Tag Archives: Gorge

The Gorge: There and Back Again

Hood RiverIf I thought saying goodbye to the Columbia River Gorge was hard, what’s even harder is living a liminal existed commuting to the gorge and back every week.  Today when I checked into our motel of the week, the clerk at the desk asked for my driver’s licence.  “You live in Hood River!” he said, rather surprised.  “It’s complicated,” I answered.

Complicated isn’t the half of it, sigh.  The future is about as complicated as the past… at least my present is usually peaceful, depending on the moment.  When Ben got laid off in February, his whole company went out of business… or well, everyone but the CEO and owners, so it seemed pretty well dead to us.  With no prospect of a job in Hood River itself (the only other company in town with electrical engineers wasn’t hiring and even the Unemployment office sent a tactful letter suggesting he start his own business instead since he was likely to run out of benefits before finding a job), we decided to move back in with my parents in Lake Oswego.Dog mountain

The job market is not favorable at the moment, as any of you looking for a job knows.  Despite getting regular interviews and looking hard, Ben still hadn’t found employment when out of the blue, his old company asked if he could work again part time.  Well, three days a week driving out to Hood River would pay a bit more than Unemployment.  We couldn’t trust the company to stick around, but well, some money is better than none, so thus started my grand commute.  I’d hang out in the library for three days trying to write while he worked, and he kept apply to jobs.

top of wind mountainWhile it’s long, the drive is certainly beautiful. I’m sick of I-205 and would happily never see it again, but every time I-85 opens up just east of the metro area and ahead the sky and river spread out, every day I see a new stunning view. Clouds and mist, sun and glittering water, there’s endless variety on the gorge, sometimes all in one morning or evening’s drive, as we might go through several patches of rain, sun, fog, hail, rainbows, etc.  Even as it wears me down, it remains stunning.

Now, come June, now the company is asking him back full time.  Leaving us in a truly liminal position.  For one thing, Hood River is now filling up with vacation rentals, so anything not for vacations wants a year lease. We hardly expect the company to last six months, let alone a year.  For another going from 20 hours to 40 hours a week in Hood River is a big jump. We’ll be spending more time in a hotel than we will at my parents’ house.river from the side of wind mountain

Good thing under “occupation” I can put author, or I’d be a homemaker without a home. (sigh)

For the two weeks we switched from commute to motels.  They’ve been a parade of forgetting things, spreading cream cheese on the lunch bagels with the handle of a fork the first week, and eating cereal out of a plastic container every morning the second.  I think I have everything this week, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

Small waterfall

The month of May at least, my writing did not suffer. I picked something straightforward, a full book edit of “Dragon Boy” and accomplished it.  Now I’m regrouping, and my focus will be on “Much Ado About Villains.”  I’m not sure how well I’ll hold up, but on the other side of things, I do have long periods of time in motels ahead of me, which at least is quiet and not too uncomfortable.  I think by the end of it though, whether we get an apartment here or Ben manages to get a job elsewhere, I will have done enough traveling and motel staying to be satisfied for years to come.  My idea of “vacation” will be to live in one place and go nowhere for longer than a year.

At least there’s mountains, rivers, and waterfalls.

More Gorgeness: Mosier and Rowena

This last weekend we had my in-laws up for a visit and we went hiking in the gorge, which put novel revisions on hold, but I had a fabulous time.  We took some nice pictures of the other side of the Historic Columbia Highway State Trail.  This is the Mosier twin tunnels I mentioned when showing pictures of my usual side of the 5 mile trail (which yes, I walked again today like I always do).  The Mosier side is steeper to start out with, but more open, offering nice vistas of the gorge.  Plus, it ends in the tunnels.

Built I think in the 1920s, these tunnels used to take cars, but are so narrow I can’t imagine wanting to drive even down the middle of them in a modern car.  This area is prone to landslides and falling rocks as well, which was why they discontinued this as a one lane section of highway eventually.  What I find the most interesting about the tunnels though, is that they have windows cut into them on the north side so you can look out over the gorge.

Through one of these is someone’s private island on the Columbia.  Now, I know living on a private island would be in many ways, highly inconvenient, but every time I go here, I gaze longingly at that little island.  It looks like such a fun place to live!  You can’t really see the house because they hid it behind the trees right next to the dock, so that it’s mostly facing away from I-84 (the freeway) and towards the Washington side, but it looks like a full house, not just a summer cottage.  Not that I don’t truly live already in one of the most beautiful places in the world, but still, I can dream.

To protect hikers and bikers from the falling rocks, below/past the tunnels is a causeway.  This makes the most dangerous part of walking this not falling rocks, but speeding bicycles.  They really get zooming through both the tunnels and the causeway.  when coming out from the windows in the tunnels I adhere to road rules and carefully look both ways before resuming walking on the right side of the road.  Still, I always find it well worth it.

After Mosier, the Historic Columbia River Highway is open again to cars all the way to The Dalles.  Usually we only take it Rowena, so see the outlook there and then get back on the freeway.  This offers next to Crown Point, some of the most spectacular high views of the gorge.  Since we’re now solidly in the rain shadow of the Cascades by now, the mountains are more bare and rugged, but still stunning and far more green than most people tend to think of them.  I’m not sure where we hit the desert properly, since it’s after The Dalles and I haven’t gone exploring that far yet, although will eventually.

At least this outlook is right off the highway, so if you’re tired you don’t have to walk far to enjoy it.  There’s also here a trail that goes up a nearby bluff with a wonderful sign warning to watch out for poison oak, rattlesnakes, and ticks, but I’ve mostly not walked up it because it tends to be hot this time of year, not for the warnings.  I’ve met a couple people who’ve walked it and recommend it and considering the cougar warning (and linx sighting) at my usual walk in Corvallis, I figure I can handle a rattlesnake warning.  But so far, I’ve only taken the lower trail, that goes out on the flat part in this picture looking west, which has some marshy lakes on top of the cliffs.

So, despite how my great grandmother always used to say the gorge was only pretty west of Hood River, I have to disagree.  Some of what lies between The Dalles and Hood River is now some of my favorite places and stunningly beautiful.  Not to mention the fresh apricots we went u-picking at a farm along the highway… truly delicious.  I’m going to have to go back and get a few more pounds of them before their season is over.