Our last day "on the road" took us up central Oregon on the east side of the Cascade Mountains to the Columbia River Valley and then back to Portland for our farewell dinner. It was a jam-packed end to a jam-packed excursion. We enjoyed getting to know a delightful group of folks and learning more new stuff about a place we had visited many times. Not to mention the eclipse!

Lava Butte

Our first stop was Lava Lands, a part of Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

Jim & I had visited Lava Lands in 1987. Lava Lands itself, although officially closed in winter, is still accessible by leaving your car in the parking lot and climbing in. The rest of the monument was not accessible so we haven't seen it. We were sorry that there wasn't time to visit Newberry caldera itself on this trip.

When Lava Lands is open, there are shuttles to the top of Lava Butte. In the winter we had to climb it ourselves. What a view from the top! I was interested to see that the cinders in the caldera itself are red rather than black!

Rabbit Brush

Another treat from visiting in the summer is that we could see the rabbit brush blooming. It is still handsome in winter, but has a more somber color rather than this glow-in-the-dark yellow.

Sponge rock

This large piece of scoria looks like a sponge.

Road Scholars

Colorful Road Scholars stand out against the dark lava.

Lava Ness Monster

The fabled "Lava Ness Monster" bids us farewell as we head farther north.

Basalt Columns

On our way to the Columbia Gorge we visited Warm Springs Indian Reservation. On the way we passed these basalt columns. Alas, they didn't make the cut at a website describing ten such formations around the world including Fingal's Cave and the Giant's Causeway, both of which we have visited.

Warm Springs Indian Reservation

A visit to the museum at the Warm Springs Indian Reservation was a welcome break from the bus. It is a testament that some Native American tribes have been able to not just survive the institutional repression that disrupted their traditional ways of life but also prosper.

The building is beautiful -- we were told its design echoes the designs of their baskets.

The configuration of the water feature in front of the museum is supposed to echo the Columbia River basin.

Mt. Hood

Proceeding north from Warm Springs we passed Mt. Hood. It still has significant snow cover from the past winter in addition to the permanent glaciers.

Jim and I stayed one night at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood. It was a lousy snow season, which was why we could get a room. It is literally a work of art. Everything there was purpose-built for the place. Once upon a time there was a brief video at the link that summarized its development, but at present you need to click around under "Details" to find about its history and the wonderful arts & crafts that it contains.

P.S., We preferred the Oregon Caves Chateau.

Columbia River

We have reached the Columbia River Gorge.

Since our trip this area has been devastated by an wildfire. It started on 2 September and by 5 September was threatening the Multnomah Falls Lodge. Some of the following views may have changed by now.

Nothing is certain in this life.

The fire was not declared completely extinguished for over a year!

The teenager who started the fire by mishandling fireworks was sentenced to community service, letters of apology, and $37M of restitution. He has been meeting his goals.

Columbia River

The afternoon is advancing as we drive down the gorge.

There are railroad lines on both sides of the river. Unfortunately I've forgotten which line is operated by which railroad company. Lynn said that there was a fierce rivalry between them.

Pilot Rock

Beacon Rock, on the Washington side, was where Lewis & Clark first documented tides on the Columbia River. They then knew that they were getting close to their destination.

Children playing

Children (and adults) playing in Multnomah Creek not far from the base of the falls. This may have been a group visiting together because when I returned from the falls, perhaps 30 minutes later, there was not a soul in the creek!

Multnomah Falls

Jim and I had visited Multnomah Falls before in the winter. It had significantly more water flow then. I can remember hearing the cracking of the water as it fell - not unlike the crack of a whip. On this day it simply sounded like -- a waterfall.

Needless to say on the cold and rainy winter's day when we visited there were nothing like these crowds!

Crowded bridge The crowds on the bridge reminded me of our visit to the Great Wall of China! It took sharp elbows to get to the other side.

Multnomah Creek

The creek leading away from the falls.

While visiting the area I took a picture of a display documenting the 1991 "Falls Fire," which started here at the falls. It noted that 90% of fires in the gorge are started by humans, usually accidentally, which was the case with the current fire.

After visiting Multnomah Falls, only one of several magnificent falls in the gorge, we returned to our starting point near the Portland Airport. We had a delightful dinner to bid farewell to our guides and each other.

Carol said repeatedly that our group had "good karma." I think she was right. We dodged bullets throughout the trip!

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