The pedestrian bridge at Multnomah Falls.

Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011
COLUMBIA GORGE, OR — This is one of those places I wish I could spend a whole week camping, hiking, exploring the sights.

But we didn’t have that kind of time. We went early in the morning and took in the Columbia Gorge from the interstate at the bottom (the place is only about 20 minutes from Portland). There was light barge traffic and a few sailboats on the river. It was a breathtaking view.

Around noon, we met up with our local guides at the Vista House on Crown Point. The building itself is an impressive piece of architecture (looking back, I’m disappointed I didn’t get any photos of it). The polished marble and brass structure has a deck with a great 360-degree view from the gorge’s top. There’s even a snack bar, museum and gift shop tucked away in the basement.

From there, my brother and his family led us through the scenic cliff-side roads that wound past the minor falls before reaching the centerpiece of the gorge that is Multnomah Falls. A word to the wise, come early to get a good parking spot. There is also overflow parking from the interstate. We hiked up part of the way to the top with the kids and the cousins.

We ended the day at a Portland playground, letting the kids run loose.

For more photos, go to our gallery.