Journey to Salem – January, 2019 – Part 1

Riverfront Park in Salem is a beautiful view in the fall. An elaborate picnic shelter frames the Riverfront Carousel, while a transforming maple stands sentinel. This image was taken during an October, 2016, visit to Salem.

I left Everson on January 19, 2019, headed for Oregon. Early January was often rainy, and I was itching to hit the road. Saturday was better than a weekday, because I could avoid the I-5 traffic. Heading south, pockets of heavy traffic show up on weekdays. Everett, WA, on down through SeaTac and Federal Way can be slow at certain times of day. Passing Tacoma is sometimes slow, as is the stretch of I-5 along Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Vancouver, WA, and Portland, OR, can present delays, as well. Weekend traveling is usually faster.

Google says it’s 5 hours and 45 minutes from Everson to Salem. Google, however, doesn’t include stops for gas, food, and other necessities. I used to be able to sit in the driver’s seat for hours, but I’m in my mid-70s now, and I find I need to stop periodically, about every hour or two, and stretch, walk around a bit, do a few squats and leg stretches, and perhaps visit a restroom. As a result, the trip took about eight hours. The time lag is important for anyone making road trips across the western US. I generally allow an extra two hours for a six hour Google journey when I’m planning a road trip.

Salem, Oregon, a city of almost 170,000 people in 2017, was founded in 1842, and was made the capital of the Oregon Territory in 1851. In addition to being the state capital, Salem is home to Willamette University, Corban University, and Chemeketa Community College. The capital has had three Capitol buildings. When the previous building burned, the columns that fronted the portico were saved. The remains of those columns are now decorative sculptures in Wilson Park, the Capitol grounds.

The State Capitol State Park in Salem is graced by lofty fir trees and mighty cedars. The Park is also decorated by large chunks of columns saved from the portico of the previous Capitol building that burned in 1938. Here, wood columns and stone columns stand together.

I like Salem. Although it is a full-fledged city of nearly 200,000 folks, it has a small town feel. Situated in the center of the fertile Willamette Valley. According to the USDA, “over 170 different crop and livestock items are produced, including grass and legume seeds, tree fruits and nuts, wine grapes, berries, vegetables, nursery, Christmas trees, and field crops such as wheat, oats, mint and hops, hay, livestock and poultry and miscellaneous field crops.”

Sunday, January 20, was rainy in Salem. My room was on the 4th floor of a motel in Salem. The morning was dark and rainy, and the parking lot across the street was puddled, reflecting lights from the store. A shot from my window is below.

At 7:00 am, a rainy, Salem, Oregon, parking lot reflects the light from tall poles. Wisps of rain-soaked clouds drift across a dark sky. An empty bus stop stands forlornly, waiting for daylight. The image was taken through a hotel room window. The ghost of a photo on the hotel room wall is reflected in the window on the upper right.

After breakfast, I visited Riverfront City Park, a green gem that graces the Willamette River a few blocks from the Oregon State Capitol. A star attraction at Riverfront City Park is the colorful Gilbert House Children’s Museum, bright and eye-catching, even in the rain.

Gilbert House Children’s Museum is a cheerful star Riverfront City Park, across the street from the broad Willamette River in Salem, Oregon. Bright colors and a giant rocking chair on the porch appeal to young children and much older children, alike. In late January, 2019, the Children’s Museum brings light to a rainy, gray day.

Three bridges cross the Willamette River across the street from the Children’s Museum.

Gothic Arches under Marion Street Bridge. Marion Street is carried across the Willamette River as it flows through Salem, Oregon, by the Marion Street Bridge.The bridge is supported by five piers, each of which has two Gothic arches that resemble windows. From the eastern shore near Riverfront Park, looking through the arches is like looking into a mirror facing a mirror, an image echoed repeatedly. The Center Street Bridge is on the left. January, 2019. This image of the Marion Street Bridge in Salem is in my Salem Oregon collection.
Union Street Bridge in Rain. Steel girder pedestrian bridge near the Marion Street Bridge.
Marion Street Bridge. A second view of the bridge with the Center Street Bridge in the background.

A highlight of Riverfront City Park is the Willamette Queen, a brightly painted, red and white sternwheeler that plies the Willamette River. The Willamette Queen’s website describes the experience as, “reminiscent of the days when travel on the Willamette River was only by steam-powered sternwheeler boats.” I shot the Willamette Queen in the rain on my January, 2019, trip, and in the sunshine in October, 2016.

Willamette Queen and Dragon Boats. The Willamette Queen, a stern wheeler that offers cruises on the Willamette River, is docked at Riverfront Park in Salem. Sharing the dock are two dragon boats.http://tomcochranvagabondphotography.com/featured/willamette-queen-and-dragon-boats-tom-cochran.html?newartwork=true
Willamette Queen on a Rainy Day. Salem’s Riverfront Park is the home port for the Willamette Queen, an 87 foot long paddlewheeler that cruises the Willamette River. The Queen was docked on a rainy January day.
Center Street Bridge and Willamette Queen. Riverfront City Park in Salem, Oregon, is the home of the Willamette Queen, a beautiful white stern wheeler with a shiny red paddle wheel. Two colorful dragon boats are also docked with the Queen. The Center Street Bridge crosses the Willamette River on the horizon, basking under azure blue skies in early October.

After some time at the park, I drove across the Marion Street Bridge, westward on Oregon State Route 22, and south on SR 99W to Corvallis, the home of Oregon State University. Because it was a weekend, not many folks were around the University, and after driving around a bit, I headed west through the Oregon Coast Range to Newport, on the Oregon Coast. The road was wet, but without snow, though snow filled in the spaces under the fir trees that lined the highway. Just over an hour and a half and 82 miles from Salem to Newport.

My visit to Newport will be described in the second part of this series.

All of the images in this blog are copyrighted, and available to be purchased as archival paper prints and canvas prints in a variety of sizes, as well as household items such as coffee mugs, towels, shower curtains, and phone covers. Click on the links to enlarge them. That will take you to another web page where the images for sale live. Thanks for reading. Tom

Author: Tom Cochran Vagabond

I photograph and write about the people and places that catch my eye in the Pacific northwest and the Rocky Mountain west. I draw my palette from the landscapes and cities, rivers and highways, mountains and farm and sea coasts of Washington and Oregon, primarily. I sometimes travel farther afield, across Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. I am a seeker of sights, a will-o'-the-wisp in search of the winsome, photographing and describing the unusual, the beautiful, the engaging, and the truly awe inspiring. Welcome to my corner of the world!

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