Monday, July 14, 2008

A Pictoral Tour Of Portland to Baker OR - Almost

On Saturday and Sunday 7/12-13 the Democratic Party of Oregon held meetings in Tualatin south of Portland. On Sunday afternoon the Merkley and Obama campaigns held the opening of their office at SE Division and 30th in Portland so I stopped by to pick up some campaign paraphernalia and save shipping. Since I had bailed off the Interstate and was inside Portland I decided that I was tired of driving 350 miles on I-84 and I would cross Oregon on OR 26 which runs from Portland past Mt Hood and pretty much across the center of the state. Many of my readers are unfamiliar with the territory so some pictures seemed in order. I didn't get out of Portland until after 5 PM . ***click the pictures for full size***

Below is OR 26 outside Sandy approaching Mt Hood after driving across Portland and Gresham and Sandy. Mt Hood is white in the center and the highway cuts along the southern shoulder of the mountain, right in the picture. This is the wet side of Oregon, though it is drier than the coast. Traffic was light and running at the speed limit - for a change.

Below is just east and south of Mt Hood, central OR looking east. There's not much out there.
Leaving Mt Hood behind, in the rear view mirror, driving very nearly due south. This is the western edge of the rain shadow of the Cascade Mts. and it is dry.
North of Madras is the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, picture is looking west across the valley/gorge with the town of Warm Springs at its bottom. In the distance is the Cascade Range. The Deschutes River (h/t Hanna) runs through town. The trees in the foreground are junipers, a deep rooted species found in semi-arid conditions. The color of the wood ranges from a light tan through orange into dark brown with a very twisty grain. Some folks make furniture from it and the colors are quite pretty, though it is difficult to use and seldom is utilized. When juniper spreads uncontrolled it draws the water tables down quite badly. The SSR seems to sneak into photographs.

About half way between Prineville where OR 26 turns nearly due east, it is a very curvy road, ducking around lots of things, like that knob ahead and frequently following streams or rivers. This is at the foot of the Ochoco Mountains, leaving that range.
Entering Picture Gorge of the John Day Fossil Beds, I'm just a little late for the sun to pick up the colors well, the background is still lit showing the colors that are beginning to wash out of the foreground.
In the middle of Picture Gorge following the N Fork of the John Day River on about the longest straightest stretch of road in there. Lots of 25 mph curves and very little off the road you'd want to involve your vehicle with. Sharp rocks are a consistent tire hazard from falls.
Just exiting Picture Gorge looking across the John Day River with the Strawberry Mountains in the background, I've always felt as though this is the entrance into Eastern Oregon. The river has some nice trout though on much of it barbless hooks are required and some fish are catch and release only. The highway will take me to the north of the Strawberries, or left in the picture. As you see in the picture the light is beginning to fade and I still have a couple hours to go to get home. Bad planning for any pictures near Baker City, an hour out it was pitch black and the half moon wasn't sufficient for photography.
By home I've left Portland a bit above sea level, crossed the Cascades, crossed the Ochocos, and crossed the Elkhorns for mountain ranges and several pretty good grades that aren't actually mountains in these parts. Running at 63 mph with the top down on the SSR hurt mileage a bit, it managed 19.3 mpg rather than the 22+ it would get otherwise. I'll take the trade off, it was a nice day and a nice drive with only a few suicidal Mule deer requiring hard braking. I always pack a handgun for euthanasia purposes though it's been years since I hit one. My wife would be pretty hard to get along with if I bent up her SSR with a critter.
I stopped in Dayville (pop a couple hundred) at a cafe thinking I'd just grab a bite, but they were just closing. A handful of locals on the front porch sipping some suds were quite impressed with the SSR and considerably less impressed with my "I'm A Grassroots Democrat" badge. Some light banter was exchanged, but having lived 20 years in E OR I learned long ago to keep it light and not take it too much to heart. If you intend to be a lefty Democrat in these here parts it pays to have a sense of humor. I have that.


Carla said...

Picture Gorge...did you know that there are petroglyphs on those rocks?

Very cool stuff.

Chuck Butcher said...

I've seen a couple, but never really explored the area

Hannah said...

Nice report, Chuck. Hwy 26 is beautiful, but not built for speed. For anyone heading through Oregon east-west and not in a hurry, I'd highly recommend it over I-84.

Of interest are the Ochocco Mtns (really interesting hunks of rock), the John Day fossil beds, and the Kam Wah Chung Museum in John Day (absolutely fascinating!)

Sumpter is also quite interesting (between Hwy 26 and Baker City)(info link on website above)

Minor correction: the river flowing through Warm Springs, or rather the east side of Warm Springs is the Deschutes. Approx. 12 miles straight line distance upstream, the Metolius, Crooked and Deschutes Rivers all join forces in the three-armed reservoir known as Lake Billy Chinook. The Deschutes continues north from the dam and joins the Columbia River east of The Dalles.

Chuck Butcher said...

Thanks Hannah, I knew better but I was tired and thinking wrong, fixed now.

I have a handling vehicle and make that run about +30 minutes vs I84 depending on end destination.