Sunday, April 6, 2008

Vista House, mistaken identity and the road home

dateline: Seattle
We awoke in Hood River
to a beautifully sunny and sparkling morning, our room this time overlooking the Columbia River. Moving slowly, we planned our route home for the day, contemplating some peeps at the Columbia Gorge waterfalls and spectacular views. Originally, we had hoped this part of the trip would include visits to acquaintances in eastern Washington, but, as academics, they were busy with beginning of the quarter activities. Our alternative was to visit a part of the northwest we had never seen.

Windsurfing, winetasting and tourism notwithstanding, the Gorge is a beautiful place which for the past ninety years at least has attracted visitors both internationally and locally. Many folks in Portland recreate at the Gorge for weekend camping, hotel stays, retreats or even choosing suburban life. [at left, view from Vista House] We saw, in addition to vineyards, other evidence of truck f
arming and market gardening, presumably supplying the groceries and farmers' markets of Portland and Vancouver WA.

Multnomah Falls [right] where we enjoyed a
tasty lunch of sandwiches at Multnomah Falls Lodge built in 1925 is part of the glaciated gorge area where, toward the end of a recent ice age, the Columbia River dramatically cut through the basalt, but the smaller streams drop into the river from high perches in the rocks.
After lunch, we headed back to the parking lot where a man mistook Jim for his back home "buddy," Bob Somebody; this visitor was later seen again at Vista House. From here, we passed several other waterfalls full of early spring runoff. The road above the gorge was carved out nearly a hundred years ago for the benefit of daytripping Portlanders.

Vista House
This is the famous viewpoint high above the gorge which is seen in many photos. It's a charming place, beautifully designed and over 90 years old, and has been restored. [Check out the link: ]
I saw the Illinoisian again who mistook me for his hometown bud, but given my shock at this and typical reticence, did not try to kindle up a new pal--I felt like Oscar Levant being accosted in an elevator. I'm used to thinking of rural folks in Illinois as ethnic German, but this reminded me that in parts of IL near the Mississippi, across from Missouri, culture is very much southern.
After nearly 20 years living in the Northwest, seeing the gorge was much overdue! [below right is Vista House itself from the Women's Forum Overlook]

Alice finally prepared some mailings to post. Usually, one of the alternative tourist activities she enjoys is to go to the post office, whether to mail post cards, complete some art business, or mail packages home or to friends. Completing the packaging at the hotel in the m
orning, she was on the hunt for a colorful, scenic post office along the Columbia; finally she went default with Wiwaxia's navigation system for both fuel and post office. Late in the day, we ran into traffic in Troutdale, where the post office had a long line on Thursday afternoon. [Left, Latourelle Falls, filled with lichen and moss]

Ending as we had begun, we had dinner with Robin, whose adventures in Prescott (pronounced: press-cut) included pick up trucks, hiking and the purchase of a duster--he'd been looking for something like this for more than a year. It was his first close encounter with cowboy culture.
Robin ran a
foul of the Phoenix airport security and missed his plane to Seattle. The resulting rescheduling involved a flight to Oakland, which was delayed. Then, when he missed the connection to Seattle after being directed to the wrong gate, we contacted his Uncle John who picked Robin up, entertained him to a big Mexican dinner and roused him at 5am (!!) to get him to the next connecting flight to Seattle. Robin was able to get back to Olympia in time for a college friend's birthday party.

We arrived home close to midnight. Little Jane was very anxious and very skinny, but seemed relieved to see us. Her appetite is picking up. Serif was slow but pleased to see us. It was good to come home to a clean, "ordnung'' house.

We would like to thank the following people for making our journey possible:
Our gracious hosts, Lara Candland and Christian Asplund, Sarah Teofanov and Tory Larsen, Moria and Steve Peters; all the hotel staff who secured our
reservations, adjusted discrepancies and cleaned our rooms and linen; the staff at the wonderful restaurants, including the thoughtful procurement by chefs, prep and clean up workers, and the servers, especially those with interesting and amusing attitudes; national park staff; our guide in Monument Valley; and our housesitters, Tom and Jamie. Most of the photos in our blog were taken on an iPhone; others were taken in high resolution on a Sony Mavica, then formatted in Photoshop for the web. Some were provided by our friends. Finally, we owe thanks to the makers, who work and reside in Japan, of our car, Wiwaxia, which ran beautifully and generally averaged above 40 mpg, cruising at approximately 500 mi per tankful. We will post our music playlist in the comments sections over the next few days.

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