2013: RV Rally Scouting Trip #2 Trip Summary

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:

2013: Mountains & Summer Monsoons 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)

Summer 2013: 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 for sale 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.)

Summer 2013: 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....

Summer 2013: Week 4: Wyoming

We are at that point in the trip where we are within striking distance of home (beginning of week 6--yes, we're behind in blogging, as is now par for the course), yet far from it really, in terms of mindset and route, which is nowhere near a beeline south. Our minds are a-jumble with all that we've seen on the trip. We find ourselves saying, "Can you believe that we were in Monument Valley on this trip?" or "Doesn't the cold night at 10,000 feet in Colorado seem like a long time ago?" Well, yes, it does, actually, after the last two weeks of scorching 90+ degree days ;-)

We have been exploring lots of new territory over the last two weeks, most of it either
a) without AT and T
b) with Verizon but with so little left on our measly 3G plan that we couldn't upload pix
c) while visiting friends, so it seemed rude to sit in the RV and update the blog. Well, at least I've been told by others we've visited how rude that it, so I shan't be scolded again....

That means we're taking a touring break this morning, here in lovely Bend, Oregon, at our very expensive (but refreshing) resort stop: Crown Villa RV Resort. This place was recommended by GoPetFriendly.com as being state-park like in setting, but with amenities. True, that. The sites are enormous and each one has a unique pattern in its brick pavers (we redid our driveway in paver stones and now that these aren't exactly cheap!). The best part is the lovely, worry-free wifi. Helps in getting the blog updated, planning the route home (all those nasty wildfires/smoke to avoid), and generally taking care of business. Now, on to re-capping the trip before Lisa says it's time to play tennis (!) here at the resort....

Lander, Wyoming

When we last left off, we were enjoying Flaming Gorge NRA. From there, we headed north to Green River, Wyoming, and a lovely little laundromat. We continued north to Lander and one of our best state park finds Sinks Canyon State Park around the witching hour of 4PM--when we like to be sure we nab a spot. Glad we did, too, as this park is TINY and only a very few sites were big/level enough for us.

The Sinks:

The Rise (about 1/2 mile downstream):

We had fun taking the several trails in this hidden little park, although Bago wasn't at all sure about the swinging bridge the first time over:

Reluctantly, we headed down out of the canyon and back into Lander where we ran grocery errands, refueled (love those Safeway filling stations!), and washed the coach. As is our practice on a hot summer day when one gets filthy washing the RV, we looked for a treat of some kind and we found it. The Scream Shack.

Driving Along the Wind River

We enjoyed a completely decadent lunch of a chokeberry shake for Lisa and an ice cream cone with no-sugar-added Bing Cherry sitting atop a very yummy Lemon Meringue Pie ice cream scoop.

Thus fortified and erranded up, we hit the road again, stopping at a cemetery on an Indian reservation to visit Sacajawea's grave and, further down the road, a cute little city park for a Bago swim in the Wind River, whose course we had been following.

And of course I had to snap this photo out the car window. Just perfect with the in-motion cowboy, I thought....

Grand Teton National Park

And then we reached the Tetons. Pity about the wildfire smoke. None of my pictures are nearly as spectacular as they were when we visited here 5 years ago.

Colter Bay experience: From my post to the View/Navion group:

"We were assigned a spot for 2 nights (note: "assigned"--you don't
get any choice), and hated it so much we bailed on the 2nd night. It's
overcrowded (wild kids rode mountain bikes THROUGH our campsite and people walk
by talking so close to your coach you could touch them), completely unpatrolled
(teenagers were shouting past midnight, and I asked the ranger in the AM about
it, and she just shrugged), and the sites were so unlevel (in most generator
loops, the "site is just a pull out parallel to the road) that I was amazed the
fridge kept working.

I suppose if boating is your main activity, this or Jenny Lake or the other
popular water-based sites would be your cup of tea, but it wasn't ours. We made
a great decision to sacrifice the $21 for a good night's sleep (did I mention
that our site was opposite the bathroom and trash too? Screaming babies at 6AM
echoing off those walls is not a great wake-up call) and move down to Gros
Ventre because, as the park literature mentioned, it "rarely fills." That
sounded appealing.

The benefits of the Gros Ventre campground are many:
1. Very quiet AND it has lovely views of the Tetons. (Coulter Bay has no views.)
2. It's close to Mormon Row for great photos and Antelope Flats for great
wildlife viewing
3. It's close to Jackson, should you need to go into town
4. It's on the border of National Forest land, so if you have an active dog like
we do and the dog is itching to get some exercise beyond the
6-foot-leash-on-the-road kind that is all that's allowed in national parks, then
you can zip up the hill to Atherton Lake for hiking, swimming, etc. As a matter
of fact, we're going to stay up there at the CG next time (only 5 miles from the
park boundary)--we've become big National Forest CG fans this trip."

Hooray for National Forest lands!

And hooray for the camphost at Gros Ventre who actually asked us what kind of site we would like and then (gasp) gave that to us! We had a lovely view, no close-by neighbors, and a roaring campfire as we watched the sun set behind the Tetons.

The day we tooled south from Colter Bay to Gros Ventre we tried to do a "photography tour" to capture some of the iconic Teton views, but alas--the wildfire smoke blowing over from Idaho prevented that. Here are a few only semi-decent snaps in that weird, smoky light.

Ansel Adams' famous photo setting:

Mormon Row and the famous Moulton barn

Where the deer and the antelope play! (We also did see bison in the park, then elk and moose later in Jackson.)

For my sign collection:

Jackson Hole

We spent some time poking around downtown Jackson before meeting up with our friends. Enjoyed one of the best meals of the trip at the Snake River Brewing Company, even though Bago couldn't join us.

Smoked troutcakes with a tomatillo sauce. Exquisite.

We strolled the square downtown in the surprisingly intense heat (mid-90s every day, and at 6000+ elevation, very strong sun shine) and visited the dog park a few times (which is how we learned of the Snake River Brewing Company and the very awesome pet store--always chat up dog park locals!).

Then we pulled into our friends' driveway for 3 days of catching up. We had visited Lee and Mary 5 years ago on our very first RV trip, and we were eager to show them that we've learned how to do it since them. We overlapped during our visit with their daughter and her 2 kids' visit; we were worried that we were intruding, but I think, after all, that it all worked out. We sure appreciated the kids playing so much with Bago. It's usually a win-win to have the dog wear out the kids and vice versa....

We also availed ourselves yet again of Lee's technical expertise and tool collection. We spent one day hanging out, doing repairs and hiking the trails behind the property. Lisa got the awning over slide out repaired with awning tape (thanks, View/Navion group) while I touched up all the paint chips we've picked up this trip during the crazy road work season.

View from their driveway of the Grand Teton during the morning dog walk:

Their wildflower garden at sunrise:

Bago wishing he had kids around more often:

Gram and the kids on the front porch:

Besides playing in the front yard several times a day with the kids, one day we got to take Bago to the a swimming hole by the dam in the Snake River. Boy oh boy did they all enjoy that, and it was followed by a most delicious bagel lunch in Wilson.

Hiking the trails behind their house. Breathtaking views everywhere (but no shade--that sun is VERY strong):

We had two spectacularly great treats while we were visiting. It turned out that we got free tickets to the closing night of the Grand Teton Music Festival and go to hear a breathtaking Tchaikovsky concert. One of the pieces featured the most amazing Yefim Bronfman--a pianist who is called the "next Horowitz." I've never seen hands like that.

The next treat was getting to meet up with a fellow Mary and I worked with 20 years ago, and get to meet his family and hear about his amazing music career.

What a lovely visit we had. Can't wait to get home and make a goody box to send as a thank you. (We used to bake Lee Vienna bars as a thank you for helping us with maintenance tasks on our first house 20 years ago, but we've learned that he's now gluten and dairy free. I can roll with that! Time to make chocolate bliss balls--vegan and raw--which are totally delicious and ship well ;-)