Come Fly With Me, Come Fly, Let’s Fly Away

by Nancy Bestor

I’m not an aviation buff. I fly on planes to get me places, and don’t really know the difference between a 737, a 747 or a 787. I feel the same way about cars—they get me around, but I struggle with understanding, or even caring really, about the difference between a 4-cylinder and a 6-cylinder engine. Thus when Bob suggested we stop at the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum (WAAAM) in Hood River this summer, I plastered a smile on my face and said I’d be happy to visit. I may or may not have been lying.

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Boy was I surprised. With 100 antique aircraft, some dating as far back as 1917, and more than 130 cars, plus motorcycles and jeeps, the WAAAM truly has something for everyone. Each aircraft on display has been completely restored, and amazingly, every single one of them still flies on a regular basis. I was drawn to the pretty ones, those with beautifully colored paint jobs in teals and red, but they are all interesting to look at, and many have fascinating stories to go along with them.

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The Curtiss JN-4D “Jenny” for example, was the most popular training airplane in World War I. The Pietenpol Sky Scout, built in 1932, has a Ford Model A engine. Other planes on hand flew mail to Alaska, appeared in famous movies, and more!

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The car collection is just as impressive. From 1914 Ford Model T’s to 1957 Studebaker’s, it made me wish I had a much cooler car than my 2003 Toyota Sienna minivan, otherwise known as a “mom van.” Lest you think I’m a total dork, back in the day I did own a cherry red 1977 convertible Volkswagen bug. (I like to call those the glory days. But I digress.)

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The museum has so much to offer, and incredibly friendly docents are at the ready to answer any questions that might arise. WAAAM hosts Model T driving classes, aviation camps for kids, a monthly open house where visitors can ride in antique autos, an annual “fly-in”, swap meets, and much, much more. It’s amazing what this museum in Hood River, Oregon has to offer. We learned of this museum on Yelp, when we were looking for interesting things to do in the Hood River area, and the eight reviews-—each with five stars-—were the impetus for our stopping by. I highly recommend this museum if you’re in Hood River. It is well worth the $14 admission price. In the end I was very happy that we visited. And that’s no lie.

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Go To The Country, Build You a Home

by Nancy Bestor

peaches2I’ll admit, I’m guilty of forgetting just how beautiful my own backyard is. I’m the first one in line when planning a trip to an exotic location like Thailand or Belize, but am slow to explore parts of Oregon I’ve never visited. Thus when our family had a long weekend to vacation together this summer, I figured Eastern Oregon sounded good. We hadn’t ventured much farther than Bend when heading that direction, and thought we could all benefit with learning a little more about our home state. Unfortunately wildfires in the area had something to say about this though, and at the last minute we had to cancel our trip east and come up with a whole new five-day adventure on the fly. So Hood River became our new destination, and what a great choice it turned out to be!

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We found a last minute house rental across Hood River in White Salmon, Washington on www.airbnb.com. Our two bedroom house was spacious, well appointed, included a hot tub, and offered stunning views of Mount Hood. We spent time exploring the town of Hood River and lounging in the Columbia River, watching wind and kite surfers speed through the water, but perhaps my favorite activity was our drive along Hood River’s “fruit loop.” The Fruit Loop is about 35 miles of orchards, fruit stands, farmlands and sweet little towns and communities. Summer is the perfect time to visit, because the fruit and vegetables are as picturesque as they are delicious.

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We enjoyed peaches, nectarines, cherries, and delicious jams at Packer Orchards & Bakery. We bought locally made jewelry and caught whiffs of lavender at Hood River Lavender Farms. We petted alpacas and caressed the buttery soft yarns and fabrics at Cascade Alpacas and Foothills Yarn & Fiber. We bought corn on the cob and tomatoes at Kiyokawa Family Orchards, and drank fresh apple cider at Fox-Tail Cider. And we listened to live music and ate delicious pulled pork sandwiches and hearty smoked ribs at Apple Valley Country Store and Bakery. This drive reminded me a bit of my childhood, when we would drive out to Brentwood, California and eat peaches. We may have picked peaches too, but it’s the eating that I remember. Imagine that?

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It took us a few hours to eat our way through drive the 35 miles, and we stopped at barely a third of the 31 official stands on the Fruit Loop. It’s safe to say our car was heavier at the end of our journey than it was at the beginning. It turns out my own backyard really is beautiful, and it’s pretty darn delicious too.