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An orchard viewed from Panorama Point, a drive-up viewpoint in the valley.

An orchard viewed from Panorama Point, a drive-up viewpoint in the valley.

The Hood River Valley is famous for its fruit. The valley is in the Columbia River Gorge on the Oregon side. The dominant fruits are apples, pears, and cherries, and orchards have been producing fabulous bounty for over 100 years.

Apple orchards flourished in this rich valley from 1890 to 1920, and Hood River became famous for its apples. In 1919 many apple trees were struck by a killing freeze. Farmers replaced the apple trees with pear trees, and now Hood River county leads the world in Anjou Pear production. {source: The City of Hood River}

Many Hood River Valley orchards are relatively small and operated by families, but together they account for about two-thirds of the state’s pears. Since 1992, the Hood River Valley has branded itself as the Fruit Loop, the brainchild of growers Kaye White and Thom Nelson, who proposed an excursion map of U-pick-it orchards and country stores. {source: The Oregon Encyclopedia}

 

Blossoms draped across the hills

Blossoms draped across the hills

The incomparable Mt. Hood, somewhat less remarkable in hazy skies.

The incomparable Mt. Hood, somewhat less remarkable in hazy skies.

Apple trees grown at an angle. I've never seen this before!

Apple trees grown at an angle. I’ve never seen this before!

The Fruit Loop is popular with tourists here, especially among the day-tourists coming from Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA, both about an hour downstream of the Columbia. The route begins at the river and makes a loop to the south, passing through Parkdale (the terminus of the Mt. Hood Railroad) and back. Along the way you can visit wineries for a little tasting, stop at fruit stands (that sell much more than pears, apples, and cherries), and if the season is right you can enjoy all the best of U-pick opportunities. You can bring home armloads of blueberries, strawberries, lavender, raspberries, pumpkins, and more.

The Mt. Hood Railroad is another attraction of the area, offering sightseeing trips through the valley, as well as murder mystery excursions, a train robbery brunch, romantic dinner excursion, and when the season is right: polar express! I’ll definitely have to do that some time.

Another view from Panorama Point. It's like a sea of white blossoms.

Another view from Panorama Point. It’s like a sea of white blossoms.

I couldn't stop admiring the orchards draped over hills.

I couldn’t stop admiring the orchards climbing over hills.

Mt. Adams, capped in a cloud over on the Washington side of the river.

Mt. Adams, capped in a cloud over on the Washington side of the river.

All of these attractions are bound between the volcanoes Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood, in lush valleys filled with rivers and streams and the mighty Columbia with its famous kite surfing and wind surfing. What a place!

Click the images below to see how much honey bees love this time of year.

Yummy flowers

Yummy flowers

Happy Bees

Happy Bees

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of our tour, we stopped by a deli, picked up an amazing lunch and a couple of microbrews (yet another thing Hood River is famous for), and had a picnic lunch at the beach.

At the end of our tour, we stopped by a deli, picked up an amazing lunch and a couple of microbrews (yet another thing Hood River is famous for), and had a picnic lunch at the beach.

Mt. Hood rises from the Hood River valley, filled with April blossoms.

Mt. Hood rises from the Hood River valley, filled with April blossoms.

Last weekend seemed like the peak date for blossoms in the Hood River area. I worked my mandatory overtime on Saturday, so that left Sunday to explore. Arno lives there and knows the area, so he was able to take us criss-crossing the valley, from the Columbia River all the way south to Parkdale and back.

I was relieved that it had stopped raining for the day, but disappointed in the hazy, moisture-laden skies. They washed out the typically spectacular vistas in that area. In particular, the snow-capped peaks of Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood faded into the white sky, and robbed me of one of my favourite aspects of photography around here: the startling contrast of a white peak rising above the green, on a blue background.

Taking a cue from blogger LB, who consistently changes her readers’ perspective when she displays black & white photos instead of colour, I tried to change my own perspective. It had a great effect, I think. The vivid colours of the fruit trees and green grass made the volcanoes fade away into obscurity. Greyscale moderates the bright colours and gives the mountain a chance to make an impact in the photo. It would still be better without the hazy skies, but I’m excited about playing with black & white for a change.

What makes the orchards here especially picturesque is the hilly terrain that rises to mountains on the horizon. My eye delights in all the uneven shapes and depths.

What makes the orchards here especially picturesque is the hilly terrain that rises to mountains on the horizon. My eye delights in all the uneven shapes and depths.

I stopped here because the top-lit trees simply glowed in the sun. But that makes for some striking darks and brights when converted to black & white.

I stopped here because the top-lit trees simply glowed in the sun. But that makes for some striking darks and brights when converted to black & white.

The result of me playing with the "time machine" feature of Paint Shop Pro.

The result of me playing with the “time machine” feature of Paint Shop Pro.

The original version. These heaters in the fruit fields are eye-catching. The red rust is irresistible in the colour photos. Hard to convert it to sepia. :-)

The original version. These heaters in the fruit fields are eye-catching. The red rust is irresistible in the colour photos. Hard to convert it to sepia. 🙂

Heaters in an orchard.

Heaters in an orchard.

The last photo gives a better sense of what it looks like to see heaters in the orchards. It also gives you a preview of my next post: Hood River blossoms in full colour! When all my images from the day are bursting with brilliant spring greens, and pink flowers, and white snow, and red rust, and copper barns, and black highways…it was hard for me to be brave and post these grey photos today. But I’ll make up for it in the next post.

 

 

It’s the season for blossoms!

There is no better pink in the world than the pink of blossoms.

There is no better pink in the world than the pink of blossoms.

Flowers, sunshine, blue sky - if I'm not mistaken, it's Springtime!

Flowers, sunshine, blue sky – if I’m not mistaken, it’s Springtime!

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