After waving Paddy off with an emotional goodbye at the airport, we decided to head out of the city for a while. We both needed a break from the business of the city, and also both were in desperate need of a break from the breweries! So we headed to a national forest, south west of Portland and pulled up for a couple of nights.
We found a place which would have been beautiful if it weren’t for the trash left around the campsites. It was the break from the city we needed though, but after a day of chilling, reading and cooking we wanted to get back to civilisation. Unfortunately we only made it halfway back…
On our way to Portland, Betty decided to stop starting. We hoped it would just be a loose ground or connection to the battery but after checking the terminals she still wouldn’t start, so we had to bring her to a mechanic. The first few we went to all said it would be a week to wait, and we could hardly drive her around. As we were about to give up on our last attempt a lovely couple who run a mechanic fitted us in that day, and turns out we needed a replacement starter motor. It was a costly repair, but better to have it done now than somewhere it would be hard to source it!
So we were ready to head into the city again, and decided to revisit the Saturday market we’d been the previous week to look at buying some cool presents for home. While in the farmers market, we tried some stunning jalapeño and pineapple jam, and got chatting with the person hosting the stand who recommended we check out the fruit loop. The fruit loop is a 30 mile loop drive around a collective of farms and wineries in a place called Hood River, about an hour east of Portland.
We only planned to come for the day… we’re still here now as we write this 2 weeks later! The first day we arrived we were a little too tired to do the loop itself, and stumbled upon a nice seafront beach and event site. It was the long holiday weekend meaning it was more busy than normal and waiting us in the Columbia River was a sea of kites in the air. We’d stumbled into windy mecca for windsurfing and kitesurfing. Therein lies the reason we are still here, a simple ‘that looks cool’ has translated into 7 water sessions and 3 lessons to date.
Torn between kitesurfing and windsurfing, the $1200 price tag of kitesurfing meant we decided to learn to windsurf. We later found out the incredible price discrepancies are due to the insurance for kitesurfers being much higher – more can go wrong! Since then every day we’ve had wind we’ve been on the water in a small part of the river called The Hook.
We’re almost ready to graduate to the main river, which beginners don’t tend to go in straight away as a lot can go wrong… but after 3 lessons this coming weekend we’ll be taken out there which will open up a whole new playground for us!
Hood River is a pretty town itself, and when the wind doesn’t blow there’s plenty for us to do. We ended up doing the fruit loop the day after we arrived, and later returned to the same farms for pick your own strawberries and beautiful wines with stunning views of Mt Hood.
We’re also lucky to have numerous hiking trails around town, one of our favourites was hiking up to Mitchell Point trailhead, giving glorious views of the gorge. Another highlight was finding a swimming hole 10 minutes out of town only to realise it’s glacial water – Mikey braved the cold water but it was too much for Annie!
As for what’s next, we’ll stay here a while longer and continue to enjoy the lovely town and windsurf when there’s wind. The beauty of the whole trip is we aren’t on a schedule – our next arrangement is meeting Annies’ Brother and his fiancé in 3 weeks. Plenty of time for the wind to come!