We finished up our trip with some more driving around the NW corner of Oregon. One day was spent driving out to Cannon Beach with some very excitable Labradors in the back of the van. They love a trip to the beach and were willing to express this fact every couple of miles, it seemed.
On the way there, however, we detoured south and visited the home of Tillamook cheese. The phrase "happy as a rat in a cheese factory" seems to suggest itself for some reason.
Following this we proceeded up the coast to give the dogs thorough running about time at the beach before wending our way back to the hotel in Gresham.
The next day we set out to circle Mt. Hood, travelling out across some of the hilly terrain to the east of Portland along Hwy 26. Although the drive might be difficult in winter, this was a bright snow-free summer day; we could see snow only on the upper slopes of the mountain.
Once past the mountain, we circle northwards towards the Columbia. The slopes on the eastern side of Mt. Hood are beautiful, crowded with tall stands of ancient pines. The forests are virtually undisturbed; the trees look so old and stark that they seem to be rotting as they stand.
Descending towards the lowlands, the rocky wintered ground yields to softer earth and hills. Grasses of all varieties appear among the trees. Farms and vineyards appear as we approach the river.
Once at Hood River, we join the scenic highway and head west. Along the river are lush woods, very much different from their dry cousins on the mountain. Pines and firs mix with a variety of deciduous trees. The craggy riverbed rocks are covered in moss and ferns to the point of crowding out even grasses.
The trees here are beautiful and welcoming. Unlike the high pine forests where the trees stand in serried vertical ranks, the trees of the woods bend and curve around each other. In the winter, small rills rumble over rocks every dozen feet; during our summer visit, the miniature waterfalls are gone but the woods still retain a cool and damp feel.
Truly a wonderous place! Only ancient redwood groves could compare to the way these woods tug at my soul.
One of the most depressing things about living in the SF Bay Area, to me, is the lack of woods. Not trees, per se, which exist in median strips and front yards throughout the area. But proper woodlands, even single groves, are rare. (They can be found on the outskirts of the area and make for some excellent hiking day trips.) Given the climate, though, they can never be as lush as the woods found farther north.
So, having completed our trip, we began the trek home. At this point, I was beginning to show signs of a nasty little cold. Thanks to some heayv doses of DayQuil, though, I was still able to put in a stint as driver so that 3catsjackson and kit_ping weren't the only ones in the rotation.
From Grants Pass, we took 101 down the coast. Certainly a nice change of pace from the normal I-5 corridor and also a chance to see some beautiful redwoods. When not driving, I was slumped in the back seat, keening off-key to the songs on one of the dozen or so mix CDs 3Cats seemed to magically conjour the night before we left.
We stopped for dinner at the Benbow Inn. It's a historic hotel just outside of Garberville that happens to feature a classy outdoor patio restaurant. One expensive but very satisfying meal later, we were back on the road with 3Cats piloting along the mountain roads as if he were in a car commercial. (Fortunately, he's a fine driver and can do this without a closed course.)
We arrived home at around midnight, meaning we made the day's trip in good time. Yesterday, I slept, coughed, sniffled, and tried not to move unecessarily. Today, much the same. And so that brings us all up to date...