Northwest by Ex-MOD
My ex-MOD completed the final leg of its journey from Galveston to Seattle last week. After picking up the truck in Texas and driving it to Colorado, I drove it on the Utah Rovers trip but didn't drive it back to Colorado. Instead, I left it at Ben's place until I could finish the journey several weeks later.
I picked the truck up in Salt Lake on a warm Friday afternoon in early June. It was still loaded up with all of my gear so all it needed was a quick trip through the car wash and a grocery run and then I was off. I headed out into the desert west of town, where I met up with my old friend, Michael Slade. The plan was for him to accompany me around the western side of the Great Salt Lake before splitting up as I continued west. I was hoping that Slade would bring his 145" monster crew cab truck but it was in need of freeze plugs and not going anywhere soon. Instead, he brought his old RRC. In true Slade fashion, he was fearless and not overly concerned that his truck was throwing a code and running on busted shocks and crappy department store tires. No ham radio, either. Not even after this.
After meeting up alongside I-80, we left the highway for the far northwestern corner of the lake. The Union Pacific operates a railroad causeway across the lake. Post 9/11, most of the causeway is off-limits but Slade is a encyclopedia of Northern Utah knowledge and he took me to a spot where we could drive along the UP access road.
We had a feast that night and Slade threw down. He brought t-bone steaks from his family's farm near Logan, UT. The meat came from a cow that his family raised; Slade personally observed the slaughtering and butchering. It was grass-fed and finished on grain and the beef was some of the best I've ever eaten. Sadly, it was dark by mealtime and I didn't get any photos of the spread.
The next morning, we patched a hole in one of his crappy tires with the Safety Seal kit and said our goodbyes.
Soon after leaving the highway, I rolled through a farming town beside a small river. A few blocks off the hardball, behind a little country airport, I discovered a little slice of heaven:
This little swimming hole lies beneath a one-lane wooden bridge. I probably wouldn't have stopped but the bridge was blocked by clothes and an ice chest belonging to the locals who were swimming underneath. It was really hot in the cab of the 110 so I decided to stop and take a dip.
Afterwards, I continued on a seldom-used double-track through farm country and up into some really beautiful mountains.
I was wandering now, with only a vague sense of where I was going. I happened upon a dirt road which started in alpine terrain at 7,000' and ended up at an almost-tropical 2,000' alongside the Snake River. It reminded me of the road from Creel to Batopilas in Chihuahua, if you've ever driven that: twisty, steep, and narrow, with insane exposure at every turn. I'm guessing that some corners had 2,000' drops off the edge...not that it mattered...if you drove off any part of this road, you were totally fucked.
After an hour of white knuckle driving, I stopped for the night at a campground alongside the river. I was exhausted, so I watched the sun set and ate a cup of chapagetti out on a floating dock in the river before crashing out in the back of the 110.
Early the next morning, I crossed into Oregon.
Like Idaho, the mountains of Eastern Oregon are beautiful. I stopped for lunch and some trail coffee on a dirt road alongside a mountain stream.
Another farming town, another swimming hole.
The mountains gave way to the rolling farmlands of the Columbia River Valley.
Seattle, at last.
Thanks to Steve and Zachary for the sweet tour and Mike, for the dim sum dinner.
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