Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Beautiful Gorge

 Today we had planned to go up the Columbia River as far as the town of Hood River, crossing over the bridge there, and coming back on the Washington side. We saw this sign naming a waterfall we hadn't stopped to see on previous trips. It looked too intriguing to pass up this time.

The stream was broken into several stair steps or benches as it dropped from high above, according to the 'lay of the land', and made several waterfalls. The 'Dell' was actually a sort of high sided bowl made up of moss and fern covered rocky cliffs, very beautiful.

 I love this old and mossy walled trail. It's obviously been there a long, long time.

 Mr. Keith at the bottom of the trail.

 The Old Columbia River Highway is so beautiful! As we drove along in our little Focus we tried to picture the model T's and similar ancient autos that must have been the first vehicles to travel this route. It's narrow and curvy and shadowed by huge firs and maples along the way, though very well kept up for the modern travelers.

 On the Washington side we cruised into White Salmon, a quaint little town right across the river from Hood River. I love this old Catholic Church.

And last, this photo shows why we can never drive our 5th wheel on this highway, the one on the Washington side! At 13 feet 9 inches we'd lose part of our roof. There were 4 or 5 tunnels bored through the rock walls at river's edge, some lower than this 13 foot 6 inch one.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Five Mountains

 We'd heard about a drive that would take us to a lookout point where we could see 5 mountains, so when we saw the day would be sunny and fairly clear, we headed out to the road to Larch Mountain, up the Gorge a ways. This picturesque bridge is just east of Troutdale, the "Gateway to the Columbia River Gorge".

  The highway took us through some incredibly huge trees, if not "old" growth, at least quite old. I didn't have anything for comparison so in the picture you can't really see how big this tree is. I was impressed! There were lots of trees this gigantic, and in some places the forest was so thick and dark it almost looked like evening, though we were making our trip in the brightest morning light.

The highway ended at the top of Larch Mountain, an old volcanic crater. I had been looking for larches (tamaracs) all the way up but didn't see any. When I read the sign at the top it said the old-time loggers had actually cut down Noble firs and claimed they were larches, fooling the mill operators, because the larch tree was more profitable. What a trick! So, there were no larches up here, ever! After parking the car we headed up a pretty trail composed mostly of old railroad ties.

The clouds did not co-operate entirely, but we did see 4 mountains. Mt. Hood to the south was a gorgeous sight and was, of course, the closest. Mt. Jefferson appeared a little further on, at least the tippy top of it.

To the north we saw the tips of Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens. Mt. Rainier was nowhere to be seen, but we knew it was there!

The lookout platform on Larch Mountain is 4056 feet high. It was a fairly steep drive up from the river, about 25 miles from our park. We will definitely need to come back here on a cloudless day, but that may not happen any time soon. The snow will come, making the road as well as the trail up difficult to travel. We are so glad we were able to see this beautiful place and our breathtaking mountains on this lovely fall day.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fairview RV Park

I took a walk in the park the other day. The park is so huge, 407 sites, that a person could get lost, or at least get quite a bit of exercise! These scenes are just below the upper level where our rig is parked. The fall colors are beautiful.

This little cabin is used to house exercise equipment for the campers. There is a pretty pond beside it, to the right in the picture, with a table and bench.

And here is the pond. The fountain is running continuously. I wonder if it gets cold enough here for the spray to freeze.

The pond comes complete with ducks! Hence the sign in the first picture. I'm imagining that in the spring and summer there are lots of ducks and ducklings and maybe some geese. Today there were only these 2 mallard couples swimming around. They were quite friendly! City ducks used to being fed, I'm surmising.

The park has 4 levels. The first level has the entrance, the office, the swimming pool, laundry, restrooms, meeting room, and is where the off-season overnight campers are put. Heading back up the hill from the pond (it was a short walk after all!) I pass the second level where these long-termers are staying. The spaces are neat and well kept and the RVs are newer models, the park standard.

Time to go back home, the end of my walk — climbing the incline to the first level where we are parked. That's my 'house' showing through the trees! I have decided that on the next sunny day I will take my iPad and maybe some duck food and sit by the pond. I hope my feathered friends will be there!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Brothers! And Portland!

 We knew that when we accepted a job at the Portland/Fairview RV Park we'd be near some relatives and some old friends. Mr. Keith's brother Ron and his wife Carrie live in Alaska, but their daughter and family live in the Portland area. Since Ron's son works for Alaska Airlines, Ron and wife can fly for free anytime they want to, so...they frequently come to Portland. The whole tribe came over the other night and the brothers had a happy reunion. I've enjoyed watching them together over the years. When Keith and I married 18 years ago, Keith and Ron (Ron is the big brother) had not seen each other for 30 years. I nagged about a phone call till Keith did it, and since then the brothers have seen each other several times. It is always a joyous occasion! This night the family brought in dinner, since I was on duty, and we all had a great time eating and visiting. We will get to do that again!

 On a different note — Keith's maintenance pill for his cancer, though keeping the disease at bay, can also cause white blood counts and red blood counts to go below where they should be. Sometimes he needs a boost to get him back to normal, so his doctor scheduled a blood transfusion at the Portland Good Samaritan Hospital, on a Sunday. While I waited during the 5 hour process I walked around a little, looking for photo opportunities. The entire complex is tall, red brick, lots of glass, and is located between narrow streets in Old Town. It is very beautiful. I was especially intrigued (in-tree-ged!) by the vine and Japanese maples planted lovingly between the buildings, with benches here and there for resting and meditating. Most of the trees were changing color and offered a lovely respite from the waiting time.

Another view from the sidewalk. The hospital and other medical offices are constructed mostly of glass windows, so each one reflected the buildings across the street. I thought it was all very beautiful. I did enjoy my exploration, while Mr. Keith was plugged in and napping. He finished his session feeling much more energized, and we drove home, not by the freeways, but through the downtown, and decided we would return soon and really explore this lovely city on the Willamette River. I can already see that there will be much fodder for my blog!