Portland, Washington

Saturday, July 28, 2018

On this our last day of the road trip, we didn’t wander far from downtown Portland. We heard from an Uber driver yesterday about Portland Saturday Market not far from our hotel, near the waterfront. The name of the market is misleading as the market actually runs every Saturday and Sunday from the beginning of March through Christmas Eve. The brainchild of two artists, Sheri Teasdale and Andrea Scharf, it’s an open-air market for small businesses selling hand-made crafts, art and food that’s been operating since 1974. The Portland Saturday Market is a non-profit organization with 350 members who govern the market as well as sell their products.

41E2330F-3CCE-493A-9C43-429BA35F6F6BOn the way to the Market, we passed by a Voodoo Doughnut shop with a very long line of people waiting to buy doughnuts. It certainly smelled good, but we weren’t hungry, so we passed on by. I was curious about the popularity (it reminded of the Krispy Kreme craze that came and went so quickly.) Voodoo Doughnuts has been around since 2003, and has eight locations around the country. They are known for their unusual doughnuts, true works of art. We saw several people carrying bags or boxes of doughnuts, this in spite of the fact that the store only accepts cash.

At the Portland Soda Works booth, we sampled syrups to enhance sodas or use in cocktails. This company started in a neighborhood kitchen in 2012. Mark is thinking they’ll be great when making cider; I’m thinking martinis. We purchased a 4-pack that included spicy ginger, hibiscus cardamom, summer chai, and rooibos. Can’t wait to try them out! The website has several recipe suggestions to help us out.

I purchased some jewelry and prints at other booths. I like to get jewelry from local artists because they will be unique; no one at home will have the same pieces.

We stopped to watch sculptor Pete Bluett create custom garden gnomes for clients. It felt similar to watching a caricaturist, as the artist makes his creation while the customer poses.  Bluett has been doing this at Portland Saturday Market for 19 years. According to his website, you can have your face on almost anything, small, medium or large.

As we’ve been walking the downtown Portland area, we’ve noticed several sculptures on sidewalks or in squares.

We’ve enjoyed our visit to the northwest US. As always, there wasn’t enough time, and we are disappointed about missing Crater Lake National Park, but that just means we’ll have to come back some day.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back in Minnesota, where I’ll start planning our next adventure.





Posted in Oregon, Portland Saturday Market, Sculptures, USA Travel | Leave a comment

Columbia River Gorge

Friday, July 27, 2018

We originally planned to drive to southern Oregon today, to visit Crater Lake National Park. However, recent wildfires in the area made that option undesirable. Although the park remains open, the Park Service is recommending that visitors wear face masks because of poor air quality.

Instead, we rose early (to beat the crowds) and headed once again to Multnomah Falls. The parking lot was open at 8:30 am, and less than half full. When we drove by again at 1:00 pm, the lot was closed again. In part, this is due to the fact that several local roads are still closed following last year’s wildfires. The fire started when a 15-year old boy set off fireworks along the Eagle Creek Trail last Labor Day weekend; the fire ultimately burned 50,000 acres.

Because we were early, it was not crowded at all. We had no difficulty seeing the falls clearly, and walking up to the Benson Bridge (built in 1914) that passes in front of the falls. There is a path to the top of the falls, but that has been closed because of rockslides. I was very disappointed that I couldn’t walk uphill another mile. It feels like I’ve been walking uphill all week!

Multnomah Falls is the second highest year-round waterfall in the nation, with a total height of 620 feet (the tallest being Yosemite Falls at 2,450 feet.) The top section of Multnomah drops 543 feet to the upper plunge pool, meanders another 8 feet, and then falls 69 more feet to the bottom.

When driving to the falls yesterday, we noticed a structure on top of a hill along the highway. We were curious, did some research, and learned that it is the Vista House at Crown Point. We had time today, so decided to drive up to check it out.

From an article in The Oregonian, Vista House is a rest stop that was “intended to be the finishing achievement for the greatest highway in America” and to “grace the highest spot on that wonderway.” Construction was completed 100 years ago this past May. It’s a lovely building, with two levels that provide views for miles around and a lower level with a gallery and small museum. The floors and stairs of the rotunda were made with rare Alaskan marble, the windows on the main level are of amber and green colored glass. Vista House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

We really wanted to experience the Columbia River itself, so took a two-hour river cruise out of Cascade Locks on the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler, an authentic sternwheeler similar to the ships that cruised the Gorge in the 1800’s. It is operated entirely by the stern wheel, there are no bow thrusters or propellers.

What a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours! It was breezy on the water, and we had to hang on to our hats. There were several sailboats and a few sailboards on the water, even a class of sailors learning to sail in high wind conditions. We weren’t the only ones enjoying this beautiful river – there was plenty of wildlife in sight as well. A highlight of the cruise was being able to see the Bonneville Dam from another angle.

We are staying in Portland tonight, just a few blocks from Powell’s City of Books. We paid a visit to this huge book store, 68,000 square feet, and laid out much like a library, with nine sections color-coded for easy navigation through the three floors of books. This place is heaven to someone who loves reading as much as I do. After all, I was the girl who took a box to the library to bring enough books home to last me a week or two during the summer, who dreamed of reading every book in the library (turned out to be an realistic though admirable goal.) The used books are shelved alongside the new ones, so you can decide whether you need to pay full price for a new edition, or can be happy with a used one for half the cost.

I picked up a copy (used) of Stephen E. Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West. I had the read this book some years ago, and this trip to the Columbia Gorge has raised enough questions about Lewis and Clark’s expedition, that I decided to reread it. I expect I’ll enjoy it as much as I did the first time.

Posted in Bonneville Dam, Columbia River, McMenamin’s Detention Bar, National Historic Landmark, Oregon, Powell’s Books, Road Trip, Stephen E. Ambrose, USA Travel | 1 Comment

Columbia River Gorge

Thursday, July 26, 2018

We left Olympia this morning and headed to Vancouver, Washington, to visit the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, from which we had a good view of Mount Hood.


Established in 1824, the British Fort Vancouver was a major trading post for the Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading network. The fort remained under British control until the 1846 Oregon Treaty, and Hudson’s Bay continued operations there until 1860. The US Army built barracks next to the fort in 1849, and took it over after the British abandoned it in 1860. The fort was destroyed by fire in 1866.

Fort Vancouver became a National Monument in 1949, and it was maintained strictly as an archaeological site until the 1960’s. All of the buildings at the current site were reconstructed based on photos and archaeological evidence. The only structure that remains from the original fort is the well.

The British were not concerned with defense at this site when they originally built the fort. Relations with the local natives were friendly, and there was little or no fear of attack. However, as US settlers began to arrive, Governor George Simpson began to worry about an assault on the fort. He wrote: “I fear that the undisciplined and ungoverned Americans might plunder the post if they became desperate for supplies.” In 1845, employees of the Hudson’s Bay Company constructed the Bastion, with three-pound canons. These canons were never fired in anger.

There were several volunteers on hand to demonstrate cooking and blacksmithing skills, and explain the fur trade.

After leaving Fort Vancouver, we drove to Hood River. We had hoped to see Multnomah Falls on the way, but it was so busy that access to the site was closed when we came by. Oh well, we’ll try again tomorrow.

However, we did see a sign for the Bonneville Lock and Dam National Historic Landmark, so since we had time, we decided to stop. The Bonneville Dam was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1933, as the first federal lock and dam on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. When the lock was completed in 1938, it was the largest single-life lock in the world. That lock became outdated and was replaced in 1993.

The dam has two powerhouses, with 18 generators, and it generates over 1,200 megawatts of energy, enough to supply the power needs of approximately 900,000 homes.


Because the construction of the dam obstructed the migration of adult fish from the sea upstream to spawn, fish ladders were constructed to simulate the waterfalls and pools that would be found in natural streams. Also, millions of juvenile fish (fingerlings) are transported downstream in barges and tanker trucks.

So, even though we missed the falls today, we still saw plenty of moving water.

Posted in Bonneville Dam, Columbia River, Fort Vancouver, Hudson’s Bay Company, Oregon, Road Trip, USA Travel | Leave a comment

Olympic National Park

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Olympic National Park was set aside as a national monument in 1909, and given national park status 29 years later in 1938. The park contains over 1,400 square miles – too much to see in one day – so we decided to enter the park on the south side rather than going north to Port Angeles. That saved us an hour of driving each way, and we still had a lovely visit.

20180725_104916The road into the park is lined with trees that are 100-150 feet in height, providing a grand entrance to all visitors.

We checked in at the Quinault Rain Forest Ranger Station, and the guide there gave us some excellent recommendations. We started with a short hike to the world’s largest Sitka Spruce tree. Estimated to be 1,000 years old, it was an impressive 191 feet tall and almost 59 feet in circumference. This park is also home to the world’s largest Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir and Mountain Hemlock.

We took another hike to Gatton Creek Falls. As at Rainier, there are many wildflowers in bloom, and many varieties of ferns. We also saw plants that looked like shamrocks to us. Actually, this is the Oregon Oxalis, which is in a different family from the shamrock.

Not to be outdone, Gatton Creek Falls provided its own beauty, from the sound of the rushing water to the color of the algae in the creek.

Next was a rain forest nature trail loop, with examples of stilt trees forming (this occurs when a tree grows around another log or trunk, and the log or trunk later rots away,) and an unfriendly plant we first saw in Alaska – the Devil’s Club. It has stickers on the stems and on both the tops and bottoms of the leaves. We gave these plants a wide berth.

We then drove to the beaches. Although only 20 miles away, the temperature dropped from the mid-80’s to the upper 50’s, although we Minnesotans were comfortable enough in our short sleeves. We also drove from sunshine to fog as we approached the shoreline. We scrambled over some rocks to reach the beach, and it was worth the trip.

Posted in National Parks, Olympic National Park, Quinault Rain Forest, Road Trip, USA Travel, Washington State | Leave a comment

Mount Rainier National Park

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The days have been sunny and hot here in northwest Seattle. The mostly blue skies show off Washington’s natural resources to good effect, truly enhancing the views. The temperatures have been reaching into the 90’s, but it’s 5-10 degrees cooler in the parks, much more pleasant. However, we find ourselves seeking shade after hiking for a while. The tall trees of Mount Rainier National Park were very much appreciated today.

We were greeted with stunning vistas as we drove to the visitor’s center at Paradise, and pulled over several times to “ooh” and “ahh” and to take photos, of course. The Nisqually River originates at Mount Rainier, fed by the Nisqually Glacier, one of 25 named glaciers on the mountain. Nisqually has retreated and advanced several times since its discover in the mid-1850’s. The current retreat started in 1985.

The Nisqually River bed is wide, although the width of the flow is a fraction of that right now. It’s easy to see how much the river spreads during floods because of the rocks that are desposited by the rushing waters.

We spent a little time at Longmire, location of the park’s first headquarters in 1899. The site has a small museum, a general store and lodge.

We did some hiking, and enjoyed the numerous wildflowers in bloom. Some of these flowers were miniature versions of what we have at home, such as tiger lilies and lupines. At first, we weren’t sure what we were seeing, but were reassured by a couple of park volunteers that these were indeed the same flowers, just much smaller because of the reduced growing season.

Some of the meadows were awash with avalanche lilies and subalpine buttercups. We also saw magenta paintbrush, partridge foot, subalpine daisy, pasqueflower, beargrass, Jeffrey’s shooting star and many more.

One of the plants we observed was the false hellebore. This is a highly toxic plant that does not bloom until it reaches maturity at 10 years. The flowers are small and green, so very easily overlooked. Fortunately for us, several were in bloom today.

Of course, let’s not forget the marvelous views of Mount Rainier and the numerous waterfalls in the park. We even saw a couple groups of climbers on the mountain.

Posted in Mt Rainier, National Parks, Nisqually Glacier, Road Trip, USA Travel, Washington State, Wildflowers | 1 Comment

North Cascades National Park

Monday, July 23, 2018

We drove north from Burlington, Washington to North Cascades National Park. We followed the Cascades Scenic Highway to the Visitor Center in Newhalem to get our National Parks Passport Book stamped. Most of the time, I forget to bring it, so have to stamp a piece of paper to staple into the book after I return home.

We drove along the Skagit River much of the way. There are three dams on this river, part of the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project which provides power to the city of Seattle and surrounding communities. We were able to see two of the dams: Diablo and Gorge. They are generally a ways from any viewing station, a frustration for Mark, but I suppose few people are as interested in the structures as he is. We had to dodge traffic a couple of times to get these photos – not very smart on our part.

To reach the Visitor’s Center in Newhalem, it’s necessary to cross a single-lane bridge over the Skagit River. The turquoise river was sparkling from the sunshine, truly a lovely sight – much prettier by far than a dam.

The Skagit River Gorge was formed by glaciers, unlike many others which are formed by erosion from water flow.  Therefore, the sides of the bordering mountains look like they go almost straight up.

There are numerous waterfalls along the road and throughout the park, carrying water from the mountaintop glaciers. It’s the abundance of waterfalls that gives the Cascades their name. We’ve been fortunate enough to see some of the largest and most spectacular waterfalls in the world, yet we never fail to be awed by each one we come upon.

We stopped at Ross Lake, a reservoir that was created by the hydroelectric dam system. It is a popular recreational area, with kayakers and boaters in evidence today. The water looks turquoise thanks to the glaciers in the surrounding mountains. As the glaciers wear down the mountains, the grinding of rock agains rock produces a fine silt that is carried into the lake. This silt reacts with light to give the lake its color.

We really wish we could have spent more time here. This was just a taste, enough to whet our appetite for more.

Posted in Glaciers, National Parks, North Cascades National Park, Road Trip, Skagit River, USA Travel, Washington State | 1 Comment

Coffee and More Airplanes

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Last night, as we dined at the nearby Six Arms Restaurant (very good food), Mark noticed that we were sitting across the street from a Starbucks, and not just any Starbucks, but a Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room.

The largest Starbucks store in the world, it is set in a 15,000 square foot space are meeting spaces, bars (not just for coffee), pastries, coffee accessories, and a large coffee roaster. After the beans are roasted, they are sent via an overhead conveyor system to waiting bins to be ground for immediate use or bagged for sale.

20180722_080619There are eight difference processes for the coffee, but I don’t really know what they are. I just know that this place smelled like heaven. Of course, I couldn’t drink any coffee at night, since I do like to sleep, but we managed to find time this morning to pick up some coffee, both brewed and beans to bring home. Yay!

We learned the other day that Starbucks is repurposing shipping containers and other reclaimed materials for mini cafes around the country. We actually drove by one yesterday on the way to the Future of Flight Museum.

Caffeine fix achieved, we headed back on the road, stopping in Mulkiteo, Washington, for yet another aircraft related tour, this one of the Boeing Factory. There are a few airplanes in their museum, but we were not able to take any photos in the factory itself. We were able to take photos in the museum and of the grounds from across the road, where there were several airplanes lined up waiting for painting or testing.


Again, I was pleased to find this a fascinating tour. The Future of Flight Boeing tour lasted about 90 minutes, during which we visited the production floors where Boeing builds 747s, 767s, 777s and 787s. This manufacturing site covers almost 100 acres, and the factory itself is the largest building in the world at over 472 million cubic feet. The first part of the plant was built in 1966, and has been enlarged several times since then. As airplanes grow longer, the wing span must increase as well, and accommodations have had to be made to hold these very large aircraft. Parts are flown in from several locations and assembled and painted here. The aircraft go through extensive testing before being picked up by the customer.

We saw airplanes being manufactured for UPS, FedEx, the US Navy, El Al, Korean Airlines and several others. We got to see them working on the first prototype for the 777X, which should be ready for consumer flights in 2020. The 787 is being built with Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer, making it very light and efficient.

The plant employs over 30,000 people. On day shifts, there are up to 20,000 people working in the plant, on evening shifts about 10,000 and even today, Sunday, there were about 2,000 working. We didn’t see many of them on the floor because much of the work is being done inside the structures. It was all very impressive.


Wide-bodied jets in process, with Mount Rainier in background

Posted in Aircraft, Boeing, Seattle, Spacecraft, Starbucks Coffee, Washington State | 1 Comment