Multnomah Falls

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I could see Multnomah Falls from I-84 as we drove to our campground at Cascades Locks in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon (the state of Washington is across the river) on our way back from Portland. I also saw the parking lot between the west and east bound lanes of the highway but we were too tired to stop. It is a tall waterfall, the tallest in Oregon, beautiful from a distance but I’m still learning how to photograph water falls (interpretation: I never feel like I’ve captured the power and beauty of them). I wanted to see it, but I wasn’t sure I could photograph it.

We took a day off from visiting great-grandkids to rest and do a little site-seeing on our own. My husband wanted to visit the Bonneville Dam and I chose Multnomah Falls.

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There are two falls and according to Native American lore the falls were created to win the heart of a young princess who wanted a private place to bath. The Natives who lived in this region were Chinookan.

To get to the falls, we walked through something like a subway tunnel, under the two east lanes and a railway track.

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The railway operated a stop at this site from 1884 until WWII using a timber bow-string truss bridge spanning the falls in the same location as the foot bridge. A lodge was built on this site, completed in 1925. It is a beautiful lodge that originally provided rooms and dining. According to Wikipedia the building was designed in the “Canadian” style, using cut limestone blocks laid irregularly, with a steep pitched gabled roof with cedar singles. It is rustic – like its setting but also very elegant.

I didn’t take many photos, instead sitting on a bench looking up at the falls, lost in a time long past. I thought about the steam locomotives chugging into the station and the type of people who were eager to live on the edge and/or had the means to do so in that era. When I processed my photos, the only option was Lightroom Color Preset “aged photo”. For this brief period of time I enjoyed a journey into romanticism.

Mt. Hood

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Our grandson and his wife thought it would be fun to drive to downtown Portland and walk around one afternoon. I have heard wonderful things about Portland but the drive from our campground on the Columbia River took us through downtown so we could see how big it is and the traffic congestion on the highways going into and out of the city. I used to love a few days in a big city but in the past few years it exhausts me. And because of the car seats for the two youngest ones, we would have to drive – with the anxiety of not getting separated from them.

It only took a few minutes of looking at our maps and guide books to decide we wanted to take a drive south and west around Mount Hood, ending up on I 84 going into Portland. We would take an extra hour or two to take a big loop south before going through Portland to visit them. We called to tell them our change in plans and they were good with it because they were going downtown for Allie’s birthday the next day while we watched the kids. Now that is a win/win.

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Highway 35 going south was a beautiful drive – good road, little traffic, curvy and hilly, with orchards and mountains and we soon learned there were lots of fruit markets. We went by a couple before I realized they were open and waiting for us; this one we didn’t pass by.

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I was as excited as if I had struck gold in them-there mountains. Fresh peaches, pears, and apples. Eatable gifts to check out for people back home. And best of all, a bakery with outdoor tables to sit and savor.

We bought a couple of gift items, some white peaches and bartlett pears, and some baked goods – a cinnamon roll with marionberry (I think) jam on top, and cookies, snickerdoodle, oatmeal raisin, and peanutbutter/chocolate. We sat and ate most of the cinnamon roll and smiled as we talked. The temp was cool and the sun was warm and we decided we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else on earth in that moment.

Oh, and I took some more photos.

I have decided that I need to shop at fruit and vegetable stands whenever possible. Sure I enjoy the fresh foods but it also keeps me grounded. It keeps me grounded in the reality that foods don’t grow perfectly, they have marks and blemishes and some distortions. Most of what I see in the grocery was picked well before it could develop imperfections. And then the grocer works hard to display the produce so it looks perfect even though it may lack flavor. Maybe I had to grow old with the imperfections that come with aging to appreciate this bit of wisdom.

When we reached US 26 to go west we were disappointed. The ambiance changed to more traffic, semis, and faster speed. We did see one last look at beautiful Mount Hood.

_DSC0046 Mt. Hood is 11,239 feet in elevation and considered an active volcano.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Community

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We were traveling through. I said that I was looking forward to our lunch date and J laughed because he was thinking the same thing. As we were talking about how a hamburger really sounded good, we saw this vehicle sitting up on a hill – an old milk truck with “Prairie Dog Cafe” painted on the side. I laughed and said it was a sign from God telling us where we were to eat.

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The next left was the main street of town, a busier town than the previous one we explored – it has a paved main street. The Prairie Dog Cafe is easy to find because it has cars parked in front, being close to noon. We walk in and as is typical, all conversation stops and all eyes are on us. We are strangers in town.

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Strangers. We probably look and sound different, kinda strange. However, they quickly go back to their conversations – the group of older men and a woman sitting at the long table, three women sitting together, a couple over by the window, and a group of four workmen who sit down behind me. Given my background in psychology and my interest in sociology, I am also sizing them up, not the individuals so much as the community.

I am fascinated by how location and environment impact on people and how they live. I am also aware of the assumption I make as I travel through “strange” areas, areas that are different than where I live. The small towns of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota seem so different. I wonder about their life – what it is like to live in these small communities that are so separate from other places.

What strikes me is how isolated and insulated they seem to be from the “more developed” life that I’m used to. Most of these small towns don’t have fast food restaurants, let alone fancy coffee shops. There aren’t shopping malls, strip malls, Walmarts or K-Marts. Does this make the people isolated and deprived? Or do they have enough of what they need without the stress that comes with lots of choices. I wonder if I see them as deprived because I have been co-opted by the spend-more-money consumerism of advertising and capitalism gone amuck that is part of more densely populated areas.

The basics of a good life are (1) the ability to do work that brings meaning to life and provides for basic needs and (2) relationships with others that meet our emotional needs. I look around and see what I see everywhere I go, like the small family run restaurants in the places I live. People talking and laughing – but here is a community I don’t know – the one where everyone knows your name – where they automatically spot an outsider. But they all know each other, who is related to who, and who lives where. They probably know even more – because this is a small community where everyone knows everything about everyone.

And there are hints that they have social lives. I turn around and notice the back of the tee-shirt of the young man behind me.

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Of course I ask if I can take a picture of his tee, and he laughs and says of course – he even poses for me. The man across from him says to give it to me – and the young man starts taking it off with everyone laughing. I probably blush and definitely decline (although I secretly covet it). There is other bantering with laughter, and our interchange ends with him proudly stating that now he is also a model.

Maybe I don’t need to pity them because they seem isolated and maybe backwards. They have relationships and they are working and they get together for lunch at the Prairie Dog Cafe. Did I tell you that the hamburger is the best I have ever eaten? The town sign we drove past when entering has their slogan, “Beef – Our Steak in the Future.” This is community.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/photo-challenge-community/

Montana Mountain Horizon

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On our trip west we saw lots of horizon, from wheat fields with a horizon that seemed to be forever away, to ocean horizons that melted into the sky. I spent many hours gazing at these horizons (when my husband was driving of course). The types of horizons that intrigued me the most, however, were the ones where sky met mountains, off in a distance.

The WP Weekly Photo Challenge this week is “horizon”. To see more examples of this theme go to:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/10/25/weekly-photo-challenge-horizon/

Mt. Rainier

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I was so moved by the beauty of Mt. Rainier when we visited that I posted a few photos immediately; if you missed them you can check it out here. Mt. Rainier put on a beautiful show for us so it is easy to forget the beauty of the surrounding mountains and valleys. We decided to drive the loop to Paradise because we were told there is a very nice restaurant at the lodge. We had prepared simple on-the-road meals each night and we had an occasional meal out. I was ready for a really nice dinner. We weren’t disappointed with the wonderful food on the Sunday Brunch buffet at the Paradise Inn.

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The drive up to Paradise is very beautiful with glimpses of Mt. Rainier, but as with so many things in life, the star of the show is made more beautiful by the support of everything around it. It is time to give credit to the supporting actors of mountains a valleys in Mt. Rainier National Park.