Ways of the Wind: Catch Windfest this weekend

A summer series with Greg Stiegel, Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association

The sun has been shining and the wind has been blowing in the Gorge for months now, but Friday marked the official start of summer. Unlike the last few years, this spring Gorge residents were blessed with an early start to the windy season, and there’s no better way to whip yourself into shape for the summer than sailing, kiteboarding or stand-up paddling in 30 mph wind and school bus-sized swell … right?

These last few weeks of spring have been outstanding, and with school recently out, Hood River’s summer scene is abuzz with excitement and activity. So, with summer officially upon us, what’s the outlook for the wind and watersports season?

First of all, we seem to have avoided the intense early season river conditions we saw in the last couple of years. The water level is at a very reasonable level and the Hood River delta already in full use, allowing safe and easy kite launching from there and leaving the Event Site clear for windsurfing and the general public. With water temperatures over 60 degrees and currents at a very manageable pace, even the mighty Columbia River knows that summer is here.

With the arrival of summer, the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association has all sorts of fun events and activities in store. Coming up this weekend is the annual Gorge Windfest (June 29-30) at the Hood River Event Site. This event is a fun, family-friendly affair for all, with a plethora of gear vendors offering unlimited demos of the latest windsurf and SUP gear. Gear demos are $5 for CGWA members and $10 for non-members. In addition, a stacked schedule of clinics is in store, including PWA sailors (Philip Soltysiak), AWT sailors (Kevin Pritchard) and of course all the great local pros (Tyson Poor, Bruce Peterson, Brian Schurton, Big Winds, etc.).

Add to the mix good food, local beer, music and friendly faces and a good time is almost guaranteed.

In conjunction with Windfest, the Blowout downwind race is back. After a brief hiatus, the Blowout will run on June 29, from Blackberry Beach in Cascade Locks to Hood River. A Mini Blowout and SUP race will be held the same day, from Viento State Park to Hood River. This is a fun, exciting event that is open to all windsurfers, so come test your skills and see if you can make it back to the Event Site.

You can pre-register online at gorgewindsurfing.org/events/blowout. Stay tuned to the same website for more event info, start times, etc.

It is good to have summer back in the Gorge. Stay tuned for the next Ways of the Wind column for updates on the fun in store for the rest of the summer. See you on the water!

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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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