The drive along the Columbia River was spectacular and dramatic. We stopped along the way to hike on some of the Gorge’s trails, some of which were fairly steep climbs. We found a quaint but basic motel with a water view that I managed to haggle down to $70 just outside Hood River. While known to be a tourist destination for Portlanders in the summer, it was relatively quiet in comparison to what Bostonians might contend with along the Maine coast. Water falls also line the scenic highway stretch including the two-tiered 642 foot Multnomah Falls.
Hood River didn’t offer much variety but it had beauty. Surrounded by water, the state’s highest peak at 11,240 feet high, and charming restaurants, it was a peaceful place. From C’oeur d’alene west, the food had been dramatically improving, which was a godsend after so many truckstops and Buffalo burger diners in the midwest. Check out the Egg Harbor Cafe on Oak Avenue…..try out their traditional diner-like fare while you read the local morning paper.
Another thing that I loved about the area is its authenticity. Not only were so many of the trails and falls untouched, but traces remain of the “old west” and “western culture” at some of the Columbian Gorge rodeos and museums. Native American museums can be visisted at Warm Springs, Oregon and Toppenish, Washington.
Along the river, we ventured slightly north for a bit of wine tasting in the Columbia Valley vineyards region. We hit close to a dozen vineyards over two days, including Barnard Griffin, Badger Mountain Powers, Bookwalter Winery, Hogue, Kiona, Kestrel, Terra Blanca and Columbia Crest.