The eastern part of Oregon is pretty flat and is mostly farmland. It doesn't get green and "Pacific Northwest"-looking until you are almost to Portland. And, most of the road-side attractions are part of the Oregon Trail historic route.
Tangent: Does anyone remember that old computer game 'Oregon Trail'? We used to play it all the time in elementary school and I don't think I ever made it to Oregon. I'm pretty sure I was the one who always died of dysentery or had to kill all my oxen or something. Here's a screen shot because I'm feeling nostalgic:
We had heard great things about the Columbia River Gorge, which is just outside Portland on I-84. We didn't think we could make it all in one day, so we decided to stop in a little town called Pendleton, which appears to be the largest town in Eastern Oregon. That way, we could leave early the following morning and take our time driving through the gorge. On our way out, we passed this sign:
I'm not really sure what the signifance is, or why anybody really cares, but, I guess I care since I went to the trouble to take a picture and put it on here. I did a little research and the 45th parallel is a great place for grape-growing and wine-making. Apparently, the Bordeaux region in France is also located along the 45th parallel. I have not yet delved into the world of Oregon wines, but even before moving here, I always knew that Oregon reds are often the best. So, I'm definitely looking forward to that.
Anyway, Columbia River Gorge. I actually was slightly disappointed with the scenery in the gorge. It was still pretty brown, and there was a lot of industrial traffic: trucks, trains, etc. However, there were definitely some things that are worth discussing. First, the train traffic is crazy. There are tracks on both sides of the river, so we were constantly seeing freight trains going back and forth. We saw one train so long, it had SEVEN engines pulling it. !!!
So, once you're almost to Portland, and if you look back the way you came into the gorge, it is absolutely beautiful... lush and green: