Behind the Scenes of Our Funtivities

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Unplanned Funtivities with Walmart Christmas Onesies

We decided to spend a couple of days in Hood River and get in a couple hikes before we head north to Bellevue for the Christmas holiday.  We had looked at going to Cougar or down to the southern coastline, but decided the shorter drive after work and snow was what we wanted. 

Natalie having fun in the fresh snow

Natalie having fun in the fresh snow

Thursday after work we headed out for the slow drive out I-84E to Hood River.  But this drive was much better than the +4hr drive down to southern Oregon like we planned.  Natalie booked a familiar hotel for us to spend a couple nights in.  We don’t ask for much and really just need a place to feel safe and hang our coats.  The Sunset motel seems to be perfect for us.  Only a mile from down town Hood River, just off the freeway and right across the street from a Safeway and other stores.  The room isn’t big, but enough room for us to spread out. 

The weather was not supposed to be great in the afternoon so we weren’t sure how to spend our Saturday afternoon.  We wanted to go somewhere with a view of Mt Hood and maybe not too many people.  We settled on Chinidere Mountain; a hike we have done during the summer with some amazing views of hood and the forest below.  We thought there might be a light dusting of snow, but nothing we couldn’t hike through. 


We arrived on FSR 1310 and began to ascend.  There was a sign mentioning that there was “no winter maintenance” on the road ahead.  With a lifted 4x4, I wasn’t too worried about the road.  Our first obstacle was a rock slide that threw some rocks and boulders onto the road.  We took a few minutes to clear out the worst of the rocks and boulders and then pressed on.  We then started to hit snow, which got deeper as we ascended.  As we trail-blazed and the snow got deeper the truck started to hop and bounce around.  The truck was working harder to get through the snow and I started to question if we should try and go another 2.5mi in the snow to the trail head.  The only tracks in the snow were from a fox and my Goodyear tires.  This meant we were alone!  Great for the solitude and quiet, but not so good if we have a breakdown or get stuck.  It was time to pause and come up with a new plan.  Looking up towards where we would probably be hiking, the clouds started to roll in and we would not have a great view from the top.  On top of that I didn’t bring a sweatshirt or something to wear under my jacket, so I would have been cold the whole way. 

Our new plan was to get out the Walmart Christmas onesies, crack a beer and take some funny photos.  I had this idea in mind of story-boarding the photos when I shared them on social media.  I tried to craft them around a naughty elf breaking into my cooler.  Having fresh snow and the place to ourselves we had a blast.  We ended spending 2 hours goofing around. 

This was an unplanned spontaneous afternoon in the snow with Walmart onesies and had a blast.  We seem to always structure our outings and they are pretty much predictable.  But days like this are my favorite; where we make something out of nothing.  These are probably some of my favorite goofing around images that we have done.  So, get out there and don’t be discouraged if everything doesn’t go as you planned.  Sometimes those unplanned afternoons are the most memorable. 


Get Outside:  Metolius River Trail

We followed up the Tam McArthur Rim trail with the Metolius River trail on Sunday.  A couple years ago we had a hiking adventure from trailhead following the river downstream to the hatchery at Wizard Falls and then back to the car.  This time we drove to Wizard Falls at the Hatchery with the thought of getting a photo of the blue water that flows under the bridge and then go see the fish at the hatchery.  Such a beautiful drive through Camp Sherman down to the hatchery.  The area was empty and so there was no traffic to distract me as I drove us to our destination. 

The weather was having some fun with us.  Sprinkling on and off with the sun and blue skies poking through every now and then.  The question became do we bring the rain jackets or not.  Ultimately being from the Pacific Northwest, we erred on the side of caution and brought our coats.  Seemed like we would put them on and then the sprinkling would stop.  Take them off and then it would start sprinkling again. 

Fly Fishing 2.jpg

Our hike took us upstream a mile or so in search of some fly fisherman.  I really wanted to photograph fly fisherman out in the river.  I was rewarded on this trip with 4 fishermen on various parts of the river.  Although I was happy to exercise my 24-70mm 2.8, in some instances I wish I brought my other heavyweight the 70-200mm 2.8.  I needed a little reach through some of the tree branches.  Regardless I was not disappointed by what I put into the can. 


Hiking off season has some benefits – no crowds.  We probably saw a total of 10 people on the trail system.  There were a few more visiting the hatchery, but that was it.  Once we returned to the hatchery, we decided to keep hiking and exploring down the river.  Neither of us had done the whole trail and the weather was looking promising enough.  I believe it is 6mi roundtrip from Wizard Falls.  You hike down one side of the river and then cross the bridge to travel upstream on the other side.  Downstream we found a couple fisherman that I could get a good angle on and photograph.  I was in photographer heaven because of the fall colors still hanging around, the peaceful nature of the Metolius river and catching people out doing what they love – fishing!

He had the river to himself

He had the river to himself


Once back in the car we saw the large dark cloud that was hanging over Hwy20 and our route home.  Although I was grateful it held off on dumping on us on the trail, I knew we were in for a long ride home.  Sure, enough the heavens opened up and the wipers were on full speed.  Thankfully we had to slow our pace due to a severe accident near the junction of Hwy20 and 22 involving 4-5 vehicles.  Honestly, I wasn’t looking forward to driving down the curves in the pouring rain.  A lifted truck with knobby tires doesn’t instill confidence around wet corners.  Thankfully we made it home in good time and in one piece. 



I really am glad we took the time to explore down stream and enjoy the fall colors.  We were thinking of hitting a trail on the way home instead.  But we would have missed having the river to ourselves and being able to enjoy those lasting fall colors.  If you go bring a few quarters to feed the fish in the pond. It is fun to see all those fish swarm to the food.