Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Lakeview to The Columbia River on 101

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I had about 5 1/2 hours to get to River’s End Campground across the Columbia River. Three days would have been better. At first I was in the mode of hitting the road and making time, but the road is more windy, up and down with one gorgeous overlook after another. It’s more like driving the Skyline Drive, but with more traffic and a little bigger road. Towns dot the coast, and then Newport is a big city. The picture of Hecta Lighthouse is not mine, but that was the view. I tried to stop, but I just couldn’t get it done. Then there was nowhere I could turn around. What a beautiful spot. My mind took the photograph, and it will forever be in there. This is a beautiful part of the Oregon coast, and I would love to drive it again with more time. Oh yea, and then there is the whole Washington coast I will miss, unless Martha and I come back this way.

Stopping at one beautiful overlook, I talked with a guy who is a landscaper and has lived in Oregon all his life. Looking down on a plateau, there was a high-end housing development overlooking the ocean. He said he takes care of those. Only when it frosts over is he out of work, but it doesn’t come often and doesn’t stay long. He surprised me when he said traffic is light right now, but wait till this weekend. Eclipse watchers are going to be swarming in.

This is a hard road to drive for a long time. The road is hard enough, along with the traffic, but you want to look at all the sites, and so do all the other drivers. I thought one car was going to run into the trailer as they were obviously distracted. They couldn’t have missed by much. I wanted to stop at every overlook, walk the beaches, explore the towns. I did go into a sporting goods store that had some great fishing gear. Talking to a nice kid about rods and reels for steelhead. It is unlikely I would use it, but Martha does want some fresh fish when she comes, and that will be when the salmon and steelhead will be running the rivers.

Finally I get to the great Columbia River. Sitting in traffic, I see the Astoria-Megler Bridge and about had a heart attack. Fortunately, there was construction on the bridge, so traffic was slow. It is 4.1 miles long, the highest part being 196’ at high tide. I will have to cross it two more times as I want to see Ft. Clatsop, Astoria and the Maritime Museum tomorrow.

On the other side, I pulled into River’s End Campground and RV Park at about 6:30. Cocktail hour was going on nest to the office. Jean Sundet came over to greet me. She walked ahead and guided me into my campsite, then told me to get settled and come for a drink. I have never been greeted at a campground like this before. It is a beautiful, grassy area, with scattered big pine trees. People were laughing and telling stories, so I grabbed a glass of wine and went over. There were 20 or so people gathered around a huge tree stump that had been polished and smoothed into a perfect outdoor table. There were snacks and goodies, but I never got past the first five guys. Introducing myself to Mitch, Buzz, Dave, Tony and a couple of others whose names I can’t recall now. They have been coming here for 20 years or more. They come in April and leave in October. Well, they used to go back and forth to work, but now they just stay. I asked what they did. “Fish” they said in unison. Some fish in the ocean, mostly for salmon, while a couple of guys fish in the river for salmon. There was a discussion about which is easier, most saying the ocean is easier, but they also said the two guys who fish the river know how to get it done. They said to check out the river tomorrow, saying you can walk across on the boats. I marveled at how there are any salmon left, but they all said there are plenty. I asked about the health of sardines and anchovies. They said their lines are constantly twitching from all the sardines running. Whales come here to fill up. Mitch seemed sad to not be going out tomorrow, but he is meeting a commercial Tuna fisherman. He is going to buy 200 pounds of tuna. He will take it to a processor who will clean them. Then he will bring them back home and cut them up and can (glass really) them. Half of the 200 pounds is waste. Then he is splitting with a friend. Still, 50 pounds of Tuna is a lot! He buys it at $3.00/pound, but He said, “It’s not like that crap you buy in the store”.

Waiting in Lakeside

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The little broken cord on the truck has kept me in Ludlum Campground for two more days. I took the truck to Ken Ware Chevrolet/GMC in North Bend. first thing Monday morning, but I wasn’t the only one with problems. Three others waited with me for the doors to open at 7:30. Jim Reed, the service manager, looked harried already. He had two technicians out, one being the diesel tech. I told him I would wait.

It was 11:00 before he came into the service lounge. They needed a new wiring harness and had ordered it, but it wouldn’t get there until Tuesday. He ordered a car from Enterprise, and a driver soon picked me up. Fortunately, I had started reading a book Dan Kelly had given me, “A Higher Call” by Adam Makos about a very unusual event that happened in WWII over Germany. It’s a great and true story that is well-written. I couldn’t put it down, and that doesn’t happen to me very often.

I did take a walk on a beautiful trail around Eel Lake where I am camped. Big, beautiful trees surround the lake. Lots of people were fishing in boats and off the dock. I spent some time finding a place to stay near Fort Clatsop for the next two nights, but I was beginning to get antsy about getting back on the road. At 2:00 on Tuesday I called Jim to see where we stood. He said they had replaced the harness, but now ere cleaning out the exhaust system while running it at 2,000 RPM’s for 45 minutes. Then they would check it to see if there were any other problems, and he would call me.

I hopped in the rental car and headed to North Bend, just 15 miles south. By the time I got to Enterprise, Jim called and said it was ready. Whew! I was quite happy to get the truck back. Time was also getting short as I have to pick up Kelly in Vancouver on Saturday. I have left a lot unseen in Oregon.

Oregon Dunes and Florence

Friday, August 11, 2017

Exploring the coast, I drove north, stopping at a couple of recreation areas with campgrounds to see if they were full. I was pleased to see plenty of openings in these “drive up” campgrounds. Oregon Dunes Recreation Area had several very nice campgrounds. I did a mile hike through the marsh, then decided to see what the beach looked like. You could have a heart attack climbing to the top of the dune, but from there the views were wonderful. I have never seen such beaches. They are so big and pristine. It must have been low tide because there was probably 500 yards of flat beach. It was 60 degrees with a little breeze, so even if the water was warm, you probably wouldn’t swim. The water is not warm. I walked in the surf a while. It is lovely, soft, yellow sand, and you could walk forever. With three full campgrounds, there were maybe 10 people on the beach. The water is a bit like walking in a trout stream, not the coldest trout stream, but not the warmest either. In Port Oxford, the water temperature today is 53 degrees. The temperature in the Rogue River was 47, and you couldn’t really swim in that. You could take a quick dip on the day it was 112 degrees, but you wouldn’t swim. So 53 is more tolerable, but you wouldn’t stay in long. A wet suit would be good.

Oregon has incredible beaches though, unspoiled miles and miles of beaches. There are stops, pullovers, recreation areas, hiking trails and state parks all along 101. It’s fun to explore without the camper so you can dash in and out of these areas.

I didn’t pack a lunch today, thinking I would stop somewhere for lunch. As I entered Florence, that’s what I was thinking. I also needed a library and a few groceries. With a quick search of restaurants on my phone, I chose Lovejoy’s Restaurant and Tea Room, and it was a winner. I love a British meat pie, and they had a great lamb pie, some pea soup and a pot of tea. What more could you want on a cool, misty day? I took a walk around this lovely, restored old part of the town along the riverfront.

I walked down the docks and found six people crabbing. Just listening to the chatter was entertaining, but the real entertainment was a rather elegant-looking lady, maybe 60 with kind of tattered clothes and fingernails that had been digging in the dirt a lot. I think her name was Barbara. She talked about the blue crabs of Virginia, but they suffer from pollution now. The ones in California have the same problem. “No, this is the last place they are clean and healthy”, she said. She had just bought a house built in the 70”s and was fixing it up gradually, doing a lot of landscaping. She talked about working somewhere for long hours, but she was almost done. I wanted to ask what she did, as I imagined it to be something important, but she didn’t stop talking long enough. Then she was back onto the crabs, everyone pulling up their wire baskets with chicken in them. Two had crabs in them – big crabs. They measured with a device made for the job and threw one back. A couple sitting on buckets at the end, said they wanted to get a boat to fish out of. Barbara said they needed a Mackenzie drift boat, and went on about its merits. Then they were back on the crabs. “Well, the peak has been about 1:00 to 2:00”, Barbara said. The man standing to the right agreed, but noted the tides change every day, so it is likely to be an hour later today. I could have pulled up a chair for entertainment for the rest of the day, but there is so much to see.

I poked around all the cute little shops Martha would love. Flowers and hanging baskets line the streets. By 1:00 the streets were busy with tourists like me. I don’t know what the rest of the town looks like, but I love this part of it. Two ladies in a kitchen store agreed it is a great place to live, but said they got a lot of rain last winter. The Pacific keeps a moderate climate, cool in the summer and in the 40’s in winter. I could feel the mist and light rain on my face as I walked about town, but I like it. I much prefer that to 95 degrees and sunny. I bought a little something for Martha and some fruit at a stand, and decided to head back.

An engine warning came on as soon as I started the truck. Then it said it would have reduced power. Ah yes, that little dangling cord I had noticed and tried to plug back in, but couldn’t. I crawled under the truck with a flashlight to try to see where it plugs in. There were two dangling wire ends, so after some examination, I stuffed them into the ends of the plastic connector. I started driving, but as the warning said, I had greatly reduced power. Time to use this OnStar button. A nice lady answered and put me through to a technician. I could hear his children in the background, and I could barely understand him. He ran some sort of diagnostics, then advised me to take it to a GMC dealer. I thanked him profusely. It was 5:00 and Ken Ware GMC in North Bend closed at 6:00. it was only 38 miles away, but I didn’t think I could make it with this reduced power. I called to see if they could help. Very nice people! A technician named Jim recommended taking it to Les Schwab Tires in Florence, saying they are great and helpful people. I limped through town on 101 to Les Schwab, and Jim was right. They took me right in, crawled under the truck to see the problem. They do tires, so this wasn’t their specialty, but one of the guys had a truck like mine, so we crawled under his truck to see how it was connected. We were in the right ball game, but my plastic connector was shot. Consulting with two of his coworkers, they pulled the truck in, got underneath and connected the wire ends, discarding the plastic connector. No charge! I went to a bakery, bought them some cookies and delivered them. Nice guys! Didn’t work though. I limped back to camp, a scary thing in the fog on 101. Down hill was great, and flats were OK, but uphill was slow, requiring my flashers as I went 20-30mph. I was quite relieved to finally pull into the campground.

Sardine Crisis

Jane-Ashley sent me a link as I noted lots of sardines belly-up in Chetco Harbor.

From: http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2016/03/as_pacific_sardine_collapse_wo.html

Nearly a year into a West Coast sardine fishing ban enacted to protect the collapsing population, the fish formerly worth more than $8 million to Oregon’s economy have shown no signs of a comeback.

New federal research indicates numbers of the small, silvery, schooling fish have plummeted further than before the fishing moratorium, dashing any hope of lifting it in 2016.

With the current sardine population hovering at 7 percent of its 2007 peak, fishermen now say they expect to wait a decade or more to revive the fishery.

“I don’t want to take a pessimistic view, but I would think we’ll be shut down until 2030,” said Ryan Kapp, a Bellingham fisherman who advises the Pacific Fishery Management Council on sardines and other fish.

Sardines aren’t struggling in isolation. Other fish near the bottom of the marine food web, such as anchovies and herring, are also down. The shortage of sustenance is rippling upward to create crises for predator species from seals to seabirds.

Researchers can’t tell exactly what’s driving the die-off, nor how long it will last. Some say the crash can be attributed to cyclical boom-and-bust population dynamics sardines have always exhibited.

Others argue overfishing played a role, driving sardine populations down too far and too fast to blame it on a natural population flux.

Then there’s the unavoidable presence of the “warm blob,” a lingering mass of overheated water that for more than two years has wreaked havoc on sea life off the Pacific coast.

Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area

Thursday, August 11, 2015

After moving campsites, I drove north on 101. Stopping at a lighthouse overlook, all you could see was fog and clouds. One chatty tourist said he had just walked the Appalachian Trail, complaining that there were seldom views, and here he is in Oregon and can’t see the view. I stopped at a lake on the way to the lighthouse and walked a 1-mile trail around it. It was very pretty with big trees and lots of birds.

Driving north, there was a sign to follow Rt 38 to an elk-viewing area, so I turned to follow the big Umpqua River. Later I found its origin below Crater Lake. A lot of rivers have their origin on that mountain. I came to Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area, a beautiful grassy plain bumping up against mountains. Dean Creek wound its way through high grasses like a snake. I didn’t see any elk, so I drove on. I hadn’t gone very far when I saw elk running out of the forest. I hurriedly turned around and went back to the viewing area. By the time I got the camera out, there was a steady stream of elk entering the field. There must have been a hundred elk, with one big buck and lots of smaller ones. I stayed for about two hours, talking with various people who stopped to watch. Several people knew a lot about elk, many being hunters. 100 years after Lewis and Clark came through, these Rosevelt Elk were almost extinct, so there was a hunting ban for 20 years starting in 1905. Several years ago someone stopped here and shot a huge bull. It took police two years, but they caught them.

I asked one fellow, who was a hunter, how far away he could kill one. He said he was a sniper in the Army, so 1700 yards was possible. Pointing out where 1700 yards might be, I was amazed. He said 700 yards was pretty routine, and 500 was an easy shot. Looking at the distances he pointed out, I was surprised how far they were.

Ducks kept flying into the creek around the bend from us. A blue heron got up and flew to a different spot. I don’t know if they are swallow-tails or purple martins that were flying all over the creek, catching bugs, mosquitoes I guessed. This is a beautiful spot, whether there are elk or not, but the elk certainly are the featured attraction. This strain are the biggest with thicker antlers. They can run in bursts of 40 mph and sustained at 28. They can jump an 8-ft obstacle, like a dead tree when being chased. I don’t think there are any grizzlies or wolves here to chase them.

Charles, I Think

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

I was enjoying driving up the coast. 101 is a busy highway, which also happens to be a tourist route. Oregon beaches are phenomenal, undeveloped and I guess the water is cold. Crossing the mouth of the Rogue, salmon fishing boats were everywhere. I don’t know what the rules are on the Rogue, but on the Chetco you have to release them. I had read an article on best places to camp along the coast, but everywhere I went they were full. I didn’t think it would be so much trouble during the week. I called a KOA and thankfully, they had a place. It was on the Great Dunes and caters to dune buggies. The nice lady suggested William Tugman State Park just up the road might be quieter. As I pulled in, there was a vacancy sign on the post. Whew! Two nice ladies helped me find a quiet site.

On Wednesday morning, I showered, shaved and put on some nicer-looking clothes. I had washed the truck and trailer yesterday. Back in Brookings, I saw so many scruffy-looking people, especially at the library. Old men would ride their bicycle, then go in to get WIFI, like I was doing. A lady drove up, asking about the WIFI code. We talked a minute, and I noticed all the stuff in her car. She was obviously living out of it, perhaps like Cody in cheap campgrounds. I wondered about their stories. I was sitting on a rock outside the library one day and a nice-looking lady walked past. I said “Good morning”, but she never moved her head. Hmm, I hadn’t shaved in a couple of days and my clothes were dirty. That’s why I was sitting outside, but I guess I must have fit into the same category as the other men. I thought about Cody, out of work and running out of money. I thought how with some bad luck, a market crash and a few other bad things, and I could be like these guys. I will try to keep myself more presentable.

I went into Lakeside to do laundry. The small town is on Tenmile Lake. A nice gentleman said “Good morning” as I walked in. Once loaded, I went to the grocery store next door. That’s convenient. It’s a nice grocery and I picked up a few little things. When I got back, a scraggly-looking, old man shoved a cart to me to carry the wash to the dryer. “Thanks” I said. He had on a dirty, yellow t-shirt and an equally dirty jacket open in the front. His pants were dirty, and he had work boots on. He was about 5’8” with a bit of a gut. I sat down, checking for messages on my phone. Charles, I think was his name, struck up a conversation, asking where  I was from. First he told me about fishing in the lake and around the area. He has always lived in Oregon, growing up on a farm with 10 brothers and sisters. For some reason, his uncle mostly raised him. He drove his first logging truck when he was 14! He did that for a number of years, along with other odd jobs.

Now he had my respect. I hate all the logging and what it does to the land, but there are plenty of other ways we ruin the planet. I get scared driving National Forest roads, and they are the good ones. Where these guys go, I would never go…..in my truck. I can’t imagine doing it in a big logging truck fully loaded, winding up and down these steep mountains, always in a hurry to make time. I told him how I worry about the back wheel on my truck tracking inside my front wheel on these skinny gravel roads with 1000’ drops, and how there are washouts taking away part of the road. Hang a wheel in there and Oh my! He said, “Oh you get used to it when you do it every day”. He told of the time he was coming down the mountain with a young worker with him, and the brakes went out. He told the young man he was going to run it into the ditch and for him to jump out. He started to do the same, but the door stuck, so he ran it into the ditch again and it popped open. He jumped out and the truck went over the side, falling 2,000 feet. matter-of-factly, he said, “It happens.”

One of his friends put a group together to build logging roads or private roads. They had a great time doing that for 10 years, because they all knew each other, and each had a special talent or a piece of equipment. Mostly he ran a dozer, but he was running a bucket one day when it rolled down the mountain. “Lucky to be alive”, he said in a calm voice. He broke his leg, ribs, ankle and back. Screws, plates and all kinds of other hardware hold him together. They wanted to take his right leg off, but he wouldn’t let them. I mumbled, “Like Gus in Lonesome Dove”. He gave a little grin and nodded. He said without that leg, he would never be able to work again, and he would be on the dole. He said he would rather die than that. Great respect.

I started folding laundry, but he kept telling stories. He has a place in the mountains and showed me pictures of herds of elk in a field across from his house. he said all his life he has shot elk, bear, cougars and an occasional duck. I asked him how he liked eating bear. He said, “Oh it’s fine, but the special thing about bear is using the fat to make pies. It’s fluffy and light, and nothing like it!”  That’s what they lived on – fish and game, and what they raised in the garden. At 67, he doesn’t hunt much any more. He would rather look at them. By the time I finished the laundry, I shook his hand and told him how I enjoyed talking with him. I looked at his hand again as he talked some more. It didn’t look so big, but you could feel the power when you shook it.

Route 199, Oregon and California

Monday, August 7, 2017

I had to go back to Grant’s Pass to get an awning wheel I lost and had shipped. This is the third time I have driven this road and it is just as good the third time. From west to east, you start in the Redwood National Park. The drive is through magnificent trees right on the edge of the road. You quickly pass Jedediah Smith State Recreation Area. I would stop there and walk the trail through it on the way back. It is an incredible stand of Redwoods that is on the Smith River. People were swimming, floating and kayaking in the river all through the park. It has a beautiful campground amongst the trees and by the river. What more can you ask for?

I stopped several times to take pictures of the Smith River. Oregon is a wonderful place for kayaks. They call it the Wild River Coast, and it is. I was taking pictures at one pull-over and looked down to see loads of ripe blackberries. I quickly filled a water bottle.

I ordered the awning wheel at the same time as the burned out plug, but it was backordered. I took the unhappy, busy postmen a bag of Danish. A new man put the bag aside and said “OK”. He would probably get the bomb-sniffing dogs out later. If this post office is any indication of the USPS, it is in big trouble. Anyway, I was happy to finally get the wheel.

I stopped at a nice store, Gooseberries, to get a few things and headed back west. There are two areas of road construction on this very busy, beautiful route. One area goes through the Smith River gorge. It is curvy and on the edge of a steep mountain. I was happier going this direction without the Airstream as I was driving on the mountain side. Going east you are on the straight drop-off, river side. When you are not in a hurry, the construction stops just give you time to enjoy the scenery.

A walk was just what I needed at the Jedediah Smith Recreation area. Old Jedediah would be amazed at the changes in just 150 years. I have enjoyed my stay here, but will move up the coast tomorrow. I will miss this little drive up Winchuck River Road. I have seen three elk right in the road and three deer. Those elk are so big! As soon as they see the car, they scramble to get out of there with feet sliding on the pavement. Two of them hopped a barbed wire fence not as gracefully as a deer, but still it seemed effortless. Then they stopped in the cattle field, turned sideways and looked back at me. If I were a hunter, it would have been a perfect shot. Hope I see another one on the way out.

Exploring The Chetco River

Sunday, Aug 6, 2017

My intention was to fish the Chetco River for a few hours and just see what kind of trout were there. My plan was to take the South Side Chetco River Road and fish across from where I had hiked The Oregon Redwood Trail. I packed lunch, snacks, water and the GPS. Who needed the GPS? I was following roads and not going far, but I have learned to always take it. Seven miles up the road I stopped at a cattle guard. this was obviously someone’s beautiful farm. I couldn’t read the old, faded sign, so I got out to take a closer look. Yep , this was the road, along with five others. Driving through, I could see this was about where I planned to fish, but I couldn’t walk across his pasture.

I drove through and the road started going up, and up and got smaller and smaller. By the time I got to the top, I knew it was wrong. There were other turns, but they looked like they went to other houses. I turned around, went back down the road, back to Rt. 101, crossed the river and took the North Road Chetco River. I stopped where the hike was and studied the river that previously had looked lower and more slow. I needed to fish from the other side, but didn’t think I could get across. A couple was swimming on the shallower, far side, laughing and having a big time.

Looking at the car GPS, the road crosses the river a few miles ahead, so I drove on. It was a one-lane bridge, and I stopped to take a picture. Two trucks raced by with motorcycles in the back. Driving up the other side, I was surprised by big campers coming down. Soon I saw a campground, which was on the gravel of of the river. OK, now I should be clear. Nope, cars and trucks whizzed by. More campers and one large RV came by. The road was narrow, and I had to stop and squeeze over to make room. It’s Sunday! Everyone was out for a kayak trip, camping or riding their bikes in the Sikiyou National Forest.

There were designated areas to get to the river, but all were crowded with people whooping it up on their weekend. Between those areas, you could not get to the river. Usually it was too steep, but sometimes too far. I drove on, and on, crossing the river on one lane, high bridges three more times. I tried to only look straight ahead when crossing them. At the last one, I stopped and took a picture. This looked like the beginning of a river I would like to fish. It is beautifully clear and not racing down a mountain. If I could just get in a few hundred yards ahead. Going across the bridge, the road began a long, steep climb up the side of a mountain. I was going about 10 miles an hour, because of the ruts, sharp curves and because I didn’t want to go over the side of the mountain. Going around a sharp turn, suddenly there was a motorcycle coming down the mountain pretty fast on my side of the road. All I could do was stop. He started sliding and couldn’t manage to get across the road to pass me, so he laid the bike down, sliding to a stop 15 feet in front of me.

“Are you OK?” I asked. He wasn’t sure as he quietly shook himself off and checked himself out. He nodded he was OK. Then he picked the bike up and checked it out. He looked like a pro, with all the right gear, a bike suit, helmet with a closed shield, boots and gloves. Had he not been so well equipped, he would have been really scraped up. It was also a very nice bike with knobby off-road tires. A nice-looking young man in his early 20’s, he said he came from Grant’s Pass and camped last night. Grant’s Pass! Really! He was going down to 101, up to Gold Beach, then back up and across the mountains to Grant’s Pass. Wow, that’s a trip! He said mine was the first car he had seen, which is why he was carelessly on the wrong side of the road. He also said he had not seen the river yet. I wished him well, and he was off.

I turned around went back down to the bridge, stopping at a parking area just before the bridge. There had to be a trail down to the river, but I couldn’t find it. It was getting a little late to launch a fishing trip now anyway, so I drove back out. Going back to Brookings to gas up, I saw the sign for Chetco Point, so I went there. It’s a beautiful spot with great views of Brookings Harbor, the beach and rock islands. Steve had talked about fishing the bay, and I could see small boats fishing in the bay. It’s pretty calm, but rocking a bit more than I like.

Back at camp, I studied the GPS maps to see where that young man had gone and where he was going. I was impressed. The National Forest has roads going everywhere. Mostly they are logging roads, so they can go somewhere, or nowhere at all. You need to be on alert on every turn and have some good maps with you. I have great respect for what this guy was doing. Pretty cool. Just to have to gear to camp, eat and drink in the middle of the forest. Obviously he had plotted it all out.

Then I studied how to get to the Chetco River. At the bridge where I left the river, there are no other roads to the river. It goes into the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area. It travels for many miles free of roads and traffic, undisturbed. There is a trail that crosses it, continuing along the crest of mountains, like the Appalachian Trail. I would need better maps, but I would love to go there. I brought the gear. How long would you stay? Five days? Then I wondered how someone traveled it years ago to map it. How hard is it to get around in there? Finally I decided it would be stupid to go alone at my age, but Dear Lord, that would be a place to go! I have much more respect for the Chetco River after following it for a day. Then I get to the library, where I can get WIFI, and study the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. There are many pictures of people kayaking through it, camping along the banks. Now, that’s the way to do it!

Crissey Field State Park and Redwoods National Park

Friday, August 4, 2017

Amazing that you can travel 100 miles west of Medford and find daily highs of 67 degrees and low of 50 at night. Perfect! I headed down the long, curvy road out of Siskiyou National Forest. There are some great cottages along this road that I would love to photograph, but there is nowhere to pull over and get out. I turned south on 101, which runs the entire coast of Oregon. Seeing a sign for Crissey Field State Park, I pulled in. There is a very nice welcome center with helpful staff. I picked up too many brochures. So much to see and do, it is overwhelming. Should I drive up the coast to Washington? Oh yea, then there’s Washington!

What I do want to do is follow the mighty Columbia River. Rated the #1 fishing river in British Columbia, Kelly and I saw it at it’s source and fished it just before it leaves Canada, and we are signed up to fish it again with Rod, our guide out of Castlegar.

I walked along the Winchuck River until it crosses the beach and runs into the Pacific Ocean. Huge trees were washed up all over the beach. All, or most of these had been cut, and these were the remaining bases of the trees. Who knows how long they have been here. Logging is still big here, but it is not the industry it once was. Medium-sized waves crashed the shore through the fog. I looked for salmon or steelhead or Dolly Varden coming out of the sea and up the river, but didn’t see any. It was low tide, so maybe as the tides change.

Heading back south on 101, I turned east on 199. Immediately there were big redwoods along the busy highway. The sign for Redwoods National Forest is easily missed and I did. It was busy in the small visitor’s center, so I just walked around, looking at their material. A very nice gentleman was patiently and enthusiastically suggesting places to go and things to see, educating the visitors. He had a voice and manner just like Dr. Woefel, one of our great teachers at Ohio State. He came around telling us the movie was about to start. After buying a map, a nice lady showed me some places to go.

I decided to drive a gravel road through the forest on the other side of the incredible Smith River. It was dusty, very dusty, and lots of people were driving this tiny road that winds its way between majestic redwoods. Dust covers everything. I can only imagine riding a horse through here in the late 1800’s. I took pictures with the truck in front of some of the trees to lend some perspective to the size of these trees. Kids were climbing into the crotches of trees and inside some of the cavities. People stopped to swim in a small stream.

At the other end I came out in Crescent City, California, a busy little town with 101 going right through it. By the time I got back to camp it was 3:30 and I was tired. I went over and talked with Cody a bit. He said he was hot and went for a swim in the stream by the camp. He said lots of fish surrounded him and were nibbling on his feet. “There were some big ones too”, he said.

Too Hot! Move to The Coast

Thursday, August 3, 2017

It was 112 degrees at Valley of the Rogue Campground yesterday afternoon. Oppressive, horrible heat. The campground was thinning out. A gentleman next door came over to see the pickup pack. They are from Arizona and came up to escape the heat. His wife is from Grant’s Pass, so they know the area, and were visiting family. Now they figured they might as well go back home.

I packed up and headed out. Cursing at the nearly worthless GPS in the truck, I set the iPhone for Ludlum Campground in the National Forest about 15 miles from Brookings. I studied a couple of campgrounds in town, but they were packed like sardines. I set out through Grants Pass, picking up Rt. 199 west. It wound through the mountains and dipped into California following the Smith River. This is a gorgeous river, although dry and relatively low. There are apparently a lot of rivers in this area. I might have fished this, although it is heavily traveled, being the only road going through here.

I whizzed past Redwoods National Forest before I could think about stopping. It wasn’t going to be so far from the campground, and I wanted to be sure I could get a spot. I turned on 101 north toward Brookings and turned right on Winchuck Road. It follows a beautiful stream with pretty houses lining the road. I will have to go back and get some pictures. Then a left turn on a dusty gravel road, which I had read about. About a mile up the road, a truck pulled over to let me pass. He looked at me like I was crazy, and I thought I might be. There might not be a place to turn around if this didn’t work. The iPhone ran out of service, but amazingly still gave me perfect directions. It’s a tiny campground with only 7 sites and a camp host. The circle through the campground was small, but I could get through. I got out and looked at one empty spot, but didn’t think I could get in. #7 was empty, and I thought I could squeeze in there. The trouble was there was no room to swing the truck out to he right. I was going back and forth when a nice guy came over to help. After about 8 times of starting and restarting, I made it. I shook hands and thanked Cody from Louisiana. He is camped across from me and presently out of work. He came back to borrow my trash can to wash his clothes in. There is a big water pump on the corner. He was fired from his last job for criticizing the boss. A sociology major, he has been traveling and looking for work. A $10 campground helps stretch what little money he has left. He said he would move on Monday, as it is really hard to find a campsite on the weekends.

I settled in, walked around the campground and took a look at the stream. It is probably fishable, though low and crystal clear. It was a delightful 65 degrees. Since there is no cell service, I tried the InReach, but it couldn’t get anything either. I needed to tell Martha where I was, so I drove into Brookings. It’s a small harbor town with 6,500 people. I stopped at the harbor to look at all the boats. Steve said the harbor is loaded with sardines. The boat harbor was loaded with dead sardines. As I drove a road along the river on the south side, seagulls were munching something, sardines I suppose. I looked for a place to get down, but couldn’t find one. I drove up the north side with the same result. There are lots of campgrounds, some very fancy. All were full. I was lucky to have a spot – a great spot!

I drove all around town, trying to find a seaside or harbor-side place to get a beer or glass of wine, but couldn’t find it. There was an Irish pub that was full, but it was right on the main road. Driving north of town, I found a Harris Beach State Park and went it. The nice campground with generous sites was full. There is a beautiful beach below. Huge rock islands dotted the bay. People were walking the beach, laying in the sun and building things out of driftwood logs washed up on the beach. Pelicans and other birds perched content on one island. Probably had their fill of sardines. I took a few pictures and texted Martha.

Heading back into town, I stopped to call Kelly. He was going to call me, but since I had no service, I thought I should let him know. He has lined up some guides for our fishing trip in 2 1/2 weeks, and reserved some campgrounds. He also booked two guided trips, and was very excited about fishing in Montana on the way to pick up the girls.

As I hung up, I noticed I was in front of a pretty big post office. I checked to see if I could find WIFI, but there was none. I searched for a library on the phone. It was one mile away. Nice library! With a fishing section! Steve corrected me on my post and I wanted to change it. There are no Dolly Varden on the Rogue. They were cutthroat. A very pretty librarian, who didn’t want to talk to me, showed me the WIFI password that was tied around a little bear statue. I corrected my mistake and quickly read emails, then asked the cordial lady where the fishing section was. She asked what kind of fishing. Um, all kinds. “Look in 799 in the tall stacks.” There were some interesting books. The hiking and kayaking sections were just to the left. I would have to come back and explore, perhaps on a rainy day.

It took about 25 minutes to get back to camp. I was startled by a big elk cow standing beside the small road. She was startled too, and scurried back down the bank toward the river. I love my campsite, surrounded by tall ferns, it seems secluded. A little raised flat area behind me with a massive picnic table and fire pit. I’m on for four days. Steve might not come for another week, and I would love to fish with him again for salmon in the bay just off shore, but there is so much to see and do.