TRAVEL THERE: HOOD RIVER OR, WINDSURFING CAPITAL OF THE WORLD
Welcome to Oregon! Well, sort of. This past summer my husband and I spent twelve days traveling the state and now I’m sharing the experience with you. I’ll tell you about the attractions we visited, the meals we ate and where we stayed. Maybe you’ll decide you want to visit Oregon, too. Today’s focus is Hood River.
Windsurfing Capital of the World
Hood River is the name of a river, a town and a county. If windsurfing is your thing, it’s got better breezes than the Windy City itself. Enthusiasts from all over the world flock there for the thrill of a lifetime. It was late on a Sunday afternoon when we rolled into town, almost sunset, in fact, but the windsurfers were flying high.
Like the lock and dam I wrote about a few weeks ago, I quickly realized that Hood River was something my husband would enjoy. He’s not a windsurfer, but he’s got a huge kite that windsurfers train with and flying it is one of the joys of his life. I made sure he packed it for the trip.
As I researched the area for the trip from my desk in Dallas, I was frustrated that none of the websites I found or books I read were very specific about where all this windsurfing took place, but I was determined we would find it. Come to find out, there’s no way to miss it. As you draw near to the town, the sky is full of sails on the river side of the car.
We parked the car near the confluence of the Columbia and Hood Rivers and found a seat in the grass to enjoy the spectacle. If there were this many windsurfers on the chilly end of a Sunday afternoon, I can only imagine what it’s like during Windfest, the local Windsurfing Festival. Soon watching wasn’t enough, so Bill dug into the trunk and pulled his kite out of the luggage.
Flying Bill’s kite is a two-person endeavor, so it’s something we get to do together. I help him unfurl the sail, untangle the strings and launch the kite. Then I observe until he loses the wind and the kite dives into the ground. To be fair, Bill has tried many times to get me to actually fly the kite, but I’ve seen him lifted off the ground during his flights and I like to have my feet firmly planted on the ground. I’m also the information specialist. People usually gather around to gape as Bill flies the kite. He’s not content to keep the kite steady in the air. He has it swooping and diving all over the sky and crowds always form. Usually someone in the crowd wants to try it and then Bill is euphoric. He loves sharing the experience.
Though you might not realize it, there’s a lot of physical exertion required to manhandle the kite in a strong wind. After about half an hour, Bill’s ready to roll up his kite. I had one more thing to see before we called it a day: Panoramic Point, our first opportunity to glimpse Mount Hood, our destination for the next day. The sight was glorious.
Do go to Hood River. If you’re a water sports enthusiasts, go sooner rather than later. Also, go if you like quaint little towns with great shopping opportunities or if you like backroads with lots of fruit stands. We didn’t have time for any of these and I sincerely regret it. We had to get on down the road to The Dalles and I’ll tell you about that next week.