First Week in Bend, OR

Bend, OR

We arrived in Bend to sunny skies and warm temperatures.  After getting set up in our beautiful site at Crown Villa RV Resort, we spent some time sitting outside enjoying a cold adult beverage.

But the next morning things changed dramatically, with cloudy skies and cold temperatures covering the area.  We needed a little exercise so we drove down to Riverbend Park for a walk along the beautiful Deschutes River.

It was a bit cool with a strong wind in our faces as we started out.  The walk was proceeding nicely when suddenly we became aware of little flakes of white coming down out of the trees.  OK, time to turn around and head back!

The storm passed and things quickly began to improve.

As we headed back to the north the sun appeared and things warmed a bit.  We crossed the river and passed a nice metal sculpture of two horses pulling a log. The scene was to honoring Bend’s history as a lumber mill center

East Side Pedestrian Tunnel under Columbia Street

Three tall smoke stacks are all that remain of two large lumber mills that straddled the river a hundred years ago.

West Side Pedestrian Tunnel under Columbia Street

The weather remained cold and windy for the next few days.  One morning we looked out the window to the scene below.  That night the ski resort on nearby Mt. Bachelor was expecting 8.5 inches of new snow!

We finally got some sunshine on Monday, although it was still cold and windy.  We took advantage of the clear skies to visit the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, located about ten miles south of Bend.  The ranger at the gate recommended we begin our visit with a ride up to the top of Lava Butte.  Lava Butte is a cinder cone volcano that rises 500 feet above the entrance and nearby visitor center.   It can be accessed by either vehicle or hiking up a paved road. Interpretive signs, views of the surrounding lava flow and mountains, and an active fire lookout are found on top.

Lava Butte

The fire lookout on the top

Mt. Bachelor in the distance

Returning to the visitor center we met a volunteer ranger who also lives full time in an RV.  Since he and his wife are also retired educators, we spend some time exchanging stories.  One of the places in the monument he told us about is the Lava Cast Forest.  To get to that section of the monument we drove about five miles south on US-97, then nine miles east on a dirt road that ended in a small parking area.

Not too crowded today

Lava Cast Forest contains a 6,000-year-old lava flow that created casts of ancient trees.

A one mile paved loop trail takes you through the lava cast area.

What’s up with this?

A typical lava cast

Flowing lava, like any liquid, takes the path of least resistance.  When it runs into high ground it will try to go around it, creating an island in the forest.  These islands are known by their Hawaiian name, Kipukas.

A kipuka across the lava flow

At one time some of the lava casts were quite high, but the elements of nature and human abuse have caused many to lose their high tops.

Returning to the Jeep we drove about a mile back down the dirt road to take a short, two mile round trip hike on the Hoffman Island Trail.

The trail was an easy hike on what appeared to be an old logging road.

Apparently the rangers haven’t been out to check this trail yet, as we encountered a number of newly fallen trees across our path.

Be dainty now!

We found one tall cast along this trail

Mt. Bachelor

Another view of Mt. Bachelor as we returned to the highway

The forecast is for a couple more cold, wet days ahead, but then things should improve.  Once that happens we’ll be able to get out a bit more and explore this beautiful area.

More on that later . . .

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Kam Wah Chung Interpretive Center

Dayville, OR

After reading Jodee’s post (On the Road Abode) about an interesting spot in the town of John Day, we just had to check it out for ourselves.  The Kam Wah Chung Interpretive Center seemed to be a bit out of place in this small community, especially when we found that no Chinese people live in the town.  In fact, they don’t even have a Chinese restaurant.

The story begins in the second half of the 1800s when gold was discovered near John Day, bringing Chinese immigrants to the area to work in the mines.  In the mid-1880s John Day was home to nearly 1,000 Chinese immigrants who lived in an area of the town called Tiger Town.  A trading post built in the area in the 1860s was purchased in 1887 by two Chinese immigrants, Lung On and Ing Hay. They converted the trading post into a clinic, general store, and social center for the community.

The two men were very different individuals.  Ing Hay was a quiet man who was a gifted “pulsologist” and herbal healer.

Lung On was an outgoing businessman.

Once the mines closed almost all of the Chinese moved out of the area.  But Lung On and Ing Hay remained in John Day and became well-respected members of the community.  Lung On died in 1940.  When Ing Hay broke his hip in 1948 he was moved to a nursing home in Portland.  He intended to return once healed, so the door of the store was just closed and locked.  Unfortunately, he never recovered sufficiently to return and died in 1952.  Ing Hay asked that the building be deeded to the city of John Day with the provision it be turned into a museum.  His wish, and the ownership of the building, were forgotten until 1967.  While surveying for a new park, the city discovered its ownership of the building and began to restore it as it was in the 1940s.  The inside of the store today is exactly the way it was when Ing had the door locked in 1948.

The building today

The building in 1909

“Doc” Hay in his later days

A visit to Kam Wah Chung begins in the Interpretive Center,  a room filled with displays and two videos about life in the Chinese community in John Day.  In the Interpretive Center we signed up for a free tour of the nearby store.  A volunteer guide lead us (and one other person) the short distance down the road to the store where she unlocked the door and escorted us inside.  There she shared information about each area of the building.  She had some very fascinating stories.

The “general store” area just inside the entrance door

Chair where “Doc” Hay evaluated patients

Cigar boxes and tins containing “Doc” Hay’s drugs and treatments

Small kitchen and dining area

A place to sleep for 25 cents – up to 4 slept in each bunk

The loft area of the store is a small cabin that was placed up on top of the stone walls.  No one knows how the cabin was lifted up on top.  A view from the back of the building shows the cabin sitting up on top of the building.

While most Chinese immigrants left instructions to send their bones back to their ancestral homes when they died, Ing Hay and Lung On each chose to be buried in their adopted country.  We visited their gravesites in the city cemetery.

Ing Hay’s gravestone

After three nights at the Fish House Inn and RV Park in Dayville, we continued moving west on US-26.  After a drive of about 150 miles we are now in Crown Villa RV Resort in Bend, OR.  We will be here for the next month, allowing plenty of time for exploring central Oregon.

More on that later . . .

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John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Dayville, OR

Dayville is a tiny little town with less than 150 residents.  But they do have a sense of humor.

We came to Dayville because of its proximity to two of the three separate units of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.  Dayville and John Day National Monument are named for the John Day River, which flows through both.  The river was named for John Day, but you probably figured that out.  Day was a member of the Pacific Fur Company’s overland expedition to the mouth of the Columbia River in 1810.  While descending the Columbia River in April 1812, he and another trapper were robbed and stripped naked by Native Americans at the mouth of the river that now bears his name, forcing them to hike 80 miles back to friendly Indians under extreme conditions.  It is interesting that his name is used so often in this area despite the fact that he did nothing significant to deserve the recognition, nor did he ever visit the area.

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is known for its well-preserved layers of fossil plants and mammals that lived in the region millions years ago. The monument consists of three geographically separate units: Sheep Rock, Painted Hills, and Clarno.   We visited two of the units, Sheep Rock and Painted Hills, that are reasonably close to Dayville.  The Sheep Rock unit is only ten miles from town and is the location of the monument’s visitor center, the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center.

Thomas Condon Paleontology Center

After arriving in Dayville and setting up at Fish House Inn and RV Park, we drove over to the visitor center to view their video, check out the many displays, and talk to the ranger about hiking in the monument.

Sheep Rock across from the visitor center

The next day we returned to the Sheep Rock unit to hike in an area called the Blue Basin.

There are two trails in the Blue Basin.  We began by hiking the Overlook Trail, a 3.25 mile loop trail that goes steeply up 760 feet of elevation for a great view down in the Blue Basin.

Once up on the top of the mesa we could see some beautifully colored formations just to the north.

We crossed the mesa and came to an overlook with a great view down into the Blue Basin.

As the trail went down the other side of the formation we were able to view the basin from many different angles.

Colorful flowers along the trail

As we descended the Overlook Trail we could see the second trail, the Island in Time Trail, below us.

At the bottom of the loop trail we turned and headed into the basin on the Island in Time trail.  This trail is 1.3 miles round trip and has 13 open grate bridges that pass a shallow stream.

The next day we drove west on US-26 about 45 miles to visit the Painted Hills unit of the monument.  As we drove up the entrance road, but before we passed the park sign, we quickly saw why this area is called Painted Hills.

We parked across the road from the trailhead for the Carroll Rim Trail.  This 1.6 mile round trip trail climbs over 400 feet to a panoramic overlook of the Painted Hills.

The trail ends at the top of this hill

The views from the top of the hill were fantastic!


We also completed a quarter mile loop trail around a formation called the Painted Cove.

Looking down at the Painted Cove

While we don’t think there is enough to do or see in John Day Fossil Beds National Monuments for it to be a destination location, it’s a great place to visit if you are passing through the area.

We have one more blog post about our visit to the Dayville area before we move on.  More on that later . . .

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A Stop in Boise, then On to Oregon

Dayville, OR

After leaving Twin Falls, ID we continued northwest on I-84  about 20 miles past Boise, where we had two nights reserved at Ambassador RV Resort outside the town of Caldwell.  We booked two nights to give us a day to look around the city.  We intended to ride our bikes around the downtown area and nearby Boise State University.  But a cold, windy day with occasional showers limited our touring.

State Capitol Building in downtown Boise

Laurel (Raven and Chickadee) had suggested that we stop at Basque Market in the downtown area and try some of their Paella.  We stopped there in mid-afternoon and found they had one serving remaining.  We decided to split the serving , which turned out to be a good move as we found it to be large enough to feed two people.  Lauren was definitely correct, the Paella was delicious.

We really enjoy touring college campuses on our bikes, so we were disappointed with the rainy weather.  But we did get to drive through Boise State to see some of the campus.

Their mascot is the bronco

Graduation was being held the next day outside in their football stadium so people were busy setting up for the event, but we managed to talk one volunteer into letting us inside the gate for a couple of quick photos.  The facility is named Albertsons Stadium, as Boise is the corporate headquarters for the supermarket chain of the same name.

Boise State has a very successful football program and the stadium is well-known for its blue turf field.

After staying in Caldwell an extra day due to high winds and thunderstorms, we continued our journey to the west.  About 30 miles up I-84 we crossed the Snake River into Oregon.

Just a few miles into Oregon we left the interstate and headed west on US-26.  This is a nice, two lane road that winds its way through a number of small towns then up through Malheur National Forest.

The Strawberry Mountains

Coming out of the Malheur National Forest US-26 follows the John Day River past several more small towns.  We drove to the little community of Dayville (pop. 150) where we had a reservation at the Fish House Inn and RV Park.  Jodee and Bill (On the Road Abode) stayed here last year and recommended it to us.  This beautiful little facility has a few small rooms for rent and a six site RV park.  The park is immaculate, with level sites and nicely trimmed grass.

We will be here in Dayville for the next three nights as we tour parts of the nearby John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.  More on that later . . .

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From Moab, UT to Twin Falls, ID

Twin Falls, ID

We left the rocks of Moab, UT Monday morning and headed toward Salt Lake City.  As we drove north the rocks of Moab gave way to the snow covered peaks of the Manti-La Sal National Forest north of Price, UT.

Good-by rocks . . .

. . . hello mountains

Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City

We drove about 250 miles that day and spent a nice, quiet night parked in the new Cabela’s in Farmington, north of Salt Lake City.  The new Station Park shopping area right across the street has a variety of restaurants and a one of those nice chain coffee shops from Seattle!

It rained that night so the next morning we had to wait a few hours for the roads to dry.  But with that coffee shop nearby we had no difficulty with the delay.  Then, it was off to Idaho!

We had a reservation for two nights at 93 RV Park just west of Twin Falls.  We’ve never been to Twin Falls and wanted a day to explore the town.  Twin Falls is located on the southern side of the Snake River Canyon and appeared to have some interesting things to see.  Our first stop the next morning was at the visitor center located along the canyon on US-93 as you enter the city.

93 RV Park

From the visitor center you get a great view of the Perrine Memorial Bridge, a four lane truss bridge 1,500 feet long and 486 feet over the Snake River.

“The Twins” sculpture in Twin Falls

While at the visitor center we came upon a group of people wrapping parachutes on the small lawn next to a bridge view overlook.  It turns out that this bridge is the only man-made structure in the United States where BASE jumping is allowed year-round without a permit.  BASE jumping is parachuting or wingsuit flying from a fixed structure or cliff. “BASE” is an acronym that stands for four categories of fixed objects from which one can jump: building, antenna, span, and Earth (cliff).

We observed two different “styles” used in dealing with a parachute.  One is to fold it up in a pack, like the jumpers in the photos above, then free fall briefly before pulling a cord to release the chute.  The other is to hang an open chute over the railing and allow it to fill with air, then jump.  We couldn’t decide which method we should use so we just watched for a while.

Wide landing area along the river

After watching numerous jumps off the bridge, we drove about five miles to the east for a visit to the major tourist attraction in Twin Falls, Shoshone Falls.

Sometimes called the “Niagara of the West,” Shoshone Falls is 212 feet high, 45 feet higher than Niagara Falls, and flows over a rim nearly 1,000 feet wide.

While at the observation area for the falls, we overheard someone say that the river was at its highest level since 1997, which made for a spectacular scene.  In drier years, especially at the end of the summer, the flow of water is so small that all of it goes into the adjacent power plant and the “scenic” section is virtually dry.  Below is a photo we found from a drier time.  Compare it to the photo above.

Image result for shoshone falls 2016 vs 2017

There is a paved two mile biking/walking trail that leaves from the parking area near the falls that winds its way steeply up to the top of the cliff.  As you reach the top of the cliff you can see a large mound of dirt about a quarter of a mile to the west.  This mound is the remains of a stunt attempted by daredevil Evil Knievel.

Approaching Knievel’s ramp on the bike path

In September of 1974, Knievel attempted to jump over the canyon on a rocket-powered motorcycle.  Knievel and his team leased land on both sides of the Snake River and built a large earthen ramp and launch structure.  A crowd of 30,000 gathered to watch Knievel’s jump, which failed because his parachute opened too early, causing him to float down towards the river.  Knievel likely would have drowned were it not for canyon winds that blew him to the river bank.  He survived with only a broken nose.  

The ramp today (John is on the top)

Image result for evel knievel snake river canyon jump

The takeoff

The view across the canyon from the top of the ramp

We returned back down the path to the Jeep and drove about three miles further east to visit the actual Twin Falls.  The falls no longer has a twin as the southern portion was closed off to accommodate a power plant.

Another “falls” was in the center of this photo before the power plant was constructed

There was one more set of falls to visit in the area.  To get to a spot where we could view the Pillar Falls, we drove back into the city, crossed the Perrine Bridge, and made a right turn on to Shoshone Falls Road.  After two miles we turned off the road on to a dirt trail that leads to the north edge of the Snake River Canyon.

A high clearance vehicle is needed for this short path

We were a bit underwhelmed with the Pillar Falls.  Maybe it should be called the Pillar Rapids!

From the Pillar Falls viewpoint we had a great view of both the Shoshone Falls and the Knievel mound to our east.

We only spent one day in Twin Falls but really enjoyed the scenic spots along the Snake River.  Now it’s time to continue our journey to the west.  Next up is a stay in Caldwell for a visit to nearby Boise, ID.

More on that later . . .

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Moab Summary – Part Two

Moab, UT

OK, let’s finish up on our stay in Moab.


This hike begins from the parking area for the Poison Spider Jeep road (and some dinosaur tracks) along Potash Road on the north side of the Colorado River.  This is a nice hike of about 2.5 miles roundtrip that goes steeply up at the beginning, then levels out as you go up into a canyon.

David and Karen navigate the steep section of the trail

Great view of the La Sal Mountains to our east

Longbow Arch



One of our favorite hikes inside Arches NP is to the Tower Arch in Klondike Bluffs.  This hike is only about three miles round trip but it is all up and down with a stretch of deep sand to slog through.

Pam, Karen, and David make the steep ascent at the start of the trail

As you near Tower Arch you pass a smaller arch called Parallel Arch.  We’ve watched many hikers walk right past this neat little arch unaware of its existence.

Parallel Arch

Tower Arch

The view from behind Tower Arch



About ten miles out Potash Road, just beyond the Gold Bar Campground parking area, is a small parking area on the north side of the road.  This is the trailhead for the Jeep Arch Trail, a hike of about 4.5 miles roundtrip.  The trail begins by going through a large drainage tunnel that goes under some railroad tracks.

Cody is a bit reluctant to go through the tunnel

Just past the tunnel is a sign pointing the way to the trail.

This hike can be done as a lollipop, as you hike about two miles straight out, then take a loop around the arch, and return on the same trail.  We hiked the loop in a clockwise direction.

The trail goes up through the “U” in the rocks

Jeep Arch – named by ancient Puebloans

John, Pam, and Cody inside the arch

View from inside the arch

A man and his (friends) dog take a rest

Lunch with a view

View of the Colorado River on the hike back

On a return hike Cody often runs ahead to find some shade.  As we approached the tunnel he ran ahead so far we couldn’t see him.  But we knew where we would find him.

Once back to the car we drove out UT-313 a couple of miles to check out some art work along the road.

TV Sheep

Intestine Man



One day it was a bit windy and cold for hiking so we drove up into Canyonlands NP and took the Shaffer Road back down.

That’s Shaffer Road way down below

Near the end of the Shaffer Road we passed the evaporation ponds operated by Intrepid Potash.  They mine potassium by dissolving it in water, pumping the mixture up into the ponds, and letting the water evaporate leaving white potassium that is transported out of the area by train.



Our last hike in Moab was a new one for us (all the above hikes can be found in detail in older posts).  The hike up to the Portal Overlook begins in the Jaycee Campground on Potash Road.  The 3.3 mile round trip hike takes you steeply up the side of a high cliff wall for 900 ft of elevation gain.

As we gained in elevation some great views of the La Sal Mountains came into view.

The trail is a favorite of mountain bikers

The view from the top is outstanding

Below us we could see our motorhome sitting in Portal RV Resort.

Can you see it? OK, let’s zoom in a bit

Aah, there it is!

The trail continues from the overlook and eventually leads up on top of the high mesa.  Just a few feet beyond the overlook it narrows a bit and runs right along a steep cliff.  A sign warns bike riders to dismount, rather than taking a chance and riding over a large rock on the narrow trail.

The rock is dangerously close to the edge of a steep drop off

Looking at the photo below you can see Kane Spring Road across the Colorado River.  Look closely and you can see two vehicles on the road.  Both are long RV trailers!  Better not fall off your bike here!

Nice view coming back down the trail

That concludes our two week stay in Moab.  David, Karen, and Cody left Sunday and headed east into Colorado.  We left on Monday morning headed north for a couple of days in southern Idaho.

More on that later . . .

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Moab Visit Summary – Part One

Moab, UT

We’ve been very busy during our two week stay here in Moab.  David, Karen, and Cody (He’s a hiking dog!) are staying near us and have joined us for a number of adventures.   We’re behind again in our blogging so this post and the next will give a summary of what we have been up to.  Most of the hikes we did are repeats of ones we did in past visits, so if you would like more detail on one we describe now, put the name in the search engine so you can read a more detailed blog about that hike.


This hike begins at a trailhead along Kane Springs Road.  It is a nice 4 mile round trip going up and back in a mostly dry wash.

Hunter Canyon Trailhead

Little rest stop for Cody

Hunter Canyon Arch comes into view about a half mile into the hike. It sits up next to the south rim of the canyon at an angle that makes it a challenge to see through its opening.

Two miles up the wash there is a fork in the trail that makes for a good spot to turn around.  A neat opening in the rocks is in view up the right fork.

Cody likes shade, even if it is man made!



One afternoon the five of us took a Jeep ride north of Moab to visit the ghost town of Sego.  The town is about 40 miles north of Moab.  We took US 191 to I-70, went west on I-70 just five miles, and went north on Thompson Canyon Road.   The Sego Canyon site is famous for its panels of Ute and Fremont Indian petroglyphs/pictographs and Barrier Canyon style pictographs.

Ute Pictographs

Fremont Indian Art

Barrier Canyon Style art work

A few miles north on Sego Canyon Road is the remains of the town of Sego.  Formerly an important eastern Utah coal mining town, Sego was inhabited from about 1910–1955.  Today the only remaining structures are some crude dugouts and the walls of the company store.



We’ve hiked a long loop trail in the Needles district of Canyonland twice during previous visits and were anxious to return.  It is a long drive to the visitor center (75 miles from Moab) and the hike is over ten miles so we were up and on the road early that morning.  It is too long a day to leave Cody alone so David and Karen did some exploration closer to town.

UT-211 heading west into the Needles

Driving past the visitor center we turned left toward a campground, then right on to a dirt road leading to the Elephant Hill Trailhead.

The road ends (except if you have a permit to continue on a rough Jeep road) at the parking area for the trailhead.

Elephant Hill Trailhead

We have hiked this trail before so we knew it went steeply up into the rocks right from the start.

This trail is never really very flat, but after the initial climb it goes through some “fairly” level slickrock as it passes two interesting rock formations.

The Big Mac in the center and the pie on the right

The trail narrows in a few spots . . .

. . . then heads steeply down into a wash.

This is where we made a mistake.  Our goal for this hike was to get to the Druid Arch.  The sign visible in the photo below indicates distance to points if you continue straight ahead.  From previous hikes we knew that if we continued straight there would be signs to the Druid Arch, so that’s what we did.  Later, we figured out that we should have turned left at this point and continued up the wash to the arch.

Once up through a couple of very steep climbs, we entered an open area called Chesler Park.

Chesler Park

There is a great loop trail around Chesler Park that we have hiked twice.  But since our objective was the Druid Arch, we followed the signs pointing to it on the left side of the loop.  We knew something was amiss when the mileage to the arch increased on the sign from the one we passed before the wash.  We had hiked over a mile since the first sign and the miles to the arch had increased instead of decreased.  How could this be?

About a mile down on the Chesler Park trail, we came to another sign that indicated the Druid Arch was down a trail to the left.  We took that turn but it headed to the north, while we thought the arch was to the south. Hmm . . .

The arch must be down there somewhere

We continued on that trail down some steep slickrock and into a narrow rough canyon.

As we approached the bottom of the canyon we decided that the hike was getting a bit long and we were not sure just how far it was to the arch, so we made the decision to turn around.

OK, back up the steep slickrock

While we were a bit disappointed not to reach the arch, the scenery on this part of the trail was outstanding.

Lunch with a view

Needles and mushrooms

Back through the narrow section of the trail

We returned to the Jeep after almost eleven miles tired but pleases with the hike.  Since we didn’t reach the arch, we’ll have to return next year for another hike in this beautiful area.

Look for Part 2 in our next post . . .

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