Into Oregon

Thursday, September 3, 2009
La Grande, OR.

We're camped in La Grande, OR. tonight, under the biggest full moon I've seen in a while. The drive from Caldwell was just under 150 miles -- an easy day for us considering the mileage of the past few days. To recap, a week ago we were lolli-gagging at Fort Robinson in Western Nebraska. In that week, we're driven 1,043 miles in 5 legs. As Dar likes to say, "We've been bookin' it!"

Well, we're here at Eagles Hot Lake RV Park just south of La Grande. With the last big weekend of the summer upon us, we're going to hide out here until the smoke clears. Most fulltimers dread, to some extent, those big three day weekends of the summer -- campgrounds can be full to overflowing, kids and dogs running uncontrolled, every campsite seems to have a big smoky campfire. Don't get me wrong... these people deserve every moment of their long weekend in the woods. They probably work their butts off 50 weeks a year and they need to take advantage of those few, precious, long weekends. But we really prefer the quieter times and seek out places, like this, that won't attract the big celebratory weekend crowd.

The route for the drive today was simple, I-84 all the way. I'd driven this route many times when we lived in Vancouver 15 or 20 years ago, but I'd forgotten how much mountain driving was involved. Not huge mountains, but plenty of long climbs and descents, winding roads carved into very narrow valleys between hills, chain-up areas, and, winds. It was one of those drives that kept your attention. There was no tendency to "nod off" due to boredom.

As we descended into the La Grande area, the Navigator (that'd be Dar today), suggested taking an early exit from I-84 which, according to her map, would shave a few miles off our drive to the campground. We voted, it was a tie, so the Safety Director (that'd also be Dar) broke the tie in favor of taking the early exit. The good news was we did, in fact, save a few miles and probably some diesel fuel. The bad news was that this alternate route was a gravel road made from the dustiest gravel known to man. Man-O-Man! I drove as slow as I could but the toad wasn't even visible in the rear camera for all the dust. It was bad.

When we pulled into the RV Park, and the dust cloud behind us started to abate, people came from all around to look at the dustiest, dirtiest camper they've ever seen. Some were even a bit surprised when a car appeared, attached to the back of the bus-house, as the dust settled. Oh Man, we had a mess.

But Intrepid Explorers take things like this in stride. As soon as we parked in our campsite, Dar had the buckets out, I grabbed hoses, brushes, and soap, and we were on it like a pit bull on a T-bone steak. In the next few hours everything, and I do mean everything, got a wash job. The bus-house now looks squeaky-clean, as does the poor dragged around toad. Even the bikes got a good goin' over, and a lube job to boot.

We're tired but making plans for the next few days explorations. There's a lot to see and do in and around La Grande. And there's a great swimming pool here at the RV Park that we can use too. We're now within striking distance of our goal as Portland is a mere 250 miles down I-84. We have a reservation at our RV Park in Vancouver, WA for Monday, Labor Day, so we'll try to make the drive in early while all the weekenders are still taking those last laps around the lake on the jet-ski.

More tomorrow...



Slightly Better than Most