There’s a cool crispness in the morning air. One more clue that summer is coming to an end in the Pacific Northwest. It’s time for Risk Blossoming to turn BAM around, head home to Phoenix and plan more adventures, with both domestic and international destinations.
We bid farewell to the beautiful Oregon Coast, with a promise to return to explore, discover, and grow more. Heading west, we traveled through the Columbia Gorge and staying for a train-horn interrupted night at the Cascade Locks KOA, and then hit the road again the next day for a stopover at the Wild Horse RV Resort and Casino in Pendleton, Oregon
Pendleton has a namesake Mill and we wanted to shop. We headed into town to find the Pendleton Woolen Mills and by the time I had pulled up the location on my phone, we were just a block away. The shopping was fabulous and we spent over an hour at the store. Tim scored a couple of shirts and I completed some Christmas shopping. But, as I looked at and tried on several of their beautiful woolen plaid shirts, I couldn’t help but feel, when I looked at my image in the mirror, that the appropriate accessory for these outfits would be an axe. So, I passed.
That evening, Tim and I visited the Casino to have dinner and play a little roulette. I am usually the winner — but this time, Tim proved to be the champion. His winnings covered dinner, our night at the Resort, my losses, and a bit more.
Baker City, Oregon
Next stop was Baker City. It is a wonderful and historic town in eastern Oregon.
The first night, Tim and I enjoyed a romantic dinner at the very historic Geiser Grand Hotel.
There I was also delighted to learn that the Hotel had housed the cast during the filming of “Paint Your Wagon,” in 1968. The stars were Lee Marvin and a very young Clint Eastwood. It remains one of my all-time favorite musicals.
For a town of only 10,000 people, Baker City truly surprised me with the range of things to do and I found it to be one of the coolest small towns we have visited.
Baker City was incorporated in 1874 as a pioneer era trading center between Salt Lake City and Portland. It sits in a hay farming valley between the Wallowa Mountains and Hells Canyon to the east and La Grande and the Blue Mountains to the west. Scenic highways head in every direction.
We used Baker City as our base to explore the Hell’s Canyon region, take a jet boat down and back up the Snake River, play some golf at their local golf course, and visit the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.
The Oregon Trail
We had been encouraged by Risk Blossoming followers to not miss the Oregon Trail Interpretative Center. Thanks for your feedback. It turned out to be great advice. I am so glad that we took the time to visit and learn that there is so much more to the Oregon Trail than desentary and fording rivers.
The impressive facility does a stellar job at telling the story and chronicaling the four-to five-month, 2000 mile trek, that as many as 500,000 emigrants, made from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon to claim their homesteads. One in ten who started this journey did not finish, and were left along the trail in shallow graves.
Their covered wagons were used, almost exclusively, to carry their supplies. Supplies not just for the journey, but also to create their new life in Oregon. Only the sick or the weak rode. These brave, tenacious, determined souls walked approximately 20 miles a day in whatever weather and terrain the day brought. They started in May with the hopes and dreams of reaching their destination, Oregon City before October.
Pursuing a Dream
Their stories are riveting and emotional. And, seem to come to life as Tim and I walked in the ruts of the Oregon Trail. There, in silence, Tim and I traced a portion of the trail that has been permanently left through the surrounding dust and sage brush. It was there, while we stood in the ruts of the wagon wheels, that the reality of these emigrant’s strength and commitment was truly felt.
The emigrants had a dream of a life they wanted to live. In order to recognize that dream, they had to overcome major obstacles and heart-breaking hardships and misfortunes and slowly progress to reach their new home. They truly risked all to blossom.
Don’t Miss It
I will echo the recommendation of our Risk Blossoming followers. If you are going to be in or near Baker City, Oregon – do not miss the Oregon Trail Interpretative Center. It provides the perfect setting and opportunity to share an inspirational story of the people that pursued their dreams and helped to create our country. For me, it was an emotional experience.
Mountain Home, ID
Mountain Home, Idaho became a destination stopover for us after we reached out to one of my best childhood friends who lives there. Doug Mayne and I meet in junior high in Mesa, Arizona. He was and continues to be an all-around nice guy and everyone’s friend. His vivacious and gregarious wife, Judy, is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who had been stationed domestically and internationally throughout her career. Her last post was Mountain Home. When she retired, Mountain Home became their home.
We had a wonderful time with the Maynes. Conversations with Doug and Judy are non-stop. It’s like we have known each other for years, and I guess we have. Whether we were dining out at one of the local wineries, taking in a fun car auction in beautiful Sun Valley or being hosted to one the Mayne’s fabulous home-cooked meals, we had a memorable and wonderful time.
The Maynes and the Batemans share the joy the travel. We loved the opportunity to share travel stories and get tips and garner contacts, from Doug and Judy, for Risk Blossoming’s 2019 trip to New Zealand.
On our last day in Mountain Home, Tim and I loaded up Willy to adventure out on an all-day circular drive around the Sawtooth National Forest. Scenery included the Salmon River, the dramatic Sawtooth Mountains, the popular Redfish Lake and the resort towns of Ketchum and Sun Valley. I have to thank Doug for the recommendation to go off-road and visit Redfish Lake. It was beautiful.
The next morning we left Mountain Home, and reality seem to sink in — we had experienced over 100 days on this Risk Blossoming Journey and now, we were headed home. We still had two long drives ahead of us to get to our next two destinations and stop-overs; Bryce Canyon and Lake Powell. I am looking forward to both of these locations. And, I also realized, I was looking forward to being home, for a while.
Heading home never seems as exciting and heading out. We do take our time and have fun. Seaside, Oregon is 1,569 miles from Phoenix and I scheduled it into nine segments over 18-days. Four of the stops were for multiple days to explore. Two of those explorations happened the first half of our trip.
During those first 9-days, while heading home, we covered just 579 miles. We lived our “life in a motor coach” and experienced surprise discoveries of great things in unexpected places.
Baker City, Oregon was a real surprise. Arriving there, I had no idea where Hells Canyon was or know anything about it. Thirty-six hours later, we had driven, both up and down, the southern portion of the canyon. Then, when the road ended, we took a jet boat through class IV rapids on the otherwise, inaccessible, first 27-miles of the Snake River below Hells Canyon Dam.
We were at the bottom of the deepest river canyon in the US.
Baker City just kept giving with a visit to the Oregon Trail Interpretative Center. It sits high on a sagebrush hill. The terrain and sagebrush is probably pretty much the same as when the covered wagons crossed this spot in the 1850’s and 60’s.
Looking out of the Center’s huge windows, you can see the remnants of the actual Oregon Trail through the untouched sagebrush. It extends for miles in each direction.
Deborah and I walked along the trail where you could still see and walk in the ruts which the wagon wheels had cut into the ground. We experienced the same late August heat as the emigrants had as they passed here. You could instantly sense their spirits.
Mountain Home provided time for some great comaraderie with old friends — Doug and Judy Mayne. Doug is a car guy and was selling a 1938 Studebaker at an Antique Car Auction in Sun Valley the day after we arrived. I had always wanted to go to Sun Valley. My perception of it before arriving was one of an old ski resort, but most of the town seemed so chic and new.
The Sawtooths and The Salmon River
The next day, we drove and circled the, aptly named, Sawtooth Mountains and saw Redfish Lake for the first time. Redfish Lake sits just below the headwaters of the Salmon River, which flows through this natural lake, and is located just south of Stanley, ID. Chinook and sockeye salmon still migrate, over 500 miles up the Columbia and Snake rivers to the Salmon River. There, they continue up the Salmon’s 425-miles and 7,000-foot rise in elevation. By the time the sockeye pass through Redfish Lake, very near their final spawning ground, they have turned their final, brilliant red spawning color.
Unfortunately, it was another, late summer smoky day, but the beauty of the Sawtooth Mountains looming over this majestic, crystal clear lake is undeniable. The location is very rural, but has a very clean, retro-like resort and campground feel.
Explore. Discover. Grow.
It had been an adventurous nine-days, but the lesson learned is that we probably really needed twice that amount of time. Growth comes through unexpected exploration and surprise discoveries. Guess the lesson learned here is to plan for unplanned time.
It is now time to travel 575-miles over the next two days. That is a lot of time with two hands on BAM’s massive steering wheel and undivided attention on the road. But these drives are enjoyable. Deborah and I have thorough and thoughtful conversations, sprinkled with lots of laughter. Pendleton, Baker City and Mountain Home created some great memories and has given us many more topics for those conversations.