Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Archive for ‘August 5th, 2017’

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.