Wednesday, July 6, 2011

An Afternoon at the White House

"Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans." - John Lennon

Summer may have finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest, after several false starts. I don't think there is a better time for Mother Nature to grace us with her sunshine and warm temperatures than a long, holiday weekend, which is just what she did.

I haven't had much downtime the past few weeks, between participating in the St. John's Outdoor Community Market, and shuttling children around the state to visit grandparents, I have been overdue for a break, and some time to just have fun. A trip east through "The Gorge" is always a fine way to recharge my batteries, and I invited Kerri, my partner in crime when it comes to the craft show/outdoor market business, along for the ride, since she deserved the break as much as I did. My oldest daughter, Sage, also invited her friend Danielle along.

My original plan had been to head to Hood River Lavender first. The farm is absolutely stunning, with views of both Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams, and I don't think there is anything more beautiful than a huge field of lavender in full bloom. However, our plans were thwarted. The farm was rented out for a special event and therefore closed to the public for the day. I had to come up with a new plan of action for the Hood River portion of our adventure.

The Gorge White House  stands next to the highway like a grand dame. It is a stunning Dutch Colonial house, surrounded by orchards and gardens. It is one of my favorite "pit stops" along highway 35, when either touring the Fruit Loop or following the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway around the mountain. Besides the obvious draws of wine-tasting and the gift shop, they also offer some unique "U-Pick" opportunities in the gardens behind the house.

The view of Mt. Adams and orchards at the Gorge White House.
Normally by this time of year, the u-pick flower garden is brimming with flowers, but due to the soggy and cool Spring, they are still running a little behind. However, there were many stunning Asiatic lilies just starting to emerge and I fully expect within a few weeks they will be joined by many other beautiful blooms.

Asiatic lily in the gardens

The strawberry field, however, was prime for the picking. The girls (and Kerri) had a fine time picking a bucket of berries. I would have joined in myself, but I have PTSD from working the berry fields in Sandy one summer when I was 12. I have never felt the same about strawberries again and I gained a special appreciation for migrant farm workers at the same time.

Odessa picking strawberries

I digress. The girls fully enjoyed the experience. In fact, I practically had to drag them out of the strawberry field, kicking and screaming. The berries, while very small, were sweet and tasty. In my opinion, nothing is better than a fresh, Oregon strawberry. Even the farmer's market doesn't have them quite this fresh.

Sage and Danielle with their berries.
Strawberry stained hands

By this time, the girls (and us adults for that matter) needed a little more sustenance than a couple handfuls of fresh berries. So, it was time to load up the car and head to our next destination for a picnic lunch, Maryhill Museum.

Stay tuned!

Plan your visit to Hood River:


  1. The photo of the berry-stained hands says it all for me. It was a great day full of adventure and fun. If you haven't visited this part of Oregon, come on down. It is really quite wonderful and beautiful.

  2. Enjoyed your post. The gorge is one of my favorite spots. I plan to go to Hood River area in a couple weeks and will check these place out.