Yes, we are winding down our “weekend”, Monday and Tuesday. Tomorrow – back to work!
We had a nice surprise today: our friends Diane and Frank Gruelle, spending the summer near Portland, called to ask if we were free for socializing this afternoon. Heck yes! We zipped out onto our trail for exercise and were just returning home when they called from the gate.
After they visited our site and we caught up on recent life events, we headed off to one of the restaurants I had been wanting to try, the Sixth Street Bistro & Loft. It sounded better on the website than it was in reality; we all were a little disappointed with our food.
It seemed to be a problem with seasonings. My Blackened Salmon Wrap was too dry and bland, needing more sauce and flavor. Diane’s onion soup lacked the depth of flavor in the broth that she expected, and Frank’s tartar sauce for his Fish and Chips was “different” – and not in a good way. Odel’s comment on his hamburger (local, natural, hormone-free beef) was “it needed some Lawry’s seasoned salt and pepper”. :) I was happy we had gone with friends, as the socializing tempered our disappointment with the meal!
Hood River is in the middle of the Gorge’s transition from green, damp, and mossy on the west end to dry, open, and sunny on the east end. This weekend’s activities encompassed both.
On Friday, as soon as we closed the Visitor Center, we hopped in the car and headed 30 miles west to a trail promising a easy/moderate hike to one of the lesser-known Gorge waterfalls, Elowah (top photo). The small parking lot was full, so we squeezed into a “sort of” space and set out.
The trail was exactly what our (highly recommended) guidebook, Curious Gorge, had promised. At the first fork, we headed up, zig-zagging back and forth through the heavy forest on switchbacks carrying us to the top of the falls. Part of the trail (this photo) was hacked out of solid basalt and the railing was much appreciated by me – the cliff fell straight down at my feet. The view across the Gorge was stunning, the norm around here.
Coming back down, we took the other fork, dropping down more tight switchbacks to the bottom of the falls, where we stood in a cloud of mist watching the water plunge into a deep pool. Magical!
When I was in the Hood River Library recently, I noticed something interesting: library patrons can check out a free pass for the Merryhill Museum on the eastern end of the Gorge, on the Washington Side. This is one of the places I hoped we would visit while here so, on Saturday morning, I zipped over, checked out the pass (saved us $13) and away we went.
Merryhill Museum was built by Sam Hill, the man who dreamed the Columbia River Highway, where we are now volunteering. As we’ve learned more about this road and its history, my interest in Sam Hill has grown. At one time, he owned almost 6,000 acres in Washington, where he – a Quaker – planned to develop a Quaker farming community. Merryhill was to be his home, but the community never materialized and the building was never completed as a home. He converted it to a museum during his lifetime; now it hosts traveling exhibits and has the best permanent Native American exhibit I have ever seen.
Sam Hill’s property is on the far eastern end of the Gorge. Drive up out of the Gorge either north or south and you are in the high, dry desert. It is a completely different experience than the western gorge.
I took this picture from another of Sam Hill’s constructions, located further east on his property: a full-sized replica of the original Stonehenge, built by Hill as a memorial to the Klickitat County residents killed in WWI. Look at those brown hillsides, so different from the area around Hood River and to the west, but beautifully grand. Yes, that’s Mt. Hood looming in the background – there is no getting away from it!