Sunday morning we had to pick up and head out of Portland. Our plan was to head to Hood River and spend the remaining few days of our vacation camping in the heat.
We had to be out of the apartment no later than 11:00, so we slept in a little bit, and spent the late morning organizing our stuff, and getting the car packed up. It was probably 10:00 but the time we got all sorted and on the road.
We decided to head down to the hotel we have stayed at when we’ve been in Portland in the past, as they have a great little diner that serves a good breakfast for relatively cheap. The city was pretty quiet, and we ended up with a parking spot right out front and had some breakfast. From there, we crossed the bridge and headed east, out fo town. As we normally do, we made a short stop at Costco for gas and some supplies, before heading out to Hood River.
Justine introduced me to Hood River just after we started dating, and we’ve been coming down here ever since, almost every year. We missed last year as we went to Bend instead, but it’s interesting that of the huge group of people that used to come down here all the time, we’re the only ones that still seem to come down here. We really like it - the river, the farms and orchards, the breweries and wineries, and the little town itself. It’s a fun place to be.
We always camp at the same campground - Tucker Park - just south of Hood River. Honestly, it’s not much to write home about, but it’s relatively cheap, and we’ve never had a problem getting a site. It’s gotten better over the years, and they seem to be taking better care of the place. It’s right on an arm of the Hood River, a glacier stream that runs down off the mountain.
On the way to Hood River, we passed through the devastation of the Eagle Creek fires from last year. This was a huge forest fire set off by some jackass kid that thought that fireworks in a tinder-dry forest in September was a good idea. The fire burned 50,000 acres and burned for 3 months. It detroyed a series of trails that Justine and I have hiked many times, and are still not open almost a year later. Crews have been working to repair the trails, but it might be years before that happens.
We were a bit nervous about how we’d feel seeing it, and it was rough seeing the fire right down to the highway. The "good" news is that the trail teams seem to think that the burn was a healthy one for the forest, so if you’re looking for a "glass half full" moment, that’s it. That said, if you want a horrific look at how fast a forest fire spreads, have a look at this timelapse on YouTube.
After passing through the burn area, we pulled into Cascade Locks and stopped at Thunder Island Brewery for a beer. It might have the best patio of any, overlooking the Columbia River and the Bridge of the Gods bridge. It’s pretty nice. So that made it close to 4:00 by the time we got to the campground.
The good news about coming out on a Sunday afternoon was that the campground was very quiet, and we had our choice of spots. So we picked one right along the river. It is so nice - lots of oak trees for shade, and the constant rush of water for background noise. We got camp set-up, and went off to explore the river a little bit. Being glacial, it’s freezing, but nice to get your feet in and cool off in the excessive heat of the day.
Eventully we headed back into town and picked up groceries for the next few days, including food for dinner that night. The BBQ gets lots of use when we’re camping, and we had nice steaks, some salad and a bottle of wine to make a nice night of it. The only downside to the whole affair was the complete for ban that meant we couldn’t have a campfire - a first for us at Tucker Park.
We stayed up late drinking wine and playing cards, then went to sleep in the tent (no fly) and the sound of the river to usher us off to sleep.