Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On the Road: (Pacific Northwest, 2011) Vancouver, WA

Starting out this morning I had intended to head south from Portland, having arrived back there late at night from Victoria, BC, but I got on the highway going north instead of south and found myself in Vancouver--Vancouver, Washington, that is, not back in Canada--in other words, just north of Portland. In finding my way back to the highway I kept seeing signs pointing to Fort Vancouver and references to the Hudson's Bay Company. Intrigued, I decided to follow them. Last time I posted here I remarked that the downside to a largely unplanned road trip like this is that you sometimes miss interesting opportunities because of timing. The flip side is that you sometimes stumble upon things worth seeing.

Fort Vancouver was established by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1825 and eventually grew to a community of about 800 inhabitants at its peak in the mid-1840s. This was the Bay Company's administrative headquarters for all of the northwest, from the Pacific Ocean to the Rockies in the east and San Francisco to the south. It was the center of profitable trapping, trading, and agricultural operations. It appears to have been largely self-sufficient, with its own carpenters, gunsmiths, smithy, and trading post, as well as housing and extensive gardens and orchards, some of which have been recreated. An interesting way to start a day that was otherwise spent heading south as far as Eugene. I took Highway 99, through wine country and farmland, rather than I-5, as the scenery is so much better along the smaller road. Tired from yesterday's long drive, I plan to stay in Eugene tonight and make one more stop before arriving home, probably in Reno because of the cheap casino-town hotels. There's also a good wine bar there I discovered on the way north.

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