Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hood River

Hood River is crawling with young people who look like a cross between surfer dudes and skateboarders. The explanation is that this is the North American capital of windsurfing on the nearby Columbia River, where the wind tends to blow in a narrow spot of the Columbia River Gorge.

For old farts like us who wouldn't think of pasting a sail to a surfboard to catch the wind in the middle of a river, the resulting culture is a blessing nonetheless. Funky, home to one huge brewery (Full Sail -- get it?) and as many microbreweries as Seattle has Starbucks, Hood River has been overlooked on our previous frequent visits through the area, except for regular stops at the Naked Winery. Naked Winery makes reasonably good wine but comes up with great names for them (Penetration is one).

Anyway, using our GPS device and a BlackBerry, we had booked a last-minute room at the Hood River Hotel, a century-old place that has been remodeled to include central plumbing and heating. It's also one of the cheapest rooms in town (the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel just down river runs $200 a night) and we are relieved that it's clean and comfortable.

Katheen and I like the romantic sound of a distant train whistle as much as the next romantic couple, but listening to the screech of train wheels on trains a half-block away -- well, not so much. This must be why the rooms are so cheap. We adapt, but, golly, trains are loud.

Dinner that night is upscale -- Nora's, recommended by the nice young lady at the Naked Winery. The food is delicious, including some things we can't pronounce. The highlight, however, is a caramel cocktail (yes, caramel). It turns out that you can buy caramel-flavored vodka and turn it into a cocktail. Suhweet.

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