To: frog report
From:Zelda Queen of the Night<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Deschutes River
Sunday, July 12, 1998
Deschutes River, Oregon
We didn't get very far on the first day of our return trip. We didn't leave Mick's until almost 11 and then we drove east along the Columbia River Gorge which is rife with scenic stops. We stopped at all the waterfalls and did a little hiking here and there and then of course we had to stop at Bonneville Dam and see the giant sturgeon and feed the salmon at the fish hatchery. I wanted to get as far as LaGrand at least but it was not to be. We stopped here at the Deschutes. I had remembered coming out to the Deschutes to go swimming and picnicking when I lived in Portland but it must have been a different part of the river. This park is at the spot where the Oregon Trail crosses the river. We went up to use the phone and they had a kiosk there with sections from emigrants diaries and so forth, this was a very hard part of the trail as this section of the state is very dry. "A land without soil" one of the emigrants is quoted as calling it. They had not yet gotten to the Promised Land, the Willamette Valley, where Portland is now. This is the section of the trail where they had to throw away a lot of their possessions to lighten the wagons as by this time the oxen were dragging. There was a very pitiful quote from one of the emigrants about her little cookstove which had to be left here, she was awfully fond of it and had to toss it out and leave it behind . We also read that the emigrants generally forded the river and then went to the top of the hill immediately to the west to camp and if we looked carefully in the late evening or early morning, we read, we would be able to see the traces of their wagon track which is still there. Sure enough we went down to the edge of the river as the sun was getting low and you could see the switchback trail the wagons had made as they climbed the hill. We sat with our feet in the water and tried to imagine what it was like back then with no park, no train track or bridges, only the rolling mountains covered with scrub and the wind.
I'm glad we did stop here, Chris has heard about these things, and played that computer game, Oregon Trail, but it's different being here, seeing the wagon track, smelling what they smelled, hearing the seagulls and magpies and having your feet in the same river the conestoga wagons plowed through so many years ago. The trip's done wonders for him in a lot of ways. He's always been rather shy, but I had to admire the way he marched right up to those motorcyclists to ask for the duct tape over on the coast. I never would have done it. Then last night he wanted a fire. We only had a few pieces of firewood left (naturally you aren't allowed to gather any in a state park) but we lit those. Then he wanted to get some more. I really didn't want to spend any money on wood but finally I gave him four dollars and told him if he wanted to walk up to where the "campground host" had his firewood concession and get a bundle he could, so off he trotted. He was gone quite a little while and I started up the hill after him figuring he had gotten himself in trouble somehow or couldn't carry the wood (although they don't generally give you much). He was coming slowly down the hill in the gathering dark, rolling a big bundle of wood in front of him. "I got the wood!" he called out triumphantly to me, "the change is in my shoe!" "Want me to carry that for you sweetie?" I asked him. "No, you go back to the campsite and I'll bring it" he told me firmly so I went back and waited for him to bring me the wood.