October 16, 2017

9/13/17 - Hells Canyon Scenic Byway

Hells Canyon Oregon Scenic Byway is a 200-mile loop in the northeast corner of Oregon, going past America's deepest river gorge, Hells Canyon, and the Wallowa Mountains, nicknamed "Little Switzerland".  

We didn't drive the whole loop, just the southern portion from Baker City to Hells Canyon Dam, then came back the same road. That's still almost the same distance without making the circle. It would have taken longer because we'd have to stop and look.  One day we'll come from the other direction.

The smoke from the Eagle Creek Fire near Portland was visible at the RV park, less so as we headed into the mountains.  We've been in smoke since mid-July and I'm trying to figure out how far south we'll have to go to get out of it.

We followed the Powder River, a twisty little stream that hardly seems to fit the name "river".  We stopped at the site of the 1984 Hole-in-the-Wall Landslide, where millions of tons of rock slid down, dammed the river and buried a portion of Highway 86.
North of Halfway (that's a town, not a part of speech) we took the fork to Copperfield, crossing the Snake River into Idaho, then stopped at Hells Canyon Park for lunch.  
Although the road to the dam is a Forest Service road, it's paved, which is the only reason I could talk George into doing it.  It winds along the river through the canyon below the dam.  (Or is that above the dam?  I get confused trying to figure out which way the river runs...north is downstream but that just doesn't seem right.)
The Snake River originates in Yellowstone National Park, winds through southern Idaho, then turns north to form the boundary between Idaho and Oregon, and finally joins the Columbia at Pasco, Washington.  The Snake is designated a "Wild and Scenic River", and although the stretch we were driving along is beautiful, it's not wild, and apparently not as scenic as it gets. 
About 67 miles of the Snake River from Hells Canyon Dam downstream are designated Wild and Scenic.  The first 30 are "wild" and the next 36 are "scenic".  The rest of the river to the Oregon-Washington border is designated "study river".  Weird...

We crossed the dam back into Oregon. View upstream:
Downstream from the top of the dam:
We stopped at the Hells Canyon Creek Visitor Center.  I don't think the river builds up to "wild" until it gets around the bend...but if you look closely, there's a tiny bit of white water.  Next time I want to plan ahead a little and take a boat trip--the jet boat kind, not the raft kind.  We won't be here in the summer, so although I don't mind getting wet, I don't want to get cold and wet!  
Heading back west, the sun and the smoke made contrasts of the hills.
And I still want to see the Wallowas--they're one of  the 7 Wonders of Oregon. 

More pictures?  Click here:  Hells Canyon Oregon Scenic Byway

October 15, 2017

9/12/17 - Oregon Trail Interpretive Center (Revisted)

Starting our winter trip south (again) from Kennewick, WA, we stayed at Baker City, OR (again).  First stop after our hiatus.

I wanted to go back to the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center (again).  George wasn't enthused, but he tends to think that once we've been somewhere we don't need to go back.  I enthuse easily and tend to think we should go back and see or do different things at a place we’re already familiar with.  

We were here 3 years ago, also in September.  (9/5/14 - Oregon Trail Interpretive Center)  If you check out the original post, you might find that the pictures then and the pictures now are very similar.  That’s probably a little bit me and a little bit subject matter.  You can skip this if you want...
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Center.  It’s a joint project with the Bureau of Land Management and Trail Tenders, a local group formed in 1989 as a partner with BLM  in operating the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.  

To get to the exhibits, you walk between the live-size wagon train diorama.  It takes little imagination to see how hot and tired mother and daughter would have been.  It would have taken the emigrants several months to get to this point on the trail from Missouri.  The ground here is dry and rocky. They still have to cross the Blue Mountains before the snow starts.

George and I get tired driving a couple hundred miles at 60 mph, pulling our 21st century covered wagon behind us.  These emigrants walked beside their wagons.  A good day was 10-15 miles. Total distance was about 2,200 miles!

The oxen plodded on and on and on.  Wheels broke off wagons.  People died.
Come on, use your imagination.  Think about how you would have fared crossing half the country to make a fresh start.  I know I wouldn’t have done very well.  Long, boring, dirty, miserable..
The Interpretive Center is built at the top of Flagstaff Hill.  The view out the windows is of the valley where the wagons crossed, with the Blues in the distance.  Look closely and you can see trail ruts.

 One thing that we hadn’t seen before was an exhibit called “Finding Fremont: Pathfinder of the West”.  The focus is on John C. Fremont’s mapping expedition through central Oregon in 1844-45.  The junior high school I went to was named after him, so at least I knew the name from Nevada history. 
I really tried to get George to walk down to the trail ruts.  He really didn’t want to.  He knew we didn’t have to because we’d driven down there last time we were here.  We compromised with a walk down to the Stamp Mill.

Looks like there’s still a mining operation of some sort on the hill across from us.  They call it “Cliff Mine” on the information map.
Just downhill from the visitors center are the remains of the “Hard Rock Lode Mine”. 
We continued down the paved walkway of the Panorama Point Trail to the “Stamp Mill”.  George knew what that meant, but I didn’t have a clue.  Cool building though.

There were information signs inside that explained about gold mining and the stamp mill.  George filled in the rest.  One of the best things about this trip is the continuing education we’re getting about all sorts of things we didn’t know we didn’t know.  (Well, one of us at least.)
I wanted to walk out to Panorama Point or the tracks.  We walked a bit longer but not all the way to either, then got back in the truck to see the ruts again.
It’s amazing to me that they still show after all these years.  Says a lot about habitat reclamation—sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.  In this particular case, it’s nice that it didn’t.

More pictures here: Oregon Trail Center (Revisited) 

October 6, 2017

5/28/17 - Snoqualmie Falls Park

10/6/17 - It's been quite a while since I've entered anything here. I guess I got out of the habit of doing anything while I was going through treatment this spring and summer.  (I'm fine--actually, I was never anything but fine.  Bored with all the daily trips to the hospital, maybe.) But we're back on the road now, and I'm trying to get back in the routine.

This was a little excursion we made last May.  I've been racking my memory to match comments with pictures. 

September 13, 2017

On the road again!

All the medical procedures and treatments are done.  I skated through it all and feel great!  After all the time we spent doing that this summer, it's nice to be travelling again.  

We spent last week in Kennewick, WA, and are now heading southeast.  There are so many fires in the northwest that I want to make sure we get out of and stay out the smoke.  We're heading for the red rocks of Utah.

Plan now is Idaho for a couple of weeks, then down into Utah.  We'll head back to Moab, then Monument Valley on the way to Arizona by mid-October.  Hopefully, I'll have more pictures to share soon.

May 6, 2017

Change of plans

Sadly, the Alaska trip is off for this year!  Because of some medical issues I'm having, we're staying in the Puget Sound area for a couple of months--but by then it'll be too late to go to Alaska and do it right.

At this point, I haven't even thought about what we could do after treatment is concluded. I'll save the Alaskan notes, but start working on another itinerary to get us back to Arizona with the snowbirds. Let me know if you have any ideas!

February 8, 2017

Future plans

We're going to Alaska next summer!  Right now we're hunkered down in Arizona waiting for spring so we can head north.  I'm reading everything I can get my hands on about the Alaskan Highway, and making a list of what I want to see.  (Actually, it's a spreadsheet, but that works for me.)

Check back in a couple of months to see what we're doing.