As we move further into July, our weather has turned steadily warmer. We’ve spent a good deal of time dreaming up cooling excursions – and my photos today reflect that focus.
Its been a week of visitors. Gloria and Tom, now traveling through Oregon, were our neighbors in Sacramento last May. After sightseeing around Hood River last Wednesday, they stopped for a visit. We had dinner at Divots restaurant at Indian Creek Golf Course, looking across the manicured golf course to snowy, looming, Mt. Hood. We had fun catching up with their travels since May - not so much ours, since we’ve be mostly stationary.
On Saturday, our friends from Canby, Richard and Marlene, loaded their three young grandsons into their motorhome and came over to spend the weekend. A couple hours after they departed on Sunday, my long time friends Becky and Jewel arrived from Sacramento to spend a couple days. Jewel drove home yesterday, and I dropped Becky at the airport at 4 pm. Today, life is back to “normal”.
Becky and Jewel hadn’t been to Hood River or the Columbia Gorge before, so I was in full tour guide mode. We started at Panorama Point with its stunning views of Mt. Hood and the fruit orchards spread in the valley south of Hood River, then rolled along the “Fruit Loop”, the scenic drive through the nearby orchards and tiny agricultural towns.
The lavender farm is a MUST stop, with even more flowers blooming now than a few weeks ago when my parents visited. Both Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams were in full view, and Becky took the same 40+ photographs that I have taken from all points of the farm. It’s irresistible!
The afternoon was hot, hot, hot, and we all retired to our respective abodes for naps and showers, then we were back out to dinner at Divots restaurant at the golf course. Besides the great view and good food, the chairs at Divots are well upholstered and super comfortable – a great place to sit and catch up with old (or new) friends.
Odel and I had not yet made it to Bonneville Dam (though we had been to the fish hatchery). When Tuesday promised to be another hot day, Jewel, Becky and I charted a day on the water, beginning at the dam, which had been highly recommended by Gloria and Tom. Watching the Columbia churn through the release gates was mesmerizing on a hot morning! We learned the history of the dam from a ranger, and got a peek at the generators in the powerhouse.
Have you ever wondered what would be the world’s most boring job (I used to do this back when I was working)? I thought it might be toll collector at a toll bridge, but I’ve changed my mind: fish counter! We spent about 10 minutes waiting for fish to swim past the viewing windows as they came up the fish ladders, peering through the windows for about 60 seconds, then scanning the room and the other visitors until the cries of one of the vacationing families alerted us as another fish swam past in the hazy water.
Well, there is a person who has the job of staring at the window and pushing a button each time a fish passes by. About six different kinds of fish swim past, so the excitement would be determining which button to push. Chinook? Smelt? Steelhead? Push. Wait. Don’t look away…. keep looking, looking… oh, push again. I wouldn’t last a day.
After our tour of the dam, we had just enough time left for a picnic in the shade of the big trees at the historic Bonneville fish hatchery. Bellies filled, we zipped over to the sturgeon and trout ponds – more lovely, cool water – then headed to Cascade Locks to board the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler.
We took the 2 hour excursion, the same ride Odel and I had taken in June with the Oregon State Park volunteers. Becky and Jewel enjoyed it was thoroughly as Odel and I had, listening to the captain narrate points of current and historical interest while we watched the windsurfers, the birds, the shoreline. It’s a relaxing interlude in a day of “touristing”, and we recommend it if you visit the gorge.
Back home for showers, then we were off to dinner at Dixie’s Southern Grub – yes, AGAIN! :)
Jewel had driven to Hood River, and she took off early on Wednesday morning. I worked the morning shift in the visitor center; when Odel took over (30 minutes early, nice guy that he is), I picked Becky up and we spent the afternoon meandering through the green west end of the gorge on the way to her 5:30 flight out of the Portland airport.
My favorite short hike, to Wahclella Falls, was first on the agenda – a two mile walk through a humid, green, mossy canyon to a beautiful waterfall at the canyon’s end. After Becky took all the photos she could handle, we had enough time to sit creek side, absorbing the water’s sounds, watching swallows dart and dippers dip while we soaked up the ambiance of the gorge.
Near Multnomah Falls, we picked up the historic highway so we could visit Vista House on Crown Point. With Becky, I took time to examine the exhibits, photos of building and opening of Vista House in 1918. Becky was busy with her camera again; the expansive views of the gorge are tantalizing. I’m sure she and I have identical shots from each of the places we visited in the past three days!
Now our guests are gone, and hot, hot, hot weather is on the way (102 forecast for Monday). Also on the way is the next host for our trail! A few days ago, Ranger Matt mentioned to Odel that the next host would like to arrive earlier if possible… would we like to leave early?
Heck, yes! It’s a great volunteer job, but we are so ready to see new sights and hunt up some cooler weather. Most of our friends who have traveled the coast this summer have complained about the cold and fog, so that’s where we will be heading on Tuesday. :) Yippee!