rock collecting in this area, we had looked up a local rock shop. Gaumers, a family owned rock shop and museum, is definitely worth a stop. You don't have to be a rock hound to appreciate the beautiful sample they have displayed, and their museum area that includes mining, assaying, and other early pioneer equipment. There are photos galore from their various collecting expeditions - there's probably one from your area! If there are children in the family, they have low-priced pocket rocks, if you are a collector there are samples and display stands, if you are in the market for custom jewelry they have that too. We wandered around for almost an hour, coming away with a few display stands and some bulk stone for carving. (Daph's newest hobby.) The photos on their website give a very honest view of what's in store. 'Definitely worth a stop!

Hopefully we'll be up to more exciting activities tomorrow.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Valley of the Rogue State Park, Oregon

The Rogue River
From Valley of the Rogue
We've spent the last two nights here at Valley of the Rogue. When we lived in Oregon this was often our first stop when we were leaving on a long trip, not too far from home, but enough to get us a few hours head start on the second day. It's a beautiful park, and certainly worth making your destination and staying several days, as there's lots to do in the area. The park web page describes most of it, so I won't go into too much detail here, suffice it to say you could easily spend two weeks exploring within a day's driving distance in several directions. We did discover today that there's a laundromat in F loop, where we stayed, and that's not listed among their services - a good thing to know if you're on the road for several days.

The park is beautiful, especially this time of year with leaves turning colors. There are more varieties of trees here than in any state park we've ever stayed in. Some are young, recently planted, and others are quite elderly, but carefully pruned. They clearly take great pains with their maintenance here.

The trail along the river is wide and covered with wood mulch, and the campgrounds are open and free of weeds. There's a nice mix here of utility and non-utility sites as well as yurts. Some of the loops close at the end of October, but the others are open all year, and at reduced off-season rates in the winter. The camping loops are laid out in a string paralleling I-5, but the traffic noise isn't too noticeable as the freeway is some distance away, and on the back side of the loops you can barely notice the traffic at all. There's a meadow between the campground and the river, a good place for kids and dogs to play - fly a kite or whatever. The spaces are generous so even when the attendance is high you have some elbow room.

Can't we stay just one more day???
It rained most of both days, so we stayed in except for the occasional walks to limber up the muscles.

Molly likes days like that, and she gets pretty comfortable in her new "home", then looks crestfallen when we pack up and tell her to get in the truck. She likes camping, but doesn't care much for the getting-there process.

Steve watched football and I worked on sewing projects, did a little reorganizing and a little research on places to visit when we get to our next stop.

We'll be staying in Red Bluff, California, for a couple of days. It's an area rich in history, so we'll see what we can find.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Armitage Park, Eugene, Oregon

We're back at Armitage Park, where we've stayed several times before. We wrote about Armitage Park back on September 20, when we were here for another game. We actually have sunshine this time! And we're enjoying it. This campground turns in to a real Duckville the day before a U of O game - at least 3/4's of the residents (and the park is just about full) are flying the green and yellow flags and pom-poms.

It seems every time we come to town there's a reunion type gathering of some sort. This time I got together with a few friends from the project I used to work with at the U of O. The visit was too short of course, it always is when there's lots to catch up on, but enjoyable none the less.

We had friends from the Portland area staying here too, so we started the tailgating early, and since it was a Thursday game our regular tailgating arrangements wouldn't work, so we partied at the campground until time to meet the bus to take us into the stadium area. We had time for a quick trip around the beer and food kiosks set up inside the Moshofsky Center and then it was time for the game - and a great game it was! Ducks 60 to UCLA 13...we rather liked that score!! The poor Duck had to do all those push-ups again, but I don't think he minded.

This is the last game we'll be attending for the season, though we'll be watching several on TV. I'm sure they'll continue to do just fine without us.

We'll head out Friday morning for southern Oregon, on our way to visiting family in California - and a whole new area to explore. Just in time too! The rain seems to have moved back in to the area, and we're ready for warmer climes.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Valley River Center, Eugene, Oregon

Now this is the life!!.... parked in the back lot of Valley River Center.... I'm not kidding! It sounds a little strange I'm sure, to say that parking one's RV in a shopping mall parking lot is a good deal, but look at the facts:
1. We have more "privacy" (space to ourselves) here than in many private RV parks;
2. We are right on the Willamette River, with plenty of walking paths leading to the Owen Memorial Rose Garden and other beautiful locations, and a range of natural wildlife areas only a few feet away;
3. Security is constantly checking the area so it's safe;
4. Best of all.... it's free!

OK, so we are "boon-docking" - I can live without water and electricity for a day or two. We charged up and filled up before we arrived here so we don't miss the services. As it turns out, "2" is the magic number. Management of the Valley River shopping center allows RVer's to stay 2 nights out of 30 in their back lot, along the river, for no charge. Security will check you in and provide you with the very reasonable guidelines.

This is a great place to stop if you need to catch up on a few city chores - banking and shopping and the like. The mall has several of the major department stores and nice restaurants, and you are within easy driving distance of the Hult Center and museums if you want to take advantage of those cultural opportunities. We had decided our "to do" list was long enough that we needed to get back to civilization sooner than we had originally planned, and our reservation at Armitage, the county park we have stayed at before, doesn't start until Tuesday, so this is a stop-gap. You can't beat the scenery or the price! The walk/bike trail system is extensive here in Eugene, and runs along both sides of the Willamette, so there are plenty of opportunities for birdwatching or just plain stretching the muscles.

Interesting trivia: Valley River Center is actually a pretty cool location. It was used as the primary location for shooting the film How to Beat the High Co$t of Living in 1980. Eugene and environs have been used as locations for a lot of other films too, including the now world-famous Animal House, some of which was filmed in Cottage Grove, where we used to live, and on the University of Oregon campus.  

Check out the album for a leisurely walk along the river.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Oasis Recreation Site, Deschutes River, Oregon

We left the Deschutes River State Recreation Area around ten o'clock this morning. No rush as we weren't gong far. We traveled west for a few miles along the gorge, then south on 197 through Butler Canyon to 216 east. For the next few miles the route follows the old Barlow Road. It's winding, narrow, steep in places, and there are several historic ranches along the way. If the road hadn't been so narrow I would have been out snapping photos of some of the older buildings but as it is there's no place to pull over. The Barlow Road was an original pioneer route, and you have to admire those who managed to get their teams and wagons over this terrain.

Warm Springs tribe fishermen using traditional fishing platforms
We crossed the Deschutes at Sherars Bridge, turning south on the Deschutes River access road. We were lucky in our timing to see a few Warm Springs tribal members fishing from their traditional platforms.

The road is even narrower at this point, and with our big rig we have to be careful when sharing the road. The Warm Springs reservation is actually south from here, but because of their fishing rights they have some sections along the river granted as part of their lands. There are signs indicate the boundaries, and also where non-tribal members can park (for a fee) as the tribal members do not have to pay to park on their own lands.

We wound our way around the curves, checking out all the small "recreation sites" along the river. That's the BLM term for these small, relative undeveloped camping areas. We finally decided on Oasis, which is just north of the town of Maupin. We only traveled 40 miles - so we're set up and having lunch beside the river before one o'clock! Our site is only a stone's throw from the river, and nicely graveled so there's no worry about mud. Molly and I hiked across the road and up the hill to get a nice shot of our campsite.

The poison oak is lovely this time of year
We are again surrounded by basalt cliffs, which make a striking background for the red sumac and other fall vegetation. The basalt flows are so common and consistent over a huge portion of the Columbia plateau that geologists call it "Yakima basalt", and for years couldn't figure out where it came from as it didn't seem to flow from any particular fissure or volcano. They have finally determined the Grande Ronde dike swarm as the source.*  As picturesque as these basalt formations are, the lack of variety makes for few good rock collecting opportunities - a fact that Steve has not been unhappy about. I would probably collect too much poundage given other opportunities.

This river is famous for it's Steelhead and Deschutes Red-side trout.  Neighboring campers told us of a 'little old lady' who caught a 20 pounder years ago. 'Can't hardly imagine a trout that big! We enjoyed listing to the whoops and hollers of a few rafting groups as they sailed by - the waters move quickly here! We also admired a number of fishermen casting their fly lines far out into the water (you should see us attempt that!)  and watched as others drifted downstream on their float tubes. It's a busy section of river, but that just adds to the fun.

We did have a few trains passing by but they are shorter than those down on the Columbia, and don't seem to feel the need to blow the horn for miles.

* Roadside Geology of Oregon is a good source for travelers.
For additional photos of the Deschutes River and the Warm Springs fishing area take a look at the album.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Deschutes River State Recreation Area, Oregon

We're here on the Deschutes under tall trees, watching the river drift by and flow into the Columbia. This is a premier fishing spot, so we're told by fellow campers. There are a lot of trails leading out of camp too, so there's easy access to other parts of the river for both fishing and hiking.

If you are a fisherman this is heaven. If you have romantic notions about the sound of a freight train whistle you'll like it too. You have the opportunity to enjoy the sound pretty much once and hour during the day, and about five times during the night. It's a benefit that the train is so close, and the horn so loud, as it serves to drown out the freeway noise, which is even less romantic than the train.

As we are neither fishermen nor train fans, we decided one night is enough and will move on today. I will add however, that I'm happy to know so many freight trains are moving. Early in this recession we saw long lines of freight cars of all types sitting in storage in train yards all across several states. It was a sad thing to see, sort of like seeing a bustling city suddenly turn into a ghost town. Some lines may still be slower, but at least there's plenty of business on this route.

The Columbia Gorge is known for wind, it's a wind surfer's paradise. It had been unbelievably calm all afternoon, but that changed in the evening. If we hadn't known better we would have thought a real storm was blowing in - it was just the typical Gorge breeze rustling through the tall trees.

Travel tip: When you are in a fishing camp don't leave to early in the morning, and make friends with your neighbors. Especially those who are from out of state and don't have much freezer space. Our neighbor, from Alaska, just gave us three big, beautiful chunks of Chinook salmon. It was 35 inches, 'don't know how many pounds but it was a beauty! Guess what we'll be having for dinner tonight!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Toppenish, Washington

Wednesday we turn the horses south to visit Toppenish - "Where the West still lives." Entirely within the boundaries of the Yakama Indian Nation, this is one of the tidiest towns we have ever visited. And they have great signage! You can find everything you need, and drivers are especially courteous if you happen to be (ala yours truly) bumbling around trying to take photos of their fabulous murals.

Visitors' Center
The folks in the visitors center told us the town was struggling financially when they hit upon the mural concept as a way of bringing business to town. It has, many years and over 70 murals later, turned the town into a bustling art center. The painting of a mural, in one day by a team of a dozen or more artists, is an annual event. Financed by an art show and auction, the one day mural painting event and auction is a showcase for dozens of western artists. We thoroughly enjoyed touring the visitors center display of paintings from which the murals were made, as well as a collection of work by other western artists.

If you'd like to see the whole collection the Toppenish Chamber of Commerce web site has a gallery of all the murals. The photos are each annotated with information about the history represented and the artists who completed the work. I've only included a few of our photos in the album (see below) as their website does such a nice job. Individual artists submit these small paintings to a committee, and a choice is made based on several criteria, especially how well the design reflects the city's history. One is selected for the year's project, and that artist becomes lead on the projects. Multiple other artists then join in to complete the large mural on a building. It's an amazing project, and really brings not only the town, but the entire western art community, together. Because the artists participating are professionals, the quality of the murals surpasses that of most we've seen in other towns.

After touring the downtown mural displays we went over to the Yakama Nation Cultural Heritage Center. The restaurant was closing soon, so lunch came before the museum. Both were highly enjoyable. I had a traditional salmon and dumpling dish, called Luk-a-meen. With fry bread on the side and fresh fruit too, it was a very satisfying meal. The lunch service includes a full dinner style salad bar, and the prices are very reasonable so we'd definitely recommend a stop there. The restaurant serves all three meals but closes briefly between each. There's also an RV park as part of the complex which could be a convenient stop if just passing through. 

The museum is nicely done - beautiful examples of bead work and basketry as well as other handcrafts, legends and history of the Yakima Nation, which encompasses many smaller tribes, and the impact historic events has had on their culture, as well as brief mention of other Native Americans who have been important in national history.

This beautiful little town has to be seen to be believed. There are artworks at every turn, tucked in to small corners and around park areas. It's truly a treat to visit Toppenish! Here are just a few more photos.

Yakima Sportsman State Park, Part II

Children's fishing pond
We've visited a number of Washington State Parks on this trip, and Yakima Sportsman ranks high right along with Dosewallips. We haven't seen anything as dramatic as that elk herd yet, but the park has plenty of other offerings.

This 246 acre park has something for everyone: 19,000 feel of river frontage for fishing, a small fishing lake in the park for children 14 and under, birdwatching, hiking trails (well marked and maps at every intersection!) and more.

There are also number of informational kiosks describing the natural and geologic history, each with a mural on the back side - a nice touch!

There are over 60 campsites here, and this time of year the park is only about 1/3 occupied, so we have a lovely view of the old trees and beautifully maintained grassy spaces.

Especially nice with the autumn tones, the park has a variety of deciduous trees, as opposed to the other parks we have stayed in that were primarily evergreen. Here there are blazing yellows and reds, and the beautiful blue-green of huge weeping willows planted around the fishing and lily ponds.

As usual with northwest parks this time of year some of the services are being reduced - no evening programs, gift shop closed, and the water in many areas is being shut down and "winterized". It's gotten down to 34 every night so far, so it's a necessity if they want to avoid frozen pipes. We don't really missed any of the "reduced" services as we've been busy exploring the neighboring towns.

We haven't had time on this strip to explore Yakima itself, and there's plenty here to see and do so we will no doubt visit this area again. The history of the town of Yakima is fascinating, and the local paper puts out a special edition every year to highlight historic events.

For more photos of the park check out the album.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ellensburg, Washington

From our campsite in Yakima, the drive north to Ellensburg provides an opportunity to overlook the fertile Kittitas Valley. Layer upon layer of volcanic lava flows eons ago, now eroded into fertile soil, support the grasses - turning amber in autumn, and everywhere there's irrigation, rich orchards are growing.

Guided by the  Yakima Valley "Official Visitor's Guide" we stopped first at the very helpful Chamber of Commerce office. We picked up several informative brochures including a walking tour guide and browsed the Ellensburg Rodeo gift shop, which shares the same space. Too late for the rodeo this year, that was the closest we'll get. This is a very "western" town, and the impact of the ranching and mining industries show in the buildings and names of businesses.

One of the main reasons we wanted to visit Ellensburg is the John Clymer museum. We own several of his prints, and were anxious to see what they had of this native son's work. The museum was nice, and informative, but we were a little disappointed as to the amount of Clymer's work it holds. There was a visiting display "State of the Art; Western Design Today" which included leather goods, clothing and furniture. Some very nice work was included, so it was definitely worth the visit.

Ellensburg has taken good care of their lovely old architecture, though narrow streets make it difficult to capture in photos. The town burned down in 1889, but within 10 days the stalwart citizens began work on rebuilding - using primarily fireproof brick. The result is a beautiful downtown with a lovely turn of the century feel.

By the time we were finished with the museum it was time for lunch. Close at hand, and turning out to be an excellent choice, was The Palace Cafe and Saloon.  Well prepared food with good service and a delightful atmosphere - can't beat that combination. Lunch included a nice local lager, Roslyn Brookside, brewed by the Roslyn Brewing Company in nearby Roslyn. The building itself is old, built in 1908, and The Palace (in business since 1892) has been in the location for quite some time.  The antique pressed tin ceiling and dark wood set the tone, supported by antique train and auto memorabilia, artwork, and old time photos. A humorous drawing depicting the aspects of a hunting camp hangs in the hallway on the way to the lounge, in the back of the building. Check out the album link for a photo of that art work.

We drove back to camp via the canyon route. Here it's more obvious that this is a high desert climate. The river is beautiful, and we discovered a fairly new BLM camp, Big Pine, along the way. It's so new it's not on the maps yet or we would probably be staying there!

For other photos see the album.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Yakima Sportsman State Park, Part I

We had a beautiful drive down Hwy 90 this morning. The variety of scenery was wonderful!  As we left Lake Sammamish, heading south, we passed several sparkling lakes, multiple little waterfalls trickling down steep rocky hillsides, vine maple and poplar stands adding the appropriate autumn blush of color here and there.

After a few miles the road opens up in the Kittitas valley. A broad, flat, fertile valley with rivers and streams crisscrossing and forming the boundaries of  pastures and hay fields. The valley supports several large cattle ranches and farms. Washington is known for it's production of apples and other tree fruits, and this one of the prime production areas. At the southern end of the valley the lush green fields change to rolling golden hills. Suddenly we are in semi-desert, judging by the plant life. Turning south on Hwy 82 and driving for several miles through the dry plains that are part of the Yakima military Reservation we finally arrive in Yakima, our destination. We again see the tidy rows of commercial orchards and a really nice view of snow capped Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainer.

The Yakima valley is truly the fruit basket of the northwest and looking at the tourism brochure we picked up on the way in to the campground they've added wineries to their fruit growing industry. There are too many places of interest to visit here, so we'll have to pick and choose. So far we're very impressed with the campground, and we'll post photos and a detailed report in a day or so - stay tuned!

Wax your 'Qube!

While Steve stayed in camp and attempted to track all (aprox.35) college football games on Saturday (he actually watched parts of 6) I went to visit my sister and help her build a fire ring in her backyard. We were both fairly successful (Ducks won  43- 23 over Washington State) and we got the fire ring finished. Best of all, the worst of the rain held off until late afternoon. A good thing too! as it turns out the VuQube, our satellite receiver, doesn't cotton much to rain. Steve had noticed a bit of a problem early in the day and started researching the reception problems he was having - suggestions such as coating the covering with WD-40 and waxing came up, so he tried them. The WD-40 worked until the rain got heavier and then it was a lost cause. Amazing to me, the auto wax route worked - I didn't think the wax would adhere to a wet surface but after two trips up to the roof to wax the " 'qube" the reception was markedly improved. Just another of those little details we learn along the way!

It rained pretty heavily during the night. Sitting on the sofa having morning coffee I heard what sounded like a waterfall outside, so lifted the shade to check out what was making the noise as I knew there was no waterfall there..... there were 20 mallards having the time of their lives muddling in all the little mini lakes in the area. The must have had a dandy earthworm breakfast! It drizzled off and on all day, so we didn't get too adventuresome, just venturing out enough to take Molly for a few short walks. The sun sort of peaked out in the afternoon, but of course today, as we are leaving, the sky is bright blue and sunny!

We really enjoyed our time at Vasa Park, and it's a good thing we didn't plan this trip later as they close October 15. The only two negative points we'd list for the park, from our perspective, is the extremely limited area for dog exercise (it's across the very busy street) and that same busy streed coupled with a sharp curve makes getting in and out of the park with the rig a bit of a challenge. I stood on the median with the radio to assure an all clear before Steve pulled out which seemed to work pretty well. Today we head southeast, to Yakima, where we'll hang out for a few days and explore the surrounding area.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Vasa Park, Washington

What a quaint little park this is!

We're up in the Seattle area to visit family, and unbeknownst to us (when we originally planned the schedule) state and federal parks in the area close at the end of September. . . so, where to stay? There are a few private RV parks in the area, but they all looked fairly expensive and rather boring. The travel planning division (that would be Steve) searched around and found Vasa Park, on the southwest shore of Lake Sammamish.

I feel like we've gone back in time. This place has the feel of a nice family park from the 1950's, and for good reason. This park was established in 1926 by members of the Vasa Order, a Swedish fraternal organization with a focus on maintaining Scandinavian cultural traditions. There are several lodges in the Pacific Northwest, and the sign at the entrance credits the lodges that support the park.

This park has the comfortable feel of parks we frequented as children - large  rolling grassy areas, a swimming area, and multiple covered picnic table groupings. The RV area has only about 20 sites, some of which have full hookups and some only water and electric. Tents are welcome too. There's also a boat launch. When we arrived the entrance area was ablaze with large Halloween balloon decorations, obviously to appeal to their younger customers.

The parks isn't fancy, but it's very clean and comfortable, and we are right on the lake. If the weather was warmer we'd probably put out the canoe, but as it is we're in the middle of another drizzling rain.. . must be autumn in the northwest.

The RV spaces are all grass on our side, so there is a danger of mud if it rains too much, but we are in the last space so no matter the weather we have a full view of the lake, and we can push the slide-out over the edge of our space and have a wider area than we would in any of the other space. The full-service spaces across from us have gravel, but not such a nice view.

Though we didn't realize the emphasis on a cultural connection when we made the reservation, it's obvious once you are here. Clues are not only the Swedish flag flying at the entrance, but this little cabin in the middle of the park - restored to resemble cabins used in the woods in Sweden.
We've also noticed the Nordic lilt when talking with the folks who run the campground. Looking in to the history of the area in general it seems there were a lot of Swedish immigrants who settled here years ago. The impact of the culture still shows, and they've done well to hold on to this piece of property. It's tucked in along the shore of Lake Sammamish between homes worth in the neighborhood of a million each - I'm sure developers would have loved to get their hands on it, but we are glad they didn't!

More photos of the park and details of the cabin in the album. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Millersylvania State Park, again!

Autumn has arrived here in the northwest. The trees are taking on a more golden shade of green, the poison oak and vine maple are turning red, salal berries ripening, and only us retired and full-timers are out and about in the campgrounds.

Last night we stopped for the third time at Millersylvannia State Park. It's not that it's the most fascinating place we've ever stayed, though it is nice. The draw is that it's about a 4 hour drive from Eugene, about the max we like to do in one day. We wrote about this park the first time we stayed here (see September 9 entry). This time, due to the close of their registration season, most of the loops in the campground are closed. The one loop that's open has over 40 sites, some wooded, many open, so there's something for everyone. Most of these are the sites with utilities. There's also a host in residence, which there wasn't before, and they're back to using a self-registration system which to us is an improvement to the convoluted registration system they were using during the summer.
We actually had sun the day we arrived. Out of three visits it's the first time we've seen the park without rain! Molly and I took a walk in the portion of the campground that's closed to camping and it was beautiful. The air had that lovely balmy fall feel, and the ferns and other understory shrubs were all fresh from recent rains. The trees in that part of the park are so tall you can hardly see the tops, and the campground has been established for years so it has that comfortable "old cabin in the woods" atmosphere. Two of our neighbors in the campground were here during our last visit, in mid-September, so we caught up with where they'd been visiting since then, how their rig repairs are going and all the other typical RV concerns. (Seems those coaches are always in need of some kind of repair!) Tonight we'll be at Vasa Park, near Bellevue, WA.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Changing horses in the middle of a stream

What a project - not changing horses, but changing satellite systems - it feels like changing horses though.

Our previous provider (Dish Network) had suddenly decided to stop providing many of the channels we like, no change in the monthly charges of course, so we voted with our $$ and went elsewhere. After several convoluted telephone conversations with Direct TV our tech department (that would be Steve) made the decision to shift to that system. Unfortunately, they don't seem to get the drift that RV folk don't always have a shipping address - and they weren't about to help solve the problem. So, while I was doing the laundry he drove over to see an RV installation company and picked up the hardware there. Once in hand, it seemed like it would be the proverbial piece of cake to get up and going.

With cardboard boxes and packing parts everywhere in our little space the process began of getting the system set up - it didn't go quite as quickly as he planned (does anything?) We had project stacked on top of project as we shifted around the livingroom to work on the set up, fix supper, and accommodate my current sewing project. It was rather comical at one point, resembling a small bomb having been exploded in the rig!  After taking most of the day for set up and recovery we thought it was a good idea to spend an additional day here making sure everything works correctly and getting ourselves organized so we can leave at a reasonable time tomorrow. So far we're happy with the new system, but as soon as I get the remote away from him I anticipate there will be a learning curve figuring out the new system. Gotta keep up with that technology!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Yeah! Ducks win again!!

Wow, what a game. Our opponent this time was Stanford. We didn't look so good in the first half, but the final score, 52-31, was very much to our liking!
Stanford's nickname is The Cardinal, and they have no mascot, so The Tree, a member of their band, steps into the role now and then. I have to say, this was the oddest looking creature I have ever seen at a game. The Tree has always been a pine tree, but this time a shrub showed up and tried to keep up with the Duck's antics.
No such luck.
The Duck did his usual round of pushups, only now the cheerleaders lift him up on a platform, so they all get a good workout!

We really do love our Duck here at the U of O. Last year a group of students made a move about him, unauthorized, and got in a bit of hot water over it. The powers that be got together and realized the movie was actually a pretty cool thing, approved it, and work things out with Disney (who had always been pretty restrictive as to what the Duck could do). The day before this game the same group of students released a new movie, I Love My Ducks (Return of the Quack) featuring Joey Harrington. It's a great little production (4 minutes) and you just may find yourself up and dancing before it'sover! 

It's great fun watching the fans come and go in their various versions of fan-wear. There's a contest among students for the best outfit, so you see some pretty creative get-ups. This is "Shawn" who was outside the bookstore when we went shopping before the game.

We had a great tailgate party, as usual, only this one included a yummy banana birthday cake for me!

We all brought Mexican food and had quite a feast. Game Day was here to broadcast in the morning, so the parking area opened up early, making this an especially long day for everyone.

It took most of Sunday for Steve's voice to recover. It was several octaves lower after the game - not from cheering, he has Duck lips for that, but from yelling at the refs. It was a late game too, so we all slept in on Sunday. Our friends from Portland had booked a space in the same campground we are staying in so we had a leisurely breakfast before they left for home. Today we're catching up on chores and shopping so we'll be ready to leave in the morning.

One of our friends at the game gave us a huge bag of tomatoes and peppers from their garden. I strung the cayenne peppers and they are hanging by the stove, and the Anaheim peppers are in the windowsill waiting to be cooked. Tomatoes are stashed in flat bowls and baskets on every flat surface waiting for that fried green tomato dinner I've promised my sister when we get to her house. It looks like a farm kitchen in here!