Motoring Across America

With James "Alex" Alexander

with James "Alex" Alexander


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Blog 290: Last Dollar and Red Mountain

Priest Gulch to Ouray KOA

From our Priest Gulch campground, we headed north on 145 through Rico and upon reaching Placerville we headed east on 62 to Ridgway and then south on 550 to our Ouray KOA just north of Ouray. Curvy and steep, but another beautiful drive.

This is another very nice campground in an even nicer location. Ouray is a classy old mining town with a lot of tourist appeal, and just seven miles away is the old cowboy town of Ridgway. Scores of trails to hike and forest roads to explore.

Red Mountain Road Trip
We headed south on Highway 550 (The Million Dollar Highway), and then turned south onto Red Mountain Road, another beautiful scenic byway. As we climbed higher and higher on this hairpin-loving road, the spring flowers appeared, providing a palette of color on the mountainside. Close to the top we had to pull over as a rushing stream cut the road in two.

Trail Blazing

Red Mountain Rushing

Here is a view from the mountain.

View from Red Mountain

Last Dollar Road Trip

Lost Dollar Day Trip

We took another fun road trip on the Last Dollar Road to Telluride. There was a hard rain the night before, so we were going through “puddles,” with some large enough to dunk a Holstein (well, it seemed that way when we drove through them). Wonderful time!

Cows and Mountain

Last Dollar Road Aspens

Last Dollar Road Vista

Ouray from Trail Head

Old Trucks
Here is an old Ridgway fire truck and an old rescue truck from Ouray.

Old Ridgway Fire Truck

Old Rescue Truck

See you next time!

Blog 242: Hangin’ in the Hood (Mt. Hood, That Is)

Baker City to Government Camp

We crossed from Baker City east on 26 from the mountains and fossil-filled hills of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument to the prairies of central Oregon, stopping for a short while at Bend, and then north and west to Government Camp in the Mt. Hood neighborhood. The mornings were in the 30s, climbing up to the pleasant mid- to high 60s during the day. This was a great time to be in this area, as it is the lull between summer vacations and winter snow trips.

Mt. Hood
Everywhere you look, the icon of Mt. Hood overlooks. Here are three shots of the Big Guy (the reflection was taken at Trillium Lake).

Mt. Hood

Mt. Hood Reflection

Colored Leaves at Mt. Hood

Over several days we had the chance to hike Little Zigzag Falls Trail, Trillium Lake Loop Trail, Mirror Lake Trail, Salmon Bridle Trail, and the Old Salmon River Trail. Around lakes, up to waterfalls, paralleling streams, through woods--great scenery.

Fruit Loop
This part of the world is the home of many orchards and vineyards. We made the loop heading east, north, west, and back south, stopping at the Wy’East Vineyard for a little tasting.

Sisters Garden RV Resort

Government Camp to Sister's Garden RV Resort

After a pleasant drive south, we set up camp at Sisters Garden RV Resort. A garden it was--flowers everywhere, and as well cared for as the best botanical gardens. During our stay I had a quick trip to New Jersey to do business with a long-time client.

Eagle Lake

Sisters to Merrill Campground

After Sisters, we headed down 97 and filled up at Gordy’s Truck Stop at LaPine--can’t beat diesel at $2.49! We took 31 south--beautiful drive. At Lakeview we picked up 395 south, and then down into California. My original plan was to continue down to Likely, but at Alturas I navigated incorrectly, taking us west on 299. We continued on through Canby, and at Adin picked up 139 south, planning on going down to Susanville.

As we headed south I remembered some excellent reviews of a Lassen National Forest campground at Eagle Lake, so we took Forest Road AI on a gorgeous drive through the woods. At the south end of the lake we found Merrill Lake Campground, part of the Eagle Lake Recreation Area. Huge, flat paved sites in the woods, full hook-ups, fire rings, and an easy walk to the lake. Hardly anyone there. Wonderful place.

I got up early one morning and headed for the lake in 30-something degree weather hoping for a nice sunrise. The nice sunrise didn’t materialize, but I had a great time shooting this little bird. He had no fear of me at all, in fact, I found myself having to back up to focus.

Eagle Lake Beach Bird

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park

We took a half-day trip to Lassen Volcanic Park, taking two roads of a scenic byway there and back. Only moderate traffic on a holiday, so it was a pleasant 30-plus-mile drive through the park. Not a well-known park, but very worth visiting. Here is a shot of Lake Helen and Lassen Peak.

Lake Helen, Lassen Volcanic National Park

On the way to the park we saw a very large, very healthy black bear run across the road directly in front of us.

Here are a couple of pup pics.



Old Sign
Here is an old sign.

Old Sign

Old Trucks
Here are three old trucks.

Old Truck 1

Old Truck 2

Old Truck 3

See you next time.