‘Wine Country’: New road brings new challenges

During the early part of this week, things looked a little disorganized on the western access streets in Hood River.

For a variety of reasons, it may stay that way for awhile.

Fence-style traffic barriers and temporary signs for local businesses were scattered around West Cascade Avenue, on Country Club Road, and the newest road in that part of town, Wine Country Avenue.

The road project known as “Country Club realignment” is actually the creation of that new road, Wine Country.

Admittedly, there will be potential for more confusion. Wine Country Avenue, while wide and smooth, is less than a mile long, and then it merges with Country Club just west of the junction with the I-84 off-ramp at exit 62. Perhaps the names will gradually merge themselves, into Wine Country Club Road. (Country Club Road itself is a historical name, given that the golf course for which it is named is open to the public and lacking in any elitist attitude.)

Follow the signs, which will all be present along with surface striping by next week, and remember two basic rules with the realignment: if you want to go between Country Club and West Cascade, you now have to take Wine Country, which T’s with West Cascade and then winds around in back of Red Carpet and Timberline condos before merging with Country Club.

The old Country Club intersection — next to exit 62 — is now one-way: drivers cannot turn onto Country Club (that’s what Wine Country is for) but cars may exit Country Club north to the freeway and Westcliff Drive.

It’s all intended to facilitate safer travel out Country Club, eliminating that congested 90-degree turn.

Completion of the project will be a welcome sight for the two businesses most affected by creation of the new road: Stonehedge Restaurant, reachable by a new access drive off Wine Country, and Mid-Columbia Marine on Cascade.

The biggest impact from the change, at least at first, will be the incidence of sudden stops or veers by drivers who are unfamiliar with the change as they make the left turn onto Wine Country. The other will be U-turns in front of Red Carpet and Szeremi’s, or farther north and west, as people realize they missed the turn to take them west to Country Club.

Drivers in that part of town are advised to be on the alert for each other as we all adjust. This may be one case when it is locals who are more easily mixed up than visitors, as we’re all used to the patterns of the thoroughfares, and now they are different. Be patient with each other as we get used to one of the more significant traffic pattern changes in recent memory.

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

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