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North shore of Gerber Reservoir
June 23, 2009: Morgan and I did some hiking today around the east side of Gerber Reservoir so I could photograph our north shore campsite from across the lake. It was a rocky hike and warm. Morgan took herself swimming several times during the hike. This is a perfect campsite near Stan H. Spring primitive campground. Click the photo to enlarge.
June 24, 2009: Most of the day was used up with wildlife watching but toward the evening, Morgan took Dale for a mountain bike ride. It was only a short ride of about four miles but it was enough for Morgan on this warm day. She took herself swimming after the ride to cool down. This is the road we pulled our trailer over to arrive at the perfect campsite. This would NOT be a good road in wet weather. You can click this photo to enlarge. Morgan takes Dale for a bike ride
We are camped near the Stan H. Spring Campground We are parked about 1/4 mile beyond the Stan H. Spring Campsite. Stan H. Spring is a primitive campground with table, fire pit and vault toilet. Our spot is far better and we need the sun for our solar system. Morgan takes herself for a swim once every hour when it gets warmer.
Perfect campsite with no one near us

June 26, 2009: We are likely to be in this location for another week or so. There is NO PLACE to spend any money nearby so we are becoming RICH while parked here. Morgan is taking us for a hike in the photo to the right.

Before leaving Howard Prairie, our friend Terry and Kathy taught us to play Aggravation using a deck of playing cards for each player. This is where I'm beating Gwen. I also swore I was never going to become one of those "old people" who do nothing but play card and board games. I suppose as long as I'm hiking, bike riding and swimming with Morgan during the day, it's OK to play a board game at night.

The Pelicans visit us several times each day. They seem to herd fish then they all stick their heads in the water at the same time to gather up the catch. You can click the Pelican photo to enlarge.

Time for a hike
Aggravation! Pelicans visit several times each day
Guarding the rocks

June 27, 2009: Some days it's time to just sit and herd the lava rocks to make sure they don't leave.

Or, go swimming with Morgan, where did she go ... she is the one who talked me into this. The "noodle" is an item I saved from the trash pile. I'm glad I did, it works great to help me float and relax in the lake.

When Annie doesn't feel secure she stays close to Morgan. So when Morgan is laying in front of the trailer steps, Annie is on step number one just behind her.

Swimming with Morgan Annie guarded by Morgan
Sunday, June 28, 2009: One of my goals in retirement is to get back into good physical condition. My favorite sport is cycling. I actually prefer road biking but mountain biking is a close second. There is more mountain biking here than I have seen in a long time. It will take many rides to get back into good condition to be able to ride for miles without feeling exhausted. You must first build enough leg strength to be able to work hard enough for a good cardiovascular workout. Once you've got the leg strength, then the amount of air you can take in will limit the ride. Finally, after months of training, both leg strength, endurance and the cardiovascular system are matched. More mountain biking than you can imagine
The Great Blue Heron After a long hike with Gwen and Morgan, we came upon these two Sandhill Cranes standing in silhouette in the distance. They kept an eye on us for a while then decided to take to the skies with a very loud, deep throated protest which echoed around the lake. We were hoping to see them again near our trailer but they disappeared. Click the photo to see them taking flight. Note that their legs bend forward at the knee rather than backward as ours do.
Monday, June 29, 2009: I found Gerber Dam on the south side of the South Campground. It is only a short hike from the South Campground parking area. Looking at the dam, apparently the lake if only about ten feet below full. Water is being released from the bottom of the dam. Click the photo to enlarge. Gerber Dam
Miller Creek This is Miller Creek below the dam. There is enough water flowing here to give the impression of a river rather than a creek. There is a primitive campground about 1/4 mile from this location but the campground is not on the creek. Click the photo to enlarge.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009: The Gerber Reservoir is surrounded by a red pumice gravel road. Yes, the bike, the truck and the trailer get covered with this red dust. I decided today was a good day to test my legs so I road around the lake on the red pumice road. This is the junction of the CCC Road and Norcross Springs Road along the east side of the lake. Gravel roads circles the lake
Gerber Recreation Area Map My route was beginning at the Stan H Spring primitive campground where we are camped. I headed east along the Gerber Road to the CCC Road. I continued riding south to the Round Valley Road where I turned north. This took me all the way back to the Gerber Road where I return to our campground. I've only been riding for a week so this was a tough ride for me. It took 2.5 hours and was probably 20+ miles. These roads are not used much. I did not see another human or vehicle of any kind for the entire ride. You can see the area is extensive with many boondocking sites along the way.
Bald Eagle at dusk on the shore Bald Eagle in flight Bald Eagle watching over camp
Thursday, July 2, 2009: We are being watched. We have two Bald Eagles which watch over this end of the lake. I can't tell them apart yet but know they are always watching. The photo to the left was taken at dusk in very poor light conditions, in fact, I had my camera on a tripod shoot at 1/4 second. The lake is pink because the sun has already gone down and the lake is reflecting the pinkish sky. The middle photo is of the eagle in flight directly overhead. I would estimate the wing span at least 8 feet. We figure an eagle this size might even be interested in Annie, our cat as a dinner option. The photo on the right is how the eagle spends much of the day, just watching the lake and our camp. A fisherman decided the night before that he didn't want his single fish catch which appeared to be about 12 inches long so he threw the dead fish back into the lake. The next morning, the eagle, after sitting for about five minutes on this branch, flew to the edge of the lake near where the fisherman had thrown his dead fish. The dead fish was to the eagle's liking. It soon had the fish in his left claw and used the other to push himself off into the air and away he went to share his prize with the family (well, that's what I assume). Click any of the photos to enlarge.

Celebrating with new friends on July 4th
Saturday, July 4, 2009: Here we are, we thought in the "wilderness", yet our new "neighbors", Denis and Barbara invited us to their home for hot dogs and a pot luck Independence Day celebration. Denis and Barbara were on a walk from their home and stopped by our camp on the lake to say hello and meet us. During our short visit we learned a lot about each other. The one thing which really surprised us was learning they stayed in the same area of Arizona we planned to return to in November. We thought it was a secret location but it seems everyone at the celebration already knew about this special place in Arizona and either stayed there in the winter or were planning to visit. After a great meal we had a bean bag toss tournament. Gwen and I won the tournament but the rest of the group really didn't have a chance. That's because Gwen and I are the cow pie throwing contest winners for two years in a row. If you can win a cow pie throwing contest, bean bags are nothing. You can click the photo to enlarge the view.
Lake level is lower
Sunday, July 5, 2009: Tomorrow is a travel day. We will be leaving early in the morning and driving to Burns. We decided not to take the trailer on the "back road byway" knowing that it is gravel for sixty miles. When we arrived at Gerber reservoir, I put a stick in the ground at the edge of the lake. See the pink arrow on the right pointing to the stick. The lake level has lowered somewhat. There is virtually nothing coming into the lake and lots of irrigation water leaving the lake on Miller Creek. I asked Morgan to pose for a photo so you could get the idea of how much the lake has dropped. You will see in Gwen's blog, these last few days, paradise has been failing. In a sense we are retreating or would have been had we not actually planned to leave on this day. That's probably a good thing since Gwen and I were really worried because we started with such a good experience for our first week of retirement. We were worried because, if our first week was perfect, all other experiences would likely be less than perfect. We'd always be trying to match our experience at Gerber. We'd be saying things like, "This is really nice but NOT quite as good as Gerber." Or, "This isn't even close to Gerber!". After you read Gwen's blog, you'll understand, it won't be so hard now to improve upon our Gerber experience.
Monday, July 6, 2009: Today was a travel day north to Burns, Oregon. We passed by Abert Lake which shows very few signs of life. Gwen says it is an alkyl lake. Abert Rim is along the east shore of the lake. It soars about 500 feet above the lake. If you click the photo to enlarge, you can see we are covered with the red dust of Gerber roads. While passing through Lakeview, we stopped at the local Vet to see Dr. Sara. Morgan has been coughing for 24 hours, seemingly trying to get Abert Lake and Abert Rim
Harney County Fairground

something from her throat. Dr. Sara couldn't find anything but gave us some antibiotics and anti-inflamitory pills. Morgan seems to be doing better.

We parked at the Harney County Fairground for $15. We had a huge grassy area which Morgan loves. We were alone and far from any traffic noise. We had power for the vacuum and water for LONG showers. No sewer hookup but a dump station easy to use on exiting in the morning. You can click this photo to enlarge.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009: After cleaning house all morning I got a late morning start for The Steens Mountain Range. We passed through the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge but I noticed these two signs. It doesn't seem like much of a "wildlife refuge" if hunting is allowed.

Once we reached Frenchglen, about an hour from Burns, we drove onto the Steens Loop Road. It is well maintained gravel. So now it's not red dust but gray dust covering both vehicles. Click the dusty road to enlarge the view. After 21.5 miles of gravel we arrived at the Jackman Campground. We had expected to camp at Fish Lake, only 18 miles from Frenchglen but it was full. From the enlarged view, the approach to this mountain range does not look very impressive.

A refuge allows hunting? 21.5 miles of gravel road to our campground
Our campsite a Jackman Campground We found a spot we thought would be perfect but after an hour of maneuvering, gave up and parked in an easier location. We had help from everyone in the campground. Our next door neighbor, Pete and Rhonda asked us to join them for dutch oven lamb roast, potatoes and cornbread. What a treat. The fee here is $6/night but with our "Senior Pass", we get half off so we paid $6 for two nights. I expect to be here longer but the mosquitoes are pretty bad so we don't want to commit to that long right away.
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