North of Salem on 99E, I believe, I passed a standard white-on-green highway sign that said, "45th Parallel -- Halfway Between the Equator and the North Pole".

It was raining when I left the motel, and the girl at the desk said Enchanted Forest would probably be closed, and I didn't feel like going to an outdoor attraction in the rain, anyway, so I went north instead.

Feeding time at Hart's Reptile Garden would be between two and three, so I had plenty of time to kill. I decided to go to Mcminnville to track down a restaurant in a B-29 bomber. This turned out to be a bad idea, since a girl in a convenience store there told me it was gone. I looked around by the airport and didn't find anything. Later, when it was too late, I was told it was still there. Oh, well.

The drive over there was nice, though. I passed several orchards of some kind. I assumed they were a fruit but was told later they were some kind of nut.

I also passed what I assumed were hop vines. At first I just saw wooden poles with wires strung across the top. Other wires dropped from these to the ground. Then I saw vines growing up these wires.

I stopped to photograph them and knocked on the door of the house across the street. Nobody answered. In the next town I stopped at a little John Deere dealership for confirmation. They couldn't tell me what kinds of hops were grown in the area. I will pretend they were the ultra-bitter Cascade.

Some of the orchards had small young trees. Some had very large old ones. I also saw what I think were Christmas tree farms.

Mary Esther Hart had emailed me directions to her attraction the night before. Cleverly I had faxed them to the motel so I'd have hard copy. Not so cleverly I didn't read them until I was already in Canby, so the directions were useless.

In Canby I stopped for lunch in a fast food place called Burgerville. I call it "fast food" only to identify the type of restaurant, since the service was anything but fast. The burger was mediocre, too.

I headed in what I thought was the right direction and found (after driving by) one of the turns in my instructions. From there it was easy to find Hart's Reptile World.

Mary Esther is only slightly older than me, but she has been collecting reptiles for over twenty years. She's got more snakes and lizards than I have seen in any of the several reptile attractions I've visited.

Two of her three star attractions, a very large turtle and a very tame alligator, were poisoned last year. She had had them for many years, and they were pets, members of the family, not just part of the collection. Wilbur the alligator is especially missed. He used to have free run of the place. I am very sorry I never got to meet him.

Seemore the Iguana is still around, though. Over twenty, he is far older than iguanas are supposed to get. When I first saw him he was perched atop the healthy iguana cage in the back. He then climbed down and up the side of the recent-arrivals iguana cage. Before I left he had made his way all the way to the front and climbed into the turtle pen. Mary Esther said he likes to make sure they aren't getting better food than he is.

The rest of the animals were in cages or pens or tubs (some of these were open, but the animals didn't want to come out).

The only thing that scared me was the sound of a rattlesnake as I got too close to his cage, looking at something else.

During my three-hour visit several family groups and a day care group came in. A large crowd was on hand when Mary Esther fed chicken to the alligators.

Then she got out a fairly long snake (maybe fourteen feet) for the children to pet and hold. Some of the adults were scared of the snake, but the kids did OK as long as it didn't turn toward them.

Hart's Reptile World is not-for-profit. The animals are mostly discarded pets or confiscations from drug raids and the like. She gets money from doing presentations and parties, admission fees, and donations.

She does this because she likes the animals. She said she prefers reptiles over cats or dogs because "they're quiet".

If you are ever in the area, I can't recommend a visit here highly enough, and I'm not just saying that because I know she's going to read this.

I shot about four rolls of film here. The inside digital pictures are a little blurry because of the low light, but I think those above work anyway.

From Canby I drove north to Portland in search of the illusive Bomber Gas (actually in suburban Milwaukie). I conveniently arrived during rush hour, and it started to rain heavily.

It is now the Bomber Restaurant. Actually the restaurant is located well behind the airplane.

I went north to I-84, then east. For a rush hour, this wasn't too bad, moving constantly but slowly (25 to 35). After we passed 205 the speed reduction was over.

Along the Oregon side of the Columbia River, I-84 has been put in place by brute force. While the train tracks that follow most of the time pass through some tunnels, the Interstate roadway charges straight through the terrain. Huge chunks of rock outcropping have been blasted away.

In contrast, I could see the road on the Washington side rising, falling, and curving along the hillsides. It passed through tunnels and looked like a much nicer road. Nicer for driving, not for trucking or high-speed travel.

This is the Columbia Gorge Scenic something, and it is very scenic. I've seen a bit of the Missouri and a great deal of the Mississippi, but neither has (in the areas I've seen) this kind of surrounding scenery. There are mountain ranges on either side. At first they were covered with trees. Then they were rounded arid-looking mounds. Then they had very severe bluffs and cliffs, like the Grand Canyon, only notůso.

It must have been something to be in the Lewis and Clark party and float down this river, having no idea what to expect.

I passed a couple of big dams along the way that have eliminated astonishing natural features of the river, the Columbia Cascades and the Dalles.

I guess I'd never really given much though to why dams always seem to destroy waterfalls and rapids and the like. It makes a lot of sense. These are areas where the river is shedding a lot of potential energy in a very short length. Catching the water before it tumbles over the edge allows the releasing kinetic energy to be turned into electricity.

Ages ago at the Grand Coulee Dam laser show the voice of the Columbia told me that it had the greatest drop per unit length of any river in the U.S. That explained why it has so many dams on it. It also explains why it was once the most powerful-looking river in the country.

I took only the fourth bridge across the river, just a couple of miles from Sam Hill's Stonehenge replica.

This is supposed to be some kind of World War monument, built in either the teens or thirties, depending on which book you read. It doesn't seem an obvious choice for a war memorial. I think he just wanted to build a Stonehenge and added the war memorial part later.

My timing could not have been more perfect. The sky had cleared somewhat and the sun was low but not quite behind the hills.

There is a gift shop nearby. A woman closed it and drove away as I was setting up my tripod. After she left three more cars pulled up. It was her loss.

The wind kept blowing my tripod over, but the AR2 worked like a champ.

A sign on the road heading east said that the next gas was over eighty miles away. I had already decided that my best course of action was to go back the way I'd come, all the way to Portland. Luckily I could take the road on the Washington side and not retrace any of my steps.

I quickly passed the Maryhill Museum, which was closed for the day. This was built as Sam Hill's home, but he never finished it. He started to make it a museum, but it wasn't opened until after he died.

This road was much more fun than the Interstate on the other side. I zipped along until I got to The Dalles, Oregon. I crossed the river again, since that is where the motels are.

All the ones listed in the AAA book cost $50-$100. I went to the Inn at the Dalles. It has seen better days, but the room was acceptable. It is up on a hill overlooking the dam. I paid $40 instead of $30 for a room overlooking the dam. The view was terrific.

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