Oregon Gone Wild – Columbia River Gorge
So I finally made the trip to Portland, OR to visit Adam and meet his wife Stacey. I flew in Thursday night. Stacey was flying home to visit her family for the weekend and Adam was able to drop her off and pick me up.
Adam and I went back to their condo to drop my stuff. He has a great place in downtown Portland. We spent the first evening walking around his neighborhood. It has just about everything you could ask for and a nice vibe to boot. Eventually we stopped at the Blue Moon Tavern which is a McMenamins. We only went to a couple of them and the Blue Moon was sort of low key compared to the other one we went to (more on that later). We sat outside and I had my first taste of Oregon microbrews. This was to become a central theme of my trip. Microbrews were ubiquitous and I’m pretty sure I didn’t drink the same thing twice. It was all really good. We usually got samplers before making a selection; it was sort of like doing wine tastings. I usually deferred to Adam and let him pick things for me (he always made good choices).
We both took Friday off and Adam took me hiking and site seeing. We went for breakfast at a place called Mother’s. Then it was off to Angels Rest. On the way we needed gas, I didn’t realize it, but in Oregon you are not allowed to pump your own gas. Apparently New Jersey is like that too, though I have never gotten gas there. At first I thought, “This is sort of neat,” but as the trip progressed the novelty quickly wore off. It seems in a lot of places service is slow, and it can be annoying to have to sit and wait for something that you can just as easily do yourself.
Angels Rest is off of the historic Columbia River Gorge Highway and before we hiked it we drove up to the Vista House. The road was narrow and Adam likes to drive fast so it was a little harrowing at times, but I tried to be cool and not let on that my heart was beating a little faster than normal. The views – and let me just say this is true of everywhere we went – were spectacular! The Vista House it deceiving too, it looks small from the outside, but there is a whole bunch more of it underground.
We headed back to Angels Rest and hiked up to some rock cliffs overlooking the Columbia River. It was probably 2-2.5 miles up with some decent ascents in places. We were able to talk the whole time so I’d say it was a moderate hike. It was a beautiful sunny day. It was pretty hot on the way up (and down), but once we hit the top we came around to the side that gets all of the wind and we lounged on some rocks for a bit and cooled off.
We then headed down the highway a few miles to Multnomah Falls. There were actually several falls along the highway, but this was one setup for tourists. Adam bought us snow cones, which turned out to be colored ice with not much flavor. There is actually a pull off into the center of I-84 with a parking area and a tunnel going under one side to allow people to stop and see the falls.
Next we headed further up the highway to Bonneville Lock and Dam. There is a fish ladder to allow salmon and other fish to swim upstream. They have a viewing room where you can watch the fish swim by. Directly off of it is a small office where someone has to sit and count all of the fish that swim by – I couldn’t imagine doing that all day. There is also a fish hatchery and so we went over to check it out. They raise white sturgeon there, and had several that were very large (like 10-15 feet long).
A little further up I-84 and we were in Hood River. We went to a place called the Big Horse Brew Pub. I was sweaty and dirty from the day’s adventures, but Adam didn’t seem to care so I just let it go. Hood River is built on a hill or the side of a mountain or something – anyway the brew pub was at the top, and we had a great view of the river. Adam told me hood river was famous for wind and kite surfing, but while we were there not many people were out on the water. We had a good meal. I tried tofu but I didn’t really care for it — the texture is weird. Of course, we had more good microbrews. I really wish I had kept a diary of all the different things I tried.
After dinner we decided to drive around Hood Mountain. Adam took me to the Timberline Lodge, which was used in the opening footage of The Shining. There was still snow on the ground, probably enough to go skiing. We walked around the inside of the lodge. It was an amazing place considering the time it was built and the tools they had available at the time. The view was really cool from there too. We could see the Three Sisters and a couple of other peaks that I can’t recall the names of.
We got back to Adam’s late sometime after 10. During the hike we had been talking about Guitar Hero. I had never played it. I sort of look down on the game because I feel like it really has nothing to do with playing the guitar. Adam’s claim was that there are aspects that could help improve “real” guitar ability. I totally disagreed. We played it for a bit when we got back to his place. Afterwards I knew I was right. He then played me the South Park episode about Guitar Hero — that pretty much says it all, especially the scene in which Stan’s is auditioning a new partner.
Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of Oregon Gone Wild.
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