The Lonely Roadhouse

First let me say, I am not a writer of books or stories. I enjoy writing of my travels and telling a little of the history of the places I visit.

I enjoyed the short story written by a blogging friend, Samantha James, on a photo I sent her a few weeks ago. On my trip to the Pacific Northwest in April I passed this abandoned motor lodge just off the road in the National Forests of Northern California and Southern Oregon. I thought of her when I saw it and was going to send her the photo to write another story as a challenge. I went to sent it and lo and behold there was no cell service, so getting back in my car I continued north along the highway through the forest. It was a lovely day but a prescribed burn by the Forest Service a few miles up the road put a heavy haze across the landscape.

My mind started thinking of what a nice place that motor lodge would have been back in the day and I started to flow with thoughts. This story came to me and I wrote it down that evening when I reached my destination in Vancouver, WA.

Inspired by Samantha’s story of Mackleberry Bridge. I hope you enjoy this.

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Motor Lodge

It had been a long days drive through the mostly quiet, narrow winding roads in the forest with numerous dirt roads and paths leading off to unknown locations.

Sam and Joann were getting tired and decided to stop at the first motel that looked inviting. They soon happened upon a quaint motor lodge just off the roadway.

The neon sign read “Deer Mt. Lodge” and “Vacancy” in beautiful brightly colored neon. There was only one other vehicle in the nice paved parking lot. The freshly painted and well cared for landscaping that said welcome for the evening to them.

Pulling into the parking lot they got out of the car and stretched their tired muscles. Going into the small office there was an older gentleman reading a book. As soon as they entered he put down the book and warmly welcomed them like family. Sam and Joann asked several questions of the room and decided this was the place to spend the night. The man handed them a key to room #5.

Pulling their car in front of the room they quickly emptied just what they needed for the night and opened the door to a cute, immaculate room. Smaller than a newer motel room it was still quaint and very retro.

Being very tired they quickly got ready for bed and fell fast asleep on the comfy mattress.

Sam was jolted awake in the middle of the night by a dream, NO A NIGHTMARE. There was a man standing over him with a long butchers knife raised high and plunging it towards his chest. Waking, breathing very hard he lurched upright in bed and quickly looked over to see Joann peacefully sleeping next to him. Slowly he regained his composure but had a restless nights sleep until morning.

Waking he asked his wife how she had slept and Joann said very fitfully with numerous dreams throughout the night. She turned to look at Sam although he did not see the young face of his wife but a much older Joann looking back at him. He said to himself that it must have been the restless sleep they both had and got out of bed to start the morning routine to get ready for the final long leg of their journey home.

Gathering all their belongings they walked toward the door although Joann froze in front of the door. Sam reached around her to open the door to a bright sunshine day awaiting then outside. Stepping though the door was like entering a portal through time. They passed from the brightly lit room into a dark cloudy day with heavy rain and lights flashing from half a dozen police cars.

Upon exiting the room they noticed the parking lot was now broken asphalt and mostly dirt, the landscaping was more weeds than plants and the outside of the lodge was in major need of repair with peeling paint. Walking toward their car that was being raised up by a tow truck, they looked at one another puzzled and noticed 4 men carrying 2 body-sized bags from the door they just exited.

Stopping next to 2 of the officers they were going to ask what has happened and heard this conversation…..

 

“It’s a shame what has happened to this place since the owner died.” remarked the lieutenant.

The second police officer stated, “ Yes, with the owner dying in his office desk reading a book.”

“What in the world made this couple want to stay the night in a run down place such as this?” asked the lieutenant.

“I don’t know” answered the second, “ but isn’t this the fourth homicide here this year?”

“Yes that sounds about right and strangely they have all been in Room #5.” the lieutenant remarked.

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The Haunting Of Mackleberry Bridge Written By Samantha James

A friend wrote a story to a photo I took on one of my trips to the California Redwoods a few years ago. Hope you enjoy it.

SAMANTHA THE READER

I have had an amazing idea while reading a lovely story earlier and it inspired me to do what the author did. They took a photo and wrote a short story based off of it. I love that idea so decided to give it a try. I hope you enjoy the results!

View original post 1,480 more words

Canada / Alaska Adventure in July-August

All right my trip is getting closer and I’m in the final stages of preparation. Vehicle is ready just needs final fluid changes before leaving. Camping gear is waiting. GPS route is set and just the final tweaks and additions are being done.

2018 Tillamook

Will be leaving Southern California on July 9th heading to Vancouver, WA along Highway 395 for the birth of my 4th grandchild. Leaving Vancouver I will head to Glacier National Park, Banff and Jasper National Parks in Canada then start the northern push to Dawson Creek, B.C. and start the drive there at Mile-marker Zero on the Alaskan Highway (Al-Can to us older folks) to Watson Lake, Yukon.

Turning off the Alaskan Highway at Watson Lake I’ll be on Canadian 4, a gravel road, to make my swing to Dawson, Yukon and the Arctic ocean at Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories. At this, my furthest point north, I start my swing back to Dawson and turn west to continue along the Top of the World Highway to Tok, Alaska.

Leaving Tok I will go south on the Alaskan Highway to Haines Junction and continue to Haines, Alaska along the Haines Highway to ferry across to Skagway and head back to the Alaskan Highway along the South Klondike Highway. I will leave the Alaskan Highway just before Watson Lake and turn south onto Canadian 37, The Cassier Highway, to Prince George, BC. From there I will continue south along Canadian 97 making my way back to the border and return to Vancouver, WA to visit my new grandchild before returning home south along Highway 101.

I have found during research a great resource for the area called, “The Milepost”. this details the Alaskan Highway and side-routes in Alaska, British Columbia, the Yukona nd Northwest Territories. I also picked up a camping guide named “Traveler’s Guide to Alaskan Camping” that includes all the Alaskan Highway and the same side-routes in it’s pages. Although this book was written for RV’s in mind it is good source for me, tent camping, to hit some campgrounds with services such as WIFI, showers, and laundry facilities along the way. It ranges from private, to Provincial Parks, to free camping areas along the roads.

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January 27,2018 Bickel Camp Fundraiser

 

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Good Morning, 6:30 AM 28F degrees

Well I am heading back out to Bickel Camp, Burro Schmidt Tunnel and a ranger led hike into Nightmare Gulch in Red Rock Canyon State Park for a fundraiser to help offset expenses on the upkeep of Bickel Camp.

Bickel Camp is full of mining equipment on display at this historic 1930’s era mining camp. The camp is still there to be visited by the adventurist explorer. Luckily this has remained on the “Adopt-A-Cabin” program and there is a caretaker on site to help explain and protect the remaining historic artifacts. Donations to help preserve and maintain the site are appreciated. 2 of Walter Bickel’s granddaughters were there walking us around the camp and telling of the fun they had out here when they visited. They told us one story of Bickel finding a stranded motorist in the desert and helped him get unstuck, turned out it was Jimmy Durante. Another interesting fact was that both Bickel and Schmidt were in the service during WWII, living within sight of one another they had a strong friendship and even rigged up automobile headlights so they could send messages back and forth in Morris Code. And yes the light at Bickel Camp is still standing.

For a full history on this wonderful place to visit follow this LINK.

 

After wandering around the camp and being entertained by first hand stories from the granddaughters we all head the few miles down the trial to Burro Schmidt’s Tunnel to explore the hand-drilled tunnel nearly a half-mile long that was dug with a single 4-pound jackhammer, and dynamite.

For additional information see my previous post LINKED HERE.

 

Next up it was to find our way back to asphalt and turn south into Red Rock Canyon State Park and the hike into Nightmare Gulch. We all meet-up for a short lunch stop at a park rest area before heading out the dirt road to the trail head. Although we did not do the loop we drove as far as we could to the official trail head and took a 5-mile total out and back hike into the canyon. Led by 3 Bureau of Land Management rangers we were given lessons in history, geology and ecology of this area. It was a great hike and took most of the afternoon.

 

Leaving the trail head at about 4:30PM I still had a 3 hour drive home. Arriving home at 7:50 PM I was exhausted as I got up at 3AM to get there and meet someone at the turnoff to the Camp. This adventure was wonderful as I met new adventurers and discovered this magnificent canyon that I will return to to follow the entire loop trail.

New Years trip to Washington – Part 6

Well we plan another easy day as it’s getting late in the trip and I think we are all tired from all the visiting and traveling that has been done. Today it was decided to go to a nature reserve for a short drive and walk, as the weather is finally getting rainy. Imagine that, rainy weather in the Pacific Northwest during winter.

This 5,150-acre (2,084 ha) area of marshes, grasslands and woodlands, named the Ridgefield National Wildlife Reserve is just north of Vancouver, WA and is one of 4 reserves located along the Columbia River in the greater Vancouver area. Established in 1965 to protect waterfowl, it was established with the 3 other refuges in the Willamette Valley for wintering birds migrating and nesting from Alaska.

The area includes a 2-mile (3.2 k) self-guided walking trail that’s objective is to showcase the Columbia River Watershed, the 4.2-mile (6.75 k) auto tour route and a seasonal 1.2-mile (1.9 k) hiking trail.

Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service it protects sandhill cranes, various shorebirds, and a large variety of songbirds, mallards, great blue herons, and red-tailed hawks. Mammals calling the reserve home include deer, coyote, raccoon, skunk, beaver, river otter, and brush rabbits.

The refuge consists of five sections, each unique in habitat supporting the wildlife that reside there. Two of these sections are open to public visitation and enjoyment, while the remaining three are kept as sanctuary for wildlife to rest, nest and escape human disturbance. This maintains an important balance for those species less tolerant to human presence to thrive in an increasingly urban area.  The visitors then get the chance to view and experience wildlife and habitat, receiving the many benefits of being out in nature.

The Columbia River has long sustained human population and dates back long before Euro-American arrived. There have been large Native American settlements found on the reserve. The refuge also preserves the most intact archaeological site on the lower Columbia River with evidence of at least 2,300 years of continuous human occupation. That history and culture is interpreted through the Cathlapotle Plankhouse built in 2005 and open to visitors on the weekends in the spring and summer. The plankhouse was built to represent the buildings Lewis and Clark might have found here at their Wapato Portage village.

Since we are visiting in January we are not to leave the car due to the large flocks of geese and ducks nesting in the area between October 1st and April 30th. The cars become your movable animal blind as the birds are accustomed to the vehicles presence. There is an observation blind halfway along the route you can park and take the short hike out to it.

There are 14 interpretive markers and signs along the way along the one-way road. It was a fun drive as we were one of the few vehicles in the reserve on this weekday morning. We saw many birds, mammals and 2 deer along our route. When we left the car to hike to the blind my grandson had an old cell phone that he uses to take photos and he was just shooting away at all the details on the forest floor trying be like his Dad, it was so cute.

It has been a tiring week of visiting family, meeting new people and seeing new sights so we leave at lunchtime to head home for a late lunch as I need to pack and rest for my drive home.

New Years trip to Washington – Part 5

We take a day to rest, clean and organize our things from the adventure at Tillamook State Forest then decide to head north from Vancouver, WA for a day trip to Battleground Lake to enjoy the nature surrounding it. Being winter it is raining off-and-on today, so we go down to the lakeshore so my grandson can have some fun trying to fill the lake with rocks he finds on the shoreline. This is something he really enjoys, he has thrown rocks at Mt Adams, into the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park and now here. Kids are so funny how they entertain themselves. We discussed hiking the trail that goes around the lake but decided that with the rain it would just be a slick mess.

 

 

After our short stay at the lake we head to The Cedar Creek Grist Mill just outside Etna south of the Lewis River along scenic Cedar Creek. A gristmill grinds grain into flour using nature’s forces, usually water being run by a water wheel. The first water-powered mill was reported around 71 BC in Asia Minor. Grain mills in England were counted in the 1086 Domesday Survey In England, which stated there were 5,624, or about one for every 300 inhabitants that year, peaking to 17,000 by 1300.

Cedar Creek Grist Mill is a working museum allowing visitors inside to observe the workings of the mill built in 1876. Samples are given to visitors after the tour of the facility. This is a totally nature driven mill using the water flowing through a plumb to a Leffel turbine installed with its flume (water canal) around 1888. Pulleys, and belts turn the milling stone producing flour, corn meal and sometimes apple cider.

 

 

Resting on a steep and rocky slope in the narrow gorge of Cedar Creek, it is the only gristmill in Washington that still maintains its original structure, mills with stones, and is water powered, this is also the oldest building in Washington State still producing its original product.

 

 

The last owner died in the late 1950’s and the property was bought by The State Fisheries Department in 1961 that removed the old dam and built a fish ladder. The Fort Vancouver Historical Society leased the mill in 1961 and had it registered as a National Historical Place.

Time, weather and vandals took its toll by 1980. “The Friends of the Cedar Creek Grist Mill”, a non-profit corporation, was formed to save the old mill. Using period tools consisting of axes and adzes they replaced the damaged posts and beams. Due to a dam removal in 1961 they had to now get water into the mill, extending the flume 650 feet where the water from the creek could flow into the intake without the dam.

Next to the mill is a covered bridge across Cedar Creek. There is no history on the first bridge although it was completely replaced by a truss bridge in 1935. The 1935 bridge could not support heavy loads, so in 1994 a new covered bridge spanning Cedar Creek was built.

 

 

Sadly it was closed on this weekday right after the holiday but peeking in the windows demands a return visit when it is open.

New Years trip to Washington – Part 4

The next few days were spent visiting with the family and friends I do not get to see that often. My son had made a plan and got together a few friends to go on a little adventure on New Years morning out to Tillamook State Forest about 40 miles west of Portland, OR.

This 364,000-acre (1,470 sq kilometer) forest is managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry and includes areas for campgrounds, hiking and backpacking trails, fishing, swimming, timber operations and interpretative center. There are trails for horses and pack animals, mountain bikes and motorized vehicles. This temperate rainforest averages more than100 inches (2,500mm) of rain a year and is considered one of the wettest areas of the United States.

New Years Eve we were the old folks and went to bed early as we were meeting everyone out there at 8:30 the next morning, so an early start from home was mandatory. Up at 5AM I showered (to wakeup) made a good breakfast and got my snack items and lunch for the day ready.

Arriving a little early we got a meeting spot at Browns Camp and were amazed at the number of people with the same idea. The staging area was filling up fast. Finally the last straggler pulled in, we organized everyone to communications, the general route and off we went with my son leading the way.

 

Heading up Firebreak Trail from the staging area and into the State Forest was great, the further back in we went the less people we encountered.

Finishing this short trail we head along Power-line Trail and we swing back onto forest service roads at University Falls to make our somewhat meandering way south to……

 

…..the fun Cedar Tree Trail where we drive under a fallen cedar tree, you don’t get to do that to often.

Back onto Forest service roads we meander north back to Browns Camp for a rest stop before our drive back home.

 

What a great way to start off the new year meeting new people, traveling this adventure with 10 other family filled vehicles and being out in the forest on a brisk but beautiful day. The 18 mile tail run was so much fun. Getting back home in the late afternoon we had dinner and relaxed for the night discussing what other adventures we should have in the next few days.