My husband and I decided to take our anniversary road trip this year in two consecutive Saturday installments. Today, we enjoyed the scenery along the Grande Ronde River, stopped briefly at Boggan’s Oasis, and ate our packed lunch next to the footbridge at Troy, Oregon.
The only exotic wildlife we saw were some wild turkeys, and I was not camera ready for their sprint across the highway. Next Saturday, weather and other variables permitting, we aspire to take in some hiking at Lyon’s Ferry.
Asotin, from the road to Anatone and on to the Oregon border
Basalt outcroppings and meadows profuse with blooming balsam are everywhere.
One of the many streams in the Grande Ronde River’s brood
A favorite stop in southeastern Washington, just before the Oregon border
The old foot bridge at Troy, Oregon. The dark trees on the hill are casualties of last summer’s forest fires.
Today was a court holiday, and my husband took an unusual day off from meeting with clients, as well. He worked in the morning on the dory he’s building, and made good progress toward attaching the boat’s bottom, while I completed my usual routine of Monday homekeeping tasks.
By mid-afternoon, my husband was eager to visit a beautiful stretch of the Snake River south of Asotin, at its confluence with the Grande Ronde River, which has its source in Northeastern Oregon’s Blue Mountains. The general area is called Heller’s Bar. We have visited the area several times, and I was totally up for the excursion. I love the area, and it seemed good to preview what might well be the site of the new dory’s maiden launch.
Confluence of the Grande Ronde and Snake Rivers
Another view of the Confluence
The Grande Ronde
The Grande Ronde
The tree seems to direct the way of the River’s flow.
We saw elk up the canyon, about two miles away. My husband took this photo with his camera’s superior-being telephoto.
And Effie, the girl waiting back home.
Located in Whitman County, Washington, Wawawi County Park is my nominee for the most beautiful county park anywhere. But I favor subtle places that don’t need dramatic features to narrate their quiet beauty.
Lower Snake River Canyon from Steptoe Canyon Road, on the way to Wawawi
An osprey surveys the vastness of his holdings
Snake River Canyon from Steptoe Canyon Road
A view from the trail
Tousled blond rye
With the courts closed for Presidents Day, my husband took a rare day off, and we thought of going to Joseph, Oregon. But Joseph is a 2-1/2-hour drive each way, and the sort of place that deserves one walk-through; we’d been once, and it was a tiring thought. The Grande Ronde River and its canyons is the best part of the trip, so we packed a simple lunch, fortified with Cenex Zip Trip French Roast in our mugs, and headed for Troy and Flora, about four and ten miles, respectively, across the Oregon border: two historic, do-nothing-but-look-at-the-scenery places not generally classed as destinations. In their favor over Joseph were shorter distance; soft ground instead of sidewalks for walking around taking pictures; seeing virtually no people except a few guys fishing; and the presence of about no commercial establishments, except Boggan’s Oasis, a casual resort with a small convenience store and restaurant catering mostly to fishermen, which we had no need to enter and so didn’t.
Troy lies at the confluence of the Grande Ronde and Wenaha Rivers. The community of 25 permanent residents caters to river fishermen.
Flora has the distinction, conferred by the Oregon Historical Society, of being “the most substantial town in Northeast Oregon to fail.”
Wildlife sightings enhanced the scenery even more: a bald eagle perched attentively on a branch at the river’s edge; wild turkeys, a few mountain sheep, and a fairly large herd of elk.
Let’s face it: the news has been unhinging to anyone with human sensibilities lately, and I don’t concede it a failure of faith to acknowledge the perturbation. “O Lord. . .in wrath remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:2) (Thank you, Jane, for the reminder of Mark’s wonderful series on Habakkuk those (7?) years ago.)
With Grünhilde Audi back on the road, a road trip seemed the natural happy thing to do on the way home from our Saturday coffee in Asotin. We headed up
Weissenfels Ridge Rd., a primitive (a strange way to characterize a mere absence of signs, I’ve always thought) gravel road glancing a few inches from the edge of the steep, 1,100-foot-deep ridge side. To a person without functioning adrenals, it looks about 6,000 feet to the bottom.
One of the less comforting sights on the way up was a crumpled car at the bottom. My husband assured me it was a longstanding high school tradition to roll a beater car down such places as part of graduation festivities. My husband and I did not attend the same high school. What did reassure me was that the car below had not exploded and burned. As it happened, not a single car came along in the opposite direction to cause us to yield our hold on the center of the narrow, winding road.
Hay was bailed in most of the pastures on our route, but some canola fields had dried up without being harvested; we don’t know what hard times visited the ridge this summer.
We returned through Anatone, noting that the town sign announced a population of 38, up from 37 the last time we came through. Congratulations, someone!
For those as captivated with metal barns and thunderheads as I am, I offer these photos as representative of the excellent scenery that reconstituted my sense of protectedness from all things harrowing, unhinging, or both.
Confluence, Joseph Creek and Grande Ronde River
Joseph Creek enters the Grande Ronde
Grande Ronde Canyon homestead
Maybe this was a one-room school?
No matter how agreeable our home and its environs are, I am certain that road trips will always be necessary for our sustenance. The countryside within about three-quarters of an hour’s drive has different history, different plants, a different river, and different nutrients that feed our souls, that all are excellent and even necessary in moderation. Of course we can’t take a road trip every day, but my husband’s and my road-trip clocks are pretty well synchronized.
Today’s local outback venture was the area where Joseph Creek flows into the Grande Ronde River, a tributary of the Snake River. Lots of purposeful fishermen were out, presumably aspiring to hook bass; during other seasons, sturgeon, salmon, and steelhead lure anglers, solo and with tours. Vic and I scanned the high canyon for Bighorn sheep, but didn’t see any. We did discover Prairie clover, with its fetching purple blossoms. We’ll return at summer’s end and gather some seeds to plant among our sanfoin.
I aspired yesterday to blog from a remote location. I had my phone and my computer (I still have my DumbPhone so I need both), and the cord to transfer photos from phone to computer. My husband had his portable hot spot that would provide wireless Internet anywhere that has cell coverage. We were off to Palouse Falls State Park, with its spectacular box-canyon waterfall near Lyon’s Ferry, which is near Starbuck, which isn’t actually near anything. What lacks proximity to Palouse Falls is a cell tower.
While we were eating part of our lunch in the car before leaving the falls, my daughter called, with her exuberant imperative that we have a merry Christmas. My granddaughter was learning to roller skate on the kitchen floor! Could we Skype? My husband shook his head no; there was a cell signal, enough for a phone call, but too weak to access the Internet, or at least not at Skype speed. Rats.
Somehow, heading home often triggers stress over unresolved things at home, things that we can do nothing about until the following day anyway; they will nevertheless nag and claw today. Even hearing the thunder of dramatic Palouse Falls fails to drown out the stress of an incompetent (they sent half as much as my vet ordered) pharmacy 2000 miles away; toss in the techno-corporate mind of UPS, that thought my cat’s medicine was not on a delivery truck that my cat’s medicine was actually on–even a rare, mid-week road trip fails to dismember the grip in which these stressors hold me. My strength was no match. By the time we arrived home, the stressors had hacked their way past my somatic security.
It was the most severe migraine attack I have ever suffered at home from first throb to the end. I’ve had three others equally severe, vanquished by injections or IVs in hospital emergency rooms. I have been able to manage the other hundreds of others I’ve had at home.
I was not going to the emergency room for Christmas. I don’t need writing material that badly.
It was nonetheless a pleasant road trip. Three years ago, we had lunch at Snake River Grill, at the Lyon’s Ferry KOA. They took my dietary limits in stride and made me a grilled chicken breast with melted Swiss cheese and mushrooms that was delicious. The Grill was closed for Christmas, but we had food with us. We just needed to know the place still existed.
I must share the important discovery I made on our way home. The Lyon’s Ferry roadside rest stop’s ladies’ room has the luxuries of hand sanitizer and a purse hook. As a rest stop aficionado, I give the Lyon’s Ferry rest stop the award of my high regard.