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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Columbia River Gorge

Latourell Falls
The Columbia River Gorge is sure to awe even the most travel-weary visitor. Its scenic river, lush trees, massive waterfalls and mountains easily put me on sensory overload.

I wasn't sure whether to simply gawk at the grandeur or grab my camera again. I tried to do both. Our friend, Jim Alexander, wanted to show us his part of the world. His pride in it is well-deserved.

"For years, I hiked up here. I'll show you some of my favorite spots," Jim told us.

Wahkeena Falls
Every bit of scenery is luxurious. Maybe it's the rainfall and the amount of oxygen from the trees but the world is spectacular from every view. We left early in the morning because of an afternoon flight home. It turned out to be a blessing - high tourist season and we practically had the road to ourselves the first couple of hours.

The morning fog from the Pacific still blanketed the sky as we drove up the Oregon side of the Columbia to Hood River. Our first stop was Latourell Falls where I oohed and aahed and took lots of photos. It's impossible to catch the majesty of the falls but so much fun to try. 

Multnomah Falls
"Wait. You haven't seen anything yet," Jim said. We enthusiastically jumped back in the car. We next stopped at Wahkeena Falls. Trees hid the falls more here but the rocky landscape added character. The fog was beginning to lift so the photos were fun.

"Wait," Jim told us again. He practically bounced with his love of the region. I already understood why.

Multnomah Falls is fantastic. It's a double set of falls with a scenic bridge looking over the pool created by the upper falls.

"See that ledge up there?" Jim pointed to the upper falls.


Bridge of the Gods
"That's where I used to sit, have a snack and watch the falls," he said. "I hiked in about 5 miles to get to that spot. There's a trail..." he continued.

Our next stop was at Horsetail Falls, then on to the Bridge of the Gods at the Cascade Locks. This is the third oldest bridge on the Columbia River. It has an interesting history. A natural bridge was formed by the Bonneville landslide years ago. The Native Americans called it the Bridge of the Gods.

Then we stopped at the Bonneville Dam spillway and visited the Fish Hatchery.

Chinook Salmon at hatchery
By the time we reached Hood River and the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum (WAAAM), we only had an hour before we needed to head back.

The museum is a story in itself so check back.

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