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Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear…And the joys of driving them today!


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Everything posted by hutchman

  1. This was a scenic tour and we had no really tough 4wd situations, however we did hit some mud that would have most likely stopped the average front driver........ Now for the scenery, we stopped for lunch at a FS Fire watch tower along FS Road 6220. This was worth the trip for the views from here......... And don't ever let 'em tell you there is no such thing as bigfoot........we got a picture.........! This forest must be full of food as this specimen has already taken on his fat for the winter............! :laugh: It was a great day and we met some great people. Ron and Donna, it was a pleasure and I hope we can do it again in the near future. Thanks to Rod for hauling me around! Almost forgot.......we found a little Jeep history on the way down the hill......... It's a 46 2A with a .......... ....yep a real 283. It started on the first hole and sounded just like an old Chevy is supposed to sound! Call the owner Ron if you are interested. He wanted me to know he is a wheeler Dealer, so he would probably take any "interesting" trade!
  2. .....thought I would share. Last weekend, I met some friends for scenic tour of the area around La Grand, OR. We decided on a tour of the Harris Mountain area and FS Rd 6220Rock Toy and the missus, Rubicon Rod and myself left the McDonalds about 0915 after deciding where to go. Ron, Donna, and Rod: Rock Toy's Blazer: Rod's Rubicon - I rode with Rod rather than take a chance with a tire problem on the truck: We headed up into the Wallowa Mountains around Mt. Harris. It was a hazy day, but the views were still spectacular from the first stop: The road from whence we came: And the road yet to be traveled: This is not a very good picture, but the there were many different colors in the forest - and several shades of green: Rod on the rocks at Prominence Point (I think that is right): More of the road yet to be traveled:
  3. Been away for a while......... Jerry, from PNW Backroads, and I met last Monday while I had my WJ serviced. On the agenda was a burger.......but not just any burger........an L&L Burger from the tiny drive in on the east side of Grandview, WA. We arrived and walked up to the walk up window.......you can't eat in. I asked the little lady what she recommended and from the back of the store came a voice....Have a DAGWOOD! Jerry and I each ordered one. When it came, it turned out to be a heart stopper. 2 patties, must have been 1/3 pound each, onions, lettuce, pickles, cheese, ham, mayo, and tomatoes on a large bun. Neither Jerry nor I had tomatoes, but crap it was good. If you like meat, this is one of the best. The flavor was great, the presentation was so-so, but sitting on a bench outside was great. I give this one a solid 8 on the Hutch scale......! the L&L Drive In in Grandview is highly recommended!
  4. As far as multiple swales running next to each other.......... It is hard to capture these with a camera, but looking across this image you can see what is a kind of "wavy" appearance of the tumbleweed etc. The OCTA marker stands in the middle of the trail here and there appears to be at least 3 sets of ruts. There may have been more, but they have been erased under the paved road. These are located on the run up to Keeney Pass in southern OR.
  5. One thing I enjoy looking at is images of "real" small town midwestern America. That type of image is hard to find out here. Small towns do exist, but for some reason they don't seem to have the atmosphere of the midwest. Walla Walla, WA, and La Grande, OR come to mind as a couple that are similar. Thanks for the trip!
  6. It is interesting to go back and read this......even with spell checkers, my spelling sucks!
  7. The next image is of the Power River and the dugway that was cut for the crossing of the river. It is kind of hard to see, but the single tree is growing right in the middle of it. To the east, more original ruts.... Not too far from here, Marie Dorian excused herself from the wagons and went into the bushes to give birth to the first native born, white Oregonian. She rejoined the wagons the next day on down the trail. I've said it before, but these people were tough. Leaving North Powder and going west on I-84, the trail is never very far away. It runs along the highway on the northeast side for about 8 miles. At this point, the highway leaves the trail for a couple of miles.....it turns to the right but the trail runs straight up the hill. In the next picture, the trail came from the right side of the highway and ran up the hill where the interstate bends right. You can see the faint outline going up the hill in the distance on the left side of the photo. The next picture is taken from the other side of the hill looking to where the trail came over the top. I believe it crested the hill in the center of the picture where there is a sudden change in elevation of the crest. It ran down the hill to the right of the highway and crossed just about where I was standing........ From here the trail ran straight up the hill in the distance and through the cut in the center of the picture where it ran down into what the settlers named the Grande Rhonde. This hill is part of the southern rim of the Grande Rhonde or Big Round. It was named because the valley is in the shape of a large circle and is surrounded by tall mountains. From here the highway departs the original route again and you have to ask why did they take what appears to be a harder route. The highway descends into the Grande Rhonde through Ladd Canyon, which appears to be an easer route today than the route they followed. My guess is that before the highway, the canyon was impassable to wagons. There probably wasn't enough flat ground to run one through it, so over the hill they went. Time for bed tonight......I should finish up tomorrow.
  8. I have read that many of the emigrants tried to bring too much stuff and had to dump some of their heavier possessions along the trail. There were unscrupulous people in the St. Joeseph, MO area, at the start of the trail, who would go out along the trail and pick up the discarded junk. They would haul this back to St. Joe and sell it to the next group of travelers from the east, at which time the cycle would start again. Capitalism was a live and well in the early to mid 1800s. From the top of Flagstaff Hill you can look over the Virtue Flat area and see where the trail came from the south. The trail cannot be seen in this picture but it ran from about 60% up on the left side to almost the lower right hand corner. Franswa's book indicates that there are several miles of ruts out in that area, but had no directions on how to find them. There is also the private property issue .........however, I thought why not see what we could find....... The next two pictures were taken a couple of miles south of the Interpretive Center. The first is looking back towards Flagstaff Hill and is taken from the ruts we found out there. These are very clearly OT ruts,as they follow Franzwa's maps exactly, but they are not marked. It almost makes you feel like and explorer......or not! This picture is taken from the same spot looking south over the gated property. The trail ran mostly straight south from here and went up the hill. The next image was taken from the Interpretive Center and looks out over the Baker Valley. The trail runs from the left out into the valley. This is included as reference because our trip now heads north through this valley and towards the Grande Rhonde. The next series of pictures are taken from the approximate location of the Trail as is crossed the Baker Valley. You can see the Interpretive Center on top of Flagstaff Hill to the left. The Trail comes down the hill in the center. Each subsequent image is taken as the trail crosses the valley. From this point the trial turns slightly and goes towards modern North Powder. It can't be seen from these images, but the trail ran more or less straight through the valley until here and it made a turn. The reason for this route.........just a little east of here is a hill and they usually went around hills to avoid the elevation change as much as possible. And believe it or not, there are still original swales out in the middle of all this farm land............to the left of the pavement is the Oregon Trail. It runs off towards the house in the distance. Why in the heck these have survived is beyond me......
  9. After an early morning stop at Mikey D's we headed for Baker City, OR, where we left off the previous day. We started east of Baker City on Hwy 86, just below the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. There is a stone obelisk erected in 1943 by the Baker City Kiwanis Club to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Trail. From this point you can see the OT Interpretive Center High up on Flagstaff Hill over looking the Baker Valley. About 1/2 way in the picture, just behind the 1st hill, is the actual Oregon Trail. This marker is several hundred feet east and on the other side of the highway. It talks about gold mining in the Virtue Flat area and doesn't say much about the Trail, but the inquisitive traveler will notice and gateway through the fence just to the right..... 40 or 50 feet from the fence is this marker...... Following the paved path from this leads to ....... Yep, you guessed it, ruts. Johnathon is standing next to one of the OCTA Markers which is in the middle of one of the swales running through here. If you weren't curious about the sign beyond the fence, you would not know these are here. My guess is most people go up to the Interpretive Center and then walk 1/2 mile back down to the Trail. This next picture should give you some idea of how deep these swales are....maybe 18" deep. If I remember correctly there were about 3 of these side by side in this area. It was from just about here that the emigrants got their first view of the Baker Valley and the Blue Mountains beyond...... From the Trail we went up to the Interpretive Center, but did not go in. We had been there earlier in the summer. I took this picture of Johnathon next to an original type wagon from the 1890s. They just did not have much space to bring their worldly goods and had to be very selective to bring necessities, but not too much.
  10. Brian, great article on the jeep. I have written a small but growing history of the origins of the jeep from prototype up through the CJ-3A. I have also written a little on selected newer Jeeps. I am not an expert by any stretch of the word, but just have a real interest in the vehicle. Here is a link to what I have done so far..... http://www.links4jeeps.com/forum/index.php?topic=5258.0 Take a look.
  11. Some great pictures.......! It is great to learn something everyday, and today I learned about the original survey point. I always wondered where they started, because obviously there has to be a starting point. I didn't recognize any of the images from Pittsburg, I worked there for a couple of years, where were they taken? If you get back to that area, there is a restored diner in Butler, PA that is now part of the Harley shop. The owner bought it, moved it to the dealership, and restored it. You don't have to go into the Harley shop to visit the diner either. And......on the outskirts of Butler, towards Pittsburg, there is a historical marker that marks... Here is a link to a page with a map and stuff....If have any interest in Jeeps or their history, Butler is a special place. http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=htt...ficial%26sa%3DN
  12. After leaving Huntington, the Trail mostly follows along the Burnt River. I sometimes was actually in the river as it was the flattest place to run the wagons. As an interesting sidelight...........following the actual Trail, one thing you tend to notice is the way these people managed to find the "easiest" route to follow. They were not civil engineers, but the people mapping the trail managed to find the route with the least slope to follow. One reason for this is obviously the lack of pulling power. With two oxen and a heavy load, there is only so much incline that could be climbed, but the other issue is one I would never have thought of. These wagons were both tall and narrow, and because of this they had to go either straight up or straight down a hill. Otherwise they took a huge risk of rolling sideways down the hill. There just weren't any switch backs on any sections of the Trail that I have seen. For going down steep hills they would lock the rear wheels with something like these: They would lock the rear wheel and slide down the hill to give themselves some control. These people were tough and found simple solutions to some tough problems. Now back to the trip........ We are on Sisley Creek Road....I was on this one earlier in the summer. The first time, I missed a turn and did not get to follow it to the end, but this time we went all the way. Franzwa states in his booke that this is the worst part of the trip due to the road conditions, but it is easily doable in any family car. It is all gravel road. At this point, we are on the OT. It runs under the modern road.. In this next image you can see the road below that we were on. You are looking back towards the Burnt River and the way they came from the Huntington area. It somewhere along here that they got their first view of the larger mountains to the West. They must have made a huge impression on the flatlanders. This next image is up on top of the hill as we come over the top. This is not exactly on the trail, it runs off to the right of this picture, but gives you some idea of what they were seeing. We are now down in the valley and back on the Trail again.... As you come down into the valley and rejoin the modern highway, you find an old log cabin. This cabin was the house of the teacher who taught in the school house on the other side of the road. Of course, I did not get a picture of the school. At this point we got back on Old Hwy 30 and mostly drove. We did stop to take a couple of pics, but for the most part we were done for the day.....I was exhausted. Look familiar Dave?! North of Durkee Hwy 30 climbs out of the valley and so does the trail. In this picture there is a good set of ruts to the right of the road....... At this point, we decided to drive back to La Grande and stay at my son's house for the night. Sleeping on the ground in a rain storm just didn't seem to appealing. This was a great day and we saw a lot of history. More to come........
  13. GM is part of American History.......it is too bad it has come to the point it is today. It is worth approximately worth today what it was in the 50s. I just hope that the company turns around and returns to its former greatness and the same for Chrysler and Ford.
  14. I don't know how I missed this one Dave. Good report. It is interesting that your old OT guide book does not show the actual route, but the highways that then followed closely along the original. But then maybe that was the purpose. It is also interesting that the modern interstate seems to follow the actual trail more closely than the older 2 lane does, at least in east central Oregon. I also missed the sign in Huntington.........my son told me about it, but I just missed it. That was a great hamburger!
  15. The Streamliner Restaurant aka, Howell's Cafe in Huntington, OR has a great burger called the Streamliner.........seems somehow appropriate! This is a 1/2 pound of real hamburger with 4 kinds of cheese, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, bacon, pickles, and mayo on a sourdough bun. It is to kill for.......! It drips real grease and almost more fat than your heart can stand. I recommend this one as it rates a solid 9 on the Hutch Scale! Sorry though, no pictures.
  16. I wondered if this was the place you referenced? And yes, I did notice the ceiling......... This was a very nice place with friendly people. I was suffering some heat issues when we were there and they rearranged an AC vent to blow on me! I'll stop there again.
  17. We followed this road for a couple of miles and were just getting to where we could really experience the desolation they must have felt when we came upon this....... This gate is across a public road and it has a no trespassing sign. I do not think this is legal and asked a farmer that I ran into back towards town about it. He stated the road is open and could not be posted. I decided that I was not in familiar country and would be looked on as an outsider. In addition, I had my grandson with me and I did not want to set any kind of a bad example for him. We did not go pat the sign. Instead we backtracked and headed to Farewell Bend on the highway. There was some good came out of this however, as we stopped at the Ontario airport and saw these....... Even though we were more interested in older history, these gave us the chance to talk about Vietnam. Kind of interesting to see these one time adversaries next to each other. Before we headed for Huntington, via old Route 30 we found these marked swailes SW of Farewell Bend State Park. They are up on the hill on the west side of I-84. This view is NE towards Farewell Bend....... The next picture is of Farewell Bend State Park. We had planned to camp here, but it was way too early in the day to stop..... So we headed towards Huntington. This view is looking back down the hill towards Farewell Bend SP. The trail runs to the right of the highway. They were heading into one of the toughest sections of the Trail at this point. The view down towards Huntington....... We ate a late lunch in Huntington at the old Streamliner Restaurant...... Now apparently known as Howells Cafe....... They have a killer hamburger, which I will review under a separate heading. Take my word........this place is worth a detour for a burger! I am going to stop for now.....I am tired and it is late. More to come...
  18. So you may ask yourself, what is a "swale?" I did ......... A swale is the rut made by the passage of wagons pulled by oxen. Today we think of an old country/dirt road as a couple of ruts the width of the average vehicle using the road. These "new" dirt roads have a raise center as there is nothing on that section - only under the wheels. But in the old days, there were animals pulling the wagons. So not only did the trail wear under the wagon wheels, but also in the center where the animals walked. This resulted in "ruts" becoming a wide depression in the ground, slightly wider than the track of the wagon. Today they look like this....... Johnathon is standing in a "swale" of the original trial at Keeney Pass. Just behind the one in which he is standing is another swale. One of the things you learn quickly is that these settlers did not like dust any better than we do and they spread out and go side-by-side when space permits. Here is another picture from just up the hill showing the swales as they head up and over the hill towards what is now Vale, OR. There is a pull off at Keeney Passs, which is where these pics were taken, where you can park and walk up to the top of the hill to get an idea of what a days travel was then. Looking east you can see back towards Fort Boise.. and west you look towards Vale...... Several miles down the road is a sobering reminder of the reality of life and death on the trail....... This was Johnathon's favorite part of the trip! The marker states that John D. Henderson died on August 9, 1852. The original inscription that was scratched in the rock by the settlers is shown in the first picture. A historical marker about 100 yards from the actual grave, stated that he died of black measles. This is believed to be historically accurate. However, the new marker at the grave site states he died of thirst. This falsehood was started in the 1930s by a third grader from Vale who wrote a paper stating John Henderson died of thirst when they were only 1/2 mile from the Malheur River. This story was passed on as true and was given as the reason for the death when the new marker was erected. Historical research has shown however that he really died of measles. ore to cNorth of Vale we turned into the desert and followed a primitive road called "The Old Oregon Trail Road." It is the OT and follows the trail as it goes through the desert heading towards Farewell Bend.
  19. As stated above, earlier this summer, my grandson and I decided that we would follow the Oregon Trail for a summer adventure. Due to some family issues and Johnathon’s visits with his aunt, we did not get to start until 8-25. We started from his house in La Grande, OR early that morning and headed to Nyssa, OR. The trail crossed the Snake River from Fort Boise a few miles south of Nyssa and came right through here. This was our first stop on the Trail and there is one of the many OR info kiosks here..... That is Johnathon ready for the adventure! There are also some barely visible ruts behind this marker heading up towards the southern OR desert. We followed some county roads up into the hills from here and ended up on the South Alternate Route of the Trail which intersects with the main trail several miles from here. This road is right on top of the SA Route. My guess is the pavement, corn, building and horse trailer were not here then..... We headed up towards Keeny Pass and started seeing markers like these... and ...... The brown markers have been placed by the Oregon and California Trails Association while the concrete ones are by the BLM. They mark the trail and are usually located in actual swales.
  20. I bought this Jeep a couple of weeks ago to fill the hole left when I traded my last Wrangler in on my truck. This trade was due to health issues, and had to be done, but I wanted a Jeep. I looked at older FSJs, but decided a project was just not in th cards, so I started looking at newer Grand Cherokees for comfort, room, and decent off road performance. Due to the fact that I am a large person, I needed all the interior room I could get, and I wanted a straight axle, so it seemed like a WJ might fill the bill. We were lucky enough to find a local, one owner 02 with 79,000 miles. It was a somewhat rare Sport Model that came with a 4 liter and a 242 transfer case - a real plus for me. In addition, the sport has leather and other options that come on a Limited, but not the V8 and the auto transfer case. For me it seemed almost perfect. These pictures show the Jeep mostly as we received it. We have only run it through the car wash. It was a very clean used Jeep! I bought this WJ knowing nothing about this series of GC. What I found out after the purchase was that the WJ is harder to put big tires on than a ZJ - the fender openings are just not as big...... That was not a huge issue with me, but it does complicate the selection of tires and wheels. The other issue with a WJ is aftermarket wheels, or lack thereof. The WJ was the first of the newer Jeeps to have a 5 on 5 bolt pattern with a 16 or 17 inch wheel, depending on year and option package. They also have 6 inch backspacing. This really limits the choices you have for wheels to "newer" type designs.....dubz..... There are some steel wheels and cast aluminum available, but most of the aluminum wheels have 4" backspacing. This was going to result in the tire sidewall sticking out about 3 inches from the stock location. This was really more than I wanted and it would add to the clearance issues when turning. I set some criteria for the lift and tires as follows: Minimize the amount of money needed for the lift. Choose a tire size that did not require a huge lift or a lot of cutting. Choose a wheel that looked good, but did not stick out a long way and met the cost criteria. Buy an all terrain type tire. By paying attention to the last three, the first would follow. I am partial to a narrow tire, so my first choice was a 235/85-16. This tire is almost 32 inches tall and would require about 3 inches of lift with some cutting for clearance....not exactly what I was looking for. My next thought was a 265/70-16 which was shorter but wider. Like I said, I wanted a narrow tire, so this was less than desirable. So I settled on a 245/75-16 which is shorter than the 235/85 and more narrow than the 265/70. The other concern was wheel width and backspacing. Most of the aftermarket wheels were either 7 or 8 inches wide with 4 or 5 inches of backspacing. As I stated earlier, I did not want the tires to stick out much and did not want to cut much. Less backspacing would require more cutting. I decided to stick with the stock wheels due to these issues. They don't look as good, but they sure do cost less, which was the first requirement of the project. And for the lift, I chose a RE 2" BB. This is an inexpensive lift that included spacers, shocks, bumpstops, and the shock thingies required when installing aftermarket shocks on a WJ. Very complete, good quality, and not a lot of money. I ordered it from AllJeep and the service was great with a great price. So how did it come out........? The lift resulted in a change in the distance from the hub to the fender lip of 1 3/4 inches....that is what most 2" BBs provide from what I have read. Including the tire, the fender lip is now 3" taller than stock. I have not severely tested this setup yet, but I did do some "suburban wheeling" behind Quizno's.......I exited the parking lot in the back into the next business parking lot. There was a curb on top of a 18" rise, which I kind quartered over to see if I got any rubs when stuffed...kind of.......LOL! No issues at all. I also tried some steep driveways with the wheels turned hard and no issues. I think it will work pretty good for a DD that is does some mild off roading.
  21. Great pictures........brought back memories of the Mid West.
  22. I still have my truck, but I decided to buy a 2002 WJ tonight. It is a one owner adult, who has never taken it off road. It has had all maintenance performed by Mid Valley Jeep including the transmission fluid changes. Crap, I have never bought a used car that has had the transmission fluid changed by the book! With a small lift and some 31 inch tires, it should give me something to do some mild wheeling in comfort. I think it will be fun! It even has the original window sticker all owners manuals. I think it is a good find, although time will tell.
  23. The answer to all tax increases is to reduce spending......not increase taxes. But we all know that politicians can't be elected without some pork!
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