"Every time there is a snow storm, we know our fate is tied to the world around us"
State 20: Oregon - November 10, 2017
We woke up in a Walmart in Bend, OR, excited to begin our exploration of Eastern Oregon, which consists of sparsely populated vast stretches of wilderness. Bend is the largest city East of the Cascade Mountains, and home to 89,000 residents. Interestingly, Bend gets significantly less rain compared to Western Oregon due to the Cascade Mountains shielding the town from approaching weather fronts. I have only heard wonderful things about Bend, and it was one of the towns we were looking forward to examining closer as our possible new home.
We decided to begin our day by visiting the library, because doing so reveals so much about a town. For example, a newly constructed modern library can be an indication of high taxes, and an old musty, dark and dated building can signify the town is broke. We want to see who patrons the library. Are they college students studying for an upcoming exam? Are mothers there reading books to their children? Or is the library the hang out for the local homeless population?
Off we went to the library in Bend to catch up on some computer work. On the way into the building, I noticed a very strange and quite possibly obscene bronze sculpture right in front on the libraries' main entrance of two salmon dancing. Although, I am far from an expert in art, It appears these two fish are engaged in an act they should be doing in private instead of directly in front of the town's library! The cigarette in one of the salmon's mouth further proves my point. If the purpose of art is to challenge public perception and to get people talking, the “dancing salmon” bronze sculpture in front of the Bend library has certainly succeeded. The library was one of the nicest we had seen, to the point of being a bit over the top, and even included a law library! Please see the pictures below.
Another great way to get a feel for a town is to visit the local supermarket, and look around to see who is shopping. Next, we went to Costco to pick up a few essentials, and engaged in one of our favorite past times; people watching! I promise you we are very inconspicuous, and it is not as creepy as it sounds. Typically, the people we see in a Costco are middle aged married couples with children, but they also contain a decent mix of demographics depending on the town. However, the vast majority of people we saw in the Bend Costco were white, married couples in their 60’s, and we prefer a little more diversity in our potential new home.
As were driving around town we made a very disturbing discovery about Bend. We noticed a very distinct divide between the wealthy and middle class. The rich lived in mansions on a hill overlooking the city, and the valley beneath is where the common folk lived. There were stores where only the rich shopped such as Macy's and Nordstrom's in one part of town. In another section of town was stores such as Walmart’s and Dollars Stores where everyone else shopped. This was the most pronounced division of class within a single town we had seen on our entire trip, and it was a real turn off! Although we identify as middle class, we have nothing against the wealthy. However, I want our new home to be in a place where all the town's residents can comingle over a cup of coffee, and freely share different views and perspectives regardless of socioeconomic status. It was Abraham Lincoln who said “A house divided among itself cannot stand”. Compared to most, Bend, OR was a good city, but it just wasn’t good enough to be our new home.
After departing Bend, we drove 113 miles North to the National Park depicted on the reverse of the Oregon state quarter; Mount Hood National Forest. Established by Congress in 1892, The Mount Hood National Forest encompasses 1,067,043 acres, and it's old growth forest makes up a 1/3 of the total acreage. The park takes it's name from the potentially active volcano and tallest mountain in Oregon at 11,249 feet; Mount Hood. With over 4 million annual visitors, Mount Hood National Forest is one of the most visited national forests in the United States. Some of the recreational activities include skiing, mountain climbing, fishing, boating, rafting, biking, berry picking, and mushroom foraging. Please see the pictures below.
We would explore the National Forest via a 94-mile loop road called the Mount Hood Scenic Byway. Half of the loop road consists of the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Byway along the Oregon/Washington state border, and we had previously completed it during our visit to Washington. We will enter the Mount Hood Scenic Byway on the East side, and travel Westbound on Oregon Route 35. Please see pictures below.
The sky was so overcast, foggy and rainy during our drive on Route 35, not only could we not see Mount Hood, we could barely see 10 feet in front of us! We were extremely disappointed! As we drove along, we passed the entrance to the Timberline Lodge and decided to check it out. The road up to the lodge was 7 miles long and as we drove up the steep hill in hopes to finally get a good look at Mount Hood, it began to snow! I turned to Nate and said, "Are you sure you really want to do this?"
Listed on the national register of historic places, and as a US national historic landmark, The Timberline Lodge is a 55,000 square foot ski lodge and mountain retreat on the South slope of Mt. Hood at an elevation of 6,000 feet. Constructed from 1936 to 1938, The lodge was part of the New Deal; a public work initiative by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to bring the country out of the Great Depression. President Roosevelt was present to dedicate the lodge, and his chair is from the ceremony is still on display. Although Lori and I are not skiers, we appreciate the lodges architectural and historical significance. Please see the pictures below.
If the Timberline Lodge looks familiar, it is because the outside of the building was featured in the 1980 horror movie; “The Shining” starring Jack Nicholson and based on the Steven King novel. Just to recap the plot of the movie, the Shining is about an aspiring writer named Jack who accepts a position as the off-season caretaker of the isolated and historic Overlook Hotel. Wintering over with Jack is his wife Wendy and young son Danny. Danny possesses "the shining", which is an array of psychic abilities that allow Danny to see the hotel's horrific past. Danny has a particular evil feeling about room 237 at the lodge. After a winter storm leaves the family snowbound, Jack's sanity deteriorates due to the influence of the supernatural forces that inhabit the hotel placing his wife and son grave in danger. Interestingly, in Stephen King's novel, Danny’s premonition is about room 217, and in the movie it was changed to room 237. The director was asked not to depict room 217 in the movie out of fear future guests might be afraid to stay in the room. Instead, room 237 was used in the movie, because it is a nonexistent room in the Timberline Lodge. Ironically, even to this very day, room 217 is still the lodges most requested room! Being at the location where a horror movie was filmed should have been our first inclination that visiting the Overlook Hotel, I mean Timberline Lodge, was a very bad idea!
After exploring the lodge, we walked back to the parking lot to reunite with Rosie, and to begin our descent down Mount Hood. We discovered the snow had intensified over the past hour, and the temperature had significantly dropped. Lori and I hopped back into Rosie to drive away, but poor Rosie was stuck. Rosie’s engine revved ferociously as her tires spun hopelessly in the ice and snow. I lowered her gears, and rocked her back and forth shifting between reverse and drive. Rosie barely budged! It was such a sad sight to see! I grabbed the only capable object I had handy, which was a baseball bat, and attempted to smash the ice around Rosie’s tires. I then returned back into driver’s seat to attempt to free her from her icy tomb. I repeated this fruitless process dozens of times over the next hour and half. Clearly, my attempts to free Rosie were unsuccessful, and it was time for a different approach. Since Rosie weighs 3 tons, I set off in search of 15 people to help me push Rosie free!
Although I am not a reckless person, I have no problems taking calculated risks. Today, I fear my choice to visit the Timberline Lodge had unknowing placed my wife, my Rosie, and myself, in a very compromising position. At this point, my lips were chapped and bleeding, and my hands were raw, cut and numb from the blistering cold and from my repetitive attempts to smash the ice surrounding Rosie’s tires. The snow continued to fall at a blinding rate, and I still had to drive 7 miles back down the steep, windy, snow covered mountain road to the base of Mount Hood. Our situation was getting more urgent with each passing moment! Please see the pictures below.
Hello everyone... this is Rosie; Nate and Lori’s Van. Usually, Lori and Nate do the talking on this blog about their journey, but they have graciously agreed to allow me to share some of my thoughts about the day’s events. First I must say, I was overjoyed when Nate and Lori adopted me 8 months ago, and entrusted me to be their home and transportation on their year long cross country trip. I promised to safely take them where ever the road may lead. They both have taken very good care of me… for the most part. I am way over due for a car wash, and they keep giving me Costco gas at every fill up. YUCK! Can you imagine what it feels like eating the same thing every single day! I wish they would mix it up a bit maybe Shell one day, then Mobil on others. My absolute favorite gas is Sinclair! Yum! Yum! I actually do run better on it! Sorry, I get easily distracted at times, and will now go back to my story.
Nate and Lori bought me brand new designer shoes (tires) prior to departing on the trip. Not only have my shoes (tires) served me well, I look very sexy in them. I have taken Lori and Nate over the countries tallest mountain ranges, and through our nation's deepest valleys. I have taken them on paved roads, gravel roads, dirt roads, and even off-roading once or twice. I have even taken them. “over the river, and through the woods to Nate’s Grandmas house we go”. Sorry, there I go again getting off topic, but how I do love to sing! Anywho, here I found myself on the top of the tallest mountain in Oregon in a snow storm, and my sexy shoes were useless. No matter what I tried I just could not gain traction! I sensed Nate’s frustration at the situation, and Lori’s anxiety at the possibility of being stranded in a snowstorm at the top of a mountain. I was so sad, and felt as if I had let both of them down! Worst of all, I saw Nate trying to round up 15 people in the parking lot to push me out. Now, I am a large sexy lady with curves in all the right places, but I was mortified at the thought of 15 people with their hands on my derriere' attempting to push me out of a snow bank! I spoke to the cars parked to my left and right, and they said their owners were about to drive them home soon. Good! That would give me a tad more wiggle room! Next, I secretly switched on my emergency brake to slow down my RPM’s. There! That should do the trick! All I needed was Nate to hop back into the driver’s seat, and drive me away! I can’t believe Nate just publicly shared my weight on this blog. How embarrassing!!!
Unfortunately, I was only able to find 2 other people willing to help, and the three of us were unable to push Rosie free. I was running out of options, and was about to walk back into the ski lodge to ask the staff for suggestions. I noticed the cars parked on either side of Rosie had just left, and decided to hop back into the driver’s seat for one last attempt to free Rosie! This time her wheels spun much slower, and she gained traction as she slid from side to side. Before I knew it, Rosie was finally free!!! I then heard an alarm on her dashboard go off, and saw her emergency brake was on. That’s strange! I don’t remember engaging her emergency brake! Nonetheless, we began our terrifying 7-mile descent down Mount Hood on a steep and windy ice covered road in a blinding snowstorm. Please see the pictures below.
After safely making it down the mountain, we departing Mount Hood National Forest, and we drove 66 miles Northwest to the border town of Vancouver, WA, where we found a Walmart to spend the night. Tomorrow we visit Portland and we can’t wait!!!