Riverbend Campground, near Olympia, Washington
A Stop on the Phoenix's Grand Fossil Tour
By Jim Fulton
Well, the circle is closed. All right, the winding, convoluted, self-crossing loop is closed. There! Satisfied? In any case I made it back whence I started this Grand Fossil Tour. Not the same site, but the same campground, Riverbend, in Nisqually, just east of Olympia. And there I stayed for a month, before moving to Bothell, Washington, to be closer to family. It was nice to be back ... if not home, at least where things are familiar.
|Arrival||Day of Tour||Nights Stayed||Departure||Mileage|
The Phoenix has revised the appearance of new entries in his blog of his Grand Fossil Tour: The various sections are sometimes collapsed under their respective titles. Click on the + to expand any section you choose; click on the × to collapse it.
Often the structure of the page will be so obvious, that the Page Contents section won't be shown at all.
The Journey to Olympia
Before I left Stanfield, Oregon, I went to a convenient truck and RV wash, and had them give Moby Richard and Phoenix Nest a bath. Yes, I know, it was almost November; the rain and grime were inevitable. But I couldn't pollute properly pristine Washington with East Coast grime, could I? So my vehicles were nice and clean. But you know what that meant! No sooner was I on the road than I saw dark clouds up ahead. That particular rain veered east, but when I got to Portland, the state of Washington was so happy to see me, she reached down into Oregon and gave me a big, wet kiss! Then when I crossed the Columbia River and actually returned to my chosen home state, she got positively slobbery! Think wipers on extra fast, and quarter mile visibility, in heavy Vancouver, Washington, traffic. (Another possible reason that Washington sent me that rain was that she didn't trust Oregon truck washers to eliminate all that filth from other states.)
But let's start at the beginning. I have seen some pretty scenery on my tour, but the Columbia Gorge has to be the best long drive of all. The only place that comes close for intense super-scenery was the Cape Breton Highlands in Nova Scotia. (I've yet to drive i-70 through Colorado on the Tour, but I remember from past experiences that it too is marvelous!)
I picked up the Columbia west of Boardman. For a long while, there's a cross-river asymmetry in the terrain, with Washington presenting tall, folded, yellow dunes to the river, while Oregon showed rolling farming country. During this section, Oregon hid the river from the highway with a tall spite fence, topped by a railroad track, and I could only see the river when I crested a hill.
Then both sides showed their violent history with tall, basalt cliffs, layer after layer of massive amounts of cooled lava. In places these layers of basalt were bent. Imagine the force that could push mountains of rock upward! That must have been some belch from some undigested piece of the Pacific Plate that the North American Plate swallowed!
West of The Dalles, the scenery began to change to forest of the western Cascades. Mixed conifers and deciduous, with the green firs dominant, but sprinkled generously with maples and other hardwoods, gloriously gold in honor of the season.
I got to thinking about why I like driving through places like that. I'm not a scientist. Nor am I a historian, nor a documentarian. I don't really want to know the fine details of any particular phenomenon. But I want to see it all. I want to understand it all.
I think I see nature as art. And , performance art at that. All those performers - not only people but all animals, individually and in their herds and communities; plants, individually and as forests and fields; rocks, mountains, rivers - all living out stochastic and intentional variations on their life cycles, all in vastly different time frames, all jostling to survive, all joining in a vast, ever changing worldscape. It is awesome. It is inspiring. It is beautiful!
Anyway, I made it, despite an ominous message from Kerry, a Facebook friend: "How did he die? Boredom. Drove through too many boring states and his brain shut down. Too bad. He was almost home...." No, Kerry. I wasn't bored. I might have been tired, but I wasn't bored. I saw Nature's beauty everywhere. And i was awestruck.
Maps of Journey
Maps of the Phoenix's journey to, around, and from Olympia, Washington.
I stayed at Riverbend Campground back in 2017, when I made my transition from house-bound to traveler. Over the past year and a half, I've visited a lot of campgrounds, giving me a far broader basis for comparison.
Riverbend is mainly a membership campground that has a few sites available for transients. It is a large, rambling, well-wooded area along southern banks of the Nisqually River, where the salmon run several times a year, a relaxed place to stay for a week or for years (if you can get a membership).
My site this time was just outside the main entrance, which meant I didn't have to trouble with raising the gate when I came in, or the frequent, sharp speed bumps of the interior lanes. The cellular service was poor, quite insufficient to support adequate wifi using my mobile hotspot. So I rented a cable modem from Comcast for my stay.
I have included only a few photos below. There are far more in the earlier edition of this journal, and since they were taken in June rather than November, they reveal the park more attractively.
Photo Gallery for Riverbend Campground
My next stop after leaving Olympia was Bothell, Washington, where I planned to stay for a few months to be close to family for the holidays and winter.
Comments and Conversation
Readers of the Phoenix Nest have sent me comments about this page, which I include below, arranged by topic, along with any replies I have made.
Conversation 1: TOPIC1
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I have always embedded Google Maps™ of my routes from place to place. These maps not only gave you a general overview of where I was, they allowed you to open that route in Google Maps itself, to zoom in and out as you willed, in order to look more closely at the geography of my travels.
I am sad to report that I can no longer show you Google Maps™ of my routes. Google, in its infinite corporate wisdom, now charges a fee to embed such"advanced" features, a cost which a pro bono site like this cannot endure.
From now on, I will only show you Google Maps™ of the previous, current, and next locations where I stay (at least until Google gets even greedier, and puts a price on those too). In addition, I will show you non-interactive images (screen shots) of maps of my routes. All maps will be included in the Journey section of the blog (rather than having the next destination map at the end).
Nonetheless, you can still view my route, in Google Maps™, at no cost to either of us (yet). On either the Current Location or the Next Destination map:
- Click on "View larger map" to open the map in Google Maps™.
- Click on the "Directions" button.
- If you opened the Current Location map, replace"Your location" with "Stanfield, Oregon".
- If you opened the Next Destination map, replace"Your location" with "Olympia, Washington".
- Hit Return.
Of course this procedure doesn't show you which among alternative routes I took, or what side trips I ventured on, or what strange adventures my phone's GPS might have sent me down, but I will give you an approximation of my route.