Though we live remarkably close to many adventures, Ben and I don't get out past the city limits very often due to our schedules and combined hatred of driving long distances. In Portland we can limit our travel to 15 miles and experience forested parks, rose gardens, about 10 breweries, two cideries, some urban wineries, and a million different spots to shop, picnic, or enjoy an evening in the park. But every once in a while when we get the courage to drive farther than 20 minutes in one direction, we realize that we live in the most beautiful place on earth.
Yesterday we headed out along the historic Columbia River highway (think Lewis and Clark trail made of asphalt) which borders the Columbia River, running fat and calm, through the Columbia River Gorge. If you're interested in ooh-ing and aw-ing over nature and the sheer magnitude of ancient erosive forces (glaciers, mudslides, floods, the remnants of an ice age 2 million years ago), this is the road for you. From the side of the highway, giant pieces of rock jut out and up into the sky, covered in thick moss, waterfalls and the grandest evergreens. Along the drive are various scenic points like the famous Multnomah Falls and the Cascade Locks, the Bonneville Dam, and a bunch of fish hatcheries. We stopped at a Sturgeon Center to see the fish swimming about in chilly ponds, then resumed our drive out to Hood River.
Hood River is known for it's "fruit loop" which is the path you can travel to visit the many u-pick fruit farms in the area during the summer. There are over 25 farms that offer everything from blueberries to peaches and raspberries. We plan on heading out sometime in the summer to experience the much talked about loop. But yesterday, we visited some of the area's wineries (3 to be precise) that looked out over the river. The first, Cathedral Ridge, had a gorgeous view of the snowy mountains and sunset lit vineyards. We then visited Hood River Vineyards and tasted sweet ports and sherries made of the area's fruit - perched up on a hill the winery was rustic and chilly. We ended at Marchesi, an award winning winery with all Italian style wines. It offered the most delicious (and generously poured) tastings of our trip and we enjoyed the view of the setting sun and jet contrails against the blue sky from their warm porch while winery cats stalked our salami board.
It was a beautiful day the ended in a deep fog settling over Hood River as we headed out and back into Portland. We plan on heading out soon to stop at all the waterfalls and scenic points to enjoy a day of adventuring!