Collier Memorial State Park

September 4, 2017

Hit the road, Jack

We hit the road on Labor Day, taking Rocinante out for a long-awaited and lengthy tour. Initial plan included meeting friends in Vegas and then camping with them for a week across Utah and Colorado, followed by a visit to family in Kentucky whom we had not seen in far too long. After that, we'd camp our way back home and decide what adventure to start next.

As part of our effort to focus on restoring and rejuvenating instead of any kind of daily grind, we didn't blog during the trip, though we took plenty of pictures. At this point we're back home, photos are uploaded, and blog updates are baking.  So, we're catching up and sharing our adventure with you!

Follow along and let's see how that trip plan turned out, shall we?

Day One

The theme for the first day of our journey was, "Go big or don't go." The idea is that we can always tour locally and will continue to do so. Thus, the first day of our trip should be a big jump, putting us beyond our normal camping territory.  Later, our theme became, "Don't get caught in a forest fire," but that would be jumping ahead.

After a long day's drive from the Seattle area down through Portland and Salem, we cut to the east, crossing the Willamette National Forest to Sisters, OR. At this point we were already beyond the range of most earlier trips, so we were on the right track.

However, the forest between Salem and Sisters was in fact burning. At some points, the smoke was so thick we could barely see 100 yards. We even saw a few downed trees, still smoking, by the side of the road. It was a sad and scary sight, indeed.

It was never hot enough to melt the plastic coating off Rocinante's aluminum exterior, but this leg of the trip was worrisome.  Limited visibility caused by heavy smoke and the natural concern that developed when we couldn't really get a mental picture of where the fires really were or where they were moving caused a bit of tension as we drove onward through the smoke. As we continued, we often saw heavy equipment, fire fighting bases, brave folks heading into or out of the forest, and groves that had recently burned until there was nothing left but charred trunks and skeletal branches. In the end, we decided that if the road was still open, it must be safe enough to drive, and continued onward. That decision worked for us this time, though in future we might try a different approach that feels safer.

The fires were west of Sisters, but the air was still was thick with smoke when we stopped for a break. The town itself was clearly in full-on "support the fire-fighters" mode, which was good to see. From Sisters, we headed south through Bend, and then down to Collier Memorial state park for the night. It was a long day and we were exhausted when we arrived, but that big initial jump gave us a good start to our journey, quickly achieving one of the initial goals for our trip.

Collier Memorial is a lovely state park near Klamath Falls, OR. No perceptible smoke here, despite the many forest fires between Salem, OR, and this location.

It was a quick overnight stay, but we had a great time walking along the trails in and around the campground. The Williamson River runs right by the campground, and there's a walking bridge so you can cross it and explore the other side. There's also a rather iconic walking bridge over one of the entrance roads. They have a logging museum as well, but we were short on time and had to miss it. Something to see next time! The park is well worth visiting. We'd love to stay here again when we have more time to enjoy the park and take a few more pictures.

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