The wife and I took a couple of days and headed east into the amazing Columbia River Gorge last week. You have seen me write about proximity as a benefit to living in the ‘Couv’ as much as the actual city itself. Our close proximity to Portland is one benefit, and sometimes a curse methinks 😉 We were able to drive just 45 minutes along SR-14 and found ourselves in the lovely town of Stevenson and the amazing Skamania Lodge.
Stevenson and most of Skamania County for that matter, seems like it is another state altogether, yet there it is hiding just over yonder. The drive along SR-14 is rather scenic more or less all the way from Downtown Vancouver but really gets delicious as you head east out of Washougal and into the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
The first landmark is Cape Horn. This view never gets old for me. I feel like I have to pull over and gape into the giant hole in the Cascade Range with the mighty Columbia River pushing its way through. That is a breathtaking vista and if you get too close to the railing it can be another type of breathtaking.
Next up is the massive Beacon Rock. One of planet Earth’s largest basalt monoliths. You can stop at the state park and take a one mile trek up a narrow trail to its summit to soak up a 360° view. Then it is the mighty Bonneville Dam churning out electric power for the whole region and more.
Rolling into Stevenson is like rolling into Mayberry. You feel like Don Knotts is gonna pull you over, lights flashing, not to write you a ticket or anything but just to say hello and, “Haven’t seen you around, Welcome to the Gorge.”
The Skamania Lodge is quite the place. They have a spectacular 18 hole golf course, spa, amazing views of the river and mountains. It is really a fantastic spot and did I mention it’s just a 45 minute drive? I think I did actually.
Skamania County is more than twice the physical size of Clark County, yet it has just about 2% of our population. Yes, you read that right TWO percent. That’s why it seems like you would have to travel a whole lot further than 40 miles to get to a place like this. Yet there it is, right over there.
If you lived in San Francisco, CA you would have to travel nearly 200 miles to find a county with only 10,000 people. Ah, but we don’t live in San Francisco, now do we? From our wonderful locale, we can be at PDX boarding an airplane in ten minutes or so; downtown Portland in 15 minutes… OK a bit longer with traffic of course; and in the amazing Gorge in just a matter of minutes.
Clark County is bordered to the south by the most densely populated urban county in the Pacific Northwest with its population density of 1900 peeps per square mile and to the east by Skamania County the absolute opposite and one of the least dense counties in Northwest with a mere 6.8 persons per square mile. Wow, on average that’s a about 1 person for every 100 acres! In fairness a huge portion of Skamania County is occupied by Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
Ah the ‘Couv’ life; it is good. And we have just the right population density at about 740 per square mile.