Today was one of the most beautiful days of this trip so far. I’ve heard that the Gorge is beautiful (and yes, I’ve seen it in Twilight), but still … when I pulled off the road at the viewpoint early this morning and stepped out of my car I fell in love with it. I know I’m a sucker for water with cliffs receding into the fog, but there’s something so unique about the gorge. It seems otherworldly and gigantic: like something out of Lord of the Rings. I’m so happy with myself for waking up with the sun so that I could be there when the light was still dim and dramatic from clouds that lingered before the heat burned them off.
And as if that weren’t enough, the road down from the viewpoint and vista house (an ostentatiously gorgeous little round Greco-roman visitor’s center) is absolutely crammed full of waterfalls. The most famous of which is Multnomah Falls because of it’s dramatic height and beautiful foot-bridge that crosses over the river where there is a momentary break before the falls continue downward. But all of the falls are pretty and it is necessary to pull over for all of them, if for no other reason than to compare their differences and appreciate the uniqueness and beauty of something so simple as water falling from a cliff.
On something of a hunch I think, I continue on to a town further up the gorge called Hood River. It may have something to do with the unnatural induced state of euphoria I have from a copious amount of waterfalls and breathtaking views, but I really like Hood River. It’s a small town that has forged itself into the mountainside, but managed to keep the streets from being San Francisco steep. The downtown area is jam-packed with unique and interesting restaurants from every ethnicity I can think of, as well as unique shops that still manage to seem useful, like a hobby store, candy shop and a vintage store, instead an unending line of gift shops. The town has a decided youthful outdoorsy vibe from the two breweries and what appears to be a couple of corporate headquarters of some famous outdoor gear providers which line the freeway. That is the main disadvantage though: the freeway runs perpendicular to the little downtown and the sound is a constant drone. But from most areas of town the surrounding mountain peaks and sometimes the river can be seen. I could see myself living here, and that is promising and uplifting.
I have to circle back to continue along my pre-determined route up through Washington. It gives me a chance to see everything again, but the falls are about five times as crowded as this morning and the direct light leaves the gorge looking flat. I congratulate myself again on getting here early.