Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Destination Caldwell...Week 1

We left Eugene with the intention of taking Highway 20 over the Cascades, through Sisters, into Bend for the night...a new route for us.  That was not to be.  Thanks to the powers of instant communication, we were alerted to wildfires burning along that route.  We made a U-turn of sorts, from I-5 heading north to south, and picked up Highway 58 south of Eugene going over the Willamette Pass.  This proved to be a bit longer drive but no smoke or fires to worry about.

The glacial Cascades from the Willamette Pass

The Columbia Sportswear Factory Outlet caught our eye first.  We pulled right into the parking lot, MH and all, and went in for some major shopping at very discounted prices.  Items normally selling for $50-75 were marked down to $12-15.  I was able to get a couple of pairs of shorts, capris, and shirts...though finding ones that weren't too long was an issue.  I plan to be taller in my next life!

So we found the Bend Elk's Lodge and despite the fact this is Sunday of Labor Day 2011, the lodge was closed.  The RV parking area has 8 sites with water and electric for $15 per night.  OK for us...We've had a long day and are ready to just have a drink and a bit of dinner.
Our Labor Day was mostly spent driving 300 miles east of Bend on Highway 20 through lots of small towns and often 2-lanes.  We finally arrived in Caldwell about 5 p.m. and pulled into the Ambassador RV Park, our home for the next month. 

Us and the Panys...way over there!

Beth and Chris greeted our arrival with both food and drink..and the most beautiful, thoughtful present imaginable.  Beth, gourd carver extraordinaire, just finished our very own gourd, a replica down to the most intricate details, of the tall ship Star Flyer, in honor of our upcoming cruise in November.  I don't know how she could part with such a work of art but we are very grateful and happy recipients.

Beth's beautiful tall ship gourd

The signal flags spell S-T-I-L-L-E-Y!

Staying in one area for a month affords us many opportunities.  The office has a list of "day drives" from the Boise area.  There is much to be said for small towns and a wealth of local activities.  For instance, Crookham Seed Company, a major employer in the area and a multi-generational family owned business,  hosted a 100th anniversary party here at their Caldwell plant.  They not only provided an "up close and personal" tour of their seed production facilities, mostly corn and onions at this time of the year, but also a fabulous buffet-style dinner, free of charge.

Bins & bins of onions

Our tour guide shows how the corn is processed
We are fed a great dinner...Lynda, Howard, Chris 
Howard and the cornstalker

Many exhibits tell the impressive company story
Our social calendar also included a night of culture.  The College of Idaho, a nationally acclaimed liberal arts college, presented a Faculty Showcase of art and music.  The Jewett Auditorium's superb acoustics heightened the musical scores ranging from classical to blues, and instrumentals featuring brass, piano, cello, banjo/guitar and organ.  The variety and degree of excellence provided a wonderful evening. 

But now it's time for us to do what we do best.  Load up our jeep for an outing.  Today's drive features the Leslie Gulch/Succor Creek Scenic Byway, which actually takes place just across the border in Eastern Oregon.  We traveled 65 (the brochure says 52) miles of washboard dirt and gravel roads, through rugged canyons with awesome rock formations.  At Lake Owyhee we stopped for a picnic, and at Succor Creek Campground we got out to admire the scenery and snap some shots.  We had a rare sighting of a California bighorn sheep, certainly a cousin of the ones we often see in our beautiful Anza Borrego Desert, and a late season rattlesnake.  Here is a slideshow presentation as the photos were too numerous to display.

Until next week.....
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