Columbia Gorge, 1999

If you live in the urban portions of the United States, it is often almost inconceivable to realize how much of the country is empty. Not just lightly populated, but empty.

Information booth in the middle of nowhere, Umatilla, Oregon

Information booth near Umatilla, Oregon. It isn’t at all clear what information is being offered, as there is nothing beyond the gate except miles and miles of miles and miles.

While it seems somewhat contradictory, one of the most accessible ways to see this emptiness is to drive down Interstate 84, which borders the southern (Oregon) side of the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon to Umatilla, Oregon. It is a spectacularly beautiful drive, from the lush evergreen forests of eastern Washington and Oregon to the deserts of the interior. And for most of the drive, the only people you will see are travelers on the Interstate; there are few towns, and no urban sprawl. More photos from along the Columbia Gorge.

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