Much more interesting than The Dalles is Hood River, a town 22 miles west and also on the Columbia River at the mouth of the Hood River–surprise, surprise! Among its claims to fame are the invention of wind surfing (it gets quite breezy here on the Columbia) and several very noteworthy craft breweries. It’s also a cute town to walk around. Great coffee shops, independent boutiques, and restaurants.
Here we are in The Dalles (rhymes with “gals”), which is French for “flagstones,” also used as a term for waterfalls or rapids by the French-Canadian fur trappers who traveled the area in the 19th century. In 1957, a dam submerged the local Celilo Falls, a source of Native American commerce for 10,000 years.
The bridge crossing the Columbia here looks like it’s made of matchsticks!
The Dalles Dam. That’s the barren Washington side behind the dam.
The Dalles Bridge
Surprise! Look who we found peeking over the horizon southwest of The Dalles–it’s Mt. Hood!
We began our five-week tour of Oregon with a trip into the Columbia River Gorge from Portland. The Columbia River is the state line between Oregon and Washington and was the destination of Lewis and Clark back in 1805 when they were searching for a water passage from the United States (east of the Appalachian Mountains at that time) to the Pacific Coast. They knew of the Columbia River–the mouth had been discovered by Europeans in the 18th century. They were searching for a way to get to the Columbia from the Mississippi River.
This is my first time exploring the Gorge since reading about Lewis and Clark’s expedition in Stephen Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage, and I am excited. The river is a lot calmer now than when the expedition navigated it. Gone are the multiple rapids and waterfalls they had to contend with. The many dams built during Franklin Roosevelt’s administration make the river appear more like a lake.
The topography is exceptional. The melting glaciers in Idaho and Montana (Missoula Floods) during the last ice age have carved out an incredible gorge in the layers of basalt left by erupting volcanoes prior to the glacial period. Interesting that the Oregon side is so much greener than the Washington side. Turns out the southwest orientation of the layers of rock cause the Washington side to erode into the river. They lose valuable layers of topsoil, while the Oregon side stays pretty much intact. Beautiful country!
Gateway to the Columbia Gorge–Troutdale, just east of Portland.
The Gorge, looking east from Chanticleer Point.
The Bonneville Dam, the first of FDR’s New Deal dams on the Columbia.
Lunch at Thunder Island Brewing in Cascade Locks. All that history and gorge-ous scenery works up a thirst!
Bucket list item realized last night: Bonnie Raitt in concert! We sat for three hours in a steady rain (Oregon!) and got drenched to the bone, but it was worth it. McMenamin’s Edgefield resort in Troutdale was loads of fun, if a bit muddy. I’m glad I allowed for a day off in our itinerary today. We’re cleaning up the mess and doing laundry.
Bonnie Raitt at McMenamin’s Edgefield Resort
Don’t let the brightness fool you. It rained steadily all day.
This event was six months in the planning–a great excuse to come to Oregon.