Weekend Getaway!

Yeah, OK. We just got back from Ireland not that long ago but we discovered on that trip the difference between a vacation and a trip. Ireland was NOT a vacation! It was definitely a TRIP...

We have here in the PNW a very short summer and so we have to take advantage of every minute of it. So we took a 3 day drive. Yes, ANOTHER road trip! We love where we live and there is so much of it that we haven't seen. So we covered another area, this time the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area. It's mostly on the Oregon side but the Washington side somewhat as well.

Wanting to steer clear of the beaten path we opt for side routes that we haven't traveled yet. I discovered on this trip that the black lines on the map say "gravel sections in some remote areas" in parenthesis. OK, so we'll try to stay off the black lines! We started out on one just south of Mt Rainier. Beautiful countryside but not-so-great roads. Eventually we got to our destination, the Columbia River. We'd been to the area once in the past, on a motorcycle outing that included an unfortunate mishap, so had an idea of what could be seen. I've been trying to get some shots of vineyards, close up and overall and I knew we could find some there in a town called Maryhill. There's also a Stonehenge replica which is interesting only the first time. We found the vineyards with baby grapes on them and got some interesting stuff. There were also orchards heavy with fruit, beehives, tractors, an old gas station and a 130 year old church (the closest thing to an Irish ruin in this area!). We also found some basalt columns again like in Ireland and Iceland as well!

We enjoyed driving along the river and all the sights. We didn't realize the Columbia was so popular for water sports, some areas were thick with kite surfers, sailboards, jetskis, etc. We made it to the bridge over to Oregon right about quitting time so we found food and a room. We brought our tenting supplies but decided this wasn't the place to try to find a place to pitch it. We got the last available room at a big chain motel which included a decent breakfast.

We managed to get on the road before 9 (!) and began our exploration of the Oregon side of the Columbia. Instead of the massive interstate highway we found the scenic historical highway 30 which was lined with campgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails, waterfalls and other ways to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings. It was only about a 10 mile stretch but was lined with a pretty white wood fence on one side and packed with distractions to make you stop. One person told me there were 71 waterfalls. Well, we only stopped for 3. Multnomah Falls was the most famous and, hence, packed. It was a beautiful day, nearing the end of summer so everyone was enjoying the out-of-doors. I'm happy to see so many people taking pictures. Granted, the bulk are using their cell phone cameras but at least that's something!

There are numerous dams along the Columbia (which means the river was much smaller when Lewis and Clark had to figure out how to cross it...) and we decided to visit one, Bonneville. Others were named John Day, the Dalles and McNary. The dam itself was only a sight to see across the way, the actual mechanical part is only available for guided tours. But the fish aspect, the fish ladders, hatcheries and underwater viewing areas, were interesting. There were some beautiful plantings as well.

Rick decided we should also see Palouse Falls back here in Washington. We'd been to the Palouse area for a springtime photo outing, to shoot the rolling patchwork fields but didn't see the falls. Well, when we looked at the map it turns out the falls are nowhere near the rest of the Palouse area, there's about 50 miles between them. Having our tenting gear with us and on the hot side of the state we decided that would be our night to tent. Then I saw that there was camping available right there at the falls!

So as we started getting near the falls we began to look for a place to eat. There were only a few "towns" on the map and they all indicated they were the same basic size town (less than 2500). The first was Connell. It had 3 restaurants but not quite what we were looking for. So we moved on to Kahlotus. This ain't a town! and the map shows a lake - there's no lake either! OK, on to Washtucna. Um...the roads were all torn up and they were putting in sidewalks. But all the businesses were closed and even looked empty. So we drove back to a Frank's tavern we saw on our way in. The lady owning it met us outside an explained that they were renovating. She suggested we try a marina just past the falls we were planning to visit.

The marina at Lyons Ferry on the Snake river was open and exactly what we were looking for! They had beer and sandwiches and we could even eat outside! Our beer du jour was a peach hefeweisen from a local brewery and used local grown peaches! Yum!

After our perfect dinner we headed back to the falls to pick a camping spot. We checked things out and it looked like all the sites were taken when we found the handicapped spot open to anyone after 6 PM. OK! It was a gravel spot and right next to the potty and water spigot. Not the greatest. Oh well, we're right here at the falls. So we set up camp real fast and ran to the falls and got some evening shots which were perfect for getting the smooth flowing water look! Camp was overall OK but reminded us just why we prefer to throw a tent out off a lonely dirt road, all by ourselves. I took advantage of the dark environment and attempted a star trails shot. It wasn't stellar but my best attempt so far. The bright light at the left is a bunch of people wandering around out in the desert with flashlights.

We tried a few more shots the next morning but the sun was too intense and the waterfall is in a hole in the shade, they didn't turn out great. While we meandered around the area we spotted a marmot and a bunny. We quickly broke camp and headed back to the restaurant we passed up in Connell the night before. After breakfast we pretty much headed straight home and accumulated a total of 950 miles on this road trip.

It was a great adventure! Next up - - Kauai with my daughter!

‹---teeny tiny bus

About Me

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After 2 unsuccessful marriages I spent 12 years as a divorcee, only to fall prey to another man's wiles. We had a fun 5 years together and then he decided he wanted more freedom so once again I'm single.

So I'm freshly divorced at 57 and have 5 great kids and now 7 grandkids. My kids are still a major part of my life but I'm busy helping my aging parents on Kauai.

I've lived in California, Hawaii and Oklahoma before finally settling here in Washington. I love Washington and come back to visit family, friends and take care of my garden often but will be temporarily a resident of Kauai.

I've moved 30 times in my life (no, my parents weren't in the service, at least not since I was about 2) and finally planted roots when I got my little house that I've owned since '91.

My family are Jehovah's Witnesses, I've been one since '72.