Dispatches from Danny Palmerlee

The Columbia River Gorge is one of the best board sailing destinations on earth (for example, watch this video and this one too). In spring and summer, when it’s hot inland and cold on the coast, the low inland pressure sucks coastal air up the gorge. As the gorge narrows, it acts like a wind tunnel, creating winds of phenomenal speeds. But some days the wind just doesn’t blow. And that’s when you just paddle around with your dog.

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“Yeah, but once you leave Portland, the people get weird.” I’ve heard that so many times (oddly enough, considering the “Keep Portland Weird” mantra), and I’ve found it to be almost entirely untrue. Except for that one town I drove through on a roundabout way home from the coast this summer (Brickerville? Rainrock? Deadwood? I don’t remember. But that place really was weird.)

This is downtown Mitchell (pictured) in Eastern Oregon. It’s the closest place to get a hotel room if you’re visiting the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (which, thanks to its rock formations and all the three-toed horse and short-faced dog fossils is weird.) Mitchell itself, however, is just like any other small American town, except, I guess, for the boarded up old cafes, the caged 800-pound bear at the town’s only gas station (”pump stop” would be a better description) and the fact that most of the people left in the area are unemployed, which, come to think of it, is probably not that weird at all these days. Other than these minor details, Mitchell is a normal everyday little town. Continue reading »

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