Government Cove, Columbia Gorge, Oregon

Some weeks nothing seems to happen — and other weeks, too much seems to come all at once.

I have wonderful photos from a friend’s Ph.D. celebration on Saturday, and pictures from the visit of an old friend, Terri Fischer and her good buddy Nathan on Sunday, but Monday, I had my first day of a five-day workshop in plein air landscape painting. So of course, those are the photos that must be shown.

The workshop on Monday was at Government Cove, along Interstate 84, east of Cascades Lock. We must have driven by Government Cove innumerable times going east or west on I-84, but I never noticed it. It isn’t marked on the Interstate and isn’t exactly easy to get to, although the highway is obvious from the island. But it’s isolated and so remains a hidden treasure.

The “Cove” is actually the name of an island, connected to the mainland by a causeway, which makes the “cove” water geography. This big rock sits out in the middle of the Mighty Columbia, providing views in all directions.

From the top of the rock, you can see east and west on the Columbia (the photo above looks east) as well as Mt. Hood on the south and Washington State Cascades on the north. The photo below is to the south, where Interstate 84 parallels the river; if the weather cooperated and the camera had the proper lens, you would see Mt. Hood, looming over the scene.

I painted a rather nondescript view (or rather, I painted a rather nondescript painting of a nice view) in the morning, although I had notions about including something striking about the interstate highway. That notion did not turn out as hoped, but at lunch I sat looking toward a bunch of rocks and trees that circled the cove.

I painted a scene which included something like the rocks above as well as the hills and basalt palisade and mountain beyond the rocks. I did not include the wildflowers, which were multitudinous, colorful, and, well, outrageously beautiful:

And I didn’t even get to paint the train whose track runs parallel to I-84 and which, like the 18-wheelers on that highway, are dwarfed by the mountains and river that they follow.

It was a most satisfactory day, to be followed, on Tuesday, by another location high in the mountains on the Washington side of the Gorge. Fear not, though. On Wednesday we get to paint the Portland Industrial Area, a salutary antidote to the high that these Gorge excursions have provided. –June

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