Wilsonville Camping World, Hood River, and John Day Dam

Florence to Lethbridge is barely more than one thousand kilometres. I decided to stretch the trip out into roughly 200km chunks and to find places where I could feel comfortable pulling in early and leaving late. So, I spent a lot of time researching my overnight stops, especially in Oregon. I’d settled on the Walmart in Woodburn being the best place near Salem on I-5, but was concerned by the number of people who’d been told they could stay by management and then been booted out by police in the middle of the night. I decided to check on a forum if there were better options and I was directed to the Camping World in Wilsonville, a recommendation that was seconded by Croft. The store is a bit confusing to get to (I’m glad I used their directions instead of my GPS) and there is nothing within walking distance, but it is a truly safe spot where you don’t have to feel rushed to pull out.

There were A LOT of RVs in the lot last night and as I went out for my walk to the non-existent McDonald’s I noticed that the majority of the rigs were not inhabited. I suddenly realised that I was in an RV graveyard as I began to count of the number of rigs that had been stationary long enough to get a thick growth of mould, algae, and moss. This fifth wheel next to me was particularly bad.

I also noticed a gorgeous burgundy Newmar Dutchstar with a full inch of mossy growth along the back wall. I imagine these rigs are for sale, but I’m not sure I’d want to buy a rig that has sat out in a damp climate long enough to turn green!

It was a COLD night in Wilsonville. When I got up around 8 this morning, I could see my breath and the temperature was off the thermostat, so probably about 5C! I’m going to have to start leaving the furnace on at night. I didn’t know it was that cold because my bunk was so snug; what a shock when I got up! Fortunately, it doesn’t take long for the rig to get toasty when it’s above freezing outside.

I had coffee and a light breakfast, then set off in misting rain. I knew where I was headed for the night and also that there would not be internet nearby, so I decided to schedule lunch at a McDonalds so I could check if there was anything pressing to deal with (yes) that would make it worth schlepping twenty kilometres round trip to the nearest McDonalds from my overnight spot.

By Hood River I was famished, so I pulled into the Walmart there and was promptly greeted by someone who said “No RV parking.” I replied that I was here to shop and he left me alone. Needless to say, I had no intention of shopping there after being greeted so rudely! I left a note on my windshield that said “Here to shop, moving on soon!” and hiked up to the McDonald’s about a block away. There, I did some very quick things online and was about to head back to the rig when a couple came up to me and said… “We loved your talk at the RV Show in Abbotsford!”

I can’t go anywhere!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We had a nice chat and they said they hoped I’d be speaking again and that I really need to put out another book. Surreal! They were heading south, to Palm Springs, in their RV and were disappointed to not get a glimpse of Miranda.

After Hood River, it was a leisurely drive to the John Day Lock and Dam, a US Army Corps of Engineers area near Rufus. There is no signage, but online comments say that parking is okay for up to a week. If I had a US internet connection or there was one closer, I would stay here a few nights. As it is, I may do two nights, it’s such a lovely spot! I unhooked and tucked Miranda into some parking stalls, with the toad parked in front to make sure I don’t get boxed in.

My batteries had a voltage in the high elevens this morning before I turned on the furnace, the lowest they have been first thing all week. But between the drive and the sun that came out in full force once I was parked, they got up all the way to 14, what my controller considers a full charge, for the first time in several days.

I am feeling some anxiety as I head east towards the mountains and will be going out of my way if I have to to get online each day so I can get a weather and road condition forecast. This is really not a good time of year to be going through mountains, but I’ve had several people who have been both this way and through the Alaska highway in early May tell me that I’m not heading into conditions I haven’t handled before. I have two routes through Montana plotted out and will soon have to commit to one. Since I will be in Alberta for the summer, I run the chance of being able to take the more scenic and isolated route around Glacier National Park at some point in the toad, so I will not agonize if I miss out on it yet again. I am just grateful to have had the last few weeks of exploring because the next six months are going to be about making as much money as possible. I want to go to the States for six months next year!

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1 Comment

  • The Columbia River area is one of my favorite places, Rae. Of all the rivers I’ve crossed and camped on, the Columbia is the most exciting. One big mistake I made on my last trip was not spending more time at the mouth of the river – I went to Astoria which was wonderful, but there were other places I missed. I love my children and grandchildren, but many of my plans changed because they decided to fly out to Oregon. We all enjoyed Hood River and the John Day lock and dam, etc., and the old river drive was beautiful. I would have spent more time in that location, but having seen Mt. St. Helen in 2000, I wanted my granddaughters to go, too. Then, I gave them an adventure day at Mt. Hood (which didn’t interest me), but they had a great time, and so did my son. Oregon always amazes me because there are so many diverse areas. When you go back to spend “your six months”, be sure to see Crater Lake-nothing else like it in the country. Well, let me shut up–I could go on and on about Oregon!

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