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Published: September 15th 2020
Well. seeing as how we had an extra night to plan for due to our cancellations at Coos Bay and Crater Lake, we decided to continue heading East today on Oregon's Scenic byway called Hell's Canyon. The plan was to traverse the entire 42 mile road and then proceed to LaGande, OR for the night. There is still smoke in the air out here, but is much better than previous days. We were able to enjoy the scenery a whole lot better today. We headed out on Rte 86, and passed through a few small towns. The area is completely covered in huge cattle ranches, with grazing land that stretch as far as the eye can see. The land here goes from rolling hills and prairies to mountainous along the whole route. It is very beautiful, but rugged country. The people who make their living here are rugged individuals as well, but some of the most friendly people we've ever met.
We stopped to fuel up in a little self service gas station in Richland. By self service, I mean there was no building, no people, just a gas pump with a credit card machine on in. Ray spoke to
a local that was gassing up, and got some info on the Hell's Canyon drive, as well as some of the local lore.
Passing through a couple more small towns, we headed up the Canyon road. The smoke became a little thicker. Not like anything we had been in 2 days ago, but enough to keep the views from being crystal clear. The canyon road was something to behold. I was a 2 lane, narrow road running along the Snake River. We were in very mountainous terrain, and the road had constant switchbacks as we climbed and descended. The entire trip was along the East side of the Snake river, with the mountains rising on our right, the .spectacular river and rugged mountains on our left. Words cannot describe the beauty. Ray said he hadn't even seen mountains this spectacular in Switzerland. After driving about 20 miles of so, we came to a dam, called Hell's Canyon dam, and decided to stop and stretch our legs. Ray pulled out the map, and suddenly realized we had taken the wrong road. We had passed the entrance to Hell's Canyon drive and had turned north at a place called Oxbow. The
problem was Oxbow was in Idaho, and we were traveling up the Idaho side of the river, with no way to get back to Oregon without going back the way we came. Of course, by this time Diane was catatonic and John's hands had white knuckles on them. You can imagine their thrill when I gave them the news.
Well, the scenery was just as nice going back, and when we finally got to the Oregon side, we stopped for lunch. By this time, getting to LeGrand was out of the question, so we decided to give Baker City a call, as soon as we got cell service, and see if we could get reservations there for the night. About 20 miles up the road, we finally got cell service, secured our reservations, and then sent John and Diane on their way to the RV park, as we still wanted to see some of the Hell's Canyon drive. We backtracked 10 miles,. and entered the canyon road. We decided to go as far as the Hell's Canyon Overlook, about 20 miles in. The drive up was pretty steep in places with many switchbacks, but all in a forest environment.
There was a lovely stream running along our right, but little scenic views. We finally arrived at the overlook, and I'm sure it must be spectacular on a clear day. It faces East, overlooking the Idaho side of the Snake river, and is very high up. With the smoke, we could see nothing. Oh well, back in the RV for the ride back down. We made pretty good time getting back to Baker City, as Ray had the RV cranked up to warp speed. We got to the campground around 5:30, hooked up the rig and collapsed in a chair with a cold one. Long day of hard driving.
We had our compulsory cocktail hour and enjoyed a nice dinner of leftover American Chop Suey. By the time we finished dinner, it was time to go to bed.
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