From the Blog

Oregon Style Honeymoon: The Drive Home

By nearly all measures, our honeymoon was too short. It was nice to feel far away, away, away for however short a time. Driving long distances actually makes you comprehend how far you are from home. But we could have gone unplugged for a few more days. Maybe even a week. It may or may not be in our future, but it made me happy to hear Dave’s pronouncement “I could live in a cabin.”

We said goodbye to the cabin and got some fantastic breakfast and crappy coffee in Joseph. Then we hit the road.

The rain had departed, and the clouds were clearing up. Just as we were leaving, of course.

I love wide open spaces. I don’t think I could be a rancher or a farmer. But the land makes my lungs feel bigger, and my brain feel wider. You can stretch a bit in a place like this.

We took our time finding our way to I-84. Instead of hopping on at La Grande, we took the more northern route 204, through what I believe were part of the Blue Mountains. It was hilly and forresty. Then we turned onto route 11. And the flatness began.

Ah. This was the flat agriculture I imagined Oregon’s interior to look like. Maybe this was even flatter than I expected.

I can imagine how layers and layers of lava fanned out and this built up. There were low, sloping hills and rolling, slow gradients. The clouds melted to the periphery and the land was dry and dusty. The majority of the crop we saw was bright yellow hay, all clipped close to the ground like a giant buzz cut. The road carried more big working trucks and long haul trailers. It felt desolate, industrial and impersonal.

We stopped in Pendleton and shopped for blankets. And sadly, Dave was not willing to stand there all day while I was unable to make a decision. I couldn’t figure out if I wanted a subdued, versatile blanket, or if I wanted a brightly colored cowboy/Native American blanket. I really do want a rustic cabin sleek urban apartment. I’m going to make it work. I will do it.

And also, you learn something new every day. After gassing up in Pendleton and passing countless “Let’er Buck” signs, we drove by what looked like a power plant in Umatilla. It had big smoke stacks and looked like a facility that burned something. Yet there were no electrical wires going in and out. So I asked Dave and he said, “Oh, we’re in Umatilla, that’s probably where they burn up the army’s chemical weapons.” WHAT? I’ve never heard of this. He pointed out rows and rows of little dirt mounds surrounding the plant. “That’s probably where they store it. I heard they’re leaking everywhere.” Holy crap. I’ve never heard anything about the army storing and burning shit up out there. But sure enough. There were evacuation signs on the freeway. Freaky shit. You know they have to be doing it somewhere. I just didn’t realize it was in Oregon. Chemical weapons stockpiles.

I asked about the watermelons from Hermiston, not far away, and the leaky chemicals and nerve gas and blister agents. Dave said the watermelons are upwind, so they’re cool. Hmmm…spicy watermelon.

Not far along after that, we turned a corner, and there was suddenly a really big river by the side of the road.

Here you can see how The Gorge started, as the Columbia cut through layers of basalt lava. The river is really big. Even out there. It’s a lot of water. We wondered at trying to follow the river to its headwaters and how far it would take us. We may buy a covered wagon and try it.

We drove and drove and drove. It went by fast.

Dave liked the windmills and got awfully artsy about it.

This began to look familiar. Just east of The Dalles. After all our leisurely driving across the state, blasting back on the freeway didn’t seem to take long at all. I mean, you can drive really fast. The drive on the interstate almost made Eastern Oregon seem like and easy day trip. But really, it’s not.

For our entire trip, I drove and Dave passengered 1108 miles together.

We still like each other.

Hendrick Hudson and Agatha Sumpter.


  1. Man, our new camera kicks our old camera’s ass!

  2. Looks like you guys had fun!

  3. I wish you guys had had more time! I love your writing, Heather, and the photos are gorgeous! Give Hendrick Hudson and Agatha Sumpter my love, and tell them how lucky they are to be in such a good home! Maybe we’ll catch up with you guys at the Polish Fest? I hope so!

  4. Aimee Wynhausen says

    What a fun trip. And I am so glad that you both still like each other. That seems to help :)

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