A short but spectacular drive along the Columbia River valley brought us to Memaloose, a campground about an hour east of Portland overlooking the river. The expressway followed the river and the eastern end had steep hillsides full of dry, golden grass. There was just enough space for the expressway and a set of railroad tracks. The land was a big contrast to the blue water of the river. There were few towns and little agriculture, but as we neared the campground, dark green firs dotted the golden hillsides and signs of civilization appeared. We have been wanting to return to the Columbia Gorge since the 1970's, when we galloped through the area, rushing to get home and back to work. Until very recently, we were afraid that this was not going to happen because forest fires had closed the expressway and it just didn't sound like an area you would want to be. But we fooled around long enough further east and recent rains have almost put out the fires and cleared the air. Snow covered Mt. Hood loomed on the horizon, looking like an apparition. We had a wonderful dinner with RV Navigator podcast listeners overlooking the river and they have promised to kidnap us tomorrow to show us as many sights as they can cram into one day. It will be so nice to travel with folks who know where they are going and what there is to see.