Mel’s sidenotes: So they do have mountains…

Volunteers are great.. We don’t have that concept (at least not that extensively) in Germany, but here, you’ll find them everywhere. In museums, state parks, animal shelters, you cannot avoid them.

When we stopped at Vista House, one of the first significant view points entering the Columbia River Gorge on Historic US 30, we intended to simply grab a map to make sure we didn’t miss out on any waterfalls. But there’s no escape if helpful volunteers are present. “Yes, you cannot miss the waterfalls and there are parking areas everywhere. How far do you want to go today? Oh, then take exit 62 and that will take you through historic Hood River, they have a really cute old town center. You only have to get back to your hotel? Then you absolutely have to do the Mt. Hood Loop. And you want to stop at Timberline Ridge for the view. And here’s a map of the Fruit Loop you’re taking. Where are you from? Germany? Oooh, I’ve been there, too…[insert some small talk here] Tschuess and have a great day.”

[There’s a simple truth about 95% of all volunteers: they all have been to Germany at some point in time. Has entire America joined the army and have been stationed in Germany? Honestly, either those guys are only sent to Germany for a week of sightseeing or the American Army is hiding them all!]

Since the nice volunteer wouldn’t accept a no for an answer and didn’t give much about our warning that we had back luck with mountains so far and that most likely an unpredicted blizzard will hit Mt. Hood if we try to look at it, we took the Mt. Hood loop. And guess what: Mt. Hood was not out for maintenance. And the others – St. Helens, Rainier and Baker were also back… And we had sun all the way back to the hotel!

So: thank you so much, unknown volunteer! You really made our day.

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