Great Outdoors Portland/Vancouver (Day 4)




I’ve always been a big fan of family businesses, not just from an economical/anti-mass market point of view, but because there’s also something just a little bit charming when grandma’s running the kitchen or mom is working the register and dad’s stocking shelves. Rusty Grape Winery just north of Vancouver even has GREAT grandma selling homemade polished stone jewelry.

After a day in the studio recording five songs for the upcoming Marianne Flemming CD, Marianne and I volunteered to play a set out at the winery on a hill with a great sunset view. Afterward on Fridays the winery hosts an outdoor movie projected on an inflatable screen. Free wine samples of everything and then most visitors will uncork a bottle and sit out under the stars and watch a free movie.

The winery has only been open since November 2006, but the wine is very popular with the locals. Pinot Gris, Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Savignon, Syrah, and a new Pinot Noir with a peppery finish, a bottle of which will hopefully survive the TSA/American Airlines gauntlet. This place is a great finish to a nice day of the great northwest outdoors.

We started with a trip to Multnomah Falls, the 540-foot plummeting plume of water (plus a second cascade of about 70 feet). I hiked up the one-mile moderate grade asphalt trail to the top of the falls for a dizzying view of the tiny people below and the Columbia River beyond.

Marianne and I had her two kids in tow, aged 4 and 7, and both of them made it all the way to the top confirming the family friendly nature of this sight.

Food stinks here though and is overpriced, so you should definitely pack a picnic or stop off at the fast food alley at the Troutdale exit.

We drove another 10 miles or so to cross the Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River into Washington on the other side and started heading back west toward Vancouver. Along the way was he mammoth Beacon Rock. Think Rock of Gibraltar and you get the picture. In fact, it is claimed to be a free standing rock or monolith and second in size only to that cork in the bottle of the Mediterranean.

There is a nice path with wooden bridges and handrails that scales the face of the rock and takes you all the way to the top for some stunning views along the way. Water at the bottom; you’ll need it. Looks great toward sunset but I wouldn’t want to be on the trail at dusk.

The ride back to Vancouver/Battleground was just under an hour. What we missed unfortunately but could have seen perhaps with an earlier start, was the Bonneville Dam where you can see Chinook salmon rushing the waters in July and mid-September.

However, a couple glasses of Pinot were a perfect end to a photogenic day.

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