Monday, April 14, 2008

Out Here

I left Eugene, OR for Baker City on OR126 which turned into OR26 and then I picked up OR7 to Baker City. These roads run across the center of Oregon and are one of two main routes, a trip of 340 miles. Scattered along the route are towns of several thousand, but none of any particular size to city folks. There aren't many places in this nation you could drive 340 mile through so little population.

As I drove along I got to thinking how few cars I was seeing as I drove along, so after I reached a certain point that I thought was meaningful, a place called Prairie City at 7:30 PM Sunday which is 70 miles from Baker City on OR26. I counted the cars I met over that last 70 miles, all ten of them. Of that ten 3 were within 2 miles of Baker City and there was at least a 35 mile gap in which I met no cars.

It gets pretty lonely out here, if crowds are your thing. It would get very lonely if you were to have bad problems on the road. This was pretty decent weather, low 50s light overcast spring day and clear pavement and pretty much nobody else on the road. There is no cell reception so a 35 mile gap means it would be at least a half hour before somebody had a chance to see you standing beside the road. If that sounds a tad lonely there is this consideration, for over 2/3 of that 70 mile distance if your car was to go about 40 feet off the road it would be essentially invisible at night and pretty unnoticeable during the day.

This is - out here. You are no longer there, you are out here. Nothing is close by. If you have a problem you have you to count on. If you are going to drive out here it would be a good idea to know what is in your trunk and that should be the things you'd need to survive for awhile on your own. This is really nice country to visit and a great place to live if you can put up with some things, but it is a really bad idea to get stupid...out here.


Keeneye said...

We had friends who were visiting last weekend, and they admitted later this week that there's not much going on in Baker.

Nope. No big events, no fancy-shmancy parties, nowhere to wear your uncomfortable shoes.

If I say Thank God, is that insulting my friends?

Baker is everything that we could ever want.

Chuck Butcher said...

Sometimes people move here to get away from all that "stuff" and then can't figure they can't find "stuff" to do here. It doesn't take too many winters to finish them off.

If you say thank god and it's an insult don't worry about it, they'll be commisserating with friends over your fate out in the heathen sticks.

If you like the place for what it is, you'll keep being pleasantly surprised, I still say that after 20 years of being here by choice. (and knowing about that other "stuff")

Phil said...

Your reflections on the loneliness of wide-open spaces takes me back to my truckin' days, of leaving St. Regis, Montana, at 1:00 a.m. of a cold winter morning (-24 degrees), and driving until dawn before seeing another vehicle. You begin to understand what true isolation is when you realize you could break down, perhaps even block both lanes of a two-lane highway, and no one would notice.

As for Baker City, I lived there for a year-and-a-half (most of 2003, most of 2004), loved it, and look forward to one day moving back. Most of my traveling is done by bike, these days, and Baker City is even more bicycle friendly than Portland--but don't tell anyone.

Chuck Butcher said...

I've done US 2 across Montana in the middle of winter including all night driving and it is damn lonely out there. You can start looking at a lowering fuel tank with real concern, and scanning the horizon for a blush of light - and then finding it was a ranch not a town... I still had a couple gallons when I found an open station.

Um, Phil, you've told them...