Oregon! We made it!

It’s already 8:30 in the morning at Three Island Crossing State Park.

I’m not in a hurry to leave this pleasant camp in southwestern Idaho.  We’re only going up the interstate to Baker City, and there are campgrounds along Route 7 not far from there.  While washing a few dishes at the picnic table with the crew in the pen, Rosemary comes by and we chat.  She leaves.  I fill up water jugs, pack up the crew and our stuff, run a hose and fill up the BLT’s water tank, and, at the exit, empty tanks. 

Oregon, here we come!

This is our drive on I-84 to Baker City in 25 words or less.

Black on right (burnt grass), gold on left (not burnt grass). Walk crew.  Multi-lanes, Boise, pressure.  Oregon welcome center.  Walk crew.  Eat.  Baker City.  Exit. 

You know how you hear a song and you can’t get it out of your head?

That’s been going on in my brain for over a week now. The Eagles’ “Hotel California.” Of all the songs I could have on automatic mental replay, I’d say that’s a good one to have.

Okay.  So we’re toodling along like we’ve all the time in the world.

Such a lovely place, such a lovely face.   Here we are at Union Creek National Forest Campground and it IS lovely, situated on Phillips Lake.

This would make a fantastic campsite. It’s the picnic area.

$18 for a single site, $12 with senior pass (Half isn’t half here).  A drive around two loops reveals a nearly full campground with only unlevel, unattractive sites left. 

Still, the lake is pretty. 

Bridge, Spike and I traverse the rocks to the water’s edge.

 A family is playing by the dock.

As usual, water level is low.

 Walking back a different route to the PTV, I see a sign, “No pets in swim area.”  That’s a swim area?  Ha!  I decide to leave.  As we pass the entrance booth, we meet more campers coming in. 

It’s now mid-afternoon.

Hmm… lots of little tent symbols on my maps.  We’ll find something.  Yes!  The Middle Fork of the John Day River looks good.  We go up and down mountains, and it seems like an awfully long time before we reach what has to be the John Day River.  No signs.  Not for the river.  Not for national forest campgrounds.  Unnamed roads drop over embankments as if they’re shortcuts to hell. 

Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light . . .

A sign points to a state park.  This is a surprise.  Wasn’t expecting a state park.  Oh well, I don’t see any other choices.  I pull in.  The camp host’s site displays a big sign, “Off duty.”  An arrow points to the right. 

“That’s it?  That’s the campground?” I exclaim. 

It’s nothing more than a field with picnic tables and trash cans.  This could be heaven or this could be hell.  I circle the loop and approach the one, lone camper guest.  He’s sitting immobile on the step of his Class A motorhome.  That’s odd.  Who sits on the step of their Class A motorhome?  Less than ten feet from their picnic table? 

We make eye contact and I wave with a smile. 

He of the three-day-old facial hair closes his eyes and allows his lips to crinkle slightly.  He makes an acknowledging dip of his head, as if lifting an arm to wave is way too much effort.  Oh, now I get it.  He stepped out of his Class A motorhome, he hit the ground, and then he pitched backward onto the step.  Decided to sit a spell. 

They live’n it up at the Hotel California . . .

It’s late in the day, I hurry on out of there.  Once out on the main road, I stop to take a photo and look at my maps again.

Plenty of room at the Hotel Oregon

There’s no state park on the map. 

Not on the map given me at the welcome center.  Not on my Benchmark atlas map.  No state park.  You can check out any time you want, but you can ne-eh-ver leave.  Let’s see, what’s the name of it?  I look up at the sign.  Bates State Park . . . BATES State Park? I flip to the page that lists state parks.  No Bates.  I take one last glance.

Last thing I remember, I was running for the door.  I had to find the passage back to the place I was before. . . 

The next campground is at Dixie Pass, 5,247 feet. 

It consists of a big, brown, National Forest sign, a self-pay station, a narrow “road,” a logging truck sans logs, and a building with a hand-painted message on one exterior wall about this being hunting property and you’d better git, if you know what’s good for yer trespassing a#&.   Well, maybe not those exact words. 

Back on the road again.

Approaching the Elkhorn Mountains

Oh, yippee, a town up ahead!  And there’s an RV park sign!  We’ll stay at our first private campground! 

Following the signs, I go down a side street and quickly discover that $16 and a back-in will buy you a whole lot of ugly in Prairie City, Oregon.  U-turn!

What the heck?

It’s beginning to look like Oregon, but I’m too tired to get excited about it.

Now we’re up to our . . . um, necks . . . in farms and cows and fields and there’s little hope of finding another campground.  The shadows stretch across the road like monster fingers. Keep going, keep going, keep going.  Oh crap, the crew is awake and getting restless.

“It’s okay, Spike!  We’ll be there pretty soon!”

Wherever THERE is.  On the other side of the town of John Day, we find Clyde Holliday State Park, which is, as best I can determine, a REAL state park.

$22 a night

Actually very nice, with little islands of plants in the clipped grass, paved pads, a river walk, showers (without a knife-wielding, crazy person pulling back the shower curtain), electric hook-ups . . . . 

At last we’re home!

They even have teepees for rent.

$39 a night

What a day! 

Some dance to remember, some dance to forget . . . .


Canine Corner: “Sleep All Day, Play All Night” by Spike

“Hello, Camper Beagle!”

The Bridge and I slept all day in the PTV while rvsue drove us all over the place.  Now it’s 8:30 p.m. and she looks like death warmed over.  Gotta’ put a fire under her.  Time for a long walk, sniff some campers, have some fun!   

“C’mon, rvsue!  Get up!  Let’s GO!”


About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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77 Responses to Oregon! We made it!

  1. kristine barr says:

    Sometimes those ear worms (musical) are good. This one sure fit your day

  2. Jan says:

    I’ve had campground searches like that…ugh.
    John Day Fossil Park just own the road to check out. Better early morning or evening when the light is not so harsh.

  3. Sue Malone says:

    Ah, Sue, welcome to Oregon, anyway. Glad you found a place to actually land. That part of Oregon can be a bit of a crap shoot, as you discovered. By the way, if you make it this far south, check out Eagle Ridge county park on my blog. It’s free camping right on the lake west of Klamath Falls, and could be a nice spot this time of year.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Well, you know in Idaho, it does help to know folks who know the back country…but the best stuff is north of the Boise Valley, up McCall way…etc. My brother knows all kinds of places to camp free, but I have not been there so could not direct you…and you were in a hurry to get to Oregon…hope you keep having a good trip…sounds like you found a really pretty place to stop!!

  5. Sherry says:

    Sounds like you had a bit of a driveabout but all’s well that end’s well. The PTV & BLT look great in that sweet campground. I am SO glad to know I’m not the only one with music from nowhere running around in my head. I don’t listen to music too much anymore because something is bound to get stuck in there for days! Really it does! Drives me crazy! Sorry your tune fit your day. Great story about the Bates Motel ahhhh campground.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Sherry, What a creepy state park. The extra dollars are worth it to stay here in this ‘sweet campground.” Glad you liked the story of my day on the road.

  6. Kathy says:

    Gee, Sue, thanks a bunch for putting that song in my head. 🙂 I have a questions if you do not mind, based on your one year of full timing experience, do you yet have any idea what makes you want to stay in one camp area more than others (besides waiting on mail)? I remember the long stretch of time you spend in NM when you first started out and now it seems you move much more often. I love reading your blog and like most of your other followers, love Spike and Bridget.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Kathy!

      I stayed in one place in NM for a long time because I had to wait for all the components to arrive for my solar set-up, for the installation to take place, and also for the arrival and installation of my catalytic heater. All these items were online orders. I also stayed so I could share Thanksgiving Day with friends.

      I stayed for a fairly long time in Ajo, Ash Fork, Willard Springs . . . because Arizona is warm and I had to wait for the weather to break before visiting the Grand Canyon and places to the north of there. I don’t want to travel into cold, snow, ice, spring rains, or mud.
      Another big reason for not moving much in the colder months is to save money to spend during the warmer months when I can travel to northern places and higher elevations.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I thought of another thing… NM has parks scattered fairly evenly around the state. In states like WY, MT, and southern ID, there are really huge grasslands to cross between camps.

  7. John and Kona says:

    Sue and Crew~
    Don’t forget to stop at the BLM visitor ctr just outside of Baker. It’s on the Oregon Trail; my grandparents traversed the trail out of KS. It will be well worth the visit ~ WE promise. John and Kona.

    PS: we will be heading up to the Columbia Gorge on Sep 5 and plan on living there for one month. Did it last year; so nice that we decided to repeat the visit!!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I stopped at the Welcome Center, if that’s what you mean… got an armful of maps and brochures. I gather you have reservations for the weeklong visit. I heard it’s chancy trying to find camp spots by dropping in at this time of year. Enjoy… I know you will!

      • John and Kona says:

        “Chancy trying to find camp spots by dropping in at this time of year.” Yes, but they usually have a set number of sites available for drop-in’s. Try Memaloose Oregon State Park. Great views of the Columbia ~ other OSPs further downstream are in the trees and can be dark with no views. Be sure to take Old Historic Hwy 30 vs. I-84 from The Dalles west to Troutdale. You won’t be disappointed:) J & K

  8. sherry says:

    Hi Sue … if you get over toward Prineville & want to explore the Painted Hills, Mitchell, Oregon has some campsites in their city park and the people are SO nice ….they just added the water/electric sites a couple months ago to draw in visitors. I know it’s not your general preference, but sometimes that kind of camping gives you a chance to charge up your batteries, soak in some small town charm (it’s a pretty cute town) and have a pretty “secure” area to leave your egg while you explore …..
    “3 RV Hookups with water and electricity (no sewer) – WE DO NOT TAKE RESERVATIONS! $17/night – Tent camping also available.
    Mitchell City Park
    Mitchell, OR 97750 Contact Information 1-541-462-3121”

    Some pics of the fossil beds & the Painted Hills – http://imalulu.blogspot.com/2012/07/redmond-oregon.html

  9. Only you could make a day like that sound funny. Well, I laughed even if it wasn’t funny to you. Glad you finally found a good place to stay. It looks pretty. Love to you and the crew

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Oh, I laughed, too. Especially at the pathetic campground. I’ve since done some research and found out that it’s a new campground. Maybe they’ll plant some trees? Love to you, too.

  10. Donna K says:

    All the while I was reading, I was thinking, “I should have told her about Clyde Holliday SP.” Glad you found it on your own. It’s a lovely park. Lots to see around the John Day area. Welcome to Oregon and if you need any hints or help, let me know.

  11. cozygirl says:

    Hey Sue….I googled where you are. So happy you got to Oregon so now all of us home stuck readers get to see and hear about a new land O:) I love your travels the best of all the blogs I read. Have you ever just brought up a town in a google map. Then hit search nearby….I see tons and tons of tiny red dots for possible camping spots. Some links have reviews too. Saw many in the forest. Kiss those cute pups….whenever i get a dog I want one just like them – what breed would you call that? Here is link for the search I did. ~cozygirl

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, cozygirl! About those “tons of tiny red dots….” All that is printed is not true. Dixie Campground, for instance, is nothing more than a sign. Some of these places are off the main road with no sign to let you know. So you are faced with the choice of investigating every side road, either on foot or at the risk of not being able to turn around, or you drive on by. SIGNS! I NEED SIGNS! AND NOT JUST a SIGN WITH NO CAMPGROUND!

      Sorry, not yelling at you, cozygirl…. Thanks for telling me you think we’re “the best of all the blogs…”

  12. Jim Melvin says:

    Sue, if you come up Hwy 26 I am in the Ochoco Divide Campground about 17 miles out of Mitchell. It is a beautiful National Forest campgrounds, but has no hookups. Be sure to empty tanks and fill up with water though as there is neither in the campground. I am among towering 200 ft Ponderosa Pines and the weather is great. I would really enjoy seeing you again.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I can’t believe it! I wish I’d known! I was going to chance it, going to Ochoco Divide Campground today, but instead I paid (2 hrs. ago) another $22 to stay here because I didn’t want to risk two marathon days in a row searching for a campground. Errgghh!! Yes, I’d like to see you again, too, Jim!

  13. carol says:

    it isn’t mine to offer, but my kids own acreage south of Baker city,where we boondocks.If you had continued on north to Sumpter,lots to see,there is private campground, must be cheap, cuz it sure ain’t fancy.
    there is an lad dredge there,an small,narrow-gauge RR,Sumpter is an old mining town,and the Post-mistress is a friend of mine,ses lived in Baker for years,and is A fountain of knowledge.
    I know better tha to string a sentence out to a paragraph,but I did use commasLots of typos,but this is typed worth one finger,so Ah faint hep it!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Carol… I remember passing the turn for Sumpter and a sign about RR. At that point I was interstate-numb and didn’t want to go on side trips. Don’t worry about how you write here. I’m relieved to know you aren’t overdosing on something.

  14. cinandjules says:

    Such a lovely place…………. such a lovely place!
    I think you’re excited to see Caleee. Enjoy Oregon….it’s definately gorgeous up there!

  15. Harrietann12 says:

    If at first you don’t………. You landed in a good spot, after all. “Bates” anything pleeeeeze, maybe Kathy Bates, but that hobbling thing she did, I’m not so sure about her. I still shower with one eye open.
    Gearing up down here for, Tropical Storm Isaac, car topped off with fuel, extra gallons of water, pet food, getting ready to pack a small bag for me. Best to be prepared, I could be camping out in a motel for a few days come Monday.
    Skies overhead look pregnant with heavy rain just waiting to drop on us. The winds are high, and gusting to 45 mph, today.

    You just don’t know who to believe about these storms Mother Nature is a one woman act. Best to be ready, less stress that way!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Harriet!

      Hope the storm passes you by. (I don’t know what part of FL you are in.)

      You have a great blog, especially for foodies. Enjoyed the photos of your town, wherever it is!

  16. jerryc says:

    Emmigrant springs SP just S on Pendleton is a good overnite stop.

  17. gingerda says:

    So glad you made it safely, and that you found a campsite. I know what you mean about getting a song stuck in your head. Every time I hear “Red Solo Cup” by Toby Keith, I end up with it in my head for weeks. Geez, why did I did mention it? Now I am stuck with it again. lol.

  18. PamP says:

    Its an unusual post when you don’t find a great spot for your current home. What I saw of Oregon 25 years ago was just gorgeous although the view was from the window of a Greyhound bus. Had heard Oregon didn’t really encourage visitors. You’ll find out if that is just a bad story or not.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello, Pam! My first contact with an Oregonian was when I stopped for gas in Baker City and hit $3.89 a gallon. A guy came out to pump the gas for me and he cleaned the windshield, too. I haven’t had anyone do that at a gas station in well over 25 years. When I flinched at the price, he said, “Welcome to the West!”

    • Ed says:

      Oregon encourages visitors they just don’t encourage Californians coming into the state and staying. The same attitude is prevalent in all the states near California. Multiple bumper stickers all over the West that say: I don’t care how it is done in CA.

  19. Billy Bob says:

    I had a similar situation happen to me when people told me how beautiful an area was an’ there was gads of wonderful camp’n sites. I learn’t to give these people the crook’it eye. I ain’t never fount no State Park what wasn’t there, so you had a first there. .

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I was tired of driving and on an empty road…. made that state park seem all the weirder. I found out it’s real, too new for the maps, used to be a mill, and there’s a pond you can walk to. I think it’s a glorified trail head. Dreary entrance and blah campsites.

  20. you only just crossed into Oregon. There is MUCH beauty ahead !!! and most likely lots of nice places to camp.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Susan . . . Oh, my opinion of Oregon is still high. I’m expecting much ahead. I had to get through this area of eastern Oregon, going across the state. I’m saving the northern part for another summer.

  21. Joe Blanton says:

    First comment from this long-time reader. Hotel California is one of my all-time favorite songs. Great lyrics, almost poetry, with a good underlying meaning. Anyway, this must mean California is in your future on the road!

    – Joe from Maryland

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Joe! So glad you took the time to write. I agree with you. Besides the great lyrics, the instrumental parts — that guitar! — perfectly portray the lyrics and express the mood. You can almost hear the ol’ Devil laughing! I never tire of hearing it… Maybe that’s why it’s replaying in my head.

      Thank you for being a “long-time reader” of my blog.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      BTW, your grandsons are adorable. Love the photos.

  22. Joy A. says:

    I wasn’t sure which direction you were going when you entered Oregon or I would have told you about Clyde Holiday SP, very nice campground.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Joy! And you would have felt bad if I missed it and had to sleep parked on the side of the road! LOL It is nice here. Gosh, I could get used to this shower-a-day way of life.

  23. Hotel California says:

    “That’s been going on in my brain for over a week now. The Eagles’ “Hotel California.” Of all the songs I could have on automatic mental replay, I’d say that’s a good one to have.”

    It’s because you are getting closer & closer to our neck of the woods. Maybe a visit is in your future.

  24. earthdancerimages says:

    So glad you finally made it to a good campground with a safe shower! LOL! We will be reading your comments about Oregon, we would love to workamp there next summer!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Geri!

      Bill and Ann commented a few days ago about their workamp positions in Oregon. Sounds like they landed some good ones.

      • Bill and Ann says:

        If you come to the Bend area, we are at La Pine State Park for one more week. There is a fairly nice park, less bucks, at Fall River , close by. We will be heading to Collier next week, then Cape Blanco in November. They transfered us from Humbug to Cape Blanco. Hope we get to visit with you.

  25. Cathie Laurent says:

    OMG, Bates? Are they crazy?
    So glad you kept going, as we really do want you to conti ue with your journey. And not be a “you can check in but never check out”. Glad the pups were patient with you.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Oh the crew was wonderful all day. It wasn’t until the last few miles that Spike started barking like he was mad at me. Yeah, Bates…. That guy sitting on his step gave me the creeps (when actually he’s probably the nicest person you could ever meet!).

  26. Chuck says:

    Hi Bridget and Spikey!! Geri n Chuck stick us traveling all day,so we’ve start ed a doggie concerto as follows: Woof, Woof, Woof, Woof = 4 hours, woof , woof = 200 miles and woof, woof,Bark, Bark = 4PM and that is time to PARK IT. Usually works real good espescially with only ONE potty/water stop.The trip from St Johns, AZ to Mimbres, NM was terrible..they tried to count our potty water stop in the sleet and rain at 9000 ft and all this thunder n bright flashes n curves went six (6) hours!!! What’s a dog gonna’ do???? I know, hold it!!! Hope RV Sue is better to you!!!!

  27. geogypsy2u says:

    Eastern Oregon is high desert and can be rather bland. I really enjoyed John Day Fossil Bed. You’re getting closer to the Cascades with lots of forest, streams and maybe even a visit with Jim.

  28. Rod says:

    Really fun kind of a blog working the song into the search of the hard to acquire best camping spot… Now lets see if you can check out of the Hotel California Camp Ground….. But no wait your in Oregon, so perhaps you will be OK….. Thanks for taking us along….. Rod

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, Rod. I could have made myself happy at the first campground by the lake. There were too many people jammed together. Then I end up in a place where people are fairly close together, but it doesn’t seem that way. The people are quieter and the vegetation between sites is thick. A good combination!

  29. Robin Harp says:

    Hi Sue! Boy, you had a rough start, but please don’t let that cloud your vision of Oregon!! It truly is an amzingly lovely state. We started our trip in Portland, and after enjoying majestic Mount Hood and all of the beautiful waterfalls at her base, we headed over toward Lincoln City, and drove down the Pacific Coast Highway (101) to San Fransico. A once in a lifetime. While in Oregon, take every opportunity to taste the delicious produce–especially the cherries! Your furrbabies deserve a special treat 🙂

  30. Kellee says:

    Hi Sue – I love your blog, makes me laugh every morning, but I truly love the canine corner! I know have Hotel California stuck in my head – great weaving of the song and your writing.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Your comment is a “good morning” for me! I just made myself the first cuppa Joe for the day, the crew is still sleeping, and I read that you love my blog and it makes you laugh. Now that’s a great way to start my day! Thanks for writing, Kellee.

  31. Leon Webster says:


    I have known about your blog for a while but finally had time to read it all and catch up with your journeys.

    My wife and I stayed in Clyde Halliday in our Escape 17b a couple of months ago. Like you, we arrived late in the day, and the green grass was a real treat for our Shi tzu, Murphy.

    I also bicycled from Portland to Glendive Mt. last year, following the John Day River through much of Oregon. You might want to plan a stop at Ochoco Lake Park which is about 10 miles east of Prineville, Or. I don’t remember the cost, but it was a pleasant place to spend a day.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Leon, Wow! I’m impressed twice over! You read my blog all the way through and you cycled across Oregon… I hope the former was easier than the latter! I appreciate the tip on Ochoco Lake.

      Nice to hear from you.

    • Bill and Ann says:

      Ochoco Lake is a nice stop after exploring John Day.

  32. Bev Deem says:

    I just had to chuckle when I read your blog this morning! We made a trip to CA from La Grande, OR last month and ended up in the same area. My husband LOVES that area and I just roll my eyes. We stayed on Hwy 26 westward and then Hwy 242 (or what we call the McKenzie Hwy). I really like 242 and its scenery. Bridget and Spike are such great companions for you–also great entertainment 🙂 Stay safe…

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Bev… I’ll make a note of Hwy 242. Yeah, Bridget and Spike get on my nerves some times, but I can’t imagine life without them. They are such good travelers and pals.

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