Greetings to all,
One might think, after all this time, we wouldn't be surprised by how quickly a month flies by but it always comes as something of a shock when a new month has to be posted on the fridge. The whole month of August was go, go, go and yet we only completed researching the Mt. Hood National Forest. Okay, a huge chunk of Willamette and Deschutes National Forests were completed but we must wait until September to check them finished.
We started August in a pretty "little" forest service campground on the Clackamas River in the Mt Hood National Forest. For a couple of green-deprived people, it was like being transported to another world. After weeks and weeks of being in stand after dusty stand of Ponderosa pine, the whole shady moist green of the Douglas fir, maple, and hemlock woods was a delight. Lichen clung to the rough Douglas fir bark giving it a fur coat. The towering hemlock showered us with little dried golden needles. And the maples' trunks were wrapped in a carpet of thick moss. It was glorious.
We should mention, those maples aren't like those you see back east. These maples grow multiple trunks and have a spindly appearance. They don't reach the same height as eastern maples but have a more delicate shape. In some places, these maples have the spooky look of a giant woodland spider, while in other locations, they remind Suzi of a cluster of young ballerinas gathered waiting to got on stage. Plus, unlike the red fall color of eastern maples, Oregon's maple turns a pale gold with the colder weather.
The other notable area we enjoyed in August was Metolius River in the Deschutes National Forest. This river springs forth from a hole hidden in the side of a unimpressive hillside. It flows cold and clear and fast for miles. While the forest along the Clackamas River is cool and shady and supports a wide variety of trees, the Metolius River banks feature Ponderosa pine with meadows of tall grass and wildflowers. Once a hugely popular fly fishing river, Oregon Fish and Wildlife no longer stocks it so the Metolius River is now considered a major "technical" fly fishing spot. Only the most experienced anglers have any success on this river but that's okay since most people come simply to enjoy the Metolius's unparalleled beauty.
After Deschutes, we headed back to the Willamette. Although we did find a couple of pleasant spots, overall the Willamette National Forest was a disappointment. We aren't sure exactly why, it could be simply burnout, but the last couple of weeks of August in the Willamette (pronounced wil-lam-et) weren't a great deal of fun.
One thing we have had trouble dealing with is the driving style of Oregonians. The people of Oregon are pleasant, gracious, and friendly until they get behind the wheel of their vehicles. They tailgate, speed, and pass where ever! There is a law in Oregon requiring "slow moving vehicle use pull outs." So, here we are, driving the speed limit, with one or two vehicles behind us. Are we are suppose to pull out so the other drivers can go faster than the speed limit and perhaps run off the road and down one of the many cliffs that line the roadways in Oregon!?!?! And such a scenario doesn't even consider the problems of putting a 31-foot plus towed vehicle into a gravel pull-out and than returning to the paved roadway from a dead stop with traffic zipping by. We are told that is exactly what we are to do. This doesn't produce a relaxing drive. Lack of police on the road may lead to this undisciplined and sometimes reckless driving.
We must say the roads in Oregon have, for the most part, been outstanding. They use proceeds from their state lottery to finance road construction and maintenance and from the number of construction projects we have driven through, the lottery must be doing well. (It seems every bridge in the state in under repair or being rebuilt.) Now, although there are lots of new road surfaces providing a smooth ride in Oregon, RVrs learn early on to open cabinets slowly and with care the first day at a new campsite. Suzi forgot this lesson one morning and lost a nearly full bottle of Worcestershire sauce. Out it fell from the cabinet above the sink, bounced on the floor, breaking off the bottle's bottom, the flavorful liquid making a graceful arch through the air and the bottle coming to rest next to were Dani was peacefully sleeping. For the next several days we had an RV that smelled like a batch of stew simmering away and a brown poke-a-dotted green carpet, but an important lesson was re-enforced.
After twelve years of doing this project, burnout is a consideration. You probably see us driving from here to there, having picnic lunches under a shady cover of towering trees, and taking long leisurely walks through the woods with weekends spent sleeping in and reading light material. The reality is we are working everyday, seven days a week, on some aspect of our project and it is tiring. This year our "at the RV" workload has divided itself roughly along these lines: Suzi puts the newly collected information into the database while Fred converts it into the web format while taking care of email from readers. Email by itself takes up hours and never seems to end. There is more to be done (like make dinner, do laundry, keep the rig maintained, pay bills, etc) but email, data entry, and picture selections seem to take up most of our time. Our "days off" are those days when we move from here to there and have to deal with the driving habits of the local population. Yep, we are tired.
Well, in September we have another four campgrounds to survey in the Willamette NF, about twenty more in the Deschutes NF, half a dozen in California's Mendocino NF and then we head back to Bisbee. This year we are very much ready to get home and have a break in this routine.
Until next month,
Suzi and Fred