Showing posts with label Oregon road trips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oregon road trips. Show all posts

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Oregon’s Memorable but Less-Than-Warm Welcome

We were less than five hours into our road trip to Arizona last month when we had a most memorable welcome to Oregon, our neighbor to the south of Washington in the Pacific Northwest.

I’d just taken this photo of the beautiful weather in Oregon’s Blue Mountains when. . .


Oregon State Trooper-Less-Than-Welcoming,  ‘welcomed’ us to the state in a memorable, but not particularly warm way.

Note: I have been asked by regular readers if ‘bad things’ ever happen on our trips because I  prefer to tell you positive stories; the stories that will hopefully stir the travel bug in you. But sometimes stinky little things do happen like the story I am telling today:

The cast and characters:  Two 60-somethings, one with a AAA map and guidebook in her lap and the other the driver of our 2005 Toyota Camry. The setting: Interstate 84: somewhere near the summit of the Blue Mountains.  We were in the right-hand, outside lane when in the distance we noted a car pulled on the shoulder of the road, a trooper’s vehicle lights flashing also off the side of the road behind the car. Both were parked some distance outside what is called in the US as the ‘fog line’ which marks the roadway from the shoulder. You can see it in the photo above.


Thinking the trooper, who was sitting in his car, was getting ready to pull out, The Scout slowed and moved toward the left and center line.

Shortly after we’d passed, the trooper did pull out then pulled US over!

Trooper-Less-Than-Welcoming asked why we’d not moved completely into the left lane – called the passing lane – on our inter-state roads and in which drivers drive the speed limit or above because they are, well, passing. The Scout replied that when it appeared the trooper wasn’t pulling out that he returned to the slower right-hand lane.

BEEEP! . . . buzzer. . . .WRONG ANSWER!
Oregon has a “Move Over” law that requires motorists to move completely into the left-hand lane when any emergency vehicle it off to the side of the road with lights flashing.  Trooper Less-than-Welcoming pointed out our Washington State has the same law and then he informed us that all the Western States have the law. (Yes, we did feel like morons for not knowing that fact!)


Now honestly living and driving in the traffic-gridlocked Seattle area, we don’t have the luxury of pulling into the left hand lane when lights are flashing on the shoulder. We slow, we edge around – we don’t MOVE OVER. We explained we hadn’t been aware of that fact.

Trooper Less-Than-Welcoming took the license and returned to his patrol car, a few minutes later (it seemed an eternity long) returned and presented us with a $260 ticket! 

One fine ‘howdy –do!’  if we ever saw one~~

Now had he issued us a warning, we’d have still gotten the message. But because of his memorable welcome, had we not already had reservations just down the road in Baker City, I was ready to get the hell out of Dodge and head straight to Idaho. 

Note: to Baker City businesses (my cute kitchen store and the art gallery, in particular) I would have come in as I always do – but my shopping money was headed to your state coffers. . .no money for you this time.



Had I had the opportunity to see Trooper Less-Than-Welcoming again (which thankfully I didn’t) I would have told him that after his ‘welcome note’ I began paying attention to those western states we drove through:

Idaho:  one sign as you enter the state which reads ‘move over or slow down’

Arizona: sign on Highway 17, “move over OR slow down”

Utah: In this ‘ride ‘em cowboy!’ state the speed limit is 80 and you pass in the left lane at 90 – I know as  I was driving when we saw the trooper pulled off to the side of the road ahead and to merge into that left lane – which I did -- our speedometer read, ‘93’ . . .I might note three cars going 80 stayed in the right lane and we all zipped past like bats out of hell. That, Mr. Trooper, isn’t safe!

Washington: as we concluded our trip and were within 10 miles of our home driving a stretch of Interstate 90 – where there are multiple freeway lanes – a trooper on the left side shoulder had a motorist stopped – NO ONE moved over.


DSCF1061 The Scout, who is a retired attorney, submitted his check for $260 and pleaded No Contest with letter of explanation.

We found a letter from the court waiting when we got back home seeking an abstract of his driving record – one that has no traffic stops on it for more than two decades and then it was for exceeding the speed limit. He submitted it.

A second letter arrived this weekend: his fine has been reduced to $130.

TRAVEL TIP: Next time we’ll drive via Idaho or fly.  We recommend that you do the same! The ticket for not Moving Over could have been $355!

Note: I did take these photos during our recent road trip.  I wanted to, but refrained from, taking photos during the traffic stop. Trooper Less-Than-Welcoming would likely have arrested me.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Red, White and Blue Road Trip

Happy Birthday America!

While citizens and cities drape themselves in our patriotic colors on the Fourth of July – our holiday commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776  – we decided to take ourselves on an armchair Red, White and Blue road trip through America’s West:

Our trip begins  in Seattle, Washington, where sometimes that old song, “The bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle. . .” holds true. On sunny days, Elliott Bay, on which Seattle is located,  is pretty blue as well:

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Heading east across  Washington, we’ll spend a bit of time in Spokane, where red brick buildings stand tall against a blue sky backdrop.

A walk through the town’s historic district is a glimpse back at a segment of state history.

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WARoadTrip2012 097From there, we’ll go south through Washington’s wheat fields and agricultural lands. Our route takes us through countless small towns like, Rosalia, population about 600.

White clouds flit across those Eastern Washington blue skies providing a backdrop to its mid-century architecture, like the gas station below.

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WARoadTrip2012 127Then we cross the border into Oregon State – our destination  to Wallawa Lake and more hues of white and blue.

Just down the road a splash of red, white and blue wrapped history in the town Wallowa, population 807:

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To the west a bit further, near Pendleton, Oregon, we are under those blue skies and white cotton-candy-like cloud formations:

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Then south into the  state of Nevada , our route awash with blue and white –

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Entering Arizona we see on the horizon a splash of red as the spectacular Vermillion Cliffs Monument area expands before us:

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An even more brilliant red is found in the Navajo Tribe’s woven rugs. Artisans continue the tradition of their Native American ancestors as they blend color and design in these works of art. (These were for sale at a roadside restaurant in Northern Arizona.)

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Our road trip ends  in Arizona’s Valley of the Sun where even the dessert blooms add to our patriotic palette of colors:

PicMonkey Collage

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That’s it for this Travel Photo Thursday and for Travel Photo Mondays.  To all of you celebrating the Fourth of July, we hope your day is filled with family and friends and decked out in red, white and blue.

Travel Photo Thursday is at Budget Travelers Sandbox, hosted by Nancie McKinnon, and Travel Photo Monday is  at Travel Photo Discovery created by Noel Morata.

Hope to see you back again for Travel Tuesdays and our WAWeekend (that stands for WAshington)  featuring in-state destinations. If you've not yet become a follower or subscriber, hope you'll do so today!

The Western United States:

Map picture

Note: This armchair road trip combines photos from three road trips we have taken through the West.

Monday, November 26, 2012

High Plains Drifters: A Thanksgiving Jackpot

The High Plains Drifters (our Southwestern nom de blog) brought the song lyrics, “Over the river and through the woods. . .” to life on Thanksgiving morning. 

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Tossing aside the traditional holiday falderal, we set out – for the first time ever - on a winter road trip. We headed for America’s Southwest on a 1,628 mile route that would take us from Washington State, across Oregon and a tip of Idaho, into Nevada, Utah and to our destination, Arizona.

AZroadtrip2012 007Winter road trips through this area of the country require bi-polar packing: flip-flops, shorts, and suntan lotion in the suitcases that sit next to tire chains, snow boots, gloves and window scrapers in the car’s trunk.

We were prepared for winter’s potentially worst driving conditions and were pleasantly surprised to find the only ‘snowy conditions’ were on the trees and roadside on Washington’s Snoqualmie Pass (top photo).

It was sunshine and blue skies as we crossed the Columbia River and entered Oregon country.

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Crossing Oregon’s Blue Mountains (this photo at the summit) was a snap. Traveling on Thanksgiving Day made for virtually no traffic. . .we did pass a group of wild turkeys standing along the roadside, showing off, we think,  for having avoided the platter for another year.

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Our route through central Oregon was flanked with the Wallowa Mountain range in the distance to our left and the Blue Mountains (pictured) to our right.

Day 1: Was a bottom-buster:  11 hours and 693 miles.  Subsequent days we allowed ourselves a bit more sightseeing, fewer miles and less hours in the car. 

We reached our destination: Jackpot, Nevada – a wide spot in the road just south of the Idaho border, with four casinos, three hotels and a service station at 6:45 p.m. our time; 7:45 p.m. by the Mountain Time they follow here.The casino/hotel we’d hoped to stay in was sold out – luckily the place across the street, Barton’s Club 93  had rooms ($57 a night)and food. 

We could have had the traditional turkey either as a plated meal or from the buffet.  But we’d already thrown tradition aside. . .

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. . . so we opted to hit the Thanksgiving Jackpot with chicken fried steak platters!

Hope you’ll come back for Day II of the winter road trip – we’ll be leaving early tomorrow so pack your bag and join us!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

TPThursday: Wallowa Lake Magic–The End of the Road

The place, quite simply, is magical. 

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Wallowa Lake is a magical place somewhat off the beaten path.  Oregon’s Highway 82 literally dead ends here in the midst of the Eagle Cap Wilderness in the northeastern tip of the state.  It took us about five hours on our meandering-the-back-roads journey south to get there from Spokane, Washington.

Our destination was the near century-old wood-frame lodge nestled in the Wallowa Mountains at the head of the five-mile long, 283-foot deep lake.

WARoadTrip2012 164The charms of the lodge, its lakeside setting, and the nearby tiny town of Joseph conspired to cast a spell over us three years ago when we celebrated our anniversary there and drew us back to celebrate again this year. 

At the time it was built in 1923 to serve as an exclusive hunting lodge, the present-day hotel  was accessible only by boat.  Today a two-lane paved road follows one side of the lake shore. It leads to the lodge and other vacation rentals, a state park  and campground.

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The lodge has undergone extensive restoration (bathrooms are quite modern in each of the rooms) but the old-world charm remains in the décor and furnishings. Floors creak when walked on and windows squeak when opened.

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We’d didn’t pull the roller blind at night so that the morning sun would act as Mother Nature’s gentle alarm clock as it climbed over the mountain and peeked through our lace and floral chintz curtains.

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Old frames displayed similarly aged art; the furnishings were mid-century antiques. There were no telephones or televisions in the rooms. A large stone fireplace, not a Wii Room, was the attraction in the lobby. (Okay, so it was Wi-Fi equipped).

Guests and deer co-mingled on the expansive eight-acre grounds on which the lodge and its more recently constructed eight freestanding cabins stand.  Deer were so tame they’d let you photograph them as they rested. A fellow guest hand fed carrots to the deer.

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At the edge of the grounds the Wallowa River flows into the lake. It is the place of afternoon strolls.

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Or perhaps simply relaxing tucked among the trees at river’s edge.

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Had there been more hours in the day I might have been tempted to sit at the desk in the corner of the lobby and write inspired prose in my journal. . .

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Even with a leisurely pace, our days went quickly.  Before we knew it the day had slipped away. The sun was easing itself down over the lake, turning the trees to silhouettes; the only sounds the cicadas, an occasional bird and the rustle of the pine needles in the breeze.

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Yes, Wallowa Lake is a magical place. The kind of place where anniversaries are best celebrated.

It’s Travel Photo Thursday so be sure to visit Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Click the link for additional information on Wallowa Lake Lodge.  For information on Joseph, Oregon  and the recreational activities nearby:

Walking distance from the lodge: The Wallowa Lake Tramway, with gondolas that whisk you 3,700 feet up the side of   Mount Howard; (the highest ascent in North America).  At the top there’s a restaurant, hiking trails .

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

WAWednesday: An American Soul Trip

Sometimes even the shortest of trips can replenish the soul and renew the spirit. Our road trip last week through America’s Pacific Northwestern states,Washington and Oregon, did just that.
Because we live in the fast-paced, high-rise, high-tech corridor of Washington’s Puget Sound area (3.5+ million people; more than half the state’s population) it is easy to forget there really are places where life’s focus isn’t the newest computer application or transit route.
Today, in honor of the Fourth of July, America’s Independence Day, I want to share some scenes from our journey:

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Grain elevators in the background and the gazebo at
Rosalia, Washington. Population 627. Founded 1872.

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The county courthouse and gazebo at
Enterprise, Oregon. Population 1,895.
Incorporated 1887.

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Wallowa, Oregon. Population 869. Incorporated 1899.

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A private home in Walla Walla, Washington. Population 31,731. Incorporated 1862.

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Flag on Main Street in front of the town’s century-old, (still operating) meat store in Cle Elum, Washington. Population 1,872.  Incorporated 1902.

To those of you celebrating the Fourth of July, where ever you may be, we send our wishes for a day filled with family, friends, and patriotism.  Please join us  tomorrow on Travel Photo Thursday when we’ll take you to Wallowa Lake and its historic Lodge.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Travel: A Sweet, ‘Suite’ Life

WARoadTrip2012 205Traveling Pacific Northwest back roads last week was the anniversary gift we gave ourselves. A tradition that began with a road trip three years ago, it is a perfect present for a couple of travelers.
We love following a new route into another year. 

WARoadTrip2012 010Our favorite road trips are over those roads less traveled.  When I think about it, such trips are a reflection of the direction our life together has taken. . . on a road less traveled.

During the six-month courtship of this attorney and journalist in the early months of 1980, we agreed we’d work hard until the time was right and then we would leave that life behind to pursue our passion: travel.

It's been more than a dozen years ago, we did just that  - out with the old, in with the new - without a backward glance in the rear view mirror. 

It can be done. We’re living proof that the sweet,‘suite’ life can be lived. It is an adventure. It was a risk.

WARoadTrip2012 172While we were winding our way through Washington and Oregon, my friend, Ann Oxrieder, author of StillaLife blog, wrote about an article in AARP Magazine by Ken Budd, titled, “New Adventures, New Risks, New You.”

His article, as the title indicates, encourages stretching your comfort zone just a wee bit to discover new things out in the world and within yourself. It's what we advocate in this blog about travel.

Ann noted,

“(Budd) says we’ll all be happier if we invest in experiences, and cites a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which showed that ‘57 percent of participants were happier after spending money on experience instead of on stuff, compared with 34 percent who chose material goods…As experiences turn into memories, we tend to appreciate them more, even the lousy ones.’ ”

I suspect he would like the message I saw on sign on one of our road trip stops:

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Tales of our road trip continue this week on TravelnWrite when we’ll head out through Washington’s Inland Empire and follow the Nez Perce Indian trail into Northern Oregon, with a stop at one of the most beautiful locations on earth (to our way of thinking).  If this is your first time visiting, thanks for stopping by! We hope you’ll click the link to our homepage and become a regular follower of our travel tales and tips.


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