While Idaho was a great adventure, Oregon was a different kind of adventure. Leaving Arco, Idaho, we passed Craters of the Moon and continued seeing land that had been formed by ancient volcanos. Realizing that the wildfires were in both California and Oregon, we noticed the sky was even thicker with smoke that we had already experienced.
I had never been to Oregon, so I had no idea what to expect. We came into the state west of Boise, Idaho, which put us in the southern half of the state of Oregon. Our first night’s stop was in Burns, Oregon. (Appropriate name for what is going on in that state). The state had low mountains, and our route followed the river as we saw cornfields and pastures of grazing cattle. There were a lot of mountains. The sky was gray from all the smoke from Oregon’s and California’s wildfires.
The following day we continued our route south. We were on our way to Klamath Falls, but we had a stop in Lakeview for the night before heading west. As we drove south on the the Outback Scenic Byway, it reminded me of the Arizona desert but without cactus. I suppose that is why they call it the outback. I noticed the farther we went, the smokier it got. One of the unusual things we saw along this highway was Lake Abert. This huge lake was a largest salt water lake in the pacific northwest. It is almost empty. Drought played a part in the loss of water, but scientists don’t think that is the only reason, but they are not sure what has really caused this lake to dry up. It was eerie driving past this huge hole with nothing in it.
Arriving at Lakeview, where our next overnight stay was, Dennis asked the RV management about the proximity of the wildfires. They told him that it was about 14 miles away, but we were okay, nothing was coming that way. The next morning as we were getting gas in the RV, a couple people from Oregon Fire and Rescue arrived at the station to post the latest map of the wildfires. They told Dennis that our drive to Klamath Falls was safe, but we would witness some of the damage from the fires on the highway we were taking. I did not realize that Oregon is filled with huge forests of conifers—I told Dennis it made me want to hang a Christmas ornament or two! The other thing I didn’t realize is how patriotic southern Oregon people are — we passed by so many homes and businesses with their American flags out. It was nice to see.
We spent three nights in Klamath Falls, Oregon. It sits on Klamath Lake, but there are no falls anywhere around. Our second day there I drove us to Crater Lake National Park. It was about an hour’s drive north of Klamath Falls. There was some fire damage, or maybe it was a controlled fire, because the trees were not burned at the tops.
Crater lake is really a beautiful site. This lake was formed by a collapsing volcano about 7,000 years ago! Because of all the smoke in the air, we did not look for any trails to hike. Instead, we drove along the rim of the lake and stopped at several locations to take photos.
We moved on the Grants Pass, Oregon to spend the weekend. We had made friends with a young couple (to us) when we spent time this past spring at Lake Havasu, Arizona. Lisa and Garren had an action packed weekend planned for us. Friday evening, after Lisa gave us haircuts and her beauty salon (much needed after 4 months), we went to the Schmidt Family Winery that was along the Applegate River. There are several wineries in this area, and vineyards along the highway. Saturday afternoon we met up with our hosts at the Rogue River for a jet boat excursion that takes us up the river to a restaurant for dinner. I decided the purpose of this was to ride a boat and get wet, stop at a restaurant to dry off, and then back in the boat to get wet again. It was actually quite fun. The boat makes sudden stops and spins around and the wake gets everyone wet. It was such a pretty boat ride. The restaurant serves a family style dinner of roasted chicken, spare ribs, and all the fixings.
Sunday morning we all took ride into northern California to see the Redwood trees. We were at the 500 acres within the Redwood Forest, called the National Tribute Grove, the largest memorial for World War 2 Veterans. We were in the northwest corner of California, where there were no wildfires. The park where we stopped and hiked around was amazing. The ground was covered with ferns and above them towering high into the sky are these huge redwood trees. I loved taking photos, and made sure in many of them I had people, so you could get a perspective of the enormity of these trees.
After we left there, Garren drove us to the Oregon coast. Oregon’s coast is rocky, not like the beaches in southern California. Then we drove a little farther to a Harris Beach State Park that was also on the Oregon coast. There we made friends with the sea gulls. We found a bag of Cheetos, and we became quite popular with the birds. I had not realized that sea gulls, when offered nibbles to eat, become brave, and will stay close to their source of snacks.
We made our way back to Grants Pass by going back down into California and up to Oregon. It was a fun packed weekend with new friends who were now like family.
The following day, we were packed up and headed out to California, not knowing if wildfires were going to change our destinations or make the air unbreathable. That’s for another story.