Destination Oregon, Part 2

The best things in life are the people we love, the places we’ve been and the memories we have made along the way!

I don’t know about you, but as I’ve gotten older, the things that are most important have changed.    So many people, as they get older, look back as say, “Man, I WISH I would have done that… I wonder what would have happened if…”  I don’t want to be one of those people, who looks back on my life with regret, question or wonder.  I want to be able to look back on my life and say “Wow!  Look what I did!”.  I’d rather collect memories, than things.

This post is the sacond part of my Oregon Adventure!  If you missed the first part, you can find it here.  If you enjoy this post, be sure to come back tomorrow and check out the next part of the adventure.  Better yet?  Subscribe to the blog and get updates delived right to your inbox!

In my last post, I mentioned 3 ways that vacatiosn are healthy, so to keep with that trend here are 3 more:

4. Vacations Make You Happier—Neuroscientists have found that brain structure can actually be altered by chronic exposure to stress hormones contributing to depression and anxiety. Research shows that women who do not take regular vacations were three times more likely to be depressed and anxious.  This corroborates a survey that found people who take regular vacations reported feeling extremely happy with an overall feeling of well-being compared to those who did not vacation. And many reported these effects lasting beyond their actual vacation.

5. Vacations Strengthen Relationships—Vacationing with your family or loved ones help forge closer bonds.  Studies have found women who take vacations with spouses report feeling more satisfied with their marriages. Research has also uncovered a correlation between children’s academic achievement and summer family vacations. These shared experiences promote family bonding, which is priceless. Family vacations create more memories than any other activity.  In fact, other studies have found people place a higher value on the shared experiences they have on vacations than the material goods they have acquired during their lifetime.

6. Vacations Help Prevent Illness—There is a whole field of research called psychoneuroimmunology that finds stress and its adrenal dysfunction can alter your immune system and make you susceptible to numerous illnesses.  It can increase your chance of getting infections like colds and the flu, as well as more serious conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome. Some researchers even believe that long-term stress may partially contribute to cancer. A recent survey found that people who take regular vacations report being and feeling healthier.

This brings us to Day 3 of Destination Oregon (Saturday for those wondering what day it is).   Also, just a warning, this post is a bit longer than most and has more photos.    It was really difficult to try and narrow down the number of photos, as today’s adventures were pretty epic!

Since tomorrow was Half Marathon day, we figured waterfalls were the way to go.  There were several that we wanted to visit right along the highway, or a short hike off the road.  Sounded like a good day – a little hiking and seeing the sights!  

After a relaxing morning of breakfast and coffee, we grabbed a few snacks for the pockets and headed out the door.  As per typical Oregon weather, it was overcast and foggy, but that was not going to dampen my spirit – we were heading out to play at waterfalls today!  After actually remembering to drop Yoshi off at Doggy Day Camp, we headed through the city and out along through the Columbia River Gorge.  It’s a good thing Keith was driving as I was too busy taking in the amazing scenery to actually pay attention to the road, where we were going or the other traffic!

First stop… Multnomah Falls

Located about 30 minutes outside of Portland, Multnomah Falls is probably one of the area’s most popular falls and well worth the drive.  You can actually see the falls from the highway, but until you actually park and walk the 5 minutes to get to this water wonder, you can never really appreciate how powerful it really is! It is a short walk up to the bridge, where you are almost guaranteed to feel the spray from the massive falls.   The falls is over 600ft tall and is nothing short of amazing!

Most visitors make it to the bridge, but never wander any further.  This was the original plan… until Keith walked over and said “that sign over there says it’s a mile to get up to the top…  I think we need to go up.”  Just a mile?  Lets go!  I can handle hiking a mile!   So we headed out, stopping to take a few pictures along the way.

What I forgot to take into the account was the change in elevation over that mile.  We quickly realized that this “hike” was not going to be easy.  There were a total of 11 switchbacks along the trail from the bridge to the overlook!  But that was not going to stop us!   This trail is not for everyone!  It is a tough trail, lots of mud, rocks and cliffs.  If you head out here with young children or pets, please keep them both on a short leash.  Ok, maybe not a leash on the kids but make sure you keep an eye on them!  There are no railings on most of the trail and one wrong step could be dangerous if they are not paying attention.

The trip to the top is nothing short of amazing though!  We stopped several times along the way to grab photos and just enjoy the natural beauty around us.  You can also see for miles around, across the Gorge and even catch the occasional ship on the Columbia River.

Finally, we hit the last switch back and made the final approach to the look out platform.  What an amazing view!  There are really no words that can adequately describe what you see and feel when you finally make it to the top… the cascading waterfall below you, the river in the distance and people that look like ants down on the bridge!

By the time we reached the top, we had climbed 85 flights of stairs.  Hmmm… so much for a rest day before the race tomorrow.  Oh well, it was worth it!  We stayed up here for a few minutes to enjoy the rewards of our journey but then started the trek back down the mountain.  We had more places to visit!
When we made it back to the bridge I stopped to grab this photo of the people down below at the lower observation area.  Even from this short distance, they looked tiny.  Kinda helps put into perspective how much higher we were up at the top!  Nestled at the base of the falls is a gift shop and restaurant.  Although we did not stop in either, I have heard that the food is excellent!

Next stop:  Bonneville Lock & Dam and Bradford Island Visitor Center

Created to help with maneuvering and navigating along the Columbia River, Bonneville Lock & Dam is owned and operated by the Army Corp of engineers.  This place is huge!  They say everything is bigger in Texas?  Well, I think Oregon can give them a run for their money!  Not only are the waterfalls huge, but so is this powerhouse!    Since this is a very secure area, in order to get up to the dam and to the visitor center, you do have to go through security and they will do a quick search of your car.  Not a big deal, just figured I’d warn you  🙂

Then on Bradford Island you will find the Visitor Center, which is also home to the fish ladder!  If you come during the right time of year you can see hundreds of fish working their way up the ladder, to continue their journey up the river. We were a little early for fall spawning season, so there were not many fish coming through the ladder today. There is actually someone on site 24 hours a day counting each and every fish, by species, that comes up through.  How about that for a job?  Counting fish.  Honestly, I don’t know that I would be able to remember all the different fish species, let alone keep count of them all! They offer guided tours several times each day and since we timed out visit right, we stuck around for the tour.  While we waited for the tour to start, Keith ran into a few friends that were stationed here as park hosts and working in the visitor center, so we had a chance to chat with them for a bit too.  Then it was time for the tour.  Our tour guide was awesome and it was really cool to hear the history behind the building of this facility.  We had to agree though, the best part of the tour was actually getting to go inside the Powerhouse to see just how massive the turbines and everything else that powered the facility was!  Pictures again cannot do it justice!

And then we headed further east!

The Bridge of the Gods is a massive steel truss bridge that spans the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington (so yes, I did actually make it into Washington on this trip!).  In some (smaller) ways, this bridge reminds me of the Mackinac Bridge, as you can see the water below as you drive over the steel grates!
Driving across it is one thing, not sure I’d want to walk over it though!  Just so you are prepared, there is a toll to cross the bridge.  They do take credit cards, but there is an extra fee to use plastic, so plan accordingly, have some cash with you and save the service fees!
As you cross the river, you can see several small wooden docks below.  These are where, early in the mornings, you can find the locals out fishing.  Many of the fish caught there in the morning, can be found in local fish shops or restaurants later in the day!

Lunch time!

Once we made it into Stevenson, it was time to find our destination for lunch.  It couldn’t be just some ordinary pit stop.  I do have a few rules of eating out when I travel:

  1. No fast food (unless it’s one of the few healthy options that are popping up!)
  2. No chain restaurants (unless it’s a chain that I’ve never visited before)
  3. No place I have stopped before.  (if I repeat a restaurant, I have to get something different)

So, we were on a mission.

We were told that, if we wanted some good burgers,  Big T’s was the place to go!  I guess burgers it is!  We just hiked up (and down) 85 flights of stairs. We definitely worked up an appetite! Warning, this is not a place for the uber healthy eater!  Yes, I do my best to eat healthy and make smart food choices, but once in a while you need to have that splurge.  Eat that burger!  Today was that day!  The hardest part however was trying to decide which burger I wanted.  Then once I decided, the best part was seeing the look on Keith’s face when I ordered my burger!  “What did you just order?  That’s not on the menu!  Is it?  That sounds like something a pregnant woman would order!!”

What did I order?

Yes, I ordered probably one of the most unusual burgers on the menu!  The Peanut Butter Bacon Dill Pickle Burger!  Burger topped with PB, crispy bacon and dill pickles!  Yes, it was different, and yes, it was AWESOME!  Part of life is the adventures you take.  Why not have an adventure with food?  I am not one to go places and order the same thing all the time.  I am on the lookout for the unique items that I won’t find anywhere else.  We were very pleased with our choice for lunch.  Not only for the food, but also for the view!  How can you be in a bad mood when you have rivers and mountains to enjoy right out the window!?!?  

After lunch it was time to start working out way back to Portland so that we could meet Mariah for dinner after she finished work.  Keith of course had to stop at one of the local fish markets though to pick up some fresh salmon to restock the freezer!  When you can get yourself fresh wild caught salmon, that earlier that morning was swimming in the river you just drove across, you don’t miss the opportunity!

With full bellies, we were ready for more adventure, but we needed to make sure we paid attention to the clock to make it back in time for dinner!  Thankfully, the majority of the last stops that still remained on our agenda were close to the road!

Horsetail Falls

Our stop at Horsetail Falls was a quick on.  We stopped long enough to snap a few photos and were off again.  The falls itself is a 176′ drop into a pool right along side of the road.  You don’t even have to get out of your car to get a photo of this one!  The falls is actually so close to the road, that passing cars are often hit with the spray. There is a hiking trail here that will bring you back to Ponytail Falls but we opted out of that hike.  While I was pulling up some of the links to include in this post, I stumbled across the Rock of Ages Loop hike that starts here at Horsetail that I think will need to go onto the agenda for my next adventure out this way (yes I have been planning the next trip since before I came home from this one!)  Just might need to invest in some better hiking shoes for that one!

Bridal Veil Falls

Just a short drive from Horsetail, you will find Bridal Veil Falls.  To get to the falls, it is about a mile walk, round trip from the parking area. Once you reach the falls, you can get some great views of both levels of the falls, as well as the pool in between from the viewing platform.   Definitely worth the short hike!

Be warned, this trail is a little steep, with a couple switch backs and is not handicap accessible.  The stairs that are built into the trail can also be a little slippery when wet, so please watch your step!Latourell Falls

The final waterfall stop on today’s adventure was Latourell Falls.  This is another waterfall stop that is right along side of the scenic highway!  There is not a lot of water that pours over this one, but the height is impressive!  It is a popular stop with limited parking so be prepared.  It actually took us longer to wait for a parking spot than we actually spent at the falls!  Again, there is a hiking trail here (about 2.5 mile loop) but we opted to skip the hike!
Final Stop of the afternoon:  Vista House

As we left from Latourell Falls, Keith decided that we saved just enough time to make a stop at Vista House.  This was all he told me.  Gave no indication on what or where it was, just that it would be more of the “awful” views, similar to those that we had from atop Multnomah Falls.  Oh man, not more “awful” views.  I really can’t handle more of THAT.

I was definitely NOT expecting this!  Simply AWFUL!   (Not even close!!!) The most beautiful, awe-inspiring panoramic views of the Columbia River Gorge!

Yes, it was windy, and we both ended up putting our jackets on just to block the chill in the air, but I was not going to complain one bit!
By the time we arrived, the gift shop at the summit was closed, but we really didn’t stop here for the gift shop.  We stopped for the amazing views

Thanks Keith for another day of adventure, boring hikes and terrible scenery.  Yeah, not even close to terrible, but it ended up being our joke for the week… he was going to keep dragging me to these boring places with awful scenery.  But what’s a girl to do?

Time to head back to town and meet Mariah for dinner after she finished work.  Now it’s  fueling up for tomorrow’s half marathon.  Sushi time!  We hit up their favorite local sushi place and it was just what I needed! With sushi places like this, it is usually pretty easy for me to find options that I can eat and everything is extremely freshly made!  Winner once again! (Can you tell this is going to be just as much about the food as it is the adventure!)

Oh yeah, remember that rest day that was planned with visiting waterfalls?  Never really happened!  By the time we got home, we had walked over 6.6 miles and climbed 104 total flights of stairs.  Oops!

But when you are on vacation and have places like this to visit, sometimes you do what you need to do!  I’m not going to waste a day just sitting around doing nothing!  I have placed to explore!

Nest stop on the adventure:  Half Marathon day and then food…  and more food.

Check back tomorrow for the next update!

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