Saturday, June 14, 2014

June 14 - We're on the Road Again

Portland area to Wildcat Creek CG near Prineville OR
180 miles

Today marks the beginning of what we’ve been calling Sabbatical II. For us that term, “Sabbatical II” was meaningful as a demarker of the difference between our travels and explorations with the bushouse over the last 7 years, and this new travel style with the small camper as we move into the future. It served a purpose for us as we living “Sabbatical I” but were planning for “Sabbatical II”.

However, now that we’re more or less underway, I hope the use of that term fades away. Dar and I are still just plain old “on Sabbatical”... we’re just doing it a slightly different way. In the future we may well have other rigs or contraptions we use to see and do what we want, but it’s all going to be just an extension of what we started 7 years ago next month.

This past Friday was our Grandson Ryan’s birthday so we made sure our plans for heading back to Wisconsin included stopping in Camas to help him celebrate. It was a big day that included an hour or two at one of those warehouses filled with trampolines that kids really dig, dinner at the Spaghetti Factory (his choice, and a favorite I might add), and a small intimate party before turning in for the night. We enjoyed it immensely and were happy we could be there.

Today, Saturday, we got the show on the road about Noon. Route today was out I-84 to a convenient slip through Gresham traffic (busy) to US-26 east, also called the Mt. Hood Highway. Interestingly, something called the Mt. Hood Expressway or Freeway was on the drawing boards back in the 60s and 70s, envisioned as an Interstate-standard route (four lanes and all) that went east out of the Portland area to (and over?) Mt. Hood. It was eventually killed -- but not before about 10 miles of it was built. Those few miles of Interstate-like roadway are still there, having been incorporated into US-26. If you know the story a person can bore their friends with it on the way to the mountain.

US-26 is one of a small number of routes through the Oregon Cascade Mountains. It’s humbling to know that even today there are only a handful, 7 or 8 routes (and some of them are closed in the Winter) that can get you to the “other side”. US-26 carries travelers over the flanks of Mt. Hood, Oregon’s tallest peaks, and down the other side into Ponderosa forests and, eventually, the high desert of eastern Oregon.

Our Noon departure, without having much for breakfast, had us looking for some place for a late lunch as we ascended Mt. Hood. Ended up stopping in a town called Zigzag (no kidding) at the Barlow Road House. Although a little more expensive than we’d like it was time to fill that void.

Weather today was cloudy so we never saw the top of Mt. Hood despite being on the side of it. Things cleared somewhat as we descended the eastern side, so a few peaks (Mt. Jefferson most prominently) were visible further south in the Cascade Range. As is normal, the sun asserted itself on the eastern side and there was about an equal mix of sun and clouds the rest of the way.

Just east of Prineville we took a sideroad to the north… which started as asphalt but quickly turned to gravel… and about 10 miles back found the Wildcat Creek Campground, a small NFS facility of about a dozen sites. Even though it was a weekend night we were a little surprised that more than half the sites were occupied. We found a spot we liked right along Wildcat Creek and settled in for our first camp of Sabbatical II.

It turned out to be just what we were looking for. You see, there is no electric power at all to this campground… that means no courtesy or security lights blazing in your window. Cell phones won’t work out here. Water? There’s a well with a manual pump if you run short. Trash? No dumpsters so you gotta pack it out when you leave.

So, how did it go with the little camper? Actually pretty darn good… about like we were hoping it would be. It’s a really small space that requires a bit of choreography and two flexible people… both physically and mentally flexible… to manage everything that needs doing. In regards to traveling, driving, with it… it’s a breeze. We were looking for “nimble” and I think that word best describes what we’ve got.