4th of July Weekend

First off, I got a new job, which is very exciting, and I think it’s the kind I would like to stay at for the rest of my career, if possible. I won’t get too into detail, but it is a perfect combination of my experience and education, and I really enjoy it so far.

I tell you all of this because it means that the vacation my wife and I planned for July had to be canceled. It’s tough to request time off in your first month of work. Because of that, we tried to take advantage of the three-day weekend. Since we couldn’t go far, we decided to do something fun within driving distance.

Bed and Breakfast

We started out in Hood River, driving out Friday night after work. We stayed at the Inn at the Gorge, a really cool bed and breakfast just southwest of downtown Hood River. I had never stayed at a B&B before, and was frankly a bit resistant, but my worries were put to rest right away. The people who owned the place were very nice and unobtrusive, our room was actually a mini-suite with a sitting room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom with an old-fashioned tub. The breakfasts we had were good, also. On Sunday we had eggs, bacon, fruit, and coffee cake smothered in fresh whipped cream. On Saturday, we went whitewater rafting, so they made us up a bagged breakfast with a hard-boiled egg, yogurt, and a granola bar. I really had a nice time at this place, and would recommend it to anyone.

Whitewater Rafting

Saturday morning we hit the White Salmon River with a whitewater rafting company called Zoller’s. We drove about 25 minutes from Hood River, across the Columbia River, up to BZ Corner, which is north of White Salmon. Since the river water comes right off Mt. Adams, and the temperatures were pretty cool, we all suited up in neoprene to keep warm on the river. I’m afraid I don’t have any pictures of this, since our camera is not water-proof, but we had a lot of fun, and it was really nice out on the water. We were a bit disappointed that we weren’t allowed to go over Husum Falls, which is a 10-foot drop in the river. When the river level is a little lower later in the summer, they take boats up and over, which would be awesome, but it wasn’t to be for us. Still, there was a lot of action to be had on the river, and we would recommend Zoller’s if you’re looking to do it.

Beer Sampling

Beer Sampler at Big Horse Pub

Hood River has by our count 3 brewers in town, so we decided to get a sampler at each of them over the weekend to compare. We began at Big Horse Pub, whose multi-story building towers above town from its hillside location. We had the same problem we have always had there, which is slow or indifferent service. It always feels like there are more customers than the waitstaff can handle. That was the downside. The upside was that we really liked our food and beer. I had a steak with chimichurri sauce and Marisa had really tasty fish and chips. Our beer sampler was interesting, and the bartender (and possible brewmaster?) came over to explain all of the selections, which was nice. The beer was all really well-made, even the types I don’t like, like the raspberry one. There were a variety of flavors, not just variations of the same beer.

Beer Sampler at Double Mountain Brewing

The second stop for us was the one we were most looking forward to, Double Mountain Brewing. I had had their Hop Lava IPA at bars in Portland before, and always enjoyed it. Their beer sampler was also excellent, with real variety in styles and flavors. I also had a type of beer I had never had before, and was really impressed. It was called the “Vaporizer”. It’s yellow and super-light, like a lager, but with a strong hops profile like an IPA. It was easy-sippin’ and really flavorful. We didn’t get a meal there, but their brick-oven pizza looked and smelled fantastic. We really regretted not ordering some when we left.

Beer Sampler at Full Sail Brewery

Finally, we made a late night stop at Full Sail Brewery, the old man of the Hood River brewing scene. We ordered a sampler and some insanely spicy chicken wings. The wings were good, but the sampler was a little disappointing. I appreciate the quality of Full Sail’s beer, but their offerings are surprisingly similar, especially when lined up next to each other. Most of them were a variation of a pale ale, with little effort to differentiate between the choices. I will still purchase their beer, as I believe it is very well-crafted. However, I left the brewery wanting more.

Sunday Rambling

After our delicious breakfast on Sunday (the 4th of July), we headed out toward Mt. Hood, stopping twice along the way. First, at a beautiful lavender farm just south of town. While the scenery was gorgeous and the scents equally so, we couldn’t stay long as our allergies began to act up. Next, we stopped at a fruit company right next to the Hood River (not to be confused with the town). After picking up a jar of cherry syrup, we walked down below a bridge to the river, which was really relaxing. We were only down there for 20 minutes, but it really boosted our spirits for the rest of the day.

After that, it was off to home, via Mt. Hood. The views were phenomenal as we approached the mountain from the east, rolling up Highway 35 toward the summit. We stopped at White River Sno-Park to compare it to what it looks like in the winter, when we went snowshoeing there. We had no idea how gravelly and dusty it is in the summer. The river itself (if you can call it that) was ripping down the mountain, rushing over submerged rocks on its way downhill. We poked around there for a while, and I unsuccessfully tried to cross to the other side.

Beautiful Mt. Hood

What a shot! I am by the stream, on the left.

'I know it's around here somewhere.'

'There it is! Oh, wait....'

The Baseball Game and Fireworks

After we got home in the late afternoon, we headed downtown to see the Portland Beavers play the Las Vegas 51s at PGE Park. As we expected, there weren’t a lot of tickets left, but we managed to get 2nd row seats down by the Beavers’ bullpen in left field. We had a loud, toothless redneck sitting right behind us the entire time, letting us know what was going on down on the field.

“The team needs to get an out here.” Great. Thanks.

After the 6th inning, we got up to get a hot dog, and decided to walk to the other side of the stadium to compare views. We walked down into the beer garden area, which is actually right on the field. As we arrived, a pair of ladies happen to leave their table, and we got their seats. A few minutes later, it dawned on us that everyone else in the section was wearing bracelets and kept getting bowls of peanuts and cans of soda. They paid money to sit down here, and we just sort of walked right in. I would pay to sit there, though. The perspective is really amazing, as you are just a couple dozen feet from the players on the field.

The night was capped off with fireworks, shot high above center field at PGE Park. I’m not a big fireworks fan, but I really liked the show. It was short, intense, loud, and well-timed to the music. And then, on the way home, the real fireworks began: a 6’3″ transvestite mooned us on Burnside. Happy Birthday, America!

Yes, the sun actually came out.

Fireworks above PGE Park

What's baseball without cotton candy?

The view from up high.