Riding along Columbia Gorge to the east of Portland had some appeal but on a hot day and with time running out before our bus to the coast, Toni and I had a car tour up through the mountains around the west of Mount Hood, through some great forest (not all logged forestry monoculture) past a lake warranting more than a drive-by, tranquil Timothy Lake, where the crayfish are famous and people boat and swim.
The winding forestry roads would make for fantastic cycle touring. They are barely one lane wide but traffic is rare and the views into the forest and to the dramatic Mount Hood make the sweat worthwhile. Descending to the Columbia Gorge, if I'd been on my bike I would have gorged myself on the fruit from heavily-laden trees - pears, peaches, nectarines and berries - as well as the wild ones growing on the roadside.
Unfamiliar with long-distance car travel, I found myself dozing off often and was sluggish when we stopped to hop out and photograph the many sights. We saw salmon swimming up the fish ladders and past the underwater fish windows at the Bonneville Dam hydroelectric station, saw rainbow trout breeding amongst immaculately kept gardens and historic buildings and found lunch at the historic Multnomah Falls, another lodge created in the Great Depression time.
Our last main stop was the Crown Point Vista House, a grand octagonal stone building constructed on a dramatic point of rock way above (733 feet) the broad Columbia River. With elaborately swirled window glass, stone and plasterwork, it fell into disrepair and was vandalised but now, restored is a popular stopover, as originally intended (also was built as an observatory). The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and in the National Geographic Society’s 2001 “Save America’s Treasures” book.
Although the road was fantastically scenic and travelling by bike would have offered more opportunities to stop and enjoy the views, I felt very safe in the car. The road is extremely narrow and is very popular with big vehicles, like the mucle truck we were in.
Pam and John got us to the train station in time to secure our bikes and luggage for the bus ride with time to spare to share a final drop at the Noble Rot.....