10 amazing days + mishap - Eastern, OR - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-02-2010, 01:52 PM   #1
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10 amazing days + mishap - Eastern, OR

Just back from 10 days - Portland to KFalls to Lakeview to Hart Mtn. to Steens and then home. Camped at a glorious little place on the Fremont NF for a few days then a lovely place just off the road outside of Plush for a night (Warner Valley - filled with sandhill crane and coyote song), then the long steep drive to the top of Hart Mtn. to Hot Springs CG. Fabulous. Now the next leg of the adventure had a few mishaps. Here is a note of caution to those traveling this route w/a fiberglass trailer.

Drove from Hart Mtn to Frenchglen, OR. About 50 miles - down a wickedly rough and washboarded road. Our little '84 Scamp took a beating. We figured that the door would hold up for one more trip so neglected the hinges. Driving a washboarded road is either a good thing (it shows the weaknesses of your little home away from home) or a very bad idea. The closet door wiggled out of its hinges and the door to the refer fell off (we don't use the refer). Topsy turvy and full of dust - and I mean full since we had bungy'd the door shut and it is not a tight seal. When we got to Page Springs at the base of the Steens - I opened the door. And gasped. And then went and opened a cold beer and then another one. We cobbled everything together - made it work - slept in a dust bowl and laughed it all off. Only to keep me from crying.

Home via Burns and a visit to the Big R to get new bolts for the door and then headed home. It held together - but we now have a collection of screws that wiggled out of various places and a trailer that is so full of dust that a full cleaning is needed. Our door is going to get retro-fitted with new hinges and catch (rivets broke so door didn't catch until we did a little shade tree fixin'), the closet door fixed with heavier hardware (small bolts we think) and a cabinet where the refer once was (a plan all along - just hadn't gotten it done).

Would I do it again - absolutely. Though I would skip the drive from Hart Mtn. to Frenchglen - I would've worked my way around to get to the Steens. It was astoundingly beautiful anyway - and it had been 25 years or so since I had sat in the Hart Mtn. hot springs. I have been going to the Steens for 29 years and it just keeps amazing me.

Our little 13 foot has been to all the far corners of the state and has travelled with nary a mishap these past years. We tow her just about everywhere and get her into some tight spots. Something was bound to happen. She'll come back stronger after we get finished with her. I am sure that every rivet hole got a bit stressed and we will discover a few new leaks. Nothing that a little bit of Flex seal can't fix!

It is all about the journey.
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Old 10-02-2010, 05:51 PM   #2
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Good post. We are going out that way in the next couple of weeks. We had debated as to trying the trip on the back road between the Hot Springs and Frenchglen with our trailer. We have done it before in our truck and are hesitant about doing it with the trailer. I guess you answered our guestion. We have not been to the area in five years.

Was it crowded at the Hot Springs Campground? Where did you camp in Lakeview. We are thinking of staying at the campground by Goose Lake and doing a circle thru the Devil's Garden. Maybe to Medicine Hat Lake.

Bill & Ann
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Old 10-03-2010, 01:21 PM   #3
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Hot Springs was kinda busy. But the sites are far enough apart that it was ok. Sounds like you have been there - I think the best sites are when you take a right at the bulletin board and then at the hot springs head to the north on that little road. If it is muddy it might be a challenge though......Page Springs was busy. That place has gotten discovered. But the fishing was great and the sites far enough apart that it was all ok. Mind you, what I think is busy may not be your definition. I'm used to having the place nearly to myself.

We were there mid week and it was about 1/3 full (Hot Springs). The net day, it cleared out to about 4 sites occupied. The hot springs themselves (both of them) were pretty unused. We were enjoying them 2x/day while we were there.

I wouldn't do that road again with the trailer. Also, if you do the Steens - the back part of the loop (south side) is really in bad shape. Pickup only - and you have to pick your way around some pretty big boulders. We did the Page Springs side one late afternoon and it was absolutely glorious for color.

There is a new campground on the Plush side of Hart Mountain. Start up Hart and it is at the old CCC site. There will be some big open sky there - and there wasn't a soul when we went thru checking it out. Did the obligatory stop at the Plush Store for coffee -

Didn't go to Goose - though I could've used a shower. We camped on the Fremont NF west of Lakeview at a place called Cottonwood Meadow (on the map - but the campground is called Cougar Springs). Its about 8 miles from the highway and about 25 miles or so west of Lakeview. Its at 6100+ feet - really nice, clean, great water and the road was fine. Its a steep climb coming off the hwy. The campground is not well signed - but when you get to the general area - go straight (by the kiosk). If you pass the organizational camp, go back a few hundred yards (less?). The FS is doing some precommercial thinning up there - but it should be done in week or two. (Don't get confused with Cottonwood Res. - that is not a beautiful place!)

Sounds like a fab trip. Post back. Am interested in going out there later in the year. Sept. has always been my time there......but think that this year I will go to the Migratory Bird Fest in Burns in April or at least a trip in May before mosquitoes and before the massses.

Have fun.
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Old 10-05-2010, 12:06 PM   #4
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Never went up through Hart Mtn. area, but was close. We go to Virgin Valley, NV for a couple of weeks each year. Usually stay in Lakeview (9-10 hr drive from home) on first night. We usually come down on Rte 26 to Madras and Rte 95 through Bend and then turn onto Rte. 31 at LaPine towards Lakeview. We take Hwy 140 to Denio. Last time we came back home via Rte 205 up through Fields, French Glen (how about that 14% grade going down into town there!) and on to Canyon City and John Day areas. Your route seems intriguing and just might be on our next trip itinerary. Sounds like you had a heck of a good time, despite the problems. Nice write-up.
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Old 10-05-2010, 12:56 PM   #5
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We would love to hear about you stays in the Virgin Valley. What campground, or campgrounds do you stay at. Do you go to the opal mines?
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Old 10-08-2010, 11:05 AM   #6
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Thumbs up

Not meaning to hijack this "Eastern Oregon" thread...
Virgin valley is a very unique place, even for northern Nevada. To me, it's always fun to explore the area around the mining district as well as dig for opals. When we stay in Virgin Valley, it is at Harry & Joy Wilson's place called the Royal Peacock Opal Mine. Harry, now in his upper 80's, has lived there his whole life, and his family homesteaded the area around the turn of the century over a hundred years ago. Its located down the VV road a bit over ten miles, and is the last "open-to-the-public" mine on the road.

You will pass a free first come-first served campground as you enter the valley, but it is dry camping only. I believe that they have a few water faucets and outhouses, but no other facilities. There are also other public dig-for-a-fee mines enroute to Harry's place, but he has full hook-ups available for RV's and trailers. Water, sewer, and power (20/30/50amp). There are also a couple of freezers in front of the opal mine office building where you can buy bagged ice and ice cream. There is also a "one holer" flush toilet bathroom with a shower, (only one, but it seems to work fairly well if the place isn't too busy, but if it is, then you may be waiting a while for that shower after digging all day.) There is also a washing machine and dryer (bring your own soap) for laundry too.

There is also no cell phone coverage in the area, but there is a land line phone at the mine office. If necessary, just call someone collect and give them the mine's phone number, then have them call you back...it's much cheaper. Funny, I couldn't make a cell phone call, but my Satellite TV and view cube worked great. At night you will be stunned by the number of stars that you can see. I didn't know there were so many...you can even see the band of the Milky Way.

The road, although not paved, is usually in pretty fair condition. Normally, we go down in June when Brenda gets time off from her job with school dist. The weather is usually dry and daytime temps are not as rediculously hot as they are in late July/August, although last years weather pattern, (thanks to el Nino,) really screwed up the weather. It rained for 10 of the 14 days we spent there. Even Harry said he never in his life seen the weather that bad as it was last summer. It's definitely not the place to be when it is wet, and the ash (the area was once part of a great inland sea prehistorically, but it also has a volcanic past as well...this is why opals are found here,) turns into a weird concoction that is both slippery as ice, and tenaciously sticks to everything like glue. When it is dry it is great, but can be a bit dusty on the road.

The nearest gas/diesel station is at Denio Junction, about 25 miles east of the mine. Their fuel prices are a bit high, but it's the only one for over a hundred miles in any direction and it has to be delivered. It all costs. They also have a small restaurant, a small covenience store, and a full service bar at the Junction as well. The nearest "real" town is Winnemucca, and thats about two and a half hours drive from the mine.

If you are into wildlife, the area abuts the Sheldon Wildlife Reserve. There are lots of wild horses, donkeys, and bighorn sheep and antelopes too. Some of the biggest rabbits (hares?) I've ever seen were down there too. If you have a dirt bike (power or pedal) you can explore the area's dirt roads and see some of the old native american cave dwellings, (inhabited about 11,000 years ago,) some old homestead farm/ranch ruins, and fascinating geologic formations all around. Outside the mining district,the BLM manages most of the area and discourages any "souvenier" and artifact hunting, but you can surface collect up to 7 pounds of rocks a day (oh yeah, we're rockhounds too!) I'm sure that if I stumbled upon an old stone arrowhead it would probably find its way into my pocket too, but you didn't hear that from me. lol

Here's a few area links...
Welcome to the Royal Peacock Opal Mines
http://www.fws.gov/sheldonhartmtn/
http://www.stateparks.com/sheldon.html

The owners are some of the nicest folks you will ever meet. If you do visit, I'm sure you will have a wonderful experience.
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