Friday, September 30, 2016

Columbia River Gorge Waterfall Hikes–Part 2…


After lunch the next day we headed in the opposite direction on the scenic highway. The first stop was Horsetail falls and we took the hike up the trail to view it in its glory. It was enjoyable to experience yet another beautiful waterfall in the gorge and amazingly there are so many…


From there we drove over to the “iconic” waterfall in the gorge Multnomah Falls. Even though it was a weekday in September there was still a large crowd. Nonetheless we made the trek straight up the hill to see where the falls takes the southern drop off the top of the Columbia Gorge. What an amazing falls this one is and we enjoyed it immensely with each step up and back down the slope.


On down the road we stopped at a couple more falls Wahkeena and Latourell hiking up to see them closer. Next we drove the winding road up to the Vista House for the panoramic views of the entire gorge.  From there we drove further to the Women’s Forum Viewpoint to look back down the gorge with the Vista House perched atop the cliff it was built upon. What a beautiful drive it was especially as the leaves are beginning to turn to fall colors.

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With more daylight available we drove to the Bonneville Dam and Fish Hatchery.  The Dam is an engineering marvel but the hatchery was where we spent much more time.  There were ponds and holding tanks scattered throughout the fishery where we could see baby fish as well as adult Rainbow Trout, Salmon and the mighty Sturgeon.  One sturgeon we were able to see was huge 10 feet long and 400 pounds.  There is an underwater viewing area where this sturgeon elicited many ohh’s and ahhh’s from the gallery. Amazing just how big this fish is!!! 

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To celebrate our wonderful day coming to a close in the Gorge we went to Cascade Locks to Thunder Island Brewing company as we remembered it as our favorite brewery with a view.  It did not disappoint especially since while we were there a lady in a big pickup truck was giving away some just harvested russet potatoes!  What a great day!


SO glad we spent four nights in the gorge even with all the train noise we had to endure at the campgrounds… Now it is off to Portland for a week - a place we have visited several times before…


NOTE: We are currently in Portland Oregon where at the Columbia River RV Park where we will leave on Tuesday, October 4th.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Columbia River Gorge Waterfall Hikes–Part 1…


We moved only 20 miles from Viento State Park to what we hoped to be a somewhat quieter park for a couple of nights at Ainsworth State Park.It has indeed been much quieter than our two day stay at Viento State Park where a very close road crossing had trains often rumbling through with horns blaring.Trains run near this park as well but not anywhere near as loudly as in Viento.…


Our main goal for staying at this park was to revisit many of the beautiful waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge. The first day we focused on the part of the road going east on the old Columbia River Historic Scenic Highway. Our first stop was at the John B Yeon State Park to visit Elowah Falls. As we made our way near the cutoff trail to the falls I noticed a sign for another falls hike to McCord Creek Falls, further up the slope.


So straight up the hill we went and in about half a mile we came to McCord Creek Falls, and it is one we haven’t been to before. What a beautiful cascading falls and we were so glad we made the turn on the trail to this one…..what a beauty. After enjoying the spectacle for awhile we headed back down and took the turn to the Elowah Falls. This one is more of what I  would describe as a ponytail falls (long narrow waterfall). It is beautiful too but we really enjoyed the one nearer the top of the slope more than this one.


With it getting late we headed back home for dinner and to plan for the next day of waterfall hikes….  

NOTE: We are currently in Portland Oregon where at the Columbia River RV Park where we will leave on Tuesday, October 4th.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Driving the Fruit Loop and Hood River, Oregon…


We left Washington fairly early since we were driving around 130 miles to Viento State Park where we planned to grab a walk in site for a 2 night stay. This 130 mile drive was no ordinary drive as it traversed through the awe inspiring Columbia River Gorge. Prior to choosing Viento we read the not so kind reviews of this state park about loud train noise but we are not usually bothered by noise too much with our double paned windows so we decided to give it a try anyway.  However the negative reviews were spot on because the tracks are actually within the park and the trains along with their horns are very active!


Not to be deterred from our not so perfect sleeping conditions we decided a drive on the Fruit Loop outside of of Hood River Oregon was the thing to do. With near perfect weather and clear skies we chose to enjoy a self-guided tour along this scenic 35-mile loop in the Hood River Valley. This area is the nation's largest pear-growing region but has plenty of other fruit bearing trees to see.


The orchards as well as the fruit stands are a treat to visit and most allow sampling of the fruits. We love sampling all the varieties of apples, pears and plums since there are so many different ones. Many of the varieties we have never seen in a store and some were quite tasty  so we will keep a lookout for them in the grocery stores.


The drive also was magnificent in that we had many views of two of the huge mountains in this area. Mount Hood can be seen to the south and Mount Adams in Washington can be seen to the north. These beautiful snow capped peaks were perfectly visible on the clear and sunny day providing quite a treat for the eyes.


After the drive we found a nice hike called the Indian Creek Trail in Hood River. Better yet there were still some blackberries available for the picking even though it appeared many of them had already been nipped by a recent freeze in the area. Still we were able to pick enough for a nice cobbler, crisp or for snacking.


While we were near Hood River for two days we also enjoyed walking around the quaint town and visited a couple of its breweries. While the fresh hop beers at Big Horse Brewpub were delightful the fresh hops beers at Double Mountain Brewery were a bit better. Big Horse does however provide great views into the Columbia River Gorge. We certainly wouldn’t hesitate to return to either one…

Note: We are moving today from Ainsworth State Park where we stayed two nights and moving over to Portland Oregon where we will stay a week at Columbia River RV Park.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Fun Last Days in Washington State…


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.

Friday, September 23, 2016

On to the Tri-Cities, Washington to Visit with Friends…


After enjoying our day in Spokane Washington we hit the road for a longer than average day for us as we planned to travel about 170 miles southwest through the state of Washington to the Corps of Engineers Park called Plymouth Park. Our main reason to revisit here is to stop and see our good friends Marshall and Debbie who were once our neighbors while I attended college at Texas A&M University back in the 1970’s.

We normally stay at the Hood Park COE campground but it always closes after Labor Day which we find quite odd but at least we discovered this COE park about 30 minutes south of town. Plymouth Park is a nice quiet park with full hookups along the Columbia River. Although the river is not quite visible because of the riverside brush, these sites are huge. Most of the sites are pull thru with a picnic table, gravel patio and fire ring. The park is also quiet and since there are no street lights we noticed it is nice and dark at night.


We can see both the highway and the trains off in the distance but they can only faintly be heard when outdoors and not at all once inside with the windows closed. We will sit here for a few nights to visit our friends and to relax in the peaceful setting. It is still chilly here in the mornings but by afternoon we are in shorts and ready to be out and about.

Our first few nights we have been enjoying happy hours, dinners and lively conversation with Marshall and Debbie.They have a beautiful home in a nice neighborhood and it has been fun spending some time in their large home (although we are now accustomed to much smaller living spaces). I was also entertained one afternoon while enjoying happy hour in their backyard as I watched their neighbor spend several hours washing his outside windows and taking care of his yard. These are time consuming chores I no longer have to do…

Also since our last visit our friends lost their companion Jack Russell Terrier, Archie whom we admired greatly.However we now were introduced to Buster, their new Jack Russell Terrier. He is such a laid back dog but was rescued from the pound so we see that he is still a bit confused in his new surroundings.  He is a great and friendly little dog we have freely given a lot of attention to as we both feel the need for a dog fix every now and then!

We will be here a few more days and hope to further explore this area while here…

NOTE: Wow only a few pictures because  for some reason we didn’t take many, unusual for us! We are moving today from Plymouth Park and going to try our luck at getting a walk-in site at Viento or Ainsworth State Parks in the Columbia River Gorge.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Spokane WA, Gonzaga U. and Manito Park…


As Sharon mentioned in our last blog we planned to revisit another spot we only spent one night at before, Spokane Washington. So our next stop was a mere 40 miles west and we would  be spending one more night in Spokane boondocking at the Northern Quest Casino. We pulled in and parked in the RV marked spaces in the far end of the south lot.


Even though it was only 40 miles of traveling this day we got to the casino a little late since we took advantage of the park in Coeur d’Alene to do our laundry before we left. When we got all set up in the casino we went over to the hotel part of it and checked in as they had requested when I contacted them. This was simply to provide us with rules of the parking lot for RV’s overnighting.


After a fairly late lunch we headed off to town to visit Gonzaga University a private Roman Catholic university. Gonzaga’s official mascot is the Bulldog yet they are mostly known as Zags and have had a really good men’s basketball team over the years so we stopped by to check out their facility. It is a pretty nice stadium for such a small campus. Interestingly their most notable alumnus is s Bing Crosby!


Since we visited the Riverside Park in Spokane last year we just drove through it this year and headed over to the Manito Park. We parked and walked around a duck pond and thought to ourselves “What was so special about this park?” So we got back to the CRV and drove a little further and discovered we were just on the edge of the park so we parked again and discovered the annual garden in all of its colorful glory.


We also visited the Conservatorium, the rose garden and  the perennial garden. What a nice park and a great day to be outside in the nice weather visiting it. After taking in all the floral sights we decided to check out the “Reader’s Choice Award for Best Brewery” the No-Li Brewery. They had some nicely crafter beers and we enjoyed our craft beer and toasted to another successful da on the road of retirement…


NOTE: We are now in Umatilla, Washington at the COE Plymouth Park until the 22nd when we start heading towards Portland Oregon as we trek down the Columbia River Gorge.