Favorite Roads – Columbia River highway

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The famous Rowena curves of the Columbia River highway.

This is a continuation of my Favorite Roads Series… see first Favorite Road post here.

This post and others to follow – I will share thoughts and pictures on  my favorite road in Oregon – the historic Columbia River highway.  A 75 mile scenic two lane road following the Columbia River from Troutdale to The Dalles in Oregon.

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The highway near Rowena Crest is a great area to cycle.

Photographing the historic highway provides a bounty of creative opportunity – from waterfalls to tree lined roads to historic structures (Vista House, Multnomah Falls Lodge), bridges, wildflowers, hiking trails, basalt columns, and views – in the posts ahead I will share some of my favorite spots.  Today’s post is about one of the most famous sections of the highway – the Rowena loops and crest.

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Balsamroot and lupine as far as the eye can see at Rowena Plateau.

As with many great rivers across the world, the Columbia River has a tremendous history – from native Americans to the explorers Lewis and Clark – the Oregon Trail, and in the 20th century the burst of dam building and the building of the new freeway which parallels the historic Columbia River highway.

Pictured at the top of this post are the famous Rowena Crest curves – one of the most photographed spots in Oregon.  When the highway was built vehicles could not manage anything more than a 10% grade – so engineers created a series of  curves and loops to make the gradual 500 foot ascent to the top of Rowena Crest – not knowing they were creating a photographer’s dream.

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Rowena Narrows – where pirates would dwell.

Before dams flooded this area – Rowena was where the river narrowed as it passed basalt cliffs – Rowena Crest on the south side and Klickitat River watershed on the north.  Pirates and others tried to seize boats passing through the “narrows”.  There was a small army post at the base of Rowena Crest to protect the boats and others in this area.  A young Army lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant was commissioned here for a short time before he went on to become a famous Civil War general and then president of the United States.

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View of Columbia River highway from Rowena Crest.

Oregon Mountain Snow Day

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Mt. Hood Meadows

Coast, Columbia Gorge, mountains, wine country – such abundance and so much to be grateful for here in Oregon.  In 2016 I did a lot of exploring and only barely scratched the surface.  I can’t wait to keep going in 2017…

New Years Eve – my older brother Phil and I opted to explore Oregon’s Mt. Hood ski area.  He skied and I pulled a camera out of the bag that I haven’t used for a while.  I need to sell it but like an ex-lover, I wanted one more day together.

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Crystal cone

We went to Mt. Hood Meadows Nordic Center – full of friendly, fit, sober, Subaru owners!

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Big brother looking awesome!

Walk with Thee

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As we enter these last few days of 2016 – I have been thinking a lot about the strange year we are ending and wondering what is to come in 2017.  As I write these words – people around me are wrapping up their to do lists, making resolutions perhaps, taking this week of down time to recalibrate.  Some just look out the window.

Where do we find comfort in these troubled times? The words of great writers? The creative vision of artists? The gospel? 

There are few voices in this world sweeter than that of Patsy Cline.  I am not Christian but this refrain as sung by Patsy keeps playing in my head.

Just a closer walk with Thee

Grant it, Jesus, is my plea

Daily walking close to Thee

Let it be, dear Lord, let it be

Let us quietly end this tumultuous year and bring in the new year with hope and goodwill and love for each other.

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Last Day of Snow

The thaw has begun and today is probably our last day of snow in Portland for a while.  It was an exciting few days – especially spending the night on the floor of my office at the hospital.

Today I wanted to capture the brilliance of the sun shedding its light on our beautiful, snowy Portland landscape.  Snow is rare in Portland – this won’t be something we see for quite some time so I wanted a way to capture it.

One of my BFHAG’s for 2017 is to get better at my video skills.  So why not share my first attempt – that way all video’s after today will seem like an improvement!

I would love ideas, feedback, video topics, whatever you got.  This is all part of my creative journey – not to mention my midlife crisis of buying too many photographic toys – and I deeply appreciate all of you being a part of that journey.

Do you have any big ambitious goals for 2017?

 

 

The True Spirit of Christmas

We have had quite a stretch of wintry weather in Portland over the past week.  When the snow started to fall on Wednesday it started an epic traffic jam throughout the city.

I work at a 523 bed hospital on the west side of the city.  There is a range of hills between the hospital and downtown.  There are limited ways up and over those hills – and Wednesday afternoon’s snowfall combined with everyone desperately trying to get home exactly at 3:00 was too much.

Tales of commutes taking 7-8 hours were common.  Just getting off our campus was taking hours since all the streets surrounding the hospital were jammed.  At one point I went to the parking lot and hospital roads with a big bag of treats to keep these poor souls fed.  I handed out over 200 treats to grateful colleagues.

I was helping with logistics of getting critical clinical staff into work or finding a bed for those who were staying the night.  I witnessed how hard our support teams work to make sure our employees, our guests and our patients are taken care of.  In this blog post I have included pictures of some of those amazing people.

When we realized people couldn’t get home – our kitchen staff went to work cooking up pans and pans of macaroni and cheese.  For guests who couldn’t pay – we gladly gave them a free meal.  We shuttled staff and guests to the nearest transit center so they could get a train home.  Our linen team put together overnight packs with sheets, blankets, towels and toiletry items.

This isn’t my first winter storm event while working at the hospital but it goes down as one of the most memorable and the most heart warming.  The spirit of Christmas is alive and well.

Tale of Two Cities – Ice Storm Part 2

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That sweet little snow storm I was alluding to in the last post – turned into the ice storm I was dreading and hit Portland hard.  We started with enough snow to cancel school on Thursday.  And forecasters stated the cold air was going to move out early Friday.  But it didn’t do that… and more precipitation and cold winds created a thick icy coat over everything.  Every tree sagged from the additional weight with devastating results.

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One of many broken trees along NE Alameda, Portland, Oregon

And the city just wouldn’t warm up and two days of carrying that weight is too long for many trees to bear.  

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This tree imploded.

But in my neighborhood just a few miles south – and a few degrees warmer – it was a much different story.  Just good old fashioned Oregon rain.

Its sad to see so many trees go down but that is nature taking its course.  We have had ice storms in this area since the Columbia Basalt Field rose up above the river to create that beautiful gorge. 

Ice storms can be devastating but they sure are beautiful.