Back to Part 15.
Early Friday morning, we left Bend and headed north through the Mount Hood National Forest.
We came VERY close to driving an extra hour up in the mountains to see the lodge from "The Shining", but sadly opted not drive the winding road with the trailer in tow.
On this trip, with just a few exceptions, we didn't have reservations at campgrounds. For the most part, we had great luck finding spots, but weekends were sometimes challenging with full campgrounds. But our luck was holding, and we snagged one of the last spots at Wyeth Campground along the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area just before noon.
With our lodging settled for the weekend, we headed into Portland, to tourist around for the rest of the day. We started out at "The Grotto" or the National Sanctuary of our Sorrowful Mother, a Catholic outdoor shrine and sanctuary. It was a lovely peaceful place. As our visit ended, I lit a candle for all the fathers that we have said our final goodbyes to this year--our dad, Stan, and two of my sisters fathers-in-law, Bill and Dan.
Then we headed toward downtown, and ended up enjoying several hours at the famous Powell's Books.
Then we opted for a fancy dinner at Ataula, where we had tasty Chorizo "lollipops", quail egg toasts, paella, and other yummy goodies.
Fishing nerdiness ahead, prepare yourself. Doug was pretty excited to be in a good fishing area for Oregon's free fishing weekend. He went out early, after a bit online research, ended up at the old Cascade locks. There were a bunch of fisherman already there, fishing with some odd gear. They were using three hooks, with yarn tied around them, and a large weight on the bottom. Then instead of casting, they would drag the rod across the water. Shockingly, they seemed to be catching fish with this weird technique fairly frequently. Doug didn't have all of this weird gear, but set up as best he could. He managed to catch about 10 fish, all shad, that were between 14-18 inches.
Doug came back to the campground late in the morning, and we went out to the trailheads in the park. There were a few trail options, so we needed to decide which one to take. I have the TrackMe app on my phone, a nice route mapping app that can work offline. And if you have any signal, you can download a basemap that shows most of the hiking trails in the area. I had already researched the trails, so I knew that I wanted to take the one that went along the Gorge, with some uphill and some rolling hills. Doug, of course, decided on the other, that went immediately up into soul-crushing switchbacks. He went about 12 minutes up a beautiful shaded forest before his soul was officially crushed by the never-ending steep switchbacks and he headed back to camp. Besides, he still had more fishing to do. My hike, on the other had, nourished my soul. There was just enough uphill to feel like I was getting some exercise and the scenery was spectacular.
After lunch Doug headed back out to find better fishing gear, which included a big ball of yellow yarn, and ended up doubling his catch rate--15 fish in two hours. Although Doug caught a lot that day, the best fisherman prize went to the little boy on the opposite bank. Every time the boy would catch a fish, he'd proudly yell he number to his dad, so Doug knew the 8 year old had caught 25 fish in the same amount of time that Doug had caught 15.
During the afternoon, a conservation officer was out surveying the fisherman. He dubbed Doug, "Indiana", and was surprised to find out that Doug was catching and releasing. When Doug asked what other fisherman tend to do with shad, the CO replied that he'd seen it all, since shad are really bony fish and challenging to prepare. He'd laughed as he said fisherman have been known to hide them in other fisherman's coolers.
Doug woke up early to claim a good fishing spot. He was rewarded by catching some enormous fish. A bit later, an excited international tourist in his twenties came over to quiz Doug about his fishing secrets. Doug had just caught a big fish, so he gave it to the tourist, who immediately placed it on his own line, then shouted to his friends to admire "his" catch. That's when Doug found out it was his new friend's first time fishing, and that the new guy was officially addicted to fishing. Doug gave him some tackle that would work better for the current fishing. He also explained that since shad fish is an invasive species in the Columbia River, there's no catch limit, at which the tourist became even more excited. He and Doug then filled a big bag full of shad. Doug ended up using Google Translate to explain that shad was a very bony fish and the best way to prepare them for eating. Doug was pleased with his entertaining day of fishing, and happy with his biggest catch, a 20" long shad.
And then we enjoyed the quiet of the evening next to the campfire.
Up next, Part 17.