While the first heatwave of summer bakes the Rogue Valley back home, we awoke to day four of our cool 2 1/2 week coastal escape. A note in our hiking book suggested the “not to be missed” Umpqua Discovery Center located on “Reedsport’s scenic riverfront boardwalk.” Somewhat skeptical, but wanting to stick close to our home base at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park today, we made the short drive north.Built entirely with grants and donations, the center is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Impressive displays, some interactive, explain the Natural and Cultural History of the Oregon Coast. Massive murals, painted by artist Peggy O’Neal, are beautifully done and anchor each of the many displays. We were told each mural took about a year to complete. Take in the views up and down the river from the boardwalk or grab a bite to eat at one of the neighboring restaurants. The Umpqua Discovery Center is located just off Highway 101 and Highway 38 in Reedsport, Oregon. Open daily with a reasonable admission charge.
Posts Tagged With: Road Trips
Brad and his girlfriend Ashley kept us pretty darn busy during our recent visit to Chico. Ashley planned an action packed Saturday, beginning with a wildflower walk atop North Table Mountain near Oroville, California.
Formed by ancient lava flows, and looking suspiciously like our own Upper and Lower Table Rocks just outside Medford, Oregon, it rises 1582 feet above the valley floor. The wildflowers were spectacular!
We meandered along a series of interconnected trails, eventually arriving at Hollow Falls where we cautiously followed Ashley down the face the cliff you see behind us in the above photo. Fortunately, we discovered a trail that led us easily (and safely) back up to the top.
After a quick bite to eat, we took a short drive north of Chico for some wine tasting at The Abbey of our Lady of New Clairvaux, located in the tiny town of Vina. The history of the land dates back to 1843 when it was a part of a 22,000-acre Mexican land grant. Established in in 1955, the monastery sits on 600 acres and is one of only 17 Trappist-Cistercian monasteries in the United States.
Our tasting included a variety of whites and reds, all of which were quite good. Even Brad, who loves his beer, admitted the reds were pretty good.
New Clairvaux Vineyard offers a unique setting and is well worth the detour when traveling through Northern California.
We are camped at Fort Stevens State Park and have enjoyed exploring an area known for being at the mouth of the Columbia River and the turnaround point for the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
The campground is the largest Oregon state park with more than 500 campsites. Before you wince at that number, we must tell you that the loops are arranged such that we felt like we were in quiet, small campground most of the time. We were joined by many resident mosquitoes, however, who enjoyed the swampy surroundings and lush vegetation. A dense, tall forest keeps it comfortable for them. Our campfire and a ring of defense chemicals (including Bounce sheets) kept them at bay.)
Speaking of defense, Fort Stevens was a military installation from the Civil War through World War II, with many batteries, such as the one pictured, standing by to protect the Columbia entrance.
Our son Andrew drove from his Portland home to join our expedition that included a walk to the ocean to see the 1906 wreck of the Peter Iredale, which ran aground while looking for the Columbia River mouth.
To find where Lewis and Clark first saw the Pacific in 1805, we crossed the Columbia River on a three-mile bridge from Astoria and found the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse in Washington. Our 11-mile roundtrip trek from Cape Disappointment took us through forest where William Clark and his men camped.
The cape got its name in 1788 from an English captain who could not find the Columbia River mouth. Disappointing. I’ll say!
Some nice ocean views and Waikiki Beach (east!) marked our walk. Our destination was the North Head Lighthouse, which was shrouded with scaffolding while undergoing restoration.
While looking for a place to spend the winter, Lewis and Clark canoed across the river to what is now Oregon and quickly built Fort Clatsop, part of Lewis and Clark National Park. We decided to go back by car.
We found that the Park Service had rebuilt the fort and we covered our ears while a ranger demonstrated an early 19th-century rifle firing. During her talk, she told us that a misfire was called a “flash in the pan” and the gun’s parts gave us the expression, “lock, stock, and barrel.”
The fort is also the site of some family history. We brought Andrew here when he was one year old. Actually, younger sons Brad and Chris were here too, in a much more confined state.
Our wrong-turn destination has yielded another welcome surprise: Elkhart, Indiana is the recreational vehicle capital of the world. More than 80 percent of global RV production is based in this area, we have read.
Plus, it is home to the RV/Motor Home Hall of Fame Museum. That’s where we headed today, after a morning visit to a huge RV show next door.
Many of the features in modern RVs have been around for many decades, we could see. They were heavier and lacked the wide-screen TVs, but had the warmth and charm of yesteryear.
Above are a few of the treasures we found during our most enjoyable afternoon tour. The 1931 Model AA Tennessee Traveler has yellow pine floors and oak and yellow poplar cabinetry. See the 1946 Teardrop? It was pulled by a 1930 Model A. Can you find the motor home built atop a Cadillac?
I am standing in the first Fleetwood trailer, a 1950 Sporter. The interior shot with tourquoise seats is a 1937 Hayes motor home, which featured a steel body and roof. Can you say heavy?
The weather may have threatened all day here today. But, we were warmed by the thought that yesterday’s craftmanship and charm are being preserved, right here in Indiana!
Until Thursday, northwest Indiana was not on our itinerary. A fortuitous detour delivered us here and today was one of the most rewarding days of our journey, now in its seventh week.
“This feels like America,” we concluded several times. Rolling hills with farm after farm, neatly kept. White farm houses, porches screaming for an afternoon nap. A simple, but hard-working life.
We criss-crossed the Heritage Trail in Amish country. Indiana is home to more than 50,000 Amish, putting it close behind Pennsylvania and Ohio in Amish population. Horse-drawn buggies speedily clipped-clopped everywhere. Several pulled into a farm where many bicycles and no cars were parked. Many in traditional Amish dress milled about. Children ran and played. “A wedding?” Sue wondered.
We had a delicious lunch at an Amish restaurant, then watched a woman hold one of her many grandchildren while working at her loom, weaving rugs. All made out of fabric from recreational vehicles, she told us.
We walked around neighborhoods in Goshen that were lined with huge trees and century-plus-old homes. A dome topped the town’s original courthouse. An Amish buggy traveled down the main street. We perused an old bag factory now filled with shops and a cafe.
A wonderful day in the neighborhood!
After an hour or so of monotonous interstate driving from southwestern Virginia, we veered northeast toward Highway 60, which follows the Kanawha River in West Virginia. It climbed and twisted along the narrow, rocky river gorge. We had to wait for a wide spot (yep, next to a Family Dollar Store) at a reservoir to take a photo.
Our destination was Charleston, where we are visiting our son Chris and his girlfriend Gail.
It was a beautiful drive, a challenge with the trailer, but as backroads often do, it revealed a surprise: Coal. Our scenic drive book didn’t mention it, but the last section leading to Charleston featured several large coal and chemical plants. It was busy and the surrounding communities looked like thriving company towns.
The valley has been an industrial region since the mid-1800s and the Kanawha River feeds the Ohio River. Daniel Boone and Booker T. Washington spent time in the area.
We paused for a bit of southern culture at a cafe next to a coal plant, where the luncheon buffet featured mashed potatoes that may have had more butter than potato. Delicious! The servers must have liked us, because they called us “Darlin’.”
The state capitol dome dominated the Charleston skyline, but we had to keep going about 30 miles westward to our KOA campground in Milton, where we are staying for five nights. There are other RVs here, although they did not show in Sue’s photos.
Tidbits from the road:
Temperature change: It was 89 degrees in Las Vegas and just 32 in Williams, Arizona the next night.
Gas prices: El Paso wins the low-price battle at $1.98 a gallon…so far.
High and dry in the desert: Gas stations are few and far between in the Southwest, so we have almost always filled up at every chance. The lower mileage that comes with towing is a big factor.
European views: Four folks from Germany about our age were parked next to us in El Paso. This is their fifth tour in the U.S. in rented motor homes. They love driving this country because of its diversity and scenery. This year, their friends in Germany questioned their trip, though. “Americans are angry, don’t go there,” one German said he was told. He brushed off the warning, saying he likes the people here.
Rough roads: Our Mariposa friends the Chappells drove to Alaska last year. Doug said the roads were so rough a window broke in their camper. The roads in Arizona may not be much better, even on Interstate 40. We were bounced around so much that normally sturdy drawers in the trailer were tossed open, requiring some minor repair. Beware!
Speed: Once we left California, truck and trailer speed limits mirror those for cars. So, the limit is often 70 or 75 and it is not unusual for a truck or RV to be going 75. Really? What are these states thinking? Do I sound like an old man in a pickup?
Our hike today led us in an opposite direction – 750 feet down a steep and winding path – into the depths of Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We chose the self-guided walk, beginning at what is known as The Natural Entrance, a gaping black hole where the 1.25 mile trail awaited.
An hour later, we reached an underground rest/snack area located in The Big Room, a chamber 4,000 feet long, 625 feet wide and 255 feet high. Here exhausted explorers can call it a day and catch the elevator back up. For more curious folks like us, the path continued on for another 1.25 miles, allowing us to take in such sights as The Lions Tail, Hall of Giants and the incredible Bottomless Pit.
It’s was impossible to capture just how vast the caverns are, but I did manage to snap a couple photos that illustrate the intricate detail of the numerous formations that grow in this fascinating park.