August 13, 2006

Idaho Trip, Day 1

At the end of July, I used my frequent flyer miles which have been accruing for years to fly out to Portland to go on a road trip with Amy. This is the first installment of photos from that trip. Our only goal that we started out with was to "see Idaho". It was truly one of the best weeks of my life, and both of us had a lot of difficulty returning to our respective city lives, but I'm still processing, so more on that later...

Sunday, July 23rd, we leave Amy and Tony's house in Portland. I was supposed to have finished my professional paper the week before, at the lake... I mean the Friday before, in the cities... I mean on Saturday during my layover in Billings... Saturday evening in Portland??? (Sound familiar? See comentary on DC Road Trip.) So we decided to just head out with paper unfinished. Amy had procured all the necessities for a week of camping, including a great tent off Craig's List (photos to follow), and a borrowed mountain bike for me.

Amy, Tony, and John's place in Portland
Amy and Tony's in Portland.jpg

We took Oregon 26 east through the cascades toward Mount Hood
Cascades pre Hood.jpg

And soon spotted our first anarchist van
Anarchist Van.jpg

First Mt. Hood.jpg

We stopped at Umbrella Falls at the foot of Mount Hood. It was incredibly beautiful, but our camera died for a while, so we only got two photos. The first is of Turkey's Beard, a plant that Amy had never seen in the wild before and was absolutely ecstatic about. It smelled really interesting, sorta skunky. This was the beginning of the week of mind-blowing smells:
Turkey's Beard.jpg

In the pools of the falls, we discovered "the awesomest bird ever". We don't know what it was, and it didn't pose very well, but just believe us, we could have watched it for an hour. Actually, we did.
Awesomest Bird Ever.jpg

Coming out of the Cascades, the landscape seems to change within two miles and suddenly you're on these beautiful dry plains with smoke from forest fires blowing across them. Soon you're in the Warm Spring Reservation, which has one of the best community radio stations ever, KWSO 91.9.
Amy Driving Warm Spring.jpg

Smoky Warm Springs.jpg

Warm Springs Cloudy Mtn 700pxl.jpg

Warm Springs Pines.jpg

Warm Springs Central Mtn.jpg

We took a look at the atlas and decided to camp at Cove Palisades State Park on Lake Billy Chinook.
Sagebrush at Cove Palisades.jpg

Cove Palisades Rainbow.jpg

The Island in Billy Chinook.jpg

Sunset Cove Palisades.jpg

This was day one of the trip. More to follow when I get the time...

August 12, 2006

Idaho Trip, Day 2

On Monday we drove up out of the ravine of Lake Billy Chinook to head into town (Culver, OR).
Cove Palisades Road.jpg

Cove Palisades Ridge 2.jpg

Cove Palisades Valley.jpg

This is where we had our first sprinkler-sighting. The cows were quite fond of them... as are Boiseans, we later found out.
Cows in Sprinklers.jpg

In the daylight, we got to see the fields we'd driven through the evening before, and discovered that we were staying in a Neutral Milk Hotel lover's dream...
Carrot Flowers 1.jpg

3 Sisters and Carrot Flowers.jpg

Yes, those are carrot flowers! Fields and fields of them! Notice also the smoke rising in the picture above. At first we thought one of the Three Sisters was erupting, but it was a forest fire, beginning our new tradition of always camping within a few miles of forest fires.

Carrot Flowers closeup.jpg

These fields emanated an absolutely delicious smell. We had stopped the night before to sniff, but hadn't been quite able to identify it. Today, however, we realized it was cilantro (!), and stopped to sniff some more.
Cilantro Field.jpg

The reason that the carrots and cilantro were flowering, we surmised, is that Culver is producing seeds.
Seed Growers.jpg

In Culver, population 802, I plopped myself down at the local wireless hot spot for five hours and churned out the final version of my professional paper, thus completing a good 18 years of schooling, hopefully the last of it.
Culver Market.jpg

I rewarded myself with a Beetle Baily Burger next door. The waitress told us she was going on a road trip this summer with her sister, who was moving, and she was hoping to stop in Minneapolis.
Beetle Baily Burgers.jpg

Back in the park, we need a stretch after all that sitting in front of the computer, so we decide to take a hike in true Amy-Laila style, heading out on the climb to the top of the ridge at about... what would you say from this photo?
Hiking at Dusk, Billy Chinook.jpg
...oh I think it was about 7:30pm.

We saw all sorts of neat things, of course, including this flower with such stiff leaves that they felt like they'd crack if you bent them. Amy identified it as a compass flower.
Yellow Flower.jpg

Then there was the mysterious ant-spider. Meaning it had the legs of a spider, but was shaped like an ant and was a neon orange color. It didn't want to be photographed.
Strange Orange Spider.jpg

The ant-like spider is not to be confused with an antlion. Although we didn’t see any antlions, we did spot some antlion pits. I was familiar with antlions from the Moomintroll books. In particular, I remembered how evil antlions can be, in sucking small creatures into the sand and gobbling them up, and I remembered how Moomintroll and his friends got the better of the antlion by capturing him in the hobgoblin's hat where the sand was turned into water, and the antlion was transformed into a very soggy, sorry-looking hedgehog.

The antlion traps:
Ant Lions.jpg

We arrived at the top of the ridge after about an hour's hike when the light looked like this, and decided it was about time to head down.
Top of Hike, Dusk.jpg

But by fiddling with the camera, we still managed to get a nice photo of the view.
Amy over Billy Chinook.jpg

More soon...

August 11, 2006

Idaho Trip, Day 3

So day three of our trip finds us still at Cove Palisades State Park in Oregon. Here's your first shot of our tent, which Amy procured via Craig's List's "free" page especially for the trip. Notice how the amount of duct tape on the rainfly evolves over the course of the trip.

Tent at Cove Palisades.jpg

Also, compare our campsite...
Cove Palisades Camp.jpg

... to that of our neighbors:
Neighbor's Camp.jpg

Ah, nothing like the freedom of being away from the trappings of home, out in the wilds, is there?

Our next stop was Smith Rocks, supposedly a super place to rock climb. It was certainly beautiful, and we did do some climbing.
Intro to Smith Rocks.jpg

Switchback up Smith Rocks.jpg

River at Smith Rocks.jpg

Smith Rocks Cleft.jpg

Note the cleft in the rock to the left in the picture above, with that sort of meadow hidden up there? I immediately decided I wanted to live there. Climb up and build a house. Raise mountain goats. It looked pretty high up, but gave it a try and Amy actually made it up. I was within 5 feet but chickened out. Rock climbing is like tree climbing. You need to take it slow, climb the same spot over and over and go a little further each time. If you just scramble up there all haphazard... nah. Besides, I got to sit in the mouth a really fine bat cave. I recognized the smell from the zoo. (Another point for the trip of smells!)

Climbing to Cleft.jpg

Other folks were a bit more serious about their climbing:
Climbing Instructor.jpg

More intersting insect homes...
Bowl Spider Web.jpg

Smith Rocks River 2.jpg

After Smith Rocks, we kept on east towards Idaho, stopping to pick up supplies at Ray's Food Place in Prineville, where I made a (quite rare) impulse buy, I couldn't resist... the LOST ENERGY DRINK.

Lost Energy Drink.jpg

Amy and Lost Energy.jpg

We fueled up on energy so we would be able to hold out until dinner was ready, about 40 miles later, according to the internet. Given Oregon's ban on campfires, Amy had dreamed up the idea of Car Cooking the day before and was dying to try it out. So we wrapped ourselves some potatoes, wedged them over the exhaust manifold, and headed off down the road, awaiting our dinner.

Potato Wrap.jpg

Car Cooking 1.jpg

Except, whoops, is that really the exhaust manifold? No, I guess it's the intake manifold. Is there a difference? When it comes to cooking potatoes, YES. The zucchini over the shocks and the potato by the radiator didn't fare any better. They were all still raw 120 miles later.

Car Cooking 2.jpg

But Route 26 will be what I think of from now on when I think of Oregon. Now I can forget that nasty Portland place. This is one of the most beautiful roads I have ever been on.

Route 26, Oregon.jpg

Route 26 2.jpg

Route 26 Hair.jpg

Lone Tree on 26.jpg

Sunset on 26.jpg

Amy suggested doing a bike trip down 26 next summer. It doesn't look like the safest road...
Great Biking Road.jpg

Route 26 House.jpg

We saw some beautiful abandoned buildings. A precursor to our third night, spent in the "ghost town" of Whitney.

August 10, 2006

Idaho Trip, Days 4-7

The third night was the first one we spent actually in the van. This is something Amy's done before, but was a bit strange for me. Especially because we were in a true ghost town in the middle of the mountains. I heard a pack of coyotes during the night, and a dog somehow discovered us and barked a lot, but otherwise we were fine.


Morning in a Ghost Town.jpg

We went to see the drege in the mining town of Sumpter and had breakfast in a vacant lot along the main street, where deer grazed and wandered between the SUVs.

Sumpter Dredge.jpg

The landscape at the eastern edge of Oregon, along 84, was less striking than route 26, but still was the kind of place you just wanted to be hiking across.

Eastern Oregon shale landscape.jpg

Old Oregon Mine.jpg

We made it through Nampa, Idaho... We didn't actually stop there, so I shouldn't badmouth it, but it was the worst smell we encountered on the trip by far.

We found Boise well-sprinkled, with nice fluorescent-green gated communities scattered through the desert.

Sprinkled Boise.jpg

We were planning on tubing down the Boise River, an extremely popular local pastime, but it seemed too hot for it (and cost money... we came up with the idea of "hitchhiking" by the side of the river too late), so we found ourselves a great location (i.e. free parking spot) by the greenbelt and made ourselves at home. You really couldn't ask for a better place to stay. There were park bathrooms to change into swimwear in, easy transportation east and west by bicycle, picnic tables for lunch, and shady trees for reading and napping.

In the evening we headed to Grove Plaza (about 3 blocks away) for Alive After Five. There were lots of people out just having a good time, even adults were running through the fountain. Great people-watching. We had some Basque food for dinner and headed off to Neurolux for a show. The Koozies, from Eugene, were awesome. Amy was wearing her antennae-like surreptitious recording equipment, which turned out to be especially fortunate when Jake sat down and explained Idaho culture to us. It was also fortunate that he offered us a place to stay on his lawn, as our plan to sleep in some bushes along the river would have turned sour as soon as Boise's beloved sprinklers turned on. We discovered this as we attempted to bike back to our van along the greenbelt and got completely soaked.

Amy and Jake Boise.jpg

Day 5 we catch up on business using Flying M Coffee's internet connection, then head off down Idaho's Route 21 to Stanley and the Sawtooth Mountains. Turns out most Boiseans don't take 21 to get to Stanley. It's one of the most intense roads I've ever been on. I got so dizzy I had to make Amy drive the whole thing.

Route 21.jpg

It was stunningly beautiful, though. The Salmon River had this many shades on aquamarine, all in one spot. (Though actually these photos are from the South Fork of the Payette River, in Lowman. Thanks to Anne for the correction.)

Salmon River near Lowman.jpg

Aquamarine Salmon.jpg

Bluer Salmon by Lowman.jpg

Salmon post-fire.jpg

Grey Trees and Rocks, Sawtooth.jpg

When we got to the Sawtooths, we found more forest fires, and ended up camping in between two of them. Our tent held up just fine with some material draped to keep the mosquitoes out.

Sawtooths and Forest Fire.jpg

Sawtooth campsite.jpg

Amy in Craigs List Tent.jpg

I lay down to read about extremists, and we finally had our potatoes, cooked in the campfire. The outsides were burnt, but the insides were butter soft. Next morning I tracked down Amy using the van message board and we went mountain biking and hiking and swimming and such.

Van Message Board.jpg

That evening Jake joined us and we visited one of the local hot springs and saw lots of shooting stars.

The Box Hot Spring.jpg

Our final day in Idaho, Jake took us and Scott (who we'd met in the spring) on a hike about 9,000 feet up into the Sawtooth Wilderness Area. The following six photos (and the one above) are copyright Jake Hawkes.







We left the Sawtooths at sunset for the long drive back to Portland. We saw strange fires north of the freeway and turned off to try to see what they were, because there were many of them and they seemed deliberately set, but we couldn't find them.

Leaving Sawtooths, sunset.jpg

Sawtooth moon.jpg

Our final night was spent in Baker, Oregon, just off 84. Made it back to Portland just in time for me to catch my train up to Seattle. I was in total culture shock as soon as I stepped out of the van in Portland, being around so many people again.

Waking in Baker, Oregon.jpg

Oregon from 84.jpg

That's all the photos, but I'll try to write more about the experience as a whole sometime soon.