Tuesday, July 10, 2007


We are at Maryhill state park, on the Washington side of the Columbia (map). We are just downstream of the John Day dam, more or less at the beginning of the Columbia River Gorge.

This is a nice park, with a large full-hookup RV loop, a separate loop for tenters, a day use area with a boat ramp, windsurf area and swim beach, and a large group site. When we arrived, the check-in ranger offered us a choice of a back-in full hookup site in the RV loop for $26, or a spot in the group area with power and water only for $17. We went for the group area, because we thought it might actually be more private, and we certainly did not need a sewer hookup. (Besides which, there is also a dump station if we needed it.)

We made the right choice -- when we strolled through the regular campground, it was nearly full and a bit noisy. In contrast, we had a section of the group area all to ourselves, with nary a neighbor all night, and view of the river obstructed only by the riparian vegetation. Well, until 10:30 this morning, when a clueless family of picnickers came in their two cars, and, out of an entire empty parking lot, parked right next to us -- I mean, not even ten feet away. Then they walked over to the group pavilion, which is a hundred yards from here, and they could have parked right there. Of course, they're not even supposed to be here -- the day use area is on the other end of the park.

The group area, by the way, would be a great place for a motorcycle rally. In addition to gobs of parking, a large group-sized fire ring, and a pavilion with lights, power, grills, and tables, there is a bathroom with showers and 16 30-amp RV hookups. For non-group use, the rangers consider each of the quad-30-amp pedestals to be one site (so they will only assign four rigs here), and I used one of my many adapters to feed two of the 30's into our 50-amp shore cord. (The ranger had told me there was 50 amps here -- I don't think he realized it was divided up into a bunch of 30's and 20's. The regular RV loop has "normal" 50/30/20 pedestals.)

There were two other rigs in the group area last night, but they parked around the corner from us in the other lot.

Yesterday, we had a nice drive down the river to the Tri-Cities, where we stopped to get our mail and have lunch. We marveled at how much the place has grown in the last two years, with plenty of new housing going in even today. I'm not sure what is driving the economy here, since I think Hanford has been pretty much stable (from an employment standpoint, anyway) for the last few years.

While we were passing through Kennewick, we decided to stop in at our home Elks lodge, Tri-Cities 2755. The admin, Leslie, was there, and we had a nice chat. It is the first time we have ever been inside the lodge that I've belonged to for more than three years. It's a decent-looking lodge, and they have plenty of room to park Odyssey, an option of which we will avail ourselves the next time we visit.

Today's plan had been to continue down the Columbia, fuel up in Troutdale, and spend the night somewhere around Portland, eventually working our way down to Rickreall tomorrow afternoon for the first day of Bus'n USA before continuing on to Lake Tahoe. However, the weather forecast tells us that it will be 99° in Portland today, and 97° in Rickreall tomorrow, so we are reconsidering the whole plan.

If we do go to Rickreall, we'll swing south from the Columbia and climb the hills south of Mt. Hood, where the forecast high today will only be in the mid to upper 80s. Then we will drop back down into the Willamette valley tomorrow afternoon, as the mercury starts to fall, with a Rickreall arrival in the relative cool of the evening. That presents the problem of finding inexpensive diesel on that route, since it bypasses Troutdale with its $2.71 Flying-J.

The other alternative is to skip Rickreall this year, since we'd have less than a full day there anyway, and head south from here on the dry side. That will take us through Bend, which has some good diesel options, and give us a more leisurely track to Tahoe. Beating the heat will still be an issue, since I don't want to widget through the mountains the whole way, but at least we will have more options.

We need to decide before we break camp, since one route dictates turning west on I-84 after crossing the river, while the other will continue south from Biggs Junction on US-197.

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