© June, 1, 2016—by GYPSY QUILL
I left phoenix, Arizona on the 17th of May. My plan was to get my friend, Oregon Princess, moved out of her apartment on E. Pontiac Way in Fresno California by the 23rd. It had been planned and communicated about for some time. I could not let my friend down …
There’s not much I can comment on about Fresno, except that her bedroom window had been riddled with bullet holes from shootouts across the street at another apartment complex, by known druggies. Bullets tend to travel far when they miss the intended target especially when the shooter is loaded out of his mind. I couldn’t wait to get her out of there, and have nothing else to say about Fresno, California, but that I would not recommend it to anyone.
All sorts of changes cropped up for us both during the course of planning, which caused us to re-arrange our plan of action more than one time. But by the 17th I was prepared to arrive in time to have her out by the 23rd, which was her dead line to have vacated the apartment by. I brought along my photographer M.W. so we could deliver to you pictures and a story of our planned camping tour.
My westward travel from Phoenix to my friend’s place was a quick and straight through run, even though I had five hundred and ninety plus miles of road ahead of me when I started out.
I had stored up much food and packed it away and personal stuff long before that date in order to be ready to hit the road and was well planned ahead through correspondence with her via email. Therefore, she was prepared equally as much or better, to go in a timely fashion when I arrived.
She had been let down due to the fact a couple people that had committed to moving her for a fee had reneged, and at the last minute. I was the only one available and that could help her. Going through a change, my self, in order to be prepared to vacate my apartment by the first of August and move into a one bedroom, I had packed up most of my things and was half way ready when she informed me she had no one else to help her move. More over, the only way it would be affordable would be if I took her in the Versa Note—Nissan I nick-named Nissie, which gets high gas mileage of 45 miles to the gallon on the open road and 38 in the city. The shocker news had my head spinning trying to juggle time, money, and action in order to be successful for both of us to be moved by the deadlines.
The Nissie was packed to the brim. We appeared to be like astronauts with gear stuffed all around us and protruding from behind us to the front of us barely able to move. There was absolutely not one stitch of room left to pack anything more into it. I to this day do not see how in the world we got it all in. We were at our car seat room only.
We left Fresno on the twenty first of May with a routed course of a camping tour. That was switched around many times over, but our direction was one way and we did much camping along the way as we headed north on Interstate five straight for Portland, Oregon. This was her next dream city/state to live in. Ironically, being the adventurists we both are, one could categorize us as “Dreamers”. And … a slogan of this state is … “Oregon Welcomes Dreamers!” You might say it is a perfect fit for Oregon Princess and my self. I’ve always been a wanderer, but did not have the luxury of financial support for that endeavor for this trip. She footed the bill for the travel and equal food expenses. So it was no cost to me! The time I am spending is the time I cherish on this journey and our time together is invaluable. The journey started out as a direction toward the Redwood country of Northern California, a beautiful area and very shady, cool, and nice place to venture to as a warm up to the extraordinary scenic views of Oregon. I can’t say enough about the picturesque scenery in Oregon, so I will let M.W.’s pictures speak for themselves.
Initially when we arrived in the Portland area, it was a rainy day. And it did not stop, but set in for the duration. That is, for days we experienced a heavy amount of rain fall, mixed with fog and the climate was very humid. This was what we’d expected and rather enjoyed it. The switch for me was heavenly. The dry and extreme heat of 125 degrees in the Sonora desert is not something you get use to but rather, you learn how to work around it. But the blessing for me was that very switch as I longed to feel the humid and wet climate again. This is what we experienced on this journey into Oregon, a much needed relief!
We first camped at Lake Shasta still in northern California since we did not have time to get to the mountain in order to view and take pictures of Mount Shasta before night fall, when we had to find a camping place. The park was closing shortly after we got there so we found a roadside spot to sleep over just outside the park and near the lake and no hassle from any one about it. M.W. took advantage of some pictures including a fawn that was very friendly and unafraid.
The next morning we headed up into Oregon and took care of our business, first to unload the Nissie into storage so we could have breathing room, then secondly it was business to do with Oregon Princess’ move from California to Oregon as well as, other business we had. There were many appointments fulfilled. In fact, the first three days after arriving in Portland was spent that very same way! Business and new doctors were both on the agenda!
Then the real camping tour began. We camped at “Camp Creek Campground” in the Mount Hood National Forest. Fortunately, all the campgrounds in Oregon are free from October to May. At some point at the end of May, they begin collecting fees for over-night-camperers. The parks all furnish services and some more than others. The state had a crew cleaning up “Camp Creek” campground while we were staying there. It was too rainy to set up camp so we slept in the car. But it was gated so as to keep people out. The problem was root rot in trees. They were dying and falling. These were monster size firs and oaks and others. It was happening all over the area. I suppose it is caused by all the rain that never seems to let up during cold winters. The state workers who are the clean up crew to prepare camps for summer, were very informative though as we had no knowledge of what to expect as campers. They are where we got the aforementioned information from and informed us we could camp right outside the gate that next week, and not inside as it was hazardous due to root rot “falling trees.” But they also clarified … “we had a week left before fees would apply.” And noted they would apply at all the campgrounds. We decided to stay there for the time being.
The next morning we were daring enough and hiked into the Mount Hood National Forest—beyond the locked gate, and M.W. took pictures even though there was much cold rain coming down. We got soaked but the pictures were worth every minute of our clothes becoming saturated in rain water through out. We went ahead and brought soap and towels and bathed near the creek and that was a major relief and were able to sleep better that night!!
We visited Trillium Lake near Mount Hood the next morning, but it was so foggy and rainy that we were not able to get pictures there. It became a disappointment that eventually led to another camp site near the town of Cascade Locks right off interstate eighty four a very scenic interstate on both sides going east. Some of the views are awesome. There was a road side camp just off the interstate in Cascade Locks on a side road, we made from a pullover spot. After I built a stone fire place M.W. showed me online on her telephone, laws about roadside camping. It was not allowed in some places. And campfires definitely were out of the question on the pullover places on side of a road. This was not a campground. So we just slept in the car.
We were busy pitching and unpitching camp sites every day. It was a different place we’d camp each time. We started out with free roadside camps in and around the Mt. Hood National Forest area
Let me re-cap so far. First Lake Shasta, California( free) in the car, then “Camp Creek” in Mount Hood National Forest Oregon(free), then onto Cascade Locks(free) in the car.
At this point we were in the Columbia River Gorge and started doing some trail hiking to seek out waterfalls to photograph and to experience the hiking we all had looked forward to. They all were mostly in and around the Gorge. So we hit the trails … and the pictures that were taken along the way were just as nice as the waterfalls themselves and of course helps tell our story. Those pictured trails we hiked can be seen in our movie and is why we think the movie on this page is a must see movie! “HITTING THE TRAILS” is well worth watching and on “FULL SCREEN.”
M.W. did a brilliant job of sorting out the order of the waterfalls we saw, using pictures, so you could follow our journey better. Her planning of this part of our journey was excellent.
Keep in Mind M.W.’s navigating the course of travel routes for me is what made it possible for us to create a planned route of camp sites and trails to hike. Our seeking of camp sites had been successful and well liked by us all because of her expertise in this area. She used her phone to find places to camp—online and read maps that way and directed me to be able to know which way to go. My deafness did not allow any correspondence. So while I was driving, she would point in a direction and continue to guide me when and where to turn. I just followed her guidance as she read the information on the small telephone screen. Often times randomly making decisions as we went, about where to next! Obviously not a typical way to plan a camping tour but it worked.
We visited so many nature scenes to take pictures that we wore our selves out, but mostly because as we were taking pictures we were hiking in various wilderness areas. Most of the trails were very hard.
All in all it had been a routed order of mostly The Columbia River Gorge. We hiked our first trail to … Wakeena Falls.
The second Fall we hiked to was:
The third trail we took to:
Horse tail falls
The next one was awesome:
Multnomah Falls(1 ¼ mile high) it was a steep uphill climb but we made it to the very top where we overlooked a large area of The Columbia River Gorge.
We decided to take advantage of a little free time and drove to Sea Side on the beach –at the end of the Lewis and Clarke trail on the far west coast of Oregon, and near by it, Cannon Beach, took a roadside sleep over night and then, back to more trails and falls in the Columbia River Gorge.
After the Multnomah Falls hike we were sore from head to toe. But the challenge was rewarded with the views. The break from trails to the beach was a good change but the beach was wet from rain fall and we were there in the evening into night. So it wasn’t the sunny beach of southern Oregon. It was west of Portland.
After we left the west coast we drove quite a ways and were ready for a rest, we eventually stopped at a campground we saw and decided to stay the night because according to the previous rangers we saw at “Camp Creek Campground,” we still had some free time to camp. This was a nice campground.
We enjoyed the Sherwood Camp ground free the first night but, (for a fee for two nights thereafter as we were approached by a ranger), the fees began to apply. But at this point the rain finally let up and we had a beautiful bright blue sky to view and could enjoy the clarity of the firs and oaks in its foreground for the first time since our arrival in Oregon. This camp is where Princess was able to pitch her newly bought tent for the first time in Oregon and camped in a tent alone for the first time in her life! She kept her cat Oreo in the tent over night and a big stick I gave her for fighting power if ever needed as a safety precaution although we never expected that she would need it. I continued to sleep in the car. I had the back seats folded down and put a slim mattress over the whole back area, and folded the front seats forward too, making the majority of the car at night a big bed.
I decided to take some notes down and begin to write this story before it got way to far away from me to remember the order or chain of events that took place. So I wrote …
“I'm appreciating the back to nature splurge. I am enjoying the sweet serenity the outdoor living can give us. I'm digging the back wood country side views and the clean air I breathe, as well as watching thousands of streams in a creek that runs directly behind our camp. Streams, of which take their own direction, sort of the way we humans do in life. The creek is an off shoot of Hood River. I can even enjoy washing dishes when I don’t care for it at all normally. A change of scenery and the mood changes with it, how amazing.
“Although I am deaf and cannot hear the sound of the creek, I can see the sound, and hear it with my mind. I can imagine the sound it makes while I watch the current flow and the white caps of the rapids gush through the boulders. The pure look of the water is serene, just as the surrounding environment. We had our first camp fire here at Sherwood Campsite, which had a grill for it. And the next morning I made my first Mountain coffee in a medium size pot over the open fire. How I needed it and was in camp heaven. It was French dark roast, and was delicious as well as an eye opener over a smaller fire than the night before.
“But this weekend has a special, yet, hurtful meaning. I am watching a black pick up truck slowly pass before my eyes with an American Flag on a pole standing up right in the breeze waving its glory. But I do not see stars and stripes, but rather, I see the purpose of it this weekend. How many times have I seen this very same flag? How many times did I stare at it? I never do just glance as it is something I’ve seen all my life. My thoughts are always the same… which are … “It was originally sewn together by Betsy Ross.” The thing I had learned in grammar school about the American flag. In deep thought … this time I do see the stars and stripes and focus on the meaning. It hit me like a ton of bricks.
“During the course of this camping excursion, I had lost all time for days and dates. It is Memorial Day weekend. Still most wouldn’t think of it as being special, just an annual celebration people in this big country use for an excuse to party and get smashed every year, an American tradition which has been for many years. “Nothing new”, as they say, but—a tradition of all Americans we respect!!
“It is just that my father, whom I’ve loved dearly and to whom I was greatly attached, was a Veteran of the War. He was not lost in war, just in time, during my life, of which, I had no relationship with him. It was sad, and was my own fault as much as the fault of anyone else. But again, that thought hit me like a ton of bricks. So the Flag was an eye opener, more so than the coffee. I checked my calendar to make sure I was correct and sure enough, the calendar does not lie, it was Memorial Day Weekend.
“We would be homeless except the camp sites are where our hearts have been. And home is where the heart is. Enough said. This camping tour is exactly appropriate for the occasion.
“On another note … it has become a transition for my friend’s move to Oregon and yet, a pleasure for us both to enjoy as a journey together and yet, another transition in our lives as we had not seen each other for a long time. M.W. loves to take pictures and has become a professional. She has turned her life around. She has found her voice in life and this trip is bringing it out even more so, as she extends her skills in the art of photography. I love to write, and we are a team. Her pictures help tell the story while I write the words.
“But this Memorial Day weekend is special because we are accomplishing several things at the same time! For me it is another journey in my life-time., one more story to share. And something to cherish, for “we are here today and gone tomorrow,” as my mother use to say! “
The camp we took at Sherwood Campground was fantastic. It was heaven and easy to relax under the Douglas firs and the bright blue Oregon sky. Exactly what I needed a change of scenery and a peace of mind. It was one big yard with grass cut low and the boundary was marked off by huge logs and the creek was directly behind the camp. The place furnished us with bathrooms and other facilities even though it was in the middle of a wilderness. Oregon has the best campgrounds I’ve ever seen and even in the most remote places where you wouldn’t expect one to be.
A rhythm that developed between the princess and I was that I gather the fire wood while she lays out the tent where she wants it and then helps me take everything out of the car, the food and other items for camp. M.W. just snaps the photos as we proceed. Neither of them desire to be in the pictures. I then help Princess pitch her tent and we set up the rest of our camp on and around the pic-nic table. I sleep in the back of Nissie with the seats laid down and it is comfortable and my pleasure to stare at the stars and the moon.
Oreo seems to be enjoying his rides in “The Blue Bag” he tends to stay in more than to enjoy the freedom of curiosity searching FOR THINGS AROUNG CAMP … one might expect from a young cat. But he has run off many times chasing birds and other creatures in the wild. Oregon Princess has had to chase him down and put him in the bag to maintain his camp site restrictions due to such a curious nature, so I think he feels more comfortable resting in the bag over all!! And that is one reason why he does not care to leave it.
And the trio that we are makes up our threesome team.
And again, across High way 35 from Sherwood, and up an inclined drive to an area that was secluded from traffic and passers by we found a spot to camp (free) for two days.
We had visited the Ranger Station down the highway 35 at Toll Bridge Park. It had a shower facility too!! We went there for help because after riding most of a day to check out any free camp sites we never found any. The Ranger highlighted a route on a tourist map to take and end up at a free one. However, on the way there following the rangers directions on the map we were about to pass the Sherwood Camp ground we had just camped at when I noticed a side-dirt- road on the opposite side the highway of Sherwood Campground and just before it, that darted abruptly upward and it was total privacy. The road turned out to be a driveway uphill and soon stopped. But it had an area that could be used as a parking and camping area. It was obvious a bull-dozer and caterpillar had been clearing it making mounds of dirt at the edges of what might be considered a parking area. But nothing there: no signs, warning keep out, and no laws or restrictions against camping or fires and etc… There was a bathroom facility across the highway at the entrance of Sherwood. It was walking distance away! We needed that peace of mind. I immediately pulled onto it and followed up and around a turn we found our next camp site. It was a good switch from Sherwood. We decided to save gas and camping costs. No one else camped there. So we stayed.
We laid out our camping gear and food emptying out Nissie. It was time to re-organize and get to the point of finding things again. It had been a chaotic job to find anything such as a can opener. It was now Saturday May 28th. We were fresh from two days rest at Sherwood. There were only two days left until May 30th, Memorial Day.
This is where we found another water fall and trail but by accident! We had camped near by it at Sherwood and didn’t know it was there much less a major attraction for hikers.
It was Tamanawas Falls:
This was the most treacherous and hardest trail we had hiked thus far.
And the fall was a part of the east fork of Hood River which continued for quite a ways along the trail to high way 35.
We hiked four miles. This was a treacherous trail bedding plenty of pointed and hurtful jagged rocks which, my keds weren’t ready for and had my feet sore from stings that felt like fire shooting through them. This was a trail that was a painful hike of 2 miles –to and 2 miles fro but well worth the agony. This trail had us climbing boulders that were wet and slippery and dangerous. I admit I questioned it but carried on being a daring hiker. I had a slipped lower left disc that had been previously injured. But it had healed, though still delicate. M.W. had a sprained knee but was determined to get pictures. And the photos she took were absolutely beautiful as well as meaningful. They are now part of the story in your eyes.
Monday, the 30th, Memorial Day had arrived. I was washing dishes over by some boulders. We had already had breakfast and put out the campfire. We had experienced many people all weekend pulling up that drive the way we did and abruptly reaching the top and stopped. They soon would see we were camping and it was not a through road. The drivers would back up turn around and go back down the graveled drive or partial road. They were parkless Tamanawas Falls hikers who could not park and go hiking. The road sides were full of cars. Suddenly it happened again this time and it was no tourist passing through. Instead, the county Sherriff had paid us a visit.
I dropped the fork I was then washing and thought… “Oh Boy, here comes a citation!!” He must have seen my expressions and read into my thoughts because he bent over laughing where he was sitting in his police vehicle. When I saw this, I was stunned. Princess did all the talking. And much to my surprise there was no citation.
“No, you are welcome to camp anywhere in this National forest. It is for your enjoyment, as long as it is one hundred feet from any road, or creek. And you are ok!!”
She asked, “Is the water drinkable in that creek across highway 35?”
“I’ve been the sheriff here for 35 years and the water is drinkable. A lot of people are afraid of it, but it is drinkable and pure. “
He was very knowledgeable and friendly too! He answered a lot of pertinent questions we had been wondering about and kicking around in our curious minds.
“It is not illegal to camp here! It is a place the county uses to take dirt from to help fix roads. They won’t be up here even tomorrow. It will be a while before they return to this work place. “
We had thought about maybe someone was making another parking area for Tamanawas Waterfalls attraction. Both sides of 35 had been jammed pack with cars parked by hikers. We weren’t sure until then whether or not we were out of line and keeping people from using it as a designated parking place. But no signs anywhere made us believe it was not parking. The Sherriff verified we were right.
We had been sore for two days after hiking Tamanawas Trail and waterfall. It was a rugged trail. And we were cleaning up camp and packing up to prepare to leave the next Am for a ton of business we had in Portland. My main concern was a thump I felt under the left side of the floor board of Nissie. I was disgusted that it had developed. But it had to be checked. We decided that on the way to Portland we’d stop at toll Bridge Park and use the shower facilities. However we found out that you could not use them unless you had rented a camping space at their facility. So we used the creek across highway 35.
Princess had been receiving General Delivery mail at the main Post Office in Portland. There were a lot of important things to accomplish now and so we had our day cut out for us in the big city. She would check out five apartments. And some business meetings she had to attend. We had set the alarm clock for five a-m.
Tuesday, the next morning, I went ahead and started a small fire to heat coffee I had made the previous evening and kept contained for the early quick rise to be able to leave not long after we all awoke. I consumed the drink and put out the fire with water from the creek. We head back to the city to take care of business.
The place had served us very well. The only thing that is a problem is the highest ridge above that area we were camped was two hundred feet. There had been a couple of falling trees up top the ridge that the girls had heard. Also some falling rocks made their way down the hill side toward us but never reached our camp! The point made here is that, they very well could have and damaged us or Nissie. But no place in Mt. Hood National Forest is safe from falling trees and/ or avalanche. Our blessing was that there were quaking aspens, Douglas firs, cedars, and Noble firs in a cluster around our camp that had grown up very well. So any falling objects from the above ridge would have hit there first. A small forested area within a National forest. The large dirt mounds the heavy equipment had made also would have stopped much debris from falling all the way to us and acted as well for protection from high winds. We had dug out a pit from a mound, beneath a cluster of trees, to set up the tent. We used branches from trees to make into tools to dig and level with.
I couldn’t help but think of the Anasazi, or the Neanderthal cave people. The thoughts of how to do it came to mind at the spur of the moment and I saw how easy it must have been for those ancients to be able to think of how to work the ground and to protect them selves. It is mostly learned from trial and error. But nevertheless we felt safe!
The next place we camped was after a long amount of travel looking for another free site, and we ended up back at Cascade Locks again at the roadside pull-over. Ironically, the firewood we had gathered before and left due to the laws and roadside camping rules, and the fire place we built there was virtually untouched. Still … an early next morning responsibility for me to mail my rent and M.W. to return a defected camera via shipping through Fed Ex, in a timely fashion for refund, led us back to Portland once again! We checked out some possible apartments for rent so Princess could start making a more definite plan to find her new home.
We had been looking for her an apartment intermittently in various areas in the city during all the aforementioned travels and camping-tour, but there was a ways to go before she would be happy with an apartment! She was pursuing a search for—“The Place.” So our business in Portland had been unfinished thus far and had been interrupting our tour. But she had checked into and found that there were no camping places in the city that would be safe, therefore, we were doing both business and pleasure, camping/hiking/photography—and business, back and forth in and out of the city, during our stay in the Portland area.
In the case of the falling trees due to root rot, they become foliage gardens which produce an assortment of plant life that grows in, on, and around the tree. You can see this natural garden growing throughout all of the forests. The mold that is also growing on the bark from the humid/foggy air is light green and there’s the dead bark that becomes a type of fertilizer for some ferns and other foliage throughout the Oregon trails. But the mold grows on everything including rocks and makes the whole area –G-R-E-E-N! This beauty of nature is typical of what you can see in many photographs of Oregon. We didn’t just see it and take pictures of it but we hiked in it for miles and temporarily lived in it. Soon we had to return to the city via interstate 84 a very photogenic area to take pictures of and M.W. did just that!
We found a rest area that was huge and had many services. We pitched a tent at the exit area in a rear parking place for more parking as it had three parking areas for trucks and cars. It had two bathroom /water fountain facilities. To my intrigue there was a nature trail to walk and view various trees from all over the country, each with a sign stating its name. A natural out door tree museum—you might say! There was a tree from every state in the United States and it was secluded under tall Firs and other trees. So we spent the night there. No shower facilities or grills to cook out on but we mixed up a big bowl of mixed vegetables and tuna fish in a sauce combo of mustard and cuisine style mayonnaise. It wasn’t cuisine but tasty enough and filling to get us through the night. Afterwards we played our favorite card game of “Ten of Casino.”
That was the last thing we did before we pitched camp and when we did it was a matter of taking items out of Nissie and re-arranging them, while Princess pitched her tent and dealt with Oreo. He has a habit of two adverse actions. He likes to 1. Run off and chase birds. But the trees here are giants and way too high to climb because the branches are hundreds of feet up the tree and he found that out real fast. We were relieved that there was no need for a fire truck. . . He stopped after about 5 feet up the tree. The other thing he does is climbs up into the floor of Nissie from under the car and hides up inside an area that is like a hole toward the rear. A dangerous position to put him self in and we had to use a big stick to force him out once and don’t want to go there again. So he is a job to watch over. But ironically there is a hand bag she used to keep him in since he was a kitten. He has grown accustomed to it and likes it. It is his comfort zone. He actually looks forward to going back inside it. When she calls him and opens it and drops it on the ground he runs to it and crawls in and then he lies down happily before she zips it shut. It is a comical thing to watch. But at times he is an annoying cat who tries your patience. Therefore, everyone chases and tries to get him to return and this is a never ending story in itself!! The hand bag is the only constellation.
We did not know if this rest area would be safe, much less did we know or think whether it was legal to pitch a tent. We decided to try it after I was so worn down from driving for the better of two weeks. The next morning I was going to awake her at 6:00am so we could break down camp early, but decided to wait and let her rest. I my self did not climb out of the car until around 7:00-am. Although we were all cross from lack of sleep and fatigue from riding so much, we weren’t bickering this time around, as we usually do. And it was very good we didn’t because a state trooper drove up about 7:30am and we both feasted our eyes on him. Fortunately, she had her tent broken down and most of the parts put up and laying flat on the ground. But he did not look, he was slowly riding and copying license plate numbers off the eighteen wheelers and calling in on his radio for a check. He did not even glance at our side of the parking lot. We both stared at each other with a sigh of relief at the same time.
That day we went to Silver Falls near Silverton, Oregon. And we ended up camping in the camp ground there. Of course we hiked 4 miles to the falls and back and took many pictures before pitching camp.
My morning was spent picking wild Raspberries. Why? Because the trails were loaded with them and although they weren’t ripened all the way, they were very tasty. That became my breakfast. By the end of the hiking that morning, I had a full belly.
There were many falls at Silver Falls -- ten in all. It is known as the “Trail of Ten Falls.” A wonderful place for hikers and had been marked as a national site. We only had time for two falls to hike. One was 67 feet tall and the other 136 feet tall. The latter was a long trail and was full of places for photography.
Upper N falls
At some point there was a stairway in the latter called Canyon Trail Falls and it had 77 steps. M.W. counted them. Although we climbed 136 feet, it was a very safe trail and designed so you could not fall. A stretch of it was bordered by a fence for protection as the land was an abrupt drop off straight down directly from the side of the trail. (write more about that experience)
The trails here were wet in a lot of places but the rain had subsided. I should remind you that in the beginning of this journey into the Oregon trails we experienced a ton of rain weather. A mixture of rain and fog and it was rainy most of the time and when it wasn’t the areas around Mt. Hood were all soaked and wet.
Our camp out that night was the second time the Princess camped in a tent alone. We were an excellent team. I gathered fire wood and she prepared dinner with a big chopping block and numerous vegetables. She chopped purple onions to blend with potatoes and scrambled eggs. But she also added mushrooms and seasonings, to flavor it up. It was delicious and filling.
(write more on that camp night experience).Relief of hot showers and etc….
After we left Silver Falls we went into Portland and Princess checked out two apartments. And we took care of more business and then returned to the same rest area on I-84 and spent the night again the night of June 3rd. That was after we did our business, because that was the closest we could camp to Portland I was tired of driving. Besides we were late finishing our business because she had to visit her bank and I got online to schedule my monthly payouts from mine. And we ate there at McDonald’s while being online.(Write more on the next night at rest area).
The next morning on June 4th, was a “Free Camp Day” all over the state of Oregon. You can camp free at any camp site in the state every year on this one day. We found one after she conversed with some people that had camped at it before. It was only a matter of maybe ten minutes from where we were. We knew that every site would be taken quickly and we knew to go ahead and drive to it, so we went there, Champoeg State Park.
“We got the last available camp site this place had to offer this morning. Only because someone cancelled about 30 minutes after we arrived, and only because of M.W.’s expertise in navigation and communication skills with my deafness.
“I am writing this now at the site as it has electric hookups and water faucet and table and parking place at the camp site. I have my lap-top plugged in. We’ve pitched Princess’ tent and ate breakfast of which she cooked on the open fire. And I gathered some firewood for later. We are going to visit the Willamette River nearby a two mile hike to and fro for more pictures. It is the same river that Portland is seated around and we saw in the downtown area when crossing it on the St. John’s Bridge. It appeared to be about two or three miles wide there. We’ll see what photos we get from this same body of water in this area at Champoeg.
“By the time I typed up the above paragraph, a tree fell nearby where some young girls were playing volleyball as they are a team that is traveling. I guess it was a sort of dress rehearsal to an upcoming game because they were in uniform. They are traveling in a Fleetwood bus. Nice luxurious vehicle. They have every convenience of home to the point it is ridiculous to call themselves campers. They even have a small round fence to keep their tiny dogs in of about 4 or 5 so they cannot get out and run off. Then they had a connected larger fence around their camp site to partition off the rest of the area so as to have a fenced in yard so no dogs can enter. They are all sitting around their yard seemingly bored to tears because everything is too easy and much like being in their own back yard at home!! I say this because they are all sitting in the yard wearing long faces and no smiles or excitement is coming from their camp.
“We are at this camp ground at Champoeg and it‘s really a lot like a subdivision of campers because the lots are very small and right next to each other in a cramped position like a small residential design. The only difference is that it contains an assortment of vehicles used by campers. Each lot has its own electric hook up and water source from a faucet but the only space is a drive way and a pic-nick table with a tiny yard. But it has shower facilities in the campground. And we just wanted to rest.
“Throughout the neighborhood is positioned many different types of travel sources. There are travel trailers of numerous sizes. There are buses. Pick up trucks with a camper loaded on top. Pop-up campers hooked to the back of a vehicle and many other sources. We are simply camping in the Nissie with the exception that Oregon Princess and M.W. are camping in a pop up tent. I am sleeping in the car with the seats folded down in the back and the front seats half cocked downward to the dash board. It’s because I snore and keep them up all night long! They said I am real loud. I have a slim mattress type pad that makes it of very little comfort, but it is warmer than the tent. On very cold nights we all share the Nissie, in spite of my sawing logs all night long, cramped but warm. “
That next morning I gathered firewood in the near by woods and brought it out a stack at a time which took several trips. But I sized up from small twigs to big pieces of wood.
I might add, that the gentleman driving the Fleetwood across the street from us and who seemed in charge of the volley ball team and crew that had all the conveniences of home and I mentioned earlier, was also very generous to us. He saw me collecting twigs and other sized branches I broke into pieces on this second day of our stay there. He watched me pull out some newspaper and ball it up into several crunched paper balls and build a t.p. style twig mound over it to start the fire with. It is the way we had been building camp fires in the grills at all the campgrounds we camped. And to me it is using the best way to camp and get back to nature. If you make it so easy and so homely, then what is the point of camping outdoors?
But he eyeballed me and I suppose he thought I was struggling and felt sorry for me that I had it so rough to start a fire. What was rough was all the trail hiking we were doing, and for me, lack of sleep not being use to sleeping in Nissie. But I know I looked rather rough too!!That is when he brought over some bought pieces of treated firewood that would light up very quickly and easily with no challenge … and a thing he called “a cube.” The little white square would light up easily and quickly in any weather and would burn strong enough to start a good size piece of wood immediately. So he gave us some kin-ling and some small pieces of wood. And then that provoked another older fellow in a travel trailer, to bring over some larger pieces of firewood. We were ecstatic about the way we were being treated. We ended up with enough for that camp site and a few more which we took the rest of the wood with us. He gave me an extra cube. To also take with us!
The power had been out since 1:07 am that morning. When I turned on the water faucet to gather a gallon, it was yellow/brown. I knew something was wrong. I decided right then that after we hiked to the river we’d be leaving that area right then!!
Before going to Willamette River, we noticed some unusual things as well as just pretty or interesting things in nature that M.W. took pictures of. We noticed what one would think was an egg, but growing beneath the leaves on an oak tree. And we saw some that had fallen off and were on the ground. When we picked them up for a look over we were confused because none of us had seen anything like it.
“It’s a seed that started off very small.” M.W. found out! She continued … “But if a bee stings it—it becomes big like this.”
“Like this” meant the size and almost shape of an egg. My initial thought was that they were boiled eggs someone left on the ground who had been camping there previously.
M.W. continued … “When the Bee stings the seed it gets big because that is its defense mechanism, and they are called “Galls”.”
The thing I noticed too is that it also developed into a solid state, unlike the original fiber surface of the small seed growing under the leaf, and the surface of the big transformation is like a very thick and solid form of glass. It even almost shines like Porcelain.
They were enlarged seeds from the oak tree. What was strange is that, the seeds were originally very small and a growth under the leaves of the tree. But when a bee stings them they swell up, which is what they did and we couldn’t believe the difference of the size before and after the bee sting. Nevertheless, it was an education!
We headed out for the river and of course with the camera. It was a long hike of about a couple miles to get there but it was through a park area. The whole environment was very clean and fun and easy to hike through. We had seen many things in nature, but a lot of it was scenery such as mountains lakes and etc…. but in this hike M.W. got some other types of pictures. She found a mushroom and a wild cherry bush, some flowers and other things of interest to do with the surrounding environment and Oregon wild vegetation.
Our focus was getting to the river however, and on the way we were entertained by a strange set up I have never seen before.
There was an odd thing when we finally arrived at the river. This was not the super wide body of water we saw in downtown Portland, by the way, but the pier, ramp or side deck that lay across the river bank was made of cement and for people to rest on. Cement was not comfortable at all for someone resting on. There were three young ladies in bikinis sun bathing. And there was a huge pole that was the size of a Light pole made of wood and somehow the deck was attached to the pole. There was a square opening the pole went through. So every time a boat passed on the other side of the river, it was a matter of time when the waves would reach the river’s edge and a matter of time before the cement deck/pier that the young bikini swimmers were laid out on would raise up and down and side by side simultaneously hugging that pole as it did. And you would have to balance your self consistently to keep from falling into the river while this was happening. One of the bikini sun bathers fell in the river. But she swam back to the deck. It was the strangest way to take a sun bath I’d ever seen … he- he -he ….
We decided to leave. It was mainly my self that wanted to but I saw it as danger. We had been swayed off the trail and I really wanted to get back to that aspect of the hike. It took some conferencing but eventually we all agreed.
We took a trail into the woods again and it led us to a naturally structured staircase of roots from a nearby tree. The staircase of roots led downward about five feet below the trail. And this natural stairway enabled us to carefully step down into a cove.
We noticed beyond the cove and between the cove and the river, stretched a small beach type of bank that some swimmers were using to go out into the water to swim. There was a married couple from San Francisco who followed our steps down the rooted stairway and through the cove and out to the beach. M.W. snapped a few shots. We got some pictures of a couple of boats, people, and views and things on the river.
Our view coming from the woods and approaching was a small river front drooped in vines that were strung across the back of the beach—like drapes, secluding the serene lagoon we were standing in. This was an interest and we swung on the vines for the fun of it to get through to the river from that area. I took pictures of Oregon Princess but she refused to allow me to show them on the internet. She and M.W. are a very particular and private set, but I do respect it!
Picking up camp is never fun but we got done fast and moved on from Champoeg Campground. The plan was to drive from there and return to the camp we made across the highway from Sherwood Campground where we previously had met the local County Sherriff. But my lack of sleep had me nodding and almost asleep at the wheel and the nearest site we could think of was Cascade Locks so we agreed to return to that one instead!
This idea changed when we arrived at that place and decided to venture up the road a bit and to an over pass on Interstate 84 which we turned left and drove under to the other side and followed the road further along. We were trying to find a better camping site with more privacy and that we did!
The road was a medium between two bodies of water, both the size of two very large lakes, and surrounded by chains of tall mountains. And for the first time I realized why they were better known as “Cascade Locks” and the area was named after them. I say area because passing through there was not more than a main street with a warehouse and two or three small buildings. When you rode through that area it led you back to Interstate 84. There was nothing else. No police station, no post office, nothing of a sort that you would expect as a tourist. The Locks were the only interest to stop for. In essence, it really wasn’t a town nor a village but an area trying to become a village. But it is a good possibility to become a futuristic progress for one who is a visionary.
M.W. immediately got some pictures upon our arrival at the locks. One she took of a hawk, a picture of a large family of geese on the water. She continued with the sunset as it had begun. The Cascades around us and so forth became another picture shooting gallery.
There was no vacancy to pitch a tent so we decided to sleep in the Car.
Soon we parked Nissie half way off the paved road and rolled down the window on the side that was directly next to the water. The scenery from inside the car was spectacular. The cool breezy air was soothing and we soon passed out for a good snooze. I slept like a baby that night. It was the best sleep I had had so far!
The next morning we continued toward the camp we had previously made across highway 35 opposite Sherwood Campground. I was well rested now and could drive safely. There were no campers and the place we had previously dug a pit for a tent was still intact. We did our usual routine of emptying and re-organizing the car and pitching camp.
But unlike our first camp here there had recently been an oil spill in Hood River. We had found out about it while in Portland. Moreover, a greater concern to us had become that The E. Fork of Hood River, an extension and creek which ran along side highway 35 where we camped, had been contaminated by it. The water was cloudy and dirty looking. It was obvious that the spill had affected it. I felt terrible after having seen the fork before when it was pure and clean and we drank it. It was delicious. And looking the creek over, with each gusher that poured through the bed of boulders I felt the sorrow by all life form that was in and around that creek. Plant, animal, or fish and hikers in mind, saddened my heart.
There was a train passing through called The Union Pacific Railroad which crashed near a Columbia Gorge town called Mosier. We had been in and around the Gorge all along in all the camping areas we camped. After having that peace of mind and sweet serenity, the thing we’d all longed for in Oregon, it was a mind blower. I was stunned!
Only one hundred residents evacuated the town of Mosier. And this was not just a spill but a huge and dangerous fire even though … only five of the sixteen cars that de-railed caught fire and/or exploded. Yet, it burned relentlessly for thirteen hours. Imagine if all sixteen cars had exploded …
Sixteen firefighting crews rushed to the rescue. That is one crew per each car that derailed. I think it is safe to say they were practical and acted in a very professional way. But that did not stop the horrors yet to come from the result of the disaster!
This took place not much more than one thousand feet from an elementary school. This came when Portland was already being pounded by the press over the lead in the drinking water in public schools around the “City that works,” and the students in the schools around Portland are drinking bottled water only. As if this reality wasn’t hard enough to deal with and now the oil spill grabs everyone’s attention!
People who witnessed the Mosier disaster watched flames shooting up to 100 feet in the air. Forty Two thousand gallons of crude oil had spilled and ten thousand gallons had collected in the town’s wastewater system.
On average there are one thousand four hundred and fifty rail cars carrying crude oil through the Columbia River Gorge per week! There were ninety six on the train in the aforementioned crash.
“We apologize to the residents of Mosier, the state of Oregon, and the broader Pacific North West region for any inconvenience this incident may be causing.”—Justin Jacobs—spokes person for the Union Pacific Railroad stated in a local news paper.
But in another local newpaper the Mayer of Mosier stated ... "We want people to know ... we don't ever want to experience this again!"
They were not happy campers.
I'm just glad we caught wind of this story and were aware of it. All I can say on that note is … thank God for the Media. Accidents do happen, but what you don’t know sometimes can get you killed. The creek was now very contaminated.
This is not something a tourist would expect in “Nature Trail Paradise.” I don’t mean to bark, but I had always heard how natural and pure and clean the air and water has been and is in Oregon. I hate to see this in one of the cleanest places that still exists. The natural springs in that state have the best tasting water I have ever had the pleasure of drinking.
The trails we hit and the waterfalls we saw made us forget all about this oil spill because Oregon is still one of the cleanest places in the west. I am speechless as to the experience we had in Oregon. It highly met up to my great expectations of the trails. My hope is that it will continue to be clean and that it does not get bogged down with overwhelming impurities in the air, land, and water. The over all experience we had had thus far and that we would continue in that direction with –were all very awesome!!
The next day Princess’ apartment application had been approved. It was the one she had her heart set on. We still had to wait at least another week to ten days before it could be ready for move in. There were many places we still wanted to hike. We headed for Eugene, Oregon the next morning and set out to do some serious hiking and picture taking.
We had taken Highway 126. After passing through the small town of Eugene which went by at the blink of an eye to my disappointment, we found a reservoir managed by the U.S. Army and we camped free there by a lake. (It was as green as I’ve ever seen a lake). It was called Blue River reservoir. We camped on a roadside pull off but this was on a back road with very little to no traffic at all. The water was blue-green and M.W. got a few pics and of a small waterfall that I would actually call a trickle. It wasn’t much more than that in comparison to other waterfalls we’d seen! We did not build a camp fire there. There were no grills or bathroom facilities and we were just a roadside camp team. It was rainy that night and our clothes that were set out got rained on. We didn’t see it coming because when we camped it was dry and sunny weather.
We’d emptied the Nissie and set our stuff out on the ground around it and some on top of it. I suppose driving from Phoenix and all that time I had been driving all around Portland and west Oregon had worn my mental stamina down because I rushed to bed quick enough not thinking. I left my lap-top on the roof but in its carry bag. This was something I had never done. Unfortunately, there was an over night rain. I was very upset and that anger was directed at my self. Princess offered to buy me another one. I immediately responded … “No, it was not your fault I was the culprit. I will not have you do that!”
The morning had been a rude awakening already. We broke camp and went in to a nearby town called “McKenzie Bridge.” There wasn’t much of a town except it had a bridge over the famous McKenzie River. But a place called “The Inn at the Bridge,” made up for the lack of a complete town and otherwise, McKenzie Bridge would have been a complete bore and lost hope!
The Inn was owned and operated by a woman named Cyndi. It was on the left side of the road just before you went over the bridge. That is why it was called “The Inn at the Bridge.” M.W. got some nice pictures of this place and town.
We stopped in for a Cappuccino and to our surprise it had free internet. I grabbed my lap-top with a gleam of hope in my eyes. I was scared to turn it on and it was still a bit wet after much wiping off. I was slow to do the set up but she came through. It was working. I was shocked. I thought for sure it was a goner!! Princess, M.W. and my self, we were very excited and happy again!
We did some online work. The place was very classy, gorgeous, and comfortable. It had a way of making you feel right at home. The internet service was very strong and we were able to get a lot done. I think we were there for at least three hours. But we were able to upload a lot of M.W.’s pictures for this story on to my website from there. It was the pictures taken so far but not all that we’d end up taking. But it was a start.
We ate some breakfast and enjoyed our time there. Cyndi was a one-woman-band!” She did everything. And the Inn was about four different businesses in one! It made up for the town not having anything in it. It was the whole town in one place … he he he!! It was an Inn for rooms, a restaurant for dining out, a coffee house and breakfast nook and a bar. All of which was consistently run by Cyndi—only! I was thoroughly impressed especially since even though the service was slow, she was consistent and waited on everyone in a timely fashion and always with a smile! The food and drink was great.
By the time we finished our internet work it was about 4:30pm. So we continued our journey up Highway 126 over the McKenzie Bridge which is famous for white water rafting, but also, you can rent cabins on the river which are owned by individuals, an added attraction for summer vacationing or retirement or just a getaway place to go to.
Our next stop would be some place we did not plan. It was during our travel at this point that we got turned around. And Oregon Princess had me stop at a ranger station. This was to figure out if we were going in the right direction to Proxy Falls. So at this point though, it became much better because she found out about a free campground at the ranger station when we were planning to go to the Falls not far away.
We travelled further on highway 126 and then veered off onto 242 to get to the water fall, a very remote landmark about ten miles from the nearby town of McKenzie Bridge.
The ranger gave her a map and some information and we first found Proxy Falls and hiked the trail of about two or more miles and took some awesome pictures.
These Falls were to me … the prettiest of them all. Another interest though, is that it is situated in a volcanic rock forest. Miles of volcano boulders stretched the area, which were too old to speculate on their age. Of course the usual root rot culprit had caused many fallen trees. It was a treacherous hike but when we arrived at the end of the trail, it was well worth the strenuous physical strain. This had been one of our most sought out waterfalls to hike to and take pictures of on this camping tour.
Proxy Falls had numerous miniature falls behind the great fall. It was designed much more natural and flowing and random off shoots of falls/streams, of the main fall than the rest and then became a very long creek. The surprise was the ice cold freezing temperatures. The rain coming down pretty hard as we arrived was something we had been experiencing since our arrival in the state, but especially in Portland. Now, it was no different at this remote place about ten miles from the nearby town of McKenzie Bridge.
After the hike we were glad to get back and into the dry and warm car. I immediately turned the defroster and heat on and up all the way. Shaking like a leaf I was drenched and the cold had penetrated through to my bones. Nissie never looked so good!
We then continued on for only one mile from Proxy Falls to the free camp ground the rangers informed Oregon Princess of, which was across the road from Three Sisters Wilderness. Set up camp as soon as we arrived. And it was rainy there too, but not yet as rainy as it became. The firewood in the area was wet. Good thing we had dry wood in the Nissie, because I was already a bit ill from the freezing cold rain and creeks we were passing through in this volcanic forest and had no energy from lack of sleep lately. Here we had grills to cook on and an open fire place in one piece. Only thing awkward was, you couldn’t disconnect the grill from the circular fireplace in the ground which was aggravating. So we sufficed it and made it as convenient as possible. How could we complain?? It was a free camp site. It had bathroom facilities though nasty I might add, as the floor beneath the toilets was saturated with a brown liquid which I will leave to your imagination as to what it was. It was simply not kept as clean as the rest we’d experienced. But the camp ground over all was well worth the stay.
The next day Oregon Princess and M.W. took a hike on their own in the Three Sisters Wilderness. I didn’t feel good about it but was sick. So I took a nap in the Nissie and got over it. Although I was concerned after they did not return and it was late evening, many hours had passed the projected time that they should have made it back to camp by, but still, I was relieved to lie down and rest after a long string of trail hiking and even to the point of exhaustion and soaked with rain more than one time. That nap actually pretty much got me back on track to the energy needed to do some serious cooking for a dinner for when they returned. The concern grew as it did not happen for many, many, hours to come. All sorts of rude thoughts streamed through my weary mind as time wore on, but negative thoughts I fought off to block out!!
I had no axe, no hatchet, no saw and etc... I had no way to carve up some starter wood from the dry firewood that was in the car. Fortunately, a man pulled into camp in a white pick up with camper on top that walked right over and introduced him self to me. I asked him if he happened to have a hatchet and explained my need. He answered, “no, but hold on, I’ll be right back.” He went to his camper truck and returned.
George was a gentleman. Although he had no cutting sources as aforementioned either, he did have a big hunter’s knife and a big rock in the ground at my camp site, had a way of forcing the blade into the wood to carve strips of starter wood from a large piece I gave him to work on. He took the hunter’s knife and he placed it upward against the bottom of the upright positioned piece of wood. Then he forced the wood down on the blade that was rested on the rock to carve into it and get it started. Then he turned it the opposite way and peeled the wood slicing it off by putting pressure downward on both ends of the knife. He did this with the entire piece of wood. This was a major relief, and I really did not expect his work but was hoping for a tool to do it my self.
Soon a neighboring family who had camped there also, returned from a hike. And thoughts of worry continued in my mind over the girls not returning from their hike!
By the time George finished the starter wood and I gathered some more firewood that was not big but small pieces, I was just about ready to begin a fire when I excitedly saw M.W. and Oregon Princess finally walk up the road toward our camp site. A big sigh exited my mouth and my expression gave way that I had been very worried and stressed out about them not coming back for so long. It had been an all day hike, which was originally supposed to have been a 30 minute one way trip. Something told me that if I got a dinner going they’d return by that time. I wasn’t quite there but on the brink. And we ate well!!
I was happy to meet the people that had hiked from our camp also, not only because they were nice people, but because, M.W. and Oregon Princess ran into them on the trail and hiked together. They had some hard times rock climbing on this trail in the wilderness, but the other group they met on the trail helped them. So it was a blessing for them. The man’s name was Dave, and his colleague was James. They took a very young little girl of about eight, named Cat, short for an Indian name, although she had the markings of Caucasian. Blond Hair and beautiful blue eyes with a pale complexion and wore a gorgeous smile that seemed to melt you. This little girl had a very kind persona.
Dave and James both were very hospitable offering the use of an axe and some coffee brewed over their campfire. And we began to interact with them during our time there. It was good. The first time we had done that with other campers in a camp site in Oregon. But I was comforted when James walked over and shook my hand and introduced him self just as George did. This seemed to be the trend at that camp site for some reason. Not only was it free but their friendliness made the place much more comfortable than the rest of the campsites we’d stayed in.
We had planned to camp there for the duration of the weekend but the girls decided they wanted to move on to go see Crater Lake. So on that following Sunday the twelfth of June we went into a town and did some serious shopping at the nearest Wal-Mart to prepare for some camping near the outrageous looking lake we longed to photograph. M.W. was ecstatic and full of joy smiling from one ear to the other!!
We found a campground called "Annie Springs." And it had a cabin for a snow shelter. The weather there was cold. It was way north of Portland. But we were tired of sleeping in the Nissie so the girls pitched the tent in the cabin not far from a wood burner heater called "Fischer". It was great. We also used it to cook on. I placed three benches from the eating tables together, laid my matress pad I'd been using in the car on top the benches and slept in my sleeping bag. We used the place as a home base during the week we visited Crater Lake. We also had two outdoor fire pit cookers that they had made out of old barrels and welded properly with grills. WQe were well furnished as it had a bathroom facility.
The village ten miles down the road which is the way you go to get to Crater Lake, was a nice service area. Hot showers, a store, and laundry mat, made a difference since we were in a cabin down the road. The village gave out free spring water, to campers. We filled three cases of empty water bottles that were originally store bought cases of water. And two gallon jug fulls. We used it for drinking and cooking as well as washing up with.
From here, I'll let M.W.'s pictures of Crater Lake speak for themselves.
Next on the trail we went to Sahaile Falls.
Fall creek falls
This one was in Washington State. It was a very hard hiking trail that almost climbed straight up. Breaks to breathe were much needed, not only due to elevation but because our bodies were giving out at times. In part due to all the previous trails we hiked already and consistently, and in part because it was a very hard trail to hike. Everyone on the trail was exhausted to and fro the waterfalls. This trail we hiked on Father’s day and there were many father daughter/sons and families including little children all hiking it at the same time we were there. It was a very busy trail and often times we had to step aside or someone did for us so the hike could continue. WE camped at a free site on the way to the trail head in the woods. This was a forest of Douglas and other monster Fir trees and Sequoias. We soon headed back to Oregon and continued our back to nature camping tour there.
Heading back into Oregon ... there were other pictures too such as of
There was “Punch Bowl Falls” which we actually camped in the campground area near the hiking trail.
To be continued . . .