Friday, October 17, 2014

In Utah for a bit

We're home in Salt Lake City. We've actually been here about a week, and will probably stay through the end of the month. We're itching to get on the road, but our grand children have a Halloween parade at my daughter's office October 31 and I'd like to see that. So if the weather stays moderate we'll remain in SLC through Halloween.  If the weather turns, we might head south.

In the meantime, some of the things we've done since out last post:

On our way home, spent a couple of days in Boise and one night in Snowville, Utah.

Celebrated a fifth birthday with granddaughter Mia.  

Got reinforcement  that 2-year-old grandson Marshall is a big Ninja Turtle fan when I tried to dress him in a non-Ninja shirt. Did not go well.

Cleaned our tow car and rig.

Cooked a lot, as Jim's current food intake has considerable decreased my on-the-road cooking duties. (We jokingly refer to it as the "oatmeal, watermelon and beer diet" after his three constant foods.  But it's working -- he's lost 30 pounds.)  Our daughter and SIL are both runners and are willing to eat more than Jim does, so it's been fun for me to experiment.

Spent time with friends and are looking forward to doing more of that.

In Boise we took in some sights, including the state capitol (above) and cafes and shops in the towns 8th street area. Boise's population is 214,000 which makes it bigger than Salt Lake.  That surprised me, but Salt Lake City's metro area is larger (969,000 for SLC versus 617,000 for Boise).
The Jackson Building in downtown Boise was kind of cool looking. While in Boise we camped at Boise's Riverside RV Park; it wasn't much as RV parks go (gravel parking spots, cracked cement "porches" as they called the small patios between spaces.)  But we were  right next to the Boise Greenbelt, a 25-mile hiking/biking/walking path that follows the Boise River.
Bev with a sampler tray at Sockeye brewery in Boise. 
My sampler tray when I was all done, presented as proof that I didn't drink all all of them (and Jim drank at least two).  Am I sounding defensive? 
After Boise we spent a night at the Lottie-Dell campground in Snowville, Utah (just five miles from the Idaho border) before heading home.  That's our rig and tow car to the right. We got to Salt Lake at 1:30 the next day; by 3: 30 we'd unpacked and taken the RV back to our storage lot.  We've got the system down -- at least this time.
A neighbor at Lottie-Dell.
Grandson Marshall peering at me through a sliding glass door.
The birthday girl and her birthday breakfast.
Coincidentally there was a "princess party" held on Mia's birthday at a local high school. The kids got a cupcake and a glass of punch, plus a program put on by ten "princesses" including Snow White, Elsa from Frozen, Rapunzel and Tinkerbelle, the latter of which I did not think was a princess, but oh well. I wasn't too excited about the idea of 200 little girls ages 2 to 10 hearing words of wisdom from cartoon princesses.  But they said things like "to be a princess you need to follow your dream, be true to yourself, etc, etc," so the message was better than expected. Kind of like Oprah for kids.
Mia (center front) not paying much attention to a visiting princess.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Crane, Oregon: Crystal Crane Hot Springs

We'd never heard of Crane, Oregon, until we started looking for someplace to camp east of Bend.  Crystal Crane Hot Springs -- 25 miles south of Burns, 3 miles north of Crane, and in Oregon's southeastern corner -- fit the mileage, so we booked a spot for two nights.

Their web site made it sound and look cool, but we had no idea what it would really be like other than it was probably small and definitely out in the middle of nowhere.

Turns out we were right on both those counts. It was also charming with a handful of full hook up RV spots, a lot of dry camping spaces, some small cabins, a few private hot tubs, plus its centerpiece: a good-sized pond heated by hot springs, .

We're not talking fancy, although I read on line that you can arrange for a massage (we weren't offered that service; I'm not sure if massages are still available or we just don't look like massage types.)  Instead, we're talking hot water coming out of plastic pipes into a pond.  Unfortunately, there is a boarded-up, beat-up-small-motel-looking place near the office, and our site's view included a storage yard.  But for the most part it's rustic rather than junky.

During our weekend at Crystal Crane, we saw couples with kids, singles, guys who looked like hunters, people just passing through and a few folks on obvious romantic getaways.  We met a woman whose husband had dropped her off while he went motorcycling; she told us she was reading, soaking, napping and having a great time. That's what we did too (minus the nap but adding TV football watching) with the same result.  
Sunrise view of our campsite, which was on a small hill overlooking the heated pond and the dry camp area.  The rest of the full hook up sites were in a row off the gravel entrance road.  We think we lucked out on the spot.  Cost for full hook-ups:  $25 a night with a two night minimum, plus $3 a night for Cooper.
Day time view of our campsite from a different angle.  Few dry campers were here, so we almost had our area to ourselves. This would be a great place to do something contemplative, like write a book.
The heated pond.  Per the campground, the water contains calcium, sodium, magnesium, silica, iron, and potassium, which is absorbed into the skin during a soak and good for you.  I don't know about that, but sitting in it is pretty nice. I took two early morning dips; Jim took one.
I climbed the ladder on the back of our rig to take this shot of the heated pond and the tiny, cedar-covered cabins that rent for $54 a night.  You can also see a tee pee that has a private hot tub and rents for $55.  We peaked inside and it looks like it's BYO air mattress and sleeping bag.
Jim and the beautiful desolation near Crystal Crane Hot Springs.
After soaking in the "hot pond" and watching the first half of the Ohio State-Maryland game, we decided to visit the nearby town of Crane.  When we got back from the tour, the fourth quarter of the same football game had just started.  In other words, Crane is very small.
View of Crane, Oregon, from an adjoining road. According to the website, Crane's heyday was the early 1900s when the railroad came through.  Back then, Crane had "five restaurants, four hotels, two general merchandise stores, a dance hall, a newspaper, a bank and a movie theater." But a series of fires -- the last in 1938 -- devastated the town.  Today, says the website, there is post office, service station, cafe, tavern, and a local realtor. We saw signs of all of those except the gas station. We also saw small homes, several churches, a rodeo corral, horses, cattle, and farm equipment.
A very cool thing about Crane is its high school, which serves a 7,500 square mile district and includes dorms for kids who live a minimum of 20 miles away.  The school's 100 students come from as far away as 150 miles. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Seems like we've been all over Oregon

We haven’t posted in a while due to limited Internet access and loads of writing inertia.  Time to catch up.
Since our last posting we:
-- Took a trip to McMinnville, Oregon. McMinnville is in the middle of Oregon’s wine country; we must have seen signs for 50 wineries.  It’s a quaint, pretty town and supposedly a UFO was sited there in 1950. It’s also home of a  McMenamins pub that Jim wanted to visit.  Despite the similar sounding names, McMenamins has nothing to do with McMinnville, like I used to think until I became more familiar with Oregon. McMenamins is a company that owns (last time I counted on their web site) 66 pubs/restaurants and 24 breweries in Oregon and Washington. They buy historic buildings, restore them and turn them into pubs and hotels. We’ve been to McMenamins that were previously a Masonic/Eastern Star property, a poor farm, and a bar with Shanghai tunnels.  

--Side note on the McMinnville trip:  On our way there we drove through Newberg, OR, where 9-year-old Herbert Hoover moved to live with an aunt and uncle after his parents died. Hoover's uncle was George Fox, the founder of a Quaker College in Newberg that bears Fox's name.

--Had a belated birthday shopping trip with grandson Owen and said goodbye to the Oregon contingent of our family in Tigard.
--Spent a couple of days in Eugene, where we did brew pubbing, grocery shopping and football watching. 
--Camped at Joseph Stewart State Park south of Crater Lake.  Very pretty, well groomed park on the banks of Lost Creek Reservoir. Since it’s the end of the season and we were mid week campers, probably only a quarter of the sites were full.  Gotta love mid week camping.

--Visited Crater Lake National Park. Crater Lake was formed 7,700 years ago when a volcano named Mt. Mazama erupted and then collapsed, forming a caldera that later filled with water. No rivers feed the lake; it's entirely filled with rain and snow run off. Hiking within the caldera is prohibited in order to prevent erosion and to keep the water pristine.
--Camped at a Thousand Trails Campground south of Bend. We had a heck of a time finding it because -- as we we now know -- there are two locations in Bend with the exact same address but different ZIP Codes. When I plugged the address into our GPS (sans ZIP Code) naturally I got the wrong one.  Once we knew we were lost, I called the campground and was told "Don't use Bend as the city, use Sun River" -- even though their literature and their web site say Bend. Had I looked more closely at their maps, however, I would have realized there was an issue and we would have arrived 50 miles sooner.  The setting is lovely with  huge ponderosa pines, sage, and shrubs that are turning russet and yellow, but the grounds are not very clean so we don't recommend it.  But it worked for two days.

--This afternoon we arrived in Crane, Oregon. If you've never heard of it, neither had we.  Tomorrow we explore.  And probably watch football.
Jim and grandson Owen at the Lego Store in Tigard's Washington Square Mall, where  Owen explained each and every Lego display.  Then he went to the back wall and filled up two big cups with individual Legos as his gift.  After that he went to a counter and made a gun.  His Mom had told us not to get anything with a lot of small pieces and no weapons.  We blew it.
The view from the rooftop bar at the McMenamins in McMinnville (try saying that five times fast) where we had beers and veggie burgers. That's a UFO in the lower center of the pic.  Or it could be a light fixture. This particular McMenamins is called Hotel Oregon.
Jim at the Bier Stein in Eugene, Oregon, which was named one of the top five "Great American Beer Bars" in the country per a craft poll.  Jim was impressed because he could order a second beer from their web site. It was delivered to our table in probably three minutes.
View of Lost Creek Reservoir not far from our campsite at Joseph Stewart State Park. The only bad part of us was that there was no water access for our kayaks from the campground.  But the scenery is great.
Bev on a very green hiking path at Joseph H. Stewart State Park about 35 miles southwest of Crater Lake.We highly recommend this park and actually, any of Oregon's state parks. 
Crater Lake, with Wizard Island in the middle.  At nearly 2000 feet deep, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the US and the ninth deepest lake in the world.