We left the cool coast on Saturday morning and headed east along the Columbia River Gorge into increasing heat.

My sister had suggested that we take a slight detour east of Portland and visit Multnomah Falls. Because of the scorching sun, every tourist or resident who could possibly get to the falls had decided to make an excursion there. The temperature was much pleasanter than in the surrounding territory, and you could get wet if you wanted to.

The road and the falls area feel like they haven’t changed much since the 1930s. Parking was a challenge, but we managed to find a spot on our third pass.

In the stream way below the falls, on the other side of the extremely narrow highway, are some lovely areas of shallow, clear water for wading.

The falls themselves require a series of photos.

Here’s the very top:


The water drops into this:


Then this, with the viewing bridge, to which we decided not to climb because of the crowds:


Here’s the lower part of the falls, and the viewing area near the bottom:


And if you go look over the edge by the railing in the last photo, you can see the pool right at the base of the lower falls:


The extent of the upper and lower falls:


542 feet = 165 m

69 feet = 21 m

Total 611 feet = 186 m

And yes, dogs are welcome, even if they’re not very interested in non-participatory scenery:


In 1996, a boulder weighing 400 tons (363 metric tons) broke off and fell into the pool at the base of the falls, making an 80-foot (24 m) splash and injuring 20 people. A ranger at the base of the falls said the rock was the size of a bus. Yow.

Next time, we’ll visit some of the smaller falls along the same historic highway, mostly because of the crowds. Although maybe because of that rock.

Much of our route on this trip followed Lewis and Clark‘s path or the Oregon Trail. It was interesting to imagine crossing some of these landscapes by the means of travel used for those journeys, and what it might have been like to have seen these things from the perspective of people in the early or mid nineteenth century.

Then there’s the car again:


As we stopped in The Dalles, Oregon, for gas, the temperature was 110 degrees F (43 degrees C at least sounds cooler to people attuned to Fahrenheit measurements). We would have waited for a less sizzling time and place to stop, but there wasn’t going to be one. Except for a three-second microclimate area near Umatilla, Oregon, the temperature stayed over 100 degrees F (38 degrees C) until about 6:45 in the evening, when we were well into the mountains—I think they were the Blue Mountains—of eastern Oregon, when the indicator finally dropped to 99 degrees (37 degrees C).

We passed into Idaho to a whiff of smoke (more fires burning in Washington state and Oregon) and the sight of the full moon just above the horizon:


We landed in Nampa, Idaho, for the night.


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