Polar Express returns Nov. 9

The Next Door kids take special ride Saturday

PAJAMAS ARE encouraged aboard “The Polar Express,” renew-ing its Christmas-themed travels starting Nov. 9 at Mount Hood Railroad.

Submitted photo
PAJAMAS ARE encouraged aboard “The Polar Express,” renew-ing its Christmas-themed travels starting Nov. 9 at Mount Hood Railroad.

One of the region’s most classic attractions has announced the return of a holiday tradition: Mount Hood Railroad brings back The Polar Express for two magical months. The Polar Express will transport riders to the North Pole and into the holiday spirit during the popular Hood River event.

The Polar Express begins its enchanting excursions Nov. 9, continuing through Dec. 29. The train departs the historic Mount Hood Railroad Depot in downtown Hood River.

To fill the season’s first excursion with the proper Christmas spirit, the Mount Hood Railroad has invited children from The Next Door to experience The Polar Express. Like every rider, they will enjoy a journey that channels the popular Christmas story with appearances from well-known characters and familiar activities throughout the ride.

As The Polar Express train makes its magical journey through the Hood River area, dubbed the “North Pole” during the winter months, riders will participate in a reading of the classic book by Chris Van Allsburg, meet Santa and enjoy a variety of holiday favorites, like caroling and hot cocoa. Riders are encouraged to wear pajamas.

“The Polar Express is a joy to recreate,” said Ron Kaufman, MHRR general manager. “Seeing the look on every child’s face as they board the train in anticipation is really what the holiday season is about. We look forward to this every year.”

The Polar Express tickets are available in Upper Dome, Lower Dome, Parlor Car and Coach seating classes. Upper Dome, Lower Dome and Parlor riders receive a commemorative The Polar Express mug and each child is also given a special bell, which according to the story, can only be heard by those who believe in Santa Claus and the spirit of Christmas.

Reservations are available by visiting mthoodrr.com and by calling 800-872-4661.

Hot ‘Hobo’s Stew’ for sale

Mount Hood Railroad’s Hobo’s Kitchen, which opens in early November, will offer Hobo’s Stew, Conductor Chili and other holiday-themed dishes aboard two vintage rail dining cars beginning Nov. 9 — the opening day of the railroad’s popular The Polar Express train rides.

All meals come with a beverage, bread and a cookie, all for $8 or less. Soft drinks, beer and wine will also be served.

Hobo’s Kitchen will be open throughout the Nov. 9 to Dec. 29 schedule and is open to the public. Passengers can enjoy a meal discount when they bring their boarding pass.

The restaurant’s hours will follow The Polar Express schedule. It is located near the Hood River Depot at 110 Railroad Ave. in downtown Hood River.

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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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