Friday, October 1, 2010

Bye Bye Boise and On to Oregon: Sept 26

With fruit and hugs, a full thermos of strong coffee, and a squeaky clean truck and camper, we say goodbye to Camille and Boise around 10 am, heading west via the interstate for a brief period in this high desert to eastern Oregon, where the scent of freshly dug onions fill the air.

And onions fill this truck...

Freshly dug (click to big it up)...

Boxed and heading your way...

Have you ever had a travel day where it seemed you'd never get where you were going? It all started out fine. The gentle geometry in eastern Oregon along Route 20 is far more intriguing than we'd thought. Our route takes us alongside a companionable creek.

Lunch today
Smoked salmon on Rob's brown rice crackers with raw cauliflower and bananas. Bad photo, good lunch.

The north fork of the Malheur River. En Francais? Bad Hour River? We're at just 2500 feet elevation.

Something about these dotted trees reminds me of Grandma Moses.

The white rock of Drinkwater Pass, 4212 feet, where we pick up 395 south, heading for the closest camp we could ID, except it's not actually on the state map because this map, like South Dakota's, shows only state campsites. Is this self-preservation? When are mapmakers going to wise up and provide markers for federal campsites too?

It's a long drive today, even longer than the 5 hours we'd figured, as we'd find out down the road. Still it's lovely.

At 12:42 we Fall Back to Pacific Time and suddenly it's morning again. Here's our route. Heading for Fremont National Forest, the very first state or federal campsite on our road atlas at this latitude, very far south in Oregon. We want to keep to a southerly route so when we turn north on the Oregon Coast we can drink in every inch of it.

The beauty here is almost painful, bringing to mind Stephen Ambrose's UNDAUNTED COURAGE.  Why would a state map of Oregon not trace the Oregon Trail? Isn't it a glorious part of the state's history? More questions for mapmakers...

As if I needed confirmation: I am so tired of the desert. We're back in it after Idaho's glorious Bonneville campground with its pines and river, and I am ready to leave behind this tumbleweed-strewn wasteland, devoid of liquid, which has a beauty of its own but is making my face crack and feel like it's falling off (it's making me cranky too, can you tell?).

At 3 pm we stop at a roadside rest area, the first in 100 miles. Two motorcycle riders are there. She has the flu and is lying down on top of a picnic table with a cough that sounds like a TB ward. There's a sign on the bathroom door that says you should tell a fellow camper you're going in, lest you become locked in forever. Yikes.

Plus, there are rattlesnakes, according to a sign I read. Also, did I mention it's hot and dry?

After getting some frozen chocolate out of the camper to make us (!) feel better, I stumble on a series of eco posters done by 5th graders. You would think someone would have corrected this egregious spelling error. Now I've really jumped the snark.

We see these ingenious fence holders everywhere.

There's been some bizarre volcanic activity in Oregon's distant past. I spy a sign for Abert Lake and hope for a glimpse of water. Does this look like a lake to you, or mostly precipitate?

The heat knifes into my psyche. I've been thinking about the cellist for Electric Light Orchestra whose van was struck by a downhill, out-of-control hay bale. He was killed instantly. This was in Devon, England. Is life really that random? Is the heat compromising my thought processes? How did Lewis and Clark hold it together in this vast desert?

Almost 7 hours and counting, but at least we're seeing trees again. We pass up a side trip to the Old Perpetual Geyser (Art calls it Old Perpetual Geezer) because we just want to stop for the night.

We drive on and on and finally hit our turn-off and keep driving. No camping signs where they should be. Your navigator grows increasingly agitated, as her loved one has been driving now for 378 miles, and we don't do many of these long hauls. With a map in my hands, I don't missed marked campsites.

A friendly Harley guy on the side of the road suggests a picnic area several miles ahead could be what we're looking for. We're already miles past where the state and federal campsites shown on our atlas should have been, and the shadows are lengthening.

We turn in when we see it, grateful for any site with a reasonably level surface and a toilet.

The signs say it's a bird sanctuary and honestly, it's probably a picnic area, but there are no No Camping signs, so we offload and I get to supper: sauteed shitaake mushrooms and steamed broccoli from the Boise co-op, a nice avocado and rooftop tomato salad, and a piece of garlic bread I also got at the co-op.

There, that's better. Restored, we take in some fresh air in the fading light. It's a cool, utterly quiet evening. We haven't paid anything to sleep here. We're just grateful to be here.

No comments:

Post a Comment