I started this morning awake before 7 and moving before 7 too. I was dressed early and was writing the blog before 8ish. I will leave out some details, but I had to get cleaned up before and was happy it was a minor clean-up!
Breakfast was later; I had written the blog first and was picked up at McDonald’s. It was cheap and straightforward, and soon, we were on our way to the Columbia Gorge and our first day stop. No church today as we have a full day planned.
Vista House is still quite dramatic, even after years of going there. The last time I was there, Susie got a ride in the special hidden elevator to reach the downstairs bathroom. The people that ran the place were very kind and helpful. I thanked the current folks and told them how happy I was when their peers helped last time. They were delighted to hear an optimistic story about Vista House.
The Columbia River is low; I could see the bottom and the channel! Usually, it is too deep to see those details. I was told it was over fifteen feet low. Hood River, which we saw later, is primarily snow melt and flows into the Columbia; it was more a stream than a river on Sunday.
There were many tour buses, more like vans, at Vista House. The sights are now protected, and limited availability tickets are required to visit the falls and the historical highway; none were available to me. Next time I will have to plan more and use the tours. I understand that this cuts down pollution, traffic, and wear and tear at the Gorge and is now mandated to some degree.
Hood River was next on my plan. We did pass by Multnomah Falls but just took pictures from the car on I-84. The Gorge is its usual impressive sight, and the fire damage from 2020 is fading, but some parts are silver with the killed pine trees. Unfortunately, the trees grew on the side of the gorge cliffs, and there was no known way to put out a vertical fire–I remembered and had to be left to burn. It was an awful year, 2020.
We reached Hood River in less than an hour, with traffic moving near the speed limits and often faster, so not Portland-Beaverton. I parked near the river, and we went to look and, in the case of my guests, play in the river. The new surfing thing at Hood River, the galactic center of river windsurfing (no sharks), was a kite (a sail on a post on the board is no longer done) to pull you. Smaller handheld kites for the newer and less invested and larger ribbon kites for the strong and talented. Huge rigs for the well-invested, competent, and from what I could see older folks. I noticed the vast and fantastic windsurfing was done by a gray-haired community. I pointed that out to one of the surfers as he walked by with a 12-meter wing that would look good on a dragon, and he smiled and said, “yes, it takes wisdom.”
We next headed for a late lunch at Trillium Cafe. It was understaffed, as was everywhere, and soon turned away customers. Our lunch took a while, and I had some over-hopped sour beer called Viking, but I was calling it Viking Piss. I had a BLT, which was perfect.
We returned to the road and soon headed over the hills on highway 35 to the volcano, Mt. Hood. I did stop a few times for photos and at a fruit stand and got some stone fruit. The valley between the mountain and the river is the prime place to get stone fruit–I have some beautiful peaches and nectarines. Twenty years ago, I remembered them having issues with cold weather, but not anymore. The Hood River supplies the water for the vast acres of fruit trees.
We finally reached Timberline Lodge, one of the WPA 1930s-built lodges, and had a light dinner/snack there. It is always lovely to sit and relax in the lodge. I did an overnight stay years ago, and I would recommend it.
Oddly, price increases and inflation seem to have skipped Timberline, and the food and beer were not more costly than a Tap House now. There will likely be an update soon. The room rate was still reasonable too.
I managed a view from the lodge photo. The gray line of clouds is smoke.
We drove back from the mountain on Highway 26, completing my usual tourist loop.
We reached Susie’s place, hummingbird house, late–after nine. She was in her recliner and was delighted to see us, even late. We chatted for a while in the living room. Soon, it was time to head home.
I got us home, and we unloaded the car. I wrote for a bit on my story for the Naval Institute contest hoping to finish it to submit it. It is a lot of work. I got to bed at about 11PM.