Monday, October 18, 2004

Who's your huckleberry?

What a wonderful, wonderful weekend. Just what we needed. We decided on the spur of the moment last week to get away to somewhere sort of new and different from our typical road trip to Mom’s. We headed to Hood River up in the Gorge. Now, technically we’ve both been there before (last time staying at the quaint little Hood River Hotel but this time we decided to do the Mt. Hood Scenic Railroad which I had never been on, and stay at a B&B. It was Autumn Fest in Hood River, so most B&B’s in town were booked up. I found one with a vacancy 20 minutes away on the Washington side up the White Salmon River in the mountains, called Husum Highlands . Really, terrific. I'm serious. Very isolated and quiet - out in the woods. Beautiful Victorian-style home (though only 10 yrs old). Incredible view. We saw deer. I impressed a recently transplanted So. Californian couple with my recognition of huckleberry jam. Hey, I'm a native - it's kind of required knowledge.

The railroad trip was neat – they had a Harvest Fest up in Parkdale at the 1 hr. stopover with home brewed sodapop and *real* kettle korn, artsy booths and live hippy music. Lots of kids, which I was amazed to see totally enthralled with riding the choo-choo train that somehow kept them totally entertained for the 4 hour trip. It seems like you can’t get a kid away from their video games and T.V.’s for more than an hour these days without their getting bored in a hurry. More amusing were the “bigger” kids of the male variety who were just as enthralled, and took every opportunity to check out the old diesel engine and caboose, regaling their companions with tons of train trivia in between. You could tell who had train sets as kids.

My native berry knowledge failed me on the drive up, though, where we were fascinated by these bushes that had beautiful silverish blue/lavendar clumps hanging from them. They looked like miniature grapes or hydrangeas. Our wise B&B host informed us they were wild Elderberries – apparently of the blue variety. Absolutely incredible in pies, jellies & wine, he said, but they take careful preparation. Apparently only the ripe berry is edible – the rest of the plant (and unripe berries) can be toxic. So when a group of women were perplexed by the same bush on the train trip we got to play guest lecturer. It was fun.

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