|Hood River Bridge, from the Oregon side. Built in 1924, it is the 2nd oldest Oregon>Washington bridge|
across the Columbia River, preceded by the Interstate Bridge in 1917.
We were coming down the home stretch, just a few hours drive from our boat in Portland Oregon. We were both excited and anxious. We were almost home! Was our boat still afloat? What would need to be done to it after it sat idle for eight month? Boats do not like sitting idle!
|Nancy and Doug Yoes. Us Hewlett-Packard alums stick together.|
First, though, we enjoyed the spending the night and morning with longtime friends Nancy and Doug Yoes. We’ve kept up through the years, even though it’s been a long time since we worked together at Hewlett Packard (aka HP).
While I chose to leave HP (with a generous voluntary severance package after surviving massive downsizing and more still expected), what I miss most about HP is the awesome folks I worked with. More than anyplace else I worked, I loved working and playing with with my colleagues there. I feel humbled and grateful so many of us continue to keep in touch.
Wayne, good naturedly put up with Doug, Nancy and me reminiscing about “the good ole days at HP.” I literally laughed so hard I wet my pants with the group Doug and I used to work in – they were that funny! Who expects your colleagues to run a tortilla through a company printer at a trade show? Or mime the company CEO in the midst of a company profit-sharing announcement with a puppet fashioned from his image torn from an annual report? The list goes on, but probably isn’t nearly as funny as it was to those of us who were there. We also did some amazing work along the way, I’m still proud to be part of.
|Grass is greener in the Yoes Irrigon Oregon backyard, overlooking the Columbia River.|
Doug and Nancy’s place offered a great view of the mighty Columbia River. I-84 mostly parallels the Columbia. I’d never been further East on it than Arlington. Back then, it was on a futile effort to chase the wind to windsurf from Hood River, on a blistering hot day. I never stopped to look around.
|Abandoned shacks near the Hood River Oregon bridge.|
Despite living in the small town of Hood River* for three years, I’m embarrassed to admit, I don’t recall these abandoned weathered shacks alongside the river. Granted, I moved away from Hood River about 20 years ago. Someday, though, I need to find out more about those shacks. It looks like they have a story to tell.
*My only experience living in a small town, unless you count my brief stint with Youth Conservation Corps 13 miles outside of the town of Happy Camp, California.
|The recently rebuilt Sellwood Bridge, Portland Oregon. View from where our boat sat for the last 8 months.|
Then, finally, after 3,600 or so miles, we arrived, back where we started from when we left last September.
For this post, I will simply say it was with great relief, our boat was still there, docked, afloat at Portland Rowing Club’s marina. More in a future post on what we found.
|A rare meal out for us, at Thailahnna in Sellwood, Portland Oregon.|
Even though we returned to our favorite PNW grocery stores to set up our galley again, it was time to celebrate. Besides, we returned to cold, rainy weather. Maybe I’m spoiled, but I felt like I needed a break. I wanted to eat something different, let someone else to steam up their kitchen and give me a break from doing the clean-up afterward, too.
We don’t eat out often, so we especially appreciate it when we do and the meal is a good one. At Thailahnna the food looked as good as it tasted, and with leftovers, we got two meals out of it.
|Roses blooming, Sellwood neighborhood, Portland Oregon. Portland’s nickname is the City of Roses.|
Cross-country Tips & Take-aways
What did we learn over 3,600 or so miles, crossing from the Southeast to the Northwest? Our second go at this in less than a year, in reverse.
- Thriving small towns appear to be vanishing across America. We feel a deep sense of loss about that, especially for those small towns able to survive with independent businesses, rather than the all too ubiquitous Dollar General. And why the heck don’t navigation systems give you an option to go through rather than avoid Main Streets? Fastest isn’t always best.
- Even taking the byways, unless we slowed down, we usually thought there was no wildlife. For example, zipping through Louisiana’s low country…. We stopped, briefly. In what formerly looked like barren wetlands, we could could see birdlife thriving.
- Our long term travel goal is to spend less time crossing broad expanses quickly, and more time in smaller areas, getting a better sense of what life there is like. We knew that taking the byways is better for us than the interstates, but that we we barely skimmed the surface of this vast land called the United States.
- Call it global warming or just plain weird weather. Despite hit a big patch of unseasonably cold weather which we weren’t quite prepared for, we feel incredibly lucky. We just barely missed tornadoes and flooding – some truly catastrophic weather.
- We skipped our planned exploration of the Southwest — Grand Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands and Gunnison of the Black Canyon — because of weird weather. We’d also rather come back and explore it more deeply on a dedicated trip, than too quickly, passing through. We’ll return with our hiking and camping gear and not a car-load full of our most valuable possessions that would be left behind while we’re hiking, camping or backpacking.
- We were generally happier with meals we brought with us or bought and could put together easily from the grocery store than eating out. It was faster, easier on our pocketbook and generally better for us (gummy bears and other indulgences aside). At least with grocery nutritional labeling we knew what we were getting. Our motel rooms nearly always had at least a fridge and a microwave.
- Google maps rocks for getting the best prices for last minute lodging passing through. It works best when you dig down to contact the hotel directly. Plan far enough to head if you’re traveling empty stretches between towns to use it when you have wifi. Yes, we learned that the hard way (on prior travels).
- It’s stunning how much stuff fits in a Prius, and how much faster speeds, hills and air conditioning impacts mileage. While the Prius is relatively comfortable, if we didn’t want to feel crotchety, we needed to stop at least every two hours to get out and stretch. In lots of ways, my Prius is an awesome trip car. Still… If we move cross-country again, would it make more sense to fly? Tallying up our road trip costs will make for an interesting comparison. Flights and a mover and what to do with our car in exchange for taking a dedicated vacation in a smaller area. TBD.
- We’re grateful this trip gave us an excuse to catch up with friends and family. Thank you Jule, Mark and Patty, Holly, Doug and Nancy. We appreciated talking to someone besides each other.
- While we missed out on a golden opportunity to listen to stories and podcasts on our dive, it was a good time to enjoy the silence and take more notice of our surroundings. Most of what we saw, we will probably never see again. Passing though Irma’s wake is a stark reminder as well you never know when a landscape can change forever.
This is the last post of our cross-country trip. We arrived in Portland three weeks ago, in the middle of Memorial weekend, before the Rose Festival.
At some point, I will tally up our miles and expenses and update this post for those curious on how to make the trip on a relatively tight budget. Also, we will review that data as we make our future decisions on what does and doesn’t pencil out.
We are currently tied off on a public dock on Sauvie’s Island Oregon on the Gilbert River off the Multnomah Channel, N45 47.505 W122 47.978.