Halloween in Hood River
Just before sunrise the National Geographic Sea Bird was making her way into a small marina just outside the town of Hood River. Skies were still dark as the sun rises late in these late fall months...though, to the east we could see the first rays of light breaking through the high cloud layer. Hood River, a small but well-known wind surfing town is located on the eastern edge of the Cascade mountain range. As the sun rose we could see the changing environment all around us! To the east the channel scablands were a memory with only a small sign of basalt and bunchgrass. To the west the cloud layer thickened and the forests were beginning to dominate the landscape...the basalt still a major feature was slowly being covered with trees, shrubs and closer to the ground a myriad of lichens, mosses and ferns.
Motor coaches were waiting as the Sea Bird positioned into a small dock. At 8:00 a.m. we boarded and began a short five-mile ride along the Hood River heading into the orchard country this area of Oregon is famous for...as we climbed the clouds lowered mixing mist with Big leaf maples covered in giant, vibrant, yellow leaves. Our morning destination was the Mount Hood Winery where we had a late breakfast. After a lovely late morning meal we re-boarded our motor coaches and traveled a short distance into the heart of orchard country. Stopping at Rasmussen’s pumpkin patch and farm stand, we entered the land of both fall harvest and Halloween! Pumpkins and other squashes were everywhere...along with an enormous diversity of apples and pears. Pumpkin bowling, a corn maze, popcorn, and a large farm with fields of pumpkins fading into the morning fog. Once everyone had made their purchases from the costumed cashier, we were back on board the busses and heading back down along Hood River and into the town proper. Several shuttles were offered and many of us took the time to wander around the town of Hood River exploring, shopping, and enjoying many Halloween costumes, as the town of Hood River holds quite the celebration, Halloween night. The main street is completely closed to traffic and kids and adults hit the central avenue in costume to trick or treat...goblins, pirates, even the Corps of Discovery were wandering about the streets and docks of Hood River...
After lunch back on the Sea Bird, we traveled by bus to the Columbia River Gorge scenic highway heading for the section of the highway well populated with waterfalls. Our first stop was Ponytail Falls, just as the rain began to fall in earnest. It is said that every mile traveled from the eastern edge of the Columbia River Gorge to the western side, an inch of rain is gained...taking our ship and group from approximately 13 inches of rain near the Dalles to over 90 inches of rain at Wind River on the west side of the Bonneville lock and dam. We were moving west...and the rain was our strongest greeting force to the Cascade Mountain Range and the final western section of the Columbia River. Our second stop was Multnomah Falls, over 600 feet tall and one of the most visited sites in the state of Oregon. Upon arrival we immediately knew why...the falls were full due to the large amounts of rain and decorated all around with the yellow leaves of Big leaf maple...like yellow lace framing a very large and tall water fall. After dodging raindrops for over an hour our coaches brought everyone back to the Sea Bird, now positioned at the Cascade locks awaiting our arrival.
Once on board, we made our way to the Bonneville Lock and Dam; the first dam built on the Columbia River begun in 1937. After three years, Bonneville Dam was opened and the Columbia River began a long process of becoming a computer run river and series of impounded lakes behind many, many dams.
At approximately 5:00 p.m. the National Geographic Sea Bird entered the free flowing Columbia River...the sun was peeking through the clouds to the west; the sun setting on a river lined with the changing colors of fall and the widening expanse of North America’s 4th largest river in volume...1,214 miles long, 10 miles wide at the mouth, falling twice as far as the Mississippi in half the distance. We continued our journey heading west throughout the night, making our way to the mouth of the Columbia River, a gateway into the west.