August 11, 2012

The Great American Road Trip - Driving to Hood River, Oregon

Continued from The Great American Road Trip.

Despite baking in the sun, I do like the drive to Oregon. My sister mentioned to me that I seem to drive to Oregon every month and actually, she is pretty close to correct. Once you get away from the Bay Area and past the Sacramento Valley, the landscape becomes more interesting along Shasta Lake and through the Siskyou Mountains. My favorite part is always the appearance of Mount Shasta on the horizon.

Mount Shasta
After getting off the interstate in a town called Weed (go ahead, giggle), California, the road continues north and east toward Oregon. On the way, is the grasslands of Butte Valley, green and watery in the spring and dry and golden toward the end of summer. I find many people are surprised to learn that Central Oregon is actually quite dry, unlike the rest of the state on the west side of the Cascade mountains.

Butte Valley
The California-Oregon border
Dry Oregon

I could almost do this drive in my sleep, but this time, unlike most, my final destination is not Bend, Oregon. For the first time, I continue past Bend, without even stopping. The sun is setting in velvety waves of color behind the silhouette of several dark and pointy Cascade mountaintops. We are just outside Madras, Oregon driving through lovely countryside, with large irrigation sprinklers spraying rosy sprays of water over golden fields.

The first stop on our Great American Road Trip is Hood River, Oregon. Hood River is about 60 miles east of Portland with a population of about 7,000. It is on the banks of the great Columbia River, along the Columbia River Gorge, some of the most scenic landscape in America. We arrive at our motel late and a less than full moon is hanging low and golden orange in the sky. Tomorrow, we explore Hood River.

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