Sunday, February 01, 2009

Oregon/Portland/Columbia River

During these recession time, just two days before Obama taking oath as 44th president of USA, I landed into USA in Bellevue, Washington state near Seattle. On very first weekend break, a close friend (Samrat) planned a trip down south in Oregon state to visit waterfalls in Columbia River Gorge. It is one of the many natural beauty sites which have been declared as National Scenic area by US govt. I had no involvement in planning of this trip as I hardly researched anything this time before coming. Samrat being his enthusiastic self and shouldering responsibility of taking entourage of 16 folks including his and two other families hired one of the biggest personal passenger vehicle in US, a Ford 16 seater. It was test of his cheerfulness as he drove 200 miles without any help and simultaneously cheering up rest of the crowd. The weather turned out to not the way we expected. It turned cloudy and started snowing as soon as we crossed Columbia river into the state of Oregon. Other than its natural beauty and liberal city of Portland, Oregon is also know as state with no Sales tax on commodities. This fact was on every one's mind and even on a recreation trip, we shopped at soon to close CircuitCity chain. But before that we first went to see what we came here for, the waterfalls. The mountain slope along Columbia River highway is home to many scenic vistas and watefalls. There would have had many waterfall streams otherwise had it not been chilly winters. This was the first time I saw frozen waterfalls, white patches on otherwise green slopes. Still there was water on the bigger ones. One of them, the biggest, is known as Multnomah waterfall which is the second largest drop in height of water after famous Niagra. Even in the bone chilling weather, the waterfall felt beautiful. There was frozen water around but a huge stream of water still dropping from height. The waterfall is in two stages. There is a beautiful arch bridge built in front of the falls which when looked from a distant casts a spell. Before Multnomah, we went to one more fall called Bridal Veil for which we had to walk a little as it was hidden in forest. The drop was not much but flow was powerful. By the time we were done with these, everyone had enough of chilly weather. So, we headed back to our hotel, Holiday Inn, which we had booked for us in Gresham, adjacent area to Portland. It snowed a little overnight and our plans of going to Mt. Hood were dashed. The reason for that was that in snow, vehicles are supposed to put chains on tyres so that they don't skid. We with rented vehicle did not opt for this. So, soon plan was made to visit the Portland city and have brunch at an India restaurant called "Swagat". The restaurant as if to our convenience starts lunch buffet at 11:30 AM. As we reached there, we were one of the first customers of the day. A bunch of 16 desis getting down from a vehicle which barely fit them would have been quite a sight for the people around. Nevertheless, we had a sumptuous lunch at the buffet though it was only palatable. We were done by 1 PM and we had to start heading back, so we were left with only 2 hours. After lot of deliberations, we decided to park at riverfront of Hood river and everybody goes his way and comes back in time. I chose to stick to riverfront promenade cum park. The confluence of Hood & Columbia river is near by. Portland is also known for Mt. Hood which looms large are visible from most part of the city on clear day. This was Sunday morning and a few Portland residents were out there exercising or just bathing in the precious sunlight though it was cold enough. Portland is know as heaven for gay folks and known for its weirdness. I read that some of local businessmen even pasted stickers all over the city to help keep city weirdness!! The city though did not seem to so busy had a tramway of its own which ran on vehicular roads though I did not try to step into it. After lot of wait for others, we finally headed back to Bellevue. The journey was quick given to beautiful road and day light still remaining. All in all an enjoyable trip.

All the photos can be seen here.