Fish, Fresh Fish!

Returning from our canyon waterfall excursion, we decided to take the scenic route (Historic Columbia Gorge Highway: 30) as far as we could, and diverge from I-84 whenever an alternate route promised something more interesting than even more scenic views. This route led us initially to the Bridge of the Gods, and quick rethinking upon discovering that it was a toll bridge. This put us smack in the middle of Cascade Locks. Once upon a time, there were, in fact, locks there. Now there’s a historical park.

The point is, the first parking lot in Cascade Locks lured me in with large hand-painted signs advertising “Fresh Fish”. Having promised to cook dinner that night (as a thank-you to Jen for hosting us), this seemed like the perfect opportunity. The men selling the fish waved us up enthusiastically, and as I got out of the car wasted no time in offering a selection of smoked salmon, smoked salmon, and fresh salmon. They opened their cooler to display a shiny silver fish as long as my leg, as well as a selection of fillets, none of which weighed less than a pound. I asked when they were caught: “you can tell by the color. Caught this morning with a hook and line.” It seemed very important that I understand that these fish were caught with a hook and line. This fact was reiterated several times.

They stated their price at a tentative $9/lb and for about 1.6 lbs I paid $15 cash. This did not seem exorbitant for fresh-that-morning hook-and-line-caught salmon and it was, ultimately, very delicious. I had to vehemently ignore the eager fishermen-cum-salesmen, however, when they started showing me jars of smoked salmon. They seemed to be pretty into their smoking talents but I am hardly the connoisseur for that judgment.

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Welcome to the Jungle

The first stop on Part Two of Epic Journey was Hood River, OR and the Columbia Gorge. What to do in this renowned rainforest of the Pacific Northwest? Thanks to the Curious Gorge guidebook and our boundless adventurousness, we did one of the cooler things there is to do in the area with a limited time-frame (that is, with a post-getting-out-of-bed-at-noon-hangover-recovery afternoon with thunderstorms looming on the horizon).

The book pointed us towards a gorge (that shall remain nameless) whose creek bed one could follow through the slot canyon about half a mile to a waterfall. Frankly, warmer weather may have been somewhat more comfortable. The expedition required walking through waist-deep, fresh-off-the-cliff water (read: COLD) and clambering over a precarious log-jam that extended from canyon wall to canyon wall. It was worth the trek, however, mostly for the fact that the several other cars we encounter in the parking lot were filled with middle-aged camera-toting waterfall-hunting clothing-wearing tourists in the classic sense, and we were just cool enough to be the ones in bathing suits ignoring the Logjam Danger signs. Take that, scenic area patrons. (And no, I didn’t bring my camera, since I didn’t want it to drown.)

A House in the Woods

This house is a flood of memory.

It smells like it always has: of pine needles and childhood. Everything is like I left it with games in the cupboard and vintage magazines on the top shelf of the bedroom closet. It is strange to be here alone, without snow clothes and sleds. The house seems smaller than it used to but that will be of course the gargantuanism of memory. This house is a constant, I have known it forever.

It all runs together. Sledding, air hockey, cross-country skiing (or not), the pond down the road, the three sisters, watching Field of Dreams, going through all of the 1970s seventeens, and always the smell of pine. I can’t tell a cohesive story about this place but that is its nature. Just a place to exist, not to incite change or dynamism. Somewhere to feel inherently connected, a responsibility to preserve rather than to create. Its perpetual familiarity is its importance, a reliable constant through inevitable change.

Avalanche Zone

To be fair, so far Southern Oregon has had the best weather we’ve seen. But knowing that this is Oregon and it does have a propensity to rain here, we were prepared for and even expecting some nominal amount of precipitation. We are such n00bs; who would have thought that ‘roads closed for snow’ in mid-May still meant actively snowing with banks topping 10 feet abutting the roadside? I was unfortunately naïve enough to make sure my snow boots were buried completely inaccessibly last time we re-packed the car (somewhere in New Mexico), not expecting to need them. This is yet more (unnecessary) proof that I am terrible at packing.

On the bright side, I learned some important facts. Crater Lake gets an average of over 40 feet of snow per year. When it’s foggy and snowing, you can’t really see the lake. I am far better at snowball-throwing than Dan is. (This is, by far, the most important new piece of knowledge.)

It has also been decided that any future trip to Crater Lake must take place either in the summer or, if during inclement (read: snowy) weather, fully equipped with recreational snow gear (i.e. snowshoes and cross country skis and avalanche gear). It should further be acknowledged that we are really terrible at finding good weather. Upon retrospection, the barista at the coffee shop in Santa Fe had the right idea; go to Arizona, pretend to be foreign, and get deported to somewhere nice and sunny, like the Caribbean.