Dan and I wanted a mini-moon weekend (Thursday to Monday) getaway after planning three wedding celebrations (Our "official" honeymoon is not until September.)! We were so impressed by our Mt. Rainier trip last September that we decided to pick another Pacific Northwest destination.
With Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack blaring on the speakers of our rental car, we headed east to Hood River. It is located about an hour away from Portland. It's a Friday morning. We arrived in Portland late the night before and stayed at Aloft Cascade Station. The hotel is in a convenient location for us who are just passing through.
First stop, breakfast. I quickly searched on my phone. I found the Bridgeside Restaurant about halfway to Hood River. The restaurant (and the town it was in) was a pleasant surprise.
(Note: The photos are from my 1955 Leica M3 with a 50mm collapsible Summicron and Rolleiflex using Fuji 400H film. There are a few digital photos from my Fuji X-T1 and iPhone processed with Filmborn app. I am a film amateur and this has been a good learning exercise. Sadly, I lost a roll in my Hasselblad, I loaded it backwards! Click/tap on images for full view.)
Open since the sixties, it has been a popular travel stop. Conveniently situated on the Columbia River waterfront, it is also next to the landmark, Bridge of the Gods.
We sat by a window booth with amazing views. The railroad runs alongside the river on the opposite bank. I could sit there and sip coffee all day watching and waiting for the trains to go by.
Starvation Creek Trailhead: Traveling east on I-84, take Exit #55/Starvation Creek State Park and Rest Area (eastbound exit only).
There were three things in my must-do list that I convinced Dan about: waterfalls, wildflowers and fruit farms. Dan has a shorter list: beer.
I found a short waterfall hike on the way to Hood River but somehow, we missed the trail. Still had a nice hike, though and saw the falls from the creek below. What made this special was that we were the only ones there.
We skipped Multnomah Falls, the famous waterfall on the Oregon side of the gorge. It would be too crowded for this time of the year. A couple we met later at the lodge confirmed this and they, too, preferred the hikes to the less popular spots instead.
Oregon has so many things to offer and choosing a destination was a difficult task. We had one clear requirement, though. We didn't want to drive too far. Hood River was one of the options closest to the city and it had a lot of the things we love: mountains, waterfront, farmlands and, breweries. I found a farmstay lodge there while browsing PDX Monthly that's perfect for the kind of mini - vacation we wanted.
I've had a great deal of luck in finding the most gorgeous and (relatively) unique places to stay. This one is not an exception. I love every detail of the place, down to the toilet seat warmer (yes, reminiscent of the toilet bowls in the airports in Japan).
We woke up to the the majestic views of Mt Hood from our bedroom window. Our room also opens to a private patio garden. We were free to roam the orchards, garden beds and watch the goats, lamb and chickens in their pens.
Then, there's adorable Oscar, the ADHD farm cat who's always trying to slip through our sliding door and sneak under our rental car every time we approach the driveway.
ACTIVITIES: TravelOregon.com has a good list of fun things to do there.
THE FRUIT LOOP DRIVE
It's a scenic 35-mile loop of orchards and farmlands. We were there in shoulder season (end of May). The tree bloom finished and just begun growing fruit and the lavender flowers are not out yet. Yet, the farms are still worth a visit.
WINERIES and VINEYARDS: Hood Crest Winery. We had lunch there. I'm not much of a wine drinker, I prefer beer. I only have two requirements for a good wine: no splitting headache the next day and no lip stain. Their wine gave me neither so it passed my QC. Phelps Creek is another vineyard close to our lodge that we didn't have time to visit but I heard good things.
LAVENDER FARM: Not in bloom yet but they have wildflowers. I saw gorgeous Iceland poppies, too. I've never seen one up close before although I've admired them on photo books (Irving Penn's Flowers). They're my new favorite!
ALPACA FARM: A little disappointed that their shop is mostly outsourced products (I wish I got the yarn in Patagonia, was so much cheaper) but the smile on the alpaca faces made up for it.
Another scenic town east of Hood River known for their wildflower hikes, we set off to Tom McCall Nature Preserve and Rowena Plateau for the afternoon. The lupine blooms are almost gone but there are other things to see. Found out later, pants are a must due to poison oak and ticks.
DIRECTIONS: 10 minutes east from Hood River, on I-84E.
HIKE: Tom McCall Nature Preserve starting at Rowena Crest trailhead. Open May 1st - October 31st.
CIDER at Mosier: Rack & Cloth. Recommended by a local we met at Pfriem.
ICE CREAM: Route 30 Ice Cream Parlor
SHOP: The Dwelling Station. Accidental find while looking for a restroom. I love this home store! They have so many unique pieces (that I cannot fit in my carry-on).
The hipster capital of the United States. We didn't have a good first impression but it got better as the day went by. Brewery stops certainly help. We saw only a tiny part of the city in such a limited time. We weren't there long enough to feel the vibe that so many others who yearn to move there have been intoxicated with. Maybe, in another time.
PORTLAND JAPANESE AND ROSE GARDEN. Use public transport to avoid parking hassles. The gardens are beautiful but also swarming with people and selfie sticks. A weekday, mid-day visit would have made a big difference.
We went to two breweries, I don't remember the names.
RESTAURANT: Dan and Louis Oyster Bar for lunch.
ON USING FILM (Update)
I carried more cameras on this trip than any other: 3 film cameras and one digital! I'm still in the process of finding the right tool(s) that works best for me so I brought them to check which ones has the best handling and image quality. I love the output from the Hasselblad but I'm still not over how I loaded it backwards and got an empty roll (even woke up for sunrise to shoot the scenery in that lost roll)!
I don't like the focusing screen on the Rolleiflex and this trip made me finally decide to sell it. The Leica M3 has always been a joy to use but the images are a little mushy. The black & white rolls I've run through it come out a lot better than in color. I'm keeping the collapsible Summicron lens just because I'm attached to it but I'm adding a Zeiss ZM Sonnar. I just love how Zeiss glass renders and I'm hoping this new addition won't disappoint. Next practice session for my toys: New Orleans next month!
(Note: Last photo above is a double exposure of the oyster place and of the airport tower. My M3 has been quirky and would sometimes do double exposures at the end of the roll. It is in a dire need of CLA but I've been putting it off...)