Multnomah Falls - this is one of the only times that the picture is actually useful to get an idea of what the blog is about.
Oregon is a place of remarkable natural scenic wonders and a near record number of strip clubs. However, as multiple family members read this blog, I’ll be devoting the bulk of this update to the natural scenic wonders and only employing strip-club anecdotes when I think things are getting boring.*
*In Salem, where I grew up, there were plenty of strip bars, but only one actual strip club, which would admit anyone over the age of 18 as opposed to anyone over the age of 21. This club was called Cheetahs, and it was located along Lancaster Boulevard on the outskirts of town, which has all the charm of East Los Angeles with shittier weather. It was a ritual of sorts among the sweatier boys at my high school to make a pilgrimage out to Cheetahs every time somebody turned 18. Throughout my senior year, as many of my friends turned 18, I heard a lot of stories which implied that Cheetahs did not necessarily attract the highest quality of stripper, and most of the people showing up at school the day after a Cheetahs outing had the emotionally hollow stare of Vietnam veterans and rescued POWs. Point is, Oregon may have a lot of strip clubs, but they are by no means good. The more you know.
In spite of all this scenic natural wonder, the biggest tourist attraction in the state is the Woodburn Outlet Mall, a sprawling complex surrounded by muddy fields roughly halfway between Portland and Salem. The main attraction is at the Woodburn Outlet Mall is that while the stores there will still take your money and give you overpriced name brand clothing, they won’t take quite as much of your money because there are reasonable discounts on everything. The second largest tourist attraction is Spirit Mountain Casino, where they will take as much of your money as you want in return for some buffet potato salad and the feeling that you’re atoning for the sins of your ancestors who swindled and murdered these poor Native Americans off of their land. The third most popular attraction is Crater Lake, where the National Park Service will take your money and in return you get to look at a really big lake. But, in the lake’s defense, it’s way big. Also, blue.
In the interests of appreciating our state’s beauty while capitalizing on the last few days of spring break and also saving some money, The Girlfriend and I went with two friends to Multnomah Falls, a place in the Columbia Gorge where a river jumps off of a 620 foot high cliff, with highly photogenic results. Our intent was to hike the trails around the falls in pursuit of a merit badge or experience points or something useful like that.
As you all know, the most exercise I get during spring break is walking downstairs to the refrigerator for hummus, and I’ve even gone so far as to draw up blueprints for a flying refrigerator so I won’t even have to do that much. However, when we reached the falls and I tilted my head all the way back to see the entirety of the massive waterfall, I spotted a tiny viewing platform right at the top of the falls, and all at once I became dead set on going up there. I went into this outing expecting that what few exercise oriented skills I’d developed during my three months of kindergarten soccer had been lying dormant for the past 15 years and as soon as my feet hit the trail I’d be making the great outdoors my bitch.
But would my blog be funny at all if anything I wanted to happen ever did? Hiking Multnomah Falls seemed like a great idea right up until the second of 83 very steep switchbacks on an uncomfortably narrow trail leading all the way up the mountain. It didn’t help that The Girlfriend and one of her friends had done track in high school, while the other friend was a former tennis player. I spent the entire way up the mountain lagging behind everyone else, gasping for breath, and praying that there was a casino or strip club at the end of the trail. At every turn, the views were definitely breathtaking, but I’d wager that was mostly because I didn’t have a whole lot of breath for most of the trip.
The excursion up the mountain was made no easier by the fact that there were throngs of other tourists there. This surprised me, as I had expected these people to be the sort who would be wandering the outlet mall or playing the slots. But no, intrepid and somewhat overweight throngs of people were working their way up and down the mountain with us – however, many of them were toting along young children and large, excitable dogs on the narrow paths with no guardrails, so I can only assume they either had thought they were going to a pet-and-child-friendly casino and were instead duped into visiting a waterfall. Or, they were idiots. Both are valid options. Regardless of why they were there, the extra people on the mountain made things significantly more exciting. More than once my companions and I had to hop out of the way as a pudgy, middle aged man came barreling down the dead center of the path in the opposite direction, leading a big golden lab that looked like it just really wanted to jump up and put its paws on anyone’s chest, even if it meant that person falling to certain death on jagged rocks below.
Upon reaching the top of the mountain, the trail wound down a little on the other side before finally reaching the lookout point; nature’s own way of going “psych!” The lookout was a small platform that hung sickeningly far out over the edge of the waterfall and mountain, offering some spectacular views of both the Columbia Gorge and the poor bastards down at the bottom of the trail who were only starting their trip. Sweaty, legs burning, gasping for breath, I looked out over a few miles worth of what some people consider to be creation and realized that maybe, just maybe, the 45 minute trek up the mountainside had been worth it.
Of course, at the outlet mall, there’s an elevator.
Truman Capps wonders if Multnomah Falls is wheelchair accessable.