Day 20 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.
After leaving the Oregon coast the previous afternoon; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP had driven out of the rain, and made it as far as a motel on the E side of Portland near I-84 and some busy train tracks. Trains rumbled by in the night, but the cheap motel was a real treat after many nights spent in Lupe’s tiny house or car camping in Lanis’ Honda Element.
In the morning; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP relaxed in the motel room in no real hurry to hit the road. Lupe’s time on the West Coast was over, and she was headed home. Lanis needed to get back to Indiana by September 1st, so Lupe was destined to spend much of the rest of her 2012 Dingo Vacation on the road. Even so, there would still be time for at least a couple of adventures on the way.
It was still a cool morning, with blue sky and puffy white clouds, when Lupe, Lanis and SPHP finally got started heading E on I-84. Lupe didn’t get very far before reaching Multnomah Falls, a beautiful, tall, thin waterfall spilling over the bluffs on the S side of the lush, green Columbia River Gorge.
Located right along I-84 in the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls is very accessible and a popular tourist stop. The Multnomah Falls Lodge near the base of the falls offers lodging, a restaurant, and gift shop. There were lots of people and a few other dogs around, when Lupe arrived to see the falls.
Multnomah Falls is actually two waterfalls. The lower one is about 70 feet tall, but the upper falls, which is the main attraction, drops 540 feet. A short paved trail goes up to several viewpoints, including Benson bridge, near the base of the upper falls.
After crossing Benson bridge, visitors may stop at another viewpoint very close to the base of the falls, or continue on a 1.1 mile paved trail all the way up to the top of Multnomah Falls. Naturally, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP took the trail. There were plenty of people on the trail, but it wasn’t nearly so crowded as down below.
The trail went up a series of long switchbacks on a steep, densely forested slope. Now and then there were glimpses of the gorgeous Columbia River Gorge between the trees. The trail climbed almost all the way. It eventually went over a little ridge before dropping down to follow Multnomah Creek to the brink of the falls.
There was a nice viewing platform along Multnomah Creek next to the brink of upper Multnomah Falls. The view down the Columbia River Gorge to the W was fantastic. Looking over the edge, Lupe could see Multnomah Falls plummet over 500 feet down to the pool at the base of the falls.
Multnomah Falls was certainly worth seeing, but it was time for Lupe to start making tracks. It was a long way home. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP enjoyed the easy stroll back down to the base of Multnomah Falls, and then headed for the Element. Soon Lupe was traveling E on I-84 again.
By the time Lupe reached The Dalles, the lush, green Columbia River gorge was behind her. The huge, blue Columbia River was still near I-84, but the surrounding green forests had given way to much drier looking country. The clouds and pleasant cool weather were gone, too. Temperatures soared beneath a cloudless sky.
It was already lunch time. E of The Dalles, Lanis pulled off I-84 to stop by at a McDonald’s. An old man was sheltering a little brown dog at the busy off ramp. He held up a sign saying “Just Hungry”. There was too much traffic to stop, but at the McDonald’s, Lanis and SPHP bought a couple of extra cheeseburgers and a chocolate sundae. While Lanis was getting the burgers, SPHP searched around the Element to see what else could be scrounged up for the old man and his little doggie.
There really wasn’t too much to scrounge. This late in Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation, most of the supplies were already used up. For the old man, there was just some trail mix, an orange, almonds, and $9.00 in cash. For his little brown doggie, SPHP found some Gravy Train, Canine Carry-Outs, a few other dog treats and a big rawhide stick.
On the way back to I-84, Lanis pulled the Element over at the side of the on ramp. SPHP jumped out and ran across the busy intersection to the off ramp to deliver the cheeseburgers, chocolate sundae, and other meager assistance to the old man. He was quite grateful. He said he shared the same birthday with his little brown doggie, named Otis. Otis was three years old. The old man thanked SPHP, and said he and Otis would be OK. That was about all SPHP learned about their situation, before running back to Lupe and Lanis waiting in the Element.
The farther E Lupe went, the hotter and drier it got. I-84 eventually left the Columbia River and very gradually curved SE. Lupe went over the Blue Mountains. Looking at the maps late in the afternoon, SPHP thought it might be fun for Lupe to stay at the Farewell Bend State Recreation Area on the Snake River right across from Idaho. Lanis turned off I-84 to drive through the campground.
The surrounding area looked like desert, but the campground featured lots of trees and reasonably green grass. There were 90 RV sites, and about 30 tent sites. All of the tent sites were far from the Snake River. However, one of the RV loops sat on a small ridge a little distance away from the Snake. These sites had the best views in the entire campground. Every single one of them was vacant, except for a park ranger site.
In fact, almost all of the 120 total sites in the campground were vacant. There were 5 sites occupied by park personnel, who currently outnumbered paying customers. SPHP asked the ranger at the empty RV loop with the pleasant view of the Snake River, if it would be possible to rent one of the RV sites just for Lupe’s tiny house and pay the tenting rate of $18, instead of the $22 RV rate.
Nope! Not possible. Lupe could put up her tiny house at one of the RV sites, but despite the fact that it was late afternoon and the place was virtually deserted, and Lupe wouldn’t be using any of the RV amenities (dump station, electricity, etc.), SPHP would have to pay the full $22 for the site or go to the tenting area. Oh, and by the way, there were all these rules for dogs in the park… blah, blah, blah.
The ranger was pleasant enough about it, but like so many in the Land of the Free these days, she was all about countless bureaucratic rules, regardless of the situation. SPHP declined. The ranger had a golf cart to drive around in enforcing the blizzard of rules. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP would be her only targets to micro-manage in the entire loop. No way! Lupe and SPHP would rather car camp, even if it meant disappointing Lanis.
Instead of taking a site; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went down for a brief exploration along the Snake River. The edge of the river proved to be rather mucky and marshy. The river was low this time of year. On the mud, and among the reeds, flies swarmed around the rotten decaying carcasses of large dead carp. Lupe was interested. It really was time to get out of there! Absolutely no more Dead Fish Dingo stunts permitted! That was one rule both Lanis and SPHP were in full and complete agreement with!