May 9

May 9, 2021 – Government Camp, WA to Mesa, WA

After spending the night in a rather crowded parking lot, which was surprisingly quiet and peaceful, I walked around for just a little bit to stretch our legs before we drove around Mount Hood. Here’s the “campground” I stayed at:

I really don’t want to say anything negative about where I parked overnight. No, it wasn’t a private campsite next to a sparkling stream that I had all to myself like I’ve gotten used to, but it was safe and free. Any safe, quiet, and free place that allows overnight parking is just fine in my book. In fact, as I reenter civilization I will likely utilize rest areas and truck stops much more often, so I’m not averse to parking in a lot overnight. It sure beats all the “no overnight parking” signs that are much, much more common.

Unlike the Cascades, Mount Rainier, and Mount Saint Helens, there was really no way to drive up Mount Hood, at least not this time of year. Instead, I had to drive around it.

The trip towards Mount Hood was a pretty one, but if I had to do it all over again, I’d enter Mount Rainier from the East side (traveling West) during the daytime and when it’s not rainy/cloudy. It could have been the rain and cloud cover obscuring my view on the other side of the mountain, but I found the best views were after I had already passed it, mostly in my rearview mirror.

I did come in the evening before on another angle from the east, but I think the views would have still been obscured from the rain.

I had to pull over to snap these pictures. The pictures never do the views justice, but it really is a very impressive mountain to look at. I just love the white caps.

Zoomed in a bit.

What I really enjoyed eve more than driving Mount Hood was the remainder of my drive. The terrain turns into these amazing rolling hills that just seem like they are from a different planet.

Here’s a scenic overlook area I stopped at. I’m taking the picture from Washington State, but just across that river is Oregon.

Here’s a little video I took from there.

I gave a little commentary in this video, as I had realized this was another “looking through the hourglass” moment.

I was very happy when I arrived at the Ringold Springs campground in Mesa, WA. This state just has the best free & remote places to camp and they are abundant across the state. There were a bunch of negative reviews about this campground because the bugs apparently get unbearable in the summer, but I think I got here right before the bugs start taking over. Without that issue, this place was fantastic. I got to park right on the Columbia River.

Video of my spot.

Panning the river.

Doing some exploring.

I ended up finding the dam, which was in the opposite direction as I thought.

Some videos of the dam.

As the sun started to set, I heard these coyotes or possibly wolves? Cooper took notice.

I really, really like this place. This is my kind of campground.

We took the route on 97 (Google Maps is being difficult).

Some highlights from the drive.