We headed into Baker City and the Mt. View RV Park a day early (on Sunday) to attend the Lazy Daze Northwest Get Together. Mt. View was a good name for the park. All around us, when the clouds weren’t too low, mountains rose and just a short walk outside the park revealed wonderful views.The weather has remained wet but as yet, not too cold. That would change. Mary wanted to get in early so we had a day to grocery shop, do laundry, and generally prepare for the next three days of friends and food.
When we got in, I discovered my friend Jim Melvin who I met at Quartzsite in 2011 was already here. Jim is in my Nomads project and has been full timing for several years now. I didn’t know he was even in the area. He greeted us with big hugs and later introduced us to his new traveling companion, Chica. We spent most of the rest of the day on chores, greeting other early arrivals and catching up with those we had met at an earlier GTG.
In the morning, Mary and I took off for a little sight seeing. We were expecting our friends Don and Dorothy into camp at some point, but didn’t know when, so we figured we’d scope out the area a bit. We headed back up into the mountains to the Sumpter Dredge. This is gold country and the massive floating gold dredge was used for several years to sift up the yellow stuff. All around were piles of displaced gravel the dredged had deposited as it dug it’s way through the area. It pulled in millions but never was profitable and in fact was retired 10 million in debt. Somebody got rich, but it wasn’t those actually doing the work.
Before the dredge, we stopped briefly at the Cracker Creek Museum of Mining. Nothing in the area has really ramped up yet for tourists, and this place was pretty much devoid of information and people. We just wandered around looking at all the old rusty stuff. It was about here that I discovered I’d left the battery for my camera in it’s charger back in the RV. I did have my memory card however, so I just pulled it out and used it in Mary’s camera from time to time. Mostly I used my iPhone and Instagram. After the dredge, we did a further drive to the ghost town of Granite. It turned out not to be one of the most interesting of ghost towns we’ve seen, but I was amused at the motto for the local “inn: “Desolation at it’s Finest”.
Pulling back into the RV park was pretty cool. Quite a few more LD’s had come in by now – still less than half that were expected – and it was great to see so many rigs lined up. By tomorrow, there will be another 16 or 17 for a total of 34 or so all together. Don and Dorothy had arrived by now, so we all sat around catching up for awhile before retreating to our respective rigs to prepare for the first potluck.
The meeting room here is a bit small for this big group, but it worked out OK as some chose to eat outside, or in their rigs when the colder weather moved in. As is usual, there were mass quantities of food and it was all good. After dinner Pete Reed, the Wagon Master, introduced new attendees and made announcements. He did his usual thing with an auction of donated RV items each night. We managed to get away with only the purchase of 1 item – a low beach chair. Not really sure what we will do with it, but the money goes to the Lazy Daze group kitty, so is for a good cause. I spent some time photographing the various gatherings for the group, but I think I proved again why I will never be an event photographer.
For the first 2 mornings, we gathered again for a group breakfasts. Don and Dorothy were the brave early risers, along with Yaeko and Len, who did the food prep and cooking. Pancakes, bacon, eggs, OJ, and coffee. Whew! We wanted to work off a little of the food, but the weather took a very cold turn with snow flurries, some rain and wind and lots of clouds.
We opted to drive up to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. It really is a terrific museum. It sits high up on a hill and overlooks the entire valley with wonderful panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. The exhibits are laid out in a way that does a great job of expressing the difficulties of the east to west crossing from start to finish. There was a miniature hands-on exhibit of Conestoga wagons and the various items emigrants had to choose from to bring along. What do you consider essential to bring with you and would fit into your wagon? The cast iron stove? 60 LB keg of whiskey (this one seemed always to be included). Salt? Water? Fine china? Grandma? Much was thrown overboard as weight became an issue.There were interpretive trails all around the area but it being so cold and windy, we chose to just drive down to the trail ruts exhibit. This is the remains of the overland route the emigrants actually took with their wagons. Really, only indents and slightly sparser vegetation. If you didn’t know what it was beforehand, you probably would think it was just an old road. It was only really impressive if you think about what was here at the time – pretty much nothing. Having worked up an appetite, we all headed back into town for a fine lunch at the Geiser Grand Hotel. This is a pretty quiet little city and really has the feel of small town USA. I think it is actually one of the largest cities in this part of Oregon, which gives you an idea of how populated the area is (pop 9,738).Wednesday eventually rolled around and it was time to say our goodbyes. We’ve decided to caravan up to the Palouse of eastern Washington with Don and Dorothy. We haven’t really traveled with anybody on these trips before, so this is a welcome change for us. They are from Alabama and we enjoy the glimpse of southern life they express. We get along well, so it should be a fun time.
But first we have to weather out the Memorial Day weekend. Mary and I were caught a little off guard about this. For some reason, we forgot what happens on this weekend – the start of the vacation season. When we began looking for state or RV parks to make reservations we discovered most places we wanted to be were already booked. We did eventually find some first come first served spaces at Union Creek, about 16 miles south of Baker City. It is actually a really nice forest service run campground on a lake. It has water and electric hook-ups and nice large spaces. We had to get there early on Thursday as this weekend is also a massive flea market in the town of Sumpter (where the dredge is). It is just a few miles from us and this campground will be full by Friday morning. We probably wouldn’t have chosen it if we felt we could get in somewhere in Washington, but it having hook-ups on what is forecast as a cold and wet several days was a powerful persuader. There isn’t a lot to do around here, but given the circumstances, it’s the best choice. We will be pulling out of here on Monday the 27th.