The weather was absolutely perfect when we took off early Friday morning. Our intention was to take our time traveling down there, making a detour over to Mount St Helens along the way. Texting with Anita after we left, however, I found out that Joe had taken a 1/2 day and that they were expecting us by early afternoon. We took a family vote and decided to skip Mount St Helens this time and just take a camping trip there another time.
Friday afternoon and evening were spent hanging out together grilling, playing kickball, and sitting by the campfire telling stories. It never takes long for the stories to devolve to bathroom/poop tales, but we never claimed to be the classiest bunch.
Saturday morning we packed a picnic lunch and drove to Multnomah Falls. I've wanted to go there ever since I first heard about them some time ago. The drive there was lovely. Perfect weather and views of the great mountains (St Helens and Hood) made it delightful. Having spent five years in rural Dodgeville WI, and now living on a relatively small, quiet island, I have gotten pretty soft when it comes to traffic and the congestion of being in/near a larger city. I felt like I could breathe again when we left Portland behind and the Columbia River valley opened up in front of us. It is absolutely breathtaking and I couldn't take it all in fast enough.
Since the weather was so perfect and it was a Saturday and the falls are easily accessible and awe-inspiring, it was kind of crowded when we arrived. The parking lot was full, so we had to drive on a little further and park beside the road. This wasn't a big deal, except that in order to get back to the falls, we had to cross a bridge. Which wasn't a big deal, except for the signs prohibiting foot traffic across it. We would have done it anyway if we didn't have four adults and 10 kids to get across. Instead, we decided to climb down and walk under the bridge, next to the railroad tracks. This worked out fine, though it took us a little longer to get there.
I was really surprised how close the falls were to the road. Just driving by you can get a pretty good view of them. At the base of the falls there is a café and restrooms and gift shop, also quite unexpected. We had already determined that we would hike to the top of the falls, a one mile hike one way. A one mile hike is pretty easy, except when it is up a cliff. The trail was great, many people we encountered pushed baby strollers (!) up it, but it was definitely uphill. I believe the sign said there were 11 switchbacks. From time to time we would stop to rest and I would take those opportunities to drink in the view of the Columbia River gorge dropping away from us as we climbed ever upward.
The kids were awesome hikers. Of course, most of our kids are Big Kids now, but even the littler ones did great.
The trek back down the hill was much easier, aside from littlest Daines tripping, scraping up elbows and knees, and almost bouncing off the trail and down the side of the mountain.
The drive back to Beaverton was pretty quiet, as everyone was tuckered out from the adventure. It also made for a quiet evening of playing games and watching funny video clips online.
As always, each time we see the Daines it just leaves me excited for our next get together.