Months of July and August 2008

The past two months have been filled with new and exciting places.  The fires in California forced us to leave and go up into Oregon, a state we had seen very little of 30+ years ago.  Our first stop was Joseph H Stewart State Recreation Area.  What a beautiful park with over 200 sites, reservoir for fishing, boating, watersking, marina, store and nice hiking trails.  The only bad thing was we could only stay one night.  Around midnight Tim went outside and called Josh and I out – what a site.  The sky was lit up like a Christmas tree with stars galore,   I have not seen that many stars in many years. 

Our next stop was Diamond Lake Rv Park.  This is a privately owned park in the Umpqua National Forest located on the summit of the Cascade Mountains.  We were able to visit Crater Lake National Park which was pretty interesting.  The collapse of Mt Mazama after a massive volcanic eruption over 7000 years ago left a deep basin and over the years snowfall and snowmelt have filled this basin with clean pure water.  It is an amazing blue hue and in July still had roads closed due to the snow.  The lake is 1943 feet deep making it the deepest lake in the USA.  While in the area we also visited 6 beautiful waterfalls – so happy I have my hiking sticks.  They sure make a hike easier on an old lady.  We were really far from any towns – had eye problems and had to drive 90 miles one way to the eye doctor.  Seems that my left eye did not appreciate eye surgery – will need to be on drops for along time.  I can see great in the distance so no glasses for that – just need them to read. 

La Pine State Park was our next stopping point.  This park was located about 27 miles southwest of Bend, Oregon and located on the Deschutes River.  They had the largest ponderosa pine tree in Oregon being 191 feet tall, 326″circumference and over 500 years old.  The park had nice hiking trails which we enjoyed. 

Newberry National Volvanic Monument is located in the Deschutes National Forest and contains over 50000 acres of lakes, lava flows and spectacular geologic features.  We were able to drive up to Lava Butte which gave us a spectacular 360`view.  Also in the area they had a Lava River Cave with is a mile walk into the cave – it is pitch black – you must rent lanterns plus very cold – 42 degrees year round.  It was a very interesting stop and I think one of Joshua’s favorite places. 

We also did High Desert Museum which was pretty interesting.   Most of the stuff was from the early 1900’s era so to us it really was not that old.  We did see some interesting things though – especially and old west town.

Silver Falls State Park was our next stop and one of our favorites this summer for hiking.   The park consists of over 9000 acres making it the largest state park in Oregon.  The park sits at the base of the Cascade Mountains with beautiful scenery and awe inspiring views.  The park offers 10 beautiful water falls on a 8 3/4 mile hike.  We hiked 4 miles one day and 6 the next visiting all the waterfalls.  South Falls is a 177 foot fall that you actually walk behind.  Lower South Falls goes down 185 steps to a 93 foot waterfall.  Another falls – North Falls is also down 77 steps.  Easy going down but quite hard coming back up.  Our hike was thru a temperate rain forest of douglas fir and western hemlock trees, meadows, creeks and a vast array of wildlife and plants.  We actually watched a deer drinking out the the creek.  The campground had water and electric hookup but we were without phone, internet, and tv for the 4 days we spent in the park.  At night we spent playing games or cards.  Enjoyable stay.

Our next stop would be along the coast of Oregon.  The state of Oregon has 363 miles of ocean beaches without fences or development so everyone can enjoy the scenery.  In 1918 the governor put the land aside – smart governor.  The coast is quite cool though and no swimming is allowed at the beaches.    Our stop was the Jessie Honeyman State Park in Florence.  It is located in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area which was just out of this world.  They have sand dunes that are 385 feet or more in height and you are allowed to walk on them, ride them with sand boards, atv’s or dune buggys.  Joshua used a sand board one day and had so much fun.  Wow was it ever hard to climb a hill of sand.  While in the area Tim and Joshua took a sand buggy ride which they said was better than a roller coaster.  The smiles on their faces made it worthwhile.  It was so different and something that you could not do any where else. 

While in the area we went to Heceta Head Lighthouse.  This lighthouse was lit in 1894, can be seen 21 miles from land and 205 feet above the ocean.  It sits on 594 acres and was automated in 1963.  It is the strongest light on the Oregon coast.  The keepers house has been turned in to a bed and breakfast.  While camping our gas tanks were stolen during the night.  We have never had anything stolen before in all the years of camping.  We now know we need locks on tanks – gas is tooo high. 

On the 16th of July we headed to Bullards Beach State Park in Bandon.  The campground had full hookups but the temp was only 50.  We sat around the campfire at night with jackets on.  Tim’s brother Jeff met us at the park and camped with us.  While in the area we did Coquille River Lighthouse which was in the state park.  The guide did a wonderful job explaining the light.

We also visited the Cape Blanco Light which is the oldest continueously operating light in Oregon.  The light was built in 1870 and still active.  Also on the grounds was a 2000 acre ranch owned by the Hughes family.   The house was built in 1898 with victorian architecture, it consist4ed of 3000 square feet and cost only $3,800 to build.  One room in the house was set up as a chapel due to one son being a Roman Catholic Priest.  The ranch had dairy cattle and is now a state park. 

We left the coast and headed back inland to Valley of the Rogue State Recreation Area near Grants Pass.  The state park was actually part of the rest area along the interstate.  Nice park though and we had full hookups.

One day we went to Hictoric Jacksonville, founded in 1851 to find gold.  We took a trolley ride around town and got a little history of the area.  We had lunch at Jacksonville Inn – great food – thanks Jeff for treating us.

Hellgate Jet boat excursions was the highlight in Grants Pass.  It is a hydro jet boat that goes down the Rogue River and spins, stops really fast, looks like you will hit something and ends up getting you soaken wet.  We all were laughing so hard – it was a really cool trip.  Half way thru the trip you stop at Ok Corral Dinner Lodge and have a wonderful family style lunch.  We had tossed salad, bbq chicken, potatoes au gratin, cornbread, and a raspberry dessert.  Excellent food.  The trip was over 3 hours and 36 miles on the river.  You went through hellgate canyon where sheer rock walls rise 250 feet high and water runs 100 feet deep.  The area has been used for the movie The River Wild and Rooster Cogburn.  It was a wonderful day with many laughs and such fun.

On the 31st of July we headed to Lake Oroville State Recreation Area about 75 miles north of Sacramento, California in Oroville.  Oroville means “City of Gold” in spanish.  The lake was created by the construction of the Oroville Dam in 1967 and has 167 miles of shoreline.  Because of the drought in California the lake was down by about 200 feet of water and not very pretty.  The Bidwell Bar Suspension Bridge is located here and was quite interesting.  It was built i
n 1856 in New York and brought around the horn to California.  It is the first of its type in California.  It was closed to traffic in 1954 and moved to its present location in 1967.    We visited the visitor center and learned about the area during the gold rush featuring interpretive displays.   We also went to the Forebay Aquatic Center and rented kayaks.  This was alot of fun – think this is something Tim and I really could love.  They also had hydro bikes which we had never seen before. 

Alameda fairgrounds in Pleasanton was our next stop.  One day Josh went to visit a friend for the day which was good for him as he has not been with kids most of the summer.  

One day we went to the Oakland Aviation Museum located at Oakland Airport.  It was very interesting – having loads of planes and giving us talks about different things.  We then went to Quinn’s Lighthouse Restaurant for lunch.  This is an historic lighthouse which they bought from the Coast Guard for $1 in 1965.  The lunch was wonderful and from the windows we could see Coast Guard Island.   Next stop was Treasure Island, whcih used to be a Navy base.  They still have housing but most of the island is in need of tender care.  

The Presidio of San Francisco is a place you do not want to miss in the city.  It was established in 1776 by the Spanish as a military base and continued as an active army base until  1995.  When the army moved out it became a national park right away so the homes and buildings are still in great shape.  The visitors center is the old officers club which is the oldest building in San Francisco.  The grounds are beautiful and overlooks the golden gate bridge.  The old housing is now rented to people for over $3000 a month and to think people wondered how we lived in housing years ago.  In 1975 I went to the old Letterman Hospital on base to  find out that I was pregant with our second child.  Funny how we find ourselves interested in things from years ago. 

The middle of August took us north to Petaluma California where the Coast Guard Training Center is located.  We spent over a week here enjoying this beautiful base.  They had really nice walking trails and we got to walk quite alot.  They also let you eat in the galley which we did a few times.  Reasonable and quite good.  The time here was spent mostly relaxing but we did make two trips.  One day we rode to Pt Reyes where we used to be stationed.  We were allowed onto the base and could not believe how things have changed.  Wow.  We then had a nice lunch in Pt Reyes and walked around thinking back to how it was.  Years ago people did not flock here as tourist as they do today – they had active hitching rails back then – no mail delivery and they literally brought the sidewalks in at dark.  This was one duty station that really changeled us city folks.

Another day we rode up to Salt Point State Park where we used to camp and Tim went scuba diving for abalone.  We have quite a few good memories of this wonderful area.  We also stopped at Fort Ross State Historic Park which was so interesting.  This was a Russian American Company that was settled between 1812 and 1841 by the Russians with help from Alaskan natives.  The fort was very different from what you see out east as our stuff has mostly European influence.  It covers over 3200 acres and sits on the Pacific Ocean – nice trails to walk and enjoy the wonderful weather.

On the 19th of August we took Joshua home after enjoying our summer with him.  We enjoyed our time with him and hope he enjoyed himself also.  We left Petaluma on the 24th and headed east to Sharpe Army depot.  Our stay here was reasonable and just relaxing.

During July and August we had many wonderful experiences plus met lots of wonderful folks.  I will do another entry for September, October, and November and then try to be better about posting.  Till next time