Road Trip: U.S. 26 Portland-Caldwell

US 26 Portland, Oregon-Caldwell, Idaho

Every now and then I like to escape the madness and congestion that I often find in the Portland metropolitan area. One of my favorite destination is heading east of the Cascades. That to me sounded like a great plan on Monday morning.

My trip was on U.S. 26 from the Ross Island Bridge in Portland, Oregon, to I-84 in Caldwell, Idaho. The drive on U.S. 26 was 420 miles.  It was a easy going drive to see what is out there and take some pictures.

Between Portland and Prineville was the least interesting. There was very little attraction along the way through the forests of western Cascades, over Government Camp Pass, and through the high desert of Warm Springs and Madras. The traffic is mostly motorists rushing to commute to central Oregon.

After I passed east of Prineville is where I found it to be more interesting. The secluded mountainous terrain dotted with ponderosa pine and patches of golden grass and gray basalt rocks.

I find small towns like Mitchell, Dayville, John Day, and Ironside fascinating. I reflect on the early days of those towns and see how simple life was back then. They have character.

Sometimes, I like to stop at a good diner and grab a bite. When I’m traveling with my dog and it’s about 100°F outside under the blazing sun, leaving my dog in the car is not an option. The places I encountered that were open did not have outdoor seating. I had to save my meal for a quick bite at an A&W in Nyssa, Oregon, near the Idaho border.

One challenge I face when photographing on the road are the minimal pull outs. The shoulder on U.S. 26 is narrow and thick, soft pea gravel. This was especially a problem through Picture Gorge.

The sad past about this whole journey is seeing the many town no longer focus on tourism. A majority of places I passed had a “Closed” sign posted. The highway speed limits are up to 65 miles per hour. There is a feeling of rush and lack of appreciation. It makes me think of the “Ferris Bueller” quote, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Even on this trip I felt a little bit rushed. I need to slow it down a bit and spend more time photographing. I’ll make it a multi-day trip next time.

The weather was hot and sunny. By afternoon, clouds begin to puff up over Wallowa and Malheur National Forests.

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Museum of Flight

Seattle Museum of Flight (May 30, 2017)

The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington, features various aviation and space artifacts. Artifacts include the replica of Boeing’s first aircraft, the BW1, to the newest Boeing 787 model. Other aircraft from other commercial and military use, ranging from World War 1 to today, are on display in the massive museum.

The Aviation Pavilion features several Boeing models for tours: the 707 (VC-137) “Air Force One,” United 727-100, NASA 737-100, Boeing’s original 747-100 “City of Everett”, 787-8 No. 3, B-17, B-29, and B-47.  The Concorde is also open for tours. Unfortunately, the B-17 and B-29 were not open for tours. The B-47 has never been opened for tours. The 747’s upper deck is no longer open for tours.

The museum itself features various war planes and scenes from World War 1 and World War 2. The space station module was removed earlier this year and replaced with new exhibits.

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Trojan Cooling Tower

Trojan Cooling Tower

The 499-foot cooling tower at Trojan Nuclear Power Project on May 16, 2006 prior to its demolition on May 21, 2006.

Sadly, I have no photos of the demolition. While set up on old highway 99 across the river in Washington, my only camera experienced a firmware failure two minutes before the demolition. Since that day, I carry two camera bodies with me.

I did capture the tower implosion on Hi-8 video.

Mt. St. Helens, Oct. 1, 2004

Mt. St. Helens Eruption 2004

This week’s Throwback Thursday takes us back to October 1, 2004, at Mt. St. Helens. At 12:04 p.m. Pacific Time on Oct. 4, 2017, Mt. St. Helens awoke from her slumber while I was driving up Windy Ridge Road (below image).

Mt. St. Helens violently erupted at 8:32 a.m. PT on May 18, 1980, thirty seven years ago on this day, reducing the 9,677-foot peak down to 8,363. The massive pyroclastic blast flattened out vegetation over 200 square miles and sending a lahar down the Toutle River.

The eruption killed 57 people, including USGS volcanologist David Johnston and Spirit Lake lodge owner Harry Truman.

The eruption on October 1, 2004, was nothing more than a tiny belch. I remember the morning on May 18, 1980, standing along SE 10th St. overpass over I-205 and watching Mt. St. Helens shoot up a dark plume of ash.

The Cascade Park area had little development at the time, making the mountain more visible from the overpass. That was impressive stuff. I was probably a little too young to take photos at the time, though.