Monday, October 3, 2016

Hood River Valley Weekend: Down on the Farm

Every year, for five summers now, we return to the farm.

Perched way up Hood River Valley in Parkdale, Oregon, beneath towering, glacier-encrusted volcano Mt. Hood, Draper Girls Country Farm is the pilgrimage destination for high school friends long past high school. We call ourselves the Great Eight.

To the farm employees, we're the "funny ladies," says friendly owner Theresa Draper. We have fun. I'll leave it at that.

But the point is, the Draper Girls farmhouse, surrounded by orchards, riots of seasonal flowers, goats crying like humans, a busy farmstand, and of course The Mountain, provides a homey, comfortable spot to relax into a country pace and reconnect.

Five years ago I posted about Draper Girls and our weekend there, but with so many repeat trips, I treasure going there more with each passing year. It feels like coming home.

Friday afternoon we all arrive from destinations near-ish (Portland), far (Seattle), farther (the Bay Area) and farthest (the other Portland, in Maine). After settling in, the last few years we've chowed down a fabulous barbeque dinner from Parkdale's homegrown Apple Valley Barbeque.

Sometimes we venture down to Hood River for meals, like Sunday brunch at the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel or fancy dinner at Celilo. But really, it's so pleasant up at the farm, this year we just take turns cooking meals in the well-stocked farmhouse kitchen.

Chicken Marbella
Then we settle in and talk, like eight women who've known each other since childhood and haven't seen each other in over a year can talk: with gusto.

Some of us (me for sure) get restless inside too long, and long country walks are in order each day.  This year it's verging on autumn with the apple and pear harvest well along.  

And unlike years past, there's some rain involved. But we're all western Oregon raised, so what's a little (or a lot) of rain?  All that moisture is good for the skin.

Rain on the hills beyond.

Back on the farm, the goats crack us up with their human-like cries, and the fall flowers are at their brilliant peak. It's all so unpretentious and charming.

With dear friends, a comfortable farmhouse to gather, fresh fall fruit right off the nearby trees, and much more, it's another memorable, wonderful weekend on the farm. 

Happy trails and thanks for visiting Pacific Northwest Seasons! In between blog posts, visit Pacific NW Seasons on FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram for more Northwest photos and outdoors news. 

When You Go
This year's autumn harvest is still in full swing, so think about a trip along the Hood River Valley Fruit Loop for cider tastings, heirloom apple celebrations, and other fall harvest events throughout October and into early November. Hint:  At Draper Girls Farm, their packages of dried apples dusted with cinnamon sugar are addictive. I never leave with just one. The rental farmhouse/cottage sleeps eight comfortably, with four bedrooms and two bathrooms and room for a few more in the living room.

Here's a link to a map of the Fruit Loop and the farm locations.


Suezy P said...

This story is good fodder for a book....and yes, there are similar stories written,but none with the Great Eight.

Posibly an anthology - a collection of recollections from each of you. Of course, it would have to be populated with your gorgeous photography and maybe momentos and keepsakes....example might be the Griffin and Sabine collection where the reader pulls handwritten letters from a cool envelope, with a postarred stamp and a phone booth snapshot strip... mind gets carried away. But, between the 8 of you, there is history, hiking, beauty, wonder, life, aging, food, loss, music, healing, art...sisterhood....and you know....when you mix all that together......

...because this blog...this particular a beautiful story I see myself curling up with, not wanting the story to end....wanting to know more.

jill said...

Oh Suezy, thank you so much for your comments and creative, idea-spinning mind. Yes indeed there is a lot of sisterhood and more with the G8. I feel so fortunate to be a part of the group, which really is a family, with histories stretching back to early childhood. We knew each others' families in ways that my later-in-life friends don't. There's tremendous value in that.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful thing you all do every year! What a tradition. Photos are lovely! MaryM

Anonymous said...

It really IS that beautiful! Thanks for the lovely photos...