We hit the ground running. Eager to explore our new locale after our move from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest back in the early 1990’s, we settled into our brand-new house as quickly as possible.
Even though I wasn’t crazy about making a move farther away from our families back east — okay, I’ll be honest…in my mind I was kicking and screaming about going because as one friend remarked we couldn’t get any farther away from our home state without falling into the ocean — but I was determined not to show my hesitation and angst to our young children.
So, dredging up a positive attitude and plastering it on my face and in my speech, I focused on painting a picture of our new home in that altered state as an exciting adventure for our family. We bade goodbye to our friends, our neighbors, our home, church, and comfortable way of life and set off westward on the Oregon Trail, so to speak.
Excitement commenced immediately since we journeyed via airplane to our new home. Our children, then aged 10, almost 7, and 4 had not experienced flying before, so exhilaration was high. Add to that, a fancy hotel stay for a few days, until our household goods and our family car caught up to us, was definitely out of the norm.
When the movers arrived at our new house with all our belongings, it was unseasonably hot. Not only were we surprised by that, but we were also a little miffed that folks told us we would not need central air conditioning. However, humidity proved low and evenings cooled off significantly. Eventually we did upgrade to A/C but didn’t utilize it that often.
Because a few weeks of school remained at our children’s new public school, we enrolled the two oldest and I located a wonderful preschool for our youngest to attend in the fall.
Our wise principal at our former Midwest school (where I had served as PTA President) recommended it would be easier for our girls to be the ‘new kids’ during the school year than at the beginning of the year when all the students in a classroom were new to the teacher.
He was right! Our girls settled in nicely with their new surroundings, teachers, and classmates and were welcomed with enthusiasm. Each morning, Papa headed out to work, the girls rode the bus to our neighborhood school, and our youngest “helped” me put our home in order.
But every weekend, we jaunted off to discover more about our new residence in this state so diverse from the one we had just left. Our first excursion was along the Columbia River, the largest river in the Pacific Northwest.
Beautiful scenery can be viewed along this waterway that serves as a border between Oregon and Washington. Eventually, the Columbia, which originates in British Columbia, Canada, winds its way westward through the Cascade Mountain range and empties into the Pacific Ocean.
Driving east along this massive river, we got a taste of the Columbia River Gorge, a 4,000-foot-deep gorge, the largest national scenic area in the United States. The western part of the gorge is home to three dormant volcanoes, including Oregon’s highest point, Mount Hood, old growth forests, and waterfalls galore – over 40 of them.
We stopped at scenic spots along the Historic Columbia River Highway on the Oregon side of the river, then crossed it and came back home along the Washington side after visiting Bonneville Dam.
The famous and often photographed Multnomah Falls was our first stop. This amazing sight is 620 feet tall, split into two falls basically, and is the tallest waterfall in Oregon.
A paved path takes visitors to a footbridge where one can get a better view of the upper part of the falls. There are also trails to the top of Multnomah as well for more serious hikers.
Multnomah Falls is an extremely popular tourist attraction and busy with visitors year-round. After that, we opted for a quieter spot – Horsetail Falls – where there were a lot less people and our children could climb and scramble among the rocks.
In the years to come, we would explore the Columbia River Gorge several times, including the vastly different terrain and climate of the eastern part, a high desert.
We experienced a great kick-start to our adventure quest in the Pacific Northwest. Yet so much more waited on the horizon for us.
“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.” ~ William Feather