Well, I have to say it has been a bit rough for the past 10 months as far as second hand smoke goes. Since we arrived back in Moonbeam’s state last October (when the fires burned down our previous family home), we have pretty much been in constant smoke-filled skies with just a tiny bit of respite here and there. With all the California wildfires scattered statewide, we were unable to escape the smoke. We had very nice family visits and thoroughly enjoyed our kids and grandkids, as well as other family members. But now we’re back on the road.
We started out with an overnighter at the Merced Elks Lodge. They have a very nice RV lot at a satellite location to their main lodge. We got up the next day and promptly headed into Sacramento and to the Sacramento Truck Center (Freightliner) for the newest recall work on the bus. We overnighted there until our appointment, which took all of about 30 minutes to re-route some hose in the engine that was in jeapordy of burning up at it’s current, original location. Hose moved, we sped north, desperately trying to flee the smoke filled skies. We overnighted in the “hopping” town of Weed, CA, at Friendly RV Park. Smoke was still thick as we continued north on I-5 and into Oregon. We had 4 days to “burn” until our appointment for our new captain’s chairs at Countryside Interiors in Junction City, so we decided to settle in Junction City at Guaranty RV Park again, relax, get caught up on chores, and even give Rosie (the bus) a bath. Plus, we got a couple of days break from the smoke (but ONLY a couple of days!). We took the opportunity to check out Eugene’s Farmer’s Market. It was quite the hippy-fest. Lots of veggies, tie-dye, jewelry, art, otherwise typical stuff you find at a farmer’s market.
It took all of less than an hour to swap out the captain’s chairs and onward we went. Next stop was Northwest Cummins in beautiful downtown Coburg, OR for the yearly service on Rosie. They have power and water for overnight stays in their lot, very convenient. They found a couple of extra things that needed attention ($2K total, ouch!), then it was road time again. Sisters, OR, was our choice of destination. The Deschutes Nat’l Forest contains an area on Harrington Loop Rd. just off Hwy. 20 south of town and behind the Bend/Sisters RV Resort. There are numerous boondock sites off this dirt road that are big rig friendly to get to and not too forested so as to interfere with our solar panels or satellite TV. We shared the area with about 3 others, scattered far away from each other.
Our first foray was onto Hwy. 242 out of Sisters and up through the lava beds to the McKenzie Pass and eventually to Proxy Falls which has a moderate trail (1.5 miles roundtrip) to the upper and lower falls, and it is dog friendly. This is a fee area (5$) unless you have the N.P Annual Pass, Senior Pass, or Access Pass, whereas it is free. Woody had a fun jaunt along the trail, as did we.
On our way back we stopped at the Dee Wright Observatory, a rock structure built overlooking the lava beds and viewing all the mountains in the area like the 3 Sisters, Mt. Washington, Black Butte, and others. The only problem was the #&%$@*ing THICK smoke, we could barely see the peak of Mt. Washington.
In keeping with our past practices, we discovered the Bend, OR area hosts an “Ale Trail” which includes 16 breweries in the area. We picked up our Ale Trail passports and for the next couple of days we road tripped around Bend, Redmon, and Sisters hitting up all 16 breweries, tasting at some, eating at others, or just browsing gift shops. I have to say, sampling beers nationwide (the lower 48, anyway), and being a porter/stout fan, my favorite breweries thus far in no particular order are Founders Brewery, Evil Twin Brewery, Omnipollo (noa Pecan Mud), and Firestone Walker Brewing. I am always looking for new favorite breweries, so that hunt continues. Finishing the trail, we collected our prizes at the visitor’s center, 2 silicone pint-sized beer mugs and a couple of bottle openers. 4 days of boondocking in the dirt and trees and we were ready for civilized living and FHU’s.
In the midst of trying to drown our livers in all that beer, we discovered the Smith Rock State Park just north of Redmond. We got up and headed over to the park to give Woody a real test of stamina. We loaded up hiking snacks and water and set out to tame the Misery Trail, about 4-5 miles with a killer uphill approach that circles around the top to Monkey Face then back down along the Crooked River and back to the start. The park is highly popular with mountain climbers and boasts a thousand climbing faces within the park. Monkey Face is the crowned jewel for mountaineers. We definitely were sucking wind on our ascent…But hey, all three of us survived none the worse for wear. I did suck down a Gatorade in record time when we got back to the Jeep.
So, “in a cloud of dust with a hearty ‘Hi ho, Silver’” we were off eastbound and down to Caldwell, Idaho. We had change of plans (#9,583) and decided to forgo a trip back to South Dakota and instead spend some time in the southern Idaho area, looking for a possible landing zone for when we decide to retire from full timing. We have been on the road for 6 years now, having completed the lower 48, and we still plan on an Alaska run next summer. But we also want to get a head start in searching for a landing zone, since we have the luxury and opportunity to do so.
So, as our time starts in Idaho, I bid you a fond farewell for now, stay tuned until next post…