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The Baldwins 2020 Summer Trip Report- Wandering Oregon and Idaho
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goldtooth
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2020 8:31 am    Post subject: The Baldwins 2020 Summer Trip Report- Wandering Oregon and Idaho Reply with quote

We had big plans for our annual summer road trip in 2020. Colorado was our destination, with stops along the way in Moab and Mesa Verde National Park to see the cliff dwellings.
We were excited to drive the famous Million Dollar Highway and revel in the 10K foot peaks of the Rockies. I had spent the winter looking over maps to find interesting ways of connecting towns and documenting things we wanted to see. As Covid took over the USA, we knew that our plans were beginning to break down. By April, we had all but written off going to Colorado but then by May, some restrictions were loosening and areas began to open up. There was hope!

But then we visited the Colorado state tourism web page and they had a campaign going on that basically said “Do not come to Colorado for your summer trip!” They wanted to keep the area attractions open for locals and that seemed fair. At that point we made new plans which involved no plans.

We were still going on our trip but we decided to stay local to Oregon and Idaho and the kicker is we were going to just wing it and see where we would end up. That is very tough for me as I really enjoy the planning part of a trip so this would be a learning experience!

We left late morning on Saturday and headed south on I5 with heavy rains down past Eugene.
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We decided to head east towards Crater Lake and got off of I5 at Wilbur and meander towards Hwy 138. Pulled over to eat some lunch and change into some shorts as we left the rain behind.
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From there we connected with the stunning highway 138 and stopped along the way to stretch our legs a bit.
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The twins decided to use this culvert to talk to each other.
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Next stop was Falls Creek Falls which we knew nothing about before we went, but ended up being one of the highlights of the trip.
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We could hear the roar of the water and as we walked up the trail, this picturesque waterfall lay in front of us
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You could feel the wind the water was creating as it cascaded down the cliff.

We hung around for a bit admiring the falls but a light rain had started and we did not dress for rain. We hiked back to the van and had to start looking for camp.

Taking Steamboat Springs road off of 138, we found a decent site not too far from an established campground. Not a great view but with limited options and getting hungry, this would be perfect.
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The next morning we headed back to 138 and our first stop was at Toketee Falls for a short hike. In the parking lot was this 12 foot diameter redwood pipe that is used to move water 1500 feet from the dam to a tunnel then down to the water power generators. It was leaking quite a bit and felt refreshing on this warm morning.
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The hike is pretty easy with some stairs to aid in the steeper parts and the trail ends at a beautiful view of the falls.
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On the way back to the van, we hiked down to the river and enjoyed the sun for awhile. We were away from the crowds and enjoyed peace and quiet.
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When we got back to the van we decided to drive up to Umpqua Hot Springs to check it out and maybe make some lunch. There were only a few cars in the parking lot when we arrived so we decided to change into our swimwear and hike up to the hot springs. It was a pretty steep hike in areas and made even more difficult in our flip flops.
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When we arrived at the springs, there was only one pool of the six or so upper pools available so we grabbed it quickly. To get to this pool, we needed to walk past another pool with some naked guys in it and we let the twins know to just deal with it. This is the way it is in a lot of hot springs. We jumped in our muddy pool and enjoyed a warm soak. Down by the river is where most of the nudity was and after a few minutes, they stopped acting awkward with it.
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We were in the pool for 45 minutes or so and it was getting very busy with a lot of people standing around waiting to get in the water. We decided to head down and let others use our pool as we were getting hungry anyway.

After rinsing off with our solar shower and changing clothes, we made a quick bite to eat before taking off. As we were getting ready to leave, a guy came up to us asking if we could help him back his converted TriMet bus out of the now packed parking lot. I walked over and noticed it was one of the naked guys from the pool! The twins thought that was pretty funny. He was a very laid back, go with the flow kind of guy and a bit of forward-reverse-forward kind of movement, he was out. We took off as well with our eye on Crater Lake.

We stopped by Diamond Lake first as we have not been there in a long time. As usual, it was mosquito infested so we didn’t stay long.
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We had just heard that Crater Lake opened yesterday so we planned on stopping by but thought we would wait until tomorrow and go early. We checked iOverlander for a few sites but nothing really panned out. We finally found a decent site up a gravel road not too far from Crater Lake.
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The girls made me a great Fathers Day dinner and surprised me with a bottle of Bulleit whiskey. We sat out enjoying the evening when the mosquitoes finally found us. We battled them for a bit but ended up in the van earlier than we wanted and read on our devices.

In the next part we visit Crater Lake and head off towards the Alvord!

The entire first part is on our website at www.thatbaldwinlife.com and I will post the rest of the report as I get time to upload the pics here.
nate
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Last edited by goldtooth on Mon Jul 20, 2020 9:25 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2020 9:06 am    Post subject: Re: The Baldwins 2020 Summer Trip Report- Wandering Oregon and Idaho Reply with quote

Great report as always, Nate. I love the twins talking through the culvert. Thanks for sharing!
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2020 9:44 am    Post subject: Re: The Baldwins 2020 Summer Trip Report- Wandering Oregon and Idaho Reply with quote

Thanks. Makes me wish I was out there too. Sigh....
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2020 9:53 am    Post subject: Re: The Baldwins 2020 Summer Trip Report- Wandering Oregon and Idaho Reply with quote

Excellent.
I felt like I was on a ride-along, and I needed that getaway. Thanks.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2020 12:11 pm    Post subject: Re: The Baldwins 2020 Summer Trip Report- Wandering Oregon and Idaho Reply with quote

joetiger wrote:
Great report as always, Nate. I love the twins talking through the culvert. Thanks for sharing!


Yeah they always find ways to make us laugh. They have grown to be such amazing travelers as well.

dobryan wrote:
Thanks. Makes me wish I was out there too. Sigh....


Head on out! The mountains are calling...


levi wrote:

Excellent.
I felt like I was on a ride-along, and I needed that getaway. Thanks.


Thanks!
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2020 1:56 pm    Post subject: Re: The Baldwins 2020 Summer Trip Report- Wandering Oregon and Idaho Reply with quote

Communication with the I-Pipe App....

One of the best parts of trips with kids is the spontaneity.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2020 3:38 pm    Post subject: Re: The Baldwins 2020 Summer Trip Report- Wandering Oregon and Idaho Reply with quote

Thank you, Mr. tooth!

Nice job of putting your report together. I've got two daughters, too, although they're both older than yours. Cool, Dad.

Cindy and I have had enough of reading other folks trip reports; we're headin' up into the local mountains for a couple days tomorrow.

Thanks, again.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2020 3:44 pm    Post subject: Re: The Baldwins 2020 Summer Trip Report- Wandering Oregon and Idaho Reply with quote

Great trip report, racking up lots of miles and family memories for the twins!

My brother and I, being only a couple years apart in age, grew up pretty close. We're both married now, and both have plenty of other good friends, but we still regard the other as our best friend. We now live several hours apart, and with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic it seems forever since I've seen him, let alone shared a campfire.

We email and text, of course, but it often feels like we're shouting through a culvert ...

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2020 6:48 am    Post subject: Re: The Baldwins 2020 Summer Trip Report- Wandering Oregon and Idaho Reply with quote

Jeffrey Lee wrote:
Great trip report, racking up lots of miles and family memories for the twins!

My brother and I, being only a couple years apart in age, grew up pretty close. We're both married now, and both have plenty of other good friends, but we still regard the other as our best friend. We now live several hours apart, and with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic it seems forever since I've seen him, let alone shared a campfire.

We email and text, of course, but it often feels like we're shouting through a culvert ...

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Jeffrey
Yes we try and make as many memories with our twins as we can while they are still young enough to want to hang out with us. Our two older ones are working and in college now so we do not get to see them as much.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2020 8:06 am    Post subject: Re: The Baldwins 2020 Summer Trip Report- Wandering Oregon and Idaho Reply with quote

Part two

We arrived at Crater Lake before lunch and spent some time at the various view points. It was not crowded by Crater Lake standards but was pretty busy for us. The lake was like glass and with not a cloud in the sky, it made for dramatic pics.

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Our swim clothes stunk like sulfur still from the hot springs the day before so we decided to head south towards Klamath Falls to get some laundry done and stock up on some groceries. While there we made the decision to head east towards the Alvord desert and camp on the playa. I was there a few years ago on my KTM and my wife was excited to check it out. We ended up in Lakeview, and with no good camping options in the area due to ranch land, a state park would be our home for the night. Goose Lake State Park is a wetlands area on the border of Oregon and California and was almost empty.
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Dinner was made, showers were taken and we enjoyed the sunset down by the wetlands. Well us and a trillion little bugs.
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The next morning we were going to make the long (for us) 150 mile jaunt to Fields which is the stepping off point for Alvord. The drive took us briefly into Nevada and up many steep switchback passes which we took at 25mph in second gear. With no one else around, it didn't matter much how fast we went.
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As we approached Fields, the temps were near 100 degrees at it was only 1:00 in the afternoon. We turned into Fields Station and filled up on gas and parked the van in the shade to make lunch. We debated on when we should attempt the drive to Alvord as we knew once we were on the playa, there would be no shade.
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We sat in that shade enjoying the breeze for three hours. We watched people come and go and felt like we were on our front porch watching the world go by. Around 4:30 we decided to bite the bullet and head out to Alvord. We arrived around 5:00 and immediately set out to drive the dusty playa and pretend we were in the Dakar Rally in our old VW. Driving out there is disorienting as there are almost no landmarks to judge your distance or speed.
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We picked a site near the edge and close to Frog Springs as it had a bathroom which is hard to come by on the playa. Hard to dig a hole and have some privacy in the middle of the lake.
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We sat in the shade of the awning trying to stay cool. It was still near 100 degrees but there was a slight breeze at times. As the sun started to set, the temperature started to drop so we made dinner, had a cold cider (or two), and enjoyed the view.
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Woke up to a beautiful sunrise but it was starting to heat up fast. I woke the girls up and we started packing so we could get out of the heat before it was unbearable. Wish we had more time to enjoy the Alvord but it was just too hot this week.
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We decided to take the longish way back around to Burns and then off towards Ontario Oregon and get a hotel for the night. It was forecasted to be in the high 90's all around the SE and we needed to do laundry and showers to get this Alvord dust off of us.
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Sunset from our hotel room.
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From here we decided to head north into Idaho to get out of the heat. We visit more hot springs, play accidental firefighter, and stop by the center of the universe.

I will get the rest of the report loaded after I finish the writing and post it on our site. Hopefully that will be in the next day or so. Thanks so much for reading along so far! I really look forward to sharing these adventures with you guys.
nate
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2020 8:41 am    Post subject: Re: The Baldwins 2020 Summer Trip Report- Wandering Oregon and Idaho Reply with quote

Popcorn
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:21 am    Post subject: Re: The Baldwins 2020 Summer Trip Report- Wandering Oregon and Idaho Reply with quote

Beautiful report, got me smiling in no time! Rock on! Cool

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 11:52 am    Post subject: Re: The Baldwins 2020 Summer Trip Report- Wandering Oregon and Idaho Reply with quote

The hotel was a nice break from the heat and the showers were very welcome after the Alvord dust. Our first order of business was to stock up on groceries before leaving town as we were getting pretty low on veggies.

With the chores taken care of, we headed east towards Boise with plans to take Hwy 21 towards Idaho City. We had hoped that the elevation would get us into cooler temps and we were looking forward to camping in the trees again.

It was nearing lunch time and we found ourselves near Lucky Peak State Park which had a nice beach area for us to make some food and enjoy the sun for a bit. The park has a very nice day use area that was on the backside of an earthen dam and rented paddleboards, had bathrooms, plenty of shade trees, and lots of geese for the twins to chase around. We hung out in the water and on the sandy beach for a few hours before finally packing up and looking for a spot to camp
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Back on Hwy 21, it continued to climb and the temps began to drop to more comfortable levels. We stopped in Idaho City to look around at the historic downtown area but most shops were closed due to Covid so we didn’t stay long. That was ok as it was getting pretty late in the day and we had to find a place to sleep. There were not a lot of options on iOverlander and the few campsites we did find did not seem that appealing to us. We would rather find a free site to be by ourselves then pay just for a spot to sleep.
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The road became very steep as we came to the top of the pass and as we started to descend, Nancy spotted a potential spot off the side of the road. We couldn’t find the entrance to it and we pulled off the road to get our bearings. Where we were parked, we noticed there was a road that lead down to the creek so we walked down to find one of our best camps sites in a long time. Right on the creek with a large fire pit and plenty of trees for shade and privacy. Score!
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As we were getting ready to make dinner, something happened that was not funny at the time but looking back, we can laugh and we learned a valuable lesson.

We have a fire extinguisher in our van like all responsible VW owners. It was with the van when we bought it and was in the cabinet under the sink for 5 years or so. My first mistake was not properly mounting the extinguisher in an easily accessible location. It was on it’s side in the cabinet, not rolling around but not mounted. As Nancy grabbed the cutting board from the cabinet and closed the door, the extinguisher must have moved and as she closed the door, it activated the bottle and a white dust quickly filled the cabinet and was pouring into the van! By the time we opened the door, the bottle had let out all of it’s propellant and had stopped. After finally figuring out that the safety pin had come out allowing the trigger to be pulled, we started the long process of cleaning up the mess. Luckily we had masks for Covid and most of the dust was still in the cabinet we used our small broom and dust pan with wet rags to clean it up. We turned on our fans to air out the van and got back to making dinner. I wish we would have taken the time to get some pics of it but we were deep into controlling the chaos.

The rest of the night was less eventful and we spent some time around the fire before calling it a night.

The next morning we descended towards Lowman and found ourselves near Kirkham Hot Springs and decided to check it out. This one is inside of a campground that was closed but you could park along the highway and walk in. Kirkham was very different than Umpqua as it was very shallow and the water did not smell like sulfur at all. There were quite a few spots to choose from and with almost no one there, we spent a long time soaking in the various temperature pools. In one area, the hot water flows down the mountain and you could take a hot shower in the small falls.
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After enjoying the hot water for awhile, we hiked back to the van to change clothes and make lunch before heading on.
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We continued our leisurely drive towards Stanley with many stops to take in the views.
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Driving into the cool little town of Stanley, we immediately saw more Westy’s in the town then on the entire trip so far. Score one for Stanley. We filled up on gas and water (they had a free potable water hose with super cold water) and headed off to the tiny library for some wifi.
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Enjoying the sun, we sat in the town square looking at maps, weather, downloading Netflix, and relaxing until we needed to find a campsite. Stanley seemed like a really chill small town and would love to come back sometime in the future.

After we left town, we followed the Salmon river for some time checking out roadside pullouts, a campground that was packed, and various interesting places to sleep. Nancy saw a few campers on the other side of the river and we kept an eye out on how to get across. We soon saw a small gravel road that crossed the river and followed it to a developed but free camping area right on the river. Another score!
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We had some neighbors down the road a bit but we could barley see them and they had a young child and were very quiet. And they drove a nice 1997 Eurovan Camper.

After a restful nights sleep next to the river, we only made it a few miles down the road before seeing a sign for a ghost town. If you have read our other reports you would know we rarely pass up an opportunity to see a ghost town. Down the rough gravel road for four miles took us to Bayhorse Ghost Town which is a very well maintained relic. We paid the $5 day use fee and started hiking around.
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This was also the last place we took pictures with our Nikon DSLR as I dropped it and damaged the lens we were using. Without a backup lens, it stayed in the van the rest of the trip so it was up to the iPhone to do the work now.

We continued north towards Salmon for gas and a few groceries (and ciders). I was kind of looking forward to Salmon for some reason and it was a little bit of a let down. It did not help that it was hot and humid with a thunderstorm coming in but I thought there would be more to see. We found the library and made a snack and used the wifi to check the weather north of us. It was looking like we would be getting wet for the next few days so we tried to adjust our route a bit to avoid the worst of it.

We finally headed out and saw an iOverlander site up the road and found a small road leading off the highway towards the river. It wasn’t great but we again had limited options for the night. It was private and the river was loud enough to drown out any of the cars that may drive by. The clouds were building and it soon started to rain pretty hard. Dinner was ramen that we made on the Westy stove while we watched some Netflix on the iPad.
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Waking to a light drizzle, we took our time breaking camp. Plans were made to head towards Missoula and get a hotel to do some laundry and get out of the 100% chance of rain that was forecasted for the next 24 hours.
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Arriving in Missoula around 1:00, we asked to get an early check in at the hotel and were able to get in by 2:30. We spent the next 22 hours in the hotel waiting out the rain, doing laundry and other chores. We checked out at the last minute around noon and drove towards Wallace Idaho where it looked like better weather. Wallace is a cool old mining town that claims to be the center of the universe. We made lunch and spent a few hours walking the town and looking at the old houses and cool alleys.
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Time to drive around on back roads and start looking for a place to sleep. Wandering through small, run down towns, we headed north west and looked at a camp spot near a lake but it didn’t give us a good feeling. Moving on, we took a chance on an iOverlander spot near Andersen Lake but when we arrived, there were already a few campers there. Backtracking to a trail head we saw earlier that had a bathroom and a level parking area, we decided to drive the gravel road on the lake to see if there was anything better. A short drive around the lake and we found a nice spot with a beautiful view.
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We enjoyed a nice breeze while we made dinner and read books. It was a very peaceful setting.

We went to bed that night with that dreaded "bzzzzing" noise in our ears.....


Final part coming soon! As usual it is all up on the website, just need to finish loading pics to TS.
Thanks again!
nate
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goldtooth
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2020 8:18 am    Post subject: Re: The Baldwins 2020 Summer Trip Report- Wandering Oregon and Idaho Reply with quote

The final part!
Thanks for following along so far!

But then as the sun went down, the breeze that was keeping the bugs away suddenly died. It only took a few minutes for the hordes of mosquitoes to find us and start attacking. We retreated to the van and watched as they congregated around our window screens looking for a way to get in. As we turned the lights off that night, we heard the dreaded “bzzzzzzz” around our heads and knew we were in for a rough night.

In the morning I was surprised to see I only had a bite or two. Looking up, I saw a few mosquitoes on the tent which I promptly squished their blood engorged bodies onto the canvas. Someone got eaten last night and come to find out it was Nancy. I killed a total of six mosquitoes in the van that morning.

From here we head south and back towards Oregon. We had a few more rain showers that day and the dark clouds added to the dramatic landscapes. A stop was made in Kendrick for lunch and to let the twins run around in the park.
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We started looking for camp around Riggins and settled on one of the many free roadside campgrounds along the highway. A little noisy that night but the raging river helped a bit with the noise.
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Today we head back into Oregon via Hwy 86 through Hells Canyon. This is a part of Oregon that I have always wanted to explore but have never found myself in the area with enough time to look around. This time we would have our chance. Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in North America and plunges 7,900 feet from the peak of He Devil mountain down to a depth of 1,480 feet deep.

We wound our way down the beautiful highway to Woodhead Park to sit on the shore of the Snake River for a bit and soak up the views.
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From there we crossed back into Oregon and stopped by Copperfield Campground to see if we had any interest in staying there. On the way in, we ran into a nice couple driving a Westy Syncro and chatted with them a bit. They were headed back to Montana on about the same route as we had just come in on.

The campground was a bit busy for us so we pushed on to the Hells Canyon Overlook to view the canyon from up above. The drive up was paved and easy and we noticed many camping opportunities on the way up.
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After taking in the views, we decided to go back down to where we saw a few good potential camp sites along the river. About 12 miles from the top we found this great site off of the main road.
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We had a relaxing night by the fire and with no mosquitoes, were able to enjoy the evening bug free. The next morning we decided to head towards Baker City for gas and to explore this old historic town. We had spent a fun afternoon there on our 2018 trip and wanted to see what more it offered.

Just outside of Richland Oregon, we received a text from one of our older daughters that she wanted us to call her. We pull over and after a 20 minute call, decide we need to cut our trip a bit short to head home and help her out. We had planned on heading back to the Painted Hills and exploring the small towns in the area. All of that could wait and we jumped on I84 and spent the next seven hours getting home.

It wasn’t the way we wanted the trip to end but family comes first and we had an amazing and adventurous 13 days. I was able to relax and just look at the map at camp and pick a direction to go and it worked out great. The Westy did great and we were able to see a lot of areas close to home that we may have passed by on a planned trip.

Covid definitely changed our behavior on the trip as we were more hesitant to be around any crowds, go into in stores, or visit some of the popular areas due to social distancing. In past trips, we have seemed to connect with people on the road at campsites or in small towns and have enjoyed getting to know these people. This time, we kept to ourselves much more and weren’t able to make that connection. I didn’t realize that I would miss that part as much as I did.

Some trip stats:

Around 2500 miles
13 days on the road
2 hotels (total of $230)
1 campsite paid for ($24)
9 free campsites!
Spent $350 in gas
Averaged around 18.5 mpg with a best of 22.5 (tailwind all day)
We spent a total of $360 on food, day passes, campsites, and misc other expenses. (This money comes from our “saved up money” from the year that we keep in the Tube. Extra change, things we sell on Craigslist, etc) This money did not come out of pocket for the trip.
Trip total was $940 for 13 days which equates to $72 per day for a family of four. If we take out the hotels, we could of got it down to $54 per day

That does it for our 2020 summer road trip! We are already planning next years trip (assuming the world gets back to "normal").

nate
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jimf909 Premium Member
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2020 10:08 am    Post subject: Re: The Baldwins 2020 Summer Trip Report- Wandering Oregon and Idaho Reply with quote

Hooray, another goldtooth report!!!

what a great summer vacation photo...
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goldtooth
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2020 4:30 pm    Post subject: Re: The Baldwins 2020 Summer Trip Report- Wandering Oregon and Idaho Reply with quote

jimf909 wrote:
Hooray, another goldtooth report!!!

what a great summer vacation photo...
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My wife has video of the entire conversation and it's pretty funny.
nate
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2020 7:14 pm    Post subject: Re: The Baldwins 2020 Summer Trip Report- Wandering Oregon and Idaho Reply with quote

Awesome. If you end up this way next year, we'd be happy to provide intel, a driveway, and company if you want it.
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goldtooth
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2020 7:16 pm    Post subject: Re: The Baldwins 2020 Summer Trip Report- Wandering Oregon and Idaho Reply with quote

owokie wrote:
Awesome. If you end up this way next year, we'd be happy to provide intel, a driveway, and company if you want it.


Might take you up on that!
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pnwkayaker
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2020 7:25 pm    Post subject: Re: The Baldwins 2020 Summer Trip Report- Wandering Oregon and Idaho Reply with quote

Awesome trip report, thanks for taking us for the ride Smile

Regarding Wallace, ID, the movie Dante's Peak was filmed in that town - last year on our way to Yellowstone we drove trough Wallace and my youngest son immediately recognized it (there're some references to the movie in-town but are not obvious).

I love how you use the iOverlander app to find free (and awesome sites), my wife usually likes to get reservations (state or national parks) in advance to eliminate the stress of finding a place to stay, but it seems you had usually several options to chose from, is that correct?
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2020 7:42 pm    Post subject: Re: The Baldwins 2020 Summer Trip Report- Wandering Oregon and Idaho Reply with quote

Thanks for the report! Looks like you had a great time. We hit a lot of those sites camping with a tent over ten years ago. We had hoped to do it this summer with our van but covid closed the border. Thanks for refreshing my memories!

S
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