My hometown of Hood River, Oregon, is a beautiful rural town of 5,000 people, nestled between the Columbia River and Mt. Hood, known for its picturesque orchard valleys, breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains, touristy boutiques, yummy wineries, and a wide range of year-round outdoor activities. Outdoor enthusiasts flock here in droves to ski, snowboard, mountain climb, wind surf, kite sail, waterski, camp, hike, cycle, run or walk, virtually 365 days a year.
While I love the beauty of our valley, I am (big surprise) not much of a nature enthusiast. My preferred downtime activities lean more towards solitude and relaxation. A massage on the beach (with a cabana boy holding my sippy cup of Cabernet) is #1 on my bucket list.
Some time ago, I was given a large, rectangular peridot that I decided to have set into a ring. Since our little town is also a bit of a mecca for bohemian artists, I quickly found an all-organic, vegan, one-with-the-earth budding jewelery designer that loved my idea of a raw, wire-bound ring, but cautioned me that oversize peridots are quite soft and it wouldn’t be advisable to wear it, say, rock climbing. Kenny cracked up and replied, “Uh, that won’t be a problem. She doesn’t do rocks.”
“Okay,” said Matt, “but I wouldn’t wear it windsurfing either.” I explained to young grasshopper that I’m also not inclined towards sports that require outfits worn by Halle Berry in Batman. On her, it was hot. On me, it’s a giant failed body girdle.
At this point, Kenny was standing back looking merrily amused, while Matt was beginning to look at me like I was a science experiment, as he searched for something I DO do.
“Mountain biking?” “Uh-uh. This entire valley is on a 45 degree incline. I only ride down the hill.”
“Snowboarding?” “Nope. If it’s cold enough to snow, I don’t want to be there.”
“Kite sailing?” “Are you NUTS? What goes up, must come down. ‘Nuf said.”
“Hiking??” “Boring. I grew up in this valley. I’ve seen enough flora and fauna to last a lifetime.”
“How about CAMPING?” Matt waved his arms, reaching wide for something he was sure everybody enjoyed. “Surely you like to camp??” By now, Kenny was having a marvelous time, laughing with unrestrained abandon (completely ignoring my whose-side-are-you-on glares), while I replied, dryly, “Yeah, that’s so me. Sleeping bags in the dirt, bears in your tent, freezing cold water for optional bathing, and poison oak up your privates” (don’t ask).
“Okay, then,” Matt sighed. “I’ll have your ring ready in a week. You can wear it every day. But I’m just curious. Do you do ANYTHING?” Okay, that hurt.
On the way home, I was seriously questioning my apparent lack of love for all things outdoorsy and if I truly was the loser that baby yogi’s expression certainly suggested, when I got a call from a good friend, asking if I wanted to go “wiking.” Seems several valley wineries had the genius idea of combining the local passion for the outdoors with tours of their grounds and tasting rooms. They call them “wiking tours,” which simply means “hiking through the wine country.” Well, NOW you have my attention. Evidently a few uber-marketers figured out that wine is to an adult what s’mores are to kids…a big, fat BRIBE to get you off Facebook and out into the wilderness for an entire weekend. (My second thought was that it’s the first fitness activity I’m aware of that requires a designated driver to get you home.) But what the hell, I’m IN.
And next week, when I see young Matthew, I’m telling him about “wamping.” Camping through the wine country. The Chamber of Commerce should put THAT in the Local Activities Guide. Then just watch ’em get in line. In the meantime, we’re off to somewhere called “Cabella’s.” Never been there, but Kenny says I need new boots. (And this day just keeps getting better.)
So we’ll see you back at the tent. We’re serving s’mores. And a fabulous Syrah.