Monday, July 28, 2014

Into the Volcanic Zone ~ June 24, 2014

It's definitely about the journey and not the destination. There are stunning views and history at every bend in the road. After breakfast we pick up Hwy 97 south. It's partly cloudy and a lot cooler than it could have been out here in the Sage Brush Sea. To our right are some of the snow capped mountains of the Cascades: Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, Sisters, and Broken Top.

We crossed over a deep gorge you can't see until you're in the middle of the bridge. Simply had to turn back and take a closer look. We find three stunning bridges arching over a 300 foot gorge and the Crooked River. There is a beautiful park out here in the middle of nowhere with historical signage, miles of trails and a large picnic area. 

The railroad bridge was completed in 1911. The incentive for the crossing was to reach vast stands of timber to the north. It's 320 feet above the river and is the second highest railroad bridge in the US. 

High Bridge 
Photo Credit Michael Goff

The Crooked River High Bridge was completed in 1926. It was the old Hwy 97 bridge and now it's a footbridge within the park, providing a one of a kind observation platform. 

The Rex T. Barber Veteran's Memorial Bridge was completed in 2000 to replace the High Bridge which could no longer handle modern traffic. It's named for a local war hero who, in 1943, achieved World War II fame as the fighter pilot who shot down the airplane carrying Japanese Admiral Yamamoto, mastermind of the Pearl Harbor attack. 

As is our habit, we chat with other travelers. One told us if we haven't been to Smith Rock, it was a must stop. Since it was just down the road we turned left at Terrabonne and headed east to the park. It was as described and more. Volcanic activity expresses itself in a myriad of ways and this spot will take your breath away. There are trails for all skill levels. It's also a popular spot for climbers. Truly worth a stop and a walkabout. Bring a picnic. 

Smith Rock Park

One of the Smith Rock Park Trails

After our picnic at Smith Rock we head south again. Next stop is Lava Lands just south of Bend. It seems a desolate place at first, but when you slow down and take a second look there is a lot to discover. There is signage throughout the park to explain the history and dynamics of the area. 

 Local Denizen

Mountain Spray

 Lava Snow Balls

Lava Ness Monster

A full day to say the least. We found a great spot to stay in Klammath Falls, called it a day and curled up and read after dinner.  Off to California tomorrow.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Back Road's Back Road ~ June 23, 2014

June 23, 2014 ~ No Interstates need apply today, we are headed for roads way less traveled. After breakfast we pick up Hwy 211 outside Mollala. Near the junction of Hwy 213, along Macksburg Road, Rod points out a row of trees, on the left in this photo. They were planted by his Pop in 1960 at the Publisher's Lumber Mill. 

Must be a poem about logging trucks and horse trailers, seem to be the prevalent vehicles out here. We continue on Hwy 211 to Estacada to pick up Hwy 224 to the south east along the Clackamas River. Incredible views around every turn. 

Hwy 224
Lazy Bend - Clackamas River
Clackamas River

Stopped at Indian Henry near one of the bridges for a picnic above the river. Next turn is onto Hwy 57, then Hwy 58 towards Mt. Hood. This is the back road to the back road. We see no cars for 20 plus miles. 

 Mystery Flower
Rhodies in late June
 Mt Hood

Changed our minds about going to Mt. Hood and headed south on Hwy 26. In 50 miles the landscape transitioned from forests with greenery down to pavement edge to high desert, buttes, rim rock, and sage brush. 

Mt. Jefferson

Mt Jefferson an hour further south

The temperature went from a pleasant 75 to 90 plus degrees as we descended out of mountains. Time to get out of the heat. The Inn at Cross Keys Station had been recommended by someone we met in Warm Springs earlier in the day so we decided to stop there for an overnight. Turned out to be a nice place to stay and close to town for dining.

We'll pick up Hwy 97 tomorrow and start the journey towards home. This has been a grand adventure so far and we still have some gorgeous country to explore. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Family Beckons ~ June 20-22, 2014

June 20th ~ After a sumptuous breakfast we head south from Hillsboro on Hwy 219 towards Newberg. Beautiful drive down to civilization: ranches, meadows, forests, no end to the views and landscape. 

Hotels are full, so we try our luck at the "Four star" Best Western in Wilsonville for our 3 night stay. No ocean here boss, the freeway was our sleep mode, white noise. Parking is under trees that drip sap, pillows are hockey pucks, shower runs hot and cold and their idea of a complementary breakfast: waffles, biscuits and gravy. It's closer to a "two star" but will suffice since w'e'll just be sleeping there. 

Head out to Dickey Prairie for dinner at the house of a friend of Rod's sister, Deb. It's an old 2 story home at the confluence of two forks of the Mollala River. It was probably a family compound at one time, many rooms and passages. It's absolutely magical, serene and quiet but for birdsong and the river. 

 House from the river
From the deck
One of the resident cats

Dinner was sublime: BBQ'd chicken and trout fingers, salad, corn, garlic cheese french bread and dessert. Rod's little brother Roy stopped by for a visit and then we headed back to the hotel at sunset.

June 21st ~ Summer starts today, it's gorgeous and about 74. Rod's niece Dawn, who lives in Canby, arranged for a friend of hers to give me a massage at 10am. We have no promises to keep until late afternoon so we decide to hit some garage sales around Canby. Had a ball and scored some amazing treasures: yoga mat and bag, 10 nearly new T-shirts for Rod, 2 hooded sweatshirts, and a mouse sander kit, all for less than $20. 

Took the afternoon and explored back roads between Mulino and Oregon City, Rod's old stomping grounds. This is Willamette Falls, he used to work at the pulp mill.

Met Dawn and her family at a local brew pub for dinner. We'll be heading over to their place tomorrow afternoon for a family reunion/BBQ. 

The charm of these small Oregon towns is that the trains still run through town several times a day: the sight, the sounds, the whistle always enthrall me, so much so I didn't pull out my iPhone and make a movie. What a knucklehead.  

June 22nd ~ We walked to breakfast at about 1/2 mile down the road from the hotel. Find out about a hunter jumper horse show down Wilsonville Road and head down there to watch for a couple of hours. 

Out to Dawn and Andrew's place in Canby for family BBQ with Rod's siblings, nieces and nephews: lot of fun and noisy as always. I'm any only child so large family gatherings aren't part of my DNA. I've always called the Helvey Clan the Loud Family and nothing has changed. Volume at 11 on a scale of 10, everyone talking at once, all remembering the stories of childhood differently. Home entertainment at it's finest. The food was amazing and laughter plentiful.
 Dawn and son Tristan
 Rod and nephew Mike
The crew: Margene, Roy, Deb and Rod
Wonder where I was at that moment?

Early evening it's back to the hotel to pack up and relax: visiting takes a lot of energy for a couple of hilltop curmudgeons. Tomorrow we're back in making it up as we go mode. East is the general direction.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Eastward Ho ~ June 18-19, 2014

After breakfast in Seaside we head south on Hwy 101 to pick up Hwy 26 east. But first a side trip to Cannon Beach and Ecola State Park to see the Tillamook Lighthouse. 

Ecola State Park looking south
Tillamook Lighthouse from Ecola overlook
Cannon Beach

The lighthouse is only 20 miles south of the Columbia River, an area known for foul weather and dangerous seas. Research on it's history proved to be quite illuminating, if you'll excuse the pun. The following was excerpted from several sources:

In 1878 the US Congress appropriated funds for a lighthouse on Tillamook Head. After a survey it was determined the light would be obscured by fog, so Tillamook Rock, just off shore was chosen as the alternate site. In May 1880 the Corp of Engineers began the project by blasting off the top of the rock to create a level area for foundations. Transportation to and from the rock, for men and materials, involved the use of a derrick and breeches buoy. Construction took 500 days and was completed in 1881. Violent storms played havoc with the lighthouse on a continuing basis and in 1957 it was finally decommissioned. 

Can you imagine?

It's strange afterlife began in 1959 when it was turned into the "Eternity at Sea Columbarium" by a group of investors from Nevada. There is a delightful article in the October 24, 2007 NY Times that tells the story. It's entitled "Terrible Tillie, Where the Departed Rest Not Quite in Peace". It's worth a read. 

After walks at Ecola State Park and Cannon Beach we head northeast to pick up Hwy 26, off to spend a couple of days with friends Art and Deb in Hillsboro. Just east of Elsie, we run into a major traffic jam. The Department of Transportation has decided to work on three major road repairs at one time, delaying travelers 45-90 minutes in both directions. Fortunately the weather is pleasant and we're in the shade. After an extended period with no traffic going either way we start to see cars coming west. We lost count at 150. There are only 7 cars ahead of us and we're thinking when the east dam is released it'd be a good time to get off the road for a bit. 

The travel gods are smiling on us. In a mile or so we see Camp 18 Restaurant and Logging Museum on our right so we pulled in and parked. Just under 200 cars, that had been stacked up behind us, made their way east. Good call to be off the road. 

After lunch we strolled around part of the grounds. We waited to get back in the car until the westbound traffic began to move. No one would be heading east for at least 30 minutes, so we made a break for it. We only saw part of the collections so we made a note to come back. There is a lot of great history here. 

We arrive at Art and Deb's in the late afternoon, settle in, and adjourn to the deck to enjoy the weather and catch up. 

It's always a treat to be at Chateau Hertz: good company, fine food, cribbage, dining on the deck and walking in the woods. Like us, they rarely come down off their hill unless it's absolutely necessary. Deb decided we'd be her guinea pigs tonight, one of our favorite assignments. She wanted to try a Moroccan Pastilla because she liked the photo in her cookbook (Cooking A to Z Complete Culinary Reference Tool by Jane Horn). Our kind of chef ~ fearless.

The Pastilla was simply amazing. After dinner it was King's Cribbage and Rummy Cubes until we couldn't keep our eyes open. We have a hard day of relaxing ahead of us tomorrow so it's off time bed for some shuteye. 

June 19th

After breakfast we took a walk down their wooded driveway and up the road to visit the neighbor's Alpaca's. They had just been shaved for summer, all but their heads. So they looked a little like Disney characters, all with very different personalities. Only one of my photos turned out, but you can kinda of get the idea. This is the surfer dude. 

After our 2.5 mile walk, Deb grilled chicken sausages for lunch. Rod loved the fact he wasn't cooking for a change and all Deb would me do is set the table. Oh darn!

Afternoon dedicated to visiting, reading and napping on the deck. BBQ quail for dinner and a quiet evening of jazz and cribbage. Tomorrow we head down the hill to Canby for a few days to visit family. This has been a great time out from our time out.