Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Home again home again, jiggity jig

Younger Daughter and I had a long but uneventful trip home yesterday. Wow, it's good to be home!

Before we left Portland, we made our annual excursion to the incredible Powell's Bookstore ("City of Books"). I go every year, but this was Younger Daughter's first visit. Well, first visit as a young adult rather than a young child.

On the way, we marveled anew at the massive and graceful bridges spanning the Willamette River.

As we turned onto Burnside Street, we momentarily came face to face with Portland's Chinatown. Younger Daughter snapped this shot.

She also liked this contemporary fountain in front of an office building.

Before we could get into Powell's, however, we had to park. The parking garage is crazy, with steep ramps and tight corners and itty bitty parking places and inconvenient support pillars. Better than parking on the street, however, especially with a car-full of stock and other enticements.

But Powell's is worth any parking difficulties. It's a bookstore that has to be seen to be believed.

This ediface takes up one entire city block and is four stories high. As soon as we entered the store, I pulled out a map and showed Younger Daughter how it's laid out, color-coded according to category.

Upon finding out this was Younger Daughter's first (adult) visit, the info lady cheerily gave us a couple of "I Got Lost in Powell's" stickers.

We spent a happy couple of hours and came away with seventeen books. Love that place!

But then we had to drive home. Ug. How glad I was to have Younger Daughter along for company.

We left the impressive city sights...

...and plunged into the dramatic beauty of the Columbia River Gorge.

Most of the photos were taken by Younger Daughter. Here she was trying to capture the green tint on this bywater, but unfortunately the window reflected her photographic efforts.

We stopped for gas in Hood River and were appalled at the prices.

This dramatic escarpment always impresses me.

Windmills and a bridge.

A long train of flatcars with truck bodies, way way way across the river.

We passed this gasoline tanker, but from the advertisements on the back it looked just like it was a tanker truck full of coffee. What a thought.

This isolated but massive farm (irrigated with water from the Columbia) across the river from us always amazes me by its sheer size.

We came upon a truck stating its contents were "organic," but we couldn't really determine what it was transporting. Turned out to be carrots.

These are World War II-era bunkers (?) -- hundreds of them dotting the landscape near an armory.

The bridge over the first of two loops of the Columbia we cross into Washington.

Changing highways.

The bridge over the second loop of the Columbia that takes us into the Tri-Cities (Pasco/Kennewick/Richland) of Washington.

A decrepit old building.

The last major leg of the journey is when we turn off Hwy. 395 (phew!).

It's been a dry summer, and in many places the wheat had already been harvested.

We passed several windmills.

Lots of rolling wheat fields around here.

Farmers were also baling grass hay. See that rectangular stack? Those are thousand-pound hay bales, about 250 of them stacked up.

A basalt butte.

Wheat behind a rail fence -- classic country.

More endless Palouse vistas.

We passed this charming little rural church.

The final push before dropping into Colfax.

Downtown Colfax.

Are you getting bored of scenery shots?

Ah -- now this is the sign we were waiting for.

Last stop before home.

They baled the field across from us during our absence.

Now came the painful aftermath: unpacking the car. Doing mounds of laundry. Et cetera.

Ahhh! Home sweet home.


  1. The drive along the Columbia and through eastern Washington is really lots of fun and presents beautiful scenery.

    If you don't want to drive past the old chemical weapons bunkers at the Umatilla Army Depot you can take a short cut through the farms by turning east on Oregon 730. That saves a few minutes to the I 82 bridge over the Columbia.

    Then if you don't want to drive all the way on US 395 to Highway 26, turn east at Connell onto Highway 260 to Kahlotus and Washtucna. The Java Bloom in Washtucna is a great place to stop. This cutoff saves about 20 minutes of driving and the roads are nicely taken care of.


  2. I love your pictures of the country. I live in Maine and this might be the only way I get to see the west!

  3. As Dorothy said, "There's no place like home."


  4. Always enjoy seeing your pictures during your trips. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

    Those "World War II-era bunkers (?)" near the armory would be magazines, for storing ammunition/ordnance.

    The NW is the only part of the USA we've never visited, and your pictures always let me know what beauty we have to look forward to when we do eventually get out there.

    Steve in NC

  5. I love Portland, particularly Powell's. Betsy and I, then later Jim and I, did a LOT of walking. It's such an easy place to get around on public transportation. Glad you had a good trip! I'll be heading back before next Christmas for a visit.

  6. Lots of windmills in the gorge, far more then you can see from the highway. Each of them costs about $1 million from production to eventual teardown. About half that expense is borne by taxpayers as direct subsidies to the industry. About 40% of the cost is borne by rate payers in higher electric costs and the remaining 10% or so is indirect subsides such as tax write-offs etc. During it's lifetime the average commercial sized windmill will generate about $25,000 worth of electricity. A pretty poor bargain you must admit. But wait! It gets worse. In order to include power sources like windmills with their unpredictable and undependable output large conventional generating plants must be built to compensate for the undependable wind. These plants cannot simple sit not running because it takes and hour to a few hours to get them up from a cold start so they run 24/7 just waiting for the wind to stop. Not so bad since the average commercial windmill gets less then 4 hours a day of actual energy production with about half that at a rate so low it isn't even worth putting on-line. So those beautiful windmill are really expensive and unnecessary artifacts of a modern corrupt world we live in and the only reall purpose they seem to serve (other then making some politicians and corporations rich) is to kill birds. Is this a great country or what?

  7. Glad to see that you are safely home. It sounds like your bookstore is marvelous. There was one similar but smaller in Chicago called Krock and Bertanios, When my dad sold the cattle the rest of the family would travel by train to Chicago and the trip to K&B was always the highlight. It was so nice to see 20,000 science fiction books all in one place!

  8. Hello Patrice...
    We never Ever tire of your photos... How wonderful of you to share them with us... Love your insight and it's amazing how many times you take the photos of what I am truly interested in... Thank you...Great to be back home, I'm sure!

  9. Ah yes, Colfax, Washington. The speed trap town we try hard to avoid.


  10. Hi Patrice! Love your pictures, especially since I have lived along different parts of that road most of my life. Those are not bunkers, nor are they munitions. They are the chemical weapons stored near Umatilla. It was quite a heated fight when they proposed building them and then slowly start buring the weapons. I always hate driving by and give a little sigh of relief when we are passed!

  11. I was quite surprised to see the "decrepit building" which is about a mile from my house. Thanks for the great pictures.

  12. Growing up in Rural Oregon and living in Portland for a few years it was really lovely to see the beautiful pictures, it felt like I had gone home. That countryside although being Washington reminded me of growing up in Eastern Oregon. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.