About Palmer the Bear

I am a children's writer who will be transcribing for Palmer the Bear. We are both from southern Oregon, but who knows where you might find him. It will be fun to find out...

McKee Bridge–An Original Pit Stop

Hey, Palmer Bear here. Today we are headed out towards Applegate Lake in southern Oregon to check out a beautiful historical gem called McKee Bridge. This place is fascinating as well as the perfect place for some kid-sized fun.

Dashboard

My seat for the trip. Let’s go!!

 

I know, when most people think of Oregon they figure we all ride horses pulling covered wagons across the Oregon Trail. Or maybe you think we are all good swimmers because this is the state where it always rains. Okay, I forgive. Portland is pretty wet, but I am in southern Oregon and it’s pretty nice.

For those not familiar with the area, Oregon is in the heart of the Pacific Northwest known for wilderness, outdoor recreation, and Bigfoot. It is a great place to play, especially for us bears. My home is in the area of the forest called Medford which is the biggest town in southern Oregon. The city has a population of over 80,000 which is a few too many people for me, but it is forgiven because within an hour drive there are at least three rivers, over ten lakes, and countless places to explore. We are gonna have a lot of fun!!

I am riding on the dashboard because Driver decided to bring Girlie, his co-pilot, so I decided to be a gentleman and let her have my seat. It is another hot summer in Oregon so traveling up into the mountains was a perfect way to cool off. The skies are blue with a few stubborn clouds and my bum is staying cool near the air conditioning vent.

One of the many great things about Oregon is the scenery.  No matter what time of year you are out and about there are green trees. There is lots of plant life and animal life and birds to chase. Sounds like a great day for a picnic, and McKee Bridge on the Applegate River is a beautiful spot to do just that.

So our course is set to head west. From downtown Medford, we take the highway out to Jacksonville (an awesome little town you’ll hear more about later). Making a left at Ruch, a town that is barely a wide spot in the road, and we head out towards Applegate Lake. The drive is relaxing and scenic, following along the Applegate River and winding through trees and farmland. I focused on the road ahead, keeping an eye out for deer. We came across a few families of them and Driver had to slow down so they could cross the road. A little over 20 miles out and on the left is McKee Bridge.

Me Posing On The Sign

Of course, the first thing I did was hop out of the van and dash over to pose on the sign. The air is so crisp and clean here, the first thing you enjoy is a nice, deep breath. All the tall fir and pine trees nearby bring a peaceful hush to the area. There is a cool crunchy sound when you walk on the pine needle ground cover too. No, I did not feel it cuz Driver carries me. After all, I am just a little bear! But he seemed to appreciate it. 

McKee Bridge is a quaint covered bridge built in 1917 and, until 1919, it was used as a rest stop halfway between Jacksonville and Blue Ledge Copper Mine. The bridge was named after Adelbert “Deb” McKee who donated the land. The bridge was used up until 1956 for mining and logging until the bridge was deemed unsafe for traffic.

This was actually my second visit to McKee Bridge. My first was back in 2012 when they were still working on it. But guess what?? It is done. You can actually walk all the way across it, look out the windows at the Applegate River and see the cool old wood and stuff. They even have these boards where you can write your name so no one graffitis the rest of the bridge. Check out the difference between my two visits for yourself.

 

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This was the bridge back in 2012

The bridge was closed for three years because of some rot and issues with the roof but was reopened in June of 2015. Of course, I had to come to check it out so I could show you! It is pretty fun to explore the oldest and longest covered bridge in Jackson County. Check out the improvements:

And once you have had some fun exploring that is only the beginning!! Just below the historical bridge is the cozy, well-groomed McKee Bridge picnic area nestled in the trees. You will find picnic benches and barbecue areas, as well as a bathroom and plenty of parking.

Such a picture perfect area to swim, fish or devour a delicious lunch. Now I know, being a bear, you are expecting me to say that I spent the afternoon running around stealing other people’s picnic baskets but I was very well behaved. 

While the grownups are getting the food ready there is more fun for us small people. First, there is a small irrigation canal which runs right next to the river with a small bridge going across it. Try standing on the bridge and throwing sticks in the water, watching them float under the bridge and out the other side.

Once the food settles, if you can wait that long, is the best part of all. Walk across the bridge and down some stone steps for the best treat of all. McKee Bridge overlooks a fantastic family swim area. There is a little bit of beach for sunning and a good-sized shallow area for younger kiddos.

Older and more adventurous swimmers can paddle across the river to the other side. The current is easy and the water is deep. On the far bank is a tall rock to jump off of and a rope swing. There are even a couple riffles up and downstream a little for the fisher in the family.

The water is clear and cold, but not so cold that it makes your paws hurt. There are places to wade and places to dig. This is the perfect day-trip getaway which has something for the whole family. Bring your blankets, sunscreen, floaties, and plenty of food because you will want to be here all day.

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The Plaque

I hope you enjoyed this bears-eye view of McKee Bridge, an awesome historical picnic area to visit. For more pictures or just to say hello, please find me on Facebook. Look for Palmer Bear. As for me, I am off to a new adventure so I will be checking in again soon. Remember, there is always so much fun around you if you just take the time to explore. Never be bored!

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Independence Day From Bird’s Eye View

Palmer Bear here. It has been a fun-filled summer in southern Oregon and I’ve been spending more time enjoying it than writing about it. I have to tell you about my holiday adventure though. If you are looking for the perfect holiday field trip to celebrate the fourth of July, you will want to climb Table Rock.Table Rock

This is Upper Table Rock, a mountain located in Sams Valley near Medford, Oregon. There are two table rock mesas perched 800 feet above the Rogue Valley. They formed some 9.6 million years ago from a lava flow which snaked down the valley from vents east of Prospect. Since then, erosion wore away the softer surrounding rock, leaving the hard andesite rock capping the U-shaped mesas.

In 1850, a gold strike in Jacksonville attracted miners and settlers to the area. The local Takelma Indians were not tickled by that idea, so they launched an attack in 1853 to get their homeland back. The U.S. Army fought back, forcing the Indians to escape to the top of Upper Table Rock to get away. The Army sent Joe Lane up to have a chat with them. He promised to give them a reservation that included the Table Rocks and a fort nearby to protect them from armed vigilantes. Since he was a good dude and kept his word, he became a hero among the whites and Indians. He even had an Oregon county named after him.

Welcome to the Upper Table Rock Trail

In modern times, more than 10,000 visitors hike this trail every year. In the spring, hikers enjoy the different wildflowers and migratory birds. On July 4th, visitors and local folks pack up picnic lunches and hike up just before dark to enjoy firework displays from all over the Rogue Valley at the same time.

Of course, I had to see it for myself. We packed up and hit the trail which is 1.25 miles to the top. The hike is an easy to moderate walk which gets a little steep in sections. If you want to make the journey, be sure you wear good shoes and bring plenty of water. Also tie a jacket around your waist because as soon as the sun goes down, the air can get a little chilly.

This was my helper, Trinity. She is a great little hiker and we had lots of fun. Thanks Trinity 🙂

Since I have little short legs, I caught a ride with one of my fellow hikers, Trinity. Is she cute or what? She was full of energy and smiles all the way up the hill, and she even learned to stay on the trail to avoid poison oak and not disturb any nature. She is definitely the perfect human-uber (is that a word?)

We paused now and then just to rest or to say hello to a wandering caterpiller or snake. Fortunately, we did not run into any rattlers but we were on the lookout just in case. One fella caught a blue belly lizard and tried to set it on his shoulder but it took off down his back and leg to the ground and kept on running.

 

There is the group just heading up the hill for our hiking adventure. I wanted to ride in Driver’s backpack but he complained about my chubbiness so Trinity said I could travel with her.

The trail is well maintained and the scenery along the way is stunning. There are 70 different types of animals and 340 different kinds of plants, including 200 wildflowers. This is a beautiful place to explore, but I was happy for the ride instead of having to climb on my own. The signs along the trail said not to bring dogs, but I did not see any mention about bears so I was good to go.

Since it was July, the weather was pretty hot heading up the hill. Lots of water is definitely recommended to drink or even pour over hot fur (I mean hair). Most of the trail is gravel with some loose rocks.

Casey and Trinity reaching the flat top of the mesa just as the sun was starting to set. This is such a great picture, I had to share it.

We reached the top of the mesa just as the sun was starting to set. I was even more amazed up close at how flat this mountain truly is. It really was like walking across a tabletop.

As the sun started to go down, the temperatures went down quickly as well. We were glad we thought to bring jackets and blankets even if they weren’t needed during the hot hike up. Dark time was definitely snuggle time.

 

Made it to the TOP!!

The view from the top was FANTASTIC! You could see all over the Rogue Valley:  Medford, Central Point, White City, Eagle Point and maybe even Ashland in the distance. We walked to the side of the mountain that faces Medford and found a spot set against the hillside a little out of the wind. Then we set up our camp for the evening’s festivities.

Mr. Squirrel

As soon as the blankets were set down, the drinks uncapped and the snacks were broken into we had a few visitors who asked to join our little party as well.

These little creatures enjoyed stealing crumbs from our potato chips while we stole the opportunity to get some great pictures. Were these party animals?

 

As the sun set on the surface of the mesa, we snuggled into blankets and watched fireworks shows all over the valley happening at once. Pictures would not do it justice, but that is a show I definitely recommend seeing. I only posted a few of the pictures here, but look me up on Facebook where I will be posting the rest.

Once the show was over, we hiked back down the trail by flashlight. Trinity got a ride on her uncle’s shoulders and I tucked into Driver’s backpack. I don’t think he noticed but I had a nice snooze. A hike out in the beautiful outdoors, a yummy picnic and not just a fireworks show but all the shows at once. Now that was an Independence Day to remember!!

Getting Ready to Roll

Palmer at the Wheel

Somehow, I don’t think this is working.

I am officially on the Net, typing as fast as my little paws will go…well when I am not out exploring. I have a blog or two to keep up with and I am on Facebook as well. Maybe Twitter and Instagram are next? I have been studying maps and weather reports, and I even got myself some sunglasses. Yes, I am definitely ready to roll!!

There is a bit of an issue though. Tire pressure? Check. Nice clean windshield? Check. Gas in the tank? Check. Seat belt fastened and secure? Check. Paws on the wheel and feet on the floor. Okay, we have a bit of an issue. I cannot reach the pedals and we are not going to get really good photos from the driveway. It is time to enlist the help of my buddy.

The Driver

That is Driver. He is a little shy.

This is Driver. He uses a secret agent name cuz he does not want to be famous. He is a fun dude and can definitely reach the pedals. Guess he is not one much for pictures though. He claims it was a bad hair day, but I am not sure I believe that. What do I know? I am just a little bear. Oh well, maybe he can be like that guy Wilson on television who peeks over the fence and all you ever see is his eyes and his hat.

Cruisin in the passenger seat

That’s me in cruise mode, ready to go.

The good news is, Driver is behind the wheel and we are ready to roll. Time for the fun to begin as we set out on lots of adventures. I am ready to explore, and I hope you are ready to join me. See you on the road!

 

Meet Palmer

This is me busy at work…sure is nice to have the home office. I can work in bearly nothing 🙂

Hello from southern Oregon! Palmer Bear here and I am ready for some adventure. Grown-ups have lots of fun every year traveling around our beautiful country, but what about us little bears? What do you say I bring you with me and show you a little fun from our point of view? Let’s do some exploring!

I guess I should tell you a little about me. Hello, I am Palmer Bear and I was born in May 2012. I would shake your hand but well…I don’t have any thumbs. I am just a little bear who likes to tuck into little corners or ride on shoulders and travel with my human companions. You will meet them later. I was named after an awesome lady by the name of Agnes Hansen Palmer…but most of the family called her Grammy. Anyway, enough about me. What do you say we get on the road!!