Although for the most part I am a fairly plain person, perhaps even almost boring in the regularity of my patterns, at times I do things that are unexpected and am willing to engage in travels without a great deal of lead time for planning and preparation even if it is a bit stressful. After finding out earlier this week that I would be able to use one of my days off from work on Friday, I found myself working on plans for yet another trip in exploring Oregon , this time going to Eastern Oregon to see Hell’s Canyon, something my mother particularly wanted to see while she was here. Never having visited Eastern Oregon, I was game for some exploration, even if the logistics were a bit challenging. Of course, upon being told that they would have visitors in the remote area of La Grande I was told that I had a sermonette to give, so there was that planning as well. So it was that I found myself fighting through traffic after work only to immediately begin another drive, trying to work out in my head what we could see with the little amount of daylight that was left, and fussing even more than usual over the wasted time from slow people.
So it was that when I arrived at home and expected to leave right away that I was delayed for about twenty minutes or so not only by putting items in the car, which found themselves packed in rather tightly, but also by the need for at least one member of our party to hunt around for things that had been forgotten. I suppose some people are very much driven to leave at certain times and others are more concerned about the process, and more concerned about enjoying themselves. Being a somewhat overscheduled myself, I find that it is easy to lose enjoyment in the moment or in the journey because one is concerned with the time that is being lost or wasted. Such a mindset can easily lead to a lack of fun in life and a difficulty in simply enjoying life, and I can certainly understand how it might be less than enjoyable to travel when one is trying to do a lot in a little time, where one feels under the gun, which is not conducive to enjoying oneself as much as would be the case otherwise.
When we finally left the traffic was sparse, as we were traveling through the remote countryside of rural Clackamas County before going through Troutdale. Once in Troutdale, we took the Historic Columbia Highway to see portions of the trail we had not seen before between that town and Corbett, where we had gotten on the interstate in our previous trip along this lovely but not particularly speedy road, and we were able to make it to Multnomah Falls as the sun was setting and hike up to the bridge at least, to view the falls from a closer angle, which was an enjoyable experience and not that was not crowded, because it was a Thursday night and most people were not in their full touristy mood at that particular time, unlike the previous time we had driven by the falls where it was crowded and where parking was a nightmare. At times traveling outside of the usual schedule can allow for a more relaxed pace, and I agree that I did not feel rushed or crowded this particular time, given that there was no one fighting for a spot or pushing for a hike. Being someone who likes my space, it was a pleasing moment.
After that we pushed on to Biggs, which is where we had planned to spend Thursday night at the Three Rivers Inn and eat at one of the local restaurants for dinner. By this time it was rapidly growing dark and there was a lightning show in the sky, and sometimes a bit too near for comfort, and it was about 10:00PM by the time that we arrived in Biggs after the trip, much of it spent driving my little Kia Spectra chariot furiously. When we arrived at Biggs at the hotel, the person at the front desk did not seem particularly motivated to work or particularly competent at his work, and we wandered about looking for food. What we found was not particularly encouraging. It had not been since my times in Jekyll Island that I had found less to eat at 10:00PM. They say that an army marches on its stomach, and this particular army which had not eaten dinner because there had been nothing along the way that interested the party ended up eating at a McDonald’s because it was the only 24 hour place in town. From what I could see, this was a common sentiment, and they were not on their A game either, putting mayo on a chicken sandwich when they were told lettuce only and running out of sweet tea.
Nevertheless, after we ate, however belatedly, and returned to our room, it was time to prepare for bed. Most of the people in our party had little problem going to sleep, and even those of us that had ambitions to do a bit of writing fell asleep with the lights and computer on because the trip was so exhausting. That said, being several hours closer to one’s destination in the morning for some traveling and sightseeing, and the possibility of having a relaxing Sabbath in an area where one has never traveled is a good thing, even when the food is subpar and even when the trip is somewhat grueling itself. Let us make no mistake about the importance of logistics–travel experiences can be the cause of many funny stories and inside jokes over time, and there is something about travels in more remote areas that provokes a sort of humorous reflection on life that our more mundane experience does not, largely because when we take ourselves out of familiar areas we find insights, if we choose to look, simply by seeing how we deal with the unfamiliar and the irritating.
 See, for example: