Wednesday, June 3, 2009


On Tuesday morning, Ranger Matt Davey arrived at our site around 10 am to get the Gator in traveling shape and teach us how to use it. It is a two-seater utility vehicle with four wheels, a little bed for hauling “stuff” behind the two seats, and a blower on the front to blow leaves, small rocks, pine needles, and other debris off the trail. He showed us how to start and operate both the Gator and the blower, then Odel and I drove the Gator down the hill from our site to the Visitor Center so Matt could show us how to get in, disarm the alarm, and let us look around.

Remember, you can hover your cursor over these photos for a caption, or double-click to enlarge the photo.

Heading down the hill to the Visitor Center and parking lotOdel in the Gator on the trail.
Driving the Gator through the tunnel. Driving through the tunnel on the Gator.Driving through the concrete Catchment, built to protect trail users from falling rocks. Driving through the Catchment area.

After a quick intro to the Visitor Center, Odel and I went into Hood River (about 2 miles to downtown) so I could get a temporary library card and pick up some books. We snagged some lunch to bring home, then set out on our first Gator ride!

Our section of the HCRH is about 5 miles long. From our end of the trail, it is 3 1/2 miles to the mouth of the first of the two (side-by-side) tunnels – the Mosier Twin Tunnels. Before you enter the tunnels from our side, you enter the concrete Catchment area, a huge concrete superstructure built to protect trail users from the rockfalls that have plagued the road through this section since it was built in 1916. From information gleaned in the Visitor Center yesterday (which I will be studying thoroughly, of course!), I know that it was built to withstand a 5,000 pound rock falling from 200 feet. WOW.

Big Smashing Rock 6-2-2009 6-41-28 PMI don’t know how much this rock weighs, but you can see the effect it had on the rock guardrail. The asphalt of the trail in this particular area is pitted and gouged, signatures of the numerous rocks that have bounced their way down the steep gorge wall, onto and over the trail.

The tunnels and the catchment are a little tricky on the Gator. We drive the trail very slowly, keeping an eye out for fast moving bikers (and they are VERY fast moving, especially now when the racers are preparing for Friday’s time trials). The tunnels are dark inside, and the catchment is very narrow. We debated whether to speed up through those points (to get through them as quickly as possible) or where to continue our slow crawl (so we can stop more quickly if necessary). More experience needed. :)

Luna coming home from a lizard hunt.

After our exploration of the trail, it was Luna’s turn for some quality outdoor time. She loves our new site, and has been very good about sticking around. About the only thing that tempts her to leave the patio is the sighting of a lizard, which is good for about 20 minutes of entertainment.

For dinner, we popped back into town to try Dixie’s Southern Grub, a restaurant we had spotted on our way to the golf course. Outstanding! We sat on the front porch of a converted house, next to a lilac in full bloom. Like many restaurants in the areas we most enjoy in Oregon, Dixie’s uses local, organic and/or sustainably grown produce and meats in their food preparations. It all was delicious (check out the menu here), but Odel pronounced the bread pudding, with bananas and coconut baked into it, the BEST he has ever had. I agree.


  1. Hi L&O,

    Your place looks nice - I really liked the menu at that restaurant! Just a note to tell you that the only image that would enlarge was "Big Smashing Rock". All the others were identified with the mouse, but a double click did nothing. Enjoy your new adventures.



  2. Wow! What a spectacular home for you both the next couple of months. Great photos! I may never be able to do what you do but your journal is the next best thing. Thanks!

  3. Hope we can get up there while you are still there. That restaurant has a very interesting menu. We'd like to visit it.

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie and Gary