Leaving the Coast

Thursday (Aug 27) 

Woke up a little earlier than usual. The van was getting hot in the sun and I was hung over. I did not earn the hung over feeling by any particular misbehavior last night, I think rather that the parking lot lifestyle is just not a healthy one. Last night for instance, by the time I cruised around looking for the right spot and parked it was about 8:30. Then I fiddled around for a while, ate my huge sandwich about 10pm, and without any kind of exercise, walk to the bathroom or even stepping outside to look at the stars (what stars, it’s a overly lit parking lot), I set up my bed and stretch out, never leaving the van. My arteries are jamming up just thinking about it.

I basically wake up and leave – why linger? I cruise by the little donut shop where I had a pleasant time a couple of years ago, but it is out of business – oh change! Move on to Plan B, breakfast at the Pig ‘n Blanket, 1/4 mile away. That place is always waiting-list crowded. This time their wifi was broke. Good thing today’s destination is Edgefield, or that might’ve upset me :) Eggs and razor clams is expensive, but usually pretty good, but this time the clams were rubbery and the lettuce garnishment shoulda been thrown out yesterday. Not the best day for Pig ‘n Blanket.

The trip through Portland was way suckier than it should have been at 2 in the afternoon. The road, 18 to 99W was busy throughout and the drivers had that special kind of aggression that means a big city is near. The outer burbs – Newburg, Dundee – were jammed with traffic, then it mellowed out until Sherwood. The remaining long stretch of suburban hell of 99W was clogged as it always is. At all the major switch points – 5 to 405 to 84 – it was a dead stop then crawl at 5mph for a few minutes. Yuck.

But eventually I get to the other side of the metropolis, good ole I-84 to Troutdale, and here I am chillin’ in the Men’s Dorm!

Edgefield:  

Disneyland for adults! many bars, three restaurants, weekend concerts, historical buildings, free coffee, beautiful grounds, and warm soaking pools with groovy little shower thingies and complementary bathrobes. deee-LUX!

There are men's and women's dorms at opposite ends of the third floor, so one can stay relatively cheaply.

tonight:

The check-in kids are a little more snippy and authoritarian than two years ago. They charge your card $50 extra just because they can. The wifi seems weaker.

However, they've rearranged the men's dorm so each bunk's lockers are next to it - more user-friendly - progress! Bunk/locker 3 is my favorite.

I executed my Platonic ideal of an Edgefield schedule very well!

waiting for the band

  • Got here early as possible because it’s awesome,
  • hang out in the dorm for a while because it’s all mine in the middle of the day,
  • hit happy hour – two beers – drink them out under the trees at a picnic table,
  • listen to tonight’s folkie group,
  • back to the room to don my bathrobe for a soak,
  • soak,
  • space out for an hour or so until time for second happy hour,
  • eat and drink again,
  • go to bed, and pee a lot since I’ve been soaking up pints for a while.
  • At 11am, breakfast closes and my keycard stops working, so get up, shower, and move out of the dorm by 10:30-ish
  • breakfast
  • hang out as much of the next day as I can because it’s still aswesome

Friday 

lots of loungers Friday morning

Even though there were a lot of fellows in the dorm making a lot of trips to the bathroom all night (the toll of second happy hour), I felt curiously refreshed and actually got myself rolling and out the door by 10:15. The fact that all the other 6-8 dudes in the dorm were all up and at ’em by 8:30 might have shamed me a bit, but it all happened without effort, because that’s the way it had to be!

At the Black Rabbit I order the amazing french toast with homemade fruit compote, then settle up with the desk, and here I am, hanging on the front porch for what I plan will be all the early afternoon!

Things here are gearing up for the weekend whirl. On the lawn I can hear sound check for tonight’s $39/head concert. From the various awkward/drunken/touching conversations on the porches, there are least two big weddings getting revved up. It’s always entertaining here.

Around 4pm it’s time for me to blow this joint and move on. It’s jarring to leave all this relaxation and be immediately sucked into the Friday night traffic vortex of folks getting the heck out of Portland for the weekend. I get my diesel and shop at a crowded Safeway (oh the stress!) and I’m ready to take on the interior for the next few days.

26 is a pretty drive. It starts out hugging the flank of Mt Hood, with great views of the mountain. Tonight there are thousands of runners puffing along for some charity marathon event. Plan A was to stop at one of the thickly forested campgrounds near Mt Hood, but they were pretty busy with charity marathon support teams, so I went to plan B, Mecca Flats, a cool-sounding BLM boat launch site an hour further down the road, in the godforsaken high desert, just south of Warms Springs Reservation. A longer drive than I would like, but it will be worth it to escape all the charity marathon hurly burly.

Mecca Flats:  

Adventurous spirit and 2 bumpy miles of gravel pays off! All to myself on this warm Friday night. Beautiful spacious canyon and a fast flowing river. Reminds me very much of the river and canyon outside Yakima WA. Similar climate and similar geology (400' thick basalt lava flows as far as the eye can see).

We are on the Deschutes River - a Wild and Scenic River at this point, right across the river from the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.

tonight:

Adventurous spirit and 2 bumpy miles of gravel pays off! All to myself on this warm Friday night. Beautiful spacious canyon and a fast flowing river. Reminds me very much of the river and canyon outside Yakima WA. Similar climate and similar geology (400' thick basalt lava flows as far as the eye can see).

We are on the Deschutes River - a Wild and Scenic River at this point, right across the river from the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.

Deschutes River

Really pleasant here, hit the jackpot – except for the rough road … and the wind … and the bugs. The wind is annoying as always, but it also upsets my active imagination, since I was too close to a forest fire a few days ago. It seems like a forest fire wind, and one would be kinda fucked if a fire came roaring up this canyon with only this narrow bumpy road to get the heck outta here.

The wind also causes all these millions of mayflies or whatever they are to cling to the leeward side of the van, 10 or 15 of which are now batting aimlessly around inside, crawling on my mac screen and bumping into my head. Fucking hot in the van with the door closed, but the bugs are intense …

I had the whole valley as far as the eye could see to myself until … a group of 3 cars of what sound like happy hipsters showed up after dark last night – they parked at the far end of the camp – bless them – and whooped and hollered and had a dorky good time all night. It would have been nicer to have the place to myself, but since I don’t, it is a blessing that they are not scary, creepy, or playing country music – bless them :)

Turns out that without the glow of a device screen, the bugs are not a problem. They aren’t blood-sucking, biting bugs anyway, they are just big and clumsy and make it really hard to concentrate when they are walking on your screen. After I stopped reading and really got ready for bed, I left the van door open till after sunrise, to hear the sound of the rushing river all night – pretty rad … and bugless!

Saturday 

Saturday morning, bunch of city folks gettin ready to float down the river
Lots more weather than I bargained for out here. It’s still really windy, but the temp has dropped about 20° and it’s spitting rain. I think this is the region-wide temperature drop I’ve been waiting for. If so, last night was the tail end of the very hot days I wished to avoid, and today is the start of the good stuff … accompanied by the weather instability that comes with a change.

still windy, this is where my flip flops were in the morning!
Turns out all the kids are here for a rafting trip down the mighty Deschutes! 8:30-ish, the van with the rafts pulls up, and all the kids are trundling back and forth with their gear. Too bad I took the spot right next to the launch site, but who knew other people would come! I made a cup of tea and hung out and watched them mill around until they finally pushed off.

It was windy yesterday evening, but it is REALLY windy this morning – my flip flops were 50′ away when I finally left my sanctuary to retrieve them! It was very fun to take my time driving back out of here, quite dramatic vistas that I was a little too tired and stressed to enjoy last night.

old bridge is now a pedestrian walkway
About 40 minutes into the drive I came on the park on the edge of the dramatic canyon of the Crooked River. It’s almost straight down, a couple of hundred feet. The Deschutes Canyon is kind of a wider version of the same thing. What is it about the geology of these huge lava fields that makes these canyons so steep?

Yelp showed a likely spot for “breakfast all day, wifi” in Redmond, so I did it! Bend is a little too intense for me, so a quiet side street in Redmond worked out way better.

I did venture into downtown Bend for a sandwich and cruised the downtown a bit, then got the heck out. Beautiful river, lots of cool stuff downtown, some pretty gross street people, but overall the place seems like a bad yuppie wet dream to me.

I way over-planned today, because I had forgotten how fucking worthless the stretch between Bend and Klamath Falls is. I thought I would spend two nights here, so I could end up on Upper Klamath Lake the second night.

  1. Cy Bingham Campground in Crescent looked good on paper, but was more like a downscale trailer park than a place I would want to stay. The rutted dirt entrance wasn’t even marked. Kind of a sh–hole in other words.
  2. Walt Haring Snow Park in Chemult was plausible, but it’s too early in the day to spend the rest of it in that boring parking lot.
  3. Williamson Campground in Chiloquin – I did end up here, another 40 minutes of the day used up to get here, which hopefully means an extra 40 minutes at the wildlife refuges tomorrow!
  4. Hagelstein County Park on the Lake – I just ran out of nerve on this one. It is Saturday night in August and the place is free with only 10 spots, with NO fallback option for another 80 miles southward, so I chickened out and stopped at the sure thing.

Williamson River Campground:  

1.6 miles of unpleasant washboardy gravel road. The same turnoff as Collier State Park - cheaper, and you get what you pay for! Flat, featureless, 3' tall undergrowth and 60' tall ponderosa pines scattered about. There is a trail to the Williamson River about 1/3 mile away.

tonight:

well, well, three years later, and the exact same site calls to me! The big boy trailers are lining the outside of the campground loop, so spot 8 on the inside looks good, I angle myself away from everybody for that illusion of privacy.

This place is super boring, but so is this entire 150 miles or so of US 97. I tried out my theory that going really fast on washboardy roads is easier than going really slow, and it worked great! I put up a hell of a dust plume, but I got through that 1.5 mies crappy road really quick!

The vermin keyword is because a chipmunk jumped in the van with me this morning - not cool!

Williamson Campground is pretty boring

Ahhh, pleasant and cool and quiet and uncrowded (a few giant camping trailers, but no actual humans!), and since there is no possibility of any interesting thing to do here, I am free to sit and write and relax without thinking I should be doing something interesting.