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Monday, July 28, 2003

In nature's lap

Have been wanting to write about each of my trips - but somehow never got around to it. So decided to sit through and pen the trips from the last couple weeks. Will begin with the Portland trip.

Flew into Portland on Saturday last and was welcomed by surprisingly warm weather. I always believed that Portland and Seattle share similar weather. My trips to Seattle left me feeling nice and pleasant about the weather - the not bright, very light occassional showers, pleasant smell from the freshly wet soil type of weather...but I never thought I could live in that kind of weather through the year. Too soft (dull/pale???) for my liking. So when the warm blast hit me in Portland I was very surprised. Well, turns out that this is the one month when they enjoy this weather. In a few days they will be back to the "softer" weather, or so I am given to believe.

Surabh, Ravi and I soon set off to see the "few" waterfalls along the Columbian Gorge. The roads were much narrower than the Californian roads and was for long stretches covered by huge trees on either side of the road. Made a wonderful canopy protecting us from the harsh Sun. In a way, it reminded me of Highway 1, just that the roads here ran along the Columbian river's banks. First stop was at the Vista House. I was completely taken in by the astounding view. I would easily rate this among the top 10 best places I have ever seen.

Picture this: A huge mountain range slit in the middle by the Columbian river flowing softly along. The mountain on the left is completely covered with trees. As you scan the horizon from the right, you see this green mountain and as you gradually move to the left you will see the Columbian river. Further to the left you see the other half of the mountain. This one however is only spotted with trees and some foliage. The rest of the area is taken up by huge golden fields for as far as the eye can see, intermittently sprinkled with huge trees. And amidst this natural beauty is the Vista House. Constructed at the supposed highest spot on the historical Columbian River Highway, the Crown Summit, the Vista House sits on a cliff overlooking the river providing unlimited views up and down the river. And that view is a must see. The Vista House was undergoing some repairs when we went there. I would love to go back there sometime in the evening when the Vista House is all spruced up and see what it looks like with a setting Sun in the background.

We then drove on into the mountains to see a "few" waterfalls. The one that took my breath away was the Multnomah Falls. The Multnomah Falls cascades in 2 segments: a 542 feet drop onto a ledge, flows a little on the ledge before plunging another 69 feet. Just above the ledge is a person-made bridge that is almost a picture out of the movies. A winding road leads up to the bridge. The trail leads further on to the top of the Falls. Late and tired we skipped if for a later time. The best view is from near the Falls Lodge at the base of the Falls. From here we can see the higher Falls crash down on the ledge, the beautiful bridge suspended above it and then the lower Falls gently hitting the base. I am sure the view in winter is just as spectacular, but in a different way. I saw a few pictures of the frozen Falls and it was very inviting.

Oregon sure has a rich trove of breathtaking wonders.

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