Saturday, August 19, 2017

Our trip to the the total eclipse.


This is a once in a lifetime bucket list trip.  We headed north on Saturday headed for the total eclipse in Oregon. I-5 was heavy with traffic all the way to Weed where we turned off and headed for Lake Shastina, our camp for the night. We did run into smoke from the forest fires around Corning CA, it was to be our companion for a long time.   Lake Shastina was a free camp site I found on a great site that lists NFS and other campsites a little or no cost to camp. Expected the campground to be full but were surprised that many sites were open. 

Our camp for the night, smoke so thick in the sky you could look at the sun. 

Sunset was red, the pictures do not do the color justice. 
A couple of happy campers.

We did a walk around the campground and had a steak on the grill for dinner. Most campers were in tents, they are still true campers. There were only a couple of big RV's who spent the night. 

Sunday our plan was to head north back on I-5 to Central Point OR and the Rogue Cheese Factory. I-5 was packed with traffic as it had been the day before. We stopped and looked at Ashland OR; had coffee at the Growler Brothers coffee and beer shop. Had to send a picture of the beer taps to my son in law Ryan. 

We had reserved two nights at Crater Lake NP a full year ago. Our plan was to get up early and drive to the area of the eclipse. After seeing the amount of traffic and listening to the radio we changed our plans. We would look for a place to stay tonight were we could see the eclipse without moving the truck. Found three possibilities on web and decided to head for Sisters Bolder just out of Sisters OR. First we needed to try the Rogue River Blue cheese. If you are in the area the Rogue River Cheese factory is a great stop.  
Lots of samples of their cheese and they were sampling Balsamic vinegar served over the blue cheese and a pear slice on a crisp cracker. Yes we had to buy a bottle. They also had grilled cheese sandwiches and a made in house rootbeer.  We left full and with cheese for the fridge. 

Next we were off to  Crater Lake to check in so we did not lose our campsite and then off to Sisters Bolder.  Highway 62 out of Medford to Crater Lake was a nice road with very little traffic. We are still in the smoke and can see fires in the distance. We checked in to Crater Lake and found a campsite. Large signs that they have a water shortage, showers were limited on time and may be cold. Not sure how heating water and the shortage ties together.  We took the north rim drive around the lake back to Hwy 97. There were several miles of gravel road and construction. Traffic picked up when we got to Hwy 97, our plan to drive up today was looking good.  We found Sisters Bolder and it was not as described.  We did pop up the camper and looked around. In the trees with limited view of the sky, not good for viewing the eclipse. Also the area did not have a good feel to it. Joint decision was made to try our second choice Skull Hollow campground north east of Redmond OR.  Almost sure the campground would be full but thought we could find somewhere near to camp. The campground was full but we drove around and checked it out. The camp host stopped us and said all was full,  he told us down the road we could find camping. Nice guy who was over run with campers. 

Just up the dirt road we saw two other pop up campers and asked if we could join their camp. Nice people and we set up camp. 

Great spot with a clear view of the sky. Just a few clouds that were forecast to clear tomorrow. 

Quiet night with just a few campers coming into camp late. Woke up to clear skies and no smoke. This was the day we were waiting for. 

Chairs and table set up for the big event. 

Our view over the valley, clear and no smoke. 

The eclipse starts slow as we watch through our glasses. At around 80% you can feel it start to cool off. At 99% it is still light and you can not look at the sun without glasses. At 100% it gets cold, cannot see anything through the glasses. WOW look at the sun and see the corona in a dark sky, stars are out and there is a 360 degree sunrise.  We had about 1min and 30 seconds of totality. The experience far exceeded my expectations. 

Did not take a lot of pictures, the pros can get better shots than us with our Iphones.  We just took it all in, an experience I will not soon forget.

Note it was much darker than the pictures with our Iphones made it look. 

After the sun started to return many people started to leave and try and beat the traffic. We closed up the camper and joined the fun. There were cars parked everywhere along side the small roads out of Redmond.  We got on 97 for a long trip to Crater lake.  May have taken 2 hours long extra to make the drive to Crater Lake. Several small towns had one stop light.  Traffic was backed up for miles for the light,  took 30 minutes or more to get through each of the small towns. 

We left the traffic behind when we turned off Hwy 97 to Crater Lake. As we drove up the mountain we also drove back into the smoke. 

Smoke was filling the basin around Crater Lake.

Would have been a beautiful view without the smoke. 

You could see the fires as we drove in on the north rim.   Really sad to see the forest on fire. 

More fires in the distance, this area needs rain. 

We had made reservations at the Crater Lake Lodge for dinner.  We always try to have dinner at the great lodges of our National Parks. It as been 25 years since we have dined at Crater Lake.  There was a nature talk before our dinner and we enjoyed learning some history about Crater Lake. The park rangers do a great job.  We have dined at Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon and Glacier National Parks. 

Enjoying the view in a rocking chair on the deck of the Crater Lake Lodge. 

These plates could be older than I am. You do get great service at the lodges. 

Our walk along the rim trail after dinner.   Will have to come back when the smoke is gone.  

This tree is still living and hanging on. Summer is short at Crater lake. We have tried to go in June and the park was closed because of snow.

Our final picture of Crater Lake before heading for the campground and our last night on the road.

Tuesday we got up and headed for home.  Hwy 97 was still heavy with traffic, slowing at every traffic light. Picked up I-5 at Weed, traffic was like driving into the San Francisco bay area.  Moving fast and heavy.  I was glad it was moving and not stop and go.  If the schedule works we might try to see the next eclipse April 8, 2024. Might see the eclipse twice in  a lifetime.  

Monday, October 10, 2016

Fall Color High Sierras, Oct 2016

Reminder, click on any picture to see a larger view. 

Fall color in the high Sierra is a must see. We decided to make the trip up and over highway 88, highway 89 and down highway 395 looking for color we go. We left just before lunch, on the way we stopped at the Lockeford Meat and Sausage Co. This some of the best sausage you can buy, we got two we had not tried to take on our trip. Next we stopped for lunch at Clements Ridge on the corner of Hwy 12 and Hwy 88. I highly recommend the tri-tip sandwich, one of the best I have had. Bakery items looked great but not on the diet. Our plan was to drive up Hwy 88 and check out Hope Valley always a great spot for fall color.  This year did not disappoint.

We had planned to camp at the Hope Valley Campground. The NFS had already closed the campground for the winter. WTH are they thinking with all the people coming up to look at the color? The PG&E camp at Blue Lake was open but it just did not fit for where we wanted to camp. Decided to head for Markleeville as I knew of a smaller campground, found it was closed.  Saw a sign that Monitor Pass was closed for an accident so we headed for Grover Hot Springs State Park and found a campsite for the night.  Quiet with not many other campers, enjoyed a nice campfire and read our books until too dark to read. 

Our camp for the night at Grover Hot Springs.

We were up early after a great nights sleep in the camper. Cold morning but not as cold as I thought it would be. After we had breakfast we lowered the top and headed back to Markleeville. Found the sign was still showing Monitor Pass closed. Asked why and we were told a tanker driver took Monitor to save fees going into Nevada. He crashed and spilled his load, haz-mat clean up and had been closed for a few days.  Not much to do except head to Hwy 395 through Minden NV.  I had not been that way in years, area has grown. We passed back into California at Topaz Lake, somewhere I had never been. I always turn up Monitor Pass when on my motorcycle. Heading south we turned off Hwy 395 to go back to Virginia Lakes. You climb fast as you head up the mountain, the lake is over 9,700 feet in elevation. The colors made this trip up the mountain well worth the drive.

Getting near lunch time we decided to make the stop at Whoa Nellie Deli. This is one of the best gas station restaurants you will find anywhere.  Just before we got to Lee Vining there was a flagman stopping traffic. The fire last year burned the area by Mono Lake. The hill was being covered with chainlink fencing to keep the rocks from falling when the winter rain falls. 

Two really talented crane operators putting up the chainlink.

I stop at Whoa Nellie Deli every year on my birthday motorcycle ride, Normal lunch is their Caesar Salad with a perfect skirt steak on top. It is huge so I decided on pork tacos, Veronica had the fish tacos. Both were good, the pork may be some of the best carnitas I have every had.

 Everything is good, one item that they do not have every time is the Cream of Mushroom Sherry Soup. That is what we were hoping to have. If you stop and they have it give it a try.

Heading south after lunch we turned on the June Lake loop. This is another area that has great fall color.

From June lake we headed south to Convict Lake. As I am typing I realized we passed by Lundy Lake guess that will be on next years trip. Lots of history at Convict Lake and may be our favorite lake for the view.

Heading down 395 our next turn is to McGee Creek. Another recommendation from California Fall Colors. Short climb from 395 and you are in a picture perfect valley of aspens with great color. The parking lot at the end of the road was 1/2 full of cars. This is a trailhead going to the John Muir Trail. Hope everyone hiking and camping were aware of the weather coming in.

Our plan for the day was to drive down to Bishop Creek and find a camp for the night. We changed our mind when we passed McGee Creak Campground. Looked interesting and we drove in on the way down. Found a great site and spent the afternoon walking the creek and enjoying our books. For those who prefer an campground McGee Creek is a fine NFS campground with flush potties.

View from the road above.

Our camp for the night.

Another fine night in our Four Wheel Camper. This was a cold night, I have the thermostat set for 40 degrees when we sleep. At 6:30am it goes up to 70 degrees so we get up to a warm camper. This morning the heat came on just before 6:00am as the camper was 39 degrees inside.

Today we drive to Bishop and turn up Hwy 168. We have camped at Bitterbrush Campground just out of Bishop on our way to the FWC rally.  Today we are headed farther up the road to South Lake and Sabrina Lake.

Both roads to South Lake and to Sabrina Lake had great color. We did check out some of the campgrounds on the way for future travel. Our plan for the day was to head back and over Tioga Pass staying at Porcupine Campground in Yosemite. We were sure the valley campgrounds would be reserved.  Timing was just right so Veronica suggested we have lunch again at Whoa Nellie Deli. We had hoped for Cream of Mushroom Sherry Soup but it was not to be.  We split the the Caesar Salad with shirt steak.

After lunch we headed up Tioga Pass and stopped at Olmsted Point for the view.

Never underestimate the draw of Yosemite NP. Wednesday night in October and Porcupine Campground is FULL.  No camping in Yosemite for us tonight. Nice thing we are only a couple of hours from home.