Monday, October 11, 2010

day 4

This day dawned cloudy and with a strong chance of rain. We decided to take our chances with the weather and head a bit east of Portland to drive through the Columbia River Gourge and see some waterfalls and Mt. Hood. The sun actually poked through the clouds as we began our drive, but by the time we reached Multnomah Falls there was a steady misting drizzle dampening our enthusiasm. Being the intrepid tourists we are, we stopped at the Falls and joined a lot of other touring folks who didn’t know enough to get in out of the rain any more than we did. Of course, since Multnomah Falls is billed as the second largest waterfall in the country we couldn’t justify not stopping to see it. So we got a bit wet and we got a few pictures.

That walkway bridge visible in the picture at the bottom middle is a popular viewpoint, but even in the best of conditions reaching it would have been beyond my physical capabilities so we contented ourselves with the long view.

Leaving Multnomah Falls we took the scenic drive past several more smaller waterfalls until we saw a sign for the Bonneville Dam. Curious, we decided to take a look. At the entry to the dam site we were stopped by a polite but earnest young man in uniform who inquired if we had any weapons with us. We did have a corkscrew that we used each evening to open our wine bottles, but I held my tongue lest even a small joke about weapons or their use might have me rotting in federal prison for the rest of my life. It’s just a damn dam. Lighten up.

The dam was interesting for the sole reason that it provided a fish ladder for the spawning salmon who instinctively head up the Columbia River to their birthplace. We were able to see some of those determined fish in the viewing windows. Some of the other people there had their favorite fish they were cheering for in their struggle to swim against the flow. It was fascinating to watch and somewhat mesmerizing.

We could have stood there watching all the rest of the day, but the road called and Mt Hood was looming somewhere down that road.

We found the road to the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood even though the clouds and rain made it impossible to see the actual mountain. As we climbed higher the weather got worse. The rain was falling heavily now and the wind was blowing. We had the sensation of being in the middle of a storm cloud. We reached the Lodge finally and braved the blowing wind and rain to get inside. Timberline Lodge was first built in the 30’s as a WPA project and is currently being refurbished with some of the stimulus money the government is throwing around. It is a wonderfully crafted edifice of post and beam construction, a tribute to the men who worked so hard to build it. It is a working hotel that was filled with visitors, most of whom looked like the hardy outdoorsy type that thrives on mountainsides. They all looked bummed by the weather which was keeping them inside instead of huffing and puffing up and down the mountain. I was just happy to get back in the car and drive down out of the storm cloud.

The rain stopped as we got back down the mountain (at least I think we were on Mt. Hood—we never did actually see the thing) and continued on the loop around and back to Portland. Even with the lousy weather it was an enjoyable day.

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