Day Three: Tuesday, May 22nd, Trail (Crater Lake), OR

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Crater Lake

Up at 5 this morning, and on the road for Oregon by 6. So far the day’s drive has been a bit surreal. Idaho was over before we knew it, the SE corner of Washington was uncomfortable and strange, and Northern Oregon is it’s own kind of strange.

Within a few minutes of crossing over the river, we happened upon miles and miles of earth-covered bunkers. Rows and rows and rows and rows of them. Stretching as far as the eye can see. Talk about otherworldly.

Dr. Google tells me we passed through the Umatilla Chemical Depot, once housing 12% of America’s chemical weapons. Yikes. Let’s just say things are a little barren up there. Thanks to the 1993 UN resolution, all the chemical weapons, at Umatilla and elsewhere, were destroyed by the end of 2011, but still, I won’t be in line when they’re auctioning off the cheap real-estate.

From the Umatilla Utopian Dream, we wound down the Columbia River Valley until it began to live up to its better-known name, the Columbia River Gorge. Unfortunately, we didn’t really get into the thick of it, but from what we saw, I will willingly concede to the place’s reputation for wonder and amazement.

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Mt. Hood, coming down into the gorge.

As soon as the getting got good, and we started to believe we might actually reach Mt. Hood, we hung a left and started climbing up into the highlands. I don’t know if this is considered high desert or not (it’s not all that high, but it sure seems like desert), but it’s all the same to me. Hot. Dry. Desolate. Devoid of everything but what I can only imagine might be giant sagebrush and pliocene lizards.

Gorgeous in it’s own, sci-fi way, but nothing can compensate for the fact that this place is not designed to support many lifeforms. I am slightly intimidated.

On our way towards the confusing dot on the map labeled Bakeoven, we slammed into the shocking oasis that is Maupin, OR.

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The only shot of the Deschutes I got. It all happened so quickly!

You’re just jetting along the top of the world, no speed limit signs to be found, and then wham! you hit the switchbacks that drop you into the Deschutes River Valley (Gorge?), and the tiny little community it supports. There is green everywhere (well, greener), which is new and wonderful, and the Deschutes cuts through town like a mirage. Though the population just barely breaks 400 here, there are no less than 8 rafting business lining the main drag (zig-zag). Plus fishing outfits. It is crazy. And then, as quick as you came, you’re up and out. Desert stretching off in every direction. You look back and you’d never know there was even a town there. Or a river. Or life.

From a foreign land,
KJ


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2 thoughts on “Day Three: Tuesday, May 22nd, Trail (Crater Lake), OR

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  1. Krista, I’m really enjoying reading your post about the trip you just took.  Living a little vicariously, reminiscing, and laughing. I like your sense of humor. I have relatives in and near Couer D’Alene, and used to have relatives in Seattle.  As a kid, and through my twenties, I traveled out there every so often.  My grandpa was a trucker, and took me back and forth to Idaho, and around here and there, now and then.  At times, I traveled with various relatives to go visit other relatives.  I have very fond memories of those times.  I loved driving in the mountains, even though it felt a bit hairy (hair pin turns on smaller roads with breathtaking views), it was so worth it.  Scary at times, exhilarating at others.  Climbing the passes, the views of the valleys from the top, the ride down, riding the brakes sometimes, noticing the big sand pits for runaway trucks, watching the view unfold as one descends.  Ahhh….I used to go every few years.  Now with young kids and my grandparents gone, I’ll wait a few more years.  Maybe by then my kids will be up for traveling that long and far.  I have a brother who recently moved to Montana not far from from the Idaho border.  I look forward to going out there. 

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience.  I’m reading Truck, by M. Perry right now.  I might go on a spree and read all his books. Jill

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