Oregon Vacation 2013

The excitement for this trip got off to an early start. In the wee hours of Thursday morning, the smoke alarm began to scream. I pulled down the alarm in the hall outside our bedroom, but there was some smoke in the hall and the alarm downstairs was also sounding. After searching upstairs and down, battling the roaring blaze throughout (just kidding), I found the failed power strip and disconnected it. Judith, on the other hand, lay in bed wondering what is wrong with that crazy smoke alarm. The good news- we didn’t die in our bed.

Our flight to Oregon included thunderstorms in Chicago, and delayed checked bags. Fortunately, we carried toiletries and a change of clothes. The bags were delivered the next morning with little disruption to our plans – we even had our boots and hats in time for our first hike.

Sunday was a beautiful day (whoever said it always rains in Portland?). Kansas and several of the area guides all recommended the Eagle Creek Trail. It was a pleasant hike passing three lovely waterfalls. While there was more to see if one continued further, we stopped at the high bridge and returned. Despite the name, we didn’t see any eagles. However, we did see a pair of hawks.

Eagle Creek Trail
Eagle Creek Trail

Eagle Creek Trail - Punch Bowl Falls

Eagle Creek Trail – Punch Bowl Falls

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Eagle Creek Trail - Punch Bowl Falls
Eagle Creek Trail – Punch Bowl Falls

We followed this with some wine tasting, watching the wind-surfers out on the river, and a delightful microbrewery in Hood River. Throughout the day we met many warm, friendly, helpful people – including the 1996 Portland Rose Queen!

Wind Surfing at Hood River
Wind Surfing at Hood River


Monday was another beautiful day. (I thought Portland saw the sun only twice a year, and we’ve already had three beautiful days.) We started the day with a great little hike to Elowah Falls. It is not a very long hike, but had enough elevation change to keep us old hikers interested. The falls are one of the highest in the state, and were lovely. Since this was Labor Day this was a fairly popular destination. There were many families with younger children, and watching them playing in the stream and pool was great fun!

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Then it was time for a change of pace we went to the Bonneville Fish Hatchery. Now you may ask, “how exciting can a fish hatchery be?” Well, they had gone a great job with the grounds – rose gardens and outdoor sculptures all around. The huge Sturgeon and the rainbow trout were interesting. But the Salmon Run was just starting! All the Salmon that had been hatched from there return to spawn. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of fish trying to jump into the breeding tanks. Amazing and great fun.

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After the fish hatchery Judith had selected an interesting little coffee shop in Stevevson, WA, for lunch. We drove across the Bridge of the Gods, chatted briefly with the toll taker – who had never heard of the restaurant we were planning to visit and drove on to Stevenson.

We drove up and down the main street (almost the only street) unsuccessfully looking for the address. Finally we just parked and walked along the street until we found the obscure house number. It was a DRESS SHOP! We went in anyhow. There was a little bar with about three high bar stools! We decided to go someplace that looked more like a real restaurant. We walked up the street to the Big River Grill. A fun place with old license plates on the wall and very good food. My Ruben came with a cup of African Peanut with Chicken – tasty with just a touch of spicy bite.

From Stevenson we drove to the Columbia George Interpretive Center and Museum – how is that for a name? But the center was interesting and we spent almost two hours there looking at the displays covering Native Americans of the area, Lewis and Clark, early settlers and the Oregon Trail. It even has the largest Rosary collection in the nation. (Oh, well.)

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After leaving the museum we drove along the river and visited Beacon Rock, a river landmark since before Lewis and Clark arrived.  However, neither of us was inspired to climb it.

While we knew it would be quite busy, we decided to drive to Multnomah Falls. Yes, there were lots of people, but the facilities handled them well. The falls were SPECTACULAR! I think I could have stayed and watched them for hours.

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From there it was only a short journey along historic Route 30 to Horsetail Falls. This is another very impressive waterfall.


Then back to Cousins Country Inn and Restaurant with it’s John Deere tractor, sheep, horse, and cow (statues) in front of the office. But the room was clean and the bed and the shower were good  – what more do we need?

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Tuesday– Judy/Judith here!  I get to talk about our adventures on Tuesday. We went through part of the “fruit loop” and saw lots of pears getting ready to pick along with apple and peach trees already picked.

Our drive to Mt Hood was spectacular, with the mountain appearing and disappearing with every turn.  Once we hit the tree line, the Timberline lodge came into view.  We never expected to be so enthralled with the place.  Built as a WPA project in 1935-36, it is a living museum.  They had 200+ textile “artists” and many iron, stone and wood workers doing  unbelievable artistic details throughout the lodge.  In the midst of the depression, they not only built this gigantic place in 15 months and employed hundreds of skilled and unskilled labor, but were attentive to making it beautiful!  I walked around with my mouth hanging open.  The iron work alone was amazing, so intricate.  I had to laugh at myself, walking around staring at door handles and railings!

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The curtains in the dining room were fantastic – the clerk at the front desk told us that when they were remodeling/updating the place, they took down the original drapes, balled them up and threw them in the attic!  During the restoration they found them and hung them back up.  The rugs were made from old army corps uniforms.  wood and stone from the area, recycled materials when ever available…etc.  I could go on and on.  The best part was that we had no idea about the history and art!  We treated ourselves to their delicious buffet lunch too.

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Oh and the mountain is pretty amazing too (and still has snow at the end of August)!

We got to Portland about 3:00 and got to meet SAMMY, who is too cute for words.  We introduced Kajsa and Brad to the game Settlers of Catan, and they are  already addicted to it too!

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Wednesday we “were” going to go to the beach today, but now we are getting the weather Portland is famous for,  so instead we went downtown for interesting street food (huh?), a trip to  the largest independent bookstore in the US, and an easy hike in Washington Park.

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Friday, Kajsa & Brad (and Sammy, too) took us out to lunch.  (They know more interesting places to eat!)  Kajsa’s first choice was an interesting ethnic (middle eastern?) place, but it was going to be an hour wait (for lunch? on a week-day?)  Instead we went across the street and down the block to a cute little place serving more traditional fare – my Ruben was Great!  While we were eating, we noticed two men in navy suits and white shirts crossing the street and coming toward the restaurant.  Now, Portland is a pretty “laid back” place, and this was about the first suit & tie guys we had seen.  As they got closer we noticed they had curly wires running up from their collar and into their ear, and one was talking to his wristwatch! Then we noticed the BIG, BLACK SUV parked across the street; and another one slowly drove past.  Finally a group of people, with more men in blue suits surrounding them, crossed the street and came into the restaurant! Some of the suits just stood around the restaurant, while the group of VIPs sat down for lunch.  Judith asked our waitress who was being protected: It was the Secretary of Commerce, who was in Portland talking to Nike and other businesses!   When we asked her which person it was, she had no clue, but neither did we!  (Brad had to look it up for us on his phone).  Sorry, no pictures – we didn’t want to generate “any” concern for the blue suit guys.  (A challenge for you: Do you know who the Secretary of Commerce is – without looking it up?)


Then back to the apartment for more Catan!  And more playing with the baby!  As we left Friday evening I tried to sneak out with Sammy still in my arms … but Kajsa noticed and made me leave him there!

Saturday – The trip home was a little more exciting than planned.  “Somebody” set the alarm for 5:00 PM (instead of AM)!  When we awoke at 5:25 and looked at the clock, panic set in.  Fortunately, we had almost everything packed on Friday night and had scoped out the route to the Airport.  Unfortunately, the route wasn’t as simple as it appeared and we made several wrong turns.  Also unfortunately, we had brought a suitcase that had to be checked — and there were about 30 people in line ahead of us.  When we finally reached the counter it was less than 15 minutes until flight time, we would still have to clear security and the hundred or so people in that line.  The United agent immediately began making alternate reservations for us.  It looked like we might have to sleep in the Chicago O’Hare Airport (OK, the hotel next door), but finally they found their magic wand and we were booked onto new flights and arrived in Cleveland around 10:00 PM.  It was a long, tiring, sometimes tense day – but we were HOME.

It’s great to travel. It’s also great to be able to sleep in your own bed!



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