Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Columbia River Gorge Through New Eyes

Whenever someone from out of town comes to visit, there is an unwritten list of places that you must take them. The Oregon Coast, Columbia River Gorge, Powell's City of Books, Voodoo Doughnuts and it goes on and on. As many of you know, my friend (and many of yours as well) Sarah was out visiting the great Pacific Northwest from North Carolina, and I took it upon myself to kidnap her for the day and show her one of my favorite places on earth, the western Columbia River Gorge.

I spend a lot of time in "The Gorge". If I am not out there at least once a month it is probably because I have been suffering from some horrible illness. Or have been extremely busy. Either way, it's not good. So, a trip out the old highway may be considered somewhat "routine" around my house, even though every trip it can be very different, depending on the season and what the weather has done recently. However, I can't recall a time I have ever had the rare opportunity to show the area to someone who has never seen it before, except through my pictures. To say this was a treat would be a great understatement.

There is a normal path people follow when visiting The Gorge. From my experience, the majority of the people that I have witnessed visiting usually stop at Vista House, and then high tail it for Multnomah Falls, passing many other beautiful sights along the way. I assure you, Sarah did not get this type of tour, and I don't think anyone would expect any less than the Blue Ribbon Tour from me.

Of course our first stop was Vista House. Sarah must have thought me a bit crazy when I told her we were going to stop at one of the most beautiful, and expensive when it was built, rest areas in the world. (For those of you don't know, that was the "original" purpose of the building when originally constructed.) The weather was not exactly cooperating. Okay, really, it wasn't at all. It was gray and drizzly, but, if you think about it, the perfect representation of a February day in Oregon.

Sarah enjoying the view at Vista House/Crown Point

Our next stop was Latourell Falls. Now, don't go telling Wahkeena Falls, cause we all know how jealous she can get, but, this is probably my favorite waterfall to photograph in The Gorge. Shhh...remember, it's our secret. The best part, I was starting to see the first sparkles of awe and wonder in Sarah's eyes.

Latourell Falls

Next stop was Bridal Veil Falls. I warned Sarah I was going to take her on a hike this trip, but would go easy on her, and I think I kept my word. There was a wonderful amazement in Sarah's eyes as we hiked down the trail, that just continued to grow the closer to the falls that we got. I heard things like "Have you seen the Narnia movies? I feel like I am one in them right now." "This looks like Lord of the Rings!" Okay, I may be paraphrasing a bit. Sarah can correct me later. I was too thrilled with her reaction to remember her exact words, but I think you get the idea.

Bridal Veil Creek

Sarah and Sage at Bridal Veil Falls
 From there we made the rest of the "highlight" stops along the Historic Highway. Wahkeena Falls, Multnomah Falls, Oneonta Gorge and Tunnel, and Horsetail Falls. At this point I kind of expected Sarah to be saying "Oh yay another waterfall. *YAWN*" but she seemed absolutely thrilled with every stop we made, even if we just jumped out of the car for a few pictures and moved on at a couple of spots.

Making a quick stop at Wahkeena Falls
One of the perils of taking any kind of day trip with my family is we all have cameras. We have been known to stop and take a picture of almost anything that catches our eye. Leave, flowers, an interesting rain drop. Yeah, pretty much anything. Anyone who does not have the photography habit and accompanies us usually spends a fair amount of time standing around waiting for us to finish taking pictures. I guess you can call it a "recreational hazard". However, on this trip, I think I spent more time standing around waiting for Sarah to finish taking pictures, and completely enjoying her reaction to everything she saw. I didn't even notice that I was barely taking any pictures.

We all found  something interesting to take a picture of.

We stopped for lunch at Charburger in Cascade Locks. Food is nothing fancy, but you won't get a better view while you eat. This is probably my favorite lunch stop for that reason alone, but the marionberry pie isn't half bad either.

From there we took Sarah on the Dam tour. Bonneville Dam that is. I had hoped the sea lions would be making a repeat appearance, and they did not disappoint. As an added bonus, we spotted two bald eagles and two golden eagles perched in a tree. I assume they were fishing just like the sea lion. We sat in the car and watched them for a long time, and even remarked that while w were watching the wildlife, most of our friend were sitting around somewhere watching the Super Bowl. Can't say as I am sorry we missed the half time show, and from what I heard when we got back home, it certainly sounds like we got the better end of the deal.

Bald Eagles at Bonneville Dam

Our final stop was the Bonneville Fish Hatchery to visit Herman the Sturgeon and his rainbow trout friends. A perfect way to end a tour of the Columbia River Gorge.

Rainbow Trout at Bonneville Dam

Final photo count:

Sarah: 250 Wahkeena Photos: 76

Note: Sarah has been one of my great friends that has encouraged me to start blogging, and I usually count on her to proofread my posts. I wanted to surprise her with this one, so please excuse any typos, grammatical errors, etc. I hope you enjoyed it Sarah, and thanks for giving me the chance to see The Gorge through your eyes!!


  1. Cari...sounds like a great trip for you and your friend. We had visitors from Iowa several years ago and did the same drive one day...they too, were amazed at the great beauty we have so close to us. Great Pics! I love the Rainbow Trout picture...what would it take to hook me up?

  2. Hey Candy!! Shoot me an email at letting me know what size you want, etc. and we can take it from there!!! So glad you enjoyed the post!!

  3. Great post Cari! I am sitting here not believing that I live here and yet it has probably been 30 yrs since I have been to the gorge. oops
    Nancy (@npowell)