Where are we?
October 2003

Subj:     133. Where are we?
Date:     Monday, October 6, 2003  

We are still in Crater Lake National Park in Oregon; however, lots of things have changed. Fortunately, not the weather. We are still having days in the 60s and nights in the 30s. Generally we are having bright and sunny days.

What's changed? The campground is now closed. The Motor Inn is now closed. The campground store is now closed. It's really sad, but, we are still employed cleaning up everything and winterizing the buildings. Our last day will be October 13, two days earlier than we originally planned. We will certainly miss this place and, of course most of the people we have worked with. It's kind of like the last day of summer camp.

We still have done some interesting things. A few weeks ago we hiked the Annie Creek Trail. This trail is only 1.7 miles long. It starts in the campground and skirts the edge of a canyon. The canyon was first formed by glaciers, then, when Mount Mazama blew its top 7700 years ago, the canyon was filled with ash. Water flowed out of natural springs and formed a creek. Over the years, the creek carved a "V" shaped valley. That's what we hiked. After following the canyon, the trail decends 200 feet to a small meadow. Then the path goes upstream, crossing Annie creek 4 times. It's really a beautiful hike. Finally, you climb back up to the campground. The climb down and back up was a bit scary since you are on a narrow switchback path on the side of a very steep hill. But, the hike was something we wanted to do and was very pretty.

Now that the season is over, we have often been asked if we will return next summer. We aren't sure. Certainly we have enjoyed the summer. We enjoyed the people we worked with, the customers, our jobs, and the beautiful mountains and lakes in the area. We just don't want to make any commitment at this time.

We've attached a picture of Crater Lake with this email. It give you a small idea of just how beautiful this place really is.

The Brauers
Havin' Fun
Ending the season at Crater Lake National Park

Subj:     134. Where are we?
Date:     Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Monday, October 13, we checked out with our employer and hit the road. We met our contract at Crater Lake and have left. As much as we enjoyed our three months at Crater Lake, it's also nice to start up our motorhome and hit the road. We are now in the second largest population center in Oregon. Yes, we've been here before and are here again. The county we are in was the first Oregon County to build covered bridges on a large scale. During and after World War I, steel was in short supply but wood was plentiful, so the county kept building covered bridges. Since the covered bridges attract tourists to the area, the county is reluctant to remove them. The brochure lists a total of 20 covered bridges in this area.

As we've said before, our three months at Crater Lake was fantastic. We really enjoyed working in this beautiful place and met some wonderful people. We are sure that we will see some of those people again. Many of them will be working in Death Valley during the winter so taking a trip to Death Valley is in the planning stage. It really was sad to see the season come to an end. It's kind of like the last day of summer camp. The campground was empty, the kiosk was closed, the store was almost empty, and we were closing up and putting stuff away for the winter. However, spending the summer at Crater Lake and getting paid for it was great.

After leaving our campsite for three months, we drove out of the park to a small town called Fort Klamath. We stopped at the Fort Klamath General Store to see the 18 year old twins that we worked with. We had a pretty good lunch at the general store. Then we continued east to highway US 97. On US 97 we headed north, then we headed west on highway 58. Highway 58 goes over a pass in the Cascade Mountains and down into the Willamette Valley. We've driven that route before and it's still beautiful.

Where are we? We are in Eugene Oregon, home to Michelle, Keith, Clyde, Jenny, Zoe, and Tabatha. (That's Larry's older daughter, her husband, their two dogs and two cats.) We'll be here for several days cleaning the RV, visiting, and hopefully playing a round or two of golf.

The Brauers
Still Havin' Fun in Oregon

Subj:     135. Where are we?
Date:     Monday, October 20, 2003

We left Eugene this morning and headed north. After about 100 miles we started heading east. We didn't drive very far today, only a bit over 100 miles, but we are now in the place that was our goal. We are in a scenic area consisting of 292,000 acres of sheer cliffs, mountainous forestland, hilly deciduous woods and grassy plains. This is also a river valley with 77 named waterfalls! That's a lot of waterfalls.

Our time in Eugene was spent enjoying Keith and Michelle's company, cleaning the RV, and doing some shopping. We were even able to find a cleaners that cleaned the front shade on the RV. Because of the way the shades are made, a normal cleaners would not touch them. However, we did find a place called Evergreen Ultrasonic Cleaners that did the shade in a few hours. They really look great.

Larry really enjoyed Eugene since he played golf on three different golf courses on three different days. A total of 45 holes of golf. We won't mention his scores but the golf courses were beautiful, especially Laurelwood and McKenzie.

Now, Where are we? We are in the Columbia River Gorge at an Oregon State Campground with full hookups. The Campground is beautiful and at $12.00 per night, the cost is hard to beat. The Columbia River separates Oregon from Washington. In 1803, the US purchased most of the land west of the Mississippi from France. Because Louisiana was the real reason for the purchase, this transaction was called the Louisiana Purchanse. In 1804, Lewis and Clark set out from Missouri to map the land purchased. They were commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson. Part of their route took them down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean.

The Brauers
Havin' Fun
in Oregon

Subj:     136. Where are we?
Date:     Thursday, October 23, 2003

We actually left the West end of the Columbia River Gorge on Wednesday. Wednesday night we stayed at the East end of the Columbia River Gorge. Today, we drove to a high desert area. The town we're in is named in honor of the area's beauty. We are on the western edge of the Grande Ronde Valley at the foot of the Blue Mountains. To the East are the Wallowa Mountains.

We really enjoyed the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge. The West end, where we stayed Monday and Tuesday nights, is forested. Actually it's kind of like a rain forest with ferns, moss, and lots of trees. It's really beautiful. We spent two nights at Ainsworth State Park, a really beautiful campground. We drove part of the Historic Columbia River Highway on Monday. On that drive we stopped by at least four of the 77 named waterfalls in the Gorge including Mulnomah Falls, the highest waterfall in the Gorge at 620 feet high.

Tuesday we drove east from Ainsworth State Park. We drove all the way to Hood River and visited the fruit farms in the Hood River Valley. Many places in the valley have wonderful views of Mount Hood to the North, and Mount Adams to the South. On the way we stopped by Bonneville Dam, one of the many hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River. At the Bonneville Dam it was interesting to see a paddle wheel boat go through the locks. Watching the salmon in the fish ladder was also fascinating.

After buying some fresh fruit along the "Fruit Loop," we crossed the Columbia on a bridge and drove west on the Washington side of the river. We returned to Oregon on the "Bridge of the Gods" at Cascade Locks.

Yesterday, Wednesday, we drove the RV to Deschutes State Park where we spent the night. Again, like all the Oregon State Parks we've seen, it was beautiful. After we set up camp, we took the truck west to get a better look at some of the sights. Our first stop was the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center near The Dalles. It's also a County Museum and was really fascinating. There we learned the difference between the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the Oregon Trail. Lewis and Clark (commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson) were, among other things, were trying to find a water route to Oregon. They went up the Mississippi and Missouri River, crossed the Rockies, found the Snake and Columbia Rivers, and followed them to the Pacific Ocean. The Oregon Trail is the corridor routes created by more than 350,000 nineteenth-century emigrants as they moved west with oxen-drawn covered wagons between roughly 1840 and 1880. We hope to learn more about the Oregon Trail in the next several days. Then we drove the remainder of the Historic Columbia River Highway. The East end of the Gorge is much drier than the West end, but both are beautiful.

Where are we now? We are in La Grande Oregon. Tomorrow we hope to drive east in the truck to get some views of Hell's Canyon, the deepest river canyon in the US.

The Brauers
Havin' Fun
In Oregon

Subj:     137. Where are we?
Date:     Sunday, October 26, 2003    

Today, Sunday, October 26, we left Oregon and entered the "Gem State." The license tag for this state has the phrase "Famous Potatoes" on it. The city where we are camped is the capital of this state. Apparently the first settlers to reach this location were fur trappers. Since this place is also mentioned as being part of the Oregon Trail, it must have also been an Army Fort in the 1940s.

Our last email was sent from La Grande Oregon. We spent two nights in La Grande. While we were there, we drove the Hells Canyon Scenic Route. This was about a 200 mile drive through some interesting quaint towns on a state highway, about 50 miles on a paved, but very hilly and curvy US Forest Service Road and back to a different state highway, and finally another 40 miles on an Interstate Highway. It was a long day but it was an interesting drive. We did manage to stop by Hells Canyon Overlook and could see the canyon, the 7 devil mountains in Idaho, but we couldn't see the Snake River.

We left La Grande on Saturday and drove the RV the 40 miles to Baker City. After arriving at the campground, we drove to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. This was a very worthwhile stop and we learned a lot. In fact, we could even see the tracks left by the wagons that took about 500,000 people to Oregon over several decades.

The Interpretive Center is on Flagstaff Hill. It was at this point where the hardy people who traveled and survived the Oregon Trail first saw their "Promised Land." Even though many people stopped at the Baker Valley, the end of the Oregon trail was still several hundred miles away in Oregon City, near Portland in the Willamette Valley. There were still hard miles to go and many hazards like the Columbia River Gorge or the slopes of Mount Hood. The Interpretive Center was a great place to visit.

After leaving the Interpretive Center, we drove east to the southern entrance to Hells Canyon. Then we drove up the Canyon to the Hells Canyon Dam. The drive up the canyon to the dam was only about 30 miles but it was a beautiful 30 miles. Hells Canyon was originally called the Grand Canyon of the Snake River. It may not be as long as the Grand Canyon in Arizona but it is about 1/2 mile deeper. The drive up the canyon was wonderful. If anyone wants to take the drive we would recommend starting in Baker City, driving about 70 miles east to the Snake River, cross the bridge into Idaho, and drive north up the river. It is well worth the trip.

Today we left Baker City and continued southeast. Again we followed much of the Oregon Trail. Actually that wasn't by choice but Interstate 84 pretty much follows the original Oregon Trail from our current location into Oregon City.

Where are we? We are in Boise Idaho, the capital city of Idaho. In a few days we will continue our journey.

The Brauers
Havin' fun

Subj:     138. Where are we?
Date:     Thursday, October 30, 2003    

This is actually our second stop since we left Boise. We are now in the "Beehive" State. We are camped in the largest city in the state. It is also the capitol city of this state. Nearby is a large lake. It's a unique lake because it is large and it is salt water. This is also where the 2002 Winter Olympics were held.

We spent two days in Boise. The primary reason for stopping in Boise was to get some work done on the motorhome. Larry noticed that sometimes it felt like the engine was missing just a little. It was barely noticeable but Larry's so used to driving the motorhome he noticed it. We took it to a Workhorse Dealer (Workhorse is the company that made the chassis). The dealer discovered that the only problem was a bad spark plug wire. After changing all eight plug wires, covered by the warranty, we were set to go. The motorhome is now running like new.

We left Boise about 4:00 PM on Tuesday and headed south on I-84. We stopped at a small campground in the middle of farming country. When we registered, the manager told us about some of the sights in the area and give us a book on what was there. After reading the book, we decided to stay an extra day and do some exploring.

This area was called "The Great Rift" or the Snake River Plain. According to the book, "Great Rift Country is a diverse and incomparable regional landmass that was originally shaped by the dynamic forces of tumultuous volcanic activity." Yes, the Snake River runs through the area, but most of the time you can't see it. Why, because it is in a deep canyon. In some places the canyon is 250 feet deep, in other places it's over 500 feet deep. There are plenty of waterfalls, some seem to come right out of solid rock. But, the rock isn't really solid. It's volcanic in nature and is porous. The water seeps right through the rock.

We drove the Snake River Canyon along Highway US 30. That highway follows a similar route as the 160 year old Oregon Trail. Yes, we saw areas that still had the wagon ruts from the Wagon Trains along the Oregon Trail.

The route we took brought us into Twin Falls Idaho. It turns out that Evel Knievel did not jump Hell's Canyon, although we remember various news reports claiming that's where his jump was attempted. As it turns out, the jump was attempted across the Snake River Canyon near Twin Falls. In 1974 Evel Knievel attempted a motorcycle jump across the Snake River Canyon. He had a rocket powered motorcycle. As soon as he left the ramp, his parachute deployed and he ended up 500 feet below in the canyon. The launch ramp is still there as well as a plaque commemorating the event. Just for the record, he survived with relatively minor injuries.

Today we left that area of Idaho and headed south. We wouldn't take too much time describing our trip today except that, as soon as we drove through a town called Snowville, it started to snow. We drove the last 100 miles in snow flurries. Yes, there is some snow in the campground where we are staying for a few days.

Now, Where are we? We are in Salt Lake City, Utah. A city known for winter sports, in a state that's know for excellent skiing. The Utah license plates say Ski Utah at the top and, The Greatest Snow on Earth on the bottom. However, we prefer warm sunny skys.

The Brauers
Havin Fun
In Salt Lake City Utah.