About Us

Chris and Dennis are traveling around the country seeing the sights and occasionally volunteering at select locations. We avoid the interstate as much as we can and tend to stop for squirrels and shiny objects.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Deschutes River Recreation Area - Heritage Landing

June was a pleasant respite from the noise and hustle bustle of a more urban setting like Wenatchee Washington but I'll tell ya, we worked our fannies off! We logged slightly over 100 hours each of mowing grass, clearing trails and cleaning campsites. Well over the expected 20 hours each and you know what? LOVED IT!

Several of the places we host at restrict us to a golf cart, litter pickers, and buckets. Not so for Goose Lake. There we got to play with some of the big toys and we both found ourselves, once we had started a project, swept up in getting it finished so we could move on to another, and another, and another. Which brings us to why we only had these two entries here. Simply put, we were too busy and to be honest, having too much fun to sit in the coach to write a blog. 

The ramp is in the background, down the hill.
That brings us to Deschutes River and our assignment at Heritage Landing. We return to more hustle and bustle (there were 8 vehicles in the parking lot after all!). The rumble of I-84 traffic is a faint drone in the background and is easily overcome by children's laughter emanating from the campground across the river. The noise of bird song we had at Goose Lake has been replaced by the occasional thump of a paddle hitting the side of a kayak and the transitory boat motor running up the river. I would be remiss in not mentioning the bi-hourly trains going by on at least one of the three tracks bracketing us. Depending on the wind direction they can sound far off or, unfortunately, in the motorhome with you which can be just a tad disconcerting when they sound the horn. Oh, and the wind - the infamous Columbia gorge wind.

Shearers Falls
The Deschutes river is the most highly regulated river in Oregon with restrictions on everything from fishing equipment and areas, power boat operations, raft drifting and even the size of groups going together. Drift tubes, floats and even swimming has their own places and times. When you add it all up and toss in rafts, drift boats and power boats launching or landing it has the potential to be a really busy place. Luckily for us, the fish run had not really taken off so things have been at most, moderate. 

Our job? To be a presence on the launch ramp to encourage compliance and answer questions on all the various regulations on the river. What this boils down to is reminding the various types of the different launch fees, remind folks that life jackets are a good idea, and in the cases of 12 and younger, no water craft fun unless a PFD (personal flotation device) is on and fastened correctly. During our downtime we cruise the beach looking for litter and assist in building sand castles.

As with any river with rapids, we had our share of spills. One set, called Washout, lived up to its name in July claiming two rafts whose owner were foolish enough to not follow the recommended line. Washout is a backspill set so the rafts, after dumping the not so smart cargo, tend to stay in the backflow current. It usually takes the wake of a passing jet boat or a grappling hook to bounce or drag them out. In either case, afterwards it's a "some assembly required" sort of situation. No serious injuries and the only other damaged property was a damp cell phone in a leaky dry bag.

Sadly we also suffered a death when a father attempted to save his son who had slipped in some fast water. The 37 year old man slipped and disappeared in another set of rapids. The boy made it ashore safely. The father was found 4 days later over a mile and a quarter down stream from where the Deschutes meets the Columbia, 3 miles from the scene of the tragedy. 

To return to a lighter note a boat launch can be as entertaining as a dump station but without the smell. Well almost. Because the Deschutes runs through areas where there are no rest rooms, rafters bring their sani cans then use the ramp's sani dump machine for disposal. Think of it as a dump station with the need of a LOT of hands-on thus increasing the potential for mayhem (read that entertainment for the host). Another form of entertainment was the almost daily "chase the raft" or "snag the boat". While we were down on the ramp this little gem would rarely happen. It was only when we were up the hill at our hosting spot looking down that we were able to observe the entire evolution. It usually happened like this: The folks would have pulled in to offload their equipment then run up to grab their trailer. Once the trailer was backed down the ramp they would drag or tow their boat to the trailer. Invariably, once they had reached the trailer they would turn their back to get set up and sure enough the current would give a free trip down stream without them. It was off to the races to try to run in knee high water to catch up or to abandon all hope of staying dry and dive in to swim to the boat.

Our month went by far too fast and while I can't quite pin down where all the time went, a goodly portion of it was simply sitting and observing. The antics of the guests, the soaring of the pelicans, the industriousness of the beaver (wow, didn't know they got that big!) Heritage Landing was a noisy, bustling, yet relaxing place to volunteer. 

Monday, June 17, 2019

Goose Lake State Recreation Area

Just one year ago we were enjoying this wonderful little park (more like slice of heaven), totally oblivious that we would suffer the biggest scare we could imagine - a head on collision. Since then we've counted our blessings and given thanks every single day for being able to walk away from that accident with only minor injuries. Those injuries are now healed, the car has been replaced and but for a few twinges and some small scars we would not know it happened.

This blog entry could have been a same ole thing type entry except for some telling differences. We're in a different host site, just a short distance from the one last year and with it came a bigger parking area, more shade and a bigger "yard" to relax in. Goose Lake, like a lot of the interior this year has experienced a very wet and green spring.

Courtesy ODFW

The lake, which for several years had become a dust bowl has water. While not full to the brim, it has quite a bit of water in it - so much so the fish and game folks are looking at a return of the Redband trout and their spawning up the little creek that borders the park. Funny thing is, the fish are waiting for the water level in the creek to fall a bit more and the flow to slow some before they'll go up stream.

Last year I posted about the small town atmosphere here and thought I would share some more. Back in March when we were headed back north for Lincoln Rock the only route with dry or at least only damp roads was the 395 so we decided to take the route knowing we would be going past Goose Lake and Lakeview on the way. Leaving Reno we were struck by some pretty severe high winds which were followed by rain, sleet and generally really lousy weather. By the time we made it to Lakeview our tempers were short, our bodies beat up and our knuckles seemingly permanently white from hanging on. We mutually agreed we were done traveling for the day so made some phone calls around to see where we could stay in what is usually the off season that early in the year. We got through to the fairgrounds and the girl who answered actually remembered us from the year before when she had met us in the park. Site for the night - SCORE!

Mural on the backside of the bowling alley.

Asking about a place to eat (most places were closed), the girl from the fairgrounds recommended oddly enough the bowling alley promising we wouldn't be disappointed. The bowling alley is separate from the little six table cafe avoiding the hustle and bustle of league night and set off in a corner. Our waitress? A person we had met at Safeway last year and chatted up in the produce section. So, despite the appearance of being an after thought and expecting a meal liken to a vending machine, we sat down prepared to leave hungry and contrary to the promise, disappointed. Oh how wrong we were. First a fresh, homemade broccoli and cheddar soup; just the ticket for some cold and weary travelers. Chris went for the club sandwich which featured not a single deli slice in it. The turkey and the ham were hand carved and the portion generous enough to require a carryout box. I had what they simply called the brisket sandwich. What was not mentioned was this cross between a Philly Cheese Steak and a French Dip that was loaded. Yep, dinner as promised and so much more!

I mention these two encounters because we were only at Goose Lake for two months last year and yet despite us usually keeping to ourselves folks had remembered us and asked after us as if they had known us for years. Can you tell? I love small towns.

If it wasn't for the excitement of going to some place we've not been and the impending swarms of mosquitoes that return to Goose Lake with the summer heat, we would really dislike leaving this idyllic setting at the end of the month. Oh well, Deschutes River State Recreation Area awaits. Oh. Did I mention? It's near another small town.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

On the Road Again - Returning to Goose Lake

I wonder just how many now have that little tune running in the back of their head - probably with a Willie Nelson twang as well. You're welcome.

Sorry about that.  Not really. If I was anti-social I would have come up with the theme song of Barney the Dinosaur. Or I could have dredged up the Disney classic involving a small world. Perhaps I shouldn't mention where we are headed. I'm pretty sure there could be a few who would like to snag a bit of revenge right about now.

Anyway. We're on the road this week returning to Goose Lake State Park for a month of what will be, in comparison to our stay at Lincoln Rock, a quiet reprieve. We have survived several storms, a spring break, an Apple Blossom Festival, Cinco de Mayo, and Memorial Day. We've gone from full capacity to a ghost town comprising of maybe 6 rigs in the park total and that's including the three cabin host couples and us.

An added bonus was for the third year in a row the park was the gathering spot for T@B travel trailer owners. While mostly confined to Washington state and labeled the East Meets West gathering we actually had participants from British Columbia, Alberta and one from as far as North Carolina. Taking up one full loop and spilling out into two others, over 45 owners shared tips, tricks, and customizations. An impressive showing for a not-so-good weather weekend.

We've now reached the end of our stay here for this year. Our doctor appointments are done. There are no missing check marks on our checklist for repairs and tweeks to the motorhome and we are once again stocked with the essentials for hosting in a more remote location. Last year we experienced the high of discovery at the new place and we survived the low of crashing our car. This year we're making a solid pledge for only highs and if we have to avoid a pizza run, so be it.

Oh, its good to be on the road again...