Heading for Burns…

After that great visit to Crater Lake in my last post, it was time to head over to Burns, Oregon. The best route took me through Bend. What I’d planned is a week in Burns so I could evaluate the area as a possible anchor town for purposes of VA health care. I have been anchored in Portland for years because the hospital there has a very good reputation and I have friends in Portland, but it became such a hassle going there because of the over crowding, and the overpricing they can get away with in the Portland area. You might call it gouging. It happens with all rentals in that area for some reason. And RV spots are no exception. The final straw was the only economical RV park I would usually stay at, despite its many shortcomings, became a long term only park. So I could no longer stop there for just a week or two. I’d have to sign up for a month to month lease arrangement. And the last 3 times I’d gone to Portland for my yearly check up had all turned into a hassle finding accommodations as the RV parks are like partially booked solid for weeks in advance and I’d be lucky to find an open, and very expensive short term spot. Another economical park in Corbett nearby in the gorge turned out to be booked solid for 2 months around the time I wanted to visit. As was another overpriced park along the Sandy river. So I’d end up staying in the Walmart parking lot or on the street for days at a time. This had been steadily getting worse over the many years I have been coming here for my yearly VA checkup. The trip there in August of 2016 turned out to be a 1.5 month visit because I needed to get a colonoscopy and my yearly exam so it just took longer. I was able to stay at a fairly nice park…$640/month. Kinda spendy, fancy park though I had my bike ripped off there. They cut my wire cable to steal it even though there were at least 4 other nearby bikes with no cables or chains at all!

But, anyway, that’s why I was planning on scoping out Burns as a new anchor town, staying for a week at what looked like a pretty nice RV park there just a mile from downtown. After that week, plan was to head over to Vale, Oregon to watch the solar eclipse on August 21st, 2017. I actually planned ahead for this trip and had reservations in both Burns and Vale. Week at a time. But talk about gouging…both RV parks had bumped up their rates just for the eclipse crowds that may show up.

And something else I’m seeing lately. Both RV parks had changed ownership recently. The investors are back at it with buying RV parks, raising the rates, and doing hardly any improvements. This was going on back before the RV’ing crash of ’08, but it stopped during that period, now it’s starting up again. That’s mostly a bad thing for me, because I like it when the rates are low. Fancy facilities are secondary, or tertiary to me. All I want is a simple pull through, water, 50 amp electric, a way to dump, and WIFI that’s half way decent. Oh, and a view of the southern sky for my satellite. New owners mean higher prices. And they often don’t have the traffic to justify improving the infrastructure of the park, so you get a crappy park with high rates.

Well, anyway, enough of that…so I was scheduled to leave Crater Lake RV Resort the morning of the 4th day, here I’m stowing gear, but since my trip was going to be so short at just 4 hours I took a slightly longer hike around the edges of the park, near the water…

Weather was great. A few clouds but mostly sunny. We’d had a rain storm the night before.Let’s see where this trail leads us. It’s not overgrown so that’s a good sign.Just over the rise and you see the creek. And you don’t see this very often at a RV park…a floating bridge. Spotted a fish. Can’t see it now.Very clear water. I’m wondering if any fish spawn here. Nice gravel beds. Out in the back 40 is this farm. Part of the RV park off in the distance on the other side of the creek. Eventually the trail loops back to the RV park to where they’d built a nice covered bridge to get back across the creek. You can fish right off the side.Since the fires prevented my travel through the Crater Lake NP to take that short cut, had to backtrack south a few miles before heading back north. And a bunch of miles later I’m traveling along heading north on US97 and after I pass through the small town of La Pine, here at the junction with OR31 is this traffic line up heading towards me from the north. What is going on? So I’m thinking there must be something happening up the road so I keep my eyes peeled. But my lane is wide open. No traffic going my direction hardly at all. What the hell? Never did figure out what it was all about. Saw no evidence of an accident, road work, rodeo, or anything that might have caused it. It’s a mystery never to be solved.Got to Bend and decided to take a shortcut shown on my phone rather than following the route through town that my GPS (set for ‘Bus’) was showing. And eventually had to regret that decision as the road the phone app told me to take had a 2 mile long gravel section. Washboard, gravel, & dust. Drove under 10 MPH this entire section. This shortcut literally bypasses the entire Bend city center.But the road soon bumped into US20 heading due east. I kind of regretted taking it because of all the dust that accumulated on the RV and car.

This is what the country looks like shortly after leaving Bend. I considered Bend as my anchor town as it too has a VA clinic, but it’s too popular with retirees and has been for many years so the prices of everything are out of sight. I want what little money I have to last another 15 years at least…and still travel.

See the high desert pines in the above picture along the hillside? They are pretty common around Bend but tend to disappear 10 miles later as the elevation drops making this more of a high desert.There’s some hold out trees over on that hillside though.Passed through Hines and spotted a truck repair place alongside the highway. Hines is just a mile or two outside of Burns. Hmmm, I’ll have to come back and see if they would do a maintenance job on my RV.

And here I am set up at the RV park. Have nice big trees for shade (it’s August! In the desert!) and generously sized pull through spots. Pretty good Wifi, 50 amp, water, sewer, and the sites are flat too. Remember I mentioned last time that I climbed up on the roof and replaced a coax cable on the satellite dish? And that did fix an error message I was getting on the Winegard box, but even so, I didn’t have DirecTV. It was giving me a 775 error message on every channel I tried. Hmm. Well, they have cable here at the park and I just hooked up to that while I worked on the satellite problem every once in a while. Antenna is down in this photo but I had it up and down several times working on it. Wasn’t sure if it was a DirecTV or Winegard issue. The tiny cabinet over the dash above the steering wheel where all the equipment for satellite is is not a pleasure to work inside of either.


During my weeks stay here, I did travel around town many times checking things out. Also stopped at the Burns VA Clinic to visit and ask questions. There’s a nice community hospital within spitting distance of the clinic with only a few online reviews but all but one are 5 stars. If I had an emergency, I’d go here and hope my VA benefits covered some of it. If not an emergency, I’d transport over to the VA hospital in Boise. The clinic has good reviews too. The clinic tells me that the hospital there in Burns is excellent. Note that I’m only checking on things, I don’t need a hospital now, but someday I will I’m sure. The VA Hospital in Boise Idaho is a 2 hour drive, also has an excellent reputation. But I checked around Burns and damned straight, there is a flight line & helicopter club here and they can zip you over to Boise right quick. Saw a sign at the air port for a formal service for that.

Had like 3 heli’s there when I visited. Just 5 miles outside of Burns. Neat. Back in Burns, I was wandering around the clinic area and just off the main drag is this ol’ timey building. Use to be a gun shop. Looks like an old brothel too. When I first arrived in Burns and saw this property, it was looking like a tear down after the family all dies off. But a few weeks later, a for sale sign went up in the window. Looks like it was built in the 1880’s doesn’t it?Found this old RV parked by someone’s house. Vandals have played with the wipers, but overall it looks pretty good. It’s a restored model it looks like. There are some nice areas of town too. Over in Hines is this curious old cement building with a couple RVs parked in the open air carports. Interesting. Must have been a factory at one time? Probably from WWII.While in Hines, made arrangements with The Truck Stop Shop (no internet presence, they don’t even do email) to change the oil and filters in my Cat engine. I like their no nonsense approach and the economical $92/hour labor rate. A quick look in their shop left me impressed with the truck business they were doing and the overall appearance of the shop. Not spit and polish, but neat and orderly. I also like the fact that they didn’t mind that I’d bring my own oil and filters.

And back in downtown Burns (Hines is just up the road maybe a mile). Town looks pretty nice. Clean, buildings are cared for, some closed but no boarded up businesses. Most of the downtown businesses that are open are doing all right it looks like. Even have some new ones like a fancy coffee shop. I might like to settle here and make it my anchor town.Oh, hell, look at this in downtown Burns! A Morgan’s Bar & Grill! Named after me! (Probably not). So I parked and went to visit.Only to discover it’s closed and out of business. Found out later the original family that owned and ran the place for decades sold it a couple 3 years ago to an out of town-er. He ran it for a year and than just close it up and moved out of town. No for sale sign on it yet.

My first week in Burns I accomplished all I’d come here to do, and did decide that I liked the VA clinic well enough, and the area well enough, that I will use Burns as my anchor base for a while to see how it goes. So I signed up at the clinic, gave them some blood for an assay, paid for a PO box so I’d have a Burns address, and scouted the area for other RV parks. And while driving around the area I found one around 24 miles away in Narrows, Oregon. Just 8 miles from the Malheur Wildlife Refuge…you remember that place that was occupied by armed white terrorists? We all know damned well that if it had been Indians or POC they would have been shot dead and/or ended up in prison. As it was, one was shot, and those that went to jail beat the rap in court and spent no prison time. As for the 10’s of thousands of dollars in damages? You and I pay for that.

Anyway, here’s a look at the hill I head down into the valley where the Narrows RV park is. Lots of empty space here. I just visited this time. Next time I’ll likely stay at the park. It is 24 miles from Burns, but has most everything I’ll need and it’s PPA park so half price to stay.

Nice little store and restaurant with an attached saloon. I had lunch here my first visit…yum. The Malheur WR is just 8 miles from here.Several brews on tap in the bar.And a big screen TV along with a pool table. What more could you want in a RV park?

And that’s all for this post. Next time we head for Vale to expirience the total eclipse. Over here in eastern Oregon, it’s a strong possibility we’ll have crystal clear weather on August 21st. See you next time for that story.

Thanks for visiting!

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