Last weekend’s two day adventure really got me wishing for an extended road trip. When my parents lived in Rapid City, we’d pack up at least once of year and drive from Portland to South Dakota through beautiful country. We spent countless spring breaks and summer vacations with our kids exploring National Parks of the western U.S. and we have lots of great memories we’ve made along the way.
Since neither of us are retired yet, our Aistream adventures are usually just weekend trips that consist of no more than 2-3 days. We pick campgrounds close to home so we don’t spend more time driving than we do camping. Lucky for us Oregon is a beautiful state and we have a large variety of beautiful places to visit just an hour or two from home. These close-to-home trips are great little getaways that we always look forward to, but it’s not quite the same as jumping in the car and just driving…until you find something/somewhere that you want to explore.
This weekend started out as a typical “Let’s just get out of town” trip. There was nothing we had to do at home this weekend and the forecast was calling for overcast skies and drizzle. So, I searched online for the nearest campground that at least had at least some chance of sunshine. I grabbed a spot at Memaloose near the Dalles and off we set. No adventure expected. Just some quiet time in the sun with a cribbage board and some good books. We spent Friday night at Memaloose State Park which we usually really enjoy. But, since I booked so late, the only site left was near the highway and you couldn’t get away from the constant hum of traffic. We rolled into the campground around 6 pm…enjoyed our evening free of rain and then decided to pack up and leave early in the morning and head east. We had no plans, but figured if we couldn’t find anywhere to stay, we’d just head home early.
Saturday morning rolled around and we were off with no particular place to go. The drive down the gorge toward central, Oregon is a pretty one. I love driving through the huge windmills through farmlands and small towns. We ended up heading through the Ochoco National Forest towards the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. We passed many, many federal campgrounds along the way and most were almost completely empty. This was something we don’t see often since campgrounds closer to Portland are usually always full. We ended up finding a sweet little spot on BLM land right on the John Day River – it was beautiful! We ended up camping near another couple in a 19ft Bambi that were recently retired. They both played the guitar and it was quite wonderful sitting outside at night listening to sounds of the river, crickets and the soft strumming of guitars.
We spent a little time at the John Day Fossil beds the next day – but with a 5 hour drive home so we didn’t hike around as much as we would have liked. We saw a lot of beauty in a short two days – most of it from the car windows. Looking forward to that time in life where we really do have the freedom to just keep going..