May 8, 2012

Interlude Along the Columbia River

We reached the mighty Columbia River on Sunday afternoon.  The section of the Columbia that separates the states of Oregon and Washington is the only sea level, navigable waterway through the Cascade Range and is known as the Columbia River Gorge.  It’s a place worthy of a long visit, but Tim and I had previously visited much of the gorge in Oregon, so we crossed the river to the state of Washington.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous as we pulled into Maryhill State Park.  As soon as we arrived, I fell in love with the park and knew this was where I’d like to spend more than one night.  The park is located on the Columbia River, and some campsites are directly on the banks of the river.  What a beautiful view.  We arrived too late to snag one of those sites, but ours was just on the other side of the road, and we could still see the river.  Lots of mature trees provided shade for our spacious campsite.

Even though there was no TV reception, and only an intermittent internet signal, Tim indulged me with a promise to spend another night here.  We moved to a riverfront site yesterday morning and settled back to enjoy the day.  We were finally able to set up our chairs, sit in the sun or shade as we desired and soak up the warmth of a glorious day.  It was such a nice change to stay put when the weather was perfect.  We even extended our awning for the first time on the trip, if you can believe that.  It just never seemed to be worth the time and effort before.

Our Campsite Along the Columbia River
A Perfect Spot to Chill
I was able to walk down to the river and admire the view of Mount Hood in the distance. That magnificent mountain is often obscured by clouds, but the mountain was “out” the entire time we were here.  The mountains of the Cascade Range are so dramatic and dominate the landscape.  Mount Hood overlooks the city of Portland, Oregon, and Mount Rainier, which we’ll visit this week, looms over Seattle, Washington.

Mount Hood Looming Over the Columbia River
Sunset Along the Columbia River
All good things must come to an end, and we left the state park this morning.  I probably would have been happy staying there for a week, but the end of the trip is in sight, and there are so many places we still want to visit.

Before we left the Maryhill area, we made a stop at two of the more popular sites along the Columbia River Gorge, the Maryhill Museum of Art and the Stonehenge Memorial.  Stonehenge is a replica of the original in Great Britain and was the first monument to soldiers killed during World War I.  It was built by Sam Hill, a Pacific Northwest entrepreneur who also constructed the Maryhill Museum.  Stonehenge was sort of interesting, and I particularly loved its setting high above the Columbia.  I’ve never visited the real thing, so this one will just have to do until I can make it back to England.

Stonehenge Memorial
The Columbia River and Mount Hood from the Stonehenge Memorial
Sam Hill built Maryhill for his private residence, but he never occupied it.  He decided to convert his unfinished house into an art museum, and it was dedicated in 1926.  Maryhill occupies a dramatic setting overlooking the Columbia River and houses a rather eclectic collection of art, from Romanian royal regalia to orthodox icons to Art Nouveau glass.  Most interesting were the Rodin sculptures and drawings, as well as the Native American baskets and other works of art.  I was particularly taken though with the Theatre de la Mode, which consisted of miniature, costumed mannequins wearing French fashions from 1946.  There’s just something about French couture that’s timeless, and the level of detail was incredible.  I had never seen anything quite like this exhibit.
Maryhill Museum of Art
French Fashion at Theatre de la Mode
What a Cool Exhibit
As we left the Columbia behind and made our way northward into Washington, we couldn’t take our eyes off the hundreds of giant windmills that dotted the hills along the gorge.  I happen to love windmills and thought these were particularly picturesque as they followed the ridgelines.  The fact that they supply clean energy to the Pacific Northwest happens to be an added bonus for me.

Wind Farms Along the Columbia River Gorge
The Windmills Were Mesmerizing, and So Close to the Road


  1. Very pretty campsite! The view of Mt. Hood must have been breathtaking. I was thinking that Maryhill must be The Biltmore "west". ha LV

    1. LV, Yes, it was beautiful, and being able to see Mount Hood was such a treat. You just may be right about Maryhill. Unfortunately, it was never occupied as a home like the Biltmore, but it sure makes a nice art museum. Sarah

  2. Beautiful campsite. Great views. Love A

    1. A, We were very lucky to find such a beautiful campground with great views. Sarah