We traveled last weekend up to La Grande, Oregon, for the SpringAlive 2014 workshop. We've been several times in the past, and in the recent years have just really learned a lot from this event. It is a contradance workshop, covering both dance and music. I was involved in both parts -- fiddling and dancing -- so really didn't get any photos from the event itself. Others did, and I will write more on the workshop itself soon, hopefully also including a few photos.
But I thought I'd add here a few photos of the trip up. Monica drove, so I had the luxury of just watching the scenery, scenery I've seen so many times, so familiar to me, and yet seldom with the opportunity to actually look at it.
I decided to take a few photos with my phone. Not great quality, but maybe of some interest.
The first one here is at La Grande, Oregon, just across the border at the Snake River. I drive this way when going up to Weiser for the National Old-time Fiddlers Contest, and there is a little stretch of tributary river, right next to the freeway, which is so nicely wooded and tranquil that I always like seeing it. Unfortunately, the viewpoint is at the top of a freeway bridge with no place to stop. I tried to get 'the' shot, but failed. I did get a decent one of the nearby railroad bridge.
As a side-note, for those who eat such stuff, many of the country's Tater Tots are made at the little factory on the reverse side of the freeway. It's not so scenic, although it is fairly easy to spot a little steam 'smoke ring' coming out of one of the stacks.
Farewell Bend is the place where, in the old days, The Oregon Trail left the Snake River after following it for a few hundred miles. Following the Snake River downstream takes you through Hells Canyon, which, as the name suggests, isn't exactly wagon country. Nor freeway. It follows the Oregon Trail crossland here.
This shot is looking downstream towards Farewell Bend, though it's just out of sight on the left. Idaho is across the river.
And here's a shot that catches Farewell Bend on the right, and the entrance to Hells Canyon as the Snake veers downsteam towards the right of center.
As the Oregon Trail (aka I-84) continues cross country, we follow the Burnt River. This time of year, things are fairly green. When the Oregon pioneers came through, it would have been late summer, and fairly dry.
At the conveniently named Lime, Oregon, is an abandoned cement plant.
It's fairly interesting to look at, to my mind.
Between Baker City and Ontario, we pass a landmark that reminds us to be on good behavior because it's easier for Santa to see us now.
It's hard to tell in the photos here, but the Arrowleaf Balsamroot were in bloom. Yellow flowers, smell of vanilla.
Ladd Canyon is a relatively steep but short canyon the descends down to La Grande. In the winter time, it can be quite treacherous, and is sometimes closed. I spent a few days in La Grande one December, stuck between the closed freeway in Ladd Canyon on one side, the Blue Mountains on the other.
Here we are just about to descend into the Canyon.
So then we got to La Grande, secured our hotel room, and headed off to the workshop. A musicians workshop taught by Susan Songer and Lanny Martin of Portland, a dance workshop taught by David Kaynor of Massachusetts. Lots of good info. A potluck dinner, then the dance, where all the musicians got to play in the band.
Sunday morning I had an hour-long private fiddle lesson with David Kaynor. As I mentioned, I write more about the event itself in a following blog post. I will mention that it is a worthwhile event.
We headed on home, and once safely on the other side of the 45th Parallel, out of Santa's view, we had a beer with lunch at the Bull Ridge Brewery in Baker City, Oregon.
The "Bull" of Bull Ridge being bull elk. Lone Pine Lager in the rear, Sugarloaf IPA in the foreground.