Friday, April 18, 2008

Last week's adventure

Monday: the alternator goes out on the van. When paying $600 for repairs, the mechanic urged us to get rid of it. Soon.

Tuesday: we crunch numbers and decide to keep the van for Frank to commute to work but buy a newer, reliable vehicle. Requirements include being able to haul two stand-up basses (see previous blog post) but also have a minimum 30mpg. Big SUV cargo space with subcompact fuel economy. Could we find what we need - and fast?

Wednesday: we bought a 2007 Chevy HHR. It looks just like this one. Love it.

Friday: Rachel has an Orchestra trip to Bend, Oregon. We've never been there before. One of the other parents already had the basses loaded into his minivan, so I took a half dozen violins and followed the school bus all the way to Bend (and at times driving only 35 mph up some of the steeper grades, going over the mountain.)

Ok, stop for a moment and look at the picture of our new car. Looks like a mafia car, doesn't it? And we loaded it up with violin cases. Rachel and I were cracking up all day about that. The other parents didn't seem to get it. Being from the midwest, namely Wisconsin, then living in Minneapolis/St. Paul for over a decade, Al Capone's influence was present my entire life. But maybe his influence didn't stretch all the way out here to Oregon. Anyway, we thought that was pretty darn funny.

So, driving alone, with Ray on the bus, I had to take pictures by myself. I set the camera on the dash and snapped away when something caught my eye. I am so sorry I didn't insist that Frank come with us. When we visit a new town he likes to have me drive and he'll say, "Go down this road. Now go that way. Let's go over there to see what that is..." and he has the binoculars on his lap as I drive. We love to do this, and I regret that he wasn't able to experience all the scenery and be as surprised at the massive contrast between the lush Willamette Valley on the west side of the Cascades compared to the arid high desert on the east side.

I did take a lot of pictures, and here's a slideshow of the highlights. They're out of order, I apologize. I'll try to figure out how to get them in the correct order later. Click pause in the lower left if you want to sto pand read the title and/or comments.



  1. Boy, that trip must have been wonderful. Wish I could hear a recording of the concert.
    Did Rachel see any sights being on the bus? Yackety, yackety, etc.

    That was nice.

  2. Rachel rode home with me and we talked about the scenery. When we got to the forest fire area I pointed out that the underbrush and thinner trees had burned out and these were just the big trees left standing. Mostly dead trees.

    She said, "Ohhhhh. I thought they just lost their leaves for the winter."

    So she had noticed stuff but didn't realize what she was seeing.

    She was impressed with the snowbanks that were taller than the school bus. I couldn't take any pictures at that time on the road (as it was, I had the camera stuck to the steering wheel for most of my driving pictures, so I could keep both hands on the wheel and 1.5 eyes on the road.)

    There is that one picture of the pedestrian crossing sign (er, sorry, I meant "Sasquatch Crossing") where the snow is almost as high as the sign. That snowbank height was pretty steady from 3000 feet (elevation) and up. The mountain pass, however, the highest point for the hwy, while over 4800 feet, was cleared and very sunny, so the snow wasn't as deep there as it was in the shady, forested parts of the road.

    One big whoops I made on the trip - that didn't even occur to me as I packed my lunch and camera - CHAINS. Every 40 miles or so, there'd be a big flashing sign that said "Chains or traction tires required."
    My bad.
    But we didn't run into any trouble. No sheriff was stopping people at a chain-up checkpoint, and nobody was pulled over in the chain-up areas for any reason. The roads were fine and it was a beautiful day for a roadtrip.

  3. I forgot to mention earlier. Look at the picture of the road, river, and mountains in this post. The white haze at the top right corner is not a photography flaw...'s clouds.

    That probably means nothing to a local here in Oregon, but not something a midwesterner sees every day.