Friday, July 28, 2017

Beyond Multnomah Falls

Exploring the Columbia River Gorge

Multnomah Falls is thee quintessential waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge.  Beautiful, yes.  Crowded, double yes.  Even so, this is the first place we take our out-of-town guests.  It never fails to impress.  Plus, there's a very good restaurant with a well-stocked bar adjacent to the waterfall that makes a nice outing but . . . .

what lies beyond?  And above?  I mean . . . when you've seen this waterfall a zillion times, you start to wonder. Well, a few weeks ago, I found out.
I huffed and puffed my way to the top of the falls, but wasn't that impressed.  All I could see were the hundreds of tourists below and a few cascading steps of the biggie that can't be seen from below,  but wait . . .

there's more.

A trail continues up, a trail I never even knew existed.  Off we went, my husband, my son and I--off into unexplored territory . . . and

 OMG, there is a whole different world up here, beyond Multonmah.

It is tourist-free, for one thing.   And absolutely gorgeous.  Not only is it a fun trail to hike, but there are numerous waterfalls . . . so many that I lost count.

The various trails are signed up here, but even so, we ran into a few hikers who were lost and had to point them in the right direction.  We turned right at Wahkeena Trail #420 and walked roughly a mile before starting the downhill hike.  The entire loop is about five miles, but I implore you to make the effort if you have the time and the stamina.  

My reward, upon our return, was a big fat hamburger and a chilled lager at the Multnomah Falls Lodge.  I didn't even mind all the tourists.  I had just spent three hours in a world of extreme beauty that very few people were aware even existed. 

There's so much more to see beyond and above Multonmah Falls.

Who knew?
Another Columbia Gorge iconic falls-Wahkeena

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Quilt Row in Sisters, Oregon

Every second Saturday in July, thousands of travelers make their way to this little town in central Oregon to see the 1,300 quilts on display.  The quilts are designed and sewn by fiber artists from all over the world.  They range from traditional to contemporary.  Cutesy-wootsy to abstract masterpieces.

Although we missed the actual show, many of the quilts remain on display in the stores, restaurants and tasting rooms throughout the summer.  We spent a wonderful afternoon going in and out of the many stores to see these colorful quilts.  Many of them were true works of art.
Sisters is a lovely town, surrounded by mountains, lakes and rivers, making it a tourist destination all year round.  The town has adopted a western theme, making it a fun place to stroll.  Since I worked in retail for many years, I thought placing the quilts in individual stores was a brilliant move.  I noticed I walked out with many an item.  A jar of olives here.  A book there.  A pair of alpaca socks.

  Quilts are good for business!

There are some wonderful art galleries, as well.  I took photographs of the pieces I wanted to buy--something that's becoming more and more routine these days.  Sigh.

But, hey, then I could afford a really nice lunch.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Lunch at Crater Lake Lodge

Crater Lake National Park

Of course I knew there would be no vacancies, but I asked anyway.  "How about next summer?" I joked.  "Sure.  I can do that."

  I laughed.  "I think I'll just have lunch here instead."

I've learned that you need to book ahead a solid year for a room at these charming old hotels in the national parks, but seriously, who can plan that far ahead?  Three months out is the most I can plan.  There are too many obstacles and uncertainties in my life to commit to anything beyond that.

But no reservations are needed for lunch so that's exactly what we did.  We put our names in and were thrilled the wait would only be a half hour.  There was complimentary coffee in the lounge and an inviting deck outside, complete with rocking chairs and a glorious view of the blue, blue lake 1,000 feet below.

Our names were actually called before the half hour was up and we were seated at a table by a window.  Sometimes serendipity pays off and this day it did.  Our waitress was quite the comedian, but attentive to our every need.  I ordered the Stacked Seafood salad and it was so beautiful (as well as tasty) that I snapped a photo.  Hmmm.  Maybe there's an instagrammer in me yet.
I have no complaints.  Sure, I would have loved to have gone upstairs to a rustic room and taken a nap.  Come down again for dinner.  Then watch the sunset out on the deck with a snifter of brandy in my hands.

Oh, what the heck.  I'm booking a room for 2018!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Crater Lake Blues

Crater Lake is all about the blues, baby.  No matter what viewpoint you stop at as you drive around the rim road, the color blue is this national park's best feature.  A deep royal blue that is so rich it seems you are looking down on a vast bucket of paint.

We began our tour with a film at the park's visitor center which recounted the blast 7,000 years ago that collapsed an entire mountain, leaving a gaping caldera.  This volcanic crater over the millenniums filled with rainwater and melting snow, eventually becoming the deepest, purest lake in the United States.  A ranger tried to explain the reason for the deep blue color, but it was (I admit) a little over my head--something about absorbing the color spectrum and creating blue wavelengths.

The science is fascinating as always, but it is that blue, blue color that kept us in awe.  We ended up driving only half way around because the east road is still closed due to snow.  With average snowfall reaching 43 feet (!), this place is a winter wonderland.  We vowed to return in January with our snowshoes.

The harsh rugged landscape contrasts with the serenity of the blue water--evidence of the blast that occurred thousands of years ago.  What's left of Mount Mazama are jagged pinnacles and sloping cliffs.  That a cone-shaped mountain used to rise 12,000 feet into the air is another chill-inducing fact.

Crater Lake National Park is located in the south central part of Oregon and is a true gem in our National Park system.