With a commitment to ourselves to return to Ketchum & Sun Valley, Idaho, we broke camp and set our sights on Farewell Bend State Park, Oregon. Leaving Ketchum, we traveled westward through a National Forest until just outside Idaho’s capitol, Boise. Taking a rest stop, we encountered a local Marine organization that offered free refreshments as a fundraiser for returning Marines. As it turned out, it was a man and wife manning the mobile coffee shop- he was a retired Marine and she had retired from the Navy. Drinking our tea and chatting with them just underscored to us how rewarding our journey has been with our encounters with fellow Americans across the country. From the beginning with the volunteers at the Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL, the Go Texans raising money for education, the many volunteers at the state and national parks to this down to earth couple in Idaho, we have repeatedly met people engaged in making a difference.
Saying our good-byes and taking their good wishes with us, we continued on to Farewell Bend State Park. Upon our arrival at the Park, we found that we had arrived at the very spot the pioneers heading to the West would turn their wagons from traveling along the banks of the Snake River to cross the plain to the Columbia River following the Oregon Trail. Greeting us at the park’s entrance were replica conestoga wagons and a plaque commemorating those early pioneers.
When we finished backing into our site, we heard, “Good job!” shouted out. John acknowledged the fellow camper’s comment and after they were settled into their site, walked over to say hello. It turned out that our neighbors were at the Park for a carp fishing tournament; only, instead of using the traditional fishing poles and tackle, they were using bow and arrows! Also, all the fish from the three day tournament was collected and picked up by a local plant which would then turn it into material for dog and cat food- a creative way to deal with a man made problem of introducing non-native fish.
As we took a bike ride around the park, the other contestants in the tournament displayed their creativity with the variety of campers- one in particular caught our eye. It was entirely made by hand out of wood.
Pulling out of Farewell Bend put us on the road to the Columbia River Gorge. First, however, we were to experience the arid part of Oregon. Sagebrush and miles and miles of dry land. We elected to stay the night on the eastern edge of the Gorge in Maryhill, Washington at the state park there. Shortly after we got the Silver Manatee settled for the night, a steady drizzle started and it rained on and off not only during our stay in Maryhill but during our travels along the Gorge to Vancouver, WA and on to Tacoma, Wa. Serendipity played a role in our decision to stay at Maryhill State Park as it turned out that there was an Art Museum 3 miles from the park! The Maryhill Museum of Art was like a fairytale come to life with its location in a chateau on the Columbia River Gorge. We spent several hours that morning exploring Maryhill Museum’s world-class collection of art ranging from early 20th century European works to an extensive Native American collection. This has to be one of the most fascinating cultural destinations in the Northwest.
As we left the extraordinary Museum behind us, we followed the Scenic route on the Washington side along the Columbia River Gorge all the way to Vancouver, WA to visit our nephew Kevin and his family. Although the pace was slower than if we had traveled on the interstate, it was well worth the extra time. The Gorge was shrouded with mist from the rain and around every bend another amazing mysterious vista came into view. Far below, we could see barges and fishermen traveling the waters of the Columbia. The lushness of the landscape lived up to all we have ever heard or seen in pictures.