Along the river in Portland OR

After 2 nights with no sleep because of seemingly constant train activity I decided tonight we would sleep in a nice quiet hotel, preferably one on the river as we were driving on toward Portland.

We wanted more bike riding so I checked out our Columbia Gorge bicycling map and discovered a trail that we had not yet ridden.  It was near the Portland airport, starting right under the I-205 where it crosses the Columbia River and running west along the river, perfect!  There were no parking lots for the trail but we did finally find a place to park on the shoulder of the road and we prepared to ride. There was a slight downhill from the road level to the trail so I checked my brakes . . . uh oh . . . my rear brake lever was not working at all, in fact it felt like it was going to break off in my hand. I couldn’t believe it our luck; has some gypsy crossed our path and put a curse on our bicycles?  Two flats and now this.   I most certainly did not want to rely on my front brake knowing that if I needed to stop quickly most likely I would go head over handlebars.  Disappointment bubbles up for a second and then . . .

Plan B – it was such a gorgeous day, Mt. Hood was visible to the East and the river spread out in front of us so I urged George to go ahead and ride while I got my camera and walked the trail. It was just too good a day to not spend time in this stunning location. We will return once the curse has been lifted and we will both ride this trail to see where it ends.

I find a lot of interest, there is all sorts of boat activity on the river, osprey, herons, Canada Geese and other ducks, Mt. Hood reigning over the entire scene and you can watch the airplanes land up close and personal.


Mt. Hood



As promised, I found a hotel on the river not far from where we were riding but it is Saturday night and we went into the lobby with fingers crossed that they would have a river view room. The young lady at registration said so sorry, no river view rooms available but wait . . . she did have a 1 bedroom fireplace suite with a river view, it took me about a nanosecond to say YES!  It took a few minutes while she tried to register us, it appeared she was having some technical problems with the computer and then she spoke the saddest words . . . sorry, that room is out of service while undergoing renovation.

Before my disappointment showed she offered another premium room that I guess she had hidden in her back pocket. A double queen with river view – where was it the first time I asked? Who cares, it was a river view in a quiet hotel.  We were given a fantastic room with balcony, view of the river and a peek-a-boo view of Mt. Hood. I was a happy camper once again. After we both had a long, luxurious shower we strolled down to the restaurant for happy hour, sat on the deck overlooking the river and stayed for dinner; we did not want to leave, it was a beautiful evening.


While enjoying our appetizers  we were entertained by what we thought was a wedding party, folks in formal attire, men in tuxedos and women in beautiful long gowns, lots of photos being taken.   Some of the men appeared in some type of uniform, unfamiliar to both of us. They wore whitest shoes you’ve ever seen (Pat Boone would have been jealous) white slacks, white jackets and a colored half cape over the right shoulder some of the capes were yellow, some green or black. Obviously these men were officers or elders or grand poobahs of something but we had no idea what.  The next morning we found out they were Shriners and this was their annual Grand “something” ball.

Our dinner was excellent, this was such a good choice, maybe the curse has been lifted.

Looking forward to a good night sleep . . .


Calm still waters



Columbia River Bike Trail

The morning was full of drama, George discovered that now his rear tire was flat so another trip into a bike shop was high priority. Most likely another goat head on the one tire that did not have a “slime” tire.

Then, as we were packing up to leave the campground I realized that I did not have my wallet and thus began a frantic, systematic tearing apart of the van . . . nothing found . . . called the restaurant in Hood River . . . nothing turned in . . . kept looking . . . nothing found . . . checked the bank statement online and everything was fine, there were no odd charges . . . the wallet had to be somewhere in the van. That was mildly reassuring.

We quit obsessing and decided to deal with the tire first. We found the bike repair shop in Hood River and they were able to fix George’s tire right away. While he waited for the tire I continued to tear apart the van looking for my wallet. Low and behold it was in a cubbyhole where we store various pots and pans.  It was stuffed inside the upside down colander, nice and safe!  I always did like the saying “one of the nice things about growing older is you can hide your own Easter eggs”.

Much relieved, wallet found, bike tire repaired we made our way to the Senator Mark O. Hatfield Trailhead for a beautiful 10-mile bike ride along the Columbia River. From the western end the trail begins with a steep uphill, in fact, with many more ups than I remembered but then the rewards are the nice long downhill’s. As we came out of the Mosier tunnels there were rocks on either side of the trail and the unmistakable urgent warning of a rattlesnake in the rocks.   We encountered two more on the ride down I DO NOT LIKE SNAKES, especially those with rattles!

Near Mosier there is a great lookout over the river where we stopped for a little nourishment and a chance to thoroughly soak in the spectacular view. A great ride!

Columbia River Bike trail near Hood River

Columbia River Bike trail near Hood River

Columbia River lookout from bike trail

Columbia River lookout from bike trail

Private island in the river

A privately owned island in the river


Continuing east

We were in no rush this morning as our drive to the Lewis and Clark Trail State Park is only 1-½ hours away so we did laundry, had a leisurely breakfast and took one last ride on the Richland Riverfront Bike Trail.

The music festival in the park continues today but with a much smaller crowd this morning. I suspect folks are still at church, this is a very conservative area and we have seen a lot of references to “Christian” activities and, sadly, to Trump.

There was a new addition to the festivities this morning, the American Pride; a paddle wheeler out of Portland tied up at the dock. The boat cruises the Columbia and Snake Rivers from Portland to Clarkston stopping at riverside ports each night.  We stop for a couple of photos and continue down the trail; it is a much easier riding today with the smaller crowds. Yesterday’s ride was a challenge with kids running across the path, dogs and pedestrians who don’t know right from left and the worst of all were the Pokémon devotees walking with their faces firmly fixed to their phones, oblivious to the world around them. These were kids and adults, they never look up, and create a real hazard to the bike rider. We clear the park and have a nice 11-mile ride, retracing our route of yesterday.

American Pride

American Pride

At our turnaround point on the trail there was a reminder that we are in Hanford territory. There was an environmental monitoring station that collects and analyzes air samples for levels of radiation. The Hanford Nuclear site is just about 7 miles up river.

This river path is a real treasure for the city, beautifully crafted and maintained with benches and/or swings set along the entire length. With the exception of a couple of restaurants and hotels the riverfront has been left open to the public. We were pleasantly surprised by this area of Richland.

Richland Bike Path

Richland Bike Path

Time to move east towards Walla Walla.

Clouds over wheat fields

Clouds over wheat fields

We spent the night in a scruffy state park about 20 miles from Walla Walla, the only place we could find a spot, probably the least attractive park I’ve seen in Washington but for one night it was just fine; beggars can’t be choosers and it is Labor Day weekend so we feel lucky to find anything.


Richland WA

We wake up late and miss breakfast so instead opt to take our time, venture down the riverfront path to Anthony’s for an early lunch at 11 a.m. We are reluctant to leave as this is a really peaceful spot but we check out and decide to have “brunch” and then look for a room for the night, our current hotel has no vacancy tonight.

The riverfront path we learn is a 23-mile RT paved trail along the river and we are anxious to give it a try after we find a room.   The first motel that has a vacancy but is right next to the highway, very noisy and not so nice; we move on down the road and find a hotel with everything we want and more, free wifi, free breakfast, secure indoor bicycle storage and access to the bike path. FYI it is the Hampton Inn on Bradley Blvd in Richland WA.

After checking into the room we begin to ride the bike trail only to find that we are right next to one of the main parks in Richland and the Labor Day Tumbleweed Festival is in full swing. It is a folk festival of sorts with three stages of live music, an art fair and food vendors. It is all very home spun, and in a way quite sweet. The music ranges from good to not so good but no matter each venue has supporters. We listen to a few tunes and then ride down the trail.  It is a really beautiful trail along the shores the Columbia River. All along the route there are either benches or swings and a number of park areas with swimming beaches and/or boat ramps. This waterfront is all about public access and I love that. Across from the park and bike path is an assortment of modest to not so modest homes but homes that have been there for many years, speaking to the stability of this community.

Tumbleweed Festival

Tumbleweed Festival

One of the things that I found so delightful, the parks were filled with families enjoying the long weekend, kids swimming, lots of bikers, folks listening to the music or just wandering through the parks and enjoying the music, food and festivities.

We did manage to ride 11 miles of the trail before turning back,  there was a detour onto city streets during trail maintenance and at the other end of the trail it paralleled the freeway, not pleasant riding so we called it a day.

Richland Bike Path

Richland Bike Path

We went back to the room, and looked for a place for dinner. I had purchased some handmade soaps at one of the craft booths and one soap contained Atomic beer, we learned it was a local craft beer so researching dining option we saw the Atomic brewery not too far away . . . easy choice.

We walked the few blocks to the brewery, sat outside and enjoyed a good dinner, really good porter and for me, a glass of sauvignon Blanc. I ordered an appetizer – bratwurst bites and George had a chicken satay appy. Both were good and just the right amount of food; remember . . . we had a big “brunch”. I enjoyed the establishment very much except for the loud lady at the table next to us who seemed to think that everyone on the patio was interested in hearing about her “glory days”.  We were not, nor, so it appeared, was her date or the other couple who happened to have the misfortune to join them for dinner.

The family owned restaurant has a long history in Richland and the story is told on the menu cover.

Atomic Brewery

Atomic Brewery

Walking back to the hotel through the park the clouds were beginning to show shades of pink across the sky.  People were still out enjoying the evening in the park, there was still music and activity on the river, a beautiful evening.



Hell’s Canyon

Neither of us has ever been to Hell’s Canyon and since we are close it seemed like a good time to take a quick look before we head into the Palouse.

As it happens, we met a couple in Central America who live in Clarkston WA, just across the Snake River from where we intend to camp, and we thoroughly enjoyed their company while south of the border so I contacted them before leaving home to see if we could get together for a drink or dinner. Our timing was good, they were in town, available and graciously invited us to dinner at their house even though they were busy getting ready to leave on an extended family trip to Africa in a few days.

It was such a fun evening, lots of reminiscing, lots of laughing, good wine and a fantastic meal.  It’s too bad they live on the other side of the state but we are hoping that they will stop by this summer en route to Mt. Rainier.

We camped at Hell’s Gate State Park in Lewiston Idaho, literally right across the river from Patty and Tom’s house. It is a nice park that runs along the river and connects with a nice 9-mile bike trail that runs back towards Lewiston. It felt good to get out of the van and pedal a bit more although my derriere needs more conditioning before I can sit for a long ride on a bicycle seat; I was a tad sore after the ride.

Hell's Gate State Park ID

Hell’s Gate State Park ID

Bike Trail

Bike Trail


In camp we listened to the roar of the jet boats heading up into the canyon for the day and then their return in the late afternoon and early evening. We had decided to pass on the boat trip this visit but will likely do it if we come back; I am sure it is worth the money and the time at least once. I was ambivalent about it this time and have ridden up the Rogue River in years passed; the idea of sitting in a boat all day just didn’t appeal to me this time.



On our bike ride we stopped at the Visitor Center near the campground and noticed a large nest and two occupants so we returned with the tripod to see who was home.  There wasn’t much in and out activity so we think the eggs have not yet hatched but both parents were very attentive.

Ohme Gardens

It was early in the day when we arrived and rather than go directly to the campsite we detoured to the Ohme Gardens. We’ve seen the sign to the gardens for years as we passed through Wenatchee heading north to Lake Chelan or the Methow Valley but have never stopped and I was always curious to find out what Ohme Gardens was all about, today is the day.

On a high bluff over the Columbia River Herman Ohme and his bride Ruth purchased forty acres of land for an orchard in the 1920’s.  The tract included a craggy, dry, desolate, rock-strewn bluff with a breathtaking view of the snow-capped Cascade Mountains and the Columbia River valley. The Ohmes dreamed of alpine meadows, shimmering pools and shady evergreen pathways. They set their minds on achieving that dream and thus began a 42-year labor of love.


Stone paths, all placed by hand, lead through the gardens, around boulders, up and down hillsides carpeted with flowers to quiet sylvan pools amid tall fir trees transplanted with care by the Ohmes.  It is beautiful, peaceful place to spend the afternoon, we will be back.




After that lovely diversion we checked into the campground and waited until the coolness of evening to take our ride along the 10-mile long Apple Capital Recreation Loop Trail.  From the campground the trail runs along the Columbia River, crossing the Wenatchee River where it joins the Columbia and on the west side passing through four riverfront parks while the east side is wilder, running along the bluffs, through the Porter’s Pond Nature Area, crossing ravines on tight hairpin turns and short 6% grades.

Neither one of us had much energy so we stuck to the west side this time, it was just too hot to ride but for more on the trail and photos from our last visit check out our April 13, 2014 entry on the Apple Capital Loop Trail.

Gardens along trail

Gardens along trail

Skateboarding monkey on the bike trail.

Skateboarding monkey on the bike trail.


Trail of the Coeur d’Alene’s

I have been so eager to travel since my surgery and today we are back on the road, heading to Idaho for a few days of fu in the sun and my first bike ride since hip replacement.   George’s cousin and wife generously offered to share their condo on the shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene with us so Idaho here we come! It is a long drive through the monotonous landscape of eastern Washington, mostly brown this time of year and ended up taking us about 7 hours as we stop every couple of hours to walk around a bit and stretch.

Dust Devil Eastern Washington

Dust Devil Eastern Washington

Approaching Spokane we again begin to see trees, a pleasant change from the miles and miles of barren fields.  Pine trees line the highway bring a refreshing green color back into the landscape.   It doesn’t take long once we cross the border before the lake comes into view and we know we are almost there. Happy to finally be out of the car our friends meet us and help haul our gear up to the condo. We take a walk around to stretch our legs  and then settle in – good friends, a glass of wine, a great dinner and gorgeous sunset, all is right with the world.


Soft evening light

The condo is lovely and the setting perfect with views to the lake, a nice covered porch and located about half way between the Harrison trailhead and Coeur d’Alene.

Sunset over Lake Coeur d'Alene

Sunset over Lake Coeur d’Alene

Next morning rain with the promise of clearing later but no so; it rained all day but we did manage a short walk in the afternoon. Gray skies gone, rain gone,  sunshine, cool temperatures and blue skies with a few puffy white clouds,  in other words a picture perfect day.  After breakfast we drove to the Harrison trailhead of the beautiful Trail of the Coeur d’Alene’s bike trail for our ride. The paved trail begins in the shadows passing lakes, fields, marshes and following the Coeur d’Alene River; it is a railroad grade, virtually flat and an easy ride, running more than 70 miles through Idaho.  We peddled a 21 mile segment today, I turned at 19 miles and probably should have retreated sooner but it was such a beautiful day and such a beautiful ride.  It was a painful ride back into Harrison but I made it and got some great shots of the river.

P1200791 We had rewarded ourselves with a late lunch at One Shot Charlie’s, good food!


George & Smitty