Monday’s Meander: To Hood River Fruit Loop for Apples

It was time to visit the Fruit Loop, a 35 mile trip that passes 29 member farms which offer produce stands. The orchards bear a variety of fruits, and acres of flowers or vegetables alongside wineries (tasty-looking wine, but we no longer drink) make up a cornucopia of delights. We go through the town of Hood River which sits on the Columbia River, and head out one Highway 35. The landscape is breathtaking; this fecund valley lies at the base of Mt. Hood in the Cascade Mountains. (One also sees Mt. Adams in places.) We were seeking apples and pears but the views alone are worth a leisurely drive–during any season, though I love the autumn weather and offerings.

We originally migrated from Michigan decades ago and still miss those big apple orchards, hayrides and up-close views of busy cider mills from our youth. Nothing quite as fine on a frosty day than a cup of steaming hot cider with a still-warm cinnamon sugared cake donut nearly melting in your mouth. This was (and is) a long tradition shared by untold numbers there, and when we grew up and later took our five kids, it was even more fun. There are not just the same offerings in Oregon, though close (apple strudel with ice cream and cider at Portland Nursery, for instance). But our fall outings make up for our Midwestern loss.

We’ll first stop by Drapers Girls Country Farm and U-Pick Orchards. We come here mostly because it has a quaint, almost worn feel and I find it inviting. A third generation farm now run by one family member and her three daughters, it offers ten different fruits. (The place below is a small rental house on the property.)

We wander about but purchase only a handful of apples here–we have a favorite orchard coming up next.

On we go, passing Oregon scenery I love so keep snapping pictures, even from the moving car.

Our destination is Kiyokawa Family Orchards, operating since 1911; their speciality is growing over 150 varieties of apples, pears, cherries, and stone fruit. And that means over one hundred varieties of apples, alone! We consistently find their operation clean, the staff knowledgeable and friendly, and the bounty exceptional.

We park amid a throng of cars; I try to avoid photographing people up too close. But there were a lot of visitors and apple tasters.

We wound our way back from viewing some of the orchards and, having decided to not pick our own but sample multitudes of choices, we found apple heaven as we expected. You pay $15 per bag, then fill them up with any type and as much as you want!
Below, our final indulgence, lugged to the hold of my car (a new compact SUV bought since our accident).

Happy with our many choices–whose names we have already forgotten–and munching on a couple different ones, our mouths watering with each satisfying bite, we start home.

Passed a old and empty, dilapidated country store that I had to stop and look over. It must have been humming with business once upon a time.

And we then followed the highway along the Columbia River within the Columbia River Gorge. Next week, I will take you back there for more.

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