Sunday, September 20, 2009

Land of Port: Columbia River Gorge, Part 3

Welcome to my travel blog.

It's not really a travel blog, but that seems to be most of what I blog about these days! OH WELL. :)

What I thought might be one of the less exciting stops along the Historic Columbia River Highway ended up being one of the best and coolest. After waterfall country, we got to the Bonneville Dam.

Pretty impressive looking...

And Erich, the electrical engineer, was mildly interested in how it works.

But the dam itself really wasn't that exciting. However, the fish ladder, a system to aid the fish in their regular migratory patterns, was extremely cool. Sadly, I did not get a picture of the exterior. I know, what was I thinking?

I don't want to leave you hanging, so here's a picture I've taken from Wikipedia.org:


And HERE'S what's going on inside:

video

We stared at the fish for a while inside and outside, learned about the different types of salmon that come through, had a little snack, then continued on to the fish hatchery. I had never been to a fish hatchery before, and I was shocked and amazed at how fun and interesting it was! First we saw a video of how the actual process works, but there was nothing actually going on this time of year, so we continued to the different fish ponds.

This is Herman the Sturgeon. I think. I suspect there was also a back-up Herman in this pond who was almost as huge. Herman is about ten feet long! Big fish amaze me in a way that makes me feel like a small child.


Next we came upon the rainbow trout pond, which the signs made pretty clear were there just for fun since they don't actually hatch them there. We found 25¢ for a handful of fish food to be well worth it!

video

(This is so cliché, but I hate hearing my own voice. I wish I knew how to take out the sound.)

I'm glad we didn't see any egg fertilization or sorting or anything because this stuff was WAY cooler to see: the salmon are trying to return to their birth place to spawn! I really wish I could have taken a video, but my camera batteries were dying.


Some of them would leap over a foot out of the water right into those wooden planks! That was sometimes startling but always mesmerizing.



This was a bit further back. Though some fish would take the flying leap to get up to this level, many of them were forced back because there was such a backlog of fish trying to get past the final barriers. Hilariously splashtastic!

From the dam, we went to the town of Hood River. We stocked up on some provisions at Safeway and decided we had waited long enough for dinner. Our Central Daylight Time tummies were hungry for dinner early! Hood River has a lot of wineries and breweries, and the National Geographic guide suggested Full Sail, so we went in search of it. Unfortunately, our GPS failed us here: it seemed unaware of any Full Sail brewery in Hood River. Weird. We went looking blindly and nearly gave up when there it appeared in all its glory! The pub portion of the brewery had a stunning view of the Columbia River, which nearly rivaled the gastronomic experience upon which we were about to embark!

I haven't missed beer too much during my pregnancy, for which I am very thankful. But in this instance, I really wanted to be allowed to order a pint. Though I don't get uptight about taking tastes, I won't actually have an entire drink, so I begrudgingly ordered a Diet Coke (a little caffeine, a little aspartame--well, no one's perfect). Erich ordered the pale ale, described as a "godlike nectar" on the menu, and I chuckled at this. Then I tasted this pale ale and found the description to be quite accurate. YUM.

When our food finally came, we had our second amazingly delicious and fully satisfying meal of the day. I ordered the fish and chips: Alaskan halibut, session lager-battered. The word "amazing" gets overused far too often these days, but it's so appropriate for this meal. I might also throw out the word "foodgasm." I even really liked the cole slaw, and I'm not a big cole slaw eater. Erich enjoyed his burger and his second beer, and I gladly took the keys and booked it out of Hood River to make it to Mt. Hood. We knew it would be nearly dark by the time we got there, but we couldn't get that close to the mountain and not actually see it. It was indeed nearly dark, so we didn't get out of the car or take pictures. But we've now seen Mt. Hood!

We completed the rest of the loop in the dark and got to our hotel nice and late, completely wiped out from our long and adventurous day. Yay, Portland!

P.S.: I loved the flowers at the hatchery:

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