We have now traveled the entire Willamette Valley southbound going through Oregon. Our previous visits to Oregon included crossing and visiting the Willamette Valley each time with the objective of going somewhere else. This time going to the Willamette Valley was the objective. Tacked onto this journey was also visiting the mountains south of the Willamette Valley all the way to the California / Oregon border.
The Willamette Valley starts in southern Washington north of Portland. Thousands of years ago the entire valley was a huge lake. At times, the lake covered the valley with more than 200 feet of water. Soil all the way from Montana fills the valley. I covered some of the history of the Willamette Valley in a previous post. The story was about the Bitterroot Valley in Montana. The Bitterroot Valley was at the bottom of Lake Missoula. When the ice dam on Lake Missoula failed, most of Washington and Oregon including the Willamette Valley was flooded. Here is a link. Bitterroot Valley
Into the Willamette Valley
It was October 1st when we departed Tillamook and took Highway 18 through McMinnville to Champoeg State Heritage Area (Champoeg State Park) The weather was starting to shift and everything in this journey was subject to change due to weather. We got lucky with the weather and didn’t have to change any of our plans. This was our second visit to Oregon in October.
During our first visit to northwest Oregon (2019), during the first week of October, it rained. Actually, it rained for the entire week. Rain isn’t something new in Oregon, but for us, I’m not sure we are ever going to get used to it. This post about our visit has a few nice pictures and a story. Stormy on the Oregon Coast
Southbound on the Oregon Coast
After our first week of rain at Fort Stevens State Park in 2019, we drove the entire Oregon coastline southbound in October in great weather. No rain at all in 2019, except during that first week. During that journey down the coast, we stopped at Newport, a very cute park called Humbug Mountian, and Brookings. Here are some links to those stories. Southbound on the Oregon Coast, Oregon South Coast, and Brookings & Redwoods
Champoeg State Heritage Area
This year our first stop in the Willamette Valley was a new park (new to us) that we had never stayed at before. We really like Oregon State Parks and this one was no exception. Our campsite was in a wide-open meadow. It was very quiet and wonderful. The weather was holding and still nice. I was really happy that we didn’t get non-stop rain, unlike that first week of 2019.
Back to Washington
After our stay at Champoeg State Heritage Area, we went north back across the Columbia River to Vancouver Washington for a stay behind the Roadmaster factory. The reason we stopped was to install a braking system in our car. Inside the factory, we got a great tour and saw the different product lines under construction. I will be putting a few photos together in a future blog post about our camping out behind the factory and sharing some info on our new braking system. That will have to wait for a couple of weeks but when I get it done I will insert a link to the story here.
Southbound in the Willamette Valley
Our visit to Vancouver set us up for an uninterrupted day-long drive of the entire Willamette Valley from north to south. We didn’t do that, instead, our first stop southbound in Oregon was again at Champoeg State Heritage Area. After getting our work done in Washington there wasn’t any reason to go further than Champoeg State Heritage Area for our first night.
Crossing Portland (both directions) was uneventful as we stayed on the freeway and only had minor slowdowns. Both times we used I-205 which bypasses downtown and most of the bridges.
Our friends that stayed with us in Champoeg State Heritage Area were gone to do some mooch-docking at another friend’s house. They had a good time both at Champoeg and while mooch-docking. Mooch-docking is a name sometimes given to camping at a friend’s house and spending a few days. Unlike boondocking, this usually doesn’t include being in the boondocks.
Our previous trip down the Willamette Valley
In 2019 we also made a trip down the Willamette Valley. It was an unplanned trip based on having a problem in our RV. Some of the welds that held the house above the frame were broken. We didn’t know about this until we got to Eugene where we identified the problem. The issue was that the house part of the RV was leaning toward the right. Here is the link to the rest of the story. Tilt, that didn’t work
Destination Grants Pass
This year’s trip down the Willamette Valley also had a maintenance issue and a destination to get the right maintenance done. Our RV was getting a little bouncy after crossing things like after crossing a bridge bump. We bounced more than we should have been bouncing. Of course, our RV is way too big to do the traditional shock absorber test. This test was and still is to induce a bounce in the car and after you quit the car should not continue to bounce. In our RV we have to drive across a bump to induce the bounce.
A couple of months prior to our visit at Hendersons Line-up in Grants Pass I made an appointment to get the RV tested and repaired. Once the bounce was verified and we had an unanticipated happy ending. Our RV didn’t need shock absorbers because the shock absorbers on our RV were adjustable. Henderson’s was able to take the bounce out by adjusting our shock absorbers. Like the previous visit to Roadmaster in Vancouver, I intend to write a post about how we took the bounce out of our RV and how we improved our ride in other ways. When that post is done, again I will edit this paragraph and include a link.
The new section of the route took us south of Eugene. (Eugene is at the south end of the Willamette Valley.) Then we entered the mountains with our next stop at a vineyard north of Sumerlin. This stop was at a Harvest Host location called The Meadows Estate Winery. They have a large gravel parking lot and after our wine tasting, we spent the evening chatting with some folks we met during our stay.
South of Sumerlin (Sutherlin)
South of Sumerlin (Sutherlin) we started noticing some of the mountains along the road seemed familiar. It was familiar, the difference was that we had traveled this section of Interstate 5 northbound. In early 2018 we were traveling northbound and stayed at Wolf Creek, Roseburg, and Elkton. Each stop in 2018 inspired a blog post and I really liked the area even though I didn’t catch any Steelhead Trout. I tried but was unsuccessful. The stories are in these links. Wolf Creek, Roseburg, and Elkton
This year we were able to stay at Valley of the Rogue (River) State Park again with our friends we saw in Tillamook and Champoeg State Heritage Area. These were the same friends that we left at Champoeg State Heritage Area and that did some mooch-docking while we went to Vancouver. After our Vancouver visit, we were a couple of days behind them, as we followed them southbound through the Willamette Valley. It was good to see them again. We even got to meet up with some other friends that we first met in Boise.
We really liked Valley of the Rogue (River) State Park but there was some train and highway noise. Not too bad but you could hear it easily if you were outside.
We really enjoyed our trip southbound through the Willamette Valley, it seems so long ago. Especially since we already turned around and are now northbound heading for Alaska (ever so slowly). Our next post will be about the first time we saw Mount Shasta, right before it got buried in snow.
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and want to again say thanks for following us on our trip.
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