Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Being with Family and especially Grandkids has a way of re-orienting priorities which is exactly what's happened since arriving in Vancouver, WA. this past Monday, Labor Day. Thus I once again have a bit of catch-up to do with my journal.
After our long Hells Canyon day on Saturday, we kept our heads low on Sunday. Sleeping in until a much later than normal hour, the rest of the day was spent on reading, writing, processing photos, and preparing for the drive to the Portland/Vancouver area the next day. We had an eye-opening stay in La Grande... tucked between mountains, nice people, small town, comfortable. As we explore the USA we're finding more places like this. Make note of another one.
Motivated by an early phone call from Grandson Ryan on Monday morning, we had the bus-house rolling before 9am. Even though I'd done the drive down I-84 many times years ago when we lived in Vancouver and I was traveling on business, I had forgotten the splendor of the Blue Mountains, which are traversed between La Grande and Pendleton. There's just something that happens to me when I'm around mountains. It feels right.
Once out of the mountains the terrain flattens as the road heads toward the Columbia River which is followed the rest of the way to Portland/Vancouver. On this segment, starting about Arlington, OR., the Columbia River has created another geological spectacle by cutting it's way through the rising Cascade Mountains on it's way to the ocean. The resulting Gorge is noted for it's dramatic vistas, waterfalls, and recreational activities. When we lived in the area many years ago we'd often just drive into the Gorge, find a trail to hike, and forget all those rat-race concerns -- at least for a few hours. It really did help.
Even though we tried to time our travel so we'd be ahead of the bubble of city-dwellers returning from their long weekend, traffic was getting heavy by 2PM and it took a bit longer than usual to top off the tank at the Flying J in Troutdale. Lines at the gas islands were three and four deep; the diesel islands less so. Have I mentioned lately how much I prefer being in the out-back?
After a quick set-up at our camp in Vancouver we shot over to Gage & Andrea's new house and spent the rest of the night with them and rough-housing with Ryan and Evan. We're home again.