Oh, Oregon!

We spent five nights in the state of Oregon before continuing north into Washington. I’ve got lots to share about Washington but want to report what we did in Oregon before getting too far ahead of myself.

We came in from the east after visiting Boise, Idaho. The most memorable thing about our first time in this state was the brutal wind. Our one night in La Grande was the windiest night of all our travels. We were shaking so much in the RV that I felt a little motion sick in the morning. I headed out early to check to see if the nearby horses had made it through the rough night. They seemed fine and enjoyed some breakfast carrots.

Feeding horses at our RV park

In La Grande, Oregon is a destination called Hot Lake Springs. To call this place just a spa is a big understatement. They do have hot springs and you can soak in the hot mineral water but, be warned, it smells of sulphur (rotten eggs). We decided to try and ignore the smell and soak in the mineral water but it was not the highlight of the place or our visit.

Finn getting ready for a soak in the hot mineral spring water

The place itself is the real surprise. It’s as close as you can come to being in a Wes Anderson movie in real life. Of course, that’s a compliment because I love the eccentric, highly-styled worlds of his films. Hot Lake Springs has that at every turn. There are many guest rooms and each one is uniquely saturated with quirky character.

The facility was originally built in 1908 but was closed and abandoned for years until a family bought it, restored it and made it their home. The head of the family is David Manuel, a bronze sculptor who keeps his studio on the grounds. Also on the grounds, which you can wander freely, there are spa machines from the 1960’s, peacocks guarding doors, owls nesting in the attic, odd murals and old photos from bygone years. It’s a curious place that I highly recommend for anyone seeking the offbeat and unique.

A room in Hot Lake Springs

peacocks right at home

The next night we stopped in the town of Boardman where I finally did some biking and we had dinner on the campfire after a long time staying in burn-ban areas. In the morning we drove about three more hours and headed into Portland. Neither of us had ever been there and we were really excited to finally visit.

Finn in Portland figuring out our next destination

We spent our first evening in town exploring and stopping in a few shops. Then we caught up with an old friend of mine who has been living in the city for years and picked his brain about Portland life.

Creative treats at Voodoo Doughnut

Everywhere you look, rainbows in Portland

We had to adjust to the rain situation and by that I mean that it never really stopped. The longest run I clocked was 18 hours straight of light rain before a brief break and then more rain. My impulse is to wait out the rain but then you’d be inside forever and never do anything. I don’t think anyone really likes being rained on but the folks in Portland don’t seem to mind. The upside? Lots of rainbows.

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One Response to Oh, Oregon!

  1. You hit a few highlights of Portland, I can see from the doughnut photo!

    My semi-boyfriend lived for a few years in Portland while going to art school, so I got to know it well. I hope to visit it again soon, even though he’s now in ABQ. I want to meditate up in the Japanese garden on the hill again, for one thing.

    If you head south from Washington, check out the many, many state parks in OR along the Pacific shore. I’ve camped in many of them, one of my favorites being Humbug Mountain State Park just south of Port Orford. I also love the stretch along the coast just north of the California border.

    What made me think to comment, though, was remembering that windy eastern desert Oregon really is. People don’t realize that fully half of the state is high desert, and the northernmost region of the Basin & Range which runs down into Nevada and Utah.

    The Basin & Range is defined geologically by all those north-south-running mountain ranges as in Nevada, with deep basin valleys in between. What’s unique is that none of the water that falls on the region flows back to the ocean, as there are no rivers that flow out of the region. The water flows down the mountains and makes temporary lakes in the basins, which then evaporate. That’s why there are so many alkali lakes and dry lakes in the region, including the Great Salt Lake in UT. Eastern Oregon is the northernmost part of the region.

    And when you drove west from Boise, you passed right by Durkee, OR. Yup, a distant relative. 🙂

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