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.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Champoeg (Sham Poo Ee)Part Deux

IMG_20160702_142627385This place is BIG! I thought our last gig in Washington with its 104 sites on 80 acres was good sized but here we are on 640 acres. Wide open spaces, 85 RV sites, some tent sites, cabins, yurts, an 18 hole frisbee golf course, boat launch and several group sites. Not to mention several acres of grass land, forest and just plain lots of nature stuff. IMG_20160702_143009689

Our work schedule allows us to really explore the area and we plan on doing just that - as soon as life gives us a break. This past week on our days off for instance, we were back in Coburg at the service center to get our air conditioner fixed. Sort ofa good news, bad news thing. Bad news, it requires a replacement. Other bad news, its on order. Really good news, the unit is covered under warranty. Other good news, the service center is only an hour and a half away so once the new unit is in, it will be a short jaunt south to have it replaced. Our next stop is in southeast Idaho and their temperatures have been hovering near triple digits so having two operational A/C's is sort of critical for us. Oh well, we did get another chance at Coburg Pizza and Chief's Tavern for some excellent lunches.

As visitor center hosts our little corner of the world consists of about 4 acres containing a field with a variety of grains, a small 1860's kitchen garden with heirloom plants and of course the visitor center itself. In the photo you can see a portion of the center painted red, the whitewashed picket fence surrounding the garden and the weathered barn.
IMG_20160716_133814034_HDRAt over 150 years old, this is the oldest standing barn in the state of Oregon.

pump_corntobaccoBehind the barn is an interesting combination of crops. We have barley, oats and corn and a small patch of tobacco. Moonshine and cigars anyone?

Oh, to make it kid friendly there are a couple of pumpkins as well. 
IMG_20160716_133740525Normally we don't see that much foot traffic but this weekend the rangers put on Blacksmith Day and for four hours there was a good 100 people wandering about. Our volunteer coordinator happens to be the resident blacksmith so he and his wife, who is also a blacksmith, gave demonstrations and a bit of education over an authentic traveling forge.
While it might have been the “title” of the event it certainly wasn't all that was going on. IMG_20160716_142716644Inside we had the interpreters who provided oral history of the area and specifically the park. Outside we had wainrights to demonstrate how they used to put an iron tire on a wooden wheel, a lumberman and a shaker.
IMG_20160716_134311598Probably not intended but it fell in line with our perspective was one RV’er; the tinsmith who  in addtion to his work on tin cups and copper pots built this own caravan. A very popular exhibit so we couldn't get in to take pictures of the interior. Suffice it to say, it was built well and is beautiful outside and in.
Another historical spot is just outside of the park in the town of Butteville where the Butteville Store is believed to be the oldest still running store in Oregon at 153 years.

Its been a great couple of weeks and time has really flown by. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Champoeg (Sham Poo Ee)

I may have posted the last entry just a few minutes too soon!

While at the going away breakfast when the rally was breaking up, I was showing another attendee how to navigate the Oregon State Parks website, specifically the volunteer section. What popped out was a plea from a park ranger to help fill a vacancy that had just occured for the month of July. The name of the park, Champoeg, with a rich history intrigued us and since it was a visitor center hosting position we quickly made thephone call to apply. Hey, anytime you can get a volunteer gig that is educational AND includes air conditioning during the hot 4th of July holiday you've got a winner.

Arriving after a short and very pleasant drive over the pass on highway 26 we were met by our ranger coordinator, Dan, who could be a dead ringer for Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top (yes, I am dating myself). We pulled into our parking spot and just had to stop and admire what will be our front room view for the next month.


Here's the first history lesson and in the coming weeks we'll cover more as we explore the park and the various points of interest. In 1843 it was at Champoeg that a vote was held to determine if there should be a provisional government. The alternative was to stay with the Hudson Bay company and the initiative was highly contested. The push for a provisional government did win if only by a mere 2 votes (52-50). It took a treaty and another 5 years before the Oregon Territory was organized.

Chris and I have a lot of studying to do learning not just the operation of the visitor center but also the area so we can assist visitors. Our first workday isn't for another 4 days so we'll be walking the trails, taking the tours and probably taking lots of photos. Of course we are also in some prime wine country so we'll have to familiarize ourselves with the surrounding area as well.

Oh, and if that isn’t enough, nearby is the town of Donald and the maybe not so famous (yet) hazelnut festival happening July 9th.