Monday, April 08, 2013

US Hwy 20: Eastern Oregon, Into Idaho

I had some real concerns about getting out of Burns, OR, early this morning. It was cold, around freezing, with wind chill down into the teens. The bigger problem was the wind, steadily 25-30 mph out of the north, with gusts in the 40-50 range. That's not your favorite when you're towing a trailer, especially when the wind is directly abeam your heading. Nothing can put you in the ditch faster than strong gusting cross-winds on narrow roads.

I pondered this predicament while having strong, hot coffee and giving Happy her lengthy morning walk. US Hwy 20 ran directly beside our campground, and I was encouraged to see a number of huge, high profile campers rolling down the road at good speed. I decided that if they could drive in these conditions with those behemoths, I would probably be okay with my short, low-profile rig.

So, I packed up and hit the road, starting out at a modest, manageable speed. The handling was remarkably good, and I was able to settle into a steady, productive pace. The scenery was very nice -- this photo is between "Drinkwater Pass" and "Stinkwater Pass" -- and I only wish I could have caught on film one of the many tumbleweeds whipping across the roadway.

As you can see, Happy was completely unfazed by the driving conditions. She settled in the moment we started rolling and didn't pick her head up except when we stopped for coffee.

I'm convinced that the shotgun seat is her very favorite place in the world, followed in order by underneath the back of my camper and on my bed. I'm struck by how a dog who ran a thousand miles in ten days can sleep a hundred hours in a week. Retired life seems to suit our little Happy dog very well!

Near the border with Idaho, US Hwy 20 is joined by US Hwy 26, which has been paralleling our route from the coast. Just over the border, US Hwy 30 joins the party, and they are all subsumed in I-84.

This is one of many "pinch points" (my term) of US routes where, for example:

1) There is no earthly reason to maintain separate roadways (as here in the Idaho desert west of Boise) or

2) When geography forces routes to shift their course (as in Chicago where Lake Michigan gets in the way).

Since I drove this piece of road just last year during my US Hwy 30 coast-to-coast expedition, I was happy enough to be on the interstate and motor down to Mountain Home, ID. I'm going to stay here tomorrow, not because there appears to be anything to do, but to give the wind and weather a chance to calm down (as promised by the weather service)… Stay tuned!

Click here to see exactly where I am posting this from on Google Maps.

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