View from campground at Child's Meadow

On Trans-Canada Highway 2, B.C

Dick Estel's Later Trips


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Ohio Reunions

Don's in Oregon

Lassen Park 1
Mono Lake, Eastern Sierra Lassen Park 2 Canada
Mesa 1999   Whale’s Head Resort

Introduction: In my report on The Early Trips, I covered travels back as far as 1940, when I was 18 months old, through 1978. After that, my trips were virtually all for camping and/or backpacking, and there are separate reports on that, in the "Before 2002" section of the links below. In this report I will focus on some trips I took with my older grandson, Johnny Upshaw.

Like both my kids and both grandkids, his first camping trip was in his first year of life, and I took him with me on many camping trips. In addition, he went by plane with me to Ohio several times. Our first “big” adventures didn’t take place until I acquired a travel trailer in 1991, but I’ll get to that in a while.

Ohio: In 1990 my mother and her three sisters and some cousins decided to revive the Watkins Reunion. K.K. and Tillie Watkins were their maternal grandparents. They had five children who lived to adulthood, 23 grandchildren, 62 great grandchildren, and at least 100 great great grandchildren at that time, so there was a potential attendance of 200 or more. My grandson, Johnny, was one of only two great great great grandchildren at that time, but there are now 20 or 30 in his generation. Of course, K.K. and Tillie were long gone, as were all their children, although two daughters-in-law were still alive.

Mother and her sisters had attended Watkins reunions in the 1920s when they were kids, but as people moved around, the event died out. There was a series of reunions into the 1970s, but by 1990 there had been no big gathering for ten years or more.

As only mothers can, she encouraged me to attend, and I made plans for my first trip to Ohio since 1978. Since I did not have much vacation time, I decided to fly, and also to take Johnny, who was about two months short of his sixth birthday.

We had a good time at the reunion, which was held at a park in Swanton. It was fascinating to meet so many relatives that I had been only vaguely aware of, and Johnny found kids his own age to play with.

Of course, many could not make it, but there were still 50 or so cousins, second cousins, second cousins once removed, etc.

We spent about a week in Ohio, with dad driving around pointing out places where he and mother had lived, and visiting various relatives. Of course, many of the older relatives I had visited in the 1970s where gone now, but there were still many in my mother’s generation, as well as two of her aunts, who both ultimately lived to be over 100.

Dad and Mother had been coming to Ohio in their motor home every other summer since about 1976, and had stayed in various places. During the times I was there, a distant relative had offered them a spot on property that had once contained a mobile home, so there were hookups for water, sewer and electrical power. The property contained a huge old barn, which the owner used for storage, and an old, falling-down house, which it turned out had been occupied by K.K. and Tillie Watkins in the 1920s.

It was decided to hold the reunion every two years, and I went three more times, 1992, 1994 and 1996. Johnny went with me again in ’94 and ’96, but we missed the gathering in 1998 and in 2000, which turned out to be the last in this series, with only a handful in attendance.

In addition to the reunion, Johnny and I found other things to do around the motor home campsite. There was an old swing set, part of a pile of junk, leaning at a slight angle. We were able to sit in what I guess would be called the glider (two seats facing each other), and swing without any dangerous tilting.

We also explored the old barn on the property, and walked along the country roads nearby. Interstate 80 ran near the property, and just over the overpass was a field of soybeans. Walking by that area, Johnny was bitten by a bug of some sort, causing an immediate and quite significant swelling. We headed back, with visions of a trip to the emergency room in my mind, but by the time we made the quarter mile walk, the swelling had already gone down, there was no pain or itching, and no further symptoms.

We also had fun standing on top of the overpass watching big trucks go underneath, with seemingly only inches of clearance. Our enjoyment was greatly enhanced whenever one of the drivers would give us a blast on the horn. One year Johnny had his roller blades, and skated down the overpass, but at a slow, controlled pace that did not cause me any worries (his great grandmother, however, thought it was an insane risk).

Cousin Don’s in Oregon: Don’t ask me when, but in the early 1990s Johnny and I went to visit my cousin Don in Oregon. (You can read more about Don in Oregon in my Early Trips report.) I’m pretty sure Johnny was about eight, which would make it about 1992. We went up Highway 99 and Interstate 5, then took state highway 16 from Woodland past Clear Lake and on to US 101. We stayed at a KOA campground on 101, probably near Myers Flat. I know we walked down by the Eel River, which runs along 101 throughout that area.

We got to Don’s the next day, and had a good time, although I have to strain my brain to remember any details. I know that Don had a quad vehicle, which Johnny wanted to drive. There are a lot of dirt roads and trails around Don’s place, so Johnny had a good time driving the quad, putting it into the ditch only once. The only problem was that the battery was dead, and every time the engine died, we had to push it up the hill and jump start it, which of course, didn’t bother Johnny. I also recall that Don’s wife and kids were visiting relatives, so we didn’t get to see any of them. However, his older step-son, Zef, came by with a big fish he and a friend had caught in the ocean, and we had a good barbecue.

We also made a visit to the Oregon Caves, a national monument in the mountains east of Cave Junction. This is a fairly small cave, but interesting to go through, and Johnny liked it. I had been there before on one of my earlier visits to Don’s.


Lassen 1: If my admittedly deteriorating memory is correct, our first long trip with the trailer was to the area of Lassen National Park in Northern California. The time was August of 1993, when Johnny was almost 9, and it was my first visit to the area as well. I have discovered some notes I made at the time, but they are very sketchy. We went up Highway 99 and drove up the Feather River canyon. We stopped for the night at a slightly sheltered spot along the highway. Somewhere along the way we saw what I noted as the “watermelon disaster.” This was a truckload of melons, tipped over and scattering fruit along the roadside. We also saw a large number of cranes (birds), standing in fields and flying above the fields.

In the river, across the road from our camping spot, was a dredge and some mining equipment, no doubt for mining gold. We also saw a snake in the river. Along the Feather River canyon there are a number of picturesque bridges, both low to the water and high above it; and for both railroad and the highway.

The next afternoon, strictly by chance, we discovered an excellent camping area, Child’s Meadow Campground, which offers RV spaces, tent camping, and cabins. It’s located on state highway 36, across the road from a meadow that is at least two miles long, and is occupied by a large herd of horses (the meadow, not the camp).

We got settled in that day, then the next morning we set off for our first look at Lassen, less than 20 miles away. One of the dramatic sights I remember was a lake that still had ice around the edges – in the middle of August. We decided to hike into a thermal area called Bumpass Hell, and headed down the trail. Much of the trail was still covered with snow, with little orange flags to mark the way.

We reached the end of the trail, and were rewarded with a view of some steaming pools and mud pots, plus the smell of sulfur, evidence that volcanic activity in the area was still going on.

We spent another day or so in the area, mostly hiking and biking around the camp. One day we drove a few miles down highway 172 through Mill Creek to Mineral on highway 36. We then rode our bikes down a dirt road to a big meadow full of flowers, surrounded by tall trees and rocky tree-covered hills.

One night a park staff member built a small fire in a ring about 30 feet behind our trailer. A little later I looked out and saw it had become a rather large bonfire. Since it was not cold, I did not see why they had built it so big. Then the manager came to my trailer and asked me to get my grandson away from the fire “before he burns down the camp.” There was a huge pile of dry wood right next to fire ring, and Johnny took this as an invitation and encouragement to get the fire going full blast. This became known as the famous time when Johnny tried to burn down the Lassen National Forest.

When we left Child's Meadow, we headed even farther east and north into this remote area of California, to visit Lava Beds National Monument. We went through Chester and past Eagle Lake, stopping for gas in Susanville, the County seat of Lassen County.

We ended up at Howard’s Gulch campground, a national forest campground on Highway 139 just north of highway 299, not far from Alturas in Modoc County, where we spent two or three nights.

We were fortunate to be there at the time of the Perseids meteor shower, which takes place every August around the 10th to the 12th. Next to the camp was a small hill with a trail to the top, so around sundown we took our lawn chairs, water and candy bars, hiked up to the top, and set up our viewing area. We had a 360 degree view, and there was no moon, and no lights from civilization, so the star field was magnificent. It was the first time Johnny had been in such a dark area at night, and he was duly impressed. Added to this, the meteors were abundant, and in that night, we counted a total of 30.

The next day we drove up to Lava Beds National Monument, which is an area that was overflowed with volcanic material, some as recently as 1500 years ago. We also made it all the way to Tule Lake on the Oregon border, a lake famous for white pelicans and other water birds.

At Lava Beds we explored two of the lava tubes – short, shallow caves that were formed during lengthy lava flows. Here’s a short explanation from the U.S. Geological Survey:

Much of the north and south flanks of the Medicine Lake shield were built from molten lava transmitted through lava tubes. These tubes formed beneath the congealing surface of basalt flows in somewhat the same way that a brook may continue to flow beneath a cover of its own winter ice. As molten lava emerges from a vent and flows down slope, congealing lava from the top and sides of the central channel often forms a bridge over the lava stream. The sticking together of bits of lava spatter and fragile lava crusts strengthen the bridge in the manner that thin crusts of floating ice raft together to cover a brook during early stages of a winter freeze. Eruption of basalt lava, however, is a much more violent and spasmodic process than the steady gathering of water that feeds a brook. If liquid lava stops rising from its source deep within the earth, the still-molten lava moving beneath the crusted-over top of a lava flow will continue to drain downhill and may ultimately leave an open lava-tube cave -- often large enough for people to walk through.

We observed meteors from an open area near camp that night, and saw about six more.

Next morning, when it was time to leave, we stopped in Alturas for breakfast. Again we encountered a cook who was used to feeding hard working men. We had sausage patties as large as a salad plate, and Johnny got a huge quantity of biscuits and gravy – four full biscuits, covering a large plate. We ended up giving some of our sausage to a couple in the restaurant who had a dog in their truck outside.

We headed home down US 395, state highways 70, 49, and 89, I-80, and US 99, with a stop overnight at Prosser Camp, on a lake near where 89 joins I-80.

Mono Lake: One of our more unusual trips was over the Sierra Nevada to Mono Lake, in 1995. There was a boy one year older than Johnny living two houses from me, and they had become good friends, so we invited B.J. to join us on this trip.

We went through Yosemite over Tioga Pass and down to Lee Vining, with plans to visit Mono Lake, Devils Postpile National Monument, and whatever else we could find. I could not begin to remember the order in which we did things, but I know we went to the lake two or three times.

Shortly after getting set up in our RV park, we went to visit some good friends of mine from Avenal, west of Fresno, who spent the summers in Lee Vining in a different RV park. We enjoyed popcorn and a drink with Ben and Wilma Briscoe, and had a nice visit.

Mono Lake receives waters from the eastern slope of the Sierra, but has no outlet, making it a salt lake. Mineral deposits known as tufa towers have built up under water over the years, and are now exposed, revealing many strange shapes. The water level has been dropping since the first half of the 20th century, due to source streams being tapped by the LA water system. A court order a few years ago required the district to leave enough water to maintain Mono Lake, and the level is now rising.

The water teems with brine flies and brine shrimp, and seagulls by the thousands wheel overhead. The vast majority of California’s gulls go to the lake’s one good size island to lay their eggs.

We also drove over dirt back roads to visit the historic ghost town of Bodie. Now a state park, Bodie was reputed to be a wild and wooly place during the early mining days. The old buildings have been preserved, and contain many artifacts of earlier times. Most of the buildings are unpainted, and have taken on a beautiful color of aged wood.

There was one place in the area that I had visited before, and wanted to see again – Devils Postpile National Monument. On my previous visit, I had hiked in from the west, two or three days of walking, and enjoyed the experience very much. This time we caught a shuttle bus at the town of Mammoth Lakes, and rode in to the monument. The post pile consists of columnar basalt formations that developed when molten lava cooled around different centers. The posts are eight-sided, up to a foot in diameter, and 30 or 40 feet high. We then hiked down along the middle fork of the San Joaquin River to Rainbow Falls, which drops 101 feet over a lava cliff.

The hike back to the store and bus stop was longer than I had realized, and the boys were getting hungry, so there was a bit of grumbling on the way. We made it safely and quickly hit the store for some emergency fuel, then caught the bus back to Mammoth Lakes and the truck.

When we left Lee Vining, we headed north about 25 miles on US 395, passing through Bridgeport, then took state highway 89 into the eastern Sierra. This was a steep and winding route, so it was slow going, but we were in no hurry and had no particular destination in mind. We went through the tiny town of Markleeville, seat of Alpine County. Alpine is California’s smallest county in terms of population. When I was learning county names in high school, its population was 240, but by this time it had increased to a little over a thousand.

We continued on highway 89 then on highway 88 till we came to a campground across the road from the Carson River. Streams on the eastern side of the Sierra do not have an outlet to the sea. They either end in salt lakes like Mono, or dissipate in the sands and sagebrush of the great basin, mainly in Nevada. However, in the mountains where we were, the Carson was a good size stream, fairly wide and flowing over rocks. We spent only one night here, and didn’t do much, but the boys had a great time playing in the river.

By this time they had taken over the chore of hitching up the trailer each day. Of course, I inspected their work, but they did a good job and never left any “loose ends.”

When we left the campground, we continued over Highway 88, one of several scenic roads that goes over the Sierra. I had traveled this road for the first time shortly before Johnny was born, when we went to my younger daughter’s wedding in Tahoe. This time we had a more leisurely trip, and started looking for a place to spend the night. The one campground we drove into was full and everyone was crowded very close together. We ended up finding a spot beside the highway, where we could get off the road about 30 yards. On our side of the road was a large meadow, and we walked across it and into the woods beyond.

We also explored some roads on the other side. I started to check out an old abandoned pickup camper a few hundred yards in, but soon realized that it was occupied. There were a number of trailers in the area, some just people spending a night or two, but apparently others were set up for long term camping.

This was our last night on the trip; the next day we continued down the western slope of the Sierra to Highway 99 and home to Fresno. (Click here or on Eastern Sierra Journey 2007 in the Travel Report menu below to read about my trip to Mono Lake, Bodie and Devil's Postpile with grandson Mikie.)


Lassen 2: Some time a couple of years or so after our first trip, we made another trip to the Lassen Park area, again staying at Child’s Meadow. This time we hiked to the top of Lassen Peak, a round trip of about 4.4 miles. The trail rises 2,000 feet. The top was pretty much covered with snow, and we had a good view of Mt. Shasta to the west and the surrounding forests. We also watched smoke rise from a distant forest fire and spread across the mountains in that area. 

We also took a side trip to McArthur-Burney Falls, a destination that had been recommended to me by a colleague at work, Sue Wirt (Thanks, Sue, in case I didn’t tell you at the time). This is a beautiful fall that drops over a lava cliff into a canyon. It’s visible a few steps from the parking lot, then it’s only a half mile walk down to the bottom of the canyon, with another great view of the falls.

These were the highlights of the trip, although we did some hiking and bike riding around the camp again. We came home via state highway 32, where I took a picture of Johnny by the highway sign, since 32 was the number he had chosen for his hockey jersey when he first started playing.


Canada: Now it was time for one of the best and biggest trips of all. Johnny was getting older, and I knew he would soon be involved with jobs, girls and other activities which would cut into his time for travel with me. We discussed going to Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and other areas in the west for the summer of 1998.

He had been playing hockey since he was eight or nine, and finally we hit on the idea of him attending a hockey camp in Canada. We would combine it with sight-seeing and camping, and would take the new trailer which I had purchased in May. After some research, we decided on a camp at Banff National Park. This obviously gave me a good place to be while he was in camp, and it was a place I had wanted to visit since I was a teenager.

So early one August morning we headed north up California 99, then on to Interstate 5 at Sacramento. We made it into Oregon the first day, and spent the night at the Rogue River State Park, a few miles south of Grant’s Pass. Just as we arrived a clap of thunder shook the truck and the toll booth, and there was a little rain, but it stopped before we got set up. It was early enough that we did a little walking around, checking out the river bank.

We headed on through Oregon and into Washington the next day. There was extensive harvesting going on in the Willamette Valley, with clouds of dust rising from tractors everywhere. We went through Seattle during a time of little traffic, and spent the night in a shopping mall parking lot in Lakewood WA, an hour or so north of Seattle.

On the third day we left I-5 and angled slightly east, entering Canada between Sumas WA and Huntingdon BC. A few miles north we picked up the Trans-Canada Highway, and stopped for the night at Kamloops, B.C.

The drive through B.C. was particularly nice, including flat valleys with sharply rising, tree-covered hills, and passage through two National Parks, including one where glaciers were visible. Through the mountainous areas there were gun platforms along the Highway, where they fire cannons in the winter for avalanche control.

We finished our time in British Columbia at Golden on the Columbia River. Our final day's travel took us into the Rockies and over into Alberta and Banff. The town of Banff, although in the national park, is a fairly complete small town, with restaurants, grocery stores and all other basic needs. We checked in to a large national park campground, complete with electricity, water and sewer connections. It is located just outside the town, on a hillside, with views into the Bow River Valley on one side, and woods on another.

Not long after we got set up, it started to rain, and rained for two or three hours. It was not cold, so we sat out under the awning and enjoyed the view.

The next day we went into town, found the ice rink, and got Johnny checked in. He would be staying at the rink throughout the week, although I could come and visit him and watch the activities at any time.

While Johnny was at camp I made two hikes, one to the top of Tunnel Mountain which gives a good view of the town area, and one up Johnston Canyon, where the creek has carved down through sandstone, to create steep walls in a narrow canyon with several nice waterfalls.

I went to the rink every day, and saw the various activities, which included several hours of on-ice instruction, off-ice shooting and stick-handling drills, and a scrimmage (game) every evening. In addition to the hockey activities, the boys were taken on a hike up a steep mountain, to a swimming hole in the river, and other outside activities.

When the week ended, we spent another two days or so there, doing some sight seeing and having dinner in a nice restaurant. Our explorations included a visit to Lake Louise, where you can view a glacier across the water. We saw bighorn sheep at one location, and many female elk everywhere. In the town, people put little wire fences around their landscaping to keep the elk away. We also saw two male elk on the drive to Lake Louise.

When we left Banff, we headed south and southwest toward Calgary and the Montana border. After we left the mountains near Banff, our trip was mostly through agricultural country. Throughout our trip we saw a variety of hay bales--regular rectangular bales, large rectangular bales with rounded ends like cotton bales, round bales, large round bales, and some amorphous lumps in Nevada that defied description.

We spent our first night near Babb, MT, just a few miles south of the border. The next day we were planning to drive through Glacier National Park, but the road goes over the Rockies and is limited to vehicles about 22 feet long, much smaller than a full size pickup towing a trailer. (When I traveled this route in 2002, I was glad I was not allowed to drive it with the trailer; the pickup alone was plenty big!)

Instead we headed south through Montana on two-lane state highways with virtually no traffic. We eventually picked up Interstate 15 a little north of Helena, and continued on to Butte for our next overnight stop (unless you drive way too far, you can’t cross Montana in any direction in just one day).

We continued on to Twin Falls ID, where we looked for a restaurant for a break from my cooking. We went into the first Mexican restaurant we saw, and were delighted with the food. In years past it was hard to find good Mexican restaurants except in border states, but they are now available throughout the country (well, I haven’t really been everywhere, but they are available everywhere I’ve been).

The next day we made a long drive, nearly 480 miles, through Idaho, across Nevada, and into California, and spent the night at a rest stop near Truckee and Donner Pass. This gave us a relaxing 260 mile drive home the next day. Overall, we went a total of 3,475 miles, 1,575 to Banff and 1,663 home, plus 237 local miles in the Banff area.


Mesa 1999: In February, 1999, Johnny and I went to Arizona, to visit my parents who were spending the winter in Mesa. We also had arranged to go to the NHL hockey game between the Phoenix Coyotes and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks on the day we arrived. We had visited Mesa in 1997 also, but I have absolutely no notes and very little memory of the details, other than the usual walk in the desert which I have enjoyed on all my trips down there.

On the way down we spent the night in Blythe since I did not want to try to get there in one day in time for the 6 p.m. game. In the motel we were watching a little bit of America's Most Wanted, and they showed a story about a drifter who found a couple of suitcases in the woods somewhere in the east. Anticipating at least some wearable clothing and maybe a million dollars, he opened one, only to discover decaying body parts. The next day Johnny and I stopped along the highway about a hundred miles from Phoenix to do a little desert walking, and spotted a big box a couple of hundred yards away. We looked at the box, then at each other, and decided we did not want to open any boxes that had been dumped out in the desert.

We got to Phoenix early Sunday afternoon, so we found a parking place, then walked around downtown, by the baseball stadium and America West Arena (home of the Coyotes). We had sundaes in a restaurant inside the stadium (Bank One Ballpark). It overlooks left field and the base paths look pretty small from up there.

As it got close to game time, people in Coyote jerseys descended on the arena from all directions. Our seats were in the second row, right behind the visitors’ bench, so we had a good view which was sometimes blocked by players jumping up to watch an exciting play, or by coach Craig Hartzburg jumping up on the bench to yell at the players.

The game did not end our way (Ducks 5, Coyotes 1), but it was incredibly exciting. It looked much faster than it appears on TV. Johnny caught a puck that may have been the one Teemu Selanne scored the first goal with. The puck came flying into the bench and after Hartsburg ducked, he picked up the puck and flipped it over his shoulder. There were several hands reaching, but Johnny read the play perfectly and caught it.

We had a good visit with Dad and Mother, including a trip to Organ Pipe Pizza (the largest theater organ in the world), where a musician performs while you enjoy your lunch. We also went to Park of the Canals, an area where a number of canals built by Hohokam Indians in the early 1000's are preserved; it also has a cactus garden. We visited Casa Grande National Monument, a Hohokam site where they built a four-story building, probably for religious and/or governmental purposes, around 1300. It is made of caliche, an adobe type material made by grinding up the hardpan which occurs under the soil and mixing it with water. The building has cedar pole beams that had to be carried many miles from the mountains.

Little is known about this tribe; their culture dispersed around 1450. The local Indians believe they are descended from the Hohokam.

Johnny and I also went out one day and spent several hours walking around the desert. It is pretty open so fairly easy walking even where there are no roads or trails. We saw lots of barrel, saguaro and cholla cactus, as well as a small one which may have been pincushion.

Mother's cousin Gloria Samuelson and her daughter Margaret Meister, who moved to Arizona from Omaha in September, came over one afternoon and we went to an all you can eat barbecue place. Johnny was in heaven. We had a huge plate of ribs (served family style) and another plate of beef and chicken. We could have asked for more, but that was enough. Dinner also included potatoes, bread and vegetables.

We left early Saturday, February 20, a little before 7 a.m., and got home about 6:30 p.m. (there’s a one hour time difference). We came home through Needles; the mileage both ways was about 630. My odometer may be off about 1% but not sure which way. Dad thinks it's more like 660.


Whale’s Head: You can read about Whale’s Head again in my 2006 Oregon trip report, but before I went there with Mikie, I went there in 1999 with Johnny. We set off with Whale’s Head Resort as our only target destination. This is a nice RV park built on a hill side, with a lot of permanent mobile homes set up – but they’ve covered them with natural wood siding for a very nice appearance. This was the brain child of the resort’s founder, and they still make and sell these units as a side business.

There is a “blow hole,” at Whale’s Head Beach, where the tide shoots up through a hole in the rock, resembling a whale’s spouting. I don’t know if the area is named for that, or for a rock that resembles a whale’s head.

The weather was overcast all but the last day, but it was not unpleasant. It was about 60 degrees throughout the day, and very comfortable in jeans and a flannel shirt. In addition to the hiking which I’ll discuss shortly, we drove up the highway to Gold Beach, and went up a few miles along the road that parallels the Rogue River. We crossed at a bridge and came back down the other side.

One day we drove south into California, about eight miles, and went to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. This is a nice area of old growth forest, featuring many large coast redwoods, and the usual rain forest look where plants grow everywhere, including on fallen logs, stumps, and any tourists who sit down too long to rest. We did one hike of several miles that looped up through the forest away from the highway and back, and I’m pretty sure it was on this walk that I lost a roll of film which had some of my best shots of the trip. We stopped on our way home and retraced the first quarter mile of both ends of the trail looking for the film container, to no avail.

Near Whale’s Head Resort there are a number of sections of the Oregon Coast Trail. Although the trail goes from Washington to California, it is not one unbroken line. Along the highway you can park at a turnout, take a section of trail, and return to the highway no more than a quarter mile from where you started. Many sections loop down along the sides of small creeks, so the trail is much longer than the highway section between the two ends. In many places, as soon as you take a few steps on the trail, you are in a different world – a cool, quiet rain forest with huge spruce trees and plant growth everywhere.

During our hikes we saw two or three snakes and many banana slugs. One day we found a trail that went down to a tiny secluded beach, maybe 30 feet across. Here Johnny drew in the sand a creature I named “The Sand Alien,” something he was into creating in the sand at various places. You can take a look at this masterpiece here.

The last day we were there, my cousin Don and his wife Diana came over from O’Brien OR, about 40 miles away. We had lunch in the trailer, then went for a hike. This turned out to be our only sunny day, and also the only day our hike took us out into an open area, a section of grassy dunes. Of course, warm weather by the ocean was still cool compared to what awaited us at home.

When it came time to leave, I knew it would take two days, but we did not have a particular stopping place in mind. We made the mistake of driving too long, till we found ourselves on Highway 99 south of Sacramento, with no pleasant place to stop. We ended up spending the night parked by the side of a rural road near Modesto, where many truck drivers spent the night, so we were lulled to sleep by the sound of diesel engines.

We survived this inconvenience, and made the short trip back to Fresno the next day, facing the 100 degree temperatures of the valley instead of the cool weather we had enjoyed in Oregon.

This pretty much ended the long trips I was able to take with Johnny, as he became more involved with school, girls, and jobs. We did do a lot of traveling to the Bay Area, Stockton and Sacramento when he played travel hockey for the Fresno Junior Hockey Club. I wrote about this in a report I did for Johnny and his family, Upshaw Brand Hockey, and I will look at that to see if I might want to make it available to the public.

Around this time I started going to bluegrass festivals. I’ve reported on just about every trip since I retired in 2002, and the earlier bluegrass festivals are discussed in my Bluegrass Odyssey page on line.

Looks like all that’s left are forty years or so of camping and backpacking trips.


(Photos open in a new window)

K.K. & Tillie Watkins & Descendents Watkins cousins at 1990 reunion
(Hazel Mason Estel left)
Johnny at meadow in Lassen Park area
View from campground at Child's Meadow Horses in Child's Meadow Johnny looks out at lava flow 
n Lava Beds monument
Icy lake in August, Lassen park Lake by Highway 88 in Sierra Lava cliffs along Highway 88
Summit of Mt. Lassen On Trans-Canada Highway 2, B.C Overpass on Highway to
allow animal crossings

Elk on the road between Banff and Lake Louise (Johnny took this through the open truck window as we slowed down)

Ready to check in at hockey school

Johnny at Bankhead Coal
Mine Site, Banff BC
Dick at Bankhead mine site Johnny in Canada Looking into Glacier Park
from highway to the south

The Sonoran Desert east of Phoenix

Johnny on a headland
near Whale's Head Resort
Johnny and the Sand Alien
Tufa tower at Mono Lake (photo by Tim Liddle) Bodie, in a treeless basin at 8000 feet elevation Permanently parked
Downtown Bodie   The aged wood beauty of Bodie's buildings

Related Links

Bodie Bodie State Park Casa Grande National Monument
Devils Postpile National Monument Jedediah Smith Redwoods Kamloops BC
Lassen National Park Lava Beds National Monument Lava Tube Caves
Lee Vining    Mammoth Lakes CA
Markleeville McArthur-Burney Falls Mesa AZ
Mono Lake Mono Lake Tufa Reserve Oregon Caves
Oregon Coast Trail Sand Alien Tonto National Forest
Tule Lake Tule Lake Wildlife Refuge Watkins Genealogy

The aged wood beauty of Bodie's buildings


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Before 2002
Early Trips Later Trips
Camping Trips Backpacking Trips
Early Stargazer Rock Camps 1961 Monterey Jazz Festival
Bluegrass Odyssey
Multi-Year Compilations
Fresno Area Canal Walks Clovis Trail Walks
Journey of 2002 (Ohio & Back) Logandale & Utah Parks 2002
Arizona & Bluegrass on the River 2003 Grand Canyon & Logandale Bluegrass 2003
Parkfield & Huck Finn 2003 Early Frog Camps (2003-2005)
Paso Robles & Parkfield 2004 Road Trip 2004 (Ohio & Back)
Bullhead City Bluegrass, Mesa, Superstition Bluegrass 2004 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2004
Arizona-Southern California 2005 Huck Finn Bluegrass 2005
Morro Bay 2005 Stargazer Rock Camp 2005
Parkfield Bluegrass 2005    
Huck Finn Bluegrass 2006 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2006
Rock Creek Non-Camp Stargazer Rock Camp 2006
Parkfield Bluegrass 2006 Oregon 2006
Bluegrass in the Foothills 2006    
Bullhead City, Bakersfield, Joshua Tree 2007 Frog Camp 2007
Eastern Sierra Journey 2007 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2007
Stargazer Rock Camp 2007 Roundup #1
(Mother Lode; Kings Canyon, Yosemite)
Bluegrass in the Foothills 2007    
Nevada-Arizona Hockey & Bluegrass 2008 Parkfield Bluegrass 2008
Frog Camp 2008 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2008
Stargazer Rock Camp 2008 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2008
Hobbs Grove Festival 2008     
Roundup 2009
Las Vegas, Mariposa, Table Mountain, Orange County
Frog Camp 2009 Southern Journey 2009
Parkfield Bluegrass 2009 Stargazer Rock Camp 2009
Bluegrass Tour 2009
Brown Barn, Plymouth, Hobbs Grove
Hensley Lake Camp
Mojave National Preserve & Havasu Bluegrass Roundup 2010
Hensley Reservoir, Mojave Preserve 2 & 3
Parkfield Bluegrass 2010 Lake Almanor & Mt. Lassen 2010
Las Vegas Expo Summergrass
   Brown Barn, Watsonville & Hobbs Grove
Roundup 2011
Mariposa, Hensley, Table Mountain
Frog Camp 2011
Parkfield Bluegrass 2011 Frank, Pat, Dick & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Northern Coast Journey 2011 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2011
Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival Chilkoot & Stargazer Rock Camp
Kings River & Brown Barn Bluegrass Festivals Hensley Camp 2011
Parkfield Bluegrass 2012 Four Squaw Leap Hikes
Northern Coast Journey 2012 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2012
Stargazer Rock Camp 2012 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2012
A 3-Event Weekend
Farmer's Market, Kings River Bluegrass, Antique Fair
2012 Las Vegas CAN AM Hockey Challenge
Fall Hikes
Finegold Trail; Bower Cave
Into Los Gatos Canyon
Silver Stick Tournament - Canada Sierra Foothills - Winter 2013
Finegold Trailhead, Hensley Lake, San Joaquin Gorge
Death Valley - Alabama Hills - Whitney Portal Sierra Foothills - Spring 2013
San Joaquin Gorge Hike, Big Creek Drive
Parkfield Bluegrass 2013 Shaver Crossing Station & Big Creek
Lake Almanor & Caribou Crossroads Mono Hot Springs
Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival A Wedding in Duluth
Sequoia Park Hiking Roundup 2013
Kings River Bluegrass, Buena Vista Peak Hike, Hensley Lake Camp, North Fork Mono Museum, White Rock Road, Hockey in Denver
2014 Winter Hikes
Millerton South Bay Trail, Clovis Trail, Hite's Cove Trail
San Joaquin Gorge Campout
Colorado Springs Hockey Tournament Lake Havasu Bluegrass
2014 Spring Hikes
Stockton Creek Preserve, San Joaquin River Trail, San Joaquin Gorge, Millerton Lake, Sycamore Creek, Buena Vista Peak Again
NORCAL Hockey Playoffs and Santa Cruz Visit
Greeley Hill Road Trip Parkfield Bluegrass 2014
Journey of 2014 Journey of 2014 Photos
Nelder Grove Hikes 2014 Sentinel Dome Hike
2014 Fall & Winter Hikes
San Joaquin River Trail South & North, Red Rock Canyon Nevada, San Joaquin South Again
California Flat Campout
Snow Day with the  Upshaw's   
Rambler Hikes 2015 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2015 Part 2
Adventures of 2015 - February to May
(Goofy Smith Flat, Coast Redwoods & Big Sur, Pine Flat, Finegold Trail, Edison Point Trail, Nelder Grove)
Adventures of 2015 - June to December
(Lewis Creek Trail, Kaiser Pass, Kaiser Pass Again, Taft Point, Kings River Bluegrass, Shaver Logging Road, San Joaquin River Trail, Lewis S Eaton Trail, San Joaquin River Gorge, Thanksgiving at the Gorge)
Lake Tahoe & Virginia City Parkfield Bluegrass 2015
Colorado Springs Cousin Convention 2015 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2015
Stargazer Rock Camp 2015 Grand Canyon & Arches National Parks
Adventures of 2016 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 1
Adventures of 2016 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 2
Adventures of 2016 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 3
Adventures of 2016 Part 4 A Pennsylvania Adventure
Adventures of 2016 Part 5 Parkfield Bluegrass 2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 6 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 7 Stargazer Rock Camp 2016
Adventures of 2017 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 1
Adventures of 2017 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 2
Adventures of 2017 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 3
Adventures of 2017 Part 4 Hiking and Hockey
Adventures of 2017 Part 5 Lake Almanor
Adventures of 2017 Part 6 Northern California Redwood Hike
Parkfield Bluegrass 2017 Stargazer Rock Camp 2017
Travel Blog 2017 (an experiment) Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks
Adventures of 2018 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2018 Page 1
Adventures of 2018 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2018 Page 2
Adventures of 2018 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2018 Page 3
Adventures of 2018 Part 4 Parkfield Bluegrass 2018
Adventures of 2018 Part 5 Northern California Journey 2018
Adventures of 2018 Part 6
Adventures of 2019 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2019 Page 1
Adventures of 2019 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2019 Page 2
Utah National Parks Rambler Hikes 2019 Page 3
Adventures of 2019 Part 3 Parkfield Bluegrass 2019
Adventures of 2019 Part 4 Adventures of 2019 Part 5
Adventures of 2020 Part 1 Adventures of 2020 Part 5
Adventures of 2020 Part 2 Adventures of 2020 Part 6
Adventures of 2020 Part 3 Adventures of 2020 Part 7
Adventures of 2020 Part 4 Rambler Hikes 2020 Page 1
Adventures of 2021 Part 1 Adventures of 2021 Part 5
Adventures of 2021 Part 2
Adventures of 2021 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2021 Page 1
Adventures of 2021 Part 4 Rambler Hikes 2021 Page 2
Adventures of 2022 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2022 Page 1
Adventures of 2022 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2022 Page 2
Adventures of 2022 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2022 Page 3
Adventures of 2022 Part 4 Utah Parks
Adventures of 2023 Page 1 Rambler Hikes 2023 Page 1
Adventures of 2023 Page 2 Rambler Hikes 2023 Page 2
Dinosaur National Monument Rambler Hikes 2023 Page 3
Adventures of 2023 Page 3 Rambler Hikes 2023 Page 4
Adventures of 2024 Page 1 Rambler Hikes 2024 Page 1
Adventures of 2024 Page 2 Rambler Hikes 2024 Page 2
Mendocino Coast Rambler Hikes 2024 Page 3
Fresno Area Canal Walks Clovis Trail Walks
Butch's Blog Walker Family Trips
Parkfield Earthquake Kim & Morgan Brown Trips & Photos
Travel Report Menu Estel Home Page
Photo Albums Slide Shows
Laurie Lewis' High Sierra Hikes Email


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 Updated September 17, 2021