Ben's Babbles: Recreation opportunities help Cascade Locks off the mat

May 14, 2011

It hasn't been an easy few years in Cascade Locks.

The housing bubble burst and hammered planned developments in the town.

Five grades in the school are gone.

The proposed casino is still awaiting a decision from the federal and state governments.

Given the circumstances, it's an easy and safe position to complain about how terrible things are and look for someone to blame for the problems that have befallen the town.

Some have done that, but in the town that calls itself the Gateway to the Gorge, others are rising to the occasion to make it worthy of its moniker.

In a little over a week the Collegiate Sailing National Championships will descend on the town with hundreds of the best sailors in the country taking to the waters of the Columbia.

Cascade Locks has become known as a sailing Mecca, with its prefect wind and just-choppy-enough water.

If the event turns out to be anything like the International Moth sailing championships two years ago, it should bring a big crowd to town.

The sailing community is a steadily growing presence in Cascade Locks, and the town is taking steps to ensure its continued growth.

There are already some kids from the town who I hear are beginning to rival their counterparts from established sailing communities in California and Washington and it will be fun to track both their progress, and of the community as a whole.

Sailing is not the only way the town is making progress when it comes to recreation.

Next month is the inaugural Cascade to Crown ride, the baby of Port Commissioner Jess Groves and Pedal Nation, a Portland-based cycling group.

The hope is that the event, which will run from Cascade Locks to Crown Point and includes a family ride to the Bonneville Dam, will become an annual event as part of a reinvigorated Sternwheeler Days.

In the coming years a mountain bike trail is planned in the forest near the town, again hoping to fill another recreation niche.

Hood River is already a mountain biking haven, with many people coming from Portland to ride on the weekends. With a mountain bike trail of its own, Cascade Locks will give riders another option that is convenient between Portland and Hood River.

Between the sailing and biking options, not to mention the newly created Blackberry Beach windsurfing site, some of those nearly abandoned developments may find occupants.

The hope was that Cascade Locks would serve as a commuter town for Portlanders. Now if the town is going to be the base for people's recreational activities on the weekend, perhaps it is more worth it for people to move there.

And if more people move in, that means more students for the school and more dollars in the local economy.

With all the bad that has happened in the last few years, I suppose I couldn't blame the citizens of Cascade Locks for cursing the wind that blew their figurative house down.

However, I do applaud those who have set about building the community back up and seeking to fill a bevy of niches in the local recreation scene.

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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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