Of all the trails sprawled throughout Tillamook State Forest, Cedar Tree is one of my favorites. No, it is not as technical or advanced as Firebreak Five, or as perilous as Airplane Hill or Can Opener. But for a scenic trail that winds through beautiful forest with just enough challenge to keep you guessing, it is the best.
As with most Jeeping trips, our day began relatively early, meeting up with our buddy Rob at the North Plains Chevron station. I swear these small businesses survive on the dollars brought in from all these pre-TSF offroad trips. Continue reading Trail Report: Cedar Tree [Oregon]→
In my opinion, there are two titans of the vegan “fast/casual” restaurant market: Veggie Grill and Native Foods.
Fortunately for us vegans, they both take a different approach on their food so we truly get to enjoy the strengths of each.
Veggie Grill uses purchased meat analogs where Native Foods makes all their own stuff. Both options are great, but with Native Foods you can enjoy food that you just can’t make at home. Another plus? Native Foods has ventured further inland than VG, with locations in places like Boulder, Washington D.C., and Chicago.
The morning started early, with the crusty frost on the grass and the long morning shadows on the ground. The Wasatch mountains were cloaked in beautiful colors, and tiny birds filled the sky.
After a conference call for work, some free OJ in the hotel lobby and a repack of the Jeep, we were on our way at 10:30AM. We hit the first Starbucks since Ohio, and celebrated our familiar caffeinated favorites with a cardboard clink and a toast for the road.
Today would be the home stretch, a blessing in disguise. Knowing it would be our last day on the road was bittersweet, but knowing we had to push on – no more breaks – was a bit daunting.
We made our way out of Utah very quickly, the Idaho border arriving as a surprise. Following signs for Burley, I was able to calculate distance and time with the familiar scenes from our recent Moab trip.
We ended up stopping for a gas up at a small gas station just off the highway, in the middle of nowhere. As we pulled in, a lone tumbleweed tried to warn us of the potential “Hills have Eyes” situation about to unfold.
However, while we were never burned to the stake, we were greeted by some friendly donkeys and llamas as well as entertained by a very well laid out store ripe with western jokes and cold drinks.
We stopped in Boise for a lunch break and to see an old friend for a cup of tea. Brandon suggested a vegan-friendly joint called the Shangri-La Tea Room and I was impressed with their vegan goodies. Right when you walk in the door, a display case teases you with a beautiful array of vegan donuts.
I ordered the vegan burger which was really good, and my sister got the tofu scramble (which she said was amazing). Brandon made it a tea-only affair. After lunch, I ordered a ton of donuts for the drive, and to take home for Melanie.
These last 7 hours would be the longest of the trip. Idaho soon blended into Oregon at the Snake River and the Wallowas soon greeted us. Eastern Oregon has to be one of the most beautiful arid, stark places I have ever seen and it continues to astonish me each time we pass through.
The headwind as we approached the Columbia gorge were unbelievable. The little Jeep still pushed 70-75 where possible, but the noise with the soft top was often unbearable. My Bose noise-canceling headphones proved helpful.
We left I-84 in Hood River, opting to circle Mt. Hood for a shorter drive home.
The dark, snowy (read: very snowy) drive was a beautiful end cap to our adventure. As we descended through Government Camp, Rhododendron, and finally home, we pulled in the driveway at about 10:30PM.
It was so great to be home. Being greeted by the dogs, seeing Melanie, and sleeping in my own bed was so amazing. But being on the road in a 15 year old Jeep was also amazing. With plenty of silent time to think and recollect it was almost more meditation than road trip.
It isn’t everyday that the Jeeping community gets to do something that dramatically helps other people. So when we heard about a restored 1974 Jeep J20 being donated to a family to help them, I jumped at the chance of being part of the Jeep family that would deliver the truck.
Our small group of Jeeps met in Troutdale and convoyed out to Hood River where we finally met up with others and the Hood River Police Department. Aaron is a retired Hood River Police Officer that ended his career early to stay home and assist his son, Thomas who needs special care.
The group “Keeping Disabled Vets Jeepin and Free” works on and provides Jeep vehicles to vets and those needing a little Jeep love to keep them offroading and to allow them respite from their day to day.
They do wonderful things.
With a full police escort, our group snaked through Hood River, and ended up 11 miles out at the Jubitz family home.
There, the family was surprised with their fully restored Jeep J20.
After some walkthroughs of the Jeep, and some words shared by most, it was time for the maiden voyage as Aaron drove his wife off in their new Jeep.
Below is a video from the day I put together:
The thought I walked away from is how there are so many people around us doing beautiful things, and we don’t even know it.
If you can, please make a contribution to the program by contacting the group on their Facebook page.