We tie up in The Dalles, OR, end of the Oregon Trail, and are met dockside by “The Dalles Floozies” and friends, a fun-loving crew reminding visitors of the town’s former 40 “houses of negotiable affection.”
It’s early in the morning for that sort of thing so we drive across the river to the Washington side to see two creations of innovative maverick Sam Hill. We already had caught glimpses of his Scenic Columbia River Highway.
His Stonehenge, 1/3 the size of the original, is a memorial to the men of the area who lost their lives in war. High on a bluff overlooking the river, it would be spectacular if we weren’t still bedeviled by smoke and haze.
Maryhill Museum is in the home he built for his wife in hopes she would join him in his beloved West. She tried but preferred Minneapolis and never lived in the huge edifice. Two of his female friends, Queen Marie of Romania and famed dancer Loie Fuller, convinced him to turn it into a museum. He did, Queen Marie christened it and the collection is a wonderful mélange of French fashion wire dolls, Queen Marie’s furniture and court apparel, American Indian arts, Rodin maquettes, and contemporary work.
Nearby Maryhill Winery, the third largest family owned winery in Washington, commands another dramatic spot complete with outdoor stage for concerts, a grapevine trellised patio and production of 64 wines from nine different AVAs. It is a lovely spot for a tasting
Back in The Dalles, the temperature is climbing to what will top out at 114 degrees (F), too hot to explore the historic town.
We do visit Sunshine Mill Winery tasting room, a funky, friendly spot on the first floor of a 100-plus-year-old flour mill. If you’ve seen Copa daVino single-serving wines or heard of James Martin, the guy who patented the process and twice turned down the Shark Tankers who wanted controlling interest in his company to get the patent, this is his place.
Back aboard we have an abbreviated tasting of rose wines, learn the details of disembarkation and participate in a hotly contested trivia contest.
A group of us linger in the lounge, loath to end the camaraderie, then admire the almost full moon over the Columbia Gorge.