Home, via the Columbia River

It was the last day of my vacation, and as per usual in these situations, I had very mixed emotions about it. I love to travel. I enjoy going places I’ve never been. It’s an opportunity to set aside the stress of everyday life.

On the other hand, I was missing my dogs so much that it was killing me. And packing and unpacking suitcases and schlepping them from pillar to post can get very tedious. I missed my bed. I missed my little free library. I missed blogging. 13 days is pushing the outer envelope. It was time to go home.

If I was at all hesitant to leave Sunriver, the two 5-year-old girls, screaming and giggling in the room next door, was enough to make me beat a hasty retreat. If I had wanted to deal with noisy children, I’d have had some of my own.

Sunriver is a beautiful place, especially in the autumn when the leaves are turning to gold on all but the many evergreens. I decided that I’d enjoy the area a bit more by making a stop in the delightful city of Bend, Oregon. One of my favorite restaurants on earth is there. I’ve blogged about Spork before. If you’re ever anywhere near Bend, this place should not be missed. The ambience isn’t what it used to be now that they only do takeout, but the food still does not disappoint.

From there I drove off into a dense fog, with a light dusting of snow here and there. I was definitely leaving the sun behind me, and returning to the crappy weather of a late autumn in the Pacific Northwest. At least I got to delay that for a few weeks.

I passed an alpaca farm. I didn’t learn until much later that you are allowed to pet the alpacas. Had I known, I’d have stopped.

Prolonging the inevitable ever so slightly, I decided to take the scenic route home, along the banks of the mighty Columbia River. Avoiding the highway, I went through The Dalles and skirted the Northern and/or Western bank of the river as long as I could. That allowed me to go through some delightful little one horse towns, full of quaint little museums and courthouses. This area is definitely retirement-worthy, if you are so fortunate.

I also got to see a dam, but damned if I know what it was called. (Sorry. Had to.) And I stopped for pictures of the Bridge of the Gods, because how can you not take a picture of a bridge that’s arrogant enough to have that name? I mean, bow down, people. Pay homage.

I also passed Drano Lake. I don’t think I’ll be drinking out of that one anytime soon. You first. I’ll expect a full report.

And just outside of Stevenson, an otter ran across the road in front of the car. That’s a new one. I thought I was in the Twilight Zone.

The rest of the drive kind of passed by in a fog, literally and figuratively. It was good to get home and hug my fur babies, and finally break free of the albatross of suitcases that had been hanging on me for the entire journey. It made me feel like I’d lost 150 pounds.

13 Days. 4200 miles. From 9995 feet above sea level to 282 feet below sea level. From 98 degrees to 35 degrees. In and out of national parks. It was an amazing vacation. One that I’ll never forget. And here’s what I love the most about travel: it reminds you that there’s no place like home.

And as it turns out, it’s a good thing I traveled while I could. Now California, Oregon and Washington want you to quarantine for two weeks before crossing their borders. If that had been imposed while I was still in Nevada, it could have taken me 6 weeks to get home, if those rules were being strictly enforced. We are living in very strange times.

Enjoy some of the pictures from the day! And here’s a link to the first post in this adventure.

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More Sun, Another Crater

On the next to last day of my road trip, I was celebrating the fact that the trip as a whole had a certain symmetry to it. At the beginning, I went to Sun Valley, Idaho and then to Craters of the Moon. I visited Meteor Crater somewhere in the middle, too. And on this day, I was leaving Lake Tahoe, and heading to Crater Lake, and then would spend the night in Sunriver, Oregon. I had been calling this trip “The Great Western Ramble” in my mind, but perhaps “The Trek of Sun and Craters” is equally appropriate.

After gassing up the rental car and doing the daily ritual of debugging the windshield for better photo opportunities, I set out. Passing through valleys and past lakes, I reflected on just how vast and varied and majestic this country is. And then I passed the high school in Tule Lake. “Home of the Honkers.” That gave me a bit of a giggle. I didn’t  realize at the time that Tule Lake was also the home of another Japanese Internment Camp. That’s not the least bit giggle-worthy.

I also went through Klamath Falls, and stopped at their visitor’s center. When you enter this town, you quickly discover that the area is known for bird watching. There are birds everywhere. They’re on murals and sculptures and street signs and bill boards and they’re incorporated in business names. This place has embraced a natural asset, and more power to them, I say, especially if it motivates them to preserve said asset.

I then headed up to Crater Lake. I had been there before (and blogged about it here), but last time the rim road was closed due to snow. This time it was open, and I took full advantage of that. The views, as you’ll see below, were stunning.

I have to admit, though, that I felt a certain un-vacation-like sense of urgency while there. The dark clouds were rolling in. It was cold and rainy and the sun was going down. I even saw a few dustings of snow. I strongly suspect that the rim road was closed within a week of my visit. But the weather added to the photographs, I think.

North of Crater Lake makes you feel as though you’re slightly south of the middle of nowhere. That made me nervous, because it was getting late and dark and bitterly cold, and I was starving. Then, like an oasis magically appearing in the desert, I came upon a restaurant called Loree’s Chalet in Chemult, Oregon. It was a quaint, homey little place, and the waiter was charming.

He was also not wearing a mask. None of the staff were wearing masks. None of the patrons in the bar in the next room were wearing masks, either. This made me kind of uncomfortable, but I was ravenous, had the dining room all to myself, and my options were limited.

I have to say, the bacon wrapped steak was delicious. They boast the best ranch dressing in the entire world. I have to agree.

After that, it was just a matter of getting to Sunriver Resort. I got there in pitch darkness (more symmetry from the beginning of the trip) so there are no Sunriver photos below. You’ll have to wait until the final post of my journey for those.

I ended the night luxuriating in the bathtub. I have to tell you that if you prize a good bathtub as much as I do, Sunriver Resort is the place to go. It was by far my favorite place to stay on the entire trip. Nothing like a nice hot bath after a cold, raw day!

There will be one more blog post about this trip that will be posted the day after tomorrow, so watch this space! I’ll try to link all the posts about this trip together, so that you can start at the beginning if you find yourself in the middle and want to read the whole saga. Here’s a link to the first post in the series. And here’s a link to the last day of our trip.

The Great Western Ramble

I had two weeks of vacation to use or lose. But what to do, where to go, in the time of COVID-19? Our trip to Italy got cancelled in May, and this country is handling this pandemic so irresponsibly that most countries don’t welcome Americans anymore. Heck, you can’t even go to Hawaii unless you quarantine for two weeks first. And I certainly don’t want to marinate in a flying metal tube of contaminated air for hours, even for a domestic flight. This narrowed down our choices immensely.

But in truth, I have long believed that those of us infected with the travel bug have a tendency to neglect our own countries. Why is that? If you’re going to see someplace new, why is it somehow less desirable if it doesn’t require a passport?

With this in mind, my husband and I set about exploring this amazing country of ours by car. We were gone for 13 days, visited five states besides our own, and, when all was said and done, we put 4,200 miles on the rental car. I am fairly certain that this was the longest road trip I’ve ever taken.

What an adventure!

We chose to rent a car rather than use our own because we consulted a wear and tear calculator on the web, and determined that we’d actually save about a thousand bucks by renting. I’m so glad we did. We put some hard miles on that car. During the course of the journey, we went from almost 10,000 feet of altitude to 280 feet below sea level, and that was by no means a smooth incline or decline. I would hazard a guess that we went around at least 1,000 hairpin turns. We avoided interstates as much as we could. Thank goodness my husband likes to drive.

I’m also grateful that our friend Herb likes to dog and house sit, and actually enjoys the company of my cranky dachshund. Apparently they had quite the bromance going on, to the point where Quagmire bit me when we came back home. I’ll try not to take it personally, because I love the little sh**, but jeez.

So away we go!

On day one, we drove 11 hours from just outside Seattle, Washington via the Northeastern corner of Oregon to Sun Valley, Idaho. What a beautiful country we live in. I said that pretty much daily on this journey. You don’t realize how massive it is, and how much of it is devoid of humans, and how much of it is farm and ranch land, until you drive around the West. It’s stunning.

We passed numerous solar and wind farms along the way. Given the vast open country, and our need to stop being slaves to fossil fuel if we want our children to have any decent quality of life at all, I was kind of shocked we didn’t see more of these farms. We’ve got the room. We’ve got the knowhow. And people certainly could use the work.

We also enjoyed the fall colors. It’s not like the gorgeous autumn one experiences on much of the East coast, with its oranges and maroons and reds. But it’ll do nicely. The golds and yellows reminded me why this is my favorite season. And it was awesome to put off experiencing the crappy, rainy winter weather that besets Seattle in October. We got two weeks less of that, and it was a treat.

We listened to a lot of podcasts along the way. I got to introduce my husband to Welcome to Night Vale, and now he’s as hooked as I am. We also listened to the Moth Radio Hour, which is a storytelling podcast, as well as NPR’s Radiolab, and two podcasts from the History Channel that were a lot more fascinating than I expected. The first one was Blind Spot: The road to 9/11. The second was Timber Wars. Those podcasts made the miles pass by quickly.

Our goal was to reduce human contact as much as we could, due to the pandemic. We tried to only eat restaurant food once a day, if that. We brought a lot of picnic food along. (More about that in a future post.)

We passed the nerve gas dump in Umatilla, which was kind of creepy and deserves a post all its own. (Bear with me!) And I also got to see Boise for the first time. Let’s just say that that box is officially ticked. But we did have some amazing Chinese takeout there, so there’s that.

We were shocked by the major differences in gas prices along our route. Anywhere from $2.10 at a Costco somewhere or other, to $4.50 a gallon in California. Yikes. And I’ll never get used to the fact that you can’t pump your own gas in Oregon. What is this, 1950?

We also saw a lot of fire devastation on the entire trip. On this day, it was the Evans Creek Fire in Ellensburg, and the mountains were all charred near Yakima. It was heartbreaking to witness.

On every day of the trip, my husband, who is a realtor, worked anywhere from 1 to 4 hours. Isn’t technology awesome? I think he was surprised that this didn’t irritate me. But it’s nice to see someone doing something that they absolutely love, and I might seem biased, but I truly believe he’s really good at it, too, in case you’re ever looking to buy or sell a home in Western Washington. It was impressive to witness.

We drove up something called the Pendleton Grade, where the mountains looked like they were covered in greenish brown felt and seemed like they would be soft, even though you knew instinctively that they weren’t, really. We also went through the Blue Mountains.

We reached Sun Valley well after dark, so I had no real idea how gorgeous it is until the next day, but I had to wait for the next “episode”, and so will you. I will say, though, that just as we were about to put the key in the lock of our first timeshare, all the lights went out in the entire valley, and were not to turn back on again until 6 a.m. This is not typical. We just were lucky enough to be there on the day they were doing some sort of trunk line repairs.

I’ve never gone to sleep in a place without having any idea of what it looked like before. We used our cell phones as flashlights, but that doesn’t give you a true sense of place. It’s rather surreal. But all that darkness meant we got to stand outside and see about a million stars, including the Milky Way, so every power outage has its silver lining, and all’s well that ends well.

What follows are some of the pictures we took on this day’s journey. Enjoy!

There are a lot more tales to tell about this trip, but I’ll try not to post them daily, so as not to put off those who aren’t interested in travel blogs. So brace yourself for a good month of every other day adventures! I’ll try to link them together, so that you can start at the beginning (this one) if you find yourself in the middle and want to read the whole saga. And here’s a link to the next day’s adventure!

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Klementine’s Kitchen

If you ever find yourself in Lincoln City, on the Oregon coast, on any day except Monday and Tuesday, you HAVE TO stop by Klementine’s Kitchen for dinner. You’ll be so glad you did.

We were casting about for a unique dining experience, and reading reviews on Yelp, and came across Cajun/Creole food. Cajun food? In Oregon? It had 4 ½ stars and rave reviews, so we were sold.

And I must say, thank God for Yelp, because it would be really easy to just drive by this place without giving it a second thought. You can tell that once upon a time, it was a private house, and not the nicest one, either. So much so that you kind of feel like you’re intruding to enter. Especially since you have to drive through a gas station parking lot to get to its parking lot, and when we first got there, the place was empty.

We stood there in the lot for a second, thinking, “Um… should we?” But Yelp. So in we went.

And the minute we opened the door, the magic began. Anna, the wife of the chef, greeted us at the door. She was warm and welcoming, and clearly proud of what she had done with the place. And she should be. Inside, it was absolutely delightful. Her taste in décor made me pea green with envy. I wish I could let her loose in my house.

The beautiful hardwood floors and the cozy fireplace may have already been there, but her way of decorating, with air plants in creative pots and distressed wood windows suspended on wires to separate the various rooms, was really inspired. A marriage of simplicity and creativity.

The choice of music was lovely and calming, too. Billie Holiday always makes me want to wrap myself in a threadbare quilt and relax on a chaise longue.

And the food. The food! We started off with the spinach and artichoke dip, and I could easily have ordered seconds and would have been satisfied with just that. But the adventure was just beginning.

I had the Oregon dirty rice, which the menu describes as “Oregon mushrooms, peppers, onions, and rice sautéed in olive oil, hazelnut garnish.” And I added Dungeness crab. Oh. My. God. I wanted to pitch a tent in the dining room and never leave.

Dear husband had the etouffee, which was a “bowl full of Dungeness crab and shrimp, in a flavorful creole sauce, smothering white rice.” I’m telling you, the look of pure ecstasy on his face as he ate only rendered him even more good looking than the already is.

I only wish we had room for dessert, because the raspberry and lemon custard pie was very tempting indeed.

So, seriously, if you are ever in Lincoln City for dinner (they don’t do lunch), stop by and say hello to Anna, and enjoy this restaurant’s unique Cajun food with its Oregonian spin. It’s always wonderful to support small businesses, but even more so when they make it so memorable and delicious to do so.

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Spork

A horrible thing happened to me recently. I discovered the best restaurant I’ve ever eaten in in my entire life.

The reason this is horrible is that it’s located in Bend, Oregon. Bend is a delightful, quirky little city in the high desert region of Oregon. Sadly, I can think of no really plausible scenario that will find me back in that neck of the woods. Which means I’m destined to go through Spork withdrawal.

Spork is a fascinating restaurant that serves a fusion of cuisine from Latin America, Africa and Asia. Just as a spork is a combination of a spoon and a fork (and no, there are none of these handy utensils to be had in this place), Spork combines food in ways most people would never think to combine them, and the results are absolutely delicious.

Even better, these meals are extremely affordable, incredibly plentiful, and come from locally sourced, seasonal, humanely raised ingredients.

I had the Lomo Saltado, which the menu describes as “Peruvian stir-fry with wok-seared bavette steak, red potatoes, sweet peppers, onion, grilled tomato, soy, crema, radish, fried egg, green onion and jasmine rice.” My mouth waters just describing it to you.

Dear husband had the Thai Steak Salad. “Grilled bavette steak, greens, cabbage, beansprouts, herbs, fried shallot, toasted coconut, and nam jim sweet-spicy tart tamarind dressing.”

The casual atmosphere was amazing, too. It features international décor that, just like the food, manages to blend together perfectly in unexpected ways. We sat in an elongated wine barrel, near African wood carvings interspersed with Mexican tapestries. And the international music fit the restaurant as if it were composed for it.

Woe is me. I found an amazing place and will most likely never get to return to it. But I’m telling you, folks, if you are ever within 300 miles of Bend, Oregon, make it a point to go to Spork, even if the line is stretching out the door, as it often is.

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The Crooked Story of the Crooked River Bridge

On the way home from our travels in Central Oregon, we were driving up highway 97, admiring the views of the many snow-capped dormant volcanoes visible in the distance. The area we were in was relatively flat, and had been for some time, but then, about 9 miles north of Redmond, Oregon, the scenery changed in a startling way. This deep, deep canyon opened up, just like that. This merited further investigation.

Fortunately, the Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint is right by the highway, on the south rim of the canyon. And from there, you can also walk out on the Crooked River Bridge, which is 295 feet above the canyon floor. It’s a beautiful area. I was really glad we stopped. Check out this video about it.

Despite the beautiful surroundings, I got this odd vibe from the place from the very start. Perhaps it had something to do with this weird little sign in the parking lot.

Crooked Sign

I mean, yes, it’s a deep, deep canyon, and one should be careful. But this sign seems to indicate that a) dogs are more valuable than children, b) there isn’t a waist-high wall protecting you from the drop off, when in fact there is one, and c) an awful lot of Oregonians must be “helping” their valuable dogs over that wall to plunge to their deaths.

And then, to add to the strange atmosphere, there seemed to be more cars in the parking lot than people in the park. Where had all these folks gone? I shuddered to think.

But we did encounter two people. Along the path that leads to the cliff, there were a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses, armed with their ubiquitous pamphlets. This struck me as a rather odd place to stand if your goal is to increase your flock. We probably were the first people they had encountered in hours, and they could tell just by looking at us that they would be wasting their time even trying to talk to us, so they didn’t.

I don’t know. Maybe a lot of people go there who are in despair. It kind of bugged me to think that this duo was attempting to proselytize to people who are vulnerable. But I suppose any help is better than none. Perhaps their intentions were good. (I do tend to forget that, when crossing paths with people who are trying to convert me, because I would never presume to do that to someone else. I believe everyone should choose their own spiritual path.)

Anyway, then we approached the cliff. I was almost afraid to look down. I half expected to see a bunch of dogs along with the owners of the parked cars, all in a grisly, twisted heap. But no. Nothing but the beautiful river below.

After enjoying this view, we then walked out onto the Crooked River Bridge. This two lane bridge used to be highway 97’s bridge across the canyon, but traffic has since increased, and Oregon’s Department of Transportation began constructing the current highway bridge in 1990. I could imagine Model A Fords puttering across this old one, and it made me smile.

After we left, I still couldn’t shake the eerie feeling about the place, though. And then I started doing research for this post, and here’s what I discovered.

According to this article, in 1961, Jeannance Freeman and Gertrude Jackson decided that Jackson’s children were interfering with their love affair. So they took the children to this park. Jackson left the vehicle, and came back to discover that Freeman had stripped her son of all of his clothing and then beat him unconscious with a tire iron. Jackson then took off her daughter’s shirt. The couple then threw both children, still alive, off the bridge. (Fair warning about that article, though. There’s a rather disgusting image of what one assumes is the son, now inexplicably clothed, dead on the floor of the canyon.)

Jackson later turned state’s evidence and was sentenced to life in prison, while Freeman was sentenced to death. She was the first woman ever sentenced to death in Oregon. The sentence was later commuted to life. Jackson only served time for seven years, and Freeman was released on parole after 20 years, but violated that parole by threatening a new lover with a knife because she refused to go to the store to buy cigarettes. She died in prison in 2003.

So, yeah, that’s the crooked story of the Crooked River Bridge. Needless to say, none of that information was put on a cheerful little information placard in the park. It’s a place well worth visiting, but don’t be surprised if it feels a little bit off to you, for a variety of reasons.

Crooked River and its Bridge

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My Return to Voodoo Doughnuts

The first time I went to Portland, Oregon, I vowed to visit Voodoo Doughnuts, one of the many quirky and iconic shops in the area, but as I explained in this post, it just wasn’t meant to be. And so, my voodoo dreams having gone unfulfilled, I was doomed to wander the earth feeling as though I had some unfinished business. I felt incomplete. It was even worse than never having gone to my high school prom.

So when I realized we’d be passing through Portland again on our way home from our fabulous Oregon vacation, I told my husband that if it was the last thing I ever did, I would be going to Voodoo Doughnuts. Even if I had to throw myself from the moving car. Even if I had to crawl there on my hands and knees. That voodoo-flavored influx of sugar and carbs would be mine, or I would die trying.

To add to the pressure (as if dear husband needed more convincing) I read from the website menu as we approached Portland. “Of course we need to get a Maple Blazer Blunt. Who wouldn’t want to try a doughnut doobie?” “And we’ve got to get a Voodoo Doll, and an Old Dirty Bastard, simply to be able to say we ate one.” “There’s a doughnut with captain crunch on top! And one with fruit loops! And grape dust! And cayenne pepper! And bacon!”

By the time we got there, I had worked myself up into such a frenzy that you’d have thought I was a 6-year-old going to Disney World. I was practically fidgeting in line. Fortunately the queue wasn’t as long as it was the last time around.

Still, I sure wouldn’t want to work there. The joint was jumping. I bet they’re exhausted at the end of a shift. But they do that voodoo so well. (Sorry. Had to.)

So, were the doughnuts all I had worked them up to be in my mind? Of course not. Nothing is ever as good as you imagine. Heck yeah, they were great, and all, but there were no fireworks, no marching bands. And I’ve been avoiding sugar as much as possible for several months now, so this particular orgy of pure gluttony kind of left me feeling sick. So there’s that.

But who am I kidding? I’ll be back. If only because we discovered further down the road that we had neglected to get the Old Dirty Bastard after all.

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Unexpected Side Trips

“What are you doing?” I asked. I had been lost in a hypnotic, rural, car passenger reverie when my husband decided to do a u-turn in the middle of nowhere. (He’s always taking me down weird alleyways and along remote winding trails. Thank goodness he’s not a serial killer, or this blog would be toast.)

“Covered bridge,” He said. (Bridges. I can’t seem to get away from them.) And sure enough, there was a cute one, spanning a babbling brook. Of course we had to stop, because someone had been nice enough to put it there, just for us. You just never know when someone is going to be nice like that.

And voilà, our trip was enhanced by the Crawfordsville Covered Bridge, built in 1932. And the cute factor almost went off the charts when we discovered that this bridge was located along the (I kid you not) “Over the River and Through the Woods Scenic Byway.”

Unexpected Bridge

We had to take a similar detour in the midst of our vacation for a sign that said, simply, “Big Tree.” This one required some walking, but it was a beautiful woodland setting with delightful company, so absolutely no complaints here. And when we got there, we craned our necks and said, “Yep. That’s a big ol’ tree.” (It happens to be the biggest ponderosa pine in all of Oregon, which is saying something.) It was also by the pretty Deschutes River, so there’s two things we wouldn’t have seen were it not for natural curiosity.

I think it’s important to allow for flexibility in any journey, because you never know what you’ll stumble across. I’ve attended quirky little festivals that way. I’ve seen abandoned castles that way. I’ve made friends that way. And I’ve certainly made many, many memories that way.

May you experience random u-turns in life, dear reader. I truly want those adventures for you.

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Back in the Devil’s Punchbowl

In 2016, I wrote a post entitled “A Romantic Vacation for One” in which I discussed the bittersweet experience of traveling alone along the romantic Oregon Coast. I visited the Devil’s Punchbowl and “imagined my man standing behind me with his arms around me.” But at the time there wasn’t even a glimmer of hope of that on the horizon.

I gave the post a positive spin, though, and concluded that I still had an amazing time in that beautiful place. But who was I kidding? I was desperately, painfully lonely. I felt as though I were mere inches away from a chest-heaving cry most of the time. It was always a very near thing. A great deal of my energy was devoted to not completely losing it in public.

While I refuse to go so far as to say that everyone needs a significant other to complete them, I have to admit that my most recent trip to the area with my husband was an entirely different event. It’s so much more fun to share experiences with someone else. Companionship adds a whole new dimension to travel.

I made it a point to stop by Devil’s Punchbowl again, to fulfill my dream of having my man’s arms around me. It felt as though I had come full circle. It was good.

I only wish I could have gone back to visit the 2016 me to whisper in her ear, “Hang on. Things are going to look up.” I know she’d have drawn a great deal of strength from that.

So, if you’re feeling lonely, dear reader, please hang on. You never know what the future holds. I’m pulling for you.

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Dismal Nitch

On our way to the Oregon coast, in our last moments in Washington state, we came upon a rest area called Dismal Nitch. For the name alone, we had to stop. It was a beautiful place, on the north bank of the Columbia River, just before it opens out to the mighty Pacific Ocean. How had it earned such a dreary name?

From this spot, we could look at the beautiful Astoria-Megler Bridge, which, at just over 4 miles in length, is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America. But that bridge didn’t come along until 1966. And while the Columbia looked relatively calm during our visit, it was wide and quite obviously powerful. I’d hate to have to cross it in a canoe. While watching a harbor seal coast quickly past, I thought about how relentless nature can be. We may vacation in nature, but nature itself never takes a day off.

By the time the Lewis and Clark Expedition had reached this point in 1805, I’m sure they had learned that lesson on multiple occasions. By now they were nearly to the Pacific Ocean, and had experienced any number of trials and tribulations. But it was here that a bad winter storm pushed them up onto this rocky shore with its steep banks, and they were forced to huddle in the wind, rain and hail without fresh food for 6 days.

One of the placards indicated that in one of his journals, Clark had complained about being forced to eat only salmon while stuck in this place. My first reaction was, “must be nice!” but I’m sure that after a while, one would, indeed, long for some fresh vegetables and a different flavor. I suspect that it was nearly impossible to keep a fire going in that exposed, blustery place, too, so sushi it was for the entire crew.

When the storm finally broke, Clark declared himself happy to leave “that dismal little nitch”, and that is how the place got its name. It is now a part of the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, which has 5 scattered locations both in Washington and Oregon.

So, if you’re ever in the area and see a sign for Dismal Nitch, it’s worth a stop. If nothing else, you can prop yourself on the hood of your car, take in the glorious view, and quietly thank the universe for planes, trains, automobiles, bridges, gore-tex, convenience stores, flush toilets, and the explorers who were willing to blaze a trail so you wouldn’t have to.

(And yes, I know “nitch” is actually spelled niche. But I guess they went with the journal spelling, so I’ll go with the sign, just this once.)

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