Category Archives: Oregon

McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway — August 7-8, 2018

On Aug. 7, we three intrepid RVers moved to the Cold Springs Campground, for a bit of dry camping.  The campground was a quiet and pleasant place deep in the woods, with widely separated but relatively tight sites.  From there we took our cars to a number of interesting places, including driving a portion of the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway.  We visited the headwaters of the Metolius River, where the river appears as a spring flowing out of the base of Black Butte.  The site is visually unimpressive, because the Forest Service platform was erected on private land too far from the spring outflow.  Afterwards we stopped for lunch at the Camp Sherman Country Store.

The McKenzie River contains Sahalie Falls (100′) and Koosah Falls (70′), two beautiful cascades that can be seen by hiking an easy 2.6-mile loop trail. These falls mark the terminus of two thick flows of basaltic andesite lava that dammed Clear Lake and moved into the McKenzie River 3,000 years ago. The results are two breathtaking waterfalls with foaming white water cascades in between.  The trail from Sahalie to Koosah Falls is less than a mile and well worth walking.  In addition to the powerful whitewater, the trail passes through an old-growth corridor densely packed with mosses, ferns, Douglas firs, hemlocks, and cedars.  

Just shy of McKenzie Pass the dense forest is replaced by an expanse of dark and broken lava that stretches for 65 square miles. It’s one of the most recent and most remarkable examples of volcanic activity in North America, the result of eruptions from Belknap Crater about 2,000 years ago. We stopped at the trailhead of the Lava River National Recreation Trail, a ½ mile paved path through lava gutters and ridges. It begins with the Dee Wright Observatory— constructed of lava rock by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935 — which has viewing ports to see many surrounding Cascade peaks. 

La Pine State Park — July 24-August 6, 2018

On July 24 our threesome (TT2, Celilo, and (nee) Dolce Vita) moved up to La Pine State Park, near Bend, OR. There we would be joined in the 2018 version of the “Caribbean cruiser reunion” by Tom & Leslie (Farhaven) and Dave & Belinda and Tom & Amy and eventually Frank & Mary Grace ( nee Let It Be).

The selection of the site was a wise one; the area abounded with interesting things to do and see.

  • On consecutive days various subsets of our group kayaked down a gentle and scenic section of the Deschutes River, renting kayaks from Tumelo Creek Kayak & Canoe in Sunriver.
  • Near the campground, on the bank of the river, the ‘Big Tree’, the largest ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) in the world is located. The tree is over 500 years old, 162 feet tall, and 28.9 feet in circumference.  This Oregon Heritage Tree would be the tallest of its species, except that its crown snapped off in a storm.
  • Some of us visited the High Desert Museum near Bend, whose outdoor exhibits feature river otters, a porcupine, sheep, gray fox, and birds of prey. There is also a Native American encampment, a start-of-the-20th-century sawmill, logging equipment, homesteaders cabin, and a forestry pavilion.  Indoor exhibits included an extensive treatment on Native Americans.  I spent a long time there.  We also attended a birds of prey program, during which I photographed some of the performers.  I had trouble subsequently identifying one of the birds, and after much searching finally learned it was a bird native to Peru:  an Aplomado Falcon.  Why a bird from Peru here in Oregon?  Turns out  the Peruvian Aplomado Falcon is the perfect falcon species to use by contractors protecting fruit crops like grapes, cherries, blueberries, and apples because it likes to chase small- to medium-sized birds—the same sizes that give growers the most problems.
  • Newberry National Volcanic Monument, including
    • Lava Butte
    • Newberry Caldera
    • Big Osidian Flow
  • We took a ski lift up Mount Bachelor,  a stratovolcano atop a shield volcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc.  Named Mount Bachelor because it “stands apart” from the nearby Three Sisters.

Crater Lake National Park — July 13-July 23, 2018

On July 13 we (Tusen Takk & Dolce Vita) moved on to the Boise Riverside RV Park, where we spent a pleasant several days enjoying the surroundings.  The Park is adjacent to the Boise River and the 26-mile trail along its shore.  We crashed a baseball game featuring the minor league home team of the Hawks.

On the 16th we went on to the home, in McCall, ID, of Tom & Leslie Arnold, site of the Caribbean cruiser reunion the previous year.  There we helped Tom install solar panels on his fifth wheel camper and enjoyed once again the hospitality of the friendly couple.  Alas, Barb stubbed her toe on a piece of furniture in our RV; the resulting injury (later confirmed as a break) was destined to plague her for weeks and weeks and weeks into the future.

We departed on the 19th, overnighted in the Harney County Fairgrounds in Burns, OR, and arrived at the Diamond Lake RV Park on the 20th.  Roberta & Michael (Celilo) joined us the next day, turning our twosome into a threesome that would persist for over a month.

We had stopped at Diamond Lake not for its attractions, which were minimal, but because it was as close as we could get to RV lodging near Crater Lake.  We visited Crater Lake National Park on two consecutive days.  The first was quite smokey due to forest fires in the general area.  Indeed, we could see from a high point in the Park one fire raging in the not-very distance.  The second day was not better, but we continued our traversal around to the various overlooks on the Rim Drive.  We also  drove down the six mile Pinnacles Road that forks to the southeast off the Rim Drive and descends through thickly forested terrain, past a trailhead for Vidae Falls (to which we hiked, with Barb waiting in the car), ending at a parking area on the rim of Wheeler Creek canyon, known as Pinnacle Valley. The formations rise up in the ravine below, formed of conglomerate-type rocks – compressed pumice and ash from long ago volcanic eruptions. Originally, when this material formed a thick, unbroken not-yet-hard layer, hot gases escaping from below created long, narrow holes (called fumaroles) which,  surrounded by a heat-hardened lining, are now left exposed as the softer deposits have eroded away.

from Wikipedia: 

Crater Lake is a caldera lake in south-central Oregon in the western United States. It is the main feature of Crater Lake National Park and is famous for its deep blue color and water clarity. The lake partly fills a nearly 2,148-foot-deep caldera that was formed around 7,700 (± 150) years ago by the collapse of the volcano Mount Mazama. There are no rivers flowing into or out of the lake; the evaporation is compensated for by rain and snowfall at a rate such that the total amount of water is replaced every 250 years. With a depth of 1,949 feet the lake is the deepest in the United States. Crater Lake features two small islands. Wizard Island, located near the western shore of the lake, is a cinder cone approximately 316 acres in size. Phantom Ship, a natural rock pillar, is located near the southern shore.

Mount Mazama, part of the Cascade Range volcanic arc, was built up over a period of at least 400,000 years. The caldera was created in a massive volcanic eruption between 6,000 and 8,000 years ago that led to the subsidence of Mount Mazama. Since that time, all eruptions on Mazama have been confined to the caldera. Sediments and landslide debris also covered the caldera floor. Eventually, the caldera cooled, allowing rain and snow to accumulate and form a lake. Landslides from the caldera rim thereafter formed debris fans and turbidite sediments on the lake bed. Fumaroles and hot springs remained common and active during this period. Also after some time, the slopes of the lake’s caldera rim more or less stabilized, streams restored a radial drainage pattern on the mountain, and dense forests began to revegetate the barren landscape. It is estimated that about 720 years was required to fill the lake to its present depth of 594 metres. Much of this occurred during a period when the prevailing climate was less moist than at present.  Some hydrothermal activity remains along the lake floor, suggesting that at some time in the future, Mazama may erupt once again.


South toward Las Vegas — September 4-14, 2017

We were joined in our trip from Hood River southward by Bill and Colleen, and later for a time by Tom and Leslie.

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

We spent a number of days in the vicinity of the National Monument, which has three separate units, two of which we visited.  Our first was to Painted Hills, where besides enjoying the colorful hills we were surprised to encounter a couple that were carrying the bottom portion of a mannequin.

Painted Hills Unit

Sheep Rock Unit

The second unit was Sheep Rock, where we made a number of stops.  We visited the impressive  Thomas Condon Paleontology Center, visited the Cant Ranch complex, an interpretive site showing an early 20th-century livestock ranch, and took a number of hikes.

Kam Wah Chung

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
The Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum, also known as Kam Wah Chung Company Building, is a state park and a National Historic Landmark that preserves early Chinese culture in the city of John Day in Oregon. Built in the 1870s, possibly as a trading post, along a wagon road later known as The Dalles Military Road, it later became the center of the Chinese community in John Day as a store and apothecary run by Ing Hay (known also as “Doc Hay”) and Lung On, Chinese immigrants from Guangdong.

The building remained abandoned after Ing Hay died in 1952. He asked that the building be deeded to the city of John Day with the provision it be turned into a museum. His wish, and the ownership of the building, were forgotten until 1967. While surveying for a new park the city discovered its ownership of the building and began to restore it as it was in the 1940s.

Today the Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum contains one of the most extensive collections of materials from the century-long influx of Chinese immigrants in the American West. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior in 2005.

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is a National Wildlife Refuge located roughly 30 miles (48 km) south of the city of Burns in Oregon’s Harney Basin. Administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the refuge was created in 1908 by order of President Theodore Roosevelt to protect habitat for diverse waterfowl and migratory birds, and grew to encompass 187,757 acres of public lands. A popular site for birding, fishing, hunting and hiking, the refuge gained widespread attention in early 2016 after its headquarters complex was occupied by armed anti-government protesters.

Steens Mountain

Steens Mountain is in the southeastern part of Oregon, and is a large fault-block mountain. It stretches some 50 miles north to south, and rises from alongside the Alvord Desert at elevation of about 4,200 feet to a summit elevation of 9,733 feet. It is sometimes confused with a mountain range but is properly a single mountain.

Steens Mountain is the largest fault-block mountain in North America. Pressure under the Earth’s surface thrust the block upward approximately 20 million years ago, resulting in a steep eastern face with a more gentle slope on the western side of the mountain. During the Ice Age, glaciers carved several deep U-shaped gorges into the peak and created depressions where Lily, Fish, and Wildhorse lakes now stand.

Diamond Craters

Diamond Craters is a 27-square-mile volcanic field in SE Oregon, 40 miles southeast of the town of Burns. It consists of cinder cones, maars (explosion craters) and lava flows.  Diamond Craters were named after the Diamond Ranch.  In 1982, the area was designated an Outstanding Natural Area.

 California Trail Interpretive Center

Located off I-80 near Elko, Nevada, the California Trail Interpretive Center tells the story of the 250,000 people who, between 1841 and 1869, sold their belongings, packed wagons, and set out for California on a 2,000 mile trek; some seeking land, some gold, others seeking adventure, and some for unknown reasons.

This extensive and impressive center should not be missed.  We took no photos inside, but snapped a few of the external (but temporary) exhibit.

Nevada Northern Railway Museum

In Ely, Nevada, we found the Nevada Northern Railway Museum is a railroad museum operated by a historic foundation dedicated to the preservation of the Nevada Northern Railway.

Museum activities include restoration and operation of historic railroad equipment, steam-powered excursions throughout the year, winter photo shoots, locomotive rentals, hand car races, lectures, an annual railroad history symposium, changing exhibits, and other events and activities.

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park

The charcoal ovens are associated with the silver mining ghost town of Ward, Nevada, established in 1876. The charcoal ovens are two miles to the south of the townsite. Six large ovens remain in excellent repair, 30 feet high, 27 feet in diameter, with walls 2 feet thick at the base. The ovens were in operation from 1876 through 1879. They were built of quartz latite welded tuff by itinerant Italian masons who specialized in the ovens, who were known as carbonari. The charcoal ovens prepared charcoal from locally harvested timber for use in the smelters at Ward, using 30 to 60 bushels of charcoal per ton of ore, for 16,000 bushels a day. The Ward ovens are the best-preserved of their kind in Nevada. They were listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

We arrived in Las Vegas on September 15. But this post is already too long, so we’ll talk about Las Vegas on our next post.

Storing the RV in Preparation for Europe Trip — Hood River, OR, August 4-6, 2017

We weren’t taking the RV to Europe, so what to do with it while we were gone?  A very welcome answer appeared in the persons of John and Shirley Nesbitt.  John is the brother of Mike Nesbitt, for whom Bill Bouchard had previously worked, and for whom Bill had done a whole series of fixes on Mike’s huge camping bus.  As a consequence of this relationship, Mike asked John if we could park our RVs on his spacious property in Hood River, OR.  John not only said yes, but he insisted on taking us to Seattle for our flight.

We spent several days getting our RVs settled in, during which John took us to several interesting venues.  The Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum has one of the largest collections of still-flying antique aeroplanes and still-driving antique automobiles in the country.  The airplane collection is mainly focused on aircraft in the period 1903–1941, but also includes light World War II Army, Army Air Corps, and naval aircraft.  The antique cars were built between 1909 and the 1960s, and are still in running condition. There are over 175 autos on display. Most are from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. The oldest car on display is an 1909 Franklin Model D.

The second experience that John gave us began with a trip south of Hood River to a community called Dee. Specifically, to an area which had in the past been the site of a lumber mill. Most of the buildings are now gone with the exception of one huge structure, constructed in 1958. That structure had been most recently employed for storage, but much of the roof had collapsed in Feb. 2017 from too much weight of snow. The contents? Parts of carousels.

But let me back up a bit.

Carol Jackson Perron graduated from Coeur d’Alene High School in 1954. As a youngster, she often visited Playland Pier, Coeur d’Alene’s waterfront amusement park. Later, Jackson spent summers working there.

When she married Duane Perron, she began urging that they do something to save the nation’s historic carousels. Starting with the restoration and operation of a 1914 carousel in Portland, Oregon in 1978, they have restored and placed into operation seven antique carousels at various locations around America, including the Playland Pier carousel, which they bought at an auction in Puyallup, Washington. For a time it resided in a shopping mall in Reading, PA. Some years later they were able to see it placed back at Coeur d’Alene.

They opened a carousel museum in Portland in 1983, but moved it to up the Columbia Gorge to Hood River in 1999. In a newspaper interview that I found on the web, Perron said “We bought a bank (building), put it there, and became almost too successful. We were part of the Gray Line tour, but we were located in the middle of downtown. If you had three or four buses trying to drop off passengers, you jammed up the whole town.” The city, he said, banned buses from parking downtown. Gray Line dropped the museum from its tour. And so, in late 2010, the International Museum of Carousel Art closed. The collection went back into storage. However, the passion for carousels lived on.

The Perrons are now in their eighties, and Carol is in ill health. But their son Brad has continued the effort, operating nine historic carousels across the country, owning the Dee building and pushing forward with plans for the Dee area. The Perron collection now has about 1,100 carved carousel horses and 21 working carousel mechanisms, seven in pristine condition, taking up two large buildings. Well, it was two, until the roof collapsed in Dee. When we visited, construction of a new roof was underway, and lots of carousel parts were covered with tarps. Other parts and been removed to be stored and dried elsewhere. John explained that the Perrons’ plan was to eventually turn the building into a new museum that would contain six operating carousels as well as a display of the collection. And if that doesn’t seem ambitious enough, the Perrons consider the museum to be a mere amenity to go along with a DeeTour hotel and concert venue to be built adjacently.

When we left the Dee building we went to the second large storage building on the elder Perrons’ farm, where we took the pictures that appear below. As we left the second building, John showed us the site of an intended additional storage building, presumably to house the surplus after the Dee building is used as a museum.

The magnitude of the collection and of the effort to save the carousel tradition left us dumbstruck.  And heartsick, because we had learned of the ill health of Carol and of the age of Duane.  It was only while doing web research about their efforts that I learned about the existence and important role son Brad now plays.  We hope to, one day not too distant in the future, be able to visit a thriving center at Dee, Oregon.

Oregon Coast — July 31-August 3, 2017

On July 31 the members of the “pod” (Shipleys, Hilbruners, Bill Bouchard and Colleen Wright) took their RVs west of Portland to the Oregon shore.  We spent time at Cannon Beach, visited the Cape Mears Lighthouse, visited the Tillamook Cheese factory, ate seafood at a number of venues, camped in the Barview Jetty County Park, and browsed in a number of art galleries.  The Oregon coast is spectacular, and our day on Cannon Beach was exceptional.  But by August 3 it was time to return back to Hood River.  The Hilbruners would soon be departing for Alaska, and the rest of us of us had to get ready for an exciting trip to Europe!

Timberline Lodge — Mt. Hood, OR; July 28, 2017

By July 28 Bill & Colleen (nee Dolce Vita) had also arrived (in their new Allegro diesel pusher) at the home of Liz Kinney.  Mike and Roberta took us all to see Timberline Lodge on the south side of Mount Hood. Constructed from 1936 to 1938 by the Works Progress Administration, it was built and furnished by local artisans during the Great Depression. Embracing and celebrating the regional themes: wildlife, Native American, and pioneer, the lodge’s original structure, architectural details, and decorations are stunning.

During the Second World War, Timberline Lodge closed as the nation faced difficult times. Quickly bouncing back at the end of the war, Timberline Lodge featured the nation’s second aerial passenger tram, the Skiway Aerial Tram. Due to financial complications and disrepair, Timberline Lodge closed for a few months in 1955. Passionate that the lodge deserved one last chance, Richard L. Kohnstamm convinced the US Forest Service to reopen the facility. Despite being an unlikely candidate, with no background in the hospitality industry, Kohnstamm became the new operator for the lodge and ski area on May, 1955, just in time to take advantage of the growing popularity of skiing.

The National Historic Landmark sits at an elevation of 5,960 feet on Mt. Hood, which has an elevation of 11,245 feet.  The Lodge is within the Mount Hood National Forest and is accessible through the Mount Hood Scenic Byway. Publicly owned and privately operated, Timberline Lodge is a popular tourist attraction that draws two million visitors annually. It is notable in film for serving as the exterior of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining.  It has the longest skiing season in the U.S., and is open for skiers and snowboarders every month of the year.

From the Lodge we took a ski lift up to a point where we could watch skiers and snowboarders arriving at the end of the snow field.  A second lift continued up the mountain and provided their access to the field.

Columbia River Gorge — July 24, 2017

As I mentioned in our previous post, after we left the Cruisers’ Rendezvous, we took our RV to Hood River, where we parked in the driveway of Liz Kinney, a relatively new friend of ours and a long-time friend of Roberta & Michael Hilbruner, who also parked beside us.  

Atmospheric pressure differentials east and west of the Cascades create a wind tunnel effect in the deep cut of the gorge, generating 35 mph winds that make Hood River and other locations in the Gorge popular windsurfing and kitesurfing locations.

On July 24 Mike and Roberta took us on an extended road trip down along the Columbia River to show us some of the more easily-accessible waterfalls, a mere smattering of the over 90 on the Oregon side of the Gorge alone.  The gorge holds federally protected status as a National Scenic Area.  Its nearness to populations and its spectacular scenery make it a popular recreational destination.

Our trip down the Gorge terminated at Crown Point.  Looking eastward from the Point we could see a prominent ridge.  Roberta and Mike were celebrating their wedding anniversary while we were there, and they told us the story of how Mike had cajoled a very reluctant Roberta into crawling out onto the ridge, where he then surprised her by proposing marriage.  She was so nervous that she got the giggles, but when she finally composed herself she assured him that “of course” she would marry him.

Walk in the Woods — Near Mr. Hood; July 26, 2017

After we left the Cruisers’ Rendezvous, we took our RV to Hood River, where we parked in the driveway of Liz Kinney, a relatively new friend of ours and a long-time friend of Roberta & Michael Hilbruner, who also parked beside us.  Their goal, to show us some of the features of the area in which they had spent many years.  This post and more to come will cover some of our activities.

On July 26, Roberta & Michael took us up toward Mt. Hood to show us one of their favorite easy hikes along a river.  It was a beautiful day, and a beautiful hike.

At the Valley Bronze Foundry — Joseph, OR; July 17, 2017

As I mentioned in our last post, some of us visited the Valley Bronze Foundry during the Cruiser Rendezvous.  We were treated to an interesting tour that featured a description of the process of making a Bronze figure.  I found the complicated process fascinating, and decided to attempt to describe it here.  (All omission and errors will be mine.)

A rough outline of the steps is something like the following, keyed to the photos.

A. The object to be rendered in bronze is encased in a plaster-like material in order to form a “negative” cast of the object.  The object itself would have been  provided by the artist, not the foundry.  The object is removed from the cast, and the cast is put back together.

B.  The hollow cast is filled with molten wax which then hardens to form a “positive” image of the original figure.

C.  The cast is removed, and the wax figure is “touched up”, removing seam lines and imperfections.

D.  Additional wax columns are attached to the figure, as well as is a base.  (The space occupied by the columns will become passages for moving molten bronze in and air and wax out of the figure.)

E.  The resulting figure is repeatedly alternately dipped into a special liquid and a special powder.  The result is a cast that can withstand the heat of molten bronze.

F.  The cast-encased assemblage is placing in an oven in order to evacuate all of the wax.

G.  The now-hollow cast is placed “upside down” on a frame with the base up in order to receive  the bronze.  (Not pictured.)

H.  Bronze ingots are melted in an electric furnace.

I. Wearing insulating coats and helmets …

J. … using cranes, the molten bronze is put into a vessel to be used for pouring …

K. … and multiple workers use hand-held “arms” to pour the bronze into the cast.

L. The result is placed in a special enclosure to slowly cool.  (Not pictured.)

M.  The cast is removed and the material from the cast is recovered. 

N.  Imperfections in the bronze figure are repaired.  If the figure was complicated and required multiple casts, then the parts are welded together.

O.  Some figures are painted or glazed by an expert colorist.

P.  Several example of completed works.