Wednesday, September 22, 2010 sunny and 68 degrees
Armed with a bundle of information from the Chamber of Commerce, we headed toward the Columbia River where The Dalles is situated. The riverfront is immaculate, and a paved trail follows along its banks. We walked to the Rock Fort where Lewis and Clark stayed briefly before heading eastward. Several interpretive panels explained that for hundreds of years The Dallas was the center of trade for the Indian Tribes of the Northwest. But it also was an obstacle to transportation up and down the river because of the large series of rapids in this portion of the river. Now that the river has been tamed by numerous dams, it's difficult to appreciate the threat the rapids posed to those who attempted to negotiate them: the Indians, the Corps of Discovery and, later, travelers on the Oregon Trail.
Next we went to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum. The Discovery Center contains displays of the gorge's prehistoric geology, its ecology, native peoples, and the impact of western influence via fur trappers and traders, and the Oregon Trail. The Historical Museum portrays the people and the industry that have affected change and growth in The Dalles. Transition areas between the two depict the cargo Lewis and Clark brought with them on the expedition: clothing, food items, weapons and ammunition, medicines, scientific equipment, items for trade with the Indians, etc. Finally, the National Geographic film, "Lewis and Clark: Great Journey West" reenacted the entire expedition from beginning to end.
We read that The Dalles is "the meeting of the Columbia Plateau and Pacific Ocean, and of the arid steppe and wet western forest." Yesterday we had a hint of the accuracy of this definition, and today, as we headed further east, we saw it in full. Yesterday we drove through dense forests with clinging mosses, a multitude of ferns, and numerous waterfalls. Today the green gave way to folded hillsides covered with short grasses and sagebrush. Then those hillsides stretched out into undulating prairies where irrigation is needed to grow corn, wheat, vineyards, orchards, and hay fields. Here wind generators line the ridges of the hills by the hundreds, first on the Washington side of the river, and then on the Oregon side, too. Because of the vastness and barrenness of the prairie, somehow their presence doesn't seem as offensive as it does at home where their intrusiveness mars the landscape.
We arrived in Pendleton midafternoon. This is the home of the Pendleton brand of clothing. We were too late to take a tour of the mill, but we browsed through the outlet store. We are also too late to see any of the rodeos that are held here, but according to a local, that may be a good thing. Apparently a rowdy time is had by all. We also tried to make reservations with Pendleton Underground Tours for tomorrow, but we found out that we arrived after office hours. Since this is the reason we stopped here, we're hoping that because we left a message, we will be able to walk in and join a tour.
TODAY'S ROUTE: I 84E, Exit 87 to Exit 210