Sunday, October 15, 2017

Enjoying Oregon!

Once we settled into Bend, things seemed to turn around for us.  The sun came out, things warmed up and once again life was good!  Yea!  Our new campground was lovely and a great place to "get things settled".  We needed additional tires, and electrical fixed from the blowout, as well as to just rest up from the experience of it all.  Calls were made, people came out, and things were handled (as best they could, anyway).  There didn't appear to be much to "go and see" in Bend except for Tumalo Falls, so we saved a pretty day for that and took a short drive out to see them (along with hundreds of others, as it turned out!).  They were indeed lovely, but what I enjoyed even more, was the beautiful grove of aspens I found along the way!  Jack was kind enough to pull over to the side of the road for me while I tromped into the woods for a bit and spent about 20 minutes just basking in their beauty while I snapped picture after picture trying to capture it all.  Colorado has nothing on this sweet little grove!  I could have stayed there all afternoon just watching the breeze flicker their cute little leaves so they just sparkled in the sun...

As we drove back to our campsite, the drive picked up several of the trees starting to turn yellow, orange and red...aah, autumn is definitely starting...and even a nice view of Mt. Hood...


We left the following morning for a week in Portland.  Usually we are here for only a couple of day, and usually in the middle of November, so it's nice to come a month early and to be able to spend a little more time actually enjoying the city.  We have friends and a niece here that we visit as well as a couple of "favorite stops".  We tried a new campground this time, right in the city, and it sure was nicer than commuting 45 minutes each time!  Columbia River RV is right by the airport and I was concerned the traffic and the noise would be a problem, but it really hasn't been; we will use this place again!

It wouldn't be Oregon or Washington (your right on the border) if it didn't rain some of the time...so of course it did...but I have to confess, it hasn't been to bad!  We decided to take one of the days and drive out of the city and go see the state capitol, which is in Salem - just an hour and a half away.  Not bad, and we have never been!

When we got there...the sun came out!  ;-)  We missed the tour, so did the "self-guided" one and chatted with the receptionist to learn as much as we could.  It is a pretty simple capitol building without a lot of "fancy" trappings as it was burned down twice before and they decided to use a lot of marble etc. the last time.  I did like the "Woodsman" on the top of the dome (called the drum" because of the shape) though - very different.  And different is what they were after.  They wanted Oregon's Capitol to "stand apart from all the other Capitols...to be "distinctive and different".  Another change they made was having dual staircases, instead of one grand staircase at the entrance.  They felt it was more open and airy adding more natural light to the area.  The drum has 5 windows around it that also enhances this effect on the rotunda and helps shine down on their beautiful murals.

Our last day in Portland we were able to finally enjoy two of their beautiful gardens...the International Rose Test Garden of which Portland is famous for, and the Portland Japanese Garden.  I was surprised to find that the Rose Garden still had so many flowers in bloom.  Being mid October, I expected to see a lot of bare bushes, but was pleasantly pleased to see blooms everywhere!  Nothing like it would be had we been there in April or May...but certainly beautiful for a sun-filled October in Oregon!  Nice!


Portland Japanese Garden was delightful.  I had no idea what to expect.  We lucked out and wandered into a guided tour, thank goodness!  Cheryl spent an hour with us and walked us all around the park and explained each of the 5 areas of the park and shared the philosophy of the design of each area.  It really made a difference knowing the "what and why" we were seeing.  I'll never look at a Japanese Garden the same again!  Absolutely beautiful...


They also had a very interesting exhibit on The Noh Masks of Ohtsuki Kokun...how they are made and their meanings as well as some beautiful silk brocade costumes.

It was a beautiful way to spend the sunniest of days here in Portland!

...on the road to Washington,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

 






Thursday, October 5, 2017

Not always according to plan...

How does the saying go..."best laid plans..."?  Well, they don't always go according to how they were laid out!  ;-)  Here was "the plan"...

We had some extra time and the weather was great, so we decided to leave Pahrump Nevada and head to Portland Oregon on a very s l o w lazy route going through eastern Oregon via the state scenic road instead of the Interstate highway.  One we hadn't been on before, so new scenery, less traffic, no billboards or fast foods etc. to stare at etc.  We could just take our time and enjoy the ride.  We also decided since we had the time, to stay at a campground in an off-the-beaten-path, near a wild life refuge and spend a few days enjoying that area.  I had read that it had thousands of acres of marshes, lakes and grasses that attracted hundred of birds, water fowl, deer and other animals.  I thought it would be wonderful to see and photograph.  Afterward, we could head on to Bend and then on in to Portland.  That was the plan. 

Well, the trip started out ok...full of sunshine and promise.  We almost made it out of Nevada...we were about an hour and a half out from the last town (Winnemucca), in the middle of "nowhere", listening to our audio book, watching the endless view of low shrubs, when all of a sudden...BANG! thud-a-da-a-dud-a-dud... the sound only a blown tire can make...and the smell that only a motorhome blown tire can emit!  Dang.  We slowly pulled over to check it out...yup, right rear inside tire, blown...  So much for choosing a nice back road, now what!  At that moment, we looked up and down the road and couldn't see anywhere to even pull off the road!  We slowly drove, and would you believe it, about a quarter of a mile down the road, in the middle of nowhere, there was a gas station?  Do we have an angel on our shoulders, or what?  Nice big wide pull through area that we could pull around in back and just sit and wait.  We called our handy Good Sam Service people and in two hours (told you we were in the middle of nowhere) two young men came out with two new tires and replaced both right tires (you have to do both) and an hour later we were back on the road again!


Now, by this time, the sun was beginning to set and we still had three hours to get to our campground.  The "scenic byway" turned out to be pretty boring actually...mostly sagebrush, some trees here and there and maybe a half dozen farms/ranches with some cattle.  As it got dark, being on the state road, without industry, there were no lights of any kind, so it was very dark...and we saw nothing for a very long time!  It was a good thing the campground had a lighted sign, or we would never have seen it!  Holly, the manager was super nice and walked us to our site with a flashlight because even the campground was pretty dark!


The next day the temperature had dropped by more than 30 degrees with the wind chill!  It was predicted to rain, so we decided to stay in and just settle in (and pull out our winter clothes).  The following day we ventured out to check out the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.


We picked up their Auto CD and drove around as much as we could, but soon discovered that we must be "in between" seasons.  The summer fowl have left and the fall/winter fowl and animals haven't arrived yet because we didn't see anything!  Almost all the marshes were dried up and  even the lakes were almost a third the size.  Pretty disappointing.  We did get to see the Pete French Round Barn though, which is quite unusual.


The Narrows Campground was really quite nice, with a cute cafe & fully stocked store.  Each site even had individual fire pots and BBQ stands with patios and tables.  I'm sure during the summer when it's warmer, it's quite nice here.  It was just so windy and cold, it even froze the water pipes our last night.  We were ready to leave and head for Bend.


This was an experience...you have them when you full-time like we do.  Just, thank goodness not often! 

...on the road in Oregon,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Battle Mountain Nevada...

Traveling full-time like we do, we've discovered that every town, no matter how small, no matter where, has something to share.

Take for instance Battle Mountain Nevada, where we currently are...I would tell you that "it's in the middle of nowhere".  Wikipedia says it has a population of over 3600 people, but it sure doesn't look it.  It has one high school, one middle school, one casino, one very small hospital, no grocery store to speak of, an Ace Hardware store, a Dollar Store, 3 gas stations, a pretty nice RV park, a couple of small restaurants and one nice museum. Its primary economic base is gold mining.

We stayed a couple of nights here because the RV park was nice and inexpensive and we needed a driving break.  The weather was lovely today, as it has been, so decided to take a drive around town (that took about 10 minutes) to see if there was a grocery store (nope!) and what there was to see, and found this little museum...

Battle Mountain Cookhouse Museum is a sweet museum that shows off various displays of local, Native American and Chinese art and artifacts.  The main building housed everything from late 1800s & early 1900s displays of doctor's equipment to school desks, to rifles to telephones, to a baby measuring tool to typewriters.  A full kitchen was set up as well as a ladies dressing room.


Outside was a wonderful sheepherder's wagon, a tractor, a wooden wagon along with an old coke ad and milk bottling equipment and other old equipment.  The volunteer there said that they have several buildings full of more things that they just don't have the room to display them all and hope to build a Depot & Mining Museum onto the property as well.  They are raising funds now for that.


This town and museum is on the California Trail that went through Nevada, as well as Ely and several other towns we've run into in our travels along Highway 50.  Long history here. 


... on the road in Nevada,  Marie


If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/




Thursday, September 14, 2017

Traveling The Loneliest Road in America...

Several weeks ago I read an interesting article about Highway 50, called "The Loneliest Road in America".  It was really interesting and it intrigued me enough that I told Jack that since we we going to be going through Nevada soon, why not give it a try!

"They say" that you really haven't seen America until you've traveled Highway 50 through the heart of Nevada.  In 1986, Life Magazine dubbed this highway, which follows the original Pony Express Trail through central Nevada, the "Loneliest Road in America."  This stretch of road is also part of the Lincoln Highway, America's first paved coast-to-coast road linking New York with San Francisco.  It's just you and the road.  History, adventure and intrigue.

The towns along the route have really invested in this, creating a wonderful adventure for anyone who wants to participate in it.  They have made "Official Hwy 50 Survival Guide" passports that you get stamped at various towns along the route (then send in the back and get a certificate signed by the governor of Nevada), pins, water bottles, as well as brochures, pamphlets, etc.

When we made our first stop and got our passport, I thought it would be "hokey" and they would laugh at me, but I have to say that at each stop the people were really friendly and super nice.  We had wonderful conversations and even learned a lot about some of the places and towns that we visited.  It turned out to be so much more fun that if we had just driven through without stopping!  We used the stops as "rest breaks" on the long drives and it really worked out well.  Some of the locations along the way, we couldn't stop because our RV was to big to park there, but all in all, it was great.

The drive itself was wonderful because the road was great (since there is hardly in traffic, it's well maintained!) and with almost no traffic, it made driving the speed limit, passing, etc a breeze!

Our views were great too...no billboards, no fast food places to look at, no ugly buildings to see...just lots and lots of "Mother Nature" to enjoy...well, that and a lot of highway!  The very first thing I saw, was a "heart" in the clouds...I thought it was a good omen, and a great way to start our trip!  ;-)


Every now and then, there was a surprise...


Our first night's stay was in the town of Ely.  This brought back fond memories for Jack, so after setting up the rig at our campground, we drove into town to take a look around.  Stopping in at the Visitor's Center to get our passport stamped, Jack asked if they "still had the Silver State Classic Challenge here"?  "Absolutely!  It's going to be here this coming weekend!"  ...and the conversation, shared stories and wonderful memories flowed from there!  Some 23 years ago, Jack and his best friend Steve drove in that race and had a fantastic time, one he has never forgotten about.  It goes from Ely to Las Vegas, with a grand "finals dinner" that night.  (They came in 3rd, in their class ;-)

We left the Visitor's Center and drove over to the East Ely Depot (c1907).  It was closed for the day, but we had fun walking around it anyway.  It's a pretty cool place and they not only do train rides, but you can stay in their caboose and/or bunk house and you can even be an engineer on the train!  Something to come back for, I'd say!


Our next leg of the trip we saw a bit more traffic...we even had a traffic jam at one point when road work was being done...  Phew...a whole 10 minute delay!  ;-)


The next fun stop was in the town of Eureka.  We had to get our passport stamped at their Opera House, and as luck would have it, there was a nice long spot available right along the street outside their building!  The manager there was super nice and told us to check out the building, it dates back to 1880 and "to be sure and go upstairs and down the hall to see all the signatures!"  They make sure everyone signs the walls that performs there!  They also have a "Wall of Fame" of framed autographed photos of everyone too.  Very cool.  What a neat place that was.  See, we never would have seen this place if it hadn't been for that silly passport!


We experienced all kinds of terrain.  Sometimes the roads were flat and straight ahead for miles, and then up we would go, to more than 7,000 feet, curving all the way...then of course, back down again!  There would be times the view would be barren with not much more than some yellow flower on each side, to a forest full of trees.  Every few miles were different.  You never got bored.


Just outside of Fallon, there were two interesting sights, one called the Sand Mountain, it wasn't much of a mountain per say, but what many consider to be one of the best OHV destinations out there.  The reason?  Instead of a sea of sand dunes, there is just one giant mountain to have the best competition hill in the country.  The other oddity was all along the road, where people "wrote" with rocks.  Evidently, they are the Alkaline Salt Flats, and it's "a thing to do" in Fallon!


The end of the line...Fernley.  We met the nicest lady at the Chamber of Commerce to make our last stamp.  She even gave us a couple of water bottles to celebrate our "completion"!  I almost hate for this adventure to end, it's been so much fun!

We will be meeting up with our friends in Pahrump NV for a few days and I can hardly wait to share all this with them and encourage them to take this trip!  (actually, I wouldn't mind coming back and spending a little more time in a couple of the places myself!)

anyway, until then...on the road in Nevada, Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Our last few days in Wyoming...

Leaving Cheyenne, we headed to Rock Springs Wyoming for a few days.  We had heard that this areas was pretty and a great place to explore for a couple of days before heading out of the state.

We made a quick stop in Laramie first, just to see what there was to see.  Our timing wasn't great tho, as a motorcycle group was coming in from doing a fundraising run and ending their trip there, so they closed off several of the main streets for them!  Shops were closed, and restaurants were either full or closed.  ;-(

Oh well, we walked around and took some fun photos of their great murals, peeked into their shop windows and snapped a couple shots of all the motorcycles and chatted with a few of the people from the run, then just headed back out again!


The drive wasn't a total loss, as we had two fun stops along the way.  The road to/from is on I-80, but back in 1881, it was known as the Transcontinental Route, also known as the Lincoln Highway.  There are two memorials dedicated to the building of this highway.  One you can't miss, it's right off the highway, and stands 48.5 feet tall!  It's also on the highest point of the transcontinental route at 8,640'.  It's a bust of Abraham Lincoln on top of a granite pedestal!  It certainly catches your eye!


The second monument you have to drive a bit to go see, but, wow, it's worth it!  It's the Ames Monument, a 60' granite pyramid honoring Oliver and Oakes Ames, the two promoters of the transcontinental railroad.  Built in 1881-82, the monument marks the site of Sherman, a train inspection point before it became a ghost town with the relocation of the Union Pacific tracks.


While in Rock Springs, we took a wonderful drive through the Flaming Gorge Scenic Byway.  What a beautiful drive that was, it certainly lived up to it's name!  This gorge goes through Wyoming & Utah with the dam being in Utah, sending the water through both states and even to Colorado.  John Wesley Powell named the area and after seeing the colors of the gorge, you can see why.  The Green River, which runs through the gorge, is so clear and beautiful, even this late in the summer.

We only saw one boat taking advantage of the lake, but I'm sure on the weekends and during the height of summer, it's kept busy.  It's supposed to be quite the fishing mecca, and one of the ranger stations showed off the record fish for one in Utah.

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves....



It was a great way to end our stay in this beautiful state.  We had visited the "upper portion" of the state before, but never the "lower" part of the state, so this gave us a whole new perspective to enjoy!

Now we will skip through the edge of Utah and head into Nevada for awhile...

...on the road, Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/