Of a Certain Age – Fun in Hood River

 

Last updated 6/27/2023 at 10:48am

Photo by Sue Stafford

The historic Mt. Hood Railroad offers a fun getaway, not far from Sisters.

Are you looking for a fun getaway not too far from Sisters? I recently had the opportunity for a quick visit to Hood River that was relaxing, entertaining, and educational. My cousin was visiting from Southern California, and I planned a getaway we would both enjoy. She and I grew up together and spent hours riding horses and spending the night together.

We left Sisters at noon on a Wednesday to drive up Highway 26 to Highway 35, which circles the south and east side of Mount Hood. The views are spectacular and the late spring snow on the mountain glistened in the sun.

Cloudless blue skies, stately green forests, the iconic Mount Hood, and the east fork of the Hood River made for a pleasant afternoon drive. As we descended north toward Hood River we entered orchard country, having just missed the bloom time. It was still lovely as we passed apple, pear, and cherry orchards, and vineyards.

As we reached Hood River, we entered a charming hillside town with brightly painted old homes surrounded by beautiful flowering gardens. Our destination was the Inn at the Gorge, a lovely historic inn with lots of character including a large wraparound porch.

The Inn was constructed between 1906 and 1908 and turned into a guest house in 1942 by Stewart Thomas. There is a story about his widow Fanny haunting the house but fortunately we didn't encounter her. In 1985, the Inn at the Gorge opened as a bed and breakfast when windsurfing became popular in the Columbia Gorge. Our room was clean and well-equipped, one of six beautiful guest rooms. Outdoor public spaces include the wraparound porch, back terrace, private backyard, back deck, and hot tub.

We asked for a recommendation for dinner and were directed to Celilo in the heart of downtown. Attentive service, scrumptious dinner, and an outstanding local wine made for a perfect meal. Breakfast is included with the room, and it was a mouthwatering treat served in the inviting dining room.

Thursday morning found us at the historic railroad depot built in 1911 by the OWR & N Railroad to serve Hood River's thriving fruit, timber, and tourist industries. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, the building is now the headquarters for the Mount Hood Railroad. Reservations can be made on their website http://www.mthoodrr.com.

We had reservations on the restored train for the 11:30 a.m. trip leaving from the depot to travel along the east fork of the Hood River, up the valley, through orchards and vineyards, to a renovated cold storage building where tourists can shop from a huge selection of goods, clothing, food stuffs, and gift items. Across the parking lot is the Mt. Hood Winery tasting room where wines can be sampled and purchased.

The onboard conductor, replete in an authentic historic uniform, was entertaining while presenting information on history, Hood River, the orchards, and answering passengers' questions.

Photo by Sue Stafford

All aboard!

After two-and-a-half hours we were back at the depot and enjoyed a great lunch at the 3 Rivers Grill, located in another Hood River historic house.

The views in Hood River are breathtaking, with Mount Hood to the south, and Mount Adams to the north across the Columbia River. There are any number of things to see and do in the Gorge using Hood River as your base camp. Windsurfing, hiking, biking, paddleboarding, exploring the Gorge by car, experiencing the changing landscape from Multnomah Falls eastward past cliffs with waterfalls to open grassland and wildflower prairies. Don't miss the Columbia Gorge Hotel with its 1930s ambience and stunning grounds and views.

Even in one short 24 hours, we felt as if we had been gone much longer.

 

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