Wednesday, September 09, 2015

NW Day Twelve: Long Way from Home

Today marked a turning point on our trip….from here on out, we are heading (roughly) eastward. 

But, before we could start out, we needed to get the tire of the van repaired. The Jedi had noted that it seemed to have a slow leak. He had air put in it when we first reached Seattle, and then he put air in it our first morning in Portland, before we launched into our Portland activities. As we left dinner at our friends’ house, it was *really* low (15 PSI). The Jedi, always prepared, had a small air pump that plugged into the van dash and could reinflate the wheel enough to get back to the hotel. But we knew it needed a real fix before we drove across plains of southern Idaho.

It was labor day, so we were concerned there might not be anything open. The Jedi pulled into the first tire place he saw, which happened to be Firestone. It also just so happened that we had just purchased Firestone tires for the van. The Jedi, being as wise as he is, always purchases road hazard insurance when he buys tires. It turns out that the tire had a screw in it in a place where it couldn’t be patched. But because it was a Firestone tire and he happened to pull into Firestone and the people who sold us the tire had filled out the online road hazard warranty, and the tire was brand new, Firestone put a new tire on the van at no charge. 

So, we got a late start to our day, but all the details worked out as perfectly as they could possibly be, so we were happy.

Our first stop took us a little out of our way. I tried to argue against it (well, I made a half-hearted effort to argue against it) because I knew we were already way behind due to the tire. But the Jedi insisted. He said we weren’t going to be 20 minutes from the terminus of the Oregon Trail and not drive over so that I could get a photograph next to the sign.

He loves me.

We didn’t go in (I really only wanted a picture. I’ve now been in Independence, Missouri and saw the swales in a field made by many wagons as they started out on the trail AND I’ve been in Oregon City, Oregon.) But the museum had a really cool architectural lay out. 

And a cool map of the trail. 

We then stopped at Annie’s Donuts, which the Jedi had read about on a food blog listing top donut shops. 

They were SO good. They weren’t heavy, or greasy, or too sweet. They were light and fluffy and tasty and just the right amount of sweet. They were perhaps the most perfect donut I have ever eaten.

Our next stop was supposed to be Multnamah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge. But as we approached, there were traffic advisory signs warning that the exit was closed because the lot was full. The Jedi offered to get off at the next exit and circle back on the back roads, but I didn’t really want to do that. The Falls would have been packed with people, and wouldn’t really have been that enjoyable.

Instead, we got off at Cascade Locks and had lunch on the outdoor, riverside patio at the Waterfront Locks Grill.

 Where Sweetling got her picture taken next to the Bigfoot Statue.

And where we got to watch a sternwheeler dock. 

We got back on the highway, and Tom Tom told us to take the highway for the next 350 miles or so. 

We got off at La Grande for gas, and found this awesome little family owned fresh burger restaurant. It was a long time still before Boise, so clearly we needed to order homemade ice cream to hold us over.

We weren’t going to make Boise before 9pm, when Boise Fry Company closed. We wound up getting dinner at Panda Express in Ontario, Oregon. 

We did get to pull off at some random, unlit exit where we stopped on the side of some state route and hung out the windows to look at the stars. (I didn’t want anyone out of the van, because we were on the shoulder of the road in the dark. On the one side of the van was death by a passing car, not that there were any other cars, but still. On the other side of the van was death by rattlesnake hiding in the sage brush. So we stayed in the van.) It was the first time either of the kids had ever seen the Milky Way.

In the end, what with crossing from Pacific into Mountain Time, we would up getting in to the hotel after 11 pm.

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