Unicorns

Trip Start Jul 03, 2009
1
17
45
Trip End Aug 16, 2009


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Flag of United States  , Oregon
Friday, July 17, 2009

We're out of Idaho (with no burning desire to return) and through the yellowed-grass small towns of eastern Oregon (no great need to drive this section of I-84 again either). As we head north, our freeway abuts the Columbia River, and the scenery becomes green again. Around mid-day, we pull into the little town of Hood River, about an hour from Portland.

Two exciting developments lead us to Hood River: First is its famous "fruit loop" (more on this in a moment), and second is that this is where we will meet up with the first people we know since seeing Geddes for three hours back in Moab Utah. We are here to meet with Portlanders Jim Heller and Derek Sutton.

For anyone who has ever known California as moving at a distinctly west-coast pace, mixed with a mostly-wonderful-but-at-times-off-putting friendliness (“Califriendly”), let me introduce you to “Orefriendly,” which takes this concept to a whole new level. Our meal in Hood River, for example, was excellent: Greens so fresh they seemed pulled from the earth and delivered to our plate. Meat sourced so locally that Mike the farmer might walk in at any moment and inquire as to how we enjoyed eating Gilbert the cow. However, we also encountered patience with waiting that is simply astounding. Jim, a New Yorker by birth but apparently Oregonian in spirit, has simply advised us that “good things are just worth the wait.” Maybe. But we’ve got some ground to cover.

South of Hood River is the “fruit loop,” a collection of 35 farms that have banded together to sell their fresh goods to hungry tourists. In the course of several hours, we had our fill of “old-timey” country charm, amazingly fresh fruit (cherries—some varietals of which are so fragile one can only buy them in this region, marionberries—no relation to the disgraced ex-governor of Washington DC, peaches, raspberries, nectarines, tomatoes, squash) and all the assorted sugar-filled variations of these otherwise healthy ingredients (including sticky sweet cinnamon rolls, velvety smooth marrionberry shakes, and peach-cream pies.) Yum!  A highlight of the loop was definitely the alpaca farm, where we spent some time meeting and feeding the baby alpacas.

From here, on to Portland (which has been so built up for Maribeth that she’s been asking when the Unicorns come out and dance for everyone). Although we’ve yet to see unicorns, we have seen some sights that felt almost as spectacular given our small-town red-state itinerary, including racial minorities, non-hamburger centered meals, and public transportation. What a crazy city!

After visiting Portland’s annual downtown sand-castle competition (theme and proceeds going to further children’s self-esteem…(quintessential Orefriendly)), we had an amazing meal with Jim and Derek at Ned Ludd (all organic, all local, of course). We capped off the evening with a trip to doughnuts-so-good-that-Joe-will-even-eat-them at Portland’s famous Voodoo Doughnuts. Full, tired, thankful for our great friends for showing us around, and excited for the weekend ahead, we headed off to bed.
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