|Saturday, June 2, 1990...
Again, slept a little late this morning -- had breakfast at Denny's and began the day's drive at about 8:45. Nice slice-of-life moment to start the day: as I was walking up to pay my bill, a local girl entered the restaurant dressed in her "good" skirt and blouse. From the way she was greeted, one of the waitresses had gone to school with her. Turned out the girl was there for an interview; as I left, she took a seat near the front counter, hands crossed in her lap and making nervous, hesitant movements. Hard to imagine the chance to work at a Denny's could instill this sort of fear.
US 20 soon crossed the Snake River into Oregon, and spent the next two or three hours crossing the eastern Oregon desert. The road was virtually empty; at one point I aired out the car, chasing down a driver ahead of me by driving 95 MPH for about five minutes. There were no real stops until about 1:30 in the afternoon, when I reached the High Desert Museum south of Bend. This museum, off in the middle of nowhere, is a real gem: eight very good full-size dioramas about old-time life in the High Desert, a gallery of art work and photos, and an extensive outdoor walking tour.
After this, I continued up US 97, past the US 20 intersection and around a number of winding country roads, to Petersen's Rock Gardens. This had been built about 50 years ago by an eccentric native, who covered four acres of his property with about a dozen structures made entirely or rock, including a replica of Independence Hall. The property is now managed by his stepdaughter, who herself looks to be about 70 years old. As the builder had wished, admission is by donation only, to be dropped into boxes at the edge of the property. The property is overrun by about a dozen peacocks, a dozen chickens, and four or five cats, whose collective squalling adds spice to the experience. I also paid an extra quarter for admission to a room containing rocks which fluoresced under ultraviolet or infra-red light, before returning to US 20 to continue the drive west. The end of the journey west was at hand!
I crossed through the Cascades, across I-5 and began the descent to the Pacific. (I also noticed that as soon as I reached the west side of the Cascades, the fog rolled in and it began to rain, confirming one Oregon stereotype.) Pulled down the last hill and into Newport at about 8:15. The intersection of US 20 and US 101 was about four blocks from the ocean, which was not visible as I arrived. The intersection itself was in the middle of a dumpy commercial split: gas station on one corner, car dealership on another, a couple of small strip shopping centers on the others. There were no signs announcing the end of US 20, just a sign on Highway 101 for US 20 East and no corresponding sign for 20 West. Especially in the dark and the rain, quite an anticlimax.
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