Aug 16, 2011 – Today we traveled down a good portion of the Columbia River gorge and then back up into the mountains just south of Mt St Helens, for a total of about 248 miles. The goal was to get to a campground in Cougar, WA.
After a rather bland but free breakfast at the hotel, we geared up and pulled out just before 10am.
Walla Walla isn’t that big, so we got out on the highway pretty quickly. One thing that surprised us was that we didn’t see any Walla Walla onions … anywhere. Not in town, not along the highway coming in and leaving. Nothing. It’s like Walla Walla onions never existed. Or maybe Walla Walla onions are a figment of my imagination … or it’s a completely different Walla Walla.
Anyway, back out on the road, it was surprising how much the terrain had changed compared to the previous day. It was more rocky and beige on both sides of the river, but the river gorge itself was pretty spectacular. There were some very large barges, some filled with grain and others empty slowly making their way up and down the river.
We started out crossing the border into Oregon for a few miles before crossing a bridge taking us to the north side of the river. This was a secondary highway – the wider freeway was on the south side.
It was hot, real hot, so we pulled off the highway onto the road to Yakima and stopped a little place for a drink and a rest … and some shade!
Anther hour or so along the highway, and we made it to the turn-off where we headed north to Cougar – and we were headed back into the mountains. I have no idea what I was looking at here: Trees? Clouds?
Or the “Apes Caves”? WTH?
More on the Ape Caves later. Heading up the road we got higher in altitude and further into the mountains. Tunnels!
By just before 5pm, we arrived at Cougar and started looking for the campground. We toured the Municipal Park and Campground, but it wasn’t what we were looking for. So we stopped in at the Cougar Gas Station and General Store to top off the tanks and check in on where the campground was. It was a long hot day, as Louise’s look here shows …
Turns out the campground was less that 5 minutes further up the road, so off we went, set up camp, made some dinner, had a shower, and hit the sleeping bags …