On The Road Again

Mel helped me dump the tanks this morning, and Ruth gave me raspberries. The two girls, Libby and Lena came by to talk. Their father Dave came over to wish me well on my trip east. Ruth's good friend Nancy had come for an overnight visit the day before, so she saw me off as well. I left Pleasant Hill with food (blueberries in my little freezer, strawberries in the refrigerator, and the raspberries), hugs, and a promise to return. The first stop was at Costco for $3.43/gallon gas, and then I headed east. I was feeling fine behind the wheel, self-contained and self-directed. I have no more promised stops until I get to my own place. I travel as unencumbered as I can be while driving a small house down the road. 

I took the road over the McKensie Pass. It is closed in winter, and this year opened on June 21, yesterday. The hairpins are so tight they do not allow rigs longer than 35 feet, and I thought it was tight even for my 24-foot unit. They marked each thousand foot as the road cliimbs higher, with a speed limit of 15 mph at the curviest spots, no shoulders, two narrow lanes. There were few cars and some exceptional bike riders making their way to the 5,323-high pass. I am very glad I didn't chicken out and take route 20 around to the north. At the high points there were still drifts of snow over 3 feet deep, and the volcanic landscape was mountains made up of chunks of black porous rock. I got out of the car at the lava field for Belknap Crater, and walked over the black surface of broken and fused patches. I did some research tonight, and found that Belknap is one of the youngest craters, at 1,500 years old. Its lava flows cover 40 square miles. Old conifers hold on to the black ground with twisted lichen-covered branches reaching out to claim their small piece of an inhospitable land. After 1,500 years the ground is still jagged, still black, still new. On the east side of the pass I dropped back down into the high plains of central Oregon. Sisters Oregon has an elevation of 3,168 feet, and Brothers, a little further east, has an elevation of 4,639 feet. sagebrush coats the landscape. The weather was rainy almost all the way to the day's destination in Burns, Oregon (at 4,147 feet). The clearing skies also brought a powerful wind, and I was glad to be parking instead of driving. Even parked, the RV rocked side to side as the wind caught it. After a while the wind stopped and the sun came out briefly before it set. I am in for the night, with warm comforters and a cozy bed.

In the lava field:

High plains: