Heading to The Dalles

The other day, in conversation about a news event, my son asked me why a town was named The Dalles. Why not just Dalles? “What other towns or cities do we know of that start with “The?” he asked. It peaked my curiosity and I discovered only one (though I’m sure there’s more) – The Colony, TX.

His question bothered me until I finally looked it up. I found out it derived from the French word dalle – “flagstone” which referred to the basalt rocks carved along the Columbia River. French-Canadian fur traders traveling on the river in the early 1800s pinpointed that area because the river narrowed and spilled over swiftly moving rapids. Over the years the city was called Dalles, Dalles City (official name) and several other American Indian names but somehow The Dalles stuck and is commonly used today. Sadly, the narrows and the falls disappeared when the present day Dalles Dam was constructed.

Looking toward The Dalles from Washington

A few days later I found myself in The Dalles for a reunion with high school girlfriends. Warmer and drier than Portland, I basked in the sun which has avoided the northwestern area for most of the summer. I enjoyed a tour of the local wine region, cruising the historic portion of town and picking up a few tidbits about Lewis and Clark and the Oregon Trail (like the explorers camped here twice and left land for the speed of the Columbia River).

Lewis & Clark campsite

Mainly, I discovered I would like to revisit when I can really explore – local history, pathways along the river, more wine tasting and crossing the Columbia to the Washington side.

The entire Gorge is an area I’m drawn to again and again. There’s magic in a land that goes from rainforest to desert in a few miles. It’s a place I can disappear into and feel like humans never entered the Industrial Age. In places, I can look out (or up) and still imagine the thrill of Lewis and Clark the first time they laid eyes on this amazing terrain. It’s one of Oregon’s goldmines. It’s wild and diverse. It’s not something a person soon forgets.

Check out more photos of The Dalles in this Flickr Photo Set


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Scott De Jack
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 22:02:43

    Your story-telling is as lovely as your photos! Thanks Lorita for taking me traveling w/ you!! ‘Saves me’ and for several moments- my political blogging takes a far-away back-seat to the natural beauty you bring us………….


  2. Patti McDowell
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 09:31:27

    Love your photos, and stories! Thanks for sharing with us on your journeys…so beautiful!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: