Monday, June 3, 2013

Columbia River Gorge

The last day of May was pleasantly cool and partly sunny, a nice day for sightseeing. We had plans to drive up the Columbia River Gorge with my brother Lyle and his wife Linda, ending up at Hood River where the Full Sail brewpub is located. Linda wanted to go an extra 50 miles up river to see the Maryhill Museum of Art, so we were looking at a total 225 mile round trip, a goodly day of driving. We knew we would have to get an early start so we got up early and hit the road at the crack of 10 o'clock. Hey, I'm retired.

Vista House
Our car is too packed full of stuff to carry four people. Lyle's car would've taken all of us but they did not want the schnoodles riding in their new Outback (and the schnoodles had similar reservations) so we took two vehicles with Lyle and Linda mostly in the lead. If you are in a hurry, you climb onto Interstate 84 and haul up river at 65 miles an hour, but we were there to see the sights, so we took the old highway 30 which parallels the interstate but runs generally higher up the wall of the gorge. Back in 1916, when the highway was completed, the engineer in charge of the project talked Multnomah County into putting up a viewing point at the top of a basalt outcropping known as Crown Point. The result was Vista House, a kind of art nouveau building with restrooms, an elevated observation deck and stunning views both up and down the Columbia River. We stopped there and snapped the mandatory photographs, enjoying the views and weather, then moved on.

Latourell Falls from the parking lot
Our next stop was Latourell Falls, about 2 1/2 miles east. There are half a dozen significant waterfalls along this road that draw the tourist crowd (like us). This particular example drops 224 feet straight down over a basalt cliff. There is a trail that takes you from the parking lot to the foot of the falls. My traveling companions took the trail down but since the grade appeared to be about 15% I decided that the view from the parking lot was nice enough and waited on the bench for their return. Okay, I'm a wuss, so sue me.

The next waterfall on the road was Bridal Veil Falls. You will recall that we had pictures of this waterfall in Yosemite a few weeks ago. They have apparently recently moved it to Oregon and in the process it got broken into two pieces. Very sad. Anyway, there was no view of the waterfall from the road. You had to take the trail to go see it. The trail started out easy enough but soon became quite a bit steeper and involved a lot of stairs. These were mostly going down on the way to the falls but every step down had to be retraced on the way back. I decided to go-ahead and brave this allegedly easy hike but my pace was so slow my companions quickly left me behind. My wife, Vicki, moved much faster than I did. My brother Lyle, who is much more elderly than I, took this trek with no problems.  My sister-in-law, who is only four feet tall, outpaced me by a mile on a trail that was only 2/3 of a mile long.  73-year-old ladies with front-wheel walkers skipped past me whistling show tunes. It was truly embarrassing, but I wheezed and gasped and persisted and finally reached the falls. And this was on the downhill run. The hike back up the mountainside nearly did me in. Fortunately, there were benches along the path which saved me from the humiliation of  having to lie down in the mud to rest every hundred yards. Man, I have got to start getting more exercise. Not today mind you, but maybe tomorrow.  Or the next day. You know - sometime.
Lyle and Linda in front of Bridal Veil Falls, Oregon version

The next stop was Multnomah Falls, which is truly awesome. It drops 620 feet in two stages. There is a trail up to a view point with a bridge going over the lower falls. Lyle and Linda immediately started up the trail but, fortunately, someone had to stay at the bottom to provide photographic confirmation of their visit to the bridge and I volunteered. It seemed the brotherly thing to do.
Multnomah Falls

Lyle and Linda on Benson Bridge
At this point the day was definitely getting on. There were several more water falls and scenic views and pullouts we could have visited but Linda's Museum beckoned and it had a closing time of five clock, so if we were going to do more than admire the outside of the building we needed to move along. We got off scenic Highway 30 and pulled onto the interstate to make some real time. We traveled along the Oregon side of the Columbia River up to The Dalles, then crossed over to Highway 14 on the Washington side. We traveled through the tiny town of Lyle, snickering at the "Lyle Welcomes You" sign and finally reached the Maryhill Museum of Art a little before four o'clock.

       Queen Marie's Furniture  - I would have dumped it too
The Maryhill Museum of Art sits high up on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River surrounded by miles and miles of nothing in all directions. The building was originally intended as a mansion for entrepreneur Samuel Hill with construction starting in 1914. It is not explicitly stated anywhere, but by 1917, with the building still uncompleted, I suspect he decided that living out in the middle of nowhere was not as great an idea as he had at first imagined and he decided to turn the building into a museum (presumably for tax purposes) with the help of some of his artsy friends. The museum was finally dedicated in 1926 and holds a quite eclectic group of art objects initially donated by Hill and his friends and later
There were over 100 chess sets
added to by a Spreckels Sugar heiress. The collection includes a room full of works by Auguste Rodin, paintings by American artists, palace furniture from Queen Marie of Romania, over 100 chess sets, American Indian artifacts and other basically unrelated works of art. The house is three stories and I would guesstimate maybe 15,000 ft.², big for a house but not particularly gigantic for a museum. You could go through it fairly easily in an hour if you didn't dawdle. I dawdled, but mostly around the Rodin wing and the chess sets, not having a lot of interest in the rest of the collections.

The Rodin wing
The grounds around the museum were extensive and lovely and Vicki and I went back out after about 40 min. to let the dogs enjoy the large park and picnic area. Lyle and Linda stayed in the museum until closing time and then joined us. We drove back to Hood River to have dinner at the Full Sail public house. They have a full slate of regular beers but they also produce short runs of specialty beers. I had one of these, a "Vienna Lager" which was exceptionally nice. Reviewers on Yelp raved about the salmon fish and chips so I decided to go ahead and try them. They were okay but I think halibut makes better fish and chips and there are tastier ways to prepare salmon. Well, now I know. We got a sixpack of the Vienna Lager to take with us and headed back to Portland. We said goodbye to Lyle and Linda in the parking lot since we did not expect to see them again the next day. In the morning, we would pack up the motorhome and get back on Interstate 84 to start heading east.

Full Sail pub

1 comment:

  1. No printable comment about the "four feet tall" ...