Ideas for Winter Break Fun

Check out a book

The Hood River County Library will not hold regular story time during the winter break, but will be open for its regular business hours (10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1). Books and movies are available for checkout, of course, with accessible computers on both levels and toys in the children’s section.

Take a swim

The Hood River Aquatic Center will be open for open swim beginning Dec. 26, from 1-3:30 p.m. and again at 6:30-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 1-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Jan. 6.

Play in a museum

n Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum (1600 Air Museum Road, off of Tucker Road) is always open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, with the exception of Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. Children and their families can explore the kids’ area, known as “The Learning Center,” and museum. (Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children.)

(…. and ‘fly’ a helicopter)

The WAAAM Learning Center is a unique place where kids, and adults, can truly spend an hour or more at play, aboard an airplane, submarine, helicopter, motorbike, car, scooter, and other life-sized, or nearly-life-sized, creations.

Gary Fisher of Hood River built the play vehicles either on his own or with friends. The creations are made of reused and repurposed parts of vehicles, buildings, and wood and metal utility items that Fisher has found or sought out with his whimsical designs in mind.

But whimsical does not mean unrealistic!

The submarine has literally fooled Navy veterans who thought it was the real thing. As the largest item in the Learning Center, the submarine stands out, with its main body being a refurbished propane tank. Inside, there are lights and controls. The sub is large enough for three or four kids at a time, and a reasonably limber adult can fit inside and move around.

The plane and helicopter also are built to near actual scale and also contain controls and accoutrements that give a lift the imagination. Fisher is a volunteer at WAAAM and is often on hand to answer questions.

The building is also perfect for an “indoor walk,” says museum staff, something both kids and parents can appreciate when the weather outside is a bit too gloomy for a trek.

n Wonderworks Children’s Museum has recently moved to its new building, and offers an educational and creative play space for kids ages 0-6 and their adults. The museum is open Wednesday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Kids can do arts and crafts in the Creative Corner; jump and crawl on the tumbling mats; take care of the animals in the Veterinary Clinic; look at cool x-rays; watch balls fly on the Bernouli Blower; cook and serve in the play kitchen; be an actor on the big stage; make music, dress up, play blocks, drive cars — or just hang out and watch the action.

Admission is $5 for one child and guardian, plus $1 for additional children (membership options are available).

Wonderworks Children’s Museum is located at 206 Madison in The Dalles (a half block off of Second Street behind Taco del Mar).

Roll a big ball

Orchard Lanes Bowling Alley is offering a winter special Dec. 26-Jan. 4: Kids 17 and under bowl free with a paid adult, 12:30-9 p.m. The bowling alley is located at 1141 Tucker Road in Hood River.

Watch a Christmas movie

Free Christmas movies are being shown at noon at Skylight Theatre in downtown Hood River, alternating between “The Polar Express” and “The Grinch.” The final showing will be Dec. 24. No outside food or drinks are allowed.

Andrew’s Pizza and Skylight Theatre is located at 107 Oak St. Call 541-386-1448 for details.

Play a board game

Hood River Hobbies is hosting Family Game Days on Thursdays, Dec. 27 and Jan. 3. Families are invited to come to the store, at 110 Fourth St. downtown, from 3-5 p.m., to play shop copies of board games or to bring their own games to share.

The events are free.

Can’t make it at this time? The game area at Hood River Hobbies is always open for free play during store hours when other events are not in progress. Parental supervision is required.

Take a ‘First Day’ hike

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department joins America’s state parks in sponsoring First Day Hikes in 22 Oregon State Parks on New Year’s Day. Park rangers or volunteers will lead most of the hikes. Day-use parking fees are waived for all visitors at participating parks Jan. 1 only.

First Day Hikes help families enjoy state parks close to their homes and encourage a healthy lifestyle. The purpose of America’s State Parks is to promote and advance the state park systems of America, for the contribution they make to the nation’s environment, heritage, health and economy.

Details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips are available on the America’s State Parks website:

Visit the state parks website,, for directions to each park.

OPRD advises visitors to plan for inclement weather, and to remember the binoculars for wildlife viewing.

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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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