North to Oregon (Finally!)

Last travelogue left off with me arriving back in Fresno, CA by plane after a two week family road trip by car. After picking truck and trailer back up, I spent a night in a Walmart parking lot nearby, then set my sights north to Oregon.

It might seem strange to head back up to Oregon and Washington with the Casita having just gotten back from there with my family. I’d looked into traveling alongside my family with truck and trailer, but that would have been more work than I wanted on vacation. I also looked into taking Bertha and Cas up to Portland before the trip and storing them there, then flying to Fresno to meet my family and ending the trip back at my rig, but that would have meant missing the Grand Canyon.

So in the end, I made the trip north through California twice in one season. By default, my brain first thought of this as a waste of time, likely due to societal programming that places so much value on speed and efficiency. But, when your life is one long trip, speed and efficiency become much less important. It’s only a waste of time if you let it be a waste of time. Instead, I took a different route, saw different things, made a more leisurely trip of it, and all together had a nice few weeks.

June 9 – 16

From Fresno, I first took 99 up to the bay area and stayed at Delta Bay park in Isleton, CA, which is owned by a friend of mine. It’s a pretty place located right on the Delta Loop with all the amenities of a modern RV park, if you need a place to stay in that area I highly recommend it.

I mostly spent this week catching up on work and sleep after the two-week vacation, but I enjoyed the big shade trees, friendly atmosphere, and walks along the levee while here.

I left Delta Bay on the 16th and did two big driving days to make it to Oregon. On the night of the 16th I stayed overnight at a surprisingly scenic Walmart just outside of Yreka, CA where I enjoyed this view. Not the typical Walmart view for sure!

June 17 and 18

Oregon! I’ve been talking on the blog for years about my dreams of visiting the Pacific Northwest with my RV, it’s just so far out of the way from most places in the US that it’s taken longer than I originally anticipated to get out here. Boy, was it worth the wait though. On the morning of the 17th I continued up I5 to Medford, OR, where I left the interstate behind (phew) and took 62 and then 230 north into Umpqua National Forest, then 138 west towards Clearwater.

When I think Oregon I think evergreen forests, and there’s certainly plenty of that up here. What I wasn’t expecting was how different the forest can be. As I drive along 62 the national forest quickly becomes plentiful with thick and towering fir and pine trees, this is what I was expecting.

But up near Mt Bailey and Mt Thielson on 138, the trees remind me more of the scraggly lodgepole pine in Yellowstone, although I imagine these aren’t lodgepole exactly. The peaks still have some snow and the temperature is cooler up here, and snow accumulates in the winter.

My destination is Clearwater No 2 Viewpoint, a little camping area of five sites made possible by Pacific Power and Light Company, who own this little hydroelectric operation. When I arrive two of the spots are taken, but one of the three that is available is my top choice, open on one side to afternoon sun so that I’ll be able to charge my Casita’s battery. One of the big challenges I’ll be dealing with up here in the Pacific Northwest is solar charging, but I’m going to see if it’s possible to camp up here without a generator.

The little reservoir the campsites are situated along apparently has good fishing, a couple families are fishing when I arrive and on other days during my stay I see people out here on occasion, but overall it’s remote and quiet. The campground is on the side of a hill up a gravel road, and some interesting topography means I get full bars of Verizon LTE up here, even when most of 138 has no signal at all. There are a lot of power lines around, but they’re all on the other side of the water and not directly over the camp sites which is good, because the lines hum and are quite noisy.

Yep, that’s Cas and Bertha across the way

This spot quickly becomes a favorite of mine. Almost every evening I take a walk around the pond and enjoy the plentiful birdcalls. It’s also the season of wildflowers, and several kinds are blooming near the water.

At the end of the reservoir, you get a great view and it becomes obvious this place is located on the side of a hill.

On other days I explore further down the forest roads near the campground. The mosquitoes aren’t so bad at camp, with the wind blowing over the water keeping them away. But in the forest they’re thick which encourages fast walking. One route I do enjoy and take multiple times is the one along the canal that feeds into the reservoir, there are a couple spots along it where the trees thin and you can see out over the forest.

The two occupied spots on the other end of the pond, with the outhouse for day visitors beyond it

June 18 โ€“ 20

Have you gotten tired of me talking about clouds and how much I love gazing up at the sky? I hope not, because these three days were full of sky gazing. Sitting outside and watching the clouds is one of those things I never had time for in my old life, and something I’ve really immensely enjoyed since hitting the road.

But it’s funny, the time for seemingly trivial pursuits such as this still doesn’t happen automatically when one becomes a nomad. We all still have only 24 hours in a day whether we’re living in an RV or not, and if you’re not careful, that time can still become consumed with busywork just as it did when you lived in a house.

The best solution I’ve found is to learn to prioritize differently. Lean to see your seemingly meaningless hobby such as sky gazing through a different lens.

I’ve come to value the time I spend sitting outside in my comfy chair watching the clouds, because it gives me the opportunity to clear my head from the hustle and bustle of every day life and reflect upon where I am and where I’m going. When viewed in this light, taking time out of my sometimes busy schedule for intentional stillness and contemplation stops being trivial, it’s actually quite important.

June 23

Fun fact, the third-tallest waterfall in Oregon is located less than ten minutes from this boondock, today I go check it out. The hike to Watson Falls is short but moderately difficult with some elevation gain and uneven footing. The trail follows the stream up, so you get small rapids views and lovely water sounds the whole way up.

What I enjoy most about this falls is the flat rock face, and just how green everything is at the bottom. Definitely worth a stop if you’re in the area. Because the falls faces north, it’s pretty much always going to be shadowed and backlit by the sun, which can make for difficult photograph conditions, but I feel I did pretty good. I sit up at the top until there’s a lull between groups of people, then get my photos.

June 27 โ€“ July 4

On the 27th I left Umpqua NF, and headed into Corvallis to meet up with RV friend and fellow Xscaper Joni, who was housesitting at her friend’s place. I moochdocked in her friends’ driveway until the 2nd, splitting work time on the computer with short day trips to see downtown and visit the incredible weekend market in Eugene. It was a much different experience from spending a week alone in the middle of the forest, but still very enjoyable in a different way.

On July 2nd, her friends got back and Joni and I decided to hit the road together, but first, to find a quiet place to spend the 4th of July. We ended up on the undeveloped property of another friend of hers out in the country. The โ€œroadโ€ out there is, uh, interesting, but Bertha and Cas made it and I was rewarded for my efforts with a private boondocking spot among tall grasses next to a beautiful oak forest on a creek. On the night of the 4th, Joni and I, along with the property owner and three other people, have a campfire in the woods complete with deep conversation. A perfect way to spend a holiday!

The companion travelogue video to this post can be found here.

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Becky

Forget about what the world tells you your life should be like. At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and go full-time RVing before retirement. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.

24 Comments

  1. Chris on July 23, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    Thanks for the info about Watson Falls. We’ll be nearby in September…



    • Chris on July 23, 2018 at 4:43 pm

      Further note, once my car-pool family, in my former commuting life, overheard me commenting about particularly handsome clouds. They though that I was deranged. It’s good to know that there are others.



  2. Mac on July 17, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    You may wish to spend some time in the Blue and Wallowa Mountains; they are different than the Cascades and Coast Range – but- psst! Don’t tell anybody about it!



    • Becky on July 20, 2018 at 12:34 pm

      I’ll keep that in mind Mac, thanks!



  3. Ralph Guiterrez on July 16, 2018 at 5:52 am

    Stunning pics but they look rather lonely. Have you met any diversity? Where angry civilians may take offense at where you might end up accidently? Any breakdowns in these desolate spots or troubles with the police and locals? Sometimes in our neck of the woods I’ve heard of being chased off even at Walmarts! Good luck! But what is your exit strategy? Surely you must think of going back to civilization and being back to an 8 to 5 schedule?



    • Becky on July 17, 2018 at 9:43 pm

      Hello Ralph, that’s a lot of questions!

      For starters, my friend Veronica of RV Outlawz (http://rvoutlawz.com/) is Latina and started an Instagram community specifically for Latinos who RV after noticing the lack of representation of minorities on the road, you should check out her stuff! https://www.instagram.com/rvlatino/

      I’ve broken down a grand total of once in the five years I’ve been on the road, it was just outside Leadville, CO, you can read about it here: https://interstellarorchard.com/2016/09/03/the-dreaded-rv-breakdown/

      I’m going to keep traveling until I find something else I want to do more, but five years in I’m still going strong and don’t see myself settling down anytime soon! I did write an informational article about the importance of exit strategies though, you can find that here: https://interstellarorchard.com/2015/09/07/moving-back-to-a-fixed-home/

      Lastly, I love landscape and nature photography so no, you won’t often see people or man-made structures in my photos. ๐Ÿ™‚



  4. Norm H. on July 15, 2018 at 6:04 am

    Enjoy your time in the PNW. Iโ€™m looking forward to your reports on using solar, too, as Iโ€™d like to be โ€œgenerator free,โ€ if possible, with our next rig.
    My DW is also a sky/clouds aficionado! Sheโ€™s likely accumulated hundreds, if not thousands, of cloud pictures. Itโ€™s a relaxing โ€œhobbyโ€ and also a good way to stay tuned to changing weather conditions as well.



    • Becky on July 15, 2018 at 1:04 pm

      Thanks Norm! More about solar power in a rainforest coming up soon. It sounds like your DW and I would get along swimmingly. ๐Ÿ™‚



  5. Jodee Gravel on July 14, 2018 at 10:34 am

    Oregon is in our top five (maybe three) states for so many reasons. Glad to see you’re loving it too. Thanks for sharing your cloud watching, the pics are stunning.



    • Becky on July 15, 2018 at 1:02 pm

      You’re welcome Jodee, I can see why it made your list!



  6. Jim-el on July 13, 2018 at 11:22 pm

    Too bad you zipped through southern Oregon with no advance notice, and thus no chance for me to offer suggested sites and sights. Glad you got to enjoy Watson Falls. It’s just one of a dozen or so along that stretch of the Umpqua, each one unique. But you made no mention of having visited Ashland, where you could have shared your poi spinning with others in Lithia Park, or on the Plaza. You could have camped at Jackson Wellsprings, the local rustic spa, where Monday is ladies’ night. You didn’t raft the Rogue or walk the Pacific Crest Trail. You missed a lot of what has kept me loving this region for many decades.

    While you’re still in the northwest, don’t fail to drive the Oregon Coast. It’s a wondrous feeling to stand on the beach, watching the sun set between offshore boulders. with all of North America behind you.



    • Becky on July 15, 2018 at 1:01 pm

      Well, I’ll certainly keep your suggestions in mind Jim, thanks! I actually prefer traveling to a new area *without* knowing all there is to see – I talked about this last year in this post: https://interstellarorchard.com/2017/04/21/the-element-of-surprise/ ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, since I’m full-timing I don’t need to try to cram everything into one visit – I find that quite stressful. I’ll see more of southern Oregon again next month when I attend the Oregon Xscapers convergence and visit a friend in Ashland.



  7. David Bain on July 12, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    You’re in my backyard now. I urged you a couple of years ago to see Crater Lake.



    • Becky on July 13, 2018 at 2:39 pm

      Yep David, and it was worth seeing for sure!



  8. Rhonda on July 12, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    What a lovely post! The photos are pretty and your travelogue adventures informative. What I appreciate most about your writing, however, is your willingness to share your introspection…about life in general, about your experiences and how they impact you and about where you’ve been and where you long to be in your travels. You bring a personal depth to your blog that is open and welcoming. Thank you for sharing your life through this wonderful blog. ๐Ÿ™‚



    • Becky on July 13, 2018 at 2:37 pm

      Why thank you Rhonda! I’m glad to hear you say that because being authentic and sharing what I’m feeling as well as what I’m doing has always been a goal with IO. ๐Ÿ™‚ You’re welcome and I’m glad you enjoyed this post.



  9. Pamela Campbell on July 12, 2018 at 11:11 am

    Hi, Becky – Wonderful โ€œSkyโ€ photos! Great colors! Thanks for sharing. I do hope to get up to the PNW one of these days. Looks so beautiful and supposed to be the freshest air.
    Happy Travels. Pamelab in Houston for a bit



    • Becky on July 13, 2018 at 2:34 pm

      Thanks Pamela and I’m glad you enjoyed them! Definitely put the PNW on your list, it’s worth a visit and with your Casita you’ll be able to camp in plenty of places. Take care!



  10. GK Lott on July 12, 2018 at 4:31 am

    Beautiful images.



    • Becky on July 13, 2018 at 2:33 pm

      Thanks GK.



  11. Dawn in Michigan on July 12, 2018 at 4:25 am

    Always wanted to see Oregon. Thanks for sharing. For past several weeks I’ve been at our cabin on a lake in AL. Hosted a big reunion on the 23rd and have been relaxing since. Cloud watching has been a big thing for me here as my blog attests. So much activity here in the sky as the heat builds every afternoon. Anyway… I agree sitting still is important for anyone. So glad I get to do it!



    • Becky on July 13, 2018 at 2:33 pm

      You’re welcome Dawn! I bet it was a lot of work hosting that reunion, taking time off after a big event makes perfect sense to me. ๐Ÿ™‚ Have fun watching the sky!



  12. Judith Blinkenberg on July 11, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    Your pictures are so pretty! What lovely scenery!! We had wanted to go but did not know where to camp. Next spring, hopefully. Thank you for another great post!!



    • Becky on July 13, 2018 at 2:31 pm

      freecampsites.net and campendium.com Judith, that’s where I find pretty much all my boondocking spots. ๐Ÿ™‚ You’re welcome and I hope you get up here next spring!



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