Deschutes SRA (3)

Fifty dollar view

En route from La Pine to Deschutes, we decided it was time for a grocery restock. Bend seemed the logical best choice and it even had a shopping center with both Whole Foods and Safeway. We discussed going to the Walmart Super Center, but I wanted pretentiously expensive produce and it seemed like the parking lot was large enough for trailer parking. I even looked at Google Street View to verify that there were pull through double spaces with no curb. That turned out to be only partially accurate, and also irrelevant because the place was packed. We did a once through the whole lot, pondered a place near the big truck delivery area, and aborted in favor of street parking a block away. Shopping with a trailer is not always easy. Once we’d loaded up with an overkill of all the things, I crammed another week’s worth of food into Dory and we continued on our way.

Shaniko Ghost Town

We were thinking of taking a rest break at this place off Highway 97 called the “mountain identifier” which has a metal plate on the ground with arrows and labels to tell you the names of all of the mountains on the horizon. We’d stopped there once before and it seemed fun, even if all the mountains would be obscured by cloud cover. There was a brown sign for it, but the approach was dodgy coming from the south, and I had a string of cars behind me. I didn’t feel like risking a left hand turn off the highway at that point, so we just drove past. Instead, we stopped at a very old timey looking place called Shaniko. There were historic old buildings there, plus non historic ice cream. We didn’t know it at the time, but would later learn that this little ghost town was an important trading hub for the early settlers. I’ll bet the early settlers did not have ice cream. But maybe they had whiskey and that probably made it ok.


We arrived at the pretty campground with plenty of time to set up; perhaps too much time. Our site was angled such that the premium side window view stared right into someone else’s set up. We decided it was worth it to spin Dory and point her more toward the river. We used the Caravan Mover to perform the spin, but missed an important obstacle. Richard did a great job watching out to make sure the CMs did not hit the oversized concrete curb at the back of the site while I initially backed in. Unfortunately, in repositioning, we both missed noticing that the port side CM cover made contact and scraped its bottom. There was no apparent damage done beyond messing up the protective cover and that piece can be ordered for the low low price of $50. That turned out to be an expensive view.

Million dollar view

We didn’t have specific designs on what to do at Deschutes for a two night stay, and I was not interested in rainy boating. Richard settled on trying out a ride up Moody Road, close to the campground, and got confirmation that the whole thing was paved. Here’s the thing about information: sometimes it is wrong. In this case, it was wildly off, and the road he started climbing became gravel after about a hundred feet. He was bummed and ready to pout and give up. I was not going to allow that and shoved him back out. The shove included me driving him to the start of the Mark O Hatfield Historic Columbia River Trail, about 30 miles from the campground. He got to bask in four and a half miles of car free spectacular riding, and then joined historic Highway 30 all the way to The Dalles. That sure did the trick in saving the day and I got to drive Highway 30 too. That is one of the most impressive stretches of road anywhere. The wildflowers were going nuts all along the way, and the wind was at Richard’s back the whole ride.

Hank, the American Kestrel giving you side eye

We met up at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum and spent over an hour enjoying the high-end exhibits and listening to a docent give a talk about the American Kestrel. A few takeaways from the experience: never try to raise your own raptor (unless you are an expert), pioneer life had no patience for WLBs, and damming rivers can really screw things up for the people who lived there. It is an incredibly well done museum and I highly recommend it.

Best Ice Cream Ever

After that, we were feeling peckish and found an ice cream place rated 5.0. Richard was incredulous and we simply had to verify it for ourselves. Shannon’s Ice Cream, located on E 4th Street in The Dalles, is not overrated, according to us. As I walked in, I could not resist the tantalizing smell of freshly made waffle cones. It has been forever since I’ve had one of those, but man, these were good. Mine was still warm and had a chewiness that perfectly complimented the large chunks of chocolate in my mint chip. Oh my god. It was so good.

Beautiful little campground, but watch out for the goose poop. Or just accept that you’re going to step in goose poop.

That was a satisfying two night stay, even with the weather being uncooperative. The forecast is dauntingly wet for the next several days and it remains to be seen whether Richard will get to do a particular ride he’s been looking forward to around Coeur d’Alene. One thing we are reflecting on is the difference between wing-it vs planned travel. Having everything reserved ahead of time definitely reduces our anxiety (although we more than make up for that by finding other things to be anxious about). The trade off is that we can’t be flexible and wait out the weather if there is something we particularly wanted to do in an area. Nor can we up and spontaneously change plans without losing a string of reservations. Both have their pros and cons, but one thing is certain: travel is about the unexpected, and that is (usually) what makes it an adventure.

Total miles from La Pine: 166.2, 20.3 mpg, 6 hours 24 min (with shopping stop in Bend). Site A12 electric and water hookups. No dump. Great cell service for both. Trains right next to campground but slept through. Next time it would be nice to get a site on the outside of the loop.

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