That’s a gravel road. It’s not a good thing when you run out of pavement. Especially hauling a trailer. Thanks Google maps. And no cell service. Fortunately, we found a place to turn around and a lady on a tractor who told us we weren’t the first ones to be led astray by Google. It was a good lesson for us. If we had looked more closely at the directions, we would have seen it wasn’t taking us to the campground we were going to. Instead it was taking us on a road that dead ended at the Snake River.
So we had headed east into Washington because I had read about the beauty of the area. In particular, we wanted to visit Palouse Falls State Park and drive the Palouse Scenic Highway. When we got to the turnoff for the state park we were told it was closed indefinitely because a young man had fallen from the top of the falls a few days before and died. The body was stuck in the vortex of the falls and they didn’t want people there when it finally surfaced. So, so sad! It was disappointing that we could see this spectacular place but in the scheme of things…….
But the drive was beautiful, although very different from the western part of the state. A cemetery:
Camped right on the Snake River.
There’s not much to do around here which is good for us to have a little down time. But at the advice of the campground host, we drove a couple miles down the road to a dam run by the US Army Corp of Engineers. We were given a two hour private tour that took us to see the inter workings of the dam including everything they do to keep fish traveling up and down the river. It was great!
We weren’t allowed to take pics on the tour but I was able to take this one in the visitor center. This is a window into the fish ladder. That Chinook salmon is at least 24″ long. Thought the grandkids might like this.
And us in hard hats.
Tomorrow is Saturday. We wish we were home on Saturdays. We will miss watching Selah and Duke play indoor soccer. We will miss watching Slater and Cruise play their Little League games and hanging with Maverick on the sidelines. We will miss hanging at the beach with Stone and Hux.
We’ve had fabulous weather the last few days! Here’s a few pics from our travels along the Historic Columbia River Highway.
Some of the historic road is closed due to a fire last fall that was started by a 15 year old boy shooting off fireworks. We got to see most of the things we wanted to see which we are very thankful for.
Bridal Veil Falls:
Multnomah Falls. The trail to the upper part of the falls was closed due to the fire but still a beautiful view.
Mt. Hood is visible from many places in the Portland area. From afar it is the only mountain with snow on it.
We drove up to the ski area at Timberline Lodge. It was so windy and cold but so beautiful. There were some disappointed skiers and snowboarders there since the wind was too strong to operate the chair lifts.
We drove on to Hood River which is a beautiful farming area. These pictures all have the other side of Mt. Hood off in the distance.
As we leave Oregon tomorrow here are some of my reflections on the state.
- It is a beautiful state and we have loved seeing the diversity in God’s creation.
- It’s wet. Which is why it is so beautiful..
- There are wild blackberry bushes everywhere! I wish we were going to be here in August.
- Apparently, Oregonians don’t like to make their own coffee. There are tiny drive through coffee places with long lines everywhere.
- They pump your gas for you. I think you aren’t even allowed to pump your own.
- No sales tax!
- They have roundabouts everywhere. I think we could learn something from them. They seem like a really efficient way to manage traffic.
- The locals have been very friendly.
- If you haven’t been there, I highly recommend it!
Back to the coast. One of the joys of not being too committed to a plan is to change it! We had planned to stay at Nehalem Bay State Park for a few days but on the way there we passed a marina with rv camping. It looked like the kind of place that we love so we turned around (not easy pulling a trailer) to see if they had availability. We loved it! They had a communal fire pit and you could purchase fresh LIVE crab and they would steam it for you. It was fabulous. And we had our first few days of sunshine after leaving home.
Just a reminder. I do not enhance my pics in any way other than cropping when necessary. What you see is what we saw. I also don’t remove my wrinkles. 😂
North to Ecola State Park. That’s Ecola, not Ecoli.
And then north to Fort Stevens State Park which is at the northernmost point of western Oregon. John liked being able to drive on the beach.
Astoria is on the Oregon side at the mouth of the Columbia River.
This is Astoria’s version of the food truck. This place sells fish and chips made with fresh tuna. It was delicious. During the summer crowds line up down the block. People often ask how we find out about the places and things we visit. The Bowpicker is a good example. Whether in a campground, restaurant or wherever, people ask about where we are from and where we are going. (If we go into a restaurant with a bar, we try to eat there instead of at a table. It’s the best way to get tips from the bartender or locals sitting next to you.) Someone in a campground told us about the Bowpicker. But it was also mentioned in TripAdvisor under “Things to Do” in Astoria. I always check TripAdvisor when we are headed to a town or city for ideas of things we should see.
We took a day trip across the river to Cape Disappointment in Washington. So named because it was so difficult, and often impossible, to go from the Pacific up the river due to the strong currents. We went on a hike to a lighthouse while there. I particularly liked the sign on the trail. These words are so true!
These few days were awesome with the weather getting better and better. We are off to Portland, the Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Hood. The weather is suppose to be in the 80’s!
I don’t normally do a post two days in a row but today definitely was an adventure! We had originally planned to go south to Crater Lake but the road around the lake is closed due to heavy winter snow and there is only one open road to a viewing spot. Since that spot only has a view of the lake about 50% of the time and the forecast was not good, we decided to skip it. It’s one of the downfalls of traveling during non-peak times. So we left central Oregon headed back to the coast which involves going over the Cascades again. The weather was rainy but I looked for travel advisories for the road we had taken coming into central Oregon a few days before. It called for some snow but last time we only had a few flurries so no big deal, right? Well this was definitely more of a storm than last time. The snow plow was out but we never saw them plowing the west bound lanes. John did a great job, keeping our speed between 10 and 20 mph. It was scary! Thank God for four-wheel drive and the manual function on our trailer brakes. For our kids: Dad says I’m a much better passenger in the snow than on the sand dunes. It was scary but fun and beautiful.
After the snow, it was a beautiful drive through the Willamette Forest.
And then on to our second adventure of the day. We had noticed a place called Kiger Island on the map. Since it was only a few miles out of our way and Kiger is not a common name, we decided to check it out. It’s a small island near Corvallis with only one paved road.
According to what we read, in the 1800’s Reuben Kiger bought the island. When Reuben died the property was divided between his two sons, Dick and John. Both of them played fast and loose with their inheritance, being good at singing, fishing, and drinking. John Kiger’s downfall was gambling which cost him the family farm in the early 1900’s. Rumor is he lost it in a poker game. Well, that explains a lot!
We headed inland to spend some time in the area of Bend and Sisters. We did drive through some snow flurries going over the Cascades but no big deal:
We camped in a city campground in Sisters. Full hookups and for most of the time we were the only ones in the campground. We woke up the first morning to a little snow on the ground and deer munching on the grass.
Sisters is a cute little town:
We drove to Bend and walked along the Deschutes River. The river walk was nice but Bend is just another big town in my opinion. We much preferred the small size of Sisters. We did enjoy watching the surfers in the river. They have installed plates in the river that create a wave that can be surfed. No. John did not try it. But he sure enjoyed watching.
We drove about a half hour out of town to take a hike to Sahalie and Koosah Falls. We again encountered snow as we drove there. We got to the trail and there was snow on the ground, 34 degrees and raining. Many people would have said no way! But not us. The falls were awesome and we’ve seen quite a few. We were so glad that we didn’t let the conditions stop us from going there.
Leaving Sisters, we drove a half hour north and the terrain changed drastically. We spent an afternoon between rain drops at Smith Rock State Park. I think the pictures speak for themselves.
The area is extremely popular with rock climbers. There were hundreds of rock climbers, both novice and experienced. It was crazy watching the experienced climbers. I wanted to shout “does your mother know what you are doing?” You can see a few in this picture. The picture doesn’t really do justice to how high up they were.
This sign was on another hike. That’s my umbrella at the top of the picture.
And another hike. In the rain.
And a final rain picture. On our way to central Oregon we stayed overnight in a casino parking lot. We’ve found that when we just need a place to pull over and sleep, Indian casinos are preferable to Walmart. They usually have large parking areas designated for overnighters and security detail. They don’t even require that you gamble or eat there. So it was 9am when we watched this elderly couple with a big rv, get in their electric scooters and head to the casino. In the rain.
Inspite of the rain and snow, we found central Oregon delightful! Now we are backtracking to the coast and traveling back east along the Columbia River.