Friday, December 15, 2006

Looking for Paintings - Part 18

Columbia River Gorge - December 2, 2006

I've been living and working in Portland since October 16 and have taken full advantage of the opportunity to see as much of the region as time allows, which is usually weekends. I've been very lucky - almost every Saturday has been clear, with maybe a smattering of obvious weather, which I thoroughly enjoy. I think gray skies, a little rain and tolerable cloudiness mute the colors of nature just enough to make photographs better.

A friend of mine has arrived from Los Angeles, doesn't have a car, and has not seen anything other than his apartment, his office, and whatever lies in the five blocks between. So I happily offered to show him what I saw a week earlier (last post) so I could revisit some of the great scenery and check out his reaction. So we headed out the same route to Washington, but detoured almost immediately to visit The Fort Vancouver Historic Site just off Route 14 about 1 mile east of the I-5. Now, I'm not a big tourist trap, gift shop, guided tour, droning docent, historical recreation kind of guy, but this was one terrific detour that I'm glad I was talked into. Granted, it didn't take a lot to talk me into it, but normally I would have driven right past and made a beeline for the big scenery.

"Since 1966 Fort Vancouver's palisade and several buildings have been reconstructed on their original locations. Together they can give you an idea of what life was like when Fort Vancouver was the most popular settlement in the Pacific Northwest."

The first fort was built around 1825 and this reconstruction lies on the original site.

This gentleman is one of a small army of local volunteers who donate their time to make this historical destination worthwhile. He was a wealth of information about blacksmithing, tools, and pioneer life at Fort Vancouver in 1825. He took the time to explain how things worked, how things were made and the ingenuity the early settlers displayed. My thanks to him for his time and knowledge.

The smokey light of the blacksmith shop was a great opportunity to utilize available lighting very nicely. Sunlight streamed through the windows while the warm glow of the fire added some warmth to the scene.

The nearby infirmary as seen through the windows. (Below)

Adjoining the infirmary, the pharmacy.
An unexpected, elegant dinner setting.

Back at Cape Horn, overlooking the Columbia River Gorge. Please note the white caps on the water below. Maybe (maybe) this will give you an idea of the wind chill factor at this overlook. It was extremely cold here. We'd hop out of the car, grab a shot, then leap back into the car for a minute before jumping out to grab another shot. Don't let those pleasant shadows and sunshine fool you. It was windy, freezing cold and face numbing.

That's me, trying to look like some macho tourist enjoying the pleasant weather and stunning view while exuding total immunity to the elements. Truth is, I was shaking like a leaf and urging my friend to "just push the damn button!"

This mountain north of Bonneville Dam is too pretty to look as cold as it must have been up on it. I was freezing my XXX off where I was standing, so I can't imagine what it was like up on top.

Another cold mountain with a cold lake in the foreground. Skinny dipping, anyone?

So I'm zipping along Route 14 near White Salmon, Washington when I spot something out of the corner of my eye. I thought I had seen some sail boards and wind surfers! I immediately pulled off the freeway and took some local roads down to the water's edge and sure enough... There were some guys windsurfing on the Columbia. I chatted with one guy who was packing up his board and getting ready to leave. He said the water was 41 degrees, the air was 30 degrees and the wind chill factor dropped it down to about zero. And these guys were wind surfing across the Columbia (it took about three minutes to cross the river which is about a mile across at this point.) I don't know what else to say except Brrr.. But that somehow doesn't quite do it.

On I-84 back to Portland on the south side of the Columbia.

Back home in Portland, it's clear enough for a late afternoon shot of Mt. St. Helens from my balcony.

Next: The Steel Bridge


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