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Back Roads in Oregon

Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
5,846
Location
Exit. Stage West.
Tomorrow we embark on a 3.5-week trip to Oregon. Fourteen of those days will be riding and exploring the back country in Central OR, riding, living and camping on two little bikes. For a brief time, I'm dropping out of this rat race and dropping back into the life I knew (and miss). I'm going 'Home'. :sun:

I'll update the website when I have wifi access, which I know I won't for 14 days. But I should be able to find it while in the Willamette Valley for an update or two. Perhaps a time or two on the return trip.

No Spot, no cell phones (no signal), no radios, no TV, no sirens, no horns, no Internet, no iPhones!. Only the back country and knobby tires.

Y'all enjoy the heat. :mrgreen:

Back Roads in Oregon

 
Joined
Dec 10, 2005
Messages
2,359
Location
kilgore
Is that Steens Mountain?
I spent eight years in the Willamette Valley and many weekends camping in the Cascades as well as in Central Oregon.
Wonderful place to live, still a great place to visit.
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
5,846
Location
Exit. Stage West.
Is that Steens Mountain?
I spent eight years in the Willamette Valley and many weekends camping in the Cascades as well as in Central Oregon.
Wonderful place to live, still a great place to visit.
Yes, it is the Steens.
I spent 12 years in Corvallis area, with camping/hiking/swimming/etc mostly in the Cascades and Coast, only a bit in Central OR. Not enough, so I'm going back for more. :mrgreen:
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
5,846
Location
Exit. Stage West.
Highways in the West

Haven't had Internet access. Borrowing a laptop to upload some photos and check in.

Saw many of these (I love trains ;-) )
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Stopped in Utah to visit with friend Lyle.
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I love the West! More moving pictures.

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We're going to the coast for the day.
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
5,846
Location
Exit. Stage West.
13 Days on the Roads and Don't Want to Go Home Tonight

We slid back into a reality that is in between what we left three weeks ago, and what we spent two weeks riding through on our little ponies. Arrived in Prineville earlier today.......... I've lost track of time and days Sun was about mid-point in the sky.

It took us 4.5 hours to ride 93 miles. Why? Because we rode up to 6K feet and down, through forests of trees with thick bark scales of which all the snakes would be jealous, sat on the bikes with engines off watching antelopes play, argued with a big black bull (brangusbuffalelk -cross between an Angus/buffalo/elk ), gazed longingly at the prairies on the summit, zigzagged playfully on the moist dust-free gravel and, well, wished we didn't have to go any further.

I have to say, however, that tonight's dinner in Prineville was scrumptious.

Met many people on the road and in campsites, many we hope to see again. Special thanks to Greg from High Desert Adventures for route suggestions and helping us safely harbor the truck and poop-up (not a typo) camper for the time we were gone.

I have over 4GB of photos and almost 12GB of video to download, sort and upload before I start a travelogue. So it will be awhile before anything appears online. Tomorrow we begin the journey back to TX, starting with the Painted Hills near Mitchell.

AND...... we'll be back next year. The kids postponed the wedding due to unforeseen circumstances. And if they wait until after Sept. 1 next year, we won't have a deadline to return to TX! (retirement!!!)
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
5,846
Location
Exit. Stage West.
Re: 13 Days on the Roads and Don't Want to Go Home Tonight

Is that like a jackalope but bigger? ;-)
Sorta. We met a LOT of cows on the back roads. The last one, on the last day in the Ochoco Nat. Forest, was a hyoooooge black bull that was not in the mind to move. Ed has a funny story about that one. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the video cam out of my tank bag fast enough to capture the entire episode.

I do, however, have a vid of a sheep drive down a back road in the mountains north of Burns. That was way cool.
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
5,846
Location
Exit. Stage West.
Post-journey

Stepping from the TARDIS vehicle and back into present civilization was culture shock after being in the back country for nearly three weeks. Texas greeted me with sneezing and stuffed sinuses, humid heat, no water and food at home, and a mountain of stuff to go through. I let it sit for awhile, grinning at the irony of camping out in my own house after 3+ weeks of it elsewhere.

After having water restored to the house, picking up some groceries ("Where's the dehydrated items?"), an hour-late train, and an entertaining dentist appointment, all 7+ GB of photos are downloaded. Along with Goddess-knows-how-many GB of video clips.

All the papers, maps, brochures are sorted by state ready for archiving for later reference and use. And they will be used. Haven't answered emails yet. Having posted anything anywhere. I'm still between here and there. More there than here.

The good stuff is the Pull-the-Plug Countdown: 49 weeks 'till retirement (semi-R).

Going through and sorting the too-many photos will take days (if not weeks). Videos, too. But I have one (okay, a few) to share right off the bat. A video uploading for later, too.

I need a sabbatical ;)

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Joined
Feb 1, 2007
Messages
2,225
Location
Ten Sleep, WY
TexasShadow -

I had to look back at how I'd done it in the past, but try this. It's convoluted but it works. Click on the "embed" button in the video and "cut" the text shown. Then paste it into your thread between these tags {flash} and {/flash} and remove all but the "http://vimeo.com/ part....

For example
{flash}http://vimeo.com/............{/flash}

You need to change these {} brackets with []!! I can't put the correct brackets in the explanation or it tries to embed video.


Let me try it quickly and make sure I remember where to end the cutting.

Time passes.....
Hmmm I can't seem to get yours to work.... I wonder if it's because I'm not the owner of the video?

When I post a video that I own, the text looks like this (with the correct brackets installed)
{flash}http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=12447158&amp{/flash}

Tick tock...
Ok the darned thing works. What I had to do was click on the "use old embed code" or something like that on the top of the window that opens when you try to "embed" the link. At that point I was able to cut and past the following text...

{flash}http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=15259847&amp{/flash} with the brackets replaced of course.

So apparently Vimeo has changed their embed text to support Ipads and such.... but I'm not sure how to get the new embed code to work or even if it will work. Once I went back to the old code I was able to get it to work.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
5,846
Location
Exit. Stage West.
Ok the darned thing works. What I had to do was click on the "use old embed code" or something like that on the top of the window that opens when you try to "embed" the link. At that point I was able to cut and past the following text...

{flash}http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=15259847&amp{/flash} with the brackets replaced of course.

So apparently Vimeo has changed their embed text to support Ipads and such.... but I'm not sure how to get the new embed code to work or even if it will work. Once I went back to the old code I was able to get it to work.
I tried several times using the new embed code following your suggestions. Then tried the old code (which worked on my blogsite) and tinkered with exactly what text to remove for this forum. I succeeded right after you embedded the vid. But I never would have been successful without your suggestions. Thanks!

I did several day narrations with Ed manning the Kodak Xi8 vid camera, including an interview with Wiley on our last day in Oregon and a narration in the snow on Steens Mnt. I've discovered how fun having this pocket video recorder can be. :trust:
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
5,846
Location
Exit. Stage West.
Cool video BTW, I like the sound track :) We used to play paintball out towards Burns...
We will probably be spending many summers in Central/Eastern Oregon after I retire next year. I had three job opportunities (seasonal) (Diamond/Malheur NWR, JD Fossil Beds NM and Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah), so seasonal work will be relatively easy to come by.

Riders are welcome to come visit. The riding there.......no words can describe the numerous roads/trails, the vast land they cover, and the magnificent geography/geology/terrain they traverse. And Oregonians are the friendliest people I've met in this country.
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
5,846
Location
Exit. Stage West.
Fort Rock Basin in Oregon

We spent many days in Lake County. One of the most memorable is the Fort Rock area. Hard to believe that this basin was once the bottom of an ocean, and later, a huge land-bound lake. Now it is the Oregon High Desert with many geological features that demand time spent exploring.

Ironically, the video embedded below was aired on Oregon Public Broadcasting station only a few days before we rode onto the basin. We heard mention of Reub Long several times by the locals, with much respect and endearment. The largest geological wonder there -Fort Rock- is a tribute to the land and a man that loved it.

The setting sun reflected on the east side of the walls of Fort Rock from above our campsite. And a view of the same east wall photographed from inside during our hike the next morning.

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Edit: Well, feeble attempt again to embed the video failed...again. So here's the Link instead. :roll:
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
5,846
Location
Exit. Stage West.
Oregon or Bust!

The goal was to arrive in Albany, OR, by Friday afternoon (August 27th) after leaving the Dallas/Fort Worth area after a day of work. It should have been pretty straight forward, but we had a few (mis)adventures along the way. In fact, it could have been a bust. But we made it after all. And we now know what areas to avoid the next time we go.

Ed has already led into this story in another thread, but I have a few different approaches and photos. So two perspectives can be viewed on this trip. Regardless, a condensed version posted here, and mostly excerpted from the website. Video clips will be uploaded there as well. Later, when I have more time to put them together. Vids will include several daily narratives while on the bikes, too.

Okay, on with the trip........

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Moving Pictures-Cornfields

We left my place after I got home from work that Tuesday evening. I finished putting stuff together, loading it into the truck and we were finally off. After months of preparing and anticipation, we were finally on the road.

Where are thou camping spot?

As we ascended the Llano Estacado, towns assumed that level prairie look: flat horizons, barbed-wire fencing along the highways, fields of grains, bovines dotting green pastures. And trains. Most of the highways in Texas (and elsewhere, as I learned along this trip) run along the rail lines. Granaries and silos tower over small towns revealing their economic base. Some were disused, others still in service. I especially liked the image in Dalhart of the silo behind the colorful local motel and sporting the signage: "Dalhart Consumers". As if it was a draw to the town, or simply a generic description of every community and the basis of our nation in modern America: consumerism.

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Dusk was quickly descending as we approached a town where we might camp overnight. At least, from what I read on the Internet. A member of a forum on free camping locations posted a city park in the Texas town of Dumas (gleefully pronounced by some as 'Dumb-***'). No address was provided, only the description of next to the railroad tracks west of town. We drove around searching for such a park and found only ball fields next to a school and a large parking lot. Next to the cemetery.

Tired and hungry, we drove to a nearby gas station to ask and met with blank unfriendly stares. No help there. So back to the parking lot next to the ball fields. After backing in next to a temporary mobile structure, we quickly and quietly expanded the pop-up camper and crawled under the sheets. After being in 106 degree heat near the DFW area, the cool night there made us shiver and we added a blanket and quilt to the bed. Sleep was broken into wakenings by every single train that rolled through town blaring horns, and there were many trains.

I woke before dawn to the sound of tires pulling in next to us. They departed as slowly as they pulled up. 'Let's get out of here,' was the only thought in my mind. Dressing quickly in the dewy morning chill, we packed up the camper as more vehicles and then school buses pulled into the parking lot. I was glad to be out of there, and away from the town. I crossed that town off my list of 'Future Night Spots'.

I rejoiced when we crossed the state line into New Mexico.
 
Joined
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Messages
5,846
Location
Exit. Stage West.
North to Colorado

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Entering New Mexico always elicits a rejuvenated excitement. Like a plate filled from a multi-course dinner served with anticipation, abandonment, freedom, joy and exhilaration of just being on the road. This time was no different. And I love the long sweeping roll of the highway in northeast New Mexico; it's like a carpet that just unrolls under your wheels.

The highways were bordered by yellow flowers. In fact, everything seemed yellow and happy. Even the license plates. The terrain was greener than I remembered since the last time riding through in the fall of 2006. Passing by a familiar small lake south of the highway where I had pulled over to photographs cows in the pastures, I smiled at the irony that they were still there.

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Veering north and entering Colorado is climactic. The first thing we do is climb mountains. Real mountains. We pulled off long enough to breathe in the mountains and remind ourselves that they exist. We tend to forget that when living in Texas.

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We saw very little wildlife on the road. I was hoping to see a bison somewhere, but this is the closest we got to that. A big wooden (or metal?) bison mounted on top of this hill. Along next to a radio repeater. Ah well.

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Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
5,846
Location
Exit. Stage West.
Wyoming Power

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Power to what?

As we drove through Wyoming we observed an interesting lesson in evolution of power generation. Looking northwest we saw a huge hovering cloud of black smoke. My first thought was 'Fire!' But as we drove closer, a large coal energy plant was the source. Thick black smoke poured out of the high stacks and hung suspended over the brown surface.

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Ironically, on the opposite side of the highway was another power plant, but powered by natural gas. At least the air was cleaner.

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And then another one.

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Then several miles ahead were familiar wind turbines, which I call Texas Sunflowers because fields of them there are so common. I am curious where all this generated energy goes. I can't imagine that it is all used by communities in Wyoming. Or perhaps we merely traveled through their region where energy production is dense.

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It certainly makes me more energy conscious than I was.
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
5,846
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Exit. Stage West.
Our Own Private Utah and Idaho

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Utah should be dubbed as the 'Color State'. No sooner than crossing the state line and colors of the Colorado Plateau and Green River Basin become visible. Sweeping mountains with ribbons of pastel shades in the cliffs of the valleys in which the Interstate winds through are eye candy. And, as in other mountain states, railroad tracts usually run side-by-side with the roads, making use of the more accessible gaps.

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We stopped for lunch in Morgan, Utah, miles east of Ogden. Friend Lyle from near Provo rode his motorcycle north to share lunch and a visit. It was an excellent break and reunion.

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Joined
Jun 7, 2006
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Exit. Stage West.
Idaho

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We followed, and many times skirted, isolated thunder storms in the west. Searing lightening bolts on the horizon and to the south of us elicited oooh's and wow's. Rain squalls were small and even more isolated. I suspected that a few grass fires would probably start without the rain. Further west I was not surprised to see thin columns of dark smoke arising from behind a hill. As we drove closer, my suspicions were confirmed of a lightning strike fire. A few miles west I spotted two BLM fire responders heading there. A common occurrence in the western lands.

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More photos and narrative can be found in this section: Oregon or Bust!

Still working on the trip from the OR/ID border to Albany, OR. So.....
to be continued.
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Joined
Feb 1, 2007
Messages
2,225
Location
Ten Sleep, WY
Re: Wyoming Power



I can't imagine that it is all used by communities in Wyoming. Or perhaps we merely traveled through their region where energy production is dense.


If I had to take a wild guess, I'd bet all that nasty coal fired power goes directly to the Front Range Megatropolis to supply all of the holier-than-though trustafarians in Boulder with their power. ;-)
 
Joined
Dec 10, 2005
Messages
2,359
Location
kilgore
Re: Wyoming Power

If I had to take a wild guess, I'd bet all that nasty coal fired power goes directly to the Front Range Megatropolis to supply all of the holier-than-though trustafarians in Boulder with their power. ;-)
It's been a while since I lived in the west, but I'd hazard a guess that it feeds into a regional power grid and winds up in Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming...
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
5,846
Location
Exit. Stage West.
The Oregon Trail

Along the Oregon Trail

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Interstate 84 slides into Oregon at Ontario. The paved surface closely follows the general trail of the emigrants of the early 1840's through 1869. The wide and slow moving water of the river in the valley near Ontario provided an easier crossing than the high and treacherous river canyons north and south. Of course, the wagons had to then follow the Snake River through the mountain range west of the valley.

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Indian Head and Dead Indian Ridge. A gap in between a mountain range cut by the Snake River. Interstate 84 and the Oregon Trail ran through this gap following an old Indian trail. We would be spending the night just across the river from this ridge.

Farewell Bend on the Snake River


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We spent the night at Farewell Bend State Park on the riverside. Many Oregon Trail emigrants traveled through the Snake River country for over 300 miles. Hardship and danger were constant companions, and river crossings were especially challenging. But the rivers also sustained life providing water and fish. This section of the trail veered northwest away from the river which is where the name of the bend derived. The flat bottom and grass here often served as a camping area for both natives and emigrants.

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As we unpacked the borrowed pop-up camper, we discovered an issue which would plague us the rest of our entire trip: it was coming apart. You can read about the poop-up camper on the website. Suffice to say, Red Green would be proud.

We strolled down to the river and delighted in the views across to Indian Head Ridge. One lone fishing boat dotted the water and geese were everywhere. The water reflected light before the sun rose over the ridge.

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This campground is a wonderful place to stay. Quiet and peaceful, I can imagine how it might have been 200 or more years ago. But neither the emigrants on the Oregon Trail nor I at the time ever suspected that this land, as well as all of the Blue Mountains and it's sub-ranges, were once volcanic islands far out in an ocean that would become the Pacific. And near here was at one time, more than 160 million years ago, the coastline of the North American continent.

I look forward to returning here some time in the following years for an an extended stay. Along with the little dirt-worth bikes, for there are many gravel roads along the Snake river and the base of these mountains that I want to explore.

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Joined
Jun 7, 2006
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5,846
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Exit. Stage West.
I have not been able to find anything (via google search) that mentions where those names were derived. I did find information on the Weiser Shoshone that lived in that area; they were friendly to the whites until they were kicked off their lands. On the other hand, the Bannocks and Paiutes around the area were hostile from the start. The Weiser band tried to remain isolated from both the whites and the hostile groups, sometimes even mediating between the two to avoid hostility. However, as tension increased, all Indians bands and groups were lumped into one box as 'bad'. So they were all dealt with the same treatment regardless of their own merit, because they were 'Indian'.

This was repeated here in WWII when all Japanese/Japanese-Americans were interred in concentration camps. So much for learning from past behavior......(aka history).

Oregon and Texas are almost polar opposites in many ways, similar in others. One obvious difference is toponyms, names given to places and locations (a hobby interest of mine). In TX, nearly all names are personal; in other words, places, features, locations named after people. In Oregon, nearly all names are descriptive, based on the visual appearance or an event that occurred there (or in the area).

For example, the river Donner und Blitzen, which is German for 'thunder and lightening'. When a small military band crossed this river near Steens Mountain in the middle of a big thunder storm in the mid-1800's, it left such an impression on the capt. that he gave it the name that it bears to this day. Whorehouse Meadow on Steens Mnt. was named for.....self-explanatory (women tented there to 'serve' the trappers/miners/sheep herders). And the name still exists on the maps. Ironically, John Day River was named after a trapper who was never within 80 or so miles of the river.

'Reading' a map topo of Oregon is just as entertaining as reading a mystery book. In TX..... boring.

Toponyms tend to follow trends of cultures and history. Indian names were very much a part of their lives and language. Most place names told a story. The Apache still use place names in conversation for meaning, rather than a long tirade of words. Names are very much a part of their language and used accordingly. Indian names are also descriptive. They didn't name places and features after other Indians.

The Spanish used names associated with their religion and religious characters or persona. The Anglos renamed Indian names, basically washing away the Indian and covering it with their own versions, some variations of Indian names, others completely supplanted with mostly pronouns, a person's name.

These trends of naming things reveals aspects of culture and attitudes.
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
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5,846
Location
Exit. Stage West.
Blue Mountains and Deadman Pass

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The Oregon Trail and modern-day Interstate 84 wind and meander through the Blue Mountains in NE Oregon. Here are the oldest mountains in the state. The sub-ranges of the Blue Mountains were once an arc of volcanic islands thousands of miles south and further west in a giant ocean called Panthalassa. The volcanic islands violently merged with the coast of the North American continent through plate tectonics, between 119 and 95 millions years ago.

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I caught the full moon almost every morning ;-)

We began the ascent up into the Blue Mnts. Leaving the valley, the grasslands began mixing with the fir, pine and spruce trees.

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We stopped at a rest area nicely isolated from the highway by thick stand of tall trees. Interpretive murals guided readers along the Oregon Trail and two hiking trails led to long sections of the trail with visible ruts.

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It was after this stop that we were treated to a view that still lingers: the descent down Emigrant Hill.
 
Joined
Oct 29, 2006
Messages
469
Location
Bartonville, TX
As you follow the Snake river through Idaho you pass Massacre Rocks. Named for an ambush of a wagon train by Indians. So, there was some quid pro quo.

Pat McDonald

Those names, Indian Head and Dead Indian Ridge, don't leave much to the imagination as to what happened there. Keep posting. :-)
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
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Exit. Stage West.
As you follow the Snake river through Idaho you pass Massacre Rocks. Named for an ambush of a wagon train by Indians. So, there was some quid pro quo.
Oh, no doubt about that. I certainly don't consider all the natives as angels. Accordingly, neither side of the argument went unprovoked.
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
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5,846
Location
Exit. Stage West.
Emigrant Hill

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Shortly after cresting the mountain at Deadman's Pass, the descent begins. This summit is known as Emigrant Hill for the Oregon Trail that winds precipitously down into the valley where Pendleton now lays. It is often referred to as 'Cabbage Hill', curiously named for a large area on top of the hill where a woman grew cabbage for market. But the summit of Cabbage Hill is south of Emigrant Hill's summit.

This hill would strike both awe and terror in the emigrants. The original trail can still be followed with Oregon Hwy 30 and County Road 937 into Pendleton. It literally snakes down the slope with a drop of over 2,000 feet in about 7 miles. Many wagons and lives of both humans and animals were lost in navigating this section of the trail.

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Interstate 84, which closely follows the Trail on the southern slope (in between Emigrant and Cabbage Hills), is also notorious for treacherous conditions, especially in winter, because of the steep double hair-pin downgrades. Most of the accidents involve out-of-state freight trucks, 59% attributable to brake failures.

This section of I-84 is widely divided between east and west-bound traffic, each with their own safety rest area. Cut into the slopes, the paved area provides the most magnificent views of the valleys below. On a clear day, the Cascades loom on the western horizon.

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I found a quote from the diary of an emigrant on the Oregon Trail that aptly describes this mountain and its descent. I can empathize. Yet another vista was to rival that, and win, many days later on the top of Steens Mountain.

The sight from this mountain top is one to be remembered while life lasts. It affects me as did my first sight of the ocean, or again, my first sight of the seeming boundless treeless plains before we saw the Platte River…Looking across this grand valley westward the dark blue line of the Cascade Range of Mountains appears a forest-clad and impassable wall, out of which arise two immense white cones called, as I subsequently learned, Mount Hood and Mount Adams.
--John Minto, 1844



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Next: Columbia Gorge
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
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5,846
Location
Exit. Stage West.
Columbia Gorge-eous

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This trip back home was a cacophony of many opposing feelings. After being gone for over a decade, after living in Oregon for over a decade (1984-1998), my memories formed expectations for this return. We can't help that; its the way our mind works. Although we know things change over time, and intellectually we accept, and expect that many things change in our absence, our expectations and anticipations of how and why things change sometimes elicit unexpected reactions within ourselves. Some of my reactions were stoic acceptance, some sadness, some glee, and a dose of shaking the head. Regardless, there is only one fact that can be relied on in this world not to change, and that is nothing stays the same.

Just like the emigrants on the Oregon Trail, the first, and only, time I traveled the Columbia Gorge was when we moved west from Maine back in 1984. After spending the entire summer crossing the country in a van, the Gorge and the river were icing on the cake. One can't help but feel awe at the size of that river, the looming canyons it cuts through, and the velvety soft slopes on the other side (Washington). The power of the volume of water that courses through, the forceful winds channeled down the gorge and the majestic hard cliffs bordering the south side of the highway and river are balanced by the more gentle opposing slopes of bunchgrass.

Songs, stories and movies have been made about this river. It served as the iconic example of domination over nature when the Bonneville Dam was built. It was the most treacherous, and last body of water the emigrants crossed before landing in the Willamette Valley, the Oasis of the West. It has nurtured thousands of native people and served as home to the most controversial fish species of this nation: the salmon, which itself is the symbol of the Pacific Northwest.

You can't see, hear, or touch this river without some feeling of respect and wonder. It is the Mother Lode of Rivers, younger than the Mississippi, but more impressive. And when I saw it again after all those years, those impressions were just as strong.

But things change, too.

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On the descent to the valley and before the Gorge, bunchgrass-covered hills of the Blue Mountains began to soften with less prominence. Many ranches dotted the landscapes.


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Just before dropping down to the river side.
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In many areas poplar trees have been planted; monocultures of rapidly growing trees for early harvest to supply the pulp and paper mills. Back when I was in college forestry track, this was a common practice in Maine. By that time, the Pacific Northwest and Idaho had gained prominence for timber to supply most of the Nation's lumber needs. Nearly all the virgin forests in Maine were long gone (at one time, Maine was 75% harvested!!), but the PNW seemed to have an endless supply of tall timber to feed the lumber mills. Maine then turned to growing poplar for the paper companies. It was considered a weed tree, rapidly growing and soft wood suited for paper production. So poplar was grown like corn, except harvesting was not an annual thing. (wet poplar wood smells like old cat pee; it was not my favorite tree)

Here you can see staggered plantings, three successive growth stands. And a closer look (these photos, and the subsequent were all taken while driving by and out the window)
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Much of the Oregon side (south) of the river is typical canyon face: cliffs of basalt and volcanic rock. The north side in Washington has its share, too, but what stands out is the opposing gentle slopes stretching for miles along the river. As if a face-off between the two sides of the river.

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Another difference is the land use: Washington side is dominated by agriculture and the Oregon side, where the terrain allows, is industrial or covered with urban-trend sprawl. Except for the stretch where the river is designated as a National Wild and Scenic River, man has made its imprints.

On the north side of the river were a few pockets of vineyards and wineries. The tall trees on the perimeter of the vineyards are a different species of poplar, often called Lombardy poplar (and very popular as a residential specimen tree planted in clumps). Although they are also susceptible to several diseases and bacterial problems, they do make a good windbreak when planted in rows. Their use here is as a windbreak for the powerful gale-force winds that channel down the Gorge.

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Driving through the National Wild and Scenic River section.

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Although the river is most known for the several dams, as the many electrical lines and poles everywhere attest, it seems silly not to take advantage of another power source (with less impact on the salmon). Texas Sunflowers!

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More tomorrow. Smugmug seems to be having issues tonight.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Columbia Gorge: again?

I'll try to make this brief and just post photos so folks aren't bored.

The one thing about Oregon rivers are that bridges are few and far between, except for spanning the Willamette River in Portland (where there are many bridges). These are bridges across the Columbia (not near Portland).
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I love this bridge. It reminds me of the locks on Lake Erie near where I grew up. I loved watching them raise up for freight ships, one of which my grandfather was an asst. captain. Funny how seeing this one took me back to when I was an excited kid watching the ships navigate on the Great Lakes.
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So it is no surprise when I got all excited -like a little kid- when we drove past a couple barges. Tidewater company is the largest transporter on the Columbia River. Note the smiley faces on their barges. I would LOVE to be a passenger on one of these barges as they navigate the river. Hmmmm..... that gives me an idea for the next visit.........:trust:

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If you look real close (might not be able to see them in this small photo here), a group of people are on one of the decks waving. I want to be one of those people. :mrgreen:

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Fewer logging mills are left now in Oregon. This one is across the river in WA.
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Oregon is a grandstand, a living museum, and an open text book for geology. The variety and diversity is overwhelming. Take Big Bend and stretch it out by hundreds of miles and you get a sense of how much interesting geology is here (we thought of you many times, Randy). And much of it is new, in relative geological age. Sometimes we just stopped, slamming on the brakes (on the bikes, at least I did), and gawked at the specimens. Here are a few samples along the River.

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And, of course, some of the youngest mountains and quiescent volcanoes on the N Am continent: the Cascades. I forgot just how big and beautiful they are until I saw this:
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A lot of wildlife visit and live along/on the river, too. Even pelicans.
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The last stop of interest before hitting the rat race near Portland will be posted next.
 
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Ten Sleep, WY
All that moisture makes for some seriously terrifying winter driving in that area... :) (Commuting from Central Oregon over Hood to fly out of Portland or going north through the Gorge on the way to Washington was often like taking your life in your hands.)
 
Joined
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The last sightseeing stop on the trip to my daughter's place was a requirement. I remember well what it was like back in 1984 when we stopped on our way to the Valley. Now.........boy, has it changed. It's almost like going to Disneyland: crowded, crowded, crowded, lots of pavement,too many cars/vehicles, traffic congestion, trinket shop, and..... so this seems to be the way of 'progress' for most extraordinary natural features.

Multnomah Falls. A series of two tiers of falls from a creek on the plateau above. Tallest falls in Oregon (620') and originates from an underground spring on the mountain above. The foot bridge was built in 1914.

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Looking down at the lower tier falls from the footbridge.
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Another falls -smaller- is above the larger and a trail leads up to that. But with the crowds there, neither of us were in the frame of mind to deal with the ant line going both directions on the trail.

My ex-husband photographed the falls in the winter, when the place is usually people-less. It is extraordinarily beautiful in winter.

Next: Willamette Valley ain't what it used to be
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
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Exit. Stage West.
The Long Puddle

Huh? Well, after all, the valley where the river runs through it used to be under the ocean. Then it was a shallow marine bay. Then it was full of volcanic spew. Then a tropical oasis. Then a puddle. But that was all covering millions of years ago. Now it is a valley where a river runs through it. Lots of people, too.

When I left Oregon back in 1998, the only real major city was Portland on the Columbia River. Smaller communities to small towns, college towns to agricultural centers. Even the state capitol, Salem, was small by modern standards in most eastern states, even here in Texas. Like Goldilocks and the three bears, Corvallis was just right.

Agriculture was everywhere: from large corporate tracts of wheat, oats, corn and nearly everything that can be grown, to small mom-and-pop pick-your-own and roadside stands. One of the joys during the growing season was to drive to the 3-acre blueberry field and pick a few flats of blueberries. Or stop by one of the many roadside stands and buy a week's worth or produce grown right next to the stand. Even go pick out your beef critter and place an order for the butcher (or in my case, sell lambs and sheepskins).

No matter where you drove, you would pass more than a few logging trucks coming off the coastal hills or high Cascades. About the first of November, you'd see tractor trailers full of tied Christmas trees bound for California and the southern states.

Typical of Oregon and Washington, the Willamette Valley was a favorable place to grow almost anything, and people had easy access to locally grown food and wood products. They still do, but the Valley is now becoming full of people and their accoutrements: cars, noise, traffic jams, more noise, smoke, lights, noise. Our first inkling to that was on the way into the Valley from the Columbia Gorge.

Can't Get There From Here

Since I was co-piloting, we headed for the passway that circumvents most of the Portland metromess on the east side: 205. I've driven it many times and it's always been a scenic and less congested alternative to I-5, which intersects the city. Little did we know that it would be just as jam packed as the Interstate. As we slowly headed our way south, we found ourselves stopped in traffic. Like everyone else. We crawled for awhile and then I saw a digital road sign warning of a traffic accident on I-5 southbound; expect delays. What it didn't say was the Interstate south was closed off due to the accident.

We finally escaped off of 205 to find an alternate route south. The only problem was the accident was also just south of the river. And the bridges that cross the river are very far and few between. We also realized other drivers were ditching the interstate with the same idea we had. So even off the Interstate, we were still crawling.

We zigzagged back and forth and a few hours later found I realized we were near a back way that I used to drive north. After we found that, along with the other hundreds of drivers fleeing I-5, we inched along that road south. As we drove through, I realized that all the sleepy tiny little rural communities were now big with gas stations, Starbucks, chain stores, Home Despots, blah blah. The only difference between there and here was the obvious derth of lines of roadside strip malls.

In all, what should have taken an hour and 1/2 (62 miles), took almost five hours. By the time we got to my daughter's house, we were exhausted. Luckily, dinner was waiting: a tex-mex dinner in honor of guests from Texas.

We barely got the poop-up set up before dark. Once dinner was done, I hit the bed, grateful for the breeze, crickets and occasional barking dog.

Lesson learned: Avoid I-5 completely, and never take I-84 west of The Dalles. A preferred route next time will be Hwys 20 or 26 west out of Vale, or turn south at The Dalles on 197 (or 97). All three options lead into and through eastern and central Oregon, then crossing the Cascades at one of the several passes. Much better option and worth the scenery.

Heck, might not even get into the Valley at all. ;-)
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
5,846
Location
Exit. Stage West.
Salty Air, Murals and Salmon

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The three of us -Ed, Tanaya and I- headed out early one morning for the coast. Newport, on the Yaquina Bay, has always been dear to me for many reasons. Yes, it's tourist haven in the summer. But off-season, the place is still small-town, fishing community. It offers all the coastal treat: large bay, deep sea fishing, yummy food, light house, waves smashing against the cliffs, beach sand, river and streams, parks galore, artsy places, marine science center... it has it all.

Winding our way along the road that traverses the coast range, where long flags of moss hang off tall trees alongside the streams, and the smell of spruce and fir fill your nose, the first glimpse of the ocean is cresting the hill over the coastal town. Almost straight in line of your vision ahead, on the horizon, is the ocean water. Then below, you see the tops of roofs and spires of the bridge crossing the bay. On the way down, salty air and smell of fish and seaweed fill the air. It sure made me smile.

Our first destination was lunch. I've told Ed all about Mo's restaurant many times. One of my favorite haunts and the best clam chowder west of Maine. We wound our way down to the bay front street and found an easy place to park; we were quite early and places weren't even open yet. So we passed the time walking the street and exploring the piers that overlook the bay.

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We heard a weird barking noise and sure enough, the sea lions were playing on an rocky outcrop in the bay.

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Then we walked along the streets exploring a new feature of Newport that I've never seen before. It was delightful!

Next: The murals of Newport and coastal life
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
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Exit. Stage West.
Back towns in Oregon

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Since my first visit to Newport Oregon in the mid-80's, one thing I remember most (besides Mo's clam chowder) was the giant mural of whales on the side of a bay-front fish/seafood processing place (above). It's called the 'Whaling Wall'. I always like the mural; it brings one closer to those that co-habit the ocean waters.

A few other smaller murals were scattered throughout the bayfront, but since I last visited they seem to have birthed in gargantuan. Now they are everywhere and covering one to three sides of several buildings. They depict the maritime history of the Oregon coast. One mural unmistakeably originates with Mobey Dick. Another as if it is right out of "A Perfect Storm".

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The detail is amazing- actually, astounding- in these murals. And so big, I wondered how on earth they were painted. Artist Rick Chambers is the signed artist on most of these with dates spanning around 2001-2006. A few were done by other artists, such as the first large mural mentioned above.

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They all tell a story, many almost a full historical story, some details prompting mysterious glimpses into probably local and maybe even personal history (names on boats, certain painted details with specific characters, etc). Some are dedicated to those who were here long before any human arrived: whales, birds, sea lions, pelicans, etc.

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A few, almost hidden, aspects were amusing, suggesting a hidden story somewhere. Such as the rescue of the damsel in distress.... and a few others.

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We added our own amusing element a few times, too.

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And locals ride dual sport bikes, too. ;-)

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Next: Salt and Salmon. Don't anger the fishing woman with the knife.
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
5,846
Location
Exit. Stage West.
Back Boats in Oregon

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I could watch boats and ship for hours. I no longer have my own (16-ft Grumman canoe), so I have to float vicariously on other's boats.
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We saw everything from small fishing boats, to tourist boats, to big old ratty fishing (commercial fishers), to deep sea commercial charter fishing boats.

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While we waited for Mo's to open, and with the streets and piers empty of tourists, the photography ops were many. So I took advantage of it. Buoys are a favorite because they are always so colorful. The colors and their organization (from top to bottom) signify ownership of traps.

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We had a great lunch (Mo's clam chowder is the BEST!) at the table to the left of that where the man is sitting next to the window.
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While sitting at our table next to the window, I had company. On the other side of the glass. They knew I was there, and the gull was rather curious if he was going to get any hand-outs.

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The windows in Mo's overlook a dock where commercial fishing boats dock and unload their own fish, and fisherman with their catches. Earlier we watched as the crew set up for the arrival of the boats:
One table with two big pots on large propane boilers. I presume this was for boiling crab and clams.
One long table was set up for filleting the fish. It was this table that was the most busy.
After lunch, we went back to the pier next to Mo's that overlooks the bay and the dock below, and waited.......
Soon, not one, but two boats docked. One was full of people who charter a deep sea boat, leave O'Dark Thrity in the morning and see what they can catch. The other, farthest at the dock, was affiliated with the fish packer next to Mo's.

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Also present were two officials from the OR Fish and Wildlife Dept. They were measuring, weighing and scanning the fish caught by the chartered boat. I'm not sure what they were scanning. I wondered if salmon from some of the fish hatcheries or farms are marked in some way, maybe a chip set? We were too high above the dock and too many people above and below for me to interrupt with questions.

Those who wished to fillet their own fish simply took their catch home. Most opted to have them filleted right there. A woman wearing an apron (plastic, rubber?), big gloves and tall rubber boots was queen of the fillet table. She was fast as can be with that knife and no wasted motion. I have a few video clips of her in action that I haven't yet put together (but will eventually).

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I kept thinking.... 'You don't want to mess with this woman......'

Next: drizzle, sand and sea stacks.
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
5,846
Location
Exit. Stage West.
Bridges, drizzle and sea stacks...and letting go.

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Oregon has some fine bridges. Over bays, rivers, creeks, gorges, waterfalls... They are everywhere. Two of my favorites are those in Newport, over the Yaquina Bay, and in Florence, further south on the Coast. And the most photogenic.

If anyone visiting the Oregon coast can stop and imagine how it was like before Hwy 101 was built.... Traffic was mostly boats; from the rivers that empty into the ocean, dirt roads, some of them dangerous, as they followed the cliff lines and over the many streams, and ferries. Lots of ferries. Now, with the paved road that was in many places blasted through basalt, there is the long winding Hwy 101.

The two bridges mentioned above bear design and architecture of Art Deco. Not surprising since they were built in the 1930's. They are majestic and picturesque, and they've been well taken care of.

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Not the Gothic arches below the bridge. It all reminds me of Batman's Gotham City. And the detail is exquisite.

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After crossing the Yaquina Bay, we headed south. As we did, the misty day turned into light drizzle. But it was still nice to enjoy the coast. We stopped at one of the many state parks on the coast. Here was a perfect example of the many types of geology that formed the western edge of the Pacific Northwest.

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These monolithic landforms are remnants of volcanic eruptions that were sometimes 300 or more miles away. During the millions of years of tectonic activity, several eruptions in Central and Eastern Oregon spewed lava flows that reached the coastline. The Coastal Range was also a line of small volcanoes.

Where the coastline is today was once a reef bed way out in the ocean. While the Pacific Ocean plate was plunging underneath the continental plate (subjection zone), ocean floors, along with its reef beds and underwater volcanoes, merged with the coastline of the north west. Thus the coastline was (and still is) changing.

With many feet of hard basalt on top of softer sedimentary rock, and the basalt from lava that leaked from feeder tubes under the earth's mantle, millions of years of wave erosion has carved out the softer rock. Eroded material gets deposited below, but the more resistant basalt still stands forming these monoliths called sea stacks.

We got to see some of the wave action as the tide came in. Lots of power in those waves slamming into the rocks.

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The ocean reminds me of Big Bend: the juxtaposition of power and beauty.

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Although the weather was overcast and drizzly, we enjoyed it anyway.

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And I got to indulge in some prime photo taking.

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We even stopped in Waldport to have some Tillimook ice cream. ;)

It was home after that, along the winding road that passes by the ranch where I lived, in the eastern foothills of the coastal range. We drove down the gravel road to see what has become of the ranch. I was speechless....it's been trashed. All those years and hard work, the fruit trees, berry patches, the clean pastures, long fence lines, the big garden, the flowers lining the roadside fence........ mostly gone or overgrown. Even the new barn is showing signs of neglect. It wasn't what I left behind.

In a big way, it broke my heart to see it like this. But in another, it was a closure. It was time to let go; I finally was able to let it go. Nothing of myself was left there anymore.
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
5,846
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Exit. Stage West.
Last day in the Valley

Posting a few photos from the 'family album' and our stay with Tanaya.

I was getting restless. I woke and got up before sunrise the last few days there. One morning when I ventured outside watching the sun rise in the cloudy sky, I saw..........what? Hot air balloons!

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Horses in the pasture next to the house did not know quite what to think of these floating monsters.

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I had a few conversations with my equine buddies.
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We were later told that it was the annual arts and balloon festival in Albany. No, we didn't go.

Now here was an entertaining member of the family: Loki, the new Rottweiler puppy. Smart and well behaved for a Rottweiler. Confused at times, but he listens well. This guy has real personality.

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Loki tends to wander away from his house. Not really his fault because the neighbors feed him. Time to talk to the neighbors ("Don't feed the animals!"). Ed tried to teach him where his boundary was. Then he saw me coming with the camera, which he tried to lick every time he could get a chance.

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And the dead woobie.
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Our last morning there, Tanaya returned to her regular work schedule and we were ready to begin Part Two of our trip. We hugged, said goodbyes and tried not to cry. I told her we would be back.

She left for work at the shop and we left for the Cascades on a dreary cloudy morning.
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And so we cross over to 'the other side' and begin a new adventure.......
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
5,846
Location
Exit. Stage West.
Day 0:How do you get to Narnia?

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Because of the drizzle and late start, I decided that we should choose a route over the Cascades less winding and narrow than the McKenzie Pass. Much to my dismay because the old McKenzie road is so delightful as it snakes over lava beds and through old growth forests. Guess we'll save that for another time.

We drove on Hwy20, the Santiam Hwy, which crossed the Santiam River and Santiam Pass. The higher in elevation we drove, the worse the weather: constant drizzle and fog. It made for an eerie landscape and limited views, reminding me of walking through the wardrobe into Narnia or through the Looking Glass.

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We, or I, made my last stop in Cascadia where I bought my last cup of java for the day. I needed it. However, all the coffee I drank throughout the morning would require a few more stops on the way. That's the nature of coffee.

Our first stop was a campground. As we drove over a bridge that straddled a stream, we were confronted by an old and favorite memory of many places in western Oregon: moss hanging like necklaces from tree branches, lichen covering tree trunks and giant trees that make one feel like a gnome, or better, a hobbit. These giants are like Ents; and if you spend any time in an old growth forest, you will feel like they are old wizened giants.

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There was no wind with this drizzle and many things glittered with moisture and dewdrops. Especially jewel-like were pine tree needles and any slim grass leaves. In these forests are a myriad of flora; a diverse ecosystem of ferns, shrubs, trees, wildflowers, mosses and lichen.

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Leaving here we climbed the mountains and met a small little man with a long white beard in orange holding a big stick with a red Stop sign. Construction. We stopped and chatted with him while waiting for our prompt to continue. This was the beginning of a 'friendship' with nearly all people east of the Valley. I don't remember being anywhere in this country where people, complete strangers, are so friendly.

After we drove a bit more, more coffee demanded out. So we stopped at a rest area. Something caught my eye and I headed for that before I even used the rest room.

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Something about trails and paths like this just draw me in. And I can't resist. It's almost visceral; a calling, a pull, both physically and in my psyche. I want to go down this road/trail/path. And it's painful when you see the sign with a big waving hand that states "No Motorized Vehicles!". And that invisible finger that points and says "This means You." Ahhh, darn.

I noticed on the map that this was an old wagon trail before the highway crossed the mountains. There are many of these up there, but most are preserved as hiking or equine trails.

Many byways and routes exist in Oregon with scenic, geological, historical or
specific regional interests as a theme. This hwy was as you can see on the sign.

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Shortly after this we approached the summit and began to see a view that continued until almost into the basin on the other side of the mountains. Here, with the fog and drizzle, it was strangely eerie.

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Cresting the summit and beginning the descent was like stepping through the wardrobe door, or through the glass. Not a cloud in the blue sky, sun shine and...... one thing remained the same.

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We came to a pull-off (and rest room) where several interpretive displays discussed the fire that wiped out thousands of acres of trees and mountainsides of life. I recall hearing about this fire years ago, but seeing this, and reading about it, really impacted how bad it was.

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I had noticed since returning to Oregon that forest practices had changed since I left. At that time, the only hot topic was preservation of the spotted owl which had pitted public against government, loggers and rural folks against urbanites, and even split families. But it was bound to happen at some point; the little spotted owl was in the middle. Many other issues were at stake and old practices and ways of doing things needed reconsideration and revision. I wonder if this fire was a push to waken some of those factions to the reality of dwindling species and resources as well as the realizations that 'just because we can doesn't mean we should.' (I come from the eastern US forestry attitudes and practices that already moved through this generations ago and changed our ways).

In the midst of all this burned timber was a bright jewel: Blue Crater Lake. The most blue body of water I've ever seen.

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We headed down out of the mountains and into the basin that is home to the little town of Sisters. The town had grown since I had visited last, but then it was nothing compared to its neighbor to the south: Bend. Which has exploded, but that's for the next day.

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I was lacking a national forest map and we headed to the local forest ranger district office to pick one up. In the parking lot were groups of fire fighters having their meetings before going out on several small fires ignited by lightening a couple days earlier. I remember friend Bob in Albany exclaiming "Well, Deschutes County is on fire!" So I asked about the forest fire status and was assured that they were almost contained and not near our destinations over the next few days. We also learned that part of McKenzie Pass highway was closed due to fires. Good thing we chose a different route.

We were worn and tired by the time we got into town, so we found a place for lunch and I spent the next hour or so playing phone tag with Greg in Prineville. We were only 45 minutes or so away and needed to touch bases with him. One the way into Prineville we stopped and bought our OHV decals for the bikes and had a coffee at the Starbucks in town while we waited for Greg to join us.

We went over my planned routes and he offered suggestions and steered us to the county RV park. There we set up the Poop-up camper, ate some dinner and hit the bags for an early rise. The next morning would be Take-off time; we begin 13 days living off the bikes.

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