Did you know that Oprah declared 2017 her “Year of Adventure”??
Not to be outdone by Oprah, I, too, wanted to add some adventure to 2017!!
I started 2017 by jumpstarting it! (It was actually the week BEFORE 2017). I surprised Mark with a little four-day getaway right after Christmas. Since Mark and I do the “Happily Married, Living Apart” thing, we really appreciate the time we can spend together.
Our trip was to the Columbia Gorge area northeast of Portland, Oregon. (Read about the start of the trip here!).
All I had told him was that he needed to take the week off between Christmas and New Years. When we were packing, I still didn’t tell him where we were going. But I did tell him the kinds of things he would need to pack. We each had a small suitcase, and then a separate combined suitcase for “gear.” The gear included snow boots, and layers of warm clothing.
On our second day at Skamania Lodge, we had a nice breakfast in the Cascade Room, where I told Mark about that day’s adventure. Now, I have to tell you, Mark has a pretty big fear of heights. But when I saw the Zipline at the lodge, I first called my daughter who said “Go for it!” [Ah, youth!], and then booked it, even knowing the weather probably would not be in our favor. Mark was a little apprehensive but willing [that’s my man!]! After breakfast, we headed up to the room and layered up, as it was basically “icing” outside (a slick combination of snow/rain/ice). We donned our long underwear, fleece, coats, gloves, hats, and gloves!
Skamania Zipline Tour
We checked in with Skamania Zipline Tour at 10 am, only to find out we were the only crazy ones to be in the group!! (The dad of the family of four that was supposed to be with us said, “No way am I dealing with a bunch of cold children” was what guides said – but I’m imagining it was the wife that put the kibosh on it!).
Our guides carefully laid out the gear and showed us how to put it on. Then a quick walk to the starting point where they reviewed safety points, and we were off!
The Skamania Lodge Zipline starts with a short (maybe 100 feet?) line at a fair (low) slope. Perfect for learning the “ropes” (pun intended!)! But then it gets a little steeper and a little longer!
The Skamania Lodge Zipline Tour is perfect for first-timers! Between the size of the course and the patience of the guides, Mark and I had a blast! I’m not sure he ever stopped holding his breath on each traverse, but we were both hootin’ and a-hollerin’ with glee as we tackled each descent.
It was raining the whole time and we were soaked, but it was so worth it. I’m so glad we had filled that extra suitcase with the right gear, so when we returned to the room, we could just lay it all out in front of the fireplace, and have other clothes to change into. Even though it was winter (the course is open year-round), it can be pretty wet even in the summer, so be prepared.
Hood River, Oregon
Somehow that morning (before the Zipline), Mark had lost a screw in his glasses, and therefore the lens. We found the lens, but needed a repair kit for the screw. We had noticed a Walmart along the way as we had driven in from Portland, so after drying and warming off, we got in the car to take care of the glasses. I had had a couple of things on the “itinerary” but this took priority. I plugged “Walmart” into my phone GPS and we followed the directions, but noticed we were being taken east instead of back towards Portland. Deciding to just “go with it,” we ended up in Hood River, Oregon. Once the glasses issue was taken care of, it was about 2 pm, and I told Mark I had remembered seeing several breweries in this area, and the “Fruit Loop.”
The Fruit Loop isn’t really something you want to do in winter as almost everything is closed as far as “you pick” places. I was really excited about a lavender farm, thinking they might have a little shop, but once we found it, it was closed as well. [Most of the wineries ARE open, but we’ll get to those . . .]
Beer was sounding better and better…
By this time we were hungry and thirsty, so we started at Full Sail Brewery right in town. It sits on the river, with nice views and a fun ambience. We each tried a local brew (I like Blue Moon Belgian-type beers, while Mark goes more for the darker, heavier stouts), and some appetizers. The artichoke dip was delicious!
This wasn’t exactly planned, but we decided this was our “Beer Day,” so I Googled local breweries. After leaving Full Sail, we headed around the corner to Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom. This was much smaller and had a younger vibe. The tables are close together, so we were quickly in conversation with some recent college graduates home for the holiday break that were next to us. We all enjoyed some flights to try all they had to offer! (In case you’re not a beer connoisseur, a flight is a sampling of several “shots” of different kinds of beer to try). Our favorite was Devil’s Kriek Flanders Red Sour Ale with Cherries. It wasn’t exactly sweet, but you could taste the overtones of cherry. We bought a few bottles to bring home.
And then heading back to the Lodge, we stopped at Thunder Island Brewery in Stevenson, Washington. We had fish tacos that were out of this world (could it be the beer talking by now?!?) and tried a couple of their IPAs.
Call It a Night – – –
By the time we got back to the Lodge it was after 7. We were well fed, and well-. . ., well, let’s just say we didn’t need to get anything more. We put on our suits and took advantage of the beautiful rock-sided outdoor hot tub that is part of the Waterleaf Spa at Skamania. It has a high-end spa atmosphere. You are given your towels as you go through the day spa main room before heading outside. There were several couples in the spa, but it still felt very private and intimate. It is very large with seating “nooks” created by the large rocks around the outside.
Between the heat of the spa and the excitement of the day, we were ready to call it a night. We were back in our room asleep before 10.
I do want to say that although WE chose to go to bed with the chickens each night, about a year prior I had attended a conference at this hotel. The bar was filled with people of all ages and was quite lively until late in the night! So if nightlife is more your thing – there are places to go.
Are you adventurous enough to try the Zipline?? Share a vacation adventure you’ve had in the comments!