Day 7 – Stevenson, OR
It is most interesting watching the Northwest area change geographically. The Cascade Mountains make such a huge rain barrier. Just a day ago, on the west side, we were in a dessert formed by the great Ice Age floods, and yesterday on the east side of the Cascade Mountains it was lush and green. They receive over 70 inches of rain fall a year.
We loved the little town of Stevenson, only two streets so very quaint and pretty. It was a logging town and still is today. We drove up to Multnomah Falls and again our bus driver had us laughing all the way to the falls while she departed information about the area. The Indian culture dominates the area, and she told us many interesting stories. According to legend the fall were created by the gods to impress a beautiful maiden because she wanted a secret place to bathe. Today the 611 foot falls is a major Oregon icon. We had a perfect weather day to view the falls.
We passed by Beacon Rock on the way to the fall. It is the second largest free standing monolith in the northern hemisphere, or in the world, just behind the Rock of Gibraltar because it is one solid rock. It stands 848 feet. It was named by Lewis and Clark and because they could see tidal marking on the rock they were excited thinking they were close to the ocean. No, they had another 100 miles to go. The rock was eventually privately owned. The owner made hiking trails to the top for his kids. When he passed, the kids were afraid to keep it as the hikers from all over loved the trails. They were afraid of liabilities so tried to donate it to the state of WA. They received no reply; then decided to sell it to OR for a $1. Of course when WA got wind of that, they immediately accepted the kid’s donation and it is now a state park.
The only reason I mention this is because when the bus driver told the story, she told it with such humor I will probably never forget the info about Beacon Rock. She should have been a teacher. The students would love her. However, she never lets us forget that she drove a school bus for a short period but when she learned she couldn’t smack the kids, she quit. She then drove trucks. When she told her parents at 12 she wanted to drive trucks for a living they sent her to charm school. That didn’t work as she told us. As a youngster she worked as a commercial fisherman alongside her dad. Her knowledge of salmon is of course wonderful. She married an Native American and lived on a reservation for 12 years. When her husband died she and her daughter moved. Just a fascinating individual!
In the afternoon, we drove to Bonneville Dam. We went inside the dam and then learned about the fish ladders in place to help the fish swim upstream. Believe it or not there is a person who sits all day with a computer hitting a plus for fish swimming up and a minus for fish swimming downstream. She also records whether the fish is a hatchery salmon or a wild one.
You can tell the difference because hatchery salmon have the adipose fin removed. That is the fin between the dorsal and the tail. They remove the fin before the fingerlings are released. The fingerlings go down a long chute to get to calmer waters in the river. The water right after the dam is too dangerous for them. There is a huge spray of water at the end of the chute. This helps keep birds and bear and seal from just hanging out at the end of the chute saying, “Yum!” The spray also helps the fingerings orientate themselves as to which way is downstream. The ride in the chute can make them a little dizzy when they come out. You would think in today’s world there were be an easier way to count fish.
More to Follow,
Tom & Holly