On Tuesday, September 5, it was time to head over to Bothell, Washington, and the Puget Sound area to have a nice visit with family for a few days. We retraced our steps on WA-20 back to Rockport, then turned south on WA-530, which turned west at Darrington. We stopped for lunch at the Pizza Factory in Arlington (okay), then took WA-9 south. The last leg was a cut over to Bothell where we landed at Lake Pleasant RV Park. Our early arrival gave me time to run a couple of errands, including sorting a few things out with Verizon, before we settled in for the evening.
On Wednesday, MW started the day with a walk to Woods Coffee. Later we picked up Sandy and headed over to check out the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. The canal where they are located was originally used to float logs from Lake Washington to Puget Sound. Chittenden, who was the engineer for the bridges and roads in Yellowstone National Park and other large projects, changed that. Today his vision is an incredibly beautiful place with gardens everywhere. It didn’t start that way, though. From the completion of the locks in 1917 to 1931, it was just a grass and gravel extension of the original lock construction area. Then in 1931, the Corps of Engineers hired a gardener named Carl S. English, Jr. Over the next 30+ years, he collected specimens from around the world and transformed the area little by little, into a beautiful English garden. We checked out the Visitor Center and got information about the next tour, then walked out to the locks. This is the boundary between the fresh water of Lake Washington, Lake Union, and Salmon Bay and the salt water of Puget Sound. The locks, while allowing ships/boats to pass, keep the two waters from mixing in a pretty cool way. Salt water is heavier than fresh, and the sound is 26′ lower than the bay. So, they built a permanent wall just slightly above the high water level of the sound. When they fill the lock with fresh water to raise the boats, the salt water stays at the bottom and never mixes with the bay water when the gates are opened. On the off chance that any salt water does pass into the bay, it will naturally sink into a man-made trench to be pumped back to where it belongs. I thought the whole thing was fascinating. Everything from kayaks to giant ships pass through these locks, which can raise/lower them in just 10-15 minutes. I was excited to see schools of salmon in there, too.
Across the boat lanes, though, is the star attraction in my view. In this part of the world, you can’t have a dam or lock without accounting for how salmon, sturgeon, and other fish can get around it, and that’s where fish ladders come in. The first one here was built in 1917, and replaced in 1976 with the new one and the viewing gallery. You may recall that one of the things we missed out on in Alaska and the Yukon was seeing the salmon jumping up the ladders. We wouldn’t have expected to see any here so late in the season, but Sandy had been to the ladder with a friend the weekend before. We quickly saw a couple of harbor seals hanging out nearby, which is a good sign that there are plenty of fish. Neither of us were prepared for how many, though. There were, no kidding, THOUSANDS of salmon swimming around the entrance to the ladder. The mix of Chinook and Coho were jumping out of the water and swimming into each other. It was amazing! You can also see Sockeye earlier in the season. Inside you could see them swimming through the system, and for the first time, we actually saw some jumping one of the 21 steps (they can also swim under if they choose). Too cool! We didn’t see it, but the Park Ranger caught sight of a Sturgeon earlier in the day, too.
When we got back over to the Visitor Center, we still had a bit of time before our tour. MW walked down to the Lockspot Cafe at the park entrance and picked up a hamburger and fries. (He said the burger was good. Sandy and I helped him out with the latter, which were very tasty.) Then we stayed for the talk portion of the tour and watched the film about the locks before heading home. If you are in the area, this is a truly nice place to spend an afternoon.
Thursday and Friday we finished a few chores around Petunia, got the laundry done (Eastside Maytag Laundry in Kirkland – two thumbs up), and ran errands around visits with Sandy. We checked out a couple of her suggestions for meals: 1) The Maltby Cafe for breakfast in Snohomish on Friday, which has won quite a few awards around Seattle for “best breakfast”. We could definitely see why. The food was fresh and delicious, but the cinnamon roll, which Sandy said we could not miss, was the star. It was almost as big as the one on the Klondike Highway in theYukon. Seriously, 5+ people could have shared that thing! 2) The Hook Seafood Broiler in Lynnwood. Well, that wasn’t our first destination. We were headed to a barbecue place across the street, but it didn’t appear to have inside dining. We ended up at the seafood place across the street. It was very good, but barbecue was still on MW’s mind. He decided to walk over and check out the Fat Pig BBQ before heading bak. Turns out it did have a handful of tables inside. Bummer! Of course there was no reason he couldn’t take ribs home with him for supper later in the week, right!? That’s what he did and even shared them with me a few days later. Sandy wasn’t wrong…danged good!
RV ISSUE: Well, not so much an RV issue as an accessory issue. Before we left home last spring, I purchased a LevelMatePro from TechnoRV through Amazon. It is a small device that attaches to a wall surface in our fifth wheel, then tells the app on my phone when it is all level. (We don’t have auto-leveling on the trailer.) Setup wasn’t too bad, and I’ve been using it every time we park. It is great, because it tells me exactly how far a side or the front needs to be raised/lowered, helping to easily determine how far to let the landing gear down. After a long day on the road, I’m tired and need all the help I can get! I LOVED using it, but the battery didn’t seem to last very long. After the first died, I confirmed I had the correct sleep and wake settings. Then a second went kaput. Really?? That’s gotta be a problem. I sent a message to TechnoRV explaining the situation and received a quick reply. After a couple of questions, they decided it was a problem with the unit. They sent a new one out immediately for me to retrieve at a future stop, then told me to wait to send the bad one to them until I crossed back into the lower 48. Their customer service was just terrific, and I’m back to enjoying my little level helper. Seriously, this thing is terrific if you don’t have auto-levelers. Honestly, it would even be good for auto-levelers so that you can see in advance how far the level is off. I’ve been told those systems can only really level within a few inches, and we have been in some places where it was 8 INCHES off!!
Saturday MW picked up a part from Clearview RV first thing. (More on the issue in a later post.) He made it back to the RV before realizing that they had ordered the wrong one. We delayed our plans with Sandy for a little bit and went back up to make the return. Then it was time to head out and enjoy the weather. We picked Sandy up and headed to the Shoreline Farmers Market, which had lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, eggs, meats, a few food trucks, and craft items. They have it every Saturday during the warm months, and it was really terrific. I found some Watermelon Lime Jelly that I had to take home. There isn’t much better in life than a farmer’s market/festival on a beautiful day. Except maybe TWO! Our next stop was the Edmonds Farmers Market. It is similar to the one in Shoreline, but larger with more crafts, similar to a festival. They close off a couple of downtown streets and even laid out some fake grass for little ones to play or picnic on in one area. We wandered around a bit, then popped in to Leftcraft Restaurant & Taproom for lunch…delicious! As the market was winding down, our third bit of joy for the day was beginning…Porchfest. What a great idea! Homeowners that live in the downtown area volunteer their porches for local bands to come play. They scatter them around, so people can walk to hear lots of different music. It was really cool. Friends Rich and Kim had a group on their front porch, so we hung out there, visiting and enjoying their sound until it was time for us to drop Sandy off and head back to Petunia.
The drive on Sunday was not going to be great…a LOT of interstate time. We headed out about 8:30 AM, south on I-5, praying that the traffic through Seattle would not be bad. While it did get a little thick, we were pleasantly surprised. At Federal Way, Washington, we stopped in at Biscuits Cafe for breakfast, then stopped at a couple of RV dealerships south of there in Fife and Puyallup to browse a bit. We continued south on WA-507 and hit I-5 again at Centralia. There we stayed, except for a side-step around Portland, all the way to Salem, Oregon. The last leg was OR-22 east, which took us through areas scorched in the Santiam fire (when the Lionshead and Beach Creek fires merged) in 2020. Almost 400,000 acres and portions of Detroit and Gates were burned before it was under control. Lucky for our destination, Detroit Lake State Recreation Area, the fire stopped right at the edge of the campground. Wow! We were setup by about 5 PM and happy to enjoy the evening outside.
Monday we headed into Salem for a bit of shopping, finally finding okra and lima beans at the Safeway. MW found the part he needed at Roberson RV Center, where we also browsed a little bit. After lunch at Chick-fil-A, we headed back, stopping to take a look at the dam on Detroit Lake. In the evening we had a little planning session for an upcoming USNA AA RV Chapter gathering we will be hosting. We’re crazy, right??!!
Detroit Lake State Recreation Area is near the small community of Detroit and about an hour east of Salem, Oregon. Amenities include a Visitor Center/store, several bathhouses, boat ramp, amphitheater, picnic areas, horseshoe pits, basketball court, volleyball area, swimming areas, playground, and firewood sales. Lodging options include one mini cabin and the campground. Sites are spread out in seven sections in the forest along Detroit Lake. Of the nearly 300 sites, all are back-in with a variety of full hookup, electric and water, and tent with water nearby. Any size rig can be accommodated, and the layout is nice. Cell signal was strong for Verizon, but I didn’t check AT&T. This place was very quiet and peaceful. many of the sites back up to the lake and have terrific views despite the really low water level. We would definitely stay here again. For this visit in September 2023, we paid $92.00 for 2 nights.
Still off of our regular travel pattern, we continued southeast on Tuesday, hitting the road about 8 AM on OR-22. About 20 miles along, we turned southeast on US-20 and passed through Sisters to Bend. There we hit US-97 south and made it to our first stop of the day, Newberry National Volcanic Monument, by 9:30 AM. Newberry is the largest volcano in the lower 48 and sits east of the Cascade Range in Central Oregon. This sleeping giant covers ~600 square miles, has created over 400 cinder cones and volcanic vents, and tops out today at 7,985′. We checked out the Visitor Center and picked our trails, then headed out on the Trail of the Molten Land, an easy mile. In addition to lava fields and flows, the terrain is scrub brush open areas and ponderosa pine forests. I love forests without a lot of underbrush. You can see more, and they make for easy walking. Not much can actually live on the lava, but dirt in crevices eventually grows things like pumice grape ferns and pines that are dwarfed due to the lack of soil to sink roots into. Amazingly, the stunted trees on the lava are much older than the huge 50-year-olds in the neighboring forests. Next we headed to the south section to try out the Big Obsidian Flow trail and drive up to Paulina Peak. The Park Ranger at the Visitor Center said there were “plenty of places” for us to drop a big trailer to make the drive, but after getting frustrated by the tight quarters at a couple of options, we decided to just ease on down the road.
We continued on US-97 and stopped in La Pine for lunch at the Wetlands Taphouse. That was an interesting setup. They sold beer in the main building and had a covered area out back with several food trucks for the food and a bandstand for live music. Not what we expected, but the barbecue was good. After a quick grocery stop, we continued south to Collier Memorial State Park near Chiloquin, Oregon.
Wednesday we left early to check off another national park…Crater Lake. On the way in, a nice-sized Black Bear ran across the road in front of us, and I saw a flock of what looked like grouse/ptarmigan with black stripes on their faces. In a conversation with a hunter later, I found out they were chukar. The Visitor Center wasn’t open yet, so our first stop was at Rim Village for a good look at the lake. It was a gorgeous day, but a little cold and windy around the rim. Crater Lake is just that…a lake in a crater, but this is not just any lake. Located in the caldera of Mount Manama, it is the deepest lake in the country at just under 1,950′. The only water sources are rainfall and snow. It gets plenty of the latter with an average of around 41′ per year. With no sediment flowing in, it is one of the clearest lakes in the world and is a brilliant blue color. While we were taking it all in, I caught sight of an osprey in the top of a tree looking for his next meal. It was so windy that his feathers were blowing all over the place, but his concentration didn’t waver.
Back in Brutus, we headed around the crater on the East Rim Drive, then turned southeast to check out the Pinnacles Trail. The walk was a little under a mile to check out the stone spires. They look a bit like the hoodoos at Bryce Canyon, but different colors. It was pretty neat.
On the way back out to the main road, we stopped for another hike at Plaikni Falls Trial. This one was two miles and steep in sections, but totally worth it. The path took us through an old-growth fir and hemlock forest past rock cliffs and finally to the base of the falls. They are fed with water off of the volcano, which is mostly snow melt passing down through the volcanic rock and re-surfacing as a spring, which becomes Sand Creek. Because of that, we were a little surprised to see it flowing so well in mid-September. It was beautiful, though, and the area still had remnants of wildflowers. I bet it is pretty spectacular in the spring and early summer.
Next we headed back to the East Rim Road and continued north until we reached the turn-around for construction, stopping at the Pumice Castle Overlook. We saw a few deer and more beautiful views of the lake, and we got a nice look at Mount Scott, the highest point in the park at 8,829′. By then it was time for lunch, so after a quick stop at the gift shop, we headed to Annie Creek near the park entrance for sandwiches. Later back at Petunia we kicked back for the evening, then ventured out just before bedtime to see if we could see the Milky Way. There was very little light pollution, and the stars were brilliant, but we couldn’t get out of the trees enough to catch the milky band.
Collier Memorial State Park is located just north of the small town of Chiloquin, Oregon, on US-97. It is within driving distance of Crater Lake National Park to the north and Upper Klamath Lake and the town of Klamath Falls to the south. Amenities include an outdoor museum of historic logging equipment, pioneer village, amphitheater, equestrian and hiking trails, a bathhouse, and dump station. The convergence of the Williamson River and Spring Creek is in the park which provides ample fishing and kayaking/canoeing opportunities. Camping opportunities include a primitive horse camp with two sites with corrals and the regular campground. The latter has two loops with a total of 36 full-hookup sites (9 pull-through) and 18 primitive with water nearby. All sites have picnic tables and fire pits. The plus side to this park is that it is in a pine forest and is pretty dark for star gazing. However, the layout overall wasn’t that good. Sites were closer together than a typical state park, although those on a curve like ours had more space, and the odd setup with the pull-through utilities right on the road made backing into opposing sites difficult in some cases. We would stay again if we had to be in the area, but would be very choosy about the site. For this stay in September 2023, we paid $88.00 for 2 nights. (Sadly, I lost my mind on the pics. Sorry.)
I was REALLY over the quick, 2-night stays, so Thursday found me thankful to be back on our regular Thursday/Monday schedule, at least temporarily. (We enjoy our slow pace!) We hit the road around 7 AM for a LONG, 320-mile day. MW warned me in advance, but I pulled the first “are we there yet” after about 20 miles. He LOVES that! NOT!! It was a gorgeous day for a drive, though. We cut across to OR-140 on Sprague River Road and followed that east through Lakeview and Adel. It became NV-140 at the state line, where we continued southeast to US-95 south, ending up in Winnemucca, Nevada. During the day we left large trees and forests behind and entered huge high desert valleys with plateaus and ridges in the distance. For lunch we stopped at a pullout on top of a high mountain plateau and had tuna sandwiches. The vast, open space was incredible, but it was hot in the sun. We saw a free range donkey that appeared to be just waiting for us to pass by and lots of cattle, too. We were finally set up at the New Frontier RV Park by about 3 PM, where I managed to do a little writing in the evening.
Friday was laundry day, and the campground had a nice facility that was really cheap…$1.50 per wash and $1 to dry! I arrived early and there was one man there. The two large washers were full and already off, which didn’t affect me, but he said they had been off since he arrived more than an hour before me. That is just so rude in my opinion. As I was moving stuff to the dryers, the rude one came in and was a little miffed that all of the dryers were taken. (There were only a few, and it had been at least 1-1/2 hours since her washers had STOPPED running.) She left her clothes in the washers and disappeared again. Another woman came in and loaded up the smaller washers, then returned as soon as they were done. As I emptied my dryers, she filled them, so that all were again running. That’s when Miss Rudy McRudeRude decided to come back. Again denied, she was very huffy. I couldn’t help but smile when yet another person came in with a large amount of clothes and filled the washers. Wonder when the rude one finally got her clothes done? After finishing up, I headed over to McDonalds to sit in a corner and get some writing done. Later MW and I headed out to what was described to us as a must do…The Martin Hotel. It is a Basque restaurant where you are seated at tables with other folks and all of the sides are served family style. They have been serving food here since 1898, and just like then, they still buy local as much as possible. It was REALLY good! Our table-mates were a man scouting hunting locations for a trip later with his son, a woman on the way back home from visiting family in Idaho, and a couple on vacation and headed home to California. The first two said that they make sure they hit Winnemucca on the right nights to dine here. I don’t blame them.
SIDE NOTE: There was a news blurb in my feed this morning that has me a little puzzled. Seems that NASA released a 36-page report on “unidentified anomalous phenomena” (what you and I call UFOs) that said there is no evidence that anything sighted up until now is of extraterrestrial origin. It went on to say: “Additionally, NASA announced the appointment of a director of UAP research.” Wouldn’t that be the X Files? And if there is nothing to the “UAPs”, why are we paying a department of people to research them?! ‘Cause you know a director isn’t doing any actual work.
Saturday I did some more writing in the morning, then we headed over to Wingers, in the casino next door for lunch…pretty good wings and burgers. Next we headed over to the Visitor Center, which turned out to be a small office downtown in the Convention Center without much to offer. The facility also houses the Buckaroo Hall of Fame, and a pretty cool animal display, but the place had been rented out so we could only see a small part of it.
Our next stop was the Humboldt County Museum for a little local history. A few things I learned: 1) The first non-native people to come to the area were beaver trappers. 2) There is only one natural east-west waterway across the Great Basin, and that is the Humboldt River. 3) From 1841 to 1869 as many as 250,000 people traveled the California Trail, which ran along the Humboldt River. Probably the most familiar name in that group was the Donner Party in 1846. After a dispute between wagon master James Reed and teamster John Snyder, the latter was banished from the wagon train. That was fortuitous for some of the remaining train members. Snyder made it over the Sierra and ended up leading multiple rescue efforts to save the surviving members. That whole story leaves a bad taste in your mouth, doesn’t it? 4) The largest industry in the area is gold mining. They also mine silver. 5) Chief Winnemucca, for which the town is named, was born a Shoshone. He became a Northern Paiute of the Kuyuidika band after marrying the daughter of Old Winnemucca. His actual name was “Winnemucca the Younger”, which was bestowed upon him by his father-in-law. 6) In excess of $32,000 in gold was stolen from the First National Bank of Winnemucca on September 19, 1900. The culprit was said to be Butch Cassidy and crew. Their leader purportedly added to the embarrassment by mailing a thank you note back with a photo of he and the boys in fancy new clothes bought with the ill-gotten gains. Sadly, although the robbery did happen, Butch was never there. Some of the Wild Bunch were definitely involved, though. 7) Thanks to hundreds coming to work on the Central Pacific Railroad, Winnemucca had a vibrant Chinatown. It was well-known enough that Sun Yat-Sen, a future Chinese president, visited on his western tour during the Xinhai Revolution. Interestingly, from a first-hand account, of the ~400 Chinese who lived here, only FOUR were women! Those poor ladies. Can you just imagine?! 8) The Basque culture figures strongly in the town’s history. They came to raise sheep in the mid-1800s. Today there is a Basque Festival every year to honor their history.
In addition to the main building, there are a few historic buildings that have been moved to the property. After we finished looking around, we drove up into the hills on Water Canyon Road to check out the views. I’ve been wanting to learn to photograph the night sky, and we were going out stargazing, but the clouds moved in and spoiled the plan. Bummer.
Sunday we headed out for a little learning and worship at Lighthouse Baptist Church. There Josh, standing in for the regular pastor, preached a wonderful message from Ephesians 5:15-21. Afterwards we had lunch at The Griddle, a small breakfast and lunch chain that wasn’t bad. That was pretty much it except for some writing.
New Frontier RV Park is on the eastern edge of Winnemucca, Nevada, and convenient to hiking, biking, ATV trails, shopping, and everything in town. Amenities include an office, store, clubhouse, wifi, dog park, fax/copy services, large laundromat, and clean showers and bathrooms. Lodging options include lots of 1-bedroom park models and the camping area. The full-hookup sites are 20/30/50 amp and laid out in the typical diagonal parallel pattern and are paved, level, and very large at 70′-100′ x 30′. Grass areas with trees and picnic tables are between, so you aren’t stacked right up against your neighbor. There are also some back-in, long-term full-hookup sites. Cell signals are very strong, and we picked up quite a few over-the-air TV stations. With its proximity to I-80, most of the RV traffic is just overnight, but the park was remarkably quiet. We would stay again if in the area. For this visit in September 2023, we paid $203.60 for 4 nights.
The next couple of days would be all about “getting there”, which is rarely how we travel but necessary. Monday we spent the entire day heading east on I-80. While the scenery was still beautiful, interstate travel stinks. Interestingly, though, this route across Nevada follows the California Trail, the same path that about 250,000 people used from 1843 to 1859 on their journey to a new life. The trail began at the Missouri River and crossed Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada, covering ~2,000 miles to the Golden State. The trip that now takes us a matter of hours, took them much longer. Can you imagine bumping across this wide open desert at 15-20 miles per day…FOR MONTHS!!?? At Elko, Nevada, we made a quick stop at Home Depot, then found Machi’s Saloon & Grill for lunch. MW’s hot pastrami was good, but my Machi’s quesadilla was more like a giant, soft taco with little flavor. Also, MW saw fried chickpeas on the menu and couldn’t resist. They had the texture of a boiled peanut without the flavor. Not my favorite. Oh well. Back on the road we continued east to Wells, Nevada, where we stopped for the night at the Mountain Shadows RV Park. The day had varied from bright sunshine to cloudy with rain in the distance and desert to crops and back, but had been pretty nice overall. It did blow pretty good and sprinkle a bit while we were setting up, though.
Mountain Shadows RV Park is just off of the highway in Wells, Nevada. It is a small park with mostly long-term residents, but has some sites for transients. Almost all of those are one-nighters just hopping off of the highway. While the park doesn’t have a lot in amenities, it is near plenty of hiking, biking, and fishing opportunities in the nearby Humboldt and Ruby Mountains, plus everything in the small town. Their map shows a laundry, but it isn’t listed on their website, so I’m uncertain whether it actually exists anymore. They do have a dump station, and the bathhouse is old, but clean. Sites are water and electric with picnic tables and are long enough to park most RVs. You might struggle finding a place to put your truck or toad with the really big rigs. For a quick stop, this place was fine and would not be bad as a base for excursions to the mountains or lakes. It’s pretty quiet considering its proximity to the highway. The Verizon phone signal was moderate, but I did not check AT&T. We did get over-the-air TV, too. For this stay in September 2022, we paid $35.91 for 1 night.
Tuesday we, once again, hit I-80 headed east, crossing into Utah at Wendover. We had been this route before, but it is always spectacular to cross the mountains to the west near the state line and descend into the Great Salt Lake Desert. There is a LOT of white with mountains in the distance in all directions. Along the way we passed the Bonneville Salt Flats and the south end of the Great Salt Lake, both of which we stopped at last year. Oh and I can’t forget “Metaphor: The Tree of Life”. This is a giant stick rising up out of the salt flats with lots of giant balls. I guess it kind of looks like a tree. The artist even put a few large segments on the ground to simulate fallen leaves. When it was dedicated in 1986, it was said to be “A hymn to our universe whose glory and dimension is beyond all myth and imagination.” I think that tall order could have been better filled, but you check it out. On this trip, our only stop was for lunch in Lake Point. We tried one place, but the parking was tight, so we settled for Del Taco. Man, it was a lot better than Taco Bell! After that, we continued west to I-15 south and made it to the Mountain Shadows Mobile Home & RV Park in Draper by about 3 PM. (No, not a mistake…we stayed in back-to-back parks with the same name.) Then it was time to relax and be glad the back-to-back drives were behind us.
That’s it for now. Next up…more Utah and into Colorado. See you on the path!!
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