Thursday, July 23, 2009

WARM AND GETTING WARMER!

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.

Pasta with shrimp at Indian CreekIts 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 take a break at the lavender farm with Mt. Adams in the background. 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.

The Columbia River boils through the release gates at Bonneville DamOdel 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.

Viewing the Columbia Gorge from the sternwheeler.

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. 

Mossy boulders along the creek.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!

4 comments:

  1. Are you not coming to Spokane???

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  2. Glad you made Bonneville, sorry we were not on duty when you came. As far as the fish counters, strangely enough they mostly have a great time. One time, I was visiting Janet and fish were going by and she was not "pushing buttons". When I got a strange look in my eyes, she commented she was on break. I said, well most of the time I see the counters walking around on break. She said, yeah, but I like to watch the fish. Some jobs just fit some people. Maybe not for me though.Ken and Fran

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  3. Jenny, Spokane is the wrong direction for us right now! We're heading to the Oregon coast, then north: we have a commitment in Kirkland, Washington on 8/8. After that, the plan is to head north to Anacortes, take the ferry over to the Olympic Peninsula to Port Townsend, then start to the south again (taking several weeks to do this loop). But who knows? Plans change daily!

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  4. I love the photograph of the lavender with the mountain in the back. What an incredible spot!

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