Exploring Northwest US and Canada: Week 3, Day 21, Portland to the Columbia River Gorge to Hood River

Published: July 9th 2018
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7/31 Like most bed and breakfasts you choose a time when you would like to eat. This morning at the Portland White House, we opted to relax and enjoy the ambiance so our breakfast time was later than normal. The dining room was fully occupied save two seats which we promptly took. We were served a truly amazing breakfast. Slabs of bacon next to loads of fresh berries that were piled on top of Tiffany's Dutch German pancake accompanied by real maple syrup filled our plates. Freshly squeezed tangerine juice, coffee and opportunities for second helpings if you dared. I was eating well beyond my capacity! We were joined by many friendly people sharing their travel experiences and tips as we sat around the long dining room table.

The International Rose Test Gardens were first on this morning's agenda. We discovered that the Japanese Gardens, opposite the rose gardens, didn't open until noon so we spent two hours touring, smelling and photographing roses in the expansive gardens (Dave was surprisingly patient). The scent of rose was powerful throughout the gardens and although some roses were past bloom, most were in full flower. I purchased some Christmas presents in the gift shop, then after sitting and enjoying the gardens, at noon we walked across the street to tour the Japanese Gardens.

The parking area for the Rose Garden and Japanese Gardens was full at noon but having parked earlier we got lucky but we had a devil of a time feeding the meter. I would have left the rose garden earlier if I had anticipated the line for tickets to the Japanese Gardens (that we could not purchase in advance). We were offered a bus ride but declined, another wait, and instead hiked up the hill to the gardens to begin with a better experience. The gardens were created on this hillside overlooking Portland over 50 years ago. The people of Portland along with their sister city in Sapporo Japan, worked together to transform the former Oregon Zoo into a peaceful green sanctuary where people could wander the paths and escape the noise of the city. After the WWII Japanese internment camps and the tensions that followed, the construction of these gardens became a symbol of healing. The recently expanded gardens now occupy 9.1 acres and are considered one of the most authentic outside of Japan. Before we left we walked through the tea house to see a collection of magnificent costumes from the production of Shibaraku, a major kabuki play.

It was time to leave and once again we found getting out of a city a bit confusing. With many shortcuts from the Japanese Garden through Portland’s residential areas down to route 30 heading east we finally wound our way out. On our way, to confirm we were headed in the right direction, we stopped for information in the cute little town of Troutdale the beginning of historic Route 30. A map confirmed that we were in fact on the right road so we drove east to begin our exploration of waterfalls and views of the Columbia River Gorge as well as to see the challenging river and banks where Louis and Clark and soon after, the Jefferson and Astor Expedition camped and travelled. Our first stop was to see Bridal Veil Falls. The two tiered falls are less than a half a mile round trip hike (downhill) from the main road. Even tucked away in its own little cove I could still hear noise from the highway until I was actually on a level with the Falls.
Bridal Veil FallsBridal Veil FallsBridal Veil Falls

Columbia River Gorge

The Vista House at Crown Point was an easy to reach viewpoint off Rt 30, but of course tour busses found it easy too. The point offered majestic views of the Columbia River Gorge as the river wound its way from the mountains to the ocean. Rumbling freight trains ran frequently alongside the road.

We continued east stopping at the popular Multnomah Falls, named for the Multnomah People. These falls are frequently seen from the road but with a short climb you can easily view the lower falls. There are two viewing levels to see the two stages of falls, the upper falls, 542’, and lower falls 69’. I climbed up to the bridge to see the upper falls and even there had trouble jockeying for possible camera shots of the falls. This is probably the most frequented of the falls with tour busses and a touristy gift shop right alongside the falls and the road.

Horsetail Falls was not far north of Multnomah Falls and, right off the road, there was easier access to the falls and the swimming hole at its base. It seemed to be a popular summer place for locals and so far,
Multnomah FallsMultnomah FallsMultnomah Falls

Columbia River Gorge
no commercial buildings here.

Leaving the falls behind us, we continued east along the Columbia River to Hood River where we planned to spend the next few days. We stopped first to see the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel and Spa with a commanding view of the Columbia River. This Mission style hotel built in the 1920s has changed hands several times but is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. We looked at their lovely (empty at 6pm) dining room and peered at the menu. Deciding that we did not want to wait long for dinner and needed a quick early meal the hostess at the hotel recommended The Sixth Street Bistro in the town of Hood River. Excellent choice! It was easily found and not crowded giving us time to eat, relax, and explore a bit before checking into our next Bed and Breakfast. With a bar upstairs, dining on the patio and a cool and quiet dining space downstairs, there was something for everyone. For dinner I had a generous black bean veggie burger with guacamole, tomato, red onion and fresh lettuce and a side salad of locally sourced greens. I added a locally made hot
Horsetail FallsHorsetail FallsHorsetail Falls

Columbia River Gorge
Dijon mustard (Beaver Brand) and that really made it! I had a Hot Toddy to drink (my new drink of choice). Dave had a gigantic Swiss cheese burger and salad. His beer was Everybody's Country Boy and it got a thumbs up.

The sun was still out at 7:15pm when we left the restaurant for the Brookside Bed and Breakfast, not far from the center of Hood River, but far enough, located conveniently behind a golf course with its own tennis court and beautifully designed and maintained gardens. Something for everyone! We were warmly greeted upon arrival, shown to our very spacious room overlooking the gardens and tennis court. Dave was invited to join the tennis match in the morning if his knees were up to it (they were not) but it was a kind offer with a loan of all their equipment.

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