After spending quality time with our friends in the Tri Cities we decided we should spend a day exploring the few interesting sights near our camp at Plymouth Park. I plotted out a nice loop drive that would take in several interesting stops. It is always amazing to me how many places seemingly in the middle of nowhere always have interesting places to explore. This is the main reason we don’t like to travel more than 150 miles before our next stop… otherwise who knows what we might miss?
First up for us was a visit to the McNary Dam and Locks which was just across the Columbia River from our campground. The dam is 7365 feet long and 183 feet tall. We took a self guided tour of the dam and lock overlook as well as a viewing area with special windows where we could see the salmon scooting their way across the dam. These viewing windows were really cool and watching the salmon migrate was indeed an unexpected treat.
The Corps of Engineers also has 16,908 acres of public lands surrounding the lake utilized for public recreational purposes. Included in this adjacent to the dam is a nice disc golf course. This was once a 9 hole course but had 9 more holes recently added. The front nine was easy and mostly on very manicured landscaping but the back nine was in the sage brush and Russian Thistle scrub making it a bit more challenging. We found it to be a fun course overall but next time we would prefer to perhaps wear jeans instead of shorts!
Our next stop was the Cold Springs National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. This refuge was established primarily for migrating and nesting ducks and as such its water is managed. When we arrived the lake was very low but we still spotted a large flock of White Pelicans on it along with the typical wetland birds usually seen this time of year. There were also a few deer around taking advantage of the greenery. After a short hike we moved on to our next adventure.
Our last recreational stop was to Hat Rock State Park in Hermiston Oregon. Featuring Hat Rock which was the first distinctive landmark seen by the Lewis and Clark Expedition on their journey down the Columbia and is purportedly one of the few remaining sites not now underwater. This geologic structure is said to be the exposed remnants of a 12-million-year-old basalt flow. It was pretty cool and we took a 1-2 mile hike within the park to see it in all its glory…
No excursion would be complete without ending the day with a visit to a local craft brewery. Todays choice was the Hermiston Brewery and Nookie’s Restaurant. We didn’t even ask how how the restaurant got their name but simply sampled a few of the beers and settled for a a couple of nice pints of their crafted beer. Yep this was another fine day spent in the middle of nowhere on our Road of Retirement…
NOTE: We are moving today from Viento State Park where we stayed two nights and moving over to Ainsworth State Park in the Columbia River Gorge.