RSS Feed

Central Oregon

I get kind of ambitious with my route planning whenever I rent a car because…well, shit.  It’s super expensive to rent one when you’re under 25, so I can only afford it for a day or two, and Christ, there’s so much out in this part of the world that I feel ridiculous for not having seen yet: Crater Lake, Eugene, Pendleton, Spokane, Northern California (by the light of day, I mean — not just speeding down the 101 at 2 in the morning on the way to San Francisco and mentally sculpting the passing shadows into a herd of elk and a  massive redwood tree). 

This trip was no exception.  My last final was Friday, I go back to school next Monday, and I could only get Sunday off this weekend.  Which meant I had to cram a whole hell of a lot of travel into 10 hours. 

Do you know how much 10 precious hours with a no-frills American sedan cost a less than 25 year old, by the way?   They cost him 90 dollars, my friends. Nearly 1/6th of his meager paycheck.  Plus gas.  So you all see where I’m coming from here.

Anyway, my planned route was as follows: take 84 east from Portland to The Dalles, 97 south from the Dalles to Bend, and then 26 west back into Portland.  The travel time would be about 8 hours, leaving me a two hour margin for pictures, food, and getting lost.  I explained this to a friend at work on Friday, who in response gave me a cock-eyed look, and asked what the point was of driving somewhere just so I could drive right back.  I sighed inwardly at the dissapointing realization that this person and I would never be truly close friends.

Adding to the stress would be the lack of a travel companion on this excursion, as Will had gotten sick at the last minute.  This meant that I would have a good chunk of time alone to spend wondering what was so wrong with me that I didn’t mind driving 8 hours round trip alone with no apparent purpose.  Swell. 

But it was still an exellent trip. 


The Columbia Gorge outside of Hood River. It gets more and more dramatic and scenic as you travel east from Portland, peaking  just West of The Dalles.  Its decline is swift, though, and by the time you hit The Dalles, everything’s nicotine yellow and barren. 

South of the Dalles on 197

South of the Dalles on 97.  I got out of the car here, and I just stood around for 5 minutes and listened to the wind blowing.

197 (2)

Further South of the Dalles on 197

Central Oregon 1

You’ll notice that the further south you travel, the less it looks like prarie and the more like desert.  Mitchell has this very dreamy song called “Amelia,” which is about a lot of things, but the gist of it is she’s driving through the desert, and the open landscape is causing her thoughts to drift and expand interospectively.  I have listened to that song about 1000 times, in about 100 different settings, but noneso appropriate as this. 


The Deschutes River Gorge outside of this tiny little roadside town called Maupin, which is essentially perched on a cliff above the Deschutes, and has only one filling station, which charges a 50 cent middle-of-nowhere premium per gallon.

Outside Madras

The Honor System

“Welcome to Central Oregon, where we have a quaint and unreasonable amount of faith in the Honor System.”  (You can’t really tell what’s going on unless you click on the photo).


I ended up not making it all the way to Bend — got a little nervous about driving over Mount Hood in the dark — and decided to stop and eat in Madras (about 40 miles north) before heading back.  I’m kind of glad I left Bend for another trip.  I had already taken in so much, I’d almost feel like a glutton if I went any further. 

Between Maupin and Madras

26, on the way back to Portland. 

Deschutes River Gorge

Lake Outside of Madras.

More Gorge

I know I’m supposed to get all excited about all of the dense forests and clear mountain streams in Western Oregon, but I have to admit I’m more drawn to sparer landscapes like this.  The blanket of fir trees and ferns over everything in the Valley just gets really monotonous.

I am developing a mighty penchant for back-up singers.  I keep YouTubing old 60s band-stand style shows.  BEHOLD THE GLORY.

You see that little synchronized dip thing they do every time they sing “forever”?  SHIT, YEAH.  Also, Aretha Franklin kind of smiles with her eyelids when she’s hitting a really rapturous note.  And that  look on her face when she sings “I just take me some time” cracks me up every single time I watch this.  That’s something you know Dionne Warwick would have never had the balls to do.


6 responses »

  1. You know, I’m over 25. And I appreciate the joy of driving somewhere just to drive somewhere. I used to do this all the time with my best friend in and just out of high school. The back roads of Southwest exurbia are engrained into my brain like, well, something often engrained into one’s brain. Just so you know.

    We missed you on Saturday, btw. We need to hang out soon. Road trips optional.

  2. The low hills of the outer Southwest side are laden with forests and farms. There are a couple neat scenic drives… the Washington County Scenic Loop is pretty neat. I used to drive around with Bonnie, my best friend of the time (and still pretty close), and we would just screech around the turns in my mom’s Corolla and sing along to our latest fave CDs at the top of our collective lungs. We’d even go at night, hitting up “100 Mile-An-Hour Hill” and “The Dip” (the former has since been re-structured for safety reasons, the latter still exists in Wilsonville).

    They were most definitely good times.

    As for Saturday, I’m not sure what’s going on yet. I think I have a couple friends dropping by with some chairs they’re going to give us, but I’m uncertain whether or not they’ll be staying long. I have to work until 2ish, too. I’ll keep you posted though. Texty texty?

  3. Those are beautiful pictures. Just wait until you’re an Accountant Of Note, and you can drive through Idaho and New Mexico for no damn good reason. Those are beautiful drives. And I second the bit about conifers being terribly boring–they are.

    I miss road trips. Although, now that I live approximately 1 hour away from everything in the world, I actually do considerably more aimless driving as I ever did in Portland. Even the trip to the fosterpug vet is an hour. Gainesvegas, you know. It’s a geographically oddity.

    I had dinner with my cousin and her girlfriend at our place last Sunday, and I’ve got to tell you about it. Heidi (that’s the girlfriend, officially one of the cutest people ever) is now determined to set my dad up with some guy she met at a bar. He’s in AA too. So why does he go to bars, you ask?

    Two words: Video Poker.

    Oh yeah, this is gonna be awesome. 😉

  4. ANDREW, I very much like the changes that you have made to this website thingie here. Nice conifers! On the whole, very excellent job here dude. How do I switch my blog’s coolness level to “ON”?

  5. yay christmas! so classy and tasteful for a holiday theme!
    also, looking at those pictures, i have decided we need to be friends forever kthxbye
    ps it was good seeing you! hope you weren’t too late getting back to work 🙂

  6. The Mountain Goats are going to be in Portland November 11th and you should go see them. Even if you don’t like them. They’re fabulous live.


Leave a Reply

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

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

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: