Epic Road Trip ~ Homeward Bound

Postcard from the Road:

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 Somewhere over the Midwest at 33,000 feet

Out the window, the North American continent glides slowly by at 552 mph.  Last week it took all day to cross a time zone — a long day, making good time. Today, three time zones will come and go in as many hours. Time is relative. On a boat, with a fair wind, we might cover three miles in an hour, and are happy to do it. Ironically, that slow pace is a far richer experience than this, as was the driving.

The plane passes right over Hood River, and I think I see Emily’s house. The Columbia Rover Gorge, so beautiful and majestic yesterday, from here looks flat and uninteresting. Fog fills it to the rim, adding to the effect. Skim milk spilled on a table. Mount Adams and Mount Hood yesterday rose up from the Cascade Range like mythological giants. If appearance made a sound, theirs would be booming thunder. But from 30,000 feet they’re just small, mute protuberances.

 

Mount Adams

 

Columbia Gorge filled with fog

 

Oregon. Idaho. Montana. Nebraska. South Dakota. Minnesota. Iowa. There’s the Mississippi, frozen and still. Wisconsin. Illinois. Before the sun touches the mountains I’ll be in Virginia.

the frozen Mississippi

 

A couple of times during the trip, I checked the dash cam to see it was working as intended. It’s pretty amazing to see. Many handheld photos, taken throughout, show a remarkable landscape, changing dramatically from moment to moment. It’s a big country.

It will take some time to winnow through. Clear blue skies, rain, snow, wind storms, dust storms, white outs going through high mountain passes; forests, farms, prairies, deserts, rivers and cities. It’s all there. It’s still there.

 

Epic Road Trip ~ Mile 3082 : Hood River, Oregon

Postcard from the Road:

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Portland, 9:51pm

Left Emily in Hood River this morning. Not an easy thing,

But she has a bunch of friends already, and a job, and a place to live, and a vigorous sense of adventure. She’ll be better than fine.

Back in Portland, met up with Doryman, who was on his way to Port Townsend to deliver a boat. We spent hours talking philosophies: Eastern, Western, Personal, purely conjecture. It was good to see him. He’s thinning the Doryman fleet, paring down, preparing for a new phase of adventures of his own. So much suddenly becomes possible when you cut all the lines that keep you moored.

Leaving at 5am to catch a flight back East. In the coming days I’ll start backfilling details and photos. There’s an awful lot of story left out — so much you just can’t get your head around when you’re moving so fast, let alone get down in any coherent fashion. Epic indeed.

For now, this is tonight, my last night in Oregon, in Portland, in a group house hostel in the arts district with a bunch of twenty-something’s, in the fog:

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Epic Road Trip ~ Mile 2919 : Portland

Postcard from the Road:

 

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 The aisles of Powell’s City of Books in Portland, which
takes up several floors of a full city block. And then some.

 

We drove all the way across Oregon in the rain along the Columbia Gorge. Passed through Hood River in the dark, arrived in Portland exhausted. Decided to head straight for something familiar and comforting – a bookstore.

 

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Sometimes Portland felt like being on a movie set – everyone was in character. 

 

Ok, an enormous bookstore. But from there we knew we could set up a quick base camp and figure out what to do next: get out of the rain, get out of the car, and get access to wifi.

Still raining, cold and hard. Just parking was a big hassle, and the idea of getting back in the car had zero appeal. Found a hotel close enough to walk to, just a couple of blocks away. Pricey, but anything in the city would be expensive, and we were ready for a little R&R. And food.

Got checked in, and realized we needed to bring the car around to the hotel. Then realized it wouldn’t fit into any nearby garages with that humongous luggage rack on top. On a tip from the doorman, we ran back for the car in the rain and grabbed a spot that opened up right out front on the street. Emily decided it was worth it to get up early to feed the meter. No other options, really. We’d be heading for Hood River by lunch, anyway.

I got a plane reservation and arranged for a rental car for me, and a place to stay for at least the next night.

Still buzzing from the road neither of us could get to sleep right away, but when we did we crashed hard.

 

 

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Epic Road Trip ~ Mile 759 : St. Louis, Missouri

Postcard from the Road: 


We covered 759 miles today, stopping just east of St. Louis. Wanted to save Missouri for tomorrow, since state lines will be fewer and farther between from now on. We saw 6 states today.

The driving has been good, so far. Traffic is light, weather good. A dusting of snow on the mountains in West Virginia, increasing steadily to piles here in Illinois. But all of is several days old, the highways clear. Only parking lots and side roads still packed with snow.

We lucked into a nice window – between the Polar Vortex (which froze and burst all the pipes in the hotel here on Monday, from which they’re just now recovering) and some light snow just south of here. We should get to Oregon just a day after big storm there of fierce wind and very heavy rain, up to 6 inches overnight. Hope our luck holds.

A selection of snaps from the day. Some is from the time lapse rig running on the dash, and some hand held.

Very pretty landscape, even in the hard light of winter.