Family Fun

Two new books take a kids’ eye view of things to do in the Gorge

Ever since Ruth Berkowitz and Jody Barringer met at the Hood River Aquatics Center a couple of years ago while their kids splashed in the toddler’s pool, the two moms have been “kidding” around a lot together — seeking out fun, new adventures and activities to do with their kids.

So it was a natural extension of their own lives when, last winter, they got the inspiration to put together a book for other parents looking for family-friendly outings in the Columbia Gorge.

“We were going out with our kids anyway and we wished there was a road map for us to use,” says Berkowitz, the mother of two kids age 2 and 3. The two friends decided they could use their experience — and that of other Gorge moms — to compile a handbook of kid- and family-friendly activities in and around Hood River.

The result is “Kidding Around the Gorge: The Hood River Area’s Ultimate Guide for Family Fun.” The book, due out next week, is packed with more than 120 author-tested activities and outings ranging from family hikes to kid-friendly restaurants. The book is arranged into 15 chapters, with headings like “Rockin’ Rock Throwing Locales,” “Hikes with Tikes” and “Screaming Ice Cream Stores.”

“We wanted the book to be fun to read,” says Barringer, who also has two kids age 2 and 4. The authors narrowed an original list of activities down to what they felt were the “best of the best.”

“We didn’t want to have an exhaustive list,” Berkowitz says. “We wanted the highlights.” The book is aimed at both locals and visitors. “Exceptional outings” are marked with a smiley face, and the authors’ suggestion that the activity is a must-do for families visiting for a limited time.

The book is illustrated with photos by local photographers Peter Marbach and Jim Semlor, as well as detailed “Getting There” information for each activity.

“We spent a lot of space and words on directions,” Barringer says. In addition, an appendix in the back of the book organizes information by location. So if you find yourself in, say, Mosier, with a backseat full of kids, you can flip to the appendix and get quick ideas on where to go and what to do. It’s also easy to find activities of a certain nature — like swimming or fishing — simply by turning to that chapter.

The book’s information spans from Multnomah Falls in the west to Roosevelt, Wash., in the east, and from Trout Lake to Mt. Hood. But “a lot of it is firmly concentrated in and around Hood River,” Barringer says.

The authors hope their book will help visiting and local families in the Gorge have fun “kidding around” in what they call a “huge playground” and “a wonderful place to raise a family.”

“Kidding Around the Gorge” will be available at local shops for $11.95. They can also be ordered by calling Ruth Berkowitz at 541-400-9006.

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