A Grand Time on Wallowa Lake!
September 9, 2011 – September 17, 2011
Sept 9, Friday, Day 1, Home to Klamath Falls, OR via I-5, US97: 353 miles
The inspiration for our trip to Wallowa State Park was this 9.7 lb. world record kokanee taken there in June of 2010:
World Record Kokanee from Wallowa Lake
Credit: The Spokesman-Review
My old high school buddy, Al, in Prineville, OR and I decided that we’d fish little known Wallowa Lake in NE Oregon. Wallowa is a natural, glacier-made lake that gave up the world’s record Kokanee of 9.7 pounds in June of last year. This adventure would not only be the fishing trip of the year for both of us, but could potentially be the fishing trip of a lifetime! We wouldn’t likely catch a world record fish, but we might catch some late season kokanee, bright red for the spawn – and maybe over 20 inches long! We would likely fish for trout as well, and even lake trout. The plan was to fish for four full days; we’d arrive at Wallowa State Park on Sunday, fish Monday through Thursday, and return to Al’s on Friday.
Al and I pose with the coach and FishWisher at the lake’s launch ramp.
I left home with the boat in tow behind the coach. If I do say so myself, the rig makes quite a sight! I towed the old C-Dory behind the coach several times, and this would be the first with the new boat. I took several days preparing for the trip, completed several projects on the coach and the boat, cleaned them both inside and out, packed up the fishing gear and stowed my usual stuff for a road trip. The big day finally arrived. I bid my dear Wifey farewell and hit the road.
I drove to Lodi’s Flying J Travel Plaza and met my cousin, Harris, from Sacramento for breakfast. We meet there occasionally as it’s a good half-way point for us. We enjoyed a good breakfast and caught up on each other’s doings. After an hour I hit the road again, and continued north on I-5 under a hot September sun.
Construction along US97 in Kalifornistan: Amazing! There are some road repairs finally under way in this Third World Country!
What a first day of driving it was! Towing the boat was tough enough on mileage, and add to that a headwind of up to 25 MPH much of the way with temperatures to 108° through the north valley areas such as Red Bluff and Redding. Then the long pull through the mountains demanded even more gas. I burned almost ¾ of a tank of gas in just 350 miles or so – or less than 7 MPG. The big fishing adventure would be a gas guzzling adventure for sure, and gas was selling for around $3.80 per gallon! I had the coach loaded pretty heavy as well as having the boat in tow, so I took it very easy to keep the tires from overheating and doing all I could to lighten the demands on my faithful coach.
Despite the long, hot haul, I arrived at the Walmart lot in Klamath Falls, OR at 1800 in the evening. After setting up for the night, including the air conditioner running full blast to cool the coach, I took a walk around the shopping center. It was much more pleasant in K-Falls than Redding, and I guessed the temperature to be about 90°.
I did a bit of shopping there, and then headed to the coach for the night. I enjoyed a couple of cool Tom Collins drinks to clear the dust from my throat, had a frozen dinner fresh from the microwave, took a good shower, and hit the sack about 2200. Although the coach had a long, hot, hard pull all day, I enjoyed the drive. I looked forward to Day 2 when I planned to stop in La Pine, OR to meet my sis and her hubby for breakfast as I passed through en route to Al’s place. Yep – this was the fishing trip of the year and I was already having a great time!
Saturday, Day 2, Klamath Falls to Hermiston, OR via US97, SR126, OR26, I-84: 368 miles
I was up and at ‘em before 0500 and started the day by firing up the little Honda generator to make coffee. I edited the few photos of the trip I’d taken so far, and began this travelogue. After morning chores and a walk, I headed northbound on US97 toward to my sis’s home in La Pine.
I visited family in La Pine, Oregon en route to Al’s in Prineville. That’s my twin sister and I in the middle standing. Her husband John, daughter and son-in-law Jill and Craig, and grandson Preston surround us.
We met at Gordy’s Truck Stop in La Pine where there was plenty of parking for the long coach and boat rig. I was pleased that almost the whole family met me there including Gale, John, Jill, Craig and Preston. I gassed up just before we sat down for breakfast, parting with $258 to fill the coach. I explained that someone would have to buy my breakfast because I had just blown all my money on gas. John took pity and paid my tab.
After breakfast and a very nice visit with the family, I continued north on US97 toward Bend, then on to Prineville. I pulled up to Al’s home to find him all ready to hop aboard for our fishing trip of the year. After stowing his stuff, including his famous peach cobbler which I cannot resist, we headed for Hermiston.
The little town of Prineville, Oregon stretches out below as I descend into the valley. I can never resist taking this photo of Prineville from above.
The Columbia River Gorge on a calm, gorgeous day.
The John Day Dam on the Columbia River.
We drove US97 north to I-84 which runs along the Columbia River Gorge. It was a beautiful drive as the photos show, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. When we arrived at Hermiston, we stopped to visit Al’s sister, June. She was battling cancer at the time of our visit, taking chemo treatment. Our visit was brief as Al did not want to tire her, but their visit was warm and comforting for June. After our visit we drove a couple of miles to the Hermiston Walmart store and dropped the jacks for the night. It was still hot, well into the 80s, when we parked and I ran the big generator and air conditioner all evening. We walked over to the Subway Shop in the Walmart store for a couple of sandwiches for dinner. By 2230 we called it a day and I hit the sack. Al rolled out his sleeping bag on the fold-out couch for the night, and our day was done.
It had been a long day; I had three destinations including my sis Gale’s for breakfast, picking up Al in Prineville, and landing for the night in Hermiston. And I enjoyed every minute of it. Life is good.
Sunday, Day 3, Hermiston, OR to Wallowa State Park via I-84, SR82: 157 miles
Sunrise in Hermiston, Oregon with jacks down at the local Walmart.
Our check-in time at the lake was 1600, so we were in no hurry to get on the road. I slept in ‘til almost 0600 which is pretty late for me. I tended to the usual chores, making coffee for Al and I; he got the real stuff and I made decaf, as usual, for me. This day was the 10th anniversary of 9-11, so we watched tributes to the memory of those who died in that terrible attack. Ironically, Al and I were on my old C-Dory fishing Odell Lake when the attacks on 9-11 took place. We first heard of the terror that day when I made a phone call to my Wifey, Lavonne, from the boat as we trolled for kokanee. She told me that some things were damaged in New York City, but knew nothing else at the time. We had no idea of the horror that actually took place that day ‘til we had dinner in town and watched the infamous videos of the attacks on the Trade Center. Al and I will always remember that day, and not because of the fishing. And again, ten years to the day of the attacks, we were together on a fishing trip.
After a walk around the shopping center, we continued our drive to Wallowa Lake a bit after 1000, continuing east on I-84. The day warmed quickly, and we ran the dash air conditioner the entire trip. The Oregon countryside was overcast by smoke from wild fires that burned Oregon grasslands, and the haze was everywhere. I learned that wheat was a big crop in this part of Oregon, and we saw wheat fields all along the day’s drive. It seemed all the fields had been harvested, and one grain elevator we drove by was so full of wheat that a huge pile of it sat on the ground. It must have been a good year.
We watched a 9-11 memorial on the coach satellite TV as we whiled away some time in Hermiston. We had time to dawdle as check in time at the lake was 1600.
We arrived at Wallowa State Park about 1430. We waited in line awhile to register, but the staff was very friendly and helpful once we signed in. We parked near the marina area, and began moving the fishing gear from the coach storage areas to the boat. It was then that I realized that I had forgotten to gas up the boat!
We had just gassed up the coach in La Grande, and the boat never crossed my mind. I sure miss my memory! Even though I had about 10 or 15 gallons aboard, I didn’t want to worry about burning up all the gas over the four days of fishing we planned. It was about this time that a deputy sheriff, having just retrieved his patrol boat from the lake, pulled over to talk to us. He informed us that, for my out-of-state boat, we needed an Oregon “Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Permit” for the boat. There was no inspection of the boat for the feared “invasive species”, so it was clearly just a tax on boaters. We were able to obtain the permit from the marina for $22. Al coughed up the fee for us, and we were on our way.
The drive along Wallowa Lake between Joseph and Wallowa State Park. We learned it well that first day due to my lousy memory!
Before we could launch the boat, we had to drive the seven miles or so back to Joseph for gas. We found a small Chevron station there, and I bought 15 gallons at $4 per. We were soon back at the park and finished loading the tackle onto the boat. The ramp was not something to write home about; it was fairly primitive, and the dock was pretty small. Nevertheless, we got the boat launched and docked at our assigned space nearby. Our dock for the four days didn’t have a single cleat, and I had to tie the boat to the dock’s 4X4s which ran its length. What a dumb arrangement.
FishWisher the boat at the Wallowa dock awaiting her first call to chase those Wallowa trout!
After the boat was docked, we parked the boat trailer in the marina lot, chained one wheel to the frame to thwart any local thieves, and then headed to our assigned space in the RV lot. I had hoped for cable TV, and maybe WiFi to access the internet. But no, there was neither. Still, the RV park was unusually beautiful with huge conifer trees everywhere, and broad expansive lawns throughout. Wallowa State Park is a lovely place despite the shortcomings of the launch ramp and having no WiFi, etc.
Our beautiful space at Wallowa State Park; note the deer behind the coach!
Close up of the deer who showed up for dinner after we settled in. The deer were plentiful and afraid of nothing. They were lucky we weren’t deer hunters!
After backing into the space, I hooked up the water, electric and sewer. The space was a level asphalt slab and well maintained. After I dropped the jacks and pushed out the slide, we were at home for the next several days. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the satellite TV picked up the satellite immediately despite all the trees. We were very fortunate that we’d have TV to keep us entertained. Even though the TV worked fine, we could not pick up the XM satellite among the tall pines. Out on the lake, the XM worked just fine aboard the boat.
Al and I spent the evening in the coach, had microwaved frozen dinners, and we hit the sack before 2100. It had been a long day and we were pooped.
Monday, Day 4, fishing Wallowa Lake!
I was up, as usual, a bit after 0400, to Al’s chagrin., as he slept on the couch. As we discussed earlier, I suggested he go on back to the bedroom and sleep awhile longer while I got started for the day. He readily headed back to the bedroom and I started my coffee, turned on the TV and settled in to edit photos and update this travelogue.
Al awoke and joined me after a while, and soon we were having coffee together as our day began. After daylight we gathered our things together and headed to the dock. It’s a long walk to the boat from the coach and we lugged two ice chests and other stuff with us. Next visit we’ll need to have a car, I reckon. We’re both too old to be pack mules.
Trolling beautiful Wallowa Lake with downriggers. Most of our fishing was 10′ to 20′ deep and near the shore for trout. We tried briefly for lake trout and kokanee out in the lake, and very deep, but couldn’t entice any action from them.
By the time we boarded the boat, headed out onto the lake and actually had the downriggers in place and the lines in the water it was about 0830. Our first try was for kokanee, but it was a brief effort. We trolled the deeper part of the lake down to 85 feet in well over 100 feet of water, but it was futile. We’d been told more than once that the kokanee were up the river spawning, and that none had been caught in quite a long while. All we knew to do was to try what the brochure recommended for trout, and that was to troll near the shore in water up to 30’ deep. By 1030 we had caught and released two small trout less than 12 inches on small chrome Flatfish, and were pleased that at the very least we would not be skunked the first day. We were at the dock again by 1100 and walked to the coach for some lunch. We didn’t have to think about taking walks during the days at Wallowa; the treks to and from the boat were plenty of exercise.
One of the first two trout we caught; our technique and their size would improve!
We took a long lunch break and were back on the water about 1300. Late in the afternoon, at the far north end of the lake, I marked some large fish on the sonar, and we targeted them with small, trout pattern broken-back Rapalas. I coated the lures with some stinkum, and attached a small piece of night crawler to the front hook. We set the down riggers at 35’ and 45’ as we trolled. Soon a good hit slammed the rig and we had a decent fish on! I reeled him in as Al grabbed the net, and we had a beautiful 16 inch, 1½ pound trout in the box!
I reset the downrigger, and we trolled the same general area again and very soon another big hit took the Rapala! Al grabbed the rod and fought a bigger fish to the boat, and when landed measured 19 inches and weighed in at 2¾ pounds! We were a couple of mighty pleased fishermen.
My 16 inch trout and Al’s 19 incher. Things improved as we kept at it that first day!
We trolled a couple more passes over the same general area, but couldn’t entice another strike. We continued trolling for more trout, but none were interested in our offerings. At 1700 we decided we’d had enough fishing for one day. We reeled in, stowed all the gear and headed to the dock.
After Al cleaned the fish, we put ‘em in the freezer and spent the evening in the coach, watching TV and resting from our big day. I am beginning to think that trolling is a lot of effort for an old man. The constant tending to the gear, the lines, the lures, setting the course, dodging shallows and all the rest can be a lot like work! While I enjoy trolling as much as ever, I am realizing that just plain ol’ bait fishing at anchor is a whole lot more restful. With sturgeon fishing coming soon, I am looking forward to just sitting and waiting for the fish to come to me!
After dinner and some TV, Al and I called it a day and headed for our beds by 2100. Day 5 would be another big day of fishing and we were looking forward to more excitement!
Tuesday, Day 5, more Wallowa Lake fishing.
I was up before daylight yet again and prodded poor ol’ Al back to the bedroom from his berth on the couch. I wish I could sleep in some mornings, but it just isn’t going to happen, I guess. Fortunately, Al is a patient and tolerant fellow, and he puts up with my early hours pretty well. After morning chores and breakfast in the coach, we headed to the dock and boarded FishWisher for another day of fishing on beautiful Wallowa Lake.
By 0900 we were again trolling broken-back Rapalas through the lake. We had a slow start, and the thoughts I’d mulled over earlier that morning began to haunt me: Could we have a good day of fishing two days in a row? After Al caught his personal best trout on the first day, could the second be as exciting? For two hours we trolled for trout, trolled deeper for the unlikely mackinaw (lake trout), and even jigged for whatever it was we marked halfway down in the deepest part of the lake which was over 260 feet. But we enticed nothing. I was bored. Al was sleepy. It was a slow day.
A flock of coots vacationing on Wallowa Lake. I can’t blame ’em!
Things were so slow that we decided to try jigging near the mouth of the river inlet. We marked several fish there, and two or three other boats were working the area. We jigged small kokanee jigs for awhile and all we could manage was one small – very small – rainbow trout that we released. We decided to go back to trolling the hot spot of the day before which wasn’t so hot earlier this day. What did we have to lose? It was nearly noon when we began the troll along the west shore of the small lake, working our way back to the northwest corner where Al had caught the big fish of the day before.
One of several beautiful vacation homes along the shore of Wallowa Lake.
We stayed faithful to the cause despite the lack of action, and it was about 1300 when things began to pop. The afternoon bite began with a rare double; Al was reeling in one fish when I discovered another on the other downrigger. His weighed in at 1½ pounds and 16 inches. Al’s big trout went into the box. The one I reeled in was another dink, and was released. Finally, our persistence was paying off.
Al’s 2½ pound beauty – the day’s fishing had improved a lot!
We continued to work the same area of the lake. A half an hour later, as Al steered the boat and I manned the downriggers, another fish took our offering of a chrome Flatfish. “Fish on!” I shouted. Al grabbed the rod and fought a substantial fish toward the boat. After it tired and we got it in the boat, we weighed it in at 3 pounds and 19 inches! Another personal best for Al, and the second in two days!
We continued the troll, the chrome Flatfish on one line, a trout pattern broken-back Rapala on the other. Just half an hour later we had another fish on, and I reeled in another dinky 12 incher that we released. Within another hour, a bit before 1400, another big hit took the chrome Flatfish and I again shouted to Al, who was at the helm, to grab the rod! After a gallant effort, yet another big trout was in the net. We weighed him in at 2¾ pounds and 17 inches. Al was on a roll!
Al’s 7½ lb. stringer of Wallowa trout – a record day for Al!
It was 14:30 when I reeled in the last fish of the day – another small trout of about 12 inches that we released. After that final fish, we’d had it for the day. I reeled in the lines and stowed the gear as Al steered the boat. When the downriggers, etc., were stowed, I cranked up the big motor and we headed for the dock. It had been a memorable day for both of us!
We decided earlier in the day that we’d have dinner at the one small cafe in the park. After Al cleaned his fish and we’d taken our showers, we headed out for dinner. As we walked we crossed the little Wallowa River that flows into the lake. It was there that we found the kokanee! It was a sight we’d never seen before – the bright red kokanee were stacked up in the river by the dozens, and perhaps the thousands if we could have see them all. It was an unforgettable sight to see their bright red bodies in the shallow, fast moving water during their spawn. I intended to visit the river again during our stay and to get some photos of those incredible fish.
Eventually, Al and I found the kokanee, alright, but they were in full spawn mode in Wallowa River, more accurately a creek. We discovered that not a single kokanee had been caught in weeks; they were busy doing their reproduction thing! Note the bright red colors. This taken from the little bridge at the entrance to the lake, just a short walk from the coach.
Another photo of a brilliant red kokanee in the Wallowa River, just above the lake. We crossed the river on a small bridge between the park entrance and our coach. These kokanee attracted a lot of attention.
We arrived at the little cafe only to find it closed – on Tuesdays. We had taken a good long walk, at the very least, and would have to settle for microwaved frozen dinners once again. But neither of us complained much – we were enjoying a fishing trip that we would never forget!
Wednesday, Day 6, a day off the lake to be tourists …
Al and I had been talking about going into the nearby town of Joseph, Oregon just to look the place over. Joseph a very artsy place with bronze statues on the main street corners and well known bronze foundries producing exquisite pieces. I discovered a bus schedule sign during one of our walks in the park, so at 0915 we walked over to the beach area parking lot and caught the bus into town. En route, the bus stopped at the nearby Wallowa Lake Tramway. The tram runs up to the 8150 foot summit of Mt. Howard. We’d also talked about riding the tram, and agreed that we take the ride after our tour of Joseph.
The beautiful and artsy town of Joseph, Oregon, just seven miles from the end of the road that is Wallowa State Park and Wallowa Lake.
The street corners of Joseph come alive with life size, and perhaps larger, bronze sculptures. They are produced in Joseph and add a wonderful element of life to the little town. Small restaurants, gift shops and other interesting places to part with one’s money line the three or four blocks of the downtown area. Al and I had breakfast at one small restaurant and were surprised at the modest prices and unique menu items. After breakfast we walked the area and especially enjoyed the bronze pieces offered at one of the local bronze foundries.
A bronze lady stands at one corner in Joseph. There were incredible bronze pieces on each corner in the downtown area.
Another bronze piece adorns the downtown area.
After our brief visit to Joseph, we met the bus again and returned to the tram. For the senior rate of $23 each, we climbed aboard one of the small tram cars and were whisked upward toward the summit. The higher we went, the more exhilarating the view became. We had an eagle’s eye view of the entire lake we had been fishing. At the top, Al took a short hike while I relaxed around the Summit Grill patio, taking in the sights from a table. When Al returned from his hike, and after enjoying a sandwich from the grill, we climbed aboard another tram car and headed down the mountain.
Wallowa Lake from the tram as we ascended the mountain to 8150 ft. Incredible views abounded from the tram ride!
A car leaves the top of the tram en route to the bottom near Wallowa State Park.
After walking back to the coach, we kicked back to rest from the busy morning. I took a nap after all the walking. Fishing would get a holiday as we just took it easy for the afternoon. About 1700 we walked once again to the little restaurant at the entrance to the park, and found it open. We both ordered fish and chips and enjoyed the ambiance of the little pine-walled restaurant/general store establishment.
Day 6 was an enjoyable day off, and I’m glad we chose to do something different. Even so, we were looking forward to our last full day in the park, and maybe catching that 3rd record trout for Al!
Thursday, Day 7, another great day of fishing Wallowa Lake.
The weather changed quite dramatically on our last full day at Wallowa Lake. It rained lightly on and off during the morning, and a breeze blew much of the day. Al and I took our time getting through the morning chores and getting ready to go fishing. By the time we got out the door to head for the dock, the rain had stopped although the sky was cloudy and threatening.
As we approached the boat on our third day of fishing, this big buck was grazing on the twigs of a tree. He chose to ignore us completely – but we were quite surprised by such a sight right at the dock.
We streaked across Wallowa Lake on the rainy morning of Day 7, headed out for more trout!
We began the troll a bit before 0900, and while it was breezy with an occasional shower, we continued fishing ‘til noon. By that time the wind had increased to the point that is just wasn’t much fun fighting it. We were one of just two boats on the lake, and we kept at it longer than the other fishing fools. During our morning excursion, we managed to catch three small trout and, for a change, we kept the little ones.
Our morning catch lay in state in the ice chest.
After we tied up at the dock, Al took our bounty over to a senior couple who were fishing from shore at the launch ramp. They were very pleased to take our fish as they hadn’t had any luck.
Al and I returned to the coach and waited to see if the weather might improve. Al headed to the showers in the campground facility and I headed to the bedroom for a nap. We took it easy ‘til almost 1500, then headed to the dock to decide whether we’d go fishing again, or bring our belongings from the boat to the coach and call it quits. It turned out that the wind had decreased substantially and there was even a bit of sunshine peeking through the clouds.
We decided to head out on the lake for another try at a four pound trout which I had told Al we would catch on that last day. Surely there was a big four pounder out there somewhere for us because the three pounders suggested that there were bigger trout. By 1515 we were again on the troll.
Within ten minutes, we had a small trout on, and Al reeled it in. We released it as it was too small to bother cleaning. In another ten minutes something big took the chrome Flatfish, which we had on both lines, and it was my turn! I grabbed the rod and hollered to Al, “fish on!”
Al turned the boat to fight the fish, and I knew I had a big fish on! For several minutes I reeled in, as the line was 150 feet behind the boat when he took the lure. He had the substance to give me a good fight all the way to the boat. Eventually he came to the boat exhausted and Al scooped him into the net. We both were ecstatic at the size of our prey, and when I weighed him in he was exactly four pounds! We measured him at 22 inches! I was amazed at his size, and mostly I was gratified that my prediction was fulfilled!
My big four pounder! Good going, Al, you remembered that the captain gets the biggest fish!
We continued our troll and in half an hour another big hit took the chrome Flatfish! Al grabbed the rod and was immediately fighting another big fish. In due time he had his fish to the boat, and I scooped him into the net. We brought him aboard and weighed him in at two pounds. What a beauty!
Al’s two pounder arrived at the dock for its photo. What a day of fishing!
Our afternoon catch – these beauties were NOT given away!
We continued fishing and 40 minutes later reeled in another small trout. We released it to grow a bit bigger.
By 1700 the wind had increased, and trolling was not much fun. We reeled in and called it a day. And what a day it was! This trip was everything we hoped it would be, even though we caught no kokanee and no lake trout. We would not forget this first trip to Wallowa Lake, and hopefully there would be more!
We tied up to the dock and headed to the coach for the night. What a grand time we had at Wallowa Lake!
Friday, Day 7, Wallowa State Park to Al’s in Prineville via SR 82, I-84, US97: 346 miles
Having experienced one of the best fishing trips either of us has ever had, Al and I awoke early to head for home. We had to “break camp” which is hardly the term for “camping” aboard a Class A motor home. I simply pressed buttons to bring in the sliding room and retract the jacks. I also dumped the tanks, and then Al and I headed to the ramp area to hook up the trailer and retrieve the boat. For the second time in two consecutive launches, I fell off the trailer tongue as I cranked the boat onto the trailer. I have to get a platform attached to the tongue if I intend to stay dry!
We loaded the boat on the trailer and it was time to head for home. Wallowa Lake was a fishing adventure we’ll never forget!
After moving all the tackle, etc., from the boat back to the coach and checking that everything was ready to roll, we headed out of the park and began the long trek to Al’s place in Prineville. We stopped for breakfast along the way, but otherwise kept a pretty steady pace. It was a long, tough haul due to head winds much of the way. The Columbia Gorge was especially windy, and the seemingly endless climbing didn’t make it any easier. It was amazing how much gas we burned that day. We left with nearly a full tank, but still gassed up before arriving at Al’s house. Usually I can get nearly 600 miles to a tank, but not with strong head winds and FishWisher the boat in tow.
Al kicked back in the coach as we headed for home. Hey ol’ buddy, we’ll have to do this again!
When we finally arrived at Al’s place, we unloaded his gear, and then headed to the local Chinese restaurant for a long anticipated Chinese pig-out. I thoroughly enjoyed the feast, and Al did, too. After dinner we drove back to Al’s place where we bid our farewells, and I headed to the coach for the night. Al had planned a trip the next day, and I’d be heading home, – likely before Al would begin his trip. We had enjoyed a wonderful six-day fishing adventure that we’ll never forget!
I had two more days of travel to get home, and I looked forward to the drive. I love driving my coach, and the next two days would doubtless be more adventure to add to the already memorable trip.
Saturday, Day 8, September 17, 2011: Al’s in Prineville to home via US97, I-5: 517 miles
I was wrong; I had but one more day of driving. I awoke about 0430 aboard the coach at Al’s place, and was motoring through town toward the highway by 0500. To avoid waking his neighbors, I drove to the lonely overlook above Prineville to fire up the generator and make coffee. I drove the dark highways through the high desert that is the Prineville area, finally driving onto the main highway, US97 at Bend.
As I drove through the darkness of early morning, I realized I’d be arriving at my planned destination, the Anderson, CA Walmart store, before noon. I decided then that I’d just drive on home in one day. It would be over 500 miles, but it wouldn’t be the first time I drove that far – and more – in one day.
I stopped at a McDonald’s in La Pine, OR and grabbed a couple of breakfast sandwiches to gobble down as I continued the drive. I took the time while there to tend my bug collection which had grown so large I could hardly see through the massive windshields. What a difference a little scrubbing can make!
Parked for a moment along US97 near Klamath Lake en route home.
At a rest area somewhere along I-5 in California I made lunch aboard the coach and continued the long drive. I pulled up to our home at 1645. I was mighty road-weary, but still had to unload the coach. I left what was in the holds in the “basement” for the next day, and also put off dumping the tanks, etc., ‘til later, too. I backed FishWisher the boat into her covered slot in the RV lot, and then backed the coach into her slot. It was good to be home!
Our great Wallowa fishing adventure was a huge success! We enjoyed the great fishing Wallowa afforded us, as well as the “day off” when we visited the artsy town of Joseph and rode the Wallowa Lake Tramway. The long drive of over 1800 miles was uneventful, just as I like. Al and I had a great time together, and look forward to another day when we can fish together.
Life is good!