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Day 50: Opening Oregon

Day 50: Opening Oregon

The big open wilderness of Oregon was masked as I drove southeast from the Portland area. As I climbed the pass on 26 highway I joined Mt. Hood in the blanket of the clouds. Driving through Oregon was a lot like opening a present layer by layer. After my foggy drive through Mt. Hood National Forest the land opened up in front of me as a high desert plain. Brushy vegetation was in bloom with snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Oregon Landscape. June 28, 2011. North of Warm Spings, OR

After I passed Warm Springs, Oregon I ran into some beautiful examples of columnar jointing in basalt. At first it towered straight into the sky, and further down the road the pattern made a swirl like I have never seen. I’m not as familiar with igneous rocks so I don’t know what causes the jointing to swirl in different directions rather it’s preferred vertical pattern. If anyone knows please inform me. I live to learn! (See the cover photo for this entry)

Columnar Jointing in Basalt, Oregon June 28, 2011

Further down the highway I stopped at the Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint. It overlooks a beautiful basaltic canyon carved by the Crooked River. The canyon edges are more than steep- they are completely vertical. The canyon is over 300 feet deep and proved impassable until 1911 when they finally had the technology and resources to build a bridge.

Ogden State Viewpoint. Oregon June 28, 2011

While the view is gorgeous, I think one of the main reasons to visit would be to see the warning signs. There are several different flavors of humorous, albeit justified, warning signs. I think my favorite was the one below that shows a dog jumping off a cliff.

Sign at Ogden State Viewpoint, Oregon Juen 28, 2011

After stopping by a Trader Joes to get ingredients for dinner I headed towards my planned campsite. I was pretty excited to camp in Oregon. I knew the weather would be wonderful and it would be my first experience in Oregon. Unfortunately a less humorous sign than those of Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint were ready to welcome me in the state:

Campgrounds were full in Oregon. June 28, 2011

After spending several hours driving from campsite to campsite only to be greeted by the same message I had to surrender to a hotel. Remember how I mentioned yesterday it was important to plan for extra spending money? This is a perfect example of why anyone should plan to do just that. Hotels are certainly more expensive than a campground.
The hotel stay turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The owner happened be someone who had been caving a few times and had the inside info on some local lava tubes I could explore. He gave me directions to 3 or 4 different places I could go visit to round out my lava tube experience from yesterday’s Ape Cave.
I may have been taken out of the campground for the night, but nothing could take the camp out of me. I had planned on browning the ground turkey I purchased at Trader Joes so I could make turkey tacos and nothing could stop me. I set up my camp stove on the sidewalk and brown the half pound of ground turkey (I usually cooked all the meet then all I had to do is keep it in the cooler and reheat at the next camp). I enjoyed my turkey burgers with a sense of accomplishment and laughter at the looks other hotel guests gave me.

Cooking at a Hotel in Bend, Oregon. Juen 28, 2011

Oregon’s outdoors may have escaped the grasp of my tent tonight, but as a result tomorrow I would be doing something well worth the inconvenience: Caving. I’ll see you all underground tomorrow.

I tried a local beer and it commended me. Oregon June 28, 2011

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