September 18, 2015
Well it has been a while since our last newsletter and a lot has happened. We have been having a great time in the Washington and Oregon area and can’t wait to tell you about our adventures. Don and I made a promise to each other that we were going to stay put today until this newsletter was done so we are both writing this newsletter together, but I’m typing.
We hated to leave Boyer Park at Snake River, which was our first experience with a Corp of Engineers campground. The COE campgrounds tend to have larger sites in rural areas. Well, we loved most of it except a couple of times it seemed like a train was going to come through our camper. The train tracks were above the RV Park and it didn’t bother us generally but in the wee hours of the morning it would amplify off the mountains and wake us up. Trains are everywhere in the NW and now they have become background noise.
On our trip to our next stop there were large tracks of farmland and trucks full of yellow onions. We must have been at the peak of onion season and we could have easily picked up a 20-pound bag of onions off the side of the road when a truck went around a corner. It was raining onions.
Our drive to Kennewick was short. Kennewick is a city in southeastern Washington State and is located on the southwest bank of the Columbia River. It is the largest of the three cities called the Tri-Cities (the others are Pasco and Richland).
We stayed at a private campground called Columbia Sun Resort in Kennewick. It had large spaces, a swimming pool, hot tubs, a store, and was a different kind of camping. It was convenient to the town and we got to experience a dust storm with high winds but overall it was a nice place to stop.
While there we discovered we are Rodeo fans when we went to the Benton Franklin Fair and Rodeo, our first rodeo ever.
We also went to two Farmer’s Markets.
We hiked some in an adjoining town, Richland that has a beautiful trail along the Columbia River, complete with a docked paddle wheeler that used to be on the Mississippi. One of our favorite things to do is to drive around and explore nearby towns.
Cascade Locks, Oregon
We drove west along the Columbia Gorge towards our next stop.
We stayed at Ainsworth State Park, which is a small park. It is located close to the interstate and a busy train track. (Again, the road and train noise just became white noise after a while.) Ainsworth State Park is located 35 miles east of downtown Portland, just off of Interstate 84 in the beautiful Columbia Gorge Scenic Area. Surrounding the State Park are miles and miles of hiking trails and scenic waterfalls. It’s at the eastern end of Historic Highway 30, where you’ll find the world’s greatest concentration of high waterfalls (like Multnomah Falls at 620 feet) in the United States.
Ainsworth was a great home base for us while we explored the multiple waterfalls, hiking trails, and visited Portland for the day. The over the air TV reception was limited here, just two PBS channels. However, when we were in Buffalo, WY we got introduced to the Longmire television show and we bought all of the past seasons’ DVD’s, so to wind down at night we would watch an episode.
We toured Bonneville Lock and Dam. Our guide was an interesting guy and very knowledgeable about the area. We learned during the tour that the dam was primarily built for power generation and river navigation. This dam was constructed to allow travelers to bypass the Cascade Rapids upstream. Don loved hearing about and seeing the engineering aspects of the dam and I was intrigued with the fish ladders and fish viewing.
String of generators inside the dam
We drove right outside of Portland to Milwaukie to visit Bob’s Red Mill. Bob Moore established the company in 1978 and he got his grinding stones from a source in France that could be traced back to the type of stone used in Roman days.
We had a great breakfast at the store, went on a two-hour tour of the factory, and went back to the store and picked up some goodies. We found out that Bob was an interesting character and in his late eighties. He gave the company to his employees (through a stock purchase plan) on his eightieth birthday. However, he still plays an active role in the day-to-day management.
While in the area we visited the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, located in southeastern Portland. This garden features more than 2,500 rhododendrons, azaleas, and other plants surrounded by small lakes, paved and unpaved paths, fountains, and small waterfalls. Beautiful!
Our next stop was right across the river at White Salmon, Washington and even though there was a close bridge connecting the two areas we had to go down the road to the Bridge of the Gods because it was a wider bridge. This was a scary thought since what they said was a better bridge was still very narrow.
White Salmon, Washington and We Get Solar on the RV
This was a short weekend stop at Bridge RV (a private park) to meet up with our solar installer. He has a business arrangement with this park so we were lucky to get a spot during the Labor Day weekend.
Yes, we are getting solar panels and lithium batteries added to the RV. (These are the 3rd generation lithium design – lithium iron phosphate, they don’t decompose and create fires like the earlier designs.) The plan was for our installer, Lew, to have our RV for a little less than a week while we stayed at a resort in the area.
Hiking along the Gorge on the Washington side
Cooper Spur Mountain Resort, Oregon and the Fruit Loop
We crossed back over the Columbia River and went halfway up Mt. Hood to a beautiful ski resort called Cooper Spur Mountain Resort. We stayed in a three-bedroom log cabin and had a mini vacation. (And, it had a bathtub – I’ve missed my big bathtub!)
The weather turned cold on the mountain and the leaves were changing. It was our first taste of fall. We really loved our heavy blanket on the bed.
We explored the area driving the jeep up Forest Service roads and could see Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Adams from Mt. Hood. We also drove to and explored Timberland Lodge. Timberline lodge was built in the late 1930s in the Mount Hood National Forest. It is a National Historic Landmark that sits at an elevation of approximately 6,000 feet and is a very popular ski destination.
View from the lobby of Timberline Lodge
Later we went on a 35 mile self guided driving tour called the Fruit Loop tour of the local orchards and wineries. We discovered a red pear, called a Starkrimson, that is unbelievably good and that there are over 100 varieties of apples grown in the area. We also visited an alpaca farm, which we enjoyed. (They had a sweet Maine Coon cat.) We found out that due to climate changes the wineries in Oregon and Washington are overtaking California in fine wine making. There seems to be a winery on every corner – just our kind of place.
After five days at the resort our RV wasn’t ready so we moved to Hood River.
Hood River, Oregon
At Hood River we stayed at the Hood River Inn for the weekend, which is right on the Columbia River. Hood River is directly across the Columbia River Gorge from White Salmon.
While here we went to their Farmer’s Market, but it was a bust since it was just a few craft tables. We did enjoy walking around the city streets, and visiting the park on the gorge that was a hangout for sail and kite boarders doing acrobatics in the high winds.
On Saturday we went to WAAAM, Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum, for their annual fly-in event. We started the day touring the fields of hundreds of antique planes that had flown in for the event and as the day got hotter (it made it to 81 deg.!!) we went into the hangers to view the museum exhibits. Needless to say, Don was in heaven and I enjoyed myself, too.
Simplex Servi-Cycle single, direct drive, no clutch. Made in New Orleans by Simplex, a company run by Paul Treen, father of Governor Treen.
Henderson Excelsior Four
Back to Salmon River, Washington
We stayed at Bridge RV Park again for a couple of days to check out our new solar system. I know it doesn’t surprise anyone that Don wanted solar on our camper but this will allow us more flexibility while camping. We are now free to explore BLM lands and more remote areas with no hookups.
New solar panels on the RV roof
The Hood River Bridge (very narrow)
While here we went on a tour of the Dalles Dam. We enjoy touring the dams and finding out how the river has changed over the years and how each dam is unique. This dam’s primary functions are flood control and river navigation.
We are now at Plymouth Park, another Corp of Engineers Park just downstream of the McNary Dam on the Columbia River. We had only planned to stay here for a few days but it is such a great place we’ve extended our stay. It’s very quiet and peaceful here. And there is a nice bike path to get a few miles in.
While here we are exploring the area and one of those stops was Pendleton Mills. Don picked up a t-shirt and a great cowboy shirt. We also found out there was a rodeo in town.
So, yesterday we went to another rodeo, the Pendleton Round-Up. The Pendleton Round-Up claims to be one of the top ten rodeos of the world. Talk about a small world, on the day we were at the Round-Up a guy from Heflin, Louisiana (Cody DeMoss) won the bucking bronc category and is currently number ten in the world standings.
We had great seats at the rodeo. Well, I guess they were great because we were 3 rows behind the bucking chutes and there was dirt, manure, and snot flying all around us. We had an up-close and personal view of the events. I loved it all except the bull riding. Bull riding just seemed like I was watching riders with a death wish.
That evening we went to a Farm-to-Table restaurant in Hermiston and had a wonderful meal. We are trying to make it a point to go out on a date night at least once a week and this was our date night. I only mention the meal because Don ordered an appetizer of Pork Belly that tasted just like the bacon my Grandmother used to make for me when I lived with her one summer during college. It brought back such great memories of a great lady – I wish the younger kids in our family could have gotten to know her.
That’s it for now. Don and I are getting ready to go on a bicycle ride. I hope everyone is doing fine, we miss you all! We are planning to roll out our new blog soon.
- Emigrant Springs, Oregon (Oregon State Park)
- Head south towards Arizona/New Mexico
- Baton Rouge for Christmas
- Florida Panhandle 2016
Till we meet again!
Norma & Don
Two Happy Campers