Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Leaving the coast - Latourell Falls, Celilo Falls

August 9

We’re on the road again. After a hearty breakfast at Laurie’s, we headed south to the Columbia, then east past Portland and into the Columbia River Gorge. Our first stop was intended to be Multnomah Falls, but we’d hopped onto historic Highway 17 and came to Latourell Falls first. We hopped out for a picnic lunch overlooking the falls, but when we got to the overlook, we realized there were PEOPLE down there! So, we headed up the obvious trail. Hmmm…up to go down. Something’s wrong here. We backtracked to the parking lot and found our way to the downward trail, then enjoyed our picnic along the creek below the falls after experiencing the breeze and mist available immediately next to the falls pond.

Latourell had everything over Multnomah – beauty, accessibility and no crowds. In our 90 minutes or so at the falls we saw perhaps 30 or 40 people pass by at most. When we drove by Multnomah (which we’ve visited before) it took us 10 minutes just to get through the crowd to drive past the falls. There was no parking available within a mile. Tour buses were loading and unloading. Multnomah’s nice, but the girls asked to skip it after their peaceful, nearly private falls experience only a few minutes earlier.

We also enjoyed this, our second visit, to Bonneville Dam Fish Hatchery, the oldest in the nation at 99 years. V decided she'd like to work here feeding and catching fish. (She's had several jobs this trip that she'd like to do someday.)
We continued east and enjoyed pizza at Spooky’s in The Dalles. This was a spot we’d discovered in our Washington tour in 2005, so we knew we had to revisit it. Lo and behold, Olympic swimming was on the big screen, so we enjoyed Olympics, good pizza and a clean restroom with hot and cold running water before heading to camp at Celilo Park.

Like trains? This is the campground for you, then. We’ve camped in the gorge twice now and I have one descriptor that pretty much covers both spots: NOISY. Trains and freeways on both sides of the river, ships and barges in the river (though those aren’t nearly as loud as the land travelers). We opted for Celilo Park because it wasn’t far from our next morning’s destination, it was the site of the falls Native Americans used before the dam flooded it (now it’s a nice windsurfing lake), and it was free. Good thing! With trains honking at the nearby crossing throughout the night (about every 20-30 minutes or so), free was a much better deal than the state park fee we paid for the same service during our last trip through.

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