RV travel is not for the faint of heart.
I’m no fool, I’ve read blogs, I’ve heard the horror stories, I knew we’d have trouble eventually, I just hoped it wouldn’t be so soon…
The day began uneventfully enough.
We woke up a little late, around 9:00 and started breaking camp. Today we’re leaving Corbett Oregon to move to John Day Oregon. We were supposed to be out by 11:00 and were confident we’d make it on time.
We were just finishing up, pulling the slides in, when the bedroom slide refused to move correctly. When Jeff pushed the button, the left side started moving but the right side stayed put. We couldn’t figure out why, so Jeff grabbed a flashlight and started crawling around in the corner of the stubborn side. He discovered the tail end of a disconnected plug and figured it must have pulled loose somehow.
Of course he couldn’t reach the other side to fix it so we had to completely disassemble the bedroom. We dragged the mattress and bedding out into the living room, and removed all the screws from the base. I held up the plywood while he crawled around and found the other end of the plug. He plugged it back in, loosened the wire so it wouldn’t happen again, put the entire bed back together and retracted the slide.
Another reason why I wouldn’t travel this way with someone who didn’t know how to fix things!
We left the park with 10 minutes to spare!
We’ve visited Oregon many times but never spent any time in the eastern side of the state. Our plan was to travel to John Day Oregon via Oregon’s Journey Through Time Scenic Byway. It’s over 300 miles, we weren’t too worried, we’ve done more than that before but we also didn’t want to arrive at a new park much after dark again either.
We left Corbett, (backtracking to avoid the hills) traveling west on the Columba River Highway to meet up with highway 84 east.
The forecast called for some strong wind and sure enough, it hit us. We live in an area that frequently gets extremely strong wind and we know how to drive in it but this was our first time driving a giant, square block of metal through it.
There were some white knuckle moments.
We stopped in The Dalles for fuel and propane which chipped away at our time a little more.
We finally made it through and our “Journey” called for us to take highway 97 south.
Piece of cake! Just cruising down the open road.
Nothing but wheat fields as far as the eye can see.
Road work took another little chunk out of our schedule. Not just any road work, but road work that required us to stop for 20 minutes. Normally it wouldn’t be a big deal but there were many miles to go and time just kept slipping away from us.
There are living ghost towns all along this corridor. Towns which were hubs of farming, sheep ranching and commerce. Now there are abandoned barns and silos and towns with tiny populations, towns which are doing anything to survive.
The first such town is Grass Valley the population in 2010 was 164.
This is it…
Grass Valley has tried to revitalize itself by building a raceway. The Oregon Raceway not only holds events but they also teach emergency responders and others driving skills.
As far as I’m concerned, there was only one reason to visit Grass Valley Oregon.
The abandoned 100 year old Oregon Methodist Church. I’d seen it on other photography blogs and wanted to photograph it.
Luckily it’s right off the main road and easy to park an RV.
Here are my quick photos, wish I’d had more time.
This is the new church, not nearly as photogenic.
Back on the road, still driving…more fields.
Our next stop before leaving highway 97 is the living ghost town town of Shaniko.
Shaniko was once a thriving community because it was a spur off the railroad.
Now few people live there but the ones who do are determined to revitalize the town. They’ve brought the old hotel back to life and rumor has it that there’s an RV park somewhere too.
We were there during the off season and there were few people around.
This is the town across the street from the hotel. some of the storefronts have art gallery signs and there’s an old jail to walk into.
This is the street behind.
Once again we were trying to make up time so we bid Shaniko goodbye and turned south onto highway 218 toward Antelope.
It was right about here that we realized taking “scenic routes” in an RV might not be such a brilliant idea.
But…intrepid explorers that we are…we pressed on!
…past abandoned barns…
…and new barns
…through picture postcard towns
…and the road kept going…up and down, up and down, around and around and the RV was NOT PLEASED.
We’d turned south on highway 19 following our biway directions and we began to feel some odd hesitation and possibly even slipping in the transmission so we stopped to rest. It was getting later and later and we knew we still had a long way to go. There was little, to no, phone signal and our wifi wasn’t great either so we consulted our paper map for options.
The biway directions showed two options which create a loop around the park area. There was a junction and the choice was, to continue on highway 19 or take what appeared to be a shortcut on highway 207 south.
Highway 19 looked much longer so we chose 207.
Another bad idea.
Highway 207 climbs to 5500 feet. The steepest hill yet and now it was clear that the transmission was really slipping. We made it to the top and stopped again. It was cold and did I mention we were in Nowheresville? (The next day we drove down highway 19 and it was a much flater and nicer road!)
Nothing to do but keep going. It was dusk by now and we were still passing barn after barn and wonderful abandoned shacks. There were tons of cows and the deer started coming out. Deer, upon deer upon deer. I’ve never seen so many deer! The place is INFESTED with deer. They graze with the cows. They are EVERYWHERE. We were going too fast to get a picture but at one point they were running alongside the road racing us.
The terrain began to change as we descended the mountain.
It was finally too dark to take pictures, which was just as well because my nerves were shot from worrying whether we’d make it. The RV seemed fine after the last rest and we reached the intersection to highway 26 east. The road improved and leveled out some and we were cruising along about 50 mph.
I started to relax, anxious to get to the John Day Fairgrounds when it happened…
A deer jumped out right in front of us!
Thank God Jeff had his wits about him and didn’t over react. It missed us by inches. I nearly jumped out of my skin, I don’t see well at night as it is and I was a nervous wreck the rest of the way!
We saw five dead deer by the road, apparently it’s a real problem.
Once again we’re rolling into a campground well after dark. Luckily it wasn’t hard to find and they told us not to worry about paying till morning, so we set up quickly and hit the sack!