About two weeks ago I visited this very spot, the rest area at Dismal Nitch, Washington. I stopped here on my way (the roundabout way) to Spokane, wanting some cooler weather (from Portland) and to see the Pacific Ocean. I stayed a few minutes, relishing the absence of the heavy traffic on the south side of the Columbia River, spent some time playing with the Girl, and we moved on.
This time I’m on my way south, heading back to Carson City. I visited people I needed to see. I spent some time reflecting. Now I want to get back to Carson, work on some project work in front of me, and make some decisions about what will be next.
I wanted a break from the drive yesterday, so I paused here at Dismal Nitch once again. The weather was cool and drizzly, much different from the bright sunny day of two-weeks ago. But, what I really noticed is the change in the trees. They are beginning to show fall color.
Perhaps I should have waited for this trip. It would be wonderful to see the trees in full color at their peak. Maybe next year…
Sunday morning we got in a decent walk, then loaded out our gear. Or, rather, I loaded out our gear. There wasn’t much, so it wasn’t a big job.
Breakfast wasn’t much — some rubbery scrambled eggs and a hard, cold, dry biscuit with a little canned sausage gravy. I saved back one of the sausages for the Girl. The free breakfasts are often worth what I pay for them. I’m occasionally surprised (as I was at the Oxford Suites in Portland), but not often.
We headed out, taking Interstate 5 to Vancouver (back to nearly where we started from), then Washington 14 east along the Columbia River. The highway parallels the Interstate on the south side, but I hate driving Interstate Highways, except when I absolutely have to get there quickly. The U.S. and state highways are far more interesting.
Washington 14 did not disappoint. I saw a lot of beautiful views of the Columbia River Gorge. For this shot, I pulled off at the Cape Horn Overlook, dodging passing vehicles to get out of the rig. (The Girl stayed in the rig.) I managed a few captures of the view, paused a moment to take it in, and then we moved on.
Along the way, I stopped near The Dalles to watch the windsurfers play. Some use a sail; others use kits. It was fascinating to watch them play, a discordant dance on the roiling surface of the river. My friend Jimmy was right about this place. It is a place I should return to with a much longer lens, much earlier (or later) in the day, and with a tripod for stability. I think some interesting photographs could be made here. There is plenty of subject matter to work with.
It wasn’t long after that we drove out of the Columbia River Gorge. The landscape changed to a flatter, dryer world. The mountains gave way to plains, although the underlying volcanic history showed through the surface here and there.
Then came the grind. It was time to simply finish the drive and get to my destination, Spokane. So, that’s what we did. The outside temperature was between 95–100F, so it was time to use the rig’s air conditioner. The Girl will overheat if it’s too hot.
Eventually, we arrived in Spokane. I found us a place to stay. We found some food. We had a great play before the heat got to the Girl. We called it a day.
The Girl and I tired of the hot Portland afternoons. Saturday morning, as I assembled my gear, after a week of conference, I wondered whether to wander west or east. The call of the Pacific was in my head. (It still is.) I knew the air would be much cooler there, with the mass of cold ocean there. After refueling the rig and buying ice for the Yeti, the pull got me and we headed west on U.S. 30.
The drive wasn’t fast. We passed through many small towns. The river was always to our right. There are only a few bridges across the Columbia River in this stretch. It was warm, but the heat of the day had not yet come on, so we drove with the windows down. I just love the outside air.
We stopped in a small town for a place called Burgerville. I wanted to empty my bladder and get a bite before my blood sugar fell.
The young man at the counter was quite outgoing and pleasant. He walked me through the menu, so I bought a small cheeseburger, a small order of French fries, and a small strawberry shake. The food was all decent, although Sonic still has one of my favorite shakes (only a few places are better). Rested and fed, we headed back out on the road west.
As we drove farther west, the area became more rural. Then we hit Astoria and there was traffic. I suppose I was not the only one looking for cooler air. We made a pass at Fort Stevens, but it was late enough in the day that I didn’t want to pay the day use fee just to drive through. So, we headed back into town.
I knew it would be hopeless to find a room there, so we crossed the bridge to Washington State and turned back east. The north side provided enough shelter from the sea breeze (or sea wind) that the temperature was a few degrees warmer. At 75F, it was nearly perfect. We stopped at the rest stop on Washington 401 for a respite.
What I found is that the Lewis and Clark Company called the place Dismal Nitch. The sheltered (or what they could make for shelter) at this point near the end of their journey during a raging storm. I can only imagine the difficulty of that expedition. It made me wonder what it must have been like. It made me wonder whether I could have done something like that.
Relieved, we clambered back into the rig and headed east on the Washington side. Here we found fewer people and less traffic.
Finding a room was difficult, but I finally found one (an expensive room) in Kelso, Washington. It was clean and what I needed.
We walked across the mall entry to a place called Izzy’s for a bite. Izzy’s is a buffet-style restaurant, very reasonably priced, and they have a grill that will make a small sirloin steak. The staff made over the Girl, but were respectful of her duties. She relaxed under my table while I ate my salad and steak, knowing that I’d be bringing a treat for her supper along with us.
Tired, but satisfied and content, we returned to the room. I made her supper and then we played the game we nearly always do. The Girl is so into her food, especially when I add a bite of steak or chicken. We both laugh and laugh at the process. It’s also a good training opportunity. She has to wait for my command to “go” or she is held back. The tension in her is crazy and she is so funny. What a doll she is.
We’ll walk our last time in Portland this morning. Then we’ll return to our hotel, feed, clean up, and load out. Then we’ll head east toward The Dalles and the Columbia River Gorge. I’m looking forward to poking around, seeing the sights, and perhaps finding a geocache or two. The Girl will be happy if she can be off-lead some of the time.
The Girl and I wake early nearly every morning, even when traveling. Here in Portland, I found a walking path along the Columbia River not far from my hotel. We’ve been out and about just after sunrise almost every day this week. On some mornings, there is even sunshine.
On Monday, the Girl and I rose early, moved around a bit, and I fed us. I handled a conference call that might (hopefully) lead to some new work. I could use a couple of new projects on the books. Then we loaded out the rig and headed west to intercept the Crater Lake Highway.
As we approached the area, the nature of the geology (volcanic) was striking. I could go back here and spend several days exploring the area. Another visit to Crater Lake (so I could capture images at dawn and dusk) is also appropriate.
I pulled up to the entry gate, showed my “old man’s pass,” and drove on with a map and newsprint in hand. We stopped at the Visitor’s Center to look around. But, I could tell that the park was getting busier as the morning aged. So, we drove off to catch East Rim Drive and take in the park.
I was astounded when we pulled off at the first access point. It was a short hike to the edge of the pit. The Native Americans are right — Crater Lake is a holy place. I could imagine the battle between Skell and Llao that they must have witnessed so long ago. That struggle would have been truly heroic.
We spent a couple of hours wandering along the east rim. Then we drove on towards Portland, where my conference is being held this week.
A few days ago, the Girl and I hiked up Little Wildhorse Canyon. We didn’t go quite all the way, but far enough to get the geocache up there and to get a taste of hiking slot canyons. Both are addictive, I think.
There were a couple of spots where the Girl needed a hand. Mostly she’s independent, but this was a five foot jump and I don’t think she can do that without hurting herself. So, I lifted her up until she got purchase and she was off and running, literally.
On the way down we had a navigate the spot again, but this time I found a way she could do herself. Just like a two-year old, “she’d rather do it herself.”
By the time we got back to the car, she was done. It’s not often she’s trailing behind me. This time I ran away from her.
The Girl and I started early Tuesday morning with a long walk about the circuit I chose that takes us along the railroad tracks, the golf course, and back down Main Street to the hotel. We were up and walking before most folks were out and about. It isn’t that there are that many folks here out and about. Green River is pretty quiet.
We bought a bite of breakfast and then stopped at the park for a few minutes for me to spend some time in my journal and think about the day. Then we drove out to see the new diversion dam that was recently updated to keep the irrigation canals operational. As part of the upgrades, fish and boat passages were added to the structure. However, the river is high enough that there wasn’t very much to see.
We visited the Powell Museum and watched the movie of Powell’s exploration of the Green River and Colorado River. The movie was excellent and worth the price of entry into the museum. The Girl didn’t like the thunderstorm sequences much, but settled back down when the thunder ceased.
After a bite of lunch, we drove over to public library where there I could get a desk and Internet connection. It’s a nice little library and seemed to be busy enough. I chose a few geocaches and loaded my GPSr for an afternoon run.
After waffling a little about the heat, the Girl and I headed west to the San Rafael Uplift area. I’ve driven through it a dozen times or more, but never gotten off the road to explore. The geocaches on my list took us to some fine sights and I’m glad I made that trip.
The afternoon brought some thundershowers and some cooler air. I’m fine at 90F outdoors so long as I have water. The breeze and break in the bright sun made the afternoon excursion much more fun.
I came away with a few captures that I really like. One of them is attached.
The Girl and I got out early for morning Walkies. It’s hot — damned hot — here in central Utah right now. On the way here yesterday, I spent a lot of time hunting geocaches in 100F weather. The Girl mostly elected to stay in the rig. She was hot.
So, this morning we got out early before the heat. It was a wonderful, if uneventful walk. I made a few captures around town on the way. This is one of them.