Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Covered Bridges - Cottage Grove - Oregon

Cottage Grove, Oregon is a town just off of I-5 and we’ve stopped to stay at a small RV park there several times over the years.  We’d never spent time there other than an overnight stay so knew very little about the area.  I happened to read that it had several covered bridges in the area so that changed my whole idea of Cottage Grove for our next visit. 

RV park in bloom
We stayed in our favorite small RV Park on arrival with the intent of staying for two nights in order to be able to visit all the covered bridges in the area.  The sun was shining and the blossoms were in bloom which is not the norm when we visit, usually at a different time of year but makes for a perfect day today.

Currin Bridge Built 1925
I am not sure why, but I find these old covered bridges worth visiting and photographing.  They are not a common sight in our part of the country, we’d seen them while visiting Eastern Canada but saw very few otherwise and perhaps that is why.  Whatever my fascination is about, I took pictures of all of them while Keith patiently drove me all around this area in Oregon.

Mosby Creek Bridge Built in 1920
There is really very little difference between them other than their name and slight changes in construction.  Some have windows, others have not and then some had shutters, making it more attractive.  Some are still in use for vehicles while others are only for foot traffic.  No matter, they are all interesting and have their own charm.

Stewart Bridge 1930
There seems to be several possible reasons why covered bridges were covered.  They did protect the wooden bridges from deteriorating too quickly.  They added support to the structure to maintain the safety for longer.  It was even considered better when herding cattle across so they were not frightened by the moving water below.  Whichever reason, they all sound possible to me.

Unity Bridge 1936
Our visit to Cottage Grove was at the beginning of March so the trees were only beginning to show new life but the sunshine and locations made for a fun photo shoot day.  These are country roads well off of the main highway so it took a bit of map reading to find them all but we seemed to cover a lot of ground and found several.  I am sure it would have been easier with a tour map but this was fun.

Pengra Bridge Orig. built in 1890
 All of the bridges found in Lane County have been rehabilitated or restored and became safe to cross whether by foot, bicycle or vehicle.  The grants from Oregon Covered Bridge Program helped fund restoration for most if not all of the Covered Bridges in the area.

Dorena Covered Bridge 1949
The Dorena Covered Bridge, crosses over the Row River and the road ends here at a small park with amenities where people often gather for weddings and events.  The Dorena Reservoir was engineered in 1946 and therefor the bridge needed to be built to give access to the Star Ranch, which led to the bridge often referred to as the Star Bridge, as well.  The townsite of Dorena was then moved due to the Reservoir.

Centennial Bridge 1987
Within Cottage Grove town, they have a foot bridge that is called the Centennial Bridge built in 1987 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Cottage Grove.  Volunteers used recycled timber from two other bridges.  This bridge rests on abutments from an earlier Main St. Bridge and spans 84 ft.

Chambers Covered Railway Bridge  Built in 1925

The last train passed thru the Chambers Bridge in 1951.  It became a danger to collapsing so was rebuilt in 2010 to be the only remaining covered railway bridge in Oregon and at that time, one of only eight left in the entire U.S.

We enjoyed our day of touring the covered bridges of Lane County in historic Cottage Grove, Oregon.  The 48 km (30 mi) loop around the Dorena Reservoir connects them.  This is the largest collection of covered bridges west of the Mississippi River, including the only remaining railroad covered bridge and they are all visited by many history buffs each year.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Autumn Travels South ~ B.C. to California

We have travelled throughout the U.S. at almost every time of the year and this one we are taking today is in November, when there are many pretty fall colors to see.  This being our first fall season in this area makes it all the more enjoyable to see the sights.  We began our travels driving through the Okanagan in BC where the leaves have turned and which I have shared at other times.   Click here. to see more of that.

Okanogan County, Washington
We are in the Okanogan County in Washington State, the valley which continues down from the Okanagan Valley in BC but has a different spelling.  We are on Hwy 97 which follows the Okanagan River through the northern part of the state.  We stay on Hwy 97 for most of our travels through Washington other than a jog onto I-82.  We pass through quiet country with small towns sprinkled along the way.

Orchards in Okanogan County
The terrain is so similar in both Okanagan Valleys and they are growing similar crops as the other, as well.  The BC Okanagan was known for its’ fruit orchards as is the US Okanogan but BC seems to dominate with vineyards, as well.  Both sides of the border have a long history as fruit growers.

Reflections in Okanagan River
A nice calm spot on the Okanagan River reflects the hills and the orchard that borders the shoreline.  This is so like seeing the Thompson River flowing into Kamloops Lake with very similar hills to reflect.  There is no doubt we are following the same valley down, so far.

Concrete Flume at Yakima, WA
We found a nice RV park just outside of Yakima for an overnight stay and saw this irrigation flume on our way out.  This one is concrete whereas the only other ones I’ve seen were wooden and certainly never able to last as long as this was.  Click here to see those ones.

Mt. Ranier
Mt Ranier is the highest mountain of the Cascade Range and although presently dormant, is one of the most dangerous volcanoes that could erupt.  According to history, Captain George Vancouver named this after his friend Rear Admiral Peter Ranier but it was also known to be called Mt. Tacoma.   The debate about the name was re-ignited when Mount McKinley went back to the original name of Denali in 2015.

Biggs Junction
We are approaching the Columbia River where we cross the Sam Hill Memorial Bridge into Briggs Junction, Oregon.  This part of the river was the location of “very bad rapid” mentioned in Lewis’ journal dated October 22, 1805, who was part of the Lewis and Clark expedition.  Biggs Junction has a population of 50 and the main business is for refuelling at this junction of Hwy 84 and 97.

Colorful trees
We followed Hwy 97 which was taking us on the scenic byway, “Journey Through Time” and called the WW 11 Veterans Historic Highway, home of Army Camp Rufus, 1944-1945.  It was a quiet stretch of road.  This part was such a pretty stretch lined by the big trees with changing colors and cattle in the nearby fields.  A nice drive on a country road.

Mt. Hood
Mt. Hood is a giant landmark that can be seen for 160 km (100 miles).  It is the highest mountain in Oregon, at 3424 m (11,235 ft) at last count.  It seems to vary over the years.  It is considered dormant but that is an informal statement, as it is considered to erupt one day.  Hopefully not in our lifetime.  Mt. Hood is also home to 12 glaciers,

Mono Lake
We’d been travelling Hwy 395 after leaving Carson City, Nevada and at heights of over 1800 m (6000 ft.) we were certainly surprised to see this sight as we came around the bend.  Mono Lake is a shallow and  saline soda lake formed a zillion years ago.  The salt makes the lake alkaline and you can see some of the salt accumulated at the water’s edge.    The lake is very huge and sits at an elevation of 1946 m (6383 ft).  It provides a nesting habitat for two million migratory birds who come annually.

Country towns on Hwy 395

We followed Hwy 395 the rest of our day and saw a few small towns along the way.  Bishop had the mural on the way and the other has what looks like the ‘real McCoy’ with the old western town storefronts. 

This trip was very different with quiet country roads and small towns to pass through.  It makes for a nice change from the busy freeways that we often travel.  It may take a bit longer this way but gives us the chance to enjoy some of the scenery.  RV parks are quite easy to find and we had no snow to deal with in any of the mountain passes we drove through.  It was a great trip.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Driving the I-5


The long drive home after a winter visit in southern California offers a variety of highway choices for us to follow.  Several things lead us to decide which one it will be, and with all the mountain passes between California and British Columbia, weather is a big factor.  We have travelled most of them more than once but do not tire of the sights we will see.

Heading up to the Grapevine
We’ve decided to head up through “the Grapevine” on Interstate 5.  The Grapevine is best known for its bad winter road conditions that can close it down but it is seeing good weather and not going to be a problem for us on this trip.  The Grapevine is only one part of the road ahead so we can also enjoy other sights on the drive.

A different view of the Grapevine
The 65 km (40 mi) journey passes over the Tehachapi Mountains from northern Los Angeles County to the San Joaquin Valley in Kern County with the highest point of this pass is 1275 metres (4183 ft).  After reaching the summit we will pass the state historic monument of Fort Tejon, which was established in 1854 to protect the people of the San Joaquin Valley from the stock rustling that was a big problem at that time.

Pyramid Lake
Passing by with all the traffic does not allow for the best photo but this is Pyramid Lake, which was named after the pyramid shaped rock carved out by engineers building the Old Highway 99.   This earth and rock dam is 123 m (386 ft.) tall and is part of the California Aqueduct, which is part of the California State Water Project.

Citrus and cattle
There is a stretch of I-5 south of Sacramento, California, which offers several different varieties of citrus fields, as shown here, as well as fields of cattle, many of which seem to be in these stock yards.   You won’t miss the stock yards, you can smell them before you get there.  Sorry to say the citrus don’t offer their fragrance for us to enjoy from our truck, though. 

Roadside Art
“Art is in the eye of the beholder” is an old expression and comes to mind when we pass these metal art sculptures of the dinosaur/dragon and the cow with calf near Yreka, Calif.  They are not in the same field but although they have a similarity to one another, they may or may not be made by the same person.  The ‘bravo farms’ is a wooden billboard farther south.

Lake Shasta
Lake Shasta is one of the largest lakes in the western United States with a shoreline of 587 km (365 mi) when the lake is full.  We have seen the lake at so many lower levels than this one shown, but not the lowest which was in 1977-’78 when the shoreline was only 199 km (124 mi).  It was down 71 metres (234’) from the top level.  There are several sights in this area we have yet to see, including the Shasta Caverns and the Shasta Dam.

Castle Crags
Also in the Shasta area is the Castle Crags State Park.  This incredible rock formation is on the northwest edge of the park, giving it the name, and the park offers many amenities for fishing, camping and hiking.  For those inclined, this sounds like an incredible place for the hiking enthusiasts with its miles of trails.  The Pacific Crest Trail winds through the park on its path between Mexico and Canada. 

Mt. Shasta
I have taken dozens of photos of this beautiful Mount Shasta as we have passed by, on this route as well as another route taken on travels heading south.  It has been shrouded in winter clouds at times but most often Mt. Shasta is seen offering this pristine cover of snow with the prettiest blue sky as the backdrop!

U.S. I-5 to B.C. Hwy 5


For the most part, I-5 is a very busy freeway from top to bottom, and we will continue on this road through Oregon and Washington until we cross the Canadian border into BC.   We will get onto Highway 5 in British Columbia, which will take us up and over the Coquihalla Highway where there can be very little traffic, no matter the weather conditions!  Breathing comes a little bit easier here. lol

Traffic can be a problem due to such things as accidents because of the winter climates.  Another one is passing through the big cites at rush hour, which, by the way, can last more than one hour!  Considering all of this and choosing good travel times all comes into the planning of the trip.  You do not want to end your day driving through a big city during rush hour after spending hours on the road.

Happy travels!

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