OREGON IS A TRULY BEAUTIFUL PLACE TO CALL HOME
So taking a quick break from the Ireland adventure from 2013, I took a little mini-vacation with me, myself and I (always good travel companions) to the Gorge this weekend. The Gorge refers to the Columbia River Gorge along the Oregon – Washington border. It is a truly one of the most beautiful spots on earth. Check out www.columbiarivergorge.info for some really detailed info and photos. I’m including a handful of pics in this post, but a simple Google search of “Columbia River Gorge” and then click Images will show you what I got to see this weekend (here's a snap shot of the Google images search results).
I wanted to do a simple overnight just to get away and enjoy what the forecast said would be a perfect weekend. I booked the only hotel I could find, the Best Western in Cascade Locks, Oregon – which is really nice as it’s new. It’s right on the Columbia River and I had a river view room. I shot a video from the balcony, below are some stills of the video, it was an unbelievable view!
But back to the start. I headed out on Saturday morning and decided to hit Vista House on the way. Vista House is a little monument up in the Gorge that offers some unbelievable views. Here are my photos from Vista House:
And here are a few stock images from Google of the actual building:
I've been to Vista House probably 5 or 6 times in the 5 years I have lived in the Portland, OR area and it never gets old. From there I took the inner roads as far as I could instead of getting back on I-84, it’s prettier and you get to pass all the amazing waterfalls like Latourell Falls, Multnomah Falls (the biggest one and by far the most popular tourist attraction) and Oneonta Falls. I didn’t stop at any of those as it was crazy busy – as I expected for a Saturday with nice weather – but driving by them and getting a glimpse was nice. Living in the Portland area puts all this cool stuff within about an hour’s drive, it’s amazing the beauty you have access to between the Oregon coast and the Gorge! For example here’s a few pics from a hike I did 2 weekends ago in the Tillamook State Forest, only 30 minutes from my house.
See what I mean about the amazing scenery all around?!? When driving east on I-84 from Portland through the Gorge, just the drive alone is breathtaking and I got the best of both worlds driving up in the access roads, then getting back on I-84 at about the halfway point. When you’re on the interstate you’re driving right along the river, the Washington side is beautiful and vice versa.
I got into town, checked into the hotel. Once in the room I headed straight for the balcony to see the view – stunning (see the pics from the balcony above). Then I decided to take a walk. Cascade Locks is TINY… I walked up and down the main street in no time. I pulled some pics of the “strip” from Google maps and posted them below. There was a great little espresso stand so I got a coffee and headed to a viewpoint to just sit and relax and enjoy the view.
From there I decided to head to Hood River, OR for lunch. Hood River is a much larger small town with much more to do and see… lots of breweries, restaurants, shops and river activities. Hood River is only 20 miles east of Cascade Locks so it was a quick trip with more beautiful scenery. Once in I parked and just walked around until a restaurant grabbed our attention. I hadn’t had sushi in a long time so when I saw a sushi joint, I stopped in for lunch. You know you’re in a small town when you’re wowed by how cheap good food is, Sushi Okalani was affordable and tasty – I’d go back. From there I just walked up and down the streets checking out the shops, a few quirky bookstores and just enjoying a small town on a beautiful river.
I headed back to Cascade Locks. Earlier I’d seen a group of large tents and teepees on a small island in the river, so I decided to check it out. The island is man-made and called Thunder Island. As I got there I saw folks fishing, a playground, campers, a couple restaurants… as you can see from the pics, the island is tiny but it makes a great viewpoint and a great place for taking pics. I snagged a few images off Google of the island and my pics are under that, you can see our hotel just left of the Bridge of the Gods. Being right there in the water was cool. I have no idea what the group with the tents and teepees were up to. They were in costume as pioneers, but it seemed like pot and booze were the real reason for the camp out.
By now it was dinner time so I headed up to Stevenson, WA to a pizza joint with good Yelp ratings – Andrews Pizza. It was good pizza, then I headed back to Hood River for some dessert – though it wasn’t worth mentioning here LOL. The sun was setting on Mt. Hood and I had an amazing view of it, I tried to get a good picture, but as you can see that was a challenge… still, it was gorgeous.
After a great day I headed back to the hotel and caught Will Ferrell’s “Get Hard” on TV – stupid but funny. The hotel has dish so I had like 500+ channels in the room, that was pretty sweet. In the morning I headed to the restaurant next door for my complimentary hotel breakfast and decided to roll out as I needed to get home to install some window ACs. Before I left I headed back to the espresso stand and the viewpoint nearby for a last look and a few more pics of the Columbia River… the moon was still hanging out so I snapped a pic of it too.
Once I got back home I got to spend some QT with my pack of nut-cases… Bruges, Sacha and Kevin. Having 3 nearly 90 pound dogs is a challenge not for the faint of heart, but they’re a fun crew none the less. I snapped off a pic of them that night once they were tuckered out and settled down.