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.
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.
June 18 – 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.
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 – 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 “road” 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.