Along The Oregon Trail

We flew into Boise and had a great couple of days there – and happened to run into the “Twilight Criterium” bicycle race while looking for a place for dinner …

The park right near the State Capitol Building had the greatest “Mid Summers Night” feel …

You can see the people at the parking garage watching the race, while others grabbed a beer at the Deschutes Beer Wagon – one of many micro brew vendors in the park. Next stop – Baker City, Oregon

The Geiser Hotel, Baker City, Oregon

My favorite state is Oregon. While Colorado rules the roost with its majestic mountains in the Western part of that state, the people, the use of land and the cafe, brewpub culture, cycling culture and locally grown food in Oregon top my list. We have been to every corner of the state – except the northeast corner – so that was our quest this time . . .

Don’t get me wrong – California – especially the SF Bay Area is the absolute tops when you are working (I’m in IT – so my Computer Science degree has provided a great career here – probably as good or better than any place else on earth), and San Francisco and the people in the SF Bay Area have been fun to work and play with – but its grown tremendously since my family moved here in 1979, and when I retire, I don’t want all of the throng of people, the traffic and just the intensity of it all.

The Blue Mountains, The Valley and Baker City, Oregon

Baker City is along the Oregon Trail, and the pioneers would tackle the nearby Blue Mountains before ending up at the Columbia River and then making their last push to Portland (it was actually nearby Oregon City). There is a world class brewery called “Barley Browns” in Baker City, and it is only a couple of blocks from the Geiser Hotel. Their “Pallet Jack and double IPA version of that beer are two of the best IPA’s I have had. The Lone Pine Cafe was a wonderful place for breakfast or lunch.

Covered Wagon at the Baker City Oregon Trail Interpretive Center

I watched a wonderful documentary on the push westward from Independence Missouri to Oregon City along the Oregon Trail. Growing up in NJ – I learned about the 13 original colonies, but western history was never covered in any detail. The Oregon Trail is of interest, because there were Holoch’s who ended up in the Portland area- in fact a cluster of them, and I am sure I am somehow connected – and it would have been in and around Missouri or perhaps Nebraska – via Milwaukee. I have yet to connect my part of the tree with this branch – but I am sure we are related because the Holoch name is very small and tribal in Germany.

Church in John Day, Oregon

After Baker City, we drove to the tiny town of John Day, which is part of a network of three very interesting National Parks – we had already been to the Painted Hills – on a trip from Bend, our favorite town in the whole world – but this time we visited the John Day fossil beds – which contain world renowned fossils

The scene along the roads near the John Day Fossil beds and National Park

The rolling hills and wheat fields near Pendleton, Oregon

Pendleton was a great little town – where you could tell that it had its glory years ago – they have a world class woolen mill and a famous rodeo. They also have a big flour mill and other industries connected to other parts of the world by rail, road and the Columbia River. There were very nice old houses on the hills above town. A superb brewpub is “Prodigal Son” – who had the best corned beef and double IPA on the trip – this is  must when you are in Pendleton.

Pendleton Rodeo

There was a big wheat field fire near The Dalles, Oregon, and smoke was blowing in and around Pendleton, Enterprise, Joseph and Hells Canyon – some even made it all the way back down to Baker City.

Wheat Field near La Grande, Oregon

We stopped in La Grande on our way to Enterprise. La Grande is a great little town that has Eastern Oregon University – and were I thought “this would be a great place to semi retire to and teach Computer Science courses, and then finally fully retire some day”.

Next up were the small but beautiful towns of Enterprise and Joseph – they felt like we were in Switzerland

Barn near Enterprise and Joseph, Oregon

After Enterprise and Joseph, we drove through Hells Canyon, and then back to Baker City. The next day we drove back to Idaho crossing the Snake River at Oxbow Dam and ended up in what we thought was like a small South Lake Tahoe – McCall, Idaho. It was so crowded due to its summer time popularity that we were happy to get up and get out early the next day. McCall is probably a lot nicer in the Fall – but Summer and possibly Winter (there is a ski resort nearby) – so high season gets too crowded for our taste.

On the way back down on highway 55 – we drove along the awesome Payette River. WOW – the rafting and rapids were quite amazing.

We ended up back in Boise, and took a late afternoon flight home – mission accomplished – and now we can say we have traveled pretty much the entire state of Oregon. We also love Boise – the downtown is very comfy with its walk and bike-friendly lanes and great restaurants and brew pubs. Boise State University is a great school – and the neighborhoods right down town are very nice. Boise is experiencing a California style boom town – I’m guessing along what had happened in and around Sacramento. In fact, there are some similarities to Sacramento and also Reno with Boise.

(Thanks to my wonderful wife Kat for planning this trip – it was awesome!)


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