Columbia River Gorge: 4/15 – 22, 2019

We recently enjoyed a week in Troutdale, Oregon. Troutdale is the western gateway to the Historic Columbia River Highway, a 75-mile long scenic highway between Troutdale and The Dalles, Oregon. The road was built between 1913 and 1922 and is noted as being the first planned scenic roadway in the United States. The road, designed by engineer Samuel C. Lancaster, was modeled after the great scenic roads of Europe. Lawyer and entrepreneur Sam Hill worked with Samuel to promote the road. Their goal was to make ‘beautiful waterfalls, canyons, cliffs and mountain domes’ accessible to all. They faced many challenges. I think this plaque, found on a statue of the two men, nicely sums up their great accomplishment.

This beautiful statue of Sam Hill and Samuel C. Lancaster was sculpted by Troutdale local, Rip Caswell. It is perfectly located, with the men looking down the historic road.

Across the street from the statue is where Rip creates his great works of art. We decided to check out the store on our walk into town. Once we got into the store we noticed the bronze sculptures and met Rip. It turns out that Rip sculpted the Nimitz statue we had recently seen while in Fredericksburg, TX, at the Nimitz Pacific WWII Museum. Rip allowed us to get a picture of his original clay sculpture, used to make the mold for the bronze statue.

And here is the picture I took at the museum back in Fredericksburg.

Across the street from the shop is a garden of sculptures, which Rip encouraged us to stroll through. It is used during the summertime for wedding receptions. Here is just one of the statues in the park.

What a lucky town to have such a great artist sharing his work with them. We were thrilled to have stumbled upon his workshop.

After visiting the art center we continued our short walk to Troutdale’s town center. We loved the quaint shops and restaurants along the short two blocks of this historic town. We enjoyed lunch at Troutini, a local restaurant decorated with an early 1900s theme.

We spent a day traveling along the Historic Columbia River Highway, exploring all of the beautiful waterfalls and views.

Columbia River Gorge, as seen from the Crown Point Vista House
Looking back towards Portland, OR from the Crown Point Vista House
Charlie’s drone shot of the Crown Point Vista House, a historic rest stop along the Historic Columbia River Highway

And my favorite waterfall…

The Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge is also beautiful. We crossed the river in The Dalles, OR and drove westward, along the Lewis and Clark Hwy towards Maryhill, WA. The road meanders through the Columbia Hills Historical State Park.

While on the Washington side, we decided to visit Panther Creek Falls. I had seen pictures of this waterfall and had a strong desire to photograph it. As we drove through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest to get to the falls we came upon the national forest service busy removing trees from the road. The hard winter took a toll on this area. You can see these branches hanging off of a precariously situated tree.

Once we got to the waterfall we found that the area to get down to the base of the fall, for the best photographs, was washed out and closed. Bummer! I was restricted to having take pictures from the overlook.

Within an hour’s drive from Troutdale is the highest point in Oregon. Mount Hood stands at over 11,000 feet and can be seen from quite a distance. It is home to 12 named glaciers and snowfields. Below is a picture taken from of Mt Hood from Hood River, OR, 35 miles away.

For a closer look, and for the possibility of reflection on a lake, we decided to head to a little place called Lost Lake in the Mt Hood National Forest. Lost Lake sits at an elevation of 4,150 ft and we found it still covered with ice. Additionally, we found the Mt Hood covered with clouds. You can barely see the mountain in the photo below, off in the distance.

Considering this situation, we decided to try another lake. Trillium Lake sits at 3,600 ft. The road to the lake was closed due to deep snow so we had to walk 2 miles down to the lake and of course, the 2 miles back up the hill to the car. This walk was on soft, but deep, snow. Each step was a struggle. I felt like I hiked 15 miles by the time we were done, as opposed to 4. Anyway,,,,,the view of the mountain was beautiful.

Charlie put up his drone and captured this shot.

Here’s a photo of the road we hiked on to the lake.

After we finally made it back to the car we decided to stop by the Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood where I captured a few close-ups of the mountain covered in snow.

Mt. Hood is majestic and we enjoyed our various explorations of it.

Troutdale is just a stone throw’s away from Portland so we decided to visit the city for a day. We had lunch at Higgin’s with some of Charlie’s friends, we splurged on doughnuts at the famous VooDoo donut shop. We had to wait in line, in the rain, to get the doughnuts.

We visited the Powell Bookstore, dubbed Powell’s City of Books since it covers an entire city block. Most importantly, we visited Pro Photo Supply where I splurged on some new photography equipment. Oregon has zero percent sales tax and I decided that it was important to take advantage of that!

Well, that about sums up our week in Troutdale, Oregon. Our next stop is Port Townsend, WA, our first stop around the Olympic Peninsula. More on that later.

Where we stayed:

Sandy River RV Park in Troutdale. It is along the Sandy River, on the Historic Columbia River Highway. It is within walking distance to the small town of Troutdale and centrally located to the Columbia River Gorge waterfalls, Mt Hood and Portland. We would stay there again. Tip for those who might also consider staying at Sandy River: spots along the river, in the northeast corner of the park, are subjected to a bit of train noise. We were in the mid section of the park, closer to the office, and didn’t have much of an issue.

3 Comments

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3 Responses to Columbia River Gorge: 4/15 – 22, 2019

  1. Sarah Schimmel

    Wow it look gorgeous out there! I imagine the donuts were worth it! Yum!

  2. ROBERT S WILLBANKS

    Thanks Kellie and Charlie for keeping updated on your great adventure. The photos are spectacular as are your descriptions. The food just jumps right off the page. Some of these photos bring back great memories of our ballooning quest that started in Olympia. Not sure your route will take you there, but one of the most spectacular images are of the wild horse statues on the Columbia River gorge. Because of distance perspective they appear to be life size. Actually they are quite huge to provide the size to distance ratio as see coming east over the river bridge east bound.
    Address:

    I-90, Vantage, WA
    Directions:
    I-90 eastbound, about 1.5 miles past the Vantage Bridge. Follow the brown attraction sign “Wild Horses Monument.”
    Looking forward to your updates. Be safe. Miss seeing you at our ballooning adventures. 😉

  3. Mom

    This was fabulous to read The only thing better than reading about it would be to be there The pictures are awesome the drone pictures are also awesome Thanks for taking your time and sharing this wonderful trip you guys are on with us There’s not many people I know who can take adventure like this and share it with their friends thanks again for the wonderful stories and pictures that you have shared love you

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