Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Columbia River Gorge

When I left Pendleton I made b-line for Umatilla, Oregon and the Washington side of the Columbia river. The plan was to ride along WA-14 east to Vancouver and enjoy the gorge. The southern Oregon side of the gorge runs along I-84 and I wasn't interested in running the interstate route as I heard the north side was a little more scenic and, well, not the interstate.

The Columbia river is a series of damns and reservoirs. The gorge itself is there, but it's pretty much under water and the ride through the gorge is just a really nice ride along a river/lake.

The first glimpse of Mount Hood comes quickly and lasts until the very end.

Above the town of Maryhill is a war memorial that's a Stonehenge replica. It's a really nice memorial to the WWI soldiers from Klickitat county. The view from up on the hill isn't too bad either. I really like the message of the plaque in the last picture below.

The rest of the ride to Vancouver is nice, twisty road with a few more damns, reservoirs and scenic views. The entire gorge region is filled with commerce - namely, shipping of inland goods to Portland and on to the rest of the world. Forty percent of US wheat production is shipped through Portland. Amazing.

Overall, I think I went into this ride with high expectations which, in the end, could not be met. Don't get me wrong. It's a wonderful ride, but it didn't live up to being a ride through a gorge. I expected high rock walls for miles upon miles. There's a lot of history through the gorge and, from that standpoint, it's definitely worth the effort. Go ahead and check it out for yourself sometime.

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