Quick Trip to Walla Walla…

And now it’s mid-September (blog time) and my son contacts me to let me know my daughter and her BF are going to be in Walla Walla where he lives so I should come up to visit. OK, it’s a one day trip from Narrows RV park on some roads on the east side of Oregon north of Narrows I’ve never been on so sounds like fun. Oh, sure, I’ve been to Pendleton (famous for many reasons, one is the Pendleton Woolen Mills – still active) and a few miles south of there, but not much further south than that. I have also done some hiking in the Blue Mountains outside and east of Pendleton in the Tollgate area so I’m not unfamiliar with the area. Still, the route I’ll take will be new to me…so, an adventure. Map shows it’ll take 5-6 hours to get there.

First leg of the trip is due north towards Burns, than cross US-20 onto the US-395. I’ve never been on US-395 before so this should be fun. It’s a 6 hour trip so I left fairly early in the morning. Clouds off in the distance the entire trip promised the occasional rain.

This is my nice 7″ GPS I found on eBay. Sits on top of the drivers cockpit and gauge cluster assembly cover. It’s cool, even has a ‘bus’ setting so I’m routed around low overpasses and away from tight streets. Pretty neat, but, it didn’t come with a sun hood like many of them do these days so I had to make one. But at only $49, I’m not complaining. Lifetime maps too. If I can figure out how to find them and download them from the website. It is not exactly intuitive but for right now the maps that are built in have been great.

A few miles after getting on 395, the grassy lowlands began to change into evergreen forest. And the rain storm began. But, it never really got very strong, seemed I was always just a step or several miles ahead of the major wet spots.

A forest fire area from just 2 years ago. Remember? It’s huge. And then it turns into grass lands. There are some huge ranches out here. With names I’ve never heard of even though I’ve spent my life in these here parts, pardner.
Then we’re back into a semi-forested area. And grasslands again. Whew, getting hard to keep track. But the views were spectacular.Here we are between Pilot Rock and Pendleton. Lots of wheat farms in this area.So got all set up at the Walla Walla RV park late that afternoon. I figured I’d do a little better job of tourist stuff on the way back down to Burns. There were several small towns I just kinda rushed through trying to make it up to WW in one day. I won’t give a link to the RV park because I don’t recommend it any more. They have some ultra religious owners now and they started censoring the Wifi URLs we can access in this free country. Several of them are so mild, I have no idea why they block them. I’ll never stay at this park again. There is another park in town, the Blue Valley RV Park that has more favorable reviews too. I just stayed here because I forgot about the censoring and they’re close to the stores I like. But I have a car now so distance in town isn’t the issue it was in years past when I didn’t and I’d ride my bike to nearby stores.

Well, that visit was kinda a bust as I only got to visit with the kids once, twice, but I understood when I came up that they’d spend the majority of their visit with the gramma who was having her 90’s bday or some such. Much of the exes fam was there so my kids were engaged with lots of visiting.

Anyway, after the week ended, I headed south again and planned on stopping mid trip in John Day. Another town I’ve never been to. John Day Dam is down river a bit so I was well aware of the name but don’t know who he was or why so many things around here are named after him.

So this first section of the trip back to Narrows was only going to be 3 hours or so. Plenty of time to slow down, stop once and a while, visit a town or two. As I traveled through Pendleton, thought I’d take a picture or two for you guys but the traffic got a bit difficult and I only got this one.

Next picture is as I approached Pilot Rock. A small farming community where my ex sister in law lived on a farm so my ex and I visited many times. Horse riding and wandering around the farm was fun. Even got a mini vaca once when they watched Mush the daughter and wifey and I went up to a cabin in the Blues a friend of their’s loaned to us to spend some quality time alone. Then they came up with a couple horses and Dale and I rode back many miles to town. Pretty cool. Fond memories.Anyway, back on the road heading towards John Day where I planned to stay the night at the county park that had some pretty good reviews. I could have just pressed on to Burns, but where’s the fun in that? I’ve never been to John Day and wanted a visit.

And here we go…John Day. Old timey mining camp, now a town site.
And soon I’m all set up in the Grant County RV Park. Nice. Wifi was great, weather was hot, but good most of the day. Just the middle was a bit uncomfortable. Anyway, I first spent two nights starting on Sept. 27th, was enjoying myself, but hadn’t finished seeing the rest of the town so stayed another week…up until the morning of October 6th. Really relaxing there. Roamed around and visited all sorts of old businesses on main street, enjoyed some local dinners, rode my bike all over, drove around the area too.And right behind my RV a few steps is the John Day river. If you squint, you can just make out my RV through those trees.

I visited the local museum, and found that there is an extension nearby. Rode my bike over to the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site. There was a large Chinese population here in John Day helping in the mines. The largest Chinese population in Oregon at the time. Because of that two guys from the same province in China, Ing Hay and Lung On, opened a general store and herb shop and soon became invaluable to this community. Providing supplies, and herbal medicines to both Chinese and the whites in the area devoid of doctors. This building was where their operated their business. Lasted from the 1880’s until the late ’30s. You can take a guided tour inside the building but I wasn’t there at the right time and missed it. Buy tickets at the museum, meet the guide here at the appointed time for the tour. Has all those old bottles of medicines and what not. Would have been interesting. Didn’t get back to it either. Much loved history by the local historical society as they’ve put much time, money, and energy into the story. Mr. Hay was very much admired and loved by the community. The entire building was lovingly restored by local volunteers…an indication of how much the people around here respected Dr. Hay.
This beautiful park is part of the grounds donated for the museum. It’s state owned now and as a result well kept. Back at the museum, I read many testimonials by patients where they had been cured by Ing Hay of various illnesses using his skill with herbs and potions. Really remarkable.

And I slipped up here at John Day. I went out bike riding or driving around many times, walked the town streets, visited the bars and stores in downtown, but failed to take many photos. This is it, the few above. Don’t know what I was doing but repeatedly forgot to take my camera with me when I went exploring. And tended to forget to use my phone camera. I will say my visit there was fun. And I’d bet there were even some things I missed, like there was probably a mine tour or something. Worth visiting the town for again. Well, whatever, at least I know where to stop and stay next time I’m in the area. What a nice cozy area.

After my 9 days there, I headed off to Burns again, and once again stayed at the RV park in town.

I mistakenly thought I needed a space with a direct view of the south for my satellite because I’d forgotten I had gotten all my problems with the satellite fixed up in Vale over a month ago so asked for a space with a view towards the south and this was the best one they had. Turns out, I could have been assigned a better site if I’d not mentioned it.That road just to the right of and past the fence takes you to downtown Burns, just a mile away.

So getting the details of the satellite situation wrong wasn’t the only big screw up I made here. I totally forgot the main reason I needed to come back to Oregon for a while. I had to get my drivers license renewed. It was almost eight years since I had gotten the one I’m carrying and it needed to be renewed before I went to Mexico…where I planned on staying past the expiration date of my DL. Then I was planning on driving to Minnesota to visit with my daughter than fly to Ireland for that visit I’d delayed two years ago because I was travel weary after spending two months in Europe roaming all over. And driving back to Oregon (you have to show up in person to renew) from Mexico is not a short cut to Minnesota. So pretty important. BUT I FORGOT! GAH!

Well, after I spent a week here, with that nagging feeling I had forgotten something, literally doing little or nothing, I decided to head on back to Narrows so I could save some money. Note that I was still monitoring the temps down south and it was much nicer here in Oregon, much cooler. But the nights were getting coolish. In the 40’s F.

Next time, I’ll be back in Narrows.

Thanks for visiting my blog!


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5 Responses to Quick Trip to Walla Walla…

  1. Jeff Pierce says:

    WE checked out John Day as a possible base for the eclipse, the museum was closed then too. Darn would like to have toured vicariously through you.

    Sorry I couldn’t make it for you! I was sorry I missed it too. Had plenty of time (9 days) in town but just never seemed to get to it.

    Are you returning to San Felipe for time during the winter?

    Yea, I’m actually in San Felipe now. Weather is much better then Burns. Heh.

    • Jeff Pierce says:

      Enjoy San Felipe – save us some shrimp! We should be down in Jan or Feb and again in Mar or Apr. Be nice to meet you then!

      OK! I will! It would be great to meet you, Jeff. I’ll be hanging out at the Campo San Felipe. I’ll be here until February.

  2. Hafcanadian says:

    Ate at the DQ last year, not a bad meal. Noted the local and State cops hang at the restaurant along the bend at the west end of town, though… must be the place to go. Toured the fairgrounds park, but if we went back to the area we’d stay at the one at Prairie City, a city park I think. Just looked a bit more palatable, as did the whole town, not as large and busy as John Day has become.

    I’ll have to try that Prairie City park next year when I’m back in the area. Depot Park I think. Looks interesting.

    Been twenty years since we went through Kam Wah Chung. It was small and dark inside, with curious smells, but very interesting. As I recall they discovered a whole bunch of old bottles of stuff under the floorboards – can’t remember if it was whiskey or what.

    From what I read at the main museum a block away, there were a bunch of bottles found that had many of the Chinese herbal ‘cures’. Whether or not they found those under the floorboards or not I can’t recall.

    Got some old friends we have lost touch with in Milton-Freewater and if we are ever in the area with the Beaver, to catch up, would like to know which Walla Walla RV Park to avoid, or at least the name of the better alternative.

    Oh, yeah, sorry. The park I’d recommend these days is the Blue Valley RV Park.

    Did ya ever get over to check out the Crane Hot Springs park?

    No, I missed it…and I was all over that town too. Just never noticed it. Maybe next year.

  3. Hafcanadian says:

    The Crane Hot Springs RV Park is a short ways west of Crane, between there and Burns on Hwy 78. You may have driven right by it, north side of highway.

    I actually did drive right by it. I’m not much of a hot springs sort of guy, never have been. But I did think that it look interesting enough to warrant an overnight stay sometime.

  4. Hafcanadian says:

    We didn’t use the hot springs either, but they have an interesting setup. As I recall there is a main pool, but also separate entities you can rent that are like little motel rooms or bungalows each with its own private hot springs bath setup. My memory is vague as this was a decade ago or so, and though tempted we didn’t go in or rent time in one. They’re designed for young families or honeymooners, etc., where privacy is mportant. Our Beaver was parked across from them. Their RV spots were flat and graveled at the time, easy maneuvering, and only yards away from the office/store/lounge building. Don’t know about WiFi as that was before it was common.

    When I passed it at speed, I thought to myself that it would be an interesting place to explore. Maybe someday, since I’ll likely be in that area much more often now.

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