Posts Tagged ‘willamette Falls’

My husband’s sister and her husband came over to visit us this past weekend. Their 35th wedding anniversary was Sunday (our 34th is coming up on Saturday). I was not there for their wedding, but they were most certainly there for our wedding: for three weeks preceding our nuptials, my future brother-in-law warned me that having an outdoor wedding in June, in Oregon, was asking for it to rain.

I assured him that God would *not* do that to me. I made no alternative plans. It rained buckets every single day from the 18th of May (when Mt. St. Helens erupted) until The Day. It even rained in the morning of The Day. Then the clouds parted, the sun came out, and I had a beautiful outdoor wedding that was only slightly interrupted by 1)an unmuffled car arriving during the service, 2) a dog fight, 3) my niece (and flower girl) announcing (loudly) during the prayer: “Mommy, why you sleeping?”

Believe me when I tell you that my brother-in-law has never forgotten that it did *not* rain on my outdoor wedding. A lot of other things happened, but it did not rain.


They arrived in time for the Stinkin’ Flower blooms. My husband promised his sister a bulb of the Dragon Lily for Christmas. She promised to return it to us C.O.D.


We wanted to take them out to our favorite place to eat: The Highland Stillhouse Pub. It sits right above Willamette Falls, has good service, and there was live music by Beltaine, one of our favorite local Celtic bands. They play a lot of sing alongs.


Yeah, sure. They’re really singing along to “Steppin’ Out, Mary.”


My husband and his older sister.


We invited some Comic Relief to join us. Brian and Chrystal delivered, as always. Brian is the straight man to Chrystal’s one liners. They’re sort of like inviting Harvey Korman and Carol Burnett to dinner. I had to cut Kilt Man out of the photo.

Kilt Man wore his tidee whitees under his kilt, but someone neglected to tell him how he should sit in a kilt. <ahem> Don’t men have to learn “sitting in a skirt 101” like women do???


The Skeptic brother-in-law is still not smiling, 34 years later. Ha! This guy is such a huge softie. I don’t know how he manages the poker face.


One of the benefits of sitting in a pub right above Willamette Falls in the summertime is the turkey vultures. They are just catching the thermals and trying to rise to the height of the bluffs on either side of the river. Kind of ominous, if you’re eating dinner.

After dinner, we crossed Hwy 99E to the Falls overlook. My husband (the able-bodied hiker) decided we should walk down to the cat walk and cross the highway to the promenade, and then back to the car. I’m not sure he was thinking about his sister’s disability, but she powered on and humored him.


I have never walked this far from the main overlook & did not know that Hwy 99E had a name.


The old Blue Heron Paper Mill sits on the site right now. The City of Oregon City is debating what to do with the site. I’d love to go down there and take photographs before they start dismantling things.




Everyone was well ahead of me when I started up the stairs to the catwalk. This beauty was taped to one of the risers.


The catwalk and the narrow passage of highway traffic.


View of the falls from the catwalk.


The Oregon City tunnel. It is right on a corner, so if you are side-by-side with a Semi, you need to back off and allow the semi to take both lanes through the tunnel. This is part of my daily commute.

Later, we all posed for a big family photo (I did not post it here as my sister-in-law didn’t like the photo. If she decides she’d like it posted for the world, I’ll edit this and post it. But out of respect – no family photo)


This was Take Two. Everyone stood around Murphy and I set the timer. I hurried over to my place, kneeled, and Murphy (who was just too excited to be included), turned and gave me a huge, sloppy, doggy kiss. And then the camera flashed.

Sunday, we drove down to the Aurora Colony and traipsed through a few expensive antique shops. I do not usually go antique shopping there because the prices are so… <ahem> over-priced. They are probably reasonable, but I am a cheapskate. It was nice to find that we own a fortune in antique marbles – if you could actually sell them for the prices given!

We stopped at the Canby wine-and-art festival on our way back north. It was so-so this year, but there was a winery from Eugene outside that was selling a nice syrah-grenache-cabernet blend (I wasn’t buying wine, but I tasted it). I mentioned Faerieworlds to him and he said they had a booth there last year. He also said he’d had another person come through this weekend who also mentioned the faire and who offered to make him a costume for it. Gee, I wonder if that was my good friend, Queen Mary?

We drove back to Oregon City and I said: “One more stop.” Don (my brother-in-law) did not know we have a working elevator named Elevator Street.


I took them all to Elevator Street and insisted they ride up to the top of the bluff. The elevator operator was great, and repeated everything I’d just told my in-laws about our wonderful vertical street. I want his job.


While we were at the top of the elevator, this train passed by. It was a long train, and every car had military vehicles on it: Hummers, 6-paks, mortars, tanks. Hmmm…


I lied. I admitted. There was one more stop: the overlook. Please click on the photo. It was smoggy, so you couldn’t see further than downtown Portland: on a clear day, you can see Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens.

We had a great time.


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I had Friday off. It wasn’t for fun that I had Friday off, but on-going research into the deep mystery of the Kidney Stone That Will Not Be Moved (I had a procedure called an IVP which is, simply put, a series of x-rays taken while an iodine dye solution courses through my kidneys.

But that is not what I am going to bore you with.

Since I had the day off and we were on the tail end of one whopper of a “Pineapple Express” (which followed our brush with snow), I knew that the Willamette River would be running high and it might be a good time to go down and take a few photos. I was not the only person who thought it would be fun to stand and watch big trees cascade down the Willamette Falls: the little parking lot overlooking the falls from Highway 99 was packed with sight-seers.

Willamette Falls is the second-largest water falls in the USA and 18th largest in the world (the latter is by volume, not size).

This is what the Falls look like on a nice day (photo was taken 11/11/2009).

This is what they looked like yesterday, as the river was working its way up flood levels. The most recent article I read put the Willamette at 64′, which is just shy of major flood stage (67′).

Panorama of a calm Willamette Falls (November 2009).

Compared to the flood stage Willamette Falls.

And then, because I am such an astute sort of person, it dawned on me that my new camera also takes video. VIDEO.¬† As in, I could take an amateur video of the flood…


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I had to leave work early today for an eye doctor’s appointment (I have glaucoma and have to see the eye doctor every six months). I work 15 miles from home (a drive that takes anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes, depending on traffic and time of day).

I was in the fast lane today: a twenty minute buzz back home with plenty of time to spare to make my appointment. The sun was shining, the clouds had parted, and I had my camera.

So I decided to take some more photos to fill in some gaps. I stopped at the little rest area where I photographed Mt. Hood and took photos of the hysterical, er – historical – markers there. (When Arwen was a little girl, she hated it when we could deliberately mispronounce historical. Even though she knew we were doing it on purpose, she would always say, “It’s historical!”)

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First, a little hysterical overview of Dr. John McLoughlin who was a philanthropist and all-around good guy, and the founder of the City of Oregon City which is directly opposite the river from this view point.

365 077 This guy with the frown on his face.

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A brief history of Willamette Falls. There are still some platforms on the rocky outcrops of the falls where Indians sometimes come to fish. I haven’t seen any Indians fishing from there in years, but I don’t always pay attention.

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There is no good place to view the falls from the view point (rather makes that a misstatement, except on an uncloudy day you can see Mt. Hood from here). But that was OK, because I not only had time on my hands, but I was a quarter mile from the nearest exit and the Oregon City Arch Bridge. In no time at all, I’d cross the river and headed south on 99E to the next view point (where I photographed the bust of Dr. McLoughlin).

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I did not take a photograph of Willamette Falls on the day I photographed the bust of the good doctor because the water was low and the falls were pretty ho-hum. Today the falls were back to normal.

When we first moved to the Portland metro area there was a dramatic rescue here. Some couple (she was pregnant) missed all the warning signs down river and plunged over the falls in their boat. It takes a lot of talent to miss all the warning signs. (Don’t worry: it actually ended well and the couple survived, quite intact. There have been houseboats torn loose from their moorings that have not fared so well.) As you can see, it is quite a drop: forty feet (12 meters).

Willamette Falls are the 18th largest falls in the world by water volume and the largest falls in the Pacific Northwest. There are locks on the western shoreline that are open seasonally. They are based on a design by Leonardo DaVinci¬† and are levered (mitered), wooden structures. Don and I have attended the Lockfest for several years (it was canceled this year) and toured the locks several times. They’re very narrow and it is pretty impressive to watch them fill and drain.

I made a panorama of the falls to give you an impression of just how impressive they are.

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The Blue Heron Paper Mill is the structure on both sides of the Willamette River here. They ceased using toxic chemical to process the paper back in the late 1980’s and there isn’t that offensive bleach/sulphur odor associated with a lot of paper mills. Some mornings the steam rising from the mill is thick and foggy, and if it catches the morning sun right, it is pink. I love those mornings.

There is, unfortunately, not much opportunity for me to stop and take a photo of the paper mill on those days. Gotta go to work, you know.

The falls are 1500 feet (457.2 meters) across and horse-shoe shaped. During high water, the rocks disappear. During the “hundred year flood” times (1996 was the last such flood), the falls nearly disappear. Imagine the volume of water necessary to raise the river to that level!

After I snapped the photos, I jumped back in my truck. And noticed this little brass plaque.

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Now I find that bit of history fascinating. Peter Skene Ogden was quite the explorer and fur trader. From what I have read on the man, he was controversial and violent. But he successfully negotiated the release of the survivors of the Whitman Massacre, earning himself an honored place in history.

I was so pleased to have a beautiful day in which to capture these images. I’m especially pleased with how the panorama of the falls turned out. It really is that beautiful.

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Willamette Falls on the Willamette River, looking across at West Linn and the Blue Heron Paper Mill.

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