Monday, September 28, 2009

37-2009 Crater Lake and the Land of Umpqua, Oregon


Crater Lake and the land of Umpqua.

Campground.  The Last Resort.  $130/7D Full hookups. Wi-fi available and lots of National Forest scenery.  Including a river pool for swimming and cooling off during the hot summers.

I’m dedicating this issue to a good friend Ione Black who hasn’t been able to read my reports all summer long.  Hopefully Ashley (her teenage granddaughter) has gotten her online to view my stories and pictures. Or maybe to the local library where she can log in herself and view them.

From Reedsport on the Oregon Coast I’m heading inland on hwy 38.  There are covered bridges, lots and lots of waterfalls and lush forests filled with Douglas Fir in the County of Douglas where I, Douglas will be staying for about a week.  I feel sooooo at home.    

Even drove a short distance on hwy 5 which appears to be the only major highway running through Oregon.  It was fairly heavy traffic for the short distance I was on it, but doable.

I then entered what’s called the Land of Umpqua, a native Indian name meaning “ferry me across” or “across the river” as the pioneers would holler out to the Indians, Umpqua, Umpqua, calling to be ferried across the river in their canoes.  Or it could mean “full tummy”.  Our historians must have been asleep in class when they were deciphering the local language.

In any case, here I am in what I would call the heart of Oregon.  A heavily forested land of mountains and hills, rivers teaming with salmon this time of year and fly fishermen everywhere.

My main goal is to get to Crater Lake, so on my second day in the area, I’ve driven the 60+ miles along beautifully paved country roads (though the locals do call 138 a highway).  It’s called a working forest as there are workers cutting timber, maintaining many hydro dams throughout the area and of course lots of campers, hikers and hunters fill the area as well.

Along the way I have a choice to stop and see a half dozen waterfalls and unusual rock outcroppings.  I’m even seeing sand dunes where the roadway has cut through them.  Imagine sand dunes over 150-200 miles inland all covered in thick forests of Douglas Fir, Hemlock and Cedar.

I finally reach the entrance to Crater Lake, $10 to enter per vehicle.  It’s a bummer being single sometimes as I end up paying full price for one person.  I had written a geography report in junior high oh so many years ago about Crater Lake.  And ever since then have wanted to see the place in person.

The entrance is a landscape of pine forests that begin to open up to what at first appears to be alpine meadows, but upon a closer look are mostly barren fields filled with the potash from the extinct volcanoes.  Light wisps of grass growing through the potash.   The road climbs until I reach the first viewing area of the Crater itself.  How exciting to climb up the sandy gravel side of the crater and get my first glimpse of the lake.

The rim of the crater is a shear edge straight down to the lake below and the famous Wizard Island off to one side surrounded by the deepest blue water I’ve ever seen.  I’ve reached another one of those places one just has to see before they die.  It’s the deepest freshwater lake in north America at 1,943 feet which creates the deep blue color.  It’s also considered the cleanest lake in the world.

The crater gets 44 feet of snow each year (528 inches!) and the West, North and East entrances are closed as early as October and the east entrance often doesn’t open until July.  The park is open 24 hours a day year round.  The lakes level is maintained by snow and rain runoff.  No rivers run in or out of the lake.

A boat tour is available for a few months in summer, with a steep decent down the side of the crater on foot.  Less than one percent of the 500,000 visitors ever get down to the lake itself.

Well as I mentioned I’m in the Land of Umpqua and a strange land it is.  I have met some of the campers staying here and some are on the fringe of reality if you ask me.  It all started with the gal next door being overly concerned about the smoke from the forest fires.  After talking to her for a day or so it seems the fires a part of a vast conspiracy (to smoke us out?)  not really sure.  Then today, her and her husband started to talk about the elite people like the Rockefellers and the Vanderbilt’s and Rothchilds and how they are trying to control the masses to their own will.  Like through vaccination shots.  Said she’d never take a flue shot again.  “You know they are even going to stop you along the highways and if you haven’t taken the shot you’ll have to have a band put on your wrist“.  Ekkk!  Even mentioned that the contrails produced by planes have been for years “seeding” the atmosphere with zinc and mercury, criss-crossing the land.  How the military is working directly for the financial houses of the world again to control the masses.

It’s all a bit too much for me to say the least.  Many of the campers actually work in the forest.  At least that’s what I’ve been told.  Working on all those hydro dams and lumber cutting etc. But who knows what they’re really doing in those deep dark forests… hmmmmm  They come and go all hours of the day and evening.

The next day I decided to continue to explore this Land of Umpqua.  This region was occupied by the Southern Molaila, Cow Creek, Yoncalla, Kalapuya and Umpqua Tribes.  What a mouthful and speaking of mouths, each tribe spoke a different language.  Now just think about it for a minute.  Here in a couple thousand acres of land there were at least 5 tribes speaking different languages.  Now suppose the North American continent was as populated as this small area.  How many languages were spoken and what were the real numbers of native Indians in the country before Columbus “discovered” this land.  These tribes were in the area for at least 8,000 years.

I found the Medicine Creek Rock site by browsing the brochures on the local area and forests.  In amongst all the water falls, hiking trails and rivers is this small site with a few pictographs.  These are considered spiritual sites.  This one was off of a forest road, with the tiniest sign indicating where the trail began.  I never saw another vehicle come along this small country road that was at one point a single lane heading up into the mountains.  One of those silent places.  No outside noise, just the occasional bird chirping and the snap of a twig off in the distance.

Nice to be able to hike a well maintained switchback trail through tall forests of old growth pines.  There’s an openness about it because of the huge trees, leaving the ground free of small shrubs and trees like a park yet shaded by the huge trees.  The rock art was heavily disguised by green lichen growing over much of the art.  All of it contained on this huge bolder that had at one time rolled down the side of the mountain, now it’s flat side leaning over creating a shelter of sorts.

Another day of getting in touch with nature.  The airs still smokey from the fires in the area, but it is a reminder that nature grows, builds and lightning burns and a whole new cycle begins again.

The weekend brought lots of fun at the campground.  A pot luck dinner with BBQ chicken and ribs and lots of side dishes.  Mets many of the weekend campers getting away into the country for the weekend.  The campground even had set up an outdoor movie with popcorn and jungle juice.  How cool is that?

Worth getting out there and exploring.  Hope you have the chance real soon.  

and of course more pictures on my Picasa website.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

36-2009 The Oregon Coast

The Adventure Continues.

Oregon Coast

Campground: Fort Stevens State Park. $22 Elect and Water. Nice paved roads and campsites. No digital Tv in the area.

Campground: SurfWood, Reedsport Or. $13.65 per night (Passport America) Full hookup w/cable tv.

After my flight to and from Orlando, I’ve been eager to get back on the open road again, with asphalt beneath my tires. I was hoping to visit with my friends in Seattle one more time, but my sinus attack was still in it’s last days of hanging on and I just didn’t have the oomph to enjoy their great company.

Tom helped me fix my awning arm on my slide out and now I just need to replace the aging awning itself. Whenever I settle down long enough to order the awning replacement that is.

So on Tuesday, I packed up and headed out of Shelton taking the scenic route over to the Pacific coast and down to the Columbia River where I crossed a super long bridge into Oregon. The roads through the Olympia peninsula weren’t crowed and I enjoyed the Washington scenery one last time. Started to get upset over the heavy clear cut logging in some areas along the route I was taking until I read a few billboards put up by one of the big lumber companies indicating that all the trees had fallen down in some severe storms a couple years earlier. Where the trees had yet to be harvested, I could see whole forests of trees bent over to the ground or broken off. Wow, there must be some treacherous winter storms in this area. Huge full grown trees bent all the way to the ground.

Well I drove all of 122 miles the first day back on the road and have landed near the town of Astoria Oregon on the Pacific coast. Lots of Lewis and Clark historical sites as this was the western terminus of their great adventure. Kind of exciting to see the same sights they saw when finally reaching the Pacific Ocean and here I am on my own journey of exploration 203 years later. Exploring the coast line and seaside towns that have sprung up in those 200 years.

At Ft Stevens where I’m staying for a couple of days, I went to the ocean and saw the remains of the Peter Iredale, a ship that was grounded many years ago. Most of it has sunk into the sand but a portion still remains.

There are tons of things to see and do in the town of Astoria, the oldest town on the west
coast. It’s called a little San Francisco as many of the homes are built along the side of the adjoining hills. One thing I really would have like to have seen was the inside of the 1925 Liberty Theatre, but it’s not open for tours. It is one of the last remaining vaudeville houses and the interior is supposed to be quite grand. I did visit the first class Maritime Museum along the Columbia river. One of the displays tells about the 2,000 ships that have sunk along the coast and dangerous Columbia river bar. Also visited the beautiful Astoria Column. Built as a tourist attraction by the Great Northern Railroad.

I even drove back over the Astoria Bridge to visit Cape Disappointment. This was the furthest western point that the Lewis and Clark explorers reached. It was previously named and doesn’t reflect their joy at having reached the Pacific coast. The little town of Ilwaco was closed up tighter than a pickle barrel. It being after that Labor Day weekend after all.

One last note on Astoria, many Hollywood movies have been filmed here, including, The Goonies, Kindergarten Cop, Free Willy and Short Circuit to name a few.

The next day I started the drive down the Oregon coast, hwy 101. A light rain started and continued throughout the morning. Not that it made much difference as the scenery was not at all what I’d expected. These first 100 plus miles were slightly inland and views of the ocean were few and far between. But what I did see where acres of farm lands with some of the most beautiful barns I’ve seen in a long time. Many were large with graceful sloping roofs and small dormers poking out of their metal roofing. The land is richly green with spotted black and while cows grazing in the pastures that climb up the sides of the nearby hills. Signs
warn of possible tsunamis and falling rocks or slide areas. Folks have a penchant for painting their home is the most vibrant primary colors. Solid reds, blues and green painted cedar shingles with white trim.

I decided to drive into the early afternoon rather than stop and get a campsite by noon which is what I usually do. Bad mistake. As even though it’s the middle of the week and also the middle of Sept. the campgrounds along the Oregon coast fill up fast by early afternoon. As one gentleman said, “guess theirs more seniors out on the roads than he thought”. After checking a couple of state parks and private campgrounds, all full up, I was able to get a spot for two nights. I may have to go inland to find a campground on my next part of this journey.

Another note on hwy 101. Starting as I did on the northern end heading south, the road so far has been slow going. It’s a two lane road and winds around many hills and outcroppings. The average posted speed has been 35, 45 and rarely 50 and 55 but only for very short distances. I also noted a number of spots where there was no shoulder or a very sudden drop without the aid of guardrails I had to keep constant vigilance with my driving.

Needless to say, I first day along the coastal hwy 101 did not make a favorable impression on me.

Isn’t it amazing how the next day can bring sunshine, lots of ocean vistas and scenes to die for. And of course that’s just what happened. Early on the fog and mist hugged the shoreline and clung to the thick tall spruce and cedar trees. Sunlight creating shafts of light through the mist and trees. Clearing up, the coast became a magical display of cliffs plunging down to the surf. The roadway climbing high above the ocean along a chiseled path etched in the side of the mountain. Then dropping down through thick forests to once again reveal the ocean scenery.

I had to stop dozens of times to enjoy the scenery and just gawk at the crashing waves slamming against the rocky shore. And if you like lighthouses, this is a trip you’ll want to take as there are dozens along the Oregon Coast. Passing through small sea side towns Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats and Florence. I reached my final destination along the Oregon coast, Reedsport and Winchester Bay. From here I’ll be going inland. But before I do that I’ll take the time to see the Oregon Dunes NP, which I’ve been able to get glimpses of along hwy 101. They also have Elk that graze in the area and I’m looking forward to seeing them as well.

As I found out, there are dozens of state parks along each stretch of the coast that I pass by. So many it would take years to explore all of them.

On a final note, after making reservations inland at the Umpaqua Last Resort, Dustin told me his Mom would be playing jazz at a local resort. I stopped by the Lakeside Resort and had a nice dinner and really enjoyed the great music, a mix of Brazilian, Jazz and tunes from Billy Holiday “Am I Blue”. Got to meet their friends and just enjoy an evening of good music. What a nice way to start the weekend.

Of course you know there are more photos on my Picasa Web site.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

35-2009 Orlando, not a trip report

Orlando (not a trip report, just a visit with old friends)

A five and a half hour flight, a minor delay waiting to get a rental car in Orlando and I was finally settled into my hotel on Tuesday evening.

I got up early and had free breakfast at the La Quanta that I’m staying at. Headed out to get my drivers license renewed. On my way there a beautifully big owl flew super low across traffic lanes, bounce off my windshield, flew over the roof of my rental and landed smack in the middle of the car behind me (that was tail gating me anyway) , windshield. The poor owl then slid off and fell flopping on the side of the road. I don’t think it made it.

At the drivers license bureau it was a simple process where I had to have my eyes checked, picture taken (3 times) and paid the new rate for a license, $48. A few minutes later I had my new drivers license and it’s good for 8 years. Yippee! I understand fees have tripled in Fla. for vehicle registrations and tags.

Did a little investigative shopping. Have you ever done that? First stopped into a Best Buy and proceeded to ask half a dozen sales persons about everything from my Verizon plan, the latest phones and upcoming changes to my air-card plan. Discovered I can get Internet access on my future new phone for only an additional $15 a month. I love electronics so had to check out the latest digital cameras and the new lightweight camcorders. Do I see a new device in my future? Then it was over to the lap top computers to ogle over the latest units available. BB’s prices were not all that great. Next I went to the Barnes and Knobbles book store, not to buy any books (I have enough to keep me in good reading for now), but to check out what’s new and ask more questions about authors. The new Dan Brown book will be out in Sept and I’d love to read it when it comes out. A super nice bookie (is that what you call a book seller?) discussed favorite authors and he turned me on to some authors I’ve never read. Got a note pad and wrote down a ton of good info on authors I might be interested in. Left with tons of good info and it didn’t cost me a cent.

Lunch with former co-workers. What a great get together, Loyd L, Rose S, Kim, John S, Jeff R, Linda, Olive and Fred. A big round table at Red Lobster and lots of good food and conversation that went on for hours.

Stopped into NAVAIR’s Research Park bldg that I used to work in. It was an RDO (regular day off) and with a holiday weekend the place was mostly deserted. Fine with me, I just wanted to take a quick look around and leave a couple notes on friends white boards. Linda showed me the latest on a program called TIERS which I had previously worked on. Nice to see a program taking off and being used successfully.

More get togethers continued throughout the week. Including a visit with my buddies at the Mill. Having a bit of a time with sinus/allergies. Finally had to run out and get some meds for it. My body isn’t used to the heat/humidity and then the cool and damp interiors and of course the afternoon rains.

Stopped by an HHGregg store. First time in one of those stores. Bought a DVD player for all of $12.95. What a deal.

Downtown Orlando has grown. Lots of condos and high-rise apartments…. Most are empty.
The historical fountain in Lake Eola got hit with lightning recently and is no longer working. They don’t know what to do with it. Old, costly to repair. Orlando is spread out and there is still construction going on in the many many gated communities that make up the city.

And then before I knew it, I was back on the plane heading back to Seattle Washington. I came back with a horrific sinus infection which I’m just getting over now. Staying in sick hotels isn’t fun.

This is my last day in the Shelton area and then I’ll be heading into Oregon. I plan on driving down the coast and visiting many of the small sea side towns and villages.