Brews, Blues and Beautiful Views

Trip Start Jun 22, 2010
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Where I stayed
Ainsworth State Park

Flag of United States  , Washington
Saturday, June 25, 2011

We had originally planned to spend this Saturday in the Seattle area, perhaps a day in Puget Sound. However, Mike's Northwest Brewery Guide contained an advertisement for a Brews and Blues Festival in Stevenson, Washington along the Columbia River. I had never really heard anything about the Columbia River Gorge, but the pictures in our travel brochures looked amazing. Mike was very interested in attending the event. Once he told me that several local wineries would be there, I gave in. And Puget Sound was added to the "next time" list. 

Despite agreeing to the change in plans, I was a little nervous about where we would sleep. Our experience thus far had been that most campgrounds fill up by Friday night for the weekend. Mike found a couple campgrounds on the Oregon side that were not too far from the festival. We decided to get down there as quickly as possible and see if we could get a spot.  I wasn’t too optimistic, but was proven wrong when we pulled into our first choice a little after noon. Less than 20 minutes from the festival, Ainsworth State Park had several open sites. We registered, set up the tent and ventured on. Since the festival went until 10 pm, Mike offered to take scenic route driving further east around the river before crossing and heading back west to Stevenson, WA.

Now that I knew we had a place to sleep. I could relax. Twenty-four hours ago, I was walking on snow, but here it was sunny, 77, and O.A.R. was in the CD player. The sunroof was open and the windows down. I felt like a teenager on the first day of summer, in love with the possibilities the day may bring.  As we drove through the Columbia Gorge, I felt astonished that I had never heard much about this area. It is gorgeous! Huge cliffs and mountains border the river.  Hawks soar high above the water. Every so often a break in the trees revealed a tall waterfall spewing down the mountain. Crossing over to Washington, we were rewarded with great views of Mount Hood, an 11,200 foot, snow-covered volcano.

Arriving at the festival, Mike and I were delighted to see that the fairgrounds were along the Columbia River. The concert stage was back dropped by the mountains on the Oregon side of the water.  I think Mike expected a bigger event, but I was happy with the smaller size. There was plenty of room in the audience, so we were able to set up lawn chairs fairly close to the stage. The stage was visible from almost all areas of the park and the classic rock style blues lent an even lighter mood to the day. We planted our lawn chairs fairly close to the stage. One dollar tokens bought a taste of beer or wine. However, these were the biggest tastes I had ever seen. Most pours were roughly half a glass. It’s a good thing I have no difficulty dumping or spitting, or I would’ve been in big trouble.  I took a couple sips of several wines before picking my favorite. With my giant taste of Domaine Poullian’s Black Dot (a blend of Greneache, Syrah, Zinfandel and Cabernet), I settled into my chair and relaxed.  Warm sunshine. Closed Eyes. Deep Breaths. Total Happiness. Even the blues couldn’t get me down.

Around seven, I was feeling sleepy from all the sun.  I suggested we eat and leave by eight.  I chose a Caesar salad topped with a piece of salmon for dinner and was absolutely impressed with my delicious and healthy festival fare. Mike went a different direction, coming back from the food carts with his dinner, a maple bacon funnel cake. He stressed that it paired perfectly with his favorite beer of the day, Sound’s Brewery Poundage Porter. I could only shake my head.

The sun had yet to set as we approached our campground, located on a scenic highway we had yet to explore. I drove a little past the campground to see what was there.  About a mile down the road, beautiful Horsetail Falls flowed into a creek on the side of the road. I parked the car and we walked over to the falls. In the late hour, only a family lingered in the park.  I was reading a sign about the 77 tall waterfalls in the area when I noticed that Mike had returned to the car. I rolled my eyes thinking he was just impatient. I was taking some photos when I noticed him strolling up in his swimsuit.   The children stared as he continued into the water not even pausing as he entered the cold water.  Mike dove under the water, swimming around the creek and the base of the falls. The young daughter looked at me as if asking, “What is your crazy husband doing?”  I shrugged my shoulders and laughed. I wasn’t sure what prompted that move myself, but I could see that he was very happy.
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Mike on

That was the best dinner of the trip, and I did wait half an hour before swimming under my largest waterfall.

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