As I my way from the Olympic Peninsula to Boise, Idaho – the start of my long journey back east – I decided to spend a week in the Columbia River Gorge. I had been growing road weary and with over 3,000 miles of driving before my final stop on the Atlantic Coast, I took advantage of a gap in my scheduled visits to lay low for five days in The Gorge. It was my vacation from my vacation if you’ll buy that. Don’t hate me ‘cause I’m aimless.

It didn’t take long to convince me that it was a wise choice. Driving into the gorge from the west during the evening after a brief pit-stop in Tigard to replace my driver’s side mirror (hit a UFO a week earlier in Washington), I pulled off at the first scenic overlook along Old Route 30. Storm clouds were rolling in from the West along the North side of the Gorge, and I was entranced by the steady advance of the dark gray storm clouds and the sheet of rain they carried forward. Already impressed, I remained fixed to the spot where I stood as a rainbow began to form, growing more and more clear until the sun was blocked by the clouds. My timing was impeccable. I gathered myself with enough time to return to the comfort of my parked car before the rain reached me. As I continued driving along scenic route 30 towards my resting point for the night, I began to wonder if 5 days would be enough.

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Unfortunately the beautiful weather patterns that offered me such a spectacular first impression obscured the views of the mountains to the north and south for most of my visit. On the day I arrived at my Airbnb apartment I could see Mt. Adams to the north from just outside my front door, and from the street I could see the imposing and unmistakable figure of Mt. Hood to the south. Here I settled into a sublime daily routine of:

  • Fresh brewed coffee, and eggs provided by my host’s chickens accompanied by some light reading.
  • Followed by a hike to one of the innumerable waterfalls lining the Gorge, enjoying a packed lunch with the roar of the falls or the babble of a brook in the background.
  • Then returning indoors to escape the impending afternoon rain showers which seemed like a daily occurrence.
  • Dinner, often in the touristy yet charming town of Hood River.
  • And to finish the day I’d take a scenic drive to watch, or at least try to watch the sunset beneath the cloudy skies

…I told you it was sublime.

I didn’t mind the rain, and the inability to see Mt. Hood again before I had to head east only added to the sense of wonder its towering peak inspired. Within a half hour of departing Hood River I left the Gorge through The Dalles entering into unfamiliar territory. Gone were the waterfalls and dense green forests. Now, as far as the eye could see were massive, rolling green hills covered in grasses. Beautiful in their own way I set forth into the grasslands of Eastern Oregon, not fully knowing what to expect.

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