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  • Writer's pictureRobert Gidley

At last—elk!

May 12, 2023 (Fri)

10:55 am Seven Feathers RV Resort, Canyonville, OR

And we’re out of the RV Park with five minutes to spare (mostly because we woke up an hour early!). We noticed that security drove past three times this morning and even though nobody said anything, we figured we might want to mosey on along before we started racking up late fees.

Harvey is going to miss his lovely spot here

11:25 am Seven Feathers

We’re not entirely sure what state laws the Cow Creek tribe are blowing off (certainly the one about you can’t pump your own gas), but the price of gas here is $3.60 a gallon! Since yesterday was a long day, Harvey was extra thirsty, so this little discount saved us about $19. Woot!

12:00 noon Grants Pass, OR

Gini was behind the wheel this morning, and there’s a reason that “Pass” is part of the name of this town. It’s all uphill (or downhill or sometimes both at the same time). The trucks on the freeway all have different ideas about how fast they can (or should) go and as a result, Gini plays slalom with giant semi-trucks with their big diesel engines pitted against Harvey’s V-10 Ford engine.

Gini playing dodge-em with the trucks in the hills of Oregon

Once Harvey gets up to speed, he can zip along pretty well, but if you have to slow down—say, you want to avoid slamming into the back of a semi-truck going 30 mph slower than you are—it takes a bit to get going again.

Gini was not thrilled with this experience and glared at Robert as he took over and just had to drive a twisty windy state highway, while she went in the back and used Harvey’s fainting couch.

All the space in Harvey is used to store things (in this case, Robert’s shoes)

2:00 pm entering California

The last time we entered California a couple of months ago, they made a Big Deal out of the agricultural inspection and warned of Dire Consequences if we tried to blow past it. They made us slow all the way down and then—Never Mind, go on through!

Today, there’s almost no warning and we’re talking to an Agricultural Inspector. We confess to having grapes, tomatoes, and some apples. Turns out all they were interested in was citrus fruit (“We have some lemon Le Croix,” said Robert, but apparently that’s not citrusy enough).

Also, they wanted to make sure we weren’t carrying any firewood (like we have enough storage space for firewood—“Sure, it’s stacked back by the washer/dryer, next to the litter box!”).

3:00 pm Elk Valley, CA

We are discovering that when a Tribal Casino says “We have an RV Resort,” this can mean anything from a luxuriously appointed RV park with a hot tub and a pool (such as Seven Feathers) and sometimes it means a marked off section of a parking lot, and this time it means “Sure, you can stay in our parking lot!”

Still, it’s free and safe (we were told not to worry if we saw flashlights moving in the night—it was either the security team or the Flashlight Bandits).

Our spot at Elk Valley Casino and Sort Of RV Park

3:05 pm Elk Valley Casino, Elk Valley, CA

So, you may be wondering, how this Native Tribe (the Elk Valley Rancheria) got screwed?

Hoo boy. First came the smallpox which wiped out a bunch of the Tolowa (Dee-ni’) Tribe. Then there was the genocide by the state of California. Then some more genocide, wiping out 90% of the population (Gov. Newsom apologized for this in 2019, acknowledging that it was a genocide). That’s one of the two tribes that now comprise the Elk Valley Rancheria Tribe.

The other tribe, the Yurok, also had gold on their lands which didn’t work out too well for them (75% population reduction) between the diseases and the massacres.

The upshot is that these two tribes, which used to number 10,000 people or more, today number about 99 folks. But they have a casino, albeit a small one!

3:30 pm Elk Valley Casino, CA

Last summer, we traipsed all across the Yukon Territory and Alaska (including visiting the exciting village of Chicken, AK). We saw endless signs warning us, “Watch for Elk!”

We watched and we watched and never saw a single elk (although we did see a couple of bears and some buffalo).

Today, Robert is climbing out of Harvey, headed to the Casino, when—“Holy Ruminants! There’s an elk right there at the edge of the parking lot—not 50 yards away!”

“Wait, there’s two elks! Elkses? Elkens?” On pulling out the binoculars (which we finally remembered to take with us), Robert discovers that there are actually 10 elkies in this herd, including two teeny elk, who appear to be suckling, and one big elk who appears ready to send Robert flying across the parking lot if he gets any bright ideas.

Elksies! Two visible here, the other eight are hiding up in the trees

Robert excitedly reports this to the security guy inside the casino, figuring he’ll make an announcement about it to the entire casino and everybody will race out the door and proclaim Robert as a modern-day explorer who successfully rooted out the elusive elk.

“Eh, just ten?” responds the security guy, “You should see the entire herd when it shows up!” Turns out that sometimes the herd—consisting of 80 to 100 elk moseys onto the land next to the parking lot (where they are protected from hunting).

But we did—finally—see some elk. Maybe we’ll encourage them to migrate north to where their signs are.

6:00 pm Elk Valley Casino,

The other casinos we’ve stayed at have had multiple restaurants—six or seven different cuisines, sometimes a buffet, sometimes a high-end restaurant. This casino has a Bar & Grill. Of course, the other casinos were from Tribes that had more than 99 members…

But—the drinks are cheap! It’s only $3.50 for a scotch and soda, which is a bit of a mixed blessing as one is tempted to consume more than one actually should consume. And by “one,” we mean “Robert.”

Luckily, the elk have moved on, so Robert just has to find Harvey (who sticks out!) and not worry about engaging in any mating rituals with male elk.


Friday Travel

Gini & Robert (after 3 scotch and sodas)

Harvey Staff

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