We made our way to Spokane to have some repairs done on our camper. We were planning on leaving Champoeg Park the day after Labor Day but we decided to leave a day earlier so that our drive would not be so long. It turned out to be a very good decision.
We got up early so that we could miss most of the Labor Day traffic. We drove through the Columbia River gorge on I-84 where we had explored Multnomah Falls the week before. This time it was a different experience. The gorge was full of smoke.
On the previous Saturday, some teenagers were setting off smoke bombs (this was prohibited due to the extreme draught) in the forest and started the Eagle Creek forest fire. As we drove along I-84 we saw the forest fire but it was on the other side of the Columbia River. The conditions were deteriorating quickly. It was difficult to see the mountains and the fire had produced so much smoke that the air quality rating was “very unhealthy” for the entire area. The officials closed all of the trails along that section and people were warned not to go outside if at all possible. We made our way through the valley and reached our destination on the Oregon/Washington border east of the gorge in the early afternoon.
During Labor Day, the fire exploded gobbling up 5 miles worth of timber. The result was that the fire jumped the Columbia River and was threatening the Multnomah Falls Lodge and other buildings on the Oregon side of the river. This prompted officials to close I-84 indefinitely. The last we heard, the fire has consumed some 33,000 acres and is only 5% contained. Our daughter Ashley told us that there is ash falling on Portland. The officials have likened this to the Mt. St. Helen’s eruption due to the poor air quality and the falling ash. (I-84 is expected to be closed through this weekend)
Eagle Creek Fire (Youtube Link of Fire Timelapse)
The Eagle Creek fire is not the only one burning in the Northwest. There are 91 wildfires currently burning in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. Consequently our drive to Spokane and our stay there was overcast due to the large amount of smoke. Compounding the fires is the fact that it has been unusually dry. While in Spokane, we learned that the area had not received any measurable rain for 69 days. The record set in the 1900’s is 73 days. There was no rain forecasted for the foreseeable future so they will probably set a new record. I wish we could sent some of the rain water from Texas and Florida to the Northwest region.
We got our camper repaired (Thank you, Freedom RV!). Even though we had to backtrack to have the repairs done, it was worth it. We spent two nights at the dealership and the people at Freedom RV were great.
We have said “So long” to the Pacific Northwest and are making our way toward southern Utah. Slowly the skies are clearing and there is less smoke today. Hopefully, that trend will continue.