Archive for the ‘Washington’ Category

Columbia River Gorge: Hood River Restaurants and Bars

June 15, 2010

Our first night in Hood River, we decided to check out the local haunts, to find out what there is to do in terms of food, drink and fun.

This retro tandem bicycle is suspended over diners at the Sixth Street Bistro, and, according to John, the bartender, it once belonged to Steve McQueen. Now, I know McQueen was a biker, but I thought all of his two-wheelers had motors. If someone knows anything about his pedaling pursuits, please fill me in! Either way, the tandem looks pretty good in the restaurant.

John also turned us on to a fascinating new drink: the Pendleton Nutsqueeze. It’s sort of like a whiskey sour, but with nutty liqueur and a squeeze of lemon. The whiskey is Pendleton, which is a Canadian-style nectar of the gods made in Hood River. Everything about this drink rocks, including the name. 

After a fine dinner at the Sixth Street Bistro (we had Thai Chicken Sate and Red Curry with Tofu–both excellent), we strolled over to Brian’s Pourhouse. We simply had to have one more Nutsqueeze, so we taught Brian’s bartender how to mix it, and pretty soon it was Nutsqueezes all around, including a few guys who were in town for training–on flying military spy drones. Turns out there are several aircraft manufacturers in the area. Here’s the outside of Brian’s Pourhouse: 

We didn’t just eat and drink, of course…there was a lot of hiking and a bit of shopping during the week, and we indulged in Sundari Abhyanga massages at the Bonneville Hotsprings Spa across the Gorge in Washington. But one night, we saw an alluring sign at the Passport Pub & Cafe advertising their Wed. night trivia contest. Nothing could have stopped us from signing up, although our tiny team of two took last place. We did make some friends, though, and hooked up with them later in the week to watch a Portland indie band at a Hood River hotel. Best of all, I discovered–totally by accident–that some Hood Riverians enjoy episodes of Trailer Park Boys–those crazy, dysfunctional, lovable Canadians. My favorite Trailer Park Boy is Bubbles!

Toward the end of the week, we had a sushi dinner at Kaze–they have lots of good noodle dishes, too–and later found ourselves at The Trillium, a cheerful little place with a youngish clientele. Weird Al Yankovic was on the jukebox when we walked in, and by the end of the evening, Rush’s 2112 was blasting over the speakers–by request. At The Trillium, it’s possible to make fast friends with the locals–they’re quite friendly. Plus, the chips and salsa are excellent.

If you need to work off all that food and drink, you can hit the water. Hood River is known, of course, for the wind surfing and sailing. Even on the coldest days of spring, hardy surfers are out there in their wetsuits, ridin’ the breeze:

Columbia River Gorge: Waterfalls and Wineries

June 3, 2010

It looks like a tropical jungle, but it’s right here in the Pacific Northwest: the spring vegetation along the trail at Falls Creek Falls in Carson, Washington. This place feels wild.

Once we approached the halfway mark of the 3.4 mile roundtrip trail, which at times can be a bit treacherous (especially during the rainy season, with its slippery,  narrow paths and steep dropoffs), we began to hear the roar of water, and could see the upper cascade through the trees. Suddenly, the two lower cascades of Falls Creek appeared, almost close enough to touch:

The dizzying drop of the three tiers is about 210 feet in total. Falls Creek Falls can be found 15 miles north of Carson, off Wind River Road on FR 3062.

And if you simply love large cascades of plummeting water, Multnomah Falls, although more populated with tourists, is a not-to-miss gem. With its drop of 620 feet, it’s impressive. But what I enjoyed the most, after hiking about 1.5 miles to the top of the falls, was the trail that heads east–it’s more remote, the scenery is gorgeous, and around every turn is another dramatic view.

But waterfalls are not the only reason to come to the Columbia River Gorge; there are dozens of wineries, many with scenic views of Mt. Hood, that produce high-quality wines. Washington’s Maryhill Winery, across the river and about 15 minutes east of The Dalles, has great wines–try the 2007 Zinfandel Reserve–and terrific scenery from its lovely open-air patio, plus a small amphitheater for concerts. http://www.maryhillwinery.com/ourwine.asp

The vineyards:

and the view:

In the next post, I’ll tell you where to eat and drink in the area surrounding the Columbia River Gorge, especially in Hood River. Meanwhile, here’s a website that will tell you more about waterfalls in the Gorge: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/columbia/forest/