For many it is the journey, not the destination. For today’s post, that is what it will be for us. For the last five days we have been on the road to Oregon and the cool coast of the Pacific Ocean. But for you non-geography majors, that means about a 1300 mile drive from Tucson. In this case, across some of the most diverse landscape in the country, most all of it some kind of desert.
Our journey started early, departing from Tucson as early as we could get around. It has been in the low 100’s all week and it was already 85 degrees at 7:00 am! By the time we got to Phoenix it was already 112! Needless to say, we had the generator running in the motorhome while we were driving with both roof air conditioners running. Unfortunately, before we made it to Kingman, both had quit. We were not sure why, so shut them off and tried again north of Kingman. Nothing. Well this was not a good start to our trip through the hottest part of the United States in the hottest month of the year. We toughed it out and pressed on. Driving across the Hoover Dam is no longer an option for us “big rigs” but the new bridge gives an impressive view of the dam and Lake Meade.
By the time we got to our overnight stop in Las Vegas at Nellis AFB RV Park it was 120 degrees, and us with no AC! The park hosts were super and moved us to a site in almost complete shade.
To make a longgggg story short after a couple of calls to our trusted RV service expert, we were at the point of either overheating the compressors or total replacement. We would need to leave them off and wait. Lowe’s to the rescue with a portable room AC and we finally got things cooled down.
Day two started early, o-dark thirty as we say. We were on the road by 6:00 and it was already 80 degrees. Fortunately for us the temperature stayed near there most of the day, at least til noonish so we could just open windows and have the breeze to keep us cool.
We drove up Hwy 95, the ET Highway, all the way to Fallon, NV. The beginning of the real desolate landscape was starting. As we drove through Indian Springs and past Creech Air Force Base the starkness of the area really hit home for Jennifer. Her comment had something to do with what would have happened to me had I gotten us stationed there. Temperatures seemed to be holding steady in the low 80’s as we drove through Tonopah and to Hawthorne, NV. The towns along the road were actually much more populated than we thought.
But the landscape continued to get more and more barren. In addition to the barren scenery, smoke from the California wild fires was getting thick and really obstructing any kind of mountain views we might have had.
By the time we had driven through Reno and gotten to our overnight stop in Bordertown, NV, Jennifer was making it perfectly clear to me this route was a “one-and-done” event.
Once we had arrived and connected to electricity for the night, we decided to try the roof air conditioning units in the motorhome. Imagine our elation when both air conditioners not only came on, but ran “normally”. We decided to try them some more the next couple of days and hoped it was just an overheat in the 115 degree weather and not a failure.
Day three was actually a travel day we were more excited about. Driving through Northern California and into Southern Oregon. After a good evening of cooling with the ACs, and temps that dropped down into the 60s over night, we even got to sleep with the windows open and a light blanket :). Our route today headed up through Susanville on Hwy 395 and then up Hwy 89 to Mt Shasta, OR. The first part of the trip was a little nostalgic, as it reminded us of the high desert when we lived in Idaho. Then, finally back into the green of ranch country and the pines of the high forests.
The Lassen area was absolutely beautiful and we now will need to make a return trip to see Lassen Volcanic National Park. However, by the time we got to the town of Mt Shasta and the interstate we were exhausted from all the curves and hills of the mountain roads. The interstate proved to be little better, but much wider and easier to drive. Unfortunately the smoke was getting worse.
We saw the remnants of a very recent fire in California just south of the Oregon border. Houses burned and large tracts gone, so sad. On a big giant barn that had been saved, the owner completely repainted it with “Thanks Fire Fighters”.
Our site at Seven Feathers in Canyonville, OR was very nice, and we cranked up the AC once more. It ran pretty much flawlessly that evening and the next day.
Day five was our short day. We had a lazy morning and started out to our first long term stop, North Bend, OR. We had two choices of routes to take and finally settled on a northerly one. The southern route was shorter, but we had heard it was very curvy. The northern route included a 24 mile leg of “narrow” road. We opted go north. It was very pretty and followed along the Umpqua River all the way to the coast.
As it turned out, the road we took was curvy enough, so I wonder what very curvy means??? Spectacular scenery along the river. The sky was clear and blue with no smoke, the water a brilliant blue and the forest thick with pine trees.
We arrived at our destination, Coos Bay, just after lunch. We are a day early, so are testing out our new solar system in dry camping until our site is open tomorrow. Wonderful weather, a light breeze and 68 degrees at 4:00 in the afternoon. Last time we experienced this cool of a temperature was back one February morning in Tucson.
We even managed to see Umpqua lighthouse at an active Coast Guard Station and walk the beach at Horsfall Recreation area (yes, that is the correct spelling) before supper.
If you made it all the way to the end of this blog, you noticed I may have either miscounted my days, or skipped day four. Not to worry, it was intentional. Stay tuned for our next entry for what we did on day four.