If At First You Don’t Succeed

It was a glorious day here in the Willamette Valley in March.  A perfect day to take a ride to Mary’s Peak.  A spot I’d heard a lot about but had never seen.  Some of you may remember my post from that fateful day that could have gone better.

For those that need a little nudge, try these:

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So in other words, no fun!

Fast forward two short months.  Another glorious day in the valley.  I felt it was time to try it one more time.  With a new car, full tank of gas, Starbucks in the cup holder and more than a little trepidation we head back to our appointment with destiny!

OK.  So we got a little lost on the way.  The point is that we didn’t get as lost this trip as we did on the first.  So we had that going for us, right?

We made it all the way to Mary’s Peak and it was breathtaking:

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Willamette Valley from North (L) to South (R)

The wildflowers didn’t let me down either!

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So if at first you don’t succeed, try try again.  I would recommend waiting two months, filling the tank and maybe looking at a map.

Old Friends, New Tricks

Have you ever known someone for so long that you were positive you knew everything about them?  That’s sort of what I ran into with a quick trip down the Columbia River Gorge on Monday.

I’ve written about the gorge before in this blog.  The devastation caused by one careless individual and the recovery in progress.  The businesses in places like Cascade Locks still need help getting back on their feet.  Everything from the ice cream spot to the grocery store.  That’s where we all could lend a hand.

My last trip to this beautiful stretch of the Columbia River was cut short due to road closures.  The Scenic Highway was deemed too dangerous until recently.  This trip was different though!  We were able to drive right up to The Vista House.

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Here is a link for those unfamiliar with the Vista House.

Here is where I discovered something new about an old friend.  You see, I have lived in the Portland area all my life.  I have visited the Vista House a number of times.  Never have the doors been open!  Closed for renovation.  Closed due to vandalism.  Closed due to spending cuts.  I have NEVER seen the inside or the view from the balcony.

That all changed on Monday.  The Vista House had just reopened after the Eagle Creek fire of last summer.  It had also just celebrated its 100 year anniversary.  And the doors were WIDE open!

As you enter, it may underwhelm those that are used to the WHAM BAM of today’s experiences.  I beg you to look closer, look up at the tiled rotunda and down at the restored marble floor.  It is truly a great example of craftsmanship not seen in buildings these days.

Go downstairs to view the small historical gallery and collection.  And, yes, even the gift shop!

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Now for a real treat. Take the stairs that reminded me of a medieval castle stairway up to the outdoor balcony.

The view looking east towards Cascade Locks separated by 100 years:

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From here you can see a view of the Columbia River Gorge that is hard to match at any other point.

I can sum up my visit to the Vista House this week as feeling very satisfied.  If any of you want to experience the majesty of the Gorge the Vista House is just the place to do it.

I would also recommend Thunder Island Brewery for lunch along the river.  Great view, great food and, of course, great beer!

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