Columbia River Gorge-ous

The Campbells are on to the next adventure!

On Saturday, September 24, 2017 we left Burlington, CO and headed to the Pacific Northwest for the fall. We headed west on I-70 (avoiding windy Wyoming this time!), and it was a smooth, long ride to Heber City, Utah. We stayed in Wasatch Mountain State Park for 4 nights and visited the bea-Utah-ful Wasatch and Uinta Mountains, drove on back roads that were closed or snowed over during our last stent in Utah in the spring, and visited some of our wonderful friends that we had been missing all summer. The drive from Burlington to Heber City was estimated to be 10 hours 17 minutes on the GPS, but due to frequent stops and slower driving speeds while pulling our RV, we clocked in at a whopping 13 hours (and 4 tanks of gas)! We were exhausted and hungry as we pulled into the campground, but thrilled to be back in Utah.

Over the course of the next 3 days, we saw heavy snow that melted quickly and gave way to bright fall colors of red, orange, and yellow that made the mountains even more beautiful. Sunday was a tough day to drive around due to the sudden snow, but our dear friends, Katie and Isaac, came to our small home for an evening of snow, dinner, and catching up. We spent Monday driving deep in the Uinta Mountains then headed north to Park City for the afternoon. The scenic drive from Park City to Midway was closed in the spring, so we weren’t able to access it then; of course we had to take advantage of the early autumn season and see this view for ourselves. Guardsman Pass didn’t disappoint! This windy road travels up the mountain on the north side past Brighton ski area then takes a steep descent into Wasatch Mountain State Park. It definitely takes longer time than the highway but is well worth it. Our last day in Utah was spent hiking some easy trails southeast of Salt Lake City in Big Cottonwood Canyon then driving east of Heber to explore the valley a little more. We turned in early for a good night sleep to get an early start on the next leg of our trip.

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On Wednesday, we hooked up our house, said our see-ya-laters to Utah, and drove further north towards Oregon. Russell wanted to find the “twin falls” aka Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho, but upon arrival we were definitely let down. The big falls were dry, and the little falls were just a trickle. We spent the night at Bruneau Dunes State Park in Mountain Home, Idaho. This site wasn’t planned, but we were tired of driving, and the sand dunes looked interesting.

Bruneau Dunes State Park-4

We hiked to the top of the dune and looked out over the park and the nearby river

Finally, Thursday was Oregon Day! It was a 7 hour drive from our overnight site in Idaho to our new home in The Dalles, Oregon, so we hit the road at daylight and got excited. West Oregon was a little bland at first with brown hills and few trees to be seen, but the further northwest we drove, the more we liked what we saw. As we traveled on I-84, we came to the Columbia River and caught site of Washington State to our left and some steep cliffs to our right. The Gorge (as the locals call it) changes drastically as you drive east to west from steep, rocky cliffs that are home to mountain goats and black tail deer to vineyards and developed towns with more hustle and bustle. The state line that divides Oregon and Washington runs through the middle of the Columbia River, so the wind surfers on the river are sometimes in one state and sometimes in another! We pulled in to Memaloose State Park where Russell is helping out with maintenance tasks as a park host for a few weeks, met the friendly park rangers, and set up home in our secluded site in the campground.

We were ready to see our new temporary town, so we spent the weekend driving and exploring to see what the Columbia River Gorge has to offer, besides its beauty. Russell immediately checked off an item on his photography bucket list once we found the Rowena Loops, a scenic section of Highway 30 that was completed in 1929. This engineering advancement was built around the landscape and incorporates sloping roads and tight hairpin turns to wind through Mosier and Rowena, Oregon.

On top of finding our way around the new city, including shopping at the local Safeway grocery store, finding a good Chinese restaurant, and spotting vineyards to visit in the future, we played a round of disc golf (rather, Russell played while Victoria and the dogs kept him company), visited the Saturday morning farmers market, and hiked the Mosier Plateau Trail that overlooks the town of Mosier and the Columbia River from the top of the gorge.

Mosier plateau trail3

Viewpoint from the Mosier Plateau Trail

So far, we love Oregon and The Dalles and the Columbia River Gorge! We are planning to be here until mid-November until another physical therapy contract will hopefully take us closer to Portland and out of the mountains for the beginning of the winter season.

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