Selasa, 29 Mei 2012

Jalan dengan pemandangan terindah di dunia

You can drive two of the world’s most scenic roads – in two days, in Oregon.
Oregon is a state that has everything California and Washington states have – ocean, rainforests, mountains and flower displays – but feels somehow cozier and more user-friendly, perhaps due to the more laid-back attitude of those who live there.
It takes guts to live under the shadow of the most active volcano in the Pacific Northwest (info) and on top of a dozen wicked earthquake faults (each similar to the one that just terrorized China). But it also takes a certain appreciation and disposition to enjoy the beauty while it lasts – to “smell the roses”, so plentiful in Portland and area.
Last week I had the privilege to drive the Oregon state’s two most beautiful roads – easily among the most beautiful roads in the world, at the best time to visit them: late spring, when the weather (sometimes) is very good, everything blooms and the crowds are non-existent.

“Bridge to Terabithia” screenshot, Walt Disney Pictures, site
Let’s start with:
Columbia Gorge Historic Highway 30
If you’ve seen the movie “Bridge to Terabithia”, you might remember how the magic kingdom of Terabithia looks: a wondrous mountain river gorge, framed by the mighty waterfalls, a river leisurely flowing toward the distant ocean. Well, you might be surprised to discover that a part of Columbia Gorge (from Hood River to Troutdale) almost fits the above description.

If you coming to Portland from the east, you can stay overnight in the Dalles (home of the mysterious Google “server farms” – and hit the north side of the gorge in the morning (passing the quaint windy town of Stevenson, WA – and perhaps even hiking to the top of the Beacon Rock. The hike is surprisingly doable, considering how imposing it looks). The transition from high desert to temperate rainforests is nothing short of epic. Every single mile brings a change in eco-systems and vegetation.
The drive through the Columbia Gorge wine country is relaxing, perhaps too much so (make arrangements to visit some wineries). But don’t allow yourself to get sidetracked – your adventure is only starting.

(image credit: Thad Roan)
The best part of the drive starts at the Bridge of the Gods (interesting enough to be included into our “Hall of Fame” of bridges) – make sure to cross the river to the Oregon side again and continue west on the interstate, until you come to the Historic Highway 30 turnoff.
The Biggest Concentration of Waterfalls
…awaits you on that winding, enchanting piece of road (once considered a pinnacle of road engineering). Every waterfall is unique, imposing and simply serene (no picture can ever give them justice, even though there are plenty of Multnomah Fallspostcards going around). Each waterfall sits in the lush forest amphitheater, surrounded by gigantic cliffs and fanciful eroded stone.

Horsetail Waterfall & Shepperd’s Dell rocks

Note how the spread of lichen on the right also “emulates” waterfall…
Multnomah Falls is the second-tallest waterfall in the nation (Yosemite Falls in California is the tallest) – with undeniable artistic (almost Old World) charm:
Spring is the best time to visit, to avoid crowds and to catch the brilliant-fresh vegetation. Be prepared to be greeted by the “Tunnel of Trees”:
The Historic Columbia River Highway was built in 1913-1922 with multitude of bridges over the dizzying chasms. Over the years it was often called “The King of Roads”:

Shepperd’s Dell falls