We dedicated today to exploring the Columbia River Gorge via our nation's first scenic highway. The
Because the road was built to accommodate the limitations of cars of the time, it has a maximum grade of only about five percent, and the switchbacks have a minimum radius of 100 degrees. These qualities make the road attractive to bicyclists. It is very unnerving to share a narrow two-lane road that has no shoulder with bicyclists, who could be around any turn. Between worrying about hitting a bicyclist and worrying about being hit by a car rounding the next curve while passing a bicyclist, I was a nervous wreck on the hilly sections of the road. And, I wasn't even the one driving the car.
We stopped in the colorful and quaint town of
We picked up artisan sandwiches at a bakery in town, then headed to the river to watch the wind sports. A class of about twenty people was learning to sail board in a sheltered cove, and about a dozen more people were on the beach or in the water without boards, just working on mastering their kites in the stiff winds blowing across the river. About five people were flying across the river on kite boards, and it was a thrill to watch them. Closer to shore, we got a kick out of watching a five year old boy learning to wind surf on his own little sail board—his mom had a leash on the board she used to pull him back to her when he lost his grip on the sail or lost his balance.
Next stop was a visit to the Bonneville Dam and Fish Hatchery, where we ate lunch in a little park next to a quiet stream by the Fish Hatchery. Then we learned more than we ever thought possible about in vitro fertilization and hatchery raising of salmon, and we watched through a window to see fish swimming up a fish ladder beside the dam. The window was next to a similar window in a room next to us, where a fish counter sits all day long and counts what she sees swimming by. Is there a more boring job?
We skipped the tour of the power house and exhibits on hydroelectricity, because we were eager to get to the main event—the waterfalls.
The scenic highway rolled through hillsides covered with firs and ferns. Every few miles there was another beautiful waterfall to pull over to see, and lots of trails to walk to different vantage points to admire the falls, or enjoy the woods.
The tallest of the falls is
We stopped at every opportunity, admiring the falls, the verdant green forest, and the many wildflowers around the falls trails. Further down the road, we hiked in to the vigorously churning
The scenic highway comes to its climax at
We wound our way down from