Friday, July 29, 2005

The Airstream Chronicles.............Umatilla Indian Reservation, Oregon

When we travel as a family, Marie and I, and our son Blaine, we usually start with a loose itinerary, something we can all agree on. Maybe I propose that we go east of the mountains, since it’s May, and we will find better weather there. Agreed. Maybe Marie has been itching to see some museum or other attraction, maybe one that received a grant from the trust she works for. Sure, Blaine and I say, we’re up for that. And then, in an effort to sweeten the pot for Blaine, we might find a sporting event, or a chess event, or maybe..........a CASINO!

Such was the case in June 2005, when we trekked, with Marie’s mom, and Marie’s sister’s family, to one of our favourite spots in the world, Eastern Oregon, to visit a few museums, and the “Wildhorse Casino”, on the Umatilla Indian Reservation, near Pendleton, Oregon.

The drive to Eastern Oregon, down the Columbia River Gorge, past Multnomah Falls, Hood River, The Dalles, Arlington, and others, is a beautiful straight and flat drive, just right for pulling an Airstream. However, this time we had decided to first stop at the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, further inland, to see the Warm Springs Museum there, so we drove some mighty hilly backroads to get there. We stayed at the less than scenic KOA in Madras, but we had time to visit and barbecue, and stare into
space, so who’s complaining? Plus, there was a comfortable, accessible cabin for Blaine. But because we had booked there, specifically for the accessible cabin, we were rather shocked to find that the campground’s main bathroom was totally inaccessble. There IS a ramp at the bathroom....leading up to one tall step.....oops! During our first day there, we struck out for the Warm Springs Museum, which we found very well done. And then, Blaine bought everything he could find in the gift store which contained huckleberries, don’t ask me why. The second day, we stopped at the Sherman County Museum in Moro, Oregon, smack in the middle of wheat country. The Sherman County Museum has received multiple awards for being a thorough and interesting museum, and we were not disappointed.

We travelled more backroads on our third day out, and ended up at the Wildhorse Casino RV park. Blaine and his Grandma got a room in the hotel, and Marie and I pulled into our space at the park, which is a new park, and although the ammenities are complete, at this time, with immature plants, it lacks privacy. But who cares, we came to GAMBLE!

Having been disabled since birth, with an assortment of disabilities, my step-son Blaine is a hero to me, with all he has to deal with. No one is really sure exactly how his brain works, but it seems okay to me, and if you have a math problem, give it to Blaine. And when it comes to any kind of math based game, chess, poker, blackjack, the man is good. As in great. So I get a kick out of watching him wheel into the casino, and pull into the low wheelchair accessible blackjack table (thank you very much Wildhorse Casino!), and as some of the other players let him wiggle in, I can sometimes feel in the air an attitude of, oh, the poor disabled kid, here to lose his money, awwwwwwww.

Strictly speaking, those guys don’t know who they’re dealin’ with. I have very seldon seen Blaine leave a casino without some of the casino’s money in his pocket. While I throw away my money on the slots and maybe a bit of Roulette, Blaine is busy takin’ the house down. Disabled my ass.

And before we hit the road for home, we made one last stop at the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute on the Umatilla Reservation, http://www.tamastslikt.com/press.asp?id=98, one of the finest museums I have ever encountered. There are original treaty documents. There are fascinating displays of all kinds and including the true stories of the Indian’s struggle in Oregon as told by Indians. The building itself is stunningly beautiful. Out back, they are creating a real Indian Village, using skills handed down for centuries. There is a reference library, and a performance hall, where we watched ancient dances performed by Umatilla tribe members. Of course there is the requisite restaurant, and a very nice, large gift shop. This one gets thumbs up from Ric and Marie.
Some photos of our Airstream are here

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