Square State Tour

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Day 1

Sun, Sep 30, 2007

1:09 pm
0 miles

Salem, Oregon

We were going to leave on Monday, but we got to looking at how far we have to drive, and decided that maybe we would get a little jump on the driving and leave Sunday afternoon.

Which, of course, is pretty much the rainiest day in the history of the entire world. It's pouring down rain, the creek is rising, and the guy across the way just stopped by to ask if he could borrow two ants for his "project." Ugh.

But, we finally get the car packed (although everything's a bit damp) and we pull out of our driveway eating cottage cheese and bananas (we had to clean out the frig and we couldn't stand to just throw this stuff away).

On the road! The very wet road.

1:57 pm
36 miles

Lebanon, Oregon

Ah! We're in Lebanon! Break out the flack jackets!

Oh, wait. This is the Lebanon that's in Oregon. Apparently, Oregon ran out of cities to name its cities after (Dallas, Salem, Portland—to name but a view) and decided to name a few cities after other countries.

Ironically, the motto of Lebanon, Oregon is "The City That Friendliness Built."

While in Lebanon, Laura discovers the perfect use for Wal-Mart: a great place to pee! Because we teach a class on starting your own business, we're not fans of Wal-Mart (whom we tend to view as spawn of the devil, destroying the livelihood of small-business people). So we feel no guilt whatsoever at walking in, using the facilities (yes, we pee where we're supposed to pee, not in the cash registers), and then walking out without buying anything.

We recommend it to everyone! Pee in Wal-Mart!

2:30 pm

As we wind our way through the rain and up through various passes, we notice we're on a Scenic Highway (if we could see anything but rain on the windshield). In fact, we're on the (no kidding) "Over the Rivers and Through The Woods Scenic Byway." Now we know where to go come Thanksgiving.

3:54 pm
125 miles

Sisters, Oregon

We've spent the last fifty or so miles driving off-and-on through the remains of a forest fire. It looks to be a couple of years old, but there's still lots of crispy trees (and "Interpretive Kiosks") along the way.

Right now, it's hard to imagine anything burning.

4:20 pm
143 miles

Bend, Oregon

We're at our first destination! The Fun Farm, or as the sign outside has it: Farm Fun The.

This is, um... Well, it's actually kind of hard to sum up The Fun Farm in a sentence. It's sort of an antique store plus junk shop plus art installation. Here's a few of the things we saw (most of it outdoors):

  • A dollhouse with a tiny TV set continually playing "The Wizard of Oz" (in color!).

Tiny Tv set continually playing Wizard of Oz

  • A bowling ball tree

  • A five foot stack of various types of phones

  • A flamingo garden (filled with flamingos and bowling balls)

  • A full-size model of the house that fell on the Wicked Witch of the East (it's all crooked!)

  • A giant heart-shaped pool (visible on Google Satellite Maps). There's a couple of giant arrows sticking out of the heart. And on the last Saturday in June, there're Free Weddings! They'll provide the minister and you can get hitched (or renew your vows). And there's a potluck wedding reception afterwards!

  • A field of crosses, with one cross for every ten soldiers killed in Iraq

  • A vast carpeted outdoor art raw material market. There's neatly sorted rocks, old modems, kitchen sinks, driftwood—anything you might want to create your very own art installation (and all for sale!). We were getting inspired just looking at it!

Laura (left) and Robert (right) explore the raw material market

Fortunately, the rain held off for the first time all day (see—God likes this stuff, too!), so we were able to savor the works.

Gene, the fellow that runs the place, does have one thing he'd like to make very clear: there are no longer ANY fainting goats. They used to have a bunch of them, but they've placed them all in good homes (apparently, whenever the goats get excited, they have a sort of epileptic fit and faint). There's still lots of goats, but none of them faint (although they do seem to pee a lot and not in Wal-Mart).

Also, the Officially Correct Name of the place is "The Fun Farm" not "Funny" (somebody else owns that name) and not "Buffet Flats."

And we found out that the inside of a bowling ball is pressed wood. Yup, sawdust and glue formed into a ball and then covered with an inch or so of resin. And Gene says that the price of used bowling balls is beginning to climb as more people use them to decorate (since he's got several hundred of them on the property, he's up on the market value of them).

His advice: "Invest in bowling balls."

We buy a packet of bowling ball seeds ("Plant in an alley," Gene suggests) and head for our next stop in Burns, Oregon.

The Fun Farm
64990 Deschutes Market Rd (just off Highway 97)
Bend, Oregon

6:38 pm
198 miles

Brothers Rest Area

Okay, you know how sometimes we'll say "Boy, there's nothing here!"?

Well, we haven't seen nothing, yet. THIS is nothing. Since we left Bend, we have seen a whole heaping mess of nothing. Desert with scrub brush and sometimes pine trees. More desert. And then some desert.

Once we saw an old worn out General Store, but it had been closed for many years. Not a 7-11, not a gas station, not nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing.

And, according to our mapping software, it'll continue like this until we get to Burns. Not a good place to run out of gas.

Laura likes that this particular rest area has a "Horse Exercise Area."

We saw a lot of this for a long time

8:01 pm
290 miles

Burns, Oregon

Whew! We finally reached something! After the last two hours, Burns strikes us as some kind of massive metropolis, but really, it's a smallish town ("Look! My God! There's a BILLBOARD!" hollers Robert).

Burns is the home to the only Indian Casino in Oregon that loses money. So we thought we'd stay there, and help them out.

We found out why they lose money. It took us about 10 minutes to find it. There's a huge sign for the casino on the road, but no actual casino near the sign. You have to follow a series of tiny sandwich board signs (not easy in the dark) through some back roads until you reach the casino. Which is in a temporary-looking building. And turns out not to have a motel.

So...we head back to town and check into some kind of motel that has an Internet connection.

We're beat!

Tomorrow: Idaho and beyond!

Robert & Laura
Square State Tour


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