Is it really time? Is it finally here? It is time to make our way to the NATCOA Rally in Warrenton Oregon. A rally Joanne and I would be hosting and something I started making plans for about a year and half in advance. For larger groups, planning fairly far in advanced is needed. Something we are use too as well since we have hosted several rallies and gatherings. I am just happy the time finally arrived for us to go!
We left the Spokane Washington area after I did a half day at work. Our drive would be about 165 miles away to Plymouth Park campground. A Great little campground that we have stayed a night at a couple times before. We arrived in the late afternoon and got parked for the night. The sun was out, and warmer temperatures were welcoming. We had an enjoyable night although later that night the mosquitoes were pretty vicious and soon sent us inside for the night. It was a quite night and we had a great night’s sleep.
The next morning, we would make our way to Ainsworth State Park near Cascade Locks Oregon. It would only be about 150 mile drive that day. Yes, we took our time and stopped at a few places to explore and indulge. We took Washington highway 14 towards Maryhill Washington. We would stop near John Day Dam to find several geocaches. We then made a stop at the Stonehenge memorial near Maryhill.
After visiting the memorial, we made our way across the Columbia and made a quick stop at an Oregon state park, Deschutes River Recreation Area. Some friends were camped there, and they too would be going to the rally. It was a quick drive by hello, we then made our way to Hood River. Lunch time was coming, and I knew exactly where to go. A brewery of course, pFriem Brewery. We have been there before and knew they had great food and beer. We had a half hour or so before the brewery opened so we walked around and geocached a little bit. There is a great beachfront park in Hood River.
On our drive to Hood River, I had to swerve to avoid a porcupine. It was close and I did miss it…or did I? Evidence showed it was close enough to have some of the porcupine leave with us.
After lunch our next stop was to Bonneville Dam. We have visited the Washington side of the dam but never the Oregon side. The Oregon side has a great fish hatchery to visit and then you can visit the dam too. The visit at the dam is mostly viewing the fish ladder, that was fine but it is pretty limited to see the inside section of the dam. The fish hatchery is really worth the visit. Herman the Sturgeon lives there, a 80 plus year old fish.
Our next drive was about 6 miles from the dam to Ainsworth state park. We would spend the night there. We have never been there before but every Oregon state park we have visited was great. This one turned out to be not anywhere near our favorite though. The spot we had had a severe slope front to back and you had to back in. I did not have the needed 3 plus feet of ramping to get near level. Not only that, ramping that much would put our door to the camper several feet up in the air and no way we could get in. There was no mention of the steep slope on the website for that spot. I will be sending feedback to the state park. So, no way we could park there for the night. There was a Park Ranger making the rounds and we asked if there was any other site we could park for the night. Luckily, there was a site we could use. The other site was much more manageable but still needed to ramp up a good amount. The other issues with the park were, branches crossing into the roads that you had to drive through, paved roads that had potholes and large depressions. Basically, the park needs a good amount of love to get to the standards of what other Oregon state parks have. But at least we got a spot for the night.
The next day we left early. We would be able to check into our rally location early and we had another 125 miles to go, including driving through Portland. We did get stuck in traffic due to a car crash in Portland but other than that, the drive was fine. We took highway 26 from Portland, a highway I have not been on before. It was a nice drive with lots of pretty views.
We arrived at Kamper West Kampground in Warrenton Oregon and got set up. We had plenty to do since we were hosting the rally, lots of items we brought for the rally. So set up took longer than usual. We had the clubhouse at the park as well and had things to set up there too.
The rally would have 29 rigs overall, including us. A couple would be there for 1 night and a couple others for 3 of the nights. The rally would run from Wednesday until Sunday morning. Wednesday night was a simple meet and greet as attendees would be coming in throughout the day. Even a couple late at night. The next morning, I walked around and got pictures of most of the rigs in attendance.
The rallies Joanne and I hold have a pretty open itinerary. We do this so attendees have time to visit the area and visit with others. We would have a cocktail hour sponsored by Stable Camper followed by a chili cook off on the first full day of the rally.
The chili contest had 13 entries and I was amazed at the very different types of chilies. First place got $75 and gifts from Rugged Mountain Custom RV, second, $50 plus the gifts and third $25 plus the gifts.
The next day would start with Bloody Mary’s, sponsored by NATCOA. We had a few take advantage of the morning cocktail but in the end I think if we did mimosas instead it would have been better received. Oh well, we brought what we brought and there were several that thanked us for it.
Jesse and Anca from Rugged Mountain Custom RV had brought Joanne and I a gift for our camper. Another 170-watt Zamp solar panel. Our camper had 2 panels already, but it was designed to have up to three. This was a wonderful surprise, and we really appreciate it. That morning Jesse installed the panel on our camper.
There would be an open house for those that wanted or were willing to show their campers to others. Lots of brands and models were in attendance so that was pretty interesting.
Later that day Jesse would do a presentation on camper design. He wanted to hear feedback on any camper brand, wishes for changes and why manufacturers do the things they do insights.
In the evening Rugged Mountain Custom RV would provide the main course, pulled chicken and pork sandwiches, while others provided side dishes. Another great dinner as a group with plenty of food. If you went hungry that was your fault.
Each night was closed out by little propane campfire gatherings. Many visiting until the late hours. That is one of the great things about a rally, getting to visit.
As a host for a rally, I do not get much time to explore away from the rally. That is something I know that will happen and I do it without remorse. I try to stay up late and I get up early. Checking things out trying to make sure everyone is good to go and having a good time. Getting the clubhouse cleaned and prepped for the next day and so on.
Saturday morning, I got the chance to explore the area a little bit. Joanne and I went with our friend Sally in her Jeep and went to the historic area of Fort Stevens State Park. We would geocache and explore the old military area. We also went to the beach to see the old remains of the shipwreck.
We then went back to the resort. Joanne and I would get in our rig and drive into Astoria to have lunch and find a beer…of course. We did have lunch at a brewery. We then found another brewery to check out and a distillery across the street from there. After that we needed to get back to the rally location.
Saturday night would be our big potluck dinner. Followed by prize giveaways and then the 50/50 drawing. Our last night was followed by a group gathering playing games and sitting around the propane fires chatting.
The next morning would be the farewell breakfast. Looking back, it appears I did not get any pictures. Doh! We had pancakes, sausage and eggs to order as long as it was scrambled. Several takers enjoyed the breakfast meal.
We then said our goodbyes as each one departed. One rig would stay another day. Joanne and I would be heading to Viento State Park near Hood River Oregon that evening. Of course, doing what we do…we would take the long route there. We would cross the river in Astoria at the big bridge then drive through a section of Washington we have not been to before eventually getting back into Oregon and to our spot at the state park.
The next day was to head home. Yes, once again the long way home. We would cross over to Washington at Hood River and have breakfast at a little cafe in Lyle Washington. We then would drive up the Klickitat River. Eventually to Goldendale, a stop for lunch in Sunnyside and eventually home to the Spokane area. We did geocache a bit on the way.
It was a great trip. So wonderful to see friends we have not seen in a long time and to meet new ones. Thank you to all who could attend the rally. We had a great time and hope you did too.