The sunrise silhouettes
Mt. Hood.

I love the way Portland lies at the center of magnificent world-class scenery. This part of the world was formed by ancient volcanoes, and there are modern day versions in the Cascade Mountain range - rugged giants who (like Mt. St. Helens) could erupt at any time! From our own house, we can see St. Helens, Adams and Mt. Hood.

The Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area is a half-hour's drive from Portland, and we have yet to exhaust its potential for adventure. Formed when the Missoula Floods carved a huge path to the sea more than 13,000 years ago, the gorge is characterized by spectacular basalt cliffs and many tall waterfalls.

Every year Scott and I offer a "secret waterfall tour" for sale at the First Unitarian social justice auction. We've amassed a respectable collection of secret and not-so-secret waterfalls to draw on for these tours. At right is a not-so-secret falls, Ponytail Falls on Horsetail creek. The trail goes right behind the falls.

The Oregon Coast boasts a rhythmic repetition of massive black basalt capes and heads rising a thousand feet above the sea, punctuated by long expanses of sandy beach, wholly belonging to the people of Oregon. The ocean is never warm here, but the coast is beautiful, and the towns that dot it vary from the banal to the quaint.

At right is Cascade Head as seen from a bluff above the Westwind beach. There is a wonderful Nature Conservancy site on Cascade Head that features a rare patch of coastal prairie.

This is the view of Mt. St. Helens from our attic window on a sunny winter day. Mt. Ranier (much larger, but farther north, nearer to Seattle) is visible to the left of St. Helens' shoulder, but is a little obscured by a lenticular cloud. The Guilds Lake industrial area is in the foreground, and you can just see the Willamette River.

Our guest room is in the attic...

Personally, I'm a forest kind of girl, but when Western Oregonians get tired of forests, mountains, waterfalls and cliffs, they head over the Cascades to Eastern Oregon for a taste of the high desert. At right are the Painted Hills of the John Day Fossil Beds.
All in all, if you like outdoor adventure - and we do - Oregon is a terrific place to be.