Oregon Vacation: Heading Home

October 25, 2008 at 1:53 pm

On Friday afternoon, we headed out of Portland and began the 1200 mile trip home.

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Unlike the trip to Bend, this drive was going to be on Interstates the whole way. We camped the first night at a quiet campground covered in dry fallen leaves on the banks of the Columbia river in Boardman, Or. We watched the sunset over the wide, calm river, made dinner on the camp stove and then slept soundly in the cool evening.

Dusk on the Columbia River

The next morning we stopped at the Tamatslikt Cultural Institute on the Umatilla Reservation. We were the first ones in that morning, and had the whole, big building to ourselves. I’ve been to a fair number of Native American museums, but I think this was one of the best. Not only did they cover tradition, and the history of the tribes in the region, but they covered recent events as well. Over half of the museum was dedicated to the time after the first waves of white immigrants entered the area. They talked about the confusion of Christian missionaries, the loss of land and eventually their horses, the forced boarding schools, and then the resurgence of the tribes after the 1960s. They had a great area dedicated to the future of the people, social and cultural projects, and the bright economic future of the tribe.

Looking over the Umatilla Res

Later in the afternoon, we had lunch at the Geiser Grand Hotel, once (and possibly still) the finest hotel between Salt Lake and Seattle. It was a focal point for travelers on the Oregon trail and during the western gold rush. It was another, more familiar, view of the same history we had seen earlier in the day. It’s amazing how many different ways there are to tell the same story.

We stayed at a hotel outside of Salt Lake City on Saturday night, and finished the trip home on Sunday. It was another long drive, but full of interesting sites, and a fine way to end a great vacation.