I woke up this morning to cloudy and cool weather. It was in the low fifties outside and about sixty inside. Getting out of my warm bed was a slow process. The temperature was very slow to rise. The sun started to break through the clouds during the afternoon and managed to warm the temperature into the low sixties before it set.
My campsite is east of the Cascade mountains at about 2800 feet. Irrigation has turned the rolling hills of this area of high desert into farm land. The campground is surrounded by fields two of which produced a crop of wheat earlier in the season. Behind the campground is a set of fields with horses grazing. The western horizon is dominated by the Cascades complete with snow topped volcanic mountains.
I drove south to the larger community of Redmond Oregon this afternoon. The traffic was surprisingly heavy on US97. I didn’t have as much traffic yesterday on the section of road north of here. US97 is the a main north south route on the east side of the Cascades from California to Washington. Today there was a lot of truck and RV traffic on the road. My goal today was to figure out where things were located for touring during my stay here. I also found a big relatively new Walmart for shopping sometime during my stay. Today I only bought some Gorilla tape and a couple of grocery items to keep me feed until I get around to really shopping.
The campsites around me have gradually filled up this afternoon. There were a lot of empty spaces when I arrived yesterday. Most of the campsites with utilities will be full this weekend. Some of the tent sites are also full, but forty degree temperatures and rain Saturday night are in the forecast. Only hardy tenters are likely to be camping this weekend.
Today was a travel day. The weather cooperated by providing a dry sunny day. I got everything packed and ready to go by 10:30am.
It was an easy drive east on Interstate 84 along the Columbia River. Traffic wasn’t heavy and the usual wind wasn’t blowing hard. There were two or three locations with many little fishing boats clustered in an area of the river. I would guess they’re chock points for the salmon migration up river that the local fishermen know about. There weren’t any good locations to stop with the motorhome to checkout what was going on in detail.
I planned today’s trip along a longer but possibly flatter route so I could buy gas at a good location. Using Google maps satellite view, I found a Pilot gas station that had good prices and plenty of room to maneuver at the pumps. It was located long before I would need to buy gas, but I knew I was heading into sparsely populated areas with few gas stations. It was a great plan, but when I got to the station there was no way I was going to be able to get gas there. There was a new building in the parking lot that wasn’t in the satellite view and lots of parked cars. My options were to reverse direction fifteen miles or continue on. Since I still had a little less than half a tank, I chose to continue on. I have a little more than a quarter tank tonight with several options in the next thirty miles.
The second reason for my route choice was the thought that it was a flatter route. I don’t know what the other routes actually had for hills, but the first thirteen miles south from the Interstate and the Columbia River were all up hill. After that, the constant climb turned into rolling hills. It was only a problem when there was slow traffic in front of me. I usually don’t have enough acceleration to get by slow hill climbers.
It was an easy drive overall. The terrain turned into high desert with the irrigated areas planted in wheat and other grasses. I got to the Central Oregon KOA just north of Redmond Oregon around 2PM. I’ll be here for six nights before continuing south. I hope to visit some of the Oregon sights on the east side of the Cascades.
The rain that resumed Tuesday evening finally stopped around noon today. The forecast implied it would be over by the time morning arrived. It rained at a steady rate all night. Once the sun started to break through I hurried to get out and enjoy the day.
My first stop was at the old Cascade Lock in the center of town. One of the river tugboats was tied up in the abandon lock. The tug is one of the boats caught up river from the closed Bonneville Lock. There isn’t much work for the tug while the lock is closed. In the last week and a half since the lock was closed for emergency repairs, all of the barges are at their upriver destinations filled with goods for transit downriver. The lock isn’t expected to reopen until September 30th. The old lock is not a normal place to find a tugboat. I can only guess at the reasons it was there. The old lock is probably the nearest point on the river to its home port of Portland to tie up that is also accessible by car. Maybe there was a crew change or a visit with friends and family from Portland. The tug’s crew was very relaxed. One guy was even fishing off the tug’s stern.
After spending about an hour walking around and watching the action along the river, I had a minor moment of panic. I realized I left home without my security blanket. My cell phone was back at my RV home. It never fails to amaze me at the thoughts that go through my head when I don’t have that little hunk of electronics. It’s hard to believe I survived for years without one. I decided to return to camp for my phone. While I was at home the sky opened up for another shower. Even though the storm didn’t last long, I never got back out of the campground.
Tomorrow I’m moving on. I’ll be on the east side of the Cascade mountains about two thirds or the way down the state for the next six nights. I managed to see the salmon at the hatchery twice while I was here. That was my primary reason for returning to this area. The rainy weather kept me from getting in some hiking and waterfall viewing. Just one more thing to add to the list for another year.
Today was a real rain out. The rain started Monday evening. A light rain fell all night with occasional burst heavy enough to interrupt my sleep long enough for me to roll over. The morning was cool in the fifties. It was just cool enough to slow my departure from the warmth of my bed. The rain continued most of the day. Their was one brief break in the mid afternoon. I got a walk in around the campground, but had to hurry inside when the rain returned. The rain is forecast to change into scattered showers tomorrow.
The TV weather forecasters are commenting on how unusual this weather is for the season. The temperature is at least ten degrees cooler than normal. Rain storms like this are apparently more normal in mid to late October. There is already snow at altitude in the mountains. The extended forecast doesn’t show much improvement.
My day was filled with reading, watching TV and Internet surfing. Overall it was a real lazy day. The gloomy day, combined with my location under tall pines and the season of the year resulted in a short day. It was dark enough to turn on the lights by 5PM.
The weather maker didn’t know what to do today. The day started with a light rain and ended with a much heavier rain. During the day the sun was out one minute and it was raining the next. Most of the showers only lasted a few minutes. Around the supper hour the showers merged into a continuous rain. Tomorrow is forecast to be more rain than sun.
Once the sun made an appearance, I headed out for some more exploring of the area. My first stop was back at the Bonneville Fish Hatchery. Today they were processing salmon. The fish from the crowder pool are lifted into the building for sorting. It was hard to tell exactly what the criteria was, but I’m pretty sure non hatchery fish were sent back to the creek via a tank truck. Coho salmon were sent to a holding pool and the Chinook salmon were processed. Machines collected data about the fish including reading an electronic chip that was inserted in their lip when they were young. Once sorted I think the fish were transported to another location for the “assisted” spawning. It’s also possible they were being sold off as excess. No one was available to answer questions.
There was a brief shower while I was in the hatchery building, but it was sunny again when I was ready to depart. I continued my drive west in the Columbia River Gorge to the Multnomah Falls. I visited the falls in July and hiked up toward the top. This time I was primarily interested in the creek that flows from the falls. I was curious to see if there were any salmon. There were signs warning people not to disturb the spawning fish, but I didn’t see any. I joined the crowds viewing the falls from the base, but didn’t climb to any of the higher levels. It was threatening rain again.
The weather forecast was mostly right for once. It rained all day. The only good thing was that I’m further east than the locations getting heavy rain. The Portland area got near record levels of rain. Here it was a steady, but mostly light rain.
The things I want to do in the area are mostly outside activities, so I chose to stay at home today. After all the weekend residents packed up in the rain and departed, I took advantage of the empty laundry room. Both times I checked on Friday and Saturday all of the machines were busy. Today I had less competition. I am mostly caught up with the laundry now.
During the rest of day, as I watched various pro football games, I had a chance to reflect on this summers travels. As of last Friday, I have six weeks of travel left this year. At the end of October, I settle in Las Vegas for four months. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get a few things accomplished that aren’t easy while your traveling.
This summer I’ve attempted to travel less and stay in one location longer. Most of my stops have been two weeks long. Twice I’ve moved less than twenty miles between two week stays. My goals was to see more things within a one hundred mile radius of my location. It did produce a more relaxed approach to travel, but it also played into my tendency to procrastinate. Knowing that I will be in an area for a couple of weeks I often put things off to another perhaps better day. As my stay in an area came to an end there were still things on my want to see list. Overall, I think it is about the right pace and there are plenty of things on my list for future visits to this area.
As I plan for next summer I’m trying to learn from this summers travels. Initially, I was thinking too big. Visiting five areas for what is essentially the first time is just the opposite of this years focus on a single state. I’ve already got seven weeks of reservations in the Arizona area starting at the end of February. I’m currently thinking I should dedicate the late April to end of June period to another area, then July and August to another, followed by September thru October in an area near my 2020 winter destination of Florida. I’d still have lots of miles to cover, but could do it in bursts with extended stays in between. There is no one way to accomplish this full time RV travel life style. I’m still learning as I start the fifth year living in my RV home at the start of October.
It was a better weather day than I expected. The temperature peaked in the low seventies under a partly cloudy sky. The forecast late day rain is now forecast to start early tomorrow morning and continue most of the week. I really didn’t take advantage of the good weather. Today wasn’t a very blog entry worth day.
Once again I got hooked on watching football from breakfast time forward. In the eastern time zone I’m already out and about before the games start. I don’t get sucked into watching the games until I return from my outing. In this time zone I need to interrupt my viewing to get on with life. After the first game was over I managed to drive into town.
The town of Cascade Locks is located at the site of an old lock that was built on the Columbia River to help shipping bypass an area of rapids that blocked mariners and the native Americans and emigrants before them using the river. The Bonneville Dam a few miles down river made the Cascade Lock obsolete and solved the problem to navigation in a different way. It turned the whole area of the river beside the town into a lake behind the dam. The rapids are still there, but quite a few feet below the surface.
I spent some time watching the action in the river from a park beside the old lock. There were plenty of empty boat trailers in the parking lot. While I was there several fishermen returned from fishing in the river and a couple of others launched. I didn’t see any caught fish, but I think fishing is good. The regulations require catch and release for many species in this area.
A line of storms brought rain to this area during the second half of the night. It was still raining when I got up this morning. By mid-morning all that was falling on the roof was the remaining moisture out of the trees above my RV home. The sporadic and louder noise of the secondary drops is more annoying than the actual rain.
The weather forecast for most of my stay here is cold and wet. I need to take advantage of all the good weather I can find, so when the sun came out around noon I got busy doing some touring. Seeing the salmon running up stream for breading is at the top of my list of reasons for returning to this area. I headed to the Bonneville Fish Hatchery. It is one of the largest hatcheries for fall Chinook and Coho salmon spawning.
When I visited the hatchery in July there were no adult salmon around. Today all of the ladders and ponds leading up to where the hatchery personnel “assist” the salmon to spawn were full of big salmon. They weren’t processing fish while I was there, but they have a very good movie that describes the process and the role of the hatchery in maintaining the species.
Outside the processing building I watched the fish climb the ladder and attempt to continue their way up river from the holding ponds. People gather around to watch the fish and try to explain to each other how the hatchery worked. Most of these “experts” need to watch the movie. I heard a few wild descriptions of the fish behavior.
After watching the salmon jump I wandered around the rest of the hatchery grounds. They have a couple of ponds for Rainbow Trout and one for White Sturgeon. These are for the viewing pleasure of visitors. They don’t breed them here. These exhibits, the flower beds throughout the grounds and the gift shop are all for the visitor’s viewing pleasure when the salmon aren’t running.
The temperature on the coast was in the low sixties as I packed up for travel this morning. This afternoon in the Columbia River Gorge east of Portland, the temperature peaked around eighty. It sounds like today is the last great day for a while. Tomorrow will have a little rain and each successive day through Sunday will have a little more. The weather is forecast to start improving on Wednesday, just in time for my next travel day on Thursday.
I departed the Astoria KOA around 10:40. The trip southeast along US 30 was interesting, but attention demanding. The road went up, down and around enough that I couldn’t enjoy the scenery. About half way to Portland, I turned north across the Columbia River into Washington to pick up Interstate 5. Traffic on Interstate 5 was very heavy, but it provides access to the north end of the I-205 beltway around Portland to the east. It saved me from having to drive through the heart of Portland on Interstate 84.
I completed my travel day around 2PM. My cell phone didn’t get charged last night, so it died along the way. My phone’s clock display is my main source for the time, so I was a bit lost. I even had to listen to FM radio on this journey. Listening to podcasts on my dead phone was also out.
I’m back at the Cascade Locks KOA for the next week. This is the same RV park in the Columbia River Gorge that I stayed at on my way into Oregon in July. I hope to see some of the salmon spawning at the hatcheries while I’m here. There are also a few more waterfalls to explore and I may take a drive up to Mount Hood. The mountain appeared to have less snow cover today than I recalled seeing in July. That is probably not surprising, but there has been a little snow fall at altitude already. All of this, of course, is weather permitting.
Today’s weather was a repeat of yesterday. It was sunny with a high near seventy. The only real difference was inland. It wasn’t as rainy to the east of here.
This afternoon I went into Astoria Oregon to visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum. It is located on the shore of the Columbia River just east of the center of town beside the Coast Guard docks. The museum and the historic lightship Columbia are informative experience. I really enjoyed my visit.
The museum has areas dedicated to the history of the river and all of the different uses the river gets. There are major displays on the Coast Guard activities protecting ships crossing the bar where the river meets the sea, the pilots that assist the ocean going ships across the bar and up river to the major ports, fishing in the river and at sea, and the barge traffic in the river inland from the major ports. The history of the river from its first discovery through World War II and the science of weather forecasting and navigation also get major exhibits.
After touring the inside exhibits I boarded the lightship Columbia for a tour. The boat, now on the national historic registry, hosted an eighteen man crew. It’s duties were to guide ships across the Columbia River bar. She was replaced by an automated navigational buoy in 1979. It’s not a large ship, so it got well tossed around by the sea. The quarters were tight, but they had a pretty good galley. They worked two to four week rotations depending on sea conditions.
Back at my RV home this evening, I started to pack for tomorrow’s travel day. I’ve left a lot to be explored in this corner of the Oregon coast, so I will have to return another year.