Saturday, May 27, 2017

Reininger Winery, Walla Walla, Washington;Dent Acres COE, Idaho; Wilderness Gateway, Lochsa River, Idaho; Missoula, Salmon Lake State Park, and Great Falls, Montana

Leaving Plymouth COE campground in Washington state, Jan and I cross back over the Columbia River to Umatilla, Oregon for some grocery shopping. From there it is an easy connection to Route 730 and following the Columbia River to Route 12 east.
By the way, this section of our trek included , perhaps, the most time spent with no access to phone, internet, and even sometimes, satellite radio and GPS.
 Shortly after entering Washington state again, we turn east on Route 12 while the Columbia River turns back west and then north towards Canada(upstream).  Along the way , we stop in Walla Walla for our last wine tasting at Reininger Winery. Walla Walla was once mostly known for its sweet onions(Thank you Scott)--still being grown there. But now, it is perhaps known better as a great wine producing valley. Over the last few decades wine producing has grown to well over 200 vineyards. Their name wines are strictly from Walla Walla valley. And they also produce Helix wines which are from grapes from the larger Columbia River valley.
 Another visit with interesting discussions about soil and climate. 
Here in the tasting room , the counter is made from local basalt-the top polished to a high degree.  The front of the counter is made from woven grape vines--first softened in water.
 Besides the normal wines like Chardonnay, Rose, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot; they also had some blends that were quite unusual.  One, their red blend called CPR, was a blend of 7 varieties of grapes from 8 vintages.
 Not too far past Walla Walla we made an overnight dry camping stop at Lewis and Clark Trail State Park.
 Click on the picture to see the castle/house on the hill. This was along the Clearwater River.
Some of the road(Route 12) is narrow with rock ledges or steep sides.
We continue along Route 12 into Idaho and meet up also with the Clearwater River.   We are back in Lewis and Clark territory, following their route back from the Pacific Ocean in 1805.  The two border towns are Clarkston in Washington and Lewiston in Idaho. In Orofino Jan and I decide to try Dent Acres COE Park on the Dworshak Reservoir.  As the crow flies , it is a short distance from town.  But , there are no roads following that imaginary crow.  It is about 20 miles to the park. 20 miles of steep, sharp curves. Horseshoe curves and 10 per cent grades .  One of our most challenging roads.  But worth the effort.
 The dam was placed on the North Fork of the Clearwater River.
Boaters can travel up to 27 miles on this reservoir.  They can camp along the way at primitive sites, refuel on the water, and catch the biggest small mouth bass in the state.
 Jan and I really enjoy the views. This is from the campground looking back at the bridge leading to the campground.
 Looking back at the reservoir.  The water levels are purposely down to make room for the summer snow melt.
 Eustis enjoys crossing bridges.
 Yes, it rained. But, the low hanging clouds were interesting.  There were only a few fishermen in the campground. They would leave early in the morning and return about 6pm or so.  During the day , we could not see or hear them anywhere on the reservoir.
 Scenes along the ride back to Route 12
 Back on Route 12, we are now heading up towards Lolo Pass through the Bitteroot Mountains. We join the Lochsa River and the Lewis and Clark Scenic Highway.
Log cabin with a river view.

 Along the way, the road follows the river with excellent views. There are a number of Kayakers and Rafters testing their skill among the rocks and rapids.
Lots of white water.
Boy,those kayaks look small.  By the way, the water was C-O-L-D!

 Wanna Ride?
 There are a number of good National Forest Campgrounds along the route. But, we are early and most have not opened yet.  Luckily, our favorite from a few years ago is open.
 There are only a few in the campground when we arrive.  Dry camping and once again, like Dent Acres, no phone signal.  But a wonderful site with sun for our solar panels and a view of the river.
 These rafters were right in front of our site.  We stayed for three nights. By the second night, the campground was full with all kinds of kayaks, rafts, and mostly young adults and families.
It was fun to watch!

Leaving the campground we still follow the Lochsa River for a bit and then head up to Lolo Pass.  The elevation is 5,225 feet.
Lady Blue is not missing the snow.
Over the pass and into Montana.  Our stop is at Missoula for groceries and mail pickup.  We expected a bit of a traffic jam driving into the city, but quite reasonable.  This view is from the private campground Jellystone, a national franchise.  Very nice.
From Missoula, we now take Route 200. This is a view while still in Missoula.
Along the way are plenty of herds of beef cattle. Then ---wait a minute--those are bison.
About one hour out of Missoula is Route 83 up to Salmon Lake State Park. 
A quiet lake for fishing, relaxing, and surprise--this is cold water---a water skier.  How is this cabin?
A great dry camping spot with a view.

Or do you prefer a larger model?
Back on Route 200, these are the views as we head towards Rogers Pass at 5,610 feet and the Continental Divide.
 We stopped for this picture.
Jan was able to take this one as we drove. 
And just beyond that picture is this property. The main house is in the trees.  And---the property is for sale. Any buyers? Just remember the closest town is about 50 or more miles away.
Eustis is fascinated.
Hard to believe, but this is not too many miles past that point and the Continental Divide.  The land quickly changed to this---with a lot of downhill driving.
 Not too far and we are in Great Falls, Montana.
The river is the Missouri and now , on this side of the Continental Divide, the rivers run east and south.
 Great Falls was a big stop along the Lewis and Clark Trail.  They thought it was a simple portage around one waterfall. Instead there were five!
 This was the first one.  The falls are at the front of the picture. Behind is the dam that now provides hydroelectric power from the building on the right.  You can understand why Lewis and Clark needed to portage.
 What they thought was a simple portage for the 18 miles around the five falls turned into 26 days and almost 150 miles to bring the dugouts and baggage in 8 trips. There are some steep hills between!
 This site had a good visual for how the elevation drop on the falls feeds good pressure and flow to the turbine(s) that provide the electricity.

This is another of the falls, Black Eagle.  Again, the falls are in front and the dam built behind with the power plant to the right.
The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center along River Road was a great stop with a large exhibit center describing and illustrating the Lewis and Clark expedition and this portage in Great Falls .
Once again, leaving Great Falls, we are presented with views like this alongside Route 200.  
 Montana is Big Sky country. And we appreciate that along this route.  Some of these ranches are close to 100 miles from the nearest town.  We traveled over 100 miles from Great Falls to our overnight stop in Lewistown.  Only one small town on the way.
On the other hand, these are ranches. And besides the roaming beef stock, they will probably have chickens, maybe a dairy cow or two, some gardens, and perhaps a few other livestock.  Oh--and probably a great freezer.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Silver Falls State Park, Eola Hills Wine Cellars, Plum Hill Vineyards, Troutdale, Mt. Hood Scenic Loop-all Oregon,then Plymouth, Washington

Jan and I cannot leave the Pacific Coast without one more seafood stop.  This is South Beach Fish Market on Route 101 just south of Newport.  We would never have stopped here  on our own because on the 101 you are looking at the bridge right ahead and lots of other things. It's just a market and a fish store/restaurant. But quite popular and we did find it thanks to Ed and Carol , Lazy Daze owners. These clams are a little different in size and shape, but quite delicious.
Lots of signs and lots of food.  We thought their scallops were excellent as well.
What?  Would you buy this Rogue River Ale?
From Cape Lookout, we headed back to Sea and Sand with the ocean view for one more night.  Then down on Route 101 to South Beach Market and all the way up to Route 18 above Lincoln City to head east past Salem to Silver Falls State Park.
We were told about Silver Falls by a number of campers along the way.  We can see why it is known as the "Crown Jewel" of Oregon State Parks. 
 The grounds are well maintained.
There are lots of hiking trails and personnel for talks and more.
Of course, the park is all about the falls. And you can hike to all ten if you wish.
Still lots of rain. We stayed two nights, dry camping. We could have stayed longer to hike and camp.

 The state park was a ways off Route 22 east of Salem. So we headed back through Salem to Eola Hills Wine Cellars.  Salem is the capitol of Oregon, and one day we drove right by, one street over, from the capitol building. We were surprised how easy it was to drive Lady Blue through the center of the city. We could see the bronze statue top of the Capitol Building--which is made from Vermont marble --by the way.
Eola Hills is in Rickreall on Route 99W just off Route 22.
Again, such nice people at the wine tasting. One server was from Montana , offering lots of information. The other server was heading soon to do graduate work in North Carolina.  Once again, our conversation was about much more than wine.  This was another Harvest Host and we were very surprised to see how many people came in Sunday morning for their family brunch, served inside or outside.  Over one hundred people of all ages!
Click on the Wine Country Brunch to see all the choices offered for their brunch.
Anybody looking for an old well drilling truck -close by?
Though only a few miles outside Salem, this is rural agricultural land.
Once again, Oregon is such a beautiful state. This is on Route 99W, heading north to Gaston which is just south west of Portland. Lots of fields with signs for radish seed growing, peas, grains, and orchards.  
Christmas tree farms and nurseries.
Sometimes fields of yellow.
And then there are homes. The nice thing about these homes is that they are out in the country, but they are also not that far from Salem, the capitol, or Portland.
As we near Gaston, there are more vineyards, including Plum Hill Vineyards.  This is another one of our Harvest Hosts.
 Lots of interesting things about this vineyard, starting with their homemade fountain.
We had great conversations with RJ and Juanita, the owners.
The second link above will take you to a video of RJ running his own one man wine processing. His own invention and welding to be able to process red and white grapes by himself.
The video is under the heading "vineyard pictures" on the webpage.
The picture above is from the main yard.  This was a dairy farm before they bought it in 2004.  A lot of hard physical work involved in preparing the fields and buildings and planting.
If you click above to enlarge, you might notice that what seems to be a cloud in the distance, viewed from the patio, is actually Mt. St. Helens.
In this picture, if you click to enlarge, you can see Mt. St. Helens on the left and Mt. Adams on the right.  These are great views from the windows of the tasting room and the patio.
Came with the dairy farm.  How about a 1951 long bed Studebaker truck.  RJ thinks this will be his retirement project.
From Plum Hill we head up Route 99W to follow GPS to Cornelius and on to Route 26 east. That brings us to Route 405 south to Route 5 north to Route 84 east--all in the city of Portland. While Portland highways are quite busy, you do get these views of Mt. Hood on nice days.
Just remember to watch the traffic!
We exit to Troutdale--listed by their sign as "Gateway to the Gorge"--meaning Columbia River Gorge.
A short 13 or so miles from Portland, but a quiet suburb. We stayed here at Sandy Riverfront three years ago.
Nicely designed campground, well kept, and friendly.
The view from our site is of the Sandy River which flows under that railroad bridge and Route 84 out to the Columbia River.
It also is a short half mile walk to a very nice Italian restaurant, Ristorante Di Pompello.  This is a mural across from the restaurant.
and a menu Pompello menu
From Sandy River, it was easy to follow  the main street back under the sign, take a left, and all the way to Route 26 east.  This is the Mt. Hood Scenic Loop.  Very Scenic!
The closer you get to Mt. Hood, the better the view.
We are climbing to about 4,000 feet, but remember that Mt. Hood is 11,235 feet.
As you get closer to the the entrance road--skiing all year round--there are a number of restaurants and lodging around Zig Zag.
Jan  and I had stopped at the Zig Zag Ranger District Station to see about a campground.  But all of their campgrounds were closed and still snowbound.  So we stayed on Route 26 then exited to Route 35 north to the Mt. Hood District and found Nottingham Campground.
What a find!!
There are a few people here.  This elevation is down to about 3,000 feet. The campground is along the east branch of the Hood River. It has been maintained and cleared for summer.  For this time of year, the camping is free.
 Out in our back yard, a view of the river and snow covered mountain. Jan is loving it.  
A little coffee with that view Jan?
Bruce says "not bad".
 From Nottingham Camp, we continue on Route 35. Beautiful views of orchards and also of Mt. Adams.
 Route 35 brings us north to Route 84 east at Hood River.  Route 84 then follows the Columbia River towards the Dalles and then Biggs where we cross over to Route 14 and continue east in Washington.
Lot of water to be released from the Dalles Dam.

Barges and lots of wind turbines.
Route 14 is mostly a two lane road following the Columbia River east.  One more dam -releasing a lot of water.
Which brings us to Plymouth Park COE campground in Washington.  A few more days here and then north and east into Idaho and Montana!