Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cement Stonehenge

August 10, 2008
Got a fairly early start (out of camp by 8:30) to get to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center in The Dalles by opening at 9 a.m. The center was even better than I remembered it. They’ve added new exhibits and expanded upon old ones. There’s a Lewis & Clark exhibit, and a wing that covers a brief history of the gorge from the ice age to present, and there’s a theater that plays various Gorge-related films throughout the day. We, of course, caught the National Geographic Lewis &Clark film. There’s a very small area dedicated to hands-on experiences for kids, but it lacked the energy and creativity of the rest of the museum. Even a bit of music or other sound effects (this would be a great place to play Native American lore) would have added quite a bit to the room.
From here we traveled to Maryhill State Park for a picnic lunch at American Stonehenge. The concrete replica of England’s landmark was built as a war memorial. It stands among the arid hills that extend east of the Gorge to the Columbia Plateau. As I looked over the river at this very rural area, I wondered what Mr. Hill so enjoyed about this place that he built an art museum, experimental road, and war memorial below which he had himself entombed. The view of the river is wonderful, but there’s little shelter from the burning sun, not much color (perhaps in spring the wildflowers are remarkable). Still, we enjoyed our view as we picnicked and wondered.

Along the way, we inadvertently found this marker for the Oregon Trail. The girls, who had learned a lot about the Oregon Trail, its trials and travails, were thrilled. We checked out a bastion, talked about how the trails crossed (and why) and carried on toward camp.
Camp was at Wildhorse Resort on the Umatilla, Cayuse and Walla Walla tribes’ reservation near Pendleton, OR. Our first RV park – nice for a shower and a swim, and not too crowded since it wasn’t sold out. Very nice people operating the park.

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