August 22, 2019 – Crescent City to Eureka, California and Happy Birthday Andy

Anyone who has done it will agree that the drive along the California coast is spectacular. It is not just the brilliant blue Pacific, but also the redwoods and other trees. Then there are the giant rocks and cliffs. We didn’t see much of that. It was foggy for most of the two-hour drive. Once, when the road was down near sea level, Andy said he could see the waves. It was a pleasant winding drive anyway. Although, I didn’t care too much for the section of our south-bound lane that was missing.

We are staying at Redwood Acres again this year. It is fairgrounds and a race track. Here, we have water, electric, and sewer connections. Another advantage is that we can walk to the grocery store – and get our exercise and food at the same time.

Scamp in Eureka, California

I am excited to be here, almost as much over the blackberries as seeing Christopher and Cordelia. Full blackberry season is not until September, but I got a few delicious ones in Christopher’s yard yesterday. Blackberry picking is on the agenda.

When we stayed here before, we were backed up to the trees and the fence behind us was laden with huge, shiny, blackberries. It is bad camp manners to walk into other people’s campsite uninvited, so I am going to have to do my berry picking elsewhere this year.

RVs and young Redwood trees.

It was not long after we got set up on our site when son Christopher arrived. After hugs and initial greetings, we got down to the serious business of deciding where to take Andy for his birthday party. Andy chose Renata’s in Arcata, a crepe restaurant.

I forgot to take my camera, but Christopher took one photo of Andy when Andy’s mocha. It came out a bit blurry but is too funny not to post.

The coffee was served in a good-sized bowl and even came with a spoon (I suppose to eat some of that thick whipped cream). Andy’s expression is priceless.

We sat out in the back yard in the warm sunshine in the afternoon. The temperature here is in the high 60s and low 70s. I got acquainted with my new granddog, Cooper. Actually, Chris and Cordelia have had him about a year; Chris went to pick him up the day we left here last year.

He’s a big dog, a year-and-a-half old and very playful. He has a rag that used to be a lobster dog toy. I had to let go before he tipped me and my chair over. Later, we were chasing each other around the yard and Cooper got so excited, he ran right into me and almost knocked me down.

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August 21, 2019 – Prospect, Oregon to Crescent City, California

It was all downhill today – Prospect at 2,566 feet to sea level. It was also one of those drives I’ll never forget. We took US62 from Prospect, Oregon (near Crater Lake National Park) the road followed the Rogue River, winding through the mountains. At first, the roadsides were filled with fir, pine, and a few other trees. Sometimes we drove through valleys with farms. I saw some crops I could not identify and, after browsing Google images for a while, I think they are either young grapes vines, hemp, or cannabis. Then we turned north on Interstate 5 to the town of Grants Pass.

The most spectacular part of the trip was US 199 from Grants Pass down to the Pacific Ocean and Crescent City. This road follows the water down to the ocean. There were a number of small resort towns, but the closer we got to the ocean, the narrower the gorge and the larger the trees. Eventually, we were in the redwoods. Sometimes the gorge was so narrow that it was only as wide as the two-lane highway and the creek, between two steep mountainsides. Often, those mountainsides showed signs of previous landslides. That was creepy since it was raining lightly.

Of course, I didn’t take any pictures while driving so I found two with Google images. Here is one demonstrating why it is creepy to drive through those narrow, steep, landslide sections.

The section through the redwoods is magical. Again, from Google Images.

We are staying in an RV park right on the ocean tonight.

The emphasis here is on park, as in parking lot. But, we have a full hookup (water, electric, and sewer) and we can see the ocean waves out the windows.

Scamp in Crescent City, California

It is named Crescent City for the crescent-shaped beach on the south end of town.

It was a bit foggy and misty today. The beach is wide and long. There were dozens of surfers, but the waves did not look too big and exciting to me.

Crescent Beach, California

The city has placed several double-sized picnic tables along the road.

Picnic Table
Crescent Beach

There is a large artificial harbor here, formed by huge rock jetties. These seals were barking (I say singing) loudly for a long time.

This gray one was responding with its own aria. The brown one with the flipper in the air raised up and, apparently, told it to shut up.

These cute Christmas decorations were probably too cute to take down. Those are some sort of fishing (or crabbing?) baskets. We saw a woman using one when we took a walk.

There is a lot of driftwood art in this town. These two pieces are in front of the Chart Room Restaurant where we had excellent seafood dinners.

It was raining in earnest when we finished eating, so we hid out in the RV until it stopped. I thought the town was tired of people running into the light poles in the parking lot. Andy suggested that these large logs are to protect the light poles from Pacific Ocean waves. Yikes.

I spotted more unknown (to me) flowers. These are ankle-high and about the size of violets.

There is a small Coast Guard Station in the harbor.

The gulls here are large and have a bright red spot on their lower beak. The head and chest are exceptionally white. The legs are pink, marking it as a Western Gull.

Western Gull

The gigantic rock at the end of the road had hundreds of these on it. I thought they were large, brilliant white flowers from below. But, after looking at the photo I took with my zoom lens, I see they are some kind of succulent.

While looking them up, I not only learned that they are Dudleya, but are also endangered and protected. People have been poaching them and selling them in Korea, Japan, and China for $40 to $50 per plant.

August 20, 2019 – Crater Lake National Park

It was breakfast on the road again, since the RV park people told us we should go to Beckie’s. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and it’s also adorable. The resort is across the road. Beckie was a man named Beckelheimer (or something like that). Beckie was his nickname. The restaurant has been serving food since 1926.

Beckie’s Restaurant

Here is a peek inside. We ate in an adjoining white room, not as charming as this.

Beckie’s Restaurant Interior

Then we were on (up, up, and uphill) to Crater Lake. This is the visitor center where we saw an excellent film about how the lake was formed about 5700 BC by volcanic eruptions in several spots around the mountain. Then the top of the mountain caved into the void created by those eruptions. They estimate that Mount Mazama was about 12,000 feet before the eruptions and collapse and 8,000 feet after. Over the millennia, the average 43 feet of snow annually filled the crater with water. It is the deepest lake in the U.S. at 1,943 feet. It is also the cleanest water in the U.S.

Crater Lake Visitor Center
Crater Lake Park Headquarters

Would you please look at the size of those rocks in the visitor center building?!

We took off for a 33-mile drive around the lake. The lake is 21 square miles. There are more than 50 turnouts along the drive and we probably hit most of them. This is our first look at the lake. It is more beautiful than any photos depict. It is beautiful enough to make a person cry. Crater Lake Blue is mesmerizing. And, the whole place smells like a Christmas tree.

That is Wizard Island in the lake. It is a volcano. Mount Mazama is not extinct; there is still hot water at the bottom. Another interesting fact: the lake seldom freezes. The last time it froze was 1949.

There are still a few patches of snow in the crater and on surrounding mountains.

The dark rock on the side of the caldera is called Devil’s Backbone. It is magma from underground that came up through a fracture.

These guys are everywhere. I had to look it up: the difference between a ground squirrel and a chipmunk is that the ground squirrel does not have the stripes on its head.

Ground Squirrel
Scamp at Crater Lake

It may be past peak flower season, but we did see some. I don’t know what any of them are.

Crater Lake National Park is not just about the lake. the rim road around the lake has elevations between 7,000 and 8,000 feet. Many of the pullouts are overlooks from the mountain.

Our guidebook says that on a clear day you can see Mount Shasta, 100 miles away in California. It took us a few minutes studying the signboard and the horizon, but then we saw it. Once we spotted it, it was clear to see. I zoomed all the way with my camera for this shot.

I think this is Hillman Peak, but it could be the Watchman.

Pasqueflower seedpods also called Mouse-on-a-stick
Wizard Island
Llao Rock
Wizard Island Again
Mouse-on-a-Stick
Toilet Building
Union Peak (7,698 feet) (older volcano) OR Mt. Thielsen (9,182 feet)

I don’t see how the lake can stay pristine with boat traffic on it.

Boat on Crater Lake
Cleetwood Cove
Yellow Flowers Over Crater Lake

The lake seemed to get a deeper blue as we moved around and had the sun behind us.

Pumice Castle (the red rock)

The rock formation jutting out of the lake is called Phantom Ship. What is most interesting about it (to me) is the picture of what it is like underwater from the signboard.

After our drive, we went to the Lodge for a meal. This is the lobby.

The next room is a large lounge.

There are large fireplaces in each of these big rooms.

The lodge sits right on the caldera rim, so there are great views of the lake while you eat. That is if you sit on that side of the room.

Dozens of (occupied) rocking chairs line the balcony/porch overlooking the lake.

Crater Lake Lodge

I kept snapping one more last picture of the lake as we walked back to Scamp.

A man asked me if I would take a picture of his family and then he took some pictures of us in the same spot.

It was a wonderful day with perfect weather. And, I FINALLY got to see Crater Lake.

August 19, 2019 – Bend, Oregon to Prospect, Oregon

We left the expensive RV park in Bend at 1031. Andy, who always makes himself a waffle for breakfast, has suddenly begun to stop for breakfast shortly after getting on the road. When I asked what was going on with his breakfast routine, he said it is too hard to cook in this RV. He’s right. I told him before we started this road trip that I was not going to prepare fancy meals like last year (it was too hard for me too). But I am not a breakfast fan so don’t care to stop for breakfast.

We had no sooner left the RV park when Andy started looking for a breakfast place. I pulled off the highway at Sun River and found Wild Wood Coffee House in a tight little shopping center. I was just going to have coffee for breakfast when I saw a veggie egg muffin on the menu. WOW! That was the best breakfast sandwich I ever had. I think they must have assembled it in a can. From the bottom up: English muffin bottom, Cheddar cheese, a thick layer of arugula (how else would they have been able to get that much arugula on a muffin without a can), a thick fried egg (surely cooked in a ring), and a thick tomato slice. I’ll tell you right now, egg and arugula is a special combination.

The scenery from Bend to Prospect, Oregon is all trees. Both sides of the highway. Uphill and down. If it was not so beautiful, it would be boring. Crater Lake RV Park is actually thirty-five miles from Crater Lake National Park. We passed the north entrance to the park and the south entrance. We traveled 132 miles today.

Scamp in Crater Lake RV Park, Prospect, Oregon
Campsite in Crater Lake RV Park

We were no sooner in our campsite than we headed back out to explore. The local cuisine, that is.

Prospect Cafe in Prospect, Oregon
Andy and Burger in Prospect Cafe

Another man in the restaurant who had also ordered a hamburger stopped by our table. He commended Andy on how much he was eating and said, “That hamburger was so big, I couldn’t jump over it”. Andy did not attempt to pick it up; he ate it with a knife and fork.

We drove a mile or so down the highway to a bridge over the Rogue River. The gorge was stunning and deeper than it appears in my photos. The waterfall was higher and steeper than it appears here also. Note the platform on the right side of the picture. That is a deck behind someone’s house.

Waterfall on Rogue River

The downstream side of the bridge also seemed deeper than it appears here. Note the two people standing on the rock on the right side.

People Standing on Rock Over Rogue River

We went a bit farther down the road for a “MUST SEE” overlook of Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls. Unfortunately, the trail was too steep for Andy’s knees and sense of balance, so we turned back before getting to the overlook.

August 18, 2019 – Mountain Home, Idaho to Bend, Oregon

I am so sad not to have taken any photos on the road today; the scenery was most interesting. But, alas, I am not allowed to drive and photograph at the same time. We drove most of this route last year on our way to Crater Lake and I enjoyed it just as much. We took Interstate 84 from Mountain Home up to Ontario, Oregon where we finally left interstates for a while. It took a couple turns past small farms to get us on US 20. Then we continued into the ugly brown mountains and followed the Malheur River. The pretty river flowing between the ugly mountains makes for interesting scenery. Next time, I’ll pull over and take some pictures. For now, though, I got some from the web as examples.

Here are the ugly mountains and the pretty river. I don’t know if we passed this exact spot, but it is close enough to give you an idea. There are also large, smooth ugly mountains.

The Malheur River west of Harper (Photo No. malDA0043a)

When we came out of the gorge, much of the scenery was like this. There are huge expanses of it. Sometimes there would be a ranch, or a fuel station, or a restaurant. I mean three or four in hours of driving. The town of Burns (and/or Hines) was the only real civilization with a population of 2,806 in the 2010 census. We stopped at the Subway for sandwiches and then topped off the fuel tank for good measure.

I forgot to write down the time we arrived in Bend, but our mileage today was 541 miles. No wonder I’m tired.

The RV park (The Camp) is in town. I might like it if it was not so darned expensive. It has some very cute old camper trailers that can be rented. So those are the only pictures I took today.

Scamp in Bend, Oregon

August 17, 2019 – Bridger, Wyoming to Mountain Home, Idaho and The Golden Spike!

We actually back-tracked five miles this morning to go to a place for breakfast in Mountain View, Wyoming. Crazy Ate Cafe was nice and popular.

Crazy Ate Cafe & Steakhouse

When the waitress asked what we wanted to drink, I said coffee and Andy said decaf. She replied that they don’t have decaf. I murmered that it didn’t matter and Andy told the waitress, “Lie to me”. So, when she served the coffee she said, “one coffee and one decaf” with a smile and walked on. Andy ordered a full omelet breakfast. I am not a big breakfast fan so I just ordered a small cinnamon bun. I am proud to say I didn’t eat the whole thing but ashamed to say I ate most of it. We ordered one to go for tomorrow’s breakfast. Folks, that is a full-sized dinner carry-out food container holding a giant cinnamon bun (wrapped in plastic). You should have seen the large ones!

Cinnamon Bun

I was approaching a truck on the interstate and turned on my turn signal to move to the left lane. Two cars and one motorcycle went by. I knew there had been two motorcycles but didn’t see the second one in my rearview mirror. I turned my head and there he was right alongside. He was pointing to the side of our RV. Then he moved on. I pulled over and stopped at the next exit ramp. It was the fuel fill door, left open from our fuel stop. Thank you, motorcycle man.

We left I-80 and turned northward on I-84. The grassy mountains turned into a rocky gorge as the interstate followed the Weber River down the mountain. It was gorgeous (pun intended). For a while, the river ran in the median of the interstate. We saw a busload of whitewater rafters getting ready to launch and also many already in the river. Andy said we were heading north along the east side of the Great Salt Lake but were not close enough to see it. Also, there was a mountain between us and the lake.

A bit north of Ogden, Utah, I saw one of those brown signs for parks. I caught a glimpse of it just as we passed the exit. It said “Golden Spike National Historic Park. I could not pass that by. The next exit was just a mile or two up the road, so I turned around and came back. Then we noted that the park was twenty-seven miles off the interstate. Andy did not object, so I carried on.

It was twenty-seven curvy miles through farm fields and then barren grassland. We were truly out in the middle of nowhere when we came across an enormous Northrup Gruman facility. It has something to do with rockets.

Promontory Summit is at the end of nowhere, at the north end of the Great Salt Lake. The scenery all around is grassy plains and mountains. The visitor center parking lot was nearly full including a dozen or two hot rods.

The visitor center is a very attractive stone building and this is the view out the back.

We walked out for a closer look. These two locomotives are replicas of the Central Pacific’s “Jupiter” and the Union Pacific’s No. 119. They were built in 1979. No. 119 was running and a sign warned people not to touch it.

Union Pacific No. 119

The “last tie” was between the trains and had a plaque on it. It is not the one used in the ceremony; it was taken back to San Francisco and burned in a fire after the San Francisco earthquake. Of course, the golden spike was not left there to be stolen either. It is in the museum at Stanford University. I was still thrilled to stand on the very spot where the U.S. east and west were connected. It was the beginning of an era.

If you have not read Stephen Ambrose’ “Nothing Like It in the World” order it right now. Here, I’ll make it easy for you. This was one of the best history books I’ve read. Ambrose is as readable as a novel. It gave me a real appreciation for the Herculean effort and tremendous amount of money (and a high cost in human lives) that went into completing the transcontinental railroad.

What American school student has not seen this photo?

The Last Tie – May 10, 1869

We watched the twenty-minute movie and then got back on the road west. We crossed the Snake River three or four times on our way through farm country to Mountain Home, Idaho. We finished our long day of 235 miles at 1839.

August 16, 2019 – Cheyenne, WY to Fort Bridger, WY

We got underway at 0814. Unlike yesterday, the sky was clear. Traffic was extremely light, so the interstate was not so bad. The scenery quickly became dry and rugged. We crossed through some Rocky Mountains and the Continental Divide (twice). The trip was 331 miles. That was 331 miles of endless vistas in all directions. The highway would disappear at the horizon and then when we crested a hill, the view would be endless again. This happened over and over

Last night I did some homework and picked out a Wyoming “scenic byway” to get off the interstate. It did not turn out to be much of a diversion; it was only twenty miles. But, it ended at the destination Andy had already chosen for the night, Fort Bridger. We arrived at 1427 and walked immediately to the Fort Bridger Historic Site, a state park.

Scamp at Fort Bridger RV Park

The park web site has everything you’d want to know about this fascinating place, which is not just Wyoming history but also United States history as well. I have copied a bit of it here:

“By 1840, the Fur Trade Era, with its keen competition for beaver pelts, its raucous reputation for rendezvous, and its solid association with all that was wild and untamed in the Rocky Mountain West, was drawing its last breath. Mountain men who had survived the rigors of the wilderness were forced to seek new methods of employment. Two of those men, James (Jim) Bridger and Louis Vasquez, teamed up to operate a trading post in order to provide much needed services for the rapidly increasing number of settlers passing through on the way to their promised lands. After unsuccessfully trying two other locations, Bridger finally found the perfect spot, as stated in a letter he dictated and sent to Pierre Choteau Jr. requesting supplies in December of 1843.

“I have established a small fort, with a blacksmith shop and a supply of iron in the road of the emigrants on Black Fork of Green River, which promises fairly. In coming out here they are generally well supplied with money, but by the time they get here they are in need of all kinds of supplies, horses, provisions, smithwork, etc. They bring ready cash from the states, and should I receive the goods ordered, will have considerable business in that way with them, and establish trade with the Indians in the neighborhood…”

Thus, Fort Bridger was born out of the entrepreneurial spirit of its first owners, Mountain Men. The establishment of Fort Bridger in 1843 was unwittingly an acknowledgment that the frontier way of life was ending. No longer would a man be able to earn his living off the bounty of the land, explore new territories, and discover nature’s wonders, unfettered by the demands and luxuries of civilization. The Mountain Men had lived in two worlds, adopting the Native American ways for survival, meanwhile, keeping ties with family back in the “states”, also for survival. The settlers, however, brought civilization with them, and as Bridger had shrewdly observed, “ready cash”, which he gladly exchanged for supplies, fresh horses, food staples, clothing and smith work. For a decade, the Bridger Vasquez partnership worked successfully, with Bridger, who could neither read nor write, often traveling and trading, while Vasquez, kept the books and tended the store.”

Here is a bit more from the park brochure:

“Not only did the location “promise fairly”, it proved to be one of the main hubs of westward expansion used by mountain men, Indians, emigrants and Mormon pioneers, the U.S. Army, Pony Express, Overland Stage, and Union Pacific Railroad. Even during the1900s The Lincoln Highway, Highway 30 and Interstate 80 crossed in or near Fort Bridger.”

The outpost now sells tickets for park admission.

It is filled with interesting artifacts. And, they take credit cards.

William Carter served here when the outpost became an army fort. He stayed on and became the post merchant. He built this small schoolhouse for his children and hired teachers from the U.S. They were apparently well-taught and went from here to colleges in the east. (Jennifer and George – note that some went to Cornell.) The small building attached it the milk house. The schoolroom is fully furnished and very cute.

Wyoming’s Oldest Schoolhouse

They collected ice from the river and stored it in this ice house. The building to the right was where they kept their “refrigerated” goods.

Carter’s Freight Wagon

The fort became a military outpost in 1858. It was abandoned in 1890 when Wyoming became a state.

Officer’s Quarters

The Commanding Officer had a fine home.

Commanding Officer’s Quarters

I took over 200 pictures today but will share just a few.

Commanding Officer’s Parlor
Officer Quarters
Officer Parlor
Officer Quarters Kitchen
Brass Crib
Barracks, Now a Museum
Barracks Colonnade

Call me lazy, but rather than write out all the trails and roads that came through here, making this little spot a hub of westward expansion, I’ll just give you a picture of the sign. There is a large map where these trails and sites light up when you push the buttons. Route 66 has nothing on this place but kitsch.

James Bridger
Army Commissary

And, lastly, this is a windmill in the RV park. It does not appear to be doing anything but is whirling around briskly in the strong winds we are having.