A quote attributed to Frank Zappa comes to mind when I think back to that trip down Hart Mountain. There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.
One would think that after the dusty trip over the back roads of South Dakota in 2020 we would have learned some sort of a lesson. Apparently not. Once again we drove a good number of miles on a dusty dirt road with one of the overhead vents in Shiny opened just a crack.
When we arrived at Harney County Fairgrounds and opened the door to Shiny we both nearly went to tears. A layer of dust in and on everything. There was a layer of dust on the pyrex dishes stored in the oven, the dishes in the overhead cabinet, all our clean linen had a brownish hue, and all the closed storage units in Shiny (and Blue) were covered in dust. What a mess.
One of the grounds crew must have noticed we were in distress because he came over to ask us if we needed anything. Uncontrollably, our misery poured forth upon him. He left and came back with a shop vac. I couldn’t believe it. “That is so kind of you” I said. “This is how we do things in Burns” he replied.
It took us two days to get back in streamin’ condition including much needed baths for Shiny and Blue. Harney County Fairgrounds turned out to be a godsend. And what’s more, we were the only campers there!
Now listen up! Did you know that Burns, Oregon is the home of the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival? I ask because I sure didn’t. It’s held every April here in Burns. As it turns out hundreds of species of birds fly through Burns along what is called the Pacific Flyway. Why, I didn’t know about the Pacific Flyway either.
When we first rolled into Burns we passed about a dozen people with binoculars and big whoop cameras on tripods looking out over these huge patches of water. I assumed these strips of water were fields of rice. After all who hasn’t heard of Oregon Wild Rice!
But now I’m not so sure. 🤢
It turns out that rice is grown in the Willamette (pronounced Wuh-LAM-muht) Valley further west not here in the Harney Basin. The things we learn.
UPDATE: Terria Nightingale says “It is Willamette Dammit, and it should rhyme“
Anyway, lots of birds here at the fairgrounds but we were just too busy to take pictures.
After Shiny and Blue passed inspection we drove on to LaPine State Park just south of Bend, Oregon. We got lucky and were able to make reservations at the last minute for LaPine. Reservations for all the other State Parks we stayed at in the North West were made last April. They were hard to come by then. And sites for weekends were gone way before April.
The Oregon State Park system charges non residents a 25% fee on top of the camping fee. Washington just charges a straight $5 per reservation. Idaho was by far the worse. When I looked into a State Park in Idaho I was going to have to pay over $70 per day. What?!!
I get side tracked so easy. Where was I, oh ya, LaPine. Susan is not one to resist visiting an old tree. There happened to be a biggin’ here at LaPine.
Ok, Susan never actually crawled under that fence but I just couldn’t resist putting these two pictures together.
You could build a couple of houses with this old bugger!
It was a pleasant hike to the 500 year old Big Tree. Here are a few more pictures Susan took along the trail out. She was entranced by the electric yellow color of the lichen.
Another nice thing that happened here at LaPine State Park was music. I heard someone playing a mandolin and guitar next to us. I brought my fiddle over and we played some tunes together. He picked up the cords to my fiddle tunes very quickly and I, well, I just tried to play notes that didn’t sound bad while backing him up on his folk tunes. We had fun and played into the night around a small fire. Believe it or not we even attracted a small audience!
Someone told us that we should check out Lava Butte so off we went! Usually the place is so busy that you have to take a shuttle up to the top. Somehow we lucked out and we were given a pass to drive up the butte by ourselves.
Lava Butte is considered a Cinder Cone. It looked like the typical volcano to me so I looked up what the difference is. This is a quote from a google search.
“Cinder cones are the simplest type of volcano. They are built from particles and blobs of congealed lava ejected from a single vent. As the gas-charged lava is blown violently into the air, it breaks into small fragments that solidify and fall as cinders around the vent to form a circular or oval cone.”
And I thought a volcano was a volcano. Here is a short slideshow of pictures that Susan took from the top of Lava Butte
There was a very knowledgeable volunteer ranger giving a talk and tour down at the visitors center so we joined in. This feller was recovering from a recent bicycle accident. Everyone of us had trouble keeping up with him on the path up the side of the butte. A remarkable man who loved his job.
While Susan and I were sitting outside Shiny one evening, enjoying life, some campers came in with an extremely loud diesel truck and a long trailer. I swear it took him well over an hour of backing up and pulling forward to wedge his big 5th wheel into the small tree filled site that he had. I went over and looked at it the next day and it’s a wonder he got that in there. He had several slide outs that were all lined up in-between trees. I’m not sure how he ever got that out of there.
Which brings to mind something I should mention. The closest Sue and I have come to getting a divorce is backing up into a campsite. After nearly 5 years of full time RV travel, Susan will now call me with her phone (her voice comes in over the truck speaker) and guide Shiny in. That is the best way but there is not always cell service. These situations really amplify some of our short comings as communicators. Can the listener hear you or see you? If you can’t hear the other person do you continue as if you can? Do you verify the plan or do you think that because you are thinking it, the other person must just know it? Do you take it personally and emotionally when communication breaks down? I think it’s safe to say that Sue and I can answer ‘yes’ to most of those questions. Pretty humbling affair overall, I’d say.
Our next destination is a place I’ve wanted to see for a long time, Crater Lake National Park. Crater Lake is considered a dormant volcano but it is being monitored. It’s among a string of volcanoes here in the PNW.
It snowed the day before so most of the park was closed including the Rim Road which goes around the rim of the volcano. We could drive up to the Rim Village though. It was crowded even with our early start but we managed to find a parking spot and were able to approach the rim of the crater. The snow was still pretty deep and you could not stray too far but it was a beautiful sight to behold.
Crater Lake is nearly 2000 feet deep. I can only image what type of creatures lurk in those depths!
Thanks to our friend and fellow Airstreamer Bennet Green’s recommendation, we settled into a nice little campground about 35 miles from the park called Crater Lake RV Park in Prospect, Oregon. There were a number of trails we could access from the campground and a few hikes just a short drive away. Please enjoy this slide show of the Prospect, Oregon area that Susan captured with her trusty Nikon.
The Living Stump is another one of Mother Nature’s little wonders that I was unaware of.
I can’t think of anything else to write about except perhaps to inform our “millions” of followers that our next stop was pretty spectacular. The redwoods in northern California.