Portland via the Washington Side
This last Portland trip, we came back on the Washington side, crossing the river at Bridge of the Gods and taking Highway 14, otherwise known as the Lewis and Clark Highway. This time, we were anxious to get home, and had made a later start than intended, so we made a basic beeline home, except for the Maryhill Museum. (just about exactly one hour--61 miles from Cascade Locks) We’d been before, but my how it had changed, and improved.
Maryhill was once to be a mansion of Sam Hill’s (of the expression, “Where in the Sam Hill are you?”) It is now four floors of exhibits, from the main attraction, perhaps, Queen Marie of Romania’s Royal Regalia, to the Muehleck collection of unique and diverse chess sets in every style and material (a visual feast.) There is fascinating information on the founder, Samuel Hill (friend to aforementioned queen) and early pioneer in improving and paving roads. It is easy to see how the expression came to be--this guy really got around! There is a small fee for the museum. There is a gift shop and a lovely little cafe. The Maryhill grounds house a number of interesting pieces of sculpture, but the view is a work of art in itself. This may be the best view of the gorge and river--from the terrace on the lower level of the museum. The grounds and view are, of course, free!
Just 3 miles further on your route east on hwy 14, there is a miniature Stonehenge that Sam Hill built as a memorial to WWII soldiers. It is interesting to see, especially in lieu of a flight to England, and according to the website, just 3 degrees off from the original. This difference renders it an inappropriate astronomical calendar, but a nice little side trip on your way!
Next time, we should plan more time for the route. There is so much on this highway to explore. There is a Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum. We’ve not been, but will have to include this in our itinerary next time, along with one or more of the wineries, and/or at least one brew pub, along the route.
You will pass through a of handful of tunnels as you make your way along the Columbia River Gorge and the Railroad. There are several resorts that look great. I started to name a few here, but there are too many--and attractions too. Instead, I will just let you see for yourself at the visitor site, Columbia River Gorge Visitors Association. Their homepage has links to some wineries (under the dining tab.) At least one mentions a food cart, and another live music on weekends.
There are a few opportunities to cross over to the Oregon side, each bridge a photo opp. with views, if not of the stately and elegant Mount Hood, then at least of the colorful kite surfs, sail boards, and boats. The conditions are apparently ideal for this, judging by the crowded waters, which, if you’re listening bikers, means likely windy conditions for your ride as well. This is true, to some extent, on both sides of the Columbia. This is the beauty of the Boise to Portland route--either side of the Columbia River is an individual treat, but that will be another article.
We cross at, what else but the Sam Hill Memorial Highway (97), and make our way to 84 home. Our itinerary from here to Boise generally includes Pendleton, Oregon (yes, of Pendleton Wool.) This may be a stop for the night, but for sure means a stop at Hamleys Steak House. And Saloon. The building alone is something to see, but go ahead and enjoy the cranberry spinach salad, the cowboy burger, and the huckleberry creme brulee. Snoop around, by all means, ask to see the cellar, and don’t miss the bathroom! (How many places can you say that about?)
Sometime soon, we will have to make time for the Pendleton Blanket Mill tour and the Pendleton Underground Tours.. (Every day but Tuesday and Sunday, their website says.) We highly recommend the breakfast sandwich at The Pendleton Coffee Bean and Bistro. There is also the world-famous Pendleton Roundup, if you’re into that kind of thing. Really, it does look fun, if crowded. This town is proud, and rightly so!
Back on the bike, there is the enjoyable ride through the Blue Mountains on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway (84 or 30). If the name Deadman Pass didn’t grab you, maybe the 6 percent grade and elevation of 3,631 feet will. A motorcyclist’s dream, it is a two lane road with no oncoming traffic. Truly scenic and not a time to rest on your laurels!
Depending on how hot, and/or weary we are, we may stop in LeGrand at Bella Main Street Market, where we generally give in to temptation and share the brown butter rice crispy treats or a salted caramel brownie.
If you weren’t ready to stop just yet, or need a second stop, there is the Earth & Vine Wine Bar (and Art Gallery; why not have something fun and regional to look at while you enjoy a benedict or other offering?) in Baker City.
Certainly, the reward for not getting caught in a storm (always beautiful, dramatic skies coming into the Treasure Valley,) is a stop at Jolts & Juice in Downtown Ontario, for a coffee, a Hubcap Panini (truly), or one of their bakery items (think Peanut Butter cookies!) The coffee shop, one of three owned by fellow motorcyclists, is a virtual museum of some identifiable trinkets and artifacts, and some not so much. This is another establishment with its own unique spin on the loo, the wash closet, the very necessary room. Do check it out!
The rest of the stretch home, you are on your own to enjoy the view of our very own Gem State. Be sure to take note of the mint growing on your right. You are home again! Until next time...
On the Natchez Trace