Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Fruit Loop

Yesterday we drove up to Hood River and took the Fruit Loop, which is a scenic 35-mile drive through orchards, forests, and farmlands. There were stunning views of Mt. Hood, lush rolling hills covered with apple and pear orchards, fields of lavender, and curious alpacas. There are 31 farms with fruits stands, country stores or wineries on the route - too many to stop at all, but we found a few favorites.

Rasmussen Farms was huge, with a big field of giant sunflowers, a large pumpkin patch, and a barn full of produce to buy. They had tons of pears and apples, as well as tomatoes, onions, green beans, and other good things. We bought Anjou pears for pie making.

Hood River Lavender Farms was a delight, even though this is not the main season for lavender. They have a still for distilling essential lavender oil as well as a tiny little gift shop where I bought some lavender lotion. You can also cut your own lavender to take home!

My favorite stop of the day was Foothills Yarn & Fiber. It's located at Cascade Alpacas farm and the girls had a blast looking at the alpacas and feeding them (though neither one was brave enough to feed them on her own - both girls put their hands under mine as I held the food). The yarn shop is very big and has a substantial selection of yarn, including the greatest variety of alpaca yarns I've ever seen. I bought some lovely Misti Alpaca Lace as well as two skeins of Foothills' own alpaca yarn, which comes with the name of the alpaca it's from on the label. I can't wait to knit something with it!

We also stopped at Pearl's Place, Smiley's Red Barn, Draper's Farm, and Country Girl Fruit Farm, loading up on apples for applesauce and pies, dried apples with honey and cinnamon (yum!), dried pears, berry honey, and a few other delicious odds and ends. From time to time the clouds opened up and offered a glorious view of Mt. Hood, radiant with new snow from the past few days. Emma and Kate had a great time despite spending so many hours riding, and we're all wondering when we'll go again.

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