Due to some unexpected events, I wasn’t able to finish off the Ghost Towns Blog Series as soon as I would have liked.
This is the final in the Ghost Towns of Central Oregon.
In its prime, the town consisted of a schoolhouse, a store, a train depot, and a cemetery. The town Friend was named after George Friend who had the original post office established on his own homestead in 1903.
Like the nearby ghost towns that we have already visited, the town seemed to only exist because of the railroad. Friend was the end of the line for the Great Southern Railroad, but when a new rail line was built from Dufur to The Dalles, then the little town of Friend all but shut down. The Friend train depot closed in 1928, and Friend has been considered a ghost town since the early 1930’s.
The old Friend Store is located on private property now, but the schoolhouse was open for self-tours. Although there are a few ranches nearby, Friend was probably the ghostiest of the ghost towns that we visited during our Central Oregon Ghost Town Trip.
Now that our central Oregon ghost town tour has come to an end, we will begin working on our summer travel plans. What are you summer camping/travel/RVing plans?
ghost town noun a town that was busy in the past but is now empty or nearly empty because the activities that kept people there have stopped
The town of Kent is located on Highway 97, south of Grass Valley and north of Shaniko. The town site was originally called Guthrie, and a smaller town site, named Kent, was in a nearby canyon. When the Columbia Southern Railway arrived in Guthrie around 1900, the people of Kent moved to the larger town, and the town of Guthrie was renamed Kent. The post office is the only active business in town.
August Scherneckau moved to the area in 1874, after the Civil War. It is said that the town was named after the way that the local Native Americans pronounced Scherneckau’s name. The Shaniko Post Office was opened in 1900, and the town was incorporated the next year.
The town of Shaniko became a transportation hub between the Columbia Southern Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad. Between the years of 1901 and 1911, Shaniko was known as the “wool capital of the world.” The largest building in town was a wool warehouse, which still stands today.
In 1911 the Union Pacific Railroad began using an alternative route to Portland, and Shaniko started losing businesses and population right away. Shaniko was first called a “ghost town” in 1959. According the last census the population is now 36.
If you’re anything like me, you might be wondering where you can find a small, quiet rural town with glorious fall colors and more pot stores per capita than anywhere I have ever been. Well, beautiful people. Look no more. Welcome to Huntington, Oregon, population 436.
Huntington sits 25 miles west of the Idaho border, and is the closest town to Boise that legally sells marijuana. In Oregon it is not illegal to sell to out-of-state patrons, as long as they are of legal age. Going out of their way to make sure they will not be held responsible, the dispensaries in Huntington make out-of-staters sign a waiver stating that they won’t cross state lines with their purchases…luckily, patrons are not under oath when they sign.
In addition to the dispensaries, there are also a few local pot farms within city limits which makes for a lovely crisp, fall aroma.
Huntington is an odd assortment of residents, history, and rugged beauty.
Okay, so if the marijuana isn’t enough to make you want to visit, maybe the herds of deer that wander freely through the town will convince you.
Wildlife is easy to find nearby, like at the Spring Creek Recreation area along the Snake River. Spring Creek Recreation area is BLM land; you can stay for $5.00 a night during the active season, and for free in the off season. There is potable water, and vault toilets but no other amenities. The views are gorgeous, and the small critters are aplenty – including some RV hitchhikers of the little mouse kind.
For those that enjoy a more civilized RVing life, there is the Farewell Bend State Park 4 miles from downtown Huntington (which is also the whole of Huntington) with water and electric hookups.
Farewell Bend is named such because of the Oregon Trail pioneers that followed the Snake River, would pause to rest at the bend before continuing on their trek.
The park is beautiful, well-maintained with helpful rangers. We were there in the off season, so only one loop was open in the campground. So, there may be loops in the campground that have full hookups, but the winter loop does not due to freezing temperatures.
The Huntington area is rich with history, with a modern day twist on their local wares. We loved the 2 weeks we spent there, and will definitely stay in the area again on our way through.
Plus – where else can you see a kid dressed up for Halloween as the Black Panther wearing worn out shitkickers?
The first of the Crooked River Campgrounds is located about 15 miles south of Prineville, OR along the Crooked River Highway. There are between eight and ten BLM campgrounds along the river. All of the campgrounds have bathrooms and garbage service, and a few have drinking water as well. You can stay a total of 14 days on BLM land, but you can switch to different campgrounds during your 14 days.
We chose to stay at Stillwater Campground, and had a whole end of the campground to ourselves for most of our stay. It is ridiculously warm during the summer, but that is what the freezing cold river is for. So, wear a swimsuit with a snowsuit over it.
There is a lot of wildlife in the area. We saw deer, a beaver, ducks, geese, all kinds of birds, and even bunnies! We didn’t get pics of all the critters, but we can’t do everything for you, now can we?
It was a peaceful stay, and with Prineville so close there is access to everything you could need. There are grocery stores, fast food, restaurants, a cool dog park, and an RV Shop that has a Dump Station and a fresh water fill for only $10.00. If you find yourself passing through central Oregon make sure to stop and enjoy the Prineville area!
We prefer to stay in small towns and find the cheapest space rent possible, which is how we ended up in Pahrump, Nevada and Searchlight, Nevada. Pahrump was a bit of a bust, but Searchlight was a nice little town.
We stayed at Cree’s Mobile Home and RV Park for one month. $400 for full hookups and great WiFi. Netflix was a big part of our January.
Searchlight has two casino’s (small rooms with slot machines), a Terrible’s Steakhouse (in one of the casino’s), a McDonald’s (in the other casino/gas station/mini-mart), a laundromat, a post office, and two old motels.
At one point in time Searchlight was looking to be the county seat of Clark County – back when it had a larger population than Las Vegas. The current population of Searchlight is 539 and Las Vegas’ population is 612, 932.
If you want to be able to easily visit Las Vegas or Laughlin but not have to stay there, Searchlight is great middle ground. Las Vegas is 60 miles north, and Laughlin is 40 miles east.
We visited Laughlin often for poker tournaments and groceries. We only drove to Vegas once while staying in Searchlight — for the 2018 Women’s March -COMING SOON!
Oregon’s Silver Falls State Park is located about 45 miles northeast of Salem. The park is enormous with beautiful hiking trails, including the Trail of Ten Falls. The most visited waterfall is the South Falls, which you can hike behind.
A lot of the main trails are off limits to pets, but there are over 35 miles of backcountry trails that you can take your furbabies on.
There is plenty of interpretive displays along the main trails, with history on the area and the park.
There is also a beautiful lodge that has a cafe and WiFi.
We will be visiting Silver Falls State Park again as there was too much to see in one trip…and we were too lazy to hike the Trail of Ten Falls this time and I am disappointed with us.
Detroit Lake State Park is another 50 miles east of Silver Falls. The lake is huge and is a very popular place in the spring and summer. Plenty of lake for watersports and fishing.
The small town of Detroit is nearby and is the self-proclaimed “motor boat city.” The “motor boat city” has a few small markets, and a few small restaurants and bars. There is also a dog park, which is a small 6’ x 8’ area with a broken fence, but the dogs were happy taking a tinkle there.
We found the only WiFi in the town at The Cedars Restaurant and Lounge. We ate buffalo chips, and lounged so much in the lounge that we were still lounging the next day until about noon.
What I have discovered over the past week and a half is that fall along Highway 22 is quite brief, as this would have been the drive just a few days later.
Cottonwood Canyon near Wasco, OR is Oregon’s newest state park. All sites are primitive, but there are vault toilets and potable water in the park.
The campground sits right on the John Day River, so we had access to swimming and fishing. The fishing was great there, everyone around us was catching a lot…not us, but everyone around us.
Cottonwood Canyon is meant to give you the feel of the ranching days of the past. There is a barn, cattle shoots, corals, old farming equipment, water troughs, and more.
Pay attention to the fencing around the campground, as it tells a story worth paying attention to.
The information station is great with a solar charging station for your cell phone that you won’t have a signal on. There are also rocking chairs, and an outdoor wooden checker game. Feel free to ring the dinner bell, too.
The night sky is framed by the canyon hills and is a beautiful sight to see.
Cottonwood Canyon also has free mountain bikes for camper use. There are multiple trails to ride on, including a path right beside the river that takes you past some pretty fascinating geological sights. Due to a chubby butt and a bum knee, I did not partake in the bicycling, but the hubs did and he wrote a blog for you about it, which is coming up next!
Late on a Tuesday we decided our laundry needed to be done. Where does one do laundry late on a Tuesday? A 24-hour laundromat? Nah. They don’t have those in Coos County, Oregon.
What about a bar that stays open until midnight AND you can do laundry there? Hell yes! Tiny’s Tavern has been open forever in Oregon’s Bay Area. Tiny’s has WiFi – and a small laundromat in the back of the bar. If this is not the perfect stop for RV Living, then I really can’t imagine what could be.
I was welcomed to the bar by a drunk pool player impressed with my Jurassic Park T-shirt…closet nerds really can’t control themselves while drinking.
We got our laundry quarters at the bar, along with our Bud Lights. Seriously, are you not as ecstatic about this as I am?
I am sure that there is more than one place in the United States with the amazing collaboration of beer and laundry – but it is nice to come home and remember the amazing things that Home has to offer!
There are a lot of similarities between living in a sticks n’ bricks and living in an RV full time. Meals are pretty much the same. Sleeping is the pretty much the same. Walking the dogs is the same. You know what is different? You are spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with your partner while living in a Costco sized tin can.
If you don’t like your significant other, then this is probably not the life for you. For the most part Mr. Write on the Road and I like each other…almost all the time. And when we don’t, we take a walk, play with the dogs, or read a book and pretend the other one doesn’t exist until we do like each other again…actually, that is probably sound advice no matter how or where you live.
We have discussed and came up with 5 important tips for traveling together and decided to share our wisdom (*cough bullshit cough*) with you.
Don’t run out of things to do. Whatever your hobbies are – keep them. I am an avid reader, and if I run out of books I get cranky. If he runs out of laptop battery power, he gets cranky. We have our individual things to occupy ourselves like reading, writing, walking, rock climbing, photography, etc. If you get restless go do something together that you don’t get to do every day – go to the movies, go visit a local museum, get dressed up and have a date night. Just do something to cure your restlessness so you don’t get cranky with each other.
While not letting yourselves get too restless is a great idea, it’s an even better idea to remember to take your time. This is your life now; no more rushing, no more time limits, no more alarm clocks. Take a deep breath, and take your time.
Arguments are going to happen – silly little fights over whose turn it is to do the dishes and whatnot. The only difference in living in an RV and arguing and living in a sticks n’ bricks and arguing is the fact that your neighbors can hear you better. RV’s aren’t insulated well, and your campground neighbors can hear how petty and silly you are when you fight. So at least do your best to entertain them.
Never stop saying I love you. You’re going to be spending almost all of your time together, but don’t get so stuck in your RVing routine that you start taking advantage of each other. This is your travel partner, your best friend, and lover – treat them as such.
When things get stressful (traffic, noisy neighbors, bears chasing you, etc) don’t start playing the blame game. You’re in this together, stick together and you can through anything – well, I’m not sure about the bear scenario….
Bonus Tip: Try not to eat gassy foods. This is my recommendation, not his. Mostly I am hoping he will read this and adjust his farting habits.
How’s the weather, you ask? (Or you didn’t, but I feel like talking about it anyway.)
Joshua Tree National Park consists of two deserts; the Mojave and the Colorado. To be considered a desert the land must receive less that 9.75 inches of rain per year….which means that our part of the Joshua Tree National Park is no longer a desert because Noah drifted by the other day insisting that the rainfall so far this year had been of biblical proportions.
We arrived at Joshua Tree National Park on the 3rd of January and were told then that it would be at least a week or two before tours of the ranch started back up due to the roads and washes being too full of water from the previous few days’ rain. It is now that 28th of January and we are still being told it will be a few weeks before the tours start back up because the roads and washes are still flooded. Keys Ranch, where we are caretaking, has a dam that was hand built by Bill Keys. The dam has been nearly dry for years, but it is certainly not dry this year.
Over the past four weeks we have had rain, wind, snow, wind, ice, wind, sunshine, and wind. Not even Dorothy and Toto would appreciate the wind here, which makes me think that I should have brought my own ruby slippers just in case. So far the trailer has stood up to the wind just fine and nothing has broken. We have had to chase our outside table and chairs down a few times, but never too far.
Although I knew that the desert could get rather cold. Even though we were warned by our boss here as he gave us warm volunteer coats, I still didn’t fully understand. Until I saw the Tauntauns grazing on the desert shrubs, while the Frost Giants had a picnic.
So, we are surviving here in our little corner of the desert, and we are being told that all of this rain should make for some beautiful spring flowers and we are looking forward to that.
Honestly though, what I can’t wait for is to be bitching about how hot it is!
Want to know more about weather, rainfall, desert conditions? Here are some links…
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