To Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge, Oregon

Due to horrible amounts of traffic on freeways, I try to take backroads.  I did so want to take my youngest dog child, but knew it would be too hot for him, so he stayed home with his elder sister.

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I had always heard of Fort Rock but never happened by close to it. I had to amble about seven miles from my path.  At the base of it, there is a little parking lot with restrooms and a volunteer who lives in a trailer to prevent vandalism, and to give visitor information.  Can’t you just imagine the graffiti artists?  It’s called a volcanic tuff ring and is 4,460 feet in diameter and 200 feet above the surrounding area.  In the very small town, there is a small store and some buildings that look like a western town, and there is some very expensive gas there.

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Back out to the main road and I commenced to go to Silver Lake.  It is also a small town.  The Cowboy Dinner Tree was not open, and one needs reservations for dinner anyway–and a very large doggie bag.

I was driving through town and noticed a big monument in the cemetery.  I stopped to see who had such a big monument, and it was for 43 people who died in a fire, Christmas eve, 1894.  All 43 names were on the monument with ages to the day.  They had about 200 people for a party over the store.  Someone bumped a gas lantern, and it instantly went up in flames.  People trampled each other and couldn’t get the door open because it opened in, and they were shoving against it.  Anyway, a cowboy guy rode 100 miles to Lakeview for the doctor, changing horses along the way when he found various ranches.  He arranged for horses for the doctor when they came back through, and they made pretty good time, but I don’t know how much good he could do back then.  I read that they set up a scholarship fund in the doctor’s name for any student from there who wanted to go to college.  I had never heard of the fire, but I imagine the old-timers did.

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Then on to Summer Lake.  All the towns are small.  You get gas whenever you find it.  They had a nice rest area where you can stay 18 hours if you want.  Outside of Summer Lake was a little one-room type of school complete with bell tower, but no trespassing allowed. I liked the high school at Paisley, which was the next town; it was an old school, and had some character.  They have a few stores, but it’s eastern Oregon, the Outback.

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It was a long haul between some places, but by and by there is a cut-off to a little place called Plush.  After getting gas and leaving Plush, one is headed for the mountain.  After the paved road runs out, there is a small campground with five or six spaces and pit toilets, but clean.  Then miles of gravel road, up and up the washboardy, unkempt roads, steep, six percent grade.  Terrible road to take a car or trailer on.  Eventually, I came to the visitor center and some caretakers live in cute, old, stone houses there.  All their equipment is there, gravel trucks and such.  They have a new looking road grader, but I decided they must not know how to use it.  No one was in the visitor center, but they had bulletin boards and pamphlets.  Another four miles of rough road and one can go to another campground, strangely laid out, but plenty of space between camps, about 25 sites.  I couldn’t see anyone from my space. They are first come, first serve.  There were no big rigs there at least, I don’t think they could get there in one piece.

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No cell phone service, no water, no electric, they did have a smelly pit toilet in some places, but I had my popup privy.  I had a nice little creek next to my camp site, with a little waterfall.  Around the corner from here is a hot spring which people seem to like, but I wouldn’t get in there for anything, water was very hot.  I stuck my hand in.  They have a nice rock wall built around the thing.  I did not see many birds, it was the wrong time of year.  I heard birds, but they were in bushes.  Heard a coyote.

I walked over to look at the hot spring, and a guy had walked over from another site, and commenced to tell me he had been there a few months ago, when it was very cold and was snowing some.  He heard someone hollering.  It went on and on, and he finally went to investigate, and some guy was crawling along the ground, naked, because he had broken his leg in the hot spring, and now he was freezing to death.  The only thing he could figure was that the guy got his leg hung up in the little ladder that goes down into the hole.  So, he had an old sleeping bag with him that he didn’t care about, and got the guy into the sleeping bag.  Another person had come to help and ended up taking the guy probably all the way to Lakeview, 100 miles.  The guy I was talking to said he never did hear any more about it.  I thought, boy, howdy, I’m glad I didn’t find some guy like that with no clothes on.

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I did not see many pronghorns either, but a few.  They are so fast, it’s amazing.  So, I got some rear-end pictures.  When they hear a car, they are on their way.  I like pronghorn, they always seem to be smiling.

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What should take maybe an hour, took me three hours because I don’t like to throw rocks all over my trailer.  When I headed back down, I could see some of the little lakes and big ones.  There were lots of roads with no gravel, but they also had some pretty good sized mud holes, so I chickened out of going in those places even with four-wheel drive.  Might be better in July, but then the tourists will be out in force.

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This looks like a nice, peaceful place to live.  It was nice and green over there still, with lots of water.

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On the way back, and closer to home, I stopped at Salt Creek Falls, but if one goes down to the bottom, one should probably take a lunch and have a lot of time to get back up out of there. The falls are 286 feet, and the pool is 66 feet deep.

At times I consider getting a bigger trailer than my little teardrop.  And I’ve looked at a couple that I really liked.  But to go places like I went on this trip, I was really glad to have my little “Moose Dog Manor.”

 

Eclipse Trip 2017

For my eclipse trip to see it in totality, I went to Culver, Oregon, and camped at Cove Palisades State campground.

Reports on the news said there would most likely be gas shortages, ice, water, and food shortages.  So, I took too much stuff and didn’t need it.  I didn’t see any shortages, and didn’t see that much traffic because I traveled early.  I was only about 175 miles from home in Oregon.

Smith Rock 0973 wc.jpgI stopped at Smith Rock State Park, a day use only park.  It is rocky all around, and people were preparing to climb.  You can see the Crooked River down at the left of the photo.

gorge -4w.jpgFrom Smith Rock, I went a short distance to the Crooked River Gorge, which is over 300 feet down, and people were bungee jumping down in there from one of the bridges.  The railroad bridge was the first to go across over a hundred years ago and is 320 feet above the river and 460 feet across.  It was completed in 1911, and trains still cross it.

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The Cove Palisades Park certainly did their part to avoid wildfires, and the danger was extreme.  The wind blew every day, so a fire would have been a disaster, which Oregon has more than enough of at this writing.  Park employees, Sheriff deputies, fire department, and/or the forestry department were patrolling every ten minutes or so to make sure there were no fires started in the campground and elsewhere.  Cooking had to take place on propane stoves or barbecues only.  No campfires, no briquettes, no candles, no torches.  I got a lot of dog watching done because the fenced exercise area was next to me.  I only had to walk to the back of my space to see the eclipse.

While waiting for the eclipse, I checked out (next door almost) Lake Billy Chinook.  It was much larger and longer than I expected.  No mater how many boats and houseboats were out there, I don’t think it could be crowded.

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The marina has a store and small place to eat.  Three rivers flow into the dammed up lake, and I imagine it gets higher up in winter.

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There is one large island on the lake.  Mount Jefferson is in the back ground.  It was smoggy due to fires in the distance.

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The eclipse was very cool, but no one thought it lasted as long as they said it would.  I need more pictures of the eclipse!  It made really cool moon shadows on the RV next to me.  Mine had a few but not as big.

The campground made everyone reserve five nights, back in November, so it was a long wait, but I was glad to see more of Oregon, since I’ve never lived elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo adventures camper/trailer 

Photo excursions are often more fun with an RV of some kind. So many choices out there, but I chose a teardrop trailer by Little Guy in Ohio.

My Rough Rider is an off road model, overall 13 feet long. It allows me to go most anywhere I’d want to go. And I don’t notice any change in gas mileage. I can stop and crash whenever I’m tired and find a place to park.

It has a galley in the back with stove and sink and room for utensils and pots–and five gallons of water. Of course, one cannot stand up in it, and it has no restroom. Many people take along a pop-up privy and/or shower tent, with a folding toilet or something similar. I was rather amazed at how many people ask me where the toilet is in there. Some take tents and canopies and almost their whole house. But I bought this model to keep it simple. I recently purchased an awning for it which is not yet installed; it will mount on the roof rack.

I have a cooler on the front, alongside a truck box with propane, power cord, and other possible necessities. The fan in the top goes both directions with three speeds.  There is a small row of cabinets inside, which I use for clothes and necessities.

The most important thing is that my dog child loves the bed, and he likes to be next to the open window.


Here, he is supervising my grilling of some kabobs. He got the steak, I got the pineapple. I don’t cook messy items in the galley, so a small grill is sometimes useful.

I never before towed or backed up a trailer.  My husband tried to tell me how to back, but I could only accomplish it after sending him to the house.  It’s best to go to a parking lot and practice, but living out in the bushes, I didn’t want to trek 30 miles to an empty parking lot.  And the last thing you want, is an audience bursting forth with great guffaws when learning to back a trailer.  They may have forgotten their first attempts.

The first time I got the idea, I was ambling along the Oregon Coast when I observed a guy pulling in with a similar trailer, only it looked like a home built or custom built and didn’t have a galley.  Although there are numerous places that build teardrops, many make you wait for a year to get one.  Being a person of little patience, I went in search of one I could have “right now.”

We’ve done trips in the Northwest so far; the coast, the Wallowas, Hells Canyon,  Steens Mountain, Crater Lake, Mount Rainier, Fort Stevens, Cape Disappointment, etc. My husband stays home with the older dog as neither of them can travel comfortably anymore.

We are now waiting for the rains to subside before continuing the adventures, which shouldn’t be long!

Short trip to Bandon and Oregon Coast

I asked the service station attendant what I should see in Bandon, Oregon, since it had been years since I looked around there–besides the Coquille River Lighthouse.  He said I might check out Face Rock.  So, I found the proper park (or wayside), and thought, my, which rock looks like a face.  I didn’t have to look too far.  It’s a big one.

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It was a little like watching near the end of The Mad Mad Mad Mad World when the big W came into view.  One really cannot miss it.

The weather was as good as could be expected for November.  In the same grouping of rocks is the Wizard’s Hat.  I did want to go down to sea level to photograph these, but the tide and the rough ocean made me decide to try this another day.

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I did not camp at the No Camping sign, but I went to Bullards Beach State Park.  At the campground, a resident turkey makes the rounds at each campsite to see if there are any handouts.  seagull 9856 wc.jpg

As you go on past Bullards Beach campground, by and by, you will come to the Coquille River Lighthouse, which is no longer in use.

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Some of Oregon’s lighthouses have been kept in working order, but this one could use some attention.

On the way back home, I made a side trip over to Shore Acres Park near Charleston.  I did not get the picture I wanted, but the ocean rarely disappoints.

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Steens Mountain Loop and Frenchglen, Oregon

Steens Mountain is in Southeast Oregon.  The country there would be hard to get used to if you are used to big trees and lots of green brush.  It is mostly rocks and sage brush.

People in this area are cowboys. There are cows, horses, and hay, either in bales or rolls.  And everyone has corrals.

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The little town of Frenchglen is at the beginning of the loop.  There is a school (home of the Cougars), a very small hotel which is run by the State of Oregon, and a  mercantile, which luckily sells gas.  Gas stations are few and far between–I carried a small gas can with me.  The town was named for rancher/cattle baron Peter French and founded by his father-in-law, Hugh Glenn.  I’m not sure of the population, but the school has only two teachers.  It looks like my kind of school.  However, students of high school age usually have to go to a Boarding School in Crane because with bad weather and long distances, it’s the only way to get past elementary school.

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As a person starts up Steens Mountain, you can look back at the town.

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I visited in the fall of the year, hoping for fall colors.  The aspens did provide color.  Juniper trees are being managed because they tend to use up all the water and not let other things grow.  I was surprised to find a couple of small lakes eventually, and four primitive campgrounds.  Not knowing the area, I stayed at Steens Wilderness RV Resort.  Being mostly Bureau of Land Management land, a person could camp anywhere he could pull off the road.  The BLM campgrounds did have vault toilets, but that is about all the amenities available.

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The Steens Mountain Loop is 60 miles of gravel, dusty road.  It is unfortunate that many people are in such a hurry to travel through it.  One needs to take all the little side roads to see the sights properly.  Stopping to photograph Kiger Pass was definitely worth the look, and the view down the East Rim was somewhat breathtaking–and it is wise not to get too close to the edge.

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I did see an occasional mule deer, but not much else, as I think one needs to spend more time.  There are antelope, but I did not see any on the mountain, I saw them in fields along the highway.  My main goal was to spot some wild horses.  As I traveled along the loop, I spied horse sign at the upper end, so I returned the next morning in hopes of finding horses to go with it.  There weren’t many visible to me because apparently, BLM had been rounding them up to give them vaccinations and whatever else, so the horses were quite spooked.  Also, there is so much country to hide in, they would be difficult to find if that was their wish.

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Finally, however, I did come upon a small horse herd not too far off the road.  I walked a little ways toward them (always watching for rattlesnakes), and the horses kept a sharp eye on me, especially the lead stallion, whom I found out later, some of the locals call Fuego, meaning fire.  After I had watched them for quite some time, Fuego came towards me.  I guessed he decided I was not a threat, but when he came closer, I thought it best to retreat a ways just in case he was being protective of his small herd.

Watching them was a treat.  He eventually led them to a waterhole.  I didn’t know where they were going, so I followed at a proper distance.  I had parked my car where he did not appreciate it, but they went around it and got to where they wanted.  I watched while they all got a drink, and in this picture, they were moving on.

I will definitely return another day, hopefully when the horses have been left alone a while.

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The Pete French Round Barn

In Southeast Oregon, near Diamond, in Harney County, is the Pete French Round Barn, built in the 19th century.  He had two or three of these barns back in the day, so the horses could be stabled and trained and exercised in bad weather.  They were stabled inside the round rock part, and they could run around between the rock wall and the board wall. The barn is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The posts and lumber used to construct the barn are Juniper trees.

Pete French was considered to be the Cattle King.  He was eventually murdered, shot out of his saddle.

The small town of Frenchglen was named after Pete and his father-in-law.  The towns in southeast Oregon, most people would not consider a town, and nearly every town is 60 miles from the next one.round barn back 9313 wc.jpg

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Before you get to the round barn, there is a very nice gift shop with many cool things, including books on the area, and I purchased a vest there which has inside pockets for a concealed weapon.  The man who owns it can tell many stories about the happenings there. I purchased the book about Pete French’s death/murder, and it has to be interesting!

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Pileated Woodpecker & a Downy Woodpecker

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Going after bugs is what woodpeckers do.  And if one is pecking on a tree, that tree or post may not have long to live.  We have various woodpeckers in Oregon, but they are very elusive.  The pileated woodpecker can be 19 inches long.  They only hatch one brood per year.  Once, I was in trouble and being dive-bombed by them.  Wondering why, I looked around, and they were supervising a young one in learning to fly.  I beat it back to the house and left them alone.  This woodpecker is a male, but the females also have red heads.

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This downy woodpecker looks very serious.  They are smaller, around 6 inches long.

Both woodpeckers excavate and probably live in an old tree.  The parents of both take care of the young.  Both will come to bird feeders, although they haven’t visited mine.  All woodpeckers have a long, barbed tongue to get insects out of difficult places.

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Eastern Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains — Campground — Lake — Wildlife

After I left the Painted Hills, I went to Wallowa Lake and the mountains.   After taking the tram up onto Mt. Howard, one can hike around, although there were patches of snow in some spots.  On a good day, you can see into Washington and Idaho, while standing in Oregon.  I stayed three days, hoping for some blue sky, but it was time to move on, so I saw what I could with clouds.  It had snowed the day before, so perhaps I was lucky.

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There were some views that reminded me of The Sound of Music.  The tram takes you to over 8,000 feet.

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The wildflowers up on top were very small and must be very hardy.  Even in June, I was glad I had a coat with me.

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The Clark’s Nutcrackers live in the high country, and although they are quite noisy, I like to hear them.  Of course they are named for William Clark of Lewis and Clark.

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From the tram, Wallowa Lake doesn’t look six miles long.  Joseph is also at the far end of the lake.  The lake house has various kinds and sizes of boats and fun things to use on the lake.

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These little Columbian ground squirrels are everywhere and are accomplished beggars.  The restaurant up on the mountain is made of canvas with plastic windows, and the ground squirrels run under the canvas walls to check out the restaurant tourists  for food.

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I camped at Wallowa Lake State Campground.  There, the Golden Mantled chipmunks or ground squirrels will also check out your campsite.  This one had his nose in my garbage sack, which I never left out after I was finished with cooking.  A rather shaggy looking old doe also walked through.

The campground had plenty of spots.  People seemed to follow the rules, so there were no problems.  Flush toilets and showers are close to all the sites.  I had a good spot, close to restrooms, garbage dumpster, and waste water dump–but not too close.

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Just before I left, a local showed me a bald eagle nest.  I wished I would have known it was there sooner, as I would have spent time to get something other than a rear-end shot.  There appears to be two chicks in there.

Enterprise has a great looking old courthouse, as do many of the small towns.  It also had one of the nicest war memorials I’ve seen, and expensive considering its size.  Joseph is more of a tourist town with lots of souvenirs.  I probably wasn’t looking in the right places, but could not find a piece of pie in either town.  The museum had some neat old things, some of which I had never seen before.

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Oregon’s Painted Hills

The Painted Hills are considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon and are one of the three separate units of the John Day Fossil Beds.  The colors change with the light and the moisture content on any given day.  I was there before daylight to watch.

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As one walks the trails, it’s hard to imagine what all the landscape went through to get to where it is and how many years they have been changing–much happens due to climate change.  It is also amazing to see the high rock walls on both sides of the road to get there.

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The area around the hills is farm and ranch country.

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Walking the Painted Cove Trail, you can see close-up how the clay has cracked.  I hope I can find out how the lone rock got there.

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The surrounding area does have vegetation and wildflowers.  These are prairie clover.

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Looking back from the Painted Cove Trail at the surrounding scenery, it was amazing how beautiful the landscape is.  At the  parking area, a sign said not to go farther–private road.  I could see a couple of ponds in the distance, and farther yet, the river.

I’ve always lived in Oregon, and since retirement, hope I can finally see more of the Pacific Northwest.  Eastern Oregon is rattlesnake country, and I kept a watchful eye, but luckily never saw one on my trip.

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