On the road again

You know it's Rose Festival in Portland when . . . 

Your morning coffee is interrupted by the local High School marching band practicing up and down the street in front of your house!

Time to get out of Dodge!
Now, the Rose festival can be fun - there's the Starlight parade and run, the Rose Parade, the amusement center and much more.  I especially like going to see the last minute touches put on the many floats the day before the parade.

But, there also the folks lining up along the parade route days before the parade, chalking out their spaces and setting up lawn chairs.  Then there are the delays as the bridges go up to allow big ships into the river (Hey, Sailor, it's Fleet week).  All in all, a good time to leave town!

Day 1-2: Free camping just below the John day Dam.

Large open area for camping(7 days allowed at no cost) between the interstate (84) and the Columbia River. The traffic noise and train noise is not too bad - I hear the waves on the river more.
When I arrive, I find that the area is under a high wind advisory, so I'm glad I've planned to spend a day touring Maryhill Museum and winery.

The museum was built and largely filled by Sam Hill at the turn of the century.  He was really a large-than-life character!  I remember my Dad saying things like "where the Sam Hill did I put that?".  An early advocate of automobile travel, Sam Hill was an aggressive lobbyist for the building of roads and is largely responsible for several of our scenic highways in the PNW.  He was friends with Queen Marie of Romania, who traveled to Maryhill in 1926 to dedicate the museum.  The museum has an interesting collection including a room of pieces by Rodin!  It also has a spectacular view of the Columbia gorge with an impressive view of Mt. Hood off to the west.

The winery is award winning, making over 40 different wines from their own vineyards as well as from grapes sourced throughout Washington state.  Bonus: your museum admission gets you a free tasting at the winery.  I didn't leave empty-handed.

Event amphitheater at the winery

Historic Celilo Falls

While the Celilo Falls used by native people for thousands of years were flooded by the dams along the Columbia, there are still fishing platforms along the banks in this area.  The John Day Recreational area (where I am), is part of a treaty fishing access area.  I spoke to some fishermen who pulled out 30 salmon a couple weeks ago right in front of my campsite.

John Day Dam

A guy fishing

More fishing platforms

Still very windy - ideal for kite surfing

I came back from the museum and winery to find the campground full of kite surfers!  It looks like a lot of fun (also incredibly difficult!).  I only got a couple of pictures as this guy was taking off - at one point, there were 6 or 7 out on the river.  Occasionally, they'd all have to hug the shoreline as a tug would go by pushing a big barge - the Columbia is a busy commercial waterway.

I've seen a couple other Escapes - talked to a couple at a rest stop yesterday who are also making their way North to Osoyoos for the Escape rally.  In always surprised at what a small world it is.


  1. Anne does the camp ground just below the John Day Dam have a name and is there always free camping for a week or was this a special occasion?

    1. Hi Betty,
      It's always free; it's called Below John Day Dam on www.freecampsites.net.
      You take exit 104 off I84 to the dam and Rufus,or. Turn left to go back under the freeway and where the road T's, take a left (torn right to go to the dam). After about .5 miles, the road turns to gravel and shortly after that, you'll see the pit toilets and a big open area that they say will hold 16-30 rigs. It's within view of the highway, but it's also right on the river. Good place if you want to fish or just need a stopping place along the highway. At the freeway exit, there is gas/mini-Mart and a cafe.
      On the road to the dam, there are several small parking areas (no camping) with shade that would be good as lunch stops.

    2. Celilo Falls were spectacular. I was just a child when my folks took me to see them and they made quite an impression on me. The indians fished from rickety platforms that hung over the cascading water. The sound of the falls was terrific.

    3. I wish I could have seen them in person! I've only seen pictures. Did you have a good trip to the southwest?


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