After a relaxing sleep in Pendleton, Oregon, Jon and I got up so we could continue on our way to Boise. Our hotel for the night, the Red Lion, didn’t include breakfast, so we headed downtown to find some quick and easy breakfast before getting on our way again. But quick and easy it was not. First of all, it was about 9:40 am when we got downtown, and we could only find one place open! The coffee shop/cafe didn’t open until 10. What?! So we settled on the only open restaurant we could find – which seemed to have not seen a tourist since last year’s Pendleton Roundup.
We ordered breakfast – the 2 egg breakfast for Jon and a ham and egg bagel breakfast sandwich for me, and then we waited while they hatched the chickens to lay the eggs to collect the eggs to scramble them up. It was the longest short-order cooking I have ever experienced! And no, they weren’t busy. There were a couple other tables in the place that already had their food, and while we were waiting one elderly lady came in to order her daily cup of tea…
After making our way ALL the way through the Pendleton Real Estate listing magazine (I swear – 10 more minutes and I might have made an offer on a second home just out of sheer boredom!), we finally got our breakfast, scarfed it down and got on the road. Our route took us through miles of fairly desolate grazing lands filled with scrub brush and tumbleweeds. Then we headed up into the Blue Mountains.
The Blue Mountains were the last large mountain range that the pioneers had to traverse before reaching their final destinations near what is now Walla Walla, Washington or the Willamette Valley, Oregon. For many pioneers, who had been on the trail for months, reaching the west side of the pass was a welcome sight. I-84 in many places follows the same route as US Route 30 and US Route 30S, which largely were built on the Oregon Trail. The highest point on the highway is 4,193 feet, reminding us that this could be a completely different drive in the winter!
It was neat to see the beautiful mountains approaching in the distance; they really do look blue! I know it has something to do with the atmosphere scattering blue light, but we still enjoyed pondering whether it was the type of trees or grasses on the mountains.
We made a pit-stop in Baker City, Oregon, a town of just under 10,000 residents located in the mountains. It is named for Edward D. Baker, the only U.S. Senator killed in military combat. He died leading a charge of U.S. Army soldiers in the battle of Ball’s Bluff, Virginia, during the Civil War. We only stopped long enough to get gas and some snacks, but I would have loved to have more time there. Baker City has a historic downtown with several historic buildings, many of them built between the late 1880′s and 1915. It is also home to the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, a museum of sorts offering exhibits, living history demonstrations, and four miles of interpretive trails. There are still visible wagon ruts from the Oregon Trail on the site. That will have to wait for another trip though…
We continued on our way and we stopped briefly at the Upper Perry Arch Bridge. The bridge was designed by Conde B. McCullough, the first State Bridge Engineer for the State of Oregon. The bridge was built in 1924, and restored in 2008. It is located off the interstate, on the old U.S. 30, and crosses over the Grande Ronde River and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. This section of U.S. 30 was bypassed in the 1960s when I-84 was constructed, but up until that time it was heavily used. The bridge was constructed from concrete, with a total length of 312 feet and a main span of 134 feet.
It’s pretty amazing to think that this concrete bridge has been standing for 89 years, and even more amazing when you realize that this bridge now leads to a dead end. That’s right, after the bypass, crossing over the bridge takes you to a dead end – transportation experts estimate that 10 cars per day use the bridge. It’s a good thing that they completed the restoration by the time the economy collapsed – I’m not sure the State of Oregon could afford this kind of project now for such a little used bridge. I found this bridge fascinating – we are capable of so many great things that we take for granted.
After a bit more time on the road, through largely agricultural areas, we finally made it to Boise and got checked into our hotel, a Residence Inn. We had a room with a living room, separate bedroom and a kitchenette. They even stock the room with complimentary popcorn (it doesn’t take much to make me happy)! We were hungry, so we decided to get some sushi – considering the hot day we thought that would really hit the spot. We hadn’t done any research, so we looked online and found Sushi Joy near downtown Boise. Jon decided to try some low carb sushi rolls, rolled in cucumber instead of rice; he thought they were delicious (although they did seem a bit difficult to eat with chopsticks). My dragon roll was very good too. The service was fast and friendly too; I would certainly visit again!
We finished off our night watching some TV, something I rarely have much time for at home. I went to bed with anticipation, because the next morning was our visit to Antiques Roadshow!