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When I left Jackpot it was snowing! While a rather easy trip, I did run into a good bit of snow and sleet. And when I arrived in Ely, it was cold and windy. It would snow on and off both days I stayed here.
When I spotted the RV park last-second and pulled in to check on the rates ($22), I found myself instantly drawn to the place. Free popcorn, super-friendly staff, and nice decor…
So, I stayed.
This is the first swimming pool I’ve ever seen that was decorated like a living room. The ever-changing mood lighting in the hot tub and easy-listening music made this perhaps one the most romantic indoor pools I’d ever experienced. I almost found myself wanting a lady to put my arm around — well, almost.
I especially liked the business center with the large screen computer. Or, “my den”, as I like to call it…
I spent quite a bit of time in my den, not having campsite internet at 3 straight destinations. Living on the road is about constant adaptation. And internet, for me, seems to be my most consistent challenge. For instance, in Jackpot I found I could get wi-fi only in the casino sportsbook or use a guest computer near the hotel lobby. Marsing was a bit tougher — I probably could have found a public computer at a library if I’d looked hard enough. I was hooked up in Pendleton but in Bend I needed to go to the campground lodge. Constant adaptation.
I think it’s kind of fun. I sometimes feel a sense of accomplishment when I figure out how to make the best of each individual situation. In fact, now that I don’t have a sedated cat to worry about, I’m even beginning to enjoy the challenges of driving, towing, and navigating tough hills! (I must be losing my mind).
Riverhaven RV Park : No Bicycles Allowed!
First, I want to begin by saying I enjoyed my time at Riverhaven and would absolutely return at the Passport America rate. Once again, I have fine luck with this discount club — this time scoring 3 nights at half-price in Idaho wine country! I don’t know if it’s “in-season”, but the weather was lovely and I had no trouble finding this campground in the directory.
The location is ideal for me as a possible stopover between Jackpot, Nevada and Pendleton, Oregon. However, I would definitely need to work out certain details if I were to stay here again. When I called in advance to reserve a space, I was told it wasn’t necessary to make reservations and that I could just pull in. I thought this to mean there was plenty of space…
However, when I pulled in, there was only one space available! (The park is largely residential with only a handful of overnight spaces). I may be a little backwards, but isn’t this the most crucial circumstance in which to make reservations? Odd. The park is quite a ways off I84 so I would dread the idea of just showing up to a full camp. No harm, no foul. I know this for future reference now. The manager is super-nice and I’m sure she will take my reservation next time around.
The overnighters get a nice view of the Snake River. I was pretty impressed at how many fish I saw, large and small, doing belly flops here. I didn’t bring my fishing gear, however.
The river is the main attraction. There are no amenities outside the basics such as showers and laundry. Which brings me to Oddity #2 : The laundry is closed on Sundays.
Sometimes location is everything. Little did I know before arriving that Marsing is right in the middle of Idaho wine country as well as several other attractions! (Although the town of Marsing itself is a bit of a yawn). I decided a bike ride on my little country road was in order but was quickly informed that riding bicycles was not allowed in the park! I had to inquire…
Because residents were getting drunk and crashing their bikes into RVs! Not only full-grown adults, but children, as well (I’m assuming the tikes were not intoxicated). This is about the strangest epidemic I’ve ever heard of. I had a good laugh over this as I walked my bike off the premises.
My Fun Excursions in the Marsing Area…
Marsing Island Park is a favorite for fisherman. Note the unusual black rock formation on top of the mountain…
Givens Hot Springs is not only a popular tourist destination but also seems to be the municipal pool for many of the farming communities in the area. Not only can you swim in the spring-fed pool but you can also soak in the private baths for $10 per hour.
The Orchard House is a Cracker-Barrel style mom-and-pop restaurant that is simply outstanding! I began with a mushroom-brie soup and finished things off with a big ole’ sloppy Rueben and Idaho potato wedges with “fry sauce.” I finished every last bite and enjoyed every moment. The prices are very reasonable and the home-made desserts in the bakery were absolute works-of-art.
I’d set out this day to do a few wine-tastings but only managed one before finding myself in Nampa, a fair-sized town with modern-day shopping! Incredibly, I’d then realized I hadn’t seen any big chain stores in several weeks and they were a very welcome sight. I really didn’t buy anything, but the familiarity of big-city shopping centers felt strangely fun after so long without.
GPS to the Rescue!
I had NO internet here. No Wi-Fi, no Sprint data, no hotspot signal. My new GPS came in quite handy in Idaho. Whenever I wanted to take a trip, I’d see what the Garmin had to offer under “attractions” or “restaurants.” It didn’t disappoint! In fact, it’s more fun sometimes to just “go” rather than get on TripAdvisor and read too much into the reviews.
I picked up a new Garmin GPS when I was in Chehalis, Washington a few weeks ago and just love it. It’s your typical modern-day device but I’d been living in the dark ages for awhile and am still soaking in the advances made in GPS technology — particularly the much-easier-to-use touchscreen.
There’s no internet access in Marsing, Idaho. Craving a little adventure, I hopped in the van to see what the Garmin had to offer under “attractions.” Cleo’s Ferry Museum immediately jumped out at me…
It was closed. Well, sort of. The folks at the general store informed me that the museum was run by volunteers on weekends during the summer but that the very popular nature walk was open year-round. It operates on a donation basis. We shall see…
I’d certainly give the trail a chance. Besides, despite my disappointment the museum wasn’t open, I’d already had a good day sightseeing and was in a r good mood. And, if nothing else, I got to enjoy the amazing assortment of handcrafted birdhouses in the general store parking lot.
I headed down the hill to the visitor lot and gazed in wonder at the artistic arrangements of the toys of yesteryear — wagons, tricycles, tonka toys — each with it’s own section and each toy meticulously placed with care and thoughtfulness. I knew I was in a very neat place.
When I parked in the visitor lot, I knew I was in the right place when I spotted this birdhouse…
I was impressed so many folks were arriving just to walk the mile-long trail. Even more incredible, they were lining up at the donation box before entering the park. It seems most of them were return visitors and were more than happy to pay the fee. I’d see how I liked the trail first…
The museum consists of a village with several rustic buildings along the Snake River near the bridge that I’m assuming replaced what was originally know as “Walter’s Ferry” up until the early 1900’s.
Peacocks are abundant throughout the museum village…
Cleo Swayne was the wife of Dr. S.A. Swayne, a wealthy Quaker. She founded the museum and spent 30 years turning a nature trail into an absolute work of art. What catches your eye right away are the birdhouses. There are probably well over a thousand of these along the trail.
Each one is handcrafted with great detail.
Most have an uplifting message attached to them.
It’s no wonder everyone on the hike appears to be in a fantastic mood! And, while there is clearly a religious undertone to these platitudes, there is no fire and brimstone or anything overbearing for us non-religious types — just inspirational messages and humor.
There are small temples for meditation and prayer.
The fun seemingly never ends. After a jaunt through the “enchanted forest” to visit gnomes, trolls, and other mystical creatures, you find a field of bronze statues — again, each meticulously placed to create a magical theme. I took a “selfie” with a bronzed Mark Twain. As you can see, it’s not pictured. There’s a reason I don’t do selfies.
The Cleo’s Ferry Nature Trail is an absolute must-see. It’s one of those things hard to capture in words or pictures. You simply can’t see the devotion behind it until you visit it yourself. Every little detail is created with great care and love, and the intention is clear — to uplift and inspire.
I was very happy to make a donation.
While I’m still not entirely sure why the Pendleton Underground ever came to be, it was made clear to me that it was not necessarily to keep the then-lower-class Chinese tucked away in the tunnels during the mining days — after all, they had an above-ground Chinatown just a couple blocks away (it’s just that they had a curfew at the risk of being shot). Some of the merchants were of Caucasian descent, like the owner of the gambling hall…
And the German butcher…
But the Chinese made up the majority of the underground. They ran the laundry and bathhouse, for instance, where 4-5 full grown men might actually pay to bath together in one tub…
It seemed quite odd how the passages alternated between business merchants and living quarters. The
Chinese managed to get quite a raw deal. Most made the journey overseas with the expectation they’d receive a nice payday and head back home after a year or so. Unfortunately, their contracts were seemingly written with a bit of deception that committed them to 30 years of paid slave labor instead.
I was especially fascinated by the secret passageways throughout the tunnels. Even with 32 bars and nearly 20 brothels in a town of only 5000 people, the underground community had to keep the illegal moonshine activity hush-hush. Thus they had a system where, if a potential raid was spotted above-ground, a rope was pulled to sound a bell — whereby the illegal substances were stowed away in secret cupboards and incriminating drunkards were whisked away into secret passages.
Similarly, when the brothels were deemed illegal, one certain madame incorporated a secret tunnel through one of the closets to keep her business thriving until 1967…
What I also found interesting were the many windows in this basement…
Seemingly out of place, they were apparently very effective in moving light through the tunnels. The sunlight would filter through thick glass panes in the sidewalk and then reflect vertically into the next room.
But perhaps most unbelievable of all were these contraptions the Chinese labor considered “pillows”…
As if the wicker headrest weren’t bad enough, if you came from royalty you got to sleep on a porcelain pillow (as pictured in the glass casing)! No thanks — my $4 Walmart pillows will do me just fine.
The Pendleton Underground is a 90-minute tour well worth the 15 bucks. Parking is easy but reservations are required. I’d recommend it to anyone!
It’s been over a week since I’ve posted. There’s a good reason for that — I’ve been working an average of 14 hours per day since arriving in Pendleton. Therefore, I’m condensing my recent adventures into one post…
A Bump in the Road
The coastal roads in Oregon are rough. I’m going blind. This makes for a lousy combination. I hit a foot-high road hump at a bridge at nearly 50 miles per hour that I was sure would be the one to unhitch me and leave my home behind. Luckily, everything stayed intact and appeared okey dokey during my stay in Pacific City. However, upon my return to Bend, Oregon it became clear there is at least some minimal damage. I now have a “creak” in the rear end. I’m only hoping the cause of this discerning sound is simply my leaf springs sliding out…
I’ll pound it back in at my next stop and hope for the best.
My return to Bend was highlighted by a visit to the High Desert Museum. I began with a guided tour about the pioneers and miners of the Northwest territories. Great stuff, but I was even more interested in the birds of prey and how you can identify these large birds by their flight patterns (I was able to spot a falcon and an eagle on my next drive). I was also quite surprised that, while bald eagles eat mainly fish, golden eagles have been known to take down adult deer and elk!
And then there’s the prehistoric sawtooth shark. Here’s where grinding your teeth in your sleep becomes a problem…
The Rolling Hills of Eastern Oregon
I could not believe I would actually fork out $500 for two weeks at an RV park! Granted, on two occasions, I have actually paid more — but that was because I was stranded at an expensive California park while waiting on parts for a repair. This is the first occasion I’d intentionally paid this much! The only way I could justify it was because I’d be getting paid good money to work. Also, there simply weren’t any better options. I could either walk to work or pay the difference in gas.
But how’s this for a yard! Site 92 at Wildhorse resort is a corner lot with a picket fence (not pictured) and rolling hills as far as the eye can see. It’s fun to watch trucks slowly make their way down the hills from Idaho. And, while the campground amenities are very basic (there is access to the hotel’s heated pool and workout room), this one easily makes my Top Ten list for the spectacular views alone.
Being only a couple hundred yards away from the casino, I thought it would be a great idea to walk to work. This would be shortlived, however, when a windstorm nearly swept me off my feet after my first 12-hour shift. With sustained winds of 40 miles an hour and 80-mile-per-hour gusts the entire night, there were times I actually thought my home would blow over. I slept less than one hour and literally got seasick from the extreme rocking. The storm lasted nearly 18 hours as I worried about the potential damage the next day at work.
After a fifteen-hour shift, I found that three out of four stabilizers had been rocked one inch off their foundation. I tightened them up and hoped for the best. Somehow, ole’ 48 Ugly managed to get through the ordeal unscathed! I couldn’t be more proud.
Long Hours, A Tough Gig
Wildhorse is a tough place to work until you make the “A-List”. Despite being a top-notch poker dealer with more experience than nearly every dealer here, I don’t have seniority. This may or may not be tough to come by. I’ll have a better idea after the next tournament in November. I’d love to make this a regular gig, where the November and April events could keep me in the Northwest for 5 months, I simply don’t know if I can justify it yet.
I literally have 5 pairs of prescription glasses. Due to my RK surgery (pre-lasik) many years ago, my corneas are now a disaster — my eyes can’t dilate properly and my vision fluctuates 3 points per day.
Am I really getting my corneas replaced? I’ll be en route to Vegas soon to find out…
My drive to the Oregon Coast when rather smoothly until I ran into some rough road less than 20 miles from my destination. With my poor vision, I managed to hit a monstrous road hump on a bridge at a brisk pace. Upon my descent I was almost certain this would be the impact that would unhitch my home in a nasty crash. Somehow everything remained intact. There may be some damage, however. Both the rear of the van and 48’s tongue are now groaning in protest — this will have to be monitored.
This campground quickly shot to the top of my list of favorites. I can’t possibly cover all the fun amenities of Pacific City Thousand Trails in one post. But I’m going to return — lots. And, in future posts, I’ll share some pictures of the lodge (where I spotted a whale) and the recreational facilities. This adventure was about unwinding with nature…
And it seems appropriate that each campsite gets it’s own bunny. These critters are everywhere!
A Walk on the Beach
The beach trail from camp takes less than 10 minutes to walk. Nobody seems to mind the rain, certainly not me! I loved watching the waves crash into the rocks…
I doubt you need a narrator for the next few pictures…
Ahhh. This week is exactly what I needed. I saw less than 3 miles of Oregon coastline the entire week — but what more did I need!
Pacific City and Cape Kiwanda are famous for their great tradition of dory fishermen. A dory is a small flat-bottom and I’ve been told that, even despite a decline in recent years, the area still has the largest dory fleet in the world. While I didn’t witness any of these fishing boats, perhaps due to the weather conditions, my stay in Pacific City will be more like two weeks next time so I can investigate this more.
Haystack Rock is actually one of two such tourist attractions on the Oregon Coast with the exact same name — the other in Cannon Beach. The Pacific City version stands quite a bit taller at 340 feet.
Lots of folks seemed to like climbing the gargantuan sand dunes but I preferred exploring the tide pools and observing the magnificent waves slamming into the rocks — sometimes spraying 20-30 feet into the air.
Currently the businesses at Cape Kiwanda consist of a couple RV resorts, a hotel, a general store, and 3-4 restaurants — all in a little one-block radius. (A large hotel/spa is on the way). I’ve been hanging out quite a bit at Stimulus, the coffee shop with a VIEW…
This is The Pelican, a world-class micro-brewery and restaurant right on the ocean! It’s understandable why people flock here — terrific beer and an unbelievable view. The food might be equally tasty, but the premium prices have just left me wondering about that for the time being. Perhaps next time around.
I may even join the mug club one day…
For $80 (and $40 annual dues) you can get your own numbered mug at The Pelican. This means every time you enter the establishment the bartender gets to leaf through sliding cupboards and climb ladders to find your personalized glass! It’s astonishing to watch, and maybe it’s even a bit silly — but really, really cool.
My Latest Brilliant Idea…
So here’s my “latest.” I intend to spend 6 months a year on this coast. I can work 3-4 events in Vegas per year, pick up 2-3 gigs in Oregon and Washington, and also fly out for work in Atlantic City and other venues. Someday I’ll have the ability to roam the entire country again. But until then, this is easily the next-best thing. This is where I belong.
And, once I sort out my health issues, this is very doable. With my Thousand Trails membership I have 4 campgrounds here on the Oregon Coast. I can stay 2 weeks for less than $50, then my “out week” for an average of $250 (in-season/off-season), and simply bounce around this paradise for all of $100 per week! Sign me up.