Saturday, August 20, 2016

Gorge and Mountains

July 28 we leave the  Astoria area and get on over to the east side of Portland to spend 4 nights at Ainsworth State Park located in the Columbia River Gorge.  It seems to me that the Columbia River dominates this area like an ocean dominates the coast.  The enormity, strength and impact simply can't be denied.  Ainsworth State Park is located on old Historic Highway 30 which is designated as a Scenic Highway.  Within just a few miles of Ainsworth are 7 highly notable waterfalls. They range in height from approximately 100 feet to 620  feet.  Any one of these, by themselves, would make a worthy destination.  Seven is the mother lode!  The six pictured below are easily accessible.

Probably the most famous, Multnomah Falls (620 ft)

Wahkeena Falls (242 ft)

Bridal Veil Falls (100-160 ft)

Latourell Falls (250 ft)
Horsetail Falls (160 ft)

Etowah Falls (220 ft)

The road to these waterfalls (Historic Rt 30) is a bit of a challenge.  Debbie's research told us that under no circumstances should we be on the road with the camper.  We are soooo grateful for that bit of info. We stayed on Highway 84 to get to the campground.   Later we were on Hwy 30 stopped in traffic.  It seemed so narrow I had my electric powered mirrors folded in. Just to test the space I attempted to fold the mirrors out and they would not extend all the way without hitting a 10 foot retaining wall on the passenger's side.  That's mighty narrow!

Also in the immediate area is the Bonneville Lock and Dam as well as fish hatcheries and a pretty unique road house, The Vista House.

The Vista  House sits high atop a cliff overlooking the gorge.

 In 1917, the Vista House was built to provide travelers with a place to rest and refresh themselves as they made their way down the Gorge   
Without living in the area before and after the building of the dam there's really no way for the casual visitor to truly imagine the impact of the dam.  The taming of the river, power production, fish hatcheries/conservation and the the creation of jobs must have been off the chain (staggering).  The fish hatcheries primarily raise salmon.  But there are some other creatures there worth mentioning.  The have sturgeon.  These jokers can be 10 feet long and  weigh up to 400 pounds.

Meet Herman the Sturgeon, 425 pounds and around 70 yrs old

Then there are the Lamprey Mouth fish.  These suckers, and they are sure enough suckers, are like prehistoric ugly.  They're long snake like fellows with this grisly round mouth that attaches itself to other fish and over time suck the fluids out of the host fish until death. Too nasty!


About 70 miles from Ainsworth is Mt Hood.  How's this - it's a big mountain!  Snow capped and beautiful.

Our vantage point was the Historic Timberline Lodge .

Built by the WPA in the 30's, the building, particularly the interior is a masterpiece.  The name sums up the style of construction.  We've visited many lodges, particularly those in the national parks built by the railroads, but this is wildly impressive.  Look at the gigantic timbers and proportionally matching hardware/strapping.

Way cool.

So 3 of our 4 days we visited mountains, waterfalls, the dam, hatcheries and the Vista House.  One day we left our little haven in the enormous gorge and went to Portland.  The plan was to ride a narrated hop on hop off tour bus.  We did.  We've done this numerous times in other cities.   It's always work out well. This experience was HORRIBLE.  I won't wear you out with my whining but we felt fully justified in requesting a full $62 refund which they willingly granted.  Then we thought we'd just wander around some on our own.  We did find our way to the Powell City of Books store which is multi-floored and covers a city block.  It claims to be the largest bookstore in the WORLD with approximately one million books.   Hard to imagine in our rapidly growing paperless society.

Other then that small success, we just kind of  stumbled around aimlessly.  Our urban skills are apparently quite weak.  So we eventually found our way on to a city bus and took a ride to Washington Park to enjoy the rose garden.

The rose garden includes more than 10,000 plantings of over 500 varieties
The day was not as smooth sailing as we would have like but hardly can we complain!  

Finally, we leave Oregon!  No, really, we have developed a feverish love affair with the state of Oregon and will look forward to returning.  Our first stop in Washington is Silver Lake.  We're here to see Mt St. Helens.  After visiting 2 fantastic visitor centers,  a wonderful learning center, and spending hours gawking I realize there is no way for me to adequately convey the enormity, the  power and the destruction caused by the volcano.  For example: as the mountain was preparing to blow,  the professional predictions were that the blast zone would cover about 25 square miles.  It covered about 230 square miles.  The power was something equivalent to 400 atomic bombs.  150 foot trees, 17 miles away, were instantly toppled.  Downstream from the mountain communities were leveled by mudslides and flooding rivers.  The damage was endless.  Debbie and I both lived on the east coast 17 May 1980 (the day of the eruption).  We both acknowledge that we knew it occurred but didn't have any appreciation for the proportion of the event.  My guess is that is not true for people residing in the Northwest at that time.  So I'll say no more.  We have some pictures.

Mt. St. Helens before eruption

Mt. St. Helens today

The hundreds of square miles of forests desstoyed by the eruption have come back 

At the risk of being redundant, I encourage you to visit Mt St. Helens if you have not previously had that opportunity.  Class dismissed.


1 comment:

  1. The the only reason I would want this class to be dismissed would be for you to come east to see us! Your blog is like a good never wants it to end!!!