Saturday, September 04, 2010

Room with a View

When someone comes in from out of town, particularly if they haven't been out for a long time, it's good to take in some sights. My thoughts tend to run to the beach, Mt. Hood, Timberline, the Gorge…places that will put beautiful pictures in someone's mind, places that will give them not only a sense of how physically incredible our corner of the country is, but also the sensations of the place—the smells, sounds and tastes of the Northwest.

So when my sister-in-law came out from Vermont recently, we took her to Hopworks for some of our favorite beer. Owner Christian Ettinger came over to say hello, and when he heard we had a visitor from Vermont, he personally insisted on pouring her a full tasting tray. What a guy…and talk about making us look good!

There was also lots of food, including a requisite trip to one of our fabulous farmers' markets and a big dinner with friends in the back yard featuring some of Dave's signature smoked brisket. But when it came time for a drive, we were torn. Coast? Mountains? Fortunately, she's almost as crazy about beer as her brother, so it made sense to take a drive up through the Gorge to Hood River and Double Mountain Brewing.

Which allowed us the opportunity to take the old Columbia River Highway and stop at Vista House, a must-see for tourists but one I've avoided for just that reason. Though when we arrived, lo and behold the old viewpoint house, which had been shuttered and closed for many decades, was open and had been beautifully restored. Even the upper balcony that circumnavigates the building was open, allowing a view that is still one of the most breathtaking in all of Oregon (video, top).

After a stop at Multnomah Falls and lunch in Hood River, we headed across the river and drove down the Washington side to Stevenson, parasailors skidding across the sparkling water. Pulling over to experience the full force of the Gorge winds, we saw that a new kinetic sculpture, called Galaxy, had been installed at the city's waterfront park.

Crossing back to Oregon over the spectacular Bridge of the Gods, happy we'd decided to take another look at some old favorites and discovering there were new things to learn about them!

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