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Published: July 16th 2012
After the storm, the calm.
We crossed back into Oregon from Washington quite late in the day, so we immediately began looking for a good place to camp. A few miles down the road, in Boardman, we found a superb little Good Sam campground. Grassy lawns stretched between shady trees with the river chuckling behind them. We went to sleep almost instantly.
The next day dawned, you guessed it, cold and rainy. Seriously rainy, in this case, and we made the not-very-difficult decision of just staying put for a day. We only took a few short walks around the campground that day, but in the evening it cleared up, casting a beautiful amber glow over the park next door, where Rascal stared longingly from the shore at the Canada geese floating safely out of reach in the small harbor.
The weather was crisp but sunny the next day, so we made our way off through the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area, stopping off at the visitor center along the way. We came in with only about 45 minutes left before it closed, so the wonderful woman behind the counter let us go for half price! The center had exhibits about the ice age, the
These geese were laughing at poor frustrated Rascal.
history of the gorge in human and geologic terms, information about local towns and wildlife, and a special section set aside for good ol' Lewis & Clark.
The reason we were late going in was because we took a hike beforehand with Rascal, out over golden fields, though granite boulders, and amongst wildflowers. We saw a pair of alligator lizards in the middle of a serious tussle (one had the other's head in its jaws, but they held very still as we passed by), an osprey in its nest, a pheasant exploding out of the brush beside the path, two small dark snakes, and stood underneath a low train tunnel as the train thundered overhead.
Departing the Visitor Center, we took Route 30, the Historic Columbia River Highway, nicknamed the King of Roads. It is the oldest specially-designated scenic route in the U.S. This old Route has been the recent focus of a restoration project. A smoothly winding road, it curves around forests and waterfalls and up gentle switchbacks, old barriers of stone inscribing the edges of the road. We went up the Rowena Loops, an especially back-and-forth part of the road with a fabulous view over the
Dog on Fire
Look at this adorable feller.
valley at the top.
After spending a not-very-restful night at Viento State Park, nestled between the highway and the railroad tracks, we did the rest of the Gorge the next day. We took a hike at Horsetail Falls amongst mossy trees, blooming bushes, and -hiss- poison oak. Standing in the cavern behind the upper falls with the water roaring down loudly in front was quite a lovely experience. Our good little dog got his paws all muddy and smeared them all over my khakis.
Again, this day was rainy, but bearable. When we got to famous Multnomah, though, that changed. The rain started bucketing down, soaking us in instants. Even Rascal was kind of subdued. We walked up to the bridge overlooking the falls, and then had to beat a retreat back to the RV. After drying out a little we drove on to the Crown Point Vista House, where there was a beautifully restored old shelter and another fabulous view.
Leaving the Gorge, we drove through Warm Springs Reservation to Crooked River National Grasslands, where our map stated a campground was located. Lies. There was no campground, only a picnic table and trailhead. We drove back
a little ways to Cove Palisades State Park, where the first campground was closed, so we had to drive further on 'til we came to the other. Driving alongside the river here though, we saw some cliff swallows. And we say cliff swallows, we mean a bunch that actually lived in holes in the cliff.
The next day we visited Newberry National Volcanic Monument. On our way in, we saw a group of deer jumping fences, demonstrating a beautiful and unconscious grace. After we toured the Visitor Center, which talked about the history of the area, types of volcanic activity, and the history of the monument, we took a hike out on the excitingly named Trail of the Molten Land. Rascal was tempted to go haring off after the ground squirrels living in the rock, but there is little worse for a dogs feet than volcanic rock, so we prevented him. The stuff we were walking over was mostly a'a, the Hawaiian word for 'rough' but also the designation for rough or rubbly types of lava. (The other major type is Pāhoehoe, meaning 'smooth', the lava that comes in thick ropy sheets.)
We went over to the Lava
Beneath Your Wheels...
Lava River Cave in Newberry National Volcanic Monument
River Cave, the immense lava tube in the Monument that passes beneath the 97 freeway. Entering the tube, the temperature drops immensely, causing your breath to billow out in cold white clouds. You have to bring your own lights, which provide just enough light to make the ice near the entrance sparkle eerily. Deeper in the cave, the temperature stabilizes a little, and the water in the back portion is not frozen, instead pushing sand and debris on the cave floor into fantastic sand castle sculptures. Some portions of the tube are like immense halls, others very narrow passageways. Sometimes, the floor is smooth sand. In other places, it is pitted and bumpy lava. In some places, where the lava around the edges cooled while the center was still hot, lavacicles hang from the ceiling and walls. In another spot, another lava tube flows over the one we were walking in.
Obviously, this was a pretty neat place. But again, we arrived late in the day, and we only made it halfway down the tube before we were met by a ranger and turned back. We stayed that night at nearby La Pine State Park, determined to finish our
The entrance to a cave is generally where the greatest temperature fluctuation occurs.
hike the next day.
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