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February 4, 2023

Heading east to The Dalles | Travel

With the first part of this story wrapping up in Fort Bragg on the Northern California Coast, Sarah and I continued our road trip north for a night in Klamath, the home of the Yurok Indigenous people. 

A small museum there gave us a valuable window into the early days of how these folks survived in raw plank wood homes, hollowed canoes out of single hunks of wood, hunted grizzly bears, wove baskets and more. 

For dinner, we ventured north into Crescent City to SeaQuake Brewing for a good sample of the local life and an amazing pizza with Humboldt Fog cheese. Road construction along the winding Highway 1 left us stuck at three makeshift red lights for about 10 minutes apiece in both directions.

Our morning drive took us along Highway 1 into Oregon offering one dazzling view of the rocky coast after another, passing oddly named places like Humbug Mountain State Park, and the Dragonfly Farm, Slaughterhouse Lane, Rowdy Creek Road and Pistol River. 

Huge trees are a popular draw at Redwood National Park. —Tarmo Hannula

We sailed through Brookings, Gold Beach, North Bend and Coos Bay before reaching our stop for the night at Reedsport. The coastal drive was easy and traffic sparse.

In the morning we paralleled the Umpqua River along Highway 38 that took us through tranquil farms, green pastures through the bizarrely named town of Drain and over a gentle pass to Highway 5 north. We passed through Eugene and Portland before turning east along the Columbia River toward The Dalles. As we drove along Highway 84 we discovered the Columbia River Scenic Gorge that steered us to The Vista House and—yes—the vistas from there were beautiful, with the Columbia River threading between majestic mountains and lush green plains toward the east.

It was in The Dalles that Sarah found Cousins’ Country Inn for a comfortable night in an entirely new land for us. For dinner we tracked down The Columbia Portage where we relished a New Orleans style meal of fried shrimp, red beans and rice, soup and a Caesar salad. Out the restaurant window we saw the sun go down over the dramatic steel bridge where Highway 97 crosses the Columbia River into Washington.

For breakfast the next morning we found the River Cafe, situated in a former wood church. The warm settling offered a relaxing spot for our meal before we wandered around the neighborhood to get a sample of homes of the area.

The Columbia River stretches east in northern Oregon. —Tarmo Hannula

We returned to the area of the Columbia Portage to get a deeper look at a series of old, wood decomposing homes that locals told us was where Indians had once dwelled. Indeed, there were still dilapidated wood remains of early day fishing platforms, still clinging to the cliffs above the expanses of the Columbia.

We turned our backs on Oregon and entered the third U.S. state of our trip, Washington. We climbed the low rolling hills of Highway 97 a short distance before turning east on Highway 142 with the goal of exploring the tiny town of Bickleton where Sarah’s family lived when she was born in 1949.

In the next part of this adventure we drive deep into Bickleton before working our way to Seattle and then to Vancouver, Canada.

Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.

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