Sunday, October 25, 2015

Oregon East Side - 2nd & 3rd stops

Nancy entertains herself
 with the camera while driving

The drive to Burns, OR on October 8th, took us through a few mountain ranges, some of the highest we have been in with the RV, she did pretty well climbing them.

After pretending we were the Energizer Bunny for a couple of weeks, we needed a break. Cranes Hot Springs RV Park was the place to do it. It is truly in the middle of nowhere, extremely quiet and they have a wonderful hot spring to soak in.
The park is a combination of campsites and cabins. They have a beautiful rec-room with large comfy couches, a big screen TV, a fireplace and some video games. They offer coffee and cookies every morning, plus there is a camp kitchen, for those staying in the cabins. We spent our time wisely here, sleeping in and enjoying the hot spring, as well as amazing starry nights. The sites are all gravel but there are a number of grassy spots to walk the dog.

Burns is about 20 minutes away, small town but some cute stores to enjoy. One was a quilting store and it made Nancy very happy to wander through and touch all the fabric, which gave the ladies in there quite the chuckle. The Burns party stores offer growler fill stations, this one had a sangria along with the craft beer, plus you can sample them all. Nancy was excited to get her howler (half growler) filled.
They also have a VA clinic that has the most reasonable people we have met in the VA system yet.

Our last day here we experienced our first dust storm, the park is surround by high desert prairies full of sagebrush. This was a mild storm, we do not want to see a bad one. At one point the dust blocked out the mountain ridge. Our RV was full of dirt, as we write this blog a few weeks later and a number of cleanings, we are still finding dirt.

La Grande

La Grande, OR was a 5 hour drive from Burns, but put us in the Hell's Canyon area. We drove the John Day Hwy, which is a beautiful road. Unfortunately, one section experienced a fire in the spring and many people lost their homes.

We stayed at the Eagles Hot Lake RV Park, which is between Union and La Grande. There is close to 100 sites, all pretty decent sized, we had an end spot so it was double the size of the others. Very few trees but surround by mountain ranges.There is a creek that runs through the grounds and lots of large grassy areas for dog walking.
Unfortunately, there is not a hot spring on site, some close by but the cost of $25 an hour to use them is a little steep for us. There is a heated pool and a hot tub on site, the laundry room and bathrooms are very clean. There is a railroad not far from the park but no road crossings so the noise in minimal. Lots of coyotes can be heard at night and seeing we are here during hunting season lots of gun shots during the day and way to much dog barking from the hunting dogs staying on site.

Hell's Canyon was fun to explore, the drive to and from was just as pretty as the canyon.
The road was full of twists and turns and great mountain views. We have seen a few of these cool silos, or at least that's what we think they are.

We stopped at two overlooks for Hell's Canyon. Nice views and a good place to stretch our legs and Mielikki's too.

Just out side of the park we came across a rancher moving a herd of cows. The cows were walking on the side of the road with the rancher driving his truck behind them. They came to a section of the road that had the metal bars to keep animals from crossing there. We stopped to watch how he would get them across it. Turns out that there is a gate on the side of the road, and as he got out of his truck to open it, the cows started across the street.

He was yelling "NO", NO, not that way, come back". He and his dog had to run up the hill at the side of the road to get them turned around. It was all rather entertaining and amusing, As we were pulling away we could see them in our mirror. Not a sight you see everyday.
We saw additional cows along side the road as we continued driving home, just standing there eating! We also saw a number of deer.
The trip home took us through Joseph, OR. A really cute town with lots of little stores and eateries. They had a number of statues as well. 
The two on the left were built in the 1890's ~~ right in 1907
La Grande has a walking house tour, it is a two-mile walk and there is a brochure with a map to follow and a description of each of the 31 houses. There is an assortment of styles of homes, from small to large and built from the late 1800's on.

These two houses were built in the 1920's and reflect the Arts and Crafts movement.

The Stange Manor, is a 7,800-square-foot home built in 1924 for the owner of the Mt. Emily Lumber Company. It has 4-bathrooms upstairs and a central vacuum system, all unusual for the era it was built.
                                   Left - built in 1915             Right - Prairie style home built in 1900                    Center is a Sears and Roebuck home

The English Tudor Cottage on the left, was built in 1924, it has beautiful gardens. Top right was built in 1890, although the two doors make it look like a duplex, it was not, the right door led to a music studio where lessons were given. Bottom right was built in 1902. 

We passed a beautiful church, built in 1924 from volcanic tuff (a pyroclastic, consolidated rock composed of compacted volcanic ash) Nancy loved the door.

Our stay in La Grande was extended by three days, as the next location was booked solid for the weekend due to a college football game. We used the time to work on some projects, pictures of our new drapes will show up in a future blog. The RV and car got a much needed bath and we took the RV in for an oil change (see the tip below).

It also allowed us to explore Baker City a bit.
They have some beautiful old buildings and the streets are lined with scarecrows, which reminded us of Plymouth, MI. Plus, there is a store with a really great name! 

Next up Palouse, WA.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way.
~ When taking your RV in for an oil change ask if they will be lifting your RV or keeping it on the ground. With all other oil changes we have never had an issue with things inside moving or doors opening. This time we did. We secured everything for travel like we always do, but all of the cupboards over our sink and stove were open and some of the contents on the floor. The medicine cabinet door opened up and many things fell out including a hand mirror that was shattered on the floor.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Oregon East Side - 1st stop


It took us six months but we finally made it to Oregon on October 4th. While we saw some pretty amazing things in Idaho for the most part it is flat and dull brown with lots of sagebrush that sent our allergies into overdrive.

As usual we took mostly back roads to Vale, OR there were a few hills and valleys and we crossed the Snake River a number of times. We did see acres and acres of hops on the western side of Idaho, it is the nations third largest producer of hops.
Vale is a small town with not much to offer, but we only stayed two nights, enough time to get pictures of the murals that are painted around town depicting the history of the Oregon Trail, and a trip back to Boise to enjoy a few breweries.

We stayed at the Vale RV Park, just on the edge of town. A small park with about 30 sites. It sits right next to the railroad tracks but they are not very active, so it wasn't a problem. On the other side of the tracks is a stockyard for cattle auctions. Nothing was happening there until our last day, when an auction was held all day, from 9am to 9:30pm. Lots of noise from the loudspeakers, at times it was pretty entertaining listening to them. The cows that were not loaded onto trucks were quite vocal late into the night, or early into the morning if you will. The park is well maintained, the sites about average size with nice shade trees.
We were greeted by Denny, who was super friendly and helpful. His trailer was just across from ours and he has a very friendly lab who became fast friends with Mielikki. There is a small pet area for the dogs to play in, which is such a great idea, Mielikki loved it.

There are 29 murals all painted by local artists that cover the entire town of Vale. There is a map with all of the mural locations marked on it, so with map in hand, or in pocket, we dusted off our bikes and hit the mural trail. It was fun finding them all and getting pictures.
Left to right - "Born and Raised on the Oregon Trail" (1998) Don Gray - an introduction to some of the people who settled in the Vale area. "Vision Fulfilled" (1996) James Spurlock - Native Americans on the North Fork of the Malheur River. "The Trappers" (1995) Norm Comp - Mountain men camped on the Malheur River trade furs with Native Americans.

Top, left to right - "The Diggin's" (1995) Robert Thomas - Gold miners in the Mormon Basin. "The Shortcut" (1994) Don Gray - Stephen Meek and his ill fated attempt to find a shortcut to Willamette Valley. Bottom - "Waiting for Sagebrush Annie" (2000) Don Prechtel & R.E. Pierce - Steam engine, Sagebrush Annie, arrives at the Vale train depot. "Death on the Trail" (1995) Dorothy Danielson - A family grieves the loss of their daughter.

Left to right - "First Set of Shoes" (1997) Gary Kerby - A blacksmith across from the Rinehart Stone House. "The Hot Springs" (1995) Ruth Boyle, Neo Brown, Carol Hayes - The joy of a bath in the hot springs of Malheur River. "Sunday Go To Meetin" (2004) Colleen Mitchell-Veyna - The Vale Christian Church built of native stone and dedicated in 1911.
Left -"Caster Oil, The Cure All" (1998) Beth Wolfe - A mother gives a dose of preventive medicine to her unenthusiastic children. Right top - "Added Horsepower" (2010) Art Mortimer - The transition from horse and buggy to the automobile. Bottom - "The Crossing" (1994) Robert Thomas - Crossing the treacherous Snake River.

"Men, Mules and Merchandise" (1999) Jack Fordyce - A mule train delivers supplies from Burns to Vale in the late 1800's.

Top, left to right - "The Hunters" (1996) Norm Comp - Hunters return to the wagon train after a successful hunt. "September Morning" (1999) Beth Wolfe - Vales first school built in 1887. Bottom - "The New Arrivals" (1993) Don Gray - Early pioneers leave Keeney Pass and travel on to Vale.

"Basque Sheepherder" (2005) Colleen Mitchell-Veyna - The sheepherder, his faithful dog, and the band of sheep. "Japanese American Contributions" (2005) Colleen Mitchell-Veyna - Japanese farmers with row crops of potatoes, onions and sugar beets.

"Vaqueros" (2005) Colleen Mitchell-Veyna - Vaqueros herding cattle. "Industrious Chinese" (2005) Colleen Mitchell-Verna - Chinese digging the Eldorado Ditch and working in goldmines. 

"Journaling" (1995) Dorothy Danielson - A mother reads to a child and a man writes in a journal while camped.

"The Branding" (2000) Larry Bute - Branding in the willow corral, the cattle drive and the chuck wagon.  

"Patriots on Parade" (2008) Colleen Mitchell-Veyna - Early 1900 
4th of July Parade on Main Street, Vale. 
"The Escort" (1996) Don Prechtel & R.E. Pierce - Silver shipment being escorted by the cavalry down an early military road. "Jonathan Keeney-The Restless Pioneer" (2006) Art Mortimer - Harvesting hay at the early homestead of Jonathan Keeney. "Beginner's Luck" (1999) James Spurlock - A young man teaches four young ladies how to fish.

 "Playing at the Nat" (2002) Roger Cooke - A family enjoying the warm waters of the Nataorium. "Walking the Planks" (2002) Roger Cooke - Crossing the Malheur River on the swinging bridge to the Natatorium. 
It is hard to imagine what life was like on the Oregon Trail, all of the hardships they faced along the way and yet still kept going. Makes our first world problems seem rather insignificant.  

Our Boise brewery tour, well not really a tour as we only hit two, was enjoyable just the same. We went to Cloud 9 Brewery. A small store front where they serve and brew. They have a nice outside patio, that we were able to take the dog into. We enjoyed a flight of four of their beers and also lunch, some of the best pulled pork since leaving the south. Next was 10 Barrels, which is out of Bend, OR. There tasting room is in an old building, lots of wood and exposed duct work, brick walls and big open windows. Their flights only come in 10 pre-picked beers, so we opted to go with a pint each instead. The beer was good and the atmosphere of the place was great.

Continuing on the Oregon Trail as we head mid state. 

Till we meet again.

Happy Trails to you!

Tips and things we have learned along the way.
~ It's important to have people back home to back you up when needed. We don't actually have a "home" anywhere as we sold most everything before we hit the road, and while we do all of our bill paying on line we still get snail-mail. We actually use two different addresses. We have our "home" address in Asheville, we use our friend Janet's address for that. She receives anything local, such as voting info, DMV info and all of Les's medication from the VA. All other mail goes to our daughter, Katrina in Michigan. She opens it and then lets us know what we have received. When we are in one place long enough for mail to get to us, they will send us what they have.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Idaho - West side


Rolling hills and valleys on our trip
September 27, 2015 was moving day to Hagerman, ID. We had a new development on this trip. The propane gas alarm started beeping and continued to do so every 32 seconds for 3-1/2 hours - talk about torture! What ever the problem is needs to be fixed and soon!

We stayed at the Hagerman RV Campground, it is well maintained with fairly decent sized lots, again a little short but at least there was room for our car this time. The laundry room and bathrooms were clean and the Wi-Fi was good. Hagerman is a small town, but lots to do within an hour in each direction.

Malad Gorge State Park was just up the road from us and what a treasure we found. As you drive to the park you are going through fairly flat land and you can see for quite a long ways across the fields. As you are walking to the Devil's Washboard overlook the whole area appears to be flat until you hit the bridge and the land opens up in this amazing river gorge with waterfalls, spectacular rock formations and jewel like green water.

There is an aqua-duct along side the river that diverts water to two Idaho power plants. Electricity has been generated by the Malad River since 1911. The canal system was completed in 1948. Even with this diversion, the network of springs in the Malad Gorge produce 600,000 gallons of water each minute and keep the river flowing throughout the year.

There is animal life here based on the scat we saw, but we never did actually see any animals. We did come across very large ant hills and a few lizards.

Woody's Cove waterfall

You are provided with a brochure that takes you on a self-guided driving tour with overlooks, each handicap accessible, to stop at that give you different views of the gorge and three waterfalls to enjoy.

Woody's Cove Overlook
Top - the gorge leading to the valley and interesting rock
Bottom - Mielikki finding some shade
The stop at Woody's Cove gives you a breathtaking view of Hagerman Valley as well as the waterfall.

Mother Nature never ceases to amaze us and our trip to Twin Falls just confirmed that! The Snake River runs through the northern end of Twin Falls with the Perrine Bridge crossing it.
The first crossing of the river was by the I.B. Perrine Ferry in 1903, then a wagon bridge replaced the ferry until a rim to rim bridge was built in 1927, also called the Perrine Bridge. The current bridge construction was started in 1973 and completed in 1976. It is 486 feet above the river, 1,505 feet long and 78.6 feet wide. It can withstand winds up to 80 mph, not something Nancy wants to test.
The Snake River area is done very nicely. There is a walking path above the river that goes under the bridge, also a beautiful park and golf course down on the river.
We think Big Foot walked on the gorge edge

The river gorge twists and turns all over the place with waterfalls and large rock formations scattered about.

There is a small rock butte to climb that offered great views of the park, golf course and bridge.

Rock Creek Park, is just outside of Twin Falls and gave us a great place to walk and stretch our legs.

Sawtooth National Forest has some beautiful mountain ranges and the road takes you through a number of small towns. Some are just a store or two, others like Hailey and Sun Valley are big tourist areas.

There is a warm springs in the park that has a water fall down into pools where you can sit and relax in the warm water. We didn't have bathing suits with us so just our feet went in.
There are small creeks through out the park, and lots of pine cones for Mielikki to play with.

On our way to the park we came across a road sign that directed you to "Rock City". Sounded interesting so we thought we would check it out. A 4-wheel drive vehicle would have made the trip down the road a little easier. At times we were riding angled on our side because of the ruts. It was a wild but fun ride and the rocks were pretty neat.

Boise, ID was our big city trip this stop. There is just something about traffic, tall buildings, lots of people and city noise that makes Nancy feel right at home. After driving through town and exploring some of the river parks we toured the Old Penitentiary.

This wasn't the original plan, we were going to hike to Table Rock, but we discovered it was a bit more strenuous than we wanted and we were in the parking lot of the penitentiary so we figured we would check it out. This type of place usually effects Nancy emotionally and energetically so we avoid them, but this time it didn't and there were some great photo opportunities.

 Life in prison, especially in the early to mid 1900's was no picnic.
The rose garden

There was a beautiful rose garden that seemed so peaceful until we read the sign.

Nancy has a fascination with doors and window architecture and this place did not disappoint.

The walls of one room are filled with large drawings of tattoos. It was interesting reading about the different meanings of each one.

The cells are now worn, dingy and have peeling paint. Probably weren't much better back in the day.

One of the rooms you tour is the laundry room. When Nancy was a kid one of her chores was ironing the sheets on a mangle iron. One this size would have made it much quicker!

The guard towers were actually quite pretty. There is also a small women's ward on the property that had 10 cells in it. Most of the crimes were for adultery or theft. There were a couple for murder.

While we were traveling across Idaho, our daughter was traveling across Scotland with her in-laws. One of the stories she shared was of the sheep-herding demonstration they watched. This monument to the sheep industry in Idaho reminded us of that.

Following the Oregon Trail next. 

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to you!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Share the duties. Sharing the responsibilities of chores is always important when you live with someone and that applies to life on the road too. Living in a small space makes it even more important. We each have our "assigned" tasks for setting up and getting ready to pull out. Les does most of the outside set up and take down with assistance from Nancy on the leveling jacks and loading the car onto the tow dolly. Nancy does most of the inside set up and take down. This way we are both done about the same time and either settled in or ready to hit the road. We share the day to day chores as well, Nancy doing the cooking, Les doing the clean up. We take turns with the cleaning and the laundry. This way neither of us feels over loaded with work and that makes us both happy campers.