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Pacific Northwest Excursion - Day Two

Day One - Tacoma
Day Two - Hood River
Day Three - Hood River
Day Four - Depoe Bay
Day Five - Depoe Bay
Day Six - Cannon Beach
Day Seven - Port Angeles
Day Eight - Friday Harbor
Day Nine - Orcas Island
Day Ten - Seattle

Thursday, July 12, 2001

We awoke refreshed and had no problem being ready for the 8 a.m. breakfast we had requested. Becky served breakfast on the huge wood slab table in the dining room. The first course was fresh raspberries and cream, accompanied by big, buttery croissants. The second course consisted of very good individually baked egg and cheese dishes with potatoes on the bottom, with a side of pepper bacon. During breakfast, we spoke with a woman who was in Tacoma on business (we would love to stay in a b&b while on business!). She worked for a company that was headquartered not far from our home. We inquired about Highway 5 - was it always that bad? Both she and Becky assured us that south of Tacoma, the traffic should be much lighter. We packed our things, thanked Becky and Greg (who laughingly promised to keep the sprinklers turned off while we loaded the car), and programmed Maggie for our next trip. The weather was cooperating. It was quite a bit cooler than at home, and there were some clouds in the sky, but no rain, and we were comfortable in shorts.

We were headed to Hood River, Oregon that day, but had planned a stop at a point we thought would be just right for lunch - McMenamins at Edgehill , in Troutdale, Oregon. Maggie told us it would take approximately 2.5 hours, and she was right. Of course, when we got close to McMenamins, there was road construction and we could not quite reach our destination. We turned around and asked Maggie to show us another route, and she took us around a long country block to reach our destination. McMenamins has several locations, and brews their own beer. Several of the locations also have lodging (including Edgefield).

We chose Edgefield because there was also a winery on site. We ate lunch at their Power Station Pub. Lori had a very good cheeseburger, with homemade chips that she couldn't get enough of. Keith had a grilled chicken sandwich, and Lori helped him to finish his chips. Keith had some of McMenamins wheat beer on tap. This was quite a complex, with an outdoor beer garden, a more upscale restaurant, lodging, and the winery. We walked over to the winery after lunch and did a tasting. It was $5 to taste 6 wines, but they were very healthy pours. We purchased two bottles of their sparkling wine, which we considered a bargain at $12 per bottle. The woman behind the tasting bar was very friendly and conversational.

We got back in the car, headed east on Route 84 towards Hood River. We saw a sign for an exit for some of the waterfalls, so we took the exit. It went along the old Historic Columbia River Highway. The first waterfall we came to was Wahkeena falls, which we could see right from the road. We parked the car and walked closer to get a better look. Wahkeena falls drop 242 feet.

Only a half-mile down the road is Multnomah Falls. If you only stop to see one waterfall, at least see Multnomah. This is the second highest year-round waterfall in the US, and the most visited site in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge. Multnomah Falls plummets a full 620 feet and is breathtaking. There is a lodge at the bottom with restrooms, a snack bar, and dining available. For more information, please visit the Forestry Service page for Multnomah.
After our side trips to the waterfalls, we rejoined Route 84, which parallels the Columbia River, and continued heading east towards Hood River. The scenery in the Gorge is spectacular just by itself. We arrived in Hood River on schedule - around 3:30 (check-in was at 4). We decided to park the car and see if we could check in. Parking was on a hilly side street, and Keith had to back the car in on an angle and a hill - not an easy feat, especially in a rental car. There were meters, so we put some change in and headed inside to the lobby.
The Hood River Hotel is a 100-year-old hotel that is located downtown - we picked it for its location, figuring we could walk to places in town (we were correct). The lobby was beautifully renovated and was impressive. There was a fireplace and seating to the right, and the front desk was towards the back. The restaurant (Pasquale's) was to the left, as was the bar. There was a balcony containing more tables for the restaurant overlooking the first floor. Our desk clerk greeted us with a smile and - after checking her records - said that our suite was ready and we could check in. She told us about a side entrance to make it easier to bring in our luggage. We asked about parking, and she told us the only parking was on the street, and that it was metered (maximum of 3 hours at a time), from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. She offered to have the staff put in money for the early morning hours, so we wouldn't have to rush outside to put coins in the meter. Apparently they do that regularly for their guests, and we forked over several quarters. The parking was probably one thing we would change, but the staff made it as painless as possible.
We loaded our luggage into an ancient, tiny, gated lift to take us to our digs on the third floor. The hotel was quaint. There were many old skylights visible in the hall on the third floor. Our suite was on the corner. The air conditioning was on, but the thermostat was locked and we could not change it. There was a room containing a kitchen, table, and refrigerator - bare bones, but clean. Our bedroom had a canopied queen bed, tv, and sitting area with large closet. There was a step up to the bathroom, with a skylight over the bathtub. There were two ceiling fans in the bedroom and one in the kitchen that were running constantly. It was warmer in Hood River, but the combination of the air conditioning and ceiling fans kept the room at a steady 70 degrees the entire time we were there.

It was shortly after 5, and again we were hungry since our stomachs were still on east coast time. If you are handicapped or have trouble getting around, Hood River may not be the best place to visit. It is full of hills and steps. We got a workout walking up Oak Street (the main drag in Hood River). We had picked up a directory to Hood River dining at our hotel and had a few places in mind to check out. We went 5 blocks up Oak and then turned down towards the water, where we found the 6th Street Bistro and Loft, 509 Cascade Street, Hood River, OR 541-386-5737. It was a beautiful day, and we chose to dine at a table on the upper deck. We had decided to try local things whenever possible, and Lori was happy to see there was a sparkling wine from Argyle on the wine list, which is what we chose (Lori had planned a later stop at Argyle winery). Our server was pleasant and asked us if we were celebrating anything. We just smiled and said, "vacation." We were in for one of the best meals we had on this trip. We were served wonderful herbed warm bread (we asked for seconds). Keith had a side salad with herb feta dressing. We split some chips and fresh salsa. The salsa was some of the best we have ever had - tasty and had some heat to it. It had just the right consistency - not too chunky, yet solid enough that it stayed on the tortilla chips. We ate ALL of the salsa. Keith had some penne pasta with mozzarella and parmesan in olive oil and garlic sauce with tomato and onion, while Lori ordered pad thai with shrimp. The meal was so savory that we just sat back and relaxed and enjoyed all of the fresh, complex flavors.

Afterwards, we decided to walk off dinner. We walked uphill a couple blocks - and these are serious, very steep hills. They could have used steps - no kidding. Oh well, it was good for us. Then we got to walk downhill about five blocks, as we headed to Big Horse Brew Pub, 115 State Street, Hood River, OR 541-386-4411. It is a nice-looking place with a man-made waterfall out front. It is a hike up many more steps, but is worth the hike. We went up to the bar on the top floor, called Horsefeathers, which has a loft for entertainment (the band members have to climb up a ladder). It was open mic night, and the live music began early. One began singing, accompanying himself on guitar, and more joined in. Climbing the ladder pretty much knocked out the possibility of female performers wearing skirts or dresses unless they were exhibitionists (there were diners immediately below). The performers hung a pitcher down by a rope for tips. Keith tried their "Hoof-a-Weizen" and Lori sipped wine. We enjoyed the impromptu acts, which started early (we think they started at 6) and ended at 10. We stayed nearly until the end, and then walked downhill for one block to our accommodations and crashed.

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