Yesterday we went for a little drive. Got your atlas handy? Go get it so you can see where we went, I’ll wait right here. Ready now? ok.
We left Prineville headed northeast on hwy. 26 up to Madras. The high desert landscape is relatively flat and arid. There are some irrigated fields of grass. But mostly it is scattered sage and stunted juniper trees. At Madras we got on hwy 97 and continued north. The road wound up hill and down dale, past more irrigated fields. Eventually the road split and we took a left onto hwy 197. Some of the valleys were quite lush and pretty, and then the road would climb back up onto the dry, bare desert. Eventually, the highway dropped down into Maupin on the Deschutes River. The river runs through a narrow gorge, and the town is partly located at the east bank at the bottom of the gorge, and partly on the top of the west bank. We had lunch at a little cafe in the bottom of the gorge and watched a train chug by.
After lunch we climbed up out of the gorge and continued on northward to the Columbia River at The Dalles. I had been wanting to see the Columbia River for ages. I imagined it as a huge, wild river. Well, it is pretty good sized. About as wide as the Mississippi – a mile or so I would guess. But it doesn’t have much, if any, backwaters like the MIghty Miss does. And it doesn’t look very wild. It was as placid as a lake. The mountains along the sides are very impressive with bluffs and pine trees. We took I-84 downstream to Hood River, then turned south on hwy 35. The countryside here was lush and green with lots of orchards and vineyards on the hillsides. The roadside was dotted with fruit stands. We stopped at one and bought some cherries and jelly. The road then wound south along the east flank of Mt. Hood.
The mountain is a beatiful volcanic mountain standing alone as if striking a pose. Unfortunately, the sky was obsquered by smokey haze, or hazy smoke. I wasn’t sure which. There are so many wildfires around right now. It made taking pictures pretty much a waste of time. Anyway, it was hard to tell the snowy mountaintop from the hazy sky. 😦 The road climbs along the side of the East Hood River up to an altitude of around 4500 feet. We drove through beautiful pine forests, passing several Nation Forest campgrounds and hiking trails. Then we turned onto 26 eastbound and headed home. Within a few miles, the pine forests dwindled and disappeared, to be replace by high desert once again.
We arrived home around 6 o’clock in the evening. I was was pretty well tuckered out.