Saturday, June 14, 2008

Memorial Day in the Columbia River Gorge

After driving up the California coast, we staked out sites at Ainsworth State Park along the Columbia River Gorge for Memorial Day weekend. Friends from Seattle were meeting us there on Friday evening for a holiday weekend camping trip. We found two side-by-side walk-in tent sites and set up in both so we’d be sure to have a site when everyone arrived the next evening. We were definitely back in the Northwest – it was gray and drizzly.

The next morning brought more rain. After lying in the tent listening to the rain pound down for some time, we finally got up and made coffee under our screen house. Then we ventured out to find a coffee shop where we could catch up on blogging while staying dry. In the nearby Cascade Locks, we found just the spot – a little ice cream and coffee shop with free wireless and very little traffic. We spent hours hanging out there, blogging and reading the newspaper.

Shortly after getting back to the campsite on Friday evening, everyone started arriving – Brian M., Alex, Kendra, Brendan, Mita, Sarah K., Evan, and Walter (Sarah and Evan’s seven-month-old). Other than Sarah, Evan, and the baby, we hadn’t seen anyone since we left Seattle last October. It was fantastic to see them all.

The weekend was spent visiting, sitting by the fire (and toasting s’mores), and cooking (lots of bacon, of course…). The weather was better than forecasted, except for a thunderstorm one evening. On Saturday, it was even sunny for awhile. We took the opportunity to hike at nearby Multnomah Falls. Multnomah Falls is the second-tallest waterfall in the US, behind Yosemite Falls. Here’s a view of the falls from the base:

Here’s the whole group, except Sarah, who is behind the camera:

Walter enjoyed all the new sights but eventually he could no longer hold his little eyes open:

The hike continued past several more waterfalls:

Monday morning, we packed up all the soggy camping gear. Breaking camp is a lot less fun when everything is wet. Putting wet stuff in the car is guaranteed to make the car smell like wet dog in no time flat. We’ve been incredibly fortunate with the weather during our travels. This was the first rain that we’d encountered since we were in the Smoky Mountains last November.

We’d planned to spend the next week backpacking in the Gorge. However, a look at the weather forecast showed three consecutive days of rain with some thunderstorms mixed in, which made that plan unappealing. After some debate, we drove to Portland instead.

Our first stop was Powell’s Books. Powell’s Books is a veritable warehouse of new and used books that is a favorite stop in the area. We’d heard a lot about it but neither of us had ever been there before. It lived up to its reputation but the sheer size was a bit overwhelming. We spent a while browsing before going to a local second-run theater for a showing of 21. It had been ages since we’d been to a movie theater or even since we’d watched a movie at all. It was the perfect activity for a rainy afternoon.

The next morning in Portland, we drove to Bob’s Red Mill.

Bob’s Red Mill sells a huge assortment of grains and other healthy foods. We bought a bunch of bulk items and then sat outside at a picnic table for lunch.

In the afternoon, we debated for awhile about where to go next. It’s harder to decide what to do when all of the options are going to be wet. Eventually we settled on going back to the movies (this time for The Spiderwick Chronicles) before driving to the Oregon Coast.

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