Wednesday was our last full day in Hood River, as we had decided to make the drive home on Thursday. We wanted to get one more road ride in, and decided on our other usual route, the "Fruit Loop" We followed up our ride with some great food and relaxing in a few of the breweries down near the water in Hood River.
We were up fairly early, and headed out for our longest ride of the trip. The smoke was really starting to roll in, and for the first time ever, you could not see any mountains from Hood River. The ride itself is pretty great - lots fo climbing, lots of descending, and normally some great views of Mount Hood. Sadly, this time there were no mountain views. The ride does take you out, as the name suggests, through miles and miles of orchards.
At the end of the normal loop, I extended the ride for another 6-7 km, in order to punch the total ride up over the 50 km mark. Along the way I found a new winery for us to check out.
After the ride, we took a beer and walked across a series of downed trees to the other side of the river. It gave access to a nice little spot where we could sit in a calmer part of the river. We cooled off, splashed about and I even went all the way in, into the frigid, glacier-fed river. It was very refreshing and enjoyable.
After a bit, we headed back to the campsite and got cleaned up to head into town. ON my extended ride that morning, I went past Hood Crest Winery. It looked really nice, so I suggested we stop there on the way into town. It was pretty quiet (we had the place to ourselves), but the bartender was friendly, and we chatted for a bit while we tasted wines.
We liked the wine enough that we bought a couple of bottles to take home. From there, it was back into Hood River itself. Our first stop was at Double Mountain brewery, where we had one quick beer, and decided we weren't ready for lunch. From there, we headed over to Full Sail, which has a patio that overlooks the river.
It was super-hot, and so we sat on the patio with their fan blowing full speed, and enjoyed a couple of beers in their unique tasting flight "sail".
From there, we headed down to the river and the Event Site to watch the kite boarders and windsurfers for a while. Hood River has been a destination for wind sports for years, but the first couple of days we were there the wind was not blowing at all. So there hadn't been much going on. Today, the wind had picked up and everyone was out in force!
We sat on the river bank and watched the action for a while. It's always cool to sit and watch them fly across the water. Not a sport for me, but it's fun to watch. We stayed for a good hour or so, before continuing on our way.
After watching the river for a while, we headed up to the new brewery to check it out. One of the major changes we've seen over the last few years is investment and building down near the water. They've put up some great new commercial spaces, and new restaurants, breweries and other ventures have moved in. It's been a huge improvement, and we wanted to check out the latest one. Ferment Brewery occupies a prime new piece of real estate, and they've put in a massive brewery and restaurant. The views out were great, the beer was quite good and unique, and the food was great. We hadn't really planned on it, but we ended up having dinner and making a bit more of an evenign of it than we planned.
From there, it was back to the campsite for a last night of relaxation. In the morning, it was time to pack up the campsite and hit the road. It was just after 10:00 a.m. by the time we were sorted and on our way. As we seem to normally do, we decided on the slightly longer but more scenic trip back, avoiding the I5 and the traffic in Portland and Seattle. It's a beautiful drive, first through the desert-like area of eastern Oregon and Washington, then up and over the Cascade Mountains.
It was late by the time we got home, but we had left Friday plus the weekend mostly free so that we could ease back into real life.