Bridge RV Park is technically in Washington, which I didn’t realize until the GPS told us to cross the super scary Hood River toll bridge (the river is the state border). You can’t exactly do a quick pull off or u-turn when hauling a 27′ trailer so we were going over the bridge whether it was correct or not. As Tom pulled up to the toll booth I confirmed that we were actually going the right way, then we braced ourself for the crossing. The see-thru metal draw bridge was narrow, no shoulder or sidewalk (bikes and pedestrians are prohibited). I hung my head out the window to watch the guardrail as oncoming cars hugged theirs and slowed as we approached. One guy even flipped us the bird! What is wrong with people??
Once across we could breathe again, and the park was right there next to the bridge, as the name would suggest. We were promised a waterfront back-in spot and the sweet host saw us struggling and came out to help us navigate the process. The sun was out, I was a happy girl.
After a quick camp set up we hopped on our bikes and headed into the thriving metropolis of Bingen. When I asked the host how bad the climb up to White Salmon was he said “it requires some muscle” – so naturally, I headed right up the hill! Actually I pulled over, turned around and walked right into the little local bike shop because I was hearing some weird noises in my climbing gears. The “bike doctor” basically said I needed a new chain and cassette and maybe front ring too. I kindly thanked him and headed back up the hill. He told us it was 1000′ up in a mile but totally doable. He was wrong, it was about 600′ in 1.5 miles and we handled it just fine. And we were rewarded with these views of Mt. Hood back across the river.
After a short sunset cruise we hit up the awesome little healthy market for dinner supplies and settled in for the night. It was so nice to have strong wifi that we even watched a movie on Hulu! The train tracks that run between the park and the river are super busy and the trains are loud and go all night but didn’t bother us too much.
Saturday morning Tom went back to the bike shop for some fork mounts to finish building the cargo slide bike rack while I got massively caught up on these blog posts. By the time it was all done we were running out of time to get in our 3 hour scheduled ride so we hustled up the highway to the start location only to discover ONE of us had left our cycling shoes back in the trailer… then we definitely didn’t have enough daylight for a 3 hour ride so we drove to a different start location for a shorter ride… I was so freaked out by the noises my bike was making that I decided not to use my easiest gear (the noisiest gear) which made the 9 mile climb a bit of a quad burner when we hit the 8-10% graded sections. We used this site to scout out rides and there was conflicting information about the elevation/distance so we kept waiting for the rest of the climbing but once we turned right near Appleton we knew it was time to descend and my quads were relieved to be done climbing. The descent was scary because the roads were wet the road curvy but at the bottom we got to cruise along the river back to the car and take in some gorgeous views.
Sunday was Tom’s birthday and we planned to run, ride, maybe drive out to The Dalles, hit up some breweries, and have a nice dinner out. Well, we did 2 of those things… We didn’t get out the door as early as planned, then spent way too long at yet another bike shop debating saddle styles and sit bone strategies. But we left the bikes for a deep clean (and new cassette/chain for me) and drove out to Rowena Crest to run some trails.
Again, there was a lot of conflicting information re: elevation and distance but we tackled the McCall Point climb and were mildly disappointed that we ended up in a cloud with really no view – rather anti-climactic – but still a fun little adventure in a light rain. (Sidenote: the super narrow trail passes along a really steep cliff which made us both extremely nervous and now we have made sure to exchange our families’ contact info in case one of us plummets off the edge in the future. Safety first.)
After a full roadside wardrobe change we went back to Hood River to pick up the bikes and warm up with hot beverages and warm croissants. But the rain was intensifying and as badly as I wanted to ride on the gorgeous historic highway, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to spend another 2 hours in the wet and cold. So we headed over to Full Sail Brew Pub instead and got right down to business with birthday beers and stories from Tom’s former life in law enforcement with a dash of people watching critique (the hipsters are such easy targets).
A weekend in Hood River just isn’t enough and I was reluctant to pack up and pull out Monday morning but the sun was out again and Bend was beckoning. Just take a deep breath and ease gently onto that bridge…