Hood River, Oregon 2013 Girls’ Getaway: Multnomah Falls, Hood River, Mount Hood, and a Lavender Festival
My Mom and I live in Washington, and my Grandma and Aunt live in Oregon. We wanted to spend a weekend together, but the drive to either location was too much for just a weekend. So, we decided to have a “girls’ getaway” halfway between near Hood River.
My Aunt had mentioned wanting to go to a lavender festival so we planned it for the third weekend in July (for some reason the third weekend in July is national lavender festival time) and rented a cabin in the town of Rhododenderon on Mt. Hood. I found the cabin on www.vrbo.com and located the owner’s website, Kathy’s Kabins. Kathy has two cabins available, a “kabin” and a “kottage.” We chose the smaller “kottage.” Kathy was very friendly in her correspondence, and allowed my Aunt to bring her dog for an extra $50.00 cleaning fee.
My Mom met me in Seattle in the morning, and we set out on I-5 south towards Oregon. We took a slightly less-direct route on way to Multnomah Falls off I-84. Multnomah Falls is a beautiful and popular waterfall with a restaurant, gift shop, and trail to a bridge overlooking the falls. It is definitely worth a stop if you are traveling on I-84. We had lunch at Multnomah Falls Lodge, which was very good. I had the Oregon pink shrimp tostadas with a cup of chowder, and my Mom had the fish and chips. Afterwards we went and did the obligatory gawking at the falls, which were crawling with tourists. I think I’d like to come back in the fall when there is less people and the leaves are changing color.
After lunch we drove a little ways farther to the town of Hood River, and then started our ascent up Mount Hood to Rhododendron on Highway 35 . We passed many fruit orchards and farmer fruit stands on the way. I later read that the loop around the mountain is called “The Fruit Loop” in the summer.
We arrived at the cabin in the afternoon. It was a cozy and nicely decorated semi-secluded cabin in the woods. It had two bedrooms, a living room with two pull-out couches, two bathrooms, a full kitchen, and a fabulous deck with a hot tub overlooking the river. Kathy had everything you could possibly need, and even left us a bottle of wine (super awesome!) My Grandma, Aunt, and her dog took the master bedroom with a king bed and private bath, Mom took the other bedroom with a queen bed, and I took one of the pull out couches.
We sat on the deck and had some ice tea, caught up, and listened to the river.
We had planned on cooking (the kitchen definitely had everything you could possibly need) but ended up feeling kind of lazy so we consulted Yelp and decided on the Rendezvous Grill down the road. While the menu wasn’t super exciting or unique, the food was definitely quality and we had a very nice dinner. They have something for everyone and a good wine selection. I had the wild salmon, my Mom and Grandma had the seafood cobb salad, and my Aunt had a pasta dish.
When we got back to the cabin we took a dip in the hot tub and then watched one of the movies I brought along.
The pull out couch in the living room was…well, a pull out couch. Not much that can be done about that. Kathy did do a great job of outfitting it with comfy flannel sheets and a nice down comforter, but I will say that after two nights on that thing my back was not so happy. The pull out couches are probably best suited to those of the younger persuasion. Everyone else reported the beds in the bedrooms to be very comfortable.
We got up earlyish in the morning and drove back down the mountain to Hood River, about an hour drive away. Our focus for the morning was to see the Hood River Lavender Festival. Our first stop was the Hood River Lavender Farm. It was set up for a festival and while we were early, people were starting to pour in. There were booths selling handicrafts, clothing, lavender plants, and lavender bath products. There was live music and a few food and wine vendors were setting up for the afternoon. We didn’t spend too long, we looked around at the booths, Grandma bought some lavender plants for her garden, and we moved on.
Next, we went to Lavender Valley, which was my favorite stop. While there wasn’t a “festival” going on, (it was just a regular working lavender farm with a gift shop) the views were stunning. Majestic Mt. Hood reigning tall over fields of lavender with nothing obstructing the beautiful view. If you are in Hood River in the summer, definitely make a stop here.
After viewing the fragrant lavender fields and purchasing some lavender essential oil from the gift shop, we were ready for some lunch. We drove back into the main town area of Hood River looking for somewhere to eat.
After finding some parking, we walked a block up and a block down on the main street and in the interest of finding somewhere quickly, decided on the Trillium Cafe. It seemed like more of a bar, but a really cool one. Large wooden booths, craft beers on tap, friendly service, and a good menu selection. We ordered salads, burgers, and pasta and it was all good. There were posters for live music in the evenings, and it seems like this is more of an evening hot spot than a lunch place. But it was a good comfortable little quiet spot for a lunch break.
After lunch, my aunt decided to head back to the cabin to relax a bit and Mom, Grandma, and I wanted to make one last stop at the Mt. Hood Winery. We pulled off Highway 35 as directed by a sign for wine tasting, but ended up next door at The Gorge White House tasting room instead. We just went with it and they had several local wines available for tasting with no tasting fee. They were all very good. They did sell the Mt. Hood Winery wine, however, and I purchased a bottle there without tasting it. Paddy and I just drank it two months ago and it was fabulous.
The Gorge White House is actually a working historic farm, we discovered, with fruits and flower gardens with you-pick specials. They also had a hard cider brewery there, but we didn’t stay to do any cider drinking. We did admire the flower fields and enjoy the sunshine.
After that, Grandma was getting tired so we decided to make the hour drive back up to Rhododendron to relax at the cabin.
On the way we passed the Mount Hood Skibowl in Government Camp, and pulled in to take a look. The snow-less ski resort was in full swing as a giant alpine slide. People were riding up to the top of the mountain in the ski lift, and then sliding down the ski hill to the bottom on giant slides. I’d never seen an alpine slide before and it looked super fun. I looked into it more when I got home, and it looks like they have a lot of activities there for families and kids. If you are traveling with kids, that would be a good destination.
We relaxed awhile at the cabin (the deck was really nice with the river flowing below) and then deliberated about what to do for dinner. We were feeling lazy again so we browsed the nearby restaurant menus that Kathy left at the cabin, and decided on ordering take out pizza from the Zig Zag Inn. We went to the nearby grocery store and replenished our wine supply, then picked up the pizza. The pizza was reasonably priced and pretty good, but nothing to write home about.
That evening we watched the HBO biopic “Gia,” one of my favorite movies but I think it was a little much for my Grandma. She kept turning around and staring at us in shock throughout the movie. It was probably good for her to get a little culture.
The next morning we made breakfast and tidied up the cabin (We were just required to put all sheets and towels on the floor near the front entrance area, bag up the trash, and do all the dishes). We said goodbye and started on our separate ways home. Most importantly, my Grandma had a great time and that really made me happy.
I would really like to come back to Hood River with Paddy in the summer sometime. I think for a couples’ trip, we’d stay in the town of Hood River itself, and check out more of the bars and restaurants in town. I’d also like to do some more wine tasting in the area, and see a little more of the Columbia River Gorge. That alpine slide looks pretty fun too. Overall, Hood River has a lot to offer and I would really love to go back.