Friday, October 4
The crew and I wake early to a chilly morning along the Deschutes River. We’ve camped at the state park for three nights.
The weekend anglers are here and it has become very crowded. The fish aren’t biting yet but that hasn’t dampened their enthusiasm to get into their waders or to fire up their boat engines. This is Testosterone Village!
I neglected to show the photo of Spike in the Deschutes River.
Back to our cold morning . . . .
Soon we’re toasty! Bridget and Spike love the PTV’s heater!
As we pull away from the park, I’m pleased to see we don’t have to get back on the interstate. Route 30 takes us east to Rufus, Oregon. We stop at Pilot/Flying J for a fill-up at $3.55 a gallon. Then it’s southward on Route 97 which takes us up a long, curving grade out of the Columbia Gorge and into grass country.
I don’t know if it’s my imagination or not, but it seems the PTV handles steep, long grades better with her new, all-terrain tires.
I like two-lane roads that slice through vast, open land.
The terrain seems empty except for an occasional dwelling, sometimes occupied, sometimes empty for a long time.
You can follow along as we go!
We ride through the small towns of Wasco and Moro. Next we arrive at the aptly named town of Grass Valley. I haven’t had breakfast, so I park on the main street (which is Route 97) and run into a little cafe.
The interior of the cafe looks like a diner. It’s one counter with red naugahyde-covered stools. A guy at a grill can be seen through the opening in the wall behind the counter. I ask the young counter woman for a coffee to-go.
I pick up a menu.
“Oh, gee, I forgot to bring in my glasses,” I mumble to myself.
The only other customer in the cafe is a woman of 70, maybe 80 years or more. She swivels on her stool and takes off her glasses. “Here,” she says. “Use mine.”
Everything on the menu looks like it requires a plate, so I put the menu back and ask the counter woman for two plain biscuits.
I hand back the pair of glasses.
As I wait for the biscuits the lady sitting on a stool near me begins a conversation. It seems like she picks up where we left off, even though there was no “leaving off,” since I just walked in.
Soon she’s telling me about growing up on a ranch where they had about 300 head of cattle and about 3,000 head of sheep.
Her husband, now deceased, was from Boston.
“He came out here years ago with the C.C.C.,” she explains. “When he got back from the War he didn’t want any part of Boston. He came back to Grass Valley and I married him. His brother came out here, too.”
I can’t help but wonder how a man born and raised in Boston becomes a wheat farmer. How does one do that?
“So you’ve been here all your life?” I say, asking the obvious.
“Oh, yes. I graduated from the high school, left for school, and came back.”
“What exactly is the grass in Grass Valley?”
“Oh, wheat mostly . . . and barley,” she responds, waving her hand as if to take in the countryside. “Some alfalfa and all that.”
I introduce myself and she tells me her name is Margaret. She asks me where I’m from and we chat a bit longer.
“It’s been nice talking with you, Margaret,” I remark as I gather up the biscuits and coffee.
“Oh, let me get that!” she exclaims, jumping down from the stool and hurrying over to the door. “Don’t want you spilling that all over yourself.”
She holds the door open for me.
We exchange smiles, I thank her, and return to the crew waiting in the PTV.
Next we pass through the town of Kent in the blink of an eye. What looks like a very old cemetery lies on a knoll outside of town. I would enjoy roaming around this area, learning the history, meeting people like Margaret, hearing their stories.
After Kent we pass through Shaniko.
Shaniko is a “living ghost town.” I hate that I can’t stop to look it over. (See photos and read about it at the link.) I’ll explain in a moment why I feel I have to keep going.
Beyond Shaniko is what the sign says is “the mountain identifier.”
It’s shortly past the place where the PTV hopped over the 45th parallel, which is the mid-point between the equator and the north pole, but you knew that already, didn’t you?
At the mountain identifier you stand on a metal disc in the ground. In front of you is an arc of cement on the ground with plaques embedded in it. Each plaque gives the name of a mountain, its elevation, and an arrow pointing to it at the horizon.
So when I stood on the disc, here’s what I saw!
Left to right (or south to north) . . . Broken Top (elev. 8,152 ft.), Three Sisters (elev. 10,004 ft.), Mt. Washington (elev. 7,802 ft.), Three Finger Jack (elev. 7,841 ft.), Mt. Jefferson (elev. 10,485 ft), Mt. Hood (elev. 11,248 ft.), Mt. St. Helens (elev. 8,500 ft.), Mt. Adams (elev. 12,307 ft.) and, last but certainly not least, Mt. Ranier (elev. 14,470 ft.)
What a spectacular view!
I captured this mountain with my camera and now I can’t remember which one it is! Do you recognize this mountain?
Time to get to the reason why I feel I need to keep moving today.
Here’s what I learn this morning from the forest service:
Due to the lapse in agency funding, the sale of all types of permits (i.e., recreation, firewood, forest products, mineral materials for example) are suspended, recreation.gov reservations are suspended, and all federally owned recreation sites are closed. All offices are closed. These services will be available once funding is restored.
I take that to mean campgrounds are closed.
I drive through Madras, Redmond, and Bend. I’m a bit concerned about where we will park for the night. It’s Friday and the state park at La Pine is surely filled. The national forest campgrounds and BLM campgrounds are closed. I can’t even stop at a ranger office for help. I have to find a boondock and I have to find it completely on my own.
I find it south of Bend in the Deschutes National Forest!
I turn onto forest road 9724 which is south of the road to Sunriver and east of Route 97. I park the PTV and the crew and I investigate spur roads on foot.
Hmm . . . No footprints. It’s quiet. No one else around. Oh, that pine smells good!
The forest road goes to Sugar Pine Butte. That gives me the idea what to name this camp.
Camp Sugar Pine!
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