Ochoco Divide, Painted Hills, Sisters, and Ice Cap

Saturday, August 25

After hearing about Rusty losing Timber, I start up the PTV and pull out of Clyde Holliday State Park.   The crew and I head west on the John Day Highway.  It’s a scenic ride.  However, I am so depressed from hearing Rusty’s bad news that I have difficulty noticing any of it.  Here and there I snap a photo without getting out of the PTV, but my spirits are so low, I hardly know what I’m doing.

At last I see the sign, “Ochoco Divide, 4,720 feet.”

Soon after that the PTV turns into Ochoco Divide Campground ($13 a night, $6 with Senior Pass) where Jim Melvin of Jimbo’s Journeys blog is camp host.  Immediately we come upon his LazyDaze Class C in his campsite.   My mood starts to lift.  Gee, this is a pretty campground.  And the sites are big with lots of privacy. 

About halfway around the loop, there’s Jim standing by his golf cart. 

He’s got a big smile, waving me to a stop.  Later that afternoon we sit at my campsite, talking, laughing, and drinking wine.  When two rving bloggers get together, there’s a lot to discuss!  Bridget and Spike watch us from their pen.  Jim is a friendly, down-to-earth guy with a great sense of humor, and before I know it, I’m feeling myself again.

Tuesday, August 28

The crew and I have had three relaxing and fun days hanging out at Ochoco Divide Campground.  One day we took a ride over to see the Painted Hills. 

Cool days and nights, pine-scented air, and laughing with Jim made this a great camp.  And learning that Timber is found, hearing Rusty’s joyous reaction, and reading the happy comments on this blog have warmed my heart. If I didn’t have so much I want to see before it’s time to head back to southern Arizona, I’d stay longer at Ochoco.

I hitch up and swing by Jim’s campsite to say goodbye.

He takes a photo of Bridget looking out the driver’s side window of the PTV.  “She’s making a left turn!” Jim jokes.  Maybe he’ll post the photo on his blog, Jimbo’s Journeys at http://www.jimbosjourneys.com

The crew and I go through Prineville and Redmond on the way to the famous Sisters, Oregon.

I’m disappointed.  What a touristy place it is!  Here it is a Tuesday, for crying out loud, and people, cars, motorhomes, bicycles, and whatnot are dashing hither and yon.  I’m cut off twice trying to park at some gas pumps. While navigating one of the narrow streets, my cellphone rings with a call from a reporter with the Arizona Republic newspaper.  I pull off onto a side street, park, and answer his questions regarding the heart-tugging saga of Timber.

My plan is to camp at one of the many campgrounds along the Metolius River. 

However, the drivers on Highway 126 coming out of Sisters are so pressured and pushy, I drive right on by, trying to get out of the area as quickly as possible.  What is wrong with driving 55-60 mph in a 55 mph zone?  How fast am I supposed to go, you yuppie morons!  The traffic volume probably means crowded campgrounds in the area.  Labor Day Weekend is this weekend.

Mt. Washington comes into view, snow-capped, lovely, and cloaked with clouds, but I can barely get a glimpse, what with the crazed drivers.  There’s no place to pull off.  It’s impossible to take a photos.  Cars pass at what must be 70 mph crossing double lines.  I can feel the stress of workdays gone by affecting me physically.  Darn it.  I’ll drive all the way into the Pacific if I have to!  Anything to get away from these fools!

Now we’re riding alongside the fast-moving waters of the MacKenzie River.

The beauty of the river revives my spirits.  I take a look at Cold Cove Campground.  It turns out the best sites are taken or terribly difficult to back into, so I keep going.  A short distance down the road is Ice Cap Campground.  Despite the forbidding name, it’s a delightful place.  The ponderosa pines are huge here, the sites are big and well-spaced, and, best of all, there are waterfalls! 

Now I really feel like we’re in Oregon!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m trying to catch up after several days without internet connection, so the slideshow covers several days and several miles.


 Canine Corner:  “It’s a Guy Thing” by Spike 


You know, it sure was great hanging with Jim for a few days.  Not that I don’t like the company of rvsue and the Bridge.  It’s just that . . . well, being around women all the time can kinda’ get to a guy.  Know what I mean?  The drama is too much. 

Jim’s a laid-back guy.  I’m gonna’ miss him comin’ round the pen with a beer in his hand, telling funny stories.  It was great. 

‘Course it woulda been better if he brought over a brewski for me, too.


About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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61 Responses to Ochoco Divide, Painted Hills, Sisters, and Ice Cap

  1. Marcia says:

    What to say – another great blog post! Love your Painted Hills pics, my daughter just showed me hers a couple of days ago.

  2. PamP says:

    Oh my – do I agree about too many people driving too fast going nowhere. Oregon is sure beautiful. Even more beautiful is the story of Rusty and Timber and they’re together again!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      One o’clock in the afternoon on a Tuesday and everybody’s frantic to get somewhere. Yes, Oregon is as beautiful as I expected from seeing many breathtaking photos over the years.

  3. Donna K says:

    Too bad you passed thru Sisters at such a busy time. It can get hectic. We like it much better after Labor Day. Oregonians tend to crowd the campgrounds over Labor Day as we know the rains cannot be far away. Last chance camping and all that. So sorry you encountered rude people…makes me embarrassed for my state!! Hope you enjoy the rest of your stay and if you like your campsite, you might want to consider staying put until after the weekend!! Campsites may be few and far between. Carl G Washburn State Park just north of Florence on the coast does not accept reservations so if you get there early in the week, there is usually a spot. $24 full hook-ups. Good luck.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’m going to look for a campground that’s not right on the coast, but is an easy drive away. Then we can make a day trip or two and then drive along the coast to another campground further south. That $24 a night can add up fast.

      • Chuck says:

        Susan!! Do NOT take the road from Sisters to Eugene…..Many curves and up/down grades 5 MPH and they are not kidding..Mosquitoes are 6-9 inces long and does not include their bloodsucking beaks. And when you get the college town of eugene, it is a maze of streets. Go to Crater Lake.. gorgeous, got skeeters but littler and drive around lake is gorgeous. Go south around Crater to Florence, OR as memoriy serves me.
        To the Pair: we got i BIG trouble, Geri n Chuck gave us left over NY steak(not realizilng we are FL an CA dogs) so we had accidents…digestion accidents. Don’t have them kids, we’re on constany outdoor patrol….we like to sleep 20+ hours daily, so let me warn you,,,don’t…woof, howl n a bark

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          I don’t know, Chuck…. I asked three different people at different times and different locations what the road from Sisters to Eugene is like. All three said “not bad.” I’m almost at Eugene from Sisters. I took Hwy 126 and it was okay, some long up and down grades, curvy, but not bad. Of course, now I’m an expert mountain driver! You must be talking about another road that goes from Sisters to Eugene.

          Ooh, the Hound Herd has the New York Revenge! (I made that up.)

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          You’re right, Chuck! There is a hellish road from Sisters to Eugene… Hwy 242. Fortunately I didn’t take that road. On my map it looks horrible!

  4. Carla says:

    The water falls reminded me of the first time I ever heard a water fall (rare event) and when I heard a stream (In the UK). I could hear the stream before I saw it and it was in the middle of a beautiful town. Certainly not what I am used to being around. Your photos are great.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Glad you like the photos, Carla. I haven’t seen many waterfalls in my life either, having lived as a flatlander in FL and GA. I’m inside the BLT right now and the river sound is like “white noise.” Very soothing.

  5. cinandjules says:

    The colors of the mountains are beautiful. Trials and tribulations of being the only man in the household……poor Spikey.

    Hate to admit it but I think winter is coming early this year….. It was 39 degrees last night. brrr

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thirty-nine degrees in the Adirondacks… why am I not surprised! (I used to live in upstate NY). The campground we’re at right now (I haven’t written about it yet) is at a lower elevation than the previous ones. It’s cool but not to the point of being unpleasant. I don’t turn on the heat at night.

  6. earthdancerimages says:

    Did we miss a post about Rusty and Timber being re-united??? PamP…. or Sue… what can you tell us???? We have been checking almost hourly for news!!!!
    Sue, looks like your ability to find great campsites just keeps on ticking!!!!! Beautiful waterfalls!!!

  7. Bev Deem says:

    Did you mean Tuesday, August 28? Stay safe….

  8. Marsha of campers4lifex2 says:

    As always another wonderful post. Sure wish I had half the talent you spill out from the tips of your fingertips onto the keyboard. The slideshow was great too, always love your pics. Spike hang in there … maybe there will be more ‘guys’ around the next turn. 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks, Marsha. You have no idea some of the conditions under which I write. Parked alongside a highway, or while Spike is barking like a mad dog wanting to go for a walk, internet connection going in and out…. Ah, the life of a blogger!

    • Bill and Ann says:

      Ditto. I agree, Very talented.

  9. Wayne says:

    Tuesday, September 28…………….?
    Slow down Sue, it’s only August 28.


  10. cathieok says:

    Really enjoyed your pictures. So glad you found a nice spot. Looks wonderful!

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Glad you are safe thus far…something to always be thankful for when driving!! Sad to say dearie, but California has always been known for fast driving and fast speaking…so you may want to stay on back roads so much as you can find!! Many years ago I had to drive from Fairfield to Vallejo a few times while 7-8 months pregnant to pick up hubby from the naval shipyard there…it was hair-raising driving 75-80 mph in very close traffic at those speeds…but you have to go with the flow or be run over!! And I was so young then…now?? My heart would stop on me!!

  12. gingerda says:

    I really enjoyed the slide show. The red hill/mountain looks so pretty. The Oregon drivers sound like the drivers here in Vegas. They are so rude at times. I am laughing at Elizabeth’s comment about the driver’s in California. She is so right. you are either going 8 or 80 on the freeway.
    Loved Spikes commentary and the picture.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      It wasn’t like the drivers were rude. They were hyper! Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now! It was like a Friday afternoon rush hour on a Tuesday at one o’clock. I don’t know if they were mostly locals or tourists. Not fun.

      My next post will include an incident related to the crazy drivers. Thanks for the nice remarks about the slideshow and Spike’s blogging.

  13. Ed Smith says:

    Great, Sue. Another wonderful blog to fill the souls of us wannabes. Sorry you missed camping on the N fork of the John Day I know you would have liked it. Get to the coast before it gets too cold.
    BTW, we are leaving Arizona and moving to Oregon.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Moving? As in buying a house? Or are you pulling my leg . . . Glad you like the blog. As soon as Labor Day weekend is over, the crew and I will get to the coast! Even if I have to wear my Nanuck of the North jacket, I’m going to the coast!

  14. Mel (Melanie from NV) says:

    Just returned from a 3 day trip up the oregon coast and back down the I5… drove the 101 from the CA/OR border up to Lincoln City OR, then east across to Salem (about 43m) then back down the center of oregon past medford. There are only 3 or 4 roads from the I5 to the OR coast and there are no campgrounds off the coast and within a days drive unless you stop along one of these E/W corridors,, and the services are few and far between on the coast, a few towns but you are between the mountains, redwoods and the ocean with stretches of dunes, woods and ocean front and lots of state parks along the shore north of Florence. AND – I did see a real live adult elk eating on a tree branch along the 101 south of Coos Bay OR – Ah HAH- they exist.. told my husband your unicorn theory, we got a good laugh! Beach was beautiful, p.s. Lots of construction along the 101 in OR, down to 1 lane in places with flagman, stopping and waiting your turn. Also smoke is VERY bad from yreka ca – Mt Shasta area south to below Red Bluff on the I5, and CA State Road 36 and 44 – both east 100miles to Susanville and west to mountains.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Oh yeah, a real live elk . . . sure . . . I’ve heard that one before and I ain’t buyin’ it. On the road to Sisters I saw one of those joke signs. All it said was “Elk,” ….. pffft. Never saw one. And I don’t think anybody else did either.

      Boy, you move fast! I’ve got my eye on a campground inland from the coast but not too far. It seems like no matter where you go, there’s smoke. The Sisters area fire really devastated a large area . . . the ugliest forest fire damage I’ve seen.

      Thanks for writing up all this information for me. It’s very helpful.

  15. geogypsy2u says:

    So much contrast between desert painted hills in eastern Oregon and the lush forest surrounded waterfalls in the Cascades. Persistence on your part paid off. I hope.
    Unfortunately, many vacationers and locals don’t slow down to enjoy the view. But it is a holiday weekend and their last summer hurray. I don’t usually travel on holidays.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      The Tuesday before Labor Day weekend is a holiday? When is Labor Day anyway . . . I thought it was next Monday. Whatever. I never went anywhere on Labor Day. It was always the boringest weekend for me. It was better than being killed on a highway though.

  16. Joy A. says:

    Going out from Eugene to the coast on highway 126 to Florence there are several little Forest Service campgrounds. I’ve never stopped at them and again you are dealing with the holiday weekend.

    Don’t forget Indian Casino’s. Florence has 3 Rivers Casino which on the right off highway 126 just as you enter town. Then Coos Bay has The Mill Casino with a pricey RV park as well as a free parking lot camp area. Inland on I-5 Canyonville has 3 Feathers Casino with a free area near the casino, the pricey RV park is across the highway.

    Now if you are going down the coast on highway 101 there are big turnouts right at the ocean where you can overnight. The best ones are between Gold Beach and Brookings, Oregon.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I appreciate all this information. I’m cautious about moving during the holiday weekend, plus we’re in a primo campsite right now. Once Labor Day is past, we’re cuttin’ loose! Thanks, Joy.

  17. Jim Melvin says:

    Thanks Sue for stopping in for a few days at Ochoco Divide. It was really fun getting together over a glass of wine and hashing over our different adventures while on the road. Good luck in making it to the coast.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Jim! It was fun discussing the world of blogging and RVing with you. I love the way you mocked some of my posts! Too funny! Keep those campers in line . . . See you again someday. (“Hey, Jim, o’l buddy, see ya’ ’round!” … Spike)

  18. Lynne says:

    Thank you for all the Oregon info and pictures…they help lessen the current oppressive humidity we southerners are experiencing.
    Oregon is now number one on our to-do list!
    Stay safe and have fun!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’m not sure Oregon is a place to escape humidity, but it sure is nice now; the humidity isn’t a problem. What a beautiful place… mossy, ferns, shady glens, rushing water… Glad you enjoyed the pictures and post.

  19. Reine says:

    What you wrote about Sisters and the crazy drivers, touristy place, etc sounded exactly like Paul He said it was exactly what he would have written if he could write as well as you do. Those aren’t the places you want to be towing a trailer. And cutting off at gas stations – been there.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’d heard such great things about Sisters… and it probably is great at certain times. I saw too many shops trying to be quaint when they aren’t really. Something about a lot of it lacked authenticity… And in back of the main thoroughfare through town are yuppie shopping centers with the usual frantic shoppers… Yuck! Get me outta here!

  20. Bill and Ann says:

    Sutton Campground, just north of Florence is beautiful with dunes and a river for Spike. Ditto with Waxmyrtle, just south of Florence on the Siltcoos River. USFS with 1/2 price for Senior Pass. Of course, as Donna says, you can always camp for free at the Casino.

    Ice Cap is beautiful. We have never been able to find an empty spot there. Lucky you!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Ooh, I’m getting excited about the coast! I want to rush right over there, but I’d better keep us here, rather than towing the BLT around searching for a campsite and ending up paying too much and jammed in a crowded place.

      Yes, Ice Cap is lovely, such huge campsites! And the trees! I love the hiking trail along the river to view the three waterfalls.

  21. Nancy in Idaho says:

    Is that river too fast for Spike to soak in? If so, I bet he isn’t happy!

  22. reeves99 says:

    Hi Sue
    I still check in every once in a while to see what you are up to. I’m glad life has been so good to you in this past year!

  23. Jan says:

    Ouch…sorry about Sisters. Used to be a small town. Sounds like progress caught up with it. I won’t say anything again unless I was just there withing recent months!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Oh, Jan, so many people have told me “If you go to Oregon, you’ve got to see Sisters!” over the years…. There are a lot of places to camp around Sisters that are probably great, if not in the fire area.

  24. Deb&jeff says:

    Hey Sue, Hubby & I just got back from a trip from the Southern Oregan coast. We stayed at the Gold Coast which is known for its own little Eco system. Sun & no bugs. Just a mile north & south they can have heavy fog. Met up with WheelingIt at Cape Blanco where they are volunteering at the lighthouse for a free campsite. Nina just posted a review of the area that you will probably find helpful. Also, they made the drive south from Oregon last year and she has great info on the best route & campsites through California that doesn’t involve hwy 101(lots of construction) nor I 5. I will say you should make a point to hit the Redwood National Forrest. The Jedidiah Smith campground is beautiful smack in the middle of Redwood trees. Happy Coasting!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I don’t know what the Gold Coast is, but it sounds like a great place. I’ve read WheelingIt and their Cape Blanco review. Nina comments here occasionally. I’d love to see the Redwood NF… don’t know if there will be time during this trip.

  25. patricia Leonhardt says:

    Hi Sue, as always I love this blog!!! After reading the new entry I always go find a map of your location and read more about it. Gotta admit I love Oregon. Anyhow, imagine my surprise when I am looking at the photos of Ice Cap campground and who do I see? Its Spike, under the blanket! Keep up the good work!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Patricia… You make me wonder how many people are brushing up on their geography by reading my blog! Yeah, whatever photo I put in the Canine Corner automatically gets added to the slideshow. Don’t know how to prevent that. Oh well, there’s nothing wrong with seeing Spike twice IMHO!

  26. Carol says:

    the last time I was in Sister,it was105degrees,and we had to find shade for 4 horses and two.

    there is a Cool ice cream store in Sisters,but we couldn’t stop that long.

    ask in a store Where the horse camp is,goEast into the MT Jefferson Wilderness.If you come to MT Bachelor, you’re almost there,wide turnout, signcgsname is Praire or somethionly water and toilet,butCheep!!

  27. Carol says:

    sorry, going tEast, the turn out is on the left, it’s past Bachelo.

    when yyou get to thejunctionn, chooseEugene,Salem is the windy one ,beautiful,Santiam River, but no fun driving with a trailer

  28. wonderful pics…glad you found a nice campsite and got out of all that crazy traffic…I love your quilt, especially Spike under it.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Something about quilts… cheerful and cozy… They help make a house into a home. I like that they don’t grab dog hair and they’re easy to wash and dry. Spike and Bridget like them, too!

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