This past Wednesday, our department traveled to Hood River, Oregon, for a day to celebrate the completion of a major project. Hood River, a small, funky little town in the Columbia River Gorge, has some neat little shops and a couple of good restaurants. Our main activity for the day was to ride the historic Hood River Railroad.
Being a Wednesday in the off-season, we basically had the entire car to ourselves, which was nice, and I found the change of pace and the beautiful scenery relaxing. The train used to wind itself up the hill through evergreen forests and fruit orchards -- the Hood River Valley is famous for its apples -- to the small town of Parkdale, but a flood at the end of 2006 caused more than $1 million in damage to the tracks, so for the time being the train only goes as far as Odell.
Now, I grew up in Oregon, but I had never heard of Odell. And now I know why.
There is so little of interest in Odell that as we disembarked, the conductor encouraged us to visit the Chevron to see its collection of antique toys. So, there being nothing else to do for the 30 minutes in which we were deposited in this backwater, we dutifully trudged over to the gas station and gazed politely at a few shelves covered haphazardly with rusty, dusty junk. I did manage to find one highlight.
Truly, we agreed, this had been the longest half-hour of our lives, as we stood in a parking lot petting a random black lab that had appeared from nowhere.
Once back in Hood River, we had a delicious lunch at a restaurant whose name I forgot to notice. The service was good, but our waitress had some issues with pronunciation. When I asked about the red wine options, she said they had a merlot (correct) and a sangiovese, which she pronounced san-JEE-oh-VESS-ee. Close enough, I guess.
Then as she was describing the specials, she mentioned that one dish came with "nokey." What the hell is "nokey", I wondered; but not wanting to appear ignorant in front of my co-workers, I refrained from asking. Fortunately, someone else took the leap for me: "What is nokey?" "Oh, nokey are small Italian potato dumplings."
For dessert she offered us pot de creme, which, truthfully, she called paht-duh-cream. I'm told it was delicious, but I opted for the cream broolee.