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  • Writer's pictureJefferson Graham

Northwest Cascades Rock!

We recently returned from a R&R trip to the Cascades area of Washington and Oregon, also known as the Columbia Gorge, about 45 minutes east of Portland. The 2 states are saddled ever so closely, just a short 1-minute river/bridge hop from one state to the next. Our fabulous client Audrey mentioned that she’d never been to the Cascades before, and wondered what it was like.

Well here she goes! Manhattan Beach certainly never looked this green and lush.

Bonneville, Washington

Bonneville, Washington

In thinking about the Gorge–and the towns of Cascade Locks and Hood River (Oregon) and Washington’s Stevenson and Bonneville Hot Springs, it’s all about the wind and water.

There are huge bodies of water, lakes, rivers and waterfalls everywhere–Multnomah Falls is a particular favorite for hiking, snacking and climbing. (The lodge is a wonderful place to sit outside, view the falling water from your table and have a relaxing lunch. Or, just spring $4.50 for a soft-serve cone by the steps to the falls.) Other nearby falls: Horsetail, Ponytail and Bridal Veil. They are all on the same Columbia River Highway waterfall tour–although not as spectacular as Multnomah.

Here’s the view from the top of the hike.

We stayed at Bonneville Hot Springs, a Washington state resort known for the natural waters, with one giant, olympic size pool, and two hot pools. The water’s fantastic–but you might want to bring earplugs for the never-ending meditation muzak that beams from everywhere at the resort. Tip: walk outside and listen to the greatest soundtrack ever–the natural sounds of waterfalls, birds chirping and the blowing wind.

The Bonneville dam is down the road, with the small village of Stevenson about 5 miles from the resort. Here folks engage in water sports on the river–connecting kites and sails to surfboards and riding the wind.

Across the river–on the historic Bridge of the Gods, a $2 toll will bring you to Cascade Locks, Oregon, a small town also on the river, best known for summer cherries and the Portland Spirit, a historic 1900s era triple deck paddle-wheeler, which takes folks for cruises on the Columbia Gorge.

Meet our friend Jeff Caldwell, who runs the Sternwheeler. The boarding location at Marine Park has a restaurant and gift shop–and the best view in town to see the water.

Down the road, about 15 minutes away, is Hood River, a slightly larger town, where the wind is at its zenith. Here’s where the really serious wind sports (and craft beer) fanatics go. Check out all the kites and sails getting prepped in the park on this Sunday afternoon.

As you descend down the road, you will end up in Columbia Gorge Wine Country, which starts in Hood River. Per the state tourism board: “You’ll find pinot noir and chardonnay in the cool hills at the west end, while tempranillo and syrah thrive in the drier, sunnier east.”

And your trip ends up the hill, where no trip to the Cascades is complete without a visit up the road to big, `ol majestic Mt. Hood.

So, a flight to Portland (two hours direct from L.A.) and a quick car ride will bring you to a lush, green and occasionally wet wonderland that’s so worth a visit. We miss it already! Part 2 of the trip: the Oregon Coast. Look for that post soon!

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