We took off from the RV park near Interstate 84 and headed west at 1958 eastern time. Then we turned off I-84 at the border in Ontario, Oregon. For some miles, the two-lane road (US20) and passed smaller farm fields than we had seen along the interstates beforehand. I suppose we were farther from the Snake River and these farmers did not have access to as much irrigation water. The homes were small and modest.
Then we came to brown hills. I could not decide whether they were large hills or small mountains. They were all shades of brown, a jumble of smooth, plantless domes. Nothing jagged or rugged in sight. The road weaves between them, following a creek or river. Stark and (apparently) lifeless except for the trees and grasses growing along the creek. Once, we crested a hill and saw a patch of green in a level spot. There were no houses or people around.
After many miles, we saw what looked like a couple buildings in a grove of trees in the distance. It was lunchtime, but we stopped for breakfast at the Oasis. It was filled with ranchers eating and talking. I noticed that four or five parties stopped and came in to use the toilets without stopping to eat. Our omelets were large and tasty.
As soon as we got back on the road, the landscape was scrubby grazing land with ranch houses. Eventually, we were in the desert with absolutely nothing around but sagebrush. Nothing as far as the eye could see. Then we would crest a small hill and see more endless desert. For hours and hours.
Here is the excitement for that section of the trip. We crested a rise in the road and this bull walked out in front of us. He turned to challenge us and stared for a minute or two until another car approached from the other direction. Then he ambled on across the road.
I took this photo from the driver’s seat and then used Photoshop to eliminate all the bug splats on the windshield.
The desert was never-ending and the fuel gauge was down to a quarter of a tank. I began to worry and told Andy I was going to stop in the first station I saw, no matter what brand. We were both relieved when we came to the tiny town of Christmas Valley with a grocery store/gas station.
Not long after Christmas Valley, we reached trees and mountains. We passed through several national forests. We began to see smoke in the air. The closer we got to Crater Lake National Park, the more smoke we breathed. There were signs for “fire activity”. That included a man sitting in a pickup truck, waiting to be called to stop traffic for a helicopter to land, if necessary. He told us all the roads were open so we kept going. Then we passed the Fire Base, a huge camp with dozens of large tents and vehicles.
When we finally got to our destination, Crater Lake RV in Prospect, OR, I told the attendant that I was worried about the thick smoke. We are old people and it sure didn’t seem healthy to breathe it for three days. The fire was about eight miles away and even that seemed too close for comfort. He agreed and said he would not stay if he was us. Then he gave us directions for continuing our journey.
We drove to White City near I-5 and headed north to Grants Pass. There was more smoke and fire activity there. We headed southwest on US199, the Redwood Highway which is a National Forest Scenic Byway. And it sure is scenic – and winding. I don’t recall how far along it we were when the smoke finally cleared. Then we enjoyed the drive and breathing.
It was nearly midnight (eastern time) when we reached Crescent City, California on the Pacific Ocean. We got fuel and found an RV park sign just down the street. The office was closed so we just pulled into a spot. We had not hooked up our power cord when the park manager came by to say that spot belonged to someone else. We met her at the office and she found us a better spot farther off the highway. We had driven 531 miles over a period of about fourteen hours. I slept soundly.