TIME OUT FOR SPRING!
April 1, 2019 | View PDF
If the readers will be kind enough to indulge me I would like to share recent experiences in the Pacific northwest, specifically the Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Hood and the Oregon coast. This grey haired man loves his family and has not taken his wife on a trip just for the two of us since our son was born six and a half years ago. Yep, bad husband!
Visiting several areas outside of Portland, OR was our choice, there was little reason to consider other places. We neglected a couple of sights that we have previously enjoyed in favor of other activities and seeing a couple of friends that live in the area. We flew from Montgomery to Atlanta and then on to Portland, Oregon. If you are willing to get up really, really early you can take the 5:35 a.m. flight and be in Portland about noon Pacific time. That gives you almost an extra day. After landing we headed east towards Skamania Lodge which is on the Washington State side of the Columbia River in the small town of Stevenson. Before completing our journey to Skamania we made our stop that always welcomes us to the area, Multnomah Falls. Multnomah is a 620 foot waterfall with an upper and lower pool. Next to it is the “lodge” which contains a restaurant and gift shop. You can take the scenic highway route off of 84 and additionally view several other beautiful waterfalls as well as the Vista House, which sits very high above the Columbia River gorge with a magnificent view. The scenic view probably requires a couple of hours if you want to take everything in with moderate visit times to the sights. If you are more in a rush, take the 31 exit off of 84 which allows you to park between the east and west lanes and then re-access 84. The 31 exit allows an easier ingress and egress if you have limited time and only want to see Multnomah.
While there are several nice or interesting hotels around Portland, we chose Skamania Lodge, which is a part of the Destination chain. The lobby has a large spacious area decorated in a rustic Pacific northwest style; a large fireplace is open on both sides. Golf and a ropes course are available and a fire pit is available to sit around at night and make S’mores. We were able to obtain a special rate with a room that allowed us to look upon the Columbia River and Cascade Mountains when we awoke each morning. One day we drove through several small towns, having lunch in White Salmon, WA then crossing the river we participated in a couple of wine tastings in Hood River, OR.
Another day we drove through Portland to the Pacific coast stopping at the Tillamook dairy sampling some cheese but resisted their ice cream on a rather cool day. Good stuff! We continued north up the coast stopping at beaches with large rocks just off the coast (i.e. Canon Beach) and continued further north to Seaside, OR that heavily attracts young adults but also families and retirees. The Pacific coast does not have the beautiful sands of Gulf Shores nor the warmth, but nevertheless is beautiful to see. Though I have been to downtown Portland before, we neglected a visit. Downtown has a great Saturday market, a China town and other attractions but I am told the homeless can become aggressive at times.
The next day we met up with a friend who was nice enough to chauffer us up Mount Hood. It was an incredible drive on a very well maintained road with snow pushed probably five feet above the guardrails lining the road. Driving up the mountain you go through the small village of Government Camp, OR and a short distance up brings you to Timberline Lodge (elevation of 6000 feet on a 11,250 foot mountain). Timberline was built during the Depression and is truly a magnificent structure built by WPA workers. President Franklin Roosevelt dedicated the Lodge and a special armchair was built for him to assist in his physical infirmities. The Lodge fell into disrepair on a couple of occasions, but today is a vibrant ski resort. We enjoyed a warming lunch with our friend Dave before heading back down. Always eager for a new adventure, Dave took us to Edgefield, a large indoor and outdoor venue in nearby Troutdale, OR. Edgefield was built in 1911 as a poor farm. It has several buildings and has its own winery, distillery and brewery. Several musicians were playing in different location and were very enjoyable. Edgefield was developed by the McMenamin brothers and they have also developed other venues in the Washington and Oregon areas using older buildings and the architectural and artistic abilities of the brothers.
Our last day took us into the town of Stevenson where cold winds blew down the river gorge. Even with the die-hard wind surfers of the area we only saw a couple of them enjoying the river. After lunch we headed to the Vancouver, WA area to meet up with some other friends. The couple own a feed store, which I understand, provides feed and other items to the multiple hobby farmers in the area. The area gave us a great view of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and then looking to the southeast, a view of Mt. Hood.
Delta delivered us home safely with an overnight flight. It was sad to leave but we also missed our son and family badly so it was time to be home.
So much incredible scenery to see and it was one of the more enjoyable vacations I have taken. I hope you can experience the area one day.
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