Tag Archive | Hood River Oregon

July 2016: Hood River

After our amazing rafting trip, my aunt, uncle, cousin and I camped on a sustainable practices organic farm.  There were chickens, turkeys, horses and pigs.  The farm had views of both Mount Adams and Mount Hood, and other than the sound of the irrigation ditch, it was really quiet out there.

The next morning, we packed up the tent and my aunt and uncle’s trailer and went to Hood River, Oregon to check out the town.  We watched people parasailing on the Columbia River.  We wandered the main streets and checked out the shops.  We went into two wineries too.

 

Paddle Wheel River Boats on the Columbia River

Paddle Wheel River Boats on the Columbia River

 

What's up with the weirdo on the cell phone?

What’s up with the weirdo on the cell phone?

The first was Cascade Cliffs Winery.   Our server was very friendly, and she served us some fantastic wines.  She explained that the logo for the winery is a petroglyph that was discovered on the vineyard property.  I bought the 2014 Dolcetto and the 2015 Symphony white blend there.  I haven’t had them yet, but I might have to open one soon!

After Cascade Cliffs, we headed over to Naked Winery. Naked Winery was a fun and lively place; there was certainly a young hip vibe going on there. The focus seemed less on the quality of the wines and more on the “curb appeal.” The wines all have fun, sexy names, and the logo of the winery is a naked woman. I purchased a great sparkling wine there, and a bottle of their Wanderlust White. It comes in a plastic, lightweight bottle that is perfect for taking on a hiking trip!  I also got a bottle of their Frisky Sparkling Wine, which was pretty good!

The tasting menu at Naked Winery

The tasting menu at Naked Winery

My aunt and I had fun at both wineries, and my uncle was a trooper, even though it isn’t really his thing. After wine tasting, we headed over to the Three River’s Grill. I had the fish tacos, and they were absolutely delicious. The view was amazing too – we got to watch more para-sailors (is this the right word for people who are parasailing?) out on the water from our table on the deck.  I would absolutely love to go back there on another gorgeous summer day and watch the view on the water.  It was really relaxing.

We made one last stop before we got back on the road to head our separate ways. We made a stop at the Bonneville Dam and Fish Hatchery. The Hatchery has some adult White Sturgeon that visitors can see. They are big fish! White Sturgeon can grow to be 20 feet long are the third largest sturgeon species.  Unfortunately, populations of sturgeon on the Columbia River are not abundant, because the dams have inhibited their ability to migrate freely.

I also saw some lamprey, which have sucker mouths to attach to things; they really like to stick on the glass in the underwater viewing area. They were interesting to see, but apparently they are nuisance fish.  And of course, I also saw lots of different kinds of salmon and trout.  They have a pond at the hatchery where you can buy fish food for 50 cents and feed the salmon – they all come up to the surface like they haven’t eaten in days!  Even though you just fed them 10 seconds ago.  But hey, my cats are like that too…

And then, too soon, it was time for my long drive home…

President’s Day Weekend – Part 3 – The Used Car Salesman of Wine!

In our last installment, we stayed overnight in in Hood River and did a little shopping in the downtown area in the morning…  Just before noon, we headed out to check out a few Hood River wineries. We decided to give Marchesi Vineyards a try – Jon found Marchesi on the internet, and it was also recommended by our server at The Pines the night before.  They focus on the Italian varietals, which tend to be less robust/tannic reds, so I was pretty excited about our visit. Little did we know we would meet the used car salesman of wineries!

Our server was a younger woman who was very pleasant – she guided us through our tasting cheerfully. But shortly after we arrived, an older, bald gentleman started working the room. At first, Jon and I thought that he was the owner the way he was chatting everybody up and seemed to know them, but as we listened, it became clear that he wasn’t, because he kept talking about Franco Marchesi, who is the owner. He talked to us for a couple of minutes, telling how this wine and that one won awards(!), but never offering any details about the wine, or the award for that matter. After a few moments, he went back to working the room, and that’s when we began to marvel at his ability to sell a wine club membership. Of the more than half dozen couples in the room, it seemed that we were the only ones who weren’t signing up for a wine club membership! So we sat and continued with our tasting, watching the master-schmoozer work his magic. He did come back over and tell me about it, and I told him politely thanks, and that we would consider it.

Marchesi Vineyards Tasting Room

Once we finished up with our tasting, the woman server came over and asked us if there was anything else we would like to revisit or try, so I asked if I could try the Pinot Noir that I had seen on the counter and on the tasting menu. She cheerfully brought some over and poured some in my glass – meanwhile Jon revisited the Sangiovese.  Then Mr. Schmoozer came back over and asked us what we were trying, so I told him that I was trying the Pinot.

You would have thought I just told him that I had just given meth to a baby! He blurted out, “The Pinot is only for wine club members! That side of the tasting menu is for our wine club members!” He spent a few more minutes mumbling indignantly (I love that word) about the wine club and then huffed off, disgusted that we, mere mortal non-wine club members, had somehow managed to finagle a taste of the coveted Pinot. After he left, I turned to Jon and told him that I felt that was pretty insulting, and certainly not gracious. The Pinot was on the menu, given to everybody, and open in plain view on the counter. What a jerk! Unfortunately, our experience couldn’t be salvaged after that. I did like their wines, although I didn’t think they were spectacular, but life is too short to be treated poorly just because you don’t want to join the club.

The one good thing about the experience was that Jon and I will have plenty of laughs about Mr. Schmoozer, well into the future. “What?!? You don’t want to join the wine club? Do you know that these are award winning wines? They won awards! You can’t have that Pinot!  Don’t touch that glass!  You are not worthy!”  Hmmm… I didn’t think that kind of pretentiousness existed outside of Napa, but I guess I was wrong.

After our snub at Marchesi, we headed a couple miles down the road to Cathedral Ridge. We were there a couple of years ago, and absolutely loved their Halbtrocken, a Rose that has a proprietary blend (although the tasting room server did tell us it is Riesling based). The Halbtrocken did not disappoint again, tasting like fresh strawberries. This is a perfect wine for enjoying on the deck on a hot summer day. Unlike our experience at Marchesi, the Cathedral Ridge staff do not push sales or the wine club, letting their wines stand on their own. I also was pretty excited to learn that they recently opened a second tasting room in Dundee, Oregon, which is often easier for Jon and I to get to. Maybe now I won’t have to go so long without the Halbtrocken!

Cathedral Ridge Winery

The Awesome Photo Print in the Cathedral Ridge Ladies Room

We left Cathedral Ridge and headed west towards the Willamette Valley, stopping in Troutdale to visit the McMenamin’s Edgefield Inn. The Edgefield used to be the Multnomah County Poor Farm – it was built in 1911 and was where destitute people could go and live if they didn’t have the money to support themselves. In 1963, it became a nursing home and the farm operations were discontinued at that time.  It closed completely in 1982 and fell into disrepair. It was purchased in 1990 and restored by McMenamin’s and is now a hotel complex with a unique, eccentric flavor. The hotel has about 100 rooms, most of which do not have private bathrooms. There is a restaurant, a winery, a brewpub, a pool hall and in the summer they have an outdoor movie theater and picnic area. They also do concerts there in the summer, with fairly well known northwest area bands.

McMenamin’s Edgefield Inn

It looks like it would be a fun place to stay, but book early, because it seems to book up far in advance, especially if you want a private bathroom. We had lunch in one of the bars, and I really enjoyed my chicken sandwich with bacon and avocado. Jon had a salmon salad, and liked it a lot, although it wasn’t a big enough meal for him. We both had hot tea, which was loose leaf, and delicious (I had the Black Mango). It was raining off and on, and cold, so we didn’t do much exploring of the grounds, but it would be a neat place to stay or visit in the summer. I haven’t seen the rooms, but I do imagine it might not be the quietest hotel to stay at though – bring earplugs.

The Fountain at the Edgefield Inn

After our late lunch we got back on the road and headed over to the Willamette Valley. I realized as we were planning this trip that we have not been there since Memorial Day weekend 2011, which is a lot longer than I was thinking it had been. By this time, it was evening, so we headed to the La Quinta for a nice relaxing evening.  After dinner and getting settled, I stayed up late after Jon fell asleep, watching “In Her Shoes,” with Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz. It had been a couple of years since I had seen it, and I enjoyed it all over again – I think Toni Collette is a great actress.  It was a perfect end to a great day.

President’s Day Weekend – Part 2 – The Hood River Railroad in My Room!

In the last installment, Jon and I traveled through Yakima and Goldendale on the way to Hood River….

Once we got to Hood River, we found our home for the night, the Hood River Hotel. It is a historic hotel on the National Register of Historic Places, and began its life in 1881 as the Mount Hood Hotel, a wooden structure in the other half of the block where the current hotel is now. The brick building that exists today was built in 1912 – the original wooden part of the hotel was torn down in the early 1930s. The hotel fell into disrepair over the years, but fortunately, someone saw the value in this beautiful old building.  It was restored in the 1980s, maintaining the historic features of the hotel.

This year is the hotel’s 100 year anniversary (although the original building that was torn down was older), and they are doing specials to celebrate.  Any room for $100 – even suites!  We checked in and found our room – we even got a real key – when was the last time you got a real key!? The room was a suite – kind of the extended stay room of a hundred years ago – with a full kitchen, sitting area and walk-in closet. The bathroom and kitchen were a bit dated, but that goes with the territory at a historic hotel. It even had radiators!

Hood River Hotel Lobby

We didn’t stick around for too long though, because we wanted to get a bite to eat and see a little bit of town. We headed over to The Pines, a tasting room downtown. I went for the tasting and Jon had a glass of their Syrah. I enjoyed the wines I tried, with Jon’s Syrah being my least favorite. Jon tried each of the wines I had, and he loved their Old World Zinfandel, from vines planted in the late 1800s. Our server gave us some recommendations for dinner, and we headed over to Brian’s Pourhouse, several blocks up the street. Getting there was a challenge, because the rain was coming down in sheets at that point. Reading the street signs as we walked up the hill was difficult, but we made it there. Brian’s Pourhouse looks fancy when you enter, and the menu has several higher priced entrees to choose from. However, they also have very reasonably priced meals, including the Philly cheesesteak I had and the fish tacos that Jon tried. We also had an appetizer of mussels cooked in a coconut milk sauce. Everything was delicious! But the walk home was only easier because it was downhill – it was still dumping sheets of rain…

Brian's Pourhouse Restaurant (in the "pouring" rain)

Back at the hotel, I discovered that the hotel being close to the train tracks was about to become a BIG drawback. Jon had called in our reservation rather than booking over the internet so he could ask specifically about the train for me, because we had read about it in reviews of the hotel. We were assured that it would not be a problem. Well, it was. A big problem. I did not get much sleep with the trains coming by frequently all night long. I didn’t time them, but I would guess they came by every half hour.  It didn’t help that right before bed, Jon started telling me about how the hotel was haunted, and that he had read about it online.  I knew he was joking, but it still weirded me out…  Jon managed to sleep through several of the trains (lucky bum!), but did wake up at times. Saturday morning came too early…. As much as I loved the history and the character of the Hood River Hotel, I don’t think we’ll be staying there again – the trains were just too much. Each room comes with a $10 credit for breakfast at the hotel restaurant though, and the breakfast was excellent!

Room 106 at the Hood River Hotel

Our Stylish Kitchen at the Hood River Hotel

Cornerstone Restaurant at the Hood River Hotel

After breakfast, we wandered around Hood River for a little while, checking out the shops and art galleries. We found a little shoe shop that had some sale shoes, and Jon and I each found a pair that we liked.  We enjoyed wandering around, and could have stayed a lot longer, but soon, it was time to get back on the road.  In my next post, I’ll fill you in on the used car salesman of wine!