In my last post, I mentioned how bad the air quality was due to the fires – I had no idea how much worse things would get. I woke up yesterday morning to dark skies and smoke-filled air. When I checked the AirVisual app on my phone, this is what came up for Bend:
Yes, that would be a gas mask. Scary stuff. I took Juno for a quick walk and even though I was wearing a cloth mask, I found that my nose started running. And when I came back, my clothes smelled like smoke. After checking the local news and the wildfire map, I decided it would be in my best interest to leave town. With wildfires to the north, west and south of Bend, my only real option was to head east. Boise is a five-hour drive from Bend so I booked a room at the Hyatt, packed a bag, downloaded a audiobook (A Man Called Ove), grabbed Juno’s kibble and we were on the road before 10am.
The drive was uneventful – I was on Hwy 20 almost the entire time and there really isn’t much to see along the way. It took about two hours before the air cleared up and the sky was blue. One thing I didn’t realize was that I would be crossing into the Mountain time zone during the drive. Yep – part of eastern Oregon is in MST. That just shows how wide the state is. I mean – it’s not as crazy as Texas but still.
It turns out that I’m not the only one who decided to leave town for Boise. When I checked in at the hotel, one of the front desk guys told me that they went from 60% occupancy to 100% in under a day. And when I took Juno for a walk around the block before we went to bed, I noticed that the parking lot was filled with cars with Oregon, Washington and California license plates.
Because we arrived fairly late in the afternoon, all I wanted to do was to take a walk and find some food. Juno and I ended up at the Boise Fry Co for a late lunch/early dinner. The bison burger was rather tasty and of course the fry options were plentiful- russet, gold, red, purple, sweet potato and yam. I went with red homestyle fries with garlic aioli on the side.
I remember when I was in Boise on my road-trip in 2016 that there was incredible street art. Sure enough, on the walk back to the hotel, I found the Freak Alley Gallery. This place is just incredible and I could have spent a couple of hours on this single block. Here are a few shots for your viewing pleasure:
Last night was rough. I was reading an article about a 13-year old boy who died in one of the Oregon fires – he died holding his dog in his arms. Needless to say, I started crying. And I couldn’t stop. Because it’s tragic. And horrible. And heart-breaking. And I hoped that the boy and his dog gave each other some comfort during their last moments together. While I was crying, Juno was lying next to me in bed and I just kept my hand on his body while he slept. It took me a long time to fall asleep.
Waking up this morning, it is overcast and the current AQI is 125. Not great but much better than Bend where the AQI is 444. As soon as I finish this post, Juno and I will head out and spend the day walking around downtown. There are a several art galleries that I want to check out. And then I’ll be camped out in front the tv later watching the Lakers play.
I’m going to sign off with pictures of a sign I saw yesterday while Juno and I walked around – they put a smile on my face and in times like these, that’s saying a lot.