At first, I attributed it to the strenuous uphill hike we had just completed at the Tom McCall Preserve, but then I noticed that his eyes looked glassy. Uh-oh. As it turned out, he was running a 102-degree fever. He fell into bed, where he spent the next 36 hours sleeping. It rained the entire time. My companions were a feverish germ factory and a snoring cat. I seriously considered moving into the truck.
Surviving The Flu In A Travel Trailer
For the first time ever, we made up the dinette into a bed so that we could sleep separately (pretending that eight feet of separation was going to keep the flu bug at bay). We pounded down mass quantities of antiviral, immune-boosting herbs. I made a pot of Thai chicken soup.
Amazingly, I didn’t get what Eric had. Even more amazing is that on Wednesday morning, he rose from the bed, and said, “Let’s go do something fun.”
Memaloose State Park
Given that we were camped at Memaloose State Park, I was very happy that he made such a quick recovery. The name of the park means “to die” in the Chinook language, and refers to the ancient practice of the Chinook laying the bones of their dead on open pyres on islands in the Columbia River. The most well-known burial island—Memaloose Island—is right offshore of the park. The island was our view from our dining window and was shrouded in somber gray mist for two days straight.
Other than the flu and the rain, we had a great time on the western end of the Columbia Gorge. We hiked the beautiful wildflower trail of the Tom McCall preserve, picked organic cherries ($1.50 a pound!), explored the pretty little town of Hood River, visited the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, biked the Mosier Twin Tunnels Trail, and met our friend Dia for a spectacular 6-mile loop waterfall hike.
The highlights, in more detail:
The Tom McCall Preserve
A beautiful Nature Conservancy Preserve, the Tom McCall Preserve overlooks the Columbia. It’s located in the transition zone between the dense forests of the western side of the Cascades and the dry prairies of the east. Known for stunning wildflower displays in April and May, there were still vast fields of cobalt bachelor’s buttons carpeting the meadows. It’s a steep and interesting hike to the top on a narrow winding path, and also a minefield of poison oak.
Columbia Gorge Discovery Center
The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center is the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon. In the attractive center, thoughtful and well-done exhibits trace the history of the Columbia Gorge. We especially enjoyed exploring exhibits of the Lewis and Clark expedition and learned tidbits such as, each man consumed nine pounds of meat per day—anything they could hunt and drag back to camp, including grizzly bear, antelope, and bison. (They also carried along a large quantity of Dr. Rush’s Thunderbolt pills, an explosive laxative formula. The campfire scene from “Blazing Saddles” comes to mind.)
This was the expedition that Sacagawea accompanied as interpreter and guide. She’s credited with providing safe passage through Indian territories simply by her presence.
Mosier Twin Tunnels Trail
The Mosier Twin Tunnels Trail is a paved biking/hiking trail repurposed from an abandoned section of the historic Columbia River Highway. It’s a fun 10-mile round-trip ride, with gorgeous views of the Columbia far below.
Waterfall Hike: The Wahkeenah-Multnomah Loop
Our friend Dia met us to hike one of her favorite waterfall trails, the Wahkeenah-Multnomah loop. At six-and-a-half miles, with a 1600-foot elevation gain, it was amazing that Eric could hike that trail one day after being sideswiped by the flu.
It was a spectacular hike through the forest and along the creek, passing by at least 10 other waterfalls along the way. We celebrated with local brews and snacks (smoked salmon stuffed mushrooms and albacore ceviche) on the terrace of the Multnomah Lodge following the hike. We should have remembered that we still had a half-mile trek to get back to the truck before having that beer, though.
Did I tell you that Odel and I had one volunteer job in our travels? Hosts of the Mosier Twin Tunnels trail. You would have passed the host site just uphill (east) of the little visitor center at the parking lot 1 mile east of Hood River. It was a great job! Glad to read that the flu episode was relatively short, and contained.
Thanks for blogging; I really enjoy reading about your travels.
You were our inspiration for biking the Mosier trail! We definitely want to return to the gorge to spend more time — there’s so much more to explore. I’m glad you’re following along with our travels. I always looked forward to your blog.