Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Oregon August 2015

All Pictures and Video at the bottom

Between June of 1979 and September of 1981 I visited almost every National Park, most National Forest, and many of the designated National Landmarks in the continuous United States via a Motorcycle. That was well over 30 years ago. Over the last few years I have been in the process of
revisiting a lot of those sites.

This trip included Crater Lake, and Mount Hood, Crater Lake being a National Park, Mount Hood being a National Forest as well as the Timberline Lodge being a National Historic Landmark.

This trip was focused around biking and hiking. Margarite and I flew into Seattle Airport, while certainly not the closest airport to where we were headed one of the most flexible in terms of flight schedules. We also planned to use this trip to visit and actually meet some friends, Rob and Jean Wilson. I had met Rob through a referral when I was investigating climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. Rob and I had spoken and emailed quite a bit over the last few years. Rob and Jean live in Portland so we decided to take this opportunity to actually meet face to face.

It had been many years since I had been to Portland, the last time was for a salmon fishing trip, maybe 15 or 20 years ago. While the city had not changed much, the downtown area seemed dirtier than I remembered and the homeless population seemed to out number any other demographic in the downtown area. Most of the homeless seemed very young, early 20's. If I were to make a guess most of the homeless where actually rich kids trying to prove to their parents that they did not need their parents' money. Why did I think this? Maybe since most if not all had the latest I phones, while all appeared to be dirty and unkempt it was more like makeup and hair style, then from not washing for days or weeks at a time. It was like watching a scene from a movie about the homeless, where you
knew the actors could go home anytime they wanted to.

Rob and Jean had us to their house for a fantastic lunch. They gave us some great suggestions on what to see and how to get there while we were visiting Oregon. There first suggestion was to take 84 east through the Hood River Gorge, what a beautiful drive, stopping along the way to take in the breadth taking views as well as the many water falls.

We were hoping to overnight in the town of Hood River, but being a Saturday evening every decent hotel was sold out. We continued on and stayed at the Country Cousin's Inn in The Dalles, what a great place, true middle America.

Today we will be driving to Crater Lake, we do have concerns, there are record forest fire in this part of the country, causing many of the routes we would like to take to be closed due to smoke and or fire.

Our first stop on our way to Crater Lake is Bend Oregon. We had rented two road bikes from Sunnyside Sports, while they did a great job of providing the bikes, I would say they are not the sharpest knifes in the draw when it comes to helping their customers.

After a nice lunch at The Drake in Bend, Oregon, we headed south towards Crater Lake, the fires were getting closer, we knew highway 230 was closed, we continued hoping that highway 138 (the
north entrance) would stay open, otherwise we would have an additional 2 hours of driving.

As we got closer and closer to Crater Lake the smoke got thicker and thicker. As we entered the park we were told we would be one of the last cars allowed to enter as the north entrance would be closing due to fire.

The smoke continued to thicken, it was as if we were driving through a fog bank. As we rose out of the valley and gained elevation we left the smoke behind arriving at the Lodge at 4:00 PM, once checked in, we headed south to meet up with Ross and Sue who would be joining us for the week. They had made reservations about 30 minutes south of the park at Becky's Cafe. Becky's is famous for its down home country cooking.

It had been a long day so we decided to call it a night and hit the sack. Whenever I visit a National Park I am always impressed with both the parks and the lodges. It is important to remember that most of the National Parks, and the Lodges were built during the depression as part of the New Deal, known as the Work Program Act (WPA). Remember during the Great Depression there was no unemployment insurance. Rather than have the Government just give money away, they created the WPA, which created jobs, but more importantly these were jobs that created national treasures for future generations. Not to get political, but in my opinion a WPA type program is far more productive than unemployment insurance. We had planned to bike the Rim of Crater Lake departing at 6:30 AM. The weather was perfect, the air a little smoky, clouding what would have been pristine views. The ride was just 35 miles of some great climbs and fantastic downhill's, while at the same time viewing beautiful landscapes. After the ride and a very hardy breakfast / Lunch we took an afternoon hike to one of the high ridges that over looked the Crater Lake.

We were just spending two nights at Crater Lake so we decided to take the boat tour on our second
day before heading back to Bend. The tour was well worth the $40.00 fee giving us a different perspective of the lake, and also a lot of facts and history. Such facts as Crater Lake is both the deepest and clearest lake in the country.

With the North Entrance closed we had to exit the park through the south entrance adding a few hours to our drive. We had rented a house through This would be our first disappointment using We had booked a very nice house a few months back, but just a few weeks prior to our trip the homeowner canceled claiming the house had a flood. There was no compensation to us for this inconvenience, which shocked me. The reason this shocked me was if we had canceled we would have been billed the entire rent.

At this point we had to scramble to find a house. The selection was limited, the house we picked had a great location and no other redeeming qualities.

We spent the next few days biking and hiking. What a beautiful area for both of these activities. The weather was picture perfect both in the early mornings and late afternoons with the heat building during the day. Ross did some great planning for the bike rides, never a bad one.

The restaurants in Bend were all fantastic, I need to mention one, Spork on Newport Road. It is in a strip mall, and you would think twice about stopping in, it looks as if it is just some fast food restaurant, but that could not be further from the
truth. The food was all farm to table and freshly made. Do not pass this place up.

After Bend we headed back to Seattle by way of Mt. Hood and Portland. Mt Hood was similar to what I remembered from my visit over 32 years ago. Except this time the mountain was not fogged in, but smoked in, and instead of snow there was dirt.

Thirty two years ago in July there were several feet of snow in the parking lot and on the mountain. The snow combined with the warm air created a dense fog. Today just smoke and fires. Climate change or something else?

I gave Margarite a tour of the Timberline Lodge another WPA project. What a beautiful place.

We stayed at the Monaco Kimpton  in Downtown Portland, a very beautiful hotel in a very dirty grimy city. We took the underground tour of Portland, well worth the $20.00 fee, learning a lot about the history of this port city.

Our last day would involve the drive back to Seattle and a visit with Z checking out his new condo and seeing some of the sites of Seattle.

Not sure where I will be off to next.





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