My teen daughter, Skye, and I are on a road trip to the coast of Oregon. My husband joined us mid-way through the trip to enjoy a bit of the mountains and coast with us. We’ve spent close to a week in the Hood River Valley, south of Hood River, Oregon, at a vacation rental with a front-and-center view of Mt. Hood, one of Oregon’s active (but dormant) volcanoes.
When my husband Dave and I first visited this part of Oregon a couple of years ago in the fall, we were enchanted by the rolling green hills filled with orchards and fruit farms. Back then, we barely were able to catch a glimpse of the dramatic volcano that presides over the valley due to low clouds and near constant drizzle. We enjoyed the infamous Fruit Loop and ate the sweetest and juiciest pears and apples we’d had in a while, sometimes straight off the tree. We walked through flower fields that were already starting to wither at the end of their season. We wondered what it would be like to come to this valley in mid-summer, when berries and cherries were in season and the views of Mt. Hood were easier to come by.
Since we arrive July 3, and for the next 10 days, the forecast is pure sunshine and zero chance of rain, so views of Mt. Hood have been constant.
Yesterday we spent the day at Lost Lake, where we rented a rowboat and flittered around the lake all afternoon, fishing and relaxing. The trout were reticent about biting, but Dave did manage to catch one. I got a few nibbles on my bait, but that’s about it. Later, after we returned the boat, we fished some more on the shore, where the water was brilliantly clear and surprisingly not too cold for wading. I spotted what looked like a small fish but turned out to have arms and legs. A salamander! There were quite a few of them gliding through the water and they were easy to spot against the lighter colored gravel below. Skye was excited about catching one (she’s a kid at heart, even now), so we devised a plan using a ziploc bag.
Later, I Googled it and found out that we caught a Columbia Torrent salamander, a rather small-ish variety that is aquatic and prefers cold, clear lakes and streams (bingo)!
We also watched as ospreys hunted for fish above the lake, diving and soaring, diving and soaring, until one succeeded in catching a trout right in front of us. It was just the kind of day that’s perfect for the whole family – lots of wildlife to look at for the kids at heart, and comforting peace and fresh air for the old folks.