‘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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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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