Posts Tagged With: Trailer Travel

A Whale of a Good Time at Yaquina Head

When smoke continued to choke the Rogue Valley last week, we decided it was time to live dangerously. We hitched up our trailer and headed to the Oregon Coast…without reservations! Spontaneous and risky! And successful. Arriving early on the last day of a three-day holiday weekend allowed us to easily find a full hookup spot at a first come – first served campground.

Our favorite outing of the week was a trip to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse with friends and fellow campers, Lan and Jeff. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the lighthouse has the distinction of being the tallest (at 93 feet) on the Oregon Coast. Free tours of the lighthouse are available most days. Space is limited, so check in at the Interpretive Center to get your tickets.

As great as the lighthouse tour was, the stars of the day were the resident gray whales that linger off the coast near Newport from May through October or November. They swim surprisingly close to shore and put on quite a show for us throughout the afternoon.

Scanning the water, we were continually rewarded with a glimpses of a water spouts, followed by gracefully arched backs of the diving whales. The sight of a fluke (when the tail sticks straight up) never failed to raise a cheer from spectators.

Although the whales were swimming just beyond the rocks, capturing them with my camera lens was impossible…so, while we have no photos, we do have many memories of a beautiful afternoon spent at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse and surrounding Natural Area.

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Goodnight From Harris Beach State Park in Oregon

We are enjoying a four-day escape from home where work has begun on a new roof for our town home. Longtime friends, Kathy and Doug, drove their trailer up from California, joining us to camp and explore Oregon's beautiful Coast. We finished dinner just in time to rush down to the beach and catch the setting sun.

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I Caught a Few Salmon in Astoria, Oregon

A few salmon photos that is…of several artistic trash bins celebrating Astoria’s rich salmon fishing history.  I “caught” these floating among the sidewalks along the waterfront.

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Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. We’ve been there…

…or have we?  When Reg reserved our “one night stand” at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park on the coast of Oregon, we both had a pretty clear memory of our prior visit and a mental picture of where we’d be staying as we headed up the Oregon Coast.

When Reg pulled into the campground I commented that it was much more forested than I remembered.  Without another thought we checked in, quickly set up camp and headed out to explore the ‘hood.

Following a one mile trail that looped around Lake Marie, Reg marveled at our surprise discovery.  “I never would have guessed this lake was here,” he said as we watched children splashing in the swimming area.  

When the camp host told us the Lighthouse was just a short quarter mile walk from our campground, we began to have reservations about our reservation!  Perhaps we were not where we thought we were…

Slightly disoriented, we arrived at the Lighthouse and realized why everything felt so unfamiliar.  As it turns out, we’ve never been to Umpqua Lighthouse State Park before…until today that is!  A chat with a crusty old sea captain type who was selling admissions to the Lighthouse Museum cleared up our confusion, reassuring us that we weren’t completely losing our minds.  It seems our memories (and where we thought we had a reservation) are from (we think) Heceta Head Lighthouse, just north of here…where there is no lake and the campsites are not quite so forested!

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Very tall, very old things

On our way to the Boy Scout Tree in California’s Jedediah Smith State Park today, our camera found several other old, tall living things along the trail, including a former Scout!

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Backroads Across America: Big Sky Country

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Today we wound our way out of the Black Hills of South Dakota, snuck through a corner of Wyoming and arrived in Montana – Big Sky Country.  The gently rolling hills of Montana’s eastern plains seem to stretch on forever…and so does the sky above them.

It seems like spring has been late arriving in the northern part on the United States.  Although landscapes have been green and lush, trees have continually been bare of leaves. That just made it all the more exciting to stumble upon these wildflowers blooming on the hillside behind our campground.

Montana is a new state for both of us, and we are eager to discover what adventures lie beneath this “Big Sky.”  Plenty of time for that tomorrow!

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Backroads Across America: Hunting Buffalo

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Custer State Park in South Dakota is home to a herd of approximately 1,300 buffalo. These magnificent animals can be seen roaming freely throughout the grasslands.  The best way to view them is from the safety of your vehicle while driving the 18 mile Wildlife Loop Road…which is what we did today.

Park grasslands can only support about 1,450 buffalo, so the herd is carefully managed. Every fall the annual Buffalo Roundup takes place, allowing the park to brand and vaccinate the calves, inventory the grasslands and to determine how many buffalo will be sold at auction.  The event is open to the public, and this year the roundup is scheduled for September 29…so you still have time to make your plans!

We saw a few other critters out today.  A pronghorn was oblivious to my photo attempt. A herd of wild burros begged snacks from a fellow motorist and we waited as wranglers led trail horses across the road to fresh grass.  All in all, I’d say we had a successful hunt!

 

 

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Backroads Across America: Good Times in the Badlands

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Badlands National Park appears rather suddenly among the grasslands of South Dakota.  These seemingly harsh lands are the result of millions of years of earth’s ever-changing climate.  This is a landscape of extremes.

We arrived yesterday to clear blue skies and warm temperatures, the first we’ve had in two and a half weeks.  Pulling into the first parking lot we came to, we set off on two short walks, eager to get a taste of such a foreign landscape.  Surprisingly, trail markers led us off the path to freely walk among the peaks and gullies.  We later learned that Badlands is a sort of “open range” park.  Visitors are allowed to walk anywhere as long as the environment is respected.

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Day two found us on the Castle Trail, a 10 or 12 mile (depending on which map or trail marker you believe) round trip that led us through some of the spectacular park formations and out onto the open grasslands.  We had hoped to see some of the wildlife that call the park home and were a little disappointed to only see a few deer  in the distance.  But, it was a gorgeous day and we were outside in an eerily beautiful national park…not a bad place to be!

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Backroads Across America: More Than Bad Weather Brewing For Us


We opted for a second night at our Dubuque, Iowa hotel as we waited for wind and snow flurries to blow through the western part of the state.  To fill our rainy day, we decided to follow the scenic Mississippi River drive outlined in our guidebook.  It seemed simple enough, but wouldn’t you know it…another wrong turn led us 30 miles off course.  At least there were no toll roads!

As I studied the atlas in an effort to get us back on course, I realized we were close to the National Brewery Museum in Potosi, Wisconsin.  Reg thought I was kidding.  

Curious, we decided to see if it was for real.  

We learned beer was first brewed in Potosi in 1852.  The Potosi Brewing Company was founded in 1906, ceasing operation in 1972.  The Potosi Brewery was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

In 2004, the American Breweriana Association chose the site as the home for its National Museum of Beer Advertising Memorabilia.  In 2008, after a $7.5 million renovation, the museum and brew pub opened. The 2015 addition of their $5 million brewery allowed Petosi to finally bring all its beer back home again.





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Backroads Across America: Going With the Flow

All of a sudden the ill winds are flowing all around us.  The threat of extreme weather has blocked much of our westward path…and northward and southward paths too!  We intended to take the better part of a week driving around the coast of Michigan and continuing into Wisconsin, taking in the sights along the banks of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.  


Predictions of snow to the north, flooding to the south and rainy, windy thunderstorms to the west had us rethinking our route.  Shifting our minds (and our truck) westward towards Chicago, we discovered a great little local lunch hangout in Ligonier, Indiana.  All was not lost!  Four and a half out of five stars on my Google map app.  The fish really was as good as advertised!

 But then, Google maps let me down, directing us to a “closed for the season” RV park over an hour from where we were supposed to be!  How could that happen?  Surely it couldn’t have been operator error?


But this trip is all about “going with the flow,” so after a few tense miles, we ended up at the Last Resort RV Park.  Really, that is the name (I wouldn’t make it up) and it was sort of our last resort today.


A staff member checked us in and told us we could take whichever site looked good…but warned us away from #72 where the male and female geese were nesting with their little ones. Apparently, he can be a tad bit aggressive.  No problem…we’ll go with the flow!

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