September 17, 2019

Rivers, Rivers and More Rivers

"My favorite places on earth are the wild waterways where the forest opens its arms
and a silver curve of river folds the traveler into its embrace."
Rory Maclean
I believe each one of us has to earn the right of passage, a passion to embrace...a stamp of of existence. If we don't earn that, we don't deserve the path...we forever live in the present or worse yet, we only live in the past. A river flows relentlessly and purposelessly, but it follows a path and when it tires of one journey it forges through the trials of life toward a new way. I love them all. Rivers move, no matter the atmosphere. If it's raining, lightning or moves. a life without a purpose.
The Klamath River, a federally protected "Wild and Scenic River," is one of three rivers flowing from the Cascade Mountains and reaching the Pacific Ocean. The river, home to our Native Americans for thousands of years, still rely on and care for the river today. The town of Klamath, on the California North Coast, is situated at the mouth of the river and is within the Yurok Indian Reservation. 
Klamath River salmon and steelhead runs were once the third-largest in the nation, but have fallen to just eight percent of their historic numbers as dams block over 300 miles of historic salmon habitat. Our fisherman neighbors shared that their success rate has been hit and miss, due to river's warm water temperatures. Although the Chinook salmon are staying off shore in the cooler water, they did score an occasional fish for the grill.
As our site at, Golden Bear RV Park, was right on the bank of the Klamath, we owned a perfect perch for wildlife viewing. We were told that the Klamath Basin is also home to mule deer, elk, cougar, black bears and river otters. We saw elk grazing on the side of the road, a family of river otters playing on the opposite bank and Osprey. And the neighbors spotted a black bear swimming across the river in front of the park the day before we arrived. 
The Rogue River, another river beginning in the Cascades and flowing to the Pacific at Gold Beach. This river became our next host for a few days. Just a few miles up the road from Gold Beach was Quosatana Campground, a very nice National Forest campground with large enough sites to accommodate our beast. It is situated in an Oregon myrtle grove with broad grass meadows on a rocky bank above the river.
Imkelina, Sydney and Kiah spent many hours on the banks of the river, swimming, wading and relaxing in the sun. We had a front row seat to observe the dozens of jet boats flying by with a full load of wannabe white water thrill seekers. Seeing all those jet boats full of passengers, the many kayakers and tubers floating down the rapids reminded us that we all can be on a similar journey, although everybody is in a different place at any given time, and that is to experience whatever and all we can in a natural setting. No pubs here, no recliner and channel changer in hand and no urban settings.
Although we saw a few Osprey soaring up and down the river, we had one particular show that was on our highlight reel. One morning Imkelina spotted about a half dozen turkey vultures on the opposite bank, apparently trying to feed on a large dead salmon. Then, quite suddenly, they all took flight. Just then a massive bald eagle dropped down from the forest canopy and became the new sheriff in town. He now owned the meal.
The North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River was designated as a wild and scenic river in 1988. Water quality is one of the most outstanding attributes of the North Fork as its source, Waldo Lake, is considered one of the purest in the world. Located here at the confluence of the North Fork and Middle Fork is Casey's Riverside RV Park, one of our favorite destinations over the years. Driving into the park after such a long hiatus brought a big smile to both of us for the setting was just as beautiful as years past and the park was perfectly groomed.
confluence of the North Fork and Middle Fork of the Willamette River

The serenity of this river provided us such peaceful moments, soothed our mental aches and brought a world of joy, so it came easy to view it as a metaphor of life. Akin to this river, our thoughts and dreams are always in motion, never sure where true consciousness of our life began, let alone where it will finally end. And while we can sometimes see farther up stream or downstream, I find it difficult to see the vast scheme of our path. 
If we were our dogs, we wouldn't dwell on such silly thoughts...just frolic and get wet.
This week was special as we shared this beautiful waypoint with old and new friends. Seven years ago at this same campground we met Jeff and Janice and have stayed in touch over the years. No sooner had we arrived, we get a text from Janice saying they were camped at Caseys in case we had plans to visit...what a mind blowing coincidence.  During this brief reunion we noted that we both had gotten new travel mobiles and added a four-legged companion to our pack. We made time to have dinner at our favorite local Chinese restaurant and polish off few glasses of wine as we caught up on the years past lowlights and highlights.
Janice, Tacoma and Jeff
Stephen, Kayla and Orlena
We also had our dear friends Stephen and Orlena share a vacation with us. As Orlena was recovering from a recent knee surgery, her mobility was reduced and cane assisted. But the river provided many nourishing moments for her to detach from the physical pain and frustration of walking in SloMo. We did get a chance to share many meals, a few walks, had competitive game nights and each evening we listened to Stephen "fondle" his acoustic guitar. 
Joyce, Dennis and Tilley
And by a synchronicity moment, we connected with Dennis and Joyce. It was weird...for Imkelina had more in common with Joyce than a pair of twins. Dennis and I just look alike...but he plays guitar far better than me.
With two guitarists within our circle, we had a couple of jam nights hosted by Dennis and Stephen. Fun evenings for sure! Dennis also participated in an open mike night at Oregon's only real Ale House and Brewery, Brewers Union Local 180. He was definitely the highlight of the night.
If the Willamette National Forest draws you to visit the area, check out the Diamond Creek Falls Loop Trail to experience some beautiful falls, including the Salt Creek Falls, the second highest fall in Oregon.
In 2015, our dear friends, Dick and Melinda, took us on a wonderful road trip of special waypoints near their then home base in Redmond.  One of those places, the McKenzie River, sparked our desire to return and spend multiple days exploring. Well...we came back! We were pleasantly surprised to find McKenzie Bridge, a small US Forest Service campground on the bank of the river, with a couple of sites large enough for our motorhome. Granted we needed a shoehorn get positioned just right.
This campground was special and a waypoint to which we will definitely return. Each morning mists rose above the water with the laziness of summer. Watching the river's ripples and rolls through the hazy light was meditating, while the rocky bank hypnotized us with its rainbow of colorful stones. Our sanctuary on this tiny beach was a very healing spot to give thanks, be in the moment and rest our body and soul. 
Three thousand years ago, a volcanic eruption in Central Oregon pushed a giant flow of lava southwest toward the McKenzie River. The lava scorched the forest and redirected the flow of the river, creating this beautiful gem...Clear Lake. It is considered one of the clearest and coldest lakes in the Cascades. Ospreys filled the skies above the lake. We never seen so many in one place. The 4.6 mile Clear Lake Loop Trail winds through the lava beds and old growth forest and is pet friendly. As we were alone on the trail, Sydney and Kiah celebrated off leash. 
The changing colors in the forest gave notice that fall was tugging away at summer...the year's last and loveliest smile signaled us, it was time to move on.

At Waypoint 44.175º N, 122.175º W

August 27, 2019

Winterhavens in Arizona

"The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions;
could have, might have and should have."
Louis e. Boone

Arizona's Superstition Mountains 
Arizona...where summer spends the winter and hell spends the summer, where water is king and any shade tree is queen and where legions of snowbirds choose to do their sun dance. 
Deciding to make a winter trip to Arizona became a total go when we learned that our goddaughter Ellie would be participating in a team volleyball tournament at the Arizona Cardinal's home turf, State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. We also knew it may be months before we could travel again as we had accepted a spring hosting position at Hearst San Simeon State Park. So as the saying goes, "one who lives sees much, one who travels sees more."

After dry camping in the parking lot of one of our favorite eateries, Peggy Sue's Diner in Yermo, we pointed our noses toward Parker Arizona and Buckskin Mountain State Park. Buckskin is located right on the banks of the Colorado River. As we planned on staying only one night, we chose the lightly used overflow parking area. No hook ups were necessary as our solar panels were going bonkers with all the direct sunshine and we were right next to our own "private" bathroom and showers (no one else used them). The beach below us had a sparse lawn, but it was a great lounging pad for Sydney and Kiah.
Imkelina can be relentless at seeking out boon docking locations (thank you Denise Big Dog), so it was not a surprise that she scooped up Vulture Mine Road, in Wickenburg, AZ. As it was late afternoon, a number of rigs had already marked off their desert hideaway, leaving available a few less desirable pads. So rather than settle, we just moseyed down the road a block or so and found a perfect and very private campsite. A welcome home fire pit was already built and ready to be fueled. The desert has its holiness of silence, with landscape views being its voice... and our little piece of sand proved to be the perfect chapel. 

Cactus Wrens surrounded our campsite
We had read so many wonderful reviews of the camping experiences at Arizona's Maricopa County Parks that Imkelina set her sights on one of these parks to stimulate her always curious mind. She chose White Tank Mountain Regional Park as it was the closest to Ellie's volleyball tournament venue. Nearly 30,000 acres make this the largest regional park in Maricopa County. Most of the park is made up of the rugged and beautiful White Tank Mountains, a range deeply serrated with ridges and canyons. The park offers approximately 25 miles of groomed trails with difficulty ratings geared toward every hiker's experience level. We found a great site with a wonderful view of the mountains, had a grassy knoll that Sydney and Kiah loved...lizards were under every rock and we even had a coyote or two prance by. The desert was beautiful, as the flora was painted with an array on cactus flowers. And the  trailheads of different hikes were scattered throughout the park, a few right from our campground loop. 
WeBeGone found a stadium parking spot in an isolated lot walking distance to the entrance...close for "beer" breaks. Sydney and Kiah volunteered to "guard" our rig, but their comfy front seat beds guaranteed a nap was more alluring than guarding.
Stadium Floor
Our Ellie in the center
We entered the stadium, walking down a number of floors to ground level and then entered a world of chaos, high pitch screams, loud cheers and it seemed like hundreds of airborne volleyballs. We had never been to a club volleyball tournament and we were shocked to see how grand of a production this was. First the stadium is huge, you have over 32 courts, a dozen athletes per team, coaches, vendors, family, friends and walk in spectators all integrated into a playing field...a human ant farm. What a blast to be part of a combination of madness, excitement and fun. Ellie's team did not come out on top, but she and her team played hard and we had a great time with family, Daryl, Kate and Charlotte. But after two days in the asphalt jungle pulsating with traffic and crowds, it was time to bid farewell to our loved ones and head out toward Lost Dutchman State Park.
The WeBeGone's morning view of the west face of Superstition Mountains

Propector's View Trail
Many years ago, when life was black and white, I realized that in order to accept the spectacular scenes that my eyes beheld, I had to “unleash” my mind…I had to surrender. Only then could I embrace and appreciate the gift and beauty of nature. Well, Lost Dutchman State Park is a place where one can exercise that ability to be here now. This park was high on our list of “need to see Arizona State Parks.” Have you ever seen the photos used to illustrate the Superstition Mountains? Well we were parked right in that viewfinder's lane... awakening each morning to the views of that majestic rock face, in a position to see it, touch it and walk it's trails in real time. 
Gambel's Quail
Along with the miles and miles of trails that traverse through this Sonoran Desert landscape, you also have a diverse number of wild characters surrounding you...using your campsite as their own personal trailhead.
rising moon
"Snow" Moon
setting moon
And although we did not locate the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine, we did find a bigger treasure, the Snow Super Moon. It bathed us with some beautiful moon beams each evening.
Our Arizona ventures would not be complete without finding a way to gather with a few of our favorite Oregonians ... snow birding or living in sunny, warm Arizona. Ha, no shorts and flip flops in the desert this time...snow, rain, blustery winds, cool temperatures. But we stayed warm and dry with a few Margaritas and growlers. We celebrated Mel and Carol's birthdays, spent a day taking in the outstanding Musical Instrument Museum and caught up on each other's ever changing lives. By the time we pointed West back to California, the warm, sunny days had returned.
Route 66
We found the perfect boon docking spot right off Old Highway Route 66...Amboy Crater. This 250 foot high volcanic cinder cone nestled within the Mojave Desert is said to be approximately 6,000 years old. A desolate and surreal landscape, but alive...Imke's trail walk to the cinder cone rewarded her with many surprising plots of wildflowers growing within the lava fields. 

Unbeknownst to us at the time, this would turn out to be the final adventure in our "little" WeBeGone. During our stint of camp hosting at San Simeon State Park, we made an easy decision...let's full-time again. So in order to uphold our wedding vows it meant we needed a tad larger coach to she is below...nice ass, huh. More to come from the "big" WeBeGon.

At Waypoint 33.4475º N, 111.1937º W