Well, we’ve been here three weeks and are finally settling in. A first the river was really high and not very inviting. The weather was hot then cold, then hot and the winds were gusty—sometimes a 20 mph difference between the high and low. So we scoped out the kite sites, figured out where things were in town, got used to the crazy roads here, and found some new bike rides. For the last week we’ve been kiting at the Lyle sandbar—for us it is a combination of a good launch site (wide open with no obstacles), fairly close by, and relatively safe if you get in trouble. The first few days, I used the new Slingshot 4.5. One day the sand was blowing off the ground so hard it hurt your skin and made the beach look blurry! Butch even had a chance to ride the 4.5! But yesterday it was a bit calmer—I was on the 6 and Butch on the 8 and it seemed so calm. The sandbar juts out into the river where the Klickitat River flows into the Columbia, so the launch is directly off shore. The sandbar blocks some of the current, but makes it shallow, so the wind formed waves break a bit in close. As you head out to the river proper, it gets a bit funky—sort of an eddy with waves and chop like a washing machine. When you get into the green water of the Columbia, the swells are pretty big. They are fun heading to the other shore, but then on the return you seem to have to go right into them. It’s weird looking to the southern shore and seeing cars and trailer trucks and trains! And to remember to always look up and down river for the barges before going into the channel.
This last week is starting to seem more like summer, with consistent warmer temps and warmer river water. To get to the kiting site, you have to pack all your gear, put on the bottom of your wetsuit, pack a drink and some bars, cross the road, walk down the hill, cross the busy railroad tracks, then down a steep path, over some driftwood and then through the willows to get to the sandbar. We were certainly spoiled in Padre and La Ventana with kiting right from the house or car! We usually bring three kites between us, because the wind seems to come up and we don’t want to go back up to the van for anything!
During the first two weeks here we had time to look around for a Jeep. We’ve been thinking that we could take it to La Ventana instead of the van and it is an easy vehicle to tow behind us. What we didn’t realized is how even used Jeeps hold their value. $30k is a bit too much to pay for a used vehicle. Anyway, we found a dealer in Portland who sells cars that have been hit but are mostly cosmetic. We found a black 2016 Jeep with damage to the driver side front and rear door. The passenger side fender was hanging off as was the “nerf bar” on the driver’s side. The rear driver side door wouldn’t open and the driver door, when closed had a pretty big gap. But, the car had only 18K miles on it and was otherwise in really great shape. The dealer was able to bend the rocker panel so that the rear door opened and closed and the gap was pretty small when the driver door was shut. So now we own a Jeep for less than half of what we had been seeing. We got some new plastic plugs and reassembled the rear fender and attached it—good as new. We put on a new passenger side view mirror, removed the nerf bar and cut it shorter and made a step to get in and out and painted the exposed metal. It looks great! We found a Thule rack on craigslist and now are looking for a cartop cargo box. The jeep came with a receiver hitch and today we will put our bike rack on. There is a local Jeep guy who will install the towbar and lights for towing the Jeep, so we are well on our way to outfitting it.
With Hood River’s close proximity to Portland, we probably won’t kite on the weekends. So far, the Lyle sandbar has not been crowded, but we suspect more folks over the weekends. We thought we would explore some easy biking along the Klickitat River today (Saturday) after the swap meet and the farmer’s market.
The Klickitat flows into the Columbia from the Washington Side and has fishing platforms for the Native Americans who lost their fishing site when the Dalles dam was installed. For a rail trail, it was pretty unusual–more than half singletrack along the river and very scenic. Today (Sunday) we will ride up on the 44 trails.