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Crooked River National Grassland – good fun!

May 1 – Woke up to the natural quiet of Crooked River National Grassland’s Haystack Lake campground. What a wonderful sound!

Yesterday, we rose to the hustle and bustle of Bend, OR and the sound of traffic on Rt 97 as well as hail falling on the rv’s roof. During the day, some guy on NPR (National Public Radio) talked about his study on the relationship between a person’s happiness and where they live. He claimed people were most happy living in towns with a population between 70,000 to 150,000. He called this the “sweet spot.” Bend is definitely within this range but for me that “sweet spot” is right here in Haystack Lake campground.
This morning the population of Haystack campground totals four – the host and hostess, Fred and myself. There was a pair of tent campers last night but the cold might have chased them out. It was cold enough for tent campers to wear their “blue jean pj” (a term I used when dressing my children in layers for a cold night back in our tent camping days). I was very glad this morning, when I took the dogs out for their walk, for my winter jacket, wool hat and gloves. It was cold enough this morning that the irrigation sprinklers were leaving a thick coat of ice on everything.

Today we surveyed one of the two developed campgrounds in Crooked River National Grassland (NG). This campground, Skull Hollow, is known as an overflow campground for the nearby Smith Rock State Park. Than we headed for McCoin’s Orchard, a historic landmark. It is too early for the trees to be flowering but we could see their blossoms starting to swell. I think we are a couple of weeks to early all the way around.
You must realize that every NG shares one common trait. They are all composed of former homesteads so have lots of history. The McCoin Orchard is one example of the history found in Crooked River NG. There is also an old cemetery we’ll explore tomorrow and will be on the lookout for popular or cottonwood trees growing in straight lines – a sure sign this is the location where a home once stood.
Crooked River NG is at least ten times the size of Butte Valley NF and where Butte was flat and featureless, Crooked has towering buttes and a few rolling “mountains.” Junipers and sagebrush are the dominate vegetation in both but there seems to be more and larger plants on the Crooked River. Another trait both these grasslands share is a lack of knowledge among the local population. They may know there is a grassland in the area but can’t tell you much about the place. But that’s why we are doing all this work – so you’ll know something about these undiscovered treasures.
May 2 – Mornings like today’s make me really appreciate our rv. Walking outside and sitting a vault’s toilet seat is not something I would relish. The rv may not be toasty warm but at least there is no fear of frostbite on my tussy . Don’t get me wrong, our rv has some annoying design flaws (like the fresh water tank’s release lever is tucked away under the bed in a nearly impossible to reach location, the levels in the black and grey water tanks is unknown since the gauge is completely inaccurate, the shower stall is not designed for a woman to shave her legs without bumping her head, the shower stall doubles as a coat closest so on mornings like this one I’ll be wearing a damp jacket out into the cold, when running the water pump and generator vibrate the whole rv, and getting into and out of the coach’s passenger sit is a challenge, to mention just a few complaints) but not having to run to a vault first thing in the morning when there is frost on the windshield helps me forget all the annoyances an apparently non-rving engineer design into this rv.
Got to the Gray Butte Cemetery. Heard a country-western song that declared, “Everyone dies famous in a small town.” I must say if the care and attention given the folks in the Gray Butte Cemetery is any indication, there are a lot of famous and loved people living around here.
Some observations of the Cemetery: Children, mostly babies, formed the largest ground from this cemetery in its early years. Life must have been hard on women since most of the pre-WWII headstones suggest females were “Called Home” with sad regularity. The veterans, from WWI on, are proud of their service and had it noted on their headstones. Whoever did the earliest headstones (1900 thru 1920s) was an artist. The later ones are beautiful but not as fancy. Next to the headstones reading So-and-so’s Baby (and sometimes a date is given) the saddest headstone was a plaster of Paris pie pan shaped medallion made by a child laying on the ground next to a marble headstone that said, “I love you Grandma.” Amos had the funniest headstone. It gave his name, date of birth and death, and said, “Just another day.”
Next Fred, the “kids,” and I did the Rimrock Springs Wildlife Management Area’s hike. It was a nice little hike through juniper and sagebrush to a wet lands area and then back thru an area with spectacular views of the Three Sisters and a bunch of other snow covered mountains.
Then it was back home and paper work. One of the challenges of being on the road is dealing with the mail. We have it sent to us on the last day of the month and spend the next three or four days dealing with it all. It is rather disheartening to see the stack of bill sitting next to the non-bills. One is always so much taller than the other. But Fred and I put our noses to the grindstone and got thru it all as quickly as possible.
Then, I made a batch of bagels, essential breakfast fare for us while on the road. Then, with the oven nice on hot, made a yummy dinner of Chicken and Fries. It is really easy and super yummy. Here’s the recipe:
Cut boneless chicken into strips (Fred likes breast and I prefer thigh). Put 1/4 cup of mayo into a bowl, jar, or ziplock bag and season to taste with whatever you have on hand (I used teriyaki sauce this time but season salt works and Hoisin sauce is good). Add the chicken and toss to cover. Transfer the coated chicken to a bowlful of crumbs (bread, saltine crackers, Ritz, whatever) and toss to cover. Lightly coat a cookie sheet with spray oil and lay chicken side by side on one side of the sheet. In the remaining area, put frozen “steak-cut” store bought fries in a single layer. Pop into 450 degree oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken’s juices run clear. (If more than two serving is being made follow the directions on the fries package.) Serve with salad or vegetable. Cover the cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper and you’ll have less clean up.
May 3 – Sorry this blog is so long but communications from our campsite isn’t very good. We can’t seem to “hold” a broadband signal long enough to upload this guy and I want to include of photos. Tonight we should be near Seattle so hopefully will be able to take care of this there.
Woke to the sound of rain and an owl call. I knew there was one in the area, the host told us there is a nest with two chicks between our site and theirs, but hadn’t seen or heard anything until this AM. What a sound sad. No wonder the Romans thought owls were a sign of pending death.
Honestly, I could spend hours here at Haystack just listening and watching the birds, especially the raptors. There are so many birds and the variety is amazing. Ralf and I spent about half an hour yesterday sitting on the beach, watching an osprey fishing. It didn’t have much luck but earlier a Golden eagle got a nice trout for its family. Even watching the Canadian geese is a pleasant way to pass time. (Dani knows those geese want to play if we would only let her off the leash.)
Reading If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name by Heather Lende. She is a resident of Haines, Alaska and the book is about life there. Between chapters are pages titled “Duly Noted” with interesting little tidbits. One such tidbit talks about Elizabeth Perartrovich. She sounds like an Alaskan version of MLK and is credited with convincing the territorial legislature to change the laws that banned Native People from public places. Maybe it is time for us to acknowledge all who worked for equality among people and not just a few of the better know. Just a thought.
Time to break camp. I’ll miss the birdwatching here at Haystack Lake campground but we are ready to continue our travels north and see what there is to see in Canada.
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3 thoughts on “Crooked River National Grassland – good fun!”

  1. Ambreen Tariq says:

    the concept of "sweet spot" is new to me but i liked it. as i travel a lot towards california rv parks and know what one occasionally feel with less humans around.

  2. azra munir says:

    i am also doing survey about campgrounds and their history and took alaska campgrounds as my sample and start of the survey. i am fully agreed with you, that the pattern of every NG is same.

  3. Jeff says:

    Enjoyed this posting. I will pick up the book you noted. Looks like a good one.

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Fred and Suzi Dow