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 The noise of bird song we had at Goose Lake has been replaced by the occasional thump of a paddle hitting the side of a kayak and the transitory boat motor running up the river.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. 

5 comments:

  1. August is our family reunion and vacation month. We have no idea where we'll end up.

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  2. Replies
    1. That it is. We were very fortunate to be able to stay there.

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  3. We have enjoyed our volunteering jobs, too and regularly put in way more time than required. Some jobs we would have paid to be allowed to do! ;c)

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