A hay ride down memory lane

Hayrides and farm tours are part of the fall festivities at Mt. View Orchards in Parkdale.

Photo by Adam Lapierre.
Hayrides and farm tours are part of the fall festivities at Mt. View Orchards in Parkdale.

For me, a trip to Mt. View Orchards is a trip down memory lane.

Parkdale was my stomping grounds, and the Trout Creek Ridge Road farm and fruit stand was just up the street; past a few hay fields, a couple notorious bike-chasing dogs, some noisy neighborhood chickens and a ginormous bull that would charge the fence if you got too close.

The 50-acre orchard is owned and operated by the McAlexander Family, with Ruth and Lyle at the helm for about the last four decades. When I was a kid, Ruthie gave me one of the first jobs I ever had, outside of mowing lawns and bucking hay for neighbors. The official Fruit Loop didn’t exist yet, but the farm stand was still a popular stop for people on their annual autumn pilgrimages around the valley in search of farm-fresh fruit and produce.

I can’t remember everything I did at the farm, but for sure my best memories are of operating the cider press (and taste-testing juice) and driving a four-wheeler through rows of trees in search of whatever variety apple or pear the farm stand was low on. Picking the fruit, if I recall correctly, wasn’t nearly as much fun.

A stop at the farm this weekend yielded a number of pleasant surprises, including something I haven’t done for probably 20 years but used to absolutely love when I was a kid: hay rides through the orchard.

I don’t know what it is about taking a bumpy, dusty ride behind a tractor while sitting on scratchy bales of straw that I find so appealing. I’m even allergic to hay.

It must be the nostalgia; the true country-boy memories it brings back of afternoons spent wandering through orchard rows as young explorers; playing hide and seek and capture the flag, catching butterflies and grasshoppers, playing water-wars with the big metal sprinklers, telling scary stories in the dark and, sorry mom, partaking in the most unruly rotten pear fights imaginable.

I remember as a kid, I always wanted to live in Hood River. Life seemed so slow and boring growing up in the country. My family didn’t own a farm; I just was just surrounded by them. What fun and crazy things were those lucky city kids doing down in Hood River? I felt like I was missing out on something, living waaaaaaaaayyy up in the sticks.

That angst is all but gone now, and I relish any chance I can to spend time in the country.

Latest stories

Latest video:

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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

Log in to comment

News from our Community Partners