2003-2004 Journal

We began the New Year at Grand Isle, LA much the same as 2002. Fishing has gone from fair to poor. We remained at Grand Isle until the middle of January when we traveled to New Orleans and spent a week at Bayou Segnette State Park. While there Lens sister came down from Portland for a week and we spent a few days playing tourist in and around New Orleans before taking her back to Grand Isle for a few days.

We remained at Grand Isle until the end of January. While at Grand Isle several people we had met on previous visits returned and we got to know them better. We spent the first few days of February in the Baton Rouge area while visiting with some very good friends we had met down at Grand Isle two years ago. They gave us the grand tour of Baton Rouge and feed us some great food!

We then headed on north into Arkansas with an overnight stop in Natchez, Mississippi. We spent a couple of days at Lake Chicot State Park in the Southeast corner of the state and several days in Heber Springs, Arkansas trying to catch some of the big brown trout the Little Red River is noted for.

Did not have any luck with the fishes in Heber Springs. It was so cold I did not try very hard. Maybe next time!

Had to replace a slide out motor on the trailer while in Heber Springs. Thank goodness we had purchased a maintenance contract when we bought the trailer. Have almost covered the cost of the premium with everything we have had done so far (brakes, converter and now the slide out motor).

After Heber Springs we headed on west to Fort Smith, AR for a few days and then on to Oklahoma City to visit with old friends. From Oklahoma City we continued west on to New Mexico with stops in Tucumcari and Albuquerque. While in Albuquerque we took the tram ride to the top of Sandia Peak for an incredible view of the northern New Mexico area you can see for over 200 miles on a clear day. It is over 10,000 feet high and towers better than 4000 feet above the valley floor.

From Albuquerque we headed northwest into Arizona stopping for a night on the Hopi reservation and then on to Lake Powell in southern Utah. Weather remains cool and the cold weather seems to chase us this year. From Lake Powell we continued on to Hurricane, UT (via Kanab). A very interesting day due to near blizzard conditions. We had about 100 miles of white knuckle driving.

We spent three days in Hurricane and then on to Nevada with stops at Tonopah and Fallon. While in Fallon we toured their local county museum. It is well worth the stop if ever passing through Fallon. I also got a brief tour of the Navys Strike Warfare training program. Very impressive!

From Fallon we headed on to Ashland, OR with a one night stop at the Cave Campground near Old Station, CA. This is a Forest Service campground right on the bank of Hat Creek. We spent a week with our daughter and her husband in the Ashland area before heading on to Albany, OR for a visit with our son and his family. While there we made a day trip into Portland for a short visit with Len's sisters and Mother before heading over the Cascade Mountains and home.

We arrived back in dear old Madras on March 23rd. Found the house to be in pretty good shape but found out the irrigation water is really short this year so have decided not to install a new pump this year. Probably won't even bother irrigating as we would only get to water about four times and it just is not worth it as the grass would probably die anyway.

After ten days camped in the driveway we headed out April 3rd and traveled to Fall River where we have been getting quite a lot of the white stuff! Three inches one morning and five another. Just see if we come home this early in the future! Temperature in the 30s during the day and even colder at night.

We found the house to be in great shape and we are really pleased with out renters. Did have a few things to repair. Some minor wind damage to the roof and a garage door spring had broken - certainly nothing the renters did though.

We stayed at the house for a little over a week and then headed to the Sunriver area where we spent two weeks at the Fall River campground. Had several visits with old school buddies of Len's catching up on old times. One we had not seen in nearly thirty years!

We had a little winter while at Fall River. Several mornings we woke with several inches of snow and the temperature dropped to the low 20s every night. From Fall River we headed back to Magone Lake. We arrived at Magone the middle of April.

The first month at Magone this year was VERY cold and white. Most days it never got above 45 degrees and night times were usually in the twenties! Snowed even the 18th of May! Regardless of the cold weather the fishing was great with loads of 10" rainbow trout.

We spent about five months at Magone as Campground Hosts. We made many new friends and strengthened old friendships. Overall, we had a wonderful summer at the lake. We did have a couple of incidents that soured us on the idea of being hosts but when weighed against all the good things, the good far outweighed the bad.

We departed the lake near the end of September and headed for Medford where our daughter was getting ready to have her first baby. Three days after arriving, baby Emelia arrived. Couldn't have timed our arrival any better. We remained with them for two weeks to help out with the baby.

While Medford the truck decided to start having transmission problems again. This made three transmissions and we decided we didn't need to be replacing them every year so started looking for new trucks. Found a new 2003 International 4400 with an International DT530 engine and all tricked out for towing a fifth wheel so we negotiated a price and took delivery in about a week.

From Medford we traveled north to see our son in Albany. While there we stayed with dear friends just outside Lebanon. We had a rack made to carry the boat on top of the truck and installed an automatic loader to get the boat up there.

From there we headed east with stops in Madras and John Day before heading into Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. Hit a little snow crossing over the Rocky Mountains - just enough to make things a little slick.

We stayed in Cheyenne for a week and then continues east through Oklahoma and into Tennessee where we spent a few days near Nashville. We managed to see one performance of the Grand Ogle Spry at the old Reman Auditorium - quite an experience!

From Nashville we headed south via the Natchez Trace Parkway to Jackson, Mississippi where we turned south to Biologic. We stayed there a few days and then west to New Orleans. While there we met a couple from Alberta, Canada and convinced them to venture down to Grand Isle with us for a few days. A few days turned into nearly two months and we had a wonderful time with them.

After a month at Grand Isle we journeyed to New Orleans for the Holidays. Weather was quite cold but we managed to get a few days in New Orleans and Christmas Eve at Gramacy for the Festival of the Bonfires (our fourth year there). They build these massive bonfires (some up to 20 feet tall) of logs and items and set them alight to guide Father Christmas along his rounds. All in all, there are usually eight or more of these fires along the Mississippi River Levy and thousands of people show up for the festival.

We then returned to Grand Isle for another six weeks and caught a few more fish. So many we had to buy a small freezer to keep them! Of course after the freezer was installed the fish quit biting!

Mid February found us back in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. We spent two weeks going to parades and seeing the sights. Had a wonderful time and came away with close to 100 pounds of beads from all the parades!

After Mardi Gras we began our trip west with stops near Conroe and San Antonio, Texas to visit friends. From there it was west to Yuma for a few days and then northward to Oregon. Once again a few days with the kids and then on to Magone for the summer.

Had a really good summer as hosts meeting loads of new people and making a small contribution to the improvements at the lake. Certainly plan to return in 2005 if they want us. As usual, the fishing was great the first part of the summer but begins to slow around mid July as the weather warms up.

We departed the lake the first week of October and traveled to see our kids for a few days and then it was eastward into Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas before finding ourselves at Grand Isle once again. Almost feels like coming home arriving at Grand Isle after all these years.

We made stops to see friends near Dodge City, Oklahoma City and Conroe, Texas but made excellent time coming down this year. Probably the fastest trip we have ever made down here.

Once again, the fishing was great and many old friends were there to see once again. We elected to remain at Grand Isle for the Holidays this year and had a wonderful time with the other campers there.