Cross Country Road Trip Legs 8 and 9: Idaho and Oregon

I can’t lie, I was disappointed to be anywhere after the day at Yellowstone–anything was going to be a letdown. The fact that there is a whole lot of nothing in Idaho does not help.
IMG_6286
We took I-20 to Craters of the Moon National Monument. The road went straight for awhile and then skirted a series of brown mountains. Eventually we got to Craters of the Moon National Monument. Spoiler alert: it was still empty!
f6794-dsc_5978
This is where a series of volcanoes erupted/exploded all over the plains of the Snake River basin. The mountain-y bits are still technically there, but they’re really small and unassuming. One would not guess that they barfed endless fields of lava for miles and miles.
d3f30-dsc_5980
Surprisingly (or not, really, since volcanic soil is quite rich), many trees and plants have sprung up. (Some died, like this, but plenty seem to be thriving.)
e96cb-dsc_5989
Seriously, endless miles of lava and nothing.
9c7f6-dsc_6006

After a couple hours looking at various views of lava, we continued our journey westward. We passed into Oregon and had dinner, and then drove another hour to a motel in La Grande for our penultimate night.

188d8-dsc_6029
On the way we apparently drove onto Mars.

013a3-dsc_6041
LEG 9
This was our final leg. It was also our shortest driving time–less than five hours. So we purposely had a leisurely morning and figured we’d stop along the way. There was actually some kind of Oregon Trail Pioneer Park soon after we started, but unfortunately it was closed. By this time we had come far enough west that we were out of Martian country and back into trees, at least for a little while. We were still on I-84, which we’d picked up before Boise the day before. That freeway actually follows the Oregon trail at a northwestern angle and meets up with the mighty Columbia River.

2da0d-img_6336

This made me think about a wonderful book I read as a teenager, Sacajawea by Anna Lee Waldo. It’s a historical novel of her entire life, and it is so completely fascinating. Obviously the Lewis and Clark expedition is a huge section of the book, and one of the parts I remember most is the end of their journey when they reach the mouth of the Columbia, and it’s teeming with people and fish and big water.

Obviously we weren’t anywhere near the mouth, and by now the Columbia has been tamed many times over by dams. But every time I see it, I think of what the river must have seen and wish I could see it like that.

Anyway! It was also exciting to reach the Columbia because it meant we were that much closer to our end point. And then Mt Hood appeared! I love mountains, and Mt Hood is an especially pretty one (though of course Mt Rainier is always number one in my heart). And the combo of mountain and river made me quite happy.

f69c0-dsc_6080

Add to that the lines of wind turbines along both sides of the river, and I was enthralled. We saw wind turbines in Iowa, Illinois, Wyoming, and now again in Oregon, and every time I was struck by how beautifully elegant they are, and how exciting it is that people are harnessing nature’s power without pollution. Even better that it’s happening both on land already in use (farms/fields–turbine footprints are quite small!) and on land that seems to useless. It really adds something to the landscape. I hope all the states continue to grow their wind farms!

580e0-img_6353
21958-dsc_6108

We arrived in Portland before 5pm. It was a Tuesday. We checked into a hotel for two nights, since our things wouldn’t be arriving until Thursday. Though it was exciting to reach our destination, I was mostly sad to see the end of our adventure. This whole thing was a transition into this new life, a middle ground of being of nowhere, and arriving in our new city meant that it was time to face the reality of all that’s coming, and a new kind of permanence.

DSC_6124

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s