After leaving home in snow and sub-zero conditions, I was hoping to write a post about how the weather just kept getting better and better as we moved south (and, of course, make you all foolishly jealous of us). Unfortunately, such has not been the case. The rain set in shortly after making it to Leavenworth so we spent the day puttering around town. We took in the Bavarian ambiance, visited the library (being on the road has made us huge fans of libraries – free WiFi, great advice and always super welcoming) and even caught up on our laundry. The beer, spaetzle and schnitzel alone made the stop worthwhile.
As the rain continued to come down, though, it seemed like we may be due for an indoor diversion so we headed towards Everett. We camped at a lovely little county campsite at Flowing Lake. The next day we took in a tour of the Boeing Assembly plant. Unfortunately, cameras were verboten but you’ll have to take my word that it was pretty awesome to see the assemblies in place. The plant is the largest building (by volume) on the planet and the team can put together a jumbo jet in less than 3 days. Thanks Karl for convincing us to go.:) Just as we were preparing to leave, we noticed massive crowds assembling near the Visitor’s Center. Apparently, there were rumours that President Obama’s plane was due to land that morning and the throngs of onlookers were waiting around for a glimpse. Dave and I couldn’t help but wonder if Harper would elicit anywhere near the same level of excitement…
Rather than remain trapped in the crowded parking lot in the rain, though, we opted to hop in the truck and head south in hopes that the weather might improve. It did not. We finally broke and stopped at a motel. It was cheap (the decorating was probably from before I was born) but it was dry, clean and it had free WiFi. It was a little slice of heaven.
With spirits renewed, we set out in the rain (still no sign of letting up) and crossed into Oregon. I am a huge fan of Bob’s Red Mill 5 Grain Rolled Oats so a stop to see the official store and “mill” in Milwaukie, OR was in order. It was seriously impressive…they make more products than I ever dreamed and “Bob” is even a real person. At a very spry 85 years old, he came out to meet our entire tour group. Their restaurant also serves up some seriously delicious meals (using all of their own products, of course).
The rain continued to fall and we were both out of indoor diversions that sounded appealing. We decided to suck it up and head into the Columbia River Gorge for some sightseeing and hiking. It did not disappoint. We have been here a few days now and it is absolutely enchanting. I don’t think I have ever walked through woods that felt so incredibly magical. Everything is green – every shade of green, the trees are hanging in moss and it seems like there is a waterfall around every corner. It is seriously the type of place where you half expect a leprechaun to pop out at you at any moment.
It was also as we were hiking that we saw our first spots of sunshine this week! After we were suited up in full rain gear (gaiters and all), the sun came out and beamed down on us until we couldn’t take it and finally stripped all of our gear off…shortly thereafter it then began to rain on us…we broke down and put our gear back on…sun came out…gear off…pouring rain hits. The weather gods were clearly laughing at us.I think we went through that little cycle another 3 times before heading back to our campsite.
We camped at Ainsworth State Park which is very nice and economical, only $16/night for full hookups(which we don’t use) and free showers with unlimited hot water. Those free showers led to another story that I’ll let Dave tell:
“After a day of hiking in on again, off again rain it was going to be a delight to have a hot shower that would not be limited by the number of quarters that you could assemble. And it was in that spirit that I stood under a stream of pleasingly hot water when it occurred to me that I had not hung my towel outside the shower. In fact I couldn’t recall seeing my towel with my clothes and, upon further reflection, I could recall my towel sitting beside (but not with) my shower pack in the camper. Oh what a dilemma! This was seriously impacting my delight in the long hot shower. I considered my options:
1. I could try and air dry, a good option in Arizona at 30 C and 0% humidity, but not so good in Oregon at 12 C and 99% humidity.
2. I could just put wet clothes on but that seemed rude and uncomfortable.
3. I could wait for Kristel to realize that I was taking a long time, notice my towel left behind and come to my rescue. Unfortunately, she was getting into a game of Candy Crush on the iPhone as I left and that meant that the air dry option might have a better chance of success.
4. I could make a mad dash to the camper and hope I did not permanently scar any young children with my streak to dryness. The camper was no further than 50 meters away, optimistically maybe 40 yards and there are people who can run that in 4.4 seconds, but it’s uphill; maybe 5 seconds, and a few turns; 6 seconds, and it’s me running, better double that 12 seconds, a few seconds to fumble with the door and the exposure could well go beyond 15 seconds.
5. There was the men’s bathroom, only a few steps from the shower room, exposure time considerably less, but that would only get me to rough paper towels which wasn’t that appealing.
6. My last alternative was to use my T-shirt as a towel.
I plan to double check for my towel before heading out for a shower next time or park much closer.”
Ah well – let them laugh! We are enjoying ourselves and have decided to embrace the rain…and just as I say this, I see a patch of blue sky just outside the Cascade Locks library window!