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 97. I got out of the car here, and I just stood around for 5 minutes and listened to the wind blowing.
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.
“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.
26, on the way back to Portland.
Lake Outside of Madras.
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.