Tuesday, July 19, 2011


It looked like an easy drive from Astoria to Troutdale, our destination-du-jour, just east of the city of Portland. Alas, it turned out to be one of the most frustrating drives of the journey. Partly my fault - I chose the "quicker" route cutting straight through the hills instead of the meandering road following the Columbia River. This decision got us off on the wrong foot by routing us south through Seaside, and imparting upon us our first delay from stop'n'go traffic through this busy little town. Once on highway 26 we were out of traffic but into the hills. I've certainly driven through worse, but what made this frustrating was that it was unnecessary. In retrospect I would rather have wound along a twisting riverside road than subject the truck and transmission to the hills. Oh well. But the real treat was the re-freaking-diculous traffic jam in Portland. We timed the trip to arrive well before standard city afternoon rush hour, getting there at around 3:00. Nope. In Portland route 26 eastbound is apparently always a transit nightmare. We proceeded at a walking pace, while I provided commentary in the form of an increasingly colorful stream of obscenities, taking about an hour to cover nine miles. ANYWAY...we finally escaped the grip of the traffic and made it to Troutdale only to find our GPS conflicting with signage. We opted to follow the signage, but missed a turn and ended up taking an unscheduled tour of the suburbs under tow before finally pulling into the campground. A couple of stiff cocktails were required to unwind from the day.

Nice enough place, the Sandy Riverfront RV Park: well manicured, quiet and reasonably priced. The level pull-through site was a blessing at the end of a miserable drive. The Sandy river flows along the campground, and the cute little Main Street section of Troutdale was just a short stroll away.

We had a real mixed bag of weather while in Troutdale. The forecast was of no use as the bands of rain were rolling through interspersed with sunny interludes. We took a ride out along the Columbia River Gorge to Hood River, where people come from all over the world for windsurfing and kiteboarding. The spectacle of kites and sails was a sight to behold:

We spent quite a while watching the kite boarders getting set up, launching, skidding over the water, jumping, and landing. It was nice to see such a diverse group of people partaking in the sport: although all were fit folks, and many were ripped twenty-somethings, there were also many middle aged people of both genders, not all of whom were sporting sculpted abs, if you know what I mean. So, it was fun seeing all of these Charlie Browners freeriding, stomping their pops, enjoying a stiff enough breeze to keep them from tea-bagging...

Speaking of tea...and of tea roses, we went into Portland to Washington park, where we enjoyed the International Rose Test Garden:

And also the excellent Japanese Garden:

I had also read about a mountain bike trail system that was in range: the Sandy Ridge Trail system. I drove over one morning and subjected myself to the 3.5 mile climb up a paved road in order to enjoy my new favorite trail, the Hide and Seek trail:

What made this trail so good was its flow, designed specifically for mountain biking, taking full advantage of terrain to create a 3.5 mile route that can be ridden without pedaling or braking (once you get to know it). Even on my first time out it was a blast, packed with rollers, tabletop jumps and banked turns. The magazine article I'd found this in described it well as "pumpy and jumpy". I'll go back to this one before I leave this area.

Mount Hood was visible from the trail, through a break in trees:

I'll remain in the Portland area for the next week while Nancy is back home tending to her business. Hopefully I can finally get through the week without having to deal with dog issue and veterinarians! If so, it will be the first time that she has been away without some kind of dogastrophy!

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