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Unread 11 Jul 14, 11:01 PM  
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geoffa
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In the footsteps of Lewis & Clark - Day 2

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Day 2 Huckleberry Finn-ish!

Sunday 22nd June 2014

PLEASE WAIT FOR PHOTOS TO LOAD AND RESIZE. THANKS.

We both wake around 4:30 a.m. Silly-o-clock has kicked in. From our window we can look up Elliot's bay at the bottom of Puget Sound and a cruise ship is passing by.



Trips to Alaska depart from here. Tea and coffee is made. Whilst I could trail down to the lobby for complimentary coffee I prefer my Earl Grey tea. We bathe and clean our teeth and I am ravenous. A pack of Oreos from the bar snacks tray is promptly devoured. We get a Raid the bar voucher with our stay a value of $10 - so when the tin of assorted salted nuts is added weve blown that offer.
I start this report whilst Darrin sorts emails. Being Sunday morning things are quiet both on the technology front (Darrins business) and in the street below. We now grab coffees from the hotel lobby - love that in American hotels. Im looking for postcards. Darrin has an Auntie that doesnt do computers and so things have to be done the old fashioned way. Stamps are not a problem as I bought a sheet of 20 Global Forever stamps direct from the US Postal Service some months ago and had them shipped to the UK. Well worth the no hassle factor.
We go out into First Avenue and down to the waterfront. We walk about 6 blocks up towards Pike Place Market. This is where the ubiquitous company Starbucks was started by 3 guys back in the 70s. We find a bronze pig. This is a sister to Rachel, the one in Pike Place Market. In a year these giant money banks collect $9,000 for charity from the various currencies pushed into them.



We cannot find the newsstand we asked about so we walk back along the waterfront reminiscing about our last visit here in 2006, almost 8 years to the day. There is a restaurant called Elliots where they do beer batter fried oysters to die for! We return to the hotel up a San Francisco type street which is like the north face of the Matterhorn! Steep, then flat and then steep again. Im out of breath by the time we reach the Alexis. Breakfast is taken in the Bookcase. It is not a book shop its an eatery / coffee shop.



We have the usual fare my eggs are over-easy with bacon and small roasted potatoes and I have a chicken sausage patty on the side.



Ive brought sachets of HP sauce with me because I like it with my bacon. The server is most intrigued when later he collects the plate. Darrin opts for Eggs Benedict which he adores. We are, of course, drowned in coffee and orange juice by the friendly, attentive servers. So we are good to go.
Our route today is to the south on the I-5 Freeway. It will take us back towards the airport and in doing so we pass Boeing Field. This is probably the very place that our plane over from the UK was born. It stretches some 5 or 6 miles in length with its own runway and an ex Presidential Air Force One and a Concorde (which they didnt build) on display. The site lies about 6 miles south of the city of Seattle. You can take a tour, which wed love to do one day, but dont have time right now.



We plough on towards Kelso. In doing so, we can see Mount St. Helens to our left.


This is the volcano that blew back in 1980 surrounding the area in volcanic ash so that everywhere looked like it had snowed. People had to wear breathing protection for weeks until it all finally settled. As you approach it looking east it appears to have a perfectly flat top. From the south east side you can see where half the mountain is missing it kind of blew sideways. It devastated thousands of acres of mature trees flattening them in its fury. You cannot imagine the massive energy that nature released that day. The new cone that is forming is still smoking! Just south of Olympia we come to Tumwater which has a large Walmart. Retail therapy is already beckoning. Seriously, we want one of those Styrofoam picnic coolers. Filled with ice from a hotel machine, they make a great little fridge in the car for drinks, sandwiches etc. Back in 1992 they were barely $1.99. These days they are close on $8. We also buy some gum and candy and Darrin stocks up on boxer shorts. He loves the ones made by Haines. I buy a postcard featuring Seattle for sending to Auntie Kath. We also grab two coffees from the in-store Subway. Darrin doesnt function well until he has about 3 cups of coffee in a morning.



We now divert off the I-5 which has many military bases bordering it on either side and on to the State Road 205. Just before we leave the freeway we see police vehicles and fire trucks on the other side attending a burnt out truck which is hideously twisted as the result of some collision. The resulting tailback is some 5 miles long! Thank Heaven we are headed the other way. At Vancouver (not the Canadian one) there is a Westfield Mall which will obviously have a food court. Weve been on the road for close on 2 hours with the small break at Walmart. I love the Chinese food you can get in these places. At Panda Express I go with orange chicken with smokey bacon bits, walnut honey prawns with fried rice and noodles. Darrin shares with me.



To accompany this I have a regular Sunrise Mist soda (lemon and lime). Regular ? I could have bathed in it. I end up leaving 2/3rds of it. No wonder the US and the UK have an obesity problem.
We pass by the east side of Portland and onto the I-84 which is south of the Columbia River. All the guide books (and our friend Lana) say if you want speed use the Lewis & Clark Highway to the north but if you want scenery use the way we are going. At Troutdale you leave the Interstate to join the historic and extremely beautiful Route 30.



As we approach Corbett there is a sign to say the road ahead is closed. We are thinking: Oh! No. Thankfully, there is a small diversion and we are back on track. The first scenic stop is Vista House at Crown Point . From this amazing building, created as a rest stop for motorists back in the 1920s you can gaze down on the gorge and river below. Stunning doesnt do it justice.







This glacial tear in the basalt rocks form a mile wide river which in places is 4,000 feet deep! The canyon stretches for over 80 miles (130 km) as the river winds westward through the Cascade Range forming the boundary between the State of Washington to the north and Oregon to the south. The Vista House has restrooms of marble and is said to be one of the most expensive restrooms in the world in its time! There is a gift shop so we spend twenty minutes or so admiring the view, making ourselves comfortable and buying another postcard for pre mentioned Auntie. We wind down road - wise on a series of figure 8 switchbacks into the most verdant forest cut through by the historic road. Its reaching 79F today outside the car and it is a perfect Sunday afternoon. The world and his wife are out today. Along the way is Multnomah Falls a 620 feet high waterfall cascading into the greenery below.

Only 3 others in America are taller. Breathtaking ! There are various other falls too Latourell, Bridal Veil, Horsetail and Wahkeena all beautiful and wondrous. The parking is a nightmare. At Multnomah we have to leave the car a quarter of mile down the road and walk back to the vista. Time is getting on and we need to find our hotel where we will stay for the next two nights. The Columbia Gorge hotel is an historic landmark, built in the 1920s. When you see the exterior, if you are a Disney aficionado, it immediately reminds you of the Hollywood Tower of Terror at the theme parks with its art deco / mission style tower.

This is enforced by the fact that the elevator is an Otis original with a hand operated control lever!

I swear I saw ghosts in the corridor on my way to our room!



When Darrin goes exploring later he finds a function room with flickering electric candles and Vera Lynn playing in the background. I kid you not. To be fair its a delightful building, financed by an ex lumber guy and in its time it has seen the likes of Rudolph Valentino who stayed here and for whom the terrace is now named and also President Teddy Roosevelt.

Don and Lana come down to the hotel to collect us. They live the other side of the river at a place called Mill A ( a long gone lumber saw mill?) and it takes them around 25 minutes to get to us.



When they arrive we have hugs and hand - shakes and Lana gets a little excited. We have always promised to coming knocking on their door and here we are 9 years later about to do it. The car passes over the toll bridge at Hood River and starts to climb the north side of the gorge. At the top, we pullover to get out and stare across at the magnificent Mount Hood. It stands nearly 12,000 feet high and like most mountains in these parts its peak is snow covered all year round.

We carry on along Cook Underwood Road and eventually reach their home. We have seen photos but to view it in the flesh is just wonderful. Their grandson Zaine is home as is their miniature Dachshund, Max. Zaine is a little shy of us and after saying Hello he retires to his room to play on the computer. No different to our nephews!

We have so much to catch up on and sit enjoying a glass of iced well water. Yes - they have their own water source and it has been tested and certified as totally safe to drink. Don and Lana are looking good on it.

Once again, just like our meet with Janine and Mark in Seattle, we talk about anything and everything as we tour their land. In one part they have created a peaceful memorial garden to their daughter who they lost tragically and where a stream is fed from a pond and eventually runs into the wetland. It is a semi shaded place where you can sit and contemplate. Their hostas thrive here unlike my slug eaten offerings back in London. They even have a huge barn. Deer come and feed on geraniums around here and humming birds flit to and fro. They have a huge noble fir tree and we calculate it must be some 40 odd feet high. Its rather like the Norwegian one they put in Trafalgar Square, London at Christmas time. Dinner tonight is going to be smoked Alaskan wild salmon. Wild salmon is so much redder than farmed varieties. The two fillet sides are enormous and Lana cuts them into smaller pieces and seasons them so Don can put them in his smoker his new toy! With boiled and buttered potatoes and a mixed salad its delicious. This is why I strongly refute the America is all burgers and fries brigade.

To follow, is Huckleberry pie with Cool Whip. Huckleberries taste like blueberry crossed with cherry well, thats my opinion. A great way to finish a meal hence todays title.
Don transports us back to the Columbia Gorge hotel and by 10p.m. we are settled in bed. All we can hear is the rush of water from the falls just down the way from our room.

Car Mileage today 238 miles. Total so far: 289miles

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Edited at 04:44 PM.
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Unread 12 Jul 14, 06:08 AM  
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Taffy1959
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What amazing scenery looks fantastic
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Unread 12 Jul 14, 02:51 PM  
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geoffa
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Taffy1959 - thanks for the comment. The scenery is just wondrous. America never ceases to amaze us with its contrasting geography. Those mountains are truly grand and I kind of envy our friends who live there. They moved to White Salmon from San Diego when they got fed up of city life. ften in these parts you don't pay for contractors etc. Say if Don did some electrical wiring for you on your porch, you'd give him a couple of chickens and four dozen eggs!
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Unread 12 Jul 14, 03:17 PM  
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Really enjoying your TR - different from the norm and very appealing. It's a while since I've been over to the West Coast and this is making me want to go back even more! Those views are so gorgeous, I can only imagine how they looked (and felt) in person.

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Unread 12 Jul 14, 03:26 PM  
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Originally Posted by geoffa View Post
...America never ceases to amaze us with its contrasting geography. Those mountains are truly grand and I kind of envy our friends who live there. They moved to White Salmon from San Diego when they got fed up of city life. ften in these parts you don't pay for contractors etc. Say if Don did some electrical wiring for you on your porch, you'd give him a couple of chickens and four dozen eggs!
Brilliant!

I love the variety of the North American continent, too, and it's why when a West Coast trip is considered I always want to add on places...

Start in Vancouver and head south - Have to visit the Rockies on the way to Vancouver - Might as well start in Eastern Canada then - Whilst on the East Coast what about New England? Etc. etc.

Just need 6 months (or more?) and an unlimited budget!
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Unread 12 Jul 14, 07:02 PM  
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Another fantastic day! the scenery is amazing, i would love to do a trip similar to this all the routes look so amazing and just the idea of seeing different places from not so touristy points of views.

Your dessert and whole dinner sounds fantastic, very jealous! xx
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Unread 12 Jul 14, 09:32 PM  
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I've enjoyed reading it, but for some reason today I can't see any of your pics, apart from a thin sliver at the top of each one
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Unread 12 Jul 14, 09:32 PM  
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Such beautiful scenery. How wonderful to meet up with friends too.
Had to laugh at you taking sachets of HP sauce along, We took some to Florida this year, I'm sure the waitress at Bob Evans looked puzzled!
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