The Great Northwestern Adventure! – Part 3 Of Many

9 January 2012 in Reviews, Trails/Hiking, Traveling


A Tree Blowing in the WindWow! New Year’s Eve can take a lot out of ya. I’m usually not one to get very many hangovers, but boy it was difficult to get myself upright this morning. I felt fine curled up on the bed, but each time I tried to get up the contents of my stomach would rearrange and become confused believing upward was the proper channel for exiting. I never let them out in that direction and eventually they settled enough to allow us to head out on a day trip. Today we planned to visit the Columbia River Gorge. The Columbia River forms the natural border between Washington and Oregon. As it approaches the ocean it cuts deep and wide into the surrounding land forming massive cliffs, pillars, and other striking rock formations. Set within some of these massive cliffs are cascading waterfalls and additional gorges.

Women's Forum OverlookOur first stop was Women’s Forum Overlook. This viewpoint provided a beautiful view of the river and gorge stretching east, back towards where we were headed. The wind here was gusting at fairly high speeds. The speed at which you are required to lean into it a little to keep from being toppled over. This reminded us of our trip two years ago to the Badlands of South Dakota. But this was nothing to what we would experience at our next stop.

Crown Point Overlook Vista HouseAs we gained elevation and ventured closer to the river the wind began to rock our heavy truck back and forth at it’s will. After pulling to a stop in the parking lot for Crown Point Overlook Vista House we hopelessly waited for a break in the wind. By this point the wind was steadily shaking our truck to the point where it felt as though one set of wheels might be leaving the ground. We gathered up our courage and with great strain pushed our doors open letting them slam behind us in order to keep all of our fingers. The wind was so insane we could do nothing but laugh. It blew us around like rag dolls. It took all of our might to make our way down to the viewpoint. On film, without the sound of the wind we would have looked like a pair of drunks struggling to walk a straight line. I’ve never experienced wind like this in my entire life. If you’ve seen the weather man being blown over in a hurricane that is the kind of wind I am talking about and in no way, shape or form am I exaggerating. At one point the wind caught me slightly off guard and began to skillfully direct me toward the road. I was completely powerless. I’ve never felt such a lack of control. All my muscles were straining to change my direction and a second before I would have had to fall to the ground or be blown into a car it let up just enough for me to take a step towards safety. It must have looked ridiculous and been a bit confusing to the people in the car. Eventually we clumsily made our way to the railing overlooking the river unfortunately we will be unable to provide you with a photo of the beautiful view. There was no way for Lindsay to even keep her camera steady enough for a picture.

Multnomah FallsThe next stop was Multnomah Falls, the magnificent double waterfall that had jumped off of the pages of the several brochures we had for this area. This was what had dragged my out of bed earlier. Multnomah Falls cascades down over a towering 542-foot cliff crashing into a pool below. Then it continues a short distance, travels under a walking bridge then tumbles over an additional 69-foot falls. It is impossibly beautiful and should be represented here by one of Lindsay’s wonderful photographs. We hiked up to the viewing area at the bottom and took in this natural wonder craning our necks way back to take it all in. Then we proceeded up to the walking bridge where we stood in awe directly above the roaring lower falls with the upper falls crashing down immediately in front of us. It was tough to get pictures in this area because of the crowds so we headed over the bridge and up the trail. Initially we were unaware as to where this trail led, but after a few switchbacks we discovered that this trail carried you up to the top of the waterfall. It was a strenuous hike to say the least. Back and forth, back and forth, and back and forth. It was somewhat of a blessing and somewhat of a curse that at the end of each switchback was a sign stating the number of switchbacks you had hiked and the total number to the top. 2 of 11, 3 of 11, 4 of 11, we’re almost halfway there I guess. And these were long, steep switchbacks. Eventually we made it to the top and were greeted by an amazing view of the river, but not much of a view of the falls. There was a viewing deck set dangerously close to the falls, but it still couldn’t provide much beyond an understanding of scale and height. You couldn’t really see the actual water falling down.

We hiked back down and ventured forth onto to a side gorge and an additional falls, but both paled in comparison to what we had seen already. Someday we shall return for a more thorough exploration, but for now it was approaching dinner time and stomachs now serve as watches so we turned the ship around and headed back to Portland.

Vita Cafe was to be our restaurant tonight. When we get the chance to eat at an all vegetarian restaurant we have trouble saying no. Here we ordered tofu wings, sandwiches, and soup. The wings were amazing! According to Lindsay they were the best wings she’s ever tasted, but I disagreed having a soft spot for the shear quantity of the tofullo wings served at The Palomino back home in Milwaukee, WI. I will admit, purely based on flavor I think my mind could be changed, but I’d need a direct side by side comparison. Next came the soup Lindsay had southwestern stew with beans, corn, etc. Essentially a chili. I got a Thai coconut soup with a creamy broth, mushrooms, onion, etc. Both were equally good and savory after a long afternoon in the brisk air. For our sandwiches Lindsay ordered a rueben with fake turkey—god I love this girl. You know she’s German and a keeper if she likes sauerkraut. I got the Philly cheesesteak with seitan. We never tire of big, sloppy sandwiches because most of the time, as a vegetarian, you’re choking down a dry, overcooked veggie burger while watching others munch on a greasy, mess of a sandwich.

It was our last night in Portland, but after a couple of long nights out and a few long nights ahead of us in Seattle we decided to take it easy tonight and go play some video games and pinball. We had read of a place called Ground Kontrol in which there were a wealth of vintage video games and wide range of pinball machines. We had considered going there for New Year’s where they had a deal – $15 all you can play with a champaign toast at midnight and in hind sight we probably should have. So we looked it up on Google Maps. It appeared to be just under two miles away a seemingly short distance until you consider the miles we had already accumulated walking all over this city. But we decided to leg it anyways. With sore feet we eagerly approached the street it was supposed to be on. Darkness. The directions required only two very simple turns and Lindsay and I had both looked at the map multiple times. We were sure this was it. But all the block contained was a closed home security store. With heavy hearts and even heavier legs we turned around. This city had done it’s best to defeat us and this was the final straw. Every single day we found ourselves lost in what seemed to be simple scenarios which made these situations all the more frustrating. The first day we had seen, literally seen some intriguing bars with pool tables, but upon attempting to return they seemed to vanish. Then we later found we were only a block shy after we had walked back and forth over the same stretch of six of seven blocks three or four times. The next boondoggle came the second night when we assumed all of Hawthorne Street would be the Haight/Ashbury type neighborhood we had read it would be. After walking the twenty blocks to get to Hawthorne we walked another twenty blocks of Hawthorne and found absolutely nothing. Later we would find that the cool part of that street doesn’t start until the fortieth or fiftieth block. Tonight we had walked four miles for nothing and upon returning to our hotel we discovered somehow we had entered the address wrong. It wasn’t “NE Couch” it was “NW Couch”. Fricken cities based on quadrants! The place we had been looking for was less than a mile from our hotel. Fudge. After walking what seemed to be a hundred miles over the past three days we shamefully traveled via truck this meager distance.

Feeling down and beaten we entered a two story building teeming with excitement and packed floor to ceiling with the video games and pinball machines of our youth. Our spirits were immediately lifted and a wonderful sense of nostalgia came washing over us. With fifteen dollars in quarters in our pockets and a beer in hand we entered a strange dream world where we warped back to being kids in a bar, but our parents weren’t there, we were old enough to have a beer, there was more than one video game to play, and we had more quarters than we knew what to do with. There was just about every game we could have wished for: Area 51, Donkey Kong, table top Pac Man, Double Dragon, Street Fighter, the original Mario Bros., Tetris, NBA Jams, The Simpsons, Killer Instinct, and many, many more. Then the upstairs was almost entirely pinball. There had to be almost twenty machines ranging from a newer Spiderman machine to a very old machine, the name of which slips my mind, but it had a bowling theme and a very slow, almost level table top. In addition to these two there was: South Park, The Simpsons, The Adams Family, Terminator 2, Star Trek, Star Wars, The Twilight Zone, Attack From Mars, Dr. Who, and many more I had never even heard of. We both love pinball. There’s something about the visible and physical mechanics of the game that’s just so alluring to us. That paired with the sheer chaos of the game is what I think makes it so appealing. I love how I can walk up to any machine, drop in a quarter and triumph or fail with very little knowledge as to how or why. Lights flash, machines talk, the ball flies up and down ramps, gets trapped, gets lost. Sometimes, for no discernible reason a whole slew balls comes flying out at you and you have to frantically attempt to juggle them for as long as you can. For those reasons we spent most of our quarters on pinball and held the inaugural Lindsay vs. Dan Pinball Tournament. For a couple we’re actually pretty evenly matched. Lindsay tends to be a little better at mini golf and I tend to be a little better at pool, but there’s always a good chance of an upset. Though we both love pinball we had never had an opportunity like this to hold a tournament. So we decided we’d each take turns choosing a machine and writing up our scores each time to be tallied later on. I am proud to say I emerged victorious. I expect at trophy shall arrive shortly after we return. I understand engraving takes time.

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9 January 2012 Reviews, Trails/Hiking, Traveling

2 Comments to The Great Northwestern Adventure! – Part 3 Of Many

  1. I went to the Columbia River Gorge a few years ago! We hitch-hiked to the top (in a red convertible!!) and rode our skateboards down to see all of the waterfalls. Backpacks and all. It was actually pretty scary. But It’s such a beautiful area. Multnomah Falls is breath taking! And I had some tuffalo wings at the Palomino the other day and thought of you! Miss you guys! Sounds like you’re on such a great adventure. Let me know whenever you stop in Milwaukee!

  2. Melanie on 10 January 2012
  3. Isn’t it pretty!? That’s a hilly area, I can’t believe you rode skateboards down. I was being tailgated the whole time from going too slow. Eek! But I drive like a grandma. 🙂 We miss the Tuffalo Wings. Yum! We’ll let you know when we are back in town.

  4. admin on 10 January 2012

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