Published: July 21st 2011July 21st 2011
Tuesday, we thought it would be fun to drive a circuitous route around Mt Hood. Starting off downhill we passed by Fred Meyer's Walmartlike grocery plus store. They are so successful here that Wallyworld announced a new competitive campaign to build in this area. We visited Ft Vancouver, an NPS National Historic Site, over the river in Washington, and then navigated our way around the crazy hills and curvy streets of Portland to the Governor Hotel and the noon meeting of the Portland Rotary Club, established in 1910. Pendleton Woolen Mills CEO Morton Bishop III articulated the history, since 1863, and philosophies of his highly successful family owned company. They only weave wool from local farms in their own mills and use in-house staff for most activities; the rest they farm out to local area contractors. Unfortunately, they have to import leather, silks and other materials because they're not available domestically. Mr. Bishop has a wonderful command of the English language, which is a joy to hear, and his domestically oriented message was heartwarming. He noted that the advantage of a family owned business is that you can plan for the future without meeting the short term demands of stockholders. They got started supplying Native Americans with blankets, since the natives didn't weave them and, after their early popular plaid shirts, have added a variety of clothing over the years. Did you know that the Beach Boys were first the Pendletoons?
After lunch we proceeded West on I-84 and US 30 to see the Columbia River. Stopping at Multinomah Falls and Bonneville Lock and Dam we got stamps for our NPS Passport book and saw a tug/barge process through the lock. The falls were very scenic due to the amount of water flow this year. (With all the snow last winter they're still skiing on Mt Hood.) Skipping in and out of the cooler rain showers all day, the sun finally emerged as we were climbing out of the river valley on SR 35, and toward our campground on US 26, to reveal Mt. Hood in all her glory. We had to stop by one of the many fruit stands to prepare for our breakfast with fruit scones and a cinnamon bun (remembering our Alaska Caravan experiences). Cappy enjoyed the new smells of the day and we were happy the later sunrise and cloudy day delayed his wake-up call in the morning.
Wednesday turned out to be sunny and in the 70's, a great day for our excursion on the Mt Hood Railroad. This 4 hour trip started in Hood River, OR in the Columbia River Gorge so we had to drive there, backtracking on yesterday's scenic route, through several construction zones, back down to I-84. On board the Dome Car we got a magnificent vista as we traveled south, up the hillside from the river gorge, to Parkdale. This railway was constructed to carry logs out to the rivers and continued with finished lumber products and fruit grown in this fertile Hood River Valley over the years. Today cherries, pears, grapes and apples are harvested for the world and the fruit stands are ever present. The rail-line has one of the last switchbacks in the U.S. where the train stops and backs up to accommodate the steep grade. The conductor is an entertainer with songs and stories to keep us thinking as we progress through the woods, by the picturesque streams and towns so we can stop at Parksdale for lunch. Many of the local eateries have geared their service to the hour layover, providing good food and drink in an expeditious manner. A local brew pub was closed so we had to miss this true microbrew in a small storefront, though we could see the brewing tanks through the windows. We even had time to visit the local museum, gift shops and relax in the sunshine. A whistle blast and we reassemble for the return trip. Reclaiming our car we returned to Cappy so he could get his evening exercise.