Friday, July 21, 2017

Sand Dunes to More Central OR

So now that I got the Christmas Valley Sand Dunes off my list, next stop is the Crack in the Ground, Green Mountain CG, Hole in the Ground and to Les Schwabs for a Rim fix, yep, blew a rim, and tire of course and back to Green Mtn for the 4th of July.  Not a big fan of Fireworks and Green Mtn was a good choice.

Main Gallery Pics here
Crack in the Ground, Christmas Valley, OR
Green Mountain, Christmas Valley, OR
Hole in the Ground, Christmas Valley, OR

Who knew....
I didn't till I started looking around..

Crack in the Ground is a volcanic fissure over two miles (3 km) long and up to 70 feet (21 m) deep in central Oregon.

Short hike from the parking lot, and then down into the Abyss.. heheh,
No one has ever returned (jk)...

A little over the rocks, mostly it's a path and you can work around them.

It was a warm day, and dropping down into the Abyss, it was actually quite cool,  as nice change.

Blue sky above...

It was interesting to see/walk, fun eh?

I suppose if you heard a "Rumble" you might want to seek high ground ASAP??

A shaded table is nice, the entrance is right ahead, the dark spot in pic.  Gradual path downward.

So, that was interesting.  I didn't go all the way as it's pretty much the same, rock walled..

Next to find a campsite.
I read that a Green Mountain is nearby and it's also posted on the billboard in the Crack's parking lot.

So "Hi-Ho, Hi-ho, down the dirt road we go"..

Dirt road is good, watch for overhead branches but basically good to go.
Just stay on the main road until it (Nav) tells you to turn.  Head for the Look out station up on the hill.

As you approach, I got a little confused (and lost since I'm good at it) but you want to go to the Campground Look out view..

(Lost, went up the Lookout's road, luckily able to turn around)

I figured it was just a "Viewpoint" and not the campground proper, as, not a big surprise here, Ms Garmin said the CG was just around the corner, sort of.

Limited spots, apx 7 or so, Dry of course, but the price was right, Free.  I was the only one there for a few days which was nice.  Watch for low branches, I had to back up as they were a little too low.

(It's a small loop)

And I couldn't fit in, low branches, into the spot, luckily there was a space along the side what worked well.  Remember, Sun for Solar, Clear for 'The DISH'  and level, sorta.  Had Internet, so all was good.

(low branches)

Great views of the 'Ho-ho-ho, Green Valley' and nice breeze to keep bugs away.

A nice CG, and quiet.  I spent a few days there and then came back for the 4th, was filling up then so it's not completely isolated.

perfect spot for me...

and some good sunsets.  Would be kewl to watch a storm blow through.

.... and the Look Out tower is a short path up the hill.  I was told if the sign says open you can go to the top for views with the ranger there.  I didn't, but others did.

Onward to the "Hole in the Ground".

(It's steeper than it looks)

I was planning on staying a night here, reportedly there was some camping space a little further south of the Vista area.  There was a spot or two at the vista area that could be used, but watch out for the rocks and "Clearance, Clarence".

(Note big rock)
 I landed right on the rock and it carried the Differential and tires just spun. Front 4wd couldn't pull it off.  Luckily I had the Levelers and jammed them under the tire and was able to get off, so watch those rocks...

But Wait...., there's more...

Meanwhile at the vista, nice view and where camper is now could be considered a camping spot.

There are several ways to in there, Ms Garmin led me in and kept telling me to turn Left.. Right into a tree..  The problem is that there are so many offshoot roads, some ok, some overrun by brush that it's hard to tell.

Once at the vista, figured time to find/check out the Supposedly Camping site.
the road, or more like a Path, runs a little below the rim and on around the hole.

The "Path" was a narrow one for the rig, but just right along the edges of the road...  heheh, wait for it....

Rocks along the side... Wait for it...

(Front tires just along the edge, dually tires a little over the edge)
Coming into the camping area, only 1 spot that I might fit, unlevel and a little tricky to get into.  The others are low branches and wouldn't fit due to height.

Continuing along the narrow road.. to get outta here.  Ms Garmin indicated a road to lead back to the Hwy. (see below)

Do you see a road??? Looked like Turnaround.. so got out and walked it...
Sure enough, there's a road just this side of the tree... Score one for Ms Garmin.

and proceeded down.  Narrow road, too narrow and once in the woods, low branches and no place to turn around, sigh, not a good day.  But wait, there IS more...

Coming back down into the woods..

So I finally got back onto the Highway and just figured, to Hell with it all, go back to the Secret Camping spot on the river and hope I can find a place.  It's been crowded there.  So drove along the highway, so 30-40 miles, around the average 63 mph  (sweet spot for MPG) and then onto the 2 mile dirt road to the camping sites.

There was one, perfect.  Got out to figure the lay of the land, Solar, DISH, Levelness.  And then I saw it...  (This is the "Wait for It" moment)..

Holy Krap....
I'd been driving on that since the Hole.
Tire was flat, obviously, Well Duh!!!... next stop, Les Schwab's,  apx 10 miles, two back on dirt and it was, of course 4:30pm...

At first, I was afraid the tire would come off, and the rim would do something, no idea what, but then said to myself, "Self, you've been riding it from the Hole, so you're probably ok and the 3500 single wheels can carry the Fox's weight, so should be good to go." Just Cruised at apx 40mph, flashers on to Uncle Les's.

As I pulled into Schwab's just as were closing, asked to spend nice in back parking lot, ok.  I originally got a spare with the truck just couldn't carry it so I needed to "Drive" down to Storage apx 12mi, pick up the spare, drop some bins  to make room for it, drive back up and they would swap it out..  For Free, gotta luv Les Schwabs.  I added a tire rotation as they hadn't been rotated for some 40k miles, so $60 later, I'm outta there.  Could have been a lot worse, I was lucky.

Spent the night a Gordy's Truck Stop, good for One-Niters, till I could figure out where to next.  As it turned out, back to the River spot..

Till the next one.  Hanging out here till, I guess, WY for the Eclipse..

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Goose Lake, OR to Christmas Valley Sand Dunes, OR

Heading further NW to the PNW, not in any hurry, looking for stops along the way and off the beaten tracks.
(New project for a Map.  Show spots I've been to, click on the icon to bring up 4 pics, brief descriptions and links at the bottom of the popup box - still a work in progress  so might be a little confusing)

See full screen

Main Gallery Pics here.
East Bay, Thompson Res, Silver Lake, OR
Bend, OR Area
Sand Dunes, Xmas Valley, OR

Found several places along Hwy 31 that looked interesting and cheap.

Ended up at East Bay CG on the Thompson Reservoir for a few days.  NFS with the "Old Geezer Pass" it was like $5night, Dry, no hook ups.  It's paved all the way in, longer drive.

I was planning on staying at another CG, and drove right past the turnoff, thank you "Ms Garmin" my "Arch Nemesis" when out in the wilds.

I couldn't turn around so had to keep going and Voila', there was the turn off to the one I had originally looked at, East Bay.  I wanted a "Room with a View" and lucked out with a spot on the Lake front, sorta.. I could see the lake.

Sites a little uneven, but managed.  BKTs were starting up, Mosquitos, kids etc.. so looking like Summer as arrived.  They had the Yellow Jack Traps, luckily.. but still...

It's a nice park, mainly for Fisher Peeps...  boat launch and fishing from shore and launch area, backing up trailers etc.. not too bad.

I had to run the Generator as the trees were blocking the solar, so run it apx 2-hrs in the morning and 2-hr around 5-6pm or so, to lessen the noise level at nights.

The sunsets were nice at times.

After a few days, started getting antsy so time to head on out.  Just as I was packing up, a man came by asking for a "Jump" as his battery wasn't turning the truck over.

Finished packing and headed over to his place right outside of the campgrounds.  Had I know this spot was there, I'd have used it.

Nice and it was free.

Got my little battery pack out that rarely gets used, but like a fire extinguisher, it's "Not needed until it's needed"...  didn't do a thing, figured it was charged enough, although showing med charged, so he had some cables to hook up.

Got'em hooked up, Nada, nothing, just a click.

To make a Short Story Long, it was a fuse, so after experimenting, he under the truck hot wiring the starter, and then realizing it's electrical, move one 30 amp fuse from something else and popped it in.  Truck started and was good to go.

I asked if he would like me to hang around, 'No, not needed, still has to pull/load a boat..." so let him go.  My good deed for the day and help pay back/forward the help I got when stuck in sand over in Anvil, Flaming Gorge, WY ..

 Luckily, REAL lucky I was on that one that he was able to pull me out........

I really need to get a winch and self-rescue krap...

Then on to La Pine, OR, stayed a night a the "Gordy's Truck Stop.

Next day, headed out to my "Secret Spots" to see if they were occupied or not.

They were occupied so I ended up on a hill, not too bad, but like it a little closer to the water.

After staying a few days to let the weekend, End, and peeps move out, had to go into town for the basics and then check out the sites again.

All were occupied, so found another one that worked out well..

Stayed a week there, it's usually 7-days before I need to do Dump N Fills and makes for a good time to move.

Later, had laundry to do so stayed at La Pine, SP, which was FULL save 3 sites.  Bagged one, went to do laundry, came back and sign said it was FULL.. Yikes, thank Gawd I got my site earlier...

Stayed the night so I could dump n fill, then headed out to Christmas Valley Sand Dunes.

I've always wanted to check it out, when buggy riding so since I was in the area, thought WTF Over, check it out... so I did.. heheh, sigh, I need a life...

There are sorta, 3 main camping areas and the sand where I was, was hard packed.  I wouldn't venture too far off the beaten path, but it was fine.

Dirt road is fine, no problem-o, just be careful going down some of the off shoots.

Sand was getting a little too soft so turned around, but you can press on.

After exploring 2 of the 3 sites, came back to the middle one and parked it.

The dunes were perfect, only one or two drivers in the whole area.  Virgin Sand and a huge area to play around with .  A few steep ones but most were just fun "dunning"..

I hiked up to the top of this one to get a good view of the overall area.

... and goes beyond the first hill you see..

Virgin Sand, no Woops or Ruts.. Sweet...

Two guys were sand surfing... well, trying to, sand wasn't cooperating..

and then the sand sticks.. OOPS... heheh, that's about as far as they got.

and "I don't need no Stink'n Buggy..." to make tracks...

The Juniper Trees were really something to see..  sturdy they were.

So, it's a nice place, really need a buggy to enjoy it.  The winds will pick up and it's pretty much a dust/sand storm.  So headed  out after a few days, next stop, Crack in the ground after going by Fort Rock..
(actually, Ft Rock is after going west, of the sand dunes. No camping right there)

You can hike up and around

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Washoe, NV to Goose Lake, OR

Soooo… Plans change…

I was “Planning” on heading over to the coast and go up as I did last year, starting at Ft Bragg, CA, hitting the ocean bluffs at Westport,
(Westport Union Station, CA - bluffs)
and then back roads, aka ‘Dirt Roads’,  along the coast with various stops up to Oregon and then back to Central Or for supply re-configs.

(Route planning along the dirt road coast)

 I did the Humboldt Redwoods last time.  Interesting to see, really nice drive, but not needing to go through it again, plus camping was some $35+ night, dry, so not on the itinerary.

There’s not much BLM (Free) camping some NFS sites (cheaper with the Old Geezer Pass)  along the coast, so had to forego do this at this time, not to mention fuel expenses..

Canada trip appears to be out as of right now and not really sure where I’ll be heading off to next.  I seem to be going in the wrong direction on trip planning.  First had to canx Alaska and now Canada and worse, canx the coast.   It’s more along the lines of just "Doing Time" like at the “Q” (Quartzsite, AZ) I’ll try to find a “Free Place” somewhere around the PNW. or further East.  Not sure yet, changes daily.

So, with that said, re-routed to north NV and into OR.

Washoe SP, NV , just north of Carson City, NV, is nice and I like it.  It’s quiet and clean and  you have view of the mountains.  It’s also close to Carson city, up and over a little pass for City stuff access.

 While at $17 for dry camping, it had Internet & Dish, it’s a nice setup.  Unfortunately, that $17 starts adding up after a few days.  Sometimes you just get tired and say, WTF, Over, and spend a few days like an “R & R” and rethink options.

Stopped by the BLM area office near Mounds, NV for maps on where the “Free Camping” areas are.

Not much help, one location off Hwy 50, just West of Dayton, NV and another one South of Carson City, East off HWY 395 apx ~10 miles?. I didn’t go there, seemed sort of a residential area, but noted it just in case.

(BLM - Dayton did have some nice cloud n sunsets at times)

Had some chores to do, like truck oil change, Laundry, haircut (getting pretty shabby I was) and of course doing Dump N Fills.  I found the Dump N Fill at the Dayton SP there at $7 worked well.  Not crowded and right off the Hwy 50 east of the Mega Metropolis, Dayton, NV

FYI:  Diesels
I chose a Diesel truck over a gas truck for many reasons, longevity, power/torque, payload/ towing etc…

This being my first “Diesel” truck, RAM 5500 HD Turbo Diesel, I didn’t have a clue on maintenance etc..  figured it would be pretty close to a Gas one, oil changes, transmissions fluids etc…

But Whoa.. heheh, a painful learning curve.

Typical oil change 10-15k max, I figure 10k w/synthetic, runs about $130-$200 depending upon dealer and “IF” they can do a 5500 as compared to a 3500.  Heavier truck, they don’t have the “Lifts” to lift it etc. so not only do you have the expense of fluids, you have to make sure the dealer (keeping it under the warranty) CAN do it and then the question is do I have to “Off Load” the camper.  Usually, the bigger dealers have larger bays, for the bigger trucks and RV Diesel Pushers, the ‘Big Boy’ Coaches  in RV-land, that allow for the camper to stay on, but all these things need to be thought about as compared to just running into a Jiffy Lube and say “Change the oil” for $40 or whatever.

You also have to plan ahead when you start getting closer to the change time as to where you are, where you will be and will you be there at a ‘Doable Dealer’ when it’s due.  While I try to email the dealers, most don’t bother to respond so a phone call is needed and I hate phones.

(BLM west of Dayton, NV)
It’s also the fear of something else that needs servicing.  While I got the “Extended Warranty” to help cover the costs of repairs after the normal warranty, there’s still scheduled stuff.  I had to get oil changed in Galveston, TX, figuring $200 but it was time (30k miles) for the Transmission fluids and 4x4 servicing… anyway ran it up to some $1300 later so it’s always a crap shoot on costs.  Broke the Bank on that one, still trying to recover.  But it’s like, if you don’t service it, you’ll pay more in the end and possibly void the warranty, which I definitely can’t afford to do..

Diesels are and can be expensive to maintain IMNSHO as the next big ‘Known costs’ will be the fuel injectors at some $2000 at 60k miles plus, I suspect another Transmission and Oil change added to that..  Currently have apx 39k miles on it.

So, just say’n..   Not cheap like gassers.  But?, I figure it’ll be the last truck I’ll own, so plan on using it to it’s fullest and it’s performed admirably.  If I had to do it again, I’d do the 5500 diesel.  No sway in the winds, it’s not a rocket, but it will accelerate on inclines.  It’s the same Engine/Trans as the 3500 only governed and geared down for longer use.  Max speed is 85/87 mph due to the governors.  It’s a work truck and built to last the long haul. You want to 'Drag Race" it, get a gasser.....

Anyway, got it changed at the Carson City Dealer, was quick n easy, 1-hr and just the cost of the change and a broken emergency brake handle, came to apx  $230 which puts a dent into the bank account.

(View from BLM-Dayton, NV)
Got the haircut, Great Clips or whatever the haircut chains happen to be in the area, hit Walmart for supplies and headed out to the BLM in Dayton.  

(Wild horses wandering by - signs on highway posts to watch for them)
I was able to do Dump N Fills at the Dayton SP there for $7 and the guy is watching it carefully.  Apparently there’s  a casino in Carson where you can do it for some $10, I just figured Dayton works.

(Camping? heheh, BLM-Dayton, NV)
After that, got setup on the BLM for a few days.  Not  the best of places, most sites, if you want to call them that, have trash around it and ant hills.  Ants/bugs?? heheh, you may laugh, but I just found some “Piss Ants” that I picked up from Galveston, TX last Oct and a fellow traveller had “Stink Bugs” from Michigan that he was still finding, alive, when down at the “Q” so a word to the wise, spray the tires/ground contacts and keep the hoses/power cords off the ground if you see them.  

(Ant cones, all over the place)
I just found an off dirt road and pulled off to the side.  Not too much traffic and a few hunters with shotguns shooting rabbits or anything that shines, cans/bottles etc.  Did see some wild horses that came by and there are signs along the roads, flashing, wild horse crossings.. Heheh, along with some, A-hem, “Bunny” signs…..  Apparently they have some great little Bunnies at their “Bunny Ranches”... But, I wouldn’t know about that, I’m still worrying about the basics, “FFB”s...

Windy most of the time, so no outdoor sitting cooking, just sat in a holding pattern for time.

Since I wasn’t able to do the coast, I figured I’ll just head north and started routing it.  The RVTrip Wizard is  a great help in that you can filter the site locations down to BLM/NFS and it’ll show you what’s along the route.  Have to be careful on the National Forest Services (NFS) in the sites might not have opened yet.  

(Sunset Crater, AZ - closed till May)

Several times, as have noted in the past, I’ve come to the front gate only to show it’s “Closed” not open till May/June depending on schedule.  Also, that the NFS is sometimes just 4-6 spots for “Tents Only”, no RVs/Trailers etc.  While, technically speaking, I”m just a “Truck’ in length, apx 23’ there’s usually lower trees, side bushes etc that would make it very difficult if not impossible not to mention “Levelness”.  The idea being cars can park on a slant and the tent sites are behind a log/stone/rock barrier that’s reasonably level. So have to watch for that in the descriptions or reviews.

So, leaving Carson/Dayton, I was looking at the next stop at Humboldt Wildlife Reserve, BLM.  Found it, long dirt road and ponds/lakes and cows right on the sides.

Campsite was 'Krap'.. literally full of ‘Cow Krap’, small, about the size of 2-3 campsites open field, the camping area, not the “Cow Pies”.

(Designated Campsites)
I was hoping that further on down there’ would be something a little better.. Like at the boat landing.

There was an observation deck, thought about staying there, but went down to the landing a few hundred yards down the road.  

(Boat launch area)

A little bigger, but, oh, did I mention Bugs??? YIKES !!.. I originally just thought they were gnats etc… but Nooooo…  Mosquitoes… ‘ the Billions and Billions of them..’ as Carl Sagan used to say.  Swarms of them… and that ain’t gonna work, so left.

Next stop was Rye Dam Reservoir, Lovelock, NV, that had some nice reviews, but $$.  Not really much choice.  Went there, several camping areas as I later discovered.  The lower West side was closed along the river bank due to high river levels so it was pretty much “Bush Camping” no real Room with a View..  It looked like you could camp up in the gravel area 'Free', didn’t see any fees for that, course it’s after the fact.

(Top of Rye Dam)
It’s a nice campground area, below the dam.  Some river view sites and more in the closed area.

It was ok, wouldn’t plan on spending any time there though.

(looking down from above at the campsite area)
Next stop was Water Canyon, just south of Winnemucca, NV.   (I use , for finding these, it's a good one to use). You go into Winnemucca and then catch a road going up the hills to the south.  Paved for the residential part then to dirt.

(sorta camped in the "Group Campsite")
It’s a fav with the locals and ATVS and Raptors..  Racing up and down (dust clouds) not to mention the regular traffic.

I drove up a little ways and then started getting nervous on being stuck or unable to turn around and really just figuring it’s more of the same, so turned around and chose something Easy-Peasy..

(Group site but has a view and the basics, Internet/DISH/Solar)
The group site I guess.  Did I mention the traffic AND the dust… it’s there, constantly…  I arrived on a Friday so experienced the joy of the weekend traffic. Sun, Internet and DISH are all qualifiers in picking sites. Back in the canyon was covered so not having them available.

Stayed for a few days and then ready to move on. Surprisingly nice sunsets. I wasn't expecting that.

Routing next stop was just apx 10mi north of Winnemucca, NV, to the Sand Dunes there with Free camping, and thought I might as well check those out.  I’ve driven by it many times, never really checked out.

(Up and over the hill from the Hwy 95 - west)
Since it is a locally well known area for “Buggies” I checked out RiderPlanets description.   It mentioned Sand Hill Pass Rd so headed for that one.  As I was going past the dunes along the Hwy 95 I figured it was there.  And true to form, my ‘Arch Nemesis - Ms Garmin’ had No idea much less where the road was until you come up to it.

(looking East back towards the Hwy 95 area)
Went past the dunes from the road, several miles and I’m thinking, “This ain’t right..” but then the Road shows up, so turned onto it, way past the visual dune area next to Hwy 95 and not seeing any RV/Toy Haulers at all… Road shows it going up the mountains pass, so figured it must be over the hills… I had it all wrong as the dunes would be over the hills.

Yep, there are dunes there. Not big ones, but a fairly large area.

(Looking top of hill West, towards the over the hill dunes)
Went down the road towards them looking for a sign to the staging area… none to be found.  I did see one road, narrow and sandy that might have been it, but was a little to tricky to try, so back over the hill, back to Hwy 95 heading south and looked up the real directions to the dunes.  

(Only road I saw that sorta lead to the Western Dunes)

A couple of hundred feet/yards past McRae Rd one the west side of Hwy 95… found it, turned in and there it is.  Apx 100’ from the Hwy 95, through a small, narrow cattle guard.

(Entrance to main dunes right off of Hwy 95)
Small camping/staging area with a larger one up a small incline, like a steep driveway.. But???   Soft Sand.  So stayed put, did a “Walk-about” and figured this ain't’ gonna work.

(Incline up to larger camping/staging area.. if you can get up it without being stuck)
Headed back to the Hwy 95, 100 ft or so, and headed north to Hwy 140 looking for a boonie campsite, Onion Reservoir and that turn off sign said was still closed.  

Now what to do??
I was looking to hit the Onion Reservoir off of Hwy 140 but as it came close to the 14mi dirt road, wasn't looking forward to that, it was posted as "Closed". I didn't care to drive it to verify it, but guessing you could still camp there.

(Sand Dunes Larger camping/staging area)
Looked up online, this is why internet is crucial while on the road, and found something near by.  Drove to it, the Dufurrena Ponds, Virgin Valley Camp, NV (current typing this location - no internet/Cell) and stayed 3 nights, free.

The 'Ponds' weren't too bad, people there were coming and going and a few longer term. One couple from Redmond, OR were there riding a RZR around the area had been doing it for several years, apparently some good trails there.

The pond is a 'Hot (well, warm anyway) spring'

With 2 continuous showers in the stone building there.

Next stop, tomorrow is Goose Lake, CA or OR, dunno, but figure I can catch up on Internet and do a Dump N Fill before heading out towards Bend, OR.

I have some warranty work that needs to be done on the Camper and figure out where to go after that.  Also to check in with the VA for meds and annual checkup.

I thought I’d explore the Christmas Valley, Fort Rock, OR area, haven’t been there, so why not, other than the “Duners” and their buggies racing about, but figure if I can stay on the perimeter, all won’t be so bad.   And, Yes, I still see a buggy in the future, just have no idea on how yet.  

(Goose Lake doesn't have a 'View' of the lake, more like a green grass park)

Warning: Whine session to follow...

The whole “Retirement Thang” was based on the idea of Buggy riding around the states.  

(XP 1000 Nellie - Lost Pines Rally, ID 2014)
I’d have the truck camper setup and tow a buggy in a trailer, ideally 7x14 enclosed with an XP1k Trail/Rock buggy, but I had the ACE 900 in an open trailer and that worked, better than nothing.  

But the idea was to just hit the various rallies,like the Taylor Park RZR Rally, CO, and ORV locations in various States and Canada.

The flat bed was for hauling the "Buggy" from a campsite to a 'Staging Area" if need be. Thus the winch on the Flatbed under the headboard.

(ACE 900 - bed is 10' to allow the XP 1k buggies)

Ramps slid in under the bed, though a little steep to drive up.

(Ramps are a little steep, need the longer ones - so winch works)

That was the “Whole purpose and Game Plan of the Truck camper and retirement”

(ACE 900 Li'l Nel - Top of trail some Mountain, no idea what one it was)
Since that didn’t last, due to $$$ loss, I’m sorta at a loss on what to do.  As I’ve mentioned before maybe “Photo-ing” waterfalls.  I dunno, but the Buggy thing was the point of concentration, so now just sorta wandering around like a loose cannon and limited on travels.  Not fun.  Feel sorta lost.

(Taylor Park, CO  RZR Rally)
Anyway, onward to the next stop, we’ll see what the future does,  maybe “Pigs will fly” and I’ll hit the Lotto.. Heheh sigh, sad that is the only solution…
Whine over.


(Sunset at Water Canyon, Winnemucca, NV)