Monday, January 16, 2012

US Post Office Closures

It’s nothing new as we have experienced similar changes throughout US History.

Think about the wagon trains and the Pony Express. Towns were spaced across the United States so persons traveling by horse or wagon would have a place to stop every few days for food, water & supplies.

Next we had the building of the railroads. Where the railroad tracks were laid was very important as towns near the tracks grew and those that weren’t on or near the newly built rail lines started to die off.

Then the interstate highways were built which caused fewer people to drive on smaller highways and back roads. Along the exits of the interstate highways new chain businesses started to crop up: self-service fuel stations with food marts, restaurants (McDonald's & Denny’s) and motel’s (Motel 6, Super 8 & Holiday Inn). Small businesses such as cafés, full service gas stations, hardware stores and small town motels started to disappear. Without the traffic passing through small towns it wasn’t long before the landscape stated to change and more small towns were dying off.

Now we have the internet (Facebook & Twitter) and this Blog I’m posting to and you’re reading. These types of internet media are starting to have effects on small towns and not always for the better.

Below is a list of forty-one Post Offices in Oregon the US Postal Service is proposing to close this year (2012). Over the past 30 years I have traveled through many of these rural towns but now I think of them differently.

ADEL 97620
AROCK 97902
CRANE 97732
DURKEE 97905
HARPER 97906
HELIX 97835
IMNAHA 97842
KENT 97033
OXBOW 97840
POST 97752
RILEY 97758
RUFUS 97050
SENECA 97873
UKIAH 97880
UNITY 97884
AGNESS 97406
TILLER 97484
WALTON 97490
IDANHA 97350

Who knows how many will actually be eliminated but regardless it sad news as rural Post Offices are part of our history.

During the spring and summer of 2012 I will be riding my motorcycle or driving our car to visit all forty-one of these Post Offices plus other small Post Offices along the way. I hope to visit with the locals who would be effected by these closures. I want to see how these towns/areas look now and then watch what changes happen if they do lose their Post Office.

I will be posting my travels on this Blog so I hope you enjoy following along as I travel to all corners of Oregon.

You can read more about the Post Office closues at this link:

Below are Google Earth images of all the routes combined and the individual routes I plan to take in my quest to visit all these Post Offices.

All the routes on one map:

One Day Trip:

Three Day Trip:

Five Day Trip:

Two or Three Day Trip:

Two Day Trip:

Saturday, January 7, 2012

McKenzie River Highway to Sisters, Oregon September 21, 2011

Met up with Terrie (Blue Goldwing), Terry (Goldwing with trailer & his dogs) in Albany, Oregon to ride over to Sisters, Oregon following Hwy 20 to Sweet Home and Hwy 126 to the McKenzie River Hwy. We stopped at the Dee Wright Observatory on the top before stopping in Sisters for lunch.

After lunch we rode back on Hwy 242 (McKenzie River Hwy) to Hwy 126 then into Springfield. We then headed up north to Marcola before ending back into Sweet Home from the south side. From Sweet Home Terrie & Terry headed back to Albany on Hwy 20 and I took back roads back to Stayton.

At the Dee Wright Observatory turnout at the summit of the McKenzie Pass on Hwy 242 with the Three Sisters Mountains in the background

Notice the trailer Terry is pulling. His two dogs go everywhere he goes on his motorcycle.

(l-r) Kevin, Terrie & Terry

Terry's trailer with the two dogs got lots of attention when we stopped

Dee Wright Observatory in the background

View from the Dee Wright Observatory looking south - Three Sisters Mountains in the background

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Central Oregon Coast Loop September 11, 2011

Got up early for a motorcycle ride to Loon Lake and Oregon Coast.

The sun was bright orange becasue of the smoke from forest fires in the Cascade Mountains

Coming into Drain, Oregon from the east

Took a break from my motorcycle ride to join a friend on a party barge and putted around Loon Lake for a few hours.

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McKenzie River Highway August 24, 2011

What a GREAT ride this was. I covered just over 400 miles spending most of my time on Forest Service Road 19 (Aufderheide National Forest Scenic Byway) which is just outside Westfir, Oregon then on Hwy 242 (McKenzie Pass/Santiam Pass Scenic Byway) and Hwy 126 from Sisters, Oregon to Springfield, Oregon.

Office covered bridge near the start of the Aufderheide National Forest Scenic Byway

Entering the McKenzie Pass/Santiam Pass Scenic Byway at Hwy 242 & Hwy 126

Information about McKenzie Pass Scenic Byway
The Byway follows the path of an 1860s wagon route, emerging from the forest at Windy Point to a jaw-dropping vista of Mount Washington and a 65-square-mile lava flow. When you reach 5,325-foot McKenzie Pass, you're enveloped by lava on all sides. The Dee Wright Observatory, a lava rock structure constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935, and named for their foreman. From the observatory, you can take in six Cascade peaks on a clear day. You are on the boundary here of two wilderness areas: Mt. Washington to the north and Three Sisters to the south.

Three Sisters Mountians in background

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Yellowstone NP - July 16-26, 2011

My dad (Jack), my two brothers (Gary & Mike) and I wanted to take a trip together. Our plan was all four of us would ride motorcycles but unfortunately preceding our departure date in July 2011 my dad and brother Gary had accidents riding their motorcycles.

This didn't stop us from the trip as Mike and I rode our motorcycles with Gary and dad following along in Gary's Honda CRV. Having a car follow along was nice as we had plenty of room for all our camping gear. The trip from Oregon to Yellowstone National Park and back allowed us to visit family and friends along the way.

Each night at the campsite we'd site around the picnic table playing cribbage to relax.

This was our route to Yellowstone National Park:

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Day 1 - July 16 - Stayton, Oregon to John Day, Oregon
With dad ready to leave Stayton, Oregon on July 16th AND IT'S RAINING!!!

With Gary ready to leave.

Met up with Mike (who lives in Everett, Washington) at the Tastee Treat in Prineville, Oregon

East of Prineville a Suzuki 650 VStrom joined us. Turns out he was from Stayton, Oregon also.

Set up our tents in uncle Pete and aunt Donna's yard. Donna (my mom's sister) made us a wonderful fried chicken dinner with homemade dinner rolls, just like mom would have made. Pete & Donna live just outside John Day, Oregon

Day 2 - July 17 - John Day to Snake River (Idaho Side)

Sumpter Railroad Station

Visiting with Dean and Sharon at their ranch in Sumpter, Oregon

With Sharon & Dean. Dean was one of my college roommates.

Old store front at Granite, Oregon

Anthony Lakes Ski Area northwest of Baker City, Oregon

The road to Anthony Lakes opened a few days before but it was still down to one lane here.

Camping at the Snake River on the Idaho side

Playing a game of cribbage at the campsite

Day 3 - July 18 - Snake River to Challis, Idaho
We had breakfast at this cafe in Cambridge, Idaho

This is the view outside Stanley, Idaho

We followed the river between Stanley and Challis, Idaho

Enjoying the pool at Challis Hot Springs

Our campsite at Challis Hot Springs

Day 4 - July 19 - Challis to West Yellowstone
Our campsite was just outside of West Yellowstone at a KOA as everything in West Yellowstone was booked for the week. Make sure you have reservations if you plan to visit Yellowstone National Park in July.

Day 5 & 6 - July 20 & 21 - Yellowstone National Park
Visited the park over two days

Jack (dad), Kevin (me) & Gary

This was easy getting down but a different story climbing back up the steps

At the bottom of Uncle Tom's Trail - The river was running very high which made all the falls in the park beautiful

Gary & Kevin

This was our route back to Oregon from Yellowstone:

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Day 7 - July 22 - West Yellowstone to Lolo Hot Springs, Montana
Breakfast in Ennis, Montana

Interesting history here as this is where Chief Joseph was trying to escape from the US Army

Campsite at Lolo Hot Springs in Montana

Day 8 - July 23 - Lolo Hot Springs to Joseph, Oregon
After a swim in the pool the night before we left our shorts out to dry. Surprised when we woke up to temps in the upper 20's and our shorts were frozen solid. It was the third week in July and still freezing at night!

Breakfast at Lowell, Idaho after a cold morning ride

Grande Ronde River between Lewiston, Idaho and Enterprise, Oregon

Uncle Earl & Aunt Joanne had a BMW touring bike back in the 80's and would regularly ride 500 miles in one day

Gary with Earl and Joanne's puppies

Day 9 - July 24 - Joseph to Alicel, Oregon
Wallowa Lake outside Joseph, Oregon

We rode the Hells Canyon Loop from Joseph, Oregon to Halfway, Oregon

Didn't have time to get a steak at the Haines Steakhouse but if you are in Haines near dinner time it's a must

Both my parents graduated from Union High School back in the 50's

I have family in Cove, Oregon

Day 10 - July 25 - Alicel to Fossil, Oregon
Spent the night at Bob and Sharon's ranch in Alicel, Oregon (l-r) Kevin, Mike, Sharon, Gary, Bob, Jack & Rob

This is the view from the back desk of Uncle Bob and Aunt Sharon's ranch house

I was talking to the clerk at the general store in Ukiah, Oregon (who has lived his entire life there) and we got on the subject of the post office. I mentioned a friend (Randy in Salem) grandmother was the postmaster in Ukiah years ago. He said his mother took over as postmaster in 1960 from Mary Arbuckle, who just happened to be Randy's grandmother. He then told me how the Arbuckle's were a very important family in the history of Ukiah.

Mike and I worked at this plywood mill in Heppner, Oregon back in the late 70's. This one building is left but the mill closed years ago.

Dinner in Fossil, Oregon. Dad was born on a ranch just outside Fossil.

Day 11 - July 26 - Fossil to Stayton, Oregon
No camping on our last night as they didn't allow tents at the RV park in Fossil so we had to get a motel room.

From Fossil we split up. Mike rode north to his home in Everret, Washington. Dad and Gary drove back to Monmouth, Oregon and I rode to Stayton, Oregon

Between Fossil and Antelope, Oregon

Outside Shankio, Oregon

Old service statin at Shankio, Oregon

Near Bakeoven, Oregon

We covered about 2,500 miles in 9 days of riding on back roads only. Had a great time as we visited family along the way and got to see many small towns and friendly folks along the way.