October 1 Cove Palisades & Smith Rock

There was no rain last night but the temperatures went down to below freezing during the night. Our two indoor electric space heaters and our forced air propane furnace were able to keep it cozy inside though. This morning the sun was out and that delighted us since we haven’t seen it for about a week. By about noon, the temperature was up to 46 degrees so we decided to take a spin.

Our first destination was right out the driveway of our campground. We turned left and headed down the road into the gorge that encompasses Lake Billy Chinook. The Lake is mostly fed by the Crooked, Metolius and Deschutes Rivers but there are also quite a few creeks and waterfalls that also dribble in. The gorge walls are predominantly a giant forest of massive, geometric basalt columns and they extend up from the Lake surface to the edge some 500 feet above. They make Devil’s Postpile in California look like a tiny example of this place. The edges are so abrupt and the canyons so narrow that most folks do not even know this place exists because you cannot see it until you drive into it.

We wandered along the shore of the Crooked River portion until we got to a two-lane suspension bridge that got us to the long basalt peninsula between the Crooked and Deschutes. We then drove the other side of the Crooked for a bit before climbing up over the ridge, past a closed campground where numerous deer were dining on the campground’s abundant grass and then on to the Deschutes River Bridge where we turned around and took it all in going the other way. In addition to the deer, we spotted a Golden Eagle, a Bald Eagle, many fat Robins and striking Magpies.

We drove back out of the gorge but turned onto the rim road which we followed for about 10 miles down to the Round Butte Dam and the nightmarish web of rural electrification conductors. As we made our way into Madras for fuel, we noted some large fields of really terrific-looking marijuana growing in nice rows. The odor, easily discernible from the road, was magnificent because entire crops were in full flower. After the fuel stop, we headed down OR-97 to Terrabonne where we hung a left into Smith Rock State Park, another place with stunning scenery and considerable roadside reefer patches. Rock climbers congregate here and we could spot quite a few of them glommed onto the vertical rock faces. They just looked like tiny specks. Many western movies have been filmed here. Maybe it is because of the striking terrain visible in the background like John Ford movies shot in Monument Valley. It seems unlikely folks watched these flicks for the plots.

See pix. Click the link below. https://photos.app.goo.gl/zD99TStbrkCXMFVs9

September 30 Welches to Cove Palisades

We awoke very early this morning and it was still raining so we went back to sleep. However, by about 0800 the sun was breaking through and the temperatures had warmed up into the low 40’s.

We gathered up our remaining stuff, left a bit of birdseed out for the juncos and split from the Mt. Hood Village RV Park and headed up the climb to the pass. We started at about 1300 feet and by the time we got up to around the 4000 foot level, we were driving through a gorgeous forest that was covered with a dusting of snow. There was some snow along the roadside by the pavement was mostly dry. We even got a glimpse of Mount Hood, sticking up some 7000 feet above us.

The road (OR-26) passes across a long saddle before reaching a second, equally snow-covered pass before then starting a long, slow decline into the dry side of the Cascades. We continued through the gorgeous terrain of Warm Springs Indian Reservation, finally dropping down a canyon for four miles into the town of Warm Springs and over the Deschutes River. Not much further on we intersected OR-97 where we turned south toward Madras.

Out our right windows we could see the bottom portions of Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson, another volcano. The top portions were mostly obscured by clouds and the temperatures outside the truck were bracing, to say the least. Near Madras, we turned off on a side road and zigzagged our way to Cove Palisades State Park, a gem we found by accident in 2014. We wound our way partway down the edge of a gorge and pulled into the campground. It took a bit of time to find the campground host or the ranger but we were successful and soon assigned a spot. The park is absolutely gorgeous but the temperatures outdoors are frigid and we set up in near record time before climbing into the trailer and turning on the heaters.

See some travel pix. Click the link. https://photos.app.goo.gl/bNMURtuzaY5eeaxy5

September 29 Rained out

The weather was still dreadful today. It was in the high 30’s and low 40’s and raining steadily. We are glad we delayed our departure because it is snowing further up Mt. Hood and that’s the way we eventually hope to go.

We were also going to meet one of Peggy’s nephews, who lives in nearby Sandy, for dinner at a place up the road called Pub 26 in Welches. Unfortunately, he had gone over to Lincoln City on the coast yesterday and some seafood that he had there produced a boomerang effect. He called before dinner to tell us he was going to have to punt and so we hung at the trailer and feasted from our abundant stores. Peggy is a wizard in the kitchen.

September 28 Still still in Welches

From midnight to around 10:00 AM this morning it rained in almost biblical proportions. The massive raindrops knocked huge hardwood tree leaves out of the trees towering over our trailer and the roof and skylights are amply covered with big, saturated, dead, yellow leaves. Hopefully it will dry out a bit before our departure, allowing some wind to blast the extra roof covering off before we leave.

Peggy hopped on the laundry during some short respites from the crappy weather. One of the campground laundries is right across the road from our RV space, making things easier for her. I cooked and did dishes. It is amazing what can be considered fun when pinned indoors for extended periods of time.

September 27 Checking the route

We have been enjoying the questionable benefits of lousy weather for the last few days and today was no exception. It was raining when we got up and it was raining when we called it off for the day. Fortunately, during the middle part of today’s daylight hours we had a chance to go out and look around.

Weather forecasts for the continuation of our trip east indicate that a whopper of a storm is coming and our scheduled day for departure was to be possibly a bit less snowy but temperatures will be below freezing. We figured we should get a look at the mountain passes we will be obliged to cross over to see if the suspected cold and dismal conditions would affect our transit. We are camped in Welches, OR, with an elevation of around 1500 feet. The passes just a short ways east are around 4000 feet and are scheduled to be snow-covered and icy.

So we crafted a simple plan: we delayed our departure here for a day until Monday instead of Sunday. We rarely change our travel schedule but, fortunately, we had built in a little schedule slack for the next couple destinations so we were able to just pay $20 here in Welches for another night and shorten our pending stay in Cove Palisades on the other side of the Cascades.

The drive today up into the pass offered wonderful views of the mountains around Mt. Hood but the big volcano itself was obscured by clouds. Nevertheless, the scenery we did get to ogle was very beautiful. The vine maple bushes and trees have leaves that are turning a gorgeous shade of red which is a stark contrast to the evergreen conifers that surround them. We also stopped in at Trillium Lake up near the turnoff to Timberline Lodge (remember The Shining – Here’s Johnny!) at the pass. It is a small but beautiful little lake with quite a few folks out on it, fishing from float tubes and kayaking in the nearly freezing water. Those plucky Oregonians.

After today’s recon mission, we now feel better about revising our schedule because the pass roads and conditions were formidable today but will be even worse when snow-covered or covered by black ice. Hopefully a delay of one day will offer better conditions so we can cross the passes and get down into the arid side of Oregon on the east side of the Cascades.

Pass pictures. Click the link. https://photos.app.goo.gl/UFEKvmuaajxWtrst9

September 25 Seaside to Mt. Hood

The weather was extremely cooperative today. We departed from our RV spot for the last week in Seaside and headed out for points inland. We had two options. The shorter OR-26 route on skinny mountain roads that subsequently required a dreaded crosstown west-to-east drive on Portland city streets. Or the much longer route on OR-30 along the Columbia, into Washington at Kelso, down I-5 to the Oregon border, across the Columbia a second time and onto I-84 east of Portland. Our destination was up the side of Mount Hood, another stratovolcano east of and visible from Portland.

We chose the longer route and are happy about it. Even with the roundabout route, we were still required to exit the freeway and drive for a while on city streets in Gresham, a Portland suburb. The traffic signals in Gresham apparently use the same traffic flow program used in San Diego, namely that every car will be required to stop at every signal, even when no cars are driving on intersecting streets. We had ample time to see long sections of 182nd Avenue, Burnside St. and Powell St. before ultimately getting to OR-26 near Sandy, OR, where we turned east and escaped from the hellish, closely-spaced and always red traffic lights.

We started climbing out of the lowlands and up the side of Mount Hood for about 20 miles before pulling off at the Mount Hood Village RV Resort in the town of Welches. Due to our membership in Resort Parks International, we got to enjoy access to the park for $15 a night, a substantial discount from their lowest access fee of $55+ for ordinary mortals.

We were assigned a pretty good spot with full hookups, including cable TV. Unfortunately, there is no park-wide WiFi but we can probably go to a nearby McDonalds or public library for some internet access. By evening, the rain had started again but by that time, we were all set up and cozy inside the Barbarian Invader.

To see a Portland Mohawk light rail station, click the link. https://photos.app.goo.gl/eYnmPM4NbtkfznSo7

September 24 Astoria Column

The rain quit last night and we awoke to partly cloudy skies and some sun. We realized the views across the Columbia River and out to the Pacific would be considerably better than during yesterday’s dismal weather so we decided to take another spin up to the Astoria Column, a big spikey-looking thing on a high point above town.

We made an effort to stay off US-101 when possible, using instead the few back roads leading from our RV park in Seaside on the Pacific up to Astoria on the Columbia River. We arrived at the kiosk at the Astoria Column and were told we could use our $5 ticket from the last time we visited, back in about June because the tickets are good for the whole year. We told him we would probably be unable to produce a four month old ticket but really had no qualms about giving the park a little extra money because it is a gorgeous place and should be maintained for all. We could afford to chip in to this worthy cause.

Today’s better weather gave us an opportunity to enjoy some spectacular vistas from the large grass hilltop surrounding the Column. North of us we could see down into Astoria and the Columbia and across the river into southern Washington. The very long Astoria-Megler Bridge is at the edge of the view down the Columbia to the south spit and out to the Pacific. On the south of the park is a large estuary where the Lewis and Clark and Youngs Rivers dump into the Columbia River System just before it dumps into the ocean. There was water everywhere.

The Column itself is pretty interesting. It sticks up some 125 feet from the top of 600 foot high Coxcomb Hill and has a spiral stair inside that offers those with good knees to climb to an observation deck at the top. It was built in 1926. On the side of it is what they call a spiral sgraffito frieze that portrays a continuous scene of Oregon stuff like Indians, Lewis & Clark and other events and people in the last 250 years. It is sort of like a really massive paper towel tube with diagonal scene paintings on the outside. The frieze, if unwound, would be 7 feet high and 575 feet long. Somebody did a lot of nifty scaffold work to get this project done.

On the way home, we tried an alternate route back to Seaside and had driven quite a bit of the distance when we spotted a small orange sign at the roadside indicating the road was closed 2 miles ahead for a culvert repair. Stupidly, we went on, thinking that a culvert repair couldn’t take long (the sign indicated project start 6 weeks ago) but found that Oregon Dept. of Transportation did not lie so we turned around and backtracked for about ten miles. We eventually found a way through, arriving back in Seaside in time for me to dump our tanks and disconnect our water supply in preparation for travel tomorrow. We are ready to go on short notice in the morning.

There’s some pix. Click the link. https://photos.app.goo.gl/tFhDENUUEmXg71uR8

September 23 Columbia River Bar

The weather was miserable again today but we figured out something to do anyway. About the only place around here that gets more interesting in foul weather is the dangerous Columbia River Bar where the river meets the Pacific. We moseyed out to the truck in a drizzle and headed north to Fort Stevens State Park, a part of the Lewis & Clark National Park and about 15 or 20 miles north of our RV park in Seaside, OR.

Our first stop was at the very end of the park road on the spit at the furthest northwest spot in Oregon. There, we briefly lingered at the edge of the Columbia where it is wide and angry-looking. Northwest across the river we could barely see the area around Ilwaco and to the northeast was Megler, both about 5 miles across the water in Washington.

Next we backtracked a bit and found a road that went to an observation tower built on the land end of the very long breakwater that borders the Columbia. From the tower, we could see the angry, churning ocean on the beach side of the rock jetty. On the other side of the jetty, we could see the ship-eating Bar and large waves in the channel that looked like they made most kinds of boating into a poo squirters. Just barely visible through the drizzle we could see the stern of a departing log freighter that had cleared the crummy part of the Bar and was out into calmer water.

At this point, it started to really rain so we went food shopping in nearby Warrenton, fortifying our stores of tasty home cooking supplies.

See the Bar. Click the link below. https://photos.app.goo.gl/aYfvJK2CRwbvnZk87

September 22 Weather delay

Last night the rain started again. There were a few lulls in the deluge this afternoon but mostly it was dreary. There have been a few downpours today that were drumming so furiously that I could see little water impact exclamation points rising from the hull of the neighbors’ kayak which is strapped to the roof of their truck.

However, some of the plucky Oregonians near our RV space spent the day with their RV’s doors open even when it was raining. They must be accustomed to being wet. Things got so slow around the trailer today that I actually helped Peggy load a 1942 version of Jane Eyre for viewing on our boob tube. To surprise me even more, I watched it with her. Peggy really likes the portrayal of Ed Rochester by Awesome Welles but I think the jargon they used almost makes the dialogue unintelligible.