October 25 – 29, 2017 – Solo Winter Travels 2017/2018 ~ Part 4
A part of me didn’t want to leave the Lochsa River, it was so peaceful in that forest and truly dark at night with total quiet, but I was craving more sunshine hours than the Lochsa Valley could offer me at this time of year. On the 25th I continued along Hwy 12, towards Lewiston, ID. As I was leaving the thick forest behind, I was delighted to see evidence of past volcanic activity in the cliffs along the highway. Basalt columns from an ancient lava flow, met with the Selway River and with it came several species of trees that I hadn’t seen for years; and the colors were stunning.
It was one of those days that I just felt like driving, and I drove all the way to the tiny town of Dayton (this is a long day for me, and I was tired) where I’d read on freecampsites.net, that there was free camping right in downtown Dayton.
Not much else was showing up in this area and I didn’t want to drive 25-miles into the forest, so this was my choice for the night. It turned out to be a parking lot near Caboose Park, which was owned by the Corps of Engineers. I drove by a number of times before I was sure I had the right lot, and even then I wasn’t really sure it would be okay to stay there overnight, so when I saw the Sheriff parked nearby I asked him, and he confirmed that it was okay and that it would be safe, because they patrolled all the back roads and alleys every two hours, all night long. Wow!
I slept okay, despite being in a parking lot surrounded by roads. In the morning I left quickly and drove to a little park to make my morning tea and breakfast. I sat there for much of the morning working online. There was a creek nearby, and herons and other critters came and went as the day wore on, and then I continued my drive toward the town of Walla Walla, Oregon, and on to the Columbia River Gorge.
It was another drive where I had a hard time finding a place to camp for the night, so I once again drove further than I normally like to. Hwy 12 to Interstate 82 to cross the Columbia River, and back into Washington again, and then Hwy 14 west. My intention was to camp in a park at the minuscule town of Roosevelt, which I found on freecampsites.net. It was another Corps of Engineers park, and it was quite sweet.
The camping area was really just a paved parking lot, (dry camping) but there were picnic tables set in a lovely park atmosphere, with grass, and there were bathrooms with flushable toilets and even free showers. And all this right along the Columbia River, with ducks and other waterfowl nearby. The drawback was that the railway tracks ran right by the park, but that is pretty much true of the entire Gorge, so there was really no avoiding it. I was there over a weekend and fortunately, the trains didn’t run much, and hardly at all at night. At least I couldn’t hear the traffic from Hwy 14 which runs along the northern (Washington) side of the Gorge.
Look closely at the second picture below, do you see all those specks? those are the sunset bugs, they were that thick. Fortunately, they didn’t seem to be the biting kind.
I spent three nights at this little park, and I was the only one camped there. I learned that they would be closing the bathrooms for winter the very next week, so I got lucky and took advantage of that free hot shower. On October 29, I continued my drive along the Columbia River Gorge to The Dalles and then onto Hood River.
I was having a hard time finding another camp spot for the night, in part because of the time of year when most free camping areas were closed for various reasons. I ended up driving up Hwy. 35 towards Mount Hood. I found a campground for the night that had waived the fees, then the next morning decided to drive up to Mount Hood just for the heck of it. Those pictures will be in the next post.
Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature
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