X

Airstream Adventures: Hood River

Airstream Adventures in Hood River

written by Kevin Max



From the McKenzie River, we headed to Oregon’s pie filling—Hood River. Cherries, apples, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and rhubarb are abundant in Oregon’s Fruit Loop.

By now, Kristina was miles high on an intercontinental flight home to Stockholm. Into the breach stepped Fiona and Isabel, our teenage daughters.

None of us knew what lay ahead as we drove north to Hood River for the Memorial Day weekend. For once, none of us really cared.

Friends of friends, Megan Davis and Clint Harris, have a horse property in the rolling hills above Hood River. We had mountain bikes in back as we marveled at the bumper-to-bumper stream of vehicles heading the opposite direction to Central Oregon.

By evening, the kids were hungry as we pulled into Parkdale, essentially a small social hub for the surrounding orchardists. There’s a barbeque joint called Apple Valley BBQ and Solera, a brewery with locally sourced food, good IPAs and an outdoor dining area that backs up to views of Mt. Hood.

One thing I’ve learned early on about camping in the Northwest is never assume that you’ll get the spot you want. Sometimes you can luck out, as we did, pulling into narrow gravel driveway opened onto a sprawling grass field and buildings accumulated over years and for different purposes. We parked the trailer on the edge of the horse pasture and began to prepare for our first night of dry camping, or boondocking with no hookups for electricity or water.

A sliver of a moon rose in the black western sky and crowned Mt. Adams to the north and Mt. Hood to the southwest with a halo glow.

My mountain bike was finally in a state of repair that took me to the next level. In the steep terrain in the area, having a functioning back brake was a vital necessity. Last season, I had grown wary of skidding out on my front brake and of the trees coming at me too fast and too close. Nature was reckless that way.

Clint took us out for “a nice little ride” that lasted nearly four hours of steep climbs and descents. We linked together three trails—Eight Mile, Bottle Prairie and Knebal Springs—17 miles and 3,000 feet of climbing. A blackbird perched above this effort would have been amused by the wondrous surroundings and the desperate breathing below. This was apparently enough commotion to dislodge a bear from the underbrush, sending it scampering away downhill.

My lungs bloated to capacity. My legs pickled with lactic acid. My mind locked into the last climb. We finished just after noon, sitting in the back of a pickup truck and plotting our next adventure with a recovery beer. It wasn’t until we were leaving the next day that we discovered that Clint, who finished the ride no worse than he had started it, was on the United States’ national development team in his younger years.

sunlight on the trailmore
Hood river by nightmore
Wilderness Bike Ride. River Crossing on Mountain Bikemore
Airstream Adventures in Hood Rivermore
Mt. Hoodmore
Volleyball with the girlsmore
Swedish pancakesmore

On the way back to camp, we stomped on the brakes for a sign announcing huckleberry shakes. Apple Valley Country Store is where fruit from the area is canned and jarred into amazing finished products. We bought rhubarb-strawberry jam, a rhubarb-jalapeno spread and huckleberry shakes.

For dinner, we all brought something to the communal grill. We dove into tri-tip, flank steak, grilled chicken and salads of every ilk. With dessert came another revelation. Megan is a world-class baker, having come from the founding family of the Grand Central Bakery in Seattle and Portland. She now puts her skills to work in her own Pine Street Bakery in Hood River. Her rhubarb pies were unlike anything I’d ever tasted. The conversation easily changed from thrilling downhill sections of the ride to the pie’s golden crust. Before it came, I made the argument that rhubarb needed a sweet sibling to make for a proper dessert. I happily ate my words.

That night, we slept with all of the windows open. Outside, frogs croaked nonsense up to the quarter moon.

In the morning, we put on our running shoes and headed for the nearby Post Canyon—the trails pulling us into the forest once more before we got back on the road.

We returned just as the rest of the group was finishing a farm-fresh egg scramble and Megan’s fresh scones. Megan had been up early. “No, Dad, you have to try this!” Fiona insisted as I whipped the batter for Swedish pancakes, determined to rise to the challenge and create a conduit for the homemade rhubarb-strawberry jam from Apple Valley Country store.

Cooking breakfast on a gas flame in a Flying Cloud trailer is a beautiful thing, even if your wife is less enthusiastic for your effort. “We don’t want Swedish pancakes,” she crowed. “It’s too much of a hassle.” I continued to whip the batter in defiance. The local jam and granola was a topping that would make us all 10 percent happier, I thought.

Should I top it with whipped cream? “No one eats Swedish pancakes with whipped cream,” she said, the implied “Stupid!” mercifully withheld. She had probably covered that topic too, with her Swedish friend. “Have you ever seen whipped cream at Ikea?” Mmmhmm.

We packed up and wound our way out, Mt. Hood centered on the windshield. There is something different, some connective tissue between the sight of a snow-covered mountain, a soothing blue sky, the saturated green of orchards and the emotional desire to explore, to climb, to hike across a field. To join with the others who have made these journeys during their lives. With each moment, this feeling intensified.

Ground Lamb Kebabs

Yields1 Serving

4 ground lamb kebabs from your butcher
1 lemon
salt and pepper

1

Once marinated and or seasoned with salt and pepper, grill kebabs on hibachi grill for four minutes on each side.

Ingredients

4 ground lamb kebabs from your butcher
1 lemon
salt and pepper

Directions

1

Once marinated and or seasoned with salt and pepper, grill kebabs on hibachi grill for four minutes on each side.

Ground Lamb Kebabs

Wild Mushroom Risotto


Yields1 Serving

9 ½ tbsp butter, divided
1 ½ lbs fresh wild Oregon chanterelle or shitake mushrooms, halved or quartered
7 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
¾ cup finely chopped leek (white and pale green parts only)
1 ¼ cups arborio rice
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup dry white vermouth

1

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add 1/4 of mushrooms and sprinkle with salt.
Sauté mushrooms until tender and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
Transfer mushrooms to medium bowl.
Working in 3 more batches, repeat with 6 tablespoons butter, remaining mushrooms, and salt and pepper.
Bring 7 cups chicken broth to simmer in medium saucepan.
Melt remaining butter with olive oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat.
Add leek, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add rice and increase heat to medium.
Stir until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add white wine and vermouth and stir until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute.
Continue adding broth and stirring.
Stir in sautéed mushrooms until rice is tender and risotto is creamy.
Stir in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
Transfer risotto to serving bowl.

Ingredients

9 ½ tbsp butter, divided
1 ½ lbs fresh wild Oregon chanterelle or shitake mushrooms, halved or quartered
7 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
¾ cup finely chopped leek (white and pale green parts only)
1 ¼ cups arborio rice
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup dry white vermouth

Directions

1

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add 1/4 of mushrooms and sprinkle with salt.
Sauté mushrooms until tender and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
Transfer mushrooms to medium bowl.
Working in 3 more batches, repeat with 6 tablespoons butter, remaining mushrooms, and salt and pepper.
Bring 7 cups chicken broth to simmer in medium saucepan.
Melt remaining butter with olive oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat.
Add leek, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add rice and increase heat to medium.
Stir until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add white wine and vermouth and stir until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute.
Continue adding broth and stirring.
Stir in sautéed mushrooms until rice is tender and risotto is creamy.
Stir in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
Transfer risotto to serving bowl.

Wild Mushroom Risotto

EAT

Pine Street Bakery and Restaurant

Double Mountain Brewery

Brian’s Pourhouse

DRINK

pFriem Brewery

Brian’s Pourhouse

Hood River Distiller’s Tasting Room

PLAY

Mountain Biking any trail network (Post Canyon, Whoopdee, Synline)

Road riding the Historic Columbia River Highway

Windsurfing on the Columbia

Wine tasting along the Fruit Loop and the broader Columbia Gorge AVA

WINE

Red – Cathedral Ridge Necessity Red

White – Memaloose Idiot’s Grace Sauv/Semillon

Bubbles – Analemma Blanc de Noirs Sparkling

BEER

Walking Man Knuckle Dragger IPA

Double Mountain Kolsch

HISTORICAL NOTE

In 1980, thirteen windsurfers tried to surf 20 miles to Hood River. None of them went the distance

because of primitive gear, but it put Hood River on the map as a premier windsurfing capital.

MUST-SEE/MUST- DO

Ride any trails in the Hood River area.

Stop in Pine Street Bakery in the morning.

Hit Double Mountain Brewery for truffle pizza and beer.

NEARBY CAMPING

Bridge RV Park and Campground

Lost Lake Resort

Tucker Park

DOG FRIENDLY N/A

CELL SERVICE

Good in the area, but spotty on trails.


X

Headline

Privacy Settings