Sunday, June 30, 2019

Quiet Times in the Cascades

June 19-25, 2019
Idanha, Oregon

Some of the sweetest spots we've found are those put on our route "in between" places we plan to see. Idanha (eye-DAN-uh) is one of those. 

River Mountain RV Park is a small park along the Santiam River. We aren't able to get completely level on the gravel and grass site, and the trees block our satellite, but we really like it here! The sound of the river, the light breezes, the peace and quiet - this is a beautiful place.

Our arrival is delayed while the river below the bridge is stocked with fish from this hatchery truck. A first for us - very dramatic!
There are two main rivers here, and the lovely Detroit Lake. During our week's stay we don't find anyone who's catching on the river. Still, we find some beautiful places during our scouting drives. Moss covered trees and rocks add a quiet enchantment.

Tree-covered mountains surround Detroit Lake.

Breitenbush River

A lone sail on a sunny Saturday.
Bill spends a morning fishing on the lake without any luck, while I clean house. I replace the parts on our dinette storage space, but unfortunately it doesn't solve the problem. So not a "productive" day for either of us :-(

We spend some lazy days around the house, enjoy BBQing and listening to music. We only have a couple neighbors over the weekend, otherwise we share the park with just the hard-working owner and a couple seasonals. It's a laid back place, not yet bustling with summer crowds.

Sunday we decide to make the drive to Elk Lake. There's only one sign but our GPS takes us up the very rough and rocky dirt track to the crystal blue natural lake. The one guy fishing catches a trout when we walk by, says it's the first fish he's caught. We're starting to see a pattern......

Much rougher than it looks - 12 miles of ruts and roots and holes.

Lots of these strange flowers along the road. I swear they all turn to look at us as we get closer!

Elk Lake

Small trails from the primitive campground lead to the water's edge.

A sunny meadow beside the lake.

Rhodies look so delicate in the wild.

Long vistas from the top.
Edit: Can't believe I forgot our last pretty, but "damaging" day on the river!

We find a beautiful place to get down by the river at Whispering Falls Campground. No day use, but we just pay the federal park pass overnight rate of $9 and use one of the sights above the water.

The rock scramble has me sliding down on my butt, and then looking for a better spot to climb out later. This is a gorgeous stretch of moss covered rocks and clear, rushing water. Bill fishes while Tessa and I hike as far as we can. I find a place where she can crawl under the large fallen tree, but when I turn around she's scaling it like a champ! 

The gnarly decent.

Worth the effort.

Watching for gnomes.

Pretty but no love.
A couple trout follow Bill's lure but never bite, probably having fallen for that before :-) When we talk with the camp hosts later in the day we learn they've been there a month and not even seen a fish. We had such high hopes when we arrived behind the hatchery truck a week ago!

The simple artistry of a smooth log.

Churning rapids on both sides of the calm pool.
I find a much easier exit trail, but before we can get to that Bill misjudges the climb over the large log and takes a nasty tumble off the side into the rocks. Fortunately nothing is broken, and there's no knot on his head. His shoulder hurts a lot but he's a tough old bird :-)

The scene of the crime - he fell onto those rocks. Standing in the sand, the log comes to my arm pit.
Whispering Falls on the other side of the river, easier to hear than to see.
We still have a few days before our planned meet up with friends in Newport. Although the fishing has been a bust, we're loving Central Oregon so we'll make one more stop before heading to the coast.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Exploring the Diversity of Central Oregon

June 12-18, 2019
Redmond, Oregon

Continuing our trek inland, we take a very pretty 2.5 hour drive on Hwy 126 to Redmond, Oregon. 

Blue rivers and lakes break up all the miles of green forest.

The start of our week with a view of many beautiful snow capped peaks.
Well it would have been 2.5 hours if we hadn't spent an unplanned hour along the side of the road just outside of Sisters :-(

Bill stays with Tessa in the rig while I drive to the closest Walmart to pick up DEF. Without warning the gauge went from half-full to all-empty, and all the accompanying pings and red lights provided the expected sense of urgency to stop - right now! 

As nerve-wracking as all that is when you're driving, it's reassuring that the motor home isn't going to let me blow up the engine - it will turn itself off before that happens. Gratefully this all occurs where there is room to pull over safely (no pull-out, but a wide shoulder), and within 30 minutes of some place we can buy DEF. Would have been so much worse just ten miles back on the narrow and steep mountain section!

Our unplanned stop is in a beautiful area.

An hour later, we're back on the road!
We'll get the gauge looked at when we're at a shop; in the meantime we'll definitely check the levels visually on a regular basis. Just a short blip on an otherwise beautiful travel day.

RV parks near Bend and Sisters, Oregon, can be pricey so staying at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds is a reasonable and very nice option for us. Concrete and asphalt with green space throughout, this is a clean and quiet park. Although it backs up to a busy fairgrounds/expo center, we never hear anything from the several events going on.

I can't imagine ever getting "used to" the amazing beauty of so many snow-capped volcanic peaks surrounding this area. After several days we can name all of them :-)

Thanks to Mona Lisa we have this cool app that names the peaks we can see!
To help us "feel better" after our harrowing roadside experience we have an early dinner at Madeline's Grill, and finally find really, really tasty Mexican food with delish margaritas in Oregon! We return again before we leave the area.

This one serving becomes three meals - all so good!
The surrounding volcanoes mean a lot of fantastic geology to explore. The Lava Lands Visitor Center is a small interpretive center, and a good place to start. Groups of cars are "tagged" to drive to the top of Lava Butte and our timing is perfect. When we arrive, someone has returned their tag and we get it to join the next group. A clear day, the large lava flows are visible for miles.

Lava Butte
All the dark space is lava flow.

The short, but very steep climb to the viewpoint. 

Overlooking 150' deep crater with big views.
We cross the Deschutes River several times.
The Large Obsidian Flow
Large black glass rocks - nature always has something different to show us.
Paulina (paw-line-a) Peak is still closed with snow.

Paulina Lake

A family of ducks on East Lake 
Dear friends Jim and Diana spent time as interpretive hosts at Prineville Reservoir two years ago, and I remember that it sounded like a great area. We make a day trip of it, and fall in love with the natural beauty. At over 150,000 acre feet of water, this is a good size lake. Two campgrounds and a couple day use areas provide access to the main body. A dirt road takes us through the Wildlife Management Area - a stunning haven of inlets, tall grasses, rock outcroppings and hardwood trees. 

Prineville Reservoir

Other than bumble bees and dragon flies, this pretty pelican is our only wildlife sighting.

So peaceful here.

We find our way to the geographic center of Oregon - Post has a small market, and of course a post office :-)
We're all having a good day!
The Cascades Scenic Byway is 66 miles through mountains, forests and pretty blue lakes. The weather on Sunday is perfect, but it's also Father's Day so we find crowds at the most popular places. 

Although we don't visit Bend, I do make a solo visit to the quaint little town of Sisters. Four blocks of cute eateries, galleries and local stores, it's a fun place to spend a few hours. I find the Imagination Gallery, showcasing the amazing art of Ken Scott. His creative magic is unique, and I spend over an hour enjoying the space. I'm fortunate to meet Ken, and find him humble and warm, and sincerely delighted to share his artistic gifts. Living in a small space with no wall space I never bring home artwork. Until now. The delightful little butterfly flits and flutters, and makes me smile.

Before heading to Sisters, Bill and I have breakfast just down the road from the park at the Original Pancake House. My first Dutch pancake with butter, lemon and powdered sugar - looks weird, tastes like nirvana!

I considered trading the Jeep for this exquisite carriage,

or maybe this gnarly chariot instead!

His lamps are all different and stunning.

Isn't she cute?
Our last day we head to Warm Springs with stops at Smith Rock State Park and Lake Simtustus. We continue to enjoy warm temps and light breezes under clear blue skies. 

You never know what you're going to see in a parking lot.

Pretty views along the rim trail in Smith Rock State Park'

Popular with rock climbers.

A small arch at the top.

So handsome.

Lake Simtustus is a narrow reservoir between two small dams on the Deschutes River.
The many-layered geology surrounding Warm Springs Reservation. Just as wonderful is the fry bread we find at a roadside stop - so fresh and yummy!
We didn't spend any time in Bend, didn't even partake at the popular breweries, so we'll definitely be back. This is a new area of Oregon for us, and just like the other places we've visited in this diverse state, we loved our time here. 

There's so much to love, we'll continue north to spend a week near Lake Detroit.