Skiing in July!
The Rally is definitely over, and we woke to the sounds of big rigs hooking up their ‘toads’ (towed vehicles) and leaving the fairgrounds. We fixed breakfast and took a more leisurely approach. We still got on the road by 9:30, which is way early for us!
We turned north on Highway 97 out of Redmond, headed for Mount Hood. Like the bear who ‘went over the mountain’ in the song - we wanted to ‘see what we could see’. What we saw getting to the mountain, was a whole lot of central Oregon scenery which is high desert that has a beauty all it’s own.
Highway 97 parallels the Cascade Mountain chain and has views of snow capped mountain peaks that can take your breath away. Today many of them had their heads in the clouds, and with the cool weather they may have been getting a dusting of fresh snow. After an hour the road turned into Highway 26, which took us northwest through the town of Madras, and across the Crooked and Deschutes Rivers. Both rivers are cut deeply into the high desert, and rim rock is a prominent feature of the landscape.
With thousands of RV’s leaving the rally in Redmond, many were on the highway with us. Most turned off on the road west to I-5 and Eugene, but some continued on toward Mt. Hood. Following one big Class A down a long grade, we could see him riding his brake the whole way down. He apparently never heard of gearing down, and he’s typical of the RVer's we stay far away from.
Soon we started seeing Mt. Hood in the distance. Mt. Hood is a spectacular sight, rising majestically over the surrounding landscape and coming to a sharp, snow white point at it’s peak. Today wind was blowing the snow around, and the peak was in and out of the resulting cloud. To say it was beautiful is a trite cliché, but so accurate.
One of the best known features of Mt. Hood is Timberline Lodge, a stately structure built during the depression by workers of the CCC and the WPA, and dedicated in 1937 by President Roosevelt. As the name implies, it is built at the timberline of the mountain, and it sits at the base of a glacier that provides residents of nearby Portland with year around skiing. We turned off Highway 26 and took the six mile drive up to the lodge, where we were rewarded with an afternoon rich in history, and a seafood lunch buffet rich in calories. Both were worth it, and you only live once!
The mountain slopes were alive with skiers and a few snowboarders, and some of them were staying at the lodge which is also a fine hotel. A video told the history of the building, which fell into disrepair but has now been lovingly restored. A 1940 promo film was the most interesting. It showed the Ski School, run by mostly Swiss and Austrian instructors. Skiers were on wooden skis that sometimes ran as long as eight feet, and their boots were attached to the skis with bindings that would snap your leg like a toothpick if you fell wrong.
In a telling bit reminiscent of the thinking of the day, the film showed an early ski race presided over by a group of ‘princesses’ and a Snow Queen. The race was open only to men, and the girls (including the queen) had the honor of putting on their skies and ‘packing the slopes’ for the male racers. In a condescending tone the announcer did mention that some of the ‘ladies’ were pretty good skiers, but it was clear they were there to provide decoration and to groom the slopes, and not to embarrass the men with their skiing.
We had lunch in the Cascade Dining Room, and their buffet is elegant. From crab bisque to the salads, salmon, tri-tip and deserts, the food was delicious. Back outside we exchanged picture taking with a nice family who emigrated from England and now live in Beaverton. Then we waddled back to our RV and coasted back down the mountain. A few miles farther we found our campground, and we settled into a shaded campsite deep in the rainforest. It is about as different from the Deschutes County Fairgrounds as it’s possible to get, and while rain is expected, we are cozy and snug, We have water and electric hookups, and while the WiFi doesn’t work, who cares when there’s rain on the roof to keep us entertained?