On our way to Hood River, Oregon and the gorgeous Mt. Hood. Leaving West Yellowstone and driving west through Idaho and eastern Oregon was a real mind-blower. Either we had become spectacularly lost, or God had a bad case of ADHD when creating these areas. How could the topography change so dramatically every 30 minutes through just a few hundred miles? Had we made a wrong turn? WHERE WERE WE ANYWAY?
Were we in ….. the middle of Nevada?
The woods of Washington State?
The ranchlands of Montana?
The Swiss Alps?
The farmlands of Iowa?
The surface of the Moon?
West of Palm Springs?
Or maybe we were heading to Disneyland and the Matterhorn!!!!?
But no, we arrived at our correct destination: Hood River, Oregon, and the Columbia Gorge. This is a GIGANTIC slash in the Earth that contains hundreds of miles of the Columbia River.
Hood River is charming and outdoorsy, and is known as the outdoor recreation capital of Oregon. Virtually every car has a couple windboards or mountain bikes precariously perched on the roof. In the windier evenings the river is dotted with hundreds of colorful windsurfers and paragliders breezing across the water.
You could easily stay here a week, but we only had a couple days, and so our focus was on the “Fruit Loop.” The Hood County Fruit Loop is 13,800 acres of farms and orchards set beneath the spectacular beauty of Mt. Hood.
A loop road takes you from farm to farm, each one having a stand. I described it to our daughter Sarah and she said, “Oh! Like a 30-mile long farmers’ market!”
YES! That’s exactly it … a 30-mile long farmers’ market!
But first, a morning hike on a relatively-unknown trail called the Handy Little Hike gave us spectacular views of the Fruit Loop valley below.
The Fruit Loop was full of wonderful surprises and delights ….! Fruit and vegetable stands of every size and variety …. cherries in season now and apples and pears coming soon …… pick your own or pre-picked just that day!
An alpaca farm with 2-week old babies and a beautiful shop selling yarn made from their wool!
Lavender farms selling lavender soaps, sachets, oil, cleaning products and more!
Pick-your-own fresh flower farms!
Apple cider brewery with varietal tastings, just like at a winery!
Yummy baked delights of every type … with FREE TASTINGS of everything, just like at Costco!
Jams, jellies, preserves, pie filling, canned fruit and again … more FREE TASTINGS!
Beautiful handmade quilts, aprons, wall hangings, bags and more!
We enjoyed a picnic lunch in one of the orchards and celebrated Sprinkles’ 3rd Birthday.
Of course she got a little cake!
The Fruit Loop isn’t all Mom-N-Pop operations though … it’s serious business.
Everywhere the eye can see are enormous tours of fruit crates for picking and processing.
Look how small the crane is by comparison in the picture below!
In all our travels so far, we have been looking for rare wildlife. But on the Fruit Loop, we found the most rare creature of all … the full-service gas station attendant! Self-service was not even an option! It was a delightful throw back in time. We half expected them to ask if we’d like to pay for our fuel with S&H Green Stamps. (Kids under 30, ask your parents what these are.)
Back in the town of Hood River, we opted for a rare dinner out. I love to cook and Philip loves to grill and we love being in the Lucky Charm, so most meals are made in our rolling “home.” But 3 Rivers Grill was irresistible with its beautiful perch above the rooftops of town!
The warm day called for some frosty mojitos!
Seared scallops with fried polenta and parmesan satueed spinach called our names!
Mike’s Handmade Ice Cream is world-famous and jammed with people at all hours of the day and night! We found out why when we got their Salted Caramel ice cream!
Finally, we retired to our “Perfect Little Spot on the River” with cool breezes and gorgeous views right out our door in Memaloose State Park.
Next up — we head to the coast and our most western AND more northern point of the trip — Chinook, Washington and then the Oregon Coast, where Philip will ride his bike down the entire coast during the course of a week.
The Lucky Charm rolls on!