We have our first family adventure of the season in the books! After a year off from big nature adventures (or really adventures at all), it feels so good to get back at it. While I think everyone is excited for the adventures….the driving however not so much. Edith asked no less than four times if we were there yet/how long is it going to take to get to our final destination. She also went on to talk about how we never drive this far and do lots of long driving and my initial response was to say ‘what are you talking about we have done tons of long drives like these’ until I remembered that I spent the whole of 2017 either pregnant or recovering from childbirth. Time is a funny thing. It feels like all our crazy adventures from 2016 were so recent but then you have your five-year-old remind you how long ago that was – at least for them.
Our first adventure took us to Rowena Plateau, a spot we had stopped at briefly on a drive through three years earlier but hadn’t actually explored. Our plan was to do the short hike and see all the wildflowers and the view. While we did get to enjoy the wildflowers and the view our hike was cut short by the overgrowth of poison oak and the threat of rattle snakes which I swear I heard two of them rustling near the path. Either way when the path turned into one skinny, rocky, poison oak infested lane we turned back and decided to head to Hood River for lunch before adventuring on to another location.
I’m happy to report that none of us ended up with poison oak even though I was certain that one of us would. I had terrible flashbacks to playing in the woods next to my elementary school when I was in third grade and ending up with a face full of itchy blisters due to a run in with poison oak; a moment I hope that my family and I can avoid. Also I am now researching rattle snakes in Oregon and what to do if we were to run into one – taking an tips or suggestions for resources.
We found our way to Hood River and decided to try to a new to us spot for lunch – Farm Stand In The Gorge. This little market was filled with everything that you could need as well as a wonderful cafe serving up breakfast and lunch. The menu consisted of wraps, sandwiches, salads, smoothies and a lengthy list of kombucha on tap. Neil and I both ended up ordering the vegan reuben which was delicious, Edith ordered a make your own sandwich complete with vegan mayo, marinated tempeh and a ton of fresh veggies and Alder and Ingrid went the a la carte route and had a few items we picked up from the market. We are definitely planning to return on our next trip and I’m ordering the kale salad because not only was it massive but it looked incredible.
No family nature outing is complete without a stop for a treat so we made our way to Gorge Ice Cream for some delicious non-dairy ice cream (they also have dairy options for those wondering). Edith and I went with the lavender honey, Alder with chocolate and Neil with coffee which he said tasted just like a latte. I went with a dish but stole a bite of Neil’s cone and instantly regretted not getting a cone for myself because it was probably even better than the ice cream.
With our bellies filled to the brim we decided to go one one last nature adventure before heading home. I searched on OregonHikers.com for something family friendly in the Columbia Gorge that was 2 miles or less and little elevation gain and had a number of hikes pop-up. However, due to the damage caused by last summers wildfires a number of the paths were still closed so we ended up deciding on the Fort Cascades Historical Site hike which brought us across the Bridge of The Gods over to Washington.
Having little clue as to what this hike was just that it checked all the boxes of what were looking for we were honestly a little skeptical. When we arrived at the trail head we were pleasantly surprised to find an interpretive map that would lead us on a historical self-guided tour of the old Cascades Township. Neil, Edith and I were totally geeking out and couldn’t wait to get to each post to read more about this historical spot. Alder however was more interested in climbing boulders and the set of train wheels and tracks that we found on the path. Ingrid, well, she just wanted to nurse and not be in the carrier.
Overall we were pleasantly surprised with this hike and would highly recommend it to anyone who is a historical nerd like we are and/or people with young families looking for a lush green, family friendly path to explore. It’s also the perfect spot for viewing the Bonneville Dam.
- Edith getting to use her first aid kit from her adventure pack (don’t worry just a minor knee scuff).
- Ingrid enjoying her first chocolate ice cream.
- Alder asking if every plant we saw was poison after finding out about poison oak.
- Finding a new lush green, family friendly path filled with so much history.
- If heading to Rowena Plateau come prepared with long pants and socks to protect again poison oak and make sure you are familiar with how to manage an encounter with a rattlesnake. Also there are no restrooms to take a pee break before you head up to check out the beautiful views.
- Stop into Farm Stand In The Gorge for lunch and order the kale salad.
- Take a visit to the Fort Cascade Historical Site, grab a map and enjoy the 1.5 mile loop. psst make sure you have $2 to cross the bridge if you are coming from Oregon.
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