Because of the wonderful friends we met along the shores of Twin Lakes, we arrived in Hood River, Oregon. We both desperately needed to get into town to replace some of our gear. Freebird's sandals were falling apart and my sleeping bag would no longer suffice in the cooler temperatures. Olga, Zoe, Lynette, and Copper dropped us off nearby 2nd Wind Sports, where we would search for these items.
At 2nd Wind Sports, we were directed over to a small section of backpacking gear (not the store's main focus) and compared their sleeping bags. Only one of them, a Mountain Hardwear 20' bag, seemed the best choice for me. There were no other stores in town, so we would check online reviews that evening before coming to a decision. As far as shoes go, there were none here for Freebird. We were directed to Shortt Supply for those, where we would visit the next day.
Being in Hood River, famous for its windsurfing and kite surfing, we had to put everything aside and visit the Columbia River Gorge already! On the way to the beach we passed Pietro's Pizza, where we both knew we would eat dinner later. Complete with AYCE pizza buffet and salad bar, this was a dream destination of any long-distance hiker!
Typically the gusts of wind are so strong through the gorge, which is why Hood River has become a mecca for windsurfing. But that day the air was stiller than normal, so there weren't as many people riding the waves. No one was really capable of doing any jumps or loops in these conditions.
We walked down the river a few feet and heard a familiar voice to our left yelling for Dave and Stephanie! It was Lynette yet again, and she was sitting at a picnic table with her parents who had just flown in from Michigan. We crossed paths with her for yet a third time!
Following great conversation with Lynette and her family, we walked back uphill to Pietro's, still not knowing where we would stay the night. A neon sign glowing above the pizza joint that read "Hood River Hotel" got my attention. We would check that out later. First things first, food!
After splitting a delicious pizza and feasting on their salad bar, we walked around the corner to the front of the historic Hood River Hotel. Just looking through the front doors, everything seemed very elaborate and therefore most likely expensive. Freebird suggested that we check out their rates anyway. Jessica, working the front desk, offered the family suite at a reduced rate, so we accepted!
The suite was spacious, with views of the town, the river, and the train tracks below. I used their phone to call our friend LuAnn from Moab. Then I used the guest computer downstairs for hours, working on a blog post for Lassen Volcanic National Park. In the midst of a hectic night, being the only worker in the building, Jessica continually checked on me. Jessica treated me to some tea, gave me band-aids for my feet, and asked me questions about the journey.
Freebird left in search of some sweets for us and returned with some cookies. In his walk through town he came across a bar with great, live music and told me that we should go check it out. I told him I would wrap things up and meet him back in the room. Hours later, I finished the blog entry and raced up the stairs to get him, hoping that it wasn't too late. We walked down the street to the bar, and the band was finished. Nothing else seemed to catch our interest, so we returned to our room.
|Elevator with sliding brass door.|
I was so disgusted as I realized how attached I had been to technology all along the journey. Sure, I had made tremendous progress in letting go when I lost my phone in Moab, but I noticed how anxious I had been the last few months to find Internet connection just to update my blog, which doesn't really matter in the long run. It's wonderful to hear from my readers of how my entries have inspired them, and that alone keeps me updating this blog to this day. But with the understanding that there are so many other avenues of receiving information, that day in Hood River, I finally chose to stop making the blog a priority. It was preventing me from living in the moment, getting to know the towns in which we stayed, helping those who we would meet, and being receptive to lessons. Recognizing this technological attachment was certainly a lesson in itself.
|We ate one of the best breakfasts that we had along the trail here, in Hood River Hotel's restaurant.|
After filling up on breakfast, we checked out of the hotel. We were planning on leaving town that day but still had some errands to do. First of all, we had to call Kelly's Bed and Breakfast in Trout Lake, Washington to reserve a room. The phones were down at Hood River Hotel, so we walked down the street to a thrift store/metaphysical shop. There we were greeted by a sweet owner and the soothing sounds of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole over the speakers. The owner allowed us to use her phone to call Kelly's. Marilyn, Kelly's wife, offered us the PCT thru-hiker rate and arranged a free ride from Kelly. He would meet us at Hood River's visitor center at 6 PM.
With that settled, we had to find some shoes for Freebird next. As recommended we visited Shortt Supply to meet with some professional athletes who are extremely knowledgeable about shoe-fitting. Mark, a marathon runner for 40 years, spent an hour making sure that Freebird found the right fit! He even put aside eating lunch when a fellow coworker brought him a sandwich. People mattered more to him than anything else. He fitted Freebird into Brooks Cascadia shoes, the first shoes that Freebird has ever felt comfortable wearing. Before, he would always prefer to hike in sandals. Along with the purchase, Mark threw in some free socks.
Then we made a return trip to 2nd Wind. Freebird looked up reviews the previous night and decided that this Mountain Hardwear bag was the one for me. Instead of being a 20' bag, users rated it more like a 0' bag. Other than the zipper catching easily, this would be perfect for someone like me who gets cold very easily. According to the review, normally this bag would be about $200. But at 2nd Wind, it was on sale. Upon closer inspection, we found a few spots on it (it was used) and talked the price down to $116. Claire, a competitive skiier and the head of the backpacking department, rung us up. Since I couldn't afford it at the time, Freebird bought it for me as an early birthday present!
Now that these errands were taken care of, we were hungry and ready for lunch. As recommended by a local, we walked over to 6th Street Bistro. Another excellent choice. Following that was ice cream at Mike's, just around the corner...
Mike's had this playground/tree house that the kids adore.
Hood River had been a wonderful stay. Soon it would be time to cross over into Washington. On our way to the visitor center to meet with Kelly, we returned to the Columbia River one last time to watch the surfers. This time the wind had really picked up. There were more people riding the waves today, and I got to witness some jumps for the first time.
|A kite surfer getting some air.|
|One last view of Hood River.|
|A man fly-fishing in the Hood River, near its junction with the Columbia.|
We crossed over the Hood River and arrived at the visitor center, just as Kelly was pulling into their lot. He drove us across the bridge into Washington and refused to accept Freebird's money to pay the toll. Kelly told us that Trout Lake's general store's supply was rather limited and more expensive, so he took us instead to a Thriftway just across the border and told us to take as long as we needed.
Then we drove a half hour to Kelly's Bed and Breakfast.
Kelly and Marilyn invited us in and showed us to our room. After taking showers we talked with Kelly late into the evening about his musical tastes and concerts that he's attended. Then he did our laundry for us and left it outside of our room while we soaked in their hot tub along a beautiful stream.
Kelly invited us to take some of his CD collection out to the hot tub. They had built-in surround sound speakers! As we soaked in warm water, we sang along with the entire Bob Marley's Legend album. Meanwhile we listened to the cascades in the nearby stream. That whole night was a beautiful , unforgettable experience of friendship.
The next morning another one of the best breakfasts that we ate along the trail was prepared for us by Marilyn. Turkey sausage, fresh eggs from their chickens, hand-picked huckleberry pancakes, and a huge plate of fruit.
Our stay in "civilization" was coming to a close once again, and we were ready to explore the Washington wilderness. Marilyn provided us a long list of trail angels in the area who were willing to take hikers back to the trail. If none of them were able to do so that day, Marilyn or Kelly were more than willing to take us. A man named Steve answered his phone and said that he would meet us at Trout Lake General Store at noon.
|Their cat, content as can be after catching and eating a bird.|
We said goodbye to Kelly and Marilyn, thanking them for their kindness and hospitality,
and then walked down their street into the town of Trout Lake.
Not long after we arrived, Steve met us in the parking lot. The rain started to come down as Steve drove us up to the pass and returned us to the trail. Steve never requested any money, but Freebird still provided him some. Then we put on our ponchos (testing mine for the first time) and vanished from society for the next week into the forests of Washington.