Sunday, July 06, 2014


Since we started our RV travels we’ve been asked many times “what’s your favorite part of the country?” My answer is usually “the Northwest.”  So now I’ll be more specific. My favorite area of the country is Portland, Oregon and environs.


First, there’s the Columbia River Gorge which is near the western end of the Columbia River. This photo doesn’t really do justice to this majestic waterway which runs 1200 miles from the mountains of British Columbia to the Pacific Ocean near Portland.


There are 150 hydroelectric dams on the Columbia, many built and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. This image is one of two powerhouses in the Bonneville Dam. Ron the Ranger, who led our tour, said he is comfortable that the Columbia will always be around to provide enough water to make the huge amount of electricity these 150 hydro projects produce. “Always” seems to be a really long time. Maybe Ranger Ron should have a chat with Al Gore.


This is the McNary Dam which is more than 200 miles east of Portland. All of these dams present certain environmental challenges, like how to protect the fish that migrate upstream, especially the salmon.

Back at the Bonneville dam we took a look underwater at the fish ladders which are designed to let fish swim upstream without being turned into sushi by the generator turbines.


The salmon weren’t running, but these weird looking creatures are Pacific lampreys (NOT eels) which also migrate up the river to spawn.


The Bonneville Fish Hatchery, not run by the Corps of Engineers, is adjacent to the dam.


The hatchery is more than 100 years old and was expanded in 1978 by the Corps to compensate for the loss of spawning grounds for 30,000 salmon lost when another Corps dam was build on the River. Damn.


This is Herman the Sturgeon, a long-time resident of the fish hatchery. Herman is more than 70 years old, is 10 feet long and weighs 450 pounds.

Another reason we really like this area is the mountains.


This is Mt. Hood. There are several giant dormant, extinct or active volcanoes in the Northern Oregon and Southern Washington Cascade Mountains. You may have heard of this one and two of the others—Mt. Rainer and Mt. Saint Helens.



Even on July 6th there’s skiing and snowboarding on Mt. Hood. At 8,500 feet this slope is considered one of the premier summer ski locations in the world. (I’m not sure who considers it thus, but that’s what it says in the brochure;



There’s also the Timberline Lodge, dedicated by FDR in 1937 as a WPA project. A neat place with a super Sunday brunch. Trust me, it’s REALLY super.


A third reason we really like this area are the waterfalls.



This is Multnomah Falls, as often seen behind Vanna White on promos during Wheel of Fortune. This spectacular waterfall can actually be seen from I-84 about 20 miles east of Portland. The Multnomah Falls Lodge happens to serve a super breakfast.



As you may have noticed from the blue sky in some of these pictures, it isn’t always cloudy or rainy in the Portland area. Summer usually brings warm temperatures and cloudless skies. We were really lucky to be here in summer. And here’s proof that we were really here:


This picture was taken by Ed Korver, a classmate of mine in the Fair Lawn High School Class of 1960. He and his wife Ruth live in Portland and they were nice enough to spend the day showing us around. Thanks again, Ed and Ruth.


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