30 September, 2016

Being A Portland, Oregon Tourist With Parkinsons, Part 1

St. Josef's Winery

Woman's Forum Viewpoint - Crown Point

Vista House - Crown Point
 I had the pleasure of playing hostess to my host-sister from Finland this last week. I was an exchange student there -- a few years ago :-). I managed finally to get back to Finland four years ago and this year, Maria returned the visit coming to Oregon to see me.

Maria and her fiance, Asko, came a couple of weeks earlier to ride Route 66 on Motorcycles. How cool is that?  While Maria has been to the states before, they hadn't been to the hot, dry, states before (Oklahoma, New Mexico, Nevada, California).
Oregon was a relief with all it's greenness.

They traveled from Chicago to LA on Harley Davidson Motorcycles. At home, near Helsinki, Asko drives a Honda Gullwing and Maria just bought a Honda Shadow. A bit different than Harley's.

Anyhoo, Asko has Parkinson's Disease. He can drive motorcycles, and ride a bike, but has trouble walking far. My traditional Oregon things to show guests involve a lot of walking. We needed to adapt our Oregon Tour.

There was a worldwide Parkinson's Disease Convention here in Portland the weekend they arrived. After picking them up at PDX, we drove to downtown Portland to the convention center and had dinner nearby at the Altabira Roof Top Restaurant. Where we met up with their Parkinson friends - all 14 from Finland! It was a seriously awesome dinner with my non-existent finnish (I've forgotten so much)  and they all tried out their english on me.

I could see the different levels of Parkinsons. Some people had suffered with it for many years (Asko - 19 yrs) and others had the fast evolving type.


There are multiple finnish tour groups coming here to the states to ride motorcycles.
And kitschy Route 66 is a favorite.

Shepherd's Dell Waterfall

 Sunday was our first full day so Maria and I left Asko with my husband while we  went and did some shopping. They hadn't had the chance to buy souvenirs while riding. We live near the Woodburn Outlet Malls and all my European visitors love their brand names.

Being Sunday, there were a few airplanes taking off from our airstrip (to breakfast or wherever) and Asko helped my hubs in the hangar. I should mention Asko has limited english but can understand more. He was happy to have a down day and not go shopping.

Serendipitously,  the nearby winery, St. Josef's was doing their annual grape stomping festival this last weekend.
Maria and I tasted the harvest, took a tour (I was much busier on Instagram this week - RocketGirl50), and bought a couple of bottles as gifts for her mother and for us to drink during the week.

On Monday, we drove up the Columbia River Gorge to Multnomah Falls. This is probably the number one tourist attraction just outside of Portland and it's relatively accessible. We borrowed a folding wheelchair from the senior center just in case and ended up not using it but it was nice to have it just in case.

If you catch the old highway just outside of Troutdale - I think it's exit 22 Corbett -- it's a very scenic drive from the car. First up is the Woman's Forum Viewpoint where you can see up and down the gorge. Very accessible by car with less than 10 steps to view amazing.

Looking west down the gorge, you can see Portland, and looking east up the Columbia, you see Crown Point. Our little jewel on the mighty Columbia.

The highway is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and was blasted out of the rocks lining the gorge to create a picturesque drive. It has suffered periodic landslides and was completely revamped several years ago. It's lined with

We then drove to Vista House at Crown Point. Some stairs, but accessible for Asko. Parking is quite close. Maybe 100 steps to the doors of Vista House. Inside to see all the marble work and art deco architecture.

Along this highway are many year-round waterfalls. Multnomah Falls is the second-highest in the United States but there are three others  that are easily viewed from the parking areas. There are several that need to be hiked into.

First up was Shepherd's Dell. You could do a short hike to the pool or just look from the bridge.
All of these waterfalls have a parking area along the road around each attraction. It's nice to get princess parking, but if you don't, the walking distance  is not great. (finally caught up with my photos on this post.)

Shepherd's Dell Waterfall. We are actually across the road from the falls. We crossed to see way down below some more pools and the gorge view.

Wahkeenah Falls

 Most of Wahkeenah Falls is visible from the road. Very pretty.

My son has hiked up to the upper pool to take really awesome photos in his IG feed. Hiking is available everywhere but on this drive we are focused on the accessibility.

Depending on your princess parking abilities, its 100-200 steps to the bridge. Alternatively, you can let passengers out at the bridge. Most drivers are kind enough to wait if there is traffic.

Wahkeenah Falls. Discussing  fir tree growth. These are like third generation firs. Most of the big ones were cut down a hundred years ago.

 Driving on, we come to Multnomah Falls. This one is tricky. Parking is what it is. If you come via I-84, you have to walk a long ways. Local's secret is to come via the old scenic highway and you get to park nearer. Still - I had to let my passengers out while I waited for a spot to become vacant.

This is where we thought we might need the wheelchair.
Everything is wheelchair accessible up to the first viewpoint.  Including the ramp/walkway from the I-84 parking lot.

Multnomah Lodge is not. The Lodge restaurant is upstairs - which Asko did well on. The gift shop is too crowded for accessibility although they do try. Good thing Asko doesn't like shopping - lol.

I would say the walking from the road's curb to the lower viewpoint is about a football field in length and slightly uphill.

 Late September, the falls are on the thin side.
Multnomah Falls is fed by underground springs as are most of the waterfalls up the gorge.

Multnomah Falls is always crowded with tourists seeking pokemon as my sister noted.

So it's more dodging unsuspecting tourists that makes this difficult to navigate. Asko managed quite well. 

We ate at the Lodge Restaurant which has some beautiful architecture. The Salmon burgers were very good.

Bridge view.
 Maria and I hiked five minutes to get to the bridge spanning the falls. You can go further to a even more up-close viewpoint but that takes a while depending on the amount of tourists trying to push you over  get by you. There are a few bench seats at the lower viewpoint which Asko sat on to wait.

People push strollers up here so it's conceivable that you could push a wheelchair. Not sure I would want to. This short trail has about five switchbacks to help you gain elevation.

Horsetail Falls

 This is one of my faves - Horsetail Falls.
You can jump in over at the sides, you can swim, you can take your shoes off - it's gorgeous. Beautiful.

Horsetail Falls is also right beside the road. Parking is closeby. 100-200 steps to bridge view.

 I'll be back to throw some more traveling with Parkinson's Disease photos at you soon.


  1. It certainly looks like everybody is having fun - I particularly like that picture (5th from the bottom) with the bridge over waterfalls, and also below waterfalls :D

  2. How wonderful he doesn't let Parkinson's stop him from enjoying life! What beautiful scenery!

  3. Thanks for this; my dad had Parkinson's and I wish that there had been the number of opportunities like this available to him before he died.

    1. Keep reading as I go through the week. I had to stretch my brain to come up with accessible activities. Hot air Balloon ride post coming up!

  4. Princess Parking! Makes me smile.


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