Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Columbia River and Portland

We spent our first full day in Oregon doing the scenic "Mt. Hood Loop" drive that starts in Portland, goes east along the historical Columbia River highway to Hood River, then goes south through the fruit orchards down to Mt. Hood, and then returns west back into Portland.

The day was mainly overcast only a few moments of sun (so no spectacular shots of the Gorge from Vista Point were to be had on this day), so I took a few shots from inside the art deco Vista House instead.

The Columbia River Gorge has 3 roads that follow it from east to west-- a 2-lane highway on the Washington side, I-84 on the Oregon side, and for 30 brief, spectacular miles, the original Columbia River highway (also on the Oregon side). It's narrow twisty road, with stone rails and bridges, travels midway up the bluffs and features stops at a half dozen gorgeous waterfalls. The longest and most spectacular example is Multnomah Falls, with it's stone bridge crossing halfway up the 620-foot falls. Mom and I ate lunch at the beautiful stone lodge at the base of the falls. Afterwards, I set out to take pictures of the Falls--- waiting, waiting, and waiting for other tourists to get off the bridge so I could get my shots!

On our way to Hood River, we stopped in the little town of Cascade Locks and I happened to spot some California poppies on a hillside that were in full bloom. In California, the poppies usually done blooming by early May, so I knew this would likely be the only place I'd see them this late in the year (so out came the photo gear again while Mom and Millie patiently waited in the car)!

Hood River was our next stop, the Windsurfing capital of the West Coast (and where my brother and all his surfing gear are headed to later this summer). You don't see many towns that have windsurfers on their road signs, but Hood River does!

The drive south to Mt. Hood was beautiful with many orchards, our first glimpse of Mt. Hood, and these lupine growing wild along the side of the road:
When we arrived to Mt. Hood, it was completely foggy at the base of the mountain. No chance of seeing the peak unless we drove up to we did! As we got up to the historic Timberline Lodge, at 6000 feet, we finally were above the clouds and able to see some of the peak.

The rest of our week in Portland was cold, overcast, and rainy. I worked during the days from the hotel while Mom explored downtown Portland. We decided to splurge one night to eat at the landmark Jake's Famous Crawfish restaurant. Neither of us tried the crawfish (which actually looked quite amazing), but their desserts were "to die for" and service was superb.

We left Portland just before their annual Rose Festival was to start, so decided to take in their city Rose Garden instead--a delightful park!

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