The Dalles Oregon, Way Out There

I’m going to skip over some of the trip; the next stop, the DALLES OREGON. After Tucson, we hit San Diego, CA (very pretty bay), and drove up the west coast to Gold Beach, OR with several stops along the way. The Dalles Oregon

To summarize California, nice weather, way too many people, traffic around LA horrible, wine country nice but didn’t know there were oil wells there. At one point I woke up from nap in the middle of nowhere at a cheese factory (thanks Jackie, I thought we were lost, but not-so-much). Traffic through San Francisco was horrible, I screwed up trying to get a video as we passed by Oracle Arena (Jackie likes Steph Curry). The redwood forest appeared spectacular, but we couldn’t find bigfoot. (Jackie’s workaholism is still keeping her occupied with her day job. How dare she. Her trip blog posts for the last couple of sites will appear soon, I promise). The Dalles Oregon

As a footnote, in Gold Beach at 3:00 in the afternoon we checked into our hotel, threw on our bathing suits, hit the beach, realized it was only 55-degrees end of July, and immediately hit the hotel again. Quite a shock after 118-degrees in El Paso and 116 in Tucson. After Gold Beach, we drove around Portland, through endless forests, and followed the interstate along the beautiful Columbia River, until we came to the Columbia River Gap and the Dalles, OR. The Dalles Oregon

The drive along the Columbia River on I-84 appeared spectacularly beautiful, with an interesting contrast between the massive mountain range of rocks, boulders and brown dirt and the blue waters of the river. Although, we felt like we were lost in the middle of nowhere. Our GPS, Myrtle, assured us we were, in fact, okay, and I usually trust Myrtle. However, when we reached the Dalles, I looked around and listened for banjo music (remember Deliverance?). It felt like we were really out there. We settled into our Marriott hotel and got a good night’s sleep. It was very quiet. The Dalles Oregon

Next morning, we ate the free breakfast at the Marriott Fairfield Inn and Suites. Then we headed out for downtown the Dalles, with plans to eat a late lunch at the Baldwin Saloon. From there we would walk to the Lewis and Clark Festival Park and the Dalles Pier on the Columbia River. We walked around downtown for a while, looking at the shops. The Dalles Oregon

Based on the terrain and surroundings, I kept expecting either cowboys on horseback or lumberjacks like Paul Bunyan with Babe the blue ox to come lumbering through the scenery. But, the people in town looked perfectly normal. I guess I’ve watched to many movies. Around one-o’clock we took our seats at the Baldwin Saloon. The Dalles Oregon

Jackie had specifically chosen the Baldwin Saloon Restaurant as part of her detailed tour plan. She had two-fold reasoning for this decision. First, the food received high ratings for the area. Second, the establishment has an interesting back story, great American history if you will. The Dalles Oregon

The Baldwin Saloon, originally run by James and Josh Baldwin, started out in 1876 as a tavern serving the men who worked the nearby railroad and river. They eventually sold to a man who called himself “doc”. Dr. Charlie Allen, the new owner, pretended to be a doctor when his previous occupation had actually been to adjust peoples’ glasses. The Dalles Oregon

While “doc” Allen owned the Baldwin Saloon, a brothel also flourished there, ran out of a small building attached to the back of the tavern/restaurant. The Madame of the brothel married Allen, and they ran the place as a joint whorehouse and restaurant for several years. After that, the Baldwin Saloon building served many other purposes over the years. This included a restaurant, steamboat navigational office, warehouse, coffin storage site for a local mortuary and a saddle shop. The Dalles Oregon

Finally, in 1991 Mark and Tracy Linebarger bought the building and restored it to a restaurant and bar, and it remains as such today. The inside of the place looked beautiful, massive shiny oak bar, decorated in an old west décor. The steaks and trimmings tasted top notch, and we had a great time there. The Dalles Oregon

While we enjoyed our meal, Jackie mentioned, “Mom will be excited to find out that you took your daughter to a brothel/bar for lunch. I can’t wait to tell her.” My steak and trimmings turned to indigestion, and I once again negotiated for the purchase of additional cheese to take home. At that point, I was convinced that my luggage would need to be abandoned to the side of the road to accommodate all the extra extorted cheese. The joys of fatherhood. The Dalles Oregon

After the great meal, and daughter-induced indigestion from the Baldwin Saloon, we took the walk under the railroad track through a twenty-million-dollar tunnel (the sign said so) and past the Lewis and Clark Park. We ended up at the Dalles Pier, a large wooden pier extended far out into the Columbia River. The river appeared to be very deep and wide, and the current flowed swift and strong. There were a number of motor boats moored at the dock, and several people fishing from the pier. The Dalles Oregon

It was a beautiful, bright, clear day, but a little warmer than I would have preferred, somewhere in the low nineties. It actually wasn’t all that bad though, considering the 55 degrees the day before in Gold Beach. Although tempted, we decided against swimming. We were deterred by the warning buoys near the pier that said, “Swim at your own risk” and “Enter the water at your own peril” and “You’re gonna die.” Not difficult to believe, standing on that pier and looking out over that raging river; it looked like an angry giant. The Dalles Oregon

We stood on the pier, watched the boats come and go, the people catch fish, and soaked up the warm sunshine. There were a few people around, but as we looked at our surroundings, we saw a gigantic river running through a massive mountain range that went on seemingly forever. The sheer enormity of the place was daunting. The size of this river required an actual Coast Guard cutter to police it, the kind you would normally find in the ocean chasing drug cartels and rescuing capsized boats. The Dalles Oregon

“The Dalles” is apparently French-Canadian for the rapids of a river flowing through a narrow gorge. This river had originally been traversed by Lewis and Clark as they explored their way west. I couldn’t help but feel lost in time and place. I experienced this weird feeling like my daughter and I were completely out of our element, and did not belong in this isolated place, beautiful as it was. It’s almost like I expected a UFO to fly over one of the mountains and carry us away to who knows where. I don’t know what brought on that feeling, but I was relieved when we hit the road the following morning. The Dalles Oregon

Maybe that’s how Lewis and Clark felt when they navigated this gigantic river in the middle of nowhere. I couldn’t imagine paddling along all alone on this massive river in a wooden canoe. Their survival skill must have been quite impressive. The haunting beauty of the place was overwhelming and yet somehow disturbing; that massive mountain range absorbed all sound, even the roar of the raging river. The Dalles Oregon

Maybe I took that old movie Deliverance a little too seriously, although Jackie admitted to a certain uncomfortable feeling as well and she’d never seen the movie. I guess it does things to a person when you’re that isolated. One bright point, I don’t like crowds of people. That was not a problem in The Dalles. I felt like being on the moon, if the moon had a large river running through it. The Dalles Oregon

If you liked this blog, you might enjoy reading our latest novel, MURDER BY ROAD TRIP. The book was inspired by our 30-day cross-country road trip, although I’m thinking Jackie and I would make much better private eye’s than Dr. Jason Longfellow. In MURDER BY ROAD TRIP, with this amateur PI, the murderer is the safest character in the book. You can get the book on Amazon at Barnes & Noble or Indie Books