Saturday, July 15, 2017
With no available campsites in Valley of the Rogue State Park, or anywhere else around Medford or Crater Lake, I needed to move by 1:00, but first I had a bunch of errands to run. There was a farmer’s market in Medford. I needed groceries, a haircut and to do laundry. Looking for the laundry, I found a barber shop, but the laundry was closed. I went into the Big Y Berber shop and met Jim. Barbers know everything that is going on in town. He told me the farmer’s market was good and where I would find a laundromat. Then we talked trucks since he also had a GMC.
I found the laundry and finally figured out the machines. I was surprised to find more men than women, but on Saturday morning it was busy. While waiting for the wash, I pulled the plug on the cooler in the bed of the truck to let the now warm water out. A guy walked by giving me a strange look as water appeared to be pouring out from under the truck. I told him what I had done. Another strange look. After checking the washing machines, I stood outside wondering if I should go across the street to a car wash, but it looked like a drive through, which wouldn’t work with bikes covered with a rubber tarp covering the truck bed. The guy with the strange look came out and we exchanged pleasantries. Kenny was from Medford, mid 40’s with a bit of a paunch. He worked at a gun shop and at a tool and die place that makes bolts for rifles. He knows guns and the history of gun making. We talked about self-defense pistols, then moved on to hunting and fishing the area. He said it’s so vast, there are still places unexplored. People get lost all the time.
He had some very interesting views on politics and the state of the country, its infrastructure, drug use and Oregon’s governor and how she got there. After moving the wash to dryers, we returned to our talking spot. We went on to President Trump and congress. It was obvious that Kenny was well-read, a religious fellow and he needed a dentist. I enjoyed our conversation that continued as we folded laundry. We shook hands, and he said, “God bless you”.
The farmer’s market was small, but I bought a few things, then went to a grocery store to fill out the list. Hurrying back to the State Park, there were still no vacancies, but it was wide open from Sunday on. The very nice girl, Amanda, with a great smile suggested Collier Memorial State Park to the east. She looks so much like Karen Carpenter! Sitting in the rest area next to the park, I had lunch and looked at the options. It was 92 degrees and hot. With the luxury of Lew’s solar installation, I ran the air conditioner for about an hour while I stewed over driving almost two hours for a one night stay. There were National Forest sites along the way, so I would check them out as well.
45 minutes into the drive, the road wound its way up a big mountain. I stopped in National Forest campground, but it was filled, at least with the few places I might have gotten into. I was fortunate to be able to get around the loop. Kept going up and up the mountain, finally topping out with a huge lake to my right. Around the top of the lake, trees open to a giant, flat grassy plain with water abounding. Cattle grazed in lush surroundings. They have replaced the buffalo across the west, and there are gazillions of them, black angus mostly. I stopped to take pictures the best I could. The volcanic mountain that holds Crater Lake was off in the distance, with snow still covering the top. A beautiful spring creek wound its way through the plain.
Ahead a camper was pulled over with a blown out tire, rubber littered the lonely road behind it. I stopped to see if I could help, but there wasn’t much I could do. They would have to unhook and drive a long way to a town and hope they could get a tire. They had used their spare a few days before. I know how they feel!
Finally arriving at the campground, a nice ranger named Leigh greeted me with a smile. No sites were available. Although I had driven a very remote road to get here, the park is right off of 97, a major north/south highway in the center of the state. She said there was a National Forest campground a mile and a half down a dirt and gravel road, and it is beside a stream. She said they have nice sites and they are big. I crept down the corrugated, dusty gravel road. I was nervous turning into the campground. It was 5:00. Leigh had given me a list of campgrounds in the area and pointed out several she liked. I was relieved to only see four campers, and there were 20 sites – pretty sites!
I chose a big shaded site that looked great. Two big boulders guarded the front. Tired now, I made myself slow down. I had to go back and forth a number of times to make the tight turn. It probably would have been easier earlier in the day. Finally making it, I unhooked, leveled the trailer, prepared dinner and walked back to the self-register station. A gentleman named Heiner was being pulled by two chihuahuas. They looked like a sled dog team with their harnesses on. Heiner introduced himself. They just bought a new “Skinny Winny”, a Winebago on a Mercedes Van chassis with a 3500 diesel engine – nice! Heiner is a researcher at Cal Davis in plant engineering. He said we won’t have to worry about it, but our great grandchildren will not have enough food unless major changes are made. I asked how our water supplies were doing. He grumbled, “Yea, that’s another issue”.
I went back for dinner and a glass of wine. I was surprised to see people pulling in throughout the evening. Traveling 97 not doubt, you can’t beat the $10 price. With a senior pass it is only $5!