Friday, May 30, 2014

Somewhere Far, But Not.
Horsethief State Park, Dallesport WA

Not too long ago, a friend emailed asking if I wanted to go “somewhere far, but not.” I was charmed by her poetically phrased request. Plus, I was still recovering from a head cold and she had a sore foot. So an afternoon of low-impact sightseeing seemed like just the cure for what ailed us.

Horsethief Lake

I suggested Hwy. 14 – on which I seem to have a perpetual summer crush.  It’s a scenic, gently rolling two-lane road with good views of the Columbia River.  

In fact, according to certain guidebooks, Hwy. 14 is also visually more representative of how Lewis and Clark might have seen things, as opposed to Hwy. 84, its busy big sister on the Oregon side of the river. (A nice thought – except that Lewis and Clark were in dug-out canoes, not humming along in a Honda CRV at 60 MPH. But I digress…) 

Regardless, Hwy. 14 seemed to fit the bill of “somewhere far, but not.”

Looming basalt buttes at Horsethief Lake State Park

So we hit the road and headed east for about 90 miles. It never ceases to amaze me how driving east from Portland for just over an hour puts you into a totally different environment: warm, dry breezes; clear, cloudless skies; and high desert vistas. The cool, damp, densely forested feel of Portland seemed worlds away.

We clambered out of the car at Horsethief Lake State Park in Dallesport, WA – a happy accident, since we were attracted by the park’s Wild West name and knew nothing about the place itself. 

Pictographs (look closely) at Horsethief Lake State Park

Turns out we were thrilled to discover this gem of a park, with its striking views of black basalt buttes, a lake perfect for a quick dunk on a hot summer afternoon, plus several impressive Native American pictographs, which can be viewed from a very accessible path.

All this for an easy, scenic drive less than 100 miles from Portland.

Indeed, we had found our “somewhere far, but not” spot.  

Horsethief Lake State Park
Dallesport, WA