Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Eagle Creek Trail, the Perfect Place for a Blogger Meetup

We've stayed in Portland numerous times and, as usual, I look for new and interesting places to hike. One search a couple of years ago acquainted me with Linda, a Portlander who hikes (and skis) and writes and photographs for her blog: Linda's Lens.  We started following each other and have finally managed to meet up...over hiking and beers, of course!

Breakside Brewery was a tasty place to meet in person and choose the hike we'd do together. Eagle Creek Trail is probably the most popular trail in the Columbia Gorge, which may be the reason Hans and I had yet to hike it. Fortunately Linda was happy to take a day off from work so we could be at the trailhead early on a Tuesday. At 8:30am there were about a half dozen cars in the parking lot...when we left in the early afternoon it was overflowing.

The trail passes in and out of lush green forest.

The forest occasionally opens up to walls of lichen covered basalt and views across the canyon
with Eagle Creek tumbling along far below us.

Look away at the wrong time and you just might miss Metlako Falls,
seen from afar as it bursts from the opposite canyon wall.

Several small streams flowed into Eagle Creek from our side of the canyon.

A couple miles into the hike we reached lovely Punchbowl Falls.This is a popular turnaround point for many people, so it can get busy. I was surprised to learn it is a 100 foot drop, it did not seem that tall to me. It's a stunning setting, crystal clear water and high rock walls dripping with water and greenery.

Punchbowl Falls 
Hanging garden.

Linda in her element.

Moving on we came to a viewpoint of the top of Punchbowl Falls...
looks a little scary, doesn't it? We did not go there!

A tree fell on this bridge many months ago but it was easy to get around with the low seasonal creek flow.

Loowit Falls

It's very difficult to see due to heavy foliage, but this is a deep, narrow sliver of a gorge...

Fortunately there was a bridge over the gorge so we could look straight down into shimmering, clear Eagle Creek.

Turning around at High Bridge we made our way back into the forest...

and back along the sheer cliffs.

We followed up our beautiful 6.5 mile hike with beer and a view at Thunder Island Brewing, just down the road in Cascade Locks.

Stern wheeler on the Columbia River.

It was so much fun to meet Linda and hike one of the most iconic local trails with her. She takes full advantage of living in an area chock full of incredible photo opportunities...check out her blog for some excellent hiking ideas and her gorgeous photography. With any luck we'll meet up again down the road!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Champoeg State Park, A Beauty on the Outskirts of Portland

We've just completed a wonderful four night stay at a new-to-us park: Champoeg State Park.  Like so many Oregon State Parks, Champoeg is beautiful, well run and has lots of things to do. I wish we could extend our stay, but when Hans made our reservations way back in March he could only get four weeknights in a row; this park is popular with good reason. Details on the park are at the end of this post.

Our first day we needed to run an errand in the south end of Portland, only about 30 miles away, so we planned a couple of fun stops en route. First a nice loop hike at Tryon Creek State Park near Lake Oswego.

Hans chose to blend in on this day...see him?

Like so many hikes in NW Oregon this one was in a forest...perfect for a hot summer day.

Our next stop was the lovely Elk Rock Garden at Bishops Close. The garden was originally created by the Kerr family in the early 1900's and given to the Episcopal Church in 1957 with the stipulation that it be open to the public.

The property is perched on the cliff above the Willamette River, just visible through the trees on the right.

Moss covered stones line the paths with peek-a-boo views of the river below.

Daytime stars.

Another day we drove a loop through the beautiful country surrounding Champoeg. Dozens of wineries are accessible from just about any road in the Willamette Valley, agricultural fields give way to forested hilltops, and charming small towns pop up every few miles.

Just a few miles outside of McMinnville is Miller Woods, a conservation area owned by Yamhill Soil and Water Conservation District. We hiked a pretty 3.5 mile loop with a little bit of everything: wildlife, meadows, forest and a pond.

Great Horned Owl.

Small creeks flowed through lush forest.

Sun shafts in deep forest.

I happened to look up as we lunched under this beautiful old oak tree and fell in love with the view!

Later, on a walk in McMinnville, this frog was reminiscent of the one I'd just seen at Miller Pond.

 Campground Review

Champoeg State Park lives up to its excellent reviews. Roads and sites are paved. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring. Most sites have excellent separation as well as privacy bushes between the sites. There are eight full hookup sites, over 67 water/electric sites, plus tent sites and cabins and yurts. There are many very large/long sites, especially in Loop B.

The park is located along the Willamette River and boasts several miles of hiking and biking trails, river access, disc golf course, a unique playground, and a visitor center dedicated to the history of the area.  Lady Hill Winery right across the street from the park has some lovely wines as well!

Champoeg is an important part of Oregon's history.

We had back in, full hookup site #B25.
We had thick bushes between us and our neighbors on both sides...excellent privacy.
Also decent afternoon shade in our patio area.

Right behind our site was a path to the central restroom and this beautiful open field
with views to the forested hills beyond the park.

A long pull through site directly across from us.

You can boat in to this park and dock your boat for up to 72 hours.
There are camp sites for boaters at the top of the ramp.
Note the small sign near the top of the second post...that was the high water line during the February 1996 flood!
There was an even higher flood in 1861!!!
Fortunately the park lies a good 30 feet or more above the current water line.

Paved bike path through a meadow. Most of the trails are through forest.

We really enjoyed the disc golf course.
Though there are plenty of trees, there is very little undergrowth in which to lose discs!
Make sure you take a photo of the course layout at the start kiosk, it can be difficult to locate the next tee sometimes.

Baby acorn woodpecker...

...getting fed!

We'd definitely stay at Champoeg State Park again.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Week in Eugene, OR

We've made brief stops in Eugene, OR before but never in the RV, so this time we decided to give the city a good once over by spending a week at Armitage County Park. We had some very warm days during our stay, fortunately the real heat of the day didn't settle in until after 2pm most days so we had whole mornings for our outdoor explorations.

Eugene is an extremely bike friendly town and we really enjoyed our 15 mile loop ride on the Ruth Bascom Riverbank Path System. This paved path follows the Willamette River through the heart of the city, including parts of the University of Oregon campus.

This is one of several bike and pedestrian bridges that cross the Willamette River.

Vibrant mural on the UofO campus.

The Owen Rose Garden was adjacent to the trail. (Bikes must be walked through here.)

This magnificent Black Tartarian Cherry tree is about 170 years old.

More art along the Ruth Bascom Trail.

We took a scenic drive on highway 58 to Oakridge, OR one day, stopping along the way to play the excellent Dexter Park Disc Golf course, one of the top four courses in Oregon.

We scared a flock of geese at the first basket overlooking Dexter Reservoir.

A couple of holes were through dense forest, we learned it was important to have a spotter out front so we didn't waste too much time hunting for our discs!

Continuing our drive along highway 58 we came upon a couple of the covered bridges that Oregon is famous for.

Lowell covered bridge crosses Dexter Reservoir.
Built in 1945, the bridge is closed, the road bypasses it.

Office covered bridge is the longest in the state at 180 feet.

From the Office a fine view of the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River.

Check out this cool rig we saw near the covered bridge, it's a small trailer placed on a flatbed.
This is one heavy duty looking camping set up owned by a couple from BC and their two large dogs!

Though Oakridge, OR is not much to look at (lots of empty buildings in their downtown district) it is a mountain biking and winter sports destination. We stopped for a beer at Brewers Union Local 180 where we met a couple of guys who had just completed a 6 day mountain bike trip from Bend, OR! Brewers Union is a cute little pub with some tasty brews and good looking food (we did not eat there).

One of many murals in downtown Springfield, OR.

We played another round of disc golf at a park closer to Eugene: Stewart Pond Disc Golf course. We enjoyed how well this course was marked and that most of the fairways were pretty clear so it would be difficult to lose a disc. This course could be mucky and full of mosquito's during the wet season.

Stewart Pond disc golf course is a mixture of open meadows and forest.

A stay in Eugene would not be complete without a visit to the Eugene Saturday Market. There was a bounty of unique and beautiful handcrafted art and clothes and jewelry and eye catching summer produce. Chantal and James drove up from Roseburg and met us for a stroll around the market then lunch.

These gorgeous tomatoes caught Hans eye...but we did not buy any because Chantal brought us some of her heirloom bounty!

Excellent beer and deli sandwiches at Falling Sky Brew Pub.

I didn't even take photos of the nice little hike we took on the Ridgeline Trail System, the good beer, food and music one evening at Sprout Regional Food Hub in Springfield, or the fun dinner we had with fellow RVers Rusty and Tony, but it's easy to see our stay in Eugene was full of good times.

Today we move on to Champoeg State Park less than two hours north and just outside of Portland, OR. Unfortunately the hot weather continues; it's a good thing we'll have full hookups!