A Travellerspoint blog

On the Road Again…Finally

View Columbia River Gorge on countycollector's travel map.

At last. I am finally getting to write up a new county collecting trip. Normally by the time June rolls around, I’d have been on three or four trips. Not this year. Having been home since October, it was nice to head out on the back roads of America. 2020 was by far the slowest travel year of any in the past decade, and while 2021 will be better, it will still likely see the second fewest county trips since 2011.

One major challenge I hadn’t expected this year is the outrageous price of rental cars. Normally I’d be spending between twenty and fifty dollars a day for a car. Lately finding anything under $100 per day is difficult. Some places I wouldn’t consider major tourist destinations are charging more than $200 a day. Due to the nature of my county collecting travels, there is no way to do it without a vehicle, and because virtually every county I want to visit is more than a full day’s drive from home, flying and renting is about the only viable option. While I’m okay spending a little more, there’s no way I’m dropping $1000 to rent a car for the weekend. I’ll just forgo a few trips until car prices moderate.

For the first trip of the year, I headed to Portland, Oregon. By booking the car early, I was able to find a decent rate, and by using some of the flight credits from canceled trips in 2020, the airfare didn’t add any new cash outlays. Even the hotel prices were still low in mid-May. Not a bad way to start the year. Likewise, I could not have asked for better weather. Late spring in the Northwest can be a mixed bag. Often the sky is dreary, sometimes it rains. In the mountains, there might be occasional snow. Not this particular weekend. Clear skies for two days with temperatures in the mid to upper 70s. Perfect weather for driving and exploring.

From Portland, I headed south through McMinnville, Salem and on down to Eugene before turning back north. I made stops in Corvallis, Albany, and Newport (on the coast) and then headed inland to Bend. I had visited many of these cities back in the late 90s, a decade or more before I began my county collecting project, so I chose not to spend much time exploring. I did enjoy wandering around downtown Bend in the evening after my day of driving was over, and I made a point of stopping in the Bend Public House for dinner and to sample a few of the Deschutes Brewery’s award winning beers.

Sunday morning dawned as beautiful and clear as Saturday as I headed north toward the Columbia River. The view of the mountains of the southern Cascade Range was breathtaking. At one point the road aimed straight at Mt. Hood with excellent views of Mt. Jefferson to the left. A little farther to the left, Mt. Washington and the Three Sisters were plainly visible. Later in the day after I crossed the river into Washington State, I spied Mt. Adams, and off in the distance both Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. I’ve never had much luck taking good photographs of wide open landscapes (with or without mountains). I did get one decent picture of the Columbia River with Mt. Hood in the distance. As for the other mountains, you’ll just have to take my word that they were both impressive and beautiful especially with the early morning sun reflecting off their snowcapped peaks.
In addition to 14 counties in Oregon, I added 2 counties in southern Washington (Klickitat and Skamania) both along the northern bank of the Columbia River. One curious site on the Washington side of the river is a concrete replica of Stonehenge, a memorial to the soldiers from the area who died in WWI. The design imagines what Stonehenge might have looked had the original builders had access to 20th Century technology. It certainly merits a brief stop for anyone exploring the Columbia River Gorge.
From here it was back to Portland crossing back and forth over the river to visit the county seats on either side. Anyone who is familiar with the area might wonder why I didn’t stop to see Multnomah Falls or many of the other waterfalls just off the highway. As I noted earlier, the weather was beautiful and being a Sunday, thousands of others had the idea that driving out of the city to see nature might be a good idea. Between the traffic jams and parking issues, it seemed better to bypass these locations. I’ve been there before and will visit again, so skipping over them this time didn’t concern me.

North Portland had one last curiosity I wanted to see. You may recall my blog post on Northern Minnesota with all the photos of Paul Bunyan statues. Turns out, Minnesota is not alone in honoring the legendary lumberjack from American folklore. In the Kenton neighborhood stands a 31-foot tall statue of the mythical woodsman. While a bit out of the way for the casual visitor to Portland, the area is easily reached on the yellow line of Portland’s MAX light rail.
Over the weekend trip, I visited 16 county seats. Unfortunately one postcard has still not arrived despite being mailed over three weeks ago. Having received one late last week, I considered waiting a few more days to upload this latest post. Instead, I’m treating the missing item as ‘lost in the mail’ (though my fingers are still crossed this straggler will arriving the in the coming days) and will look at making a future trip to Clackamas County Oregon. So, with 15 new documented county seats, the maps of the states I just visited look like this (check out one of my prior entries for details on what the colors represent).
Up next is a trip to Oklahoma and Arkansas in late June. Be sure to check back in early July for a detailed report.

Until then…
Happy Travels

Posted by countycollector 18:52 Archived in USA Tagged oregon washington county_collecting paul_bunyan columbia_river_gorge

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents


Thanks for sharing this latest adventure Brian. So glad you got the perfect weather for this trip! It's not always so delightful and the drives could have been different had it been pouring. The Paul Bunyan statue was a real treat and nice reminder of your past travels. Looking forward to future installations of the blog! Happy travels.

by MsAnnMcD

Thank you for your latest trip report. I will definitely add the Stonehenge replica to my list of things to see. I used to read your entries on the old Insiders site and having done some collecting myself your trip reports are always an enjoyable read, plus I get some good tips from you. I'm really interested to see how you tackle the rest of Alaska, that looks to be quite an adventure! Looking forward to your next report.

by jermitch4

I appreciate the nice comments. It's fun to discover the quirky sights across America and to share a tidbit or two about them. I'm pleased to know a few folks from the old Insiders site have continued to follow my travels here.

by countycollector

I had a bit of catching up to do!
Glad to see you're back in the action and on the road. I really appreciated you sharing the history of your endeavor in the previous 2 posts. When I looked at that first map with Ohio colored blue, it became very apparent why they say Ohio is "The Heart of It All". I envisioned the interstate highways radiating out like arteries.
Thanks for sharing all those wonderful pics! I especially liked your photo of the Columbia River with such great visibility of Mt. Hood et. al. You really have an eye for composition. Gorgeous!

by TuscarawasJones

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.