Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Bend and beyond


Dillon Falls
Bend is only a short drive from Mitchell OR, so it was a nice short haul. I had planned to stay in Tumarlo State Park but as two loops had been closed for winter there were only a few sites vacant. They were either too small for us or we could only stay one night at a time, due to reservations so we looked elsewhere. We found the Expo campgrounds in Redmond just north of Bend. It had large sites, a great layout and a nice laundry.

We’d done some online shopping and had it delivered to the Bend Post Office. It was supposed to be free delivery but because they had used a courier, the Post Office charged us delivery from the point of origin to Bend again, as a penalty for not using their service. Lindsay tried to argue with them, but got nowhere. Will try not to make that mistake again.

Bend Waterfalls

I wanted to photograph the Tumarlo falls but they were closed off due to a new pipeline being built. These falls are supposed to be the highest in the area and I had just got a neutral density filter that I wanted to try out. Neutral density filters allow you to lower your f/stop and leave the shutter open for a longer time so that you can blur the water without losing all the data in the highlights. We found some other falls south of town – Dillon Falls and Benham Falls but I wouldn’t call these waterfalls.

Benham Falls

Smith Rock State Park

North of where we were staying is the Smith Rock State Park, which is a very popular place for rock climbing. There are a number of trails and we did the river trail that took us around the base of the rocks along the Crooked River. We met Tim at the beginning of our walk who was travelling on the road for a few months with his girlfriend, but she as had gone back to bed, he came with us. They had just spent a couple of years working in Seville Spain. As this is where we want to go next year I had lots of questions to ask him.

Smith Rock State Park





Rock climbing anyone?

Crater Lake

This was around the time of the hurricane down in Mexico near Puerto Vallarta and the follow on from that was affecting the weather not only in Texas but also where we were.

Crater Lake, not at it's best...

When we got to Crater Lake the cloud cover made it impossible to get any decent photographs. There had not been any sunrises or sunsets for days and the outlook was for more of the same. It’s a beautiful place and the lake is usually a brilliant blue, but as it was overcast, the water was reflecting the grey sky and was lifeless.

Crater Lake is a mountain that became a lake when a volcano erupted 7,700 years ago. A deep basin was created where the mountain peak used to be. Centuries of rain and snow have filled the basin to form a deep blue clear lake, the deepest in the USA. It has no other water source, which ensures that little sediment is added to the water. While the volcano inside Mt Mazama is currently sleeping, it is not extinct; so it could erupt again.

You can see some of the blue
Too cold, coupled with a freezing wind to go hiking, we limited our stay to the 33-mile rim drive around the lake. There are a number of easy and moderate hikes in the park, and I would have like to have seen Vidae Falls, maybe next time. The campgrounds in the park are closed at this time of year but they allow you to dry camp in the Sno Park off the highway 62 near the south entrance for free.

I had planned a trip down Highway 395 to take in Mono Lakes, Mammoth Lakes, Bishop and Lone Pine. Winter has set in early this year and nights are getting a bit cold. So with cold weather and no sunrises or sunsets, we moved south more quickly than originally planned.

Sunset at Dale & Shelly's

In Yucca Valley we caught up with our friends Dale and Shelly whom we hadn’t seen since we came back from Kenya over a year ago, could it have been that long? Understandably we had lots to catch up on. We also caught up with our friends Cameron and Christine who had lent us their house on Vancouver Island last winter. They have a permanent site in a lovely RV park and use it for the winter months in Desert Springs, which is only an hour away from Yucca Valley. Our other Canadian friends Lane and Debbie were down as well, they have a lovely renovated condo in Palm Desert, so we caught up with them too. Their street intercepts El Paseo, which is full of high-end shops and restaurants. Desert Springs is in the low desert near Palm Springs, so the weather is perfect at this time of year. We will come back here just before Christmas.


Thursday, 15 October 2015

Campground Review - Boondocking near Painted Hills OR

Boondocking site - Mitchell OR

Our site on the left as you go in the gate

Why we chose here? It is close to the Painted Hills unit of the John Day Fossil Bed National Monument

Location: Burnt Ranch Road. About 1.5 miles from the corner of the Ochoco Highway and Burnt Ranch Road. It is 4.5 miles to the Painted Hills. You can see it from the road, you can't miss it.

View from out site


There are two other BLM campgrounds further on past the Painted Hills unit. If you go to the BLM branch in Prineville they will give you a map which shows all camping and services in the area. This one is not marked on the map.



Sites: about 6. When you drive in, you have the choice or right or left. The right one is on a bit of a slope and you will probably have the area to yourself. This is the one we stayed in.

Facilities: None

Groceries: Shop before you come

Reservations: No

Cell Coverage / WiFi: None, the nearest cell/data service is at Mitchell about 3 miles from the turn off the main highway.

Price Paid: $0

Date of visit: Mid October 2015






Cheetahs, Tigers, & Camels once roamed Oregon

Painted Hills, it took me four trips to get sun on the hills
Would you believe it?

The John Day fossil beds have uncovered the bones of many extinct animals that roamed the grasslands and forests up to approximately 55 million years ago. The region was home to camels, elephants, three-toed horses, rhinos, cheetahs and tigers, amazing but true.

the first afternoon that we arrived, the sun was out


The John Day fossil beds encompass three units: the Painted Hills, the Clarno and Sheep Rock. We based ourselves near the Painted Hills and did a day trip to Sheep rock.



There are a number of short trails at the Painted Hills and we walked the Carroll Rim trail (1.6 miles), The Painted Hills Overlook Trail (0.5mi) the Red Hill Trail (0.25mi) and the Painted Cove trail (0.25mi). The whole time we were there it was overcast which made getting a photo very difficult. There are signs everywhere asking people not to walk on the hills as they are very delicate and once there are footprints they don't fade. But of course there are many many people who either can't read or don't care. It's a shame. The surface looks like a popcorn ceiling, maybe this is where they got the idea.

We gave up waiting for a sunny day and drove to Sheep Rock anyway, which is about 45 miles away. This is where the Paleontology Centre is located. Inside is a fossil museum gallery which has been very well done, it explains about all the animal fossils found in the area. This isn't the age of the dinosaurs, this is about mammals.

the Blue Basin


About two miles up the road is the Blue Basin Area. A man must have named this as it is more green than blue. When we play Monopoly Deal, it's the men who get the powder blue and powder green colours of the properties mixed up; they think they are the same, so I think it's a colour blindness. Even the crystals that we walked on were a definite green. And even Lindsay said I wonder what makes it green. So that's settled it's the Green Basin. There are two walks in the area - the 3-mile overlook trail that climbs 780ft and a one mile trail that leads you into the middle of the basin. We did both with a break for lunch in between.

Three miles long, 750ft up
Related Blogs:
BLM campground review