Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Eastern Oregon

Sunday morning, Ellen and I went to church at Star Valley United Church, but after church instead of going back to the house, we headed out on a week-long trip to visit friends in Boise, ID and Salem, OR.  Max is going to the Teton Science Camp this week, and it is located right across the road from where Paul is working in Jackson, so he can take him and pick him up. We are not needed to do that. So it is the best week to make our annual trip to Salem.

It was a lovely day and we had a very nice ride through Idaho along Route 20, stopping for lunch in Arco at Pickles Restaurant, and on to Boise, arriving at about 7 or so. We had a second church service in the car, listening to a tape from the Guilford Church, from Sunday, June 18, 1989, in which Lise Sparrow, our present pastor, was leading the service. 26 years ago! Father's Day. She was filling in while Shirley and I took a little break and went to Martha's Vineyard. And Tony Barrand sang a song that we had never heard before. A delightful service. Along the way, I read aloud from Pioneer Girl, Laura Ingalls Wilder's autobiography. I also dozed some. It felt like a short trip to Boise! We stayed overnight at Susan and Christian's home - their very nice loft guest suite - and took off again in the morning for Salem. We 'll return on Thursday eve to S&C's before going back to Alpine. 

The ride to Salem takes you through the amazing world of Eastern Oregon, a most austere and uninhabited desert region with its own special beauty. We noticed we needed gas and fortunately we came to an isolated gas station before entering a stretch where there is no town for a hundred miles or more. The attendant (no self-serve in Oregon!) said that his family, the Caldwell family, had run this little store and gas station for almost 90 years, and he was the last one. He had grown up and lived his whole life there in this isolated hamlet, and there would be no one to pass the store on to when he dies. He then said, "You're on the longest highway in the U.S. (Route 20). Do you know where it begins and ends?" Amazingly, I was able to tell him, because Ellen and I had just been fantasizing about making a coast-to-coast trip on Route 20! It begins in Boston and ends in Newport, OR at the Pacific Ocean. It is c. 3350 miles long, beating out Route 6 by about 150 miles. Route 6 goes from Provincetown, MA to a point in CA just over the line from Nevada, so it is not quite a coast-to-coast highway. 

Somewhere along Route 20 we came to a repaving project where we sat for quite a spell. So I got out and took some pictures of eastern Oregon scenery. 

                  The stark beauty of eastern Oregon

                     Putting in new surface

                 Very little vegetation on these hills! 

When we came to Burns, OR, we stopped at a city park where we had stopped last year, and once again had a picnic out of our food box.

                        Picnic in Burns, OR

But something was different. Last year, carved into the bench, was a quote from Emerson: 

"The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization."

This year, that carving was nowhere to be found! What happened to it? Did someone take exception to it and expunge it? A mystery.

We traveled on toward Salem, stopped in Sisters, OR for a snack, and got to Salem at about 8:30p.m. We're staying at J.E. Seibert's lovely home, and before we went to bed we heard all about her experience of hosting visitors from the Czech Republic last year and her upcoming trip to Slovenia in the fall. We got a very good night's sleep and look forward to a lovely day with friends!

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