Saturday, August 5, 2017

Hart Mountain & Steens Mountain, Oregon - July 2017 - Part Three

 please remember you can click on a photo to see a larger version
Something Completely Different For Us

Antithesis to our usual quest for solitude is getting together with a large group. We avoid it. But.............a group of All Terrain Camper owners planned a get together just over the Nevada stateline from our location. The kicker was that our friend Marty, co owner of All Terrain Campers, was planning to attend. Marty is a great guy and to see him take time away from the shop and relax was something we had to see. We really like Marty. Also, ATC owners are a great group of people, always inclusive and invite everyone on the Wander the West forum to attend, regardless of the brand camper you come in. It is hard to find finer folks than this.

So, we thought we'd give it a try. How would our decision turn out?

We arrived at Virgin Springs Campground on the Charles Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge Friday afternoon.The group had  made the wise choice of seizing the high ground.

Most of the group had arrived on Wednesday.

Virgin Springs is no fee camping and is centered around a warm springs pool for swimming and an old block building with warm spring water showers - pretty darn nice. It sits at around 5000 feet in elevation and is nearby to extensive wetlands, an oasis in the desert.

In attendance (the Lady refrained from taking roll, she's retired you know) were -

Don and his dog Bob - aka smokecreek1 on WTW

Marty - aka marty (marty also brought along his long time friend, Delvin, and Delvin's son Delvin Jr.)

Bob - aka K6ON

Craig and his dog Riley - aka Craig333

Grant - aka mynxd

Steve and Fritz the Wonder Dog - aka Wandering Sagebrush

and the Lady and I

After a quick round of introductions, a couple of fishing stories, setting up our camper, the Lady and I headed out in the 95° temperatures to get a closer look at a spectacular gorge we had spotted a little over a mile from camp - Thousand Creek Gorge.

The surrounding landscape was also mighty interesting.

We reached the gorge.

The bottom along Virgin Creek was a tangled riparian zone. Undaunted, the Lady waded right in. I gave up after we hit the swamp area and suggested we climb up to the faint use trail I spotted running along the cliff base on the south side.

Wonderful shelter sites were along the base of the cliffs.

A juvenile wren accompanied us a short distance.

The use trail is a constant up and down scramble.

The geology was amazing. To my very amateur eye it appears the rock has been altered by warm water flowing through it.

This was definitely one of those times we wished for a geologist guide we could pepper with questions.

We traveled down the gorge less than a mile to where the trail got sketchier and lateness of the day told us to return to all our friends back at camp.

We encountered a feral ass with an attitude on our way back. A beat up male, he tried aggressive posturing and vocalizations. Our "don't even try messing with us" response sent him running.

He got a safe distance away and watched us go.

We'd much rather see native large mammals than these invasives.

The group was discussing starting the potluck dinner for Friday evening when we returned.

Bob politely let me take a photo after I told him we'd never camped with someone like him before.

Bob was entitled to do anything he wanted. It was his birthday! Marty brought out a bottle of champagne to toast Bob on his birthday. And no fears, Bob is a good guy.

The Lady produced the special gift we had picked up for Marty, a bottle Of Whorehouse Meadows Wheat brewed by the Steens Mountain Brewing Company.

It was a very nice, relaxed, and friendly atmosphere; just right.

Pictured above, from the left, are Grant, Marty, Bob, and Don with Bob.

I had a great conversation with Bob the dog. He told me about, a few years back, getting rattlesnake bit at Page Springs at Steens. Their next stop was Virgin Springs and Don, his master, found a holistic doctor who offered to treat Bob and fixed him right up. Bob now says Virgin Springs is his favorite place in the whole world.  I asked Don about the snake bit episode and he confirmed every detail, just the way Bob told it. Don said he is so glad old Bob can still chase after the tennis balls he throws and occasionally take over driving the truck when he gets tired.

One of the highlights for the Lady and me was meeting Grant from British Columbia.

Grant was traveling with his All Terrain Camper.

Grant is a fine gentleman. Use to his cool climate at home up north, the hot temperatures here at Virgin Springs were trying for Grant.

It was time to get the vittles together.

Marty's buddy, Delvin, is a master griller, besides being a good guy also.

Not only can he grill, Delvin brought along his own homegrown beef!

Remember it was a potluck. The wieners on the grill were shared by Don. These were not lowly, run of the mill wieners. These were honest to goodness locally grown and processed in Susanville, Don's home port. Wrapped up in a bun, after Delvin's expert grilling, smothered in fresh onion and coated with Chinese hot mustard, my god were these good! Best wiener I've ever had.

Steve brought cranberry, pinot noir marinated meat balls. Excellent! Steve did confide to us that his fridge door came ajar on some washboard and the meatballs bounced round the camper a bit. We promised not to tell anyone.

Dining on Delvin's fillet strips, spicy meatballs, Don's wieners, and Steve's meatballs sure filled the bill for meats. Craig provided salad and we brought along chips and salsa, the finest the small store in Fields, Oregon sold.

Please forgive me, if I've left anyone out. It was an excellent potluck.

In honor of Bob's birthday, Delvin grilled up a special T-bone steak for Bob.

Bob gave a hearty "Thank you!" and then right to work.

Craig helped keep Bob on task with entertaining stories. I did not hear Craig mumble even once.

Riley helped Bob with the bone from the steak, finished his beer.........................

.........................and then took a nap.

Since Steve is known as Wandering Sagebrush, and he was surrounded by sage, a photo was in order.

Fritz the Wonder Dog was by Steve's side and obviously full of energy.

The Lady asked if it was okay if she took Fritz for a walk. Off they went. I followed along behind.

The Lady explained to Fritz, "Yes Fritz, those are birds. Yes, those are birds."

The evening light settled in around us as we walked.

The Lady and Fritz had a grand time together.

Smoke from a wildland fire off to the west provided dramatic light at sunset.

Folks at camp had settled into a comfortable evening of conversation. A few spatterings of rain and dropping temperatures were a welcome relief. 

Temperatures on Saturday were predicted to reach 100° at Virgin Springs. The weekend crowd was spilling in to the campground. The consensus among the group was to head our separate ways on Saturday morning. Marty and Delvin were heading home. Grant was returning to Canada. Craig, Bob, and Don were heading up to Steens. Where would we head?

A heartfelt thank you to everyone at the gathering for your hospitality, kindness, and friendship. We are glad we joined you all. Throw another one of these shindigs, be sure and invite Delvin and one of his cows, Don and his wieners, and all the rest of you, and we just might show up again. Bob the dog told me he has a few more stories to share.

Our adventure continues in Part Four. Please Click Here


  1. Did Bob mention that Smoke was making him drive most of the way?

    1. Bob the dog said, "If I had a thumb, I'd pull my drivers license out of my wallet and show it to you!"