I traveled to Ontario OR for Free Museum Day, 9-18-2021. I wanted to explore the Japanese Gardens at the Four Rivers Cultural Center, to add to my Japanese-American Journeys post https://www.travelpacificnw.com/accessible-travel-blog/japanese-american-journeys
Imagine my delight when I found out that the very same day was an hispanic fiesta celebrating Mexican Independence Day! Then when I got to Ontario, I found another bonus: the Tater Tot Festival was that weekend as well! You could start that Saturday at 9am with the Saturday Market at the historic Train Depot park.
I wanted to be sure to get a parking space at the Cultural Center, so I found where it was the night before, then got there early Saturday morning, and actually had time to explore around town a little before parking at 10am when the Four Rivers Cultural Center and Museum opened. I loved that they were showcasing 5 cultures of the valley, beside a little natural history. First I went through the Museum (a few highlights below). See also https://4rcc.com/
Japanese Garden at Four Rivers Cultural Center and Museum, Ontario OR
Gift Shop--Four Rivers Cultural Center and Museum, Ontario OR
With an hour and a half to spare before the Fiesta started at 2pm, I decided to see if I could wheel downtown (perhaps about a half mile) for the Tater Tot Festival. The terrain is flat, major streets have sidewalks with ramps, people driving were very thoughtful and patient as I crossed the roads. See also
Fiesta for Mexican Independence Day--Four Rivers Cultural Center and Museum, Ontario OR
I got back from the Tater Tot Festival downtown just in time for the fiesta at 2pm. By 3 or 4 pm it was rather windy and stormy, starting to sprinkle, and as I was worn out from treking around town, I went back to my room, thinking it was 5pm and all was over. I think I got the time zones mixed up, so I must have missed the dancing, which I would have enjoyed so. But as the weather deteriorated I was so very glad I didn't wait to go see the Tater Tot Festival, which I had intended to do after the fiesta.
Ogawa's Sushi, Burgers, & Bowls, E Idaho Ave & 2nd St (west of I-84, exit 376)
One end of the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway (Hwy 86) takes off I-84 at exit 302, driving up into the hills east of Baker City OR. It soon passes the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, from whence you can get a nice view down into Baker Valley.
East of the Oregon Trail Center the landscape looks about like what it probably did for the pioneers of the Oregon Trail, a lot of sagebrush. Well, ok, there are other signs of human undertakings, like range ranching—it’s important to know that this is Open Range, meaning cattle may be roaming about outside of fenced areas. It bears being watchful.
You start seeing green again as you come to more farmland watered by the Powder River (Lower Powder Valley). Hwy 86 crosses the Powder River at the intersection with Middle Bridge Loop, and not long afterward the two (river and byway) become buddies traveling essentially the same course.
The Powder River is rooted by tributaries in the mountains west of Baker City, which come together to form its trunk at Sumpter and the bulge of Philllips Reservoir. It grows north through Baker City, snaking its way more like a vine than a tree to Haines and North Powder, where it gains strength from the North Powder River and heads south again. It loses strength to irrigation projects as it continues, giving life to what otherwise would be a sage desert.
Parts of the Powder River were essentially stagnant--almost no flow--as I drove along beside it. Temperatures outside my AC'd vehicle were in the mid 90s early September. Years of drought in the west have been rough on ranchers. At least one eastern OR ranching family had to sell off half the herd this year, for half the price per animal--because they could only harvest half the hay. And for the rest they had to buy & haul hay from Idaho, which costed 10s of thousands of dollars.
Note the difference between green irrigated farm/ranchland and sagebrush hills, rangeland not suitable for farming, topographically as well as water wise
The Powder River and Hwy 86 share the canyon leading toward the Snake River. But in Richland’s (Eagle) Valley the Powder River wanders away to the east to join the Snake River already, and Hwy 86 finds a new fellow traveler, Pine Creek, through the canyon east of Halfway, reaching the Snake River where Idaho Power has built Copperfield Campground at Oxbow OR.
When you come into Eagle Valley, Richland, you'll know why it got its name. A unique geography has given the local climate an advantage over surrounding areas. Residents of the place can grow what can't be grown in other nearby valleys.
"Eagle Valley Grange Park in Richland Oregon. This small park hosts a variety of annual events each year including Eagle Valley Days and the Eagle Valley Steak Feed. Facilities include restrooms, community kitchen, covered pavilion and small playground area." https://travelbakercounty.com/venue/eagle-valley-grange-park-richland-oregon/
Beside the motel and RV park in town, just out of town is the Hewitt Memorial Park--camping, RVs, boat launch, showers . . . Brownlee Dam on the Snake River backs up the Powder River as well.
Hells Canyon Scenic Byway to Copperfield, with a side trip up the North Pine River (creek)
I wanted to add to my Snake River post and my Gone Fishin' post: my reason for traveling to Halfway this time. My guides took me in the evening, and we explored a little along the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway (Hwy 86). That included going up the North Pine River a little way, and a bit north of Oxbow to the boat ramp there. There are places of access along both the Oregon side and the Idaho side of the Snake River, but not all are wheelchair friendly, and the roads are not for the timid or long wide loads.
It's worth a reminder that cattle wander the hills of open range through the summer, then at the end of summer the cows come home on their own, down from the hills—some know their way home to their own ranch. Others need sorted by brand.
I bought a one day fishing license online using my phone at https://myodfw.com/ for $32--a good deal if you catch a big one. Check out the successful angler with a fish more than half his size at https://www.travelpacificnw.com/accessible-travel-blog/goin-goin-gone-fishin (scroll down to Snake River at Oxbow OR). My guides brought the gear, bait, gave me instructions, and set me in place for catfishing that night. But Oxbow Dam above was letting out more water than usual, perhaps because of storms upstream, so I paid for the experience and the photo op 😐 But I enjoyed the trip.
Union County Museum, Union OR
Lots of cowboy, western, Victorian life & antiques exhibits--a little about the Oregon Trail--local history etc.
For what amenities Waterfalls along 138 used to have (& we hope will yet), here are a few of many links:
My Sept 2021 Klamath Falls to Springfield Loop:
Dexter State Recreation Site, Hwy 58
Lowell Covered Bridge, Hwy 58
Diamond Peak, Hwy 58
Collier Memorial State Park, Hwy 97
Klamath Falls OR
Hwy 97 south of Klamath Falls
I-5 heading north; deer, deer
Gas at Exit 163
Springfield OR, & further up Hwy 126
Dexter State Recreation Site
Just a bit south of the Springfield exits on I-5 is the exit for Hwy 58, toward Klamath Falls. There are various recreational opportunities along Hwy 58.
Lowell Covered Bridge
Diamond Peak from Hwy 58
Climbing up into the mountains on Hwy 58 the air was more and more smoky, until a point when the air cleared. Three pull-outs gave great views of Diamond Peak. At the third, Lake Odell comes into the picture. Delightful!
Collier Memorial State Park
Hwy 58 meets Hwy 97 like a “y”: Hwy 58 makes a SE diagonal to Hwy 97, that traverses the states of Washington, Oregon, and a bit of California (and even Canada in the north!) in a more or less vertical line along the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains, and part of it is called the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway.
Klamath Falls OR
Driving down from the north late on a summer day, the shimmering waters of Klamath Lake are so enticing, and yet I could see no easy opportunity to pull off the road and capture the sight, to my dismay. It’s a large lake, at the north end of a large valley that extends seamlessly into Northern California. The town itself is historic, it was founded in 1867. It's now a small city of about 22,000.
For a little interesting history and geography, see
Children’s Museum of Klamath Falls 541-885-2995 711 East Main St
$6/person (Wacky Wednesdays $2, 10am to 11am, if you donate beside plus $2: stay til closing
Klamath County Museums & history 541-882-1000
Crater Lake Trolley—445 S. Spring St. (not running during COVID)View of Mt Shasta from Klamath FallsJohn C Fremont & Kit Carson at Upper Klamath Lake
I stayed at the Shilo Inn of Klamath Falls quite comfortably.
I had long before reserved lodging in Roseburg OR for this trip. Of course, though I really enjoyed our previous experience at Best Western, I like to check out different venues. The website of Riverfront Inn looked and sounded great, and was not expensive. In real life it looked quite different, and I was rather disappointed. Let me start with the positive things: the ADA room had 2 queen beds, nice size frig and desk, a private deck. The bath was ok, though no bars by the toilet and I think the tub drain wasn’t that great. The parking lot was difficult, as was the ramp from the parking to the room: steep and not smooth. The outdoor (only) pool was inaccessible. The pretty park on the river in the pictures was across the lower parking, with a steep hill to go down there. You order what you want for breakfast the night before and pick it up in the office. They were going to deliver mine, but I was ready to go before I thought, so got it at check-out to take along with me.
I have watched the station building at exit 163 off I-5 near the intersection with Hwy 38, for probably a year or more--and was curious--so decided to get the gas I needed there. The attendant was very kind and friendly: pumped my gas, washed my windshield, gave me a cold bottle of water. There’s a convenience store at the station, an old motel right there, too. But the gas isn’t cheap.
To complete my loop, I came back to Springfield OR, and this time I did see the Simpsons. It was Saturday, so the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce was closed. Too bad, it’s so intriguing a site (see photos), and Millrace Park (also with intriguing elements) is just across the parking lot. But the Springfield History Museum was only open on Saturdays during COVID, and I am so glad I didn’t miss that, or the chance to talk to the curator. We had a nice chat, and I was so impressed. She gave me some info on where to go that was really helpful (beside brochures). I had found the streets rather confusing (you must know that Main St is a one-way, going west; A St is the parallel one-way going east). During COVID she had overseen extensive improvements in the museum, so I felt it fortunate that we hadn’t gone there before. In 2010 Springfield celebrated 125 years
Springfield (OR) History Museum
I was able to park next to the museum for free, and wheeled around town to see what I could see and take photos. Because there was a University game that day in Eugene, things were pretty quiet. I was inspired by our chat and the beautiful Mexican dress in the Museum, and decided to eat at Memos Mexican Restaurant--great choice! And the young man serving me was willing to adjust for my diabetic needs. I enjoyed the food very much, and the décor as well.
Dorris Ranch is not far, so I went to explore. The Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce is on 2nd St, and if you continue to the end of 2nd St a little over a mile, you’ll head right into Dorris Ranch—well worth it. I was worn out and it was too hot for me to get out, but I was able to see where it is, what’s there (to some extent), and get a few photos.
I returned home via I-5, as usual all enthused about revisiting (after recuperation time), to see and do more. Maybe I'll be able to check out Leaburg Hatchery (90700 Fish Hatchery Rd--abt half an hour east of Springfield, Hwy 126)—to look at the sturgeon, steelhead, trout, salmon. In 2021 they were still cleaning up wildfire damage from 2020. There's also a covered bridge out that way, and further on is Blue Pool--not wheelchair accessible. Another popular place out Hwy 126, not necessarily for folks in wheelchairs, is Blue River Reservoir.
I've been in a wheelchair for 30+ years. It poses some challenges for traveling. Maybe others can benefit from my experiences.