Walter and Sara On the road to who knows where
On Monday November 14th we spent the day doing important things like laundry, grocery shopping and getting our flu shots. Tuesday was yet another rainy day and we spent it doing a few repairs/chores around the trailer. It’s always nice when we manage to work our way through the little things that need doing so that when we hit the road we’re ship shape.

Things cleared out a bit on Tuesday night and I even caught a glimpse of the Super Moon hanging bright in the sky. It was cold Tuesday night, getting down to 40 in the early morning hours and it was still on 47 at 11 am though the sun was out and the sky pretty cloudless.

We hemmed and hawed about what our outing for the day would be and decided in the end that we’d go for an outdoor outing even though the forecast had showers in it. We headed just a few miles west to the town of Tumwater (just south of downtown Olympia) for a short hike at the Tumwater Falls Park.

The parking lot for the park is on the upper end of the Deschutes River Canyon. The trail takes you first past a fish hatchery where Chinook salmon are bred. Originally there were no salmon this far up the river because of the falls. But they added fish ladders and the fish hatchery in the 1950’s and now there’s a salmon run here in the fall.

The river was at about 2 1/2 times it’s normal flow rates so there was a LOT of water in the falls.

The upper falls have a right side

Upper Tumwater Falls right

and a left side

Upper Tumwater Falls left

Together they look like this

Upper Tumwater Falls

The town of Tumwater grew up around this canyon because it provided power for lumber and grist mills and later a hydroelectric plant. So the river and falls have been tamed to an extent. There are old concrete abutments here and there plus the fish ladders. But with all this water raging through it still looked pretty wild.

This bridge, built in 1915, is a later version of the first bridge that connected Olympia with the town of Tumwater.   

Upper Tumwater Falls Bridge

There’s a wooden footbridge near the falls that we took to the east side so we could follow the river down stream. Along the way we passed a lot of little waterfalls cascading down the walls of the canyon. There are artesian wells in the area so I suspect that is the source of the little falls. After all, the Olympia Brewery’s motto was “It’s the water” meaning the artesian wells here.

Small falls Deschutes River Canyon Tumwater

About 1/2 mile down stream you cross over the river again with a view of the Lower Falls.

Lower Tumwater Falls

As you cross the bridge you get a great view of the river as it flows around this large moss covered outcrop.

Lower Tumwater Falls

Once you’re on the west side of the river you can follow a paved trail down the hill (and some stairs) to reach the bottom of the falls. I tried taking a photo there and only managed to get my lens covered with spray so I settled for this side-view shot part of the way down the stairs. You can see the footbridge we came over up at the top of the photo.

Lower Tumwater Falls

We made our way back up river and stopped to get a nice view of the Middle Falls along the way. You can see some of the fish ladders there on the right.

Middle Tumwater Falls and fish ladders

The sun was playing peekaboo during most of this time and we got a few sprinkles too. We stopped at the top of the falls to read the sign at the small visitors center for the park and then Walter found the Thunderbird Totem and had to have his photo taken with it. He of course had to put his fingers in amongst the teeth.

Walter Cooke Thunderbird Totem

It’s definitely late autumn here with temperatures dropping back into their usual cooler range for this time of year. But there are a few rhododendrons in bloom here and there putting out a small show of fall bloom. This one was so pretty I couldn’t pass it by.

Fall blooming rhododendron

We had our lunch in the truck since it was pretty cold (and wet) and then it began to hail. We’d originally planned another little hike but the hail convinced us to just go home. It continued, mixed with rain, off and on all afternoon.

Thursday November 17th we drove up to Bellevue one more time to go to the dentist and have our new crowns installed. It was a rather involved process for me but in the end all was well. I had several days of feeling as if my mouth was full of TEETH since my little baby tooth has been replaced with an adult-sized crown. But after a few days I adjusted and am enjoying having a close to normal looking smile for the first time in my life.

We did our last few errands and headed back to Olympia at about 1:45 and actually made the drive in an hour and 20 minutes—a record for this stay! The forecast was for a cold night and it was in the 50’s when we got back so we filled up our water tank and wound up our hoses while they were relatively warm rather than waiting for the morning. This turned out to be a REALLY good idea since it was 34 the next morning and only managed to get to 37 by the time we were ready to go. Trying to coil up nearly frozen hoses isn’t fun so I was happy to have missed that little adventure.

We drove south on I-5 to Coburg, OR just north of Eugene and spent the night at our old favorite, Premier RV Resort. We had high clouds so you could see both Mt St Helens and Mt Hood covered in new snow backed by the gray sky along the way. It was in the low 40’s when we arrived in Coburg but a front with rain came through in the night and it was 57 when we got up the next morning. I got a nice hot shower in before we left and then we continued southward on I-5. It was amazingly green in the fields along I-5. I guess that’s what a really wet October will do for you. We had rain off and on and the temperature moved from 62 when we left Eugene down into the low 50’s and then back up to the high 50’s by the time we arrived at Valley of the Rogue State Park halfway between Grants Pass and Medford. This was a shorter than usual drive since our usual 200 miles a day would have taken us right to the California/Oregon border and there is no place to camp there.

Valley of the Rogue is a nice campground as long as you get a spot on the west side away from the freeway. The river was up and providing lots of white noise to mask the traffic noise from I-5 and we got a nice pull through spot near the river and couldn’t even hear the highway. Our hot spot works here which is nice and Walter settled in to monitor the football games in the PAC-12 while I made a grocery list for the next 10 days. The UW Huskies won so all was well in the world.

Sunday we had partly sunny skies—more than sun breaks but there were lots of dark clouds to bring rain too. We spent the day doing laundry and grocery shopping so we could head into California on Monday with clean clothes and a full larder.