The Columbia River Gorge

On Tuesday, August 22, we peeked at some Boise sights before leaving.  We went to the Micron Semiconductor headquarters, and snapped a photo from the road of the world’s largest nitrous oxide tank.  As a result of bad Google Maps guessing, we ended up at the Old Idaho Penitentiary, and why not have a look?  The museum has the world’s most cheerful ticket taker, and an impressive prison tattoo and prison weapon exhibit.  The ticket man said we should go to the Roosevelt Grocery and have quiche.  It’s a pleasant change to take marching orders from happy people.  We had lunch in a neighborhood featuring many fine old houses from the late 19th century.  The lunch place is called Roosevelt Grocery and is notable for being across from an elementary school and they don’t forbid students from entering more than six at a time.  Lack of prejudice is worth seeking out.  The green chili quiche is good too.

Then we headed up I-84 towards the Columbia River.

We stopped at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center outside of Baker City for a little stretch.  They tell you not to walk on the ruts.  This is not to the point.  Tens of thousands of people walked on those ruts already, and it doesn’t give the right impression to show faint tracks under grown sagebrush.  Here is a proposal for another Oregon Trail interpretive center:  Take few dozen acres of the trail and build a few dozen prairie schooners and all summer long, run them (bearing tourists of course) many times a day over a one or two hundred meter wide stripe of land, rain or shine, leaving ruts and wagon parts and footprints and hoof marks and the ground would then look like the Oregon Trail actually did.

Of course you all have noticed that the eclipse followed the Oregon Trail quite accurately.  The staff had all viewed.  One very young looking clerk said it was her last eclipse.  She has had breast cancer and her future is uncertain.  She did not tolerate chemotherapy well.  Currently she is in the “they think they got it all,” phase of life, and all of you reading this, wish her well according to your various contradictory faiths, and pray that her husband keeps his insurance-bearing job because she doesn’t get enough hours in the gift shop to qualify for insurance for her surgeries and drugs.

I sent our friend Sam a post card that said “You have died of dysentery,” referring to the Oregon Trail game craze he was swept up in as a teenager.  We had previously sent him a t-shirt with that slogan, after seeing one some years back, in Portland.

That day ended in Hermiston, where we visited briefly with a very old friend who has had a career with Oregon Fish and Wildlife, assisting with the reintroduction of salmon into  previously dammed-off tributaries of the Columbia.  Now he can have Atlantic salmon, too!  In between administrative hostility at the highest level and Jurassic Park irresponsibility on the economic front — you knew we were doomed, I don’t have to keep dwelling on it.

Wednesday we drove down the Columbia River Gorge.  First we saw the Maryhill Museum’s Stonehenge replica, and then the museum itself.  The first room you enter was all about Marie, Queen of Roumania and friend of Sam Hill the founder (no, not What The Sam Hill).  A Rodin room had an interesting exhibit showing the stages of the lost-wax method of making bronze sculptures, and a Native American room had many cute artifacts.  We briefly watched windsurfers and kitesurfers at Hood River, and then saw waterfalls.  We went on a short walk to Elowah Falls, then took pictures of a woman’s water polo team getting their pictures taken at Horsetail Falls, and glanced at Multnomah Falls.  We drove up to Vista House, but it was closed so we didn’t go inside.  The view up there is pretty great.  We drove on to Portland for dinner.