From Portland’s Palate

10 03 2017

IMG_2370The cookbook From Portland’s Palate: A Collection of Recipes from the City of Roses by the Junior League of Portland, Oregon includes nearly 250 recipes that integrate local ingredients such as seafood from the Pacific Ocean, fruit from the Columbia River Gorge, and wine from the Willamette Valley. These recipes are both familiar and innovative. Each section begins with stunning artwork by Illustrator Jennifer Winship Mark along with a page of information and tips about a certain area or season. Not only is this a classic Pacific Northwest cookbook, but it’s also an entertaining read.



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Multnomah Falls in Winter

8 01 2015

IMG_8857Multnomah Falls, the most visited recreation site in the Pacific Northwest and Oregon’s most visited natural attraction, welcomes over 2 million people annually. It remains the tallest waterfall in Oregon throughout the year at 620 feet, being fed by underground springs from nearby Larch Mountain, melting snowpack from the Cascade Mountain Range, and plenty of rainfall. The majority of visitors flock to Multnomah Falls during warmer months even though it stays open all year, and each season provides its own charm, but my family also makes the trek every winter hoping to catch the falls clothed in ice. This glacial wonderland compels one to stare in awe.

Spray from the 542-foot upper and 69-foot lower falls freezes into crystal shards and frosty white sheets against jagged cliffs that flank the waterfall and bottom pool. Creeks that trickle from the sides form icy bubbles over mossy rocks, bare branches and sword ferns. The trailhead view satisfies enough, but meander the paved foot trail a quarter mile up to the 45-foot long 1914 Benson Footbridge that spans the lower falls. Peer down 105 feet to the lower falls or observe the upper falls intimately as its spray engulfs you in an arctic shower and inflicts a frigid blast. Be cautious of slippery concrete and continue on the path nearly an additional mile to a platform overlooking the falls in its entirety, a dizzying perspective of the drop along with an Eagle-eye panorama of the Columbia River and Gorge, the Union Pacific Railroad, and the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge built in 1925.

This path leading to the platform divides toward Multnomah Creek (one of my favorite spots to picnic) and adjoins trail systems throughout the Columbia River Gorge. Unless you are prepared for a lengthy winter hike, head back down to the day-Lodge area and warm up. You’ll find the Multnomah Falls Lodge Restaurant, a gift shop, espresso bar, snack bar, Interpretive Center, and public restrooms. You won’t leave hungry or empty-handed.

Multnomah Falls is located off I-84 between Troutdale and Cascade Locks or along the 1913 Historic Columbia River Highway, the first highway in America named a National Historic Landmark. Parking is plentiful and a Northwest Forest Pass is not required. Pets are welcome and the Leash Law applies.

Simon Benson, a philanthropist who left his mark on Oregon, donated land that encompasses Multnomah Falls, financed projects including his namesake bridge, and constructed the HCRH Scenic Byway that is a must-do if possible. The HCRH provides several features on the National Register of Historic Places such as unique bridges, viewpoints, recreation sites, rare plants and creatures, and numerous waterfalls. The road itself is a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. But enough of the titles, just go if you can!


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Horsethief Lake State Park

25 09 2014

I’ve heard of Horsethief Lake State Park for years, a place where my newlywed parents hunted Native American arrowheads along the Columbia River banks and viewed ancient petroglyphs (carvings) and pictographs (paintings) among the rocky terrain. The place intrigues me, so I took my adventurous family on a getaway to The Dalles, Oregon. No agenda. Just to explore. My youngest son’s main objective was spotting a rattlesnake. My daughter and I are the non-venomous snake catchers in the family, so that was fine with us. Even though this trip did not produce a rattler, my daughter did point out an American Porcupine scurrying away from our path.

Horsethief Lake State Park sits on the Washington state side of The Dalles Dam and Bridge in Dallesport, directly off SR 14 near milepost 86 about ninety miles east of the Portland/Vancouver Metro area. This National Historic Site hosted the Lewis and Clark Expedition in October 1805 and received a spot in their famous journals. The original site, called the Wishram Indian Village by Upper Chinook tribes, remains the largest prehistoric Chinook site. Wishram, Lishkam, and Cloud tribes camped there during fishing season. The Dalles Dam flooded the site in the 1950s, burying most of its history while creating a ninety-acre lake and state park named by workers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This desert area ripe with Native horse herds and flanked by rocky cliffs reminded them of classic horse thief hideouts.

IMG_7659Ancient Wanapum basalt flows created one such cliff called Horsethief Butte. It won my hiker’s heart and I am anxious to get back to its trailhead. This easy one-mile dirt trail overlooks Horsethief Lake and the park area, the Columbia River, The Dalles, and the Columbia River Gorge. It winds past crags, ravines, pictographs, petroglyphs, and rock climbing sites. Each season produces its own show of desert flora and fauna, and the constant danger of walking into the path of venomous snakes and poison oak. A split from the main trail presents a short but steep, rocky climb over the peak. I stepped over a small, loose rock marked with a petroglyph and hoped others would leave it just like I did. Kevin and the boys wanted to explore that area further, so my daughter and I descended back to the main trail and followed it above the river. Halfway out and entirely exposed at the top of the butte, thunder rumbled and large raindrops suddenly pelted us. We ran toward the parking lot that was a distance away. Gusts of wind turned into a steady force that drowned out our communication. We met the boys on our way back and together leaped and scrambled over the rocky path. Thunderstorms cut my hike short. I must return.

IMG_7576I also must return to Horsethief Lake State Park to join a guided tour of the petroglyphs and pictographs considered some of the oldest in the Pacific Northwest. The well-known face named “Tsagiglalal” or “She Who Watches” is both a painting and a carving and only can be viewed with a park ranger. Guided tours require reservations and take place at 10 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Call 1-509-767-1159 to reserve a free tour. Even though most stones were buried by the river changes, many are available for view along the self-guided Temani Pesh-wa Interpretive Trail adjacent to the parking lot. They were saved from vandals, moved and grouped along a short, paved path. Only a rudimentary wooden fence separates people from the petroglyphs and pictographs. It’s a photographer’s and historian’s dream. Really, if you can make it, don’t miss it.

The Dalles Mountain Ranch and Horsethief Lake State Park comprise part of the nearly 4000-acre Columbia Hills State Park where visitors camp, hike, swim, picnic, rock climb and more spring through autumn. The park is closed for winter. Day-use hours are 6:30 a.m. to dusk. A state park day-use permit costs $10 or the annual Discover Pass costs $30 per vehicle. For more information, go to or The 2014 Free State Park Days are September 27 and November 11.


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Reviewing Good Night Oregon

19 05 2013

IMG_5172All three of my children love reading. As toddlers, they sat still and remained engaged throughout any book read to them. Even now, jockeying for space with legs hanging off all sides of my bed, they pile on it to hear a story read aloud.

A preschool favorite of theirs was Goodnight Moon. I memorized it through utter repetition and can rattle off most of it today. I still can hear the very young voice of my now teenager as he recited phrases from that book, synchronizing with my own rhythmic reading. Each of them teethed on its cardboard edges. It’s tattered. It’s taped. It’s forgotten, replaced by chapter books. Worn and cherished, it’s tucked safely in a childhood keepsake box.

Goodnight Moon is a classic, but I discovered a newer book bound to be a favorite for young Pacific Northwest families and our visitors alike. Good Night Oregon by Writer Dan McCarthy and Illustrator Joe Veno takes readers on an educational adventure through the coast, the Cascade mountain range, the Columbia River Gorge, the city of Portland, the city of Pendleton, and central and eastern Oregon.

Good Night Oregon informs about the many activities enjoyed year-round in Oregon. The Cascades offer hiking, camping, skiing and snowboarding along with Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States and the seventh deepest in the world. Smith Rock State Park hosts rock climbers, and nearby rivers gush with rapids for a natural thrill ride. In the Gorge, Hood River boasts as the windsurfing capital of Oregon–and arguably the world, and Multnomah Falls displays the tallest waterfall in Oregon. Our rugged coastline highlights gems such as our iconic Haystack Rocks (sea stacks) in Cannon Beach, Pacific City and Bandon, and the world-famous Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport (former home of the orca named Keiko from Free Willy). Slip on your boots and ride over to Pendleton for the annual Round-Up, a major rodeo with competitors from all around North America. You’ll find a variety of activities just minutes from Portland’s Willamette River including museums to suit any taste, the Oregon Zoo, Washington Park and the sweetly scented Rose Garden. This International Rose Test Garden is the oldest public one of its kind in America.

Writer Dan McCarthy sprinkles information throughout Good Night Oregon in a subtly educational way, tucking fun into a story that takes its readers on a factual trip around the state. Illustrator Joe Veno’s bright pictures present detailed and accurate illustrations of places to explore and learn more about. Their teamwork presents a book worthy of bookshelf space.

Good Night Oregon is part of the Good Night Our World bookboard series by Our World of Books that journeys through a day within a certain location and its seasons. It is written mainly for ages 0-5 and costs approximately $9.95 new. Other Pacific Northwest titles to check out are Good Night Washington State and Good Night Seattle. For more information, go to


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