Wednesday, May 21, 2014

After the R 'n' R, a little R and R

Portland is disappearing in the rear view mirror as I drive the 60 or so miles east to spend a few days in beautiful Hood River.  A little internet research uncovered this little gem of a community and, even better, this stunning hotel on the Columbia River.   It's a Best Western Plus property but is truly a top-tier hotel with gorgeous, spacious rooms, breathtaking views off the room balconies, and a top notch restaurant on the property.  A pretty little bar/lounge features an extensive wine list and live entertainment some nights.  Next door is a Starbucks, and a beautiful walking path traces the river's edge going into downtown Hood River.

Monday morning I checked out of the Hilton in downtown Portland and took a cab to the airport to pick up my rental car.  My GPS was loaded with my route and I hit I-84 eastbound for 20 miles to pick up the still intact stretch of old Historic U.S. 30 that runs parallel to I-84 for several miles, now designated as the Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway .

This short stretch of historic road is packed with scenic vistas, curves, and waterfalls.    As I drove along, I was imagining what it must have been like to travel this road before interstates were built, when it was a major east-west highway across the country.  This little stretch was narrow and twisty in many places, and it traversed little stone bridges with moss-covered stone guardrails.  The roadbed was carved out of the hillside, the stone cliffs hanging over the roadway in places.  A comfortable speed along this road was 20-35 mph, certainly a far cry from the pace we keep on interstates.

Everything is covered in gorgeous!

A beautiful turn-out at the Portland Womens Forum Park, with great views out over the Columbia River Gorge:

View from Chanticleer overlook.  Crown Point and Vista House
can be seen from this vantage point.

A few miles later, I came to the stunning Crown Point Vista House, built in 1917 to be the jewel in the crown that was the newly completed highway, and as a memorial to the Oregon pioneers:

Crown Point Vista House
Gorgeous views in all directions!

View from the Vista House balcony, looking east

View from the Vista House balcony, looking west

I continued east on this gem of a road until I came to the first of several waterfalls, Latourell Falls.

Example of the many little stone bridges, their railings coated in moss

Steep trail to the viewing point for Latourell Falls
Latourell Falls

A few mile later, I came to Wahkeena Falls, a beautiful multi-tier falls that were well worth the uphill hike to get to the midpoint of the falls for a great view of the top half and the lower half of the falls:

0.2 mile switchback trail to viewing point of Wahkeena Falls

Top half of Wahkeena Falls

Looking down at the lower half of Wahkeena Falls

I stopped at one more waterfall, the spectacular Multnomah Falls:

Multnomah Falls

It was a wonderful meander along a spectacularly scenic stretch of historic highway!  US 30 reunites with I-84 about 20 miles west of Hood River, so it wasn't too long before I was exiting the interstate and pulling into the portico at the Best Western Plus Hood River Inn.  Beautiful hotel property!  I checked in and then unloaded the car.  My room is gorgeous!

My gorgeous king room at Hood River Inn, 3rd floor with balcony
overlooking the river

I had a late lunch of a shrimp and crab salad sandwich and glass of local wine at the hotel restaurant overlooking the river:


The view from the balcony of my room:

View from my balcony, looking west

View from my balcony, looking east

Tomorrow:  A stroll into downtown Hood River.
All photos are here:  Oregon Trip Album

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful indeed. And I am so glad the sunshine came out to play.

    Isn't Highway 30 lovely? So much better than the interstate. And I don't think I've ever seen Vista House so empty.