Road Trip – Deschutes 2 – April 2015

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The Deschutes River in the early morning

Sunday April 5, 2015: I am up before Clifford, make myself a cup of organic French press coffee, and then sit in the sunshine on the bench by the river. Today is Easter and I take these few quiet moments to contemplate who or what Jesus was or is. Somewhere amidst the baffling contradictions, there is a truth that is significant.

It is chilly out, so I decide to build a little campfire. I didn’t bring much wood and there certainly isn’t anything to scavenge here, so it is more of a token effort.

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A token campfire in the morning

When Clifford gets up, we have breakfast and then walk up to the history kiosk at the edge of the campground. Several plaques with sketches and journal entries from Oregon Trail emigrants paint a picture of the hardships they had to endure. There is an old once-covered wagon, the ribbing now bare like the skeleton of a long-dead creature.

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The overland vehicle of the 1850’s

On the hillside above the campground, the remains of the old trail can still be seen and from the sketches we try to see where the trail on the opposite side of the river would have gone as the horses and wagons made their laborious way back up to the top of the bluff where the traveling would be somewhat easier.

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Remains of the trail above the campground

Because of the difficulty of crossing the Deschutes River, many goods and supplies for building new homes had to be left behind at this point, causing further hardship to the Oregon Trail families as they continued the journey westward.

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The rugged Oregon landscape along the Columbia River

The peacefulness of the day comes to an end when Clifford starts his projects: seeing if we can get water in and out of the Pony water tank requiring opening up the bench under which it resides and feeding a tube into the tank; the water tank overfills, leaking water into the carpeting on the Pony floor; the table holding the 7 gallon water jug collapses, damaging the jug; Clifford decides to spray bleach on the Pony walls to get rid of the mildew spots and gets bleach on some of my clothes. I was less than happy about that, both from the fact that some of my clothes were damaged and that bleach is toxic to breathe so I can’t go inside for several hours. I am not a happy camper at this point, but realistically, I know things could be worse, so I try not to be a total grump about the whole business – after all, it is Easter and I am not an emigrant on the Oregon Trail. However, looking at the Pony and the lack of conventional modern conveniences, I can imagine being an emigrant. I do empathize with them, especially the women.

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Beauty in the barrenness

Monday April 6, 2015: We go to The Dalles for breakfast and then on out to the Discovery Center. This is a well- designed center that covers the geology of the areas as well as the history, including the Lewis & Clark Expedition and the Oregon Trail. It was very interesting and informative, and we both felt it was well worth the time spent there.

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What remains from early settlers

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Could he be an early settler looking at his wagon?

In the evening I begin editing photos of our time here at Deschutes Oregon State Park. It has been a pleasant place to stay, but I am eager to move on to more remote camping in the forest around Bend, Oregon, our destination for tomorrow.

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A pleasant place to stay

Road Trip – Deschutes 1 – April 2015


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Pasco tulips

Wednesday, April 1 and Thursday April 2: After leaving Palouse Falls, we travel to Pasco, Washington, to spend the night with good friends. They provide a delicious dinner, a fun outing to a local brewery, and a comfortable bed for the night. After a tasty breakfast the next morning,  we say our good-bye’s before heading south to Oregon and then west on I 84 along the Columbia River to Deschutes Oregon State Park, which is located on the bank of the Deschutes River at its confluence with the mighty Columbia. As we travel I notice how rugged and barren the landscape is on both sides of the river – not very hospitable at all, it seems to me.

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Barren landscape, but great clouds

When we arrive at the park, I am pleased to see that it is a huge lovely lawn with a variety of handsome trees. There are not many campers here this time of year, especially as we are arriving mid-week. We choose a spot on the corner of a loop near the river.

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Lovely big lawn and handsome trees

Initial set-up is easy, as the parking spot is paved and level. Once the Pony is set up, I realize there is more mildew than what I could see when we did the modified set-up at Palouse Falls. I tackle the inside with cleaning products from Melaleuca until the Pony smells clean, though I can still see some discoloration from the mildew. It takes quite awhile longer to get things in place because of this extra cleaning, but once that is done we have a good dinner and relax a bit before heading to bed.

Friday April 3: I didn’t sleep well, as the traffic noise from I 84 is non-stop and trains rumble by every couple of hours. On the plus side of things, this is an attractive park, there are flush toilets and showers, the Deschutes River is near at hand, and the trees are quite wonderful. A row of Lombardy poplars line the river bank, a huge golden willow stands tall and solid in the center of the park grounds, and there are other trees the likes of which I have never seen.

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A row of Lombardy poplars line the bank of the river

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A weeping willow tall and sturdy

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Trees the likes of which I have never seen

We are quite comfortable here and, except for the traffic and trains, which are easy to ignore in the daytime, this is a lovely peaceful place to spend a few days.

Saturday April 4: After breakfast I make a picnic and then we head west to Hood River, which we find to be an attractive little town, and then south on state highway 35 toward Mount Hood. Even though the road begins to climb right away, we see many orchards in bloom for several miles. As we get nearer Mount Hood, the landscape becomes more forested, obscuring the view of the great mountain. We take the road up to Timberline Lodge, as Clifford was here as a teenager and is interested in seeing it again after the passage of so many years. For me, it is the first time I have been in the area and I am thrilled to see Mount Hood up close.

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Mount Hood behind clouds

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Mount Hood from Timberline Lodge

After we have our picnic sitting in the Blazer at Government Camp at the base of the mountain, being too chilly to sit outside, we head back down the road and arrive at our campsite in the late afternoon. I take a few more photos of the river before going inside to make dinner, followed by the evening activities of studying (Clifford) and looking at the day’s photos (me).

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Deschutes River seen from the bridge

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Deschutes River at evening light

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Last light on the river

We have decided to stay another couple of days, as we would like to learn more about the history of the region before we travel on. This area is significant both in terms of the emigrants on the Oregon Trail in the mid 1800’s as well as the Lewis and Clark Expedition before them in the early 1800’s. We plan to catch up on emails and needed downloads for research tomorrow while we have cell service (our means of accessing the internet), and visit the Discovery Center outside of The Dalles, just a few miles to the west, on Monday. For tonight, I will listen to the river and try to ignore the traffic and the trains as I sleep.

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Time for bed