Kids can catch ‘Little Engine’

News editor

Kids are on a two-track mind these days at Mt. Hood Railroad.

“The Little Engine That Could ‘I Think I Can Rail Tour’” came to town last weekend and returns Friday through Sunday.

The special excursion train rolls out for half-hour rides on the hour from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. all three days at the Mt. Hood Railroad.

Besides the ride, kids can greet the clown, bear, elephant, and other faithfully replicated passengers from the classic story by Watty Piper of the undersized engine who finds the confidence — “I think I can, I think I can” — to push the circus train over the hill so it will arrive in time to entertain the children in the next valley.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said conductor James Tuller, “especially when you see the kids who get off the train and come running across the parking lot to hug the characters.” Due to timing and weather, the turnout was lower than seen in the annual “Thomas the Tank Engine” visit, which has a similar format.

Mt. Hood Railroad manager Michelle Marquardt said that while passengers were having fun, two factors may have kept crowds lighter than hoped: the fact that it was the first weekend after school started for most Oregon and Washington schools, and damp weather.

Rain fell part of Saturday, though Sunday’s conditions were optimal.

Marquardt said that a representative of sponsoring Rail Events, Inc, “told us we have the most professionally done ‘Little Engine’ of any on the tour.”

The tour is in its first year, so it will build momentum, she said. Marquardt is hopeful that Hood River will receive earlier dates next year to attract more summer visitors.

This weekend the youth marimba band Zinindika of Hood River County will return with their danceable rhythms from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Children can also take home a balloon animal and enjoy a petting zoo and other fun activities. Tickets for the train ride cost $15 for anyone two and over; for reservations, call (800) 872-4661 or order online at:

Tickets are also available at the Mt. Hood Railroad depot

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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