Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Columbia River Gorge Guide Part 1

All day and all night, the sounds of trains—steel wheels along steel tracks, whistles loud and warning—fill the soundscape of the Columbia River Gorge, a little section of the Pacific Northwest at the border of Oregon and Washington. With its big skies and evergreen trees, framed by two enormous volcanos – Mt Hood and Mt. Adams, and a virile River—the Columbia—it’s one of those almost mythic Western locales that look almost too postcard-like to be real.

Hood River, the area’s epicenter, boasts some of the best wind surfing in the country and Mount Hood has snow all year long (read four season skiing and snowboarding), making it a sports-enthusiast’s mecca. But if you’re like me, taken more with reading and eating then careening across a river or down a mounatin, there is still plenty to enjoy. Like a brew pub/movie theater, a knitting shop, multiple cafes, wineries, and more than a few kid-friendly activities.

Things to do:

Drink Copious Amounts of Coffee
God, I love the Northwest. Even the gas stations sell espresso and cappucino and the tiniest towns sport drive-through latte shacks.

Dog River Coffee
Fantastic coffee, big couches, free WiFi and a big basket of toys for the wee ones.
411 Oak Street Hood River OR

Grounds Espresso
Great breakfast sandwiches for under $4, decent coffee, free wifi, it's the working cafe of choice for Steve and I during our stays.
166 East Jewett, White Salmon, WA

Fresh, local produce and a growing Mexican population means delicious food and reasonable prices throughout the Gorge.  (As I visit more restaurants, I'll update the site.)
El Riconcito Burritos
Huge, San Francisco style burritos, complete with rice and shredded cabbage – the only way to eat them.
Hood River. 541 386-9435

Skylight Theatre & Pub
Decent pizza, fantastic beer, plus a toddler play area, which means you can drink your Ice Ax Lager in peace. And for those without children, or with a babysitter, you can eat your pizza and drink your beer in the movie theater which features first run movies and ledges in front of all seat -- to hold your meal, of course.
109 Oak St, Hood River, OR
13 mi N - (541) 386-4888

The area is home to both small wineries and excellent breweries.  Keep checking back for more reviews.

Mt Hood Brew Company
To me, there are no kinder words in the English language than “family-style pub.” The Mt. Hood Brewery, located at 4000 ft., makes a great day trip, with an apres hike or nap to sober up before driving down the mountain.
87304 E. Government Camp Loop, Government Camp, Oregon 97028. 503-622-0724

Check out nearby the Dalles for two great thriftstores (read: cowboy boots and great vintage finds) and a decidely Western vibe. The Salvation Army 623 E 3rd St The Dalles
St. Vincent de Paul. 505 West 9th Street The Dalles

Hood River Hotel
Right in town, this super-quaint hotel is relatively inexpensive and boasts a busteling lobby with live bands and a decent bar. 102 Oak Avenue, Hood River, Oregon 97031, Phone: 541-386-1900, Toll Free: 800-386-1859?Fax: 541-386-6090

1 comment:

  1. Aw, no way! Lorraine and I just returned from Oregon. I had a play workshop in Portland and we spend a couple of days on the amazing coastline, in Neskowin. It's so beautiful and the coffee is indeed great! Even the free hotel coffee left out in thermoses with non-dairy creamer is delicious. Watch out for road rage from hyperaggressive, pick-up truck-driving rednecks, though - quite a culture shock after the extreme courtesy one finds in Portland.