You know, it was the first truly great American adventure–the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The entire nation watched them leave and waited for their return, a nation that was less than 30 years old.
Yesterday, we left the Lewis and Clark eastbound trail in Waitsburg, Washington, on US 12 and followed US 12 to Walla Walla. Walla Walla County has a great Lewis and Clark Trail brochure that shows both trails and their campsites. The eastbound trail at Waitsburg continues on SR 124 following the Touchet River.
Though we were following their eastbound route, Chuck and I were actually traveling backward moving west. Lewis and Clark canoed westbound on the Snake River through this area on October 12th and 13th of 1805. Clark noted in his journal that the 13th was a dark, windy, and rainy day.
Chuck and I left Walla Walla, Washington about 10 o’clock in the morning and made our first stop at the L’Ecole estate winery tasting room. We are still following US 12, though we are far from the Snake River at present. I’m sure Lewis and Clark didn’t run across any wine tastings, but what the heck. I’m sure they liked wine, too.
L’Ecole Estate owns several wineries including the Seven Hills Winery, where we planned to do a tasting last night. Today, though, tasted six different wines (yes, it was morning) and bought a bottle for our trip. The rest we shipped home, a very good Cabernet Sauvignon.
We continued west on Highway 12 until we got to where 12 turns and continues north into Washington state while Highway 730 picks up and begins driving on the south bank of the Columbia River. We took SR 730. The expedition reached the confluence of the Columbia River on October 16th.
The expedition reached the confluence of the Columbia River on October 16th and continued their westerly route.
SR 730 is a beautiful drive, though it is still smoky. The entire west seems to be burning, and we have had smoky days now for three full days. It did get a little better around Walla Walla.
The terrain changed again to a parched, almost treeless landscape. We are now driving on the Columbia Plateau.
Today, the Columbia River is the border between Washington and Oregon.
We drove westward on the south shore of the river, and here it is very very wide and looks as if there is obviously a dam somewhere. It is a vast deep flowing waterway used for commerce. In their day, though, Lewis and Clark found it to be full of rapids and cascades.
While driving westward on SR 730 we came to a turn off for Hat Rock State Park. Following the turnoff, we drove past the entrance of the state park and kept straight to dead end at a small a wayside park with good restroom facilities. This little park provided access to where the commemorative Lewis and Clark Trail runs through the park. This Trail followed the Indian path they used on their eastbound route.
We took some time to walk up the trail to a place high on a hill overlooking the Columbia River. It was a beautiful site but we realized two things. One, the trail is very wide and in their day it was probably nothing more than an Indian path. And two, the Columbia River is very wide here because of the dam and reservoir. Still, though it was worth the trip to walk in their footsteps.
Hat Rock, too, is a very interesting geological figure. It looked like a shorter and smaller Devil’s Tower sans the woods. Maybe an older Devil’s Tower, one that the elements of nature already chiseled down.
We continued on SR 730 until we got to Interstate 84. Here Interstate 84 drops down off the plains to skirt the south shoreline of the Columbia River. Within a short while, though, the views change again and become wooded and rugged, and I-84 becomes another type of scenic drive. The interstate continues to run alongside the river with awesome views. There are rest areas along the way with heritage signs telling the story of the expedition.
Our plans were to stay near Hood River, Oregon at the Columbia Gorge Inn. Built high on a bluff overlooking the Gorge, an investor built the mission style hotel in the 1920s when the first road was built through this area for tourists to see the Gorge. Inside were great photos of the hotel’s past glory days. Shirley Temple stayed here as a child, among many other celebrities of that era.
We drove down into the towno f Hood River for dinner, and it is an artsy type place with plenty of variety and a great place to walk around. I actually found a place that provided green vegetables, something I’m having trouble finding unless it is a salad made of plain lettuce.
We walked after dinner all over the manicured grounds of the hotel, which was built over a waterfall.
A trip to this hotel is special even if you do not plan to stay.