Thursday, July 30, 2015

Rye Patch Reservoir

Tuesday, July 27

We stop at the campground on Rye Patch Reservoir quite often as it's a good distance from our annual 4th of July gathering in Fish Springs (Gardnerville).

Rye Patch Recreation Area is on the Humbolt River. . . yes, there are rivers in Nevada. You might not know this one is here. Driving down highway 80 the scenery is typical dry and dusty sagebrush desert, though this year the rabbit brush is looking nice and bright due to recent rains. The park is about 50 miles southwest of Winnemucca, which has a very nice county museum if you'd like to learn more about the area, and also a couple of good Basque restaurants, so check those out locally.

The drought that has hit the other western states is definately taking its toll on Rye Patch. The reservoir is down so low that boats can't launch from the usual ramps, but boats under 20 ft. can launch from select spots along the shore. 
The river, below the dam, is where our favorite camping area is situated. Our favorite site, right at a bend in the river, was available so we slid in and set up in record time as it is completely level (a rarity!)

We noticed a distinct change in the shoreline this year, not only with the water receding from the banks, but the dense brush that has grown up in the silt that is now damp but not covered with water as it was before. The shoreline is pretty, with the contrast between the silvery blue-gray of the Russian olive trees setting off the green of willow shrubs, sedge plants and the three foot tall giant Indian paintbrush flowers. It would be prettier with more water though!

All I could think of is, when the river fills back up and people come here to fish again there's going to be a lot of tackle lost among those weeds! The fish will love all those branches to hide in of course, but it makes a real challenge for fishermen.

We had a classic dinner of fried trout (thanks to our fishing friends at the Ochoco campout) and then very pleasant evening enjoying the gentle breeze and almost bug free evening. Shade in the campground is provided by sever large Russian olive and other native trees, so it's cool, and the birds have places to settle when they aren't feeding out on the river. I think due to the loss of deep water at their usual fishing holes we didn't see as many cranes and herons as usual, but the birdlife around the river is still worth watching.

Next stop, our friend's place in Gardnerville, where we'll do the final packing before we head North, To Alaska! There probably won't be many updates along the way, depending on connections, but we'll catch up after the cruise.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge

Saturday, July 25
We packed up and left the Junipers RV Resort behind, heading south, and timing our departure so we could have lunch at the Adel store. (Adel is south of Lakeview on 140, on your way to the Nevada border.)

The little store is really more of a cafe, with a few odd bits for sale around the corners, and gas is still available too. The town of Adel was the headquarters for the MC ranch when it was a major working operation (see previous post for more on the ranch.) The area's long ranching history is commemorated in the little store with branded boards, saddles and branding irons hanging from the ceiling, and the many local customers wandering in and out, garbed in the expected boots and hats.

We had a great burger (me) and eggs (Steve) and chatted a bit with a few folks. It's a friendly little place, though not geared for tourists especially. I don't think they get many. It's a homey little place where locals hang out and all seem to know each other's names. Drop in if you're out that way!

Happily stuffed after lunch we continued on to another of our favorite rustic stops.

Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge is in the far northwestern corner of Nevada, a place so isolated few even know it's here.

Driving west on hwy. 140, from the CA/NV border to the interior of NV, looking south, there are only one or two small signs indicating the road into the campground, and not a bit of the beautiful green marsh landscape can be seen from the highway. Tawny, rocky rolling hills appear all to be what lies beyond the blacktop. Not so!

Hunters know about Sheldon, as it's an antelope and bird refuge, so during hunting season it gets quite a bit of attention, opal hunters and other "rock hounds" know it's here, as there are pay-to-dig mines here and the area is famous for its fire opal.

We and a few other hardy souls know it's here because we enjoy the quiet beauty of the area. The Virgin Valley campground where we stay is rustic to be sure, but that's why it's not crowded!

Our favorite spot was occupied (there aren't really any designated sites, just picnic tables scattered about) so we huddled down among the shrubs. That's our rig on the far right in the photo.

We've dubbed this area "hunter's camp", as it boasts a lift hoist and game gambrel, which probably get a lot of use during hunting season.

We spent the afternoon settling in, looking at the changes since the last time we camped here, several years ago. It was a busier campground this time, but that's to be expected on a weekend.

Children and seniors can fish off a little dock on one of the ponds at the edge of the campground, so that's a draw for several of the families. Many visitors are undoubtedly drawn by the naturally heated pool and pink sandstone bathhouse. Others just like the relaxing pace. Shiner enjoyed the opportunity to explore out in the sagebrush with no traffic or other dogs to distract her.

The refuge is a stopover for many migrating birds, so the list of birds you might find here is extensive, depending on the time of year. Now, in early summer, most of the travelers have moved through, and the population seems to consist largely of night hawks, song birds, crows, summer tanagers and the like.

There's a resident jackrabbit who tours the campground on a regular basis too. Fortunately, Shiner was usually looking the other way when he loped by.

Sunday we went for a drive. First venturing down the short dirt road out of camp to view the very impressive Thousand Creek Gorge. This rugged volcanic outcrop towers over the low lying marshes, the red stone provides striking contrast to the green and gold vegetation below.

Though the old maps show the road going through it appears it hasn't for several years.

We backtracked and took the highway east, looking for Baltazar hot spring, which we found on the map. (Toppo map here if you are into such things.)

We enjoyed the scenic geology along the way, but really weren't prepared for the dramatic view when we crested Thousand Creek Summit. Wow! I'm sure we could see most of the state from our vantage point.

According to the maps we consulted, Baltazar Hot Spring is located at the north end of a Continental Lake, a dry lake that is leased for cattle grazing.

We found the road to take us into the area and decided it looked like a good place to stop for lunch. I've never seen a state highway sign hung on a good ol' Texas gate like this one, but this is Nevada, so it didn't really surprise me... and we did shut the gate!

The remains of two stone rooms, or small stone buildings connected by some newer concrete walls, and a stone dugout, gave us an opportunity to think about who might have lived there, and what the intent was of some of the features we noticed about the buildings.

The cows were a bit curious about us, but none ventured too close. They all seemed to be doing well on the grasses growing around the spring and the creek that feeds them.

We never made it to the hot spring itself, as it seemed to be quite a ways out from the road, and we didn't want to disturb the herd.

The area has several hot springs in addition to the one that provides the pool in the campground. Further exploration is possible for those who don't mind logging several miles on gravel roads.

Leaving our picnic site we ventured further on, to the east, to Denio Junction (the intersection of hwy. 140 and hwy. 292), then on north to Denio itself. Denio is right on the Nevada/Oregon border and believe me, there isn't much there. We couldn't locate any business that appeared to be functioning, but there is a post office.

Turning back to Denio Junction we thought we'd drop into the little store and pick up an ice cream or a cold drink, but the store wasn't open. There weren't any hours posted, so we chalked it up to the day being a Sunday, and just enjoyed the sculptures out in front. The cute little car appears to have once had an engine in it, and the gas tank on the motorcycle says "God's Ride". Very creative!
The store appears to still be in business, but no guarantees.

Back in camp we watched dark storm clouds build up, and as the wind began to pick up we contemplated the possibility of a storm. Not wanting to take chances Shiner and I headed out for our after dinner walk immediately after dinner.

Hoping for a good view we worked our way up to one of the ridges near the campground. No view was to be had, just another ridge, but I did get that great distance shot of the campground (middle photo), and some lovely cloud photos to inspire future art projects.

It never did rain, but the winds shook the trailer for a few hours after dark, finally settling down in the wee hours of the morning.

We packed up quickly in the morning and were on the road by 9 A.M. Next stop, another of our favorite desert stops, Rye Patch Reservoir.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Junipers Reservoir RV Resort, Lakeview, OR

Saturday, July 25

Our first stop yesterday, when we arrived in Lakeview, was Les Schwab, for a new set of four trailer tires. If you wonder why, see the previous post.

While waiting for the tires to be installed Shiner and I took a walk, across the street, to the immaculate little white house with a perfect lawn and park benches. 'Turns out it's the MC Ranch Western Heritage Center. See the photo section of their Facebook page for a lot of the photos from the displays. It's a delightful little park and a wonderful collection depicting the history of the famous MC Ranch, so it's worth checking out.  If you'd like a bit of music to go along with the history, here's Ian Tyson's song about selling the MC horses.

Once the tires were installed we headed for the barn, so to speak.

We don't generally stay places with "resort" in the title, but The Junipers Reservoir RV Resort is a delightful exception.

The Junipers is about 10 miles west of Lakeview, then about 2 miles back into a working ranch on a well maintained gravel road.

The sites are large, and arranged in a single row around a large grassy area. All the sites are pull-through, and the park is surrounded by the ranch's native sage and juniper vegetation.

There's  a covered group area for large events, or just for relaxing if it's not reserved for an event, and fishing in their small lake - no license required!

The facilities include a really nice laundry room, which includes amenities like a television, Adirondack chairs, a book selection and a display case with artifacts from the area, the first time I've ever seen that in a campground laundry facility!

You can purchase bait worms and ice near the laundry room.

It's a beautiful, peaceful and very quiet setting, and though they are set up for the trailer and motorhome crowd, they also have tent spaces.

The campers are all so friendly it's hard to make your way around the loop without stopping to visit with several of them, so it your puppy wants a fast walk, you'll have to head out into the sagebrush! When you do, be sure to watch for the birds, there are several varieties, and other wildlife too.

Amenities include free wi-fi, and as opposed to many parks, this system actually works!

This is truly a gem of a park, and we'll be stopping here again. 

Practice makes perfect???

Friday, July 24

70 miles north of Lakeview, Oregon,
on the Outback Scenic Byway. . . .

The tire, which is directly below the kitchen sink, exploded with such force that it threw the dishpan up out of the sink and on to the floor!

I don't know if the routine is "perfect" now, but it took half the time of the last tire change!

Friday, July 24, 2015

La Pine State Park

We're in LaPine State Park, space 128-North Loop, right across from the amphitheater, and it's great! More private than most of the sites, and as there were no programs while we were here we had no neighbors across the road in the  parking area. We also had immediate access to the trails out into the scrub and down to the river, so we didn't have to disturb other campers when we went for walks. We were spoiled at North Davis by having the creek right by our campsite, and the river is farther away here, but worth the short walk to get out to the trail to view it.

Within view of our site is this amazing downed tree. It's been here for years, and is beginning to disintegrate as the bugs and other critters work on it. It was apparently a lightening strike by the look of the part of the trunk still standing. There are a few others this size in the surrounding area, quite old judging by the size.

We took several very nice walks along the river on the nature walk trail. There are still a few wildflowers blooming, mostly the tall graceful pine drops, and the current bushes are loaded with fruit which I'm sure the deer are enjoying. There are no riffles or falls here, so all you hear is the gentle swish of the water as it flows over the downed logs and around rocks and clumps of weeds. Poor Shiner was nearly driven to distraction by all the golden mantle squirrels dashing across the trail (chipmunk, in the common vernacular, though they aren’t really.) One of them came running directly AT us on the trail, without deviating. It just ran straight under Shiner and then into a bush. I can’t blame her for going a little berserk!

After the experience at Ochoco camp we’re trying a packet of the Shake-away rodent repellant in the engine compartment. We’ve never had a problem with critters nesting in the engine before, but there’s always a first time.

This is a busy campground, with only one or two spaces not “reserved” each night, and so available for one night only. It is a nice area, as the trees are thick, and the Deschutes is an old river, so the banks have a lot of character, and it’s very attractive to fishermen and boaters alike.
I know Shiner very much liked dipping her muzzle in the cool water after a dusty walk down the trail.

We've stayed here many times, but just discovered a previously unknown feature of this campground when a fellow camper asked us if we knew the location of the “dog park” that the ranger had told him about. We didn’t even know there was one! Checking the campground map we noticed a location that said “pet area” and pointed to a large area covered by a text box. . . not very informative, but a clue.
The doggie playground
So, we headed out to check out the situation and we found a really nice fenced area with a shaded bench, picnic tables, and lots of parking. Access the dog area from the North Loop via the trail across the road and slightly to the left from the loop entrance. If you’re in either of the other loops you’ll pass a small brown sign on your right marking the area on your way to the entrance to Middle Loop and South Loop (the pet area is on the west side of the road). I didn’t notice any water available, so be prepared if you plan to stay very long. Shiner enjoyed snuffling around, and there’s plenty of room for even a large dog to chase a ball and get in a good run.

We’re here three nights, so long enough to catch up on laundry, a few repairs, and run up to Bend for a shopping run there, and a quick check in at a quilt shop.

Shops in every state are participating in what they call a “row by row” quilt project. They have souvenir “license plates” representing their shops and give-away patterns.

As I always like to visit the various shops and see what unusual things they might have to offer it’s fun to participate in the event. I’ve been trying to pick up at least one of the license plates for each state we hit, but the shop I visited in Bend was out! They promised to mail me one, so I’ll have it when we get home. The shop, Sew Many Quilts, was amazing. I've never seen so many beautifully constructed quilts in one shop, and fabric galore. I had to make myself leave before I scummed to my weakness and trudged out with too much fabric. Gotta watch the space and pounds!

Tailgate Training Camp 2015

The big question at camp this year was,”So, how many years have we been doing this?”
The answer is probably) 13 – maybe 14. We’ll have to dig through photos at home to be absolutely sure. We’ve been meeting in this same campground since 2005. . . so ten years there alone. That’s a pretty good record for a casually organized group event!

This year several camp regulars were joined by our long-time friends Mike and Nina and their two beautiful German Shepherds, making a total of ten humans and 6 dogs . We had five breeds represented and they all got along beautifully.

stories around the campfire
We had a great time – telling stories and eating, mostly, and the dogs played and talked about who knows what. Those of us who are into needlework stitched to our hearts content while we caught up on everyone’s family doings, travels, plans for the rest of the year, and the like.  Two of the men went fishing up at Walton lake and caught their limit of trout both days. Not bad for a few hours out in the beautiful weather we had.

The creek that runs through the campground was lower than usual this year, but it was still running, which Shiner enjoyed on our afternoon saunter. She loves splashing around while she looks for something to chase.

We’ve been meeting at Ochoco Forest Camp (group camp) for so long it feels like home. One thing that wasn’t so homey this time was the rodent onslaught.

By the second day several folks had nests already established under their engine hoods, and at least two ended up with rodents in their RVs. Everyone opened up their hoods and hoped the extra exposure would discourage further nesting.

 It did seem a little strange to be surrounded by all the vehicles, hoods up, like camping in a car lot, but hey, whatever works!

As far as we know we escaped the attack, but we are looking into rodent repellant anyway. They’re always a problem around our shed at home, so if we can find a repellant that is effective we’ll use it in both situations. We are planning to experiment with a packet of Shake-away under the hood of the truck. We’ll report if we feel it’s worth fussing with. The ingredients (peppermint, rosemary, and cedar oil) seem harmless enough to use around pets.

After 4 days of relaxing at camp it’s time to hit the road again.

Next stop, La Pine State Park, so we can replenish supplies and do laundry.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Partying in Nevada

My goodness, our last post was quite some time ago! Time does fly sometimes when you're on the road.

To pick up where we left off in the last post.... We left Fallon at a reasonable hour in the morning and arrived at our friends' place near Gardnerville in the early afternoon.

Not much for wasting time, we soon launched  into a round of  parties, birthdays for two friends and a first birthday for Raylan,
a housewarming for friend Jeanne,
a pool party,

and of course,
the big Happy Birthday America BBQ and Reunion.  

We had to move into the garage for Raylan's party, but can you think of a better backdrop for a little boy's first birthday cake than tool boxes?

Kendra had a bubble machine for the boys, balloons, lots of cake and packages to open (so they could play with the paper and boxes!) and lots of Aunties and Uncles to help with the celebration.  Perfect!

The stormy skies from Texas seem to have followed us, as we had either gray cloudy skies or rain almost every afternoon. Shuffling all the yard furniture and cushions indoors, then out, and back again gave us a considerable amount of exercise! It never was really cold, just wet! We can't complain too much though. The area needs the moisture, and it kept the wildflowers looking very spring-like.

The kids joined us for the week of the 4th, and surviving the weather in a tent was part of the fun.

Our agenda also included a visit to the railroad museum in Carson City. 

We visited the museum a couple of years ago, but Jax is older now, so he will undoubtedly remember more of what he saw.

 We rode in the caboose on this trip, and had a chance to view the cabinets, shelves for storage, and even the wood stove that kept the brakemen warm.

As this was the museum's special July event, they paraded three of their restored trains around so we could really get a good look at all of them in action. The trains really show the loving care the volunteers take with them. There were several volunteers dressed in appropriate period garb, running the engines, managing the crowd, and answering all the questions. They really enriched the experience!

Jax also toasted his very first marshmallows, and after running into the ends of the toasting fork a couple of times he learned that indeed, that fork is hot when it's been in the fire! Due to the local fire restrictions we had to limit the "campfire" to a fire pot, but it worked quite well.

That fire in California, near Markleeville (known as the Washington Fire) was finally extinguished. Over 1,100 fire fighters worked on the fire, which finally burned about 16,00 acres. The smoke that poured over the Sierras into the valley was pretty bad at times, completely obscuring the mountains, and we were crediting it with a cold-or-something that we both came down with. We never decided if it was a cold or allergies, but after three weeks of the sniffles and coughing we are ready for it to be gone!

We spent a few days recovering, first at Ramhorn, (photo album from previous visit) a primitive campground in northeastern California.  The wild horses didn't make it into camp this time, but the scenery was as interesting as ever. The wildflowers are still blooming as the elevation is fairly high. Shiner and I took a hike up to the top of the rim rock for a different view of the campground. She loved the area, as there were lots of little critters to pounce at and lots  of space to run in.That little white spot in the middle is our rig.

After Ramhorn we moved on to Collier State Park (see 2012 post for more pics), just down the road from Crater Lake for a night, and then up into the Oregon Cascades, to North Davis Creek campground, one of our favorite hide-a-ways.

Our campsite at North Davis, was right beside the creek, where we could sit and read, watch the crystal clear water flow by and enjoy the wild flowers. The camp is never very crowded, so it's quite peaceful.

Next, we spent a day in Prineville to stock up before Training Camp. When in Prineville we "camp" at the Crook County RV park, right next to the fairgrounds. It's quite nice, if a bit crowded by our standards, and there's a big open field right across the road where we played ball with Shiner. It's perfect for large dogs that really need space to run. If you happen to stop in Prineville and are looking for a place to eat, try the Ranchero Mexican restaurant. I can highly recommend their shrimp enchiladas.

Next we're heading out in to the Ochoco forest for Training Camp. Wow, will the partying ever end?   I hope not! Good times, visiting with good friends.