Monday morning, June 6, started with me taking a long walk through Tulelake and out into the neighboring farm country. It really is a beautiful area, and very peaceful. At the time I couldn’t figure out what the crops were. One was low-growing with small leaves, which I later learned was alfalfa, and the other was some type of grain or grass (not a good enough pic to identify). Heading back through town, I stopped in at the Jolly Kone for a couple of breakfast sandwiches. It was a neat little place that was part diner, part sewing notions store, and part gifts. While waiting for my order, I found the visor I’ve been looking for to keep my hair out of my face while walking. You used to see them everywhere, but they are really hard to find these days. I finished the last 20 minutes back to Petunia, cooled off, and ate breakfast. Our original plan was to stop at Crater Lake National Park and pick up another flag for our map, but unfortunately, it was still closed for snow. That made it a really short day, so we didn’t need to rush. We pulled out about 10ish, and headed north on CA-139, which became OR-39 just a few miles up the road at the border. At Klamath Falls we stopped to stretch our legs in a couple of stores, then took US-97 north all the way to La Pine. We were still pretty early for check-in, so we stopped at a grocery store in town to walk a bit. Then we went on over to LaPine State Park. We were shocked to find almost every site full. Seriously?! This was Monday! We got everything set up and enjoyed the cool afternoon. Oh, and most importantly, it was BFF Tina’s birthday, so we talked for a while. I sure miss her!
Bookkeeping work and writing had been backing up, and there was no cellular signal at the park. That meant finding a spot to work, so I headed out Tuesday morning. The first stop was Gordy’s Truck Stop, which was very busy for breakfast. They were very nice and stuck me in the banquet room for peace and quiet, though. I had a nice breakfast and got a bit done. It was awesome, until some drunk-acting moron (yes, in the morning) decided to start gambling on one of the machines right across from me. He turned the music on his phone to garbled level, and between that and the machine, the girl with him had to yell to be heard. I surpassed my limit quickly, and moved my operation to McDonald’s down the road. On the way back to Petunia, I picked up dinner for MW at Ponderosa Pizza in Wickiup Junction. He had been enjoying a nice day, including a good, long walk, but not a lot of quiet.
Wednesday started with a 2-mile hike on the park trails. The nights were hitting the low 40s, except Monday night, which was near freezing. It made for some gloriously cool walking. I LOVE the cool weather! After getting back and cleaned up, I headed into town to take care of the laundry at the La Pine Laundromat. The owner was the only one there when I arrived, and I managed to get everything started before the crowd, and I do mean crowd, showed up. It’s not a very large place and is the only one in town. Within a half hour of my arrival, people were waiting in line for machines. Crazy! The owner was a really nice woman who is going to sell out and do some traveling, so we talked a little bit. Once the chore was done, I ran a couple of errands, then headed to the Harvest Depot to get some more computer work done and grab a bite. With the name, I was expecting a little home cooking or local veggies. Nope. What I ended up with was the driest grilled chicken sandwich I’ve ever eaten with a thin piece of chicken that was about 1/2 the size of the bun. I’m not sure what everyone else was ordering, but the place was very crowded, so working there wasn’t an option. I ended up sitting in a corner back at McDonalds for that. When I got back to Petunia, we took a drive around the park to get pics, checked out the McGregor Memorial Viewpoint, and walked the short path down to The Big Tree. The latter is a 500-year-old ponderosa pine that is the largest ever recorded with a circumference of 28’11” and a height of 162 ‘ (although half of the crown was lost in a storm shortening it somewhat). It is quite impressive. I’m not very good at stitching together pics, but I did my best below to show you what it actually looks like at full height. (A few days later I figured out that the panorama on my camera can be changed to do vertical, too. That would have been good to know sooner. Guess I should have read the whole book.). The Deschutes River is very beautiful, flanked by nice, grass banks and tall pines. It would make for a very peaceful canoe/kayak trip. Back at Petunia, we watched a little of The Untouchables series from the 1950s.
LaPine State Park was really nice. Situated along the Deschutes River, it offers 14 miles of good hiking, biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing opportunities on well-maintained trails. The Big Tree, a 500-year-old ponderosa pine, is at the end of a nice, paved walk, and there are several pretty river overlooks. You’ll also find an amphitheater, picnic areas, and pet exercise area as well. A launch is available for non-powered boats, too. Miles off of the main road, there is no traffic or train noise. The crowd made for a lot of “people” noise, though, but amazingly, it immediately went to almost nothing every night just before quiet hours began. Lodging opportunities include campsites and cabins, the latter located on the south loop, some with bathrooms. The campground has 82 full-hookup and 47 electric and water sites and is divided into three loops. The north loop sites are spaced out really well, but the sites are not as smooth and level, did not have sewer hookups, and most were on the shorter side. (You have to park everything on pavement, so your rig and vehicle need to fit or you must park elsewhere. There is a small parking area on each loop.) The Middle and South loops were full-hookup, 50-amp and had plenty of pull-through sites to accommodate larger rigs. Both of these had smoother, more level sites, but were crammed in like a private campground. Each loop has a bathhouse that is easily accessible. The cell signals from both Verizon and AT&T were minimal, and there were no over-the-air tv stations. We would definitely stay again, but would prefer a site on the North Loop. For this visit in June 2022, we paid $128.00 for 3 nights in a full-hookup site.
Thursday we had a longer drive than normal, so we were up and on the road by 7:30ish. We headed further north on US-97 through Bend. North of Terrebonne we stopped at the Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint. It is a pretty little park with terrific views of Crooked River Canyon. The park’s namesake led a trapping party for Hudson’s Bay Company on the first recorded journey into Oregon. He was a big deal in the early fur trade, and was also the rescuer of the survivors of the Whitman Massacre in southeastern Washington near Walla Walla.
Back on the road, we continued north. We passed through Culver, which is the hometown of Colonel Rex T. Barber, a very decorated Air Force aviator who is most known as the man who shot down Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander in Chief of the Combined Fleet of the Japanese Imperial Navy. Why was the Admiral an important target? He planned and led the attack on Pearl Harbor. Colonel Barber is also known for flying a Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star UNDER the old Crooked River Bridge above. We then turned onto US 197 north past Willowdale. We stopped at the Rivertap Restaurant & Pub in The Dalles, Oregon, for lunch, where we both had the Thai peanut chicken wrap…yum! After fueling up, we crossed the Columbia River into Washington, then caught WA-142 through Klickitat and Wahkiacus over to Goldendale, then turned north on US-97, which was stale road, up to the Brooks Memorial State Park. We were pretty tired, so we set up and vegged for the evening. I wasn’t happy to realize that this park also had very minimal cell coverage. Dang! There isn’t a lot to do in the area, so I planned to finish catching up here.
Friday morning I woke up with a migraine, so I was slow getting started and not interested in walking. Later, after everything leveled out, we headed into Goldendale to run a couple of errands. On the way we stopped at the St. John’s Monastery Greek Bakery for a quick recon. Then we hit the Honky Tonk Bar and Restaurant downtown for lunch…pretty darned delicious! After lunch MW dropped me off at McDonalds to bogart some wifi, then came back for me later. On the way back by, we popped back in at St. John’s to pick up some deliciousness. MW really enjoyed their stuffed grape leaves, and I thought the Black Forest Cake slice was pretty good.
Saturday we headed out for a good hour of hiking through the woods. We walked the Big Old Fir Tree Loop, and took a gander at the fir tree that is about 150 years old and has a 54″ diameter. In other words, it is over 14′ around. Wow, pretty impressive. The trail maintenance, on the other hand, was not. There were several trees down, one that required climbing over, and at more than one spot we had to work hard to figure out what direction to go. It wasn’t too much of an issue, though, because worse case, we could trek through the woods to the highway and walk back that way. The woods don’t have a lot of underbrush, and they were in full bloom with lots of yellow arrowleaf balsamroot and purple lupine. It was really beautiful. Judging by the scat, there are definitely elk in the area, too. (I don’t post pics of poo, because it might upset someone’s delicate sensibilities. There are a lot of them on my phone, though. LOL) Just before we got back to Petunia, I stopped to chat with some neighbors. They were from south of Seattle, but are planning to sell out and head east. (We are hearing that story a LOT on this trip.) They were really nice, and we ended up talking for 45 minutes or so. After getting cleaned up, I headed back into town to find someplace to work. This time I picked the Town House Cafe, but was once again denied as it was very full and loud. The sandwich was good, though…grilled chicken with pesto, tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella. Sadly, I ended up back down the hill at McDonalds to finish up a few work things. Between bookkeeping and writing the blog, I have to work a little almost every day. Not having a good data signal at the campground really puts a cramp in that, but luckily, it doesn’t happen most of the time. Especially now that we have both Verizon and AT&T phones. On the way home, I stopped back by the Monastery one more time to get MW some more stuffed grape leaves. (He REALLY liked them!) I also bought some spanakopita, which is phyllo stuffed with a spinach and feta mix…double YUM!! I used to make an appetizer-sized version for parties at our house. The Greeks sure know how to eat! We spent the evening watching Kirk Douglas westerns.
Sunday morning I headed over to the equestrian/group camp side of the park to find some trails. After an hour of wandering around in the woods and scaring deer, I headed back to Petunia to get cleaned up. Then we headed into Goldendale, Washington, to Columbus Avenue Baptist Church. The service was very nice, and the group of five that led the singing were really good at harmonizing.
After the service, we picked up lunch to go from Dairy Queen, then headed over to Bickelton, California, to check out the last day of the 111th Annual (yes, you read that right) Alder Creek Pioneer Picnic & Rodeo. It was a beautiful drive across the mountain to get there, but got more dreary the further we went. By the time we arrived at the arena, it was 48 degrees and raining for an outside event. We bundled up and huddled under my giant umbrella in the bleachers. There were plenty of people sticking it out with us, too. As I’ve said before, I love a good rodeo, and so does MW. There was one cowboy who really didn’t love it on this day, though. He was riding a bronc and, as he was thrown, his hand got caught in the strap. The horse kept bucking, and the guy was being dragged up, down, and around by his arm. Both arena cowboys were trying to get the bronc under control, and a bunch of other contestants ran out to help. It seemed to take forever, but was probably a little more than a minute. I couldn’t find anything online about it, but if that boy did not have major ligament damage he is incredibly blessed! I walked through the vendor tent area at one point to stretch my legs and caught a glimpse of the carousel. The tiny town of Bickleton has owned a 1905 Herschell-Spillman carousel since 1929. With the exception of rodeo weekend, the ride is dismantled, and stored at a museum. It is said to be one of only three like it still working, and for one weekend a year, anyone can take a ride. Pretty cool. We stayed until they started the last event before finally crying uncle. My hands and nose were freezing!
FUNNY THING: There were a couple of teenage girls sitting below us in the stands. Remember the temperature and rain? One was all bundled up, wearing a hoodie and a ski cap, and trying her best to keep warm and dry. The other was wearing a t-shirt under a guys outer shirt, short shorts, and sneakers with no socks. No hat. No jacket. No umbrella. She was visibly shaking and just about to freeze to death, but when the other girl mentioned going to get her jacket from the car, she said “I’m not cold.” Don’t know who she was trying to impress, but I sure hope he appreciated the efforts of that little Buckle Bunny.
The main thing to say about Brooks Memorial State Park is that it is very poorly maintained and needs to be updated to accommodate today’s RVs. Sitting just off of US-97 in a grove of large pines, it has a small day-use area with picnic tables, a couple of pavilions, a disc golf course, a multi-use field, and a bathroom. Lodging opportunities include a large, separate area for retreats or large groups, a group/equestrian campground, and the main campground. The latter is divided into four basic areas: a tent area further back into the woods with a vault toilet and several rentable tents; a tent area right behind a row of RV back-in sites with easy access to the bathhouse; and two small sections for RVs with full-hookup and 50-amp. NOTE: NONE of the sites are useable for big rigs. All sites are fairly short, and the ones in the woods have trees so close that slides and awnings are impacted. (We got our slide out, but the awning could not be used. If we had a slide on the door side, it would not have been useable, either.) I mentioned the trail maintenance earlier, with large trees down, some that appeared to have been there for a while. I flagged down the park guy who said that they just hadn’t been able to get to it. In general, the facilities needed paint and TLC, but MW did say the bathhouse was very clean. However, there is only one shower stall in each side to serve the entire campground. Cell coverage for both Verizon and AT&T is not good. They show a couple of bars, but data is very slow if it will load at all. For what it is, we felt it was very expensive. There isn’t much around, though, so it wasn’t a bad spot if you needed to be in the area. For this visit in June 2022, we paid $193.00 for 4 nights.
Another week down. Next up, more Washington plus a visit with family. See you on the path!
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