Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Day 8: Clarkston WA - Troutdale OR

Today's entry is brought to you by the word "SMOKE".  S-M-O-K-E.  Smoke.

A big burny fiery fire continues to burn on the Oregon side of the Mighty Columbia river, not very far upstream from tonight's caravanserai.  There appear to be MOAR big burny fiery fires further south in Oregon too.  And the ones in Montana are still at it.  Montana was bad enough that firefighters had been drafted in from north of the 49th Parallel, and I think the Army was involved too.  Leastways there were a Several of types in US Army camouflage; they might have been bonkers survivalist types but at least two of them were women.  One of whom addressed me as "Sir" shortly after sticking her battle-hardened thumb through her Styrofoam coffee cup resulting in an unintentional hot beverage dispersal incident and Mr Larrington trying to keep a straight face.

No such levity over breakfast today, only a singing truck driver.  No, really.  This may have been his wagon:

Click pic to embiggen. NB: picture may have been slightly altered in post-production...
Then out into the smoke again.  It didn't look to be quite as bad as yesterday afternoon, in that it was now possible - just - to make out the hills on the other side of the river.  Down US-12 towards the big burny fiery fire to Waitsburg, then off the main road and west to Pasco.  All rolling hills and wheat fields, with the odd apple orchard, hop garden or vineyard thrown in for variety's sake.  The scenic highlight was Alpowa Summit, which is not really up to the standards of Pike's Peak or Independence Pass, As You Will See:
Back over the Snake River and onto I-182 and I-82 for a few miles before turning off at Mabston.  I have had a hankering to visit Washington's Horse Heaven area ever since reading, as an impressionable Tiny, of how the two Fords competing in the 1909 "Ocean to Ocean Automobile Endurance Contest" managed to get lost there.  Anyway, it appears to be a plateau some 800 metres above the level of the Snake and Yakima rivers, approached up some hills reminiscent of bits of the North Riding or the mountainous bit of the Isle of Man TT course.  No horses, but quite a lot of wind turbines lurking in the smoke.
Wind turbines trying, and failing, to blow the smoke away from Horse Heaven
Oh yes, and a bumpkin in a suspension-free farm truck piled high with hay, who signalled left, moved into the left lane and then, just as Mr Larrington was flooring the ASBO's loud pedal, turned right.

The view down to the Mighty Columbia should have been pretty spectacular but wasn't, because the valley is full of smoke.  The Mighty Columbia at this point is wide enough, and smoky enough, that the opposite bank was completely invisible and here is a not-retouched-in-any-way photo to prove it.

Scenery.  Washington.  Wednesday.
I had planned to stick to the Washington side of the river anyway, but the decision was reinforced on learning that The Man had closed I-84, on the Oregon side, between Hood River and Troutdale.  I suspect that on a good day the Interstate offers a better view, so the only solution is to keep coming back until they get the prevailing conditions right.  Bah!

I finally got to cross the Mighty Columbia on I-205 which, like most motorway bridges, affords the driver of the low-slung automobile a fabulous view of the crash barrier.  Onto the still-open bit of I-84 for a few miles and finally to Troutdale-in-the-Smoke.  You'd think that being downwind on the big burny fiery fire it'd be smokeless.  But it isn't.  Heading south tomorrow in search of no smoke.  "Reckon you won't get away from it until you reach California" said a random chap at a "gas" station this afternoon.  Thanks, mate!

Post Scriptum:  Mr Ford, I am not certain as to how your motor-car's audio system derives its album art but, for the record, the lady in the white dress

is not Wilko Johnson.  This:
is Wilko Johnson.  Thank you.

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