"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Monday, June 4, 2018

La Pine - Two Different types of Camping

La Pine, Oregon
La Pine State Park

We will be in La Pine/Bend area for the month of June and half of July, staying in 5 different styles of camping: State Park, National Forest, County Park, Moochdocking and lastly at a Fairgrounds.  For this post we'll be at the first two.
First we'll be heading to the La Pine State Park.  I had been checking reservations here for some time and since there were always plenty of available spots I didn't see it necessary to make reservations.  Besides, we only wanted to stay a few days so we could scope out the area and look for some nice spots in the National Forest as there were many campgrounds in the area.
On the way we passed the Lowell Covered Bridge.  It was one of the larger, prettier ones we've seen.  While we were passing it both Steve and I noticed this young man sitting on the side of the road, literally ON the painted line partially IN the road.  He had a bicycle and a backpack next to him.  While we only got a glimpse of him, we thought he looked aware, but it definitely wasn't normal to be sitting partially in the road, looking about.  I called 911 to report it and they said they would send out a patrol car.  I sure hope they got to him quickly and he didn't harm himself or others.

As we continued on the windy road I took this picture of my brother's rig in our mirror behind us.
More pretty barns.
Once we passed Crescent and headed north to La Pine the area opened up and reminded us of the upper desert rangelands of Wyoming and Montana that we love.
We arrived shortly at La Pine State Park.  Our initial thoughts were that it was very pretty and nicely laid out.  There are two loops.  One is newer, larger, sparcer tree cover and has full hookups.  The other, the loop we stayed in, was a bit more challenging to maneuver the rig through and had water and 20amp for $26.  The Verizon wasn't too good but allowed Steve and Diane enough signal to work.  The problem with this loop is the road surface.  AWFUL!  There were long sections that were bumped up or sunken in similar to the size of large pool noodles.  It made for a very jarring ride for the truck and trailer.  Even with the trailer off, we all grew to hate driving on it and couldn't wait to find another campground.
 We did have a very nice site with plenty of room and privacy.
The next day my brother and I took off to make a stop at the National Forest Office to get some info on boondocking areas.  First we stopped by at the one of the only places to eat in Crescent, The Mohawk Restaurant.  It was a strange place, what else.  The large lodge style room was filled with lots of taxidermy and special edition liquor bottles.
The food was actually very good, our waitress very nice and the prices descent. At the Forest Service we were given many maps and places to check out.  I was very hopeful that with all the State Land and National Forest around here that we'd find something easily.  What we noticed though was that most of the area was not accessible.  There were plenty of logging roads criss crossing the area but they had large berms and no clear pull out areas to camp.  We found this every where.  Very strange.  And frustrating.  Even if we found a spot or two, the vegetation was very thick and it wouldn't have worked.  
There was still some daylight out so we grabbed out poles and headed out to see if the Little Deschutes or the larger Deschutes Rivers had any good fishing.  We walked for a few miles but didn't catch anything.  The views were pretty and the water promising so we decided to try again later.

Before we could fish the next day we had to get some laundry done.  I found it amusing that my brother was going to come with me to do laundry.  He's not really the "domestic" type.  I wasn't even sure he knew how!  I gave him a few pointers and we were in and out in no time.  Off for a little hiking and fishing.

Me and my brother, Steve.
We came across some interesting things while hiking.  A little tee-pee structure (above) and what looked like a dragon (below).
The reason we planned on spending so much time in the Bend area is that there is so much to do.  I have friends that live here now that we'e expecting us so right away we gave them a call and headed over for dinner.
Perry and I have known each other since high school and while they have lived in different states over the years we have kept in touch at reunions and visits now that we are on the road.  Another plus for this lifestyle is that it makes it easier to visit friends and family that live in other states.
Me and Kristin.
Their adorable and very smart dog, Crusoe.
After a nice BBQ they took us on a short walk to where the Deschutes River runs through town.  Their son, Ethan, rode his skateboard down.  Good thing he wears a helmet and protective pads as just after I took this picture of him a deer (next picture) ran across the road right in front of him.  Luckily there was no collision.

Diane, Steve, Kristin, Crusoe, Perry & Steve
What a gorgeous river this is.  There are several parks that line the river as it flows through town and places you can float down, ride kayaks or just sit and enjoy the scenery.

The sun was going down so we headed back and enjoyed the pretty landscaping along the way.

We said our goodbyes and planned for them to come out to our campsite later for one more get together before we move on.
One more fishing trip before we scout out a possible campground.  It wasn't all that easy to fish the river out here by the campground as its steep on one side and heavily grassy and filled with beaver lodges and water paths on the other. Above is a very large lodge that had babies inside.  We didn't see them but you could hear them.  They sounded like kittens meowing.  We quickly and quietly hiked around them.
Beaver marks are everywhere.  So many downed and chewed trees along the riverbank.

Well, we caught a few but most were little like this guy above.  Bummer that just before catching this little German Brown, I lost a really nice one.  I got a little too excited and when I got him next to the bank I yanked a bit too hard and the line broke.  We could see him in the water below us but the bank is steep and not easy to walk on.  Once he got his wits about him he swam off with the new lure I just put on.  Oh well.  We both saw him so I say it counts!
On our last day in La Pine State Park we finally hit the jackpot on our campground search!  We could not find it the previous trip because you had to follow specific directions, NOT the google map which will take you down a few dirt roads to a locked gate.
Bull Bend, which is a National Forest campground in the Deschutes Forest is amazing!  Follow the directions on the website to get there.  It's down a couple of very dusty, narrow dirt roads, but so worth it if you want privacy, spots right on the river AND 4/5 bars of strong Verizon LTE!  This will most definitely be one of our top 3 favorites if not number 1 by the end of the year.  Dry camping only, $14.
There are about 12 sites and most of them are huge and level.  Some are reservable.  We headed out and had 3 in mind that we really wanted.  While most are directly on the water in this horseshoe shaped campground, sites  #3, 5 and 6 are the best in our opinion.  5 and 6 are alongside each other and make great buddy sites.  We wanted to stay the full 2 weeks allowed here, so we took #4 for one night and would switch over to #6 the next day when it opened up.  My brother took the best, #3, below.
Words don't do it justice just how pretty it is.  The river runs right in front of your site, it's so quiet, the dogs were in heaven, we could fish and kayak and Steve & Diane could work strangely that had great Verizon.
Us in site #4, one of the few not on the water.
The very nice folks in site #5 were moving out after our one day in site #6, so we just slowly moved the rig forward.  We didn't even need to bring in the slides.  That was a first.  Our shortest travel distance, about 100 feet!  This campground was almost empty the first week we were here.
My brother and I have neighborhood friends from San Jose, CA that later lived in Placerville (isn't that strange?) and have a vacation home nearby in Sunriver so we had them stop by.
Martin and Desi in my brothers "front yard".  They stayed a bit and we chatted about life on the road and their home in Sunriver.  When we mentioned we were looking for a spot for a few days over July 4th they mentioned their neighbor has an extra lot set up for RVs and that he'd probably let us both stay there.  After a couple calls, he and his wife welcomed us to stay there and that's where our moochdocking comes in later :-)
Saturday there was a Rhubarb Festival going in in La Pine so we went to check out the booths and the food.  The music was great but ended early and the cold winds really started to kick up.  We walked around and checked out the large snakes one guy had, got some food and a piece of rhubarb/berry pie and then decided to head back to our warm trailers.

Just a little festival but vey cute.
Next Up, More of this great spot!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Coos Bay & Beach Time - Oregon

Winchester Bay, Oregon
Salmon Harbor Marina

The weather was spectacular for our last days here so on Friday after Steve was finished working we drove to Coos Bay for some dinner.
The white hills are not snow covered, these are the dunes.  They are the tallest dunes in the Oregon Dunes NRA.  We are about 4 miles south of Reedsport.  It's an ATV heaven.  We were thinking of renting ATVs or taking a tour, but it's very expensive and we didn't have time.
The bridge over the bay.
First you go through North Bend.  Strange that it's not by Bend?  Before we have dinner we were looking for a particular bar to say Hello to the owner.  She's the niece of the husband of the sister of one of my best friends.  Got that? 
The quirky hole-in-the-wall but very friendly bar is called, Walt's Pourhouse.  We went in to say Hello, but the owner, Natalie, wasn't in.  We left her a note instead and had a cocktail.  The drinks were delicious and the food looked so great we decided to get a Calamari appetizer.  It was all delicious. Then we decided to try a Vodka Oyster Shooter.  Diane opted out.  Me and the Steves didn't care for them and wished we'd passed too.  I'm sure they were good, we just didn't care for the taste.

Steve, Me, Steve & Diane
We drove around Coos Bay a bit and settled on High Tide CafĂ©.  It had a beautiful waterfront view from the back deck where we were seated.
The food was fantastic.  The clam chowder, shrimp, swordfish and the rest was outstanding!

The weather was still sunny and warm so the next day we headed off to the beach.  The guys wanted to do some reef fishing and Diane and I just wanted to sit on the warm sand and let the dogs run around and play.
The dogs of course had a blast!  They ran up and down the beach and in and out of the water, which was very cold!

Happy dog!
Practically no one out here!

Ruger found a deep spot and of course was in Heaven doing his doggy splashing thing again.  He can do this for hours!  Really.
Ruger is used to cold weather and has a longer coat.  Poor Hurley was freezing with his short hair.  He was shaking so bad I finally wrapped a beach towel around him like a cape.  He just sat in the sun and finally warmed up.

Ruger just rolled around in the sand happy as can be, not taking his eyes off my brother who was out in the surf fishing.
I wandered around taking pictures.

Hurley ran out with Steve and seemed concerned about him being out there.

Oh, it's cold, I think I'll go back and sit in the sun with Gramma!
Once the wind started kicking up and the guys were wet and frozen, we drove up to the lighthouse.
The above is an oyster bed.


They had a very nice museum next to it too with a cute gift shop.
It turned out to be a great week.  Even with the colder, windier weather we had some very nice parts of the day that were warm and sunny.  We fished and wandered around the towns and finished our last evening with some beer, wings and oysters at Double Ds.  More great seafood.  It's goodbye to the coast for now as we meander inland and spend the month in and around Bend.