Thursday, April 16, 2015

Historic little town of Oakland, Oregon

Historic downtown Oakland, Oregon (Julianne G. Crane)
For RVers who travel through southwest Oregon along I-5, consider taking a couple of hours to explore the small historic town of Oakland and appreciate the architecture of a hundred years ago.

Stearns Hardware 2nd & Locust (Julianne G. Crane)
The town's two-block business district consists of the original brick buildings built between 1852 and 1890. Stearns Hardware (pictured) has been in operation since 1887.  Oakland was the first Oregon city to be placed on the state's historic register, in May 1968.

Outside Tolly's during Christmas Holidays (Julianne G. Crane)
It is said that Oakland has one of the best preserved collections of classic brick storefronts from the 19th Century. Many of the 80 properties are labeled with their vintage and former use. Today these building are transformed into antique stores, collectible shops, restaurants and taverns.

Inside Tolly's Grill & Soda Fountain (Julianne G. Crane)
One eatery, Tolly's Grill & Soda Fountain, is housed in an 1872 building that originally served as the town's Drug Store and Mercantile.

Opened daily, this cozy restaurant features old fashioned homemade sodas and milkshakes at its restored marble topped fountain.

My personal breakfast favorite is the Tolly's Pocket Saver: 2 eggs any style with house breakfast potatoes, choice of toast and fresh coffee. All for $5 on Saturday or Sunday.
Oakland Museum (Julianne G. Crane)
The Oakland Museum features community's history from 1851 to the present. Artifacts, photographs and much more are on display.

The museum is open from 12:30 to 3:30 daily and closed holidays, with no admission for entry.


Oakland is only a few minutes off I-5, Exit 138 or 140 (North / South) between Roseburg and Eugene. Only 2 miles south of Oakland is Sutherlin where there are three RV parks, read about them by clicking here.

 Click on images to enlarge. (Julianne G. Crane)
Upcoming events

- May 9, 2015 - 12th Annual Classic Car Show and Shine, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Registration of cars begins at 8 a.m., $10 per vehicle. To pre register click here.
Live entertainment by the Oregon Oldtime Fiddlers.
- May 16, 2015 - 23rd Annual City Wide Garage Sale, 9 a.m. until sold out or dusk. Call (541) 459-4531.
- June 19-21, 26-28, 2015: Melodrama ‘Rustlers of the Red Rock’ Fri.-Sat. 7 p.m.; Sun. 2 p.m.

To read more articles by Julianne G. Crane go to

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Camp next door to the Grand Canyon -- escape the crowds and payments

Last year, 4.7 million people visited Grand Canyon National Park. The huge bulk of these visited the park's South Rim, easily accessible to the sweeping hoards coming up from Phoenix and such points. This travel season it's likely you won't get a campsite for your RV for love or money, at least not without an early reservation. The campgrounds at the park's main entrance north of Williams are just too popular.

Here's a word to the wise. Your intrepid travel writers of the open boondocks spent several happy days and nights camped out just a raven's wing away from the South Rim entrance station. We paid nothing. We heard almost nothing. We saw very few folks. What's the secret? Boondock in the Kaibab National Forest, which girds the National Park's loins. There's lots of good camping not far from the crazy crowds at the Rim, and Uncle Sam invites you to stay for no fee.

You can 'spy out the land' using Google Maps -- just put in Tusayan, Arizona, as your starting point. Zoom in until the town's details start showing up. You'll find the Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon just east of Highway 180, the main highway running from Interstate 40 up to the big trench in the earth that is the truly Grand Canyon. Behind the hotel (to the right or east) is a road labeled "302." That's Forest Service road 302, just one of many roads snaking through the forest near Tusayan, but this one could be the closest to the park's entrance.

If you want "quick access" to the park, just drive on past the sign that tells you camping is allowed 'beyond this point.'  You'll be less than a mile from the highway, in easy reach of fuel, shopping, and plenty of noise pollution. We made the mistake of pulling off at the first fire pit rings we spotted coming in the 302 road. We had the folding chairs out, the awning unfurled, and a bit of firewood gathered in time for the noisy swarms to begin buzzing the camp. We aren't talking mosquitoes here, folks. These were big mechanical birds that give environmentalists fits: scenic helicopter flights. Apparently those first tempting campsites are right on the main flight line. We managed the noise for a little over an hour, hoping it might shift. It didn't, so we did.

Follow that main forest service road north, then follow it more as it bends east, and keep your eyes peeled. You'll find a variety of little pull-out spots heading off into the woods and meadows that make up this part of the Kaibab National Forest. We found ourselves seven miles east of Tusayan, in some of the quietest country we've landed in for a long time. Yes, a few vehicles run up and down the road, but compared to most places, it's like paradise restored.

We did find we had to take a little caution with the local wildlife. Our traveling houseplants were soon off the rig and out in the sun. Our hanging flower pots were in a famous place -- hanging off the roof access ladder. And my favorite pot of "Hen and Chicks" were soon installed on the ground under the hanging pots, all the better to catch the excess "runoff" water. But by Day Two, our little bit of paradise was likewise discovered by a wayward squirrel -- who discovered a whole new world of flavor in those succulent "Hen and Chicks." The Wife Unit thought the little marauding rodent was a gas as he selectively picked his way through my baby greens, but Mr. Squirrel was soon thwarted when the Hen and Chick family was relocated to the hood of the truck.

There are months of wonderful camping weather just ahead of us. Just be sure you keep your potted peonies secured from rodent rage!