Having never set foot in this State, I longed to find a story, a picture of time passing. Architecture never disappoints and always tells us something….I plan to look for a book that outlines architectural characteristics specific to the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.
Leaving flat land behind, passing a Correctional Center, an Army Depot and an incredible Greenwood Tree farm, we begin to descend into the Columbia River Valley, with Washingtonon the north side of the river and Oregon on the south. The strange broccoli shaped shrubbery continues to freckle the hills, some pink interrupting the mustard and sage. Soon the rolling hills rise to barren cliffs on either side of us, and even through the rain and fog I can see a man-made plant of white metal, mammoth bowed branches waving in the sky, swimming in the air, man and nature, windmills on rock.
A left turn at Biggs winds us steeply through the cliffs to a plateau of mixed desert prairie and farm land. I imagine covered wagon trains losing wheels on the rough terrain. We tune the radio to KC 93.5, home of the Gorge’s greatest music from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. “Jackie Blue” by the Ozark Mountain Dare Devils comes over the air as we pass two consecutive ghost towns. Wish we would have stopped to take a picture. I smell juniper and note a sign that tells us we have just crossed the 45th parallel, we are officially half way between the equator and the north pole.
We descend again and the clouds have lifted, the sun peeks through at 5:27 to say hello before it sets. I scan the valley with its scattered pine and magical ranchero view, and think “Bonanza“, an old western series I watched as a child. I could live here, how far away would we have to travel for food?
Temperatures are warm, but the wind is strong. Further down the highway a gas attendant in Redmond tells us Bend is the largest city in central Oregon, we soon shall see, or maybe not. You can’t see much in the dark.