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Columbia River Gorge

We started our Saturday like any other, drinking coffee, checking the news, and leisurely heading out for a good walk. Living downtown, we usually head out to the waterfront so Gertie can stretch her legs and get her sniff on. But something was different on this particular morning. After walking maybe a mile or so, we started to get hot. The sun came out. Gertie sought relief in the nearest fountain:

portland fountain

The first nice day of the year. Actually, it was downright hot. The temps hit the 90s and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. The local residents were on the verge of looting. Actually that isn't far from the truth. After months of steady gloom and rain, the first few nice days of the year put people into hear hysterics.

It was one of those days the beckoned you to throw responsibilities aside. A we can do our laundry and shopping and whatever else we were planning on doing tomorrow kind of day. So we headed for the Gorge.

columbia river gorge
Columbia Gorge

I'm hardly the geography buff, but according to the US Forest Service, the gorge is: The Columbia River Gorge is a spectacular river canyon cutting the only sea-level route through the Cascade Mountain Range.

It's 80 miles long and up to 4,000 feet deep with the north canyon walls in Washington State and the south canyon walls in Oregon State.

Basically, it's an awesome place with great views, awesome waterfalls, and great camping. The best part is that it's just a short drive from Portland, so you can really escape the city without the long drive or having to plan ahead.

We started by visiting the Vista House which is a scenic point that affords some really incredible views:

vista house
Vista House

It may be crummy out today, but if this is any sign of what the summer is going to be like, we're set to do some serious camping this year. From the Vista House, we continued East and checked out the waterfalls. There are a series of falls along the Gorge where the snow melt runs into the Columbia River. The most famous of these is Multnomah Falls, but it was so crowded that we decided to stop and check out Wahkeena Falls instead:

wahkeena falls
Wahkeena Falls

All of the falls were really full due to the warm weather and huge snow pack in the mountains. We weren't prepared for a major hike on this day, so we jaunted around and took in the sights, smells, and sounds of spring. It was really something seeing everything come to life after being dormant for so long.

So while we may not be heading out to the mountains this Memorial Day, at least we know that summer is just around the corner and soon we'll be back to spend the entire weekend. I personally can't wait.

May 24, 2008

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