Up from Bend, we climbed Mount Hood, only to drop back down into Hood River, Oregon. Hood River is an equal combination of grizzled locals, tourists, and people up from Portland to camp, ski, or kite surf. Cliffs line the river on the south side, and wind whips through the narrows just west of town.
We camped near Starvation Creek, which has a waterfall that plunges down toward the site where train passengers were stranded for three weeks in snow drifts in 1884. On the plaque that told of the event, the author wrote, “Valiant relief efforts were organized when news of the train’s plight reached ‘civilization.’” The use of quotation marks around “civilization” indicates the way we often think about history—as though the idea of civilization in 1884—a time without cell phones or laparoscopic gull bladder removals—indicates scary and savage days where the idea of civility just doesn’t apply.
Rosa at the falls at Starvation Creek:
But when Rosa and I played to Willie the St. Bernard and his alcoholic owner at the Red Carpet Inn in Hood River, it’s hard to call us more civilized than those who slowly (but surely, remember) rescued the stranded passengers on that train. We never met the owner who booked Rosa, and the bartender had no idea who we were when we arrived. “We’re playing music here tonight,” Rosa told him. This look of dazed shock spread over his face and he laughed. “Sure, I guess!”
Rosa playing to Willie:
At the Red Carpet we met Jim and Jesse, broken down “pool boys” who install hot tubs and pools, but I think spend most of the time fixing and maintaining the things they’ve put in. They have one theme of jokes, and I’ll bet you can guess the theme. Jim’s business, if you can believe it, is called T & A Spa. “You know what T & A stands for?” Jesse asked me. “Tubs and Accessories, which is just a way of saying T!^$ & A$$ in another language. Think about it. Tubs and Accessories.”
But those few who listened tipped well and raved. And yet, they kept telling us we belonged at some better spot. “This is not the place for you two,” they kept saying. “Go down to Naked Winery, Devil Mountain, or the Pint Shack. Talk to Erin.” Dudes like that love in a “go away” manner. As they were loving Rosa, they kept telling her all the love was elsewhere.
But after the dive that was the Red Carpet, we had one of the best gigs of the tour at the Great Pacific in Pendleton. Rosa played on a huge stage to a full house. The owner, Ken, lavished us with wine, IPA, good cheer, and a brownie called the “Smooth Criminal” soaked in espresso and topped with French vanilla ice cream.
At the Great Pacific, we met Carl who offered to host us for the night on his farm. A lifelong harmonica player, he gave me some great tips. We slept in our Scamp next to a willow tree and his pond on his farm. There we met his wife Elizabeth, their daughter, Heather, and Heather’s husband, Thomas. In the morning, they cooked us breakfast and we sat around on the porch talking about happiness, playing music to Carl on Father’s Day, and sharing stories. “Happiness is critters,” Carl told us, smiling, surrounded by three Jack Russell terriers, geese, ducks, chickens, and sheep (one of which, it may be important to note, he was planning on butchering that day with his son in law).
From left to right: Heather, Thomas, Carl, and Rosa:
But those cute and loving terriers that hopped into our Scamp in the morning to check in on us climb trees and kill full grown geese. They would never harm a person, but a goose doesn’t stand a chance without electric collars. Carl may love critters, but the terriers obviously don’t. Yet, somehow it all works out on that little farm—Carl loving the critters and the critters loving people. And a little electricity never hurts to keep the peace.
Sassy in our Scamp:
A big thank you to Carl and Elizabeth for hosting us, but an even bigger thanks for giving us some great company and inspiration along the way—just before a very long day of driving through Oregon, Washington, Idaho into Missoula, Montana.
Rosa, Nick, Thomas, and Heather:
In Oregon, you can’t pump your own gas, so attendants come out and do it for you. As we were filling up at a gas station, a stiff, bearded guy approached. I asked him how he was. “Upright and standing,” he said.