This summer it is becoming obvious that Jeanette and I are developing a new RV lifestyle, that is new to us. I'm sure there are lots of RVers out there already using their RV in this way. With the purchase of our smaller Leisure Travel Van this spring we are using it in a different manner than past motor homes. The lifestyle that I speak of is one that is not so much tethered to a campground or RV park, but rather has the flexibility to enjoy our day in scenic areas of choice, and then at the end of the day seek out a place to just park for the night.
Wapiti RV Park & Campground
This week's trip to the Oregon Coast Thursday thru Sunday, to escape the heat of the inland valleys, provided a graphic example of this new lifestyle. We had booked a campsite for three nights at Wapiti RV Park, but on the second day a wedding party of 250 started pouring into the park for their 2-day event. We got a refund and were out of there. We drove to a shady parking-lot for a snack and considered our options. As luck would have it earlier we had come upon a free parking spot at a harbor during our morning birding excursion, so that would became our nights destination and we spent the remaining afternoon and dinner at a scenic location.
undisclosed harbor parking spot
The next day we choose to spend at Yaquina Head Outstanding Nature Area, a BLM managed area north of Newport. There we hiked and birded, lunched, napped, and ejoyed the scenery. When the fog moved in late afternoon we journeyed on to the Walmart parking lot. Dinner, free WiFi, and reading filled out the evening.
Yaquina Head Outstanding Nature Area
With all the conveninces of life on board the van, with no need for hook-ups for water and electricity for several days, and only the need of a parking space, we are free to roam and enjoy. To quote traveler extrodinaire Ed Seajack - "take joy in your day".
We spent the day hiking and birding on Marys Peak yesterday. Jeanette and I both carry small hand clippers with us which came in handy while hiking the Meadow Edge Trail from the campground. We actually enjoy helping out a little to make trails better. Unfortunately I have to report that the campground and trails all show a staggering amount of neglect on the part of the Siuslaw National Forest. Blow downs forced us to abandon hiking on the Summit Trail. Signage is almost non-existent. The campground looks like a war zone. And why would you chose to log in a campground? ---- but I digress, we came to escape the heat of the Willamette Valley, and it was a perfect plan. It got as warm as 72, while the valley hit 92. We hiked and birded, had lunch, I worked on bird lists and photos and took a nap, then we hiked and birded some more. Because we had the van we stayed on the upper parking lot and had dinner, all the comforts of home. Below are a sampling of the wild flowers we enjoyed. It's the first time in years that I took more flower photos than bird photos.
We took a little one-night trip to Hebo Lake, high in the coast range, for a little outing and a break from the heat in the Willamette Valley. It has been 45 years since I last camped at Hebo Lake, so I was a little uncertain at what I would find. But it turned out Hebo Lake is still a some what overlooked destination, used only by a handful of fishermen, campers, and hikers. The campground and picnic shelter were originally built by the CCCs in 1937. There are only a dozen camping sites scattered around this small lake of less than three acres, but we were lucky enough to snag site #2, which has the most commanding view of the lake. A twelve dollar camping fee, means we only paid six dollars with our Senior Pass. There are no hook-ups, Verizon cell service was adequate at two bars, and TV was limited to three Public Broadcasting channels. To reach Hebo Lake high on the side of Mt Hebo, you need to turn at the small town of Hebo and climb 1600 feet in four and a half miles. Our Mercedes powered Free Spirit climbed it with ease, and the six-speed transmission held us back well on our returning descent. The quietness of the setting, the deep shade, and cool temps were more than we could have hoped for. All of which gives us confidence that many more mountainous destination are in our future.
It's difficult some times for Jeanette and I to discern the difference between work and play in our lives. The last three days are a good example of that dilemma. We set up a few days of camping with friends Don and Mary Schultz during our volunteer Plover Patrol assignment at Nehalem Bay State Park. Don and Mary pulled their Airstream trailer down from their home in Stanwood Washington, and we drove our Leisure Travel Van from Salem, and we shared ajacent camping sites in the B loop campground. Don and I have recently reconnected. We were in grade school together in the Golden Valley School, a one-roomed country school-house east of Lebanon Oregon. The eighth grade class was made up of myself and Don's sister Pat. The seventh grade class was made up of Don and my sister Nancy. The four of us made up the "big kids" of the school. Don and Pat had a little sister Vicki who was in the first grade, and Nancy and I had a younger sister Kathy who was in the fifth grade. We all walked the gravel road to school and back each day. If I remember right, only about six other students filled our the school. The Schultzs and we arrived at Nehalem Bay on Monday and began immeditately recalling old memories of 62 years ago. We shared meals and got in some nice walks and got caught up on the events of our lives these many past years. This morning, on Wedsnsday they went with us on our four mile hike on the beach to do our Western Snowy Plover survey. It was great to show them "our" beach and explain a lot about birds and in particular plovers.
Buster our dog, pleads for a walk every morning, so we always make it a combination Buster/birdwalk, that way everyone is happy. This morning for our walk we chose one of our close by favorites when we are home in West Salem, Darrow Bar on the Willamette Greenway. It is kind of a seasonal favoirte because in the winter it can be quite muddy. Chuck Kinkaid the local volunteer caretaker has pleaded for years to Oregon State Parks for gravel. It now looks as though his prayers are being answered. This morning we noticed streaches of the trail covered with nice new gravel. I'm sure more people than just us will appreciate it this fall and winter. Besides enjoying the trail and the beauty of the woods we got a pretty good bird list collected, you can see our list here.
For the third leg of our one week tour of Central Oregon we choose a couple of small campgrounds in the Cascades. The first night's stop was Cold Springs Campground, a Deschutes National Forest Campground located a few miles East of the town of Sisters on the McKenzie Highway. Sheltered by towering Ponderosa Pine and shimmering Aspen, it has 23 sites. All were full save the last one #23, which we quickly took possession.
It was paridise for a hot afternoon and we settled in to enjoy with the babbling brook beside us. I spotted a touring bicyclist circling through the campground, knowing there were no sites and knowing it was late on a hot afternoon, we offered to share our site. He had just climbed over the McKenzie Pass and was grateful for a place to camp for the night. He had started two days before in Eugene after flying in from his home in Colorado and was riding to Bozman Montana where he would catch a plane back to Denver. Of course we had touring tails to exchange and tips to offer for his route through the Ochocos.
Our next nights stay was at the Lost Lake Campground near the Santiam Pass. This is a Willamette National Forest Campground, and like most is without hookups. It's a pot-hole filled road around the lake, but we were determinded to check out all the camping choices. We settled on #13 which was shaded with a nice view.
One of the features we enjoy about our new van is the screened back, which allows us to open the rear doors and let the breeze blow through. Jeanette has also added a screen for the sliding door, and will be adding screens for the driver and passenger doors. Regular cost for a site are eight dollars, we paid four dollars with our Senior Pass. Dinner was free as it was left overs from our casino dinner.
Lost Lake essential almost drys up every summer. In general, I think no body knew why. But in recent years there has been found drain holes that allow the water to escape. The thinking is that in winter these underground lava tunnels perhaps freeze and allow the lake to fill. The same senerio applies to near by Fish Lake. The annoying thing is that this information has been in the newspapers and on TV and we had a stream of visitors. We were actually the only people camping there, but we had people driving through the campground even after eight o'clock at night, and again the next morning, all wanting to see this wounder of nature.
After leaving Crane Prairie Reservoir, out next area of concentration was Collier Memorial State Park for a couple of days, June 24-25. We love this park from the many past visits for volunteering, and especially the birding. Arriving at the campground mid-morning we decided it seemed too crowded and went to plan "B", which would be an overnight stay at the casino. That decided it left us free to hike and bird the trails of the park.
Parking the van in the vistor area of the campground we set off to hike the Williamson River Loop Trail. It was great to hike old familiar trails and remember previous bird sighting. Above is a phot of a Red-breasted Sapsucker with a nice bug, probably on it's way to feed some young ones. Click here for our observation list. For a shady lunch spot we drove over to the Spring Creek Day Uses area of Collier, and had lunch, rested walked some more and rested some more.
Driving on to KLA-MO-YA Casino, we found a shaded parking spot that was just perfect for the night. After some relaxing time and some catch up time on the computer we had dinner in the casino. We had enough left over for a dinner the next day, so for sixteen dollars we had overnight camping and two meals--hard to beat the price.
The next morning we could think of no other place we would enjoy birding than Collier, so back to the park for a second round of birding focused on Spring Creek. A more beautiful location to bird is hard to imagine. Among the birds we enjoyed were this mother Common Merganser with twelve babies.