Friday, November 22, 2013

The Columbia And Snake Rivers Aboard Un-Cruises’ S.S. LEGACY

Photo by Peter Knego, of  Cascade Lock and The Bridge of the Gods
View a tour of the Un-Cruises’ recently launched 88-guest SS LEGACY on one of the ship’s heritage-rich Columbia and Snake River voyages with visits to Crown Point, Multnomah Falls, the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center and a scenic day on the river, as provide by Peter Knego. 

Tad's Chicken 'n Dumplins

One of many historic photos of Tad's Chicken 'n Dumplins
Tad's Chicken 'n Dumplins in Troutdale home to drinkers, romantics, scenery-lovers and more
Sitting on a lonely and pretty stretch of the East Historic Columbia River Highway, Tad's looks like a welcoming lodge. A lodge decorated in knotty pine and punctuated with dried gourds, a liquor still and life-size wooden Native American. Drinkers gravitate toward the room with the enormous bar. Romantics toward the room with the fireplace. And scenery-lovers, the room at the back where you can see the twinkle of the river through the tangle of trees. But, no matter where you sit, your meal starts with a crudites platter complete with a tangy, can't-stop-eating dill ranch house dressing and pillowy rolls brought to the table warm enough to toast chilled fingers.
Not to miss: The general rule is the smart diner never went wrong ordering the specialty of the house. And the rule holds true here, with the original chicken 'n dumplins ($14.50). Enough food to feed two (or one, today and tomorrow), the meal starts with your choice of soup or salad and includes chicken, dumplings and green beans. The vegetables are forgettable, but the chicken is a feast of skinless dark and white meat stewed until fork-tender; the two enormous dumplings, each larger than our fist, are shot through with rich chicken flavor; and the chicken gravy, thanks to its secret ingredient, is pure umami. (The secret ingredient? Duck fat.)
Bargains: The portions are so enormous you could make a satisfying meal out of an appetizer, such as the deep-fried zucchini ($5.50) for which several small -- or one enormous -- zucchinis were sacrificed so you could have a platter overflowing with thick spears of zucchini fried to creamy doneness and served with that addictive dill ranch.
Details: 1325 E. Historic Columbia River Highway, Troutdale; 503-666-5337;; 5-10 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 4-10 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Biking Segment Opens Linking Troutdale to Cascade Locks

Bicyclists ride on the new McCord Creek Bridge, part of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, near Cascade Locks, Ore. (Oregon Dept. of Transportation photo)

After the completion of a 1.6 mile segment, you can now bike 34 miles from Troutdale to Cascade Locks. The Seattle Times offers a list of what the new 1.6 mile segment has to offer.
  • A new 12-foot wide paved path accessible to pedestrians, bicyclists, hikers and people using wheelchairs.
  • A distinctive new 76-foot long, 16-foot wide bridge over McCord Creek reflecting the craftsmanship of the original highway design. 
  • A new picnic and rest area with restored views of Beacon Rock. 
  • A link with U.S. Forest Service Trail 400, connecting to Elowah Falls.
Click the following link to read the original Seattle Times article.

Watch Travel Oregon's video about reconnecting the Historic Columbia River Highway below.

You can read more about the trail here

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hood River, Oregon

Rasmussen Farms Pumpkin Patch

Weekender: Hood River, Ore.

A bounty of late-fall fun awaits in Hood River.

Sample local ales, meet an alpaca, and drive the scenic Fruit Loop in this town along the Columbia River Gorge. Area code is 541 except as noted.

To do and see

Fruit Loop The 35-mile route passes through orchards, farmland, and some of the area's most impressive scenery. Off-season farm stands are few, but many shops and wineries welcome visitors year-round. 386-7697, Glassometry Studios Make your own ornaments, take a metalworking class, or watch artist Laurel Marie Hagner blow art-glass pumpkins at her sprawling studio surrounded by farmland. 3015 Lower Mill Dr., 354-3015, History Museum of Hood River County An 1800s apple press and vintage alpine climbing tools trace the area's history in the compact museum. 300 E. Port Marina Dr., 386-6772, Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum Two hangars hold hundreds of vintage aircraft and vehicles, including an 1899 Locomobile steam car and a 1917 Curtiss JN-4D "Jenny" training plane. 1600 Air Museum Rd., 308-1600,


Apple Valley Country Store Taste more than 50 kinds of jams and jellies, such as cinnamon-pear and blueberry-amaretto, or grab a slice of fruit pie at this rural shop. 2363 Tucker Rd., 386-1971, The Gallery 301 More than a dozen artists display their work—ranging from quilted landscapes to handmade guitars—in a restored 1924 bank building. 301 Oak St., 436- 0281, G. Williker's Toy Shoppe Delight in old-fashioned wooden trucks, handmade aprons, and a gumball machine. 202 Oak St., 387-2229, Mystic Mud Studio Pottery Gallery Handpainted fruit and sunflowers decorate brightly colored tableware in artist Trudi Klinger's downtown store. 104 Oak St., 386-6463,


Celilo Seasonal local produce shines in dishes such as roasted pumpkin soup and lamb loin with sweet-and-sour squash at this elegant corner restaurant. Save room for the molten chocolate cake with house-made ice cream. 16 Oak St., 386-5710, Full Sail Brewing Company Enjoy hearty salmon fish and chips along with 16 beers on tap at this river-view pub, then stay for an info-packed brewery tour. 506 Columbia St., 386-2247, Nora's Table The intimate dinner spot features a rotating roster of international dishes paired with local wines. Breakfast served Fri.–Sun. 110 Fifth St., 387-4000, Pfriem Family Brewers The riverside brewery serves smoked trout fritters and crispy onion rings alongside Belgian-influenced ales. 707 Portway Ave., Ste. 101, 321-0490,


Foothills Yarn & Fiber Meet friendly alpacas, learn about spinning techniques, then shop for plush socks at this homey hilltop Fruit Loop stop. Colorful scarves woven by the owners make excellent gifts. 4207 Sylvester Dr., 354-3542, Nella Chestnut Farm This tiny farm stand sells colossal chestnuts on fall weekends. Enjoy local red wine and roasted chestnuts under the trees at the annual roasting party (Nov. 2 and 3). 3435 Neal Creek Rd., (800) 400-3658, Rasmussen Farms Find apples, pears, and plenty of squashes at this 17-acre farm with scenic views. Don't miss Pumpkin Funland (through Nov. 11) with a corn maze and pumpkin bowling. 3020 Thomsen Rd., 386-4622, Tilly Jane Trail Strap on cross-country skis or snowshoes for stunning views of Mount Hood on a 2.7-mile trek through old-growth forest near the historic Cloud Cap Inn. Off Cloud Cap Road, 352-6002,

Get Going

Request the Oregon TourBook and a map of Hood River and The Dalles at or any AAA branch. To find a place to stay, visit For more information contact the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce: 720 E. Port Marina Dr., (800) 366-3530,
Photography by Joni Kabana; courtesy of Rasmussen Farms (pumpkin patch)

This article was first published in November 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Dog Mountain Hike

Columbia Gorge Dog Mountain

Dog Mountain Hike

A Columbia Gorge trail leads to wildflowers and ski-high views in Washington.
By Nino Padova

Two paths diverged in the woods beneath Dog Mountain, and I—I took the one marked less difficult. Even that was no cakewalk. But to enjoy one of the top hikes in the Columbia River Gorge, you have to sweat a little.

Located off Highway 14, nine miles east of Stevenson, Wash., Dog Mountain rises 2,984 feet. After half a mile, the popular six-mile loop spits you out at a fork. The “more difficult” path means exactly that, a 1.5-mile climb at an average grade of 30 percent—steeper than San Francisco’s famously precipitous Lombard Street. “Go left and you’d better be in shape,” says Tom Savage, a retired ranger at the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Stay right and pass through a Douglas fir forest lush with trilliums and starflowers. Soon you’re standing amid a blanket of glowing balsamroot and blue lupine, overlooking Starvation Creek Falls—a great spot to have a snack. At the top, a half mile up, you’re met with screen-saver views of the gorge and Mount Hood. Note: Traffic backups due to roadwork ( may delay access to the trailhead. (360) 891-5000,


Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Dalles

The Dalles, OR

The Dalles

Journey to eastern Oregon to savor the pioneer spirit of the West.
By David Sharp

From a bluff overlooking The Dalles, Ore., the landscape resembles the set of a John Wayne shoot-'em-up. With the sun setting behind a high ridge, buzzards wheel about like beady-eyed stringless kites. Below, the Columbia River cuts an oxbow through a scrub-filled desert.

Portlanders may forget that they're in the same state. Oregon laws still apply, but you must cross an unofficial boundary to get here. Both climatically and culturally, The Dalles lies just beyond the line that separates the Pacific Northwest from the West.

The transition is startling because it happens so suddenly. Drenched by storms that roll in from the Pacific, the western end of the Columbia Gorge abounds with waterfalls and forests. But with the Cascade Mountains blocking those storms from traveling farther inland, the scenery along I-84 changes from lush forests to rain-starved mountains in about the time it takes to pop in a new CD.

The Dalles' personality is heavily flavored by its rich frontier past. Located along a main access route between the Pacific and the interior, The Dalles sits on land that was for centuries one of the main indigenous trading centers in North America. Tribes from as far away as North Dakota and California came here to barter.

It is also where Oregon Trail pioneers confronted perhaps the most difficult decision of their transcontinental journey: whether to make an arduous detour through the Cascades or a one-day raft trip down the then-treacherous Columbia River on their way westward. (More than 10 percent of those who opted for the river drowned.) Taking its name from a French term meaning flagstone, the town rose in status in the 1850s when it became the seat of Wasco County, the largest ever formed in the United States, stretching to Wyoming and covering an area more than twice the size of Florida. (The county has since shrunk considerably.)

The Dalles has preserved dozens of elegant 19th- and early-20th-century buildings from its heyday. To explore these architectural gems, take a stroll through the city's walkable downtown. Along the way, be sure to stop inside the county's original courthouse (now a museum complete with old-time jail cells) and at the stained glass-bejeweled Old St. Peter's Landmark, with a 176-foot-high spire that has been a local fixture since 1897. St. Peter's also has a rare tigerwood pipe organ and a life-size statue of the Madonna, carved from the keel of an 1850s shipwreck.

Get in step with the local fashion at Tony's Town & Country Clothing, which stocks enough Western wear to outfit an entire rodeo. If you've been looking for a pair of iguana-hide cowboy boots, look no further. Tony's has boots made from every critter imaginable—including shark, ostrich, and kangaroo.
The Dalles is also home to Oregon's oldest bookstore. Klindt's, which has been in business for 131 years, mixes new best-sellers with an array of out-of-print books.

To feel as if you're dining in a bygone era, drop by the Baldwin Saloon, where a gallery of late 1800s "bar nudes"—large oil paintings depicting winsome women who'd have been excellent candidates for a job at Miss Kitty's Long Branch-adorns the exposed-brick walls. The menu features steaks, pasta, and seafood, and on weekend evenings, guests can enjoy live music from what may be the original piano bar—an 1894 mahogany piano.

If you'd rather not change out of your jeans, make a beeline to Cousins' Restaurant & Saloon, where the home-style cooking includes everything from omelets to pot roast and where an electronic cow moos when you walk in.

Though the city's pioneer roots are plainly visible, its Indian heritage is more submerged—literally. In 1957, the creation of The Dalles Dam permanently flooded key Indian fishing sites that had been in continuous use for 8,000 years. Hop the free shuttle train at The Dalles Dam Visitor Center for a breezy, one-mile ride to the dam itself. There, you can tour its inner workings, which include a row of massive power-generating turbines and a maze of fish ladders where you may catch sight of sturgeon as big as sharks. The dam also has a collection of rock slabs bearing ancient Indian petroglyphs.

Learn more about the region's history at the jointly housed Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Wasco County Historical Museum, which has a vast assortment of Indian artifacts, including a "time ball"—a calendar made from string and beads. For a quirkier glimpse at the past, visit the Fort Dalles Surgeons Quarters—the last remaining building in the town's old fort. In its catchall collection are a wreath made from human hair and a hand-cranked roulette wheel.

Don't leave town without a pilgrimage to holistically oriented Mid-Columbia Medical Center to see its outdoor labyrinth. Patterned after the one at Chartres Cathedral in France, the labyrinth is intended to foster contemplation by leading you along a circuitous yet uninterrupted terrazzo path toward the center—and then out again. Blending New Age with Old West, it's the place in The Dalles where cowboy boots and Birkenstocks are equally appropriate.

Just don't expect to find a host of Birkenstock outlets and espresso bars. The antithesis of trendy Hood River, The Dalles veers more toward cowboy boots and shops as genuinely Western as an old saddle. In fact, you can actually buy an old saddle at Honald's 2nd Street Place, eastern Oregon's biggest antique mall. Its selection includes such Ponderosa-esque items as leather pillows, horse halters, and even a galvanized tin bathtub.

If You're Going: 

All phone numbers below are area code 541 unless noted. Pick up AAA's Oregon & Washington TourBook and map. For additional information, contact The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce, 296-2231, (800) 255-3385,


Columbia House, 525 East Seventh St., 298-4686, (800) 807-2668. Four-room cottage-style bed-and-breakfast with river-view decks. Rate $85.

Windrider Inn, 200 West Fourth St., 296-2607. Four-room Dutch Colonial with shared kitchen, in-ground pool, and hot tub. Rents mainly by the week in summer. Rates from $40 to $50.


Baldwin Saloon, 205 Court St., 296-5666.

Cousins' Restaurant & Saloon, 2114 West Sixth St., 298-2771.

Holstein's Coffee Co., 811 East Third St., 298-2326. Coffee drinks, fruit smoothies, muffins, and other snacks.


Honald's 2nd Street Place, 402 East Second St., 296-8500. Two floors of antiques and collectibles.

Klindt's Booksellers, 315 East Second St., 296-3355,

Tony's Town & Country Clothing, 401 East Second St., 296-5230.


The Original 1859 Wasco County Courthouse, 410 West Second Pl., 296-4798, 296-3594. Open Thursday through Monday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., May to Labor Day. Other times by appointment.

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center/Wasco County Historical Museum, 5000 Discovery Dr., 296-8600, Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Old St. Peter's Landmark, 405 Lincoln St., 296-5686. Open Tuesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., weekends noon to 4 p.m.

Fort Dalles Museum, 500 West 15th St., 296-4547. Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Memorial Day to Labor Day. Call for off-season schedule.

The Dalles Dam Visitor Center, located at the end of Brett Clodfelter Way, 296-9778. Free train tours of the dam depart every half hour daily 10 a.m. to 4:30 pm., June through August; Wednesday through Sunday, April, May, September, and October.

Labyrinth Garden, 1700 East 19th St. On the east side of the Mid-Columbia Medical Center, the labyrinth is open to the public 24 hours and lighted at night.


Historic The Dalles Day, October 13, 296-2231.

Starlite Parade, November 23, 296-2231.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Beacon Rock State Park

Beacon Rock
Beacon Rock State Park

The 848-foot monolith on the Washington side of the Columbia River, 35 miles upstream from Portland, has served as a landmark to voyagers for centuries. Beacon Rock—once the core of a volcano—looks daunting, but a 1.8-mile round-trip trail eases the climb up it with switchbacks, stairs, and handrails. With every step you take, the Columbia Gorge view grows more expansive. (360) 902-8844,


Friday, November 8, 2013

Oregon’s Historic Columbia River Highway

Oregon Scenic Highway

Oregon’s Historic Columbia River Highway

From Troutdale To Hood River
Waterfalls plunging down sheer cliffs, and sunlight breaking through maples and firs—the Historic Columbia River Highway packs plenty into 77 miles. Summer attracts crowds seeking shade and cool mists; other seasons allow more solitude. Whenever you visit, start by climbing the highway from Troutdale to the domed Vista House, famous for 360-degree views of the Columbia River Gorge. Next, wend your way downhill on a serpentine road.

The route flattens out at the bottom, aka waterfall central. Latourell Falls looks inviting from the car, but you’ll want to walk closer. The honeycombed basalt at its base is as picturesque as the water. Drive on and the waterfalls keep gushing: Wahkeena, Horsetail, and, of course, 620-foot Multnomah. Other falls—including Punch Bowl, Ponytail, and tall but delicate Elowah—lie just a short hike from the road.

The highway merges with I-84, which heads past the Bonneville Dam to the town of Cascade Locks, where you can picnic next to the river or catch a cruise on the Columbia Gorge riverboat. Beyond that, you can explore Hood River, known for wineries, pears, and windsurfers, and The Dalles, where the lush gorge finally gives way to the dry expanse of northeastern Oregon. —Chris Woolston


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail to open McCord Creek section

Picture Source: Oregon Department of Transportation.

Terry Richard of OregonLive has a nice article on the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail opening in Cascade Locks. read an excerpt below.

Byclists will soon have a new recreation option after a missing link in the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail opens west of Cascade Locks. The section will be fully useable after Oct. 31.
Scot Sullenger, who owns the Cascade Motel in Cascade Locks, thinks it could be a perfect weekend outing for Portlandesr. In fact, he plans to do it in reverse himself.
This is how it will work. For the first time since the construction of Interstate 84 in the 1960s, there will be an alternative route between Troutdale to Cascade Locks without the need for using any part of the freeway.