May 12, 2008

PORTLAND! It's Green! It's Colorful! It's Spring!

For the past weeks we've heard countless stories about "THE Oregon Trail", so with much enthusiasm we searched the maps, googled it, GPS'd it and I'll be darned, we found it! We spent about 30 minutes at the visitor center, learning all about the hardships of pioneer & settler life, walked out on the huge viewing deck, and saw nothing but a bunch of dust blowing over the valley below (hey, but that's not just any dust that's "Oregon Trial" dust!). So, for a closer look we drove down to where THE Trail is accessible with only a short hike (in the cold howling wind) and found here it is folks The Oregon Trail! Seriously, the Trail does have a rich history and I guess one day we'll have to hike part of it to fully appreciate it.

So, somewhat similar to Utah, we go once again from desert-like prairie to rich fantastic greenery and mountains within just a couple hundred miles. Being from south Louisiana, and having seen the mighty Mississippi all my life, it was hard to imagine a river that would compete in size, and blow the old Ms. totally off the map when it comes to sheer beauty. But, if you never seen the Columbia, you simply must! Now I know how Lewis & Clark felt overlooking this scenic giant....
Our main purpose in traversing the Portland area was to get the trailer repaired in Clackamas (just southeast of Portland proper). So, we spent the first day at the Komfort factory (see Post) getting the tour, etc. While there, and having a couple of days free, we discovered a Frank LLoyd Wright designed home was in nearby Silverton, also the home of the Oregon off we went...

The home had been moved to the Garden site and was orginally built for the Gordon family farm. The exterior was typical of Wright's clean, cantileavered modern style, and in a beautiful hillside setting overlooking a peaceful wooded area. The design used much of Mr. Wright's "poor man's stained glass" both inside & out, adding somewhat of a southwestern flare to the overall look & feel of the dwelling.

We enjoyed a personal tour that allowed us to see just about every space & detail within. Here's a sample of the many interior pictures, which should convey the fine detail & artistry of the

Just across the parking lot was the entrance to the gardens. Our senses were already in heaven from Portland's brilliant tree greens contrasted against striking rhododendron reds punctuated by the intense smells of Spring, when wham we get hit with sensory overload! To emphasize the point, Kim & I took over 200 photos within the garden alone! So, here's just a few of the many...

you can learn more about the home and the gardens at

After the trailer work was complete, we moved across the Columbia to Vancouver, WA to spend a couple of days with kim's paddling friend from Louisiana, Irene Sheppard. Irene was a gracious "southern host" cooking for us the first eve, then making us feel "back at home" in Louisiana by taking us to a Magaritaville resturant look alike in the marina. After a couple of drinks, I could've sworn we were on the lake in Nawlins'.....

Next day found us doing the "scenic drive" overlooking the River on Hwy 14 East, wow what views!
We arrived at Eagle Creek early enough to get a in nice five-mile hike up the creek's cool & peaceful canyon. We first noticed the thick spring-green moss that blankets virtually everything due to the Pacific moisture that baths the area due to the predominently west winds.

The immense size of the trees are a hint of what's to come later this year when we'll explore the coastline on our way back from Alaska. Tiny wildflowers thrive in areas drenched in sunlight between these giants.

A constant gurgle below soothes the soul setting the stage for our first views of the creek, which surprisingly, is home to a new life bird, the Harlequin Duck far below! Other flying cratures are found as we glance downward along the trail.

The path narrows and gains altitude, providing the perfect platform to view the trail's first waterfall....

Farther along we pause before turning back to enjoy "the punchbowl", a long cascade, the favorite of many local photographers and artists.


You might also enjoy sharing the sights & sounds of this nice moment with us through this video: