2014 V/N Rally in Oregon: Trip Summary

Trip Theme: National Skinnie Winnie Rally

Total Miles1,472 miles

Number of Nights: 11

Average Camping Fee: 36.26 (but that included 6 nights of VERY nice resort camping!)

Trip Overview:

May 16: First night out, as usual, only a few hours away. Tried Cal-Expo in Sacramento; only so-so. We tried it based on glowing reviews (and dog park, which isn't very big), but think we'll stay with the Sacto KOA for northbound trips.

May 17: What are the odds? Pulled into Friendly RV in Weed, CA rather late in the day for us because we spent most of the day in Redding at Camping World, trying to get a leak repaired. Campground was practically empty. Manager puts us in a site next to another V/N. Guess who's in that RV? Our rally co-hosts, who then proceed to make us dinner! Such a happy coincidence.

May 18: Had another great visit to Medford and the Jacksonville area. Stocked up on rally food (and Abecela Tempranillo!) at Costco, visited the city dog park again, and met up with an old friend for cheese tasting and lunch at the Rogue Creamery. Wow--that smoked blue cheese is going to be a hit when we give it for Christmas this year. Laid up short of the rally site at Valley of the Rogue State Park--a very nice park just off I-5.

May 19-23: The View/Navion National Rally at Seven Feathers RV Resort. A few pix:

Lisa and co-host chilling before the first presentation of the rally

Lynn and Claudia's collection of V/N rally stickers

Co-host Dave introducing Russ Garfin of Winnebago Industries

Russ explaining the new 2015 line up and taking heat from the assembled owners over various product design choices (!).

The first night's entertainment: native drummers.

And, yes, this one WAS an intruder in our line up. (He snagged a cancellation's spot.)

May 23-24: Turtle Rock Resort at Gold Beach, Oregon. An awesome idea for an RV park: private deck with a BBQ and hot tub in our site, plus an easy walk to the beach (and the turtle rock):

May 25: Crossed the Trinity Alps. Quite the winding and hilly experience. Didn't see Bigfoot, but we did luck into a great $10/night spot right on the high-water Trinity River on a holiday weekend. Gorgeous! Had to keep the leash on Bago, though, as that river was really rushing. Had to reel him in once when he went too far in....

Pretty nice spot for dinner and a fire. I liked this campground's strategy on firewood: $5 for as much as you could haul in the provided wheelbarrow.

May 26: Laid up close to home at Casa de Fruta RV Resort because we needed to dump and wanted to get home early in the day to unload, not in the evening when exhausted. Campground was a nightmare after the 3-day weekend, though. Trash everywhere (which of course Bago found and ate.....).

New Parks: While we liked the BLM campground in Douglas, I'm not sure we want to drive that road again! Next time, for some mountain experience, we'll try the campgrounds in the Whiskeytown NRA, which isn't too far off I-5. And of course we'd go back to Seven Feathers again (and probably will in September of this year).

RV Maintenance: Oy, the darn gray tank leak that we thought we had fixed, after spending many hours at the Redding Camping World. We had to manage that leak the whole darn trip. So much for trying a new RV repair place in Salinas before this trip; that fellow did fix one problem, but caused this other one....

Novel Medical Treatment: I think this speaks for itself.

Quartzsite: We Finally Made It!

January 2014
On our way down to the annual View/Navion Tech rally in Quartzsite (which I have managed to avoid for 5 years now), we had a CEL (check engine light) come on. Now, going to a Tech Rally, where all the engineer types are, is a good time to have a CEL. Because the light was on solid, not flashing, we knew it was OK to drive, so we carried on to Q after overnighting in Palm Desert (Sam's Family Spa--not a place I wish to return). Had a fun two days in Q, but that was quite enough (good Lord, the number of RVs has to bee seen to be believed. Look here.) then hotfooted it back (Q thru LA to Morro Bay, then Morro Bay to home) so that we could get the CEL addressed by Mercedes the DAY before our warranty expired. Good thing, too, as a glow plug needed to be replaced, and we've heard that this can be pricey.

Missed the Yuma detour to see Uncle Joe, though :-(  Happy to have scored some awesome Santa Maria BBQ this time, though. Must go back (if we could remember its name, doggone it)--it was off 101 along Highway 1 toward Morro Bay. Very nice young people running it. Found it via Yelp (but cannot find it again!).

RV Rally Scouting Trip #2

After striking out last summer finding an RV rally site in the Rockies, we decided to check out Seven Feathers RV Resort Campground in Canyonville, Oregon, based on a number of fellow Skinnie Winnie recommendations.

Trip Route:

  • Home to Sacramento (the West Sacramento KOA--only OK, as KOAs are, but nice dog park)
  • Lassen National Park: thanks, government shutdown. We only got to stay one night, but we did get to walk the Bumpass Hell trail.
  • Seven Feathers: Well, this is IT! Our rally site. Great place, great people, convenient location, and BIG.
  • Mount Shasta, CA: that mountain is just jaw-dropping.
  • Quincy, CA: another rally candidate stricken from the list
  • Vacaville, CA: laying up before heading home

Didn't take too many pix on this quick trip, but here are a few:

Summer 2013 Trip Summary

Trip Theme: Mountains and Monsoons

Total Miles4,880 miles

Number of Nights: 40

Average Camping Fee: 31.22 (the $82/night Bend place really blew our average out of the water! Without that place, we’d have been at $26)

Average MPG: Oops. Didn't trap, but I recall that it was nice and high because we took 2-laners and drove 55mph or less most of the time.

Number of States: 8, none new

Weird Coincidences: Seeing the same fellow travelers in a totally different place. Happened three separate times. We saw one gal in THREE separate places. Guess we were doing the tourist thing in high season....

Favorite New Parks: We'd definitely go back to the Idaho state parks (Massacre Rocks, Bruneau Dunes) in cooler weather. It'd be particularly fun to go to Bruneau Dunes when they have their astronomy nights. Discovered Teton National Forest campgrounds--MUCH better than the heavily trafficked NP CGs. Most of the other parks were nice, but not ones to write home about. Now, that park in Molas Lake outside of Silverton that we saw, but didn't stay in--that looks like a good place to go back to (and also Ouray--heck that whole corner of Colorado we love).

RV Maintenance: Not a darn thing. Rocksie ran like a champ.

Close Calls: railroad arm in Idaho; lightning/hail/flooding in Flagstaff

Biggest Disappointments: Missing my Geocaching travel bug BY A DAY in Arizona (after watching it for YEARS) and not being able to go to Ojo Caliente because of mudslides (those monsoons....). Also, not finding a good spot for the 2014 View/Navion National Rally.

Best Surprises: Elk jam in NorCal, dog-friendly ski lift in Telluride, free tix to the closing night of the Jackson Hole music festival

Best Museum: Toss up between the very cool Riordan Mansion in Flagstaff and the Idaho Potato Museum ("taters for outta staters").

Bago's Swimming Holes:
  1. Cattail Cove: Colorado River
  2. Durango: Animas River
  3. NM: El Vado Lake
  4. Outside Taos: Rio Grande
  5. Leadville, CO: Turquoise Lake
  6. Dillon, CO Reservoir
  7. Steamboat Lake
  8. Flaming Gorge Lake
  9. Atherton Lake near Grand Teton NP
  10. Jackson: Snake River
  11. Unity Lake Oregon
  12. Pond in Bend, Oregon
  13. Pacific Ocean in Oregon (MANY times)

Final Week: Bend to Coast to Home

[May 2014: Just discovered this post in my blog drafts folder. Photos were in, but text was very telegraphic, clearly waiting to be fleshed out, which I never did. Posting it with very little editing just for completeness.]

Bend, Oregon
Arrived on a rainy, cold Thursday. Temperature dropped some 40 degrees. Visitor's Center with no parking--not a good sign for RVs. But we got brochures on all the things that interest us: art, craft beer, walking tours, public art (20 some traffic circles with sculptures: Roundabout Art Route), each with and dog parks. Our kind of town.

Art in the High Desert and we got us some. Two metal sculptures (one a wall piece, and one of the tall metal vases) by this fellow

Trick to going to a big festival in a city: go early. Friday, first hour. Scored a great parking spot, facing straight out of the exit--we couldn't get blocked in. Or could we? We made a trip back to the RV to put away our art purchases, and found this. I had to take a picture of the license plate, just in case things didn't go well.

Thank goodness this fellow was gone when we were ready to leave, and our new neighbor gave us enough room to get into the RV.

RV sales set up next to us at the resort RV park we were staying in (and which we shan't ever stay in again--too $$$ and after this reservation, German shepherds are no longer allowed!). There were 3 huge Class As in the ONE space next to ours--that's how big the sites were. Our 25 footer looked even more peculiar in the big site than ever. We were eager to find a way to spend the day away from the RV park because of the sales situation. Drove up to Mount Bachelor and took a short hike in the national forest, where Bago could play off leash. Took Bago to a great dog park with a pond. Made new friends.

Went to see a great movie, The Way Way Back. Sunny when we went in; cool and deep puddles when we came out. Picked up a tip at the Safeway after the movie: best movie deal in town is $2 Tuesdays at McMennamins. Remember this for next visit....

Dawned rainy and cold, so we headed to the coast, with a brief stop in the very cute town of Sisters.
Ended up at Tillicum Beach, run by the National Forest folks, our new favorite campgrounds. Bago sure loves Oregon beaches.

Revisited Bandon. Last time we were there, we had the most delicious barbecued oysters, but that restaurant is now gone. We ate at its replacement, but only found it OK. Discovered the 
very cool Washed Ashore Project, which we should definitely have in MoCo.

Cape Blanco--more beaches. Our second time at this state park, and it's still one of our favorites. Pleased to note that the hike down to the beach is very easy now; we thought it was quite difficult back in 2009.

Tooled through the National Park, and stayed at Richardson Grove State Park (boo on California state parks and their ridiculous rules--no dogs anywhere, no generators till 10AM-- and prices).

Tooled through Northern California (complete with elk jam), with lunch in Petaluma just north of San Francisco. Tried out Marin RV Park, using our usual strategy of laying up somewhat near home so we can dump and pull into home early in the day. (We also didn't want to deal with Bay Area afternoon/rush hour traffic.)

Week 5: Crossing Idaho and Eastern Oregon

Crossing Idaho and Eastern Oregon

A very hot, very dry, and usually pretty interesting week. But thank goodness for the audio book The Ocean at the End of the Lane. We highly recommend this tale, read by the author in a most intriguing way, which sustained us across many a bleak desert stretch.

Massacre Rocks State Park 
The first night out after Jackson. Lisa found that she really enjoyed this park; Julie hid out against the stifling heat. But we both liked watching the American pelicans (who knew?) with their 9.5' wingspans fly along the Snake River.


Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot
One of our all-time favorite museums. So many things to like, but the "Taters for Out of Staters" parting gift was just THE best. Wrapped carefully in a bright purple potato bag were two boxes of dehydrated hash browns, along with the tater Christmas ornament I was compelled to buy (and the only one of the whole trip!).

I had to send my Dad a postcard of this potato queen. No one has rocked a potato sack quite like this gal:

Of course. A Mr. Potato Head collection and a great piece of historical realia:

We then proceeded over to Twin Falls for a tasty lunch at the SnakeBite in the historic (but awfully sunny) downtown. On our way there, we got stopped at a train crossing and had one of our few close calls this trip. We sat and sat and watched the train--for some unknown reason--go forward and then back up and forward and back up. I looked down the block and saw that the crossing was clear just a block away, so I skedaddled down there. I laid up short of the tracks (there was a stoplight on the far side that was red) but didn't realize that the train would back up this far. It started coming right toward us and thank goodness no one was behind me because I had to throw Rocksie in reverse to avoid having the crossing arm come right down on our solar panels. Oops! I should've known not to stop there, given where I grew up.....

And, of course, we had to drive out to see what the town was named for.

We carried on over to the western side of the state and stayed in a most unique state park,
Bruneau Dunes. It was 105 when we pulled in, so the park wasn't too full....

We waited till the much cooler morning to explore the park and the dunes, which of course, Bago loved. We wished our timing had been better, though. There is a neat space telescope at the park (you can see the observatory in the background of the photo below). I was not open during our visit, which was during the blue moon, but I bet it'd be fun to go when they're having star gazing, as this park is far away from any light pollution.

The color of these dunes, though, is distinctly taupe, which the signs attribute to the presence of lots of iron.

After all the warning signs about scorpions, badgers, snakes, et al, we didn't think this was a very good idea....

After our morning hike, we headed up to Boise to see their state capitol (a must do as we travel), visit a DDD lunch site, and do a little shopping at the famous outlet, Sierra Trading Post (which turned out to be completely disappointing, although Lisa did find a cute new shirt).

We had lunch at the Pizzalchik (Pizza-Salad-Chicken) and really enjoyed the thin crust, all-homemade pizzas. I had the spicy elk sausage with locally foraged mushrooms, while Lisa enjoyed a smoked salmon/caper deal. We got a tub of their chicken salad (which really is quite salady--all kinds of vegetable goodness) for dinner, too. A cold salad supper is just what the doctor ordered on hot summer nights.

Our final desert campground stop was in desolate Eastern Oregon at Unity Lake State Park. Not too much lake there anymore. We took Bago down there for a swim. Boy, was that a mistake. It's a swamp of soupy mud all along that shore. Not our favorite stop....