One has little choice when leaving Seattle except a freeway, and I wanted to try a different route south into Oregon -- one I hadn't taken before. So I headed east out of town on I-90 and up over Snoqalmie pass in a slight mist that was more irritating than wet. However, it isn't called the "Dry Side" of the state for nothing -- it cleared up shortly after the pass and the sun came out. In Cle Elum (the earliest opportunity), I jumped off the freeway onto the old highway along the Yakima River and down through the Yakima Canyon and into the "Palm Springs of Washington". Yes, Palm Springs and Yakima could have been twins separated at birth -- it's true. I've ridden this route many times and it's one of my favorite roads in the state -- and it made up for the late start and the horrid bumpy rutted freeway over the pass.
Just south of Zillah, where I searched in vain again for the Church of God - Zillah (I can't find it -- I know its here!), I turned south on US-95. This is a new road for me -- having never gone this way before. US-95 heads due south out of Yakima and cuts down through the middle of Oregon and drops into California towards Sacramento. It rises up out of the fruit orchards of the river valley and down towards the Columbia River Gorge where I happened across an actual sized replica of Stonehenge sitting on a bluff above the Columbia in the middle of nowhere. You have to love bizarre monuments that some lone eccentric puts in places like this -- in this case to honor WWI soldiers. it's quite lonely and haunting to say the least, and I enjoyed poking around it for a while.
Central Oregon is about as desolate as anywhere in the West. It's a long 150 miles from the river to the town of Bend where I landed for the evening. I passed a few towns -- most of them ghostly to one degree or another, with abandoned store fronts, gas stations and post offices (the top picture in this post is from one -- Grass Valley, OR). It all felt like a set from "The Last Picture Show" or "Come Back to the 5 & 10 Jimmy Dean". I chased a rain storm too through much of this part of the country, crossing the mid point between the equator and the north pole at the 45th parallel somewhere out in the middle of the high plains.