A thousand runners — and their fans and families — will converge on Hood River the weekend of Oct. 27-28 for the annual Columbia Gorge Marathon.
The race starts at 9 a.m. from the Hatfield West Trailhead (shuttle buses will take runners there, from the Marina Green finish area). Runners will finish anywhere from around 11:30 a.m. on into the afternoon. Half-marathon runners start at the Marina Green at 9:30 a.m., and finish there as well.
If you’re coming to run — or just want to watch — please take care when driving through downtown and along the route of the course. See more details at the event web site.
Years from now, you could say you were among the first — the first people to attend the first showing of each film at the first Mt. Hood Independent Film Festival.
But only if you attend. You know how many people say they were at Woodstock? Right. Everybody wishes they had gone, but only the chosen few were actually in the mud.
The cool thing about the Mt. Hood Independent Film Festival is that it’s all indoors, out of the weather and the mud. No Wavy Gravy appearance scheduled, perhaps, but a chance to see some truly creative expressions of short- and long-form video art.
It all starts with a kickoff event at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26, followed by viewings of five of the 77 films selected for the festival. Opening night showings will all be in the two theaters at the sponsoring Columbia Center for the Arts.
On Saturday, Oct. 27, and Sunday, Oct. 28, films will be shown there, as well as at Andrew’s Skylight Theater and Springhouse Cellar. Here’s the full schedule (you can also print out your own version, to guide you between showings and venues.)
Tickets are a bargain. Beyond the 10 VIP passes available for $100 each, you can get a festival pass — admitting you before one-day and rush ticket holders — for just $25. That gets you first in line for any screening, on any day of the festival. Now, obviously, because there are multiple screenings at multiple venues, it’s going to pretty near impossible to see everything — but you could see a lot of video for $25. One-day passes are $10, and rush tix at $8. Get pricing details here.
Now, saying all that, we at the Hood River Hotel wish we could offer you a room for the entire weekend. Sorry. We’ve got a few available on Friday night, and plenty of space for film buffs who want to stay over Sunday, after the Festival’s final screenings and awards show. Interested? Check our reservations page.
Scott Cully knows a thing or two about turning an 1,800-pound pumpkin into a work of art. The one-time world record holder (according to the kids at Guinness), Cully will return to the Hood River Valley Harvest Fest on Saturday, Oct. 20, to demonstrate his talents all day long.
Cully manages a nursery in Lowell, Ore., southeast of Eugene. They prepare blueberry plants for farmers. In his spare time, Cully loves nothing so much as paring pumpkin. He uses a 3-inch paring knife to whittle his squash into fantastic visages.
It all started back in 1987, when Cully lived in the Northeast. He and a friend, armed with a couple of bottles of hard cider, tackled a 400-pound pumpkin. He kept at it, working his way to a world record in 2010, since eclipsed.
“To carve a world-record pumpkin,” he says, “the pumpkin has to exist.”
He had his eyes covetously focused on a 2,009-pound beast back in Massachusetts. Then it rotted and collapsed and headed to the compost heap. C’est la vie.
Emily Curtis, coordinator for the sponsoring Hood River County Chamber of Commerce, says Harvest Fest will have a couple of other interesting twists.
Look for more pie-eating contests than last year. People love to stuff their faces into a mess of crust and cooked fruit. All contests will be open to people over 13 years old.
Curtis also says the fruit and vegetable sellers will now be situated inside the gates, accessible only to people who pay admission to the festival grounds. Previously, fruit and veggie vendors were stationed outside the grounds, so festival-goers could buy and haul off fresh fruit without paying to enter the grounds housing craft, food, beer and other vendors.
Harvest Fest is a fund-raiser for the Chamber, so it makes sense to have one of its chief attractions covered by the price of admission.
Parking south of the festival grounds off the I-84 Exit 63 will again be managed by the Hood River Lions Club. The club encourages motorists to slow down and follow directions to avoid endangering people walking to and from the festival grounds.
Harvest Fest begins on Oct. 19, and concludes on Sunday, Oct. 21. Hours are:
•Friday 1-7 p.m.
• Saturday 10 a.m.- 7 p.m.
• Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
As a destination within a destination, the Hood River Hotel and its team love travel. Yours. And ours. And others. So, reading a good travel yarn is the next best thing to packing our bags and heading out. One of our favorite travel sites is World Hum, which aggregates the best in travel writing from around the web. They recently produced this cool infographic, teasing their list of the 100 best travel books of all time. Yum-yum, World Hum.
Dawn Sisson, one of the fine front desk clerks at the Hood River Hotel, was driving to work the other morning when she saw a library book lying in the road.
It had settled into a striped-off triangle where two lanes merge into a freeway on-ramp. She was moving too fast to stop and pick the book up.
Later, she happened to overhear one of our guests asking if anyone at the hotel had found a library book.
Pamela Nagashima and her husband, Hajime, had been down at Marina Park in Hood River, helping their visiting nephew with windsurfing lessons.
Loading up to return to the hotel, Nagashima set the book on top of her car, and forgot about it. Heading onto the freeway, the book — “The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea” by Charles Robert Jenkins — slid off the roof of their car.
“Dawn was checking me out that morning, and heard me asking about the book, and she froze,” Nagashima says. “She said, ‘I swear I saw a book back by the freeway.’”
Nagashima went back, and found it where Sisson had seen it. It was pretty dinged up. Bent cover. Holes where gravel had punctured pages. Tire tracks.
“It looked like IT had been in North Korea for 40 years,” Nagashima says.
When she got back to Portland, she took it to the Multnomah County Library, and told the same story, somewhat chagrined. They charged her $10, roughly half its original value.
Nagashima was grateful, for several reasons. She doesn’t like to lose books. And she was able to finish this one: She had 15 pages left to read when she lost it.
So she sent Sisson a “thank you” card.
“That was indeed my lost library book lying in the highway,” Nagashima wrote. “I am so grateful to you for spotting it and mentioning it to me Tuesday morning. A little the worse for wear, but I brushed out the gravel and ironed the pages with a clothes iron, and it looks OK.”
Nagashima has no clue if the library will return the damaged volume to circulation. But if you happen to check the title out from the Multnomah County Library and wonder what the heck happened to it, now you know.
Visitors to downtown Hood River’s First Friday celebration on Aug. 3 can play in the street with complete safety.
How’s that, you ask?
Simple (well, sort of). The sponsoring Chamber of Commerce and merchants have collectively paid the city to block traffic from Oak Avenue and connecting side streets during the event, from 5 to 8 p.m.
That way, you’re not confined to the sidewalks, although you may want to focus your strolling there, because (ahem) that’s the best way to see which stores are open, and what goodies they’ve got for your consideration and, yes, purchase. Or consumption, if we’re talking purveyors of food and drink.
Clean, clean, clean.
More than anything else, that’s what you want in a hotel room. New research from Diversey shows that hotel guests rank clean linens, no visible signs of previous guests, and a pleasant smell (no nasty odors) ranked highest in sleeping quarters.
Bathrooms? Did you really need to ask? Clean toilets, clean area around the toilets, clean … clean … clean.
Read the survey results. Then tell us what you value most in a hotel room — cleanliness, low price, comfy beds, etc. — by using our comment utility.
You’re a visitor and hungry and wandering around Hood River and wondering, where can we get a memorable bite to eat?
Hood River has a load of dining establishments. Getting the straight skinny on which ones are going to deliver something both affordable and memorable, and which aren’t, can be a challenge. Locals know, but which locals should you ask?
Uh, hull-oh — US!
Here are seven that we like:
1. Cornerstone Cuisine (yes, it’s our restaurant, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth listing, and hey, it’s our list), for the stellar Grilled Lamb Burger with basil tomatoes, feta cheese, micro greens, and garlic mayo, or the … well check it out.
2. Nora’s Table (on 5th, between Oak and Cascade). Build your order online, pick it up and park your picnic wherever you like, or eat it on-site. Burmese pork curry, anyone?
3. El Rinconcito (aka “The Trailer”), on West Cascade, just past the Big Gym and Zeman’s Music. Good tacos, burritos and (on Friday mornings) tamales.
4. Mekong Thai (across from No. 3). Rich menu of authentic Thai dishes. Affordable, casual, cool (A/C). Limited parking, but …
5. Hood River Taqueria (on 13th, in the Heights: See Directions below). Indoor or, in summer, shaded outdoor tables for tasty Mexican staples, and cervezas. Lengua tacos, senor? Menudo? Mui autentico.
6. China Gorge (intersection of Hwy 35 and Hwy 30, east of town). Owned for more than 30 years by two Indonesian immigrants of Chinese ancestry, the China Gorge has a rockin’ good Chinese chef, serves large portions at affordable prices. Watch him kick it in this video.
7. Double Mountain Brewery (4th and Columbia), for great locally brewed beers and stellar pizzas and sandwiches.
Now, a word about directions and neighborhoods. Many visitors to Hood River share the mistaken impression that there is nothing more than downtown and the strip development out West Cascade (can you say “Rite Aid and Safeway and Taco Bell, oh, my”?).
There’s also the Heights. The what?
Heights, as in “uphill from downtown.” Lots of options there, to be sure.
To reach the Heights, take Oak from downtown west to the light at 13th, turn left and keep going. You can’t miss it. When you pass May Street, traffic goes from two-way to one-way on 13th and 12th until you pass south of Belmont. Along that brief stretch, you can find some good, casual eatin’ joints to supplement faves from the other business zones.