‘Grey Lady’ gets a little lost in its 36-hour Hood River tour

The New York Times has once again found favor with the Gorge, in an article they call “Hood River in 36 hours,” published April 3 in the newspaper’s online edition.

It’s a head-scratcher of a piece that goes to some effort to describe the scenic, adventure sport, and culinary delights of Hood River and the region. The New York Times, aka The Grey Lady, went looking for color but some of its tints were a little off.

As is often the case with travelogues from far-off publications, the roundup of food-and-fun (the best three-word phrase to sum up the article) contains plenty of insight and relevant facts, and a few puzzlers.

I’ve had my share of corrections, so it may seem presumptuous to point out errors in a paper such as New York Times, but at least one of theirs could have a certain disorienting effect on readers, so I will use the forum I have available to save at least one person from getting lost on the Heights of Hood River. (Though I should say it’s my own neighborhood, and not a bad place to get lost.)

The article starts to the west and then brings readers into and around Hood River and the mid-Columbia Gorge, with descriptions of Lyle wineries and Timberline.

Author Melissa Coleman repeated an error that crops up in non-local publications, that the basalt cliffs along the Columbia are 4,000 feet high.

They go up 400, frequently, and 700-800 in places — plenty high — but consider that 4,000 feet is one-third the height of Mount Hood.

More ponderous is what happens when it guides readers on an in-town walking adventure; it would strand hikers in the conifer-surrounded neighborhood of Wilson Park looking for orchards, a view of “the namesake Hood River,” and views of the greens of Indian Creek Golf Course” all of this on “the ridge above the town,” better known as the Heights, if all they used was the article for directions.

As it happens, our “Two Stairs Loop” urban walk article in the Recreation section of new 2014 Panorama special gives specific directions to find the Indian Creek trail from the point above Second Street that is mentioned in the NYT piece. The photo below should provide a bit more guidance.

The article begins, “Hood River’s multifaceted climate is a little like Sochi’s — only without palm trees.” Not a bad way, I guess, to bring Hood River into association with the only Black Sea locale now more famous than Crimea.

“Popularized as a windsurfing destination in the 1980s, this waterfront town in the Columbia River Gorge is blessed with mild to balmy temperatures nine months of the year, while nearby Mount Hood never runs out of snow. The result is an outdoor adventurer’s playground, and the saying ‘the Gorge is my gym’ has inspired a blog of the same name, featuring daily wind and snow reports.” (They don’t mention blogger Tamira Wagonfeld by name, so we will.)

The article also does a slight disservice to local wineries. Nice that it mentions Springhouse Cellar and Viento, but there are several problems as it directs readers to Viento “on the western edge of town.” Vintner Rich Cushman and Green Home Construction are working hard to finish the striking edifice on Country Club but despite what the New York Times says, it is not open yet. You can get Viento wines around here, but not at the tasting room. Cushman said last week he’s confident it will happen by June.

Meanwhile the article might have directed people to other wineries “on the west side of town,” and just down the road from Viento: Hood River Winery, Cathedral Ridge, and Phelps Creek.

Street-level observations about getting to those wineries would have directed people out the newly built Wine Country Avenue, off West Cascade.

The article also takes in downtown bike shops and brew pubs, and mentions cycle centers Mountain View and Dirty Fingers, but not Discover, on State Street, and pFriem, Double Mountain and Full Sail, but not Big Horse. This seems to happen in nine of 10 cases of any publications (local ones excluded) listing local breweries: Big Horse gets excluded, despite its central, and dramatic location. It may be the smallest brewery in town, but it is definitely worth visiting for its view and its ales.

So that’s my list of quibbles. I’ll get off my high horse, and head to Big Horse, then walk home via the Indian Creek Trail — and try not to get lost.

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