We decided to take a few days getting down to Sisters, Oregon for the Outdoor Quilt Show and five days of quilting classes for Wendy. Our first night was spent in a newish RV park in Connell, Washington, about a five-hour drive from home. Connell’s main industry is the correctional facility just up the hill.
We set off relatively early for our drive to the Deschutes River State Park on the Columbia River, with plenty of time for the four-hour drive. We chose to travel along the north side of the river, on a two-lane highway. Nice views and sparse traffic. We stopped at a boat launch and park in Roosevelt and saw a couple of Bullock’s Orioles on our stroll with the dog. Coming our of the park, we got a phone call from the State Park informing us of a grass wildfire that was burning just west of the campground. By the time we got to the Maryhill bridge, we could see the smoke settling right in the area of the park.
The smoke was pretty thick when we reached the state park and let them know we wouldn’t be staying. We headed south up to the plateau and were lucky enough to have good cell reception and a phone app that allowed us to search for RV parks on the way. We found a place in the rural community of Metolius, Oregon, just a few miles south of Madras. The RV park was decent enough so we booked it for two nights. The wildfire meant that we missed floating in the Deschutes River, but we gained the chance to explore a new area. Here’s the view from across the road from our RV park.
The afternoon we arrived at Metolius, we took a drive to the nearby Billy Chinook Reservoir. A dam backs up three rivers into a dramatic cliff-edged desert canyonland.
The next day, we explored Smith Rock State Park. Way back when Doug was still rock climbing, Smith Rock was one of those places he’d hoped to visit. I think we still own a vintage rock-climbing guide for the area. We were pleasantly surprised to see that the park offered hiking trails as well. We walked down into the Crooked River valley and up the Misery Ridge trail. It was hot and steep, but Doug’s new knee handled the steep steps easily.
Smith Rock State Park (Misery Trail on right side of photo)
The trail winded over to a view of Monkey Face and down the other side. There was a group doing some rope work across and down.
Along the trail, we saw Sage-brush Mariposa Lilies and viewed this family of ravens on the cliff above.
A peregrine falcon family was nesting on the cliff facing the visitor centre (no picture but Wendy had a good long look in the binos). She also saw bank swallows feeding young, vesper sparrows and rock wrens.