Friday, July 31, 2015

Newberry National Volcanic Monument


I made an error in my last post that I have now corrected. When we stopped on our drive to our current campground at Prineville Recreation Area on July 27, and visited the Lava Lands Visitor Center, I did not fully understand the extent of the National Monument. The place is correctly called Newberry National Volcanic Monument. We stopped at the edge of what is a large area about the size of the state of Rhode Island. The Newberry Caldera is a series of volcanic features including close to 400 cinder cones. There has been activity including a major eruption within the past 1300 years in this area.


You can see a number of different types of features. On July 30, we drove the 1.5 hours back through Bend to fully explore the area. The only problem with this day was that the predicted high temperature was going to be around 100 degrees. Perfect day to go see a volcano. We started back at the visitor center and talked to a ranger that gave us a better understanding of what we should go see while we were there.

We started by taking a walk through the lava field. This lava came from the eruption of Cinder Cone that is right behind the visitor center.



The formations and the few plants that eek out a living in this harsh environment are very interesting. There are lava tubes and river and Lava Balls. The balls are formed just like a snowball rolling downhill gathering snow or in this case rocks and other debris as it goes.


We then rode the shuttle bus to the top of the Cinder Cone. They have an fire observation tower up there. We could see all the way to Crater Lake and California.



The views of the distant mountains was very cool. You could see almost all of the mountains in Oregon. Here is Mt. Bachelor and the three sisters.


We took a walk around the cone. Here is a shot looking back at the fire tower:


This is a shot of the cinder cone from the lava bed.


After doing all of that we were pretty hot. They have a lava tube cave that you can go explore. The best part is that it is 42 degrees in the cave. It was wonderful.


The walk was about a mile, but we decided to cut that short because our lighting was not as good as it should have been. Here is the entrance.


We had a picnic lunch and then drove the 30 miles to the Newberry Caldera. First we stopped at Paulina Falls. This is a very nice falls.



Then we went to the Big Obsidian Flow. This was the result of an eruption 1300 years ago. We took a very warm 1 mile hike out through the flow. Obsidian is black glass made from cooling lava. It is beautiful!



It was huge and went on for miles.


At the top of the hike was a nice view of the caldera.


The area is very interesting and there are a few campgrounds and the lakes are good for fishing and camping.


I really was not aware of the amount of volcanic features that dominate the topography of central Oregon. Everywhere you go you see rock outcroppings and other interesting features that are obviously caused by volcanic activity.

We have done some other exploring of this area and I will document that in a future entry. I hope you found this as interesting as we did. I guess I always question why something looks the way it does.

Be inquisitive, you never know what you might find out.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Move to Central Oregon

On Monday, July 27, we decided it was time to move on from our quiet little campground. Cascara Campground was a nice quiet place, but the forecast is for 100 degree temps this week, so we wanted electric hook-ups. We also need to get moving to the north and east.
We had a bit of a problem late the evening before we left. I normally use one propane bottle up and then change to the other while I go get one filled. I had forgotten to check and when I did earlier this week #1 was empty, but I did not know how long we had been running on #2. We found out late tonight, that #2 was now empty also. Now I have no refrigerator and no way to make my morning coffee. I got up very early and headed out to get both bottles filled. The good news is a place about 10 miles away was open and it all turned out fine. The refrigerator was also only about 10 degrees warmer than it normally is. Lesson learned…
While I was out, I took a picture of this cool covered bridge. There are a number of them in this area.
We got moving around 10:00 AM and headed up the Willamette River. We took Highway 58. We started to gain elevation as we climbed up the valley. We finally topped out at a little over 5000 feet. The temp was down to 60 degrees. It felt great. We then dropped down into the area near Bend, Oregon. We found a place called Lava Lands National Monument. We looked at each other and said together, “What is that?”. We stopped even though we were towing. We found a place to park and have lunch. We then went to the visitor center and we surprised how extensive this area is. It is cool to see the immediate transition from green forest to black lava hills.
Right by the Visitor Center is a large Cinder Cone. That is the large hill in this photo:
We decided that we would come back to fully explore this NM at a future time. We got going and after a stop at Walgreens in Redmond, Oregon to refill perscriptions, we drove on to Jasper Point Campground.
This is a very nice State Park. They have water and electric for $28 per night. We got a great site with a nice view of the lake. We have seen all kinds of wildlife including a large covey of quail. Can you see them in this picture?
The lake is low, but we still like our view.
I will write more about this area in future posts. I will also give a full write up to the Lava Lands National Monument. We will be just sitting here on this lovely lake in central Oregon enjoying our life of leisure. Have a great day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Washougal National MX


We spent the week of July 20 at Cascara Campground in the Fall Creek Recreation area of Oregon. It was a very relaxing week. I did get a couple of fairly long bike rides in, but they are nothing like what my brother Alan did a couple of weeks ago. He rode something called the “Triple Bypass” in Colorado. You start in Evergreen and ride straight up to Squaw Pass at close to 10,000 feet then back down to Idaho Springs and then up and then over Loveland pass at close to 12,000 feet then down to Dillon and then up and over Vail pass at around 11,000 feet and then down to Avon. That is 120 miles of HELL! If that is not good enough, you do it in the other direction the next day! Alan got it done. Way to Go Big Brother! He just turned 58 years old. Way to make us all even more proud of you.


We had a water hook up right next to our trailer, so we decided it was time to give the truck and trailer a good washing. They look pretty good when they are clean.



When we first got to Oregon, I noticed that a place called Washougal, Washington was just across the Columbia river from where we were staying. Why is that important? You ask… Well, that is the site of a famous (in my world) outdoor Motocross Track. They have a race each year at this track that is part of the National MX Championship Series. I have been to Supercross races, which are the indoor version of MX, but never to an outdoor national. I mentioned that to Kim and she suggested that I make it my birthday present and we should go. As we traveled through Oregon, I kept that in the back of my mind, but the places we wanted to go took us to the center of the state. I looked at it when we got to this campground and it was a 3 hour drive. I decided to go. It was going to rain, so Kim decided to stay with the trailer.

I got up very early (for me) on Saturday morning and headed north. I arrived at the track in a light rain.


You can see the low clouds in this picture. The venue is beautiful. More beautiful than it looks on TV. These shots are for my riding friends. The elevation change on this track is insane. This is a huge uphill just after the start.


It looks flat in this picture, but believe me it is a cliff with a jump in the middle. I stood there and talked to a guy who’s son had qualified for the main earlier in the day. I did not get his name but his son is on #715 Kele Russell and finished 27th out of 40 in the second moto. We spent some time talking about the famous dirt and the track overall. Nice guy.

I tried to get some action shots, but the darkness and the fast riders made it difficult. Here are a few bad pictures to get the feel of this awesome place. Here is eventual 2nd place Justin Barcia hauling the mail. He is approaching a cliff jump. At the base it splits into two lines. It was my favorite part of the track.


This shot from the other side.



Then the split, where the 250’s were decided by an aggressive pass.


Here is eventual winner Ryan Dungy airing out his KTM over the big triple.


The rain picked up just before the first moto and the guys were riding in some deep mud. You know it is slick when the best riders in the world are struggling. Then the rain stopped and the track got tacky and the second moto’s were fast and awesome as the guys were able to get more aggressive. Here are a few more shots of the venue:




It was an awesome day for me. I know many of my readers don’t care about all of this, but to me this was a very special day and it was made better by my favorite brand (KTM) doing very well with a first in the 450’s and second in the 250’s.

If my day had ended right there it would have been an excellent day. But, I had to drive the three hours (or so I thought) back home. I knew it was going to be slow, so I waited in the parking area for a while to let it thin out. I have a little issue with patience and Kim would have been proud of me (at this point). After about 45 minutes, It looked like things had thinned out, so I got in the truck and started out. I got out of the parking lot in about  15 minutes and I was thinking this is going to be great. Then I drove for about 10 miles in the wrong direction because the police were directing everyone that way. I then turned on to Highway 14 that runs along the Columbia River. The traffic was still pretty heavy, but moving along. And then it happened!

The road department in the State of Washington decided today was the perfect day to close one lane and use a pilot car to slowly move traffic in each direction. It was unbelievable. The line of cars stretched on for miles. It took me over 2 hours to get through that section. As the song says. “ I am not a patient man and my patience had reached its end.” or something like that.  From then on my day went downhill, but I finally made it home at 10:30. What should have been three hours was more like 6. It was a long day. Oh well, I can laugh now – kind of.

We now have just one more day and then it is a move to central Oregon. One more step on our way back to the place of my birth to meet my parents. It will be the first time I have been back in that area with my parents since I was about 10. I am looking forward to them showing me around. We found something in Central Oregon that is very cool. I will tell you all about it in one of my next entries.

Take time and opportunity for those important things in your life.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Cascara Campground, Oregon


On July 20, we had to move. We will be joining my Mother and Father in South Central Washington in a few weeks, so we decided we should start heading that way. We reluctantly left the cool comfort of the coast and headed inland to Eugene and then up to Fall Creek Recreation Area. We were looking for a place in the Eugene area to hang out for a few days. We selected Cascara Campground because it is a first come-first Serve Campground. When we arrived, we were the only campers in the park. That is not that abnormal for a Monday, but this was a very nice park.

We found out later that there are a number of other campgrounds further up the valley that are free, but they would not fit most RV’s. This park is kind of expensive for no hook ups at $18, but we really like the quiet.

We talked to the ranger for a while and the selected site #9. We were there 5 minutes when we saw this wild turkey. He unfortunately had a injured leg.


He also did not seem to be concerned about us getting close to him. That would be the only time we saw him while we were at this place.

The first morning, we got up to temperatures in the low 50’s. We slept great. It got warmer in the afternoon, but with full shade, it was nice.

I decided to go for a walk and see the lake. The lake is very low due to the drought. There is a creek called of all things “Big Creek” that feeds this side of the lake. The is a nice rocky canyon feeding down into the lake.


The rock outcroppings are very interesting.




Clearly volcanic in nature. I then took a walk along the edge of the creek where the lake usually is.



I would bet this is a nice lake when it is full, but now it is a barren waste land. There were a number of large stumps that were left in the lake bed. Erosion is clearing out the dirt and rocks creating what looks like sculptures.


Maybe you have to use your imagination to say it looks like a sculpture, but I have a pretty good imagination.

We decided to stay for a week. I got my bike out and did some riding to get some exercise. It was a very relaxed week, but I feel like we are back in our routine and recovered from this frantic pace when Shannon and Brian were here.

I have been thinking about a big outing for Saturday, July 25. It would be a bit of a drive, but I am thinking about knocking off one more thing on the bucket list. Come back to hear all about it and see some very different pictures.

Have a great start to your week.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Carl G. Washburne State Park


I thought I would do a final write up on this great place on the Oregon Coast. Carl G. Washburne State Park is a great place to stay if you are an RVer and want to see the central Oregon Coast for many reasons. We spent July 6 to July 19 at the park and we loved it.

As we travel around the country, we hate to make reservations. We find that we lose our flexibility if we make a reservation. We end up having to stay on a dreaded schedule which creates stress and may cause us to lose an opportunity to do something we really want to do.

The best thing about Washburne SP is that they do not take reservations. It is all first come first serve. If you get to the campground by mid day, your chances are good that you will find a site. Your chances are very good if it is during the week. That is why we normally travel on a Monday or Tuesday. Once you have your site you can stay up to 14 days. This campground has full hookups at most of the sites. Having sewer is a real luxury for us. We get to take as long of a shower as we want. Heaven on earth! Most of the sites have an area of foliage between them. This is a flower that was in our site.


You can still see and hear your neighbor, but you don’t feel like they are in your campsite. The rate is $31 for each night and no senior or other discounts. That price is high for us, but not bad for staying right across Highway 101 from the beach. The only downside is you have no view of the beach, but in Oregon the weather could be 20 degrees warmer and 20 MPH less wind 100 yards inland. There is no cell signal in the park, but that gives you the excuse to go to the picnic table and watch whales and the sunset.



There are some great hiking trails leading out of the park. We also enjoyed the camp hosts. There are a bunch of them and they are extremely friendly and helpful.

On the last two nights at the SP, we took walks on the beach. The wind was blowing around 30 MPH on the beach, but was minimal at the picnic table and less in the campground. We were out there at low tide and we saw some strange things. First was the number of jellyfish. There were millions of them. They covered the beach in a 10 yard area just up from the low water.


On this section of beach there is a sand bar just off shore created by a creek that flows into the ocean just north of the campground. At low tide the water was creating some strange waves that were zipping along parallel to the beach. I tried to shoot a movie of it, but it is kind of hard to see. 

It is now time to move on. We used up our 14 days and are ready to see what else Oregon has for us. We are headed inland to the forests and mountains. We have a site picked out just east of Eugene. Come back to see what that site looks like. OK, one last set of pictures from the beach. No sunset on this night.



This is the Oregon coast.