Nestled alongside the Columbia River and the majestic stone cliffs carved through the millennia, Skamania Lodge's 175 acres are a breathtaking venue for golf. Cleaved through towering pines, the 18-hole, par-70 course immerses players in a wilderness inhabited by deer, turtles, geese, raccoons, osprey, and other species striving to steal humanity's golf-cart technology. But the course capitalizes on its native surroundings without undermining its function as a natural ecosystem, earning certification for its sustainable practices from Audubon International.
Still, on the course, the photogenic scenery sometimes seems to pale in comparison to the golf experience itself. Tree-lined fairways, sharp elevation changes, and Columbia gorge winds make accurate shotmaking a must, and water hazards complicate passage on multiple holes. The 14th, for instance, cuts the green off from the fairway with a creek, cradles it from behind with another water hazard, and shifts elevation so fast that it's named "The Waterfall." To help prepare for challenges such as these, golfers can warm up at a practice facility that includes a driving range, a practice bunker, and greens for chipping and putting.
With the Columbia and Willamette Rivers in its backyard and Mount Hood rising from behind a sweeping skyline, Portland boasts stunning views. Determined to give their customers front-row perches to these vistas is Portland Spirit, which launches a cache of brunch, lunch, dinner, and sightseeing cruises that put the city in the forefront.
With a quintet of vessels?Portland Spirit, Williamette Star, Crystal Dolphin, Explorer, and Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler?and myriad private events for guests, Portland Spirit Cruises also customize jaunts for any occasion. The company also operates a trio of terrestrial venues in Marine Park: the Terrace at Thunder Island, the Gorge Pavilion, and Locks Waterfront Grill.
Roots owner and chef Brad Root uses seasonal, natural ingredients to prepare tongue-tapping dishes in an upscale dining environment. Split into three courses, the dinner menu harnesses locally harvested farm products to create deceptively simple dishes. Dive into the first course with Dungeness crab and avocado ($11) topped with vermouth vinaigrette, and then spear a baby-spinach salad with egg, bacon, and cider vinaigrette ($6.95). Main courses inducing mouth-clapping include chicken breast ($16.95) with Yukon Gold potato gnocchi and artichokes, a top-sirloin burger ($11.95) with grilled onions and hand-cut fries, and halibut fish and chips ($14.95) with coleslaw. Roots' lunch menu offers tinier tastes of many of the dinner menu's selections, with crispy fried oysters ($10.95) and a local baby-shrimp salad ($11) summoning sustenance from the world-weary waters of the Pacific. At lunch or at dinner, guests can satisfy grape-teeth with a choice from Roots' impressive list of local and California wines, or sip cocktails from the full bar.