Welcome to Just Around The Bend our travel blog. As we go about our adventures we are hoping to see and experience some wonderful places and meet a lot of interesting people. One of our challenges on the road and living in our little caravan is to stay fit and eat healthy. One would hope that the time factor is on our side and we can be creative in our cuisine keeping it healthy and tasty. Fitness should be happening every day and we will use a lot of exercises from Stephany at the Fit RV. Stay tuned. Jeff also hopes to get more Youtubes going at his JUST AROUND THE BEND CHANNEL.
Crane Prairie Reservoir is a man-made lake located about 42 miles southwest of Bend in Deschutes County, Oregon, United States. The reservoir is named for the cranes that thrive in its habitat and for the upper Deschutes River prairie that once covered the area before the dam on the Deschutes was constructed in 1922. One of the most scenic lakes in Central Oregon with amazing fishing and large open campsites.
Cons: Mosquitoes and tree stumps in the lake- good for boat repair shops, bad for your prop.
Crane Prairie is a great place to go if you are wanting to catch large fish, I caught a 22 inch trout myself and many more fish 18 inches and above. The locals call these giant fish cranebows, this year was a very good fishing year for us. We were lucky to reserve site 113 right on the water’s edge which enabled us to scoot are boat right up to the shore line, which saved us having to load it on its trailer everyday. The view from our campsite was poster perfect, with bird life abundant, eagles, asprey and hundreds of white pelicans. The campsite itself is dry camping with a rustic table and an even more rustic fire pit, but lots of room for 2 rigs, a boat trailer and a 25 ft RV. With clean restrooms near and a very nice fish cleaning station you are all set with all of the amenities you need. I especially noticed how quiet it was at night which made for a very relaxing camping experience.
Senior Pass price was $8.00 a night and we stayed a whole week.
Talk to the employees at the lodge as they will help you figure out where the fish are and what they are biting on at that particular time of the year of your visit. Very friendly and helpful staff and they know the fishing tricks for Crane Prairie and have a well stocked store for all of your camping and fishing needs.
Our life goal is to visit as many National Parks as we can. National Parks draw you in with splendid beauty, history and protected wildlife. We chose Santa Cruz Island as the park rangers advised it had lots of hiking, animal life and spectacular cliff edge views.
Channel Islands National Park comprises 5 ecologically rich islands off the Southern California coast. Anacapa Island has trails to a 1932 lighthouse and clifftop Inspiration Point. Santa Cruz Island’s many sea caves include the vast Painted Cave. Santa Rosa Island features rare Torrey pines. Thousands of seals gather at San Miguel Island’s Point Bennett. Southernmost Santa Barbara Island draws nesting seabirds.
We began by pre purchasing our tickets the day before through Island Packers Cruises – 805-642-1393 – firstname.lastname@example.org. You are required to call for reservations and they fill up fast. Super friendly and very helpful people, from making reservations to boarding the boat. At $52.00 a person for round trip tickets it was a bargain, Highly recommend.
So the very early morning began our trip. Up at 5 am packed a lunch, snacks and water bottles for a full day. Water is available at several camping sites but no food, snacks or vending machines available. This is a very remote and protected island twelve miles from the mainland. The catamaran ride from Island Packers dock to the island was spectacular. Smooth sailing, lots of dolphins diving out of the water following our boat on either side. As we approached the island I felt like I was in a Jurassic Park movie. The dock was safe but rustic and no building in site just beautiful hills blooming wildflowers and the deepest green terrain I have ever witnessed. Just approaching the dock was breathtaking, wow what would the rest of the island be like.
We opted to join a 2 hour ranger walk to get a real feel of the island. Highly recommend as he directed us to trails and viewing of wild island foxes, explained the abundance of wild flowers and the protected island scrub jay, also where to view the world largest sea caves. After the tour we set out on our own following the trail map the ranger provided us. The trails were well marked and led to pristine beaches, views of rugged mountains, pure paradise. We decided to stop and have lunch on a cliff overlooking a sea lion rookery and sea caves. Hard to eat when the Ravens wouldn’t stop begging us for food, but rules are do not feed the animals, the birds just dont know the rules. As we continued our hike we periodically came upon small gray foxes as large as house cats and were not frightened by us all which gave us great photo opportunities. The island fox is only found on 6 of the 8 Channel Islands and found nowhere else on earth. They would walk up to you within feet without any fear and they are adorable.
No cell coverage allows for shear peacefulness of this island with only the sound of the rhythmic waves, salty breezes and over 2000 species of plants and animals made us want to stay for longer. We had a full day of hiking over 6 miles and it was now time to head back to the dock. What a wonderful day and we would definitely do this again, possibly a different island next time.
Leaving our camp site at Gilbert Ray we decided to explore the city of Tucson. Where to start, its a very historic town with tons of Artisans and unforgettable restaurants. My husband knowing me well had spoken with the camp host who directed us to the best farmers market in Tucson, right down my ally for sure. The farmers market was spectacular with Artisans with pottery, hand woven rugs, art and amazing food, so much fun. Next we headed downtown.
As we parked our large truck in a legal parking spot we spotted a costumed Spanish soldier walking and asked about his costume. It turns out we were right next to the Presidio San Agustin Del Tucson Museum and the most northerly spanish fort. Today happened to be living history day and there was lots of action going on from soldiers shooting muskets to cannon fire. The volunteers were dressed in period costume and some making some great tasting homemade tortillas,cactus jams. salsas and soups with plenty to sample. A priest toured us around the fort with lots of information about life in the time period. We even got to view a 2000 year old Native American pit house.
Our next exploration was to find the beginning of The Turquoise Trail and great luck it began outside the walls of the FORT. We picked up a self guided brochure at the Presidio Museum and proceeded to walk the 2.5-mile loop trail through downtown Tucson. The trail highlights structures and sites of historic interest and is marked by a turquoise stripe on the sidewalk.
We would highly recommend visiting downtown Tucson if you are in the neighborhood, so fun and informative.
On our walk on the Turquoise Trail Jeff just happened to find a sampling of yes Organic Gelato and I have to say was outstanding.
Sometimes on our snow bird explorations we find a hidden gem and Gilbert Ray Campground ticks all of the boxes.
Bordering Saguaro National Park and a mier mile from Old Tucson Movie Studio Theme Park is Tucson Mountain Park which included in that park is Gilbert Ray Campground. Located 13 miles from Tucson, Gilbert Ray has 130 RV sites with individual electric hook-ups and 5 designated tent sites.. Water is available and a RV dump station. NO shower facilities. RESERVATIONS ARE NOT ACCEPTED.
The fees are $20.00 a night and a maximum stay of 7 days only. The trick to getting a spot as this is a very popular campground with no reservations accepted is to get there early in the morning, I’d say 7am, yes I said 7 am is best. Its worth it as you will definitely want to stay longer as there is so much to see and do in the surrounding area.
Some of the sites are pretty small, but as you check in they ask the size of your RV and select an appropriate size site for you. No favoritism here you get what they choose.
Tucson Mountain Park has a lot of maintained trails and vista pullouts for spectacular views of the Sonoran desert with plenty of pullouts for vehicles. This particular year was abundant with rainfall and the cactus were blooming profusely. In all of the years we have explored the desert we have never seen so much beauty.
Next Stop The Channel Islands Please Join Us On Our Journey
OLD TUCSON is a theme park and historical film location in Pima County, Arizona. Over 400 movies and television shows were filmed at this location. if you are a fan of old western shows and movies you will probably recognize a lot of the backdrops. Located a mier mile from Gilbert Ray Campground and 4 miles from Saguaro National Park. General Admission is $19.95 and $10.95 for children (4-11) years old. A very large parking lot with plenty of RV room and free. Hours depend on the time of year, check their website as it changes often. Oldtucson.com. Old Tucson is very pet friendly as long as you keep your pet on a leash and your pet is friendly. NOTE: There is water placed for your pets comfort as it can get very hot and beware there is gun fire during part of the days events during stunt and cowboy shows.
Step back in time and plan on spending the entire day as we did enjoying numerous shows, gun fights, saloon musicals, living history and film history tour presentations. Don’t forget to take the train ride and plenty of rides for the kiddos to keep the whole family entertained. A western themed zipline is a very popular attraction located in the middle of the park which is an additional $20.00 a ride or 3 rides for $45.00.
The quality of the performances, whether it was singing, dancing or gunfighting was very, very professional. PERSONAL NOTE: Jeff was very happy as there was excellent BBQ and Good Ice Cream.
Our next adventure in the Tucson Area is The Historic Presidio District
Another fabulous State Park that is kept in great shape. Clean restrooms that are literally heated, free hot showers and clean, clean, clean. Sites are swept and tables are washed off as soon as it is vacated. The upper loops are $5.00 a night cheaper with great views of the Verde Valley. Quail loop campground was $35.00 a night, the upper loops $30.00 with spectacular views and less trees which make a difference in the warmer weather. Well that’s what the Ranger said anyway. . There are extensive trail systems for hiking, biking and horseback riding. You are miles from Sedona, Jerome, Cottonwood, Flagstaff and Clarksville. There is so much to see and do in the surrounding areas this campground makes for a great base camp.
The first day we visited Tuzigoot National Monument – Indian Ruins and Petroglyphs including a spectacular museum.
Montezuma’s Well WAS NEXT ON OUR LIST-more spectacular Indian ruins
Sedona Valley scenic byway was a beautiful drive with views and snow on the ground.
ALL ABOARD A FUN AND INTERACTIVE TRAIN RIDE
Like I said 2 weeks was probably not enough to see it all but we gave it a good try. In addition we visited Jerome and had a fabulous meal in a bordello called THE BORDELLO OF JEROME . The gyros were highly recommended and fantastic. The cook and owner made everything from scratch including the tzatziki sauce, pita bread and amazing feta crumbles, The lamb/beef mixture was non greasy and fantastic. We also roamed the streets of Cottonwood with lovely eclectic shops and a great BBQ restaurant called HOG WILD BBQ, I know the name is wild, ha but the food was outstanding.
Out next adventure takes us to Gilbert Ray Campground near Tucson AZ – see ya there CHEERS JEFF AND LIZ
This is one of those local hidden gems that no one tells you about and lucky we found it exploring around Laughlin, Nevada. About a mile off of the main highway on a dusty gravel road named Christmas Tree Road is a protected petroglyph site that beats any petroglyph site we have visited yet in our travels. The parking lot is well marked with a very clean restroom before the trailhead begins. From the parking lot is a easy 1/2 mile walk to the beginning of the cliffs, with plenty of beautiful scenery along the way.
Of course being the Thompsons we packed a lunch and plenty of water and probably spent a good half of a day exploring . The trail meanders around the rocks and petroglyphs for about 2 1/2 miles if you want to walk to the end. It’s a ruff go after the first mile with lots of rock climbing and literally sliding down cliffs but great fun for the young. This is a must adventure if you are in the area.
CHEERS FROM JUST AROUND THE BEND
OUR NEXT DESTINATION IS DEAD HORSE RANCH STATE PARK IN ARIZONA