Snowbirding 2017 Postcards: Camping at Walker Lake

After a very long day of some very boring driving through the high deserts of Oregon and Nevada, I finally approached my overnight destination of Hawthorne, NV. I had only a vague idea of where to stay so I was quite pleased to see the sign for BLM “dispersed camping” on the shore of Walker Lake. I pulled right in. Five minutes later, I was parked on a level (!) spot on a little hill overlooking the lake. Managed to take a few last light photos from my back door. Note the blowing dust — it’s windy here!

Dispersed camping, if you’re not familiar with the term, refers to an open camping area where you can pretty much camp anywhere you like. This is common in the area around Quartzsite, AZ, where I usually spend most of January. Camping like this is usually free and there usually aren’t any services, although this one appears to have pit toilets and a garbage dumpster.

The wind has died down with the disappearance of the sun. One good thing about this spot is that when the sun rises, there’s nothing blocking its warmth from reaching the Turtleback at dawn. 

Snowbirding 2017 Postcards: Page Springs Campground

A wonderful BLM campground with at least 30 sites along Blitzen River in the Malheur Wildlife Refuge (yes, that one). Deer roam freely at sunrise and sunset. Very few fellow campers. Pit toilets, water, campfire rings, and picnic tables. Incredibly dark skies. And quiet. What else could you want for $8/night?

Photos from this morning — the first day with blue skies since I left Wenatchee on Wednesday. 

Snowbirding 2017 Postcards: Blitzen Creek Hike

Went for a short 1.5 mile hike on the Blitzen Creek trail. The trailhead was about 100 feet from our campsite at the far end of the Page Springs Campground. The trail winds along Blitzen creek through mostly tall grasses with lots of side trails the take you right to the waters edge. The canyon was still pretty much in the shade when we got started with the sun had reached rhe opposite canyon wall by the time we were on our way back. It was a short hike just to get my blood going before today’s long drive.

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Snowbirding 2017 Postcards: At the Mascall Overlook

When I went hiking at Cottonwood Canyon on Thursday, I met another woman hiking with her dog. We stopped for a brief chat about hiking and photography — she had a DSLR camera with her, too. During the conversation, she mentioned an overlook she had stopped at while in the John Day Fossil Beds Monument, which is where I was heading. She didn’t know the name of it and her description was very vague but I believe I found it the next day: the Mascall Overlook. 

I arrived around mid day, just in time for lunch. The sky was mostly cloudy, but the sun was making its way through here and there. I was hungry and decided to have lunch first, so I hopped into the Turtleback and reheated some leftovers using my microwave powered by the onboard generator. (I can’t deny the convenience of this, despite the three minutes of generator noise.) Afterwards, Penny and I made the short walk to the Overlook and took in the scene. There’s a lot of geology going on here, most of which has to do with basalt lava flows around 15 million years ago — if I’ve got that right. The road in the photo cuts through what’s called Picture Canyon, which was created by the South Fork of the John Day River flowing though over years and years. 17 layers of basalt rock lay exposed inside the canyon.

It was an interesting place to stop for lunch in a few photos. Very quiet, yet not far from ranches and homes. I think that’s one of the things I like best traveling with the Turtleback instead of my old Mobile Mansion: I don’t have to worry about getting in or out of tight parking lots or narrow, dead end roads. I can go anywhere.

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Snowbirding 2017 Postcards: Thanksgiving Campsite

Another evening, another quiet, private stream side campsite. Perfect spot for my modest Thanksgiving Dinner.