By Ken Levy
27 days (June 22-July 18, 2015)
More than 2,000 miles logged
In search of: Hidden spaces and destinations
Photo above: A rainbow trout leaps for dinner as a large hatch of flies hovers just over the surface of the pond at Trout Farm Campground, Ore. Fishing folks on the other side of the pond bemoaned the lack of bites. At right, a bald eagle carries a fresh fish dinner to its nest near White Salmon, Washington on the Columbia River.
Introduction: We found some of those hidden treasures, even dragging a 15′ travel trailer behind our Silverado. Leaving Boise June 22, we took the road less traveled, toward Prairie City and Prineville en route to the Hood River Valley at White Salmon, Wa. and thence to the Columbia River Gorge. From there to Portland for the Waterfront Blues Festival for three nights, and then, magnificently, the Oregon coast, from Tillamook down to Florence en route to the McKenzie River and back.
After breakfast at the Pancake House, picking up the trailer at Nelson’s, and getting fuel at Fred Meyer on Chinden we left town at 12:05. Near Nyssa, fields boasted potatoes, onions, wheat and corn, and there’s a big Amalgamated Sugar plant in Nyssa. (Do they grow artichokes in this area?)
The view as we continued was primarily agricultural and pastoral as we headed northwest along Highway 26. There were several places that offered photogenic opportunities but, alas, would have required disconnecting the trailer to have parking and access to photograph.
At Unity, OR, we bought gas at Burnt River Market ($3.49 per gal., the highest price of the whole trip) The cashier, an older lady said the town did not fit its name. Ken took pix of old trucks and I bought Vodka at $5 off but, as I posted to my checkbook I saw that they had charged the regular price. Ken took the receipt in and got the $5 back. Took a side trip to a state park outside of town. Close to the highway and a nice park, but not spectacular. We moved on and found Trout Farm Campground outside of Prairie City, OR.
Nothing evokes an intimate relationship with nature more than the sweet, fresh fragrance of moist, green earth.
Hiking to a little creek just below our campsite, our noses were filled with the scent of that earthy freshness. Nestled in a beautiful mixed-conifer forest, the campground is one of several tiny camping facilities that pepper the Malheur National Forest outside Prairie City.
But this one is an absolute gem. Besides the sweet babbling brook in our backyard, the campground features a tiny fishing pond stocked with trout by the US Forest Service. A few locals come up for the day to catch pan-sized brook and other trout, but on this day we were one of just three overnighters in the 6-site campground.
A rustic trail takes walkers around the tiny pond. Fish jump and splash in the water, while robins and other birds serenade visitors. Western tanagers flit around on the shoreline vegetation, adding splashes of brilliant color to the scene. The air is fresh and clean and, except for the sound of the brook, is virtually free of noise.
Two of the campsites back up nearly to the creek, which runs several yards behind and below them. The others are nestled in closer to the pond. The sites are huge, with ample room to back in travel trailers and fifth wheels. Tables can sit up to 10 people, and there are big fire pits with grills for cooking.
There are also several picnic tables set up in the day-use areas and a large, covered group shelter with several barbecue grills available.
This was a perfect start to our trip, with a great campground in a shady, rustic setting, a creek nearby and the little pond. It’s a very peaceful and beautiful place, and the bonus was the price: $8 for two nights. That’s half off, thanks to our senior passes to the national forests.
Much more to come…