On the way back to the freeway, we were stopped at a railroad crossing behind a pickup truck towing a fifth-wheel trailer. The train inched westward interminably, then the crossing gate lifted but, I noticed idly, the red blinking lights stayed red and blinking. The pickup truck crossed the tracks, or more significantly the first set of tracks, and the crossing gate came back down square in the middle of the top of the trailer. Ooops. There was a train going eastbound on the second set of tracks. The pickup truck drove forward enough to clear the first tracks and the crossing gate bounced a couple of times on the trailer roof then came to rest in its normal position. The driver came out with a disgusted expression and surveyed his position, then moved the truck a bit forward at an angle to ensure track clearance by the trailer, then came out and surveyed things again, his whole posture expressing his disgust. The eastbound train moved on by much more rapidly. The moral of the story is, even if the crossing gates go up, wait for the lights to stop blinking.
When the last train had passed, I snapped the two images below of old buildings on the far side of the tracks. Don’t they both have the most marvelous aged patinas on the brick and rock respectively? I’d love to reproduce the effect on model buildings for our G-scale railroad.
Eastern Oregon is wide and sparsely populated, at least on the route we chose, US 20 through Burns to Bend. I had wanted to travel the more northward US26 in the belief it would be more scenic and less barren desert but Al had checked the map thoroughly and determined that there were fewer mountain passes on US20. As it turned out, US20 was as scenic as you would want, following the path of Malheur River for much of the distance to Burns. The road winds through dramatic rock outcroppings as it works its way up into the mountains.
West of Burns, the mountains spread out and the effect is more of the high desert but it had obviously been a wet year and the vegetation was much greener than we expected, especially in the areas of irrigated hay fields. This is such a classic image of the American open road.
Soon we came over a rise and got our first glimpse of the Oregon Cascade Peaks.
We stayed one night at Crane Prairie Reservoir, southwest of Bend and although the winds had been ferocious the day before, in the morning the lake was like the proverbial mirror, here seen reflecting South Sister, Brokentop and Mt. Bachelor.