Prairie City. John Day. Fossil Beds. Barnhouse Camp Ground

July 7, 2018. We leave our lovely camp, Wetmore, in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and head west on Hwy 26.  I rarely go more than 50 miles a day, sometimes 75, but this day proves a long one. 

We make a quick stop just up the road from Wetmore Camp Ground and I buy a block of ice and think how getting rid of the bigger Cube Cooler in Utah was such a good choice. This smaller one is so much easier to handle.

We motor on and gain the area near Prairie City where there is an overlook presiding over the valley below.  A  giant replica of a Conestoga wagon houses a few tiny facts about the surrounding area, but is mainly advertisements for the little town.

DSC_0003 (2)Larger-than-life Prairie Schooner, Prairie City, OR  It looks hot and dry down there in the valley, and we’re headed that way.

There are several small towns and a lot of highway we travel on before we reach John Day where I make a stop at their local market. A box of Cheese Nips is almost $5. I don’t buy much just enough to get us through a couple of days.

We stop at the little park in town and find a nice shade tree under which we park and have lunch.  Lordy, it’s hot. I am grateful for the large shade trees.

After lunch I scout a road I saw coming in that goes to a little town called Canyon City only to find there is road work, and a lot of it, up ahead. I am not in the mood to sit in this heat waiting to get through so I turn around and head back toward Hwy 26.

There is a marvelous old antique shop alongside the road with old buggies and some wonderful metal sculptures of pigs and goats and such, but I am too tired and too hot to bother stopping for photos. I know I will regret this later, but right now, at this moment, I do not care.  I just need to get the big green machine moving with some air blowing on us.

Travelling back through town again, we leave John Day behind, and the day seems to get warmer, but we determinately move forward, eventually coming to an overlook just before the John Day Fossil Beds.  It’s an interesting stop, but lordy it’s SOOOO hot. I know. I am whining.

The boys don’t even want to be outside, but they do need a potty break, and it’s a quick one.  On the way back down the hill I stop and get a shot of this old homestead and one of a wooden farm thingy, looking like it’s for loading grain or hay or something.

Just up the highway is the John Day River and the entrance–after a short ride through the rock-walled canyon–into the Sheep Rock Unit of the fossil beds.

DSC_0014John Day River

 

DSC_0016Just past the Fossil Bed National Mon Sign

DSC_0015  It’ not far in, maybe three or four miles, but once at the visitor’s center I find not a spot of shade to be had anywhere.  I will not leave the boys in a hot car and it’s hot, hot, hot. Reluctantly, but necessary, I turn the van around, and we head back out to Hwy 26.  I do stop briefly in a couple of places to grab these shots.

It’s been a long, hot day, and as I am wondering just where we are going to lay our heads tonight, I spy out of the corner of my eye as I am driving by, a National Forest sign and the words ‘Barnhouse Camp’.  At this point I really do not care how much I have to pay for a site, we need to stop.

I get turned around, and we head into the Ochoco Mountains and toward TREES.  It’s about four miles in and it’s paved all the way to Barnhouse Campground and beyond to two more campgrounds.  This is a dry camp, but it has a vault toilet, tables, and fire rings.  FREE. No water, and pack your garbage out.  That’s a deal to me!

Grateful to have a place to call home for a day or two, but I don’t make camp until the next morning, after a cool and restful night.  Oh how wonderful to be out of the valley and up where it’s cool.   We’ll sleep good tonight.

DSC_0037 (2) Next morning we take a hike along the Barnhouse Trail.  It’s not a regularly maintained trail, and pretty tough going so we don’t go too far.  DSC_0039 (2)Barn House Trail Sign                                                        DSC_0052 (2)Fries along the creek at Barnhouse

DSC_0044 (2)Water Trough Barnhouse Camp     This old water trough hewn from a log is interesting!

Even though we don’t hike very far on the Barnhouse Trail, there are enough chipmunks in camp to keep The Chiweenie Brothers extremely occupied between morning and evening loops around the camp lest we forget how to walk.  🙂

DSC_0025 (2)Digger Charlie, Barnhouse camp

 

DSC_0036 (2)Charlie digging at Barnhouse FS Camp east of Mitchell OR off Hwy 26

Thank you for stopping by 2DogsTravel! Hugs, Shawna

We stay three days then head out. Coddiwompling all the way.

Coddiwomple

White Spar Camp Ground

Saturday, March 31, 2018 turns out to dawn bright and beautiful with no wind.  I decide we will leave today instead of tomorrow.  Scurrying around breaking camp the boys know we are leaving and they are beyond excited.  As we pull out Fries does his usual thing of putting his front legs on the dash, hind legs still in the seat and gazes out the windshield. I have tried and failed to get a photo of him doing this, so you’ll just have to picture it in your mind.

Highway 89 North toward Prescott takes us on a climb in elevation toward the small town of Yarnell. This may or may not ring a bell for some of you, but it was near Yarnell, Arizona that a wildfire, ignited by lightning on June 28, 2013, overran and killed 19 City of Prescott firefighters, members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. God bless our courageous men and women who do firefighting for a living.  Not too many braver than they.

Before we actually get to Yarnell I spy this alongside the road.  Someone else sees things in rocks and mountains!  Ha!

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As we cruise through Yarnell I spot this as we drive by and had to stop, walk back, and take a photo of it.

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The only goal for today is to find a place to stay for the rest of the weekend that has cell service so I can call the clinic in Prescott Valley and see if they can get me in to look at that tooth in the upper left corner. 

We have managed to level out after Yarnell, but soon we begin to climb again and it’s about 15 miles of wonderful road (saying that with tongue in cheek).  For those who know Pit One Grade from where I came from it’s like that only a lot longer; not enough guard rail, two-lane, mountain-on-one-side-gorge-on-the-other, but with many switchbacks and a lot of traffic.  And what goes up must come down … YIKES!!!  Sorry folks no photos here!

After that adventure in driving we come to White Spar Campground, a USFS offering that is just a couple miles from Prescott.  Not thinking we will find anything else on up the road before we hit town I pull in and sign us up for two nights. It’s actually all the camp host will allow us and we get site #2 only because the people who reserved it decided not to take it.  It’s a blessing and the two days will take us to Monday when I can make that phone call. From there on out the site is available for two night stints until the 6th when it’s reserved for someone.  

I much prefer boondocking, but sometimes that just isn’t available, so I am thankful.  Our neighbors to the right have bird feeders out and when I am not reading or blogging, I am watching the birds. 

Nuthatches, rufous sided towhees, and a big ‘ol raven keep us amused

There are TREES here—oaks, pines, and some juniper—and I am able to run a line between two oaks so the boys can have a lot more freedom while I am slaving away at the computer.  Being in a campground means lots more noise and a lot less privacy, but nights are quiet and that, too, is a blessing as this campground is right on the highway.

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Thanks for stopping by 2DOGS! Hugs, Shawna

CAMP AMENITIES
Water:  Yes                          Garbage: Yes
Bathrooms: Vault toilet     Electricity: No
Tables: Yes                           Shower: No
Fire Pit:  Yes                         BBQ:  No
# of Sites:  50+ (I think)        Fee: $14 per night, half that with pass

OTHER:  Reservations are recommended, but if someone hasn’t shown up or there is a spot that isn’t taken prior to a reservation you can stay two nights at a time. Reservations take priority.

There are hiking and biking trails just as you pull into the area and a picnic table and parking lot.  These trails are BUSY!

The campground is right along Highway 89 so it’s quite noisy, but the traffic is almost nil at night. 

ALL WHO WANDER ARE NOT LOST … Usually.  🙂 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corvina Beach

January 29, 2018, our noses pointing in a westerly direction, we slowly make our way along Hwy 111 to our next destination on the Salton Sea, Corvina Beach.  The water sparkles like diamonds where the morning sun hits it, and there is no where to pull over.

We come to a little oasis along the shore that I thought might be a good place to spend an hour or two amongst the palm trees, but once on the dirt road leading down to the water I spot a no trespassing sign. Private property. Keep out.

DSC_0003I turn around and continue on.

The Salton Sea, largest lake in California, used to be a busy vacation spot. Time has changed all that. The “sea” is slowly decreasing in size,, increasing in pollution, and huge fish kills happen every year.  This body of water is 50% saltier than our oceans! If you care to read of how the Salton Sea came to be, the problems, and the hopes for it you can read this assessment about it Here. While some saltwater species of fish do live in this toxic soup they have huge die-offs each year.

The beach is composed not of sand but of inches deep crushed barnacle shells and dried, petrified fish bones and scales.  It would be brutal to walk on barefoot, but surprisingly it doesn’t bother The Chiweenie Brothers’ paws.

I set up camp and wait for Jan to arrive. I cover the windshield and all the windows on the sunny side of the van  which will help keep us a bit cooler. There is also a wonderful cool breeze coming off the water.  Seagulls are checking out the shore for any bits of food that they might find.

We take walks, but mostly just enjoy the view and the birds. I reflect on the predicament this body of water is in, but have hope that something can and will be done to save it. At this time of the year there is no smell, but in high summer the stench of dying fish can knock you off your feet I am told.

I enjoy our first night’s sunset. DSC_0007

Our second evening stuns with this sunset.  DSC_0052

The next morning, having been awake since 4:00 trying to get a shot of the super blue moon eclipse and failing, I get enough light to catch the setting moon reflecting on the water.  And then Mr. Gull strutting his stuff looking for an easy meal.   The air is cool and refreshing and it’s going to be a stellar day!

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Thanks for stopping by.  Hugs, Shawna

CUURRENT READ: Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

CAMP AMENITIES
Water:  Yes                Garbage: Yes
Bathrooms: Vault     Electricity: No
Tables: Yes                Shower: Yes, cold water
Fire Pit:  Yes              BBQ: No
# of Sites:  About 12 Fee: $10 per night, $8 with senior discount
Other:  Nice view of the water.  Near railroad tracks, but honestly the sound is somehow dampened and there are no whistles as the trains pass by.  I didn’t find the trains a bother.

 

 

Palm Canyon

Approximately 20 miles south of Q on Hwy 95 in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge lies a canyon within the barren volcanic Kofa Mountain Range. Tucked away in this canyon are a grove of California fan palms the why and how of how they got there unknown, but speculation abounds and has over the years since they were discovered.

The boys and I head out in the late afternoon to drive to the refuge with the intent of staying the night and taking the short half-mile hike up to the palms the next day. The sun only shines in the canyon slot for a very brief time, and probably less this time of the year with the sun farther south. Photography requires light, so this is important.

It’s about 7 miles of pretty decent dirt road to reach the parking lot situated just below the trail head. The mountain looms upward dwarfing the lot and the vehicles parked there.  We are one of three who decide to go ahead a stay in the parking lot and wait for morning.

View from trail with van in prking lot ...

A bitter wind is whipping itself into a frenzy and it’s darn cold when the inevitable walk is needed for the boys to hike a leg. We don’t dilly dally around; it’s down to business and we scurry back inside.

The inside of the van is unheated, but comfy and warm enough as we snuggle under the covers listening to the wind poke and prod at the mountain and the van, sounding angry over something, voicing its mournful objections. It makes me sad, and my mind wanders to Burger. I miss my  Boo. I try to imagine him running in a field of green, happy and well … fortunately sleep comes fairly quickly.

Morning dawns bright and clear, and although still on the cold side, the wind has moved on. Coffee, another chapter in my book, a walk around the parking lot for the dogs, and  then a bit of breakfast while we await the sun to get a bit higher and the air a little warmer before we head out.  I check over my camera, make sure I have bags in my pocket for dog droppings, and we’re ready to go.

It’s a short hike, but it’s not a level hike. I wouldn’t say it’s difficult, but the trail does climb a bit, and there are a few places where it’s a bit tricky to navigate, especially with two dogs on leash who have their own idea of which way is the best way to go.

The palms are across a ravine from the trail, tucked away between the small canyon’s wall, protected from the elements.  The conditions surely must be perfectly right for them to continue to thrive and grow here.

You can read more about these palm trees HERE.

I decide to spend an additional night within the refuge enjoying the cholla (pronounced choy-ya) cactus, the saguaros and other desert plants that look fresh and clean without the coating of dust that covers most of the Sonoran Desert.  I spend the afternoon picking out things in the mountain range where the palm trees hide.  A mole, a seal, a monster, a snake’s head. Can you see them? Click the photo to enlarge.

Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs. Hugs, Shawna

CAMPING:  You can camp within the refuge, free, for up to 14 days.  This is a boondocking area and there are NO amenities whatsoever. Come prepared for that if you plan on staying more than a night or two. There is  a narrow strip along the main dirt road where you can pull off to park. with signs telling you where the boundaries are. 

 

Out and About For a Couple of Days

Hello blog Peeps!  The boys and I took off for a couple of days for, possibly, our last run of the season.  Hoping to still get one more in, but it all depends on work, the weather, the moon and the stars.  You get the idea.  If everything aligns we’re golden.  Speaking of the moon, the harvest moon is coming up this weekend. The Super Moon here

A dental appointment took up my Tuesday morning, and as I sat in the chair I kept thinking Miss Freedom wants to go somewhere.  Yes, yes she does.  Where would she like to go?  Oh I know, somewhere EAST because that is what comes to mind first.  OK, east it is. 

When I arrive home on this perfectly lovely, kind-of-on-the-hot-side late morning I grab my California Benchmark Atlas and choose Upper Rush Creek Campground just outside of the tiny little town of Adin, population 230 something.  I throw some things together, load up the waiting Miss Freedom and off we go.

The campground is a few miles east of Adin and two miles off Highway 299.  Once you get back there it’s heavily wooded with pines and cedars and true to its name Rush Creek tumbles and gurgles along one side of the loop of 10 campsites, ‘rushing’ to it’s unknown–to me–destination.

We choose site number 3 on the creek side, and I set up camp.  This consists of pulling out the backpacker stove, my anti-gravity chair, and the tie outs for the boys.  A pig-headed wire hair fox terrier and two rambunctious minds-of-their-own chiweenies can’t be trusted to stick around.  Oh they would come back, I am sure, but I am not into the stress and worry so they must stay prisoners of the camp.  Poor things.


I notice vault toilets and water spigots.  Glad to see they have water, but I am kind of a water snob and used to drinking the best dang water ever out of my own tap at home so I brought some.  The boys aren’t quite that discerning so they get creek water, and I take their bowl over to fill it up.  No water.  What the heck?  Well, it is getting on in the year, perhaps they have already shut it off for winter.  Glad I brought a couple of gallons; I’ll have to share my treasure with Burger, Fries, and Charlie. 

We are the only ones in this campground!  How nice!

The boys and I take a fast paced walk consisting of them pulling me along as fast as they possibly can; have to sniff and hike and pee on everything they possibly can.  It might disappear, you know! And we take a short siesta.  Short because I hear something skittering around outside the back side window.  The boys are sound asleep which is a good thing, because I want to see what it is.  Something catches my eye on the small pine just outside the window and I wait.  Just a few seconds later a sweet little furry face peeks around the tree staring at the van as if to say what the heck are YOU doing here?  It’s a Douglas squirrel, also known as the pine squirrel or chickaree, and he keeps circling the tree, hesitating every few inches on his way down the trunk until he reaches the ground.  When he gets there he just stares at the tire for a time and cautiously digs around on the ground before leaping about two feet up and onto the trunk and he is gone.  These are gorgeous little creatures with darker fur than a grey squirrel and smaller by half, and rusty red-to-orange fur on their bellies. 

I read several chapters in my book, the second in a three-book historical fiction series by Jane Kirkpatrick.  Excellent reads if you like that kind of novel. 

It’s time for dinner and I gather some twigs and pine needles and build a tiny fire in the backpacker stove to cook a veggie burger (doctor’s orders, no more meat.  Dang!) .

 It’s pretty darn good, actually, and I like that I can eat all the starches I want.  Starch, veggies, and fruit and this girl is already losing weight.  🙂 

The view from our table
 

The boys and I enjoy the rest of the dying light in our little slice of heaven by taking another walk.  It’s the last one of the day beside a quick before-bed pee run, then prepare to head inside our Vome where we settle in for the evening.  And guess what shows up?  Another van!  They park two spaces up in camp number 5.  It’s white, a cargo type vehicle, and has a pop up top!  Nice.  There’s a bicycle attached to the back bumper.  I am going to go say hi and be nosy in the morning.  I’d love to know if they are living in it, or just on vacation.  Something tells me this is their lifestyle. 

Goodnight all.  Hope you sleep as well as I know we will.  See you tomorrow with “the rest of the story”. 

Thanks for stopping by! If you enjoy my blog, please follow and comment below by clicking on the little comment  link that is below every post.  Email addresses are never published, nor are they ever shared.  Hugs, Shawna