Multnomah Falls


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.



Roadside Wildflowers


A little bit of mystery and wonder along the side of the road, at a stop on Highway 1 west of Lake Louise in Canada.

Kicking Horse Pass – Spiral Tunnels


I am drawn in by trains, probably because my Polish grandfather worked at the rail yard, living a block away because he had to walk to work. I saw lots of trains when we visited – waiting for long trains to clear before we could cross the tracks to get to their house. The town where we lived in lower Michigan was a major rail hub with rails radiating out in all directions.

As we drove Highway 1 (Trans-Canada Highway) west from Lake Louise, we needed to pull in when we came to the spiral tunnel at Kicking Horse Pass. When I exited the truck, trees blocked my view but I could hear the rumble of trains below and the screeching of breaks. We had seen a spiral tunnel before so I knew what was there for my camera to capture but I had to get to the clearing. There it was…


This is one train, with the front of the train going to the left on the bottom, and the end of the train going into the tunnel. It is descending down the mountain.

pure engineering wonder.

Kicking Horse Pass is a high mountain pass (1627 m, 5339 ft) going across the Continental Divide in the Canadian Rockies, the Alberta and British Columbia border (Wikipedia). The Trans-Canada Highway and the railroad cross this pass, connecting the east coast with the west. Driving the Trans-Canada Highway through this pass is breathtaking with high mountains and steep grades. But this is about the trains.

British Columbia joined the Canada Confederation in 1871 on condition that a railway be built connecting British Columbia with the east coast. The biggest obstacle was the Rockie Mountains. Several passes were considered but the Kicking Horse Pass was chosen because it was the southern most, close to the US border, and the most direct link between east and west. It required the least amount of work and material, but it was also very challenging.

There was a lot of pressure from the government to get the railroad built so the engineers weren’t free to find gentle declines – instead the government temporarily allowed a 4.5 percent grade. The first train to go over the pass in 1884 lost control on the way down and crashed, killing three train workers. Because the danger was so high, side tracks were built for runaway trains which were the default, with the switch being turned for the train to continue down only when the switchman was sure the train was under control. This was a crazy dangerous train ride!

The solution for safer travel was the Spiral Tunnels designed by J.E. Schwitzer, one of the railway’s Assistant Chief Engineers, modeling them after a system used in Switzerland. The initial rail bed had been used for 25 years but were abandoned in 1909 when the Spiral Tunnels were completed. The Spiral Tunnels were a great improvement for the grade, this is still a challenging rail line because of rockfall, mudslides and avalanches that continue to be threats from nature.


The train we saw came from the west (upper right corner of this diagram). It had gone into the higher tunnel we couldn’t see (lower right of diagram) traveled 0.6 miles (991 m) through the tunnel and emerged 56 feet (17 m) lower. It crossed under Highway 1 and over the Kicking Horse River entering the Lower Spiral Tunnel in Mt. Ogden. It went 0.6 mile (891 m) and emerged at 3 on diagram (bottom of my photo) 50 ft. (15 m) lower.

Information for this post came from the following sources:

Information Center at the pull-off on Highway 1 in British Columbia.


Train Tunnel in B&W


I love black and white photos that other people take but find it… well, abhorrent to take the color out of my photos. This photo of the opening of a spiral train tunnel at Kicking Horse Pass and the Continental Divide in the Canadian Rockies told me to go black and white. And a red, high contrast filter made it perfect.

There is more story to this tunnel so stay tuned.