It has always been our intention to bring the spawns to Oregon once we had gotten the lay of the land, and to show to them why we chose the Pacific Northwest as our new home. While not completely settled, and fresh off of a swing around California , it was crunch-time to prepare for a ten day loop around our new state and at the top of the priority list was a complete overhaul of the greywater disposal system in Traytray. Our rodent hitchhikers had made Swiss cheese of our tank and it needed extensive repairs (more on this later). With a mere 12 hours until our planned departure, the last screw found it’s way into the undercarriage of the Argosy.
The following morning we threaded our rig through the narrow gate posts, hopped on I-5 and set our sights on Portland. Kepler and Maddy were due in mid-afternoon the following day, and we wanted to have the campsite set up, groceries purchased, and make the arrival as smooth as possible. It was going to be a long day for them.
Cate chose a spot North of Carson, WA in the Panther Creek Recreation Area. We arrived as the last bit of light was fading from the sky. Morning came quickly, and we pitched the tent and gathered supplies…all the while brimming with excitement in anticipation of seeing the kids! At long last, our 10 months of waiting was about to be rewarded! Pulling into the Portland airport and watching my children emerge from the terminal was indescribable. We stopped in downtown for a bite, and then it was off to drop Maddy at an Aerial Arts class she had pre-arranged. In the meantime, Kepler and Cate went to world famous VooDoo Donuts while I changed the GMC’s brakes in a city park parking lot.
With plenty of time left in the day, we set out for the Columbia River Gorge. Unfortunately a lot of the trails in the Gorge were closed due to the Eagle Creek Fire from the previous fall. We were able to drop by Multnomah Falls and Latourell Falls however, and as tired as they were, the spawn seemed to be enjoying the change of scenery. We made our way back across Bridge of the Gods, into Washington, and drove through the deep woods to our campsite. Exhausted, we caught up a bit before retiring, excited for what the next ten days would bring!
Plans we had made for the next day were redrawn in light of the multitude of fire-related closures in the gorge. We opted to change course for the high desert, more specifically to one of Oregon’s Seven Wonders, the Painted HIlls! Westward we drove, through Hood River, the Dalles, until leaving the gorge and driving through Cottonwood Canyon.
Finally we arrived in Mitchell, a small town, with a cool brewpub just outside the painted hills. Connectivity can be hard to come by in those parts, we afforded ourselves coffee, beer, and wifi before claiming our campsite on the banks of the Smith River at Priest Hole. While sitting there, a years-long bar patron of mine from Asheville, walked up and sat down with us! Of all remote and out of the way places….there was Patrick! The sunset that was in store for us while setting up camp was a fitting welcome to the spawns! We made dinner, and then watched the satellites and shooting stars in the dark skies.
Waking to the sound of the river gurgling by, we made breakfast and headed out for a day of exploring the Painted hills. To our surprise, none of the hiking trails were very long, and while we were hoping for longer ones, the fact that they were short meant we could do them all. The weather was picture perfect and we made a day of it!
Another dinner was cooked, another night around the fire.
Sunday morning we packed it in, and drove over the Ochoco Mountains, and down into the Deschutes valley. Five snow capped volcanoes, The Sisters, Mt Adams, and Mount Bachelor rose up across the valley floor. We drove to Terrabonne and found a campsite high up on a cliff overlooking the Deschutes River. It appeared to be a prime party spot for the locals but had a phenomenal view.We rook a quick break to unhitch, make our Mother’s Day phone calls, and eat lunch before we set out to an awesome waterfall on the Deschutes, where we watched a very young boy boof his kayak repeatedly over the 20 foot falls under the watchful gaze of his father. Before we knew what hit us a family of 8 appeared and crowded us out of our tiny wading pool. Unsure of exactly how that happened, we wandered back up the trail and moved on to Smith Rock State Park!
Smith rock is the birthplace of modern rock climbing and even has its own unique type of rock called Smith Rock Tuff. This climbers paradise looks like a cross between Garden of the Gods, and Zion! Huge colorful rock walls and spires, peppered with chalk handprints, rising dramatically up over the river. We hike along the riverbank, watching the delicate moves of climbers high overhead and taking in the sights and smells of our surroundings.
As the sun dipped lower in the sky the snakes started to come out, and that did not sit well with Cate, in total I think she saw 8 gopher snakes, including a snake orgy…. four gopher snakes in a ball along the path! We returned to the camper and dined on lobster, campfire chicken and fish, before turning in.
Monday’s drive to bend was short. A wonderful blog follower named Paul arranged a place to park the camper right in town. Thanks Paul! The neighborhood was cute, and we pulled into a wooded lot next to a garden, strung up the hammock, and made our plan for the day in Bend. Maddy had been wanting to see Bend, and to get a little space (traveling with 4 adults, on the move, is always a bit cramped). Meanwhile Kepler and I went to explore the Lava Tube at the Newberry National Volcanic Monument! After our spelunking, we joined Cate for a trip up the cinder cone and a stroll through the alien looking lava fields. Pooped and hungry, we ate overpriced yet tasty pizza, before making our way “home” to hit the sack. Crater lake was on the agenda for Tuesday and the forecast was calling for PM thunderstorms, it was going to be an early morning if we wanted to catch Crater Lake in all it’s glory! …to be continued!