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.
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.
$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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 . . . .
They even have teepees for rent.
What a day!
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget . . . .
Canine Corner: “Sleep All Day, Play All Night” by Spike
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!”