The Southern Oregon Coast

Cape Blanco Beach Oregon

We left Reedsport on Saturday, January 6th and continued our journey down the Oregon Coast.  We spent the next three nights at Port Orford’s Cape Blanco State Park.

Cape Blanco State Park – Port Orford, Oregon

Cape Blanco is Oregon’s western most point and spent our time there exploring the beaches, admiring the lighthouse, and poking around Port Orford.  I spent parts of two days fishing the local rivers.

Airstream Cape Blanco

Our Cape Blanco Campsite

GMC Denali HD Sixes River

Checking out one of Oregon’s coastal rivers.

The stark green beauty of the upper Elk River especially blew me away.

Elk River Oregon

On Tuesday January 9th, we said good-bye to Cape Blanco and headed down U.S. 101.  We thought that this section of 101 was the most dramatic of our trip.

Airstream Oregon Coast US 101

Arch Rock Oregon Coast

Harris Beach State Park – Brookings, Oregon

Relatively large by coastal Oregon standards, Brookings is a cool little town situated at the mouth of the Chetco River, about five miles north of the California border.  We initially planned to spend only three or four nights at Harris Beach, but we liked the area and were enjoying ourselves, so we extended our stay and spent six nights at our full hook-up State Park campsite.

Airstream Harris Beach State Park

Harris Beach State Park Campsite

In between Mother Nature’s deluges, we marveled in the area’s natural beauty, hunted the elusive Oregon Coastal Redwood trees, enjoyed a couple great meals in town, wandered among the tide pools, stocked up on necessities at the local Fred Meyer, and fly-fished the Chetco River.

Oregon Coast Boy and Dog

Harris Beach Brookings Oregon

Harris Beach [Brookings, Oregon]

Starfish

Oregon GMC Denali HD

Trying to find the elusive Oregon Coastal Redwoods…

Oregon Redwoods

After 2+ hours and 40+ miles, we finally found the the Oregon Redwoods.

On Monday January 15th, after six straight weeks in Oregon, we crossed the border into California.  Over the past six months we’ve spent 57-days in Oregon and our expectations have been repeatedly confounded.  Somehow, Oregon has worked its way under our skin.  When we lived in Washington we visited Oregon a few times (mostly the Portland area) and generally felt mediocre about our stays.  However, now that we’ve ventured beyond the greater Portland area and explored more of Oregon’s diverse landscapes, we find ourselves with a different attitude.  I suspect that in the future we will add many more days to our Oregon tally scorecard.

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Freedom and the Central Oregon Coast

After ringing in the New Year in Newport, our game plan was a slow roll southward along the coast. With no real schedule driving us, we were basking in our freedom and our bounty of options, so we drove 20-miles down the road to Tillicum Beach and our first campsite of 2018. We had heard great things about both Tillicum Beach and the nearby town of Yachats, so in celebration of our autonomy we decided to check them out.

Tillicum Beach [Yachats, Oregon]

Tillicum Beach [Yachats, Oregon]

Located on a low bluff above a lovely Oregon beach, Tillicum Beach is a great place to spend a few days. The campground has several dry camping sites that overlook the beach; however, thick bushes tend to block the view from the majority of the sites. There are electric and water sites on the inside of the loop and we wanted to top off our batteries while we could because we weren’t sure where we were headed next. While we couldn’t see the ocean from our electric site, we could hear the waves crashing on the beach throughout the night. We all enjoyed the easy access to the beach and Dash thoroughly enjoyed the ability to run free on the beach. After setting up camp and getting our beach frolicking out of the way, we headed into Yachats to get the lay of the land.

Airstream Tillicum Beach Oregon

Our Tillicum Beach Campsite

Beyond being quaint as all get-out, we can’t say much about Yachats. We would like to say something about it, but it seems that most businesses close-up for a few weeks in early January. The place felt like a ghost town or the well-maintained remnants of a zombie apocalypse. With very little to keep us in the area, and grey and rainy skies forecasted for the next few days, we opted to spend only one night at Tillicum and continue our way southward, opting to spend a few days amongst the Oregon Dunes.

Coastal Oregon [Heceta Head Lighthouse]

Heceta Head Lighthouse [Coastal Oregon]

Stretching about 40-miles along the coast from Florence to Coos Bay, Oregon Dunes is one of the largest areas of temperate coastal dunes in the world (who knew?) We planned to establish our home base near the middle of the dunes at Reedsport’s Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. With only 60’ish miles between Tillicum Beach and Reedsport, we once again took our time on U.S. 101.

Looking for Porgs on the Oregon Coast...

Looking for Porgs on the Oregon Coast… [Heceta Head]

About 25-miles south of Tillicum Beach we came to Heceta Head Lighthouse and decided to stop and check it out. We spent about an hour wandering around the lighthouse before continuing our journey south to our next lighthouse.

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Located at the top of a 205-foot headland, Heceta Head Lighthouse is visible over 21-miles out to see and is the most powerful light on the Oregon coast. Access to the lighthouse is via the easy ½-mile long Heceta Lighthouse Trail. Oregon State Parks manages the facility and offers tours of the base of the lighthouse.  Our stop happened to coincide with one their limited winter operating hours.

Umpqua River Lighthouse

Umpqua River Lighthouse

We spent the next four nights in Reedsport at the Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. Besides its location in the Oregon Dunes, Umpqua Lighthouse State Park also boasted a cool lighthouse, a quiet lake, easy access to the quirky towns of Reedsport and Winchester Bay, and reasonable availability to winter Steelhead fly-fishing on nearby Umpqua River tributaries. The small fishing village of Winchester Bay presented several seafood restaurants and a fantastic little bakery. With about a dozen full hook-up campsites, Umpqua Lighthouse State Park was a wonderful small State Park that made an ideal off-season basecamp for our Oregon Dunes explorations.

Siltcoos Beach Oregon Dunes Waxmyrtle Trail

Our hike along the Siltcoos River on the Waxmyrtle Trail ended at a VERY WINDY beach [Oregon Dunes NRA]

We stayed at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park until Saturday, January 6th, when we hooked up and continued south towards Port Orford and Cape Blanco State Park.

Fly Fishing for Steelhead along the Oregon Coast.

Fly Fishing for Steelhead along the Oregon Coast.

Posted in 2018, Oregon, Oregon Dunes NRA, Pacific Northwest | Tagged , | Leave a comment

New Years

Port of Newport RV Park Dry Camping Airstream

Boondocking in Newport, Oregon.

Last year we spent Christmas and New Years in Key West, Florida. This year we were in Oregon—Santa found us in Portland and we rang in the New Year on the Oregon coast…hard to get more polar opposite than that…Regardless, following the complete unraveling of our carefully crafted winter game plan, we finally managed to achieve escape velocity from Portlandia and got back on the road.

Newport, Oregon

During our aborted stay in Portland, we called Roamer’s Rest RV Park in Tualatin, Oregon home. Because our pre-paid month at Roamer’s Rest didn’t expire until the 9th of January, and our recently-acquired cum recently-cancelled YMCA membership lasted through New Year’s Eve, we begrudgingly sheltered in place for 12 additional days after learning that Anna’s Portland locum tenens gig fell through. We considered hitting the road immediately, but we didn’t want to be traveling over Christmas. Also, we weren’t even sure which direction to head?!?! Therefore, we spent a cold and wet Christmas week parked in an RV Park and a town that we increasingly found more depressing each day. We debated staying through New Years, but once a nice weather window materialized we made a break for it. On a warmish and sunny Saturday morning, we spotted Roamer’s Rest the last 11 days of our campsite rent and hit the road.

Historic Nye Beach [Newport, Oregon]

Historic Nye Beach [Newport, Oregon]

Our plan is to head south via the Oregon and California coasts. We have given ourselves an end-of-January deadline to find an alternate locum job for Anna. If nothing workable surfaces, then February will be memorialized with a Big Big Decision regarding the future of the Big Big Trip. In the mean time, with nowhere to be and no timeline to push us along, we decided to ring in the New Year in quaint coastal town of Newport, Oregon. We closed out 2017 and welcomed 2018 at the Port of Newport’s RV Park.

Located on the south side of the art-deco Newport Bridge, next to the very nice City Marina and the World Headquarters of Rogue Brewery, the Port’s RV Park actually consists of three different areas: the main RV Park with full hook-ups, the older and not as nice RV Park Annex located across the street, and the dry camping/overflow lot. At $22 per night with access to the RV Park’s bathhouse, the dry camping was $12 per night cheaper than the RV Park (during the off-season) and exactly our speed.

Essentially a large parking lot with lined-off campsites, our dry camping site worked out perfectly fine. Other than the late-night barking of sea lions and the occasional car cutting across the lot (either heading to, or coming from, the marina or Rogue’s House of Spirits, an Artesian distillery), the Dry Camping area was empty, quiet, and peaceful. All-in-all, Newport turned out to be the perfect place to offset the frustrating and stressful previous three weeks in a wet, crowded, and cigarette smoke-filled, suburban Portland RV Park.

Newport is a fairly large town with ample infrastructure and all the standard amenities. We spent our time in Newport across the bay exploring the historic Bayside and Nye Beach areas, as well as the Oregon Coast Aquarium and the Rogue Brewery—both located a short walk (5-min for the brewery and 10-min for the aquarium) from the RV Park. We had planned on visiting Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, but it was closed for renovations. Although the marina market rents crab pots and the port area has ample fishing and crabbing areas, we decided to do it the easy way and pick up our New Year’s Eve Dungeness crabs at South Beach Fish Market, a local seafood place that is short walk from the RV park.

We closed out 2017 not knowing what 2018 will look like. Where will we be this spring? Will the Big Big Trip continue into the summer? Will we be with our road friends on the #alaskacaravan2018? Regardless, now that we’re out of Portland and back on the road things are already looking better. We have a fresh perspective and a better outlook. Irrespective of how it closed out, 2017 was a fantastic year.

Spider Crabs! [Oregon Coast Aquarium - Newport, Oregon]

Spider Crabs! [Oregon Coast Aquarium – Newport, Oregon]

Between leaving Key West, Florida last January and arriving on the Oregon Coast this New Years, we traveled over 18,000-miles, staying in 101 different campsites and parking spots across 27 different states. We spent time exploring the shores of the Gulf Coast and the backroads of the southeast. We spent much of April studying the history of democracy by wandering the halls of our Nation’s Capitol in Washington, D.C. and meandering the nearby historical towns Williamsburg, Jamestown, Charlottesville, and Gettysburg, all spots that were pivotal in our birth and development as a country. We watched the birth of an Airstream in Jackson Center and the frolicking of baby bears and a moose in the Tetons and Yellowstone. We climbed among the ruins of ancient Pueblo people at Mesa Verde and stood in footsteps of American Soldiers and Lakota Sioux Warriors at Little Bighorn. We stood in awe on the line of totality, sharing cosmic syzygy with some of our favorite traveling families. 64 different National Parks, Monuments, Historic Sites, Seashores, and Memorials captivated us as we marveled at the grandeur of nature and were sometimes saddened by our shared history. Overall, 2017 gave us the chance to see things we’ve never seen, learn things we didn’t know, and remind us of lessons we may have forgotten. But most importantly, 2017 further opened our eyes, expanded our horizons, and broadened our perspectives.

Nye Beach Whalebone

Owen gave Nye Beach a thumbs up!

New Years 2017 was filled with excitement and optimism. We were sitting on a beach in Key West and had finally learned to slow the fuck down and enjoy the ride. New Years 2018 finds us on the other side of the country and filled with slightly different emotions. But we remain optimistic about the future. We’re optimistic because of the freedom and options that this lifestyle provides. We’re confident because of the experiences we’ve had and the lessons we’ve learned over the last 12 months. We’re bullish on 2018 because while it may not be exactly what we had planned, it will probably be exactly what we need. And, things have a funny way of working out if you give them a chance to do so…

The last sunset of 2017 [Newport, Oregon]

The last sunset of 2017 [Newport, Oregon]

Some Random 2017 Statistics:

Miles Towed:  18,328-miles

Days spent traveling:  101 out of 365 days (28% of total)

Average Miles Towed During Travel Days:  181-miles per travel day

Gallons of Diesel Towing:  1,560-gallons

Average Towing Economy:  11.7 mpg

Free Nights of Camping:  121 out of 365 (33% of total)

Free Nights spent Moochdocking with Family or friends:  90 out of 121 (74% of free nights)

Boondocking Nights:  73 (20% of total)

Total Camping Costs (Campground fees, etc–NOT Fuel):  $7,069.62

Nye Beach Newport Oregon

Historic Nye Beach [Newport, Oregon]

Posted in 2017, 2018, Oregon, Pacific Northwest | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Change of Plans; or How I Saw Santa Taking a Big Big Dump under our Christmas Tree

Airstream Christmas Tree

Getting into the Christmas Spirit in Portland.

Santa arrived early and dropped off a big ol’ stinky lump of coal. Our plans for a four-month Portland fulltime sabbatical while Anna worked at a local hospital were completely squashed by the Jolly Fat Man (no not me, I’m not that jolly). But he wasn’t the sole Grinch in this story; he had a little assistance from the bungling and bureaucratic elves at both the health care recruiting company Anna had been working with and the Oregon Medical Board. Two weeks into our Portland stay everything had started to fall apart—we weren’t sure what the future would hold, we were back at square one, and we were feeling pretty dejected and discouraged…

It’s been a challenging few months since late-August. We had finally arrived in Washington State after a few wonderful Oregon weeks hanging with friends and watching the eclipse. However, our stay was short-lived after we learned about my stepmother’s death and turned around and headed back to Michigan. Late-August and all of September were angst filled and stressful. We were concerned about my dad and wondered how long we would be in Michigan. We had previously roughed out our fall and winter plans and weren’t sure how things were going to shake out after the Midwestern detour. Anna was knee-deep into finding a west coast locum tenens assignment and we weren’t even sure where we would be when the time came. We were definitely not sure if we were ready for another cross-country drive (our third in six months!)

However, as Michigan’s fall leaves began to turn and drop to the ground, our plans started to fall into place. We eventually reached a détente with our inner voices and an autumn and winter game plan slowly developed. While a winter assignment in Portland wasn’t ideal, it was back within the fleece-clad embrace of Mother Pacific Northwest. Portland is a major city with plenty of distractions to keep us occupied during those short, grey, and wet Upper Left Coast days. Plus, being in Portland would enable us to have the Airstream reupholstered and let us take care of our lingering household goods storage problem. Even though it was on the other side of the country, we could make Portland work. However, in the back of our minds a grey cloud of doubt remained. While we were feeling outwardly optimistic, for some reason we both had subconscious doubts and were waiting for the next shoe to drop…

A cold, frosty, foggy morning in Portland.

A cold, frosty, foggy morning in Portland.

So it wasn’t a complete surprise when, over the last few weeks, issues began to surface. We could see our previously stable and strong plan slowly becoming more delicate and begin to fray at the edges. We had done our part with due diligence, but were completely powerless. With no control over the situation, we watched as the ham-handed recruiting company haphazardly worked with the apparatchik of the Oregon Medical Board. Ultimately, buffoonery lost the battle and Anna would not be getting her Oregon Physician Assistant license until at least March. I could go in detail about the behind-the-scenes machinations, but suffice it to say that the headhunters dropped the ball and we were left holding the bag.

We spent the week before Christmas unpacking the substantial bag of shit coal the recruiting company Santa left us. Unpacking that bag consisted of the daunting task of undoing all the things we had already done in order to live in an Airstream in one spot for four months with a manageable quality of life. We had reserved, paid for, and moved into our monthly RV Park campsite. We had procured a small storage unit and emptied the truck and trailer of some of the fulltime detritus that we wouldn’t need while parked long-term. The recruiting company promised a rental car, so we secured a very nice Hertz Hybrid to make Anna’s 60-mile round-trip commute easier. We signed up at the local YMCA and enrolled Owen in both swim classes and Homeschool PE classes. The list goes on and on, but you get the point…

Willamette River [Portland, Oregon]

Willamette River [Portland, Oregon]

As I write this on December 23rd, we have managed to undo most of our commitments, but a lot of entropy remains. Besides the simple chaos that this SNAFU throws into our winter schedule, it also has far-reaching implications to the future of the Big Big Trip.

Anna needs to periodically work in order to maintain her proficiency as a Physician Assistant. In her field, once an employment gap approaches the two-year point, red flags are triggered and eyebrows are raised. One’s proficiency and dedication is called into question and, ultimately, their marketability and employability plummets.

Not biggies if you hate your job and want to go in a different direction or continue a fulltime traveling adventure. However, Anna loves her career and wants to continue to practice medicine. Plus, we don’t intend to continue the Big Big Trip forever. We eventually want to settle down. However, our settling down has always been a post-Alaska proposition. Therefore, we are now at a crossroads. Either we 1) Quickly find another locum tenens position in a state where she is already licensed (I’m looking at you Washington, California, and Michigan), work for a few months to reset the proficiency clock, and maintain course and speed towards Alaska this summer; 2) We ignore the two-year dictum, enjoy the next 10-months (including Alaska), hang up our fulltime traveling boots in the fall and deal with the career fallout; or 3) We give up on a locum tenens assignment, give up on Alaska 2018, and start looking for a place to settle down this winter.

Owen cutting up at Portland's Saturday Market - on a Sunday.

Owen cutting up at Portland’s Saturday Market – on a Sunday.

At this point we have no idea what we’ll ultimately end up doing. Due to time constraints, we’ve decided to spend Christmas in Portland and start heading south sometime in the next week or two. We’ll meander southward down the Oregon coast (can you say Steelhead fly-fishing?), into California and towards the southwest while continuing to pursue another temporary assignment. If nothing materializes by the end of January the timing of finding and completing a temporary assignment isn’t feasible and we’ll take a good hard look at the options listed above. If nothing pans out, then we’ll assume the fates are trying to tell us something and we’ll be forced to sit down and make a Big Big Decision.

[Ed. In all seriousness, while this post comes across as pretty negative, we are actually doing fine now.  We were angry and frustrated earlier in the week, but have settled into a comfortable acceptance of things. While this may be the beginning of the end of the Big Big Trip, it may also be the beginning of a new chapter. That’s pretty exciting! In the depths of our irritation at the State of Oregon and the Recruiting Company, we forgot how lucky we are and how many options we have available to us; after 24-hours of moping about, we remembered. There are a lot of people who don’t have the freedom or the options that we have. Maybe we started to take those freedoms and those options for granted? So, if there is a silver lining in all this, it is that it reminds us to appreciate and be thankful for all that have and all that we’ve already done. We’ll be just fine.]

Thumbs up to the Saturday Market.

Thumbs up to the Saturday Market.

Enjoying a mid-morning fuel stop at Portland's Blue Star Donuts.

Enjoying a mid-morning fuel stop at Portland’s Blue Star Donuts.

Posted in 2017, Oregon, Pacific Northwest | Tagged | Leave a comment

Final Push to Oregon

Monday morning after Thanksgiving, following a nine-day stay at the in-laws’ home in Colorado, we hitched up our wagons and continued our westward journey. We had reservations in the Portland-area in 10-days and wanted to take our time for the final 1,200-miles. Besides short’ish travel days, we wanted to spend a few days exploring both Salt Lake City and Boise.

An Airstream and GMC Somewhere in Utah along I-70.

Somewhere in Utah along I-70.

After a night on the road at a KOA in Green River, Utah, we pulled into Ogden Utah’s Hill Air Force Base Family Camp in the mid-afternoon on Tuesday, the 28th of November. On our way into Salt Lake City, we stopped at Airstream of Utah to procure a new bathroom vent fan, as ours had finally died after a slow and agonizing downward death spiral that started somewhere in Illinois.

Airstream Bathroom Roof Vent Fan Replacement

I tried to find a replacement motor for our bathroom vent fan, but didn’t have any luck. I resorted to paying $70 for entire new vent fan assembly at Airstream of Utah. I later found out that a friend of mine had the gouge on new motors and I could have gotten one for about 1/3rd the cost of the new assembly…oh well! The replacement only took about an hour, including getting the ladder out of the truck, a quick trip to Lowes for a putty knife and caulk gun (I’m not sure where mine went?!?!), installation, and clean-up.

As it was our second visit to the Salt Lake area and we failed to do any exploring during our first stop, we had admirable plans to get out and do the tourist-thing. However, we were feeling road weary and ultimately ended up curtailing most of our plans. Owen’s homeschooling, replacing the vent fan, and running errands ended up consuming our first full day in Salt Lake City. Visiting the Golden Spike National Historic Site, Timpanogos Cave National Monument, and Spiral Jetty have been on our list for a while, but we couldn’t muster the motivation to make the drive to see them from our campsite in Ogden. However, we did venture to downtown Salt Lake and spent an afternoon at the Natural History Museum of Utah.

This has been our second visit to Salt Lake City and we finally managed to get downtown and explore. We spent the late-morning and early-afternoon digging around in the Natural History Museum of Utah. We thoroughly enjoyed this fantastic museum and Owen ranks it in his top 3—yes, Owen loves museums and ranks them?!?!

This has been our second visit to Salt Lake City and we finally managed to get downtown and explore. We spent the late-morning and early-afternoon digging around in the Natural History Museum of Utah. We thoroughly enjoyed this fantastic museum and Owen ranks it in his top 3—yes, Owen loves museums and ranks them?!?!

This is the Lythronax, or Gore King, and it is an extinct genus of the Tyrannosauridae family—meaning that it’s a long lost relative of the T. Rex and the oldest known tyrannosaurid. This Lythronax was discovered in 2009, when a BLM employee stumbled upon its nose sticking out of the ground at Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM). Lythronax is just one of the dozen or so newly discovered dinosaurs that paleontologists have found at GSENM since being designated a National Monument in 1996.

This is the Lythronax, or Gore King, and it is an extinct genus of the Tyrannosauridae family—meaning that it’s a long lost relative of the T. Rex and the oldest known tyrannosaurid. This Lythronax was discovered in 2009, when a BLM employee stumbled upon its nose sticking out of the ground at Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM). Lythronax is just one of the dozen or so newly discovered dinosaurs that paleontologists have found at GSENM since being designated a National Monument in 1996.

The Short-Faced Bear at the Natural History Museum of Utah.

The Short-Faced Bear at the Natural History Museum of Utah.

The Natural History Museum of Utah is located on the University of Utah's campus, amongst a park with miles of hiking trails into the surrounding foothills.

The Natural History Museum of Utah is located on the University of Utah’s campus, amongst a park with miles of hiking trails into the surrounding foothills.

On Saturday, December 2nd we drove north out of Utah and made our way to Boise, Idaho, a place that we’ve always wanted to visit. We stayed at Gowen Field Army National Guard Base, located just outside of town near the Boise International Airport.

The Idaho State Capitol in Boise.

The Idaho State Capitol in Boise.

While Gowen Field’s campground may be small and it may lack some of the amenities of larger parks, at $12 per night for off-season full hook-up sites, we couldn’t afford not to stay. We’ve traveled by so many times and we’ve always heard great things about Boise, we decided to give it a shot. We spent a very cold Sunday and Monday poking around Boise and, overall we liked what we found.

Boise's Freak Alley Gallery.

Boise’s Freak Alley Gallery.

On Sunday morning, I spent a couple of hours writing at Dawson Taylor Coffee Roasters, a funky downtown Boise coffee shop, while Anna and Owen worked on school back at the trailer. Afterwards, we visited the World Center for Birds of Prey, followed by a fantastic early dinner at the Bitter Creek Alehouse, and then a walk around the downtown Boise checking out the local shops’ window displays, before stumbling upon the Freak Alley Gallery.

We spent a couple hours visiting the Peregrine Funds’ The World Center for Birds of Prey, located just south of Boise. Founded in 1970, the Peregrine Fund successfully restored the population of Peregrine Falcons, resulting in its removal from the Endangered Species List in 1999. They have since expanded their focus and now work on conservation efforts for more than 100 species of raptors around the world.

Boise’s World Center for Birds of Prey

We spent a couple hours visiting the Peregrine Funds’ The World Center for Birds of Prey, located just south of Boise. Founded in 1970, the Peregrine Fund successfully restored the population of Peregrine Falcons, resulting in its removal from the Endangered Species List in 1999. They have since expanded their focus and now work on conservation efforts for more than 100 species of raptors around the world.

The World Center for Birds of Prey is currently operating a successful breeding and release program of the highly endangered California Condor. Their efforts have resulted in a growing flock of Condors in the Grand Canyon and southern Utah. Less than 22 condors remained alive in the 1980s. Their decline has been blamed on the use of lead bullets, which tend to break into many small pieces on impact. These tiny fragments can litter the ground and leach into the soil and water, where it works its way up the food chain. If the hunter doesn’t collect his kill, or cleans it in the field and leaves organs behind, scavengers ingest those lead fragments. Lead is poisonous. Condors only eat dead animals. Well…you get the point. Luckily, lead shotgun pellets have been banned for waterfowl use in most states. Unluckily, on their first day in office the Trump Administration revoked the lead ban in the 150 million-acres managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The World Center for Birds of Prey is currently operating a successful breeding and release program of the highly endangered California Condor. Their efforts have resulted in a growing flock of Condors in the Grand Canyon and southern Utah. Less than 22 condors remained alive in the 1980s. Their decline has been blamed on the use of lead bullets, which tend to break into many small pieces on impact. These tiny fragments can litter the ground and leach into the soil and water, where it works its way up the food chain. If the hunter doesn’t collect his kill, or cleans it in the field and leaves organs behind, scavengers ingest those lead fragments. Lead is poisonous. Condors only eat dead animals. Well…you get the point. Luckily, lead shotgun pellets have been banned for waterfowl use in most states. Unluckily, on their first day in office the Trump Administration revoked the lead ban in the 150 million-acres managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

On Monday, continued our explorations downtown goofing around at the very cool neighborhood park and playground—Camel’s Back Park—followed by Idaho’s only hands-on science center. The Discovery Center of Idaho is a small, but fun STEM-focused children’s science center with over 150-exhibits for budding scientists. And, it’s another ASTC.org reciprocal passport member! There were several other things we wanted to do and see, but with Portland reservations starting on Wednesday, we didn’t have the time to spare.

Anna and I took turns hiking to the top of the hill at Camel's Back Park while Owen played in the

Anna and I took turns hiking to the top of the hill at Camel’s Back Park while Owen played in the elaborate playground.

Young, funky, and eclectic, Boise is small, livable city that punches above its weight. Nestled between mountains and the agricultural plain, Boise boasts a clean dynamic and attractive downtown area, a low cost of living, and what appeared to be a robust cultural scene. Overall, Boise felt like a cleaner and less Hipster’esque Portland and we liked it a lot. It’s definitely somewhere we want to explore more deeply down the road.

Panoramic from the top of Camel's Back.

Panoramic from the top of Camel’s Back.

On Tuesday morning we said “Goodbye” to Idaho and “Hello” to Oregon. With about 450-miles to go, we planned to spend the night on the road. We zeroed in on the Pendleton, Oregon area as a good halfway stopping point. A little research revealed an Oregon State Park located just east of Pendleton, high in the Blue Mountains.

Welcome to Oregon

Welcome to Oregon

We left Boise fairly early (by our standards) and with plenty of time on our hands, we pulled off I-84 near Baker City, Oregon to get coffee. We did a driveby of the town and it looked like a neat place to poke around sometime, so we filed that away and went looking for coffee. With piping hot Starbucks in-hand, we headed back towards the Interstate and quickly noticed the sign for the BLM’s National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. We drove the six or so miles up into hills to unfortunately turn around—the Interpretive Center was closed and operating under their Winter Hours regime (Thurs-Sun only). Like the pioneers of old, we were undaunted by this setback and simply turned around and continued our journey up in to the Blue Mountains.

Airstream and GMC Winter Wonderland at Oregon's Emigrant Springs State Park.

Winter Wonderland at Oregon’s Emigrant Springs State Park.

As we climbed higher into Oregon’s Blue Mountains, we found ourselves leaving the high desert scrub and entering a winter wonderland. By the time we arrived at Emigrant Springs State Park, we were in full-on Frosty mode and spent a glorious (if not a bit loud due to the proximity to I-84) evening camped in a virtually empty state park, nestled amongst beautiful snow covered cedars trees. On Wednesday morning, once the sun was high enough to melt any ice on the secondary roads, we headed out towards the Columbia River and Portland.

Airstream and Mt Hood

Three months and 5,665-miles after we abruptly left Washington, we’re back in the Pacific Northwest.

We had an uneventful trip through the Columbia River gorge and arrived in Portland at Champoeg State Park by the early afternoon. A large state historical area, Champoeg State Park has a wonderful campground that is situated along the Willamette River and is at the front door of Oregon’s Willamette Valley winery area. The park itself is criss-crossed by numerous biking trails that lead the visitor center of historic sites. We spent a few really nice days getting situated and prepped for our extended winter stay in Portland.

Airstream Champoeg State Park

Oregon’s Champoeg State Park – It’s pronounced sham-poo-ey, by the way!

 

Posted in 2017, Airstream Maintenance, Idaho, Oregon, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, Utah | Tagged , | Comments Off on Final Push to Oregon