Part 12: Richland, WA to Bend, OR


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The Trip

After several great nights in Richland with Mike and Rachel, we headed out toward Bend, OR.  We got "close" to our objective when we learned that our next host was unavailable for 2 days due to family obligations, so we decided to mark time along the Columbia River in the Columbia River Gorge.  This is a scenic river canyon with sustained high winds (40 mph) due to the temperature differential between one end of the canyon (cold Pacific Ocean) and the other (hot desert in the Tri-Cities area to which Richland belongs).

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

The Columbia River is huge with strong flows.  It is a big river capable of supporting shipping of various types as well as private water sports like fishing and boating.  The interstate highway follows the southern bank of the Columbia River.

Soon we encountered the John Day dam and lock complex.

The John Day dam was designed by the Army Corps of Engineers and is operated by the same entity.  In the photo above, left to right, you can see the lock structure, the salmon ladder (inclined), spillway and powerhouse.  Note the windmills on the far ridge.  The strong, sustained winds were perfect for an industrial scale wind farm.  As a plus, the power distribution system was pre-existing and capable of handling the extra current.

We spotted this expedition camper on the banks of the Columbia and discussed going down and meeting them, but decided that we would be better served meeting with out next host.  We turned south toward Bend when Kathleen stated that she had just gotten a text from our next host stated he would be unavailable for the next two days.  So, armed with 2 days to burn and the camper people in our mind, we did a U-turn and headed back to the gorge to meet them.

We parked Thor close to their rig and dismounted to go meet them.

This couple were Dutch, but were Austrailian citizens on world tour.  Their truck was also a Mercedes with a similar cab style.

The living quarters were his own design, but I never got the full story on that.  They have been living in the truck for 10 years or so, but return to Australia every year for visa reasons.

When we encountered them, they had just come up from Mexico and South America.

The truck has factory hydraulics and has a winch both front and rear.  "Only used for others benefit" the owner stated when asked if he ever had to self-extract.

A tire handler very similar to Thors, but rear mounted.

We had a very nice cocktail hour with them then parked a respectable distance away for mutual privacy.  We spent two hot nights on the banks of the Columbia in 40+ mph winds.  We were happy when it was time to move on.

We spotted this tug and barge headed for the locks.  Note the gate is up.

Later we spotted another tug-barge combination coming down river through the locks.

A long exposure photo revealed that the lights on the dam were red, white and blue.

On our departure day, the sun was bright and the wind was strong.  The windmills on the opposite side of the gorge were working hard in the stiff breeze.  Note the scree slopes on the far cliffs created by weathering of the Columbia River basalt flow layers.  Some of the layers were harder than others resulting in the layer cake appearance.

We headed south toward Bend, OR and got some nice views of Mt. Hood from the highway.

Later, multiple volcanic cones were visible.

We arrived at the Palmer Ranch and Ben had us park in front of his shop.

 Ben's collection of inventory, both personal and for his business, had increased significantly since our last visit.  This Jeep is a diesel.

Ben's firm is called the "406 Garage" referring to the area code where the company was founded as opposed to the 406 Unimog he once owned.

Ben recently acquired this very rare International diesel car transporter.

The clear, hot weather provided a great view of the peaks of the nearby Cascade Mountains.

Lucy, a new ranch hand acquired since our last visit.  Lucy is a border collie and is both smart and personable; a very nice dog.

Kathleen is checking out Ben's new custom Peterbuilt hauler.  This truck got the full treatment including air suspension, new sleeper, new paint, tranny rebuild, engine rebuild and a frame extension.

Pete is quite low to the deck, just over the height of a beer can, so caution is needed when handling swailes

This motor was fully serviced during the rebuild cycle and did not have that many miles on it to start with.  Very clean.

Ben specified that the original axle ratio (too low) in Pete be change to something "taller".  The entire rear frame assembly was substituted when the frame was lengthened.  Leaf spring assemblies were removed and an air suspension was added.

Ben and Bill.

Next up: South to Grants Pass, OR then along US-101 to Petaluma, CA.

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