After the big birthday karaoke night, we took the whole next day to putz around the farms in Hood River, located in the beautiful Columbia Gorge. The area is well known for the exceptional fruits that come from these local orchards, and we were just in time for the fall color on the leaves and apple/pear season.

We like eating at this place called the Sixth Street Bistro, so we made our first stop there for lunch and beer. Because, hey, it’s after noon and it’s my b-day celebration. So why not have a beer with lunch? They have reasonable food and if you are lucky (like we were) you can snag a seat on their patio and catch a narrow glimpse of the kite-surfers on the Columbia River. After finishing up our lunch, we headed out to the Fruit Loop Tour.

Our first stop on the loop was Rasmussen Farms, which was a total nut-house. There were so many people there! They usually have an incredible variety of apples to choose from, which makes them a good stop for us everytime we blow through town. It actually makes me feel a little embarrassed that I am not familiar with all the varieties. It was so overrun with people though that we kept our visit short.

There were a couple more stops in between, but the real highlight of the trip for us was visiting Cascade Alpacas Yarn & Fiber, an alpaca farm. Jay and I half-heartedly joke about having a llama farm someday, but alpacas would due as well. So getting close enough to stare into their big doe eyes and pet their soft, fluffy wool was a pretty cool experience. We also fell in love with their huge Great Pyrenees dog that keeps watch over the herd.

Our final stop on the tour was Draper Girls Country Farm. Although we had a lot of fun petting their little farm animals, the chicken coop they kept (away from the highly trafficked area) looked a bit neglected. The chickens had self-inflicted bald spots from tearing out their feathers, which is due to stress, and I wonder if they need a cleaner and larger coop area.

In general, the fruit prices are okay in Hood River, especially when you consider the quality, but everything else tends to be overpriced. Tomatoes, for example, were $2 a pound, when it’s possible to find them for 1/4 of that here in town. We came back with some apples and culinary lavender, so it was more about the scenery for us. And of that they have plenty.

Once we circled back through town, we made a pit stop at a nice little delicatessen before getting on the road. I can’t find the name of the place, but we enjoyed a nice passion fruit panna cotta and creme de chocolate. The drive back was gorgeous, pulling back to our house right around sunset. It was a gorgeous day spent in the sun with my Jay.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson