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Before we would actually reach the Columbia River, we stopped at exit 228, Deadman Pass, to stretch our legs again and take in the incredibly green surroundings. This rest stop is nestled on the outskirts of the Umatilla National Forest, surrounded by giant cedars and ferns. Oregon is several shades greener and far lusher than Colorado. They are truly on par with each other, though, when it comes to beauty.

In only a short amount of time, we would find ourselves cruising with the river out to our right, a tremendous body of water glistening from the sun that had just begun to set. Our last rest stop before Portland was in Boardman exit 165. There, you can take in the river from a scenic view point (and re-apply sunscreen if you are a vampire like both of us; that sun was baking me on the passenger side). We hoped we would be arriving earlier in the day, but as luck would have it, sunset was the best time to drive this stretch of highway. Just look at how the sun lit the scenery perfectly!

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The John Day dam

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There were train tracks running across and beside the river. I would love to see the views the conductors have; I wonder if passenger lines ever take these rails.

When Beatrice (our GPS) suggested we jump over onto the Washington side of the river to speed up our time, we ended up on a winding cliff side drive that was both beautiful and exhilarating. Zipping around cliff sides with the river to your left, and faster speed limits than you maybe thought wise — amazing!

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Lots of steep grade increases and decreases along the Washington side. At times, we kept the car in low gear like in Colorado. We were both dragging by this point, honestly, so it helped that this stretch was exciting! We eventually crossed a bridge and were back on the Oregon side of the river.

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There’s Mount Hood off in the distance, looking snowy and regal. The texture of this bridge was odd, so there was a brief moment where Chris turned to me and said, “Wait… is this thing a conveyor belt? Oh, wait, never mind.” He quickly realized that 1. Conveyor belts don’t have speed limits, and 2. He had been driving nearly 26 hours in the span of two days and really needed to go to bed. So, no, Oregon has not invented amazing conveyor belt bridges. But just give them time; I’m sure they’ll have these someday.

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Just as we were leaving the river, we caught the sunset, which left us oohing and aahing. The forest lined the roads and extended throughout the city. Our first chance to navigate Portland was done in the dark, but we made it safely to our place without too much trouble.

Our Airbnb rental was located in the Hayhurst area, tucked into a neighborhood spilling over with gardens full of ivy, flowers, and ferns. So late in the evening, it was easy to miss our turns, as these gardens nearly hid entrances to streets! We arrived at our sweet little garden cottage around 9:30. Inside, sitting on the table to greet us, was a vase of fresh flowers from the owner’s garden. After unloading the car and piling everything inside the front door, we crashed for the night.

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